Re: Evolution Statement

From: Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@uncwil.edu)
Date: Sat Dec 15 2001 - 14:05:54 EST

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <tikeda@sprintmail.com>
    To: <asa@calvin.edu>
    Sent: Friday, December 14, 2001 2:23 PM
    Subject: RE: Evolution Statement

    > Moorad wrote:
    > >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.

    You are repeating what I have already said. The data collected in your field
    is based on physical devices.

    > ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
    > 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.

    Please give me the relevant references!

    > 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.

    One must separate the data from the human analysis. Humans can analyze many
    things but in science what they analyze is data obtained by physical
    devices. Again, I have said that humans are detectors not only of the
    physical but that which is beyond the physical.

    > 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?

    I have never said that evolutionary science cannot in principle be study by
    means of physical devices. If I thought so I would not add the word science
    to the word evolutionary. There is no other way to study evolutionary
    theory---no more or no less than in forensic science. Moorad

    > Regards,
    > Tim Ikeda (tikeda@sprintmail.com)
    >
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    >



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