Evolution affirms the Consequent

  1. Affirming the Consequent is a logical fallacy that takes a known true statement [if P then Q] and invalidly concludes its converse [if Q then P]:
    1. If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then Bill Gates is rich. Bill Gates is rich. Therefore, Bill Gates owns Fort Knox. False!
    2. If an animal is a dog, then it has four legs. My cat has four legs. Therefore, my cat is a dog. False!
    3. If it’s raining, then the streets are wet. The streets are wet. Therefore it’s raining. False! It could be raining or it could be something else. The “therefore” claim is false.
  2. How does ‘Affirming the consequent’ apply to evolution? We have not observed “evolution”. No one has, and no one will, despite the effort (see LTEE). What was observed is Resemblance, the Birth Mechanism, Variability and Adaptability. Neither of these (even combined) can logically be extrapolated to “evolution”, namely the hypothesized transmutation of one type of organism into another. Proofs of “evolution” always take the form: If “evolution” is true, then XYZ is true. XYZ is true. Therefore “evolution” is true. This is a classical Affirming the Consequent logical fallacy.
  3. Let’s see some concrete examples of “proof of evolution” fallacies:
    • If “evolution” is true, some fossils are ancestors of and therefore resemble existing organisms. Fossils resemble one another and existing organisms. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument fails because there will always be some resemblance between two or more entities (even chairs and cats have four legs in general). Also, a fossil can always be from an unrelated branch of the “tree of life” which circularly presupposes “evolution” anyway.
    • If “evolution” is true, organisms are genetically similar. Organisms are genetically similar. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument is false because other hypotheses such as common design account for genetic similarities just as well.
    • If “evolution” is true, one might expect common embryology. Similar organisms have similar embryology. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because embryology is expected to match genetics and morphology, hence the previous counterargument applies.
    • If “evolution” is true, one might expect vestigial organs. What looks like vestigial organs can be observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because what if those organs are useful rather that “vestigial”? And why would “evolution” not do away with “vestigial” organs as soon as they become useless? In sum, why can’t these organs have another reason or origin than “evolution”?
    • If “evolution” is true, one expects adaptability such as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because adaptabilities such as antibiotic resistance are compatible with other hypotheses, not just “evolution”. In addition, antibiotic resistance is ubiquitous, limited, reversible, and never observed to result in organism transmutation aka “evolution”.
  4. How can “proofs of evolution” avoid the ‘Affirming the Consequent’ logical fallacy? Direct confirmation of “evolution” is unlikely as shown by the LTEE study. Alternatively, an observation that is true for “evolution” and only for “evolution” might also work. In other words, what’s missing from all the examples above is a true statement of the kind: “only if evolution is true, then XYZ”. Of course, excluding all alternatives to “evolution” is an impossible task therefore, given that Intelligent Design is the main rival, proponents of “evolution” need only add a true statement of the kind: “if Intelligent Design is true, then XYZ is not true” to turn their invalid arguments into valid ones. But even this lower bar cannot be met by “evolution” proponents, thus making all “proofs of evolution” invalid.
  5. Isn’t then all science ‘Affirming the Consequent’? For example, “if Newtonian physics is true, a ball thrown at angle Theta and speed V will land D meters away. The experiment is carried out, and we find that the ball landed distance D away. Therefor physics is true.” No! This is not a fallacy because it meets the “if and only if” requirement and is limited to “everything else equal” cases. Rockets do not disprove this claim because everything else is not equal between them and thrown inactive projectiles. In addition, no one claims a single experiment confirms all Newtonian Mechanics the way “proofs of evolution” are presented. In this case, multiple combinations of Angles and Speed result in the same Distance without violating Newtonian Mechanics because this experiment proves only portions of the theory.

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent

https://www.amazon.com/Biblical-Wisdom-Literature-Joseph-Koterski/dp/1598035258

http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/

766 thoughts on “Evolution affirms the Consequent

  1. Allan Miller: Nonlin.org: Only as far as you know. And it doesn’t matter. You are not PROVING independence. this was discussed at length with Falsenstein that also doesn’t understand that ‘independence’ MUST be demonstrated, not just assumed.

    What reason – unless one was a gibbering clueless numbskull, that is – would one have for thinking that, if one has not PROVEN that not every single gene is involved in morphology, then every single gene IS involved in morphology? I mean, have you PROVEN that assumption?

    It’s a stretch, I can tell you.

    How do we account for the fact that polymorphisms can only rarely be detected by morphological investigation? Huh?

    Whatever you’re trying to say, you’re not proving gene independence. Nor will you ever do so.

  2. DNA_Jock: I even drafted a comment asking him about how broken olfactory receptor genes are dependent on morphology, but then I figured “What’s the point?”

    Yeah, what’s the point?

    DNA_Jock: I did enjoy nonlin claiming credit for the switch from P1 + P3 => C1 (the fallacy of affirming the consequent) to P2 + P3 => C1 (modus tollens).

    What’s a “switch” in this context?

