RE: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Mon Sep 12 2005 - 11:11:28 EDT

The drastic difference between biology and physics is that the notion of
life enters the former while is totally foreign in the latter. The real
question is how much of biology can be reduced to atoms and molecules
without tackling the question of what life is. However, I believe that
life cannot be defined in terms of purely physical concepts. Of course,
people still talk of complex molecules like DNA as describing much of
what humans and animals are. Needless to say, the question of human
rationality and consciousness presupposes life but must represent an
astronomical jump in complexity, whichever way the problem is tackled.





From: [] On
Behalf Of Terry M. Gray
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 5:49 PM
Subject: Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published
Research Findings Are False


Hi everyone,


I'd like to suggest a more conciliatory approach to moderate the recent
rancor on these two threads.


Loren Haarsma from Calvin presented to following paper at the ASA
meeting this summer as part of the ID "vs" TE symposium:


Loren, I think, masterfully set the right tone for a productive debate.
Dembski followed him prepared, of course, to argue that ID is
"scientific" and when Loren didn't come loaded with that particular
critique was surprisingly, in my experience, conciliatory himself. He
even admitted that theistic evolution is a plausible Christian position.


I created a web version of Loren's handout and paper and he gave me
permission to put it on the ASA web site. If you would like a Word
document version, you can get it directly from Loren's web site at
Calvin at


I am in Loren's "explainable" or "partially explainable" camps when it
comes to most of the ID examples from biology (flagella, origin of life,
other irreducibly complex systems). I'm quite content to argue against
ID on the basis of plausible scenarios rather than demarcationist


For what it's worth, in my opinion as a biologist (and otherwise), the
recent arguments that biology is not science are just pompous physical
science arrogance. From the information about joining the ASA: "Science
is interpreted broadly to include anthropology, archeology, economics,
engineering, history, mathematics, medicine, political science,
psychology, and sociology as well as the generally recognized science
disciplines." I've long disagreed with Moorad on this and it's just
putting your head in the sand to say otherwise. Most people say that
biology is not a physical science, but a unique, autonomous scientific
discipline, biological science. Most people will, however, categorize
biology as a natural science (notice that natural does NOT equal
physical in these characterizations). Natural science is conventionally
contrasted with human or social sciences (please, don't make the joke
about, if science is in your discipline's name, it's not science). We
really must abandon these demarcationist arguments and be willing get to
more substantive discussions asking whether or not the claims are
correct not whether or not they match up with someone's rules of the







Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.

Computer Support Scientist

Chemistry Department

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO 80523

(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801


Received on Mon Sep 12 11:14:00 2005

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