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I spent a lot of my life in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia, here in Athens. I hold a masters and a PhD in genetics, and an undergraduate degree in mathematics, all from the University of Georgia. During my years at the department (1989-2007), I studied molecular evolution, taught biology and genetics, and did genetic research. I have also spent years collecting information about fossils.
In addition, I've made an ongoing study of hybridization, and a special study of hybridization in birds. My magnum opus, Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World (Oxford University Press, 2006), a reference book for both birders and professional biologists, provides information on about 4,000 distinct types of hybrid crosses among birds and cites more than 5,000 publications. Currently, I'm writing a similar book on hybridization among mammals, a version of which I'm making available on the website. I'm also working on a second edition of Handbook of Avian Hybrids.
During my years at the genetics department, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the standard explanation of evolution. The more I read about fossils, the more convinced I became that Darwin's account of the evolutionary process was fundamentally flawed. Moreover, in my study of hybrids I became aware that an alternative way of thinking about evolution, what I now call "stabilization theory," could do a better job of explaining the available data.
Over the years, in addition to the dry papers I published on such topics as new genetics software I had written, or surveys of the mouse and rice genomes, I wrote successive versions of a paper explaining the problems I saw with standard evolutionary theory and presented my alternative explanation. These manuscripts, once submitted, would promptly arrive in the hands of anonymous reviewers who would recommend rejection, because, they said, my claims contradicted accepted tenets of standard theory. Well, yes, of course they did — because I was trying to present an alternative evolutionary theory that, if correct, would imply that Darwinian theory is mistaken at an axiomatic level.
My evolving manuscript on evolution, repeatedly rejected, continued to grow and change as I revised it and passed it around to colleagues. Finally it became a book, which I submitted to Oxford University Press in the summer of 2007. After peer review, it was accepted for publication and we signed a contract. The working title for the manuscript was On the Origins of New Life Forms.
However, the editor with whom I was dealing was clearly uncomfortable that the reviews had been mixed. On the one hand, one review was extremely complimentary, saying that the theory presented in the book was revolutionary and that it resolved many of the issues that have been problematic for Darwinian theory. Here's a verbatim excerpt from that reviewer's assessment of my book:
McCarthy masterfully develops an extended argument for a paradigm shift in evolutionary biology from the traditional view that each new species arises gradually from a single ancestral form, to the novel suggestion that each new life form originates suddenly when its recombinant karyotype becomes genetically stabilized following a hybridization event between two distinct ancestors. This bold hypothesis the stuff of which Kuhnian revolutions potentially emerge is presented with eloquence, extensive scholarship, and verve. Importantly, the hypothesis entails empirically testable genetic mechanisms and evolutionary predictions, and thus may stimulate a sweeping research agenda." (to read the entire review click here)
But some reviews that raised objections, all of the same ilk — that my claims were inconsistent with one tenet or another of accepted theory. For those who shy away from anything that rocks the establishment's boat, such objections can never be satisfactorily addressed. And yet, for someone like me, who is trying to critique and improve upon standard theory, they are not even valid. Obviously, a new theory that contradicts an existing theory will be inconsistent with the tenets of that theory!
Be that as it may, such objections weighed increasingly on the mind of my editor, and he pressed me to make accommodations. I refused, and eventually, after the book had been under contract for nearly a year, he requested that we terminate our contract. I agreed, since I felt I was being pressured to make changes in response to comments I considered invalid. So rather than submit the manuscript for yet another year of contentious, and perhaps fruitless, review, I decided to simply publish it here on the Macroevolution.net website with a slightly altered title, On the Origins of New Forms of Life: A New Theory. To access it, click here. I truly believe that stabilization theory provides a much improved explanation of available data.
Here on the website, I have now also recently published a second book-length manuscript, entitled the Hybrid Hypothesis. It argues that humans are probably of hybrid origin. You can access that manuscript here.
Oh, and perhaps I should mention that I finished a novel recently, The Department (now available in kindle format on Amazon), a satire of academic life, based largely on my own experience (with names changed to protect the guilty). One of its main characters is an F₁ hybrid from the same cross that I suspect, in later generations, produced the human race.
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