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Glued moths! So what!

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  • rlbaty@webtv.net
    I noticed there has been some renewed discussion here about certain moths being photographed on different backgrounds. In my younger days I happened to have
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2003
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      I noticed there has been some renewed discussion here about certain
      moths being photographed on different backgrounds.

      In my younger days I happened to have gotten caught up in a bit of that
      little controversy. The archives here might be searched for details.

      In any case, this morning on Todd's "Creationism" list Ed made the
      following comment relative to that issue:

      > Glueing moths to trees? Now that is
      > just slightly cheating.

      In those earlier days I happened to bring that subject up with Kenneth
      Miller, a fellow on the receiving end of some of that criticism.
      Following my name below is a response I got from him regarding the
      matter.

      It might be relevant to the renewed interest in such things. I figure
      the flap is not what some (i.e. Ed) would like to make of it.

      Sincerely,
      Robert Baty

      #########################

      From: Kenneth_Miller@... (Kenneth Miller)
      Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2002, 9:39am
      To: rlbaty@... (Robert Baty)

      Subject: Re: Peppered Moths

      Dear Mr. Baty,

      Thanks for your note:

      > I recently ran into a fellow on the
      > Internet that complained about certain
      > questionable photographs of the moths
      > that were prepared for a NOVA
      > documentary.

      Which one? From the recent "Evolution" series? or another one?

      > I have read a rebuttal explaining that
      > such "staged" photographs are nothing
      > unusual when it comes to insect
      > photography and the fuss about them
      > is quite unwarranted.

      > I am wondering about the photos in the
      > article you have up (circa 1999) on the
      > Internet.

      Do you mean the photos on this web page?

      http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/Moths/moths.html

      > Are those pictures "staged", or are they
      > real-life, as they found them in the wild
      > type pictures?
            
      These are simply pictures that I found on the internet. I assume that
      they are staged, meaning that the photographer took light and dark
      colored moths and placed them on light and dark backgrounds, then
      photographed them.

      > Are you aware of this little controversy?
      > Got opinion.
                
      Well, I am certainly aware of the charges that the photos are "faked."

      And they are not faked.

      They are real moths on real backgrounds that exist in nature.
              
      The important point here is to appreciate what the photos are intended
      to show. They illustrate crypsis (camouflage). What these photos and
      those in many textbooks illustrate, quite correctly, is the fact that a
      moth's visibility on a background is much greater if it contrasts with
      that background.
              
      Any other questions?

      Sincerely,
      Ken Miller

      Kenneth R. Miller
      Professor of Biology
      Brown University
      Providence, RI 02912
      http://bms.brown.edu/faculty/m/kmiller/
      --
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