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May 31, 2007

Comments

Thomas

By that logic, we shouldn't have ever used Newtonian mechanics then, because it was only the best theory at the time and was inadequately supported by evidence. To be honest, I don't think we should be hard on people from ancient history who believed in crazy things, because the fact of the matter is they were going with what was the best explanation at the time. I have no problem with that. Sure, the world was flat once and so on, but there was no alternative to believe in until science and experience created one. To this day, there are a great many things we "know" that most likely aren't exactly true. We know that General Relativity works to amazing precision on the cosmological scale, and we know that Quantum Mechanics works to amazing precision on the quantum level, and yet somehow these two theories are at base incompatible. This means that they are both good guesses, but are most likely wrong in the finer details, much as Newtonian mechanics was shown to be wrong. So no, I don't think "I don't know" is ever a good place to leave it, mostly because it's not practical in the least. It's always better to have a working theory, and to apply it, and to revise it, and scrap it, and to create another working theory, etc. Imagine how music and art would be if we just took the "I don't know" approach. No one would ever even get started. Agnosticism, humble though it may be, is exceedingly useless as a philosophical position. It is the refuge of cowards afraid to take their stab at the ultimate Truth, to try and to fail. All non-agnostics are failures, no doubt, but at least they are trying, and to me that's more important than always not being wrong.

Nathan Smith

Newtonian mechanics was adequately supported by the evidence and still is. Relativity only moderates the extreme cases, or makes infinitesimal adjustments in everyday situations.

Nato

"Newtonian mechanics was adequately supported by the evidence and still is."

If we used Newtonian mechanics for GPS calculations, then they would be quite inaccurate. That implies it is, in some sense "wrong." Not wrong like phrenology, of course, but certainly expositive of the fact that Newtonian mechanics does not describe how the world works at its base. It's a quibble and at other times I'd take Nathan's view, but it has to be called out because it's relevant in the ways modern scientific theories (including evolution) are likely to be "disproven."

A side note regarding the evolution of the eye:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

Nato

And while I'm at it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_flagella

From the article:
"Testable outlines exist for the origin of each of the three motility systems, and avenues for further research are clear; for prokaryotes, these avenues include the study of secretion systems in free-living, nonvirulent prokaryotes. In eukaryotes, the mechanisms of both mitosis and cilial construction, including the key role of the centriole, need to be much better understood. A detailed survey of the various nonmotile appendages found in eukaryotes is also necessary"

While of course this is the product of some random Wiki editor, but it could have come from Christian DeDuve himself. Evolution is testable, even if we can't make clearly veridical macroevolution happen in human timescales. Neither can we make black holes for the purpose of experiment, but we can work out what their signatures would be and look for them.

Nathan Smith

The quote, of course, does not suggest ways of testing the theory of evolution, but particular sub-theories within it. Very likely, those sub-theories could be fitted into the framework of another theory.

Newtonian physics is an excellent approximation of the truth for almost all practical purposes. As such it can be incorporated into Einsteinian relativity as a special case: "When things are moving at very slow speeds, relative to light, they behave *almost* according to such-and-such laws..."

It's hard to see how there could be a parallel with evolution. Of course we could say that for practical purposes a process of natural selection and descent with modification are operative, and they generally maintain equilibrium and sometimes cause organisms to change over time. This kind of truncated Darwinism, like truncated Newtonian physics, could certainly be fitted into many other theories; heck, even young-earth creationism might acknowledge this as a special case! But the historical extrapolations and the habit of treating evolution as an explanation of all life-- the mythical aspect of evolution-- is a far more essential part of the theory than with Newtonian physics. Newtonian physics was never science-mixed-with-myth; it was science.

Nato

Though I wholeheartedly dispute some of Nathan's objections to evolutionary theory (e.g. I don't think it commits anyone to materialism, nihilism or anything like that) I think there are some genuine edge cases on which I can't entirely disagree. Nathan's complaint about science-as-myth is one.

