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Exhuming the Peppered Mummy

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Paul Nelson highlighted new developments in the Peppered Myth story here.

Now Jonathan Wells, a scientist at the Discovery Institute, offers a more detailed analysis in Exhuming the Peppered Mummy.


A friend of mine tells me that the only things he remembers about evolution from his high school biology course are photos of black and white peppered moths resting on light and dark tree trunks. They were presented as THE classic case of Darwinian evolution in action, explaining how a trait that enhances survival could be acquired through an unguided material process.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, most biology textbooks featured photos of peppered moths (scientific name: Biston betularia) on tree trunks.1 Canadian textbook-writer Bob Ritter explained why in 1999: High school students are “very concrete in the way they learn,” he said. “The advantage of this example of natural selection is that it is extremely visual.”2

Soon after 2000, however, the peppered myth succumbed to mounting scientific criticisms. The most embarrassing was that peppered moths in the wild don’t normally rest on tree trunks, and the textbook photos had been staged – as The New York Times pointed out in an article on scientific fakery in 2002…..


Personally, I'd have to agree that the whole moth saga is getting old. What irritates me though, is that since the dawn of Darwin, high school textbooks have used these simple changes in microevolution and extrapolated them to no end. Good examples of actual macroevolutionary changes are never mentioned in the texbooks because there really aren't any. It seems to me, that students leave class with the understanding that micro=macro. Case closed - all aspects of the ToE are "fact". Darwinism rules. I'm also not sure how the peppered moth is a good educational tool to "fight the undermining of science by bringing in religious concepts". There is no connection between a peppered moth, natural selection, and religion that I can see. I scanned the pdf file of the power point that was given by Majerus, and found this a bit overwhelming: "Until now, for instead of the vision of a world made better by the appliance of science, I see a future of ever-increasing global problems. I probably won’t see the worst of what’s coming – but I fear for my children, who will face escalating problems of climate change, over-population, pollution, starvation, disease and conflict. And for their children and grandchildren, I have little optimism. We need to address global problems now, and to do so with any chance of success, we have to base our decisions on scientific facts: and that includes the fact of Darwinian evolution. If the rise and fall of the peppered moth is one of the most visually impacting and easily understood examples of Darwinian evolution in action, it should be taught. It provides after all: The Proof of Evolution." The peppered moth provides "proof of evolution". *eyes rolling* It provides proof that the mechanisms of evolution are certainly observable in nature, but even Jacob in OT history understood how natural selection worked. I simply can't imagine that Darwin is going to be the saving grace from "over-population, pollution, starvation, disease and conflict" in the world. Good grief... Forthekids
mattghg - Majerus did check in other places too. He also made the point that we're not clued into looking for camouflaged moths (well, unless you're Paul Brakefield, apparently). Mats - you've mis-represented what Majerus said. In his lecture he explicitly made the point that it didn't matter if one believed in a God or not - he was concerned with issues of undermining science by bringing in religious concepts. And the peppered moth is a good educational tool to fight this, because it is clear and easy to understand. I'm also curious about why people here see this as a big issue. I thought the peppered moth style micro-evolution was accepted as happening by most IDers anyway. Bob Bob O'H
I posted the article by Wells at Wesley Elsberry's blog on his post covering the Michael Majerus article. It's interesting that I posted it at 8:16am, and it is still awaiting moderation. I merely posted the link with no further comments in order to let readers know about Well's response. I was a tad shocked that he uses moderation as he and the members at his forum seem to find this practice a form of censorship. Had I not posted a comment at my blog in that length of time, I would be deemed "intellectually dishonest". I guessing moderation and banning is only okay if you're a Darwinist. I'm sure there is some explanation for this, but again, any excuse will be deemed sufficient for a Darwin supporter, but dishonest from a ID advocate. Forthekids
I particulary like the atheist conclusion he makes: Since moths rest on trees trunks, THEN God does not exist. I am amazed in how little it takes to convince a Darwinist. Mats
Hehehehehehe "Of course most peppered moths rest in visible places, because that's where all the ones I've seen were." Brilliant mattghg
Where did the information that produced dark moths come from? It seems like natural selection is the easy part that hardly needs proving anyway. All the moth observation will ever prove is that animals that are a bad fit for their environment die out. The existance of a QC guy who throws out defective widgets as they come down the assembly line does not explain how widgets are made, does it? russ

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