Re: Limits of Kinds (was Fall of evolved man)

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Sun, 09 Nov 1997 11:42:41 -0500 (EST)

At 07:53 PM 11/7/97 -0600, Glenn Morton wrote:
>At 09:02 AM 11/7/97, Moorad Alexanian wrote of my list of mammalian species:
>>Is it fair to say that the analysis you are using is like taking a few
>>points, the experimental data, and connecting them according to a hypothesis
>>that you are assuming. Of course, this is done every day in experimental
>>science but there additional points can be provided by further experiments.
>>However, in studying the history of the earth, the number of experimental
>>points are very limited and thus the weakness of the conclusions one can
>>derive from such data. It seems that the points may not be connected at all.
>>Is that fair to say?
>Considering I typed into an Excel spreadsheet all 9000+ species in the book,
>Donald E. Savage and Donald E. Russell, Mammalian Paleofaunas of the World
>and the approximately 4500 living species, I don't think it is a few
>datapoints. When you consider duplicate names for successive periods, I
>typed in nearly 14,000 names. It may have been a stupid task, but it is a
>considerable database of mammalian fauna. The database is nearly complete
>for North America, Africa and Europe.

I do not doubt that you have many pieces of many puzzles on your hand. But
you must discern the pieces according to which puzzle you think they belong
to. Such are the assumptions that have to be used otherwise one cannot make
any sense of the data. Perhaps that for some of the puzzles there are only a
few pieces available which makes it hard to determine the message of the puzzle.

>I really don't know where you get the idea that the number of experimental
>data points is limited in earth science. I think you should delve a little
>into the anthropological, paleontological and geological literature. The
>problem is not that there is too little data, but that there is too much. No
>human can even begin to encompass it all.

Data gathering has become the basis of many Ph.D.'s. In high energy physics
we had a lot of data for which machines like scanners were invented to
analyze. But the data was the result of planned experiments searching for
specific predictions made by theoretical models.

I suppose it is my prejudice and ignorance that may give rise to the doubts
I have about evolutionary theory. Physics is very much more restrictive in
allowing speculations than evolutionary theory. There are areas of physics
which are very speculative, string theory, cosmology, that is, those areas
where there are no results from experiments. However, as a physicist I know
when a theory in physics is mere speculations and deals with behaviors far
away from experimental data. However, it seems to me that in evolutionary
theory speculations are the norm. Perhaps if I delved in the areas you
mentioned I may be converted. You must know that I was never exposed in
school to evolutionary theories. What I know I learned as an adult and I
have read a lot.