I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Darwinists' bad theory that they own the word "theory"

Update: I have been checking the definitions of "theory" in different places and it is apparent that this idea that a "scientific theory" is by definition well-supported and widely accepted has been concocted solely for the purpose of promoting the theory of evolution.

Darwinists are under the illusion that they can change people's perception of Darwinism by changing changing or restricting popular meanings of the word "theory." In the abstract of an article ironically titled "'Theory' in Theory and Practice," Glenn Branch and Louise S. Mead of the National Center for Science Education say,

Abstract A central obstacle to accepting evolution, both among students and the general public, is the idea that evolution is “just a theory,” where “theory” is understood in a pejorative sense as something conjectural or speculative. Although scientists and textbooks constantly explain that the scientific use of “theory” is quite different, the pejorative use continues to cause confusion, in part because of its deep roots in a popular, Baconian, understanding of science. A constructivist approach, whereby students are helped to examine the adequacy of their preconceptions about “theory” for themselves and to revise or replace them appropriately, is recommended.

For one thing, trying to change change or restrict popular meanings of a term, even just within a particular context such as a scientific context, is an unrealistic task and is going to create or increase confusion. Also, the level of confidence represented by the word "theory" is highly variable even within the scientific meaning of the word -- there can be "strong" scientific theories and "weak" scientific theories. Also, I think that this flexibility in meaning is necessary because otherwise there would be no terms to cover "theories" at all levels of confidence. Also, even if the word "theory" is just colloquially interpreted as meaning "guess," the word can be interpreted in a specific instance as meaning a "good guess" or a "bad guess" or anything in between. It is foolish to try to manipulate people's views of evolution by trying to create a special definition of the word "theory." When a word has a broad meaning or different meanings within a given context, people who want to convey a particular meaning need to do so by means of elaboration rather than by assuming that other people are going to interpret the word as having the intended meaning.
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BTW, in mathematics, the term "theory" often means a branch of mathematics that has been rigorously proven. Some well-known mathematical theories are probability theory and set theory. A related word, "theorem," often means something in mathematics that has been proven, e.g., Pythagorean theorem and binomial theorem, but "theorem" does not always mean something that has been rigorously proven.

Branch and Mead discuss the controversy over adding the term "scientific theory" to the term "evolution" in the Florida state science standards:

. . . in Florida, just days before the state board of education was scheduled to vote on the new state science standards in 2008, there was a proposal to insert the phrase “the scientific theory of” before mentions of evolution. As the Orlando Sentinel reported, “By adding the word theory, which many opponents of the standards had argued for, the new version may appease those who do not view evolution as a scientific fact or those whose religious beliefs are in conflict with evolution” (Postal 2008). Clumsy, unnecessary, and apparently opposed by a majority of the writing committee, the revisions were accepted anyway, despite a valiant effort on the part of board member Roberto Martinez, who described the revisions as “an effort by people who are opposed to evolution to water down our standards” (Bhattacharjee 2008).

As the dust settled, though, it was increasingly clear that the revisions did not, after all, succeed in materially compromising the scientific integrity of the standards. Evolution was not invidiously singled out for attention: plate tectonics, cell theory, atomic theory, electromagnetism, and the Big Bang all received the same treatment.

Also, the final version of the Florida state standards gives its own non-dictionary definition of "theory," and -- as I indicated -- I think that is a wrong thing to do:

Recognize and explain that a scientific theory is a well-supported and widely accepted explanation of nature and is not simply a claim posed by an individual. Thus, the use of the term theory in science is very different than how it is used in everyday life. (page 50 of document, page 54 of pdf file)

Unfortunately, the debate over using the word "theory" in the Florida science standards completely pushed aside the debate over the outrageous statement "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology," which remains in the final version of the standards (page 89 of document, page 93 of pdf file).

