Skip to comments.Peppered moths and evolution and Lippard's changing their spots
Posted on 07/23/2002 4:02:55 PM PDT by JMFoard
The peppered moths have been an evolutionary textbook icon for many years. Is this indeed evidence for evolution through 'industrial melanism', or is it simply an extrapolation from a very modest and common phenonemon, variation within a species population of different predominant characteristics?
Biologist and evolutionist Kenneth Miller has written an interesting FAQ on peppered moths, calling 'industrial melanism' 'evolution in action' at http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/Moths/moths.html.
Has he overstated the case?
I have made a critique of Miller's arguments and presented them here.
Mr. James Lippard, an atheist and part of the infidels forum on the net, has not really challenged my arguments, but he has made a comment on my critique on the internet at (http://www.discord.org/~lippard/ridiculous.html).
Since Lippard responded to my critique publicly, I am going to present his critique, along with my rebuttal to him, publicly.
Lippard wrote (at the Webaddress above)
"I enjoyed reading this, I think Miller responded quite ably. I know he knows what he's talking about, it is not apparent that you do (especially since you seem, by your own admission, to be unclear on the difference between evolution and speciation--see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html for a primer on the former, http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~lindsay/creation/speciation.html for the latter).
MY RESPONSE TO LIPPARD (BTW-Mr. Lippard has stated that he does not want to hear from me again, and has refused to debate.)
Dear Mr. Lippard:
Regarding Miller's "responding quite ably," Miller answered none of my arguments, he spent most of his letter trying to say that I had stated that the peppered moth was not evidence of natural selection, which I had never said. Your Email was forwarded along with a batch of others from one of your evolutionist collegues, Ed Babinski. When I answered him you were automatically, and unintentionally on the list. BTW, I am very familiar with evolutionist hairsplitting over the terms evolution and speciation, but I wanted to know what Miller would say about it. Your (Futuyma's) definition of evolution could have come out of an abstract Mahayana Buddhist treatise and is typically evasive and vague, "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel." The definition of speciation was worse, with their admitting that there were numerous problems with the definition. Since the "Koran" of evolutionists is Darwin's Origin of Species, perhaps you could tell me, in your own words, the difference between evolution and speciation. I would love to hear it, Don't bother to write, unless you have something new and intelligent to add to this discussion,
HERE IS THE TOPIC THAT WE ARE DISCUSSING, MY CRITIQUE OF MR. MILLER'S ARGUMENTS:
Regarding Miller's dissertation on Kettlewell http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/Moths/moths.html :
Long before it became well known that Kettlewell had pasted the moths onto the tree trunks, this so-called evidence for evolution was challenged: Creationists pointed out correctly that there was no new genetic information, simply a shifting in population averages.
And nobody disputes the change in the population statistics of peppered moths, this was never an issue, despite Kettlewells pasting of the moths on tree trunks:
The real question is, what does it represent? Is natural selection "evolution in action"?
The peppered moths still remained peppered moths.
Natural selection was borrowed by Darwin from Blyth, a creationist, who correctly saw in it a limiting element meant to preserve the integrity of a species.
The evidence still shows that there was nothing at all like evolution taking place, and indeed, Miller seems to get sort of muddled in his thesis and apparently contradicts himself, for he wrote "What he (Marjerus- Miller mispells his name farther down on his FAQ) reported, first of all, was that Kettlewell's experiments, indicating that moth survival depends upon color-related camoflage, were generally correct:"
Yet almost immediately after this Miller wrote "since his work it has become clear that birds see ultraviolet much better than we do, and therefore what seems well-camoflaged to the human eye may not be to a bird."
He further wrote: For example, in testing how likely light and dark moths were to be eaten, he placed moths on the sides of tree trunks, a place where they rarely perch in nature."
This would invalidate the industrial melanism hypothesis in the first place, and it gets worse: Miller also confesses that "In addition, neither Kettlewell nor those who checked his work were able to compensate for the degree to which migration of moths from surrounding areas might have affected the actual numbers of light and dark moths he counted in various regions of the countryside."
Thus he is invalidating Kettlewell's own thesis while supposedly defending it. If indeed "what seems well-camoflaged to the human eye may not be to a bird," then the entire scenario of industrial melanism is worthless, and if some of the darker moths might just have flown in from migration, that explains nothing as to where the darker moths came from in the first place, except other dark moths: there was no new genetic information produced, the peppered moths came from peppered moths and remained peppered moths.
To extrapolate this variation within an existing population into a thesis that fish changed into amphibians and that yeast and horseshoe crabs and anacondas all evolved from some common ancestor is scientific fraudulence of the highest order.
