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The incorrigible David Berlinski

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Bob K
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25 posted 10-23-2009 04:24 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Stephen,

         As always, interesting.  The comment was, "from the outside," that is standing apart from either Atheism or Christianity.  I have no idea that I am in fact a relativist about religion.  I am an Agnostic.  I simply don't know.  So I can quite clearly stand apart from either Atheism or Christianity and I can say that to those on the inside each is apparently passionately worth defending, because I see them do it.  I can also say that I have never seen one or the other win a debate in which a full and authentic case has been presented for both in which both sides walked away agreeing on the winner.  Maybe you have.  I won't tell you one of them is wrong because I don't know.

     That isn't relativity.

     There are real differences between the various kinds of positions on Creation and evolution.  I won't say that evolution and God are incompatible because I believe they certainly can be.  I will also say that I don't think that evolution is a popularity contest, and that its scientific acceptability makes it correct.  Having said that, I will now contradict myself.  Among scientific theories, the people who have the best and most in depth understanding of scientific theories on the subject pretty much tend to agree that Evolution is pretty much the best we've got right now, and that there's nothing that looks better right now on the horizon.  Nothing is even close.

     This doesn't mean evolution is right.  It's simply the closest thing we've got to a scientific understanding of right, right now.

     This doesn't mean that David Berlinski doesn't have a point.  I don't know if David Berlinski has a point, but he may have and it may be not simply a point but a whole series of stellar points.  At this point, he hasn't apparently offered enough to change the opinions of the scientists that are at the heart of the debate.  And I would probably have to do days of research that I really don't want to do to dig that information out.  Do you disagree with that?

     The point is that Evolution is a theory, but it's a pretty solid theory.

     Who exactly are the scientists that would need to be convinced that the theory was wrong to delegitimize the theory as a whole?  And what is the nature of that evidence?  It seems to me that the efforts in this debate are not being directed at the scientific debate, not at those scientists who think the science is solid and who continue to research the field, but  at lay folks like you, or at kids, who are not in a situation to evaluate the science but who are in the process of forming beliefs.

     This is what makes me believe there is something basically disingenuous about the discussion in the first place.  It is not a scientific discussion, and it is not framed that way, and it is not taking place is actual scientific journals but in journals that are frequently sort-of science journals, of the sort that the oil and gas industries create to fund a "debate" on the data about global warming or climate change.

     This doesn't mean that there isn't any such thing as "design."  I have no inside information.  But serious discussion of "intelligent design" doesn't seen to appear in the scientific journals, only in journals that try to do a sort of hybrid of science and religion.

     My personal thinking is that there is too much distance between the two, but I've spoken about that before, and I'm uncertain that further discussion right now would be helpful.

     And some of the problem, I think, may actually be in the confusion of tongues between People of Faith and People of Science.  Call them the Christians and the Atheists that I was talking about earlier.  This is one more place where the two communities talk past each other, and in an extraordinarily painful and sad fashion.  

     You're a guy who's chosen to deal with a little bit of that issue in himself, Stephen.  Nursing education has more than its share of science in it, softened, thank goodness, with a bit of love and nurture that isn't the fashion in programs for the M.D.  And the Love that is so central to Christian belief is something that you've learned to temper with the more structured elements of the Logos, not simply The Word, but the logic behind The Word as well.

     That illusion of a split is present in the world as well until we can see the way that makes it fit effortlessly and seamlessly together.  Once again, Stephen, these things seem to rise out of the most straightforward discussions.

All my best to you and your Pals, Bob Kaven

[This message has been edited by Bob K (10-23-2009 05:29 PM).]

Grinch
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quote:
I've already made a distinction between bounded biological variance within species, and the kind of change that might have given rise to ALL the bilogical diversity ever seen


Yes, I noticed.

I think you're wrong to make the distinction; especially if the lowest taxonomic group during the Cambrian was not "species" but "life" - which is highly likely.

