Like my prior constitution quiz, here is a science quiz that counters liberal bias:
1. In a famous experiment, a shearwater bird was taken from its nest and transported in a closed container across the Atlantic Ocean. It was then released from its container at a spot 3,400 miles from its nest. On its own, the bird was able to fly back to and find its nest in the following amount of time:
(a) one year.
(b) 98 days.
(c) 12½ days.
2. Charles Darwin claimed that every living species, including whales, evolved. He asserted that the ancestor of whales was:
(c) black bears swimming in the sea with their mouths open.
(d) none of the above.
3. Modern physics contradicts purely materialistic explanations of matter:
(a) by demonstrating that experimental results change depending on observation.
(b) by demonstrating that action-at-a-distance exists at subatomic levels.
(c) by demonstrating that particles can tunnel through energy barriers.
(d) all of the above.
4. Limestone is formed from sea life. It is found:
(a) only near the ocean.
(b) only within 1000 feet of sea level.
(c) at all elevations and in all parts of the world.
(d) only on ocean floors.
5. Testability and falsifiability are essential elements of what qualifies as scientific. The following satisfy the requirement of falsifiability and thus can be considered scientific:
(a) the claim that life exists in outer space.
(b) the claim that black holes exist in outer space.
(c) the claim that a species once evolved from a simpler ancestor.
(d) none of the above.
6. The theory that the moon was formed by splitting from the Earth is:
(a) true, because it is shaped like the earth.
(b) true, because there is no other way it could have originated.
(c) false, because we now know it was once a planet in our solar system.
(d) false, because it lacks the iron that permeates the earth.
7. The "Nebraska Man" was supposedly a human ancestor, presented as key evidence at the famous Scopes Trial to support the alleged evolution of man. It was based on:
(a) a single tooth, later proven to be merely from a pig.
(b) a skull, later shown to be from an ordinary ape.
(c) a skeleton of a part-ape, part-human ancestor.
(d) a collection of artifacts now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.
8. "Irreducibly complex" features cannot have directly evolved because they cannot function if any of their parts are missing. A simple mousetrap is an example of something that is "irreducibly complex." Biological examples include:
(a) blood clotting.
(b) the immune system.
(c) intracellular transport.
(d) all of the above.
9. The late Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent evolutionist, declared that the "trade secret" of evolution is that
(a) "Evolution is remarkably powerful at dispelling religious conviction."
(b) "The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change."
(c) "Evolution can be taught at a young age in schools, with its effect lasting for a lifetime."
(d) none of the above.
10. In the popular game show "Let's Make a Deal," a contestant is shown three doors. Only one has a prize behind it, and the contestant is told to take his pick. Say he picks Door #1. Then the game show host opens a different door, Door #3, which has no prize behind it. So the prize must be behind Door #1 or Door #2. The contestant is asked if he wants to change his choice from Door #1 to Door #2. If he switches his choice, then he
(a) reduces his chance of picking the door with the prize.
(b) has the same chance of picking the door with the prize.
(c) doubles his chance of picking the door with the prize.
(d) it is impossible to determine his chances.
Here are my answers.
1. I guess (c).
2. I guess (b).
3. (a) is partially true because some observations can disrupt an experiment. Not sure what you mean by (b), but there is a lot of subatomic behavior that doesn't match our normal intuition. I guess you are referring to the belief among quantum field theorists that quantum fields are more fundamental than matter. Eg, electrons and photons are just manifestations of concentrated electromagnetic fields. I agree with that, so I'll say (d).
4. (c) The limestone is older than the mountain ranges, so it could be on mountains.
5. I guess you'll say (d), but that is not correct because those claims are parts of theories with many testable hypotheses. The notion of falsifiability is usually applied to a theory, not a claim.
6. I think the dominant belief is that the Moon was formed by a collision between the Earth and a small planet. Whether you call this "splitting", I don't know.
8. You will probably say (d), but all are false. An irreducibly complex
feature can result from evolution by changing parts, instead of adding
parts. Eg, suppose that of parts A,B,C, it happens that AB, AC, ABC, and C are functional, and the other possibilities are not. Then evolution could be: C -> AC -> ABC -> AB and we get AB even tho it is irreducibly complex.
