Natural Selection Is Useless, II: More Evidence
Continuing our discussion of whether natural selection has any value in science, we present more cases in the media.
Natural selection is useless in science, we alleged last week (4 Jan 2019). Because many will consider this an outlandish claim that can arouse accusations that it is anti-science and against common sense, some clarifications are in order before we provide more evidence. The biological literature is full of natural selection (hereafter NS) lingo and its derivatives. Evolutionists speak of positive selection, negative selection, purifying selection, group selection, kin selection, selective pressure, selective bottlenecks, and a host of other concepts. Surely the abundance of words cannot be about nothing, can it? Even many creationists bow before NS theory as a fact of nature. Some creationist speakers adorn their lectures with intuitively-obvious examples of NS in dogs, horses, and even human racial traits. Some even arrogantly attack other creationists who deny NS. How can we possibly contradict the obvious? Well, prepare to think. Prepare to see.
Clarifying the Claim
We are not talking about variation per se; that part is obvious. Variation is as common as flower color, flu variants, butterfly wing patterns, and similar variations in almost all species. Even we humans vary quite a bit, but are all members of one species. That kind of “horizontal” variation, whether by genetic drift or mate choice, does not innovate, a key word to understand when reading the literature. It does not create new functionality: wings, eyes, and brains that didn’t exist before. Variation is only the lesser part of the NS concept.
Darwin alleged that NS could innovate. He ascribed agency to the environment, picturing it as an invisible hand that scrutinized every variation, adding up everything that was good, rejecting everything that was bad. His book offered to explain the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, not the extinction of creatures by accident or differential survival. If that is what you think of when you hear NS, you should use another phrase, because that is not natural selection the way Darwin coined the term. Accordingly, “negative selection” and “purifying selection” should not borrow the word “selection” (which implies a selector) at all, but should be referred to as quality control or homeostasis. Nothing new is innovated in such cases.
Natural selection is Darwin’s phrase. Ideas that others had before or after Darwin are not relevant, because they are not congruent with the term the way Darwin used it. It is wrong, therefore, to say that Blyth or Paley or Patrick Matthew “discovered” the same idea that Darwin concocted. For one thing, they never used his phrase. More importantly, to Darwin, NS did far more than eliminate the weak. It was a “Designer substitute” responsible for the plethora of complex adaptations in nature. NS was his complexity ratchet to explain the progress of functional order and information-rich structures that drove life from the first replicator to the human brain.
What to Look For
When reading the science literature, do not be intimated or misled by jargon, bluffing, and a high perhapsimaybecouldness index (PMCI) dressed up with graphs, charts and photos when scientists talk about NS. We are searching for whether or not NS provides understanding of nature. We want to see whether it explains the wings of a bird or other complex innovations. We are looking for the law-like rigor in explanation that should characterize all science. We don’t want storytelling. Evolutionists have mastered the art of just-so stories that “might” explain this or that adaptation. Where’s the beef?
Last time, we saw Ann Gibbons waffling every which-way with a skyrocketing PMCI, unable to prove that NS had anything to do with the observations. Is NS a vera causa? Is it a natural law amenable to mathematical rigor? Is it useful to provide understanding of the living world? No, we say: it is a vacuous, post-hoc storytelling device that not only offers nothing useful, but distracts science from what it should be doing. It is modern-day phlogiston, pretending to explain why things act the way they do, but leading everyone astray in a big charade. The proof is in the way evolutionists actually use the phrase “natural selection” in their own words. Don’t take our word for it. Watch!
Examples of Empty Words in Natural Selection Articles
Signatures of selection in the human antibody repertoire: Selective sweeps, competing subclones, and neutral drift (Horns et al, PNAS). Let’s start with a highfalutin example from the National Academy of Sciences that threatens to undermine our assertion that NS is useless. This paper uses the word ‘selection’ a whopping 107 times, 24 of them in terms of “positive selection”— an indicator of fitness increase. It also uses the word ‘fitness’ 20 times, ‘phylogenetic’ 23 times, and concepts of population genetics dozens more times. Moreover, these words adorn charts and graphs appearing mathematically rigorous. How can NS be useless in a paper that uses the concept so diligently? Well, we find that this is really not a Darwinian paper at all. It’s about the highly functional way your immune system sorts through variants of antibodies in order to match antigens that could make you sick. It’s about intelligent design!
A better analogy would be the engineer who uses ‘evolutionary computing’ to sort through random combinations to find one that fits his design goals. Real biological NS has no goal; there is no agent selecting the optimum. In the human immune system, there is a goal: neutralizing the antigen through rapid experimentation with combinations. The authors call it ‘fitness’ when the antibody matches the antigen: the better the match, the higher the ‘fitness.’ They call it ‘phylogeny’ when that B cell lineage proliferates. But the immune system is programmed to ‘adapt’ to antibodies with this highly effective strategy of sorting through combinations until a match is found; then the match reproduces rapidly to stop the virus or germ.
