Angry Doctor

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's just a THEORY, stupid

Rather unexpectedly, the discussion on the "exorcism" trial has spilled over to the topic of evolution.

Since angry doc is no expert in evolution, he has decided to seek help from fellow Clearthought blogger Leng Hiong to tell us why the theory of evolution is a "theory", and not a "fact".

Do have a read.

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34 Comments:

  • You did note that the article attempted to disprove creationism and intelligent design in the 2nd last para without supporting evidence (similar to the Bajwa fellow's "you made a lot of lies" comment incident), without even daring to outright say evolution is in fact better or more correct than those 2?

    To quote the author

    "To me, the most important concept in science is the testable prediction.

    Equipped with supporting evidence from facts and a explanatory framework from theories, we can then proceed to make precise, daring predictions."

    Which you already said does not apply to evolution (the making prediction bit)......
    So.... are you agreeing with him? Or not? ;)

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 09, 2008 9:08 pm  

  • Leng Hiong's piece is mainly about the use of the word 'theory' when describing the theory of evolution, and how this is often used by creationists to insinuate that evolution is just a conjecture.

    Yes, I am saying that what we know about evolution right now does not allow us to make precise predictions. This is less so in the controlled conditions of the lab, but true in the 'real' world.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 09, 2008 9:26 pm  

  • To address zhanzhao's earlier comment on gravitation:

    Practising physicists consider gravitation to be a theory, and an incomplete one as yet - which is why experiments like LIGO still going on.

    The Law of Gravitation, strictly speaking, refers to Newton's formulation of the gravitational attraction. It is an empirical law, ie, it's based on measurable observations. It's just a statement that says what the force will be between two masses separated by a certain distance. And subsequent experiments were able to accurately confirm this statement - until mankind developed more precise ways of measuring time (atomic clocks). Then discrepancies were observed, which eventually led to Einstein's theory of general relativity.

    The theory of general relativity is the currently accepted description of gravity, and its validity has been supported by many observations, many of which are astrophysical in nature. But not all. Global Positioning Systems (GPS), for instance, would not have the accuracy it has today if not for the small, but important, corrections that can be precisely calculated only from the theory of general relativity. The classical Law of Gravitation cannot do this.

    So even a law can have its limitations, and can be challenged. That doesn't mean it's useless though; it's good enough for general purpose use, such as finding oil or mineral deposits underground. For anything more precise (like getting to Mars), you'd rely on the theory of general relativity instead.

    And yet, there are still many gaps - quantum gravity, cosmic expansion rate, to name just a few. The theory of general relativity is not the be-all and end-all explanation of gravity, but a work-in-progress that is strongly supported by observations of the universe around us.

    By Blogger Lab Rat, At July 09, 2008 10:49 pm  

  • It is quite a common misconception that because evolutionary theory cannot make precise predictions, it is any less of a scientific theory.

    Evolutionary theory is one of those theories that gives you the grand scheme of things.
    In fact, it is very similar in style to physical theories such as thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.
    Those theories give you the behavior of large collections of microscopic objects such as atoms/molecules but tells you nothing about the movement of each of those atoms. Does that makes those theories less useful? Obviously not as they are used everywhere in physical science and engineering.

    Same with evolution. Its prediction is that species evolve through random mutation and natural selection. Evidence for this lies in the fossil record.

    What evidence is there for ID and creationism?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 10, 2008 8:11 am  

  • In economics, there's a term called post-hoc hypothesis

    "Post-hoc analysis design and analysis of experiments, refers to looking at the data—after the experiment has concluded—for patterns that were not specified a priori. It is also known as data dredging to evoke the sense that the more one looks the more likely something will be found."

    Fit that to what we know about evolution studies and how believers justify their beliefs. Both cannot be observed under lab conditions, vaildated nor replicated. What we see is only derived from what we find from the past.

    And yet (in a simplified analogy). We can apply any of Newton's 3 laws and know what we WILL get in the end (ball goes up, ball comes down etc).

    Thats the main difference.

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 10, 2008 8:28 am  

  • zhanzhao,

    Like I said evolution theory is made on more than looking at the past.

    I have posted a new entry linking to discussion on an experiment that observed evolution in a lab setting.

