Thursday, July 10, 2008

An interesting thought

     If scientists held a belief about our world religiously, would they necessarily recognize the fact? I have asserted my perception that belief in evolution is religious in nature (not scientific.) Obviously, this perception is itself not scientific. How would one go about conducting a controlled study? Still, I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong. I have even stated what would convince me. Show me a study (really, for a scientific theory there should be several) in which the evolutionary hypothesis predicts one outcome, previous observation together with the assumption that evolution is wrong predict a different outcome and that second outcome is agreed in advance that it will be recognized as a disconfirmer (a falsifier.) Conditions in which there is an "out" do not count. Evolution predicting a type of fossil cannot be used as there is always an excuse ready if no fossil is found. Declaring something a "potential falsifier" after it is confirmed not to occur (or would be considered highly unlikely to occur given previous observations) will not persuade me. For that matter, such things should not persuade scientists. Ordinarily, scientific theories go around with bullseyes on their backs. Evolution appears to have been coddled.
     People have told me that their belief in evolution is not a matter of "faith." I have little doubt that they have convinced themselves. But their actions strongly resemble those produced by religious faith. They will tell me I need to do more research. It's very similar to the question posed by christians, "is it possible there is evidence for god in what you don't know?" It is quite impossible to exhaust all studies, and telling me to "do more research" seems more an effort to keep me busy and shut me up. When do I stop looking for the purple cow and simply conclude it is not there? I have not changed what will convince me. Yet people only point me to studies that fail the criteria. (One other failure that people cite as a potential falsifier is the proof of a universal negative, e.g. a persistent trait that provides a benefit only for a species other than the one in which it is found. These are not possible results because no observation could be proven to meet the condition.)

28 comments:

Clostridiophile said...

pvblivs,

I think you are really, really hung up on falsification. We are looking at a broad, all encompassing theory that is a HISTORICAL science in which we are trying to both put together past events in the rocks and understand extant populations, as well as molecular events. More important than falsification is predictability in the historical analysis of life-and indeed of any theory. We use new data to update old models. For instance, Darwin had no idea how organisms pass on genetic material, he didn't even know what that material was. He didn't know about neutral mutations, etc. We've added much to his foundation...and much of it is by nature after-the-fact, we have to let nature tell us what is going on and we adjust our understanding accordingly.

Again, and I don't care if it has happened after the fact, because we are sequencing every goddamn thing now, but human chimp ancestry was up for grabs many decades ago. There just wasn't much strong evidence supporting it...it could have been easily falsified through DNA technology. In addition, if we find hominids in the precambrian...this would absolutely falsify common descent. But we find a pattern of hominids in the places they were predicted based on common ancestry. I can't understand why you don't see this and get so hung up on falsification. In practice, it is the success of the theory in predicting and explaining that makes it useful, not because of its current real or perceived failures. I mean, you'd really have to be blind, or not have looked at the data to think that life doesn't evolve, or that evolutionary theory is not a solid scientific theory. I mean, this isn't a physics or chemistry experiment here.

Pvblivs said...

Clostridiophile:

     "I think you are really, really hung up on falsification."
     I am hung up on falsifiability. It is, after all, the "gold standard" on which science is based. And it is reasonable to regard evolution as a belief about historical events. Theories, being timeless, are not themselves historical. Historical beliefs cannot rise to the level of scientific theory. It is not a scientific theory that the American rebels wanted freedom from the tyranny of king George III. It is a historical fact. Or, at any rate, our best evidence is that it is historicly true.
     But history and science are two different things. Historical events cannot be reproduced.

Clostridiophile said...

"But history and science are two different things. Historical events cannot be reproduced."

Then you must reject the Big Bang and indeed modern cosmology because they too study the past. Hell, forget about geology as well, and climate science, how the fuck can we know anything that happened?? Dude, seriously, I don't think you have a clue about the data at all. Do you read the literature in biology? I'm just curious. Have you looked at the data concerning the human genome? I mean because where I am sitting, I don't see any problem at all with historical analysis in science. As I said over at the ranting students blog, you'd better hurry up and publish this groundbreaking critique on science, because the vast majority of evolutionary biologists, and geologists and scientists in general must really be dumb.

