RE: Where's the Evolution?

Brian D Harper (
Fri, 09 Apr 1999 09:26:32 -0700

At 11:06 PM 4/7/99 -0500, Cummins wrote:
>> []On Behalf Of Brian D Harper
>> What you say is simply not true. One sees all the time and
>> in many various fields that the same word is used to refer to
>> both the facts associated with a phenomena as well as the
>> theory that tries to explain those facts. I know it is
>> probably surprising at first but it shouldn't cause too
>> much confusion once you get the idea.
>To speak of "the theory of gravity" is inaccurate and, at best, an
>abbreviated version of the correct form. To be accurate, you would say "the
>theory of what causes gravity," (you could name the theory itself, such as
>"gravitational wave theory"), gravity itself is a fact, not a theory. Even
>if we allow the use of "gravity is a fact and a theory," the evolutionists
>are not simply overloading the subject, they're attempting to confuse things
>(the shell game).

The concern here is not how you or I might say things but rather
the terminology used generally by scientists. Theorries about
gravity are referred to as the theory of gravity and that's the
way it is (its a fact). Interestingly, your suggestion "the
theory of what causes gravity" would exclude Newton, since he
did not know the cause of gravity nor would he speculate (publicly)
about its cause. For example, in <Principia> he wrote:

#"But hitherto I have not been able to discover the
# cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena,
# and I frame no hypothesis; for whatever is not
# deduced from the phenomena is to be called an
# hypothesis; and hypothesis, whether metaphysical
# or physical, whether of occult qualities or
# mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.
# In this philosophy particular propositions are
# inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered
# general by induction." -- Newton

>> Yes it is, and its called the theory of plasticity. OK, another reason
>> for selecting this example is that I actually know something about it.:)
>> Our department offers a course entitled "Theory of Plasticity."
>How about if you run over to your English department and get an expert on
>the language to answer if it's meaningful to say "Plasticity is both a fact
>and a theory"? While you're at it, ask what the verb is in "Please give me
>a glass of water". And, ask if "very unique" is meaningful. I'm serious.

Again, it is irrelevant what English professors may or may not say
since we are trying to establish terminology as used by scientists.
Previously you agreed that plasticity is a fact. Now we just have
to establish that it is also a theory and that scientists in the
field refer to it as the theory of plasticity. Below you'll find
links to university courses with the title "theory of plasticity",
the first being one at Ohio State and taught by my good friend Professor
Amos Gilat:
(this one's in japanese)

If this is not enough, there are also many books written on
the topic, a few examples:

Kachanov, L. M. 1971. Foundations of the Theory of Plasticity.
North-Holland Publishing Company.

Hoffman, O. et al. 1953. Introduction to the Theory of
Plasticity for Engineers. McGraw-Hill

Hill, R. 1950. The Mathematical theory of plasticity.
Oxford University Press.

Will you agree that Plasticity is both a theory and a fact
as scientists use the terms theory and fact?

>> You know, it might actually be less confusing if I said "the facts
>> about evolution" instead of "the fact of evolution".
>Is "ameba to man" a fact or a theory?

fact of evolution is common ancestry. Accordingly, most
would consider it a fact that all life on Earth is descended
from one or perhaps a very few ancestors. I doubt it was
an amoeba :), but it may have been something similar.

Darwin tended to refer to evolution not as "evolution" but
as descent with modification. This is certainly a fact
wouldn't you say?

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University

"All kinds of private metaphysics and theology have
grown like weeds in the garden of thermodynamics"
-- E. H. Hiebert