Feature Article - January 2014
by Do-While Jones

2013 in Review

No news was good news for evolutionists.

Our newsletter is driven by current events. We report to you what the popular press and peer-reviewed technical literature have to say about the theory of evolution. This was a tough year for us because there was hardly any discussion of evolution at all.

New Scientist had only one sentence even remotely related to evolution in their month-by-month summary of the past year in science. For the month of June all they said was,

Earliest primate skeleton ever found, unearthed in eastern China. 1

Discover Magazine considered the Chinese discovery (of Archicebus Achilles, nicknamed “Archie”) to be the 48th most important science story in 2013. Regarding this fossil they said,

To discover Archie’s place in the primate family tree, the research team spent 10 years developing and using the world’s largest phylogenetic data matrix. 2

So, the New Scientist report is slightly misleading. Discover tells us Archie wasn’t unearthed in China in June, 2013. It was in June, 2013, that Xijun Ni’s team finally reported their analysis of a fossil found more than 10 years ago.

In Discover’s list of the 100 most important science stories of 2013, there were two other evolution-related stories that they ranked higher than Archie. Number 17 on their list was,

Last May, researchers unveiled the chicken-size dinosaur-like Aurornis xui. 3

Of course, every time they find the oldest fossil anything, it messes up their chronology, and gives species less time to evolve. They have to come up with an explanation of how this new species could have evolved so quickly to appear in the fossil record so early.

Discover considered Skull 5, which we reported in November 4, to be the 26th most important story of the year.

Perhaps it’s time to prune the family tree. A 1.8 million-year-old skull suggests several of the half-dozen species of human ancestors and cousins alive then were likely all members of just one species: Homo erectus. 5

In other words, some of the supposed missing links never even existed. That can’t be good for the theory of evolution!

Only one of Science News’ Top 25 Stories of 2013 had anything to do with evolution. Story Number 4 began,

Human evolution appears poised for a scientific makeover, as unexpected and provocative findings have raised new questions this year about two poorly understood periods leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens. 6

This story isn’t about Skull 5! It’s about a very recent, entirely different study, which we will tell you about in this month’s Evolution in the News column.

Propaganda Prevails

With so little news about evolution (and what little news there was, was bad) it is hard to understand why, according to the poll described in this month’s Website of the Month, acceptance of the theory of evolution is increasing among Christians. There was no recent scientific breakthrough that proved we evolved from apes. All the technical articles this year about the previous theories of human evolution have been about how the previous theories were wrong, and have to be corrected some time in the future.

After Lothar submitted this month’s Website of the Month article, we received this email from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

Two New Polls Address Evolution. Recent polls from the Pew Research Center 7 and Harris 8 both show that roughly a third of respondents believe in creationism, while 60 and 47 percent of respondents, respectively, accept the theory of evolution. The responses do not appear to be significantly different from those of previous surveys. Results varied strongly by religion and political affiliation, but did not show strong variation among different generations. 9

One poll says nearly 2/3 of Americans believe in evolution, and the other poll says that less than 1/2 of Americans believe in evolution. That’s not very conclusive! (Of course, that’s just our spin on the AAAS’ spin on the NCSE’s spin of the subjective summaries of two different polls. ) If you follow the links in the footnotes to the actual poll summaries, the raw results are even more confusing.

The numbers really don’t mean much. For example, the Harris poll says the number of adults who believe “Jesus is God” decreased by 4% since 2005. Does that mean that fewer Christians believe Jesus is God, or that more Muslims were surveyed in 2013 than in 2005?

The Harris poll shows that belief in evolution is up 5% since 2005. Belief in reincarnation is up 3%, and belief in ghosts and UFOs are up 1%, too! If an increase in the poll numbers is valid evidence for evolution, then there is valid evidence for reincarnation, ghosts, and UFOs, too!

I stopped trusting polls years ago when a TV network reported they had taken a poll that discovered the vast majority of Americans believe foreign leaders didn’t like President Bush. How many of those people surveyed could have named even one European head of state (not to mention any African leader), let alone give any justification for why that world leader didn’t like President Bush? The next week, that same TV network took another survey and found that even more Americans thought foreign leaders didn’t like President Bush! Hummmmm, I wonder why!

Polls tell us more about the effectiveness of propaganda than they tell us about truth. Scientific truth is not determined by majority opinion. Scientific truth is determined by observation and experimentation—not consensus.

We observed that the scientific literature in 2013 reported more problems for the theory of evolution. That’s more important than any opinion poll of randomly selected adults.

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1 New Scientist, 21/28 December 2013, page 35, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029480-100-2013-review-the-years-biggest-news-at-a-glance/
2 Discover, January/February 2014, “Oldest Primate Finds Its Place on the Tree”, page 55, https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2014/january-february
3 Discover, January/February 2014, “A Really Early Bird”, page 28, https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2014/january-february
4 Disclosure. November 2013, “Skull 5”
5 Discover, January/February 2014, “Skull Suggests One Homo Lineage”, page 38, https://www.discovermagazine.com/magazine/2014/january-february
6 Science News, December 28, 2013, “Year in Review: New Discoveries reshape debate over human ancestry”, page 22, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/year-review-new-discoveries-reshape-debate-over-human-ancestry
7 http://ncse.com/news/2013/12/new-pew-poll-evolution-0015271, which is the NCSE’s biased report of the Pew poll at http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/
8 http://ncse.com/news/2013/12/evolution-new-harris-poll-0015255, which is the NCSE’s biased report of the Harris poll at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/mid/1508/articleId/1353/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/Default.aspx
9 AAAS Policy Alert – 08 January 2014