Re: Payne-Miller dialogue regarding facts/interpretation

From: Bill Payne (
Date: Sat Jun 16 2001 - 00:55:34 EDT

  • Next message: George Hammond: "Re: historicity of Darwin"

    On Mon, 11 Jun 2001 16:30:17 -0400 (EDT) Joel Cannon
    <> writes:

    > First, I must say to you Bill that I appreciate the fact that we have
    > you on the list and that you will voice things like this, particularly
    > given the fact that you proably do not have time to respond to the
    > barrage of questions coming your way.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Joel. Some things are finally coming into
    focus for me, and our differences are turning out to be more substantial
    than I had imagined.
    > The second thing, I say is that I don't think you really believe this
    > consistently in the sense that I don't think you will think this way
    > about interpretation in areas where it does not impinge on other
    > considerations (such as your understanding of Creation).
    > For example, is it a fact or an interpretation that the earth orbits
    > the Sun and not vice versa? How do we know without inferring it from
    > other data? [snip]

    > My point is that I think you will agree that it was reasonable to
    > believe that the Sun was the center of the solar system based on
    > interpretation of data. If that is true what is the distinction
    > between intrepation here and interpretation of the evidence for the
    > history of life.
    > Other examples of interpretation would be why would you call it a fact
    > that atoms have protons, neutrons, and electrons? These are all based
    > on interpretation.

    Joel, what you have done here is conflate evolution with heliocentricity
    and atomic structure. There is a major difference between interpretating
    *historical* science and *experimental* science. Perhaps this divergence
    in our view of data is rooted in our employment. Those of you who work
    in the university and government environment are insulated from the world
    of litigation. You can say practically anything you like about science
    without fear of a lawsuit.

    As a geologist working for an international engineering/environmental
    company (read deep pockets), I and my co-workers are constantly drilled
    with the importance of making sure our reports are supported by data, and
    that the data is correctly presented and interpreted. No report should
    go out without everything being checked, and the final report must be
    reviewed by a principal. Instruments used to gather data must have
    documentation that they are in calibration, field notes must be correct
    and complete, samples shipped to a lab for analysis must have proper
    chain-of-custody, and on and on.

    It's a fact of life that some of our clients would like to use any excuse
    to reach into our pockets. At a recent "Risk-Management Seminar" one of
    our corporate attorneys told us repeatedly: "Anything you say can and
    will be distorted and used against you in a court of law." If we were to
    investigate a historical event not subject to emprical testing, our
    report would necessarily have a prominent qualifier stating the
    conditions undergirding our interpretations.

    I find this lack of distinction between empirical-based science and
    historical-based science common in the evolution debate. If
    architects/engineers ran their businesses with the same lack of rigor,
    they would soon be gone, courtsey of our friends the lawyers.

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