User:Thompsma

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"Hello - I am diligent and persistent editor."

That was the first sentence I had in my description before I tried to edit evolution. I have "mostly" resigned from Wikipedia, because I no longer believe in the mission. On rare occasions I will make an anonymous change. There are some wonderful articles in here, but when it comes to evolution and other articles that are culturally controversial Wikipedia has a problem.

There is a tension between religion and evolution where some editors and even some scientists have barricaded themselves into a standard or "conventional" narrative on evolution. Unfortunately, this has caused a restriction on the free and liberal enterprise that editors may have the opportunity to experience in other articles.

You will no longer find my volunteered assistance in Wikipedia discussion. I have other places to spend my time than to be censured by a mob of standard model protectors. The paragraphs below identify some of the conceptual issues with the evolution article. Most of my time was originally spent on writing ecology. However, it is not just the content or the conceptual issues that I have a problem with. It is the constant protectionism and prohibition on editorial changes. It takes months to argue out a singular point and once a change is made it is quickly redacted. There is no earnest discussion on the points, because the discussion quickly diminishes into childish distractions. This prevents any meaningful change to the article. Editors need to give time for components of the article to take shape. When I developed ecology it was a complete mess. It was done in stages. If I had been prevented from making changes or badgered in the process, there would have been no way for the page to develop. Evolution is being prohibited from development in fear of change.

Evolution in Wikipedia is not an accurate portrayal on the philosophy or science. It is a reductionist video game interpretation that Stephen J. Gould, Richard Lewontin, Sewall Wright and many other evolutionary biologists disagreed with. It is primarily a singular model of gene or trait elimination followed by Malthusian replacement. The top 1/2 of the article is filled with images on genetics and lacks any details on phylogenetics or evolutionary trees. The main image is a kind of circular tree, but it hardly does justice to the procedures that are used to systematically test and provide an explanatory context for evolutionary relations. This presentation leads to a kind of ignorance on the evolutionary process. It presents a bias in favor bean bag genetics, while giving a secondary subsidiary presentation on developmental biology, ecology and systematics as though they are separate rather than integrated into the overall theory.

The first sentence of the article essentially equates evolution with change. However, it is abundantly clear that evolution is not synonymous with change - it is also about "the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". Preservation is central to the theory. Inheritance preserves traits through time. Evolution is not just an accounting of "the change in the inherited characteristics..." as the current lead sentence to the article states. It is the preservation of those characteristics that has allowed evolutionary biologists to understand the connections and relations among species. This why we have the term homology.

The article's bean-bag genetics is also faced with the problem of novelty that Sewall Wright solved:

"A higher-order randomness due to accidental fixation of even nonadvantageous genotypes in small populations produces interpopulational variation that may be selected and that also determines the background against which selection continues."

"The standard model of population genetics assigns a fixed relative fitness value to each genotype in the population. But the evidence is abundant that finesses are often, if not usually, variable from causes internal to the population demography. Fitnesses are dependent on population density, on the relative frequency of genotypes in the population, as for example in cases of selection for mimicry, and on the mixture of interacting genotypes." (Richard Lewontin)

The Wikipedia evolution article gives a poor overview on the "standard model of population genetics", largely ignoring a rich history of evolutionary biology from paleontology, developmental biology, biogeography and other diverse and robust areas of research. This may sound complex, but there are simple ways to portray these important contributions to the theory of evolution so that the world can really know what it is all about. People may have different opinions, but it takes weeks of debate to make even an single edit to a single sentence in the evolution article! Things are debated to death even if you have referenced evidence to support the content.

A mob of editors in the Wikipedia evolution article have strapped a chastity belt onto the article preventing meaningful collaborative contribution. There is a large opportunity to improve the article, but who would be willing to waste weeks debating every single point only to have their edits deleted despite an earnest effort to represent the theory properly and to make an honest contribution?

Evolution is not just about genes mutating. As a theory, genetics offers wonderful insight into the diversity and history of life on this planet. However, it is meaningless unless integrated into the ecosystems of reality. If you read the first paragraph of the evolutionary article and if you were to iterate the process described, then ask if it is a sufficient model to explain the diversity and history of life. It isn't even close.

Although, no science article should claim that it is a complete representation of the theory, much less reality, there is always room for improvement. There are a great many thinkers, publishers, and peer-reviewed scientists who have given a very different story on evolution than the one presented, Darwin inclusive. Unfortunate for the audience of the world that we have a dismal presentation of such a beautiful theory.

Darwin had an appreciation and an understanding of the evolutionary process long before we had discovered genes, yet you would think that the theory is solely based on genetic mutation:

"As with the varieties of the stock, so with social insects, selection has been applied to the family, and not to the individual, for the sake of gaining a serviceable end. Hence we may conclude that slight modifications of structure or of instinct, correlated with the sterile condition of certain members of the community, have proved advantageous: consequently the fertile males and females have flourished, and transmitted to their fertile offspring a tendency to produce sterile members with the same modifications. This process must have been repeated many times, until that prodigious amount of difference between the fertile and sterile females of the same species has been produced, which we see in many social insects." (Charles Darwin, 1876).

My Contributions[edit]

Main Author[edit]

Contributor[edit]

Pages created[edit]

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Awards[edit]

Bio barnstar2.png The Bio-star
For the excellent work you have put into Conservation biology and other biology-related articles, I award you this Barnstar. Epipelagic (talk) 22:07, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Barnstar-atom3.png The E=mc² Barnstar
For overcoming group inertia and improving the evolution article. Tim Vickers (talk) 20:50, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Original Barnstar Hires.png The Original Barnstar
For your extremely collaborative, positive and open minded approach to editing visible in the way you have handled the discussion at Talk:Evolution. I am happy there are editors like you who are both fountains of knowledge, dilligent researchers and who are able to appreciate other people's points of view, even when they don't necessarily agree. Thanks! ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:59, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Interests[edit]

Ecology Conservation Biology Natural Capital Politics Philosophy




/Sandbox

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