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On Hypothesis Testing[edit]

I think we've gotten confused when we start saying that certain scientists haven't tested a certain hypothesis. tmtoulouse gave an excellent example. To reiterate, we take a set of hypotheses and we use our observations to evaluate which hypothesis is the most likely explanation. This likelihood is often expressed in terms of the probability that the set of observations could have occurred under the conditions of hypothesis, hn. That is what is considered a hypothesis test in the realm of science.

On the other hand, I think what Ungtss wants in order for something to be "science" is actually a proof by demonstration which is not the same as a hypothesis test. — Unsigned, by: Jorge / talk / contribs

I responded to his cogent example, but my response appears not to have made it to this subsection. In his excellent example, he tested hypothesis for the question "which is most likely to have happened," but he did not test a hypothesis for the question "which actually happened?" It is indeed possible that the less likely of two things actually occurred. In fact, it's statistical certainty that sometimes the less likely of two events will occur. Scientific results are only valid insofar as a hypothesis to a question is tested. That didn't happen in his example. You can reasonably decide to believe that the most likely thing actually occurred, but that isn't science, because it is not the test of a hypothesis. Ungtss 03:30, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
You say that "In his excellent example, he tested hypothesis for the question 'which is most likely to have happened,' but he did not test a hypothesis for the question 'which actually happened?'" and then claim that it's not science because it didn't test the hypothesis of what happened, but what was most likely to happen. According to your statement, though, it tested a hypothesis. How is that not science? Corry 04:13, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Ungtss in a nutshell: we can't directly observe abiogenesis on Earth 3.5 billion years ago, therefore any exploration of the idea is not science. Therefore... something Ungtss thinks is. QED. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:22, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Strawman. I've consistently said that no view on that issue is yet science, because none can be experimentally tested. Not "mine." It's easy to shoot down your opponent's arguments when you make up stupid one's for him, but in the end, you're left with nothing but your victory over nothing. Ungtss 12:48, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Again, I'm stunned how someone can go through all this and not learn a thing, but here's Ungtss himself from nine days ago: "But unless experiment can be performed, it is not science." I don't see a lot of change, despite all the really great info. --Kels 04:37, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Ungtss, your definitions of "experiment", "hypothesis test", and "science" are not the same as what scientists themselves believe them to be. You are entitled to cling to your own narrow definition of these terms, but you will continue to be wrong. Jorge as if my opinion counts 04:49, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you're unaware of this, but saying "you're wrong" and "you should have learned from all the great teaching we've been doing" are not particularly persuasive. Generally, if you want to show how or why somebody's wrong, you have to demonstrate it with facts and arguments, and then respond satisfactorily to their objections to those arguments. Ungtss 12:46, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
And yet, everyone but you seems to think this has already happened. Funny how that works. --Kels 13:38, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Ah yes, because the collective is always correct, no? Ungtss 14:11, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
You ever think maybe it's you? --Kels 14:21, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, I wanted to see how REAL scientists define science, evidence, etc., so I looked up what the REAL scientists at Answers in Genesis have to say. I quote from their "Statement of Faith":

By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

I feel pretty certain that cdesign proponentsists also subscribe to this notion. Corry 13:59, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

If you were talking to a biblical creationist, that might be relevant. But you're not, so it's not. Ungtss 14:10, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Are you a cdesign proponentsist? Corry 14:15, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
If by that you mean "ignorant asshole," you'll have to ask Kels, because I'm too dumb to recognize it. Ungtss 14:16, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
I dunno, you got the "ignorant" part down. Although you are usually pretty polite. --Kels 14:22, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Do you really want us to walk you through it? As I've said before, hypothesis testing—as defined at the beginning of this section—is a well-defined term in the scientific community. However, you argue that because this definition deals in "probabilities and likelihoods" that this method belongs to the realm of 'reason' and not 'science'. You say certain scientists are "not really testing a hypothesis" when in fact that is exactly what they are doing, and you fail to realize this because you have a definition of "experiment" that is also different from what actual scientists understand it to mean. Your reasoning is sound, but only insofar as you have mutilated language. You have not said anything about science, because you have invented your own definition of what science is. Jorge hates leprechauns 14:38, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Okay, your argument is what we call an "argument from authority." It goes like this: "Your opinion is different than the opinion of X expert. Therefore you are wrong." That is the same line of reasoning that allows the Catholic Church to claim authority on matters of religion. It's a fallacy. Reasoning requires REASONS to defend an idea, not just "but the smart people say so." You have (and are still) providing nothing but argument from authority, which doesn't impress anybody who is committed to reason. Now, if you would, provide a non-fallacious argument. Thanks. Ungtss 14:52, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Is there any reason that you think you should understand science? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:55, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
And that fallacy is called the "ad hominem" fallacy. It goes like this: "You are not an expert. Therefore your opinion is irrelevant and should be replaced with mine." Here's my opinion: Science is knowledge that stems directly from the identification of a question, the development of a hypothesis regarding that question, the performance of an experiment to test the hypothesis, and the analysis of the data. Any idea that doesn't come through the performance of the scientific method in full is not science. Reason, on the other hand, is much broader and more flexible. It deals in likelihoods and interpretation of evidence and goals. Either address it on the merits or don't, but don't waste time with stupid logical fallacies. Thanks. Ungtss 15:17, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Just trying to figure out where you're coming from. It's clear that you're an armchair scientist with no training whatsoever. I find it hilarious that you think you should understand without due diligence. Your argument is clearly from ignorance, and no, that's not an ad hominem. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 15:20, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
More ad hominem. Worthless. Try addressing the issues sometime. Ungtss 15:40, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
The analogy is false. This would be like saying that the Catholic Church is the authority on what Catholicism is, though this analogy is still flawed. In terms that I understand, you are arguing that any concept that cannot be demonstrated through proof by demonstration (this seems to be what you think an experiment is) should not be called "science". However, in the real world, scientific progress is, and has been for several centuries, a result of experiment and analysis of the sort we have described. Jorge Radix Malorum Est Superbia 15:11, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
The analogy is accurate insofar as the Catholic Church claims to be an authority in spiritual matters, and therefore claims that whatever it says goes. That is exactly the reasoning stated above: "Scientists disagree. Therefore you are wrong." Please do tell, what "scientific progress" has come from untestable hypotheses? Ungtss 15:17, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Is is not an argument from authority fallacy. If we were to rely only on experts, perhaps, but ignoring authorities is not necessary. In essence, you are arguing that any opinion is equally valid. -- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --It hurts when I do "this" 15:14, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
And this fallacy is called the "straw man" fallacy. I am not arguing that all opinions are equal. I am arguing that opinions supported by reason are superior to those supported by appeals to authority. Ungtss 15:17, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Doesn't your reasoning start out with the assumption that experimental evidence is absolutely necessary to make it science at all? From what's been presented here, that's a flawed assumption, making all the logic that follows from it suspect. --Kels 15:35, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Care to explain your argument? Ungtss 15:40, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Do you not understand it? It's not very complicated. If your basic assumption is wrong, your logic won't work even if it looks pretty. Almost everyone on this page has disagreed with your basic assumptions, with evidence. --Kels 16:02, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Look, the scientific method has "experiment and gather data" as a step. All I'm saying is that "scientific conclusions" must be arrived at through the "scientific method." Nobody's told me why that's unreasonable, except to say that everybody who matters disagrees with me. But that's been the battlecry of the ignorant for millennia, so I don't particularly give a fuck. Ungtss 16:05, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

(Undent) We can agree that "scientific conclusions" must be arrived at through the "scientific method."But we disagree on what the term "hypothesis test" means, and therefore we have very different ideas as to what actually constitutes the scientific method. Since Ungtss' definition is the one that is at odds with the accepted scientific paradigm, the burden of evidence is upon him to demonstrate how it is more useful than the accepted one of "using observations to evaluate which hypothesis is the most likely explanation". Jorge as if my opinion counts 18:42, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Good. Some reasoning. Now let's define "Experiment." Let's start with this article: Under what definition of experiment in that article has the hypothesis "Life arose spontaneously" been tested? Or if you have a different definition in mind, please provide a source for it. If you can think of none, then consider the two quotes at the bottom of the article, and explain to me how they do not apply under the circumstances. Ungtss 22:02, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Ungtss, you say that using the predominant, current definition of how science works, as applied by scientists, is an argument from authority. I think you are misusing this fallacy here- an argument from authority relates to how the natural world works, not to much a man-made process. The scientific method is man-made, and as such is defined by people. Being defined by people, applying the definitions adopted by the majority of scientists is not a logical fallacy. Corry 19:10, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

