Talk:Uniformitarianism

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Untitled[edit]

I have a slight issue with this. There is Uniformitarianism and there is uniformitarianism. The first is the religious belief that everything is now as it always has been and always will be. The second is the scientific principle that one assumes that things occurred in the past as they do today in the absence of evidence to the contrary; it applies to other sciences as well as geology such as astronomy and paleontology Dunc_Harris| 11:07, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

  • For the nth time, uniformatarianism as a scientific principle is not an assumption. There is extensive and solid empirical evidence in support of the scientific principle of uniformatarianism gleaned through the techniques of astronomical spectroscopy. When we observe the light from distant stars and galaxies we are literally looking back in time. We observe that distant stars and galaxies produced the light that they did via the exact same physics of stellar hydrogen burning (fusion) as happens locally in our own sun currently. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 03:39, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Added a new section for "supporting evidence" which explains why this is a scientific principle and not merely an assumption. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 04:12, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

all mainstream scientists support uniformitarianism.[edit]

That's quite an assertion. I think it's something deserving of proof and reference, and until then should not be phrased as an undisputed fact. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.173.248.254 (talk) 22:49, 20 December 2004

um..... the whole of geology is based on it. 82.3.50.59 17:59, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Last sentence: Today, however, all mainstream scientists support uniformitarianism.

I think this statement was valid twenty years ago. I remember vaguely having read various articles in science magazines in the recent years reconsidering various catastrophes having occurred during the history of the earth. A quick google search revelead for example [1] (impact events, some literature references) and [2] (a conference). Somebody who is in the field might comment on this. -- Di Stroppo (talk) The preceding comment was added 13:10, 31 December 2001

Useage by renown scientists[edit]

The article should mention the use by Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell for their theories. Alan Liefting 22:36, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

I made a small addition indicating that mainstream religious denominations have no problem with uniformitarianism. (One of the pioneers in the development of uniformitarianism was Nicolas Steno who was beatified by Pope John Paul II.)

I also made a few word changes to enhance accuracy, e.g. "The geologist James Hutton was a pioneer of the theory" was changed to "The geologist James Hutton was a pioneer of the principle" as I think most scientists place Uniformitarianism at the principal or "law" level rather than theory. Jay Gregg 22:15, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Propositions of uniformitarianism[edit]

The four propositions of uniformitarianism are given in the article as "1) Uniformity of law; 2) Uniformity of kind; 3) Uniformity of degree; 4) Uniformity of result". Could someone who knows them elaborate on their meaning and rationale for acceptance/rejection of each? -- Coffee2theorems | Talk 11:25, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Rates of Change[edit]

The disambiguation page for uniformitarianism mentions that the processes which govern the formation of mountains occurred at the same rates in the past as today. The article on scientific uniformitarianism does not mention rates of processes but only that the processes are the same. Can somebody knowledgeable in this area add more information to the article in discussion of rates? -- Anonymous 00:01, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

"Criticism of Geologic Uniformitarianism"[edit]

The section with this heading is total nonsense. No scientist of any repute would give any credence to “young earth creationist” criticisms of the principal of uniformitarianism. I therefore am removing it. Also, I believe that this page should be combined with the other Uniformitarianism article. There is no need for to articles covering what is essentially the same subject. (Jay Gregg 02:52, 27 November 2007 (UTC))

Recent research[edit]

The recent research [3] simply clarifies our current understanding of sedimentologic processes and says nothing about uniformitarianism. To say that it challenges uniformitarianism or ...obviously DOES have to do w/uniformitarianism is WP:Original research. Vsmith (talk) 14:43, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I am beginning to doubt whether you have read the cited research. I does indeed have to do with uniformitarianism, and is therefore not WP:Original research. To claim otherwise is violation of WP:NPOV. Goo2you (talk) 21:54, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I've read the original Science paper and I agree with Vsmith. The work is NOT a challenge to uniformitarianism. Please see my comment on the Catastrophism talk page. This section should be removed. Wilson44691 (talk) 03:27, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

"(This article was a mess, inaccurate and in someplace completely wrong. your ignorance is unfathonable.)"[edit]

Before I talk about the content, I'm going to point out that your edit comment was WP:UNCIVIL. I disagree with your edit, but that doesn't make me "ignorant", just of a different mind than yours. If you can't tell the difference, you're going to have a lot of trouble on Wikipedia.

The changes you made were largely cosmetic and not particularly an improvement. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, they hid the deletion of the following key sentence: "Today, however, most if not all mainstream scientists support uniformitarianism as do most mainstream religious denominations."

On the whole, your changes did not benefit the article, so I reverted them once, and now I'm going to revert them again. Besides the apology you owe me for your incivility, you're going to need to justify your suggested changes clearly in this forum before trying to impose them on us again. Otherwise, I assure you that I will not be the only one reverting them on sight. Spotfixer (talk) 05:44, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

"Today, however, most if not all mainstream scientists support uniformitarianism as do most mainstream religious denominations."
That sentence is COMPLETELY false! I am a senior undergrad studying paleontology. The paragraph I replace this falsehood with not only comes from one of my texts books (which is used by universities everywhere), it has been echoed by all my professors. Uniformitarianism is completely passe among real geologists. Actualism, which allows for catastrophes is the primary working hypothesis. Check the source before you put your foot in your mouth. Anyone who believes that sentences are wildly out of date and ignorant.
Whomever put in the section about the 4 propositions (NOT FORMS) of uniformity simply did not understand what Gould was talking about. The names of the 4 propositions used are not the ones typically used. Gould, in Times Arrow, Times Cycle calls them Uniformity of law, Uniformity of process, Uniformity of rate, Uniformity of state. I merely added the correct names according to those who really know. There is MUCH that needs to be done to that section to bring it up to snuff. I was just getting started.
People who revert based on utter ignorance deserve what they get. Christian Skeptic (talk) 07:06, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Until you can offer an explanation that is both civil and convincing, you are not going to get your way. Spotfixer (talk) 07:31, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

rewrite[edit]

The following is to replace the nearly stublike existing text. It comes largely from Stephen J. Gould's Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle.

I expect to place this on the main page with in a day or two to allow for review. Christian Skeptic (talk) 16:32, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

[Moved to /Christian Skeptic rewrite to prevent it from clogging up the talkpage & to allow the references to be observable. HrafnTalkStalk 16:47, 14 January 2009 (UTC) ]

My initial impression of this rewrite is negative as:

  1. It gives WP:UNDUE weight to a single source;
  2. The employment of quotations is excessive, intrusive, and often unenlightening; and
  3. It contains quite a number of uncited statements.

HrafnTalkStalk 16:58, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Gould is the premier expert on the history and definition of Uniformitarianism. If you know of anyone better let me know. 80+% of what I added are sourced. I don't know about the parts I didn't add. I have perhaps 4 direct quotes. There are 4 'quotes' just below the headings of the 4 uniformity propositions that give a short, clear definition of what each one is. That hardly seems like excessive quoting. Christian Skeptic (talk) 19:25, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
  1. The article Stephen Jay Gould doesn't mention "Uniformitarianism" even once -- odd if he's the "premier expert" on the field. Further, I would have thought that Uniformitarianism lies more in the field of Geomorphology than Paleontology. If he is such a giant in the field, then this article should provide (third-party sourced) commentary on his contribution to it.
  2. Adding 20% (or any) unsourced material is unacceptable.
  3. Your pull quotes are disruptive, particularly as they are inserted into short sections (3 instances) or into a section already broken by a quote-template (fourth instance).

HrafnTalkStalk 06:26, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

I additionally have the suspicion that the rewrite includes considerable WP:SYNTHESIS of Gould's book. According to a GoogleBooks search, the book only mentions "uniformitarianism" on 12 pages (with "uniformitarian" on 5) -- making it unclear why this is being treated as the be-all/end-all source on this topic, and does not mention "falsifiable" or "unfalsifiable" even once. HrafnTalkStalk 06:50, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

For this very reason, as noted by the very first sesntence "The following is for those who don't believe Gould actually said all this.....", souce material for Gould was originally and temporarily included with the first rewrite. That souce material is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Uniformitarianism_(science)&oldid=263882110#Source_Material. 153.90.173.124 (talk) 16:11, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
I presume that's you Christian Skeptic? Block-evasion will get your block extended you know. Looking at the original, I think your version is somewhat of a cherry-picked distortion -- on the falisifiable/unfalsifiable issue: highlighting the "not testable" aspect but omitting the "statements about methodology" & "geology's versions of fundamental principles-induction and simplicity--embraced by all practicing scientists both today and in Lyell's time" side of it. HrafnTalkStalk 16:57, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Also I note that the extended passage "You can't go to a rocky outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the working of unknown processes. It works the other way round, before you can proceed as a scientist, you must 1) assume that nature's laws are invariant and 2) you choose to exhaust familiar causes before inventing any unknown mechanisms. Then you go to the outcrop of rock." from Gould's original is used without quote-marks. A couple of slight alterations, but still WP:COPYVIO. HrafnTalkStalk 17:01, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

why?[edit]

Is there a particular point to this copyright violation? Spotfixer (talk) 00:37, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Obviously not for you. But for those who think....
1. Copyright infringement implies trying to make money off of someone else and passing it off as your own. 2. This book is out of print. 3. The author is dead. Christian Skeptic (talk) 00:50, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
However, it's a 1987 publication, so the book is still under copyright; the rights are possibly, but not necessarily, held by the author's estate. Regardless, there's no demonstration it's free, which means it has to comply with the non-free content policies. —C.Fred (talk) 00:56, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Agreed and fixed. Spotfixer (talk) 01:00, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
By-the-by, the "point" for posting the source material was noted in the first sentence of the section. And I quote: "The following is for those who don't believe Gould actually said all this....." Christian Skeptic (talk) 19:37, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Cleanup, anyone?[edit]

I just took a look around here, and tried to add some material to replace an ungrammatical (and not-entirely-correct) sentence, and realized that I just wrote what was already written in several other places.