    Do have a read.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 10, 2008 9:49 am  

  • "And yet (in a simplified analogy). We can apply any of Newton's 3 laws and know what we WILL get in the end (ball goes up, ball comes down etc).

    Thats the main difference."

    And with evolutionary theory, the prediction is that a missing link in the fossil record can be (and have been) found.

    Whereas ID and creationism chooses to accept missing links as is and say "Don't bother thinking about it".

    That's the MAIN difference. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 10, 2008 10:16 am  

  • "And with evolutionary theory, the prediction is that a missing link in the fossil record can be (and have been) found."

    But surely that is a RETRO-diction, and not a PRE-diction? :)

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 10, 2008 10:21 am  

  • Much has been said regarding this topic, so I will just add a few points.

    One reason why evolutionary biology is not a "law" is because even by Darwin's time the concept of scientific absolutism is falling out of favour and the term "theory" better reflects the tentative explanatory framework used by the scientific process to expand our understanding of the Universe.

    As Lab Rat has eloquently pointed out, just because something was historically called a "law" doesn't mean that it is better or more accurate than the "theories" that were developed later.

    A classic example in astronomy is Titius-Bode Law - which modern astronomers no longer consider to have much predictive power since there are a number of exceptions to the Law.

    Whatever you like to call it, evolutionary biology is well supported by evidence, initially via fossils, later by population genetics and more recently by molecular biology.

    Like the Titius-Bode Law or any other real scientific idea, it can make predictions (doesn't necessarily have to be prospective predictions), eg. the discovery of a transitional form between a fish and tetrapod in a fossil layer 375 million years old, and it can also be falsified by counterexamples: eg. fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.

    There is no scientific controversy to the reality of biological evolution, however there are debates regarding some important details of the overall process.

    One contentious point under investigation is the role of genetic regulatory networks to the morphological evolution of an organism. I won't bore you with the details but suffice to say an improved understanding of gene networks can allow scientists to make higher resolution prospective predictions of how a future organism may look like.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 10, 2008 4:50 pm  

  • geez! Zhanzhao should stick to using beta-lactams should he/she be infected by multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Those nasty bugs are still suceptible to beta-lactams since they are unable to evolve.

    By Blogger I must be stupid, At July 10, 2008 9:10 pm  

  • No, I would be open to try modern medicine provided there's a rational behind it.

    Being open minded means I am always prepared and am in an easier state to accept any new evidence proving either theory.

    Also do note that I have not denied the validity of evolution, merely raised doubts. Nor have I outright proclaimed the validity of the various beliefs, just pointed out that how one can be so sure about absolutes when there's still so much more that is unknown? (I do welcome you th thrawl through my post history to rebut me on this point).

    Like I've said, I've been in too many of such debates to take the mis-step of siding with either side (as I've argued from both angles before), and have seen some interesting arguments from both sides.

    Like the previous article mentioned, the objective of science is to raise questions so that it can be answered. Not believe in a doctrine and follow it without question. In the US, there's been schools that have been sued because some of the teachers dared to bring up discussions about evolution (in the Land of Free Speech, ironically).

    We're discovering new things about the world around us all the time. Galileo was ostracized. So was Darwin. When some other scientist births a new theory that is totally at odds with Darwinism, ID, Creationism, and other known theories; will history repeat itself? Or will we be more open to accept these new findings?

    Biological evolution is not the only thing that should force us to look and learn from the past.

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 9:17 am  

  • Zhanzhao says:

    "We're discovering new things about the world around us all the time. Galileo was ostracized. So was Darwin. When some other scientist births a new theory that is totally at odds with Darwinism, ID, Creationism, and other known theories; will history repeat itself? Or will we be more open to accept these new findings?"

    It's rather odd that you should say this.

    New theories are being proposed all the time, and often don't have much evidence and/or are more speculative, thus they will undoubtedly face opposition from proponents of existing theories.

    In evolutionary biology, one of the most important theories that is at odds with "Darwinism" (in the sense of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis) is the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, first proposed by Motoo Kimura. His idea was hotly debated and controversial for many years before the scientific community was convinced of its validity.

