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Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Ed. -- aka the "Panda Trial" - Page 5

post #161 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
What would really unlikely is wings on a pig which still additionally had four feet -- that would a major departure from mammalian skeletal structure, unlike the wings on a bat, which one can see are merely an adaptation of the arms/forelegs and hands/front paws of other mammals.

Why is is necessary to assume that the new winged pig would need to adhere to "mammalian skeletal structure"?
post #162 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
You wouldn't expect the wings of a pig to develop much much faster than it took for a rodent to develop wings and into a bat.

Why?
post #163 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I see you are in "The Rockies"...Colorado? Did you vote today?

Montana. Our election is next week. You guys have some kind of vote on your TABOR today I heard.
post #164 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

Quote:
Not apparent, discernible or known is not the same as "nonexistent"

Just had to quote this so it doesn't go away. It is a very important point.

Oh dear.

Just so we're clear, I'm speaking of the kind of non-evident causation that nevertheless would appear to be of a class of phenomena that we do have explanations for, suggesting that the non-evidence arises from lack of information, rather than a paradigm shifting failure of the classification.

So that in my example, for instance, the appearance of an illness the cause of which is not known does not make the case for demon possession.

And which is why it would take more than a species without an "apparent" antecedent to send the evolutionary biologists stampeding for the door.
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post #165 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
Oh dear.

Just so we're clear, I'm speaking of the kind of non-evident causation that nevertheless would appear to be of a class of phenomena that we do have explanations for, suggesting that the non-evidence arises from lack of information, rather than a paradigm shifting failure of the classification.

So that in my example, for instance, the appearance of an illness the cause of which is not known does not make the case for demon possession.

And which is why it would take more than a species without an "apparent" antecedent to send the evolutionary biologists stampeding for the door.

So you want to have it both ways then.

Send the creationists/IDers packing because of their "not apparent, discernible or known" designer/creator. But just hand wave when the absense of any antecedent occurs.
post #166 of 576
Heh.
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post #167 of 576
Chris, I think it is time for you to stop asking questions and start answering some. Anyone who beleives inevolution will surely admit that we can't paint an exact picture for you of every ancestor or mutation that has ever happened. It is easy to sit back and say show me, and then when we do quickly point to the next puzzle. How about you show me the evidence for ID?
post #168 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So, according to you, this [the sudden appearance of a species "blow evolution right out of the water"] is off the list then.

I don't think at this point any one such appearance could "blow evolution right out of the water" -- although it could prompt a lot of research into what was so special about that one species if it were very unusual and difficult to classify -- something that was not merely a new species, but a new phylum or class or order... something along those lines.

It's important to note that we're still discovering new species among living species that we've never seen before, so a new species in the fossil record -- unless its characteristics are way out of line with its geological age -- isn't a huge deal for evolution at all.

Although people like to talk dramatically about "revolutions in science", it's important to note that quite often new theories build upon older ones and are in argeement with the older theories to some large degree or extent.

Take Newtonian physics, currently superceded by Einstein's special and general relativity. At a conceptual level, Einstein's physics is very revolutionary -- curved space, relative time replacing absolute time, constancy of the speed of light -- concepts which would have been quite strange to Newton.

In a practical sense, however, for many uses Newton and Einstein are so close that, given how much easier Newton's equations are to work with, you might as well use Newton. You could easily fly a man to the moon using good old-fashioned Newtonian mechanics. However revolutionary Einstein's work might have been, it's not like people who were designing buildings and engines and boats and so many other things dependent on Newtonian mechanics suddenly found out on one unpleasant morning in the early twentieth century that everything they were working on was hopelessly broken and that they'd have to rebuild their designs from scratch using the "new physics".

In a similar way, it's very, very unlikely at this point that anything is going to "blow evolution right out of the water". Evolutionary theory (using this in a broader sense than I used before, to include both historical and theoretical mechanistic aspects) has served so very well that if anything does manage to replace it, chances are that there would have to remain broad areas of agreement in what are already well-trodden areas of study.
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post #169 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Evolutionary theory (using this in a broader sense than I used before, to include both historical and theoretical mechanistic aspects) has served so very well that if anything does manage to replace it, chances are that there would have to remain broad areas of agreement in what are already well-trodden areas of study.

