Home » Biology, Mathematics » Not only is there no scientific method, but biology does not need math – says prominent evolutionary biologist

Not only is there no scientific method, but biology does not need math – says prominent evolutionary biologist

Okay, so cosmic Darwinism’s Lee Smolin doesn’t think there is a scientific method, and now it turns out the founder of sociobiology (father of evolutionary psychology), E.O. Wilson, doesn’t think that math matters much to science:

During my decades of teaching biology at Harvard, I watched sadly as bright undergraduates turned away from the possibility of a scientific career, fearing that, without strong math skills, they would fail.

Yes but—and this is said in charity—maybe those students would fail. The way a surgeon with poor hand co-ordination or a medications nurse who is no good with decimal fractions might just plain fail. We can blame anyone we want, but how seriously we take it maybe depends on how much we think is at stake. A bacterial culture or your best friend?

Wilson argues,

This mistaken assumption has deprived science of an immeasurable amount of sorely needed talent. It has created a hemorrhage of brain power we need to stanch.

Hmmm. It’s not clear if his career is any indicator.

His sociobiology (accused of racism—in all fairness, maybe quite wrongly) gave way to evolutionary psychology, as in the Bedrock school of human psychology. All any math-challenged psych major had to do was come up with an apparently plausible thesis about how paleo man supposedly behaved in order to explain the world around us today —like shopping, voting, or tipping at restaurants.Gosh, if math had done nothing at all except chase all these people off the scene, it would definitely be worth its chalk.

Wilson goes on:

Fortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory. Far more important throughout the rest of science is the ability to form concepts, during which the researcher conjures images and processes by intuition.

So, evolutionary psychologists, come right on in!

There are rules, of course. You can say that “People who consider themselves liberals or atheists tend to have higher IQs than those who are more religious or conservative,” but you must not say that women of one ethnic group are perceived as more attractive than others.

If Wilson is right,  current evolution theory has nothing to do with basic concepts like math. The popular TV talk shows will give you a much better idea of what you need to know.

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12 Responses to Not only is there no scientific method, but biology does not need math – says prominent evolutionary biologist

  1. I’ll never forget the first time I heard of evo psych. A friend of mine introduced me to one saying “This is so-and-so and she is an evolutionary psychologist”. My first words to her were “You’re a what?!!?”

  2. I find it ironic that he used the word “immeasurable” haha

  3. Charles Darwin wasn’t much of a mathematician. In his autobiography, he writes that he studied math as a young man but also remembers that “it was repugnant to me.”,,, Which is well for math finds Darwinism ‘repugnant’:

    HISTORY OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY – WISTAR DESTROYS EVOLUTION
    Excerpt: A number of mathematicians, familiar with the biological problems, spoke at that 1966 Wistar Institute,, For example, Murray Eden showed that it would be impossible for even a single ordered pair of genes to be produced by DNA mutations in the bacteria, E. coli,—with 5 billion years in which to produce it! His estimate was based on 5 trillion tons of the bacteria covering the planet to a depth of nearly an inch during that 5 billion years. He then explained that the genes of E. coli contain over a trillion (10^12) bits of data. That is the number 10 followed by 12 zeros. *Eden then showed the mathematical impossibility of protein forming by chance.
    http://www.pathlights.com/ce_e.....hist12.htm

    Murray Eden, as reported in “Heresy in the Halls of Biology: Mathematicians Question Darwinism,” Scientific Research, November 1967, p. 64.
    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.
    http://www.creationscience.com.....tes32.html

    Can Darwin’s enemy, math, rescue him? – May 2011
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....escue-him/

    Darwin and the Mathematicians – David Berlinski
    “The formation within geological time of a human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field, is as unlikely as the separation by chance of the atmosphere into its components.”
    Kurt Gödel, was a preeminent mathematician who is considered one of the greatest to have ever lived. Of Note: Godel was a Theist!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....cians.html

    Dr. David Berlinski: Head Scratching Mathematicians – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEDYr_fgcP8

    quote from preceding video:

    “John Von Neumann, one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century, just laughed at Darwinian theory, he hooted at it!”
    Dr. David Berlinski

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    “Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas – El Paso

    Here’s That Monumental Evolution Blunder About Probability Again – March 2012
    Excerpt: Laplace didn’t rebuke this argument two centuries ago for no good reason—the fallacy has been around forever and evolutionists continue to employ it.,,, It is truly incredible to see evolutionists work their chicanery so they can uphold complete nonsense as the truth. So the evolutionists would credulously accept all manner of bizarre events. If all their roulette wheel bets turned out winners, if their poker hands always gave a royal flush, if random Scrabble letters spelled out CONSTANTINOPLE, it all would be just another small probability event from which nothing can be concluded. This monumental blunder leads them into all kinds of ridiculous conclusions:
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....under.html

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

    However, mathematical population geneticists mainly deny that natural selection leads to optimization of any useful kind. This fifty-year old schism is intellectually damaging in itself, and has prevented improvements in our concept of what fitness is. – On a 2011 Job Description for a Mathematician, at Oxford, to ‘fix’ the persistent mathematical problems with neo-Darwinism within two years.

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-details/

  4. 4

    @News:

    “(…) biology does not need math – says prominent evolutionary biologist”

    No, he doesn’t. Please do better next time.

  5. No, he doesn’t. Please do better next time.

    Though I agree with you that Wilson didn’t say that, you could be more gentle in your rebuke, it sounds like you are scolding someone.

