From: John W Burgeson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 12:18:17 EDT
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
"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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