So what does my Scienceblogs colleague, Dr. Tara Smith of Aetiology know anyways? So she’s got an advanced degree and is a practicing epidemiologist. How could she be so smart if she writes stuff like this?
Those of you who have followed creationism/intelligent design literature over the years have probably felt as if you’re living in an alternate universe sometimes. In that literature, many times it seems as if “up” means “down” and “highly supported by the evidence” means “a theory in crisis.”
Phylogenetic analyses based on genetic mutations are used to determine relationships for all kinds of organisms–including humans. In infectious disease epidemiology, they can be used to pinpoint the origin of a virus, or to track and predict its spread, as I’ve written about previously. A new paper in Nature uses similar methodology to examine the introduction of influenza H5N1 into Nigeria. [Etc., etc., about some science-y stuff regarding evolution and viruses.] (Aetiology)
Whoa, stop right there, Doctor Smith! Let me educate you. Or rather, we’ll have Mike Martin of Greeley, Colorado, Guest Columnist in The Greeley Tribune and former editor of Ag Weekly Magazine, educate you. The problem, Doctor Smith, is that you believe in mutations:
If the human population is suddenly decimated by a bird flu pandemic, will it be because the H5N1 virus that causes the disease “mutated?” Or is the use of the word “mutation” an inaccurate, perhaps even deceptive, description of so-called changes occurring in the virus?
The June 24 Health and Science page of the Tribune carried the alarming headline, “Mutation found in bird flu.” The story was about the H5N1 virus “mutating slightly” and spreading from person to person in an Indonesian family. The article said the mutated virus had stopped, and there was no danger of a pandemic arising from the situation. However, we are once again warned: “Experts fear the H5N1 virus could eventually mutate (there’s the word again) into a highly contagious form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a global pandemic.”
Darwin’s theory of evolution proposed that changes that cause one species to evolve into another occur through random mutations which are carried on through succeeding generations. Hence, apes eventually became humans by a series of mutations. Mutation, in this sense, is a result of genetic damage.
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.
The same principle applies in the H5N1 virus. Obviously, at least one strain of the virus is already capable of getting into some segments of the human population (since numerous people have already died of bird flu). All that is necessary for a pandemic is for those strains to become more prevalent — or perhaps, for the flu to wend its way into a group of more susceptible humans. Regardless, no mutation will be required for the sickness to make the leap to pandemic. All that is necessary is the right set of circumstances — circumstances that have nothing to do with evolution.
Don’t be fooled by evolutionists who want to promote their theory by redefining “mutation” to include population shifts. They aren’t the same thing. Evolutionists will have to look elsewhere for elusive proof of their creation story. (The Greely Tribune)
I’m not fooled, Mr. Martin. Clearly this mutation business is a trojan horse to get “evolution” into biological science. Thank you for writing this in a newspaper. I see that you have a degree in technical journalism from The Colorado State University. No one can deny this is journalism. Technically.