Myths and fallacies about the theory of evolution

Charles Darwin at age 51, just after publishing On the Origin of Species.Charles Darwin at age 51 (Wikipedia)

Here are some Important new articles about the Theory of Evolution and Darwin, in the «New Scientist»:

The second article is also politically important. Here is an extract:

What we see in the wild is not every animal for itself. Cooperation is an incredibly successful survival strategy. Indeed it has been the basis of all the most dramatic steps in the history of life. Complex cells evolved from cooperating simple cells. Multicellular organisms are made up of cooperating complex cells. Superorganisms such as bee or ant colonies consist of cooperating individuals.

Suicidal cells:

When cooperation breaks down, the results can be disastrous. When cells in our bodies turn rogue, for instance, the result is cancer. So elaborate mechanisms have evolved to maintain cooperation and suppress selfishness, such as cellular «surveillance» programmes that trigger cell suicide if they start to turn cancerous.

Looked at from this point of view, the concept of the survival of the fittest could be used to justify socialism rather than laissez-faire capitalism. Then again, the success of social insects could be used to argue for totalitarianism. Which illustrates another point: it is nonsense to appeal to the «survival of the fittest» to justify any economic or political ideology, especially on the basis that it is «natural».

  • UPDATE: Moreover, not everyone knows that the expression «survival of the fittest» was not Darwin‘s creation, but Herbert Spencer‘s:

Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer

Here is the list of «24 myths and misconceptions» (in the first article), each one with a link to another New Scientist post:

(A) 10 Shared misconceptions:

  1. Everything is an adaptation produced by natural selection
  2. Natural selection is the only means of evolution
  3. Natural selection leads to ever-greater complexity
  4. Evolution produces creatures perfectly adapted to their environment
  5. Evolution always promotes the survival of species
  6. It doesn’t matter if people do not understand evolution
  7. «Survival of the fittest» justifies «everyone for themselves»
  8. Evolution is limitlessly creative
  9. Evolution cannot explain traits such as homosexuality
  10. Creationism provides a coherent alternative to evolution

(B) 14 Creationist myths:

  1. Evolution must be wrong because the Bible is inerrant
  2. Accepting evolution undermines morality
  3. Evolutionary theory leads to racism and genocide
  4. Religion and evolution are incompatible
  5. Half a wing is no use to anyone
  6. Evolutionary science is not predictive
  7. Evolution cannot be disproved so is not science
  8. Evolution is just so unlikely to produce complex life forms
  9. Evolution is an entirely random process
  10. Mutations can only destroy information, not create it
  11. Darwin is the ultimate authority on evolution
  12. The bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex
  13. Yet more creationist misconceptions
  14. Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics

In Greece there is growing intellectual discontent about the fact that Darwin’s theory is still not taught in Greek schools.

Aldous Huxley\'s Man\'s place in nature (modified)

Aldous Huxley’s Man’s Place in Nature (modified)

  • If you are Greek (or can understand Greek) I recommend reading an eloquent post and a lively discussion (click here) about this issue, in «Roidis blog», a Greek blog specialising in the exposure of religious fallacies and the unreasonable continuation of inextricable ties between Church and state in Greece.

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  1. Δε το πιστεύω! Το΄πες και τό΄κανες! Tag «ΜΗ ΤΣΟΠΑΝΑΡΑΙΟΙ»!
    Και εις άπταιστον greeeglish… «ΝΟΝ GLITSMEN»!

  2. Χα χα χα…..

    Και η πλάκα είναι ότι τα περισσότερα ποστ ΕΙΝΑΙ αυτής της κατηγορίας, οπότε (ιδού το αστείο) θα γίνει αυτή η ετικέτα πιο έντονη! 🙂

  3. […] 24 myths and misconceptions – 16 April 2008 Evolution myths: ???Survival of the fittest?? justi bounty for fire ants The Courier MailIN A last ditch attempt to wipe out the damaging pests, the […]


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