Pharyngula

After tweaking Paul Nelson on his six year delay in explaining Ontogenetic Depth, he has posted a reply. No, it’s not the long promised explanation. Instead, here’s what he’s got:

  • PZ Myers’ criticisms don’t count and were all wrong!

  • But, well, he now realizes Ontogenetic Depth is a “a poorly expressed and unusable idea.” (He’s quoting me there.)

  • So he has invented Ontogenetic Depth 2.0!

  • But he still hasn’t defined it.

  • But he promises to write a whole series of posts explaining why I was wrong!

Jebus. I tend to avoid the ID blogs because I’m not interested in watching someone masturbate in public. Nelson hasn’t persuaded me at all that he has anything sensible to contribute. But sure, moving his hands more will accomplish the end he’s actually working towards.


Speaking of expert and professional wanking, would you believe Casey Luskin and Dembski are still obsessing over Dawkins’ old “weasel” program? The level of pitiful incompetence over there leaves me flabbergasted.

Comments

  1. #1 Andreas Johansson
    April 9, 2010

    If he’s masturbated in public for six years and has nothing to show for it, I submit he’s naturally shy and would be better served by some privacy.

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    April 9, 2010

    I favor the impotence explanation.

  3. #3 Caine, Fleur du mal
    April 9, 2010

    Speaking of expert and professional wanking, would you believe Casey Luskin and Dembski are still obsessing over Dawkins’ old “weasel” program?

    That happens when you let your brain atrophy.

  4. #4 Sili
    April 9, 2010

    Is it even possible to masturbate if impotent?

    And of course Dawkiepoo’s Weasel was flawed. It ran on a mac, innit.

    Now, what I want to know is, do we need to move the date we celebrate Paul Nelson Day in light of this revelation? Or should we just make it Paulukka covering however many days necessary?

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    April 9, 2010

    I favor the impotence explanation.

    Intellectually, I’d say we know that as a nearly irrefutable fact.

    As for the second meaning, well, I hope for no evidence either way.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  6. #6 Yubal
    April 9, 2010

    ….Dembski…

    ..let’s see if MarkCC debunks the new Dembski paper as well as he did with the previous one

  7. #7 sharky
    April 9, 2010

    OD 1.0 was intended to give some handle of what is required to build an animal where none existed before.

    I have the idea his conclusion would have been “why! god is required!”

    But in another six years, maybe Dembski and Luskin will have finally figured out the weasel thing.

  8. #8 stuv.myopenid.com
    April 9, 2010

    Is it even possible to masturbate if impotent?

    Sure! Just don’t expect results. And bring lots of lotion.

  9. #9 Kel, OM
    April 9, 2010

    Speaking of expert and professional wanking, would you believe Casey Luskin and Dembski are still obsessing over Dawkins’ old “weasel” program?

    Still? ffs! Why don’t they just write the program themselves and see that it actually does work?

    From H Allen Orr’s review of No Free Lunch:
    The astonishing thing is that Dembski knows all this. In a remarkable revelation?and one that follows two hundred pages of technical mumbo-jumbo?Dembski suddenly announces that Darwinists won’t find his NFL objection terribly relevant. And why not? For the very reason I just gave. Dembski even quotes Richard Dawkins at length, who, it turns out, warned all along that his METHINKS? example is misleading in important ways. One of these is that, in each generation of selective “breeding,” the mutant “progeny” phrases were judged according to the criterion of resemblance to a distant ideal target, the phrase METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL. Life isn’t like that. Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection?.In real life, the criterion for selection is always short-term, either simple survival or, more generally, reproductive success.

  10. #10 madbull
    April 9, 2010

    The hamming network is actually a pretty cool Artificial Neural Network concept which I adore.
    Why couldn’t these morons stick to something drab like mouse traps while making incompetent arguments :(

  11. #11 PZ Myers
    April 9, 2010

    Because they are on a mission to poison everything.

  12. #12 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 9, 2010

    Luskin and Dembski aren’t worth a *facepalm* *headdesk*. More like a Bwahahahahahaha….idjits….

