The Mystery of Evolution: 7. Falsifying the Evolution-The Prelude to Something Greater

UPDATE: So far NO IDEAS as to how the theory of evolution can be falsified have been proposed…To make things worst, nobody so far picked up any of MY SUGGESTED IDEAS how to falsify evolution – now clearly numbered from 1-4. 

It makes one wonder what the bases are for believing in the theory of evolution if no one seems to even want to at least try to falsify it…

Please keep in mind that by falsifying evolution you can refute many claims by the proponents of ID!!! Isn’t it what Darwin’s faithful want to do?

This OP is just a prelude to hopefully many future ones, where I would like to focus on the specific examples of how to falsify the theory of evolution…

This OP gives everyone an opportunity for the input on no doubt the many available ways how to experimentally falsify evolution…

As most of you know, Darwinists and post-Darwinists, for unknown reasons, are reluctant to experimentally prove their beliefs, so by the series of the OPs on the many possible ways of falsifying evolution, we can hopefully encourage Darwinists and the like, to do so for their own good… I could definitely help with that…

Here are some ideas on how to falsify evolution that I have come across so far:

How a walking mammal can evolve into an aquatic one?

1. Just as an example, let’s say I would like to evolve some aquatic functions…
How long would it take for me to see some evolutionary changes, if I spend most of the day in the water and what would they be? How about several generations of water-lovers? Can someone make a prediction, as evolutionists often do?

2. How about growing a bacterium without a flagellum, knockout the genes for the flagellum, or make the flagellum not fully functional and see whether the bacterium will evolve anything at least resembling a flagellum or evolves a better functionality of it…

3. How to evolve a function of an existing appendage that is no longer in full use to fully function again? How to make emus and ostriches to fly again?

4. How about finches? Since their beak size seems to change within one generation, could they evolve into another species within short period of time if put under selective pressure or something?

Let’s come up with ideas and put some organisms under selective pressure or whatever makes the organism evolve, and see if we can falsify evolution, so that we can end the speculations, once and for all, about who is right and who is wrong; Darwinists or Intelligent Design proponents…

Let us not hear any excuses anymore!

Let experimental science speak the truth!

I don’t think anybody in the right frame of mind would object to what I propose here… unless…. one doesn’t have the confidence in his or her preconceived ideas that could potentially be exposed…

Let’s begin!

517 thoughts on “The Mystery of Evolution: 7. Falsifying the Evolution-The Prelude to Something Greater

  1. J-Mac: So, I go to see this engineer and ask him to design a land walking animal resembling wolf-Pakicteus that will be battery operated. So, he draws the body plans and builds the toy. I look at it and say: I changed my mind. Now I want you to change the wolf-Pakicteus into a whale without changing the body plan…
    The engineer looks at me and says. Are you crazy? Who do you think I am? A magician?

    Since nobody else seems to bother:

    Whales follow the tetrapod body plan. This is not controversial or particular to evolutionary theory. Even staunch creationists like Richard Owen in the 19th century accepted this fact (he based his idea of a vertebrate archetype on similar observations). It doesn’t matter whether you accept the evolutionary explanation or not, but whales are truly motorcycles turned submarines.

    Then again, all tetrapods are already submarines turned motorcycles, so I imagine your hypothetical engineer won’t break a sweat over it.

  2. keiths:
    Don’t forget that you’re trying to supply examples of “macroevolutionary processes”, under your definition. The rate itself is not such a process, as we’ve discussed.Speciation is not such a process, because you’ve (surprisingly to me) disputed that it is macroevolutionary.So what are these “causes of speciation rates” that both a) qualify as macroevolutionary processes and b) do not involve changes in allele frequencies?

    It isn’t easy to find examples, one reason some people doubt that macroevolutionary processes are important. Dave Jablonski had an example, though. Some marine snails broadcast their gametes and have planktonic larvae, while others brood the larvae and “give birth” to small adults. The brooding ones tend to have higher speciation rates. While speciation itself results from allele frequency change, the speciation rate doesn’t. Perhaps we’re arguing over the meaning of “involve”. Allele frequency change happens, so you might think that anything that happens during a process is involved in that process. I think that it’s involved only if it’s relevant to and affects the process.