Controversy over the meaning of "theory" also arose in the Selman v. Cobb County evolution-disclaimer textbook-sticker case, particularly in regard to the phrase, "evolution is a theory, not a fact." The complete statement of the textbook sticker was,

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

Selman noted that a version that was proposed by a teacher and approved by the administration (but ignored by the school board, in large part because the school board had already voted on language that their counsel thought was constitutional) said,

This textbook contains material on evolution, a scientific theory, or explanation, for the nature and diversity of living things. Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists, but questioned by some. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

The statement "Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists, but questioned by some" is an example of how an intended meaning of the term "theory" can be narrowly specified.

On Evolution News & Views, Casey Luskin is starting a five-part series that discusses the following questions:

1. Are Darwinists correct to define "theory" as "a well-substantiated scientific explanation of some aspect of the natural world" or "a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence"?

2. Under such a strong definition of "theory," does evolution qualify as a "theory"?

3. Is it correct to call evolution a "fact"?

4. Is it best for Darwin skeptics to call evolution "just a theory, not a fact"?

5. All I wanted to say is that I’m a scientific skeptic of neo-Darwinism. How can I convey such skepticism without stepping on a semantic land mine and getting scolded by Darwinists?”

Also, in discussions of the study of evolution of Cit+ (citrate-eating) E. coli bacteria, there was a lot of confusion over the meaning of the word "goal." Zachary Blount, the lead author of the paper on the study, said that he believed that the Cit+ evolution was foreseen as a possible and desirable result of the experiment but it was "not a goal." To me, that is a definition of "goal" -- something foreseen as a possible (or sometimes even virtually impossible) and desirable result. For example, in a search for the Fountain of Youth, finding it is a "goal." So merely saying that Cit+ evolution was "not a goal" can be very misleading. The word "goal" needed to be qualified here, e.g., a secondary goal, a longshot goal, one of many goals, etc..
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28 Comments:

Anonymous F2XL said...

If things get too messy I have a pretty long-ass post that should put trolls to rest and force them to be constructive...


...but why has it gotten so peaceful on here??? Did Phea leave or something?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Larry,
There are countless words in the English language that have multiple definitions. However, it is the responsibility of a speaker to use correct words depending on context in order to be as clear and concise as possible, not the responsibility of the listener to decipher what is being said.

The same is in science. If you want to communicate with scientists, you have to use/understand the proper definitions of words in a SCIENTIFIC context and not think in colloquial terms. It is not the responsibility of scientists to use improper or fudged definitions of words to make it understandable to a non-scientist listener.

From Websters.com:

goal
–noun
1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
2. the terminal point in a race.
3. a pole, line, or other marker by which such a point is indicated.
4. an area, basket, cage, or other object or structure toward or into which players of various games attempt to throw, carry, kick, hit, or drive a ball, puck, etc., to score a point or points.
5. the act of throwing, carrying, kicking, driving, etc., a ball or puck into such an area or object.
6. the score made by this act.

The Cit+ evolution paper did not have the evolution of a Cit+ phenotype as a goal as their efforts were not directed towards developing Cit+ E. coli. While I'm sure they knew it was a possibility, that in and of itself DOES NOT MAKE IT A GOAL. There was not a lot of confusion as to the goals of the paper. You alone were confused and pushed the issue because YOU didn't get it. The major problem (and this goes for the usage of "theory" as well) is you are working off of what YOU see or think the definitions are. You state it yourself in the blog post:

"To me, that is a definition of "goal""

It doesn't matter what YOU think the definition of "goal" is. YOU and YOU ALONE are working off of incorrect assumptions but want to hold everyone else responsible for your lack of understanding.

the·o·ry
–noun, plural -ries.
1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity.
2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.
3. Mathematics. a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles.
6. contemplation or speculation.
7. guess or conjecture.

When people say "evolution is only a theory" they are using definition 2 or even 6 or 7 when in actuality definition 1 is to be applied. Ironically, the anti-evos are accusing scientists of "creating" definitions to fit their purpose when in fact it is those same individuals who are guilty of redefining words in an attempt to make their position stronger. Hell, they've even tried to redefine "science" to make their HYPOTHESIS of ID acceptable.

