Accomodationists, Evolution and the Climate Debate

By Keith Kloor | August 25, 2011 5:17 pm

Fans of smashmouth science communication have not been disappointed by the response to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent statements on evolution. Richard Dawkins, the brilliant evolutionary biologist who is also famously combative, has slugged away in the Washington Post:

There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous “˜GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered “˜grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party “˜in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

That’s the opening paragraph. All the good stuff about why and how evolution is a fact doesn’t come until much farther down, leading Jamie Vernon at Discover magazine to lament:

In one short paragraph, Dr. Dawkins has violated nearly everything we have come to know about effective science communication.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand how Dr. Dawkins believes hurling insults, like “uneducated fools” and “ignoramus,” can advance his position. How far do you think readers of the opposite mind continued into this article?

I thought that was a reasonable criticism. But the immensely popular P.Z. Myers, also known for his own blunt, take-no-prisoners style, was having none of it:

We have a functional moron running for the presidency, and a small crop of presumably pro-science people are busily trying to shush the opposition up so they can work their clever psycho-mojo and gently enlighten Perry by”¦I don’t know, wiggling their fingers, thinking happy thoughts, or maybe they’re going to use The Force.

By now, close observers of the climate debate should recognize the parallels. There are competing pro-AGW camps, who have the same aim but use different modes of communication.

One camp likes to bloody its opponents, using the tip of the spear approach. The other camp wants to turn the climate doubters into friendlies, using the hearts and minds approach.

So they battle among themselves as they wage a war of larger consequence.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, climate politics
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  • Tom Fuller

    Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison here. There are lots of people who are lamentably ignorant of science on both sides of the political spectrum, and their ignorance becomes fodder for justifying the rightness of one’s cause.

    There are really bright people who do understand science on both sides of the political spectrum, but they get classed in with the ignoramuses because of their other political beliefs.

    On almost every scientific issue discussed over the past 50 years, there is enough room for nuance that both ignorant and intelligent could share a stance on the issue for very different issues. And the ignorant would seek shelter behind the intelligent and the opposition would use the ignorant to tar the intelligent.

    Dawkins has never sugarcoated his opinions, which I guess is fine, although Bertrand Russell made many of his arguments without vitriol and (not coincidentally) much more clearly. And Dawkins is intelligent. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who agrees with him is…

     

  • Jon P

    To be fair, equally true is:

    We have a functional moron who is the President.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Dawkins is brilliant, a fabulous writer and communicator, although Stephen Jay Gould often did it as well and more beautifully.  But Dawkins lets himself down with his vitriol, I cannot understand why he can’t see that it makes him look small, and voicing such opinions about an entire political party which governs the USA more often than not is just absurd.
    I know where it comes from, which is his battle with religion, the USA being the most religious Western country.  But to leap from disbelief that so many people can hold religious beliefs to outright abuse of half the USA, and by implication praise of the other half is ridiculous.
    The shame is it makes one suspect bias now in anything he says.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    How has accommodationism fared in terms of reducing creationism?

  • Tom Fuller

    Better than the occasional sporting slaughter of the Huguenots or whomever the heathen of the month might be.

  • Tom Fuller

    #3, I don’t think Dawkins is a tenth the writer of Gould, and I don’t think Gould was half the writer of Bertrand Russell. Vitriol explains part of the difference, but not all. Dawkins does seem to write like an avenging angel for a god he does not countenance. Gould and Russell were both human and humane, and it showed through on every page they wrote.

    Dawkins is a zealot. Like many commenters here and other bloggers in this part of the cyber universe, he comes before us with fire and a sword. And as with Dawkins, even when they make a good and real point, they do it in such a sledgehammer style that the point can be discounted.

    Style and tone count. So does respect for the reader and affection for humanity. 

  • Roddy Campbell

    Tom, I agree.  Gould never oversteps the line of respect and humanity, and is a far more beautiful writer.
    But you are not completely right about Dawkins’ writing, typically in the earlier work, without the later frustration.  It is very good.  When he goes off on one of his jags I just skim until he gets back to what he knows.
    No-one’s perfect, after all.  In a different sphere Hitchens has the same beauty and similar faults of anger, although more moderated.  Readers have to be forgiving too.

  • http://neven1.typepad.com/blog Neven

    The band played lovely music, accommodating the passengers, whilst the Titanic sank.

    Keith, do you know one big difference between evolution and AGW? Whether evolution is true or false won’t matter one bit to society, civilisation, agriculture, people’s material needs.

    But you go on looking for parallels.

  • Fred

    Personally, I like to have highly negativistic, nasty, and mean people speak their minds and identify themselves so they can be avoided.  Such people are invariably liberal Democrats.  I wonder why.

    I usually suggest that they take up drinking.  That’s where they often end up, anyway.

  • Shub

    Evolution is a dead duck. Anyone who feels passionately about ‘teaching evolution’ or ‘helping spread its message’ etc, is an idiot. The theory of evolution is an artifact of of our prior pattern of thinking – apparently one where humankind had no clue whatsoever of ‘evolution’. Therefore whoever spends enormous amounts of time and effort propping up a lesser form of stupidity , i.e., evolution, because he/she thinks it is better than a greater form of stupidity, i.e., belief in a Christian God, is clearly not worth the bother.

    The ‘evolution debate’ is about as interesting as watching different kinds of stupid people fight with each other.

    At least the ‘creationists’ and ‘intelligent design’ ers ask interesting questions. Their sense of curiosity seems preserved.

  • Keith Kloor

    Shub (10),

    Yikes! That ranks among the weirdest, most asinine comments I’ve ever received on this blog.

    It’s a keeper!

     

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @8

    well said.
     

  • Roddy Campbell

    Someone needs to read Dawkins and Gould.  I’ve rarely read books with so many interesting questions in them, and so much curiosity.
    I’ve read some ‘intelligent design’ stuff (an Evangelist Church I used to go to).  It’s contorted.

  • Keith Kloor

    Roddy (3)
    I agree with much of what you say here.

    TB (4)
    I’m actually a P.Z. fan. But it’s one thing to zing a strutting Texas governor; it’s another to strafe half the population. Remember, there is such a thing as collateral damage.

    Fred (9),

    Yup, no conservative Republican nasties. Just liberal Democrats. Do you want to be taken seriously? I mean, you’re welcome to keep posting here. But I have to ask, do you want people to take you seriously?  

  • Roddy Campbell

    Nev, I’ve been wrestling with your comment #8.
    I’m not sure that those who disbelieve evolution would agree with you, but that’s not the point at issue in the post, which is only the method of communication used to persuade.
    Keith’s point is sound, that the belligerent approach don’t work so well.  Assuming what one wants to do is persuade, of course.
     

  • mike in nc

    who cares if he brings back this economy and gets the deficit to a manageable level?
    it would be nice if everyone had a BS in a hard science and understood more of our physical existence.  however, it would only be nice and not necessary.
    sherlock holmes famously told watson he didn’t care if the sun revolved around the earth or vice versa since it did not affect his life.  “believing” in God, man made global warming, evolution, quantum mechanics and string theory don’t matter when an honest man who wants to work hard cannot find a job.  we will be at the level of a canticle for liebowitz if our economy doesn’t recover.  that is ALL that matters.
    bill clinton got credit for a great economy.  nothing else he did matters other than presiding over a boom.
    let’s have a recovery and when things are good, let’s have some passionate debate on how many angels dance on the head of a pin and whether we have lives ruled by a supernatural being or solely the laws of physics.
    God in Heaven, please let us have that argument in a world where a man or woman can have a job that provides for their family.
    from a right wing bitter clinging physician who wants peace and prosperity

  • Matt B

    #8 Nevin – you can make an equally valid statement using your  comment, just replace “AGW” with “genetically modified organisms”. AGW is not unique in the world and there are many icebergs that can take down the Titanic.
    And the statement “Whether evolution is true or false won’t matter one bit to society” is just not true. The transcendent insights of science always makes us better as a human society, and one never knows where they find application. Who could possibly have guessed that Hilbert Space would be a foundation for quantum mechanics?

  • Tom C

    Mr. Kloor –

    Quite disappointing that you still have not given us a definition of “anti-science”.  Apparently you would rather go on scoring political points rather than engaging in substantive discussion.

    In regards to Dawkins, many, many of us have no problem with evolution.  But we object to extracting metaphysical impications that are not demanded, or even supported, by the physical theory.  This is Dawkins error.  Moreover, when he writes about religion he is not just nasty, but spectacularly mis-informed.

  • TimG

    Which is worse:

    1) A president that thinks the world was created 6000 years ago?

    2) A president that thinks that government created “green jobs” are good for the economy.

    I generally have no use for creationists but I would rather have a president think loony things about irrelevant stuff than have a president think loony things that hurt the economy.

  • Shub

    Wierd? Yes. Maybe. ‘Asinine’? No. I will admit that I write cryptic comments that I wish I had a better grasp of the language to formulate, to convey my ideas better. In this case, let me try, and I am sure you’ll agree. :)

    In purely scientific terms, the ‘theory of evolution’ has reached a dead end. The most coherent expression of this phenomenon, I found, was in Robert Laughlin’s ‘A Different Universe’. You can see page number 169 of his book, with the cartoon captioned: “your mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken”, and read around that part of the book.

    If one understands evolutionary genetics, – or more simply put – if one understands genomics – the so-called ‘principles of evolution’ decompose into a myriad of more abiological(for lack of a term) genomic phenomena, *whose rules of interaction are different*. These interactions and properties therefore are more fundamental, and ‘evolution’, as it is commonly understood, becomes a surface meta-phenomenon. 

    I am a biologist by training, but one read through Futuyma gives me an enormous headache – hundreds of assumptions, perspectival switches and hundreds of unanswered questions. 

    Again, on a more fundamental scale in science, if one wishes to examine the rules of interactions between the substrate molecules of life, one does not need to invoke, ‘natural selection’. AS one adjusts the depth of focus, ‘natural selection’ appears and disappears at all scales. Look at Freeman Dyson’s Origin of Life. Metabolism is just bags of amino acid polymers. Nucleic acid parasitism of such bags produces ‘life’ as we know it. Cells become the sanctuaries for nucleic acid replication, rather than their de novo directed constructs. ‘Evolution’ loses all meaning.

     

  • Jarmo

    Abe Lincoln once said:
    ” Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”

    As I have observed here, vitriol tends to create vitriol. Also the need to prove yourself right…. I once followed online debates and some people literally spent nights arguing and trying to crush their opponents. Usually they only managed to inspire their opponents into greater counter-efforts.

    Kind of reminds me of those WW1 battles in the mud, slugging matches that were declared “moral victories” on both sides. We won so and so many yards of mud.

    Well, as long as there is hope for total victory, the war must continue!

     

  • ian

    #19
    Thing is, thinking loony things about irrelevant stuff often creeps into the relevent, from personal experience.

  • Hannah

    The first time I came across Gould was when a teacher gave me an assignment that ran something like:”In Nonmoral Nature” Gould writes: Our failure to discern a universal good does not record any lack of insight or ingenuity, but merely demonstrates that nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms. Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner. Discuss.” I am afraid that I probably rattled something down on a piece of paper in a bus while having a hangover :o) but the words stuck and this thread made me look up the article. Interesting.
     

  • Menth

    I tend to extrapolate from personal workplace experience that nobody is ever convinced that their position is wrong by first insulting them. Insofar as propelling popular movements to success is concerned with this principle I’m not as sure it applies. Perhaps it is best to be strong-headed and unyielding in circumstances of popular movements, perhaps the undecideds that tip the balance are swayed by the cocksure certainty of a particular group. I don’t know, I’m neither a sociologist nor a professional demagogue…

    That said, and I can only speak for myself, I find myself returning to this site because I enjoy hearing both sides of the debate and I find pro-agw people such as Keith, Marlowe, Sharper00, Grypo, Jonathan Gilligan etc. are far more interesting/persuasive to read because while they offer opinions that often clash or chafe against my own they do so in what is my opinion a vitally different manner than many: they more often than not, do not demonize, but merely engage in healthy debate by offering what they feel is valid evidence. I think it’s fair and healthy to say that an opposing side is wrong, misguided, or even ignorant. It’s when the demonization starts that I get turned off.

    As difficult it is in this era of “Tea Baggers vs Marxists”, “Denialists vs. Warmistas”, “Conservatards vs. Mann-Made Glo-bull Warmists” or whatever other dumbass portmanteaus each side uses, I -perhaps naively- believe in good faith that at their core each side has the same motive: to promulgate policy and philosophy that best promotes human flourishing in the coming decades. Yes there is a chasm between the two, a fundamental cultural dissonance, but I believe the core intent is the same.

    No matter how stupid you think -or know- the other side is, the fact of the matter is we live in a democracy and by definition that means accepting a plurality of viewpoints and working within that cacophony to persuade and build consensus.
     

  • TimG

    #21 – ian

    The choice is not between loony and non-loony.

    It is between loony about issues A, B and C
    and loony about issues X, Y and Z

    I think a Creationist loony is less harmful than an Economics loony.

  • stan

    There is nothing more anti-science than someone saying that science is settled.  Especially in an area where the vast majority of the questions remain well beyond our ability to answer.

    When Mann or Jones or Rahmstorf or Hansen or Steig or Briffa commit ridiculously stupid blunders in the course of their work, it is those who point out the mistakes who are doing science.  Those who demand that the critics be silenced or barred from publishing are the ones who are “anti-science”. 

    Those who seek transparency, audit, and replication are the ones standing up for science.  Those who resist are anti-science.

    A spokesman for the vice president used a particularly nasty slander that is quite popular on the left these days to lie about scientists he disagreed with.  His behavior was most certainly anti-science.

    To partake of the vitriol for a moment — what should we make of these incredibly stupid, nasty, “anti-science” lowlifes whose work is to deny the scientific process?  Or the incredibly stupid, nasty, lowlifes who support these “anti-science” idiots financially and politically?

    Hmmmmm.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/ William M. Connolley

    Blood and vitriol is the only way to burn out the fools. Though stan’s ignorance looks acid-proof to me.

    “To partake of the vitriol for a moment “” what should we make of these incredibly stupid, nasty, “anti-science” lowlifes whose work is to deny the scientific process?” 

    stan: you’re talking about yourself. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Blood and vitriol is the only way to burn out the fools.

    I disagree.  Trolls regenerate.
    Love and light are sounder alternatives.  There are many more: virtues once were what held the world together.

  • lou

    Understanding of evolution by those in power matters a great deal.  Without an understanding of the origins and progression of changes how can anyone value the importance of maintaining vast areas of wildness, the wellspring of evolution and resiliency of life on earth?  In the end these values shaped by our understanding or misunderstanding or ideologies matter very much.  There is much evidence that we highly undervalue that which is most important.  Part of that evidence is our floundering, unsustainable economy that is at the center of our attention.  Economic renewal will not come without ecological renewal but this will hinge largely upon a radical shift in worldview based fundamentally on an understanding of how this world actually works.   

  • Lazar

    “How far do you think readers of the opposite mind”

    An achievable objective is to stop the contagion from spreading, not to convert the deluded and/or dishonest.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/ William M. Connolley

    >> Blood and vitriol is the only way to burn out the fools.
    > I disagree.  Trolls regenerate.  

    Not in the Forgotten Realms. The best way of killing them was with acid, though apparently fire works too (http://www.thieves-guild.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-576.html

  • Tom Scharf

    One can clearly have issues with AGW, particularly AGW attributions and predictions

    AND

    Totally support the theory of evolution.

    This is scientifically consistent, and claiming it is not is truly anti-science.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    I love the way   WC talks tuff. 

  • klem

    ” Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory.”


    Wow, ad hominem verbal assaults. Well done Dawkins, that’s a great way to win over the crowd. Lol!

    Cheers


     

  • Ed Forbes

    Richard Dawkins:  “..Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today”¦”

    Richard comes off as a fool with this statement. The best that can be said of Darwin was that Darwin MAY have been partly right.
    Several THEORIES of evolution out there that are each strongly supported by hard data and are contradictory.
    Gould and Darwin, for two, cannot be both right”¦..though they may be both partially right.
    So”¦WHICH theory of evolution does Richard support as the true gospel?

  • Keith Kloor

    Ed,

    You get the runner up award for asinine comment on evolution–The Shubster is still the undisputed king. 

    But, hey just for kicks, please explain to me how disagreements within evolutionary biology undermines evolution–as a fact. 

  • Ed Forbes

    Keith
    Take the statement seen out there: “I support that climate change is a fact..not a theory”
    OK so far”¦but now let’s talk about the underlying cause of climate change.
    One side says “natural causes are changing the current climate”¦.man has little affect on current climate”
    Another side says “man is causing the change in current climate and natural process has little affect”

    Both support “climate change”, but both are in contradiction with each other.
    Evolution has the same issues. Has the earth’s critters changed over time..yes
    Now”¦.what was the process that caused the change and what was the time period needed to complete the change. This question causes major fights answering this question.
    Or are you trying to tell me that the “science is settled” in regard to evolution?
    Personally I do not care what anyone thinks on evolution. I do think that evolution makes a great counter to the “science is settled” motif when people try to argue that theories are facts.
    And evolution is NOT a fact”¦it is a theory. And there several theories on evolution that are supported that dispute each other.
     

  • Keith Kloor

    Ed,

    I can’t go down the rabbit hole with you. It’s tempting…if only to help you find your way back. Then again, I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. (This is probably more like it.)

    But if you’re sincerely befuddled about evolution (as opposed to trolling for Intelligent Design), then you can diddle around here.

    I’ll just end by saying–again–that certain disputes about evolution among biologists does not negate evolution itself. The actual process of evolution is uncontested and not in scientific dispute.

  • Jon P

    That “uneducated” Rick Perry was a Captain in the Air Force where he piloted C-130’s. Correct me if I am wrong, but you have to be fairly intelligent to be a pilot in the military, no? All the pilots I met when I was in long ago were certainly intelligent.

    Thank you for the complete crap of an article, the silver lining is I have researched and read more about Perry and have a respect for him for his service and his accomplishements. I’ll leave it to my friends on the left to continue the personal attacks against those with who they disagree with, but certainly do not know the person, at all.

  • Tom Gray

    Hannah quotes this about Gould and evolutionary theory

    ==============
    The first time I came across Gould was when a teacher gave me an assignment that ran something like:”In Nonmoral Nature” Gould writes: Our failure to discern a universal good does not record any lack of insight or ingenuity, but merely demonstrates that nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms. Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner. Discuss.”
    ==============

    One thing that is beginning to be seen in evolution is that what we call moral behavior can be selected for. So cooperation as a strategy has evolutionary advantages. Cooperation as a strategy is something that naturally comes out of cooperation. AI simulations with competition between autonomous entities clearly shows the natural tendency to specialization and cooperation. Cooperation can breed compassion and that we see s moral. Morality is of advantage evolutionarily and the capacity for it is selected.

    So If I were asked to discuss Gould’s statement, I would be asking how he accounts for the innate sense of “fairness” that is seen in humanity and other animals. Why does humanity honor compassion. The clear answer to me is that cooperation and moral behavior is of great advantage in evolutionary terms.

    My own conclusion would be that Gould exhibits a very limited and naive view on what constitutes morality and what its function is. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto has written on this. I think that consulting his work helps in understanding the implications on both sides of the culture wars. This is especially true for understanding the position of the self-styled high IQ types like Dawkins and their strawman rhetoric. Their understanding of the functioning and purpose of morality and religion is limited and naive.

  • Ed Forbes

    Keith”…But if you’re sincerely befuddled about evolution (as opposed to trolling for Intelligent Design…”

    Where the hell I ever supported ID?  And where the hell do you come off saying I am trolling for ID?
    This has come up several times and I have been  VERY clear that I support S. J. Gould over Charles Darwin.
    You are the one that refuses to acknowledge that there are clear fault lines in science on what causes changes that bring new species into being.

    And you are the one who refues to correctly state what is, or is not, a fact.

  • Tom Gray


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zCP9mW0GH4

    I put this up before, It is a debate between the the philosopher Raymond de Sousa and Jordan Peterson on the topic “Can We Live Without the Sacred”. De Sousa is a well-known “bright” in the Dawkins/Dennett camp. Jordan Peterson has done extensive work on the purpose of religion in human society. I think that its sheds light on the atheist/religious culture war and indirectly the evolution/creation aspects of this war.
    My opinion is that de Sousa does not rise far above the strawman level of argument while Peterson gives a scholarly summary that increases our understanding of the issue

  • stan

    William,

    Hmmm. “Ignorant”?  Well, if as august a personage as you declares it, can it be anything but the final word?  I’ve never been sliced and diced quite so cleverly as that.  Quite a talent you have there.  With talent like that, one can only wonder at the multitudes you have swayed to you side.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom Gray (40)
    “Their understanding of the functioning and purpose of morality and religion is limited and naive.”

    Notwithstanding the sweeping nature of this statement, what does it have to do with scientific validity of evolution, which is what Rick Perry doubts and folks like Ed Forbes muddies with talk of disciplinary squabbles? There are lots of very interesting and unresolved debates within evolutionary biology over what gave rise to religion, altruism, etc.

    Meanwhile the process of natural selection is not in dispute, which is what I am referring to when I speak of evolution. 

  • Tom Gray

    re 44

    ================
    Tom Gray (40)
    “Their understanding of the functioning and purpose of morality and religion is limited and naive.”
    Notwithstanding the sweeping nature of this statement, what does it have to do with scientific validity of evolution, which is what Rick Perry doubts and folks like Ed Forbes muddies with talk of disciplinary squabbles? There are lots of very interesting and unresolved debates within evolutionary biology over what gave rise to religion, altruism, etc.
    ==================

    I was referring to the Gould quotation and the the naive strawman arguments that I dhear from the brights like Dawkins and the rest. However it was a request that the level of debate be raised above the naive level that is common in this culture war

  • Blair

    I agree with #32 Tom, and will add a layer to it: while there are true believers like Senator Inhofe who deny all aspects of AGW there exist a large number of individuals labelled “skeptics” and “deniers” by their detractors who do not deny the science of AGW. They have issues with attribution; the level of certainty associated with predictions made by the models; and proposed policy alternatives intended to address AGW which they feel have little or no chance of affecting AGW but could pauper the nation.

    Many of these individuals have extensive scientific backgrounds and recognize that evolution is a theory much in the same way that gravitation is a theory. That is while the precise mechanisms are not completely understood the models have been well-studied and well-tested against real-world experience and the use of the word “theory” is simply an artefact of their origins.

    To conflate the skeptics with those who deny the existence of evolution belittles the former while lending some shred of credibility to the latter which certainly does not benefit either debate.

  • Keith Kloor

    Blair (46),

    I’ve tried mightily not to conflate those two wings of the climate skeptic camp. But then when I put up a post arguing that the Inhofe “true believers” represent the public face of climate skepticism (AKA Rick Perry), and that this is to the detriment of rational-minded skeptics, nearly all the comments I get take offense at this.

    But virtually none take offense at the Perry/Inhofe/Morano worldview, which shapes the dominant climate skeptic view reflected in the public discourse.

  • TimG

    Keith,

    Perhaps this could help you understand the reaction:

    I am firmly in the ‘i-believe-the-science-but-not-the-policy’ camp.
    I am no patience for creationists, anti-vaxxers, homeopaths or astrologers.

    Yet I am not dismayed to see folks like Perry gain prominence.
    Because people like him will keep ‘climate change solutions’ off the political agenda.

    With more moderate folks you never know if they might suddenly catch the bug and start trying to subsidize ‘green’ jobs or jack up electricity rates to fund renewable white elephants.

    I would be satisfied with a politician who clearly says – i believe in the science but there no way i will bring in any CO2 mitigation policies.

    But politics is never that nuanced. You get the ‘I will stops the seas from rising’ Obama or ‘It is all bunk’ Perry.

     

  • Blair

    Keith,

    It is probably laziness on my part but when the Inhofe-style “true believers” get going on climate change I completely tune them out. Perhaps that is my mistake and I as a “lukewarmer” should be more critical of them but I suppose the whack-a-mole feeling to it has just gets to me. Ironically this is somewhat like dealing with evolution deniers who claim that we have a hole in the fossil record and when the hole is filled with a new archaeological find then claim that there are now two holes one on either side of the find that now must be filled. But there are only so many hours in the day and days in the week. As a gent who has a  young family and a full-time job I tend to limit my reactions to those issues that directly affect me, like a local school district looking to teach intelligent design to innocent school kids or a local government proposing that my children’s school use their limited resources to buy carbon credits that may or may not even be real let alone have a legitimate chance to reduce our global carbon dioxide footprint. So is it my fault?…possibly… am I going to do better tomorrow?…probably not….should I make the effort?…absolutely.

  • Tom Gray

    For me, some interesting questions to be asked would be:

    a) Why is humanity interested in science?

    b) Why is humnanity interested in moral issues?

    c) How are these questions related?

    Dawkins and the rest of the “brights” seem to answer question b) by saying that humnanity was comprised of  a bunch of fools until the Enlightenment revealed the golden path to kowedge in empiricism and  experimental sciecne. I think that there can be more insightful answers to these questions.

    My answer to question c) is that the interest in both fields comes from the same source. Humanity is alone in a chaotic and indifferent universe

  • Shub

    “But, hey just for kicks, please explain to me how disagreements within evolutionary biology undermines evolution”“as a fact. ”

    Yeah, let us hide fundamental ‘disagreements’ or questions over the very basis for holding up evolution as a prime mover, away from the public, lest any of the evil creationists use these weaknesses to claim a victory for their side. Yeah, let us do that.

  • Blair

    Shub (51),
    The debates and disagreements in the evolutionary biology community are not over the “very basis for holding up evolution as a prime mover”¦”. They are over the intricacies of the process. To suggest otherwise is either to be disingenuous or to demonstrate a woeful lack of knowledge of the topic. Discussions on “punctuated equilibrium” or “lateral gene transfer” are the analogous to debates about the location of cup holders in an SUV. They have no effect on whether the SUV functions (or exists for that matter) but are of great interest to those limited number of people interested in the minutiae of the topic. These debates reflect disagreements about the process and as areas for continued research have significant relevance for our understanding of genetic inheritance and disease transmission but certainly don’t challenge the basis for our belief in, or general understanding of, evolution.  

