January 26, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinian Storytelling Dumbs Down Media

How silly does an evolutionary story
have to get before reporters revolt?

 

South Korean evolutionists get the gong for this one. They’re saying that dinosaurs evolved wings to shoo insects. They even built a robot to prove it: their invention “Robopteryx,” with a simplistic dinosaur head, raises wing-like arms with paddles for hands that come down in front of itself. In a video demonstration, the wobbly arms scared a grasshopper they had placed on the ground to jump away. This must have been what pre-birds did with their forelimbs, the Darwin storytellers imagined. Evolution, having covered these arms with imaginary feathers, co-opted the insect-shooing arms into feather dusters. The pre-birds discovered other uses for the feather dusters, including wings. Powered flight was on its way, thanks to Darwin!

Dinosaurs might have used feathers on forelimbs and tails to flush and pursue their prey, say biologists (Seoul National University, 25 Jan 2024, via Phys.org). This is the press release that started the Darwin Party press party.

What are the origins of wings and tails in birds? This is one of the key questions in the evolution of animals. It has long been accepted that their evolution began in feathered dinosaurs…. A new scientific collaboration involving a team of field-biologists and integrative ecologists … has proposed a new idea: the ‘flush-pursue hypothesis.’ Their paper was published in Scientific Reports.

You can now LOL. Must we count the ways this pseudoscientific nonsense should be laughed out of court?

  • They did not witness a dinosaur (or any other animal or bird) shooing insects with its forelimbs.
  • Their robot was built by design, not by evolution.
  • The story begs the question of Darwinian evolution.
  • It misuses Darwinian theory by claiming that the dinosaur “evolved” its arms “to scare prey.” Evolution has no purpose or foresight.
  • No genetic mutations were identified to create the traits and genes selected for this behavior.
  • Why would a dinosaur scare away a grasshopper instead of eating it?
  • There are a dozen other ways to scare prey than shooing it with feathered arms.
  • Powered flight has dozens of other physiological requirements than feathers on forelimbs.
  • The hypothesis fails to explain how bats, pterosaurs and insects themselves “evolved” powered flight.
  • The hypothesis fails to explain why other insect-eaters, like geckos, failed to evolve feathers and flight.
  • The authors fail to consider if Caudipteryx was secondarily flightless, not an incipient flyer.
  • A “scenario” is not a hypothesis. Imagining a pictorial progression does not lend itself to rigorous testing.
  • No instance of powered flight that anyone has ever observed (e.g., planes, drones) came about by terrifying grasshoppers.
  • Shlooping in fantasyland is bad for science.

Criticisms could be multiplied over this stupid tale enough to suffocate it in laughing gas. Science reporters, however, immediately took this story very seriously. They simultaneously celebrated their orgy at the Darwin Party with their creative writing.

Dinosaurs evolved feathers to scare prey, suggests robot experiment (New Scientist, 26 Jan 2024). “Experiments with a robotic dinosaur suggest feathers may have evolved to startle prey into fleeing from hiding places, a strategy used by some modern birds,” writes James Woodford.

South Korean Scientists Use Dinosaur Robots To Test Ideas About Origins Of Bird’s Wings, Tails (Nature World News). “Many dinosaur species developed wings long before they flew,” writes Anna Louise. “Scientists created a functioning replica of an early flying dinosaur to test a theory about how the appendages evolved.”

Robotic Dinosaur Tests How Dinos (and Birds) Got Wings (Scientific American). “Scientists built a robotic dinosaur to terrify grasshoppers, all in hopes of understanding how truly pathetic wings could offer prehistoric animals an evolutionary advantage,” writes Meghan Bartels.

Do Not Fear the Robo-Dinosaur, Learn From It (New York Times). “Scientists built a working model of an early winged dinosaur to test a hypothesis about how the appendages evolved.” So says Asher Elbein.

Scientists use robot dinosaur in effort to explain origins of birds’ plumage (The Guardian). “Model used by researchers in South Korea suggests early feathers may have helped creatures such as Caudipteryx to flush out prey,” opines Ian Sample. “If some feathered dinosaurs did hunt in this way, the behaviour could have driven the evolution of larger and stiffer feathers, they suggest.”

Scientists say their robot dinosaur could help explain the evolution of wings. But 1 expert says the study is flawed (Live Science). “A robot dinosaur is helping scientists peer into our prehistoric past to learn why some dinosaurs evolved feathered wings before they could fly,” chimes Kiley Price.

We’re calling you out, James, Anna, Meghan, Asher, Ian, Kiley, and all the others in the media. You should have been laughing your heads off instead of repeating this silly myth and showing their silly video. By giving it press, you have misled the public about the nature of science: it is not making up dumb stories, but observing and measuring things with mathematical rigor. And when you can’t observe a phenomenon, you’re supposed to consider all the possible causes to explain it, and make an inference to the best explanation, appealing to causes now in operation known to be capable of producing it. Every time we have observed a winged craft coming into existence, we know it was intended, planned, and designed. Intelligent minds had a goal, and built their craft to design specifications. You can’t just throw up your arms and say “Evolution did it!”

