Everyone read the Pennock article in Synthese

| 69 Comments

Like RBH said, the new special issue of Synthese is free for the moment. I would like to highlight one article in particular, Robert Pennock’s:

Robert T. Pennock (2009, 2011). Can’t philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited. Synthese 178(2), 177-206. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9547-3

Pennock reviews the debate over “demarcation” in philosophy of science, particularly what happened after the 1981 McLean v. Arkansas case. After that case, a fairly famous philosopher of science, Larry Laudan, criticized the court, and one of the experts who testified, Michael Ruse, for (allegedly) relying on naive and long-discredited attempts to “demarcate” science from pseudoscience and from religion. Laudan basically claimed that Ruse/McLean boiled down to Popperian falsificationism, that Popperian falsificationism was hopelessly wrong, and that the verdict and its supporters were guilty of philosophical crimes for even daring to make a distinction between science and pseudoscience, or between science and religion. Or something.

Laudan’s critique, but not the most effective contemporary response to it (from Barry Gross, another philosopher who consulted for the pro-evolution side in the case) was republished in the book But Is It Science? From there it was widely used in philosophy of science classes, and, I think, unduly influenced some in the next generation of philosophers of science – at least those without a sufficiently strong innate BS detector. Those who had a BS detector would have realized the obvious point that finding absolutely perfect philosophical criteria for defining science is a hard thing, but that this point is miles from establishing that there is any major, common difficulty in distinguishing science from pseudoscience or science from religion.

Nevertheless, creationists in the 1980s and throughout the subsequent ID era slavishly, uncritically, parrotted Laudan’s argument and quote every single time McLean or the definition of science came up. They used Laudan as their final argument in cross-examination against Pennock in the Kitzmiller trial. To their surprise, Laudan’s argument, though presented at trial, had no impact on the Court, probably because Courts distinguish science from pseudoscience all the time, and claiming that such distinctions can’t be rationally made is basically idiotic.

Despite all that, several other commentators raised the issue again in criticism of Pennock after the Kitzmiller decision, naively just assuming that Pennock did exactly what Ruse had done (which he definitely, and deliberately, did not), as if “there’s no distinction between science and pseudoscience or religion” was the mainstream philosophical position, and as if it was an obviously rational thing to believe – when what it really deserves is something like the Sokal Hoax treatment.

Anyway, Pennock’s article reviews the entire history of the situation, and actually looks carefully at all of the issues, at what Laudan missed back in 1982, and at what those who uncritically cite his critique of McLean in zombie-like fashion (google Laudan intelligent design to see what I mean) have missed since then. Here’s one of the money quotes:

If Laudan’s view were indeed the norm in philosophy of science, then it is little wonder that some say philosophy is irrelevant to any matters of practical consequence. Is philosophy going to be so removed from the realities of the world that it has nothing of value to say even on topics that ostensibly are its core concerns? It would be a sad commentary on our profession if philosophers could not recognize the difference between real science and a sectarian religious view masquerading as science. When squinting philosophers like Laudan, Quinn and their imitators such as Monton and George purport that there is no way to distinguish between science and pseudoscience or religion they bring to mind Hume’s observation that “Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.” Unfortunately, in giving succor, inadvertently or not, to creation-science and now to ID, such philosophers compound the error, making the ridiculous dangerous.

(Note: Pennock’s essay was first published in the new 2009 edition of But Is It Science?, edited by Pennock & Ruse. Hopefully the new edition will be used in the next generation of philosophy of science classes.)

(HT John Pieret: Taking No Prisoners)

69 Comments

Nick,

Fair warning, there is an obnoxious concern troll polluting every thread with off topic nonsense. If it posts here and the posts are allowed to remain, they will inevitably get responses and yet another thread will be derailed. I would suggest that someone monitor this thread closely, in order to prevent another such occurrence.

Thanks for all your efforts in fighting the evil that is creationism.

Of course, a large part of the problem is the assumption by creationists that the distinction between “science” and “creationism-whatever-it-is-called” (and, by implication, the distinction between “religion” and “creationism-whatever-it-is-called”) is close enough that a court constrained by precedent and the common law needs to draw a line of demarcation in the first place. That is, the creationists assume that this is a hard case, and that therefore a court must make a definitive rule.

