Wednesday, August 09, 2006

MYTHS

Myth: Evolution is a theory
Fact: There is no myth further from the truth. First of all, evolution is a fact. Natural selection is the theory advanced to rationalize it, and natural selection is as good a 'theory' as you can have. If evolution is a theory, then it is as good as the 'theory' that the earth revolves round the sun.

Myth: Evolution is dubious because it cannot be demonstrated in real time.
Fact: For a counterexample, we just have to look at HIV, one of the more unfortunate gems of evolutionary processes. Evolution has been demonstrated in scientific journals of every kind millions of times, both on a micro scale quite beautifully in biochemical systems, and on a macro scale (See 'The Beak of the Finch'). Also, take a look at a recent more endearing example; mice who shudder when blasted with air.



Myth: Global warming is a theory
Fact: Global warming is a fact. At no time in the last 650,000 years has temperature risen in an overall manner as it has in the last century. CO2 levels have also been the highest. No doubt about that. As for the correlation, it is very very good, if not foolproof. And when it comes to fools who don't believe global warming is real, it cannot be foolproof enough.

Myth: Global warming is causing evolution
Fact: I made that up, although global warming has been shown to cause proliferation as well as extinction of species. Evolution in a local sense may be one effect. And this could very well be a myth in someone's mind. After all, as John Casti says, one function of myths is to provide a feeling of awe about the ultimate mysteries of the universe. And what better way to reinforce this feeling than through ignorance, no?

Myth: Evolution is causing global warming
Fact: True! If we had not evolved and not become industrialised, we would not have caused this kind of global warming.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Siddharth Rege said...

hey Ashutosh, long time since I left a message but that is purely a symptom of my laziness. Rest assured, I have read every word you have written and have particularly liked this article as well as the one a few days back about the scientists in the village in Germany.

Anyway, I whole-heartedly agree with you on this fact that evolution is still called a 'theory' mainly because of historical and political reasons and not science at all. I guess it really should be elevated to the status of a ' universal natural law'.

Anyway, as and when you get the time, I would love it if you wrote some more articles on evolution (presuming you are far better versed in it that most of us). I guess to the lay man (like myself) the aspect of evolution that is most clouded in mystery is the very initial part. By that I mean, the very beginning of the progress from inanimate to basic single celled organisms. I have heard about the concepts of the selfish gene and replicator molecules and so forth but I would love to read what you have to say on the matter.
rege

11:11 AM  
Anonymous anya said...

Warming of the Earth, as the human race progresses, expands and automates is inevitable. What is intriguing is that people can refuse to believe it is happening, much more and faster than we thought it would.

Regarding whether evolution is a theory or not, then why not counter the creationists with 'God is a theory'? :-D

11:20 AM  

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