Saturday, 17 September 2005

Poor Evolution...

Evolution, like quantum mechanics and relativity, is one of the most misunderstood body of knowledge of our science by those who don´t study it. It is not just a scientific hypothesis. The evidence in favor of it is tantalizing and there is NOT any scientific alternative to it. Evolution made predictions that have been and continue to be verified day after day. It is genuine science, but people generally do not understand well their contents and this is the cause of lots of wrong press reports and affirmations about it. I will not talk here about the absurdity of those who believe that evolution is wrong and try to argue that intelligent design, that is not a scientific theory but just plain religion and misticism masked as PSEUDOscience, is valid. This is a meaningless discussion for me. I´ll talk about incorrect interpretation of the rules of evolution.

Sometimes you hear someone say that in the future all our fur and hair will desappear as a result of our evolution. This is wrong! Some characteristic only changes in a species when you have some selection pressure to change it. There is no advantage in the modern world of being bald or having no fur. So, what happens, is that probably the distribution of "furness" in our species will tend to a gaussian distribution, where a few individuals will have a lot of fur, a few will have no fur and the majority will have moderate fur.

About our teeth. They´re not disappearing as a result of evolution. Our maxilar today is not so large to accomodate all our teeth because we do not exercise it sufficiently so it can develope. We eat "soft food" today. Everything we eat is processed and we simply do not allow our jaws to reach the total size they would have if we eat, let us say, raw meat and raw vegetables. It is not evolution, it is convenience. There is no selection pressure in action that would force the number of our teeth to decrease.

On the other side, our intelligence is improving. Okay, this may be true (note: MAY BE!). That´s because the smartest people have more chance to survive and procriate than the others. Although, we know that today the more developed the country, the less the natality rate.

The key feature of evolution is natural selection. Changes only stick to a species if they give an advantage that allows the individuals having that feature to outfit the others and reproduce more, or survive where the others cannot. No selection pressure, no evolution. This is, indeed, a prediction that can be tested and everytime it is tested, it confirms evolution.

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