Jump to content

Welcome to Geeks to Go - Register now for FREE

Geeks To Go is a helpful hub, where thousands of volunteer geeks quickly serve friendly answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts. Register now to gain access to all of our features, it's FREE and only takes one minute. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more.

Create Account How it Works
Photo

I wonder why humans have the need to advance ourselves?


  • Please log in to reply

#31
hfcg

hfcg

    The hippie freak computer geek

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,496 posts

Like your avatar.

This is realy my cat.
We have two cats but I lam very fond of this one.
She can be very nice to every one except my mother in law, who she hisses at and trys to bite and scratch. :)
  • 0

Advertisements


#32
emeraldnzl

emeraldnzl

    GeekU Instructor

  • GeekU Moderator
  • 20,051 posts
Sounds like a cat with a stong view of the world.

Incredible creatures cats we had two siamese for many years.

Seemed like they were able to talk to us.

Unfortunately they both died within a month of each other last year.

I read somewhere that cats have lived with humans for thousands of years.

Probably we progress together...humans and cats. :)
  • 0

#33
CompooterDummy

CompooterDummy

    Troll

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
Speaking of evolution... In following this thread I've started to wonder if our society might be in the middle of an etymological evolution with the word "belief". This thread has inspired me to pay much closer attention to the usage of the word "belief" when I read mass media as of late. It would appear that more and more people are starting to believe that the word belief applies specifically to "unproven/untested", or even "invalid" ideas that people like to hold dear despite contrary evidence. But, just for the record, though the word may sometimes carry those connotations, the denotation of the word does not. Merriam-Webster Collegiate, 11th edition:

1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2: something believed ; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

Notice belief does not forgo the examination of evidence, but instead is held ESPECIALLY when based on examined evidence.

Also, usage notes in Websters under the word "opinion", when distinguishing words similar to "opinion", make clear that the word "belief" implies "often deliberate acceptance and intellectual assent" (assent being agreement ESPECIALLY after thoughtful consideration.)

The word BELIEVE, on the other hand, even though it is akin to belief, can mean "have faith", but it doesn't have to mean "have faith".

Sorry to sound pedantic with all of that, but, I guess I'm trying to make an argument for the idea that just because someone holds a belief about something doesn't unquestionably mean that their belief isn't based on evidence or thoughtful consideration thereof. So, when trying to figure out what people mean when they say they "believe" something, it is at least polite, to distinguish whether they're referring to their "belief" or their "faith" before assuming they possess credulity.

Edited by CompooterDummy, 10 January 2009 - 01:16 AM.

  • 0

#34
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
I was speaking about belief on a philosophical level, which requires you to go past the simple dictionary definition.

Philosophically speaking, there are two types of belief. A justified true belief, which has evidence to support it, or a false belief, which has no evidence to support it. For example, one man may believe that the sky is blue. He has evidence to support that (his eyes see that it is blue), and thus it becomes a justified true belief. A synonym for justified true belief is knowledge. Many other people have the knowledge that the sky is blue. So many, in fact, that this belief has become common knowledge. Now, there might be a man who believes the sky is pink. He has never looked at the sky, but adamantly believes that if he did, it would be pink. This is an example of a false belief. There is no evidence for it, and even though it is an entirely sincere belief, it is certainly not knowledge.

You can read more here.
  • 0

#35
Troy

Troy

    Tech Staff

  • Technician
  • 8,841 posts
Looks pretty pink to me... :)

Posted Image
  • 0

#36
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
*stettybet0 loses. :)
  • 0

#37
CompooterDummy

CompooterDummy

    Troll

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

I was speaking about belief on a philosophical level, which requires you to go past the simple dictionary definition.


Actually, previous posts made this clear. The Wikipedia reference you gave doesn't really “go past” the dictionary definition on belief in any significant way. The definition at the top of that page, according to the reference, comes from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and states that belief is “a psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premis to be true.” Since that's the definition coming from a philosophy encyclopedia, I think it's safe to say that definition exists on a “philosophical level”. Because it would take quite a bit of room to split all the hairs necessary to show that this definition is pretty much embodied in the dictionary definition of the word belief and it's derivatives, I'll skip that here. But if someone seriously wants to debate that I'll be happy to participate.

I'll parse the entire sentence above later for the meaning it tends to communicate, but, for now, I'd like to address the idea that dictionary definitions are somehow simple. Quoting from the previous dictionary, page 6a, “...the information given is based on the collection of 15,700,000 citations ... These citations show words used in a wide range of printed sources, and the collection is constantly being augmented through the efforts of the editorial staff.” Notice these aren't dictionary citations but rather citations of words in actual usage collected from a broad array of printed material. While a dictionary entry perhaps could perhaps be said to simplify the description of a given word as much as possible, there really is nothing simple about a dictionary definition or how it is derived. Again, those definitions are derived from actual usage in a variety of situations.