Also of interest:
—Synonyms 1. Theory, hypothesis are used in non-technical contexts to mean an untested idea or opinion. A theory in technical use is a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for known facts or phenomena: the theory of relativity. A hypothesis is a conjecture put forth as a possible explanation of phenomena or relations, which serves as a basis of argument or experimentation to reach the truth: This idea is only a hypothesis.

See. Theory and hypothesis are not the same thing in a technical sense despite anti-evos attempts to make them so. Again, if you want to communicate with scientits, you have to speak technically and use proper definitions.

"For one thing, trying to change popular meanings of a term, even just within a particular context such as a scientific context, is an unrealistic task and is going to create or increase confusion."

No ones trying to change the meaning of anything. Scientists only ask that the PROPER meaning of the word be used. If that is too difficult for you then you should remember your little mantra:

If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:41:00 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

Although I have to say you don't have to be technical when communicating with scientits, only scientists.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:44:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

Jim's little essay is about as on-topic a post as I have ever seen. Nice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> If you want to communicate with scientists, you have to use/understand the proper definitions of words in a SCIENTIFIC context and not think in colloquial terms. <<<<<<

The purpose of language is to communicate, not play word games.

>>>>> The Cit+ evolution paper did not have the evolution of a Cit+ phenotype as a goal as their efforts were not directed towards developing Cit+ E. coli. <<<<<<

Merely conducting the experiment was an "effort" -- if Cit+ evolution was regarded as a possible and desirable result (it was certainly desirable), then it was a goal even if nothing specific was done to favor it. Blount should have said that it was a secondary goal, one of many goals, a longshot goal, an incidental goal, etc. rather than saying it was not a goal at all, which could mislead people. And using your definition of "goal," the statement "not a goal" is ambiguous because that statement can then mean either that Cit+ evolution was foreseen as a possibility or that it was not foreseen as a possibility. Had Blount said that Cit+ evolution was "not a primary goal" or something like that, I would not have objected.

>>>>>> While I'm sure they knew it was a possibility <<<<<<

Even that's not clear -- no one has yet proven that it was a "goal" at the beginning of the experiment. However, apparently the experimenters did check for Cit+ evolution, because they observed it when the Cit+ bacteria were only one-half percent of the population.

>>>>>>> When people say "evolution is only a theory" they are using definition 2 or even 6 or 7 when in actuality definition 1 is to be applied. <<<<<<<

Definition 1 says nothing about whether a theory is strong or weak ("1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity").

The Florida science standards defined "scientific theory" as being a "strong" kind of "theory" -- "Recognize and explain that a scientific theory is a well-supported and widely accepted explanation of nature and is not simply a claim posed by an individual." If "scientific theory" is defined as "strong," then what would you call a "weak" scientific theory? Also, some scientific theories began as an explanation posed by an individual -- e.g., Einstein's theory of relativity. The Florida science standards' definition of "scientific theory" is arbitrary. The Florida science standards are doing Florida students a disservice by teaching them overly restrictive non-standard definitions of "theory" and "scientific theory."

>>>>>> Hell, they've even tried to redefine "science" to make their HYPOTHESIS of ID acceptable. <<<<<<

Well, how can Darwinists complain about that when they try to change or restrict the definition of "theory" or "scientific theory" to suit their own purposes?


>>>>>> No ones trying to change the meaning of anything. <<<<<

OK -- I should have said "change or restrict."

Sometimes the meaning of words is obvious from the context -- e.g., the term "service of process" in a legal context obviously does not mean serving a grilled-cheese sandwich in a restaurant. But even in a strictly scientific context, the terms "theory" and "scientific theory" can have broad ranges of meaning.

My point is that sometimes it is necessary to add extra words to clarify the intended meaning of a term.