  • Keith Kloor

    Shub, given that you are one of the more vocal voices in the skeptic sphere, do you have any idea how your comments on evolution and intelligent design (this one is a classic) must make your fellow climate skeptics cringe?

    At least, I’m assuming they’re cringing. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Blair,

    Our comments crossed. I’m glad to see your response to Shub. I hope it counts more coming from you.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    this one is a classic

    Which one?  The link seems broken. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Ok.  From here, it works.  From the Reader, it does not, since the URL is relative to this very page. 

  • kdk33

    AGW and Evolution prove one fact:

    Way too many people are way too certain about way too many things.

    If Perry will cut spending, put an end to the green economy scam, roll back over-regulation, and (gasp) take on entitlements, he can worship little green man from mars for all I care.

    This is a pretty simple case of smearing Perry with the irrelevant to avoid discussing the obvious – like we got no jobs, companies aren’t willing to invest, government is out of control, and the fearless healer of the planet is demonstrably cluless (or negligent, you pick).

    It’s like blaming the tea party (those dangerously radical fiscal conservatives) for the debt downgrade.  As if… one wonders about brain sprain, but I guess liberal commentators were “taking one for the team”.

    And Keith, your use of asanine, in this particular thread, is indeed enlightening.

    The two questions – does evolution happen, does god exist – are largely independant.  Natural selection is easily observed in petri dishes and certain british moths and many other places.  But, If the difference between an elephant (supposedly really good memory) and a butterfly (causes of distant major hurricanes) is one order of magnitude.  Then the difference between humans and any non-human animal you care to pick is about seven orders of magnitude.
    The true ignormaous is the one who thinks he can explain humanity.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @52
    Without knowing your position on the subject, let me suggest that your objection is widely shared by those of us that accept the mainstream view of climate change science. In particular I’d highlight this point:

    “Debates are over the intricacies of the process. To suggest otherwise is either to be disingenuous or to demonstrate a woeful lack of knowledge of the topic.” 

    Now Keith I’m curious why you don’t treat the scores of AGW ‘skeptics’ on this site with the same scorn as  you do with Shub when it comes to evolution, given that exactly the same kind of disingenous tactics and/or willful ignorance is so clearly evident…

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (58),

    Holy crap, have you been reading my exhausting, futile exchanges with all the skeptics this past week?

      

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @Keith
    I’ll admit you appear to be turning over a new leaf 😉

    @Blair
    as a self-professed lukewarmer, how would you respond to the argument put forth here

  • Keith Kloor

    kdk33 (57)

    That’s one heaping of warmed-over Shrub you served up. 

  • Shub

    Blair,

    What we understand as ‘evolution’, ‘natural selection’ etc, is *not* the SUV of biology. That doesn’t mean that I am saying it doesn’t exist either.

    You may have a view of the progression of life forms that places evolution as a largely settled body of knowledge. That, however means nothing. I am not saying I am any exception either – I am in the same boat as well.

    Let us instead listen, to what someone far more wiser than us, has to say about ‘evolution’:

     “Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!”

    -Robert Laughlin

    As we get closer and closer to the substratum of ‘life’ – proteins, metabolites, signaling molecules and nucleic acids, the so-called principles of evolution simply unravel. Each of them can be shown to be artifacts of the interaction of more fundamental properties.

    Take the principle of gradualism, for example (as opposed to the fact of gradualism – I am not denying that, lest we chase that red herring). Gradualism is materially dependant on the fact that small spontaneous mutations occur in the genetic code, for instance, that encodes for a body part or a region. Mutation, in turn, inseparable from life itself – it is a pre-condition for the existence of life. (A 100% error-free DNA/RNA polymerase, even in an evolved world, would wipe out the organism that possesses such an enzyme). Mutations however are blind to whether they produce drastic changes or subtle changes to a given phenotype. Those producing drastic changes result in violence – either the organism is wiped out or it takes down a significant number of its fellows. In other words, even within apparently ‘gradual’ processes, lie hidden an enormous array of saltatory events, or, punctuations, if you will. In other words, gradualism is an artifact. It can be understood as the special-case scenario when a spontanous mutation rate interacts with a very slow-changing environment.

    The above was just one example. But, when the so-called principle of a major theory can be demonstrably reduced to two/more further other properties, the said major theory is no longer important to us in science. It is no longer interesting, or useful. The theory of evolution is in that position.

     Try this experiment. Take up your favorite ten evolutionary principles. Gradualism, natural selection, natural variability, etc. Break it down to its genomic bases. Throw away the so-called ‘principles’ You will still be able to explain the natural world.

    Keith,
    I am not worried that my fellow skeptics/anyone reading, will cringe. I provide reasoning, and citations, to the reasonable extent I can. Evolution is not a hyper-politicized topic in my mind. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (60),

    Oh, spare me. You sound like my six year old, who complains when he perceives his little brother is getting away with something that he couldn’t get away with.

    I’d never have time for anything else if all I did was shoot down all the phony charges and petty insults hurled pretty much equally from both sides. Like I’ve said before, it just depends which side perceives to be on the receiving end of a particular post.

    I’ve spent way too much time in these threads of late, as it is. I’ll be choosing my spots more selectively from here on in.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith spare me instead.  read the link I provided @ #60 and then perhaps you’ll have a better sense of where I’m coming from…

  • Shub

    To,
    Marlowe,
    Respected Member
    Stalinist Football Club
    Warmistan

    Dear Marlowe,
    You don’t have to worry that Keith Kloor does not treat skeptical views about the fraud that is anthropogenic global warming, with any less scorn. Please rest assured, that even as we speak, my comments make their way through a special net – “your comment is awaiting moderation”.

    I am pretty sure you don’t see such second-class citizen status accorded to you. And why would you think that would be, dear warmist sir? Is it perhaps because, despite your hyper-partisan and aggresive rhetoric that you indulge in, you make as though you support “the scientists” and “the consensus” and “belief in anthropogenic warming”?

    At least, that is how I console myself.

    Moreover, for Keith to pour ‘scorn’ on my understanding or views about evolution, he has to grasp it first, as do you. Until then, the currency of such scorn is devalued.

    Yours
     -Shub

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Oh and I let me suggest that a *big* problem that lots of us have is with your false balance narrative a la

    ” all the phony charges and petty insults hurled pretty much equally from both sides.”

    If you want to know why you don’t get the ‘respect’ of WMC (who I think came off pretty poorly in his most recent non-apology), well there’s your answer…. 

  • rustneversleeps

    Free the Shub!

  • Keith Kloor

    The shub is free to comment here, as should be obvious. He is one of about three or four people on moderation (like the Rabbet), for abusive language. 

  • TimG

    #60 Marlow,

    On your link “refuting” luke warmers.

    I don’t see anything but a lot of adhom and an appeal to the unproven authority of the climate models (even the so called “empirical evidence” relies on models and the assumptions built into models).

    OTOH, it ignores the most compelling argument for low senstivity: the last 115 years. I realize that warmists would like to write off the non-warming as ‘noise’ but that is assumption that could easily be proven wrong.

  • TimG

    That should be last 15 (fifteen) not 115.

  • Ivp0

    So…. are these writers suggesting that belief in The Bible or to question the theory of evolution somehow disqualifies a candidate from becoming a US president?  This may come as a shock to most of our past presidents and many of our greatest scientists who also believed in The Bible as a practiced form of freedom of expression and freedom of religion.  It seems that “the evolution question” is becoming some sort of thinly veiled religious test that is quite contrary to our constitution:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_religious_test_clause

  • Blair

    Marlowe (#60),
    Having read your link I can now understand where you are coming from. The link while entertaining is best described by TimG (#69) as a series of ad homs and appeals to authority. The link does not delve into the models that serve as the basis of the predictions of the effects of a doubling of CO2 and uses an appeal to authority to assure us that a temperature increase of 2°C will be, in and of itself, catastrophic. I will respectfully make up my own mind and happily have the education and training to do so. Keith, I put a short bio in Judith Curry’s “denizens” section but Marlowe suffice it to say while I am not an expert I am better equipped than many to come to an independent decision as to the reliability of the computer models.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I find this page fascinating.  @35, Ed Forbes rightly criticizes a quote from Richard Dawkins by pointing out evolution as a theory has far more uncertainty than Dawkins suggests.  Ten minutes later, Keith Kloor insults this comment and mockingly asks Forbes how that “uncertainty undermines evolution-as a fact.”  Of course, Kloor’s response is absurd.  Forbes never suggested anything like what Kloor says.  (I’m leaving aside the issue of calling evolution a “fact.”)

    Forbes responds again, and again Kloor condescendingly responds while misrepresenting what Forbes has said.  The next comment from Forbes rightly expresses frustration at being so blatantly misrepresented (and implicitly insulted), a comment to which Kloor never responds.

    Apparently the moral of this thread is, if you express anything which even sounds like a position Kloor dislikes, he can respond in any way he wants, and it doesn’t matter.  Not only will he refuse to address his ridiculous comments, it’s likely nobody else will do so either.  Given this, it is no surprise Kloor says @47:

    I’ve tried mightily not to conflate those two wings of the climate skeptic camp. But then when I put up a post arguing that the Inhofe “true believers” represent the public face of climate skepticism (AKA Rick Perry), and that this is to the detriment of rational-minded skeptics, nearly all the comments I get take offense at this.

    This comment is dumbfounding.  Anyone can click on the link Kloor provides and see for themselves how untrue it is.  There are over a hundred comments on that page, and only a handful could be said to show any signs of offense.  I have no idea how one manages to exaggerate what may be a few percent into “most.”

    I find blatant misrepresentations and flagrant exaggerations disturbing anytime I see them, especially when they are used to belittle.  I don’t know why people would just ignore them, but I’d like to think people would speak up more if they weren’t coming from the blog host himself.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Also, I have a request for people in general.  Please remember “creationism” is not synonymous with Young Earth Creationism, Christian fundamentalism, Intelligent Design or anything like that.  It is a broad category in which those all fall, but it includes much more than them.  Those topics those topics get the most attention within creationism, but it is wrong to conflate a category with the individual members of the category.

    There is no need for creationism to conflict with science.

  • Stu

    I’m sure Keith is sick to death pointing out to everyone he is not a denier when he criticises when someone oversteps science in order to sell AGW, nor is he a dyed in the wool alarmist hanging on every pronouncement of doom just because he believes that the majority of climate scientists are honest. Just as I’m sick of people assuming that I vote conservatively or believe in creationism when I stick up for FOIA and transparency, This is all a waste of time as far as I’m concerned and it actually pisses me off that the debate is constantly reduced to this kind of childishness. The only thing that needs defending here is to let peoples arguments stand or fall on their own merit, and what needs denouncing is this ridiculous impulse to package people into neat little ideological boxes all the time.

  • Barry Woods

    75#

    +1 

  • kdk33

    @74

    Well said; well said.

    for those unable to see the gulf, the gynormous quantitative and qualitative difference between humanity and their nearest animal cousin:  how sad to live not appreciating the mystery that is human life.

    What evolution has to do with AGW I simply don’t know.  I’m reminded of debate I saw between Lindzen and Emanuel.  Emanuel was linking tobacco with AGW denial.

    So, the smearing of AGW non-believers as “anti science” isn’t new.  Neither is painting republicans as evil, ignorant, gun-totin’, bible thumpin’, knuckle draggin’, constitutionallists.

    In the end, we have the elections of 2010. 

    Irene made landfall as a (gasp) Cat 1. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Ed Forbes said:

    > So”¦WHICH theory of evolution does Richard support as the true gospel?

    Auditors will note the expression “true gospel”.  

    That species evolved through natural selection is the best explanation of the evidence we have. More than that, it is so overwhelming that it can only be a fact.  Both Dawkins and Gould agree with that fact.  People who’d like to enter this semantic debate can take their best shot.  

    Saying that evolution is “only” a theory, or that there are many interpretations of evolution, or that there are still open problems in the details of evolution theory (Keith’s “squabbles” in #44) misses the mark, to say the least.  

    I’m not sure which version of this minimization you are willing to defend, but they all miss the point of Dawkins’ title, a title about which even Gould would have to struggle to disagree.

    Facts are always underdetermined by theories.  To suppose that there are facts that do not stand on some theory begs to be explained.  Science may never be settled, but there sure are scientific propositions that look more settled than others.

  • Keith Kloor

    @74 “There is no need for creationism to conflict with science.”

    But it does.

    By all means, go ahead and square the circle with your unique logic.

  • Lazar

    “exhausting, futile exchanges”
    Indeed.
    All we need is…
    Steven McIntyre to go through with a fine tooth comb every study which supports evolution, and publicize every overblown error for a decade hence.
    A ‘lukewarmer’ to claim that ‘skeptics’ will become open to reason once their daft views are treated with seriousness and respect (not “asinine” — Keith!) — and hey, there are intelligent people on both sides of the debate! With the middle ground thus created, ‘lukewarmers’ call for every piece of code, data and email to be released in order to ‘restore the publics’ trust’.
    Spencer to get a paper skeptical of evolution rejected multiple times, and Judith Curry to call this the ‘censorship’ of ‘dissenters’.
    And the mirror image of the utter bs which is the climate debate would be complete.

  • Tom Fuller

    80 very kindly proves the point of 75. Nicely done.

  • laursaurus

    What is Dawkins’ opinion on climate change?
    I also think that there is an element of British elitism that plays into Dawkins’ scorn of US politics in general.
    The irony of his worldview is that he is completely incapable of separating science from his political and religious beliefs. His arguments go like this. Evolution is a scientific fact. Therefore, there is no god. Religion is the enemy of science, because evolution proves there is no god. Rick Perry is religious. Hence he is evil. My benevolent mission is to enlighten America with the truth.
    By using evolution as a club to beat down belief in God, it will be perceived as threat. When “facts” are invoked to further an ideological agenda, the natural reaction is skepticism. Here is where the similarities between evolution and global warming become apparent.
    TB quips that accomodationists have no success. How many school boards has Dawkins persuaded to teach evolution compared with Eugenie Scott? If it weren’t for her work, only Catholic schools would be teaching evolution. The woman is the patron saint of science education, albeit an openly secular humanist. I invite everyone to watch one of her lectures. She rescues evolution from the mire of controversy and restores it to it’s proper scientific place. Even the most rock-ribbed creationist knows that everything changes slowly over time. Claiming that rejecting evolution is akin to stagnating societal progression is absurd.  I have no problem accepting evolution and believing in God.
    If accepting climate change means the facts support a political agenda, people who disagree with that style of politics are going to question the accuracy of those facts. Calling them anti-science just creates even more suspicion.
    The biggest problem is none of the purposed remedies can accomplish the purposed goal of halting global warming. Even if a one world government environmental dictatorship was enacted, would we succeed at cooling the planet back down by a fraction of a degree? Or even keep it absolutely consistent for eternity? If I walk to the store today instead of driving, believing that will have a benevolent effect on the planet is not supported by the “science.” 

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    laursaurus makes some sense until the last paragraph.

    “Even if a one world government environmental dictatorship was enacted, would we succeed at cooling the planet back down by a fraction of a degree?”

    No, not substantially on a socially relevant timescale, not without some massively expensive sequestration or geoengineering efforts. That is the whole point that people seem to miss. The damage we are doing is irreversible and cumulative.

    “Or even keep it absolutely consistent for eternity?”

    No, what a silly strawman. But we could still probably prevent changes that are of unprecedented rapidity and scale.

    “If I walk to the store today instead of driving, believing that will have a benevolent effect on the planet is not supported by the “science.” ”

    This is simply wrong. That the walk you take will have a very tiny effect unless repeated by many others is surely true, but to say that it has no effect is nonsensical at best, or worse still deliberately misleading.

    I agree that one must take care in how one presents things. It is stupid to deliberately offend. However, one must also take into account that some of the most vocal opposition to taking the evidence seriously is setting up a defense mechanism that is based on taking offense quickly.

    Nothing in the claim of greenhouse gas sensitivity contradicts any religion I know of. It is nevertheless obviously true that the paleoclimate branch of climate science, along with the whole of geology, is inconsistent with a fundamentalist young-earth hypothesis. 

    While I tend to leave argumentation aimed at fundamentalists to others, I also insist that science is not incompatible with a view of the world that is religious and has a sense of the sacred. I think Dawkins and Myers do the world no service with their screeds.

    But religion is not fundamentalism. I cannot say I understand fundamentalists so I am the wrong person to say how to approach them.

    If I were to address fundamentalists, if I met someone who could be rational and somehow hold a biblical young-earth view anyway, I would say to them, okay, all this paleo evidence must be discarded in your deliberations. The stratification in ice cores is clearly inexplicable but the variations therein, and similarly in sediments, clearly have to mean something different than the scientific community understands.

    This makes our uncertainty about climate sensitivity larger. This makes it harder to constrain the high end sensitivity. And thus the curatorial responsibility for the future of the world that God assigned us in Genesis is even more under threat from the obvious accumulation of our emissions. 

    Of course, as I see it there would be no fossil fuels at all without fossils, nor without geologists who know where to look for them, so the whole young earth point of view just seems so rife with confusion in the first place that I find it hard to imagine. So I am the wrong person to make this argument. Scientists who grew up in a fundamentalist culture are better suited.

    I insist on a point, though, one which fundamentalists and militant atheists alike ignore, is that religion is not identical to fundamentalism, and that one can be a scientist or a follower of science without abandoning the spiritual benefits of religion.
     

    I think this is fairly obvious but other people seem not to. So I take the time to say it now and again.
     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    I mostly liked #75, though I think FOI is a severely counterproductive approach to opening policy relevant science.

    I also enjoyed #80 a lot. I think it’s brilliant.

    Go figure.

  • TimG

    The comparison between creationism and climate change skeptism is rather pathetic.

    Creationism is not science because it plays the ‘god’ wildcard anytime something cannot be explained. Science is about finding explainations – not insisting there is no need to look because god did it.

    Climate scepticism is about looking at the evidence and finding alternative scientific explainations for the observed phenomena. 

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    @79, Keith Kloor responds to me pointing out the obvious, creationism doesn’t have to conflict with evolution, by saying:

    But it does.
    By all means, go ahead and square the circle with your unique logic.

    The first thing I want to point out is he ignored my somewhat lengthy comment in which I detail him misrepresenting and mistreating Ed Forbes.  Nothing Ed Forbes said merited the responses he got, but apparently this will go unanswered.

    The second thing I want to point out is there is nothing unique about my “logic.”  It’s shared by millions of people.  The only reason creationism and evolution are considered to conflict is that a subset of creationism is conflated with creationism itself.  Once one stops operating under that incorrect conflation, it becomes immediately obvious there is no inherent conflict.

    But by all means Keith Kloor, ignore what people say when you don’t like the sounds of it.  Don’t bother trying to understand their remarks.  Mock them rather than address anything they say.

    And don’t forget to complain about people denying obvious truths…

  • Keith Kloor

    Brandon (86),

    Just because you wrote a lengthy comment means it made sense or was worth responding to. I stand by my response to Ed Forbes. 

    Clearly, evolution is a touchy subject for you and some others.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Keith Kloor, obviously the length of the comment doesn’t imply sensibility or value.  I doubt anyone would suggest such, and I certainly didn’t.  However, I think any fair reading of this page will show your comments are ridiculous, and I will continue to think that until I am given some reason to think otherwise.  If you don’t want to respond to something I say, that’s your right.  It’s my right to point out your behavior in this thread has been pathetic.  It’s also my right to point out your behavior is completely unjustified.  It is even my right to point out you haven’t addressed the criticisms of your behavior.  You can shut down discussions as much as you want, but that doesn’t preclude people from continuing talking about the subjects.

    By the way, evolution isn’t a touchy subject for me at all.  It would be nice if you avoided saying things about me are “clearly” true when they aren’t even remotely true.  If you’re going to make things up about me, you could at least avoid attaching strong adjectives to your claims.  Then again, I suppose this comment is pointless.  After all, while it would also be nice if you would actually bother to address anything I’ve said, at this point, I think it’s clear I shouldn’t expect you to.

  • Ed Forbes

    I told my wife that I have been accused of “trolling for ID” and she broke up giggling.
    She made the point that there are 3 general religious labels, Religious / Agnostic / Atheist, and I did not fit any of these. You have to care about the subject for any of these to apply, and I do not.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    As previously noted in a comment that went unchallenged, Ed Forbes conflates in #35 the fact that species evolved with the nuts and bolts of evolution theory.  The conflation is more obvious with this formulation:

    > Richard comes off as a fool with this statement [that evolution is a fact as securely established as any in science]. The best that can be said of Darwin was that Darwin MAY have been partly right.  Several THEORIES of evolution out there that are each strongly supported by hard data and are contradictory.

    This conflation was spotted by Keith Kloor in #36:

    >  Please explain to me how disagreements within evolutionary biology undermines evolution”“as a fact.

    Shollenberger’s interpretation of Ed Forbes’ argument:

    >  @35, Ed Forbes rightly criticizes a quote from Richard Dawkins by pointing out evolution as a theory has far more uncertainty than Dawkins suggests.

    counts as a misrepresentation of what Forbes said in #35 and his claim that:

    > Forbes never suggested anything like what Kloor says.

    has no merit.

  • Ed Forbes

    Willard

    In  #90, I find that I am missing your point.
    .
    I do find that I am starting to see this whole dissuasion as amusing though. So much has gone back and forth on what I have been said to have meant that I am starting to confuse myself  J
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Ed Forbes,

    You have yet to explain how disagreements within evolutionary biology undermines the fact that species evolved.  Dawkins only needs to say something like “we have fossils, we won, get over it” to justify his matter of fact.  The argument that theories are not facts has no bite against that.
     

  • Ed Forbes

    Willard: “You have yet to explain how disagreements within evolutionary biology undermines the fact that species evolved…”

    Ok..Misunderstanding
    Richard Dawkins: “Evolution is a fact”
    Contrast with
    Science on Trial “Every scientific claim is a hypothesis, however well supported it may be.”
    Popper: “If a theory is falsifiable, then it is scientific; if it is not falsifiable, then it is not science”
    Well supported theories change or are thrown out over time as they are falsified. Classic examples of this is the shift from Maxwellian/Newtonian physics to Einsteinian/Quantum physics in the early 20th century and the change from the Geosyncline Hypothesis to Plate Tectonics in the 1950s-60’s.
    Evolution as a THEORY postulates why the FACT of speciation as is seen.
    Major parts of Darwin’s original theory may be in danger of being falsified with punctuated equilibrium or other theories on evolution. The general theory of evolution does not live or die on Darwin.  The general idea holds, but expounding with Darwin’s theory as a “fact” is not being very scientific.

     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Ed Forbes,

    Here is the complete sentence from Dawkins, with our emphasis:

    > Evolution is a fact, **as securely established as any in science**.

    The emphasized part, omitted from #93, should suffice to satisfy any falsificationist stricture one might have against Dawkins’ conception of scientific fact.

    Dawkins does not need to hold any interpretation of evolution to say it’s a fact.  I see no reason to consider facts as infalsifiable.  Preceding everything with “the theory of” and “the conjecture of” would not clarify anything at all.

    ***

    Reading a bit about Popper’s opinion about evolution, I stumbled upon this:

    http://laboratoriogene.info/Ciencia_Hoje/Popper1978.pdf

    Interestingly, we read in that lecture that Popper revised his opinion about the falsifiability of natural selection.  We also read (p. 354) a praise of **Selfish Gene** by Richard Dawkins.

    These are two anecdotes that have no bearings on the matter at hand, but I thought them worth sharing.

  • http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/ Robert Grumbine

    Creationism does span quite a range of things.  One tail of the spectrum, theistic evolution, has no fundamental argument with science.
    @85: The comparison stands pretty well.  Where young earth creationists reach for ‘god did it’, the Inhofe crew reaches for ‘Tax  increase”.  It also holds up when one considers that Inhofe, Shimkus, … are also young earth creationists.  See also the ‘institute for creation research’ for colocated information on young earth creationism and Inhofe-crowd ‘climate science’.
     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Robert Grumbine, thanks for chiming in.  It’s good to see someone who understands the distinction I pointed out.  “Creationism” as a term existed long before any Christians adopted it for themselves, and it’s dismaying to see so many people ignore that.

  • Ed Forbes

    Willard

    Thank you for the link. I enjoyed reading it.

    One take away quote from the link that highlights why I enjoy reading Popper. pg 341
     “I am against intellectual arrogance, and especially against the misconceived claim that we have the truth in our pockets, or that we can approach certainty”  

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Fuller wrote:
    “On almost every scientific issue discussed over the past 50 years, there is enough room for nuance that both ignorant and intelligent could share a stance on the issue for very different issues. And the ignorant would seek shelter behind the intelligent and the opposition would use the ignorant to tar the intelligent.”
    The topic of this thread would seem to be the theory of evolution. Do you include evolution as one of the scientific issues your comment covers?
    Who are the intelligent people behind the opposition to the theory of evolution, the foundation of modern biology? Is there any real scientific research to back opposition to evolution?

