Saturday, March 17, 2007

Questions....

1. Is Methodological naturalism (MN) an essential commitment for scientific progress?
2. Is MN falsifiable? Could MN be false? How would we know?
3. Is the origin of life without intelligence reasonable without a prior commitment to MN? Is it acceptable scientifically to think that the origin of life requires an intelligent agent?
4. Is MN significantly different from philosophical naturalism? Are MN and consistent Theism compatible?

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31 Comments:

Blogger Hawks said...

1. Yes, by definition.
2. a)No. b)Yes. c)We probably wouldn't.
3. a)Yes. b)It would be if you could state a testable hypothesis.
4. a)For performing scientific work, no. b)Depends on what you mean by consistent theism.

4:58 am  
Blogger John said...

Andrew,
To answer only your first question (for now) obviously not, because of serendipity. To depend on serendipity would be foolish but so would attempting to rule it out.

Historically speaking, faith-seeks-understanding has had a longer history than methodological naturalism could yet have. There was progress during the reign of faith-seeks-understanding and, despite the caricatures of superstition and laziness, its model of scientific method is probably more fecund of progress even to this day, than is straightforward methodological naturalism. By that I mean that a 'scientist' as a seeker after truth is more strongly motivated by the belief that the truth is there to be discovered than she is by believing that correct method will produce results.

For there to be scientific progress apart from serendipity there does need to be a commitment to the proposition that 'there is a natural explanation for this.' The faith seeks understanding programme is not, in spite of caricatures and misunderstandings, opposed to this proposition but the proposition is, nevertheless, more obviously associated with methodological naturalism.

To classify this proposition as methodological 'naturalism' is unnecessary but probably a faît accomplé which will require endless tiresome explanations of why it is different from philosophical or metaphysical naturalism and why faith seeks understanding programme is not at odds with seeking natural explanations. Moreover both secularists and anti-secularists will assume a greater link between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism than with naturalism proper as 'the study of nature' for example so the overt statement of an adherence to methodological naturalism will probably be seen, at least for a considerable time to come, as a smokescreen for philosophical naturalism.

For this reason also a faith-seeks-understanding scientist would probably be naive to think that he should simply declare a commitment to methodological naturalism and expect not to be thought of as a fraud.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

1. Is Methodological naturalism (MN) an essential commitment for scientific progress?

You can dispense with the gobbledygook by realizing that THE GENERATION OF NEW DATA is the most relevant metric for scientific progress, and the ID movement hasn't and isn't going to be generating any, particularly in the form of new data from tests of ID hypotheses.

The ID movement is afraid to generate and test hypotheses about mechanisms of design. Going on about methodological naturalism isn't going to fool anyone other than the ones that have already been fooled.

6:30 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

The following is a quote from an article by Howard Taylor. For full article see: http://www.apologetics.fsnet.co.uk/id.htm

"There is such a thing as faith without evidence. Physical science examines physical things therefore it could never show that non-physical things don’t exist. It has been very successful in examining physical things (however mysteries about the physical world get greater not less with the advance of science). It could hold the lesser view that the physical world is entirely self contained. However it could never reach that view unless it had reached a theory of everything (TOE). Not only has it not reached that point but, as noted, mysteries about the physical world’s behaviour increase (not decrease) the further physical science advances. Some have claimed that Gödel’s incompleteness theorem shows that, in principle, a TOE can never be reached. Yet in spite of all this many people continue to hold to naturalism – the belief that only physical things exist - or that non-physical realities are not needed to explain the physical world. However successful physical science has been in explaining some of the physical world, it does not follow that the physical is everything in nature or creation.

This is a faith without evidence – so this kind of blind faith does exist after all!"

I would also reccomend looking at his article on 'Why Naturalism must fail' which is found at:
http://www.apologetics.fsnet.co.uk/naturalism.htm

The answer to the first question is clearly no.

8:26 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Gee, Antony, if the answer to the first question is so clearly "no," why don't you offer some examples of the progress of science in the absence of data?

And why is it that you often get so many of science's most basic explanations for the physical world so completely wrong?

8:38 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

Smokey said: " Gee, Antony, if the answer to the first question is so clearly "no," why don't you offer some examples of the progress of science in the absence of data?"


