Talk:Evolution/Archive 24

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Fact vs. Theory complexity

I read through most of the archives on Fact vs. Theory (personally, it would make a great article on this inane discussion). Then I kept referring back to the section in Evolution article regarding the point. Every time I read the statement 'The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote that "evolution is a theory. It is also a fact,'" I keep thinking about the 2004 election, and the way John Kerry tried to use nuance to describe his stance on issues. Science is, by nature, highly nuanced. And unfortunately, the world at large is not. Would it not make more sense to start the conversation by simply stating, "Evolution is a fact." The discussion of what makes theory in science really a fact is difficult to follow, and I'm a pretty smart guy. If you're a brainwashed creationist, you're going to say, "see these guys just doublespeak." And I'm going to have to agree. Not with creationism, but with the doublespeak. Can a wordsmith or two amongst us make a summary sentence or two to lead into the subarticle on Fact vs. Theory? Just my opinion, but it could make the article just ever so slightly better.OrangeMarlin 23:44, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Speaking as an outsider, I think that Gould just confused the issue. I would have rathered he helped to make clear concrete definitions. This just provides fodder for the rabid anti-science hordes.--Filll 00:33, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Maybe we're the only two who care? So, can we make change, or will it cause a holy war?  :) OrangeMarlin 18:28, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
It is possible we can suggest something a bit clearer. I might try it here first on the talk page. If no one says anything then we can try it in the article. People might still object, but at least we can give them a chance to comment.--Filll 18:39, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I have moved the material to Talk:Evolution/FactvsTheory to rewrite it. It is coming slowly. I think I can make it far clearer, and shorter.--Filll 20:15, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I made some wordsmithing to help it make sense. Still sounds like a couple of politicians debating whether the sky is blue.  :) OrangeMarlin 23:43, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes I am still editing it. The problem is that Gould, and possibly others, started this entire "fact" and "theory" thing that makes it completely confusing. Either we ignore this, which is a bit difficult since I think it is all through the field and the debate with creationists, or we try to make it clear. My thought is to
  • explain clearly what fact and theory are in science
  • use gravity as a noncontroversial example
  • claim that the entire discussion is also true for evolution and show how evolution is both "fact" and theory"
  • after all that, show the Gould quote which is fairly famous I think
  • possibly discuss hypotheses and laws after that--Filll 23:52, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Ok I have taken a first rewrite of it. It is longer than I wanted. Some of that material we can chuck I suspect. Or move it to the creationism vs. evolution controversy article. Or make a separate article out of it, as you suggest. That is not the worst idea, frankly. Have at it and see if you can make it better. --Filll 00:39, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
I went back to the location, and all of my edits are gone. Maybe they weren't so good? OrangeMarlin 00:43, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
They are? I didn't change them. We did write overtop of each other a little so that might have caused problems and some edit conflicts. But it should be ok now.--Filll 13:26, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
I have edited it a bit more. I think it is still too long but it is at least clearer than what we have now. Maybe it could be made a separate article, and a short summary be published here. And also at the Creation-evolution controversy page. --Filll 13:57, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

SUGGESTION: I wonder if placing the case for gravity being a fact and a theory, in a blue box with divisions, side by side with the parallel case for evolution being a fact and a theory, would be helpful?--Filll 13:57, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes. I hold my breath waiting for your edit 8=) Candy 14:14, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
There are plenty of nested hypotheses, but I thought most of the laws (Dollo's, Cope's, etc) had mostly fallen out of favor?GetAgrippa 17:23, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes I think that in both gravity and in evolution, the field is littered with a large number of discarded hypotheses, theories, speculations, conjectures, laws, etc. I try to make this clear by describing 3 discarded theories of gravity, and 3 discarded theories of evolution. Of course I could list far more, but that would be more appropriate for the history of science. All I want to do is to make this "fact and theory" controversy a bit more clear. Please take a look at what I have written at Talk:Evolution/FactvsTheory and give me your feedback. --Filll 17:39, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Potential infoboxes for fact vs. theory

Some rough draft versions of infobox type tables on this subject are available for your inspection at Talk:Evolution/FactvsTheory.--Filll 16:09, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Section on hybridization

I have talked about it but hadn't noticed that it is not mentioned in the article. Hybridization is significant in speciation in plants and birds to some degree (one in ten of known bird species and estimated to be much higher). There are also examples of mammals too. I think a plant person could give a sound argument to mention hybrization in plants especially. Perhaps a small section after HGT or mention it in the mutations section. GetAgrippa 00:54, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I added a simple paragraph on hybridization in mutations section. I can add references for bird info, etc. Hybridization in plants is so significant often producing offspring with new traits different from either parent and adapted to different environment than either parent. GetAgrippa 04:04, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Oops! Hybridization is mentioned in HGT, but should be in Gene flow section.GetAgrippa 06:31, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Propose fusing Horizontal gene transfer with Gene flow

Shouldn't HGT be included in Gene flow section? It would fit with Gene flow article that includes HGT. I guess hybridization should be included in Gene flow article also. GetAgrippa 06:24, 12 December 2006 (UTC) I noted that the Founder effect is mentioned in Genetic drift and Gene flow sections. It is usually referred to as Genetic drift is my understanding.GetAgrippa 06:39, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Well with all the bold changes going on I moved HGT intact to Gene flow section. The Gene flow article includes HGT so it all flows. GetAgrippa 01:07, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Dead link

Evolution by Natural Selection, an introduction to the logic of evolution by natural selection Maybe it will be back up later?--Filll 18:22, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Introduction section

No no no noooooooo. See WP:LEAD and WP:WIAFA. I'm rv-ing it. (It not only looks disgusting, it breaks the layout in IE. That and it's confusing - why have a lead AND an introduction?) Mikker (...) 22:37, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I think I've fixed this, though I must say we ought to be able to do better than the second and third paragraphs, which are unchanged. Well, let's see if I'm reverted. Adam Cuerden talk 22:59, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
No. Vote to revert. This is more complicated than the original and is redundant. I thought the plan was a simple intro. No mention of Gene flow which encompasses hybridization and HGT. GetAgrippa 00:02, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, you changed the whole intro so not redundant. May have been premature to judgment. It does seem more complicated than the Jr. edition I thought suggested. I tried tweaking the first paragraph of the original leaving it mostly intact, however it ended up oddly phrased and hyperlinked to death.GetAgrippa 00:28, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, although this is not the right place to bring this up, in PROFESSIONAL level publications, it is very common to have multiple introduction-like things such as an:
  • abstract
  • introduction
  • summary
  • executive summary
etc. The present long baggy introduction just looks intimidating and of no value. If a reader just knows that they have 3 or 4 sentences to read in the first section (lead or whatever), and that tells them what the subject is about and what is roughly in the article, the article will be far more accessible and welcoming.--Filll 00:37, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree, for the simple reason that once we leave the lead section, the complexity ramps up immensely. While I'd be quite happy to cut things after the first paragraph, the old introduction, as I say below, was only a long list of terms, and to have an article on evolution without any simple introduction to natural selection is, frankly, bizarre. This is not an easy article, and if we can in one paragraph explain the major topics of evolution - as I hope I did - while keeping it fairly simple and easy to understand - as I hope I have - I honestly can't see why the other introduction, which explains next to nothing unless one follows all the links - and if one has to read ten articles to understand those few sentences, your point is moot. This is an encyclopedia, not a business proposal. Adam Cuerden talk 00:47, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, if you want to advocate a change like this, it will have to go through talk:WP:LAYOUT and talk:WP:LEAD first. By the way, I much MUCH' prefer the original lead, before it was edited. Mikker (...) 00:57, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

GetAgrippa, In all honesty, I can only believe you haven't read the old introduction recently, because your statements about it do not seem to reflect what it was. Let me quote the opening of the last version before my edits: "In biology, evolution is change in the heritable traits of a population over successive generations (influenced by natural selection, genetic drift, or gene flow). The (genetic) variation in the units of heredity ("shifts in the allele frequency of genes") and interactions with the environment that increase the survival and reproductive success of this variation is natural selection and it plays a major role in adaptations (and exaptations)."

This is a list of jargon terms, with no explanations. It's asking the uninitiated reader to open, what, say, 10 subarticles, if we ignore the relatively well-known terms like "genes" and "population" just to get through the first two sentences. This isn't a simple explanation, this is a see also section with connecting text, and I'm at a complete loss to understand why you think this is at all simple. Adam Cuerden talk 00:40, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that Adam Cuerden has made a massive improvement over the previous jargon-laden introduction. However, I would favor at least breaking it into paragraphs, and having one initial paragraph that is very short, maybe no more than 3 or 4 sentences long. Maybe we are not allowed to have some sort of heading this lead into two, but at least we can make them paragraphs. I however would personally like to see the policy changed so that we had something very short, like an abstract, then followed by an introduction, and then the body. However strictly speaking this does not meet the current rules. At least, let's have paragraphs!--Filll 00:54, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
In addition, I would suggest shorter less complex sentences. --Filll 00:56, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that the direction we are moving is the right direction. I for one think that moving back to the previous introduction would be a bad mistake. I just think it should be formatted slightly differently. I would be glad to do it for you, but I do not want to step on any toes.--Filll 01:01, 13 December 2006 (UTC) Yes, I'm afraid I do love my clauses, don't I? Still, at least it's a start. I'm not saying we should let it stand as I wrote it, but I do think it's better than what came before, which does count for something on a Wiki, surely. By all means, go forth and edit! Adam Cuerden talk 01:04, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Well I gave it a shot but I think it needs more work. I think if we divided it up a bit more with section headings it would help. I think the wording is still awkward too, I am afraid. I would like to just direct anyone interested in controversy right off the bat to the evolution creationism controversy article if I can find the right wording. --Filll 01:49, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Weel, that's the point of editing. It'll sort itself out in time. I would like to lose all the bullet points, though. Adam Cuerden talk 01:55, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

An improvement indeed; however there is still a sense that the definitions need to cover every possible scenario. These two sentences fail all of the readability test:

“Since some traits or collections of traits allow an organism to have more offspring than an organism lacking them, and genes are passed on by reproduction, those that increase reproductive success are more likely to be passed on in comparison to those genes that cause neutral or relatively unfavorable traits. Therefore, the number of organisms with these traits will tend to increase with each passing generation, unless conditions change so as to make them no longer favorable.

I've bolded where it seemed to be "covering all possible scenerios".

What is wrong with, “ In general, Evolution can be described as…. Will they attack you for that phrase so early in the article?

The first paragraph needs to be as much organizational as informative; guiding your readers into the topic rather than bashing them over the heads with it with an endless sentence of this nature. . If it can’t be cleaned up … could you please change this intro line from:

For a non-technical introduction to the topic, please see Introduction to evolution. To: For a comprehensible introduction to the topic please see Introduction to evolution. --Random Replicator 02:09, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree. One does NOT need to cover every possible special case in the introduction. One has to give the big picture. And the sentences should be short. No more than one comma per sentence is a good goal. And paragraphs that are meaningful !! if you do not like the bullets something else can be tried, but it is a desperate attempt to try to put some structure in this basically incomprehensible morass...--Filll 02:18, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I would mention Gene flow rather than Founder effect. Gene flow also includes hybridization and HGT. Founder effect is special case of Gene flow or Genetic drift as the article now reads further down. I moved HGT to Gene flow section as this is consistent with Gene flow article. Although it is interesting how the Founder effect has influenced present population of American Indians with a number of genetic anomalies. GetAgrippa 02:15, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes. It's probably a little too precise - though I do think the "genes are passed on by reproduction" bit is useful insofar as it's an important step in the logical chain as to why an increased opportunity to reproduce results in those genes that caused the increased opportunity to be found more frequently in the next generation. Eh, well. I'm off to bed - should've been hours ago. I'll poke a bit at whatever takes shape overnight. In any case, I can bask in the knowledge that at least we're finally doing something about the introduction. Adam Cuerden talk 02:29, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

This is really great, much more accessible! I think that the second paragrapgh on natural seleciton goes into a bit too much detail for an introductory section, and make it take too long to get to speciation. It would probably improve the intro if it were taken out. It's not really the place to cover the different forms of selection. Thanks for all the hard work!--Margareta 06:04, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

What the heck, I'll try it myself and we can see how it looks.--Margareta 06:06, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

It still looks too baggy and needs formatting in my opinion. Maybe some shorter sentences too. It is so long. I would favor a short 4 or 5 sentence "abstract"-type paragraph, then a more leisurely introduction. I would prefer a boundary or section heading marking the edge between these two, but some people are hung up on the MOS here so it might not be permitted. At least a paragraph break. Some signal to the reader that "you dont have to read all this stuff, just here is far enough to get an idea of what is in the article".--Filll 06:09, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Need to mention "stasis" of populations and perhaps the role of extinctions in diversity and adaptations. The intro is improving. Oh yeah, I'd drop the Founder effect as it is covered in detail later in the article or mention it as a special case or example of genetic drift or give an example of genetic drift like facial patterns in humans. GetAgrippa 13:19, 13 December 2006 (UTC) Oops! stasis and extinction is mentioned later in article. Forget about it!!!GetAgrippa 18:25, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Avoid putting 'survival' on equal footing with 'reproduction'

There is a common misunderstanding (which I think many biologists shared in earlier times), on the effect that evolution in itself should further stronger, more agile, more intelligent, or in similar respects 'better' individuals. Nowadays (thanks to Richard Dawkins and others) I believe most agree that (long term) gene reproductive success is the only selective factor on an individual level. Thus, sometimes selection will favour stronger individuals, but other times weaker ones; sometimes individual survival will be be favoured, but other times (as in the 'suicide' of mating drones) an abrupt early death is favoured, or (as with the sessile tunicates) less intelligence.

There have been some unpracticed editors adding things implying favouring the strongest. This is probably due to such misunderstandings. I am slightly worried when an insightful 'editor pro' like User:GetAgrippa adds and survival on a number of places, where primarily only reproductive success is of interest (and better ability to survive only has a secondary interest, to the extent this furthers reproductive success). I think this risks to increase the layman misunderstanding; and therefore, I'd like GetAgrippa to reconsider and preferrably remove these additions.--JoergenB 14:10, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I added it to stay consistent with the Natural selection article (your comments come close to snide!). I agree the bottom line is reproductive success. An example I've mentioned earlier is the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes to venom produced by newts in their diet. The change increases resistance to the toxin, but the alteration in channel activity gives them slower reflexes and makes them more prone to predators. I think you do make a good point that natural selection does not create perfect, purposeful, or more complex structures. GetAgrippa 15:14, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

All right; I'll compare with natural selection, too.--JoergenB 15:45, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I think you do make a good point that natural selection does not create perfect, purposeful, or more complex structures. This statement is true but there is no denying that organisms and ecosystems have become more complex. Science. 2006. 314:5803. pp 1289-91.Abundance Distrubtions Imply Elevated Complexity of Post-Paleozoic Marine Ecosystems.GetAgrippa 16:56, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Introduction section again

Consider something like the following:

In biology, evolution refers to the processes that cause a change in the features of organisms from one generation to another. The most important of these evolutionary processes is natural selection. Natural selection is a mechanism for choosing those characteristics which best enable an organism to survive and reproduce. When the organism reproduces, some of these useful traits are passed along to its descendents.

  • First paragraph is compact. Just a few sentences. Fairly short. No big words that are undefined. Does not overuse "trait", but defines it by subtle means. Does not give a laundry list of traits.

These traits include pre-existing inherited traits, new traits produced by mutation, and those brought in by the migration of organisms from one population to another.[1] The information about these traits is carried in a unit of biological information called a gene. Genes are passed from the parents to the offspring. The study of how this happens is called genetics.

  • Now your laundry list of traits. And introduce the concept of genes.

There are other processes in evolution besides natural selection. Given enough time, the passive processes of evolution can result in varied adaptations to changing environmental conditions and, eventually, the development of new species from existing ones--a process known as speciation.[2] With its enormous explanatory and predictive power, evolution has become the central organizing principle of modern biology,[3][4][5][6] relating directly to topics such as the origin of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, eusociality in insects, and the biodiversity of Earth's ecosystem.

However, evolution's putative conflicts with religious teachings have resulted in social and religious controversies since its publication.[7] The interested reader is directed to other companion articles where these controversies are explored more fully.

  • finish with your previous paragraphs, removing founder effect etc to footnote.


  1. ^ This is known as lateral transfer of genes, or "gene flow". Gene flow is relevant when looking at populations, as opposed to the species as a whole.
  2. ^ "Mechanisms: the processes of evolution". Understanding Evolution. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2006-07-14. 
  3. ^ Myers, PZ (2006-06-18). "Ann Coulter: No evidence for evolution?". Pharyngula. Retrieved 2006-11-18. 
  4. ^ National Association of Biology Teachers Statement on Teaching Evolution
  5. ^ IAP Statement on the Teaching of Evolution Joint statement issued by the national science academies of 67 countries, including the United Kingdom's Royal Society (PDF file)
  6. ^ From the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society: 2006 Statement on the Teaching of Evolution (PDF file), AAAS Denounces Anti-Evolution Laws
  7. ^ This article by G.R. Morgan documents one aspect of the debate from reaction against the milder theories of Darwin's predecessors to the present day.

