Matt Brauer posted Entry 958 on April 13, 2005 09:15 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/956

What if you held a debate and nobody but your supporters came?

It’s quite likely that you’d be able to boast about the poor reception your opponent got from the audience.

This seems to have been what happened at a debate held last week on the Princeton campus between Lee Silver, a Princeton molecular biologist, and Bill Dembski, a seminary professor. The debate, titled “Intelligent Design: Is It Science?” was sponsored by the “Intercollegiate Studies Institute” (a conservative think tank in Wilmington, Delaware). Notably absent was any publicity that might have resulted in the attendance of scientists, or even of unscreened Princeton students.

Was the debate publicized by the posting of flyers on the campus? No it wasn’t.

Was it listed on the Princeton University calendar of events? Nope.

Were science departments notified about this interesting debate on the scientific status of ID? The molecular biology and the ecology and evolution departments were not told, nor was the genomics institute.

Here’s where news of the debate appeared (via Google):

  • Discovery Institute

  • Design Inference

  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute

  • Townhall Conservative Calendar of Events

This perhaps explains the tenor of some of the questions asked of Dr. Silver (“why do you hate God?”)

Lee Silver writes at talkorigins:

The debate was held on the Princeton University campus but the ID people made sure — as much as possible — that no normal Princeton students could have possibly found out about it.  Until the afternoon of the debate, it was NOT listed in the university calendar of events, in fact it was not listed anywhere on the Princeton website, and there was no advertising anywhere on campus. Late in the afternoon on April 7, a few hours before the debate, I asked the university to put it up, which they did.

Dr. Silver has posted his presentation at his website and promises to post the entire debate shortly.

As he notes:

…the whole point of the debate was just to show that an Ivy League professor was willing to sit on the same podium as an ID/creationist advocate.  I had fun, but I doubt that a single mind was changed.

It’s easy to “win” debates when you stack the audience heavily in your favor. Dembski’s victory dance at idthefuture was only made possibly by selective publicity of the event.

The failure to invite any scientists to see the debate speaks volumes about the status of ID as science. Inside the ID bubble, scientists are not welcome.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #24616

Posted by William Dembski on April 13, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

I had nothing to do with the publicity for this event. If you’ve got a problem with it, contact Chad Kifer at ISI: CKifer@isi.org. He’s responsible.

Comment #24621

Posted by NelC on April 13, 2005 11:14 AM (e)

If audiences at generally-publicised events are critical of your ideas, Bill, and the only way to attract an audience weighted the other way is for someone to deliberately ensure that the event is invisible to a general audience, then maybe that should tell you something about the quality of your ideas.

Comment #24622

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

William Dembski:

At the very least, then, you should resent Kifer’s efforts to make you appear cowardly and foolish.

Comment #24623

Posted by Hiero5ant on April 13, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

“I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.”

Excellent!

When can we expect the scientific theory of intelligent design to “take on any of [us]” in the venue of peer-reviewed scientific journals?

Comment #24624

Posted by Joel on April 13, 2005 11:18 AM (e)

How ironic, this post complaining about not getting invited, preceded by a post complaining about getting invited.

Comment #24627

Posted by Scott in PA on April 13, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

What is the evidence that the ID crowd “deliberately” ensured that the event was “invisible” to a general audience?

Comment #24629

Posted by John A. Davison on April 13, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

What is the virtue in debating that which is self-evident and without which nothing about the mechanism of evolution will ever be disclosed. The sober realization is that Intelligent Design is the only conceivable starting point from which all progress has been and continues to be made.

“Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control.”
Albert Einstein, Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

I am so pleased to have my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis anticipated wnen I was but an infant fifteen months old.

How do you like them apples?

John A. Davison

Comment #24631

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on April 13, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

Matt is not questionning Dr. Dembski’s eagerness to debate. Dr. Dembski has made it abundantly clear by issuing numerous “challenges”, similar in tone to the one above.

What Matt is pointing out is that Dr. Dembski’s boastful blog report that most of the audience’s questions at the end were ID-friendly is based not on his uncanny ability to “convert” Ivy-Leaguers to ID, but on the fact that the audience was entirely ID-friendly to start with, based on savvy advertising of the debate (of which, in all fairness, Dembski himself may have been unaware). Since Dembski pronosticated “good things to come” for ID based on the audience’s reaction, perhaps he should revise his polling strategy to avoid sample bias.

Comment #24632

Posted by Ken Shackleton on April 13, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

William Dembski wrote:

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

So, Mr. Dembski….what is the Theory of Intelligent Design, what observations support it, and what predictions and subsequent tests have been postulated and performed that either support or falsify ID?

What is the nature of the designer? If you propose design, then there must be some evidence of the intent and/or nature of the designer.

Thanks

Comment #24633

Posted by Katarina on April 13, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

Dr. Dembski,

I have a question for you. Why do you not allow comments on your site? Also, why don’t you come around here more often and make rebuttal points in the comments section? I am sure everyone here would welcome it. I am sure that if you allowed comments on your blog, everyone here would love to offer their comments there.

A debate is just as public over the internet, and a direct exchange would be really exciting for us all.

Comment #24636

Posted by Hiero5ant on April 13, 2005 11:39 AM (e)

Katarina makes an excellent point.

Why won’t the DI fellows “take on” anyone in the “venue” of the comment section of their own blog?

Is this really reflective of creationists’ approach toward open debate? What Would (the) Isaac Newton (ofinformationtheory) Do?

Comment #24637

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 11:44 AM (e)

If anyone does contact Kifer, please ask for his permission to share his response with us.

Comment #24638

Posted by Ken Shackleton on April 13, 2005 11:55 AM (e)

A question on Information Theory:

How does “information” exist in the natural universe?

It would seem to me that information is nothing more than the human perception of the environment. Information [as possessed by humans] changes all the time without any change to the actual universe at all. The only thing that has changed been our perception of the universe, the universe has not changed.

Without a mind to perceive, I would propose that there is no such thing as information at all.

Comments?

Comment #24639

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 13, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

William Dembski wrote:

[…] Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 […]

William Dembski wrote:

[…] All of this is highly speculative, and accounts for cell biologist Franklin Harold’s (2001, 205) frank admission: “There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”

When I challenged Ken Miller with this quote at the World Skeptics Conference organized by CSICOP summer 2002 (for a summary of the conference see http://www.csicop.org/si/2002-09/conference.html), Miller did not challenge the substance of Harold’s claim. Rather, he merely asserted that Harold had been retired a number of years. The implication I took was that Harold was old and out of touch with current biological thinking and therefore could be ignored (in which case one has to wonder what the editors at Oxford University Press were thinking when they agreed to publish Harold’s book). I wish that at the skeptics conference I had followed up more forcefully on Miller’s glib dismissal of Harold. Perhaps Miller will see my response here and clarify why Harold’s retirement has anything to do with the substance of Harold’s claim.

(Still Spinning Just Fine)

In this latter instance, the “spinning” is more appropriate to Dembski’s description of the 2002 panel discussion than anything about flagella. And, in anticipation of the antievolutionist’s favorite question, yes, I was there. Miller did not dismiss the assertion that a detailed evolutionary pathway for the bacterial flagellum was lacking, and in fact stated forthrightly concerning that claim, “Point taken. You’re right, you’re absolutely right.” It’s not something that I, at least, would soon forget. Apparently, a critic is not even allowed to agree with Dembski without being given cause to regret it later.

Comment #24640

Posted by Steve Brady on April 13, 2005 12:02 PM (e)

There’s a debate at Harvard on Friday over the legal issues of teach ID in schools, for anyone in the area interested in that sort of thing.

Link.

Comment #24641

Posted by Longhorm on April 13, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

Dr. Dembski, thanks for posting at Pandasthumb. I have two questions for you: Which event(s) did the designer cause? And why do you you believe that the designer caused said event(s)? I have seen few, if any, peeople who refer to themselves as “proponent of intelligent design” clearly indicate which event(s) they think the designer caused. The kind of claim I have in mind is one that we can have a good idea of whether to accept it or not. For instance, did the designer turn dust directly into two elephants (one male and one female)?

Also, self-replicating molecules evolved (through reproduction) into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. For instance, all mammals are descendents of the very same cell that was on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. Do you agree with that? If not, why not? Some of the data that has enabled me to determine that can be found in Ernst Mayr’s book What Evolution Is.

Comment #24642

Posted by Matt Brauer on April 13, 2005 12:25 PM (e)

I’ll agree that Bill was certainly not to blame for the selective publicity that nevertheless rebounded entirely to his advantage. I’ll admit that he may even have been completely unaware of it.

But I hope he’ll concede that the results of this debate show how vacuous it is to judge an idea’s value by its score on the applause meter.

This episode also demonstrates why serious scientists are mostly loathe to debate ID advocates. Now that Lee Silver has been burned by the ID public relations machine, I imagine he too will be joining the ranks of the reluctant.

Comment #24646

Posted by JRQ on April 13, 2005 12:40 PM (e)

“Notably absent was any publicity that might have resulted in the attendance of scientists, or even of unscreened Princeton students.”

Wow, that’s an understatement…i’m a post-doc a Princeton and this is the first I’ve heard of it. granted, I don’t follow the schedule of events as closely as students do, but surely I should have caught wind of an appearence by the “Isaac Newton of information theory”?

What a shame…I would have loved to attend.

Comment #24650

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 12:51 PM (e)

Bill Dembski lays it down:

I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

How about right here, right now?

(1) tell me when the mysterious alien beings created all of the allegedly “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth and approximately how long that process took, in total;

(2) explain how the mysterious alien beings accomplished this task without leaving any traces of their existence other than their alleged “designs”;

(3) explain why the mysterious alien beings felt compelled to populate the earth with “irreducibly complex” life forms;

(4) explain how the mysterious alien beings came to exist, assuming they are also “irreducibly complex” (if that is not a reasonable assumption, let me know why).

For each of the above, some testable hypotheses would be awesome.

Thanks Bill.

Comment #24654

Posted by Rick Molnar on April 13, 2005 1:24 PM (e)

Mr. Dembski why not just admit that the designer is god? You know it, everyone else knows it, god supposedly knows it. Why be so vague? Isn’t there some quote that says something about the truth setting you free? Is it ok with your god to deny the truth? Isn’t that just lying by omission? Surely you do not believe that aliens came over here and planted the seeds of life. Please answer the questions in the posts above about where the designer acts or has acted. Even if your idea about a designer is true it does nothing to refute evolution. Does the designer act every single minute of the day? Where is the point of interaction? It seems that as you start tracing back where the designer acts or has acted you have to eventually get to the beginning of life. And, as has been pointed zillions of times, evolution has nothing to do with the beginning, only what happened afterward. And if the designer (god) can create such wonderous marvels as plants, animals, people, planets, stars etc. And if can interact with the world by causing floods, locust swarms and creating language, why not just magically put some words down on paper? Why has every single religious document that has ever been presented been written by a human? They may say that god “told” them to write it down but why? Why go through a human when you can create life and control the weather? Why not just write it yourself? god supposedly wrote the ten commandments into stone, but of course those are not around now. Did he lose his pen? He is omnimpotent but cannot write his own bible, torah, koran? Please address some of these questions, either here or your own post. Give people a real reason to believe that ID has some scientific merit. Build up your own idea, not tear down someone else’s. You can tear down a million theories but it does not add one brick to your own wall.

Anyone else with info on how ID answers these questions please feel free to answer.

Thanks

Comment #24659

Posted by Matt Brauer on April 13, 2005 1:46 PM (e)

I’d like to make it clear that I don’t begrudge the ID folks their talks in front of friendly audiences. There’s only so much hostility anyone can take, and I know that I would not want to always be putting myself out in front of a crowd that was predisposed to disagree with me. I admire people like Paul Nelson who can do this to the extent that they do.

BUT it would be wise to limit the conclusions drawn from the reaction of a friendly audience. And dancing in the end-zone is simply bad sportsmanship, if the field is so tilted in your favor.

Also, it seems a rather shabby trick for the organizers of a debate to intentionally (and without the knowledge of the participants) stack the audience in favor of one of the debaters.

Finally, the organizers of the debate used the Princeton name and Princeton facilities but cheated the Princeton community out of the opportunity to see Dembski in person. I’ll certainly be drafting a note of complaint to the facilities department, in addition to the one I’m writing to the organizers of the debate.

And I have to ask: what were the motivations of these organizers? Were they trying to provide a staged (and therefore meaningless) victory for Dr. Dembski? Did they simply want to invoke the Princeton name for use in later PR campaigns? Or was it just horrendously sloppy planning that excluded the Princeton campus from participation?

Until such time as we get an answer, I’d suggest that Bill stop making rhetorical hay out of what has been an event of dubious legitimacy.

(Also, I’m of course waiting to see the recorded footage before I concede that Bill has any right to be claiming “victory” in the first place!)

Comment #24663

Posted by fallmists on April 13, 2005 2:01 PM (e)

I’ll agree that Bill was certainly not to blame for the selective publicity that nevertheless rebounded entirely to his advantage. I’ll admit that he may even have been completely unaware of it.

I am a Princeton student and I *was* at the debate. Just so you know, I am giving a first-hand account here.

First off, the debate was at our Woodrow Wilson School (international/public affairs type department building), so that already created a non-science atmosphere. Both Dr. Dembski and Dr. Silver appeared to be somewhat frustrated at not being able to assume the audience’s knowledge of actual science. Dr. Dembski resorted to just quoting many different sources in a non-scientific context and Dr. Silver only gave very vague accounts of various instances of selection we have observed.

The audience was EXTREMELY one-sided (I believe all of the questions asked except two were blatantly pro-ID or at least anti-evolution)– to the extent that one audience member actually stood up and said, “This is a question for Dr. Silver. Why do you hate God? Everything you have said tonight is dripping with your deep hatred of God. What did God do to you?”

The audience was by far non-Princeton students. I can count approximately 12 actual students in the audience (8 of whom I directly brought along myself because I had heard by coincidence from a professor SIX hours before the debate that there was going to be one in the first place!) The event was most definitely NOT advertised anywhere on campus and the majority of the audience was actually older adults (from the community, or elsewhere, I’m not sure, but they weren’t professors or grad students).

The organizer/moderator of the debate (not sure who the professor is, but he’s not in the bio department here) appears to be pro-ID himself. I say this based on encounters with him in the cafeteria and listening to him talk with one of my friends. Just as a side note, another friend was at a Women in Sciences panel a few weeks ago and recognized him as the audience member who asked rather antagonistic questions to the panel. I do not believe Dr. Dembski himself was responsible for the INCREDIBLY poor advertisment of the debate (e.g. there was NO mention of the debate ANYWHERE on any website or poster or flyer at Princeton—in order to double-check the time and location, I had to google up Dr. Dembski’s website to find the information).

I felt the Professor Silver could have done a better job making the points he wished to express clear to the audience, but I think this was largely due to the lack of science-oriented audience. (Prof. Silver tried to use examples of artificial selection to demonstrate how selection as a mechanism can create diversity; but he never really made it clear that this was his point–so the pro-ID audience took that as “evidence” for how intelligence is needed to create diversity.) But at the same time, Dr. Dembski completely ignored every attempt Prof. Silver tried at asking him to give an exact specific mechanism for his “ID theory”–hence the actual topic of the debate: Is ID SciencE? was never even broached.

I have a semi-friend who is a huge fan of Dr. Dembski (I am definitely not), but both of us (and the other 6 of us who came to the debate) agreed that the debate itself was rather poorly done and that this was a result largely of both sides not being able to assume science knowledge in the audience.

I’d say in the end, the debate really did nothing and said nothing we didn’t already know. Dr. Dembski failed to elucidate an actual mechanism for how an Intelligent Designer would bring about changes (Does the Designer manually change bases with some powers that he has to work on a microscopic level? Does the Designer wave a magic wand? Does the Designer expose many different organisms to extreme radiation to cause mutations in their DNA and then only pick the ones closest to the direction “evolution” should take? Seriously, we *still* have no proposed mechanism.). Professor Silver largely failed to explain to the audience the biological evidence for natural/non-artificial selection leading to new or more complex species (I could get what he was trying to say, but that is only because I am a molecular biology student and because I have some interest in the ID debate or lack-thereof.)

Comment #24668

Posted by Longhorm on April 13, 2005 2:22 PM (e)

I wrote:

I have two questions for you: Which event(s) did the designer cause?  And why do you you believe that the designer caused said event(s)? 

That second question didn’t come out right. With the second question, it seems like I’m asking what Dr. Dembski thinks the designer’s motive was in making the objects that it made. That is not what I want to ask him. I don’t care about what he thinks the designer’s motives were. What I want to know is: What evidence is there that the designer(s) caused the event(s) that Dr. Dembski thinks the designer(s) caused?

Another way to put it: What beliefs does Dr. Dembski hold that are logically inconsistent with what some people call “the theory of evolution?” Specificity helps in this case. It helps advance the discussion. Also, why does Dr. Dembski think he is justified in holding those beliefs.

This is about the closest thing I’ve seen to a hypothesis made by a proponent of “intelligent design”: On one or more specific occasions over the last 3.8 billion years, one or more beings helped cause the existence of some organisms that have lived on planet earth and/or helped cause the existence of some parts of some of those organisms.

Taking the claim just as it is, I’m not justified in believing that it is true. At the moment, I can’t get why I’m not justified it’s true. But maybe I can address the issue later.

However, it would help if the proponents of “intelligent design” were more specific about what they think happened – about what they think the designer(s) did vis-a-vis the organisms on earth. Did the designer turn dust into the first self-replicating molecules on earth 3.8 billion years ago? Did the designer(s) turn dust directly into the first bacterial flagellum to exist on earth? Did the designer turn dust – poof! – directly into the first two T-Rexes (one male and one female)?

Comment #24669

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 2:26 PM (e)

“And I have to ask: what were the motivations of these organizers? Were they trying to provide a staged (and therefore meaningless) victory for Dr. Dembski? Did they simply want to invoke the Princeton name for use in later PR campaigns? Or was it just horrendously sloppy planning that excluded the Princeton campus from participation?”

Isn’t posssible that the motivation was simply to get a scientist on the stage to begin with?

I’m sure they will use this as ammunition against the boycott in kansas.

cheers

Comment #24670

Posted by Katarina on April 13, 2005 2:26 PM (e)

fallmists,

Thanks for your enlightening account. It explains a lot. BTW, I sympathise with you, I have associates and family members who are otherwise very bright, but for some reason fall into the ID faulty reasoning. I don’t understand it, but luckily Dembski’s critics have gutted him so thoroughly that all I have to do is point to their books/articles, and if my friends are not too lazy to read, they eventually see the light.

I am sorry you have a professor there who sympathises with the ID crowd. That is quite, quite sad.

Comment #24688

Posted by Michael Finley on April 13, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

…Bill Dembski, a seminary professor.

Is Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning a Baptist seminary? If it is, it’s a well kept secret on the Institute’s website (http://www3.baylor.edu/IFL/index.htm).

I understand that Dembski is not held in high regard around here, but at least give the man credit for being a university professor of “the conceptual foundations of science”, and a mathematician.

Comment #24690

Posted by fallmists on April 13, 2005 3:18 PM (e)

Well, the professor is not a biologist (actually I don’t think he’s even a professor in any of the sciences), so that is ok. (Wait, actually I just looked him up and he’s a lecturer in the politics department.)

Dembski says claims:
Thursday evening (April 7, 2005), I debated Lee Silver at Princeton University. The debate, titled “Intelligent Design: Is It Science?” was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which recently published my book Uncommon Dissent. About 200 people attended the debate (from idthefuture

I am checking up on this, but we are almost certain that there were not 200 people there. The debate was held in am auditorium that is not large and it wasn’t even filled to capacity. Haha, although, there *was* a police officer in addition campus safety!

I’ll get back to this tomorrow after I stop by the auditorium and check the max capacity number.

Comment #24694

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 3:36 PM (e)

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/other/facilities.html

Robertson Hall
- headquarters of the Woodrow Wilson School

….

The main floor of Robertson Hall contains the graduate and undergraduate program offices, student mailboxes, a lounge atrium, and the George P. Shultz ‘42 Dining Room. Dodds Auditorium, a 200-seat amphitheater with modern audio-visual technology, is also on the main level of the building.

So it must have been packed full.

Comment #24695

Posted by Michael Finley on April 13, 2005 3:37 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

…but luckily Dembski’s critics have gutted him so thoroughly that all I have to do is point to their books/articles, and if my friends are not too lazy to read, they eventually see the light.

Do your friends have professional training in statistics? The reason I ask is that Dembski’s actual argument (e.g., The Design Inference) is rather technical, and the specialized critiques of it (e.g., Sober) are equally technical.

I “understand” Dembski and Sober the way I understand quantum mechanics, i.e., without the math (say by reading a little Brian Greene). Which is to say, I really don’t understand them at all. I have too many other things to study in my own field to spend much time learning the probability calculus. Aren’t most of us in the same boat here?

Comment #24696

Posted by caerbannog on April 13, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Is Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning a Baptist seminary?

[hr]

Perhaps you haven’t heard about Dembski’s new employer.

From http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=19115:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Sept. 16 the establishment of the Center for Science and Theology along with the appointment of renowned philosopher of science William A. Dembski as its first director….….……

The careful reader will note that the words Baptist and Seminary are both present in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Comment #24698

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

Finley

I understand that Dembski is not held in high regard around here, but at least give the man credit for being a university professor of “the conceptual foundations of science”, and a mathematician.

A mathematician who loses count somewhere between 10 and 200? And who believes he can prove that mysterious alien beings created all the complex life forms that ever lived on earth by playing word games with biological data?

No, I don’t think so.

Comment #24699

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 3:44 PM (e)

Finley

The reason I ask is that Dembski’s actual argument (e.g., The Design Inference) is rather technical

How would you know, Finley, unless you’re an expert?

and the specialized critiques of it (e.g., Sober) are equally technical.

What is technical about “written in jello”?

Comment #24701

Posted by Matt Brauer on April 13, 2005 3:46 PM (e)

Oops, looks like I jumped the gun by about 6 weeks.

Dembski will be “Carl F.H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as of June 1.

Apologies to Associate Research Professor Dembski.

Comment #24706

Posted by Steven Laskoske on April 13, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

fallmists wrote:

Well, the professor is not a biologist (actually I don’t think he’s even a professor in any of the sciences), so that is ok. (Wait, actually I just looked him up and he’s a lecturer in the politics department.)

Somehow, the information in the parentheses fails to surprise me.

Of course, I’d wonder about that professor’s tenure. It seems, if this particular debate were set up for political motives, it would be a complete failure for ID advocates. Since the audience was comprised of mainly ID believers, no one was swayed. In fact, the only real look we have at the people who follow ID is from one audience member’s question. (“Why do you hate God?”) In short, it makes the ID crowd look pretty bad to the average person on the street.

Comment #24711

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

…without the math (say by reading a little Brian Greene). Which is to say, I really don’t understand them at all…

This is the impression Dembski works very hard to create. I think Mark Perakh has discussed this in some detail: that Dembski’s basic argument can be stated without using any math at all, that the assumptions on which the argument is based is not beyond somone lacking a math background, and that Dembski’s treatments are heavily larded with superfluous mathematical notations, formulas, and terminology intended to be beyond the comfort zone of the intended reader, who is instead intended to come away with the feeling that Dembski’s opinions have been proved with full mathematical rigor.

But for Finley’s edification, consider pages of mathematical formulas intended to show that the maximum number of angels that can dance simultaneously on a pinhead cannot exceed 83. I hope even Finley can grasp that certain assumptions must have been made. The proximate assumptions concern the size of angels, the size of pinheads, and the room required to dance (and perhaps even the type of dance to be performed). The more deeply underlying assumptions involve the existence of angels and all they imply. The pages of formulas could all be completely consistent, following mathematical rules to the letter. The conclusion remains total nonsense.

Comment #24714

Posted by Firsttimeblogger on April 13, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

Steven the average person on the street is considered fair game for ID advocates since they know that so called average people never bother to verify anything religious fruit loops say. Also these shams are used by ID advocates to boast that audience crowds overwhelimgly are swayed by ID debators.

Had one of these nits one time try to use a misquote of Niles to show that ID and Creationist debators where the best debators on the planet and respected by evolutionists. Thing is the quote said the exact opposite. The nit never responded back not even to deny when this was pointed out to them. Even though this nit objected strenously to my statement that creationists routinely misquote people.

Comment #24715

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 4:21 PM (e)

Flint

consider pages of mathematical formulas intended to show that the maximum number of angels that can dance simultaneously on a pinhead cannot exceed 83 … The pages of formulas could all be completely consistent, following mathematical rules to the letter. The conclusion remains total nonsense.

That’s because the answer is 42.

Comment #24716

Posted by Dave Cerutti on April 13, 2005 4:22 PM (e)

I don’t think you’re going to get very far with Bill Dembski. He’s already admitted in numerous articles and interviews that he thinks intelligent design is a way to “win back the culture for Christ.” But, of course, he’ll probably then retreat immediately by saying that the identity of the designer isn’t anything crucial to the science of intelligent design. Then you can ask him where the science in intelligent design is. And he’ll flip around with some things that science doesn’t know yet, some things it does but he doesn’t know it does, and throw out this idea that design wins out because nothing else can be found that will satisfy the astronomical improbability of it all being just so. He’ll continue to infer design in systems that science doesn’t know enough about until, or even after, science has presented reasonable non-design mechanisms to explain them, at which point he’ll move on to something new.

Sorry, guys, there’s Gish’s law (for every missing link filled there are two more missing links), and then there’s Dembski’s law: for every scientific discovery that begs new questions and exposes a lack of understanding, there’s a niche for some nihilistic intellectual movement like intelligent design.

