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Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Science standards evolve again

Kansas State Board of Education Chairman Bill Wagnon, left, and board member Kenneth Willard discuss science standards after the board adopted new, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools in a 6-4 vote. Wagnon voted Tuesday for the standards and Willard voted against them, as the board changed the science standards for the fifth time in eight years.

Kansas State Board of Education Chairman Bill Wagnon, left, and board member Kenneth Willard discuss science standards after the board adopted new, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools in a 6-4 vote. Wagnon voted Tuesday for the standards and Willard voted against them, as the board changed the science standards for the fifth time in eight years.

February 14, 2007

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Kansas State Board of Education Chairman Bill Wagnon, left, and board member Kenneth Willard discuss science standards after the board adopted new, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools in a 6-4 vote. Wagnon voted Tuesday for the standards and Willard voted against them, as the board changed the science standards for the fifth time in eight years.

Kansas State Board of Education Chairman Bill Wagnon, left, and board member Kenneth Willard discuss science standards after the board adopted new, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools in a 6-4 vote. Wagnon voted Tuesday for the standards and Willard voted against them, as the board changed the science standards for the fifth time in eight years.

— New, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas' public schools were adopted Tuesday by the State Board of Education, replacing ones that questioned the theory and generated international ridicule.

The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of "intelligent design," who had helped write the older standards being jettisoned.

Some scientists and science groups believed the board's latest action was significant because it turned back a subtle attack on evolution that encouraged schools to teach about an evolution "controversy," rather than mandating that creationism or intelligent design be taught. Intelligent design says an intelligent cause is the best way to explain some complex and orderly features of the universe.

"What we're seeing around the country is more attempts to qualify or downgrade evolution," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., which fights efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution. "The 'evidence against evolution' is the creationism du jour."

But John West, a senior fellow with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design research, predicted the Kansas board's vote would have little effect nationwide - just as states didn't follow Kansas' lead when the board adopted its previous standards in November 2005.

"It's not going to be a precedent in other states," he said. "Education is largely a state and local matter, so states are going to do what they think is best and so are local school boards."

Nor do people involved in Kansas' debate think the board's 6-4 vote Tuesday settles the issue. State law will require the board to update the standards again by 2014, and elections before then could give conservatives a majority again.

"I think we're good for two years," said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat who supported the new standards. "Who knows what the election will hold in two years?"

See-saw battle

The state has had five sets of standards in eight years, with anti- and pro-evolution versions, each doomed by the seesawing fortunes of socially conservative Republicans and a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans. The moderate bloc had a 6-4 majority after elections last year; conservatives prevailed when the board adopted anti-evolution guidelines 15 months ago.

Although other states have seen debates and court fights over evolution, Kansas' back-and-forth have brought it additional attention. Scott also blames images others have of Kansas from "The Wizard of Oz."

"It's the centrality of Kansas as middle America and generic America that made this front-page news," she said. "You aren't unique, unfortunately."

There were debates or legal battles in California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Nevada and South Carolina over evolution and "intelligent design."

But none has inspired comedians' jokes or parodies like Kansas' ongoing battle has, such as the four-part "Evolution Schmevolution" series in 2005 on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

A conservative-led state board deleted most references to evolution in rewriting the standards in 1999; two years later, a less conservative board returned to evolution-friendly standards.

Conservative Republicans skeptical of evolution had a 6-4 majority when the standards came up for review again in 2005.

State Board of Education members Kathy Martin, left, and Sally Cauble look over new evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools during a board meeting in Topeka. The board voted 6-4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that eliminate language about intelligent design. The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher authority.

State Board of Education members Kathy Martin, left, and Sally Cauble look over new evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas public schools during a board meeting in Topeka. The board voted 6-4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that eliminate language about intelligent design. The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher authority.

Hearings that year drew journalists from Canada, France, Great Britain and Japan. The National Academy of Sciences, the National Association of Science Teachers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science condemned the board's actions.

But moderate Republicans captured two seats from conservatives in GOP primaries last year, guaranteeing a return to evolution-friendly guidelines.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat re-elected last year, cited embarrassment caused by the board's past decisions on evolution as a reason to strip it of its power to set education policy.

