Last modified on March 16, 2008, at 12:18

Talk:Natural selection

Return to "Natural selection" page.

Changes to article

Apologies, forgot to add the reason for change!

Adding more detail about the mechanisms of natural selection and known examples.

Industrial melanism dispute

Cut entire contents of section:

  • In England during the industrial revolution pollution killed mosses and lichens on tree trunks, turning them from light colours to dark brown. Before this occurred most specimens of the peppered moth Biston betularia had white wings with black spots - giving a peppered appearance. During the period with dark tree trunks (1849 to circa 1970) the white version of betularia was easily predated on by birds, decreasing the frequency of the white-wing allele. Individuals with dark wings caused by high concentrations of melanin became much more frequent and the allele frequency for melanic moths increased. When pollution levels were reduced in the late 1960s the trees gained more moss and lichens, making the trunks lighter and predation selected against melanic forms of the peppered moth. It is now thought that the proportions of white to melanic moths in England have now returned to pree-1849 levels.

Jonathan Wells points out the mistakes in this. For one thing, photos of moths resting on tree trunks had to be staged, because photographers couldn't find any moths doing this: they actually rest on the undersides of leaves. --Ed Poor 20:50, 23 March 2007 (EDT) " Even advocates of using the peppered moth story to support natural selection admit that it isn't supported by the science:

  • there are differences between the explanations given in popularizations and introductory textbooks, which are intended for children and the lay public, and what is actually known about the phenomenon as it is discussed in journal articles intended for scientists. (Panda's Thumb)

Wells wrote:

  • Kettlewell's experiments supposedly demonstrated that cryptic coloration and selective bird predation are the principle causes of industrial melanism were discredited by (a) findings in the 1960's and 1970's that other factors (such as migration and non-visual selection) had to be invoked to account for observed geographical distributions, (b) reports that the rise and fall of melanism were not correlated with lichen cover on tree trunks in the U.S. or many parts of the U.K., (c) research in the 1980's showing that peppered moths in the wild do not normally rest on tree trunks (where Kettlewell conducted his experiments), and (d) revelations that all photographs of peppered moths on tree trunks have been staged, either by manually positioning live moths or by pinning or gluing dead ones. [1]

Now, how do we write about all this in the article? --Ed Poor 21:00, 23 March 2007 (EDT)

Spelling Changes

I fail to see why it was necessary to go through and change all the spellings from one form of English to another, English can be understood as long as the spellings are correct, which they were. Please could someone explain to me the significance of this? --Tomt 11:57, 25 March 2007 (EDT)

I changed "colours" to "colors", as only the latter is considered correct in American English. American English is the most popular language in the world. British spellings give the article an archaic flavor. RSchlafly 13:33, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I would be interested to see some statistics to back up the claim that American English is the most popular language in the world.MatteeNeutra 13:41, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I just did some simple web searches with Google and Yahoo, and I found 3 to 4 times as many pages with the American spellings. RSchlafly 14:13, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
So you did a search using American search engines for random words and you are now citing that as evidence that American English is the most popular language in the world?MatteeNeutra 17:32, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I am, quite frankly, a little insulted that you find my language archaic. It is correct English, whether or not it is American or British and does not impede understanding. Also, please provide some actual evidence for the prevalence of American English, as I have been unable to find any in 15 minutes of searching the internet. What happens to your statistics iif you searched on the German Google? Would you argue that Conservapedia should be in German? I think not. --TomT 14:47, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I am not trying to offend the British or the Germans. I am just trying to use language that will be commonly understood. Maybe there will be versions of Conservapedia in other languages some day, I don't know. In the meantime, American English is preferred. RSchlafly 17:27, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I apologise if I suggested you insulted the Germans, I was merely using it as an example. There is nowhere that I can find on this website that tells us that American English is preferred. Your opinion is especially contradicted by the point that informs us that "We have decided to remove Conservapedia Commandment 5. (American Spellings must be used)", quoted from the Conservapedia talk page. --TomT 17:45, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
Thanks for pointing out that change. Two sentences later, it says, "However we would like Conservapedia to be as consistant as possible so we will continue to include american spellings as a style guideline." Hmmm. I prefer the spelling consistent. RSchlafly 19:07, 25 March 2007 (EDT)

Nested Categories?

Why has this article on the science biology been removed from the science and biology categories???

Category:Genetics is itself a member of Category:Biology, which is a member of Category:Science. Listing all three is redundant, and makes the higher categories rather unwieldly. Tsumetai 09:18, 5 April 2007 (EDT)
How is listing all three redundant? And what do you mean by unwieldy? Surely each category should contain a list of all the articles it contains?


Cut from intro:

This selection process is in response to forces in the natural world, as opposed to artificial selection, whereby selection is made by a human being, such as a farmer selecting his breeding stock or variety of plant.

How is it a "response"? Do the animals sit down for a meeting and then vote on it?

