Mark Perakh posted Entry 1365 on August 18, 2005 09:21 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1363

I don’t read the stuff posted on Dembski’s sites for an obvious reason – I don’t expect to see anything there of substance and interest. However, I received emails from Dave Mullenix and Steve Verdon, who have quoted in their emails Dembski’s post, where he supposedly “replied” to my post titled “Skeptic on Dembski” placed on Panda’s Thumb (see here) and TalkReason (see here). This made me look up Dembski’s site to verify the quotes sent by Dave and Steve.

Here is the full text of Dembski’s post:

The Boris Yeltsin of Higher Learning

Mark Perakh, the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning, has weighed in with yet another screed against me (go here). The man is out of his element. I’m still awaiting his detailed critique of “Searching Large Spaces” - does he even understand the relevant math?

It is a perfect confirmation that I was fully justified in writing the essay “Skeptic on Dembski.” Typical Dembski: not a single word about the substance of my critique, and instead an assault on my qualifications. That is the same device he used when “replying” to Wein, Matzke, Tellgren, and others, avoiding the substance of critique but asserting the supposed insufficient qualifications of his critics. What else could be expected from Dembski whose supercilious self-assurance of being way above his critics has been well documented? How about saying something, for a change, about the substance of critique of his hackneyed “theories”? For example, how about reading my paper in Skeptic, v.11, No 4 and offering some replies to critique? I am not holding my breath.

Dembski’s demand that I discuss his mathematics is laughable. I have never promised such a discussion and never intended to engage in it, so why is Dembski “awaiting” my delving into his mathematical exercise? What math does he want to discuss? That which was dismissed in the math department of a Danish university?

The crucial fact is that his math is utterly irrelevant to both evolution theory and intelligent design so there is nothing to discuss insofar as these two subjects are in question, and I have quite clearly pointed to that fact in my post (see here). Moreover, Cosma Shalizi, David Wilson, David Wolpert, and Tom English, all four real experts, have said something about Dembski’s math and it was not very flattering. What else needs to be discussed regarding the piles of mathematical symbols in Dembski’s production? (See also the comment by mathematician Jason Rosenhouse (here).

Now Dembski attempts to be witty by calling me the “Boris Yeltsin of higher learning.” Very funny indeed. What is this preposterous appellation supposed to imply? It demonstrates that Dembski not only is not very good at science and math, but also that he is equally not very good at humor, even in “plain English.”

While verifying the quotes sent by Dave and Steve, I noticed a few other comments on Dembski’s site. While Dembski promptly deletes from his site any comment he does not like (which contrasts with how Panda’s Thumb behaves), he allows posting of libelous pieces like the comment alleging that I have not published as many papers as I claim. Perhaps I can briefly clarify some of the points related to this question for those readers who may be confused by the libelous comment on Dembski’s site. About half of my papers were published in Russian before 1973 (but most were later translated into English, as the Russian scientific journals all were translated in full, albeit with a delay). In all these Russian papers my name was spelled as M. Ya. Popereka (I changed my name in 1974). Still, a Google search does not show many of those papers. For example, I tried to find on Google a paper by myself and V. Balagurov on negative Poisson ratio. When searching by my name, I did not find it. However, when I searched for “negative Poisson ratio” it was right there (published in 1969).

When I was emigrating from the USSR, I was not allowed to take with me many of my documents and reprints of my papers. When already beyond the borders of the USSR, I had to recompile my list of publications and patents (in the Soviet parlance, “author’s certificates”) in 1973 from memory and therefore the list probably missed some items published in the fifties and sixties. Therefore I am not sure what the exact count of my published articles is, but I am confident it is close to 300 (perhaps some ten or fifteen items fewer than 300).

As Professor Andrea Bottaro has informed me, his search of ISI database for “Popereka M or Perakh M” revealed 111 of my publications, which, although showing the falsity of the libelous comment on Dembski’site, is still just a fraction of my entire published output. It is well known that in the fifties and the sixties (I published my first scientific paper in 1949) publications in Russian were often not duly referred to in the West (the situation started gradually changing after the USSR launched Sputnik - the first artificial satellite).

The last time I updated my list of publications was in 1985, when I applied for a position at CSUF. It already contained well over 200 items.

Indeed, I have not been active in research in recent years, but this does not change the fact that when I was not yet as old as I am now I published hundreds of articles and several books, and was granted a number of patents (most of them in the USSR). Instead, I have been recently active in debunking the nonsense propagated by pseudo-scientists which I believe is, although not very rewarding, a necessary activity.

Back to Dembski’s “reply” to my post. It speaks for itself and supports once again the statements I made in the “Skeptic on Dembski” post.

PS. In the same comment on Dembski’s site where its author alleges that I don’t have to my credit all those publications I claimed, he also asserts that I got only one degree from some Soviet institution and therefore it is not a good one, as the USSR has lost the cold war allegedly because its science was not on a par with that of the USA.

First, I have two doctoral degrees, one from the Odessa Polytechnic Institute (in 1949) and the other from the Kazan Institute of Technology (in 1967).

Odessa is also the place whence came Sikorsky, who, upon emigration to the USA, became the famous inventor of a helicopter. Kazan is the place where, among other things, the first of the known resonances in solids (the electron paramagnetic resonance) was discovered (by Zavojski in 1939). In 1942 Rabi in the USA, following in Zavojski’s footsteps, discovered nuclear magnetic resonance and was awarded the Nobel prize. Zavojski did not get it, despite his pioneering work. Zavojski shared the fate of some other Russian scientific pioneers (like Gamow) who never got the Nobel, while their followers in the West did. I see no reason to be ashamed of getting my degrees from these two fine institutions. On the other hand, the author of popular books allegedly reconciling the biblical story with science, Gerald Schroeder, who got his PhD degree from MIT, wrote in one of his books that masers emit atoms and that weight and mass are the same. Perhaps this is a sign of a superior status of degrees in this country as compared with the former USSR?

In a more general respect, the derogative remark in a comment on Dembski’s site about the alleged lower status of Russian science speaks a lot about either the comment writer’s ignorance or his deliberate distortions.

Were it not scientists in the USSR who went into space ahead of any other country including the USA? Have the comments’ writers to Dembski’s site never heard the names of such mathematicians as Lobachevsky, Chebyshev, Markov, Pontryagin, Kolmogorov, Kantorovich, Lyapunov, etc., etc., etc.? Or such physicists as Landau, Tamm, Basov, Prokhorov, Alferov, Mandelstam, Ginsburg, Frank, etc. etc., etc.? Or biologists such as Vavilov, Dobzhanski, (who came to the USA from Russia), Oparin, and many others? Or chemists like Frumkin or Chichibabin? Second rate science indeed. Nothing is wrong with my degrees, regardless of how much Dembski and his comments’ writers may wish it to be otherwise.

After the collapse of the USSR, thousands of scientists moved from the USSR to the West (many of them to the USA) where they were met with open arms in scores of universities and research centers because of their excellent credentials. As far as I know, Dembski’s status as a scientist is rather far from equaling that of those “inferior” scientists from the former USSR.

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 #43707

Posted by Flint on August 18, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

More of the same, of course. Dembski’s math is basically irrelevant, but the critiques of his approach are valid and he knows it. How can he address these critiques honestly? Clearly, he can’t.

So how can he most plausibly dodge them? The easiest way is to ignore them. Where they are difficult to ignore, the easiest way is to dismiss their authors as not qualified to make them.

But what if those who write the critiques ARE fully qualified? Simple. He lies. It’s not like his target audience will ever bother with the math anyway.

Comment #43708

Posted by GCT on August 18, 2005 10:25 AM (e)

The worst part about it to me though is that Dembski and DaveScot have no room to play the “not fully qualified” card.

Comment #43710

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 18, 2005 10:32 AM (e)

Mark, you have nothing to defend or apologize for; the rigor and reason in your book, “Unintelligent Design,” speaks for itself.

The thing is, when I see Dembski’s attempts to make a case for his explanatory filter or no free lunch “application” or whatever, I just marvel that they can be taken seriously at all. I am horrible at maths and duly hate them, so perhaps I am the wrong person to comment, because I know that intuition is no proof of anything. But in reading Dembski’s efforts to create a math defense of ID, I get the strong intuition that there is no “there” there. He seems merely to be assigning values to things that cannot be known, then fabricating conclusions on the basis of presuppositions. I don’t know if certain areas of math allow for this (I suppose Bayesian theorems might come close?), but to the lay reader, it just looks like an exercise in trying to dazzle, and thereby baffle, people like me with symbols and double-talk. This would seem to be the opposite of what serious science ought to be doing. Can someone please explain to me why Dembski’s claims, which appear unfounded on their face, seem to be so hard to knock down and keep down in public opinion? Is it just that people want so badly for him (and Behe and other quacks) to be right, or is there something more to it than that–such as, the explanation of why they are wrong being simply too sophisticated for average people to grasp, while expression of the falsehood is more easily apprehended?

Comment #43711

Posted by Matt Young on August 18, 2005 10:49 AM (e)

Professor Dembski’s reference to the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning may be attempt to remind us of his own supposed status as the Isaac Newton of information theory.

Newton, however, invented the calculus. The Isaac Newton of information theory is Claude Shannon.

Comment #43712

Posted by Dark Matter on August 18, 2005 11:00 AM (e)

Mark Perakh wrote:

Typical Dembski: not a single word about the substance of my critique, and instead an assault on my qualifications. That is the same device he used when “replying” to Wein, Matzke, Tellgren, and others, avoiding the substance of critique but asserting the supposed insufficient qualifications of his critics. What else could be expected from Dembski whose supercilious self-assurance of being way above his critics has been well documented? How about saying something, for a change, about the substance of critique of his hackneyed “theories”?

(Later…..)

While Dembski promptly deletes from his site any comment he does not like (which contrasts with how Panda’s Thumb behaves), he allows posting of libelous pieces like the comment alleging that I have not published as many papers as I claim.

If it walks like a Scientologist, talks like a Scientologist and *litigates* like a Scientologist….….….….….……

From “Scientology’s attitude to criticism”, a site critical of Scientology:
http://www.xenu.net/archive/go/philosop.htm

“Attackers are simply an anti-Scientology propaganda agency so far as we are concerned. They have proven they want no facts and will only lie no matter what they discover. So BANISH all ideas that any fair hearing is intended and start our attack with their first breath. Never wait. Never talk about us - only them. Use their blood, sex, crime to get headlines. Don’t use us.

I speak from 15 years of experience in this There has never yet been an attacker who was not reeking with crime. All we had to do was look for it and murder would come out.

They fear our Meter. They fear freedom. They fear the way we are growing. Why?

Because they have too much to hide.”

[Hubbard, “Attacks on Scientology”, HCO Policy Letter of 15 Feb 1966]

These ID people are worse than a pack of Scientology lawyers.

Comment #43717

Posted by Hoopman on August 18, 2005 11:33 AM (e)

GCT said, “The worst part about it to me though is that Dembski and DaveScot have no room to play the “not fully qualified” card.”

Kind of reminds me of the creationist claim of “the many gaps in the fossils record”… while having no “record” of anything supporting their own beliefs.

Logically, then, they wouldn’t want to talk about that, and focus instead on the so-called “gaps” which they can claim until the end of time because, as has been pointed out by those brighter than me, every new transitional fossil simply creates a new “gap”.

It can all seem very frustrating. Why, one wonders, do we still have the same ridiculous arguments 150 years after Darwin? But understand that 150 years is really nothing. And in the end, truth prevails. Rather than getting into name calling with creationists, just keep doing the science. It speaks for itself. Don’t suppose for a minute that the world accepted the notion that the earth was spherical or that it was not the center of the universe until hundreds of years after these things were first observed by scientific minds.

Comment #43719

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 18, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

“…when I was not yet as old as I am now…”

Pardon me for going a bit off topic, but I am unfamiliar with this interesting euphemism for “younger”. Is this what you meant to say, or is it simply a turn of phrase that I haven’t encoutered before? I must admit, it did take me aback for a moment. No criticism intended, just curious…

Comment #43724

Posted by fusilier on August 18, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

I seem to recall television images of Boris Yeltsin, then the mayor of Moscow, standing on an armored fighting vehicle, sometime in 1989. Unless I am mistaken, he was demanding that the old-line Communists who were trying to overthrow Gorbachev’s ‘perestroika’ reforms surrender to the populace.

There are worse people to be compared to.

Comment #43725

Posted by Hyperion on August 18, 2005 12:17 PM (e)

I’m a bit confused as to why Dembski seems to feel that comparing someone to Boris Yeltsin is an insult. Yeltsin was the first (some would say only) democratically elected Russian leader. Like Gorbechev before him, he led his country through very difficult times. Yes, appointing Putin was probably his dumbest move, but aside from that and his penchant for vodka, he really was a remarkable man.

My guess is that Dembski may know even less about politics than he does about science.

Comment #43727

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 18, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

Here’s the nuts and bolts of the matter: Were Prof. Perakh to apply for federal funding, his vita would be an impressive spur to the reviewers to approve the funding.

Were Dembski to apply, he’d have to edit his vita to stay within the bounds of the laws governing federal funding for research.

Fusilier hs it exactly right. Yeltsin stopped the communist tanks from taking over (either ending or delaying the return of oppressive regimes, depending on one’s views of Putin).

What’s Dembski done, lately? What’s Dembski done, ever?

Comment #43728

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on August 18, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

I’ve posted about this a bit on Pharyngula.

This is a common “postmodernist” trick: bury one’s argument in endlessly verbose and very difficult to decypher cryptic text and then criticize you for not being sophisticated enough to decipher it. It’s also a tactic engaged in by mystics an occultists. “OOooooh… I can’t understand that… you must know the secrets of the universe! Can I be in your cult?”

Baloney.

This is a rejection of the essence of conceptual thought; the ability to *simplify* ideas.

Nobody on Earth has enough time to delve into every detail of every idea or hypothesis that is presented to them. If such a thing were required to form an educated opinion about something, then we would be bewildered drifters on a sea of uncertainty. But fortunately, we have the faculty of concept formation and conceptual thought. This enables very complex things to be reduced to *ideas* that can be communicated efficiently.

As I said on Pharyngula… if someone has something to say, they will say it. Nearly all ideas, even very sophisticated ones, can be explained *in essence* to a five year old. I have no problem explaining relativity, integrals, derivatives, evolution, the photoelectric effect, etc. to children or to people who have absolutely no background in the relevant subjects at all.

If the devil is in the details, then Dembski should respond by elucidating said devil more clearly. If he has already done this, he could simply provide a link or an article reference and say “go read this.”

What I have seen of Dembski’s argument makes it look like a hopeless canard that consists of nothing more than the overapplication of a theorem that applies to a certain class of computer search algorithms combined with a rehash of the old ‘first cause’ philosophical argument.

See: http://www.greythumb.com/Members/api/thoughts/first_lunch/document_view

When called out on this, Dembski says “you obviously don’t understand the math.” No Dembski. You, as the purveyor of this argument, are the teacher. We are the students. You must explain it to us.

I can’t stress this point enough: if he cannot elucidate, then there is nothing there. Period.

Hiding behind verbosity and complexity is a trick of the intellectual impostor.

One of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Things are often confounded and treated as the same, for no better reason than that they resemble each other, even while they are in their nature and character totally distinct and even directly opposed to each other. This jumbling up things is a sort of dust-throwing which is often indulged in by small men who argue for victory rather than for truth.”

- Frederick L. Douglas, from a speech on the unconstitutionality of slavery in Scotland in 1860.

This quote represents to me just how much intellectual honesty and subtilety we seem to have lost since the enlightenment era.

Comment #43729

Posted by PvM on August 18, 2005 12:22 PM (e)

Our dear friend Cordova is missing the sarcasm when he quote mines:

I should note, Jason Rosenhouse thinks your calculations are impeccable.

“As an exercise in formal mathematics the paper seems unobjectionable. I have never questioned Dembski’s ability to manipulate symbols in accordance with the rules of algebra and calculus.”

http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/08/dembski-and-perakh.html

Compare this with the what follows the quoted part

Rosenhouse wrote:

And that is where Dembski fails completely. He certainly has not modelled anything remotely like Darwinian evolution. His pride and joy, “The Displacement Theorem” (which he has immodestly dubbed The Fundamental Theorem of Intelligent Design), contains so many abstract symbols lacking real-world counterparts that there is no way to apply it in any biological context.

The fact is, Dembski’s recent series of technical mathematics papers exist for the sole purpose of providing a shield against would-be critics. You can see Dembski employing the strategy in his brief remarks above. Rather than respond to Perakh’s cogent arguments, he simply refers to his technical papers and says Perakh should be rpelying to them instead. It’s as if we’re supposed to ignore his seemingly endless output of popular-level tripe. No doubt if Perakh, or anyone else, does respond to Dembski’s papers, then Dembski will simply produce something new and say, “Now you must reply to this one.”

Dembski’s displacement theorem does not in any way further the argument he made in section 4.7 of No Free Lunch. He has simply translated the argument he made there into symbols. But an argument that is inane in everyday language remains inane when translated into math-ese.

Sal surely knows how to take the ‘grenade for Dembski’ but when it comes to supporting Dembski’s arguments he seems woefully ill equipped to do so.

Comment #43730

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 18, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

Besides being libelous, anti-Christian, and plain evil, Dembski latest attack reveals his appalling lack of regard once again for actual evidence and his preference for an authority beyond that proper to the evidence. He sounds like some unthinking twit pompously telling Galileo off for not delving deeply into Ptolemy’s epicycles in Galileo’s criticism of the appropriateness of epicycles for explaining retrograde motion.

Of course this is the game plan. The whole point of Dembski, and even mostly with the less appalling Behe, is to avoid the only sound conclusions that are possible from shared genetic data across related but highly divergent organisms. One has no real alternative to concluding that the bacterial flagellum inherited the information it shares with other organelles, and especially has no scientific basis for claiming that Darwin’s finches share inherited information based on comparison of shared information, while denying the same line of reasoning with regard to bacterial organs. Dembski wants us to forget this through his flim-flam and irrelevant mathematics, implicitly claiming a higher authority for math divorced from empiricism than the “authority” of the math which so ably shows inherited correlations where Dembski must claim these do not exist.

To the extent that Dembski is “honest” within his thoroughgoing lack of integrity (in the non-moral sense–he appears to be incapable of effecting an integration of intellect with his reactionary beliefs), he’s probably “honest” in faulting Perakh for not paying attention to the mathematics that he considers superior to the actual data and its normal scientific interpretation. He depends on his claim to a higher mathematical authority than the mere data showing shared ancestry among bacterial organelles, and by no means can he allow that this “authority” is in fact nonsense. Particularly because it is nonsense and it is bound to his ego, he has to strike out irrelevantly at anyone who does actual biology instead of doing Dembski’s scholastic side-step of the evidence.

Just another sorry episode showing how desperately anti-scientific such quackery is.

