Go ahead, rip into them. I know you want to...
Jeffrey H. Schwartz, University of Pittsburgh professor of anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, is working to debunk a major tenet of Darwinian evolution. Schwartz believes that evolutionary changes occur suddenly as opposed to the Darwinian model of evolution, which is characterized by gradual and constant change. Among other scientific observations, gaps in the fossil record could bolster Schwartz's theory because, for Schwartz, there is no "missing link."
In the context of sexual reproduction, natural selection is generally thought of as a pre-copulation mechanism. We are drawn to features of the human body that tell us our partner is healthy and will provide us a fighting opportunity to carry on our genetic lineage. But a new article appearing in the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science suggests that the human male has evolved mechanisms to pass on his genes during post-copulation as well, a phenomenon dubbed "sperm competition."
Many species of ants scavenge for the same kinds of food. Why then doesn't the single most efficient species drive the others to extinction? A research group based at the University of Utah conducted a detailed study of ants in the mountains of southeastern Arizona to identify exactly how they manage to share the same environment. The study appears in the March issue of the American Naturalist.
Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain's thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia, a severe mental illness marked by impaired thinking, scientists at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered. The seeming paradox emerged from the first study to explore the effects of variation in the human gene for a brain master switch, DARPP-32.
I just trudged through Schwartz & Maresca's 2006 paper in Biological Theory. It's one long stream of nearly incomprehensible bullshit written by Cladists with an ideological chip on their shoulder and what appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of what molecular systematists actually do. A paper of such low quality would never appear in a peer-reviewed journal of any standard.
Evolutionary change may be sudden or it may be continual, but Schwartz's crackpot ranting is unlikely to shed any light on it. The fundamental premise of his argument- that "molecular systematics is based on the assumption that degree of overall similarity reflects degree of relatedness" - misses an entire, enormous literature of molecular papers employing parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian methods unrelated to measures of overall similarity.
Basically, the evidence does not favor Schwartz's preferred hypothesis, and instead of flexibility in the face of contradictory evidence he creates a smokescreen of confusion to cast aspersion on contrary data. Crapola, I say.