Is evolution falsifiable? What would falsify evolution?

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zer0netgain
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06 Dec 2009, 9:14 pm

wesmontfan wrote:
So if you mention God, youre NOT being religious. But if you ignore God you ARE being religous.


No. When you operate from the position that there can be no God rather than there is a possibility of a God, you are imposing an absolute you cannot prove which taints your research. All possibilities must be on the table until you can positively prove they cannot be possible. This allows you to see how evidence you find fits all of the different theories.

Evolution is a theory. When a scientist chooses to embrace it as the only theory and will not consider other possible theories, conclusions affirming their lone theory are less credible because they dismiss other possibilities out of bias.



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06 Dec 2009, 10:48 pm

Evolution is an observation, not a theory. The evolution of life is obvious if one looks at fossils. Populations evolve over time, adapting to their environment. We know this as long as we breed animals. Even the bible mentions this?

The observation of evolution does not tell us how (the actual process) occurred. E.g. cars and computers evolve as well. So evidence of evolution is not evidence of any particular process, therefor all hypotheses are about process.

What we call the theory of evolution is really a collection of hypotheses about processes and supporting assumptions.

To begin with it takes a lot of assumptions about the universe, this planet, life, etc. Some may seem obvious. Some may seem odd. Some may very well turn out to be wrong. Some may even turn out to be irrelevant. In most cases we just don't know really. Most assumptions are never made explicit, they remain implicit.

At the moment there is no explanation for the origin of life. We don't even have a clue about the nature of the very first organisms. Origin of life is not part of any relevant hypotheses.

natural selection: We observe that there is naturally occurring variation in features in a population, natural selection preserves the best variations for the next generation.

The hypotheses of natural selection actually solves a problem with the laws of hereditary? The laws are just simple combinatorics really and it predicted that with a large enough population one should see on average the same variation generation after generation. Observation showed that this was not the case. The hypotheses of natural selection solved this by pointing out that not every variation has the same chance of reproduction. The evidence for this hypotheses is very good

universal common descent: That all life shares one common ancestor. This hypotheses is more based on logic, mostly inspired by naturalistic philosophy, then actual observations or hard evidence. This is mostly a matter of conviction, not one of evidence. As far as there is any evidence it does not distinguish between alternative hypotheses.

There is however very strong evidence for some common descent: Lions and tigers, horses and donkeys, sheep and goats, etc. Some consider this to be only a matter of degree, other consider it more then that. This is where the terms micro-evolution and macro-evolution come in handy.

It's called micro-evolution when its about lions and tigers having a common ancestor. It's macro-evolution for anything at genus level and above. Some have suggested that the processes which drive micro-evolution can not work for macro-evolution, others disagree. Evidence is mostly absent for macro-evolution, while it's very strong for micro-evolution.

Note that one can accept the hypotheses of natural selection, and still reject universal common descent, while accepting common descent. The differences are the assumptions one has, not in the available scientific evidence. One can even accept macro-evolution on basis of some assumptions, logic and the evidence for micro-evolution.

Then we have the modern syntheses aka The (modern) theory of evolution which takes the above and adds genetic mutations as a natural occurring, continuous source of new variation. If this is possible/plausible remains to be proven. At the moment it does not look good.



Last edited by Meta on 06 Dec 2009, 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Awesomelyglorious
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06 Dec 2009, 11:25 pm

zer0netgain wrote:
No. When you operate from the position that there can be no God rather than there is a possibility of a God, you are imposing an absolute you cannot prove which taints your research. All possibilities must be on the table until you can positively prove they cannot be possible. This allows you to see how evidence you find fits all of the different theories.

Well, to be honest, it seems either you are being literal, or everyone's research is tainted. Richard Dawkins is an atheist agnostic, he is willing to admit that God "could" exist, but he ranks it with fairies. In any case, scientific research is partially distinguished by the kinds of questions asked and how they are answered, and this limitation does pretty much prevent scientists from including God as a scientific possibility. There is nothing wrong with this though, as science is a study of nature, while God is a supernatural entity and thus a metaphysical hypothesis for philosophers to address.

Quote:
Evolution is a theory. When a scientist chooses to embrace it as the only theory and will not consider other possible theories, conclusions affirming their lone theory are less credible because they dismiss other possibilities out of bias.

