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Friday, October 18, 2013

The Economist notices bad science

I look forward to all of the science fetishists who have shrieked with outrage every time I pointed out the uncomfortable fact of the increasing departure of scientistry from scientody finally realizing, with all due horror, that I was correct about modern professional science, all along as the mainstream media begins to repeat my previous criticisms. Science has gone wrong, badly wrong. And it has done so by abandoning the method that gave it its reputation.
A simple idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.

But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties....

One reason is the competitiveness of science. In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control. The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post. Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead.
As in the case of university degrees, scientistry has been badly diluted. Scientists of a wide variety of disciplines are cashing in on the reputations of physicists from more than sixty years ago.  The science of Bohr and Feynman is simply not the pseudo-science of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.

This is not a surprise. I've been reading Kuhn's landmark Structure of Scientific Revolutions and it is eminently clear that we are rapidly approaching a crisis in biology, the sort of crisis that has historically led to new scientific paradigms. It may take a long time for the crisis to resolve itself, but this Second Crisis of Darwin should be sufficient to put the theory of evolution by natural selection in the dustbin of scientific history with phlogiston, heliocentrism, and other erstwhile scientific "facts". Instead of salvaging Darwinian theory through a synthesis, the continued refinement of Mendelian genetics will destroy it once and for all.

And it's not a coincidence that the growing awareness of bad science is occurring as the global warming debacle continues to unravel. Those who attacked the skeptics of global warming and staked science's reputation on the idea that Man was cooking the earth are directly responsible for the public's increasing dismissal of scientific authority.

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197 Comments:

Anonymous VryeDenker October 18, 2013 7:56 AM  

I learned Mendelian Genetics in Grad 9. I feel so smart right now.

Anonymous Papapete October 18, 2013 7:57 AM  

The corollary is that even good science is rejected if it doesn't fit with preconceived "knowledge" because scientists know on some level that much of what is out there Is falsified. Thus bad research chokes out good research.

Anonymous VryeDenker October 18, 2013 8:04 AM  

I would honestly like to know from one of the actual scientists that comment here, how Medel's theory contradicts Darwin.

Anonymous Anonymous October 18, 2013 8:09 AM  

old white guy says..... I would suggest that computer models make for very lazy scientific efforts.

Anonymous Spoos in August October 18, 2013 8:26 AM  

Eukaryotes, even many of the ones that reproduce asexually, produce most of their gentic and phenotypic variety by homologous recombination, whereas spontaneous mutations are very rare, because, especially for the multicellular guys, it's germline über alles.

Some diseases, resulting from a single point mutation, are exceedingly rare, e.g. Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Others, which can be caused by multiple mutations, are more common.

Most of the differences between species, especially closely related ones, are chromosomal, rather than genotypic. Duplication of genes followed by neofunctionalization is another source of differences between species.

I'm not really seeing the incompatibility with evolution by natural selection, so maybe Vox could offer some clarification?

Anonymous daddynichol October 18, 2013 8:26 AM  

Here we go on a rocket thread!

Anonymous MrGreenMan October 18, 2013 8:27 AM  

Grad school rule from the graduate director: More than 30 minutes spent reviewing somebody else's paper as a referee is too much time. Let the editor worry about ensuring the level of quality of his own journal.

Advice on organizing a conference and therefore acting as an editor for the papers: Get good reviewers who will ensure the quality of the papers presented.

Overall rule: So long as the people in charge agree with you politically, and it's the same cabal of hard leftists who came in the late 60s and early 70s and will not die soon enough, you will do fine. EXtra points if you can be further to their left.

Anonymous Anonymous October 18, 2013 8:41 AM  

Since most of what passes for science is irrelevant to me, I don't really care. The medical research fraud is particularly troubling since they are gouging the taxpayers for research grants through the CDC and then will gouge the taxpayers some more for treatments that don't work, paid for by medicare, medicade, VA, and now Obamacare.

But as for which cataclysmic even killed the dinosaurs, the "Mean Girls" explanation is just as good as any.

... And on the 8th day, God created the Remington bolt action rifle, so man could kill the dinosaurs... and the homosexuals

--Hale

Anonymous p-dawg October 18, 2013 8:48 AM  

@newrebeluniv: I assume you also wish to put adulterers, Sabbath-breakers, practitioners of witchcraft (anyone who celebrates Halloween, for example), and other Scriptural capital offenders to death with your bolt-action rifle also, eh? I guess you must be a Levite.

Anonymous The Great Martini October 18, 2013 8:56 AM  

The science of 60 years ago was mostly either academic or government science. The science of today is industrialized and privatized science that is often impelled by the rush to commercialization. So I'm not all that surprised that the rate of bogus science has risen the more vested it has become with market interests. It's sort of the same as difference between honest journalism and advertising and marketing.

Anonymous Anonymous October 18, 2013 8:57 AM  

@P-dawg. If you didn't get the reference, just go to Google and look it up.

--Hale

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 8:57 AM  

Science died the day they decided that researching the past and compiling cherry picked results was the same thing as a double-blind experiment.

Blogger finndistan October 18, 2013 8:58 AM  

6 out of 53 cancer studies could be repeated.

How many people are there swearing by
Heavy doses of vitamin B
Heavy doses of vitamin C
Hemp oil
Ketogenic diet
Cottage cheese and flax-seed oil diet
colloidal silver
Ozone

And others that I forgot now that these methods have cured their cancers, most often cancers that were given the terminal stamp.

how many of these studies are allowed to be made, let alone repeat?

All it would take is the legalizing of hemp production, say for oil making, and few willing patients who can be found in thousands but do not want to spend their last year on earth in prison for trying to find a cure.

when one goes into this, the rabbit hole runs very very deep.

Anonymous Golf Pro October 18, 2013 8:59 AM  

"it is eminently clear that we are rapidly approaching a crisis in biology, the sort of crisis that has historically led to new scientific paradigms. It may take a long time for the crisis to resolve itself, but this Second Crisis of Darwin should be sufficient to put the theory of evolution by natural selection in the dustbin of scientific history...Instead of salvaging Darwinian theory through a synthesis, the continued refinement of Mendelian genetics will destroy it once and for all."

You are too late to the party, and that surprises me. Mendelian Genetics and Evolution by natural selection have have long ago been fused into a synthesis to form the current and practically unchallenged understanding of species development.

There's no crisis in this arena and one things is most certainly true: Mendelian Genetics has no chance of replacing the current synthesis theory that explains evolution by natural selection.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 9:00 AM  

"... And on the 8th day, God created the Remington bolt action rifle, so man could kill the dinosaurs... and the homosexuals"

Makes sense though... you're not gonna hit anything smaller than a brontosaurus with that off-brand junk.

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 9:05 AM  

> The science of today is industrialized and privatized science that is often impelled by the rush to commercialization.

Yes, climatology is so well industrialized and privatized, isn't it?

> Mendelian Genetics has no chance of replacing the current synthesis theory that explains evolution by natural selection.

Except for the fact that it does nothing of the kind, of course.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 9:05 AM  

"You are too late to the party, and that surprises me. Mendelian Genetics and Evolution by natural selection have have long ago been fused into a synthesis to form the current and practically unchallenged understanding of species development."

Fish.

Barrel.

Now we're just waiting for the bang.

Anonymous Golf Pro October 18, 2013 9:11 AM  

" Mendelian Genetics has no chance of replacing the current synthesis theory that explains evolution by natural selection.

Except for the fact that it does nothing of the kind, of course."

Here you go James, it's fairly short but also a succinct explanation of the current synthesis of views that make up the current dominant view of modern biological theory that includes not only natural selection but also Mendelian genetics.

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother October 18, 2013 9:13 AM  

Homosexuals are latent totalitarians. Observe the take no prisoners, totalitarian approach being used on people who disagree and refuse to participate in gay weddings.

Anonymous Anonymous October 18, 2013 9:14 AM  

Makes sense though... you're not gonna hit anything smaller than a brontosaurus with that off-brand junk.

Volley fire?

--Hale

Anonymous Tex October 18, 2013 9:15 AM  

"The science of 60 years ago was mostly either academic or government science. The science of today is industrialized and privatized science that is often impelled by the rush to commercialization."

Got any proof to back this up??

Anonymous Tex October 18, 2013 9:16 AM  

"There's no crisis in this arena and one things is most certainly true"

Most certainly? What about kinda sorta maybe, you hedging coward?

Anonymous Pro Golf October 18, 2013 9:17 AM  

But, but... Neil deGrasse Tyson!

Anonymous DrTorch October 18, 2013 9:28 AM  

I found it interesting that The Economist actually avoided CAGW. My thought is that this is strategic. They'll start taking the high road re: science, quietly separating themselves from that debacle.

Then when the hypothesis has undeniably been demonstrated to contradict science, they'll gut it along w/ everyone else.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 9:30 AM  

You are too late to the party, and that surprises me. Mendelian Genetics and Evolution by natural selection have have long ago been fused into a synthesis to form the current and practically unchallenged understanding of species development.

You obviously didn't understand what you read. Mendelian genetics was the first Crisis of Darwin. The Neo-Darwinian Synthesis to which you refer was the result. A better understanding of genetics and species development is rapidly leading to the ongoing second crisis, which will eliminate natural selection from the biological sciences entirely.

Since you clearly haven't read Kuhn, you don't even know what is meant by a crisis or how well Kuhn's description of one fits the present state of the Neo-Darwinian paradigm. And yet, you foolishly don't permit your ignorance to prevent you from commenting anyhow.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 October 18, 2013 9:34 AM  

What we are seeing with the collapse of science is God thwarting the plans of the NWO elites. Many of them are hinging on biotechnology to make them gods.

How amusing it will be when we the living pull the plug on them once their consciousness is transported into a mega-server of some kind.

Anonymous Stilicho October 18, 2013 9:35 AM  

The science of 60 years ago was mostly either academic or government science. The science of today is industrialized and privatized science

Proof required, including funding sources.

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother October 18, 2013 9:39 AM  

Does this remind anyone of the futile arm waving and defeat of everyone who has bloodied his head against the historicity of The Bible?

Hundreds of poor atheist archaelogists admitting defeat against the spotless historical record of the Word of God.

Sciencs will lay low the Darwinians.

