Ed Brayton posted Entry 1630 on October 31, 2005 06:42 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1625

William Dembski has this odd habit when someone publishes a criticism of his writings. Rather than engage in substantive refutation of those criticisms, he often claims either to be the victim of some cosmic unfairness by the Darwinian Inquisition, or he claims that the person criticizing him is obsessed with him. As an example of the first, I point you to his frantic complaints of copyright violation and ethical mistreatment by Rob Pennock in early 2002, after Pennock had included a couple of essays of his in an anthology he edited called Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. He accused Pennock of copyright infringement, but in fact he had the written permission of the actual copyright owners, Metanexus. The owners of Metanexus published a public exoneration of Pennock in the matter.

For an example of the second strategy, I point you to his having called Richard Wein, Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit his “internet stalkers” because they - gasp! - read and criticized his work. And in public. The nerve of these people, actually analyzing and critiquing the work of a scholar! He hasn’t done much to actually answer their critiques, mind you, but he’s called them “obsessed” and it appears that he thinks that actually defeats their arguments. Now he’s back making more weird accusations about the Dover trial, involving Shallit yet again. He writes:

Continue reading Dembski’s Obsessive Complaints of Obsession at Dispatches from the Culture Wars

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Comment #54523

Posted by Ron Zeno on October 31, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Of course, let’s remember that they tried to sneak in Dembski’s expertise in the amicus that was thrown out: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/dove…

Comment #54526

Posted by Norman Doering on October 31, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

How much of Dembski’s writing is smoke and mirrors? It seems to be fooling his hard core fans (others get censored off his site).

I was reading a post of his, “Retrospective Fallacy”:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archive…

Miller accused Dembski of a retrospective fallacy, which is like “equating the odds of drawing two pairs in poker with the odds of drawing a particular two-pair hand - say a pair of red queens, a pair of black 10s and the ace of clubs… demanding a particular outcome, as opposed to a functional outcome,…”

Dembski does look like he deals with the substance here: “… charge is unwarranted. In fact, I’ve explicitly countered this concern in my writings (notably in section 5.10 of No Free Lunch, where I assign probabilities in terms of perturbation tolerance and perturbation identity factors — these factors take into account variants/perturbations of tokens that belong to the same functional type).”

If I didn’t suspect I was getting fooled, I’d believe him.

So, how am I getting fooled by Dembski?

I’m just a suspiciously confused reader trying to make sense of both sides and without enough time to tackle all the relevant writings noted.

I know Dembski has to be wrong about “No Free Lunch” and it’s relationship to genetic algorithms because if he were right, then genetic algorithims wouldn’t work any better than “brute searches”… but they do work better.

Comment #54528

Posted by PaulC on October 31, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

“Among the many posts I’ve deleted from the previous thread …”

What an amazing way to begin a sentence.

“… are those vindicating Shallit on the grounds that because the Thomas More Law Center removed me as an expert witness …”

I’m starting to get the picture here. One, Dembski purges dissent routinely. No biggie I guess. I mean it’s his blog, his editorial voice. Two, the disagreement is heavy enough that Dembski removes “many” postings for all kinds of reasons. I don’t think he’s suggesting that the number was unusual in this particular thread. He gets a lot of stuff he does not like and makes sure to delete it. Three, among the deleted postings were those that addressed a point that he doesn’t dismiss as tasteless or irrelevant. He just wants to make sure that only his side is presented.

What else do you need to see? I mean, what a jackass.

Comment #54529

Posted by AR on October 31, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

Also, if Dembski is indeed interested to see what Shallit might have said in his deposition, it can rather easily be inferred from Shallit’s expert report to the court, which is available online on at least two sites, for example at Talk Reason (see the What Is New section there) as well as on the NCSE site here.
Anybody who has read this Shallit’s devastating critique of Dembski will conclude that Dembski’s supposition regarding ACLU’s and Shallit’s “embarrassment” is pure fantasy. If somebody should be embarrassed, it certainly is not Shallit. Shallit’s well substantiated analysis of Dembski as a scientist or mathematician reveals a picture of a man obsessed with a mania of greatness not supported by any actual achievements. Of course, it is known from experience that Dembski is never embarrassed by any revelation of the emptiness of his output, so his preposterous claim about Shallit’s alleged embarrassment adds little new to what is known about Dembski to everybody except for his usual admirers from ID crowd.

Comment #54532

Posted by AR on October 31, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

Norman Doering quotes Dembski as follows:

“in section 5.10 of No Free Lunch, where I assign probabilities in terms of perturbation tolerance and perturbation identity factors — these factors take into account variants/perturbations of tokens that belong to the same functional type).”

Just another example of Dembski’s penchant for inventing seemingly meaningful new terms which in fact are often useless. His “perturbation factor” is essentially nothing more that the well known “redundancy” introduced already by Shannon (which, btw, Dembski miscalculated in his NFL book).

Comment #54533

Posted by Norman Doering on October 31, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

AR wrote: “Just another example of Dembski’s penchant for inventing seemingly meaningful new terms which in fact are often useless. His “perturbation factor” is essentially nothing more that the well known “redundancy” introduced already by Shannon …”

He didn’t make that “perturbation factor” term up. There are “perturbation factors” in my 3D graphics software for creating noisy textures in computer generated images. However, I don’t understand his use of the term in regards to denying a “retrospective fallacy.” I haven’t read his “No Free Lunch” yet and see no value in doing so yet.

Comment #54535

Posted by Stephen Erickson on October 31, 2005 8:28 PM (e)

Shallit is “obsessed” with Dembski, yet still finds time to publish in the literature.

Comment #54539

Posted by K.E. on October 31, 2005 8:51 PM (e)

Norman said

There are “perturbation factors” in my 3D graphics software for creating noisy textures in computer generated images.

That is “artificially imposing computer generated random noise on (virtual) information”.

The reverse is to extract information from random noise. The more processing power and time you have the deeper actual information can be buried in noise and still be retrievable.

In any case noise is just noise no amount of analysis will produce information.

Unless of course you define noise as information.

Comment #54540

Posted by Flint on October 31, 2005 8:54 PM (e)

Dembski isn’t doing anything on his site that Winston Smith didn’t do every day, to make his living. And both Dembski and Smith are doing it for exactly the same reason.

Orwell, though, seemed to think that if *anyone at all* should contradict the Official Story, then it wouldn’t fly and the system would collapse - to the point where Smith himself needed to be subjected to torture. Orwell may not have been cynical enough to recognize the “Sal Cordova factor” in all this: in censoring reality entirely away, Dembski has created the sort of shrine True Believers feel comfortable, unthreatened, and uplifted praying at.

Dembski understands intuitively that if HE only hears what he wants to hear and it works for him, it will work for many others for the same reason. I do hope, though, that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has discovered cordless microphones.

Comment #54542

Posted by Julie on October 31, 2005 9:51 PM (e)

Every piece of information I discover about Dembski, including the contents of his own blog, convinces me even more that the guy’s ego is the size of a small planet but has little more resilience than an over-fried poppadum. The exceptional defensiveness over perceived personal slights reminds me of the story of the U.S. senator back in the 1970s who was called the “dumbest man in the Senate” in a magazine article – and who promptly called a press conference to deny the accusation.

Comment #54543

Posted by shiva on October 31, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Metanexus We offered Rob Pennock the opportunity to publish his own statement in response to Bill Dembski, but he has chosen to “turn the other cheek.”

That must have shattered BillD. Imagine Pennock dismissing him with those famous words, and can’t be bothered to even pen a few lines. BillD, “What would I give to for something to chew on!”

According to Pigliucci and Pennock, intelligent design proponents are not scholars to be engaged on the intellectual merits of their case. Rather, they are charlatans to be discredited, silenced, and stopped. That’s the whole point of _Intelligent Design Creationists and Their Critics_.

Looks like BillD gets the idea here.

…but has little more resilience than an over-fried poppadum

Julie BillD is like last night’s poppadum gone soggy. There was a time when his brittleness was atleast amusing. It’s a big bore now.

Comment #54545

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 31, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

Oh, it’s just what’s happening at the various UFO conventions, this carping about obsessive gov’t and scientific bad-guys keeping the evidence and the truth down. What are you going to do when you have no evidence, actually admit to the rank and file that we’re just hoping something will come along some time? One needs a reason to go on, both for oneself and for the sheep, and that reason is that Jeff Shallit, et al, “are so concerned about the threat of ID that they are actually obsessed with ID and with Dembski”.

No point in psychoanalyzing it, without a willing subject. Is Dembski monomaniacal, or just backed into a desperate little corner from which he hopes vainly to come out triumphant? Both? We don’t know, the fact is that scientifically there is little difference between the two, with Dembski’s empirical vapidity being the real issue.

Poor Raymond Dart, a genuine victim of elitist scientists in the first half of the 20th century, was beaten down by the system. What did he and his few supporters do? Science, including science supporting the Taung baby as being nearly on the ancestral line to humans (still not certain, but a good model at least). Likewise, J. Harlen Bretz with his Missoula Flood went on to do more science in the face of opposition. If these guys could have hit back more at the establishment they may have done so, but the crucial thing is that they worked on corroborating their concepts rather than on honing their PR.

That Dembski does little but repeat himself and whine puts him solidly in the pseudoscience camp. Nothing new, that, but his response to his nonsense does identify him closely with the losers who can do nothing except carp, whine, and blame others when their widely-known ideas manage to convert almost no one in the science community (btw, why does he want the approval of such “close-minded” people anyhow?). He writes what works, and what works is avoiding all sound criticisms of his claims.

Little wonder that even National Review has taken to noting that one can write little about ID without confronting the fact of its pervasive dishonesty.

Comment #54547

Posted by Donald M on October 31, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

Ed Brayton writes:

William Dembski has this odd habit when someone publishes a criticism of his writings. Rather than engage in substantive refutation of those criticisms, he often claims either to be the victim of some cosmic unfairness by the Darwinian Inquisition, or he claims that the person criticizing him is obsessed with him. As an example of the first, I point you to his frantic complaints of copyright violation and ethical mistreatment by Rob Pennock in early 2002, after Pennock had included a couple of essays of his in an anthology he edited called Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. He accused Pennock of copyright infringement, but in fact he had the written permission of the actual copyright owners, Metanexus. The owners of Metanexus published a public exoneration of Pennock in the matter.

There’s seems to be a misunderstanding of some facts here. Dembski did not accuse Pennock and the publishers of Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics of copyright infringement. In his article How Not To Debate Intelligent Design he writes:

Pennock has just published _Intelligent Design Creationists and Their Critics_ with MIT Press. It includes two essays by me. Pennock never contacted me about their inclusion. Indeed, I only learned of their inclusion after his volume was published and became available to the public last week.