'Nonymous said...

>>>>>Jim's little essay is about as on-topic a post as I have ever seen. <<<<<<

What? Lots of comments are squarely on-topic -- there is nothing special about being on-topic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> The purpose of language is to communicate, not play word games. <

Then why are you always redefining words and taking the Alice in Wonderland approach to it "A word means what I want it to mean. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:01:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Then why are you always redefining words <<<<<<<<

Name one word that I redefined. I did not redefine "goal" -- dictionaries' definitions of "goal" accommodate secondary goals, longshot goals, incidental goals, unrealistic goals, etc.. And there is a difference between (1) redefining or narrowly defining terms for a one-time use and (2) assuming that a word in a particular context has a universally accepted meaning that is not in dictionaries. For example, a law may have a glossary of terms that specifies the exact meanings of terms for the purposes of that law only.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:23:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"Name one word that I redefined."

1. "Goal"

"I did not redefine "goal" -- dictionaries' definitions of "goal" accommodate secondary goals, longshot goals, incidental goals, unrealistic goals, etc.."

And (according to you), non-goals.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I pulled a book off the library science shelves and soon found Nobel Prizewinner Francis Crick describing directed panspermia as a "theory," which he proposed. (That's life arriving in spaceships, Darwin-boosters.) In his book Life Itself, 1981, Crick wrote on p.141:

"The preceding arguments all sustain the thesis that Directed Panspermia is not implausible. This means that we have two types of theory about the origin of life on earth and they are radically different. The first--the orthodox theory--states that life as we know it started here all on its own...The second-- Directed Panspermia--postulates that the roots of our form of life go back to another place in the universe, almost certainly another planet...and that life here was seeded by microorganisms sent on some form of spaceship by an advanced civilization. The two theories could hardly be more different..."

So apparently a "theory" is anything that "is not implausible" according to Crick. How about Bigfoot, then? Seems that might qualify as a theory...

Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Gosh, I thought that according to the Darwin-apostles a theory has to be something well-supported by evidence! And Branch and Mead assure us that "theory" isn't used by scientists to denote something "conjectural" or "speculative:" such as, let's say, life arriving here in spaceships sent forth by space aliens.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> And Branch and Mead assure us that "theory" isn't used by scientists to denote something "conjectural" or "speculative:" <<<<<<

As I said in the update to my post, the idea that a "scientific theory" is by definition well-supported and widely accepted was concocted solely to support evolution theory. Look at "string theory" -- a lot of physicists don't consider it to be scientific at all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 5:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>So apparently a "theory" is anything that "is not implausible" according to Crick. How about Bigfoot, then? Seems that might qualify as a theory<<<<

Guess that whooshing noise was the entire frigging point flying right over your head. The whole reason for the first section that Larry quoted in the original blog post was that people confuse the colloquial usage of the word 'theory' with the scientific usage. Exactly like you have done.

Friday, July 25, 2008 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and Larry, about your comments on 'string theory'? You're correct - which is EXACTLY why the folk who think it is unscientific want people to stop using the phrase 'string theory'.

Friday, July 25, 2008 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, something else occurred to me - your 'update', at the top. Evidence? Source? The reason I ask is that everywhere I look (including several dictionaries) seems to indicate that the scientific usage of the term 'theory' is, indeed, quite different from the colloquial one.

Friday, July 25, 2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Apparently Francis Crick, a scientist who won a Nobel prize, also confused the allegedly "scientific" use of the word "theory" with the supposedly "colloquial" sense, according to these confused Darwin-zealots. "Colloquial" means conversational, not proper in written discourse. But one often finds the word "theory" used in the scientific literature to mean nothing but "hypothesis," exactly as Crick used it when he wrote about his "theory" of directed panspermia.