Comment #24718

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on April 13, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

Discovery Institute events page
Upcoming events:

April 19, 2005
Heritage Foundation hosts Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D.
12 noon
The Heritage Foundation Lehrman Auditorium

April 19, 2005
Live Debate: Intelligent Design: Scientific Inquiry or Religious Indoctrination?
NPR program Justice Talking
7:30 PM at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia
featuring Dr. Paul Nelson and Dr. Niall Shanks
free and open to the public

April 21, 2005
George Gilder’s “Silicon Eye”
Lecture and Book Signing with the Author
7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21st in Benaroya’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

May 5, 2005
CDR Steve Bristow, United States Navy
apparently nothing to do with Intelligent Design Creationism

Comment #24721

Posted by 386sx on April 13, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

fallmists wrote:

The audience was EXTREMELY one-sided (I believe all of the questions asked except two were blatantly pro-ID or at least anti-evolution)— to the extent that one audience member actually stood up and said, “This is a question for Dr. Silver. Why do you hate God? Everything you have said tonight is dripping with your deep hatred of God. What did God do to you?”

fallmists, do you agree with Mr. Dembski’s assessment of that particular audience member’s questions?

Demski says: This became especially clear when one young man asked Silver, “Why do you hate God?” This young man, who I assume was a Princeton student, asked the question not as a “frothing at the mouth fundamentalist” but as a psychiatrist might in trying to understand a case study. He asked the question very calmly, indicating that he genuinely wanted to understand Silver’s motivations.

What I mean is, did this audience member have magic brain waves flying out of his/her head so that you were able to determine through some sort of mind reading technique that this person “genuinely wanted to understand,” and was asking “as a psychiatrist might in trying to understand a case study”?

Comment #24728

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 4:55 PM (e)

April 19, 2005
Live Debate: Intelligent Design: Scientific Inquiry or Religious Indoctrination?
NPR program Justice Talking

I look forward to these other NPR radio shows:

“Sasquatch Studies: Ready for Prime Time?”

“UFO Abductions: Are Our Children Ready for the Truth?”

“Communicating with the Dead: A Miraculous and Powerful Tool? Or Pure Garbage?”

“Group Prayer: A Proven Way of Protecting Schools from Natural Disasters? Or Religious Indoctrination?”

“Telepathy in Children: Impact on Test Scores”

Comment #24729

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 13, 2005 4:57 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Do your friends have professional training in statistics? The reason I ask is that Dembski’s actual argument (e.g., The Design Inference) is rather technical, and the specialized critiques of it (e.g., Sober) are equally technical.

While Dembski does give a technical description of “specified complexity” (actually, multiple different and not entirely compatible versions of the concept), there are a number of points that don’t require the reader to have a doctorate in statistics in order to comprehend.

  1. Dembski defines “design” by what it isn’t, not by what it is.
  2. Dembski defines “complexity” as “improbability”, specifically “improbability of origin”.
  3. Dembski waves away consideration of “don’t know yet” as an alternative possibility.
  4. Dembski’s quantification of information added by natural selection would rate the same novel trait as having different amounts of “information” simply depending upon differences in two circumstances between numbers of total offspring and numbers surviving to reproduce. (HT to Bill Jefferys.)
  5. Dembski has claimed twenty specific examples of “complex specified information”, but Dembski’s “generic chance elimination argument” (GCEA) has been applied partially in just four published cases. For sixteen cases, all there is to substantiate the claim is Dembski’s bald assertion.
  6. No one besides Dembski has ever published even a partial application of Dembski’s GCEA.
  7. Neither Dembski nor any other ID advocate has offered any method of empirically testing Dembski’s GCEA.
  8. Dembski has deployed a multitude of inconsistent uses of the phrase “complex specified information”.
  9. Dembski’s example of “CSI holism” (NFL, p.166) is explained by the fact that he failed to count the information of the spaces in the sentence he analzyed.
  10. Dembski’s analysis of the Oklo natural nuclear reactors reveals that Dembski’s CSI is unfalsifiable.
  11. Several of Dembski’s equations in section 5.10 of NFL rely upon unreferenced or made-up numbers.
  12. Dembski’s calculation of an “M/N ratio” (NFL p.297) is off by 65 orders of magnitude.

None of these problems requires a background comparable to Dembski’s in order to appreciate that a problem exists in each case. There are other problems in Dembski’s work that are accessible to the layman.

http://www.antievolution.org/people/dembski_wa/wre_ctns.ppt

With greater degrees of background knowledge, of course, further problems in Dembski’s work become apparent.

http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/papers/eandsdembski.pdf

Comment #24730

Posted by Paul Christopher on April 13, 2005 4:59 PM (e)

One has to wonder what actions would qualify someone as a “frothing at the mouth fundamentalist” in William Dembski’s mind.

Maybe he’s just spent too much time with his Discovery Institute pals. Compared to them, that audience member probably sounded like a godless communist.

Comment #24732

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 13, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

Allegedly some student said to Silver

Everything you have said tonight is dripping with your deep hatred of God.

Sure, I’ll bet Silver was just completely out of control with his non-stop bigotry and hatred.

Then, when Silver was exposed, he spun his head around three times, projectile-vomited green muck over the podium, sprouted bat wings and vanished in a thick cloud of putrid smoke as he shouted (backwards) “Curse you, Believers!”

No wonder Dembski found the exchange so “interesting.”

Comment #24740

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 13, 2005 5:25 PM (e)

William,

Isn’t this what ID is really about?

“Even many Christians who have been raised and indoctrinated in a secular mindset … will say, ‘Look, we’re just going to have to accept the science of the day and try to make our peace with it theologically,’” Dembski said. “And there is no peace theologically … ultimately with this view [Darwinian evolution]. But they accept it. And so, this idea of intelligent design becomes very threatening.”

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=20574

Why not just be honest and say that ID is a waste of time scientifically but it makes you feel better about your religious beliefs?

Stuart

Comment #24743

Posted by Mike Walker on April 13, 2005 5:26 PM (e)

Why do you hate God? Everything you have said tonight is dripping with your deep hatred of God.

The fact that Dembski thought that this question was even worth commenting on is telling. No matter how calmly and sincerely this question is asked it reveals the questioner to be a close-minded fundamentalist. At best it was an ignorant query, at worst it was intended to be an abusive put down.

If Silver is a Christian the worst he can (should) be accused of, even by “Bible-believing” fundamentalists, is of being misguided. If he is an atheist or agnostic, they should know it’s hard for anyone to hate something that you don’t believe even exists.

For Dembski to believe that this was worth mentioning in his report is telling. Of course, he knows his audience well.

For me, I don’t hate God, I just have a dislike for people who tell me I do.

Comment #24747

Posted by fallmists on April 13, 2005 5:31 PM (e)

fallmists, do you agree with Mr. Dembski’s assessment of that particular audience member’s questions?

Demski says: This became especially clear when one young man asked Silver, “Why do you hate God?” This young man, who I assume was a Princeton student, asked the question not as a “frothing at the mouth fundamentalist” but as a psychiatrist might in trying to understand a case study. He asked the question very calmly, indicating that he genuinely wanted to understand Silver’s motivations.

386sx; I don’t agree with Dembski’s assessment at all because I *know* this particular young man, who happens to be an rather well-known evangelical Christian on campus (who wears anti-abortion slogan shirts with photos of “bloody aborted babies” at times). Certainly not as a psychiatrist, more like a priest who’s been taught that evolution is incompatible with a belief in God.

Though, if you don’t talk to him about religious/political issues, he’s a rather nice guy.

Comment #24749

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

we are all basically nice unless we feel threatened, yes?

Comment #24756

Posted by Duane Smith on April 13, 2005 6:34 PM (e)

As I have said before, Intelligent Design Creationism is hollow marketing ploy to advance a political and religious agenda. They have no real scientific agenda. Your sure don’t want scientists to spoil the event by asking a lot of embarrassing questions and siding with the lone opposition. It helps be able to pick on only one person. I’m afraid Dr. Silver and Princeton helped their marketing efforts.

Comment #24758

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 6:47 PM (e)

One never knows whether Dembski checks back in after making one of his drive-by taunts, but as I picture him reading Fallmists’s account of the event I can’t help but hear, running through his head, the refrain of the song that was popular a few years ago… “I wish the real world would just quit hassling me

Comment #24767

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 13, 2005 7:34 PM (e)

Posted by William Dembski on April 13, 2005 10:57 AM

I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

Mr Dembski, I have no interest in “debating” you, since science isn’t decided by “debate”.

But I do have two simple quesitons for you:

(1) what is the scientific theory of ID, and how do we test it using the scientific method

and

(2) do you repudiate the extremist Reconstructionist views of the Center for (the Rewnewal of) Science and Culture’s primary funder, Howard Ahmanson. And if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway.

Alas, I suspect that I will never get any straight answer from you.

Which would be, I think, quite an eloquent answer in itself.

Comment #24768

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 13, 2005 7:40 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #24776

Posted by JohnK on April 13, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

One minor contrarian note: The thread’s title…

Dembski holds debate on ID as science, forgets to invite scientists

…should be changed, as there is no evidence Dembski himself was responsible for the event’s local promotion.
How ‘bout “Debate held with Dembski on ID as science, Organizers neglect promoting to scientists”?

It took a moment to grok why Dembski began these comments by emphasizing his debating scientists. He fixated on the ambiguous title rather than Brauer’s point - the audience composition.

A metaphor for “IDists See A Science Debate, Scientists See… Nothing.”

Comment #24782

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 9:11 PM (e)

Note to self: If invited to debate a wing-nut at an event organized by a wing-nut organization, just say no. What was Silver thinking?

Comment #24784

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 13, 2005 9:17 PM (e)

First Berlinski, now Dembski. Wow you guys are just giddy with joy. You even had to take a cheap shot at both of them to get their replies. I think we should let them get back to their research. I’d be glad to entertain any well thought out coherent questions about the science vs. darwinism debate.

Comment #24804

Posted by Air Bear on April 13, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

Three well-thought-out questions for Evolving Apeman:

1) What are you evolving into?

3) Which came first - the chicken or the egg?

3) Are you Great White Wonder’s:
a) Evil Twin
b) Alter ego?
c) Greatest Admirer?

Comment #24811

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

“I think we should let them get back to their research”

uh, what research would that be, exactly? that’s the point, yes?

Comment #24825

Posted by Dave Cerutti on April 13, 2005 11:26 PM (e)

“I think we should let them get back to their research.”

And just how is it that the rest of us are impeding their research? Why do we need to “let” them get back to it? On th contrary, we’ve been pleading with them to actually do some research for as long as there’s been an Intelligent Design movement. If anything, IDists have impeded the research of real scientists by lighting fires that we have to go and put out, or through political lobbying that makes congressmen less able or willing to fund science. Perhaps we should just leave them alone and “let them get back to being a shoehorn for slipping religious dogma into public education.”

As for the student with an enormous political axe to grind, Eric Rudolph is probably a very nice guy, too, unless of course you’re a Jew, have any tie to abortion, or happen to have darker skin.

Comment #24831

Posted by Francis Beckwith on April 14, 2005 12:16 AM (e)

It would seem to me that information is nothing more than the human perception of the environment.

Is that statement always true, but only true when I’m perceiving it? And besides, if no one’s perceiving it, how do you know there’s an environment when all minds are absent?

Information [as possessed by humans] changes all the time without any change to the actual universe at all.

The claim that “information” changes all the time is a bit of information that apparently does not change.

The only thing that has changed been our perception of the universe, the universe has not changed.

So, knowledge of an unchanging universe behind perception is not perceived. But this would seem to entail that you know something about the universe as a whole–namely, that it has not changed–that is not mind dependent. Interesting. But since you are part of the universe, and you do not know yourself through perception, then there is at least one part of the universe that you know, that changes, and that you don’t perceive it. Interesting.

Without a mind to perceive, I would propose that there is no such thing as information at all.

Comments?

See above.

Comment #24833

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 12:20 AM (e)

“Is that statement always true, but only true when I’m perceiving it? And besides, if no one’s perceiving it, how do you know there’s an environment when all minds are absent? “

if a tree falls in the forest…

Comment #24835

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 12:32 AM (e)

And besides, if no one’s perceiving it, how do you know there’s an environment when all minds are absent?

Whoaaaa … dude … did you ever like look really close at your hand … ?

Wait a minute. I thought this thread was about the clownin’ in Princeton.

Comment #24845

Posted by Russell on April 14, 2005 6:17 AM (e)

“I think we should let them get back to their research”

See, it’s this sense of humor that’s how we know Apeman is not DonkeyDong.

Comment #24851

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 14, 2005 8:07 AM (e)

Airbear,

Three well-thought-out questions for Evolving Apeman:

1) What are you evolving into?

3) Which came first - the chicken or the egg?

3) Are you Great White Wonder’s:
a) Evil Twin
b) Alter ego?
c) Greatest Admirer?

1) The logical conclusion of common descent is that we are all no more than evolving apeman. Apeman is to remind us that we are all just animals. I’m not evolving, homo sapiens (apemen) are evolving. All our behavours are related to evolution including belief or lack of belief in a deity. You should be nicer to Demski, he and many others may just have a genetic polymorphisms that effects behavior and causes them to deny evolution.

2) I don’t know. Unlike Darwinists, I can live with uncertainty regarding questions that have a paucity of quality data.

3) c - So far I find his nihilist view of the world the most coherent with common descent.

Comment #24854

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 14, 2005 8:15 AM (e)

Dembski’s response That should silence a few cries of “foul play”

Comment #24857

Posted by Boyce Williams on April 14, 2005 8:59 AM (e)

So far, The talking points raised here almost match what’s described in “Rev Dr” Lenny Flank’s article on Debates . Although keeping it quiet on a college campus and invited only the converted is a new wrinkle - just padding a line on a theologic resume saying one had debated in the heart of the “liberal” camp?

Comment #24858

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 9:09 AM (e)

keeping it quiet on a college campus and invited only the converted is a new wrinkle

I may be missing something here. From what I have read (quite a bit, actually) on TalkOrigins about debates starting with Gish and Morris is that creationists simply refuse to accept a deck not stacked in their favor. This includes refusal to debate unless they get to pick the venue, the moderator, the publicist, and (as much as possible) the audience. They also insist on selecting the format: the Gish Gallop is not negotiable, and picking one single statement and examining it in detail is forbidden. Busing in local church groups to form the audience is a normal practice, as is selling creationist literature at the door.

These debates are public relations exercises, intended to produce sound bites and create the impression that a genuine controversy is being examined “equally by both sides.” And, of course, the creationist side wins the day in the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the audience. It allows the DI people to claim they’ll debate anyone anytime, while permitting no comments on their blog.

Comment #24865

Posted by Lee Silver on April 14, 2005 10:04 AM (e)

I was the one who debated Dembski last Thursday night. I did it mostly for the experience (and to be able to write about it), because I knew that no one in the audience would change their mind. I told the Dembski people that I would ONLY debate if the agreed-upon question was “Intelligent Design: Is it Science?” They agreed. I didn’t provide any evidence for biological evolution, because that wasn’t part of the question (and the audience wouldn’t have understood the evidence anyway). But as we all know, ID is a smoke-screen for the Christian god of the Bible, who was supposed to have created each living thing as it exists today. So, I directed my talk toward a critique of the Christian god. I provided some visuals to demonstrate that there are lots of living things that God didn’t create. A striking example is corn, which was bred out of an inedible weed. Also, God was supposed to have put seeds in the ground for each plant, but bananas don’t produce seeds – another conflict with a literal interpretation of the Bible. I believe it was these examples that led to the challenge, “why do you hate God?” The questioner clarified that he was talking about the Biblical god. I said I didn’t hate God. What I didn’t say was that it makes no sense to hate a fictional character. But, quietly, I was happy with the question because it demonstrated exactly what this debate is all about. If there was one goal that I had, it was to challenge the claim that ID is science. Natural selection should have been a side issue according to the question put to debate. I suspect that most people in the audience would have agreed that their beliefs are based on faith – not science – because that’s what their religion is all about.

Comment #24867

Posted by Bob King on April 14, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

The fact that a public debate was held on the topic “ID - is it Science?” itself answers the question. Such debates do not, and can not, answer such questions. Even debates at scientific conferences which involve experts do not decide such issues - although they may raise interesting ideas.

If ID were science then there would be experiments, simulations, predictions, etc. This all seems so obvious that it is beyond belief that any of this could be taken seriously.

Dembski is a showman pure and simple. Anyone who could state in the preface to a book that they are not a “fan of notation” and then proceed to fill the book with the sort of nottaion Dembski uses could be assumed to be either (a) a nerd or (b) to have a twisted sense of humor. But when it turns out that the notation serves no useful purpose beyond making the treatise look scholarly then it becomes clear what sort of a scientist or mathematician Mr Demski really is. By their fruit ye shall know them.

Comment #24870

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 10:27 AM (e)

Mr. Frank wrote:

…since science isn’t decided by “debate”.

What a silly comment. A debate is an exchange of arguments. Scientific questions, along with every other sort of rational question, are decided by arguments.

Whether that exchange occurs in print or spoken word is irrelevant.

Comment #24872

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 10:40 AM (e)

A debate is an exchange of arguments. Scientific questions, along with every other sort of rational question, are decided by arguments.

No, scientific questions are decided by evidence. Debates are perhaps an important part of the process, because they can help determine the meaning of the evidence, or the best methods of collecting it, or otherwise influence the nature of the evidence available at any given time. But ultimately, scientific questions must be based on evidence and not on arguments. It’s essentially accurate to say that scientific questions have been decided when the evidence reaches critical mass, being comprehensive and unambiguous enough so nothing remains to argue about. And argument is surely helpful in reaching this point.

I suspect Finley is conflating the notion of a public relations event (a “debate” complete with question to be addressed, moderator, time limits, etc.) with the normal scientific process of reconciling divergent proposals. He’s calling both of these processes “debates” although the two have no other effective overlap.

Comment #24873

Posted by Bob Finley on April 14, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

Mr Finley,

Scientific theories are certainly established through “debate” in the sense of discussion and argumentation in which facts and predictions are provided and established. This is done primarily in teh scientific literature and the “debate” involves reproducing (or not) the findings of others. However, “Debates: in the usual sense of a speaking competition between two oppoenents or teams cannot decide science. Since we are talking about such a debate - between Dembski and Silver - it is a bit disingenous - but typical - to confuse the issue

If you really think that whatyou say makes sense then let’s have a public debate on Cold Fusion at Princeton. If the people who support Cold Fusion win the debate then our energy problems are solved, right?

Comment #24874

Posted by Bob King on April 14, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

whoops - I accidentally posted Finley’s last name in and so replaced my own in the previous post.

Comment #24875

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

To all of you who spent valuable time taking me to task on whether predictions followed from the hypothesis of common design, please critic my latest rumination on the same topic. I’m sure this will be moved to the Wall, but better to start out on a more recent thread.

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=425e8db19206ffff;act=ST;f=14;t=10

Comment #24877

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 10:55 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

No, scientific questions are decided by evidence.

And what do you suppose scientific arguments use as premises? Isn’t it statements that can be verified by evidence (i.e., observation)?

Comment #24882

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 14, 2005 11:12 AM (e)

There’s scientific debate based on evidence, and then there’s the politically-charged debates relished by IDers. Don’t equivocate.

Comment #24885

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 11:24 AM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

There’s scientific debate based on evidence, and then there’s the politically-charged debates relished by IDers. Don’t equivocate.

I’m not equivocating. Don’t conflate separate issues. The “atmosphere” surrounding a debate is accidental to the content of a debate, viz., the arguments. A politically-charged debate can be carried out in the pages of peer-reviewed journals no less than college auditoriums. Just ask Meyer and Sternberg. Likewise, a productive, reasoned exchange can occur in a moderated debate setting (e.g., Buckley’s Firing Line).

Comment #24888

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 14, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Likewise, a productive, reasoned exchange can occur in a moderated debate setting (e.g., Buckley’s Firing Line).

I’ll bite. Produce a citation from a peer-reviewed science journal that attributes a scientific issue as having been settled by the 1997 “intelligent design” Firing Line debate.

If it’s too difficult to support your own assertion, feel free to produce any scientific citation whatsoever that indicates that a debate in the forensics sense has settled a scientific issue.

We’ll wait… I suspect for a very long time.

The argumentation that occurs in print, specifically in peer-reviewed journals in modern times, is treated differently by scientists, and thus the distinction is relevant to the issue of how “scientific questions” are decided.

I think Michael is equivocating. I guess the evidence of all those citations he’s about to drop on us will decide that question.

Comment #24890

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

Dr. Elsberry,

What constitutes being “settled” in either case?

Is an issue settled if a peer-reviewed journal article claims that it’s settled? Is there no difference between publishing an article and proving a conclusion? Surely there is, or the mere appearance of Meyer’s article in a peer-reviewed journal would have established ID as scientific fact.

I can anticipate the response: “The vast majority of scientists and articles…” Majority rule in science, right? What settles a debate, then? The reception of arguments by the “audience” (of readers or hearers). Obviously some audiences are better than others, but there is no reason to believe that one medium of debate is, in principle, superior to another.

Comment #24891

Posted by GT(N)T on April 14, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

“I told the Dembski people that I would ONLY debate if the agreed-upon question was “Intelligent Design: Is it Science?””

Good strategy. ID proponents spend 99% of their energy attacking evolution. The real issue, and their weakest point among many weak points, is that ID is not science. They suggest that if evolution fails as an idea the only alternative is a creative, designing God. In other words, that science isn’t adequate to answer the question of origins. None of them really believe that intelligent design is science. They know it for what it is, even if they won’t acknowledge the truth.

Comment #24894

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 12:37 PM (e)

GT(N)T wrote:

The real issue … is that ID is not science.

There is no reason to exclude negative, empirical arguments from “science.” If a theory cannot explain a natural fact, it counts against the explanatory power of the theory.

They suggest that if evolution fails as an idea the only alternative is a creative, designing God.

This is false on a couple of counts. First, no mention is made of God (e.g., by Behe or Dembski). It is always an unknown designer. Second, it is never claimed that a designer is the only alternative, just that it is the best of the remaining possibilities (all of which are currently unformulated).

In other words, that science isn’t adequate to answer the question of origins.

Only if science is synonymous with neo-Darwinian evolution.

None of them really believe that intelligent design is science.

[As he peers into men’s souls].

Comment #24895

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 14, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Dr. Elsberry,

What constitutes being “settled” in either case?

More semantics. No citations. Why am I not surprised?

If it’s Doctor Finley, do let me know.

Let’s review…

Michael Finley earlier wrote:

What a silly comment. A debate is an exchange of arguments. Scientific questions, along with every other sort of rational question, are decided by arguments.

I was a bit sloppy earlier. Please retract “settled” and substitute your term, “decided”. Then defend or retract your claim that “scientific questions are decided by arguments”, specifically in the form of debates in the forensics sense. Then everything is in terms that you have picked. Make your case. Or admit that you are making it up as you go.

Comment #24897

Posted by Dene Bebbington on April 14, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

Amusing to see Dembski posturing with “I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.” He could start at ARN where all he usually manages is a drive by post to start a thread, and then the occasional offhand response. His record at his home ground of ISCID is hardly much better.

I suspect he knows that in a written Internet debate he’ll get trounced.

Comment #24900

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

Sigh. To continue the never-ending battle against deliberate dishonesty…

There is no reason to exclude negative, empirical arguments from “science.” If a theory cannot explain a natural fact, it counts against the explanatory power of the theory.

And so there is always a search for observations that are contrary to the predictions a theory makes; natural facts the theory cannot explain. These examples are highly valued, because any that can be found inevitably improve the theory. This is entirely distinct from a “theory” no conceivable natural fact could contradict.

First, no mention is made of God (e.g., by Behe or Dembski). It is always an unknown designer. Second, it is never claimed that a designer is the only alternative, just that it is the best of the remaining possibilities (all of which are currently unformulated).

Where to even begin here? Should I quote the entire wedge document? How about whole sermons delivered by Dembski, Johnson, and others? The designer is always “unknown” when speaking to the general public, and the designer is always the Christian God when raising funds and speaking to the Faithful. Pretending otherwise is dishonest. Even pretending not to notice this thoroughly-documented hypocrisy is dishonest.

Second, magical claims are not “alternative explanations” in any scientific sense. Pretending they are is dishonest.

Third, magical claims are never preferred because scientific explanations are unsatisfactory. Exactly the opposite is the case every time, without exception. Magical claims are presumed beyond any possibility of question or doubt. Since this religious doctrine is perceived to be in conflict with scientific explanations, the science is ipso facto considered wrong. Never the other way around.

Only if science is synonymous with neo-Darwinian evolution.

Again, this is exactly backwards. Science is a method by which evidence can be obtained and explained. The resulting explanation is called a theory. Science is not synonymous with any particular theory the scientific method currently proposes as “best fit”. Pretending that a non-scientific doctrine (i.e. not testable in principle) is also scientific is dishonest. However, I’ll give Finley the benefit of the doubt that he really cannot tell the difference between a tool and something built with that tool.

[As he peers into men’s souls].

Consider: Finley makes the same dishonest claims over and over. In reply, he is corrected, educated, exposed to evidence repeatedly. None of it ever “takes” and Finley repeates the same dishonest material. Is Finley stupid? Playing games? Inherently dishonest? Blinded by belief? Totally ineducable? I can’t see into his soul, so any of the above may be the answer. Should we assume that no amount of correction or explanation can ever penetrate deeply enough so Finley has any idea what science is? By all available evidence, this assumption is solidly supported.

Comment #24902

Posted by fallmists on April 14, 2005 1:05 PM (e)

Evolving Apeman: Dembski’s response That should silence a few cries of “foul play”

Dembski says that the ISI chairman says: Countless flyers were posted on campus

That is most certainly the most blatant lie EVER.

HAHAHAHA! Exactly *where* were these flyers? I’m a molecular bio major. I go to classes in the bio buildings. I take chemistry. I am in the chemistry buildings. My friends are physics and math majors. They have classes in the physics in math buildings. Not a single one of us saw any flyers, *including* the one of us who is a self-proclaimed “fan” of Dembski. *I* told him about the debate after hearing about it 6 hours beforehand from one of my professors (who heard an hour before that by email from his department). As I mentioned before, there was no mention of the debate anywhere on campus; I had to go to Dembski’s website to find the location and time of the debate. Give me a break.

