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Date: 2002/05/06 02:19:43, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
DeLay was asked where kids should go to college. The questioner apparently asked this in the context of teaching creationism.

Houston Chronicle article

William Dembski is mentioned in the above article.

Note the mode of discussion DeLay's spokesman, Jonathan Grella, uses in talking about Barry Lynn. "Guilt by association" tactics seem to come in both rightist and leftist flavors.

As a student at A&M, I have to say that I saw no evidence of a lack of conservatism on campus.  I didn't live in the dorms, so I can't speak to the reports of rampant hanky-panky.

Dallas Morning News article

Date: 2002/05/06 02:25:59, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I would like to announce the availability of the "Finite Improbability Calculator".

The Finite Improbability Calculator is a tool for exploring the very small probabilities encountered in applying some of the formulas in William Dembski's "No Free Lunch" to biological phenomena. Some basic functions are implemented, such as factorial, change of base, permutation, and combination. Further, several of the formulas found in section 5.10 of "No Free Lunch" are implemented.

I did this as an aid to my own analysis of Dembski's work, and realized that others could benefit from it as well. The routines are specifically made so that they handle very large and very small numbers without causing floating-point overflow or underflow errors.

Comments are welcome.

Date: 2002/05/06 02:31:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I was able to attend the event due to good timing on other travel.  

Eugenie Scott moderated.  William Dembski and Michael Behe presented on "intelligent design" and were questioned by Robert Pennock and Kenneth Miller.

Dembski used a lot of negative argumentation in his presentation.   One of the parts which wasn't so negative included his capsule example of specified complexity as needing a long message and an independent pattern to match it.  Dembski invoked the bacterial flagellum as an example of specified complexity in biology.  He floated the claim that the only known examples of successful co-option come from human engineering.  He touted section 5.10 of his book, "No Free Lunch", as giving the probability calculations needed to find "horrendous" probabilities of getting a flagellum.  While Dembski had a section of his talk devoted to talking about "arguing from ignorance", it did not seem to me that he actually disposed of the issue.  Dembski reiterated the claim that design is a notion belonging to statistics and complexity theory.  And to top things off, Dembski even repeated his claim that there is a room at the Smithsonian devoted to artifacts known to be designed but for which no purpose is known.

Of course, there is no such room, which can be confirmed by contacting the Smithsonian, as Jeff Shallit has done.  There was once an exhibit (1980-81) with one display case in which some artifacts were displayed.

I have to wonder why it is that if design is properly a statistical and complexity theoretic notion, why hasn't Dembski published his "design inference" in that literature.  It would seem to be a neutral ground in which to gain some credibility for the concept.  I don't think that the statisticians really care about the evolution/creation issue, so the whole thing about the "Darwinist conspiracy" should be a non-issue in that context.

Rob Pennock tried to get Dembski to commit to saying what sorts of things can be taught if one accepts "intelligent design" by contrasting that to what science already has resolved.  Issues like the age of the earth and whether a global flood could be taught were brought up.  But Dembski dodged making any stand on these issues, saying that his stance is that "design" is detectable.  I think this showed that Dembski is simply evasive on these points which might lose the ID movement the support of YEC fellow-travelers.  Others have opined that this showed Dembski's fortitude in refusing to grant Pennock any points.

Miller tried to get Dembski to state when the intelligent designer had to infuse the "specified complexity" seen in various events mentioned by Dembski and other ID advocates.  Did the origin of life 3 billion years ago indicate an intervention by the intelligent designer?  Maybe, maybe not was about the extent of Dembski's reply.  For the bacterial flagellum, the Cambrian explosion, the emergence of various animal groups, "maybe, maybe not" was the sum total of Dembski's stance.  The specified complexity might have been input at the origin of the universe, and subsequent examples would have to be examined in detail.  ID could thus be compatible with some form of Deism, or an interventionist theology, but doesn't seem to have any way within it to decide between the two.

Michael Behe gave his usual talk on "irreducible complexity", including some discussion of mousetraps.

Ken Miller presented a four-step logical argument based upon things that Behe has said in the past.  Behe stated flatly that the second point was something he had never said, but Miller was able to pop up the full quote and citation showing that Behe had, indeed, said just that.  Miller then proceeded to show that for each of three biological systems that Behe has used in the past (the blood clotting cascade, the bacterial flagellum, and the eukaryotic cilium) that functional systems with fewer parts do exist.  Behe was caught flat-footed by Miller's citation of work from 1969 documenting that dolphins and whales lack Hagemann factor from their blood clotting cascade.  "I feel sorry for the dolphins," said Behe.  "There's no need to feel sorry for the dolphins," said Miller, "they are doing just fine."  Take away 40 proteins from the bacterial flagella, or 80% of the system, said Miller, and you still have a fully functional Type III secretory system.  Behe objected that these were not exactly the same proteins, but Miller countered that in each case they were quite similar with high sequence similarity in conserved regions.  For the eukaryotic cilium, Miller presented the case of cilia from eel sperm, that are missing several parts found in other cilia, but which are still fully functional.

One criticism of Miller's presentation would be that Behe kept saying that Miller was not taking into account Behe's full argument.  I think that Behe would have a point here if he could just cite the places where he had retracted the claims that Miller did critique.

Pennock made an incredibly telling point, in that neither Behe nor Dembski would reduce "irreducible complexity" to an independent and objective criterion that would not require Behe to pass judgment on whether a system was actually IC or not.  Pennock proposed that the use of knockout experiments could establish what is or is not IC.  Behe said that this would be a good place to start, but that he would reserve judgment.

Each of the participants was asked to give a URL.

Kenneth Miller

Rob Pennock

Michael Behe

William Dembski

Eugenie Scott

Date: 2002/05/06 12:26:38, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Transcripts would be good.  I'm trying to work out the issues on making transcripts available.  There was a complaint from one of the participants about making the audio recordings available.  Hopefully, there won't be such issues over the transcript.

Date: 2002/05/06 12:31:50, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I don't think it is an overanalysis of the situation.  Take a look, for instance, at William Dembski's book, No Free Lunch, and section 1.8 therein.  Within that, you'll find him discussing an argument by analogy eerily similar to your description.

Date: 2002/05/07 00:47:12, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
There are a number of critical reviews of Dembski's "The Design Inference".

Review by Ellery Eells

Review by Wesley R. Elsberry

Review by Fitelson et alia

Review by Richard Wein

Date: 2002/05/07 00:58:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I have an extended critique of this book at this page.

Date: 2002/05/07 02:24:06, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
My page on William A. Dembski.  This links to his own pages and essays, and also to critical views of his ideas.

Please use this thread for pointing out new essays, books, criticism, and news concerning William Dembski.

Date: 2002/05/07 10:07:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Intelligent Design advocates often deploy very negative analogies concerning their critics.  Such analogies have included things like the former Soviet regime, McCarthyites, and Nazis.

This thread is for documenting specific instances where ID advocates engage in political speech at the expense of their critics.

I'll start things off with a recent example.

Mark Hartwig: Compares Darwinists to Nazis

Mark Hartwig has taken over the "Weekly Wedge Update".  In his column for May 5, 2002, Hartwig makes an analogy between "Darwinists" and the Nazi oppressors of Czechoslovakia.

Quote
The intimidation tactics, however, signal something important about Darwinists. That "something" was explained in an insightful little piece by one A.J. Obrdlik. Published in 1942, it was a study of "gallows humor" in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. In that article, Obrdlik made a very keen observation:

Gallows humor is a reliable index of the morale of the oppressed whereas the reaction to it on the part of the oppressors tells a long story about the actual strength of the dictators: If they can afford to ignore it, they are strong; if they react wildly with anger, striking their victims with severe reprisals and punishment, they are not sure of themselves, no matter how much they display their might on the surface.

With the growing success of the Wedge, I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of this stuff. But Darwinist tactics will become a lot less intimidating as people realize that they signify not strength but panic.




Date: 2002/05/16 16:52:01, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On the ARN forum, "Ex-YEC-er" made this comment:

Quote
As far as the Brainstorm forum is concerned, my experiences differ significantly from yours, perhaps because I tend to be critical of Dembski's arguments. When mentioning references to Wesley Elsberry my posting was removed by the moderator. "No interest in the gospel of Elsberry...". When I forwarded my response to the administrator to Dembski (I was responding to his posting), Dembski had me banned and warned me that any attempt to complain about this would likely lead to my permanent banishment from the forum.


ARN forum thread on flagellar evolution

This, of course, intrigues me.

If anyone knows who "Ex-YEC-er" is, please ask him or her to get in touch with me about this.

Also, if you have direct experience with ISCID moderation removing or editing posts based upon references to particular critics, I would like to hear from you.

Date: 2002/05/17 10:02:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This forum is for brief posts relating upcoming or past events having to do with "intelligent design".  Discussion should be taken to the "All About Antievolution -> Intelligent Design" forum or one of the fora under "Specifically About Intelligent Design".

Please provide a link to online articles or announcements.  A short summary would be appropriate to describe what is linked.

Wesley

Date: 2002/05/17 11:12:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
2002/05/10

Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution" has been produced as a film suitable for television broadcast by "Coldwater Media".  It premiered in Seattle at Seattle Pacific University.

Origins of life film to premiere at SPU

Not the Whole Truth, a review by Roger Downey.

Documentation of the history of the DeHart case.  DeHart was featured in the "Icons" video.

Please add "Icons" video related links to this thread.

Date: 2002/05/17 19:19:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
In this ARN forum topic, the issue of arguing concerning optimality was raised.  The person bringing this up cited Dembski, but several of his ideas seem to stem from Paul Nelson's presentation back at the 1997 NTSE conference.

Basically, ID advocates object to optimality arguments by biologists when these venture into the realm of contrasting natural mechanisms with supposed supernatural mechanisms.  Paul Nelson made the observation that such argumentation presupposes certain "theological themata".  Nelson also asserted that in order to argue that some state observed in nature was sub-optimal, one would have to reliably know what the absolute optimal state was, and calculate an optimality deficit figure.

I responded to Nelson's assertion that knowledge of absolute optimality was a necessary part of a sub-optimality argument some time ago on the talk.origins newsgroup.  The response can be seen here, but the essential message is that a valid sub-optimality argument can be warranted on a strictly relative basis, with no need for absolute optimality to be known.

I also responded to William Dembski's essay on optimality argumentation, pointing out several problems in his argumentation.  Dembski's essay is here, and my response is here.



Date: 2002/05/17 19:40:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The "Coldwater Media" video of Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution" premiered on 2002/05/10, and since has been reported to have aired on several television stations in Ohio.  This deployment seems to be obviously political in nature, with an aim to influence voters, who in turn would influence the Board of Education to include "intelligent design" in school science standards, or at the least officially single out evolutionary biology as "controversial" and require the teaching of "evidence against" evolution.  These two ways of stating things are pretty much synonymous for "intelligent design" advocates.

Anyone with information on specific times, locales, and dates when the "Icons" video has been aired is requested to add to
this thread in the "Intelligent Design News" forum.

Date: 2002/05/18 03:24:15, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Here's a reference that Ken Miller cited in the AMNH debate on 2002/04/23:

Quote
Robinson, A. Jean, Kropatkin, Mona, and Aggeler, Paul M.  1969.   Hageman Factor (Factor XII) Deficiency in Marine Mammals. Science 166:1420-1422.


Marine mammals lack one of the "parts" of the blood-clotting system whose absence supposedly renders the system non-functional.

Mark Todd pointed this one out to Miller, having heard about it from some of the veterinarians who I work with, too.  I don't think that they mentioned this bit around me.

Date: 2002/05/19 14:25:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
One of the staples of the antievolution movement is the deployment of "quotations".  When one examines the antievolutionary literature, one will note a relative superabundance of quoted material within it.  Closer examination will reveal that many of these supposed quotations are quoted out of context, have been edited to adjust their meaning to something in line with the argument the antievolutionist wants to make, are from "experts" of dubious reputation or from long ago, are patched together from widely separated sentences in the source, or otherwise fail to accurately reflect the intent and meaning of the author.

In this thread, I would like people to contribute examples of misquotations deployed by antievolutionists.  This should include the citation of the misquotation (who deployed the quote and where), the misquotation itself, and the original quote with sufficient context to show that the antievolutionist did indeed engage in misquotation.

I'll also encourage people to contribute such examples to my quotation database at this URL.

Additonally, people are directed to Michael Hopkins's Quotation and Misquotations FAQ at the TalkOrigins Archive.

Date: 2002/05/20 12:03:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
There are some issues that exploration of Dembski's formulae reveal.

p_dco = p_orig * p_local * p_config

Dembski provides two basic equations for probabilities.  The one for p_local is defined on NFL p.293.  Both p_orig and p_config are calculated on the basis of what Dembski calls a perturbation probability.  Dembski provides a variety of forms or approximations to a perturbation probability (NFL pp.297,299,300,301).

p_local calculations (NFL p.293)

p_local = (units in system * substitutions / total different units)^(units in system * copies)

What is interesting here is that numbers for "substitutions" and "copies" are simply invented by Dembski, not referenced as the result of empirical study on the system in question.  Yet the equation is highly sensitive to changes in these numbers.  For the numbers provided by Dembski (50 units in the system, 4289 total different units, 5 copies, 10 substitutions), the resulting probability is 4.502871e-234 (all calculations done via the Finite Improbability Calculator).  If we change "substitutions" to 11 instead of 10, the resulting probability is 1.003831e-223, or about 11 orders of magnitude.  If we change "copies" to 4 instead of 5, the resulting probability is 2.102769e-187, or about 47 orders of magnitude different.  This extreme sensitivity is something which Dembski does not even note in his discussion.

The other numbers in the calculation would at first glance appear to be more stable.  But the total number of units, 4289, is simply taken as the number of proteins which the E. coli genome is known to code for.  There is no justification given for using this number in the context of flagellar construction.  It is well known in developmental biology that not all proteins coded for are present or expressed within a cell at all times, yet this is exactly the sort of counterfactual assumption Dembski makes in deploying this number.  If we assume a mere 10% of possible proteins are not present at the time of flagellar construction, the calculated probability changes to 1.246450e-222, or 12 orders of magnitude more likely.  Even the number 50, for proteins used within the flagellum, is not beyond critical examination.  There is no indication that this is the minimum number of proteins necessary for flagellar construction, just that this is the characteristic number seen in E. coli flagella.  Change this to 49, and the probability rises to 1.481864e-231, or about 3 orders of magnitude more likely.

Dembski has failed to establish the biological relevance of his p_local calculation.  He has overlooked the developmental aspect of the E. coli cell entirely.  His invented parameters are not grounded in empirical research.  The extreme sensitivity of his provided equation to changes in values of all parameters lends little confidence to the results.  In no sense does he justify this calculation as providing an upper bound on the probability of even "random localization", as he must if this calculation is supposed to be relevant in any sense to the issue at hand.  And, of course, there is no justification for the assumption that "random localization" is the sole relevant chance hypothesis to be considered.

Date: 2002/05/21 21:09:49, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The antievolution group in Nebraska appears to be Concerned Citizens for Objective Science Education.

Right on the home page, this group quotes Charles Darwin.

Quote
A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.


It is an interesting quote, now seen in the presentations of several "intelligent design" advocates.  Their deployment of it is flawed, however.  ID advocates don't "balance" facts and arguments for "intelligent design" against facts and arguments for evolutionary biology.  The ID advocacy strategy is one of negative argumentation.  This is apparently a cover for their inconvenient situation, which is that they seem to have no "facts and arguments" for their position.

But even that is not the whole story.  The quote from Darwin is lifted from an interesting context.  I will provide the complete paragraph here.

Quote
This Abstract, which I now publish, must necessarily be imperfect. I cannot here give references and authorities for my several statements; and I must trust to the reader reposing some confidence in my accuracy. No doubt errors will have crept in, though I hope I have always been cautious in trusting to good authorities alone. I can here give only the general conclusions at which I have arrived, with a few facts in illustration, but which, I hope, in most cases will suffice. No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this. For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done.


-- Origin of Species

Darwin's statement does not support the notion, common among ID advocates, that in any educational circumstance when one mentions evolutionary biology one must then launch into discussion of the top ten reasons ID advocates are antievolutionists.  Darwin recognizes that the context matters, even if ID advocates fail to take the point.

A Nebraska group opposed to "intelligent design" being inserted into the science curriculum is the Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education.

Date: 2002/05/22 12:07:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Creative Loafing Atlanta has an excellent front-page article on "intelligent design" and the textbook disclaimers mandated by the Cobb County school board.

Sidebar articles cover scientists responding to "intelligent design" and the Cobb County disclaimer, where Ken Miller is featured in both of those pieces.

Date: 2002/05/23 08:35:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
A popular antievolution argument often deployed by "intelligent design" advocates concerns the non-universality of the genetic code:Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, and Cornelius G. Hunter.

I'm opening this thread for discussion of the canonical genetic code and its variants, and also for examination of the claims of ID advocates concerning the canonical code.

Kenneth Miller of Brown University has a couple of essays on this topic: here and here.

Date: 2002/05/23 08:55:32, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The canonical genetic code

It is tough to represent tabular information in a proportional font.  So I will present a list representing the canonical genetic code.  There are three items separated by commas in each line.  The first is a representation of a codon, a nucleotide triplet.  Each base is represented by a letter: "a" for adenine, "g" for guanine, "c" for cytosine, and "u" for uracil.  The second item is either an amino acid or a "stop", where each amino acid is represented by a three-letter abbreviation.  The third item is a single-letter code for an amino acid.

uuu,phe,f
ucu,ser,s
uau,tyr,y
ugu,cys,c
uuc,phe,f
ucc,ser,s
uac,tyr,y
ugc,cys,c
uua,leu,l
uca,ser,s
uaa,stop,x
uga,stop,x
uug,leu,l
ucg,ser,s
uag,stop,x
ugg,trp,w
cuu,leu,l
ccu,pro,p
cau,his,h
cgu,arg,r
cuc,leu,l
ccc,pro,p
cac,his,h
cgc,arg,r
cua,leu,l
cca,pro,p
caa,gln,q
cga,arg,r
cug,leu,l
ccg,pro,p
cag,gln,q
cgg,arg,r
auu,ile,i
acu,thr,t
aau,asn,n
agu,ser,s
auc,ile,i
acc,thr,t
aac,asn,n
agc,ser,s
aua,ile,i
aca,thr,t
aaa,lys,k
aga,arg,r
aug,met,m
acg,thr,t
aag,lys,k
agg,arg,r
guu,val,v
gcu,ala,a
gau,asp,d
ggu,gly,g
guc,val,v
gcc,ala,a
gac,asp,d
ggc,gly,g
gua,val,v
gca,ala,a
gaa,glu,e
gga,gly,g
gug,val,v
gcg,ala,a
gag,glu,e
ggg,gly,g

Here's a page with a table showing the canonical code and the full expansion of the abbreviations.

Date: 2002/05/23 09:48:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
How many codes could there be?

The simple answer is "lots".  The canonical genetic code has 64 entries coding for 21 different things (20 amino acids plus a "stop" signal).  It is called "degenerate", which is a fancy way of saying that there are more codes than there are things coded for, which results in some redundancy in the canonical code.  If you look closely at how codons are matched with amino acids, you will likely notice that in many cases a change in the third base of the codon results in no change in the coded-for amino acid.  This results in a typical clustering of codons, so that a change of one base has about a one-in-five chance of causing no change at all in what amino acid is coded for.  In other words, the canonical genetic code is not as "brittle" as it could be.  I hope to explore that more thoroughly later.

But back to the question of interest.  How many "genetic codes" could there be?  Let me be clear here.  The phrase "genetic code" is sometimes sloppily used to refer to the specific sequence of bases observed in the genome of an organism.  That's not the way I am using it here.  The "genetic code" is used here as the way in which triplets of three nucleotide bases are mapped to corresponding amino acids for the purpose of protein synthesis.  Figuring out how many different ways such a code can be instantiated can be approached through combinatorial "counting rules".

The first "counting rule" of interest is the factorial function.  Given some positive integer number n of items, the factorial is defined as the product of every positive integer greater than or equal to one and less than or equal to n.  The number of different ways 64 symbols can be represented as a sequence is factorial(64) (or 64!), or about 1.268869e89.  Since a degenerate genetic code doesn't have 64 different symbols, but rather 64 positions for symbols, this represents an upper bound on the number of possible genetic codes using triplet codons.

So what counting rule gives us what we want?  The answer is the "partition rule".  This tells us that the number of ways that k different symbols can be arranged to fill n spaces when we know how many of each of the k symbols there are.  The rule is

n! / (m_1! * m_2! * ... * m_k!)

The sum of m_1 through m_k = n

For 21 symbols, the worst case situation would be if most of the code specified a single amino acid.  This occurs if one symbol is repeated 44 times and the remaining symbols have 1 instance each.  In this case, application of the partition rule tells us that there are 4.8e34 possible codes of that sort.

The best case situation is where all the codes are as nearly evenly represented as possible.  This is the case when one symbol has 4 instances and the remaining 20 symbols each have 3 instances.  In this case, there are about 1.4e72 possible different codes of that sort.

If we take the distribution of symbols in the canonical code, we have 64! / (4!6!2!2!2!2!2!4!2!3!6!2!1!2!4!3!6!4!1!2!4!), or about 2.3e69 possible different codes of that sort.

It is interesting that the actual canonical genetic code has a distribution that would permit almost as many variants as the very best case situation.

Next up will be considering what the numbers mean for evolutionary biology.

Date: 2002/05/23 20:58:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
2002/05/23

Skip Evans, Network Project Director at the National Center for Science Education, has a response to the DI CRSC "Icons" video: Discovery Institute Pioneers the Mis-infomercial.

Date: 2002/05/23 22:08:15, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Jonathan Wells has a very interesting report on the debate before the Ohio Board of Education.  Wells and Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture were matched up against Kenneth Miller and Lawrence Krauss.

Other resources of interest in the Ohio situation:

Ohio Citizens for Science, a group for the acceptance of the new science standards as written by the advisory team.

Science Excellence for All Ohioans, a group advocating the inclusion of "intelligent design" in the K12 science curriculum, or at least something singling out evolutionary biology as a subject requiring "teaching the controversy".

Substandard Education for All Ohioans, a parody site poking fun at the antievolution stance of the page just above.

Events from Ohio, a collection of resources at the National Center for Science Education.

Date: 2002/05/23 22:43:25, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dembski now has his own collection of links to his writing, at DesignInference.com.

Date: 2002/05/24 01:06:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This forum should be used for multi-user contributions to topics common in discussion of antievolution.

Posts should make specific additions to the stated topic, such as contributing URLs, bibliographic citations, and essays.

Date: 2002/05/24 12:59:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Stephen Jay Gould died of cancer at age 60 on 2002/05/20.

A number of obituaries have run.


Mercury News/Philadelphia Inquirer

Salon

BBC News/SCITECH

Harvard Gazette

Nature

Boston Globe

Yahoo!

CNN

Washington Post

Newsday

Boston Herald

Washington Post: Scientist who wrote rings around the earth

Chronicle of Higher Education

Nando Times

MSNBC

Date: 2002/05/24 13:11:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Problem with Mercury News/Philadelphia Inquirer obituary

An obituary for Stephen Jay Gould by the Mercury News/Philadelphia Inquirer quoted many people about Gould.  Here's what they reported from Henry Morris and Richard Dawkins:

Quote
``We would honor him as a worthy opponent and will miss his great writing,'' said Henry Morris, founder and president emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajon. ``Many of us creationist scientists thoroughly enjoyed reading -- and quoting from -- his books.''

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, a longtime critic of Gould, once wrote: ``He massively over-hyped his own work, and has a grossly exaggerated opinion of the worth of his ideas.''


-- Mercury News/Philadelphia Inquirer obituary

While the reporters went to the trouble of talking to Henry Morris, they apparently failed to give Dawkins the same courtesy, citing instead something written in another context an unspecified length of time ago.  Unfortunately, the text does not emphasize the point that Dawkins's comments were not made in the context established by the Morris quote just previous, which has misled some readers already.

I wrote Richard Dawkins about the Mercury News/Philadelphia Inquirer obituary, and he gave me permission to publicly release the following quote:

Quote
For good or ill, Steve Gould had a huge influence on American scientific culture, and on balance the good came out on top. Although we disagreed about much, we shared much too, including a spellbound delight in the wonders of the natural world, and a shared conviction that such wonders deserve nothing less than a purely natural explanation. His powerful voice will echo on for a long time.

Date: 2002/05/24 14:04:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Fourth World Skeptics Conference sponsored by CSICOP, June 20-23, 2002, in Burbank, California, will feature a panel on "Evolution and Intelligent Design".

The moderator will be Massimo Pigliucci.  Panelists will include William Dembski and Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, Kenneth Miller of Brown University, and myself (Texas A&M, if you don't know already).

Date: 2002/05/24 19:53:47, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Stephen Meyer compares Ken Miller to Himmler

This one is reported by no less an authority than Jonathan Wells.

Quote
Another interesting aspect of the press conference was a statement by Ken Miller, featured on the evening news, to the effect that ID advocates are trying to present their views to the public "without the approval of science." Afterwards, in private, Steve Meyer kept repeating Miller's pompous declaration with a heavy German accent, sounding for all the world like Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's propaganda chief.


-- Jonathan Wells on 2002/03/11 session with the Ohio BOE

Date: 2002/05/25 01:56:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Jonathan Wells: Darwinism analogous to former Soviet regime

Quote
These critics include embryologists, paleontologists, biochemists, molecular biologists, medical doctors, philosophers, and even lawyers. Unfortunately, the North American science-and-religion establishment has largely turned a deaf ear to these critics, preferring instead to abandon classical theology and embrace metaphysical materialism and moral relativism. But I see the situation as analogous to the last years of Soviet communism. A small, powerful elite controls all the official information outlets while the evidence against the official position swells quietly, like a wave building offshore. Someday soon, to the surprise of many people in academia and the media, the wave will break. I predict that the Darwinist establishment will come apart at the seams, just as the Soviet Empire did in 1990.


-- "Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D." by Jonathan Wells

Date: 2002/05/25 02:03:31, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phillip Johnson: Compares Gould to Gorbachev

It seems timely to revisit this offering by "wedge" strategist, DI CRSC advisor, and author of the rejected Santorum amendment, Phillip E. Johnson.

Quote
Gould’s uncomfortable situation reminds me of the self-created predicament of Mikhail Gorbachev in the last years of the Soviet Empire. Gorbachev recognized that something had gone wrong with the Communist system, but thought that the system itself could be preserved if it was reformed. His democratic friends warned him that the Marxist fundamentalists would inevitably turn against him, but he was unwilling to endanger his position in the ruling elite by following his own logic to its necessary conclusion. Gould, like Gorbachev, deserves immense credit for bringing glasnost to a closed society of dogmatists. And, like Gorbachev, he lives on as a sad reminder of what happens to those who lack the nerve to make a clean break with a dying theory.


-- Phillip E. Johnson's "The Gorbachev of Darwinism" (1998)

Date: 2002/05/25 02:22:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski: Compares Darwinism to former Soviet regime

Quote
Dembski, whose recent book, "The Design Inference," presents in great detail how the Intelligent Design argument satisfies logic and probability, likes to compare the movement's influence on science to the freedom and democracy movements and their effect on Eastern Europe. Criticism of Darwinism now threatens the hegemony of Darwinism, he says, just as the move toward freedom upset the Soviet empire.


Stephen Goode's "Scientists Find Evidence of God" (1999/04/19)

Date: 2002/05/25 02:32:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phillip Johnson: Compares Methodological Naturalism to former Soviet regime

Quote
Behind this student movement is a more general intellectual movement that will bear fruit in the coming century. It is a bit thin on the ground for now, but so was the Christian faith in the first century. Materialism as a philosophy is superficially powerful but moribund, as we saw when the Soviet Union collapsed without a struggle a decade ago. Methodological naturalism is a branch on the materialist tree that will lose its power to intimidate when the tree is known to be hanging in midair.


-- Phillip Johnson, Foreword to "Unapologetic Apologetics" (2001)

Date: 2002/05/25 03:58:59, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phillip Johnson: Compares Darwinism to the Soviet Union

Quote
Darwinian evolution with its blind watchmaker thesis makes me think of a great battleship on the ocean of reality.  Its sides are heavily armored with philosophical barriers to criticism, and its decks are stacked with big rhetorical guns ready to intimidate any would-be attackers.  In appearance, it is as impregnable as the Soviet Union seemed to be only a few years ago.


-- Phillip E. Johnson, "Darwin On Trial" (2nd ed.), p.169.

Date: 2002/05/25 10:32:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski: Compares opponents at Baylor University to Napoleon

Quote
Dembski, as the director of the center, also commented on the report in a one-paragraph e-mail message following its release. "The report marks the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry. This is a great day for academic freedom," Dembski began. He concluded by observing that "Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression."


-- Christianity Today: "Baylor's dismissal of Polyani Center director Dembski was not a smart move." (2000/10/23)

Date: 2002/05/25 10:45:31, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski: Approves of comparing opponents at Baylor University to McCarthyites

Quote
Baylor University President Robert Sloan has removed me as director of the Michael Polanyi Center despite his having personally solicited me to come to Baylor and establish the Center as a means of furthering work on intelligent design. Some Baylor faculty have exerted enormous pressure on Baylor to disassociate the university from me and my research. Earlier President Sloan had properly characterized these efforts as "intellectual McCarthyism."


-- William Dembski: Press release (2000/10/19)

Date: 2002/05/25 17:54:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski: Forrest and the "leftist" remark

Quote
Barbara Forrest's letter is the worst sort of leftist guilt-by-association diatribe.


-- William Dembski, post to ARN discussion forum, 2002/04/17 03:38 PM

Date: 2002/05/27 08:50:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for documenting the various young-earth arguments and responses to those arguments.

I'll start off with one that is based upon ecology.

The Population Argument

The following quotes are selected from an online essay of mine.

Quote
Certain proponents of "scientific creationism" (SciCre) have put forward an argument that humans could not have evolved, simply because human population size shows that humans have only been around a few thousand years.  Those putting forward the argument tie the original population size to either two (sometimes Adam and Eve, sometimes Noah and his wife) or eight (Noah's immediate family), note a current population figure, and derive a rate of increase by use of some Biblical chronology to either creation, Noah's birth, or The Flood.  It should be noted that biblically, what should be argued is either descent from two (Adam and Eve) or from six (Noah's sons and their wives).  While some admit up front that the calculation of rate of increase yields an average value and that the actual rate of increase varies, many do not. The crux of the argument comes when they use the derived rate of increase for comparison to the deep time that evolutionary timetables give.  The numbers of humans that would be present, they say, were evolution true, would be far greater than what we observe today, and thus evolution of humans must be false. Some are precise enough to restrict their conclusion to only humans, others leave how much is disproved unspecified.  Some utilize the numbers to infer intermediate population sizes.
 
I am going to point out some problems with the SciCre population argument.  First, the argument assumes what it is supposed to prove. Second, all such arguments yield absurd values for population sizes at historical times.  Third, the argument ignores what is known about population dynamics from other species.  Fourth, final population size is an unreliable indicator of initial population time.  I am only interested in the anti-evolutionary components of the SciCre population argument; use of the population argument in apologetics is not something I care about.  I don't think that anyone can demonstrate that real population dynamics disbar Global Flood scenarios, so if use in apologetics is all that is intended from some source, I have no real beef with it.


Quote
Third, the argument ignores what is known about population dynamics from other species.  Various other species can be observed to sometimes reproduce exponentially, but we observe that such populations fluctuate, stabilize, or crash.  In no case do exponentially reproducing populations "take over the world" as SciCre'ists assure us would be the case if evolution were true.  In recent times, human population growth has been exponential, but this does not mean that the human population has been growing exponentially for all its residence time.  Just as the number of E. coli present in your gut will not tell us your birthday or the time of your last use of an antibiotic, so human population size is decoupled from when Homo sapiens arose, or even when a bottleneck may have occurred.


Quote
In short, the SciCre population argument fails on many different criteria.  Honest creationists should eschew its use.


-- Population Size and Time of Creation or Flood

Interestingly, the population argument is not listed among those that "Answers in Genesis" recommends that YECs should not use.

Date: 2002/05/29 14:03:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael Shermer, a critic of "intelligent design", has made such a comparison before.

Quote
In Why People Believe Weird Things I compared these evolution deniers to Holocaust deniers, pointing out how they use the same style of argumentation and commit the same fallacies of logic in their parallel attempts to distort the historical record for political, ideological, or religious purposes.


-- Michael Shermer's "ID Works In Mysterious Ways"

I don't want anyone to get the idea that invidious comparisons are exclusively employed by ID advocates.  I do want to document that ID advocates do deploy invidious comparisons, and show something of the poor level of justification usually given for the deployment of such comparisions by the ID advocates.

Date: 2002/05/31 21:33:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I'll be on a panel to discuss "intelligent design" at CSICOP's Fourth World Skeptics Conference, June 21, 2002, in Burbank, California.

The panel will be moderated by Massimo Pigliucci.  Other panelists are Kenneth Miller of Brown University, William Dembski of the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, and Paul Nelson, also of the DI CRSC.

My abstract for my set 15-minute presentation was printed in the conference program, so it's public knowledge now.

Quote
Title of talk: "Beyond the 'wedge': Intelligent design, science, and culture

Abstract: The "intelligent design" movement is primarily coordinated by the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture (DI CRSC). While the highest-profile activity of the DI CRSC so far has been its anti-evolutionary activism, its long-term goals are far more ambitious. As promulgated in the "wedge" document, early versions of the DI CRSC web site, and seen in the actions of the Fellows of the CRSC, no less than the re-definition of science itself is intended. Despite statements that ID is primarily a scientific research program, the fact is that  most of the effort of the CRSC Fellows is directed into political action. While scientific justification was one of the primary goals outlined in the "wedge" document, this area remains little-developed and apparently has been abandoned.  The current and projected activities of the DI CRSC indicate that the next 25 years will be filled with more confrontation with mainstream science.


Links:

CSICOP

CSICOP Fourth World Skeptics Conference

The DI CRSC "Wedge" document

I would appreciate comments on things to bring up during the panel session.

Date: 2002/09/05 10:03:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Check out the Pensacola News Journal "For The Record" page.

Search for "hovind".  The mention is in the "felony arrests" section.

Wesley

Date: 2002/09/06 10:18:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
To avoid the cut-and-paste job, here is a link to the Escambia County Clerk of the Court record for Kent E. Hovind.

You can follow the links from that document to see progress in the case, or any additional legal interactions that may arise between Hovind and Escambia County.

Date: 2002/09/06 10:26:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Escambia County Property Appraiser has online searchable records.  When one searches for "Hovind Kent", one finds these results.  It is interesting that the property where Hovind was arrested does not appear in this list.

Date: 2002/09/07 07:33:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
An Indianapolis Star editorial by Andrea Neal shows that the Discovery Institute's "Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture"'s propaganda machine continues to bamboozle the credulous public.

Neal buys into several falsehoods told by the DI C®SC.  First and foremost, Neal seems to think that there is some scientific content to "intelligent design" claims.  Second, Neal asserts ID represents cutting-edge science rather than warmed-over nineteenth century apologetics.  Third, Neal buys the tale that there is no religious component to the ID movement.

The question to pose to those who think that "intelligent design" is science is to ask where the science is.  The only things cited by Neal add up to critiques of the sufficiency of current natural explanations.  There is nothing beyond assertion that ID has any role whatever in accounting for biological complexity.  I've asked some of the "scientists at top institutions" that Neal refers to for a progress report on the ID community making a positive case for ID conjectures, and in each instance have received answers that translate into an admission of "no progress" since 1997.

The assertion that there is any "cutting edge" to the ID wedge fails the most cursory examination of the evidence.  Phillip Johnson's original ID tome, "Darwin On Trial", simply goes to show that there is hardly an antievolution chestnut that he doesn't like.  Many of the favorites of the young-earth creationist movement are happily recycled by Johnson.  The whole "irreducible complexity" edifice erected by Michael Behe is simply a more technical gloss on the ancient "what good is half a wing" canard common in YEC circles.  Behe's innovation resides in locating systems in which there is both a paucity of evidence and no expectation that further evidence bearing on the origin of the structures will be forthcoming.  That's a prerequisite for any argument from ignorance that is expected to hold up over time.  But the central part of ID argumentation can be traced to the Reverend William Paley's arguments made in 1802.  The scientific community actually did take up such arguments and examine them seriously -- and decided that they did not fit the evidence.  ID is not "cutting edge".  At best, it's "reheated leftovers".

Neal asserts that skeptics cannot show any religious underpinnings of ID in court because ID is "a scientific possibility".  Neal is obviously ignorant of the massive paper trail left by the "scientists at top institutions" of the DI C®SC concerning the goals and motivations of the ID movement, most succinctly expressed in the famous "Wedge" document.  This will be one of the easiest tasks for skeptics to accomplish in court, not one of the hardest.

Neal's innovation in the editorial is to characterize opposition to the ID movement as "anti-religious".  This, of course, is bunk.  Plenty of religious people are part of the community of skeptics of ID.  The panelists at the recent CSICOP Fourth World Skeptics Conference session on evolution and intelligent design included two ID advocates and two ID skeptics, all Christian believers.

Neal ends with this:

Quote
Teaching intelligent design to our children is gaining strength too, as it should. Students need to know the latest research about how it all began, even if it points to an all-knowing creator.

It would be a sad irony to let Darwin write the final chapter because we fear where science might lead us.


Why should a set of religiously-motivated conjectures based solely upon negative argumentation and wishful thinking be taught to students as if it were "research"?  Why should students be given the mistaken impression that such conjectures represent the "latest" in scientific thinking, when in fact various components of these arguments can be traced back decades or centuries?

But the capping irony is the construction of Neal's final sentence.  Science should lead, all right, and it is precisely because the politics of the ID movement lead it rather than the science that we should reject these premature moves to force ID into school science curricula.  Let ID prove itself in the marketplace of scientific ideas, and then it will be ready for inclusion in science education.  It is not there yet, and even ID advocates say that they are just beginning now to see glimmers of the formation of an ID research program.  The unseemly haste with which the ID advocates push for inclusion of their untested and unresearched claims into school curricula bespeaks an unscientific attitude, one more similar to a salesman trying to offload stock that is past its sell-by date.  Something smells fishy in that.

Date: 2002/09/16 07:46:44, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski comments upon the paper John Wilkins and I wrote last year:

Quote
(1) Then why not withhold judgment in the Contact example and simply attribute a long sequence of prime numbers from outer space to unknown causes? The problem is that Wilkins and Elsberry's revised filter scotches all design inferences and not just the ones they don't like in biology. For the ID critic, the answer is not to revise the filter but to try to substitute a different picture of scientific rationality (e.g., Sober's likelihood approach). But that is deeply problematic itself.

(2) With regard to false positives, to say that the design filter does not commit false positives if there is specified complexity remains true. And to say that an attribution of specified complexity may be mistaken is also true -- and not inconsistent with the latter claim. There's a difference between specified complexity as it subsists in nature and our knowledge of it. You might want to reread my post about what sort of property is specified complexity.  


Thread on ISCID Brainstorms board

Dembski is incorrect in his assertion in (1).  Our revised filter does not eliminate all design inferences.  We went to some trouble to distinguish two classes of design inferences, ordinary and rarefied.  Ordinary design inferences are still just as valid as they ever were under our revised filter.  But the revised filter makes it clear that the epistemic warrant for rarefied design inferences is an illusion based upon invalid analogy to ordinary design inferences.

I find the point of (2) to be exactly what I've forwarded as a critique in the past, notably in my presentation at the "Interpreting Evolution" conference in 2001.  I have not been shy in saying before that Dembski's explanatory filter/design inference (EF/DI) is only reliable in the sense Dembski gives when one has complete knowledge, i.e., the true causal history is already known.  In that case, one has no need for Dembski's EF/DI -- it's entirely superfluous.  It is only in the case of limited knowledge that false positives become an issue, but these cases are also the only ones where Dembski's EF/DI could possibly have any utility.

It's nice to have Dembski confirm that I was right in making that critique.

Date: 2002/09/18 03:38:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
William Dembski has offered a very interesting piece concerning what he believes needs to be demonstrated to show that natural selection is a sufficient causal explanation for some system.  See it on the ISCID Brainstorms board.

The basic gist is relatively straightforward, though the notation looks a bit overblown.

Dembski starts with an analogy to demonstrating common ancestry of two lineages X and Y, whose initial states X_0 and Y_0 are actually the single common ancestor of all derived X_n and Y_n.   Dembski asserts:

Quote
In the best circumstance, each such X(i) and Y(j) must be explicitly exhibited and any arrows of causation connecting two organisms must produce small incremental changes that are highly probable on the basis of the Darwinian selection mechanism. The more intermediates that are missing from this picture and the more handwaving and just-so story-telling to describe the arrows of causation, the more problematic the evolutionary explanation.


It should be noted that common ancestry is not dependent upon the mechanism of natural selection being operative at every step, or indeed at any step.  Dembski's scenario completely ignores the evidence of molecular biology in applying sequence comparisons, which is largely based upon the evidence of the X_n and Y_n extant organisms, rather than X_0, Y_0, or any intermediates, since the molecular data from long extinct organisms is generally not available for anlaysis.  Nor does natural selection eschew incorporation of "large" changes, should such change have an adaptive advantage for the bearer.  It is well-developed in the evolutionary literature that "small" changes are more likely to have an adaptive advantage than "large" changes, and thus we should expect more "small" changes to be observed in lineages undergoing selection.  But that doesn't limit natural selection to *only* using "small" changes, as Dembski seems to imply above.  These departures Dembski takes from the biological reality of inferring common ancestry of lineages suggest that Dembski's approach is problematic.

As G.G. Simpson pointed out, intermediates are always missing, except where they are found.  Let me point out  what should count as a non-problematic example of common ancestry of two lineages, Globigerinoides trilobus and Orbulina universa.  A very good plate appears in the paper by Pearson et alia.

Quote
Pearson, P.N.; Shackleton, N.J.; and Hall, M.A., 1997.  Stable isotopic evidence for the sympatric divergence of _Globigerinoides_trilobus_ and _Orbulina_universa_ (planktonic foraminifera).  Journal of the Geological Society, London, v.154, p.295-302.


Figures from this paper are reproduced on the web in this page by Don Lindsay.

Pearson et alia adduce other evidence than what Dembski has offered in his argument.  They examine stable isotopic evidence to show that the divergence of G. trilobus into O. universa occurred sympatrically.  This also has a bearing on the sufficiency of the evolutionary account of common ancestry of these two species.  Notably, though, Pearson et alia do not invoke natural selection as the sole mechanism of change in this divergence.  The fact of the divergence is an issue separate from the underlying mechanism.

Dembski's underlying analogy for the remainder of his argument concerning the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for IC systems excludes relevant classes of evidence, unnecessarily invokes a particular process as needed to be demonstrated, and ignores actual biological practice in showing common ancestry of lineages.  This, to say the least, is an inauspicious beginning for the remainder of his argument.

Date: 2002/09/21 18:43:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
More instances of Wells holding forth on where peppered moths do or do not "normally" rest:

Quote
4. "students should know that the pictures were faked": This goes without saying.  Since biologists have known since the 1980s that peppered moths do not normally rest on tree trunks, not to tell students that the pictures were staged (in many cases by gluing or pinning dead moths to desired backgrounds) constitutes as clear a case of scientific fraud as any on record.  Yet I'm aware of no sincere efforts by Darwinists to inform students of this -- despite their pious declarations of good intentions. Almost all recent (1998-2000) biology textbooks use such photos without any indication that they were staged.  As a scientist, I find this absolutely inexcusable.  If dogmatic Darwinists were as smart as they pretend to be, they would be actively campaigning -- for their own good! -- to rid textbooks of this fraud.  Acquiescence in scientific misconduct will not look good on their resumes.

(Source)


Quote
Then there's the story of peppered moths. Most current biology textbooks carry photos of these moths on tree trunks, claiming that experiments performed in the 1950s showed that natural selection (stemming from camouflage differences and predatory birds) made dark- colored moths more common during the Industrial Revolution. But Martin omits the fact that this textbook story is now very much in doubt, because biologists discovered in the 1980s that peppered moths don't normally rest on tree trunks. All the textbook photos have been staged- -some by gluing or pinning dead moths in place.

(Source)


Quote
1. Since 1988, it has been well known to everyone who studies peppered moths that tree trunks are not their normal resting places. Michael Majerus lists six moths on exposed tree trunks over a forty year period, but this is an insignificant proportion of the tens of thousands that were observed during the same period. There simply is no question about it: peppered moths do not normally rest on tree trunks in the wild.

(Source)


Quote
Regarding the peppered moths: Kettlewell's experiments supposedly demonstrated that cryptic coloration and selective bird predation are the principle causes of industrial melanism were discredited by (a) findings in the 1960's and 1970's that other factors (such as migration and non-visual selection) had to be invoked to account for observed geographical distributions, (b) reports that the rise and fall of melanism were not correlated with lichen cover on tree trunks in the U.S. or many parts of the U.K., © research in the 1980's showing that peppered moths in the wild do not normally rest on tree trunks (where Kettlewell conducted his experiments), and (d) revelations that all photographs of peppered moths on tree trunks have been staged, either by manually positioning live moths or by pinning or gluing dead ones.

(Source)


Ah, this is the one that I wanted to track down specifically:

Quote
BUT EVERYONE, INCLUDING MAJERUS, HAS KNOWN SINCE THE 1980'S THAT PEPPERED MOTHS DO NOT REST ON TREE TRUNKS IN THE WILD. This means that every time those staged photographs have been knowingly re-published since the 1980's constitutes a case of deliberate scientific fraud. Michael Majerus is being dishonest, and textbook-writers are lying to biology students. The behavior of these people is downright scandalous.

Fraud is fraud. It's time to tell it like it is.

(Source)


Wesley

Date: 2002/09/26 10:25:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote
Clearing up confusion requires a careful and consistent use of terms.  In this book, "creation science" refers to young-earth, six-day special creation.  "Creationism" means belief in creation in a more general sense.  Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old, and the simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are "creationists" if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated this process but in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose.  As we shall see, "evolution" (in contemporary usage) excludes not just creation-science but creationism in the broad sense.  By "Darwinism" I mean fully naturalistic evolution, involving chance mechanisms guided by natural selection.

(Source: Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (2nd ed.), Intervarsity Press, p.4 (footnote).)


[Fixed typo.]



Date: 2002/09/30 11:08:38, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On September 26th, 2002, the Cobb County school board voted unanimously for a provision that singles out evolutionary biology as controversial and requires teachers to engage in "discussion of disputed views of academic subjects".

Cobb County policy

There will be "implementing regulations" related to this policy.  I see a high potential for mischief at the administrative level.  The policy does not stipulate that the level of "dispute" must be scientific in nature, which opens the door to any sort of "dispute", no matter how lacking in scientific merit it might be.

Here's an article on how teachers are reacting to the change:

Cobb teachers ponder new evolution rule

Wesley

Date: 2002/09/30 16:12:55, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Henry Schaefer, UGa professor and Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, has an op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Standard evolutionary theory has shortcomings

It looks to me like the usual admixture of arrogance and ignorance on the part of a religiously-motivated antievolutionist.  But your mileage may vary...

Notice that while Henry feels free to hand out grades to natural selection, gravity, and quantum mechanics, he doesn't proceed to use the same evaluation framework for "intelligent design".  That's OK, the evaluation process is trivial, and I can apply it quite easily here.  Henry uses two criteria given by Stephen Hawking for good theories:

Quote
A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements. It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements. And it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.


Does ID describe a large class of observations?  No.  Does ID have a model with only a few arbitrary elements? No.  In fact, there is no ID model.  ID is just "nature didn't do it" repeated ad nauseum.

Does ID provide a basis to make definite predictions about the results of future observations?  Definitely not.  William Dembski specifically excludes this in his essay on "Testability".  Dembski also excludes ID predictions on the basis that designers are "innovators" (see NFL).

So, going by the standards that Henry has validated, I see no way to award ID more than an "F" for goodness of theory.

Yet Henry does, I believe, wish to see ID taught in Cobb County science classrooms as one of those "disputed views" that the recent policy change now countenances.  It certainly isn't because of the scientific content, which leaves one wondering why...

Wesley

Date: 2002/10/07 08:31:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dembski on publishing:

Quote
Baylor's Mr. Dembski also has little interest in publicizing his research through traditional means. "I've just gotten kind of blasé about submitting things to journals where you often wait two years to get things into print," he says. "And I find I can actually get the turnaround faster by writing a book and getting the ideas expressed there. My books sell well. I get a royalty. And the material gets read more."

(Source: Darwinism Under Attack, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2001/12/21)

Date: 2002/10/10 19:52:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for items relating to the Ohio Board of Education's consideration of new science standards.

An interesting press statement came out today.

Quote
October 10, 2002
Press Conference Statement of
Professor Joseph F Koonce
Chair, Dept of Biology
Case Western Reserve University
jfk7@po.cwru.edu
216-368-3561

Many claims have been made in recent months as to what Ohio scientists think about intelligent design "theory." However, until now, no data existed on this issue. My colleagues and I set about to collect the data so that the public may gain an accurate impression of what Ohio's scientists think. The results are gratifying and unequivocal.

Nine out of ten Ohio scientists from Ohio public, private (including both secular and religious) universities say that intelligent design is primarily a religious view and is simply not part of science.

We designed and conducted this survey with the Internet Public Opinion Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati.  We sent out email messages around the state to faculty in departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics and other natural sciences, inviting them to answer a set of questions and to give their thoughts about the evolution-intelligent design debate.  The survey ran between September 26 and October 9.

Prior to polling the scientists, the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati included questions on the September Ohio Poll (conducted September 4 through 15, 2002) asking the general public to respond to two questions about intelligent design. Like the scientists, a clear majority of Ohio residents found intelligent design to be religious, and not a scientific view.

Next Monday and Tuesday the Ohio Board of Education will vote on whether to include intelligent design or other forms of anti-evolutionism in the new K-12 science standards.  Intelligent design advocates claim life is too complex to have developed without the intervention of a supernatural being or force, and they claim their view is scientific. Clearly Ohio's citizens are not convinced that this argument should be taught as science.

I want to make clear that I am a religious person myself. As a Roman Catholic, I do believe in God and in concurrence with teachings of the Catholic Church, I have never found these beliefs in conflict with Evolutionary Theory.  Science addresses the nature of the physical universe, not the supernatural or the eternal. Like me, 84% of my colleagues also report that they find evolutionary theory compatible with belief in God.

I wish this would lay to rest the destructive notion that science and religion are at war in America. There is no such inherent conflict. Science and religion can promote and enhance each other without having to pretend we know less than we actually do about how the world is constructed and how it functions.

Most all of Ohio's science professors (92%) thought "Ohio high school students should be tested on their understanding of the basic principles of the theory of evolution in order to graduate." When asked if such students should also be tested on their knowledge of the concept of "Intelligent Design" in order to graduate, 90% said "no." Only 2% said that intelligent design was strongly supported by scientific evidence.

The survey also explored scientists' views on antievolutionism beyond the intelligent design movement. Some critics of evolution claim evidence against the theory of evolution has caused it to fall out of favor among scientists. This is clearly not the case in Ohio where the vast majority (93%) of science professors said they were not aware of "any scientifically valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution."

We are extremely pleased with the response. Nearly 500 scientists responded, a rate of 31%.  The survey had an error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. Equally pleasing was the outpouring of gratitude for providing the opportunity to express their concern with the erosion of scientific literacy in the developing K-12 standards for Ohio.

Date: 2002/10/10 23:05:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The CWRU poll made the news.

Professors say intelligent design is not scientific theory - Akron Beacon Journal, OH

Date: 2002/10/11 05:08:01, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Ohio draft standards

And a newspaper article about the BOE's consideration of "intelligent design": Committee members propose final changes to science standards, AP story

Date: 2002/10/11 11:05:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Another news item on Ohio...

Schools panel to decide evolution angle Monday (Plain Dealer, 2002/10/11)

And the Ohio Citizens for Science web page.

Date: 2002/10/11 12:55:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Answers In Genesis has a response to Kent Hovind concerning their list of arguments that creationists should not use.

Date: 2002/10/11 15:07:50, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Another news report on the Ohio poll...

Ohio poll: 'Design' theory is religious (Cincinnatti Post, 2002/10/11)

Date: 2002/10/11 15:18:41, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The creationism issue came up in a debate between candidates for Georgia state school superintendent.

State school chief hopefuls have free-wheeling debate (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2002/10/10)

Quote
The issue that generated the most spirited debate was whether schools should teach creationism.

Christmas said she would stay out of such local issues, but added, "Schools are about teaching scientific theories, not religious principles." Cox said she would not shy away from debates like the one Cobb County officials had this month because they teach "students to live in a free society with free ideas and to talk about them civilly."

Date: 2002/10/11 15:27:57, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Kansas got the national spotlight in 1999 when creationists rewrote the science standards and excised evolution from them.  Since then, some creationist board members were voted out, and evolution was restored to the science standards.  The voters of Kansas will be making choices between candidates again this year.  Will we see a cyclical pattern of change in the science standards?

Here's a news item concerning two of the candidates in Kansas and some mention of their views on evolution.

Board of ed hopefuls have similar stances (Newton Kansan, 2002/10/09)

Quote
Neither candidate distinguished himself. Even on the divisive issue of teaching evolution vs. creationism, candidates basically agreed on what policy should be. Both said they would not support the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution.

"I support academic freedom," Willard said. "That means giving the scientific evidence on all sides of the issue and encourage them to make up their minds. I think that is what education is about, teaching kids to inquire and come to a decision."

"I would not teach creationism as an alternative to evolution," Anstine said. "In my mind creationism is a function of my home, my wife and eight kids. It is a function of our church. We've been there for more than 40 years. I think the creation story and other parts of religion are taught by the home."

Date: 2002/10/12 01:59:54, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The genome of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have been mapped and were published in issues of Science and Nature early in October.

See the Science News Online article for more information.

Date: 2002/10/12 02:30:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
A Boston Globe article highlights research aimed at finding recently evolved genes in the human genome with implications for health care and future research.

MIT scientists develop way to catch evolution in the act (Boston Globe, 2002/10/10)

Date: 2002/10/12 11:15:58, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
More on the Polls in Ohio

From the AIBS lists...

Quote
Please forward this far and wide!


Dear Colleagues,

       Before the Ohio Board of Education gives any more consideration to including
intelligent design, alternatives to evolution or the "teach the controversy"
approach, they need to listen to what Ohio's best educated scientists said in a
new poll.  The Biology Department at Case Western Reserve University and the
Internet Public Opinion Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati conducted an
e-mail poll of all the 4 year college and university science faculty they could
get e-mail addresses for, and also placed two questions about intelligent
design on the Ohio Poll to gather opinions of the general public.  A quick
summary of the results are given below, followed by the complete press releases
from the University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University and
Professor Joseph F Koonce, Chair, Department of Biology at Case Western Reserve
University.

       As far as support for intelligent design goes, only 4% of the scientists
polled thought there was a valid scientific challenge to evolution, only 7%
thought there was scientific evidence supporting intelligent design (2% strong
evidence, 5% percent some evidence), and only 5% said intelligent design was
not primarily a religious view.  The bottom line for supporters of intelligent
design is it is at BEST only a fringe view, but more accurately recognized as
the newest species of creationism to evolve.

Best wishes and please pass this on!

Steve Edinger, M.S.
President, Ohio Citizens for Science

       Among the survey's findings were:

-       Nine out of 10 scientists (91%) felt the concept of intelligent design was
unscientific and the same number responded that it was a religious view

-       A vast majority (93%) of the scientists were not aware of "any scientifically
valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the
fundamental principles of the theory of evolution"

-       Almost all scientists (97%) said they did not use the intelligent design
concept in their research

-       Ninety percent of the responding scientists stated that they felt no
scientific evidence supports intelligent design, while 2% were unsure

-       Approximately 7% felt that intelligent design had some support from
scientific evidence

-       Some 84% felt acceptance of the evolution theory was "consistent with
believing in God"

        A total of 460 professors responded or a rate of 31%.  The survey had an
error of plus or minus 4.5%.  "We are extremely pleased with the response,"
says Koonce





********************************************************************************


Internet Public Opinion Laboratory

Department of Political Science
University of Cincinnati


By: George Bishop, PhD
Professor of Political Science          For Release: October 10, 2002
Director
Internet Public Opinion Laboratory
Department of Political Science
University of Cincinnati


Majority of Ohio Science Professors and Public Agree: "Intelligent Design"
Mostly about Religion

"Intelligent Design": Is it science or religion? The idea that an intelligent
designer or a supernatural force created the universe and guided the
development of human life has become the center of a heated controversy among
Ohio educators. As the State Board of Education in Ohio wrestles with the
policy issue of whether to teach "intelligent design" in public school science
classes the latest statewide surveys of Ohio citizens and science professors in
Ohio indicate that the concept of "intelligent design" is viewed by the vast
majority of scientists and a clear majority of the public as basically a
religious explanation of human origins.

These findings are based on: (1) an Internet survey of 460 science professors
teaching at both public and private four-year colleges and universities in
Ohio, sponsored by the Biology Department at Case Western Reserve University in
Cleveland and conducted by the Internet Public Opinion Laboratory at the
University of Cincinnati between September 26 and October 9, 2002; and (2) an
Ohio Poll of 900 adults conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the
University of Cincinnati between September 4 and September 15, 2002.

Public Ignorance and Public Opinion

Despite significant coverage and editorials on the ID issue in Ohio's news
media in recent months, most Ohioans still know little or nothing about
"intelligent design". In the most recent Ohio Poll, conducted between September
4 and September 15, 2002, respondents were first asked: " Do you happen to know
anything about the concept of 'intelligent design'?" The vast majority (84%)
said "no"; 14% said "yes"; and the rest (2%) were "not sure". Not surprisingly,
college graduates were significantly more likely to say they knew something
about it (28% of them) than were high school graduates (7%) or those with less
than a high school education (6%).

Whether they knew anything about it or not, respondents were then given a brief
description of the concept of intelligent design identical to the one used in a
statewide Cleveland Plain Dealer Poll conducted this past spring:

"The concept of 'intelligent design' is that life is too complex to have
developed by chance and that a purposeful being or force is guiding the
development of life."

"What is your opinion-do you think the concept of 'intelligent design' is a
valid scientific account of how human life developed, or is it basically a
religious explanation of the development of human life?"

Given this description, the majority of Ohioans (54%) viewed it as basically a
religious explanation of human origins; less than 1 out of 4 (23%) thought it
was a valid scientific account; 7% believed it was a mix of religious and
scientific accounts; and 17% said they were "not sure."

Views of Ohio Science Professors

Not unexpectedly, those who have the academic training and expertise (PhDs) to
teach the basic natural and physical sciences in Ohio's public and private
universities regarded the concept of "intelligent design" as an unscientific
notion. More than 9 out of 10 (91%) thought it was primarily a religious view.
The vast majority (93%) of science professors said they were not aware of "any
scientifically valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges
the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution." Only a tiny percentage
of them (7%) thought that "intelligent design" was either "strongly" or
"partly" supported by scientific evidence. Most (90%) believed there was no
scientific evidence at all for the idea of "intelligent design". And 3% were
"not sure". Furthermore, when asked if they ever used the ID concept in their
research, virtually all of them (97%) said "no."

Ohio's science professors felt just as strongly about what should or should not
be taught about the controversy in Ohio schools. Most all of them (92%) thought
" Ohio high school students should be tested on their understanding of the
basic principles of the theory of evolution in order to graduate." When asked,
however, if such students should also be tested on their knowledge of the
concept of "Intelligent Design" in order to graduate, most of them (90%) said
"no."

Perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey is that the great majority of
Ohio science professors (84%) thought that accepting the theory of evolution
was "consistent with believing in God." Only 9% thought it was not; and the
rest (7%) just weren't sure. Most critics of teaching evolution in Ohio's
schools commonly assume it's basically inconsistent with believing in God.
Evidently, most of Ohio's science professors-those who understand the theory of
evolution best-do not share that widespread view.

Further statistical analysis of the data from the survey of Ohio science
professors showed only minor differences in responses across scientific fields
such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and other natural
sciences.

Survey Methodology


Ohio Poll

The sampling error for the Ohio Poll of 900 adults is +/-3.3%. A description of
the methodology for the Ohio Poll conducted from September 4 through 15 can be
found at the following website:

http://www.ipr.uc.edu/PDF/OhioPoll/op092502.pdf



Internet Public Opinion Laboratory (IPOL): Methodology

An e-mail invitation to participate in this web-based survey was sent to all
professors (approximately 1500) currently on the faculty in four-year, public
and private colleges and universities in Ohio for the following fields:
Astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and other natural sciences.
Their e-mail addresses were identified through a combination of listings on the
various college and departmental websites, supplemented by further examination
of other university information sources. Four hundred and sixty (460)
professors responded to the e-mail invitation, a response rate of 31%.

The sampling error for a sample size of 460 cases is approximately plus or
minus 4.5%. As in any other survey, in addition to sampling error, other
sources of error such as non-response and the wording and context of the
questions asked can affect the results and conclusions of the study.


The results reported here for the Internet survey of Ohio science professors
were based on the following questions (Note: Percentages Rounded)

1.      Are you aware of any scientifically valid evidence or an alternate
scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of
evolution?

a.      Yes              4%
b.      No              93
c.      Not Sure         2

2.      The concept of "Intelligent Design" is that life and the universe are too
complex to have developed without the intervention of a purposeful being or
force to guide the development of life. Which of the following do you think
best describes "Intelligent Design"?

a.      It is strongly supported by scientific evidence  2%
b.      It is partly supported by scientific evidence            5
c.      It is not supported at all by scientific evidence       90
d.      Not Sure                                                             3

3.      Do you think the concept of "Intelligent Design" is primarily a religious
view?"

a.      Yes             91%
b.      No               5
c.      Not Sure         4

4.      Do you think Ohio high school students should be tested on their
understanding of the basic principles of the theory of evolution in order to
graduate?

a.      Yes             92%
b.      No                4
c.      Not Sure          3

5.      Do you think Ohio high school students should be tested on their knowledge
of the concept of "Intelligent Design" in order to graduate?

a.      Yes               6%
b.      No               90
c.      Not Sure          4

6.      Do you use the concept of Intelligent Design in your research?

a.      Yes               2%
b.      No               97
c.      Not Sure          1


7.      Do you think accepting the theory of evolution is consistent with believing
in God?

a.      Yes             84%
b.      No                9
c.      Not Sure          7

********************************************************************************
University of Cincinati

October 10, 2002
Contact: Carey Hoffman


NEW POLL DATA SHOWS OHIOANS SEE 'INTELLIGENT DESIGN'
AS A RELIGION-BASED CONCEPT

       Cincinnati   The controversial concept of "intelligent design" theory, now
under consideration by the Ohio Board of Education, is seen by Ohio scientists
and the general public as basically a religious explanation of human origins.
That's according to a new study released today that was conducted jointly by
researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Case Western Reserve University.

       Two surveys were analyzed to produce the findings - an Internet survey of 460
science professors from across Ohio and an Ohio Poll of 900 adults conducted in
September. A summary analysis of the data by UC's George Bishop accompanies
this release.

       Bishop is a professor of political science and director of UC's Internet
Public Opinion Laboratory. A widely-known expert on public opinion surveying,
he has done extensive work on the topics of Americans' religious world views
and beliefs about human origins. Bishop can be reached in his office this
afternoon after 3 p.m.

