Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Via Casey at EN&V...

Testing by Comparing Predictions of Theories

Sober concedes that “many formulations of ID are falsifiable” and meet Karl Popper’s famous hallmark of a scientific theory . However, Sober critiques Popper’s usage of falsifiability as a hallmark property of science because he claims it does not always entail robust testability relative to other explanations. Sober prefers a definition of testability where testing is conducted by comparing a theory to other competing theories. He writes: “To develop an account of testability, we must begin by recognizing that testing is typically a comparative enterprise.”

In Sober's view, for ID to be testable it must make predictions with respect to evolution. Sober states, “If ID is to be tested, it must be tested against one or more competing hypotheses.” Since Sober measures ID’s testability by comparing it to evolution, it would seem that to be fair, Sober must measure evolution’s testability by comparing it to ID. Thus, the unavoidable conclusion seems to be that under Sober’s methodology, evolution can never be any more testable than ID. Obviously Sober believes evolution is a scientific theory, so doesn't that mean ID must also qualify as a scientific theory? Sober appears to apply a double-standard here.

In the end, Sober doesn’t even use this methodology. Instead, he ignores the wholly standard formulation of intelligent design in order to claim that it’s untestable. This will be explained more in Part II of this series.