Evolutionary genetics as a field emerged in the early 20th century. There were some upsides to this. R. A. Fisher was alive, so there were some incredibly brilliant theoretical minds who could focus upon the project of formalizing evolutionary process and fusing it with Mendelian genetics. And, frankly there are situations where data-free theorizing is best because that sort of theorizing at least is blind to what the solutions should be. But there were also many downsides to this early flowering of theoretical evolutionary biology.
To use a rough analogy, the large data sets of the present offer up raw material for the machinery of theory to sift, process, and refine, as it was then.
Read the full article here: Natural selection is randomly inevitable