It appears that Pennock and MIT Press are legally in the clear – Pennock selected pieces for which he was able to obtain copyright permissions without having to consult me.

Perhaps ID critics would be happier if Dembski and others would just roll over when the likes of Pennock play the kind of games they play with Dembski’s work. The issue with the Pennock volume was one of fairness and ethical (read professional) treatment. In the same article referenced above, Dembski notes that:

Pennock chose a popular 2,000 word essay of mine titled “Who’s Got the Magic?” and followed it with a 9,000-word rebuttal by him titled “The Wizards of ID.” For the other essay of mine, Pennock chose “Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information,” which was a popular piece on information theory that’s now five years old. I’ve written much on that topic since then, and the essay itself is now outdated. Moreover, Pennock followed that essay with three critical responses. One of those responses, by Elliott Sober, was a lengthy technical review (from the journal _Philosophy of Science_) of my technical monograph _The Design Inference_ (Cambridge University Press, 1998). No portion of that monograph or anything comparable from my work was included in Pennock’s book. Finally, I was given no chance to respond to my critics.

Dembski’s complaint is well grounded because Pennock acted unprofessionally and unethically.

Ed Brayton continues:

For an example of the second strategy, I point you to his having called Richard Wein, Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit his “internet stalkers” because they - gasp! - read and criticized his work. And in public. The nerve of these people, actually analyzing and critiquing the work of a scholar! He hasn’t done much to actually answer their critiques, mind you, but he’s called them “obsessed” and it appears that he thinks that actually defeats their arguments.

If only it were that simple. Richard Wein wrote some 37,000 word “rebuttal” to Dembski’s book No Free Lunch.(it is my understanding that that article is now archived somewhere on Talk.Origins.) In response, Dembski wrote Obsessively Criticized but Scarcely Refuted: A Response to Richard Wein. And The Fantasy Life of Richard Wein. To say that Dembski “hasn’t done much to answer their critques” and that he only calls them “obsessed” is simply false. Dembski’s website has a long list of articles with detailed responses to several of his critics.

Comment #54549

Posted by biff on October 31, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

something which becomes innate and automatic with a bit of mathematical training is the sense that you can take almost any fact and express it mathematically (which obviously has a lot of subsequent uses):

Martin: Ooh, I think I understand … [takes a pencil and starts writing] the potential for mischief varies inversely with one’s proximity to the authority figure!

Dembski, unable to escape his religious convictions, can’t abandon his delusion that he can SEE obvious design in nature, and can’t abandon his delusion that he is merely expressing that truth mathematically. It is his intuition that he is expressing a plain truth which informs his opinion that his mathematics cannot be wrong, and prevents him from being able to address the possibility that a dissenter has seen a flaw in his reasoning.

Comment #54550

Posted by jeffw on October 31, 2005 11:08 PM (e)

Dembski, unable to escape his religious convictions, can’t abandon his delusion that he can SEE obvious design in nature, and can’t abandon his delusion that he is merely expressing that truth mathematically. It is his intuition that he is expressing a plain truth which informs his opinion that his mathematics cannot be wrong, and prevents him from being able to address the possibility that a dissenter has seen a flaw in his reasoning.

Nah. Don’t even give him that much credit. He’s just snake oil salesman trying to generate publicity, so he can sell his books, advance his career, etc. Any controversy makes him $.

Comment #54551

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on October 31, 2005 11:11 PM (e)

Just to get this bit clear, I belatedly realized that NCSE does have Jeff Shallit’s deposition, along with 30 other depositions (I counted) that have been taken in the Kitzmiller case. I think we didn’t put them all online (except for a few key fact witness depositions) because each deposition is hundreds of pages long, and often the PDFs we have are just flat scans of paper copies, which can end up being quite large.

As for Dembski’s cries about “Let Shallit and the ACLU make his deposition public” (emphasis original) – the deposition is part of the public record, and has been since August 2005, when it was filed as part of the plaintiffs’ brief opposing summary judgement! (specifically, Appendix III, Tab O).

Nick

Comment #54554

Posted by Gary Hurd on October 31, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

Nick, I did not find that appendix as part of the linked PDF. Obviously at some point a complete seet of files will need to be created as in some of the other key losses by creationists.

Comment #54555

Posted by Albion on October 31, 2005 11:46 PM (e)

It’s interesting that a prominent member of a group which is touting academic freedom and the need for all sides to be heard is a person who routinely deletes from his site anything that he happens to think is incorrect for whatever reason. All sides have a right to be heard as long as they don’t disagree with Bill Dembski, apparently. I suppose that’ll be the standard for peer review when “design theory” triumphs. Something to look forward to.

Comment #54556

Posted by Shaffer on October 31, 2005 11:51 PM (e)

(long-time lurker, first time comment-poster, easy on the noob)

The revelation that struck me as I read the comments to that thread was that the sycophancy on display at Demski’s blog would make me want to be violently ill even if I agreed with him. The fact that I don’t gives me the same impulse - but tempers it with a bit of relief, that the other side seems to consist chiefly of megalomaniacal idols and fawning idolators, rather than anyone interested in any actual discourse.

It seems to me that Demski enables comments on his blog not for discussion, but for adulation. If your comment doesn’t soothe his ego, you’re outta there. I’d like to think that even if I was so spectacularly scientifically misinformed as to reject evolution, I’d still recognize Demski as a disgusting prick.

Comment #54557

Posted by Registered User on October 31, 2005 11:56 PM (e)

It’s interesting that a prominent member of a group which is touting academic freedom and the need for all sides to be heard is a person who routinely deletes from his site anything that he happens to think is incorrect for whatever reason.

What is more interesting is: why don’t pro-science organizations work diligently to make this unfavorable unflattering fact about Bill “Professional Hypocrite and Liar” Dembski widely known to the media and public?

No one cares what Dembski obsesses about. And no one should care. That’s not what makes Dembski a profoundly disturbing human being.

Comment #54558

Posted by Ed Brayton on November 1, 2005 12:10 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

There’s seems to be a misunderstanding of some facts here. Dembski did not accuse Pennock and the publishers of Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics of copyright infringement. In his article How Not To Debate Intelligent Design he writes:

Pennock has just published _Intelligent Design Creationists and Their Critics_ with MIT Press. It includes two essays by me. Pennock never contacted me about their inclusion. Indeed, I only learned of their inclusion after his volume was published and became available to the public last week.

It appears that Pennock and MIT Press are legally in the clear — Pennock selected pieces for which he was able to obtain copyright permissions without having to consult me.

In my little two sentence summary of this situation, I did indeed leave out a lot of detail, but since you brought it up let’s clear up the confusion. Dembski’s first complaint was that there was copyright infringement; that complaint, as I recall, was made privately. He was quickly informed that Pennock had the full permission of the copyright owners. He then went public with this charge that perhaps Pennock was legally covered, but it’s still unethical. But you should notice something else in that public exoneration from the owners of Metanexus.

After noting that they had given Pennock permission to use the articles, they say, “At that time Pennock was instructed to contact Dembski, which he did, though there was obviously a misunderstanding as detailed below in Dembski’s second statement on the matter. Dembski’s allegation of possible copyright violation is not an issue and as a result we have deleted the previous press release from Dembski from the archives of the NEWS list, as we don’t want to perpetuate this particular misunderstanding.” How did they know that Pennock had contacted Dembski? Because when he made the accusation, Rob sent copies of the emails they had exchanged on the subject to the Metanexus editors. Dembski later claimed that he hadn’t been told specifically that an article of his was being used, but the fact is that the Metanexus editors pulled Dembski’s allegations off their site for a reason, because Dembski was simply not telling the truth and they didn’t want that liability after Rob showed them the proof. Dembski sent a bio sketch to Pennock for inclusion in the book, for crying out loud. All of this was just his way of distracting attention away from the substantive criticism of his work in Pennock’s book.

Perhaps ID critics would be happier if Dembski and others would just roll over when the likes of Pennock play the kind of games they play with Dembski’s work. The issue with the Pennock volume was one of fairness and ethical (read professional) treatment. In the same article referenced above, Dembski notes that:

Pennock chose a popular 2,000 word essay of mine titled “Who’s Got the Magic?” and followed it with a 9,000-word rebuttal by him titled “The Wizards of ID.” For the other essay of mine, Pennock chose “Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information,” which was a popular piece on information theory that’s now five years old. I’ve written much on that topic since then, and the essay itself is now outdated. Moreover, Pennock followed that essay with three critical responses. One of those responses, by Elliott Sober, was a lengthy technical review (from the journal _Philosophy of Science_) of my technical monograph _The Design Inference_ (Cambridge University Press, 1998). No portion of that monograph or anything comparable from my work was included in Pennock’s book. Finally, I was given no chance to respond to my critics.

These arguments were quite stupid when Dembski made them; they’re equally stupid when you repeat them. Let’s take them one at a time:

On the age of the essays. There are several reasons why this is a lame argument. First, the run up to a book of the scope of Pennock’s is well over a year, from the identification of the essays to be included, the doling out of the response essays, the writing of those responses, editorial revisions, and so forth. The essays they respond to would have to be at least 2 years old in that circumstance.

Second, Dembski does not point to anything in those essays that he would not stand by at the time he logs the complaint. Was he wrong about something that he has since corrected? If so, he’s never told anyone so. Those same essays continue to be available on his various websites today without any disclaimers about the material being “outdated” or any admission that anything in them is no longer true or relevant. Indeed, if I recall correctly, Dembski himself had just used one of those essays virtually unchanged as a chapter in one of his books published just a few months before he logs this complaint. Obviously he didn’t really consider them outdated, this is just a convenient way to avoid the criticisms.

On the subject of more space being devoted to criticisms than to his essays. Frankly, who cares? If his arguments could withstand criticism, it doesn’t matter whether one uses 2000 words or 200,000 to analyze them.

On the subject of not being allowed to respond. Well gosh, Dembski criticizes the views of lots of scientists in his books and I don’t recall him giving them a chance to respond. Indeed, I don’t recall any of the prominent ID advocates doing so when they criticize the work of “Darwinists”. I guess “fairness” and “professionalism” only work in one direction.

Richard Wein wrote some 37,000 word “rebuttal” to Dembski’s book No Free Lunch.(it is my understanding that that article is now archived somewhere on Talk.Origins.) In response, Dembski wrote Obsessively Criticized but Scarcely Refuted: A Response to Richard Wein. And The Fantasy Life of Richard Wein. To say that Dembski “hasn’t done much to answer their critques” and that he only calls them “obsessed” is simply false. Dembski’s website has a long list of articles with detailed responses to several of his critics.