.
Essorant
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27 posted 10-23-2009 03:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

What else is the link between "before" and "after" except great changes among animals?   Isn't the fact of the differences themselves enough evidence?  Why do we need to explain exactly "how" they happened to prove that evolution could make such changes?  
Stephanos
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28 posted 11-03-2009 11:47 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

Because science must be more than assumption if it is to be in any sense empirical.  Common Ancestry and Evolution cannot be proven merely by what is seen in the present (highly limited change within species, and profound morphological differences between species).  What we see gives rise to the question; it cannot be the answer.

Stephen

Bob K
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29 posted 11-04-2009 01:49 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Stephen,

          Let me get my assumptions clear, here.  When you say "science," your quarrel is with evolution, not say, physics, or chemistry, or astronomy, or are you suggesting that all of science is essentially "less than" some other approach that you will need to specify.  I would need you to tell me what that would be.

     A quarrel with "science" would suggest that it is not the best way to approach a problem.

     A quarrel with evolution would suggest that it isn't the best way to approach looking at where humans and other animals have come from.  It may, in fact, not be the best, and yet still be better than whatever you might offer for second place in terms of offering a clear and useful answer for scientific problems.  A parachute might not be the best way to survive falling from a plane.  This doesn't suggest that it would be useful or even smart to refuse one when a wing falls off your Cesna.

     Common Ancestry and Evolution.  They are useful theories.  A theory is not a fact, it is a theory.  It is a curiously long lived theory.  Theories, like the theory of the ether, stay around for a while and when there seems reason to abandon them, poof, there they go.  There is some quarrel about them, but they do go.  Common Ancestry and Evolution are theories that hang around because the scientific community simply seems to think that they make sense.

     You have gotten fairly expert in saying why you think that these things do not make sense.  You might consider why it is that the broad base of the scientific community disagrees with you and has for a hundred years.  Do you believe that you have a larger, deeper and more thorough understanding of the science than they do?  Or is there some other reason?

     The attack on science doesn't make religion better or more appealing.  It makes religion sound as though it were in competition.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven


Ron
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quote:
It may, in fact, not be the best, and yet still be better than whatever you might offer for second place in terms of offering a clear and useful answer for scientific problems.

In science, Bob, often the best course, be it currently in first or second place, is to realize you have no clear and useful answers. The danger with thinking you do, of course, is that you stop asking the questions.

quote:
Common Ancestry and Evolution. They are useful theories.

Useful in what way, Bob? You never did answer that question?
Essorant
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31 posted 11-04-2009 12:34 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,


But I don't think it is just one way.  What we see is part of the answer as well.  There is also the aspect of philosophy and logic.  How do you logically explain the "before" and "after" of differences among the animal kingdom, and lifeforms that weren't here since the beginning of life on earth if you don't explain it as coming from changes among lifeforms that were here?   Or are you going to suggest that different and later animals, regardless of how complex, showed up the same way as the earliest and simplest first lifeforms showed up, without any "link" between the two?  Elephants just showed up all the sudden as elephants, apes as apes, humans as humans, etc?  A theory such as that wouldn't just lack evidence, but would lack logic too.

Bob K
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http://books.google.com/books?id=tBxGpaV-ocsC&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=scientific+usefulness+of+common+ancestry+and+evolution&source=bl&ots=2IwuXBaqdK&sig=ix_yMSBR4-M1tc5hoE9p0qEGJow&hl =en&ei=UhvySsyPDoLosQOFk9kQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CCIQ6AEwCDgU#v=onepage&q=&f=false

     I found the above reference which seemed to speak about the usefulness of the theories of common ancestry and of evolution.  These theories proved useful as descriptors of past events, and of present events around speciation. They are most effectively used in predicting and in describing events over the lifespans of short lived organisms, where we can have the chance to see the development of species over the course of a reasonably short period of time.  The reference above offers a few examples of this.  This is how common ancestry and evolution are useful.  Should there be more useful and more accurate descriptors and predictors, I would expect them to be used.