       Case Western's work was led by Joseph Koonce, chair of the biology department.
Case Western will host a press conference in Cleveland this afternoon at 2:45
p.m. in Room 405 of Clapp Hall to discuss the study.

Media contacts: George Bishop, University of Cincinnati.
Joseph Koonce, Case Western Reserve University.
Susan Griffiths, Case Western Reserve University Communications Office.

110-02  -30-


*******************************************************************************


Case Western Reserve University

October 10, 2002                                Contact:        Susan Griffith
                                                               Senior Media Relations Representative


CWRU FACULTY REPORT FINDINGS
ON EVOLUTION, INTELLIGENT DESIGN POLL OF OHIO'S SCIENTISTS

       CLEVELAND--Nine out 10 Ohio scientists from secular and religious colleges and
universities responding to a survey say that intelligent design is primarily a
religious view and not part of science.  Case Western Reserve University
faculty reported on the findings of the Internet poll during a news conference
Thursday, October 10.

       "This is the first time we have hard data on what Ohio's scientists think
about the issue of intelligent design versus evolution," says Joseph Koonce,
CWRU chair and professor of biology.

       Koonce designed the Internet survey with the Internet Public Opinion
Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati.  He sent out e-mail messages around
the state to faculty in departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology,
physics and other natural sciences, urging them to answer a set of questions
and to give their thoughts about the evolution-intelligent design debate.  The
survey was conducted between September 26 and October 9.

       Prior to polling the scientists, the Institute for Policy Research at the
University of Cincinnati included questions on the September Ohio Poll
(conducted September 4-15) about intelligent design, asking the general public
to respond to a similar Internet poll on their views of intelligent design and
evolution.  Like the scientists, a clear majority of Ohio residents found
intelligent design to be religious, and not a scientific view.

       Findings from the polls, come days before the State Board of Education faces
the issue at its meeting on next Monday on whether to include intelligent
design or other forms of anti-evolutionism in the new K-12 science standards.
Intelligent design advocates claim life is too complex to have developed
without the intervention of a supernatural being or force, and they claim their
view is scientific.

       Most all of Ohio's science professors (92%) thought "Ohio high school students
should be tested on their understanding of the basic principles of the theory
of evolution in order to graduate."  Scientist responded negatively (90%) to
the testing about the knowledge of "intelligent design" as a requirement to
graduate.

       The survey also explored scientists' views on antievolutionism beyond the
intelligent design movement.  Some critics of evolution claim evidence against
the theory of evolution has caused it to fall out of favor among scientists.
This is clearly not the case in Ohio where the vast majority (93%) of science
professors said they were not award of "any scientifically valid evidence or an
alternative scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the
theory of evolution."

       Finally, the survey investigated the popular theme of a war between science
and religion in America and found no such conflict.  The great majority of Ohio
science professors (84%) thought that accepting the theory of evolution was
"consistent with believing in God."  Only nine percent thought it was not; and
the rest (7%)  were not sure.  Most critics of teaching evolution in Ohio's
schools commonly assume it is inconsistent with believing in God.  Evidently,
most of Ohio's science professors-those who understand the theory of evolution
best-do not share that view.

       Among the survey's findings were:

-       Nine out of 10 scientists (91%) felt the concept of intelligent design was
unscientific and the same number responded that it was a religious view

-       A vast majority (93%) of the scientists were not aware of "any scientifically
valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the
fundamental principles of the theory of evolution"

-       Almost all scientists (97%) said they did not use the intelligent design
concept in their research

-       Ninety percent of the responding scientists stated that they felt no
scientific evidence supports intelligent design, while 2% were unsure

-       Approximately 7% felt that intelligent design had some support from
scientific evidence

-       Some 84% felt acceptance of the evolution theory was "consistent with
believing in God"

        A total of 460 professors responded or a rate of 31%.  The survey had an
error of plus or minus 4.5%.  "We are extremely pleased with the response,"
says Koonce

       For further information, contact Koonce.



*******************************************************************************


October 10, 2002
Press Conference Statement of
Professor Joseph F Koonce
Chair, Dept of Biology
Case Western Reserve University



Many claims have been made in recent months as to what Ohio scientists think
about intelligent design "theory." However, until now, no data existed on
this issue. My colleagues and I set about to collect the data so that the
public may gain an accurate impression of what Ohio's scientists think. The
results are gratifying and unequivocal.

Nine out of ten Ohio scientists from Ohio public, private (including both
secular and religious) universities say that intelligent design is primarily
a religious view and is simply not part of science.

We designed and conducted this survey with the Internet Public Opinion
Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati.  We sent out email messages
around the state to faculty in departments of astronomy, biology, chemistry,
geology, physics and other natural sciences, inviting them to answer a set
of questions and to give their thoughts about the evolution-intelligent
design debate.  The survey ran between September 26 and October 9.

        Prior to polling the scientists, the Institute for Policy Research
at the University of Cincinnati included questions on the September Ohio
Poll (conducted September 4 through 15, 2002) asking the general public to
respond to two questions about intelligent design. Like the scientists, a
clear majority of Ohio residents found intelligent design to be religious,
and not a scientific view.

       Next Monday and Tuesday the Ohio Board of Education will vote on
whether to include intelligent design or other forms of anti-evolutionism in
the new K-12 science standards.  Intelligent design advocates claim life is
too complex to have developed without the intervention of a supernatural
being or force, and they claim their view is scientific. Clearly Ohio's
citizens are not convinced that this argument should be taught as science.

I want to make clear that I am a religious person myself. As a Roman
Catholic, I do believe in God and in concurrence with teachings of the
Catholic Church, I have never found these beliefs in conflict with
Evolutionary Theory.  Science addresses the nature of the physical universe,
not the supernatural or the eternal. Like me, 84% of my colleagues also
report that they find evolutionary theory compatible with belief in God.

I wish this would lay to rest the destructive notion that science and
religion are at war in America. There is no such inherent conflict. Science
and religion can promote and enhance each other without having to pretend we
know less than we actually do about how the world is constructed and how it
functions.

Most all of Ohio's science professors (92%) thought "Ohio high school
students should be tested on their understanding of the basic principles of
the theory of evolution in order to graduate." When asked if such students
should also be tested on their knowledge of the concept of "Intelligent
Design" in order to graduate, 90% said "no." Only 2% said that intelligent
design was strongly supported by scientific evidence.

The survey also explored scientists' views on antievolutionism beyond the
intelligent design movement. Some critics of evolution claim evidence
against the theory of evolution has caused it to fall out of favor among
scientists. This is clearly not the case in Ohio where the vast majority
(93%) of science professors said they were not aware of "any scientifically
valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the
fundamental principles of the theory of evolution."

We are extremely pleased with the response. Nearly 500 scientists responded,
a rate of 31%.  The survey had an error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
Equally pleasing was the outpouring of gratitude for providing the
opportunity to express their concern with the erosion of scientific literacy
in the developing K-12 standards for Ohio.




*******************************************************************************




Please see the Ohio Citizens for Science's web page at:

http://ecology.cwru.edu/ohioscience/


---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Steven A. Edinger, Physiology Lab Instructor

064 Irvine Hall
Department of Biological Sciences               steven.edinger.1@ohio.edu
Ohio University                                 Office:  (740) 593-9484
Athens, Ohio  45701-2979                        Fax:  (740) 593-0300
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

******************************************************
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
evolution."  Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
******************************************************

Date: 2002/10/12 16:54:41, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
More news from Ohio...

Evolution may be hot topic, but barely makes ripple in races (Akron Beacon Journal, 2002/10/12)

The contentious debate over evolution and "teaching the controversy" doesn't seem to be having an effect on most of the political races for positions on the board of education.

Date: 2002/10/13 05:41:59, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
State refuses to advance intelligent design theory (Canton Repository, 2002/10/13)

Quote
Pat Barron, facilitator for the writing team, said the panel held “considerable discussion about what to put in, what to leave out” and examined virtually every piece of public input.

“To have intelligent design in the standards as something that is documented in science, (they) just didn’t believe that there’d been sufficient research evidence,” she said.


That's a considerable understatement.

Date: 2002/10/13 05:50:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Darwin's theory 'may explain ill health' (BBC News, 2002/10/12)

Quote
Professor Randolph Nesse believes that conditions like heart disease, obesity and drug abuse can all be explained by the fact that the human body was not designed for the 21st Century.

He suggests many serious illnesses occur because the human body has failed to evolve and is still designed for a much simpler existence.

Date: 2002/10/13 06:03:22, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Chinese Hominid Challenges Out-of-Africa Origin of Modernman (People's Daily, 2002/10/12)

Quote
A recent finding in the dating of Chinese hominid fossils has challenged the prevailing "out-of-Africa" theory regarding the origin of modern man.

With a new dating method, scientists determined that Liujiang Hominid roamed south China approximately 70,000 to 130,000 years ago, rather than 30,000 years ago or less as it was previously believed. This new finding supports the theory that modern Chineseman originated in what is present-day Chinese territory rather than the mainstream "out of Africa" hypothesis which held that modern humans evolved from African ancestors alone.


The article claims that the "out-of-Africa" theory dates to 1987.  The writer is only about a century and a bit off.

-------------

Man or ape? African fossil sparks verbal war (Independent Online, South Africa, 2002/10/11)

Quote
Their claim is that Toumai will overturn the conventional view of mankind, because the evolutionary split between apes and humans clearly occurred far earlier than molecular studies suggest.

Nonsense, say a team led by Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan, who suggest the ape-like features found on Toumai mean he was no more than that - an ape.

Date: 2002/10/13 06:08:58, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Radioactive sand causes mutations in human DNA (Genome News Network, 2002/10/11)

Quote
Radiation has been known to cause cancer and damage to human cells, but it has been less clear to what extent it affects human DNA. Now, researchers have observed that high levels of naturally occurring radiation significantly increase the number of mutations in human DNA.




Date: 2002/10/14 09:36:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
DNA analysis cracks HIV case (Health News, 2002/10/14)

Quote
The case is the first time that "phylogenetic analysis" - a study of the mutation rate of an organism - has been used in a court of law, according to Dr David Hillis of the University of Texas in Austin and colleagues.

This case demonstrates that it is now possible to trace the pathway of infections of viruses among individuals within a population, Hillis said.

Date: 2002/10/14 10:23:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Another press item on Ohio.

School Board Panel Puts Final Touches On Science Standards (WCMH, 2002/10/14)

Quote
A final draft of the standards takes an evolution-only approach, despite efforts by some board members to add a concept called "intelligent design," the idea that a higher power must have designed life because it is so complex.

Critics say the concept is a version of divine creation, which the U.S. Supreme Court has barred from being taught in public schools.

Date: 2002/10/14 10:42:06, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Battle of the bugs (Independent, UK, 2002/10/14)

Quote
Earlier this year, scientists took the decision to deliberately introduce a ladybird from Australia to the Galapagos in order to curb the continuing expansion of the cottony cushion scale insect. This pest, whose presence on the islands was first reported in 1982, has over the past 20 years become enemy number one for 19 Galapagos plants, including six endangered species, of which two are on the verge of extinction.


This is the first use of biocontrol in the Galapagos Islands.  The article touches upon the testing and evaluation process.

Date: 2002/10/14 19:34:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Another news item:

Ohio Panel Gives Evolution Nod (Dayton Daily News (AP), 2002/10/14)

Quote
A state school board panel Monday recommended that Ohio science classes emphasize both evolution and the debate over its validity.

The committee left it up to individual school districts to decide whether to include in the debate the concept of ``intelligent design,'' which holds that the universe is guided by a higher intelligence.

Date: 2002/10/14 20:09:31, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Darwin to receive Scots honour (BBC News, 2002/10/14)

Quote
Scotland's capital city is finalising plans to honour biologist Charles Darwin.

A plaque will be unveiled in memory of the scientist who developed the revolutionary theory of natural selection.

Date: 2002/10/15 08:09:49, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
More news.  Same data, different interpretation.

Intelligent design absent from science standards (Zanesville Times Recorder, 2002/10/15)

Quote
The evolution section of the standards does include instructions to teach "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

The language was adopted over the objections of board member Marlene Jennings of Kirtland, who called it an attempt to insert intelligent design into the standards surreptitiously.

But board member Michael Cochran of Blacklick, who introduced the language, said Jennings was twisting the words.

"This just reflects that there is some debate in the scientific community currently," he said. "There are none of the buzz words that point to other theories."


Note that Cochran is on record as saying that this particular phrasing is not about opening the door to "intelligent design" discussion.  My bet is that Cochran is either being disingenuous or just plain lying.  So watch what "intelligent design" advocates say about this part of the proposed standards; if they tout it as a victory for their viewpoint, that makes a stronger case for deliberate deception on Cochran's part.

Date: 2002/10/15 18:16:13, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Ohio Board of Education Vote

What the news outlets say...

Ohio OKs Creation in Science Class (Newsday (AP), 2002/10/15)

Quote
The state school board said Tuesday it will adopt a science curriculum that leaves it up to school districts whether to teach the concept of "intelligent design," which holds that the universe is guided by a higher intelligence.


Same AP story, different headline.  This link gives more of the AP story.

School board panel: Ohio students should be taught evolution (Wilmington News Journal (AP), 2002/10/15)

Another story on the local impact:

State decision not likely to have great impact on local processes, educator says (Wilmington News Journal, 2002/10/15)

Quote
I think it could excite some people to think that things are going to happen that probably won’t," said Melissa Snyder, Blanchester Schools’ director of instruction. "I know that our science teachers are going to go ahead and teach science.

"They want to meet the state’s standards, but I don’t think they’re going to open up a bunch of controversial topics just because there’s some language at the state. They pretty well respond to the community and to their students’ interests and needs, as far as what they need to know in science."

Date: 2002/10/15 18:23:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
And a response from "intelligent design" advocates:

Intelligent Design Debate 'A Small First Step' States Ohio Roundtable (PR Newswire, 2002/10/15)

Quote
"The debate over intelligent design as a viable addition to state science standards proves just how inflexible the education establishment has become. According to recent polls, over 80% of Ohioans would prefer to have an open classroom environment for the discussion of scientific theories of origins. Yet changing a handful of words in the standards has created near hysteria among many in the education establishment.
   Today's vote by the board is a small first step in the direction of open dialogue and freedom of thought. It falls far short of acknowledging the tremendous outpouring of public support for change in the state standards."

Date: 2002/10/15 18:55:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Op-ed piece on the coming elections...

Showdown is likely over SBOE election (Doug Anstaett, The Kansan Online, 2002/10/15)

Quote
And our view is that faith issues must continue to be separated from the teaching of scientific fact in our public schools.

Science is science. Faith is faith.

Churches can teach what they want. That freedom is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

But our public schools must stick to the facts, even if some of those facts are still in dispute.

Date: 2002/10/15 20:32:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Discovery Institute Claims Victory in Ohio

Ohio Board Backs Academic Freedom and Encourages Critical Analysis of Evolution (DI CRSC, 2002/10/15)

Quote
The Board's approach was anticipated by a proposal made earlier in the year by Dr. Meyer. Testifying before the Board of Education in March 2002, Meyer proposed requiring students to understand the scientific arguments for and against Darwinian evolution and allowing (but not requiring) local districts to include "intelligent design" as part of teaching the scientific controversy over evolution.


Like I noted earlier, Cochran's statement that the language wasn't about admitting "intelligent design" looks like it was either disingenuous or deliberate deception.

Date: 2002/10/16 09:03:08, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Op-ed gives BOE kudos for decision...

School board did right thing on evolution (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 2002/10/16)

Quote
Board members stressed that they do not believe that the standards encourage students to learn intelligent design or other concepts not rooted in science. We agree. A science curriculum should stick to proven scientific facts.

The 19-member board voted unanimously to adopt the standards, and we are pleased that even those who pushed for intelligent design are receptive to the compromise.

In the end, decisions over teaching intelligent design ended up where they should with the local districts.


News item on the BOE vote...

State approves new science guidelines (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 2002/10/16)

Quote
The new science standards, used as a baseline for the state's proficiency exams, do include teaching evolution in biology classes in high school and middle school. But they also include the caveat that teachers discuss "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

That language, added Monday during a committee meeting, was deemed innocuous but important by board members sympathetic to intelligent design, the belief that a higher power played a role in the creation of all life.

"This is not ID," said board member Deborah Owens Fink of Akron, who introduced the analysis language. "This is not introducing religious perspectives. This is only introducing scientific perspectives."


That's not what the Discovery Institute thinks.  I think Owens-Fink is, like her colleague Michael Cochran, being either disingenuous or deliberately deceptive on this.  The test will be whether "intelligent design" is permitted or encouraged as an alternative "scientific" view to be discussed when evolution is mentioned in science classes.

Date: 2002/10/17 04:01:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Op-ed on the BOE decision...

A waste of time: School board mentality is unevolved (Cliff Radel, Cinncinnatti Enquirer, 2002/10/17)

Quote
The board's decision was by design. But, it wasn't intelligent.

Made in the spirit of compromise with certain board members, being open-minded, bowing to thousands of e-mails pushing intelligent design - take your pick - this decision sets a vile precedent. It opens the floodgates to every half-baked, crackpot notion about any subject taught in school.

Above all, it amounts to a waste of precious time.

Date: 2002/10/17 04:12:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Moonie take on the Ohio decision...

Ohio schools to teach evolution 'controversy' (Larry Elder, Washington Times, 2002/10/17)

Quote
    In the first of the two changes, the definition of science has been broadened to "a systematic method of continuing investigation" of nature. It replaced the previous contention that science is limited to "natural explanations," which, according to some, rules out any concept of a Creator.
    Ms. Princehouse said the change is "innocuous." But Mr. Lattimer said it allows students to consider that a higher force can be part of how science interprets the world.
    The second statement requires that teachers "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
    The decision by a five-member standards committee followed a year of hearings and public opinion polls indicating that Ohioans liked the idea of "teaching the controversy."

Date: 2002/10/18 08:24:32, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Commentary by Pamela Winnick

Inherited Debate: Ohio classrooms get a second opinion on evolution (National Review Online, Pamela Winnick, 2002/10/18)

Quote
In what could turn out to be a stunning victory for opponents of evolution, the Ohio Department of Education voted 17-0 on Tuesday to pass a "resolution of intent" to adopt science standards that would allow students to "investigate and critically analyze" Darwin's theory of evolution. With additional hearings scheduled for November and a final vote to be held in December, Ohio is likely to become the latest battleground in the never-ending debate over how life began.


Quote
Pamela R. Winnick, a lawyer admitted to practice in New York, has been a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade. A 2001 Phillips Foundation fellow, she is writing a book about the politics of evolution.


When one looks into the fellowship Winnick received, it appears that she is being paid as a partisan anti-evolutionist, not just as an investigative reporter.  I've never seen the partisan nature of Winnick's fellowship noted in relation to her "news" stories.



Date: 2002/10/20 12:35:55, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
SEAO plans to capitalize on BOE wording

RESOLUTION OF INTENT TO ADOPT SCIENCE STANDARDS (accessed 2002/10/20)

Quote
Overall, we commend the State Board for making these changes. This recognizes, in part, the results of public input which show that a large majority of Ohioans favors the teach-the-controversy approach. This also acknowledges a growing number of credentialed scientists, including over fifty from Ohio, who endorse a teach-the-controversy approach to biological evolution. We feel that the changes that have been made will align the new standards with the Santorum language in the federal education bill, the 'No Child Left Behind Act' of 2001. In addition, these changes will contribute substantially to better objectivity in biological origins instruction.

Date: 2002/10/20 12:41:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Most schools steering clear of evolution (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2002/10/20)

Quote
The mercury rose a notch or two in Cobb County this year as the community debated how evolution should be taught.

The reality is that, in Georgia, evolution rarely is.

Teachers veer away from discussing the topic and the state requires little learning in that area, educators say.

Date: 2002/10/20 12:53:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Selman v. Cobb County: court battle over creationism (JTA News, 2002/10/16)

Quote
Selman dismisses charges by Cobb backers of creationism that he is anti-religion and said 95 percent of the phone calls he has gotten have been positive.

“I’m not against anybody’s religion,” Selman said. “I want everybody to practice what they believe. I practice [Judaism] the way I want to.”

Date: 2002/10/21 01:09:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Amateurs find fossil of `world's oldest spider' (icWales. 2002/10/21)

Quote
A TEAM of amateur palaeontologists has stumbled upon the fossil of what they say could be the world's oldest spider.

The remains of a spider-like creature discovered in a sandstone quarry in Mid Wales are expected to send a wave of excitement through arachnologists.

Date: 2002/10/21 11:26:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Hovind's side of the story

Quote
It is obvious that the reporting officer saw none of the events described in the report and is taking the word of two people with a history of violence and mental illness. It is my sincere belief that the report is deliberately worded to make me look guilty and make officer Burk’s unnecessary arrest look justified. No one in the house was ever touched or threatened in any way except me.


It's an interesting read.

Date: 2002/10/23 11:53:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Intelligent Design advocate lauds state plan on teaching evolution (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2002/10/23)

Quote
"Our slogan to the press is, Teach the controversy,' " said Johnson, widely regarded as the father of the modern intelligent-design movement.

Ohio's decision to allow that controversy in science classrooms has drawn fire from the science community, which has accused the intelligent design advocates of attempting to slip religion into the classroom by the back door.

That doesn't bother Johnson, who said the scientific establishment keeps the Darwin "myth" afloat by controlling funding and keeping research it doesn't like out of scholarly journals. Ohio, Johnson said, has "liberated" teachers to teach all sides of origins.


The article dances around the political aspect of Johnson's talk.  We have the indication of press manipulation, and elsewhere there is mention of planning in Kansas being less well done than it was in Ohio.  Hello?  The press just doesn't seem to get it.

Date: 2002/10/24 08:58:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Darwinism in Crisis

Quote
For well over a century now the reigning scientific view has been that the existence of life in the universe could be explained on the basis of natural processes alone. In the light of new research in science and philosophy by a group of first-rank Christian scholars, this view is no longer tenable and is being challenged around the world.

YOU ARE INVITED TO THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY TO COME AND LEARN ABOUT “INTELLIGENT DESIGN” THEORY FROM THE VERY SCHOLARS WHO HAVE STARTED THIS REVOLUTION IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS!

Witness the news media and academic community from around southern California ask the tough questions about the “Intelligent Design” Revolution.

WHEN: Thursday evening, October 24, 2002 from 7:00 to 9:30PM

WHERE: Chase Gymnasium on the Biola University campus in La Mirada

COST: $10 per person. Tickets are available at the door only. Best seats available for early arrivals.


I plan on going, but I can't say that I was specifically requested as part of the academic community in SoCal.  I can well imagine that they may have requested press coverage, but I haven't heard anybody say that they've encouraged the skeptics to attend.

This is held just prior to the Research & Progress in Intelligent Design (RAPID) Conference at Biola.  I tried to register for this conference, but was told it is a closed event.

Notice that Biola's Christian Apologetics program, which is organizing the "Darwinism in Crisis" panel, identifies the group as "Christian scholars".  It is a refreshing break from the false claim of "top scientists" deployed in the past by the Discovery Institute.



Date: 2002/10/25 13:53:28, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Astrobiology Update: Oxygen-making Microbes Came Last, Not first (SpaceRef.Com, 2002/10/25)

Quote
"What paleontologists and geologists have had to do is reconstruct evolutionary events because biologists haven't had a very good evolutionary tree of bacteria," says Blank. To get a better family tree, Blank took advantage of growing genome archives and studied 38 genes in the whole gene sequences of 53 species of extant bacteria, including Cyanobacteria. By mapping out the rates of change in the slowest-changing genes, Blank was able to generate a bacterial evolutionary history that shows cyanobacteria branching off last.




Date: 2002/10/29 23:53:59, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Publishers alter texts to try to make grade (Houston Chronicle, 2002/10/29)

Quote
Bowing to political pressure, publishers of social studies textbooks have changed passages dealing with events ranging from the Alamo to last year's terrorist attacks.

The publishers are hoping the changes will help their 200 textbooks gain approval next month from the State Board of Education. That approval is key to getting a piece of the $345 million market.

[...]

For example, a reference in a sixth-grade social studies book to glaciers forming the Great Lakes "millions of years ago" was changed to "in the distant past."

Robert Raborn, a member of the conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy, had complained that "millions of years ago" supported the theory of evolution and excluded theories such as intelligent design.


How can ID be excluded by a reference to millions of years, when ID advocates won't take a stand on how old the earth is?

Date: 2002/10/30 00:03:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Despite failing, Taft is better choice for Ohio (News-Messenger, 2002/10/28)

Quote
At a recent joint appearance before a group of Ohio newspaper editors, Hagan challenged Taft on his stance on the intelligent design vs. evolution debate before the state school board. Hagan said that if he were the governor, he would speak forcefully on the issue, telling Ohioans that intelligent design can be taught in comparative religion classes or philosophy classes but that it does not belong in science classes.

He then asked Taft for his opinion. Taft evaded the question by saying that a committee was working on the issue. An editor followed up: OK, so a committee is looking into it, but what is your position, Gov. Taft? The governor refused to answer.

The reason: Taft can't win votes by telling us his position. But he can lose votes, so he keeps quiet.

That's not leadership, governor. Tell us what you think. Tell us what needs to be done. Make the hard decisions and then force the Legislature to deal with it. If you get another four years, you need to show that you deserved it.


In a lukewarm endorsement of Taft for re-election as governor of Ohio, the editorial gives us this vignette of an encounter on the campaign trail.  The editorial writer nails it on the head, and reminds me of Acton's aphorism that all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

Date: 2002/11/04 21:02:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Birds of a Feather (USC Research, 2002/10/30)

Quote
Scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of USC for the first time have shown experimentally the steps in the origin and development of feathers, using the techniques of molecular biology.

Their findings will have implications for the study of the morphogenesis of various epithelial organs – from hairs to lung tissue to mammary glands – and is already shedding light on the controversy over the evolution of dinosaur scales into avian feathers.

Date: 2002/12/05 13:40:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phillip Johnson on Ohio

The Dick Staub Interview: Phillip Johnson

Quote
What does Ohio's decision on science requirements mean for the Intelligent Design Movement?

The recent decision of the Ohio Science Standards Committee of the State School Board has been a big breakthrough. [Critics] are calling it a compromise, but it isn't. It's our position. It allows teachers to present evidence against the theory of evolution. This evidence includes the facts that the drawings of embryos in the textbooks are fraudulent and that the peppered moth experiment was botched if not an outright hoax.


It looks like the statements from board members that their proposed language did not represent an opening for "intelligent design" arguments are considered by Johnson to be pure flapdoodle.

Date: 2002/12/05 14:24:43, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phillip Johnson compares "Darwinists" to Napoleon's army in Moscow

Quote
They have lost a big one. They're like Napoleon's army in Moscow. They have occupied a lot of territory, and they think they've won the war. And yet they are very exposed in a hostile climate with a population that's very much unfriendly.

That's the case with the Darwinists in the United States. The majority of the people are skeptical of the theory. And if the theory starts to waver a bit, it could all collapse, as Napoleon's army did in a rout.

(Source: The Dick Staub Interview: Phillip Johnson
)

Date: 2002/12/08 00:05:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The ISCID moderator (John Bracht, if my sources know what they are talking about) recently posted concerning how ID critics came in 4 categories.

Quote
1. Open-minded skeptic: I'm interested, but not convinced.
2. Closed-minded skeptic: Not convinced and no longer interested in being convinced. Call me only if something new develops somewhere to cause quite a commotion.
3. Debunker: Not convinced; no longer interested in being convinced; interested only in convincing others they are wrong.
4. Debunking Crusader: Debunking to save humanity.

(Source: On Criticism - Four Types of Critics )


I've asked for what category I might be classed in.  Stay tuned for the results...

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/08 07:33:53, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Newspaper: at least six no votes expected on science standards

Quote
Some members of the state Board of Education say they feel pressured by Gov. Bob Taft’s office and his eight appointees on the panel to vote unanimously for the curriculum guidelines. Only a majority is required for approval.

“It’s all coming through the governor’s office — a call here, a comment there,” board member Martha Wise of Avon told the newspaper. “It’s a very heavy-handed way of dealing with the situation. This is our vote. It’s not the governor’s vote.”

Date: 2002/12/09 07:07:07, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Of mice and men

Quote
Despite the vast areas of commonality between the two species, the research identifies genetic territories that have undergone huge divergence. Mouse genes involved in sex, courtship, smell and immunity are fundamentally different from anything seen in the human genome. The nocturnal mouse uses olfactory cues for marking territory and identifying possible mates; the genes of the mouse immune system are immensely evolved compared to ours, indicating the faster genetic "arms race" between mice and their parasites – a product of the large litter size and short generation time of the fast-breeding rodent.

So although the mouse genome opens the prospect of strides in the understanding of human disease, it also provides biologists with the raw data on which to build insights into our common evolutionary history.

Date: 2002/12/09 18:12:01, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Hartwig's "Darwinian Resolution"

Mark Hartwig responds to the AAAS anti-ID resolution with the following:

Quote
Placed side-by-side with other public statements, the resolution and op-eds show how widespread Darwinist anxiety has become. [1] More importantly, however, they also reveal why Darwinists are losing ground: namely, because they are misleading their supporters.


How are supporters being misled?

Quote
In his op-ed for the Beacon Journal, Leshner attributed the ID movement’s success to “a sophisticated marketing campaign based on a three-pronged penetration of the scientific community, educators, and the general public.” This echoes a key theme of ID foes, which says the ID movement is succeeding by duping the public with shrewd tactics and a big-bucks marketing campaign.

Such claims are a great way to rally the troops: “Don’t worry boys, they’re just shooting blanks.” But they’re also a great way to get those troops mowed down, due to cockiness and lack of preparation.

Imagine someone repeating Leshner’s claim in a public forum. It would be a small matter to show that the balance of marketing power lies with the Darwinists. Indeed, the byline for Leshner’s piece in the Beacon-Journal notes that his organization “has 134,000 members serving 10 million scientists worldwide and publishes the weekly journal Science.”

[details of the marketing plan for the Evolution TV series skipped - WRE]

With the financial and talent resources that the Darwinist establishment has at its disposal, anyone repeating Leshner’s claim in a public forum is likely to end up looking foolish or disingenuous.


Note carefully what Hartwig does not do: he does not show that the claim in question is false, but rather engages the tu quoque fallacy.  AAAS has a lot of members and sends them information, sure, but what has that got to do with the issue of whether ID's success is due to marketing or to content?  Where is it that Leshner misleads?  It appears to me that the person looking foolish or disingenuous is likely to be the one who had to use tu quoque in order to have the semblance of a response.

Next up, Hartwig tries again on another issue:

Quote
The same is true for anyone who tries to defend the notion that there is no evidence against evolution and that ID success is a matter of deception and style rather than substance. Darwinist leaders have repeated these claims for years, arguing that dissent is unreasonable and should be banished from science classrooms. Such tactics are an easy mark for ID proponents, who have responded by publicizing scientific evidence against naturalistic evolution, by documenting the pervasiveness of egregious errors in biology textbooks’ treatment of evolution, and by doggedly insisting that debate be based on facts and reason rather than alleged motives.


And again Hartwig fails to touch the issue, which is whether ID advocacy has any content of its own.  Even Hartwig can't name any, for his list is composed entirely of negative arguments concerning evolutionary biology and meta-arguments about debating style.

Again, where is it that Leshner misled anyone?  Hartwig certainly develops no argument that such was the case.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/10 17:11:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On the rarity of calculations using Dembski's EF/DI

From t.o. ...

In article <3df60bc3-robomod@ediacara.org>,
Mike Goodrich  <goodrich_ms@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Mark VandeWettering wrote:
>> In article <3df3c928-robomod@ediacara.org>, Mike Goodrich wrote:

MG> I sure hope that even though you don't know all my intentions, and even
MG> though a certain amount of contrivance regarding matter, energy, and the
MG> laws of physics are involved you are still making the judgment that my
MG> posts are designed, thus confirming the utility of Demski 'sThree Part
MG> Filter.

MV> Your posts have actually very few signs of design.   But I am fascinated:
MV> can you describe how Dembski's three part filter can be used to determine
MV> that your postings are the result of intelligent design?

MG>Actually I think it would be far more instructive for you to describe
MG>how Dembski's filter would not be useful in determing that
MG>intelligent design was not the best mode of explanation for my
MG>postings, asuuming that is what you think..  It would be a good
MG>excercise in thinking out of the box for you.  (But I won't hold my
MG>breath)

I don't know that it is more "instructive", since those making the positive claim have the burden of proof.  Mike's claim that Dembski's EF/DI has "utility" is a positive claim, and thus it is Mike who has the burden of proof here.

Does Mike take up his burden?  Rather predictably, Mike attempts to shift the burden to others.  This is simple abandonment of the claim.  Mike apparently has no clue how to actually use Dembski's EF/DI, and rather than forthrightly admit this, Mike tries to distract others from recognizing this.

But Mike is not the only person for whom Dembski's EF/DI is simply too cumbersome to apply to real-world problems.  Dembksi himself has attempted only four applications of varying degrees of completeness in the period from 1996 to the present.  Which reminds me of the following:

[Quote]

Thus far Gell-Mann's theory has resisted detailed applications to real-world problems.

[End Quote - WA Dembski, "No Free Lunch", 2002, p.133]

Dembski's criticism of Gell-Mann's "effective complexity" is far more apposite when applied to his own concept of "specified complexity".  No one but Dembski has, to my knowledge, even attempted a calculation of the sort required by Dembski's description of his EF/DI.  Hmm... Actually, I may be the only other person than Dembski to attempt a calculation following his EF/DI as it was described in "The Design Inference".  I seem to recall a post here in t.o. some years back showing that solutions of the "travelling salesman problem" were examples of specified complexity.

So what would have to happen for Mike to become the very first person other than William Dembski and Dembski's critics to actually apply Dembski's EF/DI, and not simply assert that it is applicable?

Dembski lays out his "argument schema" for his somewhat revised EF/DI in "No Free Lunch" on pages 72-73.  Mike should refer to it for the full specification of what has to happen for an analysis to match the technical requirements of the EF/DI.  Failure to fully apply this framework is rampant, as analysis of Dembski's four examples shows.

First, observe an event.  It is interesting that while Dembski says that "subject S learns that an event E has occurred", Dembski is fond of using hypotheticals instead of real-world events.

Second, generate a set {H} of chance hypotheses relevant to the production of event E.  This seems to be a stumbling block, for one can note that failure is common in this regard.  Fully 25% of Dembski's proffered calculations (one of them) is notable for *not* including natural selection among relevant chance hypotheses (see section 5.10 of "No Free Lunch").

Third, identify a "rejection function f" and "rejection region R" such that E is in R and R "is an extremal set of f".  Even Dembski skipped this part in section 5.10 of "No Free Lunch".  Don't forget the gammas and deltas discussed on p.72!  This requires math, not handwaving.

Fourth, identify the "background knowledge K" that "explicitly and univocally identifies the rejection function f" from step (3).  Again, this step is notable by how seldom it is actually deployed, as can be seen by its absence from the discussion in section 5.10 of "No Free Lunch".

Fifth, identify the "probabilistic resources" for E "to occur and be specified relative to S's context of inquiry".  BTW, Mike, S is you in this discussion.  And again, even Dembski omits this step from section 5.10 of "No Free Lunch".

Sixth, fix a significance level alpha so that events less probable than alpha remains improbable conditioned on each of the chance hypotheses in {H} even when the probabilistic resources of (5) are applied.  This one requires some knowledge of probability and statistics, and thus may prove more difficult for Mike than it was for Dembski.

Seventh, confirm that the probability of the rejection region R is less than alpha for all of the chance hypotheses in {H}.  Again, this requires actual math, not vague handwaving, and may prove somewhat difficult for Mike.

Step 8 is just a conclusion that E exhibits specified complexity.  Mike has shown no problem in jumping to conclusions regardless of the lack of warrant for them, so assuming he makes it through the preceding steps, this one should pose no difficulty.  In fact, this step is so easy that most of the "examples" cited by Dembski are composed entirely of the assertion that some phenomenon E exhibits specified complexity with no accompanying justification of any sort whatsoever.  In the overwhelming majority of cases, no "calculation" of any kind is offered.

If Dembski's EF/DI did have "utility" for some applications, it seems to me that someone somewhere in the six years that it has been available publicly should have picked it up and applied it to accomplish something non-trivial.  Even if Mike successfully deployed the full EF/DI apparatus (an event that itself discourages breathholding), the end result (a conclusion that Mike's posts show "design" sensu Dembski) is trivial and would not support Mike's claim that Dembski's EF/DI has "utility" in any non-trivial sense.

There are other approaches to analysis of events based on algorithmic information theory that can do the useful,
utilitarian tasks that Dembski talks about in making ordinary design inferences without the many drawbacks that critics have noted in Dembski's EF/DI apparatus.  Wherever someone wishes to apply the EF/DI, they very likely would be better off using an alternative analytical tool.  However, the alternatives do not lead to a conclusion, either deductively or inductively, of intelligent agent causation.  So far, the only "utility" that has been demonstrated for Dembski's EF/DI is based not upon its "application to real-world problems", but rather in its very existence as a tool for Christian apologetics.  The various failures to completely deploy the EF/DI seem to have no effect on its effectiveness in apologetics.

Date: 2002/12/11 13:33:28, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
New standards play down `intelligent design'

Quote
The debate on whether intelligent design should be taught in Ohio schools has raged for months as the state board of education considered the new science standards. The standards are guidelines for teaching science to the state's 1.8 million public school students.

The new science standards emphasize evolution but allow critical analysis of the theory. However, the board added an amendment saying the standards do not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.

Date: 2002/12/11 13:45:12, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Evolution disclaimer supported

Quote
High school biology textbooks would include a disclaimer that evolution is only a theory under a change approved Tuesday by a committee of the state's top school board.

If the disclaimer wins final approval, it would apparently make Louisiana just the second state in the nation with such a provision. The other is Alabama, which is the model for the disclaimer backers want in Louisiana.


The article quotes Darrell White, who was one of the agitators for last year's legislation aimed at declaring Charles Darwin, noted abolitionist, to have been a racist.

Date: 2002/12/11 17:24:31, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Why antibiotics in meat should give you pause

Quote
In other words, evolutionary biology should matter to just about everybody in America - and would, if they paid heed to several new studies confirming what some scientists have argued for years: that antibiotics are dangerously overused, especially to enhance the growth of farm animals.

The result has been the swift evolution of bacteria that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics, such as Ampicillin, Erythromycin and Ciprofloxacin - which you may remember as Cipro, the drug of choice in last year's anthrax attacks.

You don't have to live on a farm to care about this. According to two of the studies, these drug-resistant strains are probably as close as your nearest supermarket, or even in the package of raw chicken you bought to make tonight's dinner.

In a study conducted by Consumers Union, researchers found Campylobacter in 42 percent of nearly 500 broiler chickens purchased in 25 different cities, and Salmonella in 12 percent.

Date: 2002/12/13 10:07:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Paul,

I'm not sure that John is disagreeing with Kitcher.  Kitcher is talking about postulates, things that are assumed to be true for some line of inquiry.  Rarefied design as an inference, though, is something that some people assert can be concluded from particular premises.

The problem with a postulate of the sort that Kitcher discusses, though, is that someone like Paul Nelson will come along and claim that what is being argued is theology and not science (as your 1997 NTSE talk set forth).

If "postulating an unobserved Creator" were as generally productive as "postulating unobserved particles" has been in physics, I don't think that we would be having this sort of discussion now.  Postulating unobserved particles has led to specific hypotheses and experiments aimed at producing empirical data which would bear on whether outcomes based on the existence of those heretofore unobserved particles are actually there.  So far in ID, though, there is no similar push to test the postulate: once the unobserved Creator is postulated, no evidence concerning whether that Creator exists is sought after or solicited.

But I wonder if this is going far afield from the topic of the first post.

Have readers of Dembski really been "thrown" by the "reliability issue"?  Is it the critics who have the "lust for certainty"?  I don't think so.

Let's revisit some history.  Back in 1998, Dembski published his book, "The Design Inference".  Before TDI came out, though, Dembski had a short piece published in "First Things" which discussed what TDI would be about.  Here's a snippet of that article:

Quote
Biologists worry about attributing something to design (here identified with creation) only to have it overturned later; this widespread and legitimate concern has prevented them from using intelligent design as a valid scientific explanation.

Though perhaps justified in the past, this worry is no longer tenable. There now exists a rigorous criterion—complexity-specification—for distinguishing intelligently caused objects from unintelligently caused ones.

(Source: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9810/dembski.html)


This claim has not been explicitly retracted.  It is echoed in the pages of "No Free Lunch" (p.6, IIRC).  It sure looks like a claim concerning certainty to me.

In that initial post, Dembski writes:

Quote
I argue that we are justified asserting specified complexity (and therefore design) once we have eliminated all known material mechanisms. It means that some unknown mechanism might eventually pop up and overturn a given design inference.


This seems to me to be inconsistent with, if not contradictory to, the earlier claim.  Perhaps, though, you have a different perspective that can accommodate both the "untenable worry" claim and the later admission that Dembski's "design inferences" can be overturned with additional knowledge.

Until such time as we get a statement from Dembski that the "untenable worry" claim is retracted, though, I think the critics are completely correct to hammer on this point.  Else we have the apparently inconsistent stance that the critics responding to the "untenable worry" claim are mistaken because application of the EF/DI is fallible, coupled with the continued use of the "untenable worry" claim whose basis is that application of the EF/DI is infallible for distinguishing intelligently caused objects.

Quote
This is known as having your cake and eating it. Polite society frowns on such obvious bad taste.


Wesley

Date: 2002/12/15 07:44:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
From the ISCID thread.:

Mark,

Quote
Does Wesley's dissatisfaction just boil down to two things.


I get the feeling that rather than inquire whether this is the case, that this post is trying to assert this.

Quote
1) In the last decade, the ID God hypothesis hasn't produced any or enough as useful predictions as the micro-billiard ball hypothesis, supposedly over the same time span with adjustments for the number of people working on each.

Since both seem so equally simple, he ain't asking for much! Maybe another weeks extension will help.


This has the character of a strawman argument.  If Mark would re-read what I wrote, he would find no reference to "the last decade".  What I did discuss, and what Mark does not touch upon, is the privileged position of a postulated Creator in ID conjectures.  Once postulated, no attempt is made to determine whether the postulate is valid, and even broaching the topic is anathema to many ID advocates.  This contrasts strongly with how certain other "unobservable" postulates are treated in science.  Kitcher's insight is still quite useful.

Quote
2) Dembski was initially much to over-enthusiastic about his claims, unlike those poor, humble and tentative neo-Darwinists.

It seems that recently Dr. Dembski has become more tentative as well, I wonder if that will really be the case with the opposition?

Is that it!


IMO, humble or not, Dembski continues to be "much too over-enthusiastic about his claims".  Page 6 of "No Free Lunch" only dates back to January of 2002, after all.  I'm sure Bill does not need anyone to attempt to defend his arguments with another instance of the tu quoque fallacy, though.

Wesley



Date: 2002/12/16 01:51:08, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Mark,

Quote
Wesley, you say this about the God idea behind ID,

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Once postulated, no attempt is made to determine whether the postulate is valid, and even broaching the topic is anathema to many ID advocates.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Really! How do you know they haven't been thinking of ways to do this all along and they're only in alpha stage before they're ready to release their beta's on the road to release candidate for version one. Hopefully, they wouldn't charge too much extra for later service packs like Microsoft.

If that's the case then my first comment stands. I'm being charitable and don't feel that they're trying to be deceptive. However, you seem to think that they are. Now that's juicy, do you have evidence for that charge or is that just how you feel about the situation?


This is getting bizarre.  A false dilemma is provided here by Mark to go with the strawman of the first post.  I haven't said anything here about "deception", and I don't feel like being treated to a smorgasbord of fallacies.  Mark's mindreading skills seem to be, ahem, not very well developed.

Since I don't claim to be a mindreader, I'm not
particularly interested in the "bare possibility" that the situation in ID advocacy will change drastically next week.  I am interested in what has been observed thus far, and nothing Mark provides here would indicate that my reportage has been anything but dead-on accurate.  Many ID advocates have dismissed suggestions that the existence or nature of a postulated "designer" be explored rather than being treated as a "brute given".  If Mark insists, I'll be happy to start a thread on collecting instances to document this claim.  But I think that this should be stipulated.  It is not an extraordinary claim.

Quote

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
IMO, humble or not, Dembski continues to be "much too over-enthusiastic about his claims". Page 6 of "No Free Lunch" only dates back to January of 2002, after all.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's almost 2003 after all, so nothing he's written since counts?  


Dembski provided both tentative and non-tentative claims concerning his EF/DI in NFL.  See page 6 for a non-tentative claim, and page 14 for a tentative-style claim.  Nothing he has written since has been a retraction of the non-tentative statements used in NFL.  At least, nothing that I've seen does that.  I'd appreciate a reference if the "untenable worry" claim has been explicitly retracted.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/16 03:09:49, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Frances,

Quote
Wesley raised some very good points. Lets stick to his arguments and try to refrain from distracting from them through the use of strawmen.


I was actually trying to steer discussion back around to Dembski's arguments given in the initial post.  Perhaps I should have left Paul's interchange with John alone, but I thought I could clarify things there pretty quickly and move on.  I may have been wrong about how quickly...

I appreciate the moderator letting the discussion continue in this thread at all, since it doesn't really seem to have a "brainstorming" style topic.  It is a pretty straightforward response to criticism, and in this case the critics have chosen to get somewhat involved.  (My involvement needs to be limited, as I'm getting acquainted with LaTeX for preparation of my dissertation and also have the usual daytime job.  Well, perhaps not that usual.)

Anyway, I think that what should be followed are Dembski's arguments.

Here's one:

Quote
(William A. Dembski:) Briefly, the claim that specified complexity is a reliable marker of design means that if an item genuinely instantiates specified complexity, then it was designed. As I argue and continue to maintain, no counterexamples to this claim are known.


I was there when Ken Miller presented the Krebs cycle as a counterexample to Dembski on June 21st of this year.  I think that Dembski should note that counterexamples have been proposed by Miller and also Rob Pennock.  Now, it is a given that these have not been demonstrated to Dembski's personal satisfaction, but I think Dembski's phrasing of his claim is somewhat misleading to the reader.

Further, I think the claim doesn't mean much, anyway.  Since 1996, Dembski has provided EF/DI calculations, in various degrees of completeness, for a total of four events.  


  • The Caputo case
  • The Contact primes sequence
  • Dawkins's METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL string
  • The E. coli flagellum


(If I've missed an application of the EF/DI that comes with actual numbers and complies with more than two or three of the seven steps outlined on pages 72-73 of NFL, please let me know so I can expand the list.)

That's not much of an empirical base upon which to build such sweeping claims as the "no counterexamples" claim above.

Back in 2001 at Haverford College, I made the point to Dembski that collecting "confirming" cases does nothing to test his EF/DI.  I suggested that he apply his EF/DI and perform calculations for a number of events that could be agreed have sufficient evidence of natural causation to provide real tests of his EF/DI.  These included the Krebs cycle, since shown by Miller to be a real counterexample (well, he convinced me).  I also suggested the mammalian middle ear impedance-matching system and "fairy rings" as good candidates for testing the EF/DI.

I think I brought up the point that the EF/DI should be applied to a broad range of biological phenomena at the June 21st get-together at the Fourth World Skeptics conference.  Create a workbook style presentation of a series of EF/DI calculations starting with small-scale events that everyone can agree should not trigger a "design inference" and work up to larger-scale events that biologists have evidence for saying that natural causes are sufficient.  Is the EF/DI a good guide to classifying biological phemomena?  Until we see a series of real examples of complete application of it, I think that the issue is still wide open.

Well, I'll come clean.  I expect that if such a workbook were attempted, that the EF/DI would find "design" at ludicrously small-scale events, ones that not even Bill Dembski would want to go on record as saying that they must be considered to be "due to design".  I think that Dembski's statement at the end of TDI that a "design" conclusion is not easily reached via the EF/DI is simply false.  A simple way to show me wrong is to actually produce such a compendium of example EF/DI calculations, where the EF/DI performs in a stable manner and produces expected (by ID advocates, natch) results.

The production of such a workbook would also do much to vitiate another criticism of mine, which is that the EF/DI framework is too unwieldy to be applied.  Dembski says of Gell-Mann's "effective complexity" that it "resists detailed application to real-world problems" (I think that's verbatim, but I don't have NFL in front of me.  Check around page 133.).  I think Dembski's EF/DI very much "resists detailed application to real-world problems", and the fact that Dembski has offered so few EF/DI calculations (even including the only partially complete E. coli flagellum example) supports my view.  Of the four examples, the Contact primes examples is plainly fictitious, neither the Caputo case nor the METHINKS string yield an improbability smaller than Dembski's "universal small probability", and the E. coli flagellum example suffers from a large number of defects.  Does it really take a year-and-a-half, on average, to apply the EF/DI to any sort of problem, no matter how trivial or how many steps are skipped?

I'd be interested in hearing if any third party has attempted to apply or applied the seven-step process outlined on pages 72-73 of NFL.  I no of no such examples yet.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/18 00:26:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Paul,

Quote
3. Wesley, I recall that I brought up the Kreb's cycle at the CSICOP discussion, not Ken Miller. If you have the video or audio tape, could you check for me please? Thanks.


My VCR has taken up the habit of eating tapes, so I won't be putting in my copy until I get a new VCR.

I couldn't say from recall that you didn't mention the Krebs cycle first, since you preceded Ken, but I do recall that Ken specifically discussed the Krebs cycle as a counterexample to Dembski's EF/DI.  That's because Ken used my "origination probability calculator" to "do the calculation", putting his finding on a par with the discussion by Dembski of the E. coli flagellum.  The same equations were used in both cases.  (Ken's presentation even included a slide with a screenshot of my web page.  More of Dembski's equations are implemented on my Finite Improbability Calculator.)

I recall that you disputed Ken's use of the Krebs cycle on the grounds that the evolutionary scenario Ken cited was not complete enough to satisfy you.  That was during the panel discussion.  If I find my audio tapes, I'll give them a listen.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/19 20:01:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I agree with John's clarification.

So, what are the central issues?  I'm thinking those are the issues from Dembski's topic-opening post.

The title of the thread talks about a "lust for certainty".  I think I've established that the claims of certainty can be found in Dembski's work.  That critics chose to respond to those claims should have been expected.  The more tentative claims came later and did not displace the non-tentative claims, leading to a state of inconsistency in Dembski's claims.

The claim by Dembski that there exist no counterexamples to his claim that his EF/DI is "reliable" is either abysmally weak (based on less than a handful of worked examples) or actually false (since various critics have put forward candidate counterexamples).

I've had a look at Demsbki's essay on "logical underpinnings" but I don't yet wish to comment.  I'm getting acquainted with BibTeX at the moment.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/25 05:43:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Evolution's Sweet Tooth

Quote
Like icing on a cake, the surfaces of most animal cells are covered with sugars. These molecular sugar chains are capped off by a kind of sugar called sialic acid. While one particular sialic acid - called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (abbreviated as "Gc" in this article) - is found on most animal cells, it is not easily detectable on human cells.

This is due to a genetic mutation that occurred many years ago, sometime after our last common ancestor with the great apes. All mammals except for humans tend to have about equal proportions of Gc and another sialic acid called N-acetylneuraminic acid ("Ac") in the body. Humans, meanwhile, only have trace amounts of Gc, but double the amount of Ac.

Date: 2002/12/25 05:54:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Phoenixville School District Addresses Evolution Alternatives

Quote
New wording in the Phoenixville Area School District's mission statement is already accomplishing its purpose: provoking discussion of hot-button issues such as evolution alternatives.

[...]

The mission statement was altered at the urging of school board vice president, David M. Langdon.

Langdon had sought a more detailed statement, urging the teaching of "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution.

[...]

Langdon, a software quality-control manager who earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry at Lehigh University, is a devout Christian and said he believes the Biblical account of creation is literally true. He criticized the way evolution is taught.

"My opinion is that evolution has some problems with it that the scientific community doesn't want to talk about," Langdon said.


As John Stear points out, "Creationism is not the alternative to evolution; ignorance is."

Date: 2002/12/27 00:08:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
From an ISCID thread:

Cornelius G. Hunter wrote:

Quote
I don't think we have scientific reason or evidence to believe complex systems such as echolocation or the DNA code could have evolved.


Hmm.  I don't think that we have scientific reason or evidence to indicate that echolocation is due to anything other than evolutionary processes.

There are several different approaches to biosonar.  The examples of bats and odontocetes are pretty sophisticated, but those of oilbirds and honey badgers are relatively simple.  Even humans can use hearing for directional cues, as several aids for the blind demonstrate.

So I'd like to know what, specifically, puts the dolphin biosonar system (the one I'm most familiar with) outside the scope of evolutionary process.

Wesley



Date: 2002/12/27 08:22:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Cornelius G. Hunter wrote:

Quote
I am not familiar with the dolphin's biosonar, but I am somewhat familiar with human-made radar and sonar systems. For those who may not be familiar with the bat's echolocation system, we should briefly explain that it maps out objects around it as small as a mosquito by sensing the echoes of its own squeaks. Its squeaks are well beyond the range of human hearing and are emitted at up to 2,000 times per second. Next it determines both range and direction to the mosquito by sensing the echo while filtering out echoes from the squeaks of nearby bats. Anyone familiar with today’s sonar or radar systems knows the immense complexity involved with such systems: the problems of sensing the echo in the presence of the transmitted signal which can be billions of times stronger, of filtering out spurious signals such as echoes of older transmissions, of combining the echo information with knowledge of your own motion, and so forth. Yet the bat’s detection abilities are superior to those of the best electronic sonar equipment.

Evolution, on the other hand, has been shown to be able to make rather limited modifications to multi cellular organisms. These might include resistance to pesticides, minor morphological changes (eg, beak size and shape), more major morphological changes in the case of breeding (eg, dogs), coloration, etc. My list here (off the top of my head) is not close to being complete and I do not want to short-change evolution, but I trust I'm not missing anything too significant. My point is merely that, relative to the sorts of changes required to create a biosonar system, the observed evolutionary changes are rather minor. It is also worth noting that the observed evolutionary changes are made possible by a complex cellular machine that evolution cannot explain, aside from speculation.

I think it is fair to say that there does not exist empirical evidence supporting the claim that biosonar systems could have evolved. I would say it is, as you put it, "outside the scope of evolutionary process," at least the known process. The idea that it evolved likely arises from a prior commitment to the truth of evolution rather than biosonar systems appearing to have evolved.

It is probably worth exploring the question of whether it is at least a reasonable conjecture that such systems could have evolved? Personally, I would require any such attempt to include a fairly detailed explanation of the steps involved, where each step

(i) consists of changes of the type and magnitude that are empirically observed, and
(ii) confers increased fitness, or is reasonable for us to imagine given what we know about population genetics and neutral mutations.

Also, I would require that the mutations required, in total, pass a likelihood test. That is, given

(i) the number of bat populations and the number of years available, and
(ii) the immense design space involved,

is the evolutionary pathway anything more than astronomically unlikely. I feel these requirements are reasonable, and I have not seen any explanation that comes close. And I do not think it is because they are trivial and therefore taken for granted. In fact, correct me if I am wrong, I suspect we do not even have all the details of the bat's system so as to know what the required mutations are in the first place, let alone their individual effects at each step in the process.


This appears to be a classic argument from incredulity.  It echoes early reactions against Donald Griffin's discovery of echolocation via ultrasound in bats, where is was considered inconceivable that such lowly creatures could have technology which was then new to human technology.

I'm going to discuss dolphin biosonar for two reasons.  The first is that dolphin biosonar is the sort I am most familiar with.  The second is that Hunter's claim was about biosonar generally, not limited to bats in particular.

The first issue to note is that the receiving system in dolphins need not be considered to be out of reach of evolutionary process.  I'm going to use human auditory performance as a becnhmark, since humans are a well-studied non-echolocating mammal with fairly generic capabilities.  One piece of evidence concerns the performance of humans given a biosonar task.  A study by Fish et alia (1976) demonstrated that human divers could perfrom about as well on a target discrimination task as did the dolphins, when the humans were given the dolphin biosonar signal shifted into the range of human hearing.  This indicates that even a rather general mammalian auditory system (as seen in humans) is sufficient to the task of deciphering biosonar information.  It also indicates that the general mammalian auditory system is an adequate starting point for an evolutionary process ending in biosonar capability.

What changes to the general mammalian auditory condition must occur to derive a dolphin-like system?  Either of two parameters in cochlear construction will extend frequency response on the high end: increase the stiffness of the basilar membrane or reduce the width of the basilar membrane.  This falls into the category of "minor morphological change".  Dolphin cochleas have slightly fewer turns than in humans, but a bit over double the variation in width along the basilar membrane.  The minimum width of the dolphin basilar membrane is a bit less than a third of that of the human basilar membrane.

Neurologically, dolphin basilar membranes have about the same numbers of inner and outer hair cells as seen in humans.  There are some differences in the brain, though.  The auditory cortex in dolphins is enlarged relative to that seen in humans.  Dolphins and bats each have lost the lateral superior olive, a structure implicated in coordinating eye movement with auditory cues in humans.  Dolphins are known to process clicks differently than tonal stimuli; this is something that is not seen in humans.  Dolphin evoked potentials show a faster response to click stimuli than to tonal stimuli.

Psychoacoustics also demonstrate differences in quantity rather than quality between dolphin and human hearing.  Johnson's 1968 study on temporal auditory summation in dolphins showed that dolphin and human time constants were close in the range of 0.5 to 10 kHz.  Critical ratios are similar for dolphins and humans, although critical bandwidths are larger in the dolphin than in humans by a little more than double.  For frequency discrimination, dolphins perform similarly to humans, but at a higher frequency range.  Dolphin sound localization capabilities are also similar to those in humans.

I still don't see any show-stoppers in what we know about the dolphin receiving system's characteristics.

That leaves the transmitting system for possible show-stopping adaptations.  I think I'll write a post on that separately.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/27 08:34:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Archived post from the ISCID thread:

I'll keep my comments here brief since the issue of biosonar is pretty tangential to the thread topic.

Hunter's reply lacks the specificity that I requested.  The objection seems to be raised in a general, rather hand-wavy way.  I'd also caution against trying to take cues from human technology for whether particular tasks are difficult for biological systems.  As we know from computer science, many tasks that are easy for animals are difficult for computers, and vice versa.  The application of accurate mathematics is a snap for computers, but hard for humans.  Machine translation of human languages is a classic case of something that is easy for humans (who have both of the relevant languages), but has turned out to be very tough for the computers.

I've taken my continued discussion of biosonar in dolphins to  another thread so that I won't be cluttering up this thread with it.

Wesley

Date: 2002/12/27 10:36:51, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Cornelius G. Hunter wrote:

Quote
I'm not sure how I could have been more specific. I discussed the fact that the evolution of biosonar systems is significantly beyond the observed and known evolutionary process, I discussed the complexity of the process in general, and I laid out the requirements for establishing the reasonableness of the hypothesis. I gave 3 specific requirements: (i) lay out steps which are of observed type and magnitude, (ii) steps must not degrade fitness, and (iii) mutations required must pass a likelihood test. What more could I provide, especially given the lack of specificity in the available evolutionary conjectures on this hypothesis? Am I supposed to derive hypothetical evolutionary scenarios for you and then find point out their weaknesses when no such scenarios exist in the first place? If you find my response "hand-wavy" then you must find evolution to be far more so.


One way to be more specific, overlooked by Hunter, would be to name an adapatation necessary to dolphin biosonar and present an argument as to why it could not arise via evolutionary process.  This specific form of argument is notable by its absence from Hunter's discussion.  While I disagree with Bill Dembski's mode of argument and conclusions concerning the E. coli flagellum, at least he made an attempt at a specific argument in that case.

It is nowhere near a "fact" that "the evolution of biosonar systems is significantly beyond the observed and known evolutionary process".  Begging the question is not a valid argument.  I've already pointed out simple examples of biosonar, which even if we agree to disagree concerning the examples of dolphins and bats remain as an impediment to the scope of Hunter's claim.

I'm not the one making universal claims about what is not possible.  That would be Hunter.  So far, though, I haven't seen anything that would cause me to think that the biosonar of dolphins poses a difficulty for evolutionary process.  Nothing in Hunter's discussion so far changes that.

Quote
Obviously, conjectures about the future can work both ways, and what we are left with is our current list of evidences and analyses. These do not bode well for evolution.


I think that we will have to agree to disagree on that conclusion as well.  It looks like a non sequitur to me.

Charles Darwin wrote:

Quote
Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory.


Wesley



Date: 2002/12/28 09:38:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
From an ISCID thread:

Cornelius G. Hunter wrote:

Quote
Wesley:

Respectfully, I think it is important to be clear and consistent on who is making what claim. Let me clarify that my position on the evolution of biosonar systems and macro evolution in general is that such evolution is unlikely and does not constitute a good scientific theory. I am not making a universal statement as you suggest. In fact, my comment which you originally responded to, and which you quoted in your first post was that:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't think we have scientific reason or evidence to believe complex systems such as echolocation or the DNA code could have evolved.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is not clear to me how you concluded that my claim is that such evolution is impossible. It is worth pointing out, however, that this amounts to a shifting of the burden of proof, and is a common mode of argument. In fact, it seems that in every extended discussion of this sort I am, at one point or another, asked to provide evidence that evolution is false (as though the theory is true until proven false), or more commonly, as here, am told that this is my claim and that I've failed to support it. This is so common, it is not surprising that Darwin used it:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. – Darwin, Origin
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Darwin allowed that if the skeptic could find a complex organ that evolution could not produce then the theory would be disproven. But it would be impossible for a skeptic to prove that evolution could never create complexity, for that would be tantamount to proving a universal negative.

You write:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One way to be more specific, overlooked by Hunter, would be to name an adapatation necessary to dolphin biosonar and present an argument as to why it could not arise via evolutionary process. -- Wesley
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is ironic that, on the one hand, while I am not making a universal claim you criticize me for doing so, but then on the other hand you suggest this is what is required for me to criticize evolution effectively. What you suggest is, of course, precisely the requirement that Darwin laid out, and it places the critic in an impossible position. And importantly, it makes science vulnerable to any idea that cannot be falsified.

You write:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It is nowhere near a "fact" that "the evolution of biosonar systems is significantly beyond the observed and known evolutionary process". Begging the question is not a valid argument. -- Wesley
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It would help me if you could point out how I was begging the question, as I certainly try to avoid fallacious arguments. I thought I was merely pointing out the facts of the situation when I said that :


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My point is merely that, relative to the sorts of changes required to create a biosonar system, the observed evolutionary changes are rather minor. … I would say it is, as you put it, "outside the scope of evolutionary process," at least the known process.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How is this begging the question?

You write:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've already pointed out simple examples of biosonar, which even if we agree to disagree concerning the examples of dolphins and bats remain as an impediment to the scope of Hunter's claim. -- Wesley
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not following here. Can you clarify what you see the implications are of the simple examples of biosonar?

I like your quote from Darwin:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory. – Darwin
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In other words, we need to consider all the factors, such as the explanatory power, supporting evidence in addition to the problems. I could not agree more. In fact, it is the many problems with the positive evidences, as set forth by evolutionists, which caught my interest originally. The problem of complexity is less interesting as it is fairly obvious.