This is not a hard case. This is not the 1960s argument over whether I am Curious (Yellow) had sufficient “literary merit” to avoid the then-current non-definition of “obscene,” and therefore be subject to regulation of speech. Neither is this the 1980s argument over whether bankruptcy judges (appointed under Article I of the Constitution) have the constitutional authority to hear all “cases and controversies” reserved to judges appointed under Article III of the Constitution. In both instances — at least under the doctrine prevailing at the time of the decisions — the questions were so close that it was necessary to draw the exact line first, then evaluate the evidence, for a common-law court to reach a defensible result.

In this instance, though, creationism-whatever-it-is-called is so far from scientific methodology (and so intertwined with religious doctrine) that a common-law court does not need to know exactly where the line between “science” and “not science” is to make a decision, either regarding a particular implementation of creationism-whatever-it-is-called or in general. And under the rubric of the common law, and more particularly under the oft-misused (and even-more-often misunderstood) “advisory opinions doctrine,” if the court does not need to draw a particular line, or create a rule of general applicability, it shouldn’t. Miranda, Brown, Roe, and other “big” cases that announced sweeping, prophylactic, bright-line rules resulted only because incremental change, case by case, had been willfully undermined by non-judicial officials… who had been given plenty of chances to do the “right thing” legislatively and administratively before the courts intervened to create broader rules.

Finally, the “science/not-science” distinction is not the important one, at least at a Constitutional level. Nothing in the Constitution requires the teaching of science in the schools. Instead, the critical distinction for Constitutional purposes is “religious doctrine/not-religious doctrine”… and understanding that makes it clear that the “science/not-science” argument is largely the magician’s assistant at work.

Dear Troll – I will ban you if you appear. Cheers, Nick

Others – let me know what the troll looks like so that I may smite him. Thanks.

Nick (Matzke) said: Others – let me know what the troll looks like so that I may smite him. Thanks.

He calls himself “Kris”. He has a distinctive and extreme whiny tone.

I read the article, plus Laudan’s and the responses. Laudan’s argument always struck me as arrogant. You’ve got people doing an activity (distinguishing between science and non-science). Laudan can’t figure out how they do it. So he concludes no such distinction actually exists. Dude, maybe your failure to figure it out is just a failure to figure it out.

C.E. Petit said: Finally, the “science/not-science” distinction is not the important one, at least at a Constitutional level. Nothing in the Constitution requires the teaching of science in the schools. Instead, the critical distinction for Constitutional purposes is “religious doctrine/not-religious doctrine”… and understanding that makes it clear that the “science/not-science” argument is largely the magician’s assistant at work.

Yeah, this is the bizarre foundation of the legal argument. The practical objection to creationism is “not science”, but the legal objection ends up being “is religion”. No law against teaching bogus science.

As annoying as the “science is compatible with religion” argument is, I have to agree that the NCSE is, on the basis of fighting the legal battle, stuck with it.

The “not science” argument comes up in court only because the *creationists* use “but creationism/ID is science!” as their *defense* against the initial legal complaint, which is that creationism/ID is religion, therefore unconstitutional to teach in public schools.

If they stop claiming it’s science, we’ll stop arguing against their claim…but I won’t hold my breath…

mrg said: Yeah, this is the bizarre foundation of the legal argument. The practical objection to creationism is “not science”, but the legal objection ends up being “is religion”. No law against teaching bogus science.

My guess is it has to do with Lemon. The primary purpose and effect has to be secular, but not every purpose and effect must be. If creationists could show that the primary purpose and effect of teaching ID was not religious even though ID was a religious concept, then it would pass Lemon (IANAL so this is just IMO). For that reason, in Kitzmiller and other cases the pro-science side has sought to show that it is not science. Because if it is not science, there is no secular reason for teaching it as science and therefore any ‘residual’ religious effect must necessarily be primary.

In short, demonstrating that it is not science shuts down an entire line of argument about whether some religious aspect of it is primary or secondary.

Then read Sarkar’s article, which deals with the same topic, and (gently but firmly) rebukes Pennock.

