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A.DIM
2007-Jan-23, 03:43 PM
Scientific theories should predict, right?

Please predict something based on neoDarwinism....





I just realized I've requested predictions rather than asking how evolution theory predicts.

grant hutchison
2007-Jan-23, 03:55 PM
You want something else, I suppose, other than the many intermediate forms that have been anticipated, based on theorized lines of descent, and which subsequently turned up in the fossil record?

Grant Hutchison

A.DIM
2007-Jan-23, 03:58 PM
Yes, something in the future, not describing the past.

"Anticipation" and "predicition" are not synonomous in my mind.

Swift
2007-Jan-23, 04:09 PM
Evolution predicts bacteria will develop resistance to antibiotics. I know biologists and biochemists can be even more precise than that, such as predicting in more detail how quickly this will happen, given the mechanism of a particular drug and how it is used (sorry, I don't know the details).

Here (http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/evo_science.html) is a website from tufts with Evolution predictions, though I'm not sure if that is what you are looking for (more explanation of past events, than predicting the future).

More stuff (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA210.html) from talkorigins. I thought this quote is particularly interesting

The predictive power of science comes from being able to say things we would not have been able to say otherwise. These predictions do not have to be about things happening in the future. They can be "retrodictions" about things from the past that we have not found yet. Evolution allows innumerable predictions of this sort.

Isn't that true of much of cosmology - they are not so much predicting the future, but describing past events (big bang, development of stars and galaxies).

A.DIM
2007-Jan-23, 04:15 PM
Thanks Swift, I'll get to the websites and review their info.

This question really arose from Tulip's "Astrology" thread where I've seen people repeatedly ask for predictions, and that if it can't predict future events then it is "unscientific."

I mean, would Science and "skeptics" accept Astrology's ability to make retrodictions as it does with Evolutionary theory?

grant hutchison
2007-Jan-23, 04:17 PM
Yes, something in the future, not describing the past.

"Anticipation" and "predicition" are not synonomous in my mind.The process of scientific prediction is just one of the scientist stating: "According to this theory, if I ask the Universe this question, it will give this answer." All the answers are already out there, waiting for the question. So the use of evolutionary theory to "predict" certain categories of fossils is no less scientific than, say, the astronomers who "predicted" volcanic activity on Io before the first Voyager pictures: the volcanoes were always there; it was our ignorance at the time of the prediction that lent weight to the underlying theory used to anticipate the observational evidence.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2007-Jan-23, 04:24 PM
I mean, would Science and "skeptics" accept Astrology's ability to make retrodictions as it does with Evolutionary theory?One of the things that undermines astrology is its inability to make retrodictions of a scientific kind when ignorant of the correct answer. Astrologers fail when asked to cast retrospective horoscopes: given details of someone's birth circumstances and the astronomical circumstances of a particular past time, they can't retrodict that person's life events during that time.

Grant Hutchison

Saluki
2007-Jan-23, 05:17 PM
I mean, would Science and "skeptics" accept Astrology's ability to make retrodictions as it does with Evolutionary theory?

A retrodiction implies anticipation of something that has already happened, but was not previously known. If you use astrology to "retrodict" guy named Hitler would become dictator of Germany, run roughshod over Euorpe, and commit horrible atrocities, you are proving nothing.

On the other hand, if you (without knowing anything about me other than my birthdate) could use astrology to "retrodict" that I would break my right wrist on Friday October 23, 1981 playing a pick-up game of tackle football, and then go through my medical records to show that this event indeed happened, then you would be on to something.

GOURDHEAD
2007-Jan-23, 05:44 PM
A-Dim, did you mean astronomy, not astrology?

Ken G
2007-Jan-23, 06:07 PM
Also, keep in mind with astrology the problem is not just the failure to either predict or retrodict actual events. An even more significant problem, which makes it not just bad science but horrendous science, is that its predictions and retrodictions are usually false, if the answer is not known in advance. The reason they are usually false is that they are as random as any system that is based on irrelevant information, and random predictions have a lot more chance of being false than true. For example, I once heard someone say that when Mercury is in retrograde (which is of course just an illusion due to Earth's motion and has nothing at all to do with Mercury), machinery is more likely to break. That's a false prediction, and might lead you to expect things to break, so you might be afraid to fly in an airplane or drive a car. If something does break, and things do of course, you can always say "see, I told you", but that's not a prediction because things always break. The greater problem is that if you adjust your behavior expecting things to break, which is the only way astrology could affect you and not just your beliefs, then you are making decisions based on false predictions.

An even more glaring example was in the news lately. The head of an online insurance company claimed to have looked at data that suggested that particular astrological signs were unsafe drivers. If this information was truly of predictive power, and not just a random hindsight correlation, then it would be natural to hike the insurance rates of everyone born in that period of the year. What do you think would happen if insurance companies universally adopted that approach? We would see the real problem with astrology when it informs actions, rather than just informing beliefs.

astromark
2007-Jan-23, 06:41 PM
Humanities inability to except the finite realization that life is some times short and very terminal. Is of some amusement to me. Born out of fear of death is the belief structure that has spawned all sorts of unfounded belief structures. Astrology is one of these.
So to ask if we can present evidence to support the evolutionary track by making predictions of some thing as yet unknown. The short answer is no. However this issue is not as clear as that. The fact that some species of animal will become extinct is some part of your answer. The fact that I and you will die is also a fact that can be stated as fact. Making predictions of what may happen next does not make the method used any more valid than a guess if that method is not based on real fact and evidence.

Tim Thompson
2007-Jan-24, 05:38 AM
This question really arose from Tulip's "Astrology" thread where I've seen people repeatedly ask for predictions, and that if it can't predict future events then it is "unscientific."
Astrologers do claim that they can make very specific predictions about people, far in advance, based on astrological elements. Asking them to actually do what they claim they can do seems fair & reasonable to me. It also seems fair & reasonable to point out the miserable failures of astrology in that regard.

On the other hand, the nature of "prediction" in science is poorly understood by non-scientists. Specific predictions of specific events are possible only when there is an extremely precise model, calibrated by comparison with real data. We can, for instance, predict the motion of the planets in the solar system with formidable precision. But, then again, just try predicting the temperature at Sunrise Beach, at the Lake of the Ozarks, at 19:15 (local time), on March 22, 2017. Good luck. The point here is that scientists only claim to be able to make predictions to the extent that their models can support the predictions. Accuracy & precision are extremely model dependent.

Like big bang cosmology, "Darwinian" evolution (the modern theory is somewhat different than Darwin had in mind in many respects), is not a theory, despite being called just that. It is a "meta-theory", a theory about theories. Basically it boils down to decent with modification. To the extent that "decent with modification" allows predictions, then evolution predicts lots of things. But they are not very precise predictions. Precision requires a detailed model, in evolution as in physics. There are competing detailed models of evolution, just as there are competing detailed models of big bang cosmology. Is evolution dominated by selection, or neutral variation? Is the Bak-Sneppen model (based on criticality) a valid model of evolution? What about evidence for self-organized criticality in the fossil record (i.e., Newman, 1996 (http://arxiv.org/abs/adap-org/9607002))? All of these are indications of various, competing models for the mechanism of evolution. Their predictive power is somewhat similar to the predictive power of cosmological models. In both cases the predictions are model dependent, and in both cases, waiting around to see if the prediction is valid may not be an option :)

Ken G
2007-Jan-24, 07:59 AM
And that is all right on, but let us also not forget what Grant pointed out early on-- descent with modification predicts (or retrodicts) that there should be a fairly continuous thread of modifications leading to any major attribute change. The more complete the fossil record becomes, the more we see just that. It's a highly successful prediction that we have seen, and likely will continue to see, this trend.