Friday, July 25, 2008 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>Apparently Francis Crick, a scientist who won a Nobel prize, also confused the allegedly "scientific" use of the word "theory" with the supposedly "colloquial" sense, according to these confused Darwin-zealots. "Colloquial" means conversational, not proper in written discourse.<<<<

I suggest you get a better dictionary. 'Colloquial' means conversational or using a conversational style. This includes using a conversational style of writing, which would be apprpriate in a book, like this one, that is written for the general public, as opposed to, say, a scientific paper.

However, even saying that, that whooshing noise is the point flying right over your head again. The whole thrust of the article that Larry linked to and quoted from above is that teachers and scientists alike should correctly and consistently use the terminology in it's correct manner in order to overcome the idea that a theory is 'just a theory'. It is, in part, actions like Crick's, who use the term 'theory' in it's colloquial sense, when discussing or teaching science to non-scientists, who don't know any better, that continues this perception.

Friday, July 25, 2008 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...
>>>>>> Oh, something else occurred to me - your 'update', at the top. Evidence? Source? The reason I ask is that everywhere I look (including several dictionaries) seems to indicate that the scientific usage of the term 'theory' is, indeed, quite different from the colloquial one. <<<<<<

My update at the top did not claim that the scientific and colloquial meanings of "theory" are the same. I only said that dictionaries do not say that in science a "theory" is by definition well-supported and widely accepted -- a "scientific theory" can also be poorly-supported and widely rejected. In the colloquial meaning of "theory" as a "guess" or even a "hunch" (which might be intuitional or not even an "educated" guess), there can be "good guesses" and "bad guesses," but I think that when a theory is well-supported it should not be considered to be just a "guess," and so yes, I agree that interpreting "theory" as meaning "guess" implies that the theory is not well-supported.

Rather than depend upon words being interpreted in ways that are not defined or narrowly defined by dictionaries, adjectives and clarifications should be used to insure that a word is interpreted as intended -- that is what adjectives are for. I gave the example of a statement that was proposed for the Cobb County textbook sticker: "Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists, but questioned by some."

I gave another example, the word "goal." Where a goal is a secondary goal, longshot goal, incidental goal, one of many goals, etc., it is wrong to say that it is "not a goal."

A law, for example, may have a glossary that gives special definitions of terms just for one-time use in that particular law, and that's OK. However, the Florida state science standards' attempt to rewrite dictionaries' definitions of "theory" to mean something that is "well-supported and widely accepted" is wrong -- it just creates confusion.

As I said, the purpose of language is to communicate, not play word games.

Friday, July 25, 2008 3:01:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"it's correct manner"

I can't resist commenting on the self-referentially oxymoronic nature of this usage. "It's" is incorrect grammar here (and elsewhere by "anonymous").

Friday, July 25, 2008 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>My update at the top did not claim that the scientific and colloquial meanings of "theory" are the same. I only said that dictionaries do not say that in science a "theory" is by definition well-supported and widely accepted -- a "scientific theory" can also be poorly-supported and widely rejected.<<<<

Nope, that's called a hypothesis. Something becomes a theory, basically, when a hypothesis is tested, ideally by experimentation designed as an attempt to falsify the theory, or, in cases where such experimentation is not possible, by the simple discovery of further evidence that could have hypothetically falsified it, but has failed to be falsified by this. Indeed, this is one area in which ID fails as a theory - there seems to be be no evidence or experiment that could hypothetically be discovered or carried out that could falsify it. You are correct to say, above, that there are 'weak theories' and 'strong theories', but your idea of what separates the two is simply wrong. 'Weak theories' are ones that have not been tested by the original proposer, but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently. 'Strong theories' are ones that have been tested many times, and this testing has failed to falsify it. Evolution is a very good example of a very strong theory, as, not only has the discovery of further evidence since it was first proposed failed to falsify it, some of this evidence has, in fact, served to further support it.

