Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


A Challenge to Intelligent Design-Bashing Regulars on this Blog

posted by David Klinghoffer

You know who you are. Rather than go on grousing about how there’s no evidence for intelligent design, it’s not science, and so on and so forth, here’s my challenge to you personally. Read Stephen C. Meyer‘s new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne). He lays out a massive evidentiary case. As a philosopher of science, he also explains what science is. If you really want to tell me there’s no positive scientific evidence that biological information coded in DNA reflects purposeful design, then go ahead and read Meyer’s book and report back to me your reasoned response.

If you tell me, “Yeah, I don’t need to read it, I know what he’s going to say” — then you’ve just proven to me that you’re not serious. On the other hand, if you’ll go ahead and read the whole book, including the appendix where he lists and describes 12 ways in which ID is testable, I will take your response very seriously. The most thoughtful response I receive I will highlight in this space. So it’s a contest! But remember, you have to read the book, not just about it.


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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm


There’s no reason why I shouldn’t repeat what I previously posted here, especially since neither David nor Meyer has in the slightest answered anything I wrote then. Now slightly modified from the Forward version of it:
I discussed that and more a couple of weeks ago in the following(taken, and slightly modified, from blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/06/strip-clubs-v-darwinism.html):

If anyone wants to see how “very important” Meyer’s rehash of old and useless “ID arguments” is, here’s a preview:
browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061472787&WT.mc_id=REFLH1_PUB_SignatureintheCell_061809
Needless to say, it’s underwhelming. It’s a long dreary story of how he came up with his “new argument” (DNA’s complex, so god did it) for ID, complete with the usual false claims about ID, and the false dichotomy that if evolution didn’t do it, god did, never mind the lack of any indications for intelligent design. He doesn’t even bring up actual evidence for “intelligent design,” merely relying on the old anthropocentric fallacy of assuming that functionality is design, or at least that it “looks like” design. From p. 12:
“…Natural selection…, a purely undirected process that nevertheless mimicked the powers of a designing intelligence.”
That is exactly the kind of nonsense that we’re always getting from these clowns, mainly because they either are too ignorant to face the rather large differences between design, or they know better than to do so, and wish to simply conflate evolutionary effects with “design effects,” the better to ignore the crucial evidence for evolution that design never has explained at all.
Evolution can’t possibly mimic what design can do. It can’t pick the best materials for a purpose, it can’t come up with truly novel characteristics in organisms, it can’t make the rational leaps that designers routinely effect, and so it can’t produce a steam engine or a decent wheel. Evolution can’t smelt metals, use fire, make rockets, or make vertebrate wings out of anything but terrestrial limbs.
Meyer has no interest in dealing with the real issues, in other words. Indeed, most of his polemic is aimed at the origin of life, and of the genetic code. Is the latter a largely unexplained matter in evolution? I believe it is, although there are hints in life of a time in which the code was not so rigidly followed, and in fact it may be that a number of evolutionary events needed a less rigid code. But then does Meyer explain how and why additional (apparently later evolved) amino acids, like pyrrolysine, co-opt a stop codon for coding?
No, apparently not. It’s not interesting, he just wants to say that if events happening perhaps billions of years ago are not explained, then evolution falls apart. He needn’t explain what evolutionary theory does, goddidit is all the “explanation” that is needed. Evidence for design isn’t needed, because life “looks designed,” something that even many ancients didn’t believe–hence the magical and reproductive myths accounting for what was decidedly unmachinelike.
He writes very misleading junk like this (p. 396–context complicates this, but I don’t want to write it all out):
“…[Critics] do not [typically] dispute that DNA contains specified information, or that this type of information always comes from a mind…”
They likely would, if Meyer wasn’t simply begging the question by assuming exactly what he needs to prove. And of course many do disagree with it strenuously and use evidence to do it, but he’s not going to address those matters, just the “critics” he’s blabbing to usually don’t know enough to do more than to invoke authorities.
And from the same paragraph (p. 397):
“Nor do they even dispute my characterization of the historical scientific method or that I followed it in formulating my case for intelligent design as the best explanation for the evidence.”
Again, of course, he’s still writing about critics selected for their lack of addressing the issues minutely and in detail (in talks, not in writing where his egregious claptrap is well demonstrated to be nonsense). But of course he didn’t in the slightest follow proper scientific procedure of carefully matching up identifiable cause with identifiable effect, he simply used the false dilemma of “if evolution hasn’t explained it, god did it.”
By the way, he often uses Dembski as a reliable source, when Dembski’s pseudoscientific writings have been thoroughly and appropriately skewered. Most notably, because Dembski doesn’t rely upon empirical data for his calculations, and he insists upon very specific targets in evolution. The fact that he calls what is simple, “complexity,” obviously is meant to conflate our often simple creations with the very complex and undesign-like structures of life, and is an egregious misuse of language.
As far as I can tell, from the limited text and the index, Meyer does not come up with even the usual ridiculous claims of “falsifiability” of ID that Cornelius Hunter promised (if not with those denotations and connotations). Apparently the naive conflation of functionality and design that many have made is enough “evidence” of design for Meyer, and he doesn’t need to do the science needed to actually shore up his claims.
Well, those were the most obvious inanities, fallacies, and unsound reasoning that I saw in the preview. It’s the usual bit of nonsense coming from the DI people, barely different from the worthless propaganda that we’ve already seen.

Perhaps you don’t understand what’s required, David. ID would have to be falsifiable–and not some tired repetition of the mendacious nonsense that we’ve seen from DI flacks over and over again.
I mean, gee, are we supposed to think that Luskin’s list was wrong, but Stephen’s will be right, at last? That ID has been an utter failure thus far, but if we pay the guy who used Jefferson as an authority on ID in the Boston Globe undeserved money for more mendacity, we’ll at last have an actual science of ID?
Since you’ve never answered a single important question that we’ve asked of you, while supplying copious answers to ID thus far, it’s quite fair to say that the person who clearly isn’t interested in dealing with the issues is David. Oh yeah, and Stephen Meyer, who has stayed judiciously away from answering for the utter bilge that he wrote in the Boston Globe. We’re supposed to answer his lies, of course, while he and David have absolutely no obligation to answer anything that honest scientists and science enthusiasts bring forward.

On the other hand, if you’ll go ahead and read the whole book, including the appendix where he lists and describes 12 ways in which ID is testable, I will take your response very seriously.

This is laughable. I already gave you answers to what was made available (remember, a preview is supposed to let you know what the book is about, so ought to be representative–if the preview is representative, Meyer is as disingenuous as the rest of the CSC people), and you didn’t take that seriously at all, that I can tell.
You just want to string us along and make demands on us, while you fail completely to answer the real questions that evolution answers. One of the important things to remember when dealing with pseudoscientists is not to end up playing their dishonest games, while they are excused from even discussing science properly, let alone doing any. That’s why I keep bringing up what you and Meyer will never do, which is to answer why all vertebrate wings are made from the forelimbs of their terrestrial ancestors instead of from something promising (or via first principles), and why Archaeopteryx is “poorly designed” in the way that evolutionary theory predicts of transitionals (that is, because they’re only partly adapted to their new mode of existence) rather than being well-designed or even “poorly designed” in the way that humans make poor designs.
You’ll never deal with the real issues, you’ll always try to change the subject, and to make the rules for discussion fit your propaganda purposes. That’s why you insist that we read rot, while you refuse to read honest science.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm


By the way, I’m not a “design basher,” I’m a person who has supplied numerous reasoned arguments against the fraud that you are perpetrating. I am a basher of pseudoscience, however. That you’re a science basher is more than clear, David, both in the way that you attempt to substitute ad hominem attacks (most commonly, “Darwinists,” but “design basher” is equally lacking in truth and decency) for substance, and in the way that you do not take seriously anything except junk that follows the disingenuous rules of debate that your ilk tries to enforce.
But that’s not why I’m commenting again, I just thought the sheer mendacity of your entire approach should not be ignored just because it is continuous and tiresome. What I really wanted to do was to point out how void of substance Meyer’s claims about the DNA code are, by cross-posting the following from Jerry Coyne’s site:

Everything should be exposed, from the fact that Meyer is a shill for the IDiots, to the fact that the DNA code is in many ways very unlike a computer code. Its stochastic activation and basic evolvability is what would be expected from evolution, not from an intelligent coding agent.

I’ve said this before here, but it bears repetition, the particular wording coming from my comment on Jerry Coyne’s blogpost “Pro-intelligent-design editorial in Boston Globe”:

Of course the important issue of DNA, the fact that it is essentially what is predicted by evolution, a conservative (thus digital-like, not analog) information storage medium, which can yet change sufficiently to allow for evolution, is the issue that Meyer ignores. It just wasn’t convenient, not like begging the question of the origin of the DNA code by conflating it with design was convenient.

I bring these up especially in order to point up the fact that there are huge numbers of issues that Meyer and others ignore, while they try to do what David’s attempting, narrowing the focus to the gaps in evolutionary explanation. They provide no answers for anything, by contrast, while evolution is explanatory for most issues that can be relatively readily investigated. Meyer and company want to focus on processes for which a very considerable amount of the data is missing, because they have nothing to tell us about more recent and well-documented changes.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 5:55 pm


because they have nothing to tell us about more recent and well-documented changes.

Or about anything else, just to be clear.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm


“He lays out a massive evidentiary case.”
When’s the Nobel Prize Ceremony?
oh..uh…”Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science in 1991″
Not a working biologist, not doing field or lab research.
Never mind.
Here’s the challenge to you. I’ve read “The Design Inference.” I’ve read “Darwin’s Black Box” and the “Edge of Evolution.” I’ve even read Meyers’ article in the “Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.”
Before I shell out any money for this, What’s NEW? What does he say that wasn’t put out by Behe and Dembski?



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm


I understand that Darwin predicted something that was very different than DNA. Darwin talked about Gemules, which are much more maliable than DNA. He also said that Gemules were found in the body cells of organism, and were changed by the environment. They then found their way into the sex cells, where they provided the variation that natural selection works on. Evolutionists were reluctant to accept modern genetics for a long time. This is because Mendelian genetics says that heredity is controlled by discrete units that are passed intact from parent to offspring. It wasn’t until the development of the modern synthesis, which inclides mutations that evolutionists began to accept genetics.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm


Do you have a scientific point, “Your Name,” or are you just trying to show how inept you are at science, as usual?
Just because David calls us “Darwinians” in his attempt to twist the facts does not mean that the ID twaddle about our “following Darwin” are in the least bit true.
Yes, isn’t it amazing that science actually learned from genetics, instead of adhering to false ideas like pseudosciences do? Then various thinkers looked at what the modern synthesis entailed about genetics and evolution, and made predictions about the material that held the genes. And DNA turned out to fit those predictions within the proper tolerances.
Your problem with Darwinian literalism only highlights your lack of understanding of science.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm


But modern genetics is not what evolution predicted. Thats all.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm


But modern genetics is not what evolution predicted. Thats all.

And that’s not what I said, either.
On to a different matter: Why aren’t you letting my earliest comment through, David? Just because it shows up the fact that we provide answers, and you and Meyer provide nothing?
Let’s put it another way. Luskin’s prediction that parts would be re-used by a designer in systems which are different, which is about the same as Behe’s prediction that a designer would utilize merely “conceptual precursors” and not only “physical precursors,” has been falsified.
With that being the case, why would we consider ID to be worthy of any further consideration? Does Meyer explain that problem in his book? If so, we’d need to at least know something about how he does it (not that he does explain it, of course, as anything that important would be trumpeted on the web by the IDists).
That isn’t the only way that any honest ID has already been falsified, of course, but it’s a good example. Until you guys can give us any reason to believe that such apparent falsification doesn’t work, ID is properly considered to be pseudoscience.
You just want to control the “debate” by narrowing it to the attacks on evolution that Meyer has in his book, rather than allowing the debate to cover the highly successful predictions of evolution that ID fails to duplicate in any manner, or the fact that falsifiable ID has already been falsified.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Interested Layperson

posted July 21, 2009 at 7:36 pm


Your Name, I am not a scientist but I am pretty sure that modern discoveries as to genetics and DNA are quite consistent with the theory of evolution.
Just because Darwin didn’t predict it doesn’t mean, as you put it, that “evolution didn’t predict it.” Darwin being wrong about something doesn’t somehow invalidate evolution.



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2009 at 7:48 pm


Genetics had to be modified via the concept of mutations in order to accomodate evolution.



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2009 at 7:52 pm


And the quote from Coyne sited above says that DNA is what was predicted by evolutionary theory, being binary and all. But the evolutionist needed an analog system, the Gemules, until they came up with the modern synthesis.



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 21, 2009 at 8:13 pm


Glen, I didn’t block any comment from you, just FYI.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm


Glen, I didn’t block any comment from you, just FYI.

Well, I posted it three times, and although each post was different, the quoted portion was the same. All three came up with the whole “thank you for submitting your comments” and “held for the owner’s approval” page (those presumably aren’t exact quotes).
I assumed they, or at least one of them, would be approved soon. But they weren’t.
Since you’re saying that none was blocked, I have to assume that some problem exists with the system, or some such thing.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Turmarion

posted July 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm


Your Name: Good science is always open to change and modification when new evidence becomes available. That’s the heart of what science is about. Science and scientists don’t make eternal prophecies that if changed invalidate the whole endeavor–that’s a severe misunderstanding of how science works.
Isaac Newton didn’t “predict” that the speed of light was the ultimate speed possible, or the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction, or general relativity, or quantum theory, or any of that. That doesn’t mean that Newtonian physics is “wrong”. It just means it was modified, expanded, and adapted over time as new evidence came in and scientists such as Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac and many, many others integrated the new knowledge and ideas into the older framework, keeping some things, rejecting others, modifying still others. That’s how science is done.
Glen: The CAPTCHA is evil–I’ve had several things that weren’t initially posted, too, usually because of too many links. Usually they turn up the next day.
David: I don’t have the budget to buy the book and it’s not at my library currently. Additionally, since my training is in math and physics, not biology, it takes me longer to read through such things thoughtfully and with good understanding. People I trust who know the material have pretty much shredded Meyer. However, I am willing, when possible, to read the book.
The other side of this is quid pro quo, in the interest of fairness and true dialogue. Are you willing to read Saving Darwin, by Karl Giberson, or The Language of God by Francis Collins, or Finding Darwin’s God, by Kenneth Miller? I know you’ve said some unkind things about some of these authors, but are you willing at least to read them, give them a chance, as you are asking us to do? If you are, then great. If not, then isn’t it a bit inconsistent, to say the least, to ask others to do something you yourself are unwilling to do?
I might also point out that the last series of questions I’ve asked you, to which you still have not responded, are philosophical, not scientific. As the late, great Mortimer Adler always said, philosophy is everybody’s business. The points I brought up don’t require that you read a book–just that you respond. Well?



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Turmarion

posted July 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm


Having mentioned the last series of questions, I decided I should put them in here, just as a reminder. I said I’d post them on every thread, but that would be a bit trollish, so I forbear. Nevertheless, I think I’ll put it in every two or three threads, or so, to keep the question out there until there is some kind of response.
David, in his post on Francis Collins: “On the other hand, that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.” Please explain to me how this is one whit different from theistic evolution. David, you said on that same post that you’d like to see someone debate Collins or ask him some pointed questions; yet you resolutely avoid all such questions and attempts at debate here. This one, which seems to me a statement of what almost anyone would refer to as theistic evolution, is especially egregious. I think I’m going to re-post it on every thread, if that’s what it takes to get you to speak to it. I mean, really!
Finally, this does not count as a response to what we’ve been asking you about Maimonides (as I said above, a one-sentence quote from an author of a biography about him isn’t arguing his philosophical statements!). We’re still waiting. Also, I’m still waiting to hear you speak to the issues of randomness and alien intelligence vis-à-vis the “image of god”.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm


I have to second Glen and Tumarion here.
David has never yet made any good faith attempt to engage in debate on substantive issues. He distorts quotes and does not present opponents’ views fairly. He says he doesn’t want to talk about science, just about “worldview implications”, then he makes baseless assertions about science which he refuses to defend.
Now he’s saying we have to buy one of his coworker’s books before we’re allowed to talk to him?



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John Pieret

posted July 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm


“Your Name”:
“But modern genetics is not what evolution predicted.”
“Evolution” didn’t predict anything about heredity except that offspring would be similar to parents. Darwin assumed the commonly accepted view of heredity of his day, blending heredity, and tried to make his ideas work within that framework. It caused him no end of trouble too. It turned out that genetics fit his theory better than blending heredity but genetics was not modified to accommodate Darwin’s theory of evolution. In fact the early geneticists (the ones who proposed mutations — since empirically confirmed) did not think natural selection was a major force in evolution. They came together only because that’s where the evidence led.
If you are so interested in Darwin’s theory (instead of modern evolutionary theory) wouldn’t it be nice if you learned some of the actual history?



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Max Weismann

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:42 am


We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery–three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos, lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.
Three hours with Mortimer Adler on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.
I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are–we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.
Please go here to see a clip and learn more:
http://www.thegreatideas.org/HowToReadABook.htm



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Your Name

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:13 am


John Peirit:
Evolution has to account for the variation that natural selection acts on. That’s why Darwin came up with Gemules. Blended heredity only means that the offspring resemble both parents. How do you go from there to a new species?
And anyway, I was responding to a statement made above that evolution predicted modern genetics.



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Your Name

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:17 am


Darwin called this theory “Pangenesis”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangenesis



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GalapagosPete

posted July 22, 2009 at 11:47 am


“Evolution has to account for the variation that natural selection acts on. That’s why Darwin came up with Gemules. Blended heredity only means that the offspring resemble both parents. How do you go from there to a new species?”
It was just his attempt to explain a possible mechanism behind what he had observed. Don’t worry so much about it; 150 years of research has found out how characteristics are passed along.
“How do you go from there to a new species?”
One step at a time.



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GalapagosPete

posted July 22, 2009 at 11:52 am


So when are we going to start seeing the results of the research based on the 12 ways of testing for ID?



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm


Seriously,
I can see how you want to plug the book to get people to buy it.
WHY DON’T YOU SIMPLY POST THE 12 WAYS????
If you are a serious intellectual, why not just make your basic case available to the public, as many professors do?
I challenge you to post the 12 ways.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm


David,
Better yet, if you guys are serious intellectuals, why not send out a few copies of the book – say 100 free copies to the first 100 who request it. Many are reluctant to spend money on this.



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Reginald Selkirk

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Sorry, I won’t be able to get to this for a while. I only buy such books at used book sales, in order that my money will not support either the authors or the publishers of such dishonesty. As the book is just being released now, it could take a few years to filter down to the used shops.
Having read Meyer’s infamous paper in the Proceeding of the Biological Society of Washington, my opinion of his knowledge of science and his integrity is rather lower than your’s seems to be. Meyer is also, like you, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, which also speaks against his character.
Meyer has also already made statements which are not consistent with a sound knowledge of Information Theory:
Stephen Meyer’s Honesty Problem



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm


Com’on Dave, we know ya got some copies tucked away in the stairwell or attic. Look, if my grandma can save all her paperback romance novels, surely you can scrounge up a few copies.
As a fellow at DI, surely you’ve got some you can spare us :-)



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm


Consider it a patriot duty – you stimulate the economy through all the shipping. People start doing some research, generating web hits, getting involved. huh? huh?



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm


David,
Surely you have enough clout at DI to round up a few copies for us.
And why just post the most thoughtful response at YOUR discretion, why not post ALL counter responses within a limit (say 500 words or less and profanity free within 1 month of receiving the complementary, tax-deductible, book copies)???
hmmm? hmmm? sounds fair, right?? We get hits for your blog, you provide us with the means to do so…



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:07 pm


Gee, what a shock, “Your Name,” Darwin–ignorant of genetics and a believer in the inheritance of acquired characteristics–was unable to pin down the properties involved in inheritance and change. Unlike your type, however, science actually learns.
Doing actual science, not the magical wish-fulfillment exercise of ID, genetics and evolutionary theory were able to deal with the facts of stability and of change found in both arenas of investigation. This resulted in Schroedinger elucidating many of the factors that must be behind the genetic code prior to the discovery of the structure of DNA, and his writing influenced a number of the researchers into the basis of inheritance, including Francis Crick. Here are a couple of passages from Schroedinger:

It has often been asked how this tiny speck of material, the nucleus of the fertilized egg, could contain an elaborate code-script involving all the future development of the organism? A well-ordered association of atoms, endowed with sufficient resistivity to keep its order permanently, appears to be the only conceivable material structure, that offers a variety of possible (‘isomeric’) arrangements, sufficiently large to embody a complicated system of ‘determinations’ within a small spatial boundary. Indeed, the number of atoms in such a structure need not be very large to produce an almost unlimited number of possible arrangements. For illustration, think of the Morse code.
What is Life? by Erwin Schroedinger, on Google books. p. 61. I’m not linking to it because that seems to lead to loss of my posts.

Granted that we have to account for the rare natural mutations by chance fluctuations of the heat motion, we must not be very much astonished that Nature has succeeded in making such a subtle choice of threshold values as is necessary to make mutation rare. For we have, earlier in these lectures, arrived at the conclusion that frequent mutations are detrimental to evolution. Individuals which, by mutations, acquire a gene configuration of insufficient stabililty, will have little chance of seeing their ‘ultra-radical,’ rapidly mutating descendancy survive long. The species will be freed of them and will thus collect stable genes by natural selection.
Ibid. pp. 63-64, bolding added

This is how science actually works, not a lot of hopeful god-of-the-gaps nonsense like Meyer puts out.
By the way, I was perusing the preview last evening, and I noticed (chap. 12) that Meyer dispatches with the objection of ID being religious by pointing out that it is not a religion. Either he’s extremely obtuse, or he’s not constrained by any principle of honesty, since of course the frequent and accurate charge that ID is religious in nature isn’t at all the same as stating that it is a religion.
Considering his well-established looseness with the truth (Jeff Shallit caught him writing parenthetically “what information theorists call ‘specified complexity,’” and managed to get him to admit that he’s only heard the egregious Dembski use that term in that way), it’s astonishing that Klinghoffer would suggest that we buy a book from such a one who is known as damaged goods.
Getting back to the Schroedinger quotes again, though, it should be noted that some of the stability of DNA predicted by Schroedinger is in fact due to repair. Nevertheless, such repair wouldn’t be possible without the “digital-like” nature of DNA, nor would the underlying stability of DNA necessary for life’s known constancy (with change, of course) be possible with analog mechanisms. It should be noted once again that Schroedinger did, of course, bring evolutionary considerations into his helpful discussion of DNA’s nature and properties.
That’s the history of science. Yes, we had initially to learn genetics without much, if any, actual guidance from evolution, but everything about DNA and genetics today is inextricably tied with evolution. And yes, of course Schroedinger had to account for both stability and change during the course of evolution in figuring out what properties must be a part of the material in which genes were encoded, within the context of knowledge from genetics.
Real science accounts for evolution, while religious pseudosciences resort immediately to magic to “explain” what isn’t already understood.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Folks,
Let’s ask David for complimentary copies of this book to take him up on the challenge. If they (David and DI) are serious about the challenge, then they should provide the means to accomplish this challenge.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm


David,
Seriously, if you are genuine in your challenge, and I think you intend to be, then I think you should provide the means to do so; AND, clearly specify the terms, publicly on your blog, ahead of time, before people get the book.
If you do NOT get challengers to take your offer up, it suggests that maybe those willing to challenge you do not feel you have been open and fair.
In other words, if you do not provide people with reasonable means to meet your challenge, you are not meeting them half-way and the image of feaux intellectualism for you and the DI continues to grow. Honestly, the reputation of the DI among intellectuals is not very good and not well respected. Here is a chance to set a new course.



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:25 pm


Hello tired, please stop posting the same thing over and over again or I’ll unpublish all your comments. That said, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Reviewers with relevant institutional affiliations or publications to their name will not uncommonly write to the publicist at the publisher that brought out a given book and request a review copy. The idea is that this writer might then write a formal review of the book somewhere, under his own name of course. Unfortunately, being an anonymous commenter on my blog doesn’t count. If you’re short on cash and want to check the book out of your local library, that seems like a fine idea.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm


So you certainly CANNOT get some complementary copies for the contest?
You CAN’T set up pre-arranged terms that no challenge posted on the blog can be anonymous (otherwise you won’t post it here and rightfully so, but could do so on facebook or something)?
You CAN’T post the 12 ideas because of copy write or other issues?
I do understand if there are legal issues that none of us can reasonably do anything about. Or if it is the DI’s policy states otherwise.



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm


“tired”: No, no free copies from me. If being able to afford it is an issue, learn to use your local public library. I’m not posting any chunk of text here either because the whole point is that you should *read the book* not just something quoted from it.



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Turmarion

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm


Reginald: That’s the impression that I’ve gotten about Meyer so far, but I’ll still read the book, just to be sporting, if the opportunity arises.
tiredfoignorance: I second you enthusiastically. David, not all libraries have this book yet, especially for those of us in small towns. I might point out that not all of us have “relevant institutional affiliations” and thus can’t just request review copies from the publisher. Heck, I’ll send my name and address, so that for this context I won’t be “an anonymous poster” on your blog.
By the way, any intention of reading the books I suggested to you? If you expect us to read one of your guys, shouldn’t it be reciprocal? And if not, I’d sure like to know why not!



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm


Gentlemen, try interlibrary loan if need be. It’s actually quite miraculous.



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AaronSTL

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:29 pm


The information argument is pretty weak. Like every other argument for design, it rests on the idea that that which is thought have been designed because of its information content is the goal of some process, the expected or desired result. But there’s information in everything. To use a Douglas Adams’ pothole analogy, the pothole contains information; its volume, geometric shape, location, surface area, material, etc., all of which can be described in the language of mathematics. That doesn’t mean the pothole was designed.



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Alan Stillman

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm


>>Gentlemen, try interlibrary loan if need be. It’s actually quite >>miraculous.
is this the DI’s newest proof that God, by virtue of her miracles, exists?



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Let’s put it this way, David: People who have actual science to put forward rarely act like you and Meyer do. They publish their science in as accessible organs as possible, usually in journals, and they certainly don’t hide the “predictions of ID” from people who are interested–if they actually have something.
Here is what I read at Amazon. Supposedly the book “gives several examples where ID had made predictions that turned out to be correct.” Uh-huh, we’ve seen that claptrap already. Probably the usual attempt to claim that ID “predicted” that “junk DNA” would turn out to be useful, even though they whine when we point out that essentially useless organs or processes remain vestigially (think gooseflesh–perhaps not completely without function, but hardly credible as anything but leftovers from when we were quite hairy). Or this, which convinced honest theists in the past:

The ducts which drain the human bladder are in just the right place–for a quadruped but not for a biped. … {jstor.org/pss/1816695}

Of course David doesn’t want to tell us about Meyer’s junk “predictions”, because even he knows that they’re junk. Let alone does he want us to press home problems like the quote above, gooseflesh, or the marginal adaptations of transitional organisms.
Minor correction of my last comment–it wasn’t chapter 12 where Meyer attacked the strawman that ID supposedly is claimed to be a religion, but chapter 20 (my memory confuses 12 and 20 from time to time, due to the similar beginning sounds).
Oh, I have already requested an interlibrary loan of Meyer’s disingenuous tripe, in spite of the fact that I’ve demonstrated that it’s as dishonest as you’d expect from an IDist. We’ll see if I can actually get it, and if I can I’ll find every bit of sleaze from that dissembling boob.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Let me get this straight, Glen. Publishing a book with HarperCollins, available in any Barnes & Noble, is not an “accessible” way to propose an idea? But publishing in a technical journal that the public never heard of and that can’t be accessed online without an expensive subscription (likely far more than $19.13, which is Amazon’s price for Signature) — that *is* a way of making ideas accessible? If publishing a book for the public — a trade book, in current terms — was Darwin’s preferred method of broadcasting his thoughts, why has that become an unacceptable method today? Because then the Guild loses control of the flow of scientific ideas, I guess. BTW, if you look at the back of Meyer’s book, you’ll see a list of some of the scientists who give the book their recommendation, including a National Academy of Sciences member and the top authority on genetics in Britain.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:45 pm


Let me get this straight, Glen. Publishing a book with HarperCollins, available in any Barnes & Noble, is not an “accessible” way to propose an idea?

How many of us have access to it? Can you think that through, David?
Perhaps I should point out what you ought to be aware of, the fact that you’re demanding that we read it now and respond to it. Little fact that you leave out when it’s convenient to do so.

But publishing in a technical journal that the public never heard of and that can’t be accessed online without an expensive subscription (likely far more than $19.13, which is Amazon’s price for Signature) — that *is* a way of making ideas accessible?

Of course it is, if you’re paying attention to the fact that I’m talking about accessible science (as usual, you ignore context), rather than accessible pseudoscience. I don’t doubt that van Daniken, Velikovsky, and Meyer are more accessible to their marks via publishing houses having no standards of integrity for publishing a book, but that’s not what science is about.
If it’s breakthrough science written in a technical journal, it’s generally given to the press who make it extremely accessible. Meyer’s book isn’t even science, let alone any kind of breakthrough, so it’s kept from peer review, and apparently (I don’t know this for sure), from relatively honest book reviewers.

If publishing a book for the public — a trade book, in current terms — was Darwin’s preferred method of broadcasting his thoughts, why has that become an unacceptable method today?

Was that really the issue, David? Did Darwin’s book have shills refusing to supply information about the book, or was it an honestly presented and reviewed book?
Why do you think I wrote “usually in journals”? It’s because I’m not saying that it has to be in journals (can you keep anything straight?), though these are what are usually used both to inform scientists and the public–the latter via journalists.
I know that you’re very very used to confusing the issues, or you wouldn’t be pushing this junk in the first place, rather you’d actually deal with the issues in which science is interested. But I’m sorry, we’re not gullible enough to believe your misdirection.

BTW, if you look at the back of Meyer’s book, you’ll see a list of some of the scientists who give the book their recommendation, including a National Academy of Sciences member and the top authority on genetics in Britain.

Ooh, arguments from authority. Always best when you have no evidence to back up your claims.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Turmarion

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm


David: Gentlemen, try interlibrary loan if need be. It’s actually quite miraculous.
Good idea–I’ll do so. So, are you going to read any of the books I suggested? Why or why not?
Publishing a book with HarperCollins, available in any Barnes & Noble, is not an “accessible” way to propose an idea? But publishing in a technical journal that the public never heard of and that can’t be accessed online without an expensive subscription (likely far more than $19.13, which is Amazon’s price for Signature) — that *is* a way of making ideas accessible?
1. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals is the standard way of proposing and debating ideas in science.
2. You can request journal loans from state colleges or through smaller community colleges. It’s actually quite miraculous.
3. Scientists who have established their credibility through the process of research, peer review, and debate with other scientists often then go on to write books for the general public. This is, e.g., what Carl Sagan did. Alternatively, writers who have a flair for popularization (such as the late, great Isaac Asimov) will take the ideas of established, credible scientists and present them to the public in a form for the lay reader. What doesn’t happen is that a credible scientist starts out with a mass-market popularization, without going through the review process. Einstein didn’t introduce the theory of relativity in Popular Mechanics, or write something like Martin Gardner’s excellent The Relativity Explosion! You don’t put the cart before the horse!



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm


But publishing in a technical journal that the public never heard of and that can’t be accessed online without an expensive subscription (likely far more than $19.13, which is Amazon’s price for Signature) — that *is* a way of making ideas accessible?
David, you just told a commenter to use a library if he can’t afford a book.
Guess how you read journal articles, David? You go to the library. Your nearest state university will have almost all of them.
I can tell just from this how much time DI fellows actually spend on scientific research.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm


David,
I checked with my library before I even started posting, for starters.
By the way, I use interlibrary loans all the time, the library wasn’t sure about this because it’s new. See, I live in a small town. And, I do know how to use a library, I have about 5 books from it right now. Your directive that I should learn to use my library is therefore a moot point. By the way, interlibrary loan is NOT miraculous. It can be rationally explained through physical and information outlets, so there is no need to invoke the supernatural or miracles.
Anyways, all this is why I proposed the complimentary copy thing for the contest you seem rather reluctant to commit to.
You claim not to give complimentary copies (“no, no free copies”), but you have not said WHY you will not give them. If the DI doesn’t have any sitting around in Seattle, that’s fine.
BTW Darwin has been dead for a long time, as have publishing practices of his time (publishing practices evolve!). BTW it is NO surprise that Jensen and Skell, whose names are first on Dissent from Darwin would support the book (I’m ASSUMING they are the ones you guys list as scientific support for the book).



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Jim

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm


Glen Davidson: “…the important issue of DNA, the fact that it is…essentially…(a) digital-like… information storage medium… is the issue that Meyer ignores.”
Anyone who has actually read Meyer’s book will know that he discusses at length the very thing that Davidson claims he ignores (i.e., the digital encoding and storage of information by DNA). Also, unlike Davidson, Meyer does not confuse the message (i.e., the information) with the medium (i.e., DNA).
I’m not impressed by the arguments of ID critics who never bother to actually read the works of design theorists.
Turmarion: “Publishing in peer-reviewed journals is the standard way of proposing and debating ideas in science.”
Darwin, then, violated this standard in two ways:
1) He failed to have his idea peer-reviewed before going public with it.
2) He went public with his idea in a popular book, not a scientific journal.
Turmarion: “Einstein didn’t introduce the theory of relativity in Popular Mechanics…”
Neither did Einstein submit his theory to peer review before having it published in Annalen der Physik (a leading German physics journal in the early 20th century). At that time peer review was not a standard practice and the editors of Annalen der Physik would publish virtually every paper they received, rejecting only the papers that were clearly “crackpot.” Today, peer review serves primarily to protect scientific orthodoxy, not to promote scientific advancement.
Suggested reading: “Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality
or Enforce Orthodoxy?”, by mathematical physicist Frank Tipler. Tipler’s essay can be found at:
http://www.iscid.org/papers/Tipler_PeerReview_070103.pdf



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:30 pm


tiredofignorance, nobody at DI makes money from a peer-reviewed journal article (generally you have to pay to publish in them). They make money if you or a library buys their book.
It’s that simple.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm


At that time peer review was not a standard practice and the editors of Annalen der Physik would publish virtually every paper they received, rejecting only the papers that were clearly “crackpot.”
i.e., peer review.
Darwin, then, violated this standard in two ways:
1) He failed to have his idea peer-reviewed before going public with it.
2) He went public with his idea in a popular book, not a scientific journal.

Umm, no. This is totally wrong. Why do creationists have to make things up?
He was writing up his theory in 1858 when he received an essay from Alfred Russel Wallace who was in Borneo, describing Wallace’s own theory of natural selection, prompting immediate joint publication of extracts from Darwin’s 1844 essay together with Wallace’s paper as On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection in a presentation to the Linnaean Society on 1st July 1858. This attracted little notice,[2] but spurred Darwin to write an “abstract” of his work which was published in 1859 as his book On the Origin of Species.
Darwin followed the scientific process of his time, and presented to his fellow scientists–who had long been familiar with his work, FIRST.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:51 pm


Jim, here is more information about the Linnaean Society from Wikipedia:
The Linnean Society of London is the world’s premier society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history. It publishes a Zoological Journal, as well as Botanical and Biological Journals. It also issues The Linnean, a review of the history of the society and of taxonomy in general.
The Linnean Society was founded in 1788, taking its name from the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. The Society is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. Individual membership categories are: Student member, Associate member and full Fellow. All forms of membership require nomination by at least two Fellows and are subject to election. Fellows use the designation FLS after their names.

Here’s the thing, Jim-you can’t trust creationists to honestly tell Darwin’s side of the story. You took someone’s word that Darwin didn’t go through peer review and just wrote a book.
And now you have learned that is wrong. Darwin presented his ideas to the Linnaean Society, composed of fellow biologists, long before he published “Origin of Species”.
If you had bothered to try to examine both sides, you wouldn’t have posted something totally wrong.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm


Glen Davidson: “…the important issue of DNA, the fact that it is…essentially…(a) digital-like… information storage medium… is the issue that Meyer ignores.”

How much effort did it take for you to delete and add words to what I had written in order to turn it essentially into a lie about what I had written, Jim?
What I actually wrote was:

Of course the important issue of DNA, the fact that it is essentially what is predicted by evolution, a conservative (thus digital-like, not analog) information storage medium, which can yet change sufficiently to allow for evolution, is the issue that Meyer ignores.

You had to actually take out what I wrote was “the important issue of DNA,” namely, that “that it is essentially what is predicted by evolution” in order to create the pathetic strawman that you then attacked. Such lack of honesty is not surprising, but it is still appallingly common, from the anti-science side.
From that hideous misrepresentation Jim moves to condemn his misconstrual:

Anyone who has actually read Meyer’s book will know that he discusses at length the very thing that Davidson claims he ignores (i.e., the digital encoding and storage of information by DNA).

Except that I clearly did not say that, I said what Jim mangled into something totally unrepresentative of the actual sentence.

Also, unlike Davidson, Meyer does not confuse the message (i.e., the information) with the medium (i.e., DNA).

Jim, who is apparently confused about everything, first accuses me of saying something that he made up, claiming that Meyer did discuss it, then pretends that I confused the message with the medium–when in fact I had written that he ignored the fact that Meyer ignored the fact that the medium turned out to be what evolution requires. I know the difference, clearly, and I oppose the dishonesty of Meyer in trying to avoid many many issues, including exactly that one.
Needless to say, it gets very tiring to meet the endless dishonest and apparently uncomprehending attacks that creationists make. There’s never anything substantive, rarely any evidence of reasonable reading comprehension.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm


I’m not impressed by the arguments of ID critics who never bother to actually read the works of design theorists.

Total lie.
I have read both of Behe’s book, numerous articles by various IDiots, and I read most of the preview of the dishonest book of Meyer’s.
Are you not the slightest bit interested in even appearing honest, Jim? Because you neither are, nor appear, honest.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:07 pm


The Linnean Society of London is the world’s premier society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history. It publishes a Zoological Journal, as well as Botanical and Biological Journals. It also issues The Linnean, a review of the history of the society and of taxonomy in general.
The Linnean Society was founded in 1788, taking its name from the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. The Society is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. Individual membership categories are: Student member, Associate member and full Fellow. All forms of membership require nomination by at least two Fellows and are subject to election. Fellows use the designation FLS after their names.

You see Jim, Darwin presented his ideas FIRST to his fellow scientists, THEN wrote the popular book a year later.
Why didn’t you bother to look this up yourself? You can’t trust creationists to present Darwin’s history honestly; I hope you can see that now.
I also hope this 2nd post on the Linnaean Society doesn’t get considered a “personal attack”.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm


Perhaps we should take David’s challenge public.
I don’t foresee the Discovery Institute or another fellow issuing an open invite for criticism anytime in the near future.
I propose we raise awareness of David’s challenge within the science and intellectual community.



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Jim

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm


Glen Davidson: “Are you not the slightest bit interested in even appearing honest, Jim? Because you neither are, nor appear, honest.”
Since you appear to be an insufferable ass, Glen, I see no point in continuing the “conversation.” The arrogant, condescending, insulting rhetoric of Darwin’s modern disciples may explain – at least in part -why so few people accept Darwinian evolutionary theory. I know you’ll want to claim that the Darwinian side of the debate has a monopoly on intelligence and knowledge, but that claim simply makes my point.
By the way, I wouldn’t want you to change your rhetorical style in the least. If you want to write in a way that ensures you won’t be taken seriously by anyone other than those who share your views and your arrogance, far be it from me to talk you out of it.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm


So I guess that’s a no, Jim.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Marjorie

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Glen Davidson: Jim, who is apparently confused about everything, first accuses me of saying something that he made up, claiming that Meyer did discuss it, then pretends that I confused the message with the medium–when in fact I had written that he ignored the fact that Meyer ignored the fact that the medium turned out to be what evolution requires. I know the difference, clearly, and I oppose the dishonesty of Meyer in trying to avoid many many issues, including exactly that one.
You know, Mr. Davidson, it occurs to me that your mommy must have neglected to teach you that if you can’t say something civil or reasonable, don’t say anything at all.
Do you think sneering that “Meyer is a shill for the IDiots” or “Jim, who is apparently confused about everything” is rational, or reasonable, so _persuasive_?
I enjoy David Klinghoffer’s blog, and often wish I could comment, but since any interesting, constructive commentary [like Jim's] is drowned by the few relentless Darwinian spear-carrying crusaders who make it their business to ensure that there can be
no interesting, constructive discussion, what’s the point?
Marjorie



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm


Well said, Jim.



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:46 pm


And thank you, Marjorie, for speaking up for good manners. In the world of adults, it should be possible to have strong disagreements without name-calling, insinuation, or intimidation. That they feel compelled to engage in this kind of rhetoric betrays their desperation.



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Echidna

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm


No, the challenge is not for us to buy Meyer’s book. What a crass way to advertise it -issue a “challenge” to scientists. The challenge is for him to do scientifically valid research, and publish in scientific journals. If he could not get published in a journal, but made the paper available on-line, that would be a start.
Meyer knows what he needs to do to get scientific respect – he needs to write for a scientific audience, not a religious one.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm


So, you can’t defend Jim’s dishonesty, nor come up with any meaningful criticisms of what I wrote, Marjorie.
Merely attacking the opposition with both dishonesty and by unwarranted and one-sided demands for “civility” is your only tactic, and the moment we call you people on your foul ad hominems and lack of honest engagement with the issues, you whine that we’re being mean.
Well guess what, I didn’t even attack Jim, let alone by misrepresenting him. He attacked me, with misrepresentation. So did you, Marjorie, since you don’t portray the exchange at all honestly. The fact is that I’m not held to childish notions of “being nice” to those who are egregiously loose with the truth, nor to the one-sided “concern for the truth” that people like you have.
Let’s see, with no provocation against anyone here, I was attacked with highly egregious misrepresentations, and who is Marjorie concerned about? The one who misrepresented what I wrote, the one who attacked me. Sure, I owned him, but that’s what one has to do with unfair attacks.
You’re afraid to comment? You mean, because you will be exposed for your unfairness? That’s understandable, but the remedy is for you to learn how to be fair to people.
I see that David agrees with those who attack unfairly. Then again, when hasn’t he?
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm


And thank you, Marjorie, for speaking up for good manners.

And with no regard for the dishonesty of the unprovoked attacks from David’s side. Demands that the victims of unfair attacks lie down and be “polite” to the would-be bullies.
What could be better than that, eh David?
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:16 pm


David,
I would like to know why, if possible, you cannot get a hold of free copies (dozens) of Meyer’s book for the contest you have put forward. As a senior fellow at the DI, I would think you could get a number of copies to distribute.
It is really not honest to place a challenge without reasonable means to back up its completion. This is kind of like how it is not honest to call something “science” when you have no accepted science to back it up. Dishonesty is not a trait embraced by traditional Judeo-Christian morals and ethics.



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Alan Stillman

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm


JIM: “Since you appear to be an insufferable ass, Glen, I see no point in continuing the “conversation.”
Marjorie, as I read it, JIM threw the first stone, yet it is he that is not without sin. or does this allusion not belong on a blog that reports to be about Jewish Philosophy and the Torah?
Torah is mostly metaphor. Judaic thought, as I was taught it, is always open to interpretation. science not so much. if I choose to believe that the Torah’s telling of God’s creation is true, then yes, She made everything in 6 days. I don’t choose to believe this because empirical evidence pretty much tells me otherwise. I do not need to read any new book about ID because I have read enough to tell me that it is not science.
if it were, maybe this blog would be found on a host site like sciencenet. but it isn’t – this is belifnet. religious discourse.



