Dispatches from the Creation Wars

MikeGene’s Anti-ID Typology

Just noticed this post from MikeGene on Telic Thoughts, where he offers a typology of ID critics. I actually think it’s a reasonably accurate typology, though I think his choice of words in saying that the Richard Dawkins type of ID critic wants to “coerce people” into accepting their beliefs is both inaccurate and needlessly inflammatory. He may perceive Dawkins to be a bully, but there is no evidence that he advocates any type of coercion whatsoever. His methods of persuasion may be bothersome, both to MikeGene and to me, but that does not make them coercive.

In a dispute that often involves accusations of Stalinism and Naziism lobbed at scientists who reject ID, that’s hardly the type of rhetoric we need, especially if you’re trying honestly to portray someone’s position. Aside from that, I think his categories are fairly accurate and useful in discerning the different approaches among ID critics. Obviously, I would be a Type A critic, and proudly so; any grouping that puts me in the same category with Genie Scott and Jack Krebs is not one I’m going to dispute.

But I would strongly disagree with this section:

There are several things that unite all these factions. Already mentioned is their inability to contemplate the issues related to ID without relying on the “ID=religion/God” stereotype. Furthermore, I would argue that all groups entail a very strong tendency toward closed-mindedness: Types B, C, D for metaphysical reasons and Type A for political reasons. Also, all groups are united in their strong tendency to label ID proponents as “Creationists” and “threats to Science.”

This is where he goes off the tracks. His categories are more or less accurate, but this section is rather silly. He basically says that you have to be closed-minded to think that ID = religion; frankly, I think one would have to be blind or mad to think otherwise. I keep hearing that it’s possible for the designer to be an alien, but only the Raelians and their fellow travelers actually believe that, and the ID advocates find those people as laughable as the rest of us do.

And do we really need to go through all the evidence in favor of this conclusion? The book hailed by ID advocates as the world’s first ID textbook used the exact same definition in early versions, word for word, for “creation” that it used for “intelligent design” in the final published version. Indeed, that “ID textbook” was explicitly marketed as a “creationist textbook” prior to the Edwards ruling in 1987, when they literally did a word search in the manuscript and replaced “creationism” with “intelligent design” and “creationist” with “design proponent.” I’m sure ID advocates may be tired of hearing about this, but they’ve never managed to answer it.

There is the fact that every single pro-ID argument today, including all of Wells’ “Icons” and the concept of irreducible complexity (and even the specific examples of IC that Behe uses), is derived directly from creationist literature, and even their strategic plans as well (Wendell Bird came up with the “teach the arguments for and against” evolution strategy nearly 15 years before Meyer proposed it in front of the Ohio Board of Education). And the fact that so many of today’s prominent ID advocates were making the same arguments about creation science 20 years ago that they now make about ID.

Then, of course, there are the clear words of ID advocates themselves. There is Dembski’s declaration that Intelligent Design is merely the “the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” There is also his declaration, obviously true, that because the “designer” had to design the universe itself, the designer has to be transcendant, i.e. supernatural. And there is the DI’s very definition of intelligent design, which includes cosmological design, something that cannot be accounted for by aliens or anything but a supernatural being. All of this talk that the designer could be anything but god (fill in your own details if you want to make it God) is pure poppycock and they know it.

Now, there may be a few people out there with a sympathetic view of ID who are agnostics or who don’t have committed religious beliefs. There may be a few who have genuine doubts about the ability of known evolutionary processes to account for biochemical complexity but who really don’t have any concern over what the designer might be. But until they actually produce a competing model that provides some positive case, there simply isn’t any reason to take them seriously.

And frankly, I don’t think those people, if they exist, are terribly relevant to this discussion. ID is not a theory, it’s a movement. If there was an actual ID theory or model, then one might be able to speak objectively about that theory or model itself in purely scientific terms. But no one has ever come up with anything more than a set of arguments, most of them false at best and highly dishonest at worst, against evolution.

As long as that is the case, ID is really nothing more than a label applied to a PR campaign and a political advocacy movement. And the content of those movements is judged by the arguments and beliefs of those within the movement. And on that score, Bruce Gordon had it absolutely correct in his 2001 article: ID will be taken seriously if, and only if, it produces useful scientific research that contributes to our understanding of the natural world.

Until then, it will be seen for exactly what it is, a PR campaign to place a thin veneer of scientific-sounding terminology over good old-fashioned religious anti-evolutionism. And that has nothing to do with being closed-minded; it has to do with being able to accurately discern what is going on and not fall for attempts at misdirection.

P.S. Please, please, please, do not turn the comments on this post in to yet another argument over whether atheism is the truth, whether belief in God is inherently irrational, or whether Dawkins is the devil incarnate. It’s boring and repetitive and never goes anywhere.

Comments

  1. #1 kehrsam
    December 29, 2006

    P.S. Please, please, please, do not turn the comments on this post in to yet another argument over whether atheism is the truth, whether belief in God is inherently irrational, or whether Dawkins is the devil incarnate. It’s boring and repetitive and never goes anywhere.

    But we were winning!

    As to MikeGene’s post, I am not sure how useful the proposed typology will be. Should I exult that I am an A and Dawkins only a C?

  2. #2 SteveF
    December 29, 2006

    “D: This group of critics represent the religious people who oppose ID for theological reasons. In other words, since they equate ID with religion, ID is thus viewed as a competing theological/religious claim about the world. Someone like Keith Miller belongs to this group.”

    I don’t think this fully captures theistic opinion. There may also be theists who primarily reject ID on scientific grounds and not theological (thought I suppose such people could possibly be squeezed into A).

    Like Ed, I also belong in A. However, this isn’t exactly how I would express myself. There should be a category E:

    “Those who oppose ID because it is wrong”

    This excludes metaphysics etc etc. My main motivation for opposing ID is, simply, that it is a load of shit.

  3. #3 jba
    December 29, 2006

    Frankly I dont see how classifying the opponents of ID is going to help them any. I know that you are supposed to know your enemy, but how does it help to know them when your posistion is untenable? Every time they say ‘this supports ID’ the believers believe and the doubters doubt and the science slaps them down. Then they say something about how evolution cant be right because it cant meet impossible criteria. Back to square one.

  4. #4 SLC
    December 29, 2006

    Re Ken Miller

    It is totally laughable to characterize Ken Millers’ opposition to ID as theologic in nature. Having listened to a number of presentations by him, it should be perfectly obvious that his objections are scientific in nature.

  5. #5 SteveF
    December 29, 2006

    They are referring to Keith Miller, not Ken Miller.

  6. #6 Art
    December 29, 2006

    MikeGene’s list is incomplete. For it omits all of the critics who oppose ID because it’s wrong, out of touch with observed reality. Opposition doesn’t have to revolve around the religion/not religion axis, nor center on the religious motives of participants in the debate.

    MikeGene’s list also ignores the matter that, even more than religious motives, really riles the majority of ID critics – namely, the blatant, ubiquitous, even pathological dishonesty that permeates the ID movement. This is the theme that binds theistic and atheistic critics together, and it transcends motivation that involves religion.

  7. #7 David Heddle
    December 29, 2006

    Art,

    MikeGene’s list also ignores the matter that, even more than religious motives, really riles the majority of ID critics – namely, the blatant, ubiquitous, even pathological dishonesty that permeates the ID movement. This is the theme that binds theistic and atheistic critics together, and it transcends motivation that involves religion.

    Indeed.

  8. #8 Jim Lippard
    December 29, 2006

    I don’t fall into any of his categories. I disagree with A because I think science is relevant to claims about the existence and nature of God. It is possible to formulate theism that is beyond the scope of science, but that’s not the case for the worldviews of most adherents of the world’s major religions. I disagree with the B and C because I don’t want science itself to “evangelize” anything except accurate knowledge about the world. I do want individuals (scientists and otherwise) to argue for atheism, but that should neither be by “seduction” nor “coercion.” I disagree with D because I’m not religious.

