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Definitions... and some other odds and ends



Jeff Poling <jpoling@dinosauria.com> wrote in response to a question
from "C. Laibly" <laibly@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>:

> See "What is parsimony, anyway?" in my Journal at
> http://www.dinosauria.com

Or more directly:

http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/misc/parsimony.htm

I do strongly advise anyone who wants to know what "parsimony" means
to check out that site or some other source.  The definition Jaime
Headden gave for "parsimonious" was just plain wrong.

In other matters, Ron Orenstein may have jumped the gun in presuming
that Caleb was trying to introduce Creationism here, but other than
that I think Ron was right on the money.  However, since some
confusion has been bandied about in that thread I'd like to try to
make sure that one thing is clear.  Caleb asked:

] My question is: How does evolution seem to know what to evolve or
] make one species evolve into next?

and George Olshevsky responded:

} By natural selection.

If George had carefully read Caleb's question, he probably wouldn't
have written that.  George's answer is essentially wrong.  Ron read
the question correctly when he responded:

| nobody in science thinks that evolution "knows what to evolve".

I'd have likely let this whole thing slide, but since another response
claimed George was right I thought it appropriate to step in and *try*
to clarify things.  Natural selection may appear to make things seem
intelligently designed after the fact, but it does not provide
foresight.

Finally, I think George did the right thing when he responded to an
assertion of an alleged problem with Alvarez' thinking ability:

} Well, perhaps. But so what?

Everyone please remember that even though personalities may shape
discourse and beliefs, what we're after here is scientific
understanding of the lives, deaths and remains of dinosaurs.
Discussion of personalities tends to make it difficult to focus on
more relevant issues.  It should be avoided for common sense reasons,
but if it isn't then it should be avoided for fear of the
consequences.  Stop me before I timeout again! :-)

--
Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)