Re: Corrected Insert

Keith B Miller (
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 21:46:07 -0600 (CST)

Art wrote:

>First you imply it is not controversial, then you admit that it is. And
>since when are the "great majority" of scientists or people or anything
>else the criterion for truth. And since when is an overarching framework
>not an issue of philosophy rather than science? So you would admit that
>scientists as a body share a philosophical affinity for the grand theory of
>evolution, but disagree as to what that means in practical terms? I could
>state this in another way by quoting from a well known evolutionary
>biologist at Cal Tech whose father dedicated him as a child to proving the
>theory of evolution: "I have faith to believe that someday we will
>discover an explanation for evolution"

Debate in science is not the same as controversy. If so _all_ science is
controversial. I don't think that is what is implied by the common use of
the term. Common descent is not a philosophical position devoid of
observational support. I have repeatedly said that it is held nearly
universally by those working in relevant fields because of the weight of
the evidence. All "cutting edge" (to use a very worn out phrase)
scientific research is like this. In geology, for example, plate tectonics
is nearly universally accepted because of the diverse range of observations
in its support. Yet there are many details of mechanism and process which
are very actively debated. That does not make plate tectonics a
"controversial" theory. You are willing to call speciation a "fact" (I am
not) although there is very intense debates about it mechanism. These are
the reasons I think the use of the word "controversy" is highly misleading.


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506