Thursday 1 August 2013

Carnival of Evolution 62: The Whig History

Whig history is abridged retro-spective. Double Refraction has a discerning post on different shades. A whiggish image of the evolution of man is the marching band of hominids.

ADAM BENTON explains why this picture is not only abridged but also false at EvoAnthditto ZEN FAULKES at Neurodojo. It is also sexist. I am not sure, however, whether the female version at the left would be received as non-sexist. It surely is as triumphant, and hopefully as funny, as its male version above.

When it comes to the history of evolutionary theory, a whiggish image could look something like this:
I leave it to the readers to come up with a female version (including, for example, Maria Sibylla Merian, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard).

Arranging July's posts that I found interesting or entertaining as well as the few submitted by others according to a Whig history of evolutionary theory in the following is purely ornamental and does, of course, not imply any whiggishness on the side of the contributors.

Evolution vs Creation
Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck
KEN WEISS poses a Question of the Campagna? The poignant side of 'Intelligent Design' at The Mermaid's Tale.

JOHN S. WILKINS is Evolving Thoughts about the animal nature of humans here and here.

Ball State Univerity hires intelligent design leader to teach astronomy, says SETH SLABAUGH at The Star Press.

PETER keeps an Eye on the ICR and on Creationism at University.

EVIN BARIŞ ALTINTAŞ guest posts at SciLogos: Turkey’s science agency says evolution is ‘too controversial’ (see also here).

MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI deals with Plantiga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism at Rationally Speaking. Platinga managed to create a paradox that pits evolution against naturalism, but the conclusions do not necessarily follow from the premises.

The equivalent of Batesian and agressive mimicry in academic publishing is described by CHRIS SMITH at Nothing in biology makes sense.

Variation & Selection 
Charles Darwin 
JOSH JONES shares the vintage documentary The Blind Watchmaker at Open Culture.

At Aeon, LEWIS SPURGIN sets his research into a broad context about the role of chance in evolutionary change.

CHARLES GOODNIGHT introduces The multivariate breeder’s equation and explains the founder effect with drift and epistasis at Evolution in Structured Populations.

XAVIER reveals the trick behind 'magic' traits at eco-evolutionary dynamics.

See a newly discovered, historic photo of Darwin and Wallace together at BUG GIRL's Blog.

CARL ZIMMER describes how Archaeopteryx becomes a minor find among a crowd as new finds of feathered dinosaurs and primitive birds Loom large.

Particulate Inheritance 
Gregor Mendel
Mathbionerd M. WILSON SAYRES explains evolutionary changes in the Young sex chromosomes of Silene latifolia.

NATHANIEL COMFORT asks whether the discovery of The Arsehole Gene will change the perspective on a socially stigmatized group at Genotopia.

Researcher at work, SIMON URIBE-CONVERS, describes his research on parasitic plants (Bartsia) at Beacon.

ANNE BUCHANAN updates you on progress in gene therapy at The Mermaid's Tale.

Soma & Germ-Line 
August Weismann
The Conversation of JUSTIN ST. JOHN invites you to Meet Mama, Papa and Mama: how three parent IVF works.

Feeling older than you are? DAVID MORRISON from The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks can help you understand.

CARL ZIMMER asks What good is half a sucker? at The Loom and finds hints in the development and fossils of Remora fishes.

Arizona State University fused cancer research with physics geekdom in the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. Surprise! The new theory is sophisticated and evo-devo, but the physicists PAUL DAVIES and CHARLES LINEWEAVER came up with it.

Mutation vs Selection
Thomas Hunt Morgan

Researcher at work, SUDARSHAN CHARI, explains his research about compensatory mutations or 'context dependence' in evolution at Beacon.

Every non-lethal genome position is variable in the human population says M. WILSON SAYRES (AKA mathbionerd) quoting Tuuli Lappalainen citing Daniel Wegmann at Panda's Thumb.

RAZIB KHAN sets new finding on genetic hitchhiking into context at Gene Expression.

ANNE BUCHANAN thinks that The extent of what we can't know about gene function is infinite at The Mermaid's Tale.

The Synthesis
Ronald A. Fisher
ZEN FAULKES relates how Everything is connected and a snail in a lake helps a crab in the sea at NeuroDojo.

While Teaching Biology, MARC SROUR starts to change his mind about non-genetic inheritance in evolution.