  • Eric Adler

    JonP @39
    You seem to believe that because Perry flew fighter planes he is somehow intelligent. The ability to fly an airplane involves  of training, adherence to protocol and physical coordination. It has no bearing at all on understanding of scientific research.
    Even intelligent people can get caught up in motivated reasoning as a result of cultural or ideological bias. They will go off the deep end and discount overwhelming amounts of evidence,  because they disagree with the conclusion, and often pick on one or two articles , even if they have been utterly refuted, to support what they think is right. This is what the people who refuse to accept evolution are doing.
    The theory of evolution is the fundamental idea underlying biological science.  Only a handful of religious people who are also biological researchers doubt the theory of evolution. I know of one paper by Dembski that questions evolution based what he calls irreducible complexity. That idea has been totally demolished by microbiologists who point to well understood genetic phenomena that can account for the evolution of cell mechanisms that Dembski says could not have evolved and therefore had to be created by some intelligent being.
    Just like his predecessor G W Bush, Perry’s style of decision making is to go with his gut, rather than consult experts on what to think about complex matters like evolution, climate science and economics.  This is quite dangerous in a complex and modern world, where human existence is so dependent on correct science.
    You seem fixated on the fact that Perry flew airplanes when he was a yout;, but  he only flew fighter aircraft. This requires split second timing and daring moves which are often risky. That kind of training doesn’t qualify him to be president any more than it made G W Bush qualified. Bush took us into an unnecessary war in Iraq.
    I would be more willing to accept experience as a pilot as a recommendation if the person flew civilian planes like airliners, where he was responsible for the safety and welfare of the passengers on a day to day basis, and relied on experts for information about weather and routing.

  • kdk33

    “The theory of evolution is the fundamental idea underlying biological science”

    Oh Eric, bless you my dear boy.  You are a fountain.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Shollenberger @ 74
    I am in suspense to find out what brand of Creationism you think is consistent with science. Please provide a link or reference.

  • kdk33

    Eric, consider breifly if you would a couple of things.

    1) how bilogically similar are we humans to our close animal cousins?  Very, is, I think, an appropriate answer.  Don’t we have about the same organs doing about the same things composed of similarly propertied cells.  And, at a molecular leve aren’t the similarities even more striking (Krebb cycle, for example).  Really, all life on earth fits on a grey-scale and species near each other on that scale are really much of a sameness – from a biological point of view

    2)  Now consider the following:  language, the written word, tears, laughter, graveyards, cooperation on massive societal scales, the PC, the i-phone, plastics, trains planes and automobiles, a man on the moon, religion.  And now, how similar do you find humans to their nearest animal cousin? 

    You can’t explain that, no biologist can, no scientist can, nobody can.  And that’s the point.  That’s the mystery.  And I don’t need a reference.

    Frankly, the evolution versus religion; creationism versus science argument makes no sense to me at all.  It isn’t relevant to anything that matters.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @ 100,
    Please relay my words to your favorite anti science candidate Rick Perry. He needs to know this, but I doubt that he cares about science. I shudder to think of whom he will appoint as head of NIH, CDC, NOAA,   Surgeon general etc. Forget about the NWS and FEMA. All we need is prayer.
    I guess it will not make any difference to you because the government will shrink and budget will be cut. That is all you care about.
    @77
    And yes, Perry is a indeed an evil, ignorant, gun-totin’, bible thumpin’, knuckle draggin’, abuser of the constitution. He would be doing the rest of the US a favor if he got Texas to secede and he remained its governor.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Alder, supposing one ignores the fact you reframed the discussion from “creationism” to “Creationism,” an answer to your question can be found a mere six comments prior to your question.  I trust you are capable of using Google/Wikipedia to find information about what was referenced.

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    You make many fulty assumptions in your comments.  One assumes this quality applies more generally to your thinking.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 says,
    “2)  Now consider the following:  language, the written word, tears, laughter, graveyards, cooperation on massive societal scales, the PC, the i-phone, plastics, trains planes and automobiles, a man on the moon, religion.  And now, how similar do you find humans to their nearest animal cousin?
    You can’t explain that, no biologist can, no scientist can, nobody can.  And that’s the point.  That’s the mystery.  And I don’t need a reference.”
    Sorry but you are wrong about this. It is true that animals don’t have advanced technology, but animal scientists have reported tears laughter, graveyards, tool use, cooperation on  societal scales, standards of morality, and local culture , languages among various species including apes, elephants , dolphins , whales and even crows.
    The human species has had a number of different predecessors with slightly different characteristics, but extremely similar to humans who walked the earth millions of years ago. Neanderthal man was even contemporaneous with humans, and interbred with humans, but didn’t develop the culture to survive. The human species is less of a jump than you think.  The different brain structure  and opposed fingers and thumbs have made us master tool makers and storehouses of information which lead to the development of technology. There is no mystery about this that is not explicable by biological science.
    It is not at all mysterious that a slight difference in brain size and other genetic characteristics would lead to the advantage that homo sapiens had over other animals, including earlier hominids.
    “Frankly, the evolution versus religion; creationism versus science argument makes no sense to me at all.  It isn’t relevant to anything that matters.”
    If I thought it would make a difference to you, I would provide links to studies of these phenomena. Actually all you need to do is watch Nature on PBS.  You would see the continuity between animals and humans based on scientific work.
    You may be too busy to do this if you  spend your time watching things like the 700 club, Key of David, and programs of that ilk.
    The similarity of higher level animals to humans does matter to some people who advocate for the ethical treatment of animals. They believe that man is not that special.
    It is dangerous to get into the habit of substituting religious beliefs for science. The next step is the substitution of political beliefs for science. Many people have taken this next step, including your favorite candidate, the famous fighter pilot, Rick Perry, and even the climate deniers favorite scientist Roy Spencer.


     

  • Keith Kloor

    Speaking of Perry, Dana Milbank has a column in the WaPo that characterizes the Texas Governor/GOP Prez candidate as the eager culture warrior.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Shollenberger
    @ 104
    Thanks for the clue. I gather you mean “Theistic Evolution”. According to the Wikipedia article this could have a few meanings depending upon the frequency of intervention by God.
    Some credit a supreme being with producing the big bang, and the basic laws of science that humans are discovering, and letting the world evolve.
    Others claim that god intervenes specifically to create new species.
    There is a big difference between the two in my estimation.  The laws of nature that man has discovered seem sufficient to account for the evolution of different species without divine intervention. It doesn’t make sense that intervention in the process of evolution of species,  by God, is necessary to explain anything.  Such a belief seems irrelevant to the progress and study of science.  You won’t find such a theory in the scientific literature. I doubt that any of the top biologists in the National Academy of Science would think it relevant.
    In fact, a recent survey showed that 7% of the nation’s top scientists believe in God, way lower than the general population of the US.
    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html
     

  • Eric Adler

    Keith @107
    Good link. Perry is even more frightening than I thought.
    However, you will never convince JonP of anything bad about Perry.
    @39
    Perry is a veteran fighter pilot. That proves he is really intelligent, and not the bible thumping idiot that he appears to be.

     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    @108, Eric Alder, I’m glad to see we’re in agreement creationism need not conflict with science.

  • kdk33

    Keith, 

    Is this what Perry said that makes him an antiscience ignoramous on the evolution front.

    “the weight of evidence” supports intelligent design”

    From Wiki (the fount of all knowledge): Intelligent design (ID) is the proposition that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.

    In what way, shape, or form can this be considered even mildly controversial.  In no way does it conflict with science.

    Maybe you can provide another Perry quote where he actually says something controversial or anti-science regarding evolution.

  • kdk33

    Another Jewel from dear Eric,

     “a recent survey showed that 7% of the nation’s top scientists believe in God, way lower than the general population of the US”

    A scientific consensus that god does not exist.  This is, following the tenants of AGW, adequate basis for action.  Anyone actually believing in god is ignoring multiple lines of scientific evidence and an overwhelming scientific consensus, and is, therefore, a superstitous ignoramous unfit to participate in, much less lead, society.

    We must eliminate religion.  Shall we 1) pass new religion taxes, the proceeds of which we will use to fund evolutionary scientists. 2) Auction church permits, the number of which shall decrease over time, and in this way slowly eliminate orgnized superstition. 3) pass a law illegalizing belief in god or assembling to practice godly superstition.  Surely we have to do something to save society from these neanderthals – heavens knows they probably carry guns.

    Of course, there’s that first amendment thingy.  But that can be solved per the O’bama care argument.  Namely: the constitution is flexible and if it interferes with good policy (such as eliminating a superstition that conflicts with an overwhelming scientifi consensus), then flex it must; by however much is required to allow good policy.

    Obama goes to church.

    I love liberals.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @111,
    There is no  evidence that supports Intelligent Design, that withstands scientific scrutiny. The one proposal I mentioned by Dembski has been trashed.  Intelligent Design is a religious belief. That is not merely my opinion. It has been endorsed by a number of Federal Court decisions.
    @112,
    If you want to make suggestions about how to interpret the statistic I quoted, go ahead, but don’t sign my name to them.
    I consider this evidence that rigorous scientific study and religion don’t mix. They are different habits of mind. Keep religion out of the science curriculum.
    I have no objection to religion if it helps people, but there are some brands of religion that are harmful.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    Perry says “I don’t know how old the earth is.    Evolution is a theory that is out there…. It’s got some gaps in it.  …In Texas we teach both Creationism and Evolution.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/rick-perry-evolution-video_n_930802.html
    It seems that Perry wrong if the teaching of Creationism he is talking about is happening in public schools. There was a controversy over teaching of Intelligent Design in Texas public schools, but that doesn’t seem to be happening either.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education#Texas
    Perry is so full of BS it is unbelievable.

  • kdk33

    Oh, Eric, You just can’t stop.  I believe you have out done yourself with this one.

    “Intelligent Design is a religious belief. That is not merely my opinion. It has been endorsed by a number of Federal Court decisions”

    BTW, if there was another intepretation of your 7% statistic that I missed, please fill me in.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @115
    It is you who should give up.
     I have documentation for my statement:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District
    “On December 20, 2005, Judge Jones issued his 139-page findings of fact and decision ruling that the Dover mandate which required the statement to be read in class was unconstitutional. The ruling concluded that intelligent design is not science, and permanently barred the board from “maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.”[8] The eight Dover school board members who voted for the intelligent design requirement were all defeated in a November 8, 2005 election by challengers who opposed the teaching of intelligent design in a science class, and the school board president stated that the board did not intend to appeal the ruling.[9]
    I did present my interpretation of the statistic, which you missed.
    @113
    “I consider this evidence that rigorous scientific study and religion don’t mix. They are different habits of mind. Keep religion out of the science curriculum.”

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Shollenberger:
    “@108, Eric Alder, I’m glad to see we’re in agreement creationism need not conflict with science.”
    Lets be clear. If someone wants to believe that a supreme being is responsible for the initial creation of the universe, and the laws of nature are there for us to discover, that is OK.  It is also not a falsifiable hypothesis, but it doesn’t affect the process of scientific research and discovery, which has been extraodinary successful since the dawn of the age of reason.
    If someone claims that a supreme being is constantly at work creating new species, and evolution could not take place by naturally occurring changes in DNA that have been observed, this is contrary to what biological research indicates. This idea is clearly incorrect, has been disproven, and has no place as a scientific theory.
    http://www.philoonline.org/library/shanks_4_1.htm

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    Check this out. It is currently playing on my TV.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human-part-1.html

  • kdk33

    Eric, do you consider Perry’s quote controversial in someway?  Is evolution not a theory?  Does it not have gaps?  Do we not tech both in Texas? Perhaps you are secretly aware that Perry does indeed know the exact age of the earth?

    I’m dumbfounded.  With what are you quibbling?
    —————————————————————————————–
    “I don’t know how old the earth is.    Evolution is a theory that is out there”¦. It’s got some gaps in it.  “¦In Texas we teach both Creationism and Evolution.”
    —————————————————————————————-
    Later, perhaps, I will post more to help lead you from your confusion.  But I’ve family matters to attend at the moment.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    The program “becoming human” explains the evolution of modern humans which was basically the increase in size of the brain, and the development of culture as a result of the increase in the length of childhood which is the time the brain develops over a span of 20 years. This happened over a span of millions of years. It turns out that this was a period of rapid climate change in the rift valley in Africa and large brains were a tremendous asset for the adaptability needed to survive.
    This is the first of a series of programs which tells the story. I am now watching the second one.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human-part-2.html

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    There may be some gaps in the geological record, but no gap in the theory of evolution. Perry doesn’t appear to understand this.
    You haven’t provided a single link to any scientific research or scientific arguments outside of your opinion. To me this is an indication that you have no basis for your statements outside your opinion.
    Before you waste any more time on this, and get back to me,  watch the Nova series, and by all means have your kids watch it.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Here’s the exchange reported in the firs by Keith:

    [Child] Do you believe in evolution?

    [Perry] It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both Creationism and evolution.

    Perry has been unresponsive to the child’s question.  Here is another quote where Perry takes a stand:

    > There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn’t happen by accident and a creator put this in place. […] I believe that we were created by this all-powerful supreme being and how we got to today versus what we look like thousands of years ago, I think there’s enough holes in the theory of evolution to, you know, say there are some holes in that theory.

    So Perry not only says that evolution is only a theory, he says he believes in man’s creation by some all-powerful being.  His argument is the usual argument from complexity of man’s design.  This argument is enough for Perry to hold a belief that goes against evolution, which is only a theory, after all.

    Perry’s argument leaves open the creation of a porn:

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/08/19/rick_perry_porn

    Hardcore is not that complex, after all.



     

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    Have fun watching your movies. 

    Someday you will look back and see that you’ve simply made science your religion.  You are unable to see nuance and appreciate uncertainty or even acknowledge a mystery in human life.  As you mature, this will change –
    none so holy as the newly converted.

    Until then, I’m afraid your exuberance is overwhelming, and I’m old, and I’m sleepy, and I’ve grown bored. 

    But I must conclude by repeating a point I made earlier that you chose to ignore:  Obama goes to church.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    Sorry that you are old and bored. That is sad. I am over 70 myself, but I was enthralled by the fascinating Nova series on the evolution of man. The amount of research, and the interesting ways in which bones collected in locations throughout the globe, were collected and analyzed to put together the story is a stunning demonstration of what you find so remarkable about humans.  The curiosity, persistence, and imagination is a tribute to the human spirit.
    I am happy that Obama goes to church. Church is a valuable social institution, if it stays out of science, focuses on charitable works, and doesn’t cause sectarian divisions in American Society, or stigmatize people who are different like gays, muslims and atheists. 

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    @117, Eric Alder, I thought that was clear enough already, but in case it wasn’t, I agree with you.  There is some room for disagreement as to just where in the spectrum of creationism conflicts with science begin, but there is no confusion as to the standing of the ends of the spectrum.

    In any event, my point was just to highlight the fact creationism doesn’t always conflict with science.  Creationists as a group shouldn’t have to be called anti-science simply because some segments of their group hold anti-science positions.  Because of that, I figured it was worth pointing out creationism is broader than people were acting.

    I thought it would just be viewed for what it was, a minor point about definitions.  I didn’t expect it to be controversial, and I certainly didn’t expect to be mocked for saying it (by Keith Kloor, not you).

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon,
    People who believe that a supreme being was a prime mover behind the “creation” of the universe and then let it evolve according to natural law, do not deserve to be put in the same bucket as the rest of the creationists, who believe that God intervenes constantly.  The way in which you did this was confusing, because you weren’t specific.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I have a quick follow-up to my previous comments.  Years back, a classmate wrote an essay for our English class in which he explained why he thought aliens were responsible for life on Earth.  His claim was an alien experiment testing how life could begin is how the first life on Earth came to exist.  He was obviously joking, but it was an interesting essay.  The relevance to this thread is his belief, if he had actually held it, would be a form of creationism. 

    This is a good article on the evolution/creationism spectrum, though it only deals with Christian forms of creationism.  A different source builds on the former e to give a more complete image of what creationism covers.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Adler, I don’t see what was confusing about what I said (save the obvious typo):

    Please remember “creationism” is not synonymous with Young Earth Creationism, Christian fundamentalism, Intelligent Design or anything like that.  It is a broad category in which those all fall, but it includes much more than them. Those topics those topics get the most attention within creationism, but it is wrong to conflate a category with the individual members of the category.

    Sure, I didn’t give any specific examples, but so what?  I clearly explained the issue.  I don’t mind being asked for examples (such as you did), but I don’t see any room for confusion.

    By the way, I have a comment held up in moderation (due to links, I suspect) which discusses this in more detail, but since you mentioned specificity, theistic evolution isn’t the only form of creationism which doesn’t conflict with science.  The most obvious example being evolutionary creationism.

    And as a final note, I just realized I’ve been misspelling your name.  Sorry about that.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandonn,
    I get it. I googled got this article about the  creation evolution continuum, which described the varieties of theistic evolution. I will avoid moderation by not including the link in my post:

    “Theistic Evolution
    Theistic evolution is a theological view in which God creates through the laws of nature. Theistic evolutionists (TEs) accept all the results of modern science, in anthropology and biology as well as in astronomy, physics, and geology. In particular, it is acceptable to TEs that one species give rise to another; they accept descent with modification. However, TEs vary in whether and how much God is allowed to intervene “” some believe that God created the laws of nature and allows events to occur with no further intervention. Other TEs believe that God intervenes at critical intervals during the history of life (especially in the origin of humans). A 2003 book presents an entire continuum of TEs; clearly, there is much variation among Christians regarding this theological view (Peters and Hewlett 2003). In one form or another, TE is the view of creation taught at the majority of mainline Protestant seminaries, and it is the position of the Catholic Church. In 1996, Pope John Paul II (1996) reiterated the Catholic version of theistic evolution, in which God created, evolution happened, humans may indeed be descended from more primitive forms, but the hand of God was required for the production of the human soul. The current pope, Benedict XVI, has reiterated the evolution-friendly Catholic view, stressing the importance of rejecting philosophical naturalism (Lawton, 2007).”
    As long as they leave scientists alone to do their thing, I don’t object.
    The human soul is purely a religious belief. The human character or is a biological phenonenon, which includes a sense of morality and a high level of social behavior which gave rise to the phenonemon of religion.  It has an evolutionary explanation.




     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Alder, I disagree with one thing you say:

    The human soul is purely a religious belief. The human character or is a biological phenonenon, which includes a sense of morality and a high level of social behavior which gave rise to the phenonemon of religion.  It has an evolutionary explanation.

    This is one of those ideas people hear, and believe to be more than just an idea.  There is no scientific explanation for the human character, biological or otherwise.  Some people have come up with ideas of how science could theoretically explain that sort of thing, but all they are is ideas.  They aren’t even hypotheses, much less theories, and they certainly aren’t known to be true.

    Science doesn’t have an explanation for the human consciousness or anything which goes along with it.  At best, it has a guess.  People who advance that guess as the “truth” are relying upon faith as surely as religious people are, but religious people at least admit to their faith.

  • kdk33

    @ Brandon,

    Would that qualify as a “mystery of human life”

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    kdk33, your use of quotation marks seems to suggest that phrase has a specific meaning, but I don’t know what it might be (it hasn’t been used on this page before).  However, humans are certainly very mysterious.  Science can’t even explain what human consciousness is, much less find an explanation for why it exists.  Things like morality and religion can be seen to stem from (or at least depend upon) human consciousness, so there is no explanation for them either.  At best, scientists find similarities (real or imagined) between humans and animals, and that is claimed as proof science can explain human nature.

    Of course, those similarities are rarely true, and they generally require assuming extreme simplicity in animals.  It usually only takes a little examination to see alternative explanations, often ones which fit much better.  The problem is while scientists advancing these ideas may offer the appropriate caveats when doing their work (not that they always do), the image created in the minds of those who hear about it rarely is based on anything real.

    Outside a small group of people who actually know the subjects, it’s just anthropomorphism combined with wishful thinking being passed off as truth.  Amusingly, it is often raised in response to people being criticized for having faith in some religion.  It’s akin to strong atheists criticizing religious folks on the same grounds.  Faith gets criticized by people who rely on faith just as much, but don’t want to admit it (even to themselves).

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    kdk33, I just read the full exchange between you and Eric Adler (I really don’t know why I keep misspelling his name), and I see what you meant by your question.  Now that I do, I’d answer your question with a simple “yes.”

    One thing I’d recommend is to avoid trying to use specific examples of humanity to contrast humans and animals.  Rarely are any examples actual demonstration of similarity or difference, but they do often cause confusion and distraction.  For one example, you and Eric Adler referred to tears.  The first thing to note is tears sometimes happen in mammals due to irritants, so what you’re talking about is actually emotional tears (also known as pyschogenic tears).

    With that clarified, the issue is simple.  Some people claim to have witnessed animals shed emotional tears, but at best, it is anecdotal evidence.  There is no actual evidence to support such claims, and there is a plenty of contrary examples.  Despite the claims being scientifically baseless, you’ll still see plenty of people argue in defense of the idea.  That’s a risk of focusing on examples.

    As a final note on that topic, the best discussion I’ve seen of the issue is in chapter 14 of a 25 year old book, Crying: The Mystery of Tears, written by William H. Frey.  It concludes the same thing I’ve stated here, and unsurprisingly, nothing about the situation has changed since it was written.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Schollenberger wrote:
    ” Eric Adler, I disagree with one thing you say:

    The human soul is purely a religious belief. The human character or is a biological phenonenon, which includes a sense of morality and a high level of social behavior which gave rise to the phenonemon of religion.  It has an evolutionary explanation.

    This is one of those ideas people hear, and believe to be more than just an idea.  There is no scientific explanation for the human character, biological or otherwise.  Some people have come up with ideas of how science could theoretically explain that sort of thing, but all they are is ideas.  They aren’t even hypotheses, much less theories, and they certainly aren’t known to be true.

    Science doesn’t have an explanation for the human consciousness or anything which goes along with it.  At best, it has a guess.  People who advance that guess as the “truth” are relying upon faith as surely as religious people are, but religious people at least admit to their faith.”
    Based on my experience you are wrong. There are much observational and experimental evidence that animals have consciousness, emotions, remember the past etc.  I believe your statement is based on a quasi religious belief in man’s uniqueness. In fact modern humans are one species out of 20 bipedal hominid species which have been identified by bones and other evidence. The others died out. A dwarf version of homo habilus survived on a pacific island until about 70,000 years ago. Neanderthal mand died out 35,000 years ago.  The best evidence is that the older species were unable to survive climate change. Analysis of DNA comparing apes and humans shows that they diverged from a common ancestor about 6million years ago.
    It is clear that the uniqueness of humans is simply your belief. The science says that there is a continuum of characteristics in life on earth, and humans are an extreme example of a species that was extremely adaptable to changes in environment. A large brain size, a long childhood, which enabled a large store of knowledge to be transmitted to human children while their brains are developing, is a characteristic of all advanced hominids, and this found its highest development in us, the homo sapiens.
    Elephants are known to revere their dead, and elephants raised in captivity and released are known to revisit their human parents to introduce their children to them. So scientific observation shows emotional attachment and a sense of community is not unique to humans.
    Once again, I recommend you watch the Nova series on the development of man I linked to above.




     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Schollenberger,
    You wrote:
    “kdk33, your use of quotation marks seems to suggest that phrase has a specific meaning, but I don’t know what it might be (it hasn’t been used on this page before).  However, humans are certainly very mysterious.  Science can’t even explain what human consciousness is, much less find an explanation for why it exists.  Things like morality and religion can be seen to stem from (or at least depend upon) human consciousness, so there is no explanation for them either.  At best, scientists find similarities (real or imagined) between humans and animals, and that is claimed as proof science can explain human nature.

    Of course, those similarities are rarely true, and they generally require assuming extreme simplicity in animals.  It usually only takes a little examination to see alternative explanations, often ones which fit much better.  The problem is while scientists advancing these ideas may offer the appropriate caveats when doing their work (not that they always do), the image created in the minds of those who hear about it rarely is based on anything real.

    Outside a small group of people who actually know the subjects, it’s just anthropomorphism combined with wishful thinking being passed off as truth.  Amusingly, it is often raised in response to people being criticized for having faith in some religion.  It’s akin to strong atheists criticizing religious folks on the same grounds.  Faith gets criticized by people who rely on faith just as much, but don’t want to admit it (even to themselves).”
    Sorry but the results of scientific research do not qualify as faith. So which species of hominid do you consider had consciousness?  How do you define consciousness? Is it the ability to weigh alternative actions and make a decision about which to do? It is pretty clear that animals make decisions. They can select areas for dens, and select materials for tools. They have different dialects in different local communities. They hand down knowledge from parents to children. It just turns out that humans do a lot more of this than other animals, and homo sapiens does a lot more of this than earlier hominid species, because we developed bigger and better brains. That is what the scientific evidence that we have says.
     You postulate that human consciousness is something special, and cannot be explained by normal scientific methods and observations. Your postulate is not needed to explain the observations of animal behavior, evidence of behavior of early hominids and human behavior. Think Occam’s razor.
    Your charge that it is the result of “Anthropomorphism” has absolutely no basis either, and hasn’t been supported. We are not relying on Wild Animals I Have Known. There is an enormous body of peer reviewed scientific research on this question.

     

  • kdk33

    Brandon,

    Interesting advice about examples .vs. generalities.  Although in this case I think they are equally fruitless.

    Eric,

    Your comments simply illustrate that you have made science your religiong.  You seem unable to distinguish fact, from theory, from speculation, from wild-ass guessing.  All you know is dogma.  And you seem a man of great faith.

  • Eric Adler

    “What makes this particular moment in the fraught history of elephant-human relations so remarkable is that the long-accrued anecdotal evidence of the elephant’s extraordinary intelligence is being borne out by science. Studies show that structures in the elephant brain are strikingly similar to those in humans. MRI scans of an elephant’s brain suggest a large hippocampus, the component in the mammalian brain linked to memory and an important part of its limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions. The elephant brain has also been shown to possess an abundance of the specialized neurons known as spindle cells, which are thought to be associated with self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness in humans. Elephants have even passed the mirror test of self-recognition, something only humans, and some great apes and dolphins, had been known to do.”

