Arthur S. Lodge | home
First statements | First replies: Thomas | First replies: Wells | Second replies: Wells | Dr Musgrave's reply | Wells' third reply | Dr Musgrave's 2nd Reply | Dr Wells' reply to Dr Musgrave's 2nd Reply | From "Melanism: Evolution in Action" | Melanism via NDT? | Needed: statistical analysis | Summary | "Of Moths and Men" by Judith Hooper | Natural selection: the only mechanism?
Dr Wells' reply to Dr Musgrave's 2nd Reply
In response to Dr. Musgrave's latest response, I have only two points to add to my previous comments:
(1) I recently posted a response to Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller addressing the spurious claim that peppered moths "often" rest on tree trunks. It can be found at:
Here is an excerpt from my response: "How can we determine what percentage of peppered moths rest in exposed
positions where camouflage is likely to affect their survival? Surely not by doing statistics only on those moths found resting where they were sufficiently exposed to be spotted from the ground. That would be a bit like trying to determine what percentage of fish in the sea are visible to predatory birds by doing statistics only on those that can be spotted from a boat.
"Table 6.1 [in Michael Majerus's book, Melanism: Evolution in Action] lists only 47 of the tens of thousands of peppered moths that have been studied in the past few decades. This sample is obviously biased toward moths that were easily spotted by observers on the ground, and biased against moths that were hiding in the canopies. Even if all the moths in Table 6.1 (not just 13% or 26% or 68%) had been found on tree trunks, they would still represent less than 1% of all peppered moths counted during the same period.
"Majerus, of course, does not claim that Table 6.1 represents an unbiased sample. In fact, he concludes from his extensive knowledge of the data that 'peppered moths do not naturally rest in exposed positions on tree trunks.' (p. 121)"
(2) I highly recommend a just-published book on the subject: Judith Hooper's Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale (London: Fourth Estate, 2002, ISBN 1-84115-392-3). Hooper makes it clear that she is "not a creationist," but a science writer who has interviewed the major living players in the peppered moth drama. This is a fascinating and well-researched book -- in the words of author David Sobel "a riotous story of ambition and deceit." Although Hooper did not interview me, and gives me short shrift, she thoroughly documents the fact that "peppered moths do not normally rest on tree trunks." Of Moths and Men should be required reading for anyone interested in this debate.
Jonathan Wells May 1, 2002