Darwin Day Lecture - Bad Biology: How Adaptationist Thinking Corrupts Science
In 1979, Gould and Lewontin published an important paper, "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme", in which they deplored the narrow focus on seeing evolution as only a process of adaptation. They further criticized the field of evolutionary biology for perpetuating this pattern of flawed thinking.
Biologist PZ Myers bemoans that their warnings have gone unheeded in some biological sub-disciplines. He'll be discussing a few examples of bad evolutionary biology, including the "human biodiversity" movement that is little more than a collection of pseudoscientific rationalizations for racism; evolutionary psychology, which seeks to explain modern human biology with imaginary scenarios of adaptive constraints from 10,000 years ago; and the ENCODE project, which was an obvious and overt exercize in adaptive bias applied to genomic data. A common thread among these examples is an excessive reliance on adaptationist thinking and a lack of appreciation of the diversity of mechanisms underlying our evolutionary history.
Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota Morris, specializes in undergraduate education, and evolutionary and developmental biology. He is the founder and co-author of the Pharyngula science blog and the author of the book The Happy Atheist. Myers received his doctorate in biology at the University of Oregon. His motto is "Everything is the way it is because it got that way" ...that you can't understand the state of anything without comprehending the processes that led to it.
This lecture will be repeated at 4:30 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. in Costa Mesa. Hosted by the CFI Community of Orange County.
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