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RE: Speculation



   As far a science IN GENERAL, allow me to assure you there is ample
speculation in physics too, especially theoretical physics. :-)
Increasing the amount of "hard" data one accumulates does not necessarily
decrease speculation.  It usually reduces groundless or just plain mistaken
speculation, but it CAN imply more questions.  Thus spinning off improved
(or at least MORE specific & refined) speculation.  To me, Science is a
method, a process, a discipline.  It is advisable to limit speculation to
established facts, but (in a sense) speculation is a way of asking
questions.  That's where peer review comes in.  Many "anti-science" people
think we claim to have all the answers.  No serious, sober scientist claims
this.  What we have (IMHO) is a methodology for finding, defining,
examining, & testing data to establish facts FROM data.  As an old professor
of mine warned me aeons ago: "Don't invest too much emotional energy on any
theory.  At least, not so much that it clouds your judgment!
Work from data."

Dwight

        -----Original Message-----
        From:   Larry Febo [SMTP:larryf@capital.net]
        Sent:   Sunday, August 30, 1998 7:28 AM
        To:     dinosaur@usc.edu
        Subject:        Speculation


             I`ve just read Dr. Holtz article "What is Science, Anyway?"and
found it
        to be somewhat enlightening. It leaves me wondering though...
When
        should one be allowed to speculate? It seems noble to try and base
all
        scientific discussion on "hard evidence" alone. This makes for a
firm
        foundation in such fields as chemistry and physics, where tangible
evidence
        is abundant, and to an extent "universal", but when dealing with
        paleontological data, one must admit that a vast majority of the
"evidence"
        is just plain missing! This especially holds true, (unfortunately),
for the
        smaller specimens that would make up arboreal species, and extremely
scarce
        (one would think) would be the forms in transition, the veritable
"missing
        links" as it were. I don`t see why speculation into what these forms
might
        have been is in any way "unhealthy"or why it couldn`t be considered
as
        scientific, if established scientific principles were used as
determining
        factors in the inquiry. I think many inventions, at the forefront of
the
        "unknown" have come about through this form of healthy scientific
curiosity.
             On the other hand, I tend to become frightened at the thought
of
        establishing patterns of phylogenies based strictly on the fossils
at hand
        (I mean in cases where they are obviously few in number). As how can
we
        claim to know the truth when we KNOW that most of the evidence is
missing,
        and that a "universal" sampling is just not present?
             So, I think its ok to speculate, and actually call it theory
(or
        speculation), rather than established LAW. I see most anything
proposed in
        science to be just a "model", in constant need of refinement, and
probably
        nothing, as we know it should ever become fixed dogma.
             Which leads me to the point that...I have a theory that I`m
trying to
        refine,whose major premise is that endothermy in vertebrates, due to
its
        being a highly complex metabolic process,evolved only once in the
vertebrate
        line.This would lead me to conclude that the diapsid line most
likely
        evolved out of the synapsid , somewhere in the early- mid
Pennsylvanian,
        where they took to an arboreal habitat to develop their unique
        characteristics and send periodic offshoots to the ground to become
large,
        cursorial forms, i.e., Thecodonts, right on up to Dinosaurs, and
developing
        into Aves in their primary arboreal habitat .
             Now the fossil record, (as currently interpreted), "shows" that
        Diapsids evolved separately from an Anapsid condition, late in the
        Pennsylvanian, but this is based on only a small handful of fossil
        specimens. What I am argueing is that, in a case such as this, an
argument
        based upon physiological principles should take precedence over
scant
        paleontological evidence. What do you think?