Getting back to the OP, I think Tim's weather analogy does point to a problem in defining science in terms of its predictive power. To me, science is a mode of inquiry, it is a prescription for accumulating scientific knowledge. If you want to gauge whether or not a particular view of how humans got here is scientific, just look at the process that was used to generate that view. It's really just that simple.

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-24, 10:04 AM
QUOTE]On the other hand, the nature of "prediction" in science is poorly understood by non-scientists. Specific predictions of specific events are possible only when there is an extremely precise model, calibrated by comparison with real data. We can, for instance, predict the motion of the planets in the solar system with formidable precision. But, then again, just try predicting the temperature at Sunrise Beach, at the Lake of the Ozarks, at 19:15 (local time), on March 22, 2017. Good luck. The point here is that scientists only claim to be able to make predictions to the extent that their models can support the predictions. Accuracy & precision are extremely model dependent.[/QUOTE]

Hello,

I am a new member and find this site to be interesting and informative.

It seems true that most astrologers do claim to predict the future and this will continue until they are required to make a disclaimer as to the reliability of the exactness in both the nature and timing of their predictions.

In spite of my screen name I do not consider myself to be an astrologer but a researcher and most of the work I have done was that. Long ago (about 30 years) I came across a method which seemed to provide excellent results when looking at events which had already occurred , as far as appropriate astrological symbolism highlighted at the time of an event.

My technique uses only what is present in nature as a foundation. The points in a horoscope known as the midheaven and ascendant are already made in right ascension. I continued in this vein by recording planetary positions in right ascension rather than ecliptic longitude. I tossed out the astrological trappings of signs, houses, rulerships, planetary dignities, exaltations, fall, and detriment, everything save the nature of influences assigned to the Sun, Moon, and planets by astrologers.

I then took a particular type of chart and applied a technique which is not astronomically correct. I advanced the midheaven of the chart by the arc transcribed by the Moon, as viewed from earth, from the time of inception of the chart to the time of an event. It worked. And it has continued to work for more than 30 years. Along the way I have found tweaks to enhance the accuracy of the technique as an astrological tool.

Thing is there were astrologers with some very good educations (degrees and such - professional people) who faulted my technique because it was "not astronomically correct" to progress a chart in this manner. This from people who use signs, houses, etc., (all that stuff I listed above). After a brief period of jousting I decided to let the results speak for themselves and would post resultant charts for whatever came along. When I correctly surmised that the space shuttle Columbia had probably exploded over the West coast as a result of studying my charts, and that trouble actually began further West, before the location of the explosion was released in the news, the opposition finally came around.

The programmer of a full scale astrology program announced he was going to add this technique to his program but he gave credit for the technique to another well known astrologer until I pointed out that the person had merely described my technique, the manual steps to which I had posted in many places along with examples of charts made using the technique. I have received credit for my work.

I have never been in the inner circle of the astrological community. Never been published. Never lectured at one of their conferences. Never even been to one. Never belonged to an astrological organization. Still don't, never will.
I have joined a number of astrological communities online (I have something good to offer them and they are an excellent source for data). Just as I taught myself how to do astrological charts, I taught myself how to write the formulas for my technique into computer programs and did so. Then I condensed them from 8 to 4, made them into a zip file and have posted them in various astrological communities where they are available for free.

I have, in more than one astrological community, posted that astrologers, nor astrology, can exactly predict the future for any entity. As Tim stated, such a thing is model dependent. And even having all possible data that may be applied astrologically it is still not possible to state the degree of intensity of an anticipated event (, whether it will manifest physically, mentally, or emotionally (most likely a combination of several of those) nor its exact nature. At any rate, from my body of work spanning 30 years, with consistent results, there is something at work. I just don't know what. Except that maybe God does not play dice with the universe.

Bob

djellison
2007-Jan-24, 10:57 AM
At any rate, from my body of work spanning 30 years, with consistent results, there is something at work.

Consider history as a line of events. You could then draw another line - a wobbling, random line that goes in the general direction of the History line. 99.999% of that line will be nowhere near the line of history - but occasionally - the two might cross. Pure chance - nothing else. Depdending on how wandering that line is, how long you are prepared to draw for - you might find it crosses the line of history many times - but it doesn't follow it - and there are an infinite number of points on your wandering line that could identify a an infinite number of alternative histories that didn't happen.

Whereas - soemthing like Evolution has identified specific points along the line of history and has built a theory of events that, every time we find a new piece of evidence - are sat firmly on the line that evolution draws - and that line sits on top of the line of history.

Neither astrology nor the theory of evolution can predict the future. BUT - patterns within evolution can be extrapolated to identify trends that will continue - the trend for bacteria to evolve to survive drug treatments - the trend for new species to evolve more adapted to more environments.

Strangely - it is our own intelligence in the fields of medicine etc that actually counters the progress of evolution and whilst we may see evidence of evolution within other species - our OWN species runs the risk of evolving backwards to a total dependence on environments of our own making, including dependence on medical science to lead a 'normal' life.

Doug

Ken G
2007-Jan-24, 02:41 PM
At any rate, from my body of work spanning 30 years, with consistent results, there is something at work. I just don't know what.

I think you will find that many people on this forum have a pretty good idea "what" is at work-- it is the creativity of the human mind to find, after the fact, confirming instances for many things, while tending to overlook or ignore or interpret away the refuting instances. This is why "double blind" tests were created, in a nutshell. I strongly suspect that you have never subjected your predictions or retrodictions to double blind tests. They way they would work is, you would make your predictions about some events of which you have no personal knowledge, and then a second set of predictions would be created using your same program except randomizing the astrological inputs that you use. Then the two predictions would be delivered to someone else who does not know which is which, and they are to choose which one seems more appropriate to what happened, or what ends up happening. The test must be repeated a statistically significant number of times, and you must have no input into the judging of the predictions, and it must always be unknown until the end which predictions were which. When you have conducted that test under carefully controlled conditions (to assure no "cheating", intentional or accidental), then you will know. Don't be surprised to find a 50-50 result about how often your predictions are chosen as better than the random ones.

The point is, this is science. It's not anecdotes about the Space Shuttle, it's the concept that if something is objectively real, as you claim it is, then it will show up as clear as day in tests of this nature. Feynman once said words to the effect that science is a set of rules to keep you from fooling yourself, in recognition that you are the easiest person to fool. This is true for all of us, it's just too easy to fool ourselves if we are not using science. Note that I'm talking about the objective capability of your approach to predict events-- not the value you find in applying it, which is subjective.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-24, 08:37 PM
... For example, I once heard someone say that when Mercury is in retrograde (which is of course just an illusion due to Earth's motion and has nothing at all to do with Mercury)...

Plus, there's the fact that Mercury is an inferior planet so it never exhibits retrograde motion!!!

Edited to add: apparently, this is wrong.
See this post http://www.bautforum.com/showpost.php?p=911901&postcount=19

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-24, 08:45 PM
Here's a prediction that Modern Evolutionary Theory (NB not neo-Darwinism) makes:

Every single fossil that has yet to be unearthed will fit into a scheme based on common descent with modification (i.e. it has a place in the "tree of life"). This scheme is, of necessity, one of nested hierarchies.

This is a hard, falsifiable prediction. It can also be considered a retrodiction, thus: fossils that were unearthed (say) 50 years ago, but of which I am unaware, will also fit this scheme.

Potential falsification is straightforward: any fossil that simply will not fit into such a scheme would consititute evidence against common descent with modification. I think I'm now in danger of regurgitating bits of TalkOrigins.

Look at these pages:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

Ken G
2007-Jan-24, 10:04 PM
Plus, there's the fact that Mercury is an inferior planet so it never exhibits retrograde motion!!! :naughty:

Sure it does-- if one defines retrograde motion as moving through the stars in the opposite sense that the Sun does. When Mercury passes inferior to the Earth, it is in retrograde. (In a sense, the inferiority "cancels" the faster speed of Mercury, so you get retrograde any time a planet is closest to the Earth.) Obviously you can't see Mercury most of the time it's in retrograde, so I don't know if it is actually possible to observe the tail end of this phase, but I presume it is or it would not be included in astrology. Backyard astronomers?

