Is Evolutionary Biology a "Soft" Science?

This is exactly what I am talking about. How have you determined that all these birds share a common ancestor?


“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
— The Captain in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

“What we have here is a failure to read the scientific paper.”
— Me in This Thread and Many Others (2019)


The very sentence you quote explains that.

Let me help you point out the key part:
“[the strongly supported tree] that [provided strong evidence of common ancestry.]”


What does a claim of a strongly supported tree mean to you? How do you quantify this statement? What about disbursement of flightless birds all over the world as contrary evidence?

@colewd this was explained in detail elsewhere: John Harshman: The Phylogeny of Crocodiles.

Have you tried to use the software there or tested it for your self?

Have flightless birds been disbursed around the world? Or are flightless birds found in various places around the world? How do you know that flightless birds got disbursed to their locations rather than evolving in those locations?

For example, did the flightless kiwi of New Zealand get disbursed there or did it evolve there?

It sounds like @colewd is taxa-ing your patience.

[@Dan_Eastwood and @Michael_Callen, that’s one more old-man-type pun.]


Ready to take off or hail a cab?

1 Like

You’d have to ask a kiwi.

(And it will cost you a Kiwi or two.)


Maybe you can help me here. John claims that he is testing the hypothesis by creating a tree structure which his software. I agree it clearly shows DNA sequence similarity. It also shows sequence differences.

How would he determine from the results that common descent failed as a hypothesis?

The answer can be determined by heeding @swamidass:

Science isn’t just “working assumptions.” It is analytical and quantitative. See John Harshman: The Phylogeny of Crocodiles


That sounds like NewZ.

I don’t know of an objective criteria to determine the success or failure of the result.

I spent 10 years in the test equipment industry and this is mission critical to performing a test.

Yes, New Zealand is where flightless kiwis are found. Now if the flightless giant moa (yet another ratite) had never gone extinct and had eventually become domesticated, perhaps you could take a moa instead of hailing that cab.

In reality, prehistoric Uber drivers found giant moas to be very uncooperative as a means of transportation. (Also, there was no convenient place to hang the deoderizing tree from a mirror.)


Was it hard to get some moa?


Was it hard to get some moa? It was for a young Oliver Twist:

Moas are quite nutritious, so his request was quite reasonable—except for the fact that moas were extremely expensive in Dickensian England.

(“The Moa You Know” is also a famous series of educational PSAs on NBC television.)

1 Like

Some moa would harder than others, especially the fossilized ones.

(The moa you know would have to be fossilized. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)

In keeping within the theme of the OP: Yes, that’s why moa paleontology is a hard science.