Creation: Darwinian Evolutionary Frauds Pt. XI
- By: Gregg
- 49 Comments
A Sunday guest post by my brilliant husband, Gregg.
Every Sunday, my clever husband offers me a “day of rest” by writing posts on the subject of his primary ministry. The topic, Creationism vs. Darwinism, is a subject that has broad reaching scientific, social, and metaphysical implications and is gaining more and more attention in our modern culture.
For believers and non-believers alike, the primary purpose is to present scientific, historical, logical, and/or sociological data in an empirical fashion, as much as possible written in layman’s terms, and in a format suitable for supplementing any homeschool curriculum whether you choose to believe the Biblical account — or secular guesses — about the origins of human life on earth.
Peppered Moth to a Flaming Fraud
Henry Bernard Davis Kettlewell (24 February 1907 – 1979) was a British geneticist, lepidopterist, and medical doctor, who obtained a research grant ($$$!) to study the British Peppered Moth. His research from three surveys between 1952 and 1972 centered on the “evolution” of the British Peppered Moth and he supported his research with films and photographs.
Reportedly, most of the moths at that time were a light, speckled-gray color. Their light color supposedly allowed them to camouflage themselves among the light colored lichens on trees. Thus, birds had trouble identifying these light-colored moths. A dark (melanic) form of the British Peppered Moth also existed, but this moth was said to be rare, as it stood out on the lichen-covered trees, and was easily seen (and thus eaten) by birds.
With me so far?
Modern textbooks (which still use the British Peppered Moth as “proof of evolution” of course) point to industrial pollution as the trigger for an “evolutionary change” in the moths. The fairy tale goes that the factories in England started producing soot and smoke, and the tree lichens died, exposing the dark bark, and thus causing the trees to turn black.
Allegedly, this environmental change caused light-colored moths to become easier to see, while the darker moths remained safely camouflaged.
Thus, in only a scant few generations, the population of light and dark moths had reversed itself—with the black moths greatly outnumbering the white moths.
According to Darwinists, this change in the British Peppered Moth population “proves” that species can “evolve” different characteristics based on environmental changes and that these physical changes then allow them to survive…
…or so the story goes.
To give credit where it’s due, a few staunch Darwinists had trouble swallowing this premise. For example, L. Harrison Matthews wrote the introduction to the 1971 reprint edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and frankly went out of his way to discredit the notion.
“Some experiments are said to demonstrate evolution in action; those on industrial melanism in moths are a well-known example…. The peppered moth experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection or survival of the fittest. But they do not show [Darwinian] evolution in progress. For however the population may alter in their content of light, intermediate or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia [Peppered Moths].” L. Harrison Matthews ; excerpt from the introduction to the 1971 edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Darwin, p. xi)
Even so, Kettlewell pushed on. His films of British Peppered Moths found in nature were remarkable! He and his team of expert researchers just happened to capture rare footage of light British Peppered Moths on dark tree trunks being eaten by birds in broad daylight, for example, while even more rare footage demonstrated that the dark moths were virtually ignored by the ravenous birds.
Some interesting facts about British Peppered Moths:
- British peppered moths are night flyers
- They do not naturally perch on trees
- One 25 year study found only 2 moths perched on trees even when baited (British scientist Cyril Clarke et. al)
- Another 15 year study never identified moths as landing on trees
- Their preferred habitat is inside caves or on rocky overhangs
Given this set of known facts, Kettlewell’s fairytale study seems spurious at the outset to anyone with the ability think critically. After all, none of his assumptions fit the facts, so how solid can his conclusions be? One last interesting fact about the British Peppered Moth.
- The films and textbook photos were all faked by Kettlewell and his subordinates
As Carl Wieland, a member of the original Kettlewell team noted, the moths filmed being eaten by the birds were laboratory-bred moths, not moths born in nature. They were refrigerated then fed to the birds after being placed onto tree trunks by Kettlewell. They were so languid after their time in the deep freeze that he once had to warm them up on the hot hood of his car.
And all those still photos of moths on tree trunks?
Turns out, Kettlewell put the moths into what is known as a killing jar (a jar full of poison) and then glued the dead moths to trees. University of Massachusetts biologist Theodore Sargent helped glue moths onto trees for a NOVA documentary. He says textbooks and films have featured “a lot of fraudulent photographs” (1999, 21:56, emp. in orig.)
So, one day, Kettlewell and his team might take a fresh from the refrigerator white moth and set it on a dark tree. Then they might take a dead and shellacked dark moth and glue it to the dark tree in close proximity. Lights — camera — action! They film birds eating light colored frozen moth-sicles and ignoring dead dark moths that still reek of killing jar chemicals (and maybe glue).
Later, they might find a light colored tree covered with lichens and reverse the colors for the next film.
Oh, and VERY scientific. Very.
The really interesting thing is that even if Kettlewell’s study had not been entirely fabricated and perpetrated as an enduring hoax that is still referenced in textbooks today, it is not evidence of Darwinian evolution at work. In fact, there is no such thing as observed evidence of Darwinian evolution.
The result of the Kettlewell study, if found to be true, would simply have been that one variety of the peppered moth had increased in numbers at the expense of another variety of peppered moth. This is not evolution of one species to another species. In fact this is the exact opposite.
Even if this scientific study had been accurate, all it would have demonstrated was that the DNA for the light colored moths would have been lost to the peppered moth population! This is a backward step and demonstrates a net loss of information.
Actual recent studies have even refuted the findings of the fraudulent study. A group of researchers glued moths onto trunks in an unpolluted forest. Birds ate more of the dark moths on light trees, as any reasonable person might expect. However, their traps captured four times as many dark moths as light moths after the fact, which is the exact opposite of the Kettlewell study predictions and conclusions.
Darwinist Jerry A. Coyne once called the peppered moth story “the prize horse in our stable.” (J.A. Coyne, Nature 396(6706):35–36.) Obviously, this “prize horse” will never win the Triple Crown, although as hoaxes go, it is another crowning achievement in the Darwinist hall of shame.