"Governor Sebelius has consistently said that we need more science education in our schools, not less, so she is relieved to see the State Board of Education take this action," spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

Mainstrem consensus

The board on Tuesday removed language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts - like a common origin for all life on Earth and change in species creating new ones - were controversial and being challenged by new research. Also approved was a new definition of science, specifically limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what's observed in the universe.

"Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is," said Jack Krebs, an Oskaloosa math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines. He is also president of Kansas Citizens for Science.

But the board's conservative minority said the new standards will limit the relevant information students get about evolution.

"There seems to be a pattern," said board member Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City Republican. "Anything that might question the veracity of evolution is deleted."

Many Kansans harbor religious objections and other misgivings about evolution, even 198 years after British naturalist Charles Darwin's birth, the anniversary of which was Monday. The Intelligent Design Network presented petitions with almost 4,000 signatures, opposing the standards the board eventually adopted.













How they voted

Voting yesSally Cauble, R-LiberalSue Gamble, R-ShawneeCarol Rupe, R-WichitaJana Shaver, R-IndependenceBill Wagnon, D-TopekaJanet Waugh, D-Kansas CityVoting noSteve Abrams, R-Arkansas CityJohn Bacon, R-OlatheKathy Martin, R-Clay CenterKen Willard, R-Hutchinson

"Let's have an open mind and question things," Rebecca Hoagland, a research statistician from Osawatomie, said during a public hearing before the board's vote.

Hoagland said she home-schools her daughter and three sons. She believes public schools don't teach students how to think critically about such subjects as evolution, and "I don't see it changing."

Family values

Greg Lassey, a retired Wichita-area biology teacher, said the new standards also undermine families by "discrediting parents who reject materialism and the ethics and morals it fosters." And others, including John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney who help found the Intelligent Design Network, accused the board of promoting atheism.

But the Rev. Douglas Phenix, a retired Presbyterian minister from Topeka, welcomed the rewriting even though he acknowledged that, "The doctrine of creation is absolutely central to my belief system." He said the standards being replaced were "fraudulent" and suggested students had to choose between faith and evolution.

"I feel personally offended," he said. "It is a false choice."

The state uses it standards to develop tests that measure how well students are learning science. Although decisions about what's taught in classrooms remain with 296 local school boards, both sides in the evolution dispute say the standards will influence teachers as they try to ensure that their students test well.

Wichita Superintendent Winston Brooks said anti-evolution standards might have influenced teaching had they remained in place. But he and other educators had anticipated the old guidelines might be short-lived.

"We haven't changed our science books. We haven't changed our science curriculum," Brooks said. "I guess it's one of those things, if you wait long enough, this too shall pass."



