About Barry Gross and his ‘refutation’ of Laudan. Gross unfortunately has been dead for several years, but it’s not hard to understand why his article is so little cited on this question. His opening epigraph from Leo Durocher – “Winning isn’t the most important thing; it’s everything” – and the Machiavellian realpolitik of his argument…well, let’s just say if I were an ACLU lawyer, I would stay well away from Gross’s article.

Here is how Gross poses the problem; note the emphasized passage:

In Section IV-C of the opinion, Judge Overton sets out what he takes to be the essential features of science. First, he offers a very loose definition: Science is what is accepted by the scientific community or whatever scientists do. He then adds fiver narrower criteria: (1) Science is guided by natural law; (2) Science is explanatory by reference to natural law; (3) Science is testable against the empirical world; (4) Its conclusions are tentative; and (5) It is falsifiable. Philosophically, these criteria may been acceptable sixty or eighty years ago; but they are not rigorous, they are redundant, and they take no account of many distinctions nor of historical cases. The opinion does not state whether they are singly necessary or jointly sufficient. One would not recommend to graduate school a student who could do no better than this. Fortunately, Judge Overton and the litigators were not applying to graduate school. They were in a court of law. In this forum, confronted with Creationism and religious “know-nothing-ism” as adversaries, are these criteria so far off the mark? Do they not represent what a thoughtful intelligent layman, looking at what scientists do and at how science has evolved, might conclude? Are they not sufficient to refute Creationism?

Or, in simpler terms:

1. The Mclean definition of science is bullshit.

2. But it’s bullshit that yields the legal result we want. So it’ll do.

Is this what was behind Dembski’s incredibly damaging admission on the stand at Dover that he couldn’t distinguish between astrology and ID, that he thought Laudan made that position tenable?

Nick (Matzke) said: If they stop claiming it’s science, we’ll stop arguing against their claim…but I won’t hold my breath…

Well, that’s the fundamental untruth of creationism. If they say they don’t buy evolution – that’s a true statement, foolish of course, but not a falsehood.

Now saying that SCIENCE agrees with that position … well, that’s where the falsehoods begin, it’s like saying Mexicans speak French.

Or, in simpler terms:

1. The Mclean definition of science is bullshit.

2. But it’s bullshit that yields the legal result we want. So it’ll do.

Paul, you’re being dumb. That’s not what Barry Gross said. Lack of perfect definition Does Not Equal bullshit definition. Perfection is not required in law or in anything else involving science. Roughly decent approximation = good enough.

As Pennock said, you can’t make perfection the enemy of the good.

Yes, indeed, read Sarkar’s article.

… the most credible philosophical argument against ID being treated as science is to point out the absence of any positive specification of its fundamental concepts … in the absence of such a specification, ID cannot be a substantive theory, scientific or not. In the case of intelligence, there is no positive specification at all. In the case of design, there is no coherent specification.

Can we expect the creationis to call Sarkar as an expert in the next trial?

Is this what was behind Dembski’s incredibly damaging admission on the stand at Dover that he couldn’t distinguish between astrology and ID, that he thought Laudan made that position tenable?

This was Behe not Dembski (Dembski was going to testify but backed out just before his sworn deposition), and the astrology discussion wasn’t directly about Laudan (which came up with Pennock), although obviously the pseudoscience issue came up again and again.

Helena Constantine said:

Is this what was behind Dembski’s incredibly damaging admission on the stand at Dover that he couldn’t distinguish between astrology and ID, that he thought Laudan made that position tenable?

Just to add to what Nick said, Behe didn’t rely on Laudan. Behe said he thought the current definition of science needed to be broadened. Under-cross examination he admitted that if it was broadened the way he wanted it to be, astrology would count.

Laudan doesn’t think the definition of science needs to be broadened. On the contrary, (I’m paraphrasing here) he’s taking issue with the claim that there is a real definition at all.

Roughly decent approximation = good enough.

These O rings should work under most circumstances. Don’t worry about temperature shifts, it never gets that cold at launch sites in Florida.

TomS, you’ll note that Sarkar says ID could become a science; it’s just not there yet. On Pennock’s view, however, ID in principle cannot be “science.” This is a deep disagreement, and one predicated (in part) on Sarkar’s rejection of Pennock’s demarcationist program.

So, yes, I’d be happy to call Sarkar as a witness, although I don’t think courtrooms are where these issues should be debated.

