September 20, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Interpretation Must Not Outrun Evidence

Here’s a funny story about scientific interpretation of evidence.

Note: From September 7 to 23, new articles on CEH will be sparse or non-existent while the Editor is on travel and speaking. Thanks for your patience.

To hold your attention during this hiatus and provide entertainment, here is a funny story with a moral. It was taken from our soon-to-be refurbished CEH Humor page.

All Sheep in Scotland Are Black

A psychologist, a biologist, a mathematician, and a physicist were riding a train through the Scottish countryside. Looking out the window, they all noticed a lone black sheep on a hill. The psychologist intoned, “Well, what do you know. I didn’t realize the sheep in Scotland were black.” The biologist corrected him, saying, “You don’t know that all the sheep in Scotland are black – just some of them.” Piping in, the mathematician retorted, “Tut, tut, tut, to be correct you must say, ‘At least one’ sheep in Scotland is black.”

The physicist had the last word, though, stating, “Gentlemen, all we know with certainty based on our observations is that at least one sheep in Scotland is black on at least one side, at least part of the time.”

Moral:  There are hard and soft sciences, and extrapolation is not always justified.

Application: Microevolution vs. macroevolution

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Categories: Philosophy of Science

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