Re: Peppered moths again

Brian D Harper (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 11:29:09 -0800

At 01:41 PM 3/31/99 -0500, Mark wrote:
>"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.

Hello Mark,

Aren't you just re-inforcing Wells' point by insisting that the
explanation for the "increased reproductive success" involves a
Darwinian mechanism while admitting at the same time that such
mechanism is "perhaps unknown".

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University

"All kinds of private metaphysics and theology have
grown like weeds in the garden of thermodynamics"
-- E. H. Hiebert