  9. #9 David Heddle
    December 29, 2006

    All in all, I think Mike Gene’s post is a very good one. It makes sense to point out that critics of ID come in different flavors. As with all such typologies, everyone will quibble with the types. (I did.) Also, I think he makes a valid point about Dawkins–certainly Dawkins’s support for the now-famous petition could be viewed as coercion–just like if the religious right tried to make it illegal for parents who want to teach their children that same sex parents are an acceptable alternative family structure to do so. Surely such a move would be viewed as anti-gay coercion.

    Painting with a broad brush brings to mind Larry Moran, who turns it into an art form. He is fond of saying something along the lines of when will you IDiots stop using the term Darwinist? which is so stupid that the mind reels.

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    December 29, 2006

    Oh, I have to disagree with you there, David, and agree with Larry. The term “Darwinist” sets my teeth on edge and always has, because it’s essentially meaningless as used by the anti-evolution types. It’s just a buzzword for “them”, without any substantive meaning at all. When scientists use the term and its various cognates, they mean something very specific by it, something that only has meaning in a specific historical context. When creationists use it, they rip it from its context and void its meaning completely, turning it into nothing but an empty buzzword. It absolutely drives me nuts.

  11. #11 David Heddle
    December 29, 2006

    Ed,

    perhaps you missed my point–which is his neverending use the term “IDiots” (which is so middle school, and so 2004) even when, in the same breath, he complains about the use of the term “Darwinist.”

  12. #12 SteveF
    December 29, 2006

    Ed, I’d hazard a guess that David finds the use of IDiot in conjunction with Darwinist to be stupid. I’m somewhat sympathetic to this line of thought – calling the opposition IDiots isnt overly helpful, although there are undoubtedly idiots amongst them.

    Agree with your wider point though.

  13. #13 doctorgoo
    December 29, 2006

    hmmm… I always thought they used the term “darwinists” to imply that we worship Darwin instead of God, and therefore we must be wrong.

  14. #14 Gretchen
    December 29, 2006

    I think the categories that Ed outlined a while back are a lot more useful than these typologies. That is, there are people who see this conflict in terms of evolution vs. ID, and people who see it in terms of superstition vs. rationality. Dawkins is one of the latter– his fight is for people to aspire to rationality in all things, from their view of the empirical world to their moral dispositions. Others, such as Eugenie Scott, might desire the same thing (or not) but choose a much more narrow focus, the conflict between ID and evolution specifically. According to Dawkins such people are being disingenuous, but I don’t see it that way. Just because a person doesn’t choose to confront others on a certain matter doesn’t mean that they are hiding their feelings about it or are insufficiently sincere in what they do argue.

    Also, the terminology here is grossly problematic. I agree that the term “coercive” really doesn’t apply, and actually would argue that doesn’t actually make sense to talk about trying to “coerce” someone into agreeing with you, unless of course we’re talking about Inquisition-style torture or blackmail (neither of which, to my knowledge, Dawkins employs). And as always, the use of the term “scientism” lets me know with about a 90% certainty that we’re talking about a person who is afraid of what science can tell him about himself. There are exceptions to this, but they certainly appear few and far between.

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    December 29, 2006

    David-

    Ah, on that I agree with you. I don’t like the term “IDiots” and I don’t use it. Dembski, Behe and the other major ID advocates may be many things, but stupid they are not.

  16. #16 steve s
    December 29, 2006

    Type E: This group of critics can tell that ID is bullshit. For some reason they have a problem with dishonest Discovery Institute folks decorating old broken philosophical arguments with scientific jargon and equations, and then selling it to rubes. They think, for reasons unclear, that wholly wrong arguments for fundamentalist christianity shouldn’t be promoted as science in classrooms.

    Mike Gene is smarter than Joy, but that’s the definition of ‘not saying much’.

  17. #17 CThomas
    December 29, 2006

    Ed, I’d be curious to hear your reaction to the following hypothetical. Assume that (contrary to fact) by an incredibly unexpected development sometime in the future, genuine, legitimate research somehow proved that biological organisms had been “designed” by an intelligent agent. Just stipulate that whatever such proof would be required for you to come to this conclusion were produced. How would you react to someone taking that scientific evidence and announcing, “This proves the existence of God and the truth of Christianity.”? I don’t know about you, but I would say that such a claim would be unwarranted. All the evidence shows (again, this is stipulated under my hypothetical) is that somehow or other biological organisms on Earth were created by some intelligent agent somehow. You would need additional evidence to identify who or what that agent was — you couldn’t just leap from that to the existence of a God in anything like the traditional sense. I think the scientifically appropriate response to such a discovery (without more evidence) would be total agnosticism about the identity of whatever the thing is that did the designing, but certainly a great interest in looking into the matter empirically.

    Do you disagree with my last paragraph? If you agree with it, then I think Mike Gene is right that “intelligent design” if valid would not be essentially religious. The motivations of the proponents of intelligent design might be religious, but I don’t think that turns the inquiry into a religious one. If some scientist were moved to investigate astronomy because he or she believed in God and saw it as investigating the way God controls the universe, quoting that admittedly religious statement would not mean that astronomy was religious.

    (This is superfluous, but just to avoid any possible confusion: None of this assumes that there is the slightest evidence for intelligent design in the actual world, or that there any problems whatsoever with the orindinary understanding of biological evolution embraced by the scientific communjity.)

    Regards.

    CThomas

  18. #18 slpage
    December 29, 2006

    Frankly I dont see how classifying the opponents of ID is going to help them any.

    It isn’t, and it probably is not meant to be. More likely, it is just “Mike Gene” playing “Look how smart I am – I can classify and psychologize mt enemies!”. He used to do it pretty frequently on ARN rather than dealing with legitimate criticisms. Which was ironic, as he (and other IDcreationists) used to comlain about being ‘classified’ himself.

    But, we should not expect much else from his ilk. He has nothing to offer supportive of his position. I suspect his book will just a litany of things that make ‘Mike Gene’ go ‘hmmm…’. And that is supposed to oh so impress us all…

  19. #19 steve s
    December 29, 2006

    If you want a good example of the outrageous behavior that has even nutty religious types like Heddle running for the exits, PZ has a good new post about UncommonlyDense.com

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/innocence_lost.php

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    December 29, 2006

    CThomas-

    Again, I do think it’s possible to take such an agnostic position; I’ve never said otherwise. I think, for example, that the Raelian conception of design, that life on earth was planted by aliens using advanced biotechnology, does not necessarily require a supernatural designer and thus could be viewed as non-religious. But those people simply aren’t relevant. The ones I fight against are not merely arguing that life on earth was the result of alien biotechnology, they are arguing that the universe itself was made by this designer, and what possible word could you have for that except God? It may not be the Biblical Christian god, but belief in a supernatural creator is common to all theistic religions. And the ones I am fighting against are trying to put materials into schools that are explicitly creationist, like Pandas. If and when they actually produce some research that confirms their ideas, then we can talk about whether it should be in schools or not; we aren’t even close to that point. The little research their advocates have produced actually works against their arguments (like the Behe and Snoke paper, and the Axe paper). Until they produce such research, ID is nothing more than a PR campaign.

  21. #21 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 29, 2006

    Ed wrote:

    Until then, it will be seen for exactly what it is, a PR campaign to place a thin veneer of scientific-sounding terminology over good old-fashioned religious anti-evolutionism. And that has nothing to do with being closed-minded; it has to do with being able to accurately discern what is going on and not fall for attempts at misdirection.

