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Researchers: Double down on theory like “natural selection” to solve replication crisis

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At Nature Human Behaviour, we are told that the replication crisis is due to lack of rigid adherence to such a theory:

Science, he explains, is about accumulating sets of observations that occur reliably—the Sun appears at different places in the sky depending on the season and time of day; finches have different shaped beaks depending on what they eat. “That’s the raw ingredients,” he says. “To make sense of it requires a framework to say, this is how all these different facts fit together, and this is why.” We explain these observations by developing theoretical models—of how the Earth rotates around the Sun on a tilted axis, of natural selection. Cathleen O’Grady, “The replication crisis may also be a theory crisis” at ArsTechnica

That’s not self-evident to everyone:

Tal Yarkoni, a vocal critic of poor behavioral science, agrees with the prescription of more formal modelling, but otherwise he thinks that more of a focus on theory could be a terrible idea. “Many of our problems actually stem from far too much concern with elegant theoretical frameworks,” Yarkoni argues. Muthukrishna and Henrich draw on the analogy of natural selection in biology, which Yarkoni considers apt. While it’s true that all of biology hangs on the principles of natural selection, for many areas of active biological research, he argues, “the distance between the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ and the concrete mechanisms under investigation is so vast that it’s usually pointless to consider the former at all.”

Instead, he suggests, the best way forward is to “accept that the world is really complicated. That in most domains even our best theories can only hope to explain a small fraction of the variation in the behaviors we’re interested in, and that we should probably place much more emphasis than we do on large-scale description and prediction (and less on causal explanation).” Cathleen O’Grady, “The replication crisis may also be a theory crisis” at ArsTechnica

Funny that Darwinian natural selection would be such a strong theory that “all of biology hangs on” it but that in many areas, it is “usually pointless” to consider it at all.

Paper. (paywall)

We can be fairly certain that any kind of double-down hammerdown along the suggested lines won’t help.

See also: Natural Selection At Work: Smarter Chickadees Survive The Winter More Often

Darwinian Grandmother Hypothesis Takes Another Hit

and

Natural selection: Could it be the single greatest idea ever invented?

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3 Replies to “Researchers: Double down on theory like “natural selection” to solve replication crisis

  1. 1
    PeterA says:

    the best way forward is to “accept that the world is really complicated.

    in most domains even our best theories can only hope to explain a small fraction of the variation in the behaviors we’re interested in

    we should probably place much more emphasis than we do on large-scale description and prediction (and less on causal explanation)

    Hmm… did I hear this before?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    Tal Yarkoni, a vocal critic of poor behavioral science, agrees with the prescription of more formal modelling, but otherwise he thinks that more of a focus on theory could be a terrible idea. “Many of our problems actually stem from far too much concern with elegant theoretical frameworks,” Yarkoni argues. Muthukrishna and Henrich draw on the analogy of natural selection in biology, which Yarkoni considers apt. While it’s true that all of biology hangs on the principles of natural selection, for many areas of active biological research, he argues, “the distance between the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ and the concrete mechanisms under investigation is so vast that it’s usually pointless to consider the former at all.”

    One problem with having natural selection as the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ for human behavior, as Dr. Skell points out in the following article, is that Natural Selection is used as a ‘narrative gloss’, instead of as a driver of research that fosters new discoveries. And as a ‘narrative gloss’, Natural Selection can be used to explain completely contradictory actions within human behavior with equal ease and because of that ‘endless flexibility’ in explanation, Natural Selection does not, and can not, ever provide a fruitful heuristic in any research to seeks to explain human behavior:

    Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – Philip Skell – 2005
    Excerpt: The efforts mentioned there are not experimental biology; they are attempts to explain already authenticated phenomena in Darwinian terms, things like human nature. Further, Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.
    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit. None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs.”
    Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. – Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – 2005
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2816

    Moreover, if researchers focus in on exactly what the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection actually predicts for human behavior, instead of just bringing in natural selection in as a narrative gloss, (i.e. a ‘just-so story) after the fact, so as to explain any given human behavior, then we find that the specific predictions of the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection actually does not, and can not, predict and/or explain the vast majority of human behaviors, (nor, when we get down to the nuts and bolts of what natural selection actually predicts, can the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection actually predict and/or explain the vast majority of what is happening in molecular biology).

    Morally noble altruistic human behavior of any type is simply completely antithetical to Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory based on natural selection.

    If evolution by natural selection were actually the truth about how all life came to be on Earth then the only life that should be around should be extremely small organisms with the highest replication rate, and with the most ‘mutational firepower’, since only they, (since they greatly outclass multi-cellular organism in terms of ‘reproductive success’ and ‘mutational firepower’), would be fittest to survive in the dog eat dog world where blind pitiless evolution ruled and only the fittest are allowed to survive. The logic of this is nicely summed up here in this following Richard Dawkins’ video:

    Richard Dawkins interview with a ‘Darwinian’ physician goes off track – video
    Excerpt: “I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly — a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves — that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we’re stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62031.html

    In other words, since successful reproduction is all that really matters on a neo-Darwinian view of things, how can anything but successful, and highly efficient reproduction, be realistically ‘selected’ for? Darwin himself stated, “every single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers;”

    “every single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers;”
    – Charles Darwin – Origin of Species – pg. 66

    The logic of natural selection is nicely and simply illustrated on the following graph:

    The Logic of Natural Selection – graph
    http://recticulatedgiraffe.wee.....35.jpg?308

    Thus, if the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection were actually true, then, according to the predictions inherent within that framework, we should not even exist, much less should we have any morally noble altruistic human behavior to speak of.