Comment #43731

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 18, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

“I seem to recall television images of Boris Yeltsin, then the mayor of Moscow, standing on an armored fighting vehicle, sometime in 1989. Unless I am mistaken, he was demanding that the old-line Communists who were trying to overthrow Gorbachev’s ‘perestroika’ reforms surrender to the populace.

There are worse people to be compared to.”

Fusilier (above) and Hyperion note the admirable qualities of Yeltsin, but one supposes the drunkenness of Yeltsin at times explains the otherwise unfathomable comparison. Anyway, it’s so much name-calling, the best that a lout like Dembski is capable of, apparently.

Comment #43733

Posted by Hyperion on August 18, 2005 12:50 PM (e)

I think that even the alcohol angle is reading too much into Dembski’s logic. I think that he noted Dr. Perakh’s national origin and wanted to compare him to a Russian authoritarian leader to emphasize “evolutionist dogma” or some such, and reached for the first Russian leader whose name came to mind, and wound up picking the one non-communist, non-authoritarian, democratically elected Russian leader of the 20th century. This is not to sing Yeltsin’s praises, he certainly wasn’t Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln, but it just strikes me as a really odd metaphor.

Comment #43735

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on August 18, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

One more point:

I am aware that mathematicians often say that there are some ideas that can only be expressed in mathematics. I’m not sure that I believe this.

What I am willing to believe is that there are ideas that can only be perfectly accurately expressed in mathematics. For example, “the area under a bell curve centered on 2 and with a width of 1/2” is much fuzzier than it’s mathematical representation. Fuzzy, yes, but it conveys the idea conceptually. Combine it with a picture, and you get something that could be understood by a small child.

Math is a language, and all languages can be at least loosely translated into other languages.

Speaking swahili and then claiming that only someone with an understanding of swahili can possibly understand what one is saying is a cop-out. If someone can attempt a translation of the Egyptian Book of Going Forth by Day (a.k.a. the “book of the dead”) then you can at least try. That one is from a dead language, for cryin’ out loud.

If any mathematicians here wish to provide an example of a useful idea that they are convinced absolutely cannot be explained outside of mathematical representation, I am open to the possibility and curious. I’ll try to tackle the math, and see if I agree.

Comment #43737

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 18, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

Just for the record, DaveScot (people here will remember him as a frequent PT troll months back, who was eventually and repeatedly banned for threatening to hack the site, posting under false identities and sending abusive e-mails to some of the contributors) could not have known about Mark’s previous last name. A search of the ISI Web of Science database for “Perakh M*” alone, however, gives 48 hits between 1974 and the present, most of which are clearly independent peer-reviewed publications in Mark’s field of expertise.

It is hard to believe that DaveScot, who claims to be a scientist himself, really thinks that “Google scholar” is a legitimate science publication database.

Comment #43741

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 18, 2005 1:09 PM (e)

There is certainly the risk of delving too much into the trivial ad hominem attacks made by Dembski (hey, where’s Berlinski to note that Dembski isn’t being wildly clever or funny?), but it appears to be all of which Dembski is really capable as a response. So I guess I’ll have a go at it once more in response to Hyperion.

The truth is that it is very hard to follow Dembski’s “reasoning”, from his use of “complex” for simple (but unlikely) strings of information, to this latest crack at Dr. Perakh in all of its stupidity. But my reasoning is that Dembski’s odd name-calling leads linearly to the unwarranted and typically unsubstantiated Dembskian claim that Perakh is “out of his element”:

“Mark Perakh, the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning, has weighed in with yet another screed against me (go here). The man is out of his element.

One could suppose that Dembski was trying to say that Perakh is floundering in biology (this from the grossly-inept-in-biology Dembski), or in math (which of course Perakh wasn’t dealing with), much as Yeltsin did while on a drunk.

Enough of that for me, I think. Except to add that I would be willing to sing Yeltsin’s praises, though I know he was far from perfect.

Comment #43745

Posted by Russell on August 18, 2005 1:19 PM (e)

I don’t pretend to know where Dembski’s math, per se, is sophisticated or not; that’s why I’ll wait until some serious mathematician, applied or theoretical, has anything positive to say about it before attempting to wade through it.

I do know this, though: Whatever mathematical wizardry you apply to it, calculating the probability of the components of bacterial flagella coming together by chance is just plain ridiculous*. Clearly unburdened by the most basic concepts of chemistry and biology, Dembski apparently feels comfortable impugning the competence of anyone to question his brilliance. The guy is either completely tone-deaf to irony, much better suited to politics and PR than academia, or both.

While delving into the math might be a worthwhile enterprise in and of itself, no one should be distracted by Dembski’s apparent position that no criticism is valid unless it comes from a math PhD. Dr. Perakh has it exactly right: if the question is about evolution and biology, it’s up to Dembski et al. to make the case for the relevance of his formulas before anyone should be asked to even care about their mathematical validity.

*I believe this would be a classic case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Comment #43748

Posted by PvM on August 18, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

Read for instance Dembski’s response to the Australian reporter. It shows how Dembski truly believes, contrary to fact, that intelligent design is scientifically relevant.
Yet he has not even addressed the inherent scientifical vacuity of intelligent design by not only providing no relevant explanations as to how it happened but also insisting that these requirements are ‘pathetic’. In other words, do not hold ID to the same standards as real science since it is so much ‘better’. And yet, ID’s only success so far is that it has embraced evolutionary theory and is merely arguing that what we do not yet understand should therefor be seen as potentially intelligently designed. But rather than resting in the knowledge that ID is always a logical possibility, ID proponents insist that our ignorance IS evidence of INTELLIGENT DESIGN.
And yet, ID proponents also are on the record that there is not really any scientific theory of ID and that it is at most based on some loosely (and poorly) developed concepts.

That Dembski is unwilling or should we say unable to address these basic objections, should be evidence that ID is all about smoke and mirrors. By hiding our ignorance in mathematical concepts, it can pretend to have a scientific relevance when in fact it is ‘rotten at the core’ or fundamentally flawed.

ID cannot stand up for itself in a court of science and when it is given an opportunity, Dembski’s comments cause manuscripts of a yet to be published book to be placed in the record and thus it becomes discoverable…
Earlier versions of the book revealed how the term creationism was replaced by the term intelligent design. Indicating strongly that ID is merely a politically/religiously driven move from creationism to a more scientifically sounding concept. Yet both remain fully founded on ignorance.

We do not understand all the circumstances leading to the Cambrian explosion? Must be intelligently designed. And yet when given the opportunity to make its case scientifically, ID proponents miserably failed (Meyer’s paper comes to mind).

To use a common word used by ID-Cers: Pathetic…

Comment #43752

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 18, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

Hoopman said:

Why, one wonders, do we still have the same ridiculous arguments 150 years after Darwin? But understand that 150 years is really nothing. And in the end, truth prevails. Rather than getting into name calling with creationists, just keep doing the science. It speaks for itself. Don’t suppose for a minute that the world accepted the notion that the earth was spherical or that it was not the center of the universe until hundreds of years after these things were first observed by scientific minds.

They labor under the sad misconception that geologic time is on their side. Some major shift of the ground and mountains, they hope, will make their arguments look better – by killing all their opponents in a landslide, if nothing else.

NCSE used to have a graphic they ran in one of their publications regularly, with a caption: “When your watch is set to geologic time, the ground beneath you begins to shift.” Someone in the creationist camp has become intoxicated on press clips, and has mistaken what feels to them like shifting ground for a geologic change.

The rocks themselves cry out; the creationists are deaf.

Comment #43753

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 18, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

Come now, tovarisch - you may not have personally ordered an artillery attack on the Duma, but (like most thoughtful citizens under most legislatures), you must have felt a strong desire to do so…

Comment #43755

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 18, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

Adam, again I’m willing to admit the possibility that the problem is mine and that I am merely ignorant, but what it APPEARS to me that Dembski often does is to take ideas that are conceptual, that can be expressed in normal language, and are amenable to various analogies, and THEN he works like hell to translate that stuff into inscrutable symbolic jabberwocky that must be retranslated into something like real language again. And the only motive I can infer for this is that the initial, plainer languages is vulnerable to attack, so Dembski tries to innoculate it by putting it into symbolic format so that when experts critique it he can claim that they simply didn’t understand the math.

Comment #43760

Posted by Shirley Knott on August 18, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

The points made here about the requirement to demonstrate that the math is relevent is easily shown in ways that almost everyone can grasp:
2+2=4 is incontrovertibly true.
Therefore, argues a variant of Dembski, there must be an intelligent agent behind the occurrence of less than 4 liters of fluid when one mixes 2 liters of water and 2 liters of ethanol. Any argument about miscibility of fluids is ignorant and reflects a refusal to come to terms with the math or an inability to understand the math.
Similarly, 1+2=3 is incontrovertibly true.
Therefore, argues a variant of Dembski, there must be an intelligent agent behind the fact that 1 oxygen atom plus 2 hygrogen atoms results in 1 molecule of that dangerous substance dihydrogen monoxide. Any attempt to differentiate molecules and atoms is obfuscation and an obvious attempt to mask one’s inability to deal with the math.

If Dembski’s theology is approximately correct, he’ll burn in hell forever for his lies and distortions.

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #43763

Posted by Alan on August 18, 2005 2:12 PM (e)

Adam Ierymenko wrote:

Nearly all ideas, even very sophisticated ones, can be explained *in essence* to a five year old.

I compliment you on making this point so clearly. I have naively assumed that people with a “good idea” would want to communicate it as widely as possible, and welcome the opportunity to expound.

But, no. Ask, could you explain that for a layperson, and you get condescension, obfuscation and downright evasion. Dembski is the prime exponent, with Cordova a pathetic surrogate.

Comment #43765

Posted by natural cynic on August 18, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

from Hoopman:
{every new transitional fossil simply creates a new “gap”.}

It’s worse, every new “missing link” that is found creates 2 gaps - one each side.

And…
Old Boris was much more of a fun guy than Putin and the whole Bush gang.

As for Dembski, isn’t simplicity one of the goals of a good design? Oh, I guess not.

Comment #43766

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on August 18, 2005 2:28 PM (e)

Follow the math.

Dembski wrote:

version 2.1, 4 March 2005
Abstract
Searching for small targets in large spaces is a common problem in the
sciences. Because blind search is inadequate for such searches, it needs
to be supplemented with additional information, thereby transforming
a blind search into an assisted search. This additional information can
be quantified and indicates that assisted searches themselves result from
searching higher-level search spaces–by conducting, as it were, a search
for a search. Thus, the original search gets displaced to a higher-level
search. The key result in this paper is a displacement theorem, which
shows that successfully resolving such a higher-level search is exponentially
more difficult than successfully resolving the original search. Leading up
to this result, a measure-theoretic version of the No Free Lunch theorems
is formulated and proven. The paper shows that stochastic mechanisms,
though able to explain the success of assisted searches in locating targets,
cannot, in turn, explain the source of assisted searches.

1 Blind Search
Most searches that come up in scientific investigation occur over spaces that are
far too large to be searched exhaustively. Take the search for a very modest
protein, one that is, say, 100 amino acids in length (most proteins are at least
250 to 300 amino acids in length). The space of all possible protein sequences
that are 100 amino acids in length has size 20**100, or approximately 1.27×10**130.
Exhaustively searching a space this size to find a target this small is utterly….

(note: ** means exponent, for example 20**100 means 20 to the 100th power)

He has many ways of saying that 1/N is as small as N is large, and similar profundities:
From page 11:

Accordingly, determining the relative effectiveness with which A and B locate
T in m steps is a matter of comparing two probability measures:….

Breathtaking!
It goes on like this for 32 pages, with symbols piled higher and deeper.

But you can get past that, eventually. What is more important is that two key delusions are already in the Abstract:
1) Evolution procedes by searching, randomly or otherwise, all sequences of a given length
2) Evolution is aiming at a taget

Can you find additional delusions in this paper? Talk about searching large spaces! But he also discusses ‘assisted searches’. This may be an assist: look in the area of Displacement.

Comment #43767

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 18, 2005 2:33 PM (e)

I don’t see anyone here considering the possibility that Dembski is mereley a distraction.

The obfuscations, the defelections, the borderline libelous behavior… all scream to me that he is being posted up as a simple distraction; a beacon to attract your attention…

but away from what, is the real question.

Comment #43769

Posted by T. Russ on August 18, 2005 2:35 PM (e)

Upon reading the comments above and other prior topics on PT having to do with the work of Dr. Perakh, I have become intrigued into the reasons behind his activity in the intelligent design controversy. I can’t help but notice and reflect on how much of his prior scientific work in the fields of semiconductor films, electric fields in electrolytes etc, seems to be quite unrelated to the philosophy of science and intelligent design which he now deals with. I do not think this discredits him as a credible and worthy opponent of ID, but I am interested into Why he got into the debate.

ID theorists are often accused of being feuled by religious convictions. I agree that this claim has some merit, although I think the “religious motivations” behind ID are better understood when taking into account the metaphysical space that religious people already possess concerning ontology when they view the natural world.
Philosophical theists are allowed to see design in nature for it is consistent with their deeply held ontological beliefs about reality. A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

But all that aside for another time, I am curious as to the motivations behind Dr. Perakh’s involvment in issues of faith and science, evolutionary theory, and ID debate. From what I have read concerning zealous ID opponents from some writers, they are often fueled by anti-religious, or atheistic, views. Is this true in the case of Dr. Perakh. Is anybody willing to give me an answer to my query. Perhaps even Dr. Perakh himself.

I myself would very much like to see a lengthy reply to Dr. Perakh’s arguments from Dr. Dembski. He may very well find Dr. Perakh’s arguments of little concern, but as for the attention that this issue is getting here among Dr. Dembski’s fiercest opponents, I think a lengthy reply would be in order.

T.Russ

Comment #43773

Posted by Patrick on August 18, 2005 2:48 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

But all that aside for another time, I am curious as to the motivations behind Dr. Perakh’s involvment in issues of faith and science, evolutionary theory, and ID debate. From what I have read concerning zealous ID opponents from some writers, they are often fueled by anti-religious, or atheistic, views. Is this true in the case of Dr. Perakh. Is anybody willing to give me an answer to my query. Perhaps even Dr. Perakh himself.

This might sound crazy, but maybe, just maybe he just likes standing up for good science.

Comment #43774

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on August 18, 2005 2:48 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

I don’t see anyone here considering the possibility that Dembski is mereley a distraction.

The obfuscations, the defelections, the borderline libelous behavior… all scream to me that he is being posted up as a simple distraction; a beacon to attract your attention…

but away from what, is the real question.

http://www.greythumb.com/blog/archive/2005/07/24/go-practical

Comment #43775

Posted by C.J.O'Brien on August 18, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

Yes, the reason is clearly obfuscation.

But I see a deeper element to the reliance on bogus math and the emphasis on pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo, and that is that the very idea of ID suffers from a rhetorical condition I will call “Poverty of Metaphor.”

If you read Dembski’s “Defense” of ID, his apparently honest attempt to do what others here have said he cannot do: make his ideas comprehensible in plain language, the analogies are simply terrible. I began an essay on the piece, and found that I could go on, literally for pages, about *just how bad* Mt. Rushmore is as an analogy for, well, life, certainly, but, if you want to get into it, for anything actually.

So it’s partly that he uses bad to non-existant math for scaring the masses/impressing the flock, but it’s also all he has, because the analogies available to him wouldn’t impress a five year old.

Comment #43778

Posted by slpage on August 18, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

Hmmm…

William Dembski, the William Hammesfahr of INformation Theory?

Comment #43779

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 18, 2005 3:04 PM (e)

Cordova:Dembski:Shannon

::

Humbert:Lolita:Nabakov?

Comment #43781

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 18, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

Mr. Russ - I see that you have once again avoided inconvenient questions in another thread in order to make nonsensical statements elsewhere. May I call your attention to this, rather ignorant and certainly inaccurate remark?

Philosophical theists are allowed to see design in nature for it is consistent with their deeply held ontological beliefs about reality. A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

This is, of course, nonsense. An atheist recognizes design perfectly well - otherwise all atheists would deny the existence of human beings, stock-breeders, crows, beavers, ants, and other intelligent designers.

Your statements would carry more conviction if they contained more fact and less fiction.

But carry on - your entertainment value is high. Not as high as Dembski’s, of course….

Comment #43782

Posted by Tim on August 18, 2005 3:27 PM (e)

Regarding what Pete said, I think the large-dimensional parameter space seems like a fairly good model (though feel free to yell at me or correct me; I’m not a biologist). Only problem is, Dembski seems to be searching for a global maximum of some fitness function with n paramters, where evolution just picks individuals with the highest values of this function. Thus, the population is taking what would be a random walk of sorts in the parameter space, were natural selection not guiding it and making the walk decidedly un-random. Nobody is assisting a search moreover, because there is no absolute goal. And if the population gets stuck in a local maximum of its fitness function, what of it? It’s either good enough or the critter becomes extinct. The idea of a walk through parameter space seems interesting and perhaps useful, but I fail to see the applicability of the words “blind” and “assisted”, or for that matter, “search”.

Comment #43787

Posted by Colin on August 18, 2005 3:46 PM (e)

Dr. Perakh,

This is entirely off-topic, but as a (former) student of the Russian language, I was struck by your command of written English. I’m well aware of how difficult it is for native speakers of either language to write like a native in the other. Please accept my compliments on your excellent prose.

Colin

Comment #43790

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 18, 2005 4:12 PM (e)

Tim, I would agree - the basic issue is not that Debmski’s math is inaccurate; but rather that his math is irrelevant to the question of evolution.

Comment #43793

Posted by SteveF on August 18, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

I’d also like to point out from bitter experience, that ISI Web of Science is an absolute bag of arse. It will not list all of Mark’s publications by a long stretch.

Comment #43808

Posted by RBH on August 18, 2005 5:06 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg wrote

But you can get past that, eventually. What is more important is that two key delusions are already in the Abstract:
1) Evolution procedes by searching, randomly or otherwise, all sequences of a given length
2) Evolution is aiming at a taget

Can you find additional delusions in this paper? Talk about searching large spaces! But he also discusses ‘assisted searches’. This may be an assist: look in the area of Displacement.

Dembski ignores that fact that evolution does not sample the whole ‘search’ space randomly. It does not sample the space of all possible ‘forms’ at all.

An existing reproducing population starts on a “target” – a viable local optimum, one at least high enough on a fitness landscape that members of the population are able to reproduce. From there it samples nearby instances in the space of all changes, where ‘nearby’ is defined in terms of the evolutionary operators that are variation-generating mechanisms – mainly mutations of various sorts and recombination. Those variation-generating mechanisms do not produce a representative or random sample from the whole space of possibilities, but produce a strongly biased sample from a fairly restricted volume of that space that surrounds an already-viable “target”, the one the population is currently sitting on.

Hence the characterization of evolution as random search is a false representation of the process. Uniform PDFs over the whole space of possibilities radically misrepresent the process, and Dembski’s blathering about tiny probabilities, founded on the assumption of a uniform PDF over all possibilities, is just that: bloviation translated into symbolic terms. But symbolic bloviation is still bloviation.