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IanR

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:40 pm


I must say I’m not convinced of a reason to read this book if there is no positive evidence for intelligent design based on observations in biology: the results (not the proposed research) of the proposed research instead of mere proposals. From what I can glean from the website, this is just another argument from incredulity, and from what I can read from the DI website, Meyer mishandles probabilities like the rest of the anti-evolution group. To be honest, this sounds like a poorly updated version of creationist Werner Gitt’s supposed case about information. Gitt delineated between matter, energy, and information in his book In the Beginning was Information in the same way that Meyer’s website for the book, which makes me very suspicious.
To be honest, without an unambiguous association between a designer and genetic information and without a way to isolate a designer as an unambiguous source of the genetic information, any argument for intelligent design fails. “There was a lot of {complex} {specified} information generated in the Cambrian explosion” does not make any link to a designer; instead, it just says that scientists have more work to do.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:51 pm


David,
What I don’t understand is why we need to read Meyer’s book to be able to critique his 12 means of testing/falsifying ID.
If Meyer’s propositions are so clear and well stated, then they should stand alone for critique.
For example, I should not need a book to explain how I propose to test that protein X might perform function Y.
Could you just offer us his 12 experimental ideas?



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Turmarion

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:18 pm


Also, David, you still haven’t said why you won’t read Collins or Miller or any of the authors on our side of it. Isn’t what’s good for the goose good for the gander?



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Your Name

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:45 pm


David – I do plan to read Meyer’s book and I do not think it is unreasonable to direct people to read the entire thing before bashing it. However, given your vested interest in the success of the book and other Discovery Institute endeavors, it is certainly not surprising that people are crying fowl. It also seems rather hypocritical since you do not address specific arguments or pieces of evidence for evolution, or against ID.
Regarding the accessibility of Meyer’s book vs. articles published in peer-reviewed journals, your characterization of such articles and their content is only partially accurate. The specifics of important papers are often freely discussed in both the mainstream press and blogosphere, so while the original text may not be available, virtually all of its ideas are.
Your Name – Your comments show precisely why calling us “Darwinists” or even “evolutionists” is utterly non-sensical. Rather than strict adherence to a particular doctrine, scientists adapt their views as new evidence becomes available. This excerpt from the history of science illustrates the process by which new and competing ideas are tested and how information from multiple lines of evidence is synthesized into complete theories. The fact that Darwin got the details wrong is entirely irrelevant to modern evolutionary theory.



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mercurium captans

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:46 pm


I wrote the above comment, not sure why it didn’t save the name I entered.



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Jim

posted July 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm


Alan Stillman: “Marjorie, as I read it, JIM threw the first stone…”
How did I throw the first stone, Alan? I edited Davidson’s accusation against Meyer down to what I took to be its essence and then pointed out that anyone who had actually read Meyer’s book would know that he had in fact addressed the very “issue” Davidson accused him of ignoring. For that I was told that I was “dishonest,” “anti-science,” and “confused about everything.” The stone throwing was initiated by Davidson, not me.
IanR: “I must say I’m not convinced of a reason to read this book if there is no positive evidence for intelligent design based on observations in biology…”
Read the book and you’ll become acquainted with some of the “positive evidence for intelligent design based on observations in biology.”
Alternatively, you can do what – in my experience – most critics of ID do: remain resolutely uninformed about the arguments that ID theorists actually make and argue against the arguments you imagine they make. Perhaps the most hilarious aspect to Davidson’s reply to what I wrote was his high dudgeon about me creating a straw man. When I read criticisms of ID theory from the Darwinist camp, I routinely find the critics arguing not against the positions that design theorists actually take, but against straw-man portrayals of their positions. Perhaps the worst offenders are PZ Myers and his amen chorus over at his blog, Pharyngula. I’ve occasionally dropped into that odious blog, which routinely shames evolutionary biology with its adolescent, vulgar, condescending defense of Darwinian theory and its supercilious, sneering attacks on theistic religion, and I seldom, if ever, find the arguments of design theorists accurately represented there. I’m confident that Darwin – a reasonable man who treated his intellectual adversaries as intelligent men who deserved to be argued with, not condescended to – would be appalled by the rhetorical tactics of his modern disciples. No wonder they are making such little headway in persuading skeptics to accept their pet theory. Their writings obviously do a lot of emotive work for them, but little (if any) persuasive work. As someone in the ID camp, I always encourage them to keep it up, knowing quite well that they will.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 11:19 pm


Jim,
Perhaps you can explain how ID fits the definition of science. What is the testable hypothesis with ID and how can this be tested and be falsifiable? And what testable predictions would ID make? Given that I cannot get a hold of Meyer’s book (for reasons stated earlier) and David will not provide copies or even Meyer’s 12 testable ideas, perhaps you can help.
I spend CONSIDERABLE amounts of time reading peer-reviewed biological and chemical science research articles and I have never encountered any evidence of intelligent design. What is this positive evidence you speak of?



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tiredofignorance

posted July 22, 2009 at 11:26 pm


Jim,
Perhaps you can explain how ID fits the definition of science. What is the testable hypothesis with ID and how can this be tested and be falsifiable? And what testable predictions would ID make? Given that I cannot get a hold of Meyer’s book (for reasons stated earlier) and David will not provide copies or even Meyer’s 12 testable ideas, perhaps you can help.
I spend CONSIDERABLE amounts of time reading peer-reviewed biological and chemical science research articles and I have never encountered any evidence of intelligent design. What is this positive evidence you speak of?



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Marjorie

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:53 am


Glen Davidson: You’re afraid to comment? You mean, because you will be exposed for your unfairness? That’s understandable, but the remedy is for you to learn how to be fair to people.
Which is akin to being lectured by Jeffrey Dahmer about learning how to be hospitable….
The authors of electronic equivalent of monotonous kicking, screaming temper tantrums really haven’t any authority to shake their fingers at others about “unfairness.”
I certainly won’t try to convince you that your rhetoric [which I'd call sophistic if that weren't a terrible insult to sophomores everywhere] is self-defeating, because it seems to me that the only person you’re trying to persuade [or reassure] by making like one of the Kingdom of Priest’s resident trolls is your own lonely self.
Perhaps Jim would explain many things if he thought for a minute that his explanations wouldn’t wreak an avalanche of idiocy.
Marjorie



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Marjorie

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:05 am


OOPS! I wrote: The authors of electronic equivalent of monotonous kicking, screaming temper tantrums really haven’t any authority to shake their fingers at others about “unfairness.
Correction: The authors of _the_ electronic equivalent of monotonous kicking, screaming temper tantrums really haven’t any authority to shake their fingers at others about “unfairness.
David: I do own a copy of Meyer’s book and look forward to finding a little uninterrupted time to read it. Unlike the books written by the proponents of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Meyer is unfailingly civil, rational, reasonable, and honest, so persuasive. A very well-regarded biophysicist friend of mine who _mutely_ dissents from the Darwinian orthodoxy introduced me to the ID option some years ago, and I’ve never looked back.
Keep up the good work!
Marjorie



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:16 am


Readers:
I recommend getting back to intelligent design here and the challenge posed in this post.
David, since I most likely will not be able to obtain Meyer’s book for quite some time (even though I’m pretty sure you can round up a copy for us somewhere in Seattle), please explain to me how ID is science. What is the testable central hypothesis with ID? How can it be falsified? What experiments can one perform to support ID?
If you do not have the answer to these questions, I’m curious why you believe in ID – and I do mean “believe in ID” as a faith based position. Also, if you do not have the answers to my questions, why are you such a staunch defender of ID?
I’m puzzled.
If you believe in ID out of faith and not evidence, rather than a simple, fallacious, semantic argument from ignorance (we don’t know, therefore it must be designed from somewhere/somehow), David, why does the ID think once can use methodological naturalism and philosophical materialism to support ID anymore than you could use science to support the existence of God, Yahweh, Zeus, Thor, Isis, or Allah?
Is there a cohesive, logical answer and argument to my quesitons; not rhetoric of any kind or emotional fluff? In other words, just because one feels good about a position or idea, doesn’t make it true or testable.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:19 am


that should read, “why does the DI think one…”



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David Klinghoffer

posted July 23, 2009 at 2:07 am


In all candor, I have to say, “tired,” that I’m almost charmed by your persistence in trying to cadge a free book.



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 7:17 am


tiredofignorance: “Perhaps you can explain how ID fits the definition of science.”
What is THE definition of science? Philosophers of science have been trying for hundreds, if not thousands, of years to find ways to clearly demark science from pseudoscience or non-science. Their efforts have largely failed. As philosopher of science Martin Eger once put it: “Demarcation arguments have collapsed. Philosophers of science don’t hold them anymore. They may still enjoy acceptance in the popular world, but that’s a different world.”
For further reading on this point, go to:
http://www.discovery.org/a/3524
In any event, in “Signature in the Cell,” Meyer lists six reasons why ID qualifies as science (by any reasonable understanding of science). Without elaborating, those reasons are:
1) The case for ID is based on empirical evidence.
2) Advocates of ID use established scientific methods.
3) ID is a testable theory.
4) The case for ID exemplifies historical scientific reasoning.
5) ID addresses a specific question in evolutionary biology.
6) ID is supported by peer-reviewed scientific literature.
You’ll need to read the book to see those points fully articulated.
tiredofignorance: “What is the testable hypothesis with ID and how can this be tested and be falsifiable? And what testable predictions would ID make?”
You can find short answers to these questions at:
http://www.ideacenter.org/stuff/contentmgr/files/becbd98b35e8e07260d4e8e92784cbbb/miscdocs/thepositivecasefordesign_v3.pdf
For more complete answers, you’ll need to delve into the design literature.
tiredofignorance: “I cannot get a hold of Meyer’s book…”
Actually, you can get a copy of Meyer’s book (it’s a simple matter to order the book from amazon.com). What you no doubt meant to say is that you WON’T “get a hold of Meyer’s book.”
tiredofignorance: “I spend CONSIDERABLE amounts of time reading peer-reviewed biological and chemical science research articles and I have never encountered any evidence of intelligent design.”
You should read some of the ID literature if you want to encounter evidence of intelligent design. Short of doing that, the pseudonym you’ve chosen for yourself – “tiredofignorance” – is quite inapt.
tiredofignorance: “What is this positive evidence you speak of?”
Do your own homework. Otherwise find a more apt pseudonym.



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 7:47 am


tiredofignorance (attempting to characterize the argument for intelligent design): “…we don’t know, therefore it must be designed from somewhere/somehow.”
This is not an argument that ID theorists actually make. Instead, it neatly exemplifies the tendency of ID critics to fabricate absurd straw men that they can ridicule. Whether they do that out of mendacity, ignorance, or witlessness, I can’t say, but until you show some evidence that you’ve familiarized yourself with ID theory and the evidence and arguments for it, you really ought to adopt another pseudonym.



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Dan L.

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:03 am


So I have to read this particular book to understand why ID is scientific? Meyer is the only one who has ever made the case convincingly, and trying to do so in less space than he has is impossible? Is this why Mr. Klinghoffer and Jim refuse to answer tiredofignorance’s questions?
I’ve been asking ID advocates for months now to demonstrate how it is scientific, and I’ve never seen anyone do so. For example:

1) The case for ID is based on empirical evidence.
2) Advocates of ID use established scientific methods.
3) ID is a testable theory.
4) The case for ID exemplifies historical scientific reasoning.
5) ID addresses a specific question in evolutionary biology.
6) ID is supported by peer-reviewed scientific literature.
You’ll need to read the book to see those points fully articulated.

So it would be impossible to even write a sentence or two explaining why these six points aren’t false prima facie? In particular, (2), (3), and (6) seem to contradict everything I know about science, the philosophy behind it, and the evidence at hand. Baldly asserting them and insisting that they only place they’ve been adequately described is one particular book is incredibly unconvincing.



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Olaf

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:03 am


“If you tell me, “Yeah, I don’t need to read it, I know what he’s going to say” — then you’ve just proven to me that you’re not serious.”
If I send you my 500-page thesis on how singing in the shower can prevent asteroid impacts will you read it and give a reasoned response? Or will you rudely tell me that it’s not science?
If the latter then I guess you’ll have proven to me that you’re not serious.



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Jacob Bendixen

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:14 am


And you should read some biology books.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:43 am


Hi Echidna (same Echidna from UD?) Anyway, Hi everyone – I’m new to Beliefnet.
“Meyer knows what he needs to do to get scientific respect – he needs to write for a scientific audience, not a religious one.”
You should know that Meyer did have a significant ID paper published in a scientific journal. The problem is that he faced exactly what has been pointed out earlier. His views did not support the scientific orthodoxy of methodological naturalism – the religion of Darwinism.
I know it’s common for Darwinists to dismiss this fact – relegating it to an error on the part of Dr. Sternberg (who was featured in Expelled). Judging by the tone of most Darwinist posters I have seen on blogs and other forums on the internet, I think it is quite apparent who should be trusted. If people can’t control their tongues, it brings into question whether they can also control their overall integrity. That’s what Expelled was all about – the sheer bigotry of the Darwinian establishment towards dissenters.
Meyer knows this full well, which is perhaps why he decided to publish his book in the manner that he did. I think it was a wise decision, because very few discussed the merits of his paper in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. The merits of the paper were buried in the controversy surrounding its peer review process. A controversy that was manufactured by the Darwinian establishment at the Smithsonian. You can read the true story on Sternberg’s website.
http://www.richardsternberg.org/smithsonian.php
You should also know that Meyer’s book does have the backing of several prominent scientists, including: Dr. Philip S. Skell, National Academy of Sciences and Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, emeritus, Alastair Noble, Ph.D. chemistry, former BBC Education Officer and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools for Science, Scotland, Edward Peltzer, Ph.D., Ocean Chemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Dr. James Le Fanu, author of Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, Dr. Norman C. Nevin, OBE, BSc, MD, FFPH, FRCPath, FRCP (Edin), FRCP Emeritus Professor in Medical Genetics, Queen’s University, Belfast, Dr. John C. Walton, School of Chemistry, University of St. Andrews among others.
I think militant Darwinists do a disservice to science by denying thinkers like Meyer the opportunity to demonstrate the merits of his argument through ad hominem attacks on his character and integrity. The above mentioned scientists have more integrity than all of them by allowing Meyer’s work to speak for itself.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:46 am


Jim,
I have read quite a bit of the DI’s literature from their website. In fact, on my very lap RIGHT NOW is Behe’s “Science & Evidence for Design In the Universe”. Published in 2000 by Ignatius Press
I have also read:
Icons of Evolution
Defeating Darwinism…
Steven C. Meyer’s commentary in the Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash.
I have also read two other books, by DI fellows, which do not pertain to ID or evolution.
BTW, Jim, I checked with another library this morning (that makes 2 in two days) and they will not be able to get me a copy of Meyer’s new book.
Your allegation that my pseudonym is inappropriate is therefore false.
Your allegation that I “won’t” read the book is also false.
I will address your other points soon.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:48 am


David,
I asked you several questions. Why will you not answer them?



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:50 am


BTW, if anybody cares to read the paper in question, it can be found here:
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:52 am


David,
I’m not trying to “cadge” a book from you. I have now tried to obtain a copy of Meyer’s book from two libraries. No dice.
Why will you not offer complimentary copies? Are there none available at the DI? Do you not stand behind your challenge in earnest?
Please answer my questions, David.



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tiredofignorance

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:02 am


David,
Is there a personal reason why you will not answer my questions?
I’m trying to understand why you will not address my questions.



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Turmarion

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:21 am


Marjorie: Unlike the books written by the proponents of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Meyer is unfailingly civil, rational, reasonable, and honest, so persuasive.
Have you ever read Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, or Karl Giberson? They are men of faith, they accept evolution, and they are unfailingly polite and civil in what they write. Heck, whatever you might think about the late Stephen Jay Gould, he was never intemperate in his books. As I have pointed out on another post, though, one’s attitude is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of what he proposes. Sometimes jerks are correct and nice people are mistaken!
Jim: You should read some of the ID literature if you want to encounter evidence of intelligent design.
There is only one prominent ID advocate who is a real, practicing, trained biologist, Michael Behe. He, BTW, accepts evolution and common descent, an ancient cosmos, etc. He just seems to have issues with certain areas. In other words, 95% of his beliefs are identical to those of “Darwinists” as you all so quaintly insist on putting it. With friends like that…. Also, there have been no ID papers printed in peer-reviewed journals. Even you admit that they’re only in the “ID literature”.
Of course, the meme there is that you’re trying to imply that it’s all a big conspiracy, with blinkered (or sinister) scientists that don’t want to believe, or want to manipulate public opinion for their own power. This is, quite simply, bunk.
Look, no geological journal is going to publish a paper on the flat earth. No zoological journal is going to publish a paper on unicorns. No astronomical journal is going to publish a paper on astrology. This isn’t because of conspiracies against the flat earth or unicorns or astrology–it’s because there is no evidence for any of those things, zip. Ditto ID.



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:32 am


Dan L: “So I have to read this particular book to understand why ID is scientific?”
Of course not, but it’s one book among many in the ID literature that would help you to understand why ID is scientific.
Dan L: “Baldly asserting (six reasons why ID is scientific) and insisting that the only place they’ve been adequately described is one particular book is incredibly unconvincing.”
No one has asserted that Meyer’s book is “the only place (the reasons ID is scientific have) been adequately described.” If you’d get off your high horse and actually delve into the ID literature you’d likely learn a lot. You also wouldn’t have to ask others to do your homework for you.
Tiredofignorance: “I have also read: Icons of Evolution (and) Defeating Darwinism…”
That’s nice, but “Icons” has nothing to say about intelligent design and “Defeating Darwinism” devotes only one chapter to ID. One will learn nothing about ID from the former and gain only a nodding acquaintance with ID from the latter. You’ll learn a lot more about ID from Meyer’s book, if you ever read it.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:33 am


Perhaps Jim would explain many things if he thought for a minute that his explanations wouldn’t wreak an avalanche of idiocy.

He “explained” plenty, by “editing” what I wrote into a caricature of what I had actually written.
So you, who have addressed none of the specifics (other than to condemn one-sidedly without respect to context), only attacking the victim for supposedly not being “polite,” have now resorted to ascribing to one who has dealt carefully and honestly with the details of “an avalanche of idiocy.” Idiocy is attacking without dealing honestly with the facts, evidently the only thing you know to do.
Apparently you are neither honest nor capable of an intelligent response. Besides that, your hypocrisy is as great as any IDist’s. Like David, you only use ad hominemns because you’re unable to support your claims.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:52 am


Meyer is unfailingly civil, rational, reasonable, and honest, so persuasive

This is as substance-free and wrong as the rest of your attacks upon honest folk, Marjorie. Meyer has been caught out in rather obvious lies, recently by Jeff Shallit and Jerry Coyne (if you’re ignorant of this, you have no excuse for writing what you did). You neither address those instances, nor do you address the fact that Meyer is the head of the CSC, which lies constantly about scientists and about science.
I showed how disingenuous his book is at this blog. I’ll repeat it in several comments, in order to reduce the risk of my comments not posting, with a few alterations:

If anyone wants to see how “very important” Meyer’s rehash of old and useless “ID arguments” is, here’s a preview:
[address taken out because it seems to jeopardize posting]
Needless to say, it’s underwhelming. It’s a long dreary story of how he came up with his “new argument” (DNA’s complex, so god did it) for ID, complete with the usual false claims about ID, and the false dichotomy that if evolution didn’t do it, god did, never mind the lack of any indications for intelligent design. He doesn’t even bring up actual evidence for “intelligent design,” merely relying on the old anthropocentric fallacy of assuming that functionality is design, or at least that it “looks like” design. From p. 12:

…Natural selection…, a purely undirected process that nevertheless mimicked the powers of a designing intelligence.

That is exactly the kind of nonsense that we’re always getting from these clowns, mainly because they either are too ignorant to face the rather large differences between design, or they know better than to do so, and wish to simply conflate evolutionary effects with “design effects,” the better to ignore the crucial evidence for evolution that design never has explained at all.
Evolution can’t possibly mimic what design can do. It can’t pick the best materials for a purpose, it can’t come up with truly novel characteristics in organisms, it can’t make the rational leaps that designers routinely effect, and so it can’t produce a steam engine or a decent wheel. Evolution can’t smelt metals, use fire, make rockets, or make vertebrate wings out of anything but terrestrial limbs.
Meyer has no interest in dealing with the real issues, in other words. Indeed, most of his polemic is aimed at the origin of life, and of the genetic code. Is the latter a largely unexplained matter in evolution? I believe it is, although there are hints in life of a time in which the code was not so rigidly followed, and in fact it may be that a number of evolutionary events needed a less rigid code. But then does Meyer explain how and why additional (apparently later evolved) amino acids, like pyrrolysine, co-opt a stop codon for coding?
No, apparently not. It’s not interesting, he just wants to say that if events happening perhaps billions of years ago are not explained, then evolution falls apart. He needn’t explain what evolutionary theory does, goddidit is all the “explanation” that is needed. Evidence for design isn’t needed, because life “looks designed,” something that even many ancients didn’t believe–hence the magical and reproductive myths accounting for what was decidedly unmachinelike.

I see that you’ve answered none of this, Marjorie, hence your claims as to Meyer’s “honesty” ring as hollow as your pleas for “politeness” over the course of your malicious attacks upon victims of Jim’s gross misrepresentations and name-calling based upon his own bizarre and dishonest distortions. Well, there’s more that you have not addressed.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:57 am


Meyer is unfailingly civil, rational, reasonable, and honest, so persuasive

This is as substance-free and wrong as the rest of your attacks upon honest folk, Marjorie. Meyer has been caught out in rather obvious lies, recently by Jeff Shallit and Jerry Coyne (if you’re ignorant of this, you have no excuse for writing what you did). You neither address those instances, nor do you address the fact that Meyer is the head of the CSC, which lies constantly about scientists and about science.
I showed how disingenuous his book is at this blog. I’d repeat it here, but the software won’t let me, so here’s a link to a copy (the particular post to which I refer is 3rd from the bottom at the time of this comment):
http://www.forward.com/articles/109086/
I see that you’ve answered none of this, Marjorie, hence your claims as to Meyer’s “honesty” ring as hollow as your pleas for “politeness” over the course of your malicious attacks upon victims of Jim’s gross misrepresentations and name-calling based upon his own bizarre and dishonest distortions. Well, there’s more that you have not addressed.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm


tiredofignorance,
Perhaps if you approached David in a polite manner, you might have gained his respect. I don’t think he’s about to send you a free copy of the book, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t blame him. Your tactic does not reveal anything about David’s character, only your own lack of it. If you continue the tirade, it will only get worse for your own side. I’m saying this to help you, not to insult you. You are obviously an intelligent person. I’ve debated with many Darwin supporters, and many of them have been quite cordial and presented some substantive arguments for their position. You’re not one of them. I’m new here, and I haven’t been in a forum of this type for years, so it’s going to take me a while to get used to tactics like this. Unless of course you decide to change your tone a bit, which I wouldn’t object to.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm


Why is it that the post I wrote and submitted didn’t show up, and a post that I decided not to post (and deleted) showed up instead?



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm


Turmarion: “There is only one prominent ID advocate who is a real, practicing, trained biologist, Michael Behe.”
Other “real, practicing, trained biologists” who are proponents of ID include:
- Microbiologist Scott Minnich
- Developmental biologist Jonathan Wells
- Biophysicist Cornelius Hunter
- Geneticist Douglas Axe
- Biologist Lisanne D’Andrea-Winslow
- Developmental biologist Ann Gauger
- Biochemist David Keller
- Evolutionary biologist Richard von Sternberg
- Microbiologist Philip Lu
- Biologist Dean H. Kenyon
- Biologist Paul Chien
- Physical chemist/molecular biologist Charles Thaxton
There are others whose names don’t immediately come to mind, and there are no doubt many more trained biologists researching ID in obscurity. Openly expressing favor towards ID can adversely affect the career of a professional scientist (as Guillermo Gonzalez, Richard Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, and other scientists have learned – the hard way).
Turmarion: “…there have been no ID papers printed in peer-reviewed journals.”
Stephen Meyer’s peer-reviewed essay, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” appeared in “The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington,” a mainstream journal of biology. For a partial list of other peer-reviewed ID papers and books, go to:
http://www.discovery.org/a/2640
Turmarion: “Look, no geological journal is going to publish a paper on the flat earth. No zoological journal is going to publish a paper on unicorns. No astronomical journal is going to publish a paper on astrology. This isn’t because of conspiracies against the flat earth or unicorns or astrology–it’s because there is no evidence for any of those things, zip. Ditto ID.”
Having read some two dozen books by ID theorists/proponents, I’m acquainted with the evidence the supports design inferences in the biological world. Hence, I know you’re wrong.
In any event, this business about ID papers not being published is a particularly unpersuasive argument against the scientific legitimacy of ID theory. Why are ID papers not published in mainstream scientific journals? Because (as you suggest) the scientific establishment knows that ID is not scientific and refuses to publish them. And how does the scientific establishment know that ID is not scientific? Because ID papers don’t appear in mainstream scientific journals. Catch 22.



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CannuckianYankee

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Jim,
Thanks I spent about an hour preparing a post that stated essentially what you stated, (other biologists who support ID, and the ID peer-reviewed literature), but I had trouble actually posting it. From now on I’m going to type my longer posts on a notepad document so I don’t lose them altogether. The system here leaves much to be desired.
“Why are ID papers not published in mainstream scientific journals? Because (as you suggest) the scientific establishment knows that ID is not scientific and refuses to publish them. And how does the scientific establishment know that ID is not scientific? Because ID papers don’t appear in mainstream scientific journals. Catch 22.”
Excellent point.



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FishyFred

posted July 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm


he lists and describes 12 ways in which ID is testable
I came here because PZ reported that he would take your challenge seriously, but if you’d like to get many more responses, post these 12 things here for free and see if folks who don’t want to buy the book will bite on your request.



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Mike McCants

posted July 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm


“He lays out a massive evidentiary case.”
Your attempt to be humorous failed.



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Olorin

posted July 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm


DK: “On the other hand, if you’ll go ahead and read the whole book, including the appendix where he lists and describes 12 ways in which ID is testable, I will take your response very seriously.”
On the other hand, if Dr Meyer had ever lifted a finger to carry out even one of his own proposed tests, we might be a little more apt to take them seriously. Maybe even plunk down $19 for the book.
Yes, yes. Rampant discrimination. Lack of funds. No access to journals. Whine & whinge. However, the Discovery Institute has a Biologic Research Institute that has nothing to do at the moment. Robert Marks is still employed at Baylor with access to a computer. Biola University has a biology department and plenty of money to host conferences. Bob Jones and Liberty are rolling in dough, and face no internal opposition to ID creationism. The DI’s Complexity and AiG’s Answers journals have their printing presses revved up and their captive peer-review flacks revved up to accept anything. Anything at all.
Consider poor Rudolf Boltzmann. For 30 years, classical physicists denigrated his atomic theory. So he lobbied every Rathaus in the country to adopt his theory in the schools, organized conferences to show that Continuum Theory was responsible for the Black Death, and founded an Entdeckung Institut to whip up support among the general public. In short, he did everything possible … except of course to conduct research to amass evidence for his view.
Do your own testing, Meyer.



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Olorin

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:20 pm


Jim: “Other “real, practicing, trained biologists” who are proponents of ID include:”
Jim, you might ask if any of theses have ever published any original research containing evidence for design. It’s still true today as it was in 2005 when Michael Behe admitted in sworn testimony that:
“There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.” (Kitzmiller v Dover, transcript Trial day 11, PM session)
By the way, ID seems to have a palling effect upon its proponentsists even as to their other work. Michael Behe had over 40 papers published before he hooked up with the DI 13 years ago. Since then: 3. Guillermo Gonzales was a blitzkrieg of papers—67, as I remember—before the DI zapped him. Since then: nada.
Also BTW, Jonathan Wells is not a practicing scientist, and has not been since he was a postdoc. His only purpose in getting a PhD was to destroy evolution. Douglas Axe had denied that his two reviewed journal papers support ID. In any event, they have not been cited by any other papers. Even if you can sneak an article into a journal, a la Richard Sternberg, the number of later citations indicates how whether anyone else thought it had any value.



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Not Very Religious

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm


“Why are ID papers not published in mainstream scientific journals? Because (as you suggest) the scientific establishment knows that ID is not scientific and refuses to publish them. And how does the scientific establishment know that ID is not scientific? Because ID papers don’t appear in mainstream scientific journals. Catch 22.”
If this naive, mechanistic notion of how papers are selected for publication were true, no new idea could ever be published in a scientific journal. It would all just be rehashes of existing ideas.
The reason why ID papers don’t get published is that they’re so unscientific they have no chance to make it through review. You can publish new ideas, but they have to hold up to scrutiny. ID doesn’t.



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Ichthyic

posted July 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm


On the other hand, if you’ll go ahead and read the whole book, including the appendix where he lists and describes 12 ways in which ID is testable, I will take your response very seriously.
5 bucks says you’ll post a response, that somewhat fits your liking, and if there’s any disagreement with your thinking, you’ll have completely forgotten about it by the following week.
People don’t support ID because it’s good science, so it’s obvious that actual debate will not sway you at all.
in short, you’re intellectually dishonest, and I predict will remain so regardless of the critiques of this book.



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John Blanton

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:01 pm


OK, I am not quite through the book. I am up to chapter 17. However I note that Meyers makes a number of mistakes of fact.
First, information comes not only from intelligent sources. Meyers seems to be clueless to how information is created. Hint: I know the answer.



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm


Olorin: “Jim, you might ask if any of theses have ever published any original research containing evidence for design. It’s still true today as it was in 2005 when Michael Behe admitted in sworn testimony that:
‘There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.’ (Kitzmiller v Dover, transcript Trial day 11, PM session)”
At the risk of stating the obvious, Behe did not testify that no peer-reviewed ID papers had ever been published (which was the claim to which I was responding). He instead testified that no ID papers providing “detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred” had been published. His testimony brings to mind something said not so long ago by University of Chicago molecular biologist James Shapiro (who is no fan of ID), to wit:
“There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations. It is remarkable that Darwinism is accepted as a satisfactory explanation for such a vast subject – evolution – with so little rigorous examination of how well its basic theses work in illuminating specific instances of biological adaptation or
diversity.”
Would you care to provide a detailed, testable Darwinian account of the evolution of, say, the bacterial flagellum? I’m not interested in the kind of speculative just-so story that is so typical of the Darwinist literature; I’d like to see something scientifically rigorous. If you can’t provide that detailed, testable explanation, why should you pretend that Darwinists occupy the epistemic high ground by demanding that ID theorists deliver a level of explanatory detail that Darwinists themselves fail to provide?



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm


John Blanton: “First, information comes not only from intelligent sources.”
Meyer makes that point himself, and he draws a distinction between mere Shannon information (which need not convey a message or produce a specific effect) and meaningful information (which does). What is the probability, John, that the meaningful information in your posting could have been come from an unintelligent source?



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm


Scratch the “been” from the last sentence in my last posting.
Oops.



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aiguy

posted July 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm


There has already been a highly popularized test of ID, the “Junk DNA” prediction. As you can read on just about every ID site on the web, ID made a prediction that function would be found for the non-coding stretches of DNA found in the genome, based on the fact that an intelligent designer wouldn’t deliberately put useless junk inside our cells. Lo and behold, against the Darwinists’ expectations, function has been found for some of the DNA, thus vindicating the ID scientific enterprise.
What the ID sites fail to mention is that William Dembski had already completely undermined this prediction in his book “The Design Revolution”, where he explains that intelligent designers would in fact be quite likely to put useless junk inside our cells! Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself on this ID website:
http://www.iscid.org/encyclopedia/Optimal_Design,_Argument_From
where Dembski points out “Why would a software engineer leave flaws in the program code? There are many possible reasons for this… the dead code can happily sit in the source code (as perhaps can the ‘junk’ DNA stay in the DNA) forever.
Since ID refuses to say what an “intelligent designer” is supposed to be, precisely nothing follows from the claim that such a thing was responsible for life. It is compatible with any claim or its contradiction.



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Unaplogetic Catholic

posted July 23, 2009 at 8:05 pm


“Would you care to provide a detailed, testable Darwinian account of the evolution of, say, the bacterial flagellum? I’m not interested in the kind of speculative just-so story that is so typical of the Darwinist literature; I’d like to see something scientifically rigorous.”
Yeah, here:
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 23, 2009 at 8:28 pm


Unapologetic Catholic, that figure 7 is AWESOME.
For those who actually are trying to figure out how the flagellum evolved, scroll down UC’s link to figure 7, for an example of what ID proponents said could not possibly exist. Believers in ID will just try to move on to another example, but will gladly tell a new audience that “science cannot explain” the flagellum.
For Jim, please explain why “the Designer” gave pandas carnivorous stomachs; whales leg bones and spines that bend vertically instead of horizontally; humans with backward retinas in their eyes and octopi with identical eyes, except with the retinas in the right way; flatfish with eyes on each side of their head, which have to bend their skulls around while they grow up to get both eyes on the same side.
While you are at it, please describe what characteristics an organism would have which word force you to conclude that it could not have possibly been designed.
Incidentally, “information” is just a reduction in entropy. When ocean waves sort pebbles on a beach, and snowflakes form from water, “information” is naturally and spontaneously created–unless you want to convince us that every snowflake is an individually, intelligently designed, miracle.



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IanR

posted July 23, 2009 at 9:30 pm


Back in reply 64, Jim wrote that I “remain resolutely uninformed about the arguments that ID theorists actually make and argue against the arguments you imagine they make,” and otherwise ignored the rest of my post (particularly the part about how the designer is associated with the biological evidence and can be isolated from genetics). There are only three parts to ID that I know of: irreducible complexity, for which there is no example, CSI ala Demski, which has been debunked by mathematicians, and CSI ala Meyer. I’ve read the Proceedings paper, and there’s nothing in the paper that establishes those links. It’s more trying to take shots at evolution. What is there to be informed about?



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Jim

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm


“Would you care to provide a detailed, testable Darwinian account of the evolution of, say, the bacterial flagellum? I’m not interested in the kind of speculative just-so story that is so typical of the Darwinist literature; I’d like to see something scientifically rigorous.”
Unaplogetic Catholic: “Yeah, here:
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
Keep looking. That’s the kind of speculative just-so story I’m used to seeing. The speculation doesn’t become confirmed simply because it’s couched in so much jargon and illusory specificity.



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jdg

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:19 am


Once again, ID is not science
How Ironic that The Discovery Institute did not go to court in 05 to defends their “theory” in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Why not??? Because they knew it was religion all along??
Let me ask you clown something, had ID cured a disease? Produced a real world application that has helped society (like the flu shot??) Of course not.



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jdg

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:21 am


“has” ID cured a disease??



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Alan

posted July 24, 2009 at 5:36 am


WARNING TO ALL DARWINISTS
I don’t believe for one minute that David was serious about having a contest. In reality, he was hoping to smoke out some of the darwinist trumph cards againt ID. You know – the serious arguments against ID that we have been kept hidden all this time, in preparation for the last desparate clash between the forces of good (that would be the darwinists) vs the forces of wickedness and depravity (that would be the ID supporters). Keep holding the line troops. If we refuse to fall for this, then he will have no arguments to criticise.
His strategy has obviously backfired so far. The clever darwinists are not so stupid as to give away their best tricks and have remained tight lipped. Now David will be unable to post a response to his challenge, credible or otherwise….unless he at least drops the demand to read the book. Continue to throw as much smoke as you can muster but please save your souls and DON’T READ THE BOOK or you will have entered the slipper path to disbelief.



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Jim

posted July 24, 2009 at 9:23 am


Jim: “Would you care to provide a detailed, testable Darwinian account of the evolution of, say, the bacterial flagellum? I’m not interested in the kind of speculative just-so story that is so typical of the Darwinist literature; I’d like to see something scientifically rigorous.”
Unapologetic Catholic: Yeah, here:
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
That site provides one of the better just-so stories for the Darwinian evolution of a molecular system that I’ve seen. Those who are already convinced by the Darwinian explanation of life’s evolution will find that story persuasive. Those who are not will notice all the hedging, all the imaginary details, and all the camouflaging of difficulties with rhetoric. Despite giving the appearance of scientific rigor, the site’s explanation of the flagellum’s evolution is wishful speculation, although an impressively elaborate speculation. The explanation relies heavily on the hypothesis that the Type III secretion system (TTSS) was co-opted to help form the flagellum. The problem with this hypothesis is that the best evidence suggests that the TTSS evolved AFTER the flagellum, not before (see: http://www.discovery.org/a/1364).
Gabriel Hanna: “For Jim, please explain why ‘the Designer’ gave pandas carnivorous stomachs; whales leg bones and spines that bend vertically instead of horizontally; humans with backward retinas in their eyes and octopi with identical eyes, except with the retinas in the right way; flatfish with eyes on each side of their head, which have to bend their skulls around while they grow up to get both eyes on the same side.”
ID theory does not propose to get into the mind of the designer to determine why biological designs are what they are. Its purpose is to show that design constitutes a better explanation for many biological systems, structures, processes, etc. than do chance and necessity. It does not concern itself with subjective judgments of the implicated designer’s mastery of design (or lack thereof). ID theory is quite compatible with evolution, but not with Darwinian evolutionary theory, which attributes life’s diversity and complexity to chance (primarily random genetic mutations) and necessity (primarily natural selection).
You’re raising a common objection to ID theory, namely, that many biological designs appear to be less than optimal. But why should that be a problem for ID theory? There is no such thing as optimal design. All designs involve trade-offs between competing objectives, and not all of the competing objectives can be optimized in the design of a thing. Therefore it is simply gratuitous to say that a biological system could not have been designed because the observer subjectively regards its design as flawed. Your subjective opinion that the human eye is a faulty design, while the eye of the octopus was done “in the right way,” is no argument against design theory. Nonetheless, for an explanation of the elegance of design in the human eye, go to:
http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od192/invertedretina192.htm
Gabriel Hanna: “When ocean waves sort pebbles on a beach, and snowflakes form from water, ‘information’ is naturally and spontaneously created–unless you want to convince us that every snowflake is an individually, intelligently designed, miracle.”
The kind of information you’re speaking of is irrelevant to ID theory, which is concerned only with specified information (that is to say, information that is biologically useful).
jdg: “How Ironic that The Discovery Institute did not go to court in 05 to defends their ‘theory’ in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.”
Even if this were true, why would it be ironic? Discovery Institute opposed the policy proposed by the Dover school board, and so advised the board long before the policy became the subject of a law suit (see: http://www.discovery.org/a/3003).
In any event, two fellows of DI’s Center for Science and Culture (i.e., Michael Behe and Scott Minnich) did testify at the Dover trial to defend the scientific legitimacy of ID theory. They did not, however, appear to defend the actions of the Dover school board.
Jdg: “Let me ask you clown something, had ID cured a disease? Produced a real world application that has helped society (like the flu shot??) Of course not.”
So what? Knowledge is valuable in its own right, irrespective of any practical benefits it might provide. Also, the practical benefits of Darwinian evolutionary theory have been grossly oversold. It’s arguable that the theory has provided no useful benefits, medical or otherwise. For a discussion of this, see:
http://www.discovery.org/a/2816
and
http://www.discovery.org/a/2950
Why not??? Because they knew it was religion all along??
Let me ask you clown something, had ID cured a disease? Produced a real world application that has helped society (like the flu shot??) Of course



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Olorin

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm


Alan: “WARNING TO ALL DARWINISTS”
Poe’s Law rears its head yet again. Sorry, Duke: Grandpa Bush didn’t have a tail.
The claims and counterclaims are already on the table, and have been for years.
Every ID claim ultimately reduces to: (1) Living organisms are so complex that no one will ever discover how any presently known natural process can explain their origin. (2) Living organisms are similar to things that we know have been designed. (3) The only possible alternative to presently known natural laws is an intelligence whose nature, characteristics, and attributes are beyond scientific knowledge.
Every test of ID distills to (1) Design is proven by evolution’s inability to demonstrate in ever-growing detail how a feature of ID’s choosing actually evolved. (2) The presence of information from the analogy to designed machines is evidence of design. (3) An ad hoc prediction made from assumptions outside the actual theory of ID, and which sometimes conflict with each other.
Scientists’ responses to ID are basically: (1) Present ignorance of certain aspects of Theory A (evolution) does not constitute positive evidence for Theory B (design). (2) The analogy assumes the truth of the matter to be shown; analogy is not evidence.. (3) Supernatural or not, the actions of an arbitrary intelligence are not within science, because they are by definition unpredictable and unrepeatable.
The form of ID assertions has of course changed over the years. They used to argue the second law of thermodynamics, until people started laughing at them for their ignorance of open systems. Did that asrgument go away? No. It has morphed into Dembski’s Law of Infoemation, that the creation of information requires intelligence. That egg on the face from that one now seems to have apppeard in its denial in Meyer’s new book. But the basic second-law argument still lives in the cvoncept of an equivocally-defined “complex specified information.”
ID has no new idesa, no new claims or tests. The mannequin is now wering a cheap tuxedo, but it is still the same mannequin.



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John Blanton

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm


Jim wrote:
John Blanton: “First, information comes not only from intelligent sources.”
Meyer makes that point himself, and he draws a distinction between mere Shannon information (which need not convey a message or produce a specific effect) and meaningful information (which does). What is the probability, John, that the meaningful information in your posting could have been come from an unintelligent source?
I stand by my original statement. I am preparing a review of Meyer’s book, and I will be hitting on this point.
My previous post could serve as an example that confirms my point. A post from an unintelligent source.
John Blanton



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Olorin

posted July 24, 2009 at 11:57 pm


For a summary of Meyer’s book, see http://www.arn.org/docs/meyer/sm_dnaotherdesigns.htm, His arguments haven’t changed very much since he wrote that piece for ARN in 2000. (Dated on April 1, would you believe!)



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PsiCop

posted July 25, 2009 at 5:26 pm


I have a counter-request to make of you:
Why is it necessary that I accept your dogmatic creationism?
Why is it necessary that all public school children be taught your dogmatic creationism?
How, exactly, does it harm you — personally — for evolution to be taught in science classrooms?
On what grounds, exactly, do you presume to have the power to control what the rest of the world thinks?
Please answer all of the above questions precisely and concretely. If you refuse to do so, or only do so in an evasive fashion, then I will know that YOU, sir, are not actually serious in your own challenge.



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Alan

posted July 25, 2009 at 7:20 pm


Olorin wrote:
“Every ID claim ultimately reduces to: (1) Living organisms are so complex that no one will ever discover how any presently known natural process can explain their origin.”
Wrong. ID looks for discontinuities in the causal structure of nature which are unlikely to be resolved by further research. The information in DNA cannot be accounted for in terms of chance or any natural law and would be one example of this. It is not a lack of knowledge that leads us to the conclusion that the information in DNA could not have arisen by a naturalistic process, but what we do know about how information rich systems arise nowadays.
Olorin wrote:
“The only possible alternative to presently known natural laws is an intelligence whose nature, characteristics, and attributes are beyond scientific knowledge.”
While the Designer may not be open to direct observation, the products of design certainly are. You are like the person complaining to Newton that he has failed to explain what gravity actually is. People did great science without knowing anything about the true nature of gravity, just as the are doing great science by reverse engineering living systems, without knowing or observing the “Engineer”. At the same time, Darwinian speculation about what may have happened millions of years ago is really quite irrelevant to most serious lab based research nowadays.
ID uses a method known as “the method of multiple competing hypotheses”, or “inference to the best explanation”. Darwin and Lyell argued that when reasoning about the distant past, only known causes which are sufficient to achieve the desired effect should be considered. When applying Darwins own logic, we consider the currently acting causes such as chance, natural law and intelligence as explanations for the digital data stored in DNA. We conclude that an intelligent cause is most likely the only sufficient cause – but the door is always open for Darwinists to prove us wrong.
So Darwinists. It’s time to:
-leave the safety of your ivory towers;
-stop basking the glory of victories past;
-ditch the comforting (but ridiculous) “just-so” stories;
-give up hope on the fossil record;
-drop the ad hominem arguments;
-cease construction of the straw men versions of ID to bash;
-end appeals to authority and the scientific consensus;
-stop the hysterical scaremongering about ID;
-stop relying on dubious court rulings to settle profound questions about the nature of reality;
-stop using philosophical arguments to artificially define ID as unscientific;
-Stop trying to turn Darwinian evolution into the creation myth of a secular religion;
-stop concealing the shambles that Darwinian theory is in from the general public;
-stop blindly and uncritically rehashing the garbage churned out by the Darwin defence lobby;
and time to start getting your hands dirty with some genuine research into solving the information problem from a Darwinian perspective.



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Held pending moderation (G. Hanna)

posted July 25, 2009 at 8:09 pm


The information in DNA cannot be accounted for in terms of chance or any natural law and would be one example of this.
This is your mere assertion without proof. Information spontaneously arises in nature ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has studied statistical mechanics knows this. Anyone who watches water freeze has SEEN it.
While the Designer may not be open to direct observation, the products of design certainly are.
Circular argument. That the products of evolution are “products of design” is the question you are to prove. You cannot resolve it by appealing to an unknown designer, whose abilities and nature you refuse to specify. The Designer itself must have been designed, BY YOUR OWN PREMISE, because as you say information can’t come out of nowhere. If this is true, the Designer also needs a source of information; if the Designer doesn’t, you contradict yourself.
You are like the person complaining to Newton that he has failed to explain what gravity actually is.
Newton showed that if his theory was true, certain types of orbits are the only ones possible. If an orbit violates these rules, Newton’s theory is disproved–and it was disproved by Mercury’s orbit and the work of Einstein.
Proponents of intelligent design offer no test that would show an organism could not have been designed.
and time to start getting your hands dirty with some genuine research into solving the information problem from a Darwinian perspective.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Let’s count all the papers coming out of Discovery Institute:
According to Scitation, the number of papers written or coauthored by Richard Dawkins are 338.
Ernst Mayr: 111
Richard Lewontin: 113
That’s just three off the top of my head.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 25, 2009 at 8:30 pm


Alan, a guy who shares my name and initials, by coincidence, wrote this paper:
“Patterns of resistance mutations selected by treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection with zidovudine, didanosine, and nevirapine”, Hanna G. J. et. al, Journal of Infections Diseases, 181 904 (2000).
This paper is about the mutation of HIV and its evolution of resistance when treated.
This one paper has been cited by 70 other papers.
Even all of the DI fellows put together have not WRITTEN 70 papers, even in their pet journal.
How dare you say Darwinists “need to get their hands dirty and do research”! They are the only people DOING any research! There are literally hundreds of thousands of papers about Darwinians evolution.
Either you are lying yourself, or being lied to.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm


Alan, you accuse Darwinists of intellectual dishonesty. What do you call it when people lie about what someone else said?
From DI fellow Jonathan Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, p 30, he claims to quote William Ballard:
It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”
But the REAL quote is:
All then arrive at the pharyngula stage, which is remarkably uniform throughout the subphylum, consisting of similar organ rudiments similarly arranged (though in some respects deformed in respect to habitat and food supply). After the standardized pharyngula stage, the maturing of the structures of organs and tissues takes place on diverging line, each line characteristic of the class and further diverging into lines characteristic of the orders, families, and so on.
Before the pharyngula stage we can only say that the embryos of different species within a single taxonomic class are more alike than their parents. Only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence can we claim that “gastrulas” of shark, salmon, frog, and bird are more alike than their adults.
Wells knowingly chopped the quote into pieces to make it say the opposite of what Ballard said.
In the movie Expelled, Darwin is quoted as saying:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The REAL quote is (with the elisions bolded):
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.
Darwin here says that sympathy is the NOBLEST PART OF OUR NATURE, and that intentionally neglecting the weak could ONLY be justified by an overwhelming evil.
Why can’t they quote people honestly? They always have to lie about what biologists have said.
You want to defend that, Alan?



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Olorin

posted July 25, 2009 at 11:41 pm


Congratulations, Alan, for using all three of my ID arguments in trying to refute them.
But let’s concentrate on argument #2—that ignorance concerning Theory A constitutes evidence for Theory B. (For example, lack of observations of unicorns is evidence for the existence of spotted lawn flamingos.)
Alan: “When applying Darwins own logic, we consider the currently acting causes such as chance, natural law and intelligence as explanations for the digital data stored in DNA. We conclude that an intelligent cause is most likely the only sufficient cause – but the door is always open for Darwinists to prove us wrong”.
The major problem here is that you merely assume that which is to be proven. You have no evidence of the existence of such an intelligence. Not content with that, you have the chutzpah to assert that something for which evidence is totally missing is “most likely the only sufficient cause.” Meshugeh, as David might say..
Alan: “[T]ime to start getting your hands dirty with some genuine research into solving the information problem from a Darwinian perspective.
Since ID created the problem, why is it not ID’s responsibility to at least go forward with the solving it? The only evidence so far is that Research Biologist Bill Gates said that DNA is like a computer program. This recalls the proof that Stevie Wonder is God. Ahem. God iss love. Love is blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore…. Analogies may be helpful in suggesting research, but they do not constitute EVIDENCE of anything.
Actually, there are hundreds of papers over a dozens of years on the origin of the genetic code. For an interesting example, try Science, 12 May 2006, pp. 870-72, “Did DNA Come from Viruses?”. Or, if reading makes your head hurt, try the somewhat simplistic video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtmbcfb_rdc. Some of it is speculation at present, but your asking for effort. The only lack of effort is on the part of DI. Where are the experiments? Where are the field trips? Where are the computer simulations? (Warning: If you play the discrimination card, I’ll sic Rudolf Boltzmann and Alfred Wegener on you.)



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm


G. Hanna wrote
“This is your mere assertion without proof. Information spontaneously arises in nature ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has studied statistical mechanics knows this. Anyone who watches water freeze has SEEN it.”
Your first sentence contains 42 characters of specified information (i.e. it fits a previously recognizable pattern in terms of the ordering of the letters into a meaningful sentence.):
1. “This is your mere assertion without proof.” (complex + specified) infer design
This is a highly improbable (complex) arrangement of characters which happens to be specified.
2. gvher greuamn tnomuiop romyfop enoimp ghdt (complex but unspecified) no design
The above arrangement is an equally improbable, but can you see the difference.
3. At (simple but specified) no design
The above sentence is specified in the sense that it matches a recognizable word, but it is not improbable enough for us to rule out chance as an explanation. Even monkeys hammering away at typewriters would eventually get 2 characters of specified info.
Assuming there are 20 amino acids used in protein construction, the probability of a small protein with, say, 250 amino acids being assembled without anything directing the process is given by:
20^250.
Statistical mechanics has nothing whatsoever to say about the ordering of the above amino acids into a meaningful protein, nor do any natural laws. The ordering of the bases in DNA which direct protein synthesis is entirely contingent. It is this contingency that gives DNA its information bearing properties. Try coding for 30 000 proteins using ice crystals and see how far you get. The structure of ice crystals ARE easily explainable and predictable by the physical and chemical properties of water. They are swiftly ruled out as complex specified information by Dembski’s design filter.
Please get your facts straight in future before going into indignant capitalisation. By failing to distinguish between unspecified information and specified information, you stick out like a sore thumb as someone with an ideological axe to grind but who is ignorant of the basic claims of ID. Since you have not read Meyers book, I would suggest you read “understanding intelligent design” first as an introduction. Failing that, you would save us both a lot of time by checking out this link before presenting any more criticism of ID:
Frequently raised but weak arguments against Intelligent Design



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm


G. Hanna wrote
“How dare you say Darwinists “need to get their hands dirty and do research”! They are the only people DOING any research!”
I mean genuine, critical research. The kind that seriously addresses problems with Darwinism and challenges dogmatic assumptions. The Darwinists certainly have their fingers on the public purse strings at the moment, but this situation is unsustainable due to the shabby state of the Darwinian paradigm and their inability even to address the questions posed by Design theorists such as Meyer. You can see the proof of the last statement by searching the responses to this blog. A single well argued response would have settled things, but I am not holding my breath.
The research carried out by Darwinists would be of “normal science” type described by T. Kuhn. The sheer number of papers produced is irrelevant, if they all contain the same faulty assumptions at base. At the risk of contrasting NDE with some genuinely brilliant science, you could have write a million papers on Newtonian physics, but that doesn’t make the theory correct. In addition, outside Evolutionary biology, Darwinism is practically irrelevant because it has no heuristic value. Darwinism is simply a relic of the 19th C which is being left behind by the entirely unpredicted complexity of life and persists only due to its place as the official secular creation myth.



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 5:55 pm


G. Hanna wrote
“There are literally hundreds of thousands of papers about Darwinians evolution.
Darwinists love to monopolise the credit for anything having the remotest relevance to evolution. Tens of thousands of papers have been written comparing sections of the genome of different species. They all act under the same faulty ASSUMPTION that similarities between species must be due (principally) to common descent and the Darwinian mechanism of RM and NS. When similarities are found, this is then hailed as a success for Darwinism (when the findings contradict common ancestry, they are completely ignored, but lets leave that for now ).
Comparative genomics could, however, exist quite happily without any reference to Darwinism. For example, you could assume common ancestry arising through some unknown or even undiscoverable mechanism (Common ancestry is not even ruled out by ID, although Darwins tree of life is coming under serious attack by mainstream science). The findings of comparative genomics would equally well support a guided evolutionary theory. Similarities among the genomes could also be accounted for by a common designer re-using working designs. Once Darwinism is replaced, either by ID or by some other theory, this body of empirical evidence will be suitably reinterpreted.



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm


G. Hanna wrote
“How dare you say Darwinists “need to get their hands dirty and do research”! They are the only people DOING any research! There are literally hundreds of thousands of papers about Darwinians evolution.”
Have I struck a nerve? Please tell me how the Darwinian tautology was ever responsible for predicting the appearance of a mutation or providing a cure. NDE has no predictive power, cannot even agree on a universal definition of “fitness” and cannot provide the remotest guidance in finding cures. Any reference to Darwinism is typically added after the science has been worked out as a rhetorical gloss or a kind of homage to Darwin. The type of minor variation operating in HIV, bacteria and higher animals is consistent with micro evolution and uncontroversial among design theorists who readily acknowledge that the neo-Darwinian (random search) mechanism can tinker with existing functions. What you need to prove is that the same mechanisms gave rise to viruses, bacteria and higher animals in the first place.



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 6:38 pm


Olorin
“Congratulations, Alan, for using all three of my ID arguments in trying to refute them.
But let’s concentrate on argument #2—that ignorance concerning Theory A constitutes evidence for Theory B. (For example, lack of observations of unicorns is evidence for the existence of spotted lawn flamingos.)”
We know that the arrangement of letters, words and sentences in a book has no naturalistic explanation, not because we haven’t looked hard enough, or because we aren’t smart enough, but because it greatly exceeds the probability resources of the universe by orders of magnitude. Our conclusions are based on a tremendous amount of knowledge about the way the universe works – not ignorance. If chance and natural law (naturalism) are shown to be insufficient, then I would be happy for you to speculate on some other category of explanation other than design …. and I may consider it.
Your argument is of course a straw man of the type Darwinists frequently use when charactarising ID arguments. People who can refute an argument will always present it in its strongest form, those who can’t … BTW Darwin was very keen on your above logic i.e. that “ignorance concerning Theory A constitutes evidence for Theory B”.
The Origin of Species was one long theological treatise on how God wouldn’t do things that way, so Darwinism must be true. Darwin and his followers believed that they had refuted Creationism in the narrow sense of the literal Genesis account and in doing so claimed to have refuted Creationism in the broad sense of their being some directing intelligence behind life. Modern attacks on ID are full of such theological arguments which tend to be variants of the argument from evil. Its not so much that amateur theology appears regularly in respected science journals to refute ID, but that it is passed of as SCIENTIFIC. My advice would be that people in glass houses shouldn’t erect straw men.



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm


Gabriel Hanna
Alan, you accuse Darwinists of intellectual dishonesty. What do you call it when people lie about what someone else said?
I certainly don’t remember specifically calling all Darwinists intellectually dishonest, although I will clarify my position for the record. By refusing to concede openly that Darwinism has serious problems with the evidence, a large proportion of the Darwinists WHO ARE CURRENTLY FRONTING THE THEORY are deceiving the public. It is one thing to claim that you believe in a theory in spite of serious deficiencies (and I’m not talking about the trivial type which would be expected to be resolved by further research), and another to deny they exist to the general public who are in many cases funding your research.
Many Darwinists are so caught up with conflicts of interest and vested interests, that they are simply not to be trusted as impartial vehicles for the truth. Look at Dawkins for example. How can a man who is widely seen as the worlds most fervent atheist be trusted to give an impartial account of the state of Darwinism. This is the man who considers physical child abuse to be less serious than the “intellectual abuse” suffered by helpless children at the hands of nasty Creationists. Even the philosopher Antony Flew, who contributed far more than Dawkins ever did towards the intellectual foundations of the new atheists, has accused Dawkins of misleading him. I do not accuse all Darwinists of open dishonesty. Many are simply worried about their careers, their status, their lifes work and of course their ideology, so the push nagging doubts to the side. I do however see their present collective behaviour as symptomatic of a theory in crisis.



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alan

posted July 26, 2009 at 7:45 pm


BTW, only someone REALLY new to this debate would actively raise evidence of Darwins eugenic legacy to make a point. Darwin may have been a really nice man personally and a loving father who came from a three generation family of abolitionists, but the conclusions of his own theory do point strongly towards eugenics and do go a long way to legitimizing slavery. Francis Galton (Darwins cousin) is universally credited as the founder of modern eugenics, but the fact that the foundations of Eugenics lies in Darwins works such as “The Descent of Man” is undeniable. Darwin clearly new of the eugenic implications of his theory and that is precisely why he feels compelled to follow a paragraph ending:
“It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
With:
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.
Free will is something which hard core Darwinist simply deny and to suggest using something which doesn’t exist to make choices which work against the laws of nature is just silly. If red ants enslaving black ants is part of the natural world and can be explained in terms of Darwinian theory, and Man is a material entity which is part of the natural world, and the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain then on what basis does Darwin make his illogical exception in the case of Mankind. Why can’t we “check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason” again?
I don’t have to make the case that Darwinism was a necessary if not sufficient step leading to eugenics. Richard Weikart lets Darwinists themselves do the talking in his book From Darwin to Hitler. Please let me know if he has quoted anyone out of context in this related talk.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A
I could bash you for hours on this topic, but I would prefer to discus the scientific deficiencies of NDE, and the challenge from ID, rather than Darwinisms unsavoury ideological implications.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm


Alan:
Statistical mechanics has nothing whatsoever to say about the ordering of the above amino acids into a meaningful protein, nor do any natural laws.
How do you know? All you are doing is cutting and pasting from Meyer or Dembski. If they are not telling you the truth, you have no way to judge.
I’m sure you know ALL ABOUT statistical mechanics. All I’ve done is take a few courses on it in grad school, but no doubt you know far more about it than the people who study it for a living, right?
Darwinists love to monopolise the credit for anything having the remotest relevance to evolution.
Moving the goalposts. You said, “where’s the research”? I pointed to over 100,000 papers, NOT ONE OF WHICH YOU HAVE READ, NOT ONE OF WHICH YOU HAVE THE EDUCATION TO UNDERSTAND. And you say they don’t count, for some reason you totally made up.
I asked, where are the ID papers? You can’t point to any research done by your side of this argument.
What you need to prove is that the same mechanisms gave rise to viruses, bacteria and higher animals in the first place.
Show me a fossil of an organism being “designed”. Think of an example of an organism that couldn’t POSSIBLY have been designed. Then, and only then, will ID be something that can be tested by science.
The Origin of Species was one long theological treatise on how God wouldn’t do things that way, so Darwinism must be true.
You have proved here, by your statement, that YOU HAVE NOT READ “Origin of Species”. You read a book by Meyer or Klinghoffer or Dembski or someone like that, who characterized it for you this way, and lied when they did it, as I proved by the examples of their distorting quotes.
You join their ranks as a liar if you refuse to investigate for yourself and parrot their lies.
BTW, only someone REALLY new to this debate would actively raise evidence of Darwins eugenic legacy to make a point.
There is no “eugenic legacy”. It is made up by people like the fellows at DI. They have to lie about what Darwin said in order to make this case, and I have provided examples of them doing so.
You never addressed them.
Alan, why is it okay to lie about what biologists say, if truth is on your side?
ichard Weikart lets Darwinists themselves do the talking in his book From Darwin to Hitler. Please let me know if he has quoted anyone out of context in this related talk.
I and others have addressed these distortions at length on this very blog. However, let me give one example, from Mein Kampf, Chapter 11:
he fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice.
Hitler in Table Talk:
Where do we acquire the right to believe that man has not always been what he is now? The study of nature teaches us that, in the animal kingdom just as much as in the vegetable kingdom, variations have occurred. They’ve occurred within the species, but none of these variations has an importance comparable with that which separates man from the monkey — assuming that this transformation really took place.
Hitler rejects macroevolution and believes only in microevolution — JUST LIKE YOU, and unlike Darwin or any other mainstream biologist since his time.
I could bash you for hours on this topic…
Internet tough guy. You don’t read papers, you don’t read any books that might shake your ignorance. You cut and paste from people who play you for chumps. You have all sorts of opinions on sciences you never studied and don’t understand.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm


Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise.
Mein Kampf, Chapter 1.
What do we call people who don’t believe that one species can evolve into another, and believe that man was made in God’s image, Alan?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm


BTW, Alan, here’s the table of contents for Origin of Species. Maybe you can find five minutes to look it over, and see how ignorant your characterization as “nothing but a long theological treatise on what couldn’t have been designed” is.
http://www.tbi.univie.ac.at/Origin/origin_toc.html
So now you are going to go glance at it, maybe, and still repeat the same characterization. Fine.
But other people reading the comments will look for themselves, and see that you shot off your mouth without knowing what you were talking about.
And they will judge between you and me.
I know I won’t convince you–that is not my point. You repeat lies about Darwin and biology–I know you didn’t originate them–in front of people who don’t know better. I do know better, and they can compare what you say, and what I say, and decide which side is a) not doing any research, b) doesn’t know anything about modern science, c) repeats lies about books they don’t read, d) chops quotes up to say the opposite of what they mean.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm


http://talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/contents.html
This is an index of all the fake and distorted quotes ID proponents and creationists cut and paste into arguments, followed by the real quotes from the primary sources.
Alan, I know you won’t look, but if you do–ask yourself why people who say they have the truth on their side need to tell these kinds of lies?



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 12:05 am


Theo the Hungarian, some of us darwinistas just can’t sleep at night worrying about the vacuity of some peoples’ minds.



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 12:07 am


Alan (July 26, 2009 6:38 PM): “We know that the arrangement of letters, words and sentences in a book has no naturalistic explanation, not because we haven’t looked hard enough, or because we aren’t smart enough, but because it greatly exceeds the probability resources of the universe by orders of magnitude. Our conclusions are based on a tremendous amount of knowledge about the way the universe works – not ignorance.”
Actually, the reason we know text in a book is the product of intelligence because we know from experience how human beings think. Not because that’s “the way the universe works,” but because that’s the way our own minds work. On the other hand, ID refuses even to speculate on the attributes, limitations, characteristics, or motives of a completely alien intelligence, about whom (or which) we know absolutely nothing.
Design extrapolates human design to DNA by categorizing it as “a digital code.” This may be a clue to prompt investigation, but it is not evidence of anything. Consider: if I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
Meyer admits that analogy itself is not enough. So he claims that DNA goes beyond the mere analogy because both DNA and computer programs have “complexity” and “specificity.”[1] However, this is still an analogy—it’s just taken up two notches: DNA and program code share two more attributes. Meyer’s reasoning is still; based upon inference, not upon evidence.
Meyer has no actual evidence, so let’s follow his logic instead.
Bones are like the structural steel beams of buildings. We know that buildings are designed. But there is more than merely an analogy. Bones and beams are both long and thin. They are both strong, yet somewhat flexible to serve the specified purpose of supporting heavy and variable loads without breaking. In fact, both concentrate their mass at the outside of their cross-sections, in order to retain strength while reducing weight. Ergo, the most likely explanation is that bones are designed.
Blood vessels are like highways. We know that highways are designed. Moreover, they share other attributes essential to their common function of transporting freight from one place to another. Both highway networks and the circulatory system have a small number of wide thoroughfares branching off to smaller highways and ultimately to residential streets. They both contain pores (such as driveways) where goods may enter and leave the system. They are both closed, so that stuff can travel for A to B and back again on trucks or corpuscles. Ergo, the most likely explanation is that the circulatory system is designed.
Kidneys are like water-filtration plants, which we feel deep in our very sphincters are designed. Besides the overall analogy, we draw upon the specified function of each, and the complexity necessary to carry out that function. Both have separate input and output streams, separated by filter layers. Both have holding tanks for the effluvium removed from the stream. Therefore, kidneys are designed. Including mineral zeolite beds that filter groundwater for aquifers. No wait—they’re not designed. Oh well. Close enough.
Do you see the point yet? You can make up as many common attributes as you like for an analogy, but it remains an analogy, and must be supported by actual, positive, physical evidence before ti can be anything more than an interesting possibility.
Horoscopes are predicated on the same sort of logic. Everyone born under the same sign, same phase of the moon, same time of day, are inextricably linked and share their fates. Michael Behe admitted in Kitzmiller that astrology would be a valid science under his proposed definition drawn to include intelligent design. What do you think?
============
[1] “Significantly, the nucleotide sequences in the coding regions of DNA have, by all accounts, a high information content—that is, they are both highly specified and complex, just like meaningful English sentences or functional lines of code in computer software.” Meyer, “DNA and Other Designs”)



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:24 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“I’m sure you know ALL ABOUT statistical mechanics. All I’ve done is take a few courses on it in grad school, but no doubt you know far more about it than the people who study it for a living, right?”
Its pretty clear that you haven’t a clue how statistical mechanics or any other naturalistic mechanism could solve the information problem, even in principle. In our everyday experience its quite clear that no naturalistic process exists which is currently generating new complex specified info. Your reference to statistical mechanics is an attempt to fool people by using complicated sounding terms from physics. A well known phrase which captures this is “trying to baffle with b*** sh**”. You claimed that:
“Information spontaneously arises in nature ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has studied statistical mechanics knows this.”
I am a physics graduate and I know nothing about statistical mechanics being able to generate complex and specified information. I would have remembered this stunning fact if my lecturer had mentioned it. Nor do the entire physics community seem to know what you are on about. If they did, then Meyer wouldn’t have written his book and Darwinists would be queuing up to bash him with serious science, not smoke and mirrors.
On a more charitable note, if you are simply trying to make the claim that science has much to learn and some naturalistic mechanism may turn up to explain how an encyclopaedia Britannica’s worth complex specified info got crammed into our genomes (promissory materialism), then you continue to miss my point. There is nothing in the physical or chemical properties of matter which can account for the ORDERING of DNA bases. Matter has no mind, so we are told. Darwinists have to make the case that there is sufficient time available in the universe for life to arise spontaneously and evolve by relying on purely blind, unguided, chance based mechanism such as RM and NS. The hole in NDE on this point makes the “missing” dark matter look like a pin prick. Once Darwinists can present a serious account of the origins of new information, then you can go around bashing ID all day, but until then, try to understand the claims being made by ID correctly and to be intellectually honest with ordinary people about the gaping holes in Darwinian theory.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:24 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Moving the goalposts. You said, “where’s the research”? I pointed to over 100,000 papers, NOT ONE OF WHICH YOU HAVE READ, NOT ONE OF WHICH YOU HAVE THE EDUCATION TO UNDERSTAND. And you say they don’t count, for some reason you totally made up”
You are using the type of ad hominem arguments typical of a gutter level Darwinists. I don’t blame you, since many of Darwins leading defenders propagate just the same level of argumentation. I hardly need to mention “The God Delusion”. People who have answers don’t need to insult the intelligence of others – desperate people do.
Citing papers you haven’t read, don’t understand and the majority of which have absolutely no relevance to the question at hand is another common Darwinist trick which can be described as throwing citation chaff. Chaff was stuff that pilots would throw into the air during World War II to confuse radar so that the enemy couldn’t see what was going on. And what Darwinists do is cite all kinds of papers, none of which actually address the question being asked and they assume that the person will be so overwhelmed in trying to answer these irrelevant papers that they’ll go away.
A good example of this is that when you ask a Darwinist for evidence that RM and NS can produce irreducible complexity, Darwinists will cite tens of thousands of papers from comparative genomics. Comparing two genomes and explaining how a genome which codes for an irreducibly complex structure such as the flagellum came about in the first place couldn’t be more different, but Leading Darwinists frequently get away with this dishonest trick and their eager followers lap it all up and pass it on uncritically.
Since I don’t have the education to understand your 100 000 papers +, just give me one RELEVANT paper which you have READ and UNDERSTOOD to be addressing the question and I will try my best.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:26 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Show me a fossil of an organism being “designed”. Think of an example of an organism that couldn’t POSSIBLY have been designed. Then, and only then, will ID be something that can be tested by science.”
You are asking me to prove a negative. Sorry it cant be done. Ironically Darwin used the same misleading trick to give his own theory the appearance of testability. He put the burden of proof on his critics to show that certain attributes of living creatures could not possibly be explained by numerous successive slight modifications. We are now asking Darwinists to show that they CAN be. Behe makes a compelling case for the irreducible complexity of biochemical processes and Darwinists respond with a rash of speculations of possible intermediates, none of which are testable. The more things change, the more they stay the same.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:27 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
You have proved here, by your statement, that YOU HAVE NOT READ “Origin of Species”. You read a book by Meyer or Klinghoffer or Dembski or someone like that, who characterized it for you this way, and lied when they did it, as I proved by the examples of their distorting quotes.
I am sitting looking at the very copy which I laboured through as I answer your increasingly desperate posts. I thought mind reading was supposed to be ruled out by materialistic science.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:28 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“There is no “eugenic legacy”.”
Keep saying it enough and you will eventually believe it.
In the mean time check out the British Eugenics Society(The Galton Institute) membership. It’s like a who’s who of Darwinists. Darwins son Leonard for, example, was Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911-1928 (succeeding his half-cousin once removed Francis Galton), and became Honorary President from 1928 until his death. Here is a quote from Leonard for the record:
“It is quite certain that no existing democratic government would go so far as we Eugenicists think right in the direction of limiting the liberty of the subject for the sake of the racial qualities of future generations. (Eugenics Review February 1912)”
Please don’t make me do this to you!



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 7:12 am


Olorin wrote:
“Design extrapolates human design to DNA by categorizing it as “a digital code.” This may be a clue to prompt investigation,”
Yes. Particularly to a design theorist.
Olorin wrote:
“but it is not evidence of anything. Consider: if I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”
Bill Gates compares the DNA code a computer code, only far more advanced than any that intelligent humans have come up with. I don’t remember him calling a tail a leg though.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 7:13 am


Olorin wrote:
“Meyer admits that analogy itself is not enough. So he claims that DNA goes beyond the mere analogy because both DNA and computer programs have “complexity” and “specificity.”[1] However, this is still an analogy—it’s just taken up two notches: DNA and program code share two more attributes. ”
What additional evidence would be required by your exceptionally high standards to convince you that DNA really does function as a code? On the other hand, why not start applying the same critical standards to an honest assessment of the state of Darwinian theory. Bald assertions that “Meyer has no actual evidence” ring increasingly hollow as our understanding between the similarities of the genetic code and man made codes become apparent. Check out this article By Seymour Cray if you still want to nit pick over the closeness of the analogy between computer code to digital code:
http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/montic/cray.htm
Olorin wrote:
“Meyer’s reasoning is still; based upon inference, not upon evidence.”
Correct. Meyers argument is an inference to the best explanation and it is currently the best explanation.



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alan

posted July 27, 2009 at 7:17 am


Olorin wrote:
“Blood vessels are like highways. We know that highways are designed. etc …….
……Do you see the point yet? You can make up as many common attributes as you like for an analogy, but it remains an analogy, and must be supported by actual, positive, physical evidence before ti can be anything more than an interesting possibility.”
Once again. What evidence would you be happy with to convince you of the analogy of living systems to man made designs? It seems no amount! That’s one way to win an argument. Even Dawkins admits that living systems have the overwhelming appearance of being designed for a purpose as if by a master watchmaker. Even he doesn’t quibble over this point. Instead he makes the bald faith based assertion that RM and NS can do all the designing. But scientific explanations are never absolute. They are the best we currently have. Darwinism was originally accepted based on paltry evidence and misleading arguments, but it WAS still accepted, partly because it appeared to be the best explanation available at the time.
Ironically each examples you cite to mock the analogy between living systems and those designed by humans is a nail in the coffin of Darwinian theory, which will one day have to explain them with something more than speculative just so stories.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm


Alan:
In our everyday experience its quite clear that no naturalistic process exists which is currently generating new complex specified info. Your reference to statistical mechanics is an attempt to fool people by using complicated sounding terms from physics.
I accept your challenge. Let’s talk physics, then. We can get to the other stuff later.
You said that “complex specified information” can be found in a string of letters, right? To take an example,
“I WOULD LIKE A BEER”
vs
“X FG RTIP MNHY RFTHD”
The number of ways of taking 27 characters (letters and spaces) and arranging them in a group of 19 is very large: 27^19, or about 1.5*10^27. The number of grammatical English sentences that can be formed from letters and spaces and is 19 characters long is hard to calculate, but it is very very small compared to the number of random ways to put together the letters.
Therefore a 19-character English sentence has complex specified information and shows evidence of design.
Is this right? I will wait for you to agree before I continue.



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm


Alan still really believes that an analogy is in itself evidence for something. He simply will not understand that merely calling something an X is not sufficient to infuse it with every single attribute of an X.[1]
Alan (July 27, 2009 7:12 AM): “Bill Gates compares the DNA code a computer code, only far more advanced than any that intelligent humans have come up with.”
Is Bill Gates an expert in DNA? Does he think DNA is more advanced because it contains more useless junk than even the messiest Microsoft code? If so, I’ll pass on Windows 7.[2]
Alan (July 27, 2009 7:13 AM): “What additional evidence would be required by your exceptionally high standards to convince you that DNA really does function as a code?”
Again you misunderstand the point. I am convinced that DNA functions as a code. The point, however, is that calling DNA a code is not evidence that it actually is a code or that it was designed; “is” is different from “is like.”.[3] Consider David’s favorite, the Torah Code.[4] Was it designed? Did the writers of the Torah place in the Hebrew manuscript a code which forecasts many present-day events? Or is this “code” merely a random artifact, like faces in clouds?[5] The pattern of tea leaves in a cup is a “code” to tasseographers who read them as symbols of names, events, cycles. times, and other portents.[6] SETI got all excited a few years ago upon detecting a series of spaced EM signals. Unfortunately, the “code” turned out to be a pulsar playing a trick on them.
DNA in fact differs in many relevant respects from computer code. Does Microsoft furnish different customers different generations of Windows, each of which accumulates about 120 errors per generation? Does Microsoft sexually reproduce Windows, so that every customer gets two different copies of the code, which are similar but not identical, and which express themselves randomly? Does Microsoft produce more copies than can be sold, then select the ones that have fewer errors and sell only those copies? Does Microsoft … well, you get the idea. DNA is similar to computer codes only if you intentionally disregard a number of DNA’s characteristics. Not incidentally, only if you disregard those differences which make DNA capable of evolving without guidance from an external intelligence.
This is exactly why you need evidence to support any analogy.[7]
==========
[1] For example, calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. Understand now?
[2] Having taken a grad course in statistical mechanics myself, I must agree with your assessment that it is pretty much irrelevant to information in DNA. Having been hip-deep in computers since 1956, however, I must question your assessments of computer code.
[3] Your syllogism is: DNA is a Code. All Codes are designed. Therefore DNA is designed, I’d agree with either one of your premises (depending upon how you define “code”) but not with both.
[4] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_code
[5] Mathematicians have derived many of the Torah Code predictions from Moby Dick, using the same techniques.
[6] For tips on reading the codes, see http://healing.about.com/od/tealeafreading/ht/readtealeaves.htm
[7] Analogies are true without evidence only in religion. For example, interrupting the operation of an electrical circuit breaks the Sabbath. Wha??? Well, making a fire breaks the Sabbath. Interrupting a circuit might create a spark. A spark is LIKE a fire. Ergo,….
Another difference from religion is that revelations from authorities have no weight. God gets to determine whether spitting on the sidewalk is a sin, but Bill Gates does not get to determine whether DNA is designed.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm


Olorin: the full Bill Gates quote is
We have all had teachers who made a difference. I had a great chemistry teacher in high school who made his subject immensely interesting. Chemistry seemed enthralling compared to biology. In biology, we were dissecting frogs – just hacking them to pieces, actually – and our teacher didn’t explain why. My chemistry teacher sensationalized his subject a bit and promised that it would help us understand the world. When I was in my twenties, I read James D. Watson’s “Molecular Biology of the Gene” and decided my high school experience had misled me. The understanding of life is a great subject. Biological information is the most important information we can discover, because over the next several decades it will revolutionize medicine. Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created. It seems amazing to me now that one great teacher made chemistry endlessly fascinating while I found biology totally boring.
From the full quote we learn a) that Bill Gates is talking about the importance of teachers, not about ID vs evolution, and b) he didn’t pay attention in high school, because the teacher was boring–so why is he an authority on DNA.
Nice job on the quote distortion, Alan. You didn’t bother to check the primary source, so the page you cut and pasted from made you a sucker.
Let’s get back to physics. Do you accept my description of complex specified information?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:29 pm


@Olorin:
Having taken a grad course in statistical mechanics myself, I must agree with your assessment that it is pretty much irrelevant to information in DNA.
If you let me and Alan thrash this out, I think I can demonstrate the connection. :) But be patient.
I had stat mech as part of general thermodynamics as an undergrad and a grad student, but until I took a biophysics (heavy on stat mech and biochemistry) course I didn’t get the applications to biological systems. I’m guessing your stat mech education was like mine: lots of Einstein crystal stuff, and bosons and Fermi gas and whatnot, canonical and grand canonical formalism, partition functions…. They didn’t talk about biology.
But the point of taking a physics class is not to learn every possible application–the point is to develop the tools to apply the physics. There is a lot about biology that is explained by physics–for example, why cells are not the size of basketballs.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm


Granting that what Bill Gates said is irrelevant beyond the tendency of various types of creationists to use fallacies (argumentum ad verecundiam in this case), I always think it’s amazing that the atheist Bill Gates is thought to be somehow supportive of ID.
I suppose it’s the old “even an atheist says” and still won’t believe in god, for some imaginary reason. Nevertheless, if Gates is an authority on ID, why isn’t he an authority on the non-existence of god, and the fact that at least no divine source for DNA exists?
Of course all “sources” in ID are checked via bias, by virtually any IDist/creationist at all. As in, Meyer’s thrown at us as if somehow he provides the legitimate answers that no IDist has yet supplied, including Meyer in his many writings. And the fact that creationists/IDists almost never have any meaningful knowledge of the specifics of evolution (Behe seems only to know enough to mess things up, and Wells writes as if he barely knows high school biology, despite his Ph.D) is irrelevant to their tremendous expertise.
So sure, an atheist computer programmer is relevant–only insofar as he agrees with ID. If it passes the biases of the IDist, it’s true, which also explains their “science”.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 8:29 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote
“1.5*10^27. The number of grammatical English sentences that can be formed from letters and spaces and is 19 characters long is hard to calculate, but it is very very small compared to the number of random ways to put together the letters. Therefore a 19-character English sentence has complex specified information and shows evidence of design.”
“That seems fine. The number of specified letters is sufficient for us to infer that they were intelligently arranged, although the probabilities are still within a range which could conceivably be explained by chance.”



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm


Olorin wrote
“Alan still really believes that an analogy is in itself evidence for something. He simply will not understand that merely calling something an X is not sufficient to infuse it with every single attribute of an X.[1]”
Hume argued against the analogy between living systems and man made technology. Since his time, the analogy has become immeasurably stronger. There will always be some stalwarts who continue to push this his line, but it is ringing increasingly hollow.
Empirical science is a pragmatic enterprise. Hair splitting philosophical arguments have their place, but they are secondary to finding the best available framework from which to interpret the data. We do not have to prove that X is designed. Only that it is a BETTER explanation than the current Darwinian one. People repeatedly badgered Newton about the concept of action at a distance, trying to speculate on the mechanism causing force to be transmitted. He simply argued that the proof was in the pudding. Look at the equations and judge them by their fit to the evidence. Maxwell erected the theory of electromagnetism assisted by a conception of cogs and wheels. Although the “actual” mechanism turned out not to be inaccessible, his magnificent equations stand on their own as a testament to what RM and NS can evolve (heavy irony).



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm


Olorin wrote
“Is Bill Gates an expert in DNA? Does he think DNA is more advanced because it contains more useless junk than even the messiest Microsoft code? If so, I’ll pass on Windows 7.[2]”
Bill Gates is an expert in recognising intelligently designed codes, so when he sees one in DNA….
Careful Olorin. Darwinists are steadily rowing back from the original extravagant claims about most of the DNA being junk. Believing that DNA which is currently unexplained is junk makes sense from a Darwinian perspective, but is seen as science stopping by ID proponents. The junk DNA paradigm is starting to be seen as an argument from ignorance. You would know this if you were following the debate. Junk DNA is going to be another of those famous failed Darwinian predictions. Check out this site for a detailed list of faulty Darwinian predictions which were / are being quietly jettisoned.
http://www.darwinspredictions.com/



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 8:35 pm


Olorin wrote
“SETI got all excited a few years ago upon detecting a series of spaced EM signals. Unfortunately, the “code” turned out to be a pulsar playing a trick on them.”
This says more about the over eagerness of the SETI researchers to find positive results than any failing of ID. People involved in such a project are likely to be fanatically motivated and may jump to unwarranted conclusions. Almost certainly, if the same signal had been examined by ID proponents, it would have been logged as having low complexity and low specificity and any design inference would be labelled as weak. As it was, the SETI researchers (who are working under a design framework) self corrected. ID is open to revising any of it’s design inferences if, say, a suitable naturalistic explanation could be found. No design inference in science is 100% guaranteed, but there again nothing in science is. If on the other hand, SETI had received an ordered set of pulses corresponding to the first 1000 prime numbers, then we could be as sure as we are of anything in science that it had an intelligent source, without knowing the nature or motives of the intelligence.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm


Alan: That seems fine. The number of specified letters is sufficient for us to infer that they were intelligently arranged, although the probabilities are still within a range which could conceivably be explained by chance.
You don’t actually know that because we didn’t carry out the calculation… but we could use longer strings, like a string of 500 letters, and then our standard would be an English paragraph.
I am asking you, for the sake of argument, to agree that:
A string of letters of SOME length N that forms a recognizable English sentence is an example of complex specified information, and that we know it is complex specified information because
We can, IN PRINICPLE, prove that the number of recognizable English sentences of length N are so tiny, compared to the number of possible arrangements of letters, that the odds of it being produced at random are negligible.
Do you agree, or disagree, or do you want to change the definition of “complex specifeid information” that I present here?



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm


Olorin wrote
“DNA in fact differs in many relevant respects from computer code.”
Being analogous doesn’t mean being identical. It is conceivable that codes could be written to the specifications you gave, even if the are not current Microsoft products. If we ever produce a code which can simulate living systems accurately, who knows what it will look like. Well I could hazard a guess that it will be pretty much like the DNA code. It may be too soon to convince the hard-line sceptics, but time will tell. My prediction from a design perspective is that as we uncover ever deeper levels of specified information within the genetic code, the analogy will become closer and closer and we will start to learn from it when producing our own codes and programs.
If I were a Darwinist right now, I would pray that we cease to understand anything farther about how the code translates proteins into cells and whole organism. Each new discovery is likely to be extremely high tech and to be a further nail in the coffin of Darwinian naturalism. Each discovery is eating away at the Darwinists wiggle room. Already the realisation that the same genes can code for entirely different structures in different organisms has made a nonsense of the claim that we solely the product of our genes.
Please tell me for clarity, what would it take for you yo accept that the DNA code really is a code?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:37 pm


Please tell me for clarity, what would it take for you yo accept that the DNA code really is a code?
Nobody disputes it’s a code, Alan; don’t attack a strawman. We dispute that a code NECESSARILY must be produced by an intelligence; but we agree that intelligence produces codes all the time. Only if you alter the definition of “code” so that codes MUST ALWAYS be produced intelligences, would we argue that DNA is not a “code”.
DNA codes for proteins. Everyone knows that. What is disputed is if that code necessarily must have been produced by an intelligence.
Do you accept my formulation of what CSI is?



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:37 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“From the full quote we learn a) that Bill Gates is talking about the importance of teachers, not about ID vs evolution, and b) he didn’t pay attention in high school, because the teacher was boring–so why is he an authority on DNA.
Nice job on the quote distortion, Alan. You didn’t bother to check the primary source, so the page you cut and pasted from made you a sucker.”
Gates doesn’t need to be an expert on DNA to recognise it as a code. I believe that he knows enough to make the call, given that programmers and computer manufacturers have been examining the possibilities of biological computers for decades. All your comment does is highlight the extreme sensitivity of Darwinists (especially those that slavishly haunt websites such as talk origins) to what they call quote mining. The problem is not that Darwinists are continually being misrepresented (although that may occasionally happen), but that Darwinists have no firm structure to their theory and this inevitably leads to thousands of embarrassing contradictions.
My use of the quote was correct and the wider subject of the importance of good teachers irrelevant. If you were keen on finding the truth, you would be trying to discern HIS (i.e. Bill Gates) level of understanding of the DNA code. Not presuming that he is ignorant to win an argument. Your strategy is answer first, justification second.



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:41 pm


Gabriel Hanna (July 27, 2009 6:23 PM), thanks for the Full Bill Gates quotation with context. Yet another example of creationist quote mining.
Their basic problem is a conflation the scientific paradigm with the religious paradigm. In theology, it makes sense to appeal to authority, to analogy, and to custom; in science, the only appeal is to evidence.
Also, we must realize that the Bible is the ultimate quote mine. Whatever you may believe on whatever topic, you can find something in the Bible that can be fashioned into a fit. The classic example is the 19thC preacher who claimed that the then popular woman’s hhirstyle, the top knot, was evil. He announced a sermon on Matthew 24:17, “Top knot come down.” In context of course, this verse reads: “Let him which is on the house top not come down to take any thing out of his house.”



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:45 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“Alan: That seems fine. The number of specified letters is sufficient for us to infer that they were intelligently arranged, although the probabilities are still within a range which could conceivably be explained by chance.
You don’t actually know that because we didn’t carry out the calculation…”
I said that 19 characters of specified info could conceivably arise by chance given the available probability resources of the universe and we did do the calculation. BTW, I suspect that from your cloak and dagger approach to this question that you are copying it from somewhere. Why don’t you just post me the link so that I can uncover the fallacy in my own time?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:46 pm


My use of the quote was correct and the wider subject of the importance of good teachers irrelevant. If you were keen on finding the truth, you would be trying to discern HIS (i.e. Bill Gates) level of understanding of the DNA code. Not presuming that he is ignorant to win an argument. Your strategy is answer first, justification second.
No, the quote is distorted. In the full quote, Bill Gates says he didn’t learn anything in school about the complexity of DNA; all he learned came from Watson’s book, who is a scientist who rejects ID; and that DNA is LIKE a computer code, which no one denies.
What is denied is whether that code was DESIGNED. Bill Gates never addressed that. He didn’t say what he meant by that exactly. Computer codes are designed, true, except the ones generated by evolutionary algorithms, but they are also made of ones and zeros. Surely Gates wasn’t saying that DNA was programmed by humans as a set of ones and zeros? You are trying to to make too much stew from one oyster.
Shall we stick to physics for the moment?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm


Alan:I said that 19 characters of specified info could conceivably arise by chance given the available probability resources of the universe and we did do the calculation. BTW, I suspect that from your cloak and dagger approach to this question that you are copying it from somewhere. Why don’t you just post me the link so that I can uncover the fallacy in my own time?
Alan, I thought we were discussing something here. Do you want to discuss it, or accuse me of things?
Am I stating the definition of CSI correctly? If I’m getting it wrong, how we can we discuss it? Just tell me if you accept what I said, and then I can go to the next part of the argument.
One step at a time, so everyone can follow along. What’s wrong with that?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 9:56 pm


Alan: I’ll repeat. Can we just stick to the physics for a moment? One thing at a time, all right?
Tell me if this is right, and if not why not?
A string of letters of SOME length N that forms a recognizable English sentence is an example of complex specified information, and that we know it is complex specified information because
We can, IN PRINICPLE, prove that the number of recognizable English sentences of length N are so tiny, compared to the number of possible arrangements of letters, that the odds of it being produced at random are negligible.
Do you agree, or disagree, or do you want to change the definition of “complex specified information” that I present here?



