воскресенье, 8 января 2017 г.

Daring Guesswork in Biology Textbooks

Charles Darwin's 1837 sketch, his first diagram of an evolutionary tree from his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837). [1]
To quote Darwin: 

“But as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?” [2]

“But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” [3]

Back in the times of Darwin, any noticeable number of “transitional forms” or any “finely-graduated organic chain” required by Darwin’s theory were unknown to scientists. It follows that from the ground up Darwinism was based on guesswork in the face of the then known scientific facts. Darwin, by the way, deserves the credit for having admitted in writing that his theory contradicted scientific data. 

A century later his theory still flied in the face of scientific evidences:

“In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general, these have not been found - yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks.” [4]

How daringly can scientific puzzles be solved by those textbook authors who manage to keep up their optimism! 

Parents, would you familiarize yourselves with your children’s biology textbooks?


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[1] Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADarwin_Tree_1837.png, license: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. 

[2] Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. New York: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1958, p. 159.

[3] ibid. p. 287-288.

[4] David M. Raup, “Evolution and the Fossil Record,” Science, Vol. 213 (July 17, 1981), p. 289.

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