Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Tue Dec 01 2009 - 09:20:52 EST

Thomas Kuhn would probably also disagree with Dawkins, on this point. Echoing Mike's comment below, I quote from Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," 3rd edn, p. 77: "Let us then assume that crises are a necessary precondition for the emergence of novel theories and ask next how scientists respond to their existence. Part of the answer, as obvious as it is important, can be discovered by noting first what scientists never do when confronted by even severe and prolonged anomalies. Though they may begin to lose faith and then to consider alternatives, they do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis. They do not, that is, treat anomalies as counter-instances, though in the vocabulary of philosophy of science that is what they are. ... a scientific theory is considered invalid only if an alternative candidate is available to take its place. ... No process yet disclosed by the historical study of scientific development at all resembles the methodological stereotype of falsification by direct comparison with nature ... The decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another, and the judgement leading to that decision involves the comparison of both paradigms with nature *and* with each other."
So much for Haldane's rabbit. A red rabbit, perhaps, in the spirit of a red herring?
Incidentally, Mike, I agree with Kuhn about this, esp his claim that you need to have an alternative theory available before most scientists will jump ship. This belief lies behind my view that ID is not an alternative theory to evolution: ID entirely refuses to offer an alternative reading of natural history, while at the same time entirely refusing to endorse the standard account (big bang, solar system & earth, billions of years, common descent, here we are) and indeed implicitly challenging it on some points. IMO, then, ID does not count as an alternative theory--and it never will, unless/until it comes clean on this. If ID were (say, in some other universe) openly to accept the standard account of natural history, offering an alternative view only of the ability of "randomness" to provide the "explanation," then I'd be happy to call it an alternative theory. Presently, it ain't; and, I don't expect that to change one bit.
>>> "Nucacids" <> 12/1/2009 7:34 AM >>>
"Anyone here think that Dawkins is off-base in his claim?"

I do. Given all the other evidence for evolution, it would be easier for me
to write off the precambrian rabbit-like fossil as an anomaly than to
embrace the notion that evolution has been disproved. I would assume
Dawkins discusses much of the evidence for evolution in his book. Is that
evidence really so shaky that it can be ignored and dismissed because of the
discovery of a single out-of-place fossil? I think not.


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Received on Tue Dec 1 09:21:32 2009

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