Bonus Friday link: controversial ideas in evolutionary biology

Andrew Hendry just posted the first batch of results from his super-interesting and very fun poll on controversial ideas in evolutionary biology.

Related: results of our poll on controversial ideas in ecology.

Some quick takes on Andrew’s results:

  • I bow to Andrew’s superior sample size. 532 responses–wow!
  • The most controversial ideas in evolution are just as controversial as the most controversial ideas in ecology. So if you were depressed that there’s still wide variance of opinion about ideas ecologists have been researching and discussing for decades, well, now you have a choice. You can be even more depressed that the same phenomenon occurs in evolutionary biology–or cheered because they’re even worse at resolving controversies than we are (many of their controversies are longer-standing than ours).
  • A plurality of evolutionary biologists think sympatric speciation isn’t rare?!
  • I didn’t expect so much support for the idea (which I agree with myself) that most adaptation is based on genes of small effect
  • A bimodal distribution of opinion on the idea that neutral processes can be ignored as an explanation for trait evolution! Interesting. We only found one idea about which ecologists have a bimodal distribution of opinion, so I wasn’t sure if Andrew would find any.
  • Looking forward to future posts, particularly a breakdown of expert vs. non-expert opinion on each idea. Contrasting expert vs. non-expert opinion was the most eye-opening aspect of our poll results. I’m betting that the experts on controversial evolutionary ideas will be more divided in their views than non-experts, just like in ecology.

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