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Author Topic:   Is Evolution Predictive?
Posts: 19652
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.4

Message 1 of 1 (183)
02-28-2001 3:53 PM

Schrafinator: Actually, scientific theories do make predictions

WastingMy in Yahoo Message 7446: That statement is 50% accurate. There are different kinds of theories. A theory based on a definitive and measurable initial state must be able to predict a future state. However, ToE is based on a premise, a hypothesis, not a definitive and measurable initial state.

It seems as if you're trying to say some theories are quantitative and some are not, and that because ToE is not quantitative it can't make predictions. But I think Schrafinator had a different definition of prediction in mind.

You're thinking about prediction as the results of a calculation. For example, scientists plug a number of factors into a carefully crafted computer program and determine how to send a spacecraft to a soft landing on Eros. Their calculations predict precisely what will happen.

Even though this isn't the sense in which Schrafinator was using the word prediction, the ToE does make quantitative predictions. In fact, it was the close agreement of the calculations (predictions in the way that you're using the term) of the mathematical science of population genetics with experiment and field observations that confirmed what we know today as the Modern Synthesis. Clearly there are aspects of the ToE that make quantitative predictions.

But the sense in which Schrafinator was using prediction referred to the future research discoveries scientists can expect to make. Current theory is a guide to fruitful avenues of research in all areas of scientific endeavor. Scientists could, for example, say, "If the ToE is correct, then I should expect to find that deeper geological layers contain older fossil remains." That's a prediction that the ToE makes, and as things turned out it has been confirmed countless times.

Scientists might also say, "If the ToE is correct, then the hierarchy of organisms by morphology should correspond to that of DNA." And this is what scientists have much more recently verified to be true.

So you see, Schrafinator's comment was accurate on both counts. The ToE makes not only quantitative predictions, but also theoretical predictions.


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