The Elusive Pre-Cambrian Rabbit

Science

#1

And if you were able to present evidence to said philosopher that some supporter of evolutionary theory actually stated that finding a rabbit in the Cambrian would falsify UCD she would accuse you of quote-mining.


Paul Nelson: Testing for Common Descent (Signal + Noise?)
(Timothy Horton) #2

I’ll also point out the “Precambrian rabbit” idea was an off the cuff remark made by biologist J.B.S. Haldane in the 70’s when asked what would destroy his confidence in evolutionary theory. It was never offered or meant as a way to formally falsify common descent.


(Paul A Nelson) #3

– John Maynard Smith, The Problems of Evolution (Oxford, 1986, p. 5):

"Darwinism as a testable scientific theory can take various forms. I will give it first in the form in which Darwin himself proposed it, and then in a ‘neo-Darwinist’ form in which most biologists hold it today.” [The hypothesis of common ancestry is] “clearly falsifiable . . . as a single fossil rabbit in Cambrian rocks would be sufficient.”

– Douglas Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (Random House, 1983, p. 222):

“Many conceivable observations, such as mammalian fossils in Precambrian rocks, could refute the hypothesis of evolution.”

– Antoni Hoffman, Arguments on Evolution: A Paleontologist’s Perspective (Oxford, 1989, p 7):

“…if a fossil rabbit were discovered in the Cambrian, more than 500-million-year-old strata, this would indeed be a very serious challenge to the validity of the concept of evolution.”


(Timothy Horton) #4

So? The Haldane meme was picked up and repeated many times in the following years. That still doesn’t mean it was offered as a scientific formal falsification of UCD.

There rhetorical games are rather time wasting. Can you get to the point of the thread please?


(Blogging Graduate Student) #5

Regarding this precambrian rabbit business. @Timothy_Horton is right to point out that alternative explanations for such an observation would be investigated, such as a rabbit fossil falling into a crack in precambrian rock and superficially looking as though the fossil itself was precambrian.

However, we should assume for the sake of the thought experiment that the fossil is unambiguously shown to be precambrian in age, genuine proof of rabbits living, say, 600 Mya. This is presumably an implicit condition of all the people citing this hypothetical as proof against evolution anyway.

In this case, obviously the result would be that our understanding of evolution would be turned on its head. It blows apart all our current timelines, and throws a wrench in our understanding that mammals ultimately evolved from animals found much later than the precambrian. I think it would be a little too strong to say that UCD would instantly be falsified by this finding - I think it’s very difficult to overturn any such massive body of evidence with any single data point - but it would get me 99% of the way there, in this case.

On the other hand, this finding doesn’t contradict UCD per se, in the sense that a radically different phylogenetic tree might be possible, but it would pretty much falsify all of the fundamental parts of our current understanding of UCD, which would be good enough for me. Put more simply, finding a precambrian rabbit wouldn’t definitely prove that all life is absolutely not related, but it would make most of our evidence for UCD practically impossible to interpret coherently, leaving the door open for alternative models (e.g. separate ancestry).


#6

Just for rabbits. Which is something i already believe anyways. As for rabbits appearing fully formed in the pre-cambrian, it’s not impossible, just very, very improbable.


(Timothy Horton) #7

The topic should really be split into two questions

  1. What series of observations if made in the last 100 years would have falsified the idea of UCD?
  2. Why new observation made now would falsify the idea of UCD given the huge amount of positive evidence we already have for it?

Question one is easy to come up with falsification scenarios.
Question two is much much harder to think of a single observation which would blow away pretty much everything we’ve learned about evolutionary biology and genetics in the last century.


(Blogging Graduate Student) #8

Yes, that’s an important point. If considering SA in this case, the simplest explanation might be that rabbits have separate ancestry and that the rest of our understanding remains unchanged. Again though, I think the consequences of opening this door to SA would quickly spread beyond rabbits.

Are you saying that already believe that rabbits don’t share common ancestry with any other organisms?


#9

It was a joke.


(Blogging Graduate Student) #10

Ok, I wasn’t sure so I thought it better to ask. Sometimes humour/sarcasm doesn’t convey well in text.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

@Mung, next time put jokes on a side thread.


(Robert Byers) #12

The bunny thing is wrong because its based on a pre cambrian geology model.
So evolutionists are not testing biological evolution theory but YET AGAIN geology theory.
The cambrian is wrongly called because its just a depositional event. Its impossible to find a rabbit in it BECAUSE IT was created from sediment observations that in no way show a time in earth history where a option for biology to be stuck in it.
The big thing here is that a biology hypothesis is entirely based on a geology hypothesis.
This unique in science and I say it proves evideence for evolution is not scientific.
Only biology evidence is welcome for biology hypothesis/theories.


(Blogging Graduate Student) #13

We don’t find rabbits, but we certainly find “biology” in the precambrian.


(Robert Byers) #14

The biology found is along with the geology predetermined to be of a age in earth history.
when in fact its just certain areas scraped up during the biblical flood.
its all geology. thats a fundamental error in evolutionary biology research.
its not based on biology or enough. iTs wrongly led by the nose by geology.
its not scientific and i predict will be brought up in the future when evolutionism is dismissed by everyone.

This rabbit thing makes a greater damning point about evolution then about anything else.


(Blogging Graduate Student) #15

Does anyone else often find Robert to be completely incoherent, or is it just me?


#16

It’s not just you, Robert appears to be incoherent to many people. I think it just takes a bit of effort to figure out what he is saying. In the cases where I expend the effort to try to understand him I find that he is not incoherent. Just up to you I guess whether or not you want to put in the effort.

ETA: I should offer translation services for a fee. :slight_smile:


(Blogging Graduate Student) #17

Not worth it, tonight at least.


#18

Start from the end:

In the future, evolutionism will be dismissed by everyone. It will be dismissed because it is wrong. It is wrong because it is led by the nose by geology.and its not scientific. It’s led by the nose by geology because it get’s it’s dates from geology. etc …

I only ask for half my normal fee.


(Robert Byers) #19

I always expect folks in these things to think quick without explaining every detail. I do!
1, in the future when evolutionism is dismissed by society.
2, when asking why it lasted so long the answer will be,
3, that its evidence was never from biology, so never had to have a lot, but instead it was from geology.
4. the geology led by the nose BIOLOGICAL conclusions.
5, this was unscientific. it was great error of investigation ability.

i’m saying geology is the foundation of evolutionism in , most, of its evidence.
Its not BIOLOGY. if it was biology it would not have enough evidence to justify it as a theory. Only a untested hypothesis.
The bunny thing makes this point.
i think its hopping good point!


(Blogging Graduate Student) #20

I should have been clearer - he’s often not just incoherent in the sense that I cant understand what he’s try to say, but also his reasoning is incoherent. The comment in question and your translation is just a string of non-sequiturs.