By the way, the "golden standard" in science is actually predictability. We don't write papers discussing how we might falsify such and such, we present positive data that confirm a hypothesis. That's why you haven't seen what you think you should have seen....we don't talk like this unless we have falsified something. This happens quite alot, for instance a new insight into the evolution of some lineage in which the previous hypothesis turned out to be in error. The theory is testable and has great explanatory power. You are missing the forest for the trees.

Pvblivs said...

     The "Big Bang" is not a theory. It is a postulated event. And I said nothing about dumb. Intelligence does not guard against confirmation bias. Cosmology is a large field. There are theories about how interstellar bodies. And there are extrapolations of current observations based on those theories that postulate individual events future and past.
     And there is nothing groundbreaking about anything I have said. It is already known that people have a tendency to cling to preconceived notions. For a long time, science did not challenge christianity because of the indoctrination (and the threats of excommunication.) I am describing an instance of the belief held within a power structure that controls the direction of research. There is nothing new here. What makes you think the "current guard" is immune to human nature?

Clostridiophile said...

pvblivs,

You are correct, there is nothing groundbreaking in what you have said. Creationists always claim that we can't study the past...except when it comes to Jesus. I know you are not one of them, but again I wonder how in tune you are with current genomics and molecular biology. Its not just fossils, and with evo devo, I can't understand how you could feel that the theory is not just in trouble, but is not scientific. I do not feel I am clinging to preconceived notions as you claim. There are differences in "preconceived notions". Ray's "preconceived notions" are different from the data on the expansion of the universe and the nature of light in a vacuum. Religious "preconceived notions" are different from discovering numerous species in the Homo genus, each of which are consistently found in the expected place in the geological column. Different than the "preconceived notion" that we should find Tiktaalik at a specific place in the column inbetween two intermediates in regard to fins and limbs. Is this extrapolation as you claim, or is this specific prediction???

Maybe I have asked you this before, but do you accept the notion that humans evolved and that we share common ancestry with all of life? This isn't a faith statement. I'm wondering what you think.

Pvblivs said...

Clostridiophile:
     "Maybe I have asked you this before, but do you accept the notion that humans evolved and that we share common ancestry with all of life? This isn't a faith statement. I'm wondering what you think."
     I consider it quite plausible. I just don't see a way to test it. Unless, maybe, we develop time machines or something. Even if there were a way to test it, the existing community seems closed to the notion of evolution being false.
     Interestingly, if I thought the "theory" was in trouble, it would mean that I expected to see some data that would be accepted as falsifying it. In other words, it would be scientific, but I would be predicting that it was wrong.
     "Different than the 'preconceived notion' that we should find Tiktaalik at a specific place in the column inbetween two intermediates in regard to fins and limbs. Is this extrapolation as you claim, or is this specific prediction???"
     Just how detailed was the conception before the find? If anything that could be construed as an intermediary would be accepted as confirmation and there was already an existing pattern "above, below, left, and right," it would be rather unlikely to miss.

Clostridiophile said...

"I consider it quite plausible. I just don't see a way to test it. Unless, maybe, we develop time machines or something. Even if there were a way to test it, the existing community seems closed to the notion of evolution being false.
Interestingly, if I thought the "theory" was in trouble, it would mean that I expected to see some data that would be accepted as falsifying it. In other words, it would be scientific, but I would be predicting that it was wrong."

pvblivs,

The theory was tested just a few years ago...do some research on human chromosome 2, not to mention the human genome project, including comparative genomic publications with other apes and Homo neanderthalensis genome. We don't have to have a time machine to unravel the past.

"Just how detailed was the conception before the find? If anything that could be construed as an intermediary would be accepted as confirmation and there was already an existing pattern "above, below, left, and right," it would be rather unlikely to miss."

