>No scientist can make any scientific statement without objective data. I
>ask you what constitute objective data in your field? You will see that
>what makes something objective is that it is determined or can in principle
>be determined by physical devices. If you see something that nobody can
>verify, then you are hallucinating. If you see the same something next
>time, my advise to you is to take a picture of it! Moorad
Well, I already suggested some measurements taken with physical devices.
For example, micrometers and rulers are generally a good choice for measuring
bone lengths and depths beneath sedimentary layers. Mass specs are the
instruments of choice for determining isotope abundance. DNA sequencing
is a physical process: Originally, human eyeballs determined the order of
bases in the gels but now automation handles most of the work. DNA alignment
and sequence comparisons are done by computers. Similar software packages
are often applied to morphological comparisons as well. All those are
measurements that are readily verifiable.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
In another letter:
>I am glad you all dig me! :) But don't forget you heard it from me first:
>If something cannot in principle be measured by means of physical devices,
>then that something is not the subject matter of science. Moorad
To be honest, I've seen similar statements that predate your birth.
As we all know, science isn't just data but _synthesis_, or 'making
connections' between data. In essence, it's about finding and syutdying
correlations within the data in the hopes of determining causitive
relationships. Our efforts never conclusively 'prove' causative links
but instead establish correlations to various degrees of confidence.
When we talk about "objective measurements" being important in science,
what we mean is that the data and the processes used to evaluate
correlations and inferences are, in principle, transparent or visible
to all. Using instruments to collect and report data is one method of
producing 'transparent data' (This assumes the instrument is collecting
the data in the way we expect. Another, downstream assumption is that
the data collected is pertinent to the phenomenon in question -- but
that's a whole other discussion). This is in contrast to things like
revelation and personal perception, that are not readily available for
others to experience.
FWIW - I've never proposed that evolutionary history can't in principle
be studied by means of physical measurements. In fact, it can be and
it is studied that way. How do you think phylogenetic reconstructions
are evaluated? Data from physical objects. If it was simply a matter of
hallucinating, why do zoologists group humans, chimps, and gorillas
closer together than say, humans and dogs? Why would one anticipate
finding fossils resembling intermediates between terrestrial mammals
and whales within a particular epoch?
Tim Ikeda (firstname.lastname@example.org)
mail2web - Check your email from the web at
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