Be truthful and think critically for a moment. Just how logical and how scientific is Darwinism?
The creationist position says dogs, wolves, foxes and coyotes all share a common ancestor — probably some kind of dog-like critter. This is supported by logic, observation, and science.
The Darwinist position says dogs, wolves, foxes and coyotes also have fish, amphibian and reptile ancestors. The Darwinist believes that wolves are the descendants of ancient salamanders who, in turn, are the descendants of some original single-celled asexual critter, which, in turn, is the descendant of rocks and mud. This position is unsupported by logic, observation, or science. This position is pure faith.
The Darwinist has faith that human beings are distant cousins of dogs, wolves, foxes and coyotes, while sharing the same salamander ancestor that panda bears, elephants, birds and giraffes share. This position is unsupported by logic, observation, or science. This position is pure faith.
The Darwinist has faith that a magic salamander contained the trillions and trillions of genetic data necessary to give rise to all species of mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, arthropods, and birds on planet earth.
Lacking logic, observation, or scientific evidence, to prove this belief, every few years some Darwinist produces and offers up a pretty fantastic fraud or hoax as “proof.”
The creationist believes that each kind of living thing has a common ancestor of the same kind of living thing. This is supported by logic, observation, and science. To prove it, we observe the natural world and simply announce, “ergo sum.”
Which position is really more logical, observable, and scientific?
God Bless you and yours.
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“They do not naturally perch on trees.”
“Their preferred habitat is inside caves or on rocky overhangs ”
????? what’s your source for that? or did you guess?
“As Carl Wieland, a member of the original Kettlewell team noted”
?????? I seriously doubt that. What’s your source?
“Turns out, Kettlewell put the moths into what is known as a killing jar (a jar full of poison) and then glued the dead moths to trees”
Did you read kettlewell’s papers?
Sorry, that was rude – but really, where did you read about caves?
There was an issue about kettlewell’s experiments, about whether the moths were too exposed on the TRUNKS of the trees, although he said he put some on branches.
“The Darwinist has faith that a magic salamander contained the trillions and trillions of genetic data necessary to give rise to all species of mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, arthropods, and birds on planet earth.”
Am I right in thinking you’re being tongue-in-cheek again here?
“The Darwinist has faith that human beings are distant cousins of dogs, wolves, foxes and coyotes, while sharing the same salamander ancestor that panda bears, elephants, birds and giraffes share.”
Well (ignoring the ‘faith’ part) all these creatures are vertebrates and tetrapods. Same basic body plan. Same basic cell design. Conserved genes for practically every function. Paralogous genes. And the patterns of variation in the genomes make a tree. So there’s a logical basis.
“Actual recent studies have even refuted the findings of the fraudulent study. A group of researchers glued moths onto trunks in an unpolluted forest. Birds ate more of the dark moths on light trees, as any reasonable person might expect. However, their traps captured four times as many dark moths as light moths after the fact, which is the exact opposite of the Kettlewell study predictions and conclusions”
Which study was this?
Some researchers did “admit” glueing moths to trees for illustrative purposes. If the moths in the textbook photos were glued to a tree, would that make the research a fraud? Would you be able to tell the difference?
There is a rumour going around on the internet and in various books that Kettlewell glued moths to trees in his research. It looks like you’ve succeeded in propagating the rumour a little more. I don’t base my beliefs on rumour.
May peace be with you,
Clarke and Sheppard did glue dead moths on trees for research. The procedure was described in their paper. They didn’t use a mixture of live and dead moths as Gregg imagined above; both types were treated the same way. They were not killed with toxic chemicals but by freezing. It was not a fraud in any way.
Cyril Clarke and Sheppard (Sheppard being the et al in the above post referring to their 25 year study) were not part of the Kettlewell study. I agree that Clarke’s study was properly documented and that his findings disagreed with Kettlewell’s findings on several points. For example, he found that only 2 moths ever landed on trees even when baited, that Peppered moths are nocturnal, etc.
What does this have to do with Kettlewell’s study or Carl Wieland’s first hand account?
First, a rumor is an unsubstantiated allegation. Carl Wieland was a member of the original Kettlewell team and he is on the record. That is not a rumor, that is, in legal terms, testimony, which is also known as evidence in other venues.
Second, the point of a fraud is to deceive. I’m not sure I would be able to tell the difference. That’s what makes it a fraud, isn’t it?
Could you give a link to the Wieland information?
I can read some of the articles but not others. I can’t read the one by Sargent. I can’t read some of Kettlewell’s early articles.
I don’t remember Kettlewell glueing moths on trees in the articles I looked at (although I could have forgotten). I mentioned Clarke and Sheppard’s article because I thought you were objecting to the idea of glueing moths to trees. If you can give a reference to a paper of Kettlewells where he talked about using dead moths and glue I will try to take a look at it.
It’s a little confusing because he did two kinds of filming. He did filming with Tinbergen that I think was intended as a scientific record. But he also made some films that were meant for lay people.
As Neil pointed out, there’s a difference in making a photo or film as a record for science and making a picture as a demonstration of something for a TV show. I think they probably have always staged a lot of the TV nature shows. I don’t know where you would find a record of any films he made, so it would be hard to know how he presented his material. (If you have a suggetsion, you could post it.) I don’t see a problem with staged photos showing the two forms of moths against light and dark backgrounds. The point is to show the visual contrast of the moths against similar and contrasting backgrounds.
That Peppered Moths don’t naturally hang out on tree trunks is one point that really isn’t in dispute.
“In 25 years of fieldwork, C.A. Clarke and his colleagues found only one peppered moth on a tree trunk…The fact that peppered moths do not normally rest on tree trunks invalidates Kettlewell’s experiments.”, Johnathan Wells, Ph. D. (Professor of Biology at U.C. Berkley), The Scientist, May 24, 1999
Wells, Jonathan, Second Thoughts about Peppered Moths. The True.Origin Archive, http://trueorigin.org/pepmoth1.asp..