Take a look at it and consider it. I think the first paragraph should be very accessible. Later paragraphs in the lead should have short sentences. There should be minimal parenthetical remarks. Readers should not have to look everything up in links.--Filll 14:34, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I found this to be very concise. It is a challenge to capture the spirit and details of such a complex topic in a few lines. This is the best I've seen to date. I hope others will support implementing this change. In addition, I would assume silience (which may be the response to your suggestion) as acceptance. If that be the case, then proceed with the change. --Random Replicator 14:40, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
In biology, evolution refers to the processes that cause some traits to become more common over time. The term "processes" bothers me. Perhaps we should say:evolution refers to the fact that some traits become more common over time. I don't know perhaps a clever way to feed the trolls. A creationist can just add God in processes and be happy! Evolution is change with descent, so a strong statement of fact would be a good start. The "processes" often are theory that scientist debate. A simplestic example. Darwin's finches display modification with descent (evolution a fact). Natural selection can be demonstrated in Darwin's finches (a fact). A thirty year study of Darwin's finches demonstrated evolution was unpredictable. One could (I wouldn't) argue the significance of natural selection in this evolution. Well it makes the point.GetAgrippa 14:50, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I do not like the word "processes" either. I think one could safely do away with it as you suggest in the introductory paragraph. The problem is that as you try to make it more general and all encompassing and covering all special cases, it starts to mean less and less to the average person. This reminds me of a mathematics joke that mathematicians find pretty funny:

This theory is so perfectly general that it does not cover a single known special case.--Filll 15:01, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
If you have ever looked at something in the outer reaches of Category theory or differential topology, you will see what I mean. The reader is confronted with a snowstorm of terms which are very complicated, or have adopted new meanings that are not in any dictionary, or made-up words and a profusion of symbols from German Gothic, Greek, Glagolithic, Sanskirt and Hebrew scripts in strange fonts, with superscripts, subscripts, diacritical marks, sometimes written backwards or upsides down. There is very little recognizable that has any relation to arithmetic or algebra. The only numbers present will be page numbers. There are of course no applications mentioned, and none are apparent. Applications are beneath anyone who is working in such an erudite and involved area. Even number theory is looked down on as being too applied and "dirty".--Filll 15:15, 13 December 2006 (UTC)


I must say I really like the current lead. Now that it's trimmed of the unnecessary parts, and been heavily revised by everyone, it seems an really nice short introduction to the subject that is accurate and applies appropriate weight to the disparate parts. Adam Cuerden talk 17:19, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I will wait for maybe another day or so and see what people say. If I hear no strong objections, I will edit the present lead a little and incorporate the changes I have proposed above. I will also downplay the "processes" verbiage as suggested. This will also make the text more streamlined.--Filll 18:25, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Very minor Intro issue but:

"However, evolution's putative conflicts with religious..." Such an ugly sounding word. I know the meaning (I looked it up) and maybe I am a below average reader. The scientific terminology is challenging enough. --Random Replicator 20:19, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Maybe that is me being too provocative again. I put that in there. It is part of my not so subtle-way of thumbing my nose at the creationists. We can remove it or substitute something else. You caught me red-handed again !!--Filll 20:27, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I would favor simple removal of the word and a modification to make it clear that it conflicts with some religions. The conflict isn't putative, everyone agrees that there is a conflict the issue is what is how fundamental the conflict is and what religions it conflicts with. For example, many young earth creationist christians would like to argue that it fundamentally conflicts with christianity. Most other christians will disagree that there is a conflict with christianity but would agree that it conflicts with the religious beliefs of the YECs. JoshuaZ 21:58, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Ok good point. Anyway it looks like it is gone now,--Filll 22:34, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I have deep objections to the new intro. I do not have time to argue why this large change is inferior to the previous version. I do not know how this got past the editors (I'm on exams so don't check this article very often), but if I were around when this large change was made, I would have reverted it right away so that it could be discussed here first. Don't get me wrong, there are some good things about the intro, but overall it's inferior to the previous one. Hopefully this will cause other editors to voice their complaints and demand that the old intro be reverted and this current intro be discussed in detail in talk first. I will be back in about a week and I assure that I will rip this intro a new one.--Roland Deschain 23:14, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that is good. We need more input, especially if we are heading in the wrong direction. We will be glad to discuss it with you after your exams and see if we can forge some better version yet. At least you are interested, so that is 90% of the battle right there !--Filll 23:17, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
The new intro is much, much better than the last one. This one actually reads like a breath or fresh air. I see Roland deschain cannot believe how it "got past the editors". Sadly, disbelief does not make good writing. Please don't make threats about editing articles. I sense you are annoyed and if you are please try and respond calmly with logic. Thanks.
Made some minor changes myself to the wording. I hope it clarifies the intro a little. I made one change where the article refers to a scientific explanation of Evolution being "sometimes" referred to as being originated by Wallace. Since they published a joint paper in 1858 I think it more accurate to say it was originated by both.
Candy 09:38, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
I think those edits helped. What do you think of my proposed more significant rewording above?--Filll 13:31, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

If it's the one starting, "In biology, evolution refers to the processes ..." (hard sometimes to follow all the threads) then I would say:
"In biology, evolution refers to the processes that cause a change in the features of organisms from one generation to another."
  • needs to be clearer about features as I think it implies to a layperson that what an organism looks like is the most important characteristic of evolution. If fact I'm sure that is what they will read whereas the vast majority of variations biochemical and internal structures.
"The most important of these evolutionary processes is natural selection. Natural selection is a mechanism for choosing those characteristics which best enable an organism to survive and reproduce. When the organism reproduces, some of these useful traits are passed along to its descendents."
  • Like the writing style very much so far. Another comment though is how do we ensure we get it clear that natural selection applies to individuals and evolution to populations.
"These traits include pre-existing inherited traits, new traits produced by mutation, and those brought in by the migration of organisms from one population to another.[1] The information about these traits is carried in a unit of biological information called a gene. Genes are passed from the parents to the offspring. The study of how this happens is called genetics."
  • Ok with that
"There are other processes in evolution besides natural selection. Given enough time, the passive processes of evolution can result in varied adaptations to changing environmental conditions and, eventually, the development of new species from existing ones--a process known as speciation.[2] With its enormous explanatory and predictive power, evolution has become the central organizing principle of modern biology,[3][4][5][6] relating directly to topics such as the origin of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, eusociality in insects, and the biodiversity of Earth's ecosystem."
  • Ok with this too except passive is a weak word for me. Undirected would be much clearer or scrub the word completely. In fact, very clear writing imho otherwise.
"However, evolution's putative conflicts with religious teachings have resulted in social and religious controversies since its publication.[7] The interested reader is directed to other companion articles where these controversies are explored more fully."
  • This is don't like. 1) The word putative doesn't describe the situation. Conflict I would agree with (although it was more like a mobbing by devoutly religious creationists and of course the issues go further because of the ridicle caused by the press who lampooned the erroneous idea that Darwin's nook on Natural Selection said that humans are descended from moneys and contemporary apes).
  • 2)The line also includes the phrase "since its publication". This doesn't refer to anything (although I assume it's Darwin's book on Natural selection). I understand that the original Darwin-Wallace paper didn't seem to create much of a stir anywhere and was published and presented in the year before Origin of the Species.
On the whole better than the present one (at the time of writing) and far better than the previous one. Simple but accurate, key terminology without getting technical and accessible. Just what the doctor ordered! Give yours a vote for the new one. Candy 14:42, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
You bring up a good point of the levels of selection. Level of the organism, deme, population, gene is a subject and debate of perspective. Darwin was at the level of the organism. Dawkins the gene. My bias is towards population genetics because it is the foundation of modern evolution studies with modeling and testing hypotheses and emphasizing reproductive success. The first sentence is improved. I also agree with you that a better explaination of traits would be beneficial for layperson-metabolic, physiologic, behavioral, ecological, anatomical, etc. I think at one point there was a reference to fitness which linked to the article about fitness (absolute and relative)in pop.genetics. GetAgrippa 15:14, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Fused Gene Flow and population structure with Genetic Drift

I fused it all,but left all intact. It was confusing to talk about pop. structure and founder effect twice in both sections. It defines gene flow and genetic drift, and it adds the effects of population structure on natural selection and genetic drift and gives the special case founder effect. It also puts HGT with gene flow and founder effect with genetic drift. It seems reasonable. GetAgrippa 17:54, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Isn't time to archive most of this Talk? It is lenghty.GetAgrippa 17:55, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Done. Adam Cuerden talk 00:51, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Entropy and life

I admit that the reference that was just removed from the article was not directly related to biology, the editor had a good point. It is possible that more complex systems will be more able to survive. Should this be mentioned?--Filll 19:48, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

The removed reference is my recent research result, which tries to justify the advantage of more complex network systems in terms of computational complexity theory. Because I see that many publications are quoted in the contents of this item, I do not realize that adding my own research result is somehow improper. I apologize for any non-positive consequence implied, and I support the editor's move to delete it. --Jiejunkong 01:32, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that particular editor's statement about not "promoting" your own research was a matter of personal opinion. See the comment on my talk page about referencing your own published work - according to the admin that I queried, that's a valid reference and totally ok. It might have been helpful if there had been a better contextual tie-in to the topic, though--maybe you could have avoided the reversion . . . or maybe not. But I don't think you violated any policies.--Margareta 04:57, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank Margareta for the message. It is helpful to me. The research was from some argues and thoughts several years ago. I once heard that some people say that competition itself will make lots of things go complex. Yes, it is true. But competition will also destroy lots of things and turns them into random dirts. Competition is just a rule. It does not necessarily favor more complex competitors. There is a huge gap in the argument to be filled in. So I have tried, based on some scientific theory (in particular computational complexity theory), to prove that more complex network systems (with certain constrains like negligibility requirements) do have probabilistic security advantages over their less complex counterparts (by the term "counterparts" I mean those entities with same structure but less scale in network size). All listed publications were reviewed by 2 to 4 peer experts in the same research area of me. Is this network-centric conclusion applicable to biology (if we treat a biological body as a network of living cells)? So far I am not qualified as a biologist to make any conclusion, but I believe it is applicable, and I am trying. As an early notice to people who are interested in this topic, currently I am working on a cyanide poisoning analysis based on the same theory. --Jiejunkong 19:51, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Lead section rewritten again

Thanks to some of your input, I have rewritten the lead section again. Consider the following:

In biology, evolution refers to the changes in organisms from generation to generation. Some organism traits become more common over time. The most important of evolutionary process is natural selection. Natural selection is a mechanism for choosing those characteristics which best enable an organism to survive and reproduce. When the organism reproduces, some of these useful traits are passed along to its descendents.

  • First paragraph shortened, removing some problem statements, wording, phrases. Still introduces the semi-technical word "trait" gently. Question: should "survive" be removed? It is more about reproduction and less about survival I think. Some rewording of the first sentence as suggested. An extra sentence is included as suggested. Possibly too many sentences? Question:How do we ensure we get it clear that natural selection applies to individuals and evolution to populations? Is this not clear from the paragraph above?

These traits include pre-existing inherited traits, new traits produced by mutation, and those brought in by the migration of organisms from one population to another.[1] The information about these traits is carried in a unit of biological information called a gene. Genes are passed from the parents to the offspring. The study of how this happens is called genetics.

  • Now your laundry list of traits. And introduce the concept of genes.

There are other processes in evolution besides natural selection. Given enough time, evolution can result in a variety of adaptations to changing environmental conditions. Eventually, these changes can lead to the development of new species from existing ones, a process known as speciation.[2] With its enormous explanatory and predictive power, evolution has become the central organizing principle of modern biology,[3][4][5][6] relating directly to topics such as the origin of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, eusociality in insects, and the biodiversity of Earth's ecosystem.

  • Word "passive" is removed.

However, evolution's conflicts with religious teachings have resulted in social and religious controversies.[7] The interested reader is directed to other companion articles where these controversies are explored more fully.

  • Break up some compound sentences for clarity. Removing putative. Still have a link to controversy page(s).

Since the only purpose of that paragraph is to provide the link, it doesn't seem appropriate for the lead. Better to link it further down in the article.


  1. ^ This is known as lateral transfer of genes, or "gene flow". Gene flow is relevant when looking at populations, as opposed to the species as a whole.
  2. ^ "Mechanisms: the processes of evolution". Understanding Evolution. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2006-07-14. 
  3. ^ Myers, PZ (2006-06-18). "Ann Coulter: No evidence for evolution?". Pharyngula. Retrieved 2006-11-18. 
  4. ^ National Association of Biology Teachers Statement on Teaching Evolution
  5. ^ IAP Statement on the Teaching of Evolution Joint statement issued by the national science academies of 67 countries, including the United Kingdom's Royal Society (PDF file)
  6. ^ From the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society: 2006 Statement on the Teaching of Evolution (PDF file), AAAS Denounces Anti-Evolution Laws
  7. ^ This article by G.R. Morgan documents one aspect of the debate from reaction against the milder theories of Darwin's predecessors to the present day.

Take a look at it and consider it. I think the first paragraph should be very accessible. Later paragraphs in the lead should have short sentences. There should be minimal parenthetical remarks. Readers should not have to look everything up in links.--Filll 18:18, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Fill I like your first paragraph. I also think this is very readable and would reach a broad audience. I wonder if it is high school level? I don't know how to gauge. I like you have survive and reproduce which is consistent with Natural selection article, and then emphasize the major significance of reproductive success. Perhaps emphasize more : "When the organism reproduces, some of these useful traits are passed along to its descendents. The fitness of an organism in terms of evolution is measured as reproductive success." This mentions fitness but instead of survival of the fittest misconception it emphasizes fitness as reproductive success. That may just complicate matters. GetAgrippa 21:39, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I prefer the current intro, honestly. But one comment: is natural selection really "the most important"? I know it is emphasized heavily, but I can't recall a single time in my course on evolution when it was said to be the most important. Titanium Dragon 22:20, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I am having a hard time following all the revisions and the various commentary on them--I don't know which comments go with which versions of the lead! I can say that I feel the lead that is currently on the main article (5 paragraphs) is far too long. What seems to keep happening is that we get a good summary lead, then people keep filling it out with their favorite concepts, resulting in an ever-growing lead. It's a lead; we don't have to cover everything. We have a whole article to do that! I think some of the intermediary versions were better, but the current lead is still an improvement over the earlier one. I also think FIlll's suggested rewrite is good, very readable, and better than what is currently up. I also have to say his first paragraph is the best first paragraph I've seen so far.--Margareta 00:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

It must be said that WP:LEAD does recommend a three to four paragraph lead for an article of this length, and they're pretty short paragraphs. Adam Cuerden talk 01:25, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm afraid I don't like Filll's version: "It is observed" is an awkward phrase, and breaks the flow completely. As well, I'm afraid the article's current structure demands a fairly information-rich lead, if for no other reason than that it is the *only clear setting out of what evolution is in the article*. The rest of the article completely lacks any stepping back and explaining things, and so the lead section needs to stand *on its own* as a consise, complete definition of evlution in terms appropriate for the layperson. Not only that, but the article's structure, spending a great deal of time on history and development of evolutionary thought, then offering evidence for evolution, and then describing evolutionary processes... We can't throw the reader into the article without giving them a good, strong lead that explains the basics of evolution well, and any trimming and simplifying that obscures the important facts is a false econmy, because the rest of the article presumes the reader understands the basics. It may be that we could fix the rest of the article up so as to make a simpler lead appropriate. But until we do, frankly, we need the lead to explain things for us. Adam Cuerden talk 01:44, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Ok you've convinced me.--Margareta 04:59, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that this basically says the obvious: that the rest of the article also needs some rewriting and reorganizing. I think that if you believed that the previous lead gave a clear description of evolution for the layperson, you are sadly mistaken. I could probably find quite a few editors who would agree with me as well on this point. It is fine to get technical and fancy, but do it in the body. The lead should tell you what the article is about. Most people will read no farther. It should not include every bit of detail and minutae possible. If another section needs to be written so the reader understands the basics, then write one and include it. If the history section clogs it up too much, spin it off into a separate article. What you had before did not explain things for you. It was an awful mess, to be frank.--Filll 02:01, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Maybe I am blind, but where do I write "it is observed"?--Filll 02:04, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
OK I was blind. I saw it. I agree that could be simplified. Good. In fact, I will change it now here.--Filll 02:05, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, no. I meant the current version, which seems a nice balance. My original version was probably still trying too hard. It's just that, well, your version seems to lack "flow". For instance, this section:

The information about these traits is carried in a unit of biological information called a gene. Genes are passed from the parents to the offspring. The study of how this happens is called genetics.

  • First sentence repeats the word "information" twice.
  • "The study of how this happens is called genetics" is excessively wordy and does not provide any particularly relevant information. Is this really one of the top 50 most important facts and concepts related to evolution? Because that's about the maximum number of facts we can get into the lead.
  • Between the first and second sentence, we have "gene. Genes"
  • Second sentence gives an accurate fact, but give no context for why this is important, nor does anything around it.
  • Each sentence provides no more than one fact, and uses more words than necessary to get to the point. Writing, in my opinion, should attempt to say something in as few words as can explain it clearly (which is possibly why I end up with so many clauses, but I think there's room between your style and mine that might be more appropriate.

Agreed though that we ought to continue by simplifying and reworking the rest of the article. Adam Cuerden talk 04:27, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Evolution, compexity, devolution

It might be worth mentioning that some eukaryotic cells are as small or smaller than bacteria. That some bacteria have nuclear like structures. That the complexity (size of genome and number of genes)of the genome does not correlate with complexity. I agree that evolution doesn't neccessarily produce more complex structures or ecosystems, but it obviously has. Science 24 November 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5803, pp. 1289 - 1292.Abundance Distributions Imply Elevated Complexity of Post-Paleozoic Marine Ecosystems Peter J. Wagner,1* Matthew A. Kosnik,2 Scott Lidgard1.GetAgrippa 23:45, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I've noted comments to diminish lateral transfer of genes. That is our bias of sexual reproduction and animals. HGT has been demonstrated in every prokaryote genome sequenced to date (appears as major pathway in antibiotic resistance)and it is significant in plants (Further early in earth's history it was probably dominant). In order to follow NPOV you can't be biased towards animals. Just like hybridization which is not significant in mammals and insects is in plants and birds. I think it better to paint a broad diverse picture of evolution rather than a too simplestic version.GetAgrippa 12:47, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Entropy and life

I deleted two paragraphs in this section.

There are very controversial contents in the two paragraphs (if not scientific errors).