You mentioned 'string theory' above. Those who argue it is a scientific theory say that the very nature of quantum mechanics, not to mention the simple fact we are talking about distances measured on the Planck scale, means that it is, effectively, impossible to directly observe what goes on, and thus get direct evidence, but they have observed secondary effects that are consistent with string theory being true. Those who think it is unscientific to call it a theory, basically say, 'So what?' All this means is that, although string theory is hypothetically falsifiable, it is, in practice, unfalsifiable for the forseeable future, and thus should be referred to as the 'string hypothesis' because to use the word 'theory' suggests it is stronger than they say it actually is.

As for your actual claim that dictionaries do not say this, which dictionaries? I came across several dictionaries which seem to have at least one definition for the word 'theory' that said exactly that, and I also found something which seems to discount your claim that this has been 'concocted by Darwinists'. A note printed below the definitions for the word 'theory':

Theory is distinguished from hypothesis thus; a theory is founded on inferences drawn from principles which have been established on independent evidence; a hypothesis is a proposition assumed to account for certain phenomena, and has no other evidence of its truth, than that it affords a satisfactory explanation of those phenomena.

The above was published in Webster's Dictionary - 1828 edition.

>>>>In the colloquial meaning of "theory" as a "guess" or even a "hunch" (which might be intuitional or not even an "educated" guess), there can be "good guesses" and "bad guesses," but I think that when a theory is well-supported it should not be considered to be just a "guess," and so yes, I agree that interpreting "theory" as meaning "guess" implies that the theory is not well-supported.<<<<

Glad you realise that part, at least, is true...

>>>>Rather than depend upon words being interpreted in ways that are not defined or narrowly defined by dictionaries, adjectives and clarifications should be used to insure that a word is interpreted as intended -- that is what adjectives are for. I gave the example of a statement that was proposed for the Cobb County textbook sticker: "Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists, but questioned by some."<<<<

...but you then totally disregard what you, yourself, have just said. To apply what you have just said, that should be altered to 'evolution is a staggeringly well-supported theory about how modern life came to be, which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists, but is questioned by a tiny minority.' And, if you wanted to add further detail, in the interests of accuracy, that should actually end'...questioned by a tiny minority, who are usually working outside their field of expertise, and their questions are usually answered or shown to be irrelevant by scientists who accept evolution working within their field of expertise.'

>>>>I gave another example, the word "goal." Where a goal is a secondary goal, longshot goal, incidental goal, one of many goals, etc., it is wrong to say that it is "not a goal."<<<<

Except, from some of your other blog posts, you seem to also think calling something that is not a goal, of any type, stripe or kind, 'not a goal' is also wrong.

>>>>A law, for example, may have a glossary that gives special definitions of terms just for one-time use in that particular law, and that's OK. However, the Florida state science standards' attempt to rewrite dictionaries' definitions of "theory" to mean something that is "well-supported and widely accepted" is wrong -- it just creates confusion.

As I said, the purpose of language is to communicate, not play word games.<<<<

And having a clear definition of what 'theory' means when used in scientific terms eases communication, and, it seems, does NOT require rewriting definitions.

Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>'Weak theories' are ones that have not been tested by the original proposer, but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently.<<<<

Sorry, that should read, "'Weak theories' are ones that have been tested by the original proposer, but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently."

Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:12:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>a "scientific theory" can also be poorly-supported and widely rejected.

Nope, that's called a hypothesis. <<<<<<<

No, a hypothesis is something different. Here is how the Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes the differences between the terms --

synonyms HYPOTHESIS , THEORY , LAW mean a formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principle operating in nature. HYPOTHESIS implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation (a hypothesis explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs). THEORY implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth (the theory of evolution). LAW implies a statement of order and relation in nature that has been found to be invariable under the same conditions (the law of gravitation).