  13. #13 Kel, OM
    April 9, 2010

    Heck, I’ve even written a version of the program. It’s dead simple to write, and it shows that it works.

    And as a blast from the past, I saw Stimpy’s objection to the program – which has no relevance at all. But then again, he never really understood anything he was arguing.

  14. #14 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkGHsvYrJZSGyp9ejF9eYZ910JeMXhpiiM
    April 9, 2010

    Casey Luskin is wrong in so many ways

  15. #15 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 9, 2010

    My predictions <kazoo fanfare>:

    In a mere six years Paul Nelson will announce finding subtle flaws in Ontogenetic Depth 2.0 and promise us the unveiling of new and improved Ontogenetic Depth 3.0. Neither V2.0 nor 3.0 will be explained, the flaws in V2.0 will not be revealed, and PZ will continue to taunt Nelson on his vaporware.

  16. #16 Paul
    April 9, 2010

    And as a blast from the past, I saw Stimpy’s objection to the program – which has no relevance at all.

    My reading of his silly comment was that he was going so pull the old “there are x obscene number of amino acids in a single protein, and y number of different proteins that would need to evolve at the SAME TIME to make people, so there is no feasible mutation rate/generation size to make such a specific long string possible by chance”. But really, it would still converge on a solution. It would just take a long time. And we sure have had a long time to evolve. And if you were trying to model human evolution, you wouldn’t be doing it as a single string like the weasel program. You’d be evolving many different, much smaller component pieces individually, which are subsequently re-purposed over and over again, with minor modifications all along the line…

    In short, they go out of their way to misunderstand the problem. Dembski claims to have done Computer Science post-doc work at Princeton, there is no possible way he could not find a way to hack together the weasel program over the years he’s been complaining about it. He has to know he’s wrong by this point. Even if he can’t write code, he can compile one of the many available examples and view the source for signs of “cheating”.

    The sad part is, the current complaint is silly. while it’s true that the method used to compare and “select” based on closeness to the desired string makes the search more efficient at finding that string than otherwise, this doesn’t help their case for ID. If it was a general purpose design for evolution instead of one to converge on a different string to make a point, it would be quite feasible to simply mutate it until a word is created. Or a sequence of words. Which could then be evolved into a sentence with proper English sentence structure. There is no explicit need for the sentence to compare to to get an interesting result. Dawkins only compares to the intended sentence because it’s a quick, easy demonstration. Genetic algorithms are not limited to finding solutions “intelligently smuggled in” like Dumbski is trying to imply. It’s sad how much he’s focusing on a short, quick, one-off demonstration of mutation and (very specific) selection.

  17. #17 KOPD
    April 9, 2010

    But he promises to write a whole series of posts explaining why I was wrong!

    Tomorrow, right?

  18. #18 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 9, 2010

    And as a blast from the past, I saw Stimpy’s objection to the program – which has no relevance at all. But then again, he never really understood anything he was arguing.

    Alas poor Stimpy, we knew him not. Couldn’t quit on his own, and had to work hard to get PZ to ban him. I suppose I have the same difficulty understanding that reasoning as D&L have with the Weasel program…

    ‘Tis #15, I’ll drink to that…

  19. #19 Deen
    April 9, 2010

    Still obsessing over the weasel program? Wow.

    After reading the abstract, he seems to be trying to show that evolutionary algorithms aren’t optimal searches. Well, duh. Who ever claimed they were? They claim the paper was peer reviewed. How did it ever pass?

    Also, they keep referring to evolution as a search procedure. But it’s much more accurately described as an optimization procedure. Dawkin’s Weasel problem may have searched for a string, but it actually optimized a distance function, which happens to have a global optimum at the target string. Dawkins then shows that evolution is capable of finding this optimum, without knowing the structure of the function it optimizes. Dembski however insists on making the distance function part of the search algorithm.

    And their paper actually shows that evolutionary algorithms work, even if they are not optimal.

    I’m sure a full refutations will be pop up in various places pretty soon. Wouldn’t be surprised if for example Mark Chu-Carroll was already on it.

