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Nature of Science

The Introduction to Explore Evolution packs a tremendous number of fundamental errors into a remarkably brief chapter. These errors bear not only on the science of evolution, nor even biology in general, but on the nature of science itself. The introduction fundamentally skews a student's understanding of what science is and how it is practiced. The definitions of evolution it provides are badly flawed and misleading, and misrepresent the state of scientific views on evolutionary biology with the clear goal of propping up a bogus creationist model of biology.

This chapter begins by introducing several basic errors about the nature of science. The first of these errors is a flawed distinction between historical sciences and experimental science, as if the scientific method were applied differently in different fields. The apparent goal of that distinction is to cast doubt on scientific knowledge regarding historical phenomena like the age of the earth and the diversification of life. This error is profound, as it misinforms students about the fundamentals of how science is practiced in every field. A similar error occurs when the authors misdefine how scientists determine "the best explanation." Since explaining a phenomenon after the fact is easy, merely explaining more evidence is not enough. Scientists judge explanations by their ability to make testable predictions, predictions which would disconfirm the theory if they were found to be wrong. Unlike the authors of this book, philosophers of science regard this testability as central to science, and regard approaches based only on verification and post hoc explanation as non-scientific.