PZ on Berlinski Edit
the date was 27 April 2010, use the I PZ wrote: http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/berlinski_i_cant_believe_im_wasting_time_on_this_guy or http://bit.ly/tEPgvH (Internet way back machine)
...One we should get out of way immediately is this "Darwin's theory" nonsense. We are not dealing with "Darwin's theory" anymore, but a much greater body of knowledge and concepts that has accumulated in the past century and a half, which includes one huge revision (the incorporation of genetics and population genetics) in the past, and which is being constantly updated right now. It is absolutely idiotic to criticize the modern study of life on the basis of one's misunderstanding of a preliminary proposal published in 1859. But this is the strategy that the IDiots have taken. It is insane....
...The differences are interesting. The similarities are interesting. The differences and similarities are maintained and generated by evolutionary mechanisms (please, not "Darwin", who didn't even have a theory of genetics).....
PZ is covering all his bases here making his theory Popper unfalsifiable. Anything that is in existence will have differences and/or similarities. Similar is the antonym of different, there are only two options. By stating that evolutionary mechanisms generate either of these two options, he demonstrates that such mechanism aren't falsifiable.
- David Berlinski -Look – Field studies attempting to measure natural selection inevitably report weak to non-existent selection effects.
pz reply: On one level, this is not a damaging observation at all. We do not expect everything to have a strong selection effect, and we expect most phenomena to be selectively neutral. This is like criticizing physicist's understanding of gravity because we weigh less on the moon, and we aren't all crushed into a thin pulpy layer of slime by the force of Earth's gravity.
Strong selection effects have been measured, for example in bacteria in response to antibiotics, and in insects in response to insectides, for instance in measurements of the frequency of allelic variants of the acetylcholinesterase gene in mosquitos.
NOTES: Strong, neutral and weak 'selection' covers all bases and thus Popper unfalsifiable.
Popper falsifiability Edit
This encapsulates Darwinian unfalsifiability:
Here was PZ’s reply: “I wish I could get that one thought into these guys heads: evolutionary theory predicts differences as well as similarities.” This is rich: If PZ is right, and evolutionary biology predicts both similarities and differences between vertebrate embryos, then it would seem that evolutionary biology really predicts nothing at all about development and is unfalsifiable regarding the evidence from vertebrate development. According to PZ, evolutionary theory predicts whatever it predicts, conserves whatever it conserves, and modifies whatever it modifies. Some theory.
Get back to this Edit
et's fix Egnor's erroneous reduction. "living things vary heritably and survivors survive" doesn't reduce to l"survivors survive". More accurately, it should be "living things vary heritably and better adapted variants survive and increase their frequency in the next generation". That is not a tautology. We can assess degrees of adaptation to local conditions independently of simple survival.