    Jablonski D.J. Larval ecology and macroevolution in marine invertebrates. Bulletin of Marine Science 1986; 39:565-587.

    Allele frequencies would be changing, as I explained to Mung, unless all of the remaining organisms were genetically identical.And even then the absolute frequencies would be changing, though the relative frequencies would not.

    I don’t know what “absolute frequencies” mean, but never mind. Yes, allele frequencies change during extinction; it can’t be avoided in a finite population. But the changes are incidental to extinction, do not affect it, have nothing to do with it. When I say “do not involve”, that’s what I’m talking about.

    There is a population for the change to happen in.There is one individual left (unless multiple remaining individuals die at the same instant).The change happens to that population.The population size goes from one to zero,and so do the various allele frequencies.

    I find this to be sterile semantics and have no interest in arguing about ti.

    Second, I’m not arguing that macroevolution equals accumulated microevolution, though that is an accepted definition, as you’ve acknowledged.

    I have not acknowledge that. I have never seen that definition, and it certainly isn’t the accepted one (or, more properly, one of the accepted ones). Some people think that there’s nothing more to macroevolution, but that isn’t the definition.

    My position aligns with Allan Miller’s, as far as I can tell.We both argue that macroevolution isn’t merely accumulated microevolution, but we certainly don’t argue that macroevolution excludes microevolution, as you do.

    I don’t argue that macroevolution excludes microevolution. I argue that if the term “macroevolutionary process” is to mean anything, it must exclude microevolutionary processes and must include only those processes unique to macroevolution. Species selection is one such process.

    Macroevolution is often defined as “evolution above the species level”. I don’t think that definition means much, or at least I don’t know what it means. But one interpretation would be “evolution that isn’t reducible to processes within species”.

  3. I almost forgot…

    Before I go a bury myself under ground and cover myself with ashes first:

    You seem to think that it takes some special category of change to make a new species… And that “ordinary” change isn’t that. It’s the old “microevolution is different from macroevolution” argument…

    Have a nice life!

  4. From the Sandwalk thread, a comment by Larry Moran:

    I’ve done a lot of research into the meaning of the word “macroevolution.” Paleontologists use it to refer to a field of study and that’s the meaning I wrote about in my essay [Macroevolution].

    However, there are lots of other meanings used by biologists. I don’t agree with Simon Gunkel when he says that macroevolution is a technical term with a precise meaning. Perhaps he can give us the precise meaning he’s thinking of?

    I can’t see that Professor Moran gets a definitive answer. Would it be worth someone suggesting a definition for macroevolution?

  5. J-Mac,

    You seem to think that it takes some special category of change to make a new species… And that “ordinary” change isn’t that. It’s the old “microevolution is different from macroevolution” argument…

    Not sure who you are talking to, but you don’t seem to know what you are talking about. If speciation is agreed to include divergence (caused by microevolution), it can still be classed as ‘macroevolution’ – or not, according to preference. But you insist, despite all argument to the contrary, that the only way to view speciation is as ‘one species turning into another’. The very concept of ‘divergence’ (which does not require a special category of change) appears not to penetrate. So we get this robotic repetition of your misunderstanding.

  6. J-Mac,
    J-mac, I’m sorry no-one is much impressed with your attacks on evolutionary theory. I can only think it is the quality of your strawmen. You need them to stand up before you knock them down.

  7. Alan Fox: I can’t see that Professor Moran gets a definitive answer. Would it be worth someone suggesting a definition for macroevolution?

    Macroevolution is the post hoc label assigned to a series of events presumed to have resulted in reproductive isolation.

  8. petrushka: Macroevolution is the post hoc label assigned to a series of events presumed to have resulted in reproductive isolation.

    That would be speciation. If macroevolution is just a synonym for speciation there’s no need for the word.

