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Darwin-L Message Log 2:149 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<2:149>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU  Fri Oct 29 10:43:06 1993

Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 10:43:06 -0500
From: "JOHN LANGDON"  <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: human evolution

In message <9310290133.AA20510@relay2.geis.com>  writes:
> difference between scientific and popular explanation."
>  ---------
>  Could someone expand on this; it seems to propose that the rigor in
> testability and measurement somewhat determines the type of explanation.
> However, how can the definition of theory itself allow for such a domain?
>  If would help to characterize this issue of difference in information or
> systematics terms?

Although I introduced the dichotomy, I was quoting someone else. Since the
review also mentioned popular "explanations" such as those of Van Daniken, I
would hazard to suggest that scientific explanations are to be held to more
rigorous standards in considering a broader range of multidisciplinary data.
Popular explanations appear to be acceptable if they are merely consistent with
the evidence under immediate considerations and without deeper thought.
Scientific explanations must be extended and tested further. Perhaps the
simplest contrast comes from supermarket tabloids where some readers appear
perfectly happy to accept an explanation one day (UFO's come from Mars; Elvis
is still alive) that directly contradicts headlines of the previous week (UFO's
are vehicles of angels; Elvis' ghost was seen in outer space by Pioneer).
Clearly this difference-- this lack of concern with the broadest possible range
of pertinent data-- removes "popular explanation" from real science.

JOHN H. LANGDON      email LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY    FAX  (317) 788-3569
UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS   PHONE (317) 788-3447
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46227

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