There's something else about man-made processes, however. They are prone to error. Is ≠ ought. To say that the dominant approach in science is correct because it is dominant is no different from calling the dominant approach in politics correct by virtue of its dominance, or the dominant approach in religion, or the dominant approach in medicine. The fact that an approach is dominant is irrelevant to its merit. Discussion of an approach's merits should consider its merits, rather than its popularity. Ungtss 22:02, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
On a side note, you do know the reason statistics play such an important part in science is that nothing is ever proven 100%, right? Just because I drop a ball and it falls 99 times does not mean that it will 100% for sure fall the 100th time. All science is probability. Z3rotalk 22:23, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
So then what is the measured, quantifiable probability that the ball will not drop on the 100th time? Or if that probability is not quantifiable, then how does it qualify as science? Ungtss 22:24, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
There is no proof; science cannot eliminate all possibilities, such as everything being an illusion. Since it admits this, nothing is 100% certain. Z3rotalk 22:29, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
With that I agree. What I'm quibbling with is your statement "that's why statistics play such an important part in science." You can't numerically measure the uncertainty in a scenario like that. The uncertainty is best described as something like, "Anything's possible, but we don't have any reasonable basis to doubt." That to me is the best proof possible in any area of human understanding. Ungtss 23:18, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
And all science flows from that. Different events have different probabilities. The sun coming up tomorrow is almost certain. The cause of cancer is less so. Science strives to reduce the uncertainty of the cancer-type questions as best as possible, but they're all still probability. Z3rotalk 23:25, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm still stuck on this "probability." Probability is numerical in my opinion. You have 99 blue marbles and 1 red marble, the probability of drawing a red marble is 1/100. There is no "probability" that gravity will reverse itself tomorrow. There's no reason at all to believe it to be so. That's very different from a "probability" question. It's also very different from a paradigm inferred from evidence, for which another paradigm could also explain the same evidence. The first is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The second is not. Ungtss 23:53, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
To take your marble analogy and apply it to gravity: We have observed, say, 50 quintillion blue marbles and no red ones. This does not prove the non-existence of one or more red marbles, or even prove that most marbles are blue. Just that all we ever seem to find are blue marbles, and we've been looking as hard as we can for marbles of any color. I'm sure you've heard the three people see a black sheep in Scotland joke? Likewise, although not as interesting, one could pull blue marbles for a really high number of trials out of your 100, although eventually the results should balance out to the real odds. So, yeah, gravity's existence and action are not 100% proven, just, you know, 99.99999999999999999999% based on our observations. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:07, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Where does that number come from? It's just made up, and doesn't mean anything. You know the odds of drawing a red marble because you know the number of blue marbles and the number of red marbles. That's why you can quantify probability. You don't know those numbers in this case -- that's why we can't quantify the probability, and that's why it's a fundamentally different question. Ungtss 02:01, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I made it up - I don't even know if my nines match my powers of ten. But you also made your numbers up (99/1). I was just trying to explain how even such a "concrete" example as gravity is still only statistically true to some level. Such a high level that... well, you know, what about the observed fact that space itself is expanding? Not only are the distant objects we can see flying away from us at an "explosive" rate, they are now further away than that would predict. Also, the universe seems to be tied together by something more than gravity due to observable objects. So we enter the realm of "dark matter" and "dark energy". Can't be science yet, since we can't experiment, but we do the math and struggle to "describe" what we see. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:48, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. Good stuff. Ungtss 05:15, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm willing to move onto the ambiogenesis question if we can agree that statistical hypothesis testing is part of the scientific method. Jorge (don't believe a word he says) 01:51, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Of course it's part of the method. The question is whether statistical results adequately answer important questions like causation. In some cases they do. In many cases they don't. I'm looking forward to your response to my question about experiment, above. Ungtss 02:01, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

An Interesting Quote[edit]

I came across this in the WP article on Karl Popper.

Another objection is that it is not always possible to demonstrate falsehood definitively, especially if one is using statistical criteria to evaluate a null hypothesis.[citation needed] More generally it is not always clear, if evidence contradicts a hypothesis, that this is a sign of flaws in the hypothesis rather than of flaws in the evidence. However, this is a misunderstanding of what Popper's philosophy of science sets out to do. Rather than offering a set of instructions that merely need to be followed diligently to achieve science, Popper makes it clear in The Logic of Scientific Discovery that his belief is that the resolution of conflicts between hypotheses and observations can only be a matter of the collective judgment of scientists, in each individual case.[13]

This seems to bear directly on what we're all talking about. Silver Sloth 15:23, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

It does -- thanks for bringing it. Ungtss 15:42, 12 May 2009 (UTC)


The question is can the scientific method be used to evaluate the statement, "Life arose spontaneously"? First, I am by no means an expert on this topic. However, I would argue yes. Here's how: In order for this hypothesis to be true we must account for the possible chemical pathways that would be involved in getting us from the primordial goo to living organisms: Ai→Aj. We take the set of chemicals An and under conditions, C, we set up an experiment to determine the likelihood of forming chemical set An+1. Eventually, we are able to describe a pathway or set of pathways that account for ambiogenesis. I'm sure this isn't entirely correct, but that seems to be a good place to start. Jorge Gave real $$ to support RW 02:41, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

I untypooed the header. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:49, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you that the experiment you're describing could test whether spontaneous abiogenesis is possible. However, 1) the experiment has not yet been performed, and 2) the hypothetical experiment would show that it could happen, but not that it did happen. For that reason, I believe that naturalistic abiogenesis is a hypothesis, potentially true, and potentially a very reasonable conclusion for one to draw (particularly if one does not believe in an intelligent designer, in which case there really is no alternative to a spontaneous origin of life); however, I don't think it is yet a "scientific conclusion," because the hypothesis itself hasn't yet been tested. Ungtss 05:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree that we are not yet anywhere close to a scientific conclusion on this matter. But can we also agree that the investigation of such a hypothesis is "scientific"? — Unsigned, by: Jorge / talk / contribs
Agreed, insofar as the investigation is developing a testable hypothesis and testing it. For instance, the Miller-Urey experiment. However, in the absence of a reliable conclusion that it occurred spontaneously, I don't think that other hypotheses (so long as they do not violate the rules of rational thought we sketched out a while back) should be prematurely dismissed as "false." The other hypotheses, of course, are also not "reliable conclusions of science," since they cannot be tested. And a reasonable person may find them highly unreasonable, based on his or her philosophical presuppositions. However, I'd argue that a scientific disposition should keep an open mind to all the possibilities that are not falsified by evidence or the rules of rational thought, and relentlessly continue to test hypotheses. Remembering, of course, that supernatural creationism violated 3 of the 4 rules of rational thought we laid out. But supernatural creationism and common descent are not the only two options here. Ungtss 12:33, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Don't confuse ambiogenisis and common descent. As far as I am concerned common descent is easily falsifiable - as soon as we find a life form which doesn't use DNA then... On the other hand ambiogenisis is a different matter. However, as far as I am aware we are left with three posibilities
  1. Ambiogneisis
  2. Supernatural intervention
  3. Extra terrestrial genesis - although, of course, this begs the question of how did the extra terrestrial life form start so we're back to 1 and 2.
As far as I'm concerned we're down to the implications of supernatural intervention and, whilst "I don't think it's likely" isn't science, for me the lack of evidence of any supernatural being who could have created life implies ambiogenesis. Silver Sloth 13:04, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
You're right of course -- shouldn't conflate abiogenesis and common descent -- my bad. But I'm intrigued by your reason for throwing extraterrestrial genesis out -- that it "begs the question of how did that other life form." I don't think that's a legit reason to toss out a possibility. You can answer the question "Who built the first computer" without having to answer the question "Who were that guy's parents?" or "Where did human life originate?" Two totally different questions. In fact, until you answer the first question, you can't answer the second question. If life was created by a naturalistic designer or designers, life on Earth should show hints of that fact. But the origin of those designers is a whole other question. If there were such designers, their composition may be as different from ours as ours is from a computer's. Their life may have originated spontaneously, or be self-existent. But that says nothing about the origin of life on Earth. This is of course not evidence that this hypothesis is true -- only that I think your stated basis for rejecting it is not logically sound. Do you have a response, or any other reasons for tossing the hypothesis out on a conceptual level? Ungtss 13:20, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Assume, for the moment, that all life on earth started from some form of a, lets say, microbe, carried in on a meteor (This was once put forard as a real suggestion by, if memory serves, Hubble). OK, that could give a solution to how did terrestrial life start but it doesn't answer the bigger question of how did life start. We're left with abiogenisis somewhere extraterrestrial or with some supernatural being putting the microbe on the meteor. So, in the big question, how did life start we're still down to goddidit or it just happened. As a true atheist I cannot believe in a god so I'm left with it just happened Silver Sloth 14:17, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Let's expand the hypothesis a little bit tho -- why are our only options "abiogenisis somewhere extraterrestrial or with some supernatural being putting the microbe on the meteor?" What about a natural being -- like you or me, only smarter -- designing and constructing life on Earth? Ungtss 17:17, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Doesn't that still bring you back to who/what created the creator or it just happened? --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 17:26, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, the creator might be as different from us as we are from the computers we create -- it might have appeared spontaneously or be self-existent in some way, but we could still be created ... Ungtss 17:31, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I grant you that. In fact, I thought did with my post. Doesn't that still leave you with the two possibilities? --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 17:36, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
For the creator, but not for us. The question I'm interested in is not "How did life in the Universe come to exist?" That's too ambitious. I'm more interested in "How did life on Earth come to exist?" and I think a designer at least deserves to be on the table ... Ungtss 17:37, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Aliensdidit EZ edit button[edit]