Anonymous Ten41 October 18, 2013 9:42 AM  

Golf Pro
...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis


I mean how cool is this? We are descended from slime mold, and cousins with fungi.

I will never stomp the snot out of those little puffball mushrooms again.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni October 18, 2013 9:42 AM  

Once again, the lack of experimental evidence condemns warmism to witchcraft status.

Oh, and Vox, if you're going to read Kuhn, I would consult David Stove (Four Modern Irrationalists, say) as a healthy purgative. Not that everything Kuhn said was wrong, of course. But he does not believe in scientific progress. Just sayin'.

Blogger tz October 18, 2013 9:43 AM  

The MSM doesn't notice the elephant in the room until it is so big it blocks the exits.

Evolution is down to the Monk v.s. the Monkey. There were no "gradual changes" or new species of peas. My bet is on the Monk, but because evolution is a myth about ancient happenings we can't see, many will still believe in the tree when the leaves were shown to be christmas ornaments.

Deism might make a comeback, and the fall of antibiotics might cause a return to Victorian sexual practice in any case. The atheists don't seem to think the diseases evolve or that science can always stay ahead.

Anonymous Sensei October 18, 2013 9:43 AM  

"There's no crisis in this arena and one things is most certainly true: Mendelian Genetics has no chance of replacing the current synthesis theory that explains evolution by natural selection."

Haha, I am now 100% certain that Mendelian genetics will replace it. I am not totally well informed on the theory but I don't have to be, in this case a simple heuristic is all that is necessary..

Blogger tz October 18, 2013 9:47 AM  

There is also engineering - that is software and pharma and medicine - applied biology. It does include some science, but the discovery aspect is different. Moré targeted. And the FDA will issue recalls and you can be sued if enough are killed (other than vaccines).

Anonymous 691 October 18, 2013 9:49 AM  

I don't see how Kuhn's ideas have any resonance with your own. You are talking about a very different sort of crisis in science than he is. Kuhn is focused on conceptual inadequacy, where the intellectual framework can no longer cope with empirical observations. Copernicus's theory of cycles and epicycles couldn't account for increasingly accurate observations of planetary motion without becoming extremely complicated and computationally intractable.

You talk instead about how corruption, dishonesty and politics affect the reliability of the evidence on which we must build theories. It's more analogous to the astronomers getting drunk and getting laid instead of watching the stars at night and then quickly fabricating the data while hungover the next morning.

This clearly undermines science, but in a drastically different way.

Anonymous Peter Garstig October 18, 2013 9:54 AM  

Kuhn is focused on conceptual inadequacy, where the intellectual framework can no longer cope with empirical observations.

That's exactly what is happening in modern science.

Anonymous Peter Garstig October 18, 2013 9:55 AM  

To know what I mean: read the latest IPCC report.

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother October 18, 2013 9:56 AM  

691,

You mean Ptolemy's theories of cycles and epicycles, right?

Anonymous Stilicho October 18, 2013 9:56 AM  

691, when much of the intellectual framework is based upon political ideology, the conceptual inadequacy will be there.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 9:59 AM  

I don't see how Kuhn's ideas have any resonance with your own. You are talking about a very different sort of crisis in science than he is.

No, I'm talking about both. And I very much doubt they are unrelated. I suspect scientists increasingly turn to manufactured non-science in part because of the conceptual inadequacies. What are biologists to do with their evolutionary science? Keep trying to prove it and explaining away each new "unanticipated" revelation as it appears? Or write a few rent-seeking papers on how global warming will affect natural selection that the UN will happily fund?

Anonymous p-dawg October 18, 2013 10:00 AM  

@newrebeluniv: I don't get references. I wasn't homeschooled.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 10:02 AM  

"Kuhn is focused on conceptual inadequacy, where the intellectual framework can no longer cope with empirical observations."

/facepalm

You mean like... when people are observing something... then drawing false conclusions because they misinterpret the observation through the colored lens of false assumptions? Then they don't get corrected because the system in place to correct them doesn't actually function?

Yeah. That has nothing to do with biology today at all.

Anonymous Matt Walker October 18, 2013 10:11 AM  

You're going to end up looking pretty stupid throwing solid stuff like evolution in with garbage like climate modelling.

What exactly is the basis for your belief that there's no such thing as mutation, and that animals with more surviving offspring don't make up a larger percentage of the next generation? Please give examples.

It's hard to budge a theory with predictive value, when it's entirely consistent with everything we know about real hard stuff like physics and chemistry, and everything we've ever observed about life, and invariably turns out to be consistent with everything new that we observe. For example: chimps, gorillas, and people were thought to be very closely related. The DNA bears that out. It shouldn't take more math than you have to understand how insanely ludicrous it is to call that a coincidence.

When biologists are wrong about details, they change their minds. What do you do? In fields where you're competent, you change your mind. You're not competent in biology.

Anonymous Matt Walker October 18, 2013 10:21 AM  

Seriously: given that mutation happens and selection happens (do all animals have the same number of surviving offspring?), explain how evolution could possibly NOT happen.

You can't. Drop that one. It's a loser. Learn enough biology to finally understand what you're trying to refute, and you'll find it's not refutable.

You sound like a game denialist on this one. If you understood it, you'd recognize that it's just the way things are. Try arguing with a game denialist. They don't WANT to understand. This really p****s me off about you, Vox. Not that you have any reason to care about me being p-o'd.

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother October 18, 2013 10:23 AM  

Matt Walker,

Is this your first time reading this blog?

Anonymous Lurker October 18, 2013 10:25 AM  

Yay! One of THOSE threads...

Excited to read 200+ comments of Tad/Golf Pro/Ann Morgan poop.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 18, 2013 10:26 AM  

Kuhn is focused on conceptual inadequacy, where the intellectual framework can no longer cope with empirical observations.

Ha ha ha. Kuhn was a wanker

You mean Ptolemy's theories of cycles and epicycles, right?

Both Ptolemy and Copernicus had cycles and epicycles. Copernicus' were more epic, if anything, and both were wrong.

Brahe and Kepler had the right idea and Kuhn was too dumb to actually understand the science.

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 10:30 AM  

A simple idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”.

Ridiculous. Science works on the principle "don't trust, and falsify".

It is peer review that should operate on "trust, but verify". But it often doesn't.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 18, 2013 10:31 AM  

Seriously: given that mutation happens and selection happens (do all animals have the same number of surviving offspring?), explain how evolution could possibly NOT happen.

You realize that the vast majority of mutations are deleterious, I take it?

So, tell me, do we need a mutation to explain the difference in the average IQ of SS Africans and Europeans? Could we not explain it by some of the likely thousands of genes involved in the brain going to fixation in the low-IQ variant (because it reduces brain size and the cost of a large brain in environments where such is not needed) and going to fixation in the high-IQ variants in environments were that extra IQ is absolutely needed?

Just what do you consider a mutation as well? Is the fusion of Chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B that seems to have produced human chromosome 2 a mutation?

Anonymous Huckleberry - est. 1977 October 18, 2013 10:34 AM  

Learn enough biology to finally understand what you're trying to refute, and you'll find it's not refutable

In the infamous spirit of Spinal Tap, this one's about to go to 11...

Anonymous Sir_Chancealot October 18, 2013 10:45 AM  

There is a difference between macro and micro evolution (never mind the other types of evolution, i.e., stellar.)

Newsflash Darwinists... men knew how to breed animals to obtain the results they wanted LONG before Darwin and Mendeleev was around. Yes, we can breed animals with bigger beaks, wangs, or tails (micro-evolution), but no one in the entire history of mankind has ever seen a worm give birth (so to speak) to a beetle. (macro evolution)

An honest scientist might conclude "You know, it's almost as if life was designed to change as the environment changes".

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 October 18, 2013 10:45 AM  

Simple way to disprove evolution: saltwater crocodile.

What do I mean? Well, apparently the saltwater crocodile has been around for millions of years, if archeological records are accurate. And it has, for all intents and purposes, remained the same.

If evolution were true, shouldn't the saltwater crocodile have become better than just a simple apex predator? I mean, shouldn't it have, in all those years of its existence, mutated into something better?

But it hasn't. It has remained static and while I am sure biologists have an explanation for this, it flies in the face of what I understand evolution to be. I mean, that is what I was taught in government skools. And they're very good at teaching science, right?

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 10:47 AM  

> "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis

Yeah, I'm going to take a Wikipedia article on advanced scientific theory.

Wikipedia is good for basic factual information, and a summary of current opinion. It's not for understanding theories in depth.

I'm an engineer, Golf Pro. I understand how science works and doesn't work. The current theory doesn't explain observed history and has no predictive value. Genetics does. The theory that works will eventually supplant the theory that doesn't.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 10:50 AM  

given that mutation happens and selection happens (do all animals have the same number of surviving offspring?), explain how evolution could possibly NOT happen.

Very easily. First, consider the very high improbability that a mutation is not only beneficial, but happens to convey a statistically significant reproductive advantage over all the other reproductive rivals. Second, recall that most reproductive selection is not necessarily natural selection. Can you even say what percentage of rabbit reproduction is determined by the environment rather than by whatever rabbits find hot?

Natural selection is a philosophical premise, not an experimentally established scientific principle. It is largely tautological, and to the extent it isn't, is trivial.

And finally, it is insane to claim that the process of species development is settled when scientists can't even tell what a species is.

Anonymous Stickwick October 18, 2013 10:55 AM  

Brahe and Kepler had the right idea ...

What was the right idea? Brahe's model was still geocentric.

Anonymous BluntForceTrauma October 18, 2013 10:56 AM  

Just finished reading "Noble Savages" by Chagnon, subtitled "My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes: The Yanomamo and the Anthropologists." It details, from an insider, exactly the same politically-motivated and belief-driven academic corruptions in the field of anthropology that we find in global warming. Not to mention the very real campaigns of professional and personal destruction.

Yes, indeed, much of modern science is broken. As usual, as Vox points out, it is only "engineering" that is left to point out what is bunk and what is fact.

Anonymous jay October 18, 2013 10:59 AM  

What do you have to say about science creating life?

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 10:59 AM  

Can you even say what percentage of rabbit reproduction is determined by the environment rather than by whatever rabbits find hot?

We're informed that rabbits find tolerance and safe spaces very hot.

