…but luckily, I’m set straight over at Effect Measure, where Revere completely refutes my silly notion of mutations in H5N1 by citing this excellent guest commentary in the Greely Tribune (where their top story today is about a hot dog from 1952). The commentary is titled “Bird flu a lame claim to evolution theory” and written by one Mike Martin, former editor of Ag Weekly Magazine. He certainly demolishes my silly science-y notation of just what “mutations” (such as those discussed in the Nature article I cited use for analysis) are all about:
But now, “mutation” is being redefined to include any change. If changes can be found in the population of a species they are proclaimed by those who believe in evolution as proof of the theory. The same logic is used in telling us that mosquitoes have “mutated” to become resistant to DDT. But the fact is, before the use of DDT, a small group in the total mosquito population was already resistant. When the insecticide was applied, the resistant insects survived while the unresistant died. The resistant then reproduced forming a strain (a group with common ancestry) of resistant mosquitoes. This an example of population shift, not of mutation in the Darwinian sense. The same fundamentals are used intentionally in cattle breeding to create a population shift that changes a herd of Herefords into black Angus.
Y’see, the “mutations” are already there! It was just a “population shift”! Like, when you have a pre-existing population, and something comes in that challenges it, and only some–let’s call them the “fittest”–survive. Yeah, kind of like a “survival of the fittest” scenario. Just like that. That’s not evolution, silly scientist.
Let’s not stop and think, though, where that initial variation in the population came from. That’s just a step too far removed from Mr. Martin’s thinking, even though he mentions common ancestry. Surely there wasn’t a population–let’s say, the common ancestor of the DDT-resistant and DDT-susceptible mosquitoes–that then happened to diverge via the accumulation of those wacky, non-existent things called “mutations”? And when DDT came into widespread use, it killed off much of that susceptible population, leaving the resistant population–voilà, population shift!
Nah, couldn’t be. Like Revere said, “Clearly this mutation business is a trojan horse to get ‘evolution’ into biological science.” Duh.
I know creationists don’t accept this as actual evolution–I mean, no mosquitoes turned into elephants or anything that would really signify a change–but to deny that mutations had anything to do with it because they occurred in the previous step is like saying you can’t cause a car accident because all you did was press down on a little pedal. One must understand the history of events before drawing a conclusion about what is or is not relevant, and the reason the mosquitoes are differentially resistant to DDT–or that H5N1 viruses have different abilities to infect humans–is because of the accumulation of mutations, which may be selected for or against in the future. How hard is it, really, to remember RM + NS?
[NOTE: for those of you who may be unfamiliar with Revere or Effect Measure, please note that he, too, is being sarcastic!]