10 Replies to “History Repeating Itself

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    I kill me sometimes! πŸ˜†

  2. 2
    Collin says:

    People forget that the epicycles had high predictive validity and mathematical precision. Despite having some scientific credibility, it just didn’t represent reality.

  3. 3
    Collin says:

    From Wikipedia.
    “By this time [when planetary motion was observed with precision] each planet had been provided with from 40 to 60 epicycles to represent after a fashion its complex movement among the stars. Amazed at the difficulty of the project, Alfonso is credited with the remark that had he been present at the Creation he might have given excellent advice.”[3]
    Someone should do a project where they list all of the stopgap measures TOE has accumulated over the years.

  4. 4
    DaveScot says:

    Actually it was lack of predictive ability that killed Ptolemaic astronomy. New observations constantly didn’t match the predictions and a new epicycle was created to account for it. The fossil record and phenotype comparisons haven’t really revealed anything new to account for since Darwin’s day. Molecular biology and genomics are upsetting all the carefully constructed NDE applecarts that have been created and widely accepted as fact. As I was reading about all the efforts to make sense of molecular clocks it struck me that what’s happening there is exactly like Ptolemaic astronomy where every new observation requires a new kludge on the theory to account for it. Actually it isn’t as advanced as Ptolemaic astronomy yet as they haven’t found enough epicycles, equants, and deferents to force it into congruency with reality. Comically, they probably never will as the anomalies being dug out of the rapidly expanding gene bank are coming along far faster than ad hoc explanations consistent with NDE can be dreamt up. It’s just going to keep getting worse as the cost of sequencing genomes falls like a depleted uranium balloon and the price of number crunching is plummeting along with it.

  5. 5
    j says:

    Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, p. 68:

    Look first at a particularly famous case of paradigm change, the emergence of Copernican astronomy. When its predecessor, the Ptolemaic system, was first developed…it was admirably successful in predicting the changing positions of both stars and planets. No other ancient system had performed so well; for the stars, Ptolmaic astronomy is still widely used today as an engineering approximation; for the planets, Ptolmy’s predictions were as good as Copernicus’. But to be admirably successful is never, for a scientific theory, to be completely successful. With respect both to planetary position and to precession of equinoxes, predictions made with Ptolemy’s system never quite conformed with the best available observations. Further reduction of those minor discrepancies constituted many of the principle problems for many of Ptolemy’s successors… For some time astronomers had every reason to suppose that these attempts would be as successful as those that had led to Ptolemy’s system. Given a particular discrepancy, astronomers were invariably able to eliminate it by making some particular adjustment in Ptolemy’s system of compound circles. But as time went on, a man looking at the net result of the normal research effort of many astronomers could observe that astronomy’s complexity was increasing far more rapidly than its accuracy and that a discrepancy corrected in one place was likely to show up in another.

  6. 6
    TerryL says:

    As philospher Michel Foucault once noted, most history books are written not as a record of past events but as a means of justifying the present. Here’s how “they” were in their ignorant past; here’s how “we” know better, as we stand in our glorious enlightenment.

    Which suggests that future generations will look upon Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory with as much mocking disdain as a modern astronomer holds for Ptolemaic astronomy. I’d love to read a 25th-century history book.

  7. 7
    tribune7 says:

    Amazed at the difficulty of the project, Alfonso is credited with the remark that had he been present at the Creation he might have given excellent advice.ΓƒΒ’Γ’β€šΒ¬Γ‚Β

    History does repeat itself.

  8. 8
    Collin says:

    I think that Alfonso considered the universe poorly designed, but he didn’t know how simple and elegant it really was. Maybe the “poorly designed” aspects of biology will be better understood someday.

  9. 9
    Joey Campana says:


    Let’s give credit where credit is due. Surely many in history have made a comparison between Darwinian evolution and epicycles, but GlennJ (Red Reader) was the one to formally define this comparison here at UD back in March 2006.

    * UD – 30 March 2006


  10. 10
    bFast says:

    Ya know, Dave, the longer I ponder the implications of the molecular clock as discussed in post “Molecular Clocks: Michael Denton continues to be vindicated” about three posts back, the more I agree with you that the molecular clock is suffering the same entanglement as the epicycle model of the solar system did.

    We cannot, however, forget the necessity of a precise molecular clock to the cytochrome C gene. If the molecular clock is not precise for such a gene, then the only other explanations for it that I can find are: it is a phylogenic map that guides PEH, or it is a copyright notice.

    Let us not let the scientific establishment forget.

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