Evolution Intelligent Design science education

More on Haeckel’s fake embryos possibly starring again in the Texas school system

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File:Haeckel drawings.jpg
Romanes, after Haeckel

As in here. Also: What make you of this, from Wikipedia?

Sources note: Choosing only those embryos of species that fit the Darwin/Haeckel frame for teaching purposes – as opposed to a range of accurate depictions – isn’t the biggest problem, nor is exaggerating the similarities midway through development. Haeckel’s most serious misrepresentation is that he left out the earliest stages in embryo development – when various classes differ markedly.

Why would he do that? In order to demonstrate common ancestry through embryos, what you need is for them to all start out very similar and gradually diverge as they develop. And that does not happen. Of course, common ancestry can be true even if embryos do not demonstrate it. But if we believe there is sufficient evidence for common ancestry, why choose  fake evidence to demonstrate it?

See Jonathan Wells, “Haeckel’s embryos: Setting the record straight,” The American Biology Teacher (May 1, 1999):

Differences among the four classes are evident even in the fertilized eggs: zebrafish and frog eggs are approximately the same size (about a millimeter in diameter); the chick embryo is a disk 3 to 4 millimeters in diameter which sits on top of a large yolk; while the human embryo is only about 0.05 millimeters in diameter (Figure 3, top row). The earliest cell divisions in zebrafish, frog and chick embryos are similar except for the fact that they are unable to penetrate the yolk in fish and bird eggs; but the earliest cell divisions in humans (and all other mammals) are completely different from the other three, since one of the second cleavage planes is rotated 90̊ relative to the other (Figure 3, second row).

11 Replies to “More on Haeckel’s fake embryos possibly starring again in the Texas school system

  1. 1
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Of course, common ancestry can be true even if embryos do not demonstrate it. But if we believe there is sufficient evidence for common ancestry, why choose fake evidence to demonstrate it?

    Bad writing, and/or bad editing and/or bad picture editing. No excuse.

    Text books tend to have very high production values these days, at the expense of rigour. It makes me very cross.

    I recently bought a couple of textbooks for my son (maths and physics) and found several errors almost immediately, mostly not in the basic content, but in things like sidebars with accompanying illustrations.

    It’s very annoying.

  2. 2
    Joseph says:

    Yeah- another piece of evidnce that boils down to “It looks like common ancestry to me because the embryos look similar to me.”

    Just as the definition of a transitional form boils down to “It looks like a transistional form to me.”

    And the strange part of all that is those same evos whine that ID is nothing more than saying “It looks desiged to me.”

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    “But if we believe there is sufficient evidence for common ancestry, why choose fake evidence to demonstrate it?”

    I’ve always been curious as to why, if there is truly incontrovertible evidence that evolution really happened, scientists would risk their credibility by promoting evidence that is clearly false?

    Then, after promoting said false evidence, the scientists then scratch their heads and wonder why people don’t view science as the only bastion of truth in this world.
    The logical disconnect is astonishing.

  4. 4
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Because scientists don’t. But text-book are not always written by professional scientists, and even good writers of text-books are not the only people with input into the finished article. Commissioning editors and picture editors are often responsible for the gaffes.

    In one case I know (a book on materials science and structures) the artist commissioned to do the cover illustration had misunderstood the design of dams. In the second edition, it was corrected (there was a brand new illustration). The author (Richard Gordon) had made a fuss!

    Good for him.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Look, we all know that we start out as a bacterium, morph into a eukaryote, turn into a colony, eventually become a fish, from thence turn into a tetrapod, and eventually take on the shape of a human, all during the process of development, so what’s all the fuss about?

    And if that doesn’t prove common ancestry, what would?

  6. 6
    News says:

    Elizabeth Liddle’s observations are on the money. The trouble is, many authors don’t make a fuss. As a result, the job of making a fuss devolves onto lay taxpayers. They are sometimes blamed for introducing “controversy” to education. But they respond, “There is no other way to impose standards in some situations.”

  7. 7
    arkady967 says:

    Because scientists don’t …

    Why is this, then, allowed – by scientits, by educators, and in public education? And why are disclaimers often opposed?

    I went to public school – this sort of image was stock-in-trade for my education (60’s – 70’s)and I remember F.A.R.M and recapitulation theory being passed about as dogma in science teaching.

    If it weren’t for Creationist then and Creationist and ID publishers, now, I may never have heard diffently. I find that significant in this issue. (It may be an excellent demonstration case for critical examination laws – theory strength & weakness – particularly in reference to biology education.)

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Since actual images of embryos are now readily available, why are they not used instead of the fakes???

    Haeckel’s Bogus Embryo Drawings – The faked drawings compared to actual pictures

    further notes:

    Current Textbooks Misuse Embryology to Argue for Evolution – June 2010

    Haeckel’s Bogus Embryo Drawings – video

    Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Haeckel’s Embryos – January 2011 – video

    also of particular interest is the following, because it undermines the entire argument that was trying to be put forth by the fake embryos in the first place:

    The mouse is not enough – February 2011
    Excerpt: Richard Behringer, who studies mammalian embryogenesis at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas said, “There is no ‘correct’ system. Each species is unique and uses its own tailored mechanisms to achieve development. By only studying one species (eg, the mouse), naive scientists believe that it represents all mammals.”

    Marsupial Embryos Challenge Common Ancestry – Casey Luskin – audio podcast

    A Primer on the Tree of Life (Part 4)
    Excerpt: “In sharks, for example, the gut develops from cells in the roof of the embryonic cavity. In lampreys, the gut develops from cells on the floor of the cavity. And in frogs, the gut develops from cells from both the roof and the floor of the embryonic cavity. This discovery—that homologous structures can be produced by different developmental pathways—contradicts what we would expect to find if all vertebrates share a common ancestor. – Explore Evolution

    Neo-Darwinism’s Gene Homology Problem – video


    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Glimpses At Human Development In The Womb – video

  9. 9
    Ilion says:

    Mung @ 5:

    Great minds, and all that … I was going to post essentially the same thought, but your wording is better.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    thanks 🙂

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    In addition, since plants and humans share a common ancestor, surely there are similarities in the embryonic development of plants which further illustrate the point.

    The phrase cherry-picking comes to mind.

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