Evolution: A Useless Tag
Scientists should drop the word “evolved”
from their writing. It obscures much and
Today we will show bad examples of the word “evolved” in science news stories. Tomorrow we will share examples of good, clean science that doesn’t mention evolution. The lesson will be clear: evolution is a useless word.
Evolution-talk (what we call Darwinese) doesn’t add anything to the empirical value of observational science. It does harm in three ways: (1) by obscuring empirically-verifiable causes that the scientist should be pursuing, (2) by importing materialistic philosophy into scientific explanation, and (3) by nudging readers to think that Darwinian evolution is useful in science. As the articles below demonstrate, though, evolution muddies the waters of research. It crosses the line into the religion of scientism.
Science would liberate itself by cutting off Darwin’s ball and chain, leaving researchers free to think outside the box and follow the evidence where it leads. In too many cases, Darwinism brings perverse incentives for laziness into the lab.
Study explains how part of the nucleolus evolved (MIT News, 15 Aug 2023). Cell biologists are becoming fascinated with short-term condensates in the cell (see my article at Evolution News). There are also long-term compartments bound by membranes, such as the nucleolus, where ribosomes are assembled. Scientists can observe differences between the nucleoli in birds and mammals. They can also observe that bacteria don’t have a nucleolus. MIT scientists found a protein implicated in the compartmentalization of the nucleolus.
That’s all fine and good, but such observations say nothing about how the nucleolus “evolved” (or if it did evolve), yet this article uses the e-word eight times, putting the alleged evolution far back in the mystical past of millions of unobserved Darwin Years. Evolutionary theory supposedly offers “insight” and “understanding” and might aid technology, they say, but then the text fails to deliver any of those things. Notice the hedging words “could” and “might” —
- Study explains how part of the nucleolus evolved.
- The findings could help to explain a major evolutionary shift, which took place around 300 million years ago, in how the nucleolus is organized.
- “If you look across the tree of life, the basic structure and function of the ribosome has remained quite stable; however, the process of making it keeps evolving.
- Our hypothesis for why this process keeps evolving is that it might make it easier to assemble ribosomes by compartmentalizing the different biochemical reactions,” says Eliezer Calo, an associate professor of biology at MIT and the senior author of the study.
- The findings also offer insight into how other condensates may have originally evolved in cells, the researchers say.
- Based on the findings of this study, the researchers hypothesize that cellular condensates that emerged earlier in evolutionary history may have originally been scaffolded by a single protein, as TCOF1 scaffolds the fibrillar center, but gradually evolved to become more complex.
- Scaffold evolution: The researchers also found that the essential region of TCOF1 that helps it form scaffolds is the glutamate-rich low-complexity regions.
These scientists don’t catch the nonsense of claiming that the ribosome’s function has been “quite stable” for 300 million years, but the “process of making it keeps evolving.” So evolution is a pervasive feature of life except when it isn’t? They’re trying to have it both ways. If they would just cut out the Darwinese they would get better science (and better logic).
Examining the factors that affect curiosity across species (Max Planck Society, 15 Aug 2023). Humans are curious. Some other mammals are curious (“Curiosity killed the cat,” remember?). Many great apes, though, do not show curiosity in the wild, though they do in captivity. That’s the observational science. But from there, the MPS guys feel obligated to whitewash the observations with Darwinese.
- …almost nothing is known about how great apes respond to novelty in the natural habitats in which they evolved.
- …the study reveals the conditions that spark curiosity in orangutans, and sheds light on how our own curious natures might have evolved.
- “If we want to know how the trait evolved in us, we have to study it in our closest living relatives.”
- “We know that apes are very curious to explore when they are in the safe and controlled conditions of a zoo,” says Schuppli. “But these results tell us little about what really triggered or suppressed curiosity over our evolutionary history.”
