Will A New Computational Method Resolve the Origins Debate?

I recently read about a new computational method put out by Penn State University. The hype about it is already hitting blogs and news outlets. However, the main details of this particular method of research will not be made public till the week of Sept 6, 2008. So for now, I’m going to refrain from commenting on this new method until further details are published, but in the meantime, I wanted to draw your attention to the hype.

The opening two sentences goes like this…

“Scientists at Penn State have developed a new computational method that they say will help them to understand how life began on Earth. The team’s method has the potential to trace the evolutionary histories of proteins all the way back to either cells or viruses, thus settling the debate once and for all over which of these life forms came first…”

Sounds like the evolutionary scientists know for sure this new method is going to work. A lot of confidence is displayed for this new method, right? Well not exactly, as one keeps reading…“We have just begun to tap the potential power of this method,” said Randen Patterson, a Penn State assistant professor of biology and one of the project’s leaders. “We believe, if it is possible at all, that it is within our grasp to determine whether viruses evolved from cells or vice-versa.”

I noticed some bloggers think the new method will for sure produce results too. Isn’t this the old argument, “Suppose Paul believes what he says. Therefore, Paul is not lying.” Circular reasoning is what I’m referring too. The problem with predicting something will happen (understanding origins) when in fact they don’t know, is nothing more than trying to justify grant money.

Computer models have a hard time predicting the weather seven days or more in advance, especially such weather activities as hurricanes. We seen the track of the most recent hurricane activity which was Hurricane Gustav. On Saturday afternoon, the hurricane looked pretty huge and dangerous as it packed very high winds up to 150 mile per hour and was headed straight for New Orleans. Then without notice, Hurricane Gustav went from juggernaut to a relatively small hurricane, a category two.

Indeed, it was a great relief, but the story was enormously hyped up because of past mistakes. Nobody knew for sure, not even the computer models knew what the impact of the hurricane would be. This leads me back to the story of the latest computational method. I do give the scientists credit for revealing their true thoughts about how reliable they think the research might be, but certainly not the hype being in the introduction, which I deem to be misleading. A typical sign of fraud research hype for fame and grant money using circular reasoning.

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