First, it is well-known in information theory, in Maxwell's demon paradox, the demon reduces the thermodynamic entropy of a system using information about the states of individual molecules; however, the demon himself increases his own entropy in the process, and so the total entropy does not decrease, thus resolves the paradox. There are formulas in information theory textbooks to convert information entropy into thermodynamic entropy, and vice versa. In a nutshell, the 2nd law does apply to information entropy. The author of the deleted paragraph obviously did not know this scientific conclusion and misclaimed that thermodynamic entropy and information entropy are not interchangable.

Second, as the remaining paragraph explains, complexity-increasing biological systems may not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This is okay and this is where it should stop. Clearly, the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not justify this complexity-increasing phenomenon either. It's improper to list some irrelevant complexity-increasing things in the world to justify the correlation between the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the evolution theory. The authors of the paragraph failed to explain the reasons why these texts should appear here. --Jiejunkong 01:21, 15 December 2006 (UTC)


As things currently are, once you leave the lead, the next time you'll get any coherent description of Evolution itself is in the complex section on the Modern Synthesis, AFTER a long section on evidences. Surely we can organise things better than that! Also, it might be worth spinning out much of history of evolutionary thought. It seems a bit secondary for the main article. Adam Cuerden talk 01:44, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Layout seems to be broken

The layout of the summary section of the article looks, well, wrong. The sidebar seems to be in the wrong place. Any ideas of what's wrong? i kan reed 07:08, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I screwed up in editing. It should be ok now.--Filll 08:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

New fact and theory section

I replaced the old one with a shorter new one with a couple of infoboxes, and a link to a much longer discussion with more references and detail. Hopefully this is shorter and clearer.--Filll 08:32, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

While I appreciate the effort, I think you vastly oversimplified and this will cause confusion for many readers. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:46, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Did you recently review the corresponding previous sections in evolution and Creation-evolution controversy? Have you tried to read Gould carefully? Did you read my extended article on Evolution as theory and fact? I would gladly put my extended article and even the shortened articles up against Gould's article or certainly the previous two corresponding sections on evolution and Creation-evolution controversy. The problems I believe were:

  • Gould actually is careless when he is not precise and consistent about the two meanings of the word "fact", and makes things a bit worse by mixing them.
  • Gould's comment suggesting that "creationists are so silly that their reasoning would imply that gravity would not work if there were no theory" does not help matters, frankly. All it does is provoke, and adds more heat than light to the situation.
  • The section on Creation-evolution controversy in particular was bogged down in complicated sentence constructions and philosophy of science issues. Believe me, that will do nothing but confuse people. One has to remember that the average person is as dumb as a stump. About 1/3 of the US adults think that the sun orbits the earth. A comparable fraction of US adults cannot find the US on a map of the world. The average reading level of adults in Washington DC, the nation's capital, is about a grade 3 reading level. In some states more than half of all grade school teachers are functionally illiterate; that is, they cannot read a newspaper and understand it. So we need to be as clear as possible, at least in the introductory parts. And the "evolution is a theory not a fact" objection is the number one objection of creationists and it is the lead obection in the misunderstanding section in this article. The discussion of this misconception/objection needs to be clear, short and simple.
  • Since the statement that "evolution is a fact and a theory" is so common in the literature, I do not think one can reasonably get away with not including the Gould article, which is so widely quoted. I also do not think one can avoid addressing the primary objection to evolution, that it is "only a theory". It was even written into state law more than once in the US for gosh sakes.
  • By starting this section with Gould's quote, one takes a bad situation and make it worse. Gould's quote does not fix things or make them clearer, but muddies the water. I think we have to include the Gould quote, but only after the groundwork has been carefully laid. Previously, the Gould quote led off these corresponding sections.
  • Some effort was expended in the Gould quote and the previous corresponding sections to form an analogy between evolution and gravity. In spite of these efforts, I do not feel that any of these three pieces of text explained the gravity analogy carefully enough or fully enough so that people could understand. Therefore, I tried to be far more methodical and explicit when developing an analogy between gravity and evolution. I also tried to be somewhat repetitive in the Evolution as theory and fact article. I wanted to state things a couple of different ways to make sure that the point was made.--Filll 13:33, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

You may mean "words" but I think you are wrong, and I mean "concepts". "fact" is an English word that signifies an idea (thus, concept). "Fact" is not a Spanish or Russian word, but the "concept" that English-speaking scientists mean when they use the signifier "fact" exists in those other languages, in the form of other words. What we are talking about here is concepts, not the words that, in a specific language, refers to those concepts. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:15, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
As I think about the discussion here, it seems to me that either you are not a native English speaker, and then this problem you are having is understandable. However, you might have to bow to those who are native English speakers in these matters, I am afraid. Another potential option, which I would rather not be true (but might be true, I fear) is that you are attempting to be overly pedantic. Certainly the text that you produced either shows a poor knowledge of English, or a voracious pendantry that manages to trip over itself and create nonsensical text. Sorry.--Filll 19:43, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Reading it over again, I have replaced the word "you" in my text with the word "one". If anyone is a nonnative English speaker, they might mistake my use of the word "you", and imagine that I am referring to the reader. I am not, in fact referring to Slrubenstein with the pronoun "you" above (at least not always). It is common in English (but confusing) to use "you" when in fact "one" or "someone" or "a person" etc might be more accurate and less likely to be misinterpreted. Sorry.--Filll 19:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Well I mean the word "word". To use the word "concept", implying the meaning behind the word confuses the issue. The difficulty is that scientists are using the word "fact" for one concept, and lay people are using the word "fact" for another concept. The difficulty is that scientist are using the word "theory" to represent one concept, and lay people are using the word "theory" to represent another concept. If I were to follow your suggestion, the text would state something nonsensical. As you have now written it, you are implying that the concept "fact" is one thing with multiple meanings. I would ask, which of the many concepts that the symbol "fact" represents are you referring to? The word "fact" is one label. It represents multiple concepts. Scientists have one concept or meaning they ascribe to the word "fact". Lay people have another concept or meaning that they ascribe to the word "fact". The same is true of the word or symbol or label "theory". The symbol "theory" can represent multiple concepts, depending on the context. In a scientific context, the label "theory" corresponds to an explanation of the symbol "facts", which represents data to scientists. So what you have written is like claiming that a given meaning has more than one meaning. It makes no sense whatsoever. So the same problem might not arise in a language like Spanish or Russian. In Russian they might have one word for the scientific meaning of the word "fact" and another word for the lay person's meaning for the word "fact". In that case, there would be no problem. Two different concepts have two different words. In English we have a bad situation. One word represents two different concepts. And we do it not once (with the word "fact") but twice (with the words "fact" and "theory") when discussing this objection or misconception. --Filll 13:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

As you are probably well aware, if you speak other languages, it is far easier to express certain concepts in one language than another. Some words are perfect in German or French for a certain situation or a certain feeling. These same words might not exist in English. To explain them might require an entire phrase. So this is a language problem with English. It does not necessarily exist in other languages. If scientists had not chosen to use the words "fact" and "theory", this confusion would not have arisen. But since they did, we have to address it. --Filll 13:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

If you really want to debate the semiotics of this situation, I would be glad to. But are you sure you want to clog up the page with this? I think it is pretty clear. If you are still having trouble, I would be glad to bring in other editors to help you understand. --Filll 13:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Fill is making two big mistakes. First, he is assuming that editors own articles. i do not claim to own the article. I never added the Gould quote, I never made an argument about the Gould quote. It is true I never deleted it but that is because I do not own this article; Wikipedia is a collaborative project. Second, Fill is guilty of violating Wikipedia:No original research and perhaps Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. He is deleting a verifiable cource because he does not agree with it. Fill, we are not allowed to put our own views into articles. It does not matter what you or I think of Gould. Gould is a verifiable source, and was a respected scientist. if you think there are other views than gould's which ought to be represented in the article, by all means add them - as long as you are drawing on verifiable sources, not just your own views. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:51, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

M. Slrubenstein, you seem to want to provoke an argument, or are somewhat confused:

  • I never implied you owned the article or included Gould. Where did I state that? And you think I am blaming you for not deleting Gould? What sort of statement is that? I am completely confused by your reasoning.
  • I did not delete Gould. I merely prefaced Gould with some other material. As you now have. Please try not to misprepresent the situation. I even wrote extensively why we should not delete Gould. Did you even read what I wrote above in response to you?
  • What other views am I producing to contradict Gould? I am in FULL agreement with Gould. I just think Gould did not write as well as he should have or could have. I fear you did not read what I wrote. It appears you did not read what I wrote, or you did not understand what I wrote. Perhaps it should have been clearer, so I would like to grasp what you did not understand. Did you read Gould? Do you understand what Gould is saying? Did you not understand that I and Gould are in complete accord?
  • I have a few more comments on what you have replaced this section with summarily. If the previous section was so bad, you should have replaced it months ago. Or responded when the call came out days ago to rewrite it. Or responded to the sections being marked as incomprehensible months ago. Where were you then? I would argue for collaboration and consensus in this matter, which seems strangely lacking, since no one "owns" Wikipedia, as you so aptly and accurately put it.--Filll 14:10, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I go away for a day, and there appears to be an edit war. I disagree with you wholeheartedly Sirubenstein. I hate to stand on a soapbox, but lets be honest. A lot of people who will read this article have their mind made up about evolution. They've listened to the uneducated Christian right in the US, and believe that we rose up in the Garden of Eden a few thousand years ago. One of the persistently idiotic arguments of these christian mythologists is that Evolution is ONLY a theory. Most of us who are brainwashed by Christian myth and dogma, understand what that means. The religious nuts will believe whatever they want. But the group of people who actually have an open mind and are still resistant to that mythology espoused by the Christian right may read this section, and think, "ok, that makes sense." But when I read the Fact vs. Theory page, it really sounds like doublespeak. Like I wrote before, it really sounds like a politician wrote it. What Fill has done (with minor help from a few of us) really makes it easy to read AND does not change the essential character of the section. I have no clue why you are so dogmatic about change. And finally for all the good Gould has done, he comes across as a Ivory Tower intellectual. His quote is really bad, but everyone seems to like it. I understand what he's saying, but then again, I have multiple degrees in the sciences. OrangeMarlin 18:49, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Slrubenstein's fact and theory section

Slrubenstein has replaced the fact and theory section I and several other editors wrote and the link to the longer article. This was the result of collaboration and comments of several editors over several days. I present here Slrubenstein's replacement with some comments:--Filll 14:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

See also: Theory vs. Fact

The link to the main article has been removed, which was created by consensus and collaboration over the last few days.--Filll 14:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Some critics of evolution calim that it is meely a theory. This criticism in fact makes two claims: that evolution is a theory, and not a fact, and that theories are less established than facts. In other words, laypeople usually use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion," and the word "fact" to refer to parts of the world, or claims about the world, that are real or true regardless of what people think.

This appears to have been written in a bit of a frenzy, given the grammar and spelling problems. Nevertheless, this now introduces the word "fact" in the conventional layperson sense twice without quotes and once with quotes. This will confuse the issue more because the word "fact" is used in the scientific meaning below and in the Gould quote. I avoided using "fact" in the conventional layperson sense in my version of this section to avoid this difficulty on purpose.--Filll 14:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

His analysis of the conventional lay person sense of the word "theory" is reasonable, but wordy. The sentences are too long and complex. It is also overstating the obvious. The unfamiliar meaning is the scientific meaning of the word "theory". This section cannot be huge and long. That was the problem before and in the controversy article. That is the reason a separate article on this topic was created.--Filll 14:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

In scientific terminology however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) from which falsifiable hypotheses can be generated and tested through controlled experiments, or be verified through empirical observation.

Overly wordy and complicated. This is a reprise of the previous bad amateur philosophy of science material on this page and in particular on the controversy page.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

In this scientific sense, "facts" are parts of theories. Fact is not merely something obtained by observation, because there is no certainty as to what that "something that has been observed" is or means.

This is wrong. "Facts" are not parts of theories. "Facts" are data that theory attempts to explain. I have 4 graduate degrees in science. I think I know what a "fact" in science is. And this statement is completely at odds with the Gould quote or the other 20 or so quotes I compiled on the extended article page, as well as the conventional scientific meaning of the word "fact". I also am puzzled by the statement 'there is no certainty as to what that "something that has been observed is or means'. This is an incredible statement to make. There is no certainty ? Is this stepping into quantum mechanical territory? Nihilism?--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

In science, fact can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent"[1] through consistent observation or controlled study.

This again is confused. What has been done is use the conventional layperson meaning of the word "fact" which again confuses the issue. Gould does it as well in his extended article, which is part of the problem with the Gould article. What Gould means is better represented by "truth". Scientific "facts" can of course be "true" but only up to error bars. Scientific "theories" are the things that can only be "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent"[1], and that is what Gould is referring to, not scientific "facts". Gould is describing whether or not a scientific "theory" is indeed a fact, in the conventional layperson sense of the word "fact" in this quote. That is one of the sources of confusion and difficulty which I want to avoid repeating.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, "facts" are not merely phenomena that can be observed, they are phenomena that are deemed worthy of notice.

This is a completely confused statement. Now a third meaning of the word "fact" is being alleged. Not merely the conventional layperson meaning of the word "fact" or the scientific meaning of the word "fact" as datum, but the word "fact" is being ascribed to the phenomenon that give rise to the datum. It is now claimed that only phenomenon that are "noteworthy" somehow are "facts", a qualifier that seems a bit strange. And who defines a phenomenon as noteworthy? This is way outside the bounds of standard knowledge and scholarship. It might start to qualify as a personal POV or personal research. Sorry.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

It is theory that guides observations and our understanding of what we observe. In other words, for scientists "theory" and "fact" do not stand in opposition, but rather exist in a reciprocal relationship.

It is true that sometimes in science a "theory" is used to make predictions which scientists then attempt to verify by collecting data. However, it is very common to collect data with no theory to drive the collection as well. This is one of the great drawbacks to the elementary explanations of what constitutes the "scientific method" one finds in schoolbooks. They are wrong, and do not at all correspond to what scientist actually do. Science is far more flexible than what is presented in the formalized textbooks written for students. I have no idea how what was stated bolsters the claim for a "reciprocal relationship" or "fact" and "theory" standing in opposition or not. In fact, just above Slrubenstein claims that a "fact" is a component of a "theory", which also bears no resemblance to conventional scientific meaning or understanding of the terms. This just sounds confused and confusing. Sorry.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Moreover, evolution itself is both a fact and a theory. When "evolution" is used to describe a fact, it refers to the observations that populations of one species of organism do, over time, change into new, or several new, species.

This statement is at least somewhat true, but the sentence is overly long and complex.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

In this sense, evolution occurs whenever a new strain of bacterium evolves that is resistant to antibodies that had been lethal to prior strains. Another clear case of evolution as fact involves the hawthorn fly, Rhagoletis pomonella. Different populations of hawthorn fly feed on different fruits. A new population spontaneously emerged in North America in the 19th century some time after apples, a non-native species, were introduced. The apple feeding population normally feeds only on apples and not on the historically preferred fruit of hawthorns. Likewise the current hawthorn feeding population does not normally feed on apples. A current area of scientific research is the investigation of whether or not the apple feeding race may further evolve into a new species. Some evidence, such as the fact that six out of thirleen alozyme loci are different, that hawthorn flies mature later in the season, and take longer to mature, than apple flies, and that there is little evidence of interbreeding (researchers have documented a 4-6%hybridization rate) suggests that this is indeed ocurring.[1] (see Berlocher and Bush 1982, Berlocher and Feder 2002, Bush 1969, McPheron et. al. 1988, Prokopy et. al. 1988, Smith 1988)

This is all very well and good to describe two more instances of evolution as "fact" in the scientific sense, or at least one is in the scientific sense. However, the idea was not to belabor this section with more and more examples from biology of evolution as "fact". Of course one could include hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands. The rest of the paper can do that. This section is to explain the difficulty with the words "fact" and "theory". With as little effort as necessary, and as clearly as possible. This suggested replacement section does not satisfy either criteria. It is overly long, has too many examples, and is not at all clear.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

When "evolution" is used to describe a theory, it refers to an explanation for why and how evolution occurs. An example of evolution as theory is the modern synthesis of Darwin and Wallace's theory of natural selection and Mendel's principles of genetics. This theory has three major aspects:

This is again a true statement, but it is overly long and belabors the point. The rest of the article is to describe Darwin and Wallace and Mendel's theory. This part of the article is to describe the difficulties with the words "fact" and "theory" with as little extra baggage as possible, and as clearly as possible. This is introducing extra baggage that belongs in the other sections of this article. It is also too long.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

  1. Common descent of all organisms from a single ancestor or ancestral gene pool.
  2. Manifestation of novel traits in a lineage.
  3. Mechanisms that cause some traits to persist while others perish.

There is absolutely no reason to go through these three again. What is the rest of the article for if you want to repeat this same material over and over? The whole purpose of sections is to discuss one topic per section, and make the article clear. This violates that precept.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

When people provide evidence for evolution, in some cases they are providing evidence that evolution occurs; in other cases they are providing evidence that a given theory is the best explanation yet as to why and how evolution occurs. Heritable variation, natural selection, and response to selection (e.g. in domesticated plants and animals) are "facts", and the generalization or extrapolation beyond these phenomena, and the explanation for them, is the "theory of evolution".[2]

This is again true, but overly wordy. The sentences are too long and too complex. It does not follow our attempt to make things clearer.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Using the scientific meanings of the concepts "fact" and "theory," it is common to state that "evolution is both a fact and a theory". This is true for gravity as well:
Gravity Evolution
Things falling is an observation of the pull of bodies towards each other. Fruit flies changing generation to generation is an observation of generational organism change.
Bodies pulling towards each other is called gravity. Organisms changing generation to generation is called evolution.
Gravity is a "fact". Evolution is a "fact".
The "facts" of gravity require an explanation. The "facts" of evolution require an explanation.
Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton created explanations of the "fact" of gravity. These are now obsolete explanations. Lamarckism, Transmutationism and Orthogenesis were created as explanations of the "fact" of evolution. These are now obsolete explanations.
Einstein's explanation is currently the most accepted explanation of the "fact" of gravity Darwin's explanation is currently the most accepted explanation of the "fact" of evolution
Einstein's explanation of the "fact" of gravity is called the Theory of Gravity Darwin's explanation of the "fact" of evolution is called the Theory of Evolution
Gravity is a "fact" and a "theory." Evolution is a "fact" and a "theory."