Delvo
2007-Jan-24, 11:24 PM
Potential falsification is straightforward: any fossil that simply will not fit into such a scheme would consititute evidence against common descent with modification.I'm no creationist, but that is a logically weak presentation because it allows a creationist and an "evolutionist" to reach opposite conclusions about the same organism. Show them both a new and sufficiently unfamiliar organism or fossil, and the former could say "this is completely new thing that doesn't fit your scheme" while the latter says "this thing represents a new category my scheme didn't have before, but it has it now, so now the new thing fits anyway".

Delvo
2007-Jan-24, 11:27 PM
Evolutionary theory doesn't need "retrodiction" to coutn as a form of "prediction" in order to count as making predictions. It has actually predicted future events as well, particularly those made by people involved in breeding and genetic engineering programs.

Ken G
2007-Jan-24, 11:28 PM
Show them both a new and sufficiently unfamiliar organism or fossil, and the former could say "this is completely new thing that doesn't fit your scheme" while the latter says "this thing represents a new category my scheme didn't have before, but it has it now, so now the new thing fits anyway".

But "descent with modification" cannot have completely new things just appearing. If such a fossil was found, it would be necessary to keep looking for its predecessors to establish the continuous chain. If that were impossible to do despite considerable effort, it would indeed falsify evolution as we know it. "Missing links" can appear, but they are generally fairly easy to extrapolate the general trend across, and are interpretable as fossil discoveries that have so far not been made but will leave certain people with egg in their face when they are found (it's happened already). There aren't any "new categories" that just sprout up completely out of the blue, and that's telling enough.

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-25, 12:40 AM
patterns within evolution can be extrapolated to identify trends that will continue

Exactly what an astrologer does with astronomical patterns.

Bob

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-25, 12:52 AM
I have, in more than one astrological community, posted that astrologers, nor astrology, can exactly predict the future for any entity.

This line should have read...'posted that NEITHER astrologers, nor astrology, can exactly predict the future for any entity'.

Bob

Ken G
2007-Jan-25, 01:08 AM
Exactly what an astrologer does with astronomical patterns.


Do they really? How do you know those trends would survive double blind testing, not just anecdotal stories? Indeed, all of this suggests a remarkably effective way to test the theory of evolution, that I don't know has been carried out. A collection of fossils depicting, say, three different evolutionary sequences could be scrambled and presented to non-experts, along with a few "fake" fossils that don't exist and don't follow the sequence. The non-experts could be asked to try and separate the three sequences, and identify the fakes that don't fit. Finally, a "control" group could be given just the first and last fossils in the sequences, and no fakes. If evolution is not a valid description of the process that generated those fossils, then the group with the full sequence should do no better at connecting the first and last than the control group, and they should not reliably be able to identify the fakes. And if it is....

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-25, 01:29 AM
I think you will find that many people on this forum have a pretty good idea "what" is at work

I am not familiar with the use of the quote technique here so I hope this post comes out alright. My reply to the above is - Not unless you have a working knowledge of astrology.


....double blind tests. They way they would work is, you would make your predictions about some events of which you have no personal knowledge, and then a second set of predictions would be created using your same program except randomizing the astrological inputs that you use. Then the two predictions would be delivered to someone else who does not know which is which, and they are to choose which one seems more appropriate to what happened, or what ends up happening.... Don't be surprised to find a 50-50 result about how often your predictions are chosen as better than the random ones.

The point is, this is science. It's not anecdotes about the Space Shuttle, it's the concept that if something is objectively real, as you claim it is, then it will show up as clear as day in tests of this nature. ...Note that I'm talking about the objective capability of your approach to predict events-- not the value you find in applying it, which is subjective.

In the technique I use only the positions of the Sun, Moon, eight planets, and the spatial relationships between them as they may apply to eight points in space are used to extrapolate the nature of an infinite number of possible outcomes. It can be easily deduced that similar situations, while they may be timed extremely close, will have various levels of intensity due to mitigating factors. Cause of death has many variations but the end result is the same. Again I suggest that a working knowledge of astrology is necessary to the discussion of this topic

Bob

Ken G
2007-Jan-25, 02:00 AM
Again I suggest that a working knowledge of astrology is necessary to the discussion of this topic



That is certainly incorrect. I am not asking anything about your method, I'm asking about your technique for demonstrating it really works. That is what defines valid science, not its conclusions.

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-25, 04:07 AM
Here are the steps in the technique. The methodology is the same every time. If I have not proven to you that it produces consistent results within the constraints I have mentioned you certainly have not proven to me that it does not.

Bob

Ken G
2007-Jan-25, 04:10 AM
Well, there's the rub about making a claim-- the onus of proof is on the person making the claim, not the skeptic who says, "how do you know"? If you really wanted to know the objective truth, it would be easy enough to test. That you have not done so is clear proof that your hunger to know the truth is surpassed by your desire to be right. This, my friend, is just not the way science is done.

cjl
2007-Jan-25, 04:14 AM
There is a thing however called the burden of proof. In any case with someone presenting a new claim, such as that they are in possession of a working method of astrology, the burden of proof lies squarely on their shoulders. In other words, it is not up to us to prove to you that it does not work. Rather, it is up to you to prove that it works. This is a classic scenario of Van Rijn's Elf. If you really feel strongly that your astrological method works, you would not object to any one of the wide variety of tests that would conclusively show that it works.

George
2007-Jan-25, 04:21 AM
Please predict something based on neoDarwinism....
May I suggest a Darwin prediction from his Origins? [ultra-neo :)]

He predicted that if one sees an abundance of red clover in a meadow, that there were be a larger than normal number of cats in the area.

Why? Because red clover is polinated by bees, mice destroy bee hives, cats destroy mice.

unique_astrology
2007-Jan-25, 05:01 AM
Well cjl I have my proof. Without a working knowledge of astrology you would not understand my proof and I am not here to teach you how to do astrological charts. If you want my proof then you must ground yourself with at least the basics of horoscope construction. If you will not then I fail to see how you can question its efficacy.

In any case I do not object to any tests of the technique. You will not study it and I won't try any further to have you do so, but you may be missing a chance to observe a different aspect of the workings of the universe.

Bob

01101001
2007-Jan-25, 05:42 AM
Well cjl I have my proof.

Please, take your proof to ATM (http://www.bautforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17) and share it with others if you wish. This subforum is for Q&A about astronomy and space, with answers coming from the mainstream. Take your astrology claims elsewhere. Please?

Thanks!

Cite: Rules For Posting To This Board (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?p=564845), in Rule 13:


Additionally, keep promotion of your theories and ideas to only those Against the Mainstream or Conspiracy Theory threads which discuss them. Hijacking other discussions to draw attention to your ideas will not be allowed.

George
2007-Jan-25, 05:56 AM
If you will not then I fail to see how you can question its efficacy. If you would like to know how it can be questioned, and it can, as advised, start an ATM thread; don't accept failure to see.


In any case I do not object to any tests of the technique.That is encouraging. Are you seriously willing to engage in a scientifc test?

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-25, 12:46 PM
I'm no creationist, but that is a logically weak presentation because it allows a creationist and an "evolutionist" to reach opposite conclusions about the same organism. Show them both a new and sufficiently unfamiliar organism or fossil, and the former could say "this is completely new thing that doesn't fit your scheme" while the latter says "this thing represents a new category my scheme didn't have before, but it has it now, so now the new thing fits anyway".

