Tuesday, December 05, 2006


DaveScot at uncommondescent (Dec 5th) has (again) been moaning about whether or not evolution can make predictions. Says he:

Essentially, ToE predicts nothing. It explains history after the fact which is a whole lot different than predicting something before it happens. Of what value is a theory with no predictive power? Why do we bother teaching our children a valueless theory of history that more often than not is disbelieved and causes so much strife? Just the facts, ma’am, please.

Later in a comment he also says:

Evolution doesn’t make predictions of ANY grain. The source of change in evolution is purportedly random mutation. Random mutations are by definition unpredictable. The theory cannot predict what mutations will occur, when they will occur, or what effect they will have. It’s without predictive value.
you buy the theory of evolution having predictive power you probably also believe that someone who has predictive power puts the lottery numbers on the slips of paper found in Chinese fortune cookies.

Apart from anything else, I think that DaveScot might be a tad confused about what a prediction actually is. What has to be predicted is a future observation. Whether or not the events that enabled us to make those observations happened 1, 1000 or a million years ago does not matter. So, given that evolution explains the diversity of life by the fact that life-forms share common ancestry we would predict that, for example, animals that are similar (say a cat and a dog) would have more of their genetic material in common than would animals that are less similar (say a cat and a cow). Evolutionary theories predict this, DaveScot. ID, on the other hand, can not make this prediction. A designer might have created all life-forms separately (it might have borrowed bits and pieces from other life-forms it already created or not as well when doing so) so that the genetic material of a cat could actually be more similar to an Amanita mushroom than it is to a dog's. Bottom line, evolution can predict, ID can't. Get with it, DaveScot.

In school, DaveScot also wants to teach only facts, no theories. That is extremely interesting.
Fact: people who smoke are more likely to die of cancer. Theory: smoking causes cancer. Should we not teach that theory?
Fact: The Sun rises and sets. Theory: the Earth rotates. Should we not teach that theory?

Let's elect DaveScot as minister for education. Schooling would be great.


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