I have no problem with the aliensdidit version of intelligent design in the context of life on Earth versus life in the universe. It seems to be as more-or-less difficult to prove as any other abiogenesis, but I'm cool with the possibility. There's the comic book/science fiction guy in me that would prefer it. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 17:47, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

What I find fascinating is the degree to which ancient histories support the hypothesis. One of my favorite's as Plato's Critias, which talks about how the gods divided the Earth up by allotment and peopled their districts, herding humans like sheep. And of course when he's speaking about gods, he's not talking about ethereal spirit beings -- because the gods in that dialogue interbred with women. He's talking about incredibly powerful, corporeal beings that built human beings from scratch. Genesis, interestingly, can be read in the same light. The first chapter, which speaks of the creation of the Earth, uses the term "Elohim," which literally means "the gods." But starting in the Garden of Eden, it refers to "Yahweh Elohim," which literally means "The king of the gods." It's also clear that this text is talking about corporeal beings, rather than "spirit beings," as the lord of the gods is said to have walked through the garden in the cool of the evening, looking for Adam. Grant these texts whatever degree of credibility we like, they are highly consistent with the extraterrestrial hypothesis. The belief that the gods "live in heaven" then takes on a whole different color. And the idol-religions of all the world start to look like "cargo cults" to me. Ungtss 21:24, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Then, given this hypothesis, I'm also interested in the degree to which the evidence can be investigated with this paradigm in mind. Endogenous retroviruses start to look less like actual viruses (as no virus has ever been observed infecting a germ line, much less passing to an entire population), and more like a mechanism of genetic engineering (as retroviruses are a common mechanism we use for genetic engineering. And then one starts to wonder, "If life was created, then why assume universal common descent? Wouldn't it be reasonable for these creators to build distinct "models" of life to serve different purposes? And shouldn't cladistics consider that possibility? Ungtss 21:24, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, again, it would be cool, but it doesn't seem to get anywhere passed curious speculation. The life in the universe question is still open. So, I don't see this as making much of a difference.
This does make you think about Intelligent Design and the Designer. In the aliensdidit version, life on Earth and life in the universe questions can be separated without much conflict for the two sides pursuing each. In the goddidit version, the questions are one-and-the-same.
However, are there really no ID people out there that are truly in the aliensdidit camp? Does anyone know of any? I mean a serious aliensdidit ID proponent and not the ID bubbleheads that just give the idea lip-service. I think it is pretty clear that ID was always goddidit. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 12:14, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, Francis Crick for one. And me. Ungtss 12:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Don't forget the Raëlians. Are you a starchild, Ungtss? --Kels 13:04, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I think it's the best explanation we have so far. Fits the physical evidence with the historical evidence without a contradiction. Also, the only feasible mechanism to date. We've never seen how life could arise spontaneously. But we've already built viruses from scratch in the lab, and redesigned life to suit our needs. Ungtss 13:11, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
So think aliensdidit is reasonable (and presumably good science) because we've done something similar in the lab despite not having seen it directly, but abiogenesis is not reasonable (and presumably bad science) because we haven't seen it directly despite having done something similar in the lab. I'm confused. --Kels 13:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC)I don't think many RationalWikians would dismiss aliensdidit out of hand, since it still leaves open the life in the universe question. I suspect most would feel as I do that it would be a neat curiosity. Most here (I among them), unsurprisingly, are probably strongly anti-goddidit though.
I have always thought that a good way to "attack" ID (at least the goddidit version) would be to push the aliensdidit version. Honestly, I think that would upset them more than how it is currently handled as evolution vs. ID. ID could be portrayed as a theory in crisis between the aliensdidit camp and the goddidit camp. Of course, ID was never meant to be anything other than goddidit redressed. I think that Ungtss should lead the charge to have aliensdidit taken more seriously in ID circles. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 13:14, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
"Aliens" has too many bizarro comic book sci-fi connotations. It brings to mind ET, etc. In any event, if the aliens-did-it hypothesis is true, then what we call "gods" are really just aliens that could kick our asses. Ungtss 13:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Didn't Arthur C. Clarke have an amusing little aphorism about that? --Kels 13:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
One of my favorites. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Ungtss 13:29, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

A section only for admiring Ungtss[edit]

I'll start with two points:

  1. You are invariably polite, and don't respond in an ugly way when other people aren't.
  2. More important, I admire your "stick-to-it-iveness" in a situation that resembles a tag-team wrestling match. You seem to be pretty much alone in your point of view (whatever that is), and you are arguing with 4-6 or so people at once. That takes, at the least, some intestinal fortitude. I'm glad that here and there, one of "us" seems to make you think. Good luck in your quest for truth. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:00, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Sometimes I wonder if Ungtss is really "Science-Jesus", persistently testing our faith in the scientific method and settling for nothing less than purely rational argument. I admit I had never so thoroughly questioned my belief in the merits of the scientific method and have learned a great deal from this debate. Jorge Legendary Creature-Human Ninja 04:16, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Aww ... thanks:). I really enjoy the challenges y'all bring to me as well, and the sharpening of thought and mind is definitely mutual. Ungtss 05:14, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
It got me to read the WP articles on WP:Falsifiability, WP:Scientific Method and WP:Karl Popper - all of which are worth it. Oh, and I also appreciate the manners. Silver Sloth 12:09, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Sadly, my last contribution was archived before a response was made, but in it I recommended some scholarly sources. Philosophy of science has moved on since Popper was around. If you're interested in contemporary philosophy of science, then you should be looking at Fred Suppe's "The Structure of Scientific Theories." It covers the history of philosophy of science and the makings of the so-called "semantic conception" of scientific theories, which is currently the dominant view. For applications to evolutionary biology, there's Elisabeth Lloyd's "The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Biology." Finally, for demarcation, there's the SEP's page on science and pseudo-science. Popper's far from the last word on science and demarcation.
Also, I too want to commend Ungtss for being reasonable and, as best I can tell, intellectually honest.TallMan 22:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Is it a rule that all philosophers of science must have double letters in their last name? pp for boys, ll for girls? ħumanUser talk:Human 22:31, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Many do, but they're not all double p's. For instance, there's Bas van Fraassen.TallMan 05:06, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Tallman. I'd be the first to agree that Popper's not the final word in demarcation. In my opinion, he's got the best line of all the big time philosophers of science (although I haven't read the books you cited, and I'll have to get them off sometime to see if they've got something better.) My opinion du jour on the demarcation problem is slightly different from Popper's: I think science is composed of the conclusions drawn from the scientific method -- particularly, experimental tests of hypotheses. Ungtss 00:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I personally admire Ungtss for being as cordial and respectful as he is, despite being under heavy fire from (from my count) five editors. Javasca₧ Give a man a face, and he will say what you want to hear. Give him a mask, and he will say what he wants 14:08, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Absolutely. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:10, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Q for U[edit]

Just wanted to share this while you all are merrily debating. Carry on :)

This is backing up a bit. Ungtss, would you consider things like geology, astrophysics, and cosmology science? Those (and several others) are disciplines in which much work is done outside controlled laboratory settings. In plenty of cases the only "experiment" in those fields is the world/galaxy/universe we're in, so in a sense we have N=1 trials. But there are reasonable inferences we can make based on the results of that one trial. For instance, we didn't observe how the sun formed. But we can see mechanisms of star formation occurring elsewhere in the universe and reasonably apply that evidence to the sun. And we can select the model for the sun's formation that has the highest likelihood according to that evidence (again, getting back to hypothesis testing--we don't pick the model that's "true," because we can't. We pick the model that's most likely, and then wait for a better one to come along). If you happen to be able to do controlled experiments that could help support or reject the model, then that's a fantastic piece of evidence but it's hardly the whole story. Heck, when Newton formulated his law of gravity, very few of its components had empirical support, and it took a few hundred years for that support to be developed. But most people would still call his work well within the domain of science.