Not so. Any new, previously-unknown fossil must perforce be related to existing fossils or extant organisms. It must fit somewhere. I'll grant you that I can conceive of situations where placement would be difficult, and some where placement could be ambiguous without finding more fossils related to the new one, but it will fit somewhere.

Every fossil must represent an organism that is descended from an ancestor of something that is alive today. No matter how distant the relationship, a relationship must exist. Modern paleontology, in conjunction with the existing fossil record, will find a place for a new fossil, based on common descent with modification.

That is what evolutionary theory predicts.

Conversely, any new fossil will always fit a creationist's scheme, because they are not constrained by nested hierarchies.

Additionally, creationists are frequently claiming that the fossil record has gaps, that there are no transitional series, that evolution cannot explain fossils X, Y and Z, but this is all nonsense. There are some remarkably good transitional series. Here are two, presented by Talk Origins for laypeople:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/horses/horse_evol.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/
As for there being gaps in the record, that is because fossilisation is a rare event, and the older the fossil, the less likely it is to be well-preserved. And, AFAIK, every existing fossil that has been described in the literature fits into the scheme of nested hierarchies.

Furthermore, if you look again at my first post, you will see that my claim was not that a creationist and a rational person would reach the same conclusion, but that evolution makes predictions that can be tested. You seemed to read more into what I posted than was there.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-25, 12:49 PM
Sure it does-- if one defines retrograde motion as moving through the stars in the opposite sense that the Sun does. When Mercury passes inferior to the Earth, it is in retrograde. (In a sense, the inferiority "cancels" the faster speed of Mercury, so you get retrograde any time a planet is closest to the Earth.) Obviously you can't see Mercury most of the time it's in retrograde, so I don't know if it is actually possible to observe the tail end of this phase, but I presume it is or it would not be included in astrology. Backyard astronomers?

I stand corrected. I had thought retrograde motion was only a property of the superior planets.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-25, 01:04 PM
...patterns within evolution can be extrapolated to identify trends that will continue - the trend for bacteria to evolve to survive drug treatments - the trend for new species to evolve more adapted to more environments.


Actually, I think this is not usual. In a very few cases, we can predict likely adaptations (such as drug resistance in bacteria, but note that we cannot predict the mechanism by which this occurs). However, for the most part, our knowledge of organisms and the ways in which they interact with their habitat is too limited to be able to predict which adaptations will confer the greatest advantage.

For example, there was an instance recently of a population of lizards living on an island to which a predator was recently introduced. At first, the lizards evolved longer legs, because this enabled them to run faster. However, subsequently, they evolved shorter legs coupled with a behavioural change, because it turned out that tree-climbing was a better evasion strategy than running away. This all took place in the space of a year.

The lizard is Anolis sagrei, and I read about it in the 23/30 December issue of NewScientist (p13).

So, you see, it is dangerous to extrapolate from observed trends, because evolution only acts on what works best now.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-25, 01:10 PM
Going back to the OP, another thing that evolutionary theory predicts is that the genes of related organisms will also be related, and the degree of kinship will be greater for more closely-related organisms and less for more distantly-related organisms.

This is a prediction that arises from common descent with modification in the context of genetics. It has been confirmed many times.

eburacum45
2007-Jan-25, 08:27 PM
Any new, previously-unknown fossil must perforce be related to existing fossils or extant organisms. It must fit somewhere. I'll grant you that I can conceive of situations where placement would be difficult, and some where placement could be ambiguous without finding more fossils related to the new one, but it will fit somewhere.

Every fossil must represent an organism that is descended from an ancestor of something that is alive today. No matter how distant the relationship, a relationship must exist. Modern paleontology, in conjunction with the existing fossil record, will find a place for a new fossil, based on common descent with modification.


Except where the fossil or fossils concerned are entirely novel and have left no descendants; the Ediacaran Biota (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ediacaran_biota) might be an example if we had not already discovered them. I would not be entirely surprised if other examples of entirely novel groups were discovered in rocks from the Neoproterozoic, or whatever it is they call that period nowadays.

Kaptain K
2007-Jan-26, 09:55 AM
Nowhere in the linked article does it say that these organisms developed independently (without links to other concurrent lifeform) and died off without leaving any descendents that can be traced to later organisms. Thus, Dr Nigel's point stands. There is still a link, either pre or post to the "tree of life" that we can trace to the present.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-26, 10:26 AM
Except where the fossil or fossils concerned are entirely novel and have left no descendants; the Ediacaran Biota (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ediacaran_biota) might be an example if we had not already discovered them. I would not be entirely surprised if other examples of entirely novel groups were discovered in rocks from the Neoproterozoic, or whatever it is they call that period nowadays.

Thanks for the link, eburacum45. Very interesting. I was mainly thinking of vertebrate fossils at first. Having said that, I still contend that, even if it requires many years of work (and perhaps the discovery of more fossils to clarify the picture), any newly-discovered fossil must fit in the scheme somewhere.

Of course, science always allows the hypothesis "we don't know", something that creationists seem to abhor. For the sake of argument, let's consider a situation in which a new fossil is discovered in 570-million y.o. sediment. It doesn't resemble any previously-known fossils, so the scientists say "we don't know", publish a description of the fossil, propose a name (let's call it X), then return to the field to find more fossils. So, the type specimen of X sits in a drawer in a museum and no-one knows where it fits in the scheme. Evolutionary theory predicts that it will fit somewhere - but it doesn't predict that we will necessarily be able to work out where it fits.

Years pass, and more fossils are discovered from that same bed. A picture starts to build up of the flora and fauna existing at that time. Morphologic relationships start to appear, and, perhaps after a couple of false starts, a phylogenetic tree is assembled for that collection. What is likely at this point is that two or three credible placements are proposed for X, but that X cannot be placed with confidence. More data are needed. If, however, X cannot be placed even tentatively, this is a problem: either it is not related to the other fossils, or there are many more organism that lived at that time of which we know nothing.

X would remain a puzzle to be solved, until we could, with confidence, declare that the relationships from that time have been resolved. Either X can be placed or it can't. If X still doesn't fit, then it becomes a serious challenge to the theory. However, I would put my money on it fitting in somewhere.

One of the problems with really old fossils is trying to work out how representative a fossil collection is of the fauna that existed at the time the organisms died. We know that fossilisation is a rare event. We know that fossilisation is much rarer for soft-bodied organisms than for organisms with hard shells or hard bones. We know that soft parts of hard-shelled or hard-boned organisms are only rarely fossilised. So, if we look at the Ediacaran fauna, we see a hundred or more different organisms. We can only guess how many organisms existed at the time represented in the fossil bed, but that either did not become fossilised, or became fossilised but have not been uncovered. Thus, for these times, proposing relationships is a difficult business.

Even so, relationships can be proposed with some measure of confidence. I notice that several of the Ediacaran fossils in your link are described as resembling organisms that exist now. If these fossils were uncovered as newly-discovered today, we would immediately be able to make a few tentative proposals about relationships.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-26, 10:27 AM
Oops. Kaptain K posted while I was composing. Still, I think the additional point was worth making.

Kaptain K
2007-Jan-26, 10:53 AM
Agreed!

eburacum45
2007-Jan-26, 12:54 PM
I am certainly not arguing against evolution; but my point is that there may be entire phyla or even kingdoms and domains of life in the early fossil record which do not fit in with the rest of Earthly life.
This idea is related to the so-called 'shadow biosphere' concept we have discussed elsewhere on this forum, and simply goes to show that the tapestry of life, and of evolution, on Earth may be even more rich and complex than we yet appreciate.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-26, 03:52 PM
I can see your point, eburacum45, but the whole thing about common descent is that all organisms are related. For there to be an entire kingdom (or several phyla) of which we are unaware is fine - but for these to be unrelated to any known life is tantamount to saying that life started more than once, and lines of descent from both starts survived for many hundreds of millions of years (i.e. long enough that we can find fossils from both lines).