Donald, have you actually read his “responses” to Wein, Elsberry and Shallit? He calls them obsessive, claims that they aren’t qualified to critique him and then in almost all cases dismisses their arguments with a wave of his imperial hand. They are virtually devoid of any real substantive engagement of the issues they raise. Wein’s second response to Dembski, after his purported response, was a laundry list of all the arguments that Dembski ignored. And then he just insults him and accuses him of living in a “fantasy world”. This is not the actions of a scholar, they are the actions of an egomaniac who hates to be questioned.

Comment #54561

Posted by Registered User on November 1, 2005 1:35 AM (e)

This is not the actions of a scholar, they are the actions of an egomaniac who hates to be questioned.

I agree that Billy is an ego freak. I don’t think he “hates to be questioned”, however. Rather, he is simply thrilled when he gets to pull the plug on his critics or when he gets the chance to poot in their faces and run away. He has learned that he gets attention this way and he’s not picky about what kind of attention he gets as long as his base of True Fans doesn’t drop below a certain level.

My advice to genuine professionals: if you see Billy spouting b.s., let him know that we know he is a professional b.s. artist and end it. Attempts to respond substantively to Billy’s drivel runs the risk of confusing others into believing that Billy has recited a string of facts worthy of a substantive response – something that never happens.

Comment #54563

Posted by K.E. on November 1, 2005 2:05 AM (e)

All hail “The Great Leader” Kim il Dembski

Comment #54567

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 2:27 AM (e)

actually, if you look at the history of posts on billyboy’s site, you will see essentially “0” interest in anything that even remotely sounds like science. all of his sycophants only have the wit to post on his obsessive rants.

that, in and of itself, paints “uncommon descent” as more of a kiddies-corner than any significant site.

what gets me is the sheer “weight” he has gained in sycophants simply by being a complete asshole.

otoh, isn’t howard stern “the king of all media”?

insert your own joke here…

Comment #54569

Posted by ag on November 1, 2005 2:46 AM (e)

Donald M (comment 54547) wrote:

To say that Dembski “hasn’t done much to answer their critiques” and that he only calls them “obsessed” is simply false. Dembski’s website has a long list of articles with detailed responses to several of his critics.

Either Donald M did not read Dembski’s so-called “replies” to his critics, or, if he did, he deliberately misinforms PT readers. Dembski’s “replies” are full of insults of his critics and usually avoid answering the substance of their critique. Moreover, there is a whole list of critics to whom he has never responded at all, except for sometimes posting some supercilious dismissive comments consisting of a few sentences aimed at denigrating his opponents, but not touching on the substance. For example, such a list can be seen here.

Btw, Wein’s critique of Dembski can be seen here, here, here, and here.

Donald M apparently does not realize that most of PT visitors have sufficient knowledge of the matter to see through his attempts at presenting Dembski’s behavior in a positive light. Your spin, Donald, may work on Dembski’s sites, where half-truth and/or direct lies may be welcome as long as they favor Dembski, but not here.

Comment #54574

Posted by Alan Fox on November 1, 2005 4:45 AM (e)

As it’s Toussaints today, I’m at a loose end, so what better way to spend time than browsing Dembski’s blog and checking variations from screenshots. I recall Donald M pompously berating me for daring to post on uncommon descent while also posting at PT, and also impugning the motives of the 38 Nobel prizewinners who signed the anti ID statement. Strangely, all seem to have disappeared. I also came across this comment by DaveScot with an addendum by UriBill here

Panda’s Thumb is no bastion of free speech. Quite a few people are banned there including myself and University of Vermont Professor Emeritus of Biology John Davison. Before they outright banned John and I they were arbitrarily erasing and/or disemvoweling our comments without warning, rhyme, or reason. At least Dembski will tell you why you’re banned and won’t childishly mangle your comments into gibberish by removing all the vowels.

[The way WordPress works, I personally have to sign off on the first post someone makes. If I find that first post unhelpful, I will delete the post. If I find the person who makes such an unhelpful post also annoying, I’ll remove him/her from the user list. If someone has made it past this first line of defense and then starts posting things that I find unhelpful, I’ll usually ban this person. If the post has already appeared, I’ll ban the person publicly. If not (sometimes WordPress asks me to approve posts by people who in the past have already been approved), then I’ll often ban the person, and notification of the ban won’t be made public. I appreciate your sentiments DaveScot, and in a world with more time I would be more gentle and courteous in banning people.]

Comment #54576

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on November 1, 2005 6:48 AM (e)

Oh Dembski, he’s a never ending source of paranoid hillarity. He’s like the survivalist that’s been trapped in his basement by the ATF with nothing but ammunition and some preserved jams left.

Comment #54577

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 1, 2005 7:11 AM (e)

Pennock chose a popular 2,000 word essay of mine titled “Who’s Got the Magic?” and followed it with a 9,000-word rebuttal by him titled “The Wizards of ID.” For the other essay of mine, Pennock chose “Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information,” which was a popular piece on information theory that’s now five years old. I’ve written much on that topic since then, and the essay itself is now outdated. Moreover, Pennock followed that essay with three critical responses. One of those responses, by Elliott Sober, was a lengthy technical review (from the journal _Philosophy of Science_) of my technical monograph _The Design Inference_ (Cambridge University Press, 1998). No portion of that monograph or anything comparable from my work was included in Pennock’s book. Finally, I was given no chance to respond to my critics.

First Dembski tries to stop Pennock using his work because of copyright .. then criticises him for not using more examples of his work..Perhaps there could have been ‘copyright’ issues? - or did Bill offer to remove any such restictions? (…allowing Pennock to demolish his later ‘work’ as well).

Comment #54581

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 1, 2005 7:40 AM (e)

Dembski’s website has a long list of articles with detailed responses to several of his critics.

Does it have a scientific theory of ID, and an explanation of how to test it using the scientific method?

Why not?

Comment #54585

Posted by K.E. on November 1, 2005 8:25 AM (e)

If ridicule and simple/formidable challenge doesn’t deter Dembski and his clones what will ?

Their empty content will not convince the rational their over-bloated self importance will suck in the rest so how are the Great Unwashed to be persuaded ?

A charter perhaps ?

Comment #54587

Posted by Alan Fox on November 1, 2005 8:40 AM (e)

I think Lenny is the best example. Don’t get sidetracked into philosophical debate. Hammer home the awkward questions. Point out the hypocracy and sophistry. Repeat as necessary and remain watchful.

Comment #54588

Posted by Alan Fox on November 1, 2005 8:44 AM (e)

Hypocrisy. (That was spelling error, not typo.)

Comment #54594

Posted by rdog29 on November 1, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

Donald M:

Perhaps Dembski could avoid all these “misunderstandings” regarding copyrights and name-calling by coming up with a f***ing theory of ID that is testable using the scientific method.

Comment #54610

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 1, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

He hasn’t done much to actually answer their critiques,

Why should Bill Dembski waste time responding to misrepresentation after misrepresentation? Shallit and Elsberry (Dembski’s former teacher) wouldn’t even use the definitions Dembski’s provided for his own concepts such as CSI, but rather supplied strawman renditions of their own making. What kind of “fair” critique is that?

Shallit spends 3 months writing a “critique” that doesn’t include Dembski’s definition of Dembski’s own concepts. That’s inexcusable.

I pointed some of those errors out here:
Response to Elsberry and Shallit 2003

I quit digging up any more errors because I personally got tired of dealing with the misrepresentations.

Perhaps Elsberry and Shallit will explain why they didn’t use Dembski’s definitions of his own terms, but rather described CSI in a way that would confuse the readers?

Salvador

Comment #54611

Posted by PvM on November 1, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

Sal “I will take a grenade for Bill anytime”, thanks for the good laugh… ‘Inexcusable’… You’re a riot. I am sorry to hear that you were confused by science.

But are you not surprised that Bill was unfamiliar with the history of Shallit’s role in the Dover case?

Nice diversion attempt :-) YOu’re a riot.

Comment #54617

Posted by Christopher Letzelter on November 1, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

PaulC writes, “One, Dembski purges dissent routinely. No biggie I guess. I mean it’s his blog, his editorial voice. Two, the disagreement is heavy enough that Dembski removes “many” postings for all kinds of reasons. I don’t think he’s suggesting that the number was unusual in this particular thread. He gets a lot of stuff he does not like and makes sure to delete it.”
Some of the stuff he decides not to delete:
“student loan
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The Karl Rove of Information Theory?
William Dembski continues to avoid answering my detailed criticisms of his work.  Instead, he continues his personal attacks.  Ever more desperate, he now resorts to quoting anonymous e-mail messages attacking me.  I guess this is yet an…
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taken from:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archive…

Comment #54622

Posted by George Mason on November 1, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

I quit digging up any more errors because I personally got tired of dealing with the misrepresentations.

Perhaps Elsberry and Shallit will explain why they didn’t use Dembski’s definitions of his own terms, but rather described CSI in a way that would confuse the readers?

Salvador,

You wrote that non-Christians cannot serve as officers in IDEA clubs without that club being a “renegade”:

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

if non Christians are elected to become [IDEA club] officers, the club can continue under it’s constitution, but it can no longer be a recognized as sanctioned chapter by the IDEA center in San Diego, but rather would have to delcare itself a renegade ID chapter.

What scientific movement or organization demands in its charter that it be managed only by members from a particular religious sect?

Are you now aware of the revelation in the Dover trial that the intelligent design book Of Pandas and People began as a creationist book, and that its authors replaced all instances of “creationism” with “intelligent design” immediately after the Supreme Court’s 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision?

Were you aware of these facts before the trial in Dover?

You’re close to Mr. Dembski—do you know if he was aware that his employer FTE had replaced the word “creationism” with “intelligent design” in the creationist book Pandas and People?

Comment #54625

Posted by ivy privy on November 1, 2005 2:00 PM (e)

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

if non Christians are elected to become [IDEA club] officers, the club can continue under it’s constitution, but it can no longer be a recognized as sanctioned chapter by the IDEA center in San Diego, but rather would have to delcare itself a renegade ID chapter.

My local IDEA Club is not in compliance. They have an officer who is not Christian. Where is the office of the Inquisition, so that I may turn them in?

Perhaps Elsberry and Shallit will explain why they didn’t use Dembski’s definitions of his own terms, but rather described CSI in a way that would confuse the readers?

Are you saying that Dembski’s description of CSI was not a) confusing b) logically fallacious and c) useless?

Comment #54627

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

Some of the stuff he decides not to delete: [cut to chorus of Vikings]

OK, so he’s not as vigilant when it comes to trimming spam from defunct threads as he is in purging dissent from the active ones.

I admit I’m a little surprised that he didn’t remove the “Karl Rove of Information Theory” trackback. Maybe he hasn’t noticed it, realizes nobody is reading the thread anymore, or just keeps it there as a sort of Potemkin village of free speech.