Sorry for rambling, but my basic point is that if we constrain science to be only that which can be undertaken under controlled laboratory conditions and disallow inductive processes , we're throwing out a gigantic baby with the bath water.--Bayes 05:37, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Good question. I consider parts of what we call geology science, and parts of it non-science. There's a big difference between the natural experiments (observations outside the lab), which are science in my opinion, and the untestable inferences drawn from those observations. Thus a geologist is doing science when he observes what happens when a volcano erupts, but doing non-science when he speculates about how the moon formed. An astrophysicist is doing science when he studies the solar wind, but not when he speculates about what causes stars to form. Ungtss 12:58, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I think we should really call it "Ungtss-science", as your definition of science clearly is not that of scientists. Editor at CPOh, Finland! Why? 13:11, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I told you above, it's my opinion. Ungtss 13:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Liek wen scientists find a bunch of bones laying around in the shape of an animal, and they infer that it was actually at one time an actual, real live animal at some point in time. Science is that the bones are there. Non-science is the assumption that these were once living animals. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
False analogy. We have observed the transition from life to dead bones, so in seeing bones we are just filling the blank with a scientifically observed process. But we haven't observed the formation of a moon, so when we see the moon and make up an origin for it, we're blowing smoke up the public's ass. Ungtss 13:21, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Fucking nailed you analogy. We have observed the transition from life to dead bones, so we infer that any bones we find were once live animals. It's an inductive inference. We haven't observed a T-rex walking around, so when we see the bones and make up an origin for it, we're blowing smoke up the public's ass. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You're getting good with those straw-men. Again, we've observed life turn to bones, so when we see bones, it's reasonable to infer life. And if we see the bones of a T-Rex, it's reasonable to infer a T-Rex. But we've never observed non-moon turning to moon. We don't have a clue how it happened. But all these scheisters in white suits are throwing speculations out there, calling them science. Ungtss 13:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And you're getting good at not recognizing inductive inference. "But we've never observed non-moon turning to moon." fucking brilliant. Are you a parodist? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:30, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And now we're back to irrelevant attacks without addressing my argument or making your own. Ungtss 13:31, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
We're back to irrelevant attacks without addressing your argument or making my own because, I'll be honest with you: I think you're a fucking retard. There is no point in discussing topics you are willfully ignorant of other than for shits and giggles. If you wanted to know how this shit works, you should have done some serious study. Not armchair science with a bunch of yahoos on the internet. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:35, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And now let's pile more irrelevant attacks on, instead of addressing the issue. Inductive inference requires observation. Biological decay has been observed. Moon formation has not. Therefore inferences of life from decayed organic matter are reasonable inferences, while inferences regarding moon birth are not. Ungtss 13:37, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Isn't is funny how it's always just some guy on the internet? Your ideas never really seem to eviscerate...well...anything. I can see how it begins to build up this caricature of guys in white coats ignoring you, but they're doing it for good reason. You're a kook. You never did the legwork. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:44, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
More to the monument of your misunderstanding, yes, biological decay has been observed. So have gravity, accretion disks, meteor impact, angular momentum...all things that lead up to a larger inference. Where do you even get off on this? Is someone telling you they know how the moon was formed? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 13:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, maybe the wikipedia article or the magazine yore getting you're information form doesn't explain how a hypothesis is testable or how a theory has been tested. That doesn't mean it isn't testable or hasn't been tested. You're intellectual laziness doesn't invalidate it. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:00, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Former insignia of the MD Jonas Basanavičius Military Medical Service (Lithuania).gif ĵ₳¥ášÇ♠ʘ is writing a comment 14:06, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Try this page, from a university, describing 5 "theories" of moon formation. Talk about a misuse of the term "theory." Here's another one that argues why it's a good hypothesis, without testing it, and then later on describes it as a theory. That's the shit being taught to kids in school, dude. You have been to school, haven't you? Ungtss 14:09, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(just stepping in for a quick bout)And those are the best explanations science has for an observed phenemona. We can see the moon is there, so the question of where the moon came from is perfectly valid to investigate. Science relies on natural explanations, and those five items listed are the five best explanations we have. Note that the website is not saying "The moon HAD TO HAVE FORMED FROM x causing y", but rather says "Here are five ways we think the moon may have formed". (I do agree that theory is incorrectly used on that site, and I think they should have opted for hypothesis) (outta time to write, will get back to this soon!) ĴάΛäšςǍ₰ would rather be hated for who he is than loved for who he is not 14:14, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you that these lines of evidence are worth investigation. What I object to is the marketing of these hypotheses prior to testing -- scientists presenting their preferred hypothesis as a "good hypothesis" (as they did in the second one) without testing it. They're jumping the gun, I think. Ungtss 14:25, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, to his credit, these do appear to be mislabeled as theories. That doesn't invalidate the hypotheses they actually are. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:18, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC) It's like you really think that's all there is. Yes, Ungtss, it's all neatly on one little page like that. NASA scientists aren't making predictions you'll never truly comprehend or doing experiments you'll never fully understand or writing peer-reviewed journal articles you'll never read. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:16, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Q for U EZ edit button[edit]

The point is that they're being marketed as "potential explanations" and even "good theories" and "bad theories" by professors and proponents of the hypotheses prior to testing. They're not anything but "wild guesses." Yet scientists publish papers about these half-baked, untested hypotheses all the time. And teach their flawed thinking to the kids, who grow up also not understanding how the scientific method actually works. Ungtss 14:25, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The point is that you haven't really done any research. These aren't half-baked hypotheses. They're backed up by a wealth of information that you'll never, ever bother to find or understand. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:35, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I would add that a couple of hastily put together web pages (especially that first one) that cover complex topics VERY briefly really doesn't reflect on anyone but the person who made the webpage (probably not the professor). Are the textbooks accurate? Is the material dealt with properly in the lectures? That's the important bit. --Kels 14:41, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC)I certainly wouldn't call them "wild guesses". They are potential explanantions and each has their strengths and weaknesses which leads to a degree of certainty for each. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 14:45, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
This comes down to the same epistemological question as before, though. They're all untested hypotheses. Whether one is "stronger" than another is a matter of subjective opinion, not experimental results. None of these, therefore, have been subjected to the scientific method. Why are they promoted and marketed as "potential explanations" by scientists, even though no experimental "science" has been performed? Ungtss 15:17, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure I'm parsing your words or if you truly don't understand what's going on, but a hypothesis does not need to be tested, it needs to be testable. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 15:22, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
They're all untested hypotheses. The big thing I keep trying to stress is that you simply aren't aware of the tests and that you're an intellectually lazy armchair scientist. If you want to know what the tests are, you're going to actually have to do some learning. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 15:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You're stating a conclusion without evidence. What tests have been performed on these hypotheses? And if tests have been performed, why are there still multiple competing hypotheses floating around? The fact is, no tests have been performed, and I'll put the ball into your court to prove me wrong. The scientific method goes from hypothesis to experimental test. If a hypothesis has not actually been tested, then the scientific method has not been followed. We made it to the part where we can make up whatever shit we want to (hypothesis), and then we stopped, wrote a paper, and interviewed with Popular Science. But we never finished the process of actually doing science, which involves an experiment and a test. Like a half-baked muffin, or a half-made movie. Ungtss 15:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC) According to what I can find in a quick Google search, there's been a good deal of ongoing research, including computer modelling, research into the composition of the earth and moon, and observation of warm dust rings in other systems that match the predictions of the hypothesis. Of course, that's a quick Google search and not full-scale research, which would be necessary to effectively criticize or make judgements on it. Well, most people would need that. --Kels 15:39, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Here you go, fucktard. A bunch of shit you'll never really understand. See if you can figure out what the experiments are or if you give up and insist that there are none. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 16:10, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Seriously? You're throwing me softballs, dude. Read the last sentence of the abstract: "We argue that this scenario is possible and should be further studied." A "Possibility" is a "hypothesis," because it hasn't been tested against the cold, hard facts of reality. They model, they hypothesize, they speculate. But they never test, because they can't. This a perfect example of untested hypothesis masqueraded as science. Ungtss 16:26, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Typical Ungtss fail. Didn't read it, did ya? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 16:36, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Why of course -- I quoted it, but didn't read it. Excellent inductive reasoning there. Again. The scientists in that case modeled a hypothesis for the origin of the moon, but did not test the hypothesis against reality, because such a test is not possible. Unfortunately, in today's environment, a bald hypothesis is enough to get you published. Ungtss 17:17, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
As suspected, you did not read the paper. It's not a surprise, it's very technical. Someone with no training wouldn't stand a chance. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 17:26, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Whether one is "stronger" than another is a matter of subjective opinion, not experimental results. I emphatically disagree. The whole point of science is determining which hypothesis should be objectively favored, and there are mathematical tools to evaluate evidence to do just that. In fact, big arguments have occurred over the best way to do it (one of the most notable being the Bayesian vs. frequentist debate). You can absolutely test the validity of a hypothesis based on observational data. Controlled, repeated experimental trials are one component but are not the whole story, and in some cases they themselves require inferential techniques (medical studies being a prime example).--Bayes 15:38, 14 May 2009 (UTC) Also, the existence of multiple competing hypotheses just means that there isn't enough evidence yet to strongly prefer one over the other. It most certainly does not mean a "make shit up, write paper." --Bayes 15:40, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

