Misconception: “Evolution is not science because it is not observable or testable.”

Response: Evolution is observable and testable. The misconception here is that science is limited to controlled experiments that are conducted in laboratories by people in white lab coats. Actually, much of science is accomplished by gathering evidence from the real world and inferring how things work. Astronomers cannot hold stars in their hands and geologists cannot go back in time, but in both cases scientists can learn a great deal by using multiple lines of evidence to make valid and useful inferences about their objects of study. The same is true of the study of the evolutionary history of life on Earth, and as a matter of fact, many mechanisms of evolution are studied through direct experimentation as in more familiar sciences.

Fossils such as Archaeopteryx give us snapshots of organisms as they adapt and change over time.
Studying modern organisms such as elephant seals can reveal specific examples of evolutionary history and bolster concepts of evolution.
Artificial selection among guppies can demonstrate microevolution in the laboratory.
Laboratory experimentation with fruit flies demonstrates the power of genetic mutation.

 

Archaeopteryx and elephant seal photos courtesy of Dave Smith, UCMP
• Guppy photos courtesy of Cara Gibson and Katie McGhee
• Fruit fly image courtesy of Jean-Michel Muratet, Syndicat National des Ophtalmologistes de France (SNOF)





















Visit the PBS Evolution Web site to learn about John Endler’s research on wild guppies, a great example of direct experimentation.
Follow this link to learn more about lines of evidence for evolution.
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Misconception:
Biologists Have Rejected "Darwinism"


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