Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When Evolution Gets Used As A Club

Lately I have been noticing people confusing evolution with science. Now, there is some very sciency evolution that goes on in petri dishes and is very well documented, and that is all good. I'm not talking about that sort of evolution. I am talking about a narrative.
Some of the narrative is sciency too. It is surprising what we can pull out of the ground and find as evidence.

But, since we weren't there, can't observe and don't have evidence for everything, we develop a narrative- hopefully it is the best guess we've got- though we have various folk saying the mainstream has it wrong- I forget, was there an aquatic ape, or wasn't there? Do some humans have neanderthal dna, or is that all a bunch of hogwash?

Anyway, in nutrition, the evolutionary narrative is pretty helpful. We can develop hypothesis and test them- with this other awesomely sciency thing called a biological experiment.

Now this is happening quietly, and in many cases we've got to scrimp around because we don't have enough money. I am reasonably sure that early paleo diet researchers got their sodium recommendations wrong because I and a few others got all weird and wobbly until we upped the sodium. Then I remembered how deer act at salt licks and realized perhaps analyzing the sodium content of paleo foods was the wrong way way of thinking about it. It was a good guess based on the evolutionary narrative, but it was a guess that turned out not to be true based on biology- my biology at least, though I think I've heard of a paper or two that isn't down with the current anti-salt mainstream.

And, in a larger sense, the paleo dieters themselves end up being a proof. A complete and utter creationist can notice that I have lost weight. He doesn't need to believe in evolution- he need not have faith, he has evidence. He may even sit down with his bible, if he wants to, and find out that Eden doesn't have to be interpreted as a vegan paradise.

So, when is evolution being used as a club? When the evolutionary narrative is used to shut down rather than encourage research. Think about using the historical narrative- we know, I hope, that we can't use history as an experiment. There is no control. We can't go back into time and rerun the experiment again, keeping everything static except for one variable. Yet people who purport to believe in evolution often do this. It seems to be the entire reason why they bring the issue up.

What it really ends up coming down to is another argument from consensus. Funnily enough the same foolishness exists in the consensus driven climate alarmism, only in this case computer models are used to simulate going back and forth in time. They assume this proves something, regardless of various and sundry people who point out other things (for instance, variations in sun activity) make a lot more sense of the data than their silly models.

There are now people who basically deserve to be called paleo-nazis, running around shouting that people must believe, blythely making claims about the state of scientific inquiry, and it turns out they are full of it.  The research hasn't been done.  I really wish they'd leave the people who are actually trying alone.

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