Evolution Timeline

Events important to the Kansas controversy over evolution:July 1, 1858: Linnean Society of London publishes joint paper from British naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace on natural selection and formation of new species.Nov. 24, 1859: First edition of Darwin's "The Origin of Species," outlining his theories about evolution, is published.Jan. 29, 1861: Kansas joins the Union as the 34th state.July 10, 1925: In Dayton, Tenn., John Scopes is tried for violating state law against teaching evolution. The "Monkey Trial" lasts eight days; Scopes is convicted and fined $100, but conviction is overturned on appeal. Nov. 12, 1968: U.S. Supreme Court strikes down an anti-evolution law in Arkansas, saying it violates a First Amendment mandate that government remain neutral on matters of religion.June 19, 1987: U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a Louisiana law forbidding teaching evolution unless creation science is also taught. The ruling bans teaching of creationism in public school.June 1991: Phillip Johnson, University of California law professor, publishes "Darwin on Trial," criticizing evolutionary theory. Johnson becomes known as the founding father of intelligent design movement.May 11, 1999: Kansas Board of Education reviews proposed science standards written by a committee of educators. Board member Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City Republican, offers his own proposal, drafted with help from others, including the president of the Creation Science Association for Mid-America.Aug. 11, 1999: Board votes 6-4 to adopt science standards in which most references to evolution are eliminated.Feb. 9, 2000: Board member Scott Hill, an Abilene Republican who supported the new science standards, announces he won't seek re-election. His seat is won by Bruce Wyatt, a Salina Republican critical of the board's actions.Aug. 1, 2000: Republican primary voters oust state board members Linda Holloway, of Shawnee, and Mary Douglass Brown, of Wichita, who supported the new science standards. Their opponents opposed the standards.Jan. 9, 2001: Three new state board members, Wyatt; Sue Gamble, a Shawnee Republican, and Carol Rupe, a Wichita Republican, are sworn in, tipping power to a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.Feb. 14, 2001: Board votes 7-3 for new science standards restoring evolution's previous place in the standards as well-founded science, crucial for students to learn.Aug. 6, 2002: Conservatives Connie Morris, of St. Francis, and Iris Van Meter, of Thayer, win a GOP primary against incumbents who favored a return to evolution-friendly standards.Jan. 14, 2003: Morris and Van Meter are sworn in; board is split 5-5.Aug. 12, 2003: The state board votes 7-3 to have state science standards reviewed but says work won't start for another year.Aug. 3, 2004: Conservative Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, unseats Wyatt in Republican primary.Jan. 11, 2005: Martin is sworn in, giving conservative Republicans a 6-4 majority on the board.May 5, 2005: Three-member subcommittee opens four days of hearings on evolution, hearing testimony from intelligent design advocates. National and state science groups boycott, saying the hearings are rigged.June 9, 2005: Subcommittee approves proposed standards containing language sought by intelligent design advocates.Nov. 8, 2005: Board approves proposed science standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory. March 14, 2006: Van Meter announces she won't seek re-election.Aug. 1, 2006: Sally Cauble, of Liberal, defeats Morris in the GOP primary, while Jana Shaver, a moderate Republican from Independence, wins the GOP primary for Van Meter's seat. Those victories guarantee a 6-4 moderate board majority in 2007-08.Nov. 7, 2006: Cauble and Shaver win their general election races. Three other board incumbents two conservative Republicans and a Democrat also win.Jan. 9, 2007: The board's new moderate majority decides to reopen the debate over the science standards and reviews a proposal from a committee of scientists and educators.Tuesday: The board approves new standards.

Comments

Frank Smith 7 years, 10 months ago

The Discovery Institute is fueled by money from its Board member Howard Ahmanson, an Orange County, California, Christian Reconstructionist. http://lippard.blogspot.com/2007/01/creationist-finances-discovery.html

It is joined in recruitment efforts for the Flat Earth Society by such organizations as Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, Access Research Network, the Creation Evidence Museum, Creation Illustrated Ministries, Creation Moments, Creation Research Society, and Creation Worldview Ministries, all ultra-right know-nothing fat cats determined to stamp out rational thought.

Those players want to substitute the Bible for our Constitution. If this revision of science standards meant as little as West claimed, Discovery wouldn't have dumped boatloads of tax-exempt money into trying to preserve the seat of larcenous ex-Board member Connie Morris. Her Christian Nationalist colleagues wouldn't have ignored the Biblical precepts against lying and stealing in their efforts to protect her from the consequences of her behavior.

They have been amply supported by the Kansas Republican Assembly, which managed the campaign of Phill Kline and other racists and ideologues, and imported the Idaho carpetbagger son-in-law of retiring Board member Iris Van Meter to fill her seat.

Why have the now four-person minority and their traveling companions joined this effort?

There's the old joke about the guy who goes to a psychiatrist: "Doctor, my family is worried about my brother." "What seems to be the problem?," Doc asks. "He thinks he's a chicken." "That's pretty serious," responds the doc. "How long has this been going on?" "It's been years." Doc asks, "Why didn't you come to me sooner?" "We needed the eggs."

thorsdag 7 years, 10 months ago

The controversy over how to teach science or faith would disappear quickly if students learned the basics of how to think, analyze, and express themselves. Every individual should be free to make up his or her mind on this and every other issue. Unfortunately, few students in Kansas or elsewhere are held accountable for learning basic skills in logic, rational inquiry, or clear self-expression. Yet these are fundamental to successful adulthood and social order.

Let's put effort not into grand-standing debates about dogma but into strong and effective education. Teachers, parents, taxpayers, school boards ... are you paying attention?

Tod Roberts, former Lawrencian Sarasota, Florida

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

ksmoderate said, "Das, I'd even go so far as to say that a leading cause of atheism is attempted indoctrination by Christianists!"

