Re: Corrected Insert

Arthur V. Chadwick (
Fri, 21 Nov 1997 22:46:13 -0800

At 09:46 PM 11/21/97 -0600, Keith wrote:

>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.

I guess you and I have been with some different crowds. If what I have
seen going on in scientific gatherings over the years is not controversial
(I was at Berkeley when Kimura first presented his neutral mutation theory
there, for example), I guess I need another definition for the word. Would
shouting matches qualify as controversial in your definition? I guess then
you could say that debate on origins is not controversial, or would you
agree that origins is not science? The participants of the last debate I
heard were all scientists, but the tenor was not cordial or open.
(Incidentally I hate debates in the public forum. I think so-called
creation-evolution debates have done more to discredit God's name than
almost anything else I can imagine, and have given creation such a bad name
that I cannot use the word any more)

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.

What do you mean by "observational support"? Various observations can be
construed to support various positions depending on ones philosophical
biases. That's not news. One of the greatest travesties evolutionists
have skillfully parlayed for years is that similarities (on whatever scale)
indicate relationships by evolutionary descent. That is one interpretation,
but not the one most consistent with the data, in my view.

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.

I don't know how old you are, but there was a time when plate tectonics was
a very controversial topic, and the Myerhoffs, one of whom was head of the
AAPG at the time wrote a number of papers poking fun at the very idea. I
remember one paper (I believe in the AAPG news bulletin at that time) on
Continental drip, illustrating that the continents could have come to their
proesent positions just like the Sherwin Williams paint sign, and another
which purported to show that the direction of the continental movement
might just aas easily be going in reverse!

You are willing to call speciation a "fact" (I am

Well, 21 nobel laureates supposedly did anyway....

although there is very intense debates about it mechanism. These are
>the reasons I think the use of the word "controversy" is highly misleading.

OK I can live with some other word.