Dr. Michael Egnor, Artificial Selection, and My Dog.

Last week, SUNY Stony Brook neurosurgeon and anti-evolution mouthpiece [Michael Egnor](/archives/2007/03/egnorance-combo-arrogance.html) decided to [keep driving on](http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/03/mr_dunfords_knot.html) with his "you don't need to understand Darwinian evolution to understand antibiotic resistance" crusade. His post is - predictably enough - a mass of loosely connected logical fallacies. One of the most egregious of these is his attempt to assume one of the points that he wanted to argue:

First, two definitions:

Natural selection is selection in nature, presumably arising without intelligent agency. An example of natural selection would be the differential reproduction of organisms in nature, without the evident guidance of an intelligent agent.

Artificial selection is selection caused by intelligent agency. An example of artificial selection would be the intentional breeding of bacteria by a scientist in a research lab.

The distinction between natural selection and artificial selection is at least matter of definition, and perhaps there are empirical differences as well.

His definition of natural selection is poor - if I saw it on a quiz in an introductory course, I'd have a hard time justifying giving him even half credit - but it's not nearly as troublesome as his definition of artificial selection. If you think back to [some of the](http://scienceblogs.com/mikethemadbiologist/2008/03/i_see_stupid_people_artificial.php) [previous discussion](http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2008/03/the_egnorance_it_returns_and_s.php) about Egnor's line of argument, you'll remember that many of us don't think that placing bacteria in an environment that contains an antibiotic and allowing them to freely reproduce is actually artificial selection. Egnor's attempting to beg the question by simply making his conclusion part of the definition that he expects us to accept without further argument. And that's where my dog comes in.

[Read more at The Questionable Authority, where comments may be left:](http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2008/03/dr_michael_egnor_artificial_se.php)