LATELY — 5 June 2005

Hullo Evolutionists!

Hullo evolutionists! In defending your theory against the charge that no-one has ever seen evolution [update: I meant to write speciation here] occur, can you at least admit that yeah, it would be kinda nice to be able to demonstrate one animal evolving into a quite different animal? Because you persist in putting forward triflingly minor examples of evolution as if there were no better response were even conceivable.

(c.f. the physicists behind Gravity Probe B, who regard relativity as “a theory that has been accepted and used for over eighty years,” but who nevertheless put gyroscopic spheres into orbit to test for the existence of Einstein’s hypothesised (but hitherto undetected) “frame-dragging”: “Until a theory is thoroughly tested, we cannot accept it as fact…”)

On a more practical level, there are reasonable reasons to doubt that micro-level evolution is any evidence for macro-level evolution. Steven Pinker blew a few chapters of The Language Instinct arguing that the kinda-sorta “languages” of some animals would never progress to anything like human language. Their utterances might look like a proto-language, he argued, but they would languish in language mediocrity forever because they lacked the magical (God-like?) language instinct.

N.B. I do believe–completely–in evolution. Do I need this disclaimer? I should hope no-one I know would be confused, at least.