I still mostly disagree, of course, since I think working biologists are - within their actual work, at least - quite pragmatic and "truncated" with regard to their claims. Further, the "or maybe not" alternative to any claim remains everpresent as the null hypothesis. However, when biologists and others enter into pedagogy, they usually drop caveats and limitations that would clutter the narrative. There's a will to myth-make, in a sense, because good stories are more fun than graphs of statistical distributions and geochemical analysis and tend to connect with an audience. Physicists are also guilty of this, of course, because the actual mathematics in which most high energy research deals is meaningless to a layperson. The difference of course is that physicists make myths about stuff one can't see because it's too small while biologists make myths about stuff one can't see because it's in the past. Rarely do they address the controversies because they are controversial and, even more, complicated so that even when they address the controversies they can only communicate a caricature.

Of course, both physicists and biologists are fond of the dramatic pronouncements, and journalists even more so. So Nathan's not wrong to say that there's mythmaking going on. I just think it's going on more generally and that only the stuff that (to him) has ruinous implications gets tagged for it.

Thomas

I agree with Nato's assessment. No one contributing here in this blog is advocating myth-making. Nathanael suggests that all of macro-evolution is myth-making and is thus undesirable, whereas Nato and I claim that macro-evolution may contain elements of myth-making depending on the biologist, but in general, evolution is inference based on evidence, just like all the other sciences. Another way to look at it would be to simply forget about the name evolution and simply make inferences and predictions based on the empirical data. Those inferences and predictions must fall under some sort of scientific realm of inquiry, and if you don't want to call it evolution, then be our guest and come up with a different name for it.

Nathan Smith

"Nathan's not wrong to say that there's mythmaking going on. I just think it's going on more generally and that only the stuff that (to him) has ruinous implications gets tagged for it."

Whether or not evolution has disastrous implications is irrelevant. If evolution is true, we have to embrace it regardless of the consequences. One cannot believe what one merely wants to believe for some reason, or what is useful.

I don't think physicists engage in myth-making. Maybe string theory is a bit... speculative... And I can't quite figure out what the evidence is for quarks. But generally physics meets the Popperian standard.

Val Larsen

Nathaniel writes:

I would elaborate on this by saying that there are certain philosophical positions such as skepticism and solipsism which cannot be refuted and which are ultimately compulsory if one wishes to adhere rigorously to the principle of sufficient reason (that is, the principle that one must believe nothing without sufficient reason, which characterized the thought of Descartes and I think of Hume, Kant, and others), and yet which would lead to madness and moral nihilism, respectively, if adopted; and which, as a psychological matter, it is impossible for us actually to adopt. The contraries of these philosophical positions I call meta-beliefs or faith-propositions, and they can be vaguely characterized as (1) "there are patterns in the world," and (2) "there are other people." I call the adherence to these unprovable yet indelible beliefs "faith."

And he writes

Not me. If the explanations on offer are inadequately supported by the evidence, you shouldn't accept them just because there is nothing better. You should say: we don't know.

I think these two positions are inconsistent. Since no adequate evidence under the rule of sufficient reason can be given to affirm that there are patterns in the world (or even that there is a world) and that there are other people, shouldn’t we be saying “we don’t know” with respect to those things rather than taking them on faith? If psychological necessity is an adequate warrant for a belief, then many religious truths—especially the existence of God--become indubitable for many people on the same grounds as those Nathaniel uses to affirm “there are patterns in the world” and “there are other people”, i.e., the person would go mad or become a moral relativist if they lost the belief. And for some people, it may be a matter of psychological necessity that they have a working hypothesis, Darwinian or otherwise, on the origin of life and of the universe.

Since the rule of sufficient reason is inadequate to the reality we must live in, all of us must believe some things on pragmatic grounds—because they are useful, for example, is helping us avoid “madness and moral relativism,” or in getting along with others or in making sense of a constellation of facts about the world, as Darwinism tries to do.

Tom is on firm ground when he says “you still have to account for the evidence somehow.” On many important questions, we must have a working hypothesis that organizes our thoughts and actions even though there is, in principle, no way to be certain that the hypothesis is true. Even if we say “we don’t know,” we can’t/don't let our not knowing paralyze us. We act taking as our guide the hypothesis that seems to account for the facts most adequately.

Nathaniel seems to make a fetish of certitude, though when pressed, he admits it is, in principle, unattainable (as Hume demonstrated) except, perhaps, in very limited domains like mathematics.