In my opinion, the whole point of science was to apply the scientific method. A lot of people calling themselves scientists do otherwise, but I think their actions are extremely anti-scientific, because they replace the objective rules and procedures of the scientific method with speculative, subjective rules of which untested hypothesis is best. I also think that all their arguing about which untested hypothesis is superior is completely useless in the real world, since scientific progress is built on experiment, not speculating on which untested hypothesis is best. Ungtss 16:26, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Your misconceptions run deep. I know you've sloughed this off before, but I really would like to know: what academic efforts have you made to understand science? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 16:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Why don't you stop wasting time with ad hominem fallacies and address what I'm actually saying, eh? Ungtss 17:17, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Inquiring about your background is not a fallacy, so cut your bullshit fancy spanish terms you fucking moran.. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 17:19, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Quit misspelling "moran" and talk issues. Ungtss 17:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Jesus Christ your thick... — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 17:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Incidentally, it's a Latin term. Ungtss 17:25, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Know its naught. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 17:27, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The thing is Ungtss, I don't particularly view the misunderstanding of science by someone who has made no substantial effort to understand it as an issue. You deserve to be ridiculed and marginalized, not respected. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 17:30, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The scientific method, I would argue, is the very process of testing competing hypotheses in a way that minimizes speculation and subjective interpretation by using evidence. Repeated controlled experiment is one particularly robust way of carrying out the scientific method, but it is not the method in and of itself, nor is it any more capable of determining "truth" than observational inference. As you do repeated experimental trials to measure the mass of a peanut, you are essentially evaluating competing hypotheses of the form "The mass of the peanut is 1 gram", "The mass of the peanut is 5 grams," and "The mass of the peanut is 500 grams." As you carry out more measurements, you are accumulating increasingly strong evidence that the mass of the peanut is between, say, 3.1 and 3.2 grams (I actually have no idea what a typical mass of a peanut is...guess I'll have to try that). When you report the mean and standard deviation of your trials, you are reporting a range of values that you think someone else has a high probability of measuring should they carry out a similar experiment . Note that you are not reporting the "true" mass of the peanut. You are reporting your observations of the mass of the peanut, which might have strong empirical support, depending on the number and quality of your measurements. Now, we can't do that type of repeated experiment when measuring the mass of Saturn because we only have one Saturn in uncontrolled conditions and no balance to set it on. But we can infer the mass by observing interactions with other matter and making certain assumptions based on our current theories of gravitation. Again, we can get a range of values that are highly probable for the mass of Saturn based on that evidence. That evidence is continually updated as we get more information about orbital periods and whatever else we can use. I maintain that the same scientific method is used in both cases of the peanut and Saturn. It's just that different ways are applied to collect the evidence used in the scientific method.--Bayes 17:27, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you that both the measurement of the peanuts and the measurement of Saturn are science, because an experimental observation can be performed. In the case of peanuts, you can place the peanut on the scale. In the case of Saturn, you can apply Kepler's third law, inputing orbital period, orbital radius, gravitational constant, and mass of the sun. And Kepler's third law can (and has been) tested. But these two examples are very different from pseudoscientific hypotheses like "The moon originated by X mechanism" or "life spontaneously arose by Y mechanism." The latter examples are not the result of testing, and therefore not (in my opinion) science. Ungtss 17:47, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I would have to say neveruse's questions (and your persistent refusal to answer them) are very relevant to the weight of your opinion in this case. I must say I'm puzzled at your reluctance, perceived ad hom or no. --Kels 17:50, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I envision Ungtss calling up customer service to complain that a product doesn't work...
  • "Sir, did you read the instructions?"
  • "What does that have to do with anything? Stop ad homineming me!!!1" — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 18:04, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Easy edit for question avoidance[edit]

We apparently agree that inference based on mathematical models and observational data are science. If you accept that, then I don't understand why you think that hypotheses about the origin of life and the moon aren't subject to test. The hypothesis about the moon breaking away from Earth can be/is tested by making observations about the compositions of the Earth and the moon. If they're similar, then that hypothesis becomes more likely. If not, it becomes less likely. Again, the likelihood is updated as further evidence becomes available.--Bayes 18:27, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
In my opinion, the difference lies here: We have an established method to determine mass of a peanut and planets -- scales and established laws of planetary motion. But we don't have a method to determine the origin of the moon. If the two are the same composition, then they may have originated together, or originated separately from a common source. If the two are different in composition, then the two may have originated separately. But neither tells us how the moon actually formed and came to orbit the Earth. For that, we turn to models and hypotheses which cannot themselves be tested like you can test the mass of a peanut, or Kepler's third law. Ungtss 18:47, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Kepler's laws say nothing about mass, and the third relates the period of orbit to the semi-major axis. Did you really think it could be used to determine mass? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:36, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
As stated below, Newton's version of Kepler's third law is the only means we have of calculating planetary mass. Here's a short summary. Ungtss 05:05, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Note, though, that if we find that the composition is the same, we would use that evidence to reduce our confidence in a model that proposes that the moon originated in a collision with another body originating elsewhere. And fortunately we have access to several lines of evidence beyond just composition. We can measure the angular momentum of the earth-moon system to see if it's reasonable for a collision or fission to have occurred in the past (this wouldn't prove anything either, but it would rule out some scenarios and make others more favorable). We also know how material could accrete to form celestial bodies, and how objects are captured by gravitational fields, so we can use that information as well to discriminate between hypotheses. I don't mean for this conversation to become a digression about the moon, but the point is, a meaningful hypothesis must imply logical observable consequences, even if it addressed an event that occurred in the distant past. If we observe the consequences consistent with a hypothesis, then it becomes more probable; if we don't, then it becomes less probable. If a hypothesis is so dilute that its consequences are unobservable or untestable prima facie, then it's probably not very useful anyway, and your concerns about speculation would be convincing. As far as I know, nobody writes papers based on that kind of hypothesis because they'd just get laughed at unless they had a very convincing reason.
That said, it seems like at least part of your argument is not against hypothesis testing itself, but against putting undue weight on a hypothesis that has not yet been tested to a degree that merits it. If that's what you mean, then I think most scientists would agree. The models for abiogenesis are, relatively speaking, probably not as rigorous as those which predict planetary motion because there isn't as much evidence to go on (I'm prepared to be told otherwise if anyone who knows more about this bye-o-lojicul stuff than me is reading). But I would not go so far as to say that makes them unscientific.--Bayes 20:46, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you entirely. I think our only real point of difference is semantic -- meaning that I find "this untested hypothesis is superior to that untested hypothesis" to be "not yet science" until it is actually tested as one tests the weight of a peanut or Kepler's third law, while I understand you to mean that these hypotheses (and the evaluation of them) are "science," but science which does not bear the same level or reliability as peanut weighing because it is not subject to the same degree of rigorous testing. Let me know if I'm incorrect in my interpretation. The reason I find the difference in semantics to be significant is that "Scientific" carries a great deal of credibility because of the power that testable science (such as electromagnetism, biochemistry, and astrophysics) has proven itself to have. Lumping that incredibly reliable, powerful science in with "untested hypotheses which varying degrees of likelihood as determined by the elite" seems to me to give undue weight to the opinions of the elite, lead to the premature elimination of alternative hypotheses, and the premature acceptance of the "most likely" hypothesis. I think it's dangerous to pick a hypothesis as "best," because a selection is being made without experiment. I love the Hannes Alfven quote, "We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture." I think often it does, particular in the realms of cosmology, evolutionary biology, stellar evolution, and historical geology. Many people (including many scientists, in my experience) are prone to take the "best hypothesis" to be the "answer," and I think drawing a distinction between testable science (which is as close to an answer as humanly possible) and untested hypotheses with varying degrees of likelihood would prevent a lot of trouble. What do you think? Ungtss 21:05, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm saying that peanut weighing follows the same scientific methodology as determining the moon's origin. One uses evidence gathered under controlled laboratory conditions, and one uses evidence gathered by observation, but the underlying process of evaluating the hypotheses involved is the same. I don't have any problem calling both science. No matter what evidence-gathering methodology you use, lab experiments or otherwise, in cases where the empirical evidence for a given hypothesis is not particularly strong, all you have to do is say so; you don't have to render it as non-science. I also strongly disagree with the idea that evaluating hypotheses inferentially is little more than an opinion contest between elites. Sure, there are varying degrees to which confidence is placed in different hypotheses, but that is determined by the amount and quality of the evidence, not somebody's say-so. You mention "untested hypotheses with varying degrees of likelihood"--but if they have varying degrees of likelihood, they must have been tested somehow. You also say that "it's dangerous to pick a hypothesis as 'best,' because a selection is being made without experiment" but if a hypothesis is "best", it must have been tested and objectively found to be the best based on the evidence. Again, there are more ways to gather evidence than conducting laboratory experiments. Repeated controlled laboratory experiments are one way to generate evidence to test hypotheses. I don't see why they must be the only way. Replace the word "experiments" in the Alfven quote with "evidence" and I would heartily endorse it.--Bayes 22:19, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Bayes on the "evidence" vs. the narrower "experiment" perspective. Also, often there are several competing hypotheses being made more or less likely (or getting improved) due to accumulating data. So the observation part is being done, it just hasn't provided enough data yet to reduce the explanation to one hypothesis. In the moon formation example, more and more detailed observation of "other things in space at various stages" is part of what gets added as data, for instance. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:00, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
you really don't see any difference between weighing a peanut and trying to piece together umobservable past events based on fragmentary evidence? How is it that juries so often have split decisions based on their interpretation of the evidence presented? Are there objective rules they need to follow in interpretting and weighing the evidence? Ungtss 23:27, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Of course I see the difference - it's a matter of degree of accuracy in reporting the results. I don't see what juries have to do with this. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:36, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I see a difference, but the difference is in the methodology of how evidence is collected, not in the method of how to arrive at which hypothesis is most probable. Of course, the quality of the evidence also has to be considered, and that's certainly a factor in hypothesis testing. Controlled studies are valuable sources of evidence, but observational evidence can't be completely discounted. Re: juries, the methodology of science is different from the methodology of determining whether guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not a directly applicable analogy because lawyers in an adversarial justice system (as in the U.S.) have an obvious stated agenda that they are pursuing, and they deliberately try to mislead or confuse the juries about the evidence ("if the glove don't fit, you must acquit!"). The job of a lawyer, especially one on the wrong side of the "correct" evidence, is to introduce subjectivity into the equation. There's actually some interesting literature about allowing juries to use scientific and/or probabilistic methods to arrive at verdicts, especially when it comes to DNA evidence; WP has some info about the topic.--Bayes 03:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Ungtss, what is the point to all of this?[edit]

