17 December 2009

More Picking on the Clueless

Even as I wrote the “Picking on the Clueless” entry the other day, another member of the Clueless Brigade, one Michael Aprile, was contributing his two cents (and that’s overvaluing it considerably) at Pharyngula. This guy, who obviously knows nothing about the topic, had the temerity to lecture P. Z. Myers, a practicing biologist, on the subject of “Macro evolution”. An excerpt follows:
There is nothing wrong with being a fool, but teaching others to be one is unacceptable and irresponsible, at the very least. Furthermore, to have a degree or degrees in biology and to still believe in Darwinian theory, shows ignorance in the worst degree. Macro evolution is founded on absolutely nothing but blind faith. No evidence has ever been provided for it. Several hokes and false attempts, but no real evidence. A large group of sciences, including biologists, have concluded that the theory is false.
Now of course I would point out that no evidence has ever been provided that there is a distinction between macroevolution and microevolution; the assumption behind that is the notion that there is something, some sort of mechanism, that would prevent many small genetic changes from accumulating until two populations are no longer capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Until such a mechanism has been observed in action the term “macroevolution” is essentially hand-waving and gas.

P. Z. Myers rips the poor fool apart in the manner of Yahweh speaking to Job out of the whirlwind:
I’ve split half-billion year old stones to expose the shells of trilobites, I’ve seen the bones of Tiktaalik, I’ve held in my hands the skull of Neanderthal. I’ve compared the genes of mice and flies, I’ve studied the embryos of grasshoppers and fish, I’ve read thousands of papers produced by a scientific community that values curiosity over money. I’ve also read dozens of books by creationists, and I can say with complete confidence that they, and you, Mr Michael Aprile, are full of shit.
Ah, yes, way to go, Dr. Myers.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder what "hokes" are... Could mad Aprile be shooting for "hoaxes," by any chance ...? Just curious ...

abb3w said...

Now of course I would point out that no evidence has ever been provided that there is a distinction between macroevolution and microevolution; the assumption behind that is the notion that there is something, some sort of mechanism, that would prevent many small genetic changes from accumulating until two populations are no longer capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Until such a mechanism has been observed in action the term "macroevolution" is essentially hand-waving and gas.

Err... not quite. The term "macroevolution" is not itself hand-waving and gas, nor is what biologists (on the lines of Ernst Mayr) use as the object of the term; what creationists use as the object of the term, is, reflecting their fundamental misconception of evolutionary biology and how the term is used by biologists. (Sorry; type-cast errors with pointers offend my computer geek sensibilities.)

The small accumulation of changes is microevolution until it reaches speciation -- a formerly single breeding population splitting into more than one, so that new mutations in one sub-population can no longer diffuse to the others. Thereafter, any new microevolutionary developments in one sub-population are macroevolutionary with respect to the others.

Which means, while there is a distinction between microevolution and macroevolution (whether the population considered has acquired speciation divides), macroevolution has also been proven by observation, as (fairly trivial) consequence of speciation observations from both lab and field.

Anonymous said...

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