Sunday, May 08, 2005

NCSE and "Icons of Evolution"

If your money is being used to support the work of NCSE - the National Center for Science Education - then I would ask for a refund. This post, on the "He Lives!" blogsite, challenges this "resource". In my opinion, the blogger could have gone a lot further in pulling apart their response.

In their response relating to Miller-Urey, NCSE say that this was "first successful attempt to show how organic molecules might have been produced on the early Earth". However, given that it has since been concluded that this was not the environment in which organic molecules might have been produced, books referring to Miller-Urey ought to make it clear that this experiment doesn't actually tell us anything about evolution - it isn't a stepping stone towards understanding how life first appeared.

In their response to the question about the "Tree of Life", their answer misses the point. The point is that groups appear in fossil record with their characteristics already present. In some cases, evolutionary biology assumes that certain organisms are transitional between groups/phyla. For example, is it the case that coelacanth was once assumed to be transitional between reptiles and fish - until one was discovered, and it wasn't transitional, but completely fish.

1 comment:

Ed Darrell said...

Given that NCSE gets the facts exactly right, according to Dr. Andrew Ellington at UTexas and most other serious researchers in astrobiology, why should they change it?

You are aware, I trust, that the experiment produces similar results almost no matter what atmosphere is proposed, within reason, are you not?

Who says coelocanths are not transitionals? To the extent that they are not held up as potential links between phyla, it is only because there are better examples.

Monotremes are completely monotremes, too -- and they are also nice transitionals between reptilians and other mammals. "Completely fish" doesn't refute the transitional status of any fish.