To add to this, evolutionary theory has grown up a lot since Darwin's time. not only has the basic mechanism been discovered and described (DNA, mutations etc.) but all kinds of subtleties have been described that add complexity to the whole process. None of the new discoveries have shaken evolution theory, they just add to it.
post #170 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Carson O'Genic
To add to this, evolutionary theory has grown up a lot since Darwin's time. not only has the basic mechanism been discovered and described (DNA, mutations etc.) but all kinds of subtleties have been described that add complexity to the whole process. None of the new discoveries have shaken evolution theory, they just add to it.

I asked a few pages ago, but I was wondering if someone could explain whether this

Quote:
An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (Behe 39)

is actually talking about Darwin's theories or our current ones.
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post #171 of 576
1. A fertile biological entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

2. An existence (of the earth I guess) that is too short (1 million years offered) for evolution to have occurred

So...are these the only two things that, if discovered, would falsify the theory?
post #172 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Why is is necessary to assume that the new winged pig would need to adhere to "mammalian skeletal structure"?

When one studies mammalian and vertebrate anatomy, and sees the similarities running through a broad variety of species, one can see that there is apparently a deep commonality in the genetic coding for building skeletal structures...

A skull, with similar arrangements of eye and mouth structures.
A spinal column proceeding from the skull.
A rib cage running orthogonally to the spine, forming a body cavity.

The above we even have in common with even with fish. Considering then birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other mammals...

Four limbs.
A joint in middle of each limb, with one bone close to the body, two bones on the other side of the joint leading to a hand/foot/paw.
A pentadactyl structure for that hand/foot/paw.
A pelvis.
A tail bone (vestigial in humans, but still there).

An awful lot of evolution in body shape from one kind of vertebrate to another can be seen as a very conservative series of variations upon a common theme, where all that needs to change is the regulatory genes governing the relative growth of the various bones which comprise the elements of the common structure. This allows most of the musculature to remain the same, the blood flow to remain the same, the nervous system connections to remain the same, etc., as genetic mutations alter small elements of the structure in a fairly simple way.

One would thus expect that if pressures of nature selection upon a population of pigs favored the development of wings, that this would first and foremost arise from exactly the same kinds of changes seen in practically all other mammalian speciation -- re-adaptation of existing structural elements rather the formation of totally new elements.
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post #173 of 576
Slight off topic but check this out: Soup. Infantile reasoning. Here's a quote:
Quote:
Why shouldn't kids be expected to shoot their teachers and fellow students when they are taught that their creator was primordial soup? That false teaching steals their purpose in life and the basis for their moral standards.

Another funny one on the site:
Quote:
It is critical that our youngsters understand the danger of believing evolution. If it is true, then the Bible is false. If it is true, then there can be no absolute moral standard and no sin, since we are all just animals. If it is true, then it is right to kill the weak to assist the progress of natural selection. If it is true, then the sexual taboos should be abandoned so that everyone can have sexual enjoyment with everyone else, including children and other animals.
post #174 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So you want to have it both ways then.

Send the creationists/IDers packing because of their "not apparent, discernible or known" designer/creator. But just hand wave when the absense of any antecedent occurs.

So it seems to you that if if an illness arises that has no known cause, and I suspect that cause, while subtle, will yield to careful investigation, (said investigation concentrating on previously unknown/difficult to detect environmental factors, organisms, auto-immune disorders, etc., i.e. avenues of investigation taking advantage the great body of evidentiary, experimental and theoretical know-how that has been amassed these last 150 years), that taking that course of action as opposed to simply declaring medical science "a failure" and speculating that this new illness might be a manifestation of a trans-dimensional imbalance or perhaps the sickening effects of "bad mojo", that all of that is "hand waving'.

And that putting up this process of carefully building a picture of how the world works through patient investigation and the systematized accrual of knowledge against a completely unprovable, uninvestigable, take-it-or-leave-it notion like "a designer", and finding the latter to be of a completely different order of speculation, is an example of "wanting to have it both ways", well......

Next time you get sick, see a priest.
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post #175 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
1. A fertile biological entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

This doesn't make sense. To be called fertile, a thing must be able to reproduce. For another creature to be properly called the child of the fertile creature, in a biological sense, it must be genetically related to the parent.