    Whether the motivations are religious or not, the scientific issues are still there. I see the objections by the science majors and professors at secular universities. How can 1/3 of the nation’s physcians favor ID over Darwinian evolution if Darwinian evolution is supposedly as well established as gravity?

    What I find at the university level biology classes is that we have ID-sympathetic students being exposed to evolutionary theory over the course of 4 years. They find arguments for common ancestry compelling but Darwinian evolution completely inadequate if not outrighly idiotic. There are lots of non-creationist students who can easily share the outlook of Sternberg, Behe, Denton, Crocker, etc.

    You can continue to believe the theories are intact and that the objections are the result of religious motivations. However, it might be instructive to note the reactions of the Cornell ID class this last summer. Most of the students were anti-ID, and they thought Dawkins arguments in Blindwatchmaker were an utter disappointment. There are bio faculty in many places who will privately concede that as well.

    If Darwinian theory were as persuassive as the theory of gravity, there wouldn’t be a problem, but until it can give compelling answers to its numerous difficulties, it’s very premature to be declaring it as on par with real scientific theories (like electro magnetism). Pro-ID students and even many on the fence in the university who study real science will, upon hearing such inflated claims, ascribe less credebility to those making such claims.

    It is also instructive to note, many of the today’s principle ID proponents were cut from the Theistic Evolution mold (like Miller and Collins), not from the traditional creationists (contrary to the stereotype being promoted).

    Regarding your suggestion about the dishonesty of the ID proponents, it might be instructive also to see how poorly that argument is received by highly intelligent pro-ID students (recall they make up a sizeable demographic in the USA, nothing to sneeze at). I recall one student when confronted with claims of Dembski’s dishonesty, replied:

    Dembski’s character is not a matter of discussion on this thread; even if he is a vile scoundrel, that is perfectly irrelevant. The question here has to do with math, which, happily, is not relative and cannot be tarnished by unsavory associations. It remains that everyone here has utterly failed in making any relevant critique of CSI or its use in the design inference. There hasn’t been anything to clarify/improve simply because the critiques haven’t got to that level.

    At the end of the day, the question remains how well grounded is Darwinian evolution upon scientific first principles. The answer at best, is “not very well.” You can keep trying to assure yourself that Darwinian theory is as good as the major theories of physics and chemistry, but I would encourage you to reconsider that position.

    I wish the young students, post-docs and professors that I know could speak and tell you plainly that they accept ID because it seems a more adequate explanation scientifically. It is these students and faculty who form the real core of the movement, and it is these which you will not easily hear from given the current environment.

    I would suggest before you make pronouncements that the theory you defend is as sound as gravitational theory, that you consider there is a chance your perception of its scientific basis could be all wrong. Or at the least, it’s a bit premature.

    Happy New Years,
    Sal

  22. #22 Ed Brayton
    December 29, 2006

    Sal-

    Let us know when you come up with an actual ID theory and a way to test it rather than the standard (literally, decades old) discredited arguments against evolution and then go and actually do the work necessary to confirm it. Then and only then will ID be taken seriously. Until then, ID is nothing but a PR campaign and a highly dishonest one at that. Every single piece of research that the IDers have so far claimed support ID have not only not supported ID, in some cases they have strongly supported evolution (especially Behe’s paper, which concluded that a biochemical system that he himself said was IC could evolve in only 20,000 years even if the parameters are deliberately rigged to make it as unlikely as possible). Without an actual theory and a means to test it, ID is nothing but a meaningless catchphrase that stands for a good old fashioned god of the gaps argument – not evolution, therefore God. History is replete with the rotting carcasses of that argument made over and over and over again. It has no credibility whatsoever.

  23. #23 MarkP
    December 29, 2006

    This just in on SalNews:

    Physicians vote on the theory of human origins:

    Evolution: 66
    Intelligent Design: 33
    Very Silly Party: 1

    “Well Bob, this has got to be a huge blow to the IDists. They thought they finally found a group with at least a little scientific credibility to side with them, but it turned out not to be so. How many losses in a row is this?”

    “I can’t count them any more Dan, but next week we will hear from the gay left-handed dentists. Maybe they will have more luck there.”

    “But Bob, it doesn’t seem to matter to the IDers and their supporters though. They’ll just claim it is really a victory, that the Darwinist Media was biased against them, and according to Old Lady Barnaby, all the ID chads were well hung.”

    Back to the studio.

  24. #24 Ed Brayton
    December 29, 2006

    I didn’t bother to respond to the argument about some percentage of doctors accepting ID; it’s a profoundly ridiculous argument. For some reason, creationists are incredibly enamored of this particular logical fallacy, the appeal to inappropriate authority, or what might also be called the “argument from really smart people” – “this group of really smart people believes X, therefore X must be true or valid or worth considering.” If someone cited a poll that said that 38% of all university professors read their horoscope, no one in their right mind would think that this had anything to do with the validity of astrology.

    The main point of my response to Sal is this, and I mean this sincerely: there is no such thing as ID. It doesn’t exist. It’s not a theory, it’s not a model, it is nothing more than a label given to a set of arguments, all of them old creationist arguments relabeled, and given to a movement of people who promote such arguments. It’s a catchphrase. Until someone comes up with a positive statement of what ID actually is, an ID model that attempts to explain the natural history of life on earth, and then draws testable hypotheses from it and does the hard work to establish that model as having explanatory power, it simply does not exist.

  25. #25 MarkP
    December 29, 2006

    Ed, you are being too generous calling the Doctor Poll reference an argument, which is why I dealt with it the way I did. Some comments are so inane the only appropriate response is satire.

    I also can’t help chuckle every time I see an IDer comment about how succesful they are in indoctrinating children, as if this were a point in their favor. “And a child shall lead them…”

    A small correction: its the “argument from really smart people who don’t have any advanced knowledge of the subject in question”. Biologists think the IDer biology is crap, mathematicians think ID math is crap, lawyers think ID law is crap, etc. But boy howdy, them IDers are SHORE good at getting people that don’t know Shiite from Shinola to buy their snake oil, yessiree.

  26. #26 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 30, 2006

    The main point of my response to Sal is this, and I mean this sincerely: there is no such thing as ID. It doesn’t exist. It’s not a theory, it’s not a model, it is nothing more than a label given to a set of arguments, all of them old creationist arguments relabeled, and given to a movement of people who promote such arguments. It’s a catchphrase. Until someone comes up with a positive statement of what ID actually is, an ID model that attempts to explain the natural history of life on earth, and then draws testable hypotheses from it and does the hard work to establish that model as having explanatory power, it simply does not exist.

    I’m posting this not because I think I’ll ultimately persuade you about ID, but because I think you might at least want to know about the other side of the ID movement that is not in the public forefront, the side that is hidden for good reason, and the side that I see and work with….

    However you may wish to view ID in your own mind, is your choice. But even for the sake of argument, let’s suppose many of modern ID’s origins are of suspicious origin (not that I believe it, but for the sake of argument, let us suppose this). The question about its truthfulness still remains.

    One of the reasons ID finds sympathy in a measurable demographic in the general population as well as the population of physicians is that Darwinian evolution is failing on scientific merits in their eyes. Physcians and many in the general population have little to no institutional incentive to keep promoting Darwinian evolution, evolutionary biologists do.

    Whether ID is a formal research program or not in the present day, it will draw a sympathetic ear by many who have no institutional incentive to accept Darwinian evolution, and this includes a good number of University professors and up and coming scientists.

    You are focused on what is happening in the public school board rooms, the courts, and the elections, and peer-review committees. I am focused on what is on peoples minds. Your weblog is about culture wars. I do not view the main battle fields of this culture war as in the courtrooms or school boards but at the individual level. That is where the ID battle grounds really are.

