The famous paper by Gould and Lewontin criticizes ‘adaptionists’ for developing evolutionary explanations for patterns seen today, i.e. the so called ‘adaptive storytelling’. A commentary paper by Rasmus Nielsen (2009) revisits the argumentation from the perspective of functional genomics. The main argumentation deals with how knowledge of functional effects of genes and signs of selection are utilized to infer evolution.
The opinion of the author is straightforward: “The insight gained by evolutionary biologists, that functional differences cannot be equated to adaptive changes, has at times not been appreciated by the genomics community. In this comment, I argue that even in the presence of both functional data and evidence for selection from DNA sequence data, it is still difficult to construct strong arguments in favor of adaptation.”
Something to digest while genotyping? Good old analyses of life-histories, ecology of populations, and more modern approaches to simulate those might still provide information needed along genetic analyses to build a comprehensive picture of evolutionary processes.
Nielsen R (2009) Adaptionism – 30 years after Gould and Lewontin. Evolution 63: 2487-2490