Obviously data is neccessary for the advancement of science...that is not the issue addressed by the first question. It asks if Methodological Naturalism is an ESSENTIAL commitment for scientific progress. If you say yes then you must say that Newton, Maxwell, Faraday - to name a few - did not do anything to progress science.

10:48 pm  
Blogger Hawks said...

anthony latham said:"It asks if Methodological Naturalism is an ESSENTIAL commitment for scientific progress. If you say yes then you must say that Newton, Maxwell, Faraday - to name a few - did not do anything to progress science."

I think some confusion has entered here, regarding the difference between description and explanation. Sure, you can describe an observation without using methodological naturalism (MN), but when you try to explain a set of observations you will need MN to make scientific progress.

1:29 am  
Blogger Smokey said...

hawks,

You are correct, but your point is moot wrt Antony, as he routinely fabricates the observations anyway.

5:58 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Smokey,
"he routinely fabricates the observations anyway"

What is your evidence for this routine fabrication of observations?

6:52 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Smokey/hawks,

Would you say that Darwin was a consistent MN?

6:54 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Andrew asked:

"What is your evidence for this routine fabrication of observations?

From comments here:

"The phylogenetic trees which Darwinists proclaim are based on variations in amino acid sequences for the non-functioning (usually external) parts of the molecules."

"We have established (at last) that cytochrome c does indeed have a core group of amino acids which constitutes an active ESSENTIAL and totally unchanging part which is in every organism ever looked at."

"...THEY [the 37 conserved residues] HAD TO BE organised randomly at each step before natural selection could work."


From his book:
"...the problems seem insoluble on a PURELY RANDOM materialistic basis."

"To keep this in perspective we also need to realise that we share 60% of our genome with the humble banana"


"Would you say that Darwin was a consistent MN?"

I'd say it doesn't matter. It's all a smokescreen to mask the fear of producing new data.

Did you do Tony's homework assignment yet?

9:08 pm  
Blogger Hawks said...

Andrew wrote: Would you say that Darwin was a consistent MN?

Does it matter? Have you got any examples of Darwin proposing hypotheses that were not MN? Did these advance science?

3:24 am  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

Hawks said:
"I think some confusion has entered here, regarding the difference between description and explanation. Sure, you can describe an observation without using methodological naturalism (MN), but when you try to explain a set of observations you will need MN to make scientific progress."

Newton, Maxwell and Faraday all did their science with a conscious desire to explore what they saw as God's handiwork. This was not just making observations; it was a combination of observing, collecting (Smokey's) data, and (because they were all geniuses) able to make more sense of the data. They saw the laws and equations which they discovered as absolutely a part of God's creation and were in a sense 'thinking God's thoughts after Him'. They and others were indeed motivated to a large extent by the realisation that the universe has a wonderful,elegant and beautiful order and structure - which speaks of God. Einstein said: "The only thing incomprehensible about the universe is that it is comprehensible." I think it is interesting that it is physicists, more than biologists, who see more of a trancendence in nature - perhaps worth discussing here.

Methodological Naturalism however, though it does not prohibit scientific progress,seems a pale shadow compared to the outlook that these scientists had.

7:26 am  
Blogger John said...

Andrew,
I'm finding it necessary to reword and split your third question in order to get a meaningful answer together. So first: Q. 'Without a prior commitment to methodological naturalism, would it seem reasonable to postulate that life could originate without a designing intelligence?' Ans. Yes, but not life as we know it. It is not wrong to say that as we have increased our knowledge of the complexity of life it has somewhat increased the commitment needed to fiducial proportion. Darwin could and did operate as a theistic methodician but a consistent neo-Darwinist needs to believe in naturalism in order to continue to deny design.

The comparison is even greater because Darwin's denial of design was aimed at doctrines of plenitude and perfection that are not at all part of the arguments for design that are currently being presented. If methodological naturalism isn't just philosophical naturalism then it needs to held as something less than an article of faith.

As a tool methodological naturalism is actually quite useful but as an article of faith it becomes dangerous even to the point of endangering the pursuit of knowledge. One thing that has been exposed by the intelligent design programme is a resistance to accept the possibility that nature is different in any way from what we think. It is puzzling that philosophical naturalists who think of themselves as being intelligent (exclusively so, even 'bright') must insist that the 'intelligent' in intelligent design must be supernatural but when the same thing is insisted on in the name of methodological naturalism it is even more puzzling. Why not just admit the validity of the questions?

