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Friday, November 27, 2009

New species: Or maybe not?

At Wired Science, we are informed "Birth of New Species Witnessed by Scientists" (November 16, 2009):
On one of the Galapagos islands whose finches shaped the theories of a young Charles Darwin, biologists have witnessed that elusive moment when a single species splits in two.

In many ways, the split followed predictable patterns, requiring a hybrid newcomer who’d already taken baby steps down a new evolutionary path. But playing an unexpected part was chance, and the newcomer singing his own special song.
My best guess is that if the girls stop dropping by, he will soon be either singing a different tune or a bachelor. Note the qualifications:
The future of the species is far from certain. It’s possible that they’ll be out-competed by other finches on the island. Their initial gene pool may contain flaws that will be magnified with time. A chance disaster could wipe them out. The birds might even return to the fold of their parent species, and merge with them through interbreeding.

But whatever happens, their legacy will remain: New species can emerge very quickly — and sometimes all it takes is a song.
Hmmm. If a song is really "all it takes," it probably isn't a new species.

Siamese yowl differently from other cats, and their behaviour often diverges, but they are not a different species.

Why be so desperate to find an example of speciation?

Typically, species prefer their own when they can meet n' greet easily. Sometimes that won't happen. Successful species are often flexible about intermediates - which likely hinders speciation.

In this news story, reporter Brandon Keim deserves considerable credit for admitting the difficulties. Maybe some fragments of news about the problems are getting through.


Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy, with brief comments

1. The Positive Case for Intelligent Design

Listen here.
What exactly is the positive argument for intelligent design? This episode of ID the Future is taken from a recent lecture on intelligent design given by Casey Luskin. Because of the way the media misrepresents the issue, even those who may be predisposed to support ID don't understand what the theory actually is. Listen in to discover what the scientific theory of intelligent design really entails.
Actually, all that it really entails is what most humans have always noticed - that there is design in life, as well as iron law and brute chance. Just how science ended up supporting some unbelievable alternative position will doubtless be the subject of many dissertations and pop books in decades to come.

2. Doubting Darwin on His Anniversary

Listen here.
As On the Origin of Species hits its 150th anniversary tomorrow and we witness the height of focused media attention on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, why do so many remain unconvinced? On this episode of ID the Future, CSC Associate Director John West explains the good reasons people have for rejecting Darwinian evolution, based on both the scientific evidence and the way it purports to overthrow long-cherished ideas about human dignity, morality, and God.

Why hasn't Darwin convinced everyone after all these years? Listen in and find out.
In my experience, sensible people don't believe what is not believable, and the miracles of Darwinian evolution are right up there with 9-11 truthers and the Face on Mars.

Besides which, the Darwinist is not long into his rant before he proclaims that we are 98% chimp and we only flatter ourselves that we are smarter than chimps, and - often - that there are too many of us anyway.

The first two propositions are clearly untrue on the evidence. The third is a matter of simple opinion. Now that the UN is proclaiming a war on obesity in the Third World, we are not haunted by the spectre of starvation as much as formerly, are we? So "too many" is not an objective calculation - merely opinion about what's important. Anyone can get a free card and join that game.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Interview: Mathematician David Berlinski explains why famous mathematicians have doubted Darwin

"Darwin and the Mathematicians", here, is David Berlinsk's final interview with Evolution News and Views. Berlinski, a Darwin skeptic of long standing, discusses the reasons famous mathematicians have doubted Darwin, along with entertaining anecdotes:
In the first part of the 20th century, Darwin v. Dissent had not yet acquired its riveting incarnation as a melodrama of intolerance. No heresy, no heretics is a useful proverb, and using, say, 1950 as a reference point, there were no heretics among the mathematicians because there was yet no heresy. Darwin's theory was not then considered totemic; and his touch was not widely understood to cure erysipelas. Darwin v. Dissent is of our time and place.
For more, go here.

Berlinski has a new book out, called The Deniable Darwin & Other Essays

(Note: The accumulation of evidence against Darwinism is the primary cause of the suppression of dissent, tacit co-operation of legacy media (which, themselves, would like to suppress independent media), growth of frantic Darwin lobbies, and incivility of so many Darwin sites. You've heard about climategate? Wait till Darwingate.)


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