Anonymous Leatherwing October 18, 2013 10:59 AM  

Can you even say what percentage of rabbit reproduction is determined by the environment rather than by whatever rabbits find hot?
I think we all know that rabbits like bearded men in dresses.

Was reading this over at slashdot, and see the same argument WRT evolution over here. So I had a thought. Evolution starts with a basic assumption - that survival is hard and only the fittest can do it (and produce surviving offspring). But what if survival is the norm. How does that affect the rest of the assumptions?

Not a well thought out idea, it just popped into my head.

Anonymous damntull October 18, 2013 11:14 AM  

Golf Pro loves to get spanked. He comes to this blog daily for his verbal spanking. I'm sure he gets his real spankings on a regular basis, too.

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 11:20 AM  

But what if survival is the norm. How does that affect the rest of the assumptions?

R/k selection

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 11:28 AM  

What do you have to say about science creating life?

You mean engineers tinkering with life?

Pretty cool I guess.

Anonymous jay October 18, 2013 11:30 AM  

"You mean engineers tinkering with life?"

Are you saying science did NOT create life then? That scientists are liars?

Anonymous DrTorch October 18, 2013 11:36 AM  

Are you saying science did NOT create life then? That scientists are liars?


Standard troll straw man response.

But for the record, scientists have been known to lie.

Anonymous Matthew October 18, 2013 11:38 AM  

Stickwick: "What was the right idea? Brahe's model was still geocentric."

It was geo-heliocentric: the sun orbits the earth, and all the other planets orbit the sun. As Standout SF Author Michael Flynn put it: "There is plenty of evidence that heliocentrism might be true; but all of that evidence would apply just as well if the Tychonic model were true. This is because the two models are mathematically equivalent, differing only in their respective inertial reference frames."

Given the lack of detectable parallax in the fixed stars and the "fact" that stars had disks (a problem in optics not discovered until much later), the Tychonic system fit the known evidence better than any other system.

Anonymous kh123 October 18, 2013 11:41 AM  

"neofunctionalization"

The bauplan of deities from the Western Delta (G. metaphysicus, for example) tend to be aphynotypic.

Blogger Booch Paradise October 18, 2013 11:43 AM  

"Are you saying science did NOT create life then?"
Of course not. Science by definition can only create theoretical models.

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 11:50 AM  

> http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

"researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute inserted artificial genetic material — chemically printed, synthesized and assembled — into cells that were then able to grow naturally"

Artificial DNA that requires an already living cell to replicate is hardly "life" as anyone would normally define it.

Blogger LibertyPortraits October 18, 2013 11:50 AM  

So, a misallocation of resources into science has created a research bubble that is soon to burst.

Anonymous Heh October 18, 2013 11:55 AM  

What do you have to say about science creating life?

It will inevitably go nuts and attack its creator.

Anonymous 691 October 18, 2013 12:00 PM  

You mean Ptolemy's theories of cycles and epicycles, right?

Copernicus tried to unify heliocentrism with previous theories of cycles/epicycles. Kuhn specifically refers to Copernicus's attempts, not Ptolemy, as an example.

691, when much of the intellectual framework is based upon political ideology, the conceptual inadequacy will be there.

That's more analogous with Lysenkoism, which is another failure pattern in science, but it's not what Kuhn discusses.

I suspect scientists increasingly turn to manufactured non-science in part because of the conceptual inadequacies.

Possible, but what about the personal inadequacies of the 3rd rate bureaucrats, midwits and careerists who have to fake results to get ahead? They fail at what Kuhn refers to as "normal science", tripping over themselves before ever getting far enough to bump up against the conceptual boundaries of the current paradigm.

Moreover, I suspect instead that this type of corruption actually postpones a Kuhn-style crisis by hollowing out the foundation of scientage. Lots of bogus results tend to undermine the urgency of resolving anomalies. When every result is in doubt, it's much easier to sweep results you don't like under the rug.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 12:03 PM  

"It is peer review that should operate on "trust, but verify". But it often doesn't."

Peer Review would be better off if "Dont Trust, Falsify" was the standard as well.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 12:05 PM  

"It's hard to budge a theory with predictive value, when it's entirely consistent with everything we know about real hard stuff like physics and chemistry, and everything we've ever observed about life, and invariably turns out to be consistent with everything new that we observe. "

Predictive value!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous civilServant October 18, 2013 12:07 PM  

Seriously: given that mutation happens and selection happens (do all animals have the same number of surviving offspring?), explain how evolution could possibly NOT happen.

Of course it happens but at a miniscule rate. A strictly random process cannot have generated what we see before us. The statistical problems with random evolution were noted by the mathematicians decades ago.

In fact if evolution were constant and random then there would be no such thing as species.

Blogger RobertT October 18, 2013 12:08 PM  

"Scientific authority" is a position they assumed. They didn't earn it. Too much stuff can't be observed, such as Darwinism. You can call it theory, I call it guess. I have tons more respect for researchers than I have for science and scientists, who are primarily in the business of advancing their own interests..

Anonymous Golf Pro October 18, 2013 12:11 PM  

"Since you clearly haven't read Kuhn, you don't even know what is meant by a crisis or how well Kuhn's description of one fits the present state of the Neo-Darwinian paradigm. And yet, you foolishly don't permit your ignorance to prevent you from commenting anyhow."

It is no surprise to me that in declaring the inevitability of coming Kuhnian crisis in biology that will do away with evolution by natural selection you make no attempt at all to identify the opposing paradigm, who it is supported by and exactly why it will push E by NS out of the mainstream. If you had a good reason to make this declaration, you'd show us the the vanguard of those pushing the new paradigm.

What you present is nothing more than wishful thinking, sprinkled with significant bias, and a helping of no expertise in the area whatsoever.

Put another way, your post here is without merit. Stick to blaming automobile accidents on the supernatural. That is clearly your forte.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 12:13 PM  

I'm surprised no one has noted the increase in the number of scientists from several thousand to millions over the past 7, or so, decades. Decreasing marginal returns is a conjecture that seems to have pretty good predictive value.

Bruce Charlton has offered the hypothesis that effectiveness of intelligence is a function of it's rarity, meaning that the intelligence of a top .1 percenter is ten times as effective as a top 1 percenter.

If the average Iq of all scientists has fallen from the top .01 percent to the top 2 percent then this makes the average scientist of 1945 200 times as effective as the average one today.

Is IQ science?

Anonymous Tex October 18, 2013 12:14 PM  

What ever happened to Tad's posting limits? Does science explain those away too?

Anonymous Jimmy October 18, 2013 12:15 PM  

I can't tell if jay is a troll or not.

Does he seriously think "science" (whatever that is) created life? Sure seems to be a whole lot of intelligent, sentient beings involved in that process.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 12:17 PM  

@ gold pro

Can you sum up science in fifty words or fewer? Is IQ scientific?

Anonymous Stickwick October 18, 2013 12:21 PM  

... the Tychonic system fit the known evidence better than any other system.

That doesn't make it the "right idea." It's still not clear what the other skeptic meant by that. Also, it's not clear why he lumped in Kepler with Brahe, since their models were different.

Anonymous kh123 October 18, 2013 12:22 PM  

"...you make no attempt at all to identify the opposing paradigm, who it is supported by..."

What kind of fallacy again, folks? Anyone?

Anonymous Golf Pro October 18, 2013 12:22 PM  

"Yeah, I'm going to take a Wikipedia article on advanced scientific theory. Wikipedia is good for basic factual information, and a summary of current opinion. It's not for understanding theories in depth. I'm an engineer, Golf Pro. I understand how science works and doesn't work.

Which part of the Wikipedia article on the current paradigm in biology is wrong? After all, you should be able to clearly suss this out since you are a trained engineer!

If you can't actually point out the problem with an article, then don't say there is a problem.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 12:23 PM  

What ever happened to Tad's posting limits? Does science explain those away too?

Golf Pro is on a limit of four per post. A. Scientist is delete-on-sight.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 12:26 PM  

It is no surprise to me that in declaring the inevitability of coming Kuhnian crisis in biology that will do away with evolution by natural selection you make no attempt at all to identify the opposing paradigm, who it is supported by and exactly why it will push E by NS out of the mainstream. If you had a good reason to make this declaration, you'd show us the the vanguard of those pushing the new paradigm.

Again, you show that you haven't read Kuhn. He specifically describes how scientists will behave in the absence of a competing paradigm, which happens to precisely match how biologists are behaving today. You clearly don't understand that it is the crisis that eventually produces the competing paradigm, the new paradigm does not produce the crisis. You have it completely backwards because you don't know what Kuhn wrote.

Blogger His Lady October 18, 2013 12:27 PM  

Jay. Honey. Calm down.

Calling that experiment "the creation of synthetic life" is basically the same as switching out word processor programs and claiming you built a computer.

You don't seem to get that they not only used existing cells, but used the ongoing, already-in-progress processes of those existing cells. They didn't even replace the entire genetic code, only part of it. This means they genetically engineered something that was already alive and there; they didn't create anything from scratch.

I know this was exciting for you, but you have to read more than the headlines.

Anonymous Sigyn October 18, 2013 12:27 PM  

Urgh. "His Lady" is me. Sorry, folks.

Blogger IM2L844 October 18, 2013 12:30 PM  

Are you saying science did NOT create life then? That scientists are liars?

Of course. There was nothing in that article to indicate science created new life from scratch. Embellishments aside, all they did was make some impressive modifications, with no philosophical implications, using preexisting microbiological architecture.

Blogger Steve October 18, 2013 12:39 PM  

Vox,

This is the first time I've seen you mention Mendel. How do you see his research upending Darwin? Sounds like a good post so you can elaborate!

Anonymous kh123 October 18, 2013 12:41 PM  

...Actually, no, I take that back. Tad hasn't attacked the alternative paradigm - on this thread. He's merely taken the preemptive Bolshevik approach in asking why would anyone oppose Onestate, and who exactly these saboteurs are. I jumped the gun in assuming he'd want to know their financial or personal connections.

Anonymous kh123 October 18, 2013 12:43 PM  

...Because between the wine cellar and the struggle against religion, it's all about the search for the truth. Via ever changing anon-de-guerres.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 12:55 PM  

And now you're down to three comments per post, Golf Pro. No one is going to take someone seriously who not only doesn't understand the post and comments in obvious ignorance, but can't even count to four.

You're in well over your head.