Russ Nieli, who moderated the debate and has taught at Princeton since the 80s, didn’t think the debate was stacked.

From observation/interaction with him, Prof. Nieli also apparently thinks quite positively about Behe’s books.

Comment #24903

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

Dr. Elsberry,

Asking more questions without answering mine. Why am I not surprised.

It’s not Dr. Finley (and I’m not patronizing you by calling you ‘Dr.’, if that’s your suggestion; I can call you ‘Wes’ if we’re on a first name basis, ‘Mr. Elsberry’, or simply ‘Elsberry’ if you prefer).

An argument (i.e., a reasoned position) presented by a scientist is no less an argument if it is spoken or written. And the criteria for an argument being “settled” or “decided” (these are synonymous here, despite your sarcastic retraction) are the same in both instances, viz., being accepted by the audience (of hearers or readers). As I said before, some audiences are better than others, but that is beside the point.

Comment #24904

Posted by fallmists on April 14, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Dembski writes:

Here is a brief review of the debate by a Princeton grad student in astrophysics who was there (he emailed it to me – does he count as a “normal Princeton student”?): I really appreciated Dembski’s style and directness. His opponent was a pretty stereotypical evolutionist[…]

Oh wait, is that the astrophysics student who stood up and “patiently” explained to Professor Silver that his hypothesis that a remote control was created in a factory is an obvious example of “Design Inference”? Usage of the phrase “stereotypical evolutionist” doesn’t sound unbiased to me.

Actually, it sounds like yet another member of the majority pro-ID audience I mentioned earlier.

Comment #24906

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

fallmists:

You are starting to grasp the creationist methodology. Yes, his claims are a lie. But they serve a dual purpose: they satisfy those who desire to believe, and they provide a sort of trail. Later on, you will find people perhaps even including Dembski citing this lie as “proof” that he was not lying! How much do you wish to bet that Russ Nieli “remembers” seeing those flyers, but can’t quite recall exactly where, only that they were “all over”?

Comment #24907

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 1:15 PM (e)

Flint,

There is a difference between advocating an unknown designer for the purposes of an empirical argument, and believing that designer to be God for religious reasons. It’s an easy distinction.

Second, magical claims are not “alternative explanations” in any scientific sense. Pretending they are is dishonest.

Only if methodological naturalism is assumed a priori. And pretending that we havn’t already had this discussion and dismissed that possibility is dishonest.

I’ll give Finley the benefit of the doubt that he really cannot tell the difference between a tool and something built with that tool.

Your charity is overwhelming.

Pretending that a non-scientific doctrine (i.e. not testable in principle) is also scientific is dishonest.

More question begging.

Comment #24908

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

Finley

This is false on a couple of counts. First, no mention is made of God (e.g., by Behe or Dembski). It is always an unknown designer.

Finley, what do you mean when you say “unknown”?

Assuming for the sake of argument that Dembski’s “calculations” are not utterly bogus and empty, is it your position that we can make no reasonable conjecture about the nature of the mysterious alien beings who designed all the “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth?

Is that your position? If it is, please justify your position.

If it’s not, then please cease reciting this garbage about the “unknown designer”.

Thanks.

Comment #24912

Posted by Matt Brauer on April 14, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Just a quick response to Dembski’s charge of “petulance” among the “anti-ID blogosphere.”

My criticism of Dembski is not that he was responsible for the targeted advertising that led to a stacked debate audience.

My criticism is that Dembski seems to think this particular audience’s reactions had something to do with his success or failure at defending the proposition that ID is science.

This is not a new criticism, of course. The behavior of the ISI is standard operating procedure within the ID bubble and its religiously motivated echo chamber.

And I concur with fallmists: no flyers were evident, at least in the usual campus locations. Maybe Dr. Nieli or some ISI representative can provide us with details about where they were placed, so that we can look for similar flyers in the future.

Comment #24914

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 1:43 PM (e)

“Posted by Lee Silver “

I’m ashamed of the crowd at PT. I just started catching up this morning, and noticed that Dr. Silver actually took the time to stop by and post his very thoughts on the actual debate under discussion.

Did anyone bother to thank him, or even acknowledge his contribution??

nope.

Did anyone bother to ask him any direct questions, since he WAS one of PRINCIPLES?

nope.

you let a great resource just walk away.

*sigh*

well, I say, thanks for stopping by and letting us know what your thoughts on the debate were, Dr. Silver.

If you are still lurking about, I have some questions:

Did any of the audiences questions reflect any thought given to the evidence supporting evolutionary theory at all? or was it truly more pews than benches?

did you speak with any of the audience, or Dembski, after the “debate”?

what did they have to say then?

What did your dept. think of the debate? did any of them attend?

I could ask quite a few more, but i’ll stop there for now.

cheers

Comment #24915

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

Great White Wonder,

“Unknown” means unknown, i.e., I don’t know who it is. The ID hypothesis is that there is a designer, but that we currently don’t know anything about the designer other than that he/she/it is a designer. And for the purposes of, e.g., Dembski’s or Behe’s arguments, the identity of the designer is irrelevant.

Comment #24919

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 1:57 PM (e)

Finley:

There is a difference between advocating an unknown designer for the purposes of an empirical argument, and believing that designer to be God for religious reasons. It’s an easy distinction.

There is nothing empirical about the “intelligent designer.” If there were, then some ID proponent could actually think up so much as a single empirical test for one. There is no reason I can find that the designer is claimed to be “unknown” except the one put forth in the wedge document: That actually identifying the intended creator runs afoul of the courts, who might be fooled by the rather transparent pretense otherwise.

Only if methodological naturalism is assumed a priori. And pretending that we havn’t already had this discussion and dismissed that possibility is dishonest.

Methodological naturalism is what science IS in a very real sense. It is a code phrase meaning that the assumption that natural events have natural causes has been fabulously successful in generating working explanations, and that no other assumption has had any success whatsoever.

So scientists say “here is how science works, and must work.” And you say “that’s philosophical naturalism” (OK, you can call it whatever you want). Then you say your label is “assumed a priori”, which is circular. I fail to see how you could dismiss the notion that science is what science is, and that the scientific method follows the scientific method. I agree we’ve had this discussion before. We’ll continue to do so until you find some honesty.

If there are any supernatural mechanisms involved in any aspect of reality science investigates, then I think you will find universal agreement that science lacks the tools to even notice this, much less explain it. If you wish to claim that the parts of reality important to you must be largely supernatural in order to satisfy you, that’s fine. Not science in any way, but fine. But to find fault with science for not being what you want it to be is not honest.

Comment #24920

Posted by Matt Brauer on April 14, 2005 2:02 PM (e)

I’d like to correct a common but mistaken belief about ID’s claims. Michael Finley writes that “[t]he ID hypothesis is that there is a designer.” This is not exactly true. The creationist belief is that there is a designer (specifically one that exists outside of the world as it was created). “Intelligent Design” asserts that, not only is there a designer, but that the designer’s presence is empirically detectable by naturalistic means. It is this bold assertion (that ID methodology exists to detect the presence of “a designer”) that makes ID’s profession of complete ignorance of the designer’s identity seem somewhat convenient. (Convenient it most certainly is, for those who hope to hide the theological content and motivation of ID.)

And toejam: you’re right, we should extend our thanks to Dr. Silver, especially since he took time out from a very busy schedule to chat with us.

Comment #24921

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 2:02 PM (e)

Finley

“Unknown” means unknown, i.e., I don’t know who it is.

Oh, Humpty Dumpty is weeping, Finley. You are the master of words! Or more accurately, your script writer is the master of words because every creationist who trolls here eventually recites this “I don’t have the name, address, social security number” of the designers.

I don’t know “who” tricerotops was, but I know that they didn’t design all the life forms that ever lived on earth. I don’t need tricerotops dog tags or business cards to reach some reasonable conclusions about tricerotops’ abilities.

Fire up your brain, Finley. It’s hard to believe that you actually said it: “The designer is unknown because I don’t know WHO it is.”

What a joke.

Let’s see if you have any imagination whatsoever, Finley. The best scientists have extraordinary imaginations. The worst scientists – like Big Bill Dembski – have no imaginations.

Please state your position clearly Finley and stop dodging: do you or do you not believe that we can make no reasonable conjecture about the nature of the mysterious alien beings who designed all the “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth?

And let me just help you out – you seem to believe that there is a single designer (based on your use of the singular term and your use of the pronoun “who”). How do you justify that? When you fly over a country (let’s call it Stupidia) and see hundreds of cities, towns, aqueducts, bridges, railways, streets, etc., do you ask yourself, “I wonder who designed Stupidia?” If not, why not?

Be honest.

Comment #24924

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 2:17 PM (e)

“for the purposes of, e.g., Dembski’s or Behe’s arguments, the identity of the designer is irrelevant”

laughable.

irrelevant? really? I rather doubt those funding the ID movement, the DI website, or any of the other dis-information sites about ID would agree that the identity of the “creator” is irrelevant.

I haven’t seen any ID postulates that the creator is allah, for example.

If a the identity of the creator is so irrelevant, what is your motivation for believing ID has any credibility?

Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Comment #24934

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 14, 2005 3:12 PM (e)

Let me help you guys out. As a scientist I can tell that the watch I found on the ground didn’t assemble itself (yeah I know the example isn’t original but its still good). It takes a desperate atheist with self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process assembled the complexity of life.

The arguments that demolish macro-evolutions are actually quite simple and have existed for years. If only we could get a spark of integrity in the empty rhetoric of our nihilistic colleagues.

Now back to working on my paper for Nature entitled, “Macro-evolution: The anti-theory of circular reasoning”. I’m going to request some ID proponents to review this landmark article, since they don’t a priori assume naturalism. I wonder if it will get a fair review?

Comment #24940

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 3:34 PM (e)

Apeman poots forth:

As a scientist

Dream on …

I can tell that the watch I found on the ground didn’t assemble itself (yeah I know the example isn’t original but its still good). It takes a desperate atheist with a self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process assembled the complexity of life.

That’s pathetic.

“I can tell that the spinning top I found on the ground didn’t assemble themselves ands start spinning. It takes a desperate atheist with a self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process resulted in the solar system.”

“I can tell that the beautiful painting I found on the ground didn’t paint itself. It takes a desperate atheist with a self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process resulted in the Grand Canyon.”

“I can tell that the garden hose I found on the ground didn’t manufacture itself. It takes a desperate atheist with a self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process resulted in the natural spring.”

“I can tell that the mirror I found on the ground didn’t manufacture itself. It takes a desperate atheist with a self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process resulted in that puddle.”

Let me summarize Apeman: your arguments are irredeemably stupid. But please stick around and continue to make a mockery of yourself and the charlatans who write your loser scripts in their pathetic attempt to promote their evidently weak and desperate religion.

Comment #24942

Posted by Bob King on April 14, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

Apeman,

(a) It isn’t a good analogy because machines made out of metal parts cannot assemble themselves. It is a consequence of kinetic barriers. Fluid phase processes generally have smaller kinetic barriers and multiple pathways - the dynamics of molecular self-assembly in fluid phases is totally different to the watch analogy.

(b) If your analogy held it would still be flawed; if the watch had a designer then that designer must have had a designer too. Of course you agree for you *** just know *** that the watch’s designer was a human. So you are postulating an infinite hierarchy of designers, and not a single designer. That’s fine - just try selling ID as polytheism.

Good luck with your paper to Nature. Unfortunately not only do such papers have to be technically reasonable they also have to be original. So I think you’re screwed.

Comment #24952

Posted by Colin on April 14, 2005 3:52 PM (e)

EA wrote:

As a scientist I can tell that the watch I found on the ground didn’t assemble itself (yeah I know the example isn’t original but its still good). It takes a desperate atheist with self-fulfilling argument to delude himself that a natural process assembled the complexity of life.

It is not good, nor is it scientific. On the contrary, it is a poor argument that relies on personal incredulity rather than evidence. It requires (and this is simply one of the many serious flaws in your assertion) the unsupported assumption that life is significantly relateable to a macroscopic mechanism. This argument is so poor, and so widely and easily refuted, that I have come to see it as a signpost of either a terrible education or significant dishonesty on the part of the creationist at hand. Your mileage may vary.

EA wrote:

The arguments that demolish macro-evolutions are actually quite simple and have existed for years.

They are simple. They are not, however, true, nor are they scientific. This is why they have not ‘existed’ in the scientific world for many years now. “Arguments” from personal incredulity are vaporous and insubstantial compared to the evidence that underlies objective science.

EA wrote:

If only we could get a spark of integrity in the empty rhetoric of our nihilistic colleagues.

What you refer to as “empty rhetoric” is actually the dialogue that takes place between informed parties relying on evidence and the scientific method to develop theories relating to the natural world. Your inability to compete in that sphere does not detract from its substance. Nor does your meaningless accusation of “nihilism” - not believing as you do does not equate to lack of belief. I find that creationists often fail to understand that other people can have valid personal beliefs.

EA wrote:

Now back to working on my paper for Nature entitled, “Macro-evolution: The anti-theory of circular reasoning”. I’m going to request some ID proponents to review this landmark article, since they don’t a priori assume naturalism.

I’m sure that it will be a big hit. After all, it’s a “landmark article.” Perhaps Dr. Davison will be kind enough to lend you the benefit of his experience, and demonstrate the academic rewards of insisting on the supremacy of personal religious theories over objective scientific evidence.

I apologize for feeding the troll, but it seems appropriate in a thread revolving around Dembski.

Comment #24955

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

no apologies necessary, i’m sure.

seems we are all just having fun throwing rocks at the troll.

any chance at substantive discussion seems long gone.

Even tho i’ve only been posting here a relatively short time, this seem the standard ontogenesis of pretty much any thread at PT.

I have to admit, it is an enjoyable lunchtime activitiy.

>:)

cheers

Comment #24976

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 14, 2005 5:01 PM (e)

Lee Silver wrote:

I didn’t provide any evidence for biological evolution, because that wasn’t part of the question (and the audience wouldn’t have understood the evidence anyway). But as we all know, ID is a smoke-screen for the Christian god of the Bible, who was supposed to have created each living thing as it exists today. So, I directed my talk toward a critique of the Christian god.

With friends like Dr. Silver, I don’t need enemies.

Given an opportunity to discuss Dembski’s claims to science before an audience that was primarily people of religious faith, I didn’t take up a complete irrelevancy like “a critique of the Christian God”. The June 17th, 2001 debate in the CTNS/AAAS “Interpreting Evolution” conference at Haverford College is well-documented.

William Dembski’s presentation

My presentation

Dembski and Elsberry panel

Dembski and Elsberry audience Q&A

My PowerPoint file for presentation

I didn’t seek to offend religious believers, but took Dembski to task for problems in his arguments. And by my reckoning, I did a pretty good job of communicating to the audience that “intelligent design” had not yet demonstrated that it had scientific standing. There are plenty of Christian believers who think “intelligent design” fails to qualify as science, including Ken Miller, Keith Miller, Francis Collins, Howard Van Till, and myself.

Lee Silver wrote:

But as we all know, ID is a smoke-screen for the Christian god of the Bible, who was supposed to have created each living thing as it exists today.

Silver acts as if young-earth creationist interpretations of scripture were the only ones possible.

I concur that “intelligent design” is more like “intentional deception”, but I think Silver is way out of line in his self-reported approach to dealing with the issue.

Comment #24978

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 5:09 PM (e)

I wish you had posted that after Silver popped in. I would have liked to have seen the response.

oh well.

Comment #24981

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

Wesley, who is the person relating the history of evo devo in the beginning of the Q&A session?

thanks.

Comment #24982

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

Wesley

With friends like Dr. Silver, I don’t need enemies.

Although Dr. Silver strikes me as a tad naive, I think that when he says he directed his efforts towards a “critique of the Christian God” he meant that he directed his efforts towards a “critique of the idea that the Christian God literally created each living thing.”

Let’s hope that Dr. Silver was more articulate and precise when he spoke at the “debate” than he was when he posted here. That is not to say that people shouldn’t critique religions or gods to their heart’s content – it’s a free country and there are surely worthy criticisms to be made. But doing so in the context of a public debate about the bogusness of ID creationism in front of a bunch of believers is, well, just plain silly and counterproductive.

Comment #24984

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 14, 2005 5:55 PM (e)

J. P. Moreland, Professor at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (the Bible Institute of Los Angeles), offers this summary of Dembski’s program:

William Dembski has reminded us that the emerging Intelligent Design movement has a four pronged approach to defeating naturalism: (1) A scientific/philosophical critique of naturalism; (2) a positive scientific research program (Intelligent Design) for investigating the effects of intelligent causes; (3) rethinking every field of inquiry infected with naturalism and reconceptualizing it in terms of design; (4) development of a theology of nature by relating the intelligence inferred by intelligent design to the God of Scripture (Moreland 1999, citing Dembski 1998.

There is not the least question that “Intelligent Design Creationism” is properly named, or that Dembski’s writing is on its own a complete justification for the inclusion of ‘creationism’ with all this. It is pathetic that Prof. Silver was so mistaken in his self assessed abilities as a public speaker, and champion of science.

I did it mostly for the experience (and to be able to write about it), because I knew that no one in the audience would change their mind.

I am not sure which of either “arrogance” or “hubris” is the better descriptor. Silver is clearly ignorant of the larger themes, and it is this prideful ignorance which may have suggested him for the role of patsy. Even now he seems unaware that he was “punked.”

Dembski, William
1998 “Introduction” in Mere Creation” William Dembski (ed). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Moreland, J. P.
1999 “Postmodernism and the Intelligent Design Movement” Philsophia Christi Series 2, Vol. 1, No. 2: 97-101.

Comment #24985

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 5:56 PM (e)

also, after listening to the Q&A session, It’s obvious you had quite a different audience, to say the least!

Comment #24988

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

“ did a pretty good job of communicating to the audience that “intelligent design” had not yet demonstrated that it had scientific standing”

moreover, you did a decent job of answering how science is able to “tease out” and address design issues without any reference to ID, using the ancient tool example.

Comment #24989

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:38 PM (e)

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 10:27 AM (e) (s)

Mr. Frank wrote:

… since science isn’t decided by “debate”.

What a silly comment. A debate is an exchange of arguments. Scientific questions, along with every other sort of rational question, are decided by arguments.

No they’re not. Scientific matters are decided by the scientific method.

Ya know, that thingie that you were quite unable to come up with any ID statement that could pass it.

POLITICAL matters are decided, at least sometimes, by debate. And ID is indeed a POLITICAL matter, not a scientific matter.

And they are flat-out lying to us when they claim otherwise.

Comment #24992

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:40 PM (e)

To all of you who spent valuable time taking me to task on whether predictions followed from the hypothesis of common design, please critic my latest rumination on the same topic.

I don’t see any steps of the scientific method listed anywhere in your sermon.

Why not.

Comment #24993

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:43 PM (e)

Asking more questions without answering mine. Why am I not surprised.

Speaking of “not answering questions”, I am still waiting for you to produce a scientific theory of ID that can be tested using the scientific method.

What seems to be the problem?

Comment #24994

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:45 PM (e)

There is a difference between advocating an unknown designer for the purposes of an empirical argument, and believing that designer to be God for religious reasons. It’s an easy distinction.

I certainly hope that your side presents this very same argument to the Supreme Court.

Pretty please? With sugar on it?

Comment #24996

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

It takes a desperate atheist

I’m curious about something ——- if ID isn’t about religion, then why the heck do IDers keep bringing up “atheism” and “atheists” adn “materialism” and “naturalism” and such?

Or are they, uh, just lying to us when they claim ID isn’t about religion …… ?

Comment #25000

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:53 PM (e)

I concur that “intelligent design” is more like “intentional deception”, but I think Silver is way out of line in his self-reported approach to dealing with the issue.

As do I.

I have long deplored (and opposed) the verbal domination of the anti-ID movement by atheists with their own irrelevant agenda. It doesn’t help us fight IDers. It DOES help the IDers fight US.

And I see no need to help them in this way.

Comment #25001

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Finley, Comment 24921 awaits your reply whenever you regain consciousness.

Comment #25002

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 14, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

There is a difference between advocating an unknown designer for the purposes of an empirical argument, and believing that designer to be God for religious reasons. It’s an easy distinction.

I certainly hope that your side presents this very same argument to the Supreme Court.

Pretty please? With sugar on it?

Comment #25004

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 6:57 PM (e)

“Speaking of “not answering questions”, I am still waiting for you to produce a scientific theory of ID that can be tested using the scientific method.

What seems to be the problem?”

he’s waiting for Dembski to do it first.

Comment #25011

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

Maybe the DI charlatans should try a little more “randomness” in their approach to selling ID creationism …

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/04/14/mit.prank.reut/index.html

In a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference.

Jeremy Stribling said Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with “context-free grammar,” charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers – “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy” – was accepted for presentation.

Comment #25012

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 7:27 PM (e)

The Tireless Blowhard wrote:

I don’t see any steps of the scientific method listed anywhere in your sermon.

That’s because you’re amazingly obtuse.

Comment #25013

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 7:30 PM (e)

Great White Wonder wrote:

…do you or do you not believe that we can make no reasonable conjecture about the nature of the mysterious alien beings who designed all the “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth?

Sorting through your double-negatives, I believe you mean to ask me whether I have a scientific conjecture about the nature of the hypothesized designer. The answer is no.

Comment #25016

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 14, 2005 7:47 PM (e)

Finley

Sorting through your double-negatives, I believe you mean to ask me whether I have a scientific conjecture about the nature of the hypothesized designer. The answer is no.

Nice try. Here, let me make it easier.

Do you believe that it is not possible to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the mysterious alien beings who designed all the “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth?

Whether you have a conjecture or not is beside the point, although it’s sort of indicative of where your head is hiding if you don’t.

Comment #25017

Posted by Katarina on April 14, 2005 7:51 PM (e)

Rev Dr/ wrote:

I have long deplored (and opposed) the verbal domination of the anti-ID movement by atheists with their own irrelevant agenda. It doesn’t help us fight IDers. It DOES help the IDers fight US.

And I see no need to help them in this way.

Well said! I am very grateful that PT is no longer as cluttered with comments of that nature as it once was. The reason I started commenting here in the first place was in an effort to question such a strategy.

I remember the most formidable of these religiously negative commentators was Pericles. Anyone remember him? He was tough to get through to. I haven’t seen him, but I am glad PT has moved in the direction that it has.

Comment #25018

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

“That’s because you’re amazingly obtuse.”

that’s not an answer. I must be obtuse as well, I sure don’t see it.

could you repeat it for us obtuse children, please?

I really would like to see you use the scientific method.

really.

plz?

Comment #25020

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

my previous comment is directed at MF, just to clarify.

Comment #25022

Posted by Michael Finley on April 14, 2005 8:24 PM (e)

Great White Wonder wrote:

Do you believe that it is impossible to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the mysterious alien beings who designed all the “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth?

Short of the tautologous point that it/they is/are designer(s), yes I believe that it is impossible to make “reasonable” (i.e., supported by rational argument that does not use revealed truths as premises) conjectures about the nature of the designer.

Comment #25028

Posted by TimI on April 14, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

Wesley writes:
“The June 17th, 2001 debate in the CTNS/AAAS “Interpreting Evolution” conference at Haverford College is well-documented.” […] “I didn’t seek to offend religious believers, but took Dembski to task for problems in his arguments. And by my reckoning, I did a pretty good job of communicating to the audience that “intelligent design” had not yet demonstrated that it had scientific standing.”

I was there and can confirm Wesley’s description. Bill Dembski did come somewhat clean in admitting that there was a lot of unfinished work to be done to demonstrate ID’s claims (his, in particular). I don’t think much progress has happened since then, but you’d never know it from reading the DI’s blurbs.

Comment #25030

Posted by Flint on April 14, 2005 9:24 PM (e)

I believe that it is impossible to make “reasonable” (i.e., supported by rational argument that does not use revealed truths as premises) conjectures about the nature of the designer.

Why? Is it not possible to deduce anything at all about the designer from His works? Nothing about his nature, his methods, his purposes, his scale of time and distance, his scope of operation, nothing at all?

This leads to a difficult logical puzzle. The only way we can identify human design is from direct personal experience with human design – and even then, we get it wrong sometimes. If no possible relationship can be drawn between the designer and His designs, then no possible suspicion of design could arise in the first place. That relationship is all that can exist to lead to the conclusion of design.

And indeed, at least when addressing known friendly audiences, the relationship between designer and design is made with the most forceful possible directness: We were Created in His image!

Comment #25031

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

“This leads to a difficult logical puzzle. The only way we can identify human design is from direct personal experience with human design — and even then, we get it wrong sometimes. If no possible relationship can be drawn between the designer and His designs, then no possible suspicion of design could arise in the first place. That relationship is all that can exist to lead to the conclusion of design”

the problem is, as is readily apparent, “logic” fails when applied to creationism. therefore, i expect any creationist to simply ignore or obfuscate your argument. regardless of whether it strikes the mark or not.

*sigh*

Comment #25034

Posted by Henry J on April 14, 2005 9:47 PM (e)

Re “If there are any supernatural mechanisms involved in any aspect of reality science investigates, then I think you will find universal agreement that science lacks the tools to even notice this, much less explain it.”

I’d think it would cause sporadic unpredictable anomalies that would be noticed unless they’re too subtle.

Henry

Comment #25040

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

“I’d think it would cause sporadic unpredictable anomalies that would be noticed unless they’re too subtle.”

feel free to review the literature and see if that might be true, Henry.

what would you be looking for, specifically? cases where anomalies were excluded from the data? You would then have to eliminate all other possible reasons for excluded outlier or anomolous data from these studies.

