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Is the Theory of Evolution decaying into Pseudoscience?
Extensions to the Theory are now being taught that make it universal and unfalsifiable in its own terms.
is one Viable Teleological Alternative
Many don't know that Mivart's full argument against Gradualism evolved into the greatest challenge to Darwin's Origin of Species (London, 1859-1872), requiring Darwin to revise his book five times. U.S. public schools don't permit teaching about Mivart's debate with Darwin, because its theistic elements conflict with the public-school system's labeling of all 'theories of purpose,' or teleological theories, as religious propaganda. Yet many new teleological theories, such as aesthetic-based selection discussed here, don't require any belief in God. Nonetheless, the public schools still don't allow teaching of any teleological theories, but have vastly expanded teaching on 'The Theory of Evolution,' which still has some non-theistic issues that Mivart originally debated with Darwin in 1871.
Natural selection, or Hard selection, has proven to be a useful model for predicting the apparent observable world. But a recent addition, Soft Selection is now being taught in U.S. public schools as a generalized rationalization for all other species variation, without need or even possibility of experimental validation. This is making the theory universal yet unfalsifiable within its own terms, and therefore, pseudoscience. This article makes a distinction between:
- Darwinists, who believe natural selection rules out the existence of any teleological force (wrongly considered to be Creationism alone); and
- The Theory of Evolution as it now stands, as a model for species variation defined as experimentally corroborated 'hard science.' Note that this is a predictive model only, and should not make claims to explain why 'selection forces' exist at all, or whether the model itself necessarily corresponds to actual reasons for observed events in the apparent material world.
The article starts with Darwinist concepts and progresses to the greater problem of many post-hoc assumptive and unprovable explanations, stated by improperly educated students in the Philosophy of Science. It ends with a statement of the experiment necessary to prove the Theory of Evolution against the teleological alternative, aesthetic-based selection, presented here.
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Gradualism: Limits and Explanations
So let's start with Saint Mivart's 1871 objection, as no one knows it, to a Darwinian postulation now referred to as a gradualist subtheory. Gradualism does have viable applications, but is still not thought to have caused wing development, ever since Saint Mivart argued that 5% of a wing cannot fly (On the Genesis of Species. London. 1871). The same argument against gradual development of dinosaur wings still counters many current gradualist conceptions.
Let's say a dinosaur DID have some developing stub of a wing that eventually was long enough to glide. It had to find mates to make bigger useless bumps, for thousands of generations, during which the bump was a competitive detriment, consuming unnecessary energy. But dinosaurs would have had to select for larger useless bumps during mating for this part of the theory to work, as variations would otherwise be subsumed into the gene pool. They are certainly not selecting the fittest mate.
How much can we even imagine what is the logical process occurring in the dinosaurs' brains during a mating ritual? "Hey what a sexy useless bump, let's make bigger ones"? lol. Actually, while Darwinists would object to how I phrased it, they still often use a 'less anthropomorphic phrasing' to describe current gradualist explanations–But however you phrase it, it's not a scientific explanation. It's only an unprovable conjecture as to what animals are 'thinking' during the myriad of mating rituals on this planet (see David Attenborough's nature documentaries of males performing bizarre and antics to lure a female). Darwinists tell me many so-called scientific 'explanations,' but they are not experimentally verifiable (and therefore not hard science), often while sneering at alternatives to their views.
'YOU'RE UNFAIR' say the Darwinists,
'WINGS REQUIRED BONE ADAPTATIONS SO LARGE THEY MUST BE MUTATIONS.
AND WE DO HAVE EXPLANATIONS!"
Thats all true, and I'll get to mutations in a moment, but first, as an Oxford scholar in the Philosophy of Science, I am obliged to speak on 'explanations'-- both yours, and mine. For the Theory of Evolution to be hard science, its 'explanations' can only go as far as those which successfully predict future events based on an experimentally validated model. Of course, I'd concur that species drift from group isolation, due to survival-driven variations, could be a valid theory–If Darwinists did not insist on inserting the words 'survival-driven' as the only single and necessary cause. It's a useful predictive model, and no more. When a hippo dies and its mate stands guard over the corpse until too weak to fight off crocodiles, how inhuman do you have to be to say it's must be a survival-driven behavior?
Alternatives don't even have to be 'God theories.' Whether limited to higher-order species or socially learned behaviors, or not, animals could simply have a sense of aesthetics, which also remains an unproven possibility after centuries of denial. As we know from human fashion and style, aesthetics change over time and place, so it could even explain species drift after gene-pool isolation.
But aesthetic-based selection is teleological–It holds that animals are driven by a desire for beauty-- or at least what is beautiful to them, lol. As aesthetic-based selection holds that animals are acting with purpose towards a goal other than 'survival of the fittest,' it falls in the same hated camp as Creationism in public schools, for which reason, I get heaps of bigoted insults poured on me without any scientific justification by those who've been taught it is safe to ridicule teleologists. Yet Darwinists still have no counterargument to aesthetic-based selection.