Blogger IM2L844 October 18, 2013 1:00 PM  

Golf Pro: "You still haven't identified the crisis. Why not? And why haven't others latched on to this mythical crisis. You are way out of your element, VD."

Kuhn identified the crisis.

Anonymous Sigyn October 18, 2013 1:08 PM  

Clearly, Kuhn phrased his predictions in language so vague that they would almost HAVE to be fulfilled. It's, like, prophecy. Obviously it never works.

So there. Now prove me wrong or else you're all losers! Write it on a tablet made of massless matter!

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 1:15 PM  

> If you can't actually point out the problem with an article, then don't say there is a problem.

I didn't say there was a problem with the article, now did I? I said there was a problem with using Wikipedia as a source for discussion of advanced scientific theories.

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 1:38 PM  

Peer Review would be better off if "Dont Trust, Falsify" was the standard as well.

Perhaps, but it's not practical.

Replication, on the other hand, should be the norm. Step by step instructions, detailed methodology, and if it can be replicated by different labs then it stands.

From what I understand, replication hardly ever happens because there is no money in it and frankly, if there is money in it then nobody wants anyone else to replicate it.

Anonymous pillowtalk October 18, 2013 1:40 PM  

Funny that you seem to have no problem with fairy tales masquerading as a description of reality in the realm of economics though - which is exactly what Austrian economics is. In that case, they don't even make a pretense of empirical verification - and it's seen as a feature! LOL

If you're going to make shit up, at least have the decency to pretend you're going to do some verification, I guess that would have been too much for those filthy old Jews.

"Trust but verify" - why is this imbecility being trotted out and given the rounds again? That old fool Reagan was uncommonly stupid, even by the standards of the American presidency. It would stand to reason that if you're going to verify, there is no trust. The meaning of trust is that verification is not necessary. It's such a typically American coarse-mindedness that doesn't see the inherent contradiction in this stupidity but instead trumpets it like a great truth.

Blogger Nate October 18, 2013 1:41 PM  

"Replication, on the other hand, should be the norm. Step by step instructions, detailed methodology, and if it can be replicated by different labs then it stands."

Replication.. which an eye toward falsification.

Anonymous Andre October 18, 2013 1:44 PM  

Of course Darwinism has predictive power, morons!

LOL SCIENCE

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 1:45 PM  

Funny that you seem to have no problem with fairy tales masquerading as a description of reality in the realm of economics though - which is exactly what Austrian economics is. In that case, they don't even make a pretense of empirical verification - and it's seen as a feature!

Of course. For what should be the totally obvious reason that empirical verification is absolutely impossible when dealing with one-time events, which is what every single economic transaction has always been and always will be.

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 1:49 PM  

If you're going to make shit up, at least have the decency to pretend you're going to do some verification, I guess that would have been too much for those filthy old Jews.

Austrian economics is bad because Jews is not a convincing argument.

How in the hell did you wander over here from storm front?

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 1:50 PM  

Are you saying science did NOT create life then? That scientists are liars?

Rejiggering software is not creating a computer.

They didn't create life. They replaced the genome of a living cell with an artificially constructed genome. It's called reverse engineering, not "science".

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 1:51 PM  

Of course. For what should be the totally obvious reason that empirical verification is absolutely impossible when dealing with one-time events, which is what every single economic transaction has always been and always will be.

Not to mention that Austrian economics has been much better from a predictive standpoint than other schools.

Anonymous Stilicho October 18, 2013 1:54 PM  

That's more analogous with Lysenkoism, which is another failure pattern in science, but it's not what Kuhn discusses.

Of course it is Lysenkoism, but that does not mean it doesn't set up a system ripe for a conceptual revolution ala Kuhn. Regardless of the cause of the conceptual inadequacy, when it exists, the potential for a kuhnian revolution exists.

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 1:55 PM  

Replication.. which an eye toward falsification.

How about: replication...with no expectations one way or the other?

I'd like to see it become a requirement. Base it on a karma point system where you build credit based upon how many replications you perform, and others do the same. Any lab that doesn't do replications does not gain certain funding privileges.

Anonymous Coyotewise October 18, 2013 2:00 PM  

Am I being overly cynical to suspect that more articles like this may be the tactic that mainstream journalism uses to disengage itself from the doomsday cult of climate alarmism? Kind of a drip campaign that leads to a meme of how 'we've all been taken by a culture of corruption in science'. One that was probably cause by fat incentives from the corporate sector.

Anonymous Michael Maier October 18, 2013 2:05 PM  

Porky: How can you not agree that science would not be better served if the replicators are looking for flaws in every aspect the experiment?

Anonymous Michael Maier October 18, 2013 2:07 PM  

James Dixon October 18, 2013 11:50 AM > http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

"researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute inserted artificial genetic material — chemically printed, synthesized and assembled — into cells that were then able to grow naturally"

Artificial DNA that requires an already living cell to replicate is hardly "life" as anyone would normally define it.


No joke. This article brings to mind that joke: "Uh-uh... make your OWN dirt!"

Anonymous bob k. mando October 18, 2013 2:16 PM  

jay October 18, 2013 10:59 AM
What do you have to say about science creating life?



that they DIDN'T create life. from the second sentence of the article:
"inserted artificial genetic material — chemically printed, synthesized and assembled — into cells that were then able to grow naturally."

and later
inserted over 1 million base pairs of synthetic DNA into Mycoplasma capricolum cells


the cells were pre-existing and composed of previously living material.

all the scientists did was 'synthesize' a new DNA strand. and it may not have even been much of a 'new' strand:
"It’s an impressive trick, no doubt, but replicating a natural genome with a little panache is also the limit of our present design capabilities."

and that's irrelevant to Abiogenesis anyways. they're starting with established cell structures and mechanisms.

and, given the general UNreliability of scientific experiments, we need to see somebody ELSE replicate this work before we can even give them credit for this much.



jay October 18, 2013 11:30 AM
Are you saying science did NOT create life then? That scientists are liars?



a - i didn't see any 'scientist' in that article claiming to have 'created life'. that phrase seems to have come from the bimbo who wrote the article ( Rachel Swaby ) or her editor.

b - Vox's ( and the Economist's ) entire point has been that we KNOW that many of the scientists are lying. would you like to argue the point? then you're going to have to explain why AT LEAST half of all published papers can't be replicated.



as too Vox's lack of faith in St Darwin, i can only say, shun the non-believer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsGYh8AacgY

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 2:20 PM  

How in the hell did you wander over here from storm front?

He read the SFWA report.

Anonymous bob k. mando October 18, 2013 2:25 PM  

Andre October 18, 2013 1:44 PM
Of course Darwinism has predictive power, morons!



beaten like a red-headed step child by Larry Niven:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pak_Protector



Josh October 18, 2013 1:49 PM
How in the hell did you wander over here from storm front?



he smelled Wheeler in the air?

Anonymous DrTorch October 18, 2013 2:26 PM  

when it's entirely consistent with everything we know about real hard stuff like physics and chemistry

Who told you that it was? A biologist, I'll bet. Anyway, while this would undoubtedly confuse thousands of 9th grade science teachers if they understood it, current theories of evolution don't match well w/ the hard stuff of chemistry and physics.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 2:29 PM  

@ VD

which is what every single economic transaction has always been and always will be.

Doesn't this apply to all human social interactions, as well? And, if so, doesn't that place all human behavior beyond rational analysis? Or is there rational analysis that is not constrained by empirical investigation? Further, if some rational analysis is unconstrained by any empirical investigation then isn't it plausible to claim that there are some fields of knowledge that are completely unempirical?

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 2:36 PM  

How can you not agree that science would not be better served if the replicators are looking for flaws in every aspect the experiment?

I do. I just don't think it's practical. It should be enough that another lab spent the time and resources replicating the experiment and writing up a report. If it didn't work, then the original lab should try to figure out what went wrong.

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 2:50 PM  

Doesn't this apply to all human social interactions, as well? And, if so, doesn't that place all human behavior beyond rational analysis?

Yes, certainly. No, not beyond rational analysis, or probabilistic analysis, but definitely beyond empirical analysis. The fact that you chose to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch in no way implies that you will choose to eat one today, even if presented with the same situation.

Anonymous DrTorch October 18, 2013 2:51 PM  

How can you not agree that science would not be better served if the replicators are looking for flaws in every aspect the experiment?

I do. I just don't think it's practical. It should be enough that another lab spent the time and resources replicating the experiment and writing up a report. If it didn't work, then the original lab should try to figure out what went wrong.


That's nuts. That's a nightmare. Now a researcher has to correct everyone else's mistakes? (I did that once on a calculation done by an in-house review. Even that was tedious).

Better that a referee or validator come by and view the work as it's being replicated. But, that's as if one-size-fits-all. There are big differences between synthetic organic chemistry (essentially validated by analysis, even if the synthetic route was facilitated by an unknown) and high energy physics, and medical clinical trials, etc.

And who's going to replicate the pitch drop experiment?

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 2:54 PM  

consider the following proposition:

The mass entry of women into the workforce had a significantly depressing long term economic effect

Is this proposition scientific? If so, how is it engineering? If not, is it real knowledge? If so, what are the criteria for knowledge that is real but not scientific?

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 2:57 PM  

@ VD

And, yet, I would guess that the average daily consumption of PBJs in the population remains relatively stable in the short and even medium term.

If I had the resources to conduct the research I could predict to a high degree of accuracy the number of PBJs consumed in the US next Thursday.

Is that science? Is it real knowledge?

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 3:13 PM  

Is this proposition scientific? If so, how is it engineering? If not, is it real knowledge? If so, what are the criteria for knowledge that is real but not scientific?

No. No. Yes. Knowledge is simply information. Data. I mean, you understand that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is real, but not scientific.

Is that science? Is it real knowledge?

No. No. It's an estimate. There is no chance you could correctly calculate the number of PBJs consumed tomorrow. None.

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 3:34 PM  

I mean, you understand that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is real, but not scientific.

We can replicate this. I'm sure Nate will volunteer to shoot a Yankee politician at a theater. For science.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:35 PM  

No one relies on exact numbers to make decisions in the social world; good estimates suffice. If I do the the research and predict the number of consumed PBJs within and error margin of 99 percent on some specific date in the future does that indicate that I have produced real knowledge? Let's say advertisers use that information to make sales decisions: does that mean anything?

