April 03, 2007

Controversy in Evolution: Is the Tree of Life on the way out?

via The Evolution List

More and more details about how actual genetic information is changed and interchanged amongst organisms - even across species barriers - is confronting the commonly accepted paradigm of the tree and life.

Bacteria commonly interchange genetic data via conjugation, so its becoming apparent trying to draw a phylogenic tree and inferring that it represents a precise blueprint for common lineage is possibly pushes the data too far.

Paradigms of science being confronted isn't anything new. And best of all those confronting thsi paradigm are pointing to actual real examples and lines of evidence and providing a new real paradigm to replace it.

The sad thing is real hardcore evolutionary controversies like this get hijacked by nutjobs at places like the Intelligent Design institute as evidence that evolutionary theory is falling apart at the seems. They seriously don't understand science at all. This sort of discourse makes evolutionary theory stronger, not weaker. Trying to usurp it with superstition and animism is just plain silly, and actually interferes with this natural process of paradigm shifting.

More than evolution, this paradigm shift "attacks" (if we choose to use such volatile language) Linnean taxonomy classification. Really it is how modern molecular biology understanding (facilitated by evolution) is showing that our meagre mortal classification schemes are lacking in their understanding of the entirety of the whole. This paradigm shift will improve our understanding of evolution theory.

Get down with the entropy.


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