    Thus, the "new theory" that you are thinking about already exist, many times over.

    If you are interested in other non-Darwinian theories of evolution, you can check out Lamarckism, Thomas Morgan's Mutation-selection theory, Masatoshi Nei's New Mutation theory, Stuart Kauffman's Self-organization theory and so on.

    Very strange that you should fail to mention any of these alternative theories.

    Very strange.

    It is important to emphasize the fact that all scientific theories must stand on its own merit and be prepared to be scrutinized and criticized. The success or failure of theory is predicated on solid supporting evidence, and on its explanatory and predictive power.

    To ask scientists to simply be "
    "more open to accept these new findings" is to utterly misunderstand the scientific process.

    I should also stress that Creationism/ID is not a scientific theory at all and should not be placed at the same level with Neo-Darwinian synthesis, Mutationism, Neutral Theory and others. Creationism/ID is not even a hypothesis, since it can neither be tested nor falsified.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 11, 2008 11:37 am  

  • zhanzhao wrote in part:

    Galileo was ostracized. So was Darwin.

    Actually he was vilely persecuted and placed under house arrest until he died - by dogmatic, religious nutjobs, not scientists or atheists.

    When scientists don’t know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it.

    When some other scientist births a new theory that is totally at odds with Darwinism, ID, Creationism, and other known theories; will history repeat itself?

    To put Darwinism, ID and Creationsm together is a *category error* and it says a lot about your understanding of what is science what is religious mythology.

    ID *is* Creationism relabeled. It is a religious belief masquerading as a scientific theory.

    PZ

    By Blogger PZ, At July 11, 2008 11:42 am  

  • "ID *is* Creationism relabeled. It is a religious belief masquerading as a scientific theory."

    Wrong. As I repeat from the other thread:

    Creationists believe everything was created and over and done with IN THE PAST, fullstop. Intelligent design proposes that the past, present and future of a species was "designed" that way.... note the "future" clause. In fact ID proponents acknowledge that the ability and "margin of error" to evolve is "precoded" into the DNA of a species.

    Hardcore creationists would be insulted to be mistaken with hardcore ID Proponents, and vice versa.

    But as one of neither group, its understandable for you to be mistaken.

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 12:23 pm  

  • "Creationists believe everything was created and over and done with IN THE PAST, fullstop. Intelligent design proposes that the past, present and future of a species was "designed" that way.... note the "future" clause. In fact ID proponents acknowledge that the ability and "margin of error" to evolve is "precoded" into the DNA of a species.

    Hardcore creationists would be insulted to be mistaken with hardcore ID Proponents, and vice versa."

    I suppose that you think that creationism is dead wrong (which it is) then.

    Very strange that you mentioned it as a "theory" on the same level as ID and Neo-Darwinian synthesis.

    You should be aware that in science no automatic respect is given to an idea simply because its proponents insist on calling it a "theory" or whatever.

    Word games cut no ice with scientists - only solid data.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 11, 2008 12:34 pm  

  • Wrong. As I repeat from the other thread:

    I prefer to let readers judge for themselves - after reading the findings of the presiding judge in the "Dover Case" - as to what is fact or fiction and who is correct and who is wrong.

    Cognitive gymnastics and denial work only in religion, not science.

    PZ

    By Blogger PZ, At July 11, 2008 12:48 pm  

  • "I suppose that you think that creationism is dead wrong (which it is) then."

    As I said, I remain open minded about these issues, for the simple fact that there are doubts of all these other theories. Unlike old computers wihch are only designed to work one way I'm always acceptable to now data and can adept my mindset at any time (Note that even corrent generation computers are able to multi boot..... surely we're much better than AI)

    The use of the word theory is conventional. Its the most common usage phrase. (check google, it has more instances than "law of evolution"). You do realize that even evolutionists call it the "theory of evolution". As for it being on the same level, you should be asking the one who brought up creationism and ID to compare it against within this site. I didn't put them on the same shelf or even mention them originally, I merely continued the train of thought ;)

    PS: evolution was brought up as an analogy, its funny how it has overtaken this blog as a hot topic. guess some people are just touchy ;)

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 12:54 pm  

  • Zhanzhao says:

    "The use of the word theory is conventional. Its the most common usage phrase. (check google, it has more instances than "law of evolution"). You do realize that even evolutionists call it the "theory of evolution". As for it being on the same level, you should be asking the one who brought up creationism and ID to compare it against within this site. I didn't put them on the same shelf or even mention them originally, I merely continued the train of thought ;)"

    Word games cut no ice with... never mind.

