Post by creature386 on Mar 16, 2017 14:19:21 GMT 5
I already addressed the "problem" of living fossils before, but I'm kinda unsatisfied with my rebuttal (it just doesn't sound very convincing), so I'm looking forward to what you have to say on the matter.
"Science is observable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable. Evolution is neither."
This sort of definition of science is often parroted, but rarely understood. Instead of reciting definitions, we need to take a step back and understand the philosophy behind it.
1. The observation part perhaps needs the most explanation: Science is based on the principle of empiricism which basically states there is a reality external to ourselves and that our senses inform us about it. In other words, a theory is scientific if its truth has an influence on our sensory experience. What needs to be understood is that everything we observe is essentially just a model of external reality. The so-called qualia (the "redness" of red or heat-as-we-feel it) do not exist on a fundamental level of physics, they only exist inside our brains which means that any observation we make passes through a filter of interpretation. As such, witnessing a phenomenon is not more empirical than just seeing the fingerprints it has left. You can be more confident about it, since it is harder to make mistakes, so it is better evidence, but they are not fundamentally different methods of inquiry and you cannot just ignore fingerprints (this is a metaphor for inference in general) outright. This is the reason why it is not necessary to actually witness a phenomenon to vindicate it scientifically. You do diffract as you pass through a door to know that massive objects (like you) have wave properties (albeit negligible ones at your size). The double slits experiment is sufficient. Likewise, noone would call Einstein a pseudoscientist because he has never observed the literal curvature of spacetime in the way creationists would like it. It was sufficient for him to know that his theory of gravity had different impacts on the orbits of planets and the trajectory of light than classical mechanics and this was enough for him. In order for a theory to be even in principle unobservable, it would either need to be causally disconnected from our lightcone, have left its fingerprints in inaccessible locations (like black holes or very specific planets in the Triangulum galaxy), have got its traces removed from human inquiry (this would include very specific historical claims, like the first words Caesar said after he woke up on his 37th birthday; nothing recorded that) or be disconnected to our sensory experience (like an invisible dragon in my garage which is intangible, inaudible and breathes cold fire). Since evolution claims that every living being arose from a common ancestor in a branching process of descent with modification (plus some horizontal forms of inheritance which I will ignore for the sake of simplicity), we can expect to have access to evolution's fingerprints when we investigate living beings. I think I already covered the power of inference when responding to other claims. Let me just say this: Inference IS observable evidence.
2. Testability means that a hypothesis or theory is capable of making predictions which rivaling hypotheses do not make or does not make predictions which other hypotheses do make. In more simple words, something is testable if it can be the best explanation for something. Critics of string theory or multiverse theories often point out that postulating fundamental strings or several universes do not make any new predictions that a single universe or the standard model of particle physics do not make which is why these theories are not testable (this is actually a controversial point disputed by advocates of the theories, but it still serves as an illustrative example). Many "woo" based explanations for consciousness suffer from a similar problem, since they do not make any predictions that classical neuroscience does not make.
As for positive examples, the hypothesis that the Earth rotates is testable because it makes predictions that a fixed Earth does not make. The most obvious one is the Coriolis effect which manifests itself in the apparent deflection of the paths of the winds.
Evolutionary theory does make such predictions. No rivaling hypothesis predicts a nested hierarchy classification scheme (i.e. when you classify organisms on the basis of their morphology and genetics, they fall in groups inside bigger groups inside bigger groups etc.). The only rival I can think of would be some sort of fixity of kinds which would predict consistent nested hierarchies inside these "kinds" and none of these between the "kinds".
3. "Repeatability" should better be rephrased as "reproducibility", as this captures closer what is meant. Reproducibility is a criterion added to avoid subjectivity. Eyewitness testimony is an example of non-repeatable and hence non-scientific evidence (it is legal evidence though, since it is accepted in a court). If I see someone in my garden, this is not reproducible, since only I can verify it. If this person leaves footprints though, others can verify it as well (unless something washes the footprints away). An example of reproducibility comes from the Hockey stick graph of Michael Mann (which illustrates climate change over the last two thousand years). Climate change deniers have disputed it, but other scientists were able to reproduce his graph. Evolutionary theory passes this one. If you make a phylogenetic analysis, other scientists should be able to reproduce your tree. Reproducibility separates science from history.