--Cornelius


Pointing out a sentence that does not contain a universal claim doesn't exculpate one from defending a universal claim made elsewhere.  Here's one from Hunter:

Quote
I think it is fair to say that there does not exist empirical evidence supporting the claim that biosonar systems could have evolved.


That's a universal claim.  It's also a negative claim, which means that if any evidence exists which supports evolvability of biosonar, the claim is false.

So Hunter's universal claim is false, because there does exist empirical evidence that biosonar systems could have evolved.  I've already mentioned the simple systems of oilbirds and honey badgers, which Hunter has thus far avoided taking up.  I've also gone into some detail concerning comparing the dolphin receiving system with that of a general non-echolocating mammal, Homo sapiens.  These represent empirical evidence that biosonar is not "beyond the scope of evolutionary process".

I can understand Hunter's haste in trying to frame up a critic in an attempt to avoid the consequences of making such an egregiously false claim.  However, I'm not the type to take those sorts of shenanigans lightly.  Hunter's claim that no evidence exists to support the evolvability of biosonar is one that he bears the burden of proof for.  It may have been unwise of Hunter to put himself in the position of proving a universal negative, but he has no one else to blame for it.

Perhaps the reason that sooner or later Hunter gets called upon to prove evolution false is simply that he makes such claims, and critics naturally call upon Hunter to either support or retract them.

The "sorts of changes required to produce a biosonar system" are "relatively minor" and fully within the scope of evolutionary process, as far as I can tell.  Hunter's statement is begging the question because he is taking as a fact something that has not been established.  I suppose Hunter could respond that that is merely the use of a false premise instead, but in either case his argument is hosed.

Simple examples of biosonar imply that Hunter's claim that "no evidence exists" to support the evolvability of biosonar is simply wrong.  If evolutionary process can explain simple biosonar, Hunter's universal is false.  Further, the facts of dolphin biology do support the possibility of dolphin biosonar being derivable from a generalized mammalian condition.

Hunter's response to the Darwin quote I provided seems not to touch the issue identified by Darwin.

Wesley



Date: 2003/01/01 01:59:53, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
You might be thinking of this thread.

Basically, I took up the question of how many different codes could be constructed with the same statistical properties as the canonical genetic code, and found the number to be very large indeed, around 2.3e69.

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/08 00:51:46, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Hello, Nelson.

The ID movement's antievolutionism is well established.

The buzz-phrase "evidence against evolution" is often deployed by ID advocates. That ID advocates may not reject every observation, hypothesis, or theory found in evolutionary biology doesn't mean that the ID movement is not antievolutionary. Even the Institute for Creation Research accepts some instances of the action of natural selection occurring, which hardly means that the ICR is not antievolutionary.

Some places where ID and "evidence against evolution" coincide:

Ohioans Don't Want Evolution Only

Evidence Against Evolution

Can Neo-Darwinism Survive?

Columbus Dispatch is Blind to the Arguments and Evidence Against Evolutionism

Results of analysis of the public comments on the proposed Ohio Science Standards ...

Polls are meaningful

Notes on lecture by Phillip Johnson at KU, April 7, 2000

Critics: No science in intelligent design

Remarks to the Kansas State Board of Education

Skepticism's Prospects for Unseating Intelligent Design

Evolution FAQ

"So What Evidence IS There Against Evolution?"

No Admittance

College student challenges evolutionary theory

Evolution Rerun to Backfire; New Poll from Ohio

Transcript-NPR Talk of the Nation / Science Friday

Some DI Fellows discussing "evidence against" various bits of evolutionary biology:

Report from Hillsdale College Symposium on ID

Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism: Theories in Collision

Cobb County (Georgia) School Board Promotes Academic Freedom, Not Religion

Teach All the Evidence

Will “Santorum Language” Save Us From Scientific Fundamentalism?

This thread would be a suitable place to collect more instances of ID advocate use of the concept of "evidence against evolution".

Many of the instances here are not careful to delimit "evolution" to 'Darwinism', 'Neo-Darwinism', or similar bugbears of ID advocates.  Some explicitly reference particular things as evidence against common descent.  As "theyeti"'s IDism in One Lesson, or "No Free Hunch" says with tongue in cheek, "ID is whatever we say it is, and we don't agree."

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/10 13:03:16, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Barbarian wrote:

Quote
Maybe brains work better than we think?


And I wrote before:

Quote
As we know from computer science, many tasks that are easy for animals are difficult for computers, and vice versa.  The application of accurate mathematics is a snap for computers, but hard for humans.  Machine translation of human languages is a classic case of something that is easy for humans (who have both of the relevant languages), but has turned out to be very tough for the computers.


I certainly had no intention of giving anyone the impression that brains were incapable of solving difficult problems.  In context, I think that it was clear that I was making a case that the class of problems which is easily solved on von Neumann architecture computers is not exactly the same as the class of problems easily solved by brains, and that the latter class is not empty.

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/10 18:05:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Troubled House, a play by Daniel Schwabauer

Reviewed by Wesley R. Elsberry

People like playing "what-if" games.  Hypotheticals appear in arguments regularly to test the boundaries of application.  Daniel Schwabauer tries his hand at a "what-if" game in his three-act play, "Troubled House" (http://www.troubledhouse.com/TH.SCRIPT.final.pdf, last accessed 2003/01/09).  It is useful to enumerate the conjunction of "what-if" conditions that this play comprises:

What if an agnostic biology professor doubted the suffiency of evolutionary theory to account for the diversity and history of life on earth?

What if that agnostic professor were enamored of antievolutionary literature?

What if journalists goaded students into falsely claiming that the professor's doubts were religious in nature and that he was attempting to bring religion into the science classroom?

What if an academic inquisition were launched to accuse the professor of blasphemy against science and decline to renew his teaching contract?

What if those persecuting the professor had no answer whatever to classic antievolutionary chestnuts like "natural selection has never been observed and cannot be measured", "there are no clearly transitional fossils", "genetic information cannot  increase by evolutionary processes", and "evolution has no mechanism of change"?

What if the professor's old mentor turned out to be the most clueless of dogmatic, atheistic Darwinists around?

What if the student body were interested in "evidence against evolution" to the extent of attending hearings and starting a riot concerning the issue?

What if the professor's moral sense leads him to repudiate a "statement of faith" in Darwinism rather than recant his doubts and hang onto his job?

What if the professor's love interest, otherwise on the brink of marrying him, decided that she could not stand to leave her own academic position to go with him?


This very special set of hypothetical circumstances gives rise to Schwabauer's script.  Schwabauer's script is obviously patterned as an inverse of Lawrence and Lee's "Inherit the Wind".  The allusions of "Inherit the Wind" are overt enough as an indictment of the McCarthy era, but this aspect of the original work does not seem to have been taken into account in Schwabauer's derivation.

The result is a predictable morality play based on some of the fears common to conservative fundamentalist Christianity.  The venue is an "ivy-league university".  Journalists, represented here by students writing for the campus newspaper, are conniving manipulators who make William Randolph Hearst look like a saint.  The campus atmosphere is depicted as crushingly anti-religious.  The protagonist is a quietly stalwart agnostic, and examples of Christians whose intellectualism and cowardice dilute their faith are thrown into the mix.

"Troubled House" as a set piece borrows much from the earlier one-act play by Schwabauer and intelligent design advocate John Calvert, "The Rule" (http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/TheRule.PDF, last accessed 2003/01/09).  Act two of "Troubled House" is a re-worked version of "The Rule".  While in "The Rule", the protagonist explicitly mentions "intelligent design" and espouses easily recognizable assertions from the ID literature, "Troubled House" avoids having its protagonist even say the word "design".  All explicit mention of "intelligent design" instead comes from the inquisitors -- and I use the term advisedly, since "inquisition" is what Schwabauer prominently features on his home page for this play.

The inquisitorial nature of the "hearing" on possible misconduct by the protagonist is premised upon a general acceptance of philosophical naturalism by the administration.  The panel consists of the humorless dean of the university (it says she is humorless right there in the dramatis personae, as if we could not tell by the dialogue Schwabauer stuffs into her mouth), an emeritus professor of life sciences (who plays the inverse role from the William Jennings Bryan character of "Inherit the Wind"), the dean of the college of religious studies (who illustrates the lapse from real religious belief that sophisticated study of religion often implies to fundamentalists), and a mathematics professor who professes to be Christian but refuses to show any sign of it to the panel.  Points of logic brought up by the protagonist are passed over, points of procedure are broken by the "prosecutor", and no one even hints that the assertions made by the protagonist concerning evolution demonstrate considerable ignorance of the available evidence and state of the science.

The protagonist offers a number of claims during the course of the proceedings, and as mentioned above, none of them are effectively countered in the script.  He defines science as "empirically verifiable knowledge".  He asserts that evolutionary biology has offered no effective mechanism for change.  He asserts that natural selection has never been observed or measured.  He asserts the "all genetic change is a loss of information" argument.  ID advocate Jonathan Wells's arguments on four-winged fruit flies and peppered moths are treated as factual.  (Although, of course, Wells receives no credit here for those arguments.)  The 'panda's thumb' is asserted to simply be a "spur" with no pretensions to thumb-hood.  The Cambrian explosion is cited as a difficulty, and he asserts that no "clearly" transitional fossils exist.  Of course, any halfway clued-in lurker in this debate could supply the missing rebuttals to all these supposedly unanswerable ojections.  But cluelessness in the opposition is apparently just one of the hypothetical conditions in force here. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to remonstrate with a proponent of education in evolutionary biology for her over-optimistic imaginary debate with ID advocate Phillip Johnson (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=67lv1r%24t3i%241%40news.tamu.edu&output=gplain, last accessed 2003/01/09).  It seldom comes about that participants on either side have it all their way when put to face-to-face discussion with the other side.  The incompetence of the inquisitors in Schwabauer's play takes us ever further away from anything like verisimilitude.

The protagonist refuses to go through with an offered compromise, and thus loses his job and his love interest.  The "compromise" is for him to read a prepared statement, which is actually a statement of faith in the completeness and accuracy of Darwinian evolution.  His point is to say that truth requires anyone to say "I don't know" when it comes to evolution.  Certainly there are unknowns in evolutionary biology, but any evolutionary biologist is likely to come up with a far different list than the ones which the protagonist is urging as reasons to doubt.

It's certainly the case that the protagonist is personally ignorant of much.  He is thrilled that a student on campus asks to borrow some of his books expressing the "doubt" he espouses toward evolution.  In the play, he is falsely accused of biblical evangelism, but his real evangelical calling is for a generalized ignorance masquerading as moral fortitude.  In the end, only lip service is paid to the concept of looking at the empirical evidence.

I think that we can count on ID advocates pushing for student groups to perform this extended work of propaganda.  But as with most propaganda, I suspect that its value as entertainment will remain low.

The "study questions" at http://www.troubledhouse.com/study.html are notable for their absence of examination of the claims made in the play.  Although Schwabauer claims that his site gives a brief introduction to "both sides of the controversy", I see remarkably little accurate information about evolutionary biology given there, and rather a lot of what ID advocates claim evolutionary biology is.  There are no links to sites which argue whether ID claims are valid, such as TalkDesign, TalkReason, and Antievolution.Org, or even those which take the part of mainstream science, such as The TalkOrigins Archive or the National Center for Science Education.

Schwabauer sells manuscript copies for $6 each, and charges a $60 royalty for performances.

Wesley



Date: 2003/01/12 22:56:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Nelson,

You appear to be making an "argument from restricted connotation".  Your connotations of "intelligent design" and "antievolution" do not count as universally or even widely acceded.

I think that it is clear that ID advocates -- and this category is inclusive of many holding a young-earth creationist view -- often urge consideration of "evidence against evolution".  The plain import is that these people take an antievolutionist stance.

Having taken pains to urge ID as a "big tent" idea, ID advocates cannot simply dismiss those of their ranks who hold to a YEC stance, or repudiate their use of ID rhetoric and arguments.  Those YEC advocates of ID are just as much part of the movement as those who are OEC or partial accommodationist.

As for the link to the description of the Rodney LeVake case, Nelson may not recognize why the link is relevant, but others will easily see that LeVake is an ID advocate who espouses the "evidence against evolution" strategy of antievolutionary activism.

I have no idea why ID should be urged by Nelson as a "mechanism" of evolution, when we have a proclamation by no less an authority than William Dembski that ID is not that kind of theory.

As noted before, ID advocates seem to tell us, "ID is what we say it is, and we don't agree."

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/13 15:10:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Design Theory and its Critics

Quote
The present book, Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics, is intended as a sourcebook of materials from both sides of the present debate. The editor, Robert T. Pennock, who is a vocal critic of ID, takes it that ID claims fail more or less on all fronts, and while giving both sides a platform, intends for the present volume to make ID's untenability (as he sees it) amply clear.


Ratzch apparently does not distinguish an accusation of ignorance from ad hominem.

Quote
One individual particularly singled out is, surprisingly, Alvin Plantinga, who al-
though an ID sympathisizer is not an ID advocate.

Ruse:
We know that Plantinga's agenda is Christianity. That is fair enough. But it is an agenda backed by a deliberate ignorance of work that is going on today in science. Plantinga is able to talk so confidently about science stoppers only because he has not and apparently will not look at what scientists are saying and achieving. [Ruse, p. 382]


Ad hominem arguments are irrelevancies directed at aspects of personality.  Demonstrable ignorance of topics at issue, though, is directly relevant and is a legitimate point of argument.

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/14 12:46:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
'Intelligent design' believers, sect seek curriculum change

Quote
People who believe in “intelligent design” are trying to change the way science is taught in West Virginia’s public schools. This time, they have an unlikely ally: the Raelian sect espoused by baby-cloner Brigitte Boisselier. On Friday, the public comment period ended for four statewide education standards. The standards for reading, math and social studies slipped through fairly quietly — but not science. More than 100 people spoke out about the new science standards, the state Department of Education estimates.

Date: 2003/01/14 21:52:52, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Creationist Museum Acquires 5,000 Year Old T. rex Skeleton

Quote
TULSA, OK—In a major coup for the growing field of creation science, the perfectly preserved remains of a 5,000-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex were delivered Monday to Tulsa's Creationist Museum of Natural History.

Date: 2003/01/16 21:57:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
God and the Explanatory Filter

Quote
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Subject: God and the Explanatory Filter
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God and the Explanatory Filter

Dembski's Explanatory Filter (EF) is intended to distinguish regularity, chance and design.  Dembski claims that the filter does not register false positives for design, though it is susceptible to false negatives.  When we apply the EF to God we get some interesting results.

The filter has three stages, first a check for regularity, second a check for chance and third a check for design.


1 First Stage - Check for Regularity

If something is due to regularity then it is the outcome of the working of the laws of the universe.  Since God is the creator of the universe it is not possible for God to be due to regularity.  I am sure that all believers would agree that God is not a product of the laws of the universe.

2 Second Stage - Check for Chance

For something to be due to chance the probability of it happening by chance must be greater than Dembski's Universal Probability Bound (UPB).  This is 1 in 2 ^ 500, equivalent to 1 in 10 ^ 150, or 10 ^-150.  This equates to 500 bits of information.  Evaluating the probability of God is not easy.  There are two possibilities: God is simple or God is complex.

2.1 God is Simple

If God is simple, then God does not contain a lot of information.  Low information corresponds to high probability, so a simple God would be more probable than the UPB.  In this case the EF would assign God to chance.  I do not think that there are many believers who would agree that the existence of God is due to chance alone.  This incorrect result might indicate a problem with the assumption that God is simple or else it might show a problem with the Explanatory Filter.

2.2 God is Complex

God is complex, but how complex relative to the UPB?  This question is dependent on how much information God contains. God is omniscient, knowing everything; a very large amount of information indeed. However we can put a lower limit on the information contained in God. Given that God wrote the Bible, the minimum amount of information is the amount contained in the Bible. God knows more than is in the Bible; knowing less is not possible.

Looking at one of my Bibles, I find that it has about 30 characters per line, 56 lines in a column and two columns per page. The Old Testament contains 840 pages and the New Testament 240 pages. A total of 1080 pages.  This is 30 x 56 x 2 x 1080 = 3628800 characters. For simplicity let us take the number of possible characters as 30, 26 letters plus space and some punctuation.  Therefore by the standard probability argument the likelihood of the Bible having arisen by chance is 1 in 30 ^ 3628800. Remember that this is an upper bound, God is less probable than this because he contains more information than is in the Bible.

Working out the numbers, 1 in 30 ^ 3628800 is a probability of 1.8 x 10 ^ -3628942.  This is less than the UPB of 10 ^ -150 with a good margin for error.  Hence the EF does not assign God to chance at this stage.

This is a better result.  God is not due to chance, which is in agreement with the opinion of all believers.  I will proceed on the assumption that God is complex.


3 Third Stage - Check for Design

3.1 Look for a Specification

The third stage starts by looking for an independent specification. God certainly has a specification, scripture.  Given that God is specified then God is again not a result of chance: the EF assigns low probability non-specified events to chance.  Again this is a good result indicating that God is indeed specified.  Had God not been specified then the EF would have indicated chance which we have already rejected in 2.1.

3.2 Design is Detected

At the third stage the EF says that if something is both complex and specified then it is due to design.  God is both complex, by 2.2, and specified, by 3.1.  Hence the EF says that God is due to design. Remember also that Dembski claims that the EF does not show false positives for design so this result is supposed to be reliable.  Of course the EF says nothing about the nature of the designer, it merely asserts the presence of intelligent design.


4 Conclusions

I think all believers would agree that God did not arise from either regularity or chance.  However by Dembski's definition of design only regularity, chance and design are allowed -- Dembski defines design as everything which is neither regularity nor chance.  With this definition of design it is inevitable that the Explanatory Filter decides that God is designed.

Given the wider aims of the ID movement it is amusing to see that Dembski's Explanatory Filter appears to give support to the atheist argument that God was designed by humans.  I am more inclined to think that either the EF is flawed or that this is an example of a false positive for the EF.

Date: 2003/01/19 09:43:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
When posting quotes like the one above, please also enter them into the quotation database.

Thanks,
Wesley

Date: 2003/01/22 06:00:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
ICR Event Announcement Calendar (click on Jan. 24)

You can find a mini-bio of Edward Max at this New Mexicans for Science and Reason web page.

If you haven't seen the "Gish Gallop" in person yet, this is likely to be an excellent opportunity to experience it.

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/22 18:47:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dr. Max has debated Gish before.  

THE GISH - MAX AMARILLO DEBATE

Gish-Max Debate Draws Overflow Crowd

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/25 12:08:50, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
My first installment of comments on the Duane Gish v. Edward Max debate...

Edward Max opened with discussion of what things were accepted by evolutionists versus creationists.  Both creationists and evolutionists agree that "microevolution" occurs.  Creationists disagree that common descent or macroevolution occur, while those are generally accepted by evolutionists.  Creationists disagree that gene duplication, random mutation, and natural selection can accomplish the tasks of explaining the adaptation and diversity of living organisms, while this is generally accepted by evolutionists.  Both sides agree that there is no evidence that would compel belief in a purely naturalistic origin of life, and also that there is no evidence that excludes God from having had a role in species origins.

Max utilized a good technique, which was to use Duane Gish's past statements from debates and presentations for comparison to the standards of science in the scientific community.  One of the first things which Max examined was Gish's infamous claim that analysis of protein similarities showed that by that line of evidence, bullfrogs were the closest living species to humans.  

Quote
If we look at certain proteins, yes ... it can be assumed that man is more closely related to a chimpanzee than other things.  But on the other hand, if you look at other certain proteins, you'll find that man is more closely related to a bullfrog than he is a chimpanzee."  (Source: Duane T. Gish, 1983 broadcast on PBS)


When pressed to give his references to substantiate this claim, Gish could give no actual data.  The vague reference extracted turned out to concern a joke told by an evolutionary biologist at a conference, not anything that came out of a laboratory.  Max introduced the phrase bullfrog argument to describe this situation of a proponent of antievolution putting forward an argument that could not withstand the slightest scrutiny, as would be required simply to permit initial publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  The remainder of Max's talk was peppered with images of a bullfrog whenever he made the point that an antievolution argument failed to withstand even cursory scrutiny.

Max made two points concerning creation "science" arguments in general:

Quote
1. Used repeatedly for church and debate audiences, who find them persuasive

2. Questions challenging their scientific rigor are not answered


More later...

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/28 09:13:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Human Cloning Takes a Hit, Thanks to Bizarre Cult Claim

Quote
"Once the shock of what has happened wears off, you are easily on a slippery slope to more (cloning) applications and attempts," said Fuz Rana, vice president of science apologetics for Reasons to Believe, a Christian organization in California that concentrates on issues of science and faith. "The one thing I am hoping is that maybe the Christian community can exploit the fact that Clonaid was involved in the first attempt at human cloning. The fact that it was a UFO group makes it much more repugnant than if it was done by pristine scientists in white lab coats."


Fuz Rana also happened to be a featured speaker at the Biola University "Research and Progress in Intelligent Design" conference last fall.  Notice that Rana seeks to exploit "repugnance" based solely upon who allegedly cloned a human, rather than whatever arguments may be offered.  This is a pretty straightforward repudiation of the usual Discovery Institute line that "motivations" don't count in arguments, just the validity of the arguments themselves.

Wesley

Date: 2003/01/28 09:22:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Debate continues over creationism versus evolution in public schools

Quote
According to Georgia State Biology Professor Sarah Pallas, creationism relates to religious theories and is not scientific in nature.

"It would be a clear violation of the Constitution [First Amendment] to teach those views in public school science class," said Pallas.

Date: 2003/01/29 05:17:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
A framework for consciousness

Quote
ABSTRACT

Here we summarize our present approach to the problem of consciousness. After an introduction outlining our general strategy, we describe what is meant by the term 'framework' and set it out under ten headings. This framework offers a coherent scheme for explaining the neural correlates of (visual) consciousness in terms of competing cellular assemblies. Most of the ideas we favor have been suggested before, but their combination is original. We also outline some general experimental approaches to the problem and, finally, acknowledge some relevant aspects of the brain that have been left out of the proposed framework.

Date: 2003/02/04 07:57:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Micah, you complain of "uncharitable discourse" being directed against PCID.  Charity is a virtue, and according to the old adage it should begin at home.  Perhaps some re-examination of how "charitable" the discussion contained within PCID is in order.

I know that in my dealings with antievolutionists, I am more likely to keep a moderate tone with those who don't imply that I am stupid or dishonest for holding the views I have.  In general, I think ID advocates are sincere in their antievolutionism, but mistaken.

I'll concede that there is often a lack of charity in the writings of those who oppose antievolution.  I won't concede that this is done without reason in all cases.  I'll assert, though, that ID advocates and contributors to PCID do not set a charitable tone by example.  Here's a sample...

Quote
The more indirect the argument, the easier for Darwinists to overlook or conceal difficulties.

[...]

Professor Miller simply tries to use the term "gene duplication" as a magic wand to make the problem go away, but the problem does not go away.

(Source: Michael Behe in PCID 1.1)


What's this stuff about "conceal" or "magic wand"?  Is that "charitable"?  I don't think so.

I find it hypocritical of ID advocates to complain of a lack of charity or polemical writing in their correspondents's work when the ID literature (including that portion that is found within PCID) is replete with both.  If charity is something you value as an ISCID fellow and member of the editorial board of PCID, my advice is that you should lead by example.  If you fail to show charity and eschew polemics through the contents of PCID, don't get indignant when the responses get a bit testy.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/04 16:56:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
If I recall correctly, there are no "brakes" in the review process for PCID.  Recommendation by two ISCID fellows assures publication, no matter how many might raise issues with a submission.

I'd recommend that the policy be amended to something more like the peer-review process for mainstream journals, at least to the extent that critical comments could give the editors discretion to withhold publication until the issues are substantively addressed.  I don't think that would unduly restrict the stated desire to permit more speculative papers from appearing, but it should help improve the quality.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/10 10:35:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Creationism bill slips under radar

Quote
Sen. Larry Salmans, R-Hanston, said he took a seminar last summer on "Intellectual Intelligent Design." Other attendees asked him to introduce the bill, which he said had been introduced in other states.

"They think the scientific method is being ignored," Salmans said. "It's neutral with respect to creationism or natural origins; it's about academic freedom."

Though the bill does not explicitly mention evolution or creation science, it does require schools to "encourage the presentation of scientific evidence supporting the origins of life and its diversity, objectively and without religious, naturalistic or philosophic bias or assumption." The bill also would prohibit schools from punishing teachers who deviated from curriculum requirements.


The article notes that it is likely that the bill will not pass.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/15 06:17:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Wesclin committee will investigate teaching of 'intelligent design'


Quote
Trimble, who is a teacher in the McLuer school district in St. Louis, offered his assistance in helping administrators and the committee in sorting through "intelligent design" issues. Trimble said he has taught "intelligent design" theory in several private religious schools. "It's a fascinating topic, and there's much information available, and I'd be happy to provide whatever input I can," said Trimble, who also noted that he is a graduate theology student.


I somehow doubt that Trimble's briefing will cover objections by Orr, Sober, Pennock, Van Till, and Wilkins.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/15 06:33:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Students build skills at conference

Quote
The keynote speaker of the event was Elliot Sober, a professor from the University of Wisconsin. Sober is a nationally recognized professor who is known for his work regarding the philosophy of biology. Sober gave a speech on scientific philosophy, titled, “Intelligent Design is untestable. What about Natural Selection?”  Sober was the only professor to give a presentation, with the rest of the presentations being put on by students.

Date: 2003/02/15 06:52:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Ministries say expeditions to archaeological sites support creationism

Quote
A San Antonio ministry that subscribes to creationism is giving home-schooled children a chance for hands-on learning at archaeological digs that it says enhances the youths' knowledge of both science and faith.

Vision Forum is a 5-year-old evangelical Protestant ministry that provides instructional materials for Christian home-schooling parents across the country. Last year it began booking family expeditions with a Florida-based ministry, Creation Expeditions, to archaeological sites they believe support biblical claims that God created the world in six days.


The sites discussed in the article relate to paleontology instead of archaeology.



Date: 2003/02/16 15:57:13, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Evolution theory bonds scientists named Steve

Quote
That makes four Steves who support evolution, and there are apparently 221 other scientists who agree -- all of them named Steve.

With tongue firmly in cheek, the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education trotted out the long list of evolution-minded Steves today at the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver.  

The so-called Project Steve takes satirical aim at creationists who use similar lists of scientists to lend credence to their belief in a theistic model of creation, which does include a common ancestry.

"Creationists are fond of amassing lists of Ph.D.s who deny evolution to try to give the false impression that evolution is somehow on the verge of being rejected by the scientific community," said Eugenia Scott, executive director of the Oakland-based center. "Nothing could be further from the truth."


See the National Center for Science Education's
Project Steve page.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/17 07:39:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Bringing in the Steves

Quote
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an Oakland, California-based nonprofit organization affiliated with AAAS, issued a 90-word statement firmly supporting evolution education and asserting that "there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred" within the scientific community. The mini-manifesto was signed by 220 scientists. And in a clear case of intelligent design, every one of them is named Steve.

The list, which includes Steves, Stevens, Stephens, Stefans and Stephanies, is in part homage to the late Stephen Jay Gould. And as Steves make up about one percent of the US population according to the Census Bureau, the assumption is that the 220 signatories represent about one percent of the 22,000 scientists who would endorse the new statement.

Date: 2003/02/17 13:50:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
'Steves' support teaching of evolution

Quote
Yesterday's statement aimed to make fun of the anti-Darwin manifestos that were signed and circulated in the past few years, its organizers said.
    "Of course science isn't decided by manifesto; this statement pokes fun at such efforts," said Nobel physicist Steven Weinberg.
    He said the validity of evolution is seen in scientific papers.
    The statement, signed by 220 Steves, includes two Nobel prize winners and eight members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Date: 2003/02/18 08:35:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Stephens and Stephanies support teaching of science

Quote
Dr. Stephen B. Malcolm, an associate professor of biological sciences at Western Michigan University, is one of more than 200 scientists named Steve to sign a national resolution supporting the theory of evolution as a "vital, well-supported, unifying principal of the biological sciences."

Malcolm joined 224 other Steves and Stephanies to sign the statement issued Feb. 16 in Denver at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Signatories backed evolution instruction in public schools. The tongue-in-cheek initiative was designed both as a tribute to the late Harvard evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould and a spoof of anti-evolution manifestos that incorporate lists of names of scientists as evidence that evolution is falling into disfavor in the scientific community.



Scientists spread the word on evils of pseudoscience

Quote
Scientists must be the evangelists against the well-financed effort to undermine science education, especially evolution, a physics professor said Monday.

Scientists have become society's bad guys, as portrayed in the television series The X-Files where the truth is out there and don't trust anyone, said Lawrence Krauss, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Krauss, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said religious dogma and pseudoscientific nonsense have marginalized science at the highest levels of government and the schools.




Date: 2003/02/18 11:06:12, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Project Steve of scientists targets creationists for serious humor

Quote
Nobel Prize winner and Stanford University physicist Steven Chu believes we all came from the same ancestor that stepped out of the primordial ooze a few billion years ago.

All of us. Poodles and people. Wasps and wombats.

Steve Beckendorf, a University of California, Berkeley genetics professor, supports that theory too.

As does UC Berkeley environmental scientist Steve Beissinger and applied physics professor Steven Block.

That makes four Steves who support evolution and there are apparently 221 other scientists who agree -- all of them named Steve.

Date: 2003/02/18 12:15:28, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Yeast Protein Could Make New Chip Material

Quote
A misfolded yeast protein, used to conduct electricity, could produce dramatically smaller computer chips and more powerful sensors, researchers reported Friday.

The protein, about 1 millimeter long but only a few nanometers -- or billionths of a meter -- thick, which was coated with gold as the conducting medium, was chosen because it could produce exceptionally durable electronic components, the researchers said.

"We can imagine circuits in computers that are an order of magnitude smaller than they are now, using this technology," Susan Lindquist, director of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., told United Press International.

Date: 2003/02/18 23:13:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Scientists Lampoon Creation Science

Quote
Yet, one biologist who did not sign the statement — Stephen C. Lawler — said the "Steves" on this list are bowing to peer pressure.

"Over the years, you have a choice to make as a scientist — if you're going to fess up to reality, or if your going to desire to hold on to your career, your lifestyle, etcetera," Lawler said.

Date: 2003/02/19 10:52:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Pupils keep memory of meningitis victim alive

Quote
A SCHOOL has paid a special tribute to an outstanding 15-year-old pupil who died suddenly last August as a result of meningitis.

[...]

The school held the Ben Moore Memorial Lecture on Creation or Evolution last week which was introduced by Ben's father and given by Dr Farid Abou-Rahme.

Mrs Otter said: "Everyone contributed something to the assembly, whether it was a reading or a song. My tutor group collected the money for the memorial."

Date: 2003/02/20 10:01:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Interesting press release.  Various of the "facts" urged for consideration by the press have the property of being false.

Quote
As you report on controversies over evolution and intelligent design, here are some facts you might find useful:


1. There is a growing scientific controversy over Darwinian evolution.


Glenn Morton's The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism page shows that this sort of claim predates Darwin.  And yet evolutionary biology does not yet reflect the sort of change that the evolution deniers claim is imminent.

Quote
a) Today there are critics of Darwinian evolution within the scientific community, including biologists at mainstream American universities. In 2001, more than 100 scientists including scholars at such institutions as Yale, Princeton, MIT, and the Smithsonian signed a public statement announcing that they were "skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." [A complete list of these scientists can be found in A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.]


The DI list of scientists was exactly the sort of thing that NCSE's Project Steve was meant to critique.  Science isn't conducted by list-making.  A more serious analysis and critique of the DI's "dissent from Darwinism" was made by NCSE, which presented the demographics of the group of signatories.  (The only "Steve" on the DI web page is Stephen C. Meyer, who is a philosopher, not a scientist.)  Another tricky bit about the DI list is that the signatories are not necessarily "at" the institution listed.  The institution listed by the DI tended to be either the current affiliation or the institution were a terminal degree was obtained, selected apparently on the basis of which one looked more impressive.

Quote
b) Because of the scientific critics of Darwin's theory, it is misleading to present the modern controversy over Darwinian evolution as a simplistic battle between "science" and "religious fundamentalists." Accurate reporting on this issue should do justice to the complexities of the real situation, not resurrect stereotypes from the fictional movie Inherit the Wind.


Just because a scientist holds an opinion does not necessarily mean that the opinion given has a scientific basis.  In the case of modern antievolution, it is not at all misleading to point out that the antievolution movement (including the "intelligent design" advocates) proceeds via a political agenda.  In all but a few ambiguous cases or anti-Darwinian fellow-travelers, this political agenda is underwritten by a religious precommitment.  It really isn't all that complex.

Wesley

Date: 2003/02/20 12:29:07, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Berkeley Scientists Create First 3-D Map of Protein Universe

Quote
The universe has been mapped! Not the universe of stars, planets, and black holes, but the protein universe, the vast assemblage of biological molecules that are the building blocks of living cells and control the chemical processes which make those cells work. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have created the first three-dimensional global map of the protein structure universe. This map provides important insight into the evolution and demographics of protein structures and may help scientists identify the functions of newly discovered proteins.

Sung-Hou Kim, a chemist who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley's Chemistry Department, led the development of this map. An internationally recognized authority on protein structures, he expressed surprise at how closely the map, which is based solely on empirical data and a mathematical formula, mirrored the widely used Structural Classification System of Proteins (SCOP), which is based on the visual observations of scientists who have been solving protein structures.

"Our map shows that protein folds are broadly grouped into four different classes that correspond to the four classes of protein structures defined by SCOP," Kim says. "Some have argued that there are really only three classes of protein fold structures but now we can mathematically prove there are four."

Date: 2003/02/21 10:08:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
NCSE Announces Adoption of West Virginia Science Standards

Quote
Friends,

On February 20, 2003 the West Virginia Board of Education voted to adopt
new science standards developed over the past year. The vote to approve
the draft standards without any of the changes proposed by supporters of
"intelligent design theory" was unanimous. Evolution features
importantly in the new guidelines, which are based on frameworks
suggested by the National Academy of Sciences and the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.

Opponents of evolution education, including local creation science
organizations, the West Virginia American Family Association, and
Intelligent Design Network (IDnet, based in Kansas) had objected to the
proposed standards and attempted to convince the Board to make
significant changes. IDnet in particular sent several very long letters
to the Board. Two IDnet leaders presented an "Intelligent Design
symposium" and met or spoke several times with Board members and staff
of the Department of Education. In the end, the Board decided not to
make any changes in the draft standards.

Jody Cunningham, president of the West Virginia Science Teachers
Association, commented after the decision: "In a courageous move the
Board voted to reject all attempts by Intelligent Design Network to
weaken our Content Standards. It was exciting to hear the Board give
full support to the standards.  They were not changed in any way. We
were able to reject any attempt to weaken or even to insert a phrase
that was not placed in the standards by the teachers of West Virginia."


Eric

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
W. Eric Meikle, Ph.D.
Outreach Coordinator
National Center for Science Education
420 40th St., Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510 601-7203 x307
510 601-7204 (fax)
800 290-6006
meikle@ncseweb.org
www.ncseweb.org

Date: 2003/02/21 10:11:49, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
West Virginia Science Standards

The above page shows the various proposals by IDNet of Kansas which were rejected in their entirety by West Virginia.

Date: 2003/02/21 14:42:50, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
West Virginia science standards won't include evolution alternatives

Quote
The standards had been opposed by the Intelligent Design Network in Shawnee Mission, Kan. Representatives of the group had spoken to the board several times.

"I don't see how you can tell kids they are not created," John Calvert, managing director of the Intelligent Design Network, said Feb. 19. "Essentially when West Virginia teaches students that living systems are not designed, that's really teaching anti-religious theory. The court has said the state has to be neutral."

Other evolution opponents said yesterday they objected to students being "indoctrinated" to believe Darwin's theory, which they said cannot be scientifically proven.

"Let's let them hear the facts and decide for themselves. That's good pedagogy," said Karl Priest, an educator for 30 years. "Let's let the kids see the debate. It's an honest debate. It will be good for students and society."

Other speakers derided evolution opponents.

"They have the same station as people who say the world is flat," said Charles Pique, a retired physicist and electrical engineer who lives in Mink Shoals.

"The scientific community believes that evolution is as certain a fact as the world is round."

Date: 2003/02/27 20:17:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
From the IDEA club page linked above:

Quote
But if you think that essentially no one trained in the sciences, particularly the biological sciences, is skeptical of Darwinism, or if you think that the "argument-from-authority" is a persuasive or conclusive argument in this issue, then please at least consider the modest presentation of Darwin-skeptics on this list. We don't expect to -- and never wanted to -- convince you that so much scientific opinion is on our side that therefore we are right--that argument, which some Darwinists use, discourages critical thinking, which we value very highly. We simply hope that this list might help show that intelligent people do question Darwinism, such that you might want to shift your eyes back to the evidence, and take a second (or first) look at the scientific evidence of this issue yourself. We are happy to invite you to peruse the articles on our website in the process.


The DI list was not offered just to substantiate an existential claim of dissenting scientists.  The DI also makes the claim that ID is a rapidly expanding community which will shortly displace evolutionary biologists.  As Glenn Morton has shown, such claims even predate Darwin.  As "Project Steve" shows, the scientific community shows no sign of changing its demographic profile on evolutionary biology.

Wesley

Date: 2003/07/05 09:42:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dembski deploys Soviet::Darwinist analogy, yet again

Quote
In the current intellectual climate it is impossible to get a paper published in the peer-reviewed biological literature that explicitly affirms intelligent design or explicitly denies Darwinian and other forms of naturalistic evolution. Doubting Darwinian orthodoxy is comparable to opposing the party line of a Stalinist regime. What would you do if you were in Stalin's Russia and wanted to argue that Lysenko was wrong? You might point to paradoxes and tensions in Lysenko's theory of genetics, but you could not say that Lysenko was fundamentally wrong or offer an alternative that clearly contradicted Lysenko. That's the situation we're in. To get published in the peer-reviewed literature, design theorists have to tread cautiously and can't be too up front about where their work is leading. Indeed, that's why I was able to get The Design Inference published with Cambridge University Press but not No Free Lunch, which was much more explicit in its biological implications.


-- Topic: ID and Peer Review

Date: 2003/08/09 10:16:57, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Cross-species Mating May Be Evolutionarily Important And Lead To Rapid Change, Say Indiana University Researchers

Quote
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Like the snap of a clothespin, the sudden mixing of closely related species may occasionally provide the energy to impel rapid evolutionary change, according to a new report by researchers from Indiana University Bloomington and three other institutions. Their paper will be made available online by Science magazine's "Science Express" service on Thursday (August 7) at 2 p.m. EDT.

A study of sunflower species that began 15 years ago shows that the sudden mixing and matching of different species' genes can create genetic super-combinations that are considerably more advantageous to the survival and reproduction of their owners than the gene combinations their parents possess.

Date: 2003/08/14 03:29:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Guest columnist misrepresents views

Dr. Sean Carroll takes exception to the misuse of his words by John G. West of the Discovery Institute.

Quote
Editor:

John G. West of the Discovery Institute, in his guest column Friday, quoted an article in a leading biology journal as purported support for his view that alternatives to contemporary evolutionary science ought to be presented in biology textbooks. I am the author of the article he quoted (but did not properly cite) and I am writing to make it absolutely clear that West is gravely mistaken in taking the excerpted sentence out of its full context.

Date: 2003/08/14 10:53:44, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
For decades, antievolutionists have attempted to influence the state of Texas in its selection of science textbooks (and all too often succeeded).  Texas is an attractive target for antievolutionists.  The state's constituency is largely conservative and religious, so there is an overlap with the ideological outlook of most antievolutionists.  The state of Texas is also one of the largest markets for secondary school textbooks in the USA.  Antievolutionists know that if they can influence Texas to cause textbook publishers to de-emphasize evolution or eliminate references to evolution entirely, they get the added bonus of changing the textbook content for the rest of the USA as well.  This is because publishers aren't going to offer a "science lite" version to Texas and a "real science" version to the rest of the country.  That would be an expensive proposition for publishers, and publishers are at basis simply looking to maximize their profits.  So the whole country gets "science lite" or even "pseudoscience" versions of textbooks because of the political machinations of antievolutionists in Texas.

For several decades, the names of Mel and Norma Gabler were the most familiar of antievolutionists involved in the selection process.  The Gablers would offer long critiques of candidate textbooks, suggesting rewording or deletion of any content having to do with evolutionary biology.  (Antievolution was not their exclusive focus, though; their criticisms covered a number of the political hobby-horses of the religious right.)

Now, the Discovery Institute has entered the fray in trying to influence the Texas textbook selection process.  A letter to the editor from DI fellow John G. West shows their intent nicely:

Institute supports accurate science, by John G. West

Quote
First, we believe students should be exposed to legitimate scientific (not religious) controversies over evolutionary theory. Peer-reviewed science journals are filled with articles raising issues about various aspects of neo-Darwinism, the prevailing theory of evolution taught in textbooks. In 2000, for example, an article in the journal Cell noted that there is a ''long-standing question of the sufficiency of evolutionary mechanisms observed at or below the species level ('microevolution') to account for the larger-scale patterns of morphological evolution ('macroevolution').'' Yet this ''long-standing question'' about neo-Darwinism isn't covered in most textbooks. Why not?

In addition, we favor correcting clear factual errors in textbook presentations of evolution.


In the first instance, the Discovery Institute has a vested interest in keeping its antievolutionist activities labelled as something besides " creationism".  The DI rather obviously is looking forward to taking a test case to the courts, and there is way too much precedent attached to "creationism" and "creation science".  But the religious motivation of the high-profile DI fellows is easy to find (see Brian Poindexter's excellent page, From the Horse's Mouth).  The DI fellows have also liberally borrowed antievolution arguments from the SciCre young-earth creationist (YEC) contingent. The DI also encourages the YEC contingent to join forces with them in their antievolution activities.  This sort of "front" strategy doesn't fool people when it is employed by organized crime, so there should be no expectation that organized antievolution will be able to hide its intent in that fashion, either.

The Discovery Institute has no interest in correcting factual errors in textbooks.  They wish to suppress certain well-known examples in evolutionary biology from textbooks and have taken a page from Orwell in their rhetoric on this topic.  The analysis of the targeted "factual errors" presented by DI fellow John C. "Jonathan" Wells, while lauded by West, has been shown to itself be rife with factual errors and misrepresentation (see Nic Tamzek's Icon of Obfuscation and Alan Gishlick's essay).

West's letter has elicited several critical responses.

First, Dr. Sean Carroll takes exception to the misuse of his words by John G. West of the Discovery Institute.

Quote
Editor:

John G. West of the Discovery Institute, in his guest column Friday, quoted an article in a leading biology journal as purported support for his view that alternatives to contemporary evolutionary science ought to be presented in biology textbooks. I am the author of the article he quoted (but did not properly cite) and I am writing to make it absolutely clear that West is gravely mistaken in taking the excerpted sentence out of its full context.


Oak H. DeBerg and Dr. Eugenie C. Scott also criticized West.

Please enter further information about the Texas textbook selection process in this thread.

Wesley



Date: 2003/08/14 14:42:46, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Yeah, I've linked the latest two in this thread.

Wesley

Date: 2003/08/15 08:51:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Proposed changes in biology textbook assailed

Quote
SAN ANTONIO -- Responding to suggestions from a group that critics say advocates the teaching of creation theory, a publisher has made changes in a biology textbook being considered for Texas schools.

Critics accused publisher Holt, Rinehart & Winston of caving in to pressure from special interests and conservatives on the state Board of Education.

The Discovery Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Seattle, argued at a Board of Education hearing in July that alternatives to commonly accepted theories of evolution should be included in the textbook to comply with a state requirement that students analyze competing ideas.

Some board members were sympathetic to the group's views.

Date: 2003/08/15 11:37:47, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Kansas science review revives evolution debate

Quote
TOPEKA - With evolution and politics hanging over the debate, the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday broke a deadlock and voted to review the science curriculum in Kansas schools.

The review, however, will not start until a year from now. It will be comprehensive, and its outcome might depend on who controls the board after the next elections.

After Tuesday's decision, conservative and moderates on the board agreed on one thing: Evolution, which slipped off the front pages of newspapers for a while, has not disappeared as an issue in Kansas.

"I think it will come back," said Steve Abrams of Arkansas City, a leader of the conservative side.

Date: 2003/08/15 14:35:44, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
TEXTBOOKS CHANGED FOR CREATIONISTS (San Antonio Current)

Quote
Textbook publisher Holt Rinehart & Winston is altering biology textbooks to meet the criteria of creationists who are attempting to weaken the study of evolution in high school biology classrooms.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency announced the changes proposed to textbook publishers in response to testimony offered in July at the State Board of Education hearing.

"One publisher has now bowed to the voice of a few religious extremists who would insist on teaching creationism in Biology classrooms," said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network. "Rather than stand up for keeping good science standards in textbooks, Holt Rinehart has compromised the education of Texas students."

Date: 2003/08/16 09:31:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Institute known for pseudoscience

Quote
What is dishonest in West's misappropriation of Carroll's words is that Carroll is not challenging evolutionary theory at all. West is hoping that few Texans will realize that Carroll's research is focused on the different evolutionary consequences of mutation (meaning any genetic change) in genes that build parts of cells from mutations in genes that control what other genes do.

West mentions his associate Jonathan Wells, and says that that Wells received a doctorate, implying that Wells is a scientist. What he didn't mention is that Wells, like West, is a professional science denier employed by the Discovery Institute.

Date: 2003/08/16 09:34:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Maxwell column had it right

Quote
Like many Americans, I'm interested in Texas' schoolbook choices.

I was amazed to read John West's guest column attacking Angelo State professor Terry Maxwell's sensible column on science textbooks. West, a political writer for a political pressure group, may not know that just about everything he said is wrong. But it is.

West's group is called the Discovery Institute. West praises a book attacking science, but fails to disclose that the author, Jonathan Wells, is a Discovery Institute operative too. Does West not know that the book has been thoroughly discredited, as Maxwell states?

Date: 2003/08/18 06:58:06, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
EDUCATION: State names 85 to panels (Pioneer Press)

Quote
Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke will ask the committee to consider an amendment that Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, tried unsuccessfully to add to the federal No Child Left Behind law. It says that when controversial topics — such as biological evolution — come up in the classroom, the curriculum should help students understand other views as well.

One of the alternatives Santorum has written about is "intelligent design," which says an organism's complexity is evidence of an other-worldly designer. The amendment passed the Senate and was included in a conference committee's report, but was struck from the final version of the law.

"We're not making grand claims that No Child Left Behind requires us to do this," said Education Department spokesman Bill Walsh. "But saying that NCLB and the Senate gives us guidance, (Yecke) is recommending that the committee go this way."

Date: 2003/08/18 07:05:12, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Remarks by Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., Commissioner of Education, July 31, 2003

Quote
This time, we are faced with some controversial issues in the area of science. Scientific theories such as biological evolution can be the basis for a lot of emotional debate, as strong feelings are held by good people on both sides of such issues.

To prevent such issues from becoming a stumbling block to the science committee, I am suggesting that some congressional language be inserted somewhere in the science document. It might be appropriate, for example, to place this language in the first part of the conceptual framework where the history and nature of science is discussed. In this way, we make it clear that decisions on the issue can be discussed and decided at the local level.

This language is part of the conference report that articulated congressional intent and accompanied the No Child Left Behind Act. It had wide bipartisan support in Congress, having passed the Senate by a vote of 91-8.

Date: 2003/08/18 07:09:01, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Academic Standards Committee Members Chosen for Science and Social Studies

Quote
(St. Paul, MN…) Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke announced today the members of the Minnesota Academic Standards Committee for Science and Social Studies. Eighty-five members were chosen from over 600 applications. The law establishing new academic standards instructed the Commissioner to use a public process to develop these standards and present them to the legislature next February.

“The quality of the applicants for the Science and Social Studies Committees was outstanding,” said Yecke. “I have no doubt the people we’ve chosen today will produce excellent academic standards for our schools.”

Date: 2003/08/18 07:13:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Minnesota has provided a list of the people selected for the Standards Committee:

Science/Soc Studies standards committee members

These are the people Yecke is urging to incorporate the Santorum language into science standards.

Wesley

Date: 2003/08/18 07:44:53, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Minnesota has also provided the timeline for the creation and adoption of new standards.  It appears that the first draft will be released for public comment on September 8th.

Science, Social Studies standards timeline

Date: 2003/08/30 05:20:58, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Evolution To Stay In N.M. Schools

A short AP report says that the NM State Board of Education unanimously approved new standards that include evolution.

The report doesn't discuss the campaign by ID advocates to incorporate the usual ID buzz phrases in the new standards.  One advocate sent around copies of Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" and a letter to schools around New Mexico.  A full page ad appeared shortly before the vote urging people to push for ID-related changes.  ID advocates publicized a Zogby poll which, it turned out, was called "bogus" by Sandia Labs administration, who disclaimed any association with the poll.

Details are available at the New Mexicans for Science and Reason page.

Wesley

Date: 2003/09/01 09:16:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
School board gives nod to creationism, abstinence-only

Quote
Also endorsed was a recommendation for teaching biology: "It shall be the policy ... when teaching Darwin's theory of evolution that it is only a theory and not a fact. Teachers shall be allowed in a neutral and objective manner to introduce all scientific theories of origin and the students may be allowed to discuss all aspects of controversy surrounding the lack of scientific evidence in support of the theory of evolution."

Board member Tom Ball, who opened the discussion on the proposed changes, said he thought the evolution recommendation should use the word "required," rather than "allowed."

Several people addressed the board including Pastor Bud Surles who said "evolution is more a product of Hollywood movies than based on real science." He also said the district should teach that "sex is safe only in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship" and that abstinence until marriage should be the message delivered by the district.

Another pastor, Mike Brush, quoted scholars he said "understand the misconception of evolution" and are more inclined to accept the "intelligent shaping of matter."

"Intelligent design is not religious-based. I would not want you to teach religion in any way, shape or form," he said.

Date: 2003/09/01 16:29:29, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Rep. Pence of Indiana:

Quote

I believe that God created the known universe, the Earth and everything in it, including man. And I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rationale explanation for the known universe. But until that day comes, and I have no fear of science, I believe that the more we study the science, the more the truth of faith will become apparent. I would just humbly ask as new theories of evolution find their ways into the newspapers and into the textbooks, let us demand that educators around America teach evolution not as fact, but as theory, and an interesting theory to boot. But let us also bring into the minds of all of our children all of the theories about the unknowable that some bright day in the future through science and perhaps through faith we will find the truth from whence we come.

(Source: [Congressional Record: July 11, 2002 (House)] [Page H4527])


For others wishing to examine what the U.S. congress has said, check out
the Congressional Record online.

Wesley

Date: 2003/09/06 12:33:13, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Robert Weitzel: Theory puts a serpent in the garden of education

Quote
The Wedge Strategy's focus and funding are not on the research necessary to cause a shift in the prevailing scientific paradigm. Rather, they are aimed at convincing an uninformed public that intelligent design creationism deserves equal consideration as a "scientific theory." This is the "wedge" that intelligent design creationists hope will split the authority of the First Amendment and allow the Christian creation story to substitute for science in our country's public schools.


The word is getting out, but rather slowly.

Date: 2003/09/10 23:15:47, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Biology textbooks spark ideological fireworks at hearing

Quote

Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said ``intelligent design'' proponents want to use the concept of an intelligent design behind man's evolution as a way of introducing religious creationism into science classes.

``Teaching creationism in science classrooms is unconstitutional,'' said Smoot, whose group opposes Christian conservative groups. ``Teaching `intelligent design,' the new creationism, is radically unscientific, and, despite the protests of `intelligent design' proponents, profoundly religious in nature.''

But William Dembski, identified as a leading proponent of ``intelligent design'' in a ``New York Times'' report, told state board members that ``Darwinian lobbyists'' are striving to maintain an illusion of scientific consensus related to evolutionary theory.

``I, and other mathematically trained scientists, regard claims for the creative power of natural selection as implausible in the extreme,'' said Dembski, an associate professor at Baylor University. ``All the textbooks under consideration grossly exaggerate the evidence of Neo-Darwinian evolution, pretending that its mechanism of natural selection acting on random genetic change is a slam-dunk. Not so.''


I don't think Bill Dembski gets to speak for all those with mathematical training.  And certainly if one is a scientist, one is other than Bill Dembski.

Date: 2003/09/12 09:37:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
State Department of Education will hold hearing here Sept. 30 (Princeton,MN)

Quote
In science, sixth-graders will learn how personal bias can affect the results of “scientific experiment.” Seventh-graders will learn about plate tectonics and evolution – how science explains the presence of fossils and similarities among living things.

The science standards include nothing about religious creationalism – that God, not random events, guided the path of development.

“You can’t teach creationalism in the classroom,” said Yecke, citing a 1987 Supreme Court decision.

Still, local school districts are free to teach the idea of intelligent design, she said.

Such a standard is not found in the proposed standards, she said. But that is not to say local school districts can’t include it in their curriculums, she said.


The anti-science nature of the ID movement comes through even in this excerpt.  Now it is part of the science standards that children be taught that science is untrustworthy.  What children should be taught is that the personal bias of individual experimenters can lead to wrong conclusions, but that over time the scientific community finds -- and fixes -- such anomalies, and that science's track record on self-correction is unparalleled by any other "way of knowing" in human culture.  It doesn't look like that's what they'll be getting in Minnesota, though.

Yecke's specific comments giving local school boards the OK to incorporate "intelligent design" into curricula are just irresponsible.  ID doesn't meet any of the criteria for inclusion in a science curriculum, and simply opens up local groups for protracted and expensive legal action.  If the Discovery Institute can't even think of what should be taught about "intelligent design", why is it even an issue for anybody else?

Date: 2003/09/12 09:42:25, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
What Should Be In Textbooks?

Quote
In Mr. Fennel's science class, LBJ high schoolers learn a lot about geology and biology.

"Do I think it's good to talk about evolution in biology classes yes. I think it's a biological process we have a lot of evidence for," LBJ High School Science Teacher Tim Fennell said.

But some say that evidence is flawed.

"Presenting this stuff as fact when it's been in science literature discredited for 20 years that won't cut it," Bruce Chapman with the Discovery Institute said, "Did you take biology? Yeah. I did too and a great deal is wrong."

So they tell members of the State Board of Education it's their right to add their opinion to Texas textbooks.




Date: 2003/11/12 08:04:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Jeff Shallit and I have a topic on replacing Dembski's notion of specification in the appendix of our long paper critiquing William Dembski's ideas . (See Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski's "Complex Specified Information".)

In the article, we note a number of problems with "specification" as given by Dembski. Our replacement, specified anti-information (SAI), does not have the drawbacks that we note for specification. SAI is grounded in algorithmic information theory and can be considered an application of the universal distribution. (See the original article by Kirchherr, Li, and Vitanyi.)

Some of our colleagues reading the drafts of our long paper back in 2002 were non-plussed: why did we attempt to "rescue" the notion of specification with a replacement? The answer is that we felt that some positive statement needed to be made rather than making an entirely negative critique. Dembski's examples resonate with readers, so we felt that a non-Dembskian approach was needed to show that the examples could be dealt with in a rigorous way, but that the further conclusions about intelligent agency that Dembski urges were unsupported.

SAI accomplishes both these goals. SAI is easy to apply to problems that can be reduced to a bit-string representation, as Dembski has done for some of his examples. SAI also warrants a far weaker implication than intelligent agency as a cause: an event with high SAI is likely caused by a simple computational process. Elsewhere in the article, we discuss the ubiquity of natural computational processes. There is no "design inference" that can be based upon SAI, just a "simple computational process inference".



Date: 2003/11/12 08:26:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I'm starting this thread for discussion of the paper that Jeff Shallit and I wrote on Dembski's ideas. Since it is now known to the public, I expect some criticisms of our criticisms will be made.

For example...

In a thread on ARN, "Rock" gripes that we imply that we have a positive theory but that we don't expound upon it. Well, we do have a positive approach to examining bit strings that is expounded upon for a couple of pages in our appendix. This is apparently not clear when one is simply "skimming" our paper. I have also started a thread here for discussion of our specified anti-information (SAI) as a replacement for Dembski's notion of specification.

"Rock" also complained that there was "nothing original" in our paper. It is certainly true that many of our criticisms had been expressed less formally and separately elsewhere in discussion on the Internet, but I'm not sure that that applies to all of the criticisms that we made. SAI is an application of the universal probability distribution, but the application itself is original with us.

In his last sentence, "Rock" asks if our ideas bear closer examination than Dembski's on these matters. Clearly, I think so. We identified a number of problems in Dembski's approach that we feel are insurmountable. Our SAI addresses each of those problems.


Please use this thread to bring attention to criticism made in other fora.

Date: 2003/11/22 00:15:12, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Responses to "Intelligent Design and that Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy"

The National Association of Scholars published an opinion piece by Paul Gross on "intelligent design". Gross pulled no punches, and showed that ID displays many of the well-known signs of "crank science". This did not endear him to our friends at the Discovery Institute, who wrote several lengthy responses and one short sneer. The PDF linked above has those responses, some letters of support for Gross, and the response by Gross to cap it off. It all comes to about 45Kbytes.

Date: 2003/12/06 11:58:44, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador T. Cordova critiqued a "misunderstanding" concerning TSPGRID and Dembski's LCI in a thread on ARN.

Quote
Originally posted by Salvador T. Cordova:

Originally posted by Lars the digital caveman:
"Hence, large amounts of CSI that weren't there before have been generated. This clearly contradicts the LCI. "

I agree with you that there are major problems with definitions in ID, and confusion is still rampant.  It would be in ID's intrest to establish uniform standards.

However, consider the following, running a program that loops from 1 to a trillion and fills an array in memory with numbers 1 to a trillion. Is more information (not CSI) generated than was in the program before the run?  When one applies alogrithmic compression, on sees the trillion bytes of information are not generated by running the program.  The information is algorithmically compressed to the program by definition.

Likewise,  the authors misunderstood in the case of TSPGRID what is going on, because instead of simple integers, they were generating CSI entities. But they forgot that the sum total of what was being generated was algorithmically compressible.  Apply the compression, one sees, no information was added within the system boundary.

If we take:

X =  TSPGRID
Y =  inputs (25, 461, 330)

as the starting point, that establishes the 'thermodynamic boundary' so to speak right?

Running the program generates the following SET:
A  =  F(25) = CSI corresponding to 25
B  =  F(461) = CSI corresponding to 461
C  =  F (330) = CSI corresponding to 330

It appears that we've generated lots of new CSI, but this is not true because the above SET of CSI entities is algorithmically compressible to the following by definition:

X =  TSPGRID
Y = input of (25, 461, 330)

thus (X,Y) is 'isomorphic' to (A,B,C)

under algorithmic compression. Thus LCI is not violated.

However, the confusion is understandable, and thus I don't appeal to LCI personally very much.  And as I said, it's hard to create real world thermodynmically closed systems to run experiments on.

"Salvador, one has to distinguish between information in general and CSI."

Agreed, ID might be better served I believe to reconsider it's definitions of information, CSI, and detectability techniques.  

One can do a lot of detection without appealing to Dembski's definition of CSI.  Some of those methods I show in my threads.

The state of ID is more exotic than it needs to be, in my opinion. ID could benefit by emphasizing simpler detection methods.  

Once the less exotic are demonstrated to be effective, then things like what Dembski is showing, with some reformulation, will be more acceptable.

I love uncle Bill Dembski, but at times his definitions kill me.

Respectfully,
Salvador


I agree that there is a misunderstanding, but disagree as to who has the misunderstanding. Let's review a bit about TSPGRID.

Quote

Our algorithm is called TSPGRID, and takes an integer n as an input. It then solves the traveling salesman problem on a 2n * 2n square grid of cities. Here the distance between any two cities is simply Euclidean distance (the ordinary distance in the plane). Since it is possible to visit all 4n^2 cities and return to to the start in a tour of cost 4n^2, an optimal traveling salesman tour corresponds to a Hamiltonian cycle in the graph where each vertex is connected to its neighbor by a grid line.

As we have seen above in Section 9, Dembski sometimes objects that problem-solving algorithms cannot generate specified complexity because they are not contingent. In his interpretation of the word this means they produce a unique solution with probability 1. Our algorithm avoids this objection under one interpretation of specified complexity, because it chooses randomly among all the possible optimal solutions, and there are many of them.

In fact, Gobel has proved that the number of different Hamiltonian cycles on the 2n * 2n grid is bounded above by c * 28^n^2 and below by c' * 2.538^n^2, where c, c' are constants [31]. We do not specify the details of how the Hamiltonian cycle is actually found, and in fact they are unimportant. A standard genetic algorithm could indeed be used provided that a sufficiently large set of possible solutions is generated, with each solution having roughly equal probability of being output. For the sake of ease of analysis, we assume our algorithm has the property that each solution is equally likely to occur.


If TSPGRID selects among the many possible solutions for each input randomly (and elsewhere in the paper we define random in AIT as incompressible), how is it that there is a compressible representation of the sort Salvador claims? As I see it, either TSPGRID is being asserted to not select among possible solutions randomly, despite what we plainly said, or compressibility is being redefined by Salvador here.

Quote
Running the program generates the following SET:

A  =  F(25) = CSI corresponding to 25

B  =  F(461) = CSI corresponding to 461

C  =  F (330) = CSI corresponding to 330


But running the TSPGRID program another three times generates another set,

A', but highly unlikely that A = A'

B', but highly unlikely that B = B'

C', but highly unlikely that C = C'

Et cetera.

Perhaps Salvador could explain how his idea of compression works, since I'm not seeing it. I think the problem here is that Salvador is treating TSPGRID as a deterministic algorithm when it isn't. The whole point of describing TSPGRID was to avoid a situation where every run of the program on the same input yielded the same result.

Date: 2003/12/07 23:33:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador,

Thanks for the quick reply.

Since I am working on a shorter version of the paper for publication, working out potential issues is quite useful. I appreciate comments that shed light on whether we're hitting the marks we set or not. I'm still thinking that TSPGRID demonstrates some problems in the argument for LCI, but it's possible that we've overlooked something. If that's the case, we'll have to revise the discussion of TSPGRID or abandon it.

I'm not convinced yet that it's time to man the lifeboats, though.

Date: 2003/12/09 02:02:41, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador,

Thanks for your clarifications.

As we note in section 5 and in the appendix, we believe that what CSI actually identifies, when it can be said to work at all, is the outcome of simple computational processes. That's why our "specified anti-information" (SAI) is a superior approach to "specification" than Dembski's methods. Given your obvious interest in algorithmic information theory, you should be able to confirm this for yourself briefly.

I'm afraid that I don't concur with your analysis of the TSPGRID algorithm. In order to get to compressibility, you've converted TSPGRID into TSPGRIDdet, a separate, deterministic algorithm that solves the same problem, and added to your "background knowledge" the particular sequence of random numbers that specify a particular output solution for TSPGRIDdet. That doesn't set aside our claim that CSI is increased by TSPGRID when one uses the "uniform probability interpretation". Essentially, your compressibility approach uses the "causal history based interpretation", which was not our claim. See section 7 for a thorough critique of the "causal history based interpretation".

Date: 2003/12/11 14:20:54, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
We cover some natural instances of computational systems in section 5 of the paper.

I think that you should have a look at this thread on SAI before getting too excited about how much of a "gift" SAI is to ID. SAI does not support the inference of action of an intelligent agent, just a simple computational process. As such, there is no distinction between naturally occurring computational processes, algorithms deployed by an intelligent agent, and the direct action of intelligent agents to be had via use of SAI. All may "generate" arbitrarily large amounts of SAI.

I think that Dembski is likely to think of SAI as more of a poison pill than a gift.

Date: 2004/01/21 07:45:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
A commonly overlooked reference

Kimura, Motoo. 1961. Natural selection as the process of accumulating genetic information in adaptive evolution. Genetical Research 2:127-140.

Quote
The purposes of the present paper are threefold. First, a method will be proposed by which the rate of accumulation of genetic information in the process of adaptive evolution may be measured. Secondly, for the first time, an approximate estimate of the actual amount of genetic information in higher animals will be derived which might have been accumulated since the beginning of the Cambrian epoch (500 million years), and thirdly, there is a discussion of problems involved in the storage and transformation of the genetic information thus acquired. There is a vast field of fundamental importance which awaits the fruitful activities of statisticians and other applied mathematicians collaborating with biologists.


I don't recall ever seeing a discussion of Kimura's paper in any antievolution argument on information.

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/15 05:53:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly [NOPE]
[...]



Didn't PBS show "Unlocking the Mystery of Life"?


Some PBS affiliates did show UML, but UML was produced independently by Illustra Media (essentially a corporate pseudonym for Coldwater Media). Nova and other PBS-produced shows have not yet taken up ID as a topic. Of course, ID was treated pretty fairly in the "Evolution" series. Except, of course, that ID advocates don't mean "fairly" when they say "fairly"; they mean "credulously".

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/16 22:50:08, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Oops. It's so hard to keep these religious media companies straight. Coldwater Media did the "Icons of Evolution" video.

IIRC.

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/16 23:30:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Situation Alert for Ohio Public Education

PDF version

Phillip Johnson's "Wedge" strategy for the "intelligent design" movement can be seen at work now in Ohio. Johnson's strategy is designed to attack evolutionary biology as the first step in making science safe for the sort of theism Johnson prefers. The bluntest expression of the "Wedge" strategy appeared in promotional material for the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. (See http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html for the text of the "Wedge Document" and Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross's new book, "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" (Oxford, 2003), for a minutely detailed critique. The Discovery Institute attempts damage control in http://www.discovery.org/csc/TopQuestions/wedgeresp.pdf) As with magicians, one needs to get past the patter and watch for the action.  It is in the actions and not the words that one can most clearly see that the dictates of the "Wedge" strategy are fully ascendant.

In 2002, the Ohio State Board of Education approved new science standards that mandated the teaching of evolution in science classes. At the urging of antievolutionists, the Ohio State Board of Education also included a statement calling for teaching how evolutionary theory was the subject of "critical analysis" by scientists.

Quote


23. Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.)

-
http://agpa.uakron.edu/k12....10.html
or http://tinyurl.com/2jqk9

This sort of language was suggested by Stephen Meyer and Jonathan Wells (both Fellows of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, since renamed as the Center for Science and Culture) in a presentation before the Ohio Board of Education on March 11, 2002.  The apparently innocuous wording was deceptive, though, because rather than teach students about actual hot topics in evolutionary biology (e.g., allopatric versus sympatric speciation, punctuated equilibria in the fossil record, the evolution of sex, theories of eusociality, etc.), "Wedge" advocates took the wording as code for their own set of discredited objections to mainstream science.  While Meyer and Wells had originally sought to push for the specific inclusion of "intelligent design" in science classes, they decided instead to ask for a "compromise." The "compromise" suggested by Meyer and Wells was to "teach the controversy." See http://www.ohioroundtable.org/library/articles/ed/boardstudy.html http://www.creationists.org/20020311OSBEwells.html and http://www.ncseweb.org/resourc....002.asp.

Although the adopted standards specifically stated that "intelligent design" was not to be part of the curricula (see quoted text above), the "Wedge" advocates got what they wanted with the above language: a hole large enough to attempt to drive a big antievolutionary semi straight into science classrooms. See: http://www.sciohio.org/sbe1015.htm.

Over the past several months, the ID advocates on the Ohio Board of Education have loaded their truck. Model curricula comprised of lesson plans had to be generated to fulfill all the indicators of the science standards.  These new lesson plans were kept out of the public's reach, preventing scientists from reviewing these materials until shortly before official consideration for adoption.  (The embargo on access apparently did not extend to "Wedge" advocates; see http://www.sciohio.org/orcweb.htm.)

In particular, a lesson plan based upon indicator 23 of the science standards for Grade 10 (the "critical analysis" guideline quoted above) presented several items from Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution", included "Icons" in its bibliography, included a non-existent reference in its bibliography whose citation only existed on creationist web sites, and directed students to antievolutionary web sites (including http://www.origins.org and http://www.arn.org). This attempt to insert "trash science" (as it was called by cognitive scientist Richard Hoppe in a Board of Education meeting on January 13) or "junk science" (as it was called by Sam Fulwood in a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer on February 8) into science classrooms should be viewed as the expected outcome of the "compromise" language inserted into the standards.  This was no compromise, but rather the "Wedge" Trojan Horse in action.  Various cosmetic changes have been made to the lesson plan, but the blatantly deceptive content and many of the antievolution web resources remain. See http://www.cleveland.com/news....191.xml or http://tinyurl.com/22gvp for Fulwood's column.  See http://ecology.cwru.edu/ohioscience/L10-H23_Critical_Analysis.pdf for the lesson plan and http://ecology.cwru.edu/ohioscience/lesson_plan_critique.htm for a critique of it.

A red herring being used by "Wedge" advocates is to say that "intelligent design" is not present in the lesson plan being critiqued, therefore there is no problem. For example:

Quote


"I think it's going to be great for science. This lesson, in my opinion, has been misunderstood. I am very familiar with intelligent design and it just is not in there," said Robert Lattimer, an intelligent design proponent and a scientist who was on the standards writing team from two years ago.

-
http://www.daytondailynews.com/localne....ce.html

Although the phrase "intelligent design" may indeed be absent from the lesson plan, the content is easily recognizable, despite Lattimer's disavowal.  The content derives most notably from Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution", which was hailed as a "Wedge Book" of the year 2000, and even now heads the poster-style ad on "ID Books" at http://www.discovery.org/csc/favoriteItems/IDBookAd.jpg.  "Intelligent design," having failed to develop any positive scientific research program of its own, consists entirely of often-rebutted negative argumentation against evolutionary biology, fully deserving the moniker of "trash science."  The material in the "critical analysis" lesson plan demonstrably is the content of "intelligent design" advocacy. Its role in the "Wedge" is clear (see http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html, especially "Phase III: Cultural Confrontation and Renewal").

Scientists in Ohio and across the nation took notice.  For an account of the recommendations of the Ohio Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, see http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/7965530.htm. More detail can be seen in the Cleveland Plain Dealer article:

Quote


The nation's most prestigious science organization added its voice Monday to criticism of model science lesson plans that the state school board is expected to vote on today.

Scientists are "rightfully concerned about attempts to introduce tenets of intelligent design into your state's science curriculum and instruction," Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, said in a letter Monday to Jennifer Sheets, president of the Ohio Board of Education.

-
http://www.cleveland.com/news....720.xml
or http://tinyurl.com/2kh7u

The letter from NAS can be seen at http://ecology.cwru.edu/ohioscience/NAS_Letter.html or http://www.antievolution.org/features/nas_ohio_20040209.pdf

Despite the strong recommendations from Ohio state and national scientific organizations to reject this and other "Wedge" lesson plans, the Ohio Board of Education voted an "intent to adopt" the lesson plans, including the one on "critical analysis," at its February 13 meeting. It was a date that proved unlucky for good science education.

An editorial appeared in the Dayton Daily News offering timely advice:

Quote


Citizens who are not in a position to read all the documentation -- or interpret all the buzz words that only the fully initiated understand -- might wonder where to turn.

Best to turn to the scientists. And not just individual scientists, but the organizations that are representative of scientists and that have people who have responsibility for looking into these matters fully.

- http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion....ol.html

The editorial calls for Ohio Governor Bob Taft to weigh in on this issue. So far, the governor has chosen to let the Board of Education move the discussion along -- and take the political heat.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has also called upon Governor Taft to take responsibility and an active role in the process:

Quote


JEERS . . .

to Gov. Bob Taft for taking a walk on the debate over the state's proposed science education standards. He must figure enough people are arguing that they'll eventually drift to a solution. That's not leadership.

- http://www.cleveland.com/search....l?oxedi

Jeffrey McKee had an instructive opinion letter which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on February 20:

Quote


Can scientists comprehend a simple lesson plan? According to State Board of Education member Deborah Owens-Fink, "Some of these scientists are so paranoid, they don't understand it."

The truth is that scientists understand it all too well: The proposed lesson plan on evolution is a thinly disguised attempt to promote creationism in Ohio's science classrooms. But the lesson is one of politics, not science. One need not be a scientist to connect the dots, as board members should know.

Did she really think that we would not notice the highly misleading statements on the fossil record of evolution, fraudulent claims about today's evolution of bacteria and direct references to creationist literature?

The proposed lesson plan must be replaced by an honest and serious portrayal of contemporary biology.

Owens-Fink's cavalier attitude is characteristic of certain board members who would rather play political games than ensure a quality science education for Ohio's young scholars. Along with board member Michael Cochran, the other main perpetrator of this fraud, Owens-Fink is pushing a desperation agenda instead of fostering understanding.

The "standards committee" of the State Board of Education needs a new chairperson with higher standards. Owens-Fink and Cochran should resign.

JEFFREY K. McKEE
Professor
Ohio State University

- http://www.dispatch.com/editori....05.html

The next meeting of the Board of Education and final vote on the lesson plans is scheduled for March 8-9, which does not leave much time for feedback.  The leadership in Ohio needs to hear from you. When contacting them, brevity and courtesy are virtues to keep in mind. Also, if you have scientific training or credentials, please do mention those. Please also consider putting a copy of your comments in a public forum, where they may be referred to as a resource and inform the commentary of others. A thread suitable for this purpose is located at http://tinyurl.com/3a2sy

Those who wish to make their views known to Governor Taft -- especially if you live in Ohio or know someone there -- can contact him at the following address:

Governor Bob Taft
30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Phone 614-466-3555 or 614-644-HELP

http://governor.ohio.gov/contactinfopage.asp


Members of the State Board of Education of Ohio

Members are grouped by how they voted on the intent to adopt the model curriculum. A "for" vote does not necessarily mean that the member is sympathetic to the "Wedge" advocates; several members are likely to have voted "for" simply to move the process forward, knowing that another vote would be taken in March.


Voted AGAINST intent to adopt on February 13:

Robin C. Hovis, Millersburg (330) 674-5000
Robin.Hovis@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-5/default.asp

Cy B. Richardson, Jr., Bethel (513) 734-6700
Cyrus.Richards@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-10/

G. R. (Sam) Schloemer, Cincinnati (513) 821-4145
Sam.Schloemer@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-4/

Jennifer H. Stewart, Zanesville (740) 452-4558
Jennifer.Stewart@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-9/


ABSENT during vote on February 13:

Martha W. Wise, Avon (440) 934-4935
Martha.Wise@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-2/

Virginia E. Jacobs, Lima (419) 999-4219
Virginia.Jacobs@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-1/


Voted FOR intent to adopt on February 13:

Jennifer L. Sheets, Pomeroy, President (740) 992-2151
jennifer.Sheets@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/sheets/default.asp

Richard E. Baker, Hollansburg, Vice President (937) 997-2101
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/baker/

Virgil E. Brown, Jr., Shaker Heights (216) 851-3304
virgil.Brown@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-11/

Michael Cochran, Blacklick (614) 863-0045
ota@ohiotownships.org
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-6/

Jim Craig, Canton (330) 492-5533
Jim.Craig@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-8/

John W. Griffin, West Carrollton (937) 866-1210
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-3/default.asp

Stephen M. Millett, Columbus (614) 424-5335
stephen.millett@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/millet/default.asp

Deborah Owens Fink, Richfield (330) 972-8079
deb@uakron.edu
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/district-7/

Emerson J. Ross, Jr., Toledo (419) 537-1562
ejross@buckeye-express.com
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/ross/

Jo Ann Thatcher, McDermott (740) 858-3300
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/thatcher/

James L. Turner, Cincinnati (513) 287-3232
jturner@cinergy.com
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/turner/

Sue Westendorf, Bowling Green (419) 352-2908
Sue.Westendorf@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/westendorf/

Carl Wick, Centerville (937) 433-1352
Carl.Wick@ode.state.oh.us
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/members/wicks/default.asp

Ex Officio Members

Senator Robert Gardner, Madison (614) 644-7718
Representative Arlene Setzer, Vandalia (614) 644-8051

For further information regarding upcoming Board meetings or general information about the State Board of Education, contact

Ohio Department of Education
Board Relations
25 South Front Street, 7th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-4183

Phone: (614) 466-4838 Fax: (614) 466-0599
Department Information Line: 1-877-644-6338
Catherine Clark-Eich, Executive Director
Clark-Eich@ode.state.oh.us
Clayton D. Cormany, Editor

The Ohio State Board of Education page is at
http://www.ode.state.oh.us/board/default.asp


Please copy whatever you send to Ohio representatives to the thread here.

This will make it easy for those in Ohio to reference your opinions.


Wesley



Date: 2004/02/17 08:22:16, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
"Accurate representation"

This one's a treat: William Dembski complaining that someone else fails to use "accurate representation" and compounding that with a claim that he himself delivers "accurate representation".

Dembski's reply to WSJ article `flaws in intelligent design'

Quote

Sharon Begley's article regarding "flaws in intelligent design" misrepresents the current state of the debate.

[...]

If evolutionists really had an answer to the origin of the bacterial flagellum in purely materialistic terms (i.e., invoking only material mechanisms like natural selection and random variation), they would merely need to state the answer and intelligent design would be dead in the water. The very fact that these issues are being discussed in the Wall Street Journal indicates that the debate is far from over. For an accurate representation of the current debate about microsyringes, bacterial flagella, and irreducibly complex systems generally, see my article "Irreducible Complexity Revisited" at URL=http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.01.Irred_Compl_Revisited.pdf.]http://www.designinference.com/documen....ed.pdf.[/URL]


We can be sure that "accurate representation" was not at the top of Dembski's agenda when he described Richard Dawkins's "weasel" program as having three steps, when two of the steps provided by Dembski do not appear anywhere in Dawkins's writings. (Further, the second time Dembski did this was in "No Free Lunch", and I had already written him in email and via an email list some months before NFL was published to inform him of the problem.)

Similarly, "accurate representation" was not Dembski's concern when he sought to make a sweeping claim that evolutionary computation was inclusive of artificial neural systems.

Quote


By an evolutionary algorithm I mean any well-defined mathematical procedure that generates contingency via some chance process and then sifts it via some law-like process. The Darwinian mechanism, simulated annealing, neural nets, and genetic algorithms all fall within this broad definition of evolutionary algorithms.



Source -- WA Dembski, "CAN EVOLUTIONARY ALGORITHMS GENERATE SPECIFIED COMPLEXITY?", presentation at the "Nature of Nature" conference, Baylor University, April, 2000.]

I pointed out that this classification was quite erroneous at Classification of Artificial Neural Systems: Is Stochasticity a Reliable Diagnostic Character?

NFL was published one and a half years after my critique was put on the web. That would give anyone time to fix things, right? Wrong.

Previously, Dembski had stated that "neural nets" were instances of evolutionary algorithms; in NFL, Dembski says that "training neural nets" by evolutionary computation are instances of evolutionary algorithms. The previous claim was simply false and the new claim is based upon the fact that some people do apply evolutionary computation to the problem of training neural nets. It reduces to the claim that instances of evolutionary computation are evolutionary computation; mentioning "neural nets" at all in that context seems unlikely to do anything but lead readers to the erroneous conclusion that the original claim has not been abandoned. Such basic errors as these reduce the credibility of his claims to achieve "accurate representation".

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/17 18:46:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dembski's Response to WSJ Article on "intelligent design"

Quote
Design theorists have known all along about microsyringes and other supposed evolutionary precursors to irreducibly complex systems like the bacterial flagellum.


This raises some questions. The first is whether the statement is true. I don't recall any ID theorist, and certainly not Dembski, discussing T3SS's when the topic of flagella arose prior to Larry Moran's encounter with Dembski in Toronto on March 7, 2002. If Moran's mini-lecture filled in this gap in the knowledge of "ID theorists" then much would be explained. Even Dembski appears to acknowledge the lack of discussion of T3SS's in ID argumentation in STILL SPINNING JUST FINE: A RESPONSE TO KEN MILLER, where he says this:

Quote
If the biological community had even an inkling of how such systems arose by naturalistic mechanisms, Miller would not -- a full six years after the publication of Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe -- be lamely gesturing at the type three secretory system as a possible evolutionary precursor to the flagellum. It would suffice simply to provide a detailed explanation of how a system like the bacterial flagellum arose by Darwinian means. Miller's paper, despite its intimidating title ("The Flagellum Unspun") does nothing to answer that question.


A Google search for "microsyringe" coupled with either "intelligent design" or "irreducible complexity" turns up nothing by any "ID theorist".

If the statement that "ID theorists" have known all along about "microsyringes" and so forth is true, then the question becomes, "Why didn't they discuss those issues when discussing bacterial flagella?" For folks who love to quote Darwin to their purpose, they seem loath to demonstrate that they embrace the point by example:

Quote
Darwin himself would have agreed: "A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question."


Source: NO FREE LUNCH

If "ID theorists" did know all along about "microsyringes". etc., then the obvious implication is that they weren't interested in achieving a "fair result" when they chose not to reveal this knowledge to their readers.

My thanks to Ian Musgrave for noticing this bit of rhetoric on Dembski's part.

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/17 23:39:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
OK, I've found a mention of T3SS's by an "ID theorist" that predates the Moran-Dembski encounter. Scott Minnich mentioned them in his presentation at the ID conference at Yale in 2001. That puts the first public notice by an "ID theorist" of other structures relevant to discussion of flagella back four months before the point I had marked.

Wesley

Date: 2004/02/27 22:13:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

William Dembski's new book is now available at bookstores (the link above will take you to the page at Barnes and Noble).

Over on the ARN forum, Dembski called on "thoughtful critics" to let him know if he had overlooked any topics of criticism.

The index of his book doesn't help much with this task. While Richard Wein's one positive comment about Dembski's "No Free Lunch" was that it had an excellent index, the same cannot be said of "The Design Revolution". Perhaps I haven't closely scrutinized every entry, but every one I have scrutinized is a person's name. I haven't found even one entry that relates to a concept (e.g., "argument from ignorance", "specification", "flagellum").

Perhaps Dembski addresses certain criticisms without reference to the critic who raised the criticism. There are certainly critics of Dembski's arguments who are not listed in the index. It is difficult to compile a complete list, since it requires someone who knows that a certain critic has commented on Dembski's arguments and a bit of effort to confirm that the person is not listed in the index (Why, for example, is there an entry for "Thomas Aquinas" in the T's, and not "Aquinas, Thomas" in the A's? This necessitates checking a couple of different parts of the index.). Here are some of the critics who were passed over completely by Dembski:

Chiprout, Eli
Edis, Taner
Eells, Ellery
Fitelson, Branden
Kitcher, Philip
Matzke, Nick
Perakh, Mark
Pigliucci, Massimo
Ratzsch, Del
Rosenhouse, Jason
Shallit, Jeff
Shanks, Niall
Stephenson, Christopher
Tellgren, Erik
Wein, Richard
Young, Matt

It could be argued that a few of these critics made their criticisms more recently than could be expected to appear in the manuscript for this book. For others, though, that excuse obviously does not hold. Why is there no mention of Eli Chiprout's criticisms of "The Design Inference", for example? (For that matter, why is there no mention of the critiques I made in my review of "The Design Inference"?)

Other critics get an entry in the index, but very short shrift in the text. The list as I have it now is:

Schneider, Tom
Wolpert, David

I'll likely be expanding this list as I become more familiar with the text. In the cases above, Schneider is only mentioned as an "offender" in claiming that evolutionary computation yields specified complexity, and Wolpert is only mentioned as one of the mathematicians who proved "No Free Lunch" theorems rather than in regard to his very sharp criticism of Dembski's deployment of NFL concepts.

I may be adding my name to the list. Despite a fairly voluminous amount of material I've written in criticism of Dembski's arguments, Dembski has chosen to address only a part of one article that I co-authored with John Wilkins.



Date: 2004/02/29 20:44:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
No, Lenski does not appear in the index. Tote up another one...

Date: 2004/03/13 15:19:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Open Letter to William Dembski (emailed 2004/03/13)

I'm aware of the challenge you've floated on ARN to identify criticisms that were not addressed in "The Design Revolution".

http://www.arn.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-13-t-001197.html

As a thoughtful critic, I'm working on this carefully. I don't expect to be able to give you a list immediately. You shouldn't expect to receive it immediately. After all, you are essentially calling on critics to establish a negative, which even if not impossible in principle, certainly requires a complete review of the available evidence to assure non-presence. This is tedious and time-consuming work. Complaining that a response isn't forthcoming within a couple of weeks seems a bit unfair, especially in light of how long some critics have waited for answers to previous inquiries.

As I've indicated already on the AE board, I do find the absence of various critics in the index troubling. The response that you gave that you are concentrating on criticisms rather than critics rings somewhat hollow, given that you've chosen to fill the index with names of critics (and other people) to the exclusion of listing concepts.

Listing people in the acknowledgements but not noting their work in discussion of the concepts they have raised is also troubling. For one thing, it misleads the reader. If you bring up a criticism that has been broached by many critics, but only cite a small fraction of critics who have raised the issue, it would tend to make the reader believe that the concept being discussed is somehow less of an issue, being the concern of some small number of critics. This is especially the case for those instances where you have raised a concept and reduced the number of critics cited on that concept to *zero*. This is the case for your string change such that where you previously said "falsifiability" you now say "refutability", but do not acknowledge the critics who pointed out that a problem existed in your use of "falsifiability" (Chapter 39). That list would include me, and it's one of the few places that I can see that an argument from a critic has been found convincing by you.

I'm sure that another reason to exclude certain criticisms from the list would be the recency of the critique. This would appear to be the case for the various criticisms incorporated within the essay available at http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/papers/eandsdembski.pdf (Elsberry and Shallit 2003).  There are several issues that we raised there which I have not yet found covered, either by reference or by concept, within "The Design Revolution". Whether this is simply because I haven't looked hard enough yet or because they really aren't there I cannot say... at the moment.

Of course, I'm not going to stop with just the part about finding places where whole criticisms have been overlooked.  I'll be delving into the reasons why we don't "see eye to eye" on various other criticisms. I do appreciate your recent openness, as your courtesy in permitting me access to the ISCID bibliography indicates. But where we differ on the issues is precisely where we should be concentrating on making arguments that are convincing, rather than leaving issues in contention lie.

Wesley

Date: 2004/03/19 15:13:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Brian Leiter reviews a book review:

Harvard Law Review Embarrasses Itself

This received some attention in the blogosphere:

Remind me...

The discussion prompted me to post the following:

Greg berates Leiter for not taking account of William Dembski's contributions and a few citations. Leiter's comments, though, exclude Dembski, since Leiter was discussing scientists, and Dembski is not in that class of people.

Dembski's ideas have been tried and found wanting. Greg is invited to peruse http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/papers/eandsdembski.pdf for a long examination of the arguments made by Dembski.

The citations Greg lists likewise show no glimmer of a positive scientific program for "intelligent design". At most, they do something toward criticism of current evolutionary biology. The paper which Greg says cites Behe and Dembski favorably simply includes them in lists of citations documenting that opinions differ.

Greg could try to argue that I'm "uninformed" or "unread" on the topic of "intelligent design". Greg would be wrong, but he could try.

"Intelligent design" is subset creationism. It's the same old hoary chestnuts long used past their sell-by dates by young-earth creationists, stripped of explicit references to God and the bible. (Leiter's remark about lawyers and PR agents was right on the mark, IMO.) Behe's "irreducible complexity" is the "what good is half a wing?" argument updated to "what good is half a flagellum?" Dembski's "specified complexity" is the "evolution is too improbable" argument with extra mathematical notation and propositional logic. Both are strictly negative arguments against the sufficiency of evolutionary theory to account for all the phenomena of life's history and diversity. Saying that someone else is wrong doesn't mean that one thereby has a theory.

Date: 2004/04/26 06:27:54, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
What does it mean to finesse a criticism? The sort of scenario I am referring to is when William Dembski alters his argument but fails to note the criticism that prompted the change entirely, as if it never existed.  The particularly insidious thing about finessing criticism is that it takes a lot of background knowledge concerning Dembski's prior arguments, present arguments, and criticism of those arguments to even detect that it has happened. The casual reader of Dembski's works will have no clue that he or she has been deprived of information concerning the argument in question.

This thread is for collecting instances of places where Dembski has engaged in finessing criticisms. Test your knowledge of what Dembski and his critics have said, and contribute entries here. I'm especially interested in examples from Dembski's latest book, "The Design Revolution". I'll lead off with one of mine shortly for an example.

Date: 2004/04/26 07:18:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On June 17th, 2001, I presented a talk critiquing various aspects of William Dembski's arguments. One of the issues I raised there was the erroneous usage Dembski made of the concept of "falsifiability" as promulgated by Sir Karl Popper (see slides 23-25 of my talk).

One can readily note that chapter 39 of Dembski's "The Design Revolution" is pretty much a mildly worked-over version of his earlier essay, Is Intelligent Design Testable?. The earlier essay shows Dembski's misapprehension of "falsifiability" that I critiqued at Haverford.

Chapter 39 of TDR, though, replaces "falsifiability" with "refutability" in the section that previously discussed "falsifiability". There is no mention of my criticism present here, nor that of any other critic who brought up the same point. To the reader of TDR, Dembski's change in argumentation is completely invisible.

Date: 2004/05/16 07:05:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This is based upon an interview with Roughgarden. I'm working on getting a review copy of the book. While not an ID book (yet), the general Darwin-bashing tone argues for it getting some attention here.

Let me start this off with a quote from Charles Darwin:

Quote

I have been struck with the likeness of many of the half-favourable criticisms on sexual selection, with those which appeared at first on natural selection; such as, that it would explain some few details, but certainly was not applicable to the extent to which I have employed it.  My conviction of the power of sexual selection remains unshaken; but it is probable, or almost certain, that several of my conclusions will hereafter be found erroneous; this can hardly fail to be the case in the first treatment of a subject.  When naturalists have become familiar with the idea of sexual selection, it will, as I believe, be much more largely accepted; and it has already been fully and favourably received by several capable judges.

(Descent of Man, preface)


And now let's look at this news story that has as its focus a "challenge" to sexual selection.

Lunch with the FT: Rainbow warrior

Quote

"If you have a theory that says something is wrong with so many people, then the theory is suspect," says Joan Roughgarden, looking up from her Caribbean chicken salad. "It is counter-intuitive that nature should have done such a bad job - or, if you prefer, that God should have made so many mistakes."

The theory in question is Charles Darwin's theory of sexual selection; the "mistakes" are homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals - anyone who does not fit into the neat categories of heterosexual male and female.

By challenging the great 19th-century naturalist, Roughgarden, a professor of biological sciences and geophysics at Stanford University, is making waves in academia and beyond. The implications, not only for science but also for society, could be profound. After all, you don't need to be versed in the Origin of Species to share Darwin's twin assumptions that, broadly, the purpose of sex is reproduction and that females select mates on the basis of genetic characteristics or traits.


Being versed in Darwin studies would mean that one would know that instead of Origin of Species one should be looking at Descent of Man for Darwin's full explication of his theory of sexual selection. And when one looks there, does one find that sexual selection is founded strictly upon the two "assumptions" identified above? No, one does not.

The first assumption, that the sole purpose of sex is reproduction,  is simply absent from Darwin's work, so far as I can determine. Someone may have advanced that notion, but until I am presented with the particular passage from Darwin that confirms it I will remain unconvinced of the veracity of the claim that it is Darwin who advanced it. To this end, I have examined etexts of both Origin of Species and Descent of Man and have satisfied myself that such a passage is not to be found within these works.

Let's look at how Darwin framed sexual selection.

Quote

We are, however, here concerned only with sexual selection.  This depends on the advantage which certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species solely in respect of reproduction.  When, as in the cases above mentioned, the two sexes differ in structure in relation to different habits of life, they have no doubt been modified through natural selection, and by inheritance limited to one and the same sex.

(Descent of Man)


There is no dependence given here by Darwin on sex itself having the purpose of reproduction, as represented by Roughgarden. Instead, Darwin presents sexual selection as a function of differential reproductive success -- which says nothing about what the "purpose" of sex itself is.

What of the second assumption identified by Roughgarden, that of female choice? That certainly is part of Darwin's theory of sexual selection. The problem lies not in what Roughgarden provides here, but in what she omits. Sexual selection as explicated by Darwin also concerned how the traits found in the males affected male-male interactions.

Quote

When the two sexes follow exactly the same habits of life, and the male has the sensory or locomotive organs more highly developed than those of the female, it may be that the perfection of these is indispensable to the male for finding the female; but in the vast majority of cases, they serve only to give one male an advantage over another, for with sufficient time, the less well-endowed males would succeed in pairing with the females; and judging from the structure of the female, they would be in all other respects equally well adapted for their ordinary habits of life.  Since in such cases the males have acquired their present structure, not from being better fitted to survive in the struggle for existence, but from having gained an advantage over other males, and from having transmitted this advantage to their male offspring alone, sexual selection must here have come into action.  It was the importance of this distinction which led me to designate this form of selection as Sexual Selection.

(Descent of Man)


Not only does Darwin recognize male-male interactions here, but he emphasizes the importance of these in his development of the theory of sexual selection. That seems a rather glaring oversight on Roughgarden's part.

Consider this from the same interview with Roughgarden:

Quote

Her alternative paradigm, presented in Evolution's Rainbow, starts with evidence that the natural world is more sexually diverse than usually appreciated. For example, about a third of the species of tropical fish swimming over coral reefs change sex at some point during their lifetime. The conclusion, she says, is that our tendency to divide creatures into neat piles labelled "male" and "female" is mistaken.


It's funny how Roughgarden positions herself as breaking new ground in discussing diversity of sexual habits. It becomes especially funny when one peruses both Origin of Species and Descent of Man and finds the many discussions of hermaphroditism, gender change, and parthenogenesis contained therein.

Further on in the article on Roughgarden, we find this:

Quote

Roughgarden isn't suggesting an overhaul of Darwin's theory of sexual selection - she is proposing demolition and redevelopment. Her explanation is that Darwin was wrong to regard sex as solely a matter of reproduction. It also has a social role. Thus homosexual behaviour, she says, is a way of building same-sex relationships and strengthening the position of an individual within a group. Far from being an anomaly, she says it is widespread and useful.


It would appear that strawman construction and demolition is not only useful for career-building, but also seems to be lucrative, if book royalties amount to anything. Compare the grandstanding that comes through this text to Darwin's own assessment of sexual selection quoted up at the top of this post. The comparison is not favorable to Roughgarden.

Roughgarden's thesis of the social utility of homosexuality should properly be considered as complementary to Darwin's theory of sexual selection rather than as a supplanting alternative theory. For while Darwin did not treat characters like homosexuality directly, there is nothing within what Darwin actually wrote on the topic that would exclude  social behaviors of this sort from the general framework of sexual selection. But that, of course, would not give Roughgarden the iconoclast status that she apparently seeks.

Date: 2004/05/17 20:11:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Casey Luskin Invokes Tolkien

Quote

An ominous force, lurking in the courts of kings, the halls of learning, and even the towers of wizards, threatens to dominate a society. Those who opposed the force have been systematically excluded from power. Some make peace with the force, advancing their personal interests, but are foolishly deceived into believing the force will not consume them and their descendants. Others refuse to acknowledge the force and stay secluded in their shires, pretending there is no impending threat to their way of life.

Yet one small alliance, composed of brave souls with differing backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems realize the weakness of the force and have organized a fellowship to stop it. No, I’m not talking about The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien - I’m talking about the intelligent design (ID) movement, and the force of materialistic philosophy.


Of course, Luskin invokes Tolkien badly:

Quote

A second significant tribute came from Biola professor of philosophy John Mark Reynolds, who compared Johnson to Gandalph from The Lord of the Rings.


Tolkien fans figuratively eviscerate people over misspellings like "Gandalph".



Date: 2004/05/17 21:03:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Johnson Invokes Satan

Quote

Reflecting upon the proceedings, Phillip Johnson gave his own analogy for the debate over evolution and ID. Using the Gospel accounts of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Johnson said Satan has tempted modern universities by offering "all the scientific institutions and research funding you need" as long as they will ask only materialistic questions and find only materialistic answers. Johnson noted that Jesus might have us reply, "Man shall not live by research funding alone but by following the evidence wherever it leads." Based on the evidence presented at this conference, the evidence points towards design.


One wonders how Satan tempted the community of 19th century scientists who rejected non-natural explanations in science. They were, after all, predominantly theists, far fewer of whom were affiliated with institutions, and many of whom were independently wealthy.

Date: 2004/05/25 09:10:53, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for discussion of the paper by John Wilkins and I, "The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance" (Biology and Philosophy 16(5) (November, 2001):711-724).

The abstract:

Quote

Intelligent design theorist William Dembski has proposed an "explanatory filter" for distinguishing between events due to chance, lawful regularity or design. We show that if Dembski's filter were adopted as a scientific heuristic, some classical developments in science would not be rational, and that Dembski's assertion that the filter reliably identifies rarefied design requires ignoring the state of background knowledge. If background information changes even slightly, the filter's conclusion will vary wildly. Dembski fails to overcome Hume's objections to arguments from design.




Date: 2004/05/25 10:12:53, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Responding to Jerry Don Bauer

From a comment by Jerry Don Bauer at http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000191.html

Quote

This flame forum [The Panda's Thumb] is not designed to foment thought and reason. Therefore, I have posted a refutation of the paper you authored which keeps being shot my way in Bill Dembski's forum which is heavily moderated toward understanding rather than discord. I refute your paper there and it stands as refuted unless you address that refutation.

I hope you will take this discourse forward for the education of the public. The address to your paper is here:

http://www.iscid.org/ubbcgi....#000000

Thanks, I can assure you that those of us who paticipate in Bill's forum know how to debate and will treat you with the greatest of respect,


First, a couple of links.

The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance                    

This is the paper that Jerry claims to be responding to.


Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski's Complex Specified Information


This is the paper that Jerry was originally pointed to. Since Jerry often complains about a lack of math in what others put forward, one might have expected Jerry to seize the opportunity to discuss a paper that actually did address mathematics. This expectation turned out to be false.

Now, on to consideration of Jerry's ISCID posting.

The link which promises a "refutation" delivers no such thing. A refutation, to be a refutation, has to have two essential properties:

1. It must address the arguments presented in the original work.

2. It must provide valid counter-arguments to the arguments from (1).

Jerry's text does not give a refutation.

On Paley and Dembski: While Dembski differentiates his arguments from those given by Paley, Dembski nowhere that I know of states that his "explanatory filter/design inference" (EF/DI) is an "antithesis" of Paley's argument. It is perfectly reasonable to note that the EF/DI is a "reworked" variant of Paley; the differences being noted by Dembski show how it was reworked.

The context of what Jerry criticized:  

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

Dembski has proposed an "explanatory filter" (EF) which,he claims, enables us to reliably distinguish events that are due to regularities, those that are due to chance, and those that are due to design. Such a filter is needed, he believes, to determine the reason for cases like Spade's safe, the discrimination of signals by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence project (SETI) that are due to intelligent senders from those that are caused by ordinary phenomena like quasars, and most critically, whether all or some aspects of the biological world are due to accident or design. In other words, Dembski's filter is a reworking of Paley's design inference (DI) in the forensic manner of identifying the "guilty parties".

We will argue that Dembski's filter fails to achieve what it is claimed to do, and that were it to be adopted as a scientific heuristic, it would inhibit the course of science from even addressing phenomena that are not currently explicable. Further, the filter is a counsel of epistemic despair, grounded not on the inherent intractability of some classes of phenomena, but on the transient lacunae in current knowledge. Finally, we will argue that design is not the "default" explanation when all other  explanations have been exhausted, but is another form of causal regularity that may be adduced to explain the probability of an effect being high, and which depends on a set of background theories and knowledge claims about designers.



On Dembski's "universal probability bound": Dembski's discussion in The Design Inference of a "universal probability bound" followed from his discussion of "local small probability bounds".  Events of probabilities greater than 1e-150 can trigger a "design inference" in Dembski's framework when a local small probability bound is used.            

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

HP events are explained as causal regularities. If it is very likely that an event would turn out as it did, then it is explained as a regularity. IP events are events which occur frequently enough to fall within some deviation of a normal distribution, and which are sufficiently explained by being between those extremes. The rolling of a "snake eyes" in a dice game is an IP event, as is the once-in-a-million lottery win. SP events come in two flavours: specified and unspecified. Unspecified events of small probability do not call for explication. An array of stones thrown will have some pattern, but there is no need to explain exactly that pattern, unless the specifiable likelihood of a pattern is so small that its attainment calls for some account. If an array of stones spells out a pattern that welcomes travellers to Wales by British Rail, then that requires explanation; to wit, that the stones were placed there by an employee of British Rail, by design. The minuscule probability that a contextually significant message in English would occur by chance is ruled out by the specified complexity of that sentence. This Dembski calls the Law of Small Probabilities - specified events of small probability do not occur by chance.3

Spade, though not given to deep reflection, nevertheless studied statistics at the Institute of Forensic Studies, and so he wishes to be thorough. He traverses the filter step-by-step.

E: the safe door is open.            

HP? No, the door regularly remains locked without intervention, and "Fingers" did not know the combination.

IP? No, there is no significant chance that random spinning of the dial would happen on the combination. Even had "Fingers" chanced to spin the dial the right directions - an IP event - the chance is one in ten billion (1e-10) that he would have happened on the combination. The chance is effectively zero, using the Law of Small Probabilities.

SP? Yes, the event has a very small probability.

sp/SP? Yes, the prior probabilities are exactly specified in addition to being very small.

Conclusion: "Fingers" opened the safe by design, not by accident.

"Fingers" is duly charged and arraigned for burglary. He engages the renowned deep thinking lawyer, Abby Macleal, and she defends him with skill. Before we get to the courtroom scene, however, let us go back in time, over a century, to the musings of a young naturalist.



On knowledgeable users of the EF/DI: The point of our arguments concerns the level of knowledge of those attempting to use the EF/DI. "Charles" in our analogy does not have knowledge of natural selection when confronted with the facts of biogeography, and thus cannot eliminate tortoise biogeography as a regularity on that account. What is considered "explainable by natural law" by the user of the EF/DI depends critically upon the level of knowledge of the user. Jerry passes over the difference in level of knowledge that exists between the young "Charles" of our analogy and the level of knowledge of the elder Charles Darwin, author of Origin of Species. Yet this difference in level of knowledge is quite the point.

Nor do we claim that "the very confused young Charles believes he detects design", as Jerry asserts. Our point is that despite the hypothetical aid of the EF, "young Charles" irrationally (according to the EF, anyway) concludes that some as-yet-unknown regularity underlies the facts of biogeographical distribution of tortoises, and proceeds to investigate what this regularity might be. That's how "young Charles" comes to be the elder Charles Darwin that we know historically. Whereas persons who applied the EF and did believe that they detected design would not pursue such investigations, and progress on that front would stop, at least as far as credulous users of the EF were concerned.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

"Fingers" is duly charged and arraigned for burglary. He engages the renowned deep thinking lawyer,Abby Macleal, and she defends him with skill. Before we get to the courtroom scene, however, let us go back in time, over a century, to the musings of a young naturalist.

This naturalist - call him Charles - is on a voyage of discovery. He has read his Paley; indeed, he might almost have written out Paley's Evidences with perfect correctness by memory. Although he has not heard of Dembski's filter, he knows the logic: whatever cannot be accounted for by natural law or chance must be the result of design. Young Charles encounters some pattern of the distribution and form of a class of organisms - let us suppose they are tortoises - on an isolated archipelago and the nearest large continent. Each island has a unique tortoise most similar to the autochthon of the neighboring island and the island closest to the continent is most similar to that species. On the basis of the biological theories then current, he knows that there is no known process that can account for this pattern. It is so marked that one can draw a tree diagram from the continental form to the islands, and it will match a diagram showing the similarity of each form to the others.  What should Charles rationally infer from this? Let us assume for comparative purposes that Charles is in possession of the filter; he will therefore reason like this:

E: Species are distributed such that morphological distance closely matches geographic distance.

HP? No, there is no regularity that makes this distribution highly probable.

IP? No, the likelihood of such a distribution is extremely low.

SP? Yes, it is a very small probability (made even smaller as more variables are taken into account).

sp/SP? Yes, the problem is (more or less) specified.

Conclusion: The tortoises have the biogeographic distribution and formal distribution they do by design.                          

By Dembski's framework, Rational Charles should have ascribed the tortoises' situation to intelligent agency, and his subsequent research should have been directed to identifying that agency, perhaps by building balsa rafts to test the likelihood that continental sailors might have taken varieties now extinct on the continent and placed them each to an island according to some plan. An even more parsimonious explanation, and one more agreeable to the Rev. Paley's natural theology, might be that a single agent had created them in situ, along a plan of locating similar species adjacent to each other, which has the added virtue of explaining a large number of similar distributions known throughout the world, as Alfred, a later young voyager, was to note.

Unfortunately for the progress of rational science, Actual Charles is not rational in this manner. He infers that some unknown process accounts for this distribution as a regularity, instead of inferring design. He irrationally conjectures that all the variants are modified descendants of the continental species, and that the morphological and geographical trees are evidence of a family tree of species evolution; and thus the theory of common descent is born. Charles is, rightly, castigated by his friends for irrationality and lack of scientific rigor. His leap to an unknown process is unwarranted, as is his subsequent search for a mechanism to account for it. Were his ideas to be accepted, perhaps out of fashion or irreligion, science would be put back for more than a century until Dembski came along to put it right.



On the EF and abiogenesis: Jerry misrepresents our actual argument. We do not argue in the fashion that Jerry asserts:

P: There is no evidence of anything having "popped" into existence.

C: Therefore, the EF/DI cannot be employed on abiogenesis.

One will search our paper in vain for the word "popped" which Jerry put in scare quotes.

One point we make is that Dembski wrongly conflates abiogenesis and descent with modification.

Quote
Lest this seem to be a parody of Dembski's views, consider his treatment of the evolution versus creation debate and the origins of life. Dembski (wrongly) conflates the two, treating the origins of life as a test case for the validity of evolutionary theory (it isn't - even if the major groups of living organisms had separate origins, or were created by an agent, their subsequent history could and would have an explanation in terms of "undesigned" evolution).  


Jerry's uninformed speculations on what John and I must "believe" in this regard are, of course, completely unfounded.

Dembski uses abiogenesis as an example to attempt to show biologists 'evading' a design inference. We note that Dembski claims that Dawkins accepts a premise of the EF/DI that Dawkins plainly does not accept. The notion that Dawkins, Kauffman, and other biologists considering abiogenesis might, like "young Charles", suspect the existence of unknown causal regularities and prefer to investigate things on that premise rather than accept the science-stopping conclusion that it is "designed" (sensu Dembski) completely escapes Dembski. This isn't about having the suspected regularity in hand; it's about how one proceeds where knowledge is incomplete.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

By Dembski's framework, Rational Charles should have ascribed the tortoises' situation to intelligent agency, and his subsequent research should have been directed to identifying that agency, perhaps by building balsa rafts to test the likelihood that continental sailors might have taken varieties now extinct on the continent and placed them each to an island according to some plan. An even more parsimonious explanation, and one more agreeable to the Rev. Paley's natural theology, might be that a single agent had created them in situ, along a plan of locating similar species adjacent to each other, which has the added virtue of explaining a large number of similar distributions known throughout the world, as Alfred, a later young voyager, was to note.

Unfortunately for the progress of rational science, Actual Charles is not rational in this manner. He infers that some unknown process accounts for this distribution as a regularity, instead of inferring design. He irrationally conjectures that all the variants are modified descendants of the continental species, and that the morphological and geographical trees are evidence of a family tree of species evolution; and thus the theory of common descent is born. Charles is, rightly, castigated by his friends for irrationality and lack of scientific rigor. His leap to an unknown process is unwarranted, as is his subsequent search for a mechanism to account for it. Were his ideas to be accepted, perhaps out of fashion or irreligion, science would be put back for more than a century until Dembski came along to put it right.

Lest this seem to be a parody of Dembski's views, consider his treatment of the evolution versus creation debate and the origins of life. Dembski (wrongly) conflates the two, treating the origins of life as a test case for the validity of evolutionary theory (it isn't - even if the major groups of living organisms had separate origins, or were created by an agent, their subsequent history could and would have an explanation in terms of "undesigned" evolution). Creationists - the actual ones that do reject evolutionary theories in the way that Rational Charles should have in the 1830s - challenge what Dembski putatively does not, that species share common ancestors with their closest relatives and that natural selection accounts for adaptation. As an adjunct to their arguments, they also, along with Dembski, give credence to the "calculations" of the probability that prebiotic processes would spontaneously form the building blocks of life (the LIFE event), of genetic molecules, that various authors have given. Dembski discusses Stuart Kauffman's (and others') blocking of the design inference (Kauffman 1993, 1995) with the following argument:

Premise 1: LIFE has occurred.

Premise 2: LIFE is specified.

Premise 3: If LIFE is due to chance then LIFE has small probability.

Premise 4: Specified events of small probability do not occur by chance (the Law of Small Probabilities).

Premise 5: LIFE is not due to a regularity.

Premise 6: LIFE is due to regularity, chance, or design (the filter).

Conclusion: LIFE is due to design.                

Of Dawkins' arguments (Dawkins 1986: 139, 145-146) that there is a lot of "planetary years" available because there are a very large number of planets in the universe in which LIFE might have occurred and a lot of time available on each, Dembski says "...  because Dawkins never assigns an exact probability to LIFE, he never settles whether LIFE is a high probability event and thus could legitimately be attributed to a regularity" (p58, italics added). Therefore, he says, we may infer that Dawkins accepts Premise 5! But what Dawkins actually says is that the improbability of life occurring had better not exceed the probability that it arose by chance on any one of the available number of planets on which it might have done.  This sets a minimum bound to the probability of life, and Dawkins says that on (then) current knowledge, he doesn't know how probable life is. For all he knows, life is indeed due to a regularity.  Kauffman's work on the dynamics of autocatalytic polymer sets supports the notion that the upper bound to the probability of life occurring is very high indeed, and life is to be "expected" in appropriate conditions.  Dembski's comment? This is a "commitment". The implication is that it is a mere belief or act of faith on Kauffman's part. In fact, it is considerably more than that, and the real problem for origins of life researchers is not to find a possible scenario, but to decide which of a growing number of them holds the most promise, or which combination. But Dembski's filter makes it unnecessary to even try.



On "god of the gaps": Nothing can be "inserted" into the "math of the EF" for the simple reason that Dembski's EF is not mathematical, but rather is expressed as an argument in propositional logic (see TDI, chapter 2).

As to use of "god of the gaps", others have pointed out that this is a generic term for a fallacious mode of argument. Dembski's EF treats the category of "design" as a privileged category: no matter what goes before it, some unknown causal process sufficient to result in the event under consideration is always postulated. Gaps in our knowledge readily can lead the EF to conclude "design".                                  

There is a difference between the assessment of alternatives within Dembski's EF (DEF) and assessment of the state of our knowledge to determine whether the DEF is applicable. Jerry's objection conflates these two separate concerns. The DEF is only a useful tool if it allows us to apply it to an event where the exact causal history of the event is undetermined. That our knowledge of the specific causal process for an event analyzed via the DEF is incomplete is a trivial consequence of using the DEF at all; if we already knew the causal process for the event in question, we would not be using the DEF.

Dembski's EF/DI does not feature a "don't know" alternative, nor was there any guidance in TDI for determining if an event was suitable for analysis via the EF/DI. In fact, rather a lot of TDI was devoted to justification that any current state of knowledge of a scholarly community on an event was sufficient for application of various parts of the "generic chance elimination argument" that is supposedly the rigorous expression of the EF/DI. Further, the message that Dembski's 1998 "Science and Design" essay delivered was that biological knowledge at that time was fully sufficient to render judgement via the EF/DI on any complex biological phenomenon.

The first indication that Dembski was taking cognizance of this as a problem (without citation of our criticism) was the passage in No Free Lunch that too little was known about the Oklo reactors to apply the EF/DI. This understanding, however, did not appear in the technical re-working of the EF/DI in chapter 2 of NFL. Dembski has not yet developed any formal mechanism for assessment of adequacy of knowledge to apply the EF/DI in the framework that Dembski has provided.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

So,let us return now to the courtroom drama in time to hear Abby Macleal rebut prosecutor Pearl E. Mason's case. Abby calls retired Chump engineer Lachlan (Locky) Smith to the stand, and elicits from him the information that the Chump safe Spade owns has an inherent design flaw. If the tumbler is spun five times or more, centrifugal force will cause the lock to spontaneously open. Spade suddenly realizes why he got it so cheap.  "Fingers" is acquitted, and initiates civil action for mental anguish and loss of reputation. Clearly, the background information has changed the probability assignments.  At the time Spade found "Fingers" at the open safe, he was in possession of one set of background information, Bi. The probability of the event E requiring explanation led to a design inference. After Smith's testimony, a different set of background information, Bj, comes into play, and so the filter now delivers a "regularity" assignment to E. Suppose, though, that Smith had delivered yet another background set, Bk, by testifying that the model in question only actually used two of the five cylinders in the lock.  Given that there are 100 possible numbers that might match the successful open state for each cylinder, the probability of a random opening is now 1e-4, which is a much higher probability, given the number of Chumps of that model in use in the Naked City (particularly after Chump's massive sell-off of that model to clear the faulty stock).  Now the same filter delivers us a chance explanation given Bk. The point is that Dembski's filter is supposed to regulate rational explanation, especially in science, and yet it is highly sensitive to the current state of knowledge. One single difference of information can change the inference from design to regularity to chance. This goes to the claim that Dembski's explanatory filter reliably finds design.  Reliability, Dembski tells us, is the property that once an event is found to have the property of "design", no further knowledge will cause the event to be considered to have the property of "regularity" or "chance".  What the filter lacks that real-world design inferences already have is a "Don't know" decision. If we can say of a problem that it is currently intractable or there is insufficient information to give a regularity or chance explanation now, then the Filter tells us we must ascribe it to design if it is specifiable. But it can be specifiable without the knowledge required to rule out regularity or chance explanations. This is clearly a god of the gaps stance, and it can have only one purpose: to block further investigation into these problems.



On understanding Dembski's EF/DI: Jerry makes a straight-out false accusation.

Quote

Next the authors demonstrate they have little understanding of how the EF works:

"As Dembski's probabilities are Bayesian assignments made on the basis of a set of prior knowledge and default hypotheses, this seems to be a perfectly reasonable move. However, it has one glaring problem - it blocks any inferences of design, and that is too much. There are well attested cases of design in the world: we humans do things by design all the time. So an explanatory filter had better not exclude design altogether. How can it be included here? When is a design inference legitimate?"

The EF never excludes design, it only shows design. Lack of proof for a positive does not necessitate a negative. This is argumentum ad ignorantiam all over again. Its purpose is to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is designed. Yet, there can be things designed of such simplicity that the EF doesn’t detect it.


This is a complete misrepresentation. Let me add in some context, and I'll add emphasis via bold and italics.

Quote

Supposing we do insert a "don't-know" branch: where should it go? There is an ambiguity in Dembski's treatment of his argumentative framework. The Explanatory Filter is written about as if it describes a process of analysis, but Dembski's further argumentation is cast in terms of a first-order logical calculus. In a process, we would come to a "don't-know" conclusion after some evaluation of alternatives, but in a logical framework, there is no temporal dependency. We will here ignore the demands of process and concentrate on the logic. As Dembski's filter eliminates hypotheses from high probability to low probability, clearly an inability to assign a probability in the first place makes the decision the first branch point. So if, on Bi, the probability of E is undecidable, that needs to be worked out first:

Undecidable probabilities lead us to a blocking of the inference at all. No further inferences can be drawn, and no design is required to explain any event for which there is no assignment. However, even if E is decidable on Bi, that in no way licences the expectation that on Bj or Bk those probabilities will remain fixed. For example, when Dawkins wrote in 1986, the state of knowledge about prebiotic chemical reactions was sparse; the range of possible RNA codes and molecular alternatives was not properly understood. As knowledge has grown, our estimate of the probability that some ribonucleotides, or perhaps ribonucleoproteins, or even polyaminoacids, might enter into protobiotic autocatalytic cycles has become much higher. Some even think that in a geologically short time after the cooling of the earth's surface, with the right conditions (themselves now expected to be of reasonably high probabilities on earth) life is almost certain to arise. Perhaps, then, we need another branching at each decision, leading to "Don't-know-yet".
As Dembski's probabilities are Bayesian assignments made on the basis of a set of prior knowledge and default hypotheses, this seems to be a perfectly reasonable move. However, it has one glaring problem - it blocks any inferences of design, and that is too much. There are well attested cases of design in the world: we humans do things by design all the time. So an explanatory filter had better not exclude design altogether. How can it be included here?  When is a design inference legitimate?


The parts in bold are things Jerry excluded from his quote. The italics mark a clause in what Jerry quoted that makes little sense if we were critiquing Dembski's original EF here. What is being moved from and to? Jerry doesn't provide the reader with the data. The notion that we were critiquing Dembski's original EF and not our own modification of it is belied even if one simply refers to the single sentence that immediately precedes what Jerry did decide to quote for the readers.

The "lack of proof for a positive does not necessitate a negative" comment by Jerry fails to address to address any claim made by us concerning Dembski's EF. It follows from Jerry's misunderstanding of our discussion of alternative explanatory filters.

However, I will note that once again Jerry is relying upon the "universal small probability" as if it were a threshold, and it is not. Dembski's text in TDI on local small probabilities has not yet been retracted, and until that happens, there is no threshold "complexity" for "specified complexity".  

On skirnobs and toasters: In the ISCID thread, Rex Kerr has already ably addressed this point. Jerry misses the point here; we introduce "skirnob" as an item about which one does not already have a large store of background knowledge, unlike Jerry's offered example of "toasters". Being told that one has a "designed" (sensu Dembski) skirnob is completely uninformative.  This doesn't imply that a skirnob in the hand would not do whatever it is that skirnobs ordinarily do; Jerry's assertion that our argument means that one must have knowledge of a particular designer in order for a designed artifact to function is a bizarre misunderstanding of what we actually said.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

The problem with a simple conclusion that something is designed, is its lack of informativeness. If you tell me that skirnobs are designed but nothing else about them, then how much do I actually know about skirnobs? Of a single skirnob, what can I say? Unless I already know a fair bit about the aims and intentions of skirnob designers, nothing is added to my knowledge of skirnobs by saying that it is designed. I do not know if a skirnob is a good skirnob, fulfilling the design criteria for skirnobs, or not. I do not know how typical that skirnob is of skirnobs in general, or what any of the properties of skirnobs are. I may as well say that skirnobs are "gzorply muffnordled", for all it tells me. But if I know the nature of the designer, or of the class of things the designer is a member of, then I know something about skirnobs, and I can make some inductive generalizations to the properties of other skirnobs.

The way we find out such things about designers is to observe and interact, and if we can, converse, with them. In this way we can build up a model of the capacities and dispositions of designers. Experience tells me that a modernist architect will use certain materials to certain effect. Lacking any information about modernist architects leaves me none the wiser knowing that an architect is modernist (in contrast to other architects). Once we have such knowledge of designers, though, what we can say about them is that they generate regularities of outcomes. We know, for example, what the function of the Antikythera Device, a clockwork bronze assembly found in an ancient Greek shipwreck, was because we know the kinds of organisms that made it, we know the scientific, religious and navigational interests they had, we know about gears, and we know what they knew about the apparent motions of the heavens. Hence we can infer that the Antikythera Device is an astrolabe, used for open sea navigation by the stars, or a calendrical calculator, or both (de Solla Price 1974). But suppose it was found by interstellar visitors long after humans went extinct. What would they know about it? Unless they had similar interest and needs to ourselves, or were already able to reconstruct from other contexts what human needs and interests were, for all they know it might be the extrusion of some living organism (which, in a sense, it is), just like a sand dollar. It might never occur to them to compare it to the apparent motion of the heavens from earth circa 500 BCE.

(Emphasis added - WRE)


On "therefore the designer is named Pete": I don't see any instances of this in our paper, yet Jerry insists that it, or things like it, occur throughout our paper. An instance or two quoted from the paper would suffice to show what sort of thing Jerry is talking about, if in fact Jerry is talking about something that we actually said rather than what Jerry imagines or wishes that we said.

On Jerry's original parting shot:

Quote

The rest of the paper is largely nonsensical, I'm afraid.


Jerry misspelled "unanswerable". Given my observations of Jerry's posting style, it would be out of character for him not to go on and on about examples of what he (usually erroneously) thinks is nonsense in what the person on the other side of the argument has written. It isn't a "refutation" to simply assert that something is "nonsense".

The ISCID moderator stepped in to call Jerry to task on the original parting shot, so Jerry edited his post to replace that one with this one:

Quote

The rest of the paper needs little addressing.


Trying to "refute" valid arguments would be counterproductive.

Jerry would do well to note the order of authors as well.  He refers to us as "E&W" throughout his text, but he should be saying "W&E".



Date: 2004/05/29 09:57:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for discussion of various things related to the IDEA Club and IDEACenter.

Date: 2004/07/08 07:23:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Dembski Compares Biologists to the Taliban

Quote

Touchstone: Where is the ID movement going in the next ten years?  What new issues will it be exploring, and what new challenges will it be offering Darwinism?

Dembski: In the next five years, molecular Darwinism -- the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level -- will be dead.  When that happens, evolutionary biology will experience a crisis of confidence because evolutionary biology hinges on the evolution of the right molecules.  I therefore foresee a Taliban-style collapse of Darwinism in the next ten years. Intelligent design will of course profit greatly from this. For ID to win the day, however, will require talented new researchers able to move this research program forward, showing how intelligent design provides better insights into biological systems than the dying Darwinian paradigm.


(Anonymous (Touchstone Magazine), (2004).  "The Measure of Design: A conversation about the past, present & future of Darwinism and Design."  Touchstone, 17(6), pp. 60-65.)

I have some comments on Dembski's response.

Date: 2004/07/19 16:03:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Ivar wrote:

Quote

I don't understand "Appendix A.1 A different kind of specification."  Some strings are random and cannot be compressed, some strings can be compressed using a known program, and still other strings could be compressed except that we don't know how.  If there is a program to compress a string, it could be the invention of an intelligent designer or it could be a model of a natural process.  So what does this have to do with specifications?


The existence of a minimal program/input pair that results in a certain output indicates that there exists an effective method for production of the output. Since effective methods are something that are in common between intelligent agents and instances of natural computation, one cannot distinguish which of the two sorts of causation might have resulted in the output, but one can reject chance causation for the output. We haven't so much repaired specification as we have pointed out a better alternative to it.

This leads me to a claim about Dembski's design inference: Everything which is supposedly explained by a design inference is better and more simply explained by Specified Anti-Information.

SAI identifies an effective method for the production of the output of interest. The result of a design inference is less specific, being simply the negation of currently known (and considered) regularity and chance. The further arguments Dembski gives to go from a design inference to intelligent agency are flawed. On both practical and theoretical grounds, SAI is a superior methodology to that of the design inference.

Date: 2004/07/21 18:57:43, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Why Intelligent Design Fails

A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism


Edited by Matt Young and Taner Edis

http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/books/id/

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"This book is a readable and devastating scientific analysis of intelligent design creationism. . . .unlike ID's proponents, these authors have done the real science that deflates the claims of intelligent design. Their work deserves the respect of everyone with a say in what is taught in public school science classes." -- Barbara Forrest, co-author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design

"A terrific book that explores, fairly and openly, whether proponents of ID have any scientifically valid gadgets in their toolbox at all. . . .accessibly written throughout and an invaluable aid to teachers and scientists." -- Kevin Padian, Professor and Curator, University of California, Berkeley, and President, National Center for Science Education

"'Intelligent-design theory' makes extravagant claims, but refuses to come up with even a small fraction of the evidence needed to sustain them. Why Intelligent Design Fails brings together clear and devastating arguments by true scientists, which will convince perceptive and fair-minded readers that 'intelligent design' belongs to the history of propaganda, not to the achievements of science." -- Norman Levitt, Author of Prometheus Bedeviled: Science and the Contradictions of Contemporary Culture

Is Darwinian evolution established fact, or a dogma ready to be overtaken by the next scientific revolution? Today, a comparatively sophisticated group of Darwin-deniers have coalesced in the "intelligent-design" movement, arguing that the molecular machines in cells cannot be assembled by natural selection, and that the information in our universe cannot be generated by mindless processes. They have even claimed to detect design in complex structures by rigorous mathematical means.

In Why Intelligent Design Fails, a team of scientists call on their expertise in physics, biology, computer science, and archaeology to examine intelligent design. They take design claims at face value, without attempting to rule out the hypothesis of a designed universe just because of its supernatural overtones. They consistently find grandiose claims with no scientific merit. The questions intelligent-design advocates raise have largely already been answered, or else mainstream scientists have been making excellent progress on them with a Darwinian, naturalistic approach.

After an overview of intelligent design and its intellectual context, Why Intelligent Design Fails moves on to biological claims concerning common descent, and the arguments of Michael Behe. Contributors show how the notion of "irreducible complexity" does not challenge Darwinian evolution, explaining how mainstream science comfortably accounts for examples of biochemistry, bacterial flagella, and bird wings.

Intelligent-design advocates, however, have ambitions beyond overturning Darwinian thinking in biology. So the authors examine the information-based arguments of William Dembski. They discuss thermodynamics and self-organization, the ways human design is actually identified in fields such as forensic archaeology, how real complexity theory thoroughly undermines Dembski's notions, how research in machine intelligence indicates that intelligence itself is the product of chance and necessity, and the misunderstandings of the no-free-lunch theorems propagated by Dembski. The book closes with an investigation of cosmological fine-tuning arguments said to show that the universe was designed for humans, and reflections on the place of the intelligent-design movement at the fringes of mainstream science.

Intelligent design turns out to be a complete scientific mistake, but also a useful contrast highlighting the amazing power of Darwinian thinking and the wonder of a world filled with complexity without design.

The chapters are authored by Taner Edis, Matt Young, Gert Korthof, David Ussery, Ian Musgrave, Alan Gishlick, Niall Shanks, Istvan Karsai, Gary Hurd, Jeffrey Shallit, Wesley Elsberry, Mark Perakh, and Victor Stenger.

Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung is the author of No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe http://www.1stBooks.com/bookview/5559. He is a former physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and now teaches physics at the Colorado School of Mines. Taner Edis http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/ is an assistant professor of physics at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, and the author of The Ghost in the Universe: God in the Light of Modern Science http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/books/ghost/.
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Date: 2004/07/23 11:37:42, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Johnson Invokes Goebbels

Quote
Dr. Goebbels would have been impressed to see what propaganda can accomplish even in a democracy, where citizens are legally free to protest. If a cultural elite has sufficient control of the news media and the textbooks, it can marginalize disfavored opinions by confining them in categories that effectively label them as unworthy of serious consideration.


