>From: Adrian Teo <email@example.com>
>Subject: Jonathan Well's Icons of Evolution
>Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 11:31:01 -0700
>Jonathan Wells, Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, presented
>so-called Darwin's finches used as examples of speciation was based on
>extrapolation of data, and in actual fact, the data showed no net
>evolutionary changes, but rather, minor variations.
Wells seems to provide a great example of stating the exact truth in such a
way that the opposite conclusion will be drawn from it. Yes, the hypothesis
of an adaptive radiation IS an extrapolation. Yes, the finches showed no
net changes. As the Grant's work from the El Nino event shows, species are
very mobile within potential character space BUT that net environmental
stasis in the short term results in "no net changes." Had the Galapogos Is.
remained under the new climatic regime, then net changes would have
resulted. Local, short term perturbations in selection pressures (in a very
simplified system) allow us a window into what would happen when the
pressure becomes directional (ie,non-stasis trends in selectional pressure).
Having meticulously revealed the fluidity of character space for the
Geospizids, the Grants (& others) are well justified in extrapolation from
their work to the apparent adaptive radation.
If Wells was simply out to reform science as found in texts, then that would
be one matter. However, misguided iconoclasty seems to be the game at hand.
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