The second part of question 3 hinges on rather circular arguments about the meaning of 'scientifically.' It will in my opinion be a mistake for secularists/naturalists to continue to defend their position on semantic grounds alone.

1:39 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

john wrote:
"...a consistent neo-Darwinist needs to believe in naturalism in order to continue to deny design."

We're not denying anything, and we don't worship Darwin. The problem with you Paleyists is that you are afraid to examine evidence, and more importantly, generate new evidence, the only true measure of scientific progress.

"The comparison is even greater because Darwin's denial of design..."

Darwin published data that were consistent with a hypothesis of selection acting on variation.

The ID movement is afraid to test its own hypotheses.

Do you see a difference, john?

"One thing that has been exposed by the intelligent design programme is a resistance to accept the possibility that nature is different in any way from what we think."

That's laughable. ID is all about elevating first impressions above any evidence.

"It is puzzling that philosophical naturalists who think of themselves as being intelligent (exclusively so, even 'bright') must insist that the 'intelligent' in intelligent design must be supernatural..."

I don't. I merely insist that it be intelligent, or those using the label are lying.

"It will in my opinion be a mistake for secularists/naturalists to continue to defend their position on semantic grounds alone."

We use data and generate new data. You don't, except when you cherry-pick.

4:12 pm  
Blogger John said...

Smokey,
My apologies for giving the impression that I'm a 'Paleyist', although I suppose that label might be used by you to cover a multitude of scientific postures that you disagree with.

I'm also puzzled as to why you seem to think that your argument about ID not testing an hypothesis negates mine about Darwin not needing to hold onto MN as an article of faith in the way that neo-Darwinists need to. I can see why you'd want to say that the evidence doesn't require an act of faith from neo-Darwinist but you haven't taken the opportunity to say that.

Ok, if, for the sake of argument, we accept your premiss that 'ID is all about elevating first impressions above any evidence.' How does that make it impossible that the existence of ID has shown up a resistance, not to the supernatural, which would be understandable, but to an extension of our understanding of the natural.

Again, you assume that I'm something rather than something else. What if your data compiling argument doesn't apply to me?

4:53 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

john wrote:
"My apologies for giving the impression that I'm a 'Paleyist', although I suppose that label might be used by you to cover a multitude of scientific postures that you disagree with."

I use it because you employed the rancid sophistry inherent in the term "Darwinist."

"I'm also puzzled as to why you seem to think that your argument about ID not testing an hypothesis negates mine about Darwin not needing to hold onto MN as an article of faith in the way that neo-Darwinists need to."

Because all the pseudophilosophical blather is just a smokescreen for not addressing ALL the evidence and never producing ANY new evidence. For example, did Andrew and Antony do Tony's undergraduate-level homework assignment yet? It involves grappling with freely-available evidence that ID proponents routinely distort and/or ignore.

"I can see why you'd want to say that the evidence doesn't require an act of faith from neo-Darwinist but you haven't taken the opportunity to say that."

That's nice. What does the abject failure to test an ID hypothesis say about the faith of ID proponents?

"Ok, if, for the sake of argument, we accept your premiss that 'ID is all about elevating first impressions above any evidence.' How does that make it impossible that the existence of ID has shown up a resistance, not to the supernatural, which would be understandable, but to an extension of our understanding of the natural."

The only resistance it reveals is to those who cherry-pick existing evidence to a ludicrous extent while never producing any new evidence; this itself is conclusive evidence of a ubiquitous lack of faith among ID proponents.

"Again, you assume that I'm something rather than something else. What if your data compiling argument doesn't apply to me?"

Then I'd be wrong. Hypotheses are tools that we real scientists use to approach the truth. It's rarely a disaster when one of my hypotheses is wrong, and it still usually generates new data.

Does the following quote stir anything within you?

Like a series of tributaries! Emilio thought, and felt once more the visceral thrill of trying to disprove a hypothesis he knew was robust.
Mary Doria Russell, Children of God

5:44 pm  
Blogger John said...

Smokey,
Once again you've got me on the back foot. I had no idea that 'Darwinist' had become synonymous with 'rancid sophistry.' It really puts me in difficulties as to how to answer Andrew's questions since I seem to be left with no term to describe scholars who see the denial of design as a necessary corollary of evolution. This is a pity but I apologise for calling you a rude word (I had no idea) and would ask in return that you don't jump to conclusions about what I believe or don't believe about design.