There have been more than a few times where I have thought - "Oh, that's what he's [Ungtss] getting at" - only to later think to myself - "Ah... nope... I guess that's not what he was getting at". So, what is the point? --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 14:06, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

I like to think the point's in the dialectic. I'm sharpening my thoughts through discussion, and have heard hints that others here are doing the same. I'm not here to convince anybody of anything. But I do like to pop bubbles of ignorance and illogic when I find them, and I appreciate it when others pop the ones they find in me. Ungtss 14:09, 14 May 2009 (UTC)


Just curious, is there anyone in this thread except Ungtss who refuses to state what their background or education in science is? It's telling that Mr. Tss (can I call you Ung?) considers the question (wrongly) as an ad hominem, since he's been tossing his opinion about as if it's got some weight, and denying the statements of others, claiming that they have none. --Kels 18:59, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

My credentials are irrelevant to the matters in discussion -- because the facts are the facts, regardless what the degrees any of us has. True science is profoundly anti-elitist, and that's one of the many things that makes it beautiful. But let's run a thought experiment. I tell you have a degree in biochemistry from MIT, a JD, and a PhD in philosophy of science from Stanford, and you say, "Yeah right -- no real scientist would believe the bullshit you believe." I say I'm a 12-year old who dropped out of 3rd grade, and you say, "See, that's why we don't need to pay attention to you." It's a fucking waste of time telling you what my qualifications are. The facts are the facts. And in refusing to address my substantive arguments and focusing instead on irrelevant ad hom considerations, you're just depriving yourself of the opportunity to learn. Because even if everything I'm saying is wrong, you still have the opportunity to learn by correcting my mistakes. You're only cheating yourself with this bullshit. Ungtss 20:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And yet you remain the only one interested in obscuring your credentials. Strange. --Kels 20:57, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I also remain completely uninterested in yours. Ungtss 21:07, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Good for you. However, this question was mainly for people who aren't Ungtss, to see if they're as interested as you in obscuring their own credibility. Perhaps you should give them a chance, yes? --Kels 21:09, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
What stage is "gauge credibility of source of opinion" in the scientific method, anyway? Is it before or after the "Apply Chewbacca Defense to mask ignorance?" Ungtss 21:15, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Didn't I ask you to give people who aren't Ungtss a chance? --Kels 21:20, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Am I stopping them? Ungtss 21:21, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You're unnecessarily cluttering up the section. --Kels 21:22, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Oh my bad, you have credentials. You must be right. Ungtss 21:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And now you're just being a dick. Way to go. --Kels 21:25, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Ungtss loves teh fallacies....perhaps his favorite is the argument from silence? — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:11, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You're packing two fallacies into one there, genius. An argument from silence in response to ad hominem. Very nice. Ungtss 21:15, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Science is a meritocracy, Ungtss. The fact that you are unwilling to disclose your credentials, combined with the observations that you haven't a clue what you're talking about lead to the inference that you have no merits. It's not irrelevant, but go ahead, say it is. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:17, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Science is not a meritocracy. Science is experimental. If the facts support the conclusion, the credentials are irrelevant. If the facts don't support conclusion, the credentials are irrelevant. That's why I prefer to talk about facts. Ungtss 21:19, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Science is not a meritocracy. Eh...I think you mean Ungtss Science. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:22, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You're indulging in the fallacy of ambiguity -- using two definitions of "meritocracy" -- 1) The best scientists decide what's true, and 2) the best argument wins. Pick one and we can continue.
We cheerfully discriminate against those ideas that don’t work...this is a true meritocracy in the sense that those ideas, explanations, theories that really do explain nature are the ones that last and the ones that we, that trickle down into high school.

Eugenie Scott — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:32, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

And since this is an issue of philosophy of science, what are her qualifications in philosophy of science? Or does having a degree in physical anthropology make her an expert in every area, including those in which she has no credentials? Ungtss 21:42, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
(EC) Hey Ungtss, Steven Novella says "One of the aspects of the institutions of science that I find most appealing is that at its heart science is a meritocracy." Does that count? --Kels 21:34, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
And what are his credentials in philosophy of science that would allow him to speak authoritatively on the matter? Ungtss 21:42, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Say, what are yours? Therefore, why should I take either one of you seriously? Other than the fact that he's actively involved in, you know, doing science. And you're...well, you're apparently embarrassed by it or something. --Kels 21:46, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't think his credentials are relevant. But following your reasoning, in which credentials are essential, you picked a pretty shitty authority for your position. Ungtss 21:48, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You don't think "is trained and experienced in science" is relevant to "knows something about science"? That's as silly as "hides whether he knows something about science" being irrelevant to "wants to be taken seriously about science despite disagreeing with everyone about it". --Kels 23:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
yup. Because this is a question of philosophy of science not neuroscience or physical anthropology. And even more so because a person's participation in a profession does not make them authoritative on how one should operate in the profession. Like asking a politician how politics should go, or a preacher, or a CEO. They have vested interests of their own and I'm not obliged to defer to their self-serving visions of their own positions in the world. Ungtss 23:41, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Wow. You may not want to talk about your scientific past, but that there says a lot about you. --Kels 23:47, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
5 internets says Ungtss can't be wrong on this one. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 21:37, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Not 1 yet. But keep trying. Ungtss 21:42, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeaaaahh...that's what I thought. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 23:05, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

(Undent) Though I am somewhat curious about Ungtss' scientific background, I have to agree that his credentials bear no relevance to this discussion. Ungtss does clearly has some exceptional talents in the field of rhetoric. But aside from a curious biases against the scientific method being applied outside of a laboratory, he's generally been reasonable. I swear we even agreed a few days ago that inquiry into abiogenesis could be called "science" which if I remember correctly, was how this whole thing started. I also want to voice my opinion that science being an objective method of inquiry is not a meritocracy, just because a majority of scientists in the world believes something doesn't make it true. The evidence and conclusions drawn from the scientific method should be transparent to anyone who can understand it.

