econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 21 February 2016

The Five Most Common Misunderstandings About Evolution

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Paula Kover, University of Bath

Given its huge success in describing the natural world for the past 150 years, the theory of evolution is remarkably misunderstood. In a recent episode of the Australian series of "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here", former cricket star Shane Warne questioned the theory - asking "if humans evolved from monkeys, why haven't today's monkeys evolved"?

Similarly, a head teacher from a primary school in the UK recently stated that evolution is a theory rather than a fact. This is despite the fact that children in the UK start learning about evolution in Year 6 (ten to 11-year-olds), and have further lessons throughout high school. While the theory of evolution is well accepted in the UK compared with the rest of the world, a survey in 2005 indicated that more than 20% of the country's population was not sure about it, or did not accept it.

Shane Warne, the latest celebrity to question evolution. Tourism Victoria from Australia/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

In contrast, there are not many people questioning the theory of relativity, or studies on the acceptance of the theory of relativity; possibly reflecting an acceptance that this is a matter for physicists to settle. Many studies have tried to determine why evolution is questioned so often by the general public, despite complete acceptance by scientists. Although no clear answer has been found, I suspect the common misconceptions described below have something to do with it.

1. It's just a theory

Yes, scientists call it the "theory of evolution", but this is in recognition of its well accepted scientific standing. The term "theory" is being used in the same way that gravitational theory explains why, when an apple falls from your hand, it goes towards the ground. There is no uncertainty that the apple will fall to the ground, in the same way that there is no uncertainty that bugs resistant to antibiotics will continue to evolve if we do not curb our general use of antibiotics.

Although people use "theory" in everyday conversation to mean a not necessarily proven hypothesis, this is not the case in scientific terms. A scientific theory typically means a well substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that sits above laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

2. Humans are descended from monkeys

What would Darwin make of the fact that people are still misunderstanding his theory? Herbert Rose Barraud (1845-1896), CC BY-SA

No, your great-great-great-ancestor was not a monkey. Evolution theory indicates that we have common ancestors with monkeys and apes - among the existing species, they are our closest relatives. Humans and chimpanzees share more than 90% of their genetic sequence. But this common ancestor, which roamed the earth approximately 7m years ago was neither a monkey nor a human, but an ape-like creature that recent research suggests had traits that favoured the use of tools.

3. Natural selection is purposeful

There are many organisms that are not perfectly adapted to their environment. For example, sharks don't have a gas bladder to control their buoyancy (which bony fish typically use). Does this refute the theory of evolution? No, not at all. Natural selection can only randomly favour the best of what is available, it does not purposefully turn all living organisms into one super creature.

It would be really convenient if humans could photosynthesise; hunger could be immediately cured by standing in the sun (and the much-sought miracle diet would have been found: stay inside). But alas, the genetic ability to photosynthesise has not appeared in animals. Still, selection of the best option possible has led to an amazing diversity of forms remarkably well adapted to their environments, even if not perfect.

4. Evolution can't explain complex organs

The eye seems to have evolved from primitive, light-sensing organs. TobiasD/pixabay

A common argument in favour of creationism is the evolution of the eye. A half developed eye would serve no function, so how can natural selection slowly create a functional eye in a step-wise manner? Darwin himself suggested that the eye could have had its origins in organs with different functions. Organs that allow detection of light could then have been favoured by natural selection, even if it did not provide full vision. These ideas have been proven correct many years later by researchers studying primitive light-sensing organs in animals. In molluscs like snails and segmented worms, light-sense cells spread across the body surface can tell the difference between light and dark.

5. Religion is incompatible with evolution

It is important to make it clear that evolution is not a theory about the origin of life. It is a theory to explain how species change over time. Contrary to what many people think, there is also little conflict between evolution and most common religions. Pope Francis recently reiterated that a belief in evolution isn't incompatible with the Catholic faith. Going further, the reverend Malcom Brown from the Church of England stated that:

"natural selection, as a way of understanding physical evolutionary processes over thousands of years, makes sense." He added: "Good religion needs to work constructively with good science" and vice-versa. I fully agree.

The ConversationPaula Kover, Reader in Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Are You Feeling the Economic Surge?
Big Mess in Italy
News Blog
Big Mac Index In Its 30th Year
What We Read Today 03 December 2016
Scientists Find Giant Underground Ice Reserve On Mars
Sustained 3 To 4% GDP Growth Is A Huge Stretch
New Earthquake Risk Model Confirms Possibility Of Statewide Earthquake In California
Subprime Auto Debt Grows Despite Rising Delinquencies
Silver Sentiment Looks Golden
Infographic Of The Day: Investing In A Cure For Cancer
Early Headlines: Trump Campaigning Still, WaPo Finds Voter Fraud Favored Trump, No Carolina GOP Shotguns For Voter Fraud, New Age Of Blacklisting, All Eyes On Italy, Big Bucks In India And More
What Did The EU Ever Do For Europeans?
The 10 Most Stolen Cars In America
Improvements In US Air Pollution
Has The Fed Been Effective In Stimulating Consumption?
Investing Blog
Technical Thoughts: Manage Risk
Investing.com Weekly Wrap-Up 02 December 2016
Opinion Blog
Modern Slavery
Please, Donald Trump, Don't Send Climate Science Back To The Pre-Satellite Era
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
02Dec2016 Market Close: WTI Crude Climbed Back Up To Previous 51 Handle, US Dollar Index Trading At The100 Level, Oil Rig Count At 10-Month High
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved