Class Warfare Blog

April 10, 2014

Evolution: This is a Test, This is Only a Test,…

In last night’s first episode of “Your Inner Fish,” on PBS host Neil Shubin described the discovery of the transitional fossil called Tiktaalik. This was one of the, if not the, first walking fishes. While I thought I could hear the anti-evolution crowd grinding their teeth while this was airing, I think they probably missed the big picture. It is worse than they thought.

Neil Shubin, a paleobiologist at the University of Chicago, described his team’s thinking; it went like this: there seemed to be a gap in the fossil record between fish and walking tetrapods (land creatures). Since they believed evolution theory to be true, there had to be organisms to fill that gap (as that was too big of a gap to jump in a single mutation, etc.). So, he and his partner, a geologist, decided to go looking for fossils of those animals. And, they accept the theory of evolution as being correct. If it is then such animals had to have existed and, if they did, there might be fossilized remains to be found (fossil creation is rare and haphazard). Since they had dates for the two fossils on either side of the fossils they wanted to find, they went to geological maps and located three areas of rock that were of that age and one of them was largely unexplored, so they chose that site to look in. They then got grant funding, a great deal of grant funding, to explore that site which was in a remote area in northern Canada (no roads, no towns, no people, that kind of remote). This was no small undertaking. It took years, and as I said much money, to do this “experiment.” They then applied principles of geology and geography to locate the best possible places to look in and eventually, they found Tiktaalik, at least the fossilized remains of it, the organism that they were looking for.

“In this case it is all support for the theory of evolution: check, check, and check.”

This is how a theory is tested. If it is true then predictions can be made that should also be true and will then be subject of experiments that either support or undermine that theory. In this case it is all support for the theory of evolution: check, check, and check. Not only did they find the predicted organism, but they found it in time where it was expected to be. And this is one of myriad examples that have been similarly documented. As time went on, minor tweaks were made to make the theory more accurate and voila, you have “settled science,” science that no one disagrees with any more.

Now, if evolution were a hoax, would scientists be dumb enough to get funding for an expedition involving polar bear dangers, shotguns, extreme weather, isolation, etc. all for something they don’t expect to find in the first place? Would granting agencies provide hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding for such enterprises if there were not a good chance of actually furthering scientific knowledge or are they “in” on the plot, too?

The whole idea that major concepts like evolution (Where are the transitional fossils?) and climate change (It is all a hoax!) are bogus is ludicrous and is indicative of a bankruptcy of better ideas. These claims are just props for the confirmation biases of the fellow travelers of the people in these “anti” camps. They don’t really mean what their words are saying, in fact there is a good chance they don’t even understand what they are saying (like the guy who wanted to see the fossil of a creature half monkey and half fish). These are just campaign slogans they have learned to repeat.

The trouble for the anti-evolution crowd is that young people are growing up and deciding on their own whether there is evidence to support these scientific theories and the people opposing them appear to them like people  who insist today that the Earth is flat or that the Moon is hollow appear to us: batshit crazy. And, when you get tagged with that label, your credibility on almost everything else goes with it. So, you religious out there, do you want to lose the ears of the younger generation altogether? If not, you might want to find a way to accommodate sensible positions on scientific discoveries and theories. Good advice for Republicans, too. How many young people will listen to your “Evolution is a lie straight from the pit of Hell” bullshit?

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3 Comments »

  1. “remote area in northern Canada… no roads, no towns, no people…” Oh, a perfect place to create a hoax! Those sciency types got in there, where no one could see, and planted the things! Years, you said? That’s proof its a hoax! Let’s see em do it in New York, where we can all see. Checkmate, atheists!

    Like

    Comment by john zande — April 10, 2014 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

    • LOL, I am sure you merely anticipate the wingnut fringe.

      On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 1:29 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — April 10, 2014 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  2. Dude, sure the evidence is all on the side of evolution. It has been for a long time. And that doesn’t matter a good Goddamn. People don’t believe things because of evidence, they go out and find evidence to support what they believe. Politics isn’t physics; it’s a fight for power, not a search for truth.

    Like

    Comment by S. M. Stirling — April 11, 2014 @ 3:25 am | Reply


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