As our international friends may be aware, the U.S. holds a somewhat contentious presidential election today. Seeking relief from controversy, one American biologist we know flew to London for the Royal Society’s “New Trends in Evolutionary Biology” meeting. What could be more soporific?
Well actually, while less raucous than the 2016 election, the meeting so far is not without its dramatic elements. Our biologist friend writes of yesterday’s session:
Some opposing views were aired in the morning sessions, with polite but pointed disagreement between Drs. Sonia Sultan and Russell Lande on the subject of phenotypic plasticity. It is clear that opinion is divided in the room. Some applause for bolder statements was quickly quashed, the audience having been warned at the beginning that boos and cheers were not acceptable.
Warning the audience not to cheer or boo, “quashing” outbursts in response to favored viewpoints? That’s exactly what moderators in our three presidential debates had to do, if memory serves. All this at a meeting about presumably arcane topics in biology. And they tell us there’s no scientific controversy about evolution.