 Jul 2018

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On 2017 Jan 03, Donald Forsdyke commented:
ASSUME A SPHERICAL COW?
Following a multidisciplinary study of milk production at a dairy farm, a physicist returned to explain the result to the farmer. Drawing a circle she began: "Assume the cow is a sphere … ." (1) This insider math joke may explain Koonin’s puzzlement that "most biologists do not pay much attention to population genetic theory" (2).
The bold statement that "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics," cannot be accepted by biologists when evolution is portrayed in terms of just two variables, "an interplay of selection and random drift," constituting a "core theory." While mathematical biologists might find it "counterintuitive" that "the last common eukaryotic ancestor had an intron density close to that in extant animals," this is not necessarily so for their less mathematical counterparts. They are not so readily inclined to believe that an intron "is apparently there just because it can be" (3).
While expediently adopting "null models" to make the maths easier, population geneticists are not "refuted by a new theoretical development." They have long been refuted by old theoretical developments, as illustrated by the early twentieth century clash between the Mendelians and the Biometricians (4). It is true that by adjusting "selection coefficient values" and accepting that "streamlining is still likely to efficiently purge true functionless sequences," the null models can closer approximate reality. But a host of further variables – obvious to many biologists – still await the acknowledgement of our modern Biometricians.
1.Krauss LM (1994) Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed. Jonathan Cape, London.
2.Koolin EV (2016) Splendor and misery of adaptation, or the importance of neutral null for understanding evolution. BMC Biology 14:114 Koonin EV, 2016
3.Forsdyke DR (2013) Introns First. Biological Theory 7, 196203.
4.Cock AG, Forsdyke DR (2008) "Treasure Your Exceptions." The Science and Life of William Bateson. Springer, New York.
This comment, imported by Hypothesis from PubMed Commons, is licensed under CC BY.

 Feb 2018

europepmc.org europepmc.org

On 2017 Jan 03, Donald Forsdyke commented:
ASSUME A SPHERICAL COW?
Following a multidisciplinary study of milk production at a dairy farm, a physicist returned to explain the result to the farmer. Drawing a circle she began: "Assume the cow is a sphere … ." (1) This insider math joke may explain Koonin’s puzzlement that "most biologists do not pay much attention to population genetic theory" (2).
The bold statement that "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics," cannot be accepted by biologists when evolution is portrayed in terms of just two variables, "an interplay of selection and random drift," constituting a "core theory." While mathematical biologists might find it "counterintuitive" that "the last common eukaryotic ancestor had an intron density close to that in extant animals," this is not necessarily so for their less mathematical counterparts. They are not so readily inclined to believe that an intron "is apparently there just because it can be" (3).
While expediently adopting "null models" to make the maths easier, population geneticists are not "refuted by a new theoretical development." They have long been refuted by old theoretical developments, as illustrated by the early twentieth century clash between the Mendelians and the Biometricians (4). It is true that by adjusting "selection coefficient values" and accepting that "streamlining is still likely to efficiently purge true functionless sequences," the null models can closer approximate reality. But a host of further variables – obvious to many biologists – still await the acknowledgement of our modern Biometricians.
1.Krauss LM (1994) Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed. Jonathan Cape, London.
2.Koolin EV (2016) Splendor and misery of adaptation, or the importance of neutral null for understanding evolution. BMC Biology 14:114 Koonin EV, 2016
3.Forsdyke DR (2013) Introns First. Biological Theory 7, 196203.
4.Cock AG, Forsdyke DR (2008) "Treasure Your Exceptions." The Science and Life of William Bateson. Springer, New York.
This comment, imported by Hypothesis from PubMed Commons, is licensed under CC BY.