    You may argue there is no ID theory. For the sake of argument, suppose that is true. I’ll respond by saying, “so what?”. Why do I say that? Consider what happened when I encounter young students genuinely curious about ID vs. Darwinian evolution who do not care about such definitional minutia. Do you think arguments about the degree of peer-review or funding of research labs or the Dover Court ruling or claims about Kent Hovind or William Dembki’s honesty or even my honesty will mean that much to these individuals? Do you think they’ll care that ID is claimed to be Creationism’s Trojan Horse? Those issues hardly even come up!

    The issues that come up are what empirical evidence exists and which framework gives a more adequate explanation. For example, I met a couple computer science students entering junior year who were Christians. I pointed out the cell is a computer with operating systems and software and compilers. I simply posed the question, “do you think Darwinian evolution can make that? You design computer systems, do you think Darwinian evolution can make something like a computer system?” They shook their heads and laughed that evolutionary biologists actually believe that Darwinian evolution can create such systems! And I can guarantee you there ain’t an evolutionary biologist on the planet who can take first principles of information science and computer science and make a case that Darwinian evolution can account for these systems. Do you think someone like Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers will have any persuassive effect on these highly intelligent future citizens of society?

    For these students, there was no need to discuss peer-review, Biologic Institute, Dover, Cobb county, Kent Hovind, NCSE, or whatever. They could care less about that….For them, they are learning to design computer systems, and computer system design requires intelligence, therefore it is reasonable to them the computer systems in the cell are intelligently designed. Until evolutionary biologists can speak their language and prove they understand and respect the obstacles posed by information and computer science and engineering, these kids won’t take them seriously. They’ll have even less incentive to do so after PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins leave a foul taste in their mouth.

    The ID war is being fought at the personal level one person at a time. That is where the action really is. For as long as you keep persuading yourself these highly educated and intelligent people are deluded by their religious views, you’ll be missing the reasons they accept ID.

    I was sincere about the post-docs and professors and students that I know personally, and there are many. (Recall the polls at UCSD and Iowa State?) It is outside of the media focus, the court rooms, the school boards where the battle and debate over the truthfulness of ID is really taking place. The fact that evolutonary peer-reviewed literature is being so readily dismissed speaks volumes about how much credibility some institutions command in the eyes of the next generation.

  27. >>>
    On Coercion and Stereotypes
    by MikeGene

    Ed Brayton has replied to my blog where I offer a typology of ID critics. I should point out that I offered this typology up to readers of Telic Thoughts in an attempt to encourage more fair-mindedness about the critics of ID, recognizing a diversity of thought and attitude among them. For example, one should not use Richard Dawkins as the archetype of all ID critics and then paint someone like Ed with this particular broad brush.

    <<<

  28. #28 Christensen
    December 30, 2006

    And now Dawkins is linking on his official website to a petitions to make it illegal to take children to church.

    Of course, this is quite consistent for someone who calls religious education intellectual child abuse.

    And what do you do with child abusers? You lock em up.

    Coercion, ED?

    Yep.

  29. #29 Lurker
    December 30, 2006

    How can 1/3 of the nation’s physcians favor ID over Darwinian evolution if Darwinian evolution is supposedly as well established as gravity?

    Easy.

    1) There is weak selective pressure during admissions selection to identify potential physicians who are also scientifically literate. A relatively poor science student can be an MD if that component is offset by personal qualities, e.g.

    2) Amongst physicians, they are roughly classified into academic medicine versus private practice. Those in academic medicine do research and are therefore more scientifically literate in the evidence of evolutionary biology. If there is any doubt the importance of evolution in modern medicine, one only needs to do a PubMed search. The poll offers no breakdown data in this manner, leading me to suspect that it was heavily biased to doctors not doing research.

    3) There is a poll that says only a quarter of physicians use computers during practice. How can one say that computers are well established in society if so many doctors avoid them?

  30. #30 steve s
    December 30, 2006

    Salvador can’t come to grips with the fact that he’s been sold a bill of goods.

  31. #31 MarkP
    December 30, 2006

    Sal said: You are focused on what is happening in the public school board rooms, the courts, and the elections, and peer-review committees. I am focused on what is on peoples minds.

    You left out ignorant Sal. You are focused on what is on ignorant people’s minds. To hell with what learned people on the issues of education, law, politics, and science (kindly listed by you above) think about their areas of expertise, as long as you can persuade ignorant kiddies and backwoods rednecks, right? This is why you guys are such a joke. You’re like a pro boxer who will box anyone but other pro boxers and thinks your stellar record means something.

    Consider what happened when I encounter young students genuinely curious about ID vs. Darwinian evolution who do not care about such definitional minutia.

    Ah, “pathetic level of detail” by any other name, eh? Salspeak to English translation, “feh on clarity of expression and factual support, I know the truth!”

    I’m waiting for your criticism of scientists altering their theories in light of new evidence any moment now.

    I pointed out the cell is a computer with operating systems and software and compilers.

    You lied to them. A cell is not a computer. It may have many analogous traits, but that is not the same thing at all, nor does it justify the conclusions you draw from it.

    Still don’t see why your ability to recruit ignorant children to your flock isn’t something to be proud of?

  32. #32 steve s
    December 30, 2006

    Still don’t see why your ability to recruit ignorant children to your flock isn’t something to be proud of?

    Well, ID is a political failure, a legal failure, and utter scientific failure, so one-on-one evangelism is basically all they have left.

  33. #33 C.Loach
    December 30, 2006

    Sal said
    “Do you think someone like Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers will have any persuassive effect on these highly intelligent future citizens of society?”

    I would imagine that people who accept things at such a shallow level of detail (cells==computers==god) would quickly be outcompeted in the marketplace both of ideas and the more general $$ based marketplace by more talented individuals. These people will forever be only pawns of others who have taken the time to understand their worldview and then are able to manipulate them to their own ends (generally, give me $$).

    Sal needs unquestioning ignorance for his survival. If he can be seen to give the answers “hey kids, imagine a computer evolving? Silly huh” and they are accepted, whatever the right’s and wrongs of it he’s gaining ground.

    Sal also said
    “You may argue there is no ID theory. For the sake of argument, suppose that is true. I’ll respond by saying, “so what?”.

    Note there was no attempt to say that there is an ID theory and take a moment to put in a link! So Sal has admitted there is no ID theory (not that we didn’t know that anyway!), but it’s nice to see it out in the open from a lackey of UD.

  34. #34 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 30, 2006

    You lied to them. A cell is not a computer.

    Well well well, take a look at this paper from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Molecular Algebra which goes in to the conception of the cell as a computer with compilers and programming languages and a program.

    If you tell these kids I lied, then I’ll show them these kinds of peer-reviewed papers. You think you’ll have any credebility in their eyes?

    Oh, here is a peer-reviewed paper by Trevors and Abel: Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life
    which I commented on here:
    Perfect architectures which scream design

    Trevors and Abel said regarding life:

    We could even add a fourth question. How did inanimate nature design and engineer (4) a cell [Turing machine? (Turing, 1936)] capable of implementing those coded instructions?

    Turing Machine? As in computer?

    Or how about this peer-reviewed paper on self-replicating cellular Turing Mahines (computers) by cellular biologist Albert Voie: Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

    Gee MarkP, is this the level of intellect and education I have to compete with here and before the students? :-) No wonder we’re beating the snot out of our competition in public debates.

