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Author Topic:   Helping a Friend about the Nature of Science
Tram law
Member (Idle past 4781 days)
Posts: 283
From: Weed, California, USA
Joined: 08-15-2010


Message 1 of 41 (574351)
08-15-2010 12:53 PM


This is my first topic here.
I will admit that I don't know a lot or understand a lot about evolution. But I am not against it, just indifferent to it. I do have a greater understanding of how science works though.
But I have a friend who is staunchly against it because he is both religious and anti-authoritarian. I also feel he does not even have a true understanding of how science works.
So one thing I want to tell him is that the different breeds of dog and the domesticated banana would not have happened if Evolution were incorrect.
But I'm sure he'll find something wrong with that though. Because he feels that the way science works is that you do whatever you can to find something wrong with a scientific fact, and it could be any little thing wrong, then it calls into question the entire body of work. In other words science must be correct the first time and must be one hundred percent correct and if not then the entire body of work is wrong, period.
I've tried to tell him science doesn't work that way and have shown him multiple websites that agree. But he refuses to budge.
I guess that it's because he just wants to be right more than anything else.
So what do you think? Is my question about the different breeds of dogs and the domesticated banana in relation to evolution correct? If so, how is it correct?
Edited by Tram law, : misspelling and needed to add a little more information.
Edited by Admin, : Change title.

Replies to this message:
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Admin
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Message 2 of 41 (574478)
08-16-2010 7:26 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Helping a Friend about the Nature of Science thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Huntard
Member (Idle past 2371 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


(1)
Message 3 of 41 (574487)
08-16-2010 8:10 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
08-15-2010 12:53 PM


Hello Tram law, and welcome to EvC!
Tram law writes:
But I have a friend who is staunchly against it because he is both religious and anti-authoritarian.
He is anti-authoritarian yet accepts the authority of the bible/god?
I also feel he does not even have a true understanding of how science works.
Step one would be explaining that to him then.
So one thing I want to tell him is that the different breeds of dog and the domesticated banana would not have happened if Evolution were incorrect.
Well, yes. Although they did not happen by "evolution" as a purely natural thing, since humans did the selecting, and not nature (hence, this is mutation and artificial selection, as opposed to natural selection, that happens in nature).
But I'm sure he'll find something wrong with that though.
I'm not sure what, and unless you give an example we can't help you with a response.
Because he feels that the way science works is that you do whatever you can to find something wrong with a scientific fact, and it could be any little thing wrong, then it calls into question the entire body of work. In other words science must be correct the first time and must be one hundred percent correct and if not then the entire body of work is wrong, period.
Which is stupid. Showing that one thing is wrong does not mean another, completely unrelated (or even a related) thing is wrong. For example, 2+2=5 is worng, yet 2+2=4 is right. And these are related, since it's both math. But if he really feels this way, tell him we should release all murderers, since if he doesn;t trust science to come up with reliable info, then they were convicted without evidence, since none of it can be trusted, according to him.
I've tried to tell him science doesn't work that way and have shown him multiple websites that agree. But he refuses to budge.
Well, if he simply refuses, I doubt there is anything you can say that will change his mind, other then just repeating your points time and time again.
I guess that it's because he just wants to be right more than anything else.
Science is the only reliable method to finding out what is "right". Also, tell him that he should not be afraid to be wrong, for every time he finds out he is wrong he will have learned something that is true.
So what do you think? Is my question about the different breeds of dogs and the domesticated banana in relation to evolution correct? If so, how is it correct?
Well, like I said, it's evidence that mutations and selection can lead to a result. In this case the selective pressure was for a nice and edible banana or a certain type of dog. In nature, the selective pressure can be for a certain colour, or a certain other trait.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tram law, posted 08-15-2010 12:53 PM Tram law has not replied

  
Tram law
Member (Idle past 4781 days)
Posts: 283
From: Weed, California, USA
Joined: 08-15-2010


Message 4 of 41 (574546)
08-16-2010 3:06 PM


quote:
I'm not sure what, and unless you give an example we can't help you with a response.
Well, for example, he says that since the entire DNA has been mapped it can't be traced all the way back to the beginning nor does it reveal what the ancestor of humans were, so that calls into question the entire concept of Evolution.
quote:
He is anti-authoritarian yet accepts the authority of the bible/god?
Well, he had bad experiences with school authorities who claimed he was autistic and wanted to drug him all to hell to control him because he was hyperactive. Because they thought he was autistic, they often put him in the wrong classes and ignored his interests. So I think that's the biggest influence on him wanting to be right so much. He does have some intelligence, but he is very myopic when he argues, in that he has a certain set of beliefs and they are very black and white and can't see other side of the coin. For example, he thinks that not allowing children in school to pray only forces atheism in school is a violation of civil rights of the religious students, and I even showed him a video on you tube about girl who was kicked out of school for not participating in prayer.
The points I was trying to show him was the divisiveness that religion causes, and that it can encourage bullying in school, and that she should sue the school for discrimination and violation of her civil rights. But he responds with that's just forcing atheism on the students. (Please note that is meant to show an example of how he pokes holes in anything he can to be right and is not meant to go off topic.)
And it's just frustrating to tell him that it's not and how mistaken that he truly is.

Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1481 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 5 of 41 (574586)
08-16-2010 7:18 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
08-15-2010 12:53 PM


Hi Tram law and welcome to the fray.
Interesting problem. Don't know how accurate the diagnoses was, but I have had some experience with autistic children, and it can vary a lot. Some of it leads to black and white thinking.
I think it is wonderful that you want to help.
I also feel he does not even have a true understanding of how science works.
Because he feels that the way science works is that you do whatever you can to find something wrong with a scientific fact, and it could be any little thing wrong, then it calls into question the entire body of work. In other words science must be correct the first time and must be one hundred percent correct and if not then the entire body of work is wrong, period.
Try telling him that science does not have the ability to detect what is 100% true, that the best that can be accomplished is an approximation of the truth.
Consepts can be falsified, and in the process of falsifying the concepts that are wrong, the approximation of reality is refined.
An example to use is the age of the earth.
We don't know the exact age, but through the process of testing the ages of different bits of evidence our understanding of the true age of the earth has been refined. This is working from the present day back to the beginning of the earth, as the earth must logically be older than any evidence that has occurred on it (other than meteor deposits), such as lava flows or the ages of fossil life. This gives us a miniimum age.
We can also work from the age of the universe down to define an outer limit. This uses the ages of asteroids and other evidence from space that were involved with the formation of the solar system. This gives us a maximum age.
The true age would fall in between.
Once you establish how science approximates the truth, then we can move on to evolution.
Enjoy.

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tram law, posted 08-15-2010 12:53 PM Tram law has not replied

  
Huntard
Member (Idle past 2371 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 6 of 41 (574641)
08-17-2010 3:35 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tram law
08-16-2010 3:06 PM


Tram law writes:
Well, for example, he says that since the entire DNA has been mapped it can't be traced all the way back to the beginning nor does it reveal what the ancestor of humans were, so that calls into question the entire concept of Evolution.
That's weird, because it means we can do exactly that. For instance, because we have mapped the entire genome of humans and chimps, we can see that a human chromosome (chromosome 2) is a fusion of two chimp chromosomes, which is evidence that we share a common ancestor with them.
Well, he had bad experiences with school authorities who claimed he was autistic and wanted to drug him all to hell to control him because he was hyperactive. Because they thought he was autistic, they often put him in the wrong classes and ignored his interests. So I think that's the biggest influence on him wanting to be right so much.
Hmm yes, that kinda sucks.
He does have some intelligence, but he is very myopic when he argues, in that he has a certain set of beliefs and they are very black and white and can't see other side of the coin. For example, he thinks that not allowing children in school to pray only forces atheism in school is a violation of civil rights of the religious students, and I even showed him a video on you tube about girl who was kicked out of school for not participating in prayer.
Also, it is of course not illegal for children to pray in schools, school mandated prayer is what is against the constitution.
The points I was trying to show him was the divisiveness that religion causes, and that it can encourage bullying in school, and that she should sue the school for discrimination and violation of her civil rights.
She certainly should.
But he responds with that's just forcing atheism on the students. (Please note that is meant to show an example of how he pokes holes in anything he can to be right and is not meant to go off topic.)
Except that it doesn't poke a hole in anything, since it is not forcing atheism on anyone, if everyone else wants to pray, they can, just like she can opt out of prayer.
And it's just frustrating to tell him that it's not and how mistaken that he truly is.
Well yes, that's what this usually boils down to.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tram law, posted 08-16-2010 3:06 PM Tram law has not replied

  
Taz
Member (Idle past 3367 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 7 of 41 (574642)
08-17-2010 4:39 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
08-15-2010 12:53 PM


Speaking as a former hardhead, there is nothing you can do or say to him that will get him to change his mind. He will either one day have a light bulb moment or he will not. You can explain to him what science really is until you're blue and he still wouldn't budge.
My advice to you is to avoid this topic all together with him and move on. Again, he will either one day have a light bulb moment or he will not.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tram law, posted 08-15-2010 12:53 PM Tram law has not replied

  
Tram law
Member (Idle past 4781 days)
Posts: 283
From: Weed, California, USA
Joined: 08-15-2010


Message 8 of 41 (574716)
08-17-2010 12:37 PM


Well, it's gotten to the point that I am going to tell him that for the sake of our friendship there are some things we shouldn't talk about. If he has any respect for me he'll understand. Because I really just can't stand his views on science and atheism anymore. The thing is he just cannot understand some things, especially atheism, even though I keep telling him I am an atheist. He demands that I don't define him but he has no problem defining me and won't see anything else.
I guess it's true that you really can't discuss things like politics and religion.
Thanks.
I hope I didn't waste any of your time with this stuff, but where I am I'm the only one who believes the things I believe, and sometimes forums like these gives me more people to talk to.

