Richard Dawkins in conversation with Dave Rubin- 8/8/2017

Check out Richard Dawkins with Dave Rubin at the 92nd Street Y.

In his characteristically witty, brilliant fashion, the legendary biologist and public intellectual is calling on all of us to stand up for “the scientific way of thinking” — an approach based on evidence and logic rather than gut feelings and prejudices. Dawkins’ new career-spanning essay collection is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, and it represents a cri de cœur from our most dauntless advocate of rational thought. Hear his bold rallying cry for a truth-challenged society when he sits down with The Rubin Report’s Dave Rubin.

 

Source: https://livestream.com/92Y

28 COMMENTS

  1. Glad Richard is as keen as ever. Clear explanations all over. Dawkins is one of the most honourable advocates of Darwinian evolution facts! Hopefully he will be continuening like this for many years to come. Love it with my heart and with my scientific soul. 🙂

  2. I think Dr. Dawkins is overstating when he says “evolution is a fact”. I think, more accurately, it is a word we use to refer to a complex biological process we came to understand through many individual observations (scientific facts), tested hypotheses, and logical inferences. To say evolution is a fact because of facts is circular (what RD is saying). One might more accurately state, we think evolution is true because a multitude of individual facts substantiate the explanation.

  3. Phil #3

    All Professor Dawkins means when he says evolution is a fact is that it really happened and is still really happening, and we know this because of all the evidence accumulated in support of it over the last century and a half.

  4. “Soul” term that in Aristotle means “psyche”, I think “psyche” as equivalent of “personality” defined as all forms and ways of thinking and feeling of an individual (including, of course the desimbodied me that people suppose capable of resisting the death of the body).
    There´s no problem to me with the use of the word “soul”, and I would never object as far as I would object the word “God” in Physics.

  5. Garrick #4
    Aug 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I understand. He would be using the more colloquial sense of the word in the first case. The scientific sense of the word would be the individual pieces of “evidence accumulated” (scientific facts). To expound on my comment; My experience is that this community rightly objects when creationist purposefully use the more colloquial sense of the word theory in an attempt to diminish what we mean by evolution. I see Dr. Dawkins employing the same tactic as the creationists but by using the colloquial sense of the word fact in an attempt to bolster what we mean by evolution. I think scientist should be impeccable in their use of the terms. Leave the muddling of different senses of words to the creationists. Let’s not stoop to their level. Embrace what the National Academies of Science says of scientific theories; “theories are the end points of science. They are the understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences. In this sense, evolution is one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have.”

  6. Phil #6
    Aug 16, 2017 at 12:53 am

    I understand.
    He would be using the more colloquial sense of the word in the first case.
    The scientific sense of the word would be the individual pieces of “evidence accumulated” (scientific facts).

    There is a distinction to be made between evolutionary theory and evolutionary fact.

    Evolutionary “fact” is that imprecise copying and mutations, lead to variation in replicated copies, on which natural selection acts to select from the variations generated!
    This is a directly observable fact in any, and every, living organism, which has been studied.

    The “scientific theory”, is the precise nature of these processes in ecosystems, individual organisms, and their relatives.

    Creationists try to pretend that uncertainties about individual details in particular organisms, (There are as yet, undiscovered eco-systems and organisms on this planet), can imply that there is uncertainty about the ongoing process! There isn’t!
    The process of variation and selection is confirmed in every genetic study, and is likely to continue to be confirmed in future studies.

    That evolution happens as an on-going process is a fact!
    I think that is the point Richard is making.

  7. I’m still with my namesake here. Nothing has changed since this…

    https://richarddawkins.net/2015/11/is-it-a-theory-is-it-a-law-no-its-a-fact/

    Then I thought

    The current theory of evolution doesn’t yet cover the acquisition of organelles in early cells to create eukaryotes and probably never will. We still don’t know how much the lateral transfer of genetic material between say bacteria drives their change outside of evolutionary processes and how much of our own development is effected by these lateral transmissions.

    I take it as a badge of honour and worthy of note that we are super conservative with the epithet fact, until we can speak with specific authority.

    The problem is a parochial one in poorly educated states in the US.

    Lets stay squeaky clean.

    We don’t want a repeat of the New Scientist Horizontal Gene Transfer fiasco.

  8. Alan4discussion #7
    Aug 16, 2017 at 4:55 am

    There is a distinction to be made between evolutionary theory and evolutionary fact.

    Evolutionary “fact” is that imprecise copying and mutations, lead to variation in replicated copies, on which natural selection acts to select from the variations generated!
    This is a directly observable fact in any, and every, living organism, which has been studied.

    I contend their is no evolutionary fact as you state. We don’t put an object called evolution under a microscope nor do we put what we call a mutation under a microscope. We put cells, molecules, organisms, etc. under our microscopes and on our bench tops to observe. We SAY a mutation has occurred if we see change in the object under observation. In the case of replication we have a new object of observation as well. One cannot SAY their has been “imprecise copying” unless one makes precise observations before and after the supposed copying. It is those precise observations I contend are the facts. I think human analysis of what we observe is distinct from what we observe. By keeping the distinction, we can better evaluate our analysis when new facts present themselves (or reevaluate old facts). New facts can boost our confidence in our present explanations. The explanation does not become a fact though. The facts substantiate or falsify an explanation.

    As I see it, you just brought the words “natural selection” into your case for making a distinction between evolutionary theory and evolutionary fact but it is part of your evolutionary fact definition as you share. I find this circular and it is circular talk like this that I wish to avoid. I too wish to stay squeaky clean.

    That evolution happens as an on-going process is a fact!

    In the colloquial sense of the term. Here is where I think a distinction needs to be made (and Dr. Dawkins does not); between the colloquial and scientific sense of the the word fact.

  9. Phil #9
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:01 am

    That evolution happens as an on-going process is a fact!

    In the colloquial sense of the term. Here is where I think a distinction needs to be made (and Dr. Dawkins does not); between the colloquial and scientific sense of the the word fact.

    The process of evolution, does meet the criteria of “fact” in the scientific sense, as microbiology has moved on to this level of observation in recent years.
    I frequently link the scientific definitions of words such as “theory” and “fact”, where shifting colloquial meanings cause ambiguity and confusion.

    In the case of observable on-going evolution, this is established to the level of factual observations both directly in genetics and indirectly in the expression of genes.
    On a macro-scale, there were no rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian, and no humans in the Triassic!

    When I observe a tray of plant seedlings, I know that those with variegation, or without chlorophyll are mutations.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact#In_science
    In science, a fact is a repeatable careful observation or measurement (by experimentation or other means), also called empirical evidence. Facts are central to building scientific theories. Various forms of observation and measurement lead to fundamental questions about the scientific method, and the scope and validity of scientific reasoning.

    In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts

    So Yes! – the observable fact of evolution, is the basis for building the theory (ies) of evolution (Neo-Darwinian Synthesis).

    One cannot SAY their has been “imprecise copying” unless one makes precise observations before and after the supposed copying.
    It is those precise observations I contend are the facts.

    Such precise observations are facts, but we don’t necessarily need to look before and after when dealing with multiple offspring from eggs or seeds from plants. Comparisons of siblings can show mutant variations, although checking against parent DNA can be used for cross checking. In organisms which reproduce on a short timescale, multiple generations can be examined in detail.

    Geneticists and genetic engineers have now been carrying out those sorts of experiments for years.

    One can also look at fossils and preserved ancestral material and make comparisons with modern species.

    There is also of course, the field work looking at species, sub-species, local variants, and inter-species and inter-generic hybrids, which illustrate variations from the common ancestors of the diverging evolutionary branches which lead to modern organisms.

    As I see it, you just brought the words “natural selection” into your case for making a distinction between evolutionary theory and evolutionary fact but it is part of your evolutionary fact definition as you share. I find this circular and it is circular talk like this that I wish to avoid.

    This seems somewhat confused.
    Natural selection is an observable inherent part of the fact of the generality of the evolutionary process of observable mutant variation causing diversity, and the observable forces of selection, matching the functions of organisms to their environment by eliminating the unfit and uncompetitive.
    There are also the theoretical works in progress in the studies of ecological details of specific instances, in particular eco-systems, and in relation to particular organisms.

    The subject of genetics, and genetic engineering, study mutations in depth, while ecology looks in detail at natural (or managed) selection.

    Whole genomes are currently being mapped.

    As I said in my earlier comment, evolutionary change is observable wherever the time-scales are appropriate, and wherever the experiment facilitating technology is available to researchers.

  10. Phil #9
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:01 am

    We SAY a mutation has occurred if we see change in the object under observation.
    In the case of replication we have a new object of observation as well.
    One cannot SAY their has been “imprecise copying”
    unless one makes precise observations before and after the supposed copying.

    Can you give an example of ANY organism, (with the possible exception of clones) which has been studied and shown to have precisely identical DNA to its more distant generations of ancestors or relatives?

  11. Phil #3
    . . . To say evolution is a fact because of facts is circular (what RD is saying). One might more accurately state, we think evolution is true because a multitude of individual facts substantiate the explanation.

    Nowhere has Prof. Dawkins said that evolution is a “fact because of facts”. Wherever he has stated that evolution is a fact, he has used the word ‘fact’ in what you reasonably call its colloquial sense, and his use of it in that sense was consistent. Had he used the word in both the colloquial sense and the scientific sense in the same argument, discussion or context, then he might have been guilty of one or more logical improprieties, as you have suggested. But of all such improprieties the good professor is innocent. His point in speaking of evolution as fact is to counter the confusion caused in the minds of the kind of people who would be misled by the phrase ‘theory of evolution’ to think that evolution was just a clever idea like many of their own clever ideas which may or may not take one’s fancy. It is clear from your messages here that you understand this problem. I am puzzled that you should object to Prof. Dawkins trying to speak colloquially to make the significant point that the theory of evolution says something true about the world (as opposed to what anyone opines), which is what the word ‘fact’ most basically means in any of its ordinary-language senses.

  12. Alan4discussion #10
    Aug 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

    That evolution happens as an on-going process is repeatedly confirmed through observation (the facts).

    The process of evolution, does meet the criteria of “fact” in the scientific sense, as microbiology has moved on to this level of observation in recent years.

    I don’t find merely insisting on this persuasive but would consider anything you might add to substantiate. I revert back to my previous comments on this.

    On a macro-scale, there were no rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian, and no humans in the Triassic!

    This appears to be offered as fact. I say it is evaluation of facts. We have found no rabbit fossils in the Pre-Cambrian and no human fossils in the Triassis. The facts are the actual fossils we do find. To say “there were no rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian, and no humans in the Triassic!” is an inferential statement not a factual one. By insisting on this distinction, we account for all the fossils that remain un-found as well as how we are actually building our knowledge.

    Such precise observations are facts, but we don’t necessarily need to look before and after when dealing with multiple offspring from eggs or seeds from plants.

    I feel you might be staring to understand where I am coming from. You go on to use the word “comparisons”. To make a comparison I suggest you need things to compare. I call what we are comparing (and respective context and descriptions) the facts. The organisms that you say are examined in detail indicate objects of observation, the description and context of which is the fact. Looking at fossils; the fossil and respective description is the relevant fact. Making comparisons between modern species and fossils likewise, requires two objects of observation to compare. More facts. I see the evaluation and analysis of those observations detached from the observations themselves. It is the mental energy we bring to the facts to develop broader meaning.

    the fact of the generality of the evolutionary process

    This sounds confused to me. Previously you acknowledge “Such precise observations are facts.” in reference to my example. Now you are talking about the “fact of the generality.” I think in these two statements we are witnessing first hand the difficulty in using two senses of the word and illustrates why we need to be rather impeccable in the use of the word fact.

  13. Alan4discussion #11
    Aug 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Can you give an example of ANY organism, (with the possible exception of clones) which has been studied and shown to have precisely identical DNA to its more distant generations of ancestors or relatives?

    Not necessary to make my point. I contend that it is more precise to make a statement of fact about a particular observation. A particular “example” as you say. Consider all the past, present and future happenings that are not studied. To say that ALL the the unobserved instances adhere to what we observed is better characterized as inference; not fact. A highly probable inference maybe, but inference nonetheless.

  14. Phil #14
    Aug 17, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Can you give an example of ANY organism, (with the possible exception of clones) which has been studied and shown to have precisely identical DNA to its more distant generations of ancestors or relatives?

    Not necessary to make my point. I contend that it is more precise to make a statement of fact about a particular observation.

    So having made particular observations, discovering “facts”, in what way do these become LESS factual, when we add up tens of thousands of such independent observations and the “facts” of evolution they have revealed, to say that the observations are consistent and mutually confirming each other and nothing refuting the claims or indicating errors has been found?
    Evolution is a factual property of DNA replication interacting with selection processes, with tens of thousands of confirmations from reputable experts.

    Consider all the past, present and future happenings that are not studied. To say that ALL the the unobserved instances adhere to what we observed is better characterized as inference; not fact.

    There will always be unknowns.
    However in the case of evolution, as with many scientific “laws” and “facts”, the weight of evidence is so massive from millions of examples, and tens or hundreds of thousands of observations, is such as to make the probability as high as for ANY scientific claim!

    All known examples from millions of samples, is pretty well as certain as we are likely to get!
    There are no known examples of DNA remaining unchanged down the generations in the longer term timescales, and many examples of observed changes rapidly taking place. (Such as evolving anti-biotic resistance in bacteria.)

    Having said that scientists do use terms like “fact” and “law”, progressively more sparingly these days, but unless we make the semantic claim, that the status of “fact” is not achievable in science, then that evolution happens in all known living organisms over time, is a fact.

  15. Phil #13
    Aug 17, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Previously you acknowledge “Such precise observations are facts.” in reference to my example. Now you are talking about the “fact of the generality.”

    The “fact of the generality” is that DNA structures do not perfectly replicate.

    The theory is in the inferences from the details of the replications.
    Some organisms have individual mutant genes which their parents did not have or did not express.
    Others have broken and rejoined DNA sequences, with splicing or inversions of strands.
    Some have neutral mutations which have no immediate effect.
    Yet others have hox genes shutting down or switching on, other genes.
    Some have polyploidy with multiple chromosomes.
    Some have combinations of the remixing of evolutionary branches, or back-crossing of hybrids creating new species. –

    But the core fact is that the replication is imperfect, and the variation is selected from, creating changes over time.

    The fact is, that on Earth DNA only copies partially accurately.
    There are various theories about HOW the levels of accuracy are determined, but that over time, the copies are less than 100% accurate is an observable fact.

  16. Garrick #12
    Aug 17, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Nowhere has Prof. Dawkins said that evolution is a “fact because of facts”.

    My intent was not to suggest he said those actual words. Rather I wanted to point out that if we say our theories are facts, and it is our theories that rely on facts(scientific) (the NAS definition of theory), without saying we are using the colloquial sense, one essentially says “fact because of facts”. It is this muddling of the two senses of the I think we should avoid.

    I am puzzled that you should object to Prof. Dawkins trying to speak colloquially…

    For me it is about transparency. The creationists who wish to discredit evolution wish to talk in terms of theory(colloquial) as if theory(scientific) is not used. They wish to obscure. I would be OK if, when talking about these issues, scientists acknowledge the two senses of the word; fact(scientific) and fact(colloquial). If one does not make the distinction (As I recall hearing Dr. Dawkins stating once in the past “evolution is a scientific fact” though, after a good faith effort, I couldn’t find the clip for you) and one says theory(scientific) IS a fact(scientific) they are essentially saying “fact(scientific) because of facts(scientific)”. It is this use I find circular as the NAS defines theory as ” a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” To outline the NAS defn. using my previous notation; theory(scientific) because of facts(scientific), etc.. Not circular but foundational. Of course, one could just say evolution is true (as in accordance with facts(scientific)).

  17. Alan4discussion #15
    Aug 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

    So having made particular observations, discovering “facts”, in what way do these become LESS factual,…

    I didn’t say they become less factual. I am saying we have greater confidence in the inferences (the generalizations) we make as we gather more facts that substantiate the inference.

  18. Alan4discussion #16
    Aug 17, 2017 at 10:11 am

    But the core fact is that the replication is imperfect,…

    I contend their is no CORE fact. Just facts. Individual observations. To make any general statement about individual facts is to talk about facts. An abstraction from the facts. Talk about facts is not the facts. When one makes a general statement based on limited observations one is making an inference. One might infer that ALL cases of replication are imperfect because the individual facts (observations) suggest this is probably so. Said this way we honestly account for all unobserved occurrences. One might with the upmost intellectual integrity say; AS FAR AS WE KNOW the replication is imperfect.

    The fact is, that on Earth DNA only copies partially accurately.

    To paraphrase; Apparently, on Earth, DNA only copies partially accurately.

    I see adopting humble vocabulary like this wholeheartedly embracing the spirit of the National Academies of Sciences statement: “Scientific results are inherently provisional. Scientists can never prove conclusively that they have described some aspect of the natural or physical world with complete accuracy. In that sense, all scientific results must be treated as susceptible to error.” They go on; ” Errors arising from human fallibility also occur in science.” I think this last part is important because part of human fallibility is susceptibility to our biases. If we start calling our generalizations facts, I think we risk distancing ourselves from the foundations of our understandings; the observations (facts(scientific)) themselves. I think this can inhibit and possibly erode the way we do science. As I see it, breakthroughs in science come when someone thinks a bit differently than contemporary convention. I think breakthroughs like this can be inhibited if we give fealty to our generalities (possibly an erroneous bias) over fealty to facts(scientific); the specific observations.

    Believing abstractions despite facts(scientific) is the purview of religion and the like. Their foundation is a story in a book or some other unverifiable assertion. I wish to keep emphasis on our foundation, the observations, the facts(scientific). Those things I could (but I understand not always practical) take someone by the hand, point to, and show.

    Thank you all for your attention.

  19. Phil #18
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    So having made particular observations, discovering “facts”, in what way do these become LESS factual,………. when we add up tens of thousands of such independent observations and the “facts” of evolution they have revealed,

    I didn’t say they become less factual.
    I am saying we have greater confidence in the inferences
    (the generalizations) we make as we gather more facts that substantiate the inference.

    But the observations of changing DNA in all known evolutionary studies, are not” inferences”! They are objective observations. (Tens of thousands of them).

    That is why it is important to distinguish the evolutionary facts, from the theoretical inferences.
    There are no equivalences with creationist assertions or vernacular ambiguities!
    There is the fact of evolution happening in all observed species all the time, and there are theories and inferences drawn from these.
    (Creationists gratuitously and incompetently dispute both!)

  20. Here’s a very recent real conversation between a rational person (not me) and a Christian

    RP: Evolution (just like gravity) is an observable fact. The theory is our best and most current understanding of how that phenomenon occurred and continues to occur. It will change to reflect any new data that is discovered along the way.

    C: Precisely proving my point, thank you!
    Having a “best” theory doesn’t say very much about its credibility.

    Note the Christian does not even reflect back the careful speech of the rational person.

    I jumped in and responded,

    PR: Science never claims any status higher for its products than Theory. It is in the nature of science not only to acknowledge that error is always possible, or that more complete accounts may yet be produced under specific circumstances, but in labeling our never-failed-yet models of the world as theories it invites the challenge of disproof and amendment from up and coming scientists. Nothing transforms a scientist’s career like proving a theory wrong (as Einstein did of Newton). The only hundred percent certainty scientists (or anyone) can achieve is in the disproof of a falsifiable theory.

    This latter is the current cherry on the top of the Scientific Method.

    “Theory of evolution” is out there. It is an honest statement of the science. Even if you assert the factual nature of our observations of it, we must address its proper status within science, lest we be undercut by other scientists at a later time.

    Choosing always to have the conversation about scientific theory is entirely a strength against unwarranted dogmatists. Its why Dawkin’s starts The God Delusion with a statement about his necessary agnosticism as a scientist. He has forgotten the power of this.

  21. Alan4discussion #20
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    But the observations of changing DNA in all known evolutionary studies, are not” inferences”!

    I say we know the DNA changed because of careful observation. We make the careful observations and SAY change happened based on the description the respective facts. As I see it, without the respective facts, we have no basis to say change happened. I say discussions of change is not facts but talk about the respective facts.

  22. Alan4discussion #20
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I am not satisfied with how I addressed your inquiry regarding inference. I’ll have another go. We observe the facts of a specific occurrence. The respective observations that warrant the assertion that change happened we call the facts. We can say change happened after analyzing each occurrence based on the facts of that occurrence. We have facts that substantiate the assertion that change occurred in DNA in Tens of thousands of occurrences as you say. As I see it, the inference is in extending the specific to to the general. What I am saying is that we have facts substantiating the assertion of change for tens of thousand of occurrences we observe. It is inference to say that the same thing happens in all the UN-observed occurrences.

