Re: The evolution of "evolution"

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Mon 03 Oct 2005 - 08:49:01 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Hall: "Re: The evolution of "evolution""


    To be specific, you commit two kinds of errors in your essay:

    1) misrepresentation of neo-Darwinism 2) premature declaration that some kind of
    "memory" theory would 'explain' ontogenesis

    The grossest misrepresentation of neo-Darwinism
    (there are several more minor ones) is in your use of Hoyle's fallacy. For instance,

    "The Hyacinth macaw can crack a nut with its beak that you or I would need a sledgehammer to open. Is all that colossal strength nothing more than a side-effect of a chance mutation in the macaw’s genetic toolkit? How many millions of such coding mistakes had to come and go before the right one announced itself, and at last the bird got its meal?"

    and again later:

    "Like a toy in a cereal box, every defining trait of every species on Earth comes with a special mutation hidden inside. Genes, you might say, work in mysterious ways. We don’t know why the right mutation comes along at the right moment­it just does!"

    and again:

    "What about the creation, from scratch, not from scratch of trillion-celled furry animals with big ears and buck teeth? Apparently, DNA is the one thing that really can pull a rabbit out of its hat."

    No scientist proposes any of the above 3 scenarios. None ever has - even the
    "mutationists" of the 1920s had a much more refined and sophisticated view than the one you claim we have today. Mutationism went out the window when Fisher showed that Mendelian genetics did after all fit natural selection.

    As for "memory" explaining ontogenesis, I suggest you take a look inside the pages of journals like "Developmental Biology",
    "Development", "Mechanisms of Development" or
    "Genes & Development". Enormous strides have been made since the mid-80s in understanding things like limb and axial development at the molecular genetic level.

    A lot of your problem is that you're not up to date on the subject you are professing to critique.


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