PLoS Biology’s press releases have taken another step toward being dismissed as “crap” by people who know jack shit about evolution, thanks to a new press release published last week.
It starts off like so:
Evolution has taken another step away from being dismissed as “a theory” in the classroom, thanks to a new paper published this week in the online open-access journal PLoS Biology.
And goes on like this:
As all students of Darwin know, evolution occurs when there is variation in a population; where some variants confer a survival or reproductive advantage to the individual, and where the basis for this advantage can be inherited. Finally, there must be a selection pressure — a reason that not all animals can survive or reproduce — such as a limited supply of food or a predator that must be avoided.
As any biologist worth shit knows, natural selection occurs when some heritable variants confer a survival or reproductive advantage. That differential survival is the result of a selection pressure. But evolution can occur without natural selection — it only requires differential survival/reproduction. How can there be differential survival without natural selection? Easy, there are factors independent of your genotype that influence your survival and reproductive success. For example, you’d be hard pressed to argue that your propensity to be struck by lightning is genetically encoded.
The press release describes an article on the automation of a laboratory evolution protocol (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060085). The sad part is, the experiment incorporates a stochastic element — mutation. There is also selection, but the press release even describes a “random” component of evolution.
Paegel BM, Joyce GF. 2008. Darwinian Evolution on a Chip. PLoS Biol 6: e85 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060085