You might be on to something, but it will take you at least a year or two to tease out any patterns.

on the other hand, real science takes time and dedication. I say, go for it! you never know…

cheers

Comment #25048

Posted by Henry J on April 14, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

Re “what would you be looking for, specifically?”

That’s the ID advocates’ problem. :)

Re “on the other hand, real science takes time and dedication.”

Guess that means the ID advocates have their work cut out for them, so they’d better put aside the polictics and start researching something. (Ha ha.)

Henry

Comment #25050

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

yup. the above should take them a couple of years or so, before they figure out there is nothing there. kinda like dembski’s mathematical “proof”.

Comment #25062

Posted by PaulP on April 15, 2005 2:02 AM (e)

What is the virtue in debating that which is self-evident and without which nothing about the mechanism of evolution will ever be disclosed. The sober realization is that Intelligent Design is the only conceivable starting point from which all progress has been and continues to be made.

“Everything is determined … by forces over which we have no control.”
Albert Einstein, Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

I am so pleased to have my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis anticipated when I was but an infant fifteen months old.

How do you like them apples?

John A. Davison

Dear John: As an Irishman (only visited the US twice so don’t confuse me with hyphenated Americans) I salute you. My culture has always admired those who can talk entertainingly but you are the best producer of hot air I have ever come across. Never before have I encountered someone who can quote Einstein so irrelevantly.
FYI Einstein was talking about the question of determinism in physical laws. This has nothing to do with the question of whether the universe was created , never mind whether any particular part of the universe was made or “just growed”.

Furthermore Einstein had no problem with the concept that a process could be “random” in a universe with determinate physical laws. Here “random” means that an individual process is unpredictable in practice, not necessarily in theory. Hence his work on what became known as Bose-Einstein statistics. The biochemical randomness involved in mutations are “random” only in this sense.

Comment #25078

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 7:13 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25079

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 7:18 AM (e)

Sorting through your double-negatives, I believe you mean to ask me whether I have a scientific conjecture about the nature of the hypothesized designer. The answer is no.

Do you have any scientific conjecture about what the hypothesized designer is hypothesized to have done?

How about a scientific conjecture about what mechanisms the hypothesized designer used to do whatever the heck you hypothesize it to have hypothetically done?

No?

Then what the hell ***does*** ID “scientific theory” have, other than (1) we think there is a designer, (2) we don’t know what it is (wink, wink), (3) we don’t know what it does, (4) we don’t know how it does it, and (5) we have no idea how to find out, but (6) we want you to teach about it anyway.

How, exactly, do you propose to teach the, uh, “scientific hypothesis” that “an unknown designer did an unknown thing at an unknown time using unknown methods” …. ? Please be as detailed as possible.

And try not to wave your arms this time.

Comment #25080

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25092

Posted by Lee Silver on April 15, 2005 8:55 AM (e)

If ID was simply religion, most people wouldn’t care about it. In the world today, there are over 10,000 different religions and that’s counting Christianity as one religion (with 33,800 sects, many of which hold beliefs that are contradictory to each other). See http://www.adherents.com/ I, for one, enjoy talking to people about their spiritual beliefs (as an amateur anthropologist) and I have traveled to 52 countries to do just this. (Pictures at my website http://24.225.233.42/biotechspirit/indexBioSpirit.html ) But evangelical Christians are not content to just hold beliefs and let others hold different beliefs. Evangelical Christians believe that they must convert everyone else in the world to their own form of Christianity, in order to maximize their own chances of getting into heaven. The New Testament predicts a battle in which Jesus’ angels fight against the Devil’s spirits (demons) in both heaven (inside the firmament – the hard canopy at the top of the blue sky) and on earth. When Jesus wins, all dead bodies get resurrected and the archangel Micheal decides who goes to heaven. If you don’t go to heaven, you get thrown into a lake of fire!!!
So even if you didn’t suffer during your first death, you will suffer in your second. When a 10 year child gets this kind of indoctrination, he is likely to be shaking in his boots to do the right thing. After my debate, I was surrounded by 10 year children who were like zoombies telling me that I was seriously mistaken – There is just one God and it is Jesus. I asked several children how they knew this, and their faces turned blank. Like zoombies, they repeated the phrase over again, “there is just one God and it is Jesus.”

ID is driven by Christian evangelicalism. I admit, not every ID person is an evangelical, but evangelicalism is its main driving force. Those people believe that they are the troops of Jesus fighting the Devil, and so, any tactic – whether it requires stealth, cheating, or lying – is justified morally. If they get you to argue science, they’ve scored a victory. If you argue religion, they get all huffy and puffy – Dembski accused me of “using the G-word,” as if that was off-bounds. Brilliant tactic on his part. Don’t succumb! The G-word, not science, is what it’s all about. THE REASON THIS MATTERS is because they want to take-over science teaching in the public schools. The best way to combat them is to pull the religious veils off their faces and expose them for who they are. If you’ve got a better tactic, I’d like to hear it.

Comment #25096

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 15, 2005 9:11 AM (e)

Evangelical Christians believe that they must convert everyone else in the world to their own form of Christianity, in order to maximize their own chances of getting into heaven. The New Testament predicts a battle in which Jesus’ angels fight against the Devil’s spirits (demons) in both heaven (inside the firmament — the hard canopy at the top of the blue sky) and on earth. When Jesus wins, all dead bodies get resurrected and the archangel Micheal decides who goes to heaven.

Are you sure it was the bible you read cover to cover. Evangelicals don’t believe their salvation depends on their ability to convert others. They do believe in what they call the Great Commision as an act of obedience. Most believe in salvation by faith alone, grace alone and not by works. I’m curious too know where you got from the bible a future endtimes fight specifically in heaven.

THE REASON THIS MATTERS is because they want to take-over science teaching in the public schools. The best way to combat them is to pull the religious veils off their faces and expose them for who they are.

And the best way to combat Darwinists is to pull the philosphical naturalism veils off their faces and expose them for who they are.

The decline in respect for science is largely due to superfluous unverifiable claims being taught as dogma in schools.

Comment #25097

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 15, 2005 9:23 AM (e)

Evolving Strawman:

The decline in respect for science is largely due to superfluous unverifiable claims being taught as dogma in schools.

You forgot to clarify: “in Sunday schools.”

Comment #25098

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 15, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

Lee,

One more thing. Debating us trolls in a public forum only feeds the fire. Ignoring us is the official policy here at Pandas Thumb. We ignorant masses shouldn’t be given an opportunity to hear a debate. The high priests of Darwinism should decide what is included in the textbooks regarding origins.

Comment #25099

Posted by Katarina on April 15, 2005 9:31 AM (e)

Evolving Apeman,

Something has always baffled me about middle-of-the road evolution deniers, so I will ask you, since you are paying attention at the moment. What is the reason that micro-evolution cannot build up to macro-evolution?

Comment #25103

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 9:48 AM (e)

Katarina: What is the reason that micro-evolution cannot build up to macro-evolution? I already pursued that question with the Apeman. Let me just save you a lot of wild-goose chasing. In the end, he admitted there is no scientific reason to believe there is any barrier between “micro-“ and “macro-“ evolution.

Comment #25104

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 15, 2005 9:49 AM (e)

Katarina,

1. No reasonable starting point for macro-evolution. Abiogenesis is simply assumed to have occured. Amazingly, scientiest can’t reproduce what occured in nature in the laboratory.

2. The changes in complexity, function, behavior that occurs with micro-evolution is fairly unimpressive compared to the claims of macro-evolution. In otherwords, how do you equate antimicrobial resistence to a bacteria evolving into a human?

3. It is a hypothesis that can’t be observed or tested in a rigorous way. It is largely defended with rhetoric and as an “anti-theory of the gaps”

4. If we believe macro-evolution as a chance driven process occured, than we should be consistent with the implication that all human behavior is amoral and simply the product of evolution. Emperically, transendence, morality, and good&evil exist. However, the acceptance of macro-evolution is based on the assumption of philophical naturalism.

Comment #25107

Posted by Katarina on April 15, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Evolving Apeman,

What do you think about the talkorigins FAQs describing instances of speciation? Doesn’t that demonstrate macroevolution?

Comment #25108

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 15, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Lee Silver wrote:

The best way to combat them is to pull the religious veils off their faces and expose them for who they are. If you’ve got a better tactic, I’d like to hear it.

Of course I have better tactics. That’s what I was saying in my first response.

The topic of debate that Dr. Silver reported was “Is ID science?” One approach is to show that the claims of ID fail as science. That’s how I approached the task I had in 2001, and that’s the approach of Why Intelligent Design Fails from Rutgers University Press. The other approach is to show that religion underlies “intelligent design”. In 2002, I gave a talk on evolution and “intelligent design” at the CSICOP Fourth World Skeptics Conference. In that one, I did show how the “intelligent design” movement was run by religious people for religious purposes. And that’s the approach of Creationism’s Trojan Horse from Oxford University Press.

But in neither case was my goal to tell the followers of ID that their own views of religion were wrong. And it is that part of Dr. Silver’s first report that strikes me as not just poor tactics, but as Lenny Flank notes, directly counter to the cause of promoting good science education. It sure wasn’t something that would separate ID advocates from their followers. It isn’t even exposing the ID movement as inherently religious, which I have used as a tactic myself (CSICOP 2002). If you want to drive a wedge between an audience of evangelical Christians and the professionals in the ID movement, you need a third approach: show that the ID advocate on stage with you has been lying to his followers. Show misquote after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error, and make the audience understand that if the ID advocate claims that the sky is blue, their next step had better be to look out the window to see for themselves. Evangelicals do want to take Christ’s message to the world, but they also have a deep loathing of liars. Of the three approaches, the last one requires the most preparation and care in delivery.

Dr. Silver’s approach, on the other hand, requires very little in the way of preparation. One does not need to acquaint oneself with the arguments of the opposition, with the history of the opposition, or even the failings of the opposition. Irrelevancy does have some benefits after all. But the downside is that simply doing forty minutes of religious nay-saying does not convince people that “intelligent design” is not science; it does not convince people that “intelligent design” is another religious form of antievolution; and it does not convince people that “intelligent design” advocates are unreliable sources of information. It does help to convince those people that the “intelligent design” advocates are right when they cast the issues in terms of atheists attempting to indoctrinate kids.

So, in summary I’d say: Please leave debating ID advocates to the professionals. Or if you are determined to do so anyway, ask for assistance before the debate.

Comment #25110

Posted by Lee Silver on April 15, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

To Evolving Apeman: THis is my last post on this site. I need to prepare for another debate on the Princeton campus on Monday with another group of religious right members who oppose embryo stem cell research. So bye-bye. Before I go, I must that I am suprised you haven’t read Revelation chapters 12 and 19.

Revelation, Chapter 12
12:7
And there was *war in heaven*: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
12:8
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
12:9
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
12:10
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12:12
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
——————————————————————————-
19:11
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
19:12
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
19:13
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
19:14
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
19:15
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
19:16
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
19:17
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
19:18
That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19:19
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
19:20
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
19:21
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Comment #25112

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

Thank you, Dr. Silver, for your contributions to this discussion. Being an inveterate FlipFlopper, I see merit to both the Elsberry and the Silver positions. On the whole, I come down tactically on the Elsberry side, philosophically on the Silver side.

Good luck with the stem cell thing.

Comment #25114

Posted by steve on April 15, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

1….Amazingly, scientiest can’t reproduce what occured in nature in the laboratory.

Scientiest? EA, are you really Wayne Francis? You’re right, though, anything which can’t easily exist in the lab, can’t exist in nature. Like sustained nuclear fusion. I guess it doesn’t exist in the sun. Good job.

Comment #25116

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 15, 2005 10:24 AM (e)

Lee Silver wrote:

The best way to combat them is to pull the religious veils off their faces and expose them for who they are. If you’ve got a better tactic, I’d like to hear it.

One other thing: demographics. Atheists are a small minority of the population of the USA. Exposing people as religious here in the USA should get you no more than a shrug in response. Any tactic that doesn’t expose the “intelligent design” advocate as being appreciably wrong has no chance of succeeding. Attacking the audience’s own religious views doesn’t accomplish that, and makes it that much less likely that they will attend to anyone in the future who might actually pick up the burden that Dr. Silver failed to shoulder.

My presentation to CSICOP 2002 can be seen at
http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/present/csicop2002b/wre_desinf_csicop_105.htm

Comment #25119

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 10:39 AM (e)

I think that it was the sentiments expressed by Elsberry and at least one other poster that kept some of us from commenting on Lee Silver’s earliest post. We’d rather not criticize Silver’s tactics, but wouldn’t praise them either.

Silver seems to think that the best tactic is to rip the religious veils off of the ID faces, when those “veils” are only made of fishnet. It’s like the OJ defense team, they knew OJ was guilty like the rest of us, but they had a legalistic deniability that allowed them to say, “Prove it”. That’s all that the religious DI presents as well, the bald-faced declaration that they are not espousing religious doctrine, no matter how little that species of dishonesty covers.

If no one listened, then well and good, they’d simply fail. But creationism/IDism is thick with denial, and just about every creationist/ID tactic dreamed up is taken over by the “faithful”. One need only read posters here, like Finley, to see how egregious the denial and word games are, and to recognize that they’re not about to be persuaded by better thinking. And these are the more educated ones, granted, with more training in obfuscation, but also the ones who really should know better. Your average creationist/ID hopefully listening to the “experts” really does not recognize the egregious tactics of the IDists, and is not going to be dissuaded by pointing to the religiosity of ID proponents. That religiosity is an advantage, not only in the eyes of many of not only the “faithful”, but also to the casually religious.

In an audience of psychologically and sociologically knowledgeable members, exposing the religious mission behind ID should be successful. In the audience portrayed in the reporting of the debate, the likely response is, “thank God real science agrees with what God wrote in his word.”

We’re generally not trying to persuade the religiously committed? Well OK, but we do have to appeal to the fence-sitters, at least, in a democracy. And taking on the (Judeo?)Christian God isn’t going to cut it, except with the academic choir. Regardless of that, Americans actually have quite a favorable attitude toward science, no matter how much pseudo-science they buy into, so that any tactic actually designed to persuade the fence-sitters is almost certainly going to highlight the proper practices of science and the results gained from scientific methods.

Every last ID poster I’ve encounted at PT fails to understand the basics of science, which is following the chain of causality (no, I’m not interested in Hume’s criticisms of causality at this point, since he, too, understood its value as interpretation in the practice of the science of his day) back to any putative “cause”. These people think that a “cause” is whatever is ultimately responsible, and not what can be shown through the chain of efficient causes to be responsible. I’d like to see them tried in court on such wretched methodolgy and hear them scream about the injustice, but until then, they’ll never understand what the rules of evidence entail.

But these are people who have learned how not to think properly, in order to maintain their prejudices. They are not the average person poorly educated in science, yet willing to learn about what constitutes proper science. Many of the average persons will watch Court TV, and notably “Forensic Files”, and may have some knowledge of proper procedure. Many who don’t will nevertheless be happy to learn. It may not be easy in a short presentation to outline how science/justice is committed appropriately, but I suspect that it can be done, and perhaps even is being done by some.

This is what I’d focus on, the universally accepted procedures used to find out who or what is responsible for a given phenomenon. Evangelicals and fundamentalists have a stake in the rules of evidence just like the rest of us, and the more open-minded among them may be persuaded to let science be taught according to the rules of evidence (as construed in science), and not insist on leaving out all of the necessary steps for determining the causes of biological phenomena. I think that this is a better tactic than taking on any purported “ultimate cause” such as God, since there is no way of using the rules of evidence to show that this being does or does not exist (although more chthonic “supernatural beings” like those found in Homer could theoretically be investigated), and it is really only this impossibility that science is interested in. We want simply to use and teach methods based in the rules of evidence (differently construed in science than in criminal forensics, but the principles are largely the same), and not to pronounce on “ultimate causes” that remain beyond scientific investigation.

Comment #25121

Posted by Grey Wolf on April 15, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

EA says:

1. No reasonable starting point for macro-evolution.  Abiogenesis is simply assumed to have occured.  Amazingly, scientiest can’t reproduce what occured in nature in the laboratory.

Which is the same as saying “No reasonable starting point for macro-history. Civilization is simply assumed to have occured. Amazingly, scientists can’t reproduce what occoured in the first city in the laboratory”. From this, he seems to imply that we must deduce that history didn’t happen? I wonder, EA, did the American Independence War happen? After all, you can’t reproduce it nor observe it.

The fastest estimate I’ve heard for Abiogenesis calculates it took thousands of years, in an oxygen-free environment and a world-wide ocean till the first protocells could be said to have evolved from chemicals. I wonder, will *you* provide me with the money and the space to repeat such experiment? Maybe afterwards, you can also provide me with the funding to repeat the Big Bang.

2. The changes in complexity, function, behavior that occurs with micro-evolution is fairly unimpressive compared to the claims of macro-evolution.  In otherwords, how do you equate antimicrobial resistence to a bacteria evolving into a human?

Because you haven’t provided any proof beyond “I can’t believe it” (i.e. argument from incredulity) to make us think otherwise. There is this amazing “fish” in the ocean which is actually a colony of independent single cells. Some specialise and they form a “whole” but they’re still independent entities. I’ve always liked it as the perfect “intermediate” between multi-celled creatures and single-celled.

Oh, and the fact that you just said “a bacteria evolving into a human” has just marked you as an uneducated fanatic who doesn’t bother to learn the arguments he thinks he’s trying to demolish. Go back to school, learn what evolution really says, and then come back, troll.

3. It is a hypothesis that can’t be observed or tested in a rigorous way.  It is largely defended with rhetoric and as an “anti-theory of the gaps”

Funny, I’ve always thought that’s what ID is. Certainly, I’ve yet to see tests for it. Or observations. After all, the only article published about it assumes macroevolution, since it posits evolution since the cretacic period. Tell me, if ID is so much better science than evolution, where have you observed the designer creating creatures? Or do you hold evolution to a level to which you won’t hold ID?

This is generally true. Every single troll so far claims this kind of thing about evolution - impossible to observe, etc. I wonder why they don’t extend the same courtesy to ID. After all, I haven’t heard of anyone witnessing spontaneous creation like ID implies. Tell me, EA, if I change those statements you gave us to say “ID” instead of “macroevolution”, will you be able to answer them?

And of course, the most basic proof of macroevolution is the fact that 3 million years ago there were only single-celled creatures, and life has gotten more and more complex till we got to our days. The fossil evidence is so overwhelming, particularly in the absense of spontaneous creation, that evolution (including macroevolution) is the only explanaition possible.

4. If we believe macro-evolution as a chance driven process occured, than we should be consistent with the implication that all human behavior is amoral and simply the product of evolution.  Emperically, transendence, morality, and good&evil exist.  However, the acceptance of macro-evolution is based on the assumption of philophical naturalism.

It’s lucky, then, that we don’t believe that evolution is a chance-driven process. You’re showing your lack of knowledge on the subject again. Evolution is driven by natural selection processes, which is far from what you have said.

Oh, and please give me the empirical proof for trascendence you think you have. I’ll be very interested in seeing it. Until you do, I am calling you a liar. You are *lying* i.e. *saying something that is not true* when you say trascendence is empirically proven.

But nevermind, because morality can arise naturally, as has been described in several articles, and furthermore, it can arise “religiously” through revelation as many religions believe, without needing to have a God steering evolution.

But really, my answers are irrelevant, because you have been shown to be a troll with no real knowledge of what evolution really says, and with some very objectionable statements about the nature of facts, and most importantly, you have shown to hold evolution to standards you don’t dare hold ID to. From here on, your conduct is predictable to a very high degree of certainty.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #25122

Posted by Lee Silver on April 15, 2005 10:44 AM (e)

“Please leave debating ID advocates to the professionals. Or if you are determined to do so anyway, ask for assistance before the debate.”

This is a really obnoxious comment. I am be wrong, but I suspect that I have studied and written about religious beliefs, of people from around the world, to a much greater extent than you have. (I have a book coming out on the topic.) You and I are simply coming at this issue from different directions. Christian evangelicals are rather unique among all the people I’ve talked to in their absolutism concerning a literal interpretation of the Bible. American evangelical LEADERS are also unique because they are dishonest about their goals (unlike Muslim or Hindu or Jewish fundamentalists in other countries). This is why it is so important to unveil evangelical leaders. If they admitted that their beliefs were based on faith – end of debate.

“ If you want to drive a wedge between an audience of evangelical Christians and the professionals in the ID movement …”

I think you are deluding yourself to think that such a wedge could ever be driven between evangelicals and their ID priests, with the use of any argument. If you have evidence that you’ve ever been successful at doing this, I’d like to hear it. But that’s not the goal, or at least it’s not my goal as one who is involved in science policy. The goal is to make sure that level-headed policymakers (a rare commidity in the current adminstrator) understand that ID is faith-based and not science. Policymakers in previous adminstrations were not raving atheists, they were mostly middle-of-the-road Americans in terms of religious beliefs. But they understood that creationism is not science. Also, the only people enraged by my talk were Protestant fundamentalists. How do I know this? I post here the full and complete email note that I got from the moderator Russ Nieli, a person who is quite open about his Catholicism. Interpret it as you want. This really is my last post.

Lee,
Thursday’s debate was a great event all around. I think that you and
Dembski engaged the audience to a degree that is unsuual here at Princeton.
I can’t remember the last time at Princeton that substantial portions of the
listeners stayed for the better part of an hour after the discussion to
engage, dispute, support, question, and agree with the invited speakers as
they did with you and Dembski. It was great that both of you stayed so long
and were so patient with your questioners.

As I was walking the two ISI representatives out to their car, they seemed
extraordinarily pleased with the entire night’s performance.

I perhaps benefited the most (I still believe that in our overall picture of
reality we must take account of both a natural selection principle and a
higher order telos, but I am not sure how these two principles relate to the
emergence of life from non-life).

On behalf of all involved, let me say “many thanks”.

Best,
Russ Nieli

Comment #25123

Posted by Evolving Apeman on April 15, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25125

Posted by Jack Krebs on April 15, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

How about a whole world of varied environments for millions of years? That would be pretty hard to duplicate in a lab, I think.

Comment #25127

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 10:54 AM (e)

As I was walking the two ISI representatives out to their car, they seemed
extraordinarily pleased with the entire night’s performance.

Given what we know about ISI, I’m afraid I have to take this as a bad sign.

Comment #25129

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 15, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Lee Silver wrote:

“Please leave debating ID advocates to the professionals. Or if you are determined to do so anyway, ask for assistance before the debate.”

This is a really obnoxious comment. I am be wrong, but I suspect that I have studied and written about religious beliefs, of people from around the world, to a much greater extent than you have. (I have a book coming out on the topic.)

Dr. Silver: I certainly would not claim anywhere near your expertise concerning religious belief in general. On the other hand, I suspect that I have studied and written about “intelligent design” in particular to a much greater extent than you have. You asked about better tactics, and I gave you three of them. You’ve taken issue only with the last one. No, I haven’t applied that one myself. However, I have been in the audience and seen it applied successfully. This was long before “intelligent design” was around and when I was part of evangelical congregations myself.

I have to admit that I was being obnoxious with my parting shot. I have only the weak excuse of being rather offended by your opening shot. There’s still some lessons to be had, probably in both directions. But that won’t come out unless we do have some discussion.

Lee Silver wrote:

Also, the only people enraged by my talk were Protestant fundamentalists. How do I know this? I post here the full and complete email note that I got from the moderator Russ Nieli, a person who is quite open about his Catholicism. Interpret it as you want. This really is my last post.

Bill Dembski got a similar email from Nieli, and had his own conclusion to draw from it:

William Dembski wrote:

Russ Nieli, who moderated the debate and has taught at Princeton since the 80s, didn’t think the debate was stacked. Here is what he wrote to me in a email:

What I find fascinating is that neither Silver nor Dembski are justified in drawing the conclusions that they do from the presented item of evidence. Nieli didn’t address the issue of “stacking” that Dembski refers to. Nieli didn’t poll the audience afterward to assure that no non-“Protestant fundamentalists” were offended; he merely gave evidence of his own state following the talk. Whatever happened to avoiding non sequiturs?

Comment #25130

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Finley

yes I believe that it is impossible to make “reasonable” (i.e., supported by rational argument that does not use revealed truths as premises) conjectures about the nature of the designer.

Okay Finley. That’s an … interesting position, to say the least. Would you care to justify that, uh, rather unusual position?

Please consider in your answer whether it is reasonable to assume that the designer of all the life forms on earth was not a blue jay.

Comment #25137

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 11:32 AM (e)

The Tireless Blowhard wrote:

Your pseudo-philosophical BS bores the crap out of me….

Just as Russell’s theory of types would “bore the crap” out of an 4th-grader.

It’s probably a waste of time, but let me spell it out for you in the simplest way I can.

The “scientific method” [said in a hushed, reverent tone] calls for making a hypothesis, deducing predictions (i.e., observation statements) from that hypothesis, and testing the hypothesis by verifying the predictions.

In my “sermon,” as you call it, at http://www3.baylor.edu/IFL/index.htm, I do just that. I’ll reproduce the argument here in brief.

A stage setting example: In the U.S. approximately 90% of blacks vote Democratic. Therefore, if I meet an American black voter, and all that I know about him is that he’s an American black person and that he’s a voter. I can reasonably predict that he votes Democratic, i.e., it is probable that he votes Democratic.

The operative principle can be generalized as follows: If a majority of a group has a particular property, then a randomly chosen member of that group probably has that property, and the strength of the probability is proportional to the size of the majority.

Applying that principle to the group “intelligent designers” and the property “produces products similar to each other,” we get the following: If a majority of intelligent designers produces products similar to each other, then a randomly chosen member of that group probably produces products similar to each other.

Now to the scientific method [again, hushed reverence] part. Hypothesis: an intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth. Prediction deduced from hypothesis via above principle: every organism on this planet is basically similar to each other. It then becomes a matter of empirical verification of the prediction.

