Explore Evolution The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism

Response to the NCSE’s Reply to Explore Evolution on Natural Selection

By Casey Luskin, M.S. (Earth Sciences), J.D. Introduction In its response to the textbook Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism (EE), the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) claims that natural selection can be understood as having served as the primary adaptive force driving “the diversification of life as we know it over the course of several billion years.”1 Despite the NCSE’s bold assurances, scientists have encountered many problems when trying to explain how natural selection acts upon populations to generate complex new biological features. In his Princeton University Press volume Natural Selection in the Wild, biologist John A. Endler writes that “[t]here are six major gaps in our knowledge and understanding of natural selection,”2 namely: (1) Why Read More ›

Misrepresenting the Gálapagos Finches

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education: (A) EE claims that natural selection produced only oscillations in beak size in Galápagos finches, but “in the course of a few years, the size changes within species were large enough to explain the differences among the various species of Galápagos finches,” and “the size and shape of finch beaks did change over the course of the 30 years that biologists have been studying the populations.”[1] (B) EE claims that Galápagos finch species are merging rather than diversifying, but “the hybridization observed in the finches is not enough to merge two species, and observations in the field have actually shown substantial evidence of incipient speciation.” Furthermore, EE “introduces an extrapolation which bears Read More ›

Fact and Fiction about the Peppered Moth

According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): (A) “Textbooks do not use peppered moths as an example of something new being created, they use it to demonstrate what natural selection can do in mere decades.”[1] (B) EE “claims that many research scientists think Kettlewell’s experiments were invalid because he released his moths during the daytime, when moths are sleepy and sluggish,” but “no research scientists think this. This claim is found nowhere in the research literature.”[2] (C) EE “claims that because peppered moths don’t rest on tree trunks, which is where Kettlewell put them, his experiments are invalid,” but “peppered moths do rest on trunks.”[3] (A) Use of Peppered Moths in Explore Evolution EE does not claim that textbooks Read More ›

Antibiotic Resistance Revisited

[Note: This response is co-authored with Explore Evolution co-author Ralph Seelke, Professor of Biology at University of Wisconsin-Superior.] In its rebuttal to Explore Evolution (EE) on antibiotic resistance, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) calls EE “incoherent,” “deeply confused,” and asserts that it “significantly misrepresents” the data.[1] But this appears to be little more than harsh rhetoric: the NCSE cites papers that demonstrate trivial degrees of evolution and when read carefully, actually validate EE’s arguments about fitness costs associated with antibiotic resistance. The NCSE’s rebuttal to EE with regards to antibiotic resistance contains many misstatements about EE and the data, and the entire rebuttal makes only one valid point—a point which when properly understood actually strengthens the case against macroevolution in Explore Evolution. Moreover, the NCSE makes multiple assertions about Read More ›

The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism