Darwinists Discover the Experimental Method

For some time now, I’ve been trying to drive the point home that Darwinists employ methods that are insufficient to support their conclusions.  Their theories have many causal predictions (e.g., random mutation + natural selection causes new species or rm+ns results in new complex functions/information).  In science, when your theory makes causal statements, you are limited to the experimental method in order to test the prediction.  Some supportive information can be gleaned from correlational studies (i.e., how much one variable is associated with another), but the theory is not truly tested unless an experimental design is utilized.  The experimental method is used extremely rarely in evolutionary research.

This brings us to the reason for my post.  A recent study found that a statistical method used in many studies of natural selection is invalid.

Scientists at Penn State and the National Institute of Genetics in Japan have demonstrated that several statistical methods commonly used by biologists to detect natural selection at the molecular level tend to produce incorrect results. “Our finding means that hundreds of published studies on natural selection may have drawn incorrect conclusions,” said Masatoshi Nei, Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and the team’s leader.

Of course, nearly all of these hundreds of potentially invalid studies do not employ the experimental method, but simply use statistical analyses of DNA/gene sequences and so forth. And from this, they often draw causal conclusions (RM+NS resulted in this new function). However, it was found that the statistical methods were incorrect in their predictions.

In real fields of science, the experimental method is performed routinely. In psychology, the experimental method is practiced very often. Not so with evolutionary biology. The reason given in this press release was:

Nei said that to obtain a more realistic picture of natural selection, biologists should pair experimental data with their statistical data whenever possible. Scientists usually do not use experimental data because such experiments can be difficult to conduct and because they are very time-consuming.

Yes, real science is difficult to conduct and is time consuming, but I submit to you that it would be worth it to have properly designed, and properly conducted research. I think an interesting statistic would be to determine how much money has been wasted on improperly conducted research by evolutionary biologists.  I’m not saying that correlational research is not science, but it’s not science to make causal inferences from methods that do not support causal inferences.  Even by using the experimental method, the best you can hope for is a reduction in bias.  Bias is nearly impossible to eliminate from studies, because studies are conducted by scientists (i.e., biased human beings).

Here is the take home message for Darwinists:

1). When you make causal predictions and wish to draw causal inferences, you must use the experimental method.

2). If you are not going to use the experimental method, but a correlational method, your conclusion must not go beyond the method you are using (e.g., this caused that). The best you can say is: this is related to that or this is associated with that.

3). Imagination is not an experimental or even scientific method.

4). If you use statistical methods to make predictions, the methods must first be validated. Otherwise your predictions are of unknown validity.

Reference

(1). Hundreds of Natural Selection Studies could be Wrong, Study Says

Original Source: Reliabilities of identifying positive selection by the branch-site and the site-prediction methods

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13 Responses

  1. […] For those of you who believe in God and His Christ and allow your children to attend public schools, this is how your children are being indoctrinated in “pop-science.” “Pop-science,” meaning the Discovery, National Geographic and History Channel’s (corporate-motivated selling-of-soap-suds) version of “science,” which is all most public-school science-teachers have ever been trained in or understand. When it comes to the origins of the universe and humanity (God’s creation), your children are being fed nothing more than pseudo-scientific, multisyllabic fairy tales that are metaphysical in nature (since they seek to disprove God) and are therefore, ineffective and bad science. […]

  2. […] via Darwinists Discover the Experimental Method | Intelligent Design and More. […]

  3. […] Darwinists Discover the Experimental Method | Intelligent Design and More. Share and […]

  4. Yes, real science is difficult to conduct and is time consuming, but I submit to you that it would be worth it to have properly designed, and properly conducted research. I think an interesting statistic would be to determine how much money has been wasted on improperly conducted research by evolutionary biologists.

    This hits me close to home in a number of ways. I’ve been in academia for about twelve years now, if you include both grad school and my teaching gigs, and I’ve had a lot of up-close and personal encounters with how the university works. (No doubt I’m due for a lot more, too.)

    Thing is, universities in this country are not about teaching for its own sake, and they are not about the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Universities and colleges are ‘corporatized’, where professors, lecturers, post-docs, and grad students fall into different categories of cheap, exploited labor. Under these conditions, the difference between employment and unemployment means whether one keeps on getting grants (the university always takes a cut for itself), whether one keeps on racking up publications. So difficult and time-consuming experiments take a back burner.

    In other words, don’t be so hasty to blame evolutionary biologists — but take a step back and consider the system of which they are a part, the system of the corporate university.

  5. I would not disagree that it is a systemic problem. You make some good points. The university systems of this country are disturbing in a number of ways.

    I will however flatly disagree with this statement:

    In other words, don’t be so hasty to blame evolutionary biologists — but take a step back and consider the system of which they are a part, the system of the corporate university.

    Even if you don’t have the time to do an experimental study because you need to push publications out the door, this is not an excuse for conclusions that go far beyond the methodology that is used.