Well, evolution is one of the best supported theories in science. It explains large amounts of data, can be witnessed across the fossil records, and extrapolates from experimental data, and explains phenomena that have even been occurring in the present. Not only that, but it is not methodologically questionable. At this point in time, there are no other theories. So, to embrace evolution as the only theory and not to consider other theories is not a problem because evolution is the only theory, and there are not other theories. This isn't even a matter of bias, but rather this is just rational.

Let's put it this way, does intelligent design do the following things:
1) Provide explanation for the variation in life?
2) Have empirical data supporting it?
3) Avoid ad-hoc hypotheses and supernatural entities?

For the most part, I don't see many of these questions answered. There is no empirical evidence for a designer, but rather an attempted inference is made, and the problem with this inference is that it is parasitic on current formulations of evolutionary theory, as seen with the previously posted Robin Ince comedy youtube. There is no real explanation for the variation in life. And the entire beginning hypothesis is ad-hoc, where a supernatural entity is often something that people attempt to insert, despite the methdological naturalism that is considered a major element of modern science. So, no, not a theory.

If Intelligent Design is a good theory, then why not historical alien intervention?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp86gsHschQ&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7IRRiVUmMI[/youtube]

Should our treks into human history neglect the possibility that ET reached across the lightyears to alter the workings of human societies? Or does untainted research require that we take this matter seriously as well?



Sand
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06 Dec 2009, 11:33 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
zer0netgain wrote:
No. When you operate from the position that there can be no God rather than there is a possibility of a God, you are imposing an absolute you cannot prove which taints your research. All possibilities must be on the table until you can positively prove they cannot be possible. This allows you to see how evidence you find fits all of the different theories.

Well, to be honest, it seems either you are being literal, or everyone's research is tainted. Richard Dawkins is an atheist agnostic, he is willing to admit that God "could" exist, but he ranks it with fairies. In any case, scientific research is partially distinguished by the kinds of questions asked and how they are answered, and this limitation does pretty much prevent scientists from including God as a scientific possibility. There is nothing wrong with this though, as science is a study of nature, while God is a supernatural entity and thus a metaphysical hypothesis for philosophers to address.

Quote:
Evolution is a theory. When a scientist chooses to embrace it as the only theory and will not consider other possible theories, conclusions affirming their lone theory are less credible because they dismiss other possibilities out of bias.

Well, evolution is one of the best supported theories in science. It explains large amounts of data, can be witnessed across the fossil records, and extrapolates from experimental data, and explains phenomena that have even been occurring in the present. Not only that, but it is not methodologically questionable. At this point in time, there are no other theories. So, to embrace evolution as the only theory and not to consider other theories is not a problem because evolution is the only theory, and there are not other theories. This isn't even a matter of bias, but rather this is just rational.

Let's put it this way, does intelligent design do the following things:
1) Provide explanation for the variation in life?
2) Have empirical data supporting it?
3) Avoid ad-hoc hypotheses and supernatural entities?

For the most part, I don't see many of these questions answered. There is no empirical evidence for a designer, but rather an attempted inference is made, and the problem with this inference is that it is parasitic on current formulations of evolutionary theory, as seen with the previously posted Robin Ince comedy youtube. There is no real explanation for the variation in life. And the entire beginning hypothesis is ad-hoc, where a supernatural entity is often something that people attempt to insert, despite the methdological naturalism that is considered a major element of modern science. So, no, not a theory.

If Intelligent Design is a good theory, then why not historical alien intervention?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp86gsHschQ&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7IRRiVUmMI[/youtube]

Should our treks into human history neglect the possibility that ET reached across the lightyears to alter the workings of human societies? Or does untainted research require that we take this matter seriously as well?


The basic argument circles around how did all things begin. To push the beginning to another planet merely indicates that whatever self-priming development of life there might be, it took place somewhere else and didn't originate on Earth. This satisfies nobody. It harks back to the old question of where God originated and the dismissal that He always existed also is no real answer.



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06 Dec 2009, 11:41 pm

Meta wrote:
Evolution is an observation, not a theory. The evolution of life is obvious if one looks at fossils. Populations evolve over time, adapting to their environment. We know this as long as we breed animals. Even the bible mentions this?

