April 8th, 2015
Inference to the Best Explanation Revisited (Our Method of Inquiry)
- When using certain theoretical terms, as in the inference to quarks, the epistemic process cannot restrict explanations to only natural or empirical explanations. If one attempts to strip science of all metaphysical import then material causation is the only sufficient form of scientific explanation. However, this has an unnecessary restriction on science and is incongruent with one’s epistemology (if it is to be robust). The robust epistemology certainly accounts for inferential explanations that are not necessarily required to be material. The epistemic methodology may be identical to a non-scientific context but when this methodology is applied in a scientific context then the explanation is ruled out a priori with no [apparent] justification (hence the removal of efficient and final causation from science). Thus, scientific explanations must not necessarily be material explanations. Remember, by using inferential explanations such as quarks and protons we observer their effects and infer as to what the best antecedent causal explanation may be. It’s an issue over the identity of what antecedent causes could be. (In a normal epistemic process the antecedent may be agency).
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December 10th, 2013
After this I feel a huge sigh of relief coming… A relief that science hasn’t been hijacked by the one-track minded aristocrats of scholarship who only want to monologue. Remember what happened to Einstein and Higgs’ first major papers that led to amazing theories and confirmations? Oh, yeah…
Source: The Guardian
Leading academic journals are distorting the scientific process and represent a “tyranny” that must be broken, according to a Nobel prize winner who has declared a boycott on the publications.
Randy Schekman, a US biologist who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine this year and receives his prize in Stockholm on Tuesday, said his lab would no longer send research papers to the top-tier journals, Nature, Cell and Science.
Schekman said pressure to publish in “luxury” journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash.
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July 17th, 2013
Original post by Casey Luskin.
On June 19, the day after Darwin’s Doubt was first available for purchase, Nick Matzke published a 9400-word “review” of the book in which it appears that he tried to anticipate many of Stephen Meyer’s arguments. Unfortunately, he often either guessed wrong as to what Meyer would say or — assuming he actually read the book as he claims — misread many of Meyer’s specific claims. As I showed in a previous response to Matzke, Matzke repeatedly misquoted Meyer, at one point claiming he referred to the Cambrian explosion as “instantaneous,” when Meyer nowhere makes that claim. Indeed, Matzke faulted Meyer for not recognizing that the Cambrian explosion “was not really ‘instantaneous’ nor particularly ‘sudden.'”
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July 1st, 2013
When evaluating population drift/evolution one must keep in mind a pattern/process distinction.
- To be explained: A pattern of a sequence of ancestors to present (a phylogenetic sequence)
- Explanation: High random mutation rates + high selection coefficients –> Incremental genetic change over time (“evolution”)
We now know that the majority of anatomical changes unique to fully aquatic cetaceans (Pelagiceti) appeared during just a few million years.
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April 27th, 2013
The following is the abstract from a recent paper (“Life Before Earth,” 28 March 2013) published in arXiv by Alexei A. Sharov, Ph.D. (Staff Scientist, Laboratory of Genetics) and Richard Gordon, Ph.D. (Theoretical Biologist, Embryogenesis Center). What’s quite startling and significant about this paper is that it compares to the complexity found in biology and compares it to Moore’s Law, which is a computer/computational complexity. What’s important is not the mere issue of complexity but the specific coding elements required for specific function in conjunction with complexity. Thus, the information content is very complex, robust, and specified.
An extrapolation of the genetic complexity of organisms to earlier times suggests that life began before the Earth was formed. Life may have started from systems with single heritable elements that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide. The genetic complexity, roughly measured by the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides, is expected to have grown exponentially due to several positive feedback factors: (1) gene cooperation, (2) duplication of genes with their subsequent specialization (e.g., via expanding differentiation trees in multicellular organisms), and (3) emergence of novel functional niches associated with existing genes. Linear regression of genetic complexity (on a log scale) extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life = 9.7 ± 2.5 billion years ago.
