[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

SCIENCE ANYONE?



Back on 31 Jan 2002, Philidor11 wrote on the definition of science:
<<Pete, you guys couldn't wait to get in grapple with the details, could you?
Try taking a step back further; how about something like:
Science:  the view that reality can be apprehended and manipulated to reach a consciously formulated goal.  Okay, that's off the top of my head, but it's close to what you're doing and assuming, right?>>

In a word no.  Science ideally is not goal oriented.  Science ideally is you and I go out in the world and look at stuff and say, "Hey that's weird, maybe this is why that is."  And then we test our hypothesis the only way you can: trying to demonstrate that you're wrong.  

Additionally, I have problems with your wording "reality . . . manipulated to reach a consciously formulated goal."  Science and the scientist cannot remain objective observers and collectors of data if we're manipulating reality, especially if we're manipulating reality to fit it into a preconceived notion of how reality SHOULD be.  That my friend is the anti-science, the non-science, the opistho-science, the para-science, the pseudo-science way of looking at reality.

<<The mechanism used is the scientific method, and one of a number
of key elements (including replication and prediction) is singularity:
you haven't solved a problem if you have two equally unrefuted
and contradictory solutions, have you?  Both A and not A cannot
be true.  So, is cladistic analysis in paleontology science?>>

In a word yes.  Cladograms are PHYLOGENETIC HYPOTHESES, they are not statements of absolute truth writ with the knowlege of the creator of the universe.  How do you resolve two conflicting hypotheses?  You test them.  How do you test conflicting phylogenetic hypotheses?  For starters, you combine the data in the two competing hypotheses and see what comes up.  Perhaps it's one of the previous hypotheses, perhaps it's something new and different.

The point I have been making, and will continue to make is that a phylogenetic hypothesis, a cladogram, is the DATA telling you OBJECTIVELY what the hypothesis should and could be.  The just-so-story of Linnean systematicists is again, the anti-scientific way of looking at reality.

<<That's different from the question, what system of taxonomy best
meets the requirements for a system of classifying animals?
As HP Holtz points out very correctly, these are two separate
questions.>>

You're right, they are different questions, but they come up with the same answer if we look at the question with our Objective Scientist Goggles (tm) on.  Are just-so-stories concerning relatedness more objective than computers analyzing data?  Do I even need to answer?  Are ranks which have no basis in reality whatsoever and no definition except in relation to other ranks objective?  Or is the naming of super-specific taxa based on objectively obtained hypotheses of evolutionary history more objective?  Hmm... the Goggles (tm) say objectivity is more objective.

<<HP Kinsman [sic] is trying to merge two systems of classification in
order to find one which meets all the requirements.  I don't
think his effort will work, cladistics introduces too frequent
change and too much subjectivity, I think, but he could surprise
me.  It's an honorable intent.>>

Are you kidding?  Phylogenetic Taxonomy is infinately MORE stable because it has anchors that are absolute, ie there will ALWAYS be at least TWO animals that are dinosaurs: _Triceratops_ and _Corvus_, but with Linnean groupings there's no such system of anchors, and subjectivity rules the day, so there's absolutely no guarantee that Dinosauria sensu Linne will have the same content in 2054 as it did in 1954.

<<At any rate, which are we talking about, the relation of cladistic
analysis to science, or the requirements of a classification
system?  I'm kind of confused from your post.>>

Um, quite clearly it's, "Is Linnean or Kinmaniformian Systematics more scientific than Cladistic Analysis and Phylogenetic Taxonomy?"

Pete Buchholz
Tetanurae@aol.com