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Mechanical Energy before Chemical Energy at the Origins of Life?
Hypothesis

Are Scientific Models of Life Testable? A Lesson from Simpson’s Paradox

1
Department of History and Philosophy, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
2
The Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
3
Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500046, India
4
Department of Mathematical Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 August 2019 / Accepted: 7 December 2020 / Published: 22 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecules to Microbes)
We address the need for a model by considering two competing theories regarding the origin of life: (i) the Metabolism First theory, and (ii) the RNA World theory. We discuss two interrelated points, namely: (i) Models are valuable tools for understanding both the processes and intricacies of origin-of-life issues, and (ii) Insights from models also help us to evaluate the core objection to origin-of-life theories, called “the inefficiency objection”, which is commonly raised by proponents of both the Metabolism First theory and the RNA World theory against each other. We use Simpson’s Paradox (SP) as a tool for challenging this objection. We will use models in various senses, ranging from taking them as representations of reality to treating them as theories/accounts that provide heuristics for probing reality. In this paper, we will frequently use models and theories interchangeably. Additionally, we investigate Conway’s Game of Life and contrast it with our SP-based approach to emergence-of-life issues. Finally, we discuss some of the consequences of our view. A scientific model is testable in three senses: (i) a logical sense, (ii) a nomological sense, and (iii) a current technological sense. The SP-based model is testable in the first two senses but it is not feasible to test it using current technology. View Full-Text
Keywords: emergence of life; game of life; inefficiency objection; Simpson’s paradox; astrobiology emergence of life; game of life; inefficiency objection; Simpson’s paradox; astrobiology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bandyopadhyay, P.S.; Grunska, N.; Dcruz, D.; Greenwood, M.C. Are Scientific Models of Life Testable? A Lesson from Simpson’s Paradox. Sci 2021, 3, 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/sci3010002

AMA Style

Bandyopadhyay PS, Grunska N, Dcruz D, Greenwood MC. Are Scientific Models of Life Testable? A Lesson from Simpson’s Paradox. Sci. 2021; 3(1):2. https://doi.org/10.3390/sci3010002

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bandyopadhyay, Prasanta S.; Grunska, Nolan; Dcruz, Don; Greenwood, Mark C. 2021. "Are Scientific Models of Life Testable? A Lesson from Simpson’s Paradox" Sci 3, no. 1: 2. https://doi.org/10.3390/sci3010002

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