Monday, August 15, 2011

A Robust Paradigm

Steve points to the New Scientist:

Stone Age toe could redraw human family tree

Um . . .

I don’t want to make any dogmatic statements about the merit of this research, given the sorry state of most scientific reporting in general.  But I do want to point out that, to a layman, the news that a single toe is cause to “redraw the human family tree” suggests that the paradigm underlying the “scientific consensus” on human evolution is pretty dang fragile.  What happens when, next week, they find another toe?

Imagine if an undergraduate, performing a lab in CHEM 100, reports unexpected results.  Is the professor’s reaction to exclaim, “Omigod, you’ve just revolutionized the field!  We’ll have to redraw the periodic table stat!”  No.  Rather, he assumes the student did the experiment wrong.  I’m not sure if this assumption is really the best way of nurturing a scientific mind among undergraduates, but it is assuredly correct.  Such is the stability of the principles of chemistry.

1 comment:

Professor Hale said...

They would be better off encrusting the toe with gold and placing it in an ornate box. They the faithfull could worship in front of it and gain some kind of benefit.

You can learn a lot from teh middle ages. THEY knew how to handle toe bones of questionable origens.