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Dark moths increased in s. Britain after pollution control began (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Dark moths increased in s. Britain after pollution control began (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CB601.2.3:

South of latitude 52 degrees north, melanism in the peppered moth showed no correlation with sulphur dioxide concentration, and the proportion of dark moths increased there after pollution control was introduced. These observations are inconsistent with Kettlewell's explanation that the spread of the dark moths was caused by natural selection resulting from selective predation.

Source:

CreationWiki response:

It needs to be noted that the traditional peppered moth story is no way a threat to creation science. Not only do the peppered moths remain peppered moths but there is not even a change in the peppered moth gene pool—only a temporary shift in populations. The fact that Evolutionists even consider this evidence for evolution is a sign of desperation.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Wells (2000, 146) wrote:
  • R.C. Steward found a correlation between melanism and the concentration of sulfur dioxide (an airborne pollutant) north -- but not south -- of latitude 52 degrees north.
The assertion that Steward found no correlation between melanism and the concentration of sulphur dioxide south of latitude 52 degrees north is simply false. The correlation which Steward (1977) found between the proportion of dark moths and the concentration of sulphur dioxide (or, more accurately, its square-root) was highly significant both over England and Wales as a whole, and south of latitude 52 degrees north. What Steward in fact observed was that for 165 sites scattered over the whole of England and Wales, the square-root of the concentration of sulphur dioxide was the most significantly correlated with the proportion of dark moths out of the thirteen variables he tested. South of latitude 52 degrees north, however, the most significantly correlated variable was east-west location, rather than the square-root of sulphur dioxide concentration. It was nevertheless true that the correlations of both east-west location and square-root of sulphur dioxide concentration with the proportion of dark moths were highly significant both when all sites were included in his analysis as well as when only those south of the given latitude were included.

This seems to be simply the result of a difference in interpreting the results. Talk Origins sees significant correlations where Wells does not. It is not uncommon for two researchers to see different things in the same data.

It also needs to be noted that Wells was writing to laymen not scientists, so he was simplifying his description.

According to Steward these observations supported an inference he had drawn from other results that
  • in the south of Britain non-industrial factors may be of greater importance in determining carbonaria frequency than in the rest of Britain (1977, 239).

Wells also refers to this statement. It makes his main point quite well: that there are more factors involved with peppered moth color than the traditional peppered moth story implies.

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