I see that one salubrious effect of the essay that Mark Perakh and I wrote on invidious comparisons of biologists to Soviets and Nazis is that ID advocates seem to have figured out which of the Nazis actually was in charge of propaganda. (Jonathan Wells wrote that it was Himmler; we pointed out the error.) While we might wish certain other of our points to be taken, we can be hopeful that we have alleviated some trivial amount of ignorance in the ID advocate ranks.

Date: 2004/08/04 05:37:06, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On "specified complexity" and equivocation:

Salvador writes:

Quote

Wesley and Jeffrey say "Strongly implies that Davies' use of the term is the same as his own". I don't think that is a charitable reading of page 180.


If Dembski had simply noted Davies' use of the term "specified complexity" and stated how his use differed, that would be one thing. But Dembski criticizes Davies for his willingness to credit natural mechanisms with the production of "specified complexity". Dembski makes no distinction between the use Davies makes of "specified complexity" and the different use Dembski does. It is Dembski who has the deficit in charity here.

Quote

For the sake of completeness I ask Wesley to justify that Davies ever gave a precise mathematical defintion of "specified complexity" (not complexity) in terms of Kolmogorov-Complexity?


It's completely irrelevant, which is the only sort of completeness I can make out for the above question. We never claimed that Davies did any such thing.

Quote

The issue is not "complexity per se", but for "tightly specified complexity". I invite Wesley explain how Davies distinguishes plain vanilla K-complexity from "tightly specified complexity"?


No, the issue is whether Davies' use of "specified complexity" is open to the criticism that Dembski makes of it. The fact that Davies uses "complexity" to mean something entirely different from Dembski's usage is a clue that the two usages of "specified complexity" differ significantly.

Quote

Wesley, you're entitled to your opinion, but I think you do not give page 180 of No Free Lunch a charitable reading whatsoever.


<shrug> I don't think Dembski reads Davies charitably. We seem to be at an impasse on this one.

Quote

Bill clarifies his position versus that of Davies and Orgel in Design Revolution page 84.


Dembski notes that Orgel and Davies use the term "loosely". He doesn't say that their usage is significantly different from his own. The implication is that the difference is in the degree of precision of use, with Dembski having greater precision.

Quote

Is Granite K-complex in terms of the composition and the positioning of the molecules? If so, then even Orgel does not use complexity the way you argue Davies uses it.


<shrug> We never said that the usage of Orgel was the same as that of Davies.

Quote

Bottom line, is Bill has made an effort to distinguish his definitions from others. The complaint that Bill "strongly implies that Davies' use of the term is the same as his own" I think has been settled in a subsequent book, Design Revolution.


I don't agree. Dembski has not retracted the criticism of Davies which is dependent upon Davies' use being the same as Dembski's. Simply saying that Davies' use was "loose" in some sense doesn't get Dembski off the hook for this.

Date: 2004/08/04 06:27:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
To Define "Intelligence", or Not to Define It...

Salvador takes issue with a criticism of ours:

Quote

Just as Dembski fails to give a positive account of the second half of "intelligent design", he
also fails to define the first half: intelligence.


Salvador notes something Dembski said earlier:

Quote

Bill Dembski in IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN A FORM OF NATURAL THEOLOGY
Within intelligent design, intelligence is a primitive notion much as force or energy are primitive notions within physics. We can say intelligible things about these notions and show how they can be usefully employed in certain contexts. But in defining them, we gain no substantive insight.


Salvador concludes:

Quote

I think therefore Wesley and Jefferey's claim about Bill:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"he also fails to define the first half: intelligence"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

is therefore an unfair representation of Bill's position on intelligence. If intelligence is primitive to reality, not defining it, but leaving it as an undefined is reasonable.

I suggest Wesley and Jeffrey withdraw that complaint from their paper in fairness of representing Bill's position correctly.


Wesley and Jeffrey may not agree with Bill, but owe him the courtesy of representing his work fairly. Bill has explicitly said he did not believe "defining" intelligence will gain substantive insight. Jeffrey I'm sure could offer examples of undefined terms in mathematics, etc....


So, the issue isn't that there is an inaccuracy in what we said, but rather that we aren't "fair" in making this observation.

I think that I will need to revise this criticism, as it becomes more trenchant with the noting of Dembski's demurral at even making an attempt to clarify what "intelligence" means when he deploys it.

Just as ID advocates like to note that the term "evolution" can have many different meanings, it is possible to note that "intelligence" also has many different meanings. Salvador's defense of an "undefined" use of intelligence critically depends upon the undefined term having a unitary and agreed-upon significance to the class of readers, and while this might be true for the concept of "force" in physics, this is clearly not the case for "intelligence".

The phrase "intelligent design", for example, doesn't really mean that a "design" will have characteristics that indicate that it was intelligently arrived at. Rather, all that is meant is that some agent (as opposed to a process) was involved in causing some event. The putative agent is carefully relieved of any responsibility for actually displaying what an outside observer might call "intelligence" (see Dembski's essay on "optimal design").

(Actually, I find it interesting that Salvador's quote concerning "force" is incomplete. The whole paragraph is: "In most expositions of mechanics, force is usually taken as a primitive, without an explicit definition. Rather it is taken to be defined implicitly by the (often vague) presentation of the theory within which it is contained. Various physicists, philosophers and mathematicians, such as Ernst Mach, Clifford Truesdell and Walter Noll have contributed to the intellectual effort of obtaining a more rational, non-circular, and explicit definition of force." Salvador only quoted the part in italics. The rest of the paragraph indicates that not everyone is just as comfy with undefined terms lying about as Salvador is.)

Of course, in the interest of brevity that whole sentence and the possible further line of criticism suggested by Salvador could be dropped, as its absence would do no harm to the remainder of the section on "Intelligence" and the next sub-section, "Animal Intelligence".

Date: 2004/08/05 19:47:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador writes:

Quote

I've done all I can to let Elsberry know that I'm responding to his criticism of you. He hasn't shown his himself at ARN. They've accused you of not responding to your critics: well, I'm giving them a taste of their own medicine. They don't seem eager to respond to me : Elsberry, Shallit, Dembski, Cordova.


That's amusing. Salvador apparently doesn't think that a response can be made anywhere except where he dictates. He is wrong on that point, too. Consider it a vote of "no confidence" in ARN's management on my part.

Dembski has been accused of not responding to his critics, and Salvador has eagerly expressed (and in public, no less) his willingness to take a "grenade" for Dembski so that Dembski can continue to not respond to critics. Who is that supposed to fool?

There are many issues that I have raised that have received no response from Dembski. Some are more serious than others. Some date back to our first encounter in 1997. Salvador has had his ARN thread up for just a few weeks, and substantive commentary in it is only a few days old. Even if I hadn't already responded, Salvador would simply be getting a taste of the medicine that Dembski so freely dispenses to critics.

Date: 2004/08/06 23:54:07, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I Think We're in Kansas Again, Toto

The balance of power has shifted again in Kansas, as Jack Krebs reported earlier here that it might. Kathy Martin, a conservative advocate of teaching creationism in science classes, defeated Bruce Wyatt, a moderate proponent of teaching science in science classes, shifting the board from a 5-5 split to a simple 6-4 conservative majority. Expect revisions to the state science standards in 2005 to "de-emphasize" evolution again. Whether the board will go so far as to insert "creationism" brazenly by name remains to be seen.

See these news reports:

http://www.thestate.com/mld....423.htm

http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/local/9315092.htm

Date: 2004/08/12 23:04:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador,

Look a little further up the page. I've already responded to this bit under the heading, "On 'specified complexity' and equivocation".

Date: 2004/08/13 09:58:30, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On "simple comuptational processes":

Salvador wrote:

Quote

But for starters, if I have a "500 coins heads" in a box and this was done by a coin ordering robot, how can one say the robot is performing a "simple computational process". That robot could be incredibly complex or simple, the resulting output of "500 coins heads" speaks nothing of the complexity inside the robot to in achieve "500 coins heads".


This would be the "Rube Goldberg" objection. One can come to the same result by any of a number of means, some of them much more complex than others. But the point of Algorithmic Information Theory is that no more information exists in the output than is to be found in the shortest program/input pair that produces that output. That longer program/input pairs exist is irrelevant to the result.

Quote

I invite Wesley care to quantify the phrase "simple computational process"?


That would be the appendix detailing "Specified Anti-Information".

Quote

I invite Wesley and Jeffrey to define the number of bits needed to implement a basic computer, such as a Universal Turing Machine that can perform "the simple computational process".


I don't see why one need postulate a UTM for every job. That's overkill. That's another reason why we made reference to cellular automata.

Quote

Bottom line, an orderly arrangement (like coins all heads), speaks nothing of the level of complexity required to create that orderly arrangement. The above quote is therefore seriously flawed.


Non sequitur. Dembski's argument offers to exclude natural processes in principle; the possible existence of simple computational processes instantiated by natural processes capable of producing the observed event vitiates that claim. That more complex processes might also do the same job in no way reduces the force of this rebuttal.

Date: 2004/08/26 16:17:46, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
From http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html :

Quote


Review of Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.

by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry

[The views and statements expressed here are our own and not necessarily those of NCSE or its supporters.]

"Intelligent design" (ID) advocate Stephen C. Meyer has produced a "review article" that folds the various lines of "intelligent design" antievolutionary argumentation into one lump.  The article is published in the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.  We congratulate ID on finally getting an article in a peer-reviewed biology journal, a mere fifteen years after the publication of the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People, a textbook aimed at inserting ID into public schools.  It is gratifying to see the ID movement finally attempt to make their case to the only scientifically relevant group, professional biologists.  This is therefore the beginning (not the end) of the review process for ID.  Perhaps one day the scientific community will be convinced that ID is worthwhile.  Only through this route -- convincing the scientific community, a route already taken by plate tectonics, endosymbiosis, and other revolutionary scientific ideas -- can ID earn a legitimate place in textbooks.

Unfortunately, the ID movement will likely ignore the above considerations about how scientific review actually works, and instead trumpet the paper from coast to coast as proving the scientific legitimacy of ID.  Therefore, we would like to do our part in the review process by providing a preliminary evaluation of the claims made in Meyer's paper.  Given the scientific stakes, we may assume that Meyer, Program Director of the Discovery Institute.s Center for Science and Culture, the major organization promoting ID, has put forward the best case that ID has to offer.   Discouragingly, it appears that ID's best case is not very good.  We cannot review every problem with Meyer's article in this initial post, but we would like to highlight some of the most serious mistakes.  These include errors in facts and reasoning. Even more seriously, Meyer's paper omits discussion or even citation of vast amounts of directly relevant work available in the scientific literature.

[...]

Date: 2004/08/28 00:01:28, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
DI posts text of Meyer 2004

Again

On August 26th, the Discovery Institute made a PDF of Stephen C. Meyer's paper available on its website. Within hours, the PDF was gone. One link brought up a blank page; the other retrieved a map of an Adobe Corp. campus.

Today, the DI is having another go at providing the content of Meyer 2004 on its website. This time, the text is in HTML format at

http://www.discovery.org/scripts....ainPage

Amazingly enough, the DI CSC did take notice of the critique on Panda's Thumb, though not so seriously as to provide a link to it. The introductory blurb assures readers that Dr. Meyer will "respond in full" to the critique. I seriously doubt that Dr. Meyer will "respond in full". After all, what went on PT was simply an abstract of a larger work in progress to provide a comprehensive critique of Meyer's paper.

For example, now that the DI has provided machine-readable text of the Meyer 2004 paper, my preliminary analysis indicates that over a third of it is taken from previously published work. That finding wasn't in the PT post, but you can be sure that it will be featured in the comprehensive critique.

Plug the following text from Meyer 2004 into a Google search:

"fossil record fails to document a large pool of species"

to see one instance of what I'm talking about.

Date: 2004/09/02 18:11:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Although peer review was a good thing for The Design Inference, I decided to forego peer review for its sequel, No Free Lunch. While I was still writing No Free Lunch, I contacted Cambridge University Press about publishing this book as a sequel to The Design Inference. Because The Design Inference had been Cambridge University Press's best selling philosophical monograph in several years, it seemed likely that they would be interested in a follow-up volume. I wanted a contract for this book on the basis of a prospectus and some sample chapters, not an uncommon request for a sequel to a highly successful monograph. I sought this so that I wouldn't have to wait almost two and a half years between the time I submitted the completed manuscript and its publication, as in the case of The Design Inference. My work was being widely discussed, and I wanted the sequel to appear without delay.

The New York editor at Cambridge (not Brian Skyrms) informed me that even though The Design Inference was one of their bestsellers, it was controversial, and even though the press didn't mind controversy as such, it had come to light that I was being labeled a "creationist." Thus, before Cambridge University Press could issue a contract, I would have to submit the most controversial chapters of the new book. Besides this, I had inside information that even if No Free Lunch was accepted this side of the Atlantic, it was unlikely to be accepted with the Cambridge Syndicate in England, whose biologists were now disposed against my work. This news was actually quite surprising because the Cambridge Syndicate typically rubber stamps any recommendations for publication from the United States. That an exception was to be made in my case indicated that the review process, instead of working dispassionately and fairly, would be rigged to work against me. I therefore took my business elsewhere and published the book with Rowman and Littlefield.


http://www.arn.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-13-t-000783.html

Date: 2004/09/05 21:52:51, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Meyer's Hopeless Monster

This thread is for further discussion of

Quote
Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.


and the critique at the Panda's Thumb.

Date: 2004/09/05 22:05:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
On the erection and destruction of strawmen

The go-to guy for strawman creation and destruction at the moment would seem to be the pseudonymous "Mike Gene" over on ARN.

In response to the following,

Quote
When someone makes as many errors as we have documented Stephen Meyer does, one naturally does wonder about his scholarship and character. But we didn’t invent these problems in Meyer’s work; he did that to himself. As “Dave” says, we’re just doing the post-mortem.


"Mike" wrote:

Quote

I guess we are supposed to think that Elsberry, Gishlick, and Matzke had no idea who Meyer was before they approached his article. Then, as they sat down to objectively and fairly weigh it, they were stunned to find so “many errors.” Only then did it occur to them to wonder about his scholarship and character. If Elsberry expects us to believe that, he’s been hanging out in his personal echo chamber too long.

(Source: http://www.arn.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-14-t-000944-p-2.html)

Of course, I've never given a hint of asking the reader of our critique to believe any such thing. Not even by implication.

The fact that I've known Stephen Meyer to make various and sundry errors since our first encounter in 1997 doesn't at all ameliorate the number or severity of the errors Meyer packs into his paper in PBSW.

Date: 2004/09/06 12:48:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Will He or Won't He?

"Mike Gene":

Quote

[...] Why should Meyer respond to a blog? [...]


I have no idea why he should (other than the obvious one of defending claims that have received credible criticism), but the Discovery Institute did at one point say that Meyer would do so:

Quote

On August 26th, a critique of the article authored by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke and Wesley Elsberry appeared on the Pandas Thumb website. For this reason, we have decided to make Dr. Meyer’s article available now in HTML format on this website. (Off prints are also available from Discovery Institute by writing to Keith Pennock at Kpennock@discovery.org….) We trust that the Pandas Thumb critique of Meyer’s article will seem a good deal less persuasive, and less substantive than . Meyer’s article itself, once readers have had a chance to read Meyer’s essay. Dr. Meyer will, of course, respond in full to Gishlick et al. in due course.


Hope that helps.

Just for completeness...

Meyer 2004

Critique of Meyer 2004

Date: 2004/09/08 16:42:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Meyer 2004 and Deja Vu All Over Again

The link above has my analysis of how over a third of the Meyer 2004 paper is lifted from the already-published Meyer, Ross, Nelson, and Chien 2003 chapter in "Darwin, Design, and Public Education".

Simply linking to the article caused "Tom Ames" to be banned from ARN. Who was saying something about "censorship"?

[Update -- Apparently, the banning was temporary and had more to do with the choice of title. - WRE]



Date: 2004/09/09 22:37:35, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Out on a Limb at Evangelical Outpost

Here's what Joe Carter had to say about a section of our critique:

Quote


[MHM] 1. Meyer invokes Dembski’s “specified complexity”/”complex specified information” (SC/CSI) as somehow relevant to the Cambrian explosion. However, under Dembski’s technical definition, CSI is not just the conjoint use of the nontechnical words “specified” (as in “functional”) and “complexity”, as Meyer erroneously asserts. According to Dembski’s technical definition, improbability of appearance under natural causes is part of the *definition* of CSI. Only after one has determined that something is wildly improbable under natural causes can one conclude that something has CSI. You can’t just say, “boy, that sure is specific and complicated, it must have lots of CSI” and conclude that evolution is impossible. Therefore, Meyer’s waving about of the term “CSI” as evidence against evolution is both useless for his argument, and an incorrect usage of Dembski (although Dembski himself is very inconsistent, conflating popular and technical uses of his “CSI,” which is almost certainly why Meyer made this mistake. See here for examples of definitional inconsistency.). [/MHM]

Here is how Dembski actually defines “specified complexity”:

The distinction between specified and unspecified information may now be defined as follows: the actualization of a possibility (i.e., information) is specified if independently of the possibility's actualization, the possibility is identifiable by means of a pattern. If not, then the information is unspecified.

That appears to be exactly the way that Meyer uses the term:

1. Thus, we can pose a question, not only about the origin of genetic information, but also about the origin of the information necessary to generate form and structure at levels higher than that present in individual proteins. We must also ask about the origin of the “specified complexity,” as opposed to mere complexity, that characterizes the new genes, proteins, cell types and body plans that arose in the Cambrian explosion. Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information--that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.


There are at least two problems with Joe's apologetic.

First: The quote from Dembski is not about either "specified complexity" or "complex specified information". The phrase "specified complexity" doesn't appear in the essay, and the quoted material comes from the section on "Complex Information" rather than the one on "Complex Specified Information". If Joe had read the entire article, he might have noticed that the full description of CSI was deferred to Dembski's book, "The Design Inference". The article merely gives a layman's gloss on the term. What Meyer references is Dembski's "No Free Lunch", which updates the definition Dembski gives for CSI.

Second: Informal usage of "specified complexity" has no power to distinguish anything from Shannon information. Meyer's phrasing does not admit of an appeal to exchanging prior informal usage of "specified complexity" for informal usage by Dembski; it is only Dembski's technical framework that might fit the bill that Meyer assigns it. (Although even then, the particular usage Meyer gives is problematic, see Elsberry and Shallit 2003 for details of the shortcomings of CSI as an information measure.)

Carter's further commentary depends upon taking Meyer's use of "specified complexity" and "complex specified information" as simply informal vernacular, and not in any way related to Dembski's formal argumentation. This puts Meyer on the horns of a dilemma. Meyer could accept the Carter apologetic and claim to be relentlessly informal, in which case there was no reason to cite Dembski other than to give Dembski a much-needed increment in the Citation Index. Further, Meyer's argument would collapse to the vague hand-waving common to Paleyists and neo-Paleyists that has been less than convincing to scientists ever since Darwin. On the other horn, Meyer could reject the Carter apologetic, and have all the problems associated with relying on a technique he obviously does not know how to deploy that we have already pointed out. I guess we will see which of these Meyer eventually selects.



Date: 2004/09/15 04:21:22, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Even Further Out on a Limb...

Joe Carter lit into PZ Myers over some harsh words PZ had for Stephen Meyer's arguments in Meyer 2004.

Carter doesn't pussyfoot around in making the broad claim:

Quote

While I appreciate the effort, Dr. Myers has only shown that even when he bothers to check the “esoteric literature”, he still remains unable to adequately address Meyer’s article. Let me clarify that I am not claiming that Meyer’s review is free of error or that it is a model of scholarship. My main contention is only that the critics at PT have failed to offer a persuasive or even relevant rebuttal. This latest effort only provides further evidence for my case:


What's so funny about this grandstanding of Carter's is how completely he falls on his face when actually dealing with the first part of Myers' critique.

Since I don't have multi-level quoting, I'll use the old BBS standby of prefixing initials to indicate who said what.

Quote

SCM> For over three billion years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999).

PZM> Uh-oh. This one is very misleading. Brocks et al. is a paper about molecular fossils: they analyzed trace materials in ancient rocks, looking for the chemical signatures characteristic of different domains of life. While it is talking about trace molecules left largely by bacteria, it makes no statement about the absence of other organisms, and explicitly states that the phylogenetic position of the eukaryotes responsible for the lipids they found is unclear.

JC> The claim that Meyer’s is being “misleading” is applicable only if PZ means that the “little more than bacteria and algae” excludes less developed forms of life.


And Carter is already off in the weeds. The claim that Meyer is being misleading stands if the cited reference does not support the claim that Meyer is making, which can be the case not only if more complex life is excluded, but also if Meyer and Brocks et al. don't agree on timing.

Quote

JC> While it is true that the article makes no mention of the “absence of other organisms” it does say:

Brocks et al.> Microfossils 11), stromatolites (2), and sedimentally carbon isotope ratios (3) all indicate that microbial organisms inhabited the oceans in Archcan times [>2500 million years ago (Ma)]. But these lines of evidence are not very informative about what these microbes were or how they lived. Potentially, a better insight into primordial biological diversity can be obtained from molecular fossils derived from cellular and membrane lipids ("biomarkers"). Although such soluble hydrocarbons were first extracted from Archean rocks more than 30 years ago, their significance was generally discounted after amino acids of recent origin were found in the same rocks (4). Prevailing models of thermal maturation dictated that complex hydrocarbons should not survive the metamorphism experienced by all Archcan terrains. However, indications of greater hydrocarbon stability (5) and observations of oil in Archean fluid inclusions (6) suggest that these maturation models are unduly pessimistic and that biomarkers could indeed be preserved in low-grade Archean metasedimentary rocks. Furthermore, systematic sampling strategies, improved analytical techniques, and greater geochemical knowledge (7} should make their recognition easier and their interpretation more rigorous. We now repo,1 molecular fossils in late Archcan shales that have suffered only minimal metarmorphisre. These molecular fossils reveal that the Archeart biota was considerably more complex titan currently recognized and that the domains Eucarya and Bacteria were already extant. [emphasis added]

JC> The article makes no mention of organisms that more advanced than microbes. In fact, as Brocks says in his final sentence, “The discovery and careful analysis of biomarkers in rocks of still greater age and of different Archean environments will potentially offer new insights into early microbial life and its evolution.”

JC>Does PZ know of evidence for more advanced life forms during this period?


PZ doesn't need to provide evidence for more advanced life forms in the Archean period that is the subject of the quotation Carter provides from Brocks et al..

That's right, Brocks et al. is dealing with stuff that is way, way old. They are dealing with things that are older than 2.5 billion years old. That's how to parse that technical note of "[>2500 million years ago (Ma)]" that was in the quote Carter provided.

Let's look at Meyer 2004 again:

Quote

The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world. For over three billions years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999). Then, beginning about 570-565 million years ago (mya), the first complex multicellular organisms appeared in the rock strata, including sponges, cnidarians, and the peculiar Ediacaran biota (Grotzinger et al. 1995). Forty million years later, the Cambrian explosion occurred (Bowring et al. 1993). The emergence of the Ediacaran biota (570 mya), and then to a much greater extent the Cambrian explosion (530 mya), represented steep climbs up the biological complexity gradient.


Meyer is deploying the Brocks et al. study as establishing that life consisted of "little more" than bacteria and algae right up to 570mya. But as Joe has established, the period Brocks et al. discuss is from 2.5 billion years ago and older. That leaves a mere 1.93 billion years of life's history intervening between what Brocks et al. were talking about and where Meyer implies that they left off. I'd say that was pretty misleading.

Let's review Carter's braggadacio at the outset one more time:

Quote

While I appreciate the effort, Dr. Myers has only shown that even when he bothers to check the “esoteric literature”, he still remains unable to adequately address Meyer’s article. Let me clarify that I am not claiming that Meyer’s review is free of error or that it is a model of scholarship. My main contention is only that the critics at PT have failed to offer a persuasive or even relevant rebuttal.


Carter's counter-argument has all the faults that he claims for Myers.



Date: 2004/09/16 20:35:15, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

Quote

Do you believe genetically engineered products evidence CSI by Dembski's definition?


I have no need to believe that anything evidences CSI by Dembski's definition. The reason that I need not believe any such thing is that there has never been a successful application of Dembski's EF/DI via the GCEA meeting or exceeding the "universal small probability" of any event whatsoever. If you had a citation of such a published successful, fully worked-out calculation, I'm sure that you would share that with us.

Until then, it's all just blowin' smoke.

Quote

Here is a case were potentially non-algorithmically compressible information is CSI.  This would refute your paper's claim that Dembski confuses what you call SAI and CSI.


I have no recollection of saying that Dembski confuses SAI with anything else. That would hardly be sporting, since "SAI" as a term was introduced in that paper. Perhaps a specific citation of the purported faulty language would be appropriate?

Date: 2004/09/17 08:09:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for discussion of the claim that evolutionary biology is dependent on theological argumentation.

This started off in http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000488.html , a thread about Dembski's new job.

Date: 2004/09/17 08:11:35, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I haven't seen C. G. Hunter or any other ID advocate explain how the following depend upon theological argumentation:



  • Inheritance is particulate, not blending.
  • Inheritance is not perfect. Changes can and do happen in heritable information.
  • More organisms are produced than can be sustained under prevailing ecological conditions.
  • Those heritable variations which correlate with differential survival of organisms tend to have higher proportional representation in the population.
  • The distribution of traits in a population can be influenced by chance effects, such as population bottlenecks and sampling from a limited pool of variant.
  • Fossils are the traces of organisms that were once alive.
  • Fossil forms show that extinction of species happens. Certain fossils represent organisms common enough, large enough, and distributed in areas where if they were present through the present day could not have been overlooked.
  • Fossils are distributed in a stratigraphic pattern indicating change in fossil assemblages over time.
  • Fossil assemblages show that mass extinctions have happened at widely different times in the earth's history.
  • The canonical genetic code is consistent with the theory of common descent.
  • Patterns of differences in sequences of proteins and heritable information support the idea that these differences have accrued since the time of a last common ancestor.
  • Evolutionary interrelationships have been used to advantage in medical research.
  • The principles of natural selection have been used to advantage in computational optimization and search.
  • Species have been observed to form, both in the laboratory and in the wild.
  • A novel symbiotic association has been observed in the laboratory.


(Originally listed as examples meeting the "Patterson challenge", but it seemed that they fit this bit, too. http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199911/0050.html )

The claim that evolutionary biology is necessarily advanced via theological argumentation is simply codswallop. The only way that Hunter's argument could possibly work is if he were able to support a universal claim that every evolutionary concept, hypothesis, and theory were premised upon a theological argument. This he does not and cannot do. Instead, we are treated to instances where evolutionary biologists take up the issue of some form of creationism. It is creationism that interjects theology into the discussion. (It has been argued by Nelson that most such arguments are misguided since "theological themata" that are themselves not necessarily universal are often deployed. See my response to Nelson at http://www.asa3.org/archive/evolution/199904/0166.html ) To say that "some arguments made by evolutionary biologists have a theological component" doesn't mean that the field of evolutionary biology as a science is based upon theology; it merely means that some evolutionary biologists have taken the trouble to engage theistic antievolutionists on their own ground. The examples of argumentation given above in the comments refer not to technical work in the scientific literature, but rather to popular treatments that have a scope including the socio-political dimension that creationism inhabits. What seems to be particularly upsetting to the theistic antievolutionists is not that theology is involved, but how effective and compelling the theological argumentation deployed by those evolutionary biologists in their non-technical work is.

Evolutionary biology, as a science, does not have "theological underpinnings" as claimed by FL. There is no component that I know of that cannot be stated in a form that has no dependence upon theological doctrine. Nor do I expect FL, C.G. Hunter, or any other ID advocate to be able to provide an example of any extant component of evolutionary biology that is obligately dependent upon theology.

Date: 2004/09/17 10:21:30, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador,

I repeat: I have no need of belief in evidence of CSI according to Dembski's definitions. If CSI were claimed by Dembski's definitions, which involve working out all the parts of the EF/DI confirmed by GCEA, there would be no question of what was claimed, nor how the conclusion was drawn, and all would be open to examination and crititique.

This has not been done. I have no knowledge of a specific example that corresponds to what you are talking about, and I certainly am not convinced by mysterious private email exchanges that I am not privy to. What you describe sounds like an example of what Jeff Shallit and I referred to as the "Sloppy Chance Elimination Argument" in our paper.

It's a longstanding criticism of mine that Dembski has not made available the calculations that his public claims imply have already been accomplished (as in his 1998 "Science and Design" article in "First Things", which strongly implied that his EF/DI and GCEA had been applied to the systems labeled as IC by Michael Behe).

This latest missive of yours simply confirms that my analysis on this point has been spot-on.



Date: 2004/09/18 11:22:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This is something that I responded to on The Panda's Thumb. I'm repeating it here so that there is another channel of communication for this message to Salvador.

*****************

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

Quote

Sternberg’s professional qualifications in relevant fields, it seems, exceed even those of Gishlick, Elsberry, Matzke combined.  So I hope that will be taken into consideration in view of charges the article is substandard science.


The credentials of Sternberg don't change the content of Meyer 2004. That's pure argument by authority, and it just doesn't work in science.

The similar situation with regard to antievolutionist fascination with (mis)quotation is something I've commented upon before:

Quote

The antievolution fascination with quotations seems to stem from the anti-science mindset of "revelation": testimonial evidence reigns supreme in theology, thus many antievolutionists may mistake that condition as being the same in science. However, science has pretty much eschewed assigning any intrinsic worth to testimonial evidence. Quotations from some source are taken as being an indication that some condition as stated holds according to the reliability of the speaker, as seen by reviewing the evidence. Antievolutionists "get" the first part, but have real difficulty coming to terms with the second part. If some Expert A says X, then the antievolutionist expects that no lesser known mortal will dare gainsay Expert A's opinion on X. However, such a situation is routine in science. Anyone presenting Evidence Q that is inconsistent with X then has shown Expert A to be incorrect on X. If the person holding forth shows repeatedly that they can't be trusted to tell us correct information on, say, trilobites, then that just means that we likely don't hold any further talk on trilobites from that source in high regard.


http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/quotes/

We pointed out problems with Meyer 2004. The issue is whether our criticism stands up to scrutiny. Salvador has avoided dealing with the content of our criticism, and is apparently forced to adopt fallacious modes of argumentation to defend Meyer 2004.

I've pointed out to Salvador exactly what he needs to do to show that his boasting about the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper being the wrong citation to critique Meyer 2004 by was on track. These items are things that if I were wrong about, Salvador should quickly be able to show that I was wrong on. This is the FOURTH TIME I've entered this in response to Salvador's comments here since August 31st. I'll email them to him, too, just to eliminate any weak apologetic that he had somehow overlooked the previous presentations.

===================

(From http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html#c7223 )

[quote=Salvador T. Cordova]
In the meantime, I hope Stephen Meyers will read these reviews and learn.  I can confidently say he can ignore any challenges offered by the “Elsberry and Shallit 2003” paper.  I don’t mind you guys building your case on it though. It’ll just be that more of an embarassment to see it all collapse when that paper is refuted.
[/quote]

It doesn’t matter if “the paper” is “refuted”; what matters is whether the particular claims made are supported and true. Here are the claims again:

Quote

2. Meyer relies on Dembski’s “specified complexity,” but even if he used it correctly (by rigorously applying Dembski’s filter, criteria, and probability calculations), Dembski’s filter has never been demonstrated to be able to distinguish anything in the biological realm — it has never been successfully applied by anyone to any biological phenomena (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

3. Meyer claims, “The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or ‘complex specified information’ (CSI) of the biological world.” Yet to substantiate this, Meyer would have to yield up the details of the application of Dembski’s “generic chance elimination argument” to this event, which he does not do. There’s small wonder in that, for the total number of attempted uses of Dembski’s CSI in any even partially rigorous way number a meager four (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).


In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (2), all one has to do is produce a citation in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing a complete and correct application of Dembski’s GCEA to a biological system such that “CSI” is concluded. Thus far, I’m unaware of any such instance. The only thing that makes any moves in that direction at all is Dembski’s section 5.10 of “NFL”, and we were careful to make clear why that one was both incomplete and incorrect.

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (3), all one has to do is produce citations in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing the attempted application of Dembski’s GCEA to more than four cases. I’m unaware of any further examples that have been published, but I’m perfectly open to revising our number to account for all the instances.

Until and unless those citations are forthcoming, the braggadacio about how the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper can be safely ignored seems somewhat out of place.

=====

I posted that on August 31st. As far as I can tell, neither Salvador nor any other ID advocate has made the slightest headway in showing that I was inaccurate in either claim made above. Salvador has taken up an aggressive grandstanding technique, though I think that it is obvious to all that there is little to no substance as yet to back it up. If I were wrong on the two points above, it seems to me that it would be simplicity itself for some ID advocate to show that I was wrong, and I would have expected that to happen already. I predict that what I've written here will again disappear into the ID memory hole of inconveniently true criticisms.

If I'm wrong here, though, I'm willing both to take my lumps and acknowledge whoever it is that shows me to be wrong. I'm still waiting for the documentation. I suspect I will wait a long, long time.



Date: 2004/09/20 02:54:22, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

Quote

The NCSE website links to that thread. I believe Wesley couldn't tolerate the very embarassing data I provided about Sternberg and the flaws in Elsberry's paper.

I have long suspected the guys over there can't deal with direct scientific debate but rather rely on misrepresentation, strawmen, and ad hominem.


(Source: http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=12;t=001289 , "Darwinist Censorship at PandasThumb.org" )

The fact is that every post to Panda's Thumb that Salvador has ever made is still on Panda's Thumb. Several of the off-topic ones now grace "The Bathroom Wall", but they are still there. There is no censorship of Salvador, and in fact I've taken the time to respond to some of Salvador's persistent claims in this very thread, as well as in threads on Panda's Thumb.

I've asked Salvador to provide the basis for his claim that my citation of E&S 2003 on two points of critique on Meyer 2004 is a bad move. I've been asking for that since August 31st. (See the page before this one in the thread here.) Salvador has studiously avoided that discussion. In this case, I am the one who has consistently pursued "direct scientific debate" and Salvador the one who has taken to "misrepresentation, strawmen, and ad hominem".

As far as I am concerned, there is no "conversation" possible at this point with Salvador. At least, until Salvador takes responsibility for his false and malicious claim concerning "censorship" by me and addresses the specific points I raised in criticism of Meyer 2004 where I cited E&S 2003, I don't expect to engage Salvador on much of anything.

Date: 2004/09/20 14:04:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
With respect to Salvador's responses to the points made against Meyer 2004, there's loads of hand-waving but absolutely no citations of work that would support setting aside our critique. It doesn't matter what may be done in the future; what matters is that Meyer's reliance upon CSI at the time he wrote his paper (and at the time we wrote ours) was based on ... nothing. No successful calculations showing CSI for any event whatsoever. It's still true today, AFAICT, but the challenge to Salvador is to show that we were wrong in 2003, not we might be wrong in 2753. And ... Salvador's still blowin' smoke.

Date: 2004/09/22 15:39:25, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
My email to Salvador

Over on ISCID, Salvador says:

Quote

The co-author, Wesley Elsberry, having seen my writings at ARN personally requested I discuss his paper at his website antievolution.org


To help others understand how these things come about, herewith are my emails to Salvador of 2003/12/07 and 08:

Quote


Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 14:23:13 -0600 (CST)
From: "Wesley R. Elsberry" <welsberr@vangogh.fdisk.net>
Message-Id: <200312072023.hB7KNDCO018697@vangogh.fdisk.net>
To: [EMAIL=_@hotmail.com[/EMAIL]
Subject: TSPGRID
Cc: welsberr@vangogh.fdisk.net
Reply-To: welsberr@onlinezoologists.com


Thanks for your recent comments on the TSPGRID algorithm. I think, though, that you did not read our description of the TSPGRID algorithm carefully. Please see my response at
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin....=2;t=78

Wesley


Quote

Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 14:23:13 -0600 (CST)
From: "Wesley R. Elsberry" <welsberr@vangogh.fdisk.net>
Message-Id: <200312072023.hB7KNDCO018697@vangogh.fdisk.net>
To: _@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: TSPGRID
Cc: welsberr@vangogh.fdisk.net
Reply-To: welsberr@onlinezoologists.com

Thanks for the response. I've responded as well in the AE thread.

I expect criticisms to come with pointy ends. We stated our own criticisms without much in the way of sugar-coating. I think Mayr said it once that he wrote his stuff in the mode of dialectic: thesis, expected antithesis, and to be hoped for synthesis. It seems a reasonable way to get to where we can be sure of arguments.

Wesley




Date: 2004/09/25 09:53:22, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Denyse O'Leary Calls Critics of ID "Brownshirts"

Quote

All you who value freedom of thought, try to make the time to go to Center for Science and Culture and read Meyer's paper. Read it and pass it on, before today's intellectual brownshirts find some way to stop you.


Just to be sure that everyone is on the same page, "brownshirts" is an allusion to some of the most vicious of the Nazis.

Quote

Hitler’s Nazi party (its official full name was National Socialist German Workers Party) had several militarized wings. One of them (often referred to as Brown Shirts) was the SA (Sturm Abteilungen, i.e. “Storm Detachments”) notorious for vicious violence against the Party’s adversaries; it was prominent in the early years of the Nazi’s rise to power; its members are properly called stormtroopers. Many of them, including their chief Ernst Röhm, who could become a potential rival to Hitler, were murdered on Hitler’s order in 1934.

(Source: HOW INTELLIGENT DESIGN ADVOCATES TURN THE SORDID LESSONS FROM SOVIET AND NAZI HISTORY UPSIDE DOWN)

I offered to make Meyer's paper available via my server as of August 28th, 2003:

Quote

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 28, 2004 12:10 AM

One wonders at the confidence of the DI CSC… they “trust” that readers will find Dr. Meyer’s paper more persuasive and more substantive than our critique, yet one will note, as Nick did, that they fail to provide a direct link to the critique. Hmmm.

We have no problem linking to their page. On the contrary, I’ve long been an advocate of disseminating the work of antievolutionists. That material makes the very best argument for antievolution being a pseudoscience. (This goes back years to when I ran a BBS system and offered various creationist essays in addition to the scientific responses.) I just posted the DI link for the Meyer 2004 paper on the Antievolution.org discussion board, and I would be willing to host an unaltered copy of the DI page on Meyer 2004 on the AE site if the DI CSC is willing to give permission for me to do so.


(Source: Comment on "Meyer's Hopeless Monster")

Date: 2004/09/26 01:21:59, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Try Gross and Levitt's "Higher Superstition" as a rebuttal to various postmodernist claims about science, including evolutionary biology.

Date: 2004/11/21 22:30:13, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The "Powerpoint" radio show from Atlanta, Georgia this evening was about evolution and "intelligent design". The guests included Barbara Forrest, Casey Luskin, David Schwimmer, and John Calvert. It was an interesting discussion, to say the least.

I called in to make a comment, in response to an assertion by John Calvert that "intelligent design theory" was being used in science, referencing "design detection" methods in archeology and life sciences.

My response:

Quote


I'm a theist who is a critic of the claims of "intelligent design" advocates. I'd like to focus on the claim made by Dr. Calvert that ID has theoretical content, and that the design detection methods of ID are being applied in science. Briefly, design detection in ID refers to the concept of "complex specified information" expounded by William Dembski. However, Dembski has never shown the full and successful application of his concept to any phenomenon whatsoever. No one else has, either. Dembski's design detection method is both incoherent and unworkable. It is of no value to science. This is detailed in the recent book, Why Intelligent Design Fails.



I started off the way I did because Calvert was doing his best to cast this as a "theists vs. atheists" sort of issue.

What was instructive was the response from the ID advocates, Calvert and Luskin.

Calvert asserted that biochemists assume design in trying to "reverse engineer" biological systems, and thus are using "design detection" without giving ID the proper credit for what they are doing. This is, of course, so much flapdoodle. What biochemists assume has nothing to do with intervening disembodied designers and everything to do with evolutionary processes constrained by the environment. It also overlooks identifying exactly what process of "design detection" proposed by ID advocates has been unfairly denied credit... which is explicable on the view that there is no such process to be credited.

Luskin simply asserted that I was wrong, and that Dembski had applied his concept of CSI, notably to the E. coli flagellum in the pages of Dembski's book, No Free Lunch. I'm not sure what to make of this, because I'm pretty sure that Casey and I discussed Dembski's failed methodology before. In any case, Dembski failed to fully apply his "generic chance elimination argument" to the E. coli flagellum. First, Dembski failed to give a specification for the flagellum. Second, Dembski failed to eliminate any evolutionary hypothesis of origin for the E. coli flagellum. The single hypothesis Dembski considered was one of random assembly, a thoroughly non-evolutionary proposition.

It does show the advantage to being a guest on a show, since any sort of nonsense may be spouted with little threat of exposure. [...] I do appreciate that Barbara Forrest did note that Dembski's work, including No Free Lunch, has been extensively debunked.

For those who still think Dembski's CSI has something going for it, check out this article by myself and Jeff Shallit.



Date: 2004/12/06 13:16:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Over on Ed Brayton's blog, an unnamed ID advocate was trying to claim that convergence, such as that seen between placental wolves and thylacines, posed a problem for evolution. Here's my response:

I'm not sure what the placental/marsupial wolf example is supposed to show as a criticism of evolution. Is it really unreasonable that the niche of "terrestrial cursorial quadruped predator" would be filled in two different lineages?

It's certain that the similarities are less "uncanny" than current antievolutionists would make them. You don't have to be an anatomist to recognize that the skulls of the two have very different shapes of bones and (of course, when talking about mammals) dentition. Yet, as recently as a conference in 2002 (IIRC), we had the spectacle of an antievolutionist opining that the two were indistingishable -- and presenting two illustrations of these animals to buttress the point. The funny thing was that it was apparent right off the bat to me that the pair were actually the very SAME illustration, with one of them flipped left to right and colorized.

A nice page with comparison of the thylacine and wolf skulls and dentition is at http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/index.htm

Note the differences in neural foramina between the two.

Date: 2004/12/06 22:07:15, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Dover, Pennsylvania school board has adopted a policy concerning the teaching of evolution.

Quote

The Science Department teachers researched and recommended to the administration the science book, Biology (Prentice Hall) as the textbook for our High School Biology class.  The Dover Area School District adopted, approved, and purchased 220 copies of the teacher-and administration-recommended book.

The district also received as a donation 60 copies of Of Pandas and People and the book is now listed as a reference book in the curriculum.  It is not a required text, but in an effort to present a balanced curriculum the book is made available to all students who wish to review the book.

The Biology curriculum was also updated to include the following statement:

“Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to Intelligent Design. The Origins of Life is not taught.”

The Assistant Superintendent in charge of curriculum development, Mr. Baksa, in coordination with the Science department teachers, the district solicitor, and the School Board has developed the following procedural statement to use in implementing the new Biology curriculum language.  The following will be read to all students:

         “The state standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

         Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered.  The Theory is not a fact.  Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence.  A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

         Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view.  The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.  As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

         The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to individual students and their families.  As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments.”



(Source: http://www.dover.k12.pa.us/doversd/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=261852 , as of 2004/11/19)

Date: 2004/12/14 19:01:16, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Lawsuit!

Lots of action today in the Dover, PA situation.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and Pepper Hamilton LLP filed suit on behalf of several Dover area parents (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District):
http://www.aclu.org/Files/OpenFile.cfm?id=17202

A York Daily Record article on the lawsuit:
http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/52530/

The Discovery Institute hopes a press release will get them out of this mess:
http://www.discovery.org/scripts....%20News

ACLU site on the case:
http://www.aclu.org/Religio....4&c=139

National Center for Science Education summary of Pennsylvania action:
http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=PA

National Center for Science Education resources on Of Pandas and People:
http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=21

Date: 2005/01/13 21:14:35, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Use this thread for comments on the article at Panda's Thumb.

Date: 2005/01/17 13:26:02, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Trackback Removal Pool

When will the PT trackback to the DI blog article disappear? I'll take 9:30 AM, 2005/01/18.

Wesley

Date: 2005/01/20 12:46:51, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Well, both trackbacks are still up over at the DI blog. I congratulate the DI on choosing to permit people to see both sides of this "controversy". This is a clear improvement over earlier articles that removed both critical comments and trackbacks.

Wesley

Date: 2005/01/21 01:17:35, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Startling coincidence.

It seems entirely ass-backwards that in our society the entertainer is the fellow who overwhelmingly has the name recognition, not the paleontologist.

Date: 2005/01/22 10:40:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Ok there is your assertion, but once again I have to ask where is your support?   You have yet to show that those calculations have not been done correctly.


The M/N ratio calculation is off by 65 orders of magnitude.
See http://www.antievolution.org/features/fimpcalc.php

There are manifold problems with Dembski's supposed example of use of his "explanatory filter/design inference". See http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/papers/eandsdembski.pdf

Date: 2005/01/26 13:24:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Use this thread for comments on the Panda's Thumb post.

Date: 2005/01/26 17:00:42, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I really like the way that Morris notes the continuity of content from SciCre through ID. "Evidence against evolution" or "Teach the controversy" is the same stuff with a bit more Wite-Out applied.

Date: 2005/01/31 20:54:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Re: The Holocaust and Evolution

(A comment at http://www.theconservativevoice.com/modules....ent2132 in response to the opinion piece by AiG's Jonathan Sarfati.)

I've long held that propagandists use whatever is convenient to advance their agenda. In Hitler's case, it is apparent that he claimed both a divine calling in his genocidal program, as well as pragmatics to influence the intelligentsia.

In this regard, one should expect that a propagandist of whatever stripe will inappropriately utilize whatever concepts have widespread currency in the target culture. The issue is not whether a propagandist makes reference to a concept, since such a person will do or say whatever will render others more likely to give them assistance or assent. That a concept is widespread is enough to make it likely for a propagandist to usurp it to his own ends. The issue, then, is whether adherence to some conceptual framework compels a particular course of action.

It is clear that accepting the concepts of evolutionary biology does not compel genocidal behavior. Nor does it compel fascism, communism, or robber-baron style Social Darwinism. (If it did compel behavior of some sort, only one of the options would be engaged, not some opting for A, others for B, and still others for options C through Z.)

Antievolution advocates know they have no chance of showing compelled human behavior stemming from evolutionary biology. Instead, they concentrate upon hints and allegations that evolutionary biology was mentioned by history's villains, or was discussed by them, or even that they must have been taught the concepts and therefore influenced in some malign fashion. While antieovlutionists will readily recognize that Hitler and the Nazi leadership's use of Christian rhetoric and references in their public speeches and writings are belied by their actions, the antievolutionists seem not to recognize that Nazi invocation of recognizable scientific concepts has no more reliability as an indication of causal influence.

While Sir Arthur Keith's views on Hitler and Darwinism are a staple of antievolutionist screeds, it is my opinion that Keith was simply mistaken in his analysis of Hitler. Even a cursory reading of Hitler's own output shows far more familiarity and reliance upon scriptural sources than any esoteric realm of scientific endeavor. The passages in Mein Kampf that are offered as evidence of Hitler's adherence to Darwinian principles are invariably weak allusions which would require nothing more than listening to overheard conversations in a cafe for buzzphrases to spice up a speech or passage, not nuanced arguments showing any depth of acquaintance with biological practice. Hitler and his band of fellow propagandists did what dissembling dictators and sycophants have always done, which was to try to bind the people to them through rhetoric. And, as dissemblers past, present, and future will show, that is done by referring to concepts that are known to the people and spinning a tale that suits their ends.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Further reading:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA006_1.html

http://www.stcynic.com/blog....omments

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm

http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/evc/argresp/hitler.faq

http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/evc/argresp/hitler.add

Examples of invidious comparisons by antievolutionists:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin....f=9;t=1

Date: 2005/02/06 06:59:48, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Richard von Sternberg has this to say about his own stance on antievolutionary issues:

Quote

Although it is irritating to have to respond to ad hominem arguments rather than arguments on the issues, I will state for the record that I do not accept the claims of young-earth creationism. Rather, I am a process structuralist.

(Ref: Sternberg's home page)


This is a remarkably unhelpful statement. There are lots of ways of being an antievolutionist and creationist; young-earth creationist is just one, and "process structuralism" doesn't do much in the way of refining where Sternberg's personal views lie.

Under a linked article outlining "process structuralism", Sternberg offers some further information on his personal viewpoint.

Quote

I subscribe to a school of biological thought often termed “process structuralism.” Process or biological structuralism is concerned with understanding the formal, generative rules underlying organic forms, and focuses on the system architectures of organisms and their interrelationships. Structuralist analysis is generally ahistorical, systems-oriented, and non-evolutionary (not anti-evolutionary). Both creationism and neo-Darwinism are, in contrast, emphatically historicist with one positing extreme polyphyly (de novo creation of species) and the other radical monophyly (common descent). Since the structuralist perspective runs somewhat perpendicular to the origins debate, creationists and evolutionists tend to see it as inimical to their positions. The truth is structuralism has little at stake in the origins issue, leaving a person like myself free to dialogue with all parties. For this reason, I frequently discourse with ultra-Darwinians, macromutationists, self-organization theorists, complexity theorists, intelligent design advocates, theistic evolutionists, and young-earth creationists without necessarily agreeing with any of their views.

Structuralism does, however, provide an important perspective on the origins debate. Structuralists' lack of commitment to an historical theory of biology allows them to explore the historical evidence more objectively. Moreover, because they focus on formal analysis, struturalists are far more open than neo-Darwinians to the powerful evidence for continuity within species (forms) and discontinuity between and among species. They also allow themselves to wonder about the cause of the amazing repetition of forms across the biological world rather than being forced by prior commitments to accept a major neo-Darwinian epicycle known as "convergent evolution."

(Ref: Sternberg's page on process structuralism)


Process structuralism is an anti-Darwinian view, though not necessarily antievolutionary. The second paragraph of Sternberg's prose briefly notes, though, that Sternberg's process structuralism is "open" to common descent being false.

Sternberg says in the above that he has discourse with people of various viewpoints, both evolutionary and anti-evolutionary. What I am interested in, though, is what Sternberg's actions tell us rather than simply relying on Sternberg's words.

This thread is for gathering together information on what Sternberg has done that bears upon antievolution. People have limited time and energy to spend during their lives, and how they choose to spend it tells you something about them that is far more informative than the content of what they might say about themselves. For example, I received email from someone saying that Jonathan Wells had advocated Darwinian evolution and common descent earlier in his career. I asked for some documentation or references to where I could see this advocacy for myself and my correspondent stopped corresponding. In Wells's case, his current antievolutionary advocacy is easy to find and his earlier alleged advocacy of evolutionary biology is apparently difficult or impossible to find.

Date: 2005/02/06 07:31:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
ARN Bulletin Board Moderation

For a group whose leadership gets mileage out of claims of "censorship", the ARN Bulletin Board moderators seem to be awfully thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.

There have been a flurry of "bannings" of "intelligent design" critics on  the ARN BB. Apparently, the tactic of choice is to remove privileges without removing the member ID, which means that (1) the affected member cannot post nor communicate via "personal message" with the moderators and (2) to other members, it simply appears that the affected member has merely stopped posting voluntarily.

It would be unfair to call the ARN BB moderaton practices a "Mickey Mouse operation". After all, the Disney corporation is a world-wide conglomerate whose operations are nothing if not professional. That certainly isn't the reputation that the ARN BB moderators are making for themselves.

The heavy-handed tactics at the ARN BB simply reflect the insecurity and brittleness of "intelligent design" advocacy on the whole. Having abandoned reasoned attempts at making a positive empirical case for design, the "intelligent design" advocates are left with a rickety facade on an empty paradigm. Expect more "viewpoint discrimination" from "intelligent design" advocates wherever they hold administrative abilities to silence critics or remove what those critics say.

Date: 2005/02/06 13:04:23, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
ARN commentary by Mike Gene

Speaking of reaching for overarching conclusions, we have Mike Gene weighing in on the Gishlick, Matzke, and Elsberry critique with the following text:

"Mike Gene" wrote:

Quote

Can someone link to a place where Art wrote, "Hmm... a blog article by opiniated bloggers, based entirely on a couple of vague associations. Maybe we had better wait for all of the facts before we comment."


"Mike" was seeking to make an analogy between David Klinghoffer's opinion piece on a complaint by Rick Sternberg and our critique of Meyer's paper. It is a fact that Klinghoffer relied upon what Sternberg offered in his complaint and talks with Sternberg; he failed to make contact with any other party who might have offered a different view of events before publishing his opinion piece.

On the other hand, our critique quite often pointed out very specific failings in Meyer's paper. Since "Mike"s analogy folds up like a cheap umbrella in a windstorm if there is any point within the critique that is NOT "based entirely on a couple of vague associations", one may well ask what was "vague" or even "associative" about the following?

Quote

4. Meyer makes the false claim that genetic algorithms require a “target sequence” to work. Meyer cites two of his own articles as the relevant authority in this matter. However, when one examines these sources, one finds that what is cited in both of these earlier essays is a block of three paragraphs, the content of which is almost identical in the two essays. Meyer bases his denunciation of genetic algorithms as a field upon a superficial examination of two cases. While some genetic algorithm simulations for pedagogy do incorporate a “target sequence”, it is utterly false to say that all genetic algorithms do so. Meyer was in attendance at the NTSE in 1997 when one of us [WRE] brought up a genetic algorithm to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem, which was an example where no “target sequence” was available.  Whole fields of evolutionary computation are completely overlooked by Meyer. Two citations relevant to Meyer’s claims are Chellapilla and Fogel (2001) and Stanley and Miikkulainen (2002). (That Meyer overlooks Chelapilla and Fogel 2001 is even more baffling given that Dembski 2002 discussed the work.) Bibliographies for the entirely neglected fields of artificial life and genetic programming are available at these sites:

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econec/alife.html
http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~wbl/biblio/gp-bibliography.html.

A bibliography of genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks is available here.



A specific claim of Meyer's was therein rebutted on empirical, scholarly, and testimonial evidence. The evolutionary computation systems cited do exist (his fellow ID advocate discussed them), there is a large literature that Meyer had to completely ignore to make his false claim, and Meyer is known to have been present when such an example was discussed at a conference.

Date: 2005/02/06 21:27:46, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The "Forbidden URL"?

Salvador Cordova has been saying some unkind things about me over on ARN. Part of what he's saying is that I can't stand for people to know about a thread on the ISCID bulletin board that he has concerning comments on Elsberry and Shallit 2003. Salvador has taken to calling it "the Forbidden URL".

I'm not sure why, precisely, Salvador wants to do this. In some places, Salvador boasts that I "personally requested" his commentary on our paper. (See above for a response as to how "personal" my communication was.) Elsewhere, Salvador wishes to assert that I instead must somehow "censor" his commentary. Given that we've covered pretty much all of the ground that Salvador has on ISCID here in this thread and I have neither posting privileges nor "censoring" privileges there, I don't see much point in belaboring my points. If people can't see through the rather sophomoric posturing Salvador engages in ("To write a paper to refute CSI and not include the most central definition of CSI is inexecusable", when we extensively critiqued the mathematics that instantiate CSI according to Dembski, for instance), I don't know that further discussion on my part will do much to correct the situation.

As for "censorship" on the Panda's Thumb weblog, I don't believe that I've ever deleted a comment by Salvador. I did move several off-topic comments entered by Salvador to "the Bathroom Wall" thread, which is PT's place for miscellany. I've moved some of my own posts there, so I certainly do not concur with Salvador that this constitutes "censorship".

In any case, "the Forbidden URL" isn't so much "forbidden" as it is irrelevant to the various threads that Salvador posted to on PT, redundant to the present thread here, and inaccessible to me for responses in any case. (Not that I have any great desire to post on ISCID. This BB is perfectly fine, and I have the added benefit of knowing that my posts won't just happen to disappear here.) Which makes the claim of "censorship" on my part ring somewhat hollow, I think.

Date: 2005/02/06 22:04:41, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Salvador and the Meyer paper

Here's something from the comments at PT that I'd like to remind Salvador of. If his claims were correct, he should have been able to demonstrate that convincingly a long time ago. His silence has been eloquent.


=== http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000484.html#c7763 ===

Salvador T. Cordova:

Quote

Sternberg’s professional qualifications in relevant fields, it seems, exceed even those of Gishlick, Elsberry, Matzke combined.  So I hope that will be taken into consideration in view of charges the article is substandard science.


The credentials of Sternberg don't change the content of Meyer 2004. That's pure argument by authority, and it just doesn't work in science.

The similar situation with regard to antievolutionist fascination with (mis)quotation is something I've commented upon before:

Quote

The antievolution fascination with quotations seems to stem from the anti-science mindset of "revelation": testimonial evidence reigns supreme in theology, thus many antievolutionists may mistake that condition as being the same in science. However, science has pretty much eschewed assigning any intrinsic worth to testimonial evidence. Quotations from some source are taken as being an indication that some condition as stated holds according to the reliability of the speaker, as seen by reviewing the evidence. Antievolutionists "get" the first part, but have real difficulty coming to terms with the second part. If some Expert A says X, then the antievolutionist expects that no lesser known mortal will dare gainsay Expert A's opinion on X. However, such a situation is routine in science. Anyone presenting Evidence Q that is inconsistent with X then has shown Expert A to be incorrect on X. If the person holding forth shows repeatedly that they can't be trusted to tell us correct information on, say, trilobites, then that just means that we likely don't hold any further talk on trilobites from that source in high regard.


http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/quotes/

We pointed out problems with Meyer 2004. The issue is whether our criticism stands up to scrutiny. Salvador has avoided dealing with the content of our criticism, and is apparently forced to adopt fallacious modes of argumentation to defend Meyer 2004.

I've pointed out to Salvador exactly what he needs to do to show that his boasting about the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper being the wrong citation to critique Meyer 2004 by was on track. These items are things that if I were wrong about, Salvador should quickly be able to show that I was wrong on. This is the FOURTH TIME I've entered this in response to Salvador's comments here since August 31st. I'll email them to him, too, just to eliminate any weak apologetic that he had somehow overlooked the previous presentations.

===================

(From http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html#c7223 )

Salvador T. Cordova:
Quote

In the meantime, I hope Stephen Meyers will read these reviews and learn.  I can confidently say he can ignore any challenges offered by the “Elsberry and Shallit 2003” paper.  I don’t mind you guys building your case on it though. It’ll just be that more of an embarassment to see it all collapse when that paper is refuted.


It doesn’t matter if “the paper” is “refuted”; what matters is whether the particular claims made are supported and true. Here are the claims again:

Quote

2. Meyer relies on Dembski’s “specified complexity,” but even if he used it correctly (by rigorously applying Dembski’s filter, criteria, and probability calculations), Dembski’s filter has never been demonstrated to be able to distinguish anything in the biological realm — it has never been successfully applied by anyone to any biological phenomena (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

3. Meyer claims, “The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or ‘complex specified information’ (CSI) of the biological world.” Yet to substantiate this, Meyer would have to yield up the details of the application of Dembski’s “generic chance elimination argument” to this event, which he does not do. There’s small wonder in that, for the total number of attempted uses of Dembski’s CSI in any even partially rigorous way number a meager four (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).


In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (2), all one has to do is produce a citation in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing a complete and correct application of Dembski’s GCEA to a biological system such that “CSI” is concluded. Thus far, I’m unaware of any such instance. The only thing that makes any moves in that direction at all is Dembski’s section 5.10 of “NFL”, and we were careful to make clear why that one was both incomplete and incorrect.

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (3), all one has to do is produce citations in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing the attempted application of Dembski’s GCEA to more than four cases. I’m unaware of any further examples that have been published, but I’m perfectly open to revising our number to account for all the instances.

Until and unless those citations are forthcoming, the braggadacio about how the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper can be safely ignored seems somewhat out of place.

=====

I posted that on August 31st. As far as I can tell, neither Salvador nor any other ID advocate has made the slightest headway in showing that I was inaccurate in either claim made above. Salvador has taken up an aggressive grandstanding technique, though I think that it is obvious to all that there is little to no substance as yet to back it up. If I were wrong on the two points above, it seems to me that it would be simplicity itself for some ID advocate to show that I was wrong, and I would have expected that to happen already. I predict that what I've written here will again disappear into the ID memory hole of inconveniently true criticisms.

If I'm wrong here, though, I'm willing both to take my lumps and acknowledge whoever it is that shows me to be wrong. I'm still waiting for the documentation. I suspect I will wait a long, long time.



Date: 2005/02/06 22:43:54, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Some instances of Sternberg's interactions

Given that Sternberg indicates that he has "discourse" with people on all sides of the issues, one might expect that his time and effort would be more or less evenly distributed across those viewpoints. You know, a period spent in the leadership of some atheist materialist group here, editing a skeptical magazine there, giving talks about how criticism of the faults of "intelligent design" was well-founded here and there... as well as the instances of interaction with antievolution given below. However, I don't seem to be coming up with much along those lines. Anyway, here are the bits of antievolution involvement for Richard von Sternberg, the ones that are publicly available.

The Baraminology Study Group

Sternberg holds a position on the BSG's editorial board. Sternberg has a letter on his website from Todd Charles Wood that is careful to say that Sternberg's involvement is despite his not agreeing with the young-earth creationist position. (As mentioned before, not believing in man-walking-and-talking-with-dinosaurs, a global flood, and a less-than-20,000-year-old earth still leaves a lot of creationist and antievolutionist terrain.)

But Sternberg's involvement with "baraminology" goes beyond simply agreeing to provide constructive criticism, as Wood's letter's implies. Sternberg is also involved in legitimizing the analysis methods that the BSG favors, specifically "analysis of pattern" or "ANOPA".

Quote

Cavanaugh, D.P. & R. v. Sternberg (2004). Analysis of morphological groupings using ANOPA, a pattern recognition and multivariate statistical method: a case Study involving centrarchid fishes. J. Biol. Systems 12: 137-167.


Note also Wood's reference to his introduction to Sternberg being via email. One wonders what email list would bring together such disparate people. The "phylogenist" list makes for a simple hypothesis about this, as an antievolution/"intelligent design" closed list.

Date: 2005/02/07 11:30:41, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Actually, I don't think that Dembski means that his calculations are sloppy. He will say that he doesn't include his works in "the creationist literature". We still have to point out that his "calculation" for the E. coli flagellum is incomplete (according to Dembski's own statements of what components make up the use of the GCEA) and incorrect. But I'm quite comfy in stating that.



Date: 2005/02/08 06:21:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Complaints by Salvador Cordova

I posted a comment to the Bathroom Wall on PT that included a link to Salvador's supposedly "Forbidden URL". Salvador made this comment on ARN:

Quote

Thanks Wes for linking to my thread from the bathroom wall of PT where no else will read.


It is a certainty that Salvador made this comment in ignorance. He has no information about the relative popularity of pages at PT. And that leads to an amusing circumstance.

Salvador noted a particular post of his that had been moved to the Bathroom Wall from a thread.

Quote

Well why wouldn't one think so. PvM opens a thread, posts my name on it, I respond, and he deletes the thread to the bathroom wall to where few will even read and where the post is out of place.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000525.html#c10599


That was in response to :
http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000602.html

My response was perfectly relevent. He deleted it. His pre-rogative, and my pre-rogative to complain.


In fact, the opening post by Pim does not mention Salvador by name. Salvador is mentioned in the comments that followed that post. I'm afraid I'm not seeing how the comment Salvador lists is relevant to Pim's opening post. In fact, Salvador's comment was not deleted; it was moved to a thread where it was not off-topic. It should be noted that despite Salvador's claims that any mention of "the Forbidden URL" was moved to the Bathroom Wall, we have this comment of Salvador's within the thread he was complaining about being shut out of.