So.... I think a cleanup should be in order, such that material isn't stated more than once, and there is a good order. There are also too many quotes in my opinion, and ones that sound like people talking, but that are not characterized inline as "Lyell said that "bla bla".

I'm not sure when I'll get around to fixing things up, but I will eventually (weeks to months); in the meantime, if anyone else has nothing to do... :) Awickert (talk) 06:04, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Forms[edit]

Christian Skeptic wrote "Forms of uniformitarianism: These make up Uniformitarianism as a whole". This is not true. There's more than one form, so these are not elements. I fixed this more than once. Please stop breaking it and definitely stop insulting and threatening me. TruthIIPower (talk) 03:23, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Thank you for your edits; I don't think that they are necessarily bad, but Christian Skeptic seems to think so, and asked that you take it here - hopefully this leads to a productive discussion. I understand that you are frustrated - likely Christian Skeptic is too from his/her recent edit summary - but with your edit summaries like "undo more bad changes", it's hard to see this not going to the talk page. Awickert (talk) 03:36, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Gould makes it clear, as noted in the section, that strict Lyellian uniformitarianism was made up of 4 elements--uniformity of Law, uniformity of Process, uniformity of Rate and uniformity of State--two philosophical assumptions and two hypotheses. ALL of these TOGETHER make up Lyell's uniformitarianism. Any one of them separately IS NOT uniformitarianism. (Read Gould's 'Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle'.) Therefore, this section is not talking about FORMS of uniformitarianism, but ELEMENTS of uniformitarianism. Natural Laws are taken as uniform across time and space, but that by itself is not uniformitarianism. The same applies to Processes.
Gould goes on to say in "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle" that Lyell was forced by logic to drop his uniformity of State, else Darwin's evolution could not happen. Further, Gould points out that all geologists today, this includes all my geology professors, no longer accept uniformity of Rate, but rather, have adopted Actualism, which allows for some catastrophes. So today's uniformitarianism is different than in Lyell's day and even just 50 years ago.
If you are going to edit this topic, do so from knowledge and back it up with sources. EVERYTHING I have posted and edited is SOURCED by reliable sources. NOTHING you have done has been backed up by ANY SOURCE! So, get your sources and THEN edit the article, else it is just useless OR. You have not fixed anything, but merely vandalized in-depth sourced material. Christian Skeptic (talk) 06:00, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
This argument is neither convincing nor coherent. First you claim they're elements, then you admit that today's uniformitarianism takes a different form that does not contain these elements. If you can't even pick a story and stick to it, your changes are harmful to this article. TruthIIPower (talk) 23:54, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
This article could certainly be significantly improved, but CS's version is far more in keeping with the sources. I've reverted back to the last reasonable version by CS. ... Kenosis (talk) 00:48, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I've been working to improve the article for some time now. It's beginning to reflect what reliable sources have to say, but there is more to be added and it badly needs to be reorganized. Christian Skeptic (talk) 01:34, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Yeah - sorry about the reorganization - still hasn't hopped to #1 on my to-do list. Awickert (talk) 02:36, 10 April 2009 (UTC)


Pre Uniformitarian Age[edit]

Perhaps by contrasting what uniformitarianism isn't, we may see better: Before uniformitarianism appeared everyone by definition was a young-earth creationist (Avicenna, Newton, Kuo et al). The 400-plus flood legends and endless creation legends demonstrate this. Thus uniformitarianism is a reaction to young earth creationism, and is opposed to it. Showing this to be so today is the uniformitarian insistence that planet Mars had cataclysmic floods, despite the complete lack of water there, while the Earth, nearly totally covered with water, is arbitrarily denied a global flood. The only reason for this denial is that it corresponds to a YEC position, and is thus untenable from a uniformitarian POV. The pre uniformitarian period should therefore be categorized as YEC. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 7kingis (talkcontribs) 06:26, 8 April 2010 (UTC)


Avicenna[edit]

The concept of uniformitarianism in geology was first proposed in the 11th century by the [Islamic geography|Persian geologist]], [Avicenna]] (Ibn Sina, 980-1037), who provided the first uniformitarian explanations for geological processes in [The Book of Healing]] (1027). He observed that [mountain]]s were formed after a long sequence of events that predate human existence.[1] [2] While discussing the formation of mountains, he explained:

quote| Either they are the effects of upheavals of the[ Crust (geology) crust]] of the [earth]], such as might occur during a violent [earthquake]], or they are the effect of [water]], which, cutting itself a new route, has denuded the [valley]]s, the [Stratum strata]] being of different kinds, some soft, some hard... It would require a long period of time for all such changes to be accomplished, during which the mountains themselves might be somewhat diminished in size. ef name=Goodfield/>

Later in the 11th century, the [History of science and technology in China|Chinese naturalist]], [Shen Kuo]], also recognized the concept of '[deep time]]'.[3] After The Book of Healing was [Latin translations of the 12th century|translated into Latin in the 12th century]], a few other scientists also reasoned in uniformitarian terms.ref name=Hassani

Avicenna explains that rocks are formed from the four basic elements earth air fire and water. Mountains (according to Avecinna) were formed from these same elements in the past when things were different (not uniform).J8079s (talk) 20:42, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't quite understand what you mean by this? Where does Avicenna say this? And why did you also remove Shen Kuo? Regards, Jagged 85 (talk) 06:45, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

how do you describe uniformtarism[edit]

you dont cuz it's hard dah — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.188.125.196 (talk) 20:54, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

longquotes[edit]

The section Methodological assumptions is one long quote after another which violates WP:LONGQUOTE which says:

  • Using too many quotes is incompatible with the encyclopedic writing style; see Wikipedia:Writing better articles.
  • Quotations that can't be justified for use in an article directly may be placed in Wikiquote and a Wikiquote template put on the article to inform readers that there are relevant quotations regarding the subject.
  • As a matter of style, quoteboxes should generally be avoided as they draw special attention to the opinion of one source, and present that opinion as though Wikipedia endorses it. Instead of using quoteboxes to highlight its notability, explain its importance before introducing the quote or in an introduction to the quote.
  • Wikipedia is not a list or repository of loosely associated topics such as quotations.
  • Do not insert any number of quotations in a stand-alone quote section.
  • A quotation that does not directly relate to the topic of the article or directly support the information as it is presented should not be used, to avoid original research.
  • Intersperse quotations with original prose that comments on those quotations instead of constructing articles out of quotations with little or no original prose.
  • Longer quotations may be hidden in the reference as a footnote to facilitate verification by other editors without sacrificing readability.

In light of this, especially the first and last notes, I'm going to rewrite the section to make it much more readable. Paraphrases of the long quotes will be supported by ref notes that will contain the original quote. SmittysmithIII (talk) 20:05, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Mthoodhood/SmittysmithIII that is an essay, not a policy or even a guideline and frankly, you're doing yourself a disservice by mock-wikilawering on such a shallow pretext.
  • 20:15, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: Moved Hutton quote to ref in support of sentence which say the same thing.)
Apparently agreeing with the interpretation, you deleted parts of two sentences, demoting the short quote to a footnote:
As James Hutton wrote: “If the stone, for example, which fell today, were to rise again tomorrow, there would be an end of natural philosophy [i.e., science], our principles would fail, and we would no longer investigate the rules of nature from our observations.” In essence, tThe constancy of natural laws must be assumed in our study of the past, because if we do not, thenelse we cannot meaningfully study the pastit.
  • 20:22, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: moved Simpson's long quote up in support of same sentence. i.e. "constancy of natural laws must be assumed" = "Uniformity is an unprovable postulate")
It's laughable to call this a "long quote" but not necessarily disingenuous that those two fragments might have similar meanings. However, in the context of a petty attempt to hide the quoted (and delete the unquoted) justifications, I'll just point out the tedious fact that they are not the "same sentence", in neither whole nor part.
"Uniformity is an unprovable postulate justified, or indeed required, on two grounds. First, nothing in our incomplete but extensive knowledge of history disagrees with it. Second, only with this postulate is a rational interpretation of history possible, and we are justified in seeking—as scientists we must seek—such a rational interpretation."
  • 20:32, 28 May (moved, very long, stand-alone, quote to ref. i.e. "to come to conclusions about the past, we must assume the invariance of nature's laws"="Without assuming this spatial and temporal invariance, we have no basis for extrapolating..")
And if we don't dismiss what you don't fancy, it would be longer still... three whole sentences long... tl;dr?
The assumption of spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws is by no means unique to geology since it amounts to a warrant for inductive inference which, as Bacon showed nearly four hundred years ago, is the basic mode of reasoning in empirical science. Without assuming this spatial and temporal invariance, we have no basis for extrapolating from the known to the unknown and, therefore, no way of reaching general conclusions from a finite number of observations. (Since the assumption is itself vindicated by induction, it can in no way “prove” the validity of induction - an endeavor virtually abandoned after Hume demonstrated its futility two centuries ago.
  • 20:41, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: paraphrased and moved Gould's quote to beginning of section.)
And by "moved" you mean you removed the material to makes it less obvious you've misappropriated Gould's remark about Lyell's uniformitarianism to support the so-called "paraphrase" you inserted in a completely different section?
The uniformity of process in another a priori philosophical assumption shared by all scientists. ...
Gould simplified the issue, noting that Lyell's “uniformity of process” was also an assumption: “As such, it is another a priori methodological assumption shared by all scientists and not a statement about the empirical world.”
  • 20:47, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: Moved Gould quote to ref in support of statement. i.e. "geological causes...the scientific principle of parsimony" = "explain the past by causes now in operation")
You made a sloppy mess of the attribution and footnotes in order to a hide just the part you don't like:
“We should try to explain the past by causes now in operation without inventing extra, fancy, or unknown causes, however plausible in logic, if available processes suffice.”
  • 20:52, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: moved very long, standalone quote to ref in support of statement. i.e. parsimony = parsimony)
You comically justify that sloppy mis-attribution: ain't no one gonna get more parsimonious than that, huh? Here's the "very long" three sentences from Hooykaas you hid:
Strict uniformitarianism may often be a guarantee against pseudo-scientific phantasies and loose conjectures, but it makes one easily forget that the principle of uniformity is not a law, not a rule established after comparison of facts, but a methodological principle, preceding the observation of facts .... It is the logical principle of parsimony of causes and of economy of scientific notions. By explaining past changes by analogy with present phenomena, a limit is set to conjecture, for there is only one way in which two things are equal, but there are an infinity of ways in which they could be supposed different.
  • 20:58, 28 May (→‎Lyell's uniformitarianism: moved Gould quote which reiterates previous statement to ref in support of previous statement. i.e. "propositions must be assumed before you can proceed"="You first assume these propositions")
You moved nothing, you add no value whtsoever... just another sloppy redaction of a quote you don't like to a footnotes. Indeed, it waisted less time when you just cal it "improved cite":
"You cannot go to a rocky outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the working of unknown processes. It works the other way around." You first assume these propositions and "then you go to the out crop of rock."
Machine Elf 1735 17:00, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

ok. one at a time......[edit]

Given the following statements in the article:

Gould expounded on similar propositions in Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (1987), stating that Lyell conflated two different types of propositions: a pair of methodological assumptions with a pair of substantive hypotheses. The four together make up Lyell's uniformitarianism.
Methodological assumptions
The two methodological assumptions are universally acclaimed by scientists, and embraced by all geologists. Gould further states that these philosophical propositions must be assumed before you can proceed as a scientist doing science. "You cannot go to a rocky outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the working of unknown processes. It works the other way around." You first assume these propositions and "then you go to the out crop of rock."[4]

Here is the full quote: "You can't go to an outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the varity of unknown processes. It works the other way round: in order to proceed as a scientist, you assume that nature's laws are invariant and you decide to exhaust the range of familiar causes before inventing any unknown mechanisms. Then you go to the outcrop. The first two uniformities are geology's versions of fundamental principles-induction and simplicity--embraced by all practicing scientists both today and in Lyell's time." p 120

Gould is here talking about two assumptions (he labels them "methodological")-- uniformity of Law and parsimony. Gould says they are assumed first before a scientist can proceed to do science. These methodological assumptions are fundamental principles, i.e. philosophical assumptions which all practicing scientists embrace in order to do science (whether they realize it or not). By this he is saying that philosophical assumptions (fundamental principles) are assumed before science can be done, i.e. science is based on philosophical assumptions that come first.

The statement-- "Gould further states that these philosophical propositions must be assumed before you can proceed as a scientist doing science" -- is a precise summary of the quote which follows it. Indeed, that quote is the basis for the statement. Including the quote directly in the paragraph is duplication, clutters up the article, impedes the flow of the article, and is quite unnecessary. It makes sense to put it in a footnote reference so that those who are interested can see the source. And those who aren't, can move on without interrupting the thought of the article. (or one can eliminate the above summarizing statement and just use the quote, which is against WP style.) For this reason I am putting the quote back into the footnote reference where is logically belongs. SmittysmithIII (talk) 02:17, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

There is no full quote, you're trying to hide the statement telling us what Gould meant by methodological assumptions because it establishes the topic of the "Methodological assumptions" section introduced by it. They were taken one at a time, WP:TENDENTIOUS excuses require no response and justify neither edit warring nor personal attacks.[4] +See WP:3RR.[5]Machine Elf 1735 01:05, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

Blocked socks[edit]

SmittysmithIII and Mthoodhood blocked as socks of Allenroyboy. Edits reverted, blocked editors can't edit, that's the purpose of blocks. Dougweller (talk) 16:24, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Second sentence is lead is of very bad encyclopedic quality...[edit]

Uniformitarianism has been a key principle of geology and virtually all fields of science, but naturalism's modern geologists, while accepting that geology has occurred across deep time, no longer hold to a strict gradualism.

The sentence above does not convey to me anything... What does "deep time" refer to, and what does strict gradualism refer to? warshy (¥¥) 17:33, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

"Uniformitarianism" is not an assumption[edit]

When we use the techniques of astronomical spectroscopy to analyse the light from all stars and galaxies, those relatively near (just a few light years away) and those as far away as we can (some 13 billion light years away), and also those at all intermediate distances in between, we discover that all such light contains the unique spectrum of hydrogen red-shifted by varying amounts. That distinct pattern of spectral lines is due to the electron shell energy levels of the element hydrogen.

The fact that we see this unique pattern of spectral lines within the light emitted by the main sequence stars throughout the universe, those both near to us and those far away, means that all of these stars emit the light that they do via the process of fusion of hydrogen into helium. This necessarily means that all of the stars of the universe are "following" the exact same physical laws and processes, using the exact same elements, as does our own sun locally.

Now the absolutely telling bit is that the light we see today coming from galaxies 13 billion light years away was made at the source some 13 billion years ago, just as the light we see now coming from our own local sun was made at the source some eight minutes ago. And, crucially, the light in both cases was made in the exact same way, from the exact same elements, using the exact same processes. This necessarily means the exact same laws of nature operate today as operated 13 billion years ago, and at all times in between.

It turns out that the laws of nature that govern stellar nuclear fusion, the make-up and properties of the elements, electron shell energy levels, spectral lines and the propagation of photons operate today in the exact same way as they did some 13 billion years ago, and at all times in between. This is a fact we can directly infer from our observations and analysis of the light emitted by distant stars and galaxies.

The first sentence of this wikipedia article claims this: "Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe."

"Uniformatarianism" is not an assumption nor is it a belief in that it does not require faith, it has in fact been unambiguously measured and confirmed by direct scientific observation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.96.104.208 (talk) 11:49, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

self-contradiction[edit]

The lead of this article says that uniformitarianism is the observation that scientific laws are the same across time and space, but the middle of the article says that that these are “assumptions”...“that come before one can do science and so cannot be tested or falsified by science.” These 2 assertions are, at best, not identical and, at worst, they even seem to contradict each other. Is “methodologic” uniformitarianism something that cannot be falsified, or is it something that has not been falsified? 71.178.51.189 (talk) 17:29, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Uniformatarianism is a scientifically observed fact since we observe it by direct measurements of the light emitted by distant stars and galaxies. When we look at distant stars and galaxies we are literally making observations of the past. I will change the middle of the article to reflect this and thereby make the middle of the article consistent with the opening sentence and with reality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.96.104.208 (talk) 00:47, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Edits are in place now to correct the earlier apparent contradiction. Explained that Gould's claims that assumptions and extrapolations must be made are merely claims. Provided links to support the actuality that we literally directly observe the distant past when we analyse the light from distant stars and galaxies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.96.104.208 (talk) 07:37, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

References[edit]

Footnotes for this talk page:

  1. ^ Munim M. Al-Rawi and [Salim Al-Hassani]] (2002). "The Contribution of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) to the development of Earth sciences" (PDF). FSTC. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. ^ [Stephen Toulmin]] and June Goodfield]] (1965), The Ancestry of Science: The Discovery of Time, p. 64, [University of Chicago Press]] (cf. The Contribution of Ibn Sina to the development of Earth sciences)
  3. ^ {cite book | last = Sivin | first = Nathan | authorlink = Nathan Sivin | title = Science in Ancient China: Researches and Reflections | publisher = Ashgate Publishing [Variorum]] series | year = 1995 | location = [Brookfield, Vermont]] | pages = III, 23–24 | nopp = true }}
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference Gould120 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

12 fallacies and a definition[edit]

From the Encyclopedia of Geomorphology Volume 2 By Andrew Goudie[6]

"Shea (1982) identified twelve fallacies associated with the use of the term uniformitarianism: that uniformitarianism (a) is unique to geology; (b) was first conceived by James Hutton; (c) vias named by Charles Lyell, who established its definitive modern meaning; (d) should be called actualism because it refers to the actual or real events and processes of Earth history; (e) holds that only currently acting processes operated during geologic time; (f) holds that the rates/or intensities of processes are constant through rime; (g) holds that only gradual, non catastrophic processes have occurred during Earth's history; (h) holds that conditions on Earth have changed little through geologic time; (i) holds that Earth is very old; (j) is a theory or hypothesis and can be tested; (k) applies only as far back in history as present conditions existed and only to Earth's surface or crust; (I) holds that rhe laws governing nature arc constant through space and time. He recommends abandoning the term.

