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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Richard Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta win the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences

"for their pioneering analyses and fundamental contributions to the understanding of genetic polymorphism"
It is the great irony of modern evolutionary genetics that the spirit of explanation has moved more and more towards optimal adaptation, while the technical developments of population genetics of the past 30 years have been increasingly to show the efficacy of non adaptive forces in evolution.

Richard Lewontin
"A natural selection" Nature May 11,1989 p.107

The ‘neutral theory’ proposed that most evolutionary changes at the molecular level were caused by random genetic drift rather than by natural selection. Note that the neutral theory classifies new mutations as deleterious, neutral, and advantageous. Under this classification, the rate of mutant substitutions in evolution can be formulated by the stochastic theory of population genetics. Kimura's theory was simple and elegant, yet I was not quite satisfied with it, because I thought that natural selection was not as simple as the mutant classification the neutral theory indicated, and that there would be border-line mutations with very small effects between the classes. I thus went ahead and proposed the nearly neutral theory of molecular evolution in 1973. The theory was not simple, and much more complicated, but to me, more realistic, and I have been working on this problem ever since.

Tomoko Ohta
Current Biology, August 21, 2012

HatTip: Jerry Coyne (student of Lewontin): Dick Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta nab the Crafoord Prize


  1. Never heard of the award. Yet to a creationist its funny that their point is to correct that selection didn't do much at atomic levels.
    I think because investigation shows selection/mutation kust plain is unlikely at molecular levels. SO it has to be something else. So drift. A guess.
    it really shows how past ideas are threatened with being wrong.
    .So its possible these guys don't find DRIFT as a working mechanism for evolution but RATHER find selection as not working.
    like the Gould stuff. they just find things are not true in the old evolution models. They add their own wrong ideas but the jewel in it is correction of a wrong idea.
    In these matters correction is deadly. It means they were wrong.

  2. Dear Robert,
    it is obvious that you have really no clue, what are you talking about.

    Before you start babbling rubbish: Inform yourself.
    Start with a good textbook (check out:, go carefully over the posts on this blog (please for once: try to read

    them) and then (maybe) read some papers/reviews(

    Neither Lewontin nor Ohta denied the importance of selection, they just emphasized that a large part of the variation observed is not due to


    So please shut up if you have nothing sensible to say.
    It is massively annoying to find interesting discussions on this blog to be interrupted by your BS.


    1. What I said was sensible so I should continue.
      I know they don't deny selection. Thats not the point here.
      Its about how much is denied and this because better investigation starts to reveal old errors.
      Thats what I said and I do pay attention to the conversation eh.

  3. @ Larry


    Je vous tire mon chapeau jusqu'à terre!

    Your immediate posts just preceding this announcement proved most prescient.

    I remain in your debt - thank you.