Re: Morgan and creationists

2 Jul 1996 17:31:46 GMT

Phillip Bigelow ( wrote:
: HARRY R. ERWIN wrote:
: > The following null hypothesis is
: > probably testable:
: >
: > "The lineage leading to H. sapiens experienced a phase extending over
: > three chronospecies during which it was adapted to aquatic foraging
: > behavior."

Please read two words I wrote: "null hypothesis." A null hypothesis is a
probably false statement relevant to the question at hand. Figuring out
how to falsify it and then conducting the experiment is the essence of
science. An aquatic foraging phase of 2-5 MYrs (which is what I'm talking
about) is probably long enough that skeletal adaptations can be found and
preferred biomes assessed. Shorter than 1-2 MYr can't be ruled out because
you can then have behavioral adaptation without noticeable skeletal

: It may be testable if the following criteria are met:

: 1) That a *rigorous* zoological/ecological definition for "aquatic
: foraging" amongst animals (in general) is proposed and is accepted by the
: scientific community.

Food found below the surface of the water. Not in the intertidal zone.

: 2) That a set of unambiguous character traits, found *only* in undisputed
: aquatic-foragers is defined. And after the predicted aquatic traits are
: defined in the hypothesis, THEY ARE HELD TO (in other words, no
: back-tracking should be allowed).

Sensory systems adapted to working below the air/water interface.

: 3) That such predicted unambiguous "aquatic-foraging" character traits
: (relating to said behavior) are potentially fossilizable.

That's why you need a period long enough that behavior is supplemented by
physical character changes.

: If the above three criteria are met, then I would agree that the
: hypothesis is testable.
: If even *one* of the above criteria is not met, I'm afraid you can
: count me out as one who considers your thesis "testable".

: Since behavior (sensu stricto) doesn't fossilize (rather, only some of
: the morphological ramifications of some behaviors fossilize), I submit
: that the testability your thesis is on very thin ice.
: <pb>

See above.

Harry Erwin, Internet:, Web Page:
49 year old PhD student in computational neuroscience ("how bats do it" 8)
and lecturer for CS 211 (data structures and advanced C++)