Hooper, Judith. Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale (New York: W.W. Horton, 2002), pg. xvii.
Stewart, R.C., “Industrial and Non-industrial Melanism in the Peppered Moth, Biston betularia (L.),” Ecological Entomology 2 (1977): 231–243, 1977.
Lees, D.R. and Creed, E.R., “Industrial Melanism in Biston betularia: The Role of Selective Predation,” Journal of Animal Ecology 44 (1975): 67–83.
Majerus, M.E.N., Melanism: Evolution in Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
Coyne, J.A., “Not Black and White,” Nature 396 (1998): 35-36.
Howlett, R.J. and Majerus, M.E.N., “The Understanding of Industrial Melanism in the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia) (Lepidoptera: Geometridea),” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 30 (1987): 40.
de Roode, J, “The Moths of War,” New Scientist 196 no. 2633 (2007): 48-49.
Coyne, J.A., “Evolution Under Pressure,” Nature 418 (2002): 19.
You know — I hesitated to refer to that study. I read it — I remember reading it — and I can’t find my source now. But I’ll look around.
I can see a link to an essay Wieland wrote about peppered moths and Kettlewell but I don’t see that he said he was personally involved. I didn’t see his name on Kettlewell’s papers. What is your source for this testimony?
Here’s what I see as the core issues.
A — Kettlewell’s premises (and therefore conclusions) are flawed at their foundations. These moths are night fliers and therefore do not go out in the hours of daylight (so how effective is daylight camouflage anyway?), they do not naturally rest on tree trunks, they do not “change” from white to black by any other influence outside of survival of the fittest (which is perfectly logical and accepted by a Creationist worldview), etc. etc.
B — Kettlewell’s research and conclusions (even if not tainted by foundational logical flaws and fraudulent actions) still ultimately DOES NOT evidence Darwinian evolution in any way since a moth is a moth is a moth is still a moth, no matter what color. A single “kind” adapting to its environment does not evidence anything other than changes within kind and does not evidence additional information being added to the genetic code of that kind. As many Darwinian evolutionists have pointed out along the way (and I credit a few in this post), this is nowhere near proof of the molecules-to-man theory that modern Darwinists espouse and purport to faithfully believe.
C — In his lifetime, Kettlewell never admitted to having staged any of his films or photographs. However, according to first hand accounts, all of his evidential offerings were at least partially staged in ways not limited to glue. For example: 1) using laboratory grown moths 2) using dead moths 3) using frozen moths 4) gluing moths to tree-trunks (where these moths never go). Rationalizations, lip-service, excuses, and rhetoric aside — all that is deceptive and therefore by definition, fraudulent.
I also must point out that you are guilty of the logical fallacy of Weak Analogy. You are not comparing apples to apples when you compare a 20 year long well funded scientific research study versus creating a *nature film, *picture for illustration or demonstration, or *television show. It is fairly obvious that these are not the same things. Furthermore, I contend that they are not even similar enough to draw a even remotely fair comparison. Of course it is expected that there is a degree of “staging” and suspension of disbelief in the latter three. Conversely, it is a reasonable expectation that there is absolutely none either reasonably permitted or expected in the former if we seek purity of experimentation, data, and conclusions.
….”In his lifetime, Kettlewell never admitted to having staged any of his films or photographs. However, according to first hand accounts, all of his evidential offerings were at least partially staged in ways not limited to glue. For example: 1) using laboratory grown moths 2) using dead moths 3) using frozen moths 4) gluing moths to tree-trunks (where these moths never go). ”
I don’t understand your argument here, or what you are suggesting by the word ‘staging’.
1) His articles clearly described that for some experiments he was releasing laboratory-raised moths onto tree trunks and boughs. The experiment was designed that way. You might argue that it was a poor choice of design, but I don’t see how you could call it fraudulent since it was discussed in his paper.
2) Where did he ever talk about using dead moths in his experiments? Or if you have a first-hand account, give your reference. I haven’t yet been able to read some accounts, so maybe they exist, but you have not given references for your claims.
3) Again, where did he say he used frozen moths? Clarke and Sheppard used frozen dead moths, but you didn’t object to that. But you are saying that Kettlewell did in a fraudulent way and yet you give no references.
I thought I remembered a more detailed description of whether he kept the moths refrigerated or whatever after they were able to fly but before he released them, but I was not finding it today. There was a description of one single release where he did say he released the moths at 4-4:30 am and had to warm them in their boxes on the hood of his car. The moths were then allowed to fly into the trees by themselves (not placed on the individula tree trunks – so they were clearly not frozen. I wish he had given more detail in the 1955 and 1956 papers.
4)Gluing moths to tree trunks where they never go… again Clarke glued moths to tree trunks. Show me a reference where Kettlewell did it, and further, if he did it, show me that it was done deceptively in an article.
He DID release moths onto tree trunks where they settled done for the day. He did say that they would normally find spots higher up in the trees:
From Kettlewell, 1955 Heredity 9, 323-342:
“To the obvious criticism that the releases were not free to take up
their own choice of resting site for the first day, I must answer that
there were no other alternative backgrounds available for an insect
that has to spend its days on trunks and boughs in this wood. I admit
that, under their own choice, many would have taken up position
higher in the trees, and that since the surface area of a tree increases
proportional to the distance up the trunks and boughs, in so doing
they would have avoided concentrations such as I produced. Tinbergen
(1952), de Ruiter (1952) and others have shown the importance to
cryptic insects of avoiding too high a density level, but this is no
argument against the findings for the relative advantages of the three
forms. It must be accepted, however, that, under natural conditions,
predation, though selective, might take place at a lower tempo.”
So he was aware that this wasn’t the normal resting spot (at least to some extent – he did say the normal resting spot was on trunks and boughs but didn’t give a citation for that) but for the purpose of his experiment he used the lower areas. I think Clarke and Sheppard also did.
Again you could say it wasn’t the best choice but it was the way he designed this particular experiment. He was trying to show that moths on different backgrounds were eaten by birds at different rates depending on the color of background.
