Whipping a dead moth

Peppered moth
Peppered moth on a branch, courtesy of Michael Majerus. In case you cannot see it, look in the inset directly to the right of the larger photograph.

That again! Someone at AIG, Dr. Tommy Mitchell, a retired physician, has raised some hoary old objections to Bernard Kettlewell’s pioneering research on the peppered moth, Biston betularia. Indeed, the story is so hackneyed that Dr. Mitchell opens with the words, “Stop me if you have heard this tale before.” We have heard it before, and Dr. Kettlewell (also an MD, incidentally) and his research have survived with flying colors.

Doctor Mitchell brings up an attack by Judith Hooper in her book Of Moths and Men. I outlined research undertaken by Ian Musgrave and me to refute Ms. Hooper in a PT article and expanded on it here. I will have no more to say, except that our research conclusively refutes Ms. Hooper’s charges of falsifying the data, and to his credit Dr. Mitchell demands more proof. Indeed, he admits that “others involved in this area have collected data that validates Kettlewell’s original conclusions.”

Then what is all the fuss about? Doctor Kettlewell’s research has been validated, and Dr. Mitchell agrees that “[n]atural selection can easily be seen in nature.” His conclusion? In effect, they are still moths.