And isn't it the biggest bone of contention, whether this principle does any selecting, just like an Actual Breeder? --Ed Poor 10:37, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

Basically it just comes down to this, if you able to survive under the current conditions you will live, if you're not, you'll die. You don't have to be perfectly suited to your environment, you only have to survive even if it's through luck.

Eventually though, a life form that's better suited to its environment has a greater chance of survival, so does its offspring, and the traits that make them different from the ones who have a smaller chance of survival will become more common within the population: then we would say nature has "selected" those traits and thus the life forms carrying them.

The genetic mutations that cause traits to change are random and sometimes don't happen fast enough to ensure the survival of at least some members of the population when the environment changes, but on the long run the system works. In fact natural selection shapes everything, from birds to planets to entire galaxies.

Middle Man

Just to add for Ed's sake, sexual selection is a major principle behind this.--TimS 10:29, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

Ed, a phenotype is the displayed traits of a genome. The difference between a genotype and phenotype is that genotypes are everything your genome codes for while your phenotype is everything that is expressed.--TimS 22:25, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

If we're playing buzzword bingo, you just won - and I lost. :-(
What's a genome, genotype, phenotype ... and what does it mean to "express" any of this? In plain English without all the mumbo-jumbo (as Jack said to the angel in "Family Man"). --Ed Poor 22:30, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
Phenotype examples: Brown hair, blue eyes, wrinkly skin on a pea, type B blood. Something that is observable.
Genotype examples: Brown hair gene, blond hair gene. Two blue eye genes. two wrinkly skin on pea genes. The genes for type B blood and type O blood.
That help somewhat? --Mtur 22:32, 8 May 2007 (EDT)


Hi Ed, could you just clarify what work you need doing to this article so that I can improve it please? I'll be happy to oblige if you provide a list of the things that need changing. --TomT 14:37, 2 June 2007 (EDT)

I believe I've clarified the role of natural selection in evolution. Let me know if you have any comments.--Elevens 12:12, 5 July 2007 (EDT)

Importance of the Phenotype and Genotype in this article

Just to note, Natural Selection is based off phenotype instead of the genotype. This is important in reguards to the mutation questions since a somatic mutation would not contribute a phenotype change that could be passed to offspring whereas a build up of germinal mutations would. We should also include that all phenotypical changes must be compared to the current selective pressures to determine their fitness, this is needed due to the on going change of selective pressures.--TimS 16:45, 5 September 2007 (EDT)

Natural selection vs Evolution

Your addition may be confounding to the layman. Would you elaborate on the difference between the two, and why creationists accept the former but not the latter. Cheers, Leopeo 08:45, 10 November 2007 (EST)

Thanks for the suggestion. I've added Natural selection and evolution. How's that? Philip J. Rayment 23:08, 10 November 2007 (EST)

"Disregard my last summary"

Ed, you said in your latest edit summary for this article, "Oops! "creationists accept that natural selection is a real, observed, process." so disregard my last summary". As that edit summary was the justification for the move, does that mean that it should be moved back?

It should be moved back. I believe that I would be right in saying that there is no theory of natural selection. That it, it is an observation, not a theory. A theory is used to explain something that we observe, such as the theory of gravity. Even if someone questions the theory of gravity, that doesn't mean that gravity itself is in dispute.

That 40% of Americans reject it would be due to evolutionists equating natural selection with evolution. Those 40% would be the ones that (a) reject evolution, and (b) believe that the evolutionists are correct in equating natural selection with evolution. I've never heard of anyone realising that natural selection is not the same as evolution and yet rejecting it.

Philip J. Rayment 08:51, 15 March 2008 (EDT)

I don't object to your moving it back, I was just thinking that "theory" is a good word for any idea that explains something, while "observation" generally refers to a things that we notice.
In ecology, we notice that populations of animals and plants tend to change; that is an observation. The theory is that a type of organism will tend to increase its population wherever it finds a suitable environment, limited only by such factors as food and predators.
I prefer to make as strong a distinction as possible between the observed facts and the theories that explain them. It is liberals and other dishonest parties who want to blur this distinction altogether. The Darwinist motto is, "Evolution is a fact". How do they get away with that? --Ed Poor Talk 17:14, 15 March 2008 (EDT)
That's my point: Natural selection is something that we notice. We notice that unfit individuals are selected out, and we notice that populations change when they come under selection pressure. Edward Blyth noticed, and described, natural selection before Darwin (Darwin probably got the idea from him; Darwin had a copy of Blyth's book). Of course the phenomenon of natural selection is used (in part) to explain evolution, but natural selection itself is an observation. Philip J. Rayment 18:57, 15 March 2008 (EDT)
As I said, I have no strong feeling one way or another. --Ed Poor Talk 19:05, 15 March 2008 (EDT)
I've moved it back. Philip J. Rayment 08:18, 16 March 2008 (EDT)