Monday, November 11, 2013

Mechanisms of Evolution – Philipp Dettmer (2013)

This is a video that's specifically designed to teach the mechanisms (plural) of evolution. It's produced by Philipp Dettmer who, as near as I can tell, is an expert on video presentations but not on evolution. A perfect example of style trumping substance.

How many errors can you spot?




18 comments :

  1. Right off, bad definition (or non-definition): "Evolution is the development of life on Earth"!
    About 0:30, evolution has already been limited to metazoans, starting from "a primitive protozoan". At 1:30 we find that clonal organisms don't exist, since every individual is unique. (But that's OK, since asexual species don't exist either.) Around 2:30 we find that DNA consists of genes, and genes control development; junk DNA doesn't exist and neither does regulatory DNA. Around 4:00, a somewhat garbled account of recombination. At 5:00 we get a claim that mutations are caused by toxins or radiation.

    Around 8:00 there's an appalling discussion of Darwin's finches. Did you know that he discovered them? And that the group is only a few hundred years old? It also appears from the animation that Galapagos mockingbirds are finches too. I was very surprised to discover that there are earthworms in the Galapagos. And apparently, sympatric speciation through disruptive selection and some kind of assortative mating is the dominant mode in metazoans.

    There are more, but I suppose your favorite is that evolution is equated with selection, with no mention whatsoever of drift (though the word "neutral" does appear once).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm by no means an expert, but already at 1 minute and 50 seconds in I was close to 10 errors...

    So many gruesome errors (all individuals are unique and this is REQUIRED for evolution, for example)

    There was so much gibberish even in the use of terminology I just stopped counting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently nature also "wants" certain things, such as "as many little differences as possible".

      Delete
    2. Meiosis in a nutshell (4:10): "The gametes take half of the genes and shuffle them." The creatures have to fall in love first.

      Delete
  3. Evolution never created diversity and complexity in nature. First error.
    Blue eyes are not a mutation or maintained by selection. tHey are the result of a general pigmentation event after migration to Europe.
    It is not competition that makes diversity in kinds but great wealth. Finches simply diversify because of wealthy opportunities. Poverty never created diversity in biology but only eliminated.
    The whole show was based on shuffling fantastic complexity already here and not explaining the origin of complexity in nature.
    dog breeds ain't examples of evolution. just examples of variety already in bodies without need of mutations.
    Teaching evolution is difficult because its not founded in evidence but in speculation and so no one gets the speculations in cohesion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. care to expand upon mechanisms underlying your Theory of General Pigmentation Events? Or maybe The General Theory of Pigmentation Events has a more august ring to it.

      Delete
  4. Just about every line is wrong. I was starting to write them down, then got behind -- I could not itemize the errors fast enough!

    ReplyDelete
  5. He's mainly a graphic designer. I think that his efforts should be encouraged, but corrected. Short videos like this are an awesome way of communicating science to non-specialists. The only caveat is that artists should consult scientists before and during the production process.

    What do you think of these, Larry?
    What is Evolution?
    What is Natural Selection?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first video is one of the few good videos out there. It an "awesome way of communicating science to non-specialists." Unfortunately, the vast majority of such videos are counter-productive.

      What Exactly Is Evolution? Stated Clearly Gets It Mostly Right

      We should not "encourage" amateurs to make videos about concepts they don't understand. There's already enough garbage on YouTube.

      Delete
    2. The video on natural selection is pretty good but not "excellent." I would give it a B+.

      Delete
    3. We should not "encourage" amateurs to make videos about concepts they don't understand.

      Well, if the scientific content itself is reviewed by scientists and specialists in the subject matter, I think this could be very much improved. If you look at the SixtySymbols channel (mainly about physics) or the PeriodicVideos channel (mainly about chemistry), for instance, they are really great on presentation and content at the same time. Most of the people who appear in those videos are scientists with relevant background.

      I haven't seen anything equivalent for biology or evolution as of yet, but it could be done.

      Delete
    4. This John Perry fellow has very ambitious plans for the future:

      http://www.statedclearly.com/our-videos-2/

      Lots of interesting topics there. He's certainly a talented populariser, and he knows how to explain things in plain English without oversimplifying the message or treating his audience like a bunch of educationally challenged kids. For example, his discussion of "What exactly is a gene" is admirably clear, concise, and correct (some handbooks do much worse). He also publishes the scripts of his videos. If he lives up to his ambitions, I can only keep my fingers crossed for him. Sadly, there's no mention of nearly neutral evolution, junk DNA, etc. (to point out the most obvious omissions), and the only kind of drift he's going to cover (so far, at any rate) is continental drift. But I'm sure he would appreciate and use any advice from experts. He takes care to collect and discuss feedback from his viewers rather than just deliver his sermon and move on.

      Delete
    5. His video on "What exactly is a gene?" states unequivocally that "genes make proteins." This is incorrect. There are tRNA genes and genes for ribosomal RNAs to name just a few.

      I prefer my definition: What Is a Gene?.

      Delete
    6. The problem with "What is DNA and how does it work?" is that it starts off by showing an incorrect structure of DNA. There's no attempt to explain or describe the chemical structure of DNA. Then, the only part of "how does it work" is that it makes proteins.

      Delete
    7. This is incorrect. There are tRNA genes and genes for ribosomal RNAs to name just a few.

      True. That's why such people need feedback from actual specialists. Jon, at least, seems to be eager to accept criticism and correction, so why not leave a few comments at his website?

      Delete
  6. And there is of course the inevitable left-handed DNA at 1:27 (and throughout).

    ReplyDelete