  35. #35 djmullen
    December 30, 2006

    Salvador says:
    Regarding your suggestion about the dishonesty of the ID proponents, it might be instructive also to see how poorly that argument is received by highly intelligent pro-ID students (recall they make up a sizeable demographic in the USA, nothing to sneeze at). I recall one student when confronted with claims of Dembski’s dishonesty, replied:

    Dembski’s character is not a matter of discussion on this thread; even if he is a vile scoundrel, that is perfectly irrelevant. The question here has to do with math, which, happily, is not relative and cannot be tarnished by unsavory associations. It remains that everyone here has utterly failed in making any relevant critique of CSI or its use in the design inference. There hasn’t been anything to clarify/improve simply because the critiques haven’t got to that level.

    djmullen: Ok, let’s leave aside Dembski’s dishonesty and proclivity for fart jokes and concentrate on his “math”.

    1: His various posts “proving” that evolution is so unlikely as to be impossible make the exact same mistake as generations of young earth creationists have made before him: they give the odds of some complex thing forming in one shot. Evolution doesn’t work like that. It uses cumulative selection to add information a few bits at a time. See Dawkins’ “Weasel” example and ignore the criticisms that Dawkins has provided a goal. He states that in the same chapter where he gives the example. His point is that cumulative selection generates large amounts of information in a very reasonable time compared to doing it all in one step.

    2: His “No Free Lunch” theorem is not only wrong when it comes to the No Free Lunch theorem (we have the word of the man who wrote the theorem to attest to that), it proves that Dembski has absolutely no clue about what’s really going on in evolution. Once the first, simple, replicator starts replicating, evolution stops doing blind searches and starts searching only areas that are very close to the parent organism in “phase space”. It does this by changing only a tiny part of the genome each time. This leaves the other 99.999999 percent of the genome intact. As an example, a mutation that affects a protein that is used only in the heart doesn’t affect the eyes, lungs, stomach, kidneys, skin or any other part of the organism – all those organs are identical to the parent’s, so the new individual is very close to its parent in the phase space.

    3. Dembski’s “explanitory filter” is a testament to his inability to think clearly about anything having to do with religion or evolution. It tests for exactly two things: Is “x” exclusively due to random causes or exclusively due to physical law. If it’s not either of the above, the filter lights up, “DESIGNED”. How about something, like Darwinian evolution, that’s caused by a combination of chance and law? You can’t even run that through the explanitory filter! It’s utterly incapable of handling it. But you CAN run a designer through it and it shows up as being designed!

    4. And, although this isn’t mathematical in nature, let’s not forget Dembski’s utter inability to recognize a crank when he sees one. For an extreme example, look to the April-September 2002 issue of P.C.I.D. magazine for Chris Langan’s towering monstrosity and reflect that Dembski personally selected that piece of crap for his “serious scientific publication”. For more examples of the type of cranks that are attracted to Dembski and ID, look at the majority of the postings on Uncommon Descent.

  36. #36 MarkP
    December 30, 2006

    Sal bloviated: Well well well, take a look at this paper from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Molecular Algebra which goes in to the conception of the cell as a computer with compilers and programming languages and a program.

    It’s an analogy, and sometimes a good one. Sometimes it’s a bad one. Nonetheless, a cell is not a computer as is obvious.

    If you tell these kids I lied, then I’ll show them these kinds of peer-reviewed papers. You think you’ll have any credebility in their eyes?

    Again with the kids. Congratulations Sal, you are good at convincing kids of fool propositions. Get bored with Santa and decide to play with something more complicated?

    Gee MarkP, is this the level of intellect and education I have to compete with here and before the students? :-) No wonder we’re beating the snot out of our competition in public debates.

    Like the vote of physicians 2 to 1 for evolution and against ID/creationism?

    Like Dover?

    Tell me, what color is the sky in your world?

    Keep losing and pretending you’re winning. It makes our jobs that much easier.

  37. #37 secondclass
    December 30, 2006

    Sal said: I see the objections by the science majors and professors at secular universities. How can 1/3 of the nation’s physcians favor ID over Darwinian evolution if Darwinian evolution is supposedly as well established as gravity?
    More importantly, why do you make a claim about scientists, which certainly constitute the relevant group here, and then cite stats about physicians? Why not back up your claim with stats about scientists?

    Sal said: I recall one student when confronted with claims of Dembski’s dishonesty, replied:

    Dembski’s character is not a matter of discussion on this thread; even if he is a vile scoundrel, that is perfectly irrelevant. The question here has to do with math, which, happily, is not relative and cannot be tarnished by unsavory associations.

    Sal, as you admitted here, you don’t even understand Dembski’s math, even though it’s nothing more that basic probability theory. Dembski’s “work” has been decisively refuted over and over, but the refutations are over your head.

    Sal said: No wonder we’re beating the snot out of our competition in public debates.

    One of the tell-tale signs of pseudoscientists and pseudomathematicians is their bravado when it comes to oral debates, but disinterest in submitting their “work” to peer review. Witness Dembski, who is “blase’” about publishing in math or science journals, but waxes bold when it comes to challenging Barbara Forrest to a debate.

  38. #38 Kristine
    December 30, 2006

    Sal said: For as long as you keep persuading yourself these highly educated and intelligent people are deluded by their religious views, you’ll be missing the reasons they accept ID.

    Okay, Sal. Answer me this.

    If it were unequivocably demonstrated that 1)design did indeed occur (I’m not holding my breath, but this is just a conjecture), and 2)that it was shown to be empirically not the action of a transcendant, supernatural, benevolent Designer who could qualify as God, but indeed aliens, or a time-traveling biologist, or a transcendant, supernatural, and malevolent entity (i.e., Satan), how would you, and Behe, and Dembski react then? Would this be the triumphant culmination of all your “research”?

    Just wondering.

    I may not be religious anymore, but I know theological danger when I see it.

  39. #39 Salvador T. Cordovaq
    December 30, 2006

    Sal, as you admitted here, you don’t even understand Dembski’s math, even though it’s nothing more that basic probability theory. Dembski’s “work” has been decisively refuted over and over, but the refutations are over your head.

    I pointed out we might need a clarification from Bill on his symbols rather than relying on your interpretations of what he said.

    And no it’s not been decicively refuted. You guys haven’t even decicively represented it accurately, much less refuted it.

    Recally, YOU were the one that bailed out of the exchange you cited, not me.

  40. #40 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 30, 2006

    One of the tell-tale signs of pseudoscientists and pseudomathematicians is their bravado when it comes to oral debates, but disinterest in submitting their “work” to peer review.

    Call us what you wish 2ndclass. I’m cynical of a peer-review environment that welcomes trash science like Avida and Darwinian evolution. Hardly worth the time, imho.

    There are good peer-review environments that probably deal with other disciplines like chemistry and physics, but evolutionary biology isn’t one of them.

    And so what if you want to label ID proponents as pseudo-scientists, that might only be a small rhetorical propaganda victory on your part. You have a next generation of up and coming scientists with backgrounds in information science that will be questioning the Darwinist paradigms and finding the same distortions, evasions, equivocations, and fallacious arguments that you and your friends promote to me and those in the blogsphere.

    Do you feel you’re up to answering the question posed in Trevor’s and Abel’s paper to the next generation? Well, you better, because those are the kinds of peer-reviewed papers I delight to present to the kids.

    Consider that Cornell evolutionary biology/design class. Most of the kids were favorable to Dawkins until they read his sorry excuse of an argument for a sorry excuse of a theory known as Darwinian evolution. Perhaps it should bother you they weren’t exactly beaming with “Eureka” after reading Dawkins.

    Recall what the one pro-ID student said, “it doesn’t matter if Dembski is a vile scoundrel”. What matters is whether the math supports or refutes Darwinian evolution. At the very least, one should say it’s premature. Certainly not something as obvious as the pythagorean theorem as you tried to insinuate elsewhere.

  41. #41 slpage
    December 31, 2006

    Cordova writes:
    I pointed out the cell is a computer with operating systems and software and compilers.

