26 August 2010

BBC Science hack is daft as a rock - oh my golly golly gosh!

Seriously, I expect more from the BBC than this. I'm a taxpayer and a licence payer. I'm a doctor and I want my sausages. But Howard Falcon-Lang, a science reporter for the BBC, has reported a piece entitled: Space is the final frontier for evolution, study claims. He kicks off with this rather incendiary statement:
"Charles Darwin may have been wrong when he argued that competition was the major driving force of evolution.

He imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived."

So I'm only two sentences into the article, and the only thing I can deduce is that Howard Falcon-Lang has not got the slightest clue about Darwin, and not the foggiest notion about evolutionary theory.

Essentially, the article is about a paper that has found that one of the most significant factors determining the amount of biodiversity that arises in an ecosystem is the actual amount of room (or opportunity) for the species to evolve into - effectively, the number of available niches. This is not controversial, but the paper is a nice demonstration of how species can radiate out to fill several niches that suddenly become available, whether by the extinction of big old critters like dinosaurs, or by colonising virgin territory. It's nice work, and a good demonstration of the power of evolution.

Indeed, it shows that Darwin was right.

But we knew that.

Someone should tell Howard.

Unless Howard is not responsible for those initial sentences, which were instead introduced by a sub-editor? In which case he should find that sub-editor and rip them a new one.

Otherwise the article is fine. There.

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