What are you proposing? Some sort of creature which spawns forth some sort of odd, unrelated species, which for some reason you'd decide to call "children" of that creature, even though it sounds a whole lot more like a parasites escaping from a host that you'd be describing?
Quote:
2. An existence (of the earth I guess) that is too short (1 million years offered) for evolution to have occurred

I sure hope you aren't preparing to unleash one of these disproven little nuggets like polonium halos or the age of the galaxy computed by someone who doesn't even understand that the outer stars go around the galaxy more slowly than the inner stars.
Quote:
So...are these the only two things that, if discovered, would falsify the theory?

I think a fair number of ideas have already been offered, but you have to think more of a Einstein-falsifying-Newton kind of change for the most part. A wild imagination can conceive any number of ways that evolution could theoretically be falsified, but the closer one gets to the reasonably plausible the less likely one is to come up with a "blow evolution out of the water" scenario.
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post #176 of 576
Thread Starter 
Here's a link to a little bit of the kind of thing I was talking about when it comes to skeletal structure:

Tetrapod Limbs
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post #177 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
So it seems to you that if if an illness arises that has no known cause, and I suspect that cause, while subtle, will yield to careful investigation, (said investigation concentrating on previously unknown/difficult to detect environmental factors, organisms, auto-immune disorders, etc., i.e. avenues of investigation taking advantage the great body of evidentiary, experimental and theoretical know-how that has been amassed these last 150 years), that taking that course of action as opposed to simply declaring medical science "a failure" and speculating that this new illness might be a manifestation of a trans-dimensional imbalance or perhaps the sickening effects of "bad mojo", that all of that is "hand waving'.

And that putting up this process of carefully building a picture of how the world works through patient investigation and the systematized accrual of knowledge against a completely unprovable, uninvestigable, take-it-or-leave-it notion like "a designer", and finding the latter to be of a completely different order of speculation, is an example of "wanting to have it both ways", well......

Next time you get sick, see a priest.

You are missing the point. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot simply dismiss the absence of the thing as a non-issue for the theory and then use that same reasoning to dismiss an alternative idea. It is just a wee bit dishonest and hypocritical.

No one is saying throw away the whole of science or the evidence...just be honest about what the evidence says. If there are no ancestors...say it...there are none and we don't assume one way or the other that there are. There could be, yes. There may not be also. Both are avenues of investigation.

But...back to the question. So it sounds like the absence of the ancestors is not enough to falsify.
post #178 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
This doesn't make sense. To be called fertile, a thing must be able to reproduce. For another creature to be properly called the child of the fertile creature, in a biological sense, it must be genetically related to the parent.

Okay. Fine. So this is not a valid line of falsification for the theory.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
What are you proposing? Some sort of creature which spawns forth some sort of odd, unrelated species, which for some reason you'd decide to call "children" of that creature, even though it sounds a whole lot more like a parasites escaping from a host that you'd be describing?

I wasn't proposing anything. I asked what discoveries would falsify the theory. This is one suggestion that was raised (not by me). If the general consensus is that this would be nonsense and would, in fact, not falsify the theory...okay.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
I sure hope you aren't preparing to unleash one of these disproven little nuggets like polonium halos or the age of the galaxy computed by someone who doesn't even understand that the outer stars go around the galaxy more slowly than the inner stars.

Not planning to "unleash" anything. Again...just asking what things could falsify...and looking for specifics...because vagueness allows way too much wiggle room and evasiveness.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
A wild imagination can conceive any number of ways that evolution could theoretically be falsified, but the closer one gets to the reasonably plausible the less likely one is to come up with a "blow evolution out of the water" scenario.

So are you saying it cannot be falsified?

( and if you say "no"...then tell me...specifically...what would falsify )
post #179 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
[B]You are missing the point. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot simply dismiss the absence of the thing as a non-issue for the theory and then use that same reasoning to dismiss an alternative idea. It is just a wee bit dishonest and hypocritical.

Dear lord, are you even reading what I post?

By the reasoning you are proposing, you actually, really believe (and I thought it was a fairly broad burlesque) that not knowing what causes a disease obliges me to entertain any explanation at all, excuse me "alternative idea". Right? Because if the answer isn't immediately evident, within the framework of knowledge that I have been operating in, that apparently obviates the entire framework and throws open the doors to any and all comers.

Quote:
No one is saying throw away the whole of science or the evidence...just be honest about what the evidence says. If there are no ancestors...say it...there are none and we don't assume one way or the other that there are. There could be, yes. There may not be also. Both are avenues of investigation.