The paper never mentions ‘innovation’, and the alleged ‘selection’ ends when the body dies. Nothing is passed on to the next generation. There is no origin of species. For all its use of NS terms, this paper has nothing to do with Darwin’s concept of NS. It could easily have been written in non-selectionist language, like ‘goal-directed, programmed matching through rapid recombination.’ The selectionist language, therefore, is a distraction, a misuse of Darwinian concepts in a situation having nothing to do with the ‘origin of species.’ It gives the appearance of support for Darwinism when, in actual fact, the subject matter does the exact opposite! For all its fluff, the paper not only fails to provide understanding of biology, it actively undermines it. It steals awe for intelligent design and sacrifices it to the Bearded Buddha. Should we not get angry about this distorted plagiarism?
Let’s quickly look at a few more examples of misuse of vacuous NS terminology.
How much are we learning? Natural selection is science’s best critic (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory). This prestigious laboratory on Long Island, famous for its racist eugenics studies before Hitler (as well as some useful discoveries about DNA), begins with a cartoony “March of Man” evolutionary icon, with a scientist at the higher end scrutinizing his ape ancestors like a detective with a magnifying glass. Watch the short video, where Dr Adam Siepel unveils his complete ignorance of Darwinian natural selection. “Natural selection is like a gardener,” he says, grinning, who “weeds out” the dandelions that randomly started growing in the lawn. For crying out loud, this is nonsense. For one thing, a gardener is an intelligent agent. Siepel assumes the more diligent the gardener (the video shows a lady weeding), the higher her fitness. This is so opposite what Darwin was proposing, it is incredible that a PhD at a prestigious science lab would say such a thing. And ‘weeding out’ dandelions is not innovation – the thing we are looking for. It is homeostasis by design: an agent with the goal of maintaining a clean, neat lawn by intentionally getting rid of weeds.
Then, Siepel goes on to talk about elimination of harmful mutations in the genome. Same problem: that is a programmed protection strategy, not a means of turning an ape into a flying Icarus with wings. Not only that, his examples of “natural selection” concern genomic regions that are highly conserved – that is, un-evolved. That requires the body to have an efficient means of quality control, able to maintain the integrity of essential genes and protect them from neutral drift and harmful mutations. The critical reader should gasp at the blatant misuse of Darwinian concepts in this context, as well as the press release’s visual propaganda showing apes evolving into scientists (see Bergman, 10 April 2018). “How much are we learning?” Indeed!
Darwin’s finches have developed a taste for junk food, and it may be impacting their evolution (Phys.org, UMass Boston). Groan for the happy-looking students pictured on the UMass website, for the junk science diet they will get, unsupplemented by nutritious critical thinking, due to Big Science and Big Education’s DOPE-y policy. In this press release, UMass trots out the old Darwin Finch icon, claiming that junk food left by tourists is making the finches evolve (by “natural selection,” of course), into fat slobs. Here’s a zinger of DOPE logic: “If we continue to feed finches… We’re getting in the way of evolution.” This can only mean that NS produced organisms that get in the way of NS. Accordingly, NS is a natural law that violates itself; “the selection pressures that would be naturally keeping them apart would be weakening, possibly leading to the collapse of the adaptive radiation of ground finches.” Let’s get this straight. Darwin’s NS led to organisms that evolved from bacteria into everything by an inexorable process, but some of its organisms (i.e., humans), evolved intelligent design that now leads to the collapse of NS, effectively making NS exorable instead of inexorable. Please score UMass on just how much understanding they generated using Darwin’s theory.
Lost ‘Darwinia’ islands could be origin of species in the Galapagos (New Scientist). Here’s another story from the Galapagos, the Holy Land of Darwin worshippers. Colin Barras and some others want to name a submerged (get it? underwater) chain of seamounts “Darwinia” to “honour Darwin, whose time in the current islands informed his theory of evolution by natural selection.” Turning up the perhapsimaybecouldness index, he and the Grants (who wasted their lives looking for Darwinian evolution in the finches that live on the islands), postulate that the underwater islands may have been above sea level millions of years ago. How wonderful. That may have given the animals millions of more years to evolve by natural selection. Now that the Stuff Happens Law may have had more time to work, do you understand the living birds and iguanas better? Oh, the wonder of NS. The wonder is that we fall for it and call it science.
Well, wasn’t that fun. Your understanding of biology just skyrocketed, thanks to Darwin. No wonder Richard Dawkins calls natural selection the most elegant theory in the history of science. It explains everything. Just make up a story, and it gets published, honored, and accepted by all the leading lights of B.S. (Big Science) and B.M. (Big Media). So yes, I guess we have to admit that NS is useful in science. It’s a ticket to stardom.
Examples like this could be multiplied; but next, we want to show good scientific research being done with reference to NS. You’ve been told that nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution. Is that true?
Incidentally, we invited anyone to send us their best example of NS leading to better understanding of biology. We have yet to receive a single proposal.