Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

From: Walter Hicks (
Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 14:47:29 EDT

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    I appreciate the information. This is not exactly what I thinking about. Certainly there is wealth of evidence
    that some type of evolution exists. Also much of what Darwin theorized was logical and seemed to be true.
    However, there do seem to be exceptions and modern biology has explained a lot. Surely Chemistry is predictive.
    At least it was when I took it. One did not have to know every compound in order to predict what can exist and
    what cannot exist.

    What I meant was predictive in the sense of Popper's falsifiability. A comprehensive theory would offer up
    predictions that are capable disproving or falsifying some aspect of the theory. To be specific, if mutation is
    significant, mutation rates seem to be known to some degree. Based upon past data, it should be possible to
    estimate when a significantly beneficial mutation could occur. Then that might be applied to some species (like
    bugs) with a known birth rate to predict a change in some major characteristic of the species (not a simple thing
    like the peppered moths).

    I once saw a paper where the authors constructed a simulation of species development and got some results which
    were similar to that observed in the fossil record. In included periods of steady grown, chaotic intervals, and
    stasis followed by rapid change. Of course that was indicative of the past and was not necessarily predictive.

    Are you aware of any such work?

    Walt wrote:

    > Walter:
    > 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.
    > Douglas
    > Walter Hicks
    > <wallyshoes@minds To: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
    >> cc:,,
    > Sent by: Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
    > asa-owner@lists.c
    > 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
    > phenomenology.
    > Moorad
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [
    >] On Behalf Of
    > Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:39 AM
    > To:
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
    > In a message dated 9/17/03 1:46:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
    > writes:
    > The evolutionary paradigm is just as religious and sacred as a
    > Creationary
    > paradigm. The only difference is that the evolutionary paradigm
    > is based upon
    > and accepted by blind faith. It is blind because it cannot be
    > confirmed by
    > 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
    > allegiances.
    > 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
    > scientist."
    > The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas
    > S. Kuhns
    > Chapter: Resolution of Revolutions
    > rich faussette
    > --
    > ===================================
    > Walt Hicks <>
    > 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)
    > ===================================

    Walt Hicks <>

    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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