Paul Nelson said: [snip] Or, in simpler terms:

1. The Mclean definition of science is bullshit.

2. But it’s bullshit that yields the legal result we want. So it’ll do.

Which, as I pointed out, does not matter. This isn’t just a red herring, but a barrel full of red herrings. If either of the following holds true, then the validity (or otherwise) of any particular definition of “science” is entirely irrelevant to the teaching of creationism-whatever-it-is-called in the public schools: (1) The overriding purpose is religious in origin and/or effect (the direct, Establishment Clause argument); or (2) The primary, or arguably primary, effect is to create an appearance of government entanglement with or endorsement of religious doctrine (the Lemon test).

Bluntly, Mr Nelson, as the teaching of creationism-whatever-it-is-called fails both of those inquiries — and fails them spectacularly — we need never reach your preferred argument about determining the proper methodology for counting the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. Presuming, of course, that angels exist in the first place; and that there is no distinction between first and proximate cause; and that there is no distinction between necessary and sufficient; and that there is no history of religious bigotry in this nation, even within so-called Christianity (Barnette and Gobitis, anyone?).

Oh, I give up. Mr Nelson’s rhetoric and willful misreading of the relevant materials (whether relevant means “what a scholar would consider” or “cited in the argument”) demonstrate that his mind is made up and he does not wish to be confused by either facts or objections to what passes for a method of reasoning… particularly relating to the rather bizarre world of legal reasoning.

Paul Nelson said:

TomS, you’ll note that Sarkar says ID could become a science; it’s just not there yet.

Well, yeah, in roughly the same way that an email I get from somebody from Nigeria offering me a real deal MIGHT be legit …

Paul Nelson said:

Roughly decent approximation = good enough.

These O rings should work under most circumstances. Don’t worry about temperature shifts, it never gets that cold at launch sites in Florida. [snip]

As an aircraft maintenance officer at the time of that particular incident, I should note that a number of us in the maintenance operations center for an entirely different airframe began speculating about O-rings as a potential cause within seconds of the explosion. We were all familiar with the problem of seals for liquified-gas containers, and how weather can make “ordinary” safety margins nonexistent.

The problem was never with the science. It was with the economics, and scientific/engineering decisions were ultimately made for the shuttle’s design by non-scientists/engineers using non-scientific/engineering criterea: Instead, the decision was based on the anticipated cost and delay of finding something that would work better. Perhaps this is a more-revealing-than-creationists-might-wish example of a deeper understanding of the decision process exposing that science is not what is at issue…

mrg said:

Paul Nelson said:

TomS, you’ll note that Sarkar says ID could become a science; it’s just not there yet.

Well, yeah, in roughly the same way that an email I get from somebody from Nigeria offering me a real deal MIGHT be legit …

I was thinking of a different example; ID can become science the way 10 Downing street went from three old buildings to one modern one: you gut the whole interior while maintaining the facade.

***

Since Paul Nelson brought up Challenger, I don’t think we should let it go without quoting Feynman’s famous conclusion about that incident:

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

Really Paul? You’re going to use “…Nature cannot be fooled” to try and support ID? What successful technologies has it produced?

C.E. Petit said:

Paul Nelson said:

Roughly decent approximation = good enough.

These O rings should work under most circumstances. Don’t worry about temperature shifts, it never gets that cold at launch sites in Florida. [snip]

As an aircraft maintenance officer at the time of that particular incident, I should note that a number of us in the maintenance operations center for an entirely different airframe began speculating about O-rings as a potential cause within seconds of the explosion. We were all familiar with the problem of seals for liquified-gas containers, and how weather can make “ordinary” safety margins nonexistent.

The problem was never with the science. It was with the economics, and scientific/engineering decisions were ultimately made for the shuttle’s design by non-scientists/engineers using non-scientific/engineering criterea: Instead, the decision was based on the anticipated cost and delay of finding something that would work better. Perhaps this is a more-revealing-than-creationists-might-wish example of a deeper understanding of the decision process exposing that science is not what is at issue…

But of course, this is irrelevant, C.E. Mr. Nelson present a strawman by analogy - the degree of accuracy for the margin of error required for O rings is not even in the same solar system as the degree of accuracy required for the margin of error of what might be considered science. Nelson is merely trying to establish a general principle of dividing lines, but the fact is some divisions need to be more accurate than others. That he chose an example that actually wasn’t based on the analogy he was going for is just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

So, yes, I’d be happy to call Sarkar as a witness, although I don’t think courtrooms are where these issues should be debated.