Yeah, that's the point! If organisms evolve, we should see a logical progression in the geological column. I don't see how this is so confusing. Neil Shubin predicted based on two other intermediates in terms of wrist bone morphology at what small region in the column this intermediate would be found, then he pinpointed where such rocks are, and they found it. This was no accident, it was predicted based on evolutionary theory. Testable...confirmed. Falsification is important, but it is not our main standard as you claim. Both in principle and practive evolutionary theory can be falsified...however, today, the data is so strong that this seems almost nil. You are basically criticizing the theory because it has so much evidence!

Pvblivs said...

Clostidiophile:

     If you look closely, you will find that I criticize the hypothesis itself. I criticize the community that I see as holding it as a "sacred" belief. What would you expect to be the result if the scientific community did hold it to be a sacred belief? The "studiers" of pseudo-sciences (s.g. ESP) provide a handy reference point. They conduct tests. And they insist that their theory is falsifiable in principle. In short, they are convinced that what they are doing is scientific. When they shield their ideas, they don't even recognize that they are doing so.
     If the scientific community held a sacred (any sacred belief) it would not admit it openly. In all likelihood, it would be convinced that the belief was not sacred. So it would say that the belief could be falsified. You would expect "things that might have destroyed the 'theory'" to come up after other evidence showed such things highly unlikely.
     I pondered the question of what it would look like if the scientific community held a sacred belief. I did not expect (at the time) to find an example. If you are so sure that the belief in evolution is not a sacred one, perhaps you could tell me what you think would be different if it were. You and I both know that open admissions of it being would not happen.

Clostridiophile said...

" If you look closely, you will find that I criticize the hypothesis itself. I criticize the community that I see as holding it as a "sacred" belief. What would you expect to be the result if the scientific community did hold it to be a sacred belief? The "studiers" of pseudo-sciences (s.g. ESP) provide a handy reference point. They conduct tests. And they insist that their theory is falsifiable in principle. In short, they are convinced that what they are doing is scientific. When they shield their ideas, they don't even recognize that they are doing so."

And this is why I keep telling you that you see are stuck staring at a tree when it is the forest you should be looking at. Who cares if they claim ESP is falsifiable, do they have any POSITIVE evidence for their notion???? No. Evolutionary theory is not a "sacred belief", we have thousands of books and journal articles cataloguing the evidences for the theory. It stands up to rigorous scrutiny and has EXPLANATORY POWER. I do phylogenetic analysis with organisms that I work with, and the patterns, based on evolutionary assumptions completely fit what we would expect based on the idea of common ancestry.

Another good example, the mitochondrion, was suggested to have once been a free-living prokaryote. When DNA evidence became available, the 16s rDNA gene sequences from mitochondria were used to construct a phylogeny with bacterial 16s rDNA genes and the closest living relative was Rickettsia prowisekii....an obligate intracellular pathogen! This is a stunning find. Also, when scientists compared phylogenies of the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori across people from each continent, the pattern of evolution supported human migration patterns based on archeological and fossil evidence.

Pvblivs said...

     They have what they claim is positive evidence. (Hmm... this can actually apply to either "they." Fifty-fifty shot can you whom I had in mind when I wrote it?)
     What would it look like if evolution was a sacred belief? I know you say I am "focused on that tree." But the fact is that I find just what I would expect to find if evolution was a sacred belief. And a few of those "trees" on which I am focused are things I would expect to find if evolution was not a sacred belief but that I do not find. Instead you telling me that "the forest" is that it is not a sacred belief. But you do not give anything that makes a distinction. It seems that you are so committed to the idea that it is not a sacred belief that you cannot picture what it would be like if it were. Unfortunately, until you can, you have nothing to replace my current means of making the determination.
     I would say that it not so much my being focused on a "tree," but that you are avoiding a critical issue.

get_education said...

pvblivs,

Well, I have to agree with you on one thing, and you are a symptom of what I am about to say.

