Is Evolutionary Biology a "Soft" Science?

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?

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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.)

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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.


Thanks for getting us back on topic. :slightly_smiling_face:

The thread to which we pointed gives some examples of objective criteria. Did you learn what they are?

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I think so. Your idea of measuring homoplasy is interesting and John came up with a measurement criteria between 0 and 1. Thanks for pointing me here.

Where does common descent fail given this testing criteria?

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OK guys, I’m calling a brief Time-Out. This discussion has a few problems that no one is addressing:

  1. Sal’s initial statement is incredibly vague. I know this was split off from a previous thread, but without some sort of summary or clarification this thread makes zero sense to me. I have no idea what anyone is arguing about. I can’t tell that anyone here knows what the argument is about.

  2. Establishing truth and authority is hard. Without clear definitions of what is actually being discussed this just isn’t going anywhere. Try starting with points of agreement. If you haven’t got any points of agreement then there isn’t any basis for discussion.

  3. Reliability is a subjective quality. Measures of reliability that are considered to be very good in one application may be totally inadequate in other applications. You cannot make claim that one field of science is more or less reliable than any other without further defining your criteria.

OK, Time-In — We now return you to your regularly scheduled game of Brocknian Ultra-Cricket.


You aren’t looking for the experiments.

Since Bill has not responded, could someone tell me who these people are?