August 3, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionary Models Are Unreliable

Evolutionists find that models and assumptions in which they placed their trust are unreliable and unscientific.

Several articles and papers this week show that models of evolutionary theory are worthless or seriously flawed. Have Darwinians been leaning on a broken reed that pierces the hand of the one who trusts in it?

1. Unreliable Phylogenies

Tom Bethell, Darwin's House of Cards (2017)

Bethell’s book blows down the castle Darwin built.

Phylogenies of extant species are consistent with an infinite array of diversification histories (Louca and Pennell, bioRxiv). When proposing a theory, you would like to narrow it down to one or a few possibilities. If you can generate an infinite number of theories from the same data set (this is known as ‘underdetermination of theory by data’), you’re in trouble: you haven’t explained anything. This preprint implies that’s what has been going on in evolutionary circles as Darwinians rely on untested methods to figure out evolutionary relationships from living species.

Time-calibrated molecular phylogenies of extant species (“extant timetrees”) are widely used for estimating the dynamics of speciation and extinction rates and reconstructing macroevolutionary events such as mass extinctions. However, there has been considerable debate surrounding the reliability of these inferences in the absence of fossil data, and to date this critical question remains unresolved. Here we mathematically clarify the precise information that can be extracted from extant timetrees under the generalized birth-death model, which underlies the majority of existing estimation methods. We prove that for a given extant timetree and a candidate diversification scenario, there exists an infinite number of alternative diversification scenarios that are equally likely to have generated a given tree. These “congruent” scenarios cannot possibly be distinguished using extant timetrees alone, even in the presence of infinite data. Importantly, congruent diversification scenarios can exhibit markedly different diversification dynamics, suggesting that many previous studies may have over-interpreted phylogenetic evidence.

Louca and Pennell think they have a solution: compare sets of congruent models: “We advocate a shift from thinking about specific diversification scenarios to considering classes of multiple congruent scenarios, and show how such an approach can provide a deeper and more robust view of the processes that shape diversity through time.” Perhaps it can. But does it? If individual scenarios are unreliable, then how can classes of unreliable scenarios be reliable? If nothing else, the inferences that evolutionists have been making since Darwin need a “shift from thinking” from unreliable methods. That means everything taught along this line of inference has been unreliable for 160 years!

2. Unreliable Hypotheses

Automatic generation of evolutionary hypotheses using mixed Gaussian phylogenetic models (Mitov, Bartoszek, and Stadler, PNAS). Similar to the previous case, this paper shows that commonly used methods to produce evolutionary hypotheses are unreliable:

Phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) are used to study the evolution of various biological species, ranging from microorganisms to animals and plants. These methods combine trait measurements, such as body masses measured in a set of species, with the species’ phylogenetic tree, to quantify the trait’s evolution along the tree. Here, we show that current PCMs fail to reproduce the patterns of evolution of brain and body mass in mammals, because they use mathematical models that cannot represent the heterogeneity of the evolutionary processes acting in different lineages of the tree. As a solution, we propose mixed Gaussian phylogenetic models allowing one to infer changes in the type and magnitude of evolutionary forces occurring on specific branches of the tree.

Again, they propose a solution — but too late. The old PCMs, trusted in for decades, are unreliable! But it’s not clear how the solution improves the situation. Are the “type and magnitude of evolutionary forces” really that flexible? The solution, in effect, just gives an evolutionists more knobs to turn and factors to tweak to get the result they want. Then how does Darwinism even qualify as a scientific theory?

Humpty Darwin sits on a wall of foam bricks held together by decayed mortar. Cartoon by Brett Miller commissioned for CEH. All rights reserved.

3. Unreliable Gold Standards

Study casts doubt on evidence for ‘gold standard’ psychological treatments (Science Daily). All secular psychologists are uniformly Darwinian in their assumptions. Now, this article says that they, too, have been trusting in unreliable assumptions. A study at University of Kansas finds that correlations between theories and practices have been “concerningly low” —

A paper appearing today in a special edition of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology questions much of the statistical evidence underpinning therapies designated as “Empirically Supported Treatments,” or ESTs, by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association.