There is overwhelming prove that evolution has happened. The thing is, at the same time, lots of scientists do accept the theory as a matter of "faith." The only reason why I dare state this is because I have seen them abusing the theory in ways they would not do if they really understood it. This, of course, is mostly circumscribed to those who do not work on evolution directly, but whose interpretation of lots of findings use what would look like a "prefabricated seemingly selectionist explanation," which is truly a teleological one.

In any event, things that would falsify it: Fossils in the wrong order, humans next to dinosaurs, for instance, or if genetic information would render us closer to lizards than to chimps, or what do I know. The thing is, my friend, evolution is way too powerful, as I have said at Ray's, at explaining things that the proponents did not even imagine.

I think this is not what you are looking for, but the beauty of the theory, and what can potentially make it a thought killer, is how much it explains. I guess this is why some complain about it. Seems to give people an easy escape to thinking more carefully before reaching a conclusion.

Anyway, consistency is your key pvblivs. Also, experiments! Yes, we cannot go back and see humans evolving from a common ancestor with chimps, but we have found what would be expected. For instance, one puzzle was the famous chromosome problem. Chimps and other hominids have one more chromosome than humans. Examination of chromosomes at several levels showed that we had instead one big chromosome numbered 2. Logic suggested immediately that this chromosome was a fusion of the other two. If this was true, then we should find evidences about it. Lo and behold, we did, there are remnants of an extra centromere in chromosome 2, and also of extra telomeres (ends of chromosomes, normally). Not only that, the corresponding genes that should be found in this fused chromosome were found.

So, this is more like forensics, but it is truly science, and lots gets proven.

Now, if that weren't enough, well, there is a field of biotechnology called "directed evolution," where molecules are put into variation/selection rounds to evolve new activities. It works.

Does this kinda answer your questions?

G.E.

Pvblivs said...

Get_education:

     "Does this kinda answer your questions?"
     I'm afraid not. If (for example) human and dinosaur skeletons had been proximity, it would not falsified evolution. Evolution does not predict that humans and dinosaurs did not or could not coexist. Similarly, the "correct order" for fossils is determined largely by the order in which they were found to be.
     It might help if you understand that I am not asking whether evolution is true or false. (I can think of no observation that would distinguish those cases.) I am asking if it a sacred belief that no one dares actually challenge. Certainly they produce "tests" that they say challenge it. But pseudo-sciences do that as well. In a world in which the scientific community held evolution as a sacred belief, what would you expect to see that is absent in the world that we see?

Clostridiophile said...

pvblivs,

You have two genomics experts telling you the exact same thing...I think yours is the "faith". There is nothing that will convince you. And I think this is due to a misunderstanding of the philosophy of science-particularly historical sciences. If you are to be consistent, you will argue that geologists can tell us nothing about the what the past geoligical landscape looked like.

Pvblivs said...

     "There is nothing that will convince you."
     Incorrect. I have told you what will convince me. Remember, you are not trying to convince me that evolution is true. You are trying to convince me that you actually put it to the challenge instead of setting up "confirm or inconlusive" experiments. If you show me an experiment in which the assumption that evolution is false predictied an outcome that was noted at the start of the experiment as potential falsifier, I will agree that you are not coddling the hypothesis.
     That's all. If you show me an experiment in which evolution is not "safe," I will be convinced. I will not be convinced if you show me experiments such that if you find what you are looking for, it is a confirmation and if you don't, it is inconclusive. I will also not accept "potential falsifiers" that are determined to be so after it can safely be predicted that they not turn up even if evolution is false.
     Geology tells us how the earth moves and continues to move. Claims of "how the earth once looked" are postulated events.
     Why should I conclude that you do not hold evolution as a sacred belief? Because of your official capacity? It does not immunize you against human nature. Because you can produce confirmation results when the failure to confirm would be discarded as a non-event? Pseudo-sciences do the same. If everyone in the scientific community believes something uncritically and entrance into the scientific community requires such uncritical acceptance, there is no one left to challenge your belief. Your belief is safe not because it is correct (it may or may not be; I have no way of knowing) but because anyone who might think of challenging will not be permitted to be in a position to do so.

get_education said...

pvblivs,

Well, I can tell you that you are not required to "believe in evolution" to be a scientist. That would be unscientific. Of course, challenging evolution itself is a thing of the past because it does not seem to be needed anymore.