And if the Hubble reveals a star with an anomalous spectra, astronomers would be well advised to keep an open mind and consider that might be looking at a star made out of aluminum foil. They would be foolish to "assume" that what they are looking at is behaving in a way that can be understood within a framework of astrophysics, but rather it would behoove them to start, tabula rasa, without any reliance on what everything they have seen so far suggests might be a fruitful avenue of investigation. Sure, the star might turn out to be made of matter, but then again, maybe not.
Maybe made out of the collective yearnings of the damned. Maybe secret sauce. Must keep an open mind.
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post #180 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So are you saying it cannot be falsified?

( and if you say "no"...then tell me...specifically...what would falsify )

I certainly don't think it's likely for evolution be falsified. But what would do the job anyway? Let me stretch for an analogy here...

Suppose I believe that I've developed an unbreakable window. What's a good way to leave that claim open for falsification? Leaving the window out in the open, and letting anyone toss anything at it that they like, should do the trick.

If I really, truly believe that I've done my job well making the window unbreakable, and you ask me, "Well, what would it take to break the window?", all I do is shrug and say something like "Whatever you manage to make hit one side and come out the other." Since as far as I know I've covered all of my bases, it's hard to imagine what would actually do the trick -- but I've still left myself open for the possibility of falsification by leaving the window out in the open, accessible to any conceivable attack.

A theory that isn't falsifiable is like claiming my window is unbreakable, but then locking my window in a concrete bunker and surrounding it 24/7 by heavily armed guards. You can't break the window this way, but the window itself isn't getting tested, just the defensive perimeter surrounding it, conveniently deflecting all challenges.

I'll give an example of trying to falsify ID, and how I've heard some ID/creationist defenders use "logic" which essentially creates a guarded concrete bunker instead of an exposed pane of glass open to real testing...

I think it's fair to say that if something is Intelligently Designed that its design should be... drum roll, please... intelligent! The less intelligent the design of living creatures seems, the less likely ID comes off as a good explanation. But who's judgement of what's intelligent and what's not am I allowed to apply?

I say that the human eye is a great example of BAD design. It's not very smart at all. (You can google more about this if you like, starting with the problems of having the blood vessels and nerve fibers of the retina running in front of the retina, in the way of the path of light, instead of along the back of the retina -- a better "design" which can be found in the eye of, for example, the octopus.)

A typical challenge to my view of the eye goes like this: "You think it's bad? Well, smart guy! Show me you can make a better one!" My inability, however, to manufacture eyeballs has nothing to do with whether or not I can spot bad design, just like my inability to play piano has nothing to do with my ability to hear and recognize an obviously sour note.

Another counterpoint goes like this: "Maybe you're simply not smart enough to see the advantages that this seemingly bad design has."

It could be true. Maybe I'm not smart enough. But if I'm not smart enough to judge a design bad, what makes you sure you're smart enough to judge that a design is good?

This is a perfect set-up to try to turn any challenge to the ID proposition into a limitation of the attacker before it can do any damage to the proposition itself. Think this creature is intelligently designed? Great! So do we! Think it isn't? Well, that's your problem for failing to see how intelligent the design really is!
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post #181 of 576
shetline, I wonder if I could rephrase Chris's question a bit. Part of the problem in falsifying evolution at this point is that there's so much evidence - virtually everything we know to be true about the world - that is consistent with evolution, that it would take a helluva lot, at this point, to falsify it.

But what about in 1850? Many things weren't known or understood when evolution was first proposed. Genetics for one. The age of the earth for another. The fossil evidence and how it relates to geologic strata.

Looked at in that way, evolution has been falsified before. Darwin didn't know about genes, and so had a very different view of the way traits are inherited, and therefore of the way that evolution works. The whole punctuated equilibrium debate was about how evolution doesn't normally seem to occur very gradually as first proposed. Evidence has changed - in a sense, falsified - earlier conceptions of evolution.
post #182 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Suppose I believe that I've developed an unbreakable window. What's a good way to leave that claim open for falsification? Leaving the window out in the open, and letting anyone toss anything at it that they like, should do the trick.

But what if the community you expect to throw things at the window tries to change the definition of "window"? or "unbreakable"? or "break"? or "toss"? or "falsification"?

