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An Experiment to Test the “Watchmaker” Objection To Evolution

“The origin of adaptations…is one of the deepest problems in Darwinism.  How do novel adaptations arise from small and gradual beginnings?

There is a genus of finches with mandibles that cross over at the tips…called crossbills… The twisted beak allows the bird to pry open closed (pine) cones.
What Benkman and Lindholm did was to uncross the beaks of these birds by trimming the crossed part of the mandibles with an ordinary nail clippers.
The birds with uncrossed bills turned out to be just as good as ever at extracting seeds from dry, open pinecones.  Byt they could no longer handle closed cones.
Day by day, as the twist in their beaks grew back, the birds did better and better with more and more recalcitrant cones.  After a month, their beaks were completely regrown.
Benkman and Lindholm could measure the value of an adaptation from its very beginnings to its final form.
If crossed mandibles were useful to these birds only when fully formed, then it really would be a puzzle how they could have arisen by natural selection.  The cross would have to appear all at once.
It would be the kind of problem before which Darwin felt his theory would “absolutely break down.”

But the finches began to get better at opening pinecones when the cross in their beaks was still too small to be visible to the eye.  Even a slight crossing of the mandibles confers a small, incremental benefit, making more and more tightly closed cones accessible….
The press of competition in the woods would have made the novelty of a crossed beak more and more desirable, because it would allow its possessor to eat food n one else could eat; the same competitive pressure would favor each new twist…
Today, however, theere is no profit to a sparrow or bunting in a deformed, twisted bill, because the crossbill niche is taken.”

-The Beak of the Finch
Jonathan Weiner, 1994
Excerpts from pages 180-184, emphasis mine

My Commentary: As convincing as these experimental results are, I still wonder about species such as the Emerald Jewel wasp that rely on precision brain surgery on the host of their larvae to successfully reproduce.

I wonder what would happen if you did the Solomon Asch Conformity & Obedience Experiment With North East Asians?

Current literature has the ability to create consensus and eliminate dissent down to a science, but I wonder what would happen if you took into account North East Asian biology and social structure? Where is the tipping point into consensus with asians? Are they more likely to form no-go zones so that they appear to create consensus? I’ve noted psychology studies on young children aged 5-8, and talked to daycare workers, it’s generally agreed that asian children are quieter and easier to deal with from a young age. If there is a flexing point for conformist behavior, 5-25%, then that’s still a lot of room for variation in behavior.

http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/social/asch_conformity.html 

Real subject leans forward to get a better view of the lines being displayed.
This particular individual insisted that “he has to call them as he sees them”
and disagreed with the consensus over each of ‘staged’ trials. 


The subjects’ responses varied with the level of ‘majority opinion’ they were faced with.

He found that the subjects conformed to a group of 3 or 4 as readily as they did to a larger group. However, the subjects conformed much less if they had an “ally” In some of his experiments, Asch instructed one of the confederates to give correct answers. In the presence of this nonconformist, the real subjects conformed only one fourth as much as they did in the original experiment.

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