I cannot help but speculate that far more gene transfers have occurred between species of flora and fauna than anyone has been able to trace.Â Not only to the same genes produce different results in other species, as the article indicates, but sometimes similar traits as well.
Sometimes there is a tendency to take a beautiful theoretical model and attempt to fit everything to it.Â I most emphatically do support the contention that studies of progressive changes among specimens all the way back to where no further evidence of any living thing can be traced.Â Also, I am an avid believer in dating techniques and especially cross-support between differing dating techniques.Â I have at least one credibility problem, however, with explaining things away.Â The details of why are so abundant that I won't even try to give examples here.Â There are those who -- if not among serious, self-examining, truly objective researchers in the bio-sciences and archeologists and bio-chemists and such -- then certainly among many teachers of science, and many pop-science writers, and many who perceive themselves to be science literate - who believe they need look no farther than the latest updated and upgraded Darwinian model to "explain away" why some species have certain particular traits in common, or have certain particular gene groups in common albeit expressing in different ways.Â They simply come from a common ancestor.
Why would i disagree with that?Â I wouldn't.Â I have no empirical basis on which to contest it.Â It could be precisely so.Â But I do reserve a certain amount of skepticism as to whether it is science (which to me entails being at least more objective than to mistake a good fit with a good generalized theory for "knowlege."Â
Elsewhere I have tried to make a more exhaustive argumentation for the fact that much in science is circumstantial evidence, and that (as was so brilliantly argued from many sides during the Science Wars of the nineties) much that we take on belief in science, and about science, is "convenient" interpretation of that circumstantial evidence and not "knowledge certain;" but it is "the best and most usable sense we can make of the data we have up to now."
It can be argued that it is certainly a very convenient and usable theory, for example, that all life on Earth began with one species or at most a handful, and that everyting today descended from that one, or those few.Â Fine.Â I have no problem accepting that as a WORKING HYPOTHESIS.Â But I have a problem with its being
taught as scientifically ascertainedÂ Such a teaching is nothing short of dogma.
And one of my pet personal beliefs is that dogma is not science and science is not dogma... and that it is abundantly fair and reasonable and practical to go on the assumption, or even on the presumption, that it is okay to believe things we cannot prove for a certainty.Â We only get unscientific, in my humble opinion, when we lose sight of how we, in this human experience, go about our lives and our learning and our study of anything we wish, and accept certain things AS IF certain until such time as we can rule them in as certain or rule them certainly out.
But, back to the common characteristics or common gene-groupings thing:Â Such weird historical cross-species characteristics as marsupialism and saber-toothism have been found to co-exist in multiple species in one isolated area, or during one historical span, and to have disappeared among most or all of many very similar members of the same species in other areas, or at other times.
If I try to envision this, on the basis of the "common ancestor" assumption, or presumption, or dogma, or working hypothesis, it makes ordinary logic do flip flops.
I mean... How could members of several species have totally dispensed with marsupial pouches and related nurturing behaviors and instincts that a mother MUST have -- specific to raising an offspring to maturity in accordance with the one or the other of two highly incompatible modes of getting it done -- while those same multiple species in another, isolated, part of the world did not... and YET not have changed so drastically in many other characteristics.Â
That's a long sentence, but necessarily so.Â
Yes, I've read Stephen J. Gould.Â I've read Dawkins.Â But they don't provide answers certain.Â Their writings weave elaborate -- and intellectually stimulating and brilliant, let me add -- permutations of circumstantial evidence, by which the OBJECTIVEÂ reader or thinker is provided a good story of how things might have gone down (up?... whatever) since the Cambrian explosion or whatever... but a good story is not certainty.Â The first time I read one of Dawkins' books, I was struck by how often he went through a series of saying a particular explanation may have happened a certain way, followed by it could have happened that way, followed by it probably happened that way and then, a few sentences later... it DID happen that way... and then on to , since that is the way it HAD TO HAVE happened, anybody who would say otherwise is unscientific.
Mighta', coulda', probly-a, did-a is not a set of logic steps that are objective.Â And, oh yes, I have indeed read and thought on the fundamentals of logic theory and rigorous thinking and informal logic, and logical fallacies, and ego defense mechanisms, and how to structure a compelling debate, and propaganda techniques... and much much more, until my eyeballs are read and my head aches, and I find NOTHING to refute the point I wish to SUGGESTÂ you, too, take into mind, as you ponder things no human (which includes no scientist) actually knows for a certainty.
Now if he had ended up saying, "This is the best story anybody can come up with to fit the data we have so far, and this story is convenient in arriving at certain ways of categorizing species and trying to make sense of things we don't have ALL the information we need to come up with something better... I would admire his thinking enthusiastically and abundantly.Â But he took what is, in my estimation, a wonderful argumentation too far, and posed it as "what science tells us," and therefore what makes any oth alternative explanation absurd.
Notice that I am NOT arguing creationism here.Â I'm arguing in favor of scientific objectivity, which stops short of going off into dogmatism, and turning right around and asserting that one knows the dogma is CERTAIN, and is scientifically exhaustive in its exclusion (its ruling out) of any other alternative.
Have I strayed from the subject here?Â Not really.Â One cannot speak about objectivity in science, relative to ANY branch of science, and avoid issues of what scientists actually know, and how they know it, and how much science is unable to escape the need for working hypotheses to be recognized as working hypotheses and no more.Â
And that is where I must leave this matter of such gene structurings, and such traits in common across multiple species, and the weirdest of all reality that in isolated areas in evolutionary history some traits have arisen or declined across species.
In looking at THE EVIDENCE, in seeking more EVIDENCE, we are wise to be guided to a large extent by our wonderful human ability to perceive patterns... and to link those patterns together into one or more stories...
That being said, gene jumps across species -- if then cannot be ruled in for numerous archeological patterns -- are not rulable out, yet, either.
If we assume it COULD have occurred, maybe our next step might be to look around for vectors which could have, or still could be, carrying a gene from one species and inserting it into another somehow.
Who knows what amazing secrets remain to be uncovered,as mankind's OBJECTIVE scientists, go on to discover still more pieces of the puzzle, and our brightests and best scientific synthesists are forced by additional hard evidence to alter the "stories" we rely on today, or even to arrive at stories we have not yet even dreamed of.
Meanwhile, what's so wrong with knocking back our egos that urge us to pretent to know more than we really do, when we could say, "Well, actually, there are some things we just don't freaking know... but we're wurkin' on it.
If we are not being objective enough to say, "I don't KNOW, but I'll tell you where I am in my thinking at present on it," then we are blinding ourselves and blocking our ability to move forward in an open-ended, thence scientific, way.
(: > )