I'd be quite encouraged about your failure to attack the substance (and I do hear your knee-jerk question: 'What substance?', hear me out) of what I have tried to say. It is usually the resort of someone who has no argument to resort to ad hominemity and to beating the drum about some other issue but in your case, I'm sure that you have other arguments but are having too much fun bashing IDers to deploy them.

Oh well, it would have been interesting to know where I was going wrong in my perception of methodological naturalism rather than just to find out that you, as an individual, take it for granted that I haven't paid my dues and haven't done my barnacles.

10:09 pm  
Blogger Hawks said...

anthony,

Sure, these guys had some religiously based motivation. But would F=ma be any different if you followed MN as opposed to ID?

10:33 pm  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

Hawks said: "Sure, these guys had some religiously based motivation. But would F=ma be any different if you followed MN as opposed to ID?"

No it would not. I merely state that the answer to question 1 must be no. It is not ESSENTIAL to have a commitment to MN. Those scientists prove it.

10:01 am  
Blogger Antony Latham said...

The first part of question 2 asks "Is Mn falsifiable?"

I will try to explain why I believe it is falsifiable. This does not mean that it has been falsified, just that it could be falsified. In fact to stand as a theory or philosophy then it should be open to falsification (as Popper insisted).

The question really is whether it is a valid pursuit to look for design in nature. If it is valid to do so then MN is potentially falsifiable. This leads us to ask whether other scientic disciplines look for design, and can we apply this to nature? The other disciplines which do look for design are many and include archaeology, forensic science and SETI. SETI scientists are searching for radio signals from space which have the hallmarks of design - an example would be the first 100 prime numbers in sequence. This is a valid scientific pursuit. Likewise an archaeologist looks at an artefact and decides whether it is a random object such as a weathered stone, or a designed one with evidence of an intelligence. Dembski describes the clearly designed object as having 'Specified complexity' - The designed artefact is no more likely or more complex, but it has specified attributes (such as letters or drawings) which are recognisable as only possible from a designer. ID is merely another way of doing the same thing but with systems we find in nature - (e.g. the fine tuning of the universe or the information in DNA).

This is not to say ID has succeeded in demonstrating an intelligence behind nature (that is up to IDers to show us) but it is crazy to say that it is not a valid pursuit to look for evidence of intelligence. Dawkins and others insist that ID is not science and attempt to rubbish even the thought of trying to do ID research. At the same time he writes pages and pages in his books trying to show scientifically that nature is not designed - he in fact is doing ID in reverse and tries to have it both ways. He uses science to try to disprove design while refusing anyone's right to argue scientifically against his views. This is actually quite a sinister form of thought control - noone is allowed to think unless you follow the party line.

10:39 am  
Blogger Smokey said...

john wrote:
"Smokey,
Once again you've got me on the back foot. I had no idea that 'Darwinist' had become synonymous with 'rancid sophistry.'"

Well, just answer these questions:
1) Is "Mendelist" synonymous with "geneticist"?
2) Is "Einsteinist" synonymous with "physicist"?

Besides, "Darwinist" is merely a subset of your rancid sophistry, as I'm sure that you have other examples of equally rancid sophistry to offer in lieu of evidence, as you did in your first post.

"It really puts me in difficulties as to how to answer Andrew's questions since I seem to be left with no term to describe scholars who see the denial of design as a necessary corollary of evolution."

As I pointed out before, we aren't denying anything as a necessary corollary of evolution. We are going with the evidence, as well as predicting and finding new evidence to test our predictions, something that your camp lives in mortal fear of doing.

We're not the ones in denial.

"This is a pity but I apologise for calling you a rude word (I had no idea) and would ask in return that you don't jump to conclusions about what I believe or don't believe about design."

Accepted. Now's the time to speak up, unless the most obvious conclusions are true, of course.

"I'd be quite encouraged about your failure to attack the substance (and I do hear your knee-jerk question: 'What substance?', hear me out) of what I have tried to say. It is usually the resort of someone who has no argument to resort to ad hominemity..."

You mean your use of the label "Darwinist"? I don't see how my pointing out a ubiquitous fear of producing new evidence from testing one's hypotheses constitutes an ad hominem argument. If you refer to your first post, you didn't produce a smidgen of evidence.

