Saturday, November 17, 2012

Illustra Media

(Sorry! I thought I posted this already).

There are some amusing screw-ups in the movie. Most of the shots with the monarch butterfly pupa are shown upside down. But this is the quality of the "science" from creationist outfits like Illustra Media, and the Discovery Institute. The narration also falsely claimed that the adult butterfly has reassembled from a "chemical soup." This particular lie insults anyone capable of reading basic scientific literature.

The extensive reworking of the body, metamorphosis, is not limited to butteries. We see similar development even in fish, and amphibians. Much of these events are hidden from view in mammals within the uterus,or behind the shield of the eggshell with birds. Some of the first studies ever done in Western science were of chicken embryos. For a review of some of the magical thinking about metamorphosis, I suggest reading Hart and Grosberg, "Extraordinary Scientific Delusions about Metamorphosis," which reviews Frank Ryan’s "The Mystery of Metamorphosis." Most of their observations are applicable to the Illustra Media's nonsense.

Paul Nelson appears a few minutes into the trailer. He is a young earth creationist, and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. He thinks the developmental biology of butterflies is a "problem for evolution" because evolutionary changes take a long time. What he want you to think is that 1) biologists are too stupid to have thought about this, and 2) that the developmental biology of butterflies are unique and isolated from all the other millions of insects. He hopes you are stupid.

As a "philosopher" Paul Nelson is a failure. Only a failure would pretend that an open question about a technical problem, even a deep theoretical problem, means that the parent science is invalidated. We don't have, and don't really need a cell by cell map of a monarch butterfly development in order to confirm evolutionary biology. We do have all we need by realizing that the Lepidoptera are only one order of insect, and they are in a continuum of developmental strategies. For a quick overview see: "Origin and Evolution of Insect Metamorphosis" by Prof. Xavier Belles.

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