The UnAustralian

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Science and the Media

In the higher education supplement of todays Australian there is an article titled Another Unholy Row in the Making by Mary Wakefield (you can read it from it's original source here).

It examines the intelligent design movement, and it looks like the author has done a fair amount of research, however, there are some massive howlers present. And this gets me on to one of my pet hates, the general poor state of scientific knowledge among journalists who are writing on scientific topics.

For example, Wakefield writes According to modern Darwinism, new species are created by a purposeless, random process of genetic mutation. If keen Darwinians such as my mother can get it wrong, it is perhaps not surprising that the theory is under attack.

This statement is soooooo wrong. Darwinian evolution requires two phenomena. The first is random mutation, which is what the author describes. This adds variability to a population. However, the second phenomena is natural selection. Genes that are better suit their owner towards survival and production of new offspring will prosper, whereas genes which hinder this, will die off. There is nothing random about this process. And the combination of these two phenomena is what gives evolution a direction (ie. bigger fangs, fast running etc etc).

The article has a number of similar errors in it.
| 5:38 PM