Val Larsen

Nathaniel's stance with respect to evolution fails on Popperian grounds: it is unfalsifiable. To demonstrate that this is not true, he must tell us what evidence could be adduced to establish that the Darwinian account of evolution is in fact valid. I think what he has done is adopt an epistemology that credits only multaplicative corroboration, i.e., claims that can be tested through replicable experiment here and now. No claim about the past can ever meet that standard, so given Nathaniel's epistemology, there can be no science with respect to things that happened in the past. Not only evolutionary biology but also geology is, in principle, ruled out as a possible science. Both (and any claim about the past) can be corroborated only structurally, not multiplicatively.

Nathan Smith

Val defends non-certain beliefs as follows:

"Since the rule of sufficient reason is inadequate to the reality we must live in, all of us must believe some things on pragmatic grounds—because they are useful, for example..."

That won't do. How can we know that a belief is useful without circularity. If you say, "Induction has worked for us in the past," the implication is that the pattern of induction working will continue, but that is the type of inference whose validity Hume undermines. Anyway, how do we know that induction was *ever* useful to us? We did X and welcome occurrence Y followed, but how can we know-- without induction-- that X *caused* Y? Pragmatism in epistemology offers no escape from skepticism because judgments about what beliefs are useful are at least as vulnerable to skepticism as judgments about what beliefs are true.

Val writes: "for some people, it may be a matter of psychological necessity that they have a working hypothesis, Darwinian or otherwise, on the origin of life and of the universe."

I do not believe that it can ever be a psychological necessity to believe in the Darwinian or any other working hypothesis in anything like the same sense that the meta-belief that "there are patterns in the world" is a psychological necessity. I know this by introspection. I cannot imagine a world utterly without order, and I cannot accept Hume's anti-induction argument; I could assent to it verbally and even intellectually at some level, but I would continue to apply induction all the time, thus proving that the Humean skeptical belief hadn't really sunk in. Likewise with other people: I could perhaps assent verbally and intellectually to solipsism, believing that other people are soulless automata, irrelevant to morals; yet I would still feel guilt if I shot them. By contrast, I can easily do without a working hypothesis about how the world came to be. And I will not hesitate to claim that so can all other people; I can claim this confidently because it is part of the definition of a person. For I define a person as beings analogous to myself, and I understand other people with the help of introspection; knowledge of what *I* am like enables me to understand others. A being in whom a belief in Darwinian evolution was indelibly part of themselves, such that even if they were persuaded of its falsity they would still betray in every inference and action a continuing belief that it is true... Such a being would simply not *be* a person. I am utterly unable to understand such a being. If such a being existed, I would not know whether it had a soul or a subjective point of view, and if it did that subjectivity would be too different for me to be able to understand it.

Of course-- and this is totally different-- there are plenty of people who feel discomfort at not knowing something, and who are too cowardly to face this discomfort and so accept whatever explanation comes to hand. But people can choose to step out of complacency and question their beliefs.

Is the belief in God an example of meta-belief? I think that it is; but this is much less clear to me than is the case with patterns and other people. If the belief in God is one of these ("faith") meta-beliefs, it has an interesting implication: Many would believe in God who don't say they do, and who might not even realize that they do.

Nathan Smith

Val raises the interesting question of the epistemology of geology. But I think there's a difference between geology and evolution, as the names suggest: geology is the study of the earth, not any particular theory about it; whereas evolution is not merely a topic but a hypothesis. A Popperian epistemology does not require replicable experiments. It can be based on observation rather than experiment. Given that not all data about the extant physical evidence about the past is known, there can be "predictions" about what future excavations will show.

I don't know geology well enough to know whether it does, in practice, meet the Popperian test. But it seems like a geology that meets Popperian standards should be possible.

Val Larsen

Nathaniel writes:

That won't do. How can we know that a belief is useful without circularity. If you say, "Induction has worked for us in the past," the implication is that the pattern of induction working will continue, but that is the type of inference whose validity Hume undermines. Anyway, how do we know that induction was *ever* useful to us? We did X and welcome occurrence Y followed, but how can we know-- without induction-- that X *caused* Y? Pragmatism in epistemology offers no escape from skepticism because judgments about what beliefs are useful are at least as vulnerable to skepticism as judgments about what beliefs are true.