As for parsing that quote, if it had stopped at the comma, I would have felt pressure to consider that perhaps you were trying to communicate the idea of balance with the word level. But the way in which the words “past” and “simple” are placed within the phraseology tends to communicate more the idea that level is being used here to indicate a difference in altitude. In this case, we're told we need to accept that one is, as you put it, required to rise “past” the mere supposed authority of a simple (lowly) dictionary and accept that the “lofty” (formal) discipline of philosophy has a higher authority over what belief means. The idea that no one other than epistemologist could possibly have a (legitimate) grasp of what belief (really) means seems a bit snooty to me.

As for the qualified form of belief called “justified true belief”, the Wikipedia page you referenced states this definition is a tradition taken from Plato and later epistemologists (a specialized form of philosopher) have questioned it, and that, indeed, some philosophers have questioned whether “belief” is at all a useful notion. So, even the field of philosophy hasn't agreed on the be-all-end-all of that one.
  • 0

#38
CompooterDummy

CompooterDummy

    Troll

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

For example, one man may believe that the sky is blue. He has evidence to support that (his eyes see that it is blue), and thus it becomes a justified true belief.


The use of the word “is” here, is in the indicative form. That means it's stating the existence of something as an objective fact, in this case, the idea that the sky is, in fact, objectively blue. I'm using the word “objective” here to mean “Independent of individual thought and perceptible by ALL (not MOST) observers : having reality independent of the mind”. The perception of color is, in more ways that I have space to cover here, very subjective. On the up side, at least an example that most people would agree with was chosen but, quite arguably, the reason they would agree is not because the sky is objectively blue, but because the function of sight in MOST people would interpret it as blue. Interpretation is subjective. There are those who only see gray skies in the most literal of ways. Remember, the definition of objective included perceptible by ALL. But, let's consider that unfair and exempt the color blind. The fact is the perception of color relies on the existence of some process to remove some wavelengths from the visible color spectrum. Note the process doesn't remove the wavelengths from existence in the object being viewed, but from the eye doing the viewing – the visible spectrum. Using the example of the sky, all the other colors of the spectrum are up there, a part of the sky, and we typically cannot see them using only our sense of sight. So, if all those other colors are, in fact, in the sky, can we really say that the sky is OBJECTIVELY blue? Or is it more accurate that we SUBJECTIVELY perceive it as blue because the blue spectrum tends to scatter far more when it hits the atmosphere thus masking the presence of the other colors from our sight? Of course that's more accurate. Therefore your hypothetical man's evidence is faulty and his belief is neither justified nor true by the most objective information available to us. The sky, quite reasonably, is in fact, NOT blue.

Now, there might be a man who believes the sky is pink. He has never looked at the sky, but adamantly believes that if he did, it would be pink.


Assuming that this man adamantly believes that the sky is (generally/usually/always) pink, I can think of only one condition in which this man could exist with fair probability in the real world today. This man is either blind or has been imprisoned away from the outside world since birth, or shortly thereafter, and is the victim of abuse. If this man's insistence that the sky is pink is truly unshakable (adamant) then someone in whom he has placed trust has convinced him beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is indeed (generally/usually/always) is pink, and that trust has therefore been abused. I would therefore think that a very bad example to posit should one be wanting a metaphor for the average real world. Outside of that specific condition, I was going to point out that this man, under certain conditions wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but I see someone has far more effectively posted that argument for me.
  • 0

#39
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
Funny how you apologized for your last post being pedantic, but not this one...

Alright, how about this:

A man believes that on a cloudless summer day at noon in an empty field in rural Iowa, a man with typical human vision (defined as his brain interpreting the spectrum of light as the majority of humans do) could look up at the sky, and his brain would interpret the sky as being colored some shade of blue (barring, of course, him looking at the sun).

Another man believes that the same Iowan (?) man under the same conditions would have his brain interpret the sky as being colored some shade of pink.

Again, that was just to satisfy your seemingly insatiable thirst (metaphoric thirst) for precise and accurate detail. It wasn't my intent to be 100% accurate in my phrasing, but rather to convey my message using an example of common knowledge. I'd like to think this message can be understood just as it was originally presented by the majority who read it. I'm sure you can find fault even in this one (for example, what if the Iowan man thinks up is down and looks down at the ground...), but again, hypotheticals and extreme meticulousness are not the point of what I'm saying.