So I looked at the logs, and here is what I found. The Icons of ID: Argument from Ignorance and other logical fallacies article has been accessed 1,385 times. The Bathroom Wall where Salvador's comment was moved to has been accessed 4,443 times. Salvador is complaining about having his comment moved to a page that was accessed more than three times as often. It seems to me that 4,443 accesses is rather a lot of "no one else" having a read.

It's reassuring to have an antievolutionist shoot himself in the foot so convincingly. Perhaps the wages of ignorance are, sometimes, a public faux pas of this grand scale.



Date: 2005/02/09 10:35:54, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
REVIEW OF PBS' FIRING LINE CREATION/EVOLUTION DEBATE

John Forester provides detailed notes on the Firing Line debate.

Quote

 This two-hour debate was presented on the Public Broadcasting System program
Firing Line in December, 1997. The moderator was Michael Kingsley.

 For the proposition that evolutionists should acknowledge creation were:
 William F. Buckley, Jr., conservative author
 Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry
 Philip E. Johnson, professor of law
 David Berlinskey, writer on mathematics and religion.

 Against the proposition were:
 Barry Lynn, minister and attorney, director of American's United for
 Separation of Church and State.
 Eugenie Scott, anthropologist, CSICOP fellow and director of Center for
Science Education
 Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy
 Kenneth Miller, professor in cell biology.


Transcript of the debate

On an antievolution site, with some graphics added.

Date: 2005/02/09 13:13:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I think this definitely has potential as a strategy, Lenny. I will see what some of the legal minds think about this.

Date: 2005/03/02 11:25:27, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
BY DESIGN? Politely, experts debate creationism and its teaching


Quote

The ruckus that has brought national attention to Dover schools shifted to Elizabethtown College yesterday for a day of polite debate on a divisive topic.

At issue is the concept of intelligent design, which says the complexity of life is scientific evidence of a creator. It's the latest battleground in America's fight over the teaching of evolution.

[...]

Yesterday's day-long forum was organized by the college's Center for Science and Religion. Director Michael Silberstein said "hundreds and hundreds" of people inquired about the forum -- including church groups, professors, science students and teachers from public and Christian schools, nearby and in neighboring states. The college arranged for shuttle buses from distant parking areas.


They had several matchups. Michael Behe (ID advocate) debated Niall Shanks (ID critic). David Martin debated John Haught on the theology of ID. Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center debated Witold Walczak of the ACLU.

If anyone spots a transcript, let me know.

Date: 2005/03/20 10:19:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for discussion of the Panda's Thumb post on this topic.

Date: 2005/03/20 14:50:33, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Well, hopefully the lawyers suing the school district will make a good attempt to tie up all of the antievolution espoused by the Dover School District into a package that all gets ruled against. That would cover more than just Of Pandas and People.

Any signs of when The Design of Life (aka Of Pandas and People Third Edition) might hit the presses? Dembski posted stuff from it last year; those excerpts don't look like a big advance over the original.

Date: 2005/03/28 16:34:47, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Use this thread to discuss the PT post.

Date: 2005/03/28 17:43:13, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
The Life Science Prize of Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo and Karl Priest is what is being hyped.

I'm a little miffed that it took them this long to notice me.

Date: 2005/03/28 18:22:52, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I think Roger Cuffey's discussion of transitional fossils is a good starting place. He has an online version of his 1974 paper (scanned, apparently), and this is the section that gives four classes of transitional sequences.

Quote


Although the broad patterns and many details in the history of life are well known, many other details remain to be learned. Because of the unevenness of our knowledge, therefore, we can conveniently distinguish several different types of transitional-fossil situations. Let us consider these now, starting with that situation where our knowledge is most complete, and proceeding through situations in which knowledge is progressively less complete.
First, some groups have been so thoroughly studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break (Table 1), sometimes linking several successive species which cross from one higher taxon into another (Table 2). We can say that situations of this kind display transitional individuals. Among the many available examples of transitional individuals, some particularly convincing examples can be noted.

These involve:

   corals (Carruthers, 1910, p. 529, 538; Easton, 1960, p. 175; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 140; Weller, 1969, p. 123),
   gastropods (Fisher, Rodda, & Dietrieh, 1964),
   pelecypods (Kauffman, 1967; Kauffman, 1969, p. N198-200; Kauffman, 1970, p. 633),
   echinoids (Beerbower, 1968, p. 136, 138; Kermack, 1954; Nichols, 19S9a, 1959h; Olson, 1965, p. 98; Rowe, 1899).

Second, other fossil groups have been well enough studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils comprising a series of chronologically successive species grading from an early form to a later form (Table 3), again sometimes crossing boundaries separating different higher taxa (Table 4). This type of situation can be termed successive species. Published descriptions of successive species lack explicit discussion of individuals transitional between the species, although frequently such exist in the author's collection but are not discussed because they are not directly pertinent to his purposes. Again, some especially persuasive examples of successive species can he seen, among:

   foraminiferons (Wilde, 1971, p. 376),
   brachiopods (Greiner, 1957; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 124),
   pelecypods (llastoo, 1960, p. 348; Kay & Colbert, 1965, p. 327; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 447; Newell, 1942, p. 21, 42, 47-48, 51-52, 60, 63, 65; Olson, 1965, p. 97; Stenzel, 1949; Stenzel, 1971, p. N1079-1080; Weller, 1969, p. 209),
   ammonoids (Cobhan, 1961, is. 740-741).

In many fossil groups, our understanding is relatively less complete, thus giving rise to a third type of situation which we can label successive higher taxa. Here, we may not have complete series of transitional individuals or successive species, but the genera (or other higher taxa) represented in our collections form a continuous series grading from an earlier to a later form, sometimes crossing from one higher-rank taxon into another (Table 5). Because genera are relatively restricted in scope, many series of successive genera have been published. However, families and higherrank higher taxa are so broad in concept that they are not usually used to construct transitional-fossil sequences, although occasionally they are (Bulman, 1970, p. V103-104; Easton, 1960, p. 436; Flower & Kummel, 1950, p. 607).

Finally, in some fossil groups, our knowledge is quite fragmentary and sparse. We then may know of particular fossils which are strikingly intermediate between two relatively high-rank higher taxa, but which are not yet connected to either by a more continuous series of successive species or transitional individuals. We can refer to these as isolated intermediates, a fourth type of situation involving transitional fossils, a type which represents our least-complete state of knowledge.
Isolated intermediates include some of the most famous and spectacular transitional fossils known, such as Archaeopteryx (Colbert, 1969, p. 186-189; Romer, 1966, p. 166-167). This form is almost exactly intermediate between the classes Reptilia and Ayes (Cuffey, 1971a, p. 159; Cuffey, 1972, p. 36), so much so that "the question of whether Archaeopteryx is a bird or a reptile is unimportant. Both viewpoints can be defended with equal justification" (Brouwes, 1967, p. 161). The fossil onychophorans (Moore, 1959, p. 019; Olson, 1965, p. 190) and the fossil monoplacophorans (Knight & Yochelson, 1960, p. 177-83; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 308-309) have been regarded as annelidarthropod and annelid-mollusk inter-phylum intcrsnediates, respectively. Moreover, although invertebrate phylum origins tend to be obscure for several reasons (Olson, 1965, p. 209-211), recently discovered, Late Precambrian, soft-bodied invertebrate fossils may well alter that situation, particularly after certain peculiar forms are studied and compared with Early Cambrian forms (Kay & Colbert, 1965, p. 99, 103; Weller, 1969, p. 247).

Mention of this last prompts me to point out parenthetically that the appearance of shelled invertebrates at the beginning of the Cambrian has been widely misunderstood. The assertion is frequently made that all the major types of animals appeared suddenly and in abundance then. In actual fact, collecting in successive strata representing continuous sedimentation from Late Precambrian into Early Cambrian time reveals a progressive increase upward in abundance of individuals. Moreover, the various higher taxa-particularly the various classes and orders reflecting adaptation to different modes of life-appear at different times spread over the long interval between the Early Cambrian and the Middle Ordovician.

Finally, because of widespread interest in questions of man's origins, it is well worth emphasizing that a rather complete series of transitional fossils links modern man continuously and gradationally hack to midCenozoic, generalized pongids (see references in Table 2).

   In spite of statements to the contrary . . . , the fossil record of the Hominnidea, the superfamily containing man and the apes, is quite well known, and it is therefore possible to outline a tentative evolutionary scheme for this group (Uzrcll & Pilbeam, 1971, p. 615).

(Cuffey and Moore on ASA)


So the fossils which I utilize in my TFEC fall into the first category that Cuffey mentions, that of "transitional individuals". There are several morphospecies between the G. trilobus parent species and the O. universa daughter species.

Date: 2005/03/30 14:27:18, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael,

I'd try Wikipedia for an approximate definition or some paleontology text if you want greater rigor.

Ed,

I'll note that my response to Priest and Mastropaolo already made the argument that the issue has been decided by the courts.

Date: 2005/03/30 14:40:38, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I sense a huge waste of time coming on here. Is there any circumstance possible that a sufficiently powerful and capricious designer does *not* explain? If not, of what possible use is an extended examination of the evidence to anyone who believes that a sufficiently powerful and capricious "designer" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) did it? The evidence will never have the slightest effect on such a belief.

The point of Douglas Theobald's essay isn't that the evidence excludes a sufficiently powerful and capricious designer who, apparently, made things look exactly like the result of common ancestry. It's that the expectations of macroevolution and common descent match the available evidence.

Quote

I'd like to make an observation on "intelligent design" in general. ID claims are aimed at obtaining a concession that evolutionary processes are insufficient to account for observed biological phenomena. After that, ID advocates hope that people will simply fill in with an "intelligent designer" of their preference to cover the gap. ID arguments are all of the negative variety: because evolution can't do this, you must accept that an "intelligent designer" did.

So, how do ID advocates wend their way toward finding evolutionary insufficiency? Do they identify phenomena with good evidential records of their origin and find that no natural mechanisms are able to cover the situation? No, they do not. ID advocates identify the systems that have the least evidence that can bear upon just how they might have arisen and whack on those. If evolutionary biologists don't have the evidence to work with, they certainly can't generate "detailed, testable pathways" that ID advocates like Rob claim it is their burden to produce. This is such a weak and pathetic strategy that the term I use for Michael Behe's arguments now is "God of the crevices". You see, Behe's claim to fame is to have taken the old young-earth creationist bleat of "what good is half a wing?" and bring it into the modern era of molecular biology, reborn as, "what good is half a flagellum?" Biochemistry, Behe says, is the basement floor, and there is no further place to go. Thus, the gaps Behe goes on about have a bottom, and are crevices.

Back in 2001, I was in a panel with William Dembski, and pointed out that the only way for ID to progress was to take up those case where there was evidence at hand. Things like the impedance-matching system of the mammalian middle ear and the Krebs citric acid cycle. Michael Behe was sitting in the audience at the time. Have ID advocates taken up those sort of systems for analysis? Not on your life.

"Intelligent design" advocates use Behe's "irreducible complexity" and Dembski's "specified complexity" as arguments to convince people to disregard theories which have some evidential support, and force acceptance of conjectures with no evidential support. It's a good trick, that.

(Source)


Without some constraint upon the "designer" that supposedly is behind "common design", I don't see any sensible way to derive "predictions" from the concept. So I reject the notion that "similarities are a prediction of common design" until we've got some agreement on a set of constraints and purposes behind the "designer". Without that, all that can possibly come of it are "predictions" that are simply ad hoc inventions that have no contact with anything that we could call real.



Date: 2005/04/03 13:26:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael Finley wrote:

Quote

Let's return to the example of the artist. I stated that "It is a reasonable prediction that works [by a common artist] will share a basic structural similarity that differentiates them from works by other artists." Do you disagree? If so, on what basis does the expert attribute works to artists (cf. handwriting experts, philologists, etc.)?


On the argument to rarefied design inferences from ordinary design inferences: This ground has been covered. John Wilkins and I have been there and done that.

The Advantages of Theft Over Toil

Basically, I'm pointing out that the claimed analogy between known designers with whom we have experience and unknown designers operating in unknown ways is illegitimate. So, yeah, I dispute Michael's claim above as having any bearing upon my original objection. There is no basis given by Michael (or anyone else from Paley right on down to today) for a claim of "prediction" of what a designer behind aspects of life must have done.

Paul Nelson argued in 1997 that the argument from suboptimality as an impeachment of design was flawed because the argument depended upon theological themata: what was "disproved" by such arguments was not design per se but rather a particular theological theme concerning a putative designer. There were problems in Nelson's argument concerning whether a principled suboptimality argument was possible (I showed that one could easily construct a relative figure of merit that did not depend upon unobservable values), but the basic insight that to make claims about such a designer is to deal in theological themes seems good to me. And the issue cuts both ways. While arguments against theological themes don't eliminate design per se, neither do theological themes provide any basis for claims of "predictions" of design, either.

Michael's conjectures about design outcomes are, at basis, dabblings in theology. They don't tell us anything about what to expect in the empirical evidence.



Date: 2005/04/03 21:51:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael Finley wrote (on PT):

Quote

   There are three lines of argument, it seems to me, for ID.

   (1) Argue that the predictions of common descent and common design are coextensive.

   (2) Argue that the “predictions” of common descent are not predictions, but are merely consistent with common descent.

   (3) Use an inductive elimination (i.e., a destructive dilemma with an inductive disjunction) to argue against the viability of the mechanism(s) of common descent.


(1) is out because nobody has figured out how to make predictions from "common design".

(2) is out because it is a distinction without a difference. F'rinstance, the genetic codes of living organisms on earth are largely shared, giving the "canonical genetic code" that the vast majority of organisms use. In the cases where organisms use an alternative code, the differences also show a pattern of descent with modification. But that is not the way things had to be. There are many possible alternative genetic codes. Not only are there enough alternative possibilities to give every species that has ever existed its own code, but every single individual that has ever lived could have been given its own unique genetic code. If we observed such a state of affairs, we would not be trying to explain it via common descent. It is clear that empirical evidence could disallow common descent. Whether one chooses to use "prediction" or "consistency with the available evidence" is pure semantics. There are possible states of the evidence that common descent would not be able to accommodate. Douglas Theobald's FAQ goes over many of them.

(3) is intellectually dubious. It is, precisely as stated by Lenny Flank on PT, the "god of the gaps" argument.

It seems to me that Lenny did concisely point out the fundamental errors in Michael's argument. The fact that Lenny is abrupt to the point of rudeness does not set aside the observation that he is also correct.

Date: 2005/04/04 09:19:32, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael Finley wrote (on PT):

Quote

My common design argument tries to give an answer by co-opting the evidences of common descent.


The most straightforward theological theme to use to accomplish this is as follows:

"The Intelligent Designer designed life to look as if it were not necessarily the work of an intelligent designer, but rather could have been derived via an unaided process of common descent."

That would make all of the evidence for common descent perfectly consistent with that particular theological theme. Unfortunately, it is still in no sense a "prediction" about "common design".

Date: 2005/04/04 20:26:09, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Michael,

The issues I brought up are general issues, not specific to discussion of "the unity of life". They aren't going to go away or change because you start a new thread.

I will be happy to repost these criticisms to whatever new thread carries on, if no change in the mode of argument occurs. One would hope that there would be some notice taken of the critiques, but I've been doing this far to long to hold out much hope for that.

Date: 2005/04/05 09:46:24, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Apparently the Dover curriculum committee last night approved all 23 of the donated books for stocking in the library.

It's the only sensible thing they could have done.

Date: 2005/04/14 11:38:33, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
So, you have polling data that shows that 90% of gods who create universes and life go about "design" the way you think they do?

Can't wait to see that paper published.

Date: 2005/04/15 08:58:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
That's folderol, Michael. "Logically produced" statements include both universal statements (to which one can then apply modus tollens to, as Popper famously noted) and existential statements (to which one cannot apply modus tollens). So even by Michael's connotation of "prediction" as a "logically produced statement", he hasn't constrained the output to the desired class of universal statements.

There is a term in logic for strict logical implication. Let's see how long it takes for Michael to comes up with it.

Then, Michael can go back to the statement by Theobald at the start of this thread and try to apply his distinction there. To me, it sure looks like that would put the theory at risk if it were found to be false. Which, I will remind Michael, was already noted by me in my statement, and which he failed to address:

Quote

There are possible states of the evidence that common descent would not be able to accommodate.

Date: 2005/04/15 09:04:36, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Since the mode of argument hasn't changed appreciably from thread #1 to thread #2, let me drop in stuff that was left unaddressed by Michael in thread #1.

On the argument to rarefied design inferences from ordinary design inferences: This ground has been covered. John Wilkins and I have been there and done that.

The Advantages of Theft Over Toil

Basically, I'm pointing out that the claimed analogy between known designers with whom we have experience and unknown designers operating in unknown ways is illegitimate. So, yeah, I dispute Michael's claim above as having any bearing upon my original objection. There is no basis given by Michael (or anyone else from Paley right on down to today) for a claim of "prediction" of what a designer behind aspects of life must have done.

Paul Nelson argued in 1997 that the argument from suboptimality as an impeachment of design was flawed because the argument depended upon theological themata: what was "disproved" by such arguments was not design per se but rather a particular theological theme concerning a putative designer. There were problems in Nelson's argument concerning whether a principled suboptimality argument was possible (I showed that one could easily construct a relative figure of merit that did not depend upon unobservable values), but the basic insight that to make claims about such a designer is to deal in theological themes seems good to me. And the issue cuts both ways. While arguments against theological themes don't eliminate design per se, neither do theological themes provide any basis for claims of "predictions" of design, either.

Michael's conjectures about design outcomes are, at basis, dabblings in theology. They don't tell us anything about what to expect in the empirical evidence.

The most straightforward theological theme to use to accomplish this is as follows:

"The Intelligent Designer designed life to look as if it were not necessarily the work of an intelligent designer, but rather could have been derived via an unaided process of common descent."

That would make all of the evidence for common descent perfectly consistent with that particular theological theme. Unfortunately, it is still in no sense a "prediction" about "common design".

Date: 2005/04/24 18:33:57, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for discussion of the project to tally all the arguments in various antievolution sources so that the contents may be easily compared between them.

My current thought is to write up a PHP/MySQL application to handle additions and edits. The main addition/edit page would be put under password protection. Volunteers would get the username/password combination from me to work on adding information. A public page would allow everyone to view what arguments are associated with each source in the database. This split of restricted access for editing and public access for viewing should keep problems to a minimum.

I'm currently working with three tables to hold the information. Table SRC has information about the source document:

SRCID
TITLE
SHORTTITLE
AUTHOR
PUBLISHER
DATE
PUBTYPE
CATEGORY
URL
BIB

Table ARG has information about arguments and what source deploys them:

ARGID
SRCID
MI_CLASS
PLACE
NEWARG_DESC
QUOTE

Table SB has information about who sells a source document:

SBID
SRCID
VENDOR
ADDRESS
CODE
PRICE
URL

Maybe the last should have been split once more for absolute cleanness in DB design. Oh, well.

I'm working on the forms that will be needed on the add/edit page. This includes a block of radio buttons for all of the arguments identified by Mark Isaak in his "Index of Creationist Claims". When an argument is not found there, there will be a place to enter a description of the new argument.

Once all the framework is in place, then we have the basis for being able to utilize all the volunteer effort that is offered.

Ideas are welcome...

Date: 2005/04/29 10:10:42, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I've made another table for "vendors" so that the data model is closer to the desired state of relational databases. I've got most of the forms set up and am testing the functions. The system will be set up on "antievolution.org".

ST>Is there any argument against using the Index of Creationist Claims (IOC) as the primary template for distinguishing between various creationist claims?

Isaak's is the only organized hierarchy of creationist claims that I know of. It seems like this does a chunk of the work needed.

ST>for issues not contained within the IOC, should we discuss what heading they should be created under here?  I assume we will need some consistency.

I'd say that someone finding a new argument should attempt to identify the major heading from Isaak's hierarchy that the argument fits under. We can, of course, make Mark aware of any such instances. He has done an excellent job so far of expanding the resource to accommodate newly found instances.

ST>will submissions simply be on random acquisitions, or will there be "fact finding missions"?

I'm thinking that each person should be given responsibility for cataloguing the claims within an identified part of a source, whether that is a specific book chapter, the whole book, a film, a web page, etc. We can use this thread to coordinate who is doing what.

ST>will conclusions eventually be drawn and a summary statement or response be submitted at some point, or will this be a more open-ended project that simply acts as a repository of information?

I certainly intend to use the resource for drawing conclusions. If this gets enough young-earth creationist and intelligent design works catalogued, I think that it will be of use in various pending litigation concerning whether ID is to be treated as essentially different from "creation science". So I definitely see a purpose in the short term and not that this is just a exercize in purely academic concerns.

There may be further coding that I will need to do down the road to compare the arguments used in each category of resources or between two particular sources. This came up, as you will recall, due to a claim that young earth creationist materials are so different from "evidence against evolution" or "intelligent design" materials that you could build a libel case upon this difference. To be useful in that context, there is a bit of a time crunch.



Date: 2005/05/01 22:41:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Public Access Rollout

Tallying the Arguments is now up in alpha form. I've entered a few arguments appearing in Sarfati's Refuting Evolution as a demonstration. The link goes to the public page, which allows anyone to view what has been entered so far and provides a PayPal link to donate funds to the project.

From the page:

Quote

This is a collaborative project to exhaustively catalogue the arguments made in various antievolutionary source materials. The public can view the results so far by using this page.

Potential uses for the data collected here range from pure scholarship (tracing the deployment of antievolution arguments over time) to legal issues (demonstrating the close links between all antievolution argumentation).

If you would like to contribute time in cataloguing a source or some defined part of a source, please visit this thread on the discussion board where this project is coordinated.

Because volunteers need to have the source works, you can also help by contributing funds for the purchase and shipping of sources to volunteers.


The four sources of most timely interest are already entered as items in the select list.

If you are volunteering to take on a source or a defined part of a source, please state your preference in this thread and send me a PM (private message) so that I can give you the information needed to access the password-protected data entry application.

Also, please PM me or email me concerning errors encountered.

Date: 2005/05/03 00:55:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Following up on a comment on PT, I added links going to specific index entry pages on the TalkOrigins Archive, or to the main index page for the very first entries I made.

Date: 2005/05/03 02:10:01, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Dr. Elsberry, I’ve been waiting for your response to my challenge of your statement. I’ve given you ample time to respond. Your silence is very telling. Is your silence an indication that you are satisfied with the responses of your cohorts?


Please read the article at the link that was given just prior to the words of mine that you quoted.

I don't read every thread here every day, and I don't make responses on other people's schedules. In the immortal words of the Hacker's Dictionary, responding to "challenges" such as given above falls cleanly into the category of "dogwash". That said, I think the other respondents here are doing just fine.

Date: 2005/05/05 01:22:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
"In this case wouldn't it me more useful to be able to search by argument rather than by source?"

Yes. Which is why I was adding more tables and what-not to the application. Being able to pull data by argument will be part of this application.

Date: 2005/05/05 20:48:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Kansas Begins Hearings on Diluting Teaching of Evolution - New York Times

Quote


"TOPEKA, May 5 -In the first of three daylong hearings characterized here as the direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a parade of Ph.D.'s testified today about the flaws they find in Darwin's theory of evolution, transforming a small auditorium into a forum on one of the most controversial questions in education and politics: How to teach about the origin of life?

The hearings by the Kansas State Board of Education- one part science lesson, one part political theater - were set off by proposed changes to Kansas's science standards intended to bring a more critical approach to the teaching of Darwinism. The sessions provided perhaps the highest-profile stage yet for the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which asserts that life is so intricately complex that an architect must be behind it. Critics argue that intelligent design has no basis in science and is another iteration of creationism."


(Source: New York Times)

Date: 2005/06/23 07:58:19, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Still can't see an "error" when proceeding in this manner.


Those of us who can see the errors don't mind pointing them out.

So far, my original commentary on Meyer looks fine.

Date: 2005/07/04 02:51:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
While Tennessee has a historic role in American antievolution, I'm not sure that it is a particularly bad place currently for antievolution activism.

Date: 2005/08/19 05:20:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote
You are falling into the trap of assuming that "Intelligent Design" is inconsistent with Evolution.


The "intelligent design" pushed by the Discovery Institute certainly is such. There's no trap there, just an ability to recognize that a re-labelling of the same old antievolution arguments still has antievolution as its content.

Science isn't about what cannot be disproved. Science is about those ideas whose consequences can be tested in some way by our experience of the world.

Consistently, those who want science and only science taught in science classes have no objections to loading up a comparative religion course with stuff about "intelligent design" and other accounts of origins that haven't passed scientific muster. But ID advocates just as consistently have no interest in pushing for that sort of inclusion in K-12 curricula.

Date: 2005/08/19 05:24:39, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote
The claim that "Religious beliefs that are outside the limits of science may be true or not; science is silent on the issue" is also a lame & bogus & weak-buttoxed statement.


Really? Certainly not by anything that you've demonstrated here. I'm afraid that I'm not overwhelmed by argument by assertion.

Date: 2005/08/19 05:28:32, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
So far as the Dobson thing is concerned, have a look at this article on Panda's Thumb.

And then continue for the reaction to Bush.



Date: 2005/08/19 12:53:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Over on PT, there were a bunch of comments concerning anthropic principle concerns in the "Skeptic on Dembski" thread (now moved to the BW).

So here's a spot to continue the conversation.

Date: 2005/08/20 11:18:35, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Check out Mark Isaak's Index to Creationist Claims, also recently published in book form by Greenwood Press as the Counter-Creationism Handbook.



Date: 2005/08/21 12:01:11, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is to provide space for "T. Russ" Hunter to make good on his promise concerning the content of essays I've written.

"T. Russ" asserted that Bill Dembski was right in a thread on PT.

Quote

Tonight I picked up “Uncommon Dissent” and read the forward.

Two months ago, upon reading Dembski’s discussion of the “Myths” and propagandistic claims which Darwinians use to sidestep the debate, I would have thought him an alarmist guilty of gross exageration. However that was before I spent time at pandasthumb.

Sadly, I have spent enough time here to see that in all truth  Dembski has you guys quite figured out.

Nothing makes me more sure that there actually is a scientific controversy and philosophical war between metaphysical naturalists and theistic realists than spending time on these web boards.

I look forward to your angry poor reasoned replies.


I took issue with that, listing off a variety of the essays I'v written. "T. Russ" thought he could wave those away, sight unseen.

Quote

Sorry Wes, you know I don’t have time for all that. Besides I was refering to the way debate is handled here at pandasthumb. I could probably find some myths and dissmive tactics in those papers but is it really worth my time? The more I hang around here the more I see how correct ol’ Thomas Kuhn was about paradigm challenge resistance. It’s kinda sickening.


Followed by my response:

Quote

Just for the record, Mr. Hunter, that was not a substantive reply.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   Sorry Wes, you know I don’t have time for all that.


If you are going to take the time to impugn people, you should budget the time to make good on the accusation. If you don’t have the time to do that, then why not give the accusation a miss?

   T. Russ. wrote:

   Besides I was refering to the way debate is handled here at pandasthumb.


You asserted that Dembski was right. Was Dembski referring to just the stuff that gets posted at PT? I don’t think so. You’ll have to do better than that.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   I could probably find some myths and dissmive tactics in those papers but is it really worth my time?


It’s all too easy to say that “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of either side. That gets you or Dembski a “Duh!” response. That “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of both sides is to be expected. The only way that “sidestepping” could be of interest is if the argumentation for one side or both consisted almost entirely of such stuff, and virtually no substantive argumentation was present.

If you are just going to abandon your claim, as it appears you are doing, then no, it is not worth your time. If you were serious about Dembski being right, it should be a cinch for you to rattle off the reasons why all of what I wrote was “sidestepping”. Or provide reasons why the residue after “sidestepping” issues should be ignored, as Dembski has pretty consistently done. If, though, those essays I identified contain substantive issues and criticisms, then obviously it will take a lot of time and effort to respond to them. But then you would have to retract your assertion that Dembski got it right, wouldn’t you? That is, if your moral compass hasn’t yet been degaussed by your close exposure to the poor moral attitudes of antievolutionists.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   The more I hang around here the more I see how correct ol’ Thomas Kuhn was about paradigm challenge resistance. It’s kinda sickening.


For every actual “paradigm shift” there are tens or hundreds of ideas that are just plain wrong. Ever looked into Dewey Larson’s alternative physics? Eventually, everyone will be privy to which sort of thing “intelligent design” conjectures are. Those of us who have examined them most closely, though, already know which bin to bet on.

I recommend “Why Intelligent Design Fails” to you again. It’s probably not worth the time to try to set it aside as “sidestepping”, either, but it should otherwise prove informative.


And then "T. Russ" again, from July 18, 2004:

Quote

Allright Wes, after tonight I won’t come back to pandasthumb until i’m ready to get down and dirty with your essays. I really don’t believe that my posts are nearly as bogus as you guys want to think but I just can’t yell as loud or as frequently as you and your colleagues can. That seems to be primarily what it comes down to. It follows the logic…


Well, for some reason, "T. Russ" is posting at PT, but I haven't seen that "down and dirty" stuff yet. Just so that there is a place for it, should "T. Russ" actually have meant what he said last year, I am opening this thread here.



Date: 2005/08/21 20:57:46, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Am I suppose to critique or review your papers?


"T. Russ", there is a quite specific claim on the table. No, you are not supposed to "critique" or "review" my essays. You are supposed to either attempt to defend Dembski's assertion that ID criticism is "sidestepping", or retract your support of it. My position is that my essays have content beyond "sidestepping" that Dembski, and now you, have ignored. If you choose to attempt a defense, your job is to show that my essays are comprised of "sidestepping" without residue. My task is to show that I do, indeed, address substantive issues in my essays. It is not necessary that I should convince you, Dembski, or other ID advocates in those arguments, since that isn't a feature of Dembski's claim. His claimer is stronger than that he didn't find the arguments presented unconvincing. His claim is, in a sense, that the arguments really don't exist.

Does that make things clearer for you?

Date: 2005/08/22 00:07:44, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I think we'll need to work out what "sidestepping" means.

To me, that is avoidance of substantive issues while addressing meta-issues.

As T. Russ lays it out above, it sounds like if any meta-issues are addressed at any time, no matter how much effort has gone into addressing substantive issues, that "sidestepping" has occurred.

So I'm going to note that I don't agree with the latter construction of the term. My stance is that a complete response to ID advocates should proceed on as many levels and grounds as possible. That includes addressing both issues of content, and meta-issues like rhetorical style. I'm saying that I have, in essence, paid my dues by putting effort into addressing the content in order to be able to justifiably also take meta-issues into account.

As to concessions, I am still unclear as to what I am being asked to give assent.

Date: 2005/08/27 20:25:03, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This is a reply to a comment by Salvador over on Panda's Thumb.


Sal,

Yes, that is amusing. Wrong again, but amusing.

As to definitions, I have repeatedly made the point that what CSI is depends upon how it is recognized, which is a property (allegedly) of the math Dembski has given. The “physical/conceptual” text is a descriptive interpretation of what the math defines. It is not, itself, the definition. We addressed the math. We didn’t address every handwaving description Dembski wrote.

As to “omega”, Sal is utterly confused. There are two different uses of “omega” in Dembski’s stuff. In The Design Inference, “omega” refers to “probabilistic resources”, a mapping function that yields “saturated” probabilities and events. TSPGRID doesn’t change “omega”_TDI, contrary to Sal’s claim. In No Free Lunch, “omega” is the “reference class of possible events”. TSPGRID is incapable of “increasing omega” by its operation.

Dembski discusses calculation of “omega” on p.52 of NFL. There, he gives the example of a six-sided die rolled 6,000,000 times. His “omega” for this “event” is “all 6-tuples of nonnegative integers that sum to 6,000,000”. In other words, “omega” includes every possible way that one could roll a die 6,000,000 times. In other equations, if one rolls an n-sided die k time, “omega” is k*n. (This is for the case in which only the distribution of rolls matters, which is the context of Dembski’s example, and not the sequence of rolls. For a sequence of die rolls, “omega” becomes n^k.)

As for the Sal’s claim that TSPGRID “increases omega as it outputs data”, that’s just silly. One does have to take into account the number of runs of TSPGRID, just as Sal takes into account the number of coins in his idee fixe. Sal’s objection to TSPGRID is exactly the same as objecting to coin-stacking on the grounds that he “increases omega as he adds coins”.

Sal says that we didn’t give “omega” for TSPGRID. This is literally true, but we do expect some minimal competence from our readers. The “omega”_NFL for TSPGRID with 4n^2 nodes run k times stated in the same way as Dembski’s dice example is “all (4n^2)!-tuples of nonnegative integers that sum to k”, or, more simply, k*(4n^2)! as anyone with a clue should be able to work out from the information that we gave. If you change n or k, you get a different “omega”, just as you get a different “omega” if you stack dice instead of coins, or stack a different number of dice or coins. Once n and k are fixed, as in some specific instance of one or more runs of TSPGRID to be analyzed as an “event” in Dembski’s parlance, “omega” is fixed as well.

So Sal’s random charge of “error” here is just as amusingly inept as his previous outings. It seems that Sal is not well acquainted with Dembski’s work, as “omega” is not all that mysterious. I suspect that Sal “knows” that the TSPGRID example just “has” to be wrong, therefore, any scattershot objection made will do. But if TSPGRID were actually wrong, and Sal were actually capable of analyzing it, he would have come up with a valid objection in the first place, and not have had to resort to flinging any odd objection at hand and hoping something sticks. So far there has been the “a deterministic version of TSPGRID doesn’t output CSI!” objection (which is why TSPGRID is non-deterministic), the “TSPGRID doesn’t provide PHYSICAL information!” objection (though several of Dembski’s own examples share this “error” and a run of TSPGRID or any other algorithm certainly is physical), and now the “you didn’t say what Omega was!” objection (where “omega” is easily calculated given the information we provided).

But I guess I will have to make do with amusement at further instances of random objections.

Date: 2005/08/29 05:07:00, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Just posted the following to the Washington Post forums:

Quote

"However, I had rather take time and attention to properly address their issues than go the other way."

This has been done. See Robert Pennock's "Tower of Babel", Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross's "Creationism's Trojan Horse", Mark Perakh's "Unintelligent Design", and Matt Young and Taner Edis's "Why Intelligent Design Fails" (I'm a contributor to this book). Online, check out the TalkOrigins Archive (http://talkorigins.org/), TalkDesign (http://talkdesign.org/), AntiEvolution.org (http://antievolution.org), and the Panda's Thumb (http://pandasthumb.org). Bottom line: The ID movement really is an empty box.

Let me expand on that. ID is pitched as not being "creationism". By this, the ID advocates mean that ID is not *exactly* the same thing as "young-earth creationism". However, once one stops arguing over what something is labelled and looks at the content, one finds that there is *nothing* argued by ID advocates that wasn't present in some form in "scientific creationism". And the same observation holds for the re-labelled antievolution playlist that ID advocates call "teaching the controversy". They are acting like there is some difference between what they improperly want inserted into science classes and the bad old "scientific creationism", when every one of the actual arguments they insist upon has a prior history in "scientific creationism".

Phillip E. Johnson, a major figure in the neoPaleyist movement, gave us his "clear" definition of a creationist in "Darwin on Trial": "Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old, and that simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are ‘creationists’ if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated this process but in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose." This is what ID advocates have to disown to legitimately step away from "creationism".

Date: 2005/09/23 11:11:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
This thread is for open commentary on the PT thread, "Waterloo In Dover".

Date: 2005/09/24 04:23:20, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Let's have a look at oral testimony taken already in the KvD case:

Quote


21 Q Actually in this version of the book it describes
22 who creationists are, doesn't it, if you look at pages 22
23 and 23 and 24. It says there's different types of
24 creationist's literature. There are older creationists,
25 younger creationists, agnostic creationists, right?
OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER
BUELL - CROSS - ROTHSCHILD
98
1 A Yes. We were trying to give some articulation to
2 the breadth of what that term means.
3 Q And then if you could turn back to page 22, you
4 explain that "Creation is the theory that various forms of
5 life began abruptly, with their distinctive features already
6 intact: Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers and
7 wings, mammals with fur and mammary glands."
8 That's how you defined creation, correct?
9 A Yes.
10 Q All right. And I would like to take -- you to take
11 a look at an excerpt from Pandas and People. Turn to page
12 99 in the excerpt I gave you.
13 A All right.
14 Q Says, "Intelligent design means that various forms
15 of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with
16 their distinctive features already intact: Fish with fins
17 and scales, birds with feathers, beaks and wings, et
18 cetera."
19 Do you see that?
20 A I see it.
21 Q So that's pretty much the exact same sentence
22 substituting creation for intelligent design, isn't that
23 right?
24 A The reason that you find the similarity in the two
25 passages is because this obviously was at a time when we
OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER
BUELL - CROSS - ROTHSCHILD
99
1 were developing the manuscript. We had not chosen the term
2 "intelligent design" at that point. We were trying to --
3 this was just a place holder term until we came to grips
4 with which of the plausible two or three terms that are in
5 scientific literature we would settle on. And that was the
6 last thing we did before the book was revise -- I mean was
7 sent to the publisher.
8 Q It was creation, creation, creation until the end
9 and then it was intelligent design.

[pp.97-99]


Epperson v. Arkansas, McLean v. Arkansas, and Edwards v. Aguillard have said, unequivocally, that creationism is an establishment of religion. If you take the history of antievolution between Epperson and Edwards into account, you have the courts saying that re-labeling impermissible content does not make that content permissible, since that was what the ICR attempted in going from "creationism" to "scientific creationism" and "creation science". So, it seems to me that it would be inconsistent to allow a sham like OPAP93 to be called "permissible" when all it has done is cynically search and replace "creation" with "intelligent design" and dropped those few arguments that the antievolutionists thought were too legally problematic to keep.

The thing you have to keep in mind is the "two model" approach of evangelical Christianity in this respect, which holds that evidence against evolution IS evidence for creationism. ('There's only two possibilities, so if you know that evolution is false, then you must conclude that creation is true.') "Intelligent design" delivers the very same playlist of bad arguments against evolution as does "creationism", minus a few clinkers about global floods and measures of the age of the earth, and it doesn't have to say anything about creation being the only alternative to evolution; the creationists get that in church.

There's no secular purpose to teaching misrepresentations and falsehoods, so on that count OPAP93 doesn't move DASD forward, and OPAP93's creationist heritage should convince Judge Jones that what he is dealing with is a large-scale sham whose aim is establishment of religion.

You're welcome to disagree. What is going to matter, though, is the arguments and counter-arguments that come out in Harrisburg, PA over the next few weeks.

Date: 2005/09/25 13:30:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Some people aren't getting the message that the PT thread is only for posting pointers to KvD resources. I've deleted some messages already, but I'm going to copy the text of some messages currently up before deleting further.

Posted by: 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank

Quote

   "Does the veracity of this statement have a bearing on the case? If so, does the court have an opportunity, or obligation, to determine if “intelligent design” is scientific; or is that a leap?"

If you read the briefs that the plaintiffs have filed, the very core of their argument is that ID is inherently religious and that the Board introduced it for purely sectarian purposes, and therefore should be thrown out.

The court will not be able to avoid the question of whether ID is religion or science. It is the very core of the case.



Posted by: 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank

Quote

   "What I find ironic is that the Discovery Institute has for years, and continues to this day, to claim that “intelligent design” is scientific, and they’ve had decades to refine this argument, and the DI has more than enough lawyers on staff to work out the details of an argument that would hold up in court, yet when their big chance comes in Dover to settle the question of “intelligent design” once and for all, they back away like cockroaches under a 100-watt bulb."

DI dropped the “ID is an alernative scientific theory” approach after the legislators in Ohio asked them to please tell us alternative scientific theory they wanted to have taught — and the IDers were quite unable to come up with one.

Since then, DI has dropped the “ID is science” scam in favor of the “teach the controversy about evolution” scam (which itself lost crushingly in Cobb County).

That is why I keep asking Paul about the whole “intelligent design” name. There is no scientific theory of ID, there never has been, and DI was lying to us the entire time they claimed there was — only to forced to drop the whole idea when it came time for them to deliver.



Posted by: Bob Maurus

Quote

In #49429 Bill said,

“The statement read to Dover Area High School students contains the following sentence: Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view.”

Does anyone know what Darwin’s view on the Origin of Life was?



Posted by: steve

Quote

Darwin, in a letter to Joseph Hooker:

   "It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are present, which could ever have been present. But if (and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed."



Posted by: steve

Quote

I don’t think it’s accurate to say Dembski’s going to face his Waterloo. Napoleon actually accomplished things. What do you call an event where someone who’s an utter failure, utterly fails again?


Posted by: RBH

Quote

Steve asked

   "I don’t think it’s accurate to say Dembski’s going to face his Waterloo. Napoleon actually accomplished things. What do you call an event where someone who’s an utter failure, utterly fails again?"

Consistent.

RBH

Date: 2005/09/26 06:44:26, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
More out-of-place comments from PT.
========================

Quote

Comment #49619

Posted by Flint on September 26, 2005 08:03 AM (e) (s)

The Washington Post editorial makes the following statement:

   They will make the case — plain to most scientists but poorly understood by many others — that these alternatives are not scientific theories at all.

   “What makes evolution a scientific explanation is that it makes testable predictions,” Lander said. “You only believe theories when they make non-obvious predictions that are confirmed by scientific evidence.”

Can our legal scholars clear up some confusion I have? My understanding is that the ONLY restriction about what can be taught in ANY class is that religion cannot be preached, or presented as truth. Certainly there can’t be any law against teaching error in science class, since we presume that all scientific theories are in some sense erroneous - incorrect or incomplete or both. And I didn’t think that making testable predictions was a legal requirement either. Only the effort to prevent some religious doctrine from being represented as fact by the state.

Now, perhaps they might be referring to teachers violating a state-recommended curriculum, but this seems more an administrative, disciplinary matter. I doubt one could make a case that varying from an approved curriculum per se is a Constitutional issue.

So this is NOT about whether ID is science at all. It’s about whether ID is religion.



Quote

Comment #49623

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 26, 2005 08:57 AM (e) (s)

The defense is going to argue that having their “intelligent design” policy fulfills a secular purpose, and they are basing that on their contention that “intelligent design” is a legitimate scientific endeavor. The plaintiffs have to convince the judge of two things: that there is no secular purpose in teaching creationism, whatever you call it at the moment, and that the purpose or effect of what the DASD has done is an establishment of religion. If the plaintiffs allow the defense to make their secular purpose claims and don’t provide a response, the judge could very well rule against the plaintiffs, even if they convince the judge that one or more prongs of the Lemon test are violated. Look at the defense’s brief supporting their motion for summary judgment at page 11, where they claim that there are many valid secular purposes for what they are doing.



Quote

Comment #49628

Posted by Ralph Jones on September 26, 2005 10:09 AM (e) (s)

Will the inaccuracy of the statement “Evolution is a theory, not a fact…” come up in the trial?



Quote

Comment #49641

Posted by anti-darwinist on September 26, 2005 11:17 AM (e) (s)

Intelligent design might lose the case out in Dover. However, it will win the overall war. As a former darwinist, I’m confident to say, at least to my knowledge, that darwinism will be rejected universally at least some time in the near future, if not later. Although I don’t advocate ID, I feel like Panspermia can be reconciled with it quite beautifully. In other words, I believe the designer(s) are aliens from outer space. They may not exist anymore, but the specified complexity surely begs the question.



Quote

Comment #49644

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on September 26, 2005 11:38 AM (e) (s)

“They may not exist anymore, but the specified complexity surely begs the question.”

That does it, for me. anti-darwinist is a parody.



Quote

Comment #49645

Posted by steve on September 26, 2005 11:39 AM (e) (s)

Specified Complexity certainly does beg the question.

Find out what beg the question means.





Date: 2005/09/27 05:04:34, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
All the expert witness reports are online at the NCSE KvD Resource page under this page.

Date: 2005/09/28 05:52:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #49866

Posted by Uriel Wittenberg on September 27, 2005 03:33 PM (e) (s)

Dogmatic Scientists Fight Rational Christians discusses mainstream science’s surprisingly faith-based opposition to the Intelligent Design theory (as represented in New York Times accounts).



Quote

Comment #49869

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 27, 2005 04:04 PM (e) (s)

Uriel’s piece takes issue with the linking of “intelligent design” to creationism. This topic can be a bit difficult to grasp for those unfamiliar with the USA’s legal system and what it means for opposing antievolution in the courts. Simply put, that something is “bad science” isn’t legal grounds for a complaint (there may be some local exceptions to this), but “establishment of religion” is legal grounds for such action anywhere in the USA. The arguments of creationism, which are re-labeled as “intelligent design” or “evidence against evolution”, represent an intrusion of religion into the science class, and it is on that basis that the plaintiffs are proceeding. Dinging them for this reveals a lack of knowledge of what the legal background is in this case. Uriel also has a problem with argument that concerns the motives of the DASD in this case, saying that it is an “unsound argument against intelligent design”. Again, Uriel reveals ignorance of the way the law plays out here. One of the tests for establishment of religion in the USA is the “purpose prong” of the Lemon test. The motives of the DASD in adopting their “intelligent design policy” is not intended as an argument against “intelligent design” per se, but rather it is an argument that the defendants have violated the Constitution. The plaintiffs must do two things here: show that what the DASD has done is an establishment of religion (easy), and also show that “intelligent design” has no scientific merit, and thus its instruction cannot count as having a “secular purpose”. They must argue both of these in order to win the case. If they only take up the latter part, as Uriel argues they should, they would lose the case, guaranteed. It is rational for the plaintiffs to proceed as they have so far, commentary from people who don’t know what the score is notwithstanding.



Quote

Comment #49870

Posted by Flint on September 27, 2005 04:04 PM (e) (s)

Wittenberg seems to have at best an extremely limited understanding of the underlying issues here. He seems to think there is an “intelligent design theory” when there is not. He seems to think intelligent design has some testable *content* when it does not. He seems to think that there is a distinction between the motives of the defense (sheer religious fanaticism) and the substance of intelligent design (which consists of sheer religious fanaticism). The two can’t be distinguished. He seems to think there might actually be something scientific in ID, when there is not. He says they can “legitimately take the position that they have found scientific evidence in support of their religious faith” when in fact they have done no such thing and any such claim is not legitimate. He thinks ID is “‘based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic,’ as Lehigh University biochemistry professor Michael J. Behe explains.” But it is not, in any way. Wittenberg doesn’t seem to understand the most important thing about creationists: everything they say is a lie. And until he understands this, he will frame the debate incorrectly and draw false conclusions.



Quote

Comment #49887

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 27, 2005 06:02 PM (e) (s)

DI is whining about Dover already:

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACC…

An excerpt:

   “Most of Dr. Miller’s testimony today against intelligent design
   was
   simply based upon a misrepresentation of the scientific theory of
   intelligent
   design,” said scientist Casey Luskin, program officer for public
   policy and
   legal affairs with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science &
   Culture.

Wow, you mean Discovery Institute NOW has a scientific theory of intelligent design, after telling us for years that it DOESN’T ????? Can I see it, please?

Or, is Luskin just lying to us. Again.

   “Dr. Miller’s testimony is disturbing because it demands that the
   Court
   rule on the nature of science and the validity of scientific
   theories — matters which should be left to scientific experts and
   not be
   decided by courts,” added Luskin.

That’s pretty funny, since (1) it is the IDers who are currently trying to change the definition of ‘science’, in Kansas, (2) the “validity of the scientific theory of ID” has ALREADY been decided by “scientific experts” —- they think it’s full of crap, and (3) it is the ID/creationists, and ONLY the ID/creationists, who are attempting to pass laws forcing their religious opinions into public school classrooms and textbooks.



Quote

Comment #49888

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 27, 2005 06:05 PM (e) (s)

From the “Dogmatic Scientists” piece:

   But arguing about the defendants’ motives is also an unsound argument against Intelligent Design.

Au contraire, it is the very heart of the case. It’s illegal to teach religious opinions in public schools. Period. ID is nothing but religious opinions. As the board members themselves were kind enough to make very clear.

   Even if proponents of Intelligent Design are unmasked as creatonists and devout believers, they can legitimately take the position that they have found scientific evidence in support of their religious faith — and that they are only advocating that this scientific evidence be taught in science classrooms.

Alas for the nutters, that fight has already been fought, and they lost.

Twice.



Quote

Comment #49904

Posted by RBH on September 27, 2005 07:51 PM (e) (s)

From Lenny’s quotation: “scientist Casey Luskin”?? Luskin is now a scientist? When did he get his promotion? When he went to work for the DI? Talk about a diploma mill!

RBH



Quote

Comment #49905

Posted by RBH on September 27, 2005 07:53 PM (e) (s)

I just realized that’s a press release from the Discovery Institute. That makes it Luskin’s work, or very close to it. The DI is lying about Luskin’s qualifications in their damned press releases! That’s truly scummy.

RBH



Quote

Comment #49906

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 27, 2005 07:57 PM (e) (s)

More whining from DI:

http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/86982/

Excerpt:

   Luskin said Miller inaccurately characterized intelligent design as a concept that focuses on what evolution doesn’t explain. Luskin said intelligent design stands on its own as an explanation of life and the origins of species.

Hey, everyone, lookie!!!!! Luskin says he has a scientific theory of ID, one that explains life and the origin of species!!!!!!

Can one of the DI luminaries here explain to us all, please, what this scientific theory of ID is, and how it explains life and the origin of species?

(sound of crickets chirping)

What, according to this scientific theory of ID, did the designer do, specifically?

What mechanisms did the designer use to do whatever the heck this scientific theory of ID postulates that it did?

Where can we see any of the mechanisms postulated by this scientific theory of ID in action doing … well … anything?

And how can we test any of this using the scientific method?

Hello? Paul? Sal? Bill? Davey?

Anyone?

Hello?

(sound of more crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought. DI is just lying to us. Again.



Quote

Comment #49908

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 27, 2005 08:07 PM (e) (s)

   News also:
   Over 400 Scientists Convinced by New Scientific Evidence That Darwinian Evolution is Deficient
   Is dated Oct 6 2005

They should have waited a little longer:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12755…

   To buttress its case, the Discovery Institute has collected about 400 signatures on a statement labeled “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” About 80 of the signers are biologists; the rest are mostly philosophers, mathematicians, chemists, computer scientists, historians and lawyers.

   The statement of dissent, however, doesn’t even mention intelligent design. Instead, it simply raises doubts about the present state of evolutionary theory. In its entirety, the statement reads:

   “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

   “That statement is one that most scientists can or should be able to sign,” said Martin Poenie, a cell biologist at the University of Texas in Austin, one of the signers.

   Some who signed the statement of dissent said that doesn’t mean they support intelligent design.

   One signer, Stanley Salthe, a zoologist at the State University of New York in Binghamton, replied “absolutely not” when he was asked if he agrees that there must have been a supernatural designer.

   David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a sharp critic of neo-Darwinism, also signed the statement of dissent. But in an e-mail message, Berlinski declared, “I have never endorsed intelligent design.”




Quote

Comment #49911

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 27, 2005 08:42 PM (e) (s)

   David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a sharp critic of neo-Darwinism, also signed the statement of dissent. But in an e-mail message, Berlinski declared, “I have never endorsed intelligent design.”

Has Berlinski ever said just what the #### he DOES endorse? Von Daniken’s space aliens?



Quote

Comment #49923

Posted by kudra on September 27, 2005 10:47 PM (e) (s)

Does anyone have a link to the full disclaimer that the school board proposed? The links that google found are all stale. I was trying to see how warped the paraphrasing in the WSJ was today.

   Suzanne Sataline in the WSJ wrote:

   The Dover school board requires that at the beginning of the 9th grade unit on evolution, teachers are supposed to read a statement to a biology class: “Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered…Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view.”




Quote

Comment #49928

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 27, 2005 11:38 PM (e) (s)

Dover biology disclaimer.



Quote

Comment #49944

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 28, 2005 03:40 AM (e) (s)

   RBH wrote:

   From Lenny’s quotation: “scientist Casey Luskin”?? Luskin is now a scientist? When did he get his promotion? When he went to work for the DI? Talk about a diploma mill!

Casey Luskin wrote me to say that he has an MS degree in earth sciences from UCSD, and a published paper:

Lisa Tauxe, Casey Luskin, Peter Selkin, Phillip Gans, and Andy
Calvert, “Paleomagnetic results from the Snake River Plain: Contribution to
the time-averaged field global database,” Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
(G3), 5(8) (August, 2004)

I’m baffled as to why he chose not to post this information here himself.



Quote

Comment #49945

Posted by John on September 28, 2005 04:09 AM (e) (s)

“Intelligent Design” and “Evolution” are compatible as follows:

“Intelligent Design” is what God did (invented a universe full of molecules)

“Evolution” is how God did it (gave molecules the rules needed for interacting to build the God’s children according to God’s design)

God invented evolution: Evolution is the beauty of God’s way!

To challenge evolution is to challenge GOD!

Cosmologists are still trying to figure out how the universe was created:

How the universe started (creationism? or whatever?) should be taught in a cosmology or philosophy or religion class and evolution should be taught in a biology class.



Quote

Comment #49949

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 28, 2005 07:20 AM (e) (s)

   Casey Luskin wrote me to say that he has an MS degree in earth sciences from UCSD, and a published paper:

Did he mention anything about this “scientific theory of ID” that he has, that “stands on its own”, doesn’t focus on “what evolution doesn’t explain” and explains “life and the origins of species”?

Why not?

Casey, I think you are flat-out lying to everyone about that.

Prove me wrong, right here in front of the whole world. Show me youtr scientific theory of ID. Tell me hoe it explains life and the origins of species. What is this theory of ID. What, according to it, did the designer do to produce life and species. What mechanisms did it use to do whatever it did. Where can we see it using these mechanisms today to do … well . . anything.

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought.



Quote

Comment #49956

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 28, 2005 09:29 AM (e) (s)

Lenny asked what Berlinski does endorse. The answer is that, since he’s a Gemini, he has difficulty making up his mind between alternatives. :-)



Quote

Comment #49958

Posted by Uriel Wittenberg on September 28, 2005 09:42 AM (e) (s)

   Wesley R. Elsberry wrote:

   The plaintiffs must do two things here: show that what the DASD has done is an establishment of religion (easy), and also show that “intelligent design” has no scientific merit, and thus its instruction cannot count as having a “secular purpose”. They must argue both of these in order to win the case. If they only take up the latter part, as Uriel argues they should, they would lose the case, guaranteed.

I had commented on the way in which the plaintiffs are “show[ing] that what the DASD has done is an establishment of religion.” The way they’re doing it is by arguing about the internal thinking of a group of people. As the Times reports:

   New York Times wrote:

   Mr. Rothschild said that the board’s own documents would show that the board members had initially discussed teaching “creationism” - one former member said he wanted the class time evenly split between creationism and evolution - and that they substituted the words “intelligent design” only when they were made aware by lawyers of the constitutional problems involved.

   [”Evolution Lawsuit Opens in Pennsylvania,” September 27.]

What if the plaintiffs had no such documents available? Would you argue that they couldn’t win the case? If so, then the next school board can prevail simply by being more careful about its minutes and its public comments.

It seems to me sufficient to show that I.D. is bad science. From there, it’s pretty easy to infer that the “intelligent designer” is God in disguise.

I’m generally dubious about attempts to prove motives, especially of a group of people.

   Flint wrote:

   Wittenberg … seems to think intelligent design has some testable *content* when it does not.

I wrote: “The argument for Intelligent Design is indeed ‘negative’ and untestable.”

Further:

   Flint wrote:

   Wittenberg doesn’t seem to understand the most important thing about creationists: everything they say is a lie. And until he understands this, he will frame the debate incorrectly and draw false conclusions.

If it’s lies then the way I’ve framed it seems quite appropriate: Argue on the scientific merits.

Let me stress again: the scientists are being strangely dogmatic and irrational. Not just in the courtroom but in the opinion pages of the New York Times, as I argued in an earlier piece, Issue Ratatouille:

   Uriel wrote:

   The irrationality of [National Academy of Sciences President Bruce] Alberts’s position would be self-evident if some unmistakable example of intelligent design were to present itself. Suppose the stars aligned themselves tomorrow to spell out the message, “Believe it!” — in English letters that everyone could see? If “science” rejected such irrefutable evidence of an intelligent designer’s handiwork, it would no longer have anything to do with the plain evidence of our senses.




Quote

Comment #49962

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 28, 2005 10:37 AM (e) (s)

   Uriel Wittenberg wrote:

   What if the plaintiffs had no such documents available? Would you argue that they couldn’t win the case?

I’d say it would be much more difficult to demonstrate a violation of the “purpose” prong of the Lemon test, which still leaves the “effect” and “entanglement” prongs to be argued.

   Uriel Wittenberg wrote:

   It seems to me sufficient to show that I.D. is bad science. From there, it’s pretty easy to infer that the “intelligent designer” is God in disguise.

This would then be an argument toward the “effect” prong. It would mean ignoring the evidence that is available in this case that does indicate the purpose of the DASD was to establish religion. What is it, I would ask, that would be considered rational about throwing away a perfectly valid legal argument in a case that one is pursuing?



Quote

Comment #49963

Posted by Flint on September 28, 2005 10:37 AM (e) (s)

Uriel Wittenberg:

   It seems to me sufficient to show that I.D. is bad science. From there, it’s pretty easy to infer that the “intelligent designer” is God in disguise.

This isn’t the way the law works, though. There is absolutely nothing illegal or unconstitutional about presenting bad science in science classes, from whatever motivation. Even if it can be established beyond the slightest doubt that the school board *thinks* they are inserting religion into science class, if there is any genuine scientific content, then their motivations alone are not sufficient. Conversely, if ID has no scientific content, it’s still perfectly allowable provided the school board *thinks* it’s genuine science and have no religious motivations; they simply don’t understand science.

And so the plaintiffs must legally establish BOTH: That there is NO secular value (by itself not sufficient) and that it’s being inserted for purely religious motivations (by itself not sufficient). Why is this so hard to understand?

Let me stress again: Bad (or content-free, or useless, or perversely wrongheaded) “science” is LEGAL, provided it’s not being promoted for religious reasons. Let me stress once again: EVEN IF it can be established that ID is religious doctrine pure and simple, it is STILL permissible in science class if it has any scientific content. (For example, should we NOT teach a heliocentric solar system simply because some religion’s doctrines make this claim?)

   Suppose the stars aligned themselves tomorrow to spell out the message, “Believe it!” — in English letters that everyone could see? If “science” rejected such irrefutable evidence of an intelligent designer’s handiwork, it would no longer have anything to do with the plain evidence of our senses.

Your understanding of science is as weak as your understanding of the law. If this event should happen, science would seek to discover the mechanism which caused it. If the mechanism can be determined by testing, then it’s science regardless of the event (and regardless of how strongly YOU believe it’s magic). What science rejects is what cannot in principle be tested. Science does NOT reject what CAN be tested in principle, no matter how extraordinary it strikes you. You are actually parroting Dembski here: you are saying “I can’t conceive of how this could have happened naturally, therefore it didn’t happen naturally, therefore we have ‘proof’ of the designer.” Sorry, it doesn’t work for you any better than it does for Dembski.





Date: 2005/09/28 15:59:16, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #49968

Posted by Ken Willis on September 28, 2005 10:59 AM (e) (s)

   Uriel Wittenberg wrote:

   It seems to me sufficient to show that I.D. is bad science. From there, it’s pretty easy to infer that the “intelligent designer” is God in disguise.

A Federal judge would likely decline to draw the inference. Especially since there in no Federal cause of action that I know of for suing to keep bad science out of the classroom.

I doubt very many scientists would want that sort of decision to be made by a non-scientist lawyer in a black robe.



Quote

Comment #49970

Posted by Ken Willis on September 28, 2005 11:05 AM (e) (s)

   Ken Willis wrote:

   I doubt very many scientists would want that sort of decision to be made by a non-scientist lawyer in a black robe.

I could have said that better. Try this:

I doubt very many scientists would want a precedent to be set for having a non-scientist lawyer in a black robe deciding between good and bad science.



Quote

Comment #49971

Posted by bill on September 28, 2005 11:17 AM (e) (s)

Here you go, Lenny. Luskin explains “intelligent design” in this DI press release:

Monsters from the ID



Quote

Comment #49994

Posted by Richard Sharpe on September 28, 2005 01:22 PM (e) (s)

I recently came across the Meyer paper on Intelligent design
Intelligent Design: The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories.

My first comments on it were on the GNXP Forum:


Well, the article starts well, and spends quite a bit of time telling
us how few functional proteins are coded for by long random sequences
of DNA, and concludes that there simply was not enough time during the
crutial time in the Cambrian when a large number of body plans
evolved, so:

>What natural selection lacks, intelligent selection—purposive or
>goal-directed design—provides. Rational agents can arrange both
>matter and symbols with distant goals in mind.

So, he suggests an intelligent designer, let’s call it G.O.D (Grand
Old Designer), who short-circuited all that time needed to explore
DNA-space for the small number of functional proteins and system
designs that would have worked.

Of course, there are several problems here:

1. He has introduced an even more improbable event (the spontaneous
generation of G.O.D to help out).

2. We are back to the “God of the gaps.” He has no sense of history.
Let’s see. Back when Lord Kelvin came up with an age for the solar
system of around 100M years because Science was not aware of
radioactivity or fusion. I guess back then, Evolution was clearly
wrong because there just wasn’t time for all those complex organs like
eyes, brains, livers, kidneys, and so on to evolve.

I can see now that there is a much better refutation up here from last year.

Why wont the IDers just admit that they are really rooting for the Grand Old Designer?



Quote

Comment #50002

Posted by sjs on September 28, 2005 03:01 PM (e) (s)

————————————————————————————————————————
You folks certainly take yourselves seriously. I must say that I have really enjoyed the intelligent volleys back and forth… quite entertaining and intellectually stimulating.

You will probably argue that I am off point here. But… I believe that our classrooms must not ignore those things that are at the root of all science and religion.

I must tell you at the outset that I don’t know what the proposed texts on Intelligent Design postulate, or promulgate.

You guys are bright I can sense it… my doctorate is in healthcare and my under grad was in biology with a minor in physics, but there is so much that I still just don’t understand. Can you help me with a few thoughts and questions?

I am going to propose the idea (and you may disagree) that the ultimate goal of science is to understand the world in which we live, and from that platform leap towards some tiny understanding of the vast cosmos in which we exist. Of course we are instantly confounded when we begin to think in terms of infinity, unless of course you attempt to wrap your mind around the concept of the space-time continuum. (Is that real science or science fiction or is that spiritual?)
Do we as human beings really have the capacity to understand our actual origins and what was here before there was not “Something”… was there nothing? (can there really ever be nothing?) Or did the nothing come first? So where did whatever it is or is not come from? And just what is this space that we are floating around in? When did evolution begin anyway?

These are scientific questions… or are they spiritual? Who really knows? The point is that infinity is the point where science seems to meet the spiritual.
Religion has tried to explain those things which are not explained by science but often is subverted by men who try to turn religion into science. They expand it to suit their own needs or lack of understanding… Religion then becomes so complex that it goes beyond the divinely inspired and of course it cannot evolve due to the egos of those who have invested themselves in it. (The evolution of a religion would seem to be a regression towards one ultimate and infinitely simple idea. Pretty elegant huh?) Science however was created by man and it does evolve and may one day evolve to a level that explains the ultimate questions, but of course then it risks becoming a religion.

