What are Key Problems with Jonathan Wells' "Survival of the Fakest"?
When one clicks on the link, "What are Key Problems with Darwinian Evolution? Survival of the fakest?" on Mr. Knapp's website (as of 11/12/04), one is confronted with yet another example of creationist propaganda designed to misinform the public. In this case, it is an article by anti-evolutionist Jonathan Wells entitled, "Survival of the Fakest." This article is, in large part, simply a rehash of the inaccuracies presented in Wells' earlier polemic against evolution entitled, "Icons of Evolution." Critiques of "Icons" have been written by a number of mainstream scientists, two of which can be found here and here. The first author, Alan Gishlick, offers the following assessment of Wells' "Icons" in the conclusion to his critique:
In conclusion, the scholarship of Icons is substandard and the conclusions of the book are unsupported. In fact, despite his touted scientific credentials, Wells doesn't produce a single piece of original research to support his position. Instead, Wells parasitizes on other scientists' legitimate work. He could not have written the "Haeckel's embryos" chapter without the work of Richardson et al. (1997, 1998), or the "peppered moths" chapter without Coyne (1998) and Majerus (1998), or the "Archaeopteryx" chapter without Shipman (1998). Even then, Wells's discussions are rife with inaccuracies and out-of-date information. Wells seems to think that scientific theories are supported by certain "keystone" pieces of evidence, removal of which causes the theory to collapse. Paradigms in science work when they provide solutions and further research; their health is not tied to single examples. The paradigm of evolution is not tied to a single piece of evidence.
The author of the second critique, Nic Tamzek, offers the following insight into Wells' proficiency at the art of creationist legerdemain:
Through most of the book, virtually every sentence contains some sort of illegitimate slant, whether quoting a scientist out of context, or leaving out crucial pieces of information, or presenting a nonexpert opinion as an authoritative one, or simply spewing out unsupported exclamations of doubt, derision, and "dogmatic Darwinism!" Icons is an impressive bit of propaganda, and frankly, Jonathan Wells is probably the slickest operator that the antievolution movement has ever produced. His book, packed with quotes and authoritative declarations, mangling topic after topic in rapid succession, is a calculated attempt to overwhelm the reader by sheer diversity of material; even the biologically educated reader is not likely to have the necessary background to spot all of Wells' tricks.
Since even some educated biologists may have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of Wells' chicanery, Mr. Knapp can be forgiven for originally including this link on his website. Assuming that he has read my response, he has now been made aware of serious shortcomings of this article by means of rather detailed critiques by knowledgeable scientists. Therefore, if he is truly interested in conveying reliable information, he would be expected to remove Wells' misleading article from his list of references. (The fact that virtually all the pro-creationism claims made on Mr. Knapp's website have been similarly discredited by mainstream science suggests that the presentation of reliable scientific information is not high on his list of priorities.)