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm


Olorin
July 27, 2009 9:41 PM
“Gabriel Hanna (July 27, 2009 6:23 PM), thanks for the Full Bill Gates quotation with context. Yet another example of creationist quote mining.”
You started of well Olorin, but you are starting to fall by the wayside by winging (unjustifiably as I have just explained to GH) about quote mining and trying to bring the bible into the discussion as a diversion. This is what Darwinists inevitably do when they are running out of ideas to attack ID with or when they are attempting to distract from the problems with Darwinism.
BTW please try to persuade GH to stop kidding herself about her statistical mechanics hypothesis. Her original claim that:
“Information spontaneously arises in nature ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has studied statistical mechanics knows this.”
is nonsense on a number of levels. If she refuses to listen, then tell her to get a relevant PhD and argue her case against her peers.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm


BTW please try to persuade GH to stop kidding herself about her statistical mechanics hypothesis. Her original claim that:
“Information spontaneously arises in nature ALL THE TIME. Anyone who has studied statistical mechanics knows this.”
is nonsense on a number of levels. If she refuses to listen, then tell her to get a relevant PhD and argue her case against her peers.

Alan, my Ph. D. will be in condensed matter physics, and it will be awarded in December. My master’s was done in atomic physics. I am also male. I’m at Washington State University.
Do you want to call names, call my credentials into question some more, or do you actually want to discuss the issue?
Remember that others are reading this and will judge between us. I am trying honestly to understand your point of view so that I may reason from it, clrealy and concisely, in front of everyone.
Do you wish to participate, or not? If so, please tell me if I have stated what CSI is correctly.



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“A string of letters of SOME length N that forms a recognizable English sentence is an example of complex specified information, and that we know it is complex specified information because
we can, IN PRINICPLE, prove that the number of recognizable English sentences of length N are so tiny, compared to the number of possible arrangements of letters.”
While it is true that for a given N, the number of meaningful sentences is tiny in comparison to the complete set of possibilities, it is by considering the length of the specified sequence that we make an inference to design. When the improbability of the sentence formed exceeds the available probability resources of the universe (estimated to be 1/10^150), then we can reliably infer design. This is Dembski’s figure and is of course open to debate. This would put even simple proteins which consist of specified arrangements of, say, 250 amino acids (of 20 varieties) into meaningful proteins. Darwinist may not like this conclusion and may (wedded as they are to naturalism) assume that there must be a naturalistic explanation, but the burden of proof is now on them to find such an explanation.
TBC



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alan niven

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm


Sorry I meant
This would put even simple proteins which consist of specified arrangements of, say, 250 amino acids (of 20 varieties) into meaningful proteins out of the reach of undirected mechanisms.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:30 pm


Alan, you’re jumping way ahead. My poor physics Ph. D. student brain can’t keep up with you.
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that “complex specified information” exists when you have a subset like “the set of all English sentences”, which is very small compared to a larger set, like “all possible random combinations of English letters that are the same length as a given English sentence”. Call this ratio x. If x is smaller than some number A, we say that a member of the subset has “complex specified information”. The smaller we make A the more certain this is. And if we have “complex specified information”, we know we have design. Is that right?
Let’s make sure we are on the same page before we go ahead.



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:36 pm


A problem with our discussion concerns the meaning of the word “code.” Alan takes it to require a human source, by definition. Gabriel and I impute no such requirement.
Most sources at least imply human origin in their definitions. AHD is typical: ” code n.: ….. 3.a. A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages. b. A system of symbols, letters, or words given certain arbitrary meanings, used for transmitting messages requiring secrecy or brevity. 4. A system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer. 5. Genetics. The genetic code.
So we either need a new term, or to understand the word in sense 5 of AHD, which does not on its face imply human origin. I might suggest “map,” because it is a representation of something else—codons map into amino acids. The nearest AHD definitions are: “map n., … 2. Mathematics. The correspondence of one or more elements in one set to one or more elements in the same set or another set….. 4. Genetics. A genetic map.” (#4 would create ambiguity, since it already has a meaning in the same field.
One of the difficulties of talking with creationists is their imputation of agency to everything. For example, a scientist would say “the purpose of the heart is to pump blood,” and mean by this merely that the heart pumps blood—that’s what it does. Creationists, however, add the mental reservation of agency—that something or someone designed the heart to pump blood, specified in advance that there will be hearts, and they will pump blood.
I don’t think we can make any further progress here until we are all using the word “code” in the same way.
============
Having worked in the field of pattern recognition for a decade, I can tell you the CAPTCHA system that this blog uses is ridiculous. It is hard for humans to read, yet fairly easy for computer algorithms. Especially (ahem) evolutionary algorithms. Although IBM tended not to use evolutionary methods, because they learned too quickly—after a while service people couldn’t even recognize the code, and sometimes the code would take off in unpredictable tangents. Sounds like the real thing, doesn’t it?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:39 pm


For example:
“I AM HAPPY”: short string, relatively low CSI, somewhat certain of design.
“WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE AGAIN WHAT HAS BEEN DONE WILL BE DONE AGAIN THERE IS NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN”: much longer string, much higher CSI, much more certain of design.
Have I got it?



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm


A problem with our discussion concerns the meaning of the word “code.” Alan takes it to require a human source, by definition. Gabriel and I impute no such requirement.
Most sources at least imply human origin in their definitions. AHD is typical: ” code n.: ….. 3.a. A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages. b. A system of symbols, letters, or words given certain arbitrary meanings, used for transmitting messages requiring secrecy or brevity. 4. A system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer. 5. Genetics. The genetic code.
So we either need a new term, or to understand the word in sense 5 of AHD, which does not on its face imply human origin. I might suggest “map,” because it is a representation of something else—codons map into amino acids. The nearest AHD definitions are: “map n., … 2. Mathematics. The correspondence of one or more elements in one set to one or more elements in the same set or another set….. 4. Genetics. A genetic map.” (#4 would create ambiguity, since it already has a meaning in the same field.
One of the difficulties of talking with creationists is their imputation of agency to everything. For example, a scientist would say “the purpose of the heart is to pump blood,” and mean by this merely that the heart pumps blood—that’s what it does. Creationists, however, add the mental reservation of agency—that something or someone designed the heart to pump blood, specified in advance that there will be hearts, and they will pump blood.
I don’t think we can make any further progress here until we are all using the word “code” in the same way.
============
And, having worked in the field of pattern recognition for a decade, the CAPCHA system thqat this blog uses is ridiculous. It is hard for humans to read, yet fairly easy for computer algorithms. Especially (ahem) evolutionary algorithms. Although IBM tended not to use evolutionary methods, because they learned too quickly—after a while service people couldn’t even recognize the code, and sometimes the code would take off in unpredictable tangents. Sounds like the real thing, doesn’t it?



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Olorin

posted July 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm


alan niven (July 27, 2009 10:01 PM): “you are starting to fall by the wayside by winging (unjustifiably as I have just explained to GH) about quote mining”
The context of the Gates quote was not necessary to my argument. However, it was depressing to find that you misrepresented the quote as something that it manifestly was not. If this is whinging, so be it.
But you’re right that we should not become distracted by small dishonesties. Especially when there are so many large ones to deal with.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 27, 2009 at 11:43 pm


Alan:
For example:
“I AM HAPPY”: short string, relatively low CSI, somewhat certain of design.
“WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE AGAIN WHAT HAS BEEN DONE WILL BE DONE AGAIN THERE IS NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN”: much longer string, much higher CSI, much more certain of design.
Have I got it?
If so, let me know and we can continue.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 7:55 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote”
“I AM HAPPY”: short string, relatively low CSI, somewhat certain of design.
“WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE AGAIN WHAT HAS BEEN DONE WILL BE DONE AGAIN THERE IS NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN”: much longer string, much higher CSI, much more certain of design.
Have I got it?”
That seems fine. I am not ignoring comments, but will need to come back to you later. Please bear with me.



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Your Name

posted July 28, 2009 at 3:03 pm


Gabriel: “‘I AM HAPPY’: short string, relatively low CSI, somewhat certain of design.
“‘WHAT HAS BEEN WILL BE AGAIN WHAT HAS BEEN DONE WILL BE DONE AGAIN THERE IS NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN’: much longer string, much higher CSI, much more certain of design.
“Have I got it?”
It looks to me like you’ve got it. The short string is one of about 206 trillion possible 10-position combinations of the 26 letters of the alphabet and a space, and since the string exhibits specified complexity, a highly confident inference to design is warranted.
The second string represents one of some 4 x 10^144 possible 101-position combinations of letters and spaces, and since it also exhibits specified complexity, a near-certain inference to design is warranted.
Chance and necessity (or the two in combination) are not credible explanations for either string of letters.



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Jim

posted July 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm


Oops. “Your name” in the previous message was me.



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Olorin

posted July 28, 2009 at 5:28 pm


Sorry, Gabriel, but you and Alan are off on a tangent, and whoever wins the probability debate is irrelevant to whether DNA is “designed”.
Alan admits that the analogy between DNA and computer code is an inference, but he seems to deny that inferences must be supported by evidence. Or, rather he believes that piling on more and more similarities in the analogy IS evidence.[0] Sorry, it’s just not.
But here lies the creationists’ problem. What would even constitute evidence for intelligent design of DNA? More basically, this goes to the question of whether ID is a theory that can be tested, and that can possibly make predictions within its own paradigm.
For example, evidence of DNA evolution can ast least theoretically be found in experiments and simulations showing how a replicator could have evolved under conditions of the prebiotic Earth. Hundreds of such investigations have in fact been performed over almost a century. Each one builds upon previous work; although no eureka moment has yet occurred, evidence of several pathways continues to accumulate.[1]
On the other hand, ID proponents have relied only upon logical inferences alone, and have failed even to conduct any investigation as to when, where, and how the DNA code might have been designed. Where are the experiment designs? Where are the simulations? Where are the field trips, the explorations?
I suggest that the resistance of ID to research is that they have no idea what kind of evidence could possibly demonstrate (or falsify) design..[2] It’s not so much that they are reluctant to embark on the journey, but that they lack a compass and a map to the promised land.
If no evidence is forthcoming, or even possible, then ID is forced to rely upon the analogy that an unknown intelligence designs DNA as Microsofties design computer programs. You can pile construct on top of ad-hoc construct, complexity on top of specification, but supporting evidence remains out of reach.
Meanwhile, evolution and abiogenesis researchers continue to investigate, publish, and critique actual evidence as to how early replicators might have evolved by the requisite small steps.
Go thou and do likewise. But no more endless analogies, logical inferences, and baseless best explanations, please..
================
[0] Complex specified information is, first of all, defined loosely and equivocally by the ID movement. The “complex” part means that we are at present ignorant as to how something happened. The “specified” part mens that it is like something that hominids have designed. Anyone who thinks human design is some kind of universal principle should read Michael Crichton’s “Andromeda Strain” and Frank Schatzing’s “Der Schwarme” (now published in English as “The Swarm).
[1] Including early stages that seem to require no replicator code at all, replication being driven by osmotic pressure and known lipid chemistry alone. Then some small steps: autocatalytic enzymes, micropeptides, RNAzymes, and so on.
[2] This is why the claims they do make for “evidence’ are based based upon limitations of evolution. That is, they push the false dichotomy that any observations or experiments against evolution constitutes positive evidence for design;



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 6:16 pm


Glen Davidson
“Granting that what Bill Gates said is irrelevant beyond the tendency of various types of creationists to use fallacies (argumentum ad verecundiam in this case), I always think it’s amazing that the atheist Bill Gates is thought to be somehow supportive of ID.”
You should apply the “principle of charity” to peoples arguments, rather than take cheap pot shots and perpetrate the ridiculous myth that there is any connection between being an atheist and thinking logically and critically. To show how idiotically behind the times you are check out
http://bradleymonton.wordpress.com/
for info on the Bradley Monton’s new book: “Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design”
Assuming that Bill Gates really is an atheist (given that just about everything else in your post was wrong) You have only proven that even an atheist like Gates can accept the premises of ID, and that ID does not rest on religious premises.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 6:44 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Nobody disputes it’s a code, Alan; don’t attack a strawman. We dispute that a code NECESSARILY must be produced by an intelligence; but we agree that intelligence produces codes all the time. Only if you alter the definition of “code” so that codes MUST ALWAYS be produced intelligences, would we argue that DNA is not a “code”.”
ID does not argue that “a code NECESSARILY must be produced by an intelligence”. ID argues that there is currently know evidence that any undirected naturalistic processes can generate codes such as that contained in DNA. If naturalistic mechanism can be shown to generate codes then ID STANDS REFUTED. For all we know about the way the world works, naturalistic processes have trouble generating even paltry amounts of complex specified information (CSI), let alone complex codes. This claim is not an argument from ignorance, but one supported by a vast body of knowledge about how natural processes work.
ID does not say that “a code NECESSARILY must be produced by an intelligence”. ID makes the relatively modest claim that the DNA code is BEST EXPLAINED by postulating intelligence. This claim is not based on ignorance, but on our uniform experience of how codes appear today i.e. universally as a result of intelligent activity. Intelligence is the only cause sufficient to explain how codes come about today, so maybe the DNA code had an intelligent origin. Comparing competing hypothesis and favouring those which are known by our every day experience to have the ability to produce the effect in question is called “the method of multiple competing hypotheses) or “inference to the best explanation”. ID makes an inference, it does not produce a cast iron, guaranteed irrefutable, argument. This is the method of reasoning which Darwin used when dealing with historical sciences which make claims about unrepeatable events which happened in the distant past.This method was pioneered by Darwin and others, who insisted that a judgement can be made only by balancing and comparing competing arguments.
I believe that ID makes a compelling case, but it will always be possible to deny that the genetic code was produced intelligently, no matter how much evidence is heaped in its favour. It will always be possible to hope that one day a naturalistic alternative can be found. The crucial point is that until that day, Darwinists should bear the burden of proof and recognise that believing in a naturalistic solution is an article of faith. The idea that naturalism is sufficient to provide a complete explanation for everything was always an article of faith. ID is doing the scientific community a great service by critically exploring the limits of naturalism in a way that would never have been done by those working within the paradigm.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm


Olorin
“Alan admits that the analogy between DNA and computer code is an inference, but he seems to deny that inferences must be supported by evidence. Or, rather he believes that piling on more and more similarities in the analogy IS evidence.[0] Sorry, it’s just not.”
I have repeatedly asked you to tell me WHAT WOULD BE SUFFICIENT FOR YOU TO ACCEPT THE ANALOGY BETWEEN DNA AND COMPUTER CODE. Your refusal to do so seems like an attempt to avoid possible future refutation and reveals your philosophical biasses. “No amount of similarity” would probably be your answer to the above question. As I have said before, your argument is mainly philosophical, and is certain to be ignored if ID is accepted a BETTER explanation than Darwinism. Even with our present understanding of the stunning similarity between DNA and intelligently designed codes, your stance is likely to be seen (with hind sight) as unreasonable quibbling. While I recognise the importance of philosophical disputes at times of paradigm crisis and during paradigm shifts, they usually fade into the sunset once the scientific community has chosen its new course.
Olorin wrote:
“But here lies the creationists’ problem. What would even constitute evidence for intelligent design of DNA? More basically, this goes to the question of whether ID is a theory that can be tested, and that can possibly make predictions within its own paradigm.”
Now remember what this threads about Olorin -
David Klinghoffer wrote:
“Rather than go on grousing about how there’s no evidence for intelligent design, it’s not science, and so on and so forth, here’s my challenge to you personally. Read Stephen C. Meyer’s new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne). He lays out a MASSIVE EVIDENTIARY CASE.” (emphasis mine)
I think you need to take up the challenge.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 8:06 pm


Olorin wrote
“whoever wins the probability debate is irrelevant to whether DNA is “designed”.
I am trying hard to look at this assertion as charitably as possible. Please clarify.
Olorin wrote
“For example, evidence of DNA evolution can ast least theoretically be found in experiments and simulations showing how a replicator could have evolved under conditions of the prebiotic Earth.”
Origin of life research is widely acknowledged to be in a state of paradigm crisis. There are a number of schools of thought and they are busy destroying each others credibility. Even Dawkins admits frankly that nobody knows how life began. The more we learn about the complexity of even the simplest lifeforms, the further we are getting from the answer. When atheist scientists of the calibre of Crick and Hoyle postulate theories of pan-spermia, alarm bells ring.
Failing to find any evidence of how life really did evolve, Darwinists have turned to computer simulations. These simulations can be attacked on several levels. ID proponents point out that computer simulations of evolution which work INVARIABLY HAVE INFORMATION SMUGGLED IN, often in the for of a target. This introduces in teleology in what is supposed to be a blind unguided process. The classic example is Dawkins “weasel theorem”. He decides on which mutation to select by referring to the target phrase “me thinks it is a weasel”. Antony Flew called this patently fallacious argument “rubbish”, although it has fooled a great deal of intelligent (though uncritical) people.
Not only has Dawkins introduced purpose to a purposeless process, but in his simulations of evolving biomorphs, he puts himself in place of The Deity by making the selections. As a general rule, these simulations fail when they accurately simulate RM and NS and work when they don’t
This is one of the avenues of research which ID proponents are currently engaged in. You wanted to see some ID research so:
http://www.evoinfo.org/Publications/Life.html
Olorin wrote:
“Hundreds of such investigations have in fact been performed over almost a century. Each one builds upon previous work; although no eureka moment has yet occurred, evidence of several pathways continues to accumulate.”
Yes there are towers of faulty assumptions erected on towers of faulty assumptions. I can explain some of the major roadblocks to origin of life research if you like. Better still, take up Meyers challenge as I know he focuses a lot on this area and will give a good account of it.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm


Olorin wrote:
“On the other hand, ID proponents have relied only upon logical inferences alone, and have failed even to conduct any investigation as to when, where, and how the DNA code might have been designed. Where are the experiment designs? Where are the simulations? Where are the field trips, the explorations?”
Without conceding any of your assertions, here’s one answer. I would like to ask you – where are the funds? Do you seriously doubt that ID proponents are currently lacking in potential research avenues? Perhaps Darwinists should call their bluff by providing some funding from their own considerable budgets. Why don’t they give ID proponents a chance, if they are so sure that ID cannot generate meaningful research. Then they could poke fun at the “silly ID attempts to do real science”. Why not give Behe funding to see if RM an NS mechanism can originate novel biochemical processes, since the darwinists don’t seem to want to follow this obvious avenue for some reason. Besides, the fact that Darwinism still commands the lions share of the public purse is proof enough that even a bankrupt paradigm can generate new research avenues.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm


Olorin wrote:
“On the other hand, ID proponents have relied only upon logical inferences alone, and have failed even to conduct any investigation as to when, where, and how the DNA code might have been designed. Where are the experiment designs? Where are the simulations? Where are the field trips, the explorations?”
Without conceding any of your assertions, here’s one answer. I would like to ask you – where are the funds? Do you seriously doubt that ID proponents are currently lacking in potential research avenues? Perhaps Darwinists should call their bluff by providing some funding from their own considerable budgets. Why don’t they give ID proponents a chance, if they are so sure that ID cannot generate meaningful research. Then they could poke fun at the “silly ID attempts to do real science”. Why not give Behe funding to see if RM an NS mechanism can originate novel biochemical processes, since the darwinists don’t seem to want to follow this obvious avenue for some reason. Besides, the fact that Darwinism still commands the lions share of the public purse is proof enough that even a bankrupt paradigm can generate new research avenues.



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alan

posted July 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm


To Mr Gabriel Hanna.
I replied to your last post at:
alan
July 28, 2009 6:44 PM
I am from the UK.



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Olorin

posted July 28, 2009 at 11:50 pm


alan niven (July 27, 2009 10:01 PM): “you are starting to fall by the wayside by winging (unjustifiably as I have just explained to GH) about quote mining”
The context of the Gates quote was not necessary to my argument. However, it was depressing to find that you misrepresented the quote as something that it manifestly was not. If this is whinging, so be it.
But you’re right that we should not become distracted by small dishonesties. Especially when there are so many large ones to deal with.



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Olorin

posted July 28, 2009 at 11:52 pm


Sorry, previous comment was a duplicate



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Olorin

posted July 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm


Alan, just so we are oriented aright, evolution has 150 years of research, with mechanisms of how it happens, tested mathematical models, converging evidence from paleontology, biogeography,[1] paleontology, genetics, and embryology. 1,750 reviewed papers per year investigate, expand, and modify evolutionary theory—and even overthrow some parts, when the evidence warrants. .
On the other hand, design, which has been around since Paley’s natural theology, has produced zippo, rien, nada, nichts, nichevo, walang, nients, a’ole. Therefore, the burden is on ID to go forward with something—anything. And that’s what the proponents of new theories do. Boltzmann in atomic theory (30 years), Wegener in continental drift (50 years)—they all did it. And please, please don’t play the discrimination card yet again. Where is the DI’s Biologic Institute? They seem to have plenty of money to lobby legislatures. Where is Biola University, with its endless funds for hosting conferences? Where is Liberty, and Bob Jones, with their biology departments? The DI’s Complexity journal has languished for 4 years now without a single new paper, even with captive reviewers. What original research do we see in AiG’s Answers journal? CRSQ? Journal of Creation?
No, the problem is not lack of funds. It’s not even lack of research. The problem is that ID has no idea even where to start, because it has no theory or model that can be tested within its own paradigm.[2]
Alan (July 28, 2009 7:18 PM): “I have repeatedly asked you to tell me WHAT WOULD BE SUFFICIENT FOR YOU TO ACCEPT THE ANALOGY BETWEEN DNA AND COMPUTER CODE.”
And I have repeatedly answered that the no analogy is good enough, that you must present evidence independent of the analogy itself. I don’t tell you what kind of evidence because, as noted several times previously, I DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE WOULD SHOW DESIGN, But that’s your responsibility as proponent of a theory which contravenes not only a universally accepted foundational[3] theory in biology, but which, by invoking an ad-hoc intelligence, lies outside every other scientific theory as well.
I must confess, Alan, that I’ve been holding back.. My problem in chief with design is not lack of evidence. By explaining everything, design explains nothing. This is what lies at the heart of the prediction problem. If “it was designed that way” is the answer to every question, why should we even ask questions of the world around us?
Evolution says that chimps and humans are related—yet they have different numbers of chromosomes. Strange. Let’s go look for a fused chromosome pair. Based solely upon the evolutionary relationship, the previously unknown fused pair was found. Design says chimps and humans were created independently. This tells us … erm …
Based upon a presumed evolutionary relationship between lobe-fin fish and tetrapods, there should be an intermediate with a fin that has a wrist—and its fossil, if there is one, should be 360-390My old, and should be found in a warm, brackish estuary. So Neil Shubin dug for 3 years and found it. Design asserts that fish and tetrapods are entirely separate creations. So we might as well stay home in our warm labs, rather than freezing our buns off at Ellesmere Island.
Design predicts that all “junk DNA” will have purpose, because good designs don’t strew feckless parts about. Design tells us that broken parts of old citric-acid genes,[4] and genes for making embryonic sacs for egg yolks that we don’t have, do not disprove design, because the designs need not be good. Design can predict anything, because ID tells us over and over again that the identity and motives of the Designed are not only unknown, but are by definition beyond the pale of science.
If the proximate goal of research is to find out what further questions to investigate, what does design tell us? The answer to every question is the same, and we learn nothing. If the distal goal of science is to control the world around us for our benefit, how does design allow us to control the designer?[5]
In short, intelligent design is vacuous. This is the fundamental objection.
=================
[1] Strangely, creationists have never even tried to deny this line of evidence. They merely ignore it.
[2] “I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.” – Phillip Johnson (Michelangelo d’Agostino, “In the Matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley,” in Berkeley Science Review, Spring 2006, p. 31, at 33)
[3] That is, a theory that ties the entire field together, as the periodic table does in chemistry.
[4] Pseudogenes of one sort or another form a large minority of the human genome. I include ERVs, SINES, LINES, and non-functional transposon in this definition. (Recently, a widely found NF transposon was ambled back to its original state by an evolutionary algorithm. The result was a functional transposon, at age ~300My. Who woulda thought? Certainly not a design researcher.)
[5] There is an ancient name for such manipulation: Sorcery. It was punished harshly.



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Your Name

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:06 am


Actually ID proponents have addressed biogeography.
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/05/biogeography_where_darwin_does.html



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Your Name

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:11 am


And according to this:
http://www.psrast.org/junkdna.htm
Junk DNA isn’t really junk. If some of the junk has a purpose, maybe they all have a purpose.



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Your Name

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:15 am


And if two systems are similar in structure and function, like two cars, then I would expect their designs to be similar. If humans and chimps are similar anatomically, then their genes should be similar also. Adn I understand that the fused chromosome in humans has genes that are not in either of the ape chromosomes that supposedly fused. So it is a little more complicated that simple fusing.



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Todd Greene

posted July 29, 2009 at 11:54 am


“I understand that the fused chromosome in humans has genes that are not in either of the ape chromosomes that supposedly fused.”
Of course, the current estimate of the timing of the split from the latest common ancestor between chimps and humans is around 6 million years ago. Surely you’re not using the premise that there were zero genetic divergences, besides the fusion itself, in the last 6 million years. Are you?



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Your Name

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm


Todd:
I’m just saying that it is not simply just a matter of a fusing chromosome. More than that happened.



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Glen Davidson

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:39 pm


alan wrote:

You should apply the “principle of charity” to peoples arguments, rather than take cheap pot shots and perpetrate the ridiculous myth that there is any connection between being an atheist and thinking logically and critically.

For someone so uncharitable and dishonest as to claim that a single, misrepresented instance breaks the rule, that is an amazing amount of projection. Still, such dishonest tactics are the norm in creationism/ID.
The usual charge against real science is, in fact, that it is atheistic. Your cheap and dishonest tack means that you are implicitly (though you’d likely never be honest enough to say so) claiming that IDists are lying. They are, of course, but are not wrong about atheists not accepting ID nonsense.

To show how idiotically behind the times you are check out
[address deleted]
for info on the Bradley Monton’s new book: “Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design”

Dishonest and vile, I see you are. First off, I know about that clown. Even if he accepted ID as an atheist, that would be just evidence that atheists can be idiots too. Secondly, of course he doesn’t accept ID, it being so much mindless tripe. Third, his “argument” for ID being “science” in his paper on the Dover trial is essentially only that it could be working science if a number of criteria were met, not that it is any kind of working science at all. He probably does think it “is science” in some way at present, in fact (he’s a buffoon), but he knows full well that it’s not any “working science” and that most–”perhaps all”–of its proponents are theists.

Assuming that Bill Gates really is an atheist (given that just about everything else in your post was wrong)

What was wrong? Nothing, you ridiculously dishonest ignoramus.

You have only proven that even an atheist like Gates can accept the premises of ID, and that ID does not rest on religious premises.

Just more dishonesty–though I suppose I should thank you for demonstrating how uncivil and dishonest ID proponents generally are. But then again, what IDist doesn’t do that?
As to your dishonest claim that Gates is an IDiot like yourself, because Monton supposedly is, here’s Monton

It is true that most – perhaps all – proponents of ID are theists, and it’s true that they sometimes say things that imply that ID has supernatural consequences.
IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN SCIENCE? DISSECTING THE DOVER DECISION

He is a bad philosopher of science, but he at least didn’t accept biological ID then, and I seriously doubt that he does now. Most importantly, as per the usual with you incompetent boobs, you provided no evidence that he does, or that any other atheist at all does. All he does is (at least in the paper and in what I’ve seen on the web) argue how some ideal of ID could be science, which most of us have never doubted. The trouble is that an honest ID would be immediately falsified, so ID at present is carefully honed not to be falsifiable (junk that some IDiot said is brought in as “predictions” that could theoretically be falsified, but nothing is linked to any “ID theory,” since there is none, so the “predictions” fail to be anything but what someone said some time).
Monton doesn’t even understand what he said, and if he were an IDiot I wouldn’t care at all. There are always outliers–which changes nothing about the fact that one may, when no other evidence exists, accept the conclusion that an atheist is not an ID believer. Your lack of science knowledge explains why you argue so wretchedly and dishonestly, but that’s part and parcel of ID as well.
And really, I’m not going to respond to you any more in this thread, as you’re only malicious and dishonest. It’s not a promise, but it’s sure my intention, as it pays no dividend to “argue with” someone who is either ignorant of, or happy to disregard, all rules of honest discussion. You accuse me of being wrong, when you both imply that I didn’t know about that clueless bozo Monton, when I do, and state that a single case of someone being atheist and dumb enough to judge ID by some ideal that ID blithely ignores for the sake of the Wedge strategy somehow shows that an atheist can be dumb enough to be an IDist–when his Dover paper certainly shows that he wasn’t when he wrote that.
IOW, I can’t spend considerable amounts of time countering your lies with evidence as is my wont (and nothing you have or care about), when all you’ll do afterward is bring forward more lies.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted July 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm


Just one correction:

Monton doesn’t even understand what he said

True enough, but what I meant to say at that point was something like:

Monton doesn’t even understand what we said about ID not being science

Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Olorin

posted July 29, 2009 at 5:26 pm


Sorry, previous comment was a duplicate



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Olorin

posted July 29, 2009 at 5:28 pm


alan (July 28, 2009 8:06 PM): “Origin of life research is widely acknowledged to be in a state of paradigm crisis. There are a number of schools of thought and they are busy destroying each others credibility”
Alan, when will you realize that you continue to prove my point/? Let me repeat it yet again: The point is that real scientists are developing hypotheses as to how life might have developed—about what the environment might have been, about what chemical reactions might plausably have taken place, about how the requisite small steps might have occurred.. They are doing experiments and simulations and observations to test these hypotheses. They publish ideas and research results for criticism[1] and for others to build upon.
PLEASE COMPARE THIS SITUATION WITH INTELLIGENT DESIGN RESEARCH. Five years ago, the Templeton Foundation offered the Discovery Institute $400,000 for a research program on intelligent design. After a year had passed and the DI could not even propose a program for what they were going to look for, the Foundation yanked the money. It’s been four years since the last article in the DI’s own captive journal—and none of the previous articles had ever contained any original research. This is design research in action. Or, rather, in inaction.
Poor Rudolf Boltzmann. Without personal funds. Other physicists dismissed his atomic theory as rubbish. So he labored for 30 years accumulating evidence, publishing papers in cheap journals. And never once did he lobby for legislators to include this theory in textbooks. Never once did he speak in churches to gather public support. Never once did he produce a play connecting Continuum Theory with the bubonic plague.
Phillip Johnson’s original program[2] in 1996 was to convince scientists of the scientific basis of ID by publishing 100 reviewed articles and 30 science-based books in five years. This program never even got off the ground.[3] It seemed to slip quietly under the waves about the time of Kitzmiller. Since that time, ID’;s appeal has been aimed solely at churches and politicians. Pace, Rudolf Boltzmann.
We keep getting promises of evidence, evidence. But it never seems to appear—just vamps of “inference to the best explanation.” “The Edge of Evolution.” Nothing. “The Design of Life.” Nada. “Signature of a Cell.” Meyer promised this book seven years ago. Based upon past promises and failures, should I devote $20 and a dozen hours to this one too? Does it contain anything that was not in Meyer’s 2000 ARN article? Will Meyer defend his book to actual scientists? At least Behe conducted a long, detailed, and lively debate in his Amazon blog for “Edge.” Somehow I get the feeling that Meyer will cut and run, as he did in the Kitzmiller trial.
==============
[1] Two lines of thought seem to be evolving: metabolism first and replicator first. the latter doesn’t even require DNA, RNA, or anything else, depending only upon osmotic pressure. .As to simulations, I’ve read Marks’ papers on active information. First, he hasn’t managed to get them published anywhere in two years, not even in tej DI’s own Complexity journal. Second, his point is irrelevant. The “smuggled information” he complains of specifies the environment. Evolution requires that organisms evolve in response to their environment. Yet he dosesn’t want the environment is th simulation. Duh.
[2] In the Wedge Document, q.v.
[3] For example, his epigones call William Dembski, mathematics PhD, the “Newton of information theory.” Yet he has never published a single reviewed paper on the apple of his eye, complex specified information. Ah, discrimination! Yet he has never published a single paper on information theory in general. Or in ANY OTHER SUBJECT IN THE ENTIRE FIELD OF MATHEMATICS. You might remember that Ronald Fisher was a renowned statistician with a ton of publications in evolutionary mathematics, and in other areas as well. AND, at that time, evolutionary natural selection was at a nadir, disbelieved by many in the field.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 6:26 pm


Glen Davidson
Let me summarize your last post. All ID / Creationists (Well done. I noticed you distinguished between the two) like me, are: “idiots”, “liars”, “dishonest”, “vile”and “malicious”. Atheists, like Monton who support ID are “idiots too”, “clowns” and “buffoons”. Did I miss anything? I was particularyl impressed by the way that you refrained from misrepresenting me. Since you have overwhelmed me with the power of your atheistic logic and your impeccable honesty, I am in no position to ask you to remove the plank from your own eye.
BTW. I would be grateful if you would tell me what you think of Anthony Flews conversion as your last post was highly entertaining and I would like to collect the whole set.
PS. Remember to take the pills for your high blood pressure and please, oh please leave your brain to medical science.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm


Olorin wrote:
“Alan, just so we are oriented aright, evolution has 150 years of research, with mechanisms of how it happens, tested mathematical models, converging evidence from paleontology, biogeography,[1] paleontology, genetics, and embryology. 1,750 reviewed papers per year investigate, expand, and modify evolutionary theory—and even overthrow some parts, when the evidence warrants.”
Let me address this claim in two ways. In the first place, you are making a kind of appeal to authority. I have already explained that you can always do research within a paradigm, even if the paradigm is known to be critically flawed. People still write papers based on Newtonian mechanics. Are you arguing that so long as Darwinists keep churning out papers based on the same unchallenged assumptions, that they should be left to police themselves. This seems like a recipe for staleness, complacency, monopoly, truth by authority and financial waste. It will create a culture of scientists who learn never to challenge received wisdom and who persecute others who do. This is not the kind of science I want to support.
While Darwinism has indeed assembled a massive evidentiary case over the last 150 yrs, and an impressive body of defence strategies intended to protect the theory from refutation, it has also accumulated an equally vast body of anomalies. Let me tell you something about science. A thousand confirming experiments is not enough to prove a theory like Darwinism, but one or a few failed experiments may just be sufficient to overturn it….eventually.
For each of the above examples in which you claim success i.e. palaeontology, biogeography, genetics, and embryology, it is possible to cite devastating evidence against Darwinism. I will keep this short, but we can go into detail if you like.
Palaeontology: Abrupt appearance of major phyla (Cambrian explosion); stasis the norm, gradual transitions rare and possibly imagined. While the fossil record could support the idea of evolution in the broad sense, it could not be less Darwinian in the gradual sense.
Biogeography: Darwinist believe that nearly identical representatives from within the placentals and marsupials (e.g. The placental wolf and the marsupial wolf) evolved entirely independently. They explain this “coincidence” using the extremely dubious ad-hoc mechanism of “convergent evolution”.
Genetics: Darwinists have found the same genes coding for entirely different structures in different animals. The tree of life may be abandoned.
Haekels faked embryos: A problem thought to have been solved 100 years ago turns out not to be solved at all.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:01 pm


Olorin wrote:
“On the other hand, design, which has been around since Paley’s natural theology, has produced zippo, rien, nada, nichts, nichevo, walang, nients, a’ole. Therefore, the burden is on ID to go forward with something—anything.”
Nearly all the research performed up to the time of Darwin was performed from a design perspective e.g. Isaac Newton, arguably most influential scientist who ever lived, was trying to get inside the mind of God by discovering Gods blue print for the universe. Nowadays, most of the meaningful and practical research in biology is done by attempting to “reverse engineer” a comprehensible design. Scientists come up with hypotheses on how this or that function may work by thinking how humans might achieve the same result. Darwinism is clearly irrelevant in most of biology. Modern scientific thinking is saturated with design whether scientists like to admit it or not. Some Japanese scientists who helped to unravel part of the assembly process of the bacterial flagellum were clearly operating as reverse engineers. Any reference to Darwinism is invariably added after the science has been undertaken using a design perspective.
At the same time, explicit ID proponents have produced some original research, so to imply that ID has come forward with nothing is dishonest. I gave you an example in my previous post. Have you looked at it yet?. It’s true that there isn’t a huge amount of ID research, but that’s partly because there are not a huge amount of scientists doing it at the moment. In the present climate, the disincentives to come out in favour of ID are enormous. Judging by the rubbish I read on forums, we are still at the stage where ID is being defined by the opposite side, and is probably being dismissed by many scientists for the wrong reasons. Science should not be judged by the number of papers churned out, but by the arguments they contain. I here that evolutionary psychology is churning them out at the momment. A single original paper could spark a revolution. To demand that the proponents of ID, which is a relatively young paradigm, produce a substantial body of peer reviewed research before they can be taken seriously is unreasonable and it is an strategy to attack ID. New paradigms don’t grow that way. They evolve slowly due to resistance from the dominant paradigm and due to lack of resources, or access. The transition takes place as adherents of the old paradigm die of, and young people enter the field with more open minds.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm


Olorin wrote:
“And that’s what the proponents of new theories do. Boltzmann in atomic theory (30 years), Wegener in continental drift (50 years)—they all did it.”
This could be a teachable moment if you are willing to learn. Boltzmann hanged himself after suffering years of persecution and isolation from his peers. He produced no new work during the last ten years of his life, but spent them in bitter disputes and in writing a number of books propounding his ideas. Only after his death, when young scientists who were less interested in defending their status an more interested in breaking new ground emerged, were his achievement recognised. The irony here is obvious. ID proponents have produced a number of profound and original challenges to Darwinism, and to naturalism in general, and they are suffering the same fate as Boltzmann. This argument has not finished. Indeed, it has scarcely begun. Only time will tell.
Olorin wrote:
Wegener in continental drift (50 years)—they all did it.
Similarly, Wegener was long dead before his theory gained acceptance. During Wegener’s lifetime, his theory of continental drift was severely attacked by leading geologists, who viewed him as an outsider meddling in their field. The possibility of continental drift only started to become accepted by the late 1950s. In a wonderful irony, in the 1960 edition of Clark and Stearn’s Geological Evolution of North America the status of the geosynclinal theory was compared favourably with Darwin’s theory of natural selection:
“The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles in geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of the theory of evolution, which serves to integrate the many branches of the biological sciences. . . . Just as the doctrine of evolution is universally accepted among biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain systems is an established principle in geology.” (p. 43)
The author was right in comparing geosynclinal theory to Darwinian theory, but not in the way he thought!



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm


Olorin wrote:
“Where is the DI’s Biologic Institute? They seem to have plenty of money to lobby legislatures. Where is Biola University, with its endless funds for hosting conferences? ……..”
ID research exists and is steadily accumulating, whether you admit it or not. It’s there if you really want to find it and study it. If you want to continue to make the fallacious argument that lack of available research into an idea makes it a bad idea, then please tell me how many peer reviewed papers were available on statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics during Boltzmanns lifetime and how many on plate tectonics during Wegeners. The same logic you use to exclude ID could equally be applied to suppress any new science which challenges the ruling orthodoxy. Better still, why not read the ID literature that is available, Starting with Meyers book. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough original ID research to keep you busy indefinitely, but that you refuse a priori to even entertain its premises for subjective philosophical preconceptions – the same preconceptions you use to dismiss everything to do with ID as unscientific.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:09 pm


Olorin wrote:
“The problem is that ID has no idea even where to start, because it has no theory or model that can be tested within its own paradigm.”
Naturalism and ID are broad metaphysical positions which cannot be tested directly, although they can be used to generate testable hypotheses. It took Darwinists several decades to generate testable models from it’s broader metaphysical claims. This is why Popper initially claimed that Darwinism was irrefutable. Now that we have a grasp of the actual mechanism of heredity which Darwin lacked, we are finally in that position to test some of the Darwinian claims …and to refute them. How do Darwinists feel about this? Instead of trying to counter Behe, say, by throwing all its weight at the problem of evolving biological systems which turn out to have the appearance of IC, the Darwinists community are ignoring this avenue of research. Rather than make a positive case by trying to prove what RM and NS really can do, the entire Darwinist community have attacked Behe with philosophical arguments and have repeatedly miss represented his position.
Darwinism, and naturalism give us no rational reason to suspect that life might be comprehensible to us or to expect complexity. In fact, Darwinists initially greet each new discovery of the complexity of life with baffled head scratching, before reminding themselves how wonderful the RM and NS mechanism (which MUST have generated this complexity) is. Darwinists tend to expect that everything should be simple because they know that complexity does not arise from unguided processes. Nothing in Darwinism led to the prediction of a complex code. It is actually irrational for the Darwinist to believe that the chance products of a naturalistic process (i.e. us) should ever be able to obtain a comprehensive understanding of life. This idea is straight from ID. ID proponents are comfortable with the idea of DNA bearing information and have the confidence to believe that much of the “Junk DNA” is functional. ID proponents have been predicting this for as long as ID existed in its present form, but the credit is slow in coming.



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Alan

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:12 pm


Olorin wrote:
“And I have repeatedly answered that the no analogy is good enough, that you must present evidence independent of the analogy itself. I don’t tell you what kind of evidence because, as noted several times previously, I DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE WOULD SHOW DESIGN, But that’s your responsibility as proponent of a theory which contravenes not only a universally accepted foundational”
No it’s not my responsibility to determine what would convince YOU of design. It’s exactly as I thought. You simply rule out ID a priori, and no amount of positive evidence would convince you. I think what you are asking for is a meeting with the Designer before making up your mind. Well I’m sorry to disappoint you. You will just have to make do with second best i.e. a massive evidential case for design in nature. There is a clip on youtube called “the inner life of the cell”. When I first saw it I was shocked by the stunning animation of the immune response. Everything about it screamed design. I have since discovered that it is a greatly distorted and massively simplified version of what a cell must really look like. The technology is light years ahead of Star Trek. It’s unfathomable.
But if you make a concious decision to believe that this and a mointain of other evidence isn’t evidence of design, you must realise that this is against our uniform experience. It is simply shows that you have been given the freedom to deny anything you wish. Assume for a moment that we REALLY ARE designed. In that case, you have cut yourself of from the truth. Science is no longer then a search for the truth, but instead becomes a search for the best naturalistic explanation there is….and it will be wrong. So the choice is this at the moment:
1 Faith that the design we observe in the universe is real and that naturalistic processes, while operational, are insufficient to account for that design.
2 Faith in naturalism is sufficient to account for everything in the universe, including the appearance of design



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm


Alan:
Okay, we agree on the concept of “complex specified information”.
Would you agree then, that a 2D image of a English sentence would fit this definition? It would be made up of pixels, either black or white, on a computer monitor, let’s say 1024 x 768. This gives 786,432 pixels, each of which could be “on” or “off”, so the possible number of combinations is 2^786432, a very huge number.
The overwhelmingly vast majority of those combinations would give “snow” like on a black-and-white television; the odds of seeing something like a page from the Declaration of Independence is so small that we would conclude it must have been designed.
So if I had some process-I don’t say what-and it produced, say, 4 images as I described, and 2 looked like “snow”, one was a page from Ecclesiates, and one was maybe a bunch of random English words, or possibly a child’s picture of a house, you would conclude that because the 2 that don’t look like “snow” are so unlikely, that they must have been produced by design, using the “complex specified information” standard.
Am I right? Using the “complex specified information” standard, I conclude that an black-and-white image made up of simple on-off pixels must have been designed, if the odds of it being produced at random are so tiny that it needn’t be considered (something like billions-to-one against).
I will wait for you to agree before I post again.