Speaking of my point, your last paragraph shows that you've missed it entirely. You've taken my metaphor for a literal metaphor of everyday life. (But then, that wouldn't be a metaphor, would it?) You say that the metaphor is a poor one since one would not usually think of the sky as pink. But that was exactly my point. I chose a baseless and somewhat bizarre belief to emphasize how I believe that the disbelief in evolution is similarly baseless and bizarre (justifiably so, I might add, considering the evidence for evolution). You say that one would only think that the sky is pink if his trust was abused by a trusted figure (barring mental or physical ailment). To add on to this, let's take the metaphor one step further. Let's say that the man who believes the sky to be pink was told so by his trusted father. The father told the son that if he truly trusted him, the son should never look at the sky to determine for himself, but just to believe the father blindly (so to speak). This is metaphoric of the fact that some people do not believe in evolution simply because they are told by a respected figure or text (religious or otherwise) that it is not true, and don't bother to investigate for themselves (or to even consider the investigation of scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the issue).

And yes, I do believe that belief can be more fully understood by looking at it as a mental state rather than a just a word.
  • 0

#40
CompooterDummy

CompooterDummy

    Troll

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Funny how you apologized for your last post being pedantic, but not this one...


I apologized for SOUNDING pedantic, not BEING pedantic. Contrary to the accusation that appears to have been hurled my way, I'm not just being NIT-PICKY, here. I meant “sounding” in the sense of “conveying an impression”, which addresses what others might hear, not what I intended to deliver. The apology was, in fact, a bit of pleading that anyone reading would try to understand that my intent wasn't just to be tedious. I figured if readers could at least entertain that idea, they might bother to carefully consider what I had said even if it required a little more trouble than the average read. Unless someone cares to accuse me of being disingenuous, I think that point was clear. I actually have a very good reason for taking the ideas in your post apart brick-by-brick. I believe that reason will become clear soon enough. Some pieces are positioned on the board in anticipation of the next move.

Can you really say this:

You've taken my metaphor for a literal metaphor of everyday life.


and then turn around and say this:

This is metaphoric of the fact that some people do not believe in evolution simply because they are told by a respected figure or text (religious or otherwise) that it is not true"

Sounds like I stand accused of accusing you of doing something that you later confessed to doing.

By the way, the reason I cautioned the use of drawing that similarity is because it accuses those "respected figures" you mentioned, OF ABUSE. That accusation was a bit more blatant in your last post.

In fact, quite frankly, you're using some pretty strong imagery and language (baseless, bizarre, abusers) to describe a rather significant portion of the population. Therefore, it seems high time to justify your position which, if I understand it correctly is this: The facts scientists have gathered from the natural world support the theory of evolution to the extent that evolution can no longer be validly questioned as an actual natural phenomena. Correct me if I'm wrong about your position. And, please, present your facts and show us all how they support your position. If your goal was really ever to be there for those looking on who might have an open mind and be willing to learn, those people needed to hear the facts in support the theory of evolution and not some talk about how they're somehow freaks (bizarre) for not agreeing with a position you've never bothered to adequately justify.

And yes, I do believe that belief can be more fully understood by looking at it as a mental state rather than a just a word.


That looks deliberately obtuse.
  • 0

Advertisements


#41
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
I'll admit that my sentence, "You've taken my metaphor for a literal metaphor of everyday life.", did not accurately convey what I was trying to say. So let me rephrase that.

You claimed that my metaphor of a man believing the sky was pink was a "very bad example" because it was unlikely that a person would actually believe that. My point was that it is not a requisite for a metaphor to be realistic. For example, the sentence, "His face was stone.", qualifies as a metaphor meaning the man was expressionless. It is very unlikely that you will ever encounter a man whose face is made out of stone in the real world. However, that does not take away from the meaning of the metaphor.

I'd appreciate if you wouldn't put words into my mouth. I never called anyone a freak or an abuser (though I did say that you mentioned abuse).

If you honestly don't know my position, you need to read this topic. Everyone else seems to at least understand what my point of view is, even if they don't agree with it. However, out of the goodness of my heart, the summary of my position is:

The Theory of Evolution is supported by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. (What constitutes overwhelming? A 1999 study by Darwin Dissenters, a known anti-evolution group, showed that only 150 US biologists disagree with evolution. That's 0.0157%, and probably an overestimation, considering the bias of the group conducting the study.) Therefore, I felt it would be a disservice to the members of this forum if I didn't point out a small fallacy in the statement: "There is no such thing as evolution!", because according to science, there is such a thing.