"Kennedy’s definition is, in the last analysis, the most satisfying uniformitarianism is a practical tenet held by all modern sciences concerning the way in which we should choose between competing explanations of phenomena. It rests on the principle that the choice should be the simplest explanation which is consistent both with the evidence and with the known or inferred operation of scientific law's. Uniformitarianism is therefore applicable to both historical inference and to prediction of the future outcome of the operation of natural processes (Goodman 1967)." Doug Weller (talk) 16:23, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

Some of the material the IP removed, although for different reasons, didn't belong as it was original research, using sources that don't mention uniformitarianism. I'd say that this should also be removed: "However, the scientific observation and analysis of the light from distant stars and galaxies provides direct empirical evidence of both the uniformity of law across time and space and the uniformity of process across time and space. This empirical evidence is in no way an assumption nor an extrapolation because when one analyses the light emitted from distant stars and galaxies one is actually literally looking back in time,[25] and hence in this case the distant past is in fact directly observable. This effect is due to fact that photons do not experience time at all.[26] From the perspective of a photon there is zero time elapsed between when it is emitted and when it is absorbed again. It doesn't experience distance either.[26]"

Doug Weller (talk) 16:37, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Here is a link to a PDF file for a paper entitled "Astronomy in History". The original research on which this comment is based is described therein. I quote:
1600-1700 : Concept of universal natural laws.
1672 : Newton uses prism to decompose white light
1700 – 1800 : Numerous star catalogues. First studies of “nebulae” by Herschel and Messier. First attempts to understand the Galaxy. Emergence of modern chemistry (Priestley, Lavoisier, Dalton).
1750 : Wright, early speculations on structure of Galaxy.
1788 : Hutton’s Theory of the Earth introduces “uniformitarianism” in geology and a very great age for the Earth (“no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.”)
1800 – 1900 : Major technological developments in telescope making (Fraunhofer); introduction of spectroscopy and photography (birth of modern observational astronomy) - “Classical physics” perfected: wave theory of light (Young, 1801; Fresnel, 1830); thermodynamics (Carnot, Meyer, Joule, Kelvin, Helmholtz, Maxwell, etc.); classical electrodynamics (Oersted, Faraday, Ampère, Maxwell, Hertz, etc.).
1814-15 : Fraunhofer maps solar spectrum - Technologies that impact on astronomy include precision engineering spectroscopy and photography.
1859 : Kirchhoff and Bunsen establish rules for spectral line production.
1896 : Becquerel, radioactivity
1897 : Thomson, electron
1910 : Rutherford’s experiments in Manchester establish nuclear atom
1913 : Bohr’s semi-classical model of the hydrogen atom
1923 : Hubble finds Cepheid in M31, establishes existence of external galaxies
1939 : Bethe, theory of hydrogen fusion
1948 : Birth of modern cosmology: αβγ paper on hot dense early universe, Bondi, Gold and Hoyle on Steady State
This comment itself is not original research. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 10:45, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

HELP!!!! Page has been sabotaged - Once again, "Uniformitarianism" is not an assumption[edit]

If we define Uniformitarianism as the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe, then this is most decidedly not an assumption. This is the single most-tested result in all of science ... every scientific observation, every experiment must have the property of reproducibility if it is to be accepted as valid. Reproducibility is one of the main principles of the scientific method.

Every single reproducible observation/experiment we have ever made/performed establishes that reality does not change. Every single reproducible result we obtain establishes that the same natural laws and processes that operated in the universe now (the current result/observation) have previously operated in the universe in the (previous result/observation). This applies to literally billions of reproduced scientific results over time. Every single time we get another reproduction of a previous observation or experimental result we get another confirmation of the principle of uniformitarianism. The scientific principle is incredibly well established that reality does not change, or in other words that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.

Furthermore, via the analyses of light from distant stars and galaxies in the field of astronomical spectroscopy, we have observations literally of the distant past. These results establish that distant stars and galaxies (billions of light years away) produced the light they emitted billions of years ago via the exact same process of stellar fusion of hydrogen into helium, and hence these observations establish directly that the exact same laws of physics (pertaining to the process of stellar fusion) operated in the distant past billions of years ago as they do today. Since we have observations of stars from billions of years ago, and other observations from our own sun just 8 minutes ago, we can unambiguously demonstrate that the same laws of physics as operate today operated billions of years ago, and at all times and places in between. Uniformitarianism is therefore not an assumption at all, it is unambiguously a very-well-established principle in all of science. Uniformitarianism is perhaps the best-established principle in all of science. It is most decidedly NOT an assumption, it has been tested (and survived testing) literally billions of times.

This page has undergone massive sabotage on 21 September 2015‎ by user 217.38.91.0 and I simply don't know how to restore it. To whom do I appeal to get is sabotage undone? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 10:34, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

