February 25, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionists Turn Misses into Wins

Evolutionists have evolved a skill by design – the ability to turn falsification into confirmation.  It’s a kind of philosophical judo, or parry, that can turn the energy of a criticism into a win for Darwin. 

  1. Convergent turnarounds:  A good example of an evolutionary parry can be seen in a post on Science Daily entitled, “Homoplasy: A Good Thread to Pull to Understand the Evolutionary Ball of Yarn.”  Homoplasy is a jargon term for convergent evolution – the idea that unrelated organisms can converge on the same solution to a problem via evolution.  Three evolutionists funded by the National Science Foundation came up with these whoppers:

    The authors provide many fascinating examples of homoplasy, including different species of salamanders that independently, through evolution, increased their body-length by increasing the lengths of individual vertebrae.  By contrast, most species grow longer by adding vertebrae through evolution.
        The authors also explain how petals in flowers have evolved on six separate occasions in different plants.  A particularly striking example of homoplasy cited by the authors is the evolution of eyes, which evolved many times in different groups of organisms—from invertebrates to mammals—all of which share an identical genetic code for their eyes.

    If evolving eyes one time is spectacularly hard for a random process, it would seem that multiple independent cases would falsify evolution big time.  Instead, these authors, with taxpayer funding, decided that the damaging evidence was really a triumph for Darwin: “These kinds of examples of genetic and developmental biology help scientists elucidate relationships between organisms, as well as develop a fuller picture of their evolutionary history.”

  2. Victory in defeat:  Even when admitting mistakes, evolutionists are never ready to give up on their theory.  An example of unfeigned faith is seen in Live Science, where reporter Natalie Wolchover told how two headline-making fossils touted by their discoverers as human ancestors have turned out to have nothing to do with humans: “they’re probably just non-hominin ape bones.”  Readers might recall how headlines blared in recent years that Orrorin tugenensis,Sahelanthropus tchadensis and Ardipithecus ramidus were shedding light on human evolution (03/05/2004, 10/02/2009, 11/25/2009)  Now that Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison have debunked these claims (02/16/2011), is evolution in trouble?  Not according to them:

    Skepticism regarding these famous primate fossil finds seems to call into question the rigor of the scientific process within the field of paleoanthropology.  Wood’s and Harrison’s paper certainly makes one wonder: Are these isolated incidents of misinterpretation followed by media hype, or does the problem pervade the whole branch of science?  Is the human evolutionary fossil record a crapshoot?
        “No,” said Harrison.  There are reasons why this branch of science may seem messier than most, he said, but all things considered, it is doing extremely well.

    Harrison’s firm response to Wolchover’s worries recalls the cover story of National Geographic in Nov 2004, “Was Darwin Wrong?” with its confident NO inside (see 10/24/2004 and the resulting letters to the editor, 02/15/2005).

  3. Polygamy games:  A particularly bizarre twist on evolutionary parrying was reported in PhysOrg about Mormon history: “Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives’ evolutionary fitness.”  After stating that fitness of “sister wives” decreased in polygamous households (measured by number of children produced), the researchers at Indiana University were left with the conundrum of why evolution would produce polygamy in the first place, whether among human beings or bacteria.  Michael Wade was ready with a ring buoy for Darwin:

    So if polygamy (or the female equivalent, polyandry) is disadvantageous to most of the sequestered sex and most of the mate-sequestering sex, why should such systems survive?
        “The complete answer is still forthcoming,” Wade said.  “One thing we know now, based on rigorous studies in many species, particularly the fruit fly, is that selection can be so strong on males that it can drag the entire species off of a naturally selected viability optimum.”

    Aside from equating Mormons to fruit flies, Wade seems to have just said that natural selection can drag a species away from increased fitness.  WWDD?  What would Darwin do about that idea?

Darwinians appear very adept at turning criticism into praise.  Whether this neat trick justifies evolution as a scientific theory is a different question.  Does it really lead to deeper understanding of evolution, or is it sophistry?

It’s sophistry.  See?  Our commentaries are not always verbose.
Aside:  Apparently the irony of #1’s headline was lost on the reporters: “…the Evolutionary Ball of Yarn.”  Apt description.

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