Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The other day, William Dembski reported Eric Pianka to the Department of Homeland Security because he and his fellow creationist Forrest Mims claim that Pianka is fomenting bioterrorism. Today, the FBI is going down to interview Pianka in Austin. And today, Dembski is offering a wager concerning the man:

I’m willing to wager $1000 with David Hillis that sympathy not just nationally but at UTAustin for Pianka will take a nose dive once his TAS speech goes public. Of course, we need to set the terms of this wager more precisely. But it’s a wager easily settled — Pianka needs merely to make his speech before the TAS public (the actual speech — not a bowdlerized version of it).

I’ve got a better idea, Mr. Dembski. You’re convinced that Pianka is an actual bioterrorism threat, as opposed to just a crank who thinks the world is going to end soon, and you think there is evidence to support that charge. In today’s climate of fear, we can expect the FBI to take that threat very seriously. If there is any actual evidence to support the accusation, he will surely be charged and convicted. I’m willing to wager a bottle of single malt scotch that this will not happen.

The FBI will investigate and they will end up doing nothing to this man because there is no actual evidence that he is anything but an eccentric old scientist with a few bad ideas. Why am I wagering a bottle of single malt scotch? Purely for the sake of irony. You see, Dembski has a habit of welching on such wagers. In a response to Genie Scott and Glenn Branch a while back, he offered the following wager:

I’ll wager a bottle of single-malt scotch, should it ever go to trial whether ID may legitimately be taught in public school science curricula, that ID will pass all constitutional hurdles.

As we all know, whether ID may be taught in public school science curricula did go to court in the Dover case and it did not pass all constitutional hurdles. In fact, it was found to be unconstitutional. And note that he can’t say it doesn’t count because it wasn’t appealed because he specifically said all constitutional hurdles, not merely the last constitutional hurdle. It fell on its butt on the very first hurdle. He has never paid off this public wager.

So for the sake of irony, I will bet him the very same bottle of scotch that there will not be enough evidence to charge and convict Pianka of the crimes Dembski and Mims accuse him of. What say ye, Mr. Dembski?

Comments

  1. #1 Chance
    April 5, 2006

    Pianka is far from a crank. He is a very accomplished scientist. He and I move in the same circles as we share the same field. His accomplishments are many and he is very insightful.

    I haven’t read a transcript of what he said, but I tend to take the man at his word which has always proven reliable. But the man certainly is eccentric.

  2. #2 Pieter B
    April 5, 2006

    I’ve got a bottle of really nasty Islay someone gave me that I’ll contribute should you ever lose such a bet, Ed. Tasting notes include a nose redolent of low tide, pronounced aftertaste of fungus.

  3. #3 BigDumbChimp
    April 5, 2006

    What the fuck is it with the Dembski wanting to wager on things. Does he think this makes their side of the debate look stronger? If anything it looks like a desperate playground attempt trying to muscle his point of view accross instead of having any valid points to the argument.

    Don’t stoop down there and trade wagers with him.

  4. #4 pough
    April 5, 2006

    What the fuck is it with the Dembski wanting to wager on things?

    (I added a question mark.) I think he has the same strange brain disease that W and my dad share; I call it, “Confidence in Error.” Perhaps it has something to do with a great big God being on your side…

  5. #5 BigDumbChimp
    April 5, 2006

    typos are my constant companion

  6. #6 Raging Bee
    April 5, 2006

    …I call it, “Confidence in Error.” Perhaps it has something to do with a great big God being on your side…

    I’ve got several great big Gods on my side (and a few rather buxom Godesses); and I’ve never had that disease. So that hypothesis needs work.

    Besides, Dembski doesn’t have a great big God on his side anymore: ID isn’t about religion, remember?

  7. #7 Myrmecos
    April 5, 2006

    Apparently Pianka wanted to call his book, which contains a fair amount of Australian herpetology experience, “A Yank Down Under”. Sadly, someone in the publishing industry disapproved. Hence, “Lizard Man Speaks”.

    Oh well.

  8. #8 Susan Brassfield Cogan
    April 5, 2006

    Has it occurred to anyone that Dembski has a gambling problem?

  9. #9 Raging Bee
    April 5, 2006

    It’s not a gambling problem; it’s a macho-posturing-as-substitute-for-substance problem.

  10. #10 lmf3bthelma
    April 5, 2006

    It’s also only 9 months until he buys everyone a beer, unless the conference where 2 prominant scientists declare evolution dead happens.

    http://darwin.bc.asu.edu/blog/2005/06/26/vintage-dembski/

    OK, so the Nobel laureate died, but nothing preventing his partner from showing up, right?

    http://darwin.bc.asu.edu/blog/?p=581

    But y’know, for a guy working at a Southern Baptist seminary, he seems to do a lot of drinking and gambling.