As I said, specific facts in support of my position are throughout my posts in this topic. You are free to read them as you wish. And don't take my word for it, you should also read some of the thousands of scientific papers published on evolution. A good place to look would be Pubmed, where 60,000 articles published in 2007 mentioned evolution, and they have to do with the application of the theory, as it is a medical scientific journal. Or you could research the work of Nobel Prize winners, as 47 of the last 50 in medicine or physiology could not have done their research without evolutionary theory.

Oh, and what I wrote didn't LOOK obtuse. It looked like a collection of pixels on your computer monitor. It may have SOUNDED obtuse, though. I meant “sounded” in the sense of “conveyed an impression”, which addresses what others might hear, not what I intended to deliver. :)
  • 0

#42
CompooterDummy

CompooterDummy

    Troll

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts

Oh, and what I wrote didn't LOOK obtuse. It looked like a collection of pixels on your computer monitor. It may have SOUNDED obtuse, though. I meant “sounded” in the sense of “conveyed an impression”, which addresses what others might hear, not what I intended to deliver.


Before I assert a rather strong position on this, please understand that I'm assuming English is your native language. If that is not the case, then please forgive me, because I could then understand why you'd have no idea that the word “look” can also mean “seem”, in a way that has nothing to do with the physical sense of sight. Otherwise, this tells me that your participation in this debate is just a game that you intend to win using any method available to "score the most points". Therefore, all the lofty claims you've made in this thread were made more to caution your opponents against questioning your character (because that would just make them look bad) as a method of gaining points, than to claim that you possess any real lofty goals in asserting your position. While I don't discount that approach to debate, if that's truly the goal here, I'll just bow out now and concede you a win. I have better things to do. Otherwise,

it seems high time to justify your position which, if I understand it correctly is this: The facts scientists have gathered from the natural world support the theory of evolution to the extent that (the theory of) evolution can no longer be validly questioned as an (explanation of certain) actual natural phenomena.


Yes, I did add some words that I should not have omitted from my original statement. When proposing the parameters of a debate, I think it's kind of important to lay them down clearly and I think that statement pretty clearly lays out the position of those who support the theory of evolution. Again, correct me if I'm wrong. It's time to get down to the real business at hand instead of engaging distractions. If you are unable to do that, it seems time to concede that you are subscribing to the theory of evolution as an “ism” because, the truth is, you don't really understand it, but you choose to support it because you trust the group of people who've told you it's so, even though either (1) you haven't bothered to adequately investigate the evidence and arguments they've given you, or (2) they haven't bothered to actually give you adequate evidence and arguments.

What you've offered so far does not sufficiently constitute “facts in evidence” that support the theory of evolution. For example:

the summary of my position is:

The Theory of Evolution is supported by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. (What constitutes overwhelming? A 1999 study by Darwin Dissenters, a known anti-evolution group, showed that only 150 US biologists disagree with evolution. That's 0.0157%, and probably an overestimation, considering the bias of the group conducting the study.) Therefore, I felt it would be a disservice to the members of this forum if I didn't point out a small fallacy in the statement: "There is no such thing as evolution!", because according to science, there is such a thing.


This is the summary of your position? Because, what it says is that you're relying on the authority of a higher power, that higher power being a group of scientists. It says nothing about whether you can offer specific facts that support the theory of evolution. History is rife with examples of “experts” who supported ideas that were later shown to be false or, at the very least, proven to be unprovable. The fact that a theory holds the support of some majority does not mean that theory's veracity is beyond valid question. Might (in numbers) does not make right. The fact you give us here does not support the theory of evolution. It supports the idea that most biologists do not “disagree with evolution”, a phrase, by the way, that is too vague to argue where “the theory of evolution” is concerned. Now, I concede I've not run the numbers, but I would gamble that “the majority of the scientific community” doesn't consist of biologists. If that's the case, then using a small part of a larger community doesn't stand as a good example of your assertion. Again, I'm not just being nit-picky here. The position you appear to be taking requires an application of the rigors of science.

And don't take my word for it, you should also read some of the thousands of scientific papers published on evolution. A good place to look would be Pubmed, where 60,000 articles published in 2007 mentioned evolution, and they have to do with the application of the theory, as it is a medical scientific journal.



