the status of evolutionary biology

Darwinian evolution happens by random mutation and natural selection. A prominent scientist has a piece in the New York Times discussing the status of our knowledge of this phenomena:
All mutations are accidental changes to DNA. Beneficial mutations are those accidental changes that in some way improve an organism’s chances of surviving and reproducing. Obvious examples from recent decades would be a mutation that confers antibiotic resistance on bacteria that cause disease in humans, or one that confers poison resistance on a rat. Less obvious are mutations that produce hot pink spiders and quartz-dwelling bacteria. But the point is that such mutations allow organisms to evolve to fit their environments better — a process known as adaptation.

Adaptation is the “wow!” factor of nature: when we see something spectacular or exquisite, we are typically looking at an adaptation. And what underpins adaptation is the appearance and spread of beneficial mutations: the process is not possible without them. Yet despite their central role in adaptive evolution, beneficial mutations have — until recently — received surprisingly little attention.
She goes on to discuss some of the details and the direction her research has taken her, concluding with the rather disappointing claim that,
Together, the study of these different mutational strands — the good, the bad and the irrelevant — is weaving a comprehensive picture of the general distribution of mutations, and thus, the spectrum of genetic variation that appears in nature. When this is complete, we will have a more complete view of how mutations of different types impact different paths and patterns in evolution.
It seems Prof. Judson has not heard of Prof. Behe's book.

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