This infobox now means less because the water has been previously considerably muddied. The word "fact" has been given at least 4 or 5 separate meanings earlier in the section:

  • the layperson meaning of the word "fact" (something that is true)
  • the scientific meaning of the word "fact" (a datum)
  • the phenomenon that produces the datum
  • a notable phenomenon that produces the datum
  • a part of a "theory"

Therefore, the boxed example, which uses the 2nd of these 5 meanings, is completly diluted.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Exploring this issue, the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote that "evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered."[1]

Now the Gould quote is repeated. Again, the situation is considerably muddied after the 4 or 5 different asserted definitions of the word "fact". This added to Gould's comment about gravity not going away, things are not at all made more clear.--Filll 15:00, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

In view of this, I would be glad to hear from other editors. But I have to declare that I think that Slrubenstein's proposed section leaves much to be desired.--Filll 14:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Slrubinstein's changes are in line with the original article which was a herculean (of dozens of editors) effort to produce. Gould was a true scholar and a brilliant man (also a true gentleman). I find his writing concise, informative, and excellent. When I first attempted to suggest changes or additions I was met with resistance and with arguments of merit. Most of these editors have been away at present, but as I warned will descend life flies on poop.I thought the first paragraph needed the most attention, and a link to a simple article would suffice (I am amenable to change though). I have remained mostly quiet to let others have ago (seems fair). For a simple:evolution article I think Fill's suggestions would be excellent. I too have my reservations that the article is becoming too simple-below high school level. But I should add my opinion is warped with my experience in graduate level academia. I do find some of Fill's suggestions excellent. However, I should also add that the main thrust of changing the article before the changes was to shorten the article. This revised section is extremely long and lengthens an already long artilce. I think this maybe inevitable.GetAgrippa 15:34, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I think Gould's personal attributes are somewhat irrelevant here, with all due respect. I am not sure Slrubinstein's single-handed revision in a few minutes in a fit of pique is comparable to a hurculean effort of dozens of editors. I think Gould is mostly clear. However, it is quite concise and has to be read quite carefully to get his meaning. Unfortunately, clearly this is not done given the depth of misunderstanding that still remains. Gould's article came out over 25 years ago. Similar articles have been out much earlier. All that has happened is that things are more confused than ever because of imprecise use of language. I have no problem with erudite and recondite discussions. However, I think they should at least be prefaced with a simpler more accessible paragraph or two. This is not a contest to see who can seem the most abstruse. This is an encyclopedia article. I think that in an encyclopedia, especially in an area that is often misunderstood, one has to be clear. And using 4 or 5 different definitions of the word "fact" is not being clear. If you look at the more extended discussoin at Creation-evolution_controversy#Theory_vs._fact, you will see that I have retained the more sophisticated discussion as follows:

Philosophical arguments

Critiques such as those based on the distinction between theory and fact are often leveled against unifying concepts within scientific disciplines. For example, uniformitarianism, Occam's Razor/parsimony, and the Copernican principle are claimed to be the result of a bias within science toward philosophical naturalism, which is equated by creationists to atheism.[3] In countering this claim, philosophers of science use the term methodological naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method which makes the methodological assumption that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and so considers supernatural explanations for such events to be outside science. Creationists claim that supernatural explanations should not be excluded and that scientific work is paradigmatically close-minded.[4]
Because modern science tries to rely on the minimization of a priori assumptions, error, and subjectivity, as well as on avoidance of Baconian idols, it remains neutral on subjective subjects such as religion or morality.[5] :Mainstream proponents accuse the creationists of conflating the two in a form of pseudoscience.[6]

I have no objection to this more sophisticated discussion, as long as it is prefaced by something a bit gentler. I do not object to appropriate levels of prolixity and ambagious dialectic. I have no objection to pleonastic apodictics, as long as they are not complicated for the sake of complication, or even worse, nonsensical like some of the material I have pointed out above. A turd dressed in a fancy gown still stinks.--Filll 15:43, 15 December 2006 (UTC) PS I would be glad to match my graduate degrees to yours. I am not impressed by this sort of thing...Clarity should be our number one priority, at least in introductions to topics.--Filll 15:43, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I was referring to the orignial article must have been a herculean effort to write given the trouble I have received trying to add minor modifications in the last month. I was just making polite comments I like Gould's writings. You seem angry Fill. Not appropriate. I also could care less about someone's degrees (if you are referring to me). That equates to nothing and has little to do with productivity. I have never published an evolution related article so I don't consider myself an expert (although I have followed it for thirty years). I have been mostly complimentary of your efforts, and I qualified my apprehension of being too simple as POV. I don't remember what High school level is (Dang I'm getting old). I also have trouble in deciding what is appropriate for an encyclopedia as my inclination is overkill. I do like Slrubenstein's first paragraph as it defines evolution as fact and theory- a good start. I think civil discussions will sort it all out. I see both you and Slrub. have made good points in the discussion. I don't think anyone is trying to impress anyone with their education. I think most people really want to help this Wiki fly. GetAgrippa 16:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
You misread my remarks. I am not upset. I also am not a biologist. I have no major stake in this. If biologists want an unreadable article, so be it. I will leave it to them if they feel strongly about it, as I suggest we all should. I refuse to get in an edit war over any of this. It is just my opinion that the first paragraph or two of an important article like evolution should be readable by the average person. After that, one can be as complicated as one likes. And in the case of the "fact and theory" section, I believe the same is true. This is the most important objection to evolution by creationists, so it should be introduced carefully, as was discussed repeatedly above. After it is introduced carefully, one can be as abstruse as one likes. One can even be contradictory I suppose, as slrubinstein's text is (however I would argue against that, but I would not worry too much as long as the preceding introductory paragraphs were clear). Slrubinstein's objection to my text was that it was too short and too simple. I do not think you can be too simple in an introductory section to a topic, including the important "fact and theory" topic, which is so often misunderstood. It does not need to be complicated. This at its heart a trivial concept. And one does not need to make it so fancy that no one can understand it! The objections on this page and the controversy page for months were that those "fact and theory" sections were too long and too confusing for most people. I must also correct your statement that Slrubinstein's version says that evolution is a fact and a theory in the first paragraph. This statement in fact does not appear for about 10 sentences in Slrubinstein's version and in the third paragraph. The words "fact" and "theory" appear together with the word "evolution" in the second sentence in Slrubinstein's version, but just in defining the confusion. In contrast, the version that I and my collaborators produced include the statement that "evolution is a fact and a theory" in the third sentence, far sooner than the 10th sentence and third paragraph of Slrubinstein's version. I would be glad to add words to the effect that "creationists are sort of stupid since they claim that evolution is only a theory" but I thought it was best to avoid this sort of provocative statement. I rather would be somewhat gentle in my allusions to their misunderstandings. But it would be trivial to add a sentence to this effect. And far clearer than what now appears in the text.--Filll 17:11, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh yeah. This article is extremely long. I and others have suggested shortening some sections (as they have their own article)to briefly mention main points and link article. I wanted the social issues section removed (because it is a side issue), but after watching the discussions for a month I see why it is warranted. I do agree with some notion of simplification. Keep it simple stupid! was my mentors advice for grant writing (he was right).GetAgrippa 16:52, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

It is too long. That is why I am trying to farm some of it out to other articles if possible, as in the "fact and theory" section. But Slrubinstein produced a replacement that was maybe 4 times as long. And far more complicated and contradictory. This is not helpful for a complicated article that is quite inaccessible already. It is too complicated. This topic of all topics should have simple introductory sections to important material, if the other sections cannot be made less technical. Simple is best, at least for the introductions.--Filll 17:11, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
We have a "simple" wikipedia for such things. But Wikipedia proper is an encyclopedia first and formost and we cannot compromise on the quality. A complex topic is goiong to require exposition of what makes it complicated. It is ill-served by oversimplifying. for example, to say that "theory is an explanation of facts" is a vast, vast simplification and really just not accurate. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:23, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Aren't your comments a bit snobby? I think what Filll did with the section is excellent, and does not overly simplify the issue. Fact vs. Theory is very complicated and it is one of the foundations of countering Christian mythologists. What if someone comes here for information to counter a Board of Education ruling to force Creationist myths down the throats of students? Are you going to stand on some admirable, yet counterproductive, principle that we have to write in the style of a Ph.D. in Comparative Morphology? Or would you rather write in a clear, understandable, well-written and useful section that can be quoted and used for everyone involved? I came to this article originally because I needed some NPOV information to fight some pathetic school administrators that lacked the proper intellectual capacity to fight off some religious cretins who were trying to force that ID crap on my kids. I love this article, but I'm not so dogmatic to believe that it was perfect. I think what Fill has done deserves to be included.OrangeMarlin 18:57, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Would you consider the Encyclopedia Britannica a proper encyclopedia? I think they are the gold standard and that is what we should aim for. They not only have readable introductions to their subjects, but they have multiple levels of sophistication in their level (about 6 by my accont) in different versions. There is no need to be overly complicated. This is not rocket science here. This is not category theory. This is not differential topology or knot theory. To make it unnecessarily complicated, especially in introductions is basically putting on airs. And of course "theory is an explanation of facts" is an oversimplification. It is supposed to be. That is why that is the first statement and it builds and builds if you follow the text and the links to

Critiques such as those based on the distinction between theory and fact are often leveled against unifying concepts within scientific disciplines. For example, uniformitarianism, Occam's Razor/parsimony, and the Copernican principle are claimed to be the result of a bias within science toward philosophical naturalism, which is equated by creationists to atheism.[7] In countering this claim, philosophers of science use the term methodological naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method which makes the methodological assumption that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and so considers supernatural explanations for such events to be outside science. Creationists claim that supernatural explanations should not be excluded and that scientific work is paradigmatically close-minded.[8]
Because modern science tries to rely on the minimization of a priori assumptions, error, and subjectivity, as well as on avoidance of Baconian idols, it remains neutral on subjective subjects such as religion or morality.[9] :Mainstream proponents accuse the creationists of conflating the two in a form of pseudoscience.[10]

In fact, I would not object to something more complicated than that even. But NOT without a clear introduction so at least everyone can understand what the article or section is about. And also, accuracy is important. You cannot have muddy thinking and then try to hide behind some convoluted sentences and long words to hide the defects in your reasoning.--Filll 17:30, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Invitation to compare proposed leads to article

Please go to Talk:Evolution/LeadComparison for a comparison of the different leads. What direction do people want to go? Short and technical? Short and accessible? Long and accessible? Long and technical?--Filll 17:23, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Medium (no more than 4-5 reasonable paragraphs) and accessible.--Margareta 18:08, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I think it needs to have both short and accessible basic, and then advanced long and technical,or two linking articles. I do agree that the first paragraph in particular needs to be accessible to a broad audience with simple ideas-evolution is change or modification with descent. It is reasonable to mention shifts in frequency of gene alleles as it is the modern working definition. So some sort of compromise should be a viable alternative.GetAgrippa 18:26, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

My own personal preference would be to have a structure something like an abstract and an introduction, as in a real professional article. I would have a couple of very accessible paragraphs as an abstract, then a longer more technical introduction. If people did not blow a gasket, I think that even having a section heading between the two would be fine. However, I think that MOS Nazis will be enraged by that suggestion.---Filll 18:33, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I might note that many people here seem to want to pretend that this article has to be really sophisticated and cannot even drop down to undergraduate level in many places. Well if we want to do that, then let's be FULLY professional here and do what the big boys do. An abstract and an introduction, BOTH. This is not like explaining the different kinds of transportation that is available in Finland, or the types of food that people eat in Hokkaido. This is science. It is a bit more complicated and demanding (although this subject is not as demanding as people seem to want to pretend). So we should take that into account. --Filll 19:07, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I think the subject is sophisticated in its greatest scope (articles and books by the thousands

over decades), but this is an encyclopedia. I do think the real advantage of Wikipedia is that it can be a role model for encyclopedias with more current information and provide more specifc information than standard encyclopedias.Of course the info is useless if no one can understand it, so it needs to provide the info in a user friendly manner. It doesn't need to read like a science journal. I do like the idea of an abstract like prelude to the article. Then go ahead with Intro, Body, Discussion-Social, Fact vs Theory, etc. It will keep most of the previous work intact (with improvement where needed) and provide accessible info for quick review. I don't like all the time spent on misconceptions. It makes the article seem defensive and preoccupied witht creationism, even though it is only of secondary interest and not pertinent to the science of evolution. However, given the climate of this Wiki it has to be entertained. I find it incredibly annoying, distracting, and unproductive. In a perfect world I would just reference the articles on the social issues,etc. That is one of the major reasons the article is needlessly long is having to address these side issues. Nothing to do about it really. I think there are so many elegant examples and beautiful images that would enhance the article. It is a shame really. A picture is worth a thousand words. GetAgrippa 21:32, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I would agree. The objections and the history should get farmed out to other articles, in the best of all possible worlds. And you could have an abstract of about 5 or 10 sentences, and then a more leisurely and detailed introduction. And then into the body.--Filll 21:55, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Quite frankly, I think we're better tweaking the body before tweaking the lead again. Let's get it friendly and not too technical, *then* simplify the lead. That said, I far prefer C1. Adam Cuerden talk 01:10, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I prefer C2, C1 is my second choice. Dionyseus 02:01, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

My preference is for C1 also. It is more readable, flows well between sentences and paragraphs, and introduces the key concepts without getting too jargony. With the others, I think an average reader's attention would wander away before they finished. C1 was the only one that held my interest all the way through.--Margareta 02:02, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Invitation to compare various Fact and Theory sections

Please go to Talk:FactandTheoryComparison for a comparison of the diffent proposed "fact and theory" sections. What do you think is best for this article and would be most effective. Comments?--Filll 18:39, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

This one seems to have got a bit heated. I broadly welcome Slrubenstein efforts here to make this clear especially to those with creationist inclinations. There seems to be confusion as to whether facts and theories are separate. So if we consider the following three hypotheses:
  1. George Bush is US president
  2. The earth is not flat
  3. All serial killers are male
I think the correct thing to say is that "Fact", "theory" and "law" are different ways of classifying hypotheses:
  • FACT — says something about our degree of certainty in the hypothesis. 1 and 2 are facts. (Your degree of certainty in the belief that Bush is president of the US would be reduced if I told you I just read a report that he had been assassinated.)
  • THEORY — says something about the complexity and explanatory (and predictive) power of the hypothesis. 2 and possibly 3 are theories.
  • LAW — says something about the generality of the hypothesis, the class of observations it applies to. 3 is therefore a law.
These concepts are not mutually exclusive. It is true that theories explain facts, but it also true that theories can explain theories. They don't have to "distinct" or even in a "reciprocal relationship". I don't think fact should be equated with "observable" I think it it more general than that, and I'm a little I'm a little uneasy about a distinction between layman and scientific usage of the word "fact". Slrubenstein's version for me is generally an improvement, but possibly a bit long. What I'm a bit concerned about is the suggestion that evolution means one thing when viewed as a fact and means something different when it is viewed as a theory. I think it's clearer to say they are one and the same thing: it's just that "Theory" emphasises its explanatory power whereas "fact" emphasises our certainty. (Otherwise it could could inadvertently give ammunition to creationists.)
Axel147 17:31, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

My read of the situation is that "fact", "theory" and "law" are all words, or labels, or symbols, all with multiple meanings. This should not be too difficult to understand. I can look in the dictionary at the entry for most words and find multiple meanings of a given word. "Theory" has at least 5 or 6 meanings in the dictionary. "Fact" also has at least 5 or 6 meanings listed in the dictionary. SCIENCE as a whole has certain very clear meanings to the words "fact" and "theory". Evolution is not some separate domain. It is part of science. It is a cousin to quantum mechanics and plate tectonics and thermodynamics and cosmology and relativity. In the rest of science, "facts" and "theories" are quite different, in their technical, scientific meaning. It is only when the other layperson or dictionary meanings are introduced that the boundaries start to become muddied. For example, in law, a fact is something based on evidence: something that is based on or concerned with the evidence presented in a legal case which is closer to what is a scientific definition of a "theory". Of course, the three statements about Bush, geodosy, and the sex of serial killers can all be described as "facts", "theories" and "laws" to various degrees, depending on what definitions one chooses. This is not helpful. I can just say "God created all species" and this statement can be classified as a "fact", a "theory" and a "law" depending on what definitions I choose. So in that case, this section should be removed completely from this article because it is meaningless. With no firm definitions, the statement that "evolution is a theory and a fact" is a completely stupid meaningless statement and is no more accurate than the statement "Darwin is in Hell being roasted on a spit" is a theory and a fact. Once one has decided to open oneself up to all possible or declared meanings of words, and reject or broaden the standard scientific definitions of the terms "fact" and "theory", then one does not have a leg to stand on. And one should immediately cease all efforts to defend this article or this material from creationists, because one is then being intellectually dishonest. --Filll 18:39, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Rearrangement of sections

I've rearranged the article into what seems a far saner presentation order, but haven't changed the text. Just put the more relevant sections first.Adam Cuerden talk 01:36, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Very smart. I like it. It makes a lot of sense to me.--Filll 02:12, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Further suggestions:

  • Put arguments against Creationists in separate article, with very short list here with link.
  • Make abstract of 5 sentences or so, followed by a tight detailed introduction, and then on to the body.
  • remove history of evolutionary thought etc to separate article
  • shorten if possible, simplify introductions to each section.--Filll 02:35, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced abstracts are advisaable, except in the trivial sense that the opening paragraph should contain only the most important facts about evolution. Most of the abstracts I'v e seen for this seem to be lumping everything into a few disjoited sentences, then someone else comes in and adds more jargon, and in the end it's only an abstract in the sense that you have to read the whole article to understand it. Perhaps I'm unduly pessimistic, but I'd rather think of it as an opening paragraph that puts forth the most important concepts with minimum jargon. Adam Cuerden talk 03:02, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Inferior creatures?

