The Response to Kimura (1968) and King
and Jukes (1969)
and Citation Analysis
Reflecting on this early period, James
Crow writes that: "The initial response was generally
one of dismay and disbelief. The reactions ranged from skepticism
to outright rejection. To some it was utter nonsense."
To many evolutionary biologists neutral changes were simply
uninteresting; the proper business of evolutionary biologists
was the study of adaptations.
(See James Crow,
"Motoo Kimura: An Appreciation," in Population Genetics
and Molecular Evolution, eds. T. Ohta and K. Aoki. Tokyo:
Japan Scientific Societies Press, 1985, p. 1.)
What's in a name?
King and Jukes chose the provocative title
of "Non-Darwinian Evolution" for their paper,
and the name stuck to the hypothesis until the early 1970's
when it was redubbed the neutral theory of molecular evolution.
Kimura was not fond of the "non-Darwinian" label
and asked King and Jukes to change it to emphasize molecular
evolution, instead of evolution in general. King and Jukes
had choosen their title with the intention of provoking
the evolutionary establishment. Although both reviewers
rejected their article, it was published upon appeal and
the blasphemous title remained unchanged.
(See King's recollections
of this episode)
Citations from ISI Web of Science.
The longer and more data-rich King and Jukes
paper became a citation
classic in 1983 in part as a result of its strong initial
reception. More recently Kimura's 1968 paper has begun to
recieve more citations. Is this perhaps an artifact of how
the neutral theory is being remembered?