I think you should be carefully cognizant of why many of the editors here, not to mention the authoritative sources, disagree with your original research that uniformitarianism is a "scientific observation", and why your edits are being reverted by different editors. Please let me remind you:
1. WP:NOR : "Wikipedia articles must not contain original research. ... This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to reach or imply a conclusion not stated by the sources." Your edits are based on your own personal research (ie. abductive inferences based circumstantially on astronomical evidence) rather than direct evidence or the testimony of a reliable, authoritative source. Your claim is something you conclude by yourself from the spectroscopic data, rather than something that is directly stated by the data sources.
2. WP:RS : "Sources should directly support the information as it is presented in the Wikipedia article. " Your sources do not directly support your original research. (Note* modified from Your original research directly contradicts the information as it is presented in the body of the article. by User:Cartesian5712 at 18:15, 30 September 2015) The article describes uniformitarianism as a priori knowledge, in some places as a "methodological assumption" and in others as an "axiom". This is the correct description of uniformitarianism before you began editing it, and the standardised view recognised by the academic scholars who specialise in this topic. Note the quote from Gould as it is presented in the article:
"You cannot go to a rocky outcrop and observe either the constancy of nature's laws or the working of unknown processes. It works the other way around." You first assume these propositions and "then you go to the out crop of rock."
To understand what Gould means requires some background in epistemology:
When scholars say that uniformitarianism is a priori, it is because there is no way of knowing if the fundamental properties of space-time have altered while the light from distant galaxies was in transit from the distant past and across the cosmos. We can only observe the picture portrayed by that light as it arrives at the end of its journey on Earth. This is not the same as traveling to the distant cosmos and into the past to observe the origin and journey of that light directly.
Because astronomers use uniformitarianism as an a priori framework with which to make sense of and interpret spectroscopic data, it is circular reasoning to claim that our interpretation of that data provides proof of uniformitarianism. This idea is encapsulated in Goedel's Second Incompleteness Theorem.217.38.191.190 (talk) 10:38, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Please explain how astronomers use uniformitarianism as an a priori framework. Astronomers record the light coming from distant stars and galaxies, and analyse it, and they find the unique spectrum of hydrogen in all samples (no matter how far away the source). Since the unique spectral line pattern of hydrogen is due to the electron shell energy levels of the element hydrogen as we know it locally here on earth, it follows that hydrogen is exactly the same element in distant stars and galaxies, and inside those distant stars the process of hydrogen burning is what they use to emit the light that they do. Ergo the same laws of physics apply in the distant stars, and they applied at the long-ago moment that the stars emitted the light that they did. You will note that there is no reliance on any assumption that the laws of physics have always been the same in order for one to arrive at this conclusion. Hence no circular reasoning is involved. Besides, there is other evidence from the cosmic neutrino background for example which also shows that the laws of physics have been constant throughout all time (these neutrinos have been neutrinos ever since they were formed shortly after the Big Bang).
It matters not one whit that you think I have done original research when I have done no such thing ... the fact remains that something is not an assumption if one has evidence which supports it. These are the plain English meanings of words involved. There is a vast amount of evidence which supports the principle that "the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe". So much evidence that this is probably the best-established principle there is. One need only to look at a picture of the night sky to realise that the stars are the same (operate in the same way) everywhere throughout the universe. It is a very small step from there to realise that the stars operated the same way to produce the light that they emitted at different times in the past (depending on how far away each one is) ... so throughout time and space. "Uniformitarianism" is a self-evident no-brainer, really, and it is most certainly not an "assumption" lacking evidence.
If Gould wants to make the pretty outrageous hypothesis that there could be some weird effect whereby "the fundamental properties of space-time could have altered while the light from distant galaxies was in transit from the distant past and across the cosmos", in just such a way as the patterns from remote stars and galaxies started out differently, from a multitude of different directions, but got to be exactly the same just as they happened to arrive here at the earth, then Gould really needs to explain how such a wildly unlikely thing could be even remotely possible, and exactly why he thinks the earth happens to be in this unique position in spacetime.
For two reasons this bit is also incorrect "We can only observe the picture portrayed by that light as it arrives at the end of its journey on Earth. This is not the same as traveling to the distant cosmos and into the past to observe the origin and journey of that light directly." First reason is that a picture, or a recording, of light patterns, aka a photograph, is not he same thing as the direct light radiation itself, in neither time nor in substance, yet the photograph does not "lie" and it does reflect the information inherent in the original pattern of travelling photons. Secondly you should understand from general relativity that as things get closer and closer to the speed of light time slows down, a phenomena known as "time dilation". Google it. Now in the case of a photon it is travelling at the speed of light (relative to any other observer) and so the photon does not experience time at all. As far as a photon is concerned there is zero time elapsed since it was emitted from a distant sun and when it arrives here on earth. Source: Does Light Experience Time?. So Gould is utterly incorrect once again.
Gould makes an error in claiming: "there is no way of knowing if the fundamental properties of space-time have altered while the light from distant galaxies was in transit from the distant past and across the cosmos" ... this is incorrect. We see the same spectral line pattern unique to hydrogen in light from our own sun (8 light-minutes away), from the very closest stars (about 4.5 light years away), and from stars 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000, 5000, 20000 light years away, and so on further and further away. The pattern is the same from them all (after adjusting for redshift which is due to Doppler effects or metric expansion of space in between), all the way through to the furthest away which we can analyse, about 13.2 billion light-years away. If there indeed some way that "fundamental properties of space-time have altered while the light from distant galaxies was in transit" it would begin to show up somewhere in this series. It doesn't show up. There is copious evidence which directly refutes what Gould claims. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 08:06, 26 September 2015
The important question you need to ask yourself is: Do your sources explicitly and directly address the concept of uniformitarianism?
If not, then you are implying a conclusion that is not stated within the source. This would count as original research, and would not be allowed in the article. Again, please remind yourself of wikipedia's policy on this topic in WP:NOR:
Wikipedia articles must not contain original research. The phrase "original research" (OR) is used on Wikipedia to refer to material—such as facts, allegations, and ideas—for which no reliable, published sources exist.[1] This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to reach or imply a conclusion not stated by the sources.
You've still not (at least yet) grasped the epistemic aspects of this topic or the metaphysical nuances of scientific observation, but at the end of the day, this is not what the talk page is intended for. WP:TALK states:
Stay objective: Talk pages are not a place for editors to argue their personal point of view about a controversial issue. They are a place to discuss how the points of view of reliable sources should be included in the article, so that the end result is neutral. The best way to present a case is to find properly referenced material.
If you want to challenge Gould on his grasp of ontology, then a publicly accessible wikipedia article is not the place to disseminate your personal ideas. Why don't you write to some of the experts on this topic and see what they have to say? Good luck! 217.38.100.252 (talk) 19:37, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
You say: "The important question you need to ask yourself is: Do your sources explicitly and directly address the concept of uniformitarianism?" My response is: absolutely they do. I will quote one such, which is directly on topic to this exact question: "Uniformitarianism, in geology, is the doctrine suggesting that Earth’s geologic processes acted in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity in the past as they do in the present and that such uniformity is sufficient to account for all geologic change. This principle is fundamental to geologic thinking and underlies the whole development of the science of geology.[1] The expression uniformitarianism, however, has passed into history, because the argument between catastrophists and uniformitarians has largely died. Geology as an applied science draws on the other sciences, but in the early 19th century, geologic discovery had outrun the physics and chemistry of the day. As geologic phenomena became understandable in terms of advancing physics, chemistry, and biology, the reality of the principle of uniformity as a major philosophical tenet of geology became established, and the controversy between catastrophists and uniformitarians largely ended."
This quotation does indeed "explicitly and directly address the concept of uniformitarianism". You removed this quotatiton on the basis that it was plagiarism (which is fair enough), but the reference is still a valid reference and it begs the question on how you can then turn around and claim that I have no sources that the well-established point that uniformitarianism is in fact a posteriori knowledge and still claim that my point is original research!! That is perhaps the most barefaced example of hypocrisy I have ever come across.
You have yet to explain why you are insisting that your one reference to a highly dubious self-proclaimed authority who brings up an easily dismissed claim trumps entire fields of scientific research and well-established principles with vast amounts of supporting empirical evidence. Good luck with that.
So once again because you are apparently so slow to comprehend, uniformitarianism is not an assumption, it is a posteriori knowledge based on a vast amount of solid empirical evidence. The debate over this topic was waged (and lost by those claiming it was assumption) over a century ago. None of the points raised by Gould more recently on this topic are valid objections to the vast body of empirical evidence which supports the principle of uniformitarianism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 23:20, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
That highly dubious self-proclaimed authority is a WP:reliable source and his points are indeed valid here - even if you disagree with him. And please refrain from commenting on other users. Vsmith (talk) 00:17, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
I am happy with your edit of the opening paragraph, but I still have issue with the language in the section "Epistemological status" which still claims that uniformitarianism is a priori knowledge when in actual fact it is not. This part of the opening paragraph "There exists a vast body of direct empirical evidence supporting the principle" is now perfectly correct, and that sentence means that uniformitarianism is in actual fact a posteriori knowledge according to the very definitions within Wikipedia's own article A priori and a posteriori on this topic. What do you propose to do about this contradiction within the article as it now stands? IMO the controversy over this claim should at the very least be alluded to. PS I would like to apologise to User 217.38.100.252 for my comments above, but in my defense the refusal of this user to address the point or acknowledge the factual issues with Gould's unsupported claims on this topic I found to be extremely annoying. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 07:55, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
The Lyellian substantive hypotheses are specific to geological gradualism and are refuted within the body of the Britannica source. The wikipedia article also states that Lyellian gradualism is rejected under modern scholarship.
For all of these reasons we cannot append it as summative proof in the introduction, which describes the general concept of uniformitarianism in the methodological sense (constancy of space-time laws/processes in a cosmological time-frame). The substantive hypotheses do not provide empirical proof of this. They are already mentioned, for developmental reference, in the historic reference section along with the other 19th century scholarship on this topic.217.38.170.105 (talk) 08:39, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
Science does not "prove" anything. The scientific method involves a process of making observations, proposing hypotheses, see Hypothesis, which might explain said observations, testing the hypotheses via further observation and experiment with a view to disproving them, and when only one hypothesis survives extensive testing and remains not disproved is it then considered to merit the title of a scientific theory. There is no step at which one can say a formal proof has been shown. Nevertheless when we have a hypothesis which has vast evidence in support and has withstood all attempts to disprove it, as uniformitarianism certainly has, then it is most decidedly not an assumption, rather it is called (in science) a theory or a principle. It is incorrect usage of terminology (even of epistemological terminology) to try to call uniformitarianism an "assumption" when there is copious empirical evidence for it ... that would be akin calling it an "assumption" that the sun will continue to fuse hydrogen tomorrow. After all there is no formal proof that the sun will continue to fuse hydrogen tomorrow but nevertheless you can (literally) bet your life that it will. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 10:52, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
I think you should be aware that "principle" is not synonymous with a posteriori knowledge. This means that it's pointless to constantly return this to the opening sentence as a 'rebuttal' to the reliable sources in the article that state otherwise.
It doesn't contradict or posit a counter to the idea of uniformitarianism being an assumption, so it does not support your original research. All it does is add needless bloat to the introductory paragraph, meaning that someone will eventually correct it later.
If I revert your changes again, it will invoke the 3-revert rule prompting moderator action. Once again, please stop with your disruptive editing. The policy on editing wikipedia has been amply discussed above.217.38.170.105 (talk) 11:11, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
Please stop claiming that corrections to this article (to make it self consistent and align it with the descriptions in other renowned encyclopaedias) are disruptive editing. Please stop claiming that the points raised in this discussion, or indeed the vast evidence gathered in support of uniformitarianism, are "my ideas". Please stop making the ridiculous claim that "assumption" and "principle" are not contradictory. Please stop claiming without reason that this discussion is "original research". This discussion was thoroughly thrashed out over a century ago, principally in the field of geology, but also a bit later in many other fields of science. Uniformitarianism simply is not a mere assumption, it is a consensus scientific principle verified by a vast amount of evidence gleaned from many fields of science. Please stop in your inexplicable, obsessive, nonsensical and somewhat suspicious (in terms of your motivations) quest to insist that it is an assumption, when clearly it is not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 11:55, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
Reviewing the page history shows that user:Hal2k1 has already breached the 3RR concerning the wording of the opening sentence and the inclusion of the term "principle", which he justifies using original research. All editing has been stopped until the topic has been reviewed by an administrator. I'd be grateful if a registered user familiar with the process can flag this topic for administrator action. Sorry for any inconvenience. 217.38.170.105 (talk) 12:24, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Uniformitarianism, Geology, Written by: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

Admin help needed[edit]

Yes check.svg Done Flagged for admin help. I'm not affiliated with the debate whatsoever - just a talk page stalker. Hope all gets resolved.

~ NottNott talk|contrib 13:23, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Below is not a question but another wall of text concerning a content dispute. Administrators as administrators do not normally involve themselves in content disputes.--Bbb23 (talk) 14:17, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. The notification requests I ask my question below, so I will do my best to summarise the situation as it stands from reading the page history.
Since around March of this year, User:Hal2k1, first under an IP, then with a registered account, began editing this article to support his postulation that uniformitarianism is based upon scientific observation (a posteriori knowledge). This is directly contradictory to the WP:Reliable Sources in the article that describe it as a metaphysical assumption (a priori knowledge). In order to support his idea, he references various sources from cosmology and physics, none of which expressly posit any conclusion or claim concerning uniformitarianism.
It has been explained to him that this contravenes WP:NOR inasmuch as he is drawing conclusions from those sources that the sources themselves do not state.
His edits have been reverted since March by a number of different editors, but he continues to re-introduce them. He consistently denies that his independent conclusions count as original research.
For now, he has been persuaded to remove the references to cosmology and physics that constitute his independent research, but he insists nonetheless that the conclusion of his original research (that uniformitarianism is an a posteriori scientific observation) should be reflected in the opening statement of the article.
In order to do this, the opening sentence has undergone various iterations over the past 24 hours that attempt in various ways to obscure or undermine the description of uniformitarianism as an "assumption". Technically, uniformitarianism is both "assumption" and "principle", but User:Hal2k1 believes that the two terms are mutually exclusive (that "principle" is synonymous with "evidenced knowledge"), and that the phrase "principle or assumption" puts his original research on an equal footing with the reliable sources that contradict it.
The following are the timestamps of the edits, with a summary of the content in the opening statement that has changed/reverted:
Original edit "Uniformitarianism is the assumption that ..."
14:14, 26 September 2015"Uniformitarianism is claimed to be an assumption[1] that ..."
23:36, 26 September 2015 "Uniformitarianism is the principle, claimed by some to be an assumption, that ..."
10:23, 27 September 2015‎ "Uniformitarianism is the principle or assumption that ..."
11:06, 27 September 2015‎ "Uniformitarianism is the principle or assumption that ..."
My objection to the last two reverts concerns scholarly standards of writing as much as the technical details. Whereas the original version introduced the basic ontology of uniformitarianism in simple terms in the opening sentence, with the more nuanced 'knowledge theory' aspects of uniformitarianism (as a "first principle" of science) following in a later statement, here, it is needlessly confusing.
Knowledge can be either principle (without being an assumption) or assumption (without being a principle) or both. The phrase "principle or assumption" raises some confusion as to what exactly is implied in the proposition of the statement. These changes are also redundant in that uniformitarianism is described as a "principle" later in the introduction.
I'd be grateful if an administrator would help settle this dispute.217.38.170.105 (talk) 21:01, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
I have a couple of points to raise that should be pertinent to whomever looks at this issue. The first is in respect of the claim above that my conclusions are original research, I point out the following article Have physical constants changed with time?. I quote: The fundamental laws of physics, as we presently understand them, depend on about 25 parameters, such as Planck's constant h, the gravitational constant G, and the mass and charge of the electron. It is natural to ask whether these parameters are really constants, or whether they vary in space or time. ... Over the past few decades, there have been extensive searches for evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." Among the methods used have been astrophysical observations of the spectra of distant stars, searches for variations of planetary radii and moments of inertia, investigations of orbital evolution, searches for anomalous luminosities of faint stars, studies of abundance ratios of radioactive nuclides, and (for current variations) direct laboratory measurements. ... Another has been to examine ratios of spectral lines of distant quasars coming from different types of atomic transitions (resonant, fine structure, and hyperfine). The resulting frequencies have different dependences on the electron charge and mass, the speed of light, and Planck's constant, and can be used to compare these parameters to their present values on Earth. ... So far, these investigations have found no evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." The current observational limits for most constants are on the order of one part in 10^10 to one part in 10^11 per year. So to the best of our current ability to observe, the fundamental constants really are constant. There is a number of scholarly references at the bottom of the article. Hence the conclusions I talk about are not my conclusions, and they are most decidedly not original research on my part.
Regarding the comment For now, he has been persuaded to remove the references to cosmology and physics that constitute his independent research I state once again that this is not my research nor is it in any way original. Would user 217.38.170.105 accept the references of the article I linked to above? Or perhaps for the sake of internal consistency we should link as well to Wikipedia's own section on this same topic, Physical constant subsection How constant are the physical constants?
Regarding the comment: Technically, uniformitarianism is both "assumption" and "principle", but User:Hal2k1 believes that the two terms are mutually exclusive (that "principle" is synonymous with "evidenced knowledge"), and that the phrase "principle or assumption" puts his original research on an equal footing with the reliable sources that contradict it. I do indeed claim that uniforitarianism cannot be both an assumption and a principle at the same time. Science does not merely "assume" that the laws of physics are unchanged over time, instead it considers that proposition to be a hypothesis and scientists then go and test it, as described in the article linked above. The results of all testing so far indicate that the laws of physics have indeed not changed over time, and so uniforitarianism is a principle not an assumption.
Regarding Stephen Jay Gould he was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science, and so can indeed be considered a trusted source within those domains. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to know much at all about astronomy or physics and can hardly be considered a trusted source in those arenas.
Regarding the section headed "Epistemological status" in the actual article the claim therein (1) Uniformitarianism, expressed as the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes, is a priori knowledge insofar as it is knowledge that is presumed to be true before observation of the real world, rather than something that can be gleaned directly from observation of the real world and also the claim (2) Because it is a first principle of science, it cannot be falsified or verified using scientific analysis are both completely false, as evidenced above.
Finally with regard to comment The phrase "principle or assumption" raises some confusion as to what exactly is implied in the proposition of the statement. I completely agree. The phrase "principle or assumption" was not introduced by me. IMO the "or assumption" part should be completely removed, so the opening statement should read Uniformitarianism is the principle that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. This statement would then be far more in alignment with other encyclopaedias on this topic. This is the finding of scientists who have gone to great lengths to test it. Uniformitarianism is not an assumption at all.
I too would be grateful if an administrator would help settle this dispute.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 10:37, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