This comment misses the point of my argument. I am claiming that we can act on a belief and find it fruitful without KNOWING that it is true. Everyone does this all the time. Indeed, given how difficult (in fact, as Hume demonstrated, impossible) it is to KNOW virtually anything, almost all of our beliefs are held pragmatically. We can’t act without a theory of how the world works. And though we can probably never KNOW that our theory is correct, the utility of one theory, disutility of another becomes manifest in experience. Thus, we don’t have to KNOW that induction is valid reasoning to rely upon it. Pragmatism doesn’t try to offer an escape from skepticism. It takes it as a presupposition. Our beliefs must be held provisionally because we cannot know indubitably that many (if any) of them are true. But certitude isn’t necessary for utility and action.

I was not claiming that Darwinism is psychologically necessary but rather that for some people, a theory about the origin of life and the universe might be psychologically necessary. Darwinism would then be the belief that fills that necessary slot in the welt anshaung for some people. But again, that is not my main point. The main point is that psychological necessity doesn’t have anything to do with KNOWING the TRUTH. Something may be psychologically necessary to avoid madness and moral nihilism without being true. Undoubtedly, there is some variance from one person to another on just what beliefs meet the psychologically necessary standard, so if psychological necessity had any probative value, the TRUTH would vary from one person to another, which is absurd.

Nathan Smith

Wait! I let this argument slip past without refuting it!

"Nathaniel's stance with respect to evolution fails on Popperian grounds: it is unfalsifiable. To demonstrate that this is not true, he must tell us what evidence could be adduced to establish that the Darwinian account of evolution is in fact valid."

This is a bit confused. In Popper's view, there is never any evidence that proves the account *valid.* What would make the Darwinian account of evolution *a genuine scientific theory* would be if it were generative of an infinite array of highly specific predictions, any one of which, if not observed, would in principle falsify the entire theory; and in practice would call the theory into question and force refinements which would in turn need testing, and could lead in short order to the abandonment of the theory if the new facts could not be accommodated. In the case of gravity, any floating rock would in principle falsify the hypothesis; in practice, there are a few things we would have to check for (Is it full of helium? Is there a magnetic field lifting? Is it resting on an invisible solid object? etc.). If the simple explanations failed, the floating rock would be a huge scandal, would call urgently for explanation, and would shake the theory of gravity to its foundations.

We would need an evolutionary equivalent of the floating rock.

I'd add two more conditions for falsifiability. First, the prediction would have to be made by, in some sense, the theory of evolution *as a whole*. If the prediction comes from some subset or component within the theory that can potentially be independent, it doesn't count. Thus the so-called "genetic drift," the fact that related organisms have similarities in their non-functional DNA and proteins, can easily be framed as a prediction of *taxonomy*-- "Animals are organized into phyla, classes, families, genuses, etc., and there are degrees of distance in their relationships, and similar animals have similar DNA"-- while the natural-history dimension is certainly fun and interesting but is ultimately superfluous to the prediction itself. Similarly, a radically anachronistic organism-- if we were to find, for example, the fossil of a reindeer in rock dating to the Jurassic period-- would certain be a "floating rock" in the sense that it would be profoundly surprising and at odds with the Darwinian system; but the sub-theory from which this prediction emerges is simply the idea that animals tend to live in populations and are adapted to a certain ecology. My parsimonious alternative Darwinian theory, the "Darwinian theory of imperfect ecosystemic homeostasis," would make the same prediction, without making the grandiose claims that all life on earth originated in this fashion.

Val Larsen

Nathaniel needs to address this question: what evidence could, in principle, falsify his hypothesis that Darwinism is not scientifically valid? If he cannot supply any evidence, then—if Popper is correct--he is not engaged in scientific argumentation when he denies the validity of Darwinism. His theory has the same status as Marxism or Freudianism.

The concession that a geologist might make a prediction about what will be discovered in the future to confirm their hypothesis about the past gives a great deal away to the Darwinians. They certainly predict that certain things—e.g., transitional life forms--will be found in certain strata. If paleontology subsequent to the Origin of Species had shown that all life forms were randomly distributed through the geologic strata, that would probably have disproved the theory of evolution, at least with respect to the life forms on this earth. Similar kinds of evidence—the agreement of fact with fact that characterizes structural corroboration--are needed to validate plate techtonics and evolution. In both cases, there are many pieces of supporting evidence, and it is pretty easy to come up with evidence that would falsify the theory. It is not equally clear to me that evidence could invalidate Nathaniel’s claim that Darwinian evolution is unsound.

Nathan Smith

"I am claiming that we can act on a belief and find it fruitful without KNOWING that it is true."