The only problem with this from my point of view is that one of the required conditions for abiogenesis is no competition from established life (based on several assumptions that would take me off-topic to expound). Which implies that both the postulated lines started at the same time. Not impossible, but considerably less likely than a single abiogenesis event.

eburacum45
2007-Jan-26, 04:35 PM
One possibility I have heard recently is that a shadow biosphere may develop from organisms imported by lithopanspermia from elsewhere, especially Mars. This has been suggested to explain the high tolerance to radiation shown by several extremophiles.
Another possibility is that abiogenesis occured in separate oceans, and each biosphere did not compete with the other until millions of years later. After all, we can't test the proterozoic biota for DNA, so it may be possible that entire domains of organisms unrelated to each other co-existed on Earth at that time, but ours is the only survivor.
More likely is the possibility that abiogenesis occured only once, but the step from single celled organism to multicelled organism occured more than once and independently.
edit- Perhaps a number of failed multicellular lneages developed before ours did; if they died out with no descendants they would only be linked to the rest of the tree of life via their single celled ancestors, and such a link would be difficult to establish.
I am not saying this definitely occured; but the possibility remains.

YankeeJeff
2007-Jan-27, 10:56 PM
From one of my very favorite places to visit here in NY, the American Museum of Natural History...http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/endless/

From the article...

"A PREDICTION
Darwin first saw this astonishing orchid from Madagascar, Angraecum sesquipedale, in 1862. Its foot-long green throat holds nectaróthe sweet liquid that draws pollinatorsóbut only at its very tip. "Astounding," Darwin wrote, of this strange adaptation. "What insect could suck it?" He predicted that Madagascar must be home to an insect with an incredibly long feeding tube, or proboscis. Entomologists were dubious: no such insect had ever been found there.

Charles Darwin died in 1882, and more than 40 years later, his insight was confirmed. A naturalist in Madagascar discovered the giant hawk moth, which hovers like a hummingbird as its long, whip-like proboscis probes for the distant nectar. The moth's scientific name, Xanthopan morganii praedicta, honors the prediction of the scientist who never saw it, but whose theory told him that it must exist."

I saw a recent documentary (I think on the science channel) where someone camps out all night (w/ modern night vision video technology) and captures, for the first time, video of the giant moth feeding as Darwin predicted -more than 100 years later.

George
2007-Jan-27, 11:32 PM
I saw a recent documentary (I think on the science channel) where someone camps out all night (w/ modern night vision video technology) and captures, for the first time, video of the giant moth feeding as Darwin predicted -more than 100 years later.
A great example. I remember seeing this show also. Very cool.

Occam
2007-Jan-27, 11:47 PM
I don't believe in astrology because I have the analytical mind of a true Aquarian :D

Isn't it about time that evolution ceased to be a theory? Its process can be demonstrated not only in the fossil record but it is evident in every aspect of nature. It is a proven and verifiable fact and no more a theory than Newtonian motion.

SolusLupus
2007-Jan-28, 12:27 AM
Isn't it about time that evolution ceased to be a theory? Its process can be demonstrated not only in the fossil record but it is evident in every aspect of nature. It is a proven and verifiable fact and no more a theory than Newtonian motion.

Well... which part becomes law, and which becomes theory?

Because either way, there's going to be *some* aspects of evolution that will remain theory.

Ken G
2007-Jan-28, 12:37 AM
I hate to split hairs, but this is probably an important hair to split. That Darwinism predicts a long proboscis is a test passed for the theory, but it is not necessarily a distinguishing element from other theories. Indeed, I have never seen a suggested mechanism for generating species that would not make a similar prediction about Madagascar. If you judge evolution purely based on function, you will never really be able to distinguish it from all the other theories that are also based on function!

Delvo
2007-Jan-28, 01:46 AM
Weird... I thought I'd already entered this...

Darwin was writing at a time when people (despite lack of evidence) assumed the continents had to stand still. Distribution of groups of flora and fauna (apparently related forms on certain parts of separate continents but not other parts of the same continents or even other places separated by seemingly shorter distances of water) caused him to propose that (to paraphrase) "we don't actually know that the continents have always been in their current arrangement"... meaning that the lands containing those life forms now had once been together. The idea that the continents move and sometimes join or split would not be accepted by geologists until the 1960s due to lack of a credible mechanism for how.

Ken G
2007-Jan-28, 02:09 AM
Yes, that is a much more telling prediction of Darwinism-- that the continents must have to move to allow the propagation of such similar organisms! Very impressive indeed. I was a similar type of geological evidence that gained the theory of plate tectonics mainstream status-- apparently no one was suggesting the rocks were formed with supernatural mechanisms.

aurora
2007-Jan-28, 03:54 AM
Well... which part becomes law, and which becomes theory?

Because either way, there's going to be *some* aspects of evolution that will remain theory.

All of science is theory. Works pretty well, though, since you are reading my words on a screen.

I like this quote from the IgNobel web site, regarding a previous award to the...


The Kansas State Board of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education, for mandating that children should not believe in Darwin's theory of evolution any more than they believe in Newton's theory of gravitation, Faraday's and Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, or Pasteur's theory that germs cause disease.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-28, 09:58 AM
One possibility I have heard recently is that a shadow biosphere may develop from organisms imported by lithopanspermia from elsewhere, especially Mars. This has been suggested to explain the high tolerance to radiation shown by several extremophiles.

That's a very interesting thought, but very difficult to confirm. Another explanation for high radiation tolerance in extremophiles is that it is a consequence of their other adaptations.

Edited to add: The scenario predicts that traces of life will be found on Mars (or some other place or places). To date, we have no compelling evidence that there is or has been life in the Solar System anywhere other than Earth (or originating from Earth, if you count Apollo and the possibility of microbes hitching a ride on the Pioneer and Voyager probes).


Another possibility is that abiogenesis occured in separate oceans, and each biosphere did not compete with the other until millions of years later. After all, we can't test the proterozoic biota for DNA, so it may be possible that entire domains of organisms unrelated to each other co-existed on Earth at that time, but ours is the only survivor.

Yes, this is possible. It would, however, require a fairly specific set of circumstances. What I mean is, for this to produce the scenario in which we might find a fossil that is unrelated to anything else, the two lineages would need to coexist to the formation of multicellular organisms, and then one lineage would subsequently die out. This feels inherently unlikely. What seems to me to be a more likely result from this scenario is that each lineage's organisms would spread until they meet, whereupon they would compete with one another. Over the aeons, whichever was less successful would become extinct before the evolution of multicellular forms.

It is possible that there would be traces in the genomes of organisms alive today of competition with this other lineage, but I don't believe it has ever been postulated as an explanation in the recent scientific literature.


More likely is the possibility that abiogenesis occured only once, but the step from single celled organism to multicelled organism occured more than once and independently.

I agree, this is possible, and more likely than the above. It still requires the two appearances of multicellularity to appear at around the same time (otherwise one lineage of multicellular forms would be too well-adapted for the second to compete with).


edit- Perhaps a number of failed multicellular lneages developed before ours did; if they died out with no descendants they would only be linked to the rest of the tree of life via their single celled ancestors, and such a link would be difficult to establish.
I am not saying this definitely occured; but the possibility remains.

Yes, I agree that this is possible, but, in the absence of any evidence to clarify the matter, I will follow Occam's principle: while such scenarios are possible, and would confound my claim about predictions, there is no need to suppose that they occurred until the evidence compels us to.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-28, 10:03 AM
Isn't it about time that evolution ceased to be a theory? Its process can be demonstrated not only in the fossil record but it is evident in every aspect of nature. It is a proven and verifiable fact and no more a theory than Newtonian motion.