     I don't expect all results of research done on rats to be generalizable to people.  I am uncertain as to how completely data on speciation obtained on simpler organisms may apply to the changes that happen over longer periods of time to more complex organisms.  But for creationists to take part in that discussion, they would have to make some concessions that they may well be unwilling to make.  Perhaps that's not so.  At any rate, I can see this particular place as an area where I feel there's some trouble in the scientific discussion.  I don't know how solid a criticism that may actually prove to be.

     But as long as evolution has explanatory and predictive utility for changes in short lived populations where we can do research, then it presents itself as something not easily set aside.

     I hope that provides something of an answer for you, Ron.  I wasn't trying to be mysterious.  The section in the book excerpt is fairly decent.

Yours, Bob Kaven
Ron
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quote:
They are most effectively used in predicting and in describing events over the lifespans of short lived organisms, where we can have the chance to see the development of species over the course of a reasonably short period of time.

I would love to see a reference, Bob, where bacteria has stopped being bacteria or fruit flies have evolved into a new species of insect? I've never seen any indication from even the shortest-lived organisms that support macro-evolution. Have you?

The book you cite describes and predicts the past, or at least, what the theory says we should find in the past. Uh, but the theory is predicated on what we found in the past, isn't it? Isn't that a bit circular?

What does macro-evolution have to say about the future? What prediction can it make that is useful? Describing the past isn't enough to be a science. Mythologies describe the past. So do the countless conspiracy theories about Earth being seeded by beings from the stars. None of them qualify as science.

The leap from micro- to macro-evolution is necessarily a leap of faith.

Essorant
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34 posted 11-04-2009 09:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

If a sperm in the womb can evolve into a human being in less than a year, is it hard to believe a species can branch into a new species over millions of years?    
Bob K
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35 posted 11-05-2009 12:00 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     You should note, then, the transformation, mentioned on page 38 of the book whose reference I mention and which you read, the transformation of culex pipiens, the bird blood hungry mosquito from London, over the space of about a hundred years, once the environment had changed and the availability of birds was minimal, into culex molestus, a person blood loving mosquito, and a mosquito of another species over the course of about a hundred years between 1880 and 1990.  You might also check out the reference specified in the text.

     This doesn't make evolution more than a theory.  But it does suggest that there is useful science behind it.  Useful in the way that I suggested, that it can be used as a guide for planning experiments and for testing and for disproving so that one might come up with a theory that does a better job of doing the same thing.  

     The "research" in creationism is not focused on disproving the theory of creationism because the theory is set up in such a way as to be unfalsifiable.  It falls back on faith.

     Faith is important, even vital to the function of human beings.  I would, however, hesitate to use it except metaphorically in lieu of a parachute.  Nor would I wish to spend much time praying to a fact.  This is a confusion of realms.  We call miracles miraculous because they refuse to be made tame and predictable to mere human understanding.  Except metaphorically, we do not use faith to power a rocket.  We use it instead to encourage belief in our ability to reach beyond ourselves and find a way to solve the problem of how to power the rocket.  

      The two things seem to function on different levels of abstraction, faith and science.  And the argument between them seems to me to be a bogus struggle created by refusing to keep our abstractions appropriately sorted.

     It's a personal point of view, of course, and I don't expect it to carry much weight in this discussion.  But it's not offensive, and I like to be known as best I can, when I can manage it.

Best to everybody, Bob Kaven
Ron
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Unless the mosquito turned into something that was no longer a mosquito, Bob, you're still conflating micro- and macro-evolution. No one is arguing that a species can't change. There's just no evidence to suggest a species can change as dramatically as macro-evolution would demand.

You're also making this into a religious issue, I think, when it's not. It doesn't matter whether you're Christian or Hindu, atheist or agnostic, macro-evolution still requires a leap of faith far beyond any discipline I would care to call science. Indeed, this shouldn't be seen as evolution against creationism (which aren't at odd regardless), but rather evolution against science.