So, I got you now. Your question is rather whether we would be able to distinguish if the acceptance is more out of faith, or out of "scientific merit/evidence/whatever-science-is." Am I right so far?

Well, I think my post did answer your question, lots of scientists accept it as a matter of faith, and seem to be unable to notice it without a lot of help.

When I challenge them because of their teleology they tend to think I do not accept/believe evolution first. Though those who know me pay close attention and get to know where they are failing.

You are right, evolution does not state that humans did not coexist with dinosaurs. But evolution is not that accommodating. But I have to agree that it explain things so well, so nicely, that it can be a dangerous thought killer. WIll people try and fit everything into it? Yes! Will they succeed? Some will, but I doubt most will. Right now there is a turmoil about the role of selection alone in the evolution of genome complexity. The idea is a bit hard to explain, so let us leave it for now. The issue is, whenever there is a need to challenge the theory, it is challenged. Or at least pieces of it.

A requirement to be a scientist? Hell no, it is not, it will not be, ever. tests in biology might require you to understand the theory, but nobody will ever require you to "believe it."

Now, unfortunately, I think that understanding of evolution will be eroded from the scientific community as more and more people skip it by taking it for granted. But that is another story.

I know I did not answer your question, or maybe I did, not the part about proof, but the part about being able to distinguish it from a faith-based idea. It is distinguishable, but it can become a matter of faith.

G.E.

Clostridiophile said...

"That's all. If you show me an experiment in which evolution is not "safe," I will be convinced. I will not be convinced if you show me experiments such that if you find what you are looking for, it is a confirmation and if you don't, it is inconclusive. I will also not accept "potential falsifiers" that are determined to be so after it can safely be predicted that they not turn up even if evolution is false."

GE and I both presented human chromosome 2. This was a direct test of chimp-human common ancestry. Ken Miller explained this well at the Dover trial. Again, if we are to start finding fossils that go so far outside of the pattern that has emerged, we would have to rethink or reject the whole thing. I agree with GE in both respects that 1) we are not concerned with whether the theory is true as much anymore, rather what level of selection and which mechanisms are acting where and to what extent 2) that it is taken as "faith" by many in science who don't work on it directly. We do. I look in the genome of the organism I work on and can see clear history in that genome, especially when compared to other closely and more distantly related "species" of microbes. I mean, read this article:

http://ofmicrobesandmen.blogspot.com/2008/06/i-smell-evolution.html

I understand your objection, you want a rigorous examples of tests where the entire edifice would come crashing down...again, we are past that point, and again, when we started getting into the molecular level, we might easily have falsified the theory through a number of ways that we have recounted. Scientists have tested natural selection in real populations and it could have been rejected. But it hasn't been. I disagree with you when you say that "the failure to confirm would have been rejected". How do you know? You are claiming omniscience here, now. Every theory has observations that it can't yet explain. However, when these observations become more numerous and begin to be harder and harder to reconcile, then we start looking more to falsify, and think more about alternatives. We simply haven't had to, and as GE said, the focus is more on testing specific hypotheses related to the evolution of organisms. Such as the role of C4 grassland formation in horse evolution.

get_education said...

pvblivs,

Well, one more difference, if you still want to know, with the faith and the argument that you should read more, or get more information, is that in the case of science, there IS information.

Let me see, for instance, you said that the Bing Bang in just a "proposed event." I am not that sure about it. However, I am incapable of talking about the Big Bang myself, and make it clear for you. However, the first time I heard of it, well, yes, it was a proposed event given the evidences of a Universe in expansion. Then, somehow, with their math and physics and quantum shit, these physical-astronomers got to be able to start making sense of the Big Bang, and to "rationalize" what we should have as evidences of such a thing. So, they found the evidences by knowing what to look for (you know, the background noise shit--I am using bad words but just because I like them, not to undermine the theories). I used "rationalize" because these methods are very mathematical, and sometimes the results can be counterintuitive, yet, predict lots of stuff quite accurately.

