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SarahMalayaSniezek's picture

Presuming the most probable to be the truth

Last week I briefly discussed how Mayr treats the most probable explanation based on science, as if it were the truth, and would like to expand on the implications of using such a method.   First off, this really is the only logical method for explaining something as complex, and historical as evolution.  With very little hard evidence that provides only speculation toward the truth, we can only use that evidence to find the most reasonable (probable) explanation.  


That said, certain evidence could very easily be misinterpreted, leading the majority of academia to supporting something that is entirely wrong.   While we know that this has occurred before (such as the historical belief that the human heart was responsible for cogitation), and will continue to occur, the nature of the evolution story makes it much more prone to error, and more importantly, more prone to an error being mistaken for truth for a longer period of time.  By its nature, I mean that the evolution story is not something that we can study first hand, we can only study the evolution story through studying other biological topics, then apply what we learn from that to the creation of an evolution story.   For example, scientists believe that eukaryotes were formed from a symbiotic relationship between two prokaryotes, eventually forming into a mitochondria.   The sole basis of this argument lies in the fact that mitochondria use a different genetic code than the rest of the cell.  While this inference is perfectly logical, and highly probably, if it is not correct, it becomes extremely difficult to refute.   In this sense, I feel that when studying evolution we could find new evidence, and make a presumption through the logic of probability, thinking that we are getting something less wrong, when in fact our inference is incorrect and we are getting something more wrong.   Moreover, even if we are 99% sure that all assertions we make from evidence are correct, if we have 100 such pieces of evidence, it is likely that one is wrong.   It could very well be that that one assertion, if incorrect, could completely change the entire argument built upon the other 99 pieces of evidence.  Therefore, in evolution we can never be satisfied with any aspect of the story, we must challenge everything at all times, even the most probable.


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