  • Eric Adler

    Here is the link for the my last post – and article on orphan elephants from National Geographic Magazine. This is all based on observation.
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/orphan-elephants/siebert-text
    The dogma is coming from you. Science is different from religion. It is based on observations and demands consistency between a body of theory and observations.  Your attempts to waive away the observations which show continuity between animal and human behavior is the result of being in denial.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 wrote:

    “Eric,
    Your comments simply illustrate that you have made science your religion.  You seem unable to distinguish fact, from theory, from speculation, from wild-ass guessing.  All you know is dogma.  And you seem a man of great faith.”
    Your declaration of victory is hollow nonsense. You refuse to confront facts which I have presented. You haven’t refuted any of the fact based arguments I made against your points with any real facts or references. 
    It is pathetic.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon and KDK33,
    Read the above linked National Geographic article on elephants, which shows how similar elephants are to humans in their emotion, propagation of culture, the level of communication etc.. If there is something in this article that you can show is false, please provide some evidence from a valid source. You are clearly not experts in elephant behavior or science, and have not witnessed elephant behavior yourselves, so your opinions alone don’t have much weight.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Schollenberger
    @133
    Tears are a physical manifestation of emotions in human beings. If humans didn’t shed tears, and only expressed their emotions by vocal communication or facial expressions, would that imply that humans have lost what you consider their special trait of consciousness?  I don’t think so.
    The dispute about animal tears seems to me beside the point. It doesn’t falsify the other observations of similarity between animal and human consciousness.
    Even crows, can remember human faces recognize individuals and communicate this to other crows and engage in revenge.
    http://www.interestingtopics.net/crows-can-remember-faces-id-574
    “Crows are birds that are able to remember the faces of people who pose a threat to their own kind. Also they can invite other crows to join them to take revenge on the attackers.

    Crows can bring their bad experience with some people to the wider population of crows, says co-author of study John Marclaf at the University of Washington. Intrigued by the behavior of the crows living on their campus in Seattle, Marclaf and two colleagues wanted to determine whether the bird will remember the person they have experienced a traumatic experience.

    For their experiment the scientists with the same masks had putted the rings on the captured birds, and then let them free. Then they watched the reactions of crows. The moment they saw the mask, the crows began to caw angrily, waving their wings and come together in a threatening crowd.

    If, traveling to other parts of the city, the researchers placed the same mask on their faces, crows that they have never previously captured would have recognized the dangerous faces. Crow behavior demonstrates that birds learn not only from direct experience, but also through communication with other members of the species.

    During a five years of research, scientists have extended the experiment at several locations, using the other masks. Regardless of the change of masks, there are more crows reacted to the arrival of dangerous persons.

    Alert is not just spreading only to the neighborhood crows, but also a young crows, observing the reactions of their parents, began to imitate them.”

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33, Brandon Sch.
    More grist for your denial mill. All based on observations.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html
    “Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
    Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are…”

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Roddy Campbell #7:
    “Gould never oversteps the line of respect and humanity, and is a far more beautiful writer.”

    Nonsense.  I myself saw him dismiss with barely concealed contempt, a creationist questioner at a talk he gave at the Smithsonian about the ‘vernacular’ view of evolution as progress.  (And I was glad to see him do it.)
    A great nature writer, but if you imagine he had no ideological and/or theoretical axes to grind as a writer,  you should read more of what his colleagues say.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Figures Shub would think evolution is a dead duck

    Forgive the argument from authority but , I’ve got a biology PhD and do protozoon genomic analysis for a living, and I dub this:
    “If one understands evolutionary genetics, ““ or more simply put ““ if one understands genomics ““ the so-called “˜principles of evolution’ decompose into a myriad of more abiological (for lack of a term) genomic phenomena, *whose rules of interaction are different*. These interactions and properties therefore are more fundamental, and “˜evolution’, as it is commonly understood, becomes a surface meta-phenomenon. ”

    to be arrant bafflegab *bullshit*.

     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    TimG Says:
    August 25th, 2011 at 11:11 pm
    Which is worse:
    1) A president that thinks the world was created 6000 years ago?
    2) A president that thinks that government created “green jobs” are good for the economy.[/quote]


    the last #1 we  had got us into a needless war and spiked the deficit massively. He also hired advisers who would tell the press things batshit crazy things like ‘we make reality’.
    So I vote that the worse thing would be:
    3) half an electorate believing that gov-created green jobs must be a bad thing.
    because christ knows the Chinese have no problem pouring billions into subsidizing ‘green’ jobs.  If you want them to corner the low-carbon energy market in a warming world, go right on believing that government-supported ‘green jobs’ are bad.
     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    KK #38
    “The actual process of evolution is uncontested and not in scientific dispute.”

    Specifically, the reality of the natural process called evolution, i.e., speciation via descent with modification, is not in dispute.  There is no serious dispute in science that species today descended from earlier  species (thought the concept of ‘species’ is actually variously defined, depending on what branch of the tree of life we are talking about — it goes rather haywire in the world of bacteria, for example)







     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    TimG: #48
    “Yet I am not dismayed to see folks like Perry gain prominence.
    Because people like him will keep “˜climate change solutions’ off the political agenda.”

    Setting aside how dangerously wrongheaded that is from a climate policy standpoint —
    Do you seriously think that’s *ALL* he would do?  Do none of his other beliefs or likely actions concern you?
    Members of his own party are referring to him in the press (anon of course) as a dumber/coarser George Bush.  Jeez.



     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Shub
    “You may have a view of the progression of life forms that places evolution as a largely settled body of knowledge.”

    More arrant bafflegab. 
    As in climatology, there are fundamental concepts that are quite ‘settled’ in evolutionary biology, and there’s a galaxy of interesting and important questions that remain under study.  Evolutionary biologists won’t be retiring their tools and closing up shop any time soon.   The established fact of evolution opens up whole vistas of further inquiry, while providing a valid, unifying conceptual framework for them.

    You cartoon view of science would be funny if it wasn’t so prevalent and detrimental to our body politic.




     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Oh, lovely,  Shollenberger’s hyping the ‘uncertainty’ in evolutionary biology, and touts broad brush ‘creationism’  (let me guess: Sky Daddy created the universe — including evolution — and then stepped aside?  aka Deism? Or is it that Sky Daddy also stepped in and either specially created, or imbued with a soul, His most favored anthropoid species (Catholic evolution theory)?)

    This correlation between climate ‘skeptics’ and this sort of spin on evolution, the other hot-button science issue in right-wing america, can’t be a concidence, can it?

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Ed Forebes #89
    She made the point that there are 3 general religious labels, Religious / Agnostic / Atheist, and I did not fit any of these. You have to care about the subject for any of these to apply, and I do not.

    Goodness, you special snowflake you.  Do you realize that the reason a lot of the latter two ‘care’ at all about the subject is because they *have* to — thanks to the political aggression of the first?  Like the ones in Gov. Perry’s state who keep trying to force a Christian religious interpretation (and a rather narrow brand of Christian at that) on science and history?
    I’d love to be able to ‘care’ about religion as much as I do about astrology….i.e., as a mostly harmless superstition.





     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Ed Forbes again
    ‘Major parts of Darwin’s original theory may be in danger of being falsified with punctuated equilibrium or other theories on evolution. The general theory of evolution does not live or die on Darwin.  The general idea holds, but expounding with Darwin’s theory as a “fact” is not being very scientific.”

    Silly man.  Darwin developed his theory before we even had a ‘gene’ concept, much less what DNA was, much less what a mutation fundamentally is.  No biologist holds to Darwins ‘original theory’ in its every regard, and none hold it against Darwin that he didn’t anticipate where the science would be in 2011 any more than we diss Newton for not laying out quantum physics.  ‘Watch out, Darwin’s in big trouble!” is a ridiculous strawman that ignorant ‘skeptics’ build up again and again and again.  Validation of the reality of evolution long ago abandoned reliance on Darwin!
    Evolution is a fact and there is a theory of evolution.  Darwin got the big idea right:  species typically descend from other species, with natural variation and selection playing key roles. Deal with it.
    And anyone who thinks punctuated EQ (which btw was and is widely considered an shrug-inducing concept , rather than a groundbreaking one, among evolutionary biologists)  cripples the theory of evolution, just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As SJ Gould himself would have noted.



     

  • Eric Adler

    Ivp0 Says:
    “August 27th, 2011 at 12:42 am So”¦. are these writers suggesting that belief in The Bible or to question the theory of evolution somehow disqualifies a candidate from becoming a US president?  This may come as a shock to most of our past presidents and many of our greatest scientists who also believed in The Bible as a practiced form of freedom of expression and freedom of religion.  It seems that “the evolution question” is becoming some sort of thinly veiled religious test that is quite contrary to our constitution:”
    Ivp0,
    What you are saying is nonsense. The question of the validity of evolution is not a religious question. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory. It is fair to conclude that someone who doesn’t accept evolution is not going to support valid scientific research in biology, medicine, and is lacking in understanding of science, and the need for scientific training and education to make our country strong.
    Besides that, candidates who don’t accept evolution also don’t accept the science of climatology which holds that humans are creating global warming and climate change. This is uniformly the case among Republican candidates. As a result, they will not act to prepare the country for what is to come.
    Such candidates deserve any criticism they are getting for their opposition to the consensus of scientists in biological and climate science.

  • kdk33

    Eric, the never ending fountain of ridiculousness.

    “Such candidates deserve any criticism they are getting for their opposition to the consensus of scientists in biological and climate science”

  • ivp0

    @152  RE: Eric Adler “The question of the validity of evolution is not a religious question. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory. It is fair to conclude that someone who doesn’t accept evolution is not going to support valid scientific research in biology, medicine, and is lacking in understanding of science, and the need for scientific training and education to make our country strong.”
    Hardly.  How did our past great presidents feel about the theory of evolution and abortion?  One is a scientific process and the other is a medical procedure but both directly challenge the fundamental religious beliefs of many of our greatest leaders.  How did JFK view the theory of evolution?  Harry Truman, FDR, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Bill Clinton?  Google is your friend and the answers may surprise you.
    Did the conflict between compelling scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution, and the fundamental religious beliefs of these men interfere with their abilities as great leaders who witnessed and supported extraordinary scientific advances during their presidency?  Hardly.  Historians might suggest that this conflict between scientific understanding and their chosen faith strengthened them as leaders.
    So no Eric, I must disagree with you.  To question a candidate on his views of evolution or abortion is a thinly veiled religious test and it’s use is a misguided tactic in choosing a qualified candidate to lead our country. 

  • Eric Adler

    KdK33,
    @ 153
    I have posted observations that behavioral characteristics and capabilities that you claimed are uniquely human are observed in animals. You haven’t addressed any of what I posted, to show it was wrong.
    You constantly make statements of opinion that have no factual basis, and you have the nerve to call me a fountain of ridiculousness.
    Your characteristic post is to quote something that I said, and call it ridiculous, without providing any basis for your opinion.  Vacuity is your trademark.
     

  • kdk33

    Speaking of special snowflakes:

    “I’ve got a biology PhD and do protozoon genomic analysis for a living”

  • kdk33

    From whence arises the notion that one ought not question the scientific consensus? 

    Simply bizzarre

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    Your notion that human character, consciosness, emotion, religion, etc are exhibited in animals is your opinion.  Your are free to hold it.  It is a silly one IMHO.  But there is no scientific literature or study to settle the matter

    IMHO, that human are so biologically similar to their closest animal cousins, yet so functionally different is one of several of the great mysterys of life. 

    That you don’t see this is, to me, more bizzarre than your assertion that one ought not question the scientific consensus, or that one can appeal to a federal court decisoin to disprove intelleigent design (which seems to have a variety of definitions, anyway).

    Lastly, I’ll tell you that I have no problem with the theory of evolution or that species evolve.  In no way does it conflict with religion as I know it.  I take issue with folk who claim our understanding of the temporal spatial history of species on earth and the mechanism by which this came about rises to the level of scientific fact.  I consdier that an article of faith and anti-science.

  • Eric Adler

    Ivpo
    @154
    Your post is full of questions about what past presidents thought of evolution, and devoid of answers. Why don’t you use google to find them?
    Climate science and biological science were not political issues until the Reagan administration.  Carter appointed two commissions of scientists to examine these issues toward the end of his term, because of scientific publications which projected that CO2 emissions would create global warming. They both concluded that doubling of CO2 would warm the globe 3C on average. Reagan who opposed environmental regulation on ideological grounds ignored these findings, and conservative think tanks, like the Marshall Institute and Heartland Institute employed conservative minded scientists to manufacture junk science to oppose the idea that CO2 emissions are warming the planet. Two different surveys of climate scientists done recently show that 97% accept the theory that humans are a significant factor in climate change.
    Teaching of evolution in schools was a dormant issue until recently when the fundamentalists and religious conservatives tried to introduce religious doctrines  into the biological science curriculum. Achievement of students in science in the US is very low in comparison to the rest of the developed world. We are below average in every measurement, and 17/34 in science.
    http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-oecds-release-program-international-student-assessment-
    Instead of focusing on this problem, the Texas school board, with the support of Governor Perry, has focused its attention on adding religious doctrines like creationism and intelligent design to the biology curriculum. The Federal Courts have ruled that these ideas do not belong in a science curriculum and are religious doctrines.
    I personally don’t know what past presidents believed about evolution because it wasn’t an important issue at the time. But it is an important issue at this point.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @ 158,
    Sorry but my opinon is based on many observations of animal behavior by scientists. I listed them and challenged you to rebut their observations with some proof that they are mistaken.
    Your opinion is based on nothing tangible. It is just your opinon, and you haven’t cited any facts in support of it. That is a pattern evident in your posts. It makes them worthless. Your claim that I haven’t cited any science to support my opinion is clearly false. See  138 140, 141 and 142.  It isn’t clear to me whether you have overlooked these posts or are simply lying.
    The facts discovered by scientists over time have dispelled the mystery which you claim exists. There have been 20 different species of hominids found which are all bipedal. Evolution from a common ape ancestor took 6 million years. Homo Sapiens is the only current survivor. The physical characteristics of humans explain our adaptibility to  environmental change  and our current dominance.  The shape of our heads, allowing a larger brain to store more information and do more complex reasoning, opposable thumbs allowing the creation of complex tools, and the ability to run long distances in pursuit of game, because we can avoid getting overheated by sweating. These  were all factors which enabled us to survive while other hominid species died out.  It is known that some of our ancestors, Neanderthal and homo habilus had these capabilities to a lesser degree than humans. They also had different shaped and smaller brains.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human-part-2.html

  • ivp0

    @159 Eric:  “I personally don’t know what past presidents believed about evolution because it wasn’t an important issue at the time. But it is an important issue at this point.”
    Really Eric?  This must come as a shock to Clarence Darrow who was arguing the Scopes trial in 1925.  It was the lightning rod political issue until we were fully involved it the great depression.  Evolution has been a lightning rod issue since Darwin first wrote his wife about his discoveries in 1850??.
    History is clear about past great presidents who pondered evolution and it’s place within their chosen faith.  They were often conflicted, but this did not interfere with their ability to pursue extraordinary scientific advancement as a leader of our country.
    I realize this subject is uncomfortable for you.  To accept that many of our past presidents might not have accepted evolution and yet proved to be extraordinary leaders who nurtured major scientific advances is blasphemy to the “science is God” crowd.  No need to change the subject to CO2 until our positions are clarified though.

    On matters of science and religion I gotta go with Albert Einstein:  “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”  Simply two sides of the same coin.  One is of little use without the other.

  • Eric Adler

    IVPO
    @154,
    Since I am a curious person I looked up what Jimmy Carter said about evolution. Here it is.
    http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/dna/CarterStatement.pdf
    Read the full statement from former U.S. President and Georgia native Jimmy Carter
    regarding a proposal in January 2004 to remove the word evolution from textbooks in
    Georgia’s public schools, as submitted from The Carter Center:

    “As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I
    am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox’s attempt to censor and distort the
    education of Georgia’s students. Her recommendation that the word “evolution” be
    prohibited in textbooks will adversely effect the teaching of science and leave our high
    school graduates with a serious handicap as they enter college or private life where
    freedom of speech will be permitted.”
    “Nationwide ridicule of Georgia’s public school system will be inevitable if this proposal
    is adopted, and additional and undeserved discredit will be brought on our excellent
    universities as our state’s reputation is damaged.”
    “All high school science teachers, being college graduates, have studied evolution as a
    universal element of university curricula, and would be under pressure to suppress their
    own educated beliefs in the classroom.”
    “The existing and long-standing use of the word “evolution” in our state’s textbooks has
    not adversely affected Georgians’ belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the
    universe. There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts
    concerning geology, biology, and astronomy.
    There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat earth in order
    to defend our religious faith.”
    “Fortunately, it is the responsibility of the State Board of Education to make the final
    decision on the superintendent’s ill-advised proposal.”

  • ivp0

    I agree with Carter on this.

  • ivp0

    …In fact former President Carter is making my point clearly:  Belief in Christianity and the writings in Genesis in no way interfered with his ability to lead or in the pursuit of science.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33
    @158
    “That you don’t see this is, to me, more bizzarre than your assertion that one ought not question the scientific consensus, or that one can appeal to a federal court decisoin to disprove intelleigent design (which seems to have a variety of definitions, anyway).”
    You misstate the point that I made, which is one of your typical modes of argumentation. I said the Federal Court ruled that Intelligent Design is a religious doctrine, not a scientific theory. It looked at the history and genesis of the idea and found that it was not originated in the biological science literature, and was not supported by biological science literature. The version of Intelligent Design that was in “Of Pandas and People”.
    “Lastly, I’ll tell you that I have no problem with the theory of evolution or that species evolve.  In no way does it conflict with religion as I know it.  I take issue with folk who claim our understanding of the temporal spatial history of species on earth and the mechanism by which this came about rises to the level of scientific fact.  I consdier that an article of faith and anti-science.”
    I guess the word “fact” is arguable, because a theory strictly speaking is based on facts, but it is strictly speaking not a fact. What can be said about evolution by random variation and natural selection is that the theory is confirmed by a variety of observed biological phenomena, including the fossil record, differentiation of similar species in isolated and different environments, and molecular biology and DNA science. There is no alternative mechanism that has been proposed that is confirmed by any scientific observations. This is as close to a fact as a theory can come. Based on the scientific data that we have, there is no reason to suppose that the species homo sapiens represents and exception to this theory. The human behaviors which you claim are an exception are explained by the physical structure of humans, including the brain. Similar behaviors have been observed in many animals, and the differences with human behavior are a matter of degree.
     

  • kdk33

    “Sorry but my opinon is based on many observations of animal behavior by scientists”

    No, that’s not true.  Emotions cannot be observed.  Your opinion is based on some person observing an animal behavior and speculating – interpreting through an all too human filter – that behavior as indicative of emotion.  (Trust me, they did not interview the animal.)

    So, your opnion is based on some other persons opinion that falls somewhere between speculation and wishful thinking.  Since you read it in a scientific journal, it seems to now be lodged in your head as fact.

    None of the things you cite as being responsible for human uniqueness rise to the level of fact.  It’s speculation, perhaps informed speculation, but nothing close to fact.  Now, it’s as good a model as we currently have, and I don’t propose discarding it; I do propose setting aside dogma and recognizing it for what it is.

    And this:  “These  were all factors which enabled us to survive while other hominid species died out” is wild ass guessing.  There is nothing to preclude the other (20-something, is it) hominid species finiding niches in which they could thrive – perhaps not as successful as us, but our success does not require their demise.  Some people might consider that a gap.

  • Eric Adler

    @156,
    Your criticism of the evidence I gave, based on a number of articles I described and linked to, is nothing but BS. You haven’t taken a single case and shown how the interpretation that the behaviors imply human characteristics is wrong. It is typical of the vacuousness of your argumentative style.
    Your argument about nothing precluding the hominid species from surviving shows ignorance of the evidence. Homo Sapiens emerged 200,000 years ago in Africa, after a period of extremely rapid climate change in the continent. The only species that survived was Homo Sapiens, and represented by only a few hundred species who adapted by learning to collect shellfish at low tide. Their large brains made them more adaptable than other species, who didn’t have the intelligence to find new ways to gather food other than what they were used to eating, when climate change removed their accustomed food source.

     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    A great deal has been said since my last comment, and I won’t even try to address all of it.  Instead, I’m just going to focus on a few things.  First, I’m going to focus on things people said about me which are untrue (this won’t be an exhaustive list).  From Eric Adler:

    It is clear that the uniqueness of humans is simply your belief…
    You postulate that human consciousness is something special, and cannot be explained by normal scientific methods and observations…

    Neither of these is true.  For the former, I don’t “believe” humans are unique.  I simply don’t “believe” there is evidence to show humans are not unique.  A lack of belief is not belief in the alternative.  For the latter, I postulate nothing of the sort.  In fact, I don’t even postulate human consciousness exists.  I am open to the possibility I am not truly self-aware, and the identity I hold could just be a reflection of internal processing.  However, assuming human consciousness does exist, it is no postulation to say science cannot explain it.  It’s a simple observation of the fact science has absolutely no idea how to explain it.  Given science’s inability to explain it, it is sensible to say science cannot explain it.
    From Steven Sullivan:

    Oh, lovely,  Shollenberger’s hyping the “˜uncertainty’ in evolutionary biology, and touts broad brush “˜creationism’  (let me guess: Sky Daddy created the universe “” including evolution “” and then stepped aside?  aka Deism? Or is it that Sky Daddy also stepped in and either specially created, or imbued with a soul, His most favored anthropoid species (Catholic evolution theory)?)

    This correlation between climate “˜skeptics’ and this sort of spin on evolution, the other hot-button science issue in right-wing america, can’t be a concidence, can it?

    I have no idea what this comment is trying to do, but it’s absurd.  For example, I have never hyped the uncertainty in evolution, save in that I try to get the uncertainty science acknowledges to be recognized.  Calling for an accurate representation of science is hardly what Sullivan would have you believe I do.  For another example, I haven’t touted creationism at all.  All I’ve done is call for an accurate depiction of what it is.  Again, this is not what Sullivan would have you believe I do.
    Sullivan then tries to claim there is correlation between me being a “skeptic,” a title I’m not sure I deserve, and putting a “spin” on evolution.  Of course, the only “spin” I’ve put on evolution is the one which says science should be accurately depicted, not overly-simplified.  It would hardly be a coincidence there would be a correlation between that and skepticism as that’s exactly what skepticism would call for.
    Eric Adler made some faulty extrapolations from my comments, but Steven Sullivan’s remarks are just weird.  And completely wrong.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Now then, on the issue whether or not animals have a consciousness like humans (are commonly believed to have), we have a peculiar situation.  kdk33 aptly describes Eric Adler’s “evidence” by saying:
    None of the things you cite as being responsible for human uniqueness rise to the level of fact.  It’s speculation, perhaps informed speculation, but nothing close to fact.
    Eric Adler offers a peculiar response:
    Your criticism of the evidence I gave, based on a number of articles I described and linked to, is nothing but BS. You haven’t taken a single case and shown how the interpretation that the behaviors imply human characteristics is wrong. It is typical of the vacuousness of your argumentative style.
    This is peculiar because when I did what Adler says kdk33 didn’t do, he said:
    The dispute about animal tears seems to me beside the point. It doesn’t falsify the other observations of similarity between animal and human consciousness.
    Adler criticizes kdk33 for not disproving the “evidence” he offers, but when I seek to do exactly that, he says the issue I address doesn’t matter.  I suppose I could say this is “is typical of the vacuousness of his argumentative style.”

    Of course, Eric Adler didn’t actually address the point kdk33 made.  While there is anecdotal evidence to support Adler’s position, there is nothing conclusive.  Rather than address this point, Eric Adler makes comments like:
    There are much observational and experimental evidence that animals have consciousness, emotions, remember the past etc.  I believe your statement is based on a quasi religious belief in man’s uniqueness…
    Sorry but the results of scientific research do not qualify as faith…
    There is an enormous body of peer reviewed scientific research on this question…
    Ultimately, all we have here is Adler’s word on what scientific research has to show on this issue.  He hasn’t provided anything to support his claims there is an “enormous body” of evidence.  This is unsurprising as there is no such thing.  In actuality, the idea Adler proffers is not a scientific theory supported by a large body of evidence.  It’s just an idea some people are trying to prove, and science as a whole hasn’t been remotely convinced of it.

    Finally, Adler keeps asking people to watch a piece by Nova, so I should address this.  Please, if you aren’t already acquainted with this issue, be careful while watching it.  I have all three parts on DVD (he linked to the first part), and it is incredible how wrong it gets some things.  The first part is okay, but by the time you get to the third part, it’s terrible.  Not only are there a fairly large number of mistakes, some of the mistakes are completely unacceptable.  My two favorite examples are what it says about the African Rift Valley, and the jelly bean experiment.
    It’s not a terrible thing to watch, but if you aren’t careful with it, you’ll wind up being mislead.  If you want the best results, stop after part one, and ignore all the silly references to some march of progress.

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    You have ceased to be coherent:  “The only species that survived was Homo Sapiens, and represented by only a few hundred species who adapted by learning to collect shellfish at low tide.”  Whatever does this mean? 

    Now, you’ve offered some speculation on what happenned to the ohter 20-something homonids.  Again, these are not “facts”.  And you are completely silent on my point:  our success does not require their demise.

    I asume you are aware that one or two other species survived the “rapid climate change”

    Tangentially, by opposing climate change, are we not then also delaying evolutionary progress?

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Schollenberger wrote:
    “Neither of these is true.  For the former, I don’t “believe” humans are unique.  I simply don’t “believe” there is evidence to show humans are not unique.  A lack of belief is not belief in the alternative.  For the latter, I postulate nothing of the sort.  In fact, I don’t even postulate human consciousness exists.  I am open to the possibility I am not truly self-aware, and the identity I hold could just be a reflection of internal processing.  However, assuming human consciousness does exist, it is no postulation to say science cannot explain it.  It’s a simple observation of the fact science has absolutely no idea how to explain it.  Given science’s inability to explain it, it is sensible to say science cannot explain it.”
    You are simply raising dust for the sake of it. Your position is not to take a position and know nothing. It is true denialism. 
    You brought up the subject of tears, for the purpose of debunking the proposition that animals display emotion. I pointed out that tears are not an essential feature. You haven’t discussed the substance of a single example which definitively shows animals display human like emotional behavior. The science is compelling and there are many examples. I have quoted examples that show empathy, social solidarity and morality. You haven’t addressed any of these.
    History shows that phenomena which used to be explained by the supernatural intervention of a God or gods, are now understood based on modern science. Science has been extraordinarily successful. I don’t see any reason to believe that this success has ended as science takes on the task of understanding the brains and behavior of humans and other animals.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @169,
    I accept that a 3 hour presentation such as the Nova series will gloss over some of the controversies surrounding research on human origins. If what you claim as errors are corrected, is there going to be a substantial change in the account that it presents of human evolution, when the dust you are raising has settled? What about the African rift valley? The jelly bean example may be a poor analogy, but so what?
     