Regarding found on the Social and religious controversies section: ""Because animals that are inferior creatures do demonstrably exist, those criticising evolution sometimes incorrectly take this as supporting their claim that evolution is false.[63]""

Am I reading this the wrong way? The way it is now suggest that there are "inferior" creatures just below human species, just the point it is trying to correct. Evolution is the proof that there are no "inferior" or less evolved creatures. 05:04, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Tester

Just because a species is superior over another doesn't mean that the inferior species magically becomes extinct. Also, sometimes due to unexpected environment changes the superior species can become extinct while the inferior species prospers. Dionyseus 05:17, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
201 has a point here that the 'inferior creatures' sentence is badly phrased; it seems to concede the claim in the previous sentence that humans are 'superior'. Those words only really make sense in the context of a particular niche, which is not specified in this particular sentence. Opabinia regalis 05:31, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I have problems with that sentence in several ways. It is a bit questionable to say one species is superior and another is inferior. Also, we all know the argument this is hinting at; "If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? They should have all evolved. Since the monkeys did not all evolve into humans and monkeys still exist, evolution is false." Why screw around with inferior and superior, when this is what creationists really claim. This is another unfortunate example of writing that tries to be general and technical and ends up just in a mess and hard to understand and possibly contradictory or ambiguous or just wrong. Stop trying so hard to put on airs and make yourself seem so learned, and just write plainly and clearly.--Filll 05:48, 16 December 2006 (UTC) I agree that we should avoid terms like inferior and superior in the article. But the real issue is NPOV and NOR. Do ny major evolutionary scientists actually use these terms? I so, we should say so, explain what they mean, and provide the verifiable source. Then, we also hve to represent the other point of view and it should not be hard to find verifible sources tht explain why some/many eolutionry scientists eschew these terms. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:27, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I think the point is that the critics/creationists etc use these terms, and that is pretty easy to document.--Filll 13:55, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, on this I agree, although we should still provide a verifiable source. Do you think the article could/should say more as to why evolutionary scientist do not use these terms? The section in which this comes up makes it clear that there is a disagreement, but I wonder whether the account of the disagreement could not be clearer.Slrubenstein | Talk 14:13, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that the section is not clear, but not because we do not describe why evolutionary biologists do not use the terms "inferior" and "superior". That might be useful, but I would only make it a footnote since it is another parenthetical remark. And the article is rife with parenthetical remarks that break up the flow and make it impossible to read.--Filll 14:55, 16 December 2006 (UTC)


The previous introduction was muddled and misleading. The first sentence exemplifies what was wrong with the whole section: "In biology, evolution refers to the process in which some traits in populations to become more common over time." First, evolution refers both to a fact (that allele frequencies change) and a theory (a model of the processes inolved in such changes). The first sentence conflated the two, but the prior intro only mentioned theory at the end - suggeting that what came before is an account of evolution itself. The version I restored - based largely on work done by many editors over a long period of time, is very clear: it first defines evolution itself, then introduces the theory that accounts for evolution. Second, it is just silly to define evolution as a process by which some traits become more common. Aside from the fact that it is not traits as such but gene frequencies (the quoted sentence is at least sixty years out of date) - yes, some traits become more common - and some traits become less common. Why privilege one? The issue is change, not a particular direction of change. Suggesting a direction screws it all up. What followed was just as muddled - speciation must be mentioned first, as part of the definition of evolution itself, before going into the theory of evolution. Then the parragraphs that followed lumped different parts of the processes in a poorly-written haphzard way. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:54, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I have said the same, that we need to define evolution fact first and then theory. Never liked "processes". Very good first sentence-define fact and then mention theory distinction. I agree that people will think trait as purely anatomical and thus when speciation is mentioned Evolution becomes synonymous with speciation which isn't true. Evolution occurs without speciation, but it often leads to speciation.Since the "hardening" of the Modern Synthesis, genetics is where it is at, so you have to mention genomic change. Slrubenstein is also correct that this structure does not imply direction. I really see everyone is offering excellent suggestions all the way around. The content of the original version was excellent but the sections disjointed-that is now being addressed. The language issue reminds me of the dissertation process (many of you remember this crap also) in trying to appease 4-6 people on a committee in organization, content, and style. Makes may blood pressure go up thinking about it. Rewrite, Rewrite, back to older version, Rewrite, new slant, new organization, you forgot to mention,more experiments, etc.GetAgrippa 14:26, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

It may be clear, but it's also very jargon-filled. I'm going to go through and simplify language, as the concepts are more important than jargon. Adam Cuerden talk 14:41, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Right. Partial restoration (The history of evolution is not one of the top three important concepts to take away from the article, so I refilled with some of the information removed), but I've worked in common descent and the other important concepts from the restored version. I honestly cannot see what you're getting at by linking Theory of evolution to modern syntesis, given Darwin himself proposed common descent, so I lost it. Anyway, do you really think anyone would understand that the first part was fact of evolution and the second part theory without knowing that already? It needs far too much explanation for the lead. Adam Cuerden talk 14:56, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
The present version looks like it was written by a committee, which of course it was. This has to be thought through very carefully. We need to have clear principles in mind. And THEN move ahead. I think that as long as there is no agreement about what the character of an introduction should be, we will have problems. We should decide:
  • How long should the lead be?
  • How much specialized terminology (jargon) should the lead contain?
  • what subjects should the lead deal with?
  • what ordering is appropriate for discussing these subjects in the lead?
Before we decide these things and others, it is basically pointless to write and rewrite. I sense that there is a group here that wants to push the article, including the lead and introductory sections, in the direction of more and more detail, more and more jargon, bigger words, more compound sentences etc. There are other groups that want things simpler, or at least to make the introductory sections simpler. There are people who want a longer article, and those who want a shorter article. If these disputes are not addressed, all that will happen is that you have an endless round of edit wars, and the end result is a big mess. Which is what you have at the present, frankly. It does not satisfy any requirement in particular, so it is uneven, and inaccurate, and too long in parts and too short in others, and too technical in places and not technical enough in others. And also, unreadable and inaccessible. Part of the difficulty lies in what people think an encyclopedia is or should be. Some want it to be like a graduate level textbook, or even more advanced. Some want it to be like a condensed and dense very technical article in a reference book. Some want the encyclopedia articles to be like dictionary entries, or readable by those in high school or even junior high school. With all these competing demands, and no consensus, no wonder we disagree on the text. --Filll 15:07, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

The lead should be three to four paragraphs (WP:LEAD). It should contain the minimal specialised terminology (WP:LEAD). So, two of the questions are answered by Wikipedia policy, leaving us with the concepts to be included. Adam Cuerden talk 15:11, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

And the definition of what is specialized terminology and what is not. And the question as to whether the paragraphs should be 3 sentences long or 30.--Filll 15:18, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Origininal Intro Line:

In biology, evolution causes [heritability|inherited]] traits in a population to become more or less common from generation to generation, including pre-existing inherited traits and new traits produced by mutation. Over time, this process can result in speciation, the development of new species from existing ones, and all contemporary organisms on earth are related by common descent from a single ancestor species after billions of years of these speciation events.[2][3]

Suggestion for revise:

In biology, evolution causes [heritability|inherited]] traits in a population to increase or decrease in frequency through successive generations. This would include changes of frequency in both pre-existing inherited traits as well as new traits introduced by mutations. Over time, the processes of evolution can lead to speciation, the development of a new species from existing ones. The theory of evolution states that all life is a result of such speciation events and thus all organisms are related by common descent from a single ancestor.

Same content just break up some very long sentences. Eliminate (more or less) has negative connotations: can be misinterpreted by the reader to mean “what-ever”. Just a thought --Random Replicator 15:40, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

What about:
Generally speaking, evolution is any process of growth, change or development. The word stems from the Latin evolutio meaning "unfolding" and prior to the late 1800s was confined to referring to goal-directed, pre-programmed processes such as embryological development. A pre-programmed task, as in a military maneuver, using this definition, may be termed an "evolution." While one can also speak of stellar evolution, cultural evolution or the evolution of an idea, the concept in the 20th century, was largely used in the sense of biological evolution, and refers to the change in the bodyplans of species over time and the appearance of new species. The remainder of this article discusses this concept of biological evolution, which had historically also been called transmutation, and the scientific theory that has developed around it.--Filll 15:46, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I guess one assumes that the readers linking to this article are seeking information on Biological Evolution; thus would not benefit from the definition of the term itself in references to other usages. Which raises an interesting point ... the title and thus searches use the term "Evolution". How did biology gain "ownership" of the word in the Wiki world? However, back to your suggestion.It does have the bonus as a gradual lead in as opposed to beating them over the head with science in the first sentence. I have not a shred of ownership on this page and that represents a major rewrite ... good luck with that! --Random Replicator 16:12, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I included that as something of historical interest. That was the original lead of the article over 5 years ago. Interesting, huh?--Filll 16:37, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Heh. Interesting, but seems more appropriate for over at Evolution (term). As for Random Replicatr's reworking - I was trying to avoid the word "frequency", as there's enough difficult words that are unavoidable, so I thought that where they can be avoided, we ought to, in the interest of keeping it as easy to read as possible. The conditional "This would include" seems... very odd - that's a conditional phrasing, but under what conditions wouldn't it? "This can include" or just "This includes" would probably be better. I'm not sure I like the words "The theory of evolution", simply because we just don't have space to make theclaification (it also invites "Just a theory" nonsense), but they're appropriate where they are. How about:

In biology, 'evolution causes some [heritability|inherited]] traits in a population to become more common relative to others through successive generations. This includes both pre-existing traits as well as new traits introduced by mutations. Over time, the processes of evolution can lead to speciation: the development of a new species from existing ones. In its broadest sense, the theory of evolution says that all life is a result of such speciation events and thus all organisms are related by common descent from a single ancestor.

I've italicised the bit that you objected to, as being in need of the most work. Perhaps "some traits in a population to be more common relative to others"? Adam Cuerden talk 17:32, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes I have posted it on the talk page of evolution (term). I think it might be worthwhile linking to the evolution (term) page in the external links section, but we already have way too many links and the article is already too long. I might put a link on the introduction to evolution page.
I thought there is a disambiguation page to sort out biologic evolution. Biologic growth, change, and development are not evolution but gene expression (somatic-evolution is in the germline and progeny). It is more appropriate to say: "In biology, evolution is heritable traits in a population becoming more or less common relative to others in successive generations." (oops,forgot) The "causes" of evolution are:Evolution by natural selection, evolution by genetic drift, and evolution by gene flow (HGT and hybridization). Speciation is a by product of evolution. Evolution presently is concerned with genotypes and phenotypes and phenotypic plasticity of a single genotype and the reproductive success of phenotype-genotype in the environment. GetAgrippa 18:12, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I see RobinJohnson agrees.GetAgrippa 18:16, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

That's descending into a list of jargon again - I don't object to using biological terms, but I think we need to explain them, and explaining that many would be awkward. Giving a list of unfamiliar terms doesn't really teach anything, and if they are familiar, then the reader almost surely understands the concept they're being used to explain anyway.

Also, I'm not sure HRT and gene flow are important enough for the lead, as the first is only in bacteria and viruses, and the second requires some time to note the difference between a species and a population. I suppose the question is: Is gene flow an important enough concept for the first paragraph, given the amount of space needed to explain it? If not, should it be mentioned in later paragraphs of the lead, or is it more appropriate for the main body? Adam Cuerden talk 18:33, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

NPOV demands we treat all critters on equal footing. Natural selection is significant. However there are plenty of examples of genetic drift and gene flow. HGT is significant in bacteria and plants, and hybridization is significant in plants and birds. Given the significant biomass of bacteria in the oceans and soil, one could almost say that HGT is a dominant mechanism in the biological world. The importance of the processess is POV, so it is best to paint a broad picture of possible mechanisms of evolution. Evolution occurs in asexual and sexual reproducing critters. GetAgrippa 19:14, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

However, Natural selection and genetic drift apply to *all* organisms, hence making them more general than HRT and hybridisation. Adam Cuerden talk 20:24, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Abstract and Introduction suggestion

Although I know that this is not standard in the MOS, take a look at the Chemistry article. I would suggest that if we divided it up this way, we might do a lot better. A real jargon free couple of paragraphs, followed by an introduction with much more of the information we are trying to shove into the lead, properly organized, might be just the trick. What do you think?--Filll 19:15, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Excellent example and suggestion Fill. GetAgrippa 19:25, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure: Evolution is too complex of a concept to summaise meaningfully into too small of area, and most of the "jargon-free simple descriptions" I've seen so far contain very little information, and a great deal of waffle. If someone can come up with a simple couple paragraphs, I'd like to see it, but I'm not quite sure how much good putting the table of contents between the opening and the rest will do, besides encourage people to stop reading.
Also, if the introduction was used as an excuse to turn the jargon onto full flow, I'd be completely set against it. Encyclopedic writing demands we gloss all but the simplest terms on first appearance. Adam Cuerden talk 20:19, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Well the problem that we have run into with hypertext is that people think that as long as they provide a link, they do not need to explain technical jargon. This is not true, and it makes things only marginally accessible since it is so much hassle to try to track down the meaning of a text when all the links have the same philosophy. And I do not think this is impossible. Evolution is NOT rocket science or category theory. It is not really that difficult. And I would rather have people stop reading after two general paragraphs than not being able to read a single sentence. When I see a big long ugly lead, I just think, "oh why even bother. It is just all crap...".--Filll 20:33, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
However, I can say this: I hate the writing style of the Chemistry article's opening paragraph, with every sentence beginning "Chemistry is", "Chemistry also is".... haven't they heard of prepositions? Adam Cuerden talk 20:21, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I was just describing the organization. I do not think that Chemistry has particularly good text. Physics is struggling with the same issues: see Talk:Physics/wip/leadvote for example. I would forge a starting section of physics out of proposal 2, followed by a introduction built out of the material on proposal 1 and 3. And since I am a physicist, I can tell you that there is no question that this would be very accurate and reasonable. Surely evolution is not more complicated than the entire field of physics ???--Filll 20:33, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Certainly not. That's why I'm wondering if the abstract/introduction is appropriate: It mayy be a small enough field to be compacted into a reasonable lead if we priorituise well and don't try and fit everything. It just doesn't seem quite complicated enough to need the second level. Adam Cuerden talk 20:59, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I would suggest the intro needs a rewrite as apposed to {{LEAD}} being slapped on it, not shortening, according to WP:LEAD the lead should be proportionate to the over all size of the article, which in this case is quite long. So your point about the jargon is valid, so in this case it needs a rewriting. For this we would need the "native" editors cooperation. frummer 20:24, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Oddly enough I just learned that the original evolution article was the subject of a Discover magazine article with mention of Graft's contribution. It must not have been so bad after all, but who knows what version it was when the article was published. I think Fill's idea for a general intro is a compromise. I don't feel strongly to mention genetic drift or flow in the intro, but it needs to be emphasized later in the artilce. Evolution is not synonymous with natural selection, nor is speciation (so don't create that confusion). GetAgrippa 21:01, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I think it's worth mentioning genetic drift and some of the population biology concepts if only to show there's more than natural selection. Adam Cuerden talk 21:03, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Well then mention both genetic drift and gene flow. Genetic drift is generally neutral (like facial patterns in human) so it (generally) doesn't generate adaptive change. Gene flow in HGT and hybridization definitely generates novelty and adaptive change, however natural selection acts on the changes. Hmmm, maybe HGT and hybridization should not be in Gene flow article or not in this section in this article (classic Gene flow does not generate novelty). Perhaps just mention in Heridity or Variation section. I think that maybe the problem, because most think Gene flow in terms of population changes not HGT or hybridization. That would eliminate my problems. Yep, that would fix it. Adam is right about population genetics which is modern evolution study. No hypotheses will hold water without pop.gen. modelling. GetAgrippa 21:19, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I removed HGT and hybridization from Gene flow. I moved it into Variation section which is more appropriate the more I think about it (although Gene flow article includes these two). Variation can be generated by mutation, HGT, hybridization, and epigenetic modulation. Natural selection acts on those changes. That works!!! Sorry Adam for being so anal about these two mechanisms. Go with Natural selection and genetic drift, then mention Gene flow later.GetAgrippa 21:30, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh, don't worry about it: Gene flow is important, and worth mentioning, but wasn't fitting very well int he first paragraph. I think it works nicely in the "Other mechanisms" paragraph as part of a population biology overview. I'm really tempted to go into the founder effect's role in punctuated equilibrium - indeed, started writing a sentence about that a few times - but suspect it's a little too much for the lead. I've also fixed an error on my part (describing gene flow as only immigration from the same species - by leaving it ambiguous it better opens it up to the full range That said, I like your reorginisation of the later sections - better gives the full sources of variation, and thus gives the full raw material evolution can work on. Adam Cuerden talk 21:34, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
All that founders effect etc I would put in the introduction myself. I am not AGAINST it being at the start, just not in the first 2 paragraphs or so. And i like the idea of a break between the first two paragraphs and the other introductory material that describes evolution in more detail.--Filll 21:51, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

However, now that we've rearranged it, the next section *is* going through the material of the lead in more detail. Hence, I'm not sure another section is appropriate, given we'd then be covering the same material three times in succession. Adam Cuerden talk 22:01, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Somehow while all this discussion was going on, it looks like the lead was at least partially reverted to the problematic language that kicked off this whole discussion, though I can't find who did it, or where it was agreed (or indeed, suggested, at least recently) that it should be done.--Margareta 18:46, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

The Rest of the Article

As you're probably all aware, I rearranged the sections recently. However, though this was probably for the best, it has left a few problems, most notably in the headings not always being the right level, which is relatively trivial to fix, but it has left a few slight awkwardnesses in that a few sections could use a bit better introductory paragraphs. Most notably "Mechanisms of Evolution". I'm also not entirely sure about the order in this part:

  • 1 Sources of evolution
    • 1.1 Variation
      • 1.1.1 Mutation
  • 2 Mechanisms of Evolution
    • 2.1 Selection and adaptation
    • 2.2 Recombination
    • 2.3 Gene flow, genetic drift, and population structure (There's no particular reason why this should be one secion.