There are other things to add, but this post is already too long, and I’m sure I’ll have a chance to revise and extend in the Q&A session.

Comment #25141

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 11:47 AM (e)

Dr Silver,

I have to say that I tend to agree with you on the connection between ID, God and religion. While it is true that evolution or science cannot disprove God’s existence, nor does it try to, or want to, we are not really dealing with God versus non-God. We are dealing with religion. Science does fly in the face of many fundamental religious concepts which, to many believers, define God. It is, therefore, not possible in most cases to separate doctrine and dogma from God. The IDers do it largely as a ruse and the theist evolutionists may try to pull the same trick.

Now, as a political strategy Dr Elsberry’s may very well be the best but I’d hate to see scientists argue for a single hard and fast strategy for dealing with ID. Certainly, it is almost ludicrous to argue that there is a “professional” way to deal with ID, best handled by professionals, and that other attempts by “nonprofessionals” should be avoided. As far as I know academic freedom still exists, although I’m not certain it’s still a free country.

Here’s an example; one reason why Democrats often fare less well than Republicans is that Democrats tend to be much more educated, open minded and non-conformist. (JAD - how do you like them apples?). Should Democrats try to emulate the Republicans by insisiting on conformance to certain talking points etc?

Similarly, any and all legitimate ways of doing battle with fake science are welcome. Sure, we can criticize tactics but it’s unhelpful to try to argue that only one set of tactics are acceptable or professional. There is a remarkable tendency for one to become like one’s enemy.

Comment #25143

Posted by GCT on April 15, 2005 11:49 AM (e)

Finley, please state your hypothesis in the form of a falsifiable statement.

Further, your idea is erroneous. What is entailed in your group “intelligent designers”? The only intelligent designers you know of are humans. To extent human preference for making similar design (and that’s not even proven) to non-humans is not a good practice. It would be like using your voting example and then expanding from African American men to all Americans. I think you can tell how your prediction would come out in that case.

Comment #25148

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

Dr Elsberry,
You said;

you need a third approach: show that the ID advocate on stage with you has been lying to his followers. Show misquote after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error, and make the audience understand that if the ID advocate claims that the sky is blue, their next step had better be to look out the window to see for themselves. Evangelicals do want to take Christ’s message to the world, but they also have a deep loathing of liars. Of the three approaches, the last one requires the most preparation and care in delivery.

While this is admirable and effective in some cases, it is, unfortunately not the whole story. Maybe it isn’t even the most important part. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a large number of strange beliefs which change over time. For example, blood transfusions used to be totally banned - now they are allowed in certain cases (although not called blood transfusions). They used to teach that the generation that was alive in 1914 would see the end of the world. Now they don’t teach that. They used to teach that a creative day was exactly 7000 years long. Now they don’t teach that since it was used to essentially predict the end of teh world in 1975. They teach that the UN is the wild beast of Revelation and yet a couple of years ago they were publicly exposed as being signed up as a UN NGO. JWs simply refused to believe that this was true despite publication of actual UN documents. The list goes on.

So, you can do all the research in the world, produce actual documented examples of lies, distortions etc in their own literature and yet, usually, you will fail to convert a committed JW.

It’s the same mindset with ID. What is first needed to convince a JW that their religion is not the only “Truth” is to create a sense of doubt that their leaders, and they alone, speak for God. It’s a bit like using the right “frame.”

When dealing with education issues then it is important to have all the facts. But most people who support ID are ignorant of the scintific method to start with and, in any case, no amount of meticulous arguing will convince them otherwise. That’s why Silver’s approach is useful. It’s not the only approach and may not be the best approach. But it sets out to sow seeds of doubts by using simple examples that most people can appreciate.

Now, whether his approach in a debate called “Is Id Science” was the best is itself debatable. But, in all honesty, how many IDers will be convinced that Dembski’s scholarly looking mathematical “proofs” are actually vacuous after a debate in which meticulous arguments and Popperian defintions are used? Even at PT we have no success hardly convincing people like Apeman And M Finely despite extended debates.

It’s a messy problem and there is no “right” way to approach it.

Comment #25153

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 12:34 PM (e)

GCT wrote:

Finley, please state your hypothesis in the form of a falsifiable statement.

That’s not how the game works. Consdier Einstein’s hypothesis that dense bodies warp space. The hypothesis is not directly verifiable. Rather, predictions must be deduced from the hypothesis, e.g., that a star behind the Sun will appear to be in two different places; and these predictions are directly verifiable. If the prediction turns out to be false, the hypothesis is false.

My deduced prediction from the hypothesis of a common designer is that the organisms on planet Earth will be basically similar to each other. That prediction can be directly verified.

What is entailed in your group “intelligent designers”? The only intelligent designers you know of are humans. To extent human preference for making similar design (and that’s not even proven) to non-humans is not a good practice.

Well, I assume you know what the words “intelligent” and “designer” mean. Put them together and you know what I mean by “intelligent designer.”

The fact that the only known intelligent designers are human is irrelevant. Predicates do not have different meanings (i.e., are not equivocal) just because they are predicated of different subjects. For example, does the predicate “bipedal” change meanings if we predicate it of an unknown, non-human subject? Of course not. Why then do you suppose that the predicates “intelligent” and “designer” change meanings?

Comment #25155

Posted by GCT on April 15, 2005 12:43 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

The fact that the only known intelligent designers are human is irrelevant.

No, it is not. If the only Americans you knew were African American men, do you think you would be justified in expanding your voting example to all Americans?

Finley wrote:

My deduced prediction from the hypothesis of a common designer is that the organisms on planet Earth will be basically similar to each other. That prediction can be directly verified.

Then, verify it. I predict that a designer that made all the diversity of life on this planet would not make life that is so aesthetically dissimilar. I mean, I am bipedal, but fish have no legs at all. So, for starters you have to define what you mean by similar. Of course, it is all moot because you can not impute anything onto a designer of which you know nothing about.

Comment #25157

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

My deduced prediction from the hypothesis of a common designer is that the organisms on planet Earth will be basically similar to each other. That prediction can be directly verified.

One difficulty with this is that it isn’t a prediction. Until recently it wasn’t clear that all life was similar on a molecular level. Common observation suggests to a vast diversity of life forms. So, why does an intelligent designer hypothesis point to similarity at the molecular level yet vast diversity at the organism level? You can’t have it both ways.

This is simply an example of special pleading.

Comment #25158

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

Finley, comment 25130 awaits an answer.

Why are you running away and engaging in silly discussions about “predicates” and “subjects”?

You’ve got some serious explaining to do. Stop blowing smoke.

Comment #25159

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

Mr Finley,

http://www.ramdac.org/fallacies.php

Comment #25164

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

If you want honest literary philosophy, look to de Saussure. Quine will also do, but Saussure is better at recognizing that words change with context all of the time, predicate or not.

Finley sounds like Kripke or some other such circular “thinker”, operating off of the wholly unwarranted assumption that words mean the same thing no matter what. Science cannot be and is not done with such simplistic thinking.

This is the unbridgeable divide between science and good philosophy on the one hand, and the gibberish that metaphysicians get rewarded for saying, on the other hand. You can’t get those committed to circular linguistic reasoning to think outside of their narrow realm. And it is partly this that keeps bad “science” like ID going, the blinkered tautologies of wretched philosophies. Of course Finley has his affirmation that this is good thinking from those “in authority”, and so the fallacious reasoning has yet another circle of certainty in it.

You’re not going to convince Finley, because he can’t think like a scientist or an open-minded philosopher. In metaphysical “philosophy” it really only makes sense that intelligence makes intelligence, and thus the answer already resides in the question. Where does intelligence come from? Why, from intelligence, and there is no questioning of what actually is meant by “intelligence”. All avenues for discovering anything, except their closed little world, are cut off.

So you may as well ignore such dead-ends and those for whom closed mindedness is “truth”, unless you just like arguing with the latter. Nothing gets through to them except what they already “know”.

Comment #25168

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

The fact that the only known intelligent designers are human is irrelevant. Predicates do not have different meanings (i.e., are not equivocal) just because they are predicated of different subjects. For example, does the predicate “bipedal” change meanings if we predicate it of an unknown, non-human subject? Of course not. Why then do you suppose that the predicates “intelligent” and “designer” change meanings?

Without knowing all the technical mumbo-jumbositude about properties of predicates, I can tell this is the truly silly thing about this argument. Imagine you’re a dark-matter being, who knows nothing about terrestrial life forms. The first dark-matter being intergalactic explorer brings back a sample of one species of bacteria (all she had time to collect before her dark-matter equivalent of oxygen ran out). What can the dark-matter beings deduce about the nature of cyclotrons, high-definition television, and Britney Spears CDs (creations of carbon-based life forms) from the properties of that bacterial sample?

Comment #25169

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

Bob King

Here’s an example; one reason why Democrats often fare less well than Republicans is that Democrats tend to be much more educated, open minded and non-conformist. Should Democrats try to emulate the Republicans by insisiting on conformance to certain talking points etc?

Sigh.

Bob, Bob, Bob … it’s hard to know where to begin.

Substitute “less disciplined” and (in many cases, if you pay attention to the lazy “liberal” pundits on TV –“less informed”) for “more educated, open minded and non-conformist” and you’ll be on the right track.

The answer to your last question is, generally speaking, FxCK YES. That said, I am not certainly suggesting that we should do what the Dislaimery Institute and its charlatans do: recite the same lies over and over. Unlike the ID peddlers, we don’t need to lie. We merely need to tell the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly.

There are certain key points that are undoubtedly worth hammering over and over and over and over and over because the ID peddlers have demonstrated an inability to respond to them without egregious and blatant dissembling.

Unfortunately, Dr. Silvers “arguments” that “God didn’t create corn” and “bananas don’t have seeds” are not included among those key points, for good reason.

You’ll note that Dembski doesn’t dare attempt to argue with Flank or steve or yours truly about his sad pathetic “theory” and its appropriateness in for public school science classrooms. He will end up knocked on his ass immediately and he will never be able to get up for the simple reason that we wouldn’t let him get up.

Remember how that neurologist destroyed Joe Scarborough on TV? That is just a tiny tiny taste of what Dembski or any of the other Dislaimery Institute mountebanks will get when the surprising moment arrives and they face me on the public airwaves. I look forward to it.

Comment #25178

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

GWW,

The New Labour party in the UK has done an excellent job of getting organized along the lines you imply. In the process it has abandoned much of what it stood for. Not that one implies the other but once you insist - as Dr Elsberry seems to be insisting - that there exists only a single strategy then there is a tendency to sacrifice what is actually one’s core principles. For him to suggest that Silver “get help” next time he wants to debate is one of the more amazing things I’ve read on this board.

We merely need to tell the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly.

On what evidence do you base this assertion? It doesn’t work. Lakoff argues basically that this approach is ineffective and I provided examples up the thread a bit.

Unfortunately, Dr. Silvers “arguments” that “God didn’t create corn” and “bananas don’t have seeds” are not included among those key points, for good reason.

Who gets to decide what are the “key points?” Actually these supposedly absurd key points (And some of his others) are quite valuable in talking with non scientists. After all, there’s no longer any point trying to prove to Dembski himself that’s he’s wrong. Also, it’s almost impossible to demonstrate to a non mathematical ID lay person that Dembski is wrong. Mark Perkah’s book is excellent but few people in the population at large would be able to follow it. Simple examples have their time and place. For example, do you have any actual experience in dealing with people who are part of a cult? IDers manifest a very similar frame of mind and similar techniques may be useful.

The fact that Silver got asked why he hates God shows that he struck a nerve, which is good. Should all ID debates be conducted along this lines? No. Should Silver be criticized for his approach? Sure. Should he be told that professionals exist and he should leave the job to them? That’s nonsense.

Remember how that neurologist destroyed Joe Scarborough on TV?

Yargument isn’t that compelling. There is a big element of preaching to the choir involved in all of this. Sure, you can devastate Dembski in public but how many people will conclude that he was devasted? How many people who already took one side of the Schiavo issue actually changed their minds absed on this interview?

Why does politics exist if simply telling the truth and providing actual evidence weer enough to convince people one way or the other? I could make an excellent case that the tradional Christian God cannot exist. At least excellent to me. On a lighet not I’d really suggest that you rent the British series “Yes Prime Minister.”

My overall point is that once we develop closed minds then our case is lost, no matter how useful closed minds are in rallying the troops to whatever is our cause.

GWW, don’t get me wrong; I’m not arguing against what you are suggesting as useful strategies. But in itself against the notion that there is only a single approach that is viable or useful seems odd on a board filled with scientists and thinkers. IMHO multiple approaches are needed. I agree that Silver’s was perhaps not the best given the title of the Debate and the setting - although apparently, even though it was Princeton, few scientists showed up.

Comment #25182

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

Glen Davidson,

If the dispute is over the concept of meaning, etc., then any adequate evaluation of my argument will require a good deal of the philosophy of language.

I must confess that I’m not too familiar with de Saussure, but I am willing to give him a look. Quine’s behaviorist theory of meaning is so passe; it’s gone the way of behaviorism generally, i.e., down. I think your quick dismissal of Kripke’s notion of rigid designation is not worthy of you. This topic wants a long discussion, and there are few on this board that could follow it. But I’m game if you are.

Only recognize that, given a certain philosophical position, my argument holds. And your proposed critic is a philosophical critic. Therefore, the forum has been moved from “science” proper to the philosophy of language.

Comment #25183

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 2:22 PM (e)

Make that “critique.”

Comment #25185

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 2:36 PM (e)

Bob

Not that one implies the other but once you insist - as Dr Elsberry seems to be insisting - that there exists only a single strategy then there is a tendency to sacrifice what is actually one’s core principles.

No, I don’t insist that. If someone’s “core principle” is “non-conformist” than they are going to have a rough row to hoe if they seek allies in politics. Likewise, if someone feels that their “freedom” is threatened when they assist others by effectively amplifying a particular message, that someone should at least avoid making statements that serve the opponent (assuming they agree with the ultimate goal).

Lakoff argues basically that [telling the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly] is ineffective

Please show me where Lakoff “basically” makes the argument you described.

Also, I’d be interested in hearing your understanding of how the Disclaimery Institute has chosen to “frame” the debate about “intelligent design” and where I or Wesley have adopted that frame or suggested adopting that frame as a means of responding to the Disclaimery Institute. Then compare the Disclaimery Institute’s chosen frame with Dr. Silver’s actions.

Also, it’s almost impossible to demonstrate to a non mathematical ID lay person that Dembski is wrong.

I agree, of course, and have said so hundreds of times on this blog.

The fact that Silver got asked why he hates God shows that he struck a nerve, which is good.

No, it’s not good, certainly not necessarily good.

My overall point is that once we develop closed minds then our case is lost

Yeah, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell Silver.

Sure, you can devastate Dembski in public but how many people will conclude that he was devasted?

On a prime time broadcast? Millions, at least. And then you repeat the performance with every one of the charlatans. That’s one of my freaking fantasies. Of course, it’d be more useful to go head to head with Condi Rice than Dembski, but why not start with the low-hanging fruit?

IMHO multiple approaches are needed.

Again, I agree wholeheartedly. This blog is itself one of those approaches because it allows us to have this discussion in a public forum.

I could make an excellent case that the tradional Christian God cannot exist. At least excellent to me.

My opinion is that, in the context of this discussion, this is a poor example to pick out of the hat to illustrate your point that politics isn’t simply about “simply telling the truth and providing actual evidence.”

Comment #25186

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

Finley, comment 25130 awaits an answer.

Cat got your tongue?

It’s a straightforward question.

Perhaps the time has come to admit defeat, Finley. Does the term “defeat” have “meaning” to you? What about “coward”?

For the record, I don’t hold grudges against trolls who take us for a bogus ride and then admit they are full of crap. So you needn’t feel ashamed.

Comment #25187

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 15, 2005 2:47 PM (e)

What is the virtue in debating that which is self-evident and without which nothing about the mechanism of evolution will ever be disclosed. The sober realization is that Intelligent Design is the only conceivable starting point from which all progress has been and continues to be made.

“Everything is determined … by forces over which we have no control.”
Albert Einstein, Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

I am so pleased to have my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis anticipated when I was but an infant fifteen months old.

How do you like them apples?

John A. Davison

Dear John: As an Irishman (only visited the US twice so don’t confuse me with hyphenated Americans) I salute you. My culture has always admired those who can talk entertainingly but you are the best producer of hot air I have ever come across. Never before have I encountered someone who can quote Einstein so irrelevantly.
FYI Einstein was talking about the question of determinism in physical laws. This has nothing to do with the question of whether the universe was created , never mind whether any particular part of the universe was made or “just growed”.

Furthermore Einstein had no problem with the concept that a process could be “random” in a universe with determinate physical laws. Here “random” means that an individual process is unpredictable in practice, not necessarily in theory. Hence his work on what became known as Bose-Einstein statistics. The biochemical randomness involved in mutations are “random” only in this sense.

Not to mention Einstein’s work on random walks and Brownian motion.

Davison should retire and let somebody who hasn’t relieved themselves of the burden of independent thought get a job.

Comment #25191

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

GWW,

(me) Lakoff argues basically that [telling the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly] is ineffective

(GWW) Please show me where Lakoff “basically” makes the argument you described.

Here is a specific example from this interview;

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff_p2.shtml

Also, within traditional liberalism you have a history of rational thought that was born out of the Enlightenment: all meanings should be literal, and everything should follow logically. So if you just tell people the facts, that should be enough — the truth shall set you free. All people are fully rational, so if you tell them the truth, they should reach the right conclusions. That, of course, has been a disaster.

What did you make of my examples up the thread a bit by the way?

(me) The fact that Silver got asked why he hates God shows that he struck a nerve, which is good.

(GWW) No, it’s not good, certainly not necessarily good.

Ok, I agree it’s not necessarily good. What I found interesting is the nerve it struck apparently in Wesley (I assume that this is what offended him, the perceived attack on God). Hitting nerves is, in my opinion, what gets people to think. Or, at least, it may be the first step in getting people to think. It seems to me that ID is part of a huge concerted effort by evangelical Christians as shown here;

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/15/151622/276

While we have to attack ID with facts we also have to attack the incorrect religious notions of those who promote it. If that means showing that their reading of the Bible of their concept of God is wrong then so what? Are we too squeamish or politically correct? Or does doing so jar our own beliefs?

My opinion is that, in the context of this discussion, this is a poor example to pick out of the hat to illustrate your point that politics isn’t simply about “simply telling the truth and providing actual evidence.”

Well, politics cannot be simply about truth and evidence can it? As your statement here seem to to be admitting. Since there is no actualevidence for against God’s existence and since, for many, politics is largely motivated by faith - belief in God - then how on earth can politics be about “simply telling the truth and providing actual evidence.”

Also, as I noted, I provided actual examples higher up as to how facts may not change minds. Truth and evidence are always necessary but not always sufficient conditions to convince someone of a legitimate position.

Comment #25194

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

Also, I’d be interested in hearing your understanding of how the Disclaimery Institute has chosen to “frame” the debate about “intelligent design” and where I or Wesley have adopted that frame or suggested adopting that frame as a means of responding to the Disclaimery Institute. Then compare the Disclaimery Institute’s chosen frame with Dr. Silver’s actions.

I am neither arguing for nor against any particular approach or “frame.” Just against the notion that it’s Dr. Elsberry’s way or the highway. Silver can be criticized for his approach but it is stepping over the line to censure him for being so bold as to hold a debate with Dembski without seeking permission and/or advice from the pros from Dover.

Comment #25197

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

Bob

Lakoff is not making the argument that you claimed he was making. You need to look carefully at what I wrote with attention to the placement of the word “simply”.

Also, note that I did not specificy the particular “truths” that are worth repeating simply, forcefully and effectively. Do not assume that I meant that scientific facts. Again, please refer to the Rev. Dr. Flanks many simple, forceful and effective comments in this regard.

While we have to attack ID with facts we also have to attack the incorrect religious notions of those who promote it. If that means showing that their reading of the Bible of their concept of God is wrong then so what?

Okay, Bob. According to you, we “have to attack the incorrect religious notions” of Bill Dembski. Thus far, you have provided zilcho evidence to support that claim – ZILCHO.

Next you propose showing that Bill Dembski’s “concept of God is wrong.”

Okay. Fine. You set the table. Now fill my plate.

I want to know (1) why it is necessary to attack the incorrect religious notions” of Bill Dembski if we want to keep his bogus theory out of public schools and (2) how we show that Bill Dembski’s “concept of God is wrong.”

Bear in my mind I understand that we are on the “same side” more or less. I am just interested in seeing how straight this rifle of yours can shoot.

Comment #25198

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

Look at any dictionary and you’ll see that Kripke’s rigid designations fit nothing encountered in language. If we start with empiricism, we can dismiss Kripke out of hand–as well as the notion that predication doesn’t change with the subject. A word like “induction” means nothing like the same thing in the physics of electricity and in biological signaling pathways.

Quine’s discussions (at least the later ones) of language in science remain adequate. I don’t know about any behavioristic phase of his, but he has written pieces cognizant of the context of meaning in science. I did disagree with him to an extent over his sense that science is a field being subtly altered by myriad facts, when a few facts in science can cause radical changes (more in the past than at present, it seems). I included Quine, though, primarily because he’s on the analytic side, so that I wouldn’t be pointing only at the continental side that I prefer and know rather better.

The great thing about Saussure is that he recognizes that the signified has an impact on the signifier, even if his two-sided sign doesn’t seem to me to be a very good analogy for it. Derrida seemed not to think so either, but mistakenly threw away the signified. Or more accurately, he said that the signified is already in the place of the signified.

Nietzsche completes Saussure, or vice versa. Actually, Nietzsche could probably be said to anticipate most of what Saussure said, but the latter thinker was needed to flesh out a good mechanical analogy for language–which actually remains a good deal more fluid than Saussure supposed. Nietzsche knew the fluidity of language well, but didn’t come up with the proper teaching model for his view (he also didn’t come up with the two-sided sign that Saussure did, either, which is good IMO). Nietzsche exceeded Saussure most of all in noting the psychological aspects of signage.

Be that as it may, I don’t come to this forum to discuss linguistics any more than I have to. I brought up Saussure because he probably has the best combination of accessibility and a fairly good concept of language, and Quine because I couldn’t think of a better analytic philosopher right off. Searle won’t do, nor Austin. Ayer probably isn’t that bad, but I’ve been more impressed with what I’ve read of Quine. Bakhtin has a good dialogical conception of language, however he’s hardly on the map in the US.

The fact of the matter is that few here need a course or a debate about language and the philosophy of language. If they don’t know linguistic theory, they nevertheless do just fine. It’s only when metaphysical philosophers come in to muddy the waters using their authorities and incorrect notions about predication, that I feel the need to put in some comments about philosophy and language.

What you appear not to know is that scientists often have to agree on a definition in an area that they are studying. The predicate changes from subject to subject, from situation to situation. “Intelligent” and “designer” do not mean any one thing, so that when AI is being discussed, for instance, there has to be a definition of “intelligence” agreed upon by the various participants in the AI community. “Intelligence” changes meaning whether we’re talking about “animal intelligence” or “human intelligence”, and it is generally recognized that such meanings can’t even be fixed very well by convention, let alone by “rigid designation”.

If one reads scientific papers one not uncommonly comes across a specific definition set for a scientific term in that paper, so that meaning can be clear in that paper. That’s just the way that language is. This really isn’t up for debate any more than ID is, because we insist on using “natural language” and will not credit impositions from metaphysics placed upon use.

No, I’m not interested in debating language any more than I have to, let alone crediting metaphysical beliefs about language for any kind of debate. The problem is that we point to use (well, I brought in some names of sources, since others were pointing to use), and you want to debate philosophy. I don’t want to debate philosophical ideas of language, I only want to do philosophy with language as it is used by actual humans, including scientists.

There is no reason to get mired in obviously incorrect theories of language. What scientists and some philosophers want to do is to find reasonable models of language and to move on from there, and not to begin at all with ancient ideas about meaning and language which have proven not to be useful. IDists and metaphysicians insist on the priority of their received ideas, and we’d be intellectually dishonest even to give those received ideas any more credit than it takes to knock them down in, say, a philosophy class.

The fact of the matter is that you cannot convince people used to dealing with scientific language that “intelligence” has only one set of unequivocal predicates. Even if they don’t know exactly what is being said there, they know that “intelligence” has a whole range of meanings, as does “designer”, and that “designer” means nothing unless it can actually be shown to have predicates, or alternatively, if predicates are assigned to “designer”.

This is where it stands: either we start out recognizing that words do not have unchanging unequivocal meanings, and then do science and proper linguistic philosophy, or we begin with unsound assumptions like we find in Kripke’s writings, and come up with a lot of well-reasoned deductions from our faulty premise(s). The two beginnings are not compatible and not comparable.

Like ID and actual science, there is nothing of consequence to debate, rather the empirical side simply has to point out how unwarranted the metaphysical position is. Those who use metaphysical assumptions to understand the world rarely make the leap to understanding in a more fluid and adaptive manner, at least after their schooling is done. And because they think that words have single sets of predicates they also think that the world must be constructed through rigid designation in order to justify their worldviews. The interplay of words, meaning, and contexts in a fluid and fluctual manner does not occur to many people, and for much the same reason they cannot understand the codes and “meanings” of the genome to also be in flux.

Comment #25200

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

Great White Wonder wrote:

Finley, comment 25130 awaits an answer.

I don’t have a cat, buy you always seem to have a numberd comment “awaiting my answer.” I answer them and you move on to the next question, never bothering to make a point, suggest a general direction of enquiry, or make any sense whatsoever.

Until you do so, I am not inclined to keep up the exercise. Make a point, and I’ll respond to it.

Comment #25206

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

I included Quine, though, primarily because he’s on the analytic side, so that I wouldn’t be pointing only at the continental side that I prefer and know rather better.

