Is it possible to show Darwinism experimentally?

Most sciences predict outcomes: if I throw a stone in the air, I can calculate where it will land, if I build an aircraft, I can predict its range.

And so on.

Can one carry out the following experiment?

In a closed environment. A population of flies, say. I’ll change the conditions (reduce the temperature, increase the humidity, say).

Is it possible to predict the change in the characteristics that will occur after 100, 1000 generations?

If I can, what a beautiful demonstration of Darwinism!

(I suspect that the randomness of evolution makes prediction impossible.)

Instead of looking forward with irrelevant foolishness, you’d be better advised to focus on the last two billion years.

That ought to keep you busy for a while. :smiley:



I am surprised at the tone of your post.

I’ll say it again: unlike other sciences, Darwinism has never, ever been able to predict an outcome. That statement does not diminish evolution - it merely points out a fact.

the problem with making predictions is that the genetic code is really complicated and we dont actually know what the stuff does. all we know is occasionally which genetic disorders correspond to which genetic malfunctions.

in order to predict evolution, we would have to know exactly what kind of random perturbations happen during reproduction or whenever the genetic code changes. as far as i know, we know absolutely zero about what happens when the code changes. in fact, it wouldnt surprise me if we never knew thanks to heisenbergs uncertainty. thats god for ya.

I agree with part of that. But not with the whole.

Charles Darwin knew nothing about genes, and yet he devised an incredibly powerful theory.

I would expect - but I may be wrong in my optimism here - that a colder environment would promote a later population with thicker coats (if we are talking about mice, for example). That reasoning (or expectation) is based not on genetics, but on the knowledge that individuals with thicker coats are more likely to survive, and thus pass on their genes.

I agree about the randomness though. It is probably more likely that the cold will kill all individuals, and that the randomness will never see a mutation that creates thicker hair or coats.

well “thicker hair” could come about in many different ways. there is more than one “hair blueprint gene”. the genes are actually a very complex recipe. the genes could change how much hair chemical is produced, or how big the the hair pore is which will then change how the hair is produced. or it could change the composition of the hair chemical.

darwin could predict that something will change and the things that facilitate reproduction will be the ones that stick. but he cant know which gene or why, and neither will we. i think its something as simple and unknowable as the interference of the zero point field or some kind of radiation that bumps around into the genes as they recombine. if this is so, then we will almost definetely never see natural evolution occur at its basic mechanism.

the fact that we cant see the basic mechanism means that we cant make an accurate prediction of what will change. we can make a prediction of which characteristics will help survival, but not how or when or why it comes about. i can predict the sun will be yellow, and if thats all i can predict, im about as scientific as a caveman.

noel, an experiment could be built, as follows :

take four populations, consisting of the same set of individuals (which would mean we need four clones of each genotype), large enough so aleatory influences are going to be similar, and made of individuals with life cycles that are as short as possible (drosophyla comes to mind)

put them in four identical vats, that only have one difference, in degrees, for example their average temperatures are 27,29,31,33 degrees (temperature is a very bad pick because adaptation to temperature is the most difficult. maybe lighting conditions would be the ideal pick, but thats difficult to quantify on one hand, and make relevant for surivival on the other), feed them the same food, and periodical small doses of gamma radiation

in a few decades (ie 20-30 years) you might have observable results (considering that should mean 6-10k generations)

problem is cloning is something we have gotten only recently, and it would be an absolute needed prerequisite, since if the individuals are different, the fact the offspring is different should surprise no-one.

still its a very difficult experiment, likely expensive, and obviously useless, because, as phaedrus said, it is much cheaper and effective to interpret the data already supplied us by the large vat that is earth rather than start from scratch.


I nearly agree.

20 or 30 years? Is that so long?! It is the same order of magnitude as space exploration to the outer planets (which Man has done).

Cost: four big vats? Surely not that expensive.

Useless? For the first time, we could show Darwinism at work. Invaluable in the debates raging across America’s schoolboards!

so write a research proposal

I might just do that! Wanna join me?

And then we could maybe claim a Nobel Prize sometime around 2050.

I’m not a biologist though. A mere IT guy who plays chess.

think about it.

thousands of individuals cloned x3. thats tens of millions, using a top technology that just a few places can use. it would mean bogging down all the labs for a while.

the fats, their upkeep etc etc. your budged muight reach 100 mil to start and who knows how close to 10mil a year for decades.

and in the end you might (we arent certain you will) prove something that

HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVEN. waaay beyond any reasonable doubt.

its useless, but then again how would you know, you aint a biologist.

Until we can observe and understand all the genetic variables such an experiment would only be able to say this was the beginning and this is the end. Any changes would still have to be inferred unless each genetic change could be detected and explained. (another experiment in itself) Identifying all the potential causes of change would require us to have developed a diagnostic regimen we can only dream of today.