Bob K
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37 posted 11-05-2009 02:54 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron,
    
          The two species are in fact both mosquitoes.  One was not there at the beginning, in 1880, and was there in 1890, however.  That is a new species.

     The book is "The Origin of Species."  I was talking about the usefulness of evolution in research in speciation.  I happen to think in addition that it's our best tool for talking about larger changes as well.  Perhaps you have some better method to offer?  I haven't seen anything that sufficiently falsifies evolution as a theory to knock it out of the position it now occupies.  If you have, name it.  If you know of reputable scientific  peer reviewed journals who believe that the theory has been invalidated or disqualified, name them.  If you know of a single major scientific organization that thinks evolution is not the best scientific understanding we have at present of this material, tell me and give references.

     None of these people, including "The incorrigible David Berlinski" represent mainstream scientific opinion.  None of them, insofar as I understand it, offers a falsifiable alternative.  The criticisms they offer have been satisfying to themselves, but have not changed the ongoing development of biology or any of the other mainstream scientific disciplines.  They have not, insofar as I understand it, lead to any breakthroughs in technology or scientific understanding that have lead to anything more fascinating than tang.

     If there has been any breakthroughs on the basis of this line of thinking on, say, gravitation, or quantum physics, or metallurgy or the photoelectric effect  or mining technology, I would be happy to see it.  And also to see the science it was developed from, and see what the predictions are from from the work that developed it.

     That's not something you hear of very frequently, I've found, the cutting edge medical research coming out of the Creation Science research centers that's led to all the cures for the diseases that trouble us.  You'd think that if their science was so good, they'd really be able to show some results with it, wouldn't you?

     Evolution against Science?

     As I suggested, show me the creationist research that's proven to be the widely accepted basis of breakthroughs in science and technology.  

     Evolution has shown speciation in short lived organisms.  It's proven it so well, that even most creationists have to make that concession.  It is only because scientists studying the theory of evolution have been able to show short term speciation that you are now able to talk about micro evolution at all.  The theory of Evolution was the theory of evolution, not the theory of micro-evolution and maybe the theory of macro-evolution.  It was the Theory of Evolution.

     You have simply lost the battle and are seeking to retrench on different ground, where you hope — you hope! — that nobody will find a way to track a larger leap than one between species over a reasonably short run.

     While I have developed a wild curiosity as to where prions may have come from, and when.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Ron
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quote:
None of these people, including "The incorrigible David Berlinski" represent mainstream scientific opinion.

Ahh. Is your interest in Truth, Bob? Or in quantifying popular opinion? People like Einstein and Bohr didn't represent mainstream scientific opinion, either. They changed it to be representative of themselves.

When scientists deduced our sun to be a nuclear furnace it answered a lot of perplexing questions. However, when other high energy sources were discovered in the sky, things like pulsars and quasars, they didn't automatically jump to the conclusion they had found some really BIG nuclear furnaces. They knew that one right answer doesn't always scale to the next right answer.

Evolutions is supposed to tell us how life came to exist. However, the touchstone of any good science is repeatability. Even the Big Bang, the most unique event in all of history, is being repeated, in essence, by scientists in Geneva. So, why is evolution excepted from the rigors of repeatability? When scientists can mix a batch of primordial soup, using whatever recipe they want, in whatever conditions they determine best, and produce Life from non-Life, then evolution can be called a science. Until evolution can be repeated in the laboratory, it will remain a pseudo-science like numerology or the I-Ching, of little practical use and not to be trusted.

Regardless of popular opinions.


Essorant
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39 posted 11-05-2009 11:32 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ron,

quote:
Until evolution can be repeated in the laboratory, it will remain a pseudo-science like numerology or the I-Ching, of little practical use and not to be trusted.



Earlier you were distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution, but now you are writing off all evolution?


Grinch
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quote:
Even the Big Bang, the most unique event in all of history, is being repeated, in essence, by scientists in Geneva


In essence Ron?