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April 26th, 2013
Any type of efficient causality is typically associated with being an unscientific explanation—explanations nonetheless but unscientific. It is believed that if biology, chemistry, physics, etc. rested explanations in final causation then it would be a science stopper. This is where the distinction between Duhemian science and Augustinian science must be made. I would deny the use of Duhemian science. This method, or philosophy, has a goal of stripping science from all metaphysical imports. Augustinian science is open to metaphysical presuppositions with science. Francis Bacon and Descartes used and allowed for formal and final causation in scientific explanation. Newton entered science and postulated that the universe was entirely mechanistic, which was a denial of Baconian and Cartesian science (at least their versions of scientific explanation) but offered no explanation for the appearance of final causation and efficient causation. Darwin came along and provided a plausible material mechanism for the appearance of final and efficient causation (at least for the special science of biology).
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March 16th, 2013
Reblogged from Jonathan M. at Evolution News and Views…
I’ve been reading the recently published book Microbes and Evolution: The World that Darwin Never Saw, which combines my two primary areas of interest: microbiology and evolution. Chapter 38 of the book is written by Kelly Hughes and David Blair of the University of Utah, two of the world’s leading experts on bacterial flagellar assembly. Having followed the work of Kelly Hughes and his colleagues for a few years, I hold their work in the highest regard. I myself have a deep fascination with the subject of bacterial gene expression. I was intrigued, therefore, when I discovered the title of Hughes and Blair’s chapter: “Irreducible Complexity? Not!”
Following a very basic overview of flagellar structure and function (also described in my own detailed review of the subject), Hughes and Blair ask, “Is the flagellum irreducibly complex, or just complex?” They write,
It is clear that the flagellum is a complex structure and that its assembly and operation depend upon many interdependent components and processes. This complexity has been suggested to pose problems for the theory of evolution; specifically, it has been suggested that the ancestral flagellum could not have provided a significant advantage unless all of the parts were generated simultaneously. Hence, the flagellum has been described as “irreducibly complex,” implying that it is impossible or at least very difficult to envision a much simpler, but still useful, ancestral form that would have been the raw material for evolution.
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November 26th, 2012
This is a call for papers to be submitted to me for online publication with Sententias. I’m looking for about ten papers. Please include an abstract and Turabian format. The paper can be a minimum of 4 pages but there’s not maximal limit. I will compile the papers and put them in the first volume and issue of the Sententias Journal (Free online PDF file). This is just to kickstart more activity for Sententias to take part in. Depending on the feedback and participation we can make this a peer-reviewed process so we can have some respectable esteem. But, for now, we need to start modestly. Theists, atheists, Christians, evolutionists, and intelligent design proponents are all welcome. Here are a few suggested options:
- What’s a scientific theory?
- What’s a scientific explanation?
- Breaking down a particular interpretation of quantum physics.
- Brak down a model of cosmological origins.
- Argue for Darwinism
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August 3rd, 2012
Darwinism is a multipart theory. Some parts may be right, others may be wrong. It’s important to distinguish what is right and what is wrong.
- Common descent (interesting, but trivial)
- Natural selection (interesting, but trivial)
- Random mutation
- The critical claim of Darwinism is the sufficiency of random mutation
The problem of rugged evolutionary fitness landscape
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April 22nd, 2012
Original post by BBC Science & Technology.
Researchers have succeeded in mimicking the chemistry of life in synthetic versions of DNA and RNA molecules. The work shows that DNA and its chemical cousin RNA are not unique in their ability to encode information and to pass it on through heredity. The work, reported in Science, is promising for future “synthetic biology” and biotechnology efforts. It also hints at the idea that if life exists elsewhere, it could be bound by evolution but not by similar chemistry.
In fact, one reason to mimic the functions of DNA and RNA – which helps cells to manufacture proteins – is to determine how they came about at the dawn of life on Earth; many scientists believe that RNA arose first but was preceded by a simpler molecule that performed the same function.
However, it has remained unclear if any other molecule can participate in the same unzipping and copying processes that give DNA and RNA their ability to pass on the information they carry in the sequences of their nucleobases – the five chemical group “letters” from which the the two molecules’ genetic information is composed.
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