This sounds like a cop-out. More specifically, it sounds like: “I don't really know the specific facts that support the theory of evolution or exactly how they do so, (I deign to a higher power on that topic). However, I have taken the time to do a search through an index of scientific journals where the word evolution is mentioned in 60,000 articles in just one year. (We know nothing of whether how “evolution” is mentioned therein could actually support the theory of evolution.) So, IF YOU'D LIKE TO TAKE THE TIME to sort through all the information that is out there and figure out just exactly how these scientists claim their facts support the theory of evolution, then be my guest. I have better things to do so, I'll just take them at their word. They are, after all, the experts.” Then again, assuming that you can actually articulate a scientific argument in support of THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION, your statement sounds more like a tactic sometimes used by lawyers in the discovery process. That tactic is applied when one side demands evidentiary documents and it goes something like this: the other side, in effect, says “Fine, you want documents, we'll give you documents. In fact, we'll give you so many documents you'll never hope to see the light of day again because of the man-hours it will take you, holed up in some office sifting through documents, to find the information you really need. (We assure you, by the way, that the information is indeed there), ” In other words: “The evidence is in HERE somewhere. Good luck making sense of it all.” This tactic attempts to shift the burden of responsibility to the wrong shoulders. You're the one so adamantly proposing the theory of evolution as a fact. You bear the burden of responsibility for giving us your facts. Showing us some vast land of information in which your facts "exist somewhere" demonstrates a lack of responsibility in maintaining your position. Oh, that statement also assumes that (1) I haven't already researched the topic well enough to have a fairly good grasp of the facts proffered by those on both sides in support their position; and that (2) I haven't already taken the time to examine whether the facts either side proffer are sufficient to prop up their position. Surly we're not assuming that the very idea I could even question the side that holds the majority of scientists is evidence that I haven't “done my homework”.

I've looked through the posts several times and I see only two things that might be considered facts offered in evidence for the “support of the theory of evolution”. One is the bacteria example. That is, of course, an example that appears to meet the definition of evolution. The purpose of a definition, however, is to describe the essential nature of something. In other words, it gives the bare bones requirements. To propose that example as something “SUPPORTING the theory of evolution”, as in “a fleshed-out meaning” of the word “evolution”, would be like placing a toothpick under the corner of a leaning skyscraper in hopes of propping it up. I notice that you avoided having to confront that issue in post 16 when you basically “straw-manned” the arguments in post 15. The other proposal that I see offered as a fact in evidence for the “support of evolution” is the idea that “the fact that a new species has never been recorded appearing out of thin air means that there has never been an observation in direct contradiction of evolution.” That statement presupposes that the only fact that would qualify as a direct observation against the theory of evolution would be the fact of a new species being observed “appearing out of thin air”. You need to justify that position, not just assert it.

As far as the “pink sky” metaphor is concerned, please re-read what I wrote. I did not say the metaphor was bad just because the man who sees pink skies isn't real. What I said considered the development of the metaphor IN ITS ENTIRETY. In that case, it represents a condition that requires the existence of abuse, barring those circumstances that the posts heretofore have barred. I was able to hold, with fair probability, the suspicion that this example was intended to convey just that idea because I'm familiar with many of the arguments on both sides of the real debate here. You appear to have confirmed that your metaphor was intended to represent just exactly what I suspected. Surely it's not hard to see how the situation you proposed in post 39 illustrates an abusive situation.

Edited by CompooterDummy, 16 January 2009 - 03:53 PM.

  • 0

#43
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
My "look vs. sounded" was meant as a parody of your "being vs. sounding", in that neither quip added to the discussion.

Now, don't blame me for the following, because you asked for it...

Let's start from the top.

Evolution

Evolution is usually defined simply as changes in trait or gene frequency in a population of organisms from one generation to the next. However, "evolution" is often used to include the following additional claims:
  • Differences in trait composition between isolated populations over many generations may result in the origin of new species.
  • All living organisms alive today have descended from a common ancestor (or ancestral gene pool).
The term "evolution", especially when referred to as a "theory", is also used more broadly to incorporate processes such as natural selection and genetic drift.

Fact

Fact is often used by scientists to refer to experimental data or objective verifiable observations. "Fact" is also used in a wider sense to mean any hypothesis for which there is overwhelming evidence. A fact is hypothesis that is so firmly supported by evidence that we assume it is true, and act as if it were true.

Evolution is a fact in the sense of it being overwhelmingly validated by the evidence. Frequently evolution is said to be a fact in the same way as the Earth revolving around the Sun is a fact. The following quotation from H. J. Muller, "One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough" explains the point.

'There is no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly. Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact.'

The National Academy of Science (U.S.) makes a similar point:

'Scientists most often use the word "fact" to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence is so strong.'