    "PS: evolution was brought up as an analogy, its funny how it has overtaken this blog as a hot topic. guess some people are just touchy ;)"

    Ha ha ha ha... that's possible, or maybe it's really because it was a terrible analogy - not that it's your fault, sometimes I draw some pointless analogies too for fun.

    Getting back on topic, I was reading your comment:

    "As for the priests believing in things without evidence, thats a whole cartload of theology that will blow all our heads a way (there's already loads of discussion on the net as to what they believe is real or not) and both sides make some valid comments, but it is ultimately unprovable because there literally no higher authority to confirm whether what they believe is true or not.

    To say they are wrong merely means you have a set of beliefs different from them, and whatever evidence they give you will be viewed with skepticism (exactly why scientists in olden days believed for so long that the earch could not possibly be round and was not the center of the universe)."

    As far as I know the fact that the Earth is round was discovered by the ancient Greeks (Eratosthenes).

    I'm not familiar with the "scientists in olden days" who believed that the Earth could not be round. Maybe you can name just one?

    And it seems that you are saying that the Earth is in the centre of the Universe. Not sure how many scientists nowadays will claim that, maybe you can name a few?

    I know you were just bringing up another unrelated analogy... ha ha ha ha yup it is all pointless.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 11, 2008 1:26 pm  

  • Lim Leng Hiong said...:

    "Very strange that you should fail to mention any of these alternative theories. "

    Maybe thats because I wasn't the one to bring in creationism and ID in the first place? Wow that makes hella lotta sense ;)

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 1:29 pm  

  • "I'm not familiar with the "scientists in olden days" who believed that the Earth could not be round. Maybe you can name just one?

    Read further in the other thread, already answered:/

    "And it seems that you are saying that the Earth is in the centre of the Universe."

    Wha? Where?!?

    "Not sure how many scientists nowadays will claim that, maybe you can name a few?"

    Which is what I've kept repeating, what goes for science NOW may not necessarily be true tomorrow. No issues if you're not shutting your mind from new information though ;)

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 1:32 pm  

  • "Maybe thats because I wasn't the one to bring in creationism and ID in the first place? Wow that makes hella lotta sense ;)"

    You're right: neither did I, and I certainly didn't bring up the analogy of evolution.

    ""I'm not familiar with the "scientists in olden days" who believed that the Earth could not be round. Maybe you can name just one?

    Read further in the other thread, already answered:/"

    No you didn't answer it. I don't think that Plato and Aristotle were flat-earthers. Do you know where to check this up?

    ""And it seems that you are saying that the Earth is in the centre of the Universe."

    Wha? Where?!?"

    Well you wrote that:

    "To say they are wrong merely means you have a set of beliefs different from them, and whatever evidence they give you will be viewed with skepticism (exactly why scientists in olden days believed for so long that the earch could not possibly be round and was not the center of the universe)."

    I take it you mean that the correct view is opposite to their beliefs.

    "Which is what I've kept repeating, what goes for science NOW may not necessarily be true tomorrow. No issues if you're not shutting your mind from new information though ;)"

    I am always open to new scientific theories. I don't see much point in constantly re-evaluating discredited ideas though.

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 11, 2008 2:03 pm  

  • "No you didn't answer it. I don't think that Plato and Aristotle were flat-earthers. Do you know where to check this up?"

    Wikipedia-> Flat Earth

    "I take it you mean that the correct view is opposite to their beliefs."

    No, I stated what they believed in. Just because I say some is an athiest/thiest does not make me one or the opposite, or at least thats how my logic goes.

    "I am always open to new scientific theories. I don't see much point in constantly re-evaluating discredited ideas though."