There is no chance you could correctly calculate the number of PBJs consumed tomorrow. None.

the exact number? No. To within a narrow margin of error? I'm sure that's quite doable. Further, we could probably establish that fewer PbJs are consumed on weekends or Christmas day, based on various social customs pertaining to a particular culture.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:39 PM  

Knowledge is simply information.

I am certain this assertion is not tenable but I'll have to think a precise response as to why and I lack the time for it now. Consider the assertion:

the entrance of women into the workforce has had a long term depressing economic effect

That assertion is a synthesis of data; it is also something most people who would agree with the assertion (as do I) would call "knowledge". However, that assertion is not the data, itself, on which the proposition relies for its truth-value.

Anonymous Dr. Doom October 18, 2013 3:41 PM  

I'm surprised that it has taken this long for people to notice that science like academia has been infiltrated by Marxists on their long march to Extinction. It only took me a few moments to realize that Science was no longer scientific when I learned of the pagan gods of scientism like Boas, Margaret Mead, Stephen J. Gould, and of course that brilliant GENIUS Darwin, the unemployed botanist that did a report of the flora and fauna of an obscure unknown island in the South Pacific while acting as a hand on a boat.
When Sociology now claims that Karl Marx was one of its eminent scientists, the charade should be obvious to anyone who does not need a legal guardian. Obviously these "scientists" are merely Politically Motivated when they put Marxism ahead of research and data.
Science as it exists today is actually a bizarre cult of Communist Dogma badly cloaked in scientific mumbo-jumbo like a Soviet era comrade wearing a poorly fitted suit. People seem to forget that Astrology was once considered a science, and apparently the current paradigm of Political rather than Scientific Justification is determined to replicate the Amazing Results that Astrologers have had in shaping public opinion.
When you see Insane Unindicted Sex Offenders like Algore being the spokesman for Big Ideas like Global Warming, it should be obvious to everyone that these Scientists are a Complete Fraud. Only in pockets of Communist Supremacy like Looniversities or the Dinosaur Media are these idiots safe from the Ridicule of the masses.
At this rate, I expect the Entire Field of Science to be Relegated to the Level of Snake-Oil Salesmen and Three-Card Monte Dealers. It will take a long time for people to again believe the pronouncements of socially-awkward geeks living highly insular lives, and this is Definitely a Good Thing!
I expect there to be a Great Resurgence of Religion after the Marxists have Completely Destroyed Academia and Science through their Fraud and Bullying. In Fact, the Entire Concept of Theoretical Science that does not produce Concrete Results is probably going to end up on the Trashheap of History.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:41 PM  

Let me put it another way. Consider the following proposition:

We know that ever-increasing female participation in the workforce has a long term depressing economic effect

I would agree with that statement, but notice that the statement, itself, is not data but contains a reference to "knowledge". I would guess that "knowledge" is a very broad, catch-all term that is not very good for precision.

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 3:42 PM  

Now a researcher has to correct everyone else's mistakes?

Not exactly. If 4 labs attempt to replicate and 4 labs fail to replicate then there is something wrong with the original experiment or the original paper. If it's 2 out of 4 then it's anybody's guess.

But is it easier for the original lab to figure out the problem or for a secondary lab who might have only a passing interest in the subject and may not want to waste resources on what might be a flawed experiment (perhaps purposely) to begin with?

The most important thing is to start publishing replication studies in journals. However, this will probably never happen.

Anonymous Josh October 18, 2013 3:42 PM  

Jonathan, are you proposing that market research is science?

For that matter, is DVOA science because it's designed to be predictive?

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:45 PM  

@ Josh

When people use the term "science" what they are doing to trying to put a stamp of authority that has a psychological impact on the listener.

I avoid using the term "science" as much as possible.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:48 PM  

For example, I highly doubt that the entrance of women into the workforce is the sole reason for the stagnant wages over the past several decades. However, any body of explanation that does not include the mass entrance is going to have inferior predictive value to bodies of theories that do include it.

See, I didn't need to use the term "science" to make that claim.

Anonymous Jonathan October 18, 2013 3:57 PM  

Instead of something meaningless like PBJ sandwiches, let's talk child and pubescents' rape. A paedo or ephebe is much more likely to be raped by a non-related male in the house than they are to be raped by their own biological father.

That said, I am not able to predict exactly which male is going to rape in any particular situation, or ever. If your demand for "knowledge" is that I be able to predict exactly which individual is going to rape in any one particular scenario then, no, I am not able to do that.

However, the evidence is quite clear that children are safest when they are living with both their biological parents over the long term. I would claim that I "known" this to be true. If you disagree then I really don't know what to telll you.

Anonymous Huckleberry - est. 1977 October 18, 2013 4:16 PM  

I am not able to predict exactly which male is going to rape in any particular situation

That would be the science fiction author, wearing a dress and brandishing a Hugo award, if you know what I mean, and I think you do...

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 4:35 PM  

> the exact number? No. To within a narrow margin of error? I'm sure that's quite doable.

A narrow margin of error in percentage terms? Quite likely. In absolute numbers? No way.

Anonymous Stilicho October 18, 2013 4:42 PM  

Jonathan, are you Asher? Alternatively, are you related?

Anonymous DrTorch October 18, 2013 4:55 PM  

The most important thing is to start publishing replication studies in journals. However, this will probably never happen.

I see the point, but it's hard to know when and where this is important. Who's going to replicate LHC results?

Do you really care that much about my graduate work in molecular spectroscopy? It wasn't that ground breaking.

Curiously enough, one did get replicated once when another lab was looking at the same thing, and the articles published consecutively in a journal. This happens occasionally. My lab replicated old results when trying to improve the precision on determining molecular constants, or to measure the Stark effect. (Once we replicated old work accidentally when there was a small leak in a vacuum system and we produced a nitride along w/ the oxide we were studying)

Astronomical data can get replicated when one observatory validates their observation using the other's records/archives.

Some of my applied work (privately published) was required to be done using replicates, and the results processed w/ a statistical routine. Then there was transition of results from the lab to the field, replication and duplication.

All that just to say that a fair amount of research does get replicated along the way. But studies of virology, neurology and microbiology are different than physics, geology and chemistry. So I'm not sure a blanket approach is necessary, or would be effective.

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother October 18, 2013 5:18 PM  

Torch,

Do you use absorption or emission spectroscopy?

Anonymous bob k. mando October 18, 2013 5:44 PM  

another story on the weaknesses of the current peer review system:
http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/new-wave-of-online-peer-review-and-discussion-tools-frightens-some-scientists/

Anonymous The Great Martini October 18, 2013 6:22 PM  

"Got any proof to back this up??"

Here's a good overview

One choice quote:

"Research on secondhand smoke conducted by researchers with industry ties is 88 times more likely to find no harm; industry-funded studies comparing cholesterol drugs are 20 times more likely to favor the sponsor’s drug."

Anonymous VD October 18, 2013 6:59 PM  

No one relies on exact numbers to make decisions in the social world; good estimates suffice.

True. And they are not basing their decisions on science. What about it? I have never claimed science is the only means of determining either truth or knowledge, I have always insisted on precisely the opposite.

You don't seem to be grasping the significant difference between statistical probability and the scientific method.

Anonymous MendoScot October 18, 2013 8:44 PM  

I've spent the day doing the most important thing a scientist can do - filling in the ANNUAL REPORT.

Here's a tripod for the thread:

(1) Publish or perish placed a false measure in the heart of research.

(2) Peer review, papers or grants, allows your friends or enemies a cost-free shot at your ass.

(3) The obligatory expansion of the popolaccio feeds back to the above.

In my own field, I've watched the old guard die and the young'uns replace them, aggresively pursuing the ideas that the old'uns rejected.

Ironically, those ideas were rejected in the eighteenth century on the basis of atheism - the opposition to vitalism. Now we have had fifty years of active opposition to one of the most promising fields in biomedicine, because of atheism.

Anonymous kh123 October 18, 2013 9:09 PM  

"Here's a good overview"

Since we're on a roll with the genetic fallacy, I'd like to point out that Discover doesn't exactly seem the paragon of impartial when it comes to the sociopolitical as science, considering that a). it's intended as a layman's mag, and b). which companies have pulled the publication's purse strings.

Blogger James Dixon October 18, 2013 9:42 PM  

OK. Not being at work now, I took time to start reading Golf Pro's Wikipedia article.

To start with, it says this:

"The synthesis, produced between 1936 and 1947"

Yeah, that's going to include a lot of input from modern genetic knowledge, isn't it?

But let's continue with the summary:

"1. All evolutionary phenomena can be explained in a way consistent with known genetic mechanisms and the observational evidence of naturalists.
2. Evolution is gradual: small genetic changes regulated by natural selection accumulate over long periods. Discontinuities amongst species (or other taxa) are explained as originating gradually through geographical separation and extinction. This theory contrast with the saltation theory of Bateson (1894).[6]
3. Natural selection is by far the main mechanism of change; even slight advantages are important when continued. The object of selection is the phenotype in its surrounding environment.
4. The role of genetic drift is equivocal. Though strongly supported initially by Dobzhansky, it was downgraded later as results from ecological genetics were obtained.
5. Thinking in terms of populations, rather than individuals, is primary: the genetic diversity existing in natural populations is a key factor in evolution. The strength of natural selection in the wild is greater than previously expected; the effect of ecological factors such as niche occupation and the significance of barriers to gene flow are all important.
6. In palaeontology, the ability to explain historical observations by extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution is proposed. Historical contingency means explanations at different levels may exist. Gradualism does not mean constant rate of change."

Starting with one, no it can't.

As for two, I thought punctuated equilibrium was the current working hypothesis. Apparently not.

But the fact that punctuated equilibrium has even been raised as an alternate theory shows that this is far from a complete explanation of the observed historical record and is not as widely accepted as Golf Pro seems to think.

Three is entirely a theoretical statement and has never been demonstrated in practice. No is likely that it ever can be, as it would require controlling for all other mechanisms.

Four says "we don't know". Yeah, that's a strong scientific position for a theory to take. I think we could have figured that out.

Five ignores the fact that genetic change occurs at the individual level and assumes this magically somehow translates to the population, with no mechanism given.

And six seems to be mostly gobbledygook with no clear meaning.