So either I find no mention of the ‘staging’ that you talk about, or else it is described in his article so it is a legitimate part of the experiment, not something he has to ‘admit’ to.
You misunderstood what I was saying about nature films. I was not making an analogy. I was saying that I have not seen evidence for the kind of staging you are accusing Kettlewell of having done. Possibly it was done for popular nature films and photos. If it happened in his research, you really need to give a citation.
(If you look at these moth papers you can see how complicated it was for them to plan the experiments. For instance one issue was whether if a bird spotted a dark moth on a light tree, if that bird would be more likely to also spot any light moths on the same tree, and how that would affect the results.)
(also if you give a reference for Kettlewell gluing dead moths or whatever, would you please say whether you read it yourself or not, and if not, say where you found the link? And if you have an actual quote that would help.
Maybe I’ll go to the library to look up the Majerus and Sargent references but I can’t get them online. There are several I’d have to get through inter-library loan too.).
From what I can read of a chopped-up google books version of Sargent’s paper, his objections to previous moth experiments and conclusions were that they were flawed (not fraud).
From reading a 2010 googled article by Mikkola and Rantala:
“The peppered moth shows an innate and highly
specialized behaviour to settle on branches and
boughs with the body at right angles to the longitudinal
axis of the branch and with the wings held
The observation that the peppered moth does not
normally rest in the daytime on trunks, but on
branches and boughs, particularly near the joint of
the branch with the trunk, was soon confirmed by
British workers (Howlett & Majerus, 1987; Liebert &
Brakefield, 1987; Majerus, 1998), and Majerus also
suggested that there was less intense visual selection.”
According to Majerus:
“The largest data set of peppered moths found in the wild was accumulated during
a predation experiment that involved researchers climbing trees at dusk and dawn during the flight season of the moth (May to August) over 6 years. Of 135 peppered moths
found, 50% were on horizontal branches (Fig. 4), 37% on trunks (Fig. 5), and 13% were on smaller twigs or in foliage (Majerus 2007). (The actual reference is to a talk.)
I have seen nowhere (except in your post above) any suggestion that the moths don’t rest on trees during the day. The question is where on trees. Majerus did find some on trunks. If moths are mostly on branches or under branches where the branches join to the trunk, they are still on bark. They might be harder to see than on exposed trunks but it seems to me that their visibility against the bark background would be similar to their visibility on the trunk, depending on the age and size of the branch and also on whether the branch has lichen on it.
Kettlewell’s article said he used both trunks and ‘boughs’ as release sites.
(The article by Sargent et al was in Evolutionary Biology Vol 30, 1998. It may not be the one your post was referring to. I didn’t see anything about the Nova TV show – but there were missing pages.)
…”A — These moths are night fliers and therefore do not go out in the hours of daylight (so how effective is daylight camouflage anyway”
The moths fly at night. Birds don’t eat them at night. Bats can eat them, but don’t distinguish between the light and dark moths. If there is predation on the moths that is affected by their color, it would be a result of day-time predation by birds. in the morning the moths attach to the surface of a tree and do not move during the day. If their color pattern is similar to the background on which they are resting, they will be camoflauged from the birds. The various experiments done with moths released onto trees, or dead moths glued onto trees, was that if birds spotted them they would happily pick them off the trees and eat them. So daylight camoflauge is definitely important.
…” they do not “change” from white to black by any other influence outside of survival of the fittest (which is perfectly logical and accepted by a Creationist worldview)”
I find this unclear; what claim of Kettlewell’s are you objecting to here?
There were a few dark moths before the development of industrial pollution. In those areas, the percent went from almost totally light to almost totally dark. After pollution was controlled, the percent of dark moths went down. The indivdual moths didn’t change color – the percent of light and dark moths in the population in those areas changed.
The idea is that the change in percent was a result of natural selection – is that equivalent to ‘survivla of the fittest’ that you use in your comment? The whole point of the experiments was to show an example of natural selection.
The actual genetic basis for the dark moth has not been found yet. In breeding tests it acted like a Mendelian dominant gene.
(Various articles mention that there could have been effects of the dark form on survival separate from its effect on predation.)
Your statement above seems to be arguing against some claim of Kettlewell, but I don’t see what you are objecting to.
from your post:
…”Thus, in only a scant few generations, the population of light and dark moths had reversed itself—with the black moths greatly outnumbering the white moths.
According to Darwinists, this change in the British Peppered Moth population “proves” that species can “evolve” different characteristics based on environmental changes and that these physical changes then allow them to survive…”
Again, your statement is unclear to me. “species can “evolve” different characteristics based on environmental changes” – what does this mean? In this case the genetic basis of the dark color was already present in the population at a very low frequency. Environmental changes affected the survival of the differently colored moths, changing the percent of dark and light. This was natural selection. Natural selection is one of the factors in evolution. No one has said that the moths became a different species (let alone a different genus or family). This is simply an example of the effect of natural selection on gene frequency in a population. If the genetic basis for the dark moths was a simple difference in genotype, it was not caused by the environmental change from light tree bark to dark tree bark. It was the result of selection on an allele already present in the population from before industrial polluton developed (although a more recent mutation would have had the same effect and would also not have been caused by the different colors of the tree bark).
In your post you wrote:
….”Some interesting facts about British Peppered Moths:
British peppered moths are night flyers
Given this set of known facts, Kettlewell’s fairytale study seems spurious at the outset to anyone with the ability think critically. After all, none of his assumptions fit the facts, so how solid can his conclusions be?”
Your point about these moths being night flyers plus your remark that none of Kettlewell’s assumptions fit the facts could be interpreted as suggesting that Kettlewell did not know the moths were night flyers, or knew it but concealed that knowledge in some way, or knew it but designed his experiments as if the moths were active in the day.
If that is what your comment was meant to suggest, here is a quote from Kettlewell’s 1955 paper:
“B. betularia has a long period of emergence, from early May to
early August. It flies at night from late dusk till dawn.”
