Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coming to Terms [Theory of Science]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Something short today. It seems many people just don’t understand some basic definitions. Here’s one...

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-=[ Theory of Science ]=-

Evolution is just a theory. It is not a fact.


Many, many people tell me that we live in a nation of idiots -- an Idiocracy, if you will. As much as I love people, I can’t argue too well against this assertion. Take the denial of the scientific consensus on global warming and the above statement as two prime examples...

The word theory, in its scientific context, does not imply an opinion or an uncertainty. It means, “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena.” In other words, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. A clear distinction needs to be made between facts (things that can be observed and/or measured) and theories (explanations that correlate and interpret the facts.)

In the case of the theory of evolution, the following are some of the phenomena involved. All are facts:

  • Life appeared on earth more than two billion years ago;
  • Life forms have changed and diversified over life’s history;
  • Species are related via common descent from one or a few ancestors;
  • Natural selection is a significant factor affecting how species change.

Many other facts are explained by the theory of evolution as well.

The theory of evolution has proved itself in practice. It has useful applications in epidemiology, pest control, drug discovery, and many other areas. It is by far the most influential and important theory of the biomedical sciences.

Besides the theory, there is the fact of evolution, the observation that life has changed greatly over time. The fact of evolution was recognized even before Darwin’s theory, the theory of evolution explains the fact.

If the rationale, “only a theory,” were a valid objection, creationists would be also be issuing disclaimers about the theory of gravity, atomic theory, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of limits (on which calculus is based). The theory of evolution is no less valid than any of these. Even the theory of gravity receives serious challenges. Yet the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is still a fact.

Creationism, a sham science, is neither theory nor fact; it is, if I’m generous, merely an opinion. Since it explains nothing, it is useless. Please note how people of different political persuasions align themselves with theories and facts. Of course, facts are facts, regardless of denial. Creationists refuse to subject their “theories” to peer reviews, because they know they don’t fit the facts. Creation “scientists” are merely biblical fundamentalists who cannot accept anything contrary to their sectarian religious beliefs.

Reagan asserted that facts are stupid things, when in reality facts are stubborn things...

That’s it for today’s lesson...



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