To "find it fruitful" means to gain "knowledge", in some sense (not necessarily certain knowledge), that it is useful, or else the phrase is meaningless. To gain knowledge about the usefulness of a belief, induction must be applied. To accept induction because it is useful is circular. So pragmatism is irrelevant here. It doesn't do any work. If we "presuppose" skepticism, pragmatism is defeated just as surely as everything else.

"I was not claiming that Darwinism is psychologically necessary but rather that for some people, a theory about the origin of life and the universe might be psychologically necessary."

I deny this, and my grounds are as follows: I am a person, and introspection is my primary source of evidence about the nature of people. It does not follow that all people are identical to me of course, for I am aware within myself of a vast array of potentialities not realized, and others could have realized those potentialities, or others which I did not imagine. Nonetheless, I know something of what is essential about myself through introspection. I know that the belief in patterns is indelible; if I try to abandon that assumption I will get nowhere. But I know that it is *NOT* psychologically necessary to have a theory of the origins of life and the universe. I know that I could have fallen into that fallacy myself; I know that I would be mistaken if I did so; therefore I also give no credence if someone else tells me that it is psychologically necessary for them to have a belief about the origin of life and the universe, just as I give no credence to the child who says his teddy bear is alive.

Val writes:

"Undoubtedly, there is some variance from one person to another on just what beliefs meet the psychologically necessary standard..."

No. First, this claim is certainly not "undoubtable"; on the contrary, how could it ever be proven? Can I enter into the minds of others and see what is psychologically necessary for them? One can't draw such a conclusion on the basis of observation, of course, for "necessary" implies a constraint on potentialities and potentialities are not observable: we can observe, perhaps, whether a man believes X; but not whether, disbelieving it, he *could* come to believe X.

I know enough of the nature of myself and my own freedom to know that I could live without an overarching theory of the origins of the universe; indeed, I *DO* live that way, for the vague Orthodox belief that God created the world says nothing about the details and doesn't really count as a theory, and in any case that belief is an abstract commitment accepted rather than believed, as part of a system of belief in *other parts of which* I have found great wisdom; I can accept Divine Creation passively without understanding it in a certain minimal way because of its irrelevance-- as far as I can tell-- to everyday life; but I would not even call this a belief in the same full-blooded sense as many other beliefs I hold. I can only understand what a person is by analogy to myself; so if others differ me as fundamentally as this, if they lack this deep intellectual freedom, *they are simply not the same kind of beings as me,* and there is no justification for coining a term like "person" that refers to both me and them.

Nathan Smith

Val's last comment I think I have already addressed. Since we submitted the comments at about the same time, perhaps he didn't read mine?

Val Larsen

What evidence would constitute a test of the competing standard Darwinian theory and the "Darwinian theory of imperfect ecosystemic homeostasis"? Are there predictions each theory would make that support the affirmed theory and deny the alternative theory?

Val Larsen

I misspoke in saying that Nathaniel must say what evidence would show that the Darwinian theory is valid. What I meant to say--and did later say--is that Nathaniel must tell us what evidence could invalidate his critique of the Darwinian position. My focus is on the scientific status of Nathaniel's argument against traditional Darwinism, not on Darwinism per se. I think his argument against Darwinism may have the same status as Freudianism and Marxism, i.e., be in principle unrefutable by evidence.

Nathan Smith

The Darwinian theory of imperfect ecosystemic homeostasis is a truncated version of the standard Darwinian theory. It contains nothing that the standard Darwinian theory doesn't; the difference is in what it omits. It omits, of course, the claim that *all* life originated "just so." It omits any confident claim that natural selection and descent with modification can cause organisms to change more than human breeding is able to do, without denying that it is possible or even likely that this may have happened; but, unfortunately, our limited historical horizons preclude us from having adequate evidence about the power of these mechanisms to change creatures over time for us to make any strong claims. It omits the claim that something as complex as the eye could have evolved by mere chance, without denying that such things *might* be possible; but this we certainly don't know, and probably never will. The emphasis is not on natural history, nor on (what we usually don't observe:) evolution; but rather on (what we do observe:) how ecosystems maintain equilibrium, or homeostasis. The theory recognizes that the mechanisms which generally serve to maintain equilibrium in ecosystems can also, over time, subtly and gradually change the ecosystems and the organisms within them; but how far and how fast this process can go is beyond what the evidence can tell us.

