[Taxacom] double-peaked mountains

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sun Dec 1 01:22:45 CST 2013


> As part of a famous quote, Darwin used the phrase "...which, from its
> familiarity, does not always sufficiently strike us...". In his specific
case, he
> was referring to the taxonomic hierarchy, but I find the statement
generally
> useful in the study of biology--we often falsely assume that familiarity
equals
> understanding.

I wasn't talking about familiarity or metaphysics.  I was talking about
physics.

> Senses can lie. Preconceptions can mislead. I can see a mountain, and even
> attempt or succeed to climb it. I can't see the clone for the trees. I've
never
> seen a virus. I knew a blind man who never saw an elephant. I've never
seen
> a photon, nor an atom, but I have seen a retina. I take pleasure in
looking at
> optical illusions. I've seen a mirage.

Absolutely!  If you dig through the Taxacom archives, you'll find a diatribe
by me on how the farther you get from quarks (or superstrings, or whatever
the essence of quarks are), the fuzzier the boundaries of all things become.

But the gap between (what we perceive as) matter, and what we construe as
concepts (circumscriptions of sets of organisms with perceived similarity of
character, and from which infer phylogenetic affinity) -- is a pretty big
gap.  My response to Ken's post was concerning that gap.

> All of this is immaterial. One either applies the same level of scientific
scrutiny
> to "individual" as one applies to "mountain" or "photon", or else one
leaves
> the world of inference and enters the world of belief. There's nothing
wrong
> with belief (I, for one, do it all the time), but it's not science, and
can never
> successfully masquerade as science, no matter how many hands are waved.

Within the context you've set for this thread, I defy you to demonstrate a
single thing involving human thought (including all forms of science), that
is not ultimately rooted in belief.

Aloha,
Rich





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