The MPS team conducted experiments by placing novel items in the habitat of orangutans, but nothing conclusive was demonstrated (read the article and see). Even if it were shown that the orangs showed curiosity in some ways, it says nothing about how “curiosity evolved.” That is a figment of the scientists’ imagination that they imported into the explanation. Indeed, some “lower” animals show more curiosity than our alleged “closest living relatives,” which contradicts evolutionary explanations. The conclusions also commit the glittering generalities fallacy by assuming that all humans are curious. Some clearly are not. Some are curious at some times and not others, or are curious about some subjects and not others. Does the behavior of a few apes in one forest justify such extrapolation? Worst of all, the MIT crew never identified any random mutations that got selected to cause curiosity to “emerge” where it did not exist before.
Sensory evolution: Fish smelling well in the water and in the air (Charles University via Phys.org, 15 Aug 2023). Fish smell. They smell really good (in terms of olfactory performance; see Illustra video). The sense of smell is one of the most complicated of all senses, requiring multiple stages of combinatorial calculation to sort thousands of odorants into recognizable categories and quantify their concentrations. Olfactory receptors are still barely understood by observational science.
Evolutionists at Charles University are determined to force Darwinism onto this amazing ability and make readers believe it just happened. To do so, they have to ramp up the power of suggestion, applying generous coats of Darwin Flubber.
“For the sense of smell, we know the molecular basis of the olfactory receptors, which are basically proteins able to detect different substances. We can therefore focus on the genes coding these proteins and study their evolution,” says Zuzana Musilová.
- The authors of the study found the same pattern in multiple fish lineages that have independently evolved their terrestrial exploration capacity.
- Thus, the authors suggest that it was evolutionarily important for these lineages of fishes to develop a better sense of smell suitable for both environments.
- The authors of the paper further suggest that something similar might have occurred hundreds of millions of years ago during the water-to-land transition of our fish-like ancestors that later evolved in terrestrial vertebrates.
- Thus, apart from more evident evolutionary processes such as the transformation of fins into limbs, a new type of sensory change might have been added to the list of those key evolutionary processes that allowed us—and many other animals—to live on land.
Arithmetic has a biological origin – it’s an expression in symbols of the ‘deep structure’ of our perception (The Conversation, 14 Aug 2023). In this article, Randolph Grace, a psychology prof at the University of Canterbury, tries to put an evolutionary spin on the human capacity to comprehend abstract mathematics. To make his genetic determinism work, he has to speculate and also misrepresent Darwinism. Remember that Darwinian evolution has no foresight, no guidance, and doesn’t care what happens (unless one turns natural selection into a benevolent deity of some sort). It has no capacity to “fine-tune” anything for a purpose.
- Arithmetic may be based on biology and special in some way because of evolution’s fine-tuning.
- Thus, arithmetic is special because it is a consequence of these purely qualitative conditions. We argue that these conditions are principles of perceptual organisation that shape how we and other animals experience the world – a kind of “deep structure” in perception with roots in evolutionary history.
Grace openly admits that mathematics is uniquely human: “only humans have invented mathematics,” he says. “It is humanity’s most intimate creation, a realisation in symbols of the fundamental nature and creativity of the mind.” That defies evolution. But then he leaps into eastern mysticism at the end (a theological speculation), claiming that his work disproves dualism (the idea that mind and body are distinct), and that it supports Buddhism or New Zealand native Mauri religion. Go figure.
Evolution, evolution, evolution. Don’t you get tired of it? What, pray tell, does it add to our understanding of nature?
Darwin’s Stuff Happens Law is the antithesis of science. Researchers should not be throwing up their hands and saying “stuff happens” to explain biological phenomena; they should be figuring out how things work with as much detail as they can observe. Leave the philosophy and religion to those qualified to talk about it. Science deals with the What and How, not the Why.
Tomorrow we highlight good biological research being done without any reference to evolution. This will help balance out the coverage, and will hopefully alleviate the discomfort of having had to look at more of Darwin’s Hall of Shame.