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Thread: Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions

  1. #1 Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Most of us are happy to admit that we do not understand, say, the string theory in physics, yet we are all convinced we understand evolution. In fact, as biologists are discovering, its consequences can be stranger than we ever imagined. Evolution must be the best-known yet worst-understood of all scientific theories.

    So here is New Scientist’s guide to some of the most common myths and misconceptions about evolution.

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/...head_Evolution

    Now, you may or may not accept the theory of evolution – it’s all up to you – but whether you believe it or not, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s best to harbour as few misconceptions about the subject as possible if you’re taking part in any debate for or against evolution. 8)


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  3. #2 Re: Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneBennet
    Now, you may or may not accept the theory of evolution – it’s all up to you – but whether you believe it or not, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s best to harbour as few misconceptions about the subject as possible if you’re taking part in any debate for or against evolution. 8)
    There is no debate against evolution. There is outcry by people who do not desire it to be true and because of that they do not believe it to be true, despite the overwhelming fact that any and all arguments against it have long been tried and falsified.

    Sorry for the soapbox moment. Thanks for the link, Jane.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Interesting reading. Thanks.
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  5. #4  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    Great link! :wink:
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  6. #5  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I am an avid fan of New Scientist and buy a copy most weeks, which I read from cover to cover (except the job advertisments). I was disappointed in this edition with their treament of several of the myths. Either this online version is more detailed, or I need to get my head examined, for I found the linked material as good as others have commented.
    Strange.

    New Scientist is to be complemented in making all (and perhaps more than all) of the printed text freely available. This is in line with their declared policy of seeking to educate non-believers in evolution, but it is nice to see what could have been editorial rhetoric backed up by commercial commitment.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Everything is an adaptation

    Apparently everything isn't according to new scientist.

    Duh, everything is.

    It's just that our understanding is limited and we can't figure out all adaptations.

    Male nipples no adaptation? fuck yes it is. Without them you wouldn't have lactating female nipples. It's based on the principle of evolutionary constraint and limitations of developmental regulation of form. Since when is lactation NOT an adaptation? The whole mammalian group is based on this adaption.

    Honestly, I didn't read past this one even. If the rest sucks this much it is a big waste of time.

    What a quacks. Pffft. Journalists.
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Whilst Spurious is a practising biologist, unlike most of the posters on this forum myself included, it does not follow that his views on biology are necessarily correct.
    The consensus view as I understand it is that some/many features arise by chance (as do all features) and if they are beneficial they will tend to remain/spread in the gene pool (and we will call these adaptations), if they are neutral there will be no particular pressure for them to disappear and so they may remain - these are not adaptations.
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  9. #8  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    it's a bit of a borderline case, isn't it ? does correlation in development and growth represent adaptation or is it just a constraint of the organism ?

    whilst i agree with Ophi that not every explanation needs to be adaptationist, sometimes a closer look discovers adaptation where the initial investigation had missed it - e.g. initially people couldn't believe that a matter of a fraction of a millimetre in beak depth made a difference between life and death for Galapagos finches
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  10. #9  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    It is also worth noting that the New Scientist comments on this related especially to evolutionary psychologists who seem to try to relate every observed feature of present day psychology (normal and aberrant) to behaviours acquired on the African savanna.
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  11. #10  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    this type of just-so-story explanation is really the bastard offspring of Spencer's social darwinism, which apart from the name has very little to do with real darwinism

    as such it isn't a critique of adaptionism but of simplistic thinking in the mould of finding genes for homosexuality, crime or any other social pattern - when examined more closely, social behaviours DO have a genetic underpinning but how they are expressed depends on a complex interplay of genes, environmental factors and cultural influences
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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