The Discovery Institute’s evolution news and views blog has a post by Casey Luskin entitled "Science Paper admits evolution mechanism of ‘adaptive radiation’ lacks empirical evidence." The post is referring to a review article published in the February 6, 2009 issue of Science by Sergey Gavrilets and Jonathan Losos. The review, in actuality, is calling for more studies to be undertaken to look at adaptive radiation. Nowhere in the article does it say that there is no empirical evidence for adaptive radiation.
Adaptive radiation is when an ancestral group undergoes rapid diversification into different ecological niches leading to groups with great diversity. After a period of time, these new groups become different species. Typical examples include the Anolis lizards, African cichlids, and Hawaiian silverswords. Darwin’s finches are considered a group in the earliest stages of adaptive radiation. Unfortunately, the triggers for adaptive radiation are not fully understood and varying modes of adaptive radiation have been proposed.
In typical anti-science/pro-intelligent design style, Luskin completely misrepresent the authors’ intent. The Science review never admitted that "adaptive radiation lacks empirical evidence." This is just a fabrication by Luskin. It even says in the abstract that there is empirical data (emphasis mine):
Some of these[modes of adaptive radiation] are strongly supported by empirical work, whereas for others, empirical support is more tentative. In almost all cases, more data are needed. Future progress in our understanding of adaptive radiation will be most successful if theoretical and empirical approaches are integrated, as has happened in other areas of evolutionary biology.
As you can plainly see, the authors are not saying that there is a lack of empirical evidence, but that there are many areas that still require more data. The review even lists the sources of empirical data, which include fossils, phylogenetic comparisons, microevolutionary studies, and the use of model organisms in the lab. Luskin really just made this whole lack of data thing up. I guess since intelligent design has no empirical evidence to support it, he wants everyone to think the same thing about evolution.
The review article does claim that there is a real lack of effort in studying adaptive radiation, as can be seen in the above quote, However, Luskin seems to think that this lack of studies equals a deficiency in positive data for adaptive radiation and therefore evolution. Lack of studies and a lack of data are two completely different things. If the studies have never been undertaken, then we won’t have data either way.
I am not really going to go into it, but this post by Luskin is filled with quote mining. He literally takes a conclusion to a single idea and says that it applies to adaptive radiation as a whole. Compare for yourself (if you have access) and you will see just how disingenuous Luskin is being.
A couple of times, Luskin refers to adaptive radiation as a “magic wand that can be waved over the history of life.”talk about the pot calling the kettle black, How can Luskin have a problem with the magic wand idea when the whole theory of intelligent design is based on it?
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