The Myth of the Evolutionary Ladder

Hello there free-thinkers,

Today I am going to be blogging about the so-called evolutionary ladder, and the myths which surround it. The evolutionary ladder is an image which appears in most high-school textbooks, supposedly showing how biological life evolves into the top of the line humans which are around today, and that all other animals are below us. It often looks something like this:-

Early biology often surrounded this concept of humans as the peak of the animal kingdom

It starts with the lowest-of-the-low, the plants, because they are dumb and don’t have a brain. Then the jellyfish, because they are the combination of a lot of smaller animals, and they have a sense of being alive. Next comes the insects, because they are small and aren’t smart. Onto fish, they are bigger than insects, so they take a higher position. Reptiles next, because at least they live on land, that makes them better than all the other animals so far. Birds come next, because they are war-blooded, just like humans. Mammals come next, because they are the last step before becoming the best organism ever, the human.

This is a very arrogant way to think about the world around you, and it is also factually false, for a few reasons.

This ladder does not show a path of evolutionary change, the world did not start out with only plants, and then evolve up the ladder, it is best to describe evolution as a tree, with all of these animals, the ones around us at the moment, as the leaves of this tree.

It is also untrue that humans are the best when it comes to evolution. All of these animals are around today because they are good at evolution. If this ladder were true, we would expect to see a lot less trees than we do humans, but we don’t, there are a whole lot more trees and plants on this planet than there are humans. All of the organisms alive today are the best at what they do, that’s why they thrive.

It is very arrogant to assume that humans are the best evolutionary creatures on this planet, and it is probably true that humans are actually very bad from an evolution standpoint. It was Charles Darwin himself who once stated, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”, and this quote is true. The fittest organism is not the strongest or the fastest animal, it is the animal which is best able to adapt to its environment. If this is true, then bacteria should take the top of the ladder, and humans right down the bottom. Humans are very slow in their evolution because we have a very slow reproduction rate, meaning that they cannot adapt very quickly, meaning that they are not fit. However, most bacteria can reproduce at a rate of knots, meaning that they are very fit. Humans are not really very good from an evolution viewpoint, which is why the evolutionary ladder should be either turned upside down, or morph into a branching tree, with each of today’s organism perched at the top of the tree.

That’s all for today, I’ll leave you with a quote from Steven Novella, “Evolution is a messy branching bush, and we’re just finding more and more twigs all over the place”, Steven Novella, A neurologist and skeptic of some note.


Is evolution falsifiable?

Hello there,

A common question brought up about evolution, and also a common criticism of evolution, is “Is evolution falsifiable?” In today’s post I will attempt to answer this question with a few examples of how evolution can be falsified, keeping in mind that there are so many more possible ways to disprove evolution that I will not blog about, but may sometime in the future.

I will also first say that this question shows the ignorance that most creationists have of evolution, they want to be able to have one fowl swoop which will disprove the theory, and also one piece of evidence which proves their theory. This is quite impossible because evolution is such a grand theory with so many lines of evidence pointing towards it, that pointing to one fossil or one gene and saying “There, that disproves evolution!” is just not going to be done.

It is also true that the window for disproof of evolution has fully passed, about 150 years ago is when these falsifications were needed, because now we have all this time under our belts of proof of evolution, everything we find pointing to evolution, that any ‘disproof’ of evolution would be disregarded, because of all of the evidence which says that evolution happened. When evolution was first being tested 150 years ago, there were millions of times where evolution could have been disproved, but it wasn’t.

Another and most common possible falsification for evolution is finding the fossil of a species in a strata very different to where it should be, the classic example is ‘horses in the Cambrian.’ and this would raise some serious doubts about evolution. But this fossil would have to be checked for fraud and hoaxing many times over before it would be believed, because Occam’s razor does come in to play.

The biggest disproof of common descent would also be to find a species where you cannot trace its ancestry back up the evolutionary tree back to its roots, a species which does not fit into the grand scheme of evolution, but looks like it comes from its own little side tree of evolution. If one day, on an expedition through uncharted parts of the amazon, we find some animals which do not look anything like any of the species we currently have today, thatmight puncture a hole in the evolutionary theory.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin, an English naturalist of some note.