Do you mean they're creating a whole universe from scratch or is the experiment on a slightly smaller scale - a micro version of part of the process perhaps?

quote:
When scientists can mix a batch of primordial soup, using whatever recipe they want, in whatever conditions they determine best, and produce Life from non-Life, then evolution can be called a science. Until evolution can be repeated in the laboratory, it will remain a pseudo-science like numerology or the I-Ching, of little practical use and not to be trusted.


If that's the case then, unfortunately, the big bang theory falls into the same category along with a whole slew of unrepeatable scientific theories.

Fortunately scientific theories don't have to be repeatable, repeatability is only expected in the case of experiments which are claimed to be proof of a particular hypothesis. If the scientists in Geneva get results that aren't repeatable it doesn't mean that the big bang never happened, it simply means that they've failed to prove the particular hypothesis they set out to test.

quote:
There's just no evidence to suggest a species can change as dramatically as macro-evolution would demand.


Apart from the evidence of all the diverse animals that weren’t around in the Cambrian and, very conspicuously, are around now. They came from somewhere Ron, either they evolved from earlier life forms or they popped, or were popped, into existence out of thin air. How do you think it happened?

.
Bob K
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     Wow, Ron.

     Got things turned around a little?

     This doesn't have much to do with popular opinion.

     Near as I can tell, you're the one who's chucking popular opinion around.  Lot of people believing in angels these days, probably more than those who believe in evolution.  That's popular opinion.

     I asked about whether there was any hard science coming out of the laboratories of those people who claimed to be scientists who were researching any of those theories which were competing with evolution.  

     Do I actually get an answer?   "Uh, no," is the phrase you use from time to time, isn't it?  What I get is an essay on Einstein and Bohr.

     I might remind you that Einstein went from obscurity in 1905 to world fame and acceptance within perhaps fifteen years.  He presented a coherent theory that people might quarrel with.  Lots of people did, but it was reasonably clear that they were wrong in perhaps ten years.  Bohr's work was accepted though quarreled about by the main stream pretty quickly.  He presented a theory that people were able to look at and quarrel about in the open (in peer reviewed scientific journals, both of them).  It wasn't popular opinion that swung, it was scientific opinion that swung in both cases.

     Rush Limbaugh is not peer reviewed.  Nobody has to decide that his facts are straight and his reasoning is good before what he says comes out for community consideration.  The scientific community runs on different standards.  You do know this, and I know that you know this.  

     What I don't know and what I don't understand is why you forgot this in replying to me.

     All I made claims for was speciation.  I showed you references for speciation.  They seemed like pretty good references, didn't they?  They made the point neatly and directly that here was a case of a new species coming from an old species over the period of about a hundred years.  References supplied.  Ribbon and bow.

     Now you'd like me to revisit the Urey-Miller experiment.  Why?  The Urey-Miller experiment is an experiment in albiogenesis, quite specifically the study of how life may be related to inorganic matter, and how it may have come from that matter.  It suggests that it is possible for amino acids to have been created out of naturally occurring chemical processes on the planet billions of years ago.  

     The experiment is important because it proves the possibility is there.  The experiment catches in the craw of the folks who don't like any aspect of evolutionary theory to gain credibility because it proved something that had been a point of contention for many years beforehand.  Now they must say, Yes, it is possible for such things to happen, and furthermore, the experiment can pretty much be repeated any time and our noses will be rubbed in our denial.

     So they have now changed the point of contention.  Now they have demanded that instead of proving the possibility that life can be created through natural means and chance, they wish to demand, in this case through Ron, that actual life itself be delivered up to them on a plate.   Nor can I say that it's an unreasonable request, though I might well wonder where the money to fund such a project might come from.

     I don't know how much private money is available for research of this type.  I'd like to see some money available for such research, myself, and perhaps some more clarity might be achieved, one way or the other.  I have no particular horse in the race, but I have a lot of curiosity to see some actual hard data

     And yes, I'm interested in what the truth of the matter is, Ron.  Those who hang their hat on the literal creation story will need to find other, firmer reasons to be Christian — which would help the religion, I think, and maybe, in the long run, help them to a more solid Christianity.  I hope.