Only two reporters offered any alternatives to the evolutionary tale. James at New Scientist allowed one skeptic a word:

But Steven Salisbury at the University of Queensland, Australia, says this explanation is probably too simplistic. “It seems to me to be very unlikely that a structure as complex as a pennaceous feather would evolve for such a specific behavioural role,” he says. “I am sure there are lots of ways to scare grasshoppers other than to flap some feathers at it.”

At Live Science, Kiley quoted “one expert” who “says the study is flawed.” She quotes Jingmai O’Conner at Chicago’s Field Museum:

“However, I think it’s worth noting that there is no actual evidence that any of these non-volant [flightless] feathered dinosaurs with protowings, like Caudipteryx and Anchiornis, were insectivorous!”

“That is the only hiccup with this hypothesis but one that should certainly be considered,” she added.

But are we to praise James or Kiley for this? Their ‘experts’ are both evolutionists! They both believe that complex pennaceous feathers “evolved” and that birds “evolved” powered flight by non-engineered processes of natural selection! They only doubted one thing: that Caudipteryx (the extinct bird used as a model for “robodino”) ate grasshoppers. How skeptical is that? This is like the cook who responded to complaints about his fish balls so he gave his customers something new: fish cubes! No matter how you serve it, Darwine results in a drunken stupor that prevents critical thinking.

Not Again

This latest flap recalls an earlier one. In 2003, Ken Dial in Montana watched partridge chicks running up a slope, holding out their tiny wings to the sides as they ran. He built a whole new just-so story out of this he called WAIR—”Wing-assisted incline running.” This, he claimed was how flight evolved. Pre-bird dinosaurs (that he did not observe) might have held out their non-flying arms like these living birds do today. The arms might have served as stabilizers for dinosaurs wishing to fly. These arms later got co-opted into wings, and powered flight was born!

Like the new story, this Partridge Family myth dazzled the attention of all the Darwine-drunk media and became the leading hypothesis for the origin of flight. Ken Dial became a celebrity and advanced his career with his imaginary story. WAIR lasted for over a decade until it was finally debunked in 2016.

Reporters, you have the opportunity to get ahead of the pack. This new “simplistic” Korean myth of “flush-pursuit” will get discredited in due time, possibly years from now, like WAIR was. Debunk it now so that you can say, “I told you so!”

The Paper is No Better

The South Korean’s paper commits all the flaws in the list we gave.

Escape behaviors in prey and the evolution of pennaceous plumage in dinosaurs (Park et al., Nature Scientific Reports, 25 Jan 2024). The paper uses “evolution” and its related words 21 times, with 34 more instances in the references. Clearly the authors are biased in favor of Darwinism. Anna Louise points out this fact about the paper in her report at Nature World News:

Other scientists, however, may require some convincing. Jablonski stated that the researchers received “multiple refusals” from 11 publications before the study was assessed and accepted for Scientific Reports.

This hardly encourages belief that the authors met standards of scientific rigor. Their paper is saturated with a high perhapsimaybecouldness index. Watch imagination-rich, fact-free scientism in action:

We show that the prey of dinosaurs would have fled more often when proto-wings were present, especially distally and with contrasting patterns, and when caudal plumage, especially of a large area, was used during the hypothetical flush-displays. The reinforcing loop between flush and pursue functions could have contributed to the evolution of larger and stiffer feathers for faster running, maneuverability, and stronger flush-displays, promoting foraging based on the flush-pursue strategy. The flush-pursue hypothesis can explain the presence and distribution of the pennaceous feathers, plumage color contrasts, as well as a number of other features observed in early pennaraptorans. This scenario highlights that sensory-neural processes underlying prey’s antipredatory reactions may contribute to the origin of major evolutionary innovations in predators….

This potential adaptation would have exposed these features to natural selection pressures, leading to the co-evolutionary reinforcement of adaptations that serve the main functions (flushing, pursuing, and capturing/handling the prey) associated with flush-pursue foraging. Furthermore, these adaptations could have laid the foundation for the subsequent evolution of wings and powered flight.

The leaders of Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Scientific Reports, have been propagandists for Darwin since he was alive, so it isn’t surprising that they would publicize another just-so story if it honors King Charley after 11 other journals rejected it as too stupid.

Reporters, this bad habit of repeating evolutionary just-so stories must stop. Read our Baloney Detector and start using it. You don’t have to echo every myth that a Darwinist comes up with. If it’s stupid, call it out! You do that with politicians; why not with scientists? They’re only human, too, and they are just as subject to bias. If you want to build public trust in science, you have to show yourself capable of critical thinking.

 

 

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