Re: Peppered moths again

Mark D. Kluge (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 13:41:22 -0500

"Arthur V. Chadwick" wrote:

> This is not an issue of creationism vs evolutionism. I do not claim that
> the peppered myth validates the former or invalidates the latter. If the
> classical story were true it would not threaten creationism anyway, since
> it only involves changes within a species.
> What the peppered myth DOES do, in my opinion, is to demonstrate how a
> commitment to Darwinism can seduce otherwise good scientists into ignoring or
> even misrepresenting the evidence.

Well, no, it might be an example of laziness in not considering new
hypotheses, or even over commitment to old; but neither of those is
peculiar to Darwinian hypotheses, nor is there reason to think that any
laziness or over commitment in this particular case is due to
over attachment to Darwinism. Just ask yourself what happens if Tutt
hypothesis, that increased industrial pollution rendered the moths'
environment darker, thus making the carbonaria form less susceptible to
predation, is wrong? You will still ultimately have to explain the observed
fact that the carbonaria form, differing from the familiar by a single
gene, enjoyed increased reproductive success during the latter half of the
19th century over what it had achieved previously, at the expense of the
reproductive success of the familiar form. That is, for some reason,
whether related to industrial pollution or not, the carbonaria phenotype
was selected for over the familiar. Whatever reason lies behind that
selection, it is still going to be natural selection due to some cause. That
is, whether or not the mechanism is related to industrial pollution, it is
going to be some sort of Darwinian mechanism, so even over commitment
to Darwinism cannot explain preference for one Darwinian mechanism
over a (perhaps unknown) other Darwinian mechanism.