Fractured physics and the death of Darwin

I’ve been paying closer attention to the LHC experiment than I normally would because I’m very curious to see how stubbornly scientists will cling to theories should they be proven outmoded by the very experiments designed to support them:

ormer Harvard professor Shahriar Afshar said that failure to find the particle would bring current scientific theory tumbling down like a house of cards with nothing to replace it. The controversial physicist, whose Afshar experiment has already found a loophole in quantum theory, said that unless the scienitific community starts contemplating a “plan B”, failure could lead to “chaos and infighting”.

He said failure will undermine more than a hundred years of scientific theory and undermine some of the mainstays of sceintific thinking, the Standard Model, a general theory of how particles fit together to create matter.

I’ve also found it to be interesting how in physics – real science – there is very little, if any, of the defensive and irrational babbling often heard from true-believing TENS advocates about how a lack of an alternative theory somehow justifies the continued use of a theory already known to be intrinsically flawed. It is usually easier to show that a suggested answer is incorrect than it is to come up with a plausible alternative answer, and it should not be forgotten that through eliminating false pathways, negative results also represent scientific advancement.

As I have consistently suggested, TENS is not only a predictively useless model, but a scientifically flimsy one as well. In fact, it is looking increasingly likely that it will be abandoned by the scientific consensus during our lifetimes. Once I began studying the subject, it was immediately obvious to me that critics had been focusing on the less vulnerable parts of the theory from the start; it is the natural selection element that has even less reliable scientific evidence to support it than speciation or the concept of evolution itself.

Consider the results of some of the first methodical scientific research into the natural selection hypothesis:

The new research, carried out by Mark Pagel and colleagues at the University of Reading, in England, studied 101 groups of plant and animal species and analyzed the lengths of branches in the evolutionary trees of thousands of species within these groups. The lengths of the branches are a measure of the time elapsed between two species branching off.

The researchers then compared four models of speciation to determine which best accounted for the rate of speciation actually found. The Red Queen hypothesis, of species arising as a result of an accumulation of small changes, fitted only eight percent of the evolutionary trees. A model in which species arise from single rare events fitted eighty percent of the trees.

Dr Pagel said that the research shows speciation is the result of rare events in the environment, such as genetic mutations, a shift in climate, or a mountain range rising up. Over the long term new species are formed at a constant rate, rather than the variable rate Pagel’s team expected, but the constant rates are different for different groups of species.

The work suggests that natural selection may not be the cause of speciation, which Pagel said “really goes against the grain” for scientists who have a Darwinian view of evolution. The model that provided the best fit for the data is surprisingly incompatible with the idea that speciation is a result of many small small events,

Now, this research deals with the matter of natural selection’s time scale rather than its existence, but nevertheless underlines my point that the natural selection hypothesis has always been logic, not science. The fact that it is difficult and dangerous to paint grizzly bears pink in order to see if they breed less successfully doesn’t change the fact that no one has ever tested the widespread assumption of why polar bears are white. And while the jury is still out on both matters, the exposed cracks in the major theories naturally leads to a philosophical question: since the foundations of both modern physics and modern Darwinism appear to be wobbling, what is the basis for considering materialism to be rational given such demonstrably flawed understandings of what the material happens to be?