  • Keith Kloor

    Well, I’m still on vacation, but in between locations long enough to catch up on the threads that have remained active. 

    Eric, you have the patience of a saint. :)

    Brandon, kdk33, any observer still following your exchanges with Eric can see that you both are jousting with air guns. He’s given many, many examples that you have either ignored or waved away with empty statements (“That’s peculiar,” “that’s weird,” the Nova show is “incredibly wrong” and so on).

    But Eric says it better here in one of his responses to Brandon:

    “You are simply raising dust for the sake of it. Your position is not to take a position and know nothing.” 

  • kdk33

    Keith,

    Yes, I know you are in religion/republican bashing mode. 

    Examples of what.  Animals displaying human-ish emotions, character, that kind of thing.  Please. These examples are correctly ignored because there is simply no such measurement.  Rather, we have examoles of observed ahnimal behavior that some person has interpreted as indicative of emotion.  It is interesting speculation and nothing more.

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    I think it bizzarre that one should refer to a federal court decision to distinguish science from religion.  is that better?

    It is also bizzare that you would search the scientific literature for an idea you claim to be religion.  That it is not there, is to you, proof that it can be ruled out.  Again, I submity you have simply made science your religion.

    Now, to evolution. 

    The general molecular mechanism of reproduction (haphazard blending of parental DNA overlaid with sporadic mutations) is well understand and I would consider it fact (though some details are left to work out).  In this way we assume the progeny to have a unique (or nearly so) DNA blueprint.

    That these unique features interact with the environment to select those that maximize reproductive prowess is something frequently observed – in the lab and in the wild (roundup resistant weeds, antibiotic resistant germs, that kind of thing),  That this process happens I would also consider a fact.  Now, for clarity I will call these interactions “natural selection”: a process by which mating populations of organisms have been observed to change.

    Even more, we can isolate populations of the same species and see that they change differently.

    So natural selection happens, I don’t dispute that – neither do most others, religious or not, and I would think that Eric and I would agree on all of the above.

    Where we differ is here.  Eric claims, that this mechanisms is THE explanation for the temporal spatial history of life on earth – the evolution of life on earth.  And that it is “as close to a fact as it can come”. 

    I call BS.  Natural selection is a mechanism that allows species to change over time.  The fossil record suggests that species change over time.  Therefore, natural selection explains those changes.  This is a trivial logical fallacy.  Any “changes” are the result of natural selection because natural selection causes change – thus we have a clever non-falsifiable article of faith.

    Further, Eric claims there are no competing theories.  This is a trivial appeal to ignorance. 

    Given (IMHO) that evolutionary science has devolved to religious dogma, it seems unlikely that any tenure-seeking professor would challenge the scientific consensus, lest they be attacked by the Erics of the world who imagine consensus implies fact.

    Now, it seems very likely that natural selection plays a role, perhaps a very important role in the evolution of life on earth.  But is it the only factor at plaY – nobody knows.  Is it the most important factor at play – nobody knows.  Does a supreme being periodically intervene – nobody knows.  Is there some intelligent design in guiding evolution or in creating the mechanisms Iwhatever they be) that casue evolution – nobody knows.

    The sun circles the earth.  The theory is confirmed by millions of observations.  There is a near universal consensus that this is so.  No alternative explanation exists.

    In closing.  Keith and Eric find religion and science to be somehow incompatable; religious people do not accept the theory of evolution.  This is myth created by those who have adopted science as their religion – once theory becomes dogma it requires all other viewpoints be banished.  As a self-avowed bible thumper, I have no problem with the theory of evolution and it does not conflict with religion as I understand it.  I know many religious people and have met very few how feel differently.

    I take issue with those who would take sound scientific observation (mechanism of reproduction and some observations of natural selection) to create an infinitely flexible, non falsifiable theory that explains change – all changes, of any kind, large or small. 

    This is silly, ignorant, hubris.  It is anti-science because it is dogma and it thwarts the scientific pursuit of truth.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Adler, you say:
    You brought up the subject of tears, for the purpose of debunking the proposition that animals display emotion. I pointed out that tears are not an essential feature. You haven’t discussed the substance of a single example which definitively shows animals display human like emotional behavior. The science is compelling and there are many examples.
    This is disingenuous in a number of ways.  First, I did not bring up the issue of tears.  kdk33 brought it up as something unique to humans, and you countered by saying animals did it too.  I saw this as the perfect opportunity to discuss one of your examples and show it to be false.  So not only did I not originate this topic, the only reason I discussed the topic was because you used it as an example.  With this in mind, we can continue to read your comments:
    I have quoted examples that show empathy, social solidarity and morality. You haven’t addressed any of these.
    Why would I discuss any of your examples when your response to me refuting one of your examples was to falsely claim I never addressed any of your examples?  Beyond that, you haven’t even shown your claims about there being a large body of evidence is true.  All you’ve done is point to a few anecdotes.  Your entire position now is based upon misrepresentation, so it’s no surprise you go on to say:
    History shows that phenomena which used to be explained by the supernatural intervention of a God or gods, are now understood based on modern science. Science has been extraordinarily successful. I don’t see any reason to believe that this success has ended as science takes on the task of understanding the brains and behavior of humans and other animals.
    This was in response to me saying science cannot explain the human consciousness.  Note, you didn’t dispute my claim about the current standing of science.  You tacitly acknowledge science cannot currently explain the human consciousness.  Given that, it’s hard to imagine how you could disagree with what I said.  How do you manage to do it?
    By changing it.  You suggest at some point in the future science will be able to explain human consciousness.  I said it cannot do it now, and you respond by saying, “You’re wrong.  In the future it will be able to!”  Of course, I never said science will forever be unable to explain the human consciousness (though there are plenty of arguments to support such a claim) so this makes no sense at all.
    It is only by flat-out making things up, you are able to criticize me, such as when you say:
    You are simply raising dust for the sake of it. Your position is not to take a position and know nothing. It is true denialism.
    This is utter nonsense.  It is completely untrue, yet you state it as fact.  I suppose it should come as no surprise Keith Kloor promotes this statement, as he is just as dependent upon making things up as you are when it comes to criticizing me.

    By the way Keith, I can do it too, “Any observer reading your comments can tell you’re not playing with a full deck.  You don’t address anything people say, and instead you just make things up.”  Of course, unlike you I didn’t actually make up quotes (none of the quotes you attributed to me actually exist).  I guess I just suck at making things up about what people say.
    Here’s something to consider Keith.  Eric Adler supports the position you mocked me for advancing.  You acted as though I was a loon, and yet now, the person you’re supporting, holds the exact same position.
    If you had any interest in accuracy, honesty, or even just reality at this point, you’d have already changed your tune.  But hey, you can still change.  You can still acknowledge readily obvious points.  You can retract your errant criticisms of Ed Forbes, acknowledge creationism doesn’t inherently conflict with science, and you can stop looking like a close-minded fool.

    It’s your call.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    In regards to the Nova documentary, Eric Adler says to me:

    I accept that a 3 hour presentation such as the Nova series will gloss over some of the controversies surrounding research on human origins. If what you claim as errors are corrected, is there going to be a substantial change in the account that it presents of human evolution, when the dust you are raising has settled? What about the African rift valley? The jelly bean example may be a poor analogy, but so what?

    Again, he claims I am raising dust.  Apparently he would have you believe the only reason I warned people the Nova documentary contained misleading material is because I want to cloud issues.  It couldn’t be that I genuinely want people to understand things, and I know that documentary would get in the way if a person isn’t aware of its inaccuracies.  It’s not that the material is known to mislead people (especially students who see it in the classroom); it’s that I’m a horrible denier who denies all knowledge.  Also, he would have you believe I didn’t point out any errors, but instead, I pointed out things which there is controversy over.  Because apparently documentaries don’t make actual mistakes (and lemmings really do run off cliffs).

    I think he’s right.  I think I didn’t say what I said to say it.  I think I said it to say something else which is hidden so well you can’t actually find it in my comments save by assuming some conspiratorial slant and ignoring what I actually said.  Obviously those simple sentences of mine were part of a sinister plot to discredit all knowledge!  Now pardon me while I go back to my secret lair where I can plot out my next dastardly move. 

    Muah, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaa…

  • Keith Kloor

    Brandon,

    I’m fine with however you and kdk33 want to portray me. It’s your reality. Far be it for me to mess with it. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    We might be nearing the Argument from Consciousness:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_consciousness 

  • Stu

    I read in the paper the other day that Roy Spencer is a committed Christian.

  • Eric Adler

    IVPO,
    “”¦In fact former President Carter is making my point clearly:  Belief in Christianity and the writings in Genesis in no way interfered with his ability to lead or in the pursuit of science.”
    My point is that in the case of  Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, or some of the other Republican candidates religious beliefs do interfere with their ability to lead and pursue scientific excellence for our country. I never claimed that belief in a religion was an automatic disqualification for a political candidate.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch. wrote:
    @177
    “It couldn’t be that I genuinely want people to understand things, and I know that documentary would get in the way if a person isn’t aware of its inaccuracies.”
    Your statement was:
    “My two favorite examples are what it says about the African Rift Valley, and the jelly bean experiment. ”
    Much of the documentary was about the geology and natural history of the rift valley. How does your statement make a person aware of the documentary’s inaccuracies?  What precisely was inaccurate, and how do you know? If you told us that, I would consider it useful, but you did not. All you did was raise dust, which is your usual mode of discussion.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon,
    @176
    Looking back I notice that I echoed KD33’s reference to tears in my subsequent post.  I didn’t realize that I did that. You are correct that tears are not a good example.
    The other examples I cited were valid and supportable.

  • Eric Adler

    Stu
    @180
    You are probably aware that Spencer is an AGW denier, and an advocate of Intelligent Design, as well as a right wing libertarian free enterprise advocate. These 3 often go together.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @176
    “Here’s something to consider Keith.  Eric Adler supports the position you mocked me for advancing.  You acted as though I was a loon, and yet now, the person you’re supporting, holds the exact same position.”
    What are you referring to here?  Why don’t you make your posts more specific so that people can figure out what the hell you are talking about? That is why I accuse you of raising dust.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @ 175
    I consider your claim that my post is bizarre a compliment coming from you. If you liked what I wrote, I would be worried.
    What is bizarre is your post 175.
    You say,
    “I call BS.  Natural selection is a mechanism that allows species to change over time.  The fossil record suggests that species change over time.  Therefore, natural selection explains those changes.  This is a trivial logical fallacy.  Any “changes” are the result of natural selection because natural selection causes change ““ thus we have a clever non-falsifiable article of faith.”
    You select one sentence out of my explanation of the different factors which confirm the theory of evolution by random variation and naturals selection, and claim that this sentence doesn’t prove the case. It is bizarre to claim victory on the basis of such a blatant distortion.
    You claim that the fact that there is no.competing scientific theory is an argument from ignorance. It is actually a statement of fact. The theory has been around since 1859. Over this time period, no competing scientific theory has emerged.
    I don’t count anything based on religion as a scientific theory.
    Your argument about intimidation as the factor responsible for the lack of an alternative theory  is nonsense. All fields of science have their share of iconoclasts, who would love to overthrow the current understanding and become famous. Evolution is accepted because it is a valid theory, not because scientists are prevented from dissenting.
    I got a real laugh out of this passage:
    “Now, it seems very likely that natural selection plays a role, perhaps a very important role in the evolution of life on earth.  But is it the only factor at plaY ““ nobody knows.  Is it the most important factor at play ““ nobody knows.  Does a supreme being periodically intervene ““ nobody knows.  Is there some intelligent design in guiding evolution or in creating the mechanisms Iwhatever they be) that casue evolution ““ nobody knows.”
    And you chided me for  -“a trivial appeal to ignorance. “. Do you realize how bizarre this is?
    Evolution by random variation and natural selection is as universally accepted by biologist as any scientific theory can be, because it has been validated over and over again by a variety of means. It is not as you claim, without any justification, non falsifiable.



     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Adler, your comments are as nonsensical as ever.  For example, you say:

    Much of the documentary was about the geology and natural history of the rift valley. How does your statement make a person aware of the documentary’s inaccuracies?  What precisely was inaccurate, and how do you know? If you told us that, I would consider it useful, but you did not. All you did was raise dust, which is your usual mode of discussion.

    The Nova documentary contains several hours worth of footage.  I have no reason to try to sit down and document all the errors in it.  It is sufficient to warn people the documentary is misleading, thus they know not to accept what it says at face value.  My comment was nothing more than a note of caution warning people to approach the documentary with skepticism.
    You’re attempting to force me to accept a far larger burden then there is any reason to assign me.  I provided a few references to errors so that people could verify what I said (a quick Google search will turn up what I referred to) was true, but aside from that, there was no reason for me to be specific or detailed.  You then go onto say:

    What are you referring to here?  Why don’t you make your posts more specific so that people can figure out what the hell you are talking about? That is why I accuse you of raising dust.

    First off, the comment of mine you quoted wasn’t directed at you, so it seems strange for you to make an issue of it.  Second, and far worse, you suggest I wasn’t specific enough.  However, any review of the exchanges between Keith Kloor and myself would make my reference abundantly clear.  Not only is there one obvious thing I’m referring to, I’ve actually referred to the exact same thing multiple times.  I’ve even referred to it while talking to you!
    You repeatedly accuse me of “raising dust” simply because I am not more specific than there is any reason for me to be.  This is nonsensical, and not just because of your unreasonable demands.  If you actually felt I should be more specific, you could easily ask me for more information.  Instead of this simple and normal process, you effectively accuse me of intellectual dishonesty.

    I implore you, read what I have said in this topic.  Once you’ve done this, if you are unclear about anything, ask for clarification.  If you do this, we can stop your baseless attacks on my character which stem purely from your failure to understand the simple sentences and concepts I post.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    On the upside Eric Adler did admit an important point:
    Looking back I notice that I echoed KD33″²s reference to tears in my subsequent post.  I didn’t realize that I did that. You are correct that tears are not a good example.
    The other examples I cited were valid and supportable.
    Here, he finally admits what I addressed was one of his examples.  Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to retract any comments like:
    You haven’t discussed the substance of a single example which definitively shows animals display human like emotional behavior.


    So lets review where things stand.  Early in this larger discussion, I said of the supposed evidence supporting Eric Adler’s position:
    It usually only takes a little examination to see alternative explanations, often ones which fit much better. 
    Now then, as we all acknowledge, Eric Adler provided some anecdotal evidence.  Also, as we all now acknowledge, I examined one of his examples, and I showed it was wrong (or at least made a compelling enough argument that he agreed it was wrong).  This is almost a perfect example of what I described.
    So what should we do now?  Should we, as Eric Adler suggests, ignore that one example because he has others?  Suppose we do, and I examine another of his examples, and the same thing happens.  Do we then say that example “doesn’t matter” because there are still more examples?  Do we repeat this process ad nauseam?
    Of course not!  Eric Adler claims there is a large body of scientific evidence supporting his position.  He has done nothing to show it.  He hasn’t referred to a single scientific paper.  He hasn’t referred to any sort of overview which discusses what evidence exists.  He hasn’t even referred to discussions between various scientists about this issue.  He has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate his position is true.  He has a large burden of proof, and he hasn’t even attempted to meet it.

    The situation we face is simple.  There are two choices.  First, you can accept Eric Adler’s claims based entirely upon a handful of anecdotal evidence, generally provided through popular media, given without any contrary opinions acknowledged, much less discussed.  Second, you can believe the existence of any large body of scientific evidence would be readily demonstrable.  This would mean if science overwhelmingly supported Eric Adler’s claims as he would have you believe, it would be easy for him to demonstrate such.  Given this, you’d have no reason to believe him until he actually meets his burden of proof.  This, combined with his behavior and the disproval of one of his examples, would lead you to conclude Eric Adler’s position is most likely wrong, and it is certainly has not been supported enough to believe it.

    One choice is that of science and reason.  The other choice is that of faith.  Everyone has to pick which they will rely upon for this topic.

  • Stu

    Eric says:

    “@180

    You are probably aware that Spencer is an AGW denier, and an advocate of Intelligent Design, as well as a right wing libertarian free enterprise advocate. These 3 often go together.”

    “What if Mary is another name for Gaia?
    Then her capacity for virgin birth is no miracle,
    it is a role of Gaia since life began.
    She is of this Universe and, conceivably,
    a part of God. On Earth, she is the source
    of life everlasting and is alive now;
    she gave birth to humankind
    and we are part of her.” 

    ““ Sir James Lovelock , Ages of Gaia.

    Gaia worship and belief in catastrophic climate change often go together. 

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon,
    @188,
    You are either deluding yourself, or lying to put the best face on your vacuous arguments when you claim I “have done nothing to show it”.
    I provided many examples of scientific studies performed by scientists, and written about by professional reporters.  See 138- 142 for instance.
    It is easy for any interested reader to check this. There is nothing invalid about using a number instances of animal behavior to show animals have  human qualities. Your use of the word “anecdote” doesn’t make this invalid.
    It is clear that you can’t refute the examples I have cited except for tears, which I acknowledge was a mistake.  Your post is a smoke screen designed to hide thia.

     

  • Eric Adler

    STU,
    I didn’t cite it, but my contention about correlation between belief in evolution, climate change and politics is not based on a single case.
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/section-5-evolution-climate-change-and-other-issues/
    The evidence is very strong of a divide between scientists and the public on causes of climate change, and evolution.  Scientists believe AGW is real (84%) and  evolution is a natural phenomenon 97%. These figures are far lower among the general public,  and lower still among the religious and consevatives.

  • kdk33

    Eric,  You might find these interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

    http://philosophy.lander.edu/scireas/ignorance.html

    After reading these you will see that you employed (rather perfectly) an appeal to ignorance when you say (paraphrasing) “no competing theory exists” as evidence that your theory is correct.

    In my paragraph I am not citing ignorance as evidence of anything.  I am simply illustrating that many things are not known – I am highlighting ignorance.

    There is a difference.    

  • kdk33

    “There is nothing invalid about using a number instances of animal behavior to show animals have human qualities.”

    Let’s be clear abou the “qualities” we are talking about:  Human or Human-ish emotion.  Any person, scientist or otherwise is free to observe animal behavior and interpret that as indicative of emotion.

    For example:  when I come home, my dog displays behavrio (running around me then sitting at my feet until he gets a scratch behind the ears followed by a belly rub then following me around for the next 1/2 hour or so.  I tell people my dog is “happy” to see me.  That is my interpretatin of the behavior through my human fiilter.

    But, is the dog experiencing “happiness” remotely similar to the “happiness” I know as a human?  I have absolutely no idea.

    A similar answer applies to the related question: do animals have consciousness.
      
    Example of animals displaying emotion are similarly flawed.

  • kdk33

    Funnily,  Eric

    In my #175, I thought I had established common ground between you and I:  natural selction (random change interacting with the environment) happens; I gave examples.  I object when you claim that is explains, well everything.  If I misunderstood, and you think other mechanisms are required to explain the history of species, then please give me some idea of what those are.

  • Stu

    Eric, I don’t reject those numbers (although they appear to be specific to Americans and may not reflect globally). My point is again one of symmetry. If we are to reject Spencer (and all skeptics) in part because of their belief in a higher power, then what are we to say about those who proclaim the Earth itself to be trancendant to human consciousness? Al Gore has famously remarked that the Earth ‘has a fever’ – surely mirroring Lovelock’s ideas on the planet as organism. 

    “Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma.” – Lovelock. 

    You can’t tell me that this idea of a ‘sick’ planet in fever has not resonated throughout the scientific community and been a part of the language in support of action on AGW for a long time. But it a very strange notion, arguably no less or any more strange than Christian ideas on the origins of life. Hey, it may even be true. Point is, I’m not judging people who line up with or otherwise invoke the language of Gaia theory and rejecting the science that they do because of these ideas. And neither should you. Neither should we make a big deal about Spencer being a Christian when the science he does has got nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity. 

  • Eric Adler

    Stu,
    Spencer’s theories on climate change have been debunked because it is not possible for clouds to be a forcing factor. They don’t last long enough. He has used  a large number of arbitrarily chosen adjustable parameters to fit an empirical model which he uses to justify his theory. There is no physics behind it. That is why it is wrong.
    That is a separate question from why right wing anti government views,  objection to AGW and evolution go together.
    I don’t know of any climate research papers which quote Lovelock, or any scientists that justify their views on climate change by referring to the goddess Gaia.  Al Gore may use the word “fever” to describe global warming, but to most people it is a simple and obvious rhetorical  analogy, not specifically related to worship of Gaia.
    Among the general population in the US, there is a correlation between political conservatism, belief in Christian fundamentalism, and opposition to the theories of AGW and evolution. The Pew Trust poll shows this.
     It is clear that much of human reasoning is motivated.  One clue to which side in a controversy is correct is the prevalent opinion of experts in the field, who are more familiar with the facts and scientific theory. Because of their training and abilities, scientists are usually, (but not always) able to avoid being preyed upon by motivated reasoning. There are higher standards of proof, and more rigorous tests of the consistency of a theory in the sciences, and a greater exposure to more observations among scientists  than among the general public. It is noteworthy that scientists, who are more rigorous in their thinking than the general public, and whose profession requires them to be open to new observations, reproducibily of observations and logical consistency, tend to be liberals. Very few scientists are conservatives (9%) and Republicans (5%).  Maybe Steven Colbert’s jest that “Reality has a Liberal Bias” has some truth to it.
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/section-4-scientists-politics-and-religion/
    There are scientist who do not accept the theory of evolution and AGW. I suspect that there  is a higher correlation with political conservatism in this view than among the general public, while very few scientists are conservative.
    Most of the scientists who actively oppose AGW and write papers on climatology are working for right wing political think tanks opposed to government regulation. This represents only 3 % of climate scientists.

     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @192,
    Your claim that I made an argument from ignorance is false. Once again you ignore a critical part of my argument when you make your rebuttal. This is a real bad habit, and shows that you are not thinking clearly.
    Here is a description of argument from ignorance from your first Wikil link.
    “This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to satisfactorily prove the proposition to be either true or false.”
    The problem with your claim is that I discussed the fact that the question of evolution has been thoroughly researched for 152 years. One clearly can’t claim that there has been insufficient investigation.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33
    @192
    You wrote:
    “In my paragraph I am not citing ignorance as evidence of anything.  I am simply illustrating that many things are not known ““ I am highlighting ignorance.”
    Here is what you actually wrote:
    “Now, it seems very likely that natural selection plays a role, perhaps a very important role in the evolution of life on earth.  But is it the only factor at plaY ““ nobody knows.  Is it the most important factor at play ““ nobody knows.  Does a supreme being periodically intervene ““ nobody knows.  Is there some intelligent design in guiding evolution or in creating the mechanisms Iwhatever they be) that casue evolution ““ nobody knows.”
    Now this is a kind of inverse argument from ignorance. You are suggesting other theories than natural selection may hold, and should be considered, because nobody knows whether they are true or not true.
    That is even more foolish than an ordinary argument from ignorance. In fact there is no empirical evidence to support the theories that you propose, yet you offer them as an alternative.  That is not how science is done.

  • Stu

    Hi Eric- Unfortunately I am in no position to argue whether Spencer is correct or not correct regarding clouds (perhaps though you could point me to where, in the scientific literature, he’s been debunked). My humble point, echoing yours above, is that he does not quote Jesus when talking about them. 

    The statistic you reference, 9% scientists conservative/5% republican, is pretty amazing, and quite an eye opener if accurate.

  • Eric Adler

    Stu @ 199
    Here are a few rebuttals of Spencer and Braswell, which you can look at:
    They are quite technical, and my previous post tries to summarize them in simpler terms.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/roy-spencer-negative-feedback-climate-sensitivity-advanced.htm
    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/just-put-the-model-down-roy/
    This paper was so scandalously bad, that the Editor in Chief of Remote Sensing has just resigned in embarrassment that the reviewers allowed this paper to be published. He says:
    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf
    “Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.
    After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.
    With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011 [2], the main author’s personal homepage [3], the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” published by Forbes [4], and the story “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” published by Fox News [5], to name just a few. Unfortunately, their campaign apparently was very successful as witnessed by the over 56,000 downloads of the full paper within only one month after its publication. But trying to refute all scientific insights into the global warming phenomenon just based on the comparison of one particular observational satellite data set with model predictions is strictly impossible. Aside from ignoring all the other observational data sets (such as the rapidly shrinking sea ice extent and changes in the flora and fauna) and contrasting theoretical studies, such a simple conclusion simply cannot be drawn considering the complexity of the involved models and satellite
    measurements.  …”
    It is worth reading this in full. He says the editor who handled the paper chose 3 global warming skeptics to review the paper, and they did a bad job.
    This isn’t the only time such a thing happened when terrible paper by skeptics got published.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soon_and_Baliunas_controversy
    “After seeing the critiques of the paper, Climate Research’s chief editor Hans von Storch sought to make changes to its review process. However, when other editors at the journal refused, von Storch decided to resign.[1] He condemned the journal’s review process in his resignation letter: “The review process had utterly failed; important questions have not been asked … the methodological basis for such a conclusion (that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climate period of the last millennium) was simply not given.”[18] Eventually half of the journal’s editorial board resigned along with von Storch.[13] Von Storch later stated that climate change sceptics “had identified Climate Research as a journal where some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common”[19] and complained that he had been pressured to publish the paper and had not been allowed to publish a rebuttal contesting the authors’ conclusions.[5]
    ….”

     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > After reading these you will see that you employed (rather perfectly) an appeal to ignorance when you say (paraphrasing) “no competing theory exists” as evidence that your theory is correct.

