Old 05-24-2008, 09:26 AM   #1
Philboid Studge
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Science/Policy Thread

I'm not a huge fan of Daily Kos, but there is one regular poster there who keeps up with science and policy issues.

Often in Merkinland, religion rears its ugly head (at the expense of science and other forms of crude intelligence).

I launch as a thread in case anybody else follows science and policy as religiously as I do. Lotsa discussion fodder here.

Note in the current top post Darksyde mentions Dawkins, the recent supernova observation, purdy pictures of "a hellish sunrise on an exosolar planet orbiting red dwarf star Gliese 876" and the politicization of the EPA.

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Old 05-24-2008, 02:18 PM   #2
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Perhaps Obama will surprise us, but ultimately I feel that the weakness in our Democracy lies in the advantage that politicians gain by undermining the knowledge of their constituents. How much easier we are to lead without that troublesome critical thinking.

There must be some way to resolve their conflict of interest, but I don't know what it is. If only I was better educated.
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:14 AM   #3
Philboid Studge
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Darksyde has a handy post today for whenever the YEC nose-droolers start yapping about transitional fossils. (Also has links to National Geographic 'Morphed' series.)

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Old 02-05-2009, 02:10 PM   #4
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Umm,aren't all living things "transitional",as evolution never stops? Does that not mean that ALL fossils are "transitional"?


PLUS: The base of the creationist argument seems to be a logical fallacy,also used by some hard atheists :.IE that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Imo It is not; no evidence implies a thing does not exist.It does not permit a valid inference.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:03 PM   #5
nkb
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Quote:
BOF wrote View Post
Umm,aren't all living things "transitional",as evolution never stops? Does that not mean that ALL fossils are "transitional"?
That's the entire point that creationists are missing. We are not some ultimate evolved being, as theists like to think. Yes, if we don't die out, we will be another transitional lifeform to the next stage of evolution.

Quote:
BOF wrote View Post
PLUS: The base of the creationist argument seems to be a logical fallacy,also used by some hard atheists :.IE that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Imo It is not; no evidence implies a thing does not exist.It does not permit a valid inference.
Except that in biology, and specifically evolutionary biology, they have been able to hypothesize what a "transitional" fossil would look like, and what features it should have, and, lo and behold, at some later time, a very similar fossil is found.
That is the scientific method at work: making predictions based on evidence, and either finding the evidence to support it, or dropping/altering the hypothesis/theory.

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
George Bernard Shaw
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:09 AM   #6
Philboid Studge
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Quote:
BOF wrote View Post
@philpot

Umm,aren't all living things "transitional",as evolution never stops? Does that not mean that ALL fossils are "transitional"?
Yes, but...

It's true that according to the theory, all organisms are in transition; or maybe it's better to say all populations of organisms are in transition.

But when we speak of transitional fossils, we are talking about the geologic record. If ALL fossils were transitional as you say, why can't we literally see the smooth transition from one species to another? The God-blubberers insist that we should see the fully panoply and spectra of life written in the rocks; since we don't, theeRry baD.

Darwin was well aware of this "shortcoming":

Quote:
Chucky D wrote
But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.
In the first place, it should always be borne in mind what sort of intermediate forms must, on the theory, have formerly existed. I have found it difficult, when looking at any two species, to avoid picturing to myself forms directly intermediate between them. But this is a wholly false view; we should always look for forms intermediate between each species and a common but unknown progenitor; and the progenitor will generally have differed in some respects from all its modified descendants.
Of course we have a much bigger fossil record now, and I think every new fossil discovery illustrates transition, bit by bit. Some are more obvious than others.

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Old 02-07-2009, 10:09 AM   #7
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All children are transitional regarding height. It's only when we pick two data points - height at 5 and 10 - that we can define anything inbetween as transitional.

Philboid's right. So's Darwin.

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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