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Jim

posted July 29, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Olorin: “The problem is that ID has no idea even where to start, because it has no theory or model that can be tested within its own paradigm.”
If you’ll simply take David Klinghoffer’s challenge and read Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell,” you’ll learn just how spectacularly wrong you are.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm


If you’ll simply take David Klinghoffer’s challenge and read Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell,” you’ll learn just how spectacularly wrong you are
Surely you could explain it. If you asked me how relativity works, I wouldn’t tell you you have to read Einstein’s paper-I’d sum it up.
Why can’t you do the same? If you want your ideas taken seriously, you have to present and defend them in many fora. I know posting on David’s blog doesn’t put money in the coffers of DI, but if they’d come up with a scientific research proposal they could have had the Templeton Foundation’s $400,000.



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Olorin

posted July 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm


Excuses, excuses, excuses. As the Bard said, “Let me count the ways.”—
Possible faults in evolution prove design.[1] Faking data by evolutionists is evidence of design.[2] The beliefs of a famous scientist in a different field, working two centuries before Darwin, demonstrate design in biology.[3] Analogy to human activities shows design.[4] Irrelevance of Theory A to much of current biology is proof of Theory B.[5] Claiming research is the same as actually doing research.[6] Discrimination is evidence of correctness.[7] Arguments are the same as evidence.[8] Promises of future evidence are evidence.[9] Twelve years is not nearly enough time to produce more than zero experiments, simulations, or any other actual data, or even to formulate a program defining what evidence to obtain. [9] Challenges to Theory A are evidence for Theory B.[10] Comparing design to an ultimately successful theory in another field obviates any requirement for research.[11] Magic glasses are required to see the evidence.[12] Lack of research doesn’t make an idea bad.[13] A priori disbelief of a theory justifies that no research at all be performed by anyone.[14] ID is metaphysical, no evidence required.[15] A promise to generate testable hypotheses, without explaining how, is evidence of design.[16] Promises of future unspecified models, tests, &c. justify lack of any effort in developing same.[17] Opinions that no amount of evidence would convince the fuddy-duddies are grounds for not looking for any evidence at all.[18] A sense of awe caused by a cartoon video is conclusive.[19] Pascal’s Wager should be enough to convince anyone.[20]
Alan (July 29, 2009 7:09 PM):: “So the choice is this at the moment: 1 Faith that the design we observe in the universe is real and that naturalistic processes, while operational, are insufficient to account for that design. 2 Faith in naturalism is sufficient to account for everything in the universe, including the appearance of design”
1. Yes. You also need evidence and models to test.
2. Yes. We also have evidence and models to test.
==========
[1] Alan (July 29, 2009 6:33 PM): “While Darwinism has indeed assembled a massive evidentiary case over the last 150 yrs, and an impressive body of defence strategies intended to protect the theory from refutation, it has also accumulated an equally vast body of anomalies.”
[2] Alan (July 29, 2009 6:33 PM)::”Haekels faked embryos: A problem thought to have been solved 100 years ago turns out not to be solved at all.” (BTW, I challenge you to find the drawing that Haeckel faked by comparing his drawings to actual embryos. Hint: It took experts a couple of years.)
[3] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “Nearly all the research performed up to the time of Darwin was performed from a design perspective e.g. Isaac Newton, arguably most influential scientist who ever lived, was trying to get inside the mind of God by discovering Gods blue print for the universe.
[4] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “Scientists come up with hypotheses on how this or that function may work by thinking how humans might achieve the same result.” (But so far, the Designer has not come up with new functions by copying human designs for wheel chairs, heart defibrillators, or iPhones. Pity.)
[5] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “Darwinism is clearly irrelevant in most of biology. “
[6] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “At the same time, explicit ID proponents have produced some original research, so to imply that ID has come forward with nothing is dishonest. I gave you an example in my previous post. Have you looked at it yet?.” (Michael Behe testified differently. What has changed. If there was anything more than analogy and inference in your post, everyone seems to have missed it.)
[7] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “In the present climate, the disincentives to come out in favour of ID are enormous.” (Boltzmann hanged himself. Wegener died before vindication. Is this a reason not to start? Do you fear death by research)?
[8] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “Science should not be judged by the number of papers churned out, but by the arguments they contain.”
[9] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:01 PM): “To demand that the proponents of ID, which is a relatively young paradigm, produce a substantial body of peer reviewed research before they can be taken seriously is unreasonable”
[10] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:04 PM): “The irony here is obvious. ID proponents have produced a number of profound and original challenges to Darwinism, and to naturalism in general, and they are suffering the same fate as Boltzmann.” (Note that Boltzmann wrote the books after he had done the research, not before; Lindley, “Boltzmann’s Atom,” The Free Press, 2001, Ch. 11, p. 206.
I have used the examples of Boltxmann and Wegener, who were successful. You might try the examples of Rene Blondlot and Immanuel Velikovsky, who failed. That’s why you haven’t heard of them..
[11] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:04 PM):: “In a wonderful irony, in the 1960 edition of Clark and Stearn’s Geological Evolution of North America the status of the geosynclinal theory was compared favourably with Darwin’s theory of natural selection:”
[12] Alan {July 29, 2009 7:06 PM): “ID research exists and is steadily accumulating, whether you admit it or not. It’s there if you really want to find it and study it.”
[13] Alan {July 29, 2009 7:06 PM): “ If you want to continue to make the fallacious argument that lack of available research into an idea makes it a bad idea, then please tell me how many peer reviewed papers were available on statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics during Boltzmanns lifetime and how many on plate tectonics during Wegeners”. (Only if you’ll tell me how many papers on radioisotope dating and paleomagnetism were available to Charles Lyell.)
[14] Alan {July 29, 2009 7:06 PM): “The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough original ID research to keep you busy indefinitely, but that you refuse a priori to even entertain its premises for subjective philosophical preconceptions”
[15] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:09 PM): “Naturalism and ID are broad metaphysical positions which cannot be tested directly,…”
[16] “…although they can be used to generate testable hypotheses.” And here my philosophy professor told me that paradigms are untestable, per se—that chess is neither true nor false.
[17] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:09 PM) “It took Darwinists several decades to generate testable models from it’s broader metaphysical claims.” (And here I thought that Darwin did 20 years of research before he published “On the Origin,”, and that he proposed a couple of very worldfamous tests in that very same book.)
[18] “You simply rule out ID a priori, and no amount of positive evidence would convince you. “
[19] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:09 PM): “There is a clip on youtube called “the inner life of the cell”. When I first saw it I was shocked by the stunning animation of the immune response. Everything about it screamed design.” You’re right that the vide is distorted, although not in the way you might think. Do you still wish to complain about Haeckel?
[20] Alan (July 29, 2009 7:09 PM): “Assume for a moment that we REALLY ARE designed. In that case, you have cut yourself of from the truth.”



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Olorin

posted July 29, 2009 at 11:14 pm


Jim (July 29, 2009 8:03 PM): “If you’ll simply take David Klinghoffer’s challenge and read Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell,” you’ll learn just how spectacularly wrong you are.”
I might have to, just to settle the hash. Behe was a bust. Dembski was a doofas. Wells was a waste. Is Stephen the savior, or should we seek another, as we always have before?
By the way, Jim, have you read it?
(A) No, Amazon is backlogged until April 1, 2011.
(B) No, but I expect the angel Gabriel to deliver it any day.
(C) Partly, but the drivel is already up to my armpits.
(D) Partly, but I’ll need some better magic glasses.
(D) Yes, but I don’t understand it.
(E) Yes, but you won’t understand it.
(F) Yes, but the publisher will cancel my cut if I reveal anything.
(G) Other. (Including fear of being converted to Evilutionism).



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alan

posted July 30, 2009 at 7:13 am


Olorin wrote:
“Excuses, excuses, excuses. As the Bard said, “Let me count the ways.”
I am unable to keep pace with your constant rash of unrelated criticisms of ID, I will have to be selective. Do not take this as an indication that I presently don’t have answers for all your points. I am at least attempting to address them systematically, whereas you are happy to ignore criticisms and brush of reasonable arguments with a wave of the hand, by merely “counting the ways”
Olorin wrote:
“Possible faults in evolution prove design.”
This is a caricature of what I said. At the very least, the devastating case against Darwinism already assembled should clear the way for a wide ranging reassessment of what we actually know about how the diversity of life came about, making room for alternatives like ID. It is time for the Darwinists scientific community to come clean about the poor state of its accounts. ID does not look for possible faults in Darwinism (the broad term evolution can mean anything), but for fundamental deficiencies in the programme of naturalism which are not likely to be resolved ….ever…by further research. In this way, ID hopes to avoid the wasteful pursuit of a naturalistic dead end indefinitely.
Olorin wrote:
“Faking data by evolutionists is evidence of design.”
You said that. Not me. It proves that Darwinists are heavily devoted to their theory and cannot be expected to police themselves. It proves that they are able to step outside the box and veiw the evidence without heavy biases. It also proves that Darwinism is having considerable problems with old evidence, as well as new.
Olorin wrote:
“The beliefs of a famous scientist in a different field, working two centuries before Darwin, demonstrate design in biology.”
This is a gross misrepresentation of what I said. My examples demonstrate that scientists working within a design oriented paradigm have produced science of the highest standard , and that this work clearly has to be attributed to an ID approach. It also proves that ID isn’t science stopping. Once the idea of design has been accepted, scientists are motivated to find out how the design works.
Olorin wrote:
“Irrelevance of Theory A to much of current biology is proof of Theory B.”
This is similar to your “Possible faults in evolution prove design.” misrepresentation. “Irrelevance of Theory A” means that theory A should be opened up to thoroughgoing criticism of its fundamental premises, rather than being treated like a kind of unchallengeable religious dogma.
Olorin wrote:
“Claiming research is the same as actually doing research.”
The first thing the victors do is re-right history in their favour and erase the contributions of past civilisations. The Egyptians did it by scoring of the writings from earlier buildings and adding their own, and it has been going on ever since. Fast forward to Darwins time. As Darwinism gained ground, it did so by reinterpreting data accumulated under a design paradigm. Linnaeus was a creationist, but but Darwin reinterpreted his work done in taxonomy to suit his theory. ID will no doubt do the same.
Olorin wrote:
“Discrimination is evidence of correctness.”
No. Discrimination is evidence of Darwinist angst. Gandhi said:
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
ID is somewhere between the ridicule and fight stage at the moment. While there is never a guarantee that a particular view will prevail, my overall impression of the darwinist response to ID is that they are helpless. I believe that many Darwinists are privately doubtful that they will ever be able to confront the challenges that ID poses, and that they are currently just towing the party line by talking up Darwinism to the public and bashing ID.
Olorin wrote:
“Promises of future evidence are evidence.”
Sounds like “promissory materialism” to me
Olorin wrote:
“Twelve years is not nearly enough time to produce more than zero experiments, simulations, or any other actual data, or even to formulate a program defining what evidence to obtain.”
You are wilfully ignorant on this count. Check my previous posts. BTW Darwinism has had 150 years to assemble its case. The majority of this time, it has gone unchallenged from the outside and has had massive funds at its disposal. Despite this, the theory can be seen to be in a hopeless muddle.
Olorin wrote:
“Challenges to Theory A are evidence for Theory B.”
This is another repeat of your “Possible faults in evolution prove design.” Challenges to Theory A should be met with scientific arguments and positive evidence, not papered over with rhetoric.
Olorin wrote:
“Lack of research doesn’t make an idea bad.”
True. It just means that the idea needs to be developed, and that often only time will tell.
Olorin wrote:
“A priori disbelief of a theory justifies that no research at all be performed by anyone.”
No. It means that the scientist is not open to new ideas, which is against the scientific spirit.
Olorin wrote:
“ID is metaphysical, no evidence required. A promise to generate testable hypotheses, without explaining how, is evidence of design.”
Your knowledge of the philosophy of science is crummy. Try reading “The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes” and then come back to me on this point.
Olorin wrote:
“A sense of awe caused by a cartoon video is conclusive.”
This type of attitude will further alienate Darwinism from essential public support. When the general public hear darwinists talk in disparaging terms about the ever growing complexity of nature, they will likely dismiss NDE without a second thought. Besides, the video need not be conclusive to someone who is, for example, narrow minded and bigoted.
Olorin wrote:
Pascal’s Wager should be enough to convince anyone.
I thought we were discussing science here.
Please let me know if I missed something.



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alan

posted July 30, 2009 at 7:50 am


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“So if I had some process-I don’t say what-and it produced, say, 4 images as I described, and 2 looked like “snow”, one was a page from Ecclesiates, and one was maybe a bunch of random English words, or possibly a child’s picture of a house, you would conclude that because the 2 that don’t look like “snow” are so unlikely, that they must have been produced by design, using the “complex specified information” standard.”
In the case of the “page from Ecclesiates” you could come to a conclusion as reliable as anything in physics that it was designed. As for the random English words, you would have to do a calculation. As I have already said to Olorin, you need to be careful that the system you are using to generate images does not have information smuggled in by the back door, say, in the form of a target phrase. These considerations have led Dembski to propose a “conservation law that governs the origin and flow of information”. I include his abstract here:
“Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information
William A. Dembski
Abstract: For the scientific community intelligent design represents creationism’s latest grasp at scientific legitimacy. Accordingly, intelligent design is viewed as yet another ill-conceived attempt by creationists to straightjacket science within a religious ideology. But in fact intelligent design can be formulated as a scientific theory having empirical consequences and devoid of religious commitments. Intelligent design can be unpacked as a theory of information. Within such a theory, information becomes a reliable indicator of design as well as a proper object for scientific investigation. In my paper I shall (1) show how information can be reliably detected and measured, and (2)formulate a conservation law that governs the origin and flow of information. My broad conclusion is that information is not reducible to natural causes, and that the origin of information is best sought in intelligent causes. Intelligent design thereby becomes a theory for detecting and measuring information, explaining its origin, and tracing its flow.”
The fact that one phenomena was originally thought to be designed, but later turns out to be explicable by naturalistic causes e.g. snowflake formation, does not refute design, although it does lessen its scope. Darwinists are invited to participate in this process.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Am I right? Using the “complex specified information” standard, I conclude that an black-and-white image made up of simple on-off pixels must have been designed, if the odds of it being produced at random are so tiny that it needn’t be considered (something like billions-to-one against)
Lets say, if the odds are 1/10^150 or less.



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Jim

posted July 30, 2009 at 7:53 am


Alan,
Olorin is so deeply ignorant of intelligent design that you’re wasting you’re time trying to debate him. He repeatedly presents his misrepresentations of ID as positions that design theorists actually hold. It’s pointless to keep dealing with all the straw men he creates. I don’t recall who said it, but it’s true: “There’s no debating an ignorant man.”
Oh, and I have read “Signature in the Cell,” along with about 2 dozen other books by design theorists/proponents.



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Olorin

posted July 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm


Jim (July 30, 2009 7:53 AM): “Oh, and I have read “Signature in the Cell,” along with about 2 dozen other books by design theorists/proponents.”
Good on ya. I have copies of about a dozen, and have read most of the rest, although interlibrary loan was unable to find a couple.
Yet you still refuse to uncover the shells over any of Meyer’s arguments, requiring us to trust you that there is actually something lurking under them, perhaps fearing the light. How about just a hint? Maybe a brief outline of two or three of Meyer’s “Twelve Tests” of design? C’mon.



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Olorin

posted July 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Alan (July 30, 2009 7:13 AM) “Olorin wrote: ‘Pascal’s Wager should be enough to convince anyone.’ I thought we were discussing science here. Please let me know if I missed something.”
Yes, you did miss it. The isomorphism between Pascal’s argument for belief in God and your argument for belief in design, as expressed in the quoted passage: ““Assume for a moment that we REALLY ARE designed. In that case, you have cut yourself of from the truth.”



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Olorin

posted July 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm


Alan (July 30, 2009 7:13 AM): “I am unable to keep pace with your constant rash of unrelated criticisms of ID,”
They are all the same criticism—excuses creationists dredge up for not doing any actual research on their soi-disant theory.
I will admit that the twenty (20) excuses in the list could be condensed into a few general categories.[1] My bad for not doing your work for you.
Construed as criticisms of design in general, you might consider that your words have been twisted. But when you look at them as evincing various & sundry reasons for lack of any actual positive evidence for design, they hang together.
=============
[1] For example, excuses 6, 9, 15 and 16 could be generalized as “promises of future research constitute evidence.” Or, to phrase it more crassly, you keep sitting on the edge of the bed telling me how good it will be.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Alan:
You and I are trying to evaluate whether Dembski’s claim is valid. We are doing this by being very clear about the words we use and working in very small steps, so we don’t get confused about what we mean. Quoting Dembski’s abstract doesn’t demonstrate anything, other than that he made the claim.
Now you say:
As for the random English words, you would have to do a calculation.
But you already know that random English words are not going to be produced by random pixels. You know that random pixels are going to look like “static”. You know that the overwhelming majority of the time an image made of random pixels is going to be 50% black. That calculation is very simple, it is from the binomial distribution, and if you have 1024 x 768 pixels, the chances of getting more or less than (50 +/- 0.1)% black is effectively zero. (The expected value of black is 1024 X 768 / 2, the square root of the variance is the square root of 1024 x 768, this is how I got the figure 0.1%.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binomial_distribution
So almost ANYTHING you see that isn’t about 50% black: a line drawing, random English words, a page of Ecclesiates, has very high CSI and a very high probability of having been designed.
Do you agree?
Lets say, if the odds are 1/10^150 or less.
They are. 2^(1024 x 768), the total number of 1024 x 768 images, is far larger than 10^150. (2^(1024 x 768) = 10^236740)
Do you agree that a line drawing, random English words, a page of Ecclesiates, or any other image that is not within 50 +/- 0.01 % black has very high CSI and a very high probability of having been designed?



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Jim

posted July 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm


Olorin: “I have copies of about a dozen (books by design theorists), and have read most of the rest…”
Ouch. That means your persistent misrepresentations of ID arise either from dishonesty or from your failure to understand what you claim to have read.



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alan

posted July 30, 2009 at 6:51 pm


Jim
Olorin is so deeply ignorant of intelligent design that you’re wasting you’re time trying to debate him. He repeatedly presents his misrepresentations of ID as positions that design theorists actually hold. It’s pointless to keep dealing with all the straw men he creates. I don’t recall who said it, but it’s true: “There’s no debating an ignorant man.”
I’m not doing it to convince him Jim, although I like to think that other people who are more open-minded read these posts. But remember, we are asking him to abandon some deeply rooted notions about the way the world works, and who knows what other commitments. People will usually only take this drastic step as a last resort. Instead, they will distort the other sides point of view in their own minds and ascribe al sorts of wicked and dishonest motives to them. A classic example of this is the criminal blaming the victim.
I also like to stick my nose in from time to time to see if the Darwinists have anything new to offer. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly their initial confidence degenerates into a barrage of insults. It’s probably because they get all fired up at websites such as “Talk Origins” only find that they have been given a load of straw men to debate with. I would be pretty annoyed and embarrassed too if I had also been deceived in that way .
I trained as a physicist and have a reasonable general background in the philosophy of science, so I know how strangely scientists behave when confronted with challenges to the ruling paradigm. But it never ceases to disturb me when I experience it personally. It’s particularly amazing to see leading Darwinists, with qualifications coming out of there ears, churning out arguments which they must know are rubbish. There is so much pushing a line in science nowadays and so many vested interests. Science appears to be degenerating in much the same way as politics.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 30, 2009 at 7:26 pm


Oh, good, Alan, you are here. Since you trained as a physicist, you know all about the cumulative probability distribution for binomial statistics, and you respond to:
Do you agree that a line drawing, random English words, a page of Ecclesiates, or any other image that is not within 50 +/- 0.01 % black [1024 x 768 pixels] has very high CSI and a very high probability of having been designed?



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alan

posted July 30, 2009 at 9:25 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote
“That calculation is very simple, it is from the binomial distribution, and if you have 1024 x 768 pixels, the chances of getting more or less than (50 +/- 0.1)% black is effectively zero. (The expected value of black is 1024 X 768 / 2, the square root of the variance is the square root of 1024 x 768, this is how I got the figure 0.1%.)”
Are you saying that the probability of getting either = 50.1% black is effectively zero. In that case, your figure is calculated based on the entire population. When considering a small square or a line of say 4 pixels, the chance of getting all blacks is 1/16.
Now I think your approach is flawed in that you are considering the probability of a surplus or deficit of blacks from the expected mean, when it is mainly the arrangement of pixels we are interested in. The distribution of black and white pixels could be 50/50 and a great deal of specified complexity could still be present, if this arrangement of pixels was such as to produce a recognizable sentence, say. The screen could be 75% black, and while highly improbable, still appear as a mess (i.e. low specificity). High improbability alone is not sufficient to trigger a design inference.
Assuming that your calculations above are correct, and that I have understood you correctly, a highly improbable distribution of even 49.9% black need not necessarily trigger a design inference, especially if the arrangement of the pixels shows no specificity, in terms of a recognizable pattern. Remember that there are 2 ^(1024 X 768) possible screen configurations and any given configuration specified in advance is so improbable that it would likely never appear by chance during the lifetime of the universe (or even possibly the multiverse!). But improbability is not enough to warrant a design inference. The arrangement of atoms on mount Rushmore is highly improbable and the arrangement of atoms on the adjacent mountain is also highly improbable. Improbability is not sufficient to make a design inference. You also need specificity – a match to a recognizable pattern.
I think it is simpler and clearer to focus on a small section of grid, and calculate the probability of getting a single letter. Look at the P on this wiki page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel
This (relatively small) P lies in a 9 x 6 = 54 pixel grid. All of the pixels need to have the precise values of black and white which they have in order for the P to appear correctly. The chance of a P of this size appearing is: 1/ 2^54 = a very small probability. To get the probability of a P appearing on at least some part of the screen, you would multiply this probability by the total number of positions at which the P could be situated. This number is slightly less than the number of pixels.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“So almost ANYTHING you see that isn’t about 50% black: a line drawing, random English words, a page of Ecclesiates, has very high CSI and a very high probability of having been designed.”
If I have understood you correctly, I would summarise by saying that every arrangement of pixels (even random noise) has an equally high C (understood as improbability) of 1/2 ^(1024 X 768). But the fact that there existed (in a given example ) a highly improbable relative proportion of black to white say’s nothing about the S (the specificity), which may still be low.



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Olorin

posted July 30, 2009 at 11:15 pm


Alan (July 30, 2009 6:51 PM): “Olorin is so deeply ignorant of intelligent design that you’re wasting you’re time trying to debate him. He repeatedly presents his misrepresentations of ID as positions that design theorists actually hold.”
This is a classic argument of the Discovery Institute. It neatly avoids having to respond to any argument, without the inconvenience of supplying any particulars.
The broad outlines of evolution are simply stated. Organisms change over time, and are descended from one or a few ancestors. The theory of evolution, that is, its physical model or mechanism, was first posited by Darwin: evolution occurs by heritable variation, oveerfecundity, and selection for reproduction.
You can look in vain for a definition of intelligent design as a scientific theory in this manner. “Intelligent design is the scientific investigation of intelligent causation and subsequent novel data, hypotheses, experiments, and practical applications that are derived by viewing specific phenomena in the universe as designed.” Lots of sciency words, but no banana. “Intelligent design seeks to find natural objects that contain the same final conditions, or physical histories, as objects that science knows were intelligently designed, based upon our observation of intelligent agency in the natural world.” That’s a promise, not a theory. “So intelligent design is an inference, from the strength of empirical knowledge alone, that specific phenomena are caused by intelligence, and that these phenomena are better studied as instances of design.” That’s an analogy, not a mechanism.[0] “Where the causal history of a phenomenon is known, there are certain characteristics and patterns that, while not necessarily present in all things designed, are never present in things that are known to be the result of unintelligent processes.” But this is precisely what is to be demonstrated. Quelle surprise!.
Theories have models: gravitation has “forces”, quantum theory proposes “orbits”, chemistry “bonds” that obey prescribed configurations. ID has an “intelligence,” which according to ID cannot be identified, analyzed, or otherwise crammed into “natural” laws—by definition!–but only detected. Suppose that the “force” of gravitation could not be limited or measured. How much use would Newton’s theory have?
Design proposes no“mechanism,” but only an analog to something else. The analogy may be good or bad, but it is not a mechanism. And only models or mechanisms can be tested by the scientific method. That’s why “complex specified information” is a feckless concept, no matter how elegantly it is arrayed. At bottom, it rests solely upon an analogy to human artifacts, and the analogy must be supported by independent facts. If you find a certain amount of CSI in a system, then it is really really like something that humans design. No matter how much inference you can pile up on it, the foundation remains sand.[1] All it can show is that living organisms are ‘like” human artifacts.
On the other hand, we know that organisms are unlike anything built by humans. I have yet to see anyone buy two cars in the hope that they will reproduce themselves in the garage, and that the resulting golf cart will someday grow into a strapping Corvette like its daddy. Sounds silly? The point is that human artifacts differ from living beings in exactly the ways that permit evolution to occur, and which prevent evolution of human-built objects: heritable variation, overfecundity, and selection for reproduction.. This is what makes design not even close to “the best explanation.”
Nevertheless, I am open to actual evidence.[2] Foe example. Every cdesignist admits that variation occurs, and only a few hard-shells still deny that Speciation takes place.[3] True, creationists call this “micro-evolution.”[4] So all I ask is an example of “micro-design.” Some small design, perhaps just a new bacteria, that you can watch being designed in a test tube. Or a half duck-half turtle, something that creationists claim evolution has never produced.
Do you begin to see the evidence problem yet?
That’s basically why I have resisted getting Meyer’s book. Nevertheless,, a reluctant copy was ordered today, and it already has a spot on the shelf between Sheldrake’s “A New Science of Life”[5] and Bauer’s “Beyond Velikovsky”[6]
The evidence had better be there this time.
===============
[0] Dembski has said that ID is not a mechanistic theory. OK, then what is it?
[1] Irreducible complexity is a different concept. However, IC has been around since 1918 as evidence for evolution, not against it. So don’t lean on it too hard.
[2] Would you believe that at least two teams are now on field expeditions looking for organisms that might not be descended from a common ancestor with all the others? Not open to evidence?
[3] You don’t even have to go back in time. Drive around the San Joaquin Valley in California, or around Lake Superior, or around Lake Victoria in Africa to see ring species transform right in front of your eyes.
[4] Analogous to micro-gravity, which is limited to making large buildings fall, but cannot keep planets in their orbits (macro-gravity).
[5] Proposing pattern-generating (“morphogenetic”) fields strewn about the universe. (What? You thought ID was the only other game in town?)
[6] Instabilities in planetary orbits that caused the Red Sea to part, manna to fall from heaven, and other biblical phenomena..



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Olorin

posted July 31, 2009 at 12:11 am


The analogy is not the evidence.[1]
Let’s turn the situation around, with evolution as defendant. Whales evolved from a land animal millions of years ago. There are fossils that “look like” primitive whales. More than look like—they have a characteristic ear structure that is found in no other line of animals. Aha—the analogy gets better and better.
Is this analogy “evidence” of ancestry. NO. If this 60My old fossil is an ancestor, then evolution would predict that there are fossils at a lesser age near the same geographic location. So the paleos dug and dug and dug some more. And they found a whole series of fossils near the coast of India in physical proximity at progressively younger ages. One of them [2] shows an intermediate stage between head-first birth (as all land mammals do) and breech-first birth (all aquatic mammals.), right smack dab in the middle of the series. Progressively shorter legs, arms becoming fins, definitive nostrils moving progressively farther back on the skull. This is evidence, independent of the analogy, and found by prediction.
The Tasmanian wolf looks very much like an American wolf—-similar skull shape, similar jaws and teeth, adapted for a similar life style. But what evolutionary relationship does this entail? Their biogeographical evidence is inconsistent with kinship.. The genetic evidence places them in different phyla. Analogy was deceptive. Evidence independent of the analogy killed it.
This is what “evidence” consists of.
==========
[1] Apologies to Marshall McLuhan.
[2] Gingerich et al., “New Protocetid Whale from the Middle Eocene of Pakistan: Birth on Land, Precocial Development, and Sexual Dimorphism,” PLoS ONE, Volume 4, p. e4366 (Feb. 2009)



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 31, 2009 at 12:20 am


Alan: High improbability alone is not sufficient to trigger a design inference.
Since you have said this, we needn’t argue about the probability calculation.
I asked you several times if I had the CSI concept right. It seems that I never did, even though you said I did.
Besides high improbability, what else must be present if we are to conclude that something has high CSI?
According to Dembski, isn’t the rest of the definition this: that our improbable something could not have got there by natural processes? This would exclude snowflakes and presumably include a page of Ecclesiastes.
Do you agree, Alan?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 31, 2009 at 12:38 am


BTW, ALan, I trust that now you see that when I said “Information is generated by natural processes all the time”, that I was referring to this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(information_theory)
The thing you are talking about, “complex specified information”, is not the same as this, which we have now made very clear, I trust.
I would like to think that you would revise your earlier remarks about me just trying to snow people with big words and scary math.
This is just an aside… can you let me know if you agree with my revised defintion of CSI?



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Jim

posted July 31, 2009 at 10:17 am


Olorin: “You can look in vain for a definition of intelligent design as a scientific theory…”
Without conceding your point, the question arises: so what? The important thing about any theory is not whether it satisfies some arbitrary definition of “scientific,” but whether it is true (or at least, likely to be true).



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Alan

posted July 31, 2009 at 9:25 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“I asked you several times if I had the CSI concept right. It seems that I never did, even though you said I did.”
I was only agreeing with your specific claim concerning the improbability aspect. I did not mean to imply that improbability alone is the only hurdle which must be overcome before a design inference is triggered. In what follows, I may be going over some old ground that you are already familiar with. Bear with me if you have already understood most of the points. There is no harm in repeating things for clarity.
Improbability is a necessary but insufficient condition to reliably infer design (just as the refutation of naturalistic mechanisms such as NDE is a necessary but insufficient condition to justify a move to ID. Making a design inference involves overcoming THREE hurdles which correspond to Dembski’s “explanatory filter”:
1. First, you must rule out any known natural law as a possible cause. (i.e. you need to show that the arrangement in question is CONTINGENT, rather than NECESSARY) e.g. We find that the physical and chemical properties of water molecules, when understood properly, lead necessarily to a discrete and fully predictable variety of shapes. They are a necessary consequence of the ways in which water molecules arrange themselves when cooled. If you were to examine trillions of snowflakes, you would eventually find some which are identical (or nearly identical).
On the other hand, the arrangement of letters into words and sentences is fully contingent, as is the ordering of base-pairs along the DNA spine. In the case of the English alphabet, there is nothing special about the properties of the letters that makes some, more or less likely to attach to others. The rules of grammar are imposed from without by intelligent agents. It is precisely this contingency which allows the alphabet as well as the nucleotides in DNA to bear vast amounts of information. A snow flake is just a fancy version of, say, the allotropes of carbon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allotropes_of_carbon
2. Next, we must overcome the COMPLEXITY hurdle (understood as improbability) i.e. the arrangement in question must have sufficient complexity in order to reasonably rule out chance appearance. The improbability threshold I used was 1/10^150 which is from Dembski’s calculation. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_probability_bound
A WARNING: I dont usually refer people to wikipedia for information on ID. In general, wikipedia cannot be trusted to give a fair representations of both sides of a controversial issue when one side dominates. It tends to get hijacked by the ruling orthodoxy, which would be Darwinism in this case.
3. The final hurdle is the SPECIFICITY hurdle.
The object must also have specificity i.e. it must conform to a recognisable pattern ( of the kind known to be produced by designing intelligences). Such patterns could include recognizable images, ordered sequences of numbers (such as the prime numbers) or computer codes.
Dembski developed his filter by considering the types of design inferences we make all the time in everyday life. While his filter has been widely attacked as insufficient for the task of detecting design, the point is that these discussions are taking place within the realm of science. His criteria for inferring intelligence may be under debate, but should his ideas be automatically be criticised as unscientific? ID does not rely on religious premises and as such, should not be ruled out a priori as unscientific.
Dembski’s design filter is only as good as the input information. In the same way that snowflakes would have triggered a faulty design inference before the discovery of atoms and their bonding properties, ID proponents may be wrong about inferring design in DNA. They may have been premature. Darwinists are invited to discover a naturalistic explanation for the emergence of the type of complex specified molecules found everywhere in living systems. ID proponents may turn out to be wrong, but that is the risk you must accept in science when making claims about reality.



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Alan

posted July 31, 2009 at 9:26 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“BTW, ALan, I trust that now you see that when I said “Information is generated by natural processes all the time”, that I was referring to this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(information_theory)
This is just an aside… can you let me know if you agree with my revised defintion of CSI?”
I will come back to you on this later. In the mean time I have found Dembski’s book “the design inference on Google books, which I have yet to read, if you are interested. The explanatory filter is discussed on P36:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=R7otNWMrgcwC&dq=%22the+design+inference&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=wZZzSqOGHNWMjAfVkdGnBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false



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Alan

posted July 31, 2009 at 9:34 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“I would like to think that you would revise your earlier remarks about me just trying to snow people with big words and scary math.”
Yes. I revise my earlier remarks and apologise. Don’t take it personally as I do come across a lot of Darwinists who use bluff tactics to scare off critics. It is rare to find Darwinists who want to understand ID and to represent ID properly, even if it is to critique it.



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Olorin

posted August 1, 2009 at 12:01 am


Jim (July 31, 2009 10:17 AM}: “The important thing about any theory is not whether it satisfies some arbitrary definition of “scientific,” but whether it is true (or at least, likely to be true)”
It is very frustrating the the proponentsists of ID refuse to be pinned down to any definition, but always claim that, no, it’s really something else, and that no one seems to understand it “correctly.”
ID claims it is a scientific theory. If it claims this, then it must frame its definition as such.[1] Specifically, so that it can be tested and so that it is capable of making predictions from within itself.
Science never claims absolute truth, but only support by the available evidence and the ability to make fruitfuul predictions. The more evidence, the more confidence we have in the theory. For this purpose, it matters little how you define “science.”[2]
On the other hand, design may be true but not scientific. True in the sense of, say, a religious paradigm. But not scientific because it leads to no further knowledge or control of the world around us.
======================
[1] E.g., “Tabouleh salad is good to eat” is not a scientific theory.
[2] You might wish to review the subject of Wittgensteinian language games here
[3] “I like tabouleh salad” is true, but is still not a scientific theory.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 3:07 pm


Olorin wrote:
“This is a classic argument of the Discovery Institute. It neatly avoids having to respond to any argument, without the inconvenience of supplying any particulars.”
Oh pulleeeeeaze! This is a standard mode of DARWINISTS argumentation, the classic example being:
“Intelligent design isn’t science because only naturalistic explanations are acceptable.”
Note the contrived attempt to “define science” in order to rule out intelligent causes a priori. “It neatly avoids having to respond to any argument, without the inconvenience of supplying any particulars”. I thought that scientists were supposed to do science and that defining science was the kind of things philosophers worry about. The problem is that philosophers of science have repeatedly failed to come up with a definition of “science”, which would exclude pseudo-sciences (such as astrology or evolutionary psychology), while simultaneously retaining the portions of science considered to be sound. They also realise that historically, too much good science has been performed without the assumption of naturalism.
Olorin wrote:
“The broad outlines of evolution are simply stated. Organisms change over time, and are descended from one or a few ancestors.”
Your HOPELESSLY VAGUE definition of evolution is consistent with the belief of many ID proponents and some creationists. The claim that “Organisms change over time, and are descended from one or a few ancestors.” is consistent with the biblical creation story of Adam and Eve giving rise to the different human races – a fact that no fundamentalist Christian disputes. Nor would there be much dispute that this minor sub-specific variation could be accounted by naturalistic mechanisms such as RM and NS. If I were to be more charitable and assume you were meaning fuul blown common ancestry, this is consistent with ID and with some versions of old earth creationism. So the first part of your impressive definition of Darwinian evolution is perfectly consistent with the idea of guided creation.
Olorin wrote:
“The theory of evolution, that is, its physical model or mechanism, was first posited by Darwin”
No it wasn’t. It is often said that evolution was “in the air” during the years prior to the publication of On the Origin of Species. In reality-it wasn’t in the air-it was in books. Had the Origin of Species not been written, a theory of evolution by natural selection (approximating to that provided by Darwin and Wallace), could have been produced by any naturalist using the literature already published up to 1857, and neither Darwin, nor Alfred Russel Wallace, originated the ideas published in the Origin.
http://wainwrightscience.blogspot.com/2008/07/its-not-darwins-or-wallaces-theory.html
You will be telling me next that until Darwin went to the Galapagos, he was a devout bible believer and that everyone was going around happily believing in a 6000 year old earth!
Besides, nowadays, evolutionary theory is a hodge podge of mechanisms from which the Darwinists can select those that best ACCOMMODATE the evidence. They can also argue over the relative importance of different mechanisms interminably (in ways which appear scientific to outsiders), but nothing is ever settled by these debates and no predictions result.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Olorin wrote:
“You can look in vain for a definition of intelligent design as a scientific theory in this manner.”
Here’ a definition of ID.
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.
Olorin wrote:
“Intelligent design seeks to find natural objects that contain the same final conditions, or physical histories, as objects that science knows were intelligently designed, based upon our observation of intelligent agency in the natural world.” That’s a promise, not a theory.
WE PROMISE THAT OUR NATURALISTIC APPROACH WILL ONE DAY ACCOUNT FOR EVERYTHING IF YOU JUST GIVE US ENOUGH TIME AND MONEY. HONEST GOV. EVERYTHING FROM THE BIG BANG TO MICROBES TO LITTLE PEOPLE ARGUING ABOUT THEIR ORIGINS. WE MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS NOW BUT TRUST US AND BE PATIENT UNTIL ………………………….
…..Naturalism is an entirely open ended project which refuses to entertain even the suggestion that their may be fundamental limitations to the scope of the naturalistic paradigm. If we assume for a moment that there really are some non-natural phenomena in the universe, then naturalism would view them (incorrectly) as research problems, rather than as paradigm problems. ID makes its assessment of the likelihood that naturalism is sufficient based on the best evidence we currently have. It does not base everything on the promise of future breakthroughs.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm


Olorin wrote:
“So intelligent design is an inference, from the strength of empirical knowledge alone, that specific phenomena are caused by intelligence, and that these phenomena are better studied as instances of design.” That’s an analogy, not a mechanism.
ID is a broader category of science than the Darwinian theory. It does not refute Darwinism in the way that Darwinists could tolerate i.e. by the production of a superior naturalistic mechanism, but by showing that NO NATURALISTIC MECHANISM IS SUFFICIENT TO PRODUCE CSI. Darwinists (including Darwin himself) have entertained a variety of mechanisms in the past, but the ND mechanism has gradually triumphed. If there were any other naturalistic mechanisms which claim to produce new information, I believe they would likely be on the table by now. Ask yourself this. Given that NOTHING in biology is simple, what makes you think that origin of species, with their unfathomable complexity and diversity, should ever be fully explicable by the simplistic mechanism of RM and NS. RM and NS is only good for tinkering with existing systems.
A completely new paradigm is required to pursue science. Not just because of the failing of materialistic science in biology, but in other areas such as neuroscience. Their will be some overlap with the questions that the old paradigm posed, but not a complete overlap. ID will emphasise what we can discover about the way the world is working now, and speculations of how it got there in the first place will need to wait till more evidence is in. In the mean time, no Darwin-of-the-gaps arguments about the uselessness of vestigial organs or junk DNA will be advanced. Darwinists did it the wrong way round. They started with the speculations and then attempted to shoehorn the evidence to support those speculations.
Olorin wrote:
“Theories have models: gravitation has “forces”, quantum theory proposes “orbits”, chemistry “bonds” that obey prescribed configurations. ID has an “intelligence,” which according to ID cannot be identified, analysed, or otherwise crammed into “natural” laws—by definition!”
I noticed that you omitted Darwinism from the above list. This is wise, because the above examples are based on repeatable empirical demonstrations. This would be in contrast to Darwinism which is an historical science. Consequently it makes claims about one off, unrepeatable events, the major conclusions being based on the consensus of a group of self selecting “experts”.
ID proponents argue that in addition to matter and energy operating blindly, information must be also be considered to be a fundamental property of nature. When you introduce a fundamentally new entity, of course you have to argue that it is not reducible to matter/energy and chance. As I have said: Darwinists need to roll their sleeves up and start getting their hands dirty by making some real demonstration of what RM and NS can achieve. Until they do this, ID is clearly the simplest and best answer we have. The balls in your court.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 3:21 pm


Olorin wrote:
“–but only detected. Suppose that the “force” of gravitation could not be limited or measured. How much use would Newton’s theory have? “
By what measure can genetic information be quantified. Why is this the principle concern of ID theorists and not every Darwinist. Why are ID theorists so interested in exactly what NDE can really be shown to produce. Why do Darwinists attack researchers like Behe for asking these questions? In what way can the fundamental unit of NDE be measured and quantified i.e. the rate at which RM and NS can generate new information in a given situation? Where is the classic experiment comparable to the measurement of gravity? Why don’t I know about it? How much information is the human species accumulating per generation?
BTW more to come.



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Jim

posted August 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm


Olorin: “ID claims it is a scientific theory. If it claims this, then it must frame its definition as such.[1] Specifically, so that it can be tested and so that it is capable of making predictions from within itself.”
If you’d like to acquaint yourself with predictions ID makes and with ways ID can be tested, take David’s challenge and read “Signature in the Cell.”