Ok, here's the issues:
1) We didn't have all of those fossils when the idea was first put forward by Darwin.
2) Many people, throughout the years, have denied evolution.
3) Darwinian evolution includes a mechanism, the breeding of animals.
4) Whether the Bible accepts evolution by descent could be questioned given an example of change by strange behaviors rather than descent.
Gen 30:37-39 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. (38) He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, (39) the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

Quote:
The observation of evolution does not tell us how (the actual process) occurred. E.g. cars and computers evolve as well. So evidence of evolution is not evidence of any particular process, therefor all hypotheses are about process.

Umm..... ok? That's why there have been multiple theories. Darwin's idea won partially because a mechanism was found.

Quote:
It's called micro-evolution when its about lions and tigers having a common ancestor. It's macro-evolution for anything at genus level and above. Some have suggested that the processes which drive micro-evolution can not work for macro-evolution, others disagree. Evidence is mostly absent for macro-evolution, while it's very strong for micro-evolution.

There is evidence for macro-evolution, such as the growing process of dolphin fetuses, the vestigial former limbs of whales, feathered lizards such as archaeopterix, etc. Not only that, but the field of cladistics depends upon macroevolution to some extent.

Quote:
Note that one can accept the hypotheses of natural selection, and still reject universal common descent, while accepting common descent. The differences are the assumptions one has, not in the available scientific evidence. One can even accept macro-evolution on basis of some assumptions, logic and the evidence for micro-evolution.

Then we have the modern syntheses aka The (modern) theory of evolution which takes the above and adds genetic mutations as a natural occurring, continuous source of new variation. If this is possible/plausible remains to be proven. At the moment it does not look good.

Ok. I don't really see a massive problem here, and certainly I don't see another viable theory.



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06 Dec 2009, 11:45 pm

One could question the basic assumptions: Did life have a beginning?

Perhaps life has always existed? Maybe the universe isn't a closed system? Perhaps life was always just as complex as it it now?

Whether one assumption seems more obvious to us then other does not prove much, reality has often proven to be different from what we expected.



Sand
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06 Dec 2009, 11:55 pm

Meta wrote:
One could question the basic assumptions: Did life have a beginning?

Perhaps life has always existed? Maybe the universe isn't a closed system? Perhaps life was always just as complex as it it now?

Whether one assumption seems more obvious to us then other does not prove much, reality has often proven to be different from what we expected.


That's a theory with no way to falsify it. Since precursors to present animal populations exist it seems reasonable to assume a process exists to cause changes to current forms. DNA seems to be pretty universal on Earth life and relationships between current forms seem valid. Why deny it?



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06 Dec 2009, 11:59 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Quote:
The observation of evolution does not tell us how (the actual process) occurred. E.g. cars and computers evolve as well. So evidence of evolution is not evidence of any particular process, therefor all hypotheses are about process.

Umm..... ok? That's why there have been multiple theories. Darwin's idea won partially because a mechanism was found.
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (hmo) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.

This does not mean that there is no variation-selection process. It is. Just that this process is way more limited then what is needed to explain all observations. The proposed mechanism of variation-selection is just not powerful enough.

A that is a huge problem for some because they don't have any (for them acceptable) alternatives. Others are not that limited by their convictions or philosophies and can see some very obvious alternatives.



Last edited by Meta on 07 Dec 2009, 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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07 Dec 2009, 12:14 am

Sand wrote:
Meta wrote:
One could question the basic assumptions: Did life have a beginning?
Perhaps life has always existed? Maybe the universe isn't a closed system? Perhaps life was always just as complex as it it now?
Whether one assumption seems more obvious to us then other does not prove much, reality has often proven to be different from what we expected.

That's a theory with no way to falsify it.
That might be true, but no everyone finds falsifiability all that important? Some value consistency with available evidence more.

Sand wrote:
Since precursors to present animal populations exist it seems reasonable to assume a process exists to cause changes to current forms. DNA seems to be pretty universal on Earth life and relationships between current forms seem valid. Why deny it?
No one is denying that there is a relationship. The nature of this relationship is what is put in question.