For years, ESTs have represented a “gold standard” in research-supported psychotherapies for conditions like depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. But recent concerns about the replicability of research findings in clinical psychology prompted the re-examination of their evidence.

The authors of the study do their best to rescue some reliability from the results, but conclude that “This is a system-level issue” afflicting their field. They can only hope that it will get better. But what about the patients who have suffered from false hope in the unreliable treatments of their therapists? Would they have gotten better on their own? Would religious counselors have been just as good or better? It’s enough to give one depression to think that fake healers made a living at unverifiable “science.”

4. Unreliable Purpose in Life

The purpose of life: why the textbook needs an update ( Biology is full of examples of creatures that forego their own fitness for the fitness of others: e.g., why worker bees work themselves to death without mating. Evolutionists have long attempted to explain this very un-Darwinian conundrum by appealing to Hamilton’s theory of inclusive fitness: helping my peer group helps the species. A new study “challenges decades-old ideas about evolution, and why animals behave as they do.” Hamilton thought that helping relatives helps the species:

However, a stumbling block in Hamilton’s theory was its claim that an individual’s inclusive fitness should exclude any offspring produced with help from others.

Professor Jennions and his co-author Dr. Lutz Fromhage from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland say this is unfeasible in most real-world situations.

A video clip ends with a funny multiple-choice question for students of evolutionary biology learning Hamilton’s theory. “To calculate the queen’s inclusive fitness, should you ignore the offspring she produces due to her workers’ help?” Choose the following: A. Yes. B. No. C. “WHAT KIND OF DUMB QUESTION IS THIS?”

5. Unreliable Evolutionists

Is reality real? How evolution blinds us to the truth about the world (Donald Hoffman, New Scientist). This is the worst of the lot. Hoffman shows that the mind of the evolutionary scientist itself is unreliable! Investigating ‘evolutionary epistemology’ (how we know what we know, if evolution were true), Hoffman cannot extricate himself and his peers from Darwin’s “horrid doubt” (see Darwin’s letter to William Graham, 1871). If we cannot trust our senses to correspond to the external world, then one cannot get from Darwinian assumptions to objective reality.

This assumption is central to how we think about ourselves and the world. But is it valid? Experiments my collaborators and I have performed to test the form of sensory perception that evolution has given us suggest a startling conclusion: it isn’t. It leads to a crazy-sounding conclusion, that we may all be gripped by a collective delusion about the nature of the material world. If that is correct, it could have ramifications across the breadth of science – from how consciousness arises to the nature of quantum weirdness to the shape of a future “theory of everything”. Reality may never seem the same again.

[Let not Hoffman pull the rest of us into his “collective delusion” with a Tontological assertion.] Hoffman tries to rescue his concept of objective reality by using game theory. He proposes that evolution needed to give creatures reliable senses in order to survive. But that cannot solve the problem. Many things in life are not connected with survival (art, friendship, logical reasoning), but we trust our thoughts about them anyway. Indeed, the practice of science itself, replete with abstract concepts and mathematics, often has nothing to do with survival. Hoffman’s own appeal to game theory is an exercise in abstract reasoning. “Natural selection has given us sensory systems that are a simplifying user interface for the complexity of the world,” he says. But how could he possibly know that is true without assuming what he needs to prove? Natural selection (the Stuff Happens Law) could just as likely have rendered our senses to fool us into living in a fantasy world of endless delusions.

Hoffman ends by raising additional questions about his own solution, ending with unreliable hopes. “So how can we break through our subjective perception and find objective reality? I don’t know,” he admits. He just hopes science will figure it out some day.

We hope by reading this article that you have been confirmed in your faith in evolution, the most simplistic, illogical, unrealistic, unreliable, and yet dogmatic, intolerant, totalitarian theory in the history of science. May King Charlie bless you and keep you [ignorant].

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