>>>>>>> You are correct to say, above, that there are 'weak theories' and 'strong theories' <<<<<<<

Then you are saying that the definitions of "theory" given by Darwinists are wrong, e.g., the Florida state standards defines "theory" as "well-supported and wide accepted" and the Miller-Levine biology textbook says, "In science, the word theory applies to a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations” (see above article by Branch and Mead). And by including "a broad range of observations" in the definition, Miller and Levine are trying to promote that "evolution-is-the-fundamental-principle-umderlying-all-of-biology" crap.

>>>>>>> 'Weak theories' are ones that have been tested by the original proposer, but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently (your statement as amended by your following comment) <<<<<<<

Wrong -- the term "weak theory" does not mean that the theory has been tested by the original proposer. That's bullshit.

>>>>>> I also found something which seems to discount your claim that this has been 'concocted by Darwinists'. A note printed below the definitions for the word 'theory':

Theory is distinguished from hypothesis thus; a theory is founded on inferences drawn from principles which have been established on independent evidence; a hypothesis is a proposition assumed to account for certain phenomena, and has no other evidence of its truth, than that it affords a satisfactory explanation of those phenomena.

The above was published in Webster's Dictionary - 1828 edition. <<<<<<<

Wrong. I said that Darwinists concocted the idea that "scientific theories" are by definition "well-supported and widely accepted" -- there is nothing in the preceding definition that says anything to support that idea. Also, not that it matters, but for someone who believes in evolution, don't you think that it is possible that the definition of "theory" may have "evolved" a little since 1828?

>>>>>> . . . but you then totally disregard what you, yourself, have just said. To apply what you have just said, that should be altered to 'evolution is a staggeringly well-supported theory about how modern life came to be, which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists, but is questioned by a tiny minority.' And, if you wanted to add further detail, in the interests of accuracy, that should actually end'...questioned by a tiny minority, who are usually working outside their field of expertise, and their questions are usually answered or shown to be irrelevant by scientists who accept evolution working within their field of expertise.' <<<<<<

But your statements are advocacy instead of being objective. Words like "staggeringly," "overwhelming," "usually," and "tiny" are subjective terms. The courts are supposed to take the viewpoint of an "objective observer." The following statement that was proposed for the Cobb County textbook sticker is objective: "Evolution is accepted by the majority of scientists, but questioned by some." BTW, appeals court judge Ed Carnes found the statement "evolution is a theory, not a fact" to be acceptable. As best I can remember, he told the plaintiffs' attorney something like the following: "I don't think y'all can contest any of the sentences. Evolution is a theory and not a fact -- the book supports that. Your problem is that you've got to take a statement that is reflective of a book that you love so much, and say that it violates the First Amendment."

Also, as for your statement, "working outside their field of expertise" -- Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells have Ph.D's in biology-related fields. William Dembski has a Ph.D in mathematics but his work deals with the mathematical aspects of evolution and intelligent design. Also, credentials aren't everything -- a lot of the participants in the debate have no formal training in related fields. Fatheaded Ed Brayton is by his own admission not a college graduate, yet he is always pontificating about the law and science and is accepted as a co-blogger on Panda's Thumb.

>>>>>> Except, from some of your other blog posts, you seem to also think calling something that is not a goal, of any type, stripe or kind, 'not a goal' is also wrong. <<<<<<

Wrong -- from Zachary's Blount's description, Cit+ evolution could be described as at least a secondary goal, longshot goal, incidental goal, one of many goals, etc.. To say that it was "not a goal" is very misleading -- that means that it was not foreseen as a possible and desirable result. I have been over this a zillion times already.

>>>>>> And having a clear definition of what 'theory' means when used in scientific terms eases communication, and, it seems, does NOT require rewriting definitions. <<<<<<

As I said, it is clear that the Darwinists are trying to rewrite the definition of "theory" in order to promote evolution theory. If a "scientific theory" is by definition always strong, then what words would you use to describe what might otherwise be called a "weak scientific theory"? A "weak theory" may be stronger than a "hypothesis."

As I said, the purpose of language is to communicate, not play word games. Also, since the connotations of words often change with time, it is especially important to be explicit in writings in order to help prevent later misinterpretation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 5:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have been over this a zillion times already."