    Thats assuming the idea is unchanged. For example, ID is a relatively new concept, and has changed much in the past few years. Even the exact specifics of how evolution occurs has not been static as more data comes in. As for creationism, well, it claims to provide some "answers" that the other theories have not been able to provide answers for. Who's to say either one of them is right, wrong, or that our natural world is not a combination of certain aspects of all thes theories?

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 2:19 pm  

  • "Thats assuming the idea is unchanged. For example, ID is a relatively new concept, and has changed much in the past few years. Even the exact specifics of how evolution occurs has not been static as more data comes in. As for creationism, well, it claims to provide some "answers" that the other theories have not been able to provide answers for. Who's to say either one of them is right, wrong, or that our natural world is not a combination of certain aspects of all thes theories?"

    I don't think ID has a high probability of being true. Can you help highlight some reasons why ID is more compelling for you?

    By Blogger Lim Leng Hiong, At July 11, 2008 2:24 pm  

  • Where do I start? Lets see... the fact that the current universe happens to run like clockwork and the earth is just nice to sustain life? Or the fact that the humble amaeba has the inbuilt capabiity of evolving into our current life forms?

    Look at what we are capable of achieving now. GM food, clones, etc (intelligent design). Our understanding of DNA gets better each day. Would we one day be able to create a whole new species? Some scientist already attempted to "create life" with that DNA/protein experiment (creationism).

    Even the E.Coli experiment was "helped" along the way by scientists who "forced" the bacteria to adept to thrive. After they isolated the specimen with potential, they replicated their experiments. Would that make them the unseen hand that guided the bacteria, forcing them to evolve?

    Notice that I dont' subscribe to any single theory here. I believe its a combination of them. Don't drag religion into it, and see the different theories in terms of science. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 2:40 pm  

  • "... the earth is just nice to sustain life?"

    It's not that nice, actually. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, occasionally meteorite impact to wipe out most species...

    The only planets where life can originate and evolve are those that have the right conditions to allow life to originate and evolve. To see life and evolution and claim creation or design is therefore an unfalsifiable proposition.

    "Look at what we are capable of achieving now. GM food, clones, etc (intelligent design)."

    That is not how the term "intelligent design"is commonly used or understood.

    "Some scientist already attempted to "create life" with that DNA/protein experiment (creationism)."

    Again, that is not how the term "creationism" is commonly used or understood.

    "Even the E.Coli experiment was "helped" along the way by scientists who "forced" the bacteria to adept to thrive... Would that make them the unseen hand that guided the bacteria, forcing them to evolve?"

    No. I saw a picture of the principal investigator on his website. I'm pretty sure he is not "unseen".

    Of course there is a possibility that an invisible entity created life, or designed the universe in a way which allows life to begin, and designed a set of rules for evolution, and then applied the pressures to 'force' species to evolve one way or another, according to his or her design, but such a proposition is unfalsifiable (as soone as we learn about something, we infer that it is the way it is because he designer designed it that way), and ultimately unprovable.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 11, 2008 3:32 pm  

  • "It's not that nice, actually. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, occasionally meteorite impact to wipe out most species..."

    And yet here we are. We're turned out to be a rather sturdy lifeform ;)

    "The only planets where life can originate and evolve are those that have the right conditions to allow life to originate and evolve. To see life and evolution and claim creation or design is therefore an unfalsifiable proposition."

    How similar to: To see different skeletons and claim evolution is therefore an unfalsifiable preposition. touche?

    "That is not how the term "intelligent design"is commonly used or understood."

    They were designed for a function and purpose, and serves its function and porpose according to design. Marvel at the seedless grape.

    "Again, that is not how the term "creationism" is commonly used or understood."

    These are approximations, my dear doctor, and only regarding the bit of creating life from non-life. If it was true creationism we would have proclaimed ourselves gods already.

    "No. I saw a picture of the principal investigator on his website. I'm pretty sure he is not "unseen"."

    And I'm sure you were around when the life evolved to say whether a guiding hand was around or not.

