Evolution as a predictive theory

wavefreak
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Evolution as a predictive theory

One of the really complelling things about relativity and quantum mechanics is their predictive power. Relativity predicted such things as gravitational lenses and quantum mechanics predicted  the existence of specific particles, all which were eventually observationally verified.  Does evolutionary theory have the same predictive power? As an explanatory theory it has great breadth and depth, but I don't know of such a predictive aspect. Any experts out there that can chime in?


Yellow_Number_Five
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Let's see, we've predicted

Let's see, we've predicted things like drug and poison resistant bacteria, insects and other pests, and plants. Predicted things like endogenous retrogenes in related species and their relative mutational rates. Predicted changes in physiology like the growing lactose tolerance of certain populations of humans. Predicted fossil order in geological strata and where certain fossils should be found - for example, Darwin himself predicted that humans arose in Africa based upon human and ape homologies, long before any homind fossils had been discovered. Lots of things like that.

Let's also keep in mind that physical science like quantum mechanics are fundamentally different from evolution and biology. It should be, and it is, much easier to make predictions and models based upon purely physical and unchanging parameters. We don't have that luxory in biology where environments and organisms are in a constant state of flux. In many senses evolution can be more of a historical science like archaeology or astronomy and cosmology.

Future predictions are only one small measure of a science's validity and usefulness.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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wavefreak
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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

Future predictions are only one small measure of a science's validity and usefulness.

 

I said nothing about the usefulleness of the theory. If you think I am going to deny the theory of evolution you are incorrect. I have several times stated that I have no problems with it.


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Yellow_Number_5

Yellow_Number_5 wrote:

Future predictions are only one small measure of a science's validity and usefulness.

Exactly. In computational biology, evolution is used all the time to construct genetic algorithms and solve problems. We can use natural selection principles to predict certain things like bacterial strain resistance and epedimiology, but the real usefulness of evolution comes in my work, protein folding. See this link for details:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/7918

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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In additon to the examples

In additon to the examples already listed, I was reading a couple of weeks ago about paleontologists using geology and cladistic trees to predict where to dig for more fossils of particular kinds.   Using these conclusions about how animals evolved and migrated, they were able to find more land animal-whale transitonal forms and feathered dinosaurs right where they expected to find them.

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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:
Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

Future predictions are only one small measure of a science's validity and usefulness.

 

I said nothing about the usefulleness of the theory. If you think I am going to deny the theory of evolution you are incorrect. I have several times stated that I have no problems with it.

And he answered it. What you quoted is a way of saying "But that's not all" 

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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wavefreak wrote: One of

wavefreak wrote:

One of the really complelling things about relativity and quantum mechanics is their predictive power.

Here is a great example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs1zeWWIm5M&mode=related&search=

Ken Miller talks about how evolution predicted that two of our chromosomes must have fused together since we split from chimps. This was potentially a big problem for the theory of common decent. I'll leave the end of the story for Ken to explain in the video.


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A more commonly seen

A more commonly seen example is "postdiction" as a kind of prediction. Evolution "predicts" the way fossils should stack up in the geological column. And what we should expect, assuming evolution, is exactly what is found.

The point here is that prediction in science doesn't necessarily mean prognostication of actual future events.