So, I would have only myself and my limited time to blame if a physicist cannot explain things to me in a way that I could understand and if the physicist sends me to study more stuff. At one point or another I have to accept their expertise and go on with my life. Is this faith? Well, maybe. But is a learned faith, not a blind acceptance or the Big Bang and its effects, but rather an acceptance that I might not have the background to properly understand it, and that the scientific method, as far as I know, works.

As of evolution. You got me intrigued. I really wonder if there is a way to disprove it, a way to design an experiment that would destroy the whole theory apart, or if it is just philosophically beyond reach. Something so well constructed that it is impossible to truly falsify. This is not out of faith however. But rather, maybe the theory is way too powerful and resilient. I have to keep thinking about it.

That does not mean there is not lots of conclusive evidence that it has happened, just that maybe it is very hard to think about something that would truly falsify it.

G.E.

Pvblivs said...

Get_education:

     "So, I got you now. Your question is rather whether we would be able to distinguish if the acceptance is more out of faith, or out of 'scientific merit/evidence/whatever-science-is.' Am I right so far?"
     Close, and I know this is going to sound nit-picky. I am asking for what your distinguishing criteron is, not simply whether it exists. When you declare that it is not a sacred idea, I make the assumption that you have some criterion on which to base this judgement.
     "[B]ut nobody will ever require you to 'believe it.'"
     I know you are speaking from your own beliefs here. However, unless admission into the scientific community is something that can be "computerized" from top to bottom, there is an opening for "unofficial requirements." As an analogy, you are not officially required to agree with your boss on what he says; but anyone who thinks it doesn't have an impact is naive.

Pvblivs said...

Get_education:

     "Well, one more difference, if you still want to know, with the faith and the argument that you should read more, or get more information, is that in the case of science, there IS information."
     Ah, well, I was not complaining about when people refer me (for example) to a specific study that they think makes their case. I am willing to check proposed counter-examples to my claims. I don't like, "there really is a needle in that haystack; but you gotta find it yourself."

get_education said...

there really is a needle in that haystack; but you gotta find it yourself

I am with you. Do you think we are referring you to such kind of thing? Please let me know. I am truly interested (I know I can be sarcastic, but that is not the case now.)

G.E.

get_education said...

pvblivs,

I know you are speaking from your own beliefs here. However, unless admission into the scientific community is something that can be "computerized" from top to bottom, there is an opening for "unofficial requirements." As an analogy, you are not officially required to agree with your boss on what he says; but anyone who thinks it doesn't have an impact is naive.

Well, not speaking from my own beliefs here pvblivs. Admission to the scientific community starts when you start publishing your discoveries. So far I have never been asked to state if I "believe in evolution" before any journal accepts my manuscripts for publication.

Then, as I said, the community dedicated o the study of evolution is quite stringent. Just like me, they tend to detest easy evolutionary claims. Even though admitting such claims, even gratuitous ones, would make other communities accept "the belief" much more easily. I can only guess that since evolution is under constant scrutiny from the "outside world," they tend to be overcautious not to depart from very stringent scientific standards. Thus, I am talking from experience, not from belief.

Anyway, I am still thinking if there is any way of truly designing some experiment that would disprove evolution. However, by your comments I am starting to suspect that you have something fixed in your mind. But not sure how to precisely pick it up and show it to you.

G.E.

Pvblivs said...

Get_education:

     I have gotten such comments from supporters of evolution before. It tends to be a response to my assertion that I have never seen any test of evolution that didn't have an "out" so to speak in case they didn't get the results they were looking for.

get_education said...

I did not get your meaning pvblivs. But I think you are confusing experiments purposely designed to have an "out" to probable philosophical problems that make it hard to truly design an experiment that do not have an "out," which, I think, is a nice question to ask: Is there a way of designing an experiment without an "out," or will we always have an "out." You see? The difference is in the "intentions."

So, what was what I did wrong? What was my "always gotten" response? I am serious, if you do not help me I cannot see what I did wrong.