This article is discussing an historical debate which occurred mainly in the 19th century on concepts and interpretations in geology - please read the article. Stephen Jay Gould is indeed a "trusted source" for the topic as it isn't about physics and astronomy. It seems Hal2k1 is discussing some other article about variation of fundamental "constants" as the linked webpage by Steve Carlip covers that quite well and is not about uniformitarianism as discussed in this article. Vsmith (talk) 12:24, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Unfortunately with all due respect I must point out that this comment is wrong. As the article I linked states at the very start, "The fundamental laws of physics, as we presently understand them, depend on about 25 parameters, such as Planck's constant h, the gravitational constant G, and the mass and charge of the electron." As the wikipedia article correctly points out: Uniformitarianism is the principle that the same "natural laws and processes" that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. Therefore, even though the word "uniformitarianism" isn't mentioned in the article I linked (primarily because this word has long fallen into disuse) the article I linked is indeed all about exactly the same topic as uniformitarianism, namely that of the constancy over time and space of natural laws and processes aka the fundamental laws of physics. Since Gould, as accomplished as he was in his own fields, knows nothing much about the laws of physics he simply cannot be quoted as a trusted source on this topic. Note also that Gould himself does not mention the word uniformitarianism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 12:44, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
er... please read the article, it is about the historical concept. The article (webpage) you linked is about the fundamental laws of physics and not about the historical concept of uniformitarianism. So ... go write the fundamental laws of physics article. Vsmith (talk) 13:38, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
As far as a historical record of the debate (primarily centred as it was on the field of geology) the article is absolutely fine. Nevertheless it makes several incorrect statements which are not about the historical debate. The opening sentence is wrong sine if uniformitarianism is about "that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe" then this is a well-tested principle and not an assumption. The section titled "Epistemological status" is completely incorrect. The section entitled "Methodological assumptions" is incorrect where it mentions "Gould claims that these philosophical propositions must be assumed before you can proceed as a scientist doing science", and where it mentions "extrapolate (by inductive inference) into the unobservable past". Science tests the constancy of the physical constants directly via astronomical observations of distant stars and galaxies. This is direct observation of the distant past, and not extrapolation or inductive reasoning is necessary. Gould's expertise is not in this area. The statement that "the constancy of natural laws must be assumed" is also wrong since we do not assume it we measure/test it directly. Perhaps if these errors that Gould makes are corrected, or at least it is made clear that they are errors, then the fidelity of the article can be rescued.
Actually I read in the section "20th Century" that Gould himself eventually abandoned the notion that the laws of physics might change over time. It says: He dismissed the first principle, which asserted spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws, as no longer an issue of debate. It is a shame then that the rest of the article did not understand that even Gould himself had abandoned the notions stated as fact in the sections of the article entitled "Methodological assumptions" and "Epistemological status". Credit to Gould, no credit to the authors of these sections. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 07:45, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
Hal2k1: Carslip's essay isn't evidence for uniformitarianism.
It's an inductive thesis, specific to the fundamental constants (which are only a subset of what we would refer to as spatiotemporal "laws and processes") and all the studies mentioned in it (Brans-Dicke theory of gravity, superstring theory, "Oklo phenomenon" study) are underpinned by their own uniformitarianist assumptions.
Carslip clearly understands the boundaries of his knowledge and where to draw the line in making inferences. If he goes so far as to claim it as proof of uniformitarianism then you may have a case, otherwise you're left with nothing cogent to support your independent ideas.217.38.189.102
Regarding "Carslip's essay isn't evidence for uniformitarianism" I would say that Carlslip's essay is a fair summary of the scientific testing that has been undertaken by science in recent decades to establish the constancy of the physical constants. These physical constants are fundamental to many of the laws of physics, where we understand that a scientific law is as described in the reference in that it is a descriptive statement (often mathematical) of behaviour/phenomena that we always see. If the laws were different (the physical constants embedded within the mathematical laws had different values) the the processes that we see as a result of them would also be different. By way of example consider Newton's law of universal gravitation ... if the gravitational constant "G" had a different value the law would become different, and gravity would have a different strength, and all processes that depended on gravity (including fusion inside of suns) would be different. So if uniformitarianism is defined as per the start of the article, that being that Uniformitarianism is the principle that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe then absolutely the testing that is described in Carslip's essay certainly is evidence for exactly that. The finding is that the physical constants (such as G) haven't changed over time, and so gravity hasn't changed over time, and so the law which describes the strength of gravity hasn't changed over time, and so processes depending on gravity haven't changed over time. If uniformitarianism is something else then the opening definition of this wikipedia article needs to be fixed. (talk) 20:48, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
The following is not a difficult concept: If P (eg. the Brans-Dicke theory of gravity) presupposes the truth of Q (spatio-temporal uniformitarianism), then P cannot be presented as evidence of the truth of Q, at the risk of circularity.
Topics like this need a face-to-face discussion, but I've tried my best to explain to you why your critique of this subject, your hasty inductions from cosmology, particle physics, and now the fundamental constants, are tautological. You've not been able to respond cogently to this.
Let's clarify that your grasp of these scientific topics is nothing unique, and something that grade school seniors headed for STEM degrees would have no trouble with. Don't you think that the multitude of postdoctoral researchers in this specialty would not have considered simple ideas like these during the decades that they've been studying this topic? If their claims of uniformitarianism being a priori are so easily and simply refuted, don't you think that the literature would be replete with criticisms and rebuttals against their claims?
I think you should take a step back from this polemic and consider the possibility that you may not have understood the subject as well as you like to think. The very fact that you are using a verificationist ("only science matters") approach to addressing a subject in the ontology of science should have you thinking very cautiously about what you are doing.217.38.79.252 (talk) 11:23, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
The exact same argument from authority applies in reverse ... the physicists involved in the testing of the constancy of the physical constants certainly do not assume they are constant in the first place before they conduct their tests, and said tests certainly should not rely on any pre-suppositions that what they are trying to test for is true. If they did the test would not pass peer review. Don't you think that the multitude of post-doctoral researchers in this speciality would not have considered simple ideas like these during the decades that they've been testing these constants? If you truly believe this testing fails due to circular logic, then by all means point it out. Name the specific tests which are invalid, and describe for us exactly why they are. Show us why the finding that the upper bounds on the maximum possible relative change per year for physical constants can be pegged at very small amounts is wrong, or even suspect in any way. Science is all about proving things wrong, so your efforts here should gain you considerable scientific kudos.
Come to think of it, the only lack of symmetry in this argument it seems to me is that those on the philosophical side of this face-off don't actually have any test results. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 13:27, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
If you want to talk about the fundamental constants, then create your own article on the topic as Vsmith has pointed out, but keep it separate from the article on uniformitarianism, which is vastly greater in scope and in a different knowledge category.
This article concerns uniformitarianism, and that is where your reasoning reduces to tautology.
You'll need to think outside of the box when we talk of the invarance of laws and processes in uniformitarianism. That may include metaphysical concepts such as reversals in the arrow of time, changes in the foundational nature of dimensionality itself, or even variations in the logical/mathematical describability of the universe, none of which would be verifiable using scientific observation. The ontological variations that are possible are vast in scope, challenging the boundaries of human comprehension. That is why uniformitarianism belongs within the domain of metaphysics and is defended as a metaphysical thesis by the reliable sources.
That is also why Carslip (or in fact any tenured scholar literate in basic justification theory) does not proffer his thesis as evidence for uniformitarianism and why your argument here would be disqualified as WP:original research. Academically, it would be rejected as an hasty induction and a category error.217.38.79.252 (talk) 13:45, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
Scientific laws are effectively mathematical descriptions of observations. Scientific observations must be verifiable and reproducible, they must be facts. In all our admittedly limited direct experience facts do not change, or in other words reality does not change ... but without doubt despite that experience one cannot just assume that the invarance of laws and processes is true, especially over the large time-scale of the universe. So we test it. We have done the testing and the results are in ... to the best accuracy we can achieve we find the constants have not changed, and hence the laws of physics have not changed in the past. This is a straightforward result but by no means a tautology. Granted this topic of uniformitarianism is not the same topic, but nevertheless this article contains a number of errors. Claims in this article about "the unobservable past" and about "a priori knowledge" are straight-out errors, as is the claim that the invarance of laws and processes is an assumption when in fact extensive testing has been undertaken to demonstrate it. Now it may indeed be the case that some higher metaphysical concepts such as those you mention may invalidate these results, but nevertheless it remains utterly untrue for this article to claim that the invarance of laws and processes is an assumption. It just isn't. We tested it. It is a finding. It may be a debatable finding, it may one day prove to be wrong, but most assuredly this finding was not simply assumed.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Hal2k1 (talkcontribs) 23:57, 29 September 2015
Though you are now, tentatively, acknowledging areas in which your knowledge is incomplete, at the end of the day, this kind of discussion is not appropriate for the WP:talk page. Wikipedia operates under a system of relatively clear policies regarding WP:reliable sources and WP:original research which exist to prevent problems like we see happening here, to prevent people without expert knowledge drawing inaccurate conclusions independently of their sources. It's also clearly prohibited to modify the article to represent opinions or sources that have already been purged from the article. Sorry, but that's the bottom line.217.38.80.132 (talk) 05:58, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
I notice that you still do not address the point about the clear errors in the article, nor do you propose how such needed corrections should be introduced. Which brings me to the next point: what is the Wikipedia policy when a reliable source for some areas of knowledge is quoted concerning another area entirely in which his knowledge is incomplete? How does Wikipedia prevent the incorrect original research of such a person in one area being quoted as Wikipedia gospel just because he is a reliable source in a unrelated discipline? Finally I repeat once again that the testing and empirical evidence I quote is not my testing, and it is not my research, it was done in the past few decades by qualified scientists who a far more appropriate to quote as reliable sources on this matter. The conclusion they reach remains uncontested and it directly contradicts some of the claims made in this Wikipedia article. You seem to be earnest enough but you are like the person who frets over the splinter in someone else's eye yet you ignore the log in your own eye. If you were to direct your energies towards correcting these errors in the article I would be more than happy to let you do that and you would not have to spend any more time quibbling with me.Hal2k1 (talk) 10:41, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