RBH

Comment #43814

Posted by Arden Chatfield on August 18, 2005 5:18 PM (e)

Cordova:Dembski:Shannon

::

Humbert:Lolita:Nabakov?

Smithers:Burns:Groening?

(sorry, couldn’t resist…)

Comment #43817

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 18, 2005 5:21 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

From what I have read concerning zealous ID opponents from some writers, they are often fueled by anti-religious, or atheistic, views. […] Is anybody willing to give me an answer to my query.

Can’t say about the others, but my involvement has a religious component. I was raised to believe that lying was sinful, an offense against God. So when I found so much lying going on in the antievolution literature, I got involved in setting things straight. And the mendacity has not slackened off at all in the antievolution community. So neither is my opposition slackening off.

I am, by the way, a member of the United Methodist Church.

As others note, simply wishing to make sure that “science-only” is the standard for science classes is quite a reasonable motivation for taking egregiously erroneous ID advocates – and their cheerleaders – to task.

Comment #43818

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

{every new transitional fossil simply creates a new “gap”.}

It’s worse, every new “missing link” that is found creates 2 gaps - one each side.

Uh, no, you start with one gap, and you end up with two.

Comment #43821

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

Nice begging of the question – whether it is actual is the issue of dispute. And the rest of your sentence is ad hominem malarkey.

As for Dr. Perakh’s motivation, he stated it clearly enough:

I have been recently active in debunking the nonsense propagated by pseudo-scientists which I believe is, although not very rewarding, a necessary activity.

Or clearly enough for those who consider propagating pseudo-scientific nonsense to be a bad thing.

Comment #43823

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 18, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

…and with regard to the quality of Russian science, gosh, I wonder whose rockets have been keeping the, um, International Space Station going while we’ve been having our little Space Shuttle detaching foam problem?

Comment #43824

Posted by snaxalotl on August 18, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

GP:

it APPEARS to me that Dembski often does is to take ideas that are conceptual, that can be expressed in normal language, and are amenable to various analogies, and THEN he works like hell to translate that stuff into inscrutable symbolic jabberwocky that must be retranslated into something like real language again. And the only motive I can infer for this is that the initial, plainer languages is vulnerable to attack, so Dembski tries to innoculate it by putting it into symbolic format so that when experts critique it he can claim that they simply didn’t understand the math.

I agree this is what Dembski is doing, but I have a different take on the motive. Being mathematically capable means that when you observe an interesting phenomenon, attempting to express just what you see mathematically often leads to something elegant. To Dembski etc. it is a plaim fact that a tree is a stunning example of God’s design, and he has now spent years trying to express that intuition mathematically. The fact that he is so sure of his initial intuition means that he has never been able to see the infertility of this pointless exercise.

Comment #43825

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 18, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

“*just how bad* Mt. Rushmore is as an analogy for, well, life, certainly”

The worst part is the implication that faces on Rushmore are “designed” simply because Mt. Rushmore was designed after a fashion. Of course it’s a completely mindless implication as well, since a photographic image is not in the least bit designed (the film is, but not the photograph of the face).

Dembski appears to have no concept of the human desire to capture “nature” in images precisely because “nature” is frequently something quite unlike our designs (except insofar as we mimic nature) and machines.

Comment #43829

Posted by steve on August 18, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Comment #43745

Posted by Russell on August 18, 2005 01:19 PM (e) (s)

While delving into the math might be a worthwhile enterprise in and of itself, no one should be distracted by Dembski’s apparent position that no criticism is valid unless it comes from a math PhD. Dr. Perakh has it exactly right: if the question is about evolution and biology, it’s up to Dembski et al. to make the case for the relevance of his formulas before anyone should be asked to even care about their mathematical validity.

True. He claims to be the Isaac Newton of Information Theory. Sal Coldova says Darwin was crippled by not knowing Information Theory. Without even looking at the math ourselves, we can evaluate these claims.

Is Dembski invited to speak at IT conferences? No. Does he publish these ‘revolutionary’ results in IT journals? No. Does the IT community use his results? No. Have qualified researchers said anything about Dembski’s ‘work’? Yes–Wolpert said it was garbage.

Any intelligent person can determine what that means.

Comment #43863

Posted by Albion on August 18, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

While verifying the quotes sent by Dave and Steve, I noticed a few other comments on Dembski’s site. While Dembski promptly deletes from his site any comment he does not like (which contrasts with how Panda’s Thumb behaves), he allows posting of libelous pieces like the comment alleging that I have not published as many papers as I claim.

Right, well then, that’s you dealt with. Obviously a discrepancy in how many hundreds of papers you’ve published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature means that everything you have to say about his stuff can be safely discounted. Stands to reason, after all.

Quite apart from anything else, people familiar with peer-reviewed journals ought to know that Russian papers from the mid-20th century don’t usually show up on US-based searches. I assume these characters do know that you’re an immigrant whose early work was published in Russia? If they really think that somehow these papers are easily accessible on internet searches, they’re betraying a fairly basic ignorance of the reality of the peer-reviewed literature.

Course, it does provide them with a nice deflection tactic - subtle hints that the opposition isn’t honest or knowledgeable - which apparently excuses them from having to respond to the substance of your criticism and takes up your time setting the record straight. Typical tactics of a person engaged in a political campaign.

Comment #43867

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 18, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

“fairly basic ignorance”

understatement of the year?

Comment #43878

Posted by steve on August 18, 2005 10:19 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

Just how does one go about possessing metaphysical space?

Just curious.

Comment #43880

Posted by sciguy on August 18, 2005 10:21 PM (e)

If I recall Boris Yeltsin stopped the overthrow of a goverment, stopping tanks on their way to the Kremlin. So I guess Mark is stopping this group from over throwing the credibility of science.

Comment #43881

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 18, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

I hear metaphysical space is a hot commodity on the trading floor these days.

I can’t afford any shares in it myself.

Comment #43887

Posted by Pedro Ferrousgate on August 18, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

Toe Jam’s Uncle wrote

I don’t see anyone here considering the possibility that Russ is mereley a distraction.

Comment #43888

Posted by Modesitt on August 18, 2005 11:17 PM (e)

Even if Mark Perakh WAS a world-class fraud who had actually only written 10% of the papers he claims to have written, I do believe that’d still make him a significantly more prolific scholar than William Dembski. Does anyone know off-hand how many papers Dembski has published? If I recall correctly, he published some papers involving real mathematics before selling his soul to Jesus.

I really think Dembski should have compared Dr. Perakh to Trofim Lysenko. The sheer irony of him doing so may have caused a rip in the space-irony continuum to form and eat Dembski.

Comment #43894

Posted by Glenn Branch on August 18, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

Steve wrote:

Just how does one go about possessing metaphysical space?

Just curious.

Eminent domain.

(FX: crickets chirping)

Well, at least John Wilkins will find it funny.

Comment #43895

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 18, 2005 11:43 PM (e)

now that we have defined metaphysical space as possesible, will we assume there is a manifest destiny for us to control it and steal it from the natives?

Comment #43897

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

hmm. i noticed that a google search for “dembski blog” no longer actually turns up his blog on the first page any more. rather, it turns up mostly anti-dembski blogs. lol.

interestingly, i ran across this:

http://blogshares.com/blogs.php?blog=http://www.uncommondescent.com%2F

does it mean that he is trying to sell his domain name??

Comment #43899

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 12:19 AM (e)

ah, nvm. i see now it is fantasy trading. what a strange thing. I did IT work for 7 years, and i still feel like the web is leaving me behind sometimes.

Comment #43901

Posted by Dave Mullenix on August 19, 2005 12:34 AM (e)

Dembski’s Fourth Way of Answering Critics

I think Dembski may have found a fourth way of “answering” his critics. His First Way is to completely ignore all substantial criticism. His Second Way is to reply to a critic, but to post only on irrelevant things, such as the number of degrees a critic has. His Third Way is to promise to answer the criticism in a future book, and then not do it.

Now I think he’s found a Fourth Way: Try to decieve the critic by making him think that he’s posted your criticism when he really hasn’t.

I was the first to reply to Dembski’s “Boris Yeltsin” post. I posted a reply (below) at about 4:00 AM the day after he wrote it. I happened to post it using Internet Explorer, which my ISP insists on bringing up every time I log on. There were zero replies at that time. That afternoon, I checked from home and, as I expected, it wasn’t there. A half dozen other replies were posted, but not mine. No surprise, that’s Dembski’s First Way - ignore all substantial criticism.

But then, the next night, I checked Uncommon Descent again prior to writing Mark - and there my reply was, number 1 on the list! I was amazed and wondered if Dembski had had a change of heart or what? Well, it turned out to be “what” because when I looked at the same site with another browser, my reply was gone!

I turns out that when I view UD from my dial-up account, using Internet Explorer, my reply is fully visible. When I view from any other account or from my dial-up account with Firefox, it’s gone!

In fact, when I view the site with IE or Firefox from home or from my work computer, it’s gone. The only time I see it is when I’m using my dial-up account from my laptop and using the same Internet Explorer that I posted the reply with.

Then I noticed one other thing. With both browsers, the site said there were 20 replies, but with IE there were actually 21. Mine was jammed into the top of the list and the other twenty followed, with the last one being numbered 21.

Today, the site tells my IE browser that there are thirty four comments, but there are actually 35, including mine. Firefox shows the correct 34 replies, with mine missing.

I can only conclude that Dembski has found a Fourth Way of replying to his critics: try to decieve them and hope they don’t notice. Ironically, I knew he’d deep sixed my reply long before I ever noticed the deception! Life is hell when you’re about half as smart as you think you are.

Here’s my post, by the way, as copied from Uncommon Descent using Internet Explorer on my laptop. (I know, it’s badly written. Look at the post time):

————————

“The man is out of his element. I’m still awaiting his detailed critique of “Searching Large Spaces” — does he even understand the relevant math?”

Critiquing the math isn’t necessary. For purposes of argument, I’m willing to stipulate that all the math in “Searching Large Spaces” is perfect.

The problem with your paper is that it proves that it’s effectively impossible to find “T” if you’re not already in it. While this is true, it also misses the point. “T” is the area of the search space where organisms have the ability to successfully reproduce. Since any organism that exists is descended from a four billion year long string of ancestors, all of who are known to be in “T” because they successfully reproduced, no organism has to search for “T”. All successful organisms are already inside “T” and no organism has to search for “T” from the outside.

The First Living Thing, whatever it was, found a reasonably high probability section of “T” and all of its successful descendents have been in “T” ever since. Any offspring that were out of “T” died without leaving descendents.

The “goal” of all living things is to produce offspring that are also in “T” and thus capable of passing their genes on. They do this by producing offspring that are either identical or almost identical to themselves. If offspring are identical to their parents and their parents are in “T”, then the offspring will be in “T” too. If offspring only differ from their successful parents by a small amount, they are only exploring the region of the search space in the immediate vicinity of their parents, not the whole search space. This raises their chance of landing in “T” to near certainty.

You can think of making only small changes or no changes at all as importing information from the world - an organism doesn’t have to search the entire search space. It already knows where one part of “T” is because it’s already in it.

Comment by djmullen — August 16, 2005 @ 4:22 am

———————————

As I said, not well written, but I’d like to hammer home the main points:

1: It doesn’t matter if Dembski’s math is right or wrong. He’s trying to prove that it’s virtually impossible to find “T” from the outside and, in reality, we’re ALL inside “T” and have been since the First Living Thing, whatever it was.

2: Evolution DOES import a whopping amount of information. Reproduction starts with one or two pairs of DNA that are ALREADY IN “T”.

3: I don’t blame Dembski for wanting critics to focus on his math. His real source of error lies in not understanding what the hell he’s criticizing in the first place.

Comment #43904

Posted by Corbs on August 19, 2005 2:06 AM (e)

Adam Ierymenko wrote:

If any mathematicians here wish to provide an example of a useful idea that they are convinced absolutely cannot be explained outside of mathematical representation, I am open to the possibility and curious. I’ll try to tackle the math, and see if I agree.

Interesting thought. I think you are largely right but there may be some exceptions where the math is essentially a matter of mathematical definition rather than trying to describe something tangible. For example, I’m not sure you could make sense of Imaginary Numbers (very useful things) outside of a mathematical representation.

Happy for you to prove me wrong. :)

Comment #43909

Posted by Mongrel on August 19, 2005 4:43 AM (e)

Dave Mullenix - to be fair you may just have run into a caching issue. Hitting F5 should sort out similar issues in the future and clearing the cache is something else to try (For Firefox Tools >Options >Privacy).
If you’ve already checked this then I apoligise and return to my normal lurking

Comment #43911

Posted by Alan on August 19, 2005 5:08 AM (e)

I myself would very much like to see a lengthy reply to Dr. Perakh’s arguments from Dr. Dembski. He may very well find Dr. Perakh’s arguments of little concern, but as for the attention that this issue is getting here among Dr. Dembski’s fiercest opponents, I think a lengthy reply would be in order.

T.Russ

Many others would endorse your plea, but, don’t hold your breath.

Comment #43925

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 19, 2005 7:37 AM (e)

An imaginary number is any number that, when multiplied by itself, produces a negative number. Easy enough to describe to someone that understands the concepts of multiplication and negative numbers. Or if you want it in a real world application, let me know ;)

Comment #43931

Posted by Soren Kongstad on August 19, 2005 8:58 AM (e)

As far as I remember one of the early uses of Imaginary numbers were to solve problems with surveying.

Caspar Wessel introduced the interpretation of imaginary umbers as points in the plane - an idea that later Agard and Gauss stumbled upon, thus duplicating the relatively obscure work of Wessel.

So an imaginary number can be intepreted as a number in the complex plane - which could be explained for anyone with knowledge of maps.

(1+i) is simply one step right and one step up, whilst (-1-i) is one step left and one step up.

This might also be used to explain another representation of the same number, namely the angle and distance form the origo.

/Soren

Comment #43941

Posted by Jim Anderson on August 19, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

Dave Mullenix:

Dembski deletes comments. It’s part of his (buried in the archives) policy. Woe betide the person who doesn’t know where to find it.

What’s just as bad, an allied blog, IDtheFuture, deletes trackbacks.

Odd behavior for those who complain so vociferously about crushing dissent.

Comment #43944

Posted by steve on August 19, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

I’ve expected IDtheFuture to start censoring Trackbacks ever since Jay Richards’s article telling us Einstein was confused.

Comment #43945

Posted by neurode on August 19, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

Dave Mullenix: “T is the area of the search space where organisms have the ability to successfully reproduce. Since any organism that exists is descended from a four billion year long string of ancestors, all of who are known to be in T because they successfully reproduced, no organism has to search for T. All successful organisms are already inside T and no organism has to search for T from the outside…. I don’t blame Dembski for wanting critics to focus on his math. His real source of error lies in not understanding what the hell he’s criticizing in the first place.”

How amusing.

Everyone here knows about conditional probability, right? It involves a multiplicative sequence of probabilities associated with a nested series of progressively restrictive conditions or constraints.

Consider an arbitrary target T in a sample space or search space S, and suppose that T is small (unlikely, hard to find) in S. As Dembski observes, this implies (by definition) that relatively more information is required in order to “hit the target”. [This is implied “by definition” because that’s how probability is implicated in the definition of information.]

Dave Mullenix agrees, but says that the necessary information can be acquired a little bit at a time by a long sequence of “reasonably low” probabilistic deviations. The automatic effect of this process, Dave surmises, is to keep all organisms “inside T”. That is, in seeking to explain how organisms get to T through S, he cites a certain cumulative S-process, “evolution”, which, like any process, obeys certain rules and requires a certain framework in which to operate, including but not necessarily limited to S. That’s right - it’s a “gradualistic” search!

But in Dave’s scenario, what we’re really dealing with is a conditional probability in which the “evolution” process is implicated as an information-rich condition unto itself. One isn’t allowed to simply take the process for granted; it too must be figured into the total probability. How likely, then, is the process called “evolution”, given that it has this uncanny knack for converging on targets of extremely low probability (i.e., extremely low measure in S)?

And that, you see, is the million dollar question…the thing to be decided. Dave appears to think that the existence of this process is extremely likely, and that the problem of finding T is fully solved by remaining in T over the course of many slight (and therefore not very improbable) incremental changes. No doubt Dave is bursting with knowledge to the effect that T changes with location in the fitness landscape, that T is actually a really, really large class of targets {T} that are equivalent with respect to survival and reproduction, and so forth, all serving to bolster Dave’s initial assumption that a gradualistic evolutionary process automatically converging on {T} is really, really likely.

But guess what? That’s precisely what’s at issue! So Dave can’t simply assume it at the outset; by doing so, he is merely leaping to the very conclusion he pretends to have deduced.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that sometimes, in trying to understand the meaning of a mathematical argument, one must take care to avoid circular reasoning.

[Perhaps, if Bill really did block Dave’s post, he was merely trying to spare Dave the humiliation of a detailed response.]

Comment #43951

Posted by T. Russ on August 19, 2005 11:48 AM (e)

Dr. Perakh’s reply to my query:

Dear T. Russ: You are right asserting that during the long years of my career I did not publish anything on the topics I am dealing with now. The main reason for that was that I was too busy with my research related to my profession. Moreover, when still in the USSR, I had no chance to publish any paper expressing my views which rather cardinally differed from the official Marxist-Leninist ideology. Just for speaking too much I was arrested and sent to a Siberian prison camp. As soon as I got to the West, I started publishing papers in several languages addressing political and sociological problems in the USSR. In particular, in a paper that appeared in the mid seventies in Russian, Ukrainian, English, and Norwegian, I predicted the collapse of the USSR and even predicted with a reasonable accuracy how it would happen (although I thought it would take twice as long until it will take place than it actually happened). Naturally, being busy with my research and writing the mentioned articles, I simply had no time to deal with philosophy of science and related problems. However, soon after my retirement, I accidentally met a Canadian who asked me about my opinion on the Bible code. I had no knowledge of that subject whatsoever but promised him to look into that matter. I approached it as any other problem in my research, without any preconceived opinion. The result of studying the problem was my conclusion that the “code” was imaginary. I posted an essay expressing my conclusion and received many responses. It led to the exchange of views on a wider set of topics beyond the codes. Some of my interlocutors requested that I write a paper on probablilities (which I did), then asked that I read Behe’s book and say what I think of it, and so it naturally led to my involvement in the ID - related debates. My opinions on that subject are well known, I view ID as a pseudo-science and feel I have to say that to all who wish to listen. Hopefully it answers your question. Feel free to let other people see this letter. I hope you’ll not try to misrepresent its gist, although my limited experience with IDEA does not seem to be very encouraging in this respect (just look at the review of my book on IDEA site by Uminsky which distorts its contents). Best wishes,
Mark

My reply to Dr. Perakh:

Thanks for your response. You have had an interesting life, and the reason that I ask you about it has to do with my being a sort of social constructionist or just one who believes that our cultural-to-societal-to-personal philosophies go along way in shaping our thinking. (even to the point of our not recognizing it.) I believe that a scientists’ life (well anybody for that matter) experience dramatically affect their work and drive them in what they do. What I am interested in knowing about ID and Creation opponents is whether or not many of them are in fact atheist or at least people who believe that traditional religion is something that ought to be done away with. I have nothing against people holding such views. I am just interested in what kind of a debate this truly is. At some points, and you’ll disagree with this I am sure, it appears to be Science vs. Science. At other times it is easy to see this debate as Science vs. Religion. But often times, I believe it really comes down to Religion vs Anti-Religion. I am not alone in my interest of this aspect of the debate. Ronald Numbers, and recenlty Donald A. Yerxa, and Karl W. Giberson have tried documenting this.

I noticed that you did not tell me your personal religous outlook, and maybe for you that doesn’t have any influence on your being active in this debate. But that would be very surprising to me however.

I would never attempt to willfully misrepresent your words to anyone so I am going to go ahead and post your response to me and my email back to you over on PT. I think some of the fine folks over there are making fun of my use of metaphysical space and so forth.

Thanks for your response,

T. Russ

Comment #43953

Posted by PvM on August 19, 2005 11:57 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #43958

Posted by C.J.O'Brien on August 19, 2005 12:13 PM (e)

Re: “Religion vs. Anti-religion”

*sputter*
But IDers are attacking science with religion.

It’s like hitting me over the head repeatedly with a stick, and then asking inanely, “why do you hate sticks so much, huh? Why are you anti-stick, huh?”

Because you’re attacking me with one, you fool.

Comment #43962

Posted by Arden Chatfield on August 19, 2005 12:44 PM (e)

Re: “Religion vs. Anti-religion”

*sputter*
But IDers are attacking science with religion.

It’s like hitting me over the head repeatedly with a stick, and then asking inanely, “why do you hate sticks so much, huh? Why are you anti-stick, huh?”

Because you’re attacking me with one, you fool.

Yes, it’s not wise to let the other side define what this struggle is.

It could be described as ‘Science vs. Anti-Science’ with far more accuracy.

Comment #43975

Posted by MHV on August 19, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

and with regard to the quality of Russian science, gosh, I wonder whose rockets have been keeping the, um, International Space Station going while we’ve been having our little Space Shuttle detaching foam problem?

I was wondering the same thing.

I must admit that I found the comment regarding the quality of Russian science education and Russian scientists to be baffling. This claim about a country that notoriously executed, or at least threatened to execute, and imprisoned its scientists for failing to produce results, simply makes no sense. If ever there were a motivation to be the best in your field, that would be it!

You can say what you like about, for example, using slave labor to build self-contained research facilities purely for scientists and their families, but you can’t say that they didn’t have access to adequate educational resources (or to paraphrase Stalin: whatever you ask for) and that they did not produce some of the best scientists this world has every seen.

Times have certainly changed, but I don’t think one can sensibly argue that Russian science is in general shoddy.

Comment #43989

Posted by Carlos on August 19, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

What I am interested in knowing about ID and Creation opponents is whether or not many of them are in fact atheist or at least people who believe that traditional religion is something that ought to be done away with. I have nothing against people holding such views. I am just interested in what kind of a debate this truly is.

This statement sounds insincere after posting this

T. Russ wrote:

Philosophical theists are allowed to see design in nature for it is consistent with their deeply held ontological beliefs about reality. A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

Just a casual look through this forum should tell you that there are many theists opposing ID. Unless possessing metaphysical space doesn’t allow you to see it.

Comment #43991

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 4:20 PM (e)

Truss wrote:

“What I am interested in knowing about ID and Creation opponents is whether or not many of them are in fact atheist or at least people who believe that traditional religion is something that ought to be done away with. “

the difference is, regardless of what opinions some scientists hold of traditional religious practices, THEY are not attempting to turn their opinions into law.

that’s a rather large difference, don’t you think?

Comment #44002

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 19, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

(opens door and pokes head in)

So, has the religious war and all the silly dick-waving ended yet?

Comment #44039

Posted by T.Russ on August 19, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

lol

Comment #44040

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 10:27 PM (e)

I thought the discussion about penis size was in a different thread?

Comment #44041

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

So, has the religious war and all the silly dick-waving ended yet?

There continues to be a religious debate of sorts over in the “Intelligent Design and Miracles thread”. Before that there such debates in the “One Reason Evolutionists Are Losing the PR Battle”, “Julian Sanchez has it wrong” and the “My Response to Matzke” threads, which where explicitly about the Julian Sanchez, Jacob Weisberg, and Michael Ruse pieces that addressed the compatibility or lack of it between evolution and religion. How odd that such debates would have occurred in those threads.

As for silly d-w, there’s been somewhat less since you left, ceasing your call for certain groups of people to have their asses kicked out of PT for being tactically impure, although there was one outburst from Harold calling for a banning.

Comment #44043

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 11:18 PM (e)

sounds like you have garned a few, er, fans here ts-not-tim…

Comment #44048

Posted by RBH on August 20, 2005 12:23 AM (e)

Neurode merely repeats Dembski’s error. Recall that the theory of evolution begins when there is a population of imperfect replicators with heritable variation. The theory of evolution observes that there is descent with modification. What is modified? The existing population, which is itself in T. Given the several evolutionary operators that we know exist (mutations of various kinds, recombination of various kinds), a population exists on several fitness landscapes, one for each operator. Those fitness landscapes (or at least one of them) must have properties conducive to evolutionary ‘search’ (much as I hate the search metaphor for evolution). Notably, they must have non-random topographies. See especially Section 6.4.2 of the linked paper. (Warning: large pdf)

An evolving population is always either in T, with the evolutionary operators generating a cloud of variants in or near T (where”near” on any landscape is defined as one application of the operator that induces that landscape), or it is extinct. Extant evolving populations at any time slice are in T. The evolutionary operators do not generate variants randomly over the whole space; the distribution of variants is biased to be near T. Hence the probabilities, conditional or otherwise, that Dembski and his sycophants trumpet are irrelevant.

Given that, evolution will occur. Precisely what will evolve is unpredictable in particular, depending as it does in part on stochastic processes, but it is predictable in general. If one takes an end-point of the evolutionary process and looks back, pretending that the end-point was somehow “targeted” or “intended”, one will calculate a tiny probability of occurrence of that particular end-point. When one realizes that no particular end-point was “targeted”, the probabiity is 1.0 that the process will produce end-points far from the origin of an evolutionary trajectory, the original replicating population. It follows that in using his tiny probabilities to infer design, Dembski is merely begging the question: He must assume that the end-point was “intended” or “targeted” in order to calculate his tiny probabilities. But of course, that’s the question he pretends to address.

The only “probability” that’s relevant is the probability of occurrence of the original population of replicators, and that is currently unknown.

RBH

Comment #44049

Posted by Dave Mullenix on August 20, 2005 12:25 AM (e)

Mongrel - Caching issues were the first thing I thought of, so I hit F5 several times, exited and entered the program and finally went to tools/internet options/temporary internet files/delete files, checked “Delete all offline content” and hit “OK”. Clearing all the files took some time, but at the end, my comment was still visible.

I wasn’t surprised because my comment was never visible from the time I uploaded it until I saw it for the first time the next night. There was no way for it to get into the cache, let along get into the cache and renumber all the other comments to accomodate it. Dembski could probably prove mathematically that it had to be there by Intelligent Design, but frankly, I don’t trust his ability to handle word problems.

neurode - You will go a long way in the ID industry because you have already mastered the art of seeing what you want to see in your reading.

neurode: “Consider an arbitrary target T in a sample space or search space S, and suppose that T is small (unlikely, hard to find) in S.

You go off the rails right here. We’re not searching for a tiny T in a vast S, we’re LIVING IN T AND TRYING TO GET OUR OFFSPRING IN T TOO. Until you realize this, you are making the same blunder as Dembski and you will never understand the problem.

neurode: “As Dembski observes, this implies (by definition) that relatively more information is required in order to “hit the target”.

And we get the information necessary for STAYING IN THE TARGET from our DNA, which comes from our parent or parents, who are already in it. As a human being, you inherited over six billion bits of information in the DNA you got from Mommy and Daddy. That’s a hell of a lot of info! Not enough to find T if you’re out of it, but plenty enough to keep you in T if your parents who supplied this information were already in it.

neurode: “The moral of the story, I suppose, is that sometimes, in trying to understand the meaning of a mathematical argument, one must take care to avoid circular reasoning.”

The real moral here is that if you don’t understand the problem, math won’t help.

neurode: [Perhaps, if Bill really did block Dave’s post, he was merely trying to spare Dave the humiliation of a detailed response.]

I hesitate to speculate on what goes through Bill Dembski’s mind, but I’m sure he wasn’t trying to spare anybody but himself from humiliation. Why don’t you post a comment on Dembski’s blog and ask him if we’re outside of T trying to get in or inside T trying to keep our children inside too. I’ll be interested to see if your comment even survives deletion. I’d be even more interested to see how Dembski handles your comment if he doesn’t delete it.

Comment #44050

Posted by Dave Mullenix on August 20, 2005 12:27 AM (e)

RBH and I were writing the two above comments at the same time.

Summary: Dembski is okay at math, but he can’t handle word problems.

Comment #44051

Posted by RBH on August 20, 2005 12:33 AM (e)

Yeah, but I looked up some references! :) But I couldn’t find one I was looking for, on neighborhoods. The sad thing is it’s also somewhere on one of my machines here, and I don’t know which one! :(

RBH

Comment #44053

Posted by Dave Mullenix on August 20, 2005 1:45 AM (e)

Jim Anderson - I was aware of Uncommon Descent’s policy when I posted and never really expected my comment to be published. It was intended to be more of a personal communication, to tell Dembski that his paper has a lethal hole in it. I didn’t really expect it to do any good, but in public debate, you’er supposed to warn someone when he’s walking off a clift. I assume a similar obligation in the case of someone who’s already stepped off.

For Mongrel and the record, the exact sequence, as I remember it, is that I posted the note from my laptop dialup using Internet Explorer at about 4:20 am, looked immediately to see if it had been published and wasn’t surprised not to see it because of the hour and Uncommon Descent’s being moderated.

I looked that afternoon from my DSL line, using Firefox, and there were several other comments present, but mine was absent. As I say, I wasn’t really surprised it wasn’t there because of Uncommon Descent’s reputation.

I looked early next morning from my laptop dialup using Firefox and my posting was still missing, although I think some more comments had been posted by then.

Sometime later that same morning, I looked at the site again from my laptop using Internet Explorer and was very surprised to see my posting right there in front of me as post number 1.

I was even more amazed when I switched back to Firefox and there my post wasn’t!

I spent the rest of the morning and that afternoon checking things out, using varous combinations of browsers and ISPs and then wrote my first post above.

Comment #44055

Posted by Dave Mullenix on August 20, 2005 2:10 AM (e)

RBH - I suspect it was something about choosing a location in the same neighborhood as your parent’s or as near as possible instead of choosing a location at random.

Let’s consider bacteria, to keep the genetics simple, and assume that DNA alone determines what spot in S we land in, ignoring other hereditary factors such as methylation. If a bacteria divides perfectly, its offspring’s DNA will be exactly like it’s parent’s. Therefore, it will occupy the exact same place in S as it’s parent. Definitely in the same neighborhood - same house, in fact!

If the offspring’s DNA contains a few mutations, the other 99.9999999% will still be the same, so the new DNA sequence will be very close to its parent’s location in S. In the neighborhood, so to speak. The more mutations, the further away from our parent we wind up and the more likely we’ll land in a bad neighborhood, where we won’t thrive.

Dembski’s calculations prove that if every baby’s DNA is assembled randomly at conception, there is no practical hope of ever getting a live baby. The “bad neighborhoods” of S vastly outnumber the good ones. But he fails to take into account the huge amount of Data parents copy from their DNA to their offspring’s DNA in his calculations. For humans, it’s well over six gigabytes - enough to keep us as in the same neighborhood as our successful parents, and usually on the same street.

Comment #44057

Posted by SEF on August 20, 2005 3:12 AM (e)

Dave Mullenix:

A somewhat weird possibility is that Dembski bans comments via IP address such that his server still displays them to the computer having that IP but not to other IPs (the numbering of them occurring on the fly anyway). Your browser should be irrelevant. All that should matter is that you are on a fixed (and different) IP rather than dial-up (when various different random people on the same service would be able to see your comment pop in and out of existence!).

It’s just about feasible to imagine someone writing buggy code which accidentally produced that effect. However, it could also be a borderline insane/cunning deliberate strategy of making the person think their post hasn’t been deleted so that they don’t try to repost. The possibility of someone having (and routinely using) more than one computer with a different IP might be beyond narrow-minded IDiotic expectation.

RBH (and Dave):

Yes, it’s obvious - unless you’re an IDiot (whether foolish sheeple or deliberate conman).

Comment #44061

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 4:08 AM (e)

RBH, Dave, your comments are good. The basic problem by Dembski (and others, Dave Heddle does this too) is that they have to start by assuming a teeny tiny target. Once you do that, you can go to town on the math. The problem, of course, is that there is no justification for having to find a teeny tiny target. As someone who in undergrad research manipulated proteins willy-nilly to add amino acids to which flourescent molecules could be added, I can tell you, there are a hell of a lot of nearby sequences which’ll work fine. The teeny tiny target is irrelevant to evolution.

Comment #44062

Posted by RBH on August 20, 2005 6:17 AM (e)

Dave M wrote

RBH - I suspect it was something about choosing a location in the same neighborhood as your parent’s or as near as possible instead of choosing a location at random.

Related to that, yeah. It’s a technical paper on defining neighborhoods on directed graphs. It nicely demonstrates that some mathematically sophisticated people have a whole lot better idea of what’s going on in biological evolution than Dembski does. There are actually mathematicians who consider how the terms and operators of their formalisms map into the entities, processes, and relationships in the world so as not to add two apples to three oranges and conclude one has five kumquats, as Dembski does.

RBH

Comment #44065

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 20, 2005 7:37 AM (e)

OK, so the dick is still waving.

(closes door and walks away)

Comment #44070

Posted by the pro from dover on August 20, 2005 8:26 AM (e)

its nice to see lenny and russ again, i was starting to fall asleep at my computer. Russ where is that goldarned scientific theory of intelligent designed that you so strongly hinted in the past that you actually knew what it was? I am glad that mr.Elsberry is a member of the United Methodist Church as is the pro, (flourish of trumpets),
lenny doesnt like religious evangelizing but at PT but in the past others have asked why dont main stream churches come out against I.D. and creationism as topics in science classes at the high school level? At St. Andrew UMC in Highlands Ranch Colo. they sure do and there have even been sermons on this exact topic (which are probably available on their website). The motto: the church where you dont check your brain at the door. It has been vere heartening to see the increase in membership since the church moved to that site when you consider that this is an ultra-consrvative area of a very red state (excluding the peoples republic of Boulder). Although I havent seen it yet on PT, legislation is being introduced to include ID
at the high school level and is being supported primarily by Catholic educators and representatives. Much skirmishing has been taking place in the editorial section of the Rocky Mountain News.

Comment #44078

Posted by Alan on August 20, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

Is this a joke?

Maybe the T space thing was the final nail in the coffin..

Comment #44080

Posted by Alan on August 20, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

Never mind.

Comment #44081

Posted by neurode on August 20, 2005 11:41 AM (e)

RBH: “Neurode merely repeats Dembski’s error. Recall that the theory of evolution begins when there is a population of imperfect replicators with heritable variation.”

That might be where the theory begins, but the theory purports to describe a process, call it E. The nature and efficacy of this process - and the correctness of the theory in describing it - is what is really at issue. RBH apparently doesn’t want to admit that his preferred theory of evolution T(E), whereby E supposedly produces information in great abundance, cannot be implanted a priori in arguments regarding the possible existence of such a process.

RBH: “The theory of evolution observes that there is descent with modification.”

However, the theory does not guarantee that the modifications in question will conduce to survival and reproducibility. This is an important point, because even according to T(E), the mutations in question contain much of the probability-busting information arising through the process E.

RBH: “What is modified? The existing population, which is itself in T.”

But of course - the population is already in T! But the issue is, how did it get there, and how does it remain there? This is the central question in the ID-evolution debate…the question about which Dembski is arguing. Without keeping this question squarely in mind, one cannot properly interpret Dembski’s work.

RBH: “Given the several evolutionary operators that we know exist (mutations of various kinds, recombination of various kinds), a population exists on several fitness landscapes, one for each operator.”

However, these operators require additional information in order to get us into T, and even into the fitness landscape containing T, and T(E) does not explain this. I’ll grant that the evolutionary efficacy of these operators, which is the matter to be decided, has certain implications regarding the fitness landscape. But these implications are dependent on information, the source of which remains to be explained. It is not enough to observe that a group of organisms already conveniently resides in an information-rich sector of the landscape, where the reason for that is the issue to be resolved.

RBH: “Those fitness landscapes (or at least one of them) must have properties conducive to evolutionary ‘search’ (much as I hate the search metaphor for evolution). Notably, they must have non-random topographies. See especially Section 6.4.2 of the linked paper. (Warning: large pdf)”

Unfortunately, the properties in question - the information implicit in the landscapes - cannot be exclusively attributed to the operators mentioned by RBH, at least as they have thus far been described. Specifically, RBH is omitting the all-important correlation between mutation and fitness, simply taking it for granted in applying his operators. This appears to be an attempt to avoid the brunt of the issue.

RBH: “An evolving population is always either in T, with the evolutionary operators generating a cloud of variants in or near T (where”near” on any landscape is defined as one application of the operator that induces that landscape), or it is extinct.”

In which case it is no longer evolving, regardless of whatever definition of “evolution” one happens to favor, which may not be valid in the first place.

RBH: “Extant evolving populations at any time slice are in T.”

But WHY? That’s the issue. One can’t base his argument on the application of “evolutionary operators” without justifying their evolutionary efficacy, and one can’t do that without identifying the source of the information implicit in the specific genotype-phenotype correspondences on which evolutionary efficacy is critically dependent.

RBH: “The evolutionary operators do not generate variants randomly over the whole space; the distribution of variants is biased to be near T. Hence the probabilities, conditional or otherwise, that Dembski and his sycophants trumpet are irrelevant.”

And there it is - the argument of Dave Mullenix again, in a nutshell. “Given that a class of evolving organisms is always in T, and given that evolution occurs gradually by small displacements along the fluctuating gradient of a shifting fitness landscape, and given that all of these little displacements are by definition within the range of possibilities permitted by the evolutionary operators driving the whole process, evolution effortlessly follows the contours of evolutionary space, as captured by the fitness landscape(s)! It’s all in the way the operators automatically, in fact by definition, follow the topography of the fitness landscape(s)!”

Unfortunately, something very important has gotten lost in there: the ultimate source of the information implicit in the overall relationship between organisms, operators and landscapes. This information can be at least partially identified with the strange occurrence of beneficial mutations, something which T(E) conspicuously fails to explain. (Note: One cannot explain the possibility of a long string of cumulative beneficial mutations by the continuous presence of organisms within T, when one is simultaneously attempting to explain the continuous presence of organisms in T by a long string of beneficial mutations.)

RBH: “Given that, evolution will occur.”

In other words, “Given the applicability of my definition of evolution T(E), which is given by proximity to T, evolution will occur.” This is already circular. But worse still, proximity to T is NOT necessarily given by RBH’s (weak and inspecific) definition T(E) of E; it is only given by the actual process E, the correct and comprehensive definition of which is the very issue to be decided.

RBH: “Precisely what will evolve is unpredictable in particular, depending as it does in part on stochastic processes, …”

Stochastic dependency, while present in T(E), is not necessarily present in E as it actually exists.

RBH: “…but it is predictable in general. If one takes an end-point of the evolutionary process and looks back, pretending that the end-point was somehow “targeted” or “intended”, one will calculate a tiny probability of occurrence of that particular end-point. When one realizes that no particular end-point was “targeted”, … “

However, something IS targeted, namely a particular relationship between the state of the organism and its fitness landscape, as described in terms of nameless invariants which remain constant as the merates (organism and landscape) cross-adapt. The fact that these invariants have not yet been clearly identified does not imply the absence of a target. If there were no target of any kind, then fitness would have no meaning, natural selection could not occur, and neo-Darwinism would lose its central content.

RBH: “…the probabiity is 1.0 that the process will produce end-points far from the origin of an evolutionary trajectory, the original replicating population. It follows that in using his tiny probabilities to infer design, Dembski is merely begging the question: He must assume that the end-point was “intended” or “targeted” in order to calculate his tiny probabilities. But of course, that’s the question he pretends to address.”

Dembski doesn’t have to address that question, because there IS a target, namely the predicate “fitness” (viability and reproducibility), the definitive relationship between living organisms and their environments. Call this target T’. The fluctuation of T does not preclude the existence of T’, and for present purposes, it is enough to know that finding or remaining within T’ requires some amount of information. The issue, once again, is whether RM&NS, plus some set of physical operators, can provide this amount of information, and how.

RBH: “The only “probability” that’s relevant is the probability of occurrence of the original population of replicators, and that is currently unknown.”

This would be true only under certain assumptions whose validity has yet to be established.

Neurode

Comment #44083

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

All this fake math from the creationists. Do they believe it? Do they really think something in Information Theory debunks evolution? I would like to see Neurode alert some Information Theory researchers to his concerns, and see what they have to say. This math charade has gone on for some time now. Perhaps the Lords of PT would consider asking an IT researcher to comment on the claims?

Comment #44084

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

RBH: “Extant evolving populations at any time slice are in T.”

But WHY? That’s the issue.

Neurode, given that you can’t understand even simple things like why extant evolving populations at any time slice are automatically in T, I doubt you’ll understand this paper, but it explains some fatal problems with Dembski’s claims.

Elsberry, Wesley, and Jeffrey Shallit, 2003. Information theory, evolutionary computation, and Dembski’s “complex specified information”. http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandsdembski.pdf

Comment #44085

Posted by neurode on August 20, 2005 12:04 PM (e)

That’s a good idea, steve. So feel free to get off your duff and get a real, certified “Lord of IT” right on over here so that everybody can watch what happens. (Make sure he uses his real name, since that’s the only way we can know that he’s a real “Lord of IT”.)

Comment #44090

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

That IS a good idea! Personally, speaking as just your average scientist on the street, I find RBH’s explanations lucid, and Neurode’s not. I know that RBH is, in fact, professionally and academically involved at least in the ballpark of these issues. Who knows? Maybe if we knew neurode’s real name, we’d realize we already have an IT expert gracing the barstools of Panda’s Thumb!

Comment #44093

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

Maybe if we knew neurode’s real name, we’d realize we already have an IT expert gracing the barstools of Panda’s Thumb!

Damn these cheap chinese sarcasm meters. Should’ve had a bigger fuse.

Comment #44096

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 20, 2005 12:47 PM (e)

Pro said:

“lenny doesnt like religious evangelizing but at PT but in the past others have asked why dont main stream churches come out against I.D. and creationism as topics in science classes at the high school level?”

On PT??? When?? never has anyone here on PT thought it would be a good idea that i have ever seen. I have seen suggestions (from myself as well), that ID be brought up as an excercise in failed logic in a logic analysis class, or could be brought up in ethics courses or even comparative philosophy courses/religion. However, I have NEVER seen anyone representing PT or supporting evolution ever suggest that this would be a good thing to do in science class.

I highly recommend you reword or rethink that statement.

Comment #44100

Posted by neurode on August 20, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

Save the bratty chitchat, boys. Just get Mr. IT Big Cheese right on over here, so that everybody can witness at first hand the degree of logical acumen possessed by a real honest-to-betsy “Lord of IT” in this modern technologically advanced society of ours.

(Just be careful that you choose a fellow hardcore ID critic rather than a real information theorist. Because if he’s real, then when the heat gets turned up on him, it’s dollars to doughnuts he’ll turn on you.)

Comment #44103

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 20, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

to repeat a phrase - what ARE you on about?

It’s already been explained to you several times that no REAL information theorists have ever or ever will take Dembski’s musings seriously.

Why on earth would any of them bother to come here to debate it then? Especially when the very assumptions Dembki’s drivel is based on are flawed to begin with.

sad.

Comment #44106

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

(Just be careful that you choose a fellow hardcore ID critic rather than a real information theorist. Because if he’s real, then when the heat gets turned up on him, it’s dollars to doughnuts he’ll turn on you.)

No, no. We’re interested in objective analyses here, not cheerleading. Would you like to submit a few names to consider, Mr. Neurode? Perhaps one of the IT experts who have given Dembski’s work favorable reviews. I can’t find any, myself, but it’s not my field.

Comment #44107

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 20, 2005 1:20 PM (e)

“in the past others have asked why dont main stream churches come out against I.D. and creationism as topics in science classes at the high school level?”

On PT??? When?? never has anyone here on PT thought it would be a good idea that i have ever seen. I have seen suggestions (from myself as well), that ID be brought up as an excercise in failed logic in a logic analysis class, or could be brought up in ethics courses or even comparative philosophy courses/religion. However, I have NEVER seen anyone representing PT or supporting evolution ever suggest that this would be a good thing to do in science class.

You seem to be misparsing; pro is suggesting that [mainstream churches should oppose [the teaching of creationism in science classes]], not that [[mainstream churches should oppose creationism] in science classes].

Comment #44113

Posted by C.J.O'Brien on August 20, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

Neurode, that was “Lords of PT,” *pssst, that stands for P-a-n-d-a-s T-h-u-m-b* finding an “IT researcher.”

And the first thing a “real” information theorist is going to ask is, just what is this “information” you keep talking about anyway?
Because sometimes it seems like Dembski wants to talk about Shannon Information, and sometimes it seems like he’s talking about surprisal. Sometimes it just seems like he’s making up new terms for “improbability.”

the mutations in question contain much of the probability-busting information arising through the process E.

these operators require additional information in order to get us into T

I’ll grant that the evolutionary efficacy of these operators, which is the matter to be decided, has certain implications regarding the fitness landscape. But these implications are dependent on information, the source of which remains to be explained.

Unfortunately, something very important has gotten lost in there: the ultimate source of the information implicit in the overall relationship between organisms, operators and landscapes.

OK, big guy.
Let’s see a reasonably formal definition we can plug into your four statements here in place of the term “information”.

I predict word salad.

If you are using different definitions for the different contexts, then I think that needs to be justified, and made plain.

Comment #44119

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 2:25 PM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

What I am interested in knowing about ID and Creation opponents is whether or not many of them are in fact atheist or at least people who believe that traditional religion is something that ought to be done away with. I have nothing against people holding such views. I am just interested in what kind of a debate this truly is.

I think the closest thing you’re going to find to reliable statistics on this kind of question are published by Ed Larson. Let me know if you would like me to find the exact reference.

But what I find much more striking than the clustering of religious viewpoints of the ID critics (just look at the disputes that break out among them here at PT!) is that among ID/creo advocates: overwhelmingly fundamentalist* christian.

*sensu lato

Comment #44126

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 20, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

“You seem to be misparsing; pro is suggesting that [mainstream churches should oppose [the teaching of creationism in science classes]], not that [[mainstream churches should oppose creationism] in science classes].”

thanks TS; yes, you appear to be correct, and nice presentation of set theory too :p

Comment #44127

Posted by Mona on August 20, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

Russell, actually, according to Barbara Forrest most IDers are evangelicals:

“There is a marriage of convenience between young-Earth creationists (YECs) and ID creationists. The fundamentalist YECs insist on the literal interpretation of Genesis, which includes the view that Earth is only 6,000-10,000 years old. Most ID proponents are evangelicals who allow a little more room for biblical interpretation than fundamentalists do. They are not literalists but accept modern scientific evidence that Earth is several billion years old. This is a source of conflict between the two groups, but YECs have had their day in court (quite a few of them, in fact) and have lost every time. They know that they have no hope of getting their own views into public school science classes. Phillip Johnson knows this, too, but he also needs the YECs’ political support. And there are YECs in the ID movement such as Paul Nelson, a philosopher, and Nancy Pearcey, a Christian writer and commentator. Both are longtime CRSC fellows. YECs and ID proponents are united by their social and political conservatism, so Johnson has tried to construct a “big tent,” a coalition of YECs and ID creationists, hoping to use the strength of their combined numbers as a political force. The YECs have gone along, grudgingly at times, eager to profit from the Wedge’s hoped-for success at getting ID into public schools. For them, ID is now the only game in town.”

Rest of her interview here.

Comment #44132

Posted by RBH on August 20, 2005 3:29 PM (e)

I’ll address a few of the misrepresentations and confusions in neurode’s most recent.

neurode wrote

That might be where the theory [of evolution] begins, but the theory purports to describe a process, call it E. The nature and efficacy of this process - and the correctness of the theory in describing it - is what is really at issue. RBH apparently doesn’t want to admit that his preferred theory of evolution T(E), whereby E supposedly produces information in great abundance, cannot be implanted a priori in arguments regarding the possible existence of such a process.

If “information” here means “variability”, that’s no problem to explain: temporal and spatial variation in the physical environment and interactions of multiple populations (coevolution) do a fine job. E is modelable, experimentally testable in vitro and in vivo and in silice, and by golly, the purely physical processes it invokes – variation-generating mechanisms of various sorts resulting in differential heritable reproductive fitness on non-uniform fitness landscapes – do just fine at producing “information”, depending, of course, on what definition Dembski and his sycophants are using for “information” today.

neurode wrote

However, the theory does not guarantee that the modifications in question will conduce to survival and reproducibility. This is an important point, because even according to T(E), the mutations in question contain much of the probability-busting information arising through the process E.

That’s absolutely correct: they do not guarantee that, and the history of life is littered with the fossils of extinct critters for whom there was and is no guarantee of survival and reproductive success. That’s the “error” part of evolutionary trial and error. And one can explain, using T(E), why some fail and some survive.

neurode wrote

But of course - the population is already in T! But the issue is, how did it get there, and how does it remain there? This is the central question in the ID-evolution debate…the question about which Dembski is arguing. Without keeping this question squarely in mind, one cannot properly interpret Dembski’s work.

Then Dembski is arguing about abiogenesis, and ought not be blathering about flagella. As to how it remains there, Dave Mullinex addressed that earlier. The offspring (variants) that stray too far from T die, do not reproduce. Note that a substantial proportion of human conceptions spontaneously abort – there’s a whole lot of non-T pruning going on even now as we write.

neurode wrote

However, these operators require additional information in order to get us into T, and even into the fitness landscape containing T, and T(E) does not explain this. I’ll grant that the evolutionary efficacy of these operators, which is the matter to be decided, has certain implications regarding the fitness landscape. But these implications are dependent on information, the source of which remains to be explained. It is not enough to observe that a group of organisms already conveniently resides in an information-rich sector of the landscape, where the reason for that is the issue to be resolved.

The operators do not have to “get us into T”! As others have pointed out, if neurode doesn’t understand that, he doesn’t understand evolution well enough to be bloviating about models of it. ‘Course, Dembski’s doesn’t, so why should neurode be different?

And there’s that “information” bit (!) again. What E “needs” to operate is a space- and/or time-variable environment, where that environment displays some of the properties in the link I pointed to above – mostly variations with time grains longer than the frequency composition implied by the intergenerational period of the population at issue.

neurode wrote

Unfortunately, the properties in question - the information implicit in the landscapes - cannot be exclusively attributed to the operators mentioned by RBH, at least as they have thus far been described. Specifically, RBH is omitting the all-important correlation between mutation and fitness, simply taking it for granted in applying his operators. This appears to be an attempt to avoid the brunt of the issue.

But no “correlation” (mutual information) between mutations and fitness is invoked. Remember, “mutations are random with respect to fitness”? That’s what that means. This remark of neurode’s also displays some confusion about what an operator inducing the geometry of a topography means.

neurode wrote

RBH: “An evolving population is always either in T, with the evolutionary operators generating a cloud of variants in or near T (where”near” on any landscape is defined as one application of the operator that induces that landscape), or it is extinct.”

In which case it is no longer evolving, regardless of whatever definition of “evolution” one happens to favor, which may not be valid in the first place.

Yup, extinct populations no longer evolve. There are lots and lots of them in the fossil record.

neurode wrote

RBH: “Extant evolving populations at any time slice are in T.”

But WHY? That’s the issue. One can’t base his argument on the application of “evolutionary operators” without justifying their evolutionary efficacy, and one can’t do that without identifying the source of the information implicit in the specific genotype-phenotype correspondences on which evolutionary efficacy is critically dependent.

Because those that aren’t in T are dead, extinct, gone, wave bye-bye. What we see today are those that have (so far) managed to stay in T.

neurode wrote

And there it is - the argument of Dave Mullenix again, in a nutshell. “Given that a class of evolving organisms is always in T, and given that evolution occurs gradually by small displacements along the fluctuating gradient of a shifting fitness landscape, and given that all of these little displacements are by definition within the range of possibilities permitted by the evolutionary operators driving the whole process, evolution effortlessly follows the contours of evolutionary space, as captured by the fitness landscape(s)! It’s all in the way the operators automatically, in fact by definition, follow the topography of the fitness landscape(s)!”

Sorry, but that gloss is a misrepresentation. It’s better (= more accurately) phrased as “Given that a population is in T, and given that evolution occurs incrementally where the increments (neighborhood) are defined by the variants generated by applications of the evolutionary operators on the several fitness landscapes induced by those operators, and given that those increments are by necessity those enabled by the evolutionary operators (the operators generate the directed graph that describes the fitness landscape), evolution, often haltingly and jerkily, tracks some of the contours of the fitness landscapes”. Don’t forget there are stochastic processes involved, too – Dembski and his methods seem to have trouble incorporating the thought that law and chance both operate. And it is an automatic consequence of the population (not the operators) tracking the topography of the landscapes induced by the operators. (For those who are beginning to froth at the mouth, no, I’m not a pan-adaptationist, but until neurode at least understands how adaptive evolution works, introducing stuff like genetic drift and the role of neutral variation in percolation models on uncorrelated landscapes is hopeless.)

neurode went on

Unfortunately, something very important has gotten lost in there: the ultimate source of the information implicit in the overall relationship between organisms, operators and landscapes. This information can be at least partially identified with the strange occurrence of beneficial mutations, something which T(E) conspicuously fails to explain. (Note: One cannot explain the possibility of a long string of cumulative beneficial mutations by the continuous presence of organisms within T, when one is simultaneously attempting to explain the continuous presence of organisms in T by a long string of beneficial mutations.)

Here neurode is wandering back into the combinatorial morass that Dembski leads him to. If by “information” neurode means “improbability”, then he has bought into Dembski’s notion that organisms can be treated as discrete combinatorial objects – Hoyle’s ignorant ‘tornado in a junkyard’ metaphor. But it appears that neurode is reifying “information” as somehow existing apart from its instantiation in matter and energy, and it must be poured into matter and energy as gasoline is poured into an automobile’s tank, ready to be transformed into heat and motion. In my view (thank you, Rolf Landauer), any “information” is inherent in the relations and is a property of the relations that we can describe, not something outside them that has independent existence. We humans may describe a quantity we call “information” that characterizes the correlation between a sender and receiver, but that “information” does not exist independent of its instantiation in the matter and energy of the sender, channel, and receiver.

neurode wrote

However, something IS targeted, namely a particular relationship between the state of the organism and its fitness landscape, as described in terms of nameless invariants which remain constant as the merates (organism and landscape) cross-adapt. The fact that these invariants have not yet been clearly identified does not imply the absence of a target. If there were no target of any kind, then fitness would have no meaning, natural selection could not occur, and neo-Darwinism would lose its central content.

Any “target” is local, not global, and is invisible except as the local topographies of the fitness landscapes are occupied by elements (organisms) of the population. Any part of a fitness landscape that is unoccupied by a member of the population is invisible to the population and to evolution. “Target” is an anthropomorphic imposition on the system, not a property of the system. If an evolving system seems to “find” targets, it an appearance only, a by-product of purely local processes. In other terms, there is clearly a utility function in biological evolution (relative reproductive success), but that utility function is served only locally, not globally. Were it served globally there would be no extinction. The search metaphor for biological evolution is a snare and a delusion, powerful though the illusion might be because we want to think we’re somehow special. But we’re not. Evolution may find, but it does not search.

RBH

Comment #44134

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

Mona, thanks. Barbara Forrest’s work should also be of interest to T. Russ.

I used the pretentious expression sensu lato partly because T. Russ had enquired about “ID and Creation opponents”, and the answer, as you note, depends on which subset you’re talking about.

“Fundamentalist” has a very specific meaning, and I have in mind a category that would include the “capital F” Fundamentalists as well as catholics like Santorum and Behe, and in fact pretty much all the DI illuminati. I think someone here at PT has used the term “Johnsonist”, perhaps describing the category I have in mind.

I think of Johnsonism (after Phil Johnson, who articulated this quite well in “Darwin on Trial”) is a someone who sees no point in believing in a god that’s not actively involved in manipulating the physical stuff of the universe, a god that doesn’t tangibly answer prayers. I think a Johnsonite is someone for whom literal “miracles” - divine overriding of physical laws - are central to his/her faith.

Comment #44139

Posted by PvM on August 20, 2005 4:12 PM (e)

Neurode’s concept of information could benefit from some further explanation. Is Neurode using the concept as used by Dembski to merely point to something unlikely as explained by chance? Or does Neurode have another definition in mind.

Neurode wrote:

Unfortunately, something very important has gotten lost in there: the ultimate source of the information implicit in the overall relationship between organisms, operators and landscapes. This information can be at least partially identified with the strange occurrence of beneficial mutations, something which T(E) conspicuously fails to explain. (Note: One cannot explain the possibility of a long string of cumulative beneficial mutations by the continuous presence of organisms within T, when one is simultaneously attempting to explain the continuous presence of organisms in T by a long string of beneficial mutations.)

This is a fascinating topic but it is often tempting to simplify the arguments. For instance ‘the ultimate source of information’… What does Neurode mean by this?

The strange occurrence of beneficial mutations and something which T(E) fails to explain further complicate the discussion. Whenever there is variation, and such variation has effects on a phenotype there is a potential for detrimental, neutral and beneficial variations. Darwinism is based on very simple observed facts. The question next may be: How do we explain the genotype to phenotype mapping and although much is yet to be learned, science has shown some impressive advances (Landweber, Knight and others come to mind). I have collected and studied many papers on this topic which of significant interest to me, although it is of less interest to a discussion of evolutionary theory, except to point out that at least part of the evolution of the genetic code seems to have been driven by selection.

Now we reach an interesting stage in our understanding of evolution, namely the realization that “evolution itself evolves”. This concept, better known as evolvability becomes essential in understanding the role of neutral mutations for instance on both robustness and evolvability.
Evolvability essentially means that information about the past environment gets captured in the mechanisms of genetic variation causing genetic variation to become ‘biased’.

So, while evolutionary theory may not explain the existence of T(E), it is clear that once a viable self reproducing entity arises with heritable and mutable information that all the pre-requisites are there for evolution to proceed. Including the chance of total extinction…

Now we get to a next interesting issue. Scale free networks… In RNA it has been shown that there exists a scale free network with some ‘remarkable capabilities’. But before going into these capabilities, let me point out that relatively simple processes of duplication and preferential attachment can at least in principle explain scale free networks.
Having said this, let’s go back to RNA…

Fontana, Schuster, Stadler and many others have found that RNA has some interesting properties.

In this link I explain a few of the findings and in Scale Free Networks I show the relevance of their findings.

As is well known DNA sequences map to RNA or protein structures.

  1. There are far more sequences than structures
  2. Contains few highly-connected motifs and many less connected nodes
  3. Motifs have a neutral network which extends throughout sequence space

It can be shown that most of these structures extend throughout sequence space and that any given structure is close to any other structure.

This means that finding T(E) in RNA space seems quite trivial.

One may question: How did this happen but that is secondary to the issue of evolution.

Comment #44141

Posted by neurode on August 20, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

Since CJ isn’t a “Lord of IT”, let’s keep his initial helping of “word salad” as simple as possible: information is a function which attributes to some argument x a location in some space S of possible loci (values of attributes). Note that insofar as x either does or does not inhabit a given location in S, this is a 2-valued definition (a probabilistic definition of information is a bit more complicated, but the thrust is the same; it generates a probability distribution over S with respect to the location of x).

Now, each of the above quotes refers to a mapping of some object, e.g. an organism or class thereof, into a space of one or more attributes, e.g. evolutionary state space, with which some causality (state transition) function is associated, e.g. an “evolutionary operator” generating a fitness landscape.

Clearly, fitness landscapes and the operators that generate them purport to contain information; they supposedly restrict organisms to a subset of possible or likely locations in evolutionary state space.

The magic question: where does this information come from, and how is it generated by its source?

An argument that answers this question with a mere circular definition of states, operators and landscapes tells us essentially nothing. In particular, an argument to the effect that organisms occupy particular loci in evolutionary state space due to the action of evolutionary operators circularly defined on their loci in evolutionary state space is, you guessed it, circular. Hence, my remark: “One cannot explain the possibility of a long string of cumulative beneficial mutations by the continuous presence of organisms within T, when one is simultaneously attempting to explain the continuous presence of organisms in T by a long string of beneficial mutations.”

This should paint you an adequate picture. Now, if you think you’re able, stop dwelling on elementary definitions, and get busy identifying a source of evolutionary information that is not a mere circular definition nearly devoid of predictive value on the macroevolutionary scale.

RBH, let’s cut to the chase here. What is it, in your view, that causes some mutations to be beneficial (fitness-enhancing), given that T(E) fails to identify a mechanism linking mutation and fitness?

Please note that any failure to identify a mechanism by which an organism’s prospects for fitness can influence mutation renders the mutation operator devoid of information with respect to fitness, and contains no information serving to locate the description T(E) on a scale of validity. In that event, your entire thesis would (again) come down to: “A living organism is by definition close to a location characterized by fitness; hence, slight displacements are likely to put it near a location characterized by fitness!”

If you can answer this question in a noncircular way, I may begin to appreciate your viewpoint. Otherwise, it’s just another tailchase.

Comment #44145

Posted by PvM on August 20, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

Neurode (Bill?) wrote:

The magic question: where does this information come from, and how is it generated by its source?

You seem to be confusing probability with information.

So please explain how “An unnamed intelligent designer did it” is somehow less circular than “unspecified natural pathways”…?

Neurode wrote:

RBH, let’s cut to the chase here. What is it, in your view, that causes some mutations to be beneficial (fitness-enhancing), given that T(E) fails to identify a mechanism linking mutation and fitness?

That is incorrect as I have shown.

Comment #44146

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 4:57 PM (e)

an organism’s prospects for fitness can influence mutation…

Dude! you just blew my mind!

Comment #44147

Posted by SEF on August 20, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

A translation of neurode:

Information is something the IDists don’t know how to do in practice. But we will pretend for now that they can indeed give the equivalent of metaphorical map co-ordinates for each thing which may or may not be a viable life-form. Some co-ordinates are up the creek without a paddle while others are living the high life. NB Creationist-style floods of the landscape over time may change whether areas are viable or not. All fine so far … sort of …

Neurode then makes up an evolutionary operator (which he also can’t define), claims it too has information, implies its the same sort of information as a life-form mapping (though he may not have meant to do so) and that then also has to have a cause other than his own imagination. Finally neurode has the chutzpah to demand that we show him this cause he has assumed to exist when there is actually no such thing.

Fitness landscapes do not contain information which comes from somewhere and is imposed on life-forms. They are derived from observing, after the fact, whether or not something succeeded. Neurode wants to take the results of an election and ask how that bar chart or coloured map of candidates managed to go back in time and force the voters to vote for it.

So I accuse neurode of being the one indulging in circular reasoning and of begging the question by his prior assumption of the existence of this cause which he is simultaneously trying to prove exists (by falsely claiming that our version of events can’t do without it).

What is it, in your view, that causes some mutations to be beneficial

Nothing causes it in the active sense (creator/designer). The mutations (and their life-forms) only find out after the fact whether or not they have succeeded. In the passive sense, happening to get mapped back inside the current safe zone after inaccurate reproduction is what “causes” something to be declared safe, with beneficial being a refinement seen mostly from the future looking back when something turns out to be closer to the centre or a peak of the safe zone.

We never said there had to be a cause. You made up a fake necessity for a cause and then tried to blame us for not explaining it. It’s your problem not ours and always has been. In contrast, our system works and is self-consistent. It’s called evolution.

Comment #44148

Posted by RBH on August 20, 2005 5:17 PM (e)

neurode wrote

RBH, let’s cut to the chase here. What is it, in your view, that causes some mutations to be beneficial (fitness-enhancing), given that T(E) fails to identify a mechanism linking mutation and fitness?

Please note that any failure to identify a mechanism by which an organism’s prospects for fitness can influence mutation renders the mutation operator devoid of information with respect to fitness, and contains no information serving to locate the description T(E) on a scale of validity.

That distills the core misunderstanding (or perhaps ignorance) of biological evolution that neurode displays.

Mutations are ‘caused’ to be “beneficial” or “neutral” or “deleterious” (scare quotes because those terms require definitions, given below) by the the phenotypic differences that result from the developmental processes via which genetic variants are expressed as phenotypic variants (see evo-devo for details). Those phenotypic variants in turn yield differential relative (to the deme as a whole) reproductive success of the bearers of those genetic variants. Some mutations are deleterious, in the sense that their phenotypes’ relative reproductive success is reduced; many are neutral, having no discernible effect on the reproductive success of their phenotypes; and some are “beneficial”, by which is meant their phenotypes’ enjoy greater relative reproductive success than other phenotypes.

Again, this is relative reproductive success in the context of the deme of which the phenotypes are members. As a purely statistical matter then, being heritable the genes comprising the genotypes that result in relatively reproductively successful phenotypes will on average over generations become more frequent in the population, shifting the population mean in their “direction”. That’s called “evolution”.

That process requires no influence of “an organism’s prospects for fitness” on mutations. An organism’s “prospects for fitness” do not exist; its fitness (relative reproductive success) exists. To speak of “prospects” is to inject unnecessary teleology. The notion that mutations must be influenced by an organism’s “prospects for fitness” is confused at best.

neurode writes

“A living organism is by definition close to a location characterized by fitness; hence, slight displacements are likely to put it near a location characterized by fitness!”

Or it dies or is reproductively unsuccessful relative to its conspecifics. But the focus on a single organism is badly mistaken; it’s the population that occupies area on fitness landscapes, and it is the statistical properties of variation and differential reproductive success that ‘move’ a population on that landscape over time. (Once again, anti-pan-selectionists, relax!)

neurode’s focus on “an organism” betrays the core misunderstanding, a wish to have “fitness” be some absolute measure independent of context. But “fitness” is a relative measure across individual organisms, and can be as weak as an ordinal measure and evolution still “works”.

If I were to think about analyzing evolution in (pseudo-)information theoretic terms, I’d think about evolution via random mutations and natural selection as a process in which a “sender”, a time- and space-varying environment, transmits information to a “receiver”, the genome of the population, via a heavily filtered nonlinear transmission channel. In a way, the genomes of populations encode “information” (scare quotes because I’m using it informally) about environments (something roughly analogous to the “mutual information” of information theory), and in particular information about how to influence developmental processes to produce phenotypes that survive and successfully reproduce in the environments the populations have encountered. A genome doesn’t directly or isomorphically map a selective environment; it maps, in a much transformed manner, strategies for building phenotypes (via developmental processes) that survive and successfully reproduce in that environment. That, after all, is evolution’s utility function.

RBH

Comment #44150

Posted by Mona on August 20, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Russell writes: “Fundamentalist” has a very specific meaning, and I have in mind a category that would include the “capital F” Fundamentalists as well as catholics like Santorum and Behe, and in fact pretty much all the DI illuminati.

(I CANNOT figure out the tags here to quote people, and put their words in those nifty white boxes. And I’m done with previewing or posting “mismatched tags” every time I try!)

I’m no scientist, but I have a background in religious studies, including some significant examination of the creationist movement. “Fundamentalist” has a, shall we say, different taxonomical status than do evangelicals within the study of religion.

Bush is an evangelical. I know his recent remarks on ID set everyone off, but do not look for him to use his bully pulpit to press the issue. His comments were given in response to a question by a reporter; he is unlikely to raise the subject himself.

In the main, evangelicals do not like to politicize religion; they are experiential rather than dogmatic, and do not adhere to a tough-minded Old Testament God. But they have been compelled by their faith to act: they did, after all, contribute heavily to abolitionism and women’s suffrage, among other social movements. Fundamentalists, by contrast, historically eshchewed political involvement until they perceived evolution and its purported attendant “evils” as an attack on their faith. Until Falwell, the Moral Majority & etc., they didn’t appear much in politics.

Many, many evangelicals are decent and reasonable people. We need their help in defeating the few in their midst who are pushing ID and “The Wedge” agenda. This evangelical dominance in the new creationism of ID is novel. I seriously doubt most of them want to be the next creationist vanguard.

Comment #44152

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 20, 2005 6:59 PM (e)

Mona: (I CANNOT figure out the tags here to quote people, and put their words in those nifty white boxes. And I’m done with previewing or posting “mismatched tags” every time I try!)

There’s a guide available at the “Use KwickXML formatting …” link, though it assumes more programming background than many people have.

The commands you want are “blockquote” (without the quotation marks, but with angle brackets - > - around the word) at the beginning of your quote, and “/blockquote” (ditto the angle brackets) at the end.

Until Falwell, the Moral Majority & etc., they didn’t appear much in politics.

Your “religious studies”, if dealing with the contemporary US scene, really should have noted that a concerted attempt to recruit fundamentalists and evangelicals for the Republican Party began soon after Barry Goldwater’s disastrous presidential campaign in 1964, led by junk-mail-meister Richard Viguerie and behind-the-scenes political fixer Paul Weyrich. They didn’t really hit their stride until Jimmy Carter made white evangelists mentionable in the mainstream media in ‘76. After getting a taste of power under Ronald Reagan, they developed an explicit craving for social “dominion” and a working alliance with corporate string-pullers, with results we’re now all aware of.

Comment #44153

Posted by T. Russ on August 20, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

Russell: Thanks for the citing offer on Ed Larson. I have read all of his books and greatly anticipate his future research on this topic. Yes, Ed Larson was a student of Ronald Numbers and has continued research in the same areas of evolution, creation, and their social-religious interactions. In Larson’s recent book, “Evolution. The Remarkable History of a Scientific Idea” the religious views of most of the scientists and philosophers involved with the origination and continuing progress in evolutionary theory are discussed. It is in historical works such as those coming from Larson and Numbers that much evidence can be gleemed supporting the claims of us non-naturalistic types that many hardcore promoters of evolution have been driven by philosophical commitments to naturalistic ontology.

Mona and others:

There seems to be a couple of very different conversations going on here but as for the questions of fundamentalist suppport for ID and ID’s relationship to YEC…I think the issue is a bit more complex than we have yet treated it. I am now reading “Species of Origin. America’s Continuing Search for a Creation Story” and the approach in this book by Yerxa and Giberson looks to be promising. As for Barbara Forrest and similar treatments of the ID communities relationship to religion, I find these to be confused at a very serious level. The distinction must be made between the ID “Movement”, which is supportedly largely by Christian people in America who believe very strongly in what many call fundamentalism, and the development of ID theory or research. Many ID theorist are religionist while a few are not. I guess much could be said about this distinction and should be said but for now, let point out that Babara Forrest, a major critic of the ID Movement, is herself someone who is opposed to religious ontology. Like many others, (Massimo Piggliucci, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and this list goes on for quite some time) I believe a very strong case can be made that the passion which drive these scholars onward in their critique and public outcry against ID, is derived from their disdain of religion. I do not believe all hardcore anti-ID people are driven by a fear of religion gaining ground in academia or the scientific world, but it is a curious fact that many seem to.

Comment #44155

Posted by Mona on August 20, 2005 7:51 PM (e)

Pierce R. Butler writes: Your “religious studies”, if dealing with the contemporary US scene, really should have noted that a concerted attempt to recruit fundamentalists and evangelicals for the Republican Party began soon after Barry Goldwater’s disastrous presidential campaign in 1964, led by junk-mail-meister Richard Viguerie and behind-the-scenes political fixer Paul Weyrich. They didn’t really hit their stride until Jimmy Carter made white evangelists mentionable in the mainstream media in ‘76.

I do not see how this differs from what I wrote. Fact is, until the late 70s, fundamentalists as such were not a valued political force sought for marshalling. But if you have some counter evidence, I would certainly consider it.

And thank you for your reference to the formatting guide: I consulted it. It is so different from every other place I comment, and I just am no longer willing to expend time to learn the protocols.

Comment #44156

Posted by Mona on August 20, 2005 8:07 PM (e)

T Russ writes; I guess much could be said about this distinction and should be said but for now, let point out that Babara Forrest, a major critic of the ID Movement, is herself someone who is opposed to religious ontology. Like many others, (Massimo Piggliucci, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and this list goes on for quite some time) I believe a very strong case can be made that the passion which drive these scholars onward in their critique and public outcry against ID, is derived from their disdain of religion.

I do not know what it means to be “opposed to religious ontology,” as you allege Dr. Forrest is. But she is correct to differentiate between evangelicals and fundamentalists, as a historical and sociological matter. She is pretty much spot on in all she writes, that I have seen.

T Russ, do you really think all the evolutionary scientists, worldwide, practice their science in the service of anti-religion? C’mon.

Comment #44164

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 20, 2005 8:47 PM (e)

“T. Russ” Hunter is looking to marginalize Keith Miller, Ken Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Howard Van Till, Francis Collins, and a list that goes on for quite some time, including me, of Christians who critique ID.

The inconvenient (for Hunter) fact is that quite a lot of the criticism that ID receives comes from Christian scholars. It makes the claim that there’s a general trend to anti-religious stances in ID criticism laughable. Contrast that with the parallel concern over the near-universal commitment among ID advocates (and universal among the best-known ID advocates) to Christianity.

So I would like to thank “T. Russ” Hunter for validating the general mode of argument that makes it a slam dunk to say that ID is a religious enterprise. When ID advocates or cheerleaders take issue with that, I’ll just point to Hunter as the relevant authority on the mode of argument and ask them to take it up with him.

Comment #44173

Posted by Arun on August 20, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

Here, explain “exotic R4” if possible:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/ExoticR4.html

Comment #44174

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 20, 2005 9:56 PM (e)

what i keep seeing over and over, and similarly anyone else that either isn’t deliberately deceitful or just self deluded, is that it is ALWAYS those from the ID/creationist side that try to make this into a religious argument. all of the real scientists (including dawkins) have repeatedly attacked ID for it’s lack of science primarily, not whatever religious position it takes.

the attempt to portray this as a battle of atheists vs. theists is purely a construct of the ID folks for political purposes; regardless of whether they try to couch it in terms of “methodological naturalism” or not. period.

the fact that some here and elswhere HAVE tried to point out the vacuousness of ID from a theological position as well in no way reflects the type of debate the IDiots keep trying to frame it as. You will not find on PT any official contributer having posted the idea that atheism is de-rigeur amongst “real” scientists, or that it has anything to do with why ID is considered bankrupt both morally and scientifically.

what really irks me tho, is how many folks are apparently taken in by the false protrayals painted by the IDiots. I would expect deceit from the ID side, since the people behind the scenes driving it really have no morals or scruples other than a desire to control. However, the fact that so many folks are convinced by their rhetoric is of far more concern to me.

sad, really.

Comment #44175

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 10:12 PM (e)

Now we’re back to arguing with T. Russ again. T. Russ is a philosophy and history student. Who else shows up to defend ID? Charlie Wagner was a school teacher. Neurode is, I don’t know, probably a convenience store clerk. Sal Cordova has some undergrad degrees in math or engineering or something. Francis Beckwith was a philosopher. Ditto Paul Nelson. Can anyone recall an actual biologist ever, ever, showing up here to defend ID? I can’t.

Comment #44176

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 20, 2005 10:16 PM (e)

“Neurode is, I don’t know, probably a convenience store clerk.”

lol.

Comment #44177

Posted by steve on August 20, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

Plenty of christians don’t go along with pseudoscience. I personally like this guy Roger C. Wiens. He’s a christian and a physicist/geologist who basically got tired of wacko Young Earth Creationists making christians look like morons via anti-radiometric-dating nonsense, so he wrote a tutorial about it for them.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html

Comment #44186

Posted by Russell on August 20, 2005 11:49 PM (e)

If T. Russ is still with us, I’m curious. I believe that you, and Salvador Cordova, and Casey Luskin are all involved in “IDEA clubs” - university campus organizations interested in “Intelligent Design”. We learned a while back that at least Luskin’s franchise has a rule that nonchristians were barred from eligibility as officers of the organization. He completely failed to understand how this in any way detracted from their scientific credibility. My question is whether this rule applies to all “IDEA clubs”, or if that’s a chapter by chapter thing. Does it apply to yours?