  11. #11 wheatdogg
    April 5, 2006

    Actually, Dembski should be thrown out of Kentucky, if only for wagering single-malt Scotch. Bourbon is the ticket around here.

    I’m not sure if the SBTS condones drinking either, but maybe Dembski’s not a Baptist.

  12. #12 Rich
    April 5, 2006

    Dembski picks some odds:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/371

    Nice one Bill. I also like the way all the outcomes are positive for ID, in his mind.

  13. #13 ericnh
    April 5, 2006

    In a perfect world Pianka would be waiting for the FBI with stack on Dembski’s idiotic comments and say to them, “You should see what the guy who reported me has been saying!”

    Of course, if the world was perfect that WOULD be evidence of ID. But since it isn’t, it cannot be.

  14. #14 Ed Darrell
    April 5, 2006

    What’s the creationism equivalent for jumping the shark? Dembksi just did it.

    What’s the creationism equivalent for the boy who shouted “wolf?” Dembski did that, too.

    So, the FBI is taking time out from chasing terrorists to follow a wild hare up Dembski’s pantleg, to the amusement of Dembski (he’s willing to “wager” on the outcome of the interview).

    If wasting time and resources were a crime, Dembski would be interviewed, too.

    But of course, that was the point of Pianka’s speech — that those who are most wasteful of the good, and do the most to promote the bad, are not held responsible.

    The parallels between Dembski and Lysenko grow, and the view is not pretty. Never forget who it was Lysenko worked for.

  15. #15 Wesley R. Elsberry
    April 5, 2006

    I wonder why Dembski restricts himself to bets like bottles of scotch or $1K. Considering that he hasn’t paid off on various and sundry wagers that he lost in the past, he might as well bet the national debt, all the tea in China, and the British crown jewels as well on every statement that he wants to say that he is confident about.

    If Dembski tells you he is sure that it is a nice day for sailing, you’d better stay close to the lifeboats.

  16. #16 plunge
    April 5, 2006

    To have a gambling problem, you’d actually have to put something at stake. Since Dembski never pays out on any of his bets, nothing is at stake. Which is pretty much EXACTLY the problem with the ID movement as a whole: nothing wagered, nothing to be gained.

    I hope people have been reading Good Math, Bad Math. This post was particularly great:
    http://goodmath.blogspot.com/2006/04/one-last-stab-at-dembski-vacuousness.html

    He points out that Dembskis own definition of CSI is basically tautological of self-contradictory. Translating those big sounding words in there actual definitions, what does Dembski’s concept mean? “A system which contains a lot of information, but which doesn’t contain a lot of information.”

    Wow, get this guy a Nobel prize right away!

  17. #17 Mr. Upright
    April 5, 2006

    What’s with the single-malt scotch, anyway? If you want to wager something worth collecting, try small-batch bourbon. Now that’s tasty!

  18. #18 Treban
    April 6, 2006

    Ahhh. . .Small batch bourbon is just the thing – can’t even stand Scotch any more – I imagine I could handle the really expensive stuff, but I can get the same quality in bourbon for a fraction of the price.

    I think he bets small because he still believes what he is saying. If he started betting wild, I’d say he was losing faith adn getting desperate. As for not ponying up – self righteous dip shits never make good, they’d have to admit they were wrong – impossible.

  19. #19 raj
    April 6, 2006

    The Dept. of HeimatSicherheit–sorry the Department of Homeland Security–will probably be incapacitated for a while, trying to root out the child molestors and child pornographers–and those who willingly aid and abett them within the agency itself.

    /sarcasm

  20. #20 Raging Bee
    April 6, 2006

    The Dept. of HeimatSicherheit–sorry the Department of Homeland Security–will probably be incapacitated for a while…

    You mean they won’t be able to respond to disasters with the effectiveness and compassion we saw after Hurricane Katrina? Damn, that’s a serious setback…

  21. #21 Dave S.
    April 6, 2006

    Wesley R. Elsberry says:

    I wonder why Dembski restricts himself to bets like bottles of scotch or $1K. Considering that he hasn’t paid off on various and sundry wagers that he lost in the past, he might as well bet the national debt, all the tea in China, and the British crown jewels as well on every statement that he wants to say that he is confident about.

    Good psychics know that people are actually more impressed when you’re more modest. A psychic who’s accurate 100% of the time is suspected of being a trickster, whereas one accurate only 75% of the time is considered honest with genuine talents. Similarly a smaller wager makes the person making it seems more honest and inspires more confidence in the outlook wagered (which is the goal here) than a huge one, where everyone simply assumes there must be a catch.