4. In order to actually understand falsifiability, we must understand the concept of fallibilism. Empiricism can never prove anything with 100% certainty. Several thought experiments have shown that. A Cartesian demon could delude you by sending you false sensory experiences, a cosmic jester could have created the whole world 3 seconds ago and implanted false memories, records and diary entries of events that never happened and holes in our socks to fool us. You get the point. What is worse, we do not have access to 100% of the knowledge in the universe. No matter how many correct predictions our theory has made, we can never be absolutely sure that this will continue. We can observe the Sun rising a 10,000 times, but this does not guarantee it will do so tomorrow. If a chicken gets fed by a farmer everyday, it could formulate a theory which says "If the farmer comes, I get fed". Then he comes not with food, but with a knife. Hence, any scientific theory must be falsifiable. What does that mean? If you cannot know something with a certainty of 100% or 0%, you need probabilities. Let's look at Bayes theorem:
I'm gonna steal the description from Yudkowsky:
To review quickly, B here refers to an item of evidence, Ai is some hypothesis under consideration, and the Aj are competing, mutually exclusive hypotheses. P(B|Ai) means "the probability of seeing B, if hypothesis Ai is true" and P(Ai|B) means "the probability hypothesis Ai is true, if we see B".
P(Aj) and P(Ai) are the priors of the respective hypotheses. A prior is the probability of a hypothesis before evaluating the evidence. Something like evaluating the probability of a dice roll before rolling it (these priors are irrelevant, I was just explaining in case you are confused, the relevant part is in the Yudkowsky quote).
A hypothesis is falsifiable if some outcomes are more probable than others. It must rule out possibilities.
Freudian psychoanalysis was deemed unfalsifiable because it could come up with equally good explanations for every scenario. Likewise, creationism suffers from the problem that without knowing anything about the abilities or the psychology of the creator, we cannot assign any higher probability to some scenario over another. There is no reason why God should use a common design rather than not using it. Uncommon design in fact covers a broader scope of possible designs.
An example of a falsifiable idea is the existence of protons. When firing particles alpha particles at an atom, the hypothesis that there is a positive particle in the middle of the atom predicts that some alpha particles should be deflected and there are statistical trends in the deflection patterns favored by the proton hypothesis.
Evolution passes this one as well. The likelihood of finding fossils of rabbits in the Neogene is quite high under evolution. So is the likelihood of finding fossils of them in the Paleogene. The probability of finding them in the Cretaceous is lower. The probability of a rabbit in the Jurassic is low. The probability of a rabbit in the Triassic is even lower. The probability of a rabbit in the Triassic is fantastically improbable under evolution.
Other possible falsifications: -Things like crocoducks or pegasi which are very difficult to classify and violate the principle of homology. -Huge morphological leaps in a generation, like a monkey giving birth to a human. -Nonsensical adaptations, like blind creatures being brightly colored and clearly visible to everyone for no purpose. -Inconsistent phylogeny (a phylogenetic tree based on pseudogenes having no resemblance to any tree based on ERVs, for instance).
None of this would drop the likelihood of evolution down to 0%, but depending on the statistical significance of findings, they could damage it so much that it could fall out of favor.
"The fact that evolutionary scientists disagree with each other (e.g. punctuated equilibrium vs gradualism on which we have disagreement between Gould and Dawkins and extended synthesis on which we have disagreement between Coyne and Pigliucci) shows that evolutionists cannot get their stories straight and that it is therefore wrong."