Mutations: Loading the Roulette Table
Mutations present a different scenario, yet still, the Darwinian arguments for why animals choose abnormal mates are post-hoc rationalizations, even though post-hoc explanations are not scientific, as I will explain properly. AND, even assuming the abnormality is a dominant gene, and assuming the mutant is fertile (which is abnormal in itself), there is still no possible control group for disproving concurrent teleological processes. So corroboration of the frequent Darwinist assertion that natural selection is the sole evolutionary force is not even possible by the process of experimental measurements against a control group, which is meant to be a prerequisite for all hypotheses in hard science.
Instead, having banned teleological explanations from schools (as well as St. Mivart), the Darwinians find ANY biological change, measure it, and then smugly say it proves natural selection the Theory of Evolution right. If an experimental result doesn't find a sought competitive advantage, it doesn't mean the theory has failed; instead, it's shrugged off as a failure in identifying the correct 'selection force.'
A main criterion for a theory not to be regarded as pseudoscience is falsifiability. But whatever Darwinists choose to demonstrate they are right, whether it's a successful gradual change, or a useless bump, or a dud mutant, or whatever else, they can't lose. They already bought every number on the roulette table. Then they invent a clever-sounding reason why they won the game.
How about an example. 'Caucasians developed paler skin because it helps in cold weather.' Well, I heard that hundreds of times, so it popped in my head, and very clever-sounding, even though its obviously wrong. That doesn't make a difference to the point here that it's obviously wrong. Let's say you try asking back, 'shouldn't Norwegians have black hair to absorb heat?' They shrug and say 'blonde hair must be a coupled gene to the blonde skin, or there is another selective force at work.'
Tada! Even if a variation should logically be less successful but isn't, they have that covered too. Coupled genes to the rescue. 'Unknown selective forces' as a fallback. On those terms, nothing can prove the Theory of Evolution wrong.
Meanwhile, such assertions as "people have white hair to reflect light" abound, even though there is no conceivable way to prove them. It could equally be to hide in snow, or multiple factors–or a linked gene, or an unknown selective force.
But seriously...Several have told me I can't be taken seriously because I use LOL on my private blog. So this section is especially for them. By the way I have a sense of humor. lol.
BUT SERIOUSLY, I'm not denying that HARD SELECTION, as it's currently being relabeled, has provided a useful model to explain some phenomena in the apparent observable world. For example, there's the fantastic fossil record of ponies becoming bigger. And we're lucky to have such an excellent evolutionary record of the most expensive animal in most of history.
And also, a SECOND example of a complete fossil record: horsies! If only this example showed they were getting larger to make them easier to ride, but no, the second example disproves teleological development, right?
Then very sadly. for reasons of gaps in fossil history that are of course totally understandable, we only have one other complete evolutionary chain as evidence: horses. And Darwinists frequently point out, proudly, all the complete fossil records we have-- ponies getting bigger, and horsies, and yes, horses, too--The illustration proudly states there's more than one, so I highlighted all complete fossil records currently acknowledged--and the third example, as stated on the slide, is also the most complete fossil record we have! One can find many similar such slides on the Internet, because the vast array of such evidence proves natural selection is the only process going on already, especially as the second example (horsies) didn't get bigger to make them easier to ride.
Soft Selection: Loading the Roulette Table again
For rather inexplicable changes, which shouldn't outnumber the amazing panoply of good fossil records we do have, teachers are now filling in gaps in natural-selection theory with a new subtheory called soft selection. A teacher proudly mailed me an appalling marketing plug that he give his class as proof evolution is a complete theory. As it's not even on the Wikipedia but now taught in schools:
- Hard Selection is the new name for traditional 'natural selection.' As I mentioned, it's a fairly good model for prediction. An uncrossable boundary creates population divisions, and the environmental differences across the boundary create different competitive benefits that can be measured, hypotheses on their effects made, and experiments conducted. Because there are two groups, and one is measuring differences between the groups, control groups are not always necessary.
- Soft Selection refers to subdivided populations that randomly evolve into any available ecosystem holes, without any need for further competitive advantage. With population SUBDIVISON, the boundary is not uncrossable over time, and rather arbitrary in space. The subdivisions could occur for a brief period, or longer, or be repeated. They could occur within, say, a flock of birds as they land on different trees. All that's necessary is for a subdivided population to breed with itself in some slightly separated way, and a new group might move into any ecosystem slot without needing any other selection pressure. Because the boundary is not absolute in time and/or space, individuals can intermingle across the subdivision until some group separates itself out. As even the groups can arbitrarily change, the only experiment that can be performed is to wait until some group separates itself out, then look at it and make post-hoc conclusions.