Our approaches to the subject are separated by various bodies of water. I know and prefer the Brits (including Wittgenstein by association) and their descendents. Primarily, I do work on Wittgenstein and Quine, though I much prefer the former.

Look at any dictionary and you’ll see that Kripke’s rigid designations fit nothing encountered in language. If we start with empiricism, we can dismiss Kripke out of hand—as well as the notion that predication doesn’t change with the subject.

Believe it or not, I am not a fan of Kripke’s rigid designations, though I thought you were too short with them. I prefer the definite description approach of Russell and Wittgenstein. And I take my claim that the meaning of predicates doesn’t change from subject to subject (I explain this more below) to be independent of Kripke’s position.

Quine’s discussions (at least the later ones) of language in science remain adequate. I don’t know about any behavioristic phase of his, but he has written pieces cognizant of the context of meaning in science. I did disagree with him to an extent over his sense that science is a field being subtly altered by myriad facts, when a few facts in science can cause radical changes (more in the past than at present, it seems).

Quine’s fullest expression of behaviorism is given in Word and Object, but remains a dominant theme throughout his writings. I share your concerns about his holism, not to mention his definition of ontological commitment, and rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction. As well respected as he is in the U.S., it is my opinion that his philosophical views are deeply flawed.

The fact of the matter is that few here need a course or a debate about language and the philosophy of language. If they don’t know linguistic theory, they nevertheless do just fine. It’s only when metaphysical philosophers come in to muddy the waters using their authorities and incorrect notions about predication, that I feel the need to put in some comments about philosophy and language.

This is what I don’t get. In presenting my argument, I readily admit that a particular philosophical position on meaning is required. To challenge that position, you must also engage in philosophy, i.e., we have a philosophical disagreement over the proper approach to language. Which is to say, you have a rival philosophical position, a rival metaphysical position. You have you’re “authorities” and I have mine (though neither of us is making an argument from authority; we are both prepared to visit the arguments). It seems to me that you disparage metaphysics while at the same time engaging in it.

“Intelligent” and “designer” do not mean any one thing, so that when AI is being discussed, for instance, there has to be a definition of “intelligence” agreed upon by the various participants in the AI community. “Intelligence” changes meaning whether we’re talking about “animal intelligence” or “human intelligence”, and it is generally recognized that such meanings can’t even be fixed very well by convention, let alone by “rigid designation”.

I know a lot of functionalists in the AI field that would disagree with these statements. Which is to say, there are not obvious answers to these issues; they require philsophical enquiry, and there will be legitimate disagreements among very smart people.

No, I’m not interested in debating language any more than I have to, let alone crediting metaphysical beliefs about language for any kind of debate. The problem is that we point to use (well, I brought in some names of sources, since others were pointing to use), and you want to debate philosophy. I don’t want to debate philosophical ideas of language, I only want to do philosophy with language as it is used by actual humans, including scientists.

As if the common uses of “natural language” were unproblematic or not in need of philosophical treatment. Wittgenstein and many subsequent “natural language philosophers” (e.g., Austin, Searle and Grice) would disagree.

The fact of the matter is that you cannot convince people used to dealing with scientific language that “intelligence” has only one set of unequivocal predicates. Even if they don’t know exactly what is being said there, they know that “intelligence” has a whole range of meanings, as does “designer”, and that “designer” means nothing unless it can actually be shown to have predicates, or alternatively, if predicates are assigned to “designer”.

Look. The claim that the definition of “intelligence” is completely equivocal for a hypothetical unknown, non-human designer is only meaningful if the alternate equivocal definition of “intelligence” can be given. Of course, some terms are equivocal, but the equivocity can be removed by definition, so my original point about the univocity of terms remains intact (sorry that’s a lot of ‘vocities’). But if you tell me that the word “intelligence” has another meaning in another context, I will ask what that other meaning is. And if you cannot tell me, I must conclude that either you don’t know the meaning or that there is no other meaning. In either case, the suppossed equivocal term is meaningless for both of us. So what are we even talking about?

Comment #25208

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

GWW,

Lakoff is not making the argument that you claimed he was making. You need to look carefully at what I wrote with attention to the placement of the word “simply”.

What argument is he making then?

I claim that his argument is that a simple (i.e., straightforward) telling of the truth and facts isn’t enough. They need to be “framed” in a way to make conceptualization possible. “Merely” telling the truth “simply” isn’t what Lakoff is talking about. He advocates using simple frames but that’s not the same thing as arguing that telling the truth simply is necessarily a frame. That is, a frame is a specific way of telling the truth simply, but not all ways of telling the truth simply are frames.

As with the JW examples I gave, “simply telling the truth” or “telling the truth simply” by itself doesn’t always work. The problem is quite analogous to what Lakoff discusses in regard to his “Be Poison-Free” campaign. It is a simple message but that is not the same what most people would understand by your phrase “merely … telling the truth simply, forecfully…..” If Lakoff needed to use a special term - a frame - then clearly “telling the truth simply isn’t enough.” You need something catchy and it it were simple to come up with something catchy the Democrats wouldn’t be in such a sorry state. Lakoff’s own examples of good potential frames for Democrats are, imho, pretty lame and ineffective for the most part. So, simple it ain’t.

In particular, it isn’t good enough (according to Lakoff) to do what Wesley Elsberry calls his “third” approach which is what I was talking about;

(WE) Show misquote after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error, and make the audience understand that if the ID advocate claims that the sky is blue, their next step had better be to look out the window to see for themselves. Evangelicals do want to take Christ’s message to the world, but they also have a deep loathing of liars. Of the three approaches, the last one requires the most preparation and care in delivery.

Remember that I was responding to this, i.e., to what Dr Elsberry actually said in his post. Most fundamentalist evangelicals hate liars and lies but, at the same time, they cannot recognize a lie when it impacts their beliefs (see the JW stuff above). Their religious notions often may make it almost impossible to recognize the lies. (Obviously their are exceptions but I’m talking about your everyday religious fundie).

According to you, we “have to attack the incorrect religious notions” of Bill Dembski. Thus far, you have provided zilcho evidence to support that claim — ZILCHO.

You didn’t provide evidence for your opinion about telling the truth simply being enough, nor did you explain what you meant by that, if it doesn;t mean the obvious. But I’ll try. If, e.g., a literal reading of the Bible leads to the religious view that God made the earth in six literal days, should we not attack that view? I am not saying, as you seem to think, that we should attack people’s beliefs willy nilly just because they believe in ID. There has to be a connection between the two. I am referring to those specific religious ideas that lead to ID or YEC in the first place. So for example, if people want to interpret the Bible so that it’s consistent with evolution then that’s fine.

At bottom people believe ID because of their religious roots not because ID is compelling science. Attacking the roots hardly seems like a bad idea.

I want to know (1) why it is necessary to attack the incorrect religious notions” of Bill Dembski if we want to keep his bogus theory out of public schools

You added “if we want to keep his … theory out of schools.” Had you been following along you’d have noticed that I said the facts were the most important when it comes to education policy i.e., discussions between (hopefully) professionals with a grasp of the facts. However, keeping ID out of schools isn’t the only objective - educating the public about it is another. It might not be a stated goal of the folks mainly concerned about ID in schools, but that doesn’t make it an illegitimate goal. Certainly, broad education of the public can only help. The more people understand that God didn’t make domestic animals directly then the better in my opinion.

What bothers me is the idea (seemingly advanced by Wesley) that Silver is somehow not even entitled to debate ID-ers without his blessing - as though the supposed professionals have a monopoly.

Further, most people who want ID in schools share views similar to Dembski’s religious notions (here I am assuing generic fundie since I have no specific knowledge of Dembski’s views). This is why they want ID in schools. They don’t really care whether ID is science or not. They care that evolution is gone. It’s the wedge strategy. So, in addition to the approach some seem to be advocating here - stay away from God - other approaches which attack false religious notions may also be useful. That’s because God is defined by religious notions to the point that the two become synoomous. Attack the leaders of the JWs and they interpret that as an attack on their concept of God because God speaks exclusively through their leaders and their leaders only.

I want to know (2) how we show that Bill Dembski’s “concept of God is wrong.”

I don’t know specifically what Dembski’s concept of God actually is. But it would be worth finding out and then attacking the bits that are attackable and related to ID. For example, someone’s concept of God might be a God who made the Earth in 6 days and created wild and domestic animals separately and specially then it’s pretty easy to show that this is wroing, is it not? Keep i mind that a “concept of God” is rarely an abstract notion. For most Christians God is actively involved in their lives, making things happen or not happen. In particular, they are so dogmatic because they “just know” that they speak for God. So, it’s simple, if you can demonstrate (if not to them, but to others) that their conecpt of God is wrong you’ve gone a long way to reducing their effectiveness.

This discussion is fun and I do basically agree with much of what you say. But I don’t have the time to go another round on this today.

Comment #25209

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

Finley

Make a point, and I’ll respond to it.

Bro’, you’ve been making my point for me: creationist apologists are cowardly dissemblers who talk out of their hind ends.

I’ve little doubt that you’ll be helping me (and others) make that point for some time to come.

Let the record show: Finley simply refused to explain or recant his odd statement that “it it is impossible to make “reasonable” conjectures about the nature of the designer.”

Truly a sad day for the creationist trolls.

Comment #25210

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 5:06 PM (e)

So what are we even talking about?

That’s basically what I’m wondering. Look, with all your Kripkes, Wittgensteins, analytical school, continental school, meaninglessvocitudes… was there an explanation hiding in there somewhere that explains why it’s not ridiculous to generalize anything at all from the only “designers” we know (H. sapiens) to the hypothetical Big Designer in the Sky, and why my analogy doesn’t render all this philosophizing just one giant wankfest?

Comment #25212

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Bob

You didn’t provide evidence for your opinion about telling the truth simply being enough

That’s not my opinion Bob and I made that perfectly clear.

What bothers me is the idea (seemingly advanced by Wesley) that Silver is somehow not even entitled to debate ID-ers without his blessing - as though the supposed professionals have a monopoly.

What bothers me is your insistence that informal criticism of someone’s actions on a blog is equivalent to “censure” and “denying rights”.

Get over it, will you? Seriously.

Comment #25213

Posted by Bob King on April 15, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

GWW,

Do you actually read what you write?

GWW We merely need to tell the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly.

How does this not translate into “telling the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly” not being enough. What part of “merely” are you having trouble with.

Comment #25216

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

Bib

How does this not translate into “telling the truth simply, forcefully and repeatedly” not being enough.

I can’t parse your question but I think I know what you mean.

Please note – for the second time, if you’ve been paying attention – that I did not specify in my statement which truths I advocate repeating simply and forcefully (although I alluded to them numerous times in this thread).

If you have some falsehoods that you think are worth telling “simply, forcefully and repeatedly” then I’m all ears. I’d also like to know why you think telling lies is necessary under the circumstances.

And for the love of Jeebus please take some time to read my comments carefully before you type. This is tiresome.

Comment #25217

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Hypothesis: an intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth. Prediction deduced from hypothesis via above principle: every organism on this planet is basically similar to each other. It then becomes a matter of empirical verification of the prediction.

How would your, uh, hypothesis be falsified.

And why does your, uh, prediction follow from your, uh, hypothesis.

And how the hell do you plan on measuring “basically similar to each other”.

And how is “basically similar to each other due to common descent” different from “basically similar to each other due to common design”.

Please be specific.

Comment #25218

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

…was there an explanation hiding in there somewhere that explains why it’s not ridiculous to generalize anything at all from the only “designers” we know (H. sapiens) to the hypothetical Big Designer in the Sky, and why my analogy doesn’t render all this philosophizing just one giant wankfest?

As the great Louis Armstrong famously said when asked “What is Jazz?”, if you don’t already know, you wouldn’t understand the answer.

Comment #25219

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 6:03 PM (e)

Tireless Blowhard,

I’ve already given the answers. There is no point in giving them again, because you’ll simply ignore them and ask the same question… again.

Go blow down another strawman, and leave me alone.

Comment #25221

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25222

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

But if you tell me that the word “intelligence” has another meaning in another context, I will ask what that other meaning is. And if you cannot tell me, I must conclude that either you don’t know the meaning or that there is no other meaning. In either case, the suppossed equivocal term is meaningless for both of us. So what are we even talking about?

Exactly, that’s the problem. I don’t want to discuss “intelligence” because it has no particular meaning, but is considered only to be a designation that we give to certain forms of information processing. Cells engage in information processing, and it appears a rather artificial distinction to call our brain’s processing of information “intelligence” as if it differed in kind from the sort of information processing that all organisms must engage in. However, as a useful marker between us and the animals, or between vertebrates, say, and sea urchins, the word “intelligence” can be useful.

But I would defy anybody to tell me how the brain is in essence “intelligent” and the protist is not. All we can do to define “intelligence” is to make arbitrary distinctions between information processors for the sake of our convenience. We process information, ant colonies process information, even ecosystems involve information flows.

You’re saying that “intelligence” and “design” mean something, most of the rest of us are asking, “what are we even talking about?” I know what information is, more or less (probably best understood in terms of entropy), and I can understand information processing, but I have to know how information is being processed into “design” even to credit a “design hypothesis”.

In the case of human productions and animal productions, we know enough about their information processing to assess apparent designs, even if we only know about this information processing through non-quantitative interpretations of experience and observation of the organisms themselves. If we found clay pots from the Cambrian period we’d know something about the designers even if we never discovered anything directly about them, because we know something about how and why information processing occurs in “natural organisms”.

But we know nothing about the operations of the IDists’ “designer”. They won’t even call this “designer” an “information processor”, but insist on using the undefinable (in the absence of any observed entity) term “intelligence”. The fact is that even “information processor” would be undefinable as well in the absence of any entity (or fictional description of such an entity) to which it putatively refers, but I think the reason the “designer” is not called an “information processor” is that by using this term it is suggested that we really should be describing information processes, and not using the term bare as if it meant something by itself.

And science really only cares about information/energy processes, for this is all that it is really able to investigate. Any “designer” that is off-limits to investigation of its information processing is a non-entity to science. It may be a very happy and wonderful entity, yet this happy being remains beyond our ken. We consider “human intelligence” precisely because it is apparently a reasonably predictable and investigable process operating according to the laws of thermodynamics (the second law almost certainly accounts for the lack of complete predictability).

In the scientific world this is what “intelligence means”, though once one gets into neuroscience the meaninglessness of “intelligence” is responsible for the fact that this term typically drops out. Physics is used in neuroscience to study what goes into our own designs based on the information/energy interactions arising from the dynamic (energetically and physiologically) brain. Thus “intelligence” is given a meaning through neuro-physics, even if the cutoff between “intelligence” and “information processing” remains arbitrary.

Which is to say, you have a rival philosophical position, a rival metaphysical position. You have you’re “authorities” and I have mine (though neither of us is making an argument from authority; we are both prepared to visit the arguments). It seems to me that you disparage metaphysics while at the same time engaging in it.

You call mine a metaphysical position, but why? The fact is that I didn’t change much in outlook when I shifted from science studies to philosophy studies, and the main reason I refer to Nietzsche is that people look to authorities no matter how little I like this practice.

I have never really distinguished between philosophy and science, and I don’t intend to do so. Nietzsche claimed to be a philosopher while bashing metaphysics, sometimes with painful anti-Xian overtones (I have no quarrel with Xianity per se). I appeal to Nietzsche not so much because he greatly informs what I think as that he embodies a Romantic type of empiricism which partly came out of, and reflects, science. I disagree with him over many of the specifics (and his insistence on the will to power), but his questions about what “reality” and other assumptions actually mean penetrate to the core of the problems with metaphysics.

Just because I care about philosophy doesn’t mean that I care about metaphysics. It isn’t using language properly to lump anti-metaphysical philosophy with metaphysics. I certainly didn’t take on philosophy in order to go against science and empiricism, rather I took it up to help to consider and discuss the matter of consciousness scientifically.

So it isn’t going to work with me to suggest that philosophy must be something apart from “natural philosophy”, that is, science. Essentially I use philosophy primarily to get away from a priori assumptions, not to take up unevidenced assertions from philosophy. This includes Nietzsche as well, not to mention the useful but flawed writings of Deleuze. I tend to mention Nietzsche the most when discussing my position precisely because he’s the best I’ve ever read for telling his readers not to simply believe him, but to “leave Zarathustra”, since Zarathustra might have been lying.

It’s a shame that I have to use Nietzsche even to do this, yet it is a lot better than referring to Heidegger, Searle, or some other built-up system of thought that tries to dominate by overwhelming all other types of thinking. Plus, there is no reason to duplicate the many excellent things that Nietzsche observed regarding language, so that one does well to refer to him in that respect.

IOW, I use Nietzsche because he’s that rare part of the canon, the superb anti-canonical thinker. This doesn’t keep him from being misused and tamed by philosophers composing systems. Nietzsche does however remain the weapon of choice against the dull force of the canon. It’s roughly for the same reason that I like Deleuze tosomewhat, he being the advocate for nomadological science (which is good only if it is science, btw).

The fact is that I would typically give up a philosophical position in the face of scientific evidence, and not the other way around. I’m willing to challenge interpretations that exist in science, like “methodological naturalism” (no one can say what “natural” is without resorting to more basic epistemological considerations). Yet if we don’t begin with the sensual world in doing philosophy as well as science, it’s nothing but garbage in, garbage out.

Philosophy works best when it refers back to sensual phenomena (or their proxies) and considers how to keep good data from nevertheless becoming garbage through excessive restrictions from prior assumptions.

Comment #25224

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:13 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25225

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:16 PM (e)

If the dispute is over the concept of meaning, etc.,

No, Mikey – the dispute is over whether ID is science.

If you think it IS, then show us. What testible falsifiable statement does ID ‘science” make about the world around us that differs from evolutionary theory.

Or can’t ID do that.

Comment #25226

Posted by Henry J on April 15, 2005 6:17 PM (e)

Re “what would you be looking for, specifically?”

That’s the ID advocates’ problem. :)

Re “on the other hand, real science takes time and dedication.”

Guess that means the ID advocates have their work cut out for them, so they’d better put aside the polictics and start researching something. (Ha ha.)

Henry

Comment #25227

Posted by Russell on April 15, 2005 6:21 PM (e)

As the great Louis Armstrong famously said when asked “What is Jazz?”, if you don’t already know, you wouldn’t understand the answer.

Actually, I asked a “yes/no” question. I’m pretty sure I can understand “yes” and “no”. I haven’t done much formal coursework in this stuff, but I’m going to pull rank on you, Finley: I have an official document from a well respected institute of higher learning that certifies me as a “doctor of philosophy” :)

Comment #25229

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

While we have to attack ID with facts we also have to attack the incorrect religious notions of those who promote it.

May I ask how you know which religious opinions are “correct” or “incorrect”?

Is there something akin to the scientific method that we can use to determine whose religious opinions are better than whose?

What about Rev Barry Lynn, the director of People for the American Way ———- do you think we should be attacking his “incorrect religious notions”? Since Rev Lynn is not an atheist, and accepts a beleif in God, does that, in your view, make him an enemy, and an ally of the IDers? Should those who oppose IDers demand that Lynn resign from PAW, or that PAW should drop its involvement in the anti-ID fight because its director has “incorrect religious notions”?

Let me state a simple fact — atheists make up less than ten percent of the US population. Theists make up 90 percent. If you want to win a political fight, you will NOT win it by alienating 90 percent of the population.

Theistic evolutionists are our allies in this fight–they are just as opposed to the IDers as we are. Treating them as “the enemy” doesn’t seem to make a whole hell of a lot of sense to me …. . What, exactly, do you think we gain by driving them away?

Comment #25231

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:27 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25232

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

Posted by Michael Finley on April 15, 2005 06:03 PM (e) (s)

Tireless Blowhard,

How Christian of you….

“Love thine enemies”. “Do good to those who would harm you”. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. All just words to you, huh little boy.

“Christian”, indeed. Hmmmmppphhhhh.

I’ve already given the answers. There is no point in giving them again, because you’ll simply ignore them and ask the same question … again.

Go blow down another strawman, and leave me alone.

Translation: “I can’t answer your simple question, and I want you to stop asking me.”

When you have something that can pass the scientific method, Mikey, do let me know, OK?

Comment #25234

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 15, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

It’s a shame that I have to use Nietzsche even to do this, yet it is a lot better than referring to Heidegger

Nietzsche was a far better football player, too, as this Packer fan will attest. And he was great in Aldrich’s “The Longest Yard” (the original and only version worth seeing).

Comment #25235

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

Just a correction here that probably nobody else cares about at all. I shouldn’t have written “nomadological science,” but “nomadic science”. I bastardized the already problematic term “nomadology”. Just accurate records and all that.

Comment #25236

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 15, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Nietzsche was a far better football player, too, as this Packer fan will attest.

Well if you can’t get Heidegger to shut up, clobber him I say.

Comment #25238

Posted by Flint on April 15, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

I of course could make the “prediction” that the designer, loving wondrous diversity, would have made EACH AND EVERY HUMAN utterly differet —- some with three arms, some with two heads, some with blue skin —- everybody different.

And when we test my, uh, “prediction” by observation, lo and behold, we find that my prediciton is falsified. Ergo, there is no Designer.

Wait a minute! No two people are the same, not even identical twins. You will have to invert your prediction about the designer. You will still be correct, of course, when evidence is irrelevant.

Comment #25245

Posted by sir_toejam on April 15, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

“Wait a minute! No two people are the same, not even identical twins”

I think he was referring to “macro evolved” humans as opposed to “micro evolved” humans.

;)

Comment #25250

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 15, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

Re “what would you be looking for, specifically?”

That’s the ID advocates’ problem. :)

An unsolvable one, apparently.

Comment #25254

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 15, 2005 9:58 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #25256

Posted by P. Mihalakos on April 15, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

I think ID as a movement is giving the philosophers an undeserved bad name, particularly the postmodernists. They aren’t all masturbatory obscurantists, though we have been treated to an obscene wank-a-thon by the ID crowd. There are those (even on this blog) who are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue between philosophy and science, a la Bahktin and Lakoff, rather than waste everyone’s intelligence by playing word games.

So, we know that ID is not a science. Furthermore, I think ID should not be referred to as a coherent philosophy, either. Instead, I think what ID is–at the core of its Machiavellian heart–is just really bad poetry, really bad art. That’s right, the discourse employed by proponents of ID is a form of conceptual word-art. And a poor one at that.

By way of evidence I offer the following snip of generic dialogue, which hopefully sounds familiar to many participants in this discussion:

X: So, tell me. How does ID engage the physical world via scientific method to make hypotheses, experiments, and predictions?

Y: ID makes many predictions.

X: Like what?

Y: Well, if I see a watch lying on the ground, I KNOW it was designed by an intelligent “someone,” not the product of spontaneous self-assembly. Ergo, I can hypothesize that watches as well as watch-like things of similar complexity were designed, and designed intelligently. And I can use my hypothesis to predict that any other artifact designed by the self-same intelligence will bear the distinct hallmark of His STYLE, His signature joi de vivre, n’est pas? (Snort.)

That’s why when you see through those silly superficial differences, you discover that all living animals are comprised of a limited number of observed body types, or “themes” as I like to call them. But not just animals, I say from the humble E. coli bacteria that inhabit my arse to the sublime music of the spheres themselves… The great chain being is clearly the product of intelligent design. The alternative, I’m afraid, is statistically quite implausible.

Moreover, unless we acknowledge the certainty of ‘Intelligent Design,’ fewer and fewer people will live moral lives. There will be no reason why anyone should keep themselves in check, no reason to resist, ahem, certain impulses. (Cough.) I KNOW I couldn’t. There will be blood in the streets, I tell you.

Consequently, we ID conceptual artists would like to present our theories in public science classrooms and fund experiments that test the scientific prediction that macro-level body plans, including tissues, organs, etc. are finite, complex specifications as specified by the unknown intelligent specifier, i.e. the great Kahuna Himself, and not the product of a Godless open system of evolution, some glorified algorithmic search engine.

X: You are wrong. Or, worse yet, you are not even wrong. Here is why: there is nothing hypothetical about your hypothesis, nothing predictable about your predictions. There is no way to test any assertion whatsoever about unknown supernatural designers. That’s why honest theists appeal to faith and not science.

And for these reasons I’m not even going to try to convince you how ordinary organic molecules can form autocatalytic systems in ways that bits of spring and glass cannot, because I realize that there is no way I can argue with someone, no matter how well-spoken, who not only cannot admit that watches and living beings are fundamentally different kinds of things, but will not offer up any falsifiable evidence as to why I should pretend otherwise.

Y: I can recommend some good philosophy texts to help you untangle your metaphysical biases, as you obviously have problems with the meaning of the word meaning.

X: What do you mean?

Y: Exactly!

It appears that at least one Lakoff-styled “frame” for this conflict has clearly emerged as an effective tool for highlighting the difference between what scientists DO and what ID conceptual artists DO. That’s why Lenny and GWW have been so successful here.

1. Remind all within earshot that science is about the common world of shared observations about the physical world.
2. As such, science is a precious human tool that allows us to test our ideas, And test and test and test.
3. Every child had a right to master the scientific method without being hassled by those who find aspects of science to be philosophically, politically, aesthetically, or religiously uncongenial.
4. ID is not science.
5. ID offers no testable hypotheses, much less a full theory.
6. ID is politics, plain and simple.
7. ID conceptual artists will tell you otherwise, and they are lying. Their lying is, in fact, part of the art.

Comment #25262

Posted by Pete on April 15, 2005 11:08 PM (e)

Dembski is a brilliant mathematician.

I’ll say!

Comment #25266

Posted by qetzal on April 15, 2005 11:25 PM (e)

Michael Finley, according to your arguments, it’s fair to infer characteristics of the Intelligent Designer by comparison to humans (the only known intelligent designers).

You argue that if an individual is known to be a member of a group, and if it’s also known that most members of a group possess a given characteristic, then the specified individual probably possesses that characteristic as well. Further, you argue that the more prevalent a given characteristic is in the group, the more likely the individual is to share that characteristic.

