In that thread on the Orson Scott Card message board I just got a long reply from someone named Bo Grimes. Since it’s so long and I’m not adept at the message board coding, I thought I’d just post a line by line reply here and perhaps he’ll come over and defend his claims, all of which are highly inaccurate. It began with me posting the following on that board:
I honestly can’t think of a third option given the absolutely ridiculous claim he makes in his article about intelligent design that scientists rely solely on authority and “refuse to even try” to point out the flaws in ID arguments. I’ve posted a response to this on my blog with a list of critiques by scientists to every single claim made by ID advocates and that list is a small fraction of what is available.
And that led to Grimes’ reply, which begins:
Others may have, I didn’t read your citations (and frankly I seriously doubt you’ve read them either) but you are basically a cheerleader for your team, and from what I’ve read, you fit most of the fallicies Card outlines.
You would be wrong. I’ve read every single article that I linked to and almost all of the books (I’ve not read the Shanks book or Genie Scott’s new book, though I have the latter one and just haven’t gotten to it yet on my rather large reading list). If you think that I’m just a guy who did a google search and found a few links that appear to support my position without actually understanding the issues, you could not possibly be more wrong. I founded an organization that deals almost exclusively with this issue, I’ve published several articles on the subject and written hundreds of blog entries on it, and I’ve filed briefs on it in Federal court.
But to the nature of your own personal arguments and writings, granted I haven’t browsed a large sample, but I was brought to your site by this link: Leiter V NRO
Notice how your heroes “take apart” and “shred” their bemused and “pathetic” opponents. Notice how you engage in name-calling, expertism and other po-mo rhetorical devices, like dismissing an appeal to the scientific literature just because it was on Dembski’s site. Does that somehow make the referenced works tainted or their science flawed? On your site you call the article under discussion “patently flawed,” and call Card a liar, not mistaken, but a liar.
I love the use of the phrase “po-mo rhetorical devices”. There is nothing the least bit “po-mo” about my arguments, indeed quite the opposite. I start from the unyielding position that there is an objective truth in this and all other empirical matters. In fact, the only ones who have invoked postmodern arguments on their behalf in this dispute are the advocates of ID. If you don’t believe me, please read the transcript of Steve Fuller’s testimony in the Dover trial on behalf of the school board. Fuller made a rather explicitly po-mo argument that it doesn’t matter what is true it only matters that ID is a “radical” idea that should have access to public schools as a sort of affirmative action program to find new recruits in its brave battle against the “Darwinian orthodoxy”.
Let me also note the contradiction in Grimes’ argument here. On the one hand, he appears to be taking me to task for calling a spade a spade and saying that Leiter shredded the arguments (i.e. proved them objectively false) of Van Dyke while simultaneously accusing me of engaging in post-modernist subjectivism. These can’t both be true (oops, there I go again being entirely un-po-mo and endorsing the notion of objective truth). The last thing a po-mo would do is engage in “expertism” because, in their minds, an expert is just a self-appointed defender of orthodoxy out to crush radical ideas in the service of those who fund his research. In short, he’s just engaging in the kneejerk reaction of calling those he disagrees with “po-mos” when in fact he is dealing with someone who is the polar opposite of one.
And yet, you yourself don’t address a single issue of substance. You link to others in an appeal to expertism and credentialism, unable to advance the scientific arguments yourself you scream against the opposing team like an armchair quarterback who can’t play himself.
How amusing. Perhaps you’ve missed the, quite literally, hundreds of posts I’ve written that examine the substantive arguments of ID. Let me give you just a few brief examples. Here I examine the sterility of ID as an explanation, based upon Behe’s testimony in the Dover trial. I explain the differences between ID and Behe’s big bang analogy, note the contradictory positions of the major ID advocates on common descent, and explain why ID fails to be falsifiable because it can explain absolutely any set of data (more on this in a moment). Here I critique the methodology of the Behe and Snoke (2004) paper, again based on Behe’s testimony in Dover, and point out why his computer simulation in fact disproves irreducible complexity rather than supports it. I point out that the simulation used absurdly low population estimates and ignored several well understood types of mutations in order to rig the experiment against the result and yet the simulation still showed, by Behe’s own admission under oath, that an IC system could develop in a relatively short period of time. Here I examine the differences between purpose and function and critique Behe’s arguments about irreducible complexity. I point out that Behe accepts an evolutionary explanation for many complex biochemical systems that meet his definition of an irreducibly complex system, which severs the logical connection between his premise and his conclusion. Here is another post that examines the question of ID and common descent. Here I give a long and detailed analysis of why ID should not be taught in public schools. Here is an examination of ID and the “cambrian explosion”.