The headers "Sources of evolution" and "Mechanisms of Evolution" qare probably awkward. If someone can come up with something better, please, oh, aye, please change them. Adam Cuerden talk 22:01, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

I made it one section because pop structure and founder effect was redundant to each section. We could have three separate section:Genetic drift, gene flow, and then population structure. GetAgrippa 15:10, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

I changed it into three sections. Cooperation still needs a new niche. Moved into mechaninisms. Looks better.GetAgrippa 15:22, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Notes vs. Refs

Someone's buggered them up completely, so that the long, chatty notes are mixed in with the references. I'm going to seperate them out, but need to know: Alphabetical (a, b, c, d), Roman numerals (I II III IV), or Greek letters (α β γ δ)

Cooperation as 3rd Principle

With some trepidation, (cos this is a featured article) I have, in addition to straigtening out the slight glitch in the levels, introduced Cooperation as the 3rd principle of evolution after variation and selection, following Nowak's proposal in his stunning review paper in Science. Nowak is the pre-eminent evoltionary dynamicist, totally mainstream, and what he suggests is so obviously correct (after all organisms only exist because "selfish" genes in fact cooperate - without cooperation we'd still be in an RNA Microworld) that I think it is well worth inserting. Do read his review paper in Science before reverting this! NBeale 00:18, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

I'd be inclined to change it into a less anthromorphosising section title, if possible. Adam Cuerden talk 00:39, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
Nowak has a number of Science papers (which one?-give full reference). Cooperation is talked about (not explicitly) in kin selection. Perhaps some mention should be made of cooperation in contrast with the selfish gene. GetAgrippa 12:36, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Should one make this a major principle if it was only proposed in one paper? What about putting it in a footnote, for example? I have nothing against offbeat ideas, but one does not want to represent the situation.--Filll 14:11, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there's more papers on this subject - indeed, Dawkins briefly references it in Selfish Gene (where he talks about genes meeting their same neighbours in organism after organism. It's also highly similar to important developmental biology concepts, where multiple layers of gene-controlled orginisation tend to interact, affecting both the lower and higher levels. That said, as it stands, it lacks depth. Can we flesh this out into a viable, less trivial statement, that references more papers? Adam Cuerden talk 17:54, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes there is lots more, although and is a rapidly developing field. Nowak is considered the leading player in this, and a Review Paper in Science is a bit more than " paper". I've straightened out the wording a bit - agree it might be good to expand further but don't want to make the section over-long unless there is a consensus to do so. NBeale 07:24, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
Don't need to mention Nowak's name just his work-sounds like advertisement (he is just one of many investigators). The article would be inundated with names otherwise. Content. The recent Science article on the evolution of complex ocean organisms and ecosystems the last 540 million years supports the notion of cooperation-ecological cooperation. Co-evolution of hummingbirds and certain plants also of interest. Oops I see a quotation. It needs to be paraphrased. GetAgrippa 13:50, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I took out the direct quotes (fluff) and added more specific info.GetAgrippa 14:11, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Straightening out Controverises

Also with some trep. I have (minor) added Anglicanism as a faith tradition with no probs with E. and (more substantially) straghtened out a couple of confusions in the controversy section. It's not just that humans are related to primates, all animals (indeed all life) is related. And its not that E. shows that "humans are animals, and related", by that "humans, as animals, are related". Everyone has always known that humans are, biologically, animals just as we are, chemically, bundles of chemicals undergoing complex reactions or physically, objects with mass about 50kg and specific gravity of about 1. The traditional religious claim is that we are "formed out of the dust of the earth" - E. gives a scientific account of how this was done. But any claim that we are "nothing but" animals/chemicals/objects is unwarranted scientifically - there is no science of "nothing but". NBeale 08:24, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Your changes seem fine to me. However, I know next to nothing about the Anglican church so I request you ref it - maybe something from the archbishop of Cantebury? (The Catholic bit is of course easy to prove - Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical in support of evolution in the 90s). Mikker (...) 09:32, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
Do you realise that you have just asked for something from the Primate of All England on Evolution ? This is such an old issue dating back to Darwin (e.g. Canon H.B. Tristram of Durham ) but the most recent statement could be, [2] I think, in which it is reported, Asked specifically whether creationism should be taught in schools, the archbishop responded, "I don't think it should, actually." But he added that opposing creationism in the curriculum was "different from discussing, teaching about what creation means." Ttiotsw 21:58, 17 December 2006 (UTC) ps (80kgs and SG <1.0 i.e. I float)
Hi NBeale. I have a few issues with these statements of yours on this discussion page. The first is "Everyone has always known that humans are, biologically, animals just as we are, chemically, bundles of chemicals undergoing complex reactions or physically, objects with mass about 50kg and specific gravity of about 1". It is untrue that everyone has always known. I won't go into the history of scientific or religious thought but this statement is outrageous in every respect. It also makes no sense ... we are humans so what do you mean by, "humans are, biologically, animals just as we are..."? I appreciate you may be trying to straighten out a controvercy but you are also making one as well. Candy 10:17, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Fact vs. Theory - Compromise?

I tried to come with a more succint version of this section. (Also on Talk:FactandTheoryComparison.) I read the extended debate higher up this page and tried to come with compromise (which is hopefully clearer). — Axel147 15:00, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Compromise version...

Some critics of evolution claim that it is merely a theory. This criticism makes two claims: that evolution is a theory and therefore not a fact, and that theories are less established than facts (and less well supported than other beliefs). In other words, laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion".

In scientific terminology however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) that makes predictions that can be tested through controlled experiments. Evolution is described as a theory on account of its explanatory and predictive power.

In addition, scientists commonly apply to the word "fact" to evolution. Facts are direct observations or hypotheses that are highly substantiated with evidence. According to Stephen Jay Gould a fact must be "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent"[1] Facts should not therefore be regarded in opposition to theories but alternative ways of classifying hypotheses. Evolution has both explanatory and predictive power and has been extensively corroborated by empirical observation: it is correctly described as both theory and fact.

Let me put this succinctly. No. This is getting worse rather than getting better. I was hoping that we would write the fact/theory section in an intelligent, yet readable manner. I like Fill's idea of the table. It makes it clear what is meant by theory and fact. We seem to be getting unclear, obtuse, and no better off for all of the discussion herein. I've read Gould. I've studied Gould. And I just think he writes in a manner that rarely makes sense for the average reader. All IMHO. OrangeMarlin 23:42, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Please could you focus on the specific sentence rather than Gould's writings in general. Do you disagree with Gould's assessment that '[facts must be] confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent' ? — Axel147 00:21, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
And when you write words like that, all I can imagine is that no one can make sense of it!OrangeMarlin 05:11, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I am contemplating a detailed response with copious references to try once more to address the confusion. But I suspect if I do, it will not even be read. So let me also say it "short and sweet". I agree with Orangemarlin. That sentence of Gould's is unclear, without material around it to explain it. And you cannot use it to successfully defend yourself against creationists. And guess what? since that sentence was written more than 25 years ago, it has not been useful in defending evolution science!!! --Filll 13:16, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

No objection from me! Slrubenstein | Talk 15:21, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Some comments: Some critics of evolution claim that it is merely a theory. This criticism makes two claims: that evolution is a theory and therefore not a fact, and that theories are less established than facts (and less well supported than other beliefs). In other words, laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion".
Although I think it is good to mention this conventional interpretation, I am not sure I agree with the wording.
In scientific terminology however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) that makes predictions that can be tested through controlled experiments.
I do not agree completely with this. For example, there are huge fields of observational science where controlled experiments are not possible. I prefer to describe a theory as an explanation or attempted explanation of evidence/data/observations/experimental results etc
Evolution is described as a theory on account of its explanatory and predictive power.
I do not like the wording, "on account of". It also does not make the "evolution as fact and theory" statement clear at all.
In addition, scientists commonly apply to the word "fact" to evolution.
Yes they do, and in two senses of the word "fact": "fact" as datum, and fact in the conventional layperson meaning of the word "fact". However, this statement does not make this distinction clear at all.
Facts are direct observations or hypotheses that are highly substantiated with evidence.
This makes the vague statement that I referred to above. But it is likely to be confusing because it does not clearly state the situation. It just sounds like double talk, unless it is properly explained
According to Stephen Jay Gould a fact must be "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent"[1]
Yes, Gould does say this, and that is why I have a problem with Gould's little article. Gould is using the layperson meaning of the word "fact" which is not helpful since a person venturing into the scientific literature outside of evolution will encounter "fact" in a scientific sense. I believe he is referring to the scientific meaning of the word "theory" described as a layperson meaning of the word "fact", which to laypeople is essentially the same as "truth".
Facts should not therefore be regarded in opposition to theories but alternative ways of classifying hypotheses.
This phrasing comes up over and over in this sort of discussion and I have no idea what it means. I think it is just confusing and possibly foggy thinking.
Evolution has both explanatory and predictive power and has been extensively corroborated by empirical observation: it is correctly described as both theory and fact.
This for the reasons I just outlined above, will just invite the creationists to descend on you and tear you a new one. It is like waving a red flag in front of a bull--Filll 15:36, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
At least in my opinion, this is not a compromise at all, but a restatement of the previous confusing material, while removing a few paragraphs of "philosophy of science" discussion. If the goal is to use this to answer the creationists arguments, it does not do the job. Not even close. Just as Gould's article does not without careful explanation of what he is saying or trying to say. All it does is inflame. However, if your goal is to inflame, then it is not too bad. I think evolutionary biologists might actually like to inflame sometimes (as do I) so this might be your goal and I might be misunderstanding the situation. However, given their current apparent political power, I do not think this is a wise or advisable course of action. However, if you want to pick a fight with these people, be my guest. I would prefer to do my best to defend against them now before they come after the rest of science, any more than they already have.--Filll 15:41, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

It does tend to somewhat convoluted language. For instance, in these two sentences, almost every noun is a scientific term, as opposed to one in common use: In other words, laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion". In scientific terminology however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) that makes predictions that can be tested through controlled experiments. - I'm not saying this is bad as writing, but it's probably a bit above the target audience. Adam Cuerden talk 16:17, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Fill I think ye bold in your criticisms of Gould. You may have a point of view that disagrees with the paragraph, but he got it published through peer-review so it is a reasonable reference and resource. GetAgrippa 21:55, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually publication I have found is as the first place it an essay in one of his books. I am not sure it was ever peer-reviewed. It certainly does not read like the kind of thing that was peer-reviewed. I think this was just meant as a popular essay for the layperson.--Filll 13:16, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I have now done some more checking, and this essay appears to have been published 4 times:
Stephen Jay Gould, " Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, Volume 2, May 1981, p. 34-37, reprinted in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, Stephen Jay Gould, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, editions printed April 1983, November 28, 1984 and April 1994, pp. 253-262 ISBN: 0393017168
So actually this was not peer-reviewed. It is just some fluff for the public, and apparently very easy to misinterpret. By both creationists and evolution scientists.--Filll 17:03, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I might be bold, but he was just a paleontologist. I do NOT claim we should not quote him. I agree with Gould for gosh sakes. We should quote Gould. But I do claim we should explain what he is saying so the average dufus can understand it. What is wrong with translating Gould into simple English? This is not some sacred religious text here. This is one of zillions of articles that Gould dashed off and had published. So what? Does that mean we cannot parse his sentences and explain what he meant? In the context of what other scientists know and their language and arguments? All I want to do is make Gould more clear. Period. If you want to use a naked quote or two of Gould, you will be in deep trouble, beause since those quotes have been used for the last 25 years all it has done is cause creationists to become even more sure that there is some conspiracy against them and scientists and in particular scientists in evolution are STUPID and LIARS. Sorry, but you use Gould without explaining him, you are asking for just more of the same trouble you have had for the last few decades.--Filll 23:12, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Have to decide on goals

In this "fact and theory" section, as in the other sections of this article, I think one has to step back and decide what are the goals:

  • Should this section be simple to understand, or pedantic and asbtuse?
  • Should this section exhibit how learned the authors are, or how willing they are to communicate to the average reader?
  • Should this section repeat the same failed arguments as before
  • Should this section remained unchanged no matter what as a matter of tradition?
  • Should the words of Gould be enshrined like the words of a god, unassailable and unquestionable?
  • Should evolution scientists divorce themselves from the rest of science and the standards and language of the rest of science?
  • Should this section grow longer and longer to include all the text that has been created on this issue over the last several years?
  • Who is this section for?
    • academics in evolutionary biology?
    • other academics?
    • the average reader who wants to learn the various issues in the controversy?
    • to give succinct clear arguments for people to use to defend themselves against creationists?
    • to persuade people who are more or less undecided on the issue?
    • to change the minds of creationists?
    • to stop the arguments over this "fact and theory" issue which are basically a matter of confusion and misunderstandings?

I personally would argue that this section should be short, clear and simple to understand, meant to communicate to the average reader. I think tradition is not helpful on this issue. I think Gould was a smart guy, but let's face it, he was not some sort of genius whose every utterance was worthy of being worshipped from now until the end of time. This section should be useful to those trying to defend themselves against creationist attacks, and to educate those who want to learn about the issues. One will never convince "true believers" and the irrational and deranged and deluded, but one might sway the undecided if one is clear and avoid double talk. Just screaming "EVOLUTION IS A THEORY AND A FACT", with no explanation, over and over is worse than useless. It is handing victory to the creationists. Is this the true goal of this section?--Filll 18:05, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Here is an abstract from a 82' Science article from Gould that I think is a good example:

"The essence of Darwinism lies in the claim that natural selection is a creative force, and in the reductionist assertion that selection upon individual organisms is the locus of evolutionary change. Critiques of adaptationism and gradualism call into doubt the traditional consequences of the argument for creativity, while a concept of hierarchy, with selection acting upon such higher-level "individuals" as demes and species, challenges the reductionist claim. An expanded hierarchical theory would not be Darwinism, has strictly defined, but it would capture, in abstract form, the fundamental feature of Darwin's vision--direction of evolution by selection at each level." That is Gould's style of writing. I don't think it is what Gould is saying as how he says it is the problem for some people. There is some merit that some people may not understand Gould because of his floral style. I am a big Gould fan so I don't want what he says to be lost in translation.GetAgrippa 21:49, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

I would agree. I like Gould. I have read a lot of Gould material. I think he was a brilliant guy. But you are not going to win any arguments with that style and you will not defend yourself and your theory with that sort of argument. You will be cut to ribbons.--Filll 23:06, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
In fact, I would say compare Feynman or Hawking with Gould. What Feynman and Hawking write about is far more controversial and shocking from just about any perspective. And yet, Feynman and Hawking write clearly about infinitely more complicated and controversial material. Stuff that is beyond human senses. And yet they get the point across. No need to put on airs and prance around.--Filll 00:04, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Cooperation in Evolution

I think this section could stand a lot more expanding out - it hints at several major biological concepts, but, ideally, we should be pulling them into the limelight. As my father arrives tomorrow, I can't guarantee I'll be able to do much, but some concepts we might include:

  • Orginisational levels in developmental biology tend to interact with each other to modify the action of the genes in the levels above and below them. While to some extent competition between different orginisational levels, the manipulation of the levels allows many body plans to be created through the interaction of them, which is similar to cooperation
  • Dawkins' The Selfish Gene itself mentions how genes tend to keep meeting the same groups of other genes, and thus can evolve to work with them well. Hence, Dawkins himself allows co-operation as a higher-order orginisation.
  • The formation of complexity, with all its co-opting of other genes (and copies of genes) and such is a clear example of the formation of cooperative systems of genes.
  • Kin Selection is an important top-level version of this.
  • T. H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics Prologomena (fairly easy to find online) points out that ethics are necessary for society, and society provides protection from the struggle for survival, thus ethics can be evolved.

Adam Cuerden talk 18:08, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Starting to understand why evolution is losing out to creationists

Now that I have witnessed directly some of your reasoning and wording in your field and your most famous quotes, it all starts to make sense. Scientists working in evolution are their own worst enemies. Even the popularizers. What a confused mess ! What a lack of clarity of expression and thought and reasoning! What resistance to speak in the language of your detractors so they can understand!