So why did you write a textbook aimed at the public schools (Explore Evolution), and defend another one (Of Pandas and People)?

I’d be happy to call Sarkar as a witness too. He would not affirm that the distinction between science and pseudoscience or between science and religion is meaningless, and he would not affirm that creationism/ID is science, either.

Sarkar does not cite or address Pennock’s 2009/2011 argument explicitly. Sarkar sayeth what I and Pennock sayeth:

That there is a distinction between science and non-science is not in question. No one can reasonably confuse Heidegger’s Being and Time or Kripke’s Naming and Necessity with any competent scientific paper: the distinction is as clear as that between night and day.What is at stake is whether we can adjudicate the boundary between science and non-science so clearly that claims near this boundary are neatly put into one category or the other. The analogy with night and day is again appropriate: evenings blend into nights, dawns into day.

Just because you can’t absolutely precisely demarcate night from day doesn’t mean they aren’t different. With regard to IC/creationism, it’s not even close to the border of science.

What a surprise that Paul Nelson remains a hypocritical pile of dissembling shxt.

We have a troll wandering around here claiming to be notable creationists, which suggests that said person may not actually be Paul Nelson. Not that it makes the slightest difference whether he is or not.

mrg said:

We have a troll wandering around here claiming to be notable creationists, which suggests that said person may not actually be Paul Nelson. Not that it makes the slightest difference whether he is or not.

You mean I haven’t really been giving “Michael Behe” a piece of my mind for the imagine assassination he’s brought to my alma mater, Lehigh University?

Now I’m sad.

I have generally had the impression over the years since the 1970s that this science/not-science demarcation issue was straining at gnats.

Since Morris, Gish , and the other creationists started taunting scientists into debates and spreading misconceptions about science – evolution in particular – there has always been an extremely evident set of misconceptions and socio/political tactics that place these people solidly in the non-science and nonsense side of the ledger.

Gish’s silly drawings of impossible creatures, Morris’s fabricated conflict between evolution and thermodynamics, and the arguing in the press and in churches all point to charlatans attempting to puff themselves into prominence on the backs of legitimate scientists.

I distinctly recall the conversations with colleagues about how absolutely stupid that stuff was at the time; and then grossly underestimating the political nastiness of the tactics as well as the public naiveté about science.

I think that many of us who were not biologists looked at it as the biologists’ problem. We were wrong to do that. And the pressures of research and the demands by institutions on their research people precluded most other scientists from getting involved. Public outreach was not sufficiently valued then and is not sufficiently valued now.

Had such outreach been expected of scientists, the ludicrousness of “scientific” creationism and its spin-off, intelligent design, could very well have been made obvious much earlier.

Some of us caught on too late. It was never a demarcation issue from the very beginning; it was brutal power politics. They were smart at it and we were stupid.

1) As C. E. Petit points out, government favoritism of religion is illegal; therefore the fact that religious creationism also is not science never need come up, in cases of direct attempts to teach illegal creationism.

2) Of course, creationists also want to conflate science with religion in order to try to ban science from public schools. I first became aware of political creationism due to the Kansas School board fiasco of 1999. Although no formal “science is a religion too” strategy was attempted, the core effort was to exclude religion-offending but fundamental science from the curriculum.

Although IANAL, I felt at the time that a less direct but pretty clear First Amendment violation was in place. All Kansas students were to be deprived of fundamental, routinely expected aspects of the high school curriculum, in order that the public school system show favoritism to the specific cult dogma that was offended by fundamental science.

At any rate, disputing asinine claims the science cannot be distinguished from other academic fields may be relevant to thwarting future efforts to unduly censor science curricula.

3) There is nothing in the constitution that says you have to teach science. In fact, there is nothing in the constitution that says you have to have public schools. Nor does the constitution make any mention of the fact that it is a good idea to stop your car when the light turns red.

But there is a strong public interest served by having good science education.

