From: Alexanian, Moorad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 10:26:16 EDT
I am sure that Darwin was fully aware of animal breeding and so the issue of inheritance and variations within a kind was no big discovery. It is only when one says that kinds evolve into different kinds that someone is making a non-trivial statement, which can be a working assumption that may be true but for which there is no present evidence.
Imagine the similar statement made for biology, viz. "nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution" (Dobzhansky), being made in physics. “Nothing in physics makes sense expect in light of the Big Bang.” The latter is a laughable statement.
I totally agree with you that studies of mutations and so on ought to be done but claims should not to be made as being scientific when they are actually posited for philosophical reasons.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wed 9/17/2003 5:17 PM
To: Alexanian, Moorad
Subject: RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
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: <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
w.edu> Subject: RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
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.
From: email@example.com 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
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
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.
valid assumption that these same scientifically confirmed
operated throughout the entire history of the two species,
and accurate understanding of the biogeographical evolutionary
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.
<wallyshoes@minds To: "Alexanian,
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
predictive aspects of it.
"Alexanian, Moorad" wrote:
Ancients used to explain eclipses and why the sun rises but
make predictions. The essence of a scientific theory is the
make predictions and not merely give explanations, which is
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
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
is based upon
and accepted by blind faith. It is blind because it
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
there is so much evidence for it that to dispute it at this
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
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
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
the community guided by
it. And as that goes on, if the paradigm is one destined to
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
based upon the
paradigm will multiply. Still more men, convinced of the
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
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
resist after his whole
profession has been converted has ipso facto ceased to be a
The Structure of Scientific
Chapter: Resolution of
Walt Hicks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In any consistent theory, there must
exist true but not provable statements.
You can only find the truth with logic
If you have already found the truth
without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Thu Sep 18 2003 - 10:27:01 EDT