My question is: What are you all arguing about? Why are you all so anal and petty? Can you see that to miss the larger reality and to get lost in the minutia is to miss the entire point. There must be a place in every classroom to discuss the divine… those things that science may never explain but that are the defining particles of all that we are and all that is.

Since “it” is beyond science, defies mathematical calculation, is indescribable in any language, and predates known history. “It” must be discussed in all of these forums as the outer boundary of all that we can ever teach or think.



Quote

Comment #50009

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on September 28, 2005 03:30 PM (e) (s)

   Why wont the IDers just admit that they are really rooting for the Grand Old Designer?

Because of Edwards v. Aguillard. It is already illegal to teach “creation science” in a public school.



Quote

Comment #50012

Posted by spencer on September 28, 2005 03:53 PM (e) (s)

sjs -

Before the mod deletes this comment as being off-topic, I wanted to tell you this one thing:

To my knowledge, nobody here has said that science has all the answers to LIfe, The Universe and Everything. However, it’s pretty #### obvious that ID is not science, and has no place in a science classroom, and certainly has no business being held up as a viable alternative to evolutionary theory.

To treat ID as if it were science is to do a grave disservice to the schoolchildren who are forced to learn it. That’s why we’re being so “anal and petty” about this.



Quote

Comment #50020

Posted by Tim Broderick on September 28, 2005 05:02 PM (e) (s)

That “big tent theory” mentioned today (9/28) in the trial may refer back to this from a 2001 National Post article:

http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:3Ce7qDHkrXc…

“That this theory could be immensely appealing to many people, there can be no doubt. Which is why, given the Bush presidency, and the fact that members of the Bush team were, last spring, extensively briefed on intelligent design, the battle has been joined in the popular press. Make no mistake, despite that East coast sheep’s clothing, Bush is a big middle, red-state robust Methodist with evangelical leanings, who knows that any group with authority to tell a culture’s creation story functions as a kind of priesthood. Intelligent design, because it travels light, is a big tent theory, which has begun to collect around itself such disparate groups as young earth creationists, Hare Krishna, Muslims and Jewish intellectual editors who write for Commentary.

Just how big tent, is not hidden by Dr. Meyer and his colleagues at the Discovery Institute. Intelligent design is nestled in that branch of the Discovery Institute called the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, which claims that the materialism of the last 100 years has denied objective moral standards, claiming that right and wrong evolved to suit societal needs and personal preferences, that materialism undermined belief in personal responsibility, devised utopian political schemes, and advocated coercive government programs that promised heaven on earth, but produced oppression and genocide.”

So they’re going to try and show ID is a big tent theory that everyone can compromise around?



Quote

Comment #50029

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 28, 2005 05:50 PM (e) (s)

   Here you go, Lenny. Luskin explains “intelligent design” in this DI press release:

   Monsters from the ID

Well. OI’ve read it throughs everal times, and, alas, still have no answers to the simple questions: (1) what is the scientific theory of ID, (2) what, according to this scientific theory of ID, did the designer do, specifically, (3) what mechanisms does this scientific theory of ID propose the designer used to do whatever the heck they think it did, and (4) where can we see the designer using any of these mechanisms to do … well . . anything.

I wonder why Luskin (or any of the IDers here on this blog) won’t just answer those simple quesitons for me. After all, ID is an alternative scientific explanation for life and new species, right? One that is science and not religion, right? One that is not based totally and completely on supposed “gaps in evolution”, right?

So please please please, pretty please with sugar on it, won’t some IDer out there tell me what this “alternatvie scientific theory” is?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought.



Quote

Comment #50030

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 28, 2005 05:51 PM (e) (s)

   “It” must be discussed in all of these forums as the outer boundary of all that we can ever teach or think.

Can you propose any way to use the scientific method to investigate “it”?

No?

Then it ain’t science, and doesn’t belong in a sciecne classroom or textbook.

See how easy that was?



Quote

Comment #50031

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 28, 2005 05:53 PM (e) (s)

   It seems to me sufficient to show that I.D. is bad science.

Won’t help. It’s not illegal to teach bad science, or even WRONG science.

It *is*, however, illegal to teach religious opinions by pretending they *are* science.

And that’s all ID is.



Quote

Comment #50039

Posted by RBH on September 28, 2005 06:47 PM (e) (s)

Tim Broderick wrote

   That “big tent theory” mentioned today (9/28) in the trial may refer back to this from a 2001 National Post article:

The “big tent” approach specifically applied to ID Creationism was articulated by Philip Johnson. See this review by Nancy Pearcey, a Discovery Institute hanger-on.

RBH



Quote

Comment #50041

Posted by Uriel Wittenberg on September 28, 2005 06:58 PM (e) (s)

Incredible. Some anti-intellectual fool deleted my 2 comments (while leaving references to them by others).



Quote

Comment #50044

Posted by roger Tang on September 28, 2005 07:42 PM (e) (s)

Did I hear it right? A parent objecting to the school board’s decision to teach ID wrote a letter detailing what she heard. When the parent read the letter to the court, the defense objected….saying it was hearsay evidence.

“Honor, I object! It’s hearsay evidence!”
“What?”
“Hearsay evidence, I say! She’s only reporting what she heard my clients said!”



Quote

Comment #50046

Posted by Michael Hopkins on September 28, 2005 08:14 PM (e) (s)

Reporters avoid contempt charges



Quote

Comment #50048

Posted by Brad Hoot on September 28, 2005 08:20 PM (e) (s)

Showing that teaching Intelligent Design in science classes violates the First Amendment of the Constitution is certainly the primary approach to winning the Kitzmiller v Dover battle. However wouldn’t it also be good to compare the inadvisability of allowing supernatural explanations in science with the inadvisability of allowing supernatural explanations in a courtroom. What judge or jury would ever entertain an argument that says, “The evidence was tampered with by the devil!” Or “The witness did not see my client at the crime scene. It was a demon who took my client’s shape.” I guess the same thing goes for car repair. How would you like your mechanic to charge you $300 to fix a transmission problem and then tell you “I did all I could but a witch has put a curse on your car.” I think you can see the danger here. We must do all we can to exclude supernatural explanations for natural phenomena.



Quote

Comment #50051

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 28, 2005 08:44 PM (e) (s)

   Uriel Wittenberg
   Incredible. Some anti-intellectual fool deleted my 2 comments (while leaving references to them by others).

Of course, fools who cannot, or can’t be bothered to read the second comment on this thread, won’t realize that comments that Wesley finds are not related to Kitzmiller resources (like the one quoted above, and this one) will be progressively moved - not deleted - to a specific thread on the Antievolution board.

These fools, however, may still be able to find their comments, intact, here, as soon as they are finished complaining about non-existent censorship.



Quote

Comment #50052

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 28, 2005 08:49 PM (e) (s)

I meant this Antievolution thread.




Date: 2005/09/29 01:53:45, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #50078

Posted by shafiq on September 29, 2005 06:26 AM (e) (s)

Understanding intelligent design - basic facts!
1) Something called the perception - space - time tunnel!

1a) Perception Window: we have to understand it as the limits of human perceptions, like vision, hearing etc. Just to think that our visual range is limited to the wavelengths between red light to violet is not enough, but we also have to think that infrared and ultraviolet energies are capable of destroying the physical constitution of a human being, starting from our genome!
just like this, the energies of sound, pressure, temperature all provide us a definite range, only within which we can exist and beyond which, we disintegrate! I would request you to consider this range of perception, within which we can exist, as the two vertical frames of a window, through which we are looking at the world around us! And also compare the nano-status of this range to the mega-status of the energies which are outside our perception window! Eg the wavelength of visible light ranges around 450 to 750 nanometers ( 1 nanometer is 1/1000th of a millimeter )

And coming to space, I would like you to observe the world, imagining yourself self as big as the galactic cluster, which contains our milky way, besides billions of other galaxies, (this is the farthermost picture of the universe, that our most advanced telescopes have shown us! ), Just for one reason! because sitting there YOU can see the powerful Giga atoms called galaxies which have their own rotation and revolution cycles; galaxies which are made up of powerful mega-protons which burn up hydrogen and other fuels, which we had been calling stars!!
From there YOU can see that ‘ those mega-electrons ‘ which revolve around those ‘ mega protons ‘ are what we refer to as planets!And these mega-protons and mega-electrons are made up of micro-protons and micro-electrons which we have studied in detail. And these are constituted of Quarks and Gluons.
Our living space lies in the middle of these 4 layers of molecular array that we have discovered so far, and our living space is limited to a few kilometers on, above and below a Mega-electron, that we had been calling Earth!The limits of this living space, I would like you to consider as the horizontal frames of the window through which we are looking at the world! At the same time we have to remember the molecular array above the upper frame of the window and that below the lower frame, so that we can compare, so that we don’t forget the narrowness of our 1b) space window!

1c) Time! Through the above mentioned window, the so-called perception-space window, we are traveling through time since our birth! But what is time? Our time exists just because the earth is revolving and going around the sun. That gives us 24 hours and 365days. The time is different when we go out from this solar system. When I am as big as the milky way, my one year is earth’s 2,25,000 years!! Now you know the minute fraction of the time that we are allotted! More importantly, that time, as we know it, only exists on this mega-electron, just because it is going around that mega-proton in that particular speed and orbit! And most importantly, the limits of the Perception-Space-Time tunnel,that is our own, as an individual,as a human-being is very meager!
If I was living on an electron in a sodium atom, will the sky look the same ?
forget it! What’s important is the fact that How these facts are relevant to the Human race?!
Let’s come to that.When we are traveling through the perception-space-time (PST) tunnel from our birth, we spend about 30 years learning how to live and accommodate us in this tunnel, along with 500millions of co-exist ant tunnels of the people who are living around us ! This learning process is taking place in a complex biological structure called ‘ the Brain’.Whatever we are learning from the PST tunnel and by interacting with other PST tunnels, is stored in a Nero-chemical structural form in the memory area of the cerebrum of the brain.

whatever we have learned, whether it is Hinduism or Christianity or Islam or Humanity, It is stored in there like a program, a soft-ware that guides us through the different situations that we come across. This program and the rules laid down by it determines how we should behave at home, or with the community or the society. May be we have manipulated this basic program a little so as it is convenient for us !True! But how is this relevant?
It becomes relevant when this program becomes corrupt! With MENTAL VIRUSES! Those DEADLY UNSEEN VIRUSES WHICH make a humane being psychotic enough to KILL other HUMAN BEINGS !!



Quote

Comment #50079

Posted by shafiq on September 29, 2005 06:30 AM (e) (s)

Mental Viruses:Infect us like the MAD-DOG virus, to sit in our head and command us to “GO! BITE, BECAUSE “I” WANT TO SPREAD!!”
The earliest one was the St.Jude virus which still roams as e-mails which tempt us to send the mail to 20 friends. If we get infected, we send it. If we are immune, we just press delete.
They are called mental viruses because they infect our mind and spread the way viruses do!There are so many forms.
Eg.1Soldiers made psychotic to kill other human beings : No normal sane human being can kill another except when he is in a rage of revenge or intoxicated or mad! So how do soldiers kill? duty? No, its the head of state programming them to do so to protect their nation!! And this is the duty that is stored in the form of neuronal and neuro-chemical frame work in their brain. The same leads them throughout their line of duty and they are made to forget that what they are killing and raping is innocent human beings! No, everything is not fair in war! Because the same everything has an equal and opposite reaction!
Eg.2Terrorists/suicide bombers made psychotic enough to kill other human beings: Somebody programs them to kill to maintain the status and integrity of the ideology/race/religion/politics etc. When we see even highly educated professionals going in as volunteers for madness, we have to recognize the existence of an unseen-virus! It is beyond our perception ranges, but the effects of its infectivity only is within our sight!Eg.3Money psychosis, power psychosis: does it need any explanation?!!

Now let’s check how the virus in the above examples spreads!
Think yourself as a human who has been manipulated by a close friend to kill one of your fellow beings in the name of religion! Ok you go ahead and did it.
There is no law to catch you and you can roam free after the incident.
But the close circle of human beings in the community that was interacting with the victim has got the virus. They are waiting for the next chance, and you are out of this world! Does it end? No, you have your own close beings who are going to ask for this!!!
Thus he is spreading from victims to victims !!
For man against man
For nation against nation,
For war against war,
This terror against terror;
For wealth against wealth,
for faith against faith,
for hate against hate
He’s making us fight!!!

Can awareness compete this worst viral infective episode that the human race is going through?!!

Is this Evolution of human race in the right direction !!!



Quote

Comment #50082

Posted by shafiq on September 29, 2005 06:33 AM (e) (s)

Evolution: Science has clearly traced evolution, within the PST tunnel!
When we discuss evolution, we have to keep in mind the restrictions and limitations of our perception - space - time tunnel. We have to look at it from beyond the limits set by this tunnel.
Since the largest observed structure of the universe is the Galactic Cluster, which contains our milky way which in turn contains our solar system, imagine yourself as big as the galactic cluster. From there you focus on the minute electron called Earth.
Out of the available elements on earth, you have to create something called a ‘human being’. Easy task uh?! You don’t have hands small enough to sculpt it, you don’t have physical tools small enough to shape it….. Hmmm..Seems tough.!!
But don’t forget. When you are as big as a galactic cluster, what do you consist of? Not the micro-atoms but the powerful Giga-atoms called galaxies which consist of the mega-atoms that we call stars and planets which consist of…….!! What I mean to say is that you have an innate power that your powerful molecular structure imparts to you!!
If the present human being that you are, consists of sodium and potassium and a multitude of atoms and the proteins and other compounds derived from them, and still you have so much intelligence, talents, power and the will to do so many things, What would your capacity and power be, if you consist of the multitude of galaxies which are formed by the powerful nuclei called stars!!!If you can imagine that, then we can start creation!!!
Since you cannot go on earth yourself and do it , because of your size, you have to create a ‘program’ ! Task:You have to arrange these 118 available elements so that they sustain themselves and propagate!
Nowadays it is easy to understand these programs since that’s how you do it on computers!! Olden times, it was really tough!!
Okay! There lies the first genome, the first biological chip!! prion or RNA virus whatever, its good for a beginning!
How did you create this program??
Because you have control over all the energies that you consist of! That’s innate to you. A little welding there with a UV ray, some IR, some gamma and X-rays, everything is available within you and is under your control!
And the genomes you make, eat up the earthly elements and project the coded programs as the physical organs which function according to the installed drivers!!The rest is all there in the books so far written.
IF our 600 million (60 crores) years is your one day, you can mutate these genomes to form retina and optic nerve and the visual cortex to perceive it and then say ‘Let there be Light’ , within your “one day” !
You can cover up this mega-electron with an ozone layer so that we are not burnt up or harmfully mutated to cripples by the “radiations”!!
If during these mutatory evolutions and during your childhood, the toy-like creatures that you created, whom we now call dinosaurs, were not evolving intelligently, but were rather becoming a carnivorous lot which cared only about fighting and killing each other, then you can force one of your mini-electrons on them so that they become extinct and are buried underground as fossils so that we can learn a lesson!
And if on your sixth day(3.6 billion = 3600million = 400crores of earth years ), you have succeeded in mutating the first genome, to another genome, with may be a 20-30amino acid sequence difference, but which projected the earthly elements to something that we now call a primitive human-being, then you deserve to be congratulated, admired and worshiped, and you deserve to take rest on the seventh day!
Because now we know that we are living inside your molecular array, what ever we see and perceive around us, is your energy, filtered through our PST tunnel….
And still more………….

Now we have technologically evolved so much so that we can scientifically prove that You exist!!!
I know, the story I have told you so far, you might have heard the mythical version of it many times.. I too have!
But the story that is yet to come, is OF the medical intensivists and the cryonic life extension forums !
It is about a judiciary which will verdict the maximum punishment of “ Non-anoxic medical brain death and complete resuscitation back to life” instead of ‘hanging till death’ , gas chambers, electrical chairs and cutting the head off !

Its about a group of people tracing the aura of a human being which is formed by the multitude of electrical activity taking place in the neurons in the human brain, It is about tracing out what happens to this electromagnetic field, after death!!



Quote

Comment #50083

Posted by Grey Wolf on September 29, 2005 06:36 AM (e) (s)

I got so far as to read that ultraviolet light can destroy us, and the explanation of what a nanometre is. This blatant stupidity is completely out of place, and I recommend the posts to be deleted (this one too, of course) or at least moved somewhere else.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf


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Comment #50086

Posted by shafiq on September 29, 2005 07:06 AM (e) (s)

take your time, it’s the truth!
http://sqsme.blogspot.com


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Comment #50108

Posted by shafiq on September 29, 2005 12:01 PM (e) (s)

Understanding intelligent design - basic facts!

Inviting you into this different image of space, I would like you to observe the world, imagining yourself self, as big as the galactic cluster (this is the farthermost picture of the universe, that our most advanced telescopes have shown us! ) , which contains our milky way, besides billions of other galaxies, Just for one reason! because sitting there YOU can see the powerful Giga atoms called galaxies which have their own rotation and revolution cycles; galaxies which are made up of powerful mega-protons which burn up hydrogen and other fuels, which we had been calling stars!!
From there YOU can see that ‘ those mega-electrons ‘ which revolve around those ‘ mega protons ‘ are what we refer to as planets! And these mega-protons and mega-electrons are made up of micro-protons and micro-electrons which we have studied in detail. And these are constituted of Quarks and Gluons.
Our living space lies in the middle of these 4 layers of molecular array that we have discovered so far, and our living space is limited to a few kilometers on, above and below a Mega-electron, that we had been calling Earth!The limits of this living space, I would like you to consider as the horizontal frames of the window through which we are looking at the world! At the same time we have to remember the molecular array above the upper frame of the window and that below the lower frame, so that we can compare, so that we don’t forget the narrowness of our space window!
Everything is there around us. May be we have to look into it to see to believe!
Please comment on the ideas at http://sqsme.blogspot.com





Date: 2005/10/03 20:45:04, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
I've put in some work entering arguments shared across Mauro (a pre-Scopes precursor to Johnson's Darwin on Trial), Morris's Scientific Creationism: Public School Edition, and Of Pandas and People 1993 edition.

Date: 2005/10/10 06:41:05, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #50478

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 1, 2005 10:53 AM (e) (s)

Norman,

It must have been tough finding those resources, since you’d have had to read the “Program” sidebar to get them here. In other words, this page has linked to “the other side” all week long.


Quote

Comment #50483

Posted by Esteban Escalera on October 1, 2005 12:25 PM (e) (s)

Link: Darwinism

   wrote:

   This article is about Darwinism as a philosophical concept; see evolution for the page on biological evolution; modern evolutionary synthesis for neo-Darwinism; and also evolution (disambiguation).

It seems that darwinism and evolution aren’t synonymous. IDs are attacking darwinism or evolution theory?


Quote

Comment #50527

Posted by louis homer on October 1, 2005 08:10 PM (e) (s)

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the citizens of the Dover school district will be electing a new school board this November. If they elect a majority opposed to introducing ID in the schools, and that board reverses the present policy, where does that leave the court case? The plaintiffs are presumably satisfied. Does the case end there? Does the judge even have to issue a ruling? If the case is moot would higher courts even consider an appeal evem if the judge has issued a ruling?


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Comment #50545

Posted by Harry Eaton on October 1, 2005 10:34 PM (e) (s)

There’s a good column on sfgate.com worth a read.


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Comment #50558

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on October 2, 2005 12:53 AM (e) (s)

Whatever happens in the November election, the new board will not be seated until January, and if the trial ends around Nov. 1, presumably the judge will be able to write and issue his opinion in November or December.

However, I believe that as a matter of law, once a case is filed, the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict even if the defendant reverses the policy. Otherwise you could have an infinite game of catch-and-mouse, where a case is filed, the policy is rescinded, the case goes away, the policy is put back up, etc…

The exception is if the two sides reach an agreement and sign what I think is called consent decree, e.g. “We’ll drop the policy permanently, if you drop the lawsuit.” This is fairly common in civil liberties suits, but it usually happens at the beginning of a case. In the case of Dover, however, it was clear since before the policy was passed that Buckingham, the other board members, and the Thomas More Law Center wanted to take the ID issue to court.

But remember, I Am Not a Lawyer…


Quote

Comment #50569

Posted by Norman Doering on October 2, 2005 03:43 AM (e) (s)

Wesley R. Elsberry “… you’d have had to read the “Program” sidebar to get them here. In other words, this page has linked to “the other side” all week long.”

Whoops — I tend not to read side bars. You can erase it if you want. And this.


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Comment #50599

Posted by louis homer on October 2, 2005 11:26 AM (e) (s)



Quote

Comment #50558

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on October 2, 2005 12:53 AM (e) (s)

Whatever happens in the November election, the new board will not be seated until January, and if the trial ends around Nov. 1, presumably the judge will be able to write and issue his opinion in November or December.

However, I believe that as a matter of law, once a case is filed, the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict even if the defendant reverses the policy. Otherwise you could have an infinite game of catch-and-mouse, where a case is filed, the policy is rescinded, the case goes away, the policy is put back up, etc…

The exception is if the two sides reach an agreement and sign what I think is called consent decree, e.g. “We’ll drop the policy permanently, if you drop the lawsuit.” This is fairly common in civil liberties suits, but it usually happens at the beginning of a case. In the case of Dover, however, it was clear since before the policy was passed that Buckingham, the other board members, and the Thomas More Law Center wanted to take the ID issue to court.

But remember, I Am Not a Lawyer…

So who would get to approve a consent decree? The new board, or the members of the old board?


Quote

Comment #50605

Posted by JS Narins on October 2, 2005 12:09 PM (e) (s)

NOTE ABOUT THE PRESS RELEASE:

Check out this witty verbiage:

“Design scientists have noted that any time we know the cause behind something full of information, intelligent design played a causal role.

“Intelligent design offers a good deal of positive evidence,” said Luskin. “Design scientists make standard experience-based arguments, appealing to what we know about information rich systems like books and software programs.” Luskin noted that every time we know the cause behind information rich systems, intelligent design played a causal role.”


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Comment #50620

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 2, 2005 01:32 PM (e) (s)

   “Design scientists have noted that any time we know the cause behind something full of information, intelligent design played a causal role.

The ID folks are really pushing this line of “reasoning”, as it were. They’ve never responded to my dissection of their “uniform experience” or “marker of intelligent agency” argument. And the facts go opposite their desired conclusion: whenever people have attributed some biological feature to non-natural causation in the past, and we’ve learned more about that feature, a natural cause has become the accepted explanation for that feature. In other words, our “uniform experience” is that in every case where the DI’s “logic” has been used in the way they suggest, it has been wrong. One would think that would give them pause. But apparently, like the weird kid on the playground, they are too caught up in the fantasy they’ve constructed to note any intrusion of reality into that world.


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Comment #50625

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 03:13 PM (e) (s)

Where in those links are the uniform experience and marker of intelligent agency dissections?


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Comment #50626

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 03:14 PM (e) (s)

Or is it in the video?


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Comment #50627

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 2, 2005 03:19 PM (e) (s)

I go over the reasons why the “marker of intelligent agency” argument is unsound in the video. My Powerpoint file is linked from this post.


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Comment #50630

Posted by Jim Harrison on October 2, 2005 03:31 PM (e) (s)

I don’t know why Luskin keeps pushing his line: “Design scientists have noted that any time we know the cause behind something full of information, intelligent design played a causal role.” The premise is false: living things are full of information; and we have mountains of evidence that they weren’t designed.


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Comment #50634

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 03:46 PM (e) (s)

If Casey Ruxpin was a scientist, instead of a minister, he’d know statements like that are called “hand-waving”.


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Comment #50640

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 04:23 PM (e) (s)

Boy, don’t you have to feel sorry for the Discovery Institute? They spend like 17 years fitting this nice Intelligent Design sheep’s clothing on their creationism wolf, only to have a guy like Bill Buckingham jump on and ride it into town.

It makes me laugh and feel pity at the same time.


Quote

Comment #50642

Posted by bill on October 2, 2005 04:27 PM (e) (s)

Over at EvolutionNews.org, our Mr. Casey Luskin takes on the definition of Science itself. Picking at Dr. Pinnock’s testamony in Harrisburg last week, Luskin draws this conclusion.

At least, I think it’s a conclusion. Well, sort of. Maybe. I wonder if my State Farm agent qualifies?

   The main point of this section is that fundamental to ID theory is the observation that any agent with intelligence will solve problems in similar ways in all cases when designing physical objects. Be they natural or supernatural, intelligent agents are capable of thinking with the end in mind to select a complex arrangement of parts that conforms to a specific pattern to fulfill some function.

If this is the best the Discovery Institute can do, then I think we are witnessing a meltdown. They are one step short of quoting the Cowardly Lion: “I do believe in ghosts! I do, I do, I do!” Perhaps they’ll save that one for Kansas.


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Comment #50645

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 04:47 PM (e) (s)

Casey puts his hands in the air, and waves them like he just don’t care.


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Comment #50647

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 04:49 PM (e) (s)

Casey is at the Dover trial, you know. What I wouldn’t give to ask him, on the stand, the following three questions:

Do you run a club which promotes Intelligent Design Theory? (yes)
Can I join your club? (are you a christian?)
What’s being christian have to do with supporting Intelligent Design? (uh..well…uh…)


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Comment #50649

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 2, 2005 05:53 PM (e) (s)

   Can I join your club? (are you a christian?)

You can join the IDEA Club, all right. You just can’t serve as an officer without flashing the True Christian ID card and giving the secret handshake.


Quote

Comment #50762

Posted by Jeff Durkin on October 3, 2005 11:45 AM (e) (s)

One of the amusing things about the DI “explanation” of how their “theory” works is that a) “every time we know the cause behind information rich systems, intelligent design played a causal role” and b) “Intelligent design theory does not claim that science can determine the identity of the intelligent cause.”

So, ID has a very low applicable threshold (whenever “information content” reaches some arbitrary level - i.e., apparently whatever an individual IDer thinks is appropriate) but the actual causal mechanism of the observable phenomenon can’t be explained and isn’t even part of the “theory.”

Which, leads one to ask, what is the point of the “theory” even if we were to accept its premise? Admittedly, this would require sucking our brains out through our ears, but, once the slurping noises have stopped, we are left with a “theory” that, by the admission of its proponents, explains nothing.

What exactly is the purpose of saying “yep, that was designed by an intelligent entity” and following this by “but we can’t demonstrate how, we can’t devise experiments to prove or disprove any related hypothesis on the creative mechanism (because, there are no hypothesis to test) and the ultimate causal mechanism, the Creator/Creators/the FSM, isn’t even part of the “theory.” How can proponents of this “theory” find it satisfying without a religious/belief component?

Even on its own terms, ID is less satisfying than traditional Creationism. At least Creationists say that a God with specific characteristics created the universe for certain purposes (my favorite: God made man to give him “Glory”, making God out to be afflicted by a serious self-esteem issue). If the IDers are being honest (which I doubt), then they have essentially taken the attitude “s**t happens” as the basis for their view of the universe.

Seems pretty hollow, doesn’t it?


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Comment #50826

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 3, 2005 07:02 PM (e) (s)

   Which, leads one to ask, what is the point of the “theory” even if we were to accept its premise?

“God exists”.

That is the only point that ID even ATTEMPTS to establish.


Quote

Comment #50836

Posted by Bob Maurus on October 3, 2005 07:24 PM (e) (s)

So, Casey “noted that every time we know the cause behind information rich systems, intelligent design played a causal role.”

That’s true, as far as he went. The precise and therefore more accurate observation is that every time we know the cause behind information rich systems human design played a causal role. Consequently, as Horatio’s Hypothesis proposes, the universe and all biological organisms are the result of human design.
Enough said?


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Comment #50838

Posted by steve on October 3, 2005 07:43 PM (e) (s)

Yeah, i made a mistake of detail. Corrected version:

Casey is at the Dover trial, you know. What I wouldn’t give to ask him, on the stand, the following four questions:

Do you run a club which promotes Intelligent Design Theory? (yes)
Can I join your club? (sure)
Can I be an officer in your club? (are you a christian?)
What’s being christian have to do with leading the Intelligent Design movement? (uh..well…uh…)


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Comment #50909

Posted by Gerard Harbison on October 4, 2005 10:38 AM (e) (s)

The Discovery Institute claims today that 85 ‘scientists’ have signed an amicus brief in the Dover trial in support of the contention “that protecting the freedom to pursue scientific evidence for intelligent design stimulates the advance of scientific knowledge.” Looks like the usual suspects (Skell, Carlson).

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.ph…

Maybe time to get an amicus brief from 500 scientists called Steve?


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Comment #50915

Posted by Ken Willis on October 4, 2005 12:19 PM (e) (s)

Ed Brayton favorably quotes Bruce Gordon on when a new scientific theory is entitled to respectful debate:

   “….the theory has been prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world.”

I’m having trouble reconciling this and similar statements with what I think Kuhn said about the structure of scientific revolutions, and also knowing that the hypothesis that peptic ulcers could be treated with antibiotics was initially rejected out of hand by a broad consensus of scientists.

Maybe someone can help, I’m probably missing a qualitative distinction. If I were the judge in Kittsmiller I would want to understand this better.

Date: 2005/10/10 06:43:40, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #50920

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on October 4, 2005 01:03 PM (e) (s)

Edward J. Larson, author of several books on the history of evolution and creationism, will be on NPR’s Fresh Air program today. He will probably discuss the trial in a historical context.


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Comment #50921

Posted by caerbannog on October 4, 2005 01:38 PM (e) (s)


I’m having trouble reconciling this and similar statements with what I think Kuhn said about the structure of scientific revolutions, and also knowing that the hypothesis that peptic ulcers could be treated with antibiotics was initially rejected out of hand by a broad consensus of scientists.

Maybe someone can help, I’m probably missing a qualitative distinction….

Did Marshall and Warren react to initial scientific skepticism by avoiding further interactions with the scientific community in favor of pitching their ideas to local churches and school-boards?

Once you’ve answered that question, the qualitative distinction you are looking for will jump right out at you.


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Comment #50926

Posted by ben on October 4, 2005 02:34 PM (e) (s)

New hypotheses should initially be looked at somewhat dismissively. Anyone can formulate a hypothesis (for instance, that the diversity of life could only have been created by intelligent means), and plenty of people do. But scientific revolutions aren’t about hypotheses, they’re about theories. You only have a theory when you have not just hypothesizing that something might be true, but have also demonstrated that your idea explains the vast majority of the available evidence and suggests further research programs which hold the potential to extend or falsify the theory.

To your example, when it was suggested that antibiotics would cure ulcers, the constructive response from scientists wasn’t, “great, thanks for solving that problem”; it was “prove it.”


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Comment #50927

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 4, 2005 02:41 PM (e) (s)

   Gerard Harbison wrote:

   The Discovery Institute claims today that 85 ‘scientists’ have signed an amicus brief in the Dover trial in support of the contention “that protecting the freedom to pursue scientific evidence for intelligent design stimulates the advance of scientific knowledge.” Looks like the usual suspects (Skell, Carlson).

   http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.ph……

   Maybe time to get an amicus brief from 500 scientists called Steve?

Huh? That is pretty odd in several ways.

No one is challenging the freedom to pursue scientific evidence, just pointing out that ID creationists have failed to pursue, or failed to catch such evidence. The current debate is over science education in the public high schools.

Finding evidence to support an argument from ignorance is difficult indeed.

Any scientist who wishes to pursue such evidence can undoubtedly find adequate funding from the Discovery Institute and other such apologetics foundations.

The link you provided lists only two paragraphs of the brief, not the whole thing. There is no link to the entire text.

The link you provided does not list all 85 names nor provide a link to a list. The claim is made that signees are “professional scientists”, although this cannot be independently verified without the list. The only 3 names of scientists listed are Phil Skell, Lyle H. Jensen and Dr. Russell W. Carlson.

“All Amici agree that courts should decline to rule on the scientific validity of theories which are the subject of vigorous scientific debate.” - Irrelevant to the current situation.


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Comment #50929

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 4, 2005 02:51 PM (e) (s)

   Ken Willis wrote:

   Ed Brayton favorably quotes Bruce Gordon on when a new scientific theory is entitled to respectful debate:

   “….the theory has been prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world.”

   I’m having trouble reconciling this and similar statements with what I think Kuhn said about the structure of scientific revolutions, and also knowing that the hypothesis that peptic ulcers could be treated with antibiotics was initially rejected out of hand by a broad consensus of scientists.

   Maybe someone can help, I’m probably missing a qualitative distinction. If I were the judge in Kittsmiller I would want to understand this better.

If you were the judge in the case, you would probably do a better job spelling Kitzmiller.

To help clear up your other trouble I have highlighted a phrase for you. Of course I don’t know “what you think Kuhn said”. Maybe you think he said that scientific revolutions happen in the science classes of public schools.


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Comment #50932

Posted by Mike on October 4, 2005 03:16 PM (e) (s)

“A group of scientists has filed a brief asking the court not to rule on the question of what is and is not legitimate science because they fear it will violate academic freedom and inhibit future research. This is the standard line coming from the Discovery Institute and Ed Brayton debunks it here.”

In the discussion at the Ed Brayton link they mention this was filed amicus. Has this been, in any way, challenged yet? And do the plaintiffs intend to challenge it? It’s fine for Brayton to give an argument debunking this idea on his blog, but it may be seen as credible with the court if it is not explicitly challenged in that venue. And that could be very bad because, due to the nature of the IDers wedge strategy, ID’s scientific status (op lack thereof) is very much the matter at issue here, both philosophically and legally. Would we really want them to prevail because the court believes it cannot rule on the scientific status of ID? Imagine what could happen on a huge array of issues (from *any* theory taught in science classes to public safety, consumer fraud, etc) if they succeed in establishing a precedent that a court is never allowed to rule based on what is legitimate or is not considered legitimate science. Science and scientific expertise, of any and every stripe, would be rendered totally useless legally as a means of judging the truth or probability of factual claims relevant to any issue. This brief is simply a silly argument.


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Comment #50933

Posted by Mike on October 4, 2005 03:16 PM (e) (s)

“A group of scientists has filed a brief asking the court not to rule on the question of what is and is not legitimate science because they fear it will violate academic freedom and inhibit future research. This is the standard line coming from the Discovery Institute and Ed Brayton debunks it here.”

In the discussion at the Ed Brayton link they mention this was filed amicus. Has this been, in any way, challenged yet? And do the plaintiffs intend to challenge it? It’s fine for Brayton to give an argument debunking this idea on his blog, but it may be seen as credible with the court if it is not explicitly challenged in that venue. And that could be very bad because, due to the nature of the IDers wedge strategy, ID’s scientific status (op lack thereof) is very much the matter at issue here, both philosophically and legally. Would we really want them to prevail because the court believes it cannot rule on the scientific status of ID? Imagine what could happen on a huge array of issues (from *any* theory taught in science classes to public safety, consumer fraud, etc) if they succeed in establishing a precedent that a court is never allowed to rule based on what is legitimate or is not considered legitimate science. Science and scientific expertise, of any and every stripe, would be rendered totally useless legally as a means of judging the truth or probability of factual claims relevant to any issue. This brief is simply a silly argument.


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Comment #50936

Posted by Mike on October 4, 2005 03:22 PM (e) (s)

Sorry about the double post above. I’m not used to posting here and I hit “Post” twice because it seemed to be taking too long.


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Comment #50946

Posted by Ken Willis on October 4, 2005 05:15 PM (e) (s)

   Bayesian Buffoon wrote:

   If you were the judge in the case, you would probably do a better job spelling Kitzmiller.

You should be grateful. I gave you a chance to show what an ####### you are.

   caerbannog wrote:

   Did Marshall and Warren react to initial scientific skepticism by avoiding further interactions with the scientific community in favor of pitching their ideas to local churches and school-boards?

   Once you’ve answered that question, the qualitative distinction you are looking for will jump right out at you.

The question goes to the lack of consensus among scientists and what evidentiary value that has, not whether the proponent of a new theory should keep trying to make his case.

   ban wrote:

   To your example, when it was suggested that antibiotics would cure ulcers, the constructive response from scientists wasn’t, “great, thanks for solving that problem”; it was “prove it.”

The response was more like “you’re nuts.”

Well, thanks but my question is still not answered.


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Comment #50950

Posted by darwinfinch on October 4, 2005 05:48 PM (e) (s)

I’m not even a scientist, Ken, but I’ll answer your question right after you answer a few of mine. You clearly know everything about everything, or at least have an opinion (which undoubtedly as the same low value of that which such pedestrian opinions as yours are scatologically, but in your case quite literally, compared.) Ahem…

— If God exists, and is male, how big and of what substance is his “willy” and what does he do with it?

— If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?

and, of course,

— When did you stop beating your wife?

I offer these challenges in the same spirit (being willfully uninterested in any answers you can make) which you have offered yours, although with considerably more forthrightness and intelligence snort!> than a mean little idiot puffed-up poseur like yourself could ever manifest.
I thank you.


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Comment #50956

Posted by ben on October 4, 2005 06:46 PM (e) (s)

A consensus of scientists responded to the hypothesis “ulcers are caused by bacteria” by saying “that’s nuts,” and were proven wrong.

Therefore, we should teach, as science, in science class, anything scientists think is nuts? Or—let me guess—we should teach just the one pet idea (ID, which doesn’t come close to being a theory) that you would like to see taught as science?

Let’s open the door to more scientific revolutions by screwing around with the definition of science until it doesn’t work anymore.


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Comment #50957

Posted by ben on October 4, 2005 06:50 PM (e) (s)

Also, you didn’t ask a question.


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Comment #50964

Posted by Logicman on October 4, 2005 09:19 PM (e) (s)

This is a very funny article concerning the Dover trial:

http://ydr.com/story/doverbiology/87427/


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Comment #50965

Posted by vhutchison on October 4, 2005 09:50 PM (e) (s)

Isn’t it very unlikely that the judge would at this time entertain an amicus brief?

There is an online petition at

http://shovelbums.org

that has 10,765 signatures of scientists against ID with a description of how the list will be checked and used - mainly for media purposes.


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Comment #50968

Posted by Ken Willis on October 4, 2005 10:12 PM (e) (s)

Hmmmm…….Guess there are no adults here at the moment. But Ben, I did ask a question. I was sincere about it at the time, but that was because I thought there were actually some here who could answer it.

It seems to me that a consensus or a lack of consensus may not be relevant evidence of anything. To be relevant a fact must make another fact more likely. I am asking whether a lack of consensus of scientists is relevant evidence that a new theory is good science, bad science, or science at all. It appears to me that since the consensus of scientists is often dead wrong, it just doesn’t mean anything, and therefore should not be admissible evidence in court.

But Ben, I am not asking you or the bayesian buffoon or any of the other nimrods that seem to lurking here at the moment. I pose the question only in the slight chance that a real scientist with a somewhat social personality happens to drop in and feel like giving an honest answer.

I have no idea what the judge in Kitzmiller [buffoon, please check my spelling] will do but won’t you all feel foolish if there is a ruling to that effect in this case? Actually, I guess that time has already passed since there has already been testimony that IDC is not generally accepted in the scientific community. But, pardon me I know this is over your heads, but Daubert replaced the former Frye test under which expert testimony had to first be shown to be based upon theories that were “generally accepted” in the scientific community.

The “general acceptance” standard of Frye was viewed by many as unduly restrictive, because it sometimes operated to bar testimony based on intellectually credible but somewhat novel scientific approaches. In Daubert, the Supreme Court held that the Frye test had been superseded by the adoption, in 1973, of Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. That rule does not even mention “general acceptance,” but simply provides: “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.”

So courts now recognize that general acceptance is not required to admit expert testimony. Daubert will let in testimony that might have been excluded under Frye. So isn’t that saying that general acceptance, i.e., the consensus of scientists is not relevant to the qualification of an expert or to whether his opinion is admissible? Yes, and by the same logic, a lack of consensus of scientists should not be relevant to prove that a new theory or a novel scientific approach is or is not science.

I don’t think ID is science and I don’t want it taught in schools, but so what? I ask a serious question; I welcome correction if I am wrong; I know that I may be. But all I found here was a bunch of snot-nosed jerks with a computer.

What does Scientific American think this is such a great website? Have they ever been here?


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Comment #50970

Posted by roger Tang on October 4, 2005 10:37 PM (e) (s)

Guess there are no adults here at the moment.

That applies to yourself even more so.

By the way, your converse does not necessarily hold true; saying that general acceptance is not necessary does not mean that it is not relevant.


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Comment #50972

Posted by roger Tang on October 4, 2005 10:40 PM (e) (s)

Also, the statement “a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise” certainly would have to refer to some sort of acceptance of expertise, which does, in fact, refer an accumulated body of knowledge in order to determine that is IS expert…which leads back to some sort of general acceptance of expertise.


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Comment #50991

Posted by Edin Najetovic on October 5, 2005 05:34 AM (e) (s)

To Ken Willis: You waved off the answer of one of the earliest replies to your question as if that was totally irrelevant. In fact, it is not and I do not see what you achieve in just dismissing it as you did.

The big difference between ID and the discovery of the bacteria that cause ulcers really boils down to this: ID is not attempting to make an empirically founded basis to their theories instead choosing to try to get their ideas taught in science class. This would be skipping a few steps and trying to get recognition for something as ‘science’ that has not yet showed itself to be scientifically testable, a most deplorable state of affairs for a supposedly scientific theory.

On the other hand, the researchers who recently had their breakthrough did actual research and not rhetorics. They got their ideas into testable theories and when they weres still laughed off they tested them (on) themselves. They persevered in the face of great opposition and succeeded in the end by the virtue of only their research. None of their actions involved first trying to get their untested ideas into science books or the like.

Of course, this only shows what the difference in aims of the two parties are: Marshall and Warren were trying to come up with explanations for a phenomenon they thought was not explained satisfactorily for no other purpose than the knowledge itself. On the other hand, the ID theorists are working for no other purpose than getting their territories into the classroom (the exact motive I leave unadressed but should be pretty obvious), the method is not deemed relevant as should be self-evident by the nature of the ‘theory’ of ID as it is today.

This is still not a refutation of ‘what Kuhn said’ (you were vague on this as someone else pointed out, what specifically did you mean?) that both are paradigm shifts. Still, despite all this ID is not an attack on the scientific paradigm. ID would be a paradigm shift in that it is not science and a very different approach to explaining the world by other means than science. The problem is, it tries very hard to be science for strategic purposes (which I just established are more important to them than knowledge driven ones). In that, it loses all its value. It tries to be something it can never be by the inherent nature of its theory. If it abandons the label ‘science’ and then tries to be taught in school (not as science but something vague and meaningless like “explanations of the world”) it could be an attack on the paradigm of science as a whole. How valuable ID would then be as opposed to similar school subjects like religion or philosophy is debatable but not relevant to this particular point.

ID does not try to do this however and falls short internally and can therefore not be seen as a valid attack on anything, let alone evolution. This is not to say that it did not make interesting points in the beginning -IC was an interesting concept for the 3 seconds that it lasted- but it is totally irrelevant as a theory as has been showed many times.

I feel also that I must apologise for the rather juvenile attacks on you by some other members of this discussion. They easily see red nowadays because they are simply tired, I assume, due to incessant claims of ID people. They easily see red these days ;)


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Comment #50995

Posted by Edin Najetovic on October 5, 2005 05:48 AM (e) (s)

Also, legal courts are irrelevant to science. They are very relevant where educational policy is concerned but science should not be concerned with the going ons in court.

In fact, the reason why science is empirically based is that a consensus based on the senses can be adhered by all because everyone can see hear or otherwise detect the evidence as opposed to making bold claims that you have no other way to test than to believe, no valid consensus could ever arise from such claims (examples: ID, Religion etc.). So in essence, science is a way of building a consensus over the workings of the world. That this consensus has applications is something scientists usually don’t really care too much about, but have to research anyway to get their commissions ;) Never forget that ‘knowledge’ that science hopes to build up is based on general agreement on a framework of theories. It is true that this agreement is founded on natural arguments which are the same to every one, but it is still agreement.


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Comment #51021

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 5, 2005 09:08 AM (e) (s)

   Ken Willis wrote:

   You should be grateful. I gave you a chance to show what an ####### you are.

I bow to your superiority in this regard.

   Hmmmm…….Guess there are no adults here at the moment….
   What does Scientific American think this is such a great website? Have they ever been here?

Apparently they checked it out before you put in an appearance.


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Comment #51029

Posted by whatever on October 5, 2005 09:52 AM (e) (s)

From the MSNBC article
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9492208/

“‘This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda,’ said Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., in his opening statement. The center, which lobbies for what it sees as the religious freedom of Christians, is defending the school district.”

Since when does free inquiry rule out discussion about the origin of life, which the Dover statement explicitly rules out? Why is discussion about the origin of life blocked in Dover schools, if not for religious sensitivity?

Date: 2005/10/10 06:48:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #51043

Posted by Flint on October 5, 2005 10:46 AM (e) (s)

   Ken Willis wrote:

   I am asking whether a lack of consensus of scientists is relevant evidence that a new theory is good science, bad science, or science at all. It appears to me that since the consensus of scientists is often dead wrong, it just doesn’t mean anything, and therefore should not be admissible evidence in court.

The consensus of scientists, far from being “often dead wrong” is significantly wrong rarely enough to be newsworthy in and of itself. Peer review is a workable system for a reason: It eliminates a mountain of chaff for every kernel it inadvertently blocks. It’s necessary, real, effective, and important.

Lack of consensus of scientists about some aspect of reality doesn’t relate to whether something is good or bad science, but about the nature of the matter under debate. Failed hypotheses are not “bad science”, they are typically excellent science. Where consensus is not available is typically at the cutting edge of scientific research, and indicates that not enough is yet known about what’s being studied. Bad science in fact generates as solid a consensus as possible in the world of opinionated people — scientists tend to know how science works and how it does not. Bad science implies a violation of established procedures. In the case of ID, it’s an attempt to do an end-run around everything science does for a living, by simply *declaring* the untestable to be Truth. Uh, scientific Truth.

   whatever wrote:

   Since when does free inquiry rule out discussion about the origin of life

I don’t think this is being ruled out at all. Indeed, what’s being ruled out is the *exact opposite* of free inquiry, it’s the teaching (perhaps indirectly and subtly, but nonetheless) that life originated the way one particular religious doctrine teaches — and teaching that as scientific fact.

However, I should mention that 9th grade is NOT the appropriate venue for “free inquiry”, it’s the appropriate venue for teaching what is widely and commonly accepted as accurate, as part of the process of giving children an appropriate background of what has been established beyond any reasonable doubt, to be used as a foundation for (much) later investigation into what IS in doubt.

The claim that teaching religious doctrine as scientific fact is “free inquiry in education” is something Orwell must be chuckling over in his grave.


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Comment #51059

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 5, 2005 11:48 AM (e) (s)

   The claim that teaching religious doctrine as scientific fact is “free inquiry in education” is something Orwell must be chuckling over in his grave.

Should be easy enough to verify, with the proper test equipment.


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Comment #51065

Posted by Harq al-Ada on October 5, 2005 12:28 PM (e) (s)

Ken, I hope that you will forgive the people here for being reactive and sometimes immature. I’ve lurked here a lot (and occasionally wrote comments) and have quickly identified with the frustration here. You have to understand that these people have patiently dealt with the most persistent and asinine arguments (and often ad-hominem attacks) from creationists, most of whom have no intention of critical evaluation of the relevant arguments or their own beliefs. Some Thumbers have been here for a very long time and their patience has eroded. It is singularly unrewarding to patiently explain concepts to people who have no intention of critical thought, who then accuse you of having a closed mind. On the whole, the strategy of just flaming people who seem like creationists until they flee has saved time. Unfortunately, someone who may have the capacity for reasoned conversation, such as (hopefully) yourself, might become an innocent bystander.


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Comment #51071

Posted by Harq al-Ada on October 5, 2005 12:38 PM (e) (s)

You seem to have the personal attacks on hair-trigger yourself, though. Someone corrects your spelling and you call him a buffoon and an #######. Maybe you brought a lot of this on yourself.


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Comment #51072

Posted by Harq al-Ada on October 5, 2005 12:38 PM (e) (s)

You seem to have the personal attacks on hair-trigger yourself, though. Someone corrects your spelling and you call him a buffoon and an #######? Maybe you brought a lot of this on yourself.


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Comment #51074

Posted by Ken Willis on October 5, 2005 12:43 PM (e) (s)

Thanks to Edin Najetovic and flint, the adults have returned. I appreciate your comments and find them helpful.

What I think Kuhn said in his seminal book about the structure of scientific revolutions is that science is like most human endeavors in that certain ways of thinking become entrenched. When a new theory comes along that departs significantly from traditional understanding, it may be strongly resisted when first introduced. Kuhn doesn’t think there is anything wrong with that, in fact it is probably a good thing and acts as a check on quack theories. You all, meaning you adults, are no doubt better informed on this than I so I will defer to you on it if you disagree.

But if I am even half right about what I think I read in Kuhn’s book, it means that we should not be too quick to condemn a new theory, or a novel scientific approach, solely because the current consensus is against it. In the case of ID you have given other good reasons to condemn it, and I agree completely.

I want to make a comparison to what I think Kuhn said to the adoption of the Daubert standard and the abolition of the Fyre test for the admission of scientific opinions in a court proceeding. The Frye test relied on the “general acceptance” of scientific opinions in the scientific community. Kuhn says, if I am correct, that new theories don’t start out with very much general acceptance. Scientists are skeptical of new theories, and rightly so.

In its own way, the law seems to have caught up with Kuhn by adopting the Daubert rule because it rejects the “general acceptance” standard and will allow scientific opinions to be expressed in court that Frye might have excluded.

But this comes with a catch 22. If scientific opinions are now deemed relevant even though they lack general acceptance, it will no longer be possible to discredit a new theory or novel scientific approach simply by showing that it lacks general acceptance. Because both Kuhn and the Supreme Court in Daubert recognize that if general acceptance, i.e., consensus, is a pre-requiste for a scientific opinion, no new opinions will likely make the cut.

This revelation weakens court testimony that ID cannot be science because there is a consensus in the scientific community against it. There has to be more than a lack of consensus. You adults have shown that there is more, and I believe you. But many have assumed, in my view, that a lack of consensus was a death knell for ID. I doubt it.


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Comment #51080

Posted by Flint on October 5, 2005 12:59 PM (e) (s)

Ken Willis:

   This revelation weakens court testimony that ID cannot be science because there is a consensus in the scientific community against it. There has to be more than a lack of consensus. You adults have shown that there is more, and I believe you.

So long as it’s clear that you understand what we’re trying to say, then there’s no problem. I think we agree that scientific consensus is intended to mean “consensus as to how the data are to be interpreted”, and that there can legitimately be differences of opinion in this regard. But there is a qualitative difference between a consensus about scientific evidence, and consensus that where there is no evidence, there is no science. No Kuhnian revolution in science will result in a “new scientific paradigm” that religious doctrine trumps evidence or renders it irrelevant. If that should happen, there’s no more science going on.

And once again, there is no “lack of consensus” about ID. Instead, there is an overwhelming consensus that ID is not science at all. ID isn’t in any way “disqualified as science” because of a consensus against it. It is disqualified for being (a) untestable and unfalsifiable; and (b) straight creationist religious doctrine set forth in unusually misleading terminology. The scientific community has been fairly unanimous in their willingness to accord ID genuine merit, if only it should ever propose a testable hypothesis and thus enter the domain that is science.


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Comment #51081

Posted by Ken Willis on October 5, 2005 01:00 PM (e) (s)

Harq al-Ada, thanks. You are thoughtful and I will take your comments to heart.

You may be right about my hair trigger, but this isn’t the first time Bayesian Bouffant has got up my nose. Trying to appease someone who jumps at the chance to break your balls over a misspelled word is a fools errand, in my view. I’ll make the first overture by stopping calling him a “buffoon,” but I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut hole it won’t work.

I’m very much aware of how nauseating it is to try to reason with creationists or ID advocates, which I think are the same but they deny vehemently.

BTW, the testimony of John Haught on Friday to the effect that ID is theological idolatry because it reduces the divine to the profane, or something like that, is one of the most interesting ideas I have heard.

God, I hope I haven’t misspelled anything.


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Comment #51085

Posted by Ken Willis on October 5, 2005 01:11 PM (e) (s)

Flint, you’re right there is a consensus on ID and the consensus is against it. I should have said there was a lack of consensus in favor of it. There are scientists who are in favor of it, but not a consensus and nothing near general acceptance. I still am skeptical of whether that is powerful evidence in a courtroom, especially to a judge sitting without a jury. We might find out because this judge will no doubt issue a detailed ruling which may address this point.

He could say, “I don’t find the testimony that there exists a consensus of scientists against ID to be the determining factor……” and then go on to find some other determining factor that makes it religion and not science. Or he may say the opposite, or me may say nothing at all about this.


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Comment #51088

Posted by caerbannog on October 5, 2005 01:14 PM (e) (s)

   Ken Willis wrote:

   But this comes with a catch 22. If scientific opinions are now deemed relevant even though they lack general acceptance, it will no longer be possible to discredit a new theory or novel scientific approach simply by showing that it lacks general acceptance. Because both Kuhn and the Supreme Court in Daubert recognize that if general acceptance, i.e., consensus, is a pre-requiste for a scientific opinion, no new opinions will likely make the cut.

What you must not ignore is the conduct of the proponents of said “new theory”. Are the proponents seriously attempting to engage the skeptical scientific community, or are they instead seeking audiences not professionally qualified to scrutinize their claims?

Marshall and Warren eventually prevailed because they *engaged the scientific community*. IOW, they conducted themselves in a professional manner, making their case to other *professionals*. They invested the time and effort to marshal the necessary evidence to win over their skeptical colleagues. That’s the way to get the scientific community to acdept a new theory. (It’s also the best way to win a Nobel prize).

What Marshall and Warren did *not* do is go around to fundamentalist churches and small-town school-boards pitching their ideas to folks who wouldn’t know the difference between a Helicobacter and a helicopter.

And remember, for every valid “new theory” that is at first dismissed by the scientific community, hundreds of invalid theories/hypotheses are also rejected.

Now with all that said, Mr. Willis, how do you see the proponents of ID “theory” conducting themselves? Do you see them acting in a professional manner, attempting to engage those who are professionally qualified to scrutinize their claims (like Marshall and Warren did)? Or do you see ID proponents acting more like those smooth-talking late-night infomercial pitchmen, deliberately seeking out audiences who are ill-equipped to scrutinize their claims?


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Comment #51093

Posted by Flint on October 5, 2005 01:31 PM (e) (s)

Ken Willis:

   Flint, you’re right there is a consensus on ID and the consensus is against it. I should have said there was a lack of consensus in favor of it.

Maybe it’s my wrong inference, but this doesn’t make it clear to me that we’re communicating. There isn’t a scientific consensus that ID is wrong. One of the witnesses in this trial came out and said that for all we can tell, we were created 10 minutes ago complete with memory chips. Instead, there is a consensus that ID is not science. Even some of the most prominent scientists who support ID (who just happen to be devout fundamentalists) admit that ID is not science. The consensus, to the contrary, is that ID might very well be true, but we have no way to determine this, even in principle, and therefor it is not science.

Hopefully, the judge will realize that this isn’t a battle between groups of scientists debating the scientific merit of some claim. ID has no scientific merit. It’s not a competing theory (though it is commonly mislabeled this way in an attempt to fool the uneducated). It is a religious attempt to counter what religious people see as the false religious doctrine of evolution, which MUST be a religious doctrine because their religion says so!

The key is the attitude toward evidence. To science, evidence is essential; to ID proponents, it’s optional (and they don’t have any yet, but so what?) So this is NOT a scientific debate in any sense. It’s a territorial dispute, with the ID people trying to claim a territory forbidden to them by the US Constitution, and trying to do so by means of deceit.


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Comment #51128

Posted by Ken Willis on October 5, 2005 03:23 PM (e) (s)

   caerbannog wrote:

   Now with all that said, Mr. Willis, how do you see the proponents of ID “theory” conducting themselves? Do you see them acting in a professional manner, attempting to engage those who are professionally qualified to scrutinize their claims (like Marshall and Warren did)? Or do you see ID proponents acting more like those smooth-talking late-night infomercial pitchmen, deliberately seeking out audiences who are ill-equipped to scrutinize their claims?

The latter.

The ultimate issue before the court is whether (1) ID has a secular legislative purpose; (2) whether its principal or primary effect is one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) whether it fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion.

It’s necessary but not sufficient for the plaintiffs to make the case that ID is not science. Even if it’s not science it might pass the above test. Teaching something that is not science in a science class may be a stupid but won’t be unconstitutional for that reason alone. Judge Overton in McClean v. Arkansas held that creation science was not science but didn’t base his decision on that fact alone. He went to great lengths to show that under the evidence presented it also had no secular purpose, that its primary purpose was the advancement of religion, and therefore it clearly fostered an excessive government entanglement with religion.

So, Flint, I agree with everything you say. It ain’t science, there is a consensus of scientific opinion to that effect. But that is not enough for the plaintiffs to win this case, I don’t think. And the consensus of scientists that ID is not science is not even sufficient to prove it isn’t science. The judge may not agree and may prove me wrong. If so, I’ll eat some crow.


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Comment #51130

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 5, 2005 03:24 PM (e) (s)

YDR reports on Dan Snook, substitute teacher

   Tuesday, October 4, 2005
   Dan Snook said he has taught as a substitute in several York County school districts during the past 20 to 25 years, and he doesn’t believe reading a statement about intelligent design in biology class is a big deal….
   “Evolution is also a religion, with its own set of assumptions and world views,” he wrote in June 2004 in the York Daily Record/Sunday News. “Didn’t Hitler, Mussolini, Chairman Mao and others use Darwin’s ideas and his ‘survival of the fittest’ to conquer, enslave those peoples who they deemed ‘inferior’? Evolution was their religion….
   His specialty is biology, Snook said, though he will teach other courses. He said he received a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Master of Education, both from Shippensburg University….
   He’s been substitute teaching in Dover for about 15 years, and exclusively for that district for about two years….



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Comment #51134

Posted by Flint on October 5, 2005 03:41 PM (e) (s)

Ken Willis:

   It ain’t science, there is a consensus of scientific opinion to that effect. But that is not enough for the plaintiffs to win this case, I don’t think.

Yes, this is true. I think we are kind of taking for granted that establishing the religious motives of all of the ID proponents is so self-evident that it merits no further discussion. There is no debate I’m aware of that the ID proponents are attempting to get their religious doctrine presented as valid science for religious reasons. But nonetheless (as I think you are saying), it’s entirely possible for a religious doctrine to have genuine secular merit. There’s nothing to prevent religions from making perfectly testable claims. So the plaintiffs need to establish both — that it’s motivated by religion (i.e. its INTENT is to introduce a religious doctrine into the public schools), and that it ALSO lacks any secular merit. That second part is the harder part, because it requires that the judge be intimate enough with the scientific method to recognize that the claims that ID is scientific are dishonest both in detail and in underlying assumption. He must recognize that ID not only DOES not have any secular merit, but that it CAN not have such merit in principle.


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Comment #51139

Posted by RBH on October 5, 2005 04:20 PM (e) (s)

From today’s York Daily Record:

   Over the objections of the Dover Area School District’s attorney, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III allowed Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor, to testify in court this morning in Harrisburg.

   Much of her testimony focused on early drafts of the pro-intelligent design textbook “Of Pandas and People.”

   Using exhibits plaintiffs’ attorneys had subpoenaed from Panda’s publisher Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Forrest showed how references to “creation science” in earlier drafts were changed to “intelligent design” after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the teachings of creation science in 1987.

That was exceedingly important to get into the trial record, and why the DI and More Law Center tried so hard to discredit her. Way to go, Barbara!

RBH


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Comment #51142

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 5, 2005 04:38 PM (e) (s)

Ken Willis has suggested that Daubert‘s displacement of Frye means that “general acceptance” is no longer an important factor in determining the admissibility of scientific expertise. With all due respect to Mr. Willis, this is a bit of an oversimplification. I quote from Daubert (I will occasionally omit the court’s citations to authority, which I will signal with ellipses; I have added the bolding of the discussion of “general acceptance”):

   Ordinarily, a key question to be answered in determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge that will assist the trier of fact will be whether it can be (and has been) tested. “Scientific methodology today is based on generating hypotheses and testing them to see if they can be falsified; indeed, this methodology is what distinguishes science from other fields of human inquiry.” … See also C. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Science 49 (1966) (”[T]he statements constituting a scientific explanation must be capable of empirical test”); K. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge 37 (5th ed.) … (”[T]he criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability”).

   Another pertinent consideration is whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication. Publication (which is but one element of peer review) is not a sine qua non of admissibility; it does not necessarily correlate with reliability, … and, in some instances, well-grounded but innovative theories will not have been published … Some propositions, moreover, are too particular, too new, or of too limited interest to be published. But submission to the scrutiny of the scientific community is a component of “good science,” in part because it increases the likelihood that substantive flaws in methodology will be detected…. The fact of publication (or lack thereof) in a peer reviewed journal thus will be a relevant, though not dispositive, consideration in assessing the scientific validity of a particular technique or methodology on which an opinion is premised.

   Additionally, in the case of a particular scientific technique, the court ordinarily should consider the known or potential rate of error, … and the existence and maintenance of standards controlling the technique’s operation… .

   Finally, “general acceptance” can yet have a bearing on the inquiry. A “reliability assessment does not require, although it does permit, explicit identification of a relevant scientific community and an express determination of a particular degree of acceptance within that community.” … Widespread acceptance can be an important factor in ruling particular evidence admissible, and “a known technique which has been able to attract only minimal support within the community,” … may properly be viewed with skepticism.

   The inquiry envisioned by Rule 702 is, we emphasize, a flexible one…. Its overarching subject is the scientific validity - and thus the evidentiary relevance and reliability - of the principles that underlie a proposed submission. The focus, of course, must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that they generate.

Let me add re criticisms of spelling: we could certainly let all typos and misspellings pass—we’ve certainly all made them, and then flinched two seconds after hitting “Post”!—and take the position that any reference to them is sheer nit-pickery. Or purely malicious…

On the other hand, we’ve all seen too many ID/creatoid rants, where the misspellings signalled not just lack of care, but went hand-in-hand with lack of education, lack of logic, and lack of intellectual rigor and integrity in general. Mr. Willis’s original comment, in my view, certainly did not contain any of those other signals of lack of care.

But when we “put ourselves out” in a public forum devoted to a highly-contentious debate, I think we are impliedly agreeing that our comments may be tested for “rigor” on every level. Indeed, that someone has read our submissions with enough care to note—and direct our attention to—even minor and unintended errors, can be read as a form of compliment (if at times a back-handed one).

Mr. Willis may have had reason to doubt that a compliment was BB‘s intent here—but (with considerable trepidation, and hoping I haven’t committed too many egregious blunders of my own) I would suggest that, in general, we should be thankful rather than dismissive for the editorial comments of careful “proofreaders.”


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Comment #51162

Posted by tytlal on October 5, 2005 05:43 PM (e) (s)

Oops!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9601689/

Now stay out of science class!


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Comment #51163

Posted by tytlal on October 5, 2005 05:43 PM (e) (s)

Oops!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9601689/

Now stay out of science class!