I have met your enemy, evolution scientists. And a good part of the enemy of evolution scientists are the evolution scientists themselves. No wonder creationists are carrying the day in the public's mind and in opinion polls etc. Wise up or continue to lose the battle. --Filll 00:01, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

This is not a soapbox. Let's not criticise evolutionary scientists or Gould's writings in general. We need to focus on improving the article. Do you agree with the definition of "fact" that I quoted from Gould. If you think it requires more explanation then please provide something positive which clarifies it. If you want to define "fact" twice: once for scientific usage and once for layman's usage I'm happy with that. Then we can address whether "evolution is a fact" from both perspectives. Do you think that would make it clearer? — Axel147 00:53, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I have sat through a Ken Ham lecture on Creationism and been cast as the role of anti-christ for teaching evolution in the school. Brother Filll has right to be concerned and by virtue of his contributions to this article has duly earned his right to stand on the soapbox. He has invested an incredible amount of energy and time offering succinct suggestions for improvement; yet the entry itself reads virtually the same. The logical diplomatic approach has met with such resistance; I guess the need to vent was in inevitable.
I assume we are obligated to include a section on defining Theory; since most debates with creationist usually begin with such rhetoric. I did note that other disciplines manage to lay out their theories (gravity for example) without the need to devote the largest section of the entry to defining / defending the term. So be it, halleluiah, amen. From the stand point of a teacher, the table on Theory comparing gravity to evolution serves its purpose very well; in fact, I copied and pasted into my PowerPoint. However, the quote by Gould seems to be under contention. Two questions: Does it increase the readers understanding of the concept? Is it so entrenched in the topic of evolution that most readers would have prior knowledge and thus be seeking clarity? I’m thinking, nope. Perhaps, it may even come across a bit sanctimonious. So here is a concrete suggestion: High-lit … cut. In doing so, you reduce the volume and improve readability. I’m sure Gould would have cared less. --Random Replicator 03:27, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Fill your ranting and POV pushing and losing credibility. Who is putting on airs. The article is not being written to address creationism. But I do have to agree with kudos to physicist to explain and popularize complex ideas like relativity, quantum physics, and string theory. Seems like dirt farmers know a little about the subject. Evolution has not fared so well and I too blame scientist for failing to communicate the idea. There other areas in science that scientist also fail to explain hence increasing the divide between layperson and scientist grows. GetAgrippa 04:07, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I apologize for ranting, but I have had a few fairly negative interactions on this issue, here and other places, and I start to wonder why I am bothering here, since my efforts do not seem particularly welcome. Orangemarlin has followed this with me blow by blow and has noticed the same problem. Of course the article is not written for creationists, and my preference would be to spin off all of these objection and misconception sections to a separate article. However, if one is going to have a section on objections in this article, would it not be best when addressing these objections to be as clear as possible? Of course, if the consensus is that it is preferrable to be abstruse and obtuse, to treat what was written before as sacrosanct, then there is not much an outsider can do. I will only push so hard. --Filll 05:03, 18 December 2006 (UTC) PS I as well have had plenty of creationists curse me, and threaten me, and express their disgust and hatred of me for claiming that science has a value in understanding the world. These people are dangerous, and I am astounded that people on this site have no interest in actually confronting them clearly, and instead are more interested in being opague and evasive and generally providing fodder for the very groups who are attacking science in general and evolution in particular.--Filll 05:03, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Can we forget the creationists and write a science article please. I think this is where I came in a few weeks ago. No apologies, no explanations of creationism. A maximimum of a few lines where there is an issue to another web page and get down to what we cshould eb good at ... science writing. On the other hand, finally those silly creationist trolls have stopped appearing in the article. A well written article will (should) defend itself. ˜˜˜˜

Candy is completely correct, at least in my estimation. That material could be sent to another page with a link. And that material, as it is written, is an example of very confused thinking and poor writing. It is awful.--Filll 13:30, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Everybody in the U.S. can pursue their agenda. Creationist are no threat because the system is dealing with them-defeats in every court case. What I am concerned with is the big trend in censorship-science, literature, etc. Now that doesn't mean that science should entertain creationsim because it is not science-it is pseudoscience, but it concerns me that most everything in science can be gospel except evolution. You can't have it both ways. Some creationist are really activist-as they seem to forget their Christian principals (like the Army of God assassinating abortionist). I would think that Christian parents would encourage their children to "seek and ye shall find" rather than hide the possibilities. There a numerous colleges and universities founded by faith groups seeking enlightenment. Now the big trend to fall into the Dark ages. What's up with that? GetAgrippa 12:33, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
They have lost in court so far. This might not continue. They are politically powerful. They have convinced well over half the public in the US that they are correct. They have access to government at the highest levels. They are proposing things like a removal of the separation of church and state. At a huge rally last year Christian fundamentalists called for the recall of all US judges so they could install "right thinking" judges instead. Congressional leaders spoke at the rally and agreed with the agenda (maybe just to pander to them and get votes, I don't know). Have you ever talked to a creationist in person? Debated them? Listened to their claims that people who believe in evolution should be jailed or executed? These people mean business. I just heard an amazing interview with several religious fundamentalist leaders who were extolling the virtues of the violent Christian fundamentalist video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Creationists and their ilk are powerful and scary. Do not dismiss them so cavalierly, and do not think that you can get away with just making some sloppy poorly worded and reasoned arguments against them on this issue, as you have so far in your articles.--Filll 13:43, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
So once again, can someone please explain to me the difference between the Christian Fascists and the Taliban or Iran Muslim fundamentalists? Creationists are just another evil perpetrated by Christians on our fine country. But of course, I recall the November election. I believe the Republican/Christian Fascist-Communists were hoisted on the petards and tossed out of government. I think moderate folk across the country just had enough. But these fundamentalists will do whatever they can to put the USA back into the dark ages. Agrippa, we cannot ever put down our guard. This article is our little wall against the Christian barbarians throwing us back into a time where people believed in myths because they didn't know the truth. OrangeMarlin 17:24, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Err, if I might join this discussion, specifically concerning Left Behind: Eternal Forces, there is a rather noticeable split in opinion by Christians (fundamentalist or otherwise) as to whether the game is actually really Christian or not because of the violence and whatnot :/. The debate basically centers around acknowladging that converting people in the game is ok, but then producing military units to kill the other guy too, well, not so much....there's also some concern over being able to play the essentially Satanic side. (I was going to buy the game over Christmas, more out of curiosity by now, but then the Wikipedia article revealed to me the sorry state of the game due to bugs and whatnot, Wikipedia's great for that kind of thing...) As to the difference between Christian Fascists and the Taliban and Iran Muslim fundamentalists, the first difference is I don't even know what Christian fascism is, (I know what Christian Communism is though) and I do know what the Taliban and Iran Muslim fundamentalists are. As for the Taliban and Iran Muslim fundamentalists, the Taliban is a Sunni group, whereas Iran is quite Shiite. (Or Shia' if you prefer) Therefore, they would be inclined to oppose each other, generally through massive loads of violence and persecution should they come into conflict. I could go into a long speech about the differences in their beliefs but I don't know if you want to hear that Orange... Homestarmy 18:32, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

My suspicion is that this video game will end up embarassing the more extreme fundamentalist elements and make them look like fools, much as the Haggard episode did and Westboro Baptist Church and other assorted gaffs and assinine activities. I think Orangemarlin was being a bit tongue in cheek about "Christian Fascists" but many potential meanings of such a phrase come to mind. After all, the KKK and other white supremacists and nordicists and NeoNazis and falangists and Nazis and Fascists etc were all, or claim to be Christians of various stripes and to justify their beliefs and activities using the Christian bible etc. But I think Orangemarlin is referring to the general evangelical right wing fundamentalist Christian born again herd that is running rampant right now in the US.--Filll 19:00, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Filll (never know how many l's are in your name. My reading vision isn't what it once was.). I love how these "Christians" spend bandwidth explaining what the difference is between Taliban and Iranian Muslims, which, although I know what the difference is, and it wasn't the point of my rant. My rant had to do with Christian Fascists trying to implement their particular vision of the world on me, who could care less about Christianity or their Creationist ilk. Getting back to Evolution, the Christian Right (Fascists, Communists, Fundamentalists, all the same to me) are trying to force my children from learning about facts--that is Evolution. Lucky for me, I live in a fairly liberal city, the various Christian churches tend to be relatively liberal, and the fascists were run out of town before their Christian Kristallnacht was implemented. Christians kept the world in the Dark Ages for about 500 years. They also killed so many of my people in the name of their mythology that when I see what they are trying to do in the US, I fear for what may happen. Maybe it is "only" evolution. But it takes only one little idea to blossom into hatred, and eventually the killing of people who do not agree with them. You've got to draw the line, and I happen to draw it with keeping Christian mythology out of schools and out of the truth. The Taliban and Iranian Muslim fundamentalists try to force their idea of religion on their people. Once again, I ask, what is the difference between them and Christian fundamentalists. OrangeMarlin 19:42, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes I think Orangemarlin is hitting the nail right on the head. If you look at the incredibly ugly history of Religion and Christianity in particular, it is very eye-opening. And I see the same things going on at the moment; Hate Thy Neighbor etc. I have to say I see very minimal difference between the Christian Fundamentalists and the Muslim Fundamentalists. When I was in Spain and saw the evidence of the Inquisition that is still there everywhere, huge graveyards full of Muslims and Jews who were tortured and slaughtered, it was pretty amazing. Just remember the slaughter of the Crusades, including the Children's Crusade which was not much different than the Iranians throwing masses of children against the Iraqi lines in their war. Look at the selling of indulgences and church offices, and all the corruption. Look at the religious wars between various groups. Look at the slaughtering of the Cathars and Gnostics and the natives in the New World etc. Look at the burning of the Library at Alexandria. Look at the jailing of Galileo and many far worse offenses. I could make a very very very long list of this nonsense. And the extreme elements of Christianity are proud to hate everyone they brand as different; Jews, muslims, Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Homosexuals, Blacks, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. It is just basically good old fashioned hate mongering. As old as the hills. Why is anyone surprised?--Filll 20:00, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Marlin, when you say "these Christians spend bandwith....", am I to assume that refers to me, because from what I can tell, i'm the only one of "those Christians" who's even posted anything in this section so far :/. (Also, i'm posting from school, it's not my bandwith :D) I also had little way of knowing whether you really wanted an answer to your question or not, which I suppose from your response means you didn't really want a reply the first time. But, since you ask again a slightly different question, I will spend some more of my school's bandwith in reply. The main difference between Islamic fundamentalists of either Shia or Sunni denominations and Christian fundamentalists, assuming we're talking about the majority of Fundamentalists and not the 12 or so people in the family at Westboro Baptist church, is that Muslim Fundamentalism generally spreads through mass immigration into a country, (France is an excellent example of this) followed by massive, violent behavior and rioting until the implementation of Sharia law. (Or, in some cases, especially earlier ones, they'll just do an old fashion invasion, with the Somalia Civil War being an excellent example of this.) To my knowladge, no Christian group anywhere in history ever tried the first kind of usurption, and of the ones who tried the second, (Primarily of the crusades) you might find that sort of thing stopped, well, a really long time ago, and was primarily Catholic in nature, whereas Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. is generally Protestant in nature. One could argue the IRA represents the Protestant kind of "persecution" least, you could of a few years ago, before the IRA disarmed itself pretty much a year ago or so I think. So therefore, in the end, Islamic Fundamentalism is definently far more violence and mass territory acquisition oriented currently, whereas Fundamentalist Christians like myself aren't out to "conquer" territory in a classically military sense, its far more a peaceful influence kind of deal. The Somalia thing in particular is an excellent example of this contrast, recently, a decree was issued in one city that anyone caught not praying five times a day will be punished "according to Islamic law", basically meaning beheaded, even though most of the citizens of the very recently conquered land are not overwhelmingly fundamentalist Muslims. Does that sound like anything you know of mainstream Fundamnetalist Christians doing today in modern times? Homestarmy 20:31, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Once again, I ask, "what's the freaking difference?" My people were executed so many times in the name of Christian mythology, there can never be amends. You are all the same. Well, I'm at fault here for allowing the discussion to wander way far away from Evolution. My point was, and continues to be, we need to make this article understandable and readable so that maybe one or two people (hopefully many more), wander their way to this article, think about what is written herein, and choose to reject the creationist myth (under whatever guise, may it be the Orchard Theory or Intelligent Design). Whether it be abortion, evolution, or prayer in school, the truth must be written, and it must be understandable. Those who seek to destroy your liberties will try to enter through whatever their means, including controlling what is taught to our kids. My children are given the choice to learn and understand all that they want. I would hope that they would grow up to be good Jews, but if they read the Book of Mormon, and decide to wear temple garments, it's their choice (however reprehensible it is to me). Luckily, my children learn about everything, have critical minds, and will go to fine universities, probably doing original research, and contributing to the overall knowledge of mankind. Yes, I am but one person, but everyone who has fought to make this article one of the best I've ever read on here should all be commended. Sorry about the rant.OrangeMarlin 22:07, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Homestarmy, I do not think we are claiming that you or the people you know are bad people. However, you have to develop a broader perspective. Orangemarlin is completely accurate when describing many fundamentalist elements. This page is not the right place to discuss this, but even if we ignore the past 2000 years of pretty nasty Christian behavior (not to excuse the nasty Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist behavior mind, you, but it does not fix things to just point the finger at the other guy), the present US Christian fundamentalists are a pretty scary hate-mongering bunch. I have heard some of the most amazing things from some of them in person and in speeches. Not much different at all from what we saw in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and not much different than what I hear in the speeches of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that the vast majority of people that are so frantic to declare themselves loudly as "Christians" are not really behaving like Christians at all. They are focused on the Book of Revelations, or fire and brimstone, or attacking homosexuals or evangelizing or the death penalty or using nuclear weapons on enemies of the US or abortion rights or democrats or liberals or the liberal media or blacks or Jews or Muslims or Catholics etc. Mostly an agenda of hatred and anger and death. Not very Christian really.--Filll 22:29, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, yes of course. But anybody who fanatically supports their belief system are scary. There have been some pretty vicious anti-religious progroms in history, carried out by people who claim to be athiests. And while I do think the US and to a lesser extent Australia have much to be concerned about in the rise of Christian fundalmentalism, this is not the place to fight it. This is an encyclopedia, and the priority is to make sure the article reflects the best scientific knowedge as we know it. This article is attacked constantly by fundalmentalists, and every attack has been defeated. That is, if you like, a victory. But beyond maintaining the integeraty of this and related articles, your (and my) battle is really out there in the political system and in society. --Michael Johnson 01:22, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
Since the discussion seems to of been ended, I just thought i'd point out Orange, i'm not Mormon nor do I believe in the Book of Mormon, and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints isn't really mainstream Christian fundamentalism....(Or really Christian fundamentalism at all, its just fundamentalist from a Mormon standpoint, and even then, polygamy is contradicted with the BoM anyway from what i've seen.) Also, just so I don't draw this out, Filll, i'd just like to tell you I think you're highly underestimating Islamic Fundamentalism if you think its only about as bad to you as Christian Fundamentalism is in the U.S., and if you'd like, I think we could discuss it some time somewhere else. Homestarmy 13:11, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
Homestarmy, your reading skills are somewhat suspect. Not sure why you think I think you're a Mormon. In fact, as Evolution goes, I believe that the LDS Church is on the side of evolution, but neither being a Mormon nor playing one on TV, I don't really care. OrangeMarlin 19:32, 19 December 2006 (UTC) you really got us! I guess you are quite the debater. But this is not the place...--Filll 14:10, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

In my experience, some administrators become very....displeased when they find long conversations which have very little to do with the article on article talk pages. Especially because Orange already "apologized" for the rant which I assume means he's mostly done, and Michael points out that, well, technically this really isn't the place for this discussion. Homestarmy 15:15, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I really don't appreciate all of the POV's. This is an inappropriate place or subject. This whole page reads like a forum of POV. All this discussion just inflames the issues rather than improve content. The obvious contempt many of you hold for some faiths is disturbing.GetAgrippa 15:28, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
My contempt is real but I'm guessing it's much more than contempt. The only reason we have these discussion are to make sure of two things. Knowledge is passed along via the encyclopedia. And second, those whose POV is based on mythology don't write their garbage in here. It appears we're successful. Not to argue what constitutes a POV, but my personal POV is that Evolution is a fact. OrangeMarlin 19:32, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Fact vs. Theory

Compromise version 2...

Some critics of evolution claim that it is merely a theory. This criticism makes two claims: that evolution is a theory and therefore not a fact, and that theories are less established than facts (and less well supported than other beliefs). In other words, laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion".

In scientific terminology however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) that makes predictions that can be tested through controlled experiments. Evolution is a theory as it explains and interprets observations, and is used to make successful predictions.

A second linguistic confusion has arisen around the word "fact". Fact is often used by scientists to refer to empirical data, objective verifiable observations. But fact is also used in a wider sense to include any hypothesis for which there is overwhelming evidence. In this usage "the sun is at the center of the solar system" and "the theory of gravity" are considered to be facts.

Evolution, the observation that populations of one species of organism do, over time, change and form new species, has been extensively supported by empirical evidence: it is correctly described as both theory and fact.

The fact of evolutionary change is itself explained using theories that provide deeper understanding: the causes of evolution are the mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift etc. "The theory of evolution" is generally used to refer to the idea of evolutionary change ("descent with modification") together with the mechanisms that cause it.

Any better? Axel147 03:32, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Couldn't the first paragraph just state:

Laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion".

Then continue:

...however, in science, theory is used to describe a convincing model that accommodates all data from controlled experiments and observations of the natural world.