  9. Allan Miller:
    We are rather fixated on the behaviour of sexual species.

    It’s a bit late for some of us! 🙁

    Sex defines the boundaries of their populations. While recombinational crossover exists, we have a mechanism that allows individual loci, as subdivisions of a genome, to ‘flow through’ that population. But when a gene-impermeable barrier arises, for whatever reason, we have a collection which consists of more than just the members of one population. Viewed across the divide, the entire genomes are ‘alleles’, in an equivalent sense to the within-population alleles of ‘microevolution’

    If I’m not misreading, all you are saying here is the view changes from when you focus in on a particular gene pool to when you draw back to look at a broader view of the branching tree of life. Macroevolution as a broad term, like life indeed as a broad term, seems fine.
    I’ve been thinking about this in terms of time-lines, four-dimensional representations of a gene as it changes with mutation, an organism, fom zygote to death, populations interbreeding and so on. This avoids the temptation to think of speciation in the Cambrian as no more an Earth-shattering event than an incipient speciation happening now.. There are no old gnarled thickened branches when imagining time-lines.

    Brings to mind discussion on Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt and Lizzie’s review where she writes:

    All branching events, in Darwin’s proposal, whether the resulting lineages end up as different phyla or merely different species, start in the same way, with two populations where there once was one, and a short morphological distance between them. It is perfectly true that the longer both lineages persist for, the greater the morphological distance will become. But that isn’t because they started different, or because the phyla come later. It’s because what we call phyla are groups of organisms with an early common ancestor, whose later descendents have evolved to form a group that has a large morphological distance from contemporary populations who descended from a different early common ancestor.

  10. Alan Fox: Would it be worth someone suggesting a definition for macroevolution?

    Larry Moran is correct, there are lots of different definitions. Here is one from my old textbook (Evolutionary Biology by Minkoff) that gets used fairly often:
    Macroevolution = Evolution above the species level
    ,which includes stuff like adaptive radiation, mass extinctions and species-level selection.

  11. Corneel: Larry Moran is correct, there are lots of different definitions.

    Well, yes.Which is why I’ve suggested someone should come up with a precise, meaningful definition that everyone could work with.

    Here is one from my old textbook (Evolutionary Biology by Minkoff) that gets used fairly often:
    Macroevolution = Evolution above the species level, which includes stuff like adaptive radiation, mass extinctions and species-level selection.

    I think “evolution above the species level” is fine as far as it goes. My quibble is the implication that “macroevolution” implies some additional process other than variation and selection.

  12. petrushka: Macroevolution is the post hoc label assigned to a series of events presumed to have resulted in reproductive isolation.

    You could even leave out the bit about reproductive isolation!

  13. Alan Fox: The classic definition of evolution as “change in allele frequency over time” seems eminently reasonable to me.

    Then why does Jonathan Losos write:

    First, when we think of evolution, we think of what goes on over thousands and millions of years.

  14. Alan Fox: I’m still wondering what additional processes occur during a macroevolutionary process that don’t happen during an evolutionary process.

    At what level does selection operate?

  15. Rumraket quoting Simon Gunkel.

    Rumraket: It is worth noting that microevolution can not deal with the two central macroevolutionary processes, of speciation and extinction.

    But of course, Simon is wrong and keiths is right.

  16. Corneel: Whales follow the tetrapod body plan. This is not controversial or particular to evolutionary theory. Even staunch creationists like Richard Owen in the 19th century accepted this fact (he based his idea of a vertebrate archetype on similar observations).

    So Creationists did invent the idea of a “body plan”? Body plans are creationist inventions!

  17. Mung:

    Alan Fox: The classic definition of evolution as “change in allele frequency over time” seems eminently reasonable to me.

    Then why does Jonathan Losos write:

    First, when we think of evolution, we think of what goes on over thousands and millions of years.

    Why not? Seems a reasonable remark, true for me.

  18. Alan Fox: My quibble is the implication that “macroevolution” implies some additional process other than variation and selection.

    As John has pointed out, research in macroevolution involves such topics as speciation rates. This is not a microevolutionary process defined as change in allele frequency and it is not captured well by mechanisms of evolution that act within species (mutation, migration, selection and drift).

  19. Corneel,

    Corneel: As John has pointed out, research in macroevolution involves such topics as speciation rates. This is not a microevolutionary process defined as change in allele frequency and it is not captured well by mechanisms of evolution that act within species (mutation, migration, selection and drift).

