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Thread: What are the most established facts concerning evolution?

  1. #1 What are the most established facts concerning evolution? 
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    Of which aspects concerning the theory of evolution do scientists share nearly or exactly 100% agreement? In other words, ignoring all those aspects that are debated, what is left?


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    It happens


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    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    I'd say common descent (although for certain species it's not well established what they evolved from), also that natural selection CAN create complexity but what complexity was derived from natural selection (and not something else) is a different story. Since natural selection is the most consistent with common descent, the patterns in the fossil record (see the only diagram in the origin of species and compare it to the fossil record) and adaptations, I'd say that it's well established (but less so than common descent) that natural selection is responsible for most of the diversity we see.

    Here's a good way of looking at it. Kenneth Miller says:

    If we find a criminals's fingerprints at the scene of the crime, we know that he was there. If he claims to have been on the other side of town at 3:00 P.M. but we have a security video of him entering the store at exactly the same time, we can rule out his alibi. If we see him robbing a bank one day in New York and spending marked money from the same bank the next week in Florida, we don't have to prove exactly what happened on the six intervening days to know he was the theif.
    Basically what this means (by analogy) is that we know that one species comes from another (came from New York and ended up in Florida) by looking at fossils, anatomy, genomes, etc. etc. While this isn't very among contraversial scientists exact details (how he got from New York to Florida) can be contraversial.

    Let's look at some examples of contraversy:

    Some fossils suggest that we are descended from apes. Also one of our chromosomes (chromosome 2) shows all the signs of having been two ape chromosomes fused together. So we probably have common ancestory with apes. But what apes are closest related to us? Chimpanzees? Bonobos? Gorillas? That's where debates come in.

    Another example:

    From a few transitional fossils (unfortunately not many), and comparisons of genomes of phyla (groups of organisms) that arised in the Cambrian explosion suggest they evolved (also there was enough time, 6 million years, for this to happen). But even though evolution is up to the task, the period is a period of rapid (relative to other periods) evolution. What caused this? Some scientists believe that since it appears that the eye evolved in this period predation increased and new forms had to be invented to defend oneself. Others believe that since oxygen increased in this period this did two things: killed off old forms, leaving room for new species to evolve, and gave a new source of energy, increasing the rate of evolution.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    the only thing that is left is on how much natural selection is responsible for evolutionary change.

    Is it 100%, 99% or is it just responsible for the majority of change.

    There is no dispute on the common descent aspect.

    Evolutionary trees change sometimes a little depending on the criteria that are applied. It's just interpretation.

    It's comparable to the discussion on the flatness of earth. Is the earth round or flat?

    All agree it is round.

    Same for evolution. All agree that evolution is a fact.
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  6. #5  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    From a few transitional fossils (unfortunately not many),
    All fossils are transitional. If you have a chain, are there any links other than transitional ones?

    Quote Originally Posted by Golkarian
    and comparisons of genomes of phyla (groups of organisms) that arised in the Cambrian explosion suggest they evolved (also there was enough time, 6 million years, for this to happen). But even though evolution is up to the task, the period is a period of rapid (relative to other periods) evolution. What caused this? Some scientists believe that since it appears that the eye evolved in this period predation increased and new forms had to be invented to defend oneself. Others believe that since oxygen increased in this period this did two things: killed off old forms, leaving room for new species to evolve, and gave a new source of energy, increasing the rate of evolution.
    It's also very likely that the cambrian "explosion" is the result of a significant detection bias. Fossilisation is a rare event which mostly fails in delicate organisms. The first shells, exoskeletons and other hard parts of organisms evolved during the cambrian, meaning that on average we would expect to see more successful fossilisations.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    btw...

    established facts.

    plenonasm?
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    presumably because some "facts" turned out not to be nothing of the sort in the cold light of day
    e.g. the "fact" that Gryphaea incurva grew orthogenetically so that in the end it couldn't open its shell - this turned out to be a case of bad fossil preparation
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    presumably because some "facts" turned out not to be nothing of the sort in the cold light of day
    e.g. the "fact" that Gryphaea incurva grew orthogenetically so that in the end it couldn't open its shell - this turned out to be a case of bad fossil preparation
    That's not a fact, but an explanation. "This shell is entirely closed" or somesuch is a statement of verifiable fact which leaves room for many explanations, much as "organisms vary between generations" is an observable and verifiable fact but with many possible explanations. The mechanisms and reasons for these things are broader concepts themselves incorporating many facts and perhaps some inferences, but it would be a mistake to consider such explanations to be facts in themselves.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    however, the whole explanation rested on a false fact, i.e. the "fact" that the shell was no longer able to open, as deduced from fossils

    remember what darwin said about false facts : "False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness"
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  11. #10  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    however, the whole explanation rested on a false fact, i.e. the "fact" that the shell was no longer able to open, as deduced from fossils
    Surely that makes it a false deduction rather than a false fact? A false inference.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    if it is treated as a fact then it isn't a view.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    if it is treated as a fact then it isn't a view.
    So YEC isn't a view? They certainly treat it as 'fact'.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    what is YEC?

    ----

    oh, Young Earth Creationists. I didn't mean treated as a fact by lunatics.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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