As a geneticist who does not work directly in evolution, but loves
the topic as much as the next lab nerd, I have been reading the Mol-Evol
board. I have truly been enjoying the recent discussion on rat/mouse
divergence, and molecular clock calibration. Some good discussions to
keep my brain from being fried on the narrow topic of my next plasmid prep.
In the meantime, I have seen an old pet pieve of mine rearing it's
head in the back of these discussions. I am as radical and oppinionated
as the next guy, but in the lab I tend to be very conservative. It has
always bothered me that many evolution biologists sound like they are
trying very hard to make their work sound more radical rather than more
conservative. Not that this tendency is restricted to evolution biologists,
but that literature seems somewhat predisposed to it. The recent discussions
of which is more valid, a molecular or paleontologic clock shows this too.
Some folks seem to be trying to say that one side is more correct than
the other. I always learned that what we are trying to do is to create a
cohesive unifying theory to explain the natural universe, not a bunch of
fragments that can never be reconciled.
This tendency to try to claim that one fragment of a theory excludes
all other possibilities (eg which is correct punctuated equilibrium or
gradualism, as if the 2 are mutually exclusive for all cases) only divides the
field. Many ideas are compatible if viewed as explanations for the specific
data studied, but no more (not every hypothesis can cover all situations).
Nature need not be looked at as so monolithic, and all good studies can be
used to compliment each other to develope a complete and unified theory
What I mean to say here is that I would like to see less temper and
ego, and more working together in the field. There is some, I agree, but I
sure would like to see more.