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07 Dec 2009, 12:16 am

Meta wrote:
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (hmo) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.

The theory of evolution is not considered questionable within the scientific community.

Quote:
A that is a huge problem for some because they don't have any (for them acceptable) alternatives. Others are not that limited by and can see some very obvious alternatives.

I am going to have to ask if those alternatives are scientifically valid alternatives, as I don't see the distinction you are drawing as scientific theories are scientific theories for all scientists.



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07 Dec 2009, 12:24 am

Meta wrote:
Sand wrote:
Meta wrote:
One could question the basic assumptions: Did life have a beginning?
Perhaps life has always existed? Maybe the universe isn't a closed system? Perhaps life was always just as complex as it it now?
Whether one assumption seems more obvious to us then other does not prove much, reality has often proven to be different from what we expected.

That's a theory with no way to falsify it.
That might be true, but no everyone finds falsifiability all that important? Some value consistency with available evidence more.

Sand wrote:
Since precursors to present animal populations exist it seems reasonable to assume a process exists to cause changes to current forms. DNA seems to be pretty universal on Earth life and relationships between current forms seem valid. Why deny it?
No one is denying that there is a relationship. The nature of this relationship is what is put in question.


The argument that something always existed is merely a cop out to the effect that you don't want to think about it.

What is the nature of the relationship you so vaguely put forth?



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07 Dec 2009, 12:24 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Meta wrote:
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (hmo) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.
The theory of evolution is not considered questionable within the scientific community.
Which is often the case when older theories which where well establish became obsolete. It often takes a few generations before the scientific community has the chance to adjust accordingly. Historically the opinion if the scientific community has often been wrong. In the end, science is about the evidence not about the popularity of an opinion. Popularity may in the short run obstruct progress but in the long run science will prevail.



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07 Dec 2009, 12:35 am

Meta wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Meta wrote:
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (hmo) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.
The theory of evolution is not considered questionable within the scientific community.
Which is often the case when older theories which where well establish became obsolete. It often takes a few generations before the scientific community has the chance to adjust accordingly. Historically the opinion if the scientific community has often been wrong. In the end, science is about the evidence not about the popularity of an opinion. Popularity may in the short run obstruct progress but in the long run science will prevail.


"Maybe not " is not a scientific argument and merely a license to fantasize.



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07 Dec 2009, 12:49 am

Sand wrote:
"Maybe not " is not a scientific argument and merely a license to fantasize.
The same can be said of "maybe".

A theory that is based on a "if pig could fly" hypotheses is less then useless. The variation-selection mechanism does not work the way it should. The pigs do in fact not fly. Where does that leave the theory then?

Don't agree? Demonstrate that a variation-selection process can result in a functional system which has a hmo.

Every theory is an approximation and every theory is wrong even if we haven't discovered yet in which way it is wrong. This is the nature of scientific progress: To prove theories wrong. This is the only certainty: All science is wrong, but it's less wrong then it was yesterday.

Further more. If you are unable to see quite obvious alternatives then this might be an indication of closed minded stagnation. Instead of following the evidence you may have become convinced with a certainty which science just can't provide.



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07 Dec 2009, 1:22 am

Meta wrote:
Sand wrote:
"Maybe not " is not a scientific argument and merely a license to fantasize.
The same can be said of "maybe".

A theory that is based on a "if pig could fly" hypotheses is less then useless. The variation-selection mechanism does not work the way it should. The pigs do in fact not fly. Where does that leave the theory then?

Don't agree? Demonstrate that a variation-selection process can result in a functional system which has a hmo.

Every theory is an approximation and every theory is wrong even if we haven't discovered yet in which way it is wrong. This is the nature of scientific progress: To prove theories wrong. This is the only certainty: All science is wrong, but it's less wrong then it was yesterday.

Further more. If you are unable to see quite obvious alternatives then this might be an indication of closed minded stagnation. Instead of following the evidence you may have become convinced with a certainty which science just can't provide.


Are you proposing that pigs should fly? I don't get your point.
What's an "hmo"?
To declare all theories wrong absolutely means you know something others don't. I doubt that. Evidence is required.
To declare me unimaginative with no offering of plausible alternatives seems to me a bit overbearing.