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   Industrial Melanism

For decades, industrial melanism of the peppered moth has been widely used as an example of the Neo-Darwinian Theory (NDT), according to which all organisms on Earth are descended from a single organism by means of processes which involved natural selection acting on the results of spontaneous, random, heritable mutations. However, according to Lee Spetner ("Not by Chance", Judaica Press, 1998, pp. 67, 177), there is no evidence that random mutations have played any role in industrial melanism, and Jonathan Wells ("Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth?", Regnery Publishing, 2000, chapter 7) claims that recent research has shown that, in the wild, peppered moths rarely rest on tree trunks. There is, therefore, doubt about whether the NDT can explain industrial melanism.

Moreover, during the period (about the last 150 years) during which the peppered moth has been studied, both morphs (typica & carbonaria) have existed, so no evolution has been observed in these studies.

On this topic, the following articles were published in 1999:

A. Jonathan Wells, "Local book battle concerns academic liberty", Detroit News, March 14, 1999;

B. Kim Johnson & Dave Thomas, "Melvindale Book Flap", NMSR Reports, 5, no.4, April 1999;

C. Jonathan Wells,  "Jonathan Wells Replies to April NMSR Reports", NMSR Reports, 5, no.6, June 1999;

D. Dave Thomas and Kim Johnson, "Dave Thomas, Kim Johnson Reply", ibid.

E. Jonathan Wells, "Second Thoughts about Peppered Moths", ARN Reports, April 6, 1999;

I have selected and compared the protagonists' statements on one and only one crucial topic, namely,

Q: Do peppered moths, in the wild, often settle on tree trunks?

 Under the heading First statements, I have collected all the factual statements that I could find in the above 1999 articles that are relevant to Q. I then submitted these collections to Drs Thomas and Wells, who kindly replied. I have presented the factual statements from their replies under the heading First replies. I then added Wells' further comments under the heading Second Replies.

Dave Thomas is listed as the webmaster for the site where items B, C, and D above appeared. In August, 2001, this site added a statement on the Peppered Moth topic by Ian Francis Musgrave who, in disagreeing with Wells, makes claims that are at variance with Wells' referenced statements included here; Dr Musgrave deals only with Wells' book and does not consider Spetner's criticism listed above. No email address or home page address is given for Dr Musgrave. I asked Dave Thomas to forward to Dr Musgrave my request for references supporting his claims.

 Dr Musgrave's reply is reproduced here on a separate page: Dr Musgrave's reply. Dave Thomas suggests using this page in lieu of his Second Reply, because it contains several points that he would have included. I am happy to do this. I have forwarded a copy of Dr Musgrave's comments to Dr Wells (on February 16, 2002), who has replied. Dr Musgrave has since replied to this reply. On May 1, 2002, Dr Wells replied to this reply.