December 5, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Evolution as Inventor

This week’s award goes to Gines Morata, a research professor in Spain, who was interviewed in Current Biology.1  He gives us a glimpse into his biology classes:

I often tell my students that they do not have to invent anything; in biology everything has already been invented.  What they have to do is find out the solution chosen by evolution.

In the context of this statement, Morata was talking about his enjoyment of science as a kind of detective work.  “The interesting aspect of it is that biological solutions are unpredictable and often very inelegant; there is a lot of tinkering in biology,” he asserted.  “This is because there is no design, only chance and necessity.”  As examples, he pointed to “useless” DNA, introns and genetic subdivisions that do not appear associated with morphological landmarks.

1Gines Morata, “Q&A,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 23, 5 December 2006, Pages R976-R977.

Current Biology is a leading source of candidates for the SEQOTW prize.  Each issue, the journal interviews a biologist who usually spills the refried Darwin beans out the wrong end, but the editor takes in the methane aroma like a perfume (11/08/2006, 04/08/2002).  This is where Lynn Cassimeris last July called Darwin her Daddy (see 07/18/2006) and where the obligatory answer to “Who is your scientific hero?” is “Charles Darwin, of course.”  They just luv the bearded buddha who introduced Tinker Bell into science and bankrolled the Starving Storytellers.
    It seems to escape Morata’s attention that he just asserted several absurd beliefs without a twinge of conscience or sense of fairness that some debate about these assertions might be in order: viz, that materialistic philosophy (chance and necessity) is a fact, that mindlessness produces minds, and that aimlessness produces inventions worthy of human emulation.  He is also apparently unaware that the concept of junk DNA is on the way out (05/04/2006).  A thankless soul, he dismisses the designs that allow him to breathe, eat, see and think as “inelegant”.  And he commits the fallacy of personification by presenting evolution as an inventor and problem solver who makes choices.  This is the kind of scholarship that allows one to rise to a professorship in biology these days.  One can only hope his students have more sense.

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Categories: Biomimetics, Dumb Ideas

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