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John Edser

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Falsifiability

Today's era is Post Modern. This means that a frame of refernce is not necessarily required or if one is employed it can be changed mid argument. IOW, today it appears valid to move your goal posts to kick a goal removing falsifiability from most arguments, even within the sciences. Mathematically this means that a defined constant to which all the variables within a theory must remain dependent is no longer required reducing Post Modern science to nothing more than reversible (tautological) mathematics. It was Galileo who proposed that only comparing variables without a constant to act as a falsifiable frame of reference prohibits any meaningful concept of cause and effect. We cannot tell if the sun goes around the earth or vice versa without a valid, i.e. constant frame of reference which of course, cannot change except via falsification allowing the evolution of a new theory contradictory to the old one. For example, Einstein's c, which Newton thought was just a variable was shown to be a constant reducing M and T (mass and time) to just variables within Special Relativity. Likewise, Darwin reduced species to evolving variables allowing a combination of survival and reproduction to be maximized providing a new falsifiable frame of reference for the biological sciences in contradiction to religious dogma.

In a world overburdened by massive debt, a science of climate change entirely dependent on mathematical modeling, theory within the physical sciences dominated by non falsifiable infinities and a Neo Darwinism that cannot be empirically falsified only non verified, I ask: what is your FALSIFIABLE frame of reference?

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    Jun 6 2012: Just saying that evolution on a macro scale could be disproved on earth if say we found a 3 billion year old hedgehog or rabbit.
    • Jun 7 2012: Unfortunately, such an amazing observation only constitutes a non verification. While Darwinism does indeed argue that such an observation should not be made, systematics has to be reviewed continually. This is because Darwin demonstrated that one species grades into another so species are only a variable not a constant. Retracing such a complex phylogeny backwards hundreds of millions of years is notoriously difficult (so it must be continuously revised). However, given such an observation it is much more likely that it was produced via another cause, e.g. fraud or represents a false observation. The only way that Darwinism can be empirically falsified has been outlined by myself in the moderated discussion group:

      sci bio evolution

      Reversing the Darwinian process of natural selection is indeed possible. This experimental process must halt all Darwinian evolution for as long as it can be maintained. If evolution is not stopped entirely, then Darwinism stands falsified. This can only be tested experimentally via artificially holding the TOTAL number of ADULT (fertile) forms reproduced via each parent in ONE population, EQUAL. This reproductive total per parent per population is absolutely critical because it alone represents a Total Darwinian Fitness (TDF) fitness CONSTANT providing a falsifiable frame of reference for evolutionary theory. The big problem: this has not been realized within Neo Darwinism.
      • Timo X

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        Jun 7 2012: While it is true that a finding that conflicts with extant and often-verified theories is usually not taken as absolute evidence against them, this does not mean that the theory is in fact non-falsifiable. According to Popper, falsification has to be only possible in principle (whatever that means, I prefer testability). Concerning your second paragraph, I neither understand why conducting such an experiment would be the only way to falsify evolutionary theory, nor do I understand how it could do so in the first place. Remember also that natural selection is not the only mechanism that drives evolution.

        You mention causality in the opening post. Seeing that you are so critical of the supposed infalsifiability of modern science, how do you figure you go around proving causality?
        • Jun 8 2012: The most important point to make is that Darwinian evolutionary theory is not dependent on fossil evidence. While fossils can provide amazing evidence that is highly motivational, falsifiability lies elsewhere. The reason why TDF remains crucial is because it alone can provide a falsifying fitness constant for evolutionary theory. My proposed, simple, reproductive total of adults reproduced per parent per population represents what has to be compared within a population in order to provide a FINAL selective result. Neo Darwinism never provides a FINAL result because it does not allow a single fitness constant, i.e. it only compares variables with other variables to produce natural selection. To be falsifiable, it must provide at least one fitness constant to act as a frame of reference.

          Natural selection is the only falsifiable cause of evolution that has been proposed. Darwinism argues that random mutation withiin organisms provides what is termed "heritable variation". This is acted on by non random natural selection to produce the evolution of populations of organisms. The other random force is sampling error, i.e. what is termed "genetic drift". Neither of these are causative to evolution; they are only causative to the heritable variation on which non random natural selection acts. Clearly, any evolution predicated on a random process acting alone, cannot be falsified.

          Regards,

          John Edser
      • Timo X

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        Jun 8 2012: Perhaps I still misunderstand, but I do not see how the experiment you specify is able to (dis)prove anything. If evolution would not occur under environmental conditions that are constant for a long time, this would be in line with the mechanism of natural selection. If evolution would occur under environmental conditions that are constant for a long time, this would mean that natural selection is not the only mechanism by which evolution works - and this fact, as you also point out, is already recognized and incorporated into the theory of evolution.

        I think it is admirable that you try to formulate an experiment that can falsify evolutionary theory. However, I think you are on the wrong track. Evolutionary theory is not very suitable for predictions and this poses a problem for scientists who think falsifiable predictions are the hallmark of science (see e.g. Popper's initial rejection of natural selection). This does not mean that evolutionary theory is pseudoscience: it is quite possible to gather clear evidence for and against it.
        • Jun 8 2012: The experiment that I proposed artificially maintains the final fitness of each parent within an experimental population to remain the same. This could be done with the fruit fly by only allowing each parent to raise a single young to fertile adulthood. When this is accomplished each parent would be removed. Each fly would be able to breed freely but exactly the same situation is repeated for as long as each member of the population successfully raises a single replacement. The experiment terminates when just a single member of the population fails to raise an adult replacement allowing selection to finally act. Darwinian selection is the result of a simple default comparison of each parents Darwinian fitness (the total number of adults reproduced per parent per population) such that only the parent with the largest fitness is naturally selected. While the experiment lasts, each parent has a TDF of 1. Since flys are sexual this means each pair must raise two adult forms into the next generation. The reason why immatures are NOT counted (they are within Neo Darwinism) is because they cannot possibly pass on any of their genes because they remain sterile until reaching adulthood. What I predict terminates the experiment is the random action of genetic drift and mutation. Eventually genomes not subject to selection will become more and more degenerate eventually resulting in a single pair not being able to raise the required two offspring to adulthood. Neo Darwinists continue to insist that drift and mutation are evolutionary forces on a par with selection reducing evolutionary theory to non falsifiable simply because random forces cannot be halted. The experimental population is controlled by a population treated similarly except an intense form of selection is provided e.g. a trait for eye color is selected for. At the termination of the experiment the prediction is that the experimental population does not evolve.


          Regards,

          John Edser

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