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Major Misconceptions About Evolution That are Sure to Shock You

Major Misconceptions about Evolution
Ever since he was conscious, man learned about himself and his surroundings. And ever since Charles Darwin published 'On The Origin of Species', there existed people that understood, those that could not comprehend the magnitude of the book, and those that simply ignored it, calling it blasphemous. We delve into some of the most common misconceptions that keep running around.
Arun Prabhu
Last Updated: Jul 28, 2017
The book was Charles Darwin's attempt to put forth his studies and views in the simplest of literature for the world to understand. Apparently it wasn't enough. There are too many misconceptions based on the teachings of evolution as a derivative of natural selection, to be mentioned at one go. I write on the most popular (or infamous) points that people, to date, have put up against 'evolution'.
Charles darwin
Mistaken Thoughts about Evolution
"Evolution Talks about the Origin of Life"
Darwinian theories are solely concerned with the development of things after the original diversification.
The most common misconception, I found, stems from the belief that all life originated from one singular source. This, they think, allows evolution to pinpoint the moment and type of the birth of the first living thing to walk on earth. This is not the case. The book may be named 'On The Origin of Species', and yes one may think that means tracing back to the 'first being' (if there was one, anyway), but actually means the origin of diversity and variations for adaptability. Evolution tells you the story of what happens after the origin of life, about the way life branched and developed to meet natures standards of survival.
On origin of species book
"Evolution Describes Randomized Biological Changes"
It does not profess randomization, only documents it
The point of confusion here is that evolution does imply the presence of a random factor or chance regarding development of living beings. Yes, there are certain genetics that initiate on a random basis, but their development is anything but random. Even though some factors are influenced by chance, the way in which they grow in time to be established as strengths, the way in which the weaker factors are removed, tells us that these processes are calculable and constantly developing. We know that molecules are created from the merging of atoms, not by chance, but by fixed rules of chemistry. This means, there is an eventual adaptation that is a result of random and non-random changes.
"Evolution is Too Slow to Observe"
Depending on the need to evolve and the resources at hand, evolution can be fast too
This depends on some important factors that form the base of the need for evolution, and stems from the belief "seeing is believing". You won't see butterflies popping out of mosquitoes before your very eyes. Neither will you notice or be able to mark the instant when the mosquitoes developed a resistance to a particular pesticide. But that doesn't mean it's not true. Evolution preaches the second case, when some think it gossips about the first. Butterflies from mosquitoes is what evolution tells you won't happen. Another related point is that, if evolution is so slow, man, with his comparatively low life expectancy, can't possibly alter the passage of evolution. On the contrary, man is responsible for most of the changes observed in the world. Case in point, it has been speculated that the fish are adapting into smaller bodies and a better maneuverability to escape the rampant human fishing.
"Humans Evolved From Monkeys"
Both man and modern monkeys may have evolved from the same ancestor, but are still not related
Man, in fact, did not evolve from monkeys. A reason why this can't get backed by hard evidence is the lack of the ancestral fossils of vertebrates (around 0.1%) and an even smaller count out of that belongs to primates. These fossils of beings that closely resemble man (also known as hominids) are too rare to conclude too much. But with whatever we have, we can declare that man is not the direct descendant of the monkey. We are, in ways, similar to modern age apes, but still not related to them. Scientists believe that man and the modern ape shared a same ancestor around 5 to 8 million years ago, after which the tree clearly splits into two, separating man from apes, and yet we might say that man evolved from apes, in the evolutionary branched sort of way. It has been believed that there evolved almost a dozen other living beings that resembled humans, from that early hominid. There are even other extinct hominids that are descendants of the early Homo sapiens. This, again reveals the branching format of evolution.
Human evolution
"All Evolutionary Changes are Positive"
Definitely not. The negative mutations simply do not survive
It's already been stated that evolution contains an element of randomness, that makes some genetic changes unpredictable. Apart from that, what evolution does is remove the negative elements in the gene pool for the being to survive. Evolution has nothing to do with prosperity, unless it affects your survivability in some way. For example, human longevity is not a bad thing, but it doesn't qualify as an absolutely good thing either. Since its neutral, evolution does not touch that part. The fact that man can increase his own lifespan is not evolution's concern. Now, if a shorter life span promoted better reproduction and increased survivability, then evolution would start shortening the life span of humans.
"Humans aren't Evolving Anymore"
Evolution can occur in the smallest of ways, but still visible if you look hard enough
This thought arises as a result of two seeded misconceptions, the one stated above, and the one that involves human interference in the surroundings for increased life spans and comfort. This misconception is two-fold:
  • Human structure is not going to change much after this (after resembling the Cro-Magnon structure).
  • Man's ability to alter the surroundings makes it impossible for evolution to affect us anymore.
Evolution of life
For the first one, we have the explanation of Christopher Wills, who in a 1992 report, said that even if the physical features are the same, there's a lot going on in the background. Cro-Magnon man never had the need to survive through diseases and epidemics, because he hardly had much contact with others. So there was no need for evolution to give him a boost in viral resistances. Today's man, on the other hand, needs every bit of resistance he can get. With the number of humans on board planet earth, an epidemic is just a corner away. Cro-Magnon wouldn't last for very long if we could have him over today.

For the second part of the misconception, it can be set straight that even if no one seems to be growing an extra set of brains or fully functional hands, evolution is still working, changing us to survive today and prepare for tomorrow. Mutant genes still get introduced in some detectable (but maybe not totally visible) way. They still change the body in some way and evolution still keeps deciding on whether the change is good, neutral or bad. Even if we manage to build a space of ultimate comfort and survival no matter what, there will be new problems within this utopia that will affect us in some way or the other, and evolution will step in to help us out.
Whether you like it or not, all things change, and all living things follow the ways of evolution. We see the sunrise today because our genes survived older problems or calamities. For example, if the Ozone hole isn't fixed, the Sun's ultraviolet rays will affect fair people more than it will affect darker-skinned people. This can change us in ways so that children of tomorrow possess the complete gene, or at least the minor mutation to survive.