Clearly he knew the moths flew only at night, he stated it in his paper, and he designed his experiments in recognition of that fact.
Just to be clear, in my first comment when I wrote:
“As Carl Wieland, a member of the original Kettlewell team noted”
?????? I seriously doubt that. What’s your source?”
I was questioning that Carl Wieland was a member of Kettlewell’s team.
In a later comment you wrote:
…”Carl Wieland was a member of the original Kettlewell team and he is on the record. That is not a rumor, that is, in legal terms, testimony, which is also known as evidence in other venues.”
I think this is incorrect. Wieland’s writing cannot be taken as a first-hand account about Kettlewell’s research.
So far you have not supported this claim at all.
from my comment above:
…”According to Majerus:
“The largest data set of peppered moths found in the wild was accumulated during
a predation experiment that involved researchers climbing trees at dusk and dawn during the flight season of the moth (May to August) over 6 years. Of 135 peppered moths
found, 50% were on horizontal branches (Fig. 4), 37% on trunks (Fig. 5), and 13% were on smaller twigs or in foliage (Majerus 2007). (The actual reference is to a talk.)”
Majerus died in 2009 without publishing the material he had given in his talk. FWIW, some other moth researchers have taken that material which he had accumulated over 6 years, have analyzed it as best they could, and published it.
There’s a post about it on the Panda’s Thumb blog:
The actual paper is here:
and some supplemental material for the paper is here:
including a ‘brief history of the peppered moth debate’.
I wonder if anyone ever debated the fact that the photos he put forward were of moths he had glued to trees?
The photos WHO put forward?
(I think I’ve already addressed this in my comments above though.)
(I misread the supplemental article. It was a brief history of the peppered moth debacle, not debate.)
Were you ever convinced that Carl Wieland was NOT on Kettlewell’s team?
I’ve continued collecting used biology textbooks (mostly probably advanced high school/freshman college; the textboks don’t specify). FWIW, in the ones I have that are the most recent and widely used, the peppered moth story doesn’t seem to be included.
Also the old embryo drawing by Haeckel was not used in those books. There are photos of actual embryos.
The embryos are still used to forward the notion that “Ontology recapitulates philology” which is simply not true. In a college level text book a friend of mine showed me, human beings are still said to develop “gill slits like a fish” during embryonic development. Utter nonsense.
Multiple sources have come forward and admitted that the moths were glued to the trees. One article I read even went so far as to attempt to justify the omission as necessary and expected.
…”Multiple sources have come forward and admitted that the moths were glued to the trees. One article I read even went so far as to attempt to justify the omission as necessary and expected.”
I would like to see a reference for this.
Are you talking about Kettlewell?
From your comments above, it sounds like you do not object to research done with moths glued onto trees if that research is properly documented. So it sounds like you wouldn’t have objected to kettlewell gluing moths on trees in his research if he had described it in his research articles.
It also sounds like you do not object to ‘staging’ moths for the purpose of photos for illustrations, or videos for TV. So it seems you wouldn’t object to Kettlewell having glued moths on trees for his TV shows.
So when you say above that multiple sources ADMITTED that moths were glued on trees, it seems like you must be talking about his research articles. In his research articles in which he said he RELEASED the live moths onto trees, it seems that you are suggesting that he lied about releasing live moths, and that actually he glued on dead moths without stating it in his articles. Is that the correct interpretation of your comment?
Okay then, what are your sources for this? If there are multiple sources who admitted this, who are they? What’s the reference for the article that justified it (and in that case, was the author talking about how Kettlewell conducted his research?)
…”The embryos are still used to forward the notion that “Ontology recapitulates philology” which is simply not true. In a college level text book a friend of mine showed me, human beings are still said to develop “gill slits like a fish” during embryonic development. Utter nonsense.”
I don’t think anyone is teaching “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’ any more. Definitely not in the way that Haeckel proposed it – that embryos went through an embryological version of the adult stages of ancestors during development – that was disproved many years ago. I think there was a version of that phrase which had a different meaning, that embryos went through successive embryological stages, the descendants adding on new stages. But this version also has been disproved with the idea that mutations can affect embryological stages as well as later stages.
Despite that, there are still similarities in vertebrate embryos, especially at some stages, and that includes the stage with the common anatomical structure in vertebrates which over the years has been called various names – including gill pouches, branchial pouches or pharyngeal pouches (or arches) and the related structures called, variously, grooves, slits, clefts. This is a common structure related to common ancestry.
It does not mean that the embryo has actual gills. It means that the embryo has the embryological structure that has the anatomical name gill pouch (or slit etc.) AKA branchial or pharyngeal pouch etc. The use of the word ‘gill’ came from the fact that in fish that structure becomes the gills. In other animals it becomes other things. It is still a shared structure that results from common ancestry so it is still relevant in teaching about evolution in a biology textbook. Again, this is NOT the same thing as Haeckel’s idea that ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’. Maybe it would be better to use ‘pharyngeal’ or ‘branchial’ instead of ‘gill’. My guess is that that textbook writers sometimes choose to use the word ‘gill’ because it is a familiar word for high school students (but that’s a guess, I could be wrong). But gill pouch or slit is not incorrect; it’s one of the names for that embryological structure.
That is not what I intended to communicate. There are a few points I apparently didn’t make clear.
The first point is the biggie. No matter what color moths are, they are still moths. They didn’t “macro-evolve” into a completely different species.
The second point is that no NEW information was added to the genes of the moths. They didn’t “mutate” into black or white moths. They were already black or white and one population was (apparently) whittled down. There is no demonstrated process here of ADDING genetic information. Again — no “macro-evolution” here.
Third, the study allegedly demonstrated a natural selection event — that birds ate more of one color moth over another — based on the fact that the moths landing on the trees were no longer as well camouflaged. The very obvious problem with that assumption is that the moths never ACTUALLY land on trees when left to their natural tendencies. In fact, one has to glue them (alive or dead) to trees in order for this to be the case.