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm


Olorin wrote:
Design proposes no“mechanism,” but only an analog to something else. The analogy may be good or bad, but it is not a mechanism. And only models or mechanisms can be tested by the scientific method.
All that the scientific method requires is that we generate hypotheses with testable and repeatable consequences, although these requirements have been severely relaxed in the case of some historical sciences such as NDE and cosmology which are routinely forced to postulate one-off, unobservable and unrepeatable events. The main claims of ID should be demonstrable by repeatable by experiments. The conservation of information hypothesis for example. Dembski’ s attempts to develop the concept of CSI as something measurable and not reducible to matter and chance may seem strange and unfamiliar, but so do all new ideas. Dembski may fail to get just the right set of criteria to identify design, but does the prospect of failure rule it out as unscientific?
To show how historical sciences routinely violate the widely understood view of the scientific method on philosophical grounds, consider the following example:
In order to resist the notion that a finely tuned universe requires a “fine-tuner”, the naturalistic scientific establishment happily entertains the idea of an UNOBSERVABLE multiverse. It postulates no experiment which could, even in principle detect the presence of a universe besides our own. It is not the evidence that drives this type of untestable speculation. Instead, this deduction is a logical inference from naturalistic philosophy. The multiverse hypothesis is a consequence of the following reasoning:
1. There is no particular reason why the fundamental constants of nature have the values they do;
2. These constants are fine tuned to a spectacularly high degree or a universe capable of supporting complex life could not exist;
3. This fine tuning is too improbable to accept chance as an explanation, IF OURS IS THE ONLY UNIVERSE.
4. DESIGN IS RULED OUT A PRIORI – Only naturalistic explanations acceptable.
Therefore:
There must be a multiverse of parallel universes with other constants of nature which did not form a viable universe. Ours just happened to be the one where everything fell good.
In short. Our universe is good, so there must be zillions of bad universes.
The same argument applies equally to Darwinian evolution. It’s main deductions, while having some empirical support, flow mainly from naturalistic philosophy.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm


Olorin wrote:
That’s why “complex specified information” is a feckless concept, no matter how elegantly it is arrayed. At bottom, it rests solely upon an analogy to human artifacts, and the analogy must be supported by independent facts.
Dembski and others are attempting to introduce the concept of CSI as being a reliable measure of intelligent activity, so that they can apply it to the genetic code. If such a measure could be found, then this would be useful to Darwinists as a demonstration of Darwinian evolution. It could effectively refute ID. The fact that the Darwinian community is so opposed to this avenue is clear evidence that they wish to avoid exposing Darwinism to refutation. You also refuse to state what it would take to convince you that the genetic code was really designed. Your answer is: no amount of evidence, because your main objections are philosophical not scientific.
The Darwinian paradigm is bankrupt for the following scientific reasons:
1. Most of Darwins original predictions have either been refuted, or have a question mark over them, or have been successively limited in scope by subsequent findings.
2. The remaining predictions/evidence is uncontroversial and subject to a wide range of alternative interpretations.
3. Darwinism has failed to anticipate new discoveries and to make make any new testable hypotheses for decades. Instead, it operates by ACCOMODATING new evidence.
4. Darwinism is a poor heuristic for guiding research, even areas such as virus and bacterial mutation.
5. A “reverse engineering” minset has largely supplanted Darwins original natural historical approach.
6. Each new discovery of life’s complexity reduces the chance of finding a naturalistic account of the origins of life. Scientists are starting to use improbability as a weapon against Darwinian speculation.
etc. etc.
Now it is running from the evidence.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:46 pm


Olorin wrote:
“On the other hand, we know that organisms are unlike anything built by humans.”
Consider this thought expt. Imagine Craig Venter manages to create a synthetic bacteria from scratch, which is practically identical to an existing bacteria. Now we are not talking analogy, we are talking identity. You will believe that the original bacteria evolved by mindless processes and the synthetic bacteria was intelligently designed. But how would you tell the difference?….other than possibly by using the ID science of design detection
Olorin wrote:
“The point is that human artifacts differ from living beings in exactly the ways that permit evolution to occur, and which prevent evolution of human-built objects: heritable variation, overfecundity, and selection for reproduction.. This is what makes design not even close to “the best explanation.””
Humans have so far failed to manufacture a self-replicating machine of the type postulated by John von Neumann and others. This says more about the horrendous technical difficulty and unfathomably complex design which would be required than it does about the analogy between human machines and living systems. This is one more argument why life did not appear by an undirected process.



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Jim

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm


Alan: “Humans have so far failed to manufacture a self-replicating machine of the type postulated by John von Neumann and others.”
Despite our rather formidable intelligence, we humans have been unable to create anything that comes even close to resembling life. Intuitively, one would think that an even greater intelligence would be required to bring into being complex biological systems, yet Darwinists opine that what is needed is not a greater intelligence, but no intelligence at all. A number of adjectives could be applied to that opinion. “Logical” is not one of them.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm


Olorin wrote:
“Would you believe that at least two teams are now on field expeditions looking for organisms that might not be descended from a common ancestor with all the others?”
Yes. I would certainly believe it. Darwinists have already prepared themselves to abandon Darwins Tree of Life by considering genetic studies. It is ironic that you are presenting the likely failures of one of Darwins strongest icons, and one of the few remaining predictions which give the theory some structure in a positive light. Dawkins was also famous for turning a liability into an asset. Perhaps when NDE really is refuted, you can come back to me and say:
“Look. NDE really was scientific SO THERE”.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 7:16 pm


Olorin wrote:
“That’s basically why I have resisted getting Meyer’s book. Nevertheless,, a reluctant copy was ordered today…….The evidence had better be there this time.”
Well done! I will need to order a copy also. I am currently struggling to get through a backlog of even the basic ID literature. But remember. Science is a thoroughly human enterprise. Choosing between paradigms involves more than a straight forward choice between two theories. Being familiar with Meyers work, I believe the evidence will be there, IF YOU ARE PREPARED TO SEE IT. Having read Behes work personally, I was surprised by the way you dismissed it, which leads me to believe that you have already made your mind up.
BTW. I would also like to get the book: Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves by Dr. James LeFanu who is an agnostic I think.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm


Olorin wrote
“The analogy is not the evidence.
Let’s turn the situation around, with evolution as defendant. Whales evolved from a land animal millions of years ago. There are fossils that “look like” primitive whales. More than look like—they have a characteristic ear structure that is found in no other line of animals. Aha—the analogy gets better and better.”
ID uses an INFERENCE to design as the BEST explanation for the sudden appearance of whole new phyla during the Cambrian explosion. It does not and cannot prove what really happened 530 million years ago. But the Darwinian explanation is a non-starter, so ID wins. Unsatisfactory as it may be, this method, also known as “the method of multiple competing hypotheses, is often the best you can do when reasoning about events in the distant past. That is why most ID reasearch concentrates on what you CAN reliably demonstrate today. Darwin used to infer to the best explanation and extolled the virtue of considering all the possibilities. An important characteristic of this method is that you should only posit causes which are currently known to produce the desired effect. In this case, that cause would be intelligence.
In the same way, the common ancestry hypothesis must be decided by weighing up the relative merits of competing explanations for the similarities between species and the pattern of nested hierarchy. Analogy is evidence, if it provides the best explanation. Darwin used analogies all the time, including the patently false analogy between “natural selection and artificial selection (aka ID). BTW The fossil record is one long argument against Darwinism. When I read “Reinventing Darwin”, by the ardent Darwinists Niles Eldredge, I new that Darwinism was finished. We can talk about the problems with the fossil record if you like.



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Alan

posted August 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm


Jim
“Intuitively, one would think that an even greater intelligence would be required to bring into being complex biological systems, yet Darwinists opine that what is needed is not a greater intelligence, but no intelligence at all. A number of adjectives could be applied to that opinion. “Logical” is not one of them.”
I love science, but I think we expect too much from scientists. Part of our unrealistic expectations is down to the view that they themselves present to the world. They are the new secular priesthood who have fought to replace an older religious order, one from which they continue to defend us. When they are not fighting for the cause of reason, they are acting as chosen intermediaries. They interpret scriptures, often written in a strange mathematical languages, with deeper meanings that only they can (by virtue of their considerable period of training and devotion) fully understand. In this way, they provide the only acceptable channel by which the layman can have access to reliable knowledge about reality. At the same time, they are rational, logical, detached and impeccably honest seekers of truth, ready to abandon their most cherished beliefs were the evidence to demand etc.
While all this is plainly nonsense, it is unfortunately widely believed nonsense. Scientists suffer from all the same flaws as the rest of us. They are human after all. They are liable to interpret the evidence to suit their philosophical preferences and to be less than honest with themselves when tempted by success or facing failure. They hate being proved wrong and often refuse to challenge the status quo through fear of being ridiculed, persecuted or isolated by their peers. They frequently allow theological considerations to affect their scientific judgement, and this is particularly prevalent in Darwinism. This behaviour is normal for humans, if not ideal, but it can profoundly affect the way that scientists perceive the world and interpret the data.



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Olorin

posted August 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm


Alan, the bad news is that everything in your comment of August 1, 2009 3:07 PM is wrong.
The good news is that it’s all wrong for the same reason. You need to understand the difference between “fact” and “theory” as science uses these terms. Wikipedia might be a good place to start, but remember you’ll have to avoid cherry-picking from the definitions and characteristics.
In that regard, it would also be worthwhile to understand the difference between science and apologetics.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 1, 2009 at 9:08 pm


Alan:First, you must rule out any known natural law as a possible cause.
EXACTLY. Note that this is a much higher standard of proof than “I can’t think of a natural law that could do this.” You have to prove that it COULDN’T (or couldn’t with a probability more than 10^-150, if you prefer). Despite what you’ve said earlier, you CAN (mathematically) prove a negative; you can prove that there is no highest prime number, or that there is no trajectory in an inverse square force field that is not a conic section. BUT YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.
Shallitt and Elsberry note a list of items that Dembski claims exhibit CSI:
1. 16-digit numbers on VISA cards
2. phone numbers
3. all the numbers on our bills, credit slips and purchase orders
4. the sequence corresponding to a Shakespearean sonnet
5. Arthur Rubinstein’s performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody
6. Most human artifacts, from Shakespearean sonnets to Durer woodcuts to Cray supercomputers
7. scrabble pieces spelling words
8. DNA
9. error-counting function in an evolution simulation
10. a fitness measure that gauges degree of catalytic function
11. the fitness function that prescribes optimal antenna performance
12. coordination of local fitness functions
13. what “anthropic principles” explain in fine-tuning arguments
14. fine-tuning of cosmological constants
15. what David Bohm’s “quantum potentials” extract in the way of “active information”
16. “the key feature of life that needs to be explained”
They comment:…although the decision about whether something possesses CSI appears to require at the very least a choice of probability space, a probability estimate, a discussion of relevant background knowledge, an independence calculation, a rejection
function, and a rejection region, none of these have been provided for any of the items on this list.

All Dembski does is ASSERT that he has a test for design; ASSERT that things known, for other reasons, to have been designed pass his test for design; and ASSERT that DNA also tests positive for design, without attempting to do any of the calculations which you and I, Alan, spent so much time discussing.
In addition, Dembski claims that CIS is “holistic” based on a trivial calculation error (he calculates the CSI of a sentence, compares it to the CIS of the component words, and forgets to account for the spaces between the words). He equivocates about what exactly CSI means, claiming at some points that CSI is equivalent to other measures of information in the literature and at some points that it is different. He isn’t consistent about probability distributions; most of the time he uses uniform probability distributions even when binomial or Poisson or Gaussian distributions seem clearly appropriate, but much of the time neglects them altogether. Sometimes he takes causal history into account when talking about CSI, and sometimes he assumes a uniform probability distribution and ignores the causal history–even in the very same example (Dawkins’ “Weasel” program).
This is why the man has published only one peer-reviewed paper. He is writing for an audience with little mathematical background, because they can’t spot his mistakes and equivocations.
If he were seriously the “Isaac Newton of information theory”, as DI claims, then why doesn’t he publish in the math and statistics journals? If his math is right, it’s right, whatever the consequences for evolution by natural selection might be.
But he doesn’t, because a) you have to pay to publish in journals, whereas writing popular books guarantees sales through conservative book clubs and such (I belonged to one for a few years), and b) mathematicians are critical of his mathematical ideas (for example, Wolpert, one of the coauthors of the No Free Lunch theorems, says that Dembski doesn’t apply them correctly, and that “..the values of the factors arising in the NFL theorems are never properly specified in his analysis. More generally, no consideration is given to whether some of the free lunches in the geometry of induction might be more relevant than the NFL theorems.”)
So, there is little point in your saying that DNA exhibits CSI and must therefore have been designed. You’ve never done the work to show that DNA has CSI and you’ve never made the definition of CSI rigorous enough to apply it to anything.



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Jim

posted August 1, 2009 at 9:44 pm


Olorin: “Alan, the bad news is that everything in your comment of August 1, 2009 3:07 PM is wrong.”
Among other things, Alan said that philosophers of science have been unable to define science in a way that clearly demarks it from pseudo-science or non-science. Rather than being “wrong” in making that claim, he was quite right. I refer you to philosopher of science Larry Laudan’s seminal essay titled “The Demise of the Demarcation Problem,” which appears in “But Is It Science?,” edited by Robert Pennock and Michael Ruse. In the conclusion of his essay, Laudan writes:
“Through certain vagaries of history…we have managed to conflate two quite distinct questions: What makes a belief well founded (or heuristically fertile)? And what makes a belief scientific? The first set of questions is philosophically interesting and possibly even tractable; the second question is both uninteresting and, judging by its checkered past, intractable. If we would stand up and be counted on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like ‘pseudo-science’ and ‘unscientific’ from our vocabulary; they are just hollow phrases which do only emotive work for us….Insofar as our concern is to protect ourselves and our fellows from the cardinal sin of believing what we wish were so rather than what there is substantial evidence for (and surely that is what most forms of ‘quackery’ come down to), then our focus should be squarely on the empirical and conceptual credentials for claims about the world. The ‘scientific’ status of those claims is altogether irrelevant.”
I recommend Laudan’s essay, which can be found using the “look inside this book” feature of amazon.com



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Jim

posted August 1, 2009 at 9:58 pm


Gabriel Hanna: “All Dembski does is ASSERT that he has a test for design; ASSERT that things known, for other reasons, to have been designed pass his test for design; and ASSERT that DNA also tests positive for design, without attempting to do any of the calculations which you and I, Alan, spent so much time discussing.”
Suggested reading: “No Free Lunch, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence,” wherein Dembski makes the kind of calculations you assert he fails to make. The book, by the way, was peer-reviewed prior to publication.



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Olorin

posted August 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm


Alan (August 1, 2009 7:16 PM) : “Well done! I will need to order a copy also. I am currently struggling to get through a backlog of even the basic ID literature.”
Having followed pseudo-science in general and creationism in particular for a long time,[1] I remember when the goal was to convince scientists with purely scientific arguments. The Wedge promised 100 reviewed papers and 30 scholarly books in five years. Never got off the ground. Since Kitzmiller in 2005, in fact, even the pretense of doing new, original research has sloughed away.
So I see this as the latest in a long string of attempts not so much to convince knowledgeable scientists, but to dazzle the layman with sciency buzzwords and strings of equations. Meyer has not done a shtick of original research in his life. Dembski has never published a single reviewed paper on coding theory, information theory in general, or in any other field of mathematics. Meyer has promised this book for s e v e n years without any indication along the way as to where he’s going or what progress he’s made. That is why I “reluctantly” ordered the book.
Here’s a book that you might want to read. “Voodoo Science” was written by Robert Parks, a UMD physics professor who was for many years the American Physical Society’s representative[2] in Washington. From a first-hand knowledge of a large number of p-baked (p



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Olorin

posted August 1, 2009 at 11:13 pm


Jim (August 1, 2009 9:58 PM): “Suggested reading: “No Free Lunch, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence,” wherein Dembski makes the kind of calculations you assert he fails to make. The book, by the way, was peer-reviewed prior to publication.”
Wrong and wrong. Dembski has never applied CSI calculations to specific systems for testing false positives or false negatives. Dembski has even admitted CSI may produce many false positives.
And the book was never peer-reviewed. No trade book is peer-reviewed. “On the Origin of Species” was not peer-reviewed. (Although the research that went into it had been circulated and reviewed previously.)
One thing to remember about mathematics is that it follows the first law of programming: GIGO. If the initial assumptions (axioms) are not supported by evidence, the results (proof) fails.[1]
================
[1] Remember that this is the vehicle that creationists use to attack evolutionary simulations—not the math but the assumptions were wrong. So be careful not to drive this argument off a cliff.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 1, 2009 at 11:50 pm


Jim: Suggested reading: “No Free Lunch, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence,” wherein Dembski makes the kind of calculations you assert he fails to make. The book, by the way, was peer-reviewed prior to publication.
Many of the examples I posted came from that book, and it was NOT peer-reviewed.
Surely you can name the “peer reviewers” and their relevant qualifications?
Even if you can, there is no way to “peer-review” a book to the same level that a journal paper–which Dembski refuses to publish–is reviewed. And one reason why Dembski refuses to publish in journals.
When an expert mathematician, like Wolpert, who publishes many papers, gets around to reading Dembski’s work and criticizes it, Dembski does not respond. (I quoted part of Wolpert’s review. He is the one of the coauthors of the NFL theorems.)
He is counting on being able to fool you, Jim, because you don’t know any math.
It is much like saying, “Sir, (ax +b) ^ q = y, therefore God exists”. Experts are not fooled by this, laymen can be.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 2, 2009 at 12:01 am


Wolpert’s review, published in Mathematical Review, can be found here:
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/jello.cfm
Here is an excerpt. Note that Wolpert is hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism”, acknowledges that criticism of evolution is a proper subject of scientific inquiry–AND he points out what Dembski would need to prove for his criticism of evolution to be valid. He ALSO shows that Dembski does not bother to do this.
…according to these theorems there is no free lunch; without tailoring one’s algorithm to the domain at hand, one has no assurances that that algorithm will perform well on that domain.
I say Dembski “attempts to” turn this trick because despite his invoking the NFL theorems, his arguments are fatally informal and imprecise. Like monographs on any philosophical topic in the first category, Dembski’s is written in jello. There simply is not enough that is firm in his text, not sufficient precision of formulation, to allow one to declare unambiguously ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when reading through the argument. All one can do is squint, furrow one’s brows, and then shrug…
In particular, in defending neo-Darwinism, no admission is allowed that different scientific disciplines simply cannot reach the same level of certainty in their conclusions due to intrinsic differences in the accessibility of the domains they study.
This intrinsic lower certainty of neo-Darwinism than (for example) that of quantum electrodynamics means that there is legitimate room for disputation concerning the history of biology on Earth. So if Dembski had managed to use the geometry of induction properly to quantify that some search algorithm occurring in the biological world had, somehow, worked better than all but the fraction 10^{-50} (say) of alternative algorithms, then there would be a major mystery concerning the modern biological mantra. This would be true regardless of whether neo-Darwinists had performed the proper rituals in settling on that mantra.
However, Dembski does not do this. The values of the factors arising in the NFL theorems are never properly specified in his analysis. More generally, no consideration is given to whether some of the free lunches in the geometry of induction might be more relevant than the NFL theorems (e.g., those free lunches concerning “head-to-head minimax” distinctions that concern pairs of algorithms considered together rather than single algorithms considered in isolation).
Indeed, throughout there is a marked elision of the formal details of the biological processes under consideration. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is that neo-Darwinian evolution of ecosystems does not involve a set of genomes all searching the same, fixed fitness function, the situation considered by the NFL theorems. Rather it is a co-evolutionary process. Roughly speaking, as each genome changes from one generation to the next, it modifies the surfaces that the other genomes are searching. And recent results indicate that NFL results do not hold in co-evolution.
It may well be that there is a major mystery underlying the performance of some search processes that one might impute to the historical transformations of ecosystems. But Dembski has not established this, not by a long shot.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 2, 2009 at 12:07 am


Jim: More on Dembski, from Mark Perakh:
Dembski pretends that Wolpert’s critique does not exist.
Dembski has behaved similarly in a number of other situations. For example, the extensive index in his latest book “The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design” completely omits the names of most of the prominent critics of Dembski’s ideas. We don’t see in that index the following names: Rich Baldwin, Eli Chiprout, Taner Edis, Ellery Eels, Branden Fitelson, Philip Kitcher, Peter Milne, Massimo Pigliucci, Del Ratzsch, Jeff Shallit, Niall Shanks, Jordan H. Sobel, Jason Rosenhouse, Christopher Stephenson, Richard Wein, and Matt Young. All these writers have analyzed in detail Dembski’s literary output and demonstrated multiple errors, fallacious concepts and inconsistencies which are a trademark of his prolific production. (I have not mentioned myself in this list although I have extensively criticized Dembski both in web postings and in print; he never uttered a single word in response to my critique, while it is known for fact that he is familiar with my critique; the above list shows that I am in good company.)
There is a reason Dembski acts like this, Jim; he knows he can say whatever he wants about math and science to laymen, but he can’t get away with it where his peers are concerned.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 2, 2009 at 12:29 am


From Kitzmiller vs. Dover:
This inference to design based upon the appearance of a “purposeful arrangement of parts” is a completely subjective proposition, determined in the eye of each beholder and his/her viewpoint concerning the complexity of a system. Although both Professors Behe and Minnich assert that there is a quantitative aspect to the inference, on cross-examination they admitted that there is no quantitative criteria for determining the degree of complexity or number of parts that bespeak design, rather than a natural process.
Dembski withdrew the day before he was to testify, so we don’t know what he might have said, but it seems that as far as CSI and design are concerned, Behe and Minnich agree with me and Olorin.



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Jim

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:02 am


Gabriel Hanna: “They comment:…although the decision about whether something possesses CSI appears to require at the very least a choice of probability space, a probability estimate, a discussion of relevant background knowledge, an independence calculation, a rejection function, and a rejection region, none of these have been provided for any of the items on this list.”
All of the criteria listed are useful in assessing whether chance, necessity, or design best explains a particular instance of CSI. None of the criteria is needed to decide that something possesses CSI. Shallitt and Elsberry have apparently failed to understand Dembski’s argument.
Gabriel Hanna: “(Dembski) equivocates about what exactly CSI means, claiming at some points that CSI is equivalent to other measures of information in the literature and at some points that it is different.”
Rather than equivocating, Dembski distinguishes CSI from mere Shannon information to clarify both its meaning and its significance.
Gabriel Hanna: “You’ve never done the work to show that DNA has CSI and you’ve never made the definition of CSI rigorous enough to apply it to anything.”
I’m not a scientist, so it’s not surprising that I haven’t done the work you insist I must do. But if you will take David’s challenge and read “Signature in the Cell,” you will find that such work has been done by others.
Gabriel Hanna: “Many of the examples I posted came from (‘No Free Lunch’), and it was NOT peer-reviewed.”
You’re right. I was thinking of Dembski’s “The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge University Press, 1998), which was peer-reviewed.
Gabriel Hanna: “When an expert mathematician, like Wolpert, who publishes many papers, gets around to reading Dembski’s work and criticizes it, Dembski does not respond.”
From an interview with Dembski:
http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1438
CA: Your critics (such as Wein, Perakh, Shallit, Elsberry, Wolpert and others) seem unsatisfied with your work. They charge your work as being somewhat esoteric and lacking intellectual rigor. What do you say to that charge?
WD: Most of these critics are responding to my book No Free Lunch. As I explained in the preface of that book, its aim was to provide enough technical details so that experts could fill in details, but enough exposition so that the general reader could grasp the essence of my project. The book seems to have succeeded with the general reader and with some experts, though mainly with those who were already well-disposed toward ID. In any case, it became clear after that publication of that book that I would need to fill in the mathematical details myself, something I have been doing right along (see my articles described under “mathematical foundations of intelligent design” at http://www.designinference.com) and which has now been taken up in earnest in a collaboration with my friend and Baylor colleague Robert Marks at his Evolutionary Informatics Lab (www.EvoInfo.org).
CA: Are you evading the tough questions?
WD: Of course not. But tough questions take time to answer, and I have been patiently answering them. I find it interesting now that I have started answering the critics’ questions with full mathematical rigor (see the publications page at http://www.EvoInfo.org) that they are largely silent. Jeff Shallit, for instance, when I informed him of some work of mine on the conservation of information told me that he refuse to address it because I had not adequately addressed his previous objections to my work, though the work on conservation of information about which I was informing him was precisely in response to his concerns. Likewise, I’ve interacted with Wolpert. Once I started filling in the mathematical details of my work, however, he fell silent.



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Jim

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:20 am


Gabriel Hanna: “From Kitzmiller vs. Dover:
‘This inference to design based upon the appearance of a “purposeful arrangement of parts” is a completely subjective proposition, determined in the eye of each beholder and his/her viewpoint concerning the complexity of a system. Although both Professors Behe and Minnich assert that there is a quantitative aspect to the inference, on cross-examination they admitted that there is no quantitative criteria for determining the degree of complexity or number of parts that bespeak design, rather than a natural process.’”
One could write with equal cogency that they (meaning advocates of Darwinian evolution) admit that there is no quantitative criteria for determining the degree of complexity or number of parts that bespeak a natural process, rather than design. There is nothing unusual about either situation. Unlike, say, physics, biology is not the kind of science that draws its inferences from precise “quantitative criteria.” The “quantitative aspect” to a design inference is not something that can be nailed down with absolute precision, which is not to say that design inferences have no quantitative support. Behe and Minnich were simply admitting to the obvious, which ID critics took to be a significant concession. It wasn’t.



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Jim

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:27 am


I previously wrote: “All of the criteria listed are useful in assessing whether chance, necessity, or design best explains a particular instance of CSI. None of the criteria is needed to decide that something possesses CSI.”
I’d amend that to say that a calculation of probability is useful in deciding that a piece of information is complex. Also, if by “independence calculation,” Shallitt and Elsberry mean that it is necessary to show that a piece of information conforms to an independently given specification to establish the presence of CSI, then a “calculation” of that sort is also useful.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 2, 2009 at 9:13 am


None of the criteria is needed to decide that something possesses CSI. Shallitt and Elsberry have apparently failed to understand Dembski’s argument.
Shallitt is an expert in information theory. You are not. Yet Dembski makes perfect sense to you, and they are unable to understand him? I think the more probable explanation is that you are taken in by Dembski, and they are not, because they are experts and you are not.
Rather than equivocating, Dembski distinguishes CSI from mere Shannon information to clarify both its meaning and its significance.
You say this. Mathematicians and information theorists say that Dembski mixes up Shannon information and Kolmogorov complexity with his CSI. Why do we take your word over theirs?
At any rate, why is he calculating the logarithms of probabilities and calling the answer “CSI”? He uses Shannon information when it suits him, and discards it when it doesn’t.
You’re right. I was thinking of Dembski’s “The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge University Press, 1998), which was peer-reviewed.
No, it wasn’t. Who were the reviewers and what are their qualifcations? Were they information theorists? Were they biologists? Philosophers? Why don’t you find out and tell us?
I’d amend that to say that a calculation of probability is useful in deciding that a piece of information is complex.
According to Dembski it is REQUIRED. I thought you’d read the book?
But what happens once some causal mechanism is found that accounts for a given instance of specified complexity? Something that is specified and complex is highly improbable with respect to all causal mechanisms currently known. Consequently, for a causal mechanism to come along and explain something that previously was regarded as specified and complex means that the item in question is in fact no longer specified and complex with respect to the newly found causal mechanism.
Dembski’s own words, as I have quoted them in multiple posts, refute you. You only repeat your assertions because you don’t understand what Dembski says or why it is wrong.
He tell you what you want to hear dressed up in pseudo-mathematical language, and you haven’t the education to understand what he’s saying.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 2, 2009 at 9:26 am


Some more of Dembski’s own words:
http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000006139.cfm
I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_A._Dembski
Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.
Of course this is one more reason why Dembski writes popular books, and not mathematics papers for peer-reviewed journals. And this explains the equivocation. He is trying to dress up “In the Beginning was the Word” in a bunch of mathematical symbols and language.
Mathematicians care if you got the math right. Jim wants to hear “In the Beginning was the Word”. Jim will put cash in Dembski’s pocket to hear his religion dressed up as science. Mathematics journals will not.



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Jim

posted August 2, 2009 at 9:56 am


Jim: “Rather than equivocating, Dembski distinguishes CSI from mere Shannon information to clarify both its meaning and its significance.”
Gabriel Hanna: “You say this. Mathematicians and information theorists say that Dembski mixes up Shannon information and Kolmogorov complexity with his CSI. Why do we take your word over theirs?”
It’s not a matter of taking anyone’s word. It’s simply a matter of recognizing that CSI is a subset of Shannon information, that is to say, all information can be categorized as Shannon information, but only meaningful information can be categorized as CSI.
Jim: “You’re right. I was thinking of Dembski’s ‘The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities’ (Cambridge University Press, 1998), which was peer-reviewed.”
Gabriel Hanna: “No, it wasn’t. Who were the reviewers and what are their qualifcations?”
I’ll let Dembski answer.
http://www.discovery.org/a/1621
“…The Design Inference was published by Cambridge University Press as part of a Cambridge monograph series: Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory. … Academic monograph series, like the Cambridge series that published my book, have an academic review board that is structured and functions identically to the review boards of academic journals. At the time of my book’s publication, the review board for Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory included members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as one Nobel laureate, John Harsanyi, who shared the prize in 1994 with John Nash, the protagonist in the film A Beautiful Mind. As it is, The Design Inference had to pass peer-review with three anonymous referees before Brian Skyrms, who heads the academic review board for this Cambridge series, would recommend it for publication to the Cambridge University Press editors in New York. Brian Skyrms is on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine as well as a member of the National Academic of Sciences. It is easy enough to confirm what I’m saying here by contacting him.”
It’s contrary to the refereeing process to release the names of anonymous reviewers.
Jim: “I’d amend that to say that a calculation of probability is useful in deciding that a piece of information is complex.”
Gabriel Hanna: “According to Dembski it is REQUIRED. I thought you’d read the book?”
I have, which is why I amended what I said. If you want to split hairs over “useful” and “required,” so be it. But such pedantic nit-picking hardly contributes in any substantive way to a debate.
Gabriel Hanna: “(Dembski) tell you what you want to hear dressed up in pseudo-mathematical language, and you haven’t the education to understand what he’s saying.”
Since your interest has turned to insulting me, I’ve lost interest in what you have to say.



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Jim

posted August 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm


From Wm. Dembski’s blog “Uncommon Descent”….
23 June 2005
Now and again people write me about why I have not responded at length to Jeffrey Shallit’s criticisms of my work. Here is an explanation that I sent off today to a colleague:
Dear [snip],
I’m afraid I don’t take Shallit very seriously as a critic. It is his habit to harrass anyone who endorses my work (including a mathematician at Oxford and an engineer on the faculty at Sydney, questioning not only their competence to assess my work but also their ethics in endorsing it).
His criticisms tend to focus on trivialities (he spent three years trying to show that a quote widely attributed to Schopenhauer that I cited in my work was not actually written by Schopenhauer — for the quote, go here). As for some number about which he keeps harping that I miscalculated in my book No Free Lunch, it turns out that when it is calculated correctly, it makes my case even more strongly. There are plenty worse to be found in the literature, as for instance the gaffe early on in Simon Conway Morris’s book Life’s Solution, in which exponent and base are reversed (p, 9). I doubt that Shallit has contacted Conway Morris about this.
Shallit, besides his obsessiveness in criticizing my work and harrassing those who endorse it, seems also to have no compunction in doing things that are frankly unethical. Thus, for instance, when I was co-editing a book for Cambridge University Press with Michael Ruse titled Debating Design, he wrote to Michael asking that an article of his be inserted in the book without my knowledge — in fact, he explicitly asked Michael not to reveal Shallit’s intentions to me. Michael, appropriately, forwarded Shallit’s letter to me, so I have the documentation.
Most significantly, Shallit’s critique of my work (along with that of his collaborator Wesley Elsberry) is now several years out of date. I just posted on my designinference.com website a paper on specification that moves the topic forward. Several months ago I posted a paper titled “Searching Large Spaces” that fills in the mathematical details of chapter 4 of No Free Lunch. When I informed Shallit of its existence on my website, he wrote back: “I do not intend to waste my time finding more errors in more work of yours.”
The irony is that Shallit and Elsberry are making a name for themselves by parasitizing my work. Shallit has published one lengthy peer-reviewed article criticizing my work and has another under submission (coauthored with Wesley Elsberry) titled “Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski’s ‘Complex Specified Information’.” That article first appeared on the web in November 2003 and is under submission with some journal (Shallit and Elsberry are not divulging which). That paper is now completely out of date.
Best wishes,
Bill Dembski



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Olorin

posted August 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm


Alan (August 1, 2009 3:14 PM): “Olorin wrote ‘You can look in vain for a definition of intelligent design as a scientific theory in this manner.’ Here’ a definition of ID. ‘The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause,’”[1]
Read the second part of my request: “as a scientific theory in this manner” You gave a definition of ID as a (proposed) fact, not as a theory. Let’s reword my definition of evolution qua fact slightly in order to lay them end-to-end: “The fact of evolution holds that certain features of living things are best explained by a natural cause.”
Both of these are (proposed) facts, such as “all lawn flamingos are pink.” Facts might be true or false, but they are not models or mechanisms that serve to explain a bunch of other facts, or to link observed facts to each other. Or to predict facts not yet observed. Or to propose how to control the phenomenon represented by the fact.[2]
That’s why science only progresses on the backs of theories—models and mechanisms of how facts are linked within its framework, in what way we can predict new unobserved facts, and ultimately how to manipulate the phenomenon so as to produce desired applications.
But there is no “theory” of design in this sense. If your goal is only something you can believe in, then apparently you’re good to go. But, if you want to be sciency, then you have to propose a theory.[3][4]
==============
[1] The rest of the definition merely say what ID is not {“not an undirected process such as natural selection”)., what ID claims to be able to do (“Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, Through the study and analysis of a system’s components,”), how its research might be carried out (“Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act.”), and closes with a logical fallacy (“Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.”).
Just in case you didn’t recognize it, the fallacy is called affirming thre consequent. That is, “All known intelligently designed systems have CSI” does not logically imply that “All systems having CSI are intelligently designed.” Dembski’s entire information-theoretical framework ultimately rests upon this foundation. So you might understand why I tend to skip the lectures on exactly how to define CSI. (His explanatory filter is a separate subject. Briefly, it rests upon the fallacy of false dichotomy.)
[2] There is, however one useful scientific aspect of a “fact” such as related by the above definitions. The fact of evolution can lead a researcher to determine what the “natural cause” of evolution might be, and to investigate its characteristics, attributes, and limits. But THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT ID REFUSES TO DO for its “intelligent cause.” Dembski especially is firmly anchored in this harbor. The identity, nature, and any other attributes of the intelligent cause are off limits, beyond the scope of science, he thunders. Imagine what would happen if biologists were to rest smugly on a position that the causes of evolution are beyond investigation. Imagine your reaction, as a Devoted Darwin Doubter!
[3] Remember poor Alfie Wegener. He had lots of facts, many provocative inferences. But the only theory he could produce was a lame attempt at fingering winds and tides for continental drift. Geologists did not dispute his facts, and wondered whether there might be some connection. But they justifiably derided this theory. He had not shown HOW this effect could occur. Fifty years later, the mechanism of plate tectonics slid into view, and Wegener’s facts then had an adequate model that could be investigated.
Lest you derive comfort from the success stroy, and say, yes, Galil–uh—Wegener was ultimately right, and so shall ID be vindicated bye and bye, consider N-rays. Blondlot’s observational facts could not be linked or organized into a model. He could never predict which materials would produce the rays, in what quantity, or under what circumstances. Therefore he could not repeat or manipulate the rays. Sort of like intelligent design.
[4] Lawyers perform the same exercise. You have a bunch of facts, and you want to persuade the judge that those facts support the conclusion that you desire. What you have to do is to build a “theory of the case.” Some way to link the facts together so that they all point in the direction of the conclusion, that any newly discovered facts can be accommodated, and that are consistent with other legal theories that have been successful in the past.



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Olorin

posted August 2, 2009 at 5:45 pm


Jim (August 2, 2009 2:03 PM): “Now and again people write me [Dembski] about why I have not responded at length to Jeffrey Shallit’s criticisms of my work. Here is an explanation that I sent off today to a colleague:”
IOW, Dembski doesn’t like peer review. But we already know that. He has said he can make more money with less hassle by publishing books. The problem is, he won’t get any scientists to believe him with that program.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm


Olorin
Dear Olorin. I note that you have refused to address any of my replies to your posts of July 30/31, 2009 12:11 AM with arguments. That’s not to say that you haven’t written plenty since. Just nothing that addresses my rebuttals. You make a few assertions:
“Alan, the bad news is that everything in your comment of August 1, 2009 3:07 PM is wrong…..You need to understand the difference between “fact” and “theory” as science uses these terms ……. In that regard, it would also be worthwhile to understand the difference between science and apologetics.”
But no arguments. Please post them. I’m waiting.
Olorin wrote:
“Having followed pseudo-science in general and creationism in particular for a long time.”
Can you clarify which pseudo-scientific theories you are referring to. Could it be the Marxism, Freudianism, Darwinism triplet by any chance. Interestingly, Darwinism is the odd one out as it has yet to be subject to a thoroughgoing critique, but that time is coming. Soon.
Olorin wrote:
“I remember when the goal was to convince scientists with purely scientific arguments.”
Do you? I don’t remember this personally. ID proponents have always appreciated the wider philosophical and theological implications of ID and Darwinian evolution.
Olorin wrote:
“The Wedge promised 100 reviewed papers and 30 in five years. Never got off the ground.”
Lets set aside the fact that we’re debating on this blog because of the publication of Meyers latest “scholarly book”, and assume your assertion is true for the moment. The fact that an overambitious target might have been set disproves ID because…… ? I remember the old days when Darwinists used to claim that no real scientist believes in ID; that no peer reviewed ID literature exist and that there was no original ID research.
Each ID proponent who “comes out” and each peer reviewed paper that manages to navigate the oppressive peer review system, and each piece of new ID research, is a nail in the coffin of this persistent myth. Now Darwinists have been forced to move the goal posts and are attacking the AMOUNT of scientists who support ID, the AMOUNT of peer reviewed ID literature and the AMOUNT of original ID research, rather than their absence. With each advance, Darwinists are forced to retreat further and further from claims that are essentially irrelevant to the central question of whether ID is true.
Olorin wrote:
“I have a first edition of Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial” (Wait…. was there a second edition?) and about a dozen others, including ‘the recent “Design of Life.” And have read most of the rest at one time or another.”
Jim has already addressed this point:
“Ouch. That means your persistent misrepresentations of ID arise either from dishonesty or from your failure to understand what you claim to have read.”



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“Despite what you’ve said earlier, you CAN (mathematically) prove a negative; you can prove that there is no highest prime number, or that there is no trajectory in an inverse square force field that is not a conic section. BUT YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.”
We were talking about EMPIRICAL SCIENCE – not maths or logic. You are asserting that I implied something that I didn’t. (Look up Gödel’s incompleteness theorems for the ultimate example of proving a negative mathematically.) Now moving back to empirical science, tell me how you can ever meet Darwins challenge:
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would ultimately breakdown.”
How could you demonstrate the absence of “any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications” Behe is working towards ruling out RM and NS as a CREDIBLE SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION for the origin of complex biochemical systems, by consideration of IC and small probabilities, but he will not be able to show that it could not possibly have happened that way.
Can you prove that one could not possibly shuffle a pack of cards randomly ten times and end up with all the cards arranged in perfect order each time and then win the national lottery? Can you prove that no possible indirect Darwinian pathways exist, which could account for the emergence of an IC structure? No you can’t prove these empirical claims with 100% certainty, but you can show that probabilities are sufficiently low to rule out naturalistic explanations. Can we prove that bacteria aren’t spontaneously generating somewhere on earth, even as we speak? ID hopes to prove that naturalistic explanations are insufficient, not 100%, but with all the certainty that we can hope to have in the empirical realm.
Now Darwinists can refute ID by gradually expanding the scope of naturalistic explanations to include the production of IC structures or genetic information – BUT THEY WILL HAVE TO DO THE WORK.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 7:17 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote
“They (Shallitt and Elsberry) comment:…although the decision about whether something possesses CSI appears to require at the very least a choice of probability space, a probability estimate, a discussion of relevant background knowledge, an independence calculation, a rejection
function, and a rejection region, none of these have been provided for any of the items on this list.”
While noting Jim’s post on Shallitt and Elsberry, and their fervent crusade to destroy Dembski, lets take their claims as being true for the moment i.e. Dembski has failed to produce
“a choice of probability space, a probability estimate, a discussion of relevant background knowledge, an independence calculation, a rejection function, and a rejection region.”
Look what’s happened Gabriel. Dembski has made an empirical claim. His peers have attacked that claim, by responding with counter arguments. In doing so, they have generated a whole series of possible research avenues for Dembski to follow. Whether Dembski and co can rise to the challenge is an open question. This sounds like science to me. Several scientist could doubtless spend their lives fruitfully engaged in answering the above objections.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“In addition, Dembski claims that CIS is “holistic” based on a trivial calculation error (he calculates the CSI of a sentence, compares it to the CIS of the component words, and forgets to account for the spaces between the words). He equivocates about what exactly CSI means, claiming at some points that CSI is equivalent to other measures of information in the literature and at some points that it is different. He isn’t consistent about probability distributions; most of the time he uses uniform probability distributions even when binomial or Poisson or Gaussian distributions seem clearly appropriate, but much of the time neglects them altogether. Sometimes he takes causal history into account when talking about CSI, and sometimes he assumes a uniform probability distribution and ignores the causal history–even in the very same example (Dawkins’ “Weasel” program).”
Gabrielle. You are doing a “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” on me. One minute you want to understand ID in excruciating detail, going over the same points again and again. The next minute you want to fire off a list of objections, trawled from the websites of Dembski’s most passionate critics, in rapid succession. I think you are trying to bombard me with scary objections! Please tell me what relevance any of the above has to our debate so far. Does it explain the origin of vast amounts of genetic information, or is it quibbling over terminology, mathematical details etc. Looks to me like more ID research avenues. This type of criticism does not go to the heart of ID, but it will help ID to refine itself and become stronger.
And what’s wrong with my comments on Dawkin’s weasel program? I’m not the only one who thinks this analogy to natural selection is ridiculous, bordering on dishonest.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“But he doesn’t, because a) you have to pay to publish in journals, whereas writing popular books guarantees sales through conservative book clubs and such (I belonged to one for a few years)”
I am going to answer this point once (nicely) and from now on, I will refer you to this post or ignore your comment if you raise irrelevant side issues such as this again. The fact that Darwinists labour these minor points and spend so much time on petty politics is seen as a sign of desperation by ID proponents, whatever the ID bashing web sites tell you. I would stick to your original approach. Don’t become a tool of the Darwinist propaganda machine.
Now Dembski is putting his case across in book, for the same reason that other ID proponents have tended to choose this route. Darwin chose to publish in book form for many of the same reasons. In the first place, it is the quickest and best way to get radically new and controversial ideas into the public arena for debate. It gives the author the space to fully develop his entire case, in a way which would be impossible in a narrow peer reviewed paper. The intention is to get the ideas out there so that neutral scientists and the general public can judge the merits of ID against the misrepresentations of Darwinists who effectively control the media. The peer review system, is set up so as to support the scientific orthodoxy, and does not function well when confronted with ideas which lie outside the ruling paradigm. As I have pointed out to Olorin, scientists who propose radically new ideas have always been universally shunned by their peers and even persecuted. The peer review system is like a huge centralised version of this.
Taxpayer funded institutions, that should be neutral, such as the NCSE effectively function to attack ID and support Darwinism. The court system has been set up in line with the American idea of a separation between church and state. This idea, which was originally introduced to prevent one religious denomination from achieving dominance and then using the apparatus of the state to persecute other denominations, has been slowly transformed into the legal concept that any type of scientific knowledge which is religiously motivated is suspect. In order to avoid the challenge posed by ID, Darwinists have used the fact that some ID proponents are religiously motivated to shut down debate. All this is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether ID is true or not. Many of the biggest obstacles that ID must overcome are political and philosophical, and cultural, rather than scientific. These issues cannot be easily addressed in peer reviewed literature. The reasons why ID proponents tend to publish their ideas in book form are fairly obvious, if you really want to know them, rather than use them as a stick to beat ID with.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“But he doesn’t, because a) you have to pay to publish in journals, whereas writing popular books guarantees sales through conservative book clubs and such (I belonged to one for a few years)”
I am going to answer this point once (nicely) and from now on, I will refer you to this post or ignore your comment if you raise irrelevant side issues such as this again. The fact that Darwinists labour these minor points and spend so much time on petty politics is seen as a sign of desperation by ID proponents, whatever the ID bashing web sites tell you. I would stick to your original approach. Don’t become a tool of the Darwinist propaganda machine.
Now Dembski is putting his case across in book, for the same reason that other ID proponents have tended to choose this route. Darwin chose to publish in book form for many of the same reasons. In the first place, it is the quickest and best way to get radically new and controversial ideas into the public arena for debate. It gives the author the space to fully develop his entire case, in a way which would be impossible in a narrow peer reviewed paper. The intention is to get the ideas out there so that neutral scientists and the general public can judge the merits of ID against the misrepresentations of Darwinists who effectively control the media. The peer review system, is set up so as to support the scientific orthodoxy, and does not function well when confronted with ideas which lie outside the ruling paradigm. As I have pointed out to Olorin, scientists who propose radically new ideas have always been universally shunned by their peers and even persecuted. The peer review system is like a huge centralised version of this.
Taxpayer funded institutions, that should be neutral, such as the NCSE effectively function to attack ID and support Darwinism. The court system has been set up in line with the American idea of a separation between church and state. This idea, which was originally introduced to prevent one religious denomination from achieving dominance and then using the apparatus of the state to persecute other denominations, has been slowly transformed into the legal concept that any type of scientific knowledge which is religiously motivated is suspect. In order to avoid the challenge posed by ID, Darwinists have used the fact that some ID proponents are religiously motivated to shut down debate. All this is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether ID is true or not. Many of the biggest obstacles that ID must overcome are political and philosophical, and cultural, rather than scientific. These issues cannot be easily addressed in peer reviewed literature. The reasons why ID proponents tend to publish their ideas in book form are fairly obvious, if you really want to know them, rather than use them as a stick to beat ID with.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Here is an excerpt. Note that Wolpert is hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism”, acknowledges that criticism of evolution is a proper subject of scientific inquiry
Should Wolpert ever make these views widely known, he likely find himself branded as a “creationist”. Can you elaborate on the ways in which he (i.e. Wolpert) is “hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism””? I am curious.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“–AND he points out what Dembski would need to prove for his criticism of evolution to be valid. He ALSO shows that Dembski does not bother to do this.”
Once more, these criticisms fall within the category of possible ID research avenues. Perhaps if ID researchers had even a fraction of the Darwinists considerable budget, these avenues could be followed. ID is at the stage where it can afford to make mistakes and learn. None of this touches the core claims of ID. All it shows is that ID can function within the scientific realm. Darwinism is in the position that it has a monopoly. As such, it cannot afford to concede anything, lest this snowball into further critical scrutiny, that would eventually cause the whole enterprise to collapse like a house of cards. Supporting ID research is not an unreasonable request, given that people are actually given positions and paid real money to generate research in the field of evolutionary psychology.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Here is an excerpt. Note that Wolpert is hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism”, acknowledges that criticism of evolution is a proper subject of scientific inquiry
Should Wolpert ever make these views widely known, he likely find himself branded as a “creationist”. Can you elaborate on the ways in which he (i.e. Wolpert) is “hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism””? I am curious.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“–AND he points out what Dembski would need to prove for his criticism of evolution to be valid. He ALSO shows that Dembski does not bother to do this.”
Once more, these criticisms fall within the category of possible ID research avenues. Perhaps if ID researchers had even a fraction of the Darwinists considerable budget, these avenues could be followed. ID is at the stage where it can afford to make mistakes and learn. None of this touches the core claims of ID. All it shows is that ID can function within the scientific realm. Darwinism is in the position that it has a monopoly. As such, it cannot afford to concede anything, lest this snowball into further critical scrutiny, that would eventually cause the whole enterprise to collapse like a house of cards. Supporting ID research is not an unreasonable request, given that people are actually given positions and paid real money to generate research in the field of evolutionary psychology.



