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Laszlo Bencze: So evolution is a poor at predicting results?

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Laszlo Bencze
Further to “LiveScience now permits Darwin doubt?” (We haven’t heard that the doubters were fired or driven out or anything, like the usual):

Anyway, Laszlo Bencze offers some thoughts on the topic:

From the article:

The researchers sequenced 60 species of algae most common in North America and can describe with a high certainty their evolutionary relationships. “We know which ones are ancient and have become genetically unique, and which are new and recently diverged,” he says.

My response:

Oh is that right? You have “high certainty” about their evolutionary relationships. This certainty is based on genetic similarity and divergence. Yet recent studies have shown that species which look very similar and behave similarly can have vastly different genetic structure (notably frogs). In other words the genetic studies do not accord with studies based on phenotype. So much for certainty.

From the article:

Certain traits determine whether a species is a good competitor or a bad competitor, he says. “Evolution does not appear to predict which species have good traits and bad traits,” he says. “We should be able to look at the Tree of Life, and evolution should make it clear who will win in competition and who will lose. But the traits that regulate competition can’t be predicted from the Tree of Life.”

My response:

Ahem. So we are now admitting that evolution is a poor at predicting results. Well, perhaps evolution is a poor theory? Perhaps it doesn’t fit the facts at all. Perhaps it’s really an attempt to force fit facts into what the authors call “an intuitive hypothesis.” Perhaps intuition is not such a good guide to truth as Darwin thought.

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2 Replies to “Laszlo Bencze: So evolution is a poor at predicting results?

  1. 1
    Querius says:

    Sigh. You must not understand or appreciate the patience, perseverance, and skill that it takes to craft a credible story of the evolution of life!

    Since we know evolution just has to be true, we first look at morphological similarities. Then we focus on some feature that can be used to differentiate between classifications. For example, does it have a thingy on its tail!

    If we run into problems in the fossil record, which usually includes some embarrassing contemporaneous species that we have to reclassify, we might have to switch to some different trait. For example, maybe its thumbs are suckable. Or whatever. The whole thing is pretty much arbitrary as genomic studies seem to indicate, it’s just nicer when you end up with a smooth succession of fossils that lead up to the contemporaneous ones. Looks much better in books and avoids convergent evolution and evolutionary rings (circular evolution).

    Finally, if we’re really desperate, we turn to the genome as a final, if fickle, arbitrator. Not the whole genome of course, just the most similar, useful areas.

    These are then carefully woven together into the fabric of a wonderful story. The Story of Evolution, and the Story of Life. 😉


  2. 2
    Mung says:

    The title of Coyne’s next book perhaps?

    Why Evolution Just Has to Be True

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