Sunday, April 04, 2010
  Skeptical on one theory, faithful on another

Commenters at WUWT, mostly self-selected skeptics on the elite theory of Global Warming, showed an interesting failure of skepticism on the elite theory of Evolution.

The article in question was an observation of toads moving to new locations a few days before a serious quake. Some of the commenters showed an appropriate scientific attitude, but most were blinded by the conventional theory of evolution.

Example of the latter:
so, where would the toads go? I mean, they can’t go far enough to get away from the quake, so what’s the point? not saying that there’s not a biological change in behavior, but I can’t see that “fleeing” is an evolved response to quakes.

thus the behavior, while interesting, may not have much usefulness to earthquake prediction. If other events, which ARE an evolved response, also result in an earthquake prediction response, all the other events will yield false alarms for earthquakes, thus limiting usefulness for earthquake prediction.

on the other hand, maybe they didn’t “flee” but rather went far underground where it’s, presumably, safer from falling debris, etc. THAT could be an evolved response with some utility.

of course, this requires that quakes occurred frequently enough that the “hide” mutation would be selected because the “not hide” toads would be killed, which sounds unlikely because quakes are uncommon events for any particular locale.


In other words, earthquake sensing can't be possible because it couldn't have evolved by random natural selection of mutations.

Nevertheless, earthquake sensing is a FACT, even if not a well-explored or explained fact. There are plenty of reliable observations in animals and humans.

When fact and theory conflict, you have to change the theory. You can't let your religious faith in the theory blind you to the facts, or prevent you from thinking about the facts. This is equally true of global warming and evolution.

= = = = =

Sidenote: Going underground is emphatically the wrong way to prepare for a quake, and it isn't what animals do. "Falling debris" comes from manmade buildings, so there shouldn't be a natural reason to avoid it. Caves and tunnels do collapse in quakes, so there should be a natural reason to avoid them.

In general, it appears that animals just "go elsewhere." Perhaps the magnetic sensors in their brains are disturbed by the low-freq radio waves that precede the quake, and perhaps they travel until the discomfort from the waves falls below a threshold level. (This theory could be tested experimentally using manmade VLF waves of the same freq and intensity as the natural pre-quake waves.)

= = = = =

Sidenote 2: Reminds me of something that happened in 1970. Several of us hippie types had taken up spelunking for unremembered reasons. (I guess one way to risk your "invulnerable" body and use up testosterone is as good as another.) We were exploring a set of caves in the Glass Mountains of Oklahoma. As we were preparing for the next cave, Larry had a terrible dream about getting stuck, and strongly advised us to stop. Amazingly we took his advice. Sure enough, on the day we had planned for the next expedition, a very rare earthquake shook that part of Oklahoma.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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