Break for editing convenience[edit]

With the article completing evaluation in the 3RR/edit warring noticeboard, I'm unsure how to move this forward.
I think a quick summary is needed to put the wall of text above in context.
So far Hal2k1 has been notified that he is in breach of WP:NOR by 3 people: by myself (posting under IP), another editor [[7]] and has been warned by at least one administrator [[8]]. However he continues to express his intention to continue modifying the article in accordance with his original research. He has also disregarded WP:NOT and modified the introduction to deliberately (by his own admission) obscure the meaning of the WP:reliably sourced opening sentence.
I would contend that his edits are in good faith, but he refuses to acknowledge key editing policies.
Given that dispute resolution on the talk page has yielded no progress, what other options are available for settling this disagreement? Cartesian5712 (talk) 17:39, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
I of course repeatedly point out that, despite the claims in this talk section to the contrary, the finding that the laws of physics have not changed is most decidedly not my original research. I do have a proposal that may resolve the issue: that would be to delete the completely false section entitled "Epistemological status" and to add another new section entitled "21st century" after the current section entitled "20th century". In this new section we could quote the reliable sources identified regarding the research and testing that has been undertaken in recent decades which has resulted in the finding, to the best accuracy we can achieve, that the scientific laws are indeed invariant over time. Perhaps the following references from the Wikipedia article on Physical Constants can be re-used for this purpose: Have physical constants changed with time? [1][2]. Such an edit it seems to me would not be at all disruptive to the bulk of the article, entirely on topic, completely within the Wikipedia editing policies and it would serve to correct the gross errors of fact that the article would otherwise contain without such an addition.Hal2k1 (talk) 02:29, 1 October 2015 (UTC)
Why are you trying to turn this article into Physical constant#How_constant are the physical constants.3F? The content you want is there and it says nothing about the mostly historical concept called uniformitarianism. Do those references use the term? Vsmith (talk) 03:45, 1 October 2015 (UTC)
I guess the problem here is that during the historical debate, when the term uniformitarianism was actually in common usage, the constancy of the physical laws was indeed an assumption at that time, as it was for a long while after the original debate commenced. It was an assumption right up to a few decades ago when sufficiently accurate methods were devised to actually investigate the question. The results from these investigations conclude that the Physical constants have not changed over time, to a measurement of one-part-in-10-million over a period of 7 billion years. You seem to imagine that there is a difference between the physical constants and the scientific laws within which they appear, but in reality there isn't. By way of example I refer you to the text of the article entitled Phew! Universe's Constant Has Stayed Constant. The constant the scientists were trying to measure was the ratio of the mass of a proton to the mass of an electron. The method they used is described as follows: The scientists determined this by pointing the Effelsberg 100-m radio telescope at a distant galaxy that lies 7 billion light-years away, meaning its light has taken that long to reach Earth. Thus, astronomers are seeing the galaxy as it existed 7 billion years ago. The telescope looked for special light features that reflect the absorption of methanol, a simple form of alcohol that contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. If the ratio of the mass of the protons and electrons inside those atoms were different than it is here and now in our own galaxy, the scientists would be able to detect this in the properties of the light. The exact measurement the used was parameters of special light features that reflect the absorption of methanol. In other words they actually looked at the laws and processes (light features due to absorption of methanol) involved and not the physical constant directly. In verifying that the physical constant of the ratio of the mass of a proton to the mass of an electron had not changed they actually measured the constancy of dependent laws and processes to show it.
Long story short: I don't want to change the article from an historical record of the debate on uniformitarianism, I just want to bring it up to date now that the question of spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws has finally been settled by extensive empirical evidence. Even the trusted source who is used for much of the article Stephen Jay Gould is quoted as saying (in the section 20th Century) he dismissed the first principle, which asserted spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws, as no longer an issue of debate as long ago as 1965. One would never know this was the ultimate outcome from the opening sentence of the article nor from the reading the section entitled "Epistemological status".Hal2k1 (talk) 06:24, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Bagdonaite, Julija; Jansen, Paul; Henkel, Christian; Bethlem, Hendrick L.; Menten, Karl M.; Ubachs, Wim (December 13, 2012). "A Stringent Limit on a Drifting Proton-to-Electron Mass Ratio from Alcohol in the Early Universe". Science. Bibcode:2013Sci...339...46B. doi:10.1126/science.1224898. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Moskowitz, Clara (December 13, 2012). "Phew! Universe's Constant Has Stayed Constant". Space.com. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 

Proposed new section 2 "Scientific status"[edit]

This article is very contentious in its claims, and it does not in any way represent the current scientific understanding of "the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes". I propose a new section to be added after the current section 1 "Epistemological status" which explains the "Scientific status". What follows is the proposed text:

When the original debate on the topic of uniformitarianism first opened up in the field of geology this was at that time by no means a settled question, and it was therefore entirely apt to describe the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes as an assumption. However the current scientific status of the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes is described by Steve Carlip in the short article entitled "Have physical constants changed with time?". Steve Carlip points out that the fundamental laws of physics, as we presently understand them, depend on about 25 parameters, such as Planck's constant h, the gravitational constant G, and the mass and charge of the electron. Over the past few decades, there have been extensive searches for evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." So far, these investigations have found no evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." To the best of our current ability to observe, the fundamental constants really are constant.

The natural processes depend on the natural laws, and the natural laws depend on the physical constants, and extensive searches for evidence of the spatial and temporal invariance of the physical constants have revealed no such variation has occurred.

So, despite the Epistemological position described in the previous section, the scientific position is that extensive empirical evidence has been collected to confirm the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes. It is common in philosophy to call the knowledge thus gained a posteriori knowledge. According to science the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes is a demonstrable postulate that can be and has been verified using scientific analysis.Hal2k1 (talk) 12:53, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

In the absence of any comment I have added the new section "Scientific status" and amended the opening sentence of the article to avoid conflicts:
When the original debate on the topic of uniformitarianism first opened up in the field of geology this was by no means a settled question, and at that time it was therefore entirely apt to describe the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes as an assumption. However the current scientific status of the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes is described by Steve Carlip in the short article entitled "Have physical constants changed with time?". Steve Carlip points out that the fundamental laws of physics, as we presently understand them, depend on about 25 parameters, such as Planck's constant h, the gravitational constant G, and the mass and charge of the electron. Over the past few decades, there have been extensive searches for evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." So far, these investigations have found no evidence of variation of fundamental "constants." To the best of our current ability to observe, the fundamental constants really are constant.
Hence the scientific status is that the spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws and processes is a demonstrable postulate that can be investigated, and has been verified via extensive empirical evidence and scientific analysis. It is common in philosophy to call knowledge gained via empirical evidence a posteriori knowledge.