That’s all speculation. But by Dembski’s own admission, he removed multiple postings making the same point about the status of Shallit’s deposition and then proceeded with his own rebuttal. It’s his blog and he can do that, but as a debating tactic, it speaks for itself.

Comment #54632

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

Why should Bill Dembski waste time responding to misrepresentation after misrepresentation…

translation:

“He is Viggo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him!”

[Ghostbusters 2]

Slaveador:

thanks for yet again showing how ID supporters have no critical thinking capacity, and are textbook cases of sycophantism.

Comment #54633

Posted by Shirley Knott on November 1, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

Just curious here – is there a single logical fallacy which Dembski has not committed? Are there any he has ceased to commit after having them pointed out to him?
Has he ever been known to tell the truth about anything non-trivial?

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #54636

Posted by Matt Brauer on November 1, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

Dembski’s critics do not use his terminology in their critiques because ID terminology has the unfortunate property of changing its meaning to suit the proponent’s goals of the moment. (For example, is tractability a necessary component of detachability? Is DELIM a necessary part of specification? Dembski asks that we accept his argument that they are, but then, in a subsequent book, asserts without explanation that they aren’t. For Humpty Dembski, the words mean what he says they mean, even if that meaning changes without warning from one paper to the next.)

Furthermore, the field of evolutionary biology is rich in concepts and language. Dembski chooses not to bother to learn any of it, but persists in coining his own idiosyncratic jargon. Biologists shouldn’t have to slog through his ever-shifting terminology in order to demonstrate that it’s wrong.

(I’d point out in passing that, while they certainly USE his terminology, it’s not clear that Demsbki’s most ardent supporters understand what it means. Or would Mr. Cordova care to straighten out the TRACT/DELIM controversy for us all?)

Comment #54646

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 4:31 PM (e)

Why should Bill Dembski waste time responding to misrepresentation after misrepresentation?

To demonstrate that they are misrepresentations rather than just claiming it. Because this is required among ethical seekers of knowledge. By failing to do what is required, Dembski, you, Donald M, and the rest of the ID crowd exclude yourselves from that company.

Comment #54648

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:

I don’t understand his use of the term in regards to denying a “retrospective fallacy.”

Then why did you write that “Dembski does look like he deals with the substance here”? How does claiming that a charge is unwarranted followed by irrelevant gobbledegook “deal with the substance”?

I know Dembski has to be wrong about “No Free Lunch” and it’s relationship to genetic algorithms because if he were right, then genetic algorithims wouldn’t work any better than “brute searches”… but they do work better.

No, Dembski is right about that, but lies about its significance. Genetic algorithms work better than brute search because the selection criteria reflect the desired outcome; information about the goal is available to the algorithm. But this has no bearing on evolution, because evolution is not a search; it has no predefined goal, no a priori information of any sort about the outcome. The only information that goes in is the contingent facts about history as it unfolds, and the outcome is the one defined by that history; different histories result in different outcomes – this world is just one of many possibilities. The NFL theorems refute teleology, not evolution.

Comment #54652

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

“The NFL theorems refute teleology, not evolution.”

Sorry, the NFL theorems refute diddly.

To my taste, they’re not even interesting intractability results and bear no relationship to self-organization in any physically plausible complex system.

I think that as initially formulated (absent Dembski’s misapplication) maybe NFL is a reasonable stake in the ground on what people should not bother to try to do with general-purpose optimization algorithms. But when you consider that the fitness landscapes treated are completely arbitary and include incomputable objective functions, there is nothing very surprising about the result. If the value at one point tells you nothing about the location of nearby optima, then you would not intuitively expect to do better than random probing.

However, the objective functions treated in optimization methods are always somewhat amenable to hill-climbing even if you sometimes need to get out of local minima. If they weren’t, no amount of “intelligent” design would get you to an optimum any faster than random sampling. The only reason a human can come up with an allegedly irreducibly complex mousetrap is because it follows from a sequence of incremental improvements. Conceivably, there could be a much better mousetrap in the combinatorial space of all possible mechanisms, but if there is no path to it through incremental improvements, neither human intelligence nor evolution has any advantage with respect to finding it.

Comment #54654

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

Sorry, the NFL theorems refute diddly.

All theorems refute something – that’s in their nature. I maintain that the NFL theorems refute teleology, and you’ve provided no reason to think otherwise.

if there is no path to it through incremental improvements, neither human intelligence nor evolution has any advantage with respect to finding it.

This is an irrelevant tautology: “if you can’t get there from here, no one can get there faster than anyone else”. But the simple fact is that humans do come up with a wide variety of mousetraps, because they are motivated to do so, whereas there is no motivation in evolution.

Comment #54658

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

For an informed discussion about NFL, Dembski, and evolution, see Mark Perakh’s piece at

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/orr.cfm

I’ll concede that this article lends no support to my claim about NFL refuting teleology, which I hereby retract. Of course, the much more significant point is that Dembski’s claims about NFL are BS and he’s wasting his life on such nonsense.

Comment #54660

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 6:34 PM (e)

This is an irrelevant tautology: “if you can’t get there from here, no one can get there faster than anyone else”.

You dropped part of my statement. I wasn’t saying that you can’t get there at all. You can “get to” any design just by placing the pieces in the appropriate arrangement. The key question is whether there is a path involving incremental improvements or if the optimal design somehow exists in isolation of other functioning but inferior designs.

In the latter case, humans cannot find the design except by chance no matter how motivated they might be. Actually, the mousetrap itself is simple enough that could conceivably be found by exploring a small space exhaustively. In that sense, it’s an incremental improvement on having nothing at all. But, for instance, a modern automobile engine is too complicated to find through exhaustive search of everything that fits under the hood. Instead, it’s the result of successive refinement of previous designs. But there is conceivably some very subtle, more efficient, more readily fabricated engine design that we’re not going to find by improving what we have. There could be a very narrow, inaccessible optimum in the space of engines. Intelligence won’t help because intelligence is merely a particular approach to exploring the space of improvements; evolution is another approach. Both are powerful, but neither is guaranteed to find globally optimal solutions in a reasonable amount of time.

The NFL theorem corresponds to something analogous to opening up a safe with a combination lock. Suppose the combination is much longer than a conventional lock and therefore almost impossible to guess. For comparison to NFL, there might be multiple combinations that open the safe, but they are very rare. The lock itself is treated as a black box giving no indication of how close a particular attempt may be to a combination that opens the safe.

Evolution will be no better than random probing in finding the combination. But intelligent will also be no better than random probing. There is nothing in the application of NFL that distinguishes between intelligent or “motivated” design and the effect of selective pressure. So while I agree that NFL proves and refutes various things, I don’t see what it has to do with teleology.

Comment #54663

Posted by Norman Doering on November 1, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

morbius asked: “Then why did you write that ‘Dembski does look like he deals with the substance here’? How does claiming that a charge is unwarranted followed by irrelevant gobbledegook ‘deal with the substance’?”

I used the word “looked” because I was baffled by exactly how his claim refuted the specific. The specific in this case being the charge of “retrospective fallacy.” The specific is the specific charge, not the gobbledigook refutation. I don’t know if it’s refuted because I haven’t read Dembski’s “No Free Lunch” book and that’s what he wants people to do. His claim is that he dealt with the specific charge in that book. So, you can’t know unless you’ve read “No Free Lunch.”

morbius wrote: “Genetic algorithms work better than brute search because the selection criteria reflect the desired outcome;”

Does what morbius wrote make sense to others here? Doesn’t a brute search also have “a desired out come”? Isn’t that also a selection criteria? An even narrower one?

“…This has no bearing on evolution, because evolution is not a search; it has no predefined goal, no a priori information of any sort about the outcome.”

It doesn’t have a narrow goal, but doesn’t it ultimately search for the “best” survivors in a given environment? Is that not a “Goal”? If not, then how can you have “selection criteria”? Doesn’t that word “criteria” imply a goal?

“The NFL theorems refute teleology, not evolution.”

Apparently PaulC does not agree. I can’t say myself because to me, both of you are using terminology as vague as Dembski’s.

“But the simple fact is that humans do come up with a wide variety of mousetraps, because they are motivated to do so, whereas there is no motivation in evolution.”

The Venus Flytrap seems to be moving in the direction of a mousetrap.

Comment #54665

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

BTW, I should add that the path to the design may also involve functioning systems that carry out some process other than the final one. This point is often made with respect to evolution. I would claim that it is no less true with respect to human invention, although in the latter case functioning systems may be recorded without building working prototypes, and may be retained out of being merely interesting rather than obviously useful. This probably makes human invention a faster process, but evolution has more time and parallel processors to work with.

Comment #54666

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

You dropped part of my statement. I wasn’t saying that you can’t get there at all.

Just non-magically, which I considered irrelevantly indisputable. I almost even said something about cranes vs. skyhooks but figured, why bother, that’s understood.

In the latter case, humans cannot find the design except by chance no matter how motivated they might be.

But designs humans can’t find except by chance aren’t at issue.

So while I agree that NFL proves and refutes various things, I don’t see what it has to do with teleology.

I coulda sworn I backed off that claim just above.

Comment #54668

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 6:59 PM (e)

Apparently PaulC does not agree. I can’t say myself because to me, both of you are using terminology as vague as Dembski’s.

Sorry. Actually I’m a little offended. I admit my attempt at explanation is too vague, but you won’t find me backpedaling on what I meant. It’s difficult to make the point I’m trying to make without introducing more formalism than space permits. There are several criticisms of Dembski’s misuse of NFL on the web. My contention based on this is that there’s no way in which NFL can distinguish between “intelligent” optimization and optimization based on evolutionary processes. But I admit I have not presented more than some vague assertions and analogies. I’ll try harder next time.

Comment #54669

Posted by Norman Doering on November 1, 2005 6:59 PM (e)

morbius wrote: “But designs humans can’t find except by chance aren’t at issue.”

Are you sure about that?

Dembski has a contest going where he’s looking for examples of evolution in human inventions.

Here’s my entry:
http://www.geocities.com/normdoer/EvoInvent1.htm…

Comment #54670

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 1, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

Why should Bill Dembski waste time responding to misrepresentation after misrepresentation?

He shouldn’t. (shrug)

Instead, he should get off his lazy ass and produce this much-vaunted but never-seen scientific theory of ID that he (and you) keeps blabbering about.

By the way, Sal, you neglected to answer some simple questions for me the last time you were here. I’m sure it was just an oversite on your part, and not really an attempt to run from questions that you don’t like.

So I’ll ask again. And again and again and again and again, every time you show up here, until you either answer or run away. I want every lurker who comes in here to see that you are nothing but an evasive dishonest coward.

(1) what is the scientific theory of creation (or intelligent design) and how can we test it using the scientific method?

