December 2, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinists Twist Causation

Philosophers know that correlation is not causation.
Darwinists routinely forget that.

 

Mindless Causation

When variations in Earth’s orbit drive biological evolution (CNRS). Notice that the headline says that slight variations in Earth’s orbit drive biological evolution. How can it do that? The scientists looked at tiny fossilized remains of microscopic algae called coccolithophores that build elaborate shells of exquisite design. They plotted average sizes of these tiny shells against “evolutionary time” (the geological column, measured in Darwin Years). Manipulating statistics, they concocted some correlations with theoretical Milankovitch cycles, which presumably cause very slight changes in climate over hundreds of thousands of years as the Earth’s orbital eccentricity would be expected to oscillate slightly in a cyclical pattern.

To achieve this, no less that 9 million coccoliths, spanning an interval of 2.8 million years and several locations in the tropical ocean, were measured and classified using automated microscope techniques and artificial intelligence. The researchers observed that coccoliths underwent cycles of higher and lower diversity in size and shape, with rhythms of 100 and 400 thousand years. They also propose a cause: the more or less circular shape of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which varies at the same rhythms. Thus, when Earth’s orbit is more circular, as is the case today (this is known as low eccentricity), the equatorial regions show little seasonal variation and species that are not very specialised dominate all the oceans. Conversely, as eccentricity increases and more pronounced seasons appear near the equator, coccolithophores diversify into many specialised species, but collectively produce less limestone.

Numerous problems render this so-called research indistinguishable from divination. One is sample size: 9 million is a minuscule sample for such abundant creatures, and sampling “several locations” leaves a lot of room for cherry picking. These shells are so tiny, it would be like sorting sand grains by average size and shape and looking for cycles within artificially-assumed time periods. Even if there were oscillations found, something other than orbital cycles could be responsible for sorting them. These are the least serious problems.

More serious problems include assumptions of biological evolution and deep time. Also, Milankovitch theory is highly questionable. Not even the true believers in these cycles know how such slight variations could affect evolution in any way (see 22 June 2018 “Why Milankovitch Cycle Theory is Like Astrology” and 2 June 2009, “Milankovitch Cycles Indistinguishable from Randomness”).

The most serious objection to this article (and the paper in Nature behind it, Beaugfort et al., “Cyclic evolution of phytoplankton forced by changes in tropical seasonality,” 01 Dec 2021), is its confusion of correlation with causation. If you look at the graphs superimposed, one can see inconsistent correlations even if one accepts the premise. But why assume that one cycle causes another cycle? Why go from there to call the orbital cycle a driver of evolution? How can orbital cycles force evolution to occur? What is it about orbits that has the creative power to put selection pressure on animals?

Cartoon by Brett Miller. Used by permission.

The paper is filled with the e-word evolution. But did they observe orbital eccentricity producing random mutations that were naturally selected? Was there any evolutionary progress observed? No; just oscillations of coccolith sizes and shapes: “cyclic evolution.” What’s evolution got to do with it? Nothing.

A Cause as Its Own Cause

The bryozoan mystery: a new look at an old fossil reveals the origin of these tiny coral-like creatures (The Conversation). Another phylum has been added to the Cambrian explosion: colonial organisms called bryozoans. These complex animals have organs and systems but prefer to assist each other in colonies. What caused them to appear?

Most groups of modern animals had their beginnings more than half a billion years ago in an amazing evolutionary event known as the Cambrian Explosion….

Many familiar features of today’s animals arose in this period. The first eyes and other sensory organs developed, and appendages for swimming and walking also appeared. Tooth-rimmed jaws for predation evolved, as did complex hard parts for protection against predators.

Almost all the animal phyla we know of “arose” in this period. Their senses “developed.” The appendages “appeared.” Their teeth “evolved.” Now, bryozoans can be added to this explosion of new life forms. But what caused them? Apparently, nothing. They were correlated with other phyla, so the simultaneous appearance of multiple independent body plans (a correlation) must have influenced the bryozoans to appear, too (causation). That’s absurd, but it’s what most evolutionary biologists believe without thinking about it. It’s like magic:

It’s not every day the hidden history of an entire group of animals is revealed by the fossil record! For context, this would be like revealing the early ancestor of every fish, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal all in one go.

Our discovery pushes back the first appearance of the phylum Bryozoa by about 35 million years, making Protomelission the oldest known bryozoan. Importantly, our results also mean that living in colonies, a rare feature in complex animals, also originated during the Cambrian Explosion.

The researchers, Glenn Brock and Luke Strotz, seem excited by this uncaused correlation. “The bryozoans can now take their place among the incredible evolutionary and ecological events associated with the rise of animal communities.” Here they make evolution itself (“evolutionary events”) the cause of evolution (“the rise of” animals). What a concept: a cause is its own cause!

Watch out for the terms that drive this madness: selective pressure, environmental forcing, driver, and similar phrases. One must return to the fact that natural selection is synonymous with chance, with anti-causation. Neil Thomas said it well in Evolution News on December 1, “Natural Selection: A Conceptually Incoherent Term” —

It is hardly surprising that in a recent attempt to pin down the precise phenomenological status of “natural selection,” David Brown concluded that the term is more of a fuzzy imaginative construct than a phenomenon we might locate in the natural world itself. The term lacks an adequately defined referent because such a referent has never been empirically locatable in nature, making the term something of a phantom without material existence. In other words, more than 160 years after Darwin formulated the term, the unsettling truth is that nobody really knows what natural selection might mean or indeed if it means anything at all.

 

 

 

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