     Then you and I can butt heads on the I-Ching.
Brad
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Evolution:
quote:
Biology. change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.


Ron:

quote:
Evolutions is supposed to tell us how life came to exist.


Um, when did the meaning change?

quote:
And don't just say that there is no distinction between micro and macro ... that would be reiterating the whole contention of Berlinski:  taking something that all agree on, and presenting it as evidence for something on an entirely different scale.


But that's your job, Stephen. Why should there be a distinction between micro and macro? If there is, what are the conditions that create that "boundedness"?

Predictions:

The Future is Wild

Not science as such but a hell of a lot of fun.

Ron
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quote:
In essence Ron?

Yes, in essence. It's arguable whether they can create a whole universe from scratch, but they certainly can't create our universe from scratch. The hope, however, is to recreate the environment that was present immediately after the primordial singularity went boom. If the scientists at Geneva "get results that aren't repeatable" it very simply won't be science. Indeed, I would say that "results that aren't repeatable" is a pretty good definition of miracle?

The more important point, however, is that physics tries to test its theories by recreating conditions that can disprove what it hopes to prove. No, the results at CERN won't prove the Big Bang didn't happen (good luck proving a negative), but they just might prove we don't understand what we thought we understood. There is currently no danger of that happening with evolution, though, because evolution can't be tested in the laboratory. It isn't science.

quote:
Apart from the evidence of all the diverse animals that weren’t around in the Cambrian and, very conspicuously, are around now.

That's the question, Grinch, not the evidence, and certainly not the answer. Where did they come from? Maybe they were dropped off by little green men from Tau Ceti. There's certainly as much hard evidence for that as there is for macro-evolution. Judging by the accumulation of UFO reports every year, there might be more.

quote:
Near as I can tell, you're the one who's chucking popular opinion around.

I think you need to read your own posts a little more clearly, Bob. You're the one who keeps going back to what scientists currently think -- as opposed to what scientists have previously proven.

quote:
I asked about whether there was any hard science coming out of the laboratories of those people who claimed to be scientists who were researching any of those theories which were competing with evolution.

I must have missed the query, Bob. I didn't know we were talking about other, competing theories. In any event, I fail to see how any lack of hard evidence for theories competing with evolution is going to produce any hard evidence FOR evolution?

quote:
I might remind you that Einstein went from obscurity in 1905 to world fame and acceptance within perhaps fifteen years.

LOL. And in doing so, Bob, he upended almost 300 years of your "mainstream scientific opinion."

quote:
And yes, I'm interested in what the truth of the matter is, Ron. Those who hang their hat on the literal creation story will need to find other, firmer reasons to be Christian — which would help the religion, I think, and maybe, in the long run, help them to a more solid Christianity.

Again with the religion, Bob? Why?

quote:
Why should there be a distinction between micro and macro? If there is, what are the conditions that create that "boundedness"?

Excellent question, Brad.

There has to be a distinction because one can be explored scientifically and the other can't, or at least hasn't been in any meaningful way. The leap from micro- to macro is one we are asked to accept on faith.

Just to be clear, guys, I'm not arguing that evolution isn't necessarily right. I'm arguing, rather, that it isn't science. It is every bit as much faith based as any religion practiced by man.


Brad
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44 posted 11-05-2009 06:54 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron,

"Science" is a variable term. Northrop Frye, for example, likes to call his views of literary criticism "scientific". I don't think we can read that today without a slight cringe (I can't) but writing when he was writing, he seemed perfectly serious.

That doesn't mean his ideas are useless.

Stephen,

I haven't watched all the Berlinski videos yet but I'm struck by two major points.

1. He, intentionally or unconsciously, misunderstands evolution.

He makes the offhand statement that in a hundred million years a finch can become an elephant.

Evolutionary theory says this is impossible.