If his research was intended to show any of these points in a different light — that macro-evolution occurred, that new information was added to the genese of the moth, or that moths typically land on trees and get gobbled up by birds — then only a very fraudulent method could demonstrate those points. The intentional ommission of data is the same as lying and that is fraud.
Is that more clear?
You said: “Despite that, there are still similarities in vertebrate embryos, especially at some stages, and that includes the stage with the common anatomical structure in vertebrates which over the years has been called various names – including gill pouches, branchial pouches or pharyngeal pouches (or arches) and the related structures called, variously, grooves, slits, clefts. This is a common structure related to common ancestry.”
That entire last sentence is a gigantic assumption. An equally valid assumption is that related structures are related to a common designer. Would you tolerate anyone stating that assumption as fact? I hardly think so.
Of course there are similarities. So what? Similarities are not proof of anything other than SIMILARITY. Clouds are 100% similar to ponds in terms of water content. Both are 90% similar to watermelon and lettuce in terms of water content. So what? All I have done is said that they are similar. That is the only valid conclusion I can safely draw. Clouds are clouds and ponds are ponds and watermelons are watermelons and lettuce is lettuce. The end. One cannot make a valid logical leap to say that watermelons are congruent to lettuce and lettuce are congruent to clouds.
A tricycle tire, a unicycle tire, a bicycle tire, a 1967 Mustang tire, a tractor tire, and a big rig tire all bear similarities. The similarities they have, in fact, are a LOT more specific than any similarities embryos may share at various stages of development. That does not mean they had a common ancestor — the mythical Darwinian primordial wheel. They had, in fact, a common designer — man. Further, embryos are strikingly DIS-similar at like stages and the embryos Haeckle chose (as well as the limited embryos found in modern text books) are very carefully cherry-picked for their similarity to indoctrinate students into the Darwinist philosophy and away from logical critical thought. Notice that you hardly ever see opossum, salamander, and hamster embryos compared in a side by side photograph. Why not? They are all vertebrates, are they not?
Additionally, if “Ontology recapitulates philology” as the implied indoctrination seems to want us to believe, then similar structures would have identical genes — that they share with their common ancestor. Yet in very similar living things, take a bee and a wasp for example, the gut of each comes from completely different instruction sets? Same with different breeds of sharks. The common ancestor argument goes right out the window in those cases, doesn’t it? Strange how those facts are never presented in modern textbooks.
…”The first point is the biggie. No matter what color moths are, they are still moths. They didn’t “macro-evolve” into a completely different species.”
Right, and no one would disagree with that. I understand you want to make that point about natural selection and the peppered moth story, but it is unrelated to the actual experiments or the intent or conclusions of the experiments.
…”The second point is that no NEW information was added to the genes of the moths. They didn’t “mutate” into black or white moths. They were already black or white and one population was (apparently) whittled down. There is no demonstrated process here of ADDING genetic information. Again — no “macro-evolution” here.”
No macro-evolution – agreed.
But no mutation? You have no way of knowing that.
I would assume there was at least one mutation, and possibly more. In Britain, the first carbonaria versions of the moth were noted in 1848. Because this is apparently a dominant trait, I would guess that it resulted from a mutation in that time period. It seems like the naturalists would have spotted it before then if it had been present in the population, even at low numbers.
Do you really think a mutation could not have been the source of the dark form???
If on the other hand you meant that the mutation happened before the pollution, or did not happen in response to the pollution, I think this is correct. (although there could have been more than one mutation. and I can imagine arguments about stress and increased mutation rates, but don’t know if they apply here.)
At this point the actual genetic difference between the dark and light moths is not known, but its general location has been found. When it is located, DNA from stored moth samples can be compared to see if it is the same mutation or more than one since 1848.
If the exact difference were known, I expect you would argue that it was not a gain of information anyway, based on some of your previous posts.
As for one population being ‘whittled down’, originally the carbonaria (dark) moth population was very low. It increased in certain areas until it was the main type of peppered moth in those areas and the light (typica) color morph was very low. In other areas the dark remained low and the light remained high. After air pollution controls, the percent of dark moths in the previously polluted areas as well as other adjacent areas began decline to the point that they are now at a low frequency again. So both populations shifted back and forth in different areas over time.
…”Third, the study allegedly demonstrated a natural selection event — that birds ate more of one color moth over another — based on the fact that the moths landing on the trees were no longer as well camouflaged.”
This is the actual question that the experiments were designed to address.
That natural selection occurs in general, I don’t think you can dispute. ‘Natural selection’ is a phrase used to describe a phenomenon that arises from the reality of life in the natural world. (It does not imply any conscious decision-making on the part of ‘nature’.)
That the difference in color could affect the camouflage of the moths from birds seems reasonable to me.
Wouldn’t you agree that this is a reasonable possibility in general? If it were shown that bird predation on the different moths affected their frequency, wouldn’t you agree that that was reasonable? After all, it would fall under the heading of microevolution.
The point of the experiments was to investigate whether in this particular case, it could be shown that the percent of different colored moths in the population in different areas was affected by the effect of the color on bird predation. The possibilities that there were contributions to selection by other effects of the color morph was also discussed; one effect would not necessarily rule out contributions of another effect. But it was the contribution of the color effect on bird predation that was investigated. Was it actually bird predation that shifted the percent, or some other factor, maybe physiological, resulting from the genetic difference.
…”Their preferred habitat is inside caves or on rocky overhangs”
You never provided any source at all for this statement. If you are disputing that the moths spend the days in trees, what is your alternative? And why do you think your alternative suggestion has not been observed over the last several hundred years in Britain?
…” The very obvious problem with that assumption is that the moths never ACTUALLY land on trees when left to their natural tendencies”
Ad I already said in a comment above, Majerus DID find moths resting on trunks, especially under branches, on branches, and twigs. So your statement is incorrect.
(Also Tutt in 1896 said that they spent the day in trees, in his book where he first suggested that natural selection based on different camouflage was the probable cause of the shift in frequencies.)
