Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 12:55:14 EDT
This is a common caricature and misunderstanding about evolutionary
biology. Evolutionary biology is extremely predictive. Darwin himself
hypothesized (predicted) that there would have to be a form of inheritance
that could allow for evolution. He struggled to formulate a mechanism.
Later that mechanism was discovered. Darwin also made very specific
predictions about particular characteristics. For example, I think I am
remembering correctly that he predicted the existence of a butterfly with a
very long tongue to account for the known existence of a certain flower
with a very deep tubular shape.
Most of what many evolutionary biologists/ecologists do every day is to
make predictions about the basis of a particular ecological or evolutionary
situation or process and then test that by examining the
geographical/genetic distribution or breeding relationships or genetic
basis of the traits in question. It's true that we cannot really go back
in time and repeat past historical events, but that is true at some level
of any field of science. All we can do is predict and test specific
conditions about the processes involved and then evaluate how the action of
those processes match the physical record of biological diversity.
For example, in many plants, chloroplast DNA is inherited maternally
(directly from the mother plant). This knowledge can be used to predict the
pattern of genetic variation that would arise among two related species
that are capable of hybridizing in geographical areas where they occur
together. By then sampling and testing sequences sampled from among
populations of the two species, the prediction can be tested. Making the
valid assumption that these same scientifically confirmed processes have
operated throughout the entire history of the two species, fairly detailed
and accurate understanding of the biogeographical evolutionary history of
the two species can be acquired.
To say that evolution is not a predictive science is like saying that
chemistry is not predictive because it cannot tell me the precise path that
any one particular molecule of H2O will take as it bounces around in a
bottle of water.
<wallyshoes@minds To: "Alexanian, Moorad" <email@example.com>
pring.com> cc: RFaussette@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sent by: Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
09/17/03 09:12 AM
Does that mean that evolution is not a science? I have not heard of any
predictive aspects of it.
"Alexanian, Moorad" wrote:
Ancients used to explain eclipses and why the sun rises but could not
make predictions. The essence of a scientific theory is the ability to
make predictions and not merely give explanations, which is pure
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [
mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:39 AM
Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
In a message dated 9/17/03 1:46:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
The evolutionary paradigm is just as religious and sacred as a
paradigm. The only difference is that the evolutionary paradigm
is based upon
and accepted by blind faith. It is blind because it cannot be
anyone who could know.
T. Kuhn wrote that the strength of a hypothesis is in its explanatory
value. The explanatory value of evolutionary theory is so strong and
there is so much evidence for it that to dispute it at this point is
to dig your head in the sand.
"If a paradigm is ever to triumph it must gain some first supporters,
men who will develop it to
the point where hard headed arguments can be produced and multiplied.
And even those
arguments when they come are not individually decisive.
Because scientists are reasonable men, one or another argument will
ultimately persuade many
of them. But there is no single argument that can or should persuade
them all. Rather than a
single group conversion, what occurs is an increasing shift in the
distribution of professional
At the start, a new candidate for paradigm may have few supporters,
and on occasion the
supporters' motives may be suspect. Nevertheless, if they are
competent, they will improve it,
explore its possibilities and show what it would be like to belong to
the community guided by
it. And as that goes on, if the paradigm is one destined to win its
fight, the number and
strength of the professional arguments in its favor will increase.
More scientists will then be converted and the exploration of the new
paradigm will go on.
Gradually the number of experiments, instruments, articles and books
based upon the
paradigm will multiply. Still more men, convinced of the new view's
fruitfulness will adopt the
new mode of practicing normal science, until at last only a few
elderly hold-outs remain.
Though the historian can always find men, Priestley, for instance, who
were unreasonable to
resist for as long as they did, he will not find a point at which
resistance becomes illogical or
unscientific. At most he may wish to say that the man who continues to
resist after his whole
profession has been converted has ipso facto ceased to be a
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas
Chapter: Resolution of Revolutions
-- =================================== Walt Hicks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In any consistent theory, there must exist true but not provable statements. (Godel's Theorem)
You can only find the truth with logic If you have already found the truth without it. (G.K. Chesterton) ===================================
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