Monday, May 9, 2016

Darwin did not discredit Lamarck

Genomicist Razib Khan writes about a New Yorker mag mistake:
But there’s a major factual problem which I mentioned when it came out, and, which some friends on Facebook have been griping about. I’ll quote the section where the error is clearest:
…Conceptually, a key element of classical Darwinian evolution is that genes do not retain an organism’s experiences in a permanently heritable manner. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, in the early nineteenth century, had supposed that when an antelope strained its neck to reach a tree its efforts were somehow passed down and its progeny evolved into giraffes. Darwin discredited that model….
It is true that in Neo-Darwinian evolution, the modern synthesis, which crystallized in the second quarter of the 20th century, genes do not retain an organism’s experiences in a permanently heritable manner. But this is not true for Charles Darwin’s theories, which most people would term a “classical Darwinian” evolutionary theory.
Not just the New Yorker.

For some reason, the Darwin idolizers frequently stress that he proved Lamarck wrong about heredity. This is misguided for a couple of reasons.

First, they are usually eager to convince you of some leftist-atheist-evolutionist-naturalist-humanist agenda, but they could make essentially the same points if Lamarckianism were true.

Second, Darwin was a Lamarkian, as a comment explains:
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species proposed natural selection as the main mechanism for development of species, but did not rule out a variant of Lamarckism as a supplementary mechanism.[11] Darwin called his Lamarckian hypothesis pangenesis, and explained it in the final chapter of his book The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868), after describing numerous examples to demonstrate what he considered to be the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Pangenesis, which he emphasised was a hypothesis, was based on the idea that somatic cells would, in response to environmental stimulation (use and disuse), throw off ‘gemmules’ or ‘pangenes’ which travelled around the body (though not necessarily in the bloodstream). These pangenes were microscopic particles that supposedly contained information about the characteristics of their parent cell, and Darwin believed that they eventually accumulated in the germ cells where they could pass on to the next generation the newly acquired characteristics of the parents. Darwin’s half-cousin, Francis Galton, carried out experiments on rabbits, with Darwin’s cooperation, in which he transfused the blood of one variety of rabbit into another variety in the expectation that its offspring would show some characteristics of the first. They did not, and Galton declared that he had disproved Darwin’s hypothesis of pangenesis, but Darwin objected, in a letter to the scientific journal Nature, that he had done nothing of the sort, since he had never mentioned blood in his writings. He pointed out that he regarded pangenesis as occurring in Protozoa and plants, which have no blood. (wiki-Lamarckism)
Here is more criticism of the New Yorker and part 2.

I have heard people say that the New Yorker employs rigorous fact checkers, but I don't think that they try to check that the science is right. It is a literary magazine, and they check literary matters.


  1. Lookup histone modification.

  2. The only real problem I have with 'evolution' as a theory is the same problem I have with the 'big bang' as a theory, It has no revision number, like software. If a theory can constantly change to fit new data, it is not the same theory, it is a modification of an existing theory, which basically makes it impossible to evaluate honestly. If I could change any explanation of how something worked every time new data contradicted my explanation, or if my explanation could not take the new data into account, I too could always be correct. This is in effect like a student who gets the answer wrong, learns about the correct answer, erases his mistake and presents his altered work as being correct all along.
    Not against the theories per se, just how they are always retroactively claimed to be predictive and accurate when in fact they have been altered thousands of times to fit new information.

  3. Darwin's own METICULOUS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH into worms actually proves Earth is young and The Flood really did occur about 4,400 years ago.
    Unfortunately due to his failed belief in God he was unable to connect the dots and so is lauded as the champion idiot of Evononsense when he could have been praised as the man who proved Creation and Flood!
    I'll take the praise instead!