    Why would you ‘point out’ something so childishly simple-minded and naive?

    Oh… right…

  42. #42 slpage
    December 31, 2006

    Oh, here is a peer-reviewed paper by Trevors and Abel: Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life
    which I commented on here:
    Perfect architectures which scream design

    Trevors and Abel said regarding life:

    We could even add a fourth question. How did inanimate nature design and engineer (4) a cell [Turing machine? (Turing, 1936)] capable of implementing those coded instructions?

    They are IDcreationists associated with the sham ‘Origin of Life Prize’.

    Who cares what they think?

  43. #43 slpage
    December 31, 2006

    You have a next generation of up and coming scientists with backgrounds in information science that will be questioning the Darwinist paradigms and finding the same distortions, evasions, equivocations, and fallacious arguments that you and your friends promote to me and those in the blogsphere.

    And these up and comers with their information science backgrounds – will THEY perhaps have at least some basic understanding of the biology they will pretend to be addressing? Or will they point to pictures of skeletons and demand to know how evolution allowed the ribs to fuse at the ventral midline? Or will they also declare that time erases molecular hierarchies and “prove” this by presenting a 10-character string and ‘mutating’ it a few times to ‘prove’ their point?

    I think when those ‘intelligent’ pro-ID students realize that the ‘evidence’ they’ve been sold for ID is nothing more than naive just-so stories, strawman anti-evolution arguments, and unwarranted, unsupported rhetoric, they will be just as unconvinced as everyone else that actually understands the science involved (that does not have a religious predisposition to reject anything that does not conform to their preconceived notions – like you).

  44. #44 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 31, 2006

    They [Trevors] are IDcreationists …
    Who cares what they think?

    Why Dr. Page, how charming to see you again. Always puts a smile on my face.

    Trevors happens to be an atheist. On what basis then do you assert he is an ID creationist?

    Did you just fabricate that comment outta the air (like you usually do)? And even if he were an ID creationist, given that 50% of the population are ID creationists, that won’t matter, in fact that would endear them to that particular demographic group. And then we have 35% Theistic Evolutionists (many of whom we would classify as ID Evolutionists) who would at least be tolerant. Man, you have no sense of PR and marketing…

    That aside, your side must refute the very sound arguments of Trevors and Abel’s papers, and it must be refuted on the principles of information science (a science probably as fundamental as any, since it is almost pure math).

    I think when those ‘intelligent’ pro-ID students realize that the ‘evidence’ they’ve been sold for ID is nothing more than naive just-so stories, strawman anti-evolution arguments, and unwarranted, unsupported rhetoric, they will be just as unconvinced as everyone else

    Dr. Page, you may sincerely believe that, but in all the 2 years I’ve had exchanges with you, about 5% of what you have said made a dent. The other 95% could be placed in the category of how you dealt with my comments about Trevors and Abel. You fabricated something out of the air just to say something. Just like you made these other strawman misrepresentations such as the following:

    And these up and comers with their information science backgrounds – will THEY perhaps have at least some basic understanding of the biology they will pretend to be addressing? Or will they point to pictures of skeletons and demand to know how evolution allowed the ribs to fuse at the ventral midline? Or will they also declare that time erases molecular hierarchies and “prove” this by presenting a 10-character string and ‘mutating’ it a few times to ‘prove’ their point?

    You have one comment over Trevors shown your readiness to fabricate something untrue just to say something. What sort of credibility can that possibly command? Your above comments fall in the same category, but its not worthwhile to waste time dismantling it…

    In any case, the IDers will continue to enjoy debating you guys. We have the luxury of being able to evolve and mutate and improve ideas just like the evolution of bacterial resistance. There will come a day you’re side will have fewer and fewer anti-dotes for our arguments. Your side has already been so blown out of the OOL debate that IDers and thier sympathizers are getting their papers through peer-review on the topic and you won’t even try to debate us on it publicly. Care to point to the pathetic few paragraphs at Talk Origins on the topic?

    It’s so bad, that now your side says, OOL is not part of evolutionary theory. So what? That little compartmentilization trick still leaves the question wide open in people’s minds, and it just looks like an evasion on your side’s part.

    In fact, the IC argument works really well for OOL. As Eugenie Scott predicted, if your side contests the Bacterial Flagellum, our side will find something better, and indeed we have in the Biological Turing machine. You guys are so blown out of the water on that one, you ought to hope the focus remains on the Bacterial Flagellum (and even then, you guys won’t win that argument)…

    In any case, Dr. Page, why should you be enthusiastic about fighting the oncoming tide. Even if you are right, Natural Selection is on the side of ID in the culture wars. See: Dennett gives scientific reasons ID will prevail.

    Your side is guaranteed, in other words, to lose the culture war (either because ID is ultimately true, or because Natural Selection favors IDers), and your side may lose the science war as well. To quote the Borg, “it is useless to resist, you will be assimilated.”

  45. #45 MarkP
    December 31, 2006

    I’m so glad that Sal has been so open with us about ID being all about PR rather than science. Quite illuminating.

  46. #46 GMH
    December 31, 2006

    “Your side is guaranteed, in other words, to lose the culture war (either because ID is ultimately true, or because Natural Selection favors IDers), and your side may lose the science war as well. To quote the Borg, “it is useless to resist, you will be assimilated.”

    Assimilated? Not while I breathe, sir.

    It is ultimately comforting to see you reveal with such clarity your underlying motivation and methodolgy. I am particularly tickled by your bald admission that you neither know nor care whether ID is true or not, so long as you ‘win’.

    Look, all you can do in the end is kill us. I don’t mean just ‘our side’ but ultimately our civilization and perhaps even our species. In ‘victory’ you will have stripped us of the cultural, intellectual and methodological tools necessary for us to survive the sorts of existential challenges we WILL face – and your irrational and faith-based analogues will not serve you.

    I am also bloody-minded enough to be further comforted by the thought that IF you and your ilk do succeed in so killing us, then it is the fate we will have deserved as a manifestly unfit species.

    Oh, but in the meantime? Expect some resistance…

  47. #47 DuWayne
    December 31, 2006

    Good grief Sal,
    In any case, Dr. Page, why should you be enthusiastic about fighting the oncoming tide. Even if you are right, Natural Selection is on the side of ID in the culture wars. See: Dennett gives scientific reasons ID will prevail.

    I actually read your bit and MikeGene’s. The problem is that you assume that we are all willing to accept base, human nature. Many of us (my somewhat theist self included) want to transcend our biological impulses, thus why we don’t “do battle” over every minor annoyance. Evolution provided us with the ability to reason, along with those impulses. While I am not in favor of attempting to stamp out religion, I am in favor of lessening the impact of any religion on the rest of society. In that, we are succeeding admirably and will continue to do so. That in spite of these religous impulses, evolution gave us, because of the reason that evolution also provided.

  48. #48 secondclass
    December 31, 2006

    Sal said:I pointed out we might need a clarification from Bill on his symbols rather than relying on your interpretations of what he said.

    When two events are conjoined, the resulting sample space is the cartesian product of the two original sample spaces. Anyone with a basic grasp of probability theory knows that. Don’t blame your lack of understanding on Bill’s writing, which was perfectly clear on this point.

    Sal: You guys haven’t even decicively represented it accurately, much less refuted it.

    Support that or retract it. Are you going to bring up the “formal definition of CSI” again and then disappear as you always have when your complaint is shown to be specious?

    Sal: Recally, YOU were the one that bailed out of the exchange you cited, not me.