Occam, this point has been raised and addressed elsewhere. For example, see here:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

It all boils down to what you mean when you use the word "evolution". Evolution itself means change over time, and is a demonstrable fact in the fossil record and in laboratory experiments. Evolutionary Theory comprises a unifying principle and a set of mechanisms that explain how and why this change occurs.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-28, 10:13 AM
I hate to split hairs, but this is probably an important hair to split. That Darwinism predicts a long proboscis is a test passed for the theory, but it is not necessarily a distinguishing element from other theories. Indeed, I have never seen a suggested mechanism for generating species that would not make a similar prediction about Madagascar. If you judge evolution purely based on function, you will never really be able to distinguish it from all the other theories that are also based on function!

I'm not so sure, Ken G. The complementarity of the hawk moth's proboscis and the orchid's flower is indeed a prediction of evolutionary theory. Other, competing, theories (such as Lamarckian modification) would not explain how the two came to match, because they do not supply the constraints that (a) modification is gradual, and (b) everything in between has to work. A Lamarckian mechanism would necessarily propose that one organism changed and then the other changed to adapt to it, but it could not supply an explanation for (a) how the organisms survived in between, and (b) why the first change happened.

Kwalish Kid
2007-Jan-28, 02:44 PM
Conversely, any new fossil will always fit a creationist's scheme, because they are not constrained by nested hierarchies.
This does not have to be the case, nor is it borne out by this history of biology. There are a number of creationist theories that flat-out fail (and were rejected) on the weight of evidence.

Take, for example, the theories that claim that God created organisms to fit their environment. While the vast majority of organisms do fit their environment, there are also other characteristics and parameters that govern the nature of characteristics. We need only recognize that organisms tend to be related morphologically not only to others in similar environments, but also to organisms in nearby environments to see that there are important biological observations missed entirely by the fit-to-environment creationist theory.

In the history of biology, we see people developing often quite sophisticated creationist theories that fit available facts. However, new evidence overwhelmed these theories. In most cases, the predictions of evolution were much better than the predictions of any creationist theory.

Now, it is possible to take a position, or perhaps a series of positions, and modify one's position when contradictory evidence comes along. Many creationist theories were so modified, though none, if any, survive without wholly incorporating evolution. However, if one is never going to possibly accept an organism as a problem for one's theory (the way that many intelligent design proponents seem to do), then one can't really gather evidence from those organisms either. And this is a problem for a biological theory.

R.A.F.
2007-Jan-28, 03:55 PM
In the history of biology, we see people developing often quite sophisticated creationist theories that fit available facts. However, new evidence overwhelmed these theories. In most cases, the predictions of evolution were much better than the predictions of any creationist theory.

In most cases??

Please provide those cases where creationist theory predicted reality better than evolutionary theory.

SolusLupus
2007-Jan-28, 04:08 PM
All of science is theory. Works pretty well, though, since you are reading my words on a screen.

So the "laws of physics" should be called the "theories of physics"?

If we call physical laws "laws", why not call evolution "evolutionary law"? This seems rather pedantic.

Kwalish Kid
2007-Jan-28, 04:35 PM
In most cases??

Please provide those cases where creationist theory predicted reality better than evolutionary theory.
The purpose of my statement was to point out that there were cases where predictions made the difference between the success or failure of a creationist theory. We might consider, in some cases, that some creationist theories failed on the basis of available evidence and not on the basis of predictions. (This hinges on one's definition of prediction.)

I don't know of any set of observations where a creationist theory has faired better in its predictions than a standard evolutionary theory. That said, there are creationist theories that do not make predictions regarding (or come out equal on) a select set of observations. On the wider balance of evidence, however, these theories fair poorly when compared to evolutionary theories.

MG1962A
2007-Jan-28, 04:47 PM
The purpose of my statement was to point out that there were cases where predictions made the difference between the success or failure of a creationist theory. We might consider, in some cases, that some creationist theories failed on the basis of available evidence and not on the basis of predictions. (This hinges on one's definition of prediction.)


The vapour suspension theory has some serious issues. The amount of water needed to be held in the atmosphere for it work, would suggest every air breathing life form on the planet would drown

Ken G
2007-Jan-28, 05:35 PM
I'm not so sure, Ken G. The complementarity of the hawk moth's proboscis and the orchid's flower is indeed a prediction of evolutionary theory. Other, competing, theories (such as Lamarckian modification) would not explain how the two came to match, because they do not supply the constraints that (a) modification is gradual, and (b) everything in between has to work.How does your example show either of those?
A Lamarckian mechanism would necessarily propose that one organism changed and then the other changed to adapt to it, but it could not supply an explanation for (a) how the organisms survived in between, and (b) why the first change happened.

I'm not clear on that either, but it doesn't matter-- use a creationist model. Works fine. Of course it fails other scientific tests, but not that one. "ID" type models are all about function-- so beware using that as a "proof" of evolution!

satori
2007-Jan-28, 06:18 PM
First : what is neo-darwinian theory as opposed to darwinian th. ?
second (relating to the beginning of this thread and the atempts to falsify astrology) : I think it has become mainsteam in the scientific commun. to demand (with Popper) from a sound theory, that it be falsefiable (and then that it passes the ensueing falsification tests). But is such a formal proceeding really nessessary for so ill and arbitrarily concieved theories as astrology, intelligent design or creationism ? Aren't there other obvious criteria which disqualify them in the eyes of a reasonable person. One diminishes one self as an intelligent beeing if one sticks to predefined procedures and does not allow oneself to Think Straight what one Sees Straight ! If i declared i could see with my eyes closed to the earliest light in time, you would not undertake to falsify me ....

grant hutchison
2007-Jan-28, 06:34 PM
Aren't there other obvious criteria which disqualify them in the eyes of a reasonable person. One diminishes one self as an intelligent beeing if one sticks to predefined procedures and does not allow oneself to Think Straight what one Sees Straight ! And in what way do the "other obvious criteria" you commend differ from the "predefined procedures" you deprecate? If your "other obvious criteria" are coherent and reliable, then they are already part of a scientific worldview, or will be readily adopted by science. If they are not, then they are not science.

Grant Hutchison

satori
2007-Jan-28, 06:52 PM
now come on grant huchison,
their must be the possibility of agreement and understanding without allways having to detail out the source code of one's thinking (which one can't anyway).
There have been reasonable people around even before the "Advent of the Great SCIENTIFIC METHOD".
If you smell a bad apple you won't buy it right?
You trust your ophtalmologic systhem and won't start a formal critique about the reliabillity of your senses.

Delvo
2007-Jan-28, 07:28 PM
I don't know of any set of observations where a creationist theory has faired better in its predictions than a standard evolutionary theory.Have you ever seen creationists describe particular examples of plants or animals with traits that don't seem explainable by evolution? An "evolutionist" could say there was a way for it to happen by evolution and we just don't know what it was yet, but a creationist just sees the lack of a real evolutionary explanation for such cases and says that they're examples of the facts fitting creation better because creation has no problem at all with them.

grant hutchison
2007-Jan-28, 07:53 PM
their must be the possibility of agreement and understanding without allways having to detail out the source code of one's thinkingIt's a poor and silly sort of agreement and understanding, however.


If you smell a bad apple you won't buy it right?
You trust your ophtalmologic systhem and won't start a formal critique about the reliabillity of your senses."Olfactory", in this instance, but I know what you mean. :) But that's just science; people use the scientific method every day, without realizing it. It is my experience that apples that smell that way taste bad and make me sick. If I care to, I can carry out an experiment, and eat the apple despite my misgivings as to its smell. Yeck, it made me sick again; confirmatory evidence. I have learned something about the world by observation and experiment.