Ungtss, why are you trying to apply the same criticism to other categories of science? I thought we agreed on what the scientific method was and therefore, any inquiry that employed such a method was science. Jorge might get around to it 23:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I'm not following your question. Investigating such things is certainly science insofar as it tests hypotheses, whether inside or outside the lab ... But I think calling the hypotheses "science" prior to their being tested against reality is premature. Ungtss 23:59, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
They are hypotheses when they have been partially strengthened by some investigation. They start out as "ideas", or "conjecture" or even "wild ass guesses", then the details of what they explain and what they entail are worked out, then the entailments are compared to reality via observation... etc. The entire process (except amateur wild ass guessing) is called "science". ħumanUser talk:Human 00:04, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
As long as he continues to assert his own perverse definitions and conceptions of these concepts, there's really no point. I don't believe anything can be proven to him now. It seems to be drifting toward contrarian at this point.. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 00:12, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
While I tend to agree, I still put the question out: At what point in the scientific method does an inquiry *poof* become science? It seems to me that if you are using the scientific method to investigate something you are doing "science", regardless of what step of the method you are on. Jorge might get around to it 00:15, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't disagree at all. A lot of this comes down to semantics. The way I use the words, I think you're "doing science" when you're engaged in the scientific method at any stage, but you only have a "scientific conclusion" when you've gone all the way through, and have data testing a hypothesis. I am often frustrated by papers which only get to the hypothesis step, then stop. Yes, hypothesis is a step in the method. But publishing before you get to the end seems premature to me. That's all. Ungtss 01:03, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, the testing of a hypothesis is the purpose of the method. Many things we are unable to test (say, "when we are able build a probe that can reach alpha centauri..." or "when we get grant money..." or something). If it's incapable of being tested, it's not a scientific hypothesis and I don't think many scientists are publishing hypotheses without the intention of testing them. In fact, the intention of publishing them is often to aid in securing grants for the tests. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 01:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Interesting, I'd never looked at it that way before. Ungtss 01:29, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I'll have to agree that credentials are only relevant if they are being used as part of the argument (see my verylongago credentials thing with teh assfly). I don't see Ungtss relying on mystery credentials to make his/her point. But...i also must admit that I'm feeling rather ignorant of what that point is. If this is pure rhetoric, then it's pretty damned irrelevant after a point. If this is about how to operationalize knowledge, then ive lost the point here. -- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --It hurts when I do "this" 00:25, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
My intention was merely to learn where Ungtss got these ideas about science. It was not my intention to use his background to discredit his ideas, as they are certainly not invalidated by their origins, but their merits. Considering it is relevant only to my personal interest, I suppose I shouldn't have pressed him upon his reluctance. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 00:29, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
As long as it's not in the context of an ad hom argument, I'll give a picture of my background. I have a doctorate, but not in a hard science. I have taken a number of advanced science courses as electives. My interest in science has always been passionate, but avocational. The primary source of my knowledge and opinions on science (such as they are) come from voracious personal research, particularly on Google Scholar. Ungtss 01:03, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, Ungtss. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 01:08, 15 May 2009 (UTC)


The issue at hand is the publication of papers which present an untested hypothesis, in order to get a grant to test the hypothesis. Consider this one. It appears to me to draw conclusions rather than raise questions for research (in particular, its claim that "The notothenioid trypsinogen to AFGP conversion is the first clear example of how an old protein gene spawned a new gene for an entirely new protein with a new function. It also represents a rare instance in which protein evolution, organismal adaptation, and environmental conditions can be linked directly.") Yet the hypothesis remains untested. What's up with that? Ungtss 01:34, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

New issue, based on NeverUse's comment above:). Ungtss 01:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm no expert on this stuff, but doesn't "Specimens of the giant Antarctic notothenioid D. mawsoni were caught..." suggest some sort of ongoing testing is actually taking place, and "This work is supported in part by National Science Foundation Grant OPP-93–17629 to A.L.D." suggest that there's already a grant in place to do so? Or am I missing something? --Kels 01:46, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, they're clearing receiving a grant, and clearly catching fish ... but my questions are, "Are they presenting this hypothesis prior to testing it to secure a grant?" and "If so, is that a legitimate reason to publish a paper which draws such strong conclusions as "This is the first clear example of how an old protein gene spawned a new gene for an entirely new protein with a new function," without testing that hypothesis? Ungtss 01:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Dunno if it helps at all, but the NSF site says the grant was for "DeVries, Arthur L. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois. The role of antifreeze proteins in freezing avoidance of antarctic fishes. OPP 93-17629. $165,041. (3)" Presumably they're not sport fishing, but it's something relevant. --Kels 02:07, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Yay, back to this! Ok, here's my take: I can barely read that paper. I haven't read the whole thing yet. When I see something like "The notothenioid trypsinogen to AFGP conversion is the first clear example of how an old protein gene spawned a new gene for an entirely new protein with a new function. It also represents a rare instance in which protein evolution, organismal adaptation, and environmental conditions can be linked directly." I assume that the scientists successfully tested some hypotheses to form this conclusion.
I feel like when you look at it and don't see "We accomplished this by doing this test" in the abstract you assume that no test has been done. Have you read and understood the whole paper? I'm trying, but it's going to take a loooooong time. I'm giving the scientists the benefit of the doubt and you're playing the skeptic. I think your skepticism is for the most part healthy, but I hope you are willing to give due diligence in finding your answer. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 01:52, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I have read the entire paper, and believe I understand it conceptually. I'm not an expert on the particulars of the codons being tested, but I understand the analysis. The two genes are 93-96% similar in both coding and non-coding regions. With a few rearrangements, one can be turned into another. Therefore, they conclude that one evolved into the other. But what's funny is that these same proteins turn out to have "evolved" in a number of unrelated species ([1] Ungtss 01:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I think that's called "convergence" - similar traits evolve in similar circumstances. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:01, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and if my understanding is correct, the different species who evolved this trait were found to have taken different evolutionary paths to do so. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 02:09, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Didn't we cover this already? Yes, a hypothesis was tested. The hypothesis: "Gene A and Gene B are similar enough that, given the rate of mutation, etc, one could have evolved into the other"; the test: analyze a bunch of fish DNA. After all we've been over in this debate, I can't fathom how Ungtss still goes on misunderstanding/misrepresenting what hypotheses are being tested and how. Jorge is still sorry for whatever he did 04:05, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Apparently we didn't cover it. It tests the hypothesis "Are they relatively similar?" But it does not test the hypotheses "Is each intermediate mutation viable?" "Does each intermediate mutation have a survival advantage permitting it to spread throughout the population?" And "Did it occur, historically?" Yet while the last hypothesis is not tested by the method, the paper reports an affirmative conclusion. In other words, the paper tests one hypothesis, and then reports a positive conclusion as to a different one. Ungtss 04:58, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
"Is each intermediate mutation viable?" Is each intermediate mutation coded? I think you've misunderstood the concept of an alternate reading frame. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 14:38, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Care to explain your meaning? Ungtss 17:28, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
The mutations were occurring in non-coding ("junk") DNA. At some point, a mutation caused a frameshift to occur, which caused the information to be coded (i.e. make a protein). There were not necessarily any intermediate proteins. — Unsigned, by: Neveruse513 / talk / contribs 18:36, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
How do you know the mutations were occurring in non-coding DNA? The intermediate steps have not been tested. Further, just because DNA is not known to be coding does not mean it's "junk" DNA -- a lot of epigenetic mechanisms are known to occur in the "non-coding" regions, and referring to them as "junk" is out of date. Finally, if the segments where the mutations were talking place had no effect on the viability of the organism, then there was no selection pressure to allow one mutation to spread and be built on by another -- and you're just talking about these mutations happening by pure, dumb luck. Given the choice between pure, dumb luck and design to explain something so profoundly useful and uniquely suited to the organism, I'll pick design. Ungtss 22:14, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't see there being much of a stretch in claiming that the observed change in this particular gene was caused by mutation and natural selection. After all, what other explanation is there? Jorge Radix Malorum Est Superbia 03:01, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, this paper claims that one specific gene mutated into another specific gene. There are a number of alternatives. The gene might have have mutated from another gene. Or it might have mutated from random non-coding DNA. Or it might not have mutated at all, but been designed. Or it might have been altered by some epigenetic mechanism. There are lots of unexplored alternatives ... Ungtss 17:39, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Did you read the study? The observed change in the gene makes those alternatives look extremely unlikely. Of course we can't prove this, but all the evidence points to the hypothesis that Gene B mutated from Gene A. Those other ideas are nifty, but they lack any evidence to support them, whereas the proposed mechanism involves a series of basic steps with the evidence to back it up. Besides the point is that the hypothesis was tested, not proven, tested. You do understand what testing means at this point, right? Jorge is still sorry for whatever he did 22:51, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
I can see nothing in that study to indicate that the gradualistic evolution explanation is superior to any others. If I'm missing something, please bring me from darkness into light. If they actually tested each hypothetical step in the evolution (engineer gene shift 1, determine if viable, determine if survival advantage to allow the mutation to spread), repeat with each alteration, then you'd have a decent case that it occurred. But as it stands, it's like "I can change this four cylinder into a six cylinder by adding two cylinders, so the 6 evolved from the 4," which is preposterously wishful thinking, in my opinion. What happened to the organism at each intermediate step? What advantage at each step caused it to spread so that the next step would be advantageous? Or if there isn't anything, are we really saying all these changes just happened to occur in order? Ungtss 00:52, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
In this case, gradual evolution is superior because it is a simplest explanation. I don't understand your analogy, living organisms evolve, cars don't. This type of genetic change through has been observed in other species so it's perfectly reasonable to assume that's what has happened here. If you think something else happened, come out a say what you think it was and show me some evidence. Jorge might get around to it 03:41, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
The analogy makes sense to him, since he thinks, a priori, that life is designed, just like cars are. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:05, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Ah, but science isn't about what's "reasonable to assume." It's about what's testable. That's why these papers are not persuasive to those (like me) who don't already think it's reasonable to assume universal common descent. It's the problem of confirmation bias. If you already believe everything is the result of mutation from something else, then sure -- this seems reasonable. But if you don't, then this seems like assuming the most important fact in the case without evidence. Ungtss 13:18, 17 May 2009 (UTC)