Actually, that fits my own observations. Many of the atheists, especially those studying or having studied biology, that I've met and known came from fundamentalist upbringing, and I've come to the conclusion that they (fundamentalists) set their own kids up to become atheists.

Well, for one thing, many/most kids tend to rebel against what their parents want them to be/believe.

But I'm not even talking about that. I mean more because of the binary "100% literally true or 100% false" attitude fundies tend to teach about the bible and their own doctrines and interpretations.

It requires lots of zeal and religious indoctrination to get the kids to believe it and defend it. This includes setting up a distrust in them for dissenting views, including science and including looking at all the evidence against their beliefs and for scientific explanations instead.

That's why most creationists seem like they wont' even look at the evidence for evolution, and even if they do, they have copouts in mind already to dismiss/deny it as valid (which themselves aren't valid)

However...

When their children DO learn a little science and see the evidence and realize they were lied to about it, they tend to still have the "100% true or 100% false" binary thinking, and figure if THAT part is a lie, perhaps it's ALL a lie, leading them to reject all theistic religion for atheism.

Whereas the kids of moderate Christians aren't taught they must reject science (or at least "disputed" parts of it), and can learn something new in science, including evidence for evolution, and go "Cool, that's interesting", without their faith in any way being hindered or threatened.

That has been my experience. Both in my life, and most of the Christians I know.

cdc 7 years, 10 months ago

Go see the movie "Flock of Dodos." It is inspiring and enlightening.

Tod Roberts, Rebecca Hoagland, and School Board Members Steve Abrams, John Bacon, Kathy Martin, Ken Willard TAKE NOTE:

There is NO evolution controversy.

Just as the Theory of Gravity is a Theory, The Theory of Evolution is ALSO a theory.

However, even though these things cannot be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, Evolution is MORE of a fact than anything else.

THere is no controversy. There are ZERO valid arguments AGAINST evolution.

By the way, I am an ADAMENT Christian and an ADAMENT EVOLUTIONIST. The two are NOT incompatible in ANY WAY.

Teach students to think critically about how Bush is destroying the country they live in. Teach students to think critically about religion and how it has resulted in great violence and hate over the centuries. Teach students to think critically about politics and literature.

BUT YOU CANNOT think "critically" about evolution. Evolution is basically proven through the fossil record and evolution is STILL taking place today. It is a FACT. A FACT.

There are ZERO other scientifically-valid theories on explaining how life has developed and changed over time.

There is a valid, religious-view that God just poof, created us. BUT IT IS NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT Science, and should NOT NOT NOT be taught in schools. No religious viewpoint should be taught in schools. And Intelligent Design IS a religious viewpoint. It is not science and has absolutely ZERO scientific support.

The Separation of Church and State is one of the GREATEST things about America and has helped our country EVOLVE into the great power that it is. Let's keep it that way.

preebo 7 years, 10 months ago

May I just say, as a Kansas Resident, I am now comfortable to mention my place of residence without fear of laughter. For now, we are at least on par with every other state, province, and country in the world. Let's just hope this is not short lived.

KS 7 years, 10 months ago

preebo - It will change again with the next election. GIve it time. :)

Kodiac 7 years, 10 months ago

75x55,

While it is agreeable and certainly encouraged that students be taught to think, analyze, and express themselves, the idea that there is some kind of "choice" when it comes to the theory of evolution is grossly wrong and misguided. It certainly speaks volumes of how you think and how much you actually understand 75x55.

Evolution is not about religion. It never has been. There is no "choice" between a belief system and a scientific concept. Do either of you make "choices" when looking at the theory of gravity, plate tectonics theory, or Atomic Theory? I imagine you accept these concepts as legitimate subjects that don't offend your religion.

What you and Mr. Roberts fear and reject about evolution is that of human origins. There is no need for us to examine your convictions about human origins or the nature of the human soul. We don't need to get sidetracked into the problems of the origin of life. We have certainly examined and tested various ideas about the basic biochemistry that might have been present at our Origins but this is not about evolution. Science does not have all the answers, especially about the ultimate origin of life and the meaning of being human. Such concepts are still a mystery to us and I think most scientists do acknowledge this.