G.E.

Pvblivs said...

Get_education:

     My apologies. I didn't mean to imply that I had gotten comments like yours before. I meant that I had gotten "the evidence exists; go look for it" comments before. I was not, in fact, accusing you and I apologize for the confusion.
     The question of whether there can be an experiment without an "out" is, I think, a very interesting one. I have stated before that I cannot think of any way to determine whether evolution is true or false.

Reynold said...

I'm afraid not. If (for example) human and dinosaur skeletons had been proximity, it would not falsified evolution. Evolution does not predict that humans and dinosaurs did not or could not coexist. Similarly, the "correct order" for fossils is determined largely by the order in which they were found to be.
If such was found when they first started finding dinosaur fossils, evolution likely would never have gotten off the ground in the first place. The "biblical" pardigm would have held; the belief that man and dinos co-existed.

Also, where did this "confirmation bias" come from? You do know that the first "evolutionists" and "old earthers" were originally creationists/young-earthers? They would have resisted the idea of commone descent and an old earth with everything they had, until the evidence showed them otherwise.

Ron Number's book The Creationists may be helpful in that regard.



BTW, it's long been said that if fossil vertebrates were found in the pre-cambrian that that would falsify evolution. Would that not fit the kind of test/experiment you're looking for?

get_education said...

Well, yes, I am with Reynold, finding fossils in the wrong place should disprove evolution. Because, if we found humans in the pre-cambrian, it would mean humans appeared out of nowhere.

But I think pvblvs also thinks that finding humans in the pre-cambrian would not necessarily disprove evolution, that we would then say "well, the pre-humans must be there, we just have not found them." But that would be a very poor argument. I doubt anybody would say that. Maybe this is the point?

So, evolution is mostly historical and forensic in nature, but certainly evolution would be disproved by fossils in the wrong place. Or by genes or other characters always showing inconsistent results (uncorrelated), like if gene order would be found to appear random comparing humans to chimps, but then ordered from chimps to frogs, or no sense whatsoever.

I am quite convinced by all the evidence, and I do see the difference with "faith." I would like to just have a very clear way of explaining this.

Maybe I just got too much into the arguments.

G.E.

Clostridiophile said...

"But I think pvblvs also thinks that finding humans in the pre-cambrian would not necessarily disprove evolution, that we would then say "well, the pre-humans must be there, we just have not found them." But that would be a very poor argument. I doubt anybody would say that. Maybe this is the point?"

The problem with saying this is that Darwin's theory necessitates large spans of geologic time...the first life appeared directly after the earth cooled enough to support it. If humans showed up right away....what of evolution?? This is why you say it is a bad argument, and I can't see why pvblivs doesn't agree on this. This is why I keep repeating that we are simply beyond falsification for the most part, because the major bits, the crude outline showing that evolution has occurred and fits the general theory that Darwin proposed is true. Not to mention that we now understand heredity...no challenge there, we know that all organisms share the same hereditary material...no challenge there, and when we analyze the genetic material using evolutionary assumptions we reconstruct similar trees to morphological characters. Now we have genomes, and GE and I both know that this is some strong support, beyond doubt. Further, the new synthesis is bringing development into the evolutionary question of how are the fittest made, that the neo-Darwinian synthesis simply could not answer. I simply don't see the problem here.

get_education said...

Agreed my friend Clos. I see no problem. The only thing is I do not feel I have explained it clearly enough.

Maybe at some point the problem is that the layperson has to learn some more to be able to understand what science is, and about the many ways things are falsified or proven. It is not just the lab. Now, the lab has also proven that the principles that give credit to evolutionary theory do work. I have cited directed evolution. And it works much better than trying to design from first principles. But again, somebody might claim that of directed evolution did not work then we would have just said it is because we really need eons for it to work. Maybe, but so many different sources of evidence are scientific prove.

Amazing the power of evolutionary theory. Actually, I am starting to move my research more into evolutionary analyses. The power of these things is enormous.

G.E.

G.E.