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>>> <Tetanurae@aol.com> 06/24/98 08:37pm >>>
You said:
Most people who are not in science are quite ignorant of the processes
involved.  Quotes like the above from Feduccia help feed creationists'
rantings about the un-reality of evolution because of its percieved
impossibility, or confuse the educated, though still non-professional as to
what is actually going on.

To make such a statement as this is the strawman of all strawmen.  Not
only do many non-scientists fail to understand how science works but I
have found that there are quite a few scientists who don't understand it
either. I have read on this newsgroup a range of understandings of the
way science works and it seems rather limited, especially when it comes
to this issue.  Science does not work through the gathering of data to
support a theory (as I gather that many believe based on their posts) but
through data which do not support it in an attempt to negate or falsify it.

On this bandwidth I have read of how paleontologists are "continuing to 
gather evidence *for* the theropod-bird link."  Seldom have I read about
how they are attempting to refute the hypothesis of such a link. To do
that is what science is all about and, it seems to me, Feduccia has acted
in the highest tradition of the scientific spirit in that he actually tries to
refute the theory that everyone else seems to be attracted to like moths
to a flame.  He deserves a lot better personal consideration than he has
been given by many on this list.  He is surely not ignorant and I think most
of you know it.

The creationists don't give a bluejay's crissum about Alan Feduccia's
research or anyone else's.  Their argument is that because there is
disagreement among scientists about evolution, it must be a false
doctrine. It's the coin and not the sides of it that give them their
pseudo-ammunition.  Any disagreement is enough for them. The quotes
do not confuse anyone who is willing to pursue the details,
"professional" or not. Would you restrict the absolute responsibility of
scientists for falsification of theories and demand unity just to present a
united front to a bunch of lunatics?  That would be the ultimate
unscientific and indeed anti-scientific act.

Creationists are not going to do that no matter what because they see
one truth very clearly; that is that this is NOT a scientific issue.  I wish
that my fellow scientists could see it as clearly as they can.  It is and
always has been, for them, a political issue just as the heliocentric
universe was in Galileo's time.  The question then and now is not "does
the earth go around the sun?" or "did things evolve according to
impersonal law and without a creator?" but "who shall have the
Authority to say which way it is?"

And don't be so smug about these latest discoveries.  They may require
interpretation later on in the light of new interpretations and "new"
fossils.  Just as me and my buddy Hallucigenia have been reinterpreted,
these fossils may be reinterpreted by later scientists in light of a different
paradigm.  There may well be lurking in these rocks something we don't
yet know about that will screw things up.  For instance, has a
microscopic study of the bones been done?  Suppose these bones have
a peculiar histology that will require explaining with a different paradigm
from either Feduccia's point of view or yours.  There are too many things
we just do not know yet and we must never reach the point where we
so hypocritically say that we have "proved" the theory. A single datum
not explainable by the theory brings it down.  It is also clear that the digit
numbering problem may be such a datum.  It may turn out that an entirely
new theory is demanded.


CC: Alan Feduccia