Philosophers of science argue that we do not know anything with absolute certainty: even direct observations may be "theory laden" and depend on assumptions about our senses and the measuring instruments used. In this sense all facts are provisional.

Theory

Scientific theories describe the coherent framework into which observable data fit. The scientific definition of the word "theory" is different from the colloquial sense of the word. Colloquially, "theory" can mean a conjecture, an opinion, or a speculation that does not have to be based on facts or make testable predictions. In science, the meaning of theory is more rigorous: a theory must be based on observed facts and make testable predictions.

In science, a current theory is a theory that has no equally acceptable or more acceptable alternative theory, and has survived attempts at falsification. That is, there have been no observations made which contradict it to this point and, indeed, every observation ever made either supports the current theory or at least does not falsify it by contradicting it completely. A revision of the current theory, or the generation of a new theory is necessary if new observations contradict the current theory, as the current findings are in need of a new explanation (see scientific revolution or paradigm shift). However, the falsification of a theory does not falsify the facts on which the theory is based.

Evolution and Gravity

The terms "fact" and "theory" can be applied to evolution, just as they are to gravity. Misuse and misunderstanding of how those terms are applied to evolution have been used to construct arguments disputing the validity of evolution.

There have been many theories that attempt to explain the fact of gravity. That is, scientists ask what gravity is, and what causes it. They develop a model to explain gravity, a theory of gravity. Many explanations of gravity that qualify as a Theory of Gravity have been proposed over the centuries: Aristotle's, Galileo's, Newton's, and now Einstein's. Confusion of the terms can arise when we use a single word to describe both the observed facts and the theory that explains it. The word "gravity’’ can be used to refer to the observed facts (i.e., the observed attraction of masses) and the theory used to explain it (gravity is the reason why masses attract each other). Thus, gravity is both a "theory" and a "fact."

In the study of biological species, the facts include fossils and measurements of these fossils. The location of a fossil is an example of a fact (using the scientific meaning of the word fact). In species that rapidly reproduce, for example fruit flies, the process of evolutionary change has been observed in the laboratory. The observation of fruit fly populations changing character is also an example of a fact. So evolution is a fact just as the observations of gravity are a fact.

In biology, there have been many attempts to explain these observations over the years. Lamarckism, Transmutationism and Orthogenesis were all non-Darwinian theories that attempted to explain the observations of species and fossils and other evidence. However, the Theory of Evolution is the explanation for all relevant observations regarding the development of life, based on a model that explains all the available data and observations. Thus, evolution is not only a fact but also a theory, just as gravity is both a fact and a theory.

Gravity
  • Things falling is an observation of the pull of bodies towards each other.
  • Bodies pulling towards each other is called gravity.
  • Gravity is a fact.
Evolution
  • Fruit flies changing generation to generation is an observation of generational organism change.
  • Organisms changing generation to generation is called evolution.
  • Evolution is a fact.
Gravity
  • Aristotle and Galileo created explanations of the fact of gravity. These are now obsolete explanations.
  • Newton's explanation of gravity is approximately correct but required refinement.
  • Einstein's explanation is a refinement of Newton's explanation of gravity. Einstein's explanation is currently the most accepted explanation of the fact of gravity.
  • Einstein's explanation of the fact of gravity is called The General theory of relativity.
Evolution
  • Lamarckism, Transmutationism and Orthogenesis were created as explanations of the fact of evolution. These are now discredited explanations.
  • Darwin's explanation of evolution is approximately correct, but required refinement.
  • The modern evolutionary synthesis is a refinement of Darwin's explanation of evolution, which did not include genes in its explanation. This modern synthesis is currently the most accepted explanation of the fact of evolution.
  • The explanation of the fact of evolution provided by the modern synthesis is the latest and most widely accepted Theory of Evolution.
More Fact vs. Theory

