RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 17:17:48 EDT

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    Okay, so the butterfly-flower example doesn't cut the mustard, but you
    can't get around the other example I gave from Darwin. When he formulated
    his theory of evolution, he knew it could only work if the mode of
    inheritance was different from what was general understood at the time. He
    was so compelled by the evidence that evolution had in fact occurred that
    he struggled to contrive a different mode of inheritance that would allow
    for it. That struggle was itself an incredible prediction.

    I suppose that it is valid to assert that at one level most biology
    research has nothing to do with evolution; one does not HAVE to consider
    evolution in order to understand biochemistry of how chloroplasts capture
    light energy and use it to create chemical energy in the form of sugar.
    However, on another level, "nothing in biology makes sense except in light
    of evolution" (Dobzhansky); a consideration of chloroplast evolution can be
    very enlightening about the interplay of mechanisms required for
    photosynthesis. Are you aware that since many of the genes originally
    encoded in chloroplast genome have transferred to the nuclear genome or
    been silenced since their endosymbiotic origin?

    Your point about chemistry in many ways is exactly my point about
    evolutionary biology. "Statistical behavior" is the same as saying
    "probability". No one studying evolutionary biology cares what happens
    with one individual plant or animal; rather, we acquire as much information
    about the genetic basis of traits and their modes of inheritance, etc., and
    then are able to predict probabalistically how things have evolved or will
    evolve. Mutation rates are statistical, and to the extent that gene
    functions are understood mechanistically, the effects of particular
    mutations (which will occur in nature at certain rates) can be predicted
    and then those predictions tested. How such new mutations spread or are
    lost from the population of genes in a population of organisms can also be
    predicted and tested.


                        Moorad" To: <>, <>
                        <alexanian@unc cc:
              > Subject: RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
                        09/17/03 03:16

    The observations of Darwin that you cite means simply that he looked at one
    part of nature to guess other parts of nature. This feature is the
    consistency of nature and has nothing to do with Darwinian Theory. This is
    not an issue of time development whereby Darwin predicts what will be the
    future outcome of what he actually observers. Most of biology, if not all,
    has nothing whatsoever to do with Darwinian Theory.

    Chemistry deals with statistical behavior of systems of molecules and no
    one really care what one molecule does.


               -----Original Message-----
               From: on behalf of
               Sent: Wed 9/17/2003 12:55 PM
               Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised


               This is a common caricature and misunderstanding about
               biology. Evolutionary biology is extremely predictive. Darwin
               hypothesized (predicted) that there would have to be a form of
               that could allow for evolution. He struggled to formulate a
               Later that mechanism was discovered. Darwin also made very
               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
               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
               situation or process and then test that by examining the
               geographical/genetic distribution or breeding relationships or
               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
               conditions about the processes involved and then evaluate how
    the action of
               those processes match the physical record of biological

               For example, in many plants, chloroplast DNA is inherited
               (directly from the mother plant). This knowledge can be used to
    predict the
               pattern of genetic variation that would arise among two related
               that are capable of hybridizing in geographical areas where they
               together. By then sampling and testing sequences sampled from
               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
               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.


                                   Walter Hicks

                                   <wallyshoes@minds To: "Alexanian,
    Moorad" <>
                         > cc:,,
                                   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
                         -----Original Message-----
                         From: [
               ] On Behalf Of
                         Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:39 AM
                         Subject: Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little
                         In a message dated 9/17/03 1:46:31 AM Eastern Daylight

                         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
                         confirmed by
                         anyone who could know.

                    T. Kuhn wrote that the strength of a hypothesis is in its
                    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
                    men who will develop it to
                    the point where hard headed arguments can be produced and
                    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
                    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
                    and on occasion the
                    supporters' motives may be suspect. Nevertheless, if they
                    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

                    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
                    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
                    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
                    S. Kuhns
                                                   Chapter: Resolution of

                    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)

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