    Allan Miller: And (says nonlin) every single protein I pick, at random, has differences vital not only for primary function but for the morphological distinctions at each taxonomic level, and is not in any way to be considered due to Common Descent.

    You’re misquoting. How does ‘morphology’ tie into ‘affirming the consequent’?

    Allan Miller: Another aspect to consider here is synteny – the order of genes on chromosomes. It’s vital for morphology, according to The Nonlin View, that whole chunks of chromosome in the rat be translocated in the mouse, and even more scrambled in the bat.

    Misquoting again. Seriously dude, go see a doctor (and not the evolutionary kind).

    And once again, for those struck by Alzheimer, the topic is ‘evolution affirms the consequent’.

  3. Nonlin.org,

    Whatever you’re trying to say, you’re not proving gene independence. Nor will you ever do so.

    So you are taking the view that, unless I ‘prove’ independence (from morphology, I presume), we must take it it that morphology is dependent on every gene? That is, like I say, a stretch. Why would we take this position, as scientists – unless we had a conclusion we wanted the inconvenient data to fit, that is?

    What you are implying here – I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse you of stating; that would require clarity – is that every functional gene is pleiotropic (has more than one effect), and that every nonfunctional gene still affects morphology, even if untranslated. There is no warrant for this.

  4. Nonlin.org: How does ‘morphology’ tie into ‘affirming the consequent’?

    I’d hope you could work it out for yourself, but it’s readily reducible to a syllogism such as those – ahem – “quoted” in your OP:
    ‘if “evolution” is true, we would expect non-morphological genes to follow a similar hierarchy to morphology. They do, therefore yadda yadda”.

    Misquoting again.

    Where’s the quote? It is a corollary of your viewpoint. If you think all aspects of the genome are EXPECTED (your word, complete with caps) to follow morphology, then synteny must be included. If you don’t think this, fair enough – in which case you have some ‘splainin’ to do vis à vis synteny.

    And once again, for those struck by Alzheimer, the topic is ‘evolution affirms the consequent’.

    But must not include any analysis of the actual nature of evolutionary thinking. Gotcha.

    See you in a fortnight.

  5. Allan Miller: So you are taking the view that, unless I ‘prove’ independence (from morphology, I presume), we must take it it that morphology is dependent on every gene?

    Logic 101: if your argument is dependent on a certain assumption, then said assumption must be proven for your argument to be valid. If your argument were predicated on “genes dependent”, then you would have had to prove that assumption instead.

    No biggie, but I believe the argument is not just “from morphology”, but “from morphology and one another”.

  6. Allan Miller: I’d hope you could work it out for yourself, but it’s readily reducible to a syllogism such as those – ahem – “quoted” in your OP:
    ‘if “evolution” is true, we would expect non-morphological genes to follow a similar hierarchy to morphology. They do, therefore yadda yadda”.

    You’re anchoring too much on “morphology”.

    Allan Miller: Where’s the quote? It is a corollary of your viewpoint. If you think all aspects of the genome are EXPECTED (your word, complete with caps) to follow morphology, then synteny must be included. If you don’t think this, fair enough – in which case you have some ‘splainin’ to do vis à vis synteny.

    I’ll write the corollary to my viewpoints. There are many problems with your argument, of which ONLY ONE is that genes (and morphology) are likely not at all independent of each other.

    Now, if any certain gene version is EXCLUSIVELY present in a certain morphology and 100% correlated with other genes also present in the same morphology, the SANE assumption is that they are not at all independent of each other and said morphology.

    Allan Miller: But must not include any analysis of the actual nature of evolutionary thinking. Gotcha.

    Remember, you’re trying to prove “if and only if”, but don’t seem to make any progress. Focus!

  7. Nonlin.org: Logic 101: if your argument is dependent on a certain assumption, then said assumption must be proven for your argument to be valid. If your argument were predicated on “genes dependent”, then you would have had to prove that assumption instead.

    Rather shot yourself in the foot there. If your argument depends on there being a link between every gene and morphology, you need to prove that assumption, by your own logic.

    Logic 102: it only needs one ‘black swan’. You are the one declaring that every gene IS involved in morphology. It’s the only way you can continue to wave away the correlation of every gene, plus every intron and intergenic sequence, with the Linnaean hierarchy. You haven’t proven it; you have simply declared it. So do you have any supporting evidence of this link, beyond desperation to avoid following the data where it apparently leads?

    So, is synteny (for example) a black swan? Does the morphology of an organism depend on the precise arrangement of genes on the chromosomes? If that is the case, what are we to make of the morphologically indistinguishable translocations present in pretty much every population examined? The same argument could be advanced for any phenotypically invisible polymorphism.

    No biggie, but I believe the argument is not just “from morphology”, but “from morphology and from one another”.

    Nope. Your argument is simply about dependence on morphology. Clearly, on a common descent scenario, at a fundamental level, no genes are independent from others in the same genome. On a design scenario otoh, it’s not clear why genes, untranscribed intergenes and untranslated intragenes should correlate in the way they do. Which is +1 for Common Descent, unless you can waffle up a reason.