1. The claim is a non-sequitur. The mentioned scientists are not debating whether evolution happened, they are debating the rate and mechanisms behind it. And even on that, there is quite a lot of consensus. Natural selection is almost universally accepted for instance. Only the role it plays is disputed. Another open problem are the roles of horizontal gene transfer and epigenetics which show that inheritance is not as straightforward as once thought and leaves open questions on whether the tree of life isn't more like a bush. New models have been created to account for this, like the extended evolutionary synthesis championed by Massimo Pigliucci and others:
What needs to be understood is that there are many theories in science with open problems that are not getting discarded on the basis of that. They are refined. Think of it that way, if your daughter is sick, you don't need to euthanize her, antibiotics are enough (in most cases, even less would be enough). A quite huge open question in physics is how to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. Both theories have a lot of evidence and most creationists probably accept them despite the fact that there is an open problem with both, they don't go well together! As such, a new, more encompassing theory will be needed. And there is a lot of disagreement among physicists about that. Neither string theory, nor loop quantum gravitation, nor anything similar has so far attained any consensus among physicists. However, this certainly does not overturn anything we've learned about gravity or quantum physics. General relativity itself has not so much replaced classical mechanics, but rather refined it. Classical mechanics are still getting taught in schools for a good reasons because they still have a reliable predictive capacity for most situations, even though there are areas where they are not applicable anymore, like very high speeds (or specifics about the orbit of Mercury). For another example, there are problems in atomic theory because the relationship between quarks and leptons is poorly understood. Some physicists have proposed hypothetical particles called X and Y bosons which hardly represent any consensual view because they have not been confirmed by experimentation. So yeah, there is serious dispute about the nature of atoms among physicists. Are you arguing that atoms do not exist? An analogy I like to consider for scientific disputes is that of a pyramid. There is a solid foundation about which is rarely talked. There are less solid, higher elements which are shaky and about which there is controversy. The tenets of Darwinism (organisms reproduce with variation, traits are inheritable, said traits have an influence on the likelihood of passing them on etc.) are not controversial at all. Open questions are rather about the specifics of inheritance and whether these factors are all there is or whether there is more that needs to be added.
2. If there were no open questions in evolutionary biology, the field would not exist. What would be the point of research if you already know everything? Since academic papers have to offer some new insights, every single field in which research is done has open questions.
3. If this was a sound argument, creationism would be so dead. There is a reason why a distinction between young Earth and old Earth creationists is made because latter group believes the universe is about 2 million times as old as the former one believes. And these are only Christian creationists. If we add Hindu creationists, we can conclude that creationist claims on the age of the universe range from thousands to trillions of years. This magnitude of disagreement trumps any disagreement in the evolutionist camp. Even when we only look at young Earth creationists, there are serious disagreements about the causes of the flood (compare vapor canopy, the hydroplate theory and a simple Goddidit) and on whether dinosaurs are still alive, went extinct in the flood, went extinct shortly after that or are still alive today. If the definition of creationism also includes any form of Intelligent Design where evolution is denied, we can deduce that creationists even disagree on the very nature of the creator, as some ID proponents propose that aliens and not some deity created us. If the disagreement among creationists was comparable to that in evolutionary biology, they would only dispute the mechanisms used by God to create everything, but they mostly do not even attempt to talk about that.
4. Some may find that comparison insulting, but Michael Shermer has noted that this sort of tactic is reminiscent of popular Holocaust denier tactics:
1. Holocaust deniers find errors in the scholarship of historians and then imply that therefore their conclusions are wrong, as if historians never make mistakes. Evolution deniers (a more appropriate title than creationists) find errors in science and imply that all of science is wrong, as if scientists never make mistakes. 2. Holocaust deniers are fond of quoting, usually out of context, leading Nazis, Jews, and Holocaust scholars to make it sound like they are supporting Holocaust deniers' claims. Evolution deniers are fond of quoting leading scientists like Stephen Jay Gould and Ernst Mayr out of context and implying that they are cagily denying the reality of evolution. 3. Holocaust deniers contend that genuine and honest debate between Holocaust scholars means they themselves doubt the Holocaust or cannot get their stories straight. Evolution deniers argue that genuine and honest debate between scientists means even they doubt evolution or cannot get their science straight.