The confusion between "fact" and "theory" and the use of the word "evolution" is largely due to some authors using evolution to refer to the changes that occur within species over generations and common descent, while others use the term more generally to include the mechanisms driving the change. However, among biologists at least, there seems to be consensus that evolution is a fact:
  • American zoologist and paleontologist George Simpson stated that 'Darwin...finally and definitely established evolution as a fact.'
  • H. J. Muller has written, 'If you like, then, I will grant you that in an absolute sense evolution is not a fact, or rather, that it is no more a fact than that you are hearing or reading these words.'
  • Kenneth R. Miller writes, 'evolution is as much a fact as anything we know in science.'
  • Ernst Mayr has observed 'The basic theory of evolution has been confirmed so completely that most modern biologists consider evolution simply a fact. How else except by the word evolution can we designate the sequence of faunas and floras in precisely dated geological strata? And evolutionary change is also simply a fact owing to the changes in the content of gene pools from generation to generation.'
Commonly "fact" is used to refer to the observable changes in organisms' traits over generations while the word "theory" is reserved for the mechanisms that cause these changes:
  • Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould writes, 'Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.'
  • Similarly, biologist Richard Lenski says 'Scientific understanding requires both facts and theories that can explain those facts in a coherent manner. Evolution, in this context, is both a fact and a theory. It is an incontrovertible fact that organisms have changed, or evolved, during the history of life on Earth. And biologists have identified and investigated mechanisms that can explain the major patterns of change.
Other commentators, focusing on the changes in species over generations and in some cases common ancestry have stressed that evolution is a fact to emphasize the weight of supporting evidence while denying it is helpful to use the term "theory":
  • R. C. Lewontin wrote, 'It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory.'
  • Douglas Futuyma writes in his Evolutionary Biology book 'The statement that organisms have descended with modifications from common ancestors--the historical reality of evolution--is not a theory. It is a fact, as fully as the fact of the earth's revolution about the sun.'
  • Richard Dawkins says, 'One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity’s sake, let’s stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact.'
  • Neil Campbell wrote in his 1990 biology textbook, 'Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact. The term theory is no longer appropriate except when referring to the various models that attempt to explain how life evolves... it is important to understand that the current questions about how life evolves in no way implies any disagreement over the fact of evolution.'
Predictive Power of Evolution

A central tenet in science is that a scientific theory is supposed to have predictive power, and verification of predictions are seen as an important and necessary support for the theory. The theory of evolution did provide such predictions. Three examples are:
  • Genetic information must be transmitted in a molecular way that will be almost exact but permit slight changes. Since this prediction was made, biologists have discovered the existence of DNA, which has a mutation rate of roughly 10^-9 per nucleotide per cell division; this provides just such a mechanism.
  • Some DNA sequences are shared by very different organisms. It has been predicted by the theory of evolution that the differences in such DNA sequences between two organisms should roughly resemble both the biological difference between them according to their anatomy and the time that had passed since these two organisms have separated in the course of evolution, as seen in fossil evidence. The rate of accumulating such changes should be low for some sequences, which code for critical RNA or proteins, and high for others - that code for less critical RNA or proteins; but for every specific sequence, the rate of change should be roughly constant through evolution. These results have been experimentally confirmed. Two examples are DNA sequences coding for rRNA which is highly conserved, and DNA sequences coding for fibrinopeptides (amino acid chains which are discarded during the formation of fibrin), which are highly non-conserved.
  • Prior to 2004, paleontologists had found fossils of amphibians with necks, ears, and four legs, in rock no older than 365 million years old. In rocks more than 385 million years old they could only find fish, without these amphibian characteristics. Evolutionary theory predicted that an intermediate form between these two (i.e. a "fishibian") should be found in rock dated between 365 and 385 million years ago. In 2004, an expedition to islands in the Canadian arctic searching in rocks that were 375 million years old discovered fossils of Tiktaalik (a fish with tetrapod characteristics).
Common misconceptions about evolution
  • Biological evolution does not address the origin of life; for that, see abiogenesis. The two are commonly and mistakenly conflated. Evolution describes the changes in gene frequencies that occur in populations of living organisms over time, and thus, presupposes that life already exists. Evolution likewise says nothing about cosmology, the Big Bang, or the origins of the universe, galaxy, solar system, or Earth, although the term 'evolution' in the sense of a slow unfolding is used to describe such processes, e.g. Stellar Evolution, Cosmic Evolution.
  • The word "theory" in "the theory of evolution" does not imply doubt in mainstream science regarding its validity; the words "theory" and "hypothesis" are not the same in a scientific context (see above). While "theory" in conventional usage tends to denote a "hunch" or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles which, via logical induction, explains the observations in nature. The same inductive inferences can be made to predict observations before they are made. Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the theory of gravity or the theory of relativity.
  • It is misleading to claim that evolution is completely random. Normally, the random results of genetic mutation are filtered by ontogeny, natural selection, and other non-random mechanisms. On the other hand, some evolutionary changes result from genetic drift, which is random.
  • Humans did not evolve from monkeys or from any current non-human apes. Rather, humans and other modern simians—chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, etc.—all share a common early ancestor. It is believed that humans are more closely related to modern fellow apes than to monkeys, and humans and other apes share a later common ancestor that lived around 7 million years ago in the late Miocene epoch. However, fossil discoveries of "recently" (as in, only millions of years ago) extinct species are, in the experience of paleontologists, rarely direct ancestors of living species.
  • The process of biological evolution is not necessarily slow. Millions of years are not necessarily required to see speciation (a change in characteristics of a kind of organism, typically rendering offspring infertile with the previous species). Indeed, it has been observed multiple times under both controlled laboratory conditions and in nature.
  • Speciation does not happen within a single organism: a chimpanzee cannot be born a chimpanzee and turn into a different species within its lifetime. Evolution to a new species deals with changes to the gene pool of a population, which accumulate only over generations. Nor does speciation occur on an individual basis. It is not meaningful to speak of the first member of a new species.
  • Organisms cannot pass on acquired traits to their offspring; a bodybuilder's children are not born with bigger muscles (but see epigenetics).
  • A population can evolve to become simpler with less genetic information, and have a smaller genome—often called "devolution", but that is a misnomer.
  • The theory of evolution does posit "transitional forms", but not "endpoint forms". That is, every animal, plant, fossil that exists, is an example of a transitional form. Evolution is a continuous process that has no "goal" per se.
  • The claim that "almost all mutations are harmful" is false. In fact, most mutations have no noticeable effect, mainly because most mutations do not occur within coding or regulatory regions of the genome. One study gives the average number of mutations that arise in a human conception to be around 128, with an average number of harmful mutations per conception of 1.3. However, most mutations that have an effect on phenotype are indeed detrimental to the organism.
  • The claim that evolution makes no meaningful predictions is not true—for example the discovery of the relationship between chromosome 2 and chimpanzee chromosomes at the end of the completion of the human and chimp genome projects was predicted, and makes meaningful sense as evidence of a common ancestor.
  • The characterization of evolution as the "survival of the fittest" (in the sense of "only the fittest organisms will prevail", a view common in social Darwinism) is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution. Any organism which is capable of reproducing itself before dying is considered "fit". If the organism is able to do so on an ongoing basis, it will survive as a species. A more accurate characterization of evolution would be "survival of the fit enough".

