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Shattering the Myths of Darwinism Paperback – 31 Mar 2000
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" . . . Significant and fascinating."
" Bang goes the empirical basis on which neo-Darwinism rests."
" The world of science faces the biggest challenge yet to one of its most basic beliefs."
" When a reputable science correspondent of more than twenty years' experience raises serious doubts, then it is time to sit up and listen."
" On subject after subject--methods of dating, the fossil record, microbiology, geology, etc.--Milton shows the inadequacy of the evidence for Darwinian evolution." ?
& quot; . . . Significant and fascinating.& quot;
& quot; Bang goes the empirical basis on which neo-Darwinism rests.& quot;
& quot; When a reputable science correspondent of more than twenty years' experience raises serious doubts, then it is time to sit up and listen.& quot;
& quot; On subject after subject--methods of dating, the fossil record, microbiology, geology, etc.--Milton shows the inadequacy of the evidence for Darwinian evolution.& quot; ?
& quot; The world of science faces the biggest challenge yet to one of its most basic beliefs.& quot;
." . . Significant and fascinating."
"Bang goes the empirical basis on which neo-Darwinism rests."
"On subject after subject--methods of dating, the fossil record, microbiology, geology, etc.--Milton shows the inadequacy of the evidence for Darwinian evolution."?
." . . Significant and fascinating."--Donald A. Yerxa, "Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation", June 2001
." . . Significant and fascinating." --Donald A. Yerxa, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, June 2001
"The world of science faces the biggest challenge yet to one of its most basic beliefs."
"Bang goes the empirical basis on which neo-Darwinism rests."
"On subject after subject--methods of dating, the fossil record, microbiology, geology, etc.--Milton shows the inadequacy of the evidence for Darwinian evolution."
"When a reputable science correspondent of more than twenty years' experience raises serious doubts, then it is time to sit up and listen."
About the Author
Richard Milton is a science journalist and design engineer based in London. He is a member of Mensa, the international high-IQ society, and writes a column for Mensa Magazine. He has been a member of the Geologists' Association for twenty years, and did extensive geological research for this book. He has been featured on the BBC, NBC, and other television networks. He is also the author of Alternative Science.
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Top customer reviews
I read with great sadness his account of richard Dawkins knowingly lying about him to prevent a critique of Darwinism being published. What are they so scared of?
Sadly this is to be expected as Darwinism is dying and the sooner it is consigned to the dustbin along with the fraud of piltdown Man the sooner we can get back to real science and not frog prince fairy tales.
A honest, fascinating read well done richard.
I am a Natural Selection sceptic, purely on scientific and logical grounds (NO religion, sect or party of any kind). .
I was writing my own anti-selection book ('Defying Darwin' by Shirley Day,now published by Amazon as an Ebook), when I came across Richard Milton's book on the subject.
I have used some of his excellent points to bolster my own arguments.
Please read his book and do not be put off by the ad hominem smears perpetrated by Richard Dawkens et al.
Scientific research is usually paid for by public money, so it must be open to criticism.
'Creationism' is the taunt applied to anyone who tries to unravel Darwinian natural selection, but if you read Milton you will find excellent science
and excellent writing.
That a magic spirit is the only perceived alternative theory to the origin of life and species does not make natural selection correct and unassailable to scientific critique.
Richard Milton has provided a critique which science must attend to scientifically.
The book is a very readable attempt to encourage readers to consider that there are very concrete facts which go against the accepted views of evolution.
Approach the book with an open mind and you will find it challenging and thought provoking. Approach it from the point of view that the writer is 'ranting and raving' and you will totally miss the point of what he is tying to get across.
Having listened to the author I got the impression that he did a lot of research on his subject and approached it with an open mind and came to his conclusions after looking at the facts rather than from a mind set fixed and unwilling to look facts honestly.
This is a terrible book. It's so full of errors, misunderstandings and misleading statements, I wouldn't recommend it anyone wanting to conduct a serious study into evolution and the question of how life has arisen and evolved on Earth. The author has a poor understanding of most of the ideas and theories he challenges. Here are two examples:
1. In the Controversies section, in the chapter The Fish That Walked on pages 256-257 Milton summarises the history of the discovery of the Coelacanth, from fossil to living specimen. While it's very interesting that this fossil was initially heralded as the first fish that emerged on land, which was later proved to be false, he seems to use this as further evidence to suggest Darwinian evolution may be wrong (implying "if they got this wrong, what else might have they got wrong?"). The thing is, it was the same scientists who were wrong that admitted they were wrong and revised their theory, once living specimens were discovered. Milton says this of the discovery:
"The strange catch was a "living fossil" and its discovery must have been poetically inspired by the goddess of coincidence to remind mortals of their fallibility.
