Re: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 12:18:17 EDT

  • Next message: John W Burgeson: "Robert Koons & I.D."

    Douglas wrote, in part: "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."

    I'm going to take issue with part of this. John Casti, in his book
    "Search for Certainty," address the predictive power of evolutionary
    theories, and asserts that, like the science of weather forecasting, it
    comes out with a fairly low grade. The following is an exerpt from my
    review of that book, published in PERSPECTIVES in March 1992. Casti has
    identified two primary areas where sciences can be rated, explainability
    and predictability:

    "In discussing the problems, Dr. Casti rates "science" on each of them in
    two ways, first, how well the problem can be explained; second, how well
    future conditions within it can be predicted. Celestial mechanics is the
    measure of the others, rating a grade of "A" on both counts. Mathematics,
    interestingly enough, rates only a "B+" and "B." Quantum mechanics rates
    "D" in explanation, but "A" in prediction. Evolutionary Biology, as one
    might expect, moves in the reverse direction, rating B+ in explanation
    and "D" in prediction. At the low end of the scale is Economics, rating a
    flat "D" in both categories. It is part of the uniqueness of this book
    that the author is able to analyze these matters and show, very
    convincingly, why these grades are to be expected, what they mean, and
    what improvements are likely in the future. "

    The full review is on both the ASA web site (somewhere) and on my site,
    page 2, section 3, line item 23.


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