Grant Hutchison

Kwalish Kid
2007-Jan-28, 08:03 PM
First : what is neo-darwinian theory as opposed to darwinian th. ?
Usually, the term "neo-darwinian" is used to separate contemporary evolutionary theory (which has access to greater statistical methods and knowledge of genetics) from the evolutionary theory proposed by Darwin.

second (relating to the beginning of this thread and the atempts to falsify astrology) : I think it has become mainsteam in the scientific commun. to demand (with Popper) from a sound theory, that it be falsefiable (and then that it passes the ensueing falsification tests). But is such a formal proceeding really nessessary for so ill and arbitrarily concieved theories as astrology, intelligent design or creationism ? Aren't there other obvious criteria which disqualify them in the eyes of a reasonable person.
I am in agreement there. Speaking as a philosopher of science, I find Popper to be lacking, even though he is quite popular. If we do away with the science/pseudoscience distinction, we can simply say that astrology is a poor science, or a science that does poorly in the face of the evidence.

Have you ever seen creationists describe particular examples of plants or animals with traits that don't seem explainable by evolution? An "evolutionist" could say there was a way for it to happen by evolution and we just don't know what it was yet, but a creationist just sees the lack of a real evolutionary explanation for such cases and says that they're examples of the facts fitting creation better because creation has no problem at all with them.
I have never seen an example of a biological trait that is not explainable through evolution. I have seen people claim that such traits exist, but I have never seen an example of such a trait.

satori
2007-Jan-28, 09:30 PM
thank you Kwalish Kid for your response,

but i am a little puzzled by your remark to my second point. First you seem to agree with me, next you point to the (really) bad evidence situation of AT ("astrological theory") as its principal invalidator.
I vaguely remember a Newtonian phrase about his getting the idea to gravity. I think it went like "....anybody schooled in philosophical reasoning...." (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) couldn't accept a notion of Moon going round Earth without a mediating force (reaching space point for space point all the way up !) Now you could tell that the simple logic of a farmboy (what Newton indeed was) , but he was right. And later was Farraday right when he immagined an unvisible "field" carrying an"action" from point to point through space. And Farraday hadn't visited even school. That is to say , we have an inate sense for what is reasonable and what not. As i said we can smell a rat. We are selfillusionaly idealizing ourselves,if we proclaim that we inferred all our judgments (concerning the resonability of a theory) from The Scientific Method.

satori
2007-Jan-28, 10:18 PM
Ehhhm now back to Darwins theory.
I Muust say, i have Never Ever had Any doubts about the (basic) validity of "Evolution". I find this "theory" allmost selfevident , allmost coming close to a logical truism. So WHY go even to the length of validating this in the field..... Yes, yes i know there was a cultural battle to do.... and still is with you guys in America.
And as in any war, you will look for every weapons and amunitions that you can grab.
Now i am still a little grvitating around my pet theme these days , namely the "scientific method". From what i said above you can inferre that i don't hold the Empirical part of this method as the more importend one. I would think a good theory should first and formost be Conceptiual Sound (now i can't give you a "METHOD" for deciding what that may be...)!!!
In math you never do empirics. An yet has there never been a more truthfull method ever ! Reason for that - sound concepts, sound reason! (Sounds reasonable?)
good night.

Kwalish Kid
2007-Jan-29, 02:17 AM
thank you Kwalish Kid for your response,

but i am a little puzzled by your remark to my second point. First you seem to agree with me, next you point to the (really) bad evidence situation of AT ("astrological theory") as its principal invalidator.
I'm not sure what your second point is.

I vaguely remember a Newtonian phrase about his getting the idea to gravity. I think it went like "....anybody schooled in philosophical reasoning...." (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) couldn't accept a notion of Moon going round Earth without a mediating force (reaching space point for space point all the way up !) Now you could tell that the simple logic of a farmboy (what Newton indeed was) , but he was right.
Newton was hardly a simple farmboy. He was quite schooled and adept at a number of scholastic disciplines. Newton's Principia is all about justifying laws of universal gravity in the absence of a theory of the mediation of that force. The standard thinking of natural philosopher of Newton's day was that celestial motions were the result of direct action of minute particles.

And later was Farraday right when he immagined an unvisible "field" carrying an"action" from point to point through space. And Farraday hadn't visited even school. That is to say , we have an inate sense for what is reasonable and what not. As i said we can smell a rat. We are selfillusionaly idealizing ourselves,if we proclaim that we inferred all our judgments (concerning the resonability of a theory) from The Scientific Method.
In the case of both Newton and Farraday, there is a large body of evidence and reasoning that supported their work.

Gillianren
2007-Jan-29, 03:27 AM
Newton was hardly a simple farmboy. He was quite schooled and adept at a number of scholastic disciplines.

Right. He was certainly born on a farm, but since the house in which he was born has the word "manor" in its name, that by itself pretty much indicates that "simple farmboy" is not what he was. Besides, he was a student at Cambridge (home when the school was briefly shut down because of the Plague, if I recall) when he really developed the beginnings of his theories of gravity.

Ken G
2007-Jan-29, 04:37 AM
Now i am still a little grvitating around my pet theme these days , namely the "scientific method". When the scientific method is viewed as a detriment to scientific progress, we are in far more trouble than creationism ever put us in.


From what i said above you can inferre that i don't hold the Empirical part of this method as the more importend one. Then you know nothing at all about science. Science is all about empiricism, in the sense of being able to make measurements. The reason for this is that measurement is one of the most reasonably close to objective things we have at our disposal (mathematics, including formal logic and all other scripted mental processes, being arguably the other most objective human pursuit). No one knows why measurement is so close to objective, but that's the basis of science, while mathematics is designed from the ground up to be objective. Why there is such a remarkably close connection between these two is perhaps the greatest mystery of science. But without empiricism, all you have is formal thought process-- then science would be no more than playing chess (you'd only get out what you put in). Empiricism is where nature gets into the equation, other than the ultra-subtle fact that thought itself is a natural process. I'm sure we're nowhere close to fitting that last fact into the scheme, so let's leave that out for the next few millennia shall we?


In math you never do empirics. That may be formally true, but not in practice. To say there is no empirics in math is to say that 2+2=4 is purely a definition of that particular relation between those symbols, and the self-consistent pictures you can generate to help you remember what the symbols mean, like diagrams of how chess pieces move. I think most people who use mathematics would tend to say that the usefulness of the concepts require empirics (2 is like 2 apples, addition is like combining them, 4 is what you get, and can arrive at by mathematically equivalent ways and it all hangs together). I agree you can say that the mathematics part is purely the definitions and the self-consistency of the algebraic structure, but it comes at a cost-- you still need empirics to infuse this with any real-world importance that doesn't exist in chess or checkers.


An yet has there never been a more truthfull method ever !
To me, the only thing surprising about that is Godel's theorem. Without that, we would just say that mathematics just gives you back what you put in, like the "truth" of checkmate. It has its own rules, its own way of establishing truth, and all its truths fall within that closed system-- it is designed to work. But I can't say why it isn't closed-- why are more things true than you embedded into the system with any finite set of axioms? It seems there is more there than our minds can put into it. Let's call that an equal mystery to why it has anything to do with science.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-29, 07:45 PM
This does not have to be the case, nor is it borne out by this history of biology. There are a number of creationist theories that flat-out fail (and were rejected) on the weight of evidence.

Take, for example, the theories that claim that God created organisms to fit their environment. While the vast majority of organisms do fit their environment, there are also other characteristics and parameters that govern the nature of characteristics. We need only recognize that organisms tend to be related morphologically not only to others in similar environments, but also to organisms in nearby environments to see that there are important biological observations missed entirely by the fit-to-environment creationist theory.

In the history of biology, we see people developing often quite sophisticated creationist theories that fit available facts. However, new evidence overwhelmed these theories. In most cases, the predictions of evolution were much better than the predictions of any creationist theory.