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Alan

posted August 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm


Gabriel Hanna
“Dembski withdrew the day before he was to testify, so we don’t know what he might have said, but it seems that as far as CSI and design are concerned, Behe and Minnich agree with me and Olorin.”
While, some scientists are saying that Dembski hasn’t made the case yet that he has yet to get the right criteria for detecting intelligence. I have two comments for you to ponder on:
1. Darwinists should be interested in assisting Dembski’s attempt to measure CSI, or something like it too, but instead, they are running from the idea.
2. By posing such questions, ID is now increasingly directing research and determining the questions of interest which should be posed to the scientific community, questions which simply did not arise from the old Darwinian paradigm and probably have no answer within it. This is one of the early indicators of a scientific revolution.



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Olorin

posted August 2, 2009 at 11:53 pm


Alan (July 31, 2009 9:25 PM): “1. First, you must rule out any known natural law as a possible cause. (i.e. you need to show that the arrangement in question is CONTINGENT, rather than NECESSARY) e.g. We find that the physical and chemical properties of water molecules, when understood properly, lead necessarily to a discrete and fully predictable variety of shapes.
Really? If you had written that a couple of years ago, it would be wrong now. An anomalous form of water, previously unknown and unpredicted by any then-known law was discovered:
“we show here that water confined to carbon nanotubes of a critical size under ambient conditions (1 bar, 300 K) can undergo a transition into a state having icelike mobility with an amount of hydrogen bonding similar to that in liquid water. The onset of this behavior occurs rapidly.” (Anomalously Immobilized Water: A New Water Phase Induced by Confinement in Nanotubes, Mashi et al., American Chemical Society Nano Letters, 2003, 3 (5), pp 589–592)
Sooooo in 2002 we thought we knew every possible phase of water. So if your statement would have been made in 2002, it would have classified this phase as “designed.” Right?
In fact, Dembski’s filter classifies every phenomenon that obeys an as-yet unknown law as DESIGNED. Because he doesn’t actually need EVIDENCE for design. He is entitled to ASSUME it whenever you can’t positively rule it out.



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Olorin

posted August 3, 2009 at 12:00 am


Alan (August 2, 2009 9:43 PM): “1. Darwinists should be interested in assisting Dembski’s attempt to measure CSI, or something like it too, but instead, they are running from the idea.”
Ypou are mistaking laughter for loping. It is simply irrelevant to biology. It may be relvant to archeology, but Dembski seems uninterested in pursuing anyone but Darwin.



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 6:13 am


Olorin wrote:
“Sooooo in 2002 we thought we knew every possible phase of water. So if your statement would have been made in 2002, it would have classified this phase as “designed.” Right?”
Nooooo. Hopelessly wrong on a number of accounts. Have you not understood the basics of Dembskis explanatory filter and the issue of potential false positives YET?
Go back and read the profuse ID literature you claim to have already read, or read my posts carefully. But stop taking wild pot-shots. They inevitably miss the target, obscure the debate and waste time. If you are genuinely struggling over this point, then I am happy to provide further help.



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 6:22 am


To Jim
It’s strange that Olorin and Gabriel struggle with even the most basic concepts in ID, and yet they are somehow able to confidently cite detailed expert arguments(cut and pasted from ID bashing websites) against ID with complete comprehension (heavy irony).



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Alan: 1. Darwinists should be interested in assisting Dembski’s attempt to measure CSI, or something like it too, but instead, they are running from the idea.
If Demsbki’s math was right, it would be right, regardless of the implications for evolution. Wolpert said this in his critique. It would be right regardless of peer review or what biologists think about it; that’s how math works.
Except that Dembski doesn’t calculate CSI the same way twice, and mathematicians like Wolpert, who coauthored the theorems Dambski claims to be working from, say the concept is too vague to be of any use.
Alan, you are acting like our little exercise never happened.
You saw how difficult it was to establish the CSI of a very simple case. And you just want to blithely go ahead and assume that DNA is full of CSI without doing any sort of meaningful calculation whatever. AND you want it taught in science class as science.
Demsbki’s CSI filter works like this:
1. Take something you think was designed.
2. ????
3. Assert it has high CSI, whatever that is, and say that implies it was designed.
By posing such questions, ID is now increasingly directing research and determining the questions of interest which should be posed to the scientific community, questions which simply did not arise from the old Darwinian paradigm and probably have no answer within it. This is one of the early indicators of a scientific revolution.
Because Einstein and Bohr never published any papers or anything like that. They just made assertions, wrote them up in popular books, refused to address critiques from their peers, never did any experiments, and lobbied state legislatures to force relativity and quantum mechanics to be taught in school.
Merely “asking questions” is not science. Asking questions AND providing answers in terms of other scientific knowledge and doing experiments is science.
Are you in the mood for another exercise? Take the string “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL”. What is the CSI?
According to Dembski, it’s zero if it was produced by Dawkins’s “weasel program”, something else if the letters are considered to be equally probable, a third value yet if you count the individual words and forget about the spaces (which is exactly the sort of trivial mistake peer review is there to catch).
Now imagine that the sentence was formed by drawing Scrabble tiles out of a bag without replacement. You get yet ANOTHER value. If you don’t believe me, do the calculation. It’s easy to find out how many tiles are in a Scrabble set and how many of each letter is represented; it is no harder than calculating the odds of drawing a perfect hand at bridge.
But it’s all the same sentence! If you don’t know anything about how the sentence got there, YOU CAN’T CALCULATE THE CSI (even if you can figure out what definition Dembski is using this week). As an empirical test of design, it is worthless.
And you KNOW that. And DEMBSKI knows it. He doesn’t know all the natural process that went into, or could have gone into DNA, and has no idea how to begin to calculate the CSI of a string of DNA. Yet he asserts tha he can prove it has CSI.
But he is not interested in doing science. He is interested in providing a fig leaf to have his religion validated in science classes. This is why he is not interested in peer review, or in what other mathematicians have to say about his ideas.
It’s strange that Olorin and Gabriel struggle with even the most basic concepts in ID, and yet they are somehow able to confidently cite detailed expert arguments(cut and pasted from ID bashing websites) against ID with complete comprehension (heavy irony).
Now you are just name calling.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 1:52 pm


Alan:Should Wolpert ever make these views widely known, he likely find himself branded as a “creationist”. Can you elaborate on the ways in which he (i.e. Wolpert) is “hard on “defenders of neo-Darwinism””? I am curious.
Yeah, don’t bother to click the link I provided or anything.
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/jello.cfm
First, biologists in particular and scientists in general are horribly confused defenders of their field. When responding to attacks from non-scientists, rather than attempt the rigor that the geometry of induction and similar bodies of statistics provide, they fall back on Popperian incantations, trying to browbeat their opponents into acceding to the homily that if one follows certain magic rituals—the vaunted “scientific method”—then one is rewarded with The Truth. No mathematically precise derivation of these rituals from first principles is provided. The “scientific method” is treated as a first-category topic, opening it up to all kinds of attack. In particular, in defending neo-Darwinism, no admission is allowed that different scientific disciplines simply cannot reach the same level of certainty in their conclusions due to intrinsic differences in the accessibility of the domains they study.
Wolpert’s views ARE widely known, and referred to on talkorigins and other “ID bashing websites”, and nobody calls him a “creationist”, because he isn’t one.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm


Alan:
When responding to attacks from non-scientists, rather than attempt the rigor that the geometry of induction and similar bodies of statistics provide…
Here I think Wolpert is a little unfair. When I tried to get you to be rigorous, look it where it got us. You conceded that you couldn’t actually calculate the CSI of something, insisted that it must still be a valid procedure anyway, and that I’m just too stupid to understand it; all the rigor was wasted effort. You learned nothing from the exercise, and I just got abuse for my pains.
What anyone reading this thread will see is that you insist that I have to provide endless justifications for what I think, but all you have to do assert that Dembski’s too far over my head.
Just like Behe admitted under cross examination at the Dover trial, no amount of scholarship or evidence is ever enough for the opponents of evolution to take it seriously, and no amount of scholarship or evidence is too little for the proponents of ID to insist they be taken seriously.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12pm.html

Q. I’m just going to read these titles, it sounds like you don’t even need to look at them?
A. Please do go ahead and read them.
Q. You’ve got Immune System Accessory Cells, Fornusek and Vetvicka, and that’s got a chapter called “Evolution of Immune Sensory Functions.” You’ve got a book called The Natural History of the Major Histocompatability Complex, that’s part of the immune system, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And here we’ve got chapter called “Evolution.” Then we’ve got Fundamental Immunology, a chapter on the evolution of the immune system.
A lot of writing, huh?
A. Well, these books do seem to have the titles that you said, and I’m sure they have the chapters in them that you mentioned as well, but again I am quite skeptical, although I haven’t read them, that in fact they present detailed rigorous models for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection.
Q. You haven’t read those chapters?
A. No, I haven’t.
Q. You haven’t read the books that I gave you?
A. No, I haven’t. I have read those papers that I presented though yesterday on the immune system.
Q. And the fifty-eight articles, some yes, some no?
A. Well, the nice thing about science is that often times when you read the latest articles, or a sampling of the latest articles, they certainly include earlier results. So you get up to speed pretty quickly. You don’t have to go back and read every article on a particular topic for the last fifty years or so.
Q. And all of these materials I gave you and, you know, those, including those you’ve read, none of them in your view meet the standard you set for literature on the evolution of the immune system? No scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system?
A. Again in the context of that chapter, I meant no answers, no detailed rigorous answers to the question of how the immune system could arise by random mutation and natural selection, and yes, in my, in the reading I have done I have not found any such studies.
Q. Let me see if I can summarize the intelligent design project. You’ve studied peer reviewed articles about the structure and function of the cell, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And you conclude from them that certain structures are irreducibly complex that could not have evolved through natural selection, and therefore are intelligently designed?
A. I conclude from them that we see very detailed molecular machinery in the cell, that it strongly looks like a purposeful arrangement of parts, that in fact a purposeful arrangement of parts is a hallmark of intelligent design. I surveyed the literature and I see no Darwinian explanations for such things. And when one applies one’s own reasoning to see how such things would be addressed within a Darwinian framework it’s very difficult to see how they would, and so one concludes that one explanation, Darwinian processes, doesn’t seem to have a good answer, but that another explanation, intelligent design, does seem to fit better.
Q. And that conclusion tells you design is not one that’s being asserted by the people who wrote the articles about the structure and function of the cell?
A. That’s correct.
Q. And as we discussed before, one, a conclusion that many have actively disagreed with?
A. That’s correct, too.
Q. You conclude the chapter called “Publish or Perish” by saying, “In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish,” right?
A. That’s correct, yes.
Q. And then all these hard working scientists publish article after article over years and years, chapters and books, full books, addressing the question of how the vertebrate immune system evolved, but none of them are satisfactory to you for an answer to that question?
A. Well, see, that again is an example of confusing the different meanings of evolution. As we have seen before, evolution means a number of things, such as change over time, common descent, gradualism and so on. And when I say Darwinian evolution, that is focusing exactly on the mechanism of natural selection. And none of these articles address that.
Q. Again at the same time you don’t publish any peer reviewed articles advocating for the alternative, intelligent design?
A. I have published a book, or — I have published a book discussing my ideas.
Q. That’s Darwin’s Black Box, correct?
A. That’s the one, yes.
Q. And you also propose tests such as the one we saw in “Reply to My Critics” about how those Darwinians can test your proposition?
A. Yes.
Q. But you don’t do those tests?
A. Well, I think someone who thought an idea was incorrect such as intelligent design would be motivated to try to falsify that, and certainly there have been several people who have tried to do exactly that, and I myself would prefer to spend time in what I would consider to be more fruitful endeavors.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 4:49 pm


More from Dembski:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Dembski
You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots.
At the same time that research in the Bible Code has taken off, research in a seemingly unrelated field has taken off as well, namely, biological design. These two fields are in fact closely related. Indeed, the same highly improbable, independently given patterns that appear as the equidistant letter sequences in the Bible Code appear in biology as functionally integrated (“irreducibly complex”) biological systems, of the sort Michael Behe discussed in Darwin’s Black Box.
He refuses to explain in detail how ID is supposed to work, admits that he can’t support ID as well as “Darwinism” is supported; and believes that CSI supports the Bible Code. Truly the hallmarks of a committed scientist!



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Then there’s Demsbki’s animation of Judge Jones, with fart noises.
http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com/id/JJ_school_of_law/
Another hallmark of the committed scientist! Toilet humor in place of argument reveals his character, especially considering that Demsbki couldn’t be bothered to testify at Dover.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 4:58 pm


You’ll have to follow the links here for the fart noises, I’m afraid:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/education/flatulence-removed-from-the-judge-jones-school-of-law/
The Rembrandt of flash animation and I are working to enhance “The Judge Jones School of Law.” As a first step we have made the animation less offensive to more refined sensibilities. All the overt flatulence has therefore been removed. Go to http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com for the less objectional version of this animation (we are keeping the original, however, so that when the history of evolution’s demise is written, all versions of this animation will be available to historians).



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 5:01 pm


Dembski: Calm yourselves everybody. An enhanced flatulent version is being worked on at this very moment. I will make it available. I do want to say this for the record, however. Many people regard the flatulent version as unsophisticated and even infantile. I want to suggest that in this postmodern age the flatulence in this animation actually serves as a sophisticated rhetorical device that mirrors the subtext of flatulence that runs throughout Judge Jones’s decision.
I’m sure Einstein, Maxwell, or Dirac would have done the same. After all,l they never did experiments, calculations, or published anything, so what did they have but fart noises?



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Ken Miller’s reply:
Dear Bill,
Thanks for the e-mail. It’s great to see what sort of research the Intelligent Design movement is up to these days!
I’d like to help you with the Judge’s e-mail, but since I have never had any contact with him outside the courtroom, I have no idea what his e-mail might be. I’m sure he’d be thrilled by the offer to remove “less flattering” sound effects, of course.
I do believe that I can help you with the video, though. As much as I enjoyed it, I was disappointed that it didn’t include some of the more amusing events from the trial. Since you’ve clearly got a little extra time on your hands, why not punch it up a bit with a few more highlights?
For example, how about Bill Buckingham claiming that he never mentioned the word “creationism,” and then the video clip showing him doing exactly that? (I can send you the clip if you need it). Or Mike Behe peeking out from behind a stack of 58 papers, 9 books, and a couple of textbooks saying that even this isn’t enough to convince him that the immune system evolved? Or, even better, your own DC spokesman for the Discovery Institute (Mark Ryland) claiming that the DI had “never” advocated the teaching of ID in schools, followed by Richard Thompson, in his own voice, waving a copy of Steve Meyer’s book which advocated exactly that? I’ve got that last one on a DVD if you like. You’d love it, Bill – Richard brought down the house at the American Enterprise Institute with that one.
Or, even better, how about the stuff before the trial?
Why not show the pictures of the 8 ID experts who promised the Dover Board that they would be there in court to defend them? … and then you can show 5 of the 8 running away at deposition time. I’ve even got a sound effects file I can send you of galloping horses, and maybe a scream or two in the background as the dreaded experts from the ACLU-friendly plaintiffs arrive?
Now that would be one heckuva animation!
Best Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas,
Ken



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Glen Davidson

posted August 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm


Glen Davidson http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3pI tried to get Signature in the Cell by interlibrary loan, but couldn’t. The library I requested it through tried five libraries, and not one would send it. But you know, it’s very accessible, unlike the many journals which I read.
Oh sure, I could order it, or drive approximately 50 miles to buy it. Were it a worthwhile book, I could and would order it, but from the preview to everything out of the DI’s CSC (headed by Meyer) indicates that it’s dissembling nonsense, so that were I rich I would still be unwilling to support that dishonesty.
I realized I could probably get most of the 12 “predictions” of ID by querying the preview carefully enough (words like “prediction” are placed within a few words of context), but since I’ve seen enough “predictions” of ID to know that they’re always just something someone said that seemed good enough at the time (ID can’t make entailed predictions, because it has no theory), that seemed more effort than warranted. I decided I would listen to Meyer’s presentation while doing other things on the computer, though, just to see what bons mots he might have. Here is a source which includes all four parts, naturally you’d probably want to click on “part 1″ first:
http://www.idthefuture.com/2009/07/the_design_argument_is_unrefut.html
It’s as pathetic as we’d expect, with massive question-begging and the poorest analogies that I’ve ever seen. Maybe even more sadly for someone who actually took “philosophy of science” at Cambridge, Meyer actually uses the long-abandoned uniformitarian notions of Lyell and (to a lesser extent–though Meyer doesn’t note the lesser degree) Darwin as his “reason” for extrapolating present intelligent processes into the past. He seems to use this simply because he thinks he’s clever at turning what is supposedly Darwin’s assumptions upon Darwin’s theory, apparently not realizing that modern science does not insist that the same processes occurring today are all that one can rely upon in “origins science.”
He tells of his background, such as that he only took philosophy of science because he became interested in the origin of life at some “conference” where religious ideas about it were being discussed. Silly ideas that he heard from other IDists become fine gold in his mind, such as that supposedly “historical science” is considerably different from the rest of science (hardly, it’s just forensic science then), and that positing intelligence in the past was just fine even though it isn’t now (what? In real science we have no problem with referring to intelligence more recently as it has evolved, and find “extrapolation” to a past unevidenced intelligence working quite differently than ours does (namely, producing results predicted by evolution) to be completely wrong).
What’s most bizarre is how he keeps returning to the “fact” that we should only refer to processes occurring now to infer completely different processes in the past, which, as noted above, comes from the kind of uniformitarian assumptions to which we feel no allegiance and from which we have no constraints. Of course he doesn’t put it that way, he thinks that saying that “only intelligence makes codes today” justifies his claim that codes were only made by magic (supernatural transcendence, or whatever) in the past.
From the start it’s a ridiculous notion, in that 2 million years ago one could not refer to “intelligently made codes” for several reasons. One is that there were no “intelligently made codes” then (at least not demonstrable by evidence humans have in hand), and the other is that we need intelligently-influenced codes (languages aren’t actually intelligently-made codes, whatever he says, but I don’t want that to defer us much) in order to even posit how codes like the DNA code were formed. And of course, why would we refer to a very recent production of “intelligent codes” as what caused the DNA code to exist well before humans ever existed?
So he’s already simply begging the question, using the fact that what makes “collective human intelligence” even possible is our intelligent use and manipulation of codes to claim that then there’s no question that intelligence must be responsible for all codes. The weird aspects of the DNA code–such as its evolvability (even creationists allow that it’s more than normal human coded information permits), considerably modular existence of genes, and stochastic regulation–compared with at least most human-made codes, aren’t going to be considered by Meyer, since he’s really only interested in claiming that intelligence is responsible for the DNA code.
Science actually posits any number of things that occurred in the past that aren’t occurring today, from the Big Bang, to tin ore formation, to banded iron formations, to the Late Heavy Bombardment, to things that Darwin himself posited occurred in the past and don’t today, like the origin of life (Meyer is misusing Darwin himself, let alone apparently unaware of science as currently practiced). The Oklo nuclear reactors are another example, unless, of course, one wishes to claim that intelligently-made reactors today indicate that the Oklo reactors were also intelligently made.
There is sort of an idea that today’s processes are responsible for what occurred in the past, simply in the matter of proximal causation. For instance, if we can re-create energies shortly after the Big Bang, we expect to find the same sorts of results that occurred then, on the appropriate scale, of course. That’s it, though, and Lyell’s uniformitarianism which Meyer relies upon for his inapt analogy is not presently used in science.
If Darwin had ever adhered to the “principle” that Meyer uses, he’d have had to infer from artificial selection not natural selection, but artificial selection, throughout the history of life. He didn’t, because he understood that you don’t refer to non-existent (so far as we know) causes in the past, even if such causes exist today.
Then too, how does one infer from human code-making to the origin of life? Meyer does so by merely conflating all codes, and saying that presently codes are made by intelligence, so they must have been in the past–he claims that the origin of life is really about coming up with a code. Does any real scientist say that? Most scientists seem to suppose that codes come well after replication is established, and one can make at least as good a case for that as for Meyer’s unevidenced assumption. So the only real analogy open for Meyer, once his bogus claim is debunked, is that only life presently produces life without antecedents, hence it must have been the same in the past.
Except that we don’t create life from non-life, not in the way that Meyer implies. Even if we do in the future, it wouldn’t fit Meyer’s false claims about past processes having to be identical today. He doesn’t say that we do, certainly, as he knows better, but he hammers the analogy into being merely about code creation, so in essence saying that we do produce life from non-life. In his hugely reductive scheme, coming up with the Morse code is analogous with the creation of life.
Darwin’s use of present processes to explain past events had nothing to do with Meyer’s weird caricature of it, he was pretty much stating that the same basic causality can occur, hence our artificial selection is in a way akin to the natural selection which followed lawful causality. Today’s scientists are more explicit in stating that only the same basic causality continues, rather than appealing to Lyellian uniformitarianism.
Then Meyer makes another odd leap in his chain of “reasoning” to prop up his unscientific conclusions, in that intelligence is not part of the “materialistic” causation used by “materialistic scientists.” Few scientists think so, and most would strenuously disagree. “Intelligence” is not considered to be a basic cause of anything at all, rather it is something to be explained through physics and evolution. If you think that Meyer is using all of the ancient ID canards, you are correct.
From all of these unsupported biases and assertions, then, Meyer “concludes” that the DNA code must be the result of intelligence. By the way, he keeps on claiming that intelligence is the only source of information, even though he knows better, and apparently says so in his book. In his talk, though, he simply doesn’t acknowledge how information is constantly arising through entropy increases.
He thus begs the question of how intelligence arose, however I think we all know why.
The proper analogy for Meyer to use–if we ignore how actually different the DNA code is from ordinary human codes and his misuse of “uniformitarianism”–could only be that human intelligence makes codes, so it must have done so in the past with the DNA code. You can’t just treat “intelligence” as if it were a single thing, from “god” to a baby’s babbling, and certainly any “principled uniformitarianism” would only invoke known intelligence for past consequences. Meyer knows this implicitly, and it is very difficult to believe that he doesn’t know how badly his “analogy” works.
In the end he claims that he wants to change the question from whether or not ID is “science” to whether or not it “is true,” and acts as if none of us have ever dealt with it in his terms (indeed, many of us have never treated the question of whether or not it is science as if it were different from vernacular meaning of whether or not it is true–since ID could be science if it allowed itself to be legitimately tested).
That after his endless misuses of bogus “principles,” analogies from known causes to unknown causes, plus the completely unsupported notion that intelligence is “not material.” If his book is anything like his talk, it is a shambles of intellectual failure.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3pI



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Jim

posted August 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm


Glen Davidson: “If his book is anything like his talk, it is a shambles of intellectual failure.”
What a hoot! Your litany of complaints against Meyer is nothing if not a shambles of intellectual failure. You represent his arguments in silly caricatures rather than in their strongest form (if you are even aware of what his arguments are), and you’ve thus far failed to read his book. Such willful ignorance is the epitome of intellectual failure.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm


And thank you, Marjorie, for speaking up for good manners. In the world of adults, it should be possible to have strong disagreements without name-calling, insinuation, or intimidation. That they feel compelled to engage in this kind of rhetoric betrays their desperation.

Yes Jim, your rhetoric betrays your desperation.
Oh, that’s right, that’s not what Klinghoffer meant, he meant that mere s, false claims, and unmerited attacks on “Darwinists” are great, but responding with truthful observations about your mendacity after you have written your lies is just not mannerly.
Nonetheless, if he were anything but a hypocrite, he’d tear into your substance-free nonsense.
Truth. It’s just not to the liking of your side. And really, is it fair for us to impose our preference for honesty upon you?
Um, well, yes it is.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“If Demsbki’s math was right, it would be right, regardless of the implications for evolution. Wolpert said this in his critique. It would be right regardless of peer review or what biologists think about it; that’s how math works.”
So you accept that Demski’s work falls within the remit of science? Would you encourage other scientists to attempt to improve on his work, possibly by coming up with different measures of intelligence? Does Wolpert claim that Dembski’s work could not be improved on?
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
Alan, you are acting like our little exercise never happened.
“You saw how difficult it was to establish the CSI of a very simple case.”
“our little exercise” or your little exercise. Please point me to the post you are talking about?
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Demsbki’s CSI filter works like this:
1. Take something you think was designed.
2. ????
3. Assert it has high CSI, whatever that is, and say that implies it was designed.”
You are starting to become a persistent misrepresenter if ID like Olorin. I even gave you the link to Dembski’s book (Google Books) the design inference:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=R7otNWMrgcwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false
and the page no (i.e. p36).



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Because Einstein and Bohr never published any papers or anything like that. They just made assertions, wrote them up in popular books, refused to address critiques from their peers, never did any experiments, and lobbied state legislatures to force relativity and quantum mechanics to be taught in school.”
I was thinking more of the book publishing Darwin and his cabal of rich aristocratic supporters, and T. Huxleys efforts to lobby the man on the street. The irony in your above statement is that it is now the DARWINISTS who lobby furiously to prevent any criticism of Darwinism in schools.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
Are you in the mood for another exercise? Take the string “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL”. What is the CSI?
According to Dembski, it’s zero if it was produced by Dawkins’s “weasel program”,
True. Dawkins program was a fallacious con as Dembski and others pointed out – so THAT example doesn’t count. It shows that Darwinists will believe anything and everything uncritically, so long as it is supports their theory of mutation and selection. It also shows that Darwinists of the highest calibre need to use misleading analogies, in order to sell their theory to the general public.
If Dawkins really could explain the origin of information using something like the Darwinian mechanism, then he would be explaining the fallacy of the “weasel program” as clearly as I have. The fact that Dawkins is forced to use examples like this, makes me think that his main point must be in considerable trouble. ARE YOU PREPARED TO DISOWN DAWKINS “WEASEL PROGRAM” AND HIS CLAIMS FOR IT, OR DO YOU STILL STAND BY IT?
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Now imagine that the sentence was formed by drawing Scrabble tiles out of a bag without replacement.”
Yes, and how would that match a real world scenario? Why would I want to not replace them? If this corresponded to the production of proteins, then no chain could be longer than 20 amino acids and there would be no repetition of the bases in each chain. Life could not exist. Scientists should try to fit their models closely with what they observe. They should not deliberately invent ridiculous scenarios having no relation to to observations.



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Gabriel "Held pending moderation" Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm


Alan:
I was thinking more of the book publishing Darwin and his cabal of rich aristocratic supporters, and T. Huxleys efforts to lobby the man on the street.
Another ID lie. Darwin and Wallace published jointly and presented their paper to the Linnaean Society long before Darwin wrote his book.
The irony in your above statement is that it is now the DARWINISTS who lobby furiously to prevent any criticism of Darwinism in schools.
No, “Darwinists” are doing experiments and writing papers. Dembski is making fart jokes about a judge he didn’t have the guts to face in court. By their fruits ye shall know them.
Dawkins program was a fallacious con as Dembski and others pointed out – so THAT example doesn’t count.
Dembski lied about Dawkins’s program, saying it “locked in” mutations–but it never did, and when Dawkins demonstrated the program live an TV Dembski said he must have changed it, and then said he had “programmers” working on it. “Weasel” is only a few dozen lines of code.
Yes, and how would that match a real world scenario? Why would I want to not replace them?
We are trying to figure out how to calculate CSI. You, and Demsbki, continue to fail to do so whenever challenged. You’re just blowing smoke. If you can’t apply it to a simple case, how can youclaim to apply it to a complicated real world case?
You should be able to calculate it under any sort of conditions–if you can’t, it’s useless.
Are you helping Dembski make more flatulent Flash animations? That might explain why you guys are too busy to do science.



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“You get yet ANOTHER value. If you don’t believe me, do the calculation. It’s easy to find out how many tiles are in a Scrabble set and how many of each letter is represented; it is no harder than calculating the odds of drawing a perfect hand at bridge.”
Leaving the errors in your mode of argumentation aside for a moment, I will address the substantive point. It is up to the SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY to clarify the concept of CSI or to develop an alternative measures of intelligent activity. It is up to the scientific community to develop a standard uniform approach to measuring CSI, one that will give consistent results. This process is far from complete. It is only just beginning! Big Deal, at least ID proponents have something worthwhile to do. Try selling the idea to ordinary people (without your philosophical blinkers) that trying to quantify intelligent activity is a bad idea that should be given up immediately. We are living in the information age, not Victorian England. And we are not living in Stalin’s Russia. THIS IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF DARWINIAN SCIENCE STOPPING.
Your silly caricature could equally be applied to the measurement of GRAVITY before it was clearly defined as a concept and all the factors affecting its measured value were ironed out. Imagine what people would say in Descartes time, before the idea of mass had been clarified. Lets assume that people had observed some phenomena called “lumpiness”, which loosely corresponded to what we call “mass” today. Many people suspected that lumpiness a reality, but they didn’t know how to describe it, or make it more precise. Why try to measure this strange phenomena of lumpiness at all? Depending where we are on the earth, the temperature and the apparatus, we get DIFFERENT RESULTS. We get different results with different measures of lumpiness. We get different results with different measuring contraptions. This scale apparatus says 1cm and this spring apparatus says 2 inches. There’s no way to measure lumpiness, so we should give up trying. Besides, mass is clearly the wrong measure of lumpiness – even if it really exists.
Before and after the publication of TOOS, Darwinists argued for decades over which evolutionary mechanism was most important – and they are still arguing. They argued for decades to define key words like “fitness” and “species” and failed. This new argument is non-starter. Yours is the rusty old pot calling the shiny new kettle black.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“If you don’t know anything about how the sentence got there, YOU CAN’T CALCULATE THE CSI”
I don’t know how MASS got their, but I can measure it.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“And you KNOW that. And DEMBSKI knows it. He doesn’t know all the natural process that went into, or could have gone into DNA, “
Neither do Darwinists. But ID proponents do have many indicators which would appear to rule out a naturalistic origin.
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“and has no idea how to begin to calculate the CSI of a string of DNA. Yet he asserts that he can prove it has CSI.”
At least Dembski is being honest about the difficulty of the task. The standard line from Darwinists is that Darwinian evolution is a fact, as certain as gravity and that Darwinian theory has no weaknesses. Sounds like perjury to me.



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Jim

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:40 pm


Glen Davidson: “Yes Jim, your rhetoric betrays your desperation.”
What desperation? I’m delighted to watch you destroy your own credibility with your persistent misrepresentations of both ID and its proponents. A common characteristic of the Darwinian faithful is their tendency to provide skeptics of Darwinist dogma with reasons to ignore them. No wonder they’ve met with such little success in selling their cherished theory to the general public. Keep up the good work, I always say.



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Gabriel "Held pending moderation" Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:42 pm


Alan, I thought you “trained as a physicist”. (When are you getting you’re Ph.D.? I’m getting mine this December.)
I’ve written and published peer-reviewed papers. If you had any working scientific background at all, you would know that you have to test new ideas on simple, streamlined cases before you could ever hope to apply them to the real world which is much more complicated.
If you can’t explain Scrabble tiles with CSI, how can you expect to explain DNA?
So you’re back to calling names. I gave you a challenge. You said I was too stupid to understand CSI. Okay, smart boy, YOU do the math, since it’s so obvious to you. You are so much smarter than the information theorists who say it’s bunk.
You apply the empirical test Demsbki developed. Do it on Scrabble tiles–calculate the CSI of “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” by drawing tiles without replacement, and compare with Dembski’s answer.
Then explain how, when you get a wildly different answer from the THREE Demsbki has already come up with, how this test is any good for something as long and intricate as DNA.
If you can’t do the calculation, call me some more names and declare yourself king of the thread, if you like.
Those reading, judging between you and me, will know that you don’t know what you are talking about and would rather call names instead.



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm


I wrote:
“It’s strange that Olorin and Gabriel struggle with even the most basic concepts in ID, and yet they are somehow able to confidently cite detailed expert arguments(cut and pasted from ID bashing websites) against ID with complete comprehension (heavy irony).”
Gabriel Hanna wrote:
“Now you are just name calling.”
This is not name calling. It is a reference to what actually happened as recorded in our posts. The explanatory filter is so straightforward that it can be depicted in a simple flow diagram and understood (at least in principle) by the layman. I have discussed the three nodes (or hurdles) of the filter at length many times with both of you.
Olorin is still posting examples such as his “new phase of water refutes the explanatory filter”. And you continue to misunderstand and caricature ID e.g.:
“1. Take something you think was designed.
2. ????
3. Assert it has high CSI, whatever that is, and say that implies it was designed.” (G. Hanna)
And you HAVE cut and pasted pages of detailed specialist criticisms from Dembski’s opponents, the veracity of which you cannot verify. Most of the points you raised are merely OPEN QUESTIONS, which have provided a host of possible RESEARCH AVENUES for ID theorists, and will assist in the clarification of ID concepts. Do you realise yet that by attacking ID the Darwinists are throwing fuel onto the fire. The reason that all your criticisms fail to hit the mark is as follows:
Our perception of the intelligence activity in DNA is as strong as our perception of Gravity. Each new discovery of the complexity of biological systems multiplies the improbability of a naturalistic explanation. Each new discovery of function in the DNA squeezes out NDE, and shows the Darwinian “Junk” DNA paradigm to be an argument from ignorance and science stopping . Exploring the relationship between the signs of intelligent activity in the universe and human intelligence is an intriguing idea. Turning this overwhelming perception of intelligent activity into a quantifiable, measurable entity is an obvious avenue to follow for an ID proponent, one with many potential applications. Finding a reliable measure of intelligent activity and applying it to real world examples is the end of the road, not the beginning. Your attempts to criticise ID without proposing any alternative which can be shown to produce the desired effect are merely negative criticisms. If you wish to refute ID, you must establish an alternative (naturalistic) explanation for the information problem.



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Gabriel "Held pending moderation" Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:44 pm


Alan:It is up to the SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY to clarify the concept of CSI or to develop an alternative measures of intelligent activity. It is up to the scientific community to develop a standard uniform approach to measuring CSI, one that will give consistent results.
We have to do all the work, and you get to ride on it. How big of you. Einstein no doubt operated this way.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:44 pm


And Jim quoth, blah blah blah blah.
Apparently, it’s the best he can do, never being able to meet any intellectual challenge.
Gee, David, isn’t it amazing that we’re “uncivil,” when all your side ever does is attack with dishonesty?
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Gabriel "Held pending moderation" Hanna

posted August 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm


Alan:I don’t know how MASS got their, but I can measure it.
That’s what I’ve been asking you to do with CSI, genius, and you can’t. All you do is come up with excuses why you shouldn’t have to.
When I published on the reflection of Gaussian beams through a confocal microscope, I did detailed calculations, showing my work at every step, to determine the shape of the reflected intensity. I didn’t say, “The scientific community has to figure out what my big idea means.”



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Alan

posted August 3, 2009 at 9:52 pm


Gabriel Hanna wrote
When I published on the reflection of Gaussian beams through a confocal microscope, I did detailed calculations, showing my work at every step, to determine the shape of the reflected intensity. I didn’t say, “The scientific community has to figure out what my big idea means.”
The scientific community already knows what your big idea means. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you were working within one of the oldest and best established paradigms in physics i.e. classical optics. You were working in an area which lends itself perfectly to mathematical treatment, using well established mathematics and you were also working on a very narrow question and one which was grounded in entirely repeatable experiments. I did something similar in my final year undergraduate thesis when I modelled the chaotic coupling of four high intensity beams in an optical fibre. What ID is presently doing and what Darwin set in motion are far bigger than any one man. Currently, ID is in the early phase of DEVELOPING the paradigm. Darwinism is in the crisis phase.
You also really need to distinguish the difference between the theories based on real time, repeatable experiments and those of the historical sciences. I take nothing away from Einstein’s monumental achievements when I stress the difference between the relatively trivial simplicity of the solutions he (i.e. Einstein) provided and their means of verification, in relation to the unfathomable challenge of explaining the origin and development of life, possibly over billions of years, in a convincing way.
Not only will an explanation for the emergence of biological diversity involve COMMUNICATION between a MULTITUDE of specialists from DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES, but the problems are orders of magnitude harder. A typical human consists of 100trillion cells, many of which are in constant communication with each other, in the manner of a supercomputer. These cells are divided into 200+ specialist cell types, each cell having the equivalent complexity of a miniature city. Given that most of the major controversial claims of NDE are unrepeatable I continue to laugh at the nonsense assertion that NDE is a FACT, as well established as gravity. Given that nothing in biology is simple, I have no reason whatsoever to believe that a simplistic mechanism such as NDE has anything to say about our origins beyond its description of trivial sub-specific variation. None what so ever.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 4, 2009 at 12:32 am


Alan:
I have developed an empirical test that shows that something was evolved. I call it ESI, for “evolutionarily specified information”. It is a subset of Shannon information; the subset of all sequences with high Shannon information that were produced by evolution.
If you can calculate the ESI you can prove that something was evolved. All you have to do is work out the probability that something was designed; if it’s less than 10^-150 then you conclude it was evolved.
The whole scientific community has to help me work on this, it’s too big for just me. I know I can’t calculate the ESI of DNA yet, but eventually someone will.
ID proponents should be helping me, if they want to do science and not be dogmatic, instead they run from it.
You don’t believe in my ESI, do you Alan?
You talked about measuring mass-you can measure mass even if you don’t know where it came from or understand everything about it. I can tell you how to measure mass using inertia and using forces. Mass and temperature and momentum and time and all the other physical quantities are defined in terms of measurements.
But I have not defined ESI well enough in order to be able to measure it. And the same applies for CSI.
If you find a way to unambiguously measure CSI, then you can put it on a scientific footing and see if it can detect known instances of design, and if it gives false positives. Until then it is too vague to be of any use, like hippies talking about “resonant energies” of crystals or whatever.
I have challenged you repeatedly to give a procedure for measuring CSI in a very simple case. You cannot do it. Dembski cannot do it (too busy with fart jokes).
Until you can put CSI on a sound methodological footing, it remains a euphemism for your intuition that something complicated must have been designed. Until then it is bogus.
The rest of us are under no scientific obligation to drop everything and ride Dembski’s hobbyhorse. The DI fellows have nothing better to do; let THEM put the concept on a sound methodological footing. Let THEM do the research and the calculations and the experiments.



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Olorin

posted August 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm


Gabriel Hanna {August 2, 2009 12:07 AM): Jim: More on Dembski, from Mark Perakh: Dembski pretends that Wolpert’s critique does not exist.”
Dembski had loudly proclaimed a “vise strategy” for debating evolution.
“I’m waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won’t come off looking well.”[1]
Then came the Kitzmiller trial in 2005. Just before he was to be deposed, he saw Michael Behe get cross-examinerd. So he cut and ran. Well, not entirely—he did keep his $20,000 fee.[2]
Arrividerci, vise strategy.
==========
[1] William Dembski, in “Uncommon Descent,” May 6, 2005, speaking of the Kansas School Board hearings, in which the scientists boycotted the hearings as rigged. “Thus, in a crucial way, the Kansas hearings repeat the pattern set by the Scopes Trial, which has been repeated many times since, namely, evolutionists escaped critical scrutiny by not having to undergo cross-examination, in this case by boycotting the hearings.”
[2] All of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses testified wihout fee.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 4, 2009 at 11:47 pm


Olorin:So he cut and ran. Well, not entirely—he did keep his $20,000 fee.
Be fair, Olorin. No doubt some of that $20,000 paid for the fart video mocking the judge he was too cowardly to testify before.
His explanation for the fart video:
Just to be clear, my aim in this flash animation was not to shake up the convictions of convinced Darwinists. Rather, my aim was to render Judge Jones and his decision ridiculous in the eyes of many young people, who from here on will never take Darwinian evolution or him seriously. If the cost of accomplishing this is yet another lowering of my estimation in the eyes of PT or Richard Dawkins, that’s a price I’m only too glad to pay — heck, I regard that as a benefit of the deal.
The hallmark of a true scientist. In the 20′s and 30′s Einstein would write thought experiments attempting to refute quantum mechanics, and Niels Bohr would read them aloud in a high squeaky voice while Max Born made farting noises.



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Olorin

posted August 4, 2009 at 11:49 pm


Gabriel Hanna {August 2, 2009 12:07 AM): Jim: More on Dembski, from Mark Perakh: Dembski pretends that Wolpert’s critique does not exist.”
Dembski had loudly proclaimed a “vise strategy” for debating evolution.
“I’m waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won’t come off looking well.”[1]
Then came the Kitzmiller trial in 2005. Just before he was to be deposed, he saw Michael Behe get cross-examinerd. So he cut and ran. Well, not entirely—he did keep his $20,000 fee.[2]
Arrividerci, vise strategy.
==========
[1] William Dembski, in “Uncommon Descent,” May 6, 2005, speaking of the Kansas School Board hearings, in which the scientists boycotted the hearings as rigged. “Thus, in a crucial way, the Kansas hearings repeat the pattern set by the Scopes Trial, which has been repeated many times since, namely, evolutionists escaped critical scrutiny by not having to undergo cross-examination, in this case by boycotting the hearings.”
[2] All of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses testified wihout fee.



