common ancestry in scientific classification

From: James W Stark (
Date: Tue Aug 01 2000 - 10:28:27 EDT

  • Next message: David Campbell: "Re: common ancestry"

    To this non-biologist the discussion on common ancestry has been very
    informative. I am still trying to figure how it fits in actual model testing
    and their interpretations.
    Doug Hayworth strongly supports common ancestry and Paul Nelson questions
    it. I do not recall the positions of other individuals.

    Paul Nelson said in a response to Terry Gray, "Common descent is not a
    hypothesis being tested by the data. Rather, the data are being interpreted
    with common descent as a given."

    If common ancestry is a given and it is used to structure scientific
    classification in biology, the two together appear to create a "design"
    condition as a pattern for evolution. My CD encyclopedia states that "The
    classification of organisms is a science called taxonomy or systematics.
    Scientific classification is an interpretation of facts". There is , of
    course, more to the theory of evolution. This design condition would affect
    the creation of hypotheses and the interpretations of the evidence.
    Repeated tests of consistency with theory would show how well the evidence
    fits the theory that assumes common ancestry. Is this not circular

    How can someone say that the evidence supporting common ancestry is
    overwhelming? We seem to be force fitting the evidence. It seems that we
    need a new kind of scientific classification that is not dependent on the
    assumption of common ancestry.

    Am I wrong in my current impression about common ancestry? Can anyone
    suggest clarifying material to read?

    Jim Stark

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