Now, it is possible to take a position, or perhaps a series of positions, and modify one's position when contradictory evidence comes along. Many creationist theories were so modified, though none, if any, survive without wholly incorporating evolution. However, if one is never going to possibly accept an organism as a problem for one's theory (the way that many intelligent design proponents seem to do), then one can't really gather evidence from those organisms either. And this is a problem for a biological theory.

Good point. I was considering only the not-very-detailed "Goddidit" creationism.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-29, 07:53 PM
How does your example show either of those?

I'm not clear on that either, but it doesn't matter-- use a creationist model. Works fine. Of course it fails other scientific tests, but not that one. "ID" type models are all about function-- so beware using that as a "proof" of evolution!

OK, Ken, I was trying to answer in the context of a theory that once was a competitor of evolution. Modern evolutionary theory has no competitors and I do not consider ID to be a theory in a scientific context.

A Lamarckian model does not require gradual change of morphology over many generations. It also does not supply the constraint that stages between one form and another must succeed. Ergo, when considering the orchid and the moth, Lamarckian inheritance can speculate about both the moth and the orchid (i.e. how did they become so specialised?), but it lacks explanatory power: there is no explanation of why the changes occurred.

At the end of the day, the example of the moth and the orchid is a valid response to the OP. Does ET make predictions? Yes. Would this particular prediction distinguish the theory from other, competing, theories? Maybe not.

Dr Nigel
2007-Jan-29, 08:05 PM
Usually, the term "neo-darwinian" is used to separate contemporary evolutionary theory (which has access to greater statistical methods and knowledge of genetics) from the evolutionary theory proposed by Darwin.
...

There is more to it than that, I think.

Simplifying slightly, Darwinian theory is the theory proposed by Darwin: common descent and natural selection.

Neo-Darwinism was assembled in the early half of the 20th century after the re-discovery of Mendel's work on genetics. Hence, "neo-Darwinism" is a theory that incorporates knowledge of genetics in the context of common descent and natural selection.

Modern evolutionary theory (sometimes called the "modern synthesis") also incorporates information from molecular biology (e.g. mutation and recombination) as well as other mechanisms for change from other fields within the biological sciences (such as genetic drift and sexual selection). It also allows for the the insights of Eldredge and Gould (who proposed the "punctuated equilibria" model) inasmuch as it permits a variable rate of evolution.

Ken G
2007-Jan-29, 10:20 PM
OK, Ken, I was trying to answer in the context of a theory that once was a competitor of evolution. Modern evolutionary theory has no competitors and I do not consider ID to be a theory in a scientific context.
Fair enough, neither do I, but then no one considers Lamarckian models to be valid possibilities either. We have genetics now. So my question is, exactly what currently debated theories of evolution would not predict that those long proboscuses would exist, thereby affording Darwinism with unique explanatory power? I'm saying that I think Darwin is hitting a pretty large bullseye with that one. What you really need is the whole record of how the process played out, not just the end result, because the truly powerful prediction of Darwinism is that a particular type of process must have occured to yield that end result. ID, on the other hand, whether scientific or not, is all about end results.

Dr Nigel
2007-Feb-03, 05:27 PM
OK, Ken, but, to consider our ability to distinguish between competing theories, we must consider the state of knowledge as it existed when those theories were competing.

At the time Darwin made his prediction, ID (as proposed by Paley) had already been demolished. The only theories that competed with Darwin's were other evolutionary theories, formulated in the absence of any knowledge of genetics.

Modern ID does not make any predictions. It simply says "not evolution, therefore design". I do not believe any ID proponent, when faced with a previously-unknown species, will be able to make predictions about its interactions with its habitat. Other than, "the designer made it that way, so it works somehow".

Assuming that some ID proponents eventually get off their wordprocessors and do some fieldwork.

snarkophilus
2007-Feb-03, 10:42 PM
Please predict something based on neoDarwinism....


Here's my favourite: Tiktaalik roseae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik). Why? Because evolutionary theory predicted that they should find this fossil in this layer of rock, and they found it.

(Also, because I like the name. It's pretty.)

The orchid one is pretty cool, too.

I have a prediction for the west coast of North America. In the next 30 or 40 years, a subspecies (if that is the right word) of pine which is resistant to Dendroctonus ponderosae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_pine_beetle) will develop and begin to flourish, probably in BC. Seems like a natural sort of prediction to make.

Dr Nigel
2007-Feb-04, 12:24 AM
Yes, Tiktaalik is a good example. I had forgotten about it until I read your post, Snarkophilus.

I think, BTW, that "subspecies" will do, although you could probably also use "strain" or "variant".

Ken G
2007-Feb-04, 05:18 AM
Modern ID does not make any predictions. It simply says "not evolution, therefore design". I certainly would not classify ID as science, but my main beef on that score is that all its main conclusions are reverse-engineered from pre-existing nonscientific assertions. But I think that the intelligent proponents of ID (and there are some) tend to make the point that biological systems are typically understood in practice more by how they function, what their purpose is, than how they evolved. That isn't evidence that ID is the correct explanation, and we've already agreed is it not a scientific explanation anyway, but it is evidence that the importance of the theory of evolution for studying existing biological systems is often overstated.

I do not believe any ID proponent, when faced with a previously-unknown species, will be able to make predictions about its interactions with its habitat. Other than, "the designer made it that way, so it works somehow".On the contrary, this is just the point I'm making. The easiest thing to do, upon discovering a new critter, would be to make predictions about its interactions with its habitat, independently of whether one is applying evolution or ID to the understanding of how it got there. For example, if you find a new small critter rooting around in the brush in a heavily wooded region, you will probably predict that this beastie can climb trees, regardless of which origination model you are using.


Assuming that some ID proponents eventually get off their wordprocessors and do some fieldwork.
Not likely-- that's only for people with a sincere desire to find out if they are right or not.

Dr Nigel
2007-Feb-04, 03:55 PM
I certainly would not classify ID as science, but my main beef on that score is that all its main conclusions are reverse-engineered from pre-existing nonscientific assertions. But I think that the intelligent proponents of ID (and there are some) tend to make the point that biological systems are typically understood in practice more by how they function, what their purpose is, than how they evolved. That isn't evidence that ID is the correct explanation, and we've already agreed is it not a scientific explanation anyway, but it is evidence that the importance of the theory of evolution for studying existing biological systems is often overstated.

I think I'm starting to see your point a bit clearer now, Ken. I think the importance of evolution to a field of biological research can vary, but it depends on the level of detail you want to get into. At the level of a vertebrate organism, you can learn a lot by observation, but the kind of things to watch out for can be informed by knowing how its closest relatives behave. At the level of physiology, you will always be designing experiments within the context of knowing about the physiology of this organisms close relatives (even if that knowledge is vague or patchy). If you look at the cellular level, you are getting into areas where you will see more extensive similarities with other organisms (for instance, all animal cells [with a couple of exceptions] contain a nucleus, mitochondria, a Golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum). If you go to the molecular level (whether looking at proteins or DNA), you start to see broader similarities between different kingdoms. The relationships between different organisms will always be a part of the background knowledge that informs experimental design, and may be directly related to the experiments themselves.


On the contrary, this is just the point I'm making. The easiest thing to do, upon discovering a new critter, would be to make predictions about its interactions with its habitat, independently of whether one is applying evolution or ID to the understanding of how it got there. For example, if you find a new small critter rooting around in the brush in a heavily wooded region, you will probably predict that this beastie can climb trees, regardless of which origination model you are using.

I feel you are right in part, but I'm not wholly convinced. The predictions must have some kind of basis. This basis could be purely morphological - the organism has sharp, hooked claws and short limbs, so is likely to be a tree-climber. And this is all any theory that denies common descent would have. But, if you can take that morphology and put it into the context of other organisms to which that creature is related, you can make more detailed predictions about such things as its diet, range, nesting habits and so on. Comparing the organism's anatomy to that of its close relatives would give you the information you needed to be able to do this.