I do *NOT* want you to respond with a long laundry list of (mostly inaccurate) criticisms of evolutionary biology. They are completely irrelevant to a scientific theory of creation or intelligent design. I want to see the scientific alternative that you are proposing—- the one you want taught in public school science classes, the one that creationists and intelligent design “theorists” testified under oath in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas and elsewhere is SCIENCE and is NOT based on religious doctrine. Let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that evolutionary biology is indeed absolutely completely totally irretrievable unalterably irrevocably 100% dead wrong. Fine. Show me your scientific alternative. Show me how your scientific theory explains things better than evolutionary biology does. Let’s see this superior “science” of yours.

Any testible scientific theory of creation should be able to provide answers to several questions: (1) how did life begin, (3) how did the current diversity of life appear, and (3) what mechanisms were used in these processes and where can we see these mechanisms today.

Any testible scientific theory of intelligent design should be able to give testible answers to other questions: (1) what exactly did the Intelligent Designer(s) do, (2) what mechanisms did the Designer(s) use to do whatever it is you think it did, (3) where can we see these mechanisms in action today, and (4) what objective criteria can we use to determine what entities are “intelligently designed” and what entities aren’t (please illustrate this by pointing to something that you think IS designed, something you think is NOT designed, and explain how to tell the difference).

If your, uh, “scientific theory” isn’t able to answer any of these questions yet, then please feel free to tell me how you propose to scientifically answer them. What experiments or tests can we perform, in principle, to answer these questions.

Also, since one of the criteria of “science” is falsifiability, I’d like you to tell me how your scientific theory, whatever it is, can be falsified. What experimental results or observations would conclusively prove that creation/intelligent design did not happen.

Another part of the scientific method is direct testing. One does not establish “B” simply by demonstrating that “A” did not happen. I want you to demonstrate “B” directly. So don’t give me any “there are only two choices, evolution or creation, and evolution is worng so creation must be right” baloney. I will repeat that I do NOT want a big long laundry list of “why evolution is wrong”. I don’t care why evolution is wrong. I want to know what your alternative is, and how it explains data better than evolution does.

I’d also like to know two specific things about this “alternative scientific theory”: How old does “intelligent design/creationism theory” determine the universe to be. Is it millions of years old, or
thousands of years old. And does ‘intelligent design/creationism ‘theory’ determine that humans have descended from apelike primates, or
does it determine that they have not.

I look forward to seeing your “scientific theories”. Unless of course you don’t HAVE any and are just lying to us when you claim to.

(2) According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

(3) What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic – oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” —- we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes — it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” … . . ?

(4) The most militant of the Ayatollah-wanna-be’s are the members of the “Reconstructionist” movement. The Reconstructionists were founded by Rouas J. Rushdoony, a militant fundamentalist who was instrumental in getting Henry Morris’s book The Genesis Flood published in 1961. According to Rushdoony’s view, the United States should be directly transformed into a theocracy in which the fundamentalists would rule directly according to the will of God. “There can be no separation of Church and State,” Rushdoony declares. (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 51) “Christians,” a Reconstructionist pamphlet declares, “are called upon by God to exercise dominion.” (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 50) The Reconstructionists propose doing away with the US Constitution and laws, and instead ruling directly according to the laws of God as set out in the Bible—they advocate a return to judicial punishment for religious crimes such as blasphemy or violating the Sabbath, as well as a return to such Biblically-approved punishments as stoning.

According to Rushdoony, the Second Coming of Christ can only happen after the “Godly” have taken over the earth and constructed the Kingdom of Heaven here: “The dominion that Adam first received and then lost by his Fall will be restored to redeemed Man. God’s People will then have a long reign over the entire earth, after which, when all enemies have been put under Christ’s feet, the end shall come.” (cited in Diamond, 1989, p. 139) “Christian Reconstructionism,” another pamphlet says, “is a call to the Church to awaken to its Biblical responsibility to subdue the earth for the glory of God … Christian Reconstructionism therefore looks for and works for the rebuilding of the institutions of society according to a Biblical blueprint.” (cited in Diamond 1989, p. 136) In the Reconstructionist view, evolution is one of the “enemies” which must be “put under Christ’s feet” if the godly are to subdue the earth for the glory of God.

In effect, the Reconstructionists are the “Christian” equivilent of the Taliban.

While some members of both the fundamentalist and creationist movements view the Reconstructionists as somewhat kooky, many of them have had nice things to say about Rushdoony and his followers. ICR has had close ties with Reconstructionists. Rushdoony was one of the financial backers for Henry Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, and Morris’s son John was a co-signer of several documents produced by the Coalition On Revival, a reconstructionist coalition founded in 1984. ICR star debater Duane Gish was a member of COR’s Steering Committee, as was Richard Bliss, who served as ICR’s “curriculum director” until his death. Gish and Bliss were both co-signers of the COR documents “A Manifesto for the Christian Church” (COR, July 1986), and the “Forty-Two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian Worldview” (COR,1989), which declares, “We affirm that the laws of man must be based upon the laws of God. We deny that the laws of man have any inherent authority of their own or that their ultimate authority is rightly derived from or created by man.” (“Forty-Two Essentials, 1989, p. 8). P>The Discovery Institute, the chief cheerleader for “intelligent design theory”, is particularly cozy with the Reconstructionists. The single biggest source of money for the Discovery Institute is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig. Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory” (other branches of Discovery Institute are focused on areas like urban transportation, Social Security “reform”, and (anti) environmentalist organizing).

Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist who was long associated with Rushdooney, and who sat with him on the board of directors of the Chalcedon Foundation – a major Reconstructionist think-tank – for over 20 years, and donated over $700,000 to the Reconstructionists. Just as Rushdooney was a prime moving force behind Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, intelligent design “theorist” Phillip Johnson dedicated his book “Defeating Darwinism” to “Howard and Roberta” – Ahmanson and his wife. Ahmanson was quoted in newspaper accounts as saying, “My purpose is total integration of Biblical law into our lives.”

Ahmanson has given several million dollars over the past few years to anti-evolution groups (including Discovery Institute), as well as anti-gay groups, “Christian” political candidates, and funding efforts to split the Episcopalian Church over its willingness to ordain gay ministers and to other groups which oppose the minimum wage. He was also a major funder of the recent “recall” effort in California which led to the election of Terminator Arnie. Ahmanson is also a major funder of the effort for computerized voting, and he and several other prominent Reconstructionists have close ties with Diebold, the company that manufactures the computerized voting machines used. There has been some criticism of Diebold because it refuses to make the source code of its voting machine software available for scrutiny, and its software does not allow anyone to track voting after it is done (no way to confirm accuracy of the machine).

Some of Ahmanson’s donations are channeled through the Fieldstead Foundation, which is a subspecies of the Ahmanson foundation “Fieldstead” is Ahmanson’s middle name). The Fieldstead Foundation funds many of the travelling and speaking expenses of the DI’s shining stars.

Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory”. By his own reckoning, Ahmanson gives more of his money to the DI than to any other poilitically active group – only a museum trust in his wife’s hometown in Iowa and a Bible college in New Jersey get more. In 2004, he reportedly gave the Center another $2.8 million. Howard Ahamnson, Jr sits on the Board Directors of Discovery Institute.

Since then, as his views have become more widely known, Ahmanson has tried to backpeddle and present a kinder, gentler image of himself. However, his views are still so extremist that politicians have returned campaign contributions from Ahmanson once they learned who he was.

So it’s no wonder that the Discovery Institute is reluctant to talk about the funding source for its Intelligent Design campaign. Apparently, they are not very anxious to have the public know that most of its money comes from just one whacko billionnaire who has long advocated a political program that is very similar to that of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

Do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

Oh, and your latest round of blithering about “anti-God” and “anti-religion” prompts yet another question, Sal (whcih, of course, you also will not answer).

(5) Sal, you must KNOW that your ID heroes are in court right now trying to argue that creationism/ID is SCIENCE and has NO RELIGIOUS PURPOSE OR AIM. You must KNOW that if the courts rule that creationism/ID is NOT science and IS nothing but religious doctrine, then your ID crap will never see the inside of a science classroom. So you must KNOW that every time you blither to us that creationism/ID is all about God and faith and the Bible and all that, you are UNDERMINING YOUR OWN HEROES by demonstrating, right here in public, that your heroes are just lying under oath when they claim that creationism/ID has NO religious purpose or aims.

So why the heck do you do it ANYWAY? Why the heck are you in here yammering about religion when your own leaders are trying so desperately to argue that ID/creationism is NOT about religion? Are you really THAT stupid? Really and truly?

Why are you in here arguing that ID/creationism is all about God and the Bible, while Discovery Institute and other creationists are currently in Kansas and Dover arguing that ID/creationism is NOT all about God and the Bible?

Why are you **undercutting your own side**????????

I really truly want to know.

Comment #54671

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

Doesn’t a brute search also have “a desired out come”? Isn’t that also a selection criteria?

Yes. No – I’m talking about the selection criteria that determine which characteristics are retained.

It doesn’t have a narrow goal, but doesn’t it ultimately search for the “best” survivors in a given environment?

The point is that “best” is defined entirely in terms of that environment – there’s no additional information that drives the “search”, so there’s no sense it which it is a search – the outcome you get is the outcome you get, not one that is selected or even anticipated ahead of time.

Is that not a “Goal”? If not, then how can you have “selection criteria”? Doesn’t that word “criteria” imply a goal?

The selection criteria I mentioned pertain to genetic algorithms, which I distinguished from evolution. When people run genetic algorithms, they have something they are trying to achieve.

The Venus Flytrap seems to be moving in the direction of a mousetrap.

You have quite an imagination. Do mice fly? Perhaps you would prefer to claim that the Venus Flytrap is moving in the direction of a battrap. But the claim would be utterly baseless.

Comment #54674

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

morbius wrote: “But designs humans can’t find except by chance aren’t at issue.”

Are you sure about that?

I’m sure they’re not what we were talking about (e.g., mousetraps aren’t purely random collections of molecules) nor what we care about.

Dembski has a contest going where he’s looking for examples of evolution in human inventions.

Which would not be designs findable only by chance. Perhaps you misparsed my statement.

Comment #54677

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

you won’t find me backpedaling on what I meant

If this refers to me: I didn’t backpedal on what I meant, I backpedaled on what I claimed. i.e., I meant what I wrote, but I was wrong – NFL does not refute teleology. I hope that’s clear enough.

Comment #54678

Posted by Norman Doering on November 1, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

morbius wrote: “… quite an imagination. Do mice fly? Perhaps you would prefer to claim that the Venus Flytrap is moving in the direction of a battrap. But the claim would be utterly baseless.”

By that I mean that the Venus Flytrap’s trap has some of the same functional elements as that of the mousetrap. You’ve got bait which lures the victim into the trap and then something that sticks the victim to the trap.

