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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Evolution: It's Only a Theory, But One Worth Teaching

A very good read : Evolution: It's Only a Theory, But One Worth Teaching.

The theory of gravitation is a powerful explanation of how objects interact in space-time. Its heritage goes back to Kepler’s description of planetary motion based upon Brahe’s observational data. It’s funny how no one argues that gravity is "only a theory," yet many dismiss evolution as "only a theory."
...
At a fundamental level, popular English and scientific usage are at odds here. In popular culture, a "theory" is understood to be a guess or speculation that may or may not be based upon evidence and analysis. In science, a theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
and also makes the point: Selective breeding in agriculture generated our crops and domestic animals over thousands of years; agriculture is evolution in action.. Are you dog breeder or a farmer? You use the "fact" of evolution as part of your lifes, and this "theory" was used before DNA was known about.

And a couple of weeks back NYT sunday mag had this piece : Unintelligent Design, which inculde as few good points :
But if we can't infer anything about the design from the designer, maybe we can go the other way. What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre. Some nonfunctional oddities, like the peacock's tail or the human male's nipples, might be attributed to a sense of whimsy on the part of the designer. Others just seem grossly inefficient. In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

It things like this that make me reach for those Textbook Disclaimer Stickers

Category:Evolution


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