g'day Andrew and others interested in this thread,
On 18/03/2007, at 5:55 PM, Andrew Hobbs wrote:
What exactly is this "appalling non-scientific methodology" with
regard to the peppered moth.
You can read about the faulty experimental procedures used and the
illogical reasoning in a number of papers. Here are three:
1. Sargent, T.D. C.D. Millar, & D. M. Lambert. 1998. The
“Classical” Explanation of Industrial Melanism, assessing the
evidence. Evolutionary Biology 30: 299-322.
[review paper on the validity of many years of work on Biston
betularia and 99 other species in UK & NA].
2. Wells, J. 1999. Second Thoughts about Peppered Moths. The
Scientist 13(11): 5 pp taken from the internet. http://www.arn.org/
[paper on many unjustifiable assumptions used, poor methods, bad
extrapolations in the research on Biston betularia.]
an interesting portion is as follows "Why was Sargent [one researcher
show poor methodology in Peppered Moth research] treated so badly?
One reason may simply be the tendency of scientists to cling to
theories that are mainstays of their careers. I suspect, though, that
something more is involved: a desire to protect the classic story as
an icon of Darwinian evolution in action. Although Jerry Coyne is an
outspoken evolutionist, and Ted Sargent is no creationist, the
evolution-creation controversy fosters a climate in which many
Darwinists regard criticism of supposed evidence for evolution as
giving aid and comfort to the Enemy.
Ironically, though, the truth or falsity of the peppered moth story
is largely irrelevant to the evolution-creation controversy. If the
story were true, it would show only a reversible shift in the
proportions of two varieties in a preexisting species—a result that
even the most uncompromising creationist could accept. And its
falsity poses no threat to the most uncompromising evolutionist,
because there are now other, better examples of natural selection
within existing species.
Nevertheless, many defenders of Darwinian evolution rush to protect
the peppered moth icon as though their religion depended on it. In
2000, I wrote a book pointing out that the peppered moth story—though
of limited significance in itself—is part of a larger pattern of
systematic misrepresentation serving to prop up Darwin's theory.
Kevin Padian, a Berkeley professor and president of the National
Center for Science Education, a militantly pro-Darwin advocacy group,
responded by likening me to the sociopathic antihero of the film The
Talented Mr. Ripley. According to Padian, "a particularly egregious
example of Mr. Wells's talents is his treatment of the peppered
moth."" ... a particularly interesting discussion follows
Some of the problems involved in this work included:
A. Gluing and pining moths (you can see the pins in some text
photographs) on tree trunks - where it was easy for the experimenter
to make observations -but it is now apparent that this is not where
this species spends the day - thus they are not normally exposed to
the birds that took the specimens in the tests.
B. Predicting that dark moths would decline as the pollution on trees
was cleaned up. Facts are that the moths started reverting to the
peppered form before any detectable changes occurred in the forests.
C. When one group of researchers glued dead moths onto trunks in an
unpolluted forest, the birds took more of the dark - less camouflaged
moths (as predicted). However, their traps captured four times as
many dark moths as light moths (the opposite of textbook predictions)
Note the dates of these three publications. Yet since then only
one University textbook that I know of has dropped the use of the
Peppered Moth as evidence for evolution. I hope our bird research is
more scientific that this work on insects. - and entomologists do
not get me wrong there is plenty of good work on insects.
Cheers and happy and accurate birding
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