And its truth increases in direct proportion. I.e., another zillion and it will be twice as true. Right?

Sunday, July 27, 2008 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>Wrong -- the term "weak theory" does not mean that the theory has been tested by the original proposer. That's bullshit.<<<<

Sorry, this shows you have absolutely no clue whatsoever about science. It is the absolute basics of scienctific practise that you study the evidence, form a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, and if your hypothesis is not disproved, you have yourself a theory. This is usually taught as one of the first things, if not THE first thing that introduces pupils to science in school.

All I can do is give you this bit of advice - if your knowledge of science is that lacking, leave discussing things that are way over your head to those who know better.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> All I can do is give you this bit of advice - if your knowledge of science is that lacking, leave discussing things that are way over your head to those who know better. <<<<<

What do you mean, "those who know better," you stupid ignoramus.

Einstein, for example, did not perform the first test of his theory of relativity. The first test was performed by others who observed the bending of starlight around a solar eclipse.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 1:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>Einstein, for example, did not perform the first test of his theory of relativity.<<<<

...words fail me. Einstein did not perform the first test of the 'Theories of Relativity' (there's actually two of them). He performed the first tests of the 'Hypotheses of Relativity' by seeing if those hypotheses reconcile with known physics, at the time. When he saw that his hypotheses were not falsified, he then proposed his hypotheses as theories.

I'll say it a bit more clearly - IT IS THE ABSOLUTE BASICS OF SCIENCE TO TEST A HYPOTHESIS IN ORDER FOR IT TO BECOME A THEORY.

Monday, July 28, 2008 6:32:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>...words fail me <<<<<<

That's right -- words fail you.

>>>>>>I'll say it a bit more clearly - IT IS THE ABSOLUTE BASICS OF SCIENCE TO TEST A HYPOTHESIS IN ORDER FOR IT TO BECOME A THEORY. <<<<<<

That's not what you said before -- you said that "weak theories" have been tested by the "original proposer":

"'Weak theories' are ones that have been tested by the original proposer, but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently."

Also, a theory can become strong as a result of the first test, so whether a theory has been tested only once has nothing to do with whether it is a weak theory or a strong theory. Also, your statement "but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently" is absurd -- when theories are tested is determined by the opportunities for testing and the inclinations of researchers (for example, a solar eclipse -- which was used to observe the bending of starlight by the sun's gravity -- is a rare occurrence).

Monday, July 28, 2008 8:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>That's not what you said before -- you said that "weak theories" have been tested by the "original proposer":<<<<

Yes, the original proposer tested the theory, or else it wouldn't BE a theory - it would be a hypothesis.

Idiot.

Monday, July 28, 2008 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>Also, a theory can become strong as a result of the first test, so whether a theory has been tested only once has nothing to do with whether it is a weak theory or a strong theory.<<<<

The simple logic and basic knowledge required to understand this seemingly eludes you. If a theory hasn't been tested very much, it is weak. If it has been tested again and again and again, but has failed to be disproven, it is strong. I am trying to think of a more basic way to put this, as, seemingly, even this language is too complex for you, but, unfortunately, I am failing.

>>>>Also, your statement "but not been tested much since, usually due to them being proposed fairly recently" is absurd -- when theories are tested is determined by the opportunities for testing and the inclinations of researchers (for example, a solar eclipse -- which was used to observe the bending of starlight by the sun's gravity -- is a rare occurrence).<<<<

Hence the word 'usually'. Most scientific theories are of a nature that the opportunities for testing occur frequently. This means that any theory that is proposed is usually fairly quickly tested, and repeatedly so. This means that, usually, the main reason a 'weak theory' is a 'weak theory' is because it hasn't been around for very long.

You really are a complete and utter dolt of the highest order, aren't you?

Monday, July 28, 2008 12:28:00 PM  

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