Kodiac 7 years, 10 months ago

75x55,

I have to disagree with you 75. I think you misunderstand me. There is no "controversy" here. Teaching evolution in science is about teaching students to think, analyze, and make rational decisions based on real natural world data. This isn't about positions or dogma or rejection of them. Mr Roberts statement of "Every individual should be free to make up his or her mind on this and every other issue. " is quite clear about what he wants but has nothing to do with how science is done or how it should be taught.

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh dear gods! You mean that schools teach kids about their bodies? The filth! It is stuff like this that gives leeway to the Rock and Roll that these kids are listening to these days. Next thing you know, they will be teaching our girls to persue careers instead of taking care of the home for her husband.

Kodiac 7 years, 10 months ago

Das,

LOL. Yes that is what I am trying to convey to 75 but not doing a very good job of it.

"whether they will accept or reject that all learning and knowledge is limited to the scientific/"natural world" viewpoint." --75x55

As Das is saying and I am trying to say 75, this article is about teaching science and I think that Mr. Roberts as well as you are still missing this point. Science is not a philosophy class, it is not religious class, it is most definitely not telling anyone what they have to BELIEVE. That is where I digress. Both you and Mr. Roberts are talking about beliefs which is not what science is. Please note that I am not against teaching philosophy to students and I do think that students and people should have the freedom to decide what they want to BELIEVE.

crono 7 years, 10 months ago

As I said yesterday, and will continue to repeat:

Scientific inquiry is limited to repeatedly observable phenomena.

The origin of life on earth happened once (assumedly) and none of us saw it happen.

Hence, the origin of life falls outside the epistemological bounds of the scientific method.

ksmoderate 7 years, 10 months ago

Das, I'd even go so far as to say that a leading cause of atheism is attempted indoctrination by Christianists!

Kodiac 7 years, 10 months ago

"And what I'm really trying to point out is that while that viewpoint reigns in the teaching of science (as it should), it has also been promoted as the end-all viewpoint for any and all thinking and teaching."-- 75x55

I find it hard to believe that any biology teacher or most scientists would promote this "end-all viewpoint". If that were actually happening in our science classroom, I would most definitely be protesting right along with you 75. I most certainly agree that science can become dogmatic but the solution to that is not with replacing it with more dogmatism (such as religion) but rather exposing this dogma as a fallacy.

white_mountain 7 years, 10 months ago

Intelligent Design is simply not testable, and therefore falls outside the definition of science. It is more akin to philosophy or religion.

By the way ID'ers.. why do humans have tail bones?

crono 7 years, 10 months ago

Das_Ubermime asked:

"Have you ever published a scientific paper, crono?"

Well, if you want to get into the specifics of my vita, yes, I have published scientific papers before. Multiple ones in national peer reviewed journals. And earned multiple top paper awards at academic conferences.

Regardless, I'm not sure how my ethos is related to the logos of my argument.

crono 7 years, 10 months ago

Das_Ubermime:

Rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks, perhaps you could provide your source that outlines a philosophy of science devoid of repeated observation. Perhaps we differ in our ontology of scientific inquiry.

Jamesaust 7 years, 10 months ago

""Let's have an open mind and question things," Rebecca Hoagland..."

What hogwash. Science is continually subject to questioning. What Hoagland means is exactly the opposite - she does not want to have an open mind and question why her own beliefs don't jive with the available evidence.

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?" - Alice in Wonderland

crono 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh, believe me, I value inductive methods---I'm not sure how science could be done at all if we couldn't make initial theoretical statements derived from anecdotal data. But it is unclear to me how any explanation derived from inductive methods alone could meet the scientific criterion of falsifiability---much more so when the phenomenon that is the object of inductive inquiry happened once (assumedly) and is not currently directly observable.

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

crono said, "As I said yesterday, and will continue to repeat: Scientific inquiry is limited to repeatedly observable phenomena. The origin of life on earth happened once (assumedly) and none of us saw it happen. Hence, the origin of life falls outside the epistemological bounds of the scientific method."

Yes. I saw you say it before. And I'll repeat what I've said before. You are WRONG.

