The Peppered Zombie rises at Exeter: Some curious responses
|August 22, 2018||Posted by News under Culture, Darwinism, Evolution, Intelligent Design, science education|
A story here yesterday noted the recent attempt at Exeter U to resurrect the idea that the varying prevalence of light and dark moths is a dramatic demonstration of evolution in action. Like its many predecessors, it demonstrates nothing except what we might expect: The more visible moth will be spotted and eaten sooner.
But it’s the understory that matters: Schoolchildren are asked to believe that, by the same power of natural selection, cows become whales over time. Not only is the implicit claim not demonstrated by the data from nature; it isn’t even implied by the data from nature. The variable population distribution mechanism already existed in the moths’ genes, perhaps for millions of years, and did not change over time. The output of the mechanism, consistent with its function, is observed to change with regional conditions. The change provides no obvious basis for more complex developments.
That is why Darwinism must be taught to the young and impressionable, preferably by people who cannot afford to doubt the system that affords them a social status and a living.
Now look at some of the attempts here yesterday to defend the peppered myth:
2. But that is evolution. Perhaps not impressive in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still evolution (by natural selection, no less).
If so, then we have here a demonstration that evolution by natural selection produces insignificant changes. If that fact, advertised, justifies the fanfare heard at Exeter, top figures in evolutionary biology are clearly and obviously wrong to attribute significant changes to the Darwinian mechaism of natural selection acting on random mutations.
8. [quoting the OP] “The controversy was over whether the shifting proportions can properly be called a form of “evolution.” Most people reasonably expect ‘evolution’ to produce significant and probably irreversible changes, for example, turning dinosaurs into birds.”
If this is true, then most people ought to learn what evolution means. Also, the evolution of non-bird dinosaurs into birds took a bit longer than the few decades it took for peppered moths to arise and dominate the population.
“What evolution means,” it would seem from the commenter’s defense, is insignificant changes that are postulated to lead to significant ones. Not demonstrated, merely postulated. There is a world of difference between the two states of evidence.
The second sentence illustrates that beautifully: “Also, the evolution of non-bird dinosaurs into birds took a bit longer than the few decades it took for peppered moths to arise and dominate the population.” Actually, we have no reason to believe that such a complex transition happened in a Darwinian way at all, especially considering that the insignificant variation in moth wing colors is apparently the best type of evidence Darwinian theory can come up with.
Also at 8: They had to use fake moths because that’s the only way you could conceivably do a controlled experiment. But there is very strong evidence that natural selection drives the frequency of the different morphs, and indeed that moths spend plenty of time on tree trunks and branches during the day (http://rsbl.royalsocietypublis…..nt/8/4/609).
If the phenomenon is as common as the commenter claims, it is easy to conceive of a controlled experiment that does not require dead or fake test subjects.
“there is very strong evidence that natural selection drives the frequency of the different morphs”?* Of course. No one doubts it. It’s the implicit claim that such processes account for much more complex changes (birds to dinosaurs) that is contested.
And the people who defend the uncontested claim surely have, as their purpose, a defense of the contested implicit claim — because the uncontested claim is, as we might expect, nothing in itself. The dodgy parts are no worse than those most so many Darwinian claims.
Most Darwinian believers, so far as we can see, do not require their claims to be sound. They require only that they be enforced and that alternatives be silenced. Thus do obscure school systems in the United States make the pages of Nature.
Clearly, if it were not for the hold that Darwinism has on the minds of some, this zombie would not stalk the storied groves of Exeter. We are looking at a social phenomenon here, to which the science is incidental.
*As the OP relates, the evidence that moths naturally rest in positions where they are exposed to predators is contested within the discipline.
See also: Wow! The peppered myth: A Darwin zombie rises again The Exeter researchers report, “In the experiment using artificial moths, lighter models had a 21% higher chance of “surviving” (not being eaten by birds).” So their point seems to be that, if moths actually rested in open areas, they would be better off to be lighter models.