Well, that started to get me mad. Natural selection isn't even about survival of the fittest any more. Well ok, as a scientific model, soft selection does have some limited applications for experimental research. In microbiology, for example, it does allow for statistical modeling of the speeds multiple variants evolve in dense populations, due to their fast reproduction, by observing the amount of movement between clusters in a Petri dish. However, for animal species, the interchange across subdivisions is so fluid that the model predicts usually predicts too many different results, so it's not useful in very much real scientific endeavor.
In strict contrast, as a pedagogy, soft selection is able to explain EVERYTHING via post-hoc inventions. Teachers in U.S. public schools, beset with questions about evolution they can't otherwise answer without introducing the forbidden concept of teleology, warmly espouse the effects on all species' evolution due to 'soft selection forces.' The fact that few of the assertions could actually be proven is considered rather irrelevant, as soft selection is so good at providing rationalizations for variations that hard selection otherwise finds inexplicable.
Is there anything soft selection could NOT explain? No, soft selection could explain ANYTHING AT ALL that is otherwise inexplicable as filling some unoccupied hole in the ecological system. Anyone who knows the philosophy of science would tell you that is called pseudoscience. All experimental results reach the conclusion that the theory of natural selection is right, in which case it would be a 'law of species development' regardless whether natural selection is happening or not. Thankfully scientists with yearnings for power have not yet realized they could make themselves immortal by naming such a new law after themselves already.
After a century of scientists falling over themselves about how wrong teleological theories are, now they added soft selection too, saying 'oh ok, we can't explain it otherwise, so it must be some force to fill an evolutionary hole, any hole is good enough, so that covers everything, completing the natural-selection theory to explain all known evolution.' They are again buying every single number on the roulette table and claiming that wasn't why they won the game.
Is 'The Theory of Evolution' even Falsifiable at all?
I never saw anyone state what level of unlikelihood would be necessary to disprove natural selection as the only causality of evolution. Ever. If natural selection has not become just another religion like Creationism, the necessary unlikelihood of events to disprove the theory would be one of the first facts people learn about it. Scientists would be trying to disprove the theory all over the world, with bounties on the discovery, probably.
Instead, natural selection as the sole cause of evolution has been turned into an unfalsifiable pseudoscience, and its worship in the school system, not much better than 6-day creationism. Immanuel Kant wrote in Critique of Judgment (Germany, 1790) of The Theory of Intelligent Design. Kant would consider the bee orchid a good example.
The beeorchid's odor and appearance resembles that of a female bee. Male bees climb into the flower to copulate with it, during which the top of the flower bends over and, with each of the bee's thrusts, rubs itself back and forth on the creature back, exchanging pollen with other bee orchids via hairs on the bee's abdomen.
If Kant were still alive, he might observe that requires such an incredible degree of order, and is so exquisite, God easily could have created the entire Orchidaceae family by an intelligent modification of a single DNA pair, leaving natural selection to finish the symbiosis. That's his Theory of Intelligent Design updated for the 21st century. lol. Or, you could say it's not symbiosis, and the flower is exploiting the bee. I leave that to your opinion. lol. Of it you want to suggest Kant would say something else, then knowing Kant's entire argument for the existence of God takes reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (Germany, 1781) and Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason and Other Works on the Theory of Ethics (Germany, 1788), before reading Kant's Critique of Judgment (Germany, 1790) again, if you have already. Maybe you've read ALL that already. I'd be thrilled to hear what you think Kant might say instead, whenever you are ready.
Putting Kant's argument aside, what threshold of improbability have evolutionists stated would make this 'symbiosis' too unlikely to be caused by natural selection alone? The Theory of Evolution doesn't state any necessary threshold of improbability past which the theory would no longer reasonably apply. Why not? Is evolution meant to be a falsifiable theory, or not?
If you wish to disagree, I'll put it in the scientific terms you folks are meant to want.
Please state the empirical evidence that birds of paradise like this appearance and are behaving like they do because of some eco-benefit, with a control group in your experimental design to remove the possibility of concurrent teleological pressures at play. I'm all ears.
I'm like St. Thomas. I'm skeptical and want to stick my fingers in Christ's wounds to believe. So on Easter 2021, I wrote this homage to the hapless St. Mivart, who the Catholics excommunicated while he was trying to defend their views.
With thanks to Manju Sanjubar
My name is Ernest Meyer, this is my private site, and I make no money from my work. Born in Washington DC in 1960, I earned all-paid schlarshiups to Eton prep, Stowe (Bucks, UK), and Oxford University, where I sat Philosophy, Psychology, and Politics (PPP).
I became a semiconductor analyst, then a silicon-valley engineer. I was a digital architect on the first 802.11 chipset, the first Pentium, the first Japanese cellphone, the prototype Netflix interface, and the first iPhone microprocessor. I retired when Steve Jobs died. You can contact me on LinkedIn at:
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