It soon became clear from examining the strange catch that the coelacanth was a poor choice for the "missing link" between marine and terrestrial life. Its four fins are much like those of any other fish and are no more suitable for supporting its weight on land, or of giving rise to amphibious limbs, than of those of fairground goldfish. There is, too, the awkward fact that the coelacanth lives at such great depths in the ocean (up to 200 meters) that it explodes due to decompression when bought up to the surface - a slightly ticklish handicap for colonizer of the land. In 1986 Hans Fricke of the Max Plank Institute for Animal Behavior used underwater video cameras to observed [sic] the coelacanth in its natural habitat. Unsurprisingly, the coelacanth does not stroll on the seabed with its fins, as supposed, but swims though the water just like any other fish.
Back in the bone departments, the innocent coelacanth was stripped of its title and dignities in a purely private ceremony. The official line today is that the coelacanth was merely an evolutionary dead end and some other creature - possibly Eusthenopteron - holds the coveted "missing link" title."
Funny he mentions bones there. Perhaps I should thank the goddess of coincidence, as one of the most biologically interesting things about the coelacanth is its spine. It is true that fossils don't give us much information abut the internal organs and structure of a lifeform. While clues may be inferred, it is still largely guess work. So the discovery of a live specimen of a creature thought to be extinct for at least 66 million years, has given us a rare and invaluable insight into their anatomy. Despite Milton going to pains to liken the coelacanth to any other modern fish, anatomically it is really quite different. It does not, for example, have a bony spine. Instead it's "backbone" is in the form of a continuous tube of cartilidge, filled with oil. This is thought to be the precursor of the modern spine and shows one of the steps in its evolution. See more on the spine and other important features and adaptations of the coelacanth here: [...] for example:
"Although coelacanths are technically vertebrates, they still retain the hollow, fluid-filled "notochords" that existed in the earliest vertebrate ancestors."
You see, the coelacanth is in fact an excellent example of transitional evolutionary adaptations, that Milton claims "do not exist at all in the fossil record". And that isn't the only glaring omission in the passage quoted above. In fact it's full of errors and flippantly misleading statements. Consider the statement that "There is, too, the awkward fact that the coelacanth lives at such great depths in the ocean (up to 200 meters) that it explodes due to decompression when bought up to the surface - a slightly ticklish handicap for colonizer of the land" and then watch this video of living and quite unexploded coelacanths on the coast of Indonesia: [...]
Shall I go on? Milton also states that "Its four fins are much like those of any other fish", when in fact:
"The vast majority of fish in the world's oceans, lakes and rivers--including salmon, tuna, goldfish and guppies--are "ray-finned" fish, or actinopterygians, the fins of which are supported by characteristic spines. Coelacanths, by contrast, are "lobe-finned" fish, or sarcopterygians, whose fins are supported by fleshy, stalklike structures. Besides coelacanths, the only extant sarcoptergians alive today are the lungfish of Africa, Australia and South America." (From here - same page linked above)
Before going on to my second example of another of Milton's glaring (and I believe deliberately misleading) omissions, let's look at serendipity for a moment. While I agree that, on the face of it, it does seem an extraordinary coincidence that at the same time coelacanth fossils were being exhibited as the "missing link", a live specimen was discovered. Milton leaves it at the that and he's only being lighthearted, but he is also revealing something. His arguments are designed to appeal to a certain mindset and way of thinking. Despite his claim on page 269:
"Let me make it unambiguously clear that I am not a creationist, nor do I have any religious beliefs."
his main arguments that he claims disprove Darwinism are completely creationist. They are exactly the same arguments that creationists have leveled against Darwinist and evolutionists since the debate began. It is an "argument from personal incredulity" and it is as unscientific as he claims Darwinism is. Why is it that live coelacanths were "discovered at around the same time their fossils were thought to be the "missing link""? Well it's simple, live coelacanths were caught before that time, perhaps many times, but they just weren't documented. Sometimes the fishermans' tales did make it into folklore, but it was only because the spotlight was on coelacanths that the "first" catch in 1938 became so famous and documented. Now let's think about that for the moment - doesn't it sound familiar? Doesn't it sound a bit like evolution itself? Doesn't it, in fact, not only reflect the evolutionary process of selection (with stories or discoveries, instead of adaptations), but also the evidence/lack of evidence and the two different perspectives? One the one hand Milton thinks of the 1938 discovery as the first, only and isolated incident and thus is "serendipitous" and on the other, it's just that the many discoveries before weren't "selected" and Milton just didn't know about them (or omitted them).