The fly is caught in much the same way a mouse is.

I think there are larger versions of such plants that eat small animals. At least they exist in old grade B sci-fi films as “man eating plants.”

Be careful there – a mouse eating plant may exist. The Venus flytrap isn’t the only eating plant, there’s the pitcher plant and sundew too.

Comment #54680

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:27 PM (e)

This probably makes human invention a faster process, but evolution has more time and parallel processors to work with.

This is a rather odd statement. If evolution has more parallel processors to work with, then why wouldn’t it be the faster inventor? It is, I would think, the faster inventor – it is inventing many small fitness improvements all over world all the time. But this is apples and oranges – people invent things with pre-specified functions, whereas evolution invents whatever improves fitness, regardless of what function achieves it. So for any given function, humans will (if they have a cost effective pathway) invent it far faster because they are directing their increments in a particular direction, whereas evolution climbs local hills regardless of where they lead.

Comment #54681

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

I think there are larger versions of such plants that eat small animals. At least they exist in old grade B sci-fi films as “man eating plants.”

check out “Day of the Triffids” for rampant man-eating plant action. Plus, the hero is a marine biologist! Classic B Sci Fi.

there are pitcher plants that are large enough to trap and digest something as large as a small mouse, tho i can’t for the life of me figure out how a mouse would get trapped inside one to begin with.

there are also carnivorous vines that apparently have been recorded to ingest small mammals, bird, and frogs (tho rarely):

http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq1160.html

Comment #54682

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

If evolution has more parallel processors to work with, then why wouldn’t it be the faster inventor?

er, because there is no goal in the “invention” process? didn’t we already cover that?

Comment #54683

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

actually, i see you actually touched on the same answer yourself in the rest of your paragraph.

which prompts me to wonder why you raised the question to begin with.

Comment #54684

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

morbius wrote: “… quite an imagination. Do mice fly? Perhaps you would prefer to claim that the Venus Flytrap is moving in the direction of a battrap. But the claim would be utterly baseless.”

By that I mean that the Venus Flytrap’s trap has some of the same functional elements as that of the mousetrap. You’ve got bait which lures the victim into the trap and then something that sticks the victim to the trap.

Then what you mean has nothing to do with what you wrote. Rather than the Venus Flytrap “moving in the direction” of a mousetrap, you’ve simply looked around and found something that is analogous to a mousetrap.

The fly is caught in much the same way a mouse is.

For a broad enough sense of “much the same way” as to make the claim unfalsifiable.

I think there are larger versions of such plants that eat small animals. At least they exist in old grade B sci-fi films as “man eating plants.”

You think a lot of things, it seems.

Be careful there — a mouse eating plant may exist. The Venus flytrap isn’t the only eating plant, there’s the pitcher plant and sundew too.

There’s nothing here for me to be careful of, since this has no bearing on claims about Venus Flytraps moving in some perceived direction.

Comment #54685

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

actually, i see you touched on the same answer yourself in the rest of your paragraph.

which prompts me to wonder why you raised the question to begin with.

Comment #54687

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2005 7:37 PM (e)

morbius -

i could be wrong, but the demeanor and direction of your posts suggests you just want to argue with folks.

that’s fine and dandy, but you would find that type of thing much more satisfying in the “After the Bar Closes” area than in these threads.

Comment #54689

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 7:48 PM (e)

If evolution has more parallel processors to work with, then why wouldn’t it be the faster inventor?

er, because there is no goal in the “invention” process? didn’t we already cover that?

I covered it, but PaulC offered that it had to do with humans not bothering to build prototypes, which seems to me to profoundly miss what’s relevant.

i could be wrong, but the demeanor and direction of your posts suggests you just want to argue with folks.

I suggest that you leave such ad hominems on the bathroom wall and stick to substance here. If you really think I “just want to argue with folks”, you might stop to wonder just why it was that I went out of the way to clarify that PaulC and had been right and I wrong about NFL refuting teleology.

Comment #54691

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 1, 2005 8:02 PM (e)

Matt Brauer wrote:

Dembski’s critics do not use his terminology in their critiques because ID terminology has the unfortunate property of changing its meaning to suit the proponent’s goals of the moment.

You’re giving excuses for misrepresentations Matt. This simple phrase was omitted from Shallit and Elsberry’s critique:

Dembski in No Free Lunch

Complex Specified Information :

The coincidence of conceptual and physical information where the conceptual information is both identifiable independently of the physical information and also complex.

60 pages of refutation, and detailed reading of Dembski’s work, yet the most central definition was omitted? Why was that? I’m not saying one has to agree with Dembski, but is it too much to ask to give a quote of a central definition?

For example, had they included that central definition, then the supposed “error” of inconsistency in section 6 would have been seen to not be an error at all, but rather an uncharitable rendering of what CSI is. A 16 digit Visa number has 54 bits of information, not 500 bits, but it is still CSI.

Shallit and Elsberry refer to “functions” generating CSI. CSI deals with physical artifacts, not just abstract mathematical entities such as mathematical functions. Of course, their “refutation” did a good job of steering clear of CSI’s strong connection to physical artifacts.

Their use of the TSPGRID program to “refute” LCI is highly suspect. Did they identify a valid example Physical Information in the scenario and then demonstrate the concidence with Conceptual Information? NO!

It’s one thing to say that a concept wasn’t clear, but another to substitute a strawman misrepresentation for a central concept.

Their critique didn’t even rise to the level of fair respresentation, much less a refutation.

Comment #54692

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 8:08 PM (e)

Their critique didn’t even rise to the level of fair respresentation, much less a refutation.

According to one individual who has demonstrated no expertise in the subject, and a great deal of intellectual (and outright) dishonesty.

Comment #54693

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 1, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

If you really think I “just want to argue with folks”, you might stop to wonder just why it was that I went out of the way to clarify that PaulC and had been right and I wrong about NFL refuting teleology.

Strategic retreat followed by rear-guard action?
Seems sound.

I really think STJ was just bringing to your attention that there’s an associated forum specifically for the hashing out of loose ends from hijacked comment threads.

Hijacked, in the sense that now a space nominally for readers’ comments regarding Dembski’s recent hijinks is taken over by a (not-without-value) discussion of NFL, evolution, and the entire idea of search algorithms. (And commentary on same.)

And your hair-trigger for use of “ad hominem” suggests more than anything else that STJ’s belief regarding your desire for argumentation is well-founded.

Comment #54694

Posted by Shirley Knott on November 1, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

Tell me, Sal, how does
“The coincidence of conceptual and physical information where the conceptual information is both identifiable independently of the physical information and also complex.”
differ from ANY occurence of the application of a concept to a newly encountered instance which falls under the concept?
Hmmmm?
No difference, is there?
Dembski is really a very silly lightweight little anti-intellectual. You demean yourself by lying for him.

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #54696

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 1, 2005 8:16 PM (e)

Please, please. Have some respect. That’s pseudo-intellectual.

Comment #54697

Posted by Matt Brauer on November 1, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

Salvador, would you address my response, please? That Dembski’s idiosyncratic terminology is as shifting as the sand?

Specifically: what do TRACT and DELIM have to do with Dembski’s theory, and why were they essential parts of it in TDI but not in NFL?

Comment #54700

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 8:39 PM (e)

If you really think I “just want to argue with folks”, you might stop to wonder just why it was that I went out of the way to clarify that PaulC and had been right and I wrong about NFL refuting teleology.

Strategic retreat followed by rear-guard action?
Seems sound.

Seems unfalsifiable – or any facts fit a preconceived conclusion.

Hijacked, in the sense that now a space nominally for readers’ comments regarding Dembski’s recent hijinks is taken over by a (not-without-value) discussion of NFL, evolution, and the entire idea of search algorithms. (And commentary on same.)

But that’s not at all what he was talking about – else he would have addressed it to Norman and PaulC too.

And your hair-trigger for use of “ad hominem” suggests more than anything else that STJ’s belief regarding your desire for argumentation is well-founded.

Uh, right – both of you guys seem intent on picking a fight, and my using “ad hominem” accurately is somehow evidence that I “just want to argue” – is how he put it; “hair-trigger” is just made up crap – made up by a hypocritical jackass, it looks to me.

Comment #54704

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 1, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

Do mice fly? Perhaps you would prefer to claim that the Venus Flytrap is moving in the direction of a battrap. But the claim would be utterly baseless.

Um, let me just butt in for a second to point out that (1) venus flytraps actually consume mostly ants, and (2) the flies that are caught by Venus flytraps aren’t, uh, flying when they are caught.

The prey has to walk inside the trap. Indeed, the prey has to walk inside the trap and then move around enough to touch several different trigger hairs inside. Simply flying into it, won’t set the trap off.

Comment #54705

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 1, 2005 8:59 PM (e)

CSI deals with physical artifacts

Says you. (shrug)

Please answer my questions, Sal. Some of the newbies might begin to think that you’re afraid of them. We wouldn’t want them to think you’re just a cowardly blowhard with nothing relevant to say who’s afraid to answer direct questions, would we, Sal?

My questions, one more time:

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

5. Why are you undermining your own side by proclaiming here that ID is all about defeating “atheism” and “anti-religion”, while your side is desperately trying to argue in court that ID has nothing at all whatsoever to do with religion or religious apologetics? Are your fellow IDers just lying under oath when they testify to that, Sal?

Any time you’re ready, Sal.

Comment #54707

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 9:12 PM (e)

Um, let me just butt in for a second to point out that (1) venus flytraps actually consume mostly ants, and (2) the flies that are caught by Venus flytraps aren’t, uh, flying when they are caught.

The prey has to walk inside the trap. Indeed, the prey has to walk inside the trap and then move around enough to touch several different trigger hairs inside. Simply flying into it, won’t set the trap off.

Thanks for the explication. My basic point remains – Venus Flytraps are not discernibly “moving in the direction of a mousetrap”, that such a formulation is inconsistent with our understanding of evolution.

Comment #54712

Posted by caerbannog on November 1, 2005 9:29 PM (e)


You have quite an imagination. Do mice fly? Perhaps you would prefer to claim that the Venus Flytrap is moving in the direction of a battrap. But the claim would be utterly baseless.

(Kinda wandering off-topic here… but what the heck!)

I just happen to have a tray full of Venus flytraps right outside my kitchen window. And boy do they catch flies! (Most of the traps have fly “leftovers” in them).

I also have a tray full of Sarracenia Leucophylla with a whole bunch of pitchers 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, some of which are packed almost to the brim with various and sundry flying insects.

It’s pretty impressive – I don’t live in a very “buggy” area (just a condo in the city)… but those plants have been gorging themselves all summer!

Comment #54714

Posted by Steve S on November 1, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

“Why should Bill Dembski waste time responding to misrepresentation after misrepresentation?”