Don't forget:

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality judiciously, as you will we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
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post #183 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Looked at in that way, evolution has been falsified before. Darwin didn't know about genes, and so had a very different view of the way traits are inherited, and therefore of the way that evolution works. The whole punctuated equilibrium debate was about how evolution doesn't normally seem to occur very gradually as first proposed. Evidence has changed - in a sense, falsified - earlier conceptions of evolution.

Darwin's notion of natural selection is also pretty thoroughly philosophically Romantiche notes at a number of points in Origin of Species that "nature" is this kind of thing that's looking out for the species. It's really, really creepy to read a bunch of Romantic poetry about nature as the way we apprehend God and then turn around and read Darwin.
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post #184 of 576
It is sounding like the theory cannot be falsified. It is beginning to look like everything on the original list has been eliminated.

I am not talking about analogies of broken windows. With due respect...saying "falsifying my claim of an unbreakable window is done by breaking it" is a tautology. Same here, saying that "The theory of evolution can be falsified by anything that falsifies it" is tautilogical and unsatisfying. What is that "thing"?

It is really a simple question...what discovery would falsify (without equivocation or qualification) this theory?

P.S. I am not talking about the probability or likliness of it happening...perhaps that is low (as some here obviously think).
post #185 of 576
I think there's a name for theories that cannot be falsified.
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post #186 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
With due respect...saying "falsifying my claim of an unbreakable window is done by breaking it" is a tautology.

That's not a tautology. If the window breaks than it's not unbreakable. A tautology would be something like "unbreakable windows can't be broken." If you "claim" or theorize that a particular window is unbreakable, that claim or theory can be falsified by breaking the window.
post #187 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
I asked a few pages ago, but I was wondering if someone could explain whether this

'An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (Behe 39)'


is actually talking about Darwin's theories or our current ones.

I saw that and was going to answer but then everybody started talking about irreducible complexity (IC) like it was common knowledge.

Whatever, it is my understanding that IC is one the main arguments ID uses against evolution theory. It has nothing to do with Darwin, although I think Darwin actually did make mention of the difficulty in explaining the evoultion of complex structers. Simply put, they argue that complex structures, biochemical pathways etc can not arise by random mutation becasue the intermediate forms would be non-functional hinderences. Often mentioned examples are the eye, flagella and the clotting system of blood.
post #188 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
It is sounding like the theory cannot be falsified. It is beginning to look like everything on the original list has been eliminated.

Are you trying to build up to "Well, evolution can't be good science because you're not giving me a way to falsify it!"? We have given you ways, but I think you're discounting them because either, (A) they don't offer much hope for the utter, devastating, crushing, the-whole-thing-collapses-in-ruin kind of defeat you crave, or (B), you're not counting any avenue of attack as a valid candidate for a means of falsification if evolution has already survived all challenges so far which have come via that avenue of attack.

A proper theory leaves open avenues of attack... but a really good theory survives all of those attacks. If you're not getting that distinction, then you're in danger of the very weird conclusion that the more successful a theory is, the less scientific it is.

Quote:
I am not talking about analogies of broken windows. With due respect...saying "falsifying my claim of an unbreakable window is done by breaking it" is a tautology. Same here, saying that "The theory of evolution can be falsified by anything that falsifies it" is tautilogical and unsatisfying. What is that "thing"?

But the answer isn't any one thing. (Giant has already addressed well the fact that the above is not a tautology.)
Quote:
It is really a simple question...what discovery would falsify (without equivocation or qualification) this theory?

"How high is up?" is also a simple question, but that doesn't make the question make sense or mean there's a simple answer.

Not that analogies seem to help (in fact you seem to dislike them), but I'll try, try, try again...

Imagine you have a business. You ask me, "What could make my business fail?"... Do you imagine that there's any one answer to this?

One thing that can make a business fail -- and this makes a fairly good analogy to a scientific theory -- is a superior competitor. What's a superior competitor to your business going to look like? Well, hell! If you could answer that with any precision, chances are you could adapt before that competitor came along. The superior competitor that causes your business to fail will, in some way or another, probably catch you by surprise.

In a way, you might as well be demanding "What's the superior competitor to evolution?" -- and, damn it, you're not going to settle for vague answers, you want THE answer!

But if I could answer the question in the manner you seem to demand an answer, I'd be off getting my research grants and planning my Nobel acceptance speech.

