Re: preposterous

From: Tim Ikeda (
Date: Tue Apr 03 2001 - 00:05:12 EDT

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    Moorad wrote:

    >I do not know what I would think of evolutionary theory and the
    >history of the earth if I were not a Christian. But I judge
    >the work in that area and compare it with the rigor that
    >is needed to do good physics and realize that most, if not
    >all, is very speculative and may border on bad science.

    Well, as we know I'm not a Christian, and if I were one to
    overgeneralize, that comment would might lead me to suspect
    that being Christian can be a serious impediment to one's
    ability to appreciate science. But as Ernst Mayr notes, this
    is a chauvinism not uncommonly found in physicists (religious
    and otherwise), so one's religion can't necessarily be blamed.

    I really don't know how unfamiliar one must be with biology
    and geology to authoritatively comment that "most [evolutionary
    theory and earth history], if not all may border on bad science."
    The field experiments on natural selection are intense and difficult,
    and often subjected to months of rigorous statistical analyses. Most
    good field biologists and evolutionary researchers are far better at
    statistical mathematics and experimental design than either Moorad
    or I. Granted, the signal to noise ratio in biological results tend
    to be greater than in the simple physical systems which physicists
    routinely study, but that doesn't make biology any less of a science
    or less rigorous. And earth science *is* physics.

    I've never met a physicist or chemist who has done a sabbatical in
    a top biology laboratory that ever came away anything less than
    great respect at how science was done by biologists. However,
    if Moorad has the spare time and some specific cases in mind,
    perhaps he could help the evolutionary biologists and
    geologists by critiquing some of their papers and firing off a
    couple letters to their journals. And then we can move on and
    discuss why it is that large, multinational teams of physicists
    have often published and then retracted claims of finding a
    particular sub-atomic particle or of quantitating the flux of
    neutrinos originating in the sun. It kinda makes me doubt whether
    subatomic particles actually exist or whether the sun fuses hydrogen
    when the physicists can't seem to come up with the right numbers.

    Ah, but what do I know of physics to comment with any degree of
    authority, I've only had a few semesters of it years ago and only
    follow the occasional article that appears in Nature or Science.
    If I assumed that such passing familiarity made me an expert on
    the state of physics as a science, most physicists might die
    laughing at my expense. And who knows what I might think about the
    "science" of physics were I a Christian scientist as opposed to
    being just a scientist.

    - Tim Ikeda (

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