Naturally Selecting Against Natural Selection

I'm reading the Daily Mirror's Science Editor Mike Swain's piece MALE MICE IN SERENADE TO PARTNERS.

According to Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine researcher Dustin Penn all the time we thought mice just went squeak the males were actually emitting ultrasonic mating melodies sufficiently complex for females to be able to distinguish songs sung by brothers (a possible mechanism for avoiding inbreeding).

As Penn observes of the study published in the journals Ethology and Physiology & Behaviour "It seems house mice might provide a new model organism for the study of song in animals. Who would have thought that?"

When I was a kid in the Sixties I asked my posh Bristolian public schoolboy type father and my well read Scouse mother why roses were red and received the explanation something called Evolution'd made them that colour to attract bees.

Over time I learned the specific mechanism concerned was called natural selection and I was filled with awe scientists could know such things.

Then I found out bees not only can't see red or're completely uninterested in it but actually favour ultraviolet - which we can't see of course - and I realised the flaw with natural selection.

It explains everything backwards.

It surveys a situation then identifies a series of evolutionary events which had to've unfolded to bring them to that state of development.

Setting aside the issue of whether such an approach is really likely to be scientifically accurate rather than merely plausible.

The real flaw in natural selection as an explanation is we can never really know if we have all the facts and it's only when we DO know ALL the facts we can even begin to contemplate reverse engineeering what happened.

Once upon a time the idea roses were red to attract bees seemed like cutting edge science and it still would if we'd never discovered ultraviolet.

Similarly the cutting edge scientific explanation for why polar bears were white was because it made them invisble to their prey against the background of snow - except it now turns out reindeer have ultraviolet vision which actually makes them stand out against the snow.

For all we know being white's actually a distinct disadvantage in that environment but less of one than in none snowy environments but because we find it hard to see polar bears against snow we assume everything else does too.

And now all the cutting edge scientific explanations for why mice only squeak'll have to be revised to make mouse song on a par with whale song and all because we assumed mice only amounted to what our own particularly limited set of senses perceived them to be.

I remember during the Nineties in the UK The Scifi Channel used to run a videoclip of Scifi author Brian Aldiss lamenting almost in despair how people've "always been seeing things that're simply not there!"

I used to imagine this super sentient bee reading a newspaper filled with ultraviolent newsprint saying, "Ye', ye'...an' people've always been NOT seeing things that simply ARE there!"

Add to that now a super sentient mouse warbling "...or NOT HEARING things that simply ARE there!"