Hal2k1 (talk) 04:40, 14 March 2016 (UTC)

From the wall of text above, please refer to the numerous times other editors have explained to you that the fundamental constants and uniformitarianism are two separate topics. If your source does not refer to uniformitarianism directly, using it to refute a reliable source counts as original research.217.38.88.255 (talk) 14:42, 8 September 2016 (UTC)
The opening sentence of this article says uniformitarianism is: "an assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe". The invariance or otherwise of the "natural laws and processes" is a scientific question. Science has investigated this exact question very thoroughly, and it has a mountain of evidence to support the current model which is nicely explained in the wikipedia article Chronology of the universe, section "Electroweak symmetry breaking and the quark epoch" where it says: At the end of this epoch, the fundamental interactions of gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong interaction and the weak interaction have now taken their present form. You cannot get more unequivocal than that. This position, on the exact topic as described in the opening sentence of the article, is most decidedly NOT original research. Science's position on the topic (as defined in the first sentence of the article) is astoundingly clear, and it is diametrically opposed to the position which is described (as if it were fact) in the section of this article entitled "Epistemological status". For reasons of WP:NPOV and WP:BALANCE where there is dissenting opinion from qualified credible sources then BOTH positions should be presented. Not just one, as you would have it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 11:20, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
PS: For more information on the science of the "same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe" you should perhaps familiarise yourself with the topic of the science of Cosmology. Note the particularly relevant quote at the end of the opening section: "Theoretical astrophysicist David N. Spergel has described cosmology as a "historical science" because "when we look out in space, we look back in time" due to the finite nature of the speed of light." Once again an eminently credible source which directly contradicts the claims within the section of this article entitled "Epistemological status". I point out that cosmology is not "original research". I point out again that for reasons of WP:NPOV and WP:BALANCE where there is dissenting opinion from qualified credible sources then BOTH positions should be presented. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 11:41, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
PPS: For more information on the actual scientific research of the "same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe" you should also read the Wikipedia articles on the topics of Physical cosmology and the Lambda-CDM model. This is not by any means original research, there are entire branches of physics which gather evidence that "the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe". Literally thousands upon thousands of scientists investigate this very topic as their entire career. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 12:28, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
All of this is still original research. Please be aware that there is a three revert rule for the number of times that you can revert changes to the article made by other editors. Watchman21 (talk) 19:20, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
This is most decidedly NOT original research. The Wikipedia article on Cosmology states: "Cosmology ... is the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scholarly and scientific study of the origin, evolution, large-scale structures and dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the scientific laws that govern these realities." What part of this are you not following? The entire topic of the spatial and temporal invariance of the natural laws and processes falls within the scope of Cosmology. The current model of Cosmology (Big Bang Cosmology) says that the laws assumed their current values shortly after the Big Bang. There is a mountain of evidence which supports this model. I am well aware that there is a three revert restriction, and you have reverted the perfectly valid section on "Scientific Status" a number of times already. Since you have created this violation of WP:NPOV and WP:BALANCE policies I expect you to now fix it, and reinstate the valid opposing viewpoint to the section on "Epistemological status". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 23:52, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Further to your allegation that my descriptions of the scientific empirical evidence for the time-invariance of natural laws and processes is "original research" and that uniformitarianism is a mere assumption and a priori knowledge you should be aware of the wikipedia article on the topic of Time-variation of fundamental constants. I quote from this article: "The term physical constant expresses the notion of a physical quantity subject to experimental measurement which is independent of the time or location of the experiment. The constancy (immutability) of any "physical constant" is thus subject to experimental verification." Further on "The immutability of these fundamental constants is an important cornerstone of the laws of physics as currently known; the postulate of the time-independence of physical laws is tied to that of the conservation of Energy (Noether theorem), so that the discovery of any variation would imply the discovery of a previously unknown law of force." The article then goes on to discuss a number of the a posteriori knowledge results from empirical evidence for the upper limits to any time-dependence of physical constants and the physical laws in which they are embedded. Full references are given at the end of the article. Once again I point out that uniformitarianism is NOT an assumption. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 11:12, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
You are confusing "natural laws and processes" described in uniformitarianism with "scientific laws". These are two different categories of knowledge, as this article describes: http://www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat/#H1
The former concerns a priori ideas like the metaphysics of causation or the ontology of time. It has nothing to do with the fundamental constants, which fall into the latter category and are based on a posteriori observations. Watchman21 (talk) 09:40, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

Epistemological status[edit]

I'm in favor of getting rid of this section of the essay. 1. I find the material attributed to Gould to be unnecessary. I even feel that the description of uniformitarianism as a priori knowledge to be an exaggeration. It isn't knowledge at all, but an assumption, one that can be tested against observations (and found to be wanting). 2. The material attributed to Gordon, that uniformitarianism is metaphysical is also exaggeration. Are all scientific theories metaphysical? Do we even need to get into that here? 3. The material attributed Simpson is confused, seeming to suggest that scientific postulates are "provable" like some sort of mathematical exercise. So, delete the whole section? Isambard Kingdom (talk) 13:12, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

I think explanation of some basic knowledge theory is appropriate here.
  1. Any proposition that is assumed to be true before observation is an priori proposition, by definition. Many of the WP:reliable sources underpin this concept quite clearly, and the concept permeates the article. Also, a priori knowledge is still knowledge, unless you are advocating some type of verificationism.
  2. Science and metaphysics are two different subjects. Uniformitarianism is metaphysics because it deals with knowledge or propositions that influence our understanding of the physical universe, but the knowledge it deals with is unverifiable through the empirical method.
  3. When Simpson states "unprovable", in this context, he is referring to the concept of verifiability as per the empirical method. His work presumes that the reader understands the truism that science doesn't deal with absolute proofs.Watchman21 (talk) 19:13, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, Watchman21. I suppose I am a subscriber to verificationism. I view the subject of uniformitarianism (or, indeed, catastrophism) in the practical context of geological science. Does uniformitarianism supply a useful perspective on actual geological observations? Right now, the article implies that uniformitarianism is not especially useful or accepted. Personally, I think that is simplistic. I would say that, lacking evidence to the contrary, it is a useful starting point for examining data, possibly data that only apply for a certain region or a certain period of time. It can serve as a null hypothesis, but in the end, if the data force us to reject it, then fine, we reject it. I don't see the utility in loading any of this up with concepts of knowledge or similar, but I imagine you and possibly other editors might see things differently. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 19:34, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

The article does hint at a consensus of some kind, in the statement: "this second a priori assumption, shared by the vast majority of scientists". It is hidden away in the prose of the article, though, and difficult to spot. Watchman21 (talk) 19:42, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
When you say "Any proposition that is assumed to be true before observation is an priori proposition, by definition" this is true, but it does not describe uniformitarianism if uniforitarianism is, as defined in the article, "the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe". There is now a vast amount of empirical evidence gathered by the science of cosmology (which is the branch of science concerned with this topic) which verifies that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have indeed always operated in the universe in the past and indeed do apply everywhere in the universe. ; When you say "a priori knowledge is still knowledge" this id debatable and may or may not be so, but the comment does not apply to uniformitariaism because (as it is defined in this article) this is a posteriori knowledge. There is a heap of evidence for it. When you say "Science and metaphysics are two different subjects" ... agreed. So? ; When you say "Uniformitarianism is metaphysics because it deals with knowledge or propositions that influence our understanding of the physical universe, but the knowledge it deals with is unverifiable through the empirical method" vehemently disagree, as does the science of cosmology a large part of which is all about exactly the task of verification of the invariance of the natural laws over all of time and space via empirical methods. ; When you say "When Simpson states "unprovable", in this context, he is referring to the concept of verifiability as per the empirical method" then I'm sorry but this interpretation makes Simpson quite wrong according to theoretical astrophysicist David Spergel who has described cosmology as a "historical science" because "when we look out in space, we look back in time" due to the finite nature of the speed of light. So without doubt there is an absolute divergence of view on this topic from an number of reliable sources. In such a case the Wikipedia policy of WP:BALANCE should doubtless apply. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 09:48, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
When you say: "I'm in favor of getting rid of this section of the essay. 1. I find the material attributed to Gould to be unnecessary. I even feel that the description of uniformitarianism as a priori knowledge to be an exaggeration. It isn't knowledge at all, but an assumption, one that can be tested against observations (and found to be wanting)" you should understand that uniformitarianism is neither an assumption nor a priori knowledge. If uniformitarianism is defined as "the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe" then this is not an assumption, it is a scientific question within the scope of the science of cosmology which has now gathered a signiificant amount of empirical evidence which verifies exactly this question. This makes the fact that "the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe" just as much a posteriori knowledge as any other well-substantiated finding of science. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 10:13, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
There is a now a new opening section and the section on Epistemological status has been removed. Mostly this is a good thing, but the opening section is still a long way from achieving a NPOV. The opening text still claims uniformitarianism is merely an assumption and now claims: "has also been used to describe spatiotemporal invariance of physical laws. Though an unprovable postulate that cannot be verified using the scientific method, uniformitarianism has been a key first principle of virtually all fields of science" The problem here is that the scientific method never attempts to "prove" anything. In science when a postulate is extensively tested and every single time, without exception, the same result is obtained, then the postulate becomes substantiated. If the postulate is the "spatiotemporal invariance of physical laws" this postulate has in recent decades become as well-substantiated as any many other accepted principles in science. The text of the opening paragraphs gives anything but this impression, and it is still light-years short of a NPOV. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 09:35, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
I have added the description "well substantiated" and provided a supporting link to address the lack of WP:BALANCE issue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.160.154.126 (talk) 12:32, 25 September 2016 (UTC)