    This is not an appeal to ignorance, but what is called an inference to the best explanation:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abductive_reasoning
    It would be easy to find appeals to ignorance in this very page.  For instance, saying that we have no explanation of consciousness, whatever that might mean, has been used as an appeal to ignorance.



     

  • Eric Adler

    Stu,
    Since my comment is awaiting moderation, I would like you to google “skeptical science Spencer Braswell”
    You will find a link to skepticalscience dot com on the subject of Spencer and Braswell.
    You will find a news item that the Editor in Chief of the journal, Remote Sensing, resigned in embarrassment and protest, because the paper was so bad it should not have been published.

  • Eric Adler

    Willard
    @201
    Thanks.
    You are correct that natural selection is a sufficient and the most economical explanation of the origin of species. It is a compelling but not an iron clad argument. However in the scientific sense a theory can never be proven conclusively anyway.
    Science proceeds by using the most economical explanation. That is why intelligent design is not a considered a scientific theory.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Eric,

    You’re most welcome.  Notice how the discussion has developed:

    First, people started by questioning the very idea of saying that there are “facts” in science.  That’s not very difficult to do.  One only has to rehearse the (naive) falsificationism that has currency over the Internetz.  There are no certainty in science; science is conjecture and falsification; etc.

    Second, people followed by giving examples of stuff still “unexplained” by science.  That is, we have no “satisfactory” explanation of consciousness, animal emotion, or what not.  What kind of explanation would be satisfactory?  We don’t know yet, but we can posit that it’s because something has been left unexplained, not indubitable beyond reasonable doubt.

    You should notice that if you’re a falsificationist, no explanation is really satisfactory.  That is, scientific explanation leaves something unexplained.  They’re just a bunch of conjectures anyway, some refuted, some not refuted yet.  For a falsificationist, asking for a “satisfactory” explanation as underlined makes no sense whatsoever.

    So you should also realize that you’re facing a double bind:

    If you say that evolution is a fact, we could reply that science is only conjecture, never factual.

    If you say that the best explanation of fossils (say) is that species evolved, we could reply that this is explanation is not good enough, not unlike consciousness, animal emotion, or your favorite life’s mystery.

    We should realize by now that this double bind creates an unloseable strategy.

    We should also ask ourselves how these kinds of strategies belong to scientific discussions.

    My own hypothesis is that these strategies are better suited for never ending audits.

  • Tom Gray

    re above

    I just wish that climate science would be capable of making one useful preiction that could be used byt policy makers

    That is I am not opposed to remeditative action being taken to cope with teh implications of the plausible hypothesis of AGW. However climate science in respect to the utility of its predictions has not gone beyond the provision of a plausible hypothesis.

    Scientific facts are scientific facts. What matters is if these facts are of use to policy makers. Claims of positive feeedbacks and tipping points are not useful unless they can be demonstrated by a predictive model. They are not useful unless they can be linked to an actionable option that can be considered by policy makers. I have yet to see any options proposed in response to a climate science finding beyond general precepts of reducing emissions. How much and what will be the effect of other choices.

    I really do not care about climate science of about the behavior of climate scientists. I do care about the well being of future generations. I am willing to take the actions necessary to ensure tht well being. However from climate scientists I hear nothing beyond vague assertions that would assist policy makers in the selection of any specific option.

  • Tom Gray

    I mesnt to say:

    I really do not care about climate science OR about the behavior of climate scientists

    I left out the phrase “juvenile though they may be” but on refection I consider that it is quite appropriate

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    “Kdk: September 2nd, 2011 at 9:00 pm
    Speaking of special snowflakes:
    “I’ve got a biology PhD and do protozoon genomic analysis for a living”

    Yeah, even with the  ‘Forgive the argument from authority’ preface you left out, how *conceited* of me, to assert authority over Shub on this matter, by virtue of scientific training and profession and daily use of the relevant scientific concepts.

    That just ain’t the (Republican) American way any more, is it?

    Or did you just not understand what the big words meant?








     

  • Eric Adler

    Willard,
    Your analysis of the discussion is correct.
    The point that needs to be made, is that the a scientific theory is valid if it is consistent with observations, economical, consistent with the accepted scientific theory, and has shown to have predictive power.  Evolution by natural selection has been observed and meets that test, having been confirmed by successive discoveries of involving the genome.  Insects and plants have developed  resistance to pesticides through natural selection and pathogens have developed resistance to antibiotics. All of this is predicted by natural selection.
    So the burden of proof is on those who claim that the human species is somehow not an animal species that is not the product of natural selection.  So far on this thread, those who claim humans are an exception have not met their burden of proof.

     

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray @ 205,
    Climate science does not yet have the ability to create models with the resolution to predict the powerful internal variability of the climate well enough to predict the exact evolution of average temperature or regional climate. Examples are El Nino,  Arctic Oscillation etc.  Over the long term, these sources of variation will average out, and what is important are the long term trends.
    An analogy that has been cited is the behavior of a boiling pot of water given the rate of application of heat. One can’t predict every bubble, but one can calculate the average distribution of temperature as a function of position.
    In addition to this problem, some of the forcing factors have uncertainty attached to them. The least well known is aerosols.
    As a result of the complexity, just like weather models, climate science models rely on empirical factors and behavioral models. Both climate and weather models are subject to uncertainty in  their projections and are probablistic.  The results of weather models are used by business and government for advance planning purposes.  Economic models have similar characteristics and are also used for planning purposes.
    So there is a precedent for using uncertain models to plan for the future. It may not be perfect, but it is the better than total blindness.
     

  • Tom Gray

     

    The utility of any science can be measured by the degree to which an allied engineering discipline is possible

    What I would really like to see is a discipline called “Applied Climate Science’ that would specialize in taking climate science findings and converting these to engineering technologies. So, for example, it would develop standards that would be used to verify the utility of a proposed climate proxy. So, for example, the proxies in a paleo study could be verified against an international standard.

  • Tom Gray

    re 209

    Erik Adler

    Isn’t this a good statement that the facts of climate science are the facts of climate science. They have little to no utility for other purposes.

    Why do people get so vehement in arguing about facts that have no practical importance. I will listen to climate scientists when they can introduce me to climate science engineers who can make rigorous use of their findings. Until thn as far as I am concerned, they can publish articles in their magazines and give each ot4hr awards. The rest of us are faced with the problem of deciding what action to take. Fantasias in green technologies are what I am seeing now in the engineering response to AGW. As people say in peer review, these preliminary findings are not yet ready for publication.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Adler, we have now reached the point where civil conversation is pointless.  You have repeatedly made untrue claims about me, and you have made no effort to correct for such.  You have repeatedly and incessantly attacked my character without basis, and you have shown no signs of changing this behavior.  Despite my repeated corrections of your false criticisms, you have done nothing to set the record straight.  At this point, I can see no value in responding to you further.  As such, this will be my last response to you.  This is just as well as your only response to my lengthy comments is in effect:

    You are either deluding yourself, or lying to put the best face on your vacuous arguments when you claim I “have done nothing to show it”. I provided many examples of scientific studies performed by scientists, and written about by professional reporters.  See 138- 142 for instance. It is easy for any interested reader to check this. There is nothing invalid about using a number instances of animal behavior to show animals have  human qualities. Your use of the word “anecdote” doesn’t make this invalid.

    Of course, this response is completely non-responsive and misrepresentative.  Anyone can read my comments and see the few examples given in no way contradict what I said.  You have simply misrepresented what I said you have “done nothing to show.”  Given this, I find it amusing you failed to even get a simple quote straight as I never actually said what you quoted.  The mistake is minor, but it is fitting.  You’ve repeatedly claimed a lack of clarity from me, yet time and time again, you fail at keeping even the simplest things straight.  You also say:

    It is clear that you can’t refute the examples I have cited except for tears, which I acknowledge was a mistake.  Your post is a smoke screen designed to hide thia.

    This is the sort of comment which ensures there can be no value in a civil conversation between you and I.  You repeatedly made false claims the one time I discussed any of your examples in detail, and you never retracted or apologized for any of them.  You now claim it is clear my current “post is a smoke screen” to hide the fact I can’t refute your other examples.  This is an offensive claim made without any basis.  It is nothing more than an insult.

    Put simply, Eric Adler, you have failed.  You have failed in regards to civility.  You have failed in regards to your burden of proof.  You have failed in regards to simple reading and comprehension.  You have failed in regards to basic reasoning.

    There is nothing to be gained from continuing this any further.  Anyone reading our exchange already has all they could need to make their own conclusions, and I’m content to leave it at that.  Feel free to make as many more uncivil, baseless and misrepresentative claims as you’d like, but this is over.

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray @205,
    Climate models predict that the American Southwest will get hotter and drier as time proceeds. This summer’s unusual drought and heat in Texas for instance will become more and more frequent. This has implications for land use and population planning, as well as the future of agriculture. If policy makers ignore this information the consequences can be costly.
    http://www.texasclimatenews.org/wp/?p=2571

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @212
    I am OK with your retirement from the discussion. All you have done is raise dust and obscure the issues.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @211,
    Climate scientists predict that because of rising sea surface temperatures, heavy rains such as those which have made so many roads impassible and flooded so many homes will become more common.
    The governor of Vermont has taken due note of this, and says:
    http://governor.vermont.gov/blog-vermont-under-seige-democracy-now
    “Well, really, we haven’t seen flooding like this in 75 years or so. And, you know, none of us, at least””you know, I’m old, but not that old, so none of us were around for that. All I can tell you is that when you see Vermont covered bridges washing down our rivers, those bridges have been there for hundreds of years, so they survived the floods of the 1928 and ’30s. And what that means is that, frankly, we’re experiencing flooding now in many areas of Vermont that is unprecedented in record keeping. We went through that just eight weeks ago, where we had our biggest lake, Lake Champlain, at flood levels that have never been recorded in recorded history.
    So the point is, we are getting more extreme weather patterns here in Vermont. We understand why. And we’re going to work hard to not only dig out from this crisis, but to also ask some fundamental questions that I don’t think are being focused enough in Washington, which is, how are we going to deal with a climate change future, in terms of transportation infrastructure, where we build, how we plan, how we build our highways and transportation infrastructure? How can we do better to ensure that we’re not continuing to sort of lurch from crisis to crisis?”

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @211
    In fact, Chin

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    For those who may be interested in some of the details of the disagreement which I haven’t discussed, I have a little extra insight to provide.  This is one of the links Eric Adler provided.  The first thing to note is it does not link to any sort of scientific publication.  Instead, it is just a short article on a website.  Relying upon media portrayal of science is never good, but it isn’t inherently wrong either.  So while one should be on-guard and skeptical while reading the article, it isn’t until he or she reads the first paragraph they should begin scoffing:

    Crows are birds that are able to remember the faces of people who pose a threat to their own kind. Also they can invite other crows to join them to take revenge on the attackers.

    That’s right, crows invite other crows to “take revenge on the attackers.”  What attackers are we talking about?  The article never says.  How do the crows “take revenge” on them?  The article never says.  Instead, it then goes on to say:

    Crows can bring their bad experience with some people to the wider population of crows, says co-author of study John Marclaf at the University of Washington.

    This John Marclaf doesn’t exist.  Presumably, they’re referring to John Marzluff.  This sort of mistake is highly peculiar, as is the mistake in the next sentence:

    Intrigued by the behavior of the crows living on their campus in Seattle, Marclaf and two colleagues wanted to determine whether the bird will remember the person they have experienced a traumatic experience.

    This sentence is missing “with” or “with whom” (depending of whether one chooses to end the sentence with a proposition).  The next sentence:

    For their experiment the scientists with the same masks had putted the rings on the captured birds, and then let them free.

    I get the impression the writer of this piece didn’t speak English natively or well.  I don’t know of any other reason for “putted” to be in the sentence.  Basic English aside, this sentence makes no sense.  What “same masks” is it referring to?  The article doesn’t say.  What “rings” or “captured birds” are it talking about?  The article doesn’t say.

    The rest of the piece continues in the same manner, though the basic mistakes regarding the English language get even worse.  There is no way anyone could read this piece and think it a good source, yet it is one of the few Eric Adler provided.  Not only does it fail horribly in regards to grammar and sensibility, it screws up the name of the scientist being discussed so severely you couldn’t possibly know who it is talking about.  The only reason you could hope to find what this piece is talking about is Google’s spelling suggestions are actually pretty decent.

    What makes this truly terrible is it is easy to find a good article discussing the research in question.  A quick Google search pulls this one up.  Despite the ease of finding a good piece like this, Eric Adler provides a source which is barely readable. 

    Incidentally, I was already familiar with the research in question, and despite what the link Eric Adler provided claims, crows did not invite other crows to “take revenge” on attacking researchers.  Unless you count making angry sounds as getting revenge.

    But hey, clearly Eric Adler and his exceptionally great sources are ever so reliable about things like the current state of science.  And the English language.

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @211
    In fact, China is making some big bets on Green Energy Technology in recognition that it will be needed to limit climate change. It is the largest maker of wind and solar power devices. Even though they haven’t signed any protocol for limitation of emissions, they are taking climate change projections seriously.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

  • kdk33

    Well this has become rather pointless.

      Willard:  First, people started by questioning the very idea of saying that there are “facts” in science”  Wherever was this claim made.  I think up thread i considered the genetic mechanism of reproduction (haphazard blending, random mutation, as basically fact).  Although it should be mentioned, if you speak to real scientists, few things are actually considered facts (at least a lot fewer than most people think).

    eric:  Insects and plants have developed resistance to pesticides through natural selection and pathogens have developed resistance to antibiotics. All of this is predicted by natural selection.”  You realize that these are the examples I presented as illustrative of natural selection.  You could at least come with your own.
      

    “So the burden of proof is on those who claim that the human species is somehow not an animal species that is not the product of natural selection”  Nonsense.  this is a searcfh for truth  Noone ever gains the highground in which the burden shifts to the other side.  the requriemet (which dogma precludes) is that everybodybe honest about what is fact, what is theory , what is supposition, what is faith, etc.

    Willard:  Second, people followed by giving examples of stuff still “unexplained” by science. That is, we have no “satisfactory” explanation of consciousness, animal emotion, or what not.  Yes Willard, you seem to be getting the point. 
      

    “You should notice that if you’re a falsificationist, no explanation is really satisfactory”  No.  If you are a scientist then you shold question, continuously, all explanations that leave certain things unexplained.

    Eric,  you have a theory, you cite lack of a competing theory as evidence that your theory is correct.  Lack of a competing theory says absolutely nothing about the veracity of your theory.  call it what you will – I call it an appeal to ignorance – either way, it is a logical fallacy.

    “This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to satisfactorily prove the proposition to be either true or false.”

    Yes, Eric, this is exactly what I am claiming.  That you are ignoring the possiblity of other explanations and that there is insufficient information to prove your theory (that natural selection is THE ONLY explanation for the spatial temporal history of life on earth), even though I agree is the best model we currentloy have

    Willar, you seem to find falsafiability irrelevant, but just for grins, are there any observations that would falsify the theory that natural selction is the only explanation.   If the theory cannot be falsified, then how does it have meaning.

    “saying that we have no explanation of consciousness, whatever that might mean, has been used as an appeal to ignorance” So, willard pointing out that there are things science can’t yet explain is an appeal to ignorance.  Please.  However do you do it.
     
    Willard:  “an inference to the best explanation”  That is not the context in which I read Erics comments.  If he were to say that natural selection is the best available explanation for the history of species, I would agree with him.  I don’t agree that the explanation approaches fact. 

    Of course, if I point out there are things that science can’t explain you wiil accuse me of an appeal to ignorance, so it is in fact YOU who have rigged the game.

    As far as I can tell, Eric seesm to accept that there are things science can’t explain.  but later claims it doesn’t matter because science will eventually explain everything.  He seems to not recognize that the final understanding may be different from the current – which seems rather bizzare, a number of well accepted theories have turned out to be wrong.   

  • Stu

    “Stu @ 199
    Here are a few rebuttals of Spencer and Braswell, which you can look at:”

    Thanks Eric for the links. I will make my way through them in time. I have already read Wagner’s comments and reasoning for his resignation (in full) and digested some of the controversy. To be honest, I agree with the Pielke’s when they say that Wagner’s actions here seem to be quite unusual. I’m also familiar with Trenberth’s normally overly aggressive, take no prisioners approach when dealing with critics.

  • Tom Gray

    Erik Adler writies

    =====================
    Tom Gray @205,
    Climate models predict that the American Southwest will get hotter and drier as time proceeds. This summer’s unusual drought and heat in Texas for instance will become more and more frequent. This has implications for land use and population planning, as well as the future of agriculture. If policy makers ignore this information the consequences can be costly.
    ===================

    Te
    The drought and heat in Texas and the central US were not, The reports that I have heard unusual. They are not exceptional when compared to occurrences in the previous climate history in the region. So there is little information in this “prediction” of climate science that can be seen as actionable for policy makers. The situation has been faced before and means to cope with it found. Texas is there which is evidence of that. So a reasonable policy maker when faced with such a prediction could, with confidence, decide to maintain present policies.

    Is there anything quantitative in these predictions that is not bound by error bars so broad as to make the predictions useless?

  • Tom Gray

    Further to the issue of climate scene predictions and error bars – There are climate science papers with error bars whose derivations are not described and for which any questions as to how they were calculated are rejected. Of what use are these papers to policy makers and to science in general?

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @217
    I guess you have decided to get back into the discussion.
    The news account may not be the best one to use, and the author has misspelled a name.  The NY Times article is better and recounts experiences by other scientific researchers besides the ones mentioned in the article I used.
    Scolding by crows is their means of retaliation, attempting to drive the away the subject of their wrath.
    Your post doesn’t dispute that crows communicate the identity of an enemy, and band together to harras a specific person who harmed one of their number. This aspect of  their social behavior is similar to humans, that is supports the premise that humans are member of a  continuum of animals in their character and behavior, and as a result of evolution and random selection have been successful in claiming the entire planet as our habitat.
    The purpose of your post seems to be personal. You want people to believe that I am not to be trusted because you have found a better newspaper article that shows what I wanted to show. This is in response to my complaint that your arguments do nothing but raise dust. Post number 217 actually makes my case once again.

     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @219
    Your claim that you don’t have a heavy burden of proof in your attempt to falsify the theory of evolution is wrong.
    In science, one can never prove anything conclusively in a logical sense but there is a characteristic of theories which are successful.  Most  theories need to be refined as more work on them reveals some new phenomena that can’t be explained by them. The history of science shows that the resulting newer theories are more universal than the old, and that the old theories in their restricted realm are still useful in scientific work. Newton and Einstein’s gravitational theories are an example.
    Atomic theory, much newer than evolution by natural selection, and gravitation  has also been used successfully by scientists since it was proposed. It is now understood to be a subset of elementary particle theory, but it is still used by chemists and physicists as a working theory.  If you were to propose a different theory, you would require a heavy burden of proof to get any credit for your ideas.
    Natural selection has the same status in biology as atomic theory has in physics and chemistry. During the last 152 years, It has been confirmed by the discovery of deeper more microscopic molecular biology. Since it has been so useful, over so many years,  the burden of proof lies heavily on those who wish to dispute it.
    You continue to claim that I used an argument from igrnorance when I pointed out no competing theory exists, despite the fact that I pointed to a 152 year history of active investigation of natural selection. You say there has been insufficient investigation  and therefore information to come up with something else.  In the US today, there are about 91,000 of biologists working today. I think this is a sufficient number to have turned up a competitive theory if it exists.
    This actually doesn’t apply to our discussion here, because you have provided no scientific evidence whatever  that the theory of natural selection fails. Quibbling about how heavy your burden of proof might be is ridiculous but we have come to expect the ridiculous in your posts.
    The biggest howler in this thread is your claim that natural selection is non falsifiable because it hasn’t been falsified.  A theory whose structure admits of no possible means to falsify it is deemed non falsifiable.  This is not true of evolution. It could be falsified but it just hasn’t been.
    Michael Behe has  tried to falsify the theory by the claim that biological structures within a cell have irreducible complexity that prevented their formation by the genetic mechanisms that are believed to be the mechanism of random variation. If this were found to be true, the accepted mechanism for natural selection  would actually have been shown to be incorrect. Behe’s  claim fell apart when the existence of dormant DNA, that can subsequently be activated was shown to allow the evolution of complex structures that he pointed to.
    History shows that opposition to the theory of evolution over the past 152 years is motivated by religious belief.
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1105/darwin-debate-religion-evolution.
    The opposition  is purely motivated reasoning, driven by religious beliefs  with no real evidence to support it.  The doctrine of separation  of church and state prohibits teaching of religious beliefs in public schools. As a result the religious opposition went underground and formulated Intelligent Design which didn’t specifically refer to God, but used the term “Intelligent Designer”. Click on the timeline in the above link and see for yourself.





     

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @222
    I don’t know which papers you are referring to specifically, and which requests for explanation have been rejected. Your account sounds strange to me.


     

  • PDA

    Tom Gray,
    You may be interested in what John Neilsen-Gammon – the Texas state climatologist and a professor of meteorology at Texas A&M – has to say about prediction and science:

    But science doesn’t work by making predictions about future events, for the most part; it makes predictions about observable aspects of the world, things detectable in the present.  The amount of trust scientists place in climate models, for example, depends on their ability to simulate relevant aspects of the past and present world.  The amount of trust the public places in climate science should depend on the weight of evidence in the past and present world, which is enormous.


    Roger Pielke the Elder shows up in the comments to the blog post and he and Prof. N-G engage in substantive and respectful debate, though about specific study results. Both worthies agree, rather, that the fundamental work of science does not, on the main, involve attempting to predict the future, making its “failure” to do so a feature, not a bug.

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray
    @221
    I don’t know where you get the idea that the current drought in Texas is not exceptional. This has been all over the news.
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/09/look-just-how-bad-texass-drought-has-been/42073/
    “Anyone who needs further proof of the severity of the drought in Texas this summer–and Texans certainly don’t; they just can go outside–need not look further than today’s Chart of the Day, below. Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon summarizes at the Houston Chronicle how the combination of above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall in the two-month period that ended Wednesday created one of the worst droughts in the state’s history…”
    Look at the graph. The Year 2011 sticks out way at the top. If I am missing something please tell me what it is. I want to know.
     

  • kdk33

    Eric,

    I’m starting to agree with B.S. that you just make stuff up.

    “History shows that opposition to the theory of evolution over the past 152 years is motivated by religious belief” 

    And yet I have repeatedly explained that evolution, in no way, conflicts with religion as I know it. 

    Your claim that you don’t have a heavy burden of proof in your attempt to falsify the theory of evolution is wrong.

    At no time have I treid to falsify the theory of evolution.  I’ve commented that natural selection can be observed, and you have stolen the examples I gave, and used them yourself.  I have repeatedly said that it is the best theory we have (even in my last post) and it should’t be discarded.  This has been a long thread, and written communication is never perfect.  But you are, again, taking liberties with what I said – or, at a minimum, being willfully obtuse.

    My claim is this:  while natural selection is our best current theory, it is overstating the case to say that is THE ONLY POSSIBLE explanation fo the history of species on earth.  (and I assume this is your claim as I have specifically asked you to clarify).

    I support my claim by saying that there are things the theory can’t explain:  human consciousness, emotions, religion, etc.  I could go further:  does natural  selection explain the origins of life on earth.  The origins of the universe.  

    I asked about the fate of the 20-something homonid species that are no longer with us, you offered some interesting speculation.  but humans are inarguably the most successfull species on the planet, why would all of our close relatives disappear.  Again, I say to you, our success, does not require their demise.  While one can speculate about their demise, the only scientific fact is that they are gone.  The why is not know with much certainty.
         
    The biggest howler in this thread is your claim that natural selection is non falsifiable because it hasn’t been falsified.  

    Did I write this?  Could you show me where.  Again, I think you are taking liberties?  I claim that your theory that natural selction is THE ONLY POAAIBLE explanation for the history of species is non-falsafiable, or very nearly so.

    I claim your logic is as follows:  natural selection causes species to change, the fossil record suggests species change over time, ergo natural selection is the explanation.  This is an interesting theory, but it simply isn’t fact.  Any change, no matter how large or small  can be explained by natural selection with some creative speculation.

    Feel free to provide an example of some fossil record implied change in species that cannot be explained by natural selection.   

    So.  Evolution does not conflict with religoin as I know it (not matter how much you would like that to be so).  Natural selection is the best available theory to explain the history of species.  It cannot explain everything.  It is overly flexible (I’ll back off non-falsifiable, if that will make you happy).  And it is presented by you, and many others, with unwarranted certainty.   

    So, If you choose to reply, try keep your criticisms consistent with the paragraph above.  

         

      

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    “Is there anything quantitative in these predictions that is not bound by error bars so broad as to make the predictions useless?”
    This presents a false dichotomy. People insure against improbable events all the time. It is a question of weighing the cost of insurance premiums against the cost of the outcome of the improbable disaster.
    In fact the error could be in a different direction. There are phenomena that exacerbate climate change that are left out of the models at the present time or are underestimated.  When these items get included the outcomes are going to be worse than the range of current model projections. Reduction of Albedo is one.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-loss-arctic-climate.html
    Also the release of methane from permafrost is another.

  • Eric Adler

    PDA @226
    Great Link. The discussion between Nlelson Gannon and Pielke Sr. is really worth reading.
    In fact the projections of models using hind casts with and without the “Tyndall Gas” effects show how they are necessary to predict global temperatures in the past. Here is an illustration:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm

  • Tom Gray

    PDA writes
    ===============
    Roger Pielke the Elder shows up in the comments to the blog post and he and Prof. N-G engage in substantive and respectful debate, though about specific study results. Both worthies agree, rather, that the fundamental work of science does not, on the main, involve attempting to predict the future, making its “failure” to do so a feature, not a bug.
    =============

    Scientific theories achieve value through their usefulness. This comes from the pragmatic philosophy of science exemplified by the eminent philosophers John Dewey and C.S. Pierce. So some sceitist may think his theory useful if it creates a coherent model of the present world. However a policy maker will ask him, quite reasonably, waht predictions does your theory make that will be useful to me in setting policy. If the scientists answers that it is the nature of this science that predictions have error bounds so wide that predictions are not useful for setting policy then the policy maker may, following Pierce and Dewey, say that this science is not useful and therefore worthless for my purposes.