The Kansas debacle was resolved at the ballot box, when the creationists, who had campaigned deceptively to gain election, were thrown out by the public at the very next opportunity.

I have generally had the impression over the years since the 1970s that this science/not-science demarcation issue was straining at gnats.

If anything you’re being too generous.

I just wanted to supplement my above comment.

It’s ludicrous, asinine, and absurd to say that there is a systemic difficulty in differentiating science from religion or other things that are not science.

Any “philosophy” that attempts to make such a transparently wrong claim is silly. Insincerity and/or lack of ability should immediately be suspected if such a silly claim is advanced.

I dunno about other threads, but I’m pretty sure that was actually Paul Nelson, quoting someone like Gross or Sarkar who is actually clearly saying A and then giving it a wildly implausible spin to say Z is pretty diagnostic.

Kaushik said:

Kris said: Hmm, in depth, eh? How about this?

it seems likely

is on the order of a year or less, and somewhat higher for

Thus, as a first approximation, the results suggest

on the order of

the results of all three methods are fairly similar qualitatively, although f can differ by as much as 15% among methods.

The average coalescence time is estimated to be 119f 25 million years for the whole phylogeny and 80f 27 for mammals. Both estimates are about 40 million years greater than those derived from the protein-coding genes.

With significant baseline heterozygosity, relative divergences cannot be definitively ascribed to differences in rates of substitution.

the data strongly suggest

is exceptionally high

is about half of the expectation and it is about one-quarter of the expectation

there appears to have been negligible divergence

Although low relative rates

these all involve relatively short

are much more sensitive to errors

Similar results were obtained

exhibit very low or negligible rates

contrary to the assumption made in most other attempts to calibrate molecular clocks

Such an assumption does not appear to be warranted

the data suggest

In principle

are often substantially

could lead to a false impression

are almost always higher

in the absence of data

it is equally plausible

appears to correct adequately

new species tended to undergo

Errors in the placement of the nodes in the phylogenetic tree could also lead to systematic errors in the estimates

based on the estimated coalescence times

to be underestimated by about 100 million years, and by about 50 million years in the case of mammals alone

At least in the latter case, this seems rather unlikely.

is expected for the simple reason

in essentially every species that has been surveyed

practical consequence of this result

will tend to overestimate the time of the event if the event is fairly recent (say within 100-200 million years).

My most charitable interpretation of what you wrote is that you compiled a comprehensive post and some of the content inexplicably got replaced with newline characters

On the other hand if your idea of ‘in-depth analysis’ consists of copy pasting random phrases from the paper… a webpage with a background of tiled Picard facepalms couldn’t express its dumbness

Well, you’re free to read the papers yourself and see how many wishy washy statements, assumptions, estimates, and guesses were made, and how they influenced the results, margins of error, noise, etc.

Kris said:

Kaushik said (in response to Kris’s compilation of modifiers that disclose authors’ assumptions and allow readers to make a judgment about the precision and reliability of published results):

My most charitable interpretation of what you wrote is that you compiled a comprehensive post and some of the content inexplicably got replaced with newline characters

On the other hand if your idea of ‘in-depth analysis’ consists of copy pasting random phrases from the paper… a webpage with a background of tiled Picard facepalms couldn’t express its dumbness

Well, you’re free to read the papers yourself and see how many wishy washy statements, assumptions, estimates, and guesses were made, and how they influenced the results, margins of error, noise, etc.

This clinches it for me. Absent evidence to the contrary, your statements above indicate that you are not a working scientist engaged in the actual publication of his work.

What’s with all this word salad?

Kris the pathological troll said:

Hmm, in depth, eh? How about this?

it seems likely

is on the order of a year or less, and somewhat higher for

Thus, as a first approximation, the results suggest

on the order of

the results of all three methods are fairly similar qualitatively, although f can differ by as much as 15% among methods.

The average coalescence time is estimated to be 119f 25 million years for the whole phylogeny and 80f 27 for mammals. Both estimates are about 40 million years greater than those derived from the protein-coding genes.

