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Five myths debunked, debunked…

July 30th, 2014 · No Comments

: 5 Common Evolution Myths, Debunked

These essays by naive students of evolution, coached by the lies perpetrated by professionals, end up embarrassing their composers: here five myths show four debunk jobs easy to debunk themselves.
//’It’s just a theory’. This one equivocates…’It’s a theory’ is beyond doubt, ‘just’ a theory is a problem. Darwin’s theory of natural selection is a theory, and not a very good one. The ‘fact’ of evolution is very clear, and the intent of the ‘just a theory’ group is to equivocate ‘fact’ and ‘theory’ to confuse the issue.
// ‘Humans are not currently evolving’ This statement can’t be discussed as is: we don’t know how man evolved so we can’t say whether he is still evolving. If we distinguish ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ then it is roughly the case that man’s macroevolution is static while microevolution operates continuously.
//’Individual organisms can evolve in a single life span’ This one should be a no-brainer, but in the age of epigenetics even that much is unclear. But, roughly, this statement is likely to be roughly right, as far as we know.
// ‘Evolution isn’t science because it’s not observable or testable’ This sentence is so vague,we can’t answer: the fact of evoluton, looking at deep time, is quite clear, but we are unable to observe the mechanism at work: we can’t observe natuaral selection in deep time, and tend to assume it operates, but we don’t know.
//’ Humans can’t have evolved from monkeys because monkeys still exist’ This one we can grant to our hapless debunker.
Score, one out of five

//WEIT// http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/mashable-video-common-myths-about-evolution/

Myth 1: It’s just a theory

Image: Imgur, simpleinsomnia

The truth: The word “theory” has a different meaning inside the scientific community than it does elsewhere.

In everyday language, you and I would use “theory” to describe a whim feeling: a theory that eating the crust on your sandwiches makes you taller, or, say, that Marty Hart’s daughter on True Detective was actually involved with the Tuttle clan the whole time (pshh).

Either would totally work in this case. In the general sense, an idea doesn’t necessarily need to make sense, or even be true, to be considered a theory.

A scientific theory, on the other hand, refers to a comprehensive explanation for a variety of phenomena

A scientific theory, on the other hand, refers to a comprehensive explanation for a variety of phenomena.

It begins as a hypothesis. Then, if enough evidence exists to support it, through repeated and thorough testing, it moves to the next step in the scientific method — a theory — where it is accepted as a credible explanation.

One example is atomic theory, which shows how matter is composed of atoms.

Evolution, similarly, is accepted by the vast majority of scientists and backed up by research in fields such as embryology, molecular biology and paleontology.

(For example, it’s more than a feeling.)
Myth 2: Humans are not currently evolving

milk-nail

Image: Imgur, Vinoth Chandar

The truth: We are still evolving biologically.

One example: Long ago — 2,000 years ago, to be exact — most humans couldn’t consume milk past the age of five. The majority of everyone’s production of lactase, the enzyme that allows mammals to digest the lactose found in milk and other dairy products, rapidly slowed at that age.

Then, sometime around 10,000 B.C. near modern-day Turkey, a genetic mutation in one human changed the lactase production. The gene passed. Over the next few thousand years, it continued to spread, and soon most people in the Eurasia region could spend their entire lives drinking milk.
Myth 3: Individual organisms can evolve in a single life span

mutated-gene

Image: Imgur, woodleywonderworks

The truth: Evolutionary change refers to transformations in the genetic makeup of populations over generations, not lifetimes.

So entire populations, not individual organisms, evolve. And it takes a while.

New gene variants are produced by random mutation. Over the course of time — many, many generations — natural selection favors the most advantageous ones.

This causes them to become more common in the population (again, over time).
Myth 4: Evolution isn’t science because it’s not observable or testable

antibiotics

Image: Imgur, Martin Cathrae

The truth: Not all science investigations involve direct experiments.

Evolution can still be studied with controlled experiments in, say, a laboratory setting. Using organisms with short life spans, such as bacteria or flies, scientists can actually observe evolution over the course of an experiment.

One example you’re probably familiar with: antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance evolves via natural selection of random mutation. After exposure to one or more antibiotics, some subpopulations of microorganisms are able to survive, spawning the nickname “superbugs.”

It’s the reason doctors are constantly having to develop new antibiotics — and a direct consequence of evolution via natural selection.

It’s the reason doctors are constantly having to develop new antibiotics — and a direct consequence of evolution via natural selection.

With that in mind, says Marcus Kronforst, Ph.D., assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, it’s important to always take the full course of antibiotics you’re prescribed. Stopping antibiotics early kills some, but not all, the bacteria, which generates natural selection for superbugs.

You should also stray from taking antibiotics for the cold or flu, says Kronforst. The cold are flu are both viral infections, and unnecessary use of antibiotics is the root cause for all types of resistance.
Myth 5: Humans can’t have evolved from monkeys because monkeys still exist

chimp

Image: Imgur, Gemma Stiles

The truth: Humans didn’t evolve from modern monkeys; they just share a common ancestor.

At some point 5 to 8 million years ago, a common ancestor strayed into the two separate lineages we see today.

The species at the end of these lineages, humans and modern apes, are the results of a specific combination of selection and genetic mutations over millions and millions of years.

It’s a two-way split: That’s why there are both humans and modern monkeys today.

It’s a two-way split: That’s why there are both humans and modern monkeys today. You can think of as a branching family tree rather than a continuum.

Through the very long process of evolution, or “descent with modification,” the common ancestor of life as we know it kickstarted every living species we see today.

Special thanks to Marcus Kronforst, Ph.D., and Jerry Coyne, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago. Coyne’s book, Why Evolution Is True, is available on Amazon.

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