You ask, “If you are disputing that the moths spend the days in trees, what is your alternative?”
At the risk of repeating myself, the alternative is inside caves or on rocky overhangs. I would also like to point out that underneath branches and underneath leaves is very different than on trunks.
I finished my research on the peppered moth a long time ago and I was satisfied with all of my sources.
Died in the wool Darwinist apologist and evolutionary biologist Dr Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, upon learning that the peppered moth photos were fraudulent, rather famously stated that finding out this “prize horse in our stable” had to be thrown out gave him the same feeling as when he found out that Santa Claus was not real.
If very famous and credentialed Darwinist evolutionary biologists have conceded this argument years ago, I do not understand how or why we must continue to beat this dead horse.
Of course no mutation occurred to change white moths into black moths or vice versa. Nor was that ever claimed by anyone to the best of my knowledge. I have no way to disprove a negative? I’m sorry, but the burden of proof isn’t on me to prove that mutation DID NOT occur. The burden of proof is on you to prove that it DID in fact occur if that is your assumption.
…”At the risk of repeating myself, the alternative is inside caves or on rocky overhangs.”
But apparently you have no source or evidence for this idea, so you’re throwing it out as an idea? But if that were the main location for peppered moths spending their days, there would need to be caves and rocky overhangs all through the areas where they reproduce? and no naturalists would have happened to have observed this in the last few hundreds of years?
…” The very obvious problem with that assumption is that the moths never ACTUALLY land on trees when left to their natural tendencies. ”
Repeating myself: this is incorrect. Of the moths Majerus found, 37% WERE on trunks. So it is not correct that moths are never found on trunks (and it is not correct that moths are never found on trees).
You are correct that boughs, twigs or branches, are different in some ways from trunks. They are not necessarily different in the quality of the surface for the purpose of camouflage. But the moths could be more hidden higher up in trees, or under overhanging branches. It IS a legitimate criticism of a number of the studies where the moths were put on lower trunks rather than on the higher spots they would be more likely to choose. This is why Majerus started his study.
Majerus observed moths in their natural resting places during the course of his research. But for his study he did put moths in locations he determined. However he distributed these locations among the resting sites on trees that he had observed – trunk, branches, twigs. He placed the moths into netting sleeves around parts of trunks or branches in the evening and let the moths pick their exact locations, and removed the sleeves early in the morning. But the locations were limited by the sleeves, so his work doesn’t answer all objections.
…” The very obvious problem with that assumption is that the moths never ACTUALLY land on trees when left to their natural tendencies. In fact, one has to glue them (alive or dead) to trees in order for this to be the case.”
It is incorrect to say that moths had to be GLUED onto trees.
First, they have been found naturally in the wild on trees.
And second, when moths are placed onto trees near dawn, they will settle down onto the tree and stay there until dusk.(If during the day they are in the sunlight they will crawl along the bark until they are again in a shaded spot.) They spend their day essentially motionless on the bark without any glue.
…”If his research was intended to show any of these points in a different light —… or that moths typically land on trees and get gobbled up by birds — then only a very fraudulent method could demonstrate those points. The intentional omission of data is the same as lying and that is fraud.”
“get gobbled up by birds…”
Again, incorrect. Majerus did observe birds removing moths from their locations in trees as described above. These were not moths which had naturally arrived at those spots, but they were live moths in natural resting positions in places equivalent to where moths had been found.
And the preceding studies that placed moths on lower trunks, either living moths (Kettlewell) or dead glued-on moths (Clarke and Sheppard, Lees and Creed, and probably others; I haven’t reread all the articles) did see birds removing moths, living or dead. Not surprising because during the day moths do not normally move, so a dead moth looks pretty much like a living one.
These were not fraudulent studies. The articles explained what they were doing and why. There was no fraud. If an experimenter describes what he is doing, where is the fraud?
The experimenters were faced with logistical problems and chose experimental designs that were not perfect. In some cases they discussed the problems. In some cases maybe they were naive or lacked information. In some cases they made the assumption that even if the locations of the moths were lower on trunks than normal, that the ease of birds choosing between the dark and light moths would still be similar to birds spotting dark or light moths higher up in the trees. This is not fraud.
…”I finished my research on the peppered moth a long time ago and I was satisfied with all of my sources.”
.If you don’t want to go back and review the materials again, I can understand that. But as long as you’re insisting on fraud, I don’t think your sources were good enough.
(Also there’s the problem that after so many comments (mainly from me) each comment no longer has a response option so it is getting very difficult to go from one comment to the next; the continuity is messed up. I’m not sure I’ve finished with the points I wanted to address yet because of this.)
(I’m afraid this was very repetitious just because I kept losing track of which comment I was responding to.)
…”Died in the wool Darwinist apologist and evolutionary biologist Dr Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, upon learning that the peppered moth photos were fraudulent, rather famously stated that finding out this “prize horse in our stable” had to be thrown out gave him the same feeling as when he found out that Santa Claus was not real.
If very famous and credentialed Darwinist evolutionary biologists have conceded this argument years ago, I do not understand how or why we must continue to beat this dead horse.”
Frome Coyne’s blog:
…”Of course no mutation occurred to change white moths into black moths or vice versa. Nor was that ever claimed by anyone to the best of my knowledge. I have no way to disprove a negative? I’m sorry, but the burden of proof isn’t on me to prove that mutation DID NOT occur. The burden of proof is on you to prove that it DID in fact occur if that is your assumption.”
I don’t think anyone claimed it one way or another because it’s not really important for the frequencies of the different colored moths how or when the difference occurred, just that there are two forms. I mentioned it because you talked about mutation in your comment. I assume there was a mutation in the 1800s but if it happened thousands of years ago and a small percent of dark moths managed to stay in the population all that time it wouldn’t make a difference to what happened to the moth populations starting in the late 1800s when the woods became polluted. (It does matter that the difference is genetic.)
But what I said was not that you had to prove there was no mutation, but that you can’t know there was no mutation.