    So if it is a feature and not a bug tht climate science can make no useful predictions then it is useless. Scientific therories are nether correct not incorrect. They are either useful of not useful. Assuming the statements about “feature not a bug”, we can conclude that climate science is useless.

    Now if we all were to admit that climate science in its current state is useless then perhaps we could all stop arguing and get on wiht the work of addressing the possibilities of AGW.

  • Tom Gray

    Erik Adler writes

    ===============
    Tom Gray,
    @222
    I don’t know which papers you are referring to specifically, and which requests for explanation have been rejected. Your account sounds strange to me.

    [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[

    I am thinking of the cottage induistry that has sprung up trying to figure out how Mann calculated  error bounds in his papers

  • Tom Gray

    ===========
    Tom Gray
    @221
    I don’t know where you get the idea that the current drought in Texas is not exceptional. This has been all over the news.

    the two-month period that ended Wednesday created one of the worst droughts in the state’s history”¦”
    ==================

    So it is not exceptional in that there have been droughts of the same or worse severity

  • Tom Gray

    Eric Adler writes

    ===============
    Tom Gray,
    “Is there anything quantitative in these predictions that is not bound by error bars so broad as to make the predictions useless?”
    This presents a false dichotomy. People insure against improbable events all the time. It is a question of weighing the cost of insurance premiums against the cost of the outcome of the improbable disaster.
    In fact the error could be in a different direction. There are phenomena that exacerbate climate change that are left out of the models at the present time or are underestimated. When these items get included the outcomes are going to be worse than the range of current model projections. Reduction of Albedo is one.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-loss-arctic-climate.html

    Also the release of methane from permafrost is another
    =================

    So the models are incomplete and provoide no guide to the policy maker.

    We are left with a plausble hypothesis of aGW and the policy maker is left to make decisions in the face of much uncertainty.

    Note that uncertainty and low probability are not the same thing. Calculations can be made about events with low probability. Events with a high degree of uncertainty do ot allow for such calculations.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    kdk33, you said something earlier I forgot to respond to:

    Although it should be mentioned, if you speak to real scientists, few things are actually considered facts (at least a lot fewer than most people think).

    If we’re using words in the scientific sense, not layperson sense, nothing mentioned here is really a fact.  Facts are observations combined with all relevant “environmental conditions” for said observations.  They take the form of, “X observed was observed by person A using apparatus B, calibrated at C….”  They don’t explain anything.  That job goes to theories.  Theories are never facts, no matter how well-supported or useful they may be. 

    That distinction tends not to be important most of the time, but it’s one worth knowing.  It’s also worth pointing out despite what people often say, scientific theories do not become scientific laws.  In science, laws are simply generalizations which describe observations.  They are not predictions, and they are not explanatory.  Put simply, theories say, “These things happen because of….”  Laws say, “These things happen.”  Laws can become theories if an explanation for them is found, but theories don’t become laws.  This is a good thing as laws are weaker than theories.

    Issues of semantics aside, I do have one other thing to say.  A little while ago you referred to me as “B.S.”  I know nothing was meant by that, but I ask people not to refer to me by my initials due to what those letters normally stand for.  It’s an unpleasant association I try to avoid.

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @231,
    It seems that you have misunderstood the discussion. Since we can’t verify the future until it happens, and then it is no longer the future but the present, one can’t test the science on the basis of whether it predicts the future. It is tested on the basis of its power to explain the past and present.
     As far as I know, the basic laws of nature are not expected to change in the future. Unless you expect this to happen, it doesn’t make sense to say that Climate Science is totally useless.
    What I can’t figure out is why you would believe that policy makers who elected to put curbs on emissions are all stupid for not understanding that climate science is totally useless.  Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean that they are stupid.

     

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray @233
    Obviously, you didn’t look at the graph in my link as I suggested in post 227. The average temperature is the highest on record at 87, the next highest is a full 2.5 degrees lower. The horizontal axis of the graph is rainfall. The point for 2011 is at 2 inches, 1 inch below the next lowest point the year 1956. This shows it is by far the worst drought in Texas History. It is a real outlier.
    You pointed to the phrase “one of the worst droughts in Texas History” as proof that it was not “the worst drought”. This is not a proper logical deduction.  The “worst drought” in Texas history must also be a member of the class “one of the worst droughts in Texas History”.
    Can you explain what you were thinking when you made this error in logic?

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray,
    @234,
    It is wrong to claim that underestimates in the severity of the temperature increases associated with climate change make Climate Models  totally useless as a guide to policy makers.  Addition of these effects to the models would make the temperature increase greater, and the effects of climate change more extreme. The policy makers can take this into account to calibrate the adjustments that they make to future plans. Sea level rise will be greater than the models predict, droughts will be even worse and rainfall events even more extreme.
    This seems to me to be common sense. I am curious about why you have overlooked these obvious points.
    As I mentioned before, perfect prediction of the future is not necessary to guide policy. Business and government take action  despite the fact that the future is uncertain, and use models which are imperfect all the time.
    The effects of Irene and its exact path were not known with 100% certainty. Nevertheless FEMA made preparations for action based on the forecast.

  • Eric Adler

    Tom Gray @232
    You are mistaken about the nature of Michael Mann’s paper. It was not at all about computer modeling of climate, like. GCM’s, which are used to project the future evolution of climate based on forcing factors.
    Mann’ et al’ s ground breaking 1998 paper was a calculation of past global average temperatures based on various proxies, which included tree rings sediments and other indicators,which were correlated with measured climate conditions in the recent past, and used to estimate temperature before accurate measurements were made.
    It is wrong to say that Msnn refused to discuss the errors or methods used in the paper. The data are available for all to use and he described the methods he used. This is sufficient information for anyone who wants to , to verify what he did.  The only thing he refused to provide is the actual computer code that he used, claiming it was proprietary. In fact it is desirable, for the purpose of verification of the science to develop the code independently, so that mistakes are not propagated.
    Criticisms of the original paper were made by skeptics and amplified in the blogosphere. Most of these criticisms were shown over time, to be unfounded. This is not sufficient to stop the criticisms from continuing to echo in the blogosphere in the present day.
    Over the next 13 years, More proxies were developed and different analysis methods were used in a dozen subsequent papers . The  conclusion that the last half century saw a unique rise in temperature was confirmed even though the temperature graph for the past 1000, years showed larger variability in past temperatures than Mann’s original graph.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-stick.htm
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In #219, kdk33 asks two questions.

    The first one is about the “claim” that people started by questioning the very idea of saying that there are “facts” in science.

    I’m not sure what “claim” this is referring to, since questioning is not claiming.  But if we accept that questioning is indeed claiming, such “claim” has been made for instance at #35 by Ed Forbes.  Later developments showed that the root cause to question facts in science was (naive) falsificationism. 

    ***

    kdk33 condeded that

    > If you speak to real scientists, few things are actually considered facts (at least a lot fewer than most people think).

    It would be interesting to know what kind of fact kdk33 has in mind, and an estimate of how many of them there are. 

    It should be noted that there is a difference between saying:

    (1) That species evolved is not a fact because there are no facts.

    and

    (2) That species evolved is not a fact because species have not evolved.

    Perhaps kdk33 could consider that Dawkins was talking the “fact” of evolution in a mundane way.  Considering the weight of evidence regarding the evolution of species, it makes sense to say that it’s a fact.  This would explains very well why Dawkins says:

    > Evolution is a fact, **as securely established as any in science**.

    with our emphasis.

    ***

    The second question is this one:

    > [J]ust for grins, are there any observations that would falsify the theory that natural selction [sic.] is the only explanation.   If the theory cannot be falsified, then how does it have meaning.

    First, we note that the claim is not that evolution theory is the only explanation, but that it’s the best one we have so far.

    Second, we note that we already noted in #94, Popper himself ended up believing that the theory of evolution was falsifiable.

    Third, Haldane suggested that the discovery of fossils of rabbits in the Precambrian era would falsify evolution.  Dawkins generalized this claim to any modern animals.  These two examples are taken here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

    ***

    The concepts of burden of proof and appeal to ignorance would still deserve due diligence.  Another time.  When a discussion can be settled by quoting a Wikipedia entry, chances are that we need to take baby steps.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In #219, kdk33 asks two questions.
    The first one is about the “claim” that people started by questioning the very idea of saying that there are “facts” in science.
    I’m not sure what “claim” this is referring to, since questioning is not claiming.  But if we accept that questioning is indeed claiming, such “claim” has been made for instance at #35 by Ed Forbes.  Later developments showed that the root cause to question facts in science was (naive) falsificationism. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    =====
    So it is not exceptional in that there have been droughts of the same or worse severity
    =====

    Auditors will judge this claim by reading the relevant article at John’s:

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/texas-drought-spot-the-outlier

    Claiming that 2011 is not exceptional makes little sense.  But we can understand its usefulness.  So it might still be a “pragmatist” thing to do.

  • PDA

    the nature of this science that predictions have error bounds so wide that predictions are not useful for setting policy

    Well, this is a selective way of determining what is “useful,” as Eric Adler has noted above. By your Procrustean definition, demographics, meteorology, the study of software reliability, of disease spread and of population dynamics are not “useful for setting policy,” as all are plagued with considerable uncertainties. So, farewell to the Weather Service, the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control, inter alios.

    You may want to reconsider this approach. Procrustes himself, if I remember my Greek mythology, did not come to a good end.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    In his comment @239, Eric Adler goes above and beyond with his misrepresentations.  Since I don’t see going over the hockey stick controversy as being worthwhile on this page, it should suffice to say I (and many others) say much, if not most, of what he said in it is false.

    Of course, if you believe what he has said about me before, you’ll take my comment as being a meaningless distraction.  If you don’t simply assume I’m dishonest though, you’ll realize this is a simple warning and call for skepticism.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @238
    “I’m starting to agree with B.S. that you just make stuff up.
    “History shows that opposition to the theory of evolution over the past 152 years is motivated by religious belief”
    And yet I have repeatedly explained that evolution, in no way, conflicts with religion as I know it. ”
    Whatever you think of the idea that opposition to the theory of evolution is based on religion, I am clearly not making things up. I posted a link which gives the detailed history and timeline.
    The fact that you believe evolution doesn’t conflict with religion as you know it, doesn’t mean that every religious person agrees. How can you make such a silly error in thinking? I am starting to worry about you.
    Your subsequent writing is just as confused.
    You say, “At no time have I treid to falsify the theory of evolution.”
    A little further down you say:

    “My claim is this:  while natural selection is our best current theory, it is overstating the case to say that is THE ONLY POSSIBLE explanation fo the history of species on earth.  (and I assume this is your claim as I have specifically asked you to clarify).
    I support my claim by saying that there are things the theory can’t explain:  human consciousness, emotions, religion, etc.  I could go further:  does natural  selection explain the origins of life on earth.  The origins of the universe.  ”
    Whoa! If the natural selection explains the emergence of the human species, homo sapiens, than it should be able to explain human characteristics by their survival value. If you claim it can’t do that, that amounts to an attempt at falsification.
    I didn’t say that natural selection is “THE ONLY POSSIBLE” explanation as you claimed.  I said that  it has been around for a 152 years and  no other scientific explanation has been found for the emergence of different species,and that it has been  confirmed by subsequent scientific discoveries and that falsification attempts have been made and have failed.
    Now let us look at your list of human characterisitcs not explained by natural selection. I have pointed out that fact scientists have shown that some human characteristics such as emotions, morality, social solidarity, self consciousness ( recognition of ones own image in a mirror) are found in animals, despite your claim that they are unique to humans. The very same regions of the brains which are active in human emotions are found in animals.
    There are also explanations of he survival value of abilities that appear to be distinctly human:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_human_intelligence
    You mention human consciousness, which is actually a collection of human brain functions. Each one of these can be examined separately to determine its survival value, and in fact this has been done for many of them.
     In addition, you mentioned religion. The value of religion to human survival clearly lies in the social solidarity that it engenders. Humans originally lived in small villages. They are social animals who cooperated in hunting, agriculture, raising children, building shelter. They needed a means of keeping order and settling disputes or the community would fall apart and individuals would not survive. To this day the normal function of almost all religions is to help members of the religious community when they are in need. In addition one of the characteristics of humans facilitated by their large brains is to retain and communicate explanations of why things happen. Religion is an idea attractive to humans for this purpose, and very persuasive and satisfying. As a result different groups of humans adopted different religions.
    http://www.rubinghscience.org/memetics/dawkinsmemes.html




     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch
    @244
    I am aware that you and many others would say what I wrote about the hockey stick controversy  is false. I agree not to argue the details of this controversy in this thread.
    However  a dozen peer reviewed papers by other scientists since Mann’s have validated his conclusions, and Mann himself has published an updated version, with the participation of a bona fide statistician. In addition the National Academy of Sciences report has endorsed the validity of his original paper despite some criticism of some of the statistical analysis.
    So without looking at the details of the controversy, what should a person think is more persuasive – the scientific literature, or the opinion of non scientific climate skeptics, most  of whom are motivated by right wing ideology.
     

  • Keith Kloor

    @235:
    “Issues of semantics aside, I do have one other thing to say.  A little while ago you referred to me as “B.S.”  I know nothing was meant by that, but I ask people not to refer to me by my initials due to what those letters normally stand for.  It’s an unpleasant association I try to avoid.”

    You might as well have pinned a “hit me” sign to your back. 

  • kdk33

    Willard,

    I take no responsibility for what Ed Forbes says.  I assumed you were referring to me.

    Do you seriously want to count scientific facts?  is that even possible? 

    Now to the meaningful part of your post.  You seem under the impression that I am questioning whether or not species evolve.  I am not, as I have repeatedly attempted to clarify.  I am questioning whether natural selection (as I defined it upthread, and noone disagreed) is the only possible explanation; that it rises to very nearly the level of fact, that to suggest other mechanisms are at p;ay is somehow anti-science.  So much of your post is irrelevant (or an argument in semantics – I’ll use whichever terminology you choose).

    But your rabbit example makes my point (though obliquely).  So the rabbit blows up the notion that species evolve – perhaps they were all placed on earth simultaneously.  In that case, there is no need to explain why.  A proper example would be an observation consistent with “species evolve” but would falsify “by natural selection”.  You example implies that you can only falsify “by natural selection”, by falsifying “species evoolve”, which makes my point.

    I do find this interesting:  First, we note that the claim is not that evolution theory is the only explanation, but that it’s the best one we have so far.
    Who’s claim, yours, mine, Erics?  I don’t disagree with this,  I take issue with the certainty with which it is presented.  I think it is overly flexible (as illustrated by the rabbit example).  I think there are things it cannot explain with much certainty.I think that therefore leaves room for other eplanations.

    Now, regarding appeals to ignorance.  I will use whatever terminology you choose.  But the situation is thus.  Eric has a theory.  He claims there are no competing theories and this is evidence that his theory is correct.  He is wrong.  Lack of a competing theory says nothing about the veracity of his theory. 

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    “Now, regarding appeals to ignorance.  I will use whatever terminology you choose.  But the situation is thus.  Eric has a theory.  He claims there are no competing theories and this is evidence that his theory is correct.  He is wrong.  Lack of a competing theory says nothing about the veracity of his theory. ”
    I already pointed out that I didn’t rely only on the fact that the theory has no competition. I also point out it is 162 years old, and was quite controversial at the outset, because it was opposed by people with religious beliefs. Despite this fact, it has not been challenged or falsified. Instead it has been confirmed by new discoveries about cell structure and observations of living animals and fossils.
    You are up to your old trick of rebuttal of straw man arguments, and declaring victory, rather than the argument that has been made. You have done this repeatedly regarding this particular point. This is the third or fourth time I have made the same point. How do you account for this? At first I thought it was a result of your being intellectually challenged, but now I suspect dishonesty.

  • kdk33

    Eric, if you were not implying that my argument was an objection due to religion, I’ll take your word for it.

    Jumping ahead to your scientific evidence that human consciousness emotions  etc.  are not unique.  You are free to believe this.  I believe differently.  There is no scientific evidence to settle this either way.  

    Now, regarding the theory of evolution, we may be using differnt semantics.  When I say I am not attempting to falsify the theory of evolution, I mean I am not attempting to fasify the notion that “species evolve”, as I hope I have made repeatedly clear.  I am arguing that your explanation for evolution “natural selection” (and I defined it upthread, and you didn’t quibble) is not known with the certainty I think you are claiming.  It is overly flexible. There are things it just can’t explain – human conscousness, for example –  though we will disagree.

    Now to this:  I didn’t say that natural selection is “THE ONLY POSSIBLE” explanation as you claimed.  In which case I apologiize for the confusion, though I’ll point out that somehwat earlier I specifically asked you to clarify.. 

    Your answer implies that there could be other mechanisms at play, some yet undiscovered.  Some already known but rejected.  While you will find it doubtful, I think this leaves open the possiblity that other mechanisms may even be more important.

    Is its possible we have agreed on at least one signifcant point?.

  • kdk33

    Eric #249,

    This ost was not directed at you.  More importantly it is beside the point.  But I am not sure how your clarification bolsters your argument in any way.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I find it amusing Eric Adler would ask readers:

    So without looking at the details of the controversy, what should a person think is more persuasive ““ the scientific literature, or the opinion of non scientific climate skeptics, most  of whom are motivated by right wing ideology.

    To anyone who accepts his framing of the issue, the answer is obvious.  To anyone who approaches the subject with an open mind, his question alone should make them doubt his claims.  The sheer level of (implied) ad hominem and hand-waving is incredible.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    In response to me asking not to be referred to by my initials as I find it creates an unpleasant association, Keith Kloor says:

    You might as well have pinned a “hit me” sign to your back.

    This is yet another on which he and I disagree.  Personally, I think most people participating in a civil discussion will refrain from calling a person a name they know that person finds offensive.  I guess time will show whether my hope or Kloor’s cynicism is correct.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    “Eric, if you were not implying that my argument was an objection due to religion, I’ll take your word for it.”
    I can’t figure out what you mean by this.

    I pointed out that Darwin’s theory was objected to because it conflicted with religious fundamentalist beliefs. You seemed to object to this account of the history on the based on the bizarre argument that you didn’t see any conflict between religion and Darwin’s theory.
    @245
    Clearly your since you didn’t participate in this historical debate your personal opinon played no role in what actually happened.

     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @250,
    “Jumping ahead to your scientific evidence that human consciousness emotions  etc.  are not unique.  You are free to believe this.  I believe differently.  There is no scientific evidence to settle this either way. ”
    There is lots of evidence. I have described some of it on this thread. You are simply ignoring its existence. You have never addressed a single one of the points that were made.
    It would be honest to say that you disagree with the arguments, but you are unable to rebut them.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 @250
    “Now to this:  I didn’t say that natural selection is “THE ONLY POSSIBLE” explanation as you claimed.  In which case I apologiize for the confusion, though I’ll point out that somehwat earlier I specifically asked you to clarify..
    Your answer implies that there could be other mechanisms at play, some yet undiscovered.  Some already known but rejected.  While you will find it doubtful, I think this leaves open the possiblity that other mechanisms may even be more important.
    Is its possible we have agreed on at least one signifcant point?.”
    This is a trivial point and would apply to any scientific theory. Nobody claims to know what is undiscovered. If you don’t understand this, and think that it applies specifically to natural selection, it is clear that you don’t understand the nature of a scientific theory.
    Another example of confusion.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @251,
    Originally you quoted only part of my argument in order to claim I committed the fallacy of argument from ignorance. Look at my reply in 197. I indicated significant investigation has failed to find a competing theory. I pointed out this was not an argument from ignorance, as you falsely claimed, according to the definition of the argument from ignorance that you cited.
    You have repeatedly ignored this point, and continue to ignore what I said, and claim that my argument is invalid. This is the fifth time you have persisted in making this argument, without responding to my point. It would seem there is a lack of willingness to confront the truth here.
    Once again, it is a valid argument to say a theory is considered valid if it has a long history of being thoroughly investigated, always confirmed by new discoveries, and is consistent with scientific theories in other fields. This is true of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
     

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @252, you wrote:
    “I find it amusing Eric Adler would ask readers:

    So without looking at the details of the controversy, what should a person think is more persuasive ““ the scientific literature, or the opinion of non scientific climate skeptics, most  of whom are motivated by right wing ideology.

    To anyone who accepts his framing of the issue, the answer is obvious.  To anyone who approaches the subject with an open mind, his question alone should make them doubt his claims.  The sheer level of (implied) ad hominem and hand-waving is incredible.”
    To anyone familiar with history the way I frame it is correct.
    The fact is that most of the AGW deniers, AKA skeptics, whether they are scientists or non scientists oppose governmental regulation of all types. History shows that this is the root of the opposition to the theory that Tyndall Gases ( i.e. Greenhouse Gases discovered by Tyndall in 1859) are responsible for global warming. This opposition originated at right wing think tanks:
    http://www.scienceprogress.org/2010/08/distorting-science-while-invoking-science-2/
    Two surveys show 97% of climate scientists accept AGW as a correct theory. If one looks at the small number of dissenters from the consensus, they are almost without exception part of the political right wing.
     One needs only to be familiar with the posts and comments at AGW denier blogs to see this correlation still exists. The current scientific gurus of the AGW denier movement are all right wingers. Some prominent examples ,  – Singer, Watts, Spencer, Lindzen, McKittrick , Michaels …

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33 wrote:
    “Eric #249,
    This ost was not directed at you.  More importantly it is beside the point.  But I am not sure how your clarification bolsters your argument in any way.”
    If you mischaracterize my argument while addressing someone else, do you expect me to remain silent?
    You are purposely being obtuse here. A 152 year old theory that has been thoroughly investigated, validated by new scientific discoveries, and and has no competition from alternative theories, and is accepted by scientists is considered valid.  You object to this point and at one time called it an argument from ignorance which it is not.
    I have made this point a number of times and you have repeatedly ignored it.  I find this bizarre to say the least. Have you no shame?
     

  • Stu

    Eric says:

    “However  a dozen peer reviewed papers by other scientists since Mann’s have validated his conclusions, and Mann himself has published an updated version, with the participation of a bona fide statistician. In addition the National Academy of Sciences report has endorsed the validity of his original paper despite some criticism of some of the statistical analysis.
    So without looking at the details of the controversy, what should a person think is more persuasive ““ the scientific literature, or the opinion of non scientific climate skeptics, most  of whom are motivated by right wing ideology.
     ”

     Eric, you are not being exact. It’s probably closer to 97% (that figure again) of the criticism of the proxy reconstructions going back to Medieval times, has been articulated by one person, Steve McIntrye, who is not ‘right wing’. You also don’t seem to be aware of the problems of these newer studies. I’m not sure how much time you have spent at climate audit, but there is a lot more to say there on the subject than the 500 words or so displayed at sceptical science. 

  • Stu

    Just another quick point- but this is the second time (that I’m aware of) that you’ve bought up this idea of right wing ideology as it relates to climate science.. The mirror argument of your insinuation that conservative scientists can only ever distort knowledge in favour of their political beliefs is of course the well worn (and worn out) notion that climate science as a whole is a vast, left wing conspiracy. I would like to show more respect to the scientific process than to argue in favour of either of these interpretations.

  • kdk33

    OK Eric,

    My game with you is over – 2 last posts. 

    I said nothing about any other persons motivation – historical or otherwise.  I thought you were referring to my motivation; if you were not, I’ll take your word for it, but there is absolutely no reason to discuss it.  It is not relevant.

    You are purposely being obtuse here. A 152 year old theory that has been thoroughly investigated, validated by new scientific discoveries, and and has no competition from alternative theories, and is accepted by scientists is considered valid.  You object to this point and at one time called it an argument from ignorance which it is not.

    Eric, arguing semantics is beside the point, you can name the logical fallacy to which I refer any thing you like (Lucy, for example).  My cllaim that the lack of an alternative theory says nothing about the veracity of the current theory is in fact correct – it is an appeal to Lucy,  And yes, I still object to your overall point point – see my  argument about natual selectoin being overly-flexible (which at one time I called non-falsifiable, feel free to bring that up if you want; I’have tried to accomodate whatever terminology you and willard prefer).

    No, I have not ignored evidence that animals have emotions, consciousness, etc.  Quite the contrary.  If you check, you will see that I provided an excellent example:  dogs.  (much better than your crows BTW, because it is a common everyday observation familiar to most people, and many people have a huge data base of observations from which to operate).  My objection is that there is simply no way to know if the dog is experiences happiness, saddness, remorse etc in the way humans do.  Nor is there any to know if it is conscious in the humans are.  All we have is interesting speculation.  You are free to believe whatever you want on this subject; you should be honest enough to recognize it is a belief based on speculation and perhaps some wishful thiinking.  On this subject we simply will never agree, but feel free to hurl some more insults.

  • kdk33

    “This is a trivial point and would apply to any scientific theory. Nobody claims to know what is undiscovered. If you don’t understand this, and think that it applies specifically to natural selection, it is clear that you don’t understand the nature of a scientific theory”.

    Your insults aside, this is not a trivial point.  Iit is THE point. 

    Perry said (paraphrasing) “evolution is a theory”.  A point which you cede and now call trivial.

    Perry says “there are gaps”. We disagree on the human consciousness/emotion example; your belief system differs from mine.  (there are countless court decisioins, at all levels; and common law, centuries old, that grant humans a tremendous array of unique priveleges not afforded animals (see soylent green).  So, I, like you, will refer to court decisons to prove my point – humans are unique)

    Some very smart people think some intelligent force is required to complete the explanation.  This is certainly true.

    And for this you excoriate the man.   For his stance on evolution (which is tangential at best to his ability to govern); a stance with which you mostly agree, and where you disagree is where your belief system and his diverges.