  8. Allan Miller: If your argument depends on there being a link between every gene and mophology, you need to prove that assumption, by your own logic.

    Yes, only I am not making such arguments. I am shutting down your argument. Remember, you’re the one trying to make a case for “if and only if” to avoid the “affirming the consequent” fallacy.

    Allan Miller: You are the one declaring that every gene IS involved in morphology.

    False.

  9. Nonlin.org: Yes, only I am not making such arguments. I am shutting down your argument. Remember, you’re the one trying to make a case for “if and only if” to avoid the “affirming the consequent” fallacy.

    Genetics follows the Linnaean hierarchy, even outside of exons. Common Descent explains that. No alternative does. Therefore the explanation to be preferred would appear to be Common Descent.

    If you are trying to ‘shut down’ the Common Descent hypothesis, there must be something else that gives rise to the pattern observed. What is it?

    False.

    True. Ahem: “genetics is EXPECTED to follow morphology”.

    That is a clear, and falsifiable statement. And it is readily falsified: we see many phenotypically indistinguishable variants.

  10. P1: If common descent were true, we would observe consilient hierarchies.
    P2: If common descent were not true, we would not observe consilient hierarchies.
    non-lin’s “if and only if” logic is “If P1 and P2, then”…
    IMO, P1 is nothing like as robust as P2; we could easily fail to find consilient hierarchies for a number of reasons: if the mutation rate were too high, or the selection coefficients were universally high, then the phylogeny signal could get erased. It doesn’t.
    non-lin is fighting a rearguard action against P2, claiming that he has an alternative, non-common-descent, explanation for why we should see an ONH: “morphology”.
    Doesn’t work for synteny, nor for broken genes. No matter.
    Although I did enjoy this:

    Logic 101: if your argument is dependent on a certain assumption, then said assumption must be proven for your argument to be valid.

    Err, no. You are, yet again, confusing Validity and Soundness.

  11. Allan Miller: Genetics follows the Linnaean hierarchy, even outside of exons.

    As expected by all SANE people.

    Allan Miller: Common Descent explains that. No alternative does.

    1. No “explanation” is needed – it’s common sense.
    2. How is “common descent” the one and only “explanation” especially given 1.?

    Allan Miller: “genetics is EXPECTED to follow morphology”.

    That is a clear, and falsifiable statement. And it is readily falsified: we see many phenotypically indistinguishable variants.

    You’re not making any sense. How are “phenotypically indistinguishable variants” invalidating “genetics is EXPECTED to MATCH (not “follow”) morphology”?!?

  12. DNA_Jock: non-lin is fighting a rearguard action against P2, claiming that he has an alternative, non-common-descent, explanation for why we should see an ONH: “morphology”.

    This is insane. I don’t have to disprove your argument. You have to PROVE it. And you’re failing. Try again: “if and only if”!

    DNA_Jock: You are, yet again, confusing Validity and Soundness.

    Okay, grammar nazi. I will continue to use “valid” for both. Happy?

  13. Allan Miller: Genetics follows the Linnaean hierarchy, even outside of exons.

    Nonlin: As expected by all SANE people.

    Huh? Why should the entirety of regions neither transcribed, translated nor bound affect morphology? What’s the mechanism by which they exert this effect? Any idea? Or are you just making stuff up to evade a perfectly valid explanation of the pattern? Smacks of desperation.

    Allan Miller: Common Descent explains that. No alternative does.

    Nonlin: 1. No “explanation” is needed – it’s common sense.

    Ah yes, the ‘right thinking people’ gambit. Let’s ask people on a bus what they think, and fuck geneticists.

    2. How is “common descent” the one and only “explanation” especially given 1.?

    Only common descent explains the pattern in regions not even transcribed or translated. Or, explain how such regions – all of them – affect morphology. Then explain within-population genetic variation which has no effect on morphology.

    Allan Miller (misquoting nonlin): “genetics is EXPECTED to follow morphology”.

    That is a clear, and falsifiable statement. And it is readily falsified: we see many phenotypically indistinguishable variants.

    Nonlin: You’re not making any sense. How are “phenotypically indistinguishable variants” invalidating “genetics is EXPECTED to MATCH (not “follow”) morphology”?!?

    I’m not making sense largely because you haven’t got a fucking clue about the subject you are discussing. If there are genetic variants that are phenotypically indistinguishable, then they clearly aren’t differentially influencing morphology. Differences in morphology are not due to those genes. Therefore your expectation is falsified.

  14. What about the morphology of a bacterium? There’s not a huge amount to it. Are we to suppose that two genetic variants which produce identical proteins have differences that nonetheless affect bacterial morphology in some indeterminate manner?

    That being so, when epidemiologists use such differences to track back a pathogen to its source, what are they actually seeing? They can’t be doing what they think they’re doing.

    That’s epidemiology dismissed as a discipline, then. What’s next? Forensic DNA testing? Genealogy?

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