Boy, Were They Steamed! »« Caterpillars?

Evolution

The emergence of some feature
Through selection of mutations
Doesn’t happen in one creature,
But across the populations!

Permutations, combinations,
Both additions and omissions,
Lead to phenotype creations
And their rapid acquisitions

Sometimes networks are redundant
And the extras act to buffer—
When mutations are abundant
We don’t always have to suffer!

And environmental factors
May give rise to phenocopy
Where the genes are not the actors
(Yes, it’s all a little sloppy).

So it seems that the initial
View of evolution’s liable
To be somewhat superficial
(Not as much, though, as the bible)

When the pressures of selection
Shape the feature’s distribution,
This determines the direction
Of the change called “evolution”.

PZ writes a very nice post, outlining one of my pet peeves (ok, that’s not his point, but it happens to be a pet peeve of mine), a common misunderstanding about evolution, and (to my thinking) about the broader functional contextualist view, of which Evolution is the most visible example (radical behaviorism is a distant second, but is misunderstood in precisely the same manner that PZ points out for evolution). The misunderstanding is most easily seen in the search for “firsts”–the first human, the first cuttlefish, the first anything. Tony the Fish. Gakky Two-Feet. The firsts. There were no firsts. There were populations.

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