    Seems to me you are objecting on religious grounds.

    (BTW, Perry is not my favorite candidate – that was another bad assumption on your part)

    ’till next time

  • Eric Adler

    Stu,
    I don’t know the political orientation of McIntyre, and he is one of the few exceptions to the correlation between right wing politics and opposition to the idea of AGW.
    What puzzles me about McIntyre is that he has never commented on some of the awful statistics in papers published by AGW skeptics. Somehow the mistakes in statistics all seem to be made by scientists whose analysis lends support to AGW.
    Many papers and articles have been written about the mistakes made by McIntyre in his criticisms of Mann. One doozy is McIntyre’s botched use of centered PCA in an attempt to show that Mann’s use of non centered PCA what created the Hockey Stick shape of his graph. Proper use of centered PCA actually produced a Hockey Stick shape almost exactly like the original.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/false-claims-by-mcintyre-and-mckitrick-regarding-the-mann-et-al-1998reconstruction/
    Despite this rebuttal of McIntyre’s claim, his criticism is still echoed in the AGW denier blogosphere, with no recognition that is has been shown to be wrong.
     

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @263
    I did not claim that a court decision decided the validity of Evolution. The court determined that Intelligent Design was a religious idea, not a scientific idea, and could not be taught as a scientific theory in a science class because of the Constitution prohibition against establishment of religion. The people who cooked up the idea of Intelligent Design may be intelligent, but they cooked up the idea to discredit natural selection, because of their religious beliefs. They hoped that not naming the creator as God would get around the Constitution.
    No one is arguing that human beings are not a unique animal. The debate is whether humans are a product of evolution by natural selection or not.

  • Eric Adler

    Stu,
    @261
    The mirror image argument you threaten to invoke  has no factual basis.
    The origin of AGW is scientific research. There is no hint of political motivation in the work of Tyndall, Arrhenius,Callendar, Keeling, Kaplan,  Plass or Manabe which provided the experimental and theoretical  scientific basis for the Greenhouse effect and did the first calculations to show how it could change the climate. As work continued more and more scientists were won over.
    The blowback came mostly after 1988 when the topic began to be politicized.
    http://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/climate/public2.htm#L_0424
    “A… study of American media found that in 1987 most items that mentioned the greenhouse effect had been feature stories about the science, whereas in 1988 the majority of the stories addressed the politics of the controversy. It was not that the number of science stories declined, but rather that as media coverage doubled and redoubled, the additional stories moved into social and political areas.(116) Another study similarly found that before 1988, some three-quarters of the articles on climate change in leading American newspapers described the problem and its causes, whereas by the early 1990s, more than half of the far more numerous articles focused on claims about proposed remedies or on moral judgments. Before 1988, the journalists had drawn chiefly on scientists for their information, but afterward they relied chiefly on sources who were identified with political positions or special interest groups.(117) Meanwhile the interest groups themselves, from environmentalists to automobile manufacturers, increasingly advertised their views on global warming…
    ..”The main argument offered against regulating greenhouse gases was simply to deny that warming was likely to come at all. A few scientists insisted that the statistics of record-breaking heat since the 1970s were illusory. The most prominent of these skeptics was S. Fred Singer, who retired in 1989 from a distinguished career managing government programs in weather satellites and other technical enterprises, then founded an environmental policy group. He got financial support from conservative foundations and fossil fuel corporations. …
    The technical criticism most widely noted in the press came in several brief “reports” “” not scientific papers in the usual sense “” published between 1989 and 1992 by the conservative George C. Marshall Institute. The anonymously authored pamphlets came with the endorsement of Frederick Seitz, former head of the National Academy of Sciences, an ageing but still highly admired scientist whose expertise had been in solid-state physics. The reports assembled a well-argued array of skeptical scientific thinking, backed up by vocal support from a few reputable meteorologists. Concerned that proposed government regulation would be “extraordinarily costly to the U.S. economy,” they insisted it would be unwise to act on the basis of the feeble global warming theories and data.(121*)
    ….
    Scientists noticed something that the public largely overlooked: the most outspoken scientific critiques of global warming predictions did not appear in the standard scientific publications, the “peer-reviewed” journals where independent scientists reviewed every statement before publication. The critiques tended to appear in venues funded by industrial groups, or in conservative media like the Wall Street Journal. Most climate experts, while agreeing that future warming was not a proven fact, found the critics’ counter-arguments dubious, and some publicly decried their reports as misleading “junk science.”..”

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Oh my gods, *make it stop*.

    kdk,  “possible’ models to explain present-day life on earth hinge on what you consider ‘possible’.   But even with that, what’s more important is *probable*.  All possible things are not equally probable, except under some extreme assumptions…like the existence of an omnipotent sky-god.
    You can spend the rest of your life fantasizing about ‘possible’ models, but no scientist will care. They want models that explain the evidence, and that don’t rely on an all-explaining and thus experimentally barren  ‘a magical being did it’ hypothesis.  For the rare instances where we really *can’t* know, as with ‘what happened before the big bang’, they mark their musings as speculation (but even then, try to muster evidence from the world we can measure today).

    Origin of life on earth — i.e., what happened before biological evolution kicked in — is not an intractable/paradoxical problem on the order of ‘what happened before time zero’?.  It is a hard question (happened a long time ago, when conditions were radically different from now, and the molecular record has been vastly scrambled since then) but isn’t hampered by the collapse of physical laws (as investigation beyond the singularity is).  There has been and remains ongoing considerable scientific research into answering the question of how it *could* have happened ‘by chance’.  I would classify this as being something we don’t know *YET*.











     

  • Stu

    Eric @ 266-

    I read quickly through your post (almost time for bed), but as far as I can tell I agree with it.

     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    It’s amazing what one can find in Eric Adler’s comments.  For example:

    The fact is that most of the AGW deniers, AKA skeptics,

    The fact he directly states “deniers” and “skeptics” are the same thing (remember, what he was responding to dealt with skeptics) should be enough to make anyone doubt his views on any global warming controversy.  Even Keith Kloor doesn’t go as far as Eric Adler does here. 

    Another amazing thing he says is:

    Many papers and articles have been written about the mistakes made by McIntyre in his criticisms of Mann. One doozy is McIntyre’s botched use of centered PCA in an attempt to show that Mann’s use of non centered PCA what created the Hockey Stick shape of his graph. Proper use of centered PCA actually produced a Hockey Stick shape almost exactly like the original.

    Of course, McIntyre has responded to this supposed “rebuttal” multiple times, and it turns out the rebuttal is baseless as Mann’s work didn’t use Preisendorfer’s Rule N, the rule the rebuttal claims shows McIntyre’s criticisms were wrong.  Unsurprisingly, that isn’t the only thing the RealClimate article Eric Adler linked to says which is completely untrue.  For example, it also says a fact is “[c]uriously undisclosed” in McIntyre’s work, but McIntyre’s work actually discussed that exact fact.

    But hey, apparently being skeptical is bad because that means you’re a “denier.”  It’s clearly much better to simply read a source which says what you like and take its word without question.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In #248, kdk33 declares to take no responsibility for what Ed Forbes says in #45, but does not consider that in #219 he says about the same thing as Ed Forbes:

    > If you speak to real scientists, few things are actually considered facts (at least a lot fewer than most people think).

    In #248, kdk33 repeats that he is “questioning whether natural selection is the only possible explanation”, when we aleady said that the claim worth discussing is

    (NS) Natural selection is the best explanation we have.

    In #248, kdk33 repeats that he questions the claim that “natural selection raises to the level of fact”.  Yet, we have no idea what kdk33 would consider a scientific fact.  In reality, we could very well consider that in a falsificationist framework the very idea of a scientific fact makes no sense at all.  So no wonder kdk33 has yet to offer us one example of a scientific fact.

    Finally, kdk33 contests that natural selection could be falsified, when we already noted in #94 that Popper himself revised his opinion about the falsifiability of natural selection and considered it falsifiable:

    http://laboratoriogene.info/Ciencia_Hoje/Popper1978.pdf

    As we previously noted, we also read (p. 354) a praise of **Selfish Gene** by Richard Dawkins.

    Considering that kdk33 has repeats stuff which we already responded, we’ll have to wait a bit more before entering into any discussion about appeals to ignorance. 

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @269,
    There has been a lot of back an forth about the selection rules. The problem is that McIntyre didn’t use any selection rules. He just used the same number of components in his centered analysis as Mann did in the non centered analysis.This is clearly wrong.  Since the 4th component contains the hockey stick shape in the centered analysis it is clear why McIntyre didn’t get a hockey stick when he did his analysis.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/the-montford-delusion/
    In addition, a dozen papers since have obtained a hockey stick from proxy reconstructions. When the proxies McIntyre objects to are removed a hockey stick still appears.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch
    @269,
    Most “Deniers” call themselves “Skeptics”.  The problem is that they are skeptical of only one side. Most of them such as McIntyre do not criticize nonsense, when it serves to undermine the theory of AGW. McIntyre is an example.
     

  • Stu

    Eric

    “In addition, a dozen papers since have obtained a hockey stick from proxy reconstructions. When the proxies McIntyre objects to are removed a hockey stick still appears.”

    Hi Eric. Which studies?

    Not sure if you’ve seen this at climate audit-

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/08/01/the-no-dendro-illusion/

    Take out the bristlecones, and take out the Tiljander sediments (both of which are problematic), and the hockeystick does not validate back before 1500 AD. So pretty useless for saying anything about medieval temperatures.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    It’s funny how even Gavin Schmidt won’t defend certain positions, yet people like Eric Adler blindly promote them.  I suppose it’s because people like Gavin did advance them at one point, and they just never bothered to talk about the fact they were wrong, even after they’ve admitted it.  The best example is obliquely referred to here:

    When the proxies McIntyre objects to are removed a hockey stick still appears.

    This was a common claim after Mann’s 2008 paper came out.  Gavin Schmidt even made it on this site, repeatedly.  Of course, it turned out the only reason the claim could be supported was Mann’s paper used uncalibratable series, upside down.  These were the now infamous Tiljander series.  If you removed those unjustifiably included series, the claim fell apart.

    Now then, Gavin claimed otherwise on this site quite a few times.  He even claimed to provide proof he was right.  However, when people examined what he provided (especially lucia), they found he was simply saying untrue things about his own source.  When confronted with this, he left the discussion.  A while later, he agreed to the position he had previously criticized in a response to a comment at RealClimate.

    But hey, what does it matter if even RealClimate acknowledges a point?  Facts haven’t mattered much to defenders of Mann’s work in the past, so why should we expect facts, even undisputed ones, to matter now?

  • Ed Forbes

    willard Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 6:05 pm In #248, kdk33 declares to take no responsibility for what Ed Forbes says in #45,

    .
    I did not post #45. so what are you talking about?

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Ed Forbes, I assume that was a typo and he meant #35.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Eric,

    Please do not help anyone divert this thread into another hockeystick debate.

    If nothing more can be said about our current discussion on evolution, it will be more difficult to obfuscate.

    PS: Yes, Ed, I meant #35.

  • Ed Forbes

    #35
    “Several THEORIES of evolution out there that are each strongly supported by hard data and are contradictory.
    Gould and Darwin, for two, cannot be both right”¦..though they may be both partially right…”
    .
    .
    I find it amusing that this statement in #35 generates so much heat.
    Both Gould and Darwin support natural selection, but each have a much different take on the details that makes natural selection work.
    Details matter. My field, engineering, makes one focus on the details as hand waving on the details will get people killed.
    For this I get accused of being a “creationist” and pushing “ID” ? J
    If not for the cat fight between the religious fundamentalists and atheists, the rest of us might be able to have a rational discussion on this topic.

     

  • kdk33

    And, now Willard, my game withyou is over.

    Saying “about the same thing” and saying “the same thing” are not the same thing.  As a pro-science guy, you should have been taught this.  At no time did I question the existence of scientific facts.  I said there are fewer than people think.  Think it over slowly, perhaps you will understand.
    You actually do have an idea of what I would consider a scientific fact.  From 175: The general molecular mechanism of reproduction (haphazard blending of parental DNA overlaid with sporadic mutations) is well understood and I would consider it fact. 
    I have agreed, multiple times, that natural selection is the best theory we currently have.  So, your next point is simply non-sensicle.
    I specifically asked Eric to clarify if he considered natural selection THE ONLY explanation.  Moreover I have been capitalizing “THE” or “THE ONLY” to make absolutely sure I understood Eric’s position.  Easier to “just raise more dust” than try to understand, I suppose.

    To satisfy you I have stopped using falsified and now say ‘overly flexible’, and have pointed this out this change specifically.  This should please you, in a way I have moved my position due to your objection. 

    Either way, I do not recognize Popper as the final arbiter of anything.  I have asked you for an example and the one you provided supported my position:  according to your example, you cannot falsify “by natural selection” without falsifying “species evolve”, which makes my point:  “by natural selection” may be our best current explanation, but it is overly flexible in that almost any “change” can be “explained” by natural selection with some creative speculation (see the discussion about what happened to the 20-something hominoid species that are now longer with us.)  But I do appreciate your helping make my point ““ thank you.

    So, I have pretty well established as fact that you are not arguing with what I actually say.  I suspect you imagine you are sounding clever in a forum where you figure I’m outnumbered and you have lots of allies, and so there is no need to actually respond to my arguments.

    ’till next time

  • kdk33

    And now to steven sullivan, PhD, protozoa poker (AKA, special snowflake)

    I find your references to “sky daddy” vulgar, childish, and irrelavent to my argument.  Otherwise, you are “just rasing dust”

    Nevertheless you have provided me a most interesting example.  Regarding origins of life on earth you say:  There has been and remains ongoing considerable scientific research into answering the question of how it *could* have happened “˜by chance’.  I would classify this as being something we don’t know *YET*.

    (BTW, You are echoing one of Erics themes.)

    It is the *yet* (with extra emphasis even) that is revealing.  In reality, we may never know.  I consider the origins of life one of the great mysteries.  But in your world there are no mysteries, just things we don’t know *yet*.  Why? Because Science already knows; Science is just waiting for us to puzzle it out.   And you are confident this is so – *yet*; with extra emphasis.

    Now, if “not known *yet*” applies to the origins of life on earth, I will speculate that you would apply it to…. well everything we don’t know.  So, Scienece is omniscient, Science has perfect knowledge, Science is god, and you are one of great faith.

    Well, Steven, thanks for playing. 

    And this is, I desperately hope, the last time I will ever respond to a Steven Sullivan post.

     

  • Eric Adler

    Stu says:
    “Take out the bristlecones, and take out the Tiljander sediments (both of which are problematic), and the hockeystick does not validate back before 1500 AD. So pretty useless for saying anything about medieval temperatures.”
    There is still a big hockey stick emerging from Arctic Temperature Reconstructions that go back 2000 years.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=global-warming-reverses-arctic-cooling
    This is off topic, but I couldn’t resist.

  • Eric Adler

    KDK33,
    @280
    There are a number of alternative hypotheses regarding the origin of life that appear to explain it.   The raw materials necessary are abundant. As yet we don’t know which of a number of possible environments created the chain of chemical reactions which lead to the emergence of life. If you want to call this a mystery, that is OK.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In #263, kdk33 says:

    > I have agreed, multiple times, that natural selection is the best theory we currently have.

    In #248, kdk33 says:

    > I am questioning whether natural selection […] is the only possible explanation; that it rises to very nearly the level of fact, that to suggest other mechanisms are at p;ay is somehow anti-science.

    In #219, kdk33 says:

    >  If [Eric Adler] were to say that natural selection is the best available explanation for the history of species, I would agree with him.  I don’t agree that the explanation approaches fact.

    Here is Eric Adler in #203:

    > [N]atural selection is a sufficient and the most economical explanation of the origin of species. It is a compelling but not an iron clad argument. However in the scientific sense a theory can never be proven conclusively anyway.

    Auditors might ask: how is natural-selection-as-the-only-explanation relevant in the debate between kdk33 and Eric Adler?

    ***

    We can witness how kdk33 and Eric Adler are in violent agreement about

    (NS) Natural selection is the best explanation we have.

    We can see that kdk33 and Eric Adler are disagreeing about

    (ND) Natural selection is a fact.

    We are tempted to suppose that kdk33 and Eric Adler agree about Dawkins’ claim (our emphasis):

    (D) Evolution is a fact, **as securely established as any in science**.

    If that supposition is true, the main point of contention is about the fact of natural selection.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Since Eric Adler and kdk33 seems to only disagree about the fact of natural selection, we had to ask: is it a semantic issue?  For example, that there are no facts could very well be a consequence of (naive) falsificationism.  If science is only conjectural, it can’t contain any fact.

    (Note the Procrustean bed game one can play here: ask for matters of fact while denying virtually all of them.)

    This is not the case, as kdk33 reminds us in #263 what he would condider a fact in #175:

    > The general molecular mechanism of reproduction (haphazard blending of parental DNA overlaid with sporadic mutations) is well understood and I would consider it fact.

    If that’s a fact, there seems to be more of them than the conterfactual in #219:

    > If you speak to real scientists, few things are actually considered facts (at least a lot fewer than most people think).

    A falsificationist (perhaps Ed Forbes) would say something like that. Falsifiability is a problematic notion in epistemology.  In my opinion, holism bests it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_holism

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    To close things up, my last comment for the day.
    I welcome the adjustment in kdk33’s #228 from “is not falsifiable” to “is overly flexible” in #228.  But I’m not sure if kdk33 is playing Humpty Dumpty here.  Look for instance the challenge in kdk33″²s last comment:

    > “by natural selection” may be our best current explanation, but it is overly flexible in that almost any “change” can be “explained” by natural selection with some creative speculation.

    It does not seem that kdk33 holds “creative speculation” in high regards. The logical possibility of adjusting theories leads to holism, so is not as bad as kdk33 seems to believe.  His challenge remains interesting.

    This challenge has been met a long time ago.  Here is the abstract of Donger and Vosser (1984):

    > In this paper we discuss the epistemological positions of evolution theories. A sharp distinction is made between the theory that species evolved from common ancestors along specified lines of descent (here called the theory of common descent), and the theories intended as causal explanations of evolution (e.g. Lamarck’s and Darwin’s theory). The theory of common descent permits a large number of predictions of new results that would be improbable without evolution. For instance, (a) phylogenetic trees have been validated now; (b) the observed order in fossils of new species discovered since Darwin’s time could be predicted from the theory of common descent; (c) owing to the theory of common descent, the degrees of similarity and difference in newly discovered properties of more or less related species could be predicted. Such observations can be regarded as attempts to falsify the theory of common descent. We conclude that the theory of common descent is an easily-falsifiable & often-tested & still-not-falsified theory, which is the strongest predicate a theory in an empirical science can obtain. Theories intended as causal explanations of evolution can be falsified essentially, and Lamarck’s theory has been falsified actually. Several elements of Darwin’s theory have been modified or falsified: new versions of a theory of evolution by natural selection are now the leading scientific theories on evolution. We have argued that the theory of common descent and Darwinism are ordinary, falsifiable scientific theories.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/x05n5w520g614xt1/

    The appendix is even more interesting, as it formulates the logical structure of the argument.  I could post if interest manifests itself.

    While it is sometimes helpful to use “creative speculation” to adjust a theory, it is sometimes more useful to ditch the whole theory altogether. When evidence against natural selection will create too much problems, scientists will ditch it.  If you speak to real scientists, chances are that the scientific community won’t appear as stupid as blogland keeps portraying it.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Stu says:

    Take out the bristlecones, and take out the Tiljander sediments (both of which are problematic), and the hockeystick does not validate back before 1500 AD. So pretty useless for saying anything about medieval temperatures.

    Eric Adler’s response is extremely humorous:

    There is still a big hockey stick emerging from Arctic Temperature Reconstructions that go back 2000 years.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=global-warming-reverses-arctic-cooling
    This is off topic, but I couldn’t resist.

    The problem?  That article refers to Kaufman 2009, a paper which used Tiljander.  That’s right.  Eric Adler points to a paper which uses a series to tell you people get a hockey stick without using that series.

    As always, facts seem not to matter when it comes to defending the hockey stick.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch
    BS. If you look at the graph of the Kaufmann paper, curves with and without the Tijander sediments are shown. It is clear that the removal of Tijander was totally inconsequential.
    The Hockey Stick graph is not the house of cards that McIntyre claims.

  • Eric Adler

    Willard,
    Thanks for an excellent article.
    Interestingly enough there is a news article on the BBC about a new species, Australopithecus sediba. that has been discovered. It is older than Homo Habilus which was formerly considered the oldest human precursor, and has many features that are more like humans than Homo Habilis.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14824435
    So new discoveries regarding the evolutionary tree are being made.

  • Ed Forbes

    Willard #284:  “A falsificationist (perhaps Ed Forbes) would say something like that. Falsifiability is a problematic notion in epistemology.  In my opinion, holism bests it:”
    .
    Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion can be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment. That something is “falsifiable” does not mean it is false; rather, that if it is false, then some observation or experiment will produce a reproducible result that is in conflict with it.
    .
    Confirmation holism, also called epistemological holism is the claim that a single scientific theory cannot be tested in isolation; a test of one theory always depends on other theories and hypotheses.
    .
    Again, my engineering background is such that if observation or experiment is in conflict with theory, I take a long hard look at both the observation and the theory. Both cannot be correct if in conflict.
    So yes, I would consider myself a “falsificationist” if the above is what Willard meant. Though I do not think that Falsifiability and Holism are really in that much conflict.
     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Eric Adler, I’m taking a hiatus from not responding to you for this one topic because I know of no other way to make this clear.

    First, you are being disingenuous.  I never claimed Tiljander mattered for the Kaufmann paper, so your entire comment is misleading.  Whether or not “the removal of Tiljander [is] totally inconsequential” has no bearing on the issue of whether or not Tiljander was included in the paper.  Other things which have no bearing on said issue are the inclusion of Yamal in the paper, the invalid calibration used by the paper, the upside-down use of other series in the paper, and a number of other errors.  I said the Kaufmann included Tiljander, and it did.  That’s all there is to it.

    Second, you are lying.  The Kaufmann paper does not do what you say it does.  There is no graph in it which shows the influence of the Tiljander series being removed.  The word “Tiljander” is never even mentioned in the Kaufmann paper.  The paper is four pages long, and it has four figures.  There is no way you could possibly have looked at those four figures and came up with the claim you made, so the most favorable conclusion I can come up with is you’re lying.

    You are completely and utterly untrustworthy when it comes to what science actually says.

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    @290
    You can’t find the graph in the original paper. It is in the correction that Kaufman published. The red is the corrected and the black is the original. It doesn’t change the graph in any essential way.
    http://www.arcus.org/synthesis2k/synthesis/Correction_and_Clarification.pdf
     

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    In other words Eric Adler, you lied, and nothing you say about science should be trusted.  If you had somehow just made an idiotic mistake, confusing a paper with it’s corrigendum, you could admit it your error, and your credibility wouldn’t be too diminished (assuming you have any left at this point).  Instead, you’ve just made another error.  Here is how this exchange has progressed:

    Stu said what happens if you remove Tiljander (from Mann 2008).  You responded by saying you “still” get a hockey stick while indirectly referencing a paper which used Tiljander.  This was nonsensical, and it was an a misrepresentation.  When I pointed out the fact Kaufmann’s paper used Tiljander, you said “BS,” and you claimed it showed a graph with and without Tiljander.  This was flagrantly untrue.

    You now claim a graph in which “curves with and without the Tijander sediments are shown” in a corrigendum to Kaufmann’s paper (without retracting your previous claim).  This is yet another misrepresentation.  Amazingly, you even provide a link to the evidence which doesn’t show what you claim it shows.  From the caption of the figure you reference:

    Of the 23 previously published proxy temperature records included in the synthesis, 4 were corrected to conform to the interpretations of the original authors…

    That’s right.  The Tiljander series were not removed.  Their interpretation was corrected.  Your claim the graph shows “curves with and without the Tijander sediments” is false.  It is so obviously false all one needs to do to know such is read the caption of a figure.

    You have repeatedly stated as fact things which are obviously untrue.  I’ve accused you of lying because the sheer amount of idiocy which would otherwise be required to explain your actions is dumbfounding.  Whether I am correct or simply being too generous, you have clearly shown you cannot be trusted in regards to what science says.  Your flagrant fabrications and misrepresentations are too obvious and severe for me to read your comments any longer, and I imagine most people approaching this exchange with an open mind will feel similarly.

    As a final note, for anyone still reading this, nobody has claimed the inclusion of Tiljander in Kaufmann’s paper was particularly relevant to its conclusions.  This is mostly because Kaufmann truncated the Tiljander series prior to when they were corrupted by anthropogenic influence.  It was a mistake to include Tiljander upside-down (the upside-down part is what has always been the issue, not just the inclusion), and it was especially relevant as the same mistake mattered much more in Mann 2008, but it was not some fatal flaw for the paper.

    That said, the fact one mistake wasn’t a fatal flaw in no way means the paper was right.  There were multiple issues with the paper, at least several of which were far more damning.  If you want more information about the subject, I recommend searching for Kaufmann on ClimateAudit as there are a number of good pieces about the paper on that site.  It never examined the paper as fully as it could have (one person can only cover so many subjects, and other things came up), but it is does give a lot of insight into the paper.

    Of course, some people would dismiss what is said on that site out-of-hand due to some internal bias against ClimateAudit,  If that happens, ask yourself this.  What does that say about their level of trustworthiness?

  • Eric Adler

    Brandon Sch.
    If Kaufman included the corrected proxies so much the better.  The Hockey Stick does arise out of the corrected version.
    Climate Audit did gripe about the Yamal tress, but the criticism didn’t stick.
    You are raising dust in your usual fashion.

     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Eric,

    You might be interested in this thread:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/climate-science-scientific-method-skeptics-not/

    It’s a bit long, but it might provide a good overview of where you are heading. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Eric,

    You could start here:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/climate-science-scientific-method-skeptics-not/#comment-13698

    I’m afraid you’re falling for the Tiljander trap. 

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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