Great idea, but maybe a little before it’s time.



I agree.

The point is not to convince biologists (by the way, I don’t know if I should feel insulted by your condescending remark), but to convince the others.

Culex pipines was the dominant mosquito species in London prior to the Tube (subway) being built at the end of the 19th century. With the completion of the Tube, the mosquitos followed their human hosts underground. Since the subway trains ran on regular schedules, there was no need for the mosquitoes to come up to find a meal. Not only did they stay underground, their diet was restricted mainly to humans, they bred in stagnant underground puddles and lived and died in artificial light.

By the 1980s or so, this underground variety of mosquito was found to be completely sexually isolated from the above-ground stock from which it started. It is now recognized as a new species.

its doubtfull you can convince an arian power guy that the protocols of zion elders is in fact a fake. because once the guy made up his mind, thats that. it would be a bad ideea to spend alot of money to try and convince people that wont listen to reason or cant be bothered to inform themselves etc.

essentially if they want to know about evolution, there’s the library, theres the net etc. no need to bring the lab in the street, i dont think.

and my condescending remark was only sparked by your “but then again im not a biologist” ducking. i suppose both can be safely ignored.

(OK, fair enough!)

I believe that Darwinism is the one branch of science where no experiment has been carried out (am I wrong?). The one/single/only!

All other branches have cases where people state their case and then show the science. (Remember the chemistry lab?)

Darwinism is on weaker ground - and even though I am convinced by the evidence, I admit that it is a weakness - in that we have to rely on relics. I can convince someone of the truthfulness of Newtonian theory very easily (throw a stone in the air). I cannot ‘prove’ evolution so easily! (And the alternative explanations do seem (even though only superficially) rather nice, too, and are not falsifiable. Well, inexpert eyes are not impressed by a set of rocks with some imprints.)

Is there really no way to demonstrate evolution in a laboratory, and over a short time span?!

if you consider math a science, there is a nice example of science that was never proven experimentally, and arguably could never be proven.

understand that throwing a rock in the air proves nothing to serve newton. at all. for all we know, rocks could loathe hights, air could loathe rocks or the earth could try to reunite itself. the throwing of apples from the pisa tower was supposed to prove the earth is moving, but its not newtons idea, its galileo’s, and it was just an illustration, or example, invented for didactical purposes. it would not work, experimentally. the universal attraction constant was shown by cavendish using the cavendish balance (a torque system) a while later, and its nothing like throwing rocks, its more like two pikes with lumps at the ends. something that would not (and did not) impress inexpert eyes.

einstein’s theory of relativity has not been proven in a lab. the best proof for it was the observed precesion of mercury, and mercury is a planet, does not fit in a lab. observation counts as experimental proof. trying to construct a laboratory setting to prove how a black hole works would be unwise indeed.

most of what makes modern science would impress nobody except the people who know what to look for. an sos broadcast would impress no tourist walking on the pier, but it would send the coastguard into a rush.

there is definitely not, and never will be a way to prove evolution over a short time span. this is the equivalent of asking for a five minute hour. it might be doable in a laboratory, but as the parents said to the five year old who wanted his own sattelite : “you can buy that for yourself when you manage to save the money”

I think that there is ample proof of rapid mutation occurring in the last century. EX. The post by ToWanderIsToWonder. There are many examples of surface creatures trapped in caves that have mutated in relatively short periods of time.

I think the real issue is that for those who deny evolution, no amount of ‘proof’ would be sufficient. The issue isn’t about evolution, it’s about religious dogma, and the perception that evolution doesn’t match with “holy scripture”.

Those who have spent the necessary time studying the issue accept evolution overwhelmingly, even though many of the evolution theories are incomplete and a long way from being ‘proven’. There is as much that we don’t understand about the process of evolution as there is ‘evidence’ for what we have managed to piece together. Still, the preponderance of evidence make’s any other explanation dubious at best.



I googled “evolution predictions” and found this, among other links:

Is Evolution Science?

It lists many predictions based on evolutionary theory. I’m quite sure there are many more. As for lab experiments, ask any geneticist what he does in the lab all day.

The behavior of evolutionary systems can be mathematically modelled. People make predictions about how systems will evolve, and they test them using computer simulations.

What JT said.

No. Maths is used to certain degrees in science, it is not science. Maths is purely abstract, science is empirical and based on observations. It isn’t something beyond doubt, as your inferring; of all possible mathematical objects and relationships, only an in limited amount are ever instantiated in the relationships of physical objects and physical processes. This leaves it inadequate, if not pointless, when experimenting on Darwins theory.

Chemistry has evolved, it was derived at through magic men and medicine. It is more abstract and is far from being based on something purely fundamental like Darwins evolution, which is based on the observable facts we have.