Common misconceptions

1) Organisms are always optimally adapted.

Good enough is fine! Organisms do not need to achieve perfection, and it is not a race to climb up the ladder. They just need to be fit enough to survive and reproduce. Also ‘fitness’ depends on the environment. When the environment changes, a fit organism’s adaptation may become less successful (thus, the organism may no longer be adapted to the environment).


2) Evolution means that life changed ‘by chance’.

Although mutations do occur by chance and are random, selection of these mutations is not random. The most advantageous traits are selected for by the environmental conditions  (natural selection).

3) Natural selection involves organisms ‘trying’ to adapt.

Organisms do not try to adapt. The process of natural selection leads to some members of a group to survive or reproduce better depending on the characteristics they have. There is no plan or choice involved.

4)    Evolution is just a “theory” not fact.

This misconception stems from a mix-up between casual and scientific use of the word theory. In everyday language, theory is often used to mean a hunch with little evidential support. Scientific theories, on the other hand, are broad explanations for a wide range of phenomena. In order to be accepted by the scientific community, a theory must be strongly supported by many different lines of evidence. Evolution is a well-supported and broadly accepted scientific theory; it is not ‘just’ a hunch.

5)    Humans are derived from monkeys.

No. We share a common ancestor, but we are not derived from the monkeys we see today. Modern monkeys share a distant ancestor with humans, and that ancestor did possess characteristics common to all primates. However, they were not the same as modern monkeys. So although man and monkeys both came from a monkey-like species millions of years ago, humans did not evolve directly from the modern monkeys we see today. 

6)    Humans were around at the same time as dinosaurs.

Not true!  This is a common misconception due to unrealistic movies and cartoons.  Dinosaurs inhabited the earth and became extinct 65 million of years before humans came into existence!!Flintstones are just a fun cartoon!


7)    Religion and Evolution cannot co-exist.

This is not true. Evolution is a scientific fact, religion is a matter of faith.  The same way as a child learn maths and history, they can have RE and Science lessons. Evolution should be taught as scientific fact not as an alternative theory to religion.

Evolution can comfortably be taught as the science that explains how organisms change over time. Evolution as a science  makes no statements about the existence of god, and is not necessarily incompatible with its existence This is a good article on misconceptions from the new scientist.

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