Re: Data & Predictions (was: "The Fourth Turning" - A Must Read)

Peter C. McCluskey (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 10:10:48 -0800 (Lee Daniel Crocker) writes:
>> Strauss & Howe's theories can clearly be tested against statistics
>> as quantifiable as that. For example, opinion polls that measure
>> how protective U.S. adults feel about children should, if Strauss &
>> Howe are correct, show an increase in protective attitudes over the
>> 1982-2003 period and a decrease from about 2030 to 2050.
>If they have done such research--and to be statistically valid,
>announced publicly the research they intended to do before they
>actually did it--then putting those numbers somewhere on their
>Web site can only strengthen their theories, and they have no
>reason no to do so. That's what Web sites are for--there are

Assuming opinion polls have no costs, then yes, they have no reason
not to do so. I make no claim that they are great researchers, only
that they have an interesting theory which can be confirmed or

>> Note that the statistic you have adopted is so weak that creationism
>> passes easily - any of those million species can be explained by the
>> assertion that god designed them that way. (If you think evolution has
>> provided anything more than a post-hoc rationalization of how those
>> million species came to be, show me).
>Freshly-constructed algorithms, with absolutely no programmed goals
>other than existence, based on the underlying mechanisms of duplication,
>mutation, and selection that we can observe today, exhibit the
>phenomenon of adaptation in quite remarkable and unexpected ways.
>This is not post-hoc, since the phenomenon emerged from something that
>was not programmed to produce it, and the few simple instructions the
>programs were given are directly obsevable, not postulated. It is a

Weak versions of evolution (that organisms adapt to their environment)
can certainly be subjected to good statistical tests. I don't see how
the stronger versions (e.g. that such adaptation explains the existence
of the species we see today) can be subjected to statistical tests which
are not post-hoc.

>> >your social theories to that test: if you postulate that some age
>> >was "the age of heroes" or some such nonsense, show me that /everyone/
>> >on the planet at that time fit some definable profile.
>> I'll do that after you show that all of those millions of species
>> are perfectly adapted to their environment. See how easy it is to
>> attack straw men?
>You mistinterpret my claim. To be precise, it is (1) Evolution is
>quantitative, testable, and falsifiable. (2) Not one single fossil
>falsifies it. I did not claim that (3) every fossil /confirms/ it,
>or (4) that we understand how every feature of every species came
>about. Nor do I, or does evolution, claim that (5) every feature of
>every species is an adaptation. That's nonsense; any engineer knows
>that mamy features of even the most carefully designed systems are
>historical accidents.

I understood your claim about evolution perfectly well. What I don't
understand are the standards you are applying to Strauss & Howe's theory,
which are either stricter than those you apply to the theory of evolution
or else are standards which Strauss & Howe's theory can, if correct, pass.
Of course it's much easier to attack creationism than to address my points.

Peter McCluskey |                        | "Don't blame me. I voted | | for Kodos." - Homer Simpson |     |