Sunday, February 25, 2007
Todd Wood's "State of Baraminology" Report
Some interesting highlights:
- Summarized methods of classifying baramins, including baraminic distance, ANOPA, and multidimensional scaling, while de-emphasizing interbreedability based on biblical and practical concerns (on a personal note, I am often skeptical of morphological statistical methods for anything simply because of a massive amount of selection bias -- Wood appeared to agree to an extent by mentioning that character selection techniques should be an important future research area for baraminologists)
- Wood listed 66 animal groups which had been classified based on baraminology methods. The data that is in so far appears to confirm that "family" is a good starting point baraminology studies, and that while there is sometimes continuity above that level, there are no (or maybe few) instances where discontinuity occurs below that level.
- Wood defended baraminology against the charge that there is no currently-known mechanism for producing such diversity in such a short timescale. His answer is:
Related to accepting "too much evolution" is the objection that there is no mechanism capable of producing intrabaraminic diversity in the short chronology (<6000 years) implied by the Bible. I agree completely (Wood, 2002b; Wood and Murray, 2003), but I do not believe that this is a legitimate argument against baraminology. Demanding a mechanism seems to be a prerequisite for acceptance among scientists, but it is not always necessary or even prudent. Consider the preformation/epigenesis debate. In the eighteenth century, when the formal study of embryonic development began, many scientists took the position (called "preformation") that the embryo was merely a miniature adult that mechanically unfolded during development. The epigeneticists argued that development was too complex to be merely the unfolding of preexisting structures, but they had no mechanism to propose instead. The preformationists argued on the basis of the well-known mechanism of Newtonian mechanics, but the epigeneticists held out for an unknown mechanism. Now we know that those who limited themselves to the known mechanisms of the day were wrong, and even 250 years later, we still do not fully understand how embryonic development works. I take from this history the lesson that mechanism is perhaps not as important as what the evidence actually indicates.
An interesting review, but nothing earth-shattering.