Comment #44190

Posted by steve on August 21, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

Are you kidding me? Nonchristians were barred? Is it to late to get him to Dover?

Comment #44193

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 1:05 AM (e)

mona wrote:

(I CANNOT figure out the tags here to quote people …

It’s really quite easy; the following produces the box above.

<quote author="mona">(I CANNOT figure out the tags here to quote people ...</quote>

Comment #44194

Posted by T. Russ on August 21, 2005 1:07 AM (e)

Mona:

By “religious ontology” I mean simply the religious view of reality rather than the naturalistic, or secular. This is a broad category I am sure, but I was meaning it to be so.

In my post I did not say anything about “all” scientists who study or promote evolution being guided by fear or disdain of religion. Check it out…comment number 44153

Dr. Elsberry:

Umm, yes my last name is Hunter. My first name is Thomas, and my middle name is Russell. My fathers name is also Thomas so I grew up going by the name Russell. Of course, many of my friends shorten Russell to Russ and since I like the fact that my father gave me his name, I usually attatch a T. when writing my signature. Yup, that’s how it is on my social security card. Thanks for noticing?????

I am in no way trying to marginalize Keith Miller, Ken Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Howard Van Till, Francis Collins, you or any other Christians who critique ID. I didn’t bring them up. In fact if you go back up and read my posts you will see that what I am interested in is the curious fact that many anti-ID folks are either atheists or secular humanists with an interest in the removal of the religious view of reality from academic and public life. This is a documentable fact in the very same way that it is a documented fact (Forrest and Gross) that many of the most prominent ID theorists are some form of Christian evangelical.

And, I am aware that You and many others here at PT are theists or Christians. I personally do not believe that being a “christian” has very much to do with whether one thinks that complex specified information is something which exists in nature and is a true indicator of intelligent agent causation. Most of the christians I know really aren’t interested in the subject, but believe in some sort of theistic evolution which they know hardly anything about, and never really let these sorts of things bother them. I do not mean this to apply to all christians everywhere however and I do not wish to “marginalize” anybody.

Sir_Toejam:

Well, I agree. It’s not just Atheists vs. Theists. It’s far more complex than that. But that is a part of it. A part which I find interesting. As people like to note, I am a student of history and philosophy. Can I not be interested in the relationship between science and religion within the ID/Naturalism debate? Outside of my being interested, many actual scholars have documented the apparent religious worldview versus anti-religious worldview aspect of the ongoing “Darwin” debates in America.

steve:

Do you think that because there are no biologists who blog on PT, there are no biologists who support the ID hypothesis or oppose naturalistic evolution?

Neurode: If your a convenience store clerk (which I really really doubt), then let me congratulate you for getting online and mixing it up with the friendly combatants of PT. Keep it up.

Russell: IDEA Clubs (not any of them as far as I am aware) bar non-christians from membership. At OU we certainly do not. As for leadership, that would almost make sense because if you look at the IDEA Clubs Core beliefs:

Like any organization, IDEA itself is not without its own biases. Our mission statement plainly says that “[a]t the heart of our advocacy is to promote intelligent design theory purely on its scientific merits.” We recoginze that investigating over origins raises questions that are both religious and scientific in nature, but we are careful not to mix scientific claims with religious claims, and recognize that the two are distinct and different, though complementary to one-another.

Our ultimate hope is that people can at least learn about theories of “intelligent design” and be made aware of the many problems with purely naturalistic explanations for the existence of life. By exposing the lack of scientific evidence supporting the assertion that natural processes are purely responsible for life and conveying the empirical evidence supporting intelligent design theory, we hope to bring to light the value of intelligent design theory and cause people to evaluate their own beliefs.

So, we admit, IDEA does have an agenda and a bias. And, just as we encourage each other to admit bias at our events, the leadership of IDEA freely and publicy acknowledges its own bias: We believe that life is not the result of purely natural processes, but that it was in some way designed by an “intelligence.” And because of religious reasons unrelated to intelligent design theory, IDEA Center Leadership believes that the identity of the designer is the God of the Bible.

That’s our bias, and we’d love to know more about yours!

Comment #44195

Posted by steve on August 21, 2005 1:26 AM (e)

steve:

Do you think that because there are no biologists who blog on PT, there are no biologists who support the ID hypothesis or oppose naturalistic evolution?

There are lots of biologists who blog on PT. Try that again.

Comment #44196

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 21, 2005 2:13 AM (e)

T. Russ wrote:

I am in no way trying to marginalize Keith Miller, Ken Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Howard Van Till, Francis Collins, you or any other Christians who critique ID. I didn’t bring them up.

Well, yes, you did. Let’s refresh your memory…

T. Russ wrote:

Like many others, (Massimo Piggliucci, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and this list goes on for quite some time) I believe a very strong case can be made that the passion which drive these scholars onward in their critique and public outcry against ID, is derived from their disdain of religion. I do not believe all hardcore anti-ID people are driven by a fear of religion gaining ground in academia or the scientific world, but it is a curious fact that many seem to.

“I do not believe all X are Y” is phrasing that is commonly parsed among English speakers as meaning that some few token oddments of group X don’t fall into category Y. You made an implicit assertion here about the relative proportion of not-Y in X, namely that it was a small part of X. The list of names I provided is a part of that not-Y. Perhaps it wasn’t your intention to marginalize us, but it happened anyway.

Please do some more spinning. This looks like prime entertainment in the offing.

Most of the christians I know really aren’t interested in the subject, but believe in some sort of theistic evolution which they know hardly anything about, and never really let these sorts of things bother them.

Oh, and this sort of statement from ID cheerleaders is very annoying. For my opinion, the ID camp has a lot a chutzpah to accuse others of being into stuff that they “know hardly anything about”. For that matter, I haven’t gotten the impression that “T. Russ” has a field of relevant domain knowledge. So far, what I’ve seen from “T. Russ” has been generic sniping and liberal helpings of innuendo. Maybe I’ve forgotten something or overlooked it. Anybody else have a pointer to data?

This reminds me, how is that remedial reading coming? I seem to have missed wherever it was that “T. Russ” got “down and dirty” with my essays. Surely there wouldn’t be a violation of that “bearing false witness” rule going on, would there?

Comment #44197

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 2:16 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

what i keep seeing over and over, and similarly anyone else that either isn’t deliberately deceitful or just self deluded, is that it is ALWAYS those from the ID/creationist side that try to make this into a religious argument. all of the real scientists (including dawkins) have repeatedly attacked ID for it’s lack of science primarily, not whatever religious position it takes.

The “Intelligent Design and Miracles” thread is explicitly devoted the arguing that ID is bad theology. I pointed out several ways in which that’s a rather bad idea. But it does help illustrate that there are evolutionists with all sorts of belief systems.

T. Russ wrote:

I am in no way trying to marginalize Keith Miller, Ken Miller, Simon Conway Morris, Howard Van Till, Francis Collins, you or any other Christians who critique ID. I didn’t bring them up.

Indeed you didn’t. In other words, you’re making a dishonest argument via selective evidence.

In fact if you go back up and read my posts you will see that what I am interested in is the curious fact that many anti-ID folks are either atheists or secular humanists with an interest in the removal of the religious view of reality from academic and public life. This is a documentable fact in the very same way that it is a documented fact (Forrest and Gross) that many of the most prominent ID theorists are some form of Christian evangelical.

It’s hard to more dishonestly characterize the situation. Nearly all proponents of ID are Christian evangelicals, and the leadership is on record advocating the eliminating of “secular” science, using ID as a vehicle. OTOH, a much smaller fraction of proponents of evolution are atheists, and virtually none of them have advocated the elimination of religion from public life, and none of them have an active program for doing so. Some would prefer that religion would disappear, and some even expect that to happen eventually (before the extinction of the human race), but that’s not at all the same as having “an interest in the removal” – an active verb. There’s also the extreme dishonesty of your selective attention – virtually all atheists accept evolution and reject ID, for the same reasons that they accept astronomy and reject astrology, and accept gravity and reject intelligent falling. And it is among atheists that you are most likely to find people who wish or hope that religion would go away. And of course some atheists are evolutionary biologists. And of course it is in that intersection of sets that you will find someone with the views of, say, Richard Dawkins. So pointing out that people like Dawkins exist verges on a tautology, and ignoring people like Ken Miller or Stephen J. Gould or a host of other proponents of evolution with different views is either very dishonest, or displays very poor intuitions about set inclusion, or both.

As for leadership, that would almost make sense because if you look at the IDEA Clubs Core beliefs: …
because of religious reasons unrelated to intelligent design theory, IDEA Center Leadership believes that the identity of the designer is the God of the Bible.

Uh, that follows from the fact that only those people are allowed to be among the leadership. But as for those folks … of course they have reasons to believe in a Biblical God that are independent of ID. But what is relevant is the reverse: the influence of religious belief on belief in intelligent design creationism (not theory; you’ve been repeatedly asked for a theory had have given none; and don’t bother to show again your dishonesty by offering a “notion” that biological diversity can’t be explained without recourse to an intelligent designer, after having been told numerous times that such a declaration is not a scientific theory – as someone who claims to be educated in philosophy of science, you must know that without being told).

Comment #44198

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 2:29 AM (e)

Wesley R. Elsberry wrote:

This reminds me, how is that remedial reading coming? I seem to have missed wherever it was that “T. Russ” got “down and dirty” with my essays. Surely there wouldn’t be a violation of that “bearing false witness” rule going on, would there?

In case Mr. T. has forgotten his pledge:

Allright Wes, after tonight I won’t come back to pandasthumb until i’m ready to get down and dirty with your essays.

So if he’s not ready to do so and posts here again, he’s a proven liar.

Comment #44201

Posted by snaxalotl on August 21, 2005 3:18 AM (e)

I think there is some confusion between self-referential arguments and self-referential descriptions. A circular argument is bad, but circular (recursive) descriptions are common and valid. If a recursively defined system can be shown to produce a set of phenomena, then that system is a viable explanation of those phenomena.

Comment #44202

Posted by snaxalotl on August 21, 2005 3:22 AM (e)

AFAIK recursively defined things can always be defined non-recursively.

Comment #44203

Posted by snaxalotl on August 21, 2005 3:34 AM (e)

I wonder what the creationists would do with their calculators if their licence to multiply large numbers of probabilities were revoked.

Comment #44205

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 3:53 AM (e)

AFAIK recursively defined things can always be defined non-recursively.

Not always; see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ackermann_function

Comment #44206

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 4:01 AM (e)

Oops, I should have read the whole article:

The Ackermann function can also be expressed nonrecursively using Conway chained arrow:

or the hyper operators:

I had always thought that non-primitive recursive functions could not be expressed non-recursively; now I know better. But now I don’t know whether there are any functions that can’t be expressed non-recursively.

Comment #44211

Posted by the pro from dover on August 21, 2005 8:05 AM (e)

I would be loath to chase T. Russ away since I’m counting on him to help develop the actual *****Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design***** which I need in 2 weeks. Iwould like to point out; however, that my previous concept continues to be necessary which is: the *****Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design******(which I’d like to trademark) cannot be merely a metaphysical alternative to evolution but must replace all science from quantum mechanics to general relativity and all steps in between. No intelligent designer could possibly control the origin or diversity of life without havinng total control of all other scientific disciplines. Perhaps I am being naive, but it appears to me that evolution is the target because it has the least support in the general population(how many people would say that they dont believe in the atomic structure of matter). As I have stated in the past this could greatly simplify science education by reducing it to one sentence. This could pass great tax savings on to our citizens. We could teach our kids to say “do you want fries with that?” in every important foreign language.

Comment #44217

Posted by Russell on August 21, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

The IDEA Clubs' Core Beliefs wrote:

“[a]t the heart of our advocacy is to promote intelligent design theory purely on its scientific merits.” …Our ultimate hope is that people can at least learn about theories of “intelligent design” and be made aware of the many problems with purely naturalistic explanations for the existence of life. By exposing the lack of scientific evidence supporting the assertion that natural processes are purely responsible for life and conveying the empirical evidence supporting intelligent design theory, we hope to bring to light the value of intelligent design theory and cause people to evaluate their own beliefs…. IDEA Center Leadership believes that the identity of the designer is the God of the Bible.

Well, you’ve got to give them credit for candor. Consistency - no. But candor.

Here’s the thing. If I were joining an organization whose primary goal were to promote the spread of, or protect the rights of, say, atheists, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the organization at least tacitly assumed that the leaders would be atheists. But if the primary goal of, say, the American Chemical Society is to promote general understanding of chemistry, I wouldn’t consider joining it if it declared non-atheists ineligible for office.

So what are the other requirements for leadership positions? Do any of them have anything to do with science? Like, say, acceptance of scientific positions on common descent, age of the earth, shape of the earth?

Comment #44237

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 3:54 PM (e)

Going back to before the unfortunate (and dishonest) appearance of “T. Russ”:

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

Dembski wrote: Searching for small targets in large spaces is a common problem in the
sciences….


But you can get past that, eventually. What is more important is that two key delusions are already in the Abstract:
1) Evolution procedes by searching, randomly or otherwise, all sequences of a given length
2) Evolution is aiming at a ta[r]get

0) Evolution is something that scientists do.

i.e., producing biological diversity is not a “problem in the sciences”, only explaining how it happened is. Dembski fails from the first sentence to identify or comprehend what problem is to be solved. By wrongly associating the production of biological diversity with the activities of scientists, he begs the question by attaching teleology where none belongs. Producing biological diversity is no more a search process than is producing snowflakes.

Comment #44243

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 5:05 PM (e)

William Dembski wrote:

Of course, we need to make sure that the random walk has no unfair advantage
in finding the target. For instance, the random walk must not have
an inherent tendency to drift toward the target T . This would unduly increase
the probability of the walk reaching the target.

So if T is fitness and mutations are random, but those mutations that don’t tend toward fitness are more likely to be discarded (by not being reproduced), then Dembski’s random model doesn’t apply. Glad we got that straight!

By intelligence, here, I mean something quite definite, namely,
factors that change one probability distribution into another and thus,
present discussion, transform a blind search into an assisted search.

So a trench that changes the probability distribution of the location of flowing water is intelligent, by Dembski’s lights. Glad we got that straight!

To be fair, Dembski acknowledges that his definition of intelligence is this broad, but then argues that it can’t be reduced to stochastic processes. But that depends upon the absurd question-begging assumption that the outcomes are goals – that, for instance, the distribution of water molecules is intended by the trench.

There is
a growing debate whether the mechanisms currently proposed by evolutionary
biology are adequate to account for biological structures and functions (see, for
example, Depew and Weber 1995, Behe 1996, and Dembski and Ruse 2004).
Suppose they are. Suppose the evolutionary searches taking place in the biological
world are highly effective assisted searches qua stochastic mechanisms that
successfully locate biological structures and functions. Regardless, that success
says nothing about whether stochastic mechanisms are in turn responsible for
bringing about those assisted searches.

So even if necessity and chance can explain evolution, they can’t explain abiogenesis. Or, even if they can, they can’t explain the origin of the conditions that led to abiogenesis. Or, even if they can, they can’t explain the origin of the solar system. Or even if they can … regress … they can’t explain why there is something rather than nothing. Perhaps, perhaps not, but that doesn’t touch the theory of evolution.

What if, additionally, they inevitably result from a
form of intelligence that is not reducible to stochastic mechanisms–a form of
intelligence that transcends chance and necessity? The No Free Lunch Regress,
by demonstrating the incompleteness of stochastic mechanisms to explain assisted
searches, fundamentally challenges the materialist dogma that reduces all
intelligence to chance and necessity.

Since zero information is provided about this imagined “form of intelligence that transcends chance and necessity”, it would seem to be, in Bayesian terms, completely random, and thus self-contradictory. If Dembski wants to raise a challenge, he really needs to do better than that. But in any case, he has missed his target, since there is no “materialist dogma” as to why there is something rather than nothing, and scientists, particularly evolutionary biologists, are not anywhere near being of a single mind on that question.

Comment #44248

Posted by Bob Maurus on August 21, 2005 5:55 PM (e)

Don’t you just love it? From the IDEA Club’s core beliefs:

“[a]t the heart of our advocacy is to promote intelligent design theory purely on its scientific merits…By exposing the lack of scientific evidence supporting the assertion that natural processes are purely responsible for life and conveying the empirical evidence supporting intelligent design theory…”

Um-m, what happened to the Scientific evidence supporting the “scientific merits” of intelligent design “theory”? I’ll have to ask Casey about that.

Comment #44261

Posted by PvM on August 21, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

By intelligence, here, I mean something quite definite, namely, factors that change one probability distribution into another and thus, present discussion, transform a blind search into an assisted search.

Thus evolvability becomes ‘intelligent’ as does co-evolution. Once again Dembski runs into the problem of apparant versus actual when it comes to ID.

Dembski wrote:

Intelligence acts by changing probabilities. Equivalently, intelligence acts by generating information.

Once again, intelligence cannot preclude evolutionary mechanisms as it can both change probabilities and generate information.

Using Dembski’s “logic”, it seems clear to me that any ‘intelligence’ capable of generating information without ‘displacing it’, must be extra-natural.

Dembski wrote:

This environment is intelligent in that, as defined in the last section, it is capable of altering probabilities by replacing a blind search with an assisted search. But in this replacement, is such an environment entirely reducible to stochastic mechanisms?

It can be extended all the way to the Planck limit, beyond that, all and anything goes.

Dembski may argue that Intelligence is not restricted to chance and/or regularity but that argument seems rather ad hoc. Unless, the Intelligence in question is supra-natural that is. Or as Dembski likes to call it intelligence that transcends chance and necessity

And once again we return to the issue of the supra natural. Not too surprised. In many ways Dembski’s argument mimicks the SLOT arguments. Overall entropy always increases, but local entropy can decrease… Seems to me that the same extends to his somewhat esoteric definition of ‘information’ as well…

Remember that Demsbki in his attempt to derive his 4th law, referred to a closed system…

Comment #44264

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

me, quoting Dembski, wrote:

By intelligence, here, I mean something quite definite, namely,
factors that change one probability distribution into another and thus,
present discussion, transform a blind search into an assisted search.

Oops, I clipped this somehow; the correct quote is

By intelligence, here, I mean something quite definite, namely, the causal
factors that change one probability distribution into another and thus, in the
present discussion, transform a blind search into an assisted search.

Comment #44270

Posted by Paul Flocken on August 21, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote in Comment #43823:

…and with regard to the quality of Russian science, gosh, I wonder whose rockets have been keeping the, um, International Space Station going while we’ve been having our little Space Shuttle detaching foam problem?

To which MHV replied:

I was wondering the same thing.

I must admit that I found the comment regarding the quality of Russian science education and Russian scientists to be baffling. This claim about a country that notoriously executed, or at least threatened to execute, and imprisoned its scientists for failing to produce results, simply makes no sense. If ever there were a motivation to be the best in your field, that would be it!

