In an experiment, there are one of more hypotheses. When positive predictions are made, there necessarily exists what is called a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis should be stated formally, and constructed before the study is conducted.
H0: Two simultaneous mutations are the upper limit for providing any functional advantage by evolutionary processes.
H1: Evolutionary processes may result in three or more simultaneous mutations conferring a functional advantage to an organism.
In the example above, H0 is the null hypothesis, and H1 is the experimental hypothesis. When an experiment is conducted, a finding of 3 or more simultaneous mutations resulting in a functional advantage would be said to falsify the null hypothesis.
The final writeup would go something like, “Our experiments demonstrated that 3 simultaneous mutations occurred resulting in a functional advantage for the organism. Therefore, we reject H0 in favor of H1.” The trouble in evolutionary biology is that there often is no H0. There is no formal null hypothesis. Evolution is considered to be a fact, and the null hypothesis is not addressed or tested.
Consider a recent peer-reviewed article that provides a null hypothesis that has not been falsified by Darwinist researchers:
The theme of this paper is the active pursuit of falsification of the following null hypothesis:
“Physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” At first glance the falsification of this hypothesis might seem like a daunting task. But a single exception of non trivial, unaided, spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would quickly falsify this null hypothesis.(1)
Again, the trouble with most Darwinists is that they would not even consider testing this null hypothesis, because “evolution is a fact.” It is my opinion, that the metaphysical worldview of these scientists (i.e., philosophical naturalism), prevents them from doing real science. Without testing their theories against ID hypotheses, they are failing to conduct valid research, and are engaging in little more than materialistic apologetics.
It is also possible to use a null hypothesis as an experimental hypothesis. Extra safeguards are needed with an experiment of this nature. Specifically, what is needed is more experimental power. This translates essentially to a larger subject pool or number of trials. The experimental power required varies based on the field of study and what is being studied. The level required is based on a scientific consensus. In other words, scientists may agree in a given area of study that the power must be 95%. This translates essentially to “The probability that a true experimental hypothesis will be supported by our methods.” The 5% in this case is considered to be an acceptable risk for the given field of study. In other words, 5% of the time in similarly conducted studies, we would find results that do not support the experimental hypothesis when the experimental hypothesis is in fact true.
In psychology, the level of power needed is often considered 80%. When a null hypothesis is used as an experimental hypothesis, the power needed may be set at 90 to 95%. There are other technical and statistical aspects of determining the number of trials or subjects needed, but I won’t get into that.
Suffice it to say, that properly conducted research may state as an experimental hypothesis: “Two mutations are the maximum number of simultaneous mutations that can occur in a population of X size and given Y generations which would confer a functional advantage.” This is one reason that part of the work done by Michael Behe in the Edge of Evolution is valid science. Hypotheses stated in this way are not arguments from ignorance, but valid scientific hypotheses that lend themselves to scientific investigation.
I don’t know if Dr. Abel, who published the article, The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity, is an IDist or a Darwinist. That doesn’t really matter much to me, but what does matter is that he has given a fair treatment to the issue in a way that advances science.
Dr. Abel writes:
While proof may be evasive, science has an obligation to be honest about what the entire body of evidence clearly suggests. We cannot just keep endlessly labeling abundant evidence of formal prescription in nature “apparent.” The fact of purposeful programming at multiple layers gets more “apparent” with each new issue of virtually every molecular biology journal [179-181]. Says de Silva
Molecular substrates can be viewed as computational devices that process physical or chemical ‘inputs’ to generate ‘outputs’ based on a set of logical operators. By recognizing this conceptual crossover between chemistry and computation, it can be argued that the success of life itself is founded on a much longer-term revolution in information handling when compared with the modern semiconductor computing industry. Many of the simpler logic operations can be identified within chemical reactions and phenomena, as well as being produced in specifically designed systems. Some degree of integration can also be arranged, leading, in some instances, to arithmetic processing. These molecular logic systems can also end themselves to convenient reconfiguring. Their clearest application area is in the life sciences, where their small size is a distinct advantage over conventional semiconductor counterparts. Molecular logic designs aid chemical (especially intracellular) sensing, small object recognition and intelligent diagnostics .
What scientific evidence exists of physicodynamics ever having programmed a single purposeful configurable switch-setting? If we cannot present any such evidence, we should be self-honest enough to start asking ourselves, “How long are we going to try to maintain this ruse that the cybernetic programming we repeatedly observe is only ‘apparent’ rather than real?”
Indeed, if you want to start conducting real science in evolutionary biology, then it is time to start including ID notions as null or experimental hypotheses. However, the Darwinists are likely to continue their metaphysical pursuits at the sacrifice of properly conducted scientific investigation.
(1). Abel, D. L. (2009). The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity, International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Hat Tip: scordova @ Uncommon Descent