Evolution under (or wool over?) our eyes

Discredited examples still being used as evolutionary ‘proofs’

Martinowksy, commons wikimedia MothsTree
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Dr Jared Diamond is one of the world’s most influential popularizers of evolution. He wrote recently (in Natural History, November 1993, p. 19):

‘Actually, there is superabundant evidence for animals evolving under our eyes: British moths becoming darker since the Industrial Revolution (industrial melanization), [and] insects evolving DDT resistance since World War II …’.

Let’s look at these two examples.

1. Industrial Melanism

This refers to the famous observations on England’s ‘peppered moths’ (Biston betularia). As tree trunks became darkened by soot from the Industrial Revolution, those moths which happened to be darker obtained better camouflage from birds and so these became more numerous than lighter versions.

Famous evolutionary biologist L. Harrison Matthews, writing in the Foreword to the 1971 edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, said about this (emphasis added):

‘The experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection—or survival of the fittest—in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the populations may alter in their content of light, intermediate or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia.’

2. DDT Resistance

Alvesgaspar, commons wikimedia Mosquito

More than 15 years ago, leading evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala wrote (in Scientific American, September 1978, p. 57—emphasis added) that since 1947:

‘resistance to one or more pesticides has been reported in at least 225 species of insects and other arthropods. The genetic variants required for resistance to the most diverse kinds of pesticides were apparently present in every one of the populations exposed to these manmade compounds.’

What happened was simply that the resistant ones already present survived, while the others were killed. The survivors passed on the genetic information for this resistance, which therefore became more common in subsequent generations. No new information arose—yet this is what evolution is supposed to be all about. (In fact, some information would have been lost as a result of non-resistant organisms being wiped out, as they would likely carry some genes not present in the survivors.)

By the testimony of leading evolutionists, therefore, both of these examples ‘do not show evolution in progress’. Yet years later, the same examples are still presented as top-ranking observational ‘evidence’ for evolution.