Now, it’s certainly true that I’m not a scientist myself and I suppose in some ways that does make me an “armchair quarterback who can’t play himself”. I’m an educated amateur with a long standing interest in this subject who has devoted many years of study to it. But that hardly means that I “don’t address a single issue of substance”. In fact, all of those articles are full of analysis on the substantive arguments for and against ID. I’d be happy to discuss those substantive issues with Mr. Grimes, but he was too busy pretending that I never addressed them to actually dispute any substantive claim that I made.
Ironically you conclude: “Scientists tend to be sticklers for substance over hand-waving. If you have a real model that explains the evidence, by all means offer it up and let’s debate it. But since they don’t have that, they are left with casting themselves in the role of the oppressed in the hope that no one will notice that they didn’t actually address any of the substantive criticisms, that after all the frantic hand waving, there simply is no there there.”
This is, in fact, what Card is saying the Darwinist, and I’m afraid you prove him right, aren’t doing. They no longer have a model that explains the evidence, and they certaintly aren’t debating it. The Designist are doing science in the way explained by Popper and others who argued that it’s impossible, really, to confirm a universal scientific theory with any positive degree of probibility. Rather, what we can do is disprove it, and thus the progress of science continues.
Wow. Where does one even begin to address this collection of nonsense? First, the notion that evolutionary theory doesn’t explain the evidence is absurd. Grimes makes no attempt to actually support this claim, it’s just a naked assertion. Perhaps if he wants to add an actual argument to this we could discuss it. Second, the notion that scientists aren’t debating their model is even more absurd. Evolutionary theory is a collection of hundreds of theories and hypotheses to explain various aspects. Some of these are so well established that it would be perverse to dispute them, others are still highly controversial and lack consensus among scientists. Anyone who thinks that scientists don’t debate over conflicting explanations clearly doesn’t read the scientific literature.
Third, on the notion that IDers are engaging in a Popperian attempt to falsify evolution and thereby drive the “progress of science”, here again Grimes doesn’t actually give us a substantive argument. I’ll take the position that the arguments offered against the validity of evolution by ID advocates are false and unjustified. Irreducible complexity is false both in premise and conclusion. Dembski’s CSI argument is fatally vague and useless in the real world. Wells’ list of “icons of evolution” is made up almost entirely of exaggerated and distorted claims. I’ll gladly defend all of these arguments if I need to, as I have done in the past.
Lastly I’ll note that the ID advocates themselves deny Grimes’ argument. ID advocates say that they are not just engaged in an attempt to falsify evolution but that they have a theory that makes positive predictions that spur actual research. They don’t appear to actually do any of that research, of course, and the few papers that they’ve claimed support ID in fact argue against it, but they flatly deny that they are only engaged in an attempt to falsify evolution.
Just to show how similiar they think, let me introduce another opinion from a Linux newsgroup I used to participate in. At this link the writer asserts: “Anyone, ANYONE, who publically supports “Intelligent Design” is either ignorant or a liar. There is no other possible answer.” Ignorant or Liar
Amazing, do y’all work from the same playbook? You could do with a bit of Wittgenstein with assertions like that. I know the truth and if you deny it the only possiblilities are you are ignorant or a liar.
This would be a meaningful argument if my statement was a general one and not a specific one. Nowhere have I asserted that you either agree with me on everything or you must be ignorant or a liar. I said that I cannot see a logical explanation for Card’s claim here other than ignorance or deceit. I’ve explained why those are the only two logical conclusions I can see. If Mr. Grimes sees a third possibility, he is of course free to offer it up and we can discuss it to see if it is logical and consistent with what Card said. No one else has been able to come up with a reasonable third explanation, but perhaps he can.
I find it highly ironic that Grimes accuses me of cheerleading without addressing anything of substance in a post where he engages in a lot of conclusionary rhetoric and fails to address even a single substantive argument that I made supporting my conclusion. This sort of psychological projection is convenient, of course, but it’s quite absurd.