He's probably being flippant and I'm being nitpicky but it's close enough to the kind of misinformation being brandied about in other venues to be worrisome.

2. He asks for the impossible.

Evolution is not teleological.He argues that 50,000 morphological changes have to take place for a cow-like creature to become a whale. He argues that we should be able to quantify that using evolutionary theory (the analogy he uses is changing a car to a submarine).

Uh, no.  Evolutionary theory can't do that.  

Look at a lawn sprinkler in your yard or in a park. It is mathematically impossible to predict where each water drop will fall (there are too many variables).

What you can do is, knowing where enough drops fall, retrodict the location of that sprinkler (the origin).

And that's what evolution does.

(Quiz time: anybody know where I got that analogy?)

But is that bit of retrodiction not scientific or, worse, unscientific?

Ron,

With dark matter, dark energy, and the Pioneer anomaly (both spaceships are slightly accelerating), your strict definition of science may rapidly be limited to pure mathematics and nothing else.

I can live with that.
Brad
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45 posted 11-05-2009 07:59 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Up to Berlinski clip 17.

Wow!

His point isn't just that evolution is problematic, it's that science in general is problematic.

"Has Physics progressed since Newtonian mechanics?

Well, it's certainly been enriched . . . but we know as little about science as we know about the cosmos . . . ."

Honestly, I don't know what he means here but his attitude is clear.  His description of science is that of a Romanticized Kuhn. His premise is Socratic or at least the popular version of Socrates:

"I know that I know nothing"

I read somewhere that that is actually a mistranslation:

"I know when I know nothing."

That is, I know the limits of my knowledge and you don't.
Ron
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46 posted 11-05-2009 08:13 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Look at a lawn sprinkler in your yard or in a park. It is mathematically impossible to predict where each water drop will fall (there are too many variables).

We also can't predict where every molecule of oxygen in the room will bounce, Brad, but we can statistically analyze where and how the aggregate will behave. Quite accurately, too. That's science.

quote:
(Quiz time: anybody know where I got that analogy?)

From famous mathematician, Charlie Eppes?

quote:
With dark matter, dark energy, and the Pioneer anomaly (both spaceships are slightly accelerating), your strict definition of science may rapidly be limited to pure mathematics and nothing else.

Brad, I think those are problems with answers. Just because we don't know the answers (yet) doesn't preclude them from scientific exploration. The Pioneer anomaly is a good example because it is repeatable. The same anomaly should raise its head with every space craft we send out of the solar system. If it doesn't, physics will have some serious problems, not just questions.

I will give you this, though: science that can't be expressed mathematically will, to my mind, always be questionable. Psychology would be a good example of that; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The difference is, even with its soft results, psychology can be useful. It makes predictions, even if those predictions are wrong more than right. Evolution can't even do that. When push comes to shove, the best evolution can say is, "Stuff happens." And we sure don't need a pseudo-science to tell us that.


Bob K
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47 posted 11-05-2009 08:27 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

quote:

quote: (Bob)
Near as I can tell, you're the one who's chucking popular opinion around.


quote: (Ron)
I think you need to read your own posts a little more clearly, Bob. You're the one who keeps going back to what scientists currently think -- as opposed to what scientists have previously proven.




     Since when are peer reviewed scientific journals "popular opinion" as opposed to evaluated research and comment?  If these things were "popular opinion," you might even be able to get away with the sort of statements you're trying to get away with here.  In a peer reviewed scientific journal, you'd have to convince a bunch of other folks who understood the field and what you were talking about about the validity of your opinion first.  It's not always easy.  Even Einstein had to do a bit of hunting for his initial publications in peer reviewed journals.  He found them.  

     For you to suggest this is a popularity contest is a distortion 1) of what I said; and 2), the facts as well.  The popularity contest seems to be going the other direction since there seems to be a mysterious lack of educational funding for science these days, and the religious right wants equal time for discussion of religious theory in science class, as though it actually had a place there.