"...and to beating the drum about some other issue but in your case, I'm sure that you have other arguments but are having too much fun bashing IDers to deploy them."

What's the matter with pointing out the lack of faith?

"Oh well, it would have been interesting to know where I was going wrong in my perception of methodological naturalism rather than just to find out that you, as an individual, take it for granted that I haven't paid my dues and haven't done my barnacles."

Your perception of methodological naturalism is irrelevant. It's your contempt for the evidence, and more importantly, your perception of what will happen if you endeavour to produce new evidence from testing any design hypotheses that are relevant.

If I'm wrong about your position, perhaps you'd like to take on Tony's homework assignment.

5:26 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Antony wrote:
"The question really is whether it is a valid pursuit to look for design in nature."

No, that's not the question. The question is why no one on the ID side thinks that it is valid enough to pursue this by producing any new data.

You're not pursuing anything scientifically by writing essays and spinning the tiny amounts of data from the pursuits of others that you can cherry-pick.

"This leads us to ask whether other scientic disciplines look for design, and can we apply this to nature?"

Indeed we can! But NO ONE is applying this to nature.

"The other disciplines which do look for design are many and include archaeology, forensic science and SETI."

Yes, yes, and no. Archaeology and forensic science ask questions about the identity, mechanisms, and timing of designers and designs. Since no one in the ID camp is asking such questions, your analogy is a fraud.

"Likewise an archaeologist looks at an artefact and decides whether it is a random object such as a weathered stone, or a designed one with evidence of an intelligence."

THEN the archaeologist asks,
1) Who designed it?
2) How was it designed?
3) When was it designed?

Since no one in the ID camp is addressing these questions about nature, your analogy is a fraud.

"This is not to say ID has succeeded in demonstrating an intelligence behind nature (that is up to IDers to show us) but it is crazy to say that it is not a valid pursuit to look for evidence of intelligence."

No one is saying that. The bottom line is that ID proponents produce ZERO new evidence from testing of ID hypotheses. They clearly have ZERO faith that they will produce any.

"Dawkins and others insist that ID is not science and attempt to rubbish even the thought of trying to do ID research."

Wrong. ID is not science because it fails to inspire its proponents to test any ID hypotheses.

"He uses science to try to disprove design..."

Then show an example of this. The bottom line is that you lack the integrity and/or faith to spend any of your own precious time testing an ID hypothesis, Antony. Instead, you lie about existing evidence.

5:46 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Smokey,
"It's all a smokescreen to mask the fear of producing new data"

This is simply not true Smokey.
I am not afraid of data- I am afraid of interpreting the data wrongly.
If a commitment to ID necessarily results in a fear of new data production then it is difficult to see why there are any ID scientists who are committed to the production of new data.

"Did you do Tony's homework assignment yet? "

Not yet... but it is still on my 'to do' list... as is writing some comments on the other paper you sent me and responding to your comments on the first paper.

5:51 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Andrew wrote:
"This is simply not true Smokey.
I am not afraid of data- I am afraid of interpreting the data wrongly."

Interesting! Please define "wrong" in this context. Why should there be any fear on your part?

Haven't you already confidently interpreted the limited data that you have examined to mean that virtually all practicing biologists have one of the fundamentals of biology completely wrong?

"If a commitment to ID necessarily results in a fear of new data production..."

I'm not claiming that it necessarily does. If ID proponents are sincere and have faith, that should generate eagerness to produce new data from tests of ID hypotheses.

ID proponents should be changing careers in droves. In fact, the opposite happens.

"... then it is difficult to see why there are any ID scientists who are committed to the production of new data."

The observation is that there are no new data from tests of ID hypotheses, but reams of essays, blogs, and apologetics.

A hypothesis that explains those observations is that ID proponents have no real faith that their ID hypotheses can stand up to testing.

How would you suggest that one could test such a hypothesis?

7:45 pm  
Blogger John said...

Smokey,
You said, 'Your perception of methodological naturalism is irrelevant. It's your contempt for the evidence, and more importantly, your perception of what will happen if you endeavour to produce new evidence from testing any design hypotheses that are relevant.'

I have to say, 'There you go again.' What are the data that quantifies 'my' contempt for evidence?' Ok, I'll try and work it out:

• I used the term 'D…ist.' Once again I apologise. I meant no disrespect. Any ad hominemity was unintentional.

• I assumed that there were scholars who thought denial of design to be a corollary of evolution. (I'm sure there used to be.)

• It will be assumed that if I'm not against ID then I'm fully convinced by it. (So I continue to show my contempt for the evidence by insisting that you react to my (admittedly feeble) argument as it stands rather than to what you read into it.)

• I produced no evidence for serendipity, for faith-seeks-understanding 'science' in the years before MN, for the comparative novelty of MN, for there being truth to be found being a greater motivation than love of method, that the progress of science requires a commitment to the proposition that 'there is a natural explanation for this.' that equating that proposition with MN is probably a faît accomplé and that this equation will probably require endless tiresome explanations. This is true, I didn't.

What is my 'perception of what will happen if [I] endeavour to produce new evidence from testing any design hypotheses?'

In this case I'd better tell you what my perception is because, although I can pick up some clues as to what you imagine my contempt for evidence to be like from your posts (and I have to agree that, if these things be contempt then I have shown contempt.) I can perceive not a glimmer from your posts that you could possibly be privy to my perception of what would happen in such an unlikely circumstance.

My perception is that I would fail to produce a very elegant experiment, my data collection would require more time than it was worth and the method would leave something to be desired. I would not publish anything on time and, to cap it all, I would receive no funding to do the work in the first place. As a collector of biological or geological data, I would be pretty much unemployable, I'm afraid and that purely down to my native inabilities rather than any prejudice against what I'm perceived to believe. That is my perception of what would happen if 'I' endeavoured 'to produce new evidence from testing any design hypotheses.'

So, thank you for exposing my 'contempt' for the evidence although I don't think you really meant my personal contempt, did you? And thank you for confusing me with some other guys you might have sparred with in the past, my apologies for not being them and for not having a relevant perception of methodological naturalism.

I'm sorry I overlooked the hwk. assignment. Is there the possibility of finding out what it is?

9:38 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Smokey,
I said:"I am afraid of interpreting the data wrongly."

You said:"Interesting! Please define "wrong" in this context. Why should there be any fear on your part? "

Wrong as in... the incorrect interpretation- the wrong understanding of the data.

Why should there be any fear... well I think that the answer to this has huge issues hanging on it.
Maybe fear was the wrong word... I don't want to get this wrong because for me it is bound up with lots of important issues. I suspect that this may be true for all of us.
You said:
"The ID movement is afraid to generate and test hypotheses about mechanisms of design."
I said:
"If a commitment to ID necessarily results in a fear of new data production..."
You said:
I'm not claiming that it necessarily does. If ID proponents are sincere and have faith, that should generate eagerness to produce new data from tests of ID hypotheses.

I think that there is some evidence that there is an eagerness to produce new data from ID related hypotheses.

I think that there is excellent evidence historically that ID type thinking has been a strong motivator to experimentation.

You said:
"The observation is that there are no new data from tests of ID hypotheses, but reams of essays, blogs, and apologetics."

An interpretation of this could be that many non-scientists are particularly interested in this area of science and consider it important. Presumably you are not arguing here that there is no new data from scientists who are part of the ID movement. You mean that there is no clear data that has been produced which supports an ID inference.

I am interested in how easy/difficult it is to make new proteins from scratch. How large is the functional area compared to the non functional area in the whole of the possible sequence space. If we knew the answer to this would there be a proportion which would favour ID/RMNS explanation?

Are there shapes in the 3D [sequence possibilities ploted against function] terrain which favour an ID/RMNS interpretation of protein origin?

One other thought that occurred to me was this...how much of the Origin of Species is the presentation of brand new data? Would you consider the Origin a crucial scientific breakthrough? Was it dependent on a particular series of experiments and a huge set of new data or was it mainly about how we look at existing data?

9:43 pm  
Blogger Smokey said...

Andrew wrote:
"Wrong as in... the incorrect interpretation- the wrong understanding of the data."

Why worry? Incorrect interpretations would lead you to construct hypotheses that would be falsified when you tested them. You're really missing the point that the journey is the fun part, which is what I tried to convey with the Russell quote above. Did you notice that john ignored my request to comment on it? Would you mind commenting on it?

"Why should there be any fear... well I think that the answer to this has huge issues hanging on it."

Why do you think that one interprets the data, comes up with an answer, and then we're all done? Can you even begin to realize how perverted this sounds to a working scientist? Every successful experiment or observation suggests 10 more questions!

"Maybe fear was the wrong word... I don't want to get this wrong because for me it is bound up with lots of important issues. I suspect that this may be true for all of us."

But science is self-correcting. Again, you are simply rejecting science.

Smokey: I'm not claiming that it necessarily does. If ID proponents are sincere and have faith, that should generate eagerness to produce new data from tests of ID hypotheses.

"I think that there is some evidence that there is an eagerness to produce new data from ID related hypotheses."

I don't see the slightest hint of any eagerness. Would you mind pointing me to the evidence you think exists, with particular emphasis on clearly stating the hypotheses to be tested ("related" is insufficient)?

"I think that there is excellent evidence historically that ID type thinking has been a strong motivator to experimentation."

I don't. All the evidence points to the converse; don't think I didn't notice your clever little side-step from "ID hypotheses" to "ID type thinking."

The bar is set at testing an ID hypothesis, not vague "ID type thinking."

Smokey:
"The observation is that there are no new data from tests of ID hypotheses, but reams of essays, blogs, and apologetics."


"An interpretation of this could be that many non-scientists are particularly interested in this area of science and consider it important."

Sorry, but you are utterly wrong. The imbalance holds for the few people in the ID camp who have credentials and/or publications in the primary literature, too.

For example, I have 32 publications. Would you mind taking a guess at the number of those that contain no new data? Try to overcome your fear, Andrew--wise people learn by making mistakes.

"Presumably you are not arguing here that there is no new data from scientists who are part of the ID movement."

Please put down the goalpost. I am arguing that there are no new data from ANYONE, FROM AN ID HYPOTHESIS. That obviously includes scientists.

"You mean that there is no clear data that has been produced which supports an ID inference."

No, I mean that there are no data that have been produced by testing an ID hypothesis. Real scientists are eager to put their own hypotheses to the test. Frauds are afraid.

Of course, there are a lot of data, including some of mine, that could have come from tests of ID hypotheses. That wasn't the goal of us who produce such data, which are ignored by dishonest ID proponents.

You also should note that many hypotheses and assumptions are falsely presented as facts in ID apologetics--Antony being a perfect example.

"I am interested in how easy/difficult it is to make new proteins from scratch."

Why? What on Earth for? How often would evolution have had to produce new proteins from scratch? In what way is this an ID hypothesis?

"How large is the functional area compared to the non functional area in the whole of the possible sequence space."

There's a simple answer to your question available in the literature. Would you like me to guide you to it? What is your hypothesis? You can test it from your chair!

"If we knew the answer to this would there be a proportion which would favour ID/RMNS explanation?"

We do, and there is. You're leaving out evolutionary mechanisms beyond Darwin, though.

"Are there shapes in the 3D [sequence possibilities ploted against function] terrain which favour an ID/RMNS interpretation of protein origin?"

What's your hypothesis and the predictions that flow from it? Even false ones are useful as tools. Hint: it's easier to plot possible sequences against structure instead of function.

"One other thought that occurred to me was this...how much of the Origin of Species is the presentation of brand new data?"

A lot. Have you read it?

"Would you consider the Origin a crucial scientific breakthrough?"

Yes.

"Was it dependent on a particular series of experiments and a huge set of new data or was it mainly about how we look at existing data?"

It added a large amount of new observations. Predictably, you're ignoring the predictions in it. How come?

Would Einstein have become famous if he had made no predictions? What if he had made them but no one had tested them?

How would you describe this from Darwin?
I must now say a few words on what are called accidental means, but which more properly should be called occasional means of distribution. I shall here confine myself to plants. In botanical works, this or that plant is often stated to be ill adapted for wide dissemination; but the greater or less facilities for transport across the sea may be said to be almost wholly unknown. Until I tried, with Mr. Berkeley's aid, a few experiments, it was not even known how far seeds could resist the injurious action of sea-water. To my surprise I found that out of eighty-seven kinds, sixty- four germinated after an immersion of twenty-eight days, and a few survived an immersion of 137 days. It deserves notice that certain orders were far more injured than others: nine Leguminosae were tried, and, with one exception, they resisted the salt-water badly; seven species of the allied orders, Hydrophyllaceae and Polemoniaceae, were all killed by a month's immersion. For convenience sake I chiefly tried small seeds without the capsules or fruit; and as all of these sank in a few days, they could not have been floated across wide spaces of the sea, whether or not they were injured by salt water. Afterwards I tried some larger fruits, capsules, etc., and some of these floated for a long time. It is well known what a difference there is in the buoyancy of green and seasoned timber; and it occurred to me that floods would often wash into the sea dried plants or branches with seed-capsules or fruit attached to them. Hence I was led to dry the stems and branches of ninety-four plants with ripe fruit, and to place them on sea-water. The majority sank quickly, but some which, whilst green, floated for a very short time, when dried floated much longer; for instance, ripe hazel-nuts sank immediately, but when dried they floated for ninety days, and afterwards when planted germinated; an asparagus plant with ripe berries floated for twenty-three days, when dried it floated for eighty-five days, and the seeds afterwards germinated: the ripe seeds of Helosciadium sank in two days, when dried they floated for above ninety days, and afterwards germinated. Altogether, out of the ninety-four dried plants, eighteen floated for above twenty-eight days; and some of the eighteen floated for a very much longer period. So that as 64/87 kinds of seeds germinated after an immersion of twenty-eight days; and as 18/94 distinct species with ripe fruit (but not all the same species as in the foregoing experiment) floated, after being dried, for above twenty-eight days, we may conclude, as far as anything can be inferred from these scanty facts, that the seeds of 14/100 kinds of plants of any country might be floated by sea-currents during twenty-eight days, and would retain their power of germination. In Johnston's Physical Atlas, the average rate of the several Atlantic currents is thirty-three miles per diem (some currents running at the rate of sixty miles per diem); on this average, the seeds of 14/100 plants belonging to one country might be floated across 924 miles of sea to another country; and when stranded, if blown by an inland gale to a favourable spot, would germinate.

Doesn't it contain new data?
Isn't it a test of a hypothesis?

11:30 pm  
Blogger John said...

Smokey,
You asked,
'Does the following quote stir anything within you? Like a series of tributaries! Emilio thought, and felt once more the visceral thrill of trying to disprove a hypothesis he knew was robust. Mary Doria Russell, Children of God'

and when I was so rude as to not answer you noted: 'Did you notice that john ignored my request to comment on it?'

My excuse is that I rather thought that the question was rhetorical. Mea Culpa. Did it stir anything within me? Yes, it did.

I haven't read the book but, strangely enough, I don't imagine said Emilio collecting data on a field trip or conducting an experiment to test the hypothesis to destruction. I imagine him in the library using the very data that someone else had compiled in support of the robust hypothesis.

You might see from that why I thought you must have meant the question rhetorically but maybe not.

11:50 pm  
Blogger Hawks said...

anthony wrote: "I merely state that the answer to question 1 must be no. It is not ESSENTIAL to have a commitment to MN. Those scientists prove it."

As I already stated, you can describe observations without commiting to MN and still have scientific progress (although this would not be true all the time). But scientific progress by pure description is obviously severely limited in it's scope. Was there a point you had in mind when you asked the question?


anthony wrote: "The question really is whether it is a valid pursuit to look for design in nature. If it is valid to do so then MN is potentially falsifiable."

The logic of this escapes me. Why would the existence of design somehow falsify MN?

12:27 am  
Blogger Smokey said...

john wrote:
"I haven't read the book but, strangely enough, I don't imagine said Emilio collecting data on a field trip or conducting an experiment to test the hypothesis to destruction."

Emilio is a priest and a linguist. He already went on his field trip, which was horribly traumatic. He would make predictions about the language and then look at its components to test his hypothesis.

You're missing the point by a mile. It's about having the integrity to make and test predictions from your own hypothesis, something no ID proponent on Earth has the courage/faith/confidence to do.

Real scientists are thrilled by this, while ID pseudoscientists are paralyzed by fear and lack of faith.

"I imagine him in the library using the very data that someone else had compiled in support of the robust hypothesis."

No, he compiled the data; he had merely to go through it, but being a scientist, he had the courage to make a prediction first.

Do you realize that you can make predictions even if someone already has the data in hand? But only if you have the courage to be wrong.

The homework assignment is here:
http://tinyurl.com/2yaaqj
...search for "homework."

2:47 am  

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