Really I’m surprised you would say that “Of course no mutation occurred”. I thought you were okay with the idea that this kind of mutation could happen within species. I cant remember which of your posts I’m thinking of (something about mutation) but it had an example of corn, and I think, a picture of a corn cob. I thought in that post you were okay with the idea that mutations could occur and change phenotypes, but you were disagreeing that those mutations could add information or create macroevolution. A change in a moth’s color seems so minor to me that I am surprised you say of course it didn’t happen. But it’s beside the point for the peppered moth story, I was just surprised when you put it in the comment.
…”Of course no mutation occurred to change white moths into black moths or vice versa.”
I am not sure what you meant by this. You might have meant that a mutation from white to black did not happen in response to the pollution, and I responded to that possibility in my previous comment. I also mentioned that for the purposes of the change in gene frequency it didn’t matter if there was a recent mutation or not.
Alternatively you might have meant that the peppered moths were created as a species with alleles for both the black and white form, so that there never was a time in the history of peppered moths when both forms did not exist.
Thinking about it, from an evolutionary viewpoint, it seems possible to me (although I could be completely wrong) that since evolution happens with populations, the moth population from which the peppered moth species evolved could have already contained the alleles for both dark and light moths, so that the peppered moth as a species could have always had both color morphs. (Again, it doesn’t matter to the story of changes in predominant colors of the moths in England from light to dark and then back to light in some areas.) It seems unlikely to me just because it seems like there were a lot of moth hunters in England in the 1800s and I would have thought that the dark moth form would have been observed if it had existed then. But maybe there are good reasons for thinking it COULD have gone unobserved, or maybe migrated in from somewhere else, maybe even carried on some shipment from another country. So maybe the dark form existed all along but didn’t happen to be observed by the moth enthusiasts in Britain.
But it’s also possible to my mind that there WAS a more recent mutation, and I don’t see how you can conclude that that is not a possibility.
…”The burden of proof is on you to prove that it DID in fact occur if that is your assumption.”
I was thinking about how it would be possible to prove that a mutation did occur at a certain time. For a dominant mutation, any moths with the mutation would be dark, and apparently there were no collected dark moths in England before 1848. So I don’t see a way of proving that a mutation occurred at that time. You could make a reasonable guess that a mutation had occurred if there were many samples and observations of light moths from the surrounding area, allowing you to make the assumption that the ancestors of the dark moth had come from that surrounding light population. But you’d have to be reasonably confident that there was no small undiscovered population of both light and dark moths from which a dark moth could have migrated in or been transported in. I don’t know enough about it to tell if that’s reasonable one way or another. In order to prove that a mutation had occurred you’d need the dark moth’s parents or ancestors for comparison.
On the other hand, if you’re assuming that no spontaneous mutation could occur that would change the moth’s color, I think you are mistaken (and really I don’t know why you’d think that, so maybe this is not what you meant).
I wanted to give an example of a spontaneous mutation occurring that could change color, but to prove it, the parents would have to be known. A place to look for an example of this would be some kind of breeding colony which keeps records. For an example of a spontaneous mutation in moths, it’s possible that the database on silkworm moths might be useful, but I can’t read that database.
But I did find examples of spontaneous color mutations in mice from the Jax database (there are probably more but these were recent.)
Because the mice are very inbred, a mutation that changes the appearance of the mouse in the breeding colony can be noticed and tested by comparing to the breeding line, so these are definitely new mutations, not alleles that had been in the mouse genome since since mice first appeared on the earth (by creation or by evolution). From your Mutation Refutation Part II post, I don’t think you’d argue that this was impossible, but in case your meaning in the quote above was that it WAS impossible, this is evidence that mutations can occur in DNA which result in a change in color (in this case, in mice, but the same process can happen in all animals).
…” take a bee and a wasp for example, the gut of each comes from completely different instruction sets”
Where would I look to read more about this?
(This is Gregg accidentally signed in as Hallee)
What I found most interesting about the blog post you linked was how Coyne equivocated natural selection with “evolution” and further built a straw man argument about what “creationists” think of gluing moths to trees.
(This is Gregg accidentally signed in as Hallee):
The information for my skin to be lighter/darker (have less/more melanin) is already in my DNA. If my children have lighter/darker skin, that isn’t a result of mutation. That is a result of parents having children. No additional information has been added to the genes of my offspring. If one has lighter skin and one darker, that also isn’t “evolution.” Still just parents having children.
If a “natural selection” event makes darker/lighter skin favorable in future generations, that is also not “evolution”. It is “natural selection.”
If a researcher glues dead moths to trees to demonstrate some kind of evolutionary event, that is FRAUD.
These are just my passing thoughts.
The moth myth proves nothing outside of just how elastic Darwinism is.
(This is Gregg accidentally logged in as Hallee)
You said, “Alternatively you might have meant that the peppered moths were created as a species with alleles for both the black and white form, so that there never was a time in the history of peppered moths when both forms did not exist.”
I meant that a peppered moth is a peppered moth. It doesn’t matter if a peppered moth is darker or lighter — it’s still a peppered moth.
It is not fraud to set up a controlled experiment which tries to investigate some feature of a natural event which cannot be measured or manipulated in its natural setting, in particular, when that experiment is subsequently described in detail in a journal article, the discussion of which includes comments about the possible limitations of that experiment.
If scientists study ion channels from the cell membranes of kidney cells by:
inserting copies of the DNA for the channel proteins into artificial bacterial plasmids constructed to include mammalian promoters,
artificially inserting the plasmids into bacteria,
using the bacteria to grow up large numbers of the DNA plasmids,
extracting the plasmids from the bacteria,
artificially inserting the plasmid DNA into a cultured cell line of mammalian kidney cells,
growing them up in tissue culture dishes,
and then using electrodes and chemicals to alter and measure the current flow across the membrane of those cultured cells,
and describing the experimental procedure in detail in journal articles:
would you call that fraud because the recordings were not made in the kidney of a living human being?