     You seem to be in a hurry to skip over what scientists have already proven.  You conflate creation with speciation, for example.  Evolution may talk about how one species may move into another, and about how larger shifts may occur, but I can't recall Darwin insisting on any scenarios for creation.  Perhaps my memory has developed Brain Fog.  Species, yes, creation, not so much as I recall, though I stand ready for correction.  I suspect that Darwin didn't actually believe in Divine Creation, mind you, but I don't think that he made that party of his position on evolution.  I think he tried to stay neutral, though he didn't really fool many people about his more general air of skepticism.


quote:

    
quote: (Bob)
I asked about whether there was any hard science coming out of the laboratories of those people who claimed to be scientists who were researching any of those theories which were competing with evolution.

quote: (Ron)
I must have missed the query, Bob. I didn't know we were talking about other, competing theories. In any event, I fail to see how any lack of hard evidence for theories competing with evolution is going to produce any hard evidence FOR evolution?




     Much as I would like to dispose of any theories you advance by disposing of statements you haven't made on subjects that haven't come up as well, I do try to avoid it.  I don't know that I've abstained entirely, but I have tried.

     I haven't for example, made any statements about creation science (there's an oxymoron for you) being responsible for proving evolution.  I have to confess, I was somewhat thrilled to have been put in that position by you, but no; actually I didn't mention evolution in that regard at all.  I simply suggested that it would be a good thing if any of their evolutionary research or research into hard science based on their discoveries in creation science had ever been used to produce any practical science — based on their scientific research in creation science, of course.  Not in Evolution — heavens to Betsy, no.  In any hard science.  

     I actually spent some time listing some of them above, in case you might have misunderstood me.  I suggested but did not intend to limit myself to:

quote:


any breakthroughs on the basis of this line of thinking on, say, gravitation, or quantum physics, or metallurgy or the photoelectric effect  or mining technology, I would be happy to see it.  And also to see the science it was developed from, and see what the predictions are from from the work that developed it.




     Wanting to offer you the widest possible latitude for a response, I didn't want to limit you to responding with discoveries in hard science that might pass a generally accepted peer reviewed science journal such as Science or Nature only in areas of biology or evolution, but which might get by such journals in other sciences as well.  General Archives of Psychiatry would have been fine with me, and still is, as long as the research comes from the hard research that these Creation Scientists are putting into Creation Science and its spin-offs.

     Or even the reverse, where experiments in other field of science lead to experiments in another field, as apparently did the Urey-Miller experiments come from looking over earlier experimental data in another field entirely.

     This single-minded self-absorbtion and self-referential thinking is one of the things that tends to distinguish real science from what you call pseudo science, isn't it?  Hard science has spin-offs, and people follow them from say, Special Relativity, to General Relativity, to String Theory and the increasingly more arcane experimental technology that seems to be gathering around these areas.  Except in Creation Science, of course, which seems to try to go over the same ground, again and again, looking for new and interesting ways to destroy the wheel.

    

Essorant
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48 posted 11-05-2009 08:40 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
I read somewhere that that is actually a mistranslation...


That is probably from the similarity of the Greek `οτε [hote] "when" and `οτι [hoti] "that".  
 
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


49 posted 11-05-2009 09:26 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephen,

Thank you, that insult clip alone was worth the time it took to watch all the others.

Ess,

That sounds good to me.  I read that a few years back and never pursued it.

Ron,

But retro-diction in Evolution works. Berlinski even admits that. What about cladistics, species radiation, and retroviral DNA?  

At the very least, it tells us in general what to look for and what to prepare for.

If you look at, say, the new tuberculosis strains in Russia, wouldn't it have made more sense to take Evolutionary theory seriously instead of falling back on the medicine is magic theory?

Does that put us back into micro-evolution?  Perhaps, but the more you go after macro, the more micro and related policies, seem to disappear.

As Berlinski likes to say, that's just human nature.

Apparently, it never occurs to him to ask why that is human nature.

 
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