… they taught their fans to believe it too.
Apparently, this post yesterday attracted attention from those who insist here that Darwin’s men never relied on “junk DNA” claims to buttress their theory. Someone should tell Stephen Cave who provides us with yet another clear example (and maybe Daniel Fairbanks?):
In “What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t” (Financial Times, August 17, 2012), Stephen Cave reviews three recent books on human evolution, Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters, by Daniel J Fairbanks; Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins, by Ian Tattersall; and Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, by David P Barash), and notes:
Fairbanks, however, devotes most space to the newest, yet perhaps most important, source of evidence for our evolution: the story told by our genomes. If the theory of our evolutionary origins were true, we would expect species that split off from each other recently to have similar genes. And this is exactly what we find: we share 98 per cent of our DNA with our nearest living relative, the chimpanzee. This applies not only to the DNA that actually makes us work but equally to our vast amount of functionless so-called “junk DNA”, and even the remnants of ancient viruses that once worked their way into our genomes.
This raises two interesting questions: If Darwin’s men never educated their followers to believe in junk DNA as support for their theory, why is this stuff always turning up in popular evolution burbles? And if junk DNA is evidence for common descent, would Darwin’s men or any of their fans consider the falsification of junk DNA evidence against it?
No, we didn’t think so.
Cave also allows us to know,
As Barash points out, most books about science are accounts of what we know – threatening to give the impression that all the hard work is done. In doing the opposite and writing about the gaps in our knowledge, he hopes to inspire the next generation of Darwins and Dawkinses to take up lab coats in the pursuit of truth.
“Dawkinses”? When did we last see Dawkins in a lab coat? When was he last a useful figure in science, as opposed to new atheism? This one sentence provides a useful insight into one of the many things wrong with pop science writing today: Conflation of celebs outgassing science terms or claims with actual science.
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