    In fact, when considering that virtually all of molecular biology is dependent on the mutual cooperation of countless billions and billions of molecules working in tandem for the singular purpose of keeping a organism alive, and considering that genomes themselves are now found to be in a state of ‘holistic cooperation’, instead of being in a state of ‘selfish genes’ (as Dawkins himself ‘predicted’), then, if Darwinian evolution were a normal science instead of being, basically, a pseudoscientific religion for atheists, then the entire ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection should be universally acknowledged as being falsified and thrown onto the garbage heap of failed scientific theories.
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/getting-at-what-we-mean-by-truth/#comment-670691

    Many people, including myself, consider Hitler to be a murderous madman, but at least he applied the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection to human behavior consistently.

    “The law of selection exists in the world, and the stronger and healthier has received from nature the right to live. Woe to anyone who is weak, who does not stand his ground! He may not expect help from anyone.”
    – Adolf Hitler

    In fact, all the murderous totalitarian Communist regimes over the last century, and even up to today, were and are heavily influenced by the morality enshrined in the ‘survival of the fittest’ maxim of Natural Selection:

    Hitler, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao – quotes – Foundational Darwinian influence in their ideology (Nov. 2018)
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/historian-human-evolution-theorists-were-attempting-to-be-moral-teachers/#comment-668170

    Thus, if we actually do try to apply what the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of natural selection actually predicts for human behavior as a guide to human behavior itself, we consistently find that the corrosive effects of ‘Darwinian morality’ on overall human morality in general are disastrous.

    In fact, we find that only when Christian morality was and is applied to overall human morality of a culture in general that man has been able to rise above the baser self-destructive instincts of selfishness (i.e has been able to somewhat rise above his sinful nature). As ancient historian Tom Holland notes, the belief that the ‘enlightenment’ saved western civilization from the ‘dark ages’ of Christianity is a false revisionist history. The truth is that Christianity saved western civilization from the ‘dark ages’ of the Greeks and the Romans.

    Tom Holland: Why I was wrong about Christianity – 2016
    It took me a long time to realise my morals are not Greek or Roman, but thoroughly, and proudly, Christian.
    Excerpt: The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.
    “Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and ­oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.
    “We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.
    Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.
    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/religion/2016/09/tom-holland-why-i-was-wrong-about-christianity?fbclid=IwAR0QqBmBxdpkHh_iiXlJX-UbwShtej-wnB721Z1eULApM6fuxSUzSjnBJA8

    For instance, Christianity alone among ancient cultures forbade infanticide,

    Early Christian Opposition to Infanticide
    Excerpt: “Infanticide was common in all well studied ancient cultures, including those of ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, and Japan.”(It even led to the collapse of some ancient cultures),,, From its earliest creeds, Christians “absolutely prohibited” infanticide as “murder.” Stark, op. cit., page 124. To Christians, the infant had value. Whereas pagans placed no value on infant life, Christians treated them as human beings. They viewed infanticide as the murder of a human being, not a convenient tool to rid society of excess females and perceived weaklings. The baby, whether male, female, perfect, or imperfect, was created in the image of God and therefore had value.
    http://christiancadre.org/memb.....icide.html

    In short, selfish Darwinian morality is at war with the noble and very good Christian morality that seeks to protect the dignity and rights of the weakest among us,

    “for, as we have just seen, the ways of national evolution, both in the past and in the present, are cruel, brutal, ruthless, and without mercy.,,, Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed.”
    Sir Arthur Keith, (1866 — 1955) Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons – Evolution and Ethics (1947) p.15

    There simply is no place for ‘‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ in Darwinian evolution, much less is there caring for ‘the least of these’ to be found in the ‘overarching theoretical framework’ of Darwinian evolution,

    Matthew 22:36-40
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 25:39-40
    When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

    Of supplemental note: Darwinian attempts to explain human behavior have now been further falsified by the validation of free will within quantum mechanics:

    “,,, In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,,”
    – Steven Weinberg –
    (December 2018) Neuroscientific and quantum validation of free will
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/three-knockdown-proofs-of-the-immateriality-of-mind-and-why-computers-compute-not-think/#comment-670445

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    I am often perplexed to observe how often scientists fall into the reductionist trap, thinking their pet theory is all that’s needed to understand so much. I recall Daniel Dennett’s book, “Consciousness Explained” as my prime example. New theories are great, but they should come with a heavy dose of humility, recognizing that what we think we know may be wrong, or at best, only a small part of the answer.

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