If I promise to follow the rules, can I play a round in your game? Here goes.

I note that every known, observable human possess the following characteristics:

“unable to perform abiogenesis.”
“unable to direct evolution through non-naturalistic means.”
“unable to create new species through non-naturalistic means.”
“unable to live long enough to have directed evolution for the past few hundred million years.”

So, since 100% of the group “intelligent designers” possesses these characterisitics, we can, by your rules, infer with certainty that the Intelligent Designer also possesses these characteristic.

In other words, playing by your rules, I can prove that the Intelligent Designer is unable to be the Intelligent Designer.

So, do I win?

Comment #25273

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 15, 2005 11:56 PM (e)

You’ll note that Dembski doesn’t dare attempt to argue with Flank or steve or yours truly about his sad pathetic “theory” and its appropriateness in for public school science classrooms. He will end up knocked on his ass immediately and he will never be able to get up for the simple reason that we wouldn’t let him get up.

Remember how that neurologist destroyed Joe Scarborough on TV?

That was priceless. I have to appreciate this guy calling frauds frauds..

Comment #25285

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 1:18 AM (e)

What a delightful example of fools making way for one another. The lot of you (with a few notable exceptions) are as dense as you are dogmatic. You are utterly unable to reasonably consider a contrary position. May natural selection have mercy on your souls, for your minds are surely a lost cause.

Comment #25288

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 16, 2005 3:04 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25292

Posted by PaulP on April 16, 2005 5:50 AM (e)

Michael Finley:

I admire your arrogance. How likely is it that you have spotted a flaw in scientific thinking that no one else has?

Here is a simplified attempt to show you how things really are:

1) All scientific knowledge is provisional. This is because there are things we do not know.
2) When we have one or more scientific theories trying to explain the same things we try to get them to disagree about some aspect of reality - in other words to make conflicting predictions. When we find a disagreement we look at reality to see which are correct, and discard any that are wrong. (In this case the advocates of Intelligent Design claim we already have certain facts that cannot be explained by evolutionary theory and which require something extra, namely an intelligent designer. Biologist disagree and keep knocking down any such specific claims).
3) Suppose there are two theories that can never make conflicting predictions. Then, because we have limited intelligence, we apply Ockhams’ Razor and use the simpler theory. This is a practical reason for using the simpler theory.
4) Suppose there are two theories that can never make conflicting predictions, one of which uses assumptions (a,b,c) and the other assumptions (a,b,c,d). Then whenever one of their common predictions is verified by looking at reality, we can say that there is evidence to support assumptions a, b and c but not d, because the first theory does not need assumption d. The most we can say about d is that there is no evidence against it.

So far so simple. Your problem is that you are discussing the situation in point 4) when the debate on ID is about the situation in point 2).
Now you will point out correctly that any set of facts can be explained by an infinity of theories, and that therefore no set of facts can prove that only one of these theories is correct. True but completely irrelevant to this debate, because the IDers say that some of the facts cannot be explanied by evolution.
Even if you persist in your erroneous thinking, you cannot save ID, because in terms of your thinking ID makes the same errors as evolution.

Comment #25307

Posted by Russell on April 16, 2005 11:05 AM (e)

Finley:

What a delightful example of fools making way for one another. The lot of you (with a few notable exceptions) are as dense as you are dogmatic. You are utterly unable to reasonably consider a contrary position. May natural selection have mercy on your souls, for your minds are surely a lost cause.

Without wasting a lot of time and effort on what appears to me a lost cause, I just note this characteristic of evo-phobes that is extremely exasperating. The sweeping generalities - “fools”, “dogmatic”, “utterly unable to reasonably consider”… - with no attempt to attach them to any specifics. In the discussion above, I saw a number of questions posed to Finley that he just dismisses apparently as just too philosophically unsophisticated to merit his attention. (Comments #25266 and 25292, for instance, summarize a lot of these questions.)

As has been pointed out, Finley, it is you who is attempting to show a serious logical flaw in decades of biology, and millions of peron-hours of serious thought and hard work. I should think a little humility would be in order.

Comment #25308

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 11:21 AM (e)

Russell,

Your comments are just more of the same. Nowhere am I attacking the scientific validity of evolution, and therefore, nowhere am I attempting “to show a serious logical flaw in decades of biology, and millions of peron-hours of serious thought and hard work.” What I have been trying to do is make a verifiable prediction from the hypothesis of an intelligent designer. And if it turned out to have some modicum of reasonableness to it, it would say nothing of the already verified hypothesis of common descent. It would merely add, in this instance (viz., the unity of life), an alternated explanation.

That you, and most everyone else, never seems to understand what I’m up to is proof positive that no one is interested in understanding. All that matters around here is making the latest rhetorical zinger at whatever straw man can be easily erected.

Comment #25309

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 11:23 AM (e)

Make that “alternative explanation.”

Comment #25310

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 11:32 AM (e)

PaulP,

The ID movement is concerned with attacking the viability of neo-Darwinian mechanisms. What in my above posts has led you to believe I am up to the same thing? I am not attacking evolution at all, I am trying to see if an alternative hypothesis to common descent (the “fact” of evolution, as opposed to the theory) can explain the same natural facts, e.g., the unity of life.

Of course my hypothesis makes the same predictions as common descent with respect to the unity of life. Both involve a common origin, and I am arguing from that to the probability of common results.

But anyone who carefully reads my posts knew that already… which is to say, no one.

Comment #25317

Posted by Russell on April 16, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

It would merely add, in this instance (viz., the unity of life), an alternat[ive] explanation.

And you think that, in those millions of person-hours of serious thought and hard work, we haven’t considered alternative explanations. I repeat: a little humility would be in order.

Comment #25337

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

And you think that, in those millions of person-hours of serious thought and hard work, we haven’t considered alternative explanations. I repeat: a little humility would be in order.

Humility in the face of what? The hot air from burning straw men?

You say imply that “you” (plural) - “in millions of person-hours of serious thought and hard work” - have considered alternative explanations such as the one I am attempting. Please provide a single reference for such consideration.

Comment #25343

Posted by Russell on April 16, 2005 2:51 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #25347

Posted by qetzal on April 16, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

I am trying to see if an alternative hypothesis to common descent (the “fact” of evolution, as opposed to the theory) can explain the same natural facts, e.g., the unity of life. Of course my hypothesis makes the same predictions as common descent with respect to the unity of life.

Exactly. Put another way, you are predicting something that you expect to see whether your hypothesis is right or wrong. Such predictions have no value.

If you are truly interested in testing your idea scientifically, you need to make predictions with multiple possible outcomes, only some of which are consistent with your hypothesis. If you want to go a step further and show that your hypothesis is superior to current evolutionary theory, then you need to describe something where your hypothesis predicts a different outcome than current theory.

But surely you know that. You obviously have enough knowledge and intelligence to write coherently and grammatically, and you throw around philosopher’s names and ideas quite readily, suggesting you have a fair amount of education.

So why do you insist on ignoring what is merely simple logic? It makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that you are either being selectively obtuse, or entirely disingenuous.

Comment #25349

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

Unless it is written in code, comment #25292 does provide any references for the consideration of alternative hypotheses. Do you have a decoder ring, or did you have something else in mind?

The “ship of fools.” I like that. It draws interesting parallels between my “shipmates” here at PT, and those of the “stargazer” on the “ship of state” (see Plato’s Republic, Book VI, 488a-489a).

Comparisons aside, your invitation for me to jump ship is merely par for the course. Either I should grin and bare the endless obfuscation of Tireless Blowhard and Co., accepting misunderstanding as refutation, or I should simply leave. Thank’s for the suggestion, but I think I’ll do neither.

If no one can handle my argument on the merits, the field appears to be mine.

Comment #25350

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

qetzal wrote:

If you are truly interested in testing your idea scientifically, you need to make predictions with multiple possible outcomes, only some of which are consistent with your hypothesis.

I’ve already done so, but will gladly do it again.

The hypothesis is that “an unknown, intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.”

The prediction from this hypothesis is that “the diversity of life on planet Earth will possess structural similarities.”

If that prediction were verified, the hypothesis would be verified according to a probability. If it were not, it would not.

The prediction is derived from the premise from the probability that the products of a common designer are similar to each other. That probability is an intuitive expectation, but it could be experimentally verified by sampling the products of different designers and categorizing them according to similar traits.

This is the basic framework. There are many issues involved that are not mentioned here, e.g., the underlying theory of meaning.

Comment #25351

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

Replace “premise” in the 5th sentence with “hypothesis.”

Comment #25353

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

qetzal wrote:

You obviously have enough knowledge and intelligence to write coherently and grammatically, and you throw around philosopher’s names and ideas quite readily, suggesting you have a fair amount of education….It makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that you are either being selectively obtuse, or entirely disingenuous.

A back-handed compliment if ever there was one. Apparently, I’m intelligent enough to either be blinded by my own commitments or a complete liar. Thanks.

Comment #25354

Posted by Michael Finley on April 16, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

qetzal,

That’s a back-handed compliment if ever there was one. Apparently, I’m intelligent enough to either be blinded by my own commitments or a complete liar. Thanks.

Comment #25355

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 16, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

Mr. Finley,

The hypothesis is that “an unknown, intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.”
The prediction from this hypothesis is that “the diversity of life on planet Earth will possess structural similarities.”
If that prediction were verified, the hypothesis would be verified according to a probability. If it were not, it would not.

It has already been pointed out that the “prediction” does not truly follow from the hypothesis, unless you add several rather hazardous conditions that would constrain your “…unknown, intelligent designer…”

Considering that you are on record stating that nothing can be said about the nature and modus operandi of this/these entity/ies, your statements appear to produce a non sequitur.

Moreover, it has also been pointed out to you that the same “predition” is compatible to other, more parsimonious, hypotheses, and would therefore appear to run afoul of Occam’s Razor.

In other words, quetzal’s issue remains:

…you need to make predictions with multiple possible outcomes, only some of which are consistent with your hypothesis.

You have not done so, as your “prediction” does not differ from the predictions of the current theory of evolution.

Comment #25373

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2005 6:27 PM (e)

The hypothesis is that “an unknown, intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.”

The prediction from this hypothesis is that “the diversity of life on planet Earth will possess structural similarities.”

How does your “prediction” follow from your hypothesis.

Why can God — er, I mean “the Unknown Intelligent Designer” not have created all idnividual living things completely differently from each other.

Since your “designer dunnit” “prediction” does not differ in any noticable way from the “no designer dunnit” “prediction”, why on earth do you want us to assume the existence of a designer when such an assumption is not made necessary by your very own “prediction”? Other than your relgiious say-so.

You just got finished telling us that you know NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL WHATSOEVER about the designer or its nature. So how the hell can you tell how the designer would or would not construct whatever it constructs.

And how do we differentiate “structural similarities due to common design” from “structural similarities due to common descent”.

And just what the hell IS “structural similarity”, anyway. Many viruses don’t have any DNA at all — does this mean that your prediction fails with these, and that they were therefore designed by a different designer? Why or why not.

Thanks for once again demonstrating to everyone that ID consists of no science at all, just pseudo-philosophical weiner-wanking.

Comment #25375

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 16, 2005 6:30 PM (e)

Nowhere am I attacking the scientific validity of evolution

Ummm, then what, exactly, are you bitching about?

Comment #25376

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 16, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

That probability is an intuitive expectation, but it could be experimentally verified by sampling the products of different designers and categorizing them according to similar traits.

When we look at the products of the only KNOWN intelligent designers (humans), we find that NONE of them fit a nested hierarchy consistent with geneological descent.

On the other hand, when we look at the diversity of life, we find that ALL of it fits a nested hierarchy consistent with common descent.

Why is that, Mikey.

Comment #25380

Posted by RBH on April 16, 2005 6:46 PM (e)

Finley wrote

I’ve already done so, but will gladly do it again.

The hypothesis is that “an unknown, intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.”

The prediction from this hypothesis is that “the diversity of life on planet Earth will possess structural similarities.”

If that prediction were verified, the hypothesis would be verified according to a probability. If it were not, it would not.

The prediction is derived from the premise from the probability that the products of a common designer are similar to each other. That probability is an intuitive expectation, but it could be experimentally verified by sampling the products of different designers and categorizing them according to similar traits.

Well, I’ve done some pilot work on designer discrimination methods following from Multiple Designers Theory and find that they can mechanically distinguish the products of different (human) designers. I’m now working on ways to extend that analytic technology to biological phenomena. What does your hypothesis predict in respect to those data? I know what Multiple Designers Theory predicts; how about your single designer conjecture?

RBH

Comment #25381

Posted by RBH on April 16, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

Oh, and I should add that I also know what pattern of results naturalistic evolutionary theory predicts for the designer discrimination data I hope to gather on biological phenomena. Does Finley? Can he figure out how that pattern should differ from that implied by his single designer conjecture and from that implied by Multiple Designers Theory? I can.

RBH

Comment #25386

Posted by Blair on April 16, 2005 7:58 PM (e)

Heck, there are hearings coming up in Kansas in May regarding including ID in the state science standards curricula…well publicized in the media, and the Kansas Citizens for Science (three or four people in a basement) are organizing a BOYCOTT of the debate.

Scientists from KU and K State and other area univerities are supporting the BOYCOTT.

However, in these circumstances I would call it a forfeit

Comment #25389

Posted by Henry J on April 16, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

Re qetzal’s #25266, “[…] So, do I win?”

ROFL

Henry

Comment #25392

Posted by Russell on April 16, 2005 9:39 PM (e)

Blair:

Kansas Citizens for Science (three or four people in a basement)

You’d like to think. I’ve never been to Kansas, and I know more or them than that. Also, I think you’ll find that they are pretty much in sync with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and a whole lot of professional science organizations. What scientific organizations have backed the other side?

Comment #25418

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 8:35 AM (e)

The “ship of fools,” full steam ahead.

Comment #25426

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 17, 2005 9:36 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

The prediction from this hypothesis is that “the diversity of life on planet Earth will possess structural similarities.”
If that prediction were verified, the hypothesis would be verified according to a probability. If it were not, it would not.
The prediction is derived from the premise from the probability that the products of a common designer are similar to each other

It’s time to leave the dead horse alone and find a viable argument. It’s been pointed out to you ad infinitum (the Latin’s just for you, Mikey) that your basic premise is fatally flawed, as you have no reliable basis for predicting the design intent or character of an unknown and potentially omnipotent designer. Yours is the type of idea that IDists use to impress the chronically ignorant, and one would think that you might have gotten the idea by now that your target audience is elsewhere.

Comment #25434

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

Jim Wynne,

It’s quite obvious that you havn’t read the entire thread.

If I can make probable predictions about unknown American, black voters, then I can make the same sort of predictions about unknown intelligent designers. It’s really as simple as that.

The only criticism has been “‘Intelligence’ and ‘designer’ mean something different when applied to unknown ‘intelligent designers’.” Anyone who makes such a claim should be able to give the different meanings for these terms. As no one has done that, there must not be different meanings for these terms.

Comment #25436

Posted by Russell on April 17, 2005 10:36 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'b'

Comment #25439

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 10:48 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

EXACTLY THE SAME logic tells me that if I can make probable predictions about the creations of E. coli, I can make the same sort of predictions about the creations of Leonardo da Vinci. It’s really as simple as that.

And what predictions are those?

Comment #25440

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 17, 2005 10:51 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

It’s quite obvious that you havn’t read the entire thread.

I’ve read this one, and others where you have offered the same lame argument, and it’s been answered. Shall I supply links? Or is this just pseudocool intellectual game playing, wherein your argument changes depending on the thread?

Michael Finley wrote:

If I can make probable predictions about unknown American, black voters, then I can make the same sort of predictions about unknown intelligent designers. It’s really as simple as that.

“Probable predictions? What the hell does that mean? So, if I understand you correctly, and I’m afraid that I do, you think that making political predictions based upon the past performance of certain demographic groups somehow supports the idea that the products of a designer whose powers are–by definition– unknown are prima facie evidence of the nature of the designer? Do you mean to say that you really can’t see the tautology?

Michael Finley wrote:

The only criticism has been “‘Intelligence’ and ‘designer’ mean something different when applied to unknown ‘intelligent designers’.” Anyone who makes such a claim should be able to give the different meanings for these terms. As no one has done that, there must not be different meanings for these terms.

No, that hasn’t been the only criticism. It’s apparently the only one you want to see. If we can agree that “unknown” applies to both the identity of the designer and to her abilities, then you will have to concede that it is possible that the products of the designer don’t necessarily allow for the predictions you want to make. My intelligent designer isn’t bound by your narrow (and hopelessly predictable) definition of “intelligence.”

Comment #25449

Posted by Russell on April 17, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

Me: EXACTLY THE SAME logic tells me that if I can make probable predictions about the creations of E. coli, I can make the same sort of predictions about the creations of Leonardo da Vinci. It’s really as simple as that.
Finley: And what predictions are those?

Not a hell of a lot. Let’s give it a try, see how it goes:

Creations of E. coli:
They will be made of atoms
The products of one E. coli cell will be essentially indistinguishable from another E. coli
They will generally be structures useful for the survival and replication of E. coli or waste by-products of metabolism

OK. Let’s see how many of them carry over:

Creations of Leonardo da Vinci
They will be made of atoms*
*(unless, of course, they are ideas)

Oh dear. That doesn’t seem to be very useful, does it?

Moreover, when I said “it’s as simple as that, I was being overly kind to your premiss. Because E. coli and Leonardo are, after all, both carbon-based life forms. So its a pretty good guess that carbon atoms will figure prominently in both their creations. I’m not so sure I can say that much about the Big Designer in the Sky.

Comment #25453

Posted by PaulP on April 17, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

PaulP,

The ID movement is concerned with attacking the viability of neo-Darwinian mechanisms. What in my above posts has led you to believe I am up to the same thing? I am not attacking evolution at all, I am trying to see if an alternative hypothesis to common descent (the “fact” of evolution, as opposed to the theory) can explain the same natural facts, e.g., the unity of life.

Of course my hypothesis makes the same predictions as common descent with respect to the unity of life. Both involve a common origin, and I am arguing from that to the probability of common results.

Michael:
If you had read my post you might have noticed this:

When we have one or more scientific theories trying to explain the same things we try to get them to disagree about some aspect of reality

and

Now you will point out correctly that any set of facts can be explained by an infinity of theories, and that therefore no set of facts can prove that only one of these theories is correct

In other words, so what if you can come up with another hypothesis? There are many other hypotheses that would fit the same known facts. My post was meant to show you how scientists work in real life. They hypothesise and test. If the hypothesis fails they come up with another. And so on until everything is known. If at that point someone suggests another hypothesis that can explain all facts, then Ockham’s Razor will be used to choose between them.

Comment #25454

Posted by Russell on April 17, 2005 12:17 PM (e)

RE: PaulP’s comments.
I’ve pointed out, too, that while Finley has made it clear he’s trying to see if “the unity of life” can be equally well explained by his alternative hypothesis, he’s made a conscious decision to examine that body of data in isolation from the “nested hierarchy”, and all other bodies of data. Two points about this:
(1) In real life, scientists will be looking for hypotheses that can accommodate as much of all the available evidence as possible, and
(2) The distinction between these two bodies of data is arbitrary and artificial.

Comment #25456

Posted by PaulP on April 17, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

To Michael Finley:

In case I left you with an out:

To succeed, your alternative must either make more accurate predictions (since we do not yet have all the facts) or in the event that it does not make any predictions different to those of science, it must be conceptually simpler.

Which of these is true about your version?

Comment #25459

Posted by qetzal on April 17, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

Michael Finley,

Earlier, I used your approach to “prove” that the Intelligent Designer must be incapable of creating life or guiding evolution on Earth.

If you seriously believe that your approach and conclusions are valid, please explain what’s wrong with mine. Did I misapply your approach? If so, how?

Comment #25491

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 5:20 PM (e)

Jim Wynne wrote:

I’ve read this one, and others where you have offered the same lame argument, and it’s been answered. Shall I supply links? Or is this just pseudocool intellectual game playing, wherein your argument changes depending on the thread?

In another thread I conceded that no prediction follows deductively from the hypothesis of a common, intelligent designer. In this thread I am arguing that a prediction follows inductively from the same hypothesis. The two are different arguments.

“Probable predictions”? What the hell does that mean? So … you think that making political predictions based upon the past performance of certain demographic groups somehow supports the idea that the products of a designer whose powers are — by definition — unknown are prima facie evidence of the nature of the designer? Do you mean to say that you really can’t see the tautology?

Probable predictions. You know, what statisticians and pollsters do. The “political” part of the example is irrelevant. Are you not able to discriminate between the details and the form of an argument? And I think you need to look the word “tautology” up in the dictionary.

My intelligent designer isn’t bound by your narrow (and hopelessly predictable) definition of “intelligence.”

The definition of “intelligence” I am using is the garden-variety one of everyday English. If you have another to offer for non-human subjects, please define it. If you can’t, then there’s no reason to suppose there is another definition. Put up, or shut up.

Russell wrote:

Not a hell of a lot. Let’s give it a try, see how it goes…

Your comments concerning the products of E. Coli and Leonardo are too ridiculous to warrant serious consideration. Suffice it to say, E. Coli doesn’t qualify as an intelligent designer, and therefore, doesn’t produce anything in the relevant sense; and the relevant features of Leonardo’s products have nothing to do with their atomic properties.

PaulP wrote:

In other words, so what if you can come up with another hypothesis? There are many other hypotheses that would fit the same known facts. My post was meant to show you how scientists work in real life. They hypothesize and test. If the hypothesis fails they come up with another. And so on until everything is known. If at that point someone suggests another hypothesis that can explain all facts, then Ockham’s Razor will be used to choose between them.

First off, while there are other logically possible hypotheses (potentially infinite in number) that explain the facts, none have been formulated. They are mere logical possibilities. Second, Ockham’s razor is not a logical principle, but an aesthetic preference, i.e., a desire for desert landscapes. Finally, you keep asking me to win () the game, so to speak, when I’m just trying to get on the board. Let me see if any predictions follow from the hypothesis of common design, before I try to measure it against the well established hypothesis of common descent.

Russell wrote:

I’ve pointed out, too, that while Finley has made it clear he’s trying to see if “the unity of life” can be equally well explained by his alternative hypothesis, he’s made a conscious decision to examine that body of data in isolation from the “nested hierarchy”, and all other bodies of data.

Nested hierarchies are categories of similarities, while the unity of life concerns what might be called “transcategorical” similarities. And while the division is artificial, the two are not necessarily related. And I can hardly be expected to argue on multiple fronts when the single front I’ve chosen has been repeatedly misunderstood.

Comment #25496

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 17, 2005 6:54 PM (e)

Nested hierarchies are categories of similarities, while the unity of life concerns what might be called “transcategorical” similarities. And while the division is artificial, the two are not necessarily related. And I can hardly be expected to argue on multiple fronts when the single front I’ve chosen has been repeatedly misunderstood.

You’re blithering again, Mikey.

Why don’t you just quit while you’re behind? Come back when you have a testible falsifiable prediction that can differentiate your, uh, design “hypothesis” from plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill common everyday ho-hum evolution.

Or is ID, after all your arm-waving, indeed nothing but “evolution plus your religious opinions” …

Comment #25500

Posted by Russell on April 17, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

Your comments concerning the products of E. Coli and Leonardo are too ridiculous to warrant serious consideration.

See, that’s partly what makes it such a good analogy with your paradigm.

Suffice it to say, E. Coli doesn’t qualify as an intelligent designer, and therefore, doesn’t produce anything in the relevant sense; and the relevant features of Leonardo’s products have nothing to do with their atomic properties.

What? Are you unable to distinguish between the details of an argument and its form?
Let’s break this down:

Finley’s general category of producers: Intelligent Designers
Finley’s data: the products of intelligent designers
Finley’s sample of producers: a single group - humans
Finley’s hypothetical producer: the Big Designer(s) in the Sky
The task: what can we generalize from the products of producers we know to those of the one we don’t?

The parallel:

Russell’s general category of producers: carbon-based life forms
Russell’s data: products of carbon-based life forms.
Russell’s sample of producers: E. coli (and remember: E. coli is the only example of a carbon-based life form we can consider)
Russell’s hypothetical producer: Leonardo da Vinci (for the sake of argument, we’re going to “predict” what kinds of things Leonardo could make; i.e. assume you know nothing about what he actually did make)
The task: knowing everything we can know about what E. coli makes, let’s predict the properties of the things Leonardo will make.

You chose “intelligent designers” as your category. I chose “carbon-based life forms”. The “intelligence” of those life forms is irrelevant.

Comment #25501

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25508

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 8:24 PM (e)

Russell,

That’s all well and good, but you’re obviously equivocating on “produce,” and if the equivocation is removed, your silly comparison falls to the ground.

Look. I’m using a well-established inductive argument form: If x percent of group y possesses property z, then there is an x percent probability that an unknown member of group y possesses property z.

If you reject the above argument form, you reject the science of statistics along with it. Therefore, assuming you accept the above argument form, it is up to you to demonstrate why I cannot use it for the values y = “intelligent designers,” and z = “produces products similar to each other.”

Comment #25512

Posted by Russell on April 17, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

you’re obviously equivocating on “produce,”

I am? It’s not so obvious to me. How are the products of “carbon-based life forms” more equivocal than the “products of intelligent designers”? (I suspect there’s some technical philosophical definition of “equivocate” that I’m not quite catching here, in which case I’d be grateful for enlightenment.)

What I’m trying to illustrate is that my “group y” (E. coli and Leonardo da Vinci) is at least as justifiably grouped as yours (humans and the hypothetical Big Designer in the Sky). And that any statistics applied on the basis of such a grouping is ridiculous. That’s the difference between predicting {behavior of Unknown Black American Voter’s from the known behavior of a large pool of black american voters}, and predicting EITHER {behavior of Big Designer(s) in the sky from known behavior of humans} OR {behavior of Leonardo da Vinci from known behavior of E. coli}. In the first case, the grouping was sensible. In the other two, though the grouping was done on the basis of perfectly valid dictionary definitions, it’s just not sensible.

