I don't know who Wells is. My information comes from Hooper's book. My recollections from it, very possibly spotty after all this time but I think I have the broad details correct, is that we don't know where peppered moths rest, but that it isn't on tree trunks.
If they *did* rest on tree trunks, then the fact that some nature photographers took the shortcut of fastening a moth to a tree trunk seems harmless. It would be like throwing a worm to a robin that yields a picture with a caption saying that robins hunt worms. We know robins hunt worms, one can see it everyday, and the staged photograph is just for illustration. If peppered moths really rested on tree trunks, then what would be the harm for purposes of illustration?
But apparently, as a general sort of thing, they don't rest on tree trunks. I guess we could consider this the key point of difference. DBlevins provided this link:
The moths have been seen resting on tree trunks, in the wild, under natural conditions.
And Hooper says not so. Next time I'm in the library I'll check Hooper's book and see if she was aware of Majerus' work, and if so, whether she had any legitimate objections. It seems to me that if peppered moths *do* rest on tree trunks that much of the Creationist challenge is answered.
After decades of moth-watching, Majerus is convinced that Kettlewell was right and that bird predation is the primary agent of natural selection on the peppered moth. "But that can never be enough," he says, "because I'm also a scientist. ... We're miles beyond reasonable doubt, but it's not scientific proof."
Majerus's experiment is designed to avoid the mistakes Kettlewell made when comparing the proportion of typical and melanic peppered moths that escape the attention of predatory birds. He's releasing a small number of moths, at night, and letting them choose their own hiding places within specially designed mesh sleeves, which he removes at dawn. Like Kettlewell, he's using a mixture of lab-reared and wild-caught moths, but his design allows him to test for potential differences between the two. Majerus is determined to get "a definite answer" on the bird predation issue.
Although Majerus expects to confirm Kettlewell's conclusions, he claims not to care which way the results go: Any findings, he thinks, would make a splash by settling the controversy. But peppered moth expert and evolutionary geneticist Bruce Grant of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, doubts that Majerus will silence the critics. "To do the job the right way is going to be too labor-intensive and it's just not worth it. ... Right now, I think there are other things that need doing more."
Though Majerus is narrowing in on the issue, even he doesn't think we've got the final answer yet.
What interests me most isn't peppered moths, melanism and bird predation, but presenting an example of natural selection in the wild that doesn't have obvious weaknesses.
The author of the relevant Darwin Quote Mine Project article (the one DS linked to and I quoted at the beginning of the thread), John Pieret, was kind enough to email me a tiff file of the actual letter in question; along with a typed-up transcript. (Much love to Mr. Pieret.)
I'm gonna post all that on the site later this week; my DSL comes in this week and then I actually download the huge tiff file and host it. So stay tuned. Of course, there's not much point if we've chased DS off...
This topic was VERY specificly created to be about the Darwin quotation:
quote:"I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science." as quoted in *N.C. Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation (1979), p. 2 [University of Chicago book].
The topic has drifted all over the place, including an excellent but badly misplaced discussion of the Peppered Moth.
Closing the topic (for the second time).
This message has been edited by Adminnemooseus, 09-14-2004 06:11 PM