2. Lucy. Another of Milton's glaring omissions is his description of the discovery of the hominid known as Lucy, a fossil hominid of the species Australopithicus Afarensis. Here's what he has to say about her (see Creation, Down from the Trees, page 207):
"Lucy's apelike character was also forgotten about when she was restored to lifelike appearance for display in the Natural History Museums of London and New York and elsewhere. From her glass case Lucy peers with an intelligent gaze at visitors, her posture fully erect and humanlike, he hands and feet also short and humanlike.
"This restoration must have come as something of a surprise to anatomists Jack Stern and Randall Susman of the State University of New York who, in their 1983 study published in the American journal of Physical Anthropology, described the anatomy of Lucy's species Australopithicus Afarensis. They described Lucy's hands and feet as being long and curved, typical of a tree-dwelling ape. Indeed, their paper shows that both the finger and toe bones of Lucy's species are highly curved even when compared to those of a modern ape like a chimpanzee. Just why Lucy should have been restored to have humanlike hands and feet, contrary to the known anatomical facts, remains a mystery which only her restorers can explain."
Milton is using this example to back up his point that no intermediary species of human have been found in the fossil record, only ape-like creatures and modern humans. It's one of his "gaps" that he mentions throughout the book. Here's the thing - one of the most sensational things about the Lucy find was that she had an almost completely intact pelvis. And that pelvis tells us, without a doubt, that she and her species had an upright gait. She may have also had tree dwelling features such as long and curved hands and feet, but she also walked upright. Not walked upright sometimes and rather awkwardly, as chimpanzees sometimes do, she was adapted to walking upright. See this description here for more detail: [...]
"Considerable debate surrounds the locomotor behaviour of A. afarensis. Some studies suggest that A. afarensis was almost exclusively bipedal, while others propose that the creatures were partly arboreal. The anatomy of the hands, feet and shoulder joints in many ways favour the latter interpretation. In particular the morphology of scapula appears to be ape-like and very different from modern humans.The curvature of the finger and toe bones (phalanges) approaches that of modern-day apes, and is suggestive of their ability to efficiently grasp branches and climb. Alternatively, the loss of an abductable great toe and therefore the ability to grasp with the foot (a feature of all other primates) suggests A. afarensis was no longer adapted to climbing.
A number of traits in the A. afarensis skeleton strongly reflect bipedalism, to the extent some researchers have suggested bipedality evolved long before A. afarensis. In overall anatomy, the pelvis is far more human-like than ape-like. The iliac blades are short and wide, the sacrum is wide and positioned directly behind the hip joint, and evidence of a strong attachment for the knee extensors is clear. While the pelvis is not wholly human-like (being markedly wide, or flared, with laterally orientated iliac blades), these features point to a structure that can be considered radically remodeled to accommodate a significant degree of bipedalism in the animals' locomotor repertoire.
Importantly, the femur also angles in toward the knee from the hip. This trait would have allowed the foot to have fallen closer to the midline of the body, and is a strong indication of habitual bipedal locomotion."
Here then is another example of a transitional adaptation existing quite clearly in the fossil record. It seems that the upright gait (and therefore accompanying pelvic, spinal and hip adaptations) evolved before the shorter hands and feet we see in later and modern humans. Well look at that - a gradual evolutionary change that didn't require "perfection" to exist. My question is, why does Milton not mention this? Perhaps its "a mystery only he can explain".
I am not saying that questionable efforts haven't been made to over "anthropise" and overplay discoveries, in order to support evolution. I'm not saying mistakes haven't been made, but most of the ones Milton highlights and makes a great show of lambasting are really quite old. Also, just because mistakes were made, doesn't disprove anything. It's like me saying that Milton makes a spelling error on page 257 so the rest of his book must be wrong. Things have moved on quite a bit since then - this is a nice image I found showing a more current example of the human family tree so far, told through examples of skull finds: [...]
In these two examples - the coelacanth and Lucy - we see Milton omitting important facts concerning the examples that he is using to "disprove" Darwinism On the contrary, they are in fact two of the strongest examples for Darwinian evolution. Whether he omits them deliberately or accidentally is uncertain. If the former, then he is displaying his hidden agenda. If the latter, then he is displaying his ignorance. In neither case is he "disproving" any theory and it casts doubt on the validity of any other argument he makes in his book.