Is it really necessary to deal with the fact that these models can be used to make predictions? If so, shouldn't it mention they are successful predictions? David D. (Talk) 05:57, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Added 'successful'. Thanks — Axel147 16:33, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I do not think we can add "convincing" - everyone wants their theories to be convincing, it is a weasel word. Also, I think it is false to say "all" data. By the way, My original wording (whcih others played around with) came from Stephen hawking's A Brief History of Time." Axel, if you have the book, check it out, it is in the first chapter I imagine. You can't question the guy's credentials as a scientist and his wording was pretty straightforward and unjargony, relative to its accuracy. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:23, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll check it out. I've added another sentence. Not sure if this adds clarity or confuses! — Axel147 17:57, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

If this is true, then I am stunned. I have to verify this. THAT WORDING THAT SLRUBENSTEIN USED CAME FROM HAWKING? On evolution? I will point out that that book was not peer-reviewed, just as Gould's short text was not peer-reviewed. But if the wording in SlRubenstein's contributed text was lifted or plagiarized from Hawking, I have to just shake my head in amazement. I looked at one of his lectures on this subject at [3]. I did not study it in detail, but frankly it bears almost zero resemblance to what I have seen from SlRubenstein. I will have to investigate this claim.--Filll 17:47, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I have now perused "A brief history of time" by Stephen Hawking. I paid particularly attention to chapter 1. There is some discussion about theories and observations which agrees completely with my view. I would be shocked if it did not, since we both come from the same branch of science. However, I was willing to check. I do not see any wording that appears to be similar to what Slrubenstein has written. I might of course be mistaken so I would be willing to stand corrected. I also found no discussion of evolution and its position as a fact, or a theory, or both in this part of Hawking's writings. Sorry.--Filll 00:25, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I didn't realize that the Gould quote was not from an article? Was it a book, or is it just one of his famous quotes? GetAgrippa 18:01, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Here is what I have found so far: Stephen Jay Gould, " Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, Volume 2, Number 5, May 1981, p. 34-37, reprinted in Speak Out Against The New Right, Herbert F. Vetter (Editor), Beacon Press, 1982, ISBN: 0807004863, Beacon Press, January 1982, ISBN: 0807004871 and by Fenestra Books, October 31, 2004 ISBN: 1587363577 and also in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, Stephen Jay Gould, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, editions printed April 1983, November 28, 1984 and April 1994, pp. 253-262 ISBN: 0393017168 I might be able to find more. I am still wondering if it might have appeared first in his column for Natural History, which also is not peer reviewed of course.--Filll 18:21, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Fill you seem to have an accusatory tone or question Slrubenstein. My experience with Slrubenstein is he is fair and an excellent editor. That is not very Wikipolite. GetAgrippa 19:55, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Well I do not believe Slrubenstein was particularly wikipolite to me, so he/she set the tone. I am doing my best to remain professional in this matter. However. I see I am definitely losing out on this issue and if I am not able to persuade people to clarify this section, I will have to let it just continue as a confused disorganized mess. At least I will have tried. But if I am confronted with someone determined to maintain a confusing piece of text, I will respectfully withdraw and let them "win". I will not fight it out if reason is not sufficient.--Filll 22:14, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Interesting that Fill thinks two wrongs make a right. I certainly did not think I has been impolite to him and apologize if I hurt his feelings. be that as it may, (1) I have never plagiarized and (2) I said the wording was based on Hawkings definition - and yes, he does provide a very simple straightforward definition in his book (and it does not matter whether it was peer-reviewed or not) - it was not a direct quote. I provided a paraphrase and over the past years other editors made changes to it so no one should be surprised that it bears no resemblence to Hawking's wording. By "based" I mean that that is where I started (by "started" i do not mean that is how things ended up). Indeed, i would have no problem with our directly quoting him, he is so elegant, precise, and accurate. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:46, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I do not think that two wrongs make a right. I am doing my best to maintain a civil tone with Slrubenstein. And if nothing untoward is recognized in the behavior in question, then so be it. I do not think that I have been rude in the least and I apologize if I have offended anyone. If Slrubenstein claims to have copied directly from someone, that is called plagiarism in my book, particularly with no reference or citation. I do not care if Slrubenstein did it, and I apologize if it hurts slrubenstein's feelings or anyone else's to call a spade a spade. Nevertheless, I was unable to find any evidence that slrubensein's text has any resemblance whatsoever to Hawking's few sentences on theory and observation in science. I therefore put no stock in this attempt to hide behind the presumed authority of this putative source. It confers no special status on the wording under discussion. I would be glad to copy out Hawking's description and compare it word to word with slrubenstein's, but I do not think anyone wants to go down this path; this claim is just an attempt at obfuscation of the issues, which remain that slrubenstein's suggested text is not particularly suitable for a number of reasons as I have described repeatedly.--Filll 14:08, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

What on earth are you babbling on about? Can't you read? Just read the above paragraph. Nothing I have written justifies your even suspecting me of plagiarism. i do not even know why you introduced the word into this discussion, unless it is because you just want to stir up trouble. Nor do I understand why you think I am trying to hide behind some authority. Nor do I understand why you would want to compare the earlier version of the article to Hawking's text. Nothing you write makes sense. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:53, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I respectfully decline to respond to this posting in kind, in the interests of comity. I am glad to take back the word "plagiarism" if that offends anyone, although in some quarters claiming to have copied something without citation does merit that label. I am not a stickler for such things and if that is what happened, I do not think it is particularly serious. However, in this case I am able to see NO EVIDENCE FOR PLAGIARISM. None. The main focus here should be on the text, which remains unclear and not particularly useful for its purported intended purpose.--Filll 14:59, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

You decline to respond? You just did. And again you suggest that someone has claimed that I copied from Hawking, which is false as no one ever made such a claim. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:03, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
And what part of the phrase IN KIND do you not understand?--Filll 15:48, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps I have some mental deficit or have suffered from some sort of mental lacuna. Let me extract the statement that triggered this: My original wording...came from Stephen hawking's A Brief History of Time.". Now perhaps I am not understanding this statement. Perhaps I am confused. Maybe I am stupid. Perhaps there was at one time a reference to this Hawking book or a citation in slrubenstein's contribution and it was removed by some malicious or careless element. Perhaps...perhaps...But why are we discussing it when there appears to be no evidence for COPYING THE WORDING of any kind? If you did copy the wording, then pretend I am from Missouri. SHOW ME WHERE YOU COPIED THE WORDING.--Filll 15:55, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I never used the word "copied," and I did not use it because I did not do it. i also pointed out in the same sentence that others played around with my wording to make it clear that the wording (in various forms over the past year or two) was not identical to the wording I first introduced, and was the product of other people's contributions.Slrubenstein | Talk 16:05, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
It is correct that Slrubenstein never said he or she copied from Hawking. Only that his wording came FROM Hawking. Now I might be stupid for misundestanding. I am glad to admit that possibility. (I would be interested to see what would happen during a legal deposition in 10 or 15 hours of questioning under oath based on such a statement and attempt at hair-splitting. I am sure it would be very entertaining.) Now maybe the other people who altered slrubenstein's wording over the last few years made it so it no longer bore any resemblance to the Hawking text which slrubenstein states that he or she took the wording from. I am not interested in doing some sort of forensic investigation and digging through the past several years of the text and its alterations. Maybe those people removed the citation to the Hawking text. Again, I do not want to dig through the text. Perhaps someone could find the link to the citation that was removed, or the text with wording that was taken from Hawking. I am only curious since I do not believe Hawking wrote and published anything so unclear. But I am willing to admit that I am might be mistaken. I just would be surprised, that is all.--Filll 16:17, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I also point out that peer-review is actually a fairly important component of the scholarly enterprise, contrary to what is implied above. However, this is fairly obvious to everyone and I think that what is going on here is quite transparent.--Filll 15:03, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
non-sequitor. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:05, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
fortasse--Filll 16:24, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

These sorts of attacks approaching "ad hominem" attacks that are all well and good, but I would prefer it if all concerned would direct their attention to the current version and my comments on it below. Do I misunderstand? Do you disagree with me? What comments do you have on the current version? Is it fine the way it stands? Does it need improvement? Is it clear? Is it not clear? What is the purpose of this section anyway?--Filll 16:34, 19 December 2006 (UTC)


My father arrives in an hour for a long visit. Can someone do something about the awful Universal common descent and Common descent articles? They've been split, but not well. Adam Cuerden talk 11:05, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Have a good visit with your Dad, and Merry Christmas! I had to bring home my aged mother and aunt for various health issues-broken arm, heart failure,etc. My father passed away ten years ago. I miss him. He was a Ph.D. then M.D.-family practice twenty years back to Med school to become a cardiologist for another fifteen years. His father was a Rhodes scholar and neurosurgeon then psychiatrist. I only wish I had half the brains and success as they, but they planted that seed to always grow. I was a professional student till I married and my wife said no more degrees. Anyways I digress, Enjoy your Dad and the holidays!!GetAgrippa 12:48, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

A preliminary inspection of the present fact and theory section

Some critics of evolution claim that it is merely a theory. This criticism makes two claims: that evolution is a theory and therefore not a fact, and that theories are less established than facts (and less well supported than other beliefs). In other words, laypeople often use the word "theory" to signify "conjecture", "speculation", or "opinion". In science however, a theory is a model of the world (or some portion of it) that makes predictions that can be tested through controlled experiments. Evolution is a theory as it explains and interprets observations, and is used to make successful predictions.

This paragraph is overly long and confusing. Some particular comments:
  • controlled experiments are not possible or necessary or part of many sciences, such as the observational sciences (astronomy for example). Can you do a controlled experiment with an earthquake? With a supernova? Nope? Well there are still scientific theories about them, nevertheless.
  • Some critics is as bit vague. I would just call a spade a spade; creationists. With references too.
  • It is using some hand waving about beliefs. Are facts beliefs? Are theories? The word belief is a bit of a loaded word when dealing with religion etc.
  • Not sure I like the word signify.

A second linguistic confusion has arisen around the word "fact". Fact is often used by scientists to refer to empirical data, objective verifiable observations. But fact is also used in a wider sense to include any hypothesis for which there is overwhelming evidence. In this usage "the sun is at the center of the solar system" and "objects fall due to gravity" are considered to be facts.

  • Again continuing to try to be overly wordy and erudite. You can be as abstruse as you like in the technical sections, as long as you are correct. But in these sections, you slit your own throat with being wordy.
  • Empirical data is experimental data. Again you have left out huge areas of science that rely on observations like oceanography and most of meteorology and astronomy etc.
  • As I discussed extensively on the controversy page, those two examples are not very useful in this context. For one thing, the sun is not at the center of the solar system. And the statement that objects fall due to gravity is essentially a meaningless content free statement. It is more akin to a definition. We call gravity that force that appears to pull objects towards the center of the earth.
  • Theory and hypotheses are confused in this paragraph as well

Evolution, the observation that populations of one species of organism do, over time, change and form new species, has been extensively supported by empirical evidence and has explanatory and predictive power: it is therefore correctly described as both fact and theory.

  • After wasting a huge amount of space in previous paragraphs explaining very little, then the statement that "evolution is a theory and a fact" statement which is completely confusing and contradictory and irritating to most creationists is shoved in under the door. This is a long ugly compound sentence. And I am not sure that speciation has been directly observed, although I might be wrong. It certainly should have a reference if it has been directly observed.

The fact of evolution is itself explained using theories that provide deeper understanding: the causes of evolution are the mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift etc. "The theory of evolution" is generally used to refer to the idea of evolutionary change ("descent with modification") together with the mechanisms that cause it.

  • Now even though the reader has very little idea about what the distinction between fact and theory is, he gets a sentence that uses them both in a confusing way, after having been told that they are the same thing sort of in the case of evolution in the preceding paragraph. Not good. Confusing at best.
  • Now the phrase "the idea of" is shoved in to make things even worse and confusing and inaccurate. I do not believe that evolutionary change refers only to "descent with modification", but I might be wrong. Given the incredible amount of complication that has entered into evolution, I am not sure this is true. However, there is no need to restate this. That is what the rest of the paper is for. No reason to belabor constantly what evolution is and redefine and reredefine it again and again.
  • This paragraph is wrong and confused and will just confuse the reader more. And will not convince anyone who is not already convinced.

So given this, I have to say I do not think this contribution really helps the situation. But I am starting to understand what the problem is, having discussed it on the Controversy article talk page here and on this page.--Filll 01:09, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Though I welcome the critique, you lose credibility by failing to show anything positive especially having one said "some of the arguments resonate". If an editor is sincerely intending to improve an article you must do better than this. By resorting to hysterical rants and personal abuse we no where. I suggest you cool down for a bit before contributing to Wikipedia any more until you are able to contribute in a balanced and supportive way. — Axel147 16:55, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I would respectfully disagree. I told you explicitly previously what part of your suggestion I found appealing. Perhaps you missed it? I would be glad to find it for you again if you cannot find it. I would dispute your characterizations. I am calm. If it is determined through consensus that your version is the most appropriate and clear, then I will gladly accede. I am giving my feedback, which I believe I am allowed to do. You and others are free to ignore it of course, if you think it is in error or I have misunderstood. I would suggest that the most constructive thing would be to pay attention to my comments and those of orangemarlin and others.--Filll 17:09, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Slrubenstein, I like your revision. I think the general usage is clear now. There is a decision in writing where you sometimes have to simplify a bit for clarity and I've now decided that is the best thing here. Gould's idea of presenting facts as near certainties and theories as something which explains facts is fine when there is just one level of explanation. The argument runs very simply: these are the facts are here is the explanation. We can just about get away with it for evolution. From the standpoint of the scientific method in general this is not so good. General cases have cascading levels of explanation. Consider this example....

If my friend is dead I can investigate why, and speculate that he has been murdered. Various tests may then confirm this to such an extent that the conjecture (or theory) "my friend was murdered" is considered fact. I could then claim "it was his wife". Further Evidence may be may collected to support this position until such point as it is widely regarded as fact. I can go on and look for motive. Maybe we can establish the cause beyond reasonable doubt a cause of mental illness. Next I can seek a Darwinian explanation for the mental illness etc. etc.

The point I am making is that the suggestion a theory cannot also be a fact is misleading. I'm also saying that evolution is a theory in two senses: the whole thing including the mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift etc. is a theory. But the hypothesis "we have all evolved from a common ancestor" (or something similar) stripped of any causal mechanism is also a theory in its own right. To quote Sober 'Darwin's ambiton was to establish two hypotheses: that evolution has occurred and that natural selection has been one of its preeminent causes. By "evolution" he subsumed both the modifications that occur within a species and the large-scale changes that are involved in the production of new species.' I accept this distinction is probably too much for most readers of this section. — Axel147 16:31, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I think that Axel147 is quite correct when he asserts that trying to understand the statement "evolution is a theory" in two or more different ways is overly complicated for the purposes of the section here. It might be quite appropriate for a more scholarly discussion of this entire area, however. I think that what the difficulties are pointing out here is the need for more careful scholarship to address the issues that have been copiously revealed. And that is the benefit of these discussions, however rancorous; there is clearly some underlying problems that are being exposed. --Filll 16:45, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I think we need to distinguish certain facts:evolution, natural selection, genetic drift (and gene flow), speciation, and microevolution are fact and can be demonstrated. Then the theory that these facts and mechaninisms are responsible for all the diversity that exists and has existed on this planet-macroevolution. There are huge amounts of information supporting the link, but that is the weakest link in the chain. The fact of random global extinctions and then boom of diversity has molded life to a great degree so add a little chaos to the formula. This was true of the Darwin's finch thirty year study-evolution was unpredictable. GetAgrippa 20:21, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

As an ignorant outsider, do we have good studies, references, citations, observations, evidence, etc for speciation? If we do have a couple of references, that would be very useful to me. --Filll 20:36, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Fill there are a number of examples of speciation in plants, insects, fish, and birds. Mammals also I think. I'll read up on that. Molecular evidence linking a genomic change with speciation. There is also ample evidence of molecular evolution without speciation. GetAgrippa 00:53, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I am sure we have observations that support speciation. I am sure we have thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of those. However, what I am curious about is how direct our observation of speciation is. For example, have we ever had a case where we had a species of fruit fly or something else in the laboratory that after enough generations, resulted in two or more species that could not interbreed? Have we ever had bacteria in the laboratory that we watched over many generations that resulted in two or more divergent species? I know the nylon eating bacteria might be viewed as a new species observed in the field. This is almost a direct observation of course, and might suit my purposes. I presume that the nylon eating bacteria would be judged a separate species from regular bacteria, although they are not a species that has sex so it might not be the example I want to use. The reason that I am asking is that one of the objections raised constantly by creationists is that "yes, we creationists will concede that evolution happens but only results in small changes, never in speciation." I would love to have a reasonably good example to shoot them down with.--Filll 01:07, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
The stickleback fish has become a supermodel of evolution studies. Here is a good review by Elizabeth Pennisi:Science 18 June 2004:Vol. 304. no. 5678, p. 1736 Changing a Fish's Bony Armor in the Wink of a Gene. More recent articles determine that shifts in ectodysplasin alleles correlate with speciation within decades time frame. There is also a good Science paper on genomic change and speciation in Siberian warblers as I recollect, and a large number of plant examples. The review article has some dramatic images demonstrating the changes in spines and lateral plates with speciation in marine and freshwater fish populations. I always thought the images of lateral plate loss was dramatic evidence of evolution.

Here is a recent plant paper from Science:Science 29 August 2003: Vol. 301. no. 5637, pp. 1211 - 1216 Major Ecological Transitions in Wild Sunflowers Facilitated by Hybridization Loren H. Rieseberg,1* Olivier Raymond,2 David M. Rosenthal,3 Zhao Lai,1 Kevin Livingstone,1 Takuya Nakazato,1 Jennifer L. Durphy,1 Andrea E. Schwarzbach,4 Lisa A. Donovan,3 Christian Lexer1. Here is a Science bird paper that is interesting:Science 21 January 2005:Vol. 307. no. 5708, pp. 414 - 416 Speciation by Distance in a Ring Species Darren E. Irwin,1* Staffan Bensch,2 Jessica H. Irwin,1 Trevor D. Price3. There are others but I get Science and it is easy to search for general papers on evolution. Here is another Science review paper by Pennisi. She must have more Science papers than anyone. Science 10 March 2006:Vol. 311. no. 5766, pp. 1372 - 137.Speciation Standing in Place.Elizabeth Pennisi. Here is heritable phenotypic plasticity and evolution in birds Science 14 October 2005:Vol. 310. no. 5746, pp. 304 - 306. Selection on Heritable Phenotypic Plasticity in a Wild Bird Population Daniel H. Nussey,1,2* Erik Postma,1 Phillip Gienapp,1 Marcel E. Visser1 GetAgrippa 02:49, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

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  1. ^ a b c d e Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory" 1994
  2. ^ Evolution is a Fact and a Theory
  3. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (1998). Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Intervarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1929-0. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (1998). Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Intervarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1929-0. 
  5. ^ Einstein, Albert (November 9 1930). "Religion and Science". New York Times Magazine: 1–4.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Dawkins, Richard (January/February 1997). "Is Science a Religion?". Humanist.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (1998). Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Intervarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1929-0. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (1998). Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Intervarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1929-0. 
  9. ^ Einstein, Albert (November 9 1930). "Religion and Science". New York Times Magazine: 1–4.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Dawkins, Richard (January/February 1997). "Is Science a Religion?". Humanist.  Check date values in: |date= (help)