Actually, it doesn’t make economic sense for him to talk to biologists or information theorists, because that doesn’t accomplish anything. All they do is point out various and sundry ways his ideas don’t make any sense. In the 20 years of Intelligent Design, has he been invited to an Information Theory conference? Have reputable biologists signed on to his program? Have experiments been done? Of course not.

What makes sense is for him to do things which result in him getting paid $200/hr. Talking to fawning sycophants like Salvador, and publishing incoherent books, makes him a lot of money.

Comment #54715

Posted by Andrew Mead McClure on November 1, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

*Scratches head* Well, this conversation is going in circles just a bit.

So, just curious. What exactly are the conditions for getting banned from “Panda’s Thumb”, and what is the origin of this strange story Alan Fox quotes about “vowels getting removed”? There does not appear to be a moderation policy posted on this site anywhere.

Comment #54717

Posted by Steve S on November 1, 2005 10:24 PM (e)

There does not appear to be a moderation policy posted on this site anywhere.

You’re not very thorough, are you, Andy? The Comment Integrity Policy is linked on the front page.

Comment #54718

Posted by Andrew Mead McClure on November 1, 2005 10:35 PM (e)

Ah, thank you. My apologies, I must have looked right past that.

I am still simply curious though what on earth this DaveScot individual (whom Alan Fox quotes above) is referring to about comments being “disembowled” by having their vowels removed. That doesn’t seem to be a practice in accordance with the “comment integrity policy”.

Of course, I’d have no trouble believing that “DaveScot” is simply lying there, considering that in the same paragraph he also says “At least Dembski will tell you why you’re banned”… which is a verifiably untrue statement…

I’d have even less trouble believing “DaveScot” to be simply lying after reading this: http://austringer.net/wp/?p=112

Comment #54721

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 1, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

It appears to be up to the one who starts a topic what he will do with obnoxious people like DaveScot. PZ Myers, I believe it was, chose to “disemvowel” posts from one or more individuals, almost certainly including DaveScot (who deserves it more than most). It was a sanction without being full censorship, whatever one thinks of it.

I doubt there are many here who would suppose DaveScot to be honest about anything regarding evolution, at least. But I’m sure the disemvoweling did happen to him. I would add that it is always wise to doubt DaveScot first, at least on forums dealing with origins.

Comment #54722

Posted by PvM on November 1, 2005 11:14 PM (e)

Sal, I notice you still have not explained why you consider the definition you quoted for CSI to be the relevant one? In addition you have not shown that even if Elsberry and Shallit ignored this definition, that their arguments are without any merrit.

Given you attempts to rebut the article and given you attempts to now argue that somehow the critics have misunderstood or misrepresented Dembski, is not very original.

But I understand, what else could you argue…

You make for an excellent ID critic.

Comment #54725

Posted by Norman Doering on November 1, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

morbius wrote: “There’s nothing here for me to be careful of, since this has no bearing on claims about Venus Flytraps moving in some perceived direction.”

Well, if there is such a thing as a mouse-eating plant and if it’s a relative of the flytrap, then wouldn’t that mean the flytrap had already moved in the direction of being a mousetrap?

And according to Sir_Toejam: …there are pitcher plants that are large enough to trap and digest something as large as a small mouse,… there are also carnivorous vines that apparently have been recorded to ingest small mammals, bird, and frogs (tho rarely):

http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq1160.html

The idea is not of evolution itself having a direction, but of certain species “looking” like they are moving in a direction. Evolutionary algorithms are called “hill climbing” algorithms and if a species looks like it landed on a certain hill and has been climbing it for awhile I think it could be said, in a metaphoric way, to be climbing that hill, and so moving in that direction.

It’s an illusion of natural selection.

How much of an illusion? I’m not sure. To some extent we can predict the direction of “directionless” evolution – we can know that bacteria colonies and insects will evolve immunity to our attempts to poison them… What does that mean?

Comment #54726

Posted by conspiracy theorist on November 1, 2005 11:52 PM (e)

A 16 digit Visa number has 54 bits of information, not 500 bits, but it is still CSI.

Sal, I’m at a loss here for why a Visa number is CSI. Where is the physical information in a Visa number? What is “phyiscal information”, and how does it differ from “conceptual information”? When we write a Visa number down does that make it physical? Is it conceptual only when we think about it without writing it down? If I write down the number 1, is that CSI?

How is CSI not a useless, ill-defined concept? Can you write a computer program that can distingush CSI from “ordinary” information? Why not? Is it because you want to be able to arbitrarily decide when something is or isn’t CSI?

I thought so.

Comment #54733

Posted by sanjait on November 2, 2005 3:12 AM (e)

While the conversation on this thread has been snippy, it is at least somewhat informative on how difficult it is to model evolutionary probabilities in a realistic way. While these IT concepts do have real value, I think by wallowing in them many of us miss the point that Desmski has grossly underrepresented the character and size of the search target (since evolution seeks the transiently “fit” rather than some specific “fittest” conformation), just as in his explanatory filter (besides committing the logical error of ommitting “don’t know” form the process) also in a much simpler way overestimates the specificity of the protein sequences required for function and entirely discounts the possibility of functional intermediates.

IT concepts and processes are hard to understand, which is how people like Demski are even believed to begin with, but fortuitously it is somewhat obvious that WAD’s models are fatally flawed before the calculations take place.

Comment #54734

Posted by sanjait on November 2, 2005 3:20 AM (e)

“How is CSI not a useless, ill-defined concept? Can you write a computer program that can distingush CSI from “ordinary” information? Why not? Is it because you want to be able to arbitrarily decide when something is or isn’t CSI?”

I don’t think CSI as a concept is useless, to real information theorists. But it seems Demski is using it as a surrogate for how Behe uses “purposeful”. It is real, and predictions can be made about CSI, but it is an artificial construct and not a physical property, as far as I understand it. That nevertheless doesn’t negate the fact that Demski misrepresents the nature of the search, the search space and the target space of evolutionary processes all at once.

Comment #54744

Posted by Alan Fox on November 2, 2005 4:55 AM (e)

Professor Shapiro comments in another thread

Finally, I should point out that there are two categories of Intelligent Design. In one, the designer is supernatural and uses means that cannot be described by science. That view deserves no place in the science classroom, though I have no objection to its presentation as religion. In the other category, the designer (or designers) is material and located within this universe. This idea has been presented in books by such prominent scientists as Francis Crick and Fred Hoyle. It does qualify as science, but it is speculative and unsupported by evidence. In debates with William Dembski earlier this year (they were officially called “panels”), I asked him which type of Intelligent Design he was advocating. He specifically denied the supernatural interpretation. But when I then asked him why he did not grant priority to Crick and especially to Hoyle, and endorse their ideas, he could give no good answer. I believe that this line of questioning strikes at the most vulnerable weakness in the Intelligent Design position, and should be used more frequently.

Comment #54745

Posted by Alan Fox on November 2, 2005 5:24 AM (e)

Sorry, I ommitted the link for the previous comment. Go here for source of quote in comment #54744.

Comment #54751

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on November 2, 2005 6:24 AM (e)

Salvador Cordova:

I categorically reject your false charges of misrepresentation.

If you read Dembski’s work carefully, as Wes Elsberry and I have, you will see that Dembski gives many different definitions of his main concepts. Our paper is not a critique solely of No Free Lunch, but of all of Dembski’s oeuvre up to 2002. In particular, the fundamental concept of “specified complexity” is defined in several places in Dembski’s work, and the definitions do not coincide. I see no obligation to list every single definition that Dembski provides. Not only would that be boring for readers, but it would not allow us to focus on a particular definition and analyze it for consistency.

Your main objection to our 54-page paper seems to be that we do not quote the definition of “specified complexity” as it appears in on page 141 of No Free Lunch. But note that this “definition”, which you seem to consider so crucial, does not appear in the main text, but rather in a Figure, namely, Figure 3.2 on page 141. (The terms “conceptual reduction” and “physical reduction” also appear on page 142, but are not elaborated.)

Rather, we used the formal definition given by Dembski in the main text of No Free Lunch, on page 142, which defines “complex specified information” as a pair (T,E) where T and E are both events and satisfy certain properties. This definition is summarized in our paper at the bottom of page 14 and the top of page 15. If your objection is that we omitted the fuzzy definition and relied on the formal definition, then I consider your objection without merit. It is like criticizing a paper on Kolmogorov complexity because it eschews the fuzzy definition “shortest description length” in favor of the more formal definition involving a universal Turing machine.

I now ask you to perform a thought experiment. For purposes of argument, let us assume you are correct that we should have provided the fuzzy definition you are so enamored of (which I dispute, but this is a thought experiment). Fine. Now insert this formal definition into our text at the bottom of page 14, leaving the rest of the text unchanged. Would our critique suddenly become more cogent? If so, then you have an obligation to address the rest of our argument, all 54-epsilon pages of it. You have not, and Dembski has not. In fact, no intelligent design advocate has answered our critique. Rather, intelligent designers seem to rely on airy dismissals and personal attacks.

As for your defense of VISA card numbers being CSI, a fact which Dembski claimed in 1999, but has not repeated since, I think you need to read page 142 of No Free Lunch. There you will find that the term CSI is defined to apply only in the case of low probability events, a threshhold that VISA card numbers do not meet. Otherwise (line 3 of page 142), it is only “specified information” and not “complex specified information”. I do not blame you for being confused, since as we point out Dembski has given several inconsistent definitions of the terms “specified complexity” and “complex specified information”, so it is not always easy to tell what he is trying to say. Indeed, that was precisely our point.

A more recent objection of yours is our use of “functions” generating CSI. You object that “CSI deals with physical artifacts, not just abstract mathematical entities such as mathematical functions,” and imply that this represents some deficiency in our argument. I would like to ask you to peruse the argument on pages 152-154 of No Free Lunch, where Dembsi “proves” the “Law of Conservation of Information”. (Of course, the “proof” is not a proof at all, as we have pointed out in our text in detail.) There you will see that Dembski is quite comfortable with examining the possibility of using functions to generate CSI – precisely the thing the horrible transgression you accuse us of. I’d suggest you take it up with Dr. Dembski. I’m sure he will treat your objection with the same courtesy he has shown to me.

Your objection to our TSPGRID example is similarly nonsensical. Yes, we examine the input and output of a computer program. You object “Did they identify a valid example [sic] Physical Information in the scenario and then demonstrate the concidence with Conceptual Information? NO!”. But then exactly the same criticism applies to Dembski’s own analysis of evolutionary algorithms in Chapter 4 of No Free Lunch. Note how much space Dembski gives to Dawkins’ “weasel” example, which, like TSPGRID, is a computer program. Had Dembski used Cordovan analysis, he could have saved himself so much work! He could have just said “Did Dawkins demonstrate a valid example of physical information and its coincidence with physical information? NO!” and be done with it.