  23. Phil #22
    Aug 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    We make the careful observations and SAY change happened based on the description the respective facts.
    As I see it, without the respective facts,
    we have no basis to say change happened.
    I say discussions of change is not facts but talk about the respective facts.

    I don’t see where this is coming from!
    Every chemical and physical process progresses through time, showing a succession of respective positions!
    Are you saying that there are no such things as scientific facts based on repeatable objective observations tracking changes through time? – (such as monitoring planetary orbits which demonstrate the fact of the attraction of bodies due to gravity)?

    As I see it, without the respective facts, we have no basis to say change happened.

    But in numerous experiments and studies, we do have “the respective facts”, so of course we are justified in saying change happened!

    Geneticists have been monitoring genes and DNA for decades! Genetic engineering is about engineering such changes – and the processes work!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_genetics#The_DNA_era

    1997: Dolly the sheep was cloned by Ian Wilmut and colleagues
    from the Roslin Institute in Scotland.[73]
    1998: The first genome sequence for a multicellular eukaryote, Caenorhabditis elegans, is released
    2000: The full genome sequence of Drosophila melanogaster
    is completed.
    2001: First draft sequences of the human genome
    are released simultaneously by the Human Genome Project
    and Celera Genomics.
    2003 (14 April): Successful completion of Human Genome Project
    with 99% of the genome sequenced to a 99.99% accuracy

  24. Alan4discussion #24
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Are you saying that there are no such things as scientific facts based on repeatable objective observations tracking changes through time?

    I am making the distinction between fact and inference. I think this important, because it is our inferences that are most likely to be revised in contrast to our observations. We can make a statement of fact about a particular observation. To make any generalization about our facts is better characterized as inference. This accounts for our generalizations (something the human brings to the process) given the limited observations (we don’t observe every occurrence).

  25. Phil #23
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    What I am saying is that we have facts substantiating the assertion of change for tens of thousand of occurrences we observe.

    Well that establishes the fact of evolution in those thousands of examples – which are of course expanding in numbers of confirmed observations, as work is on-going!

    It is inference to say that the same thing happens in all the UN-observed occurrences.

    The unobserved, yet to be discovered instances, follow the same laws of physics for the same chemical DNA descended from the same ancestral sources, so it is reasonable to extrapolate from the observed base of soundly established examples.
    The existence of unknowns, in no way refutes facts about known objective observations of the known.
    (We know the Earth has seasons because of its axis: – WE don’t need to observe every planet in the universe to recognise this fact! )

    Obviously predictions of future discoveries are not “facts”. They are hypotheses or theories.

    BUT: – It would be wildly speculative and highly improbable, that the chemical reactions, and laws of physics, would suddenly change with respect to new discoveries. – Especially as the present observed evolving organisms, are pretty well a random sample across a wide spectrum of genera and species in a whole range of habitats.

  26. Phil #25
    Aug 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    We can make a statement of fact about a particular observation. To make any generalization about our facts is better characterized as inference.

    Perhaps “inference” is misleading and the wrong word to describe a massive accumulation of precise and consistent factual observations.

    Its definition is too wide, and leaves wriggle room for unjustified doubt and uncertainty.

    This accounts for our generalizations (something the human brings to the process) given the limited observations (we don’t observe every occurrence).

    It would be ridiculous to assert that no facts can possibly exist, because we don’t observe every event on Earth or in the Universe!

    Thousands or millions of confirmed scientific observations, meet the criteria for any normal definition of “fact”!

  27. Alan4discussion #26
    Aug 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Well that establishes the fact of evolution in those thousands of examples

    I would say that each fact corroborates our explanation we call evolution.

    …so it is reasonable to extrapolate from the observed base of soundly established examples.

    Yes scientist make reasonable inferences all the time. To the extent that out inferences seems to continue match our observations, our inferences seem to be true. But let’s remember our inferences for what they are for new observations might challenge our currently accepted inferences. For example; If I recall correctly, when the heliocentric theory of planetary motion wan in its infancy, we thought the planetary orbits were circular. Now we understand they are elliptical.

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