Apparent chromosome 2 fusion is treated as a slam dunk for common ancestry of apes and humans. But if it turns out that the situation is unclear, as Ann Gauger and colleagues maintain, does that fact count against common ancestry?
That is, is common ancestry something that we argue for or against on the basis of evidence?
Or is it a creed or cult for which evidence is sought – and counter evidence discounted or buried?
This New York Times story, that there is a controversy between the fossil record and the genetic record of human prehistory, prompts the question.
A science journalist criticized the paper for reporting the matter honestly, which tells you how corrupt science news gathering generally is these days.
In a less corrupt environment, the paper would be praised for telling it like it is: Not only is there a controversy, but it’s a nasty one because the paleontologists don’t appreciate the upstart geneticists telling a different tale, instead of just “agreeing” their account with the fossil record, to save establishment butts. In other words, the geneticists decided to help science, not “science.”
Floor’s open: If touted evidence for common descent falls apart, does that count against common descent? Or is common descent the sort of thing for which only the “for” side can count as evidence.
Background: Earlier, we wrote,
Churning through the quote mine, we note that Richard Dawkins wrote, “Instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories, I shall adopt a more armchair approach. My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories – p. 287, Blind Watchmaker” Granville Sewell, In the Beginning, (p. 104) that it is hardly an unusual stance: “ Olan Hyndman, in The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things , [Hyndman 1952], calls Darwinism “the most irrational and illogical explanation of natural phenomena extant.” Yet he says “I have one strong faith, that scientific phenomena are invariable… any exception is as unthinkable as to maintain that thunderbolts are tossed at us by a man-like god named Zeus,” and he goes on to develop an alternative – and even more illogical – theory (Lamarckian, basically) of the causes of evolution. Jean Rostand [Rostand 1956], quoted in previous chapters, says “However obscure the causes of evolution appear to me to be, I do not doubt for a moment that they are entirely natural.” Hans Gaffron [Gaffron 1960], in a paper presented at the 1959 University of Chicago Centennial Congress Evolution After Darwin, presents a theory on the origin of life, but admits, “no shred of evidence, no single fact whatever, forces us to believe in it. What exists is only the scientists’ wish not to admit a discontinuity in nature and not to assume a creative act forever beyond comprehension.”
In lay terms, this translates into, it’s wrong to “believe” in Darwinian evolution, because then we might disbelieve it in the face of countervailing evidence. We must “accept” it, presumably as one accepts the weather or the multiverses.