Re: Stereotypes and reputations

From: Cornelius Hunter <>
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 15:24:28 EDT


> I agree that the initial discovery that life fits a pattern of nested
> hierarchies was not a prediction of common descent. It is evidence that
> allows one to *deduce* common descent.

No doubt, there is plenty of evidence that allows one to deduce common
descent. Much more than the Linnean pattern (to the extent that it is
accurate). There is also a mountain of evidence that allows one to deduce
geocentrism, spontaneous generation, etc. Evolutionists tally up the
evidences as though theory evaluation is a matter of statistics. But
actually, what is often the most important in science are those interesting
outliers that don't fit the pattern, and don't fit the theory. They cannot
be explained as measurement noise that happens to fall outside the 3 sigma
band. This is why we have science doing science, not statiticians. Imagine
if astronomers had assumed that retrograde motion was mere noise.


>> Once again, the nested hierarchy is not a prediction
>> of evolution, it is a retrodiction.
> It's not a bird, its an avian. I am somewhat confused
> about this though. Make your case.

Retrodiction and predictions are not synonymous. A prediction is made for
observations that have not yet been made, based on a theory that is
formulated for other reasons. A retrodiction pertains to observations that
were part of the motivation for developing the theory. These distinctions
cannot be glossed over if one wants to talk about falsifiability. One reason
is that for retrodictions, we must remember that the theory was formulated
in the first place to explain the retrodiction. So one must ask the
question: "How critical is the retrodiction to the theory?" If a different
version of theory is possible with a different retrodiction, then the
retrodiction is not a falsifiability criterion for the theory. Ironically,
evolutionists have been keen to make these distinctions when it comes to
analyzing ID, but suddenly lose their concern when it comes to evolution. In
the case of evolution, a naturalistic explanation for the origin of species
can be constructed without reliance on a nested hierarchy.

For example, Pim claims the nested hierarchy is a "logical outcome of an
evolutionary process." This is not true. It is a logical outcome of *the*
evolutionary process that has been crafted according to the retrodiction.
Other evolutionary processes could have been crafted to fit other patterns.
What is telling here is that today's version of evolution has no problem
introducing patches, such as mysteriously occurring very high mutation
rates, to explain "anomalies." Another explanatory mechanism available to
the evolution theorist, for example, is multiple origin of life events.

Beyond all this, there is the problem that there are violations of the
nested hierarchy pattern that are not explained with either high mutation
rates or multiple origin of life events. The mitochondrial sequences are one
example. Evolutionists will have to use yet another story that cannot be
falsified or verified to explain why these sequences consistently violate
the pattern, with very high statistical confidence. Another example is the
photosynthetic bacteria. For bacteria evolutionists appeal to mysteriously
high levels of HGT that occur just where we need them to occur. Fine, do
what you need to do, but this is not falsifiable.

The claim of falsifiability is a double-edge sword. If one really wants to
be serious about the claim, then one needs to be willing to have one's
theory actually go down in flames when a falsifier comes along. As Lakatos
points out, this simply is not how it works with people. It is naive to
think that mitochondrial sequences, non homologous development pathways and
genes, or UCEs are going to take down the internationally-accepted, deeply
entrenched paradigm of evolution, even though they clearly are contrary to
predictions (this is explicitly stated by evolutionists in the literature!).
The claim that evolution has all these falsifiable predictions that it have
been nicely been confirmed by the data is, aside from being false, a sort of
naive falsificationism.

Regarding the claim that the nested hierarchy is a falsifiable prediction,
the evolution position reduces to (i) denying that other patterns can be
explained (which is false), (ii) treating unexplained violations as "noise",
and (iii) making the Bernoullian argument using random design as the null
hypothesis with its implicit metaphysics. This would work nicely with

Pim wrote: *******************
> The only known processes that specifically generate
> unique, nested, hierarchical patterns are branching
> evolutionary processes.

False. Manufactured objects can fall into an hierarchical pattern.

> Common descent is a genetic
> process in which the state of the present
> generation/individual is dependent only upon genetic
> changes that have occurred since the most recent
> ancestral population/individual. Therefore, gradual
> evolution from common ancestors must conform to the
> mathematics of Markov processes and Markov chains.

False, gradual evolution can include accelerated mutation rates.


Received on Thu Aug 4 15:28:34 2005

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