    All you are doing really is defining categories. Which is fine.

  20. John Harshman: Perhaps we’re arguing over the meaning of “involve”. Allele frequency change happens, so you might think that anything that happens during a process is involved in that process.

    Yes, keiths is being pedantic. Allele frequencies of populations are constantly changing so any evolutionary process that involves populations involves changing allele frequencies. And furthermore, since evolution is defined as changes in allele frequencies, obviously any evolutionary process is going to involve changes in allele frequencies.

    And keiths will argue with you about it for as long as you can put up with it. 🙂

  21. Mung: So Creationists did invent the idea of a “body plan”? Body plans are creationist inventions!

    Those were great times 🙂

  22. Alan Fox:

    If macroevolution is just a synonym for speciation there’s no need for the word.

    Indeed!

    My point is that macroevolution is not just a synonym for speciation.

  23. John Harshman, Sure, John. I’m less clear what you mean if and when you use “macroevolution” You mention Jablonki. Reznick says of him (in the Nature paper I linked to)

    Jablonski’s vision is more complex than Darwin’s and reflects the growth of ecology, evolution and palaeontology as disciplines since 1859, but it retains Darwin’s emphasis on the presence of a biological filter that lies between microevolution and macroevolution and shapes the long-term consequences of evolutionary change. Jablonski concludes by calling for increased integration between fields to build a bridge between microevolution and macroevolution, and we concur with him.

    ETA one way to build that bridge would be to talk simply of evolution.

  24. Alan Fox: All you are doing really is defining categories. Which is fine.

    No, it is an outcome of historical developments. The modern synthesis has been instrumental in our understanding of evolutionary change, but deals only with the changes occurring within evolutionary lineages, mostly at ecological time scales. But paleontology and systematics deal with evolution on geological time scales which also involves cladogenesis (the splitting of lineages) and extinction. This is how the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution has come about.

  25. Macroevolution means evolution on the grand scale, and it is mainly studied in the fossil record.

    – Evolution. Edited by Mark Ridley

    So there you have it. And that should settle it.

  26. Alan Fox: ETA one way to build that bridge would be to talk simply of evolution.

    That’s not building a bridge. That’s pretending the river doesn’t exist.

  27. Alan Fox,

    If I’m not misreading, all you are saying here is the view changes from when you focus in on a particular gene pool to when you draw back to look at a broader view of the branching tree of life.

    That’s not all I am saying there. I am saying it is important to distinguish processes where genes can integrate from processes where they cannot. Microevolution, we almost always think about in terms of sexual species, with recombination. Genes can integrate there; ‘alleles’ are genomic subdivisions.

    The picture changes for asexuals – but it also changes when two sexual populations separate. Across the divide between non-recombining genomes, an ‘allele’ is a whole genome. Inside those populations, each with recombination, alleles are subgenome fragments. So, something different is going on from what you typically think of when you think of ‘microevolution’.

  28. Alan Fox: You could even leave out the bit about reproductive isolation!

    I knew that would cause trouble.
    Borrowing from Douglas Adams, Macroevolution is the post hoc label assigned to a series of events presumed to have resulted in whatever change or divergence you wish to explain. Usually a noticeable change in appearance or function requiring more than one mutation. Over the Edge.

    My point is that the only “precise” part of the definition is multiple steps. Regardless of how fuzzy you want to make the definition, fixing one mutation is not macroevolution.

  29. Corneel: Since nobody else seems to bother:

    Whales follow the tetrapod body plan. This is not controversial or particular to evolutionary theory. Even staunch creationists like Richard Owen in the 19th century accepted this fact (he based his idea of a vertebrate archetype on similar observations). It doesn’t matter whether you accept the evolutionary explanation or not, but whales are truly motorcycles turned submarines.

    Then again, all tetrapods are already submarines turned motorcycles, so I imagine your hypothetical engineer won’t break a sweat over it.

    So, since snakes and humans are also tetrapods, which one of them would be more likely to change into an aquatic one?