Hopefully that's enough for you.

As for the "pink sky", again, you're the one using the word "abuse". What if the trusted figure who told the other man that the sky was pink sincerely believed that the sky was pink himself. He would not be abusing that trust, but simply passing on what he thought was best for the man to know. I think this more accurately parallels to the situations of those who don't believe in evolution.

Now, for the sake of you and I, and everyone else on this forum, and the internet itself (wouldn't want to clog it), let's please keep the replies shorter from now on.
  • 0

#44
hfcg

hfcg

    The hippie freak computer geek

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,496 posts
All this blustering may help to confuse some one, but evolution still has not been proven. It is still just a theory no matter how much hype is thrown at the issue!
Tell me, how is it that the earth does not stray from its path as it orbits the sun? The orbit is not a circle so it can not be gravity, why dont we burn up or freeze? What force is keeping the earth on a path that will keep earths temputure from falling or rising for lo these many years?
  • 0

#45
stettybet0

stettybet0

    Trusted Tech

  • Technician
  • 2,579 posts
hfcg, a large section of my post was dedicated to explaining what the "Theory" part of "Theory of Evolution" actually meant. What you posted about evolution clearly shows that you did not read (or at least, did not understand) what I posted.

As for your query about the earth's orbit (which I cannot see the relevancy of), gravity is the main force making the Earth orbit the Sun. The fact that the Earth's orbit is not a circle does not mean that gravity doesn't play a role. I'm not rotating around my chair in a circle right now, but gravity is still attracting me to it (and it to me). The fact that the Earth's orbit is not a circle is due to the fact that we exist in three dimensions, not two. The Earth's orbit is an ellipse. The fact that it is not a perfect ellipse (which is what I think you were trying to say) is due to the fact that the Sun's gravity isn't the only force acting on the Earth. Gravity from other interstellar bodies, the Earth's tilt, and other forces all contribute to the Earth's orbit being chaotic. (See Chaos Theory.) However, compared to a human's lifetime, the orbit is relatively stable. Only over several million years do the orbits of the planets show signs of chaos. Most projections show the solar system will be stable for at least a few billion more years, so I wouldn't worry about burning up or freezing anytime soon due to the Earth's orbit (though you may want to worry about burning up as a result of global warming. Freezing too, is another possible effect of global warming, because once enough freshwater contained in glaciers has melted into the oceans, it could disrupt the ocean currents, sending the planet into another ice age.).
  • 0






Similar Topics

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

As Featured On:

Microsoft Yahoo BBC MSN PC Magazine Washington Post HP