Replies to this message:
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 Message 16 by straightree, posted 08-20-2010 3:30 AM Tram law has replied

  
Taz
Member (Idle past 3367 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 9 of 41 (574719)
08-17-2010 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tram law
08-17-2010 12:37 PM


I really should start charging people for my very practical advice on things. There are plenty of idealistic advices out there that don't deal with reality. But you can only get the cold hard truth from me

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tram law, posted 08-17-2010 12:37 PM Tram law has not replied

Replies to this message:
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subbie
Member (Idle past 1331 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 10 of 41 (574722)
08-17-2010 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Taz
08-17-2010 12:50 PM


Well, Zerusians are known the galaxy wide for their steely pragmatism. (Doesn't that sound like a band name?)

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. -- Thomas Jefferson
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. -- Barack Obama
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

This message is a reply to:
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Fiver
Junior Member (Idle past 5040 days)
Posts: 26
From: Provo, UT
Joined: 04-17-2010


Message 11 of 41 (575332)
08-19-2010 3:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tram law
08-15-2010 12:53 PM


"Is my question about the different breeds of dogs and the domesticated banana in relation to evolution correct?"
It pains me to give this answer, but my response to this would be "halfway". In the one sense, you are entirely right: the process by which these things came about was indeed variation with natural selection. However, Creationists are quick to point out that both of these examples are simply narrowing the gene pool, rather than producing new alleles.
However, having said that, division into breeds is the first step of speciation, which really is evolution in progress.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Huntard
Member (Idle past 2371 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 12 of 41 (575341)
08-19-2010 4:09 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Fiver
08-19-2010 3:47 PM


Fiver writes:
However, Creationists are quick to point out that both of these examples are simply narrowing the gene pool, rather than producing new alleles.
Well, they'd be wrong (of course). You see, the gene responsible for the dachshund's short legs is a dominant gene, meaning that if any of it's ancestors would've had it, they would've had short legs. Since we know wolves have long legs, and are the ancestors of Dachshunds (as they are of all dogs), this is an example of a new allele being introduced.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Fiver, posted 08-19-2010 3:47 PM Fiver has replied

Replies to this message:
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subbie
Member (Idle past 1331 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 13 of 41 (575345)
08-19-2010 4:34 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Fiver
08-19-2010 3:47 PM


Narrowing the gene pool
However, Creationists are quick to point out that both of these examples are simply narrowing the gene pool, rather than producing new alleles.
Like most things that creationists say, they are quite unclear about exactly how they think this works. Near as I've ever been able to suss it out, they seem to think that the genetic make up of each different breed of dog is simply a subset of all dog genes, and these dog genes were present when the first dog kind was created. Selective breeding then eliminated all the non-beagle genes to create beagles, eliminated all the non-basset hound genes to create basset hounds, etc.
You'll likely never be able to get one of them to admit that this is what they think, because when clearly expressed, the idea sounds as absurdly silly as it is. But I'm pretty sure that's what they have in mind.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. -- Thomas Jefferson
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. -- Barack Obama
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Fiver, posted 08-19-2010 3:47 PM Fiver has not replied

  
Fiver
Junior Member (Idle past 5040 days)
Posts: 26
From: Provo, UT
Joined: 04-17-2010


Message 14 of 41 (575390)
08-19-2010 7:37 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Huntard
08-19-2010 4:09 PM


The gene responsible for the dachshund's short legs is a dominant gene, meaning that if any of it's ancestors would've had it, they would've had short legs.
Really? Wow... that's good food for thought. Thanks for the info!

This message is a reply to:
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Huntard
Member (Idle past 2371 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 15 of 41 (575440)
08-20-2010 2:48 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Fiver
08-19-2010 7:37 PM


Fiver writes:
Really?
Yes, really.
Percy was the one who brought that up in the The End of Evolution By Means of Natural Selection thread. He mentioned it in Message 134:
Percy writes:
By the way, mutations do make contributions to breeding. For example, the dachshund's short legs originated through mutation (Scientists discover secret of why dachshunds have short legs).
Then in the same thread, Taq in Message 139 writes:
Taq writes:
Also, this is a dominant allele. You only need one copy of the mutation to produce the phenotype.
So it seems my usage of the word "gene" is not entirely correct (not to say completely wrong), I should use allele from now on.
That's where I got it from (Should've credited it from the start, really).

This message is a reply to:
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