  20. #20 Paul
    April 9, 2010

    But really, it would still converge on a solution.

    I should add that that’s not quite right. If the population/generation size very small, it may not converge on a stable solution. But since life as a whole has not gone extinct, that hasn’t been the case, so using it as a practical point/example is just silly.

  21. #21 Kel, OM
    April 9, 2010

    In short, they go out of their way to misunderstand the problem.

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    It’s really not that hard to grasp, the easiest way is by thinking about one’s own existence. Stimpy’s father would have produced billions of sperm in his lifetime, and on the moment of conception there were still millions of other potential competitors that would have resulted in Stimpy’s non-existence. And even then, that’s only one iteration. This goes back generation after generation. Can chance really explain Stimpy’s existence?

    At any point in the 3.5 billion year chain of life, a single deviation would have resulted in Stimpy’s non-existence. Yet he is here! Stimpy’s existence is just too improbable for him to be here, therefore he could have never been conceived…

  22. #22 Deen
    April 9, 2010

    @14: well, that didn’t take long…

  23. #23 Sastra
    April 9, 2010

    No, waving your arms more vigorously is not an answer. But it does seem to work for Karen Armstrong.

    So poor Paul Nelson needs to take his ‘Ontogenetic Depth’ routine the heck out of science and crude empiricism, and start telling people that it measures those depths which utterly transcend our human understanding, and yet plummet to the heart of an apophatic desire beyond desire. That way, nobody is going to be waiting with bated breath for years in hope of further refinements and details, and Paul can concentrate full time on wanking.

  24. #24 sandlin.john
    April 9, 2010

    I’m curious, if the new Dembski and Luskin paper was peer-reviewed – who are these peers? Preachers and lawyers?

  25. #25 jahigginbotham
    April 9, 2010

    English usage quibble:
    After my tweaking of Paul Nelson on his six year delay in explaining Ontogenetic Depth, he has posted a reply.
    or
    After being tweaked on his six year delay in explaining Ontogenetic Depth, Paul Nelson has posted a reply.

    Nelson wasn’t doing the tweaking.

  26. #26 Yubal
    April 9, 2010

    Nelson wrote:

    OD 1.0 was intended to give some handle of what is required to build an animal where none existed before

    …ehrm…single cellular eukaryotes would be required….and it’s rather called evolved, not built.

    See, works without OD 2.0 :)

  27. #28 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 9, 2010

    Anti-science is so sad. These people obsess for decades on one or two little results that don’t even support their position and wonder why they’re choking on the cloud of dust science has left them in.

  28. #29 carpenteriam
    April 9, 2010

    On behalf of all Seattleites, please accept my sincerest apologies for existence of The Discovery Institute. We wish they would move to a more suitable venue, like Fulton, Mississippi.

  29. #30 Kel, OM
    April 9, 2010

    Anti-science is so sad. These people obsess for decades on one or two little results that don’t even support their position and wonder why they’re choking on the cloud of dust science has left them in.

    What’s even more sad is that their obsession is not over something important in the field, but an analogy in a popular book for the layperson which exists to help explain the difference between chance and selection.

  30. #31 Doc Bill
    April 9, 2010

    Under the heading of “You’re Kidding, Right?” our favorite attack gerbil, Luskin, complained that Josh Rosenau of the NCSA was hallucinating that Luskin was obsessed with a 20-year old sample program that Dawkins wrote. Silly Josh! How insane are you??

    Yet, not two days later the same Luskin was trumpeting a paper by Marks and Dembski attacking a 20-year old sample program that Dawkins wrote.

    WTF, Luskin? How do you breathe with your head so far up your ass?

  31. #32 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 9, 2010

    Doc Bill asks, “WTF, Luskin? How do you breathe with your head so far up your ass?”

    Why by asmosis, of course!

    Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week!

  32. #33 nejishiki
    April 9, 2010

    #13 Kel
    In order to compile your program, I had to add

    #include <cmath>
    #include <cstdlib>

    Works well, though.

