Stretching Credibility in Evolutionary Stories
Improbable events happening numerous times; selective extinctions; voodoo phylogenetics – at what point do evolutionary explanations exceed the threshold of credibility a trusting public grants to the gurus of the culture, scientists?
Four miracles: Getting one central nervous system by an unguided process would seem unlikely enough, but now, without a twinge of shame, Ferris Jabr at New Scientist tells us it happened four times. Jabr relayed, without any cross examination, the new idea of an evolutionary biologist at Auburn University, summarizing it thus: “The new findings expand a growing body of evidence that in very different groups of animals – molluscs and mammals, for instance – central nervous systems evolved not once, but several times, in parallel.” (While at it, the evolutionist rearranged the mollusc family tree.) Because the new family tree shows that gastropods and cephalopods are not as related as once thought, it can only mean one thing: “they must have evolved their centralised nervous systems independently, at different times.” If this was a crackpot view from one university it might be forgiven, but a neurobiologist at Georgia State chimed in, “This is more evidence that you can get complexity emerging multiple times.”
Imaginary feathers redux: National Geographic News takes the cake for leaping from amber fuzz to dinosaur feathers: “Incredible" Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber.” In the picture show, not one hint was given that these feather pieces might have all come from birds (see 9/15/2011). Ditto for a video posted by BBC News where BBC reporter Pallab Ghosh. Spilling pieces of amber on the table top, he says “Here's the proof” (cue up the artist animation of feathered dinosaurs) – “actual feathers from dinosaurs living 85 million years ago.” It’s not sure what Ghosh proved other than his own assumptions, but he filmed co-author Phil Currie sharing his excitement. Isn’t this the same Phil Currie who told the makers of Voyage that Shook the World that scientists tend to see what they want to see?
Fossil record gap caulk: Ashamed of those embarrassing systematic gaps in the fossil record, the trade secret of paleontology? Need to reconcile them with the embarrassing mismatch with molecular phylogenetics? No problem; just selectively massage the data in a new model, and everything matches. That’s what Penn State scientists did. Read about it on Science Daily, “New Technique Fills Gaps in Fossil Record.” Just don’t look under the rug.
Your father tongue: It may not seem clear to the average reader how this reporter got from here to there: “Your mother tongue may come from your father,” New Scientist announced, based on genetic comparisons. “The language of some cultures correlates with a prehistoric influx of foreign males.” How genes create a language was not explained, or how one could know what language the inflowing males spoke.
Selective extinction: According to the evolutionary timeline, dinosaurs occupied a tremendous range of habitats for tens of millions of years, surviving everything till a meteorite hit the Earth. Even though they came in all sizes and shapes, this meteorite killed off every last one of them, but left a few spare birds and mammals around to repopulate the planet. That’s what Science Daily said in “Primitive Birds Shared Dinosaurs’ Fate,” that only the “primitive” birds died. Nicholas “Longrich [Yale] believes a small fraction of the Cretaceous bird species survived the impact, giving rise to today’s birds.” But in almost the same breath in another article, Science Daily announced, “NASA’s WISE Raises Doubt About Asteroid Family Believed Responsible for Dinosaur Extinction.” The prime candidate family of impactors couldn’t do it. Readers are offered a mystery story in exchange: “the family of asteroids some believed was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs is not likely the culprit, keeping open the case on one of Earth’s greatest mysteries.” It must have happened, though, because Live Science posted a picture of the asteroid on the way in.
Evolution of overconfidence: Narcissism evolved because “Overestimating our abilities can be a strategy for success,” National Geographic reported based on a study at the University of Edinburgh. In “Evolution of Narcissism: Why We're Overconfident, and Why It Works,” Reporter Christine Dell’Amore posted art of David slaying Goliath, displacing the object of David’s confidence from God onto himself. She also failed to ask if study leader Dominic Johnson was perhaps a bit overconfident of his own theory. It’s also not clear how this squares with the epidemic of low self-esteem psychologists were warning everyone about for years.
If you need a laugh, or enjoy getting mad, read evolutionary explanations. They are the most creatively funny but deadly things in the news. No reporter ever questions these stories, either logically, historically, philosophically, evidentially or any other which way; they constantly reinforce a cultural myth, a religion, that is utterly intolerant of intelligent design. Reporters completely ignored the groundbreaking premieres of the film Metamorphosis that just took place in California, Oklahoma and Texas, but have a slobbering love affair with Richard Dawkins (NY Times), acting as his veritable publicity agents, and chant their praises to atheists who deign to tell us how religion evolved (LA Times). Pulling the thread that unravels their sweater is remarkably easy. If hubris evolved, like the last article claimed, then their own hubris also evolved. This short-circuits the evolutionary explanation when you think about it. They are just bragging about evolution because evolution made them do it. Anything they say, therefore, is not true, but pre-programmed nonsense. Nonsense cannot be an explanation; the alternative, therefore, that they are depraved sinners, stands. Q.E.D.