  1. On what grounds do claim science isn't about what's "reasonable to assume"?
  2. Not only is this hypothesis testable, it was tested. The observed data supports the hypothesis "Natural selection caused the genetic shift"
  3. If you think another explanation is better, more reasonable, or more likely, come out and say what it is—otherwise I can safely assume you're just blowing smoke up my ass.

Jorge Gave real $$ to support RW 16:59, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

1) What step in the scientific method involves "Figure out whether it is reasonable to assume that your conclusion is true?"
2) That hypothesis was not tested. They tested the hypothesis "The genes are similar" and "One could be turned into the other with X,Y, and Z mutations," but they did not test the hypothesis "did it occur?" or even "would the intervening organisms be viable?" or "would each mutation have a survival advantage so that it would spread throughout the population?" The first of those three hypotheses isn't really testable because we lack the means. But the second and third could be tested, and are much more meaningful than "are the two genes similar?"
3) I don't want to get arguing about which explanation is more reasonable -- it's pointless to argue about that until we have a common understanding of what's reasonable. At this point, I'm only concerned with whether this paper consitutes good science, and I contend it doesn't.
The problem is that the conclusion rests on circular reasoning. What's our strongest evidence that it occurred by random variation and natural selection? As you said, "What other option is there?" But then, having assumed it's the only option, we use it to support the contention that the conclusion is true. That's circular reasoning, in violation of one of our agreed rules of reasoning. Science must not assume its only conclusion -- that's the same mistake theologians make when they argue the bogus ontological argument -- assume a definition of God that includes existence, and then conclude (from the definition) that God exists. Assume that mutation and natural selection is the only way to interpret genetic differences between organisms, and then use that assumption to prove that all genetic change is caused by variation and natural selection. Only persuasive to those who have already drunk the Kool Aid, I'm afraid. Ungtss 19:06, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
We are not assuming that natural selection is the only explanation, just the one that best fits the evidence. That is not circular reasoning. Suggesting that this hypothesis (you referred to it as a conclusion, which is not the same thing) is not the best explanation begs the question. Jorge Gave real $$ to support RW 03:19, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
As you said, you are assuming that variation + natural selection best fits the evidence, rather than concluding so, based on reasonable inferences. These scientists test for similarity, and conclude descent. That inference is ridiculous, unless you already assume (as you said) that common descent is the explanation. They don't trouble themselves to test for viability or survival advantage of intermediates. All they have to do is show that two things are similar, and they can infer one is descended of the other. And why can they make that leap? Because "common descent is well-established." But how did common descent come to be well-established? Based on papers, just like this, that assume it to be true. Ungtss 03:48, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Viability and survival advantages have been addressed in countless other experiments. Common descent came to be well-established because it is the explanation that best fits the evidence; if you have a different interpretation please share it with us. Jorge Radix Malorum Est Superbia 04:07, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps I'm not being clear. The scientists claim that one gene evolved into another through a series of shifts, duplications, deletions, etc. In a gradualistic evolutionary scenario, one mutation takes place, proves to be advantageous, and spreads throughout the population, replacing the non-mutants. Then a second mutation occurs, proves to be advantageous, and outsurvives the rest of the population, and so on. We do not know, however, if the organism could survive after the first mutation alone. That first mutation could be fatal. The same with the second, third, fourth, etc. Further, we don't know if each step proved advantageous enough to the species to be "fitter" than the competing members, and spread throughout the population. Both of these are essential prerequisites to a gradualistic evolutionary scenario. Both are easily testable through genetic engineering. Just take a fish with the first gene, and engineer the first mutation, and see what happens. Can it survive? Is it fitter than the competition? Unless it's fitter, genetic drift is going to wipe it out of the population soon enough. I've already named the many other alternatives several times -- the gene could be designed. It could be the result of concerted epigenetic reorganization. It could have mutated from a different gene. It could have mutated from random, non-coding DNA. That's four alternatives off the top of my head. All are equally consistent with the evidence. Contrary to common assumption, similarity ≠ descent. Papers like this are used to debunk ID, but there's nothing in this paper inconsistent with ID unless one begins with the assumption that ID is already wrong. Ungtss 04:27, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm feeling about at the end of the road on this one. If you want to start a discussion about the merits of intelligent design I'd be up for it, as I would be interested in hearing from someone who supports the theory who is not a creationist. I still hold the opinion that most evolutionary biologists are excellent scientists, but I agree that more research would help to illuminate some of the remaining pieces of the puzzle. Jorge as if my opinion counts 01:08, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
I'd love to move on to more substantive matters, but I foresee endless, circular discussions unless we begin with some common ground of agreement on epistemological matters. Would you agree that it's premature to claim that one gene evolved into another before you've tested whether the hypothetical intermediate forms were viable, and that each intermediate form had a survival advantage, making gradualistic evolution possible? Ungtss 14:08, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Is it premature to claim that the sun will rise tomorrow? Jorge Radix Malorum Est Superbia 00:01, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
And that's why I don't want to discuss ID with you. Your epistemology is desperately underdeveloped if you really think "gene A evolved from gene B" and "the sun will rise tomorrow" are epistemologically analogous. ID cannot be understood without a well developed epistemology. Ungtss 23:44, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
It depends. has anyone been feeding human hearts to Huitzilopchtli lately? --Gulik 07:59, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Philosophers of Science[edit]

If one wants to read something by a philosopher of science (rather than a scientist) might I suggest Elliot Sober[2]? He has a number of papers out there that are good read. I took a class from him years ago (intro to philosophy of science) and I recall he was a superb professor. I am fairly sure he would be happy to answer questions (if you looked at his papers, this is an area of interest for him). --Shagie 00:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Will do -- thanks for the tip. Ungtss 01:03, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I don't understand why Popper had such unquestioned authority concerning the Demarcation problem. I would think testability should be the keyword rather than falsifiability. There are several rival theories, with good reasons behind them. For example, here are some useful web pages on the demarcation debate.


See my edit to the "Easy edit for question avoidance" section. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:42, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

PS, it took about 24 hours for the Kepler reference to merge with my dimly remembered high school physics (I took more since then, but that was where I learnded teh Kepler) and make me look it up to make sure I remembered it correctly. Apparently, not all of us do. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:43, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, it's Newton's version of Kepler's third law, but the one everybody uses these days. Here's a short summary. Ungtss 04:56, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Followed the link in the above section, thanks. More detail often creates more clarity. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:15, 15 May 2009 (UTC)