DAVID MORRISON highlights the achievements of a largely forgotten historical source of The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks.

The NCSE shares a preview of "Darwin's Lost World" by MARTIN BRASIER, a tale of scientists taking a gap in the record as a challenge for further research rather than an excuse for dismissing Darwin's theory.

BRADLY ALICEA argues from non-optimlity at Tumbld Thoughts and Synthetic Daisies (see also here).

The Double Helix
Watson & Crick
On the occasion of several anniversaries, RICKI LEWIS reviews the history of DNA forensic profiling at the DNA Science Blog of PLoS.

MIKE WHITE is Finding function in the genome with a null hypothesis (see also part 2) at the Finch + Pea.

MARC SROUR shares a recipe for extracting DNA at home that is suitable for children at Teaching Biology.

W.D. Hamilton
MATT ZWOLINSKI defends William Graham Sumner against Richard Hofstadter's social Darwinism slur at Libertarianism (see also here).

Has the brain center been discovered that is involved in ideas getting viral? PsyPost reports on How the brain creates the ‘buzz’ that helps ideas spread.

RANDAL S. OLSON models swarming behavior in a digital selfish herd and realized that Evolution isn't over until you click stop.

The Darwin Wars 2.0 feature evopsych vs freethought. One frontier delineates an anti-Whig history -- a Torie Story as it were -- seeing human evolution frozen in the Flintstones' stage instead of progressing triumphant. I abstain from taking sides by adding any link. Just follow the smoke.

Individuals vs Groups 
George C. Williams
Not a blog, but free and very lucid, STUART WEST & ANDY GARDNER defend inclusive fitness as the maximand of adaptation in the latest issue of Current Biology. JOHN MAYNARD SMITH once called inclusive fitness "an absolute swine to calculate," in an interview deposited at Web of Stories.

In Evolving Economics JASON COLLINS comments on a piece that David Sloan Wilson published at Aeon.

BRIAN McGILL wonders whether deans are committing the same error as hen breeders at Dynamic Ecology.

Females & Males 
John Maynard Smith
Why Evolution is True, a blog (sic:-) by JERRY COYNE, shows the Emei mustache toad - another freak of nature.

SARAH HIRD revives a debate about the lost penis bone of human males at Nothing in biology makes sense (see also here).

I doubt that the data On earwig parthenogenesis warrant the conclusions of a recent paper and show the waxing and waning of interest in the evolutionary significance of sexual reproduction via Ngrams.

Gilf el Kebir: Cave of Swimmers, Neolithic art
ADAM MARCUS of Retraction Watch informs us that a Journal pulls insect-global warming paper after questions arise over results.

Elaine Morgan died aged 92. Her acclaim swings between great feminist and bad evolutionist.

The Onion has American voices on Jane Auten's replacing Charles Darwin on the ten pound note.

[Excepting the tinkered "Whig images" at the top.]
  • LAMARCK: Galerie des naturalistes de J. Pizzetta, Ed. Hennuyer, 1893, via Wikimedia Commons.
  • DARWIN: portrait by George Richmond, 1840, © D. Bayes / Lebrecht Music&Arts.
  • MENDEL: US National Library of Medicine (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.
  • WEISMANN: Edwin G. Conklin, "August Weismann" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 54, No. 220. (Oct. - Dec., 1915), pp. iii-xii.
  • MORGAN: created for the 1891 Johns Hopkins yearbook of 1891, see Shine and Hobel (1976). Thomas Hunt Morgan. The University Press of Kentucky.
  • FISHER: Original uploader was Bletchley at en.wikipedia, Released under the GNU Free Documentation License; PD-OLD-70.
  • WATSON & CRICK: Structure of DNA, 30 April 2009, The Pauling Blog (go there for excerpts of a biography on Ava Helen Pauling and much more information related to Linus Pauling).
  • HAMILTON: University of New England, Human Nature Project, Hamilton Memorial Lecture (
  • WILLIAMS: A Conversation With George C. Williams by Frans Roes (
  • MAYNARD SMITH: Back cover of "The Theory of Evolution." A Pelican Book by Penguin, 1958, my scan.
  •  GILF EL KEBIR: Cave of Swimmers, rock art, © Angelika Mair, 2008.* 

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CoE needs volunteers for the next issues. If you trawl the web for posts related to evolutionary biology anyway, it will not be hard - though the ratio of external submissions to host submissions seems to be a shrinking.