FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is Neo-Darwinism Dead?

by SUZAN MAZUR

Symbiogeneticist Lynn Margulis, who was awarded the US Presidential Medal for Science in 1999, says “survival of the fittest” is a “capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit interpretation of Darwin” and that natural selection is “neither the source of heritable novelty nor the entire evolutionary process”. Margulis has pronounced neo-Darwinism “dead”, since there’s no adequate evidence in the literature that random mutations result in new species. In a recent conversation with me from Balliol College at Oxford University, where she is spending the year as Eastman Professor, Margulis explored whether “evolution”, i.e., the Anglo-Saxon “take” on the history of life, might be viewed by some as being “racist”. Excerpts from that interview follow.

SUZAN MAZUR: What is the significance of the Rome evolution conference [organized by the Jesuits at Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana)] and why was it limited to US-European papers?

Lynn Margulis: I didn’t know it had been. You mean no Chinese or Japanese?

SUZAN MAZUR: There are no Russian, Chinese, African, Indian or Japanese presenters listed.

Lynn Margulis: This is not a policy of limitation, this fact resulted from historical circumstances.

It must be deeply understood that the term “evolution,” which is not used by Charles Darwin — he called the process “descent with modification” — is Anglo-Saxon. It is very much a British-American “take” on the history of life, traditionally limited to Anglophones.

Most English-speaking scientists think in hushed hagiographic terms when they mention Charles Darwin, comparable to English thought about physics before Einstein when Newton was the only game in town. It’s a very English nationalist phenomenon, especially as Darwin was later interpreted.

SUZAN MAZUR: Do you think the Rome conference organizers had that in mind when they were inviting papers?

Lynn Margulis: No I don’t think so. It probably didn’t even occur to them that the guest list on their “international meeting” might strike some as racist!

The Chinese and the Navajos lack any tradition in evolution, although they both enjoy superb medicine (healing) traditional practice.

Professor Tom Glick, a former colleague of mine at Boston University — he’s wonderful — wrote a book, The Comparative Reception of Darwin, with chapters by country.

A joint student of ours suggested the study needed a chapter on the Chinese reception of Darwinism. The book has a chapter on Japan, Latin American coverage, Spain, many countries — on how Darwinism was perceived and received in the century between 1859 and about 1970.

This young man, a doctoral candidate in the history of science, went to China for a year and discovered no tradition of Darwinian evolution there. He ended up studying aspects of Chinese medicine. Also, my colleague Tacheeni Scott, a fine cell biologist, a Navajo, told me that his culture has no concept whatsoever of evolution. They just have no tradition.

SUZAN MAZUR: But there is significant research on evolution taking place in India and Japan. [Hundreds Of Natural-selection Studies Could Be Wrong, Study Demonstrates]

I haven’t looked at African evolution studies but I did interview scientists in Africa in the 1980s for Omni magazine — they were trained by the Soviets, so there must be important African thinking about evolution.

Lynn Margulis: Most of Africa was colonized by Europe. Let’s put it this way. In the Russian equivalent of the Encyclopedia Britannica, some 250 pages describe symbiogenesis. You have a point. Certain countries are expected to be excluded because they lack traditional study of evolution. . . .

SUZAN MAZUR’s reports have appeared in the Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Archaeology, Connoisseur, Omni and others, as well as on PBS, CBC and MBC. She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox Television News programs. She can be reached at: sznmzr@aol.com

Suzan Mazur is the author of  The Altenberg 16: An Expose’ of the Evolution Industry and of a forthcoming book on Origin of Life.  Her reports have appeared in the Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Archaeology, Connoisseur,Omni and others, as well as on PBS, CBC and MBC.  She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox Television News programs.  For a few years along the way she was a runway fashion model, visiting Iran in 1976 as part of a US bicentennial goodwill tour of the Middle East (former CIA Director Richard Helms was then ambassador to Iran and attended the Tehren fashion gala). 




 
  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail