Social Question

josie's avatar

When speaking of evolution, why do some people protest that it is "only a theory"?

Asked by josie (22955 points ) September 21st, 2010

The statements in a theory are already true. They are empirically based, made in a way consistent with the scientific method. All the word theory means is that although we know something about a phenomenon, we do not know all of it.
For example gravity.
It clearly exists, and we can accurately predict its behaviour mathematically-so accurately that we sent men to the moon and robots to other planets. We simply do not quite understand the exact physical nature of the attraction between bodies in the universe.
But that fact does not make gravity non existent. It simply offers opportunities for more research and understanding.
But when speaking of evolution, some people seem to forget the nature of theory. In that particular case, they dismiss evolution as “only a theory”.
I doubt if they would get away with saying “Gravity-Ha! It is only a theory!”
So, how do they get away with this obvious disregard for principles of epistemology, that have been used successfully since Aristotle?
Why is this particular show of provincialism given more latitude than if they disputed, say, gravity?

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276 Answers

crazyivan's avatar

You’d be surprised what they’ll deny. The Vatican just sponsored a conference on Geocentrism!!! ignorance is an incredible thing.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s because they don’t understand the scientific meaning of the word “theory.”

Deja_vu's avatar

The theory isn’t evolution in general. It’s that Humans evolved from Apes that’s a theory because there is a missing link… It’s not 100% proven. It’s just not. Plain and simple. Plus, what @Rarebear said.

crazyivan's avatar

I think the whole notion that the “missing link” leaves any question about the fact that humans evolved from apes has been thoroughly debunked… the fact that we share some 98% of our DNA it seems pretty settled as well.

cockswain's avatar

It’s just ignorance, and those trying to find evidence to debunk it because they don’t want to believe it. I wish we’d just make it mandatory curriculum in high school. A lot of people can finish college without learning it. It seems like basic essential information to understanding the human experience. We’re animals, just the smartest on this planet.

@Deja_vu I believe the common knowledge is that humans did not evolve from apes, but share a common ancestor with chimpanzees. While the theory is not a law, it has an overwhelming amount of physical evidence supporting it that grows everyday.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a theory about how animals change over time in response to stresses in the environment. There is an awful lot of evidence to support that theory, the same as there is a lot of evidence to support the theory of gravity.

The difference is that people can experience gravity every day. It’s almost impossible to experience evolution in action because it happens over a time period that is much longer than a human life.

We live in an “if I see it, I believe it” culture. Evolution is not a kind of thing you can see. All archeological evidence is difficult to understand or even imagine if you have never been on an archeological dig. Even then, it’s hard to imagine evolution unless you are on lots and lots of digs and see the fossils gradually change over time.

cockswain's avatar

But you can see DDT resistant mosquitoes and antibiotic resistant bacteria because their generations are so much faster. Still not convincing enough for the naysayers.

wundayatta's avatar

@cockswain You have to watch, or you won’t see. Besides which, those are bugs. Everyone knows that humans are not like bugs, right?~

cockswain's avatar

Yeah, good point. I don’t know why it bothers people so much to accept we’re related to bacteria. It doesn’t upset me at all, I’m glad to be aware that’s how the universe works. Ah, just another reason for me to be irritated at the illusions religion puts in the eyes of many potentially clear-headed people. of course I don’t mean all religious people, only the ones who refuse to learn/accept the theory

wundayatta's avatar

Not everyone thinks that they should observe the world for themselves. Some believe that everything they need to know can be learned from their holy book. It keeps their eyes blinded, I would say.

cockswain's avatar

@wundayatta True. I remember what it was like once upon a time to think all my thoughts were being observed and judged by a god who could condemn me to eternal pain if I became too doubtful. What a racket.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

There’s an additional issue as well – DDT resistant mosquitoes are still mosquitoes, and antibiotic resistant bacteria are still bacteria. You can accept that species inherit traits from previous generations without having to believe that these traits will end up transforming them into different species (microevolution v. macroevolution). Also, those are specific instances of an organism encountering an environmental threat. If the threat isn’t 100% effective in eliminating a species in a single generation…then it’s possible that resistant members of the species passed the resistance on, and after that will spread the resistance.

@josie

I think @wundayatta put it well. There’s a scope issue because of the time which evolution needs. There’s also the fact that theories can’t be tested unless they’re predictive, and new facts need to come to light that would be consistent with the theory. It’s also not true that it was arrived at through the scientific method. The scientific method requires that there be observable phenomena that are testable – although there are organisms whose generations allow for rapid development, as stated above they don’t demonstrate any sort of spontaneous generation of new DNA information that would necessitate it be classified as a new species (if there IS anything on this, I would love to see it…that would be new solid ammunition). The evidence for evolution is not necessarily evidence as facts which can be interpreted to be consistent with the theory of evolution.

There are also problems – people often point to the missing link and lack of intermediate forms. This site actually does a pretty good job with a reasonable critique of the theory of evolution.

So it’s not necessarily ignorance. It’s skepticism. (okay – a lot of times it’s actually ignorance).

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob The same process that evolved the mosquitoes and bacteria also is the vehicle for speciation. DNA recombination and natural selection, over and over and over and over…

I posted a link on a different thread a while back, I’ll see if I can find it again. Briefly, a University of Arizona study looked at how blue-green algae differentiated over millions of years, from uni- to multi-cellular aggregates, highly differentiated. It’s like how stem cells work. The paper is pretty technical though. If you’re willing to read it I’ll find it. But it isn’t an isolated paper by any means. The science can be dull and tedious to comprehend, as well as require a strong biochemical background. Hence why many don’t get it.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

I thought we were explaining reasons why people claimed evolution was just a theory, not debating about whether it was valid. ;-)

But since you brought it up, that’s the microevolution vs. macroevolution separation that people use to show issues with the theory. It gets detailed after that point, of course, so to explain the mechanics of it are an issue for laypeople.

For instance, I’m of the impression that the processes of recombinant DNA and natural selection imply a loss of DNA information, rather than a creation of it. I’m not really clear about the process of transpositional recombinant DNA, but I believe that still requires the existence of the current information in at least one of the donors.

Working from this point, it’s reasonable…although I would think less reasonable than an evolution theory…that there’s been a steady extinction of species and a decrease in diversity, leaving those which were the most fit behind (this smacks a bit too much of creationism for me, and I was barely able to type it).

cockswain's avatar

I thought we were explaining reasons why people claimed evolution was just a theory, not debating about whether it was valid.

Good point.

I’m of the impression that the processes of recombinant DNA and natural selection imply a loss of DNA information, rather than a creation of it. I’m not really clear about the process of transpositional recombinant DNA, but I believe that still requires the existence of the current information in at least one of the donors.

I don’t see recombination as a loss or creation, just a change. Are you saying you’re confused about how recombination occurs during meiosis, or something more complex?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

More complex. Homologous recombination is the transposition that occurs during meiosis. But you need a mating pair for that to happen, as far as that happens. Therefore you have two members of the same species. Transpositional recombination isn’t dependent on meiosis…so I feel like that maybe how new DNA information may be introduced…but recombination in general seems premised on the fact that there are two members of the same species mating.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob Well, the theory is that a species diverges, isolates from another group, and the resulting genetic drift from the more limited gene pool eventually causes speciation. Like the finches on the Galapagos Islands but on an era scale.

Ivan's avatar

Because some people don’t understand Science.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

But that sound like, by necessity, all of the genetic material would have been contained in the isolated species already. Wouldn’t any change after that be an expression of recessive genes, brought about by inbreeding?

iamthemob's avatar

@Ivan

Rather, some of the people who say it’s just a theory do it because they don’t understand science.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob But there are mutations that can occur. And I don’t understand your comment about recessive genes. The allele frequencies will be altered, and then the phenotype. I’ve got to go, I’ll see where this goes when I check back.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Humans did not evolve from apes, nor do we have any common ancestry with chimps monkeys or orangutans. And we don’t share any DNA with them. We may have similar coding in our DNA, but we don’t share any.

ETpro's avatar

@josie Great Question. I think the confusion occurs because creationists mostly are ignorant of how science works and what “theory” in the scientific context means. The word is used to mean anything from a very precise model of scientific observations about the Universe or some portion of it. To be a theory, the model must be falsifiable, and have survived all attempts to falsify it experimentally. It must be predictive, and the predictions it yield must hold up to experimental observation. And it must survive vigorous peer review, with other scientists all over the world testing and verifying the theory and predictions that would logically flow from it with results always being consistent with the theory.

@Deja_vu Actually, The Theory of Evolution does not state than man evolved from the apes. It states that both today’s chimpanzees and humans evolved from a single common ancestor. Since that theory was put forth, a mountain of evidence has been amassed showing that this is exactly what happened. DNA connections and numerous fossil remains have backed up the theory. We may or may not ever find the exact missing link. The creature would have lived many millions of years ago and time erases many records. Even if that particular piece of evidence in the evidence chain remains missing forever, the rest of the chain is so substantial that the evidence is quite clear.

cockswain's avatar

@Ben_Dover You’re mistaken.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@cockswain I rather doubt it.

cockswain's avatar

The science states otherwise. Read up on it or show me some evidence against what my molecular biology, biochemistry, and anthropology classes have taught me.

Ben_Dover's avatar

They taught you that your grandmother is a monkey?

crazyivan's avatar

@Ben_Dover I am willing to accept that creationists did not evolve from apes, but I still hold out hope that they will eventually…

(Sorry, I already used that one in another thread, didn’t I?)

Ben_Dover's avatar

It is obvious that all life on this planet evolves. But it is ridiculous to think that humans evolved from apes.
This has nothing to do with creationists.

The creationists are buffoons because they don’t realize that all life was created with the ability to evolve.

In other words, creationists and evolutionists are not mutually exclusive.

But you need to use your brain to see this.

Ivan's avatar

@Ben_Dover

The differences between human DNA and Chimpanzee DNA are minute. Something like 98+ percent is literally identical.

cockswain's avatar

@Ben_Dover You showed me no proof. Read the rest of the thread. Do you know what terms like genetic drift and allele frequency refer to? If not, you aren’t qualified to imply I’m not using my brain. Demonstrate you get it before saying dumb things like my grandmother was an ape. Otherwise you’re ignorant on this subject.

ETpro's avatar

@Ben_Dover Again, the science does not say that man evolved from apes. It says that in the relatively distant past (distant so far as modern humans are concerned) both modern chimpanzees, gorillas and modern humans shared a common ancestor. Our branch of the homionid family went one way, their branches another. There is a mountain of hard evidence supporting this conclusion. It is far from idle speculation.

ratboy's avatar

We fervently believe that empiricism is an elaborate hoax designed to trip up the unwary. On the other hand, I share my DNA freely with anyone wanting some.

ducky_dnl's avatar

If you want to believe you came from an Ape or even Bacteria, go right ahead. I’ll just go sit over there with the other people that came from Adam and Eve.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@ETpro This is pure speculation to put it nicely. Everyone attacking my stance claims I have no proof, and yet here you all are throwing out half-baked ides with not a shred of evidence to support you.

The missing link is so huge in trying to show how man evolved from an ape/chimp/monkee that it is laughable.

@Ivan
That 2% difference is incredibly huge.

@cockswain And you showed proof to me? LOL

Perhaps chimps evolved from humans!

ETpro's avatar

@Ben_Dover Pure argument by assertion. True, I didn’t bother to post links to available evidence, but since you ask, I will.

Yes, this is Wikipedia but there are a list of solid references here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution#Divergence_of_the_human_lineage_from_other_Great_Apes

If you would like to see the evidence going back 7 million years in a more enjoyable, accessible format, see this: http://www.becominghuman.org/

Evidence is seldom absolute. We convict people of murder and sentence them to the death penalty and in almost every case, there is some piece of evidence missing. Say the murderer did it with a knife, and then melted the knife down in acid which he then neutralized with baking soda and dumped down the toilet. By the time police begin an investigation, there is no murder weapon to find. Would you let that man walk free is DNA evidence (the victims blood on his clothing), numerous eyewitnesses, fiber evidence, motive, opportunity and the man’s own confession upon arrest all pointed to his guilt? Would one missing link destroy the whole case?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@ETpro Yes, Reasonable Doubt is the standard by which we convict criminals here in America. All the evidence you cited above is called circumstantial. sometimes it is enough to convict, especially when the defendant is a minority person being tried by an all white jury. .

What is actually required is direct evidence. That was a very smart murderer who took the time to melt down his murder weapon. The eyewitnesses would be enough to convict.
DNA evidence is questionable at best, especially due to the many many cases where it was proven that the DNA tester was a liar and tainted the evidence in favor of the prosecution.

However, circumstantial evidence is not enough to prove that humans evolved from simians.

cockswain's avatar

Did you read the links @ETpro suggested? Where do you think humans came from?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@cockswain Where do you think chimps came from?

cockswain's avatar

amino acids

Ben_Dover's avatar

ad nauseum

cockswain's avatar

You don’t want to say where humans came from?

Ben_Dover's avatar

How would I know where humans came from? I was born in the 20th century. Nobody knows where we came from.
Some people are pretty sure we started in Africa. Others feel it was the Tigris Euphrates area (the Fertile Crescent). Still others are certain we marched out of the Caucasus Mountains (hence the term Caucasians).

But there is no proof that we evolved from a lower life form than what we are…human beings. There is no proof that we weren’t created by The Creator of the Universe (Einstein’s God).
There simply is no proof, merely much conjecture.

The real question isn’t what did we evolve from, The real question is, Now that you are here, what are you going to do with yourself, and what are you going to evolve into?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

We call it the theory of evolution because all of science is a theory. We could wake up tomorrow and find out we were wrong about gravity. – My science teacher

Ben_Dover's avatar

@papayalily Einstein showed that we were wrong about gravity. He will surely be proven wrong one day, too.

cockswain's avatar

@Ben_Dover Just be honest and don’t think I’m attacking you. Do you actually have a molecular biology background and understand what allele frequency, meiosis, stuff like that are? Do you really have a solid, thorough understanding of the technical aspects of the theory of evolution? If not, there’s no problem with that. I just want to know if you’ve really understood the material and still have reached your conclusion about the lack of likelihood we evolved from bacteria. If I get a better understanding of why you’ve reached these conclusions, I’ll understand your view.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

The problem is that very, very few people do. Proponents of evolution are the ones, in this case, that need to demonstrate that the theory is a good one. He’s saying “I don’t believe it…prove it to me…”

If you could explain it…that would be great (I’m getting a little confused on the issue here.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob I’m trying, but it isn’t clear he’s read the links @ETpro posted, nor what you and I were discussing earlier. This requires reading textbooks to really get the concepts and can’t be quickly understood. The desire to understand with an open mind must exist.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Yes, I understand meiosis and meitosis, genetics and our infantile attempts at sequencing the millions of bits of information and trying to compare the genetic sequences with other similar species.

somewhere up there @Ivan states that there is a 98% similarity between chimps and humans.
What he doesn’t state is that the 2% difference is enough to lead us believe that we are descended from vegetables or oranges.

So please, don’t lay this silliness on me that you have so much greater education in the field of biology that you can tell me how we are descended from simians. Maybe we are, but there isn’t any proof other than circumstantial or collateral.
I was studying this stuff back in the 70’s.

As I stated above, what is far more important than finding out what we evolved from, is figuring out what we are going to evolve into.

cockswain's avatar

OK, do you know what mitochondrial DNA is? (this is important)

It isn’t silly to guess I may know more about this subject than you since I’m in biotech and am immersed in this stuff. Maybe you are too, I don’t know. You haven’t revealed where you’re getting your info, and seem like you aren’t responding to some of the basic stuff.

Rarebear's avatar

People are missing the point of this question, and it’s evolved (heh…) into another creation/evolution debate. The point of this question is the word “theory”. A theory in a lay person’s sense means “hypothesis” or “guess”. In a scientific sense, a “theory” is a scientific paradigm that has been shown by rigorous experimentation to have the absolute best explanation of the world. A scientific theory, as far as a lay person is concerned, means “fact.”

Here are a few scientific theories.
The theory of relativity
Gravitational theory
The theory of heliocentrism (a nod to @crazyivan for this one)
Theory of electromagnetism.
Germ theory.

And I could go on for hours. It is a FACT that a ball will fall when you drop it because of the THEORY of gravity (or relativity, if you want to be precise).

Ben_Dover's avatar

@cockswain Sure, The mitochondria is like the energy center of the cell. Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA found in the mitochondria. Crick and Watson are a couple of my sources regarding DNA.

cockswain's avatar

@Rarebear Despite the fact it is now an evolution/creation debate at the moment, @Ben_Dover started a thread about how amino acids form proteins, showing he’s asking great questions now.

@Ben_Dover Good. Now is that all you know about it, or do you know what it means when I say it is highly conserved? I’m not asking to belittle, I’m asking because you said above you know about all this stuff and I don’t want to waste time on simpler concepts if you’ve got them down already. Crick and Watson are a lot of people’s sources ; )

ETpro's avatar

@Ben_Dover & @Rarebear While it is true that Newton’s Theory of Gravity did prove to be a bit off and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity improved on our ability to accurately predict planetary orbits or trajectories of space probes in the vicinity of massive objects like the sun or Jupiter, the fact that the Theory of Gravity was off a bit did not ever mean that you could bull a Wile E. Coyote and step into thin air without falling so long as the Roadrunner doesn’t call your attention to your plight, causing you to look down.

There are most certainly things still to be learned about how humans evolved to the stage we have reached. But like gravity, it does not appear that answering those questions will do anything to change the conclusion that we did evolve from a common hominid ancestor of the Gorillas and the Chimpanzees, and that ancestor lived over 7 million years ago. The evidence is substantial enough for me. But I am certainly willing to review it if a better explanation comes along.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

Personally…I would like you to explain this because I’m not certain where the proof is here either…instead of asking whether @Ben_Dover understands what you mean by “x,” please explain it to all assuming that I don’t. ;-)

Ben_Dover's avatar

@cockswain I believe that a highly conserved sequence of genomes in re evolution refers to the fact that the genetic material was substantially unchanged by the process of evolution or during a period of evolution. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
cockswain's avatar

Yes, you are right. It the mtDNA path indicates humans originated somewhere in Africa, but mtDNA shows we are not the same species as Neaderthals. So, what do you think about us not being the same species as them? Just seriously consider what that means. Maybe God created Neanderthals separate from humans?

Sorry I’m being so brief, but I’m kind of busy and just wanted to add more info. This video is 10 minutes long and briefly summarizes three key components of evolutionary theory. First, it discusses the fact Neanderthals aren’t human species (despite extreme similarities in culture and appearance). Second, it discusses exactly where chromosomal fusion between the common ancestor between us and chimps occurred, so why chimps have 48 chromosomes and we have 46. The details there are critical to understand. Finally, the last couple minutes are about ERVs, showing how viral DNA was inserted into our genomes, and in the same places and locations as in chimps.

This stuff can’t be ignored. Please watch it, and let’s get into the details. Don’t blow any of it off.

crazyivan's avatar

@cockswain While I appreciate your indefatigable efforts, I think it’s clear that some people on this thread are willfully ignorant. No credible expert dismisses the overwhelming mountain of evidence that Humans and Apes share common ancestry (for that matter, none dismiss the notion that humans and trees have a common ancestor).

Once you’ve given up on knowing in favor of thinking that you know, you will never know. A wise man once said that. It was me. Just now.

iamthemob's avatar

@crazyivan

I don’t see any willful ignorance. I do, however, see arrogance. If there is an overwhelming mountain of evidence, please show it. If the fossil record mandates that this be the answer, show me it’s complete. If it’s not complete, show me how it could be fact. If it can’t be experimentally shown, how could it be fact?

I’m not saying it’s not reasonable myself…but you can’t take facts, and state “this is how evolution explains these facts” and say “therefore, these facts are evidence for evolution” – that’s so circular.

cockswain's avatar

@crazyivan I’m holding out the hope that @Ben_Dover will prove to be open-minded enough to eventually discuss this subject rationally. He’s shown promise so far, so I won’t stop putting the evidence out there until he shows he won’t actually discuss the details any longer.

Also, it’s useful for observers to learn about mtDNA, ERVs, and chomosomal fusion. Plus thinking and writing are always good things.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob The evidence in the video I posted I consider to be overwhelming. What do you think?

iamthemob's avatar

(still need to watch. waiting to respond to you till then)

cockswain's avatar

Well the mountain is there. In my opinion.

JustmeAman's avatar

There is absolutely no evidence showing that we evolved from any of the known species on Earth. There are missing links if you look at the evidence that is there. Current Man suddenly and strangely had DNA and capabilities that are not present in all past evidence. There are similarities but not a complete connection leaving science to still try and find that link.

cockswain's avatar

Did you watch the video I referenced above? If not, please do so then we can discuss the actual theory. If you don’t want to watch the video, let me know why. The evidence is very clear we evolved from another species.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Great movie. Perhaps there is some evidence that we have evolved from another species. Although I am not convinced that it isn’t the chimps who evolved from us. ~~

cockswain's avatar

@Ben_Dover If that’s all you’re going to say, you have no right to discuss this topic. Please don’t let us down that badly. What did you like/not like? What evidence suggests chimps evolved from humans?

eden2eve's avatar

If I were a home builder, and I was going to build a house, I might use the same materials and nearly the same plan that I used to build other houses. Having done this before, I realize that the materials and plan I used were optimal for creating that house, and since I already developed that plan, I could deduce that, with small modifications, it was ideal for the current creation. This does not require anyone to believe that this last house evolved from the house I built before.

JustmeAman's avatar

Human evolution, or anthropogenesis, is the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens as a distinct species from other hominids, great apes and placental mammals. The study of human evolution encompasses many scientific disciplines, including physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, linguistics and genetics.[1]

The term “human” in the context of human evolution refers to the genus Homo, but studies of human evolution usually include other hominids, such as the Australopithecines, from which the genus Homo had diverged by about 2.3 to 2.4 million years ago in Africa.[2][3] Scientists have estimated that humans branched off from their common ancestor with chimpanzees about 5–7 million years ago. Several species and subspecies of Homo evolved and are now extinct. These include Homo erectus, which inhabited Asia, and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, which inhabited Europe. Archaic Homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago.

The dominant view among scientists concerning the origin of anatomically modern humans is the “Out of Africa” or recent African origin hypothesis,[4][5][6][7] which argues that Homo sapiens arose in Africa and migrated out of the continent around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, replacing populations of Homo erectus in Asia and Homo neanderthalensis in Europe. Scientists supporting the alternative multiregional hypothesis argue that Homo sapiens evolved as geographically separate but interbreeding populations stemming from a worldwide migration of Homo erectus out of Africa nearly 2.5 million years ago.

The Neanderthal – modern human connection?
May 20, 2010
A sixty percent complete, “first draft” of the Neanderthal genome has been prepared by scientists with the Max Planck Institute in Germany and there is evidence there was interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans about 80,000 years ago in the Levant. This announcement appeared in the journal Science on May 8 and has had a mixed reception.
Colleagues of the Max Planck team are delighted so much progress has been made in defining the Neanderthal genome, so soon after the announcement, a few years ago, of the complete human genome but key figures in the fields of evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology question whether the complex statistical analysis outlined in the paper in fact supports the hypothesis there was interbreeding between the two species.
The authors’ genetic analysis also challenges the “out of Africa” hypothesis which posits we modern humans, Homo sapiens, throughout the world trace our ancestry to anatomically modern humans who migrated out of Africa around 50,000 years ago.

Here is some of the information you posted above. If you notice there are words like estimated, dominant view, (This dominant view is then in the next part is said to be questioned), argues, Scientists supporting, hypothesis, 60% complete, first draft, mixed reception, question whether the complex statistical analysis outlined in the paper in fact supports the hypothesis there was interbreeding between the two species and chanllenged.
I think these words from the scientific community speak for themselves there are no findings that are complete nor are there any complete connections to the other species.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

Thanks for that video – now we’re getting somewhere.

(1) The first argument regarding the Neanderthals is a non-starter. The fact that there once was a genetically similar species, but that it was very different from us, is just saying there was a homonid species that is now extinct. The fact that there once was more genetic diversity seems just as viable when we look at it from the perspective where genetic diversity is constantly reduced, and doesn’t show any information regarding the creation of new genetic information. I think that it demonstrates well one of the faults of evolutionary study and that is the interpretation of facts in a matter that shows them as evidence for the theory, basing the interpretation on the assumption that the theory is true.

(2) The SECOND argument seems much, much more relevant to the discussion. The fact that we can locate the fused chromosome which matches the chimp chromosomes does indicate a link between us. I would accept this as strong evidence in favor of evolution based on my basic understanding of it. But again, I would reserve judgment as to whether it is demonstrable proof. This also doesn’t show how new genetic information is created, but merely that closely-related species may have been present at a time where there were more closely-related versions between them. I ask, is this not explained also by all of the tools available in microevolution? (not rhetorical. ;-))

(3) The third argument seems to be further evidence of (2) being true (the similarity of viral DNA patterns at the chromosome in question). Let me know if I’m wrong and it shows something independent…but again, it faces the same problems.

That was good for showing the possibility of common ancestry. But it doesn’t, as far as I can tell, mandate an evolution-based explanation. Again, there’s no new production.

iamthemob's avatar

PS – I took classes with Ken Miller. That man is arrogant with a capital “ARR”. I do still have his book on my shelf, though…

Also, my severe problem with the argument is that it is posited as a “see why creationism/intelligent design is wrong” rather than “see how this proves our theory.”

Rigid commitment to a theory when there is so much information to be gathered is what my real issue is. I’m not advocating an opinion on ID v. Evo. But what if it’s something completely different altogether? Wouldn’t it benefit us scientifically to expand the scope of the argument?

JustmeAman's avatar

I still state now that total connection to current man evolving from anything from this Earth will NOT be found. There is a big reason for that and a very good explanation but casting my pearls is something I’m not willing to do. Having done that before and being made fun of is not a fun thing to do and I will not expose myself to that again. But think about it very seriously and open your mind to ALL possibilities and you may find a path to follow and to find. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it will be opened to you. I know that comes from scripture but there are a lot of things to be learned from there.

crazyivan's avatar

Yes and I’m sure it is only a cooincidence that every person in the universe that (a) has access to modern literature on evolution and (b) denies it is a bible-thumping evangelical. The fact that only people who came into the argument diametrically opposed to one side stand on the other side is a mountain of evidence all on its own.

But yes, if you believe that the bible is true because the bible said it’s true, you may not have evolved.

JustmeAman's avatar

@crazyivan

Evolution is a fact and it is proven by science one cannot refute that but us evolving from apes is the question not evolution as I see it.

cockswain's avatar

@eden2eve The fact that we know houses didn’t evolve from other house isn’t a great analogy. I understand you’d like to believe a creator did it, but there is insufficient evidence of that theory relative to evolutionary theory.

@JustmeAman I don’t understand your point from what you cut and pasted up there. You’re saying because there is language “scientists supporting, hypothesis, 60% complete, first draft, mixed reception, question whether the complex statistical analysis outlined in the paper in fact supports the hypothesis there was interbreeding between the two species and chanllenged.” means that there isn’t solid evidence of evolutionary theory? Any paper that comes out in the scientific community is always peer-reviewed with a skeptical eye. Don’t feel I’m attacking you, but it doesn’t seem clear you completely understood what you pasted. Do you have a scientific background? Did you watch the video I posted, because it makes a very clear case we evolved from apes, like it or not.

@iamthemob The first argument to me is evidence of speciation. No one can disregard the similarities in culture and appearance between humans and Neanderthals. To me it is more evidence in a really solid theory that humans are a divergent species from a common ancestor to the Neandethals. Also, I’m not getting your point about the circular logic. This is just what the data has suggested, so what we should believe unless new discoveries compel us to update our view. A lot of people think updates to a theory indicate the scientific method doesn’t work.

I don’t understand what your saying about the second argument and genetic information being “created.” I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

The third argument is the most compelling of all, and again since you allude to it having similar problems to the second, I don’t know where to go with it. It may just be a case of you having ideas about how it works that aren’t congruent with reality, but I’m only suspecting that at the moment.

All of the above when viewed as a whole further substantiate the theory. Very much like the analogy @etpro suggested with the murderer hiding the weapon, but every other shred of evidence pointed to him being guilty. Are you just hung up on the fact that the theory isn’t a law, so you’re leaving that 0.0001% chance the whole theory is completely wrong as something to keep you from accepting the data? I respect your pragmatic skepticism, but this looks clear to me from a genetic standpoint.

Regarding your experience with Ken Miller, I don’t know him and I don’t see his presentation as having holes in it. If the theory were understood and not attacked, he wouldn’t have to present in the fashion you’re objecting to.

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain If you are saying theory than that is correct it is a theory only and not total evidence. They are studying it and finding out a lot that supports what I have discovered. It makes a case but it is not proven and many scientists do not believe it or support it.

cockswain's avatar

That is the main argument people make, saying evolution is “only” a theory. That is also the actual question of the thread. If you read the thread completely, you’ll see others have addressed that point, like gravity is a theory. But like gravity, there is an overwhelming amount of data from an overwhelming number of hypotheses to support this theory. It is a very solid theory, and to disprove it (to me at least), you’ll need to get into the specifics of the exact science. Again, do you mind revealing what your scientific background amounts to? The main problem with non-adoption of this theory is lack of education and religious beliefs. I have no problem talking about it with you, you just have to be willing to learn the details. But don’t you want to know the details so you have a right to find the flaws in the conclusions derived from the data?

JustmeAman's avatar

There is no need to speculate with you, scientists don’t even agree to specifics as a whole. As with religion Christians don’t agree either to the specifics (that is why there are many Christian Faiths). Many scientists support one hypothesis and others support many others. There is no cohesion to man evolving from apes among the science community..

cockswain's avatar

@JustmeAman LOL! If there’s no need to speculate, why are you on a discussion forum?! Why is there a controversy then?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

My argument is that it’s NOT evidence of speciation, but has been interpreted to be evidence of speciation. To say that we are closely related to x and y genetically, but differently, and that we share a common ancestor at an earlier point is an assertion. Using the fact that we are closely but differently related to x and y as evidence of that assertion is using the assertion to prove the assertion. To say speciation could explain this is something completely different from saying this is evidence of speciation.

Think of it this way. If aliens arrived, and they had a very similar genetic structure to us, would we assume that we had evolved from the same common ancestor? No. We could say that a common ancestor could explain this, but we’d have to demonstrate it with something outside of that fact.

CREATION OF NEW GENETIC INFORMATION – in order for evolution to be fact, it depends on proof of mutations significant enough to change one species into another requires that the mutation caused new information to be written into the genetic code, passed on, and expressed in future generations. We share genetic information with everything on earth. For instance, we share 90% of our information with mice, approximately. That means 10% of the information in our code is not in theirs, and vice versa. Where does it come from? The fusing doesn’t create new information, but prevents some from being expressed – that’s how it sounds.

PS – I was just commenting on Ken Miller as a person. That wasn’t a judgment on his presentation.

eden2eve's avatar

@cockswain
With your scientific mind and your sophisticated explanation of the “Evolutionary Theory”, you evidently failed to understand my simple analogy. Providing proof that DNA of various species is similar does not convince everyone that it follows that these creatures created one another. Anyone who finds an ideal format for a creation might utilize similar formats for others of their creations. This currently can’t be proven, nor can your hypothesis be proven. It is merely worthy of consideration that there may be another rationale for the “Theories” you propose.

I appreciate that you are educated in the science of that which you discuss, but some of your comments seem patronizing. Your brain is not necessarily superior, nor is your level and scope of education necessarily superior. Different, but not superior.

The reason that a discussion such as this can even take place is that there has been no definitive proof of what you expound as absolute proof. I wish to make it clear that I have no problem IF this is the method that was used to create, but just state that in my thinking there is not sufficient proof based upon similar DNA samples. There is another plausible explanation for that, which challenges you, in my thinking. You and your kind dismiss this explanation because you choose to deny the possibility of a Creator, but that does not make your “Science” nor your knowledge any better than mine.

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain

What I am saying is trying to speculate and discuss with you is not going to help or change anything. The video does not have conclusive evidence that we evolved from apes and even the science that you are stateing is not convinced. There are scientists that do THINK that is true based on their findings but others refute it. Showing one video is not going to change the world to accept what we don’t have proof for. But we each study our own way and use our capacity to understand and create our reality.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m seriously going to cry if one more person compares the theory of gravity with the theory of evolution. The theory of gravity is predictive because we can observe the phenomenon all the time every day.

At the same time, we have no idea what gravity really is – we just have a model that, for our practical purposes, explains it. That model may very well be fatally flawed. Consider the big bang theory (another theory). It states that matter and energy expanded from a single point. The theory of gravity predicts that, given this assumption, galactic clusters should be slowing down as the gravitational force exerted on each of the clusters from the other decreases due to the increased distance. However, observations have shown the opposite has happened. Is this a flaw in the theory? Well, not if you make something up…like dark matter. If we claim that we only have observed 20% of matter in the universe, and that 80% of the universe is dark matter we can’t observe, but exerts force on the rest of matter, the math works out.

crazyivan's avatar

@iamthmob we can also observe evolution everyday. It greets us in the mirror, for example. You can’t see gravity, you can only measure its effects. Same holds true with evolution.

I’m reminded of the scene from Liar, Liar where Jim Carey objects on the grounds that the evidence is devestating to his case.

JustmeAman's avatar

So in answer to your question it is called a theory because that is exactly what it is. There is your answer to the question.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

The problem with I have with the evidence is that it seems to be making a mountain [of evidence] out of a molehill [of facts].

Consider the fossil record for a second – it’s vastly incomplete. To say it’s premature to draw any conclusions from it is sound. Therefore, arguments stating that the fossil records are evidence of evolution is stating that my fingerprint in a bathroom in Penn Station is evidence of the theory that all people in Penn Station are me.

crazyivan's avatar

@JustmeAman But the question, I think, is about the emphasis on the word only, as though it being a “only” a theory makes it somehow untrue.

iamthemob's avatar

@crazyivan

I have to do this – WHAT!?!? We see evolution by looking at ourselves in the mirror as proof?

That is the EXACT ARGUMENT used by creationists – that the fact that we’re here is the proof that our theory of how we’re here is correct!

PLEASE tell me you’re joking…

JustmeAman's avatar

@crazyivan But in fact it is a theory there is no proof just some evidence that make some people come to that conclusion but it is not fact.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob I see what you’re saying, and it’s a good point. Evidence of another species like us is not evidence of speciation. But there is unquestionably evidence of speciation in other genus. I hope you aren’t going to question that, but it can be shown. Seeing this differentiation across all species and applying similar logic of everything we know about those mutative processes to include humans, even with all the ERV and chromosomal fusion doesn’t provide a clear enough picture that humans are animals that arose from these same processes? Is that what you’re saying, or something different?

Regarding creation of genetic material, I think you seem to be assuming there was once a greater genetic pool and everything that has derived since has less diversity, or something. Or maybe you’re just asking how can genomes of different organisms grow? Like why might a fox have more DNA base pairs and genes than a fish? Again, this comes down to mutations. Here’s a link about it. But I think again you’re saying observation of these processes in other creatures isn’t proof similar processes occur in humans? I don’t know, you’re going to have to give me some info.

Out of curiosity, how do you think humans came into existence? I can’t tell if you accept evolutionary theory since you keep implying scientists should think outside the box. I for one never once set out to find evidence we came from monkeys and bacteria. Experiments were done and done and this is the conclusion. Should it have proven we came from birds or aliens, so be it. Are you saying scientists now believe the theory so thoroughly now that they are taking it for granted as truth?

@JustmeAman and @eden2eve Sorry if I’m coming off as patronizing, but neither of you have really written anything to convince me you understand the science, yet you’re telling me the science is inconclusive and I’m refusing to allow other theories. To me, that’s like if you were an expert in 18th century British literature, and I presumed to tell you things you knew weren’t true and were clearly derived from a lack of study. I promise you if there were suddenly clear, reproducible evidence it was God that made humans, separate from other species, I would have no problem adjusting my belief system to accommodate that. I might be relieved even, but would have a lot of repenting to do. But basically I see your view as only faith based, with only the Bible as evidence. My view is empirically forged from real data, is reproducible and verifiable. Don’t think me believing that data means I’m closed minded. It just means I won’t believe something else without sufficient reason.

“Your brain is not necessarily superior, nor is your level and scope of education necessarily superior. Different, but not superior.”
I don’t think my brain is superior, but I’m guessing I’ve spent far more hours studying and being tested on this material than either of you. Doesn’t mean I’m better at understanding all things, but saying my scope of education isn’t superior would be false if you haven’t studied it as much as me. Isn’t that fair? If you were a literature major or art historian, you would have superior knowledge in those areas and that’s the way it is. I’d consider you a valid source of info on the subject. My chemistry, biotech, and engineering background has forced me to learn things I may not have otherwise. But I know them, and a NASA scientist knows astrophysics, and a translator may speak and read Russian and Chinese.

I was raised Catholic, and believed the Adam and Eve story into my 20s. I don’t now based on information I at first didn’t want to accept, then later could no longer deny since it is as clear to me as it is that the sun isn’t the center of the universe and Lot wasn’t turned into salt. So you two keep stating evolution isn’t proven, you watched the video and it’s no proof, and it’s just a theory with some evidence behind it. I say you two don’t have a solid understanding of the material and I’m not sure why you feel you can pass judgement on something you have little comprehension of. No one with a credible scientific background will say it is “just a theory with some evidence behind it.” Saying “other scientists don’t believe it” without showing me why doesn’t mean the evidence is less clear.

Do you find it insulting or scary to think we evolved from bacteria and primates? Is it just for religious reasons you don’t want this stuff to be true? What motivates you to want it to be false?

Rarebear's avatar

I’d like to recommend a book. It’s a childrens book, but it’s probably the best explanation of evolution I have ever read in such a short piece of work.
Evolution by Dan Loxton
If you want an adult book that’s not too dense:
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain

Why does it matter if I don’t fully understand the specifics of the science behind the video. Scientists that understand it and much more than you do disagree with the conclusions. Which scientist is correct? And as to your last question and I know this will sound superior but it is not but I have found the answer and it comes together for me. I have no questions as to what took place and why we are genetically alike in many aspects but we are different species we cannot procreate together.

cockswain's avatar

It matters because if you don’t understand something, you can’t take a stand on it. It would be like voting in an election without ever getting any facts about the candidates. Do you think it is reasonable for you to have a strong stance on a subject you don’t fully understand in any case, not just evolution?

Show me one scientist who understands it much more than me that disagrees with me. You pulled that statement out of your ass.

I know this will sound superior but it is not but I have found the answer and it comes together for me

How many other subjects are you an expert on without learning about them?

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain

I do fully understand what I have discovered but to know the information that the scientist writing an article or posting a video I do not. You may have I cannot say but I don’t know about brain surgery but I was the one that got it done for my Brother in law and it worked great. When people of the same background post information and do not all agree which one is correct? See now saying I pulled something out of my arsh is not in good form. Well I would say there are many scientists that understands it more than you do otherwise you would be a renowned scientist and would not be here trying to defend something you cannot.

cockswain's avatar

Your logic is astounding.

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain Thank you. Smile

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

It doesn’t really matter if I think it’s the best option or not. Evolution is not the answer unless it is proven to be so. You’ve presented some good reasons in support of the theory, but if you have a particular expertise and you are asserting that evolution is the best explanation for genetic diversity then it is your job to present the evidence, not one piece at a time.

Should I be expected to accept the theory without a full explanation of it?

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob I’m not going to write dozens of pages to hopefully show you that it is by far the most likely explanation of where humans came from. You seem to have a strong interest in the subject. Why don’t you begin by reading the book @Rarebear is recommending? Other than that, I think you may not get the completely air-tight explanation you seem to desire. Unknowns exist in this field like other fields. Complaining I haven’t sat down and just written out every last bit of info on this subject is a bit unreasonable and demanding of me. If you have specific questions, I’ll answer them.

iamthemob's avatar

Really? And you wonder why people remain ignorant of the subject.

“Evolution is the best explanation for the origin of man.”

“Really? Why…?”

“You don’t know? It’s so obvious!”

“Not really.”

“Well, go figure it out for yourself.”

I’m amazed. It’s incredible that people who claim to have rational ideas about how the world works demand that people with alternative opinions or who haven’t committed explain their theories, stating “If you have an assertion, you have the burden of proving it” and then, when asked to prove their assertions, say “It’s not my job to prove it to you.”

This is exactly why people claim that evolution is just a theory. Everyone is ignorant about it, and those who apparently have some understanding of it don’t want to be bothered.

I haven’t read Coyne’s book, but on this site there appears to be a pretty solid critique of the reasoning of Why Evolution is True (again, so much of it seems to be why it’s better than creationism. I thought a theory was supposed to stand on its own merits),

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Ben_Dover's avatar

@cockswain averred, ”I’m not going to write dozens of pages to hopefully show you that it is by far the most likely explanation of where humans came from.

So you are saying that humans obviously descended from monkeys because ”it is by far the most likely explanation of where humans came from.

Hmmmm

cockswain's avatar

Yes, meaning I’m “only” 99% convinced.

Ivan's avatar

@Ben_Dover

That 2% is no more or less important than any other 2%. It isn’t “weighted” just because it happens to be the 2% that differs from Chimpanzee DNA. In what other scenario would you say that 2% is a significant portion of the whole?

If I gave you two books that differed only in that 2% of their words were different, you would be hard pressed to say that they were different books at all. You surely wouldn’t say that they had absolutely no relation.

eden2eve's avatar

@cockswain
”...and Lot wasn’t turned into salt.” HEY… you’re right! lol Maybe if you had read the book, you might know why this is so funny.

“I don’t think my brain is superior, but I’m guessing I’ve spent far more hours studying and being tested on this material than either of you. ” My statement was to the effect that your LEVEL of education might not be superior. You don’t absorb much, do you? And just to expand on this thought a little bit, in spite of your elevated confidence in your own knowledge and intelligence, I know numbers of individuals who demonstrably outclass you in those areas, and these same would disagree with the conclusions you have formed. You can not begin to intimidate me in this manner.

“I say you two don’t have a solid understanding of the material and I’m not sure why you feel you can pass judgement on something you have little comprehension of. No one with a credible scientific background will say it is “just a theory with some evidence behind it.” Saying “other scientists don’t believe it” without showing me why doesn’t mean the evidence is less clear.”
Clear to you, but I see glaring holes in your material. I have a right to dispute you, and I don’t have to prove to you that I am worthy to do so. This is again very patronizing. Until you address and correct that character flaw, you will be unpersuasive and unable to be an effective advocate for your cause. And again, to state that NO ONE with your elevated background and education will dispute you… that’s just stinking thinking, and it makes you look foolish.

“Do you find it insulting or scary to think we evolved from bacteria and primates? Is it just for religious reasons you don’t want this stuff to be true? What motivates you to want it to be false?”
Now to address this (I sincerely hope) last condescending statement:
Again, if you read my previous post carefully, you would find that I stated:
I wish to make it clear that I have no problem IF this is the method that was used to create, but just state that in my thinking there is not sufficient proof based upon similar DNA samples.”
Do you ignore what you don’t want to see? Are you somehow invested in your belief that people who do not agree with you are unable to think or reason on your lofty level, or must be childlike in their fears or their belief systems?

You decide to assume that we are motivated to believe that these things aren’t true… but I state categorically that you and your “science” are not convincing enough, and that if and when they are. I assure you that I will not be insulted nor afraid, because that can still comfortably fit in with my conception of creation. That is one of the more pompous, immature and self-serving comments I have been privileged to read, and if I were you, and had made that statement, I’d be embarrassed for myself.

cockswain's avatar

I really don’t feel lofty. Just knowledgeable in a subject you clearly aren’t, so now you’re pissed you’ve been called on it. Cast your projection issues elsewhere and go read a book on evolution.

ETpro's avatar

@JustmeAman Since cutting and pasting from Wikipedia and Conservapedia seem to be in vogue, I’ll follow suit. I think this summation of who is on each side of the human evolution versus creationism debate is quite accurate.

“The creation–evolution controversy (also termed the creation vs. evolution debate or the origins debate) is a recurring cultural, political, and theological dispute about the origins of the Earth, humanity, life, and the universe. The dispute is between those who espouse religious belief and thus support a creationist view, versus those who accept evolution, as supported by scientific consensus.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation%E2%80%93evolution_controversy

@cockswain In a debate with the “It’s just a theory.” crowd, you need to realize you are essentially debating a tape recorder. No mater what you say or what evidence you produce, the reply will be “It’s just a theory.”

cockswain's avatar

Thanks. I guess I always hope that since I eventually accepted it after coming from a Catholic upbringing, others can do the same and stop suffering from viewing the world through an illusion. It isn’t even creation I have a problem with, since maybe it is possible there was creation in the original RNA stew. It’s those who won’t learn/accept the humans from primates stuff when it’s so clear.

By the way, you should check out the video I posted before. I think it does a good job of what it’s supposed to be.

ETpro's avatar

@cockswain The creation thing could be correct even if evolution is the path designed by a creator to accomplish it. The only thing evolutionary evidence is completely inconsistent with is the notion the that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. I suspect a lot of the resistance has to due with inborn human chauvinism. It’s that as much as religion, I suspect, that made men cling to geocentrism even after the evidence refuting it was absolutely overwhelming.

JustmeAman's avatar

This Earth has existed far more than 6000 years and there is a lot of evidence to prove that. The creation as it is called was just an organizing of existing material and planet to accept mortal man and 6000 years were spent in doing that. DNA from Earth and DNA from elsewhere were also introduced that is why a total link will not be found. This is a very small portion of my pearls so I would ask you not to come at me because of it. Suffice it to say it is IMHO.

crazyivan's avatar

@iamthemob Well, all this common sense, logic, overwhelming mountain of scientific eveidence and sound reasoning doesn’t do the trick… let’s see… how about bumper stickers? Do you think a few more pithy bumper stickers would do the trick?

It amazes me the degree people will go to in an attempt to insulate themselves from knowledge.

ETpro's avatar

@JustmeAman What do you do with all the evidence of human activity anc civilization stretching back FAR beyond 6,000 years?

cockswain's avatar

and cro-mags, and Neanderthals…

iamthemob's avatar

@crazyivan

Ironically, it’s the exact opposite of how you have characterized it. If you read through the thread, the majority of the responses are skeptical. Skepticism is, by necessity, where you open yourself up to MORE knowledge. It’s asking “Does this make sense?” the answer to which must be “Yes, because…” and not just “Yes.”

The way most people understand evolution is equivalent to the way most people understand the bible – accepting the word of people more knowledgeable than them because they are more knowledgeable, and not inquiring of them support. If many of the answers are “Well, we don’t really know…” then the skeptic has the right (I’d say, the responsibility) to question whether the person can claim there’s a “mountain” of evidence.

JustmeAman's avatar

@ETpro Not a thing those civilizations were here and like I said the planet is very old in our terms. It is far greater than 6000 years.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Skepticism isn’t about opening yourself up to more knowledge. Skepticism is applying critical thinking and the scientific method and evidence to questions.
http://skeptoid.com/skeptic.php

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

How is that not opening up yourself up to more knowledge? It’s not accepting something at face value. When we do that, we allow ourselves the privilege of being ignorant about the subject in question.

Knowledge attained through anything other than critical thinking is not so much knowledge as belief, in my opinion.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob I didn’t make myself clear enough, sorry, and I agree with you. Yes, more knowledge is better than less knowledge. My point on skepticism was that it’s not JUST about opening yourself up to more knowledge, but rather it’s a way of looking at the world through a lens of critical thinking and evidence. I completely agree with your post directly above this one.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

And I completely agree with your post directly above this one. :-)

ETpro's avatar

One way to look at “Just a theory/” is to note that even if we accept the loosest definition of theory, as in any wild-eyed prediction that comes to mind, all of us know there are theories and then there are Theories.

For instance, I could put forward two theories.

1—One says that if I am at a given location on the Earth’s equator, and I am out in the open, in 24 hours I will see the level of sunshine go through one complete cycle from dark to light.

2—If I put 56 numbered tiles numbered 1 – 56 into a bin, shake them up well, draw 6 and bet $1.00 on them in the next Megamillions lottery, I will win the Jackpot.

I think any rational human, regardless of whether both are only theories or not, knows which one has the higher probability of being true. Theory one is almost certain to prove true. Theory two is almost certain to prove false. It has only a 1 in 176 million chance of being true.

Science is not about certainties. There are none. The scientific method gives us a way to find theories that have a high probability of proving true on each successive test. Thus the chances of a theory widely regarded as useful by the scientific community interested in it is probably more useful than one somebody with no knowledge of the specialty comes up with out of thin air or some ancient writings they have found.

crazyivan's avatar

@Rarebear Thank you.

@iamthemob Skepticism is about being able to distinguish between overwhelming evidence and nonsense. It’s about studying scientific consensus. The simple act of doubting things isn’t skepticism, it’s selective idiocy.

iamthemob's avatar

@crazyivan

Fine. I’ll admit that I’m a selective idiot if you can describe to me, point by point, how evolution is the theory that describes genetic diversity on the planet, through a mountain of evidence. However, you must show that the facts referenced are evidence for the theory of evolution only (i.e., that they cannot be interpreted in another way) and also that evolution as a theory predicted each piece of evidence as it was discovered after the basic propositions of the theory had been laid out.

You seem to think that the debate is still about creationism, intelligent design, or evolution. This is an assumption, of course. Skepticism is not about studying scientific consensus – consensus if unproven is an agreement between thinkers that this is the best explanation we think we have for now. That does not make the consensus a fact…just an idea.

And no one is talking about the simple act of doubting. There are specific, reasonable critiques of evolution that have nothing to do with support of any other theory…but only the problems with the theory of evolution.

cockswain's avatar

You’re looking for absolutes, and you’re not going to find them. Saying “I want to see data that can ONLY be interpreted one way” isn’t a rational statement in science. Hence the difference between theories and laws. Actually, I don’t know of any laws, so maybe I’m wrong.

Think of a limit function in calculus, one where a function infinitely approaches a limit and never gets there. That’s kind of how a view a theory. You can just keep getting closer and closer and closer, but there will still be room for skepticism and (an increasingly smaller) chance this theory could one day be disproved.

The mountain of evidence I still contend is in the video I linked, or rather will direct you in the right direction. You need to read a book to get the full picture. If you want someone to find you an appropriate book, @Rarebear had a suggestion or else maybe someone else can recommend one. Otherwise, get a molecular biology or anthropology text book at a library and just learn how it works. I’m happy to answer specific questions, but if you want to see what you refer to as “the mountain,” delve deep into the genetics of ERVs and chromosomal fusion as it pertains to humans and chimpanzees. If you’re interested in more global genetics, find a topic more suitable for you.

But you’re not going to get every detail from us in brief snippets, which seems to be your desire. Post questions on here about genetics and evolution that are specific, and people can help, like “why do some animals have more chromosomes than humans,” or “how do genomes grow”. How fair would it be for me to ask “how do I program in C++” and then want others to tell me everything I want to know on here? I’d end up getting advised to read a book or take a class. You can get help here for direction and clarification if you’re serious about really studying this, but no one can just write it all down.

You seem to have a scientific mind though. Do you work in that field?

Rarebear's avatar

The children’s book I mentioned obviously won’t go into detail of genetics, as it’s written for a 9 year old. It talks about mutation and DNA, but just describes what happens and a general mechanism. If you want a more detailed book, I recommend the Coyne book. Dawkins has a new one out that I haven’t read yet but has good reviews, called The Greatest Story Ever Told” or something like that (too lazy to look it up).

iamthemob's avatar

Specific question – how does the math work out?

More broken down – how many new species should we see over a certain time period? And how does this differ between organisms which reproduce asexually and those that reproduce through sex?

Another – is the assumption that a beneficial mutation that occurs in one species and is passed down to descendants is generally something that will be expressed as a dominant feature? Or will it be recessive? If recessive, doesn’t that require that multiple members experience the same or similar mutations, whether at the same time or at different times? And if dominant, doesn’t that require that the beneficial mutation also be present in an organism that can outbreed (either through selection or through another natural tendency) the other members of the species in order for it to replace that species?

Finally, for complex organisms with longer life spans, shouldn’t we see evolution slowing down? Further, why don’t we see more intermediate examples today in a more localized environment? I’m concerned about the assumption that, should a new species evolve from another due to a beneficial mutation, that the species will always be more efficient and therefore replace that former species..

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob
“how many new species should we see over a certain time period?”

It doesn’t really work like that. If there is an environmental pressure, there will be speciation quicker than if the environment is static. Bacteria evolve over days. Sharks take millions of years.

“Another – is the assumption that a beneficial mutation that occurs in one species and is passed down to descendants is generally something that will be expressed as a dominant feature?”
It’s really a question of phenotypic expression—and the gene can be recessive or dominant. Also, it’s not a question of one species “replacing” another species by evolution. It’s just that one population of species slowly changes as the environment changes.

For example, let’s say you have a large population of zorks in a valley. Half these zorks migrate to another valley. For awhile, both populations are still zorks. But as both populations are isolated, over many years (which can totally vary upon the lifespan of the zorks, how often they have reproductive cycles and the environment), the two isolated populations will slowly become different. After awhile, the two zork species will no longer be able to mate, and wa-la, you have another species. (I choose to call them lorads.)

“Finally, for complex organisms with longer life spans, shouldn’t we see evolution slowing down?” Evolution is slow, regardless. If you have a species that turns over quickly (like bacteria) it will happen very quickly. If you have a species that turns over very slowly (like a turtle), it will happen slowly.

“Further, why don’t we see more intermediate examples today in a more localized environment?” We do. A famous example is the peppered moth of London, but there are countless other examples.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob Adding to @Rarebear‘s example of speciation in divergent environments, we see strong examples of it in isolated island populations. That is why the Galápagos Islands were such fertile soil to stir Darwin’s mind into realizing what was causing speciation.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

It doesn’t really work like that. If there is an environmental pressure, there will be speciation quicker than if the environment is static. Bacteria evolve over days. Sharks take millions of years.

- shouldn’t we be able to estimate speciation over time since the last mass extinction/appearance of mammals?

It’s really a question of phenotypic expression—and the gene can be recessive or dominant. Also, it’s not a question of one species “replacing” another species by evolution. It’s just that one population of species slowly changes as the environment changes.

- I’m asking a question about beneficial mutation, and you seem to answer with a description of how environmental pressure and isolation of populations could lead to speciation. Evolution depends on mutation to describe extreme differences, and I’m asking how this works.

We do. A famous example is the peppered moth of London, but there are countless other examples.

The peppered moth isn’t an example of evolution so much as natural selection. My questions are not about natural selection so much as speciation. That just represents an increase in qualities in the general population of a species when those qualities became beneficial to it’s survival. But a peppered moth still bred with a peppered moth. Selective breeding is another example of this – but no one has produced a breed of dog that is suddenly not a dog.

@ETpro

In isolated island populations, was there an example of a common ancestor in the isolated populations, and were the populations sufficiently different that they were different species (i.e., they could no longer mate?).

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob There are numerous examples of separate species that trace back to a common ancestor through fossil record, but are now so separate they can no longer interbreed. It happens in island populations, and in animals that migrate and are then cut off in their new locale by natural phenomena.

While we do not have the infamous missing link fossil of the human, great ape ancestor, we do have a large selection of fossils moving up both human, chimpanzee and gorilla chains to the modern form. That’s why the bulk of concerned scientists are highly confident that a common ancestor exists for those three branches of the Hominid tree. See http://archives.aaas.org/docs/resolutions.php?doc_id=450

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro

I don’t understand your link. Please explain how that addresses my question.

There are numerous examples of separate species that trace back to a common ancestor through fossil record, but are now so separate they can no longer interbreed. It happens in island populations, and in animals that migrate and are then cut off in their new locale by natural phenomena.

This is another assertion. You already gave the example of island populations. I asked if these populations shared a common ancestor among them and were unable to interbreed. If they can interbreed, again, it’s evidence of adaptation and not necessarily speciation.

I would appreciate a link to anything showing the numerous examples of separate species tracing back to a common ancestor through fossil record if possible.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob I provided the link to back up what I said about the majority of scientists concerned with the topic accepting human evolution as our best theory of human origin, not as a link to answer the question about speciation of isolated populations.

As to a link on that topic, try http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic497545.files/Coyne%201992.pdf

It gives space to not only the science that is known, but what remains to be determined.

crazyivan's avatar

@iamthemob First of all, mad cred for having the most appropriate screen name to thread compatability I’ve ever seen.

And secondly, if you want, I can apply your standard to any statement in the universe and cast dispersions on it. Nothing can be proved to the ridiculous standard you’re proposing here. I love how you seem to think it’s the responsibility of everyone else on this thread to pull you out of your nonsensical fantasy world. You ask for a link to this or proof of that, but what would be the point? You’ve made it clear that no amount of reason will sway you, the standard you’ve created is so assanine that you could use it to suggest that up was down and still nobody could disprove it absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

But don’t let me interupt you from fantasy land.

cockswain's avatar

Just to add a few points to @Rarebear and @ETpro:

When you ask about mathematically at what rate and how many species should we see develop in a given period of time, I’m completely with @Rarebear‘s statement to the effect that you are trying to isolate the natural selection variable component from the genetic component. Although maybe there is math I’m not an expert on that would say “all things equal, all mutative processes combined should result in this animal evolving into a new species in X time”. So look up all the types of mutations on wikipedia and you’ll see how complex it would be to do that, and I don’t know if a team has crunched the numbers. Either way, the environment, selective pressures, gene flow, and genetic drift are all factors affecting gene pools too.

As far as the question about if beneficial mutations will become dominant, not necessarily. Possibly many beneficial recessive mutations have occurred/are occurring but bred out of existence. Some mutations may be immediately dominant and beneficial. And also, not all genetics is a black and white as dominant/recessive. Some heterozygous alleles are expressed differently than dominant. In other words, some of the recessive gen “bleeds through” and the dominant one is somewhat but not completely suppressing expression of the recessive trait.

To back up @Rarebear the longer the generation of a species, the slower the rate of evolution. That’s how DDT resistant mosquitoes popped up so quickly.

ETpro's avatar

@cockswain “the longer the generation of a species, the slower the rate of evolution. That’s how DDT resistant mosquitoes popped up so quickly.” And also why fruit flies and bacteria are favorite research species for testing how evolution proceeds, and watching it happen within a single human lifetime.

cockswain's avatar

Agreed. On a related note, I was just thinking about how the effect of those with a natural resistance to the bubonic plague has biased the subsequent gene pool for a large portion of humans since that event. Any disaster will do that really, but this one being hundreds of years ago has a more profound impact than recent ones for a look back. Also, I was reading how the French-Canadians were founded by around 8000 people, and the gene pool of the current population has much less diversity than is observed in France today. Another example of the founder effect.

Another interesting thing I learned a while ago was about sickle cell anemia and malaria. Why wasn’t sickle-cell anemia bred out of existence? Because those with the affliction also have an immunity to malaria because their blood cells can’t uptake oxygen like a healthy cell, which is an unsuitable environment for the virus. So even though those with sickle cell still had shorter lifespans, they were able to reproduce before death, unlike the children dying of malaria. There’s an interesting case-study of natural selection for sure.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain, @ETpro -

The link provided was corrupted. :-(

You have provided good, firm examples of natural selection, adaptation, etc. – those are the points that I would agree have strong, firm, mountainous amounts of evidence supporting them. But resistance within a species being spread through the population of the species doesn’t provide any evidence of it being the reason for speciation. I’ve seen discussions on fruitfly experiments showing that those raised on x diet and those raised on y diet in isolation when combined show mating preference for those of a similar diet. But they are still all fruitflies at that point.

I’ve read too about the bubonic plague resistance as being theorized to explain the higher rate of HIV resistance in people of European descent, and the adaptive features of sickle shaped red blood cells in protecting African populations against malaria infection. But I doubt that anyone would attempt to argue that would be speciation among the human race.

My sole skepticism is related to evidence regarding major, major leaps in speciation. Eyes, ears, lungs, fins, CNS, brains…the things that SUDDENLY seem to be there.

It seems at this point that, when looked at solely from an evidentiary standpoint, “mutation did it” “black matter does it” “god did it” and “something made it that way” all have similar
standing. My concern is why there isn’t more diversity in the theories (pun intended).

PS – as to earlier question, I am a lawyer. My undergraduate degree, however, was in psychology from a cognitive neuroscience perspective, where I studied the biology component (including the evolutionary theory) under Ken Miller.

@crazyivan

I’m glad to see you have GA support! I’m confident that this discussion is productive when my questions seem to be ignored or evaded regarding the mutation and not selection or adaptation elements of a macroevolutionary theory, but personal attacks about my character seem to be “Great Answer“s.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob I believe that resistance being spread through a species was brought forward as an example of natural selection at towr, not as the single explanation of speciation. A streptococcus virus that is resistant to penicillin is still a streptococcus virus. But enough little changes will eventually result in speciation.

Sorry about the bad link to the Coyne article. It’s not working for me either. I got it to work by selecting view as HTML. Here is a link for that. http://www.pdfdownload.org/pdf2html/pdf2html.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fisites.harvard.edu%2Ffs%2Fdocs%2Ficb.topic497545.files%2FCoyne%2525201992.pdf&images=yes And also, try http://people.ibest.uidaho.edu/~bree/courses/32_Hoekstra_2007.pdf

To all in this thread, I ran across a great article today that provides a checklist to use in separating science and junk science. See http://www.opposingviews.com/i/science-versus-everything-else

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob But they’re not “suddenly” there, that’s what you’re not getting. Take eyes, for example, there are a whole range of eyes in nature from light sensitive cells all the way to highly developed eyes like ours. See that children’s evolution book I linked to above, or the Coyne book to understand this more. Same things with ears, lungs, fins, brains, etc. Nothing suddenly appears—it all changes gradually.

crazyivan's avatar

@ETpro thanks for that last link. That’s one I’ll have to hold on to.

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro

Thanks! The last one in that paragraph works (are they the same article? I google searched the key words and the evo-devo seems it would be the most relevant response).

Correct me if I’m wrong – and I’ll admit that this is based on a more brief review than it deserves – but isn’t the article more about the conflict in the theory as to what the most likely candidate for genetic mutation as an element of speciation? I think this is the best so far, but again, my problem is with the fact that the mutation element seems almost completely unsupported, whereas differentiation within closely related species seems easier to support with the other elements alone.

And nice junk science article. The thing is, the gene mutation issues appear to be subject to the last rule (jargon, etc.). I am not saying that it is junk science, but this is the part that I find there to be little evidence and oversimplification.

When this happens, my problem with universal acceptance of theory is that newly discovered facts are interpreted to fit with the theory, or there is a search for facts which support it while ignoring facts which might be interpreted in a manner contradicting the theory. It’s a concern, not an accusation – let me emphasize that. I don’t understand why the scientific community won’t seem to accept that research should be happening where the facts are analyzed in a vacuum, and we should be asking “looking at these facts, how can we build a theory to describe everything that’s going on?” rather than “looking at these facts, how do they fit the theory?”

Also, I think this FAQ page on observations of speciation is an interesting reference point for the thread generally. Most people say it’s just a theory because they are more willing to accept creationism, I’m sure, and aren’t educating themselves on the evolutionary arguments. However, many are saying it because it is in fact a theory, and they aren’t getting satisfying responses for people who get on the offensive with the “mountains of evidence” mantras. You’ll notice that people, even the most educated, can rarely point out examples of speciation coming from the methods which clearly show adaptation. This is a real problem if you are attempting to advocate a scientific theory, and leads me to believe that many who accept evolution are as ignorant as any other, just in a different capacity.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

I understand that form of development in terms of development within a species or groups of closely related species. My problem is still with the issue of how these work when we talk about how we have mammals from not mammals, etc….

I think there may be two or three definitional issues or basic assumptions that might be interfering here:

(1) the definition of species (see the FAQ link above)

(2) how the species are separated into classes (e.g., what reptiles are closely related to amphibians, etc.)

(3) the idea that one type of species (e.g., fish) represent a lower step on the evolutionary ladder (e.g., humans)

The problem with communication between the parties involved may be that there are different assumptions about these basics.

cockswain's avatar

We also aren’t talking about speciation anymore, but rather how did phylums, classes, orders, and families differentiate through genetic mutations. Speciation as observed by the Galapagos finches is easily explained through natural selection and genetic drift. You want to know how reptiles vs birds vs primates came from bacteria. The fossil record is an indicator, but I’m going to have to dig for a while to find some info you’ll find sufficient. In the meanwhile, you can look up Hox genes and think about those.

iamthemob's avatar

Yes. But that’s where I think most of the people approaching evolution with a skeptical lens rather than a colored one have the issue.

So when critics hear these common arguments over and over again and not the one that you’re going to dig for, it becomes much the same as hearing the same arguments for creationism over and over again.

cockswain's avatar

Most critics abandon this line of questioning far earlier, sometimes due to limited intelligence, sometimes due to not wanting it to be true. Regardless, the information is out there and requires more and more of a background to put together. Any layperson who has followed this thread closely stands to benefit from it.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Well, in terms of how to classify species there are two competing points of view. One is a cladistic, and the other linnean. I know people who are in each camp and they both think the other camp is totally off base. There are also competing theories of gradualism (put forth by Dawkins, et. al.), and punctuated equilbrium (Gould, et al). But stuff like this is more esoteric evolutionary biology and the basic facts of evolution and speciation by natural selection are not questioned by anybody.

In terms of “what defines a species”, at its core, is genetics. If organisms are genetically similar enough to mate and have offspring that can also have offspring, then they are the same species. If they can’t, they aren’t.

And technically it’s incorrect to say that something is a “lower step on the evolutionary ladder”. All species are evolved, they just evolve into different ways. For example, chimps and humans came from a common ape-like ancestor. Chimps went one way and humans the other. But that doesn’t mean that chimps are “lower” on the evolutionary ladder.

But it is interesting that you should mention fish and humans. Cladists say that humans and lobe-finned fish belong in the same clade. Linneans say that’s silly.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

I think there are still some issues with microevolution (speciation through natural selection and isolation), but I think that it’s reasonable to accept it as the best theory.

The problem is is that people who are generally and intelligently asking about or stating that evolution is just a theory, they are talking about macroevolution (the analogy of microevolutionary theory used to explain how very different species developed). If you look through the thread, all those answering with the proof for evolution reference the microevolutionary theory. The macroevolutionary theory is the disputed one, which depends on explanations from esoteric evolutionary biology to make the entire theory work.

So we’re not talking about stupid questions here, and I find it disturbing that they are characterized as such.

cockswain's avatar

I don’t think these are stupid questions at all.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Hm. I don’t see where I said your questions were stupid. In fact, I rather like them. But if I implied that, I didn’t mean it. Usually I don’t give evolution debates the time of day because they usually degenerate into flame fests.

I understand your macroevolution/microevolution dichotomy, but it’s a false dichotomy. Evolution either happens, or it doesn’t. Species either get formed by evolution by mutation and natural selection or they don’t. So-called “microevolution” will lead to “macroevolution” given enough time, isolation from the original species, and environmental change.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain, @Rarebear

I’m not singling you guys out, and I’m not singling out my question. ;-)

It’s more that the general reaction to the general forms of these questions is more along the lines of “It’s so simple, there is mountains of evidence, why don’t you get it?” rather than “Oh, you must be talking about this part of evolution. Yes, there’s a lot of theorizing about that…what are you wondering about it?”

If the assumption is the latter, there might be more productive conversation. If you’ll go through the thread, I think you’ll see that people answering get stuck in the microevolution argument and then vent frustration, and people asking form the macroevolution scale just start asking overgeneralized questions to show their frustrations at having heard all that before.

However, I disagree with @Rarebear about the false dichotomy. Neither has been proven. Observations of speciation (and I mean true speciation, where the members of one group are totally and permanently unable to mate with each other – which excludes infertile hybrids and preferential mating patterns) seem to be questionable if existent. HOWEVER, I think it’s reasonable that, given enough time, it could happen, and probably did and does.

But to have drastic changes, leaps, etc. like we see, where the diversity is so great and so wide, is explained only by the mutation argument it seems…which seems more along the lines of the dark matter argument for making certain observations fit the big bang theory, or to make the theory of gravity consistent with the big bang. It’s an essential element to the story that appears to be pure theory. I can totally accept it as a viable explanation…but to say that proof of microevolution is the same as proving macroevolution is perhaps preventing us from exploring alternative theoretical courses.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Okay, I’m going to get in an expert to answer your question of speciation.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

I have not been here in over a year, but I’ll try and make a contribution to the thread. This first one will be short, as I have only a little time right now.

“Observations of speciation (and I mean true speciation, where the members of one group are totally and permanently unable to mate with each other – which excludes infertile hybrids and preferential mating patterns) seem to be questionable if existent.”

I am not sure if I understand what you mean, but I think you are saying that 1) we haven’t observed true speciation and 2) the existence of hybrids is an argument that cannot be used to prove speciation. Neither of these assertions is correct.

“Observe” needs to be defined. As evolution is generally a slow process, we don’t usually see it happening on a time frame that is apparent during our brief lives. But that is no more an argument against speciation than the fact that we cannot watch the continents move is an argument against plate tectonics. Viewed in this light, to say that we have not seen speciation is patently false, as the well-documented series of transitional fossils for so many animals show.

As for 2, the existence of hybrids, species intergradations, ring species and the like is exactly what we would expect to see, given the theory of evolution. Species do not appear de novo, fully-formed (as we would expect in a creationist account)- they evolve gradually. So, for example, in a ring species like the circumpolar gulls of the genus Larus, as illustrated here:
http://cairnarvon.rotahall.org/pics/larusring.png
herring gulls can interbreed with American herring gulls, American herring gulls can breed with Vega gulls, and so on down the chain, with areas between the range of each species where interbreeding can occur. However, the lesser back-backed gull, at the end of the chain, cannot breed with the herring gull.

Ivan's avatar

The triumphant return of @crisw is upon us!

iamthemob's avatar

@crisw

You’re reframing the argument here in a nature which makes it problematic.

(1) the assumption that you’re resting your first argument regarding observation of speciation is that lack of the observation disproves evolution. I’m not arguing that. I’m determining whether there has been observation of speciation to the extent that scientists have been able to point to isolation of population, natural selection, etc. as the cause of the speciation. Of course this isn’t an argument against the theory – it’s not an argument at all! What it is is a comment against the assumption that the concept has been proven and observed. Further, resort to the fossil record is kind of a red herring, as (a) it is notoriously incomplete (and admittedly so), and (b) fossils are both interpreted to be something that they’re not (analysis is not flawless) and fossils do not automatically prove the theory, but seem in many cases to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the theory. That doesn’t mean that interpreting them in such a manner is incorrect, but it does bring up concerns about confirmation bias.

(2) You’ve misinterpreted my statement – hybrid infertile offspring, species gradations, etc., are strongly suggestive that speciation might work through these mechanisms, but they don’t show that the mechanisms are what causes speciation as the species are not, clearly, seperate species at this point. If they can still interbreed, then they are not genetically dissimilar enough to be different species. The example given is the same as any other where we were not witness to the speciation over time. Again, it can be shown as consistent with the theory, but that’s it.

Rarebear's avatar

@ivan I asked her very nicely

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear ahh, is this the big guns? :-)

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob One of three I asked. She’s far more expert in evolutionary biology than I am.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob Regarding this yes, that’s the same article I tried to link to in PDF. And yes, it covers the debate. This seemed to be an area that you found of interest.

About evidence of mutation causing major adaptations, we can easily produce that experimentally in fruit flies. We’ve gotten all sorts of interesting Frankenstein results such as flys with a leg where their proboscis should be, ones with extra sets of wings, or no wings. Granted most adaptations are not very workable. But even this is exactly what we would expect. And occasionally one comes along which is an actual improvement.and is genetically transmissible.

For more on observed instances of speciation, see this. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro

That FAQ page is fascinating. Of course, that’s why I referenced you to it in my post above. ;-)

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob My bad. Should have read the entire thread before firing off an answer. Oh well, it’s a worthwhile enough FAQ to deserve two links :-)

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

“I’m determining whether there has been observation of speciation to the extent that scientists have been able to point to isolation of population, natural selection, etc. as the cause of the speciation.”

Yes, there have, Many of them. Brown bears evolved into polar bears due to isolation (ice floes and the like) and natural selection (white bears are better at hunting seals than brown ones were). And brown bears and polar bears can and do still interbreed occasionally. This is just one example.

“Further, resort to the fossil record is kind of a red herring”

I didn’t just mention the fossil record. The gulls are all extant species. And how can we show evolution without referring to the fossil record- what do you propose? Of course the fossil record is subject to interpretation- but the point is that the interpretation is informed by advances in science, and is bolstered by simultaneous observations in many other areas (biological clocks, patterns of distribution, studies of extant animals, etc.)

“If they can still interbreed, then they are not genetically dissimilar enough to be different species. ”

Not true. The biological species concept doesn’t require that the species cannot interbreed, only that some isolating mechanism exists that usually prevents such breeding. That isolating mechanism can be genetic, behavioral, geographical- but it doesn’t require a complete absence of cross-breeding.

You seem to have avoided my point about the lack of need for personal observation over time. Are you as skeptical about plate tectonics as you are about evolution? Do you only view as valid theories that can be proven through direct personal observation?

iamthemob's avatar

@crisw

I didn’t just mention the fossil record. The gulls are all extant species. And how can we show evolution without referring to the fossil record- what do you propose? Of course the fossil record is subject to interpretation- but the point is that the interpretation is informed by advances in science, and is bolstered by simultaneous observations in many other areas (biological clocks, patterns of distribution, studies of extant animals, etc.)

Of course you didn’t. But again, my initial framing of speciation was one where the result was not variation within a species, but one where there was a new species reproductively isolated from the old. Of course, that’s discussed next…

Not true. The biological species concept doesn’t require that the species cannot interbreed, only that some isolating mechanism exists that usually prevents such breeding. That isolating mechanism can be genetic, behavioral, geographical- but it doesn’t require a complete absence of cross-breeding.

But the BSC is most useful in certain contexts only. And it’s not representative of the common perception of speciation. BSC seems to be a less robust model for determining speciation for laboratory use, and from what I’ve read it is used as the model more reflective of nature. Unambiguous examples of speciation using other models (e.g., where reproductive separation becomes permanent) don’t appear to exist. The problem is that using the BSC to show evidence of speciation, which is then used as evidence to support an evolutionary model, is drawing an analogy. Evolution requires that species develop separately to the point of reproductive incompatibility. Is if fair to say we’ve seen speciation in this context because it fits the definition of a species set by the BSC?

You seem to have avoided my point about the lack of need for personal observation over time. Are you as skeptical about plate tectonics as you are about evolution? Do you only view as valid theories that can be proven through direct personal observation?

And you seem to have missed my initial lead in. You appear to want to categorize this as an argument against the validity of evolution. Personally, I have no interest in proving it wrong. However, I take issue with those skeptical of evolution being dismissed – that’s the very nature of the question the OP asked. The first sentence in the details is that the statements in a theory are already true. If so, they must be proven. It therefore is a huge drawback that it cannot be personally observed, and it is a cop out to say personal observation is unnecessary.

Changing the topic to the issue to plate tectonics is a rhetorical strategy and has nothing to do with a conversation about the theory of evolution (unless we are discussing aspects of reproductive isolation occurring due to continental drift, etc.). Asking whether I believe that a valid theory is only one that can be proven through direct observation is similarly so…but a more understandable question. I believe that a valid theory need not be proven through direct personal observation…I believe that PROVEN theories need to be proven through direct personal observation.

My main concern over the absence, however, is that as data is uncovered there may be a bias toward viewing it as falling in line or not falling in line with evolutionary theory…and not as data. I also have a serious problem when data is claimed as evidence for the evolutionary theory rather than consistent with the evolutionary theory. For me, a theory is valid as long as it can fairly accurately describe the information currently in possession. However, a valid theory can be based on nearly no data…and although we have vast amounts of data regarding biological development, we have the tiniest percentage of what we know is out there.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Her point about plate techtonics wasn’t trying to deflect the point, but to show that you can have proven theories that cannot necessarily be directly observed in a lifetime like evolution.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

In a way, perhaps. However, of course, that can just be said, and if argued, then clarified. Also, she’s discussing valid, and not proven, theories. The problem with using these terms interchangeably is of course public perception translates it all into fact.

Still, it’s a rhetorical strategy. There is no need to bring in examples of other theories if the theory can stand on its own. I also view it as the slow, subtle introduction of a straw man into the argument (a generalization of the skepticism into a claim that the standards set by any skeptic are too demanding too meet). These hypergeneralizations of a skeptical approach to evolution can be found in most discussions regarding proof for or against evolution, as well as those who are skeptical of it…sadly on threads here and here. It seems like there’s a very, very low opinion of anyone who’s critical of evolution.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Well, this brings us back to the original poster’s question. You used the phrase “proven theory”. A scientific theory is a body of knowledge that has been shown to be correct by repeated verified experimentation. Nothing in science is absolute, but for something to be given the word “theory” it means, for our purposes, “fact.” So the theory of plate techtonics is “fact”, the theory of evolution is “fact”, the theory of relativity is “fact”, etc. Will these theories ever be toppled by another better theory? Perhaps. Newtonian laws of motion was toppled by relativity (sort of). Lamarckism was replaced by Darwinism, which was modified by the Neodarwinists.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear – I used the phrase proven theory to clearly state what I meant – something that had been proven through direct and personal observation. No one is arguing that anything needs to be absolute. Theories should never be described as fact – it’s intellectually dishonest and clearly confusing.

THIS is the problem. When you frame the issue this way, as a fact, as proven, skepticism sounds like ignorance (well, if it’s fact, how can you doubt it) rather than the application of critical analysis to the theoretical holes. And evolutionary supporters never delve into the analysis of the theory to learn how to respond properly to the questions (see the FAQ referenced twice above).

Rarebear's avatar

And what I’m saying is that theories don’t need to be proven by direct and personal observation. As Cris said, I’ve never seen the plates on the Earth move, but I have no doubt that plate techtonics describes geology. I have never personally seen speciation, but I have no doubt that speciation happens through evolution by natural selection.

Has evolution answered every question? Of course not. That’s why there are evolutionary biologists. But the fact that there are still questions doesn’t invalidate the basic facts of evolution. Skeptics such as Cris, Ivan, and me never, ever, accept anything on blind faith. We view the world through a critical lens and always ask, “What is the evidence?” The evidence doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be good enough to convince.

iamthemob's avatar

@Rarebear

I’m confused. Do you think we’re disagreeing about the general statements about theory you’ve said here? I don’t think you’re saying anything different than what I said in the post immediately above.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Possibly not, I’m tired. I’ve been up all night in the ICU and have been popping online in my down time and I’ve stopped thinking cleanly awhile ago.

cockswain's avatar

I’m not sure where the point is at the moment. Since I continue to be in full agreement with @Rarebear and @crisw (who I hope shows up more in the future), I need to see if I can still clearly understand what @iamthemob is taking exception to at this point in the discussion.

While it’s been acknowledged the theory of evolution has discontinuities due to the existence of unknowns, like being able to yet unearth a missing link fossil, no one is calling it a law. But previously you seemed more concerned about evidence about how do fins vs wings vs brains vs thumbs form, but now you’re back to speciation. Originally you were more interested in finding evidence of macro evolution, and comparatively speciation is microevolution (just comparatively for this point). Speciation seems it has been pretty well explained on this thread, but the conversation is back to it again. Am I mistaken?

Again, @iamthemob no one is debating if a theory doesn’t have a remote possibility of being disproven at some point. It is possible that aspects of current theory could fall apart someday, but the chances of it being shredded are nearly nil. I feel you seem to really want to hammer home the fact that many evolutionists are dismissive of creationists for being close-minded, ignorant, etc… However you would like to reveal, that despite what the global evidence in support of evolution suggests, there are pockets here and there of discontinuity that still exist. And therefore it is wrong to blindly dismiss ALL skeptical creationists as idiots. And that point is well-taken if that is the case. Skeptics (not all skeptics must be creationists) that are intimately familiar with the details of evolution are entitled to ask these questions to reveal where the current holes in the theory still exist. I’m very hesitant to even call some of the things we don’t “know” as holes, but it is really parts where we’re making inferences because we see these processes in many places but haven’t conclusively mapped it out in ALL places. I guess what I’m asking is, let’s say we were able to map the genome for wombats back to paramecium, and rattlesnakes back to some virus, showing every species along the way. Would you want to point out that although we’ve shown that for the wombat and snake, we haven’t for the penguin, human, and toad? Thus making evolution still “just a theory”?

Correct any bad assumptions I’ve made about your stance, but I’m not sure where this is going any more. Way back, I asked what your position on evolution is, and how do you think humans evolved. Are you playing devil’s advocate to show doubters aren’t always irrational, or do you doubt the theory because it isn’t a law?

iamthemob's avatar

- the fin/wings/brains etc. was more like the CNS/brains/lungs when I characterized it. Less about speciation from the BCS more adaptive microevolutionary scale, and you’re right, more about macroevolution (issues about irreducible complexity and full shifts from one environment to another). So no, not back on the microevolution. Never was there.

- it is mostly about the dismissal of skeptics, because it’s harmful on both sides. As I noted, the public information becomes more along the lines of evolution as fact rather than theory, and an argument about how evolution is right by showing how they thing ID/Creationism is wrong. If you look back on comments – many made by members here – on past threads (I’ll post them again here and here) regarding skepticism of evolution, and…I have to be honest…they seem incredibly conclusory, self-congratulatory, and arrogant.

When asking for some support/explanation/answers to questions, the answers on the thread would often link out to petitions signed by scientists showing evolution was fact or the “science vs. everything” on the opposing views website. Information that was proposed was this:

I’d like to recommend a book. It’s a childrens book, but it’s probably the best explanation of evolution I have ever read in such a short piece of work.
Evolution by Dan Loxton
If you want an adult book that’s not too dense:
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

A children’s book. Really. I’m already halfway through Coyne’s book, and I’m not impressed. Let me know if I should stop if I already have Dawkins and Miller on my shelf.

The problem is this information doesn’t require any thought from us…but acceptance. The Coyne book uses many of the rhetorical strategy in this thread – “mountains” of evidence, etc., but it doesn’t really clarify to which parts of the theory it’s applying. Further, although there’s a brief acknowledgment that the fossil record isn’t complete, there’s no discussion of fossils which are debatable, or ones that haven’t been identified, or how many are incomplete, or what was perhaps discovered that was inconsistent and disregarded. When you’re dealing with this type of evidence, which requires a good deal more interpretation to even determine what it is, and you’re assembling these organisms piece by piece, it’s particularly susceptible to all kinds of biases in the interpretation.

These are significant holes. I’m flabbergasted that this seems so hard to admit (I know that it’s agreed that the theory is not perfect, but it’s honestly a very qualified admittance, and the way it’s always written is that we shouldn’t expect anything more from it).

None of this is meant to be personal – although I’m sure at this point the caveat is unnecessary. I am skeptical of many of the elements of the macroevolutionary element of the theory, and remain so. I think that it’s premature to settle on a model considering out maximum .1% familiarity with the estimated species on earth. Saying that, I’m going to direct you back to your first post on this thread:

It’s just ignorance, and those trying to find evidence to debunk it because they don’t want to believe it. I wish we’d just make it mandatory curriculum in high school. A lot of people can finish college without learning it. It seems like basic essential information to understanding the human experience. We’re animals, just the smartest on this planet.

This is an almost universally accepted characterization. But it really seems like it comes from the creationism/ID vs. evolution hype. If you’re going to argue your theory, argue your theory. The other side has nothing to do with it (until they do) ;-).

cockswain's avatar

So when someone asks an evolution question, I need to write at least ten thousand words and maybe assume there isn’t an understanding of meiosis? My first statement on the thread was appropriate at that point and it would have been silly for me to respond otherwise at that point. We’ve been dissecting the topic with a sharper knife since then, and personally I’d like to see it continue that way.

The children’s book @Rarebear recommended was waaaay back, so I don’t see why it is relevant to you at this point. You’ve demonstrated enough understanding of the material that no one has recently recommended you read a children’s book.

I read the links you referenced, and I get your point. Many supporters don’t have a full understanding, and I agree that’s a different form of fundamentalism. I think this thread has evolved from that type of thinking, but you’re referencing it again.

I have no disagreement with your philosophy of not accepting things on insufficient evidence. I don’t think any of the current active participants on this thread do either.

So you’re reiterating your stance that you believe the theory is being accepted with insufficient evidence. Please reclarify—what specifically do you consider to be the significant holes the greatly undercut the theory in general? Also (and for the third time), how do you believe humans came into existence on this planet?

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

You shouldn’t really have to do the 10,000 words. I just always start with the micro v. macroevolution, rather than assuming ignorance.

@Rarebear‘s recommendation was still halfway through the thread…at a point which the in depth discussion had already gone on for a while…and after, personally, I had already said I had been taught by Ken Miller.

The thing is, I know that you don’t disagree. It’s simply that there’s a strong, almost overwhelming tendency, to assume a superior position. I know that it comes from some level of experience. But who cares, I say. If a person has specific questions, they should ask. They’ll quickly reveal if they have actually thought deeply about the subject.

As for me, I have no idea how humans came into existence. The further in time we go back, the less certain I become. I am actually fairly confident in the idea of common ape-like ancestors. I also think that, considering human beings can trace their lineage back to south africa and just six hundred mating pairs, that we represent an extreme form of reproductive isolation and mutation leaps, I’m willing to think it’s us (although this is later than most would probably want to think back to). I don’t really think that my position affects the discussion, however.

I don’t accept fossil record evidence, however, as being even remotely helpful in terms of supporting the theory – it just seems that so far it has met the model’s expectations. I don’t feel that spontaneous mutation is anything but what people see as the most likely explanation – I think that it is better than “dark matter” as a big-bang apologetic, but still think it’s essentially unsupported. Finally, I really don’t see how the timeline works out – speciation appears to speed up once mammals make it on the scene, and although this might be expected if we consider a potential exponential effect in speciation and a greater direct trade of genetic information through sexual reproduction, and greater and more various competition, I would think this also should be balanced out by the increase in the generational span. The whale example feels particularly problematic – the hippo ancestor changed into a whale in about the same time frame we developed from the ape common ancestor. Sure, the development rates are random by theory – but that seems really, really random. Also, there’s still the creation of new genetic information through mutation – but there seem to be some parallel theories working outside the area of direct hereditary gene transmission that might help smooth this over.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

There is so much discussion going om here that many points have already been covered, so I will just jump to a few issues I have. So forgive me if this is a bit jumpy.

You have mentioned now many times your belief that species must experience total reproductive isolation in order to be considered species. I am not aware of any current scientific definition of a species that requires such separation; certainly the BSC does not. Why, specifically, do you insist on this criterion? What purpose does it serve other than bolstering the point that you are trying to make? What specific scientific reasons do you have for taking this stance? As I have pointed out, the messy gradations and blurring between species, especially at boundaries, is exactly what we would expect from evolution.

You have mentioned some key phrases that are usually used by ID proponents (“irreducible complexity” “creation of new genetic information” etc.) Do you believe that therte are systems that are irreducibly complex or that mutation is incapable of creating “new” information?

Your statements seem to indicate that you believe that evolutionary theory requires only “mutation” for species to come about. I haven’t seen you mention genetic drift, founder effects, strong selective pressures, etc. What role do you think that mutation plays in the evolution of new species?

“my initial framing of speciation was one where the result was not variation within a species, but one where there was a new species reproductively isolated from the old”
I gave examples of this, at least by my definition of “reproductive isolation”- polar bears and brown bears and herring and black-backed gulls. I didn’t see that you specifically addressed either of these examples.

You state over and over again that you believe that there are weaknesses in the theory of evolution and that you think that these tend to be glossed over. However (and I will admit I have not read every post in this thread) I haven’t seen any examples given by you of phenomena that cannot be explained by current evolutionary theory. You can’t show that a theory is wrong by complaining that available data fits it but that it might just be scientific bias, or by giving rather vague examples (“I think hippos evolved too quickly.”) Do you have any specific. concrete example of an event or process that you think definitely cannot be explained by current theory?

Sorry again for the hurried posts; it’s been a busy few days.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob You wrote “Further, resort to the fossil record is kind of a red herring.” Even finding the missing link fossil wouldn’t be of any interest if we reject all fossil evidence, would it? And again, you wrote: “I used the phrase proven theory to clearly state what I meant—something that had been proven through direct and personal observation.”

That may be your opinion, but I do not think it is widely shared. There are far too many things we need to solve with science but can’t directly observe. If we applied your standard to jurisprudence, no jury could find someone guilty if they were unable to time travel back and directly observe the defendant to see if s/he did it.

iamthemob's avatar

@crisw

BSC is not the universal understanding of how a species is defined. The general understanding of species in the general population, including that investing fully in the evolutionary theory, is that a new species develops when it is unable to reproduce (there is a large separation between them, e.g. chimpanzees and us). My concerns were independently reached and after research in response to this thread discovered ID comparisons. I believe that there are many mechanisms through which evolution works generally, and I have less issue with the microevolutionary mechanisms as I’ve already discussed. It’s when large changes develop that the theory appears to rely more on mutation issues (or other genetic devices), and the support for that seems more analogical than directly evidentiary. When you bring up the bears again, you said that they could interbreed as I remember. If you reread my statement, you’ll see that you gave examples of the exact opposite, for the most part. The holes I see are seen to fit with evolution in a soft manner, and for the FINAL time I am NOT trying to disprove evolution. I don’t understand why my example of the hippo whale is vague when you have given just birds and bears, but I can link out to more info if necessary. I also specifically agreed that genetic mutations etc. seemed more likely in us considering our lack of genetic diversity and complete reproductive isolation during the mega drought. Considering the sparsity of the data and the potentially incomplete aspects of it, I think it’s completely appropriate to consider bias issues.

I understand that you’re busy, I’m out the door myself. However, realize that I am skeptical about the theory. I am not asserting a position. I am detailing the nature of my issues. Therefore, it is not my responsibility to demonstrate the strength of my position. I don’t really believe your arguments are as strong as you seem to be characterizing them.

@ETpro

Hypothetical evidence is not evidence. The fact that the fossil record is notoriously incomplete in a manner where you can’t even assign a whole number to the percentage of it that we have available, at the highest estimate, using it as evidence is very, very suspect. And again, I think that when you use the phrase proven to a laymen, they think there are no problems. Aren’t you concerned with miscategorizing the issue? And further, that standard is actually close to the jurisprudential standard. The proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt. I have reasonable doubts about aspects of it.

Regardless, translating scientific proof to legal proof is just unfair. The stakes are completely different.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob Sorry about the childrens book. I hadn’t realized you’d taken classes from Ken Miller and were reading the Coyne book. Personally, I love the Loxton book—I’ve read it to my daughter at least 30 times (at her request). Of course they’re using rhetorical strategies, though. They’re not textbooks, but books for the lay public.

OK, back to the ICU for me.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob You wrote: “Hypothetical evidence is not evidence.” That takes us back to the courtroom example about the murderer who melted the murder weapon in acid. Is that person innocent because, despite the overwhelming wright of evidence saying guilty there is a missing link in the chain? I would not find that person not guilty based on that one missing point in the evidence.

Cirbryn's avatar

@iamthemob

Hi. I’m another one of the folks Rarebear asked to participate. I’ve been trying to get a handle on the discussion. I think a lot of the problem comes down to definitions, as well as maybe a few incorrect assumptions regarding how evolutionary theory works.

For instance there’s the definition of species: You wrote “The general understanding of species in the general population, including that investing fully in the evolutionary theory, is that a new species develops when it is unable to reproduce (there is a large separation between them, e.g. chimpanzees and us).”

By this definition, pairs of similar but commonly accepted separate species such as polar bears and brown bears, lions and tigers, horses and donkeys, wolves and coyotes, would be considered single species. We haven’t even thoroughly tested the idea that humans and chimps are unable to produce occasional hybrids. Your definition is not commonly accepted. That doesn’t mean you can’t introduce it as a new concept and relate that back to the theory of evolution, but you need to explain what you’re doing and acknowledge that it’s a new definition.

Similarly, “macroevolution” is defined as evolution of new species or higher taxa. In scientific circles that almost always means new species under the BSC. It never means new species by your definition. If you want to redefine macroevolution you have to do so explicitly.

And “microevolution” is not “speciation through natural selection and isolation”. Microevolution is any evolution that does not result in new (BSC) species or higher level taxa.

Then there’s your term “proven theory”. You said: “I used the phrase proven theory to clearly state what I meant – something that had been proven through direct and personal observation.” In science there is no such thing as a proven theory. Hypotheses and theories are tested by making predictions regarding evidence that will subsequently be found. The best tests also include predictions of evidence that, if found, would disprove the theory or seriously bring it into question. So evidence can disprove theories, but evidence found in accordance with a theory’s prediction merely supports it. It doesn’t “prove it” by showing that all subsequent predictions will, without fail, necessarily also be supported. “Direct and personal observation” would not “prove” a theory either. A theory is an explanation for something. You can’t have “direct and personal observation” of an explanation.

You also seem to be using an unusual definition of “adaptation”, although I can’t be sure. You wrote: “You’ll notice that people, even the most educated, can rarely point out examples of speciation coming from the methods which clearly show adaptation.” Adaptation, when applied to populations, means evolution of the population so that the individuals in it are better able to survive and reproduce in their given environment and niche. Is that the definition you’re using? If so, could you explain your complaint in the quoted sentence? Are you saying evolutionists can’t demonstrate that adaptive evolutionary changes result in speciation? If so, are you claiming that’s because speciation doesn’t happen, or because something else such as genetic drift might be involved?

There’s also your use of the term “new genetic information”. This isn’t a term typically used in evolutionary biology or genetics, because it’s commonly understood that any substitution or addition to the DNA would qualify. Also, many new phenotypic features can be produced by the loss of “information” in the sense of deletions from the DNA. So could you explain what you mean when you use the term?

Finally, there’s the “incompleteness” of the fossil record. The theory of evolution predicts we will find certain things in the fossil record. It also specifies things that, if found, would disprove the theory or bring it into serious question. As it happens, we have found many examples of the things it predicted we would find, and have never found any examples of things it predicted we would not find. And we’ve been looking for quite a long time. Since none of the predictions require us to have a “complete” fossil record, why do you think lack of a “complete” record is important?

Rarebear's avatar

@Cirbryn Thanks. I was one of the people using that definition for a species, so I’m glad you corrected me.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob- I will repeat my earlier query- Do you have any specific. concrete example of an event or process that you think definitely cannot be explained by current theory?

You also haven’t clarified another statement you keep repeating- “The general understanding of species in the general population…is that a new species develops when it is unable to reproduce (there is a large separation between them, e.g. chimpanzees and us)” I have already mentioned several examples, and Cirbryn mentioned others, of species that, under this definition, would not be considered species. You haven’t provided any evidence that your concept of species is one recognized by anyone in the scientific community. Again, species usually do not interbreed, but the reasons for this are not necessarily incompatible genetics; the isolation mechanisms, as I have mentioned can be many things. So another direct question- do you consider polar bears and brown bears to be the same species, because they sometimes hybridize in the wild? How about false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins? American bison and domestic cattle? Dromedaries and llamas? African servals and domestic cats? Spotted owls and barred owls? And let’s not even talk about plants, which produce an astonishing array of hybrids, many of which you probably have in your kitchen (tangelos and pluots, anyone?)! If you don’t, then I don’t understand your intense focus on this issue. If you do consider them to be the same species because they can produce fertile crosses, then you’re definitely not in the scientific or popular mainstream.

As far as the hippo/whale evolutionary series, why, exactly do you think this is problematic timewise, especially given the rich series of transitional fossils?

iamthemob's avatar

@ETpro

Ah! The hypothetical comment was regarding this: _You wrote “Further, resort to the fossil record is kind of a red herring.” Even finding the missing link fossil wouldn’t be of any interest if we reject all fossil evidence, would it? _, which I read as being “what if we found the missing…etc.” So ignore that bit, my misreading.

Seriously, though…are you really asking me if I’m finding the theory of evolution “guilty”? Please, do not oversimplify my opinion. I have doubts, which are based on an informed (although of COURSE not complete) understanding of the theory.

You insist on relating it to the courtroom. Alright, I’m game. However, if we’re saying that the theory is on trial in the same manner as the defendant, then initial assumption is kind of reverse. Because we’re dealing with a scientific theory, we should be applying the null hypothesis no? So essentially, the scientific theory is untrue (guilty) until proven true (innocent), which is the reverse of the criminal standard of guilty until proven innocent.

Now the analogy makes more sense, because the jury (me, I suppose) cannot return a verdict of true (innocent) as long as there are reasonable doubts about the theory. Nor should I.

Regarding the fossil record, now that it’s cleared, there is so much missing and discarded information, and the data has to be interpreted to mean something (unlike more potentially direct mathematical data used to demonstrate observation of black hole(s), for instance). So the mountains of evidence from the fossil record can show things predicted by the theory, but because there is so much we do not understand about the gathering, analysis, and decision-making process here, I don’t accept it as evidence per say, but data consistent with. This is a reservation of judgment rather than a judgment itself.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob “So essentially, the scientific theory is untrue (guilty) until proven true (innocent)”

No. This is not how theories work. They are never “proven true.” They are always falsifiable. I know that this was explained earlier in this discussion by rarebear and expanded upon by Cirbryn. A theory takes the given observations and makes predictions based on those observations. If the predictions match the theory, then the theory is valid. If they don’t, then it’s invalid. Any theory can be invalidated at any time. So far, the theory of evolution is valid. It could be invalidated, if that fossil rabbit from the Precambrian did show up. As I have mentioned, you’ve yet to provide an example of anything that contradicts current evolutionary theory. Until you do, the theory is valid.

iamthemob's avatar

@Cirbryn

I think that the lack of a general (and I don’t mean in the scientific community, but general) consensus on what the definition of a species is in these contexts is part of the problem. It’s difficult to discuss, and understand why the other party debates your position, when you seem to be using a different definition of what a species is. I attempted to define how I was using it to clarify what I was talking about. So regardless of whether the term is correct, it still refers to where I see the problem beginning (e.g., at what point in the differentiation process I think it starts to break down a bit.). And therefore, I’m also again perfectly fine with descriptions of microevolution, but since my concerns are with some point after BSC-defined speciation, then I’m also fine now apparently with some of the points of macroevolution. And if you state that there’s no such thing as a proven theory in science, fine. But I clearly laid out what I was talking about when I look to something for validity. As to adaptation, the link out to the FAQ page discusses the issue I was stating in that sentence.

The mutation aspect of evolution is, in fact, the issue that I’ve been stating I have the most issue comprehending.

As to the record, I’ve stated several times why I think the incompleteness is a problem. Because the observer has a hand in constructing the data and interpreting it, there’s an almost artistic element that defies complete objectivity. I’m not claiming it’s debunking. It’s something that raises suspicion for me.

So, essentially, we’ve done a find/replace on the terminology.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

“It’s difficult to discuss, and understand why the other party debates your position, when you seem to be using a different definition of what a species is. I attempted to define how I was using it to clarify what I was talking about. ”

The problem here is that you seem to be making up a definition of species, which isn’t used by anyone else, in order to support the point you are trying to make. There are entire books out there on the dilemma of “what is a species?” I have read a few (one interesting one is Genes, Categories, and Species: The Evolutionary and Cognitive Cause of the Species Problem by Jody Hey), and none of them so far attempt to use the type of definition that you seem to be proposing. As i have stated several times now (and you have yet to address) the present species concepts all recognize the existence of intergradations and hybridization as evidence for evolution and common descent, not against it. And I have yet to see any explanation of why your definition is necessary or correct, except, frankly, as a as a straw man.

crazyivan's avatar

I would just like to point out that the mountains of evidence keep on mounting here. I’m appalled at the repeated use of the term “skeptic” in @iamthemob‘s posts. The term is “denier”. The arguments you’ve made are all paper thin, demonstrate a lack of real understanding and are motivated by a pre-existing assumption. None of those are the acts of a skeptic.

And thanks to @crisw and @Cirbryn for making this thread even more fun.

iamthemob's avatar

Never, in this entire thread, have I attempted to put forth anything as correct, valid, necessary, anything.

I have attempted to say I am not making an argument. @crisw, the logic in your statement “As I have mentioned, you’ve yet to provide an example of anything that contradicts current evolutionary theory. Until you do, the theory is valid.” means that anyone skeptical of the data as interpreted as evidence for the theory is immediately and necessarily discounted unless they can provide evidence that the theory is wrong.

If this is not what you are saying, than why do I have to provide a counter example to evolution to be skeptical of the data as interpreted in support of it? And that’s all?

I’m sorry, I didn’t know that disbelief, or skepticism, etc., required evidentiary support.

The guilty/innocent dynamic was a response to the analogy presented by @ETPro, which I stated I found deeply flawed BECAUSE the theory was not on trial for me. Why is it necessary, therefore, to claim that I’m wrong?

The discussion has been shifted to characterize my definitions as claims. They are not. They are meant to describe the point at which the theory loses cohesion for me. Where I see holes. Those aren’t arguments, but questions and concerns.

And after that post from @crazyivan, and the effort expended to ask a question, I am really FUCKING sorry I asked.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

“anyone skeptical of the data as interpreted as evidence for the theory is immediately and necessarily discounted unless they can provide evidence that the theory is wrong.”

Well, yes. That’s the whole point. As rarebear said earlier, real skeptics don’t take anything on “faith”- they need evidence. And, if that evidence isn’t provided, then no, a point isn’t really worth considering. True skepticism isn’t just about doubting; it’s about having valid reasons for doubting, being able to articulate the evidence to support those reasons, and searching to find the available data and evidence to answer questions.

So, if you are an evolutionary skeptic, you can’t just state “I am a skeptic!” and expect to be taken seriously. Nor can you state “I am a skeptic and I have made up my own definitions of something to support my skepticism” and expect to be taken seriously. Nor can you state “I am a skeptic about X,” be given tons of information about X and ignore that information because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions.

My favorite quote of all time is this one, from T. H. Huxley- “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing” This is the root of true skepticism.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know that disbelief, or skepticism, etc., required evidentiary support.”

Well, if you want to be taken seriously, it does. You claim you have a problem with macroevolution. You’ve been asked to detail exactly why you have a problem, both generally and in specific cases. You seem to have avoided almost all of these questions. If you do want to be taken seriously, then this is not the path to follow.

Rarebear's avatar

@crisw @Cirbryn Sorry for dragging you into this. @iamthemob was asking really good questions that I didnt’ know the answer to, and I thought he was genuinely interested in learning the answer to, but he sent me a PM saying that he was upset that I brought you guys in and is dropping out of the thread. Apparently his mind is made up, and he doesn’t want to be confused by the facts.

crisw's avatar

@Rarebear

No need to apologize. It was fun to be back for a little while. And all real discussions are two-way streets. If someone isn’t willing to defend a position, and is going to get insulted if it’s questioned, then espousing it in public is probably not the best idea.

Rarebear's avatar

@crisw I’m liking it better here this time around, and for some reason the moderation doesn’t bother me any more. I’ve met some interesting people here.

Cirbryn's avatar

@Rarebear
Ha. And I was all set to start playing good cop. Interesting conversation anyway.

ETpro's avatar

@Cirbryn & @crisw I for one hope that now that you are here/back? you’ll be staying around. Fluther truly profits from members who can explain serious scientific issues in terms that most can easily grasp.

Cirbryn's avatar

@ETpro Thanks very much. I might try to check things out more often here now that I see the search function works. The lack of organization for the questions throws me a bit, as does the moderating.

ETpro's avatar

@Cirbryn Copy that. I am pleased search is being improved. I asked several questions in the past after carefully searching the topic only to have moderators push them to editing because something similar had recently been asked! How’ is anyone supposed to just KNOW that if search won’t show it?

When I first arrived here from the free-for-all of Answerbag.com I found the moderatin difficult to accept. Now, participating in a real hate-fest full of rabid-right-wing politicos on Sodahead.com (the only way anyone ever gets moderated is to say something moderate) I have come to appreciate it. Once I learned the limits here, I found Fluther’s moderation most useful in keeping the exchanges civil.

crisw's avatar

@ETPro

I’ll see. I did see a Mac question or two that needed answerin’ :>D

The last time around my enjoyment was spoiled by some bullying fools who were here more to outshout anyone who disagreed with them and to out-rude each other rather than to participate in true spirited debate or discussion, Hopefully they have moved on to other things.

crazyivan's avatar

@Cirbryn & @crisw I for one find this place much more interesting with you guys in on the conversation. I suppose I was really fanning the flames by being so dismissive, but as an activist in the skeptical movement I have no patience at all for these arguments against evolution. I would have dropped out of the thread much sooner if the defense had not been “I’m not a creationist, I’m a skeptic.”

Anyway, Fluther really benefits from voices like yours. I have only been on the site for a few weeks, but I’ve encountered very little of the type of bullying crisw was mentioning. Perhaps we are developing a good rational support group.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob is gone? That’s like leaving the game in the 8th inning. I don’t get why @crazyivan‘s comment unhinged him after so much perseverance, but maybe he’ll come back. I empathize with @iamthemob to the extent that he may have suddenly felt ganged up on. In reality, we’d hoped to bring evolutionary experts into the mix, but then some of the flow of the thread became derailed and he felt he had to shift to an even more defensive stance than before.

I think he had a fundamental misconception that the burden was upon us to prove to him that the model is had enough information to be valid. I’m aware of of no data that has been discovered that has ever been contrary to the current model, and therefore as someone above pointed out, we continue to discover things that fit within what we’d expect from the theory, like fossils. If fossils were discovered that didn’t fit within the description of the theory, the theory could be in huge trouble. I think @iamthemob‘s position became that people could be making the data fit the model, rather than analyzing the data on it’s own merits. I don’t know why he thought that could be happening in this particular case, but I’ll agree someone might try to fit data to a model rather than analyze it on it’s own merits. To an extent, when a theory becomes vast enough maybe that does begin to happen around the edges, but I know of no great evidence counter to evolution that is being improperly purposed.

He was a student of Ken Miller, who presented a lecture on chromosomal fusion in a video I linked far above. Miller states that if we didn’t find that there is evidence of fusion between a pair of chromosomes from chimps to humans, the entire theory of evolution would have problems. This is a great example of a scientist maintaining proper skepticism, and acknowledging the theory has a potential error state that will anywhere from alter to shatter the theory. In this case, not only did we see the chromosomes were fused, but we found the base pair where it happened. This strengthened the theory instead of detracted from it.

So eventually @iamthemob wanted us to prove the theory to him, but given the overwhelming evidence in support of it, it ironically seemed to have become more practical to have him find the holes in the theory. He strenuously objected to the notion he should have to do so, and insisted the burden is upon those with the theory to convince others of its worth, not the skeptics to find evidence to disconfirm it.

So I think this may have been his position. A bit back, I’d asked him to reclarify exactly where he felt the holes were, and he listed a number of things. Not all of those questions were addressed yet, so it might be worthwhile to revisit them, particularly in the area of mutations.

You’ll notice a thriving, intelligent debate has now lost much of its inertia. Since we’re all in general agreement, we have far less to prompt further discussion. It’s noteworthy that the main thing that will prolong a thread is a dissenter from the dominant opinion, and it will remain alive as long as the dissenter continues to make intelligent points that are civilly countered with more discourse. This has been the best thread on evolution I’ve seen yet, and I hope it won’t be over. Despite frustrations at times, terrific information is being put in one place, and it may be possible for this to develop much further.

@crisw and @cirbryn—I very much welcome your appearance on this thread, and hope you’re able to contribute your expertise to future threads. Evolution debate is a common topic on here, and I’ve yet to figure out a method for educating a staunch non-believer. I think I eventually get very frustrated with a close-minded view and become condescending, with hurts the cause. I hold out hope that we can dispel illusions.

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain I agree. I kept telling @iamthemob that he was asking good questions. I usually don’t give evolution “skeptics” the time of day—I leave that to others with more energy. But he’s the most intelligent one I’ve seen, which is why I also asked both @crisw and @Cirbryn (both experts on evolution) to weigh in. Usually I don’t bother them about stuff like this.

cockswain's avatar

Agreed. His questions were causing me to think more deeply on the subject than in a while. From his position, I could see how writing a response, getting four responses, trying to write a lengthy one to respond, and getting several more answers (and sort of insulted) could become frustrating. Unfortunately he never really conceded anything either, and a lot did get bunched up in rhetoric and debate vs just asking questions and slowly getting all the information.

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain I wonder what poor @josie is thinking. He started this thread and has been silent on it for days.

cockswain's avatar

I’ve wondered the same thing several times throughout the thread. I did notice he asked the question “do you ever abandon threads you start” around that time though, so that could be a clue.

ETpro's avatar

@cockswain & @Rarebear If @josie is like me, he decided to cook up some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the fireworks once a heated discussion erupted.

crisw's avatar

@cockswain Would you mind helping out a bit and pointing out what exact questions iamthemob had about mutations that were not addressed? It’s really hard to sift through all the old posts. I saw some general statements that were addressed about the evolution of eyes and such, but I’m not sure what else there was to address.

ETpro's avatar

@cockswain I don’t mean to preempt @cockswain but I know that @iamthemob felt speciation was insufficiently proven. He wanted examples of speciation that we can observe in the laboratory, or at work around us. And at the pace at which most organisms evolve, that is hard to find. He took comfort in his skepticism from the fact that the exact workings of speciation are one of the most hotly debated areas of Evolution Theory. This link came up in the discussion.
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic497545.files/Coyne%201992.pdf

You may need to paste that link text into the address bar to get it to behave.

JustmeAman's avatar

If evolution as the question is asking is not a theory then this debate wouldn’t have taken place.

josie's avatar

I guess @ETpro sort of had it correct when he said I cooked up some popcorn and sat back to watch the show. It has been very informative and entertaining to follow this thread. One of the reasons I did not really get into it is because, except at the very start, nobody really tried to answer the question.
I suppose that is my fault for the way I posed the question.
I will give you background on the question.
I recently went to a football game to watch a friend’s son play. The game was at a local, private, Christian faith based academy.
Circumstances allowed me to walk through some of the corridors of the school and along a wall there was an enormous banner, which read “Evolution. Remember that it is ONLY a theory!”
It struck me as sort of sad, and actually a little immoral, that young people at the high school level would be subjected to what is clearly a form of religious propaganda.

Since it is a private school, I guess they can teach what they want.

But I wondered, what if the banner had read “Gravity. Remember that it is ONLY a theory!” I think most people, even the Christians behind the school, would think that such a statement would be strange.

It might be OK if politicians do it. They are idiots anyway.

But teachers, parents and everybody else involved in the raising of children?

So my purpose in asking the question was less about the science of evolution, and more about the morality of sacrificing the minds of teenagers by dismissing the entire notion of the scientific method with the claim that something is “only a theory”.
A theory is a scientific big deal.

But the debate about the science of evolution was great. So I chose not to interrupt.

Plus, I was so busy giving points, that I could not find time to write anything.

crazyivan's avatar

I sell a game called Myachi for a living and we often describe it as “The Evolution of Hacky Sack”. I was in Missouri at a skate-park event and said that to a kid and he replies “My parents say evolution is a myth.”

I feel your pain. I see that nonsense on T-Shirts and bumper stickers and it irks me, but to see it in a school is really frustrating. Sure, a private school may have the right to teach what they want, but I honestly don’t think any parent or teacher has the right to condemn their child to ignorance. If not a legal matter, I would hope that it would be seen as an immoral action.

But for what it’s worth, I think your thread did a little good. While I doubt anyone has swayed iamthemob’s opinion, it certainly got one doubter to take a much closer look at their beliefs.

JustmeAman's avatar

Evolution is very real and it occurs but IMHO not on the scale of Monkey to Man.

cockswain's avatar

“But for what it’s worth, I think your thread did a little good”

Thanks!

“Evolution is very real and it occurs but IMHO not on the scale of Monkey to Man.”

Oh, um, errr….

Cirbryn's avatar

@ETpro It doesn’t look to me like Iamthemob ever read your cited article (based on his comments <a href=“http://www.fluther.com/98069/when-speaking-of-evolution-why-do-some-people-protest-that-it/#quip1603802”>here</a>. Too bad, as it’s got a good discussion early on of various reproductive isolating barriers, none of which would be applicable if his notion of complete inability to hybridize were the telling factor.

Hmm. Clearly I still haven’t gotten this linking thing down.

Cirbryn's avatar

@JustmeAman
> “Evolution is very real and it occurs but IMHO not on the scale of Monkey to Man.”

I’m not sure the H in IMHO is appropriate given that you’re attempting to assert your unsupported claim over that of all the experts in the field and all the supporting evidence they’ve amassed. If humans aren’t related to chimps then how do you explain the ERVs found in the genomes of both, in the same locations, as discussed in this video linked earlier by Cockswain? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1fGkFuHIu0

JustmeAman's avatar

No it is not a claim at all it is my belief. Doesn’t make it right or wrong. I say they will never make a connection because there are parts of genome that will not prove the conclusion and therefore the debate. I purport that I know that and also where it comes from but it is my personal belief system and I’m only stating my opinion humble or otherwise.

crisw's avatar

@Cirbryn
Don’t use HTML to form the links. See the (rather hard to read because it is so small) formatting below the posting box. Link text in quotation marks, colon, then link.

cockswain's avatar

“No it is not a claim at all it is my belief.”

So this is where I personally end up getting irritated and condescending, as I ironically mentioned a few posts ago. Any advice is appreciated for dealing with this sort of situation.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

I think your comment illustrates a common problem in such discussions. People often act as if their sincere beliefs, held due to faith and not due to evidence, are equivalent to positions that are evidence-based. They aren’t, and you really cannot claim that they are.

Some claims truly belong in the realm of personal belief and are not subject to question. “I like walnuts better than almonds” or “Russet brown is my favorite color” are examples of such statements. They truly are personal beliefs. They are not based on evaluation of a body of fact; they are based on personal preferences and desires.

However, claims such as “Evolution didn’t happen and that’s just my personal belief” are not valid. This is because such claims are based on evaluation of a body of facts, and mountains of evidence exist to dispute such a claim.

JustmeAman's avatar

@cockswain

Why do you have to deal with this sort of situation at all?

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

Such statements have to be dealt with because they promulgate a type of willful ignorance that is harmful. It is such attitudes that lead to attempts to ban the teaching of evolution, for example. And, all other things being equal, people who base decisions on facts rather than emotions tend to make better and more defensible decisions.

JustmeAman's avatar

@crisw

Again why do you have to deal with that. You can’t live with me saying that it is from my own experience? What if I feel I have evidence enough for me? There is no evidence that conclusively says we evolved from apes. Science itself is still trying to solve this and it will not be solved. Yes I agree that there is lots of evidence that it could be the way things happened but it is still a could.

@crisw

I would not ban teaching evolution though I would ban saying we came from apes that just is not concrete and it is also attempting to teach what is not so.

Rarebear's avatar

@JustmeAman Your misconception is that we “evolved from apes.” You’re right, that’s not true. We evolved WITH apes from a common ape-like ancestor.

JustmeAman's avatar

@Rarebear

That is a hypothesis.

crazyivan's avatar

But it is an evidentiary hypothesis and therefore automatically trumps the “I don’t want to believe it therefore it isn’t true” hypothesis. The very notion that “it will not be solved” demonstartes both a lack of faith and a lack of understanding as to how the scientific process works.

Never trust anybody who claims something “can’t” or “won’t” ever happen.

Oh, and crisw, you are my new hero.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

It is a theory that, like any scientific theory, is supported by all the available evidence. Competing theories have no scientific support. Again, you are missing the difference between a preference-based belief, which can properly be held without evidence, and a belief about something scientific, which cannot.

crisw's avatar

@crazyivan

gee, thanks! Things do feel a bit better here, this time around.

Rarebear's avatar

@JustmeAman
“That’s just a hypothesis.”
No, it’s not. It’s an established scientific certainty, just like it’s a certainty that the world is spherical, and the Earth revolves around the sun.. You can close your eyes and plug your ears and say, “The world is flat! The world is flat!” but it doesn’t make it flat.

JustmeAman's avatar

I will agree with what you are saying it is the closest hypothesis we have given the evidence but it is still not totally conclusive and I will state again it will not totally get there. You can say that is my opinion if you wish and that I don’t know or understand that is fine. But they will not find what will connect it all the way through. Again I guess I will accept the fact you think that I don’t know or can know. My pearls are my own and therefore I will not pursue this any longer.

crisw's avatar

@Rarebear Just noticed that JMA is actually taking us back to the title of the thread!

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

So yet another evolution denier picks up his or her ball and goes home because someone asks for substantiation of belief with facts?

JustmeAman's avatar

@crisw

I cannot with all my experience convince you and no I have not picked up my ball and went home. I stated something that will not take place and I will stand by that totally.

Rarebear's avatar

@JustmeAman Can you, with all your experience, see pheontypical similarities between a bonobo and a human? Do they both have two eyes? Ten digits? Four limbs? Two ears? A tongue? Teeth? Ribs? Lungs? 4 chambered heart ? Fingernails? Hair? Two nostrils? One anus? Two nipples? A navel? Brow ridges? Lips? Opposable thumb? Knees? Knuckles? Penis and testicles? Lack of hair on the palms and soles of the feet? Vestigal tail? One stomach? Elbows?

JustmeAman's avatar

@Rarebear

You as I are climbing an unclimable tree. I know what I know and any of your questions or science will not change it and I will stand by my statements.

Rarebear's avatar

@JustmeAman I realize your mind is made up. I’m just pointing out to you how untenable your position is with the hope that one day you might learn and understand.

crazyivan's avatar

I’ll say it again, you cannot have an objective opinion if you are vested in an outcome. JustmeAman has alraedy admitted that no amount of evidence would be sufficient so what is the point of arguing.

But to the whole “My pearls are my own” thing, that ceases to be the case when you enter a thread and express your opinion. Why hold an opinion that you cannot defense? Why hold any intractable opinion?

I feel confident that I speak for crisw, rarebear, Cirbryn and cockswain when I say that none of us have intractable opinions about evolution. If credible and subsantial evidence appeared to contradict it, we would happily amend our opinions to match the new evidence. This is the difference between people seeking knowledge and people seeking validation.

JustmeAman's avatar

No I did not say no amount of evidence will be sufficient what I am saying there is NO amount of evidence to even convince all of science. There is enough to say that it points to a conclusion but doesn’t make that conclusion complete until all avenues have been reseached and they all come to an agreement and all of science is on board. There is still a huge amount of debate on your theory.

Rarebear's avatar

@JustmeAman First of all, it’s not “my” theory. Evolutionary Theory is the cornerstone of modern biology. Please show me where there is a “huge amount of debate debate”, within the scientific community that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

JustmeAman's avatar

I didn’t say they didn’t evolve from a common ancestor I said we did not evolve from apes. There is like DNA for a reason as there is a reason for other DNA that doesn’t match. WHY do you think they call it a Evolutionary Theory if it is not one? And they being the conerstone of modern biology. Please show me where it says they have all the answers and we evolved from apes or period all the answers.

Rarebear's avatar

Cris is beating me to it.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

No one is arguing with you about the apes! It has already been pointed out that we did NOT evolve from apes; we share a common ancestor.

@Rarebear -Yep :>D

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

Oh, and, once again, you seem to have a gross misunderstanding (to get back to the topic of this thread!) about what a scientific theory is.

“WHY do you think they call it a Evolutionary Theory if it is not one?”

It IS a theory. And that’s because, in science, a theory is a testable, falsifiable explanation that fits ALL of the available facts.

JustmeAman's avatar

Thanks you all for showing me the errors of my ways. When you get up to speed with what I have learned we will talk further on the matter. Thanks

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

“There is like DNA for a reason as there is a reason for other DNA that doesn’t match. ”

I am not sure what this means. What DNA “does not match” current theory?

Are you aware of the vast amount of genetic data pointing to common ancestry with apes and the utter lack of any genetic data showing any other mechanism of evolution? I’d be more than happy to provide a list of many of these- shared transposable elements in the same places in humans and apes, the fusion of chromosome 2 in the chimpanzee, genes for inabilty to produce vitamin C, etc. etc. etc.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

“When you get up to speed with what I have learned we will talk further on the matter. Thanks”

And, without you providing any of your sources, we are supposed to do that how?

This is a flippant dismissal, not a reasoned response.

JustmeAman's avatar

This has become a witch hunt is not worth the effort.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

Asking someone to produce evidence for a point that they publicly espouse is not a witch hunt. No one has persecuted you by making untrue statements as to your character. Instead, you have simply been asked to reasonably support what you profess to be true. Expecting not to be questioned and not to have to provide evidence is unreasonable.

JustmeAman's avatar

Read above.

If I was to open up and tell you where I got the information you would really make fun and you would completely attack my evidence so why would I do that? This evidence is mine so I made a statement as such. I’m not here to convince you because I know I can’t and you cannot convince me. The evidence I have is far more realiable and I will accept it as mine though not mine alone others share it with me.

crisw's avatar

@JustmeAman

“If I was to open up and tell you where I got the information you would really make fun and you would completely attack my evidence so why would I do that? ”

Because it’s the only way to determine if what you profess to be fact truly is?

cockswain's avatar

wow, I went to lunch, came back and there are 32 responses. I guess I got my wish to keep the thread alive.

crisw's avatar

@cockswain

Most of it seems to be just me and JMA bickering back and forth and not, I think, getting anywhere. Can’t someone actually step in with some actual science-type thing we can really discuss? :>D

cockswain's avatar

Sure. I can’t really think of a question that I don’t know a loose answer to, but let’s get into more details. I know one-celled organisms eventually formed multi-cellular aggregates, with highly differentiated cell types. There is a paper I perused about this seen in blue-green algae from the University of Phoenix, but I can’t find it now. Anyways, how do you propose one-celled organisms developed into different classes and orders? I’d like to learn more about not speciation but where the differentiation occurred going back before mammals. I loosely get that it is caused by mutations and selective pressures, but am not an expert on case studies in that field. I don’t know a lot about exact timelines either. If you don’t mind sharing some info on this, I’d appreciate the education.

josie's avatar

FYI all of you. A good college level course to take that will allow you to see evolution at work is Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates. A real eye opener. Not an easy course when I took it. Maybe there is a Comparative Anatomy for Dummies condensation.

crazyivan's avatar

Is it just me or do the terms “I’m losing this argument” and “This is a witch hunt” or “There is no point in continuing” becoming synonyms on this thread?

iamthemob's avatar

(1) No scientific theory can be proven.

(2) Therefore, a theory should not be marketed as a fact, as it creates a willful ignorance similar to religious assertions.

(3) That is exactly what is being done with the theory of evolution.

(4) People can either accept this marketing as true, and not attempt to educate themselves any more on the theory; deny it as guesswork or antireligious and abandon the further study or isolate study to alternative theories as proponents of the theories; or doubt certain of the mechanisms said to be at work and attempt to educate themselves more about all the information.

(5) The last option requires an amount of research about diverse subjects that cannot be covered in a thread here.

(6) The last option does not require an assertion about whether the theory is invalid, and in fact is consistent with an assertion that the theory is valid.

(7) The attempts to educate people about their doubts were put forth as attempts to prove the theory as fact.

(8) See point (1) above.

(9) This thread was not meant for that purpose, and those who have apparently asked “good questions” have been characterized as deniers (see (4) for the difference) or intractable.

(10) Therefore, those who expressed why they might claim evolution is “just a theory” have been told, good questions, and then, prove why you’re right to doubt.

(11) This is inconsistent with the assertions or admission of the scientific community in point (1) above again.

(12) Because the commitment and diverse expertise necessary cannot be presented in this thread, it only leads to frustration.

(13) The people who ask good questions, therefore, leave, and leave all others to intellectually masturbate about how right they are.

(14) Those who assert (1) but behave in a manner consistent with (3), (4)(a), (10), and (13) are behaving themselves in an intractable manner, and an extremely paternalistic one at that.

crisw's avatar

@coxswain-

Ooh, that’s more like it. That one will actually have to wait for more detail until I am home tonight, as it needs a bit more thought and research than the previous exchanges! I don’t know how much we know about the differentiation timeline, given the poor fossil record of microscopic organisms, but I think the process would have been a bit more rapid than in multicellular organisms, and that a lot of it involved acquisitions like when mitochondria, derived from bacteria, were incorporated.

crisw's avatar

@iamthemob

1) The corollary is that all scientific theories can be disproven, and are valid until they are. No one has presented any evidence to disprove the theory of evolution. Another point is that evolution itself is absolutely proven and observed fact. All that evolution is is the change in the genetic makeup of a population over time. This occurs. This is fact. How it occurs, and what influences it, is what the theory of evolution is about. But evolution itself is a fact.

2) In no way does presenting a scientific theory constitute marketing, nor is it at all the same as espousing a religious faith. In the case of any scientific theory, the presenter, if challenged, should be able to document the observed facts, explain why the theory explains the observed facts, state how the theory can be tested, and explain what would disprove the theory. Religious convictions don’t follow this pattern at all. That is why creationism and ID aren’t valid scientific theories.

3) No, it isn’t. Again, back to a point you have avoided several times now, evolution is no different in this aspect than any other scientific theory and has far more empirical support than most.

4) Fallacy of Hobson’s choice. You miss the most obvious possibility. People can look at the accumulated evidence and see if it fits the theory. They can then look for any evidence that does not. if they cannot find any specific and relevant evidence that invalidates the theory, then the theory is valid. You have missed this point over and over again. You have not presented any evidence that invalidates any aspect of the theory of evolution in any way. Therefore, you have done absolutely nothing that leads to any rational reason to reject the theory.

5) Not true. We have a variety of experts here from a variety of scientific fields. If you have a specific question, someone here will attempt to answer it. But, despite repeated entreaties, you haven’t asked a single specific question that has not been answered, to my knowledge. When you have asked a question and received an answer (such as on examples of speciation) you have seemingly ignored the responses. And you have similarly ignored or deflected questions directed at you (such as how you came up with your definition of species, how you validate that definition, etc.)

6) No, for reasons explained many times already.

7) No, they are not. They are, however, doing exactly what I described above. You have a competing theory? Great. Show us your evidence. You don’t have any? Well, fine- but then realize that no one has any reason whatsoever to take your doubts seriously. Once again- I can’t reiterate this often enough- if you cannot find any specific and relevant evidence that invalidates a theory, then the theory is valid.

9) What is an example of a good question that has not been answered? And, people are not called deniers for asking questions. They are called deniers for plugging their ears to the answers that they receive, or continuing to make the same invalid points over and over again as if they have not read or do not understand the information that they have been given.

10) I don’t understand what you are saying here; can you clarify?

11) No, it is not inconsistent at all, as has been explained many tmes. Doubt all you want, but, if you are asked why you doubt, you had better have good reasons and be ready to present them. That is how science works as opposed to blind faith.

12) The frustration, on my part, is from refusal to answer direct questions or acknowledge information received. I don’t think it has anything to do with anyone’s lack of knowledge. See the question on the evolution of unicellular organisms above? It’s not a topic I know a lot about. But does this frustrate me? Not at all. In fact, I look forward to going home and doing some research on it. Having the same questions deflected or unanswered again and again? Now that’s frustrating!

13) Again, where are the good questions that are unanswered? And remember, getting an answer you do not like or that doesn’t fit your belief system is very different than not getting an answer at all.

14) Ad hominem attack. Facts are facts. Doesn’t matter who espouses them or how they do it; the truth of an argument is a matter of reason and research, not personal opinion on whether or not you like the delivery.

iamthemob's avatar

Oh my god, I am not trying to show that evolution is wrong. Two days ago, I found that my understanding of it was incomplete, and there were holes.

It’s been stated that if I had stated “I’m unclear on x” instead “I doubt this because of apparent holes in x” then it would be more acceptable.

But seriously, to say that doubt is inconsistent with a belief that the theory is valid regardless is your OPINION. I don’t think it is, I think it’s productive.

It’s not now that I don’t want to learn more about it. It’s just that, after the amount of self-righteousness exhibited here in the guise or reason, I don’t feel like you are the people who can help me. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll figure it out on my own, from neutral sources.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob Might I suggest you just start asking specific questions again, like I did? Get the info and take it with a grain of salt if you must? Otherwise the debate about whether or not you’ve been mistreated on this thread could go on and on. Might I politely suggest letting it go for now, and you simply use the evolutionary experts as a source of info for now? Maybe accumulate a list of doubts for questioning much later? Just my opinion. The science is far more interesting than the debate.

crazyivan's avatar

Once again, your argument has turned into a blanket set of (mostly false) principles that, if accepted, mean that absolutely everything in the universe should be perpetually in doubt. But just going back to your previous thread: If you had stated “I doubt this because of apparent holes in X”, yes, it would be a more reasonable phrasing.

However, it would only remain reasonable until somebody explained those “apparent holes” or why they are insignificant. Since that has already happened and we’re still having this argument, I’d say your claims to some moral high ground are getting shakier and shakier.

And as for paternalistic responses, I’m sorry, but this has very often become a quite childish debate and the only options are (1) throwing in the towel, (2) coddling these nonsensical “discrepancies” by explaining the same things over and over again or (3) being paternalistic.

You act like the fact that we are defending our positions makes us intractable while trying to deflect the same accusation against yourself. The other possibility is that you are simply arguing over your head.

crisw's avatar

@crazyivan
“You act like the fact that we are defending our positions makes us intractable while trying to deflect the same accusation against yourself. ”

I think it’s more like-

We are being considered “intractable” because we offer evidence for our positions and ask the same of anyone else. We refuse to take someone’s statements as valid based on faith or belief alone, and that leads many to accuse us of intractability and bullying because we don’t give their deeply-held but unsupported assertions any weight.

iamthemob is being considered “intractable” because he refuses to provide evidence for his position but expects us to respect it anyway.

Which, of either, of these is really an example of intractability is an exercise left to the reader :>)

iamthemob's avatar

evolution is fact.

flo's avatar

Maybe they simply don’t want to accept it as a fact. They quote scientists who say that it is a theory, but of course scientists don’t mean it the way they want them to.

Cirbryn's avatar

@iamthemob

> “It’s not now that I don’t want to learn more about it. It’s just that, after the amount of self-righteousness exhibited here in the guise or reason, I don’t feel like you are the people who can help me. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll figure it out on my own, from neutral sources.”

Well what the heck, maybe I’ll just give it a shot anyway. Then you’ll have something to ask those “neutral sources” about.

I still don’t actually know what your “doubts” are about, but here’s a spiel I’ve used occasionally regarding evidence for macroevolution:

Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution must make predictions that are testable. Testing a prediction means that you predict what evidence you should find if the theory is correct, and then you look to see if you actually find that evidence. So what does the theory predict we should find, and do we actually find it?

First of all, the theory predicts we should see examples of populations of one species evolving into new species. Do we? Yes we do. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species . [And note that the first link includes some observed speciations, such as the Kew Primrose and Raphanobrassica that fit your (unusual) definition of new species.]

Secondly, the theory predicts the existence of a Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a family tree, of which every single living thing that has ever existed on the planet is a member. The existence of the Tree of Life (if true) would mean that the differences between living things would be organized into a nested hierarchy, such that two recently separated species would share numerous characteristics, of which a portion would also be shared by all species sharing a more distant common ancestor, of which a portion would also be shared by all species sharing an even more distant common ancestor; and so on. The Tree’s existence would also mean that two species branching from a common ancestor should be located in places that populations of the ancestor could have reached. It also means that the fossils we find should fit into the general pattern of hierarchical similarity, location, and timeframe established by the Tree. Finally, the hierarchical patterns of similarity established by present and past species on the Tree should be roughly the same regardless of whether we are comparing morphological characteristics, or genes, or non-coding DNA, or endogenous retroviruses, or proteins. We say “roughly the same” rather than “exactly the same” because various processes such as convergent evolution or fluctuating population sizes can somewhat throw off the hierarchical patterns established by the different traits being compared.

So what do we find? The Tree of Life is continually vindicated by study after study. Morphologically, humans are most similar to other apes, and some of those similarities are shared by monkeys, and some of those are shared by all primates, and some of those are shared by all mammals, and so on. We could as easily find the same treelike pattern starting from house finches, or from any other species. Comparisons of DNA sequences confirm and provide additional information regarding the treelike organization shown by morphological comparisons. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060303111420.htm Independently derived models of the tree tend to converge and reinforce one another, including models based on many different DNA sequences http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#independent_convergence , models based on endogenous retroviruses http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section4.html#retroviruses , and models based on fossils http://anthropology.si.edu/humanorigins/ha/a_tree.html . Essentially, wherever we look, however we look, the Tree is there.

If the Tree is real we would also expect to find at least some examples of fossil species that could have been common ancestors of major branches, and we’d expect to find them in specific geological strata. We do in fact find them, and they are where they ought to be. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#morphological_intermediates http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14952-missing-link-fossil-stuck-its-neck-out.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

These are just a few basic predictions of the theory of evolution and some of the evidence supporting them. See here for some more: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/ .

***

As for mutation, possibly you’re picturing the problems that would occur if random changes popped up in a computer program? It would probably screw up the program, right? Almost certainly wouldn’t improve it. But DNA doesn’t work like a program. DNA establishes the sequence of amino acids in a protein, and that sequence, like the sequence of different-sized blocks in a tower, helps establish the protein’s shape. The shape, in turn determines what the protein does. So if one “letter” in the DNA is miscopied, that may or may not code for a different amino acid “block” in the protein, which may or may not change the shape of the protein, to an extent which may or may not change the way the protein interacts with other molecules in the cell. Also, transpositive elements can cause entire genes to be copied from one place to another in the DNA, allowing mutations to happen in the new copy without affecting the old copy.

The point being that, unlike a computer program, bits can be altered without screwing up the program. A gene could be copied to a new place, and then change some bases and then start putting out an altered protein that did absolutely nothing. That’s OK, everything else still works. The altered gene would be passed on for a few generations, maybe altering some more, eventually getting mutated into a pseudogene that doesn’t code for anything anymore… unless one of the alterations happened to end up doing something useful. The other proteins are out their in the cytoplasm, interacting with each other in various Rube Goldberg ways, so a new protein floating around, coded by an altered gene, might interact with any of them – possibly with beneficial results. If it does, then the individual possessing the altered gene would be more likely to survive and reproduce, and more copies of the beneficial altered gene would get into the next generation. And more than that in the generation after. If the effect was particularly beneficial then eventually everyone in the population would end up with the altered gene. Subsequent copies and alterations to other genes would have to improve or build on that change to be naturally selected themselves. Improvements build on improvements and the population adapts more and more to its niche and environment.

The end result is a system that actually relies on mistakes to improve itself. It’s not just “idiot friendly” in a way a computer program could never manage; it’s completely “idiot dependent”.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob There are some things that we can observe as so obvious that we accept them as fact. Flat earthers are dismissed as crackpots today because we have seen what Earth looks like from the International Space Station, Hubble, and the Moon. We can see the shape of the shadow it casts on the moon in an eclipse. We can see that as a tall masted sailing ship approaches port, the first thing visible is the top of the tallest mast, and slowly more and more of the ship rounds the curvature of the Earth till the whole hull is visible.

Likewise, we can see evolution take place. We have bred all the forms of dog from the miniature chihuahua to the Great Dane and Saint Bernard from wolves. We’ve created thoroughbred race horses. We’ve taken a squat, South American Indian grain-bearing grass called Maize and turned it into an eight-foot tall plant that grows huge ears of incredibly sweet corn. And we can watch evolution in fast breeding organisms such as bacteria and fruit flies. We have seen it happen again and again before our eyes. So while we can’t legitimately say that human evolution from a common ancestor with the apes is a fact, we certainly can say that evolution is a fact. It does happen as surely as the Earth is a sphere (or to avoid quibbling, nearly spherical)..

On an aside, I got More than a Theory by Dr. Hugh Ross today through Inter-library Loan. I will give it a fair hearing.

crisw's avatar

@cockswain

FYI, working on the prokaryote/ eukaryote post but probably won’t finish it tonight. Ended up working late then had to wait for it to cool off to go out for a bike ride- it was over 100 degrees here today!

Rarebear's avatar

@crisw I’m looking forward to your response on the unicellular organism also.

iamthemob's avatar

evolution is a fact.

Rarebear's avatar

I slept on it and I thought of a mechanism for the conglomeration of unicellular organisms. Say you had a unicellular organism that had a mutation that made its cell wall more sticky—say with polysaccherides. That caused it to stick with another organism, and together they got food more effectively. That would perpetuate that mutation. Add that to a gazillion generations and you get a jellyfish.

Cirbryn's avatar

Well choanoflagellates can exist either singly or in small colonies, and there’s not that much difference between those and choanocytes in a sponge.

Neil Shubin discusses and compares the molecules that let cells adhere to and communicate with each other in sponges and in people in Your Inner Fish . It’s a very worthwhile book.

crisw's avatar

Still working on it- another late day at work, and still on the organelles- haven’t gotten to cohesion yet.

iamthemob's avatar

Regarding the development of eukaryotic life…has anyone discussed this finding? It seems that it’s huge news, and I’m surprised that I don’t see it in the discussion…did I miss it?

cockswain's avatar

Hey, a little action on this thread again! That has not been discussed on this thread and is news to me. Thanks for the info. Obviously I’m skeptical of the claim in that very brief article on a website with which I’m unfamiliar. I’ll need to find the journal in which the paper was published to evaluate it before I believe it. However, if true, that is fascinating. The notion that all life spawned from a single synthesis of two prokaryotes is astounding. It makes me wonder if that “big bang” zygote of sorts hadn’t survived before dividing further, would all current life on earth be appreciably different? Or was this fusion of the two cells starting to occur in many locations?

Either way I need to read that paper to see how they derived their conclusions. If you find it, please link it. I’m not going to have much time for several days. Thanks for the info though.

crazyivan's avatar

That’s so funny! I was hoping somebody would revitalize this thread just to give me on opportunity to offer up this link.

Trust me, it is so worth 2 minutes of your life!

iamthemob's avatar

And…this is why I left in the first place.

@cockswain – the article is a new publication, so you can only read the abstract.

I’m glad to help. For what it was worth.

Rarebear's avatar

@iamthemob That does contribute right to the discussion. I’ll forward that link to @crisw.

crisw's avatar

@Rarebear

I saw it- was going to try and look for the article tonight.

cockswain's avatar

@iamthemob What is why you left?

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