Evolution: Myths and Misconceptions

Sarah: This blog might stir up a few evangelicals here and in the USA, but what the heck*.  I’ve written previously about growing concerns at the American National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine about teaching creationism in science classrooms (see Bridge8 blog Does God Belong in the Science Classroom? Feb 8 2008). Now Michael Le Page at New Scientist magazine has published a great article describing 24 myths and misconceptions around evolution. Alarmed by global ignorance and even denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution, Le Page has come up with New Scientist’s guide to evolution. Here’s a selection of his thoughts:

Common misconceptions about evolution:
– Natural selection is the only means of evolution
– It doesn’t matter if people don’t understand evolution
– The concept of “survivial of the fittest” justifies “everyone for themselves”
– Evolution cannot explain traits such as homosexuality
– Creationism provides a coherent alternative to evolution

Creationist myths about evolution:
– Evolution must be wrong because the Bible is inerrant
– Accepting evolution undermines morality
– Religion and evolution are incompatible
– Half a wing is no use to anyone
– Evolution cannot be disproved, so it is not science
– Mutations can only destroy information, not create it
– Darwin is the ultimate authority on evolution

If you follow the link to the orginal article, each of these statements has a further link providing discussion and supporting evidence. Lots of information there, and I have to say I agree with the vast majority of Le Page’s thoughts. But then I am a practising scientist.

*I acknowledge it seems un-Australian to write ‘heck’ instead of ‘hell’, but I’m trying to get in the mood here.

Comments

  1. laetitiashand says:

    We tend to be taught that evolution is determined only by natural selection, but there seems to be much more to it than that. I recently read a book called ‘Adam’s Curse’ by Bryan Sykes, who discussed the role of ‘sexual selection’ (also proposed by Darwin I believe). A simple example of this would be a female’s inclination towards tall large males in a species. It fascinated me as it seems to be underplayed in the discussion of evolution, surely it is a much faster way for major evolutionary changes to occur!

  2. sarahkeenihan says:

    Yes, i agree. I haven’t read that book, but have heard the concept of ‘sexual selection’ discussed on ABC radio’s Science Show with Robyn WIlliams (an Australian production).

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