Just like you could only describe the general factors and conditions which might possibly cause your business to fail, we can only describe in general terms the nature of those things which might falsify evolution, and then provide hypothetical examples of what some of those means of falsification might look like.
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post #189 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Why?

Because evolution requires a lineage of change.

Period.

This is a way to falsify the theory.
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post #190 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Are you trying to build up to "Well, evolution can't be good science because you're not giving me a way to falsify it!"? We have given you ways, but I think you're discounting them

Wooaaa! Slow down there Tex! I am not trying to discount them. I am willing to let them stand. But there always seems to be a hedge or qualification (not by me) that "no...such and such would not falsify the theory, because of...".

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
A proper theory leaves open avenues of attack... but a really good theory survives all of those attacks.

No argument. But there must be something which can be said that, if discovered to be true (however unlikely) would disprove/falsify evolution.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
But the answer isn't any one thing.

Then it would seem it is not a theory in the proper sense of it. Not me making this stuff up...so don't try that line.

Quote:
Falsifiability is an important concept in the philosophy of science that amounts to the apparently paradoxical idea that a proposition or theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false.

Falsifiable does not mean false. For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition to be false, even if that observation had not been made. For example, the proposition "All crows are black" would be falsified by observing one white crow.


Quote:
Originally posted by shetline

Imagine you have a business. You ask me, "What could make my business fail?"... Do you imagine that there's any one answer to this?

One thing that can make a business fail -- and this makes a fairly good analogy to a scientific theory -- is a superior competitor. What's a superior competitor to your business going to look like? Well, hell! If you could answer that with any precision, chances are you could adapt before that competitor came along. The superior competitor that causes your business to fail will, in some way or another, probably catch you by surprise.

Again with the crappy analogies?

A business is not a scientific theory.

This is really simple...if the "theory of evolution" is a scientific theory, then it stands to reason that is must be falsifiable. What discovery (however unlikely or improbable in your view) would disprove evolution?
post #191 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Because evolution requires a lineage of change.

Period.

This is a way to falsify the theory.

So if a species was discovered that had traits from two different evolutionary linneages?
post #192 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So if a species was discovered that had traits from two different unrelated evolutionary linneages?

Fixed it, and sure.
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post #193 of 576
I don't think I'm hedging Chris. It's just that I've given you a few examples of how evolution could be falsified, and then when you put them into your own words, I try to clarify what I'm saying.

Here are the ones that I've given you or agreed to:

1. If organisms did not pass down traits to their offspring
2. If the earth was found to be young (e.g., 10,000 years old)
3. If an irreducibly complex organ was found
4. If fossils were found to line up in geologic strata randomly rather than according to the predictions of evolution

I'm sure there are more (obvious ones like if there was no variation in life or if there was no commonalties among different species), but those are some plausible ones that have been at issue at one time or another.
post #194 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
I don't think I'm hedging Chris. It's just that I've given you a few examples of how evolution could be falsified, and then when you put them into your own words, I try to clarify what I'm saying.

I actually don't think you were. I appreciate your clarity. I apologize for the broad sweep.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell

1. If organisms did not pass down traits to their offspring
2. If the earth was found to be young (e.g., 10,000 years old)
3. If an irreducibly complex organ was found
4. If fossils were found to line up in geologic strata randomly rather than according to the predictions of evolution

I think what we're seeing is wide range of opinions even on those items as to whether they would indeed falsify.

For example #1 and #3 were more or less dimissed by someone at one point as being non-sensical or non-existent. #2 was given a longer time frame...1,000,000 years vs. your 10,000 that's a big range.
post #195 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Fixed it, and sure.

What makes them "unrelated"?
post #196 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla, in response to my "But the answer isn't any one thing.":
Then it would seem it is not a theory in the proper sense of it. Not me making this stuff up...so don't try that line.

You may not be making anything up, but you're reading something into this which simply isn't there. The definition of falsifiable that you quote says nothing about whether the criteria for falsification are as simple and definitive as you seem to want them to be, that these criteria have to be some simple, singular thing which utterly falsifies a given proposition.

The example you quoted is this: "...the proposition 'All crows are black' would be falsified by observing one white crow."

Evolution is a bit more complex than "All crows are black", so it shouldn't surprise you that the criteria for falsification don't come down to something as simple as a single white crow blowing it all away.

