Transitionals, Evidence, and Sleight-of-hand

From: Wesley R. Elsberry (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 13:52:25 EST

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    MikeBGene wrote:
    >Wesley writes:

    WRE>I think, Chris, that you grant Johnson too much credit in his
    WRE>assertion that the invertebrate fossil record fails to clearly
    WRE>document transitional sequences. In fact, my reading leads me
    WRE>to almost the opposite conclusion -- the invertebrate fossil
    WRE>record yields a richer source of data concerning transitions
    WRE>than does the vertebrate record.

    MB>Do not lose sight of the larger picture, people. Johnson claims
    MB>there are no transitionals in the invertebrate fossil record. Chris
    MB>then uses Darwinian evolution (DE) to explain why this is expected
    MB>from DE. His explanations sounds reasonable and plausible. But
    MB>now Wesley tells us there are transitionals. Moral to the story?

    MB>DE is so plastic, so blob-like, and so unfalsifiable that
    MB>it can even be used to come up with rational explanations
    MB>for states that do not exist. Now....let that sink in.

    The computer science aphorism, "Garbage in; garbage out", would
    seem to cover the situation nicely. Feed in a false premise;
    get back a wrong answer. Evolutionary biology is not the only
    stance that can fall prey to such a situation. There are plenty
    of examples of theologians coming up with "reasonable and
    plausible" explanations due to ignorance that were later found
    to be wrong. I find it rather odd that Mike thinks that this
    sally of his is significant.

    I also did not notice Mike disestablishing the transitional
    character of the sequence discussed by Pearson et alia in the
    cited reference. That sort of thing can't be accomplished by
    artful rhetoric. It would take actual work. I'm not
    expecting to see such anytime soon.

    I encourage people not to lose sight of the original picture:
    Johnson made a "reasonable and plausible" sounding claim that
    nevertheless was counterfactual. The fossil evidence doesn't
    just go away because somebody or multiple someones did not
    know about it before spouting off.


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