Comment #25514

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 17, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Probable predictions. You know, what statisticians and pollsters do. The “political” part of the example is irrelevant. Are you not able to discriminate between the details and the form of an argument? And I think you need to look the word “tautology” up in the dictionary.

Perhaps you need to brush up on English grammar and usage. “Probable predictions” means that the act of prediction is probable, not that the basis of the prediction is probability. Of course “political” is irrelevant; it was used as an example. I am most certainly able to discern and identify the various parts of arguments, althought the task is made a bit more difficult when, for example, the arguer uses tautology and defends it by accusing the opponent of not knowing what “tautology” means.

Michael Finley wrote:

The definition of “intelligence” I am using is the garden-variety one of everyday English. If you have another to offer for non-human subjects, please define it. If you can’t, then there’s no reason to suppose there is another definition. Put up, or shut up.

But that’s the whole point, ain’t it, Mikey? I can, for an unknown, non-human designer, define “intelligence” however I want to, because we have no way of knowing whether the garden variety is apropos. So my designer is capable of producing designs that bear no resemblance to one another whatsoever, and which leave no clues as to the nature of the designer. My designer also has something that resembles hair, but it’s sort of pinkish and has the consistency of spaghetti cooked al dente. Who on earth could have made a “probable prediction” of such a thing?

Comment #25519

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 11:02 PM (e)

Jim Wynne wrote:

Perhaps you need to brush up on English grammar and usage. “Probable predictions” means that the act of prediction is probable, not that the basis of the prediction is probability.

Well, if you were to open up your grammar book you’d learn that “prediction” can mean the activity or the result of the activity, i.e., the act of predicting or that which is predicted. Thus, a “probable prediction” under the latter sense means the probability of that which is predicted. Isn’t grammar fun.

…the task is made a bit more difficult when, for example, the arguer uses tautology and defends it by accusing the opponent of not knowing what “tautology” means.

Perhaps you could reassure me of your grasp of vocabulary by outlining my use of tautology.

I can, for an unknown, non-human designer, define “intelligence” however I want to, because we have no way of knowing whether the garden variety is apropos.

Excellent. As you can see, I am on the side of the actual meanings of words, while you are making up meanings as you go. Seems to me this is just the kind of move you chide “creationists” for making. Enjoy.

Comment #25520

Posted by Michael Finley on April 17, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

I suspect there’s some technical philosophical definition of “equivocate” that I’m not quite catching here, in which case I’d be grateful for enlightenment.

Not so much a “philosophical definition” as a “basic logical definition.” A word is equivocal, if it has two or more distinct meanings. The English word “bark,” for example, can mean “the tough outer surface of a tree” and “a noise a dog makes.” Equivocation, the noun form of the above adjective, is the use of the distinct meanings of a word in the same context. Equivocation can be exploited in an argument producing what logicians call the informal fallacy of equivocation.

Consider the following uses of “produce”: “Russell produced an excellent term paper,” and “Russell produced several pounds of solid waste.” Leaving aside the quality of your writing, it should be clear that these two senses of “produce” have distinct meanings.

Now, in fairness, your equivocation is not a complete equivocation. The two senses share a basic underlying meaning, something like “effects” (verb). When two terms are equivocal, but share a basic underlying meaning, they are called analogical. Nonetheless, for the purposes of discussing the “products” of intelligent design, the difference between the two is significant.

Comment #25529

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 18, 2005 1:24 AM (e)

Finley

As you can see, I am on the side of the actual meanings of words, while you are making up meanings as you go.

So what does “impossible” mean, Finley?

You used that term in your statement that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

You were asked to explain this strange statement, given a reasonable conjecture about the nature of the alleged designers which I wrote for you in about two seconds without thinking very hard at all.

But instead of explaining your strange statement, you dissembled and tossed a few insults our way.

Is this some odd form of religious expression, Finley?

Many religions have unusual rituals which baffle those of other persuasions. Perhaps patently dishonest trolling is a rite of passage or an initiation ritual for a cult you’ve fallen into. That would explain a lot.

Comment #25531

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 1:46 AM (e)

qetzal wrote:

If you seriously believe that your approach and conclusions are valid, please explain what’s wrong with mine. Did I misapply your approach? If so, how?

My apologies. It’s easy to lose your place when you’re replying to numerous people at the same time.

Your example can be simplified and made isomorphic with mine as follows: 100% of known intelligent designers cannot specially create the diversity of life on planet Earth, therefore, there is a 100% probability that an unknown intelligent designer cannot specially create the diversity of life on planet Earth.

I think I want to concede the point, and then claim that it is negated hypothetically. My hypothesis is that “an unknown intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.” Implicit in the hypothesis is that the intelligent designer be capable of specially creating the diversity of life on planet Earth (an implication that could be made explicit). This is somewhat ad hoc, but so are most hypotheses (cf. the constant speed of light).

Thus, the question is, given my hypothesis, what can be expected to follow?

Comment #25532

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 18, 2005 1:50 AM (e)

“Thus, the question is, given my hypothesis, what can be expected to follow?”

by far the more interesting question would be:

“what WOULDN’T be expected to follow?”

which is what i am sure several of the participants here have tried to make clear at one point or another.

Comment #25533

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 1:56 AM (e)

Great White Wonder,

You nailed it. This is my initiation, but not to a cult. I’m being hazed into posting on Panda’s Thumb. Some fraternities force pledges to drink alot, mine makes you argue incessantly about evolution on the internet. We’re wild baby.

As for my comments about the nature of the designer, you’ll notice (…well, maybe not you) that I did allow for the intelligent designer to be intelligent and a designer. Shocking isn’t it. And since those are the only traits I’ve been discussing, I’ve been true to my word.

Comment #25536

Posted by PaulP on April 18, 2005 3:08 AM (e)

To Michael Finley:

You are too busy decorating the 100th floor of your intellectual edifice to notice that you forgot to build the foundations properly.

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor. If you can explain something with a theory that makes assumptions a b and c then there is no reason to introduce assumption d. Ockham’s Razor says get rid of d, not for aesthetic reasons but simply because all assumptions must have evidence to support them. And any evidence that supports your theory does not support d.

We are not asking you to win the game, merely to play by the rules. But then you once accused science of committing the fallacy of “affirming the consequent”. So we have evidence you do not understand the game you are trying to play.

Comment #25538

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 18, 2005 3:16 AM (e)

Finley

You are dissembling again.

What does “impossible” mean, Finley?

You used that term in your statement that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

What does “impossible” mean?

Feel free to simply apologize for your error if you wish to use another term besides “impossible” Finley. That is what most adults would do under the circumstances. Strangely, you seem to enjoy pretending that you never made certain statements – a mundane form of lying (especially among trolls here, as you’ve surely noted).

Ironically, Finley, when you apologize quickly and admit your errors, you’ll discover something fascinating: we’ll forgive you! Let me know if you are wise enough to appreciate the irony.

My hypothesis is that “an unknown intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.” Implicit in the hypothesis is that the intelligent designer be capable of specially creating the diversity of life on planet Earth (an implication that could be made explicit)

What other features of the designers are implicit in your “hypothesis” Finley? If you’ve determined that no other features may be reasonably implied, than can you explain to us how you arrived at that determination?

We’re waiting anxiously for you to explain or retract (and apologize for wasting so much time). Among the most anxious among us is a certain Bill Dembski … do the right thing and help Bill out. Teach Bill how adults behave under these circumstances, Finley.

Comment #25543

Posted by GCT on April 18, 2005 6:19 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Look. I’m using a well-established inductive argument form: If x percent of group y possesses property z, then there is an x percent probability that an unknown member of group y possesses property z.

Sorry Michael, I took the weekend off. But, let me jump back in here if I may. The above quote is NOT what you are doing.

What are you doing is saying If x percent of group y possesses property z, then there is an x percent probability that an unknown member of group w possesses property z. Group w has group y as a subset, but you specify that you are picking a member of group w that is NOT in y, and you also don’t know the sample size of group w or anything else about it outside of group y. That’s why my voting analogy worked, which you never responded to.

In your example, African American voters are group y. They are a subset of group w, which is American voters. Group y has a 90% probability of voting Democrat, so if you select from group y, you have a 90% probability of selecting someone who voted Democrat in the last election. If you try to apply that same logic to group w, however, you will find that you really have less than 50% chance of finding a Democratic voter. It’s because you tried to impute the values of subset y on the entire group w, which you can not do.

Try this on for size. You ask me 10 times to choose a number. I give you the following numbers 1, 3, -5, 2, 9, 8, 6, 7, 4, 10. 90% of the time I choose single digit numbers. 90% of the time I choose positive numbers. If you were to ask me again, you might be pretty confident that I would once again choose a positive single digit number. Now, ask GWW for a number, and you might get -834.343. Did you have any reason to believe that GWW would give you a positive single digit number? Ask Bill Dembski and you might get “CSI.” Ask your intelligent designer and you might get the universe. Again, was there anything in the statistics of my behavior that would lead you to believe that GWW, Bill Dembski, or the Intelligent Designer would follow the same behavior as me?

Comment #25545

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 18, 2005 7:10 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #25547

Posted by Russell on April 18, 2005 7:44 AM (e)

Finley: thanks for the disquisition on “equivocal”, and for the concession that that fallacy doesn’t particularly apply in my example.

Products = things the referenced creature makes.

So far as I can tell, my parallel remains a good one. Moreover, you confirm my suspicions with

If you reject the above argument form, you reject the science of statistics along with it. Therefore, assuming you accept the above argument form, it is up to you to demonstrate why I cannot use it for the values y = “intelligent designers,” and z = “produces products similar to each other.”

since this is an exercise I regularly engage in.

Look.
Group Y = mammals
Z= weight of mammals (all mammals have weight)
Observation: of the mammals I weigh, the average weight is 25 grams +/- 5 grams standard deviation. (The fact the only mammals at my disposal are mice, of course, is completely beside the point)
Straightforward conclusion: the weight of an elephant has about a 65% chance of being between 20 and 30 grams. QED

(Incidentally, I think I just proved that elephants are almost certainly lighter than air. I think someone should notify the FAA)

Comment #25551

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 8:41 AM (e)

Mr. Finley:

Your inductive logic leads us to an inescapable conclusion:

Since 100% of known intelligent designers are human beings, there is a 100% probability that any unknown intelligent designer is also a human being.

(In your words, if all known elements of set y “intelligent designers” share property z “being human”, we can assume that any unknown element of set y will also share property z).

Therefore, your hypothesis means that someone among us is/was capable of creating the wealth of life on Earth.

Simple, elegant…

Comment #25555

Posted by Russell on April 18, 2005 9:10 AM (e)

Aureola Nominee:

Your inductive logic leads us to an inescapable conclusion: Since 100% of known intelligent designers are human beings, there is a 100% probability that any unknown intelligent designer is also a human being.

Unfortunately for Mr. Finley, however, Charlie Wagner proved that first, so when the Nobel committee recognizes the impact of the discovery, it won’t be a shared prize.

Comment #25559

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 18, 2005 9:42 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

Perhaps you could reassure me of your grasp of vocabulary by outlining my use of tautology.

My initial reaction was to not dignify this with a response, but perhaps you actually don’t understand. Perhaps a simpler image will help: you want to have your cake and eat it too. You argument requires the designer’s abilities to be defined in terms of our own naturalistic expectations and denotations. You contend that knowledge of our own three-dimensional designs is adequate for identifying intentional design, regardless of whether the designer is known to operate under earthly constraints. Thus your hypothesis is true if and only if your assumption is true. And when you define the terms of your argument such that your argument will always be true…

Michael Finley wrote:

I am on the side of the actual meanings of words, while you are making up meanings as you go

Not at all. I’m just not so arrogant as to assume that I can project my understanding of intelligence onto an entity for which the standard definition, by definition, might not apply. And I’m certainly not arrogant enough to believe that a transparently lame logical construction such as the one you propose could be some sort of “Eureka!” moment.

Comment #25562

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 9:59 AM (e)

PaulP wrote:

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor.

I’m afraid it’s you who do not understand Ockham’s Razor. It cannot be justified; if you doubt it, go ahead and try. Justify it.

But then you once accused science of committing the fallacy of “affirming the consequent”. So we have evidence you do not understand the game you are trying to play.

No. Someone accused me of affirming the consequent, and I said “I am no more guilty of it than science generally,” i.e., if I was guilty of it, then so was science.

Comment #25564

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #25566

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

Since 100% of known intelligent designers are human beings, there is a 100% probability that any unknown intelligent designer is also a human being.

See my response to qetzal. I can get around problems such as this by modifying my hypothesis.

Comment #25567

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 10:14 AM (e)

Jim Wynne,

If it’s tautological to stick with the actual meanings of words, then we’re all in trouble. It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours. I didn’t define intelligence, generations of English speakers did. Thus, to claim that I have stacked the deck in my favor by using meanings of words that support my conclusions is to misassign the blame. Webster is the real culprit here.

Comment #25569

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 18, 2005 10:29 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours.

And yet you seem to want to create a new denotation for “tautology”; one that also works in your favor. If there’s anything to be gained from this exchange it’s my own solace in the knowledge that even a person as bright as you can’t get out of his own way when it comes to defense of ID.

Comment #25572

Posted by Jim Wynne on April 18, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours.

And yet you apparently want to change the meaning of “tautology” so that it also works in your favor. Your arguments have no substance and essentially no meaning beyond that which you choose to invent for them.

Comment #25574

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 10:40 AM (e)

Mr. Finley:

I’ve seen your reply. It doesn’t address the core problem.

What makes property z “being human” not applicable to the known portion of set y “intelligent designers”?

If one property of the known portion of set y does not apply to the unknown portion, how do you propose to claim that any other property instead applies?

In other words: you are trying the desperate deed of determining the shared properties of set y by eliminating those pertaining only to the known subset.

Don’t you see that this is self-defeating? Since all properties of set y are determined by examining only its known subset, once you do the subtraction you are left with nothing.

Comment #25575

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

Typo correction:

What makes property z “being human” not applicable to the unknown portion of set y “intelligent designers”?

Comment #25587

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

wrote:

Don’t you see that this is self-defeating? Since all properties of set y are determined by examining only its known subset, once you do the subtraction you are left with nothing.

Indeed. The “qetzal problem” is potentially fatal for my latest attempt. I’ve been puzzling over it for a couple of days now.

Initially, I had wanted to answer by invoking some sort of inherent/accidental property distinction, but that takes me away from the appeal of the statistical approach, viz., that I don’t have to worry about metaphysical concerns. - If I could make the argument on strictly metaphysical grounds (my earlier attempt failed; see previous thread), I’d have no need of probabilities. In other words, the statistical approach was the way to get off the metaphysical hook, so I can’t defend it by appealing to metaphysical criteria.

The answer I arrived at was simply to concede the point (and all related points with it, which you’ve subsequently generalized), and then dispense with it by defining it away. I am able to do this by making certain changes to my hypothesis.

For example, with respect to the “qetzal problem,” I could simply admit that “It follows that no intelligent designers could specially create….”, but reply “What if, ex hypothesi, we set that aside and consider an intelligent designer that could specially create, etc. What would follow from that?” And then I could use my argument to make probable predictions.

This works, but it’s a technical dodge, and as such, I’m not satisfied with it. Let me mull it over some more, and get back to you. As it stands, however, I’ll count this as strike two.

Comment #25591

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 12:02 PM (e)

Mr. Finley:

Your revised hypothesis makes any attempt at defining your Special-Creation-Capable Intelligent Designer(s) in terms of what non-SCCIDs are and can do doomed from start.

Your unknown subset of y already has, ex hypothesi, at least one property (“special-creation-capability”) that no element of the known subset of y possesses. Therefore, whenever you come out with a property shared by every non-SCCID, this tells us exactly nothing about any eventual SCCIDs.

Example 1: “All non-SCCIDs eventually die.”
Does this tells us anything about your hypothetical SCCIDs?

Example 2: “All non-SCCIDs make mistakes.”
Does this tells us anything about your hypothetical SCCIDs?

…and so on and so forth. I’m sure you can come out with dozens of similar examples without my help.

Comment #25592

Posted by Russell on April 18, 2005 12:09 PM (e)

My opinion of Mr. Finley just rose.

Let me point out, by the way, that the “qetzal problem” - so far as I can tell - is one that A. Nominee, GCT, and I have also been hammering away at. Perhaps qetzal managed to phrase it more transparently.

Comment #25597

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

Aureola Nominee wrote:

Therefore, whenever you come out with a property shared by every non-SCCID, this tells us exactly nothing about any eventual SCCIDs.

Actually, this is not an issue. I could hypothetically separate the properties of “intelligence” and “designer” from every other propery possessed by human beings. The group “human beings,” then, would only be relevant qua intelligent designers. But, as I admitted above, this is an ad hoc solution, and I am not advocating it.

Comment #25598

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 12:38 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

…the “qetzal problem” - so far as I can tell - is one that A. Nominee, GCT, and I have also been hammering away at.

I don’t think that it is (though it’s possible I misread you). You, Mr. Nominee and GCT (to the extent that you were not also seconding qetzal’s example), were arguing that the application of “intelligence” and “designer” beyond the group “human beings” was illicit. While qetzal assumed, for argument sake, that my approach was valid and then proceeded to use it against me.

Comment #25599

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 18, 2005 12:40 PM (e)

Finley

You need to acquaint yourself with the notion of a qualification.

Actually I’m familiar with the notion, Finley.

You need to acquaint yourself with the notion of accepting responsibility for your errors.

So: what does “impossible” mean, Finley (regardless of any alleged “qualifications” you made, which you are evidently too lazy to explain).

You used that term in your statement that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

Also, you wrote

My hypothesis is that “an unknown intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.” Implicit in the hypothesis is that the intelligent designer be capable of specially creating the diversity of life on planet Earth

What other features of the designers are implicit in your “hypothesis” Finley? If you’ve determined that no other features may be reasonably implied, than can you explain to us how you arrived at that determination?

You are really stinking up this place, Finley, with your lying, your despicable pride and your incoherent arrogant wanking. Let’s see if you are mature enough to do the right thing.

Comment #25600

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Mr. Finley:

No, you couldn’t. Intelligence qua intelligence hasn’t been shown to exist; you cannot dodge the fact that the only intelligent anything we know are human beings. Actually, it is even worse than that: intelligence is defined on the basis of human beings!

The same goes for “being a designer”; the only designers we know are human beings, and even worse than that, design is defined on the basis of what human beings do.

Now, to be fastidious about details, both intelligence and design have also been ascribed, historically, to anthropomorphic deities… and we all know what anthropomorphic means, don’t we?

Comment #25602

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

Mr. Finley:

You, Mr. Nominee and GCT (to the extent that you were not also seconding qetzal’s example), were arguing that the application of “intelligence” and “designer” beyond the group “human beings” was illicit. While qetzal assumed, for argument sake, that my approach was valid and then proceeded to use it against me.

Hmmm… I think you should go back and reread those posts.

Fact is, you impaled yourself on the horns of a dilemma, Mr. Finley:

either we accept your premise about the analogy between known and unknown intelligent designers (and show that it leads to all sorts of implications that you patently dislike);

or we accept your other premise that unknown intelligent designers are somehow distinct from known intelligent designers (and show that this leads to the impossibility of inferring anything at all about the former from the properties of the latter).

As you can see, all the arguments raised by qetzal, Russell, GCT and myself are mere variations on this theme.

Comment #25612

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

As you can see, all the arguments raised by qetzal, Russell, GCT and myself are mere variations on this theme.

What I can see is that you disjoined your argument with qetzal’s, called it a dilemma, and thereby associated you’re completely distinct argument with the “qetzal problem” (it’s got a nice ring to it, no?). In essence, you’ve made the trivial observation that any two things, no matter how different, have their disjunction in common. Calling it a dilemma accomplishes nothing.

But why do you care? I’ve conceded defeat. Isn’t that enough, or do you need to credit yourself with it?

Comment #25614

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 1:57 PM (e)

Great White Wonder,

You admit to knowing what a qualification is, and that I made such qualifications, but are attempting to deny me the benefit of the qualifications. Forgive me I don’t play along.

Comment #25615

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 2:01 PM (e)

Mr. Finley:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000958.html#c25551

Please, think before you speak. I had told you to re-read the posts.

Comment #25620

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 18, 2005 2:52 PM (e)

Finley

You admit to knowing what a qualification is, and that I made such qualifications, but are attempting to deny me the benefit of the qualifications.

Another lie. How low will you go Finley, on behalf of your master? To what depths will your arrogance and pride take you?

No one here has denied you anything. On the contrary, you’ve been given more credit than you deserved.

You stated that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

That is the truth, Finley.

Do you deny this truth, Finley, as other infamous deniers have denied equally plain truths?

If so, then you are a liar.

If not, then please explain yourself. Please explain why it is impossible to to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

And please explain why you’re so anxious to dodge this simple question regarding phrases which fell from your own lips like so many chips from a cow’s behind.

I’m quite certain I know the explanation, Finley. But I’m curious as to whether you possess the courage to provide us the answer in your own words.

Comment #25622

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

Aureola Nominee,

In the linked comment you’re simply presenting a variation of qetzal’s example many posts after the original. Way to go.

Comment #25623

Posted by Michael Finley on April 18, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

Great White Wonder wrote:

How low will you go Finley…?

By conversing with you as long as I have I’m dredging the depths. I’ll leave you at the bottom for now.

Comment #25625

Posted by frank schmidt on April 18, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

Michael Finley, you may wish to read several of Elliott Sober’s papers on the subject of the Design Argument, and other aspects of probabilistic reasoning.

On the other hand, let me congratulate you in all sincerity on being the first anti-evolutionist I remember on this forum to actually admit that his arguments didn’t hold! This sort of honesty is all too lacking in IDC-ers.

Comment #25626

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 18, 2005 3:22 PM (e)

Mr. Finley:

Apologies accepted.

Comment #25627

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 18, 2005 3:28 PM (e)

“This sort of honesty is all too lacking in IDC-ers”

I don’t think he is one! more’s the humor.

Comment #25628

Posted by Great White Wonder on April 18, 2005 3:31 PM (e)

By conversing with you as long as I have I’m dredging the depths. I’ll leave you at the bottom for now.

A conversation requires two participants, Finley. You weren’t conversing with anyone. You were running away from the obvious issues raised by your poorly articulated “hypotheses” and, in the process, doing your best to kick up a choking cloud of dust.

This last insult of your is only the latest many, Finley. Truly it is a small man who wastes so much of others’ time yet cannot bring himself to apologize afterwards. How pathetic.

Comment #25646

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 18, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

Indeed. The “qetzal problem” is potentially fatal for my latest attempt. I’ve been puzzling over it for a couple of days now.

Initially, I had wanted to answer by invoking some sort of inherent/accidental property distinction, but that takes me away from the appeal of the statistical approach, viz., that I don’t have to worry about metaphysical concerns. - If I could make the argument on strictly metaphysical grounds (my earlier attempt failed; see previous thread), I’d have no need of probabilities. In other words, the statistical approach was the way to get off the metaphysical hook, so I can’t defend it by appealing to metaphysical criteria.

The answer I arrived at was simply to concede the point (and all related points with it, which you’ve subsequently generalized), and then dispense with it by defining it away. I am able to do this by making certain changes to my hypothesis.

For example, with respect to the “qetzal problem,” I could simply admit that “It follows that no intelligent designers could specially create ….”, but reply “What if, ex hypothesi, we set that aside and consider an intelligent designer that could specially create, etc. What would follow from that?” And then I could use my argument to make probable predictions.

This works, but it’s a technical dodge, and as such, I’m not satisfied with it. Let me mull it over some more, and get back to you. As it stands, however, I’ll count this as strike two.

Ya know, even an earthworm can learn from previous experiences …. .

Comment #25668

Posted by Ruthless on April 18, 2005 11:37 PM (e)

Regarding the moderator, Russ Nieli:
This is the first page google came up with for his name in quotes:
http://www.princeton.edu/~wildberg/Bios/BioNieli.html

Hmmm. A white supremecist as a moderator? Genius.

Comment #25671

Posted by PaulP on April 19, 2005 1:22 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

I’m afraid it’s you who do not understand Ockham’s Razor. It cannot be justified; if you doubt it, go ahead and try. Justify it.

I already did, if you had bothered to read my post:

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor. If you can explain something with a theory that makes assumptions a b and c then there is no reason to introduce assumption d. Ockham’s Razor says get rid of d, not for aesthetic reasons but simply because all assumptions must have evidence to support them. And any evidence that supports your theory does not support d.

I am asking you, again, to justify why we should have another theory. I have given you two possible reasons: either the new thoery gives more accurate predictions or is conceptually simpler. Which is it?

Comment #25672

Posted by PaulP127 on April 19, 2005 1:29 AM (e)

Michael Finley wrote:

I’m afraid it’s you who do not understand Ockham’s Razor. It cannot be justified; if you doubt it, go ahead and try. Justify it.

I already did, if you had bothered to read my post:

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor. If you can explain something with a theory that makes assumptions a b and c then there is no reason to introduce assumption d. Ockham’s Razor says get rid of d, not for aesthetic reasons but simply because all assumptions must have evidence to support them. And any evidence that supports your theory does not support d.

I am asking you, again, to justify why we should have another theory. I have given you two possible reasons: either the new thoery gives more accurate predictions or is conceptually simpler. Which is it?

Comment #25680

Posted by GCT on April 19, 2005 5:23 AM (e)

Ruthless wrote:

Hmmm. A white supremecist as a moderator? Genius.

Um, was this said tongue in cheek? The only thing I saw was that he was an editor of a book on “White nationalism,” and all the reviews I’ve seen said that he offered a counter-view to that espoused by the white supremecists.