November 25, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Junk Darwinism Clutters Science

If an objective English teacher read a typical science paper, she would cross out the Darwinese as deadwood that adds nothing.

Chuck-in-the-Box keeps popping up uninvited, interrupting the science.

Darwin. Who needs him? He keeps popping up uninvited, cluttering science papers and articles with his BAD ideas (see definition of BAD in the Darwin Dictionary). Science writing would be much cleaner and understandable without him. Like Sergeant Friday of Dragnet used to say, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” Dear scientist, tell the public what the question was, the hypothesis that was tested, the methods and materials, the findings, and the conclusions. You can also brag about the value of the findings. But cross out the Darwinese. Like deadwood in bad writing, it just adds clutter. Here are some recent examples of news articles that would be cleaner and leaner without evolutionary storytelling, and tastier without Darwin Fudge on top.

Of crows and tools (Science Magazine). Barbara Klump is an expert on tool use in animals. Specifically, she has observed two species of crows, one in the New Caledonian Islands and one in Hawaii, that routinely shape twigs into hooks in order to catch food in tight places. That’s really interesting to know. But what’s Darwin got to do with it? She starts off well enough, speaking about intelligent design in humans:

Hammers and chisels, pens and smartphones: Human life is built on tool use. Indeed, each of us likely uses tools every day. For a long time, crafting tools was thought to be uniquely human. And although we know that many species occasionally use tools, everyday tool use is extremely rare in the animal kingdom.

It’s a bit generous to call a bent twig a tool, compared to a man-made spacecraft or robot, but it is nice to know that God endowed animals with enough brain power to find food in tight spots.

The invention of the hook was one of the key technological advances in our own evolutionary history in the middle stone age, allowing us to develop productive fishing technologies and weapons with enhanced killing power.

Wait a sec. Didn’t the first inventor of a fishhook use his brain? Didn’t every fisherman since “develop productive fishing technologies” by design? This is history, not “evolutionary history.” Strike out the useless word “evolutionary” and read the sentence again. Now it makes sense and fits the evidence.

Klump adds more deadwood talking about two species of crows that “evolved” their tool-making skills separately. Notice the number of hedging words as she ramps up the perhapsimaybecouldness index to weave her tale. Watch the highlighted words:

It is probably no coincidence that these two distantly related tool-using crow species evolved on remote tropical islands. With no woodpeckers, there is little competition for embedded food sources, and in the absence of big predators, the crows can spend less time maintaining vigilance and use more time to develop tool use. Remote islands, therefore, combine rare ecological conditions that seem to aid the evolution of foraging tool use in birds. The evolution of human tool use might have been similarly facilitated by the reduction in predation risk that accompanied the transition from solitary life to living in groups.

The uselessness of the Darwinese in this story is only exceeded by its illogic. Did the crows meet at the Crow Bar and discuss their plans? Did they say, “Hey guys, we don’t have to watch the woodpeckers any more, so let’s use more time to ‘develop’ tool use”? Tell any human inventor that they “evolved” their creative works and see what happens. Of course humans have predators—other humans! Didn’t Ms Klump ever learn about Iran and North Korea, or radical Islamic terrorists and common street criminals or sexual predators? This makes no sense at all.

A solitary crow, furthermore, can make a hook without help from another crow. And other animals live in groups, like herds of cows and wildebeest, but they don’t “develop” tools (notice the euphemism for blind, unguided Darwinian evolution). She doesn’t understand her own theory. Tool use has nothing to do with solitude, society, or spare time. It has to do with using the brains we were given. Did she use her brain to observe crows and write a paper about them? In her way of thinking, evolution did it all. She has no free will. She was just a pawn of Darwin’s mystical forces and “selection pressures.”

Klump thinks chance (i.e., Darwinian evolution, the Stuff Happens Law) is “facilitated” by removal of predation risk. How about some real science, Ms Klump? Show us some equations. Plot some data on a graph: tool use on the abscissa, predation risk on the ordinate. Otherwise, turn off the Darwinese and cut the ‘perhaps’ words. And cut out the useless futureware, too.

Our own tool-making journey is unparalleled, having enabled us to walk on the Moon in what amounts to an evolutionary eye-blink after the first fishing hook was crafted. But two tool-using crow species on remote tropical islands can still offer insight into how we became the master tool users we are today.

Drinking Darwine on the job? If the first fishing hook was “crafted,” it did not evolve. Ask any surviving Apollo astronaut if he got there with Darwin’s help.

Verdict: the Darwinese in this article cluttered it up with useless words and inebriated ideas. Crows are smart. People are smarter. Just the facts, Ma’am.

Scientists discover body’s protection shield (Phys.org). Here is an informative article about the body’s immune system that should inspire awe at the foresight put into cells to protect us against bacteria.

When a tissue is damaged, (either accidentally or through surgery), the body quickly recruits immune cells to the injury site where they fight infection by engulfing and killing invading pathogens, through the release of toxic factors (such as unstable molecules containing oxygen known as “reactive oxygen species” e.g. peroxides). However, these bactericidal products are also highly toxic to the host tissue and can disrupt the repair process. To counteract these harmful effects the repairing tissue activates powerful protective machinery to “shield” itself from the damage.

But then, out of nowhere, Darwin pops up. In the last paragraph, Dr Helen Weavers from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Life Sciences throws in a smoke bomb, a totally unnecessary opinion that not only clutters the article, but makes chance into an intelligent designer! She says, “we think the resilience machinery has evolved as a fail-safe mechanism for tissue protection each time inflammation is triggered.” Darwin doesn’t belong in this story. Get the Bearded Buddha out of here!

Honeybees use their wings for water surface locomotion (PNAS). Here’s an interesting paper about another skill honeybees have. When trapped in water, they can “hydroplane” with their legs underwater to get higher where their wings can help them escape (see Science Daily‘s summary). The science is fine until the last paragraph, when the authors take their Darwine break and start confabulating mythoids.

More broadly, winged locomotion on a water surface could be an evolutionarily important category of biolocomotion. One of the hypotheses on the origin of insect flight is that flight evolved from the locomotion on a water surface, on which the weight of an organism is offset by either buoyancy or surface tension. While it is unlikely that the honeybee’s flight evolved from their water surface locomotion, the mechanism of hydrofoiling may have biomechanical resemblances to early preflight locomotion.

This is absurd and uncalled for. Powered flight of any kind requires massive remodeling of an animal’s entire body: its weight, its aerodynamics, its brain software, and a host of other things. Any insect using “preflight locomotion” to fly would quickly drown. What was it flapping, its legs? If the animal had surface tension, like a water strider, why don’t we see those evolving flight? The authors even state that it is “unlikely that the honeybee’s flight evolved from their water surface locomotion” (that’s an understatement!), they dream on, visualizing the bee’s behavior as some kind of atavism of “early preflight locomotion.” Ask yourself if the science of this article was improved in any way by the Darwin clutter.

We need cleaning crews at school boards, biology teacher conventions, journals and science news sites who can remove the Darwin clutter from science. Now that you know what to look for, you can unclutter science articles yourself. Try these out as exercises:

Coming to a head: How vertebrates became predators by tweaking the neural crest (Phys.org).

Missing link found? ‘Original Bigfoot’ was close relative of orangutan, study says (Fox News Science).

Striking variation in mechanisms that drive sex selection in frogs (Science Daily).

 

 

 

 

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