Friday, December 13, 2013

Is the "Modern Synthesis" effectively dead?

The "Modern Synthesis," or modern evolutionary synthesis, refers to a framework of evolutionary theory developed and promoted by prominent biologists in the 1940s. The term comes from the subtitle of a 1942 book by Julian Huxley. The central theme was the integration of "classic" evolution with population genetics.

Although the original version was fairly broad, the later versions of the "Modern Synthesis" were much less so. The so-called "hardening" of the Modern Synthesis has been documented by many historians; notably, Stephen Jay Gould. By the time of the Darwin Centennial (1959) most biologists thought of the "Modern Synthesis" as a form of Darwinism + population genetics where natural selection was pretty much the only game in town.

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