The section further advances seems to answer some of these questions, but only by further discrediting standard evolutionary theory in favor of a purely genetic basis and closes with this statement:

"As these recent discoveries suggest, the synthesis continues to undergo regular review, drawing on insights offered by both new biotechnologies and new paleontological discoveries."

In other words: Nothing is settled. This could all be wrong. We'll know more as new discoveries are made.

Yeah, I think we could have figure that out.

It all amounts to Golf Pro appealing to a non-existent authority on a subject he himself knows nothing about. Anyone who understands how science works, the nature of the scientific theory, and the relative spareness of the historical record knows how shaky the ground is underneath the theory of evolution as it's currently formulated, and why. Golf Pro understands none of this.

Blogger James Worrad October 18, 2013 10:08 PM  

I'm no expert but I'd say if a species is capable enough to survive and reproduce then there's no pressure to improve after that. It's the same reason you hiccup: it's a hangover from our fish ancestor's breathing but, because it doesn't kill us there's no pressure for it to be eradicated. Evolution is not about perfection, more about make-do and just-enough.

Anonymous Porky October 18, 2013 10:14 PM  

Dr. Torch: "So I'm not sure a blanket approach is necessary, or would be effective."

Good point.

mendoscot: Ironically, those ideas were rejected in the eighteenth century on the basis of atheism - the opposition to vitalism. Now we have had fifty years of active opposition to one of the most promising fields in biomedicine, because of atheism.

Do you feel reductionism has hit a dead end in the bio sciences?



Anonymous Anonymous October 18, 2013 10:17 PM  

Hi Vox, what do you think of the argument that the inability to clearly define species is evidence for evolution because nature is in confusion and the fact that things are not clearly definable is what you would expect if evolution is true?

Anonymous Sigyn October 18, 2013 11:27 PM  

And six seems to be mostly gobbledygook with no clear meaning.

I'll take a crack at it for you. I has a degree in something about language:

"In palaeontology, the ability to explain historical observations by extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution is proposed. Historical contingency means explanations at different levels may exist. Gradualism does not mean constant rate of change."

Translation: "We think we can explain these weird fossils by taking something observed on a small scale (selective breeding) and assuming that you can turn gerbils into gorillas if you just select enough. Of course, when that explanation turns out to be utter horse-hockey, we just make something up that makes everything fit again. Also, just because we can't prove it happens doesn't mean it doesn't happen."

Anonymous pillowtalk October 19, 2013 12:20 AM  

Of course. For what should be the totally obvious reason that empirical verification is absolutely impossible when dealing with one-time events, which is what every single economic transaction has always been and always will be.

How does this have any relevancy. Each economic decision taken on it's own may in fact be a special little snowflake, and some people may indeed feel a warm fuzzy in their ideological special place when they imagine how unique and wonderful transactions at the margin are. But in the real world people en mass behave en mass in ways that can modelled to degrees of accuracy with some margins of error. Every single investor does this when they attempt to ascertain the viability and growth prospects of a company they're looking to invest in. Business leaders do this when they plan for the future. Mainstream Economists are attempting to do the same thing, except that their ambitions are somewhat greater - they want to build a bigger model.

And they are not basing their decisions on science. What about it? I have never claimed science is the only means of determining either truth or knowledge, I have always insisted on precisely the opposite.

You don't seem to be grasping the significant difference between statistical probability and the scientific method.


What is the difference? Even particle physics is based on statistical analysis. Beyond that, what would you propose as a measure for determining which theory of economics better describes reality if reference to empirical evidence is invalid? Wordiness? Poetic style? Which sotry might contain more wizards and elves?

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 12:28 AM  

It is no surprise to me that in declaring the inevitability of coming Kuhnian crisis in biology that will do away with evolution by natural selection you make no attempt at all to identify the opposing paradigm, who it is supported by and exactly why it will push E by NS out of the mainstream.

What in the flaming bunnies is the significance of that? You’re saying that your primary reason to believe in evolution, is because you don’t like an alternative?

Ok. We figured as much.

*

I decided to randomly go look up Tuataras, and I came across this:

http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080327/full/news.2008.695.html

Tuataras (in my country, so proud) have long been called 'living fossils', a species (two of 'em, actually) unchanged since before the dinosaurs.

But they're trying to prove otherwise. My favourite bit from wiki: "Although tuatara are sometimes called "living fossils", recent anatomical work has shown they have changed significantly since the Mesozoic era"

If they changed significantly, anatomically, how the heck did we only just notice?

Their reasoning is what I found informative. 'Taxonomic study' (lol) and 'molecular evolution'. They're concentrating so hard on validating evolution, that they don't realise they're undermining the credibility of their methods. They're trying to say that the tuatara 'rapidly evolved' over 220 million years, despite having hardly changed at all. They're not apex predators, being prey to large birds (they nearly got wiped out by rats fer crying out loud), and they live in a complex environment on a couple of islands one stop from Antartica, where one imagines the environment may have undergone some significant changes over the millions and millions of years (and a large number of their subspecies dying out, which apparently didn't provoke a reaction either), as well as the changing shorelines and rising mountains. We are supposed to have been in an geologically major ice age, 'glacial periods' and advancing and retreating ice sheets, for 2 and a half million years now.
The temperature of the soil even has a direct effect on their environmentally sensitive male/female ratio.

http://www.kcc.org.nz/tuatara

"Scientists at Victoria University found that at 22° C, 80% of tuatara incubated would hatch into males, at 20° C, 80% were likely to be females and at 18° C, all the tuatara hatched were female. "

So, if the environment is constantly below 18 degrees, the tuatara all die in a single generation? That's interesting. Good thing we haven't had any glacial periods recently.

But in fairness, I'm perfectly willing to doubt 100% female rate for an entire species under cold conditions. Nonetheless, that's an enormous species wide near-extinction. It's incredible. The tuatara are, or should have, the most extraordinarily impelled evolution on the planet, everything they are is getting evolution conditions at them left and right. But they reflect no changes whatsoever. Didn't even re-speciate into their original subspecies. Tuatara might as well bitchslap evolution in the face.

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

*

Coealacanths are still my favourite, though.

*

In palaeontology, the ability to explain historical observations by extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution is proposed. Historical contingency means explanations at different levels may exist. Gradualism does not mean constant rate of change.

That sounds like something the Ant might write. 'I don't have the answer, what I do have doesn't make sense, but I'm going to put some words in here anyway.'

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 1:12 AM  

You don't seem to be grasping the significant difference between statistical probability and the scientific method.

Well, I'm a Bayesian so I regard even the most scientific of statements in terms of probability. In other words, I reject this distinction. This is an issue that is still very much disputed, but at least I am stating my fundamental reasoning.

Also, I do not claim that I am an expert on Bayesian inference and there are competing paradigms but this is the one that makes the most sense to me.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 1:25 AM  

@ VD

At another blog I was involved in a discussion one rape that had a contingent of feminists who regard any advice on how to avoid it as tantamount to "victim blaming". One feminist noted that telling women to avoid getting pass out drunk wouldn't help with rape by family and friends. I pointed out that a very disproportionate amount of "family rape" involved mom's boyfriend and that one good way to avoid rape was to have a child living with their biological parent.

Even the non-feminist contingent considered my position to be mere "opinion". One problem is that the public perception is that there is science in one corner and that everything else is just opinion. In such an intellectual environment reducing science to engineering renders facts about human behavior "just opinion". Since science has become synonymous with knowledge drawing a line between engineering and everything else reduces that "everthing else" to mere opinion. Leftists pounce on that distinction to relegate all discussions of human behavior to the realm of politics and power, ala Foucault.

My problem with the narrow scope interpretation of science is that it places everything else into the arena of politics. I'd like to think that we can discuss some aspects of human behavior without it turning into questions of cui bono.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 1:39 AM  

A perfect example of the politicization of fact is being discussed over at Greg Cochrane's blog. He links to an old essay over at Cato Unbound where the libertarian author makes the case that discussion of racial differences in behavior is immoral on its face. Sure, I consider the essay to be riddled with logical errors but then my analysis is based on broad, as opposed to narrow, conception of science. The cato essay is here http://www.cato-unbound.org/2007/11/21/eric-turkheimer/race-iq

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 1:42 AM  

It's easy to see that you neither hold to Bayesian probability, nor understand the concept of methodology.

Bayesian Probability is not a reformatting of the English language, and your meandering, naturally, serves no purpose. A method is not a probability. A method is distinct from product.

Anonymous pillowtalk October 19, 2013 1:49 AM  

In such an intellectual environment reducing science to engineering renders facts about human behavior "just opinion".

Yet when it comes to economics, neoreactionaries of the kind you see here seem to sanctify subjectivity, although they violently object to doing it in any other domain. "Common sense", the calculus seems to be, should be given priority, except in the special cases when doing so might impair my economic freedom.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 1:50 AM  

from wikipedia

In statistics, Bayesian inference is a method of inference in which Bayes' rule is used to update the probability estimate for a hypothesis as additional evidence is acquired.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 1:54 AM  

@ pillotalk

If something really were "commonsense" then it wouldn't need to be talked about because it would actually be common and talking about it would be superfluous. No one discusses whether or not the sun rises in the east; we all tacitly just agree that it does.

I'm too tired to go digging, right now, but several years ago an established philosopher wrote and good essay on why the term is useless and conveys nothing but the speaker's prejudices. Yeah, when most people use the term it is nothing more than a placeholder for a real argument.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:10 AM  

In statistics, Bayesian inference is a method of inference in which Bayes' rule is used to update the probability estimate for a hypothesis as additional evidence is acquired.

Yes, I read the wiki page. Which is how I knew it was the sum of your knowledge on the subject, and that you don't know how to use it, let alone have a subscription to it. And it was self-evident that you didn't understand 'method'.

Read what you quoted again. 'Bayesian inference is a method'. (Emphasis mine.)

To cite the wiki, it's an interpretation of probability. Not method.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:14 AM  

how much time do you expect me to spend typing out what I actually have consumed on the subject? The point is that we are discussing things on which there is no definitive authority. The wikipedia link just happened to be the first search return and that was the first sentence on the page.

Look, the point is that if you equate science with engineering then everything else is just going to be relegated to the realm of opinion.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:15 AM  

btw, that is the first time I've ever actually read the wikipedia page on bayesian inference

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:20 AM  

I don't expect anything of you. I'm just going to check up on what you write.