    I bailed because, after a couple weeks of posting, you had made zero progress in addressing the problems I pointed out. The specific counterexample to the LCI that we were discussing wasn’t new to you. You yourself came up with it more than two years ago. Have you made any progress since then? If so, then by all means, let’s continue the discussion. Otherwise, it’s obvious that you’re advocating concepts that you’re incapable of defending.

    Sal: I’m cynical of a peer-review environment that welcomes trash science like Avida and Darwinian evolution. Hardly worth the time, imho.

    If you discount peer review, how do you distinguish good biology from junk biology? Are you sufficiently educated in the subject to reliably assess the work of biologists?

    Sal: Do you feel you’re up to answering the question posed in Trevor’s and Abel’s paper to the next generation?

    Most likely not, since I’m not a biologist. But I do know that processes are deterministic to the degree that they’re not indeterministic, and vice versa, which means that chance and necessity constitute an exhaustive set. If you can tell me how Trevor and Abel circumvented this problem, I’ll read their paper.

    Sal: Perhaps it should bother you they weren’t exactly beaming with “Eureka” after reading Dawkins.

    I seem to recall some negativity toward Dawkins, which I share to some degree, as he tends to overstate his case. Fortunately, evolutionary theory doesn’t rest on Dawkins’s pop sci books. It’s a huge, rigorous community research effort. Contrast this to Dembski’s work, which rests completely on his shoulders, as he’s the sole inventor and developer of his concepts.

  49. #49 Salvador T. Cordova
    December 31, 2006

    When two events are conjoined, the resulting sample space is the cartesian product of the two original sample spaces. Anyone with a basic grasp of probability theory knows that. Don’t blame your lack of understanding on Bill’s writing, which was perfectly clear on this point.

    I see someone is willing to put a spin on what was really discussed. The issue was regarding what was on page 160 of Dembski’s work. For the readers benefit this is what Bill wrote on page 160:

    we can let omega be the Cartesian product of omega1 and omega2 and then embed A and B canonically in omega.

    The cartesian product of omega1 and omega2 can be easily defined, but I was little reluctant to affirm what the process was of embedding A=(T1,E1) and B=(T2,E2) canonically in omega without a little more elaboration. Sure I had my ideas, but I wanted to double check what the author (Bill Dembski) meant since it was not elaborated in his book.

    So you didn’t exactly characterize in your above comment what was transpiring in our conversations, did you? Not to mention, our conversation at that SpecifiedComplexity weblog was to try to clarify what the symbols meant for sure, not to try to make it an opportunity to insult the other person at the table trying to clarify meanings and definitions of symbols in cooperation with you.

    Support that or retract it. Are you going to bring up the “formal definition of CSI” again and then disappear as you always have when your complaint is shown to be specious?

    Say what? let the reader go back to that very weblog SpecifiedComplexity and see who said adios first. Let me quote what transpired there by you:

    I see no reason for me to continue going around in circles with you. So this is adios. Thanks for the fun discussions.

    Just when it was getting fun you bail. I was just about to ask you to present an example of canonically embedding A and B into Omega. In fact, I was going to suggest we do it with your robot example and Shallit’s example. Then YOU bailed out, not me.

    How convenient to walk out of the discussion in a huff, claiming we’re going around in circles. What’s the matter, a little scared of trying to take Shallit and Elsberry’s hack job and seeing if the represented Dembski’s work accurately? How about you try fitting their traveling salesman strawman and identifying Omega1 Omega2 and then embed A and B in the omega that is cartesian product of Omega1 and Omega2. If Shallit and Elsberry wish to refute LCI with that example, they could have chosen to do so using the symbology and concepts Dembski used to argue his case, but did they do that? No! I argue, that if they had, the strawman fallacy would be even more apparent than it was.

    Let the readers here note, I caught various examples of Elsberry and Shallit’s equivocations. See: SSDD: Shallit and Elsberry’s Equivocations and Bluffs

    Maybe it would be apparent your boys only put together a strawman like they did with the rest of their “paper”. You score no points with the ID community (especially the young generation like the IDEA club at Cornell) if you condone the kind of hack job and strawman knockdowns Shallit and Elsberry put together. What they did was disingenous at best and you know it.

    Furthermore, during the Cornell debate you let PvM just keep doing his Chewbacca defense when for 50 posts even after one of the students called him on his nonsense. You just stood by and let that sort of suspect behavior go by without comment before the students. Is that how it goes? You standby idly while your comrades distort and misrepresent ID literature while unsuspecting students are expecting honest and accurate representation? Is it any wonder the two most gifted science students in MacNeill’s class found your side’s arguments a little difficult to accept (for the reader’s benefit Rabia Malik was bio-chemistry major, and Hannah Maxson a triple major in Chemistry, Math, and Physics).

    But you see, my reputation is not an issue. I can be a vile scoundrel in their eyes, but my character is not what they are questioning. Your side has to carry the day that they have the answers to these students valid and mathematically framed questions. When your comrades try to answer these students sincere mathematical questions by directing the conversation to claims about me or Dembski character, it does not give them much assurance that your side can defend its claims.

    If you discount peer review, how do you distinguish good biology from junk biology?

    Just look at how other biological disciplines are more highly esteemed than evolutionary biology is esteemed and you’ll know what I mean. Let me point out, even Jerry Coyne says his own field lurks near the bottom of the pecking order. The notable exception in evolutionary biology is population genetics.

    seem to recall some negativity toward Dawkins, which I share to some degree, as he tends to overstate his case. Fortunately, evolutionary theory doesn’t rest on Dawkins’s pop sci books. It’s a huge, rigorous community research effort.

    But Neither Dawkins or any evolutonary biologist on the planet can answer the basic question I rhetorically posed to the college students, “do you think Darwinian evolution [or some other mindless process] can make that kind of system [a self-replicating Computer]“.

    It’s up to the evolutionary community to give them a convincing answer if the evolutionary community wants to be seen in their eyes as a scientifically valid discipline. If the best answer your side can give is to denigrate these kids values and philosophical beliefs rather than answer a valid mathematically framed scientific question from first principles, you really can’t blame them for returning back to our side. Heck, I don’t even have to try to insulate them from anything your side says. I gladly send them to places like PT and Pharyngula and college level evo classes. I have no reason to expect they’ll be getting much of any sound scientific answers for their very probing and quite valid questions. Maybe a few insults because they express skepticism of evolutionary theory.

    Most likely not, since I’m not a biologist. But I do know that processes are deterministic to the degree that they’re not indeterministic, and vice versa, which means that chance and necessity constitute an exhaustive set. If you can tell me how Trevor and Abel circumvented this problem, I’ll read their paper.

    I’m afraid you still don’t get it. If your side wishes to persuade the rather large number of people on my side, the burden is on your side to answer the questions posed by Trevors and Abel. The burden is not for us to persuade you if your alls aim is to get more evolutionary biology accepted.

    Within the ID community some of us don’t expect the current generation of peer-reviewers to change their mind. The next generation however, might be more receptive, and the mext generation was at places like the Cornell ID class…

    You can imagine phrasing your answers to students with Junior or Senior level Computer Science, Math, or Engineering backgrounds. I’m afraid won’t be able to, because Trevors and Abel are fundamentally correct. And neither will a biologist who has even less knowledge of information science. Some of what you say may wow the unitiated, but I really don’t think it will fly with the pro-ID students in the disciplines I mentioned, nor even non-ID students willing to be hard nosed about first principles.

  50. #50 secondclass
    January 2, 2007

    Sal:The cartesian product of omega1 and omega2 can be easily defined, but I was little reluctant to affirm what the process was of embedding A=(T1,E1) and B=(T2,E2) canonically in omega without a little more elaboration.

    The “process” of embedding A and B into omega is exactly the same as it is for any two events. A maps to the set of tuples containing A, and B maps to the set of tuples containing B. There’s nothing difficult or mysterious about this.

