Evolution schmevolution

Crank magnetism. The force that draws believers in all forms of nonsense together, united against the common foe: reason.

A keyword search in the back-catalogue flagged up a word I wasn’t really expecting to see. A word that most woo-peddlers steer clear of (one of the rare exceptions is Chris Beckett of CureZone, seen here as “chrisb1” using the classic crank epithet “scientism” to describe anyone who prefers empirical evidence over faith; he also advocates colloidal silver, Budwig, Gerson, Gonzalez, Burzynski… but I digress).

Two pieces show tantalising hints of this most deeply-rooted of anti-scientific beliefs: denial of evolution by natural selection.

Mythical Monkeys
qotm“In the US, campaigners against evolution have won another small victory: next year school textbooks in Alabama will have to describe evolution as ‘a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things’ (Science, 1995; 270: 1305). ‘No one was present when life first appeared on earth,’ says the preferred text, ‘so any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.’”–BMJ, 1995; 311: 1650. (vol. 8 no. 1 April 1997)
The accumulating evidence means that, in today’s toxic conditions, we need to be especially vigilant not only for the sake of our own health, but for that of our children and their children, too. It also means that we need a radical rethink of how heredity and evolution work, integrating Lamarckian mechanisms into the theories of Darwin and Dawkins. Harald Gaier (vol. 19 no. 8, August 2008)

LamarckismW is of course wrong. Lamarck was right about evolution happening, but wrong about the mechanism. The correct understanding of the mechanism of inheritance is afforded primarily Mendelian geneticsW. Lamarckism suffered a bit of an image problem, having been the root of LysenkoismW, the disastrous Soviet policy, but it was 99% bunk before Lysenko and remained only 99% bunk afterwards.

Some people think that epigeneticsW somehow rescues Lamarckism from the scientific rubbish pile, but it doesn’t. Epigenetics is very restricted in scope and Mendelian genetics accounts for the vast majority of evolutionary behaviour. Lamarck was, basically, wrong; the fact that a few examples unknown to him have displayed a superficially similar effect, is coincidence.

There’s no outright evolution denial in WDDTY that I can find so far, but with its support for prayer, meditation and other trappings of the religious mindset, it’s not a stretch to believe there might be an undercurrent there.

Leave a Reply