Jonathan Eisen has pointed out some rather significant misinterpretation of evolutionary relationships in a recent New York Times article. Of course, misconceptions about evolutionary trees, the evolution of complex organs, the mechanism of natural selection, and even the nature of the terms “fact” and “theory” are rampant.
I have tried to tackle these in my previous series of reviews in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach. Sadly, despite some moves in the right direction, these are still not freely available from Springer. (You may recall that I resigned as associate editor over the lack of access).
However, if you want to send a PDF to someone who is confused about these topics, you can get the papers at the links below.
Gregory, T.R. (2009). Understanding natural selection: essential concepts and common misconceptions. Evolution: Education and Outreach 2: 156-175.
Gregory, T.R. (2008). The evolution of complex organs. Evolution: Education and Outreach 1: 358-389.
Gregory, T.R. (2008). Understanding evolutionary trees. Evolution: Education and Outreach 1: 121-137.
Gregory, T.R. (2008). Evolution as fact, theory, and path. Evolution: Education and Outreach 1: 46-52.