originally posted by: jeep3r
The authors are aware that other scientists claimed to have found ancient dinosaur DNA before, and they know that such finds frequently turned out to
be modern microbes that contaminated the fossils. In their paper, however, they argue that such contamination can be excluded and that the discovered
DNA is therefore truly ancient, thus belonging to the dinosaur fossil they investigated (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri).
It has been my experience that these "other scientists" mentioned above also usually have some line of argumentation to rule out contamination (which
then in time is proven to be incorrect when it turns out to be contamination by modern microbes after all). So I wonder, do you understand something
about why their line of argumentation or methods to rule out contamination would be superior or more reliable than the arguments and methods of these
"other scientists" that turned out to be wrong about this?
Since you didn't really mention any further details regarding this subject of ruling out contamination (addressing the 'how?'-question in a bit more
detail), and thus also not in comparison with the earlier claims made by other scientists concerning dinosaur DNA.
The way it's phrased now, one could even get the wrong impression that these "other scientists" didn't even address the issue of contamination at all
in contrast to these authors.
Mind you, there are other forms of contamination of the samples than just microbial contamination as well. It's a rather frequent problem in the field
of DNA research and sequencing, even with much younger samples that are very carefully handled to avoid contamination. So what does that tell us about
fossils and samples that have been affected by their natural and biological environment for millions of years without any scientists around to follow
all the preservation, storage and handling protocols for avoiding contamination (or at least keep that contamination to a minimum)?
Besides, when you've got a fossil lying around in nature for a while rather than a sterile laboratory environment, it's pretty much a given that
microbes are going to crawl through it. If crawl is the right word. So one should probably avoid giving people the impression that microbial
contamination has been ruled out conclusively. And if it's not ruled out conclusively (which is likely the way it is presented by these authors if one
looks at the details and given the general popularity of the Agnostic Code
then it's not a fact/certainty that this is dinosaur DNA, or as you(?*) put it "that the discovered DNA is therefore truly ancient, thus belonging to
the dinosaur fossil they investigated (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri)." (*: it looks like you're quoting from a news article, so I will use You/They from
here on) You/They state that as if the authors argue that this is a fact/certainty/truth/reality (all synonyms). For it to be established as a
fact/certainty requires one to be able to conclusively rule out any form of contamination, including microbial. It also requires one to be able to
rule out any other possible reason other than contamination that there might be for this not to be "truly ancient" dinosaur DNA (see quotation further
below about Schweitzer for another reason other than contamination to conclude or think that this is not "truly"/factually ancient dinosaur DNA). If
one doesn't want to go there (make any conclusive statements about it like the one you/they described), then no factual discovery was claimed akin to
the facts discovered and described in Newton's Law of Gravity, or Einstein's discovery of the fact/certainty/truth/reality that E=MC^2 (energy = mass
times the speed of light squared).
I did notice this statement possibly motivated by some form of agnostic code in one of the articles linked in the OP:
A molecular biologist by the name Mary Schweitzer, who helped with testing and the study's co-author, said that she was very hesitant to actually
declare that what the found on the fossil was even DNA. She told National Geographic that she was not even willing to call it DNA because she was too
cautious and did not want to overstate and misrepresent the results that they had with the testing.
That sounds quite a bit different from the argument described in the following statement (the argument as if it's a fact/certainty, by means of the
word "is", as if it really is the truth of the matter; comparable with the = symbol):
In their paper, however, they argue that such contamination can be excluded and that the discovered DNA is therefore truly
ancient, thus belonging to the dinosaur fossil they investigated (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri).
Synonyms for "truly" in that context are: "factually/conclusively/certainly". So that is phrased as if "they [the authors of this study] argue" that
this is a fact/certainty/reality/truth. Yet the other article seems to suggest that's not what the co-author is doing. Not even close. She won't even
argue (or claim) that it's a fact/certainty that this is even DNA at all.
The agnostic code is a tricky animal and comes in many forms, often used in combination with double standards and a contradictory confusing way of
phrasing things. What are the authors really saying anyway in the end?
I quoted from the paragraph in the news article you linked in the OP that is headed by the phrase: "Though some scientists have a contradictory
opinion". Funny how the only "contradictory opinion" discussed in that paragraph is from the study's co-author. The news article was the one from the
Mind you, the Agnostic Code I linked from the South Park video, is only talking about 1 subject, but you can see that the notion that 'we can't be
certain about anything' (variations: 'we can't know anything with certainty', 'we can't know anything for sure') is applied to a multitude of other
subjects in that episode (such as what the flavor of Dr. Pepper is, or what's going on in the basement). It is this general notion/philosophy/idea
that I'm referring to when I'm talking about "some form of agnostic code" or earlier when I said "given the general popularity of
the Agnostic Code
amongst scientists" (and there's the South Park link again). I also sometimes
refer to it as general agnosticism. There is also selective agnosticism (only regarding specific subjects, usually inconvenient
facts/certainties/realities that one doesn't want to acknowledge as being well-established and proven because of what they would mean for one's
preferred unproven beliefs/opinions/ideas; so you just argue that we can't be sure about it opening the door for promoting and holding on to
unsupported or highly dubious speculation that makes good use of this selective agnostic code).
edit on 12-3-2020 by whereislogic because: (no