Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poorly Written Science Articles

I posted this to my facebook wall a moment ago but it got truncated so I'm reposting it here...

First, the crappy article: Here

As a fan of science and, in particular, evolutionary science this article seems to be exceptionally poorly written, especially for Science Now (I sort of expect science writing like this from NPR and other mainstream news sources who seem to think evolution is a living, breathing thing, instead of a theory to be used to understand the world).

1) "And that... could be bad for the evolution of the entire species." What kind of poorly thought out sentience is that? Helen Fields, please explain to me what qualifies something as being good or "bad" for the evolution of a species? This strikes me as very similar to saying something is "bad" for the thermodynamics of a particle. It is nonsensical and doesn't convey any information about what is actually going on. Something can't be "bad" for evolution. It may decrease or increase the rate of evolution or alter the direction of species evolution but nothing about those is, in and of itself, bad.

2) "This experiment adds to evidence that evolution doesn't always lead inexorably to progress for the species..." I would argue that evolution rarely leads to "progress for the species". Looking around at the majority of the world's species of animals today, it seems relatively obvious that given a significant amount of time and the right evolutionary conditions, evolution leads to speciation and, likely, the eventual extinction of the originating species due to pressures from the new species or multiple new species.

To take human evolution as a case in point, it is widely accepted now that the common ancestor of humans and the apes no longer exists precisely because of evolution and the speciation of our common ancestor into at least two new species which competed for the same resources as it did.

I'm so tired of reading articles about evolution and evolutionary science that seem as informed on the matter as my elementary science book was 23 years ago.

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