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6 Common Misconceptions about Evolution

Updated on May 31, 2015
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Misconception: Science is performed by consensus

It is not 'scientific' to assert the veracity of a theory based on the number of endorsements it receives. Scientists do not cast ballots to decide laws and theories. A repeatable experiment with consistent measurable results is the deciding factor. A set of expectations that are not contradicted by facts carries weight: majority rule only matters in government, not scientific accuracy.

It is not reasonable to assert the validity of any scientific endeavor based on the number of educated folks endorsing it. No theory has been 'proven' by majority decision. It is entirely possible that politics or incorrectly designed experiments or improperly interpreted results can cause a "majority of scientists", whatever that might be, to accept an incorrect conclusion.

Many theories once widely accepted by scientific communities have been completely debunked. One such theory is that of the "Four Humors" which will be discussed shortly.


Misconception: Science is what you study

Science is how you study, not what you study. Science can be performed on plants or people or economic systems.

  1. Observe
  2. Hypothesize
  3. Design an Experiment
  4. Perform the Experiment
  5. Conclude / publish / report
  6. Repeat

Science can be performed on cellular biology or on the Extra Sensory Perception boasted by Las Vegas entertainers. Science can be used to investigate the claims of evolutionists, creationists, and charlatans. Science is a method, not an outcome or a subject.

Misconception: There is only one kind of evolution

Evolution is change over time, usually very small changes over very large increments of time. Evolution falls into two general categories. We apply two very broad terms: macro and micro. Macro-evolution represents the process of an amoeba morphing into a human being through innumerable small changes. Micro-evolution describes a particular bacteria becoming resistant to a specific antibiotic through a relatively small change or set of changes.

Perhaps the clearest demarcation lies in what we can observe and what we must infer. Scientists have observed antibiotic-resistant bacterium. Scientists have not observed a single-celled entity slowly changing into a banana over millions of years.

Misconception: A US Court ultimately decided ID is not science

Courts decide legal issues, not science. Courts are not constrained or directed to follow a scientific methodology. Lawyers and judges attend law school, not science school.

Yes, a US District Court judge wrote in a 139 page decision that that Intelligent Design is not science (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.) However, the US Supreme Court infamously ruled that African Americans could not be American Citizens (Dred Scott v. Sandford.)

These two cases are not functionally related but the point still stands:don't look to the legal system for validation of issues outside their purview because sometimes they get it wrong.

Misconception: Scientists are not biased

Mainstream scientific research as taught and performed at almost all reputable universities begins from the assertion that everything can be explained naturally. This is a bias. It may be a bias that most non-scientists readily accept, but nevertheless it remains an obvious bias.

When science starts from the premise that every mystery can be explained naturally or will eventually be explained naturally, it would follow that particles-to-people evolution is the only possible conclusion.

Sadly, bias also creeps into scientific literature. Politics, economics, and public opinion all influence the contents of journals and other publications. Editors work diligently to mitigate the effects. This author has participated in peer-reviews and peer-reviewed publications.

Misconception: A scientific theory is the same as a scientific law

Certainly a theory as posited from science is considered by scientists to be much more than an educated guess or an assumption. On the other hand, we do not use the terms "theory of photosynthesis" or "theory of gravity." A law can be represented mathematically. A theory cannot be represented mathematically. Theories change over time. Laws do not change unless they were initially in error.

A theory is an inference that fits the current set of facts. Theories change and are expected to change. For example, Western medicine was dominated by the theory of the "Four Humors" for over 2000 years. Dyscrasia was defined as the imbalance of these humors and was taught to be the direct cause of all diseases. German scientist Rudolf Virchow is credited with discrediting Dyscrasia and applying a more rigorous style of science to medicine. Interestingly, Virchow referred to Charles Darwin as an ignoramus.

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    • sunflowerforests profile image

      sunflowerforests 2 years ago from The light in the forest of doubt.

      Agreed. Ha

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      sunflowerforests : I don't know the magnitude of insult that 'ignoramus' represented at that time in history. It seems rather strong to me.

    • sunflowerforests profile image

      sunflowerforests 2 years ago from The light in the forest of doubt.

      Ignoramus...hmmn

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Read this book about Detroit:

      "Detroit: An Autopsy" by Charlie LeDuff. Staggering.

      I will send you my copy if you want.

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 2 years ago from Midwest

      Cleveland was actually much nicer than I was expecting... Driving through Chicago to get there - as usual - the worst part!