This type of weak, paultry excuse for evidence of evolution, being trumpeted as "Melanism - Evolution in Action" reveals the desparate tactics that evolutionists are resorting to for so-called "proof" of their theory.
And Miller, after demolishing the idea of industrial melanism by his own words, has the hubris to state "Until these studies are done [testing the migration ratio and vision of birds], the peppered moth story will be incomplete [understatement of the decade].Not wrong, but incomplete."
Uh huh, not wrong, just incomplete. Sounds like a lot of backtracking here while trumpeting, "I'm right, just you wait and see, I'm right, I was right all along, uh, I have to go now, I think I hear my mother calling me."
Thats pretty much what Millers argument amounts to, nothing more than an embellishment of a schoolboys fib, the myth of evolution, one of their best "proofs" of "evolution in action".
Again, because I am not allowed to post Email, even after it has been publicly presented on Lippard's website, I will give the reader the link to Lippard's site for the response from Miller:http://www.discord.org/~lippard/ridiculous.html.
MY RESPONSE TO MILLER (Again, already public domain information):
Thank you, I am very glad to hear you admit that there was no evidence of speciation, and that is precisely the point.
You have also slightly mistated the case: if you read what I wrote to you, I never said that it was not a case of natural selection, however your claim is that it is "evolution in action" is an extrapolation that is a far cry from the truth.
In one breath you claim in your letter that the peppered moth is not evidence of speciation, which would make your entire FAQ worthless and your claim that it is "evolution in action" meaningless dribble, and yet this is still supposed to represent evidence for evolution.
Please explain the difference between evolution and speciation.
You stated "No one has EVER maintained that the moths became anything other than moths."
True, but you state that it is evidence of evolution; you imply that speciation does occur from this with your claim on your site of "evolution in action", which is a misnomer at best, and a fraudulent overstatement at worst.
You make the traditional evolutionist mistake of extapolation of the evidence to imply that somehow variation within a species through natural selection is evidence for evolution: "Rather, the case of industrial melanism has been used as an example of
natural selection, which is the ability of forces in nature to alter the phenotypes of living organisms over time."
The trick in the deck are the words "over time". This in your scenario is meant to mean that this variation can go on and on until there is some new type of creature, something other than the peppered moth, which we have no evidence for at all.
This is not science, this is fantasy. So you see, far from being pointless, I have merely pointed out the inadequacy of your claims that the peppered moth is evolution in action.
Thank you for your kind response,
James Michael Foard
Could you produce an article, before about 1870, discussing natural selection?
Enough 'micro' changes -- steps -- equal 'macro' changes -- the thousand miles.
If you make a large number of small changes to a thing, you end up with a very different thing than you started with.
A 'macro' change is a bunch of 'micro' changes.
The 'Origin of the Species' was published in 1859, the full name of it (never used anymore since it shows what kind of guy Darwin was) is "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life".
In laymens terms, there you go.
Now, wich of those do you disagree with?
But this is how I have fun.
As you may have noticed, I absolutely love finding blind partisans who have locked themselves into an impossible position and then trying to politely discuss the facts with them. As I do on a few of the PC threads.
It's my version of mental excersize.
Nor on the tech threads, either!
Actually, that is part of the fun, for me. I love when the other side ignores obvious truths, it energizes me and leaves me with an unstoppable weapon. Dealing with a YEC is really no different than dealing with an MS-only tech worker. Both are blind partisans.
I consider it a challenge to try and keep my cool with these folks, and the greatest challenge is to try and keep focused.
As I said, I'm desperately sick. This is my version of therapy.
As an analogy, yes.
Windows has 'evolved', and been 'selected' by the environment. The 'speciation' is the Windows versions -- Win1.0/2.0/3.1/NT/95/98/2k/XP (and whichever ones I left out).
That's a good example of evolution in a system, in fact.
And the 'micro' changes (the millions of code changes during development of each 'version') eventually add up to 'macro' changes (new versions of Windows).
You mean only if there is a system that makes the selection. It could be an intelligent designer, as in the case of software. Or it could be the system of natural selection, in which the environment does the 'selecting'.
Of course, there's no reason a 'god' couldn't manipulate the environment to create the species he/she/it wanted. That's possible.
And as for computerized vacuum cleaners -- ironically, that's the newest, biggest push in the software industry. 'Smart' appliances. So far, the environment hasn't selected any of the products for success. But software developers are desperately looking for ways to use imbedded systems in household appliances!!
If the environment were to 'select' a computerized vacuum cleaner, the industry would build it today.
Or it could be the system of un-natural selection, in which mega bucks and market dominance are leveraged to favor certain selections. Evolution doesn't necessarily result in the "best" selection.