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Olorin

posted August 4, 2009 at 11:50 pm


A stage magician is able to perform his feats of prestidigitation by diverting the audience away from where the trick is actually being performed. The bigger, the noisier, the more complex the diversion, the more effective it is in distracting attention.
Complex specified information is the diversion du jour of intelligent design. Alan flamboyantly portrays CSI and exhibits its properties. Yet CSI, by ID’s own definition, does not imply design. The actual trick is a simple one, located in a syllogism of ID’s definition:
> Premise: A certain type of information is always observed when intelligent agents act.[1]
> Premise: Objects such as living organisms contain this type of information.[2]
> Conclusion: Intelligent agents acted to produce living organisms.
Let’s map this to another syllogism having the same logical structure:
> Premise: All lawn flamingos are pink.
> Premise: An object in my front yard is pink.
> Conclusion: The object in my front yard is a lawn flamingo.
Once exposed, this “affirming the consequent” fallacy is simple. But the diversion keeps us from seeing the trick. Meyer’s book is thus a diversion, and has little relevance to the question of whether life was designed by an intelligent agent.
This is why I may seem unresponsive to challenges to find fault with CSI. It doesn’t matter whether CSI is real or not, defined correctly, or even measurable.[3] You’ll have to show me first that CSI is relevant to Dembski’s claims of design according to his own logic.
=================
[1] This is isomorphic to the penultimate sentence of the definition of ID that Alan had offered (from the CSC’s Web page):
“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.”
[2] This maps to the ultimate sentence of the definition supra.
[3] Alan, responding to Gabriel (August 3, 2009 8:16 PM): “So you accept that Dembski’s work falls within the remit of science? Would you encourage other scientists to attempt to improve on his work, possibly by coming up with different measures of intelligence? Does Wolpert claim that Dembski’s work could not be improved on?”
EXTRA CREDIT EXERCISE: The following was taken from the same CSC page as Alan’s definition supra. Map it to the same syllogism as the definition of ID in Footnote 1.
“Is Intelligent Design a Scientific Theory?
Yes. The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information.”



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 5, 2009 at 12:12 am


Olorin:Alan flamboyantly portrays CSI and exhibits its properties.
No, he doesn’t. It has no properties to display.
I challenged him to calculate it for a simple case and he can’t.
In addition, there is also the ESI, which he has yet to respond to.
Since I know DNA was evolved, I know it has very high ESI, even though I can’t tell anyone what ESI is or how to calculate it. :)



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Olorin

posted August 5, 2009 at 6:00 pm


Gabriel Hanna (August 5, 2009 12:12 AM): “Since I know DNA was evolved, I know it has very high ESI, even though I can’t tell anyone what ESI is or how to calculate it.”
Don’t be so hasty. Someone has calculated the amount of entropy reduction required for evolution, about 320kcal/year.[1] Perhaps this could be emplyed to derive a metric for ESI.
Dr. Dembski complains about not getting published. I was just today reading a blurb in Science (vol. 325, p. 521, 7/31/09) about a new journal, Rejecta Mathematica. The founder is a PhD student in electrical engineering.[2] who had trouble publishing his work on card counting in blackjack. An editor of another maths journal remarked, “I think it’s an entertaining way to publish some decent pap—” Uh oh. Dembski problaby couldn’t pass the decency test.[3]
=====================
[1] For comparison purposes, this is about one-trillionth the amount supplied by the Sun to the Earth per year.
[2] Alas, my undergraduate major, because there was no such thing ias computer science in 1955. (I’m not sure there is yet, come to think about it), and my graduate subject, systems theory, wasn’t even a glint in the course-book’s eye.
[3] For someone whose epigones (that’s a fancy Greek word for “groupies”) call the Newton of information theory, he might consider it infra dignitate. Of course, Newton didn’t know about the difference between micro-gravity, which causes apples to fall, and macro-gravity, which causes entire planets to ‘fall,’ but which has never been observed.



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Socrates Puppette

posted August 5, 2009 at 6:06 pm


It is truly and irrefutably obvious to anyone that everything that is complex and has specified information is intelligently designed. One cannot gaze upon a car or an airplane and not appreciate that it was intelligently designed for a specific purpose. Therefore, life, which is far more complex than any human-designed artifact, must also be designed.
In addition, we know something else about complex, purposeful designs: They were all, every one, designed by large numbers of individual designers. Even small airplanes are designed by hundreds of people—dozens of people designed the engines, dozens designed the airframe structure, dozens more designed the instruments, the radio systems, the hydraulic controls, and the seats inside. Every living being is much more complex, and has more functions, than an airplane. Therefore, life was designed by thousands or even millions of different designers.
Positing a great number of designers sweeps away many of the problems with conventional intelligent design theory. Conventional ID has a hard time explaining predation: why some animals chase and eat other animals, why bacteria infect us with diseases. But Multiple Designer Theory has a clear answer. Just as, say, airplanes may be designed in one country to attack tanks designed in another country, lions, having been designed by one group of designers, wish to destroy antelope, which were designed by another group. Why do different animals compete with each other for the same resources? For the same reason that Chryslers compete with Fords—because they were designed to do so by different intelligences. Why do plants and animals go extinct? Why do automobile models disappear, to be replaced by others? Because different designers have different ideas as to what will survive—in the marketplace, just as in the biosphere. Because new designers invent new ways to design and manufacture them. Why were life forms simpler and fewer in the past than today? Because there were fewer designers, and they were not as proficient.
Darwinists claim that the similarity of features of different organism are evidence for common descent. Balderdash. When Boeing designs an airliner, it doesn’t design the engines. Engines are designed by specialists at General Electric and Rolls Royce, who then sell them to many different aircraft companies. In the same way, one group of designers may design, say, cellular ribosomes or bone structures or eye modules for use by the designers of different animals. This is why eyes are so similar in diverse animal, and yet why there are different kinds of eyes from different, competing suppliers. Why do we see vestigial organs? If only a single designer generated the plan for the entire animal, this would be considered incompetent. But suppose that one group of designers produces intestinal tracts, and shops them around to many animal designers. The intestine designers may satisfy several different client designers with minor variations on a single product. Thus, for example the appendix that is unnecessary in humans does have a function in other animals who can otherwise acquire the design. Many brands of digital watches all use exactly the same chip; the cheaper models merely leave some of the chip’s features unconnected. .
The parallels with human designs are inescapable. Just as it is glaringly obvious that all life forms were intelligently designed, it is also obvious that different plants, animals, and their organs and cells were designed by multitudes of different designers. Further, the Multiple Designer(tm) extension to intelligent-design theory has far more explanatory power than does the conventional ID variety. having only a single overworked and seemingly incompetent intelligence.
/s/ Soc Puppette



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 6, 2009 at 2:09 am


Socrates: I find your views intriguing and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
I am a little puzzled. Why do the multiple designers compete? GM and Ford compete because people only have so much money to buy cars.
Do you know what your post reminded me of? Populous. It was a game where two gods create followers that fight each other.



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Socrates Puppette

posted August 6, 2009 at 11:47 am


Gabriel Hanna (August 6, 2009 2:09 AM): “Why do the multiple designers compete?”
This ought to be as obvious as the frown on your face. It’s because the Law of Intelligent Design posits that design principles are universal, and can be recognized in any possible design. Therefore, what we know of human designers must, a fortiori, apply to all designers. And human designers compete with each other. Automobilius Fordii competes with A. GMii. Therefore, life-form designers compete.
Of course, the full picture is more complex(tm). OEM designers cooperate with their recipients, and OEM designers commonly supply competing end users. Entities in the same market may cooperate with each other for mutual benefit, and even competing designers may combine to dribve out snmaller entities.
Some people deride Multiple Designer Theory as a tautology, asserting that it can explain anything, and is thus not testable. This is simply not true. MDT can make any number of predictions. Stevo Meyer required eight years to produce his miserable 12 predictions. MDT can easily cut that time in half.



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Socrates Puppette

posted August 6, 2009 at 11:56 am


Gabriel Hanna (August 6, 2009 2:09 AM): “Populous. It was a game where two gods create followers that fight each other”
Soc and I would both like some info on Populous. In the late 50s when I first started in computers, Core Wars was a popular game. Each player designed a program and placed it in memory. The two programs battled to take over the entire memory. The analogy to evolution is that the winning programs had several characteristics in common. They started small and simple. They could reproduce quickly. They could produce variations and grow more complex.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm


Oops. That shpould have been Olorin posting the previous comment.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 6, 2009 at 12:26 pm


Stevo Meyer required eight years to produce his miserable 12 predictions. MDT can easily cut that time in half.

But can you get a paper into a journal saying “evolution’s hard, magic’s easy” like Steve Meyer did? Huh?
Thought not. Single designer wins.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3



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Socrates Puppette

posted August 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Glen Davidson (August 6, 2009 12:26 PM): “But can you get a paper into a journal saying “evolution’s hard, magic’s easy” like Steve Meyer did? Huh? Thought not. Single designer wins.”
I have a call in right now to Ejecta Mathematica. They do 10-minute reviews over the telephone, without ever seeing a manuscript, just like Dembski gets from veterinary professors for his books.
If no joy, however, another concept is already fulminating under a fume hood in the laboratory of partly-baked ideas. The provisional name is “Evolving Designer Theory” (EVT) The designer starts out as a simple oaf, and gradually becomes more proficient, going from mere autocatalytic reactions in a lipid bilayer to RNA, then serendipitously discovers DNA in a disused spitoon, and is ultimately able to leap tall primates in a single bound. Of course, failed attempts are strewn about the landscape, as you might imagine.
EVT may mimic ordinary materialistic evolution closely enough that no separate observations, experiments, or predictions are necessary. Preliminary results from the Non Compos Mentis Institute are encouraging. Their trained alchemists and astrologers—”Nincompoops,” as they like to call themselves—have already replicated the Fisher-Wright equations for jean flow in a population of California hippies. Who knows what lies further down the path toward developing a theistic model indistinguishable from Darwinism, but much cozier for creationists?.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm


Soc and/or Olorin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populous
In this game, first developed for the Amiga, Atari ST and PC, the player adopts the role of a deity and assumes the responsibility to shepherd people by direction, manipulation, and divine intervention. The player has the ability to shape the landscape and grow their civilization with the overall aim of having it conquer an enemy force, which is led by an opposing deity.
As the game progresses, the player rules over a variety of different civilizations, including Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval.
The more followers you had, the more powerful your miracles were.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm


Socrates Puppette (August 6, 2009 3:05 PM): “They do 10-minute reviews over the telephone, without ever seeing a manuscript, just like Dembski gets from veterinary professors for his books.”
Alors, Dimbulb. That was Behe, for “The Edge of Evolution”.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm


Gabriel Hanna (August 6, 2009 3:34 PM): “Soc and/or Olorin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populous
Well huh. Sounds like SimGod to me. Would they dare? Maxis, I mean.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 6, 2009 at 4:34 pm


Olorin:Well huh. Sounds like SimGod to me. Would they dare? Maxis, I mean.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simearth
In SimEarth, the player can vary a planet’s atmosphere, temperature, landmasses, etc, then place various forms of life on the planet and watch them evolve. Since it is a software toy, the game does not have any required goals. The big (and difficult) challenge is to evolve sentient life and an advanced civilization. The development stages of the planet can be reverted and repeated, until the planet “dies” 10 billion years after its creation, the estimated time when the Sun will become a red giant and kill off all of the planet’s life.
The game models the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock (who assisted with the design and wrote an introduction to the manual), and one of the options available to the player is the simplified “Daisyworld” model.
Your comment “Would Maxis dare” reminds me of what Screwtape said about Hell’s strategy. In a skeptical age, get everyone worried about mysticism. In a libertine age, get everyone worried about Puritanism. In a secularizing age, get everyone worried about religion.
Do you know how often I read in our student newpsaper about how sexually repressed American culture is?
What do you mean, “would Maxis dare” to make a God simulation? That’s pretty funny. Where have you been the last fifty years?
I liked SimEarth but it wasn’t easy to figure out, and not a lot of people played it.
A feature of the game is that all taxa of multicellular animals are on an equal footing, and thus it is possible to evolve, for example, intelligent molluscs. The two single-celled lifeform taxa, Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes (or Bacteria and Amoebas, in-game respectively) are treated specially. Some examples of animal taxa include Radiates and Cetaceans as well as more well known taxa such as fish and birds. As an “Easter egg,” there is also machine life, which can appear if a city of the highest technology level (nanotechnology) is destroyed by a nuclear explosion. Machine life can thrive in any biome or environmental conditions, generally out-competing any other life forms present, and can itself eventually evolve intelligence and build cities. Additionally, there are Carniferns, which are mutated, carnivorous plants, which can occur only naturally. Having an abundance of insects allows for these life-forms to develop. Carniferns are able to develop intelligence just as animals can. In addition to the familiar types, the long-extinct “trichordates” are included. The game states that “we [the game's developers] felt sorry for them, and are giving them a chance for survival in SimEarth”.
I immediately thought of David’s squid posts.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm


Gabriel: “Your comment “Would Maxis dare” reminds me of what Screwtape said about Hell’s strategy. In a skeptical age, get everyone worried about mysticism. In a libertine age, get everyone worried about Puritanism. In a secularizing age, get everyone worried about religion”
No, I meant would Maxis dare to name a game “SimGod”? I’ll grant that the effect is already there.
I loved SimCity until it got too realistic. Why couldn’t they leave well enough alone, with simple symbols for the elements? Next thing you know, they’ll remake chess with arrows flying from the crenelated rooks, and knights in full caparison, blowing steam from flaring nostrils. When it starts to obscure the game, it’s time to quit.
Ah, yes, Screwtape. Been a long time. My first exposure to C.S. Lewis was “The Silent Planet.” Looks like Hollywood has run out of audience with only 2 of the Narnia Chronicles. Too bad.



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Jim

posted August 6, 2009 at 6:01 pm


Glen Davidson: “…can you get a paper into a journal saying ‘evolution’s hard, magic’s easy’ like Steve Meyer did?”
Your ignorance of ID, and of the things that ID theorists like Meyer actually say, is most impressive. The irony is that you expect people to take your uninformed criticisms of ID seriously.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 6, 2009 at 6:36 pm


Your ignorance of ID, and of the things that ID theorists like Meyer actually say, is most impressive. The irony is that you expect people to take your uninformed criticisms of ID seriously.

First off, you’re only lying when you say that I’m ignorant of ID and liars like Meyer, once again showing that truth is not your concern. Not for the first time, but lying for religion is respected here, so I guess you may as well keep it up.
Secondly, Meyer’s “arguments” really do practically collapse into what I wrote, although if you were at all knowledgeable and honest you’d have realized that it was hyperbole, not to be taken literally. Being an IDist, however, you have to misconstrue everything, so it’s not surprising that you’d get that as wrong as everything else, while blaming others for your own dishonest misportrayal. One never knows how much of what you write is due to ignorance/stupidity, and how much is due to dishonesty, because it appears that those two major flaws in your brain support each other.
You know what? I’ve never received an honest and decent response from a single IDist on this forum. You’re even worse than many, though, Jim, never reading anything properly, and any lie is fine with you. So as usual, nothing you write honestly answers what I write, and you merely lie once again that I’m “ignorant” of the ID that I know very well, and which I answer in a way that you can’t even begin to refute.
Then again, anyone who takes a joke literally is far from having the wherewithall to begin to deal with the adult world.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 6, 2009 at 6:43 pm


Jim:Your ignorance of ID, and of the things that ID theorists like Meyer actually say, is most impressive. The irony is that you expect people to take your uninformed criticisms of ID seriously.
Anybody can do that. See?
Your ignorance of evolution, and of the things that biologists like Dawkins actually say, is most impressive. The irony is that you expect people to take your uninformed criticisms of evolution seriously.
What did you add to the discussion, Jim? Nothing.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 9:40 pm


Jim, when CSI doesn’t imply design EVEN ACCORDING TO MEYER’S OWN LOGIC,[1] then it’s time for you to wonder whether you yourself understand what ID is all about.
It was indeed mirthful at the Kitzmiller trial when the plaintiffs’ attorney asked the defendant school board members and ID shills to define “intelligent design,” and none of them, not one, could do it.
When nothing is under the shell you turn over, but always promised under the next shell, or the one after that, you have to start wondering about the pettifogging thimbleriggers who run the game.
We could perhaps judge your creds in simple probability, since it’s central to this argument. Suppose you call the NIH and tell them that you have discovered a test to detect a rare disease that kills a hundred Americans every year. The test is 95% accurate, and costs only $10 per person.. What are the odds that they will award you a grant to develop your test?[2]
===============
[1] See Olorin comment supra, timestamped August 4, 2009 11:50 PM. That comment contains two definitions of intelligent design direct from the Discovery Institute. I had looked at half a dozen other definitions from DI/CSC sites, and they all had the same fault. Check them out.
[2] Well, maybe you shouldn’t feel too bad. The TSA falls for this one on a regular basis, for detecting terrorists.



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Olorin

posted August 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm


Gabriel, Glen, here is a very rough preliminary attempt at an explanation as to why “information” is such an attractor of creationist arguments. Since the main discussion on this thread seems to have wound down, I would appreciate any comments, criticisms, or other thought you may have. Gratias ago. Efharisto. Merci. Dank. Spasibo. Arigatoh. Xe-xe. Mahalo. Shakron. Pasalamatan. Did I say thank you?.
===================
What is the candle-like attraction that information holds for creationist moths? Could it be traced to paradigm leakage?
The second law of thermodynamics has been a long-standing argument by creationists. How, they cry, could life reveres the flow of entropy and become more and more organized, exceptr for the guiding hand of an intelligence?
Eventually enough people saw through the sham, and realized that open thermodynamic systems can indeed increase their order, that thje creationists needed to move on. But nothing is ever really new under their sun. Then someone told them that entropy can be taken as a measure of information in a system. And information sounded like something that only intelligences produce.
Consider two paradigms. Instead of calling them Science and Religion, let’s name them more descriptively as the Natural Law Paradigm (NLP) and the Agent Based Paradigm (ABP). Every paradigm has elements that it employs to explain phenomena. The NLP has matter/energy, spare-time, forces, and so forth. The ABP includes intelligence, intentions, values, and so forth.
Some elements are similar in both paradigms. For example the “purposes” of ABP are parallel to, but not the same as “functions” in NLP. That is, both can say that a heart pumps blood. Yet when an ABPer says that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood, he implies something more than when the NLPer says that the function of the heart is to pump blood.—the ABP implies that the purpose predated the heart, that the heart was “intended” by some agency to pump blood.. The NLPer, an the other hand, merely means that pumping blood ids what the heart does, without any teleological overtones.
“Information” is a word that can be an element of either paradigm. Of the six relevant meanings of this word in the American Heritage Dictionary, all but #6 imply that an agent or intelligence has a role in producing the information. Yet the NLP itself measures and treats information without the implication of agency: the information capacity of a channel is independent of what the information might mean to either the sender or the recipient, but depends only upon the set of possible signals and their characteristics, such as relative frequencies. The information in a system of particles depends upon the particles’configuration, independent of how that configuration might have been produced, or what the configuration might “mean” to an observing agent.
Perhaps this is the key. When the ABP says “information,” the operative concept is “meaning.” For example, when an ABPer says “information,” he implies the existence of an agent to whom the information means something. As in the complex “specified” information of intelligent design. The information, ipso facto, cannot be information without an agent to specify it for a “purpose.” That is, to the ABP, the term is inherently freighted with the purpose or intention of an intelligent agent. Whereas the NLPere sees no such baggage. To him, “information” is just a measurable quantity that can be useful as a measure of complexity, capacity, configuration, or whatever.[2]
It would be preferable to have two different words for the two paradigms. Perhaps “measure” for NLP and “significance” for ABP. But we are probably stuck with “information” in NLP, because of its prevalence. The term “meaning” seems more appropriate to the corresponding intention-freighted element of ABP.
So what is paradigm leakage? It is the use of a term in one paradigm but with the implications of a different paradigm. It’s a form of ambiguity—or, when done deliberately to sow confusion we call it equivocation.
I propose that intelligent design’s use of the term information is a deliberately unstated paradigm leak for convincing the ignorant that science must accept an agent from the religious paradigm.
============
[1] In·for·ma·tion … 1. Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction. 2. Knowledge of a specific event or situation; intelligence. See Synonyms at knowledge. 3. A collection of facts or data: statistical information. 4. The act of informing or the condition of being informed; communication of knowledge….. 5. Computer Science. A nonaccidental signal or character used as an input to a computer or communications system. 6. A numerical measure of the uncertainty of an experimental outcome.
[2] Likewise “force” in NLP is merely a quantity that relates masses to each other. It has no implication that a purposive agent acts, as when we say, in our ABP moments, “The government forces me to pay taxes.” This purpossive sense was, by the way, common in mechanics before Newton. Aristotle posited that rocks fell to the ground because they “wanted” to reunite with their own element, earth.
======================



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Olorin

posted August 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm


A cool rainy morning at Lake Wobegon, and my copy of “Signature in a Cell” has arrived from Noaz, Ark., or wherever they are lashed together. Unfortunately, a rush review job will prevent plumbing its depths for a while.[1]
Unlike “Design of Life,” Meyer’s book is of medium trade quality.[2] Like “Design,” however, it is hawked by a small publisher of religious materials.[3] HarperOne [4] proclaims that “Our books on spirituality, personal growth, and religion have changed people’s lives, influenced cultures, and built bridges between faiths.” No science here.
A quick glance at the duodecalogue of Appendix I indicates that Meyer’s vaunted Twelve Predictions are mostly, if not entirely, fusty creationist pap. Film at 11.
=================
[1] Too bad, Alan. (Or has he decamped?)
[2] “Design” boasts coffee-table quality for garbage content. The pages are heavy and calendared, the gutters and margins generous, the signatures well sewn, and the ink of excellent quality.
[3] “Design’s” publisher is Foundation for Thought and Ethics, the bozos whose CEO was caught lying in his Kitamiller testimony about the nature of “Of Pandas and People”.
[4] Originally hatched as Harper San Francisco, now hoping to outgrow its chrysalis as a regional publisher.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm


I propose that intelligent design’s use of the term information is a deliberately unstated paradigm leak for convincing the ignorant that science must accept an agent from the religious paradigm.
Yeah, I’ve thought this too. It’s like other terms in physics. According to a physicist carrying a heavy box in your arms from one place to another is not “work”. An electron has “spin”, but it is a point particle that can’t meaningfully rotate. Etc. These words are technical constructs with only a metaphorical resemblance to the English words that name them.
“Information”, in a thermodynamic sense, has only a metaphorical resemblance to the other English definitions. “Work” and “spin” and “information” are just labels we attach to procedures we use to calculate something.



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Jim

posted August 7, 2009 at 9:38 pm


Glen Davidson: “First off, you’re only lying when you say that I’m ignorant of ID…”
If you’re not ignorant of ID, then your persistent misrepresentations of it can be attributed to one of two things (or both):
1) You’re stupid, or
2) You’re a chronic liar.
Take your pick. I think it’s more charitable to think that you misrepresent ID with great regularity simply because you don’t know what you’re talking about.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 7, 2009 at 10:42 pm


I think it’s more charitable to think that you misrepresent ID with great regularity simply because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Jim, you’ve been repeatedly called on to coherently explain these things. You have failed every time, because you yourself do not understand them.
For example, how do you calculate the CSI of something? You don’t know. All you do is tell us that DEMBSKI knows (when he’s not too busy making fart jokes about the judge he was too cowardly to testify before–but he kept the $20,000 he was offered for testifying) and call us “chronic liars.”
You’re just wasting your time, repeating quotes you don’t understand (like you know what Shannon information is) and calling us names.
You yourself don’t know any science, and you are easily scammed by people who dress up your religion in scientific language.



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Jim

posted August 8, 2009 at 7:39 am


Gabriel Hanna: “You yourself don’t know any science, and you are easily scammed by people who dress up your religion in scientific language.”
If I had even the slightest respect for your opinions, I might try to defend myself against the false accusations you make here. But since I don’t, I won’t.



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Olorin

posted August 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm


Jim (August 8, 2009 7:39 AM): “If I had even the slightest respect for your opinions, I might try to defend myself against the false accusations you make here. But since I don’t, I won’t.”
Gabriel, perhaps Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is germane here: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
You might ask your interlibrary loan for a copy of “Voodoo Science.” The author, Robert Parks, was a physics professor at U Maryland who was asked to represent the American Physical Society in Washiongton for government relations. In this job, he was personally involved in several major outbreaks of pseudoscience.[1]
The incidents Parks reports are amusing and instructive in themselves. What is more instructive, however, is the psychology of the purveyors. Fleischman & Pons, Joe Newman, and all the rest came to BELIEVE so strongly in their work that it became an a part of their lives. Any attack on their results was an attack on them. Evidence and ridicule only strengthened their faith and made them more defensive..
Read “Voodoo Science.”[2] It’s an eye-opener. You may come to understand Jim and Alan better. Even though they will never understand the faults of their belief.
==============
[1] None involving creationism, or any aspect of biology.
[2] Parks calls the Apollo moon-landing program pseudo-science, because its primary goal was not research. So be prepared.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm


Jim:if I had even the slightest respect for your opinions, I might try to defend myself against the false accusations you make here. But since I don’t, I won’t.
So when people who read the thread, wanting to know how ID is science, read your posts, they will discover that you refuse to defend your ideas, or even explain them. Instead, you call names and hold your breath until you turn blue. They will conclude, from your behavior, that you don’t know what you are talking about.
Do you want to explain how to calculate the CSI of “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL”? Alan seems to have abandoned the challenge. I have actually calculated it several ways, getting different answers each time depending on what process is used to generate the sequence, which is the whole problem with the CSI concept–it is impossible to say how much CSI something has without knowing the process that generated it. Dembski does the same, but sweeps it under the rug.
You could discuss that calmly and rationally with us, but you’d rather sulk, it seems.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm


Olorin:Parks calls the Apollo moon-landing program pseudo-science, because its primary goal was not research. So be prepared.
I’m familiar with Bob Parks… anyway, calling the Apollo program “pseudoscience” sounds like a category error. It is like calling the search for the Northwest Passage or the building of the Erie Canal “pseudoscience”.
Engineering is what got us to the moon. Politics is what chose getting to the moon as a goal. Now maybe this was sold as “advancing science” (I’m too young to remember), and you can argue how much it did that as opposed to advancing technology, but that doesn’t make it pseudoscience.
I think if Kennedy had declared his goal to be “generate all electricity by perpetual motion” or “proved all Americans with an accurate birth horoscope”, then that would have been an example of pseudoscience.



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Olorin

posted August 8, 2009 at 9:42 pm


Jim (August 8, 2009 7:39 AM): “If I had even the slightest respect for your opinions, I might try to defend myself against the false accusations you make here. But since I don’t, I won’t.”
Gabriel, perhaps Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is germane here: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
You might ask your interlibrary loan for a copy of “Voodoo Science.” The author, Robert Parks, was a physics professor at U Maryland who was asked to represent the American Physical Society in Washiongton for government relations. In this job, he was personally involved in several major outbreaks of pseudoscience.[1]
The incidents Parks reports are amusing and instructive in themselves. What is more instructive, however, is the psychology of the purveyors. Fleischman & Pons, Joe Newman, and all the rest came to BELIEVE so strongly in their work that it became an a part of their lives. Any attack on their results was an attack on them. Evidence and ridicule only strengthened their faith and made them more defensive..
Read “Voodoo Science.”[2] It’s an eye-opener. You may come to understand Jim and Alan better. Even though they will never understand the faults of their belief.
==============
[1] None involving creationism, or any aspect of biology.
[2] Parks calls the Apollo moon-landing program pseudo-science, because its primary goal was not research. So be prepared.



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Olorin

posted August 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm


Sorry for the dup. David’s CAPTCHA screws up again.



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Olorin

posted August 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm


WHEW! 327 comments on “Signature in the Cell” and no one has actually posted the 12 predictions that Meyer says will vindicate his book and intelligent design. Well, here they are. Please pardon the two-fingered typing, with concomitant erors.
From a preliminary scan, it seems that none of them actually flow from the definition of intelligent design, nor do they inherently distinguish between ID and evolution. Therefore, they could be true without demonstrating ID at all. Several of them are phrased in terms of concepts unique to ID, whose definitions can vbe twisted to make them true a priori. One was shown to be false a long time ago (#5); did meyer miss it, or did Jonathan Wells make him include it anyway? Evolution makes the same prediction in some cases (e.g., #11).
=============================
[1] No undirected process will demonstrate the capacity to generate 500 bits of new information starting from a nonbiological source
[2] Informational accounting will reveal that sources of active information are responsible for putatively successful computer-based evolutionary simulation.
[3] Future experiment will continue to show that RNA catalysts lack the capacities necessary to render the RNA world scenario plausible.
[4] Investigation of the logic of regulatory and and information-processing systems in cells will reveal the use of design strategies and logic that mirrors(though possibly exceeds in complexity) those used in systems designed by engineers. Cell biologists will find regulatory systems that function in accord with a logic that can be exposed as an algorithm.
[5] Sophisticated imaging techniques will reveal nanomachines (turbines) in centrioles that play a role in cell division. Other evidence will show that malfunctions in the regulation of these machines are responsible for chromosomal damage.
[7] If intelligent design played a role in the origin of life, but not subsequently, prokaryotic cells should carry amounts of genetic information that exceed their own needs or retain vestiges of having done so, and molecular biology should provide evidence of information-rich structures that exceed the causal powers of chance, necessity, or the combination of the two.
[8] If a design intelligence acted discretely in the history of life, the various subdisciplines of biology should show evidence of polyphyly.
[9] The fossil record, in particular, should show evidence of discrete infusions of information into the biosphere at episodic intervals as well as a top-down, rather than a bottom-up, pattern of appearance of new fossil forms.
[10] If an intelligent (and benevolent) agent designed life, then studies of putatively bad designs in lifwe—such as the vertebrate retina and virulent bacteria—should reveal either (a) reasons for the designs that show a hiddwen functional logic, or (b) evidence of decay of originally good designs.
[11] If the flagellar motor was intelligently designed and the type-3 secretory system devolved from it, the genes that code for the bacterial flagellar motor should be older than those that code for the proteins of the T3SS, and not the reverse. Alternatively, if the T3SS and the flagellar motor arose by design independently, T3SS should have unique (nonhomologous) genes that are ot present in the genome for the flagellar motor.
[12] The functional sequences of amino acids within amino acid-sequence space should be extremely rare rather than common.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm


Olorin: It seems the Discovery Institute can finally put some of that $4 million budget to work. I eagerly await the peer-reviewed scientific research they will no doubt be publishing.
Now that they’ve made their predictions, they can get busy on testing them in the lab, now can’t they?



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Olorin

posted August 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm


Gabriel Hanna (August 8, 2009 10:54 PM): “Now that they’ve made their predictions, they can
get busy on testing them in the lab, now can’t they?”
Surely you jest.
Most importantly, none orf the 12 predictions even constitute positive evidence for ID, because the definition of ID is incapable of making predictions within its own framework. The predictions must rely upon outside assumptions and unsupported analogies.[0]
Notice how many of the predictions are of the form “so-and-so will never be forund.” Until real
biologists produce a counter-example, the DI can lie back in its hammock sipping a designer
mai-tai, and say “See?? We”re still right!” When the counter-example is produced, they will
claim, along with Michael Behe, “Yeabut it’s not good enough.” When a counter-example finally overwhelms all objections, the prediction will quietly disappear.
Some of the predictions concern ill-defined constructs that ID can manipulate, or that are
irrelevant. For example, Robert Marks (#2) claims that all evolutionary simulations include “active information” that the blackguard scientists slip into it to make it work. If you read Marks’ two unpublished[1] papers, you’ll realize that the soi-disant “active” info represents the environment of the organisms being simulated. So the active-info claim reduces to a claim that evolution should occur without any environment whatsoever. Well, duh.
Some predictions are prima facie untestable under the definition of ID. For instance, #9. Without a proposed mechanism of design, what kind of evidence might show “infusions” of information? This is the Cambrian-explosion set-piece, where scientific ignorance constitutes
“evidence” for ID.
Some predictions are consistent with evolution. Polyphyly (#8)? Even Darwin said “one or a few” initial ancestors. Rare functional DNA sequences (#12)? Theyare the ones that survive evolution. Presently existing species also form a rare subset of all species that have ever
existed. They survived the evolutionary roller-coaster.
I hope some experts[2] will weigh into this list fairly quickly, to forestall claims of fulfillment by the minions of the Dishonesty Institute.
============
[0] E.g., a designer who produces “good” designs (prediciton #10) and cells using human “design strategies” (#4).
[1] Two years after drafts appeared, they haven’t been published anywhere, evwen in the DI’s captive “Complexity” journal.
[2] I’m a tyro at this game. 50 years in computers, with 10 years in pattern recognition at IBM Research, and the past few years dabbling in bioinformatics for a prominent university in this dield. Most of this not as a researcher, but as a patent attorney.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm


You have to wonder just how much damage to integrity ID causes. Jim just comes in with lies and no intelligence, attacks, is called on his lies, and then he just repeats his lies, ad nauseam. He doesn’t even understand what a joke is, although it’s true that the joke struck very close to the truth.
But really, how different is he from David, who also makes endless claims about “Darwinists” that he can’t back up? Maligning others is his primary mode of “argumentation,” and not just about evolution.
Well, enough of that, Jim isn’t even an interesting troll, and we’ve given up on meaningful dialog with David long ago.
As for the “predictions” of ID listed by Meyer, almost none seem to have anything to do with design itself, and continue the long dreary mistake of ID’s false dilemma that it must be evolution or design, nothing in between. Oh, and “design” remains ambiguous and unlike what we know about actual design and designers. Severak were interesting, though:

[3] Future experiment will continue to show that RNA catalysts lack the capacities necessary to render the RNA world scenario plausible.

Talk about open-ended! And suppose that this prediction failed? Would Meyer and company actually admit that it failed? Unlikely in the extreme.
But then what if the RNA world were shown to lack credibility? First off, it would demonstrate nothing about design, as previously noted. And secondly, it is unlikely that the RNA world would have to be true if either abiogenesis or evolution are responsible for life. There have certainly been a number of scenarios which bypassed the RNA world. However, there are hints of an RNA world in genomes today, which it seems that Meyer does not address, not surprising when he generally lacks attention to the evidence (as I’ve shown in commenting on the preview and the presentation expressly made to sell his book).

[8] If a design intelligence acted discretely in the history of life, the various subdisciplines of biology should show evidence of polyphyly.

Why? What does he know about design and designers that would suggest to him that slavish re-use of genes in vertebrates would take place (a prediction of evolution, unlikely with known designers), while polyphyly would in fact take place?
And I’m not sure what he means by polyphyly, if it isn’t just taking that fact that some traits are considered polyphyletic now, and trying to pretend that this is a prediction of ID.
If he’s discussing the origin of life, nothing about evolution predicts that all life would come from a single ancestor. Darwin left the issue open, and while the fact that all life appears to have come from at least a single population (perhaps one promiscuously swapping “genetic” information) seems to support evolutionary ideas especially well, life could well have arisen several times so far as we know.
“Predictions” like that of #10 have long been shown to be untrue in the case of “transitional organisms.” Indeed, evolution’s predictions are that life will not be optimally designed in very specific evolutionarily-constrained ways, and the fact that life has ever been constrained by evolution, and not by limits of any known designers, remains one of the most important facts supporting evolution.
This is what I meant with my comments about “prediction #3,” the mere fact that all evidence is that life is constrained by evolutionary mechanisms (non-teleological) and has nothing to do with good or poor design by any known intelligence, simply means nothing to these people. They don’t allow ID to be falsified, because it is religion.
“Prediction #11″ is obviously only aimed at shoring up the older cherry-picked (gee, let’s find something really ancient for which evolutionary evidence is especially sparse) claims of ID, having nothing to do with any inherent predictions of “design” or of evolution.
Anyway, it’s another waste of paper, the “predictions” being merely how I previously characterized them, as “something that somebody said,” nothing that derives clearly from known design mechanisms or principles.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted August 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm


If an intelligent (and benevolent) agent designed life, then studies of putatively bad designs in lifwe—such as the vertebrate retina and virulent bacteria—should reveal either (a) reasons for the designs that show a hiddwen functional logic, or (b) evidence of decay of originally good designs.

I was going to comment previously on the weirdness of this “prediction,” both because Behe argued that P. falciparum‘s (not, of course, a bacterium) “good design” pointed toward the designer, and because Meyer doesn’t even bother to distinguish between actual “poor design” and the “good design” of virulent pathogens.
So was Behe’s “prediction” of the virulence of malarial pathogens wrong? Or did Meyer just realize that crediting god the designer for painful diseases was poor PR.
Does Meyer even know what evolution predicts, or does he somehow suppose that virulent bacteria are “poor designs”? And does he have any way of showing that malarial pathogens are due to “degeneration” in the predicted evolutionary arms races, or is this just another sop to people he realizes are generally too ignorant to know the difference?
Anyhow, nothing in his “predictions” seems aimed at science or at scientists, rather it’s all just hand-waving for the gullible (if he is among the gullible, he may really think these to be genuine predictions in science). Apparently that’s all ID can do, just repeat junk that has long been shown to be merely fraudulent and/or ignorant to the level of pain.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Olorin

posted August 9, 2009 at 11:16 pm


“If an intelligent (and benevolent) agent designed life, then studies of putatively bad designs in lifwe—such as the vertebrate retina and virulent bacteria—should reveal either (a) reasons for the designs that show a hiddwen functional logic, or (b) evidence of decay of originally good designs.
This whole prediction. like most of the others, is predicated upon a “good” (i.e., competent) designer. This characteristic is not inherent in the definition of intelligent design. So it would be easy to toss it overboard if necessary.
The “if …benevolent clause is bothersome, too. That’s an easy out, and Behe took it for malaria.
The thing that wonders me is that Meyer is nobody’s fool. (Unlike, say, Casey Luskin—who is what the Chinese call a running dog). We must assume that what he says has been carefully thought out—perhaps with a trap or two for the unwary.
In any event, I’m hoping for a quick analysis of tthese predictions, before Meyer can morph them to fit coming research, back away from any of them silently, or claim victory—e.g., #11, which seems consistent with evolution, and thus could be fulfilled by a mainstream research paper in the near future.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm


Good points, Olorin.
But either way he’s quite wrong to portray virulent bacteria as if they were “putatively bad design.”
Only with certain (generally religious) assumptions that bypass science would lead to any sort of conclusion that virulent bacteria are “bad design.”
Again, it’s incoherent garbage.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Socrates Pupette

posted August 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm


Yawn. Last one out, please turn out the lights.
You don’t suppose that Alan and Jim were getting course credit from Dembski’s seminary course on ID dfor their comments, do you?



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Abraham clarke

posted August 17, 2009 at 10:51 am


Stephen c. meyer perpetuates the hoax first claimed by Crick and Watson that DNA (deoxynoradrenaline)exists in “cells” and makes all life somehow magically work!
This is utter balderdash. there are no “cells” in any living creature. Science has never ever shown that “cells” or DNA exist. The whole crumbling edifice of biology has hastily thrown together a hoax to blinker people to the real world. “Cells” are nothing more than bacteria feeding on the material of our bodies. DNA is nothing but a fiction cooked up by Crick and Watson to get a Knobel prize.
There are no “cells” in the human body. It doesn’t need them. There is only dead matter that the Almighty, in his infinite knowlege, has animated by putting a soul into it. The soul is electromagnetic in nature and vanishes to heaven when the body “dies”. Heaven can be heard on radio telescopes. It is the background “noise” created by the big bang.
Intelligent Design denies the creator his due and perpetuates the hoaxes of “cells and DNA.



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Elf M. Sternberg

posted October 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm


So, I read it.
First, the “Massive evidence” isn’t really there; he rests too heavily on Dembski’s work, which has been thoroughly debunked, and he very carefully elides whole areas of study.
Secondly, he does not describe “what science is.” He describes what he wants science to be. And what he wants it to be is divorced from the real world. He doesn’t seem to understand that his whole plea (resting, bizarrely enough, on a comment from Lamarck!) is one in which “historical processes” and “processes now acting” are distinguished wholly by whim. He gives no reason for separating the two other than convenience.
Which is devastating to his whole argument: you cannot have “science” if you wish to arbitrarily say, for no reason other than it’s convenient to claim so, that the designer “was working on biology once,” but “biology is a robust and reliable science without evidence of ongoing intervention.”
The book is wholly flawed throughout. I’m putting together a more comprehensive view, but suffice it to say that I took your challenge, and you, like Meyer, are a victim of pareidolia: you see what you want to see.



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Mark

posted October 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm


Elf wrote: “…on Dembski’s work, which has been thoroughly debunked…”
How do I know you’re not just parroting something you read once by a Dawkins supporter?



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Alan

posted November 25, 2009 at 7:45 pm


Only a dyed in the wool Darwinist would be motivated to eagerly seek out evidence of “poor design” in biological systems e.g. the preposterous assertion that the vertibrate eye is badly designed, or that designs need to be optimal.The eagles eye is badly designed because?
This is another example of a thoroughly wrongheaded paradigm leading to ideologically driven predictions which unfortunately misdirect research and hold back science. Each new discovery of exquisite design in biological systems is met by Darwinian bewilderment, followed by much headscratching and then the inevitable just-so stories.
Next, history is revised, in order to present the complex new biological system, not only as an example of the unlimited power of random mutation and natural selection to achieve miracles, but also as a successful prediction of Darwinian theory.
The final stage is to engage in much back patting and self congratulation, before distorting and then overhyping the significance of the discovery,in time to showcase it to the general public. (I forgot to mention the application for a lucrative research grant to study eye inefficiency of vertibrates)
Rule 1. Presume biological systems are simple, cobbled together, inefficient and poorly designed, until your forced to concede otherwise.
Rule 2. Go for the theologically inspired “God wouldn’t do it that way” – type arguments, such are the argument from evil, when all else fails.



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Elf Sternberg

posted December 15, 2009 at 11:03 am


Mark: Because unlike most people, I can do the math. And I understand that Dembski starts with, shall we say, unacceptable axioms.
Dembski’s attempts to model evolution as a search function over a given landscape is a very poor starting point: the landscape of evolution is, itself, changing over time. The smooth function of search algorithms cannot model the automata (which is more my mathematical speciality) of evolutionary biology. Since you can’t know what the landscape looks like without, you know, actually running the algorithm (letting exaptation do its work), you cannot model evolutionary biology that way.
As Mark Carroll-Chu pointed out, Dembski’s other big contention is that all search functions inherently contain the information for which they’re searching. This sounds good, but it can be applied to intelligent agents: for an intelligent agent to create whatever it is he’s looking for, he must already contain that information. Under Dembski’s assumptions, information is never created. Never. Not once. We never create anything new.
Dembski’s work is accurate and innovative– but it is not accurate when it is innovative, and it is not innovative when it is accurate.



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Liam

posted February 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm


I’d be grateful if pro-neo-Darwinian folks would be able to express their ideas without calling everybody who doesn’t believe as they believe every name in the book.
Or, keep it up, it tells a lot about you.
What is natural selection, by the way? Some live, some die. Right, there’s your theory, with the exception of ‘things change.’
Remarkable. A grand, unifying theory indeed.
We assume a flux, the change is inherent in the system – wave like, wiggling change, undirected, somehow, undifferentiated, not pointing toward any particular variation, or variation at all – who says that these wavelets are phenotypic? Perhaps all ‘accidental random change’ goes to bad versus not so bad breath….
Who knows? What is natural selection, and how did it make us who made the computer on which we argue and argue and argue?
How did blind dumb luck make a cell? Ah, the cell… back to the subject. The structures of a cell – do they give an indication of … form? Function? Are they reproducible? (Do they, yes they do). Are they transievers of digitally encoded information?
At what level does this indicate a mute, blind, dumb-as-mud process? (And how dumb is mud, by the way, teaming with cells recycling tissue into material so that a living cycle can bloom again?)
If some of us who do not for a second buy this 17th C. Cartesian ‘world-as-wooden-machine’ basement in which the house of Darwin sits – if we are also not Christian, or young-Earth creationists, but rather a diverse lot who’ve walked and read and seen a great deal of the variety of life, human and other, on the planet, then what does it do to your primary objection to looking at a ‘design inference’ in the biotechnology – highly structured as it is – of life?
You guys are truly rock-solid in your beliefs. Those of us who want to ask questions apparently have a fight on our hands. So be it. See you at the races.



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