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @jbeadle , sorry, thats as far away as you can get.

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 2 years ago from Midwest

      nicomp... I'll be in Cleveland on July 12. Is that close to you?

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drbj, you have proven correct. No one is reading it and less are commenting.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      This is obviously a thinking person's hub so your readership may not be enormous. But I did enjoy it.

      Think I read somewhere that Darwin was not too fond of Virchow either.

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Sorry you're not writing much, you were always a great read. I cranked out hundreds of nuggets on BubbleWs until they imploded under the weight of incompetence.

      Looking forward to WildKats v Blue Devils.

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 2 years ago from Midwest

      Sorry. I think I broke the truce of not mentioning them. It is March though. Hope you are well. Love your stuff. I'm not writing much anymore... but glad you are.

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Thanks, you had me until Duke. :(

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 2 years ago from Midwest

      Nicely done hub. I've been involved in the Creationism vs Evolution debate since Y2K and you captured the elements of science and how it relates to evolution perfectly! Go Duke....

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      " Nature very clearly has a way of imposing noticeable constrains and limitations on the real world, "

      Another misconception. "Nature" does not impose, that action implies intent. Nature is not intentional.

      "What's the matter with you?"

      A lot, but most of it is not relevant to this discussion.

      "Natural science is the study of different aspects of nature, from chemistry and physics, to biology and astronomy, etc. "

      Yes...

      "These things are all part of our objective reality which you, like the rest of us, have to first learn to understand through the process of discovery. "

      No... most evolutionists simply believe what pop culture science tells them. Little or no discovery at all.

      "You can't do any of this with an untrained mind incapable of applying critical, scientific thinking. "

      Sure you can. Many untrained minds are capable of critical thinking. Ever heard the term "common sense?"

      "Is thinking not a process for you?"

      Thinking is indeed a process for me. I have two science degrees and I am 1/2 way through my third. I think purty well.

      "I have no idea where you get your understand from of what the study of nature really is in comparison to doing psychology or philosophy!"

      Obviously you would not have that idea. I certainly didn't tell you and we have no common acquaintances who would enlighten you.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 2 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Unverifiable? Try and see what you get crossing a cat and a dog! Nature very clearly has a way of imposing noticeable constrains and limitations on the real world, or religion would be a science and miracles would be daily events ... ahahaha

      What's the matter with you? Natural science is the study of different aspects of nature, from chemistry and physics, to biology and astronomy, etc. These things are all part of our objective reality which you, like the rest of us, have to first learn to understand through the process of discovery. You can't do any of this with an untrained mind incapable of applying critical, scientific thinking. Is thinking not a process for you?

      I have no idea where you get your understand from of what the study of nature really is in comparison to doing psychology or philosophy!

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "Objectivity forms a major part of scientific thought."

      Another misconception: there is no such thing as "scientific thought." Science is a process, not a way of thinking.

      "Natural science involves a much greater degree of objectivity..."

      Greater than what?

      "All natural events follow natural laws,"

      You can assert such but you cannot prove it.

      "It's highly probable that nature also imposes a limiting function on reality..."

      Completely unverifiable.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 2 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Objectivity forms a major part of scientific thought. Can we call that a bias as well? I wouldn't think so. Natural science involves a much greater degree of objectivity because of the subject matter being directly related to nature. All forms of philosophy, including philosophy of Science, on the other hand, deal with the human understanding of our own concepts of things, which are only a reflection of the objective reality we are trying to examine in our studies, etc.

      All natural events follow natural laws, but we have no idea how these laws came about, or how they are constantly implemented. It's highly probable that nature also imposes a limiting function on reality which makes anything not following the law of causality impossible in nature, a central point in dialectical materialism, i.e. miracles don't exist!

    • nicomp profile image
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      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Parrster, thanks for stopping by!

    • nicomp profile image
      Author

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @AustinStar, change over time is definitely it. Good point.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      It's doubtful that very many people will read this hub, but it is a good observation on the scientific methodology.

      Mostly, I wish people would quit comparing evolution with religion.

      Religion is more concerned with the "why" of things, while evolution is simply a study of how things change over time. Things obviously do change over time. It's up to 'religious' people to determine who and why they change.

      But to say one "doesn't believe in evolution" is just crazy talk.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 2 years ago from Oz

      Points concisely put and well made, thanks for sharing