    Sal: So you didn’t exactly characterize in your above comment what was transpiring in our conversations, did you?

    Um, yes, I did. But thanks for the baseless accusation.

    Sal: Not to mention, our conversation at that SpecifiedComplexity weblog was to try to clarify what the symbols meant for sure, not to try to make it an opportunity to insult the other person at the table trying to clarify meanings and definitions of symbols in cooperation with you.

    The symbols that Dembski uses in this passage are completely standard. If you don’t understand them, then you have serious problems.

    Sal: Say what? let the reader go back to that very weblog SpecifiedComplexity and see who said adios first.

    If you would actually read what I wrote, you’ll see that I’m referring to your “formal definition of CSI” complaint. You brought it up on PT, and you dropped the subject after it was shown to be specious, only to recycle it on Allen’s blog and drop it again when it was shown to be ridiculous for several reasons. Your claim that Dembski’s work hasn’t been accurately represented is baseless.

    Sal: I was just about to ask you to present an example of canonically embedding A and B into Omega.

    I did present such an example with the coin and die, so why would you make such a request?

    Sal: In fact, I was going to suggest we do it with your robot example and Shallit’s example.

    You embed the events from those examples into their respective larger omegas exactly as you would do it for any other case, as I showed with A and B above. Now you have your answer. Does it shed any light on the topic of that thread? Of course not.

    Sal: Then YOU bailed out, not me.

    The purpose of the thread was to determine whether you could resolve some the problems inherent in Dembski’s approach. After you languished on an irrelevant passage from NFL for a few weeks, it was clear that you, in fact, cannot resolve those problems. So the matter is settled, unless you want to change your tacit but very clear answer to the original query.

    Sal (referring to Shallit’s and Elsberry’s paper): What they did was disingenous at best and you know it.

    An utterly baseless accusation. You’re full of them.

    Sal: Furthermore, during the Cornell debate you let PvM just keep doing his Chewbacca defense when for 50 posts even after one of the students called him on his nonsense.

    I don’t recall that, but it’s ironic that you would complain about this after refusing to budge from the irrelevant “cartesian product” issue on the SpecifiedComplexity thread.

    Sal: You standby idly while your comrades distort and misrepresent ID literature while unsuspecting students are expecting honest and accurate representation?

    Another baseless accusation.

    Sal: Just look at how other biological disciplines are more highly esteemed than evolutionary biology is esteemed and you’ll know what I mean.

    It’s amazing then that thousands of evolutionary biologists publish peer-reviewed papers every year. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that peer review carries no weight in their field.

    Sal: But Neither Dawkins or any evolutonary biologist on the planet can answer the basic question I rhetorically posed to the college students, “do you think Darwinian evolution [or some other mindless process] can make that kind of system [a self-replicating Computer]“.

    I’m guessing that most people’s intuition would say no to that question. It’s also a fact that most people’s intuition stinks when it comes to questions whose parameters fall far outside the range of everyday life. I’m guessing that most people would also say that a particle can’t be in more than one place at once, but they would be wrong. Appeals to intuition may be handy in PR campaigns, but they’re useless when it comes to scientific confirmation.

    Sal: If the best answer your side can give is to denigrate these kids values and philosophical beliefs rather than answer a valid mathematically framed scientific question from first principles, you really can’t blame them for returning back to our side.

    I don’t recall ever denigrating any kids’ values, and I don’t know what you’re referring to when you say “philosophical beliefs”. Please elaborate on that, and please tell me what “valid mathematically framed scientific question” you’re referring to.

    Sal: I’m afraid you still don’t get it. If your side wishes to persuade the rather large number of people on my side, the burden is on your side to answer the questions posed by Trevors and Abel.

    In other words, you don’t have an answer to my simple question. Thank you.

    Sal: The next generation however, might be more receptive, and the mext generation was at places like the Cornell ID class…

    How many conversions to ID resulted from that class?

    Sal: You can imagine phrasing your answers to students with Junior or Senior level Computer Science, Math, or Engineering backgrounds.

    As someone with a background in those disciplines, I don’t see how any of them are ID-friendly.

    Sal: Some of what you say may wow the unitiated, but I really don’t think it will fly with the pro-ID students in the disciplines I mentioned, nor even non-ID students willing to be hard nosed about first principles.

    Well, I hope that’s not the case, but I wish you well in your campus crusade.

  51. #51 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 3, 2007

    Seems like Sal is giving away the IDiot strategy here.

    the other side of the ID movement that is not in the public forefront, the side that is hidden for good reason

    So that is why Sternberg is so important – to put up a wall to hind the lack of progress behind.

    There are good peer-review environments that probably deal with other disciplines like chemistry and physics, but evolutionary biology isn’t one of them.

    This PR argument will get little traction, since the peer-review system is similar and is vouched for by all scientists.

    As Eugenie Scott predicted, if your side contests the Bacterial Flagellum, our side will find something better, and indeed we have in the Biological Turing machine.

    So you propose that since Behes IC argument isn’t an argument against evolution developing biological systems (futile, since evolution predicts interlocked systems), you will switch to a Turing argument.

    It is still futile.

    You can build an algorithmic system by adding properties until it becomes an efficient computational system, a turing system. In fact, since the relevant property is recursion, evolution among replicators is turing complete, so it isn’t surprising to find that DNA and cells are turing complete, nor that the brain are.

    The power of that argument shows itself because this is the road some biologists researches to see how evolution picks up information from the environment. One possible way is that population models of asexual organisms looks exactly like bayesian inference models used in machine learning. (Each individual is a “hypothesis”, which aposteriori selection has improved the “theory” of the environment.)

    The new papers:

    a peer-reviewed paper by Trevors and Abel: Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life

    It is true that Darwinian evolution with variation and selection (“chance and necessity”) is not relevant for abiogenesis, since we are studying how the first replicators arise. Nothing new here, please move on.

    peer-reviewed paper on self-replicating cellular Turing Mahines (computers) by cellular biologist Albert Voie: Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

    Except that he doesn’t mention turing systems much, except to contradict what Trevors and Abel says, that cells are turing complete, in a failed argument from ignorance against evolution. He makes no predictions from ID whatsoever.

    Mostly he discusses why gödel incompleteness makes formal systems (like algorithmic ones) open and flexible. This is of course a good property to have, both for evolutionary systems and brains.

    A professional critique of Voie’s paper from a CS’er is already existing ( http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/07/peer_reviewed_bad_id_math.php ). It rips everything apart and ends with: “This stinker actually got peer-reviewed and accepted by a journal. It just goes to show that peer review can really screw up badly at times. Given that the journal is apparently supposed to be about fractals and such that the reviewers likely weren’t particularly familiar with Gödel and information theory. Because anyone with a clue about either would have sent this to the trashbin where it belongs.”

  52. #52 John
    January 3, 2007

    Sal wrote:
    “I’m afraid you still don’t get it.”

    You’re projecting. You don’t get the most basic aspects of the scientific method.

    “If your side wishes to persuade the rather large number of people on my side, the burden is on your side to answer the questions posed by Trevors and Abel.”

    Sal, speaking for myself, I don’t give a damn about persuading you, because you’re a blatantly dishonest idiot. I simply want you to STOP LYING. Do the Christian thing, OK?

    “The burden is not for us to persuade you if your alls aim is to get more evolutionary biology accepted.”

    The way that evolutionary biology is accepted is by the production of new data from the testing of evolutionary hypotheses. Contrast that with the absence of any data from the testing of ID hypotheses, yet you still lie and call it “theory.”

    In addition, every other field of biology (including every single one of the fields in which I work) produces data that has the potential to falsify modern evolutionary theory, particularly the megabases of DNA sequences produced every day.

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