The irony of this analogy is that the Holocaust deniers can at least be partially right (the best estimate of the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz, for example, has changed), whereas the evolution deniers cannot even be partially right—once you allow divine intervention into the scientific process, all assumptions about natural law go out the window, and with them science.
Another quote on Holocaust deniers in particular (from another enumeration later in the book):
4. They mistake genuine, honest debates between scholars about certain points within a field for a dispute about the existence of the entire field. Deniers take the intentionalist-functionalist debate about the development of the Holocaust as an argument about whether the Holocaust happened or not.
I suppose most creationists accept that the Holocaust has happened despite the fact that the relevant experts are debating specifics (to which extent there was a masterplan behind the extermination of the Jews).
5. This claim flat-out contradicts other creationist claims about scientists being close minded (which would suggest against a diversity of views) and a global evolutionist conspiracy (which would make it very, very easy to eradicate all debate and "get the story straight"). You cannot have it both ways.
 Shermer, Michael (1997) Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
I already addressed the "problem" of living fossils before, but I'm kinda unsatisfied with my rebuttal (it just doesn't sound very convincing), so I'm looking forward to what you have to say on the matter.
I forgot about this. Sorry that I haven't been able to get it up so quick. I doubt my rebuttal will be much (if any) better than yours anyway, but nevertheless I will try.
"Let every creature go for broke and sing Let's hear it in the herd and on the wing"
A problem with refuting such claims is estimating the inferential distance between us and those we are addressing: lesswrong.com/lw/kg/expecting_short_inferential_distances/ Basically, how much does the creationist who makes such a claim even know about paleontology? Mostly, literally everything they know about paleontology comes from other creationists. I often overestimate their knowledge in discussions and then write stuff which only I understand or which sounds unconvincing because it assumes background knowledge they don't have. I've now edited my rebuttal to the living fossil claim to include a brief overview of life on Earth in different geological epochs. I often see (old Earth)* creationists revealing "shocking" information like "Look, a 400 million year old coelacanth, a 150 million year old dragonfly! So much time and they did not change, how do evolutionists explain that?". I sometimes find myself wondering if these are literally the first fossils they have ever seen (as they don't care much for science, they only want it to support their brand of religious extremism) and if they can put them in any greater context. This is the problem. You don't just have to understand your position, you have to understand your opponent's position! Scientists who want to debate creationists do not realize this and hence are puzzled why after the debate everyone in the audience congratulates the creationist instead of them.
*They probably don't even know how old Earth is, I only called them that way because they don't question the accuracy of dating methods.
Post by Infinity Blade on May 5, 2019 7:40:26 GMT 5
Would refuting the image below count here? I guess the claim is "You don't have to believe in evolution to be a competent scientist". There was originally a rebuttal to this online elsewhere, but I can't seem to find it anymore. If anyone can find it, please post it here, for I believe it addresses this even better than I could. If it no longer exists, then I will address it myself here. Edit: found it->. I'll bring up much of the same points of the original as I can, with perhaps a bit of my own unique input.
1.) I do want to be fair: the claim is technically true. You don't have to think that evolution is a real natural process to be a competent scientist...if you're not working in the life sciences and/or the year is pre-1859, that is. If you deny evolution, try putting yourself in the opposite position - i.e. working in the life sciences today - , and see where that gets you. But even if you're a scientist who's not working in the life sciences and you deny evolution, what might this say about your ability to analyze and understand evidence? Or at least your willingness to acknowledge that such evidence exists, regardless of whether or not you like the implications such evidence has? Both of which have importance (to say the least) to any scientific field.