  6. 6

    I’m YEC but amen to this wilson guy.
    Math is irrelevant to discovery and invention of cool things now and in the past just as learning latin was irrelevant to to getting out of the dark ages.
    Math is just a language of reality. Its a waste of time to know it.
    All the math in the world never undid evolutionary biology error or helped it.
    Math in fact frustrates a sharper thinking in regards to Gods nature.
    Imagination will be doused by mulling over number crunching.
    Only in probability ideas can math help debunk evolution and all that is just numerical representation of common sense.

  7. I dunno. I’m with JWTruthInLove on this one.

    Surely many defenders of Darwinism shy away from the probabilities and the math. But the quotes from Wilson in the OP don’t support the OP’s title. Wilson is talking about “exceptional” mathematical skills not being required. Certainly it is true that much of science gets along quite nicely without what might be required in some specialty disciplines.

  8. 8

    I dunno. I’m with JWTruthInLove on this one.

    Surely many defenders of Darwinism shy away from the probabilities and the math. But the quotes from Wilson in the OP don’t support the OP’s title. Wilson is talking about “exceptional” mathematical skills not being required.

    Yes, Wilson obviously DOES think math is important to his field, which is why, as mentioned in the article, he regularly collaborated with mathematicians throughout his career. And so the reason why exceptional math skills aren’t a requirement is because one can work with others who do have such exceptional skills.

    And Wilson continued taking math classes – even as a tenured professor – to build his math skills.

    I’m not in full agreement with everything in the article, but the spin being put on Wilson’s article is simply wrong.

  9. H’mm:

    Let’s clip a bit more of that editorial, which is saying to objectors, how dare you get angry at the “Academic freedom” expressed in our journal:

    As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

    The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands. [--> In short, we see here the collapse of he next domino beginning]

    Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

    Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern.

    [--> Really? Where were you when Schaeffer and Koop made exactly this point, to object to setting off the first domino in the cascade, warning that it then leads from abortion to infanticide to euthanasia tot he utter devaluation of life and establishment of a culture of death for the convenience of the powerful thence the death camp or the like? Where are you, now that he prediction is coming true again? On what rational grounds do you found reason and morality? In a worldview that infers as Provine put it in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day address: >> Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . >>? Let's just say that this cascade of assertions would undermine both morality and reason, indeed without power of responsible choice, neither can exist, all reduces to might and manipulation by the powerful make 'truth,' 'reason' and 'right'.]

    If there were threats, that is to be regretted, but surely there should be strong condemnation and a call to return to a sanctity of life ethic rather than a ‘life unworthy of being lived” ethic that if translated into German will have a suitably sinister tone, given its history.] More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

    Methinks I find here a turnabout moral equivalency accusation, meant to poison the well.

    And, it seems that — true to the manipulation game — the editorial misrepresents. Let us hear the abstract of the paper, which is so short that failure to cite it in extenso is telling:

    J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411

    Law, ethics and medicine

    Paper

    After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

    Alberto Giubilini1,2,
    Francesca Minerva3

    Published Online First 23 February 2012

    Abstract

    Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

    In short,t he powerful get to decide who is convenient to live, even with no excuse of disability.

    MONSTROUS!

    Introduction:

    Severe abnormalities of the fetus and risks for the physical and/or psychological health of the woman are often cited as valid reasons for abortion. Sometimes the two reasons are connected, such as when a woman claims that a disabled child would represent a risk to her mental health. However, having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children,1 regardless of the condition of the fetus. This could happen in the case of a woman who loses her partner after she finds out that she is pregnant and therefore feels she will not be able to take care of the possible child by herself.

    A serious philosophical problem arises when the same conditions that would have justified abortion become known after birth. In such cases, we need to assess facts in order to decide whether the same arguments that apply to killing a human fetus can also be consistently applied to killing a newborn human . . .

    Then, the newspeak, doubletalk manipulation of language game and where it goes:

    In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. [--> the intent of this doublespeak is obviously to benumb to what is being done, and to give talking points to be drummed in to spread the benumbing far and wide] Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.

    Failing to bring a new person into existence cannot be compared with the wrong caused by procuring the death of an existing person. [--> dehumanising the intended victim, always the first step to excusing mass, politically backed murder] The reason is that, unlike the case of death of an existing person, failing to bring a new person into existence does not prevent anyone from accomplishing any of her future aims. However, this consideration entails a much stronger idea than the one according to which severely handicapped children should be euthanised. If the death of a newborn is not wrongful to her on the grounds that she cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing, then it should also be permissible to practise an after-birth abortion on a healthy newborn too, given that she has not formed any aim yet . . .

    Utterly monstrous, machiavellian, narcissistic [how dare you object, we are the academic elites exercising our minds in free speech] and sociopathic.

    The dark triad in action.

    KF

  10. OOPS, cross-posed by accident, forgive. KF

  11. ‘The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible.’

    Why not make ‘murder in the first degree’ up to the age of majority, legal? Whats the odds (or in formal parlance, ‘the difference’)?

    Well, as for the mathematical odds, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ springs to mind. In real life, worse has been perpetrated by eminent physicians in the past century. I mean apart from Mengele.

  12. 12

    @scordova

    Though I agree with you that Wilson didn’t say that, you could be more gentle in your rebuke, it sounds like you are scolding someone.

    You’re right. I’m sorry… I’ll do better next time. :-)

    And let’s all follow kairosfocus’ example in crtitiquing stuff:

    “And, it seems that — true to the manipulation game — the editorial misrepresents.” (kairosfocus)

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