Stuart G. Poss Stuart.Poss at USM.EDU
Sun Aug 20 13:35:26 CDT 2000

John Grehan wrote:

> Stuart Poss wrote:
> >Regretably, evolutionists do from time to time engage in sophism.  However,
> >scientists are precluded from doing so, or at least they step outside the
> >bounds
> >of science in doing so.
> That's simply a matter of ad hoc definition. There is nothing absolute to
> necessarily define science as that without sophistry.

Sophistry is about crafting convincing argumentation based on false premises.  I
am quite comfortable with such an "ad hoc" definition for science and I suspect
other scientists would be as well.  I certainly do not understand the concept of
science based on sophistry.  This is clearly a novel philosophical as well as
scientific argument, or at least it is to me.

> >Its important not to confuse convincing argumentation
> >with falsifiability as used in the context of science, since it is
> >precisely this
> >kind of confusion to which creationists appeal.
> It has been argued by philosophers of science that falisifiability is not
> the last word on what science is or does.

Yes, philosophers argue about a great many things including many concepts that
transcend science.   Science is bounded by the proposition that observation of the
natural world can make assertions of fact concerning that world untenable.  While
it may be true that all scienists are philosophers, it is not true that all
philosophy is science.  In any event, I think turning this into a philosophical
discussion does a disservice to other subscribers of TAXACOM and I have no wish to
debate philosophy here.  It would be an inappropriate use of TAXACOM.  If you
wish, and the to the extent I have time, I suggest that we carry on a
philosophical discussion independent of TAXACOM (instead I would encourage you to
turn your attention to www.globalzoology.org).  My only point in commenting on
your remarks was that I could not let the notion pass that somehow, creationists
have accomplished anything in the arena of science education, except to create

So it seems that according to the authority of Stuart Poss I am simply

> "wrong" in not adhering to the view of "most scientists" of a claimed "fact".

Yes, that is factually correct.

> > > I'm a bit lost on what "intelligence" has to do with the issue. Please
> > clarify.
> > >
> >
> >Think about it.
> This seems to be a good example of sophistry. I ask a straightforward
> question for clarification of a statement that is otherwise obscure in
> meaning, and in response I am provided with an equally obscure directive.
> Here is see no difference between an evolutionist and a creationist. No
> wonder there is so much confusion about evolution in the US.

It didn't strike me as obscure and I thought the logic would occur to you upon
relfection.  It seems evident to me that because intelligence concerns the
capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, it was (nearly) self-evident that
intelligence is an essential component of critically evaluating the interpretation
of observations bearing upon the reality of organic evolution by means of natural
selection.  Frankly, I fail to understand the utility of attempts to argue
otherwise, but perhaps this is partly why I abandoned thoughts of a college major
in philosophy to pursue science.

> John Grehan

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