2.) Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and Johannes Kepler (I'd kindly like to point out that Kepler's first name ended in 'es') all died well before Darwin published On the Origin of Species. You don't judge them for what they couldn't have possibly known during their lives. For this reason, what they thought about it - which is to say, absolutely nothing - is completely irrelevant. Therefore, citing them as "scientists who didn't believe in evolution" for the sake of your narrative, when they were literally hundreds of years away from even being able to know what the theory of evolution is (let alone having the necessary experience and expertise in the life sciences to be termed an authority in such), is an appeal to authority. Funny note about Bacon, though: he favored a completely naturalistic approach to science and leaving the Bible out of it. He believed that just saying "goddidit" wouldn't get you anywhere. In other words, Lietha chose to cite a non-evolutionist scientist who, if he were alive today, would probably be opposed to creationists' approach to explaining the origins of life.
Michael Faraday and Wernher von Braun must have heard of Darwin's theory of evolution (Faraday had been retired for a year by the time the Origin was published, while von Braun lived decades after Darwin died), and so must have thought something of it. I am not aware of anything documenting their personal views regarding the theory of evolution. Regardless of what their views were, neither worked in the life sciences like Darwin had. Again, citing them as "scientists who didn't believe in evolution" for the sake of your narrative, when they were not even authorities in that field, is an appeal to authority.
The only scientist mentioned who truly does figure into this - i.e. the only scientist among the six who would have been in any position at all to make any authoritative statements or claims regarding the theory of evolution - is Louis Pasteur. And guess what? Pasteur accepted evolution->. He may not have subscribed to Darwin's particular views on evolution (e.g. the mechanism of natural selection), but he believed in evolution, nevertheless.
Infinity Blade: I'm not sure. Freshwater plants certainly grow from the underwater sediment upwards, but I don't know if they support the same kinds of diverse ecosystems seagrass meadows do.
Mar 25, 2022 21:40:57 GMT 5
Supercommunist: Is there a freshwater equivalent of seagrass meadows?
Mar 24, 2022 22:17:28 GMT 5
hypezephyr: IN DROWN, WATER WILL CHIMPS
May 27, 2021 22:33:21 GMT 5
kekistani: IN WATER, CHIMPS WILL DROWN.
Mar 18, 2021 11:18:01 GMT 5
roninwolf1981: I wonder why is it that the greater apes would drown if they fell into water from the trees?
Mar 16, 2021 22:25:11 GMT 5
kekistani: The virgin and bluepilled Mokele Mbembe versus the CHAD and REDPILLED Water Elephant
Mar 4, 2021 22:31:57 GMT 5
Ceratodromeus: Considering even the most terrestrially inclined extant crocodilians are also very good swimmers, i see zero reason for sebechids to not be.
Feb 25, 2021 21:09:18 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Virtually every terrestrial animal can swim if it needs to. I don't know about tail flexibility, though.
Feb 21, 2021 22:17:14 GMT 5
jhg: Probably not. Terrestrial crocodiles stayed on land for a good reason.
Feb 21, 2021 11:17:16 GMT 5
Supercommunist: Do you think sebecids and other crocodile-like terrestrial animals were good swimmers and if so, would they have used their tails to swim or would they have been too stiff?
Feb 21, 2021 6:16:35 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Welcome to World of Animals.
Jan 31, 2021 5:06:24 GMT 5
Supercommunist: Any idea how well pterosaurs would have fared in extremely cold climates? I can't help but assume that their wing membranes would be more vunerable to frostbite than a bird's wing.
Jan 23, 2021 9:38:14 GMT 5
Supercommunist: Turns out there is a study: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-08812-2 fresh bones provided 63% more energy than dry bones but what I find intresting is that dry bones that are between 3-12 months old is still a viable food source for them.
Jan 4, 2021 9:18:34 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: I think they might get calcium from the bones, but those might be harder to digest as well. For bone marrow, I'd say however long it's around before it completely decays.
Jan 4, 2021 6:23:06 GMT 5
Supercommunist: Question: I know a bearded vulture's diet consists mainly of bone marrow, but are they able to derive nutritional value from old bones or do the bones have to be relatively fresh?
Jan 4, 2021 2:59:21 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Happy New Year mudda fuggas.
Jan 1, 2021 10:02:06 GMT 5