    "Of course there is a possibility that an invisible entity created life, or designed the universe in a way which allows life to begin, and designed a set of rules for evolution, and then applied the pressures to 'force' species to evolve one way or another, according to his or her design"

    Thank you for accepting that there is a possibility. Whether it is infalsible or not is only due to our inability NOW to collect data to prove it so or otherwise. I'm sure science will progress in the future to tell us moret (as the telescope did for the heliocentric theory), but until then, an open mind is the only thing that ensures we will not throw out any theory or hypothesis that might in the future turn out to be right. Imagine if Galileo accepted geocentrism as the only acceptible truth, and never opened his mind to explore alternatives. Thats the danger many risk falling into.

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 4:00 pm  

  • "How similar to: To see different skeletons and claim evolution is therefore an unfalsifiable preposition. touche?"

    Except there is more to evolution than fossils, we have a good understanding of how the mechanics of evolution work, and we have observed and replicated evolution in the lab setting.

    "And I'm sure you were around when the life evolved to say whether a guiding hand was around or not."

    Of course - everything that I did not witness not happen must have happened.

    "Whether it is infalsible or not is only due to our inability NOW to collect data to prove it so or otherwise.I'm sure science will progress in the future to tell us more..."

    I certainly look forward to that day when we can design an experiment to prove whether god exists, or determine the nature of Nirvana. But surely you must admit that currently we have no good evidence on the nature of either, or how we should model our lives and society based on our knowledge of the two?

    "...until then, an open mind is the only thing that ensures we will not throw out any theory or hypothesis that might in the future turn out to be right."

    That sounds like a sound motherhood statement, but in practice it has become an excuse for those who make certain claims to not provide evidence supporting their claims. We should be open-minded to evidence, but to be open-minded to every claim without requiring evidence makes us gullible. That is the danger
    many risk falling into.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 11, 2008 4:35 pm  

  • Like you said, we're in neither the position to test for the presense of omnipotence nor nothingness. This isn't a court where one is "innocent until proven guilty" or "guilty until proven innocent". To be open to possibilities is different from believing whole heartedly. Somehow you still cannot grasp this concept.

    See here's the thing. There's 2 related aspects of being open-minded. 1) Being receptive to alternatives and 2) not rejecting them outright. You believe in "conditional" open-minded ness, whereas I believe that true open-mindedness needs both components. Somehow a certain religion seems to be a touchy topic to you, so I'll use that as an analogy. Imagine the religion's authorities told you that you can be open-minded about anything except where it contradicts their doctrine. Sounds familiar? Now that doesn't sound very "open now does it.

    "Except there is more to evolution than fossils, we have a good understanding of how the mechanics of evolution work, and we have observed and replicated evolution in the lab setting."

    Which does not pre-clude the possibility that the bacteria's DNA did not already have encoded "data" to evolve.

    Imagine someone who actually considered the possibility, then made specific researches into this area and found something to re-affirm his theories. Or one could reject it and shut that student down from making a potentially groundbreaking finding.

    "But surely you must admit that currently we have no good evidence on the nature of either, or how we should model our lives and society based on our knowledge of the two?"

    Who said anything about modelling our lives or society based on these theories? Now lets not draw yet another off-hand topic onto the table ;)

    To re-iterate: Being open to an idea does not mean acceptance. But rejection is rejection. which mentality shuts down future studies, I shall leave to you to draw the conclusion.

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 7:39 pm  

  • "There's 2 related aspects of being open-minded. 1) Being receptive to alternatives and 2) not rejecting them outright. You believe in "conditional" open-minded ness, whereas I believe that true open-mindedness needs both components."

    A few points then:

    1. Well, I guess I am "conditionally" open-minded, and the condition is this: evidence.

    The mind is always open, but the price of admission is evidence. Those who cannot or will not provide evidence are not admitted, but neither are they banned forever; if they return with evidence, they may still be admitted.

    2. We are all "conditionally" open-minded in the sense that we all require evidence to admit - we just happen to have different stringency for evidence.

    Even you are not "truly" open minded: if a man on the street told you he could tell you are being controlled by an alien and that you can be freed by a magic meteorite stone which he will sell you for all the money you have in your wallet and house (no cheques please), your mind will surely find itself less open.

    We ALL require evidence to believe. We just happen to have a lower price for admission for things which we want to believe, and a higher price for things we don't want to believe.