  33. #34 Kel, OM
    April 10, 2010

    Weird, it worked for me without. Out of curiosity, how did you run it? I used a gcc library through an Eclipse IDE

  34. #35 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 10, 2010

    I tend to avoid the ID blogs because I’m not interested in watching someone masturbate in public.

    We need no such imagery. But, then again it is Friday.

  35. #36 Thunderbird 5
    April 10, 2010

    “I tend to avoid the ID blogs because I’m not interested in watching someone masturbate in public.”

    God finally got fed-up waiting for Nelson’s money shot and failed to renew his subscription.

  36. #37 nejishiki
    April 10, 2010

    @ #34

    Shit, that was just on my Linux Box at work (Fedora 10, x86_64). Works fine on my Mac at home. In both cases, I compiled and ran:

    g++ Weasel.cpp -o Weasel
    chmod +x Weasel
    ./Weasel

    Disregard that, though.

  37. #38 DiEb
    April 10, 2010

    Sorry for the Bunch-of-Numbers in No. 14…

    I think that the weasel is an excellent educational example – as anyone is able to program it and only few will have trouble to understand the underlying concept.

    But you can do a lot of basic math stuff with it.

    The newest paper (it’s a month old, now) tries to deconstruct the Dawkins’ weasel (Dembski’s own words), but it fails to do so: no one claims that the weasel is especially effective in any way (beside perhaps the minimalistic effort it takes to program it).

    The main thing about Casey Luskin’s article is that it shows that he hasn’t understood the subject: It seems to be the typical behavior of a science journalist (in the loosest sense of the word), to jump on a sciency sounding phrase (Hamming Oracle), and then to add some sentences which shows to everyone with a little bit of understanding that you have not the slightest idea what you are talking about, while sounding impressive enough for the uneducated readers – in this case stating the opposite of the findings of the authors (Luskin: The authors find that this form of a search is very efficient at finding its target Authors: In comparison, evolutionary search as modeled by Markov processes uses the Hamming oracle inefficiently).

    I gathered my thoughts on Dembski et al.’s new article here.

  38. #39 Feynmaniac
    April 10, 2010

    I find it hilarious that ID’s finest are still going over a simple, purely pedagogical program to help illustrate a point for a general audience, written by a biologist almost 25 years ago.

  39. #40 Kel, OM
    April 10, 2010

    You’d think that they would have been dedicating their time to making a proper ID hypothesis and devising experiments that could validate / falsify it.

    As an observer, it’s getting very frustrating to see the whole “Darwinism can’t explain X, therefore Designer (God) did it” argument made over and over again.

  40. #41 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 10, 2010

    Kel, OM #40

    As an observer, it’s getting very frustrating to see the whole “Darwinism can’t explain X, therefore Designer (God) did it” argument made over and over again.

    I have asked several ID aficionados to explain ID and give its strengths rather than try to demolish evolution. None of them have ever responded to this request.

  41. #42 Kel, OM
    April 10, 2010

    I have asked several ID aficionados to explain ID and give its strengths rather than try to demolish evolution. None of them have ever responded to this request.

    Yeah, I’ve done the same. Been over a year now, asked these questions to many different ID proponents in many different threads on here and elsewhere. Had a ton of views on the page. The only response so far? A Christian trying to say that they aren’t all idiots… (Christians, not ID proponents)

  42. #43 Feynmaniac
    April 10, 2010

    I like this description of Paul Nelson:

    If his wife sends him out to the store for a gallon of milk, does he come back a year later with cheese?

  43. #44 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 10, 2010

    Yes, Kel, the questions in your blog are two which the IDers need to answer in order to be taken seriously. The longstanding silence on these questions tells me not even the IDers believe in their theory.

  44. #45 Haruhiist
    April 10, 2010

    @Kel:
    looks good:) Read the comment by the ‘Intelligent designer’… I don’t think it mattered that it was parameterized, he still wouldn’t be able to change it. I think he couldn’t even change it if you used commandline arguments…

    That said, as I’m an annoying purist who likes c++ code with as much c++ style: why did you use fprintf and not ofstreams? I always find them easier to use:)

  45. #46 raven
    April 10, 2010

    I have asked several ID aficionados to explain ID and give its strengths rather than try to demolish evolution. None of them have ever responded to this request.

