Re: [asa] How paleontology works

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Mon Sep 11 2006 - 12:13:42 EDT

On 9/11/06, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
> Actually, I think the example Rich gives, interesting though it is, falls
> for the same sort of mistake that YEC's also make.
> The problem is there is no easy way to rule out coincidence - they decided
> to look there by perfectly rational deduction, and then they got an
> observation that fitted the prediction. But unless there is a consistent
> trend of results like this ( e.g. consistently finding more transitional
> forms were "predicted" compared to looking in random places), then there is
> no proof that it wasn't coincidence. Unfortunately this kind of find then
> gets amplified by the popular press, and gets taken as validation of the
> theory.

This is not the only example of this. Take the discovery of Ambulocetus
Natans in the Pakastani Himlayas. Evolutionary theory predicted finding
transitional sea animals at the edges of the Mesozoic Tethys Sea. Finding
whale fossils on the highest mountains in the World would be coincidence
indeed! See here: Note
here how the lesson starts:

Students will experience the historical *discovery *of fossils which
increasingly link whales to earlier landdwelling mammals. This experience
reveals how scientists can make *predictions *about past events, based on
the theory and evidence that whales evolved. Such predictions suggest the
age and location of sediments where fossils of early whales would most
likely be found, and even their traits. This lesson also provides
confirmation, with multiple independent lines of evidence, that there IS a
series of intermediate forms, showing gradual accumulation of changes,
linking certain terrestrial mammal groups with modern whales. [emphasis in
the original]

Furthermore, there is no way to rule out coincidence for any science then.
My point was not that this "proved" evolution but that paleontologists make
testable predictions like other branches of science. Since science is
inductive you cannot prove anything so proof is not something that ought to
be claimed. My understanding of paleontology must be way off as I didn't
think they just dug at random. Wait, this just came in mail.

You may be a winner! The Paleontologist's Clearing House Sweepstakes may dig
at your house at random. Please send in your entry now and get a free copy
of Biblical Archeological Review.

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Received on Mon Sep 11 12:14:38 2006

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