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Comment #51176

Posted by steve on October 5, 2005 06:22 PM (e) (s)

That textbook thing is the hotness. I can’t imagine a clearer demonstration that intelligent design is relabeled creationism.


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Comment #51179

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 5, 2005 06:41 PM (e) (s)

Like I’ve always said, if you just let creationist/IDers talk long enough, they shoot themselves in the head, every single time.

They are by far their own worst enemies.


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Comment #51183

Posted by bill on October 5, 2005 07:17 PM (e) (s)

What? You mean “intelligent design” and creation science are the same thing?

I am shocked.


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Comment #51239

Posted by Norman Doering on October 6, 2005 05:46 AM (e) (s)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank “… if you just let creationist/IDers talk long enough, they shoot themselves in the head, every single time…. They are by far their own worst enemies.”

In our eyes, yes, but what about the eyes of the rest of this uneducated country?

Remember when we talked about what might happen if this went to the Supreme Court? (not necessarily this case, but the next)

In reading up on the editorials I’m learning Harriet Miers, Bush’s nomination for the Supreme Court is a fundamentalist. Do you think any of our elected officials will have the balls to ask this question:

Ms. Miers, I believe a rudimentary knowledge of science is necessary for being a Justice of the Supreme Court. Would you tell us, to the best of your knowledge, when was the earth formed and how did homo sapiens come to be the species that it is today?

If they haven’t got the balls to ask her, we are in deep shiite.


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Comment #51261

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 6, 2005 08:13 AM (e) (s)

   Steviepinhead wrote:

   Let me add re criticisms of spelling: we could certainly let all typos and misspellings pass—we’ve certainly all made them, and then flinched two seconds after hitting “Post”!—and take the position that any reference to them is sheer nit-pickery. Or purely malicious…

   On the other hand, we’ve all seen too many ID/creatoid rants, where the misspellings signalled not just lack of care, but went hand-in-hand with lack of education, lack of logic, and lack of intellectual rigor and integrity in general. Mr. Willis’s original comment, in my view, certainly did not contain any of those other signals of lack of care.

   But when we “put ourselves out” in a public forum devoted to a highly-contentious debate, I think we are impliedly agreeing that our comments may be tested for “rigor” on every level. Indeed, that someone has read our submissions with enough care to note—and direct our attention to—even minor and unintended errors, can be read as a form of compliment (if at times a back-handed one).

   Mr. Willis may have had reason to doubt that a compliment was BB‘s intent here—but (with considerable trepidation, and hoping I haven’t committed too many egregious blunders of my own) I would suggest that, in general, we should be thankful rather than dismissive for the editorial comments of careful “proofreaders.”

I did not think my correction of a mis-spelled word that is central to the current discussion and which could have been copy-and-pasted from at least 10 different places in this thread, including the title, was done in a malicious way. Certainly Mr. Willis chose to interpret it in the worst way possible. He also chose to ignore the substantive part of my post.


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Comment #51269

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 6, 2005 09:27 AM (e) (s)

Judge Roberts was asked his views on science in the courtroom. I don’t see why Miers won’t be asked that, too.

I’m not sure that’s the question to ask, though, about her views on geology and human evolution. It’s quite conceivable that a rational creationist could hold creationist views and still defer to the law, which says such religious views cannot be taught by the state. The serious question is whether she will defer to experts in science on the questions of what science is.

And, incidentally, for most of the people concerned about science views, it’s big money items like pharmaceutical and computer chip patents that they worry about. It would be possible to ask questions about science on those issues and scuttle the nomination if she’s way out of line. Check out the blogs of patent lawyers, see what they say.


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Comment #51271

Posted by Norman Doering on October 6, 2005 09:42 AM (e) (s)

Ed Darrell wrote: “Judge Roberts was asked his views on science in the courtroom.”

He was? I only remember Joe Biden trying to ask about science and technological possibilities and then getting lost in his own futuristic sci-fi speculations before he could ask a solid question. Roberts didn’t offer any solid answers either.


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Comment #51319

Posted by Evopeach on October 6, 2005 04:38 PM (e) (s)

The definitive work on the ID movement was chronicled years ago and unmistakingly identified Michael Denton’s book Evolution, a Theory in Crises as the beginning of ID. The former book was peer reviewed and resulted from the successful defense of a MS Thesis the committee including evolutionary biologists. I am aware that like so many otheres Denton was flailed and punished by the evos into denying his ID ties but we’ve seen your one-trick pony used on many scientists who dare to challenge your God.

The kook Barbara is a cult nut case whose writing resembles the x-files scripts.

Her Doctorate is in Animal Husbandry or some such and hardly makes her an expert witness.

The way to tell how a trial goes is at the conclusion moron not while one side has presented their so called best shot. I believe this is a jury trial by the way.

If the jury reflects the American people, the most recent survey showing most people want to have both ideas presented in the schools etc., that does not bode well for the evo wireheads.


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Comment #51321

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 6, 2005 04:44 PM (e) (s)

What’s that smell?
Oh, it must be pig-ignorance.

The way to figure out it’s not a jury trial moron is read something about it.


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Comment #51323

Posted by James Taylor on October 6, 2005 04:52 PM (e) (s)

   CJ O'Brien wrote:

   What’s that smell?
   Oh, it must be pig-ignorance.

   The way to figure out it’s not a jury trial moron is read something about it.

Sort of like studying evidence. In class it is usually more beneficial for the student to do the homework so as to come prepared to discuss today’s topic. Those that don’t do homework are usually asked to put their head down and go back to sleep.


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Comment #51327

Posted by ben on October 6, 2005 05:19 PM (e) (s)

How hard is it to do a Google search and find out that her doctorate is in Philosophy?

How hard is it to understand that someone might become expert in a field other than that in which one is most highly educated? Or that it’s up to the judge to ascertain the witness’ qualifications and, since she’s testifying, apparently the judge thinks she’s an expert? The defense objected repeatedly to her being allowed to testify as a witness and was overruled.

How hard is it to learn enough about a trial you presume to comment on to know what kind of trial it is (again, try Google)?

Evopeach is probably right now thinking that if the trial goes as hoped, evolution will be sent to jail for a long stretch.


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Comment #51328

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on October 6, 2005 05:27 PM (e) (s)

   The definitive work on the ID movement was chronicled years ago and unmistakingly identified Michael Denton’s book Evolution, a Theory in Crises as the beginning of ID. The former book was peer reviewed and resulted from the successful defense of a MS Thesis the committee including evolutionary biologists. I am aware that like so many otheres Denton was flailed and punished by the evos into denying his ID ties but we’ve seen your one-trick pony used on many scientists who dare to challenge your God.

Michael Denton got his PhD in 1974, 10 years before E:ATIC. I did not get a MSc after that, and if he did use a student’s thesis for his book without granting co-authorship, he’d probably would have been in big trouble.

The publisher of E:ATIC, Burnett Books, is not an academic publisher, so I doubt his book went through any kind of scientific review, let alone standard peer review.

As for Denton being “punished and flailed”, he actually seems to have continued his real work and career pretty much unperturbed, got several promotions and appointments, and published many peer-reviewed papers after 1985. His CV is here (MS Word file).

Just for the record.


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Comment #51331

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 6, 2005 05:48 PM (e) (s)

   Michael Denton’s book Evolution, a Theory in Crises as the beginning of ID.

Denton later wrote another book which declared that his previous book was full of crap, asked that DI no longer reference him as an IDer, and that he be removed as a DI “Fellow”.

But, since Evopeach has already demonstrated that he doesn’t know shit from shinola, I’m not surprised that he doesn’t know that. (shrug)


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Comment #51333

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 6, 2005 06:01 PM (e) (s)

Discovery Institute’s whining about Dr Barbara:

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACC…

SEATTLE, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor Barbara Forrest testified in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial that it is her opinion that intelligent design and creationism are essentially one in the same.
“I hope that the media will critically analyze Forrest’s testimony and get our response to her allegations,” said John West. “I would warn them to take what she says not with just a grain of salt, but with a shaker-full.”
“The ACLU’s entire case is built on misrepresenting what intelligent design is, and mischaracterizing it as creationism so we’re not surprised they called Forrest as a witness,” West added.
According to West, creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.
Instead, intelligent design theory attempts to empirically detect whether the apparent design in nature observed by biologists is genuine design (the product of an organizing intelligence) or is simply the product of chance and mechanical natural laws.
“The effort to detect design in nature is being adopted by a growing number of biologists, biochemists, physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science at colleges and universities around the world,” said West. “Scientists engaged in design research include biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University and microbiologist Scott Minnich at the University of Idaho, both of whom will testify for the defense, and astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State University.”


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Comment #51336

Posted by Flint on October 6, 2005 06:10 PM (e) (s)

Evopeach seems to be a beginner in the world of creationism; she hasn’t yet been advised that making easily corrected errors of fact is discouraged. Errors of fact should require long and detailed (and boring and incomprehensible) explanations to correct, if used at all. The preferred technique is to use distortion and misrepresentation, quotation out of context, statements following logically from assumptions nearly impossible to correct to a layman’s satisfaction, claims without attribution, innuendo and other more subtle means.


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Comment #51344

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 6, 2005 06:44 PM (e) (s)

   Evopeach seems to be a beginner in the world of creationism; she

If “she” is really a “she”, that would be very unusual. Other than the wives of various fundies, there are no women prominent in either the creationist or the ID movement. Oddly, there are no prominent non-whites, either.

In my 20-odd years of “debating” creationists, I’ve only run into a handful of female creationists. Oddly enough, nearly all of them were using their HUSBAND’S email address.

Gee, I wonder why that would be … … .

Date: 2005/10/21 17:38:47, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
Quote

Comment #51737

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on October 10, 2005 12:46 PM (e) (s)

Via the Red State Rabble
Professor Steve Steve is misidentified in an Associated Press report photograph
in USA TODAY, by Martha Raffaele. He is identified only as a panda puppet, possibly in reference to the book Of Pandas and People.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)


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Comment #51792

Posted by shenda on October 10, 2005 06:51 PM (e) (s)

On Panda’s and ID at Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-von-hoffm…


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Comment #51901

Posted by WJC on October 11, 2005 11:21 AM (e) (s)

Why was Dembski withdrawn as an expert for the defense?


Quote

Comment #51909

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 11, 2005 12:38 PM (e) (s)

There are some earlier threads here which go into considerable detail. This is just my overall impressionistic response:

Originally, Dembski’s withdrawal was excused on the basis that the Thomas More Law Center folks running the defense would not allow Dembski to have separate counsel (from the overall defense counsel) for his deposition.

It now looks like none of the originally-listed DI defense “experts” will be testifying. The DI spin on this is that they agree that ID is not yet sufficiently “ripe” for presentation at the (pre-college) class level, and that the Dover case was, um, evolving in a direction that threatened to inject a, ahem, particular designer into the mix…

My take: the DI sensed that this case was heading to the dumpster, and they made a strategic decision to bail. Since then, they have been working as hard as they can to distance themselves and their, um, “theory” from the looming disaster, while still perching on the sidelines and trying their darndest to diss any of the testimony currently running in plaintiffs’ favor.


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Comment #51914

Posted by kay on October 11, 2005 01:16 PM (e) (s)

problem is that as business, the DI and all the other more or less creationist outfits can make a good living just preaching (and selling stuff) to the choir.

Therefore, I propose a change of tactic — SEND THE FAST FOOD NINJAS!


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Comment #51921

Posted by Henry J on October 11, 2005 01:49 PM (e) (s)

What’s a fast food Ninja? Is it teenaged? Turtle shaped? What?


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Comment #51923

Posted by RBH on October 11, 2005 02:04 PM (e) (s)

Steviepinhead wrote

   It now looks like none of the originally-listed DI defense “experts” will be testifying. The DI spin on this is that they agree that ID is not yet sufficiently “ripe” for presentation at the (pre-college) class level, and that the Dover case was, um, evolving in a direction that threatened to inject a, ahem, particular designer into the mix…

AFAIK, Behe and Minnich are still scheduled to testify for the defense. Campbell, Dembski and Meyer are out, though.

RBH


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Comment #51927

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 11, 2005 02:18 PM (e) (s)

[boinking sound of Steviepinhead banging his pointy little head against the nearest wall]:

RBH is, of course, correct. Not all of the DI-affiliated experts listed by the defense have been withdrawn.



Quote

So much for impressionism! And I posted that little quickie after I had reviewed the witness list that bill helpfully linked us to in comment #51673 above. Sigh.


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Comment #51944

Posted by Shawn on October 11, 2005 03:31 PM (e) (s)

Check This Out!

Seminar at Lehigh Univ.

Prof. Miller is giving a talk at Prof. Behe’s department, and it’s tomorrow. They say its open to the public, so please, spread the word. I’m in CO, but I would love for someone to give me a heads-up on what happens at the talk. So if you are local and care; go! Then tell me what happened. Like does Prof. Behe show up? What questions are asked? Etc. Thanks!


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Comment #51962

Posted by improvius on October 11, 2005 05:30 PM (e) (s)

   kay wrote:

   problem is that as business, the DI and all the other more or less creationist outfits can make a good living just preaching (and selling stuff) to the choir.

No doubt. If I were a less scrupulous person, I’d throw some junk together and follow in Dr. Hovind’s footsteps:

http://www.drdino.com/

You’ll never go poor telling people what they want to hear.


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Comment #52038

Posted by Tailspin on October 12, 2005 09:04 AM (e) (s)

The London Times on 10/05 published an article entitled Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible.

   The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

   “We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

   The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

   Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

   But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

   The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.”

Date: 2005/10/21 17:49:56, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
It seems that if I copy "too much" text at once into a message, the thread collapses into itself like a black hole. Don't know what's up with that.


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Comment #52073

Posted by Flint on October 12, 2005 01:28 PM (e) (s)

The new YDR article dwells on an aspect of the case which is genuinely important: what the Constitution says depends on who’s reading it. And Thompson’s comments that once Roberts and O’Connor’s replacement are seated, he has a 5-4 victory in favor of teaching one particular religious doctrine as scientific fact, is right on the money.

Scalia, the intellectual leader of the religioso, for the life of him can’t see any religious motivation when it’s his religion being inserted. His comment that the ‘subjective motivations’ of policy makers are invisible somehow doesn’t seem to apply when he does NOT like their motivations. THEN it’s clearly wrong. Clarence Thomas’s head is by now permanently shoved up Scalia’s butt. Roberts has in the past argued strongly for school prayer for his (oops, I mean the One True) religion.

All of this could easily mean our once-world-leading educational system retreats to the 18th century for at least a generation, while delirious people dance in the streets of the red states for decades to come.

South Korea seems to be doing some interesting work, though.


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Comment #52188

Posted by Ben Katz on October 13, 2005 01:56 PM (e) (s)

Is it right to teach Intelligent Desin in school? Easy:

1. We can’t teach it in school because most of its supporters actually believe the bible!

Additionally,
2. There’s another topic we can’t teach because most of its supporters actually believe the koran!

Additionally,
3. There’s another topic we can’t teach because most of its supporters actually are ATHEIST.

Hmm, we got a problem. In the interest of being fair, you either teach NOTHING, or else teach ALL the main theories.


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Comment #52190

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on October 13, 2005 02:02 PM (e) (s)

Hmmm, Mr. Katz…

WHICH “main theories” might you be referring to, I wonder?

You seem to imply that this “Intelligent Design” stuff is a theory; a “main” theory, no less.

Please tell us its main points, what research it’s conducting, how it can be falsified… you know, run of the mill stuff for sacientific theories.

We’re all ears.


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Comment #52192

Posted by kay on October 13, 2005 02:08 PM (e) (s)

http://science.slashdot.org/science/05/10/13/164…

hey kitties, did you see this? “Top Advisory Panel Warns Erosion of U.S. Science”.

can someone with permission post it as an article? :)


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Comment #52196

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 13, 2005 02:42 PM (e) (s)

“In the interest of being fair…”
Science isn’t interested in being fair.


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Comment #52197

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 13, 2005 02:43 PM (e) (s)

   Ben Katz wrote:

   Hmm, we got a problem. In the interest of being fair, you either teach NOTHING, or else teach ALL the main theories.

You seem to be forgetting that pesky little thing called ‘evidence’. Science is unfair; when you get around to running experiments, some ideas don’t hold up and are discarded. Other ideas are not amenable to experimentation and so are not science.


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Comment #52203

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 13, 2005 03:40 PM (e) (s)

   http://science.slashdot.org/science/05/10/13/164……
   hey kitties, did you see this? “Top Advisory Panel Warns Erosion of U.S. Science”.
   can someone with permission post it as an article? :)

Here’s an open version at the Washington Post

   …
   America’s lead in scientific fields was the key to prosperity in the 20th century, the panel said. The country remains in the lead for now — but the gap with other countries is narrowing, panel members said, as rising powers such as India and China copy the U.S. strategy, turning out large numbers of college graduates with scientific backgrounds.

   Without bold action in Washington, the panel said, the nation will find itself losing not just low-wage industries such as garment manufacturing but high-skill jobs, such as computer design and pharmaceutical manufacturing, that have been a cornerstone of recent prosperity….



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Comment #52228

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 13, 2005 06:37 PM (e) (s)

New transcript: continuation of Forrest testimony

HTML copies of the trial transcripts from talkorigins.org.


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Comment #52262

Posted by Joe on October 14, 2005 05:06 AM (e) (s)

In addition to what others have said….

   3. There’s another topic we can’t teach because most of its supporters actually are ATHEIST.”

Actually, you should probably replace the world “atheist” with “scientist”.

And since the majority of scientists are theists, your argument doesn’t really hold water.

The argument that evolution is an atheist construct is just not true. It is taught in school simply because it is the only explanation for the diversity of life on this planet.

See…

Christian Clergy that support evolution(up to 8,712) - http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_scie…

Project Steve(up to 644) - http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3541_p…

If evolution is an atheistic construct, then they are doing a #### good job of tricking the clergy and scientists into beleiving it!

By the by, I haven’t followed that clergy list long, but it’s went up about 1,000 names since I first went to it less then 2 monthes ago.

You are right about one thing, we should be suspicious of these patterns if they present themselves. Say, how many atheist Intellegent Design proponents are there….


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Comment #52266

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 14, 2005 07:05 AM (e) (s)

   3. There’s another topic we can’t teach because most of its supporters actually are ATHEIST.

And here we see what ID is really all about.

It’s religious apologetics. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Date: 2005/10/21 17:52:14, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52282

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 14, 2005 11:40 AM (e) (s)

   Say, how many atheist Intellegent Design proponents are there….

Approximately the same as the number of Raelians.


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Comment #52329

Posted by RBH on October 14, 2005 10:54 PM (e) (s)

Valentine Pontifex noted on Infidels that the Discovery Institute is being very selective about what trial transcripts they’re posting. They seem to have the cross-examination of Robert Pennock and Kenneth Miller available, but none of the transcripts of their direct testimony. Wonder why that is? Why would the Discovery Institute, a self-proclaimed “non-partisan public policy think tank”, publish just one side of the expert testimony for the plaintiffs? Hmmmmmmm. I can’t imagine. You reckon someone should ask Bill Gates, since he reportedly supplies a good-sized chunk of the DI President’s salary?

RBH


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Comment #52341

Posted by Big Talk Theory on October 15, 2005 11:36 AM (e) (s)

I seem to be reading the same old “evolution vs creation” commentary that goes on everywhere.

Why are these two topics always set against each other? The “XOR” proposition leads to endless sophistry. Perhaps an “AND” proposal would be the more sophic razor.

Creation is a biogenesis, seeking to explain the origin of life.
Evolution is science, seeking to explain the phenomena of life.

Like the Big Bang, Evolution does not and cannot explain the cause of the phenomena. Both acknowledge (and prove) the limits of scientific thinking.

The Big Talk theory of the Origin of Life parallels the Big Bang Theory, but seeks to integrate the origin with the phenomena. The biogenesis and the science.

Please see

http://www.geocities.com/bigtalktheory

for details.


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Comment #52343

Posted by jeffw on October 15, 2005 12:25 PM (e) (s)

   big talk theory wrote:

   There are no examples of FSC giving rise to sequences of higher complexity (FSC).

Sounds like dembski’s conservation of information garbage and all that big front loader crap. Life is an example of complexity giving rise to greater complexity. And it’s not too hard to write a computer program that does the same.


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Comment #52344

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 15, 2005 12:44 PM (e) (s)

   Please see

   http://www.geocities.com/bigtalktheory

   for details.

It certainly is all “big talk”. (shrug)


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Comment #52345

Posted by Steve S on October 15, 2005 12:46 PM (e) (s)

Big Tard Theory is more like it.


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Comment #52349

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on October 15, 2005 04:00 PM (e) (s)

   2005/10/12: … The trial took two days off and resumes today…

And nothing worth reporting happened since it resumed?


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Comment #52358

Posted by Andy on October 16, 2005 02:28 AM (e) (s)

Check http://aclupa.blogspot.com/ , they’ve got a good summary of Kevin Padian testifying.


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Comment #52361

Posted by Ed Darrell on October 16, 2005 07:26 AM (e) (s)

   You reckon someone should ask Bill Gates, since he reportedly supplies a good-sized chunk of the DI President’s salary?

Why not first write to the president of Discovery Institute? They have a reputation to establish on other issues. Accurate information is part of their stock in trade. He can probably change it today, with a phone call. Drop him a line.


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Comment #52365

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 16, 2005 09:55 AM (e) (s)

A correction to RBH’s comment 52329.

Yes, the DI is being very selective in what it puts up: Ken Miller cross with no direct testimony. And most witnesses are not none at all. However as for Robert Pennock, they have both the direct testimony and the cross (as well as redirect and recross).

The DI Pennock transcript appears to be the complete Day 3, AM session that is one of the transcripts not yet up on the sites of the good guys.

This transcript, like Day 6 AM, is another which Armstrong was the court reporter for. That means the PDF looks beautiful, but the file is large and one can’t copy and paste usable text from it.

Date: 2005/10/21 17:57:30, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52403

Posted by moakley on October 17, 2005 11:29 AM (e) (s)

Higher FSC, ad infinitum…


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Comment #52472

Posted by John on October 18, 2005 12:48 PM (e) (s)

Slate has a weeklong series of dispatches from the trial.


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Comment #52563

Posted by Jit Gill on October 18, 2005 11:09 PM (e) (s)

Evolution vs Intelligent Design : Explaining The scientific method of Theory.

With the Dover PA lawsuit, and many other states trying to include references of ID into the science class room, I find myself debating this issue a lot. Since 64 percent of Americans believe that ID should be taught alongside Evolution in the science classroom as a valid scientific Theory, I find myself in the minority (this is 2005 right?) believing that ID should not go anywhere near the science classroom, but instead taught in Theology or Social studies.

Aside from the DNA record, Fossil record, “Irreducible Complexity”, young earth/old earth debates, I think the number one point of confusion with the lay person is the Term “Scientific Theory”. Most people just don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word “Theory” in the scientific community. It does not mean a guess. It is back upped by lot’s of evidence and data. So in my debates with friends and family members I have come up with a way to really explain this process in a simple and I hope, understandable way.

I call it my Jack and Jill Concept.

Jack and Jill are married. One day Jack thinks Jill might be cheating on him, he has no proof, he just has this feeling. I would call this a concept or the beginning of a hypothesis. So acting on his feelings, he starts asking around. Jane tells him she has seen Jill at lunch with another man once or twice at a local Italian restaurant. So now Jack’s concept is turning into a good Hypothesis. But having lunch with someone is no proof of an affair.

Jack gives a waiter at the restaurant a 50 dollar bill and shows the picture of Jill. The waiter says “Ya I have seen her here a few times having lunch with Ken. I think he works for CO.Inc, at least that’s what it says on his ID badge”. After some more investigating, he finds out that CO.inc has offices in the same building that Jill works at. So armed with conjecture and speculation he starts to form a Theory, it’s still a hypothesis, because again having lunch is no proof of an affair. But it’s a good model for building a Theory of the Ken and Jill affair.

After looking thru Jill’s purse one day he finds a matchbook from a local motel. Giving the motel clerk a $100 gets him a look at the guest book. In the book he finds that Ken had a room at the motel, and after showing the picture of Jill, the clerk says he has seen her at the motel”. So now he is convinced that Jill is having an Affair. He has all the proof he needs. Based on investigation, logic, assumptions and hard evidence (Jill had the match book in her purse) . But all this is still only a Theory. To almost anyone else, this would not be a theory, we have proof that Jill shared a room with Ken at the motel. We would say she is in “fact” having an affair, and we would most likely be right. Logic and human reasoning tells us this.

But it’s still a Theory, because the definition of an affair in this case is sexual intercourse or some sexual act. Unless Jack burst into the room and caught Jill and Ken in the act, the affair is still just a Theory. They could have been just talking for all we know, unlikely but still a possibility. So it will always remain a Theory unless Jack catches them in the act.

I know this is overly simplified, but it’s the best I could do to explain the Scientific Process, and why the Theory of Evolution is not JUST a Theory, but a Scientific Theory based on facts, data, investigations, assumptions, and observations. It’s not to be dismissed easily with the premise or concept of Intelligent Design. That is based on faith.

Any comments?

Jit Gill

Shadowram

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blo…

Shadowram@cox.net

http://www.myspace.com/shadowram


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Comment #52564

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 11:21 PM (e) (s)

The front page of MSNBC has the misleading title:

Intelligent-design professor fires back


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Comment #52565

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 11:23 PM (e) (s)

yeah.

so in your debates with family and frends, how far has your analogy gotten you?

what kind of rebuttals have you been give?


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Comment #52566

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 11:26 PM (e) (s)

@ Steve,

that msnbc article has an interesting byline:

   Professor accuses scientific organizations of getting political

ROFLMAO!!! is that the pot calling the kettle black, or what! frickin hilarious.


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Comment #52568

Posted by Steve S on October 18, 2005 11:36 PM (e) (s)

Yeah really. Every scientific organization in the world is just being political. Those jerks.


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Comment #52569

Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 11:51 PM (e) (s)

it’s standard practice from the ID political spin department: accuse the other side of exactly what you are doing. it deflects the public eye on your own activities.

what saddens me is how readily the average american buys into this tactic over and over again.

they see behe writing that shit, and then parrot the headline themselves, and call the scientists “politicos” when nothing could be farther from the truth.

the truth is dead, steve. what comes after that?


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Comment #52603

Posted by Mitchell D. Hirsch on October 19, 2005 09:56 AM (e) (s)

I believe Michael Behe is simply wrong when he says the Big Bang theory was not accepted for 30 years. Before World War II the tendency within both the scientific community and the general public was to assume that the Universe did, in some sense, have a beginning. It was the great accomplishment of Bondi, Gold, Hoyle, and others to point out that this was just that - an assumption, with little or no supporting evidence. Their proposed alternative - the “Steady State” theory - proved attractive to, at least, many scientists because it had very few adjustible parameters and was testable by astronomical observations, such as galaxy density as a function of distance.

Both views of the origin of the Universe prevailed and were debated throughout the 50’s and 60’s while numerous observations were carried out. Some, such as galaxy counts were deliberate; others, such as the microwave background, were partially serendipitous. Gradually a consistent, coherent picture emerged - the observations were inconsistent with the steady-state theory and quantitatively supported something resembling an abrupt origin.
The key word here is gradually - as the observational evidence accumulated, the consensus shifted away from the steady state picture toward the abrupt origin picture - the so-called “big bang.” This is how good science is done.

ID is not science. It is faith based, and does not belong in science classes, except perhaps to show that it is not science. Behe’s “observations” and ideas of “irreducible complexity” don’t come anywhere close to the rigorous observations, predictive power, and methods of astrophysics research. At the very least I would ask him this: when, exactly, did the “designer” intervene, and why then and not at other times?


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Comment #52609

Posted by FitzRoy on October 19, 2005 10:55 AM (e) (s)

   “Doesn’t it sound like he knows what he’s talking about?” said the Rev. Ed Rowand, a board member and church pastor.

   and

   Behe “acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design.”

Lots of us can’t wait for a transcript of Behe’s cross-examination. In the meantime, the above excerpts were taken directly from reporting on the New York Times website: http://tinyurl.com/78hs5

Date: 2005/10/21 18:01:58, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52622

Posted by Flash Gordon on October 19, 2005 12:32 PM (e) (s)

   Jit Gill wrote:

   Jack and Jill are married. One day Jack thinks Jill might be cheating on him, he has no proof, he just has this feeling.

This sounds like a Blink moment.

For this to fit the scientific method for arriving at a theory shouldn’t there first be some observations, collection of data, recognition of patterns, symmetries, etc. before Jack “has this feeling” that an affair may be afoot?

Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps some scientific theories do start out as Blink moments. I am certain that the discovery of extra-marital affairs sometimes do.


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Comment #52623

Posted by Steve S on October 19, 2005 12:50 PM (e) (s)



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   Comment #52569

   Posted by sir_toejam on October 18, 2005 11:51 PM (e) (s)

   the truth is dead, steve. what comes after that?

I don’t think the truth is any less alive than it’s ever been. Some religious people will always say science is wrong. Behe does a good job of snowing people. If you want to get really worked up, I can introduce you to people who think that Answers in Genesis is a valuable scientific resource.

Anyway, Sir Lousyname, how do you explain PYGMIES AND DWARVES??!?!?!?!


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Comment #52624

Posted by Jit Gill on October 19, 2005 12:53 PM (e) (s)

“This sounds like a Blink moment.”

You may be right, maybe Jack thought she was acting different, but that was not the point. So I proved I am not a great writer…lol, I was only trying for a simple way for people to understand what a Scientific Theory is. :),

I’m sure there are better ways of explaining it, this is what I thought up, and it does seem to be working in the debates I have. At least when the topic “But Evolution is ONLY a Theory” comes up. It may not change their views, but it does give people an little bit ofunderstanding about the weight of a Scientific Theory.
Jit


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Comment #52625

Posted by Mike Plavcan on October 19, 2005 01:03 PM (e) (s)

It really doesn’t matter whether the Big Bang was accepted or not intially. Let’s say it wasn’t, for argument’s sake. It certainly caused some debate within the scientific community when first proposed. Some declared it impossible, but others gathered evidence corroborating the hypothesis. Support built over time, and eventually it became widely established after vigorous debate. At first, text books would probably ignore the hypothesis (depending on the intensity of serious debate that it generated among scientists). At the point that it became widely debated as a serious issue, it might get a sidebar as an alternative hypothesis worthy of consideration. When generally accepted, it took the place in the texts as accepted theory.

I hope that the prosecution in cross-examination has the sense to point out that Behe’s statement belies the whole ID agenda. At no point was it necessary to legislate for or against teaching the Big Bang. Science has an amazing ability to absorb and embrace the seemingly nonsensical and counter-intuitive — if there is evidence to back it up. Tellingly, legislatures are trying to cram ID down the throats of kids in spite of the unanimous scientific opinion that it is not science, and there is no evidence for it. IF ID really is good science, then like everybody else they can wait their turn for a crack at the kids when they actually come up with something tangible to support the “model.”


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Comment #52630

Posted by Steve Case on October 19, 2005 01:19 PM (e) (s)

Let me see if I understand this line of reasoning; “Rothschild asked Behe about the scientific community, which has largely denounced the idea of ID as science. The National Academy of Sciences, for instance, regards ID and its supernatural ideas as inaccurate and unfounded. Even the Lehigh University Biological Sciences faculty, where Behe is a professor, has stated that ID has “no basis in science.

Behe argued that scientists and scientific organizations misunderstand intelligent design. Not only is ID science, Behe claimed, it is also an appropriate scientific theory to introduce to students.”

So the leading scientific minds in the country misunderstand ID but your average 15 year old in general biology is going to figure it out?


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Comment #52634

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 19, 2005 01:30 PM (e) (s)

   So the leading scientific minds in the country misunderstand ID but your average 15 year old in general biology is going to figure it out?

Hey, why not? I’m sure it’s not more complicated than, say, astrology.


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Comment #52647

Posted by Flint on October 19, 2005 02:00 PM (e) (s)

   Hey, why not? I’m sure it’s not more complicated than, say, astrology.

There’s probably a strong positive correlation between the pedigree of a superstition and the amount of sheer detail in the specification. Astrology has been around for centuries, and by now consists of vast clouds of smoke and whole arcades full of mirrors. In rejecting the countless different interpretations of selected parts of one particular scripture, ID is reduced to little more than “the designer did it.” Both Dembski’s misapplied math and Behe’s bogus biology are beyond the layman anyway.

I hope the judge is enjoying himself. I know I would be.


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Comment #52727

Posted by the pro from dover on October 19, 2005 06:40 PM (e) (s)

Will someone please explain Michael Behe to me. I understand Philip Johnson. Jesus didn’t tell him to give away all his posessions to the poor and follow him, rather Jesus told him to destroy Darwin and if in the process he makes big bucks, well that was designed. But Behe as an educator of our youth at what I know is a major university (I went to Temple so I know Lehigh’s reputation) absolutely befuddles me. What do his students think he’s saying to them? “It’s all a lie, throw away your microscopes, telescopes and test tubes and put on robes and become priests!” ???? How can he in “good faith” teach science to his students when he himself does not believe in the scientific method? Am I missing something? In an article in the Denver Post yesterday it said that Behe had come to the conclusion of Intelligent Design from religious and philosophical considerations and that the designer was God. Is that statement really true? Inquiring minds wish to know. TPFD


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Comment #52745

Posted by Jit Gill on October 19, 2005 07:40 PM (e) (s)

I never thought I would say this, but my hat is off to The Christian Science Monitor for their resent article. Link below.. They said :

“That doubt is common to many Americans, 80 percent of whom believe in God and 42 percent of whom, according to a July Pew poll, believe in the creationist idea that “living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
But the Dover school board’s argument that intelligent design is science, not religion, is found wanting. The statement for students seems to fault evolution for being a “theory.” Yet a theory involves considerable evidence toward an accepted principle. As an explanation for biological life, evolution is gathering ever more evidence. Intelligent design is still a hypothesis, and vulnerable by its lack of evidence”.

I am very impressed with this article, it’s a must read, and I would hope more Christians will read it.
Shadowram
http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1020/p08s02-comv.h…


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Comment #52747

Posted by Steve S on October 19, 2005 07:52 PM (e) (s)

CSM has published some very good feature articles in the past.

btw, I wonder what’s the most accurate estimate of atheist/agnostic Americans. I’ve seen a lot of variation in that number.

Date: 2005/10/21 18:04:58, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52757

Posted by sri_toejam on October 19, 2005 08:34 PM (e) (s)

if you trust gallup poll data, you could check their site.

take all poll data with a grain of salt, tho.


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Comment #52788

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 19, 2005 10:41 PM (e) (s)

Anyone here have a rough idea of when the trial is going to conclude?

It’s just a matter of the judge’s opinion, right? No jury in this case?


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Comment #52806

Posted by Fred on October 20, 2005 01:54 AM (e) (s)

Fred has shown you evolutionists to be the true fundamentalists!

http://www.fredoneverything.net/EvolutionPhilade…


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Comment #52808

Posted by darwinfinch on October 20, 2005 02:32 AM (e) (s)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'


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Comment #52811

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 03:33 AM (e) (s)

Fred:

ask yourself this question:

“Why, oh why, are the curricula racial makeup of the schools the business of the courts?”

ask yourself why we educate our kids to begin with, eh? why do we teach them math and english?

do you know why we teach them science to begin with?

get a clue. if you want to enjoy your freedoms and quality of life, there are certain educational standards that must be met if we want to maintain those things. er, that is of course unless you plan on enslaving the rest of the world instead of outcompeting it.

teaching our kids that religion is science does a disservice to us all. if the courts WEREN’T involved, all school districts might devolve into segregated morasses of incongruous mixtures of various schools of “thought”, most of which have no bearing on actually doing science in a productive and meaningful way. end result: real science would eventually drop by the wayside, we get outcompeted by those who understand what science really is and how it gets done, and our quality of life goes down.

er, that’s why we have state and federal standards for education to begin with. You do understand the educational system, yes? why do you think the feds are so hot to trot on INCREASING the amount of standardized testing done?

In fantasy land, we all get to do whatever we want, and express ourselves however we want, in the real world, there are consequences to that, and a real consequence of teaching bad science is that our quality of life will decrease. just think about it.


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Comment #52836

Posted by bcpmoon on October 20, 2005 09:00 AM (e) (s)

This has left me speechless:

   Rothschild asked if it was true that the intelligent designer might not actually exist any longer. Behe agreed that was true. Rothschild paused.
   “Is that what you want to teach school students, Mr. Behe?” he asked.
   As part of a curriculum making students aware of intelligent design, Behe said, “Yes, I think that’s a terrific thing to point out.”

I wonder what the followers of ID will say to that statement by Behe. Well, since ID is completely non-religious, perhaps they agree.


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Comment #52837

Posted by Koly on October 20, 2005 09:18 AM (e) (s)

Behe completely misrepresents the nature and history of the Big Bang theory. First of all, Big Bang is not an unclear speculation that the universe had a beginning. It is a mathematically rigorous set of cosmological models based on General theory of relativity. As was, at least partly, Steady State.

Very soon after Einstein published GTR it was apparent, that it does not predict a static universe, or better said, only under very obscure conditions. (Just to be clear, static universe is NOT Steady State). No observation supported this at that time. However, in 1929 Hubble published his findings about the receding of distant galaxies and it was immediately interpreted as an expansion of the universe. The model, later called ‘Big Bang’, was widely accepted.

A cosmological model named ‘Steady State’ was proposed in 1948, I think. It went outside of the boundaries of GTR, as it required generation of new matter, for which no mechanism was offered. I don’t think Steady State could be called ‘widely accepted’ at any point in time, but it was a competing theory until the microwave background radiation was discovered in 1964.

I don’t know where does Behe get his 30 years. And of course, Big Bang has nothing to do with any kind of creationism. The singularity is an unanswered problem, but that can be solved only outside of GTR, as singularities are its general property occurring under fairly plausible conditions. In present view, Quantum theory of gravity is required to explain what was going on very close to the singularity, where GTR fails.

And of course, GTR and all cosmological models were developed by scientists, published in scientific journals and predictions were thoroughly compared with observations. Completely unlike ID.


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Comment #52838

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 20, 2005 09:24 AM (e) (s)

   Dave Cerutti wrote:

   Anyone here have a rough idea of when the trial is going to conclude?

   It’s just a matter of the judge’s opinion, right? No jury in this case?

A legal “opinion” is to the common use of the word as a scientific “theory” is to the common use of that word. I can’t find a source right now, but I recall reading that the judge’s decision should be announced ~ December 2005.


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Comment #52839

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 20, 2005 09:33 AM (e) (s)

   Will someone please explain Michael Behe to me.

The problem is, you’re expecting that his position makes sense. It seems clear that he has decided he is right, and if he has to ignore data, redefine words, make demands of his opponents that he cannot meet himself to preserve that notion that he is right, he will do so. Whether he is not sane, or wishes to continue to receive adulation from the true believers and royalties for his book, I don’t know.

   In an article in the Denver Post yesterday it said that Behe had come to the conclusion of Intelligent Design from religious and philosophical considerations and that the designer was God. Is that statement really true? Inquiring minds wish to know. TPFD

Behe’s official public position, reiterated in his testimony at Dover, is that his belief in Intelligent Design Creationism is science, and his belief that the designer is the Christian God is based on nonscientific considerations. He has published statements to the effect that it is much easier to accept Intelligent Design Creationism if you believe in God. Rothschild brought this statement up during cross-examination and that’s probably what the Post was referring to.


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Comment #52864

Posted by improvius on October 20, 2005 12:17 PM (e) (s)

Will someone please explain Michael Behe to me.

I’m leaning towards “con artist” right now. I think he’s making good money with sales of his book and whatever speaking fees he gets. Plus, I’m sure, there are private contributors to his “research”. And I’ll bet he’s getting a little cut from Panda sales as well.

No reasonably educated person could possibly believe all of the stuff he’s saying. Frankly, he seems too smart to fall for his own BS. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here and assuming that he’s in it for the money.

Date: 2005/10/21 18:09:37, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52890

Posted by Gary Hurd on October 20, 2005 02:56 PM (e) (s)

OH BOY! New transcripts are up on the ACLU site.


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Comment #52893

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 03:13 PM (e) (s)

   Will someone please explain Michael Behe to me.

Religion. Next.


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Comment #52900

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 03:45 PM (e) (s)

hmm. i don’t buy it. what’s more likely, that somebody with an educational background like Behe’s completely implodes as a slave to his “religious beliefs”, or that he is just playing the audience in order to increase sales of his psuedo-religio-science books and increase his popularity with the ignorati.

no… i say follow the money; it’s always likely to lead you to the truth.

take Dembski as another case in point. he has MANY times contradicted himself private/public and dropped BIG hints that he doesn’t actually cling to half the crap he spouts; his history SCREAMS that he just does this for the money, and the only future he can see for himself.

most of us would like to think we wouldn’t sell out our principles for cash, but if we made a few mistakes, and our careers went in the toilet… who could honestly say they would live on the streets before selling out their principles for a comfortable living?

The ignorati seems to have plenty of money to bribe those who would side with them.

what else is new?


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Comment #52901

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 03:49 PM (e) (s)

lol. i just realized that the 3 words i put in caps kinda reflect my feelings about the while ID movement…


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Comment #52903

Posted by RBH on October 20, 2005 03:57 PM (e) (s)

Some of Behe’s cross-examination. (176 page PDF.

RBH


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Comment #52904

Posted by JohnK on October 20, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s)

Story & short amazing interview w/ defendants’ and Thomas More Law Center lawyer Richard Thompson:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/10/20/dov… (must watch brief ad)


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Comment #52906

Posted by Flint on October 20, 2005 04:10 PM (e) (s)

RBH:

No need to post this, I’m sure we can all find it at the DI site. Or maybe on Dembski’s blog? Or at ARN?


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Comment #52911

Posted by Lar W on October 20, 2005 04:25 PM (e) (s)

The latest Behe statement is truly bizarre. While he feels ID should be taught along side evolution, and eventhough he has said clearly that he belives this designer to be God, he thinks that it would be a “terrific thing to point out” that it’s possible for this designer to no longer exist. No doubt his handlers at the DI are nervously scratching their seats over this one.


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Comment #52914

Posted by K.E. on October 20, 2005 04:32 PM (e) (s)

I wish I could agree RBH but I can intuitivey discern that whatever is put there is Intelligently Designed so I don’t need to go there ;)
I wouldn’t have read that otherwise

And it is just incredible…. “relativist stance on science” isn’t that non ID code for PRIDE.
But hey he’s a lawyer so ly’n cheat’n is OK but PRIDE tch tch.


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Comment #52920

Posted by Flint on October 20, 2005 04:46 PM (e) (s)

LENNY! Get your butt over here! Behe, clearly and specifically, answers a question you have placed directly to every creationist to show up around here. Just for Lenny, then, here is Behe FINALLY answering the most pressing question of all:
(R: is Rothschild, B: is Behe)
————————————————————————————————————————-

   R: Now, can we go back to page 11 of the report and highlight again the underscored text. So this is back to the claim that you say intelligent design makes, “Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose.” Please describe the mechanism that intelligent design proposes for how complex biological structures arose.

   B: Well, the word “mechanism” can be used in many ways. In this I was — and when I was referring to intelligent design, I meant that we can perceive that in the process by which a complex biological structure arose, we can infer that intelligence was involved in its origin. Much like if I might refer back to the Big Bang theory, the Big Bang theory proposes no mechanism for how the universe arose, but nonetheless it infers that, whatever the mechanism, it came by some sort of explosive process. So there are many other questions that these theories leave unaddressed, but they do posit some aspect of the cause which is very useful to have and which is supported by the data.

   R: So intelligent design is about cause?

   B: I m sorry, could you say that again?

   R: I just want to get it clear here, intelligent design is about cause?

   B: Well, cause is a broad word, and when you’re trying to explain how something came about, you can say it came about for a variety of reasons. But intelligent design is one reason or one aspect or one cause to explain how the purposeful arrangement of parts that we see did come about.

   R: Back to my original question. What is the mechanism that intelligent design proposes?

   B: And I wonder, could — am I permitted to know what I replied to your question the first time?

   R: I don’t think I got a reply, so I m asking you, you’ve made this claim here, “Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose.” And I want to know what is the mechanism that intelligent design proposes for how complex biological structures arose?

   B: Again, it does not propose a mechanism in the sense of a step-by-step description of how those structures arose. But it can infer that in the mechanism, in the process by which these structures arose, an intelligent cause was involved.

   R: But it does not propose an actual mechanism?

   B: Again, the word “mechanism” — the word “mechanism” can be used broadly, but no, I would not say that there was a mechanism. I would say we have an aspect of the history of the structure.

   R: So when you wrote in your report that “Intelligent design theory focuses exclusively on the proposed mechanism,” you actually meant to say intelligent design says nothing about the mechanism of how complex biological structures arose.

   B: No, I certainly didn’t mean to say that. I meant to say what I said in response to that last question, that while we don’t know a step-by-step description of how something arose, nonetheless we can infer some very important facts about what was involved in the process, namely, that intelligence was involved in the process. And let me go back one more time to the Big Bang theory. Again, we don’t have a mechanism for the Big Bang, but we can infer some important events about what happened, and that was that it happened in some explosive manner, it happened a distinct time ago and so on. So additionally, I might say, that it also focuses on other proposed mechanisms that purport to explain the purposeful arrangement of parts. And so I think it is quite accurate to say that that s exactly where intelligent design focuses.

   R: So it actually — it focuses on other proposed mechanisms, by that you mean natural selection, don’t you?

   B: No, just a natural selection, complexity theory and so on. But certainly the most widely accepted, and then the one that you would have to convince most people — or explain to most people is not well supported is the one which is the currently accepted explanation of natural selection.

   R: Okay. And so in terms of mechanism, it’s just a criticism of Darwinian evolution’s mechanism and not a positive description of the mechanism?

   B: No, I disagree. I say that while, again, while it does not give you a step-by-step description of how such things occurred, it does tell you something very important about the cause or the way in which these structures arose, and that was through the actions of an intelligent cause.

   R: So, Professor Behe, why don t we go to your deposition and see how you answered the questions then, okay?

   B: Okay.

   R: Could you look at page 179 of your deposition.

   B: Yes.

   R: I asked you, “What is the proposed mechanism of how complex biological structures arose according to intelligent design theory?”

   B: Yes.

   R: And you answered, “Intelligent design does not propose a mechanism, it simply tries to support the conclusion that intelligent activity was involved in producing the structures.”

   B: Yes. And that language, I think, is completely consistent with what I was trying to say here today, that it does not tell you step by step how something was proposed — or how something was produced, but nonetheless it says something very very important about the origin of the structure, and that is that intelligent activity was involved in producing it.

   R: And then further down the page at line 24 I asked you, “In terms of the mechanism, it’s just a criticism of Darwinian evolution’s mechanism and not a positive description of a mechanism.” And what did you answer, Professor Behe?

   B: I said “that s correct.” But again, I think this is completely consistent with what I just said. Again, it does not propose a step-by-step description, but it —but it proposes or it accounts for some very important features of what was involved in its origin, and that is intelligent activity.

And there we have it! Intelligent design focuses exclusively on a mechanism that it doesn’t propose! It’s just a criticism of Darwinian evolution, except it’s not that at all! I just wish I could see the judge’s face during all this.

Date: 2005/10/21 18:15:21, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52924

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 05:00 PM (e) (s)

lol. Behe essentially defines “wishfull thinking”

eos


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Comment #52927

Posted by bystander on October 20, 2005 05:29 PM (e) (s)

I know I am going to be flamed but I think we have to be careful in this debate. It is true that Behe and Dembinski are creationists and try to make out that ID is God-Free.

Scientists talk about their beliefs and non-beliefs and this is okay as long as they talk about it as a personal belief and separate from their science. So their argument is that if IDiots do the same thing what is the big fig? I note that Dembinski in his website talks about following ID where ever it leads.

This could convince the Judge that ID in its current form is not bringing religion into the classroom, although it is a obvious offshoot of religion.

Remember the Judge is a lawyer not a scientist and though, Miller etc have pretty well demolished the ID’s current “scientific” findings. He might still decide that ID is a valid scientific endeavor.

Fight the “pseudo”-science but I think it is dangerous to portray these guys as con-artists and morons. They seem to be intelligent people and I believe sincere about their basic belief in ID if not quite honest in the details presented so far.

bystander

PS. labeling Astrology as a science with ID is an insult to the science of Astrology. It produces falsifiable predictions, in fact, every day my newspaper produces falsifiable predictions for this science (and every following day they get falsified).


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Comment #52933

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 05:45 PM (e) (s)

   I note that Dembinski in his website talks about following ID where ever it leads

obviously, since that’s his mealticket.

IMO, he no more believes most of that crap than I do.

   He might still decide that ID is a valid scientific endeavor.

I’ll lay odds against that, and even give you the advantage.

money in the bank.


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Comment #52934

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 05:55 PM (e) (s)

   Intelligent design does not propose a mechanism, it simply tries to support the conclusion that intelligent activity was involved in producing the structures.

FINALLY, here I get an answer to my simple question “what is the scientific theory of ID … .

The answer: “There isn’t one”.

Wow. What a shocker.

I did notice, though, that Behe denied Jesus three times, before the cock crowed twice.

I wodner what all his fundie friends think about that.


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Comment #52938

Posted by James Taylor on October 20, 2005 06:04 PM (e) (s)

   bystander wrote:

   Scientists talk about their beliefs and non-beliefs and this is okay as long as they talk about it as a personal belief and separate from their science. So their argument is that if IDiots do the same thing what is the big fig? I note that Dembinski in his website talks about following ID where ever it leads.

   _…

   Fight the “pseudo”-science but I think it is dangerous to portray these guys as con-artists and morons. They seem to be intelligent people and I believe sincere about their basic belief in ID if not quite honest in the details presented so far.

These guys are idealists and do not believe in your Constitutional Rights. They want to make a societal change that begins by undermining reason. They don’t actually participate in science like their hard-working, dedicated counterparts do. They imagine then write books about mousetraps and probabilities. They have no scientific credibility and have only political motives. They are charlatans at best and dangerous at worse. Idealists tend to get a whole lot of people repressed and butchered.


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Comment #52939

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 06:07 PM (e) (s)

look, Lenny, the ignorati that support the ID movement I’m sure will rationalize anything Behe says as just being twists that are the natural outcome of the supression of freedom the current “liberal” courts impose on us all.

How close to that exact wording do you think the public statements will be by the DI after the trial?

it’s obvious that they will be continuing to focus on influencing the courts and the law itself; change the rules of the game to fit their perspective.

the worse they lose here, the better as far as their strategy is concerned. all they need to is continue to paint themselves as victims.

eos

there is little point in detailing the lack of content behind ID at this point, the ignorati don’t care and the rest already know. I think there is only value at this point in detailing the current strategy of the movement and in continually asking whether most in the US would really abandon our constitution in favor of a legal theocracy or not.

public opinion is mostly against modifying the constitution to negate gay rights, and against congress interfering in private life (the immense negative reaction to congess’ involvement in the Terry Schiavo case surprised me in that way) so there is fertile ground for us to appeal to folks worried that the ignorati want to change the constitution through the courts.

that’s where the battle lies now, the rest is all distraction, don’t you think?


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Comment #52941

Posted by bystander on October 20, 2005 06:10 PM (e) (s)

Actually Post #52920 was posted while I was writing the above. If Behe keeps shooting himself in the foot like that my scenario wont happen.

Dembinski’s quote means that if ID goes counter to his religion that he will still follow it. Probably thinks this is a safe bet as to him the Bible is literal truth. But yeah you are right he has nowhere else to go.

I still think that the guys are at some level sincere. Could come from my experience in working in large companies for over 20 years and seeing people hold opinions in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The mind can perform wonderful mental tricks to give itself that it is correct. Or could just be that I am an atheist which makes me naive as we don’t have reasons to lie.

Wont take the bet, just wanted to put the point that it is a judge not a scientist making the decision.


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Comment #52943

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 06:13 PM (e) (s)

I agree with that and recall that a pope in I think it was the fifties suggested that there is no right to freedom of religion.


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Comment #52953

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 06:41 PM (e) (s)

w/r/t the salon article, which says,

   He is arguing that no theory should be judged by its historical roots, even if they are religious, or even if they are creationist. Modern chemistry emerged from alchemy, after all, and that doesn’t make it bogus. Astronomy emerged from astrology, and we don’t hold that against it. Nor should a theory be judged by the personal ideologies of those who hold it; plenty of Darwinists are atheists, but that doesn’t disqualify evolutionary biology as an ideology, he says.

I am not a lawyer, but here goes: I think this is right, and moreover that there’s no clear demarcation between science and pseudoscience. I would agree that IC, or CSI, on their own, are scientific hypotheses. They’re wrong, useless, and only believed by idiots and zealots, but I don’t think those things are necessarily religious. However, it would have the practical effect of promoting religion, and harming the public understanding of science, so I support the legal attack on it.


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Comment #52954

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 06:45 PM (e) (s)

“There are two Americas today, one that’s still very religiously based, and another that has no foundation, where everything is relative, where everything goes.”

That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard*.
____
* excluding anything ever said by Kent Hovind, who is the Michael Jordan of Stupid.


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Comment #52963

Posted by Koly on October 20, 2005 07:36 PM (e) (s)

I am sick of Behe repeating his stupid Bing Bang analogy in his testimony over and over and over and over again, like

   Behe wrote:

   And let me go back one more time to the Big Bang theory. Again, we don’t have a mechanism for the Big Bang, but we can infer some important events about what happened, and that was that it happened in some explosive manner, it happened a distinct time ago and so on

The universe is a solution of Einstein’s equations in GTR. As GTR does not have any initial parameters, NO mechanism is needed for Big Bang! It’s perfectly self-consistent as it is. Yes, there is the question whether the singularity is real or what, but that could be answered only when Quantum theory of gravity is completed. However, that has nothing to do with a “mechanism” or a “cause”. Not to say there are many String theory inspired models where Big Bang is only a local phenomenon.

And comparing Big Bang to an explosion is almost as stupid as, well, comparing biological systems to the Sphinx…

Date: 2005/10/21 18:20:08, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52967

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 08:20 PM (e) (s)

   it’s obvious that they will be continuing to focus on influencing the courts and the law itself; change the rules of the game to fit their perspective.

This assumes that either the Supreme COurt or the Republican PArty actually want to help the IDers.

Neither has given any such indication. And given past history, I think the IDers haven’t got a prayer.


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Comment #52968

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 08:24 PM (e) (s)

   there is little point in detailing the lack of content behind ID at this point, the ignorati don’t care and the rest already know. I think there is only value at this point in detailing the current strategy of the movement and in continually asking whether most in the US would really abandon our constitution in favor of a legal theocracy or not.

   public opinion is mostly against modifying the constitution to negate gay rights, and against congress interfering in private life (the immense negative reaction to congess’ involvement in the Terry Schiavo case surprised me in that way) so there is fertile ground for us to appeal to folks worried that the ignorati want to change the constitution through the courts.

   that’s where the battle lies now, the rest is all distraction, don’t you think?

Dude, you’re preaching to the choir. ;> I’ve been saying for TWENTY YEARS now that creationism/ID is just a “wedge” for theocracy.

And, as you point out, people in the US don’t want theocracy. More importantly, neither does the Republicrat Party, the Democan Party, or, even MORE importantly, the corporados who really run things.

That is why the fundies, despite thirty years of ranting and raving, haven’t accomplished diddley doo (other than some cosmetic thingies that get the fundraisers all excited).

I think the fundie movement is long past the peak of its political power.


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Comment #52972

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 08:32 PM (e) (s)

Then why is GW trying to ram Meiers into the supreme court?


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Comment #52975

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 20, 2005 08:44 PM (e) (s)

   And given past history, I think the IDers haven’t got a prayer.

That’s why I gave them one.


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Comment #52976

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 08:46 PM (e) (s)

I’m not sure Miers is a fundie.


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Comment #52977

Posted by bystander on October 20, 2005 08:51 PM (e) (s)

I think that this case may prove the point. It has been an open secret that the Christian Right has helped GW and the Republicans into government. But the uproar even from the Republicans when GW actual came out and said trust her she’s a “Christian” shows that maybe the fundies don’t run the show after all.


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Comment #52979

Posted by Steve S on October 20, 2005 08:56 PM (e) (s)

   I think the IDers haven’t got a prayer.

Yeah, well, joke’ll be on you when the ID Experimentalists zoom in on a flagellum and read

   © 4004 B.C.
   GodCo Inc ™
   All Rights Reserved



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Comment #52980

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 20, 2005 09:01 PM (e) (s)

   Then why is GW trying to ram Meiers into the supreme court?

So he can do what conservatives have ALWAYS wanted to do —- make the rich richer, and give the US worldwide military and economic hegemony.

GW wants to undo everything from the New Deal forward. He doesn’t need a theocracy to do that. And that IS something the corporados will support. Enthusiatically.


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Comment #52982

Posted by Registered User on October 20, 2005 09:10 PM (e) (s)

Fight the “pseudo”-science but I think it is dangerous to portray these guys as con-artists and morons.

It’s con-artists and/or morons. Big difference.

They seem to be intelligent people

By what criteria? The ability to form complete sentences? Because they were eyeglasses?

and I believe sincere about their basic belief in ID if not quite honest in the details presented so far.

People who inevitably contradict themselves and play word games and kick up dust each time they are seriously questioned about the logic of their claims are not “sincere” in my humble opinion.

Far from it.


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Comment #52989

Posted by Registered User on October 20, 2005 09:13 PM (e) (s)

Or could just be that I am an atheist which makes me naive as we don’t have reasons to lie.

That’s a new one.

Date: 2005/10/21 18:23:10, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry
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Comment #52994

Posted by Wayne Francis on October 20, 2005 10:04 PM (e) (s)

Is anyone in the process of scanning Day 8am and Day 9pm session transcripts? They are using embedded fonts agian and it cann’t be copied or exported into an ascii format. If anyone is scanning them like the day 6 am transcript it would be greatly appreciated if it is made available.


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Comment #52995

Posted by Jit Gill on October 20, 2005 10:18 PM (e) (s)

No we should be very afraid of IDers..they have the money, marketing, and the media, and foremost the politicians. Science has nothing to do with this debate. We already know about the science, Behe knows about the Science, if you read the court transcripts you will see he did nothing but back pedal.

No mark my words my friend, this war will not be won in the courts, sure we might win a battle or 2, but in the end it’s who controls the public opinion. Right now with 64% of Americans believing that ID should be taught in the science classroom, true science could lose. The war has to be fought thru education of the common person. Common people have to believe that they do not have to give up their own personal religion, to accept the Scientific Truth.


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Comment #52996

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 10:30 PM (e) (s)

so explain then how we so royally failed to educate the common person that we ended up with 64% of americans supporting the teaching of ID?

btw, could you quote your source for that stat, for the record?


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Comment #52998

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on October 20, 2005 10:38 PM (e) (s)

   If anyone is scanning them like the day 6 am transcript it would be greatly appreciated if it is made available.

If there are more like that, I’m going to have to see about scripting more of the process. The first one was painful enough. Maybe I should just call Wes, the court reporter, and see if I can turn him on to better tools for PDF production. :-)


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Comment #52999

Posted by Jit Gill on October 20, 2005 10:49 PM (e) (s)

Well I will give you a few articles about the poll results. There are many and most Americans believe that ID should be thought in Science class. How did we fail the common American. Not sure, maybe because we thought we lived in the year 2005 and I for one thought that Evolution was a given, and the best support for the Origin of Species we have right now in the Scientific Community. Who knew that faith could overcome Science, and in turn be the laughing stock of the rest of the world. Read on. Do you not think it odd that the lower you educational level or income is the more likely you are to believe in ID?

http://www.livescience.com/othernews/ap_050901_e…

http://www.etaiwannews.com/showPage.php?setupFil…

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2005-10-10-…

If you need more Poll data ..look it up

Shadowram


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Comment #53004

Posted by sir_toejam on October 20, 2005 11:19 PM (e) (s)

right… so tell me again how education is gonna fix this? really, i’ve been through all angles on this; even attempted to start my own nonprofit to increase the resources available for teachers to teach evolution…

the issue isn’t that simple. you can’t convince a “true believer” that science is just a functional method that works. they will always think god trumps science, regardless of anything their senses tell them otherwise.

you must be lucky enough to have relatives that mostly agree that evolutionary theory has value and is essentially correct.

I come from a family where i can argue and show evidence until blue in the face, and it counts for zip in the end.

We DID spend decades attempting to teach our kids evolutionary theory in biology class… with the end result that 64% end up rejecting it in favor of their parent’s beliefs.

You do point out one major factor in a lot of this; the level of education in this country is directly related to income levels.

now all we need to do is eliminate poverty…

got any ideas?


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Comment #53005

Posted by Jit Gill on October 20, 2005 11:32 PM (e) (s)

Nope sorry..I can only tell you “what” needs to be fixed…in this case Education; I have no idea “How” to fix it. I am only a lowly computer technician with a 4 year old daughter who one day will be in the 9th grade and I worry whether she will be taught the truth. Well the Scientific truth at the time anyways. See I also believe that science is not static, it will change and maybe one day we might disprove Evolution..maybe..who knows..but for it to be disproved I want it to be within the scientific community and not public opinion, or based on faith.

Shadowram


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Comment #53006

Posted by sir_toejam on October 21, 2005 12:05 AM (e) (s)

well, your best bet is simply to make those around you aware of how science actually works, and how theories are tested and discarded.

simple but effective. if you want to do more than that, contribute time to organizations like NCSE who have devoted themselves to furthering quality education.

keep reading.

volunteer to help at your local school.

oh, and don’t go voting for folks like GW (i’m sure you didn’t).

;)

i really can’t think of anything else that’s been effective in the long term, and you still will run into a great many who simply will NOT listen to you.


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Comment #53012

Posted by Kim on October 21, 2005 02:29 AM (e) (s)

When I came to the US a year ago to work at a university, I was shocked by the ignorance in this country, and that ID is even an discussion. Where I come from, it is not at all. And I think the worst case scenario is that in the future, the US is not counting anymore on Science but that countries in Europe and Asia are the places to be for real science. On the other hand, I am not really afraid of that. Science will go on and even when ID teaching would become mandatory in schools after an constitution amendment, ID will only be adopted of a few rotten apples. As Micheal Ruse (Florida State University) already indicated (love that guy), not knowing things now does not mean we are not going to solve the problem later.

The whole ID case is akin in saying that a murder case is to complex to solve, so the hand of an intelligent murderer (i.e. supernatural murderer) must be in play. But for the solution, it is not necessary to name the IM, because the case itself shows that there is irreducible complexity and is therefore by definition unsolvable. Nice, case closed!


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Comment #53014

Posted by Pastor Bentonit on October 21, 2005 06:03 AM (e) (s)

   (Cross-ex transcript Prof. Behe) wrote:

   A: Well, that´s what I was thinking. I was thinking of astrology when it was first proposed. I´m not thinking of tarot cards and little mind readers and so on that you might see along the highway. I was thinking of it in its historical sense.
   Q: I couldn´t be a mind reader either.
   A: I´m sorry?
   Q: I couldn´t be a mind reader either, correct?
   A: Yes, yes, but I m sure it would be useful.
   Q: It would make this exchange go much more quickly.
   THE COURT: You´d have to include me, though.

Hilarious! I didn´t know that court transcripts could be this funny. I´m looking forward to the next clown (of IDC fame) appearing.

Date: 2005/10/21 18:28:17, Link
Author: Wesley R. Elsberry