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.