If fact, just make the sample proposition a little different, and falsification becomes much more complex: "Most crows are black."

The above is still a perfectly valid proposition, and perfectly falsifiable, but falsification is no longer as simple as "one white crow" any more. There's nothing about the principle of falsification to guarantee that it's always going to be clear cut or easy.

Let's assume that "most" means anything over fifty percent. The occasional sighting of a white crow or a blue crow or a red crow isn't much of a challenge to the proposition in this form, but...
  • Frequent sighting of non-black crows could be a challenge, as long as these sightings reach statistically significant levels.
  • Criticisms of the sampling techniques which lead to the proposition in the first place that "most crows are black" could falsify the proposition, such as if all of the original observations of crows were made during daytime hours, but it turns out there's an abundant population of brown crows which are nocturnal and which weren't originally accounted.
  • Corresponding to the idea of improved precision of measurement, perhaps it turns out, when you look carefully, that a lot of the crows you thought were black are really navy blue -- this could falsify the proposition.
For each of these challenges, there's a possible save:

Most crows east of the Rocky Mountains are black. (Presuming most of the non-black crows were sighted to the west.)
Most diurnal crows are black.
Most crows are very dark in color.

You could end up arguing whether the modified propositions have much value any more (at least we're not down to "Most crows are crows" yet!), you could argue that the challenges were based on bad data, you could feud over sampling techniques and the quality of work the various crow researchers were doing... simply extrapolating from an awfully simple example, it's easy to see how the world of science can be very contentious at times, and why it can take years for some issues to settle down and for consensus to emerge.

If "most crows are black" is this complex, of course falsification of evolution is even more complex. This isn't a dodge, this isn't dishonest hedging it's just messy reality.

This messiness aside, you did already mention one damn good challenge perhaps it wouldn't utterly destroy evolutionary theory, but it would put the theory in deep, deep trouble beyond which significant recovery might not be possible: Strong evidence that the planet is only one million years old or less. That would come about as close to the "one white crow" kind of falsification as you're going to get for something as complex as evolution.
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post #197 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
What makes them "unrelated"?

Well everything is related to everything else with evolution (this is however not true in theories that do not include evolution).

However, in this case, I am using a sense of related that refers to how far back in geologic time two species diverged. For instance, according to evolutionary theory humans are not likely to suddenly (see above) evolve wings with feathers; however, there is some chance that they will develop more nipples than 2.
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post #198 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline

If fact, just make the sample proposition a little different, and falsification becomes much more complex: "Most crows are black."

The above is still a perfectly valid proposition, and perfectly falsifiable, but falsification is no longer as simple as "one white crow" any more.

Right...it would have to be at least 50% of the crows. Still a very specific (and measurable) statement.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Let's assume that "most" means anything over fifty percent. The occasional sighting of a white crow or a blue crow or a red crow isn't much of a challenge to the proposition in this form

You are discussing what it might take to discover the falsifying data. The statement "if 50% of the discovered crows are not black" is still a very clear and specifically falsification statement. How (or whether) you find out that data is a completely separate matter.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
Strong evidence that the planet is only one million years old or less. That would come about as close to the "one white crow" kind of falsification as you're going to get for something as complex as evolution.

So, if the earth could (I'm not saying it can) be proven to be 1,000,000 years (or less) old it would disprove the theory of evolution?
post #199 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Well everything is related to everything else with evolution (this is however not true in theories that do not include evolution).

However, in this case, I am using a sense of related that refers to how far back in geologic time two species diverged. For instance, according to evolutionary theory humans are not likely to suddenly (see above) evolve wings with feathers; however, there is some chance that they will develop more nipples than 2.

So we are still a bit fuzzy here.

What would constitute a sufficient level of "separation" in evolutionary linneages to say that A should not have the same trait as B? How is this measured? And is this still reasonable? I mean, why should we assume that two different, widely divergent creatures could/would not develop similar traits? It seems evolution would allow this (differing survival needs, environment, etc.)
post #200 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

So, if the earth could (I'm not saying it can) be proven to be 1,000,000 years (or less) old would disprove the theory of evolution?

Disproving the combined weight of all the evidence collected in the last 150 years in the fields of geology, paleontology, cosmology and genetics, by extension yes, it would disprove evolutionary theory in an instant.
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