An Open Letter to the Nobel Prize For Science Handing Out Committee

January 2014

For your consideration, I respectfully submit my New Theory Of Evolution, or, Misfit Theory as my official entry for the Nobel Prize For Science 2014.

The Survival of The Misfits

Only misfits ever originate new species.

New species originate only from tiny, isolated, unstable populations of struggling misfits at the ecological fringes. [Mayr, 1964; Eldredge, Gould, 1976]. The churning moshpit of the dynamic geosphere forever turns hopeless minority into millenial majority. The gene pools of tiny isolated populations are inherently unstable (Tattersall, 2003). When the going gets unstable, the unstable get going. All the odd little quirks that once confined misfits to the edgelands suddenly become the must-have adaptation in a radically new habitat. This is the survival of the misfits.

As The Trade Secret hero Nat Bramble puts it:

Those who don't fit today are the ones who make tomorrow.

(Unless of course they're the ones that go around with a cardboard box on their head topped by a wire coat hanger for an intergalactic aerial/Martian listening device.)

But that's okay. I am not saying all misfits originate new species. What I'm saying is that all successful species today were once tiny populations of struggling misfits. What's important to remember is that the fittest, never generate new species. Why would they? What's in it for them? They like things just the way they are. And how could they generate new species? Well-fitted populations have stodgy gene pools, the consistency of a jug of old chicken stock, in which any and all mutations are quickly annulled.

And fit for what? What are the fittest fit for? You're only as fit as your last habitat. Pigs in clover they may be, but what happens when that clover starts to move uphill or gets too chewy to eat? That's when the fittest do their extinction party-piece, and dive into the fossil record like Glastonbury mud surfers never to be seen again. Let's be clear. The fittest don't meet sudden unpredictable geospheric change by evolving into misfits which then take over. The speciation happens back when the fittest were doing well and the misfits struggling. Then comes the moshpit of seismic change to fell the fittest and propel the misfits centre-stage.

Both Ernst Mayr's allopatric speciation theory and Stephen Jay Gould and Nilese Eldredge's punctuated equilibria theory describe how selection pressures are more intense for tiny exiled populations living on the edges of ecological tolerance. Isolated from the mainstream, their rapidly accumulating mutations soon fashion a whole new species, and then it needs only the Court Jester to tip his hat with some abiotic change, for the misfits to take centre-stage (see Court Jester Hypothesis).

That said, most ill-fitting populations are wiped out. So, the survival of the misfits is a high risk strategy, I grant you.

But on the plus side, the ones that aren't wiped out inherit the earth.

As a rule, it was the fittest who perished. The misfits,
Forced by failure to migrate to unsettled niches,
who altered their structure and prospered.
WH Auden

PS. Re: Nobel Prize Giving Out Ceremony please advise on correct form of address for King of Sweden, (I understand I am only to touch him above the waist..?) Finally, Id appreciate it if you could let me know in advance whether I have won so that, if Ive only come second or third, I can arrange my face accordingly for when the prize is given out, and try not to look like I have had a wasted journey.

Ta,

Robert Newman