You can say what you like about, for example, using slave labor to build self-contained research facilities purely for scientists and their families, but you can’t say that they didn’t have access to adequate educational resources (or to paraphrase Stalin: whatever you ask for) and that they did not produce some of the best scientists this world has every seen.

Times have certainly changed, but I don’t think one can sensibly argue that Russian science is in general shoddy.

I wrote in a thread some months ago:

Comment #21442 Posted by Paul Flocken on March 21

Comment #21403 Posted by Ed Darrell on March 21
Yeah, it’s possible that God will curse America, and that America will stop teaching evolution. But last time we got close, the Soviets put up a satellite, and people woke up to the educational damage, and fixed it.

This old canard has been argued against this way.

Developing and building nuclear weapons is easier to do when you build them big(in terms of weight not yield). During the fifties the U.S. was concetrating on making nukes smaller, something technically harder to do than what the Soviets were then capable of. Smaller nukes require smaller (and hence from a capitalist point of view, cheaper) ICBM’s. Bigger rockets were less technically difficult to make than smaller nukes, and because the Soviets needed bigger rockets they built them. When it came time to switch the warhead for a space capsule the Soviets had an built in advantage, purely because the U.S. was much more technologically advanced, a seeming paradox. Although the effect of Sputnik on American education was eminently desirable, the U.S. was never behind the Soviets in any meaningful way, and certainly not because of any desires to get evolution out of the classroom. To continue with the space race analogy, the overwhelming majority of the scientists, engineers, and technicians who participated in the Saturn/Apollo program had already been educated when Sputnik went up. Both sides were (in the beginning) highly dependant upon German research and the personnel interned after WWII, though my personal belief is that the Soviets were far more dependant then the U.S., because we had a better educated populace(a small part of which could be attributed to the post-WWII GI Bill)

This was something I read such a long time ago that I wouldn’t be able to remember when and in what I read it or who wrote it. I don’t really know how accurate the assertians are, or remember what research or evidence was used to back them up. It was just an interesting tidbit I tucked away.

Dr Perakh,
If you are still paying any attention to this thread, can you, from your perspective as a scientist in the old USSR, shed any light on these assertians(both the scientific and the sociological ones).
Sincerely, Paul

Comment #44278

Posted by Red Mann on August 21, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

Did anyone notice that one of commenters on the Bill‘s silly “My Retirement from Intelligent Design” blog, John Piippo, is complaining about his treatment a the hands of you mean PT people when he chimed in on the ID = Postmodern Creationism Thread.

Check him out at http://theolobloggy.blogspot.com/

I mean, how can you treat a Professor of Logic so unfairly **sob**?

Comment #44280

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

playing the victim is a standard debating technique, used to stall for time when you have nothing to support your position.

I wonder how long ID supporters will be able to play up the victim angle before folks finally tire of hearing it?

Comment #44307

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 7:27 AM (e)

I wonder how long ID supporters will be able to play up the victim angle before folks finally tire of hearing it?

After Dover, they will have more “victim” status to whine about.

BTW, it’s good to type to you again, Sir. :>

Comment #44308

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 7:30 AM (e)

Did anyone notice that one of commenters on the Bill‘s silly “My Retirement from Intelligent Design” blog, John Piippo, is complaining about his treatment a the hands of you mean PT people when he chimed in on the ID = Postmodern Creationism Thread.

Hey, all I did was ask him what the scientific theory of ID is, and how we can test it using the scientific method.

It’s not MY fault that he (like all other IDers) can’t answer those simple questions …

Comment #44310

Posted by Russell on August 22, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

John Piippo:

My Brief Life On The Panda’s Thumb
I made a comment a few weeks ago on The Panda’s Thumb. I was quickly attacked by a litany of ad hominem abusives, ad hominem circumstantials, encountered one of the very best examples of begging the question I have seen (I’ll probably use it as an example in the logic classes I teach in college), was sworn at, and so on. I found it very difficult simply to make one logical point and have it responded to (which was that a conclusion made by Nick Matzke did not logically follow from his premise).

Go back and look at the exchange (starting here) and tell me if Piippo is not the most delicate of flowers we’ve had visit us. I like to keep the tone as civil as possible, so as not to provide these guys with the martyrdom they crave. And I often wish commenters would find ways to couch their comments without gratuitous insults. But this is not what I would have singled out as a particularly rabid exchange.

I don’t know whether Piippo’s original point - that conclusion B doesn’t logically follow from premise A when stated in the particular language Matzke used - is technically valid or not. I don’t even care enough to go back and check. It’s essentially nit-picking grammar. The larger point, that science doesn’t invoke supernatural causes, seems intuitively obvious to any grade schooler.

Philosophers of science can formalize this intuition if they like, but if they come up with the opposite conclusion, I’m sorry, but I have work to do.

Comment #44311

Posted by SEF on August 22, 2005 8:42 AM (e)

By exposing the lack of scientific evidence supporting the assertion that natural processes are purely responsible for life

That’s a lie about what evolution in particular and science in general assert anyway. Of course the ability of science, in its various branches, to explain more and more and in greater and greater detail about how natural processes work does then allow anyone sane to take the teeny tiny step towards strongly suspecting that natural processes are all that there are. But that’s not the same as science asserting it.

Comment #44331

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

“BTW, it’s good to type to you again, Sir. :>”

*bows*

why, thank you. always nice to be missed.

ditto ;)

I did read the entire Piippo exchange and find that i agree with Rusell; there was very little pure ad-hominem involved on either side. Aside from several folks pointing out to Piippo that he was using the same tired argument over and over that had been refuted quite early in the discussion, i saw little harsh treatment of him. Especially compared to some discussions i have seen here at the thumb.

again, I’m reasonably sure he was coached to frame this as him having been victimized in order to further “demonize” those who support evolutionary theory. It appears to be a common pattern. I wouldn’t doubt that there are folks monitoring these threads who reach out to folks like Pip to encourage them to do exactly this.

perhaps it would be worthwhile to document this apparent pattern of psuedo-victimization in order to show how artificial it really is?

Comment #44332

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 2:26 PM (e)

one more thing….

as appears common for many anti-science blogs, theobloggy restricts comments.

amazing how transparent these folks are.

Comment #44334

Posted by guthrie on August 22, 2005 2:45 PM (e)

I too checked out piipos site, and he seems to not be keen on random people posting there. How odd.

I also read the argument, and what i really want to do is ask him what experiments he will do in his non-materialistic science. I need to find someone to ask about that. Mind you, it looks like Lenny beat me to it.

Comment #44355

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

I did read the entire Piippo exchange and find that i agree with Rusell; there was very little pure ad-hominem involved on either side. Aside from several folks pointing out to Piippo that he was using the same tired argument over and over that had been refuted quite early in the discussion, i saw little harsh treatment of him.

It’s just part of that massive martyr complex that they all seem to have.

Comment #44357

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

I found it very difficult simply to make one logical point

Indeed.

He also seems to have found it very difficult simply to tell me what the scientific theory of ID is and how we can test it using the scientific method.

For some odd reason, **every** IDer who comes in here seems to find it very difficult to do that …

I wonder why that would be?

Comment #44358

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

I don’t know whether Piippo’s original point - that conclusion B doesn’t logically follow from premise A when stated in the particular language Matzke used - is technically valid or not. I don’t even care enough to go back and check. It’s essentially nit-picking grammar. The larger point, that science doesn’t invoke supernatural causes, seems intuitively obvious to any grade schooler.

Piipo equivocated between methodological and philosophical naturalism, going so far as to make the radically false claim that they are synonyms, producing an essentially pointless debate.

Comment #44363

Posted by SEF on August 22, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

that massive martyr complex that they all seem to have

I’d call it more of an affectation in most instances. Though it may well be based on their recognition (at some level despite self-delusional denial) of their own inferiority.

Comment #44368

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 6:46 PM (e)

To make this more concrete:

Piippo wrote:

Johnson’s quote addresses his concern (and Plantinga’s, et. al.) that Neo-Darwinism is inextricably rooted in methodological naturalism.

RBH wrote:

Can Piippo name a currently accepted scientific theory, in any discipline from physics to biology, that is not “rooted in methodological naturalism”?

Piippo wrote:

The very fact that nearly all (if not entirely all) current scientific theories are grounded in Philosophical Naturalism (PN) supports what I (and Plantinga et. al.) are saying. PN holds that there is nothing outside of nature….PN is often also referred to as Metaphysical Naturalism. PN is a metaphysical claim…

Flint wrote:

When the actual number of scientific theories grounded in PN is zero, the remainder of your post becomes moot.

harold wrote:

it’s routinely stated that science uses methodological materialism, NOT philosophical naturalism or materialism.

ts wrote:

The very fact that Piipo substituted “Philosophical” for “methodological” shows that he has no integrity and can safely be ignored.

Perhaps that was uncharitable – perhaps Piippo was merely inept. But in either case the last part was true. Even after the observations that methodological and philosophical/metaphysical naturalism are (critically) distinct, we got

Piippo wrote:

Then I said what I think Johnson means by this quote; viz., that Neo-Darwinism is grounded in methodological naturalism (also referred to in the literature as philosophical naturalism).

Piippo also made (and continues to make) a big deal of Flint’s statement:

Science can say nothing (and indeed says nothing) about anything outside of nature, because the scientific method is necessarily silent about anything beyond the bounds of what can be observed.

Claiming that it’s text-book question begging. But it clearly isn’t, no more than “Archaelogy can and does say nothing about the Earth’s core because trowels and shovels don’t reach that far”. The claim isn’t a logically valid argument (the consequent doesn’t necessarily follow from the antecedent), but Flint didn’t offer it as one. But it isn’t circular.

For truly classic question begging, there’s

Piippo wrote:

I can tell you that the following argument begs the question: … It strikes me as a textbook example.

and on ad hominems we have:

Piippo wrote:

Circular, question-begging arguments betray, to my mind, dogmatic certitude. They function, I think, as analytic a prior arguments to which one could never appeal via empirical reasoning. I think they betray a pre-thematic commitment to philosophical naturalism that is itself quite independent of scientific thinking.

Comment #44373

Posted by Red Mann on August 22, 2005 7:40 PM (e)

Since you have to be a “Team Member” to comment on his blog, I sent the following email:

Since you apparently only allow comments from those who share your views, I am emailing you instead. I read the entire thread at PT that you referenced on your blog. I get the impression that you are referring to some other thread. You invited any and all negative remarks (of which there were initially very few) by refusing to deal with the actual responses being made. You kept insisting that the responses to your remarks were “begging the question” and “circular reasoning”. I’m not a professor, or even a student, of logic, so I can’t attack your logical pronouncements (although at a “gut” level I doubt them). Anyway your statement

“The very fact that nearly all (if not entirely all) current scientific theories are grounded in Philosophical Naturalism (PN) supports what I (and Plantinga et. al.) are saying. PN holds that there is nothing outside of nature. Everything in our experience can be accounted for by pure natural forces.”

is, at the very least disingenuous. Science is not based on Philosophical Naturalism. Claiming this is just untrue. Then you twist the fact that science must, by necessity, deal only with that which is observable, measurable and testable i.e. natural into some sort of logical fallacy.

You seem to agree with Johnson’s statement “that Neo-Darwinism is inextricably rooted in methodological naturalism”. This statement is basically true, but he is trying to cast it in an unsavory light, as if methodological naturalism is some sort of evil thing. It is not. Johnson wants to overthrow science as we know and replace it with some kind of theological explanation of the world. The whole gist of the ID movement is to replace reason with belief.

You went on to a blog of people devoted to the idea of rational science and attacked them with dubious remarks. What did you expect to happen?

The problem I have with what you, Dembski, Behe, Johnson et al, is that you are deliberately misleading the non-scientific members of the public, especially those who get most of their information through a religious filter. The final outcome of your efforts, if they should somehow succeed, is to overturn the age of enlightenment and scientific knowledge and usher in a return to the Dark Ages and absolute religious certainties

Am I allowed to post his response here?

Comment #44376

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 7:51 PM (e)

Am I allowed to post his response here?

It’s not ethical (and is arguably a violation of copyright) to post private email without the author’s permission.

P.S. You omitted Piippo’s primary error, which was to equate methodological and metaphysical naturalism (see my post above).

Comment #44381

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 8:15 PM (e)

Lenny asked for an of-course unforthcoming theory of ID:

“For some odd reason, **every** IDer who comes in here seems to find it very difficult to do that …

I wonder why that would be?”

Why do you hate god so much, Lenny?

;)

Comment #44387

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 8:24 PM (e)

Why do you hate god so much, Lenny?

;)

It’s all because of that bike I didn’t get when I was nine, dammit. I said “please” and everything.

;>

Comment #44388

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 8:30 PM (e)

oh, well then it’s all a simple misunderstanding; material requests should have been directed to god’s manufacturing division: Santa Claus Inc.

lol.

btw, sorry to step on your toes (er, my handle explains that), but I made the same request in the thread started by Wes for Stenberg:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=430a7c743e31ffff;act=ST;f=14;t=23

Comment #44390

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

er, make that the thread for T. Russ (not enough coffee today).

Comment #44393

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

Lenny, yet again the list of things making up a standard scientific theory is needed…

the league of justice requests your talents in the thread i mentioned above…

go super lenny, go!

Comment #44398

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

I’ve already asked Russ, several times, to tell me what the scientific theory of ID is.

For some odd reason, he never gave me one.

I even asked him WHY he won’t give one. Is it:

(1) there isn’t any, and IDers are just lying when they say there is?

or

(2) there is one, but Russ is too dumb to know what it is?

or

(3) there is one and Russ does know what it is, but for some unfathomable reason, he doesn’t want anyone else to know.

Russ “responded” by declaring that I wouldn’t accept one even if he presented it.

I, of course, pointed out that we will never know, since he apparently will never present one. (shrug)

At that point, Russ apparently had something to do, uh, elsewhere.

But please feel free to forward my questions to him. Perhaps he just forgot to answer them.

And where did Nelson go? I got some questions that HE ran away from, too ……

Comment #44399

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 10:22 PM (e)

he seems to think he posted the theory of ID in this thread:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=430a7c743e31ffff;act=ST;f=14;t=23

Comment #44400

Posted by Arden Chatfield on August 22, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

Why do you hate god so much, Lenny?

;)

I think it’s because Lenny hates our freedoms. :-)

Comment #44401

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 10:39 PM (e)

whose freedoms?

what freedoms?

Comment #44405

Posted by steve on August 22, 2005 11:44 PM (e)

According to T. Russ, at that link above, here’s the theory of ID:

T. Russ
Posted: Aug. 22 2005,18:23
From ISCID.org

Intelligent Design

“Intelligent design is the theory that the directed organization of living things cannot be accounted for by purely blind natural forces but also requires intelligent agency for its proper explanation.

Design is A four-part process by which a designer forms a designed object: (1) A designer conceives a purpose or goal. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) The designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. What emerges is a designed object, and the designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.

He should have Paul Nelson explain to him why this is not a scientific theory. But at least he did marginally better than the abysmal “The theory of ID is that evolution is wrong blah blah…”

And since Paul Nelson won’t comment to oppose his peers, here’s a quick overview of what’s wrong with T. Russ’s “theory”:

*It is outlandish to think the first paragraph could be proven.
*1 is utterly off-limits to human knowledge (if the designer is god, which they believe) without Divine Revelation. That’s not science, that’s religion.
*2 is also.
*so are the assembly instructions in 3.
*for this part, all you need to study is what god or his angels physically did.

Religion, religion, religion. Can the IDers really not see that? They’re not doing science, they’re doing religion. They never do any experiments because theologians do not do experiments.

Comment #44414

Posted by CJO on August 23, 2005 1:13 AM (e)

“(4) The designer or some surrogate…”

The Spaghetti Monster even gets a mention.

Comment #44424

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 6:53 AM (e)

T. Russ
Posted: Aug. 22 2005,18:23
From ISCID.org

Intelligent Design

“Intelligent design is the theory that the directed organization of living things cannot be accounted for by purely blind natural forces but also requires intelligent agency for its proper explanation.

Design is A four-part process by which a designer forms a designed object: (1) A designer conceives a purpose or goal. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) The designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. What emerges is a designed object, and the designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.

Or, to put it more compactly:

“Goddidit”.

Yep, that’s indeed the only “theory of ID” I’ve ever heard.

I wonder if Russ is willing to come to Dover and testify to his, uh, “scientific theory” under oath.

Comment #44443

Posted by Ross on August 23, 2005 11:45 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:
It’s all because of that bike I didn’t get when I was nine, dammit. I said “please” and everything.

Potential problem with christianity there, Lenny - I found that praying for a bike didn’t work too well. So I stole one and prayed for forgiveness!

Comment #44492

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Potential problem with christianity there, Lenny - I found that praying for a bike didn’t work too well. So I stole one and prayed for forgiveness!

Well, I’m a better Christian than YOU are, ‘cause I preached to a bunch of kids, passed around a collection plate, then used the money to buy a BRAND NEW bike. And a copy of Playboy.

So THERE.

;>

Comment #44526

Posted by the pro from dover on August 23, 2005 8:55 PM (e)

its good to see lenny back with talons and beak sharpened. He may hate god, america, puppies , britney spears, and apple pie, he may be a total pariah but he’s our pariah. He’ll be glad to know that i’ve got THE MAN! He is Dr. Roy Friesen in Greeley Colo. He seems to have perhaps the ****official**** Scientific theory of intelligent design***** (patent pending).I’ve just gotta tease it out of him. Just be awed by this insight: (from his article Creation , Science and the School-what are the real conflicts) “not one true transitional life form or missing link has ever been discovered”. There you go.
although this hasnt been published (after all it took Darwin 18 yrs) it can be found at royrefco@comcast.net Be the first one on your block to have the privelege to scrutinize this opus. This may come as a shock but he”s a BIG FAN of Phil.

Comment #44534

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 9:25 PM (e)

He’ll be glad to know that i’ve got THE MAN! He is Dr. Roy Friesen in Greeley Colo. He seems to have perhaps the ****official**** Scientific theory of intelligent design***** (patent pending).

Well, drag his ass in here. I have a few questions for him.

;>

“not one true transitional life form or missing link has ever been discovered”. There you go.

Ahhh, so like all the other IDers, all he’s got is plagiarized versions of thirty-year-old standard ICR boilerplate. Can we also expect him to hold forth on the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

So much for that whole “ID isn’t creation ‘science’ “ thingie, huh…

Comment #44535

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

he may be a total pariah but he’s our pariah

Hey !!! I’m not a South American fish !!

Oh, wait …. .

;>

Comment #44541

Posted by Red Mann on August 23, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

Its not a fish its a gum disease.

Comment #44699

Posted by the pro from dover on August 24, 2005 6:25 PM (e)

actually its a pariasaur. As jimi Hendrix put it “scutes me while I kiss the sky” and yes it is a diapsid.

Comment #44700

Posted by the pro from dover on August 24, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

actually its a pariahsaur made famous by Jimi Hendrix in the line “scutes me while I kiss the sky.” and yes it is a diapsid.