    Also, how many generations and what size the population would we need to see at least some evolutionary changes to an aquatic animal if we made snakes and humans to spend most of the time in the water to activate the selective pressure…or whatever made the land walking mammal into a whale…

    Give me a ballpark figure…

  30. Joe Felsenstein:
    There are lots of water snakes, and 17 genera and 62 species of sea snakes.

    Any of the snakes transitioning into a whale?

    How many generations of men spending the majority of time in the water, diving most of the day, would it take to notice some evolutionary changes into an aquatic human? Give an estimate please or prediction…

  31. Joe Felsenstein:
    There are lots of water snakes, and 17 genera and 62 species of sea snakes.

    I’m not seeing the lesson to be learned here, other than that snakes are cool. Was that it?

  32. John Harshman: I’m not seeing the lesson to be learned here, other than that snakes are cool. Was that it?

    Since all of them are evolving and transitioning into other species, I was wondering if that would be evolutionarily predictable that one of them is evolving into a whale like looking animal without changing itis body plans…Just in reference to corneel’s educational non-sense…

  33. John Harshman: I’m not seeing the lesson to be learned here, other than that snakes are cool. Was that it?

    The point is that they are already aquatic. We need not speculate on whether it is impossible for a snake to become aquatic.

  34. Joe Felsenstein: The point is that they are already aquatic.We need not speculate on whether it is impossible for a snake to become aquatic.

    I missed the part where we were talking about that, apparently. There have been hypotheses that snakes originally evolved in the water, sister group of mosasaurs.

  35. Joe Felsenstein: The point is that they are already aquatic.We need not speculate on whether it is impossible for a snake to become aquatic.

    We had been talking about body plans in reference to whale body plans…Coreel said there is no sweat to change body plans as the land walking whale and whale as they are tetrapods. I said that snakes and humans also are tetrapods (with obviosly different body plans)
    Look at the thread corneel started.
    Just because there are snakes living in water doesn’t apply as I was talking about land tetrapods evolving into aquatic ones now.
    There are populations all over the world that have been pearl and clam diviners for countless generations…Are they aquatic humans just because they spend most of the day in the water?

  36. J-Mac: There are populations all over the world that have been pearl and clam diviners for countless generations…Are they aquatic humans just because they spend most of the day in the water?

    There is the Aquatic Ape Theory. You can do a web search for details. I think it is nonsense, and most biologist probably agree with that.

  37. Neil Rickert: There is the Aquatic Ape Theory.You can do a web search for details.I think it is nonsense, and most biologist probably agree with that.

    There is? So I’m not that much off…

  38. Alan Fox:
    J-Mac,J-mac, I’m sorry no-one is much impressed with your attacks on evolutionary theory. I can only think it is the quality of your strawmen. You need them to stand up before you knock them down.

    Which comment of mine are you referring to? The system has bugs and it doesn’t quote often as it just did to you…

    I have no clue what you are talking about other than usual nonsense…

  39. Alan,

    The classic definition of evolution as “change in allele frequency over time” seems eminently reasonable to me.

    Even that definition is problematic when you consider genetic changes occurring outside of alleles. Why exclude those from evolution?

    Language evolves just as life does, and technical terms are no exception. A single technical term can come to mean different things in different contexts, and it’s generally futile to fight against that.

    Your suggestion below is naive:

    Corneel:

    Larry Moran is correct, there are lots of different definitions.

    Alan:

    Well, yes.Which is why I’ve suggested someone should come up with a precise, meaningful definition that everyone could work with.

  40. Alan,

    I could define “microevolution as the smallest possible change in one allele in one individual in one species population.

    That’s a terrible definition! Do you see why?

  41. Reznick:

    Jablonski concludes by calling for increased integration between fields to build a bridge between microevolution and macroevolution, and we concur with him.

    Alan:

    ETA one way to build that bridge would be to talk simply of evolution.

    John:

    That’s not building a bridge. That’s pretending the river doesn’t exist.

    Right. It’s the same mistake Alan made here, when replying to Corneel:

    All you are doing really is defining categories. Which is fine.

    As if defined categories never deserved their own names.

  42. John Harshman,

    I missed the part where we were talking about that, apparently.

    That’s probably because, not unreasonably, you likely have J-Mac on ignore.

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