If you equate science with just 'what we people here agree is science' then everything not of their camp is going to be relegated to the realm of wrong.

If your argument is just, 'well each to their own', then you are arguing to no purpose.

btw, that is the first time I've ever actually read the wikipedia page on bayesian inference

In which case, I spoke in haste, and you're simply didn't realise the significant meaning of method.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:27 AM  



Untrue in any case. 'Science' is no longer used in the archaic sense, more's the pity. And even then, I don't think it was meant to represent all knowledge. Philosophy is not science, but it deals far more directly with truth than the dependent fields of science.

Science is not engineering, but the point being made is that it falls far short of engineering's standards, and it deserves no especial consideration of credibility until the science is actually turned into engineering.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:27 AM  

^ Missing quote: "Look, the point is that if you equate science with engineering then everything else is just going to be relegated to the realm of opinion."

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:34 AM  

@ Mudz

Consider the following assertion from a hypothetical reactionary:

The mass entrance of women into the workforce has had numerous negative long term economic consequences

A hypothetical feminist would respond:

That's just the result in the current social framework and we can generate one in which those negative consequences don't happen.

What's your method of countering that argument? Tell the hypothetical feminist that she needs to subject her assertion to falsification?

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:41 AM  

@ Mudz

Does engineering engender special credibility? I doubt it. Does the average person driving across a bridge marvel at how much credibility the bridge's engineers had in making the bridge? Probably not. Something that is definitively established, e.g. bridge building, doesn't merit much consideration, at all. Humans are focused on subjects that are disputed and that is where a serious investigation involving claims of "we know that" lie.

finally, I think that we are far from having a unified method with which we can settle all disputed questions.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:45 AM  


What's your method of countering that argument? Tell the hypothetical feminist that she needs to subject her assertion to falsification?

I'll bite. Looks fun. Possibilities are:

1) Say: "Evidence?"

2) Explain why she's wrong.

3) Sure, why not?

I'm interested to see where you're attempting to take this.

Ah, I see.

Does engineering engender special credibility? I doubt it.

It merits appropriate credibility. Engineering observably produces products that do what they're supposed to, which are quite credibly products that do what they're supposed to. Evolution has failed on this account many times.

You seem to think that by speaking nonsense, that people reading you will somehow be forced to subscribe to it. Nuh-uh.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:47 AM  

If you make any claim of the probability of some event then the standard liberal claim is going to just be that politics can be arranged so as to eliminate that probability. If you make a rigid distinction between real knowledge and probability then you are playing into that paradigm. However, if you tie that probability into a specific causal mechanism then you take away that standard liberal response.

Anonymous pillowtalk October 19, 2013 2:54 AM  

Science is not engineering, but the point being made is that it falls far short of engineering's standards, and it deserves no especial consideration of credibility until the science is actually turned into engineering.

This is a purely ideological contention. The esteem people have for science in general is shallow and mostly inconsequential. It's like complaining that nine year olds believe in the tooth fairy, except that if the credibility of science is destroyed people will simply move the authority they placed with it somewhere else. The reason right-wingers like to pick at this particular stilt of modernity is that it's taken the place formerly held by religion, and they would prefer it hadn't.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 2:58 AM  

1) Say: "Evidence?"

2) Explain why she's wrong.

3) Sure, why not?


1) The standard claim is that human actions are infinitely malleable in the long run. Responding with "evidence" completely misses the point. If this is going to be your response then you're going to lose every single time.

2) Explaining why she's wrong requires an overarching truth criterion by which to judge all sorts of assertions. What would yours look like?

3) I have no idea what this references in the present context.

Evolution has failed on this account many times.

So, your argument is going to be "because God said so". Good luck winning with that one. Having been raised a devout Christian the most unsettling thing I ever had to face was that different human groups are distinctly unequal and that this inequality is, obviously, due to their nature.

How would you square this obvious reality with God's Word? If the human species were created as we now know it then there's no way that we can avoid the claim "blacks are inferior". On the other hand, if we say that different groups evolved to suit their environments then we don't need inferior/superior distinctions to explain the differences.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 2:58 AM  

@ Johnathan

Hahaha, you're really not to hook me with a 'The Guys You Hate Said They're Against This Thing I'm Saying' tactic. I didn't grow up in America, or any other such political climate; using 'liberals' as a buzzword has no effect on me.

Knowledge and probability are two different things. That's it. And you don't 'cause' probabilities. Probability is merely a representation of proposed possibilities weighted to certain arbitrated values, typically determined by a subjective appreciation of the evidence.

Commercial Value of Sentence: $99

Anonymous pillowtalk October 19, 2013 3:01 AM  

Really, it's hard to see who fetishizes science to any significant degree besides ignorant adolescants, the obnoxious professional atheists who cater to them and the most annoying contingent of them all, gadget bloggers. You guys make it sound like you're fighting harbingers of the apocalype when in reality all you're doing is kicking sand at some kids in a sandbox.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 3:04 AM  

@ Johnathan

Puh-lease. Your 'which cup am I under' tactic is easy. I'm gave you my answer. Any hypothetical reaction to a reaction to a proposition you initiated is entirely your decision. I'm not interested in victories over simulations.

So, your argument is going to be "because God said so".

'Argument' for what? Please attach that to an appropriate argument.

I was going to entertain you for a bit, as long as you faked the ability to be interesting, but you've already crashed and burned.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:07 AM  

@ mudz

Do you agree or disagree with the following proposition:

Overall, society is better off when children are raised by both biological parents

Is this proposition something to which you would respond "we know that"? If so, on what basis would you make that assessment?

I don't use the term "liberals" as a buzzword but to identify the social inheritors of Kant and many of the reactions he spawned. Liberalism is the ruling philosophical paradigm of the western world and the western world is the most philosophically influential portion of the world, at the present. Much of what people hold to be good around the entire world is tacitly liberal, even if that word isn't spoken.

It's a poor long term strategy to dismiss the single most influential social philosophy. Is most of modern liberalism crap? Sure, but it is highly influential and intricately argued crap, and you can simply dismiss it with a wave of your hand.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:11 AM  

@ mudz

Do you agree with the following statement?

Men and women, on the whole, are very different

If you agree with that statement then isn't the obvious question the cause of that observed difference? what is the cause? You can mock my questions and hypothetical assertions all you like by calling them "simulations", but doing isn't going to change that this is what people out there are actually considering.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:13 AM  

'Argument' for what? Please attach that to an appropriate argument.

Uh, the one I already introduced into the context, which is that society is better off when children are, generally, raised by both biological parents under the same roof. Yeah, it should have been pretty obvious from the context the assertion to which I was referring.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 3:20 AM  

Overall, society is better off when children are raised by both biological parents

Better than single or homosexual parents? Yes.

I would say 'I know that', on the basis of the evidence, logic, and a compelling display of rhetorical brilliance.,

it is highly influential and intricately argued crap, and you can simply dismiss it with a wave of your hand

Ok.

Men and women, on the whole, are very different

Agree.

If you agree with that statement then isn't the obvious question the cause of that observed difference?

No. Simply the differences is what's important in the context of feminism.

doing [so] isn't going to change that this is what people out there are actually considering.

And when I meet them, I argue with them.

Uh, the one I already introduced into the context, which is that society is better off when children are, generally, raised by both biological parents under the same roof. Yeah, it should have been pretty obvious from the context the assertion to which I was referring.

It wasn't, because it makes no sense, and the context was engineering and science.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:27 AM  

No. Simply the differences is what's important in the context of feminism.

The feminist position is that the differences are a product of historical social arrangements and that society can be rearranged to eliminate those differences. You miss the entire point that probability differences are meaningless unless you integrate them into a greater causal framework.

it makes no sense, and the context was engineering and science.

Science has become synonymous with knowledge of external reality, a reality that is not alterable by human willing. You may dislike that turn of events but that's what you're stuck with engaging.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:30 AM  

I would say 'I know that', on the basis of the evidence,

The standard liberal response is just going to be that the evidence is nothing more than evidence of existing social arrangements and institutions.

Look, I don't have a problem with insisting that science is reducible to engineering but that doesn't do anything to win you this debate. All liberals have to do is claim that current evidence of social differences is evidence of historical social arrangements.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:32 AM  

compelling display of rhetorical brilliance.,

What rhetorical brilliance? Insisting that science is reducible to engineering? Yeah, that is rhetorically brilliant but it is not going to win you the debates you need to win.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:35 AM  

The standard liberal explanation for social differences is that they are a product of social arrangements and institutions that produce those differences. If you disagree with that assessment then you need an alternate causal mechanism. What is that mechanism?

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 3:36 AM  

The feminist position is that the differences are a product of historical social arrangements and that society can be rearranged to eliminate those differences.

No. The important thing is determining if a difference is social or biological. It wouldn't matter if society had time-travelled and injected a genetic virus pre-dispositioning women to be women, they'd still be women.



Good thing I wasn't discussing 'probability differences' then.

Science has become synonymous with knowledge of external reality, a reality that is not alterable by human willing. You may dislike that turn of events but that's what you're stuck with engaging.

I'd be perfectly happy with that definition. It's not the one that's used, though.



Well, I'm glad you're not a liberal then! I might be compelled to waste my time arguing it.

What rhetorical brilliance?
Yeah, that is rhetorically brilliant

Thank you. :)

*

You honestly don't realise how little attention I give to the presentation to your arguments. I just skim and pick out salient bits that are cohesive enough to gain my attention. It kind of amuses me to know you waste so much time with your rthetorical follies, against an opponent who doesn't really read them.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 3:38 AM  

I'll let you retrofit these quotes where appropriate above:

"You miss the entire point that probability differences are meaningless unless you integrate them into a greater causal framework."

"The standard liberal response is"

Apparently even the comment box can't digest them on the first go.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:40 AM  

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-lotta-drama-lotta-instability-not.html

Here's a post over at steve Sailer's blog that refers to a statistical analysis that seems to establish that children do better in households headed by an opposite sex couple, as opposed to one headed by a single parent or same sex couple. The standard liberal response is that the statistical difference is due to historical social arrangements that will disappear with the correct set of institutions. In other words, liberals are saying that the differences are caused by historical social institutions. What is your alternative causal explanation?

