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The peppered moth shows how trivial Darwinism is, in real life

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In “Mighty Moth Man” (The Scientist, May 1, 2012), Cristina Luiggi reports, “An evolutionary biologist’s posthumous publication restores the peppered moth to its iconic status as a textbook example of evolution.”

Well, you know Darwinism is in bad shape when something so trivial as demonstrating that a change in the frequency of dark pigmentation of moths’ wings is due to natural selection is a big victory (because the earlier zealot had botched the job by interfering with his experiment).

Yes, we wondered when they would get round to admitting that last point. Which was always the main point: the fact that, for decades, a botched experiment was textbook proof of Darwinism. Now they have a trivial change instead.

For background, see, for example, Jonathan Wells, who contributed a critique of the botch, and later said Revenge of the peppered moth?,

In 1999, I published an article in The Scientist summarizing these and other criticisms of the peppered moth story, and in 2000 I included a chapter on peppered moths in my book Icons of Evolution. Then, in 2002, journalist Judith Hooper published a book about the controversy titled Of Moths and Men. Hooper accused Kettlewell of fraud, though I never did; my criticism was directed primarily at textbook writers who ignored problems with the story and continued to use staged photos even after they were known to misrepresent natural conditions.

By then, what had previously been a fairly limited scientific dispute over the cause(s) of industrial melanism had become a debacle. Sargent and I were demonized, and Majerus and Coyne were persuaded to reaffirm the peppered moth story as the prime example of Darwinian evolution in action. Majerus also embarked on the study that was just recently reported in Biology Letters.

There is a curious religion angle to the story (there often is): On August 23, 2007, The late moth-ologist

Cambridge University biologist Michael Majerus disinterred the corpse. In a lecture in Sweden, Majerus announced he had found new evidence that peppered moths are “proof of Darwinian evolution.” The “fact of Darwinian evolution,” in turn, shows that humans invented God and that there will be “no second coming; no helping hand from on high.”

Wow, all that from some moths! What’s going on?

Some Background

And Coyne has become a standard bearer for the gnu atheists’ gnusade. against just about everybody.

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