  6. this is not an excuse for conclusions that go far beyond the methodology that is used.

    Firstly, that’s not quite what the Nei study demonstrates. The Nei study demonstrates that using statistical methods to demonstrate natural selection conflict with experimental methods to demonstrate natural selection, and so there are good reasons for being suspicious about claims about natural selection where those claims are based on statistical methods.

    Now, from what I understand, no one before the Nei study realized that there’s a serious discrepancy between these two techniques of measuring natural selection. So when you say, “this is not an excuse for conclusions that go far beyond the methodology that is used,” I’m confused — it sounds like you’re blaming evolutionary biologists for not having known then what they know now.

    I suppose the question that should be asked here is, “should evolutionary biologists have carried out something like the Nei study before they used statistical methods to make assertions about natural selection?” Perhaps, and perhaps not. For all I know — which is not very much! — the Nei study was only possible once massive amounts of data based on statistical measurements of natural selection could be collected.

  7. It’s really fairly simple. If you say, “We used this statistical method to predict where positive selection has occured,” but base it on a hypothetical method that has not been shown empirically to actually predict what you are talking about, then you are not conducting science in a valid manner. As an example, in psychology is the notion of validity (e.g., construct, predictive, and so forth). If you are going to use a test in a study, you must first review, or demonstrate the validity of that test.

    The Nei study did not even use a real experiment, but used a simulation. I suppose some might consider that to be a “real” experiment, but of course the generalizability to biology as it happens in the world is even questionable with this study. I would say that there is some legitimacy to this study, because the statistical methods did not work with the simulation data.

    Here’s one of the problems. When you say, “Our statistical analysis shows that positive selection for this trait occurred at this location,” you have made a causal inference (I’m not actually referring to you, but using the term generally). In order to demonstrate cause-effect relationships, you must use an experiment. The trouble with Darwinist researchers, is that they make their causal inferences before they even begin the studies (e.g., NS+RM results in increased function). They have already assumed the “facts” of evolution, and thus do not test the null hypotheses of their theories.

  8. Carl wrote,

    Thing is, universities in this country are not about teaching for its own sake, and they are not about the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Universities and colleges are ‘corporatized’, where professors, lecturers, post-docs, and grad students fall into different categories of cheap, exploited labor. Under these conditions, the difference between employment and unemployment means whether one keeps on getting grants (the university always takes a cut for itself), whether one keeps on racking up publications. So difficult and time-consuming experiments take a back burner.

    If this is the case (you are the expert) then why would lay persons like me put any stock in what university research has to say on any issue? In a way, Carl, you summed up the very reason why I am skeptical of this new brand of “science!” You blew the whistle on your own system!

  9. […] via Darwinists Discover the Experimental Method | Intelligent Design and More. […]

  10. Well, sure, that’s just how Power structures work. There is always an enslaver and an enslaved.

    Most corporate-controlled, meat-grinder, pay-an-arm-and-a-leg educations can be gotten for late fees from the public library, after all (to paraphrase from “Good Will Hunting”!).

    If you want to learn about something, read books, find a mentor or teacher, or take specifically-targeted classes if you need specific hands-on training.

    We put way too much weight and dollars in the “educational institutions”. I firmly believe we would be better off if EVERY teacher went into private practice, and wasn’t subservient to any corruptible megalomaniac power system. (In my Christian-Anarchist dream world, that might be nice!)

  11. Mike said,

    We put way too much weight and dollars in the “educational institutions”. I firmly believe we would be better off if EVERY teacher went into private practice, and wasn’t subservient to any corruptible megalomaniac power system. (In my Christian-Anarchist dream world, that might be nice!)

    I guess then I’m an “Christian-Anarchist” also!

    This wouldn’t work, however, because, in particular, many college profs (not all, Carl) are hiding behind ivory encrusted walls where they never have to produce or face reality, as the rest of humanity does every day! They are in some form of arrested development where they just simply made going to school a career!!

  12. Warning: off-topic

    Also in my dreamworld, it would be against law to buy or sell anything on credit. Nobody should be enslaved to anybody else!

    Imagine being able to buy and own anything outright instead of borrowing imaginary funds you don’t have that will enslave you for life. Nobody would be able to charge prices that nobody can pay out of pocket. Everyone lives within their means and nobody owns anybody else’s material assets. The bond between money and blood is therefore broken. This would also totally make obsolete the gambling racket that is the stock market, and all the leaches that live off it, as well as the whole banking system. (Although banks would be needed simply to store cash, and facilitate electronic transfers.)

    Think small thriving independent communities, complete with private contractors, “guerilla” churches, etc… not the corporate world that thrives on enslavement of people, that Revelation so aptly refers to the “Beast”, in spiritual terms. Scrape off that number from your hand/forehead!

  13. Mike,

    Your statement go hand in hand with scripture, which states that the Lord isn’t fond of “usury.”

    “You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. (Deuteronomy 23: 19)

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