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:44 AM  

No. The important thing is determining if a difference is social or biological.

And how would you determine that?

I'd be perfectly happy with that definition. It's not the one that's used, though.

When an average person hears the word "science" what do you think they think?

Thank you. :)

Snark is evidence of a juvenile intellect.

Anonymous Jonathan October 19, 2013 3:47 AM  

@ mudz

I probably spend as little time on your comments as you do on mine. However, I actually address your comments. If you think I'm spending a bunch of time on this then you're mistaken.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 4:31 AM  

And how would you determine that?

Evidence and logic, typically. Failing that, my incredible instincts.

Snark is evidence of a juvenile intellect.

Pretty weak. I must have embarrassed you.

When an average person hears the word "science" what do you think they think?

Whatever they like. Something amorphic and abstract, I'd imagine.

In other words, liberals are saying that the differences are caused by historical social institutions. What is your alternative causal explanation?

Irrelevant. That's what it is.

However, I actually address your comments.

You don't get points for typing, or being less efficient or relevant than my replies. I only respect useful or honest answers. I don't give trolls the same considerations I grant to the average fellow.

In absence of anything useful to engage with, or a productive avenue of discussion, I fall back on amusing myself. You have only yourself to blame.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 4:34 AM  



No, scratch that. My bad.

Biology. That's my explanation.

Anonymous Mudz October 19, 2013 4:35 AM  

Oh, fer crying out loud:

^ "In other words, liberals are saying that the differences are caused by historical social institutions. What is your alternative causal explanation?"

Anonymous Mercy Vetsel October 19, 2013 6:16 AM  

You miss the whole point: they created the DNA entirely from scratch.

What difference does it make that they used existing cell machinery?

If the headline read "scientists bring wooly mamoth to life after 10,000 years of extinction" you would complain that it didn't count since a regular elephant mother was used as a surogate.

Mercy

Blogger James Dixon October 19, 2013 7:26 AM  

> You miss the whole point: they created the DNA entirely from scratch.

DNA is not, by itself, alive. What they did could at best be described as creating a synthetic retro-virus. It's a significant achievement and a major step in reprogramming existing cells to create new hybrids, but it's not creating life.

Blogger James Dixon October 19, 2013 7:31 AM  

> I'll take a crack at it for you. I has a degree in something about language:

Sounds like a fair translation, Sigyn. Of course, I think it sort of demonstrates the accuracy of my statement. :)

Blogger IM2L844 October 19, 2013 11:25 AM  

What difference does it make that they used existing cell machinery?

It is you who is missing the point. They used a preexisting architecture (design) and they did not assemble an entire DNA molecule at all let alone from latent carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Anonymous Sigyn October 19, 2013 11:38 AM  

You miss the whole point: they created the DNA entirely from scratch. What difference does it make that they used existing cell machinery?

They reverse-engineered what's basically a machine code and then piggybacked it on an existing function. Hackers do this all the time. That's great and all that they did it with such a COMPLEX machine code...but because they only wrote machine code for an existing machine. That's not "creating synthetic life", any more than a hacker creates a new computer with his code.

If you want to claim to have created life, you have to start from the base chemicals and make something living that was previously non-living.

If the headline read "scientists bring wooly mamoth to life after 10,000 years of extinction" you would complain that it didn't count since a regular elephant mother was used as a surogate.

Well, actually, I'd complain it didn't count because the article has nothing to do with woolly mammoths.

But to be kinder to you, I'll pretend you proposed an article about woolly mammoths: I would say it didn't count because they didn't "bring it to life"; they "reintroduced" it. Restoring an old manuscript is not the same as creating a new work of literature.

Words mean things, Mercy; if you say something with words that don't mean what you're trying to say, you're lying.

What difference does it make

And this is why bad science is bad.

Anonymous Tom B October 19, 2013 11:55 AM  

Josh wrote:"I mean, you understand that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is real, but not scientific.

We can replicate this. I'm sure Nate will volunteer to shoot a Yankee politician at a theater. For science."

I was going to say I know just the politician, but that would get me a visit from the NSA and I'm out of instant coffee...

Anonymous shalalalalala October 19, 2013 11:44 PM  

"That's just the result in the current social framework and we can generate one in which those negative consequences don't happen."

or more simply, we stop calling them negative consequences. ta-da!!

Blogger Mercy Vetsel October 20, 2013 4:53 PM  

They reverse-engineered what's basically a machine code and then piggybacked it on an existing function. Hackers do this all the time.

So we all know what they did, but we're arguing over 1) how important this is and 2) whether the headline "scientists create life" is an exaggeration.

I like the computer analogy but I think a better analogy would be a child typing in, modifying, compiling and executing an entire PROGRAM for the first time and then making the claim "I created a working program".

Life creates life constantly and unless we're going to be really picky in assigning proximate causation, we could accurately say that billions of people called parents have created life.

But life only comes from life, right? In this case, I say for the first time the answer is no. DNA replication is the salient process by which life creates life and this time it was done by people using a DNA sequencer machine.

So we humans have been watching the programs run for millions of years. We've been able to run the programs and we've recently been able to crudely insert changes into programs. Now for the first time people have been able to enter in an ENTIRE program from scratch and run it.

So yes, this does constitute creating life and yes it's damn impressive.

Mercy

Blogger Mercy Vetsel October 20, 2013 4:55 PM  

I say for the first time [in the history of human existance] the answer is no. [Gotta preempt the pedants.]

Blogger Mercy Vetsel October 20, 2013 5:53 PM  

Let me first say that I love the blog and am only writing such a lengthy comment due to my respect for Vox and his willingness to go against the herd.

VD: I've been reading Kuhn's landmark Structure of Scientific Revolutions and it is eminently clear that we are rapidly approaching a crisis in biology, the sort of crisis that has historically led to new scientific paradigms.

This is a non sequitur, at least until Golf Pro's sensible request for the connection is filled in.

Again, you show that you haven't read Kuhn. He specifically describes how scientists will behave in the absence of a competing paradigm, which happens to precisely match how biologists are behaving today.

...for example? So now this doesn't sound like Kuhn but rather like Michael Denton. He wrote a book in 1986 called "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" that describes just such a Kuhnian revolution in the making.

The crisis Denton saw was that the biochemistry of supposedly closely related organisms was all over the map. Denton made his case without offering any alternative and his book was so compelling that one Michael Behe cites it as the clarion call that pushed him to challenge evolution, or at least on evolution at the microbiological level.

But alas, that was 1986. Shortly thereafter genome sequencing arrived and Denton found, to his utter surprise, that rather than obliterating neo-darwinian evolutionary theory, DNA sequencing spectacularly conformed to it. I don't have the language skills to say it any better than Michael Denton as he does in his recent books:

"One of the most surprising discoveries which has arisen from DNA sequencing has been the remarkable finding that the genomes of all organisms are clustered very close together in a tiny region of DNA sequence space forming a tree of related sequences that can all be interconverted via a series of tiny incremental natural steps"

Why yes, for rational and knowledgeable people who didn't accept evolution that must have indeed been "surprising" and "remarkable". This independent confirmation of evolution is so compelling that Dentonn now thinks not only that E by NS is WHAT happened but that it inevitably HAD to happen: Nature's Destiny.

So is this Kuhnian crisis that Denton detailed and which inspired Behe the very same one that VD is now talking about? Alas, we don't know because after several requests for clarification from Golf Pro, the position seems to be that it's OBVIOUS that there's a Kuhnian crisis in the works.

If it is the same crisis then hopefully I've cleared it up. If not, there must be more info available. Is Vox the only person the notice this the second major crisis in evolution in the last 30 years?

MY impression is the VD is not only fighting the last war -- he's fighting ON THE WRONG SIDE. The feminist horde HATES Darwin. No matter how many pretty pink ribbons of political correctness and Christian insults that Pinker weaves into his books, the unmistakably impression is that human nature matches uncomfortably well with the CHRISTIAN view of fallen man.

For feminimarxists this is utterly unacceptable. Rape, murder and greed aren't in our genes, they're in our bourgeois heterodoxy and in our class system.

So pity the poor rational biologist. Despite being trained in the most exiting and productive field of science of our day, he's got to deal with both irrational leftists and Christian defenders of the faith who agree on little else besides there hatred of Darwin.

Mercy

Anonymous Sigyn October 20, 2013 9:49 PM  

So we all know what they did, but we're arguing over 1) how important this is and 2) whether the headline "scientists create life" is an exaggeration.

2. Exaggeration insofar as the usual context of "create life" means "from stuff that wasn't living before", not "bred a new variant".

You know, I find it a standard quality of cults that they will divorce terms from their understood meaning, redefine them, and then claim that therefore, the cult's doctrines and pronouncements are true. You really, really need the genetic-engineering exercise here to be "creating life" in order to make the miraculous mundane and justify your whatever-you-want-to-believe, so you broaden the meaning until it just about has no meaning, and then claim that what we see here fits under the definition.

I can't believe I took the time out of my weekend to explain this to you, when I could be doing productive things like trimming my toenails...

But life only comes from life, right? In this case, I say for the first time the answer is no.

Despite the stereotypes, scientists do have lives--even lousy ones.

Blogger James Dixon October 21, 2013 8:56 AM  

> Now for the first time people have been able to enter in an ENTIRE program from scratch and run it.

That would be incorrect. More like replaced a subroutine in an existing program.

Anonymous Mercy Vetsel October 21, 2013 9:48 PM  

Dixon - No, they did indeed ENTER (as in type in) the entire program from scratch although you are correct that they didn't make any important changes.

Sigyn: You really, really need the genetic-engineering exercise here to be "creating life" in order to make the miraculous mundane and justify your whatever-you-want-to-believe, 

To the contrary, I think this leap forward in genetic engineering is absolutely amazing irrespective of whether it meets your or my definition of "creating life". Life creates life all the time by replicating DNA. Now people can artificially do this. Sorry if this offends you. If it helps, I don't think anyone is claiming that the compares to the ORIGINAL instance of life creation.

Mercy

Blogger James Dixon October 21, 2013 10:03 PM  

> To the contrary, I think this leap forward in genetic engineering is absolutely amazing

I agree. Which is why it's so silly to claim it's more than it is. It's quite a significant advance without the exaggeration.

> Now people can artificially do this.

The cell is still doing the replicating, not the people. :)

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