    I’ve asked creationists two questions many times without a single reply.

    1. Scientists developed modern 21st century Hi Tech civilization with lifespans increasing 30 years in a century. We help feed 6.7 billion people. What in the hell have you fundies ever done? Besides assassinating a few MDs here and there and sponsoring Xian terrorism.

    2. The creationists especially the IDists, seek to destroy science and replace it with “theistic science”. That was what the Wedge document was all about.

    So what is preventing fundies from practicing Theistic Science? There are no science police breaking down church basement doors to raid theistic science labs. The churches in the US take in c. $70 billion/year. It is a free country after all. Nothing that I can see.

    2. continued. Bonus question. What has theistic science ever discovered? Nothing that I can see.

    These are simples basic questions that anyone should be able to answer. I have never seen one single reply from IDists. {crickets chirping}

    PS One DI fellow did tell me I was going to hell. Changing the subject and BTW, ID isn’t religious.

  46. #47 norm.olsen
    April 10, 2010

    Paul Nelson writes:

    A problem that explodes in difficulty the deeper one looks is a problem that ought to make one question background assumptions. In this OD 2.0 series, that?s what I intend to do.

    Translation: “What the hell was I thinking!? Maybe I’ll just stick to whining about what biologists don’t know I’ll call that OD 2.0″

  47. #48 raven
    April 10, 2010

    I’ve dealt with a few DI fellows here and there.

    They were profoundly ignorant of science. No surprise. One was crazy, perhaps not clinically insane but crazy nonetheless. The other was either crazy or an amoral right wing extremist.

    They aren’t impressive intellects whatsoever.

    Even Phillip Johnson’s writings are obvious nonsense. He is a lawyer and makes a lot of weak and misleading statements that are easy to pick apart by anyone. His favorite tactic is to equate science and evolution with atheism, an obvious false equivalence.

  48. #49 Kel, OM
    April 10, 2010

    That said, as I’m an annoying purist who likes c++ code with as much c++ style: why did you use fprintf and not ofstreams?

    Probably a remnant of being taught a lot of C when learning C++. Using fprintf is second nature to me. Besides, these days I mostly code in Java.

  49. #50 Richard Eis
    April 12, 2010

    I’m sure a full refutations will be pop up in various places pretty soon. Wouldn’t be surprised if for example Mark Chu-Carroll was already on it.

    It has already been patiently explained to him already multiple times. The whole point of this paper has been discussed with him before. This is not willful ignorance of the subject, this is flat out lying, sneaky bullshit.

    It need not be refuted, he should simply have his nose rubbed in it, while saying “bad boy” and “naughty” in a loud, clear voice.

  50. #51 James Sweet
    April 12, 2010

    hahahahaha, the objection to the WEASEL program is priceless. Programmed with active information from an intelligent agent? DUH! I mean, they needed to do a whole research paper to figure that out? I could have told them that. Hint: METHINKSITISAWEASEL didn’t arise organically, it was chosen by the programmer. Surprise!

    It’s bizarre, because obviously the WEASEL program was never meant to prove anything. It is merely an easy-to-understand demonstration that helps people gain a visceral understanding of the power of selection (not natural selection, just selection) operating on randomly mutating inputs. It does not model evolution. It does not prove the feasibility of evolution. It’s just a demonstration to help people grasp the way in which a random process being operated on by non-random selection can produce a non-random result.

    In junior high school physics, the class played around with a Slinky to demonstrate various types of waves, i.e. compression wave, transverse wave, etc. I suppose if Dembski had seen this demonstration, his response would have been to write ten research papers pointing out that Slinky Theory does not provide a comprehensive mathematical understanding of waves… and he would further argue that, since if you talk into one end of the Slinky it does not produce sound on the other end, compression waves cannot possibly explain the transmission of sound through the air, and therefore sound must be caused by tiny invisible angels permeating the air and playing an eternal game of telephone.