Science does NOT require something to be REPEATABLE for us to be able to study it. We just need EVIDENCE from the event to study. We don't need the event to repeat. We don't have to MAKE it repeat ourselves, in a test tube or lab or

Repeatability is nice. But not required. That's a fallacy about scientific method. It ignores vast segments of science that deal with HISTORICAL events, based on the EVIDENCE left from them.

The origin of life (abiogenesis, unrelated to evolution) is one such thing, although our evidence for this is still far from expansive or conclusive. We have life existing now. We can learn things about how it started, by studying it and how it evolved since its origin, yes. We have even had some limited success creating simple life in the lab.

Have we had full blown life form from scratch in the lab in the conditions we think existed on the early earth? No. That does not mean it didn't happen, or that we won't succeed in the future. Some of our details on the early conditions may be off. Or maybe we haven't been trying long enough and it's a rare event (and the earth might have had almost a billion years before it happened, whereas we've only been trying for less than a century).

This doesn't mean we can't study life and evidence of early life and early conditions on earth and come up with an explanation (theory) on how it formed naturally. And from there, come up with a way of "repeating" it in testable, observable ways, perhaps.

"None of us saw it happen" is a creationist copout. One they don't want turned back on them. "Were you there?", they ask scientists and teachers... But they want us to believe their disproven myth instead. Were THEY there? No. However, we have evidence from that time that we can study. So claiming a past event we cannot (yet) reproduce is outside of science is just FALSE.

gr 7 years, 10 months ago

Next, gr8dane will be telling us science doesn't have to be observable to be science.

"We have even had some limited success creating simple life in the lab."

Really!!!! Please, give us a link. That must have been breaking news! Too bad I missed it. Or do you mean to emphasize the word "limited", as in it came close, but wasn't a success and thereby nothing was "created"?

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

gr: In the twist of fates that are these forums, someone brought up those experiments in support of intelligent design a few months ago. I can't remember the names, but there were two scientists who, in a controlled environment, ran an electric charge through primordial mass (yes, I'm making that up, but you may get the point) and succeeded in creating some form of protein or another. Sorry I can't give you more details. This experiment happened quite some time ago, I believe. Decades?

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

jonas and Das_Ubermime, yes, hence why I said LIMITED success. But my point is still valid. Our inability to repeat it (fully) in the lab doesn't mean it didn't happen in reality, and doesn't mean we can't study it scientifically, from the evidence left behind (including life itself). Nor does it mean we won't succeed at doing it some time in the future. Our inability to do it SO FAR is not a valid argument that it didn't happen. I was responding to crono's false claims about scientific method and its requirements, specifically.

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

gr laughably said, "Next, gr8dane will be telling us science doesn't have to be observable to be science."

(responding more for others than for gr, a known troll)

To which I make my usual "bait and switch" "vague" answer. Yes and no.

It depends what you mean by observable. (in science, lots of answers depend on lots of variables.) Events themselves dont' have to be observable, as I've already said. We don't have to repeat them (ourselves in the lab, or see them repeated in nature), to study the evidence left behind by past events.

However, studying that evidence can fit the definition (in science) of being observable. The EVIDENCE is observable, testable, studiable (is that a word?).

So in other words, yes and no. Yes, because we have to have EVIDENCE something occurred, and no, because that evidence doesn't necessarily require observing an event or process itself, and can be evidence that IT HAPPENED. Studying that can help us puzzle out how/why it happened.

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

By the way, my "limited success" comment wasn't just referring to the Miller Urey experiment. I seem to recall other, more recent announcements, like one where they made a virus (polio?) from scratch. I don't have the particulars, or I'd give them.

Ah yes. A simple search came up with (among others):

First Synthetic Virus Created: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2122619.stm

Although this seems to be more in line with "building" a virus from a "recipe" than in actually causing "abiogenesis" to form it as nature did, but that's not relevant to my original point.

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

That's interesting about the protobionts, though. I didn't know about that.

gr8dane 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes, and it's going off on a tangent, probably because my offhand "limited success" comment was all gr could find to mock in my post.

Not the main point, that 1) it doesn't have to be repeated in the lab to be studied by science, and 2) just because it HASN'T been repeated in the lab YET doesn't mean it won't in the future. Usually when we've studied it enough to be able to recreate necessary conditions, etc. Not to mention our level of technology catching up enough to do it.

But we've beaten crono over the head about that enough, I hope.

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