9. I guess (b).
10. (c), under reasonable assumption of randomness and the host playing fair.
Roger writes, "So focusing only falsifiability of individual claim does not tell us much about whether the theory of black holes can be falsified."
Any claim that is not falsifiable is of doubtful validity as science. Relativity is permeated with non-falsifiable claims, not just black holes. You keep implying that "the theory of black holes can be falsified," but you don't say how.
Re: moon, Roger wrote, "I still don't know what answer you think is correct. Does a collision involve "severing"?"
Proposing a collision just is a red herring. The point is that there is no matter from the Earth on the moon, because there is no iron there. No severing of Earth ever happened to form the moon.
Roger wrote, "If you interpret 'directly evolved' strictly, then nothing has ever evolved. Evolution is a theory about indirect change. No one thinks that 10-fingered men evolved from 9-fingered men."
OK, I'll bite. What do you think our ten fingers evolved from, if not from 8 or 9 fingers or 10 stubs?
Re: Monty Hall's paradox, Roger writes, "If you add the assumptions rigorously, then the statement is a math theorem that would be just as true on Mars."
The probability of the location of the prize is a function of post hoc decisionmaking by the observer. If the contestant picks Door #1 and Monty opens Door #3, then the prize is twice as likely to be behind Door #2 as Door #1. If, however, the contestant picks Door #2 and Monty opens Door #3, then the prize is twice as likely to be behind Door #1. The decisionmaking of the observer changes matter and logic after-the-fact. The results are different from when the observer is not there.
Andy maintains: "The theories to which 5(a)-(c) attach do not have many falsifiable hypotheses."
Those theories have lots of falsifiable hypotheses. Eg, the claim that intelligent life exists on Mars has been falsified by trips to Mars.
If someone says "black holes exist", it is hard to falsify. If someone says "black holes don't exist", then it can be falsified by finding a single black hole. If someone says, "there is a huge black hole at the center of the Milky Way", it could be falsified by getting more info about the Milky Way. So focusing only falsifiability of individual claim does not tell us much about whether the theory of black holes can be falsified.
I think that it is entirely possible that (c) will be falsified. That someone will show that some species evolved from 2 other species, by showing it got DNA from both.
Evolution does not act by adding components very often. Mostly it changes components. Another evolution could be: A -> B -> AB -> AD -> CD. Now CD could be irreducibly complex, and yet it evolves from simpler parts.
Roger replied, "You will probably say (d), but all are false. An irreducibly complex feature can result from evolution by changing parts, instead of adding parts. ..."
That's not a scenario whereby the feature "directly evolved," which is the question. Your scenario requires a path that goes from the simple to the complex and then back to something simpler. If progressive evolution has the small probability of X, then your progressive and regressive evolution has astronomically small probability on the order of X squared.
If progressive evolution is impossible, then X = 0, and X squared is also 0. But as I've shown, the indirect route can be more likely.
If you interpret "directly evolved" strictly, then nothing has ever evolved. Evolution is a theory about indirect change. No one thinks that 10-fingered men evolved from 9-fingered men.
Roger replied, "Put in all the assumptions, and you'll get a math theorem that does not depend on any observer."
It does depend on the observer.
Say Monty Hall plays the game many times, using random placements of the door prize (of which he is aware). (The rules are that after an observer picks a door or no observer picks a door, Monty opens a door lacking the prize.)
At the end of many trials of the game, Monty then culls all the times he picked, say, door #3. From that subset, he analyzes how often a prize was behind door #1 versus #2, and whether the observer's picks had an influence.
It does. When there was no observer, doors 1 and 2 split the prize about 50% of the time. When the observer existed and picked door #1, then door #2 had the prize 66.7% and #1 only 33.3%. Vice-versa when the observer picked door #2. The existence and selection of the observer influences the outcome -- even though his appearance and selection post-date the original placement of the prize.
Estimated probabilities are based on the likelihood of outcomes based on the available info. Monty is giving new info.
If I ask you to choose a card from a deck, what is the chance you'll get the ace of spades? 1 in 52. Now I tell you the deck had 2 jokers. Then it is 1 in 54. Now I say half the deck was missing, but the aces were included. Then 1 in 27. Has the observer changed the probabilities? Not by observing, but by providing new info.
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