Of course, I need not point out that in any real computer program, there is “physical information” by virtue of its computations taking place on a real physical computer. So your objection is baseless.

In summary, I am glad to see that some intelligent design advocate is reading our work, but I would encourage you to devote a little more intellectual effort in digesting our critique and seeing if it has any merits.

Comment #54757

Posted by John on November 2, 2005 7:30 AM (e)

To Nick Matzke:

You can use DJVU format to achieve the small file size for the collection of scanned images. PDF indeed sucks in this respect.

Comment #54759

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 8:04 AM (e)

I don’t think CSI as a concept is useless, to real information theorists.

That’s because they have a mathematical definition for “complex”, and are able to determine exactly who “specifies” this informaiton and when.

IDers cannot.

Just ask them.

Sal, tell us who “specifies” this complex information, and when it is “specified”.

(sound of crickets chirping)

IDers just do the old “draw a bullseye around the bullet hole” thingie. (shrug)

Comment #54762

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 8:09 AM (e)

I would encourage you to devote a little more intellectual effort in digesting our critique and seeing if it has any merits.

Missing prerequisites are intellectual honesty and intellectual capacity.

Comment #54765

Posted by Flint on November 2, 2005 9:00 AM (e)

Salvador works by a much more straightforward logic:

Shallit is wrong.
Shallit said X.
Therefore X is wrong.

Dembski is right.
Dembski said X.
Therefore X is right.

Shallit’s X and Dembski’s X are identical.
Therefore, Dembski’s is ignored while Shallit’s is criticized.

Science is so much easier when you know the answers in advance.

Comment #54773

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on November 2, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

Your main objection to our 54-page paper seems to be that we do not quote the definition of “specified complexity” as it appears in on page 141 of No Free Lunch. But note that this “definition”, which you seem to consider so crucial, does not appear in the main text, but rather in a Figure, namely, Figure 3.2 on page 141.

Well, there you go. Apparently Salvador, trained on Chick tracts, just reads the pictures. If you want him to deal with the substance of your argument, you should publish it in comic book form.

Comment #54776

Posted by Shirley Knott on November 2, 2005 10:44 AM (e)

Salvador Cordoba – the man whose lips move when he looks at pictures.

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #54779

Posted by rdog29 on November 2, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

Hey guys, give poor Sal a break. He can’t be bothered with such a “pathetic” level of detail, like a consistent definition of CSI.

If Dembski doesn’t bother with such trifles, why should Sal?

Darwinists are just SOOO picky!

Comment #54781

Posted by PaulC on November 2, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

A few late responses to morbius.

(1) When I suggested that human intelligence might be a “faster” complexity-generating process than evolution, I meant “faster with respect to the same amount of processing power”. Evolution has vastly more “processing power” at its disposal than the combined intelligence of all humans who’ve ever lived, and it shows in the richness of nature. This is a vague notion but I believe it could be quantified sufficiently well to back up the previous statement.

(2) NFL treats all possible objective functions identically. But for “most” objective functions (in a strict measure theoretic sense), no amount of intelligence will give you an advantage over random probing. So Dembski’s use of NFL is inappropriate as it has no ability to distinguish between “intelligent” design and the result of an evolutionary process. I would contend that Dembski knows even less about how human’s invent things than he does about how evolution works.

(3) I don’t see why you consider it “missing the point” to observe that human’s can test ideas without building prototypes. The ability to work with virtual models provides a huge jump in efficiency. This is not conjecture. Note how much faster engineering has become since the advent of computer aided design. Actually, humans have a number of other tricks up their sleeves, such as being able to rule out entire trails as fruitless (e.g. perpetual motion machines or chemical methods of turning lead into gold). They can also change the “coordinate system” in such a way to make the objective function more amenable to hill climbing.

Example: The problem of finding a matching in graphs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matching) is one in which the obvious greedy algorithm (like hill-climbing) fails to find an optimum, but when you replace the obvious incremental step (add a matching edge) with the step of finding an augmenting path and reversing edges along it, you are back to applying hill-climbing and you will find the global optimum. I contend that virtually all optimization boils down to random probing and hill-climbing. Humans have some tricks to extend the range of these methods, but they have no magic formula that makes them more powerful than evolutionary processes, only more efficient given the same amount of processing power.

(4) The fact that humans are goal directed is certainly worth noting, but I don’t see why it’s more important than other advantages. Having a goal means you are more likely to find a design that meets that particular goal, but it doesn’t mean that you’re obviously better at generating structure. In fact, it strikes me as the reverse, that given two hypothetical “complexity-generating” black boxes, the one that is directed towards a particular goal will have a disadvantage in producing just any example of “specified complexity” (given some meaningful definition). This is speculation on my part; I just don’t see why you give goal-directedness privileged significance over other properties that might distinguish human intelligence from nature.

Comment #54797

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 2, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

It appears to be up to the one who starts a topic what he will do with obnoxious people like DaveScot. PZ Myers, I believe it was, chose to “disemvowel” posts from one or more individuals, almost certainly including DaveScot (who deserves it more than most). It was a sanction without being full censorship, whatever one thinks of it.

Also, to be fair, I’ve been on PT for most of 2005, and I think I’ve only seen two or three disemvowelings. (Maybe I’ve missed a few.) Dembski deletes that many people from his site every hour.

Plus, people are not disemvowelled at PT for ‘dissent’. They’re disemvowelled for being incorrigible, repeat-offender assholes. And they have to be really bad assholes. And I can think of at least one hardcore IDC opponent who was banished, so it ain’t political.

I suppose it’s because I’m a linguist I always thought disemvoweling was a pretty funny ‘punishment’.

But wait – when disemvoweling someone, do y’s count, or is it only a/e/i/o/u? :-)

Comment #54804

Posted by ag on November 2, 2005 2:25 PM (e)

In comment 54610 Jeffrey Shallit addressed Salvador Cordova as follows:

I would encourage you to devote a little more intellectual effort in digesting our critique and seeing if it has any merits.

Intellectual effort? Is such a term applicable to Salvador? Digesting critique? If Salvador tries to do so he’ll get a severe case of indigestion. Salvador is delusional, imagining that he is qualified to critique mathematicians like Shallit. Surely Dembski knows this as well but is evidently happy with Salvador’s unquestioning sycophancy. Shallit has shown a lot of civility having spent time on answering Salvador’s applesauce.

Comment #54810

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 2, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

If you read Dembski’s work carefully, as Wes Elsberry and I have, you will see that Dembski gives many different definitions of his main concepts.

There are many different examples of the same concept, not many different definitions.

By way of analogy there are many different kinds of real numbers: integers, whole numbers, natural numbers, odd numbers, irrational numbers, rational numbers, negative numbers, zero, positive numbers, etc. Would a mathematician say because a real number in some cases may be an irrational positive number, and then in some cases a real number may be a negative integer, that therefore the definition of real numbers is confused or inconsistent? Of course not.

You and Wesley Elsberry have essentially made a comparable attempt to refute CSI by citing different examples of CSI and simply because they are different, suggest that somehow the definition is confused or inconsistent. The definition of CSI is:

Complex Specified Information :

The coincidence of conceptual and physical information where the conceptual information is both identifiable independently of the physical information and also complex.

Yet you complained:

But note that this “definition”, which you seem to consider so crucial, does not appear in the main text, but rather in a Figure, namely, Figure 3.2 on page 141. (The terms “conceptual reduction” and “physical reduction” also appear on page 142, but are not elaborated.)

They are sufficiently elaborated for someone willing to give Dembski a charitable reading. Most of your readers don’t have Dembski’s books, and thus they’ll just take your word for it. However I do have his books, and have read them and find your rendering of his literature highly unfair and uncharitable. Figure 3.2 is consistent with what was described on page 142.

You may complain that you thought his ideas were not clear, but that is not the same as saying they are wrong. If you were uncertain of what he meant, you could ask. But reading through his literature, it should be apparent the definition I pointed to is the one that defines CSI and one which shows there is reasonable consistency in what Dembski is describing.

An arbitrary bit string is not CSI unless it is the coincidence of physical information from a physical artifact and conceptual information. A VISA card number evidences CSI for the very reason the conceptual number itself of a VISA card number has a conincidence with the physical infrastructure that processes credit card transactions. Similar reasoning with phone numbers.

In some context Algorithmically compressible patterns evidence CSI and sometimes not, it depends of the physical artifact in question, not the string in and of itself. What is imporatant is the conformity of a physical artifact to a conceptual blueprint and the improbability of the physical artifact based on the space and probability of possible outcomes.

Further, the 500 bit requirement is a sufficient measure of complexity, but not a necessary one.

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

Of course, I need not point out that in any real computer program, there is “physical information” by virtue of its computations taking place on a real physical computer. So your objection is baseless.

Yes and the physical information in that computer in the forme of software is rooted in the action of an intelligence, so a suggestion that computer creates the large scale physical information (CSI) without human intelligence is even more baseless. The fact that the form of the outputs of TSPGRID is algorithmically compressible is because a human coded the algorithms that made algorithmically compressible data.

Since you referred to the ordered pair of T,E, what were your T’s and E’s in your TSPGRID example? You supplied none of that, and had you done so, it would have shown the fallacy of you supposed counter example.

Comment #54813

Posted by Matt Brauer on November 2, 2005 3:17 PM (e)

Salvador, would you mind clearing up for me why TRACT and DELIM were crucial parts of Dembski’s theory in TDI but not in NFL?

(“I don’t know” would be a perfectly acceptable answer, BTW.)

Comment #54821

Posted by Matt Brauer on November 2, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

More questions for Salvador:

On 14 Jan 2004 you wrote in a thread on Brainstorms about Complex Specified Information:

Cordova wrote:

I have been, for an ID advocate, somewhat critical of his definitions, so much so Wesley Elsberry started a brief correspondence with me pertaining to SAI (Specified Anti Information).

My questions:

1. What makes you critical of Dembski’s definitions?
2. What in particular do you find objectionable to the definitions?
3. If you’re no longer critical, what changed your mind?

Next, on 25 Aug 2005 on ARN you wrote:

With 10 bits of CSI possibly in evidence, an observer is reluctant to make a strong design inference unless one is in contact with the designer, but with 500 bits an observer can be more confident.

Could you tell me how many bits are needed to make an inference of design absent being “in contact with the designer”? And what precisely is the role that “contact with the designer” plays in ID theory?

Respectfully,
Matt

Comment #54822

Posted by jeffw on November 2, 2005 3:58 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova wrote:

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

wrote:
Of course, I need not point out that in any real computer program, there is “physical information” by virtue of its computations taking