With significant baseline heterozygosity, relative divergences cannot be definitively ascribed to differences in rates of substitution.

the data strongly suggest

is exceptionally high

is about half of the expectation and it is about one-quarter of the expectation

there appears to have been negligible divergence

Although low relative rates

these all involve relatively short

are much more sensitive to errors

Similar results were obtained

exhibit very low or negligible rates

contrary to the assumption made in most other attempts to calibrate molecular clocks

Such an assumption does not appear to be warranted

the data suggest

In principle

are often substantially

could lead to a false impression

are almost always higher

in the absence of data

it is equally plausible

appears to correct adequately

new species tended to undergo

Errors in the placement of the nodes in the phylogenetic tree could also lead to systematic errors in the estimates

based on the estimated coalescence times

to be underestimated by about 100 million years, and by about 50 million years in the case of mammals alone

At least in the latter case, this seems rather unlikely.

is expected for the simple reason

in essentially every species that has been surveyed

practical consequence of this result

will tend to overestimate the time of the event if the event is fairly recent (say within 100-200 million years).

Need I say more??

Kris said:

Hmm, in depth, eh? How about this?

it seems likely

[cut out other quotes and my own post]

Well, you’re free to read the papers yourself and see how many wishy washy statements, assumptions, estimates, and guesses were made, and how they influenced the results, margins of error, noise, etc.

the full quote from the paper:

If paralogous and orthologous genes are intermingled, the mean and variance will increase because the divergence time of paralogous proteins corresponds to the time of gene duplication rather than to the time of speciation. It seems likely that the particular history of the globin genes may account for the large variances and discrepancies obtained for them.

the authors are stating that the globin genes have undrgone a large number of duplications(and are hence called ‘paralogous’) after the liniages being compared diverged giving multiple varients that diverge at diffrent rates.

They even give references to support this claim

Higher vertebrates possess α- and β-globin gene families, each with several members. Numerous duplications have occurred that become entangled through a “birth-and-death” process, by which a gene in one species but not in others is lost and replaced by a paralogous one within the same genome (37–39)

Ohita T , Nei M (1994) Mol Biol Evol 11:469–482 Nei M , Gu X , Sitnikova T (1997) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Koonin E V , Mushegian A R (1996) Curr Opin Genet Dev 6:757–762

yet you just copy paste the three words and claim this represents a ‘wishy washy’ statement. which part of the claim do you disagree with? that these genes have undergone duplication? or that duplcattion results in more variaton?

Dale Husband said:

What’s with all this word salad?

What our friend seems to have done is look up the papers DS suggested he read and pull out all the qualifiers and language indicating assumptions, estimates, etc. in attempt to make the authors seem “wishy washy”.

This is, of course, from the guy who was earlier taking people to task for making categorical and/or unqualified assertions.

SWT said:

Dale Husband said:

What’s with all this word salad?

What our friend seems to have done is look up the papers DS suggested he read and pull out all the qualifiers and language indicating assumptions, estimates, etc. in attempt to make the authors seem “wishy washy”.

This is, of course, from the guy who was earlier taking people to task for making categorical and/or unqualified assertions.

This may be where he learned the tactic.

Check out the section on “Developing a Method of Study.”

No matter how much these ID/creationists attempt to cloak themselves, they can’t get rid of the smell.

Kris said:

Well, you’re free to read the papers yourself and see how many wishy washy statements, assumptions, estimates, and guesses were made, and how they influenced the results, margins of error, noise, etc.

Welcome to the realities of a complicated, messy world. I suppose you think knowledge comes to us on gold tablets, absolute, perfect and unchanging.

SWT said:

What our friend seems to have done is look up the papers DS suggested he read and pull out all the qualifiers and language indicating assumptions, estimates, etc. in attempt to make the authors seem “wishy washy”.

I wonder how much hard data he had to drive past on his mission to collect qualifiers.

Truly, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

You’re exactly like the people you hate and condemn, although I doubt that many of them, if any, are as hateful, angry, obsessed, self-righteous, arrogant, hypocritical, and insane as you and many others are here.

The projection thing is fascinating. Can anyone deny that Kris has just described the tone of his own posts almost perfectly? Remember, what set him off was a completely neutral description of creationist behavior that I wrote.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on December 17, 2010 11:00 AM.

Synthese issue on “Evolution and its rivals” was the previous entry in this blog.

Behe’s blinders: My rough 2 cents on Behe’s paper is the next entry in this blog.

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