[ExI] Falsifying evolution

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 23 13:11:06 UTC 2009

--- On Wed, 4/22/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 10:15 PM, Dan
> <dan_ust at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> > Regarding evolution itself, I think the oft quoted
> phrase from Haldane serves well here "fossil rabbits in the
> Precambrian era [strata]" would, for him, disprove/falsify
> evolution.
> How would that be the case?

I believe his point -- and I'm guessing here based on the quote; I haven't read it in context -- is that fossil rabbits would mean that rabbits (and chordates in general) did not evolve.  Surely, one could push back the statement and said they still evolved but just at an earlier date (or that, perhaps, they evolved, went extinct, and re-evolved; or that evolution might be cyclical), but the reason the idea of evolution got any traction in the first place was that people found fossils of life forms that no longer are and, likewise, didn't find fossils of current life forms in the older strata.  I take it this was Haldane's point.

> Not to me anyway, as a matter of faith. :-)
> Such fossil rabbits would simply force me to revise my
> current hypotheses on evolution.

It'd likely force me to revise my views of evolution, but this would be a radical revision, don't you think?  It might even call into question the whole idea of evolution -- at least, in its modern, post-Darwin form.
> As Dawkins says, cosmic panspermia might even be true,
> e.g., and it
> would simply replace the issue on where, how and when life
> developed:
> crates all the way, *not* skyhooks.

Yes, but then it sounds more like you're adding epicycles to the idea.  Also, IIRC, panspermia was posited for microbial or viral forms.

That said, I still think both evolutionary theories (explanations of why evolution happens) and evolution (reconstructions of what actually happened) are falsifiable.  Yes, one can always add auxiliary hypotheses in to shore up any theory -- but this can be done with the classically falsifiable hypotheses: if an experiment doesn't go correctly, one can always say it's erroneous or that some other factor impinged on the data.




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