Leaping to Evolutionary Conclusions
In classical science, researchers were reluctant to announce bold conclusions without sufficient data. These days, it seems that science reporters are quick to announce sweeping conclusions that go far beyond the evidence – especially if they appear to support some sort of evolution.
- Planet magic crystal: Where to find intelligent life? Look for stars depleted in lithium. That seems to be the implication of a story in the BBC News and Science Daily that extrapolated measurements of lower lithium levels from some stars known to have planets. Maybe the aliens around those stars are using it for di-lithium crystals. Clara Moskowitz didn’t even need the lithium. Simple sunlike stars “May be Cosmic Road Signs to Intelligent Aliens,” she announced on Space.com. To her, this is all very logical: “The distinction between habitable planets and planets harboring intelligent life is based on the fact that intelligent life requires stars with lifetimes greater than the time required for intelligence to evolve,” she said. “For example, in the case of this solar system, we could not find ourselves around a star with a lifetime less than 4.5 billion years.” No other source for intelligent life than blind, purposeless evolution was entertained as a possibility.
- Cool earth: Science Daily leapt from a Stanford study of isotope ratios in rocks said to be 3.4 billion years old that the earth was cooler a billion years earlier than thought, and therefore life must have evolved earlier than thought. “Their findings suggest that the early ocean was much more temperate and that, as a result, life likely diversified and spread across the globe much sooner in Earth’s history than has been generally theorized.” How one gets from isotope ratios to life was not clear.
- Origin of life: An article in Science Daily is accompanied by a picture that looks like a scene from Frankenstein. Researchers at NASA-Ames are zapping ice with ultraviolet light. The headline announces, “NASA Reproduces A Building Block Of Life In Laboratory.” What really happened was that they made uracil (one of the pyrimidines in RNA) under highly specialized conditions. It’s not really news, anyway; Jonathan Sarfati on Creation.com wrote about this 10 years ago. Nevertheless, one of the researchers fired a conclusion heard round the universe: “Since we are simulating universal astrophysical conditions, the same is likely wherever planets are formed.” They speculated that UV light shining on ices could have formed the uracil in comets, but did not explain how the “whimpy” [sic] molecules would have survived re-entry or concentrated in significant amounts to do any good.
- Plant charity: PhysOrg reported on work on the yellow jewelweed. Experiments show that it recognizes kin from non-kin and adjusts its growth accordingly. Conclusion: “This study demonstrates that plants are social organisms. It shows that altruism is possible among plants and that response to both kin and strangers depend on the ecology of the plant species.” When they find plants donating to the Red Cross, they’ll really be onto something.
- Missing dino link: The BBC News announced, “Missing link dinosaur discovered.” It’s a sauropod that the discoverers infer walked on two legs most of the time but occasionally walked on all fours. But then the article added that it lived in the early Jurassic. “Although structurally it’s intermediate, it lived too late to be an actual ancestor, because true sauropods already existed [then].” Now it has to be described as an extinct “living fossil” (an oxymoron) because “the transition” (for which there is no evidence) “must have happened much earlier.” Science Daily was only slightly more reserved, announcing Darwinly, “New Species Of Vegetarian Dinosaur Close To Common Ancestor Of Gigantic Sauropods.”
- Dino sweat: Speaking of dinosaurs, PhysOrg reported on a comparative analysis of dinosaur body types. The scientists inferred that some of them must have been warm blooded because if not it would be hard for them to function. The headline: “Warm-blooded dinosaurs worked up a sweat.” The article also claimed that this demonstrates that warm-bloodedness (endothermy) “evolved” earlier: “This pushes the evolution of endothermy further back into the ancient past than many researchers expected, suggesting that dinosaurs were athletic, endothermic animals throughout the Mesozoic era.” No fossil dinosaur pole-vaulters were discovered.
- Bird philosophy: Some songbirds appear to use sets of syllables in their songs. PhysOrg jumped into a discussion of “The Link Between Birdsong And Human Language.” Maybe there is more scholarship in those tweets than we thought.
- Talking genes: Most popular science outlets were abuzz today about a paper in tomorrow’s Nature that discussed more research into the FOXP2 gene and its complex interactions with motor actions.1 The paper was reserved in its implications, as was the review by Dominguez and Rakic in the same issue,1 which said of the work by Konopka et al, “it answers many questions, but raises even more.” You wouldn’t know that by looking at the Live Science headline, where Jeanna Bryner announced triumphantly, “Human Speech Gene Found.” PhysOrg followed suit, saying, “Why can’t chimps speak? Study links evolution of single gene to human capacity for language.” New Scientist was a little more careful, saying in its headline, “Suite of chatterbox genes discovered.” It should be noted that no gene can create language (in terms of semantics, syntax, and abstract thought). What has been found is that mutations to the human FOXP2 gene cause serious problems with speech because the motor neurons involved in talking are affected.
1. Konopka et al, “Human-specific transcriptional regulation of CNS development genes by FOXP2,” Nature 462, 213-217 (12 November 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08549.
2. Martin H. Dominguez and Pasko Rakic, “Language evolution: The importance of being human,” Nature 462, 169-170 (12 November 2009) | doi:10.1038/462169a.
It’s kind of funny watching the Darwinists go ape in their news stories. They are desperately trying to shore up support for Darwin by showing that naturalistic science can do the job from the bottom up. This has all the hallmarks of East Germany boasting the day before the Berlin Wall fell. In spite of his collapsing economy, Honnecker was so confident of his ideology, he was planning a new high-tech fence that didn’t need guards to mow down its citizens wishing to escape to freedom; it could do the job automatically. Before he knew what hit him he was history.
Look how Eugenie Scott is fighting little Ray Comfort with an arsenal of resources to overwhelm his little initiative to offer a little bit of Darwin-skeptical material to college students: she’s got a new Don’t Diss Darwin campaign to scare academia into action: “Creationism is coming to a campus near you.” The campaign website even sells “Darwin: Evolve!” posters and other silly propaganda – posters, bookmarks and flyers.
Why the paranoia? The Darwin Stasi know that once the wall is breached there is no going back. Do your part to tear down this wall. Work fast: if it falls before Nov. 24, the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s Origin, wouldn’t that be one for the history books: big party for has-been falls flat.