Re: Robert Matthews on the Peppered Moth

Kevin O'Brien (
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 05:30:14 -0700

David Tyler wrote:

"Yesterday's _Sunday Telegraph_ has a piece on the Peppered Moth story which
is likely to be of interest."

It's deja vu all over again folks.

And my response is still the same as when Art Chadwick first revealed this
to us months ago:

So what?

This issue is a dead horse in the scientific community, but as Robert
Matthews -- author of the piece -- predicted, creationists are continuing to
whip it in the hope of getting some more mileage out of it before it
collapses completely. Yet the poor beast has run its course and should be
allowed to rest in peace, like any dead issue.

Dave also wrote:

"The article appears to be inspired by Michael Majerus' book, and Matthews
has additional comments from Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins. Coyne is
particularly strong: the Kettlewell experiments are essentially useless,
and the papers 'wouldn't get published today'."

And as Dave himself quoted later in his post: "Prof Coyne insisted,
however, that the moths are almost certainly an example of natural
selection...." In other words, the moths still support evolution in general
and natural selection in particular; it's just the exact cause that is now
in question.

Dave again wrote:

"The Dawkins comment is a massive understatement - bearing in mind that
Kettlewell made so much of having obtained 'Darwin's missing evidence'."

So, is Dave saying that evolutionary scientists are not permitted to be
wrong, or to make mistakes? And is Dave implying that the peppered moth is
the sole evidence in support of natural selection and evolution? I would
hope that the answer to both questions is "no", yet the above statement
would suggest that he would answer "yes".

As for Dawkins, all attempts to "spin" his comment aside, all he said ("But,
in any case, nothing momentous hangs on these experiments.") was exactly
what every evolutionists on this list has said about this issue: So what?

Perhaps Dave is disappointed that Dawkins did not rise up in hellish fury to
crush this impudent reporter for even daring to question the doctrine of

Kevin L. O'Brien