So what would be examples of testable predictions made by the standard Darwinian theory, but not by the truncated theory? Focus on the features unique to the larger theory, such as macro-evolution. We could set up a million planets in a laboratory, install ecosystems consisting of primitive eyeless organisms, then watch for a few hundred million years and see if creatures with eyes emerged on any of them. If eyes did evolve, that would prove that it was at least possible. If eyes evolved on many worlds we could start to frame and test hypotheses about *under what conditions* eyes evolve; then we could see if those conditions obtained on the ancient earth... But of course, we can't perform such experiments.

So in practical terms, are there testable implications of the grander Darwinian theory? Well, I don't think there are. I don't think there is a floating rock to ultra-Darwinism.

Val Larsen

Fruitfulness may be defined as a subjective judgement that I am benefitted/satisfied/given pleasure/avoid pain. That kind of self knowldge is probably inseparable from consciousness. It is what Nathaniel appeals to to validate induction--he accepts the validity of induction because it allows him to avoid madness, a condition he wishes to avoid. He affirms induction on what I am calling pragmatic grounds but can only do so because he has a capacity to know and feel the consequences of believing/not believing in induction, that is logically prior to the belief in induction itself. I think one could also deny induction on pragmatic grounds, because one finds the beleif that the universe is random and meaningless more satisfying than the belief that it is ordered. So one need not affirm induction in order to say a belief is fruitful. The judgement of fruitfulness is more basic and prior to the judgement that induction is valid. It follows that the claim that pragmatism is circular is invalid. Indeed, Nathaniel has offered nothing but a pragmatic defense of his belief in patterns and persons.

Nathan Smith

I should mention that I'm not sure "turnabout is fair play" applies here. If you were to ask Popper himself, "What observable fact would disprove your theory about the conjectural nature of scientific knowledge?", I suppose he would reply that the question was inappropriate. Popper is designing a criterion for distinguishing scientific knowledge from other kinds of knowledge; he would not and does not need to claim that his own theory is scientific. It's a bit like throwing the umpire out of the game because he failed to swing a bat at three consecutive strikes.

On the other hand, if I am going to claim that Darwinism is unfalsifiable regardless of what is said or demonstrated to the contrary, that's a problem.

Let me turn the question around. We agree, I think, that gravity is a falsifiable scientific theory. If I were to claim that gravity is unfalsifiable, how would this claim be falsified? We can then (attempt to) apply the same method of falsification to my claim that evolution is unfalsifiable.

Val Larsen

While God could do it, it will never be possible for a human being to do a laboratory experiment with a million planets. But it might be possible to adequately model the process using computers. If what seemed to be an adequate model of the physical world were created and eyes evolved in some of the million modeled worlds, would that settle the question in favor of ultra-Darwinism as opposed to your more truncated version? Those kinds of experiments are being done now, though not with fully adequate computer models of all physical forces in the world.

Nathan Smith

"he accepts the validity of induction because it allows him to avoid madness, a condition he wishes to avoid."

No. If the truth would drive me mad, madness is a price I must pay. In the case of induction, though, I have no choice in the matter. My belief that there is order in the world is ineradicable. I can formally deny it; I cannot escape it.

"Fruitfulness may be defined as a subjective judgement that I am benefitted/satisfied/given pleasure/avoid pain."

But how do you know that belief X *caused* the benefit/satisfaction/pleasure/pain? Through induction, if at all. A belief in induction is a prerequisite for pragmatism.

Nathan Smith

"...though not with fully adequate computer models of all physical forces in the world."

Uh, yeah. I don't see how the "model" could be satisfactory with less data than the world itself, for whatever data was modified or omitted would probably be relevant.

I should add that even if the million-worlds-in-a-laboratory did lead to the evolution of the eye, this would not really prove that eyes had evolved on earth...

Suppose I think that my wife, a secretary, cheated on me with the charming, handsome lawyer of loose morals whom she works for. If I run an experiment with a million offices, a million brilliant seducers, and a million married secretaries, and I find that 900,000 of the secretaries cheat, that doesn't really tell me whether my wife cheated or not. Even if all 1 million secretaries cheat, my wife *might* still be innocent.

This clarifies for me another difference between evolution and other sciences that I hadn't quite realized. Other sciences study natural *laws*; evolution is ultimately about an *event,* a *story.*...

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