    3. What we individually choose as a price of admission matter not to whether something is true in the physical world. All scientists can be open-minded and believe in demonic possession, but that does not change the fact that there is no good evidence that demons exist. You can be open-minded and believe demons exists, but don't expect your prayers to be able to cure demonic possession.

    Given that there is currently no evidence for demonic possession, and given what we know now about mental health, should people believe in demonic possession and use prayer and exorcism as a cure for "abnormal behaviour" over psychiatric help? I don't think so.

    "Which does not pre-clude the possibility that the bacteria's DNA did not already have encoded "data" to evolve."

    Bacterial DNA already has encoded data to evolve - it's called DNA.

    "Who said anything about modelling our lives or society based on these theories? Now lets not draw yet another off-hand topic onto the table ;)"

    I think that is an integral part of this discussion. What people choose to believe and be open-minded to in their own heads are their own business, but what we are discussing here - prayer and rites of exorcism for alleged demonic possession, teaching of ID in schools in US - are instances where beliefs influence other people who may (for good reasons) not share those beliefs.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 11, 2008 8:42 pm  

  • "Of course - everything that I did not witness not happen must have happened."

    Whats amazing is that you're so sure about what did or did not happen even though there were no witnesses or evidence.

    "1. Well, I guess I am "conditionally" open-minded, and the condition is this: evidence."

    And yet you are able to make a judgement that something must not have happened, in the absense of evidence, as seen your quote above. So just because evidence does not show something exists/happens, it must have been the negative. How is it that you are so sure of yourself? Are you omnipotent and unerring?

    I hope you realize the fallacies of your logic by now with your over-reliancee on evidence on how the world functions..... Because I hate to tell you this, but we've even begun to scratch the surface of who it does.... much less have enough evidence to prove it all.

    A simple analogy based on your mindset:

    Scientiests have been unable to create life from non-life. Ergo they have no evidence that life could have been created from non-life. So according to your logic, something other than science must have created the original life. After all, accoring to you, its either evidence proves one thing, or the the opposite must be true.

    Or maybe, just maybe, its our knowledge and ability to capture evidence that is limited.

    Its not the various theories that are problematic, its our limited capability to capture the evidence. Even though the telescope had not been invented and used to study the planets pre-galileo and evidence unobtainable, it did not mean heliocentrism was false.

    As early as 270 bc, the greeks have been studying the possibility of heocentrism.

    Of course, they must have been dumb to be working on a theory without evidence. < / sarcasm >.

    Its been a fun week, but thanks for re-affirming my suspicions that there are people even more close-minded than "religious nutjobs".

    By Blogger zhanzhao, At July 11, 2008 11:21 pm  

  • Creationism/ID is not even a hypothesis, since it can neither be tested nor falsified.

    Construct a closed ecological systems with a variety of phenotypes and watch them evolve for a couple thousand years. Make sure no God types try to interfere. If phenotypes speciate and develop strange morphology, like different sense organ, well you can kiss ID good bye else ID is still in the running.

    In evolutionary biology, one of the most important theories that is at odds with "Darwinism" (in the sense of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis) is the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, first proposed by Motoo Kimura.

    Neutral Mutation Theory is not incompatible with Neo-Darwinism. Also the Kimura 80 Evolution Model sucks.

    By Anonymous Sprachen Sie Singlish?, At July 12, 2008 2:05 am  

  • Read the exchange again, zhanzhao:

    zz: And I'm sure you were around when the life evolved to say whether a guiding hand was around or not.

    ad: Of course - everything that I did not witness not happen must have happened.

    My statement was made in sarcasm, because your statement implies that because I wasn't there when life evolved, we cannot be sure ID is wrong.

    That ignores the fact that the logic behind ID is flawed and that the existing evidence do not support ID, and the evidence for evolution theory is strong.

    "Or maybe, just maybe, its our knowledge and ability to capture evidence that is limited."

    Perhaps. But what other ways of knowing without requiring evidence is better?

    By faith? Whose version of faith-based truth is correct? How do we determine that?

    Like I said, the open-mindedness you embrace is not used by people to explore new evidence and theories, but to avoid having to produce evidence while they continue to preach their non-evidence-based beliefs.

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 12, 2008 8:34 am  

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