Saturday, 30 September 2006
Don't Download This Song
"Weird Al" Yankovic has been a consistent commentator on pop culture for over two decades. He struck gold with a song from his new album, Straight Outta Lynwood, called "Don't Download This Song", which he has released as an electronic postcard video. Also, I just learned that Al is on MySpace.
Today I discovered a fellow from the radical right-wing named Mike Janitch, who writes a blog. His post "Evolution.. add 20 million years here, lose 20 million years there.." caught my attention. In it, he describes a news article as the latest in a long series of gaping holes in the theory of evolution.
The article reports the discovery of the oldest known lung fish fossil. At 410 million years old, it is 20 million years older than the previously oldest known fossil of its kind. The lede states that the "new" fossil "may mean living creatures left the world's oceans for the land much earlier than once thought, rewriting a small part of mankind's evolution." Janitch heralds this as a major blow to evolution.
If only Janitch had read the entire article.... Seven paragraphs must have been pretty burdensome. The rest of the article shows that the lede is misleading.
Experimental data with living coelacanths suggested a divergence of lineages around 410 million years ago. The fact that we had fossil evidence dating back only 390 million years represented a 20-million-year gap in the fossil record. This discovery bridges that gap. The fossil evidence now matches the DNA evidence. Two separate and totally independent lines of evidence — compiled by totally independent groups of scientists — point to exactly the same thing. That thing is evolution.
Used to be, a gap in the fossil record was evidence for creationism or intelligent design, or at least an indication that evolution may not be accurate. Since that argument didn't work, Mr. Janitch apparently now claims that filling in those gaps makes evolution inaccurate.
The theory of evolution predicted the existence of a fossil that had not yet been found. The fossil has now been found exactly where it was predicted to be. Nothing else makes a scientific theory stronger.
Update (25 Nov. 2006): I got emails from Mr. Janich and responded in this blog.
I announced a few months ago that Phuong and I are engaged, and we have finally set a date for the wedding: 21 April 2007. So stop bugging me!