Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Icons of Evolution?

Remember Jonathan Well's book "Icons of Evolution"? It listed 10 supposed evidences for evolution and then attempted to debunk them. It also made a huge deal out of the fact that these were used in textbooks and thus, scientists were lying to school children about the facts. Of course, Wells was debunked himself countless times, shown as dishonest, and of course exposed as a religiously fanatic mooney. Anyway, my seventh grade brother brought home his science text book today and I took a look at it. I was caught by
surprise when I found that only one of these so called "Icons" was listed in his book. The "Icon" which was listed was Homology. Wells' argument is that
"textbooks define homology as similarity due to common ancestry, then claim that it is evidence for common ancestry -- a circular argument masquerading as scientific evidence."

So, is the argument really circular? No. Homology is evidence of evolution because it could only be due to evolution. Similarity is what you would expect if organisms had evolved and adapted the same structure for different functions. On the other hand, if it was specially created then each organism could have been completely different from the other. A whale could reproduce like a fish does instead of having tiny leg
bone remanants it uses to reproduce, just like land mammals. A bird might have a biological jet pack to propel it through the air instead of having to flap its wings. Those things would be evidence of
design, and punch a hole in the concept of common descent. Nick
Matzke has given his take on this here. In closing, I recommend that textbook writers abandon the supposed "Icons" rather than defend them.
Reusing these examples only opens you up to attack from ignorant fundamentalists. Besides, it is very easy to find examples of Natural Selection other than the Peppered Moths, so substitutions for all of these icons can easily be found.


NickM said...

I disagree! We shouldn't stop using the peppered moths just because creationists complain ignorantly about them, especially considering recent developments:

AIGBusted said...

My point is that there are so many examples of natural selection occuring that we don't need to use them, and that textbooks should change up some of the examples they use. Nieve people are easily taken in by this kind of creationist propaganda. Thanks for the comment though! I hope you'll continue reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

There is a new book coming out from Greenwood Press also called 'Icons of Evolution.' It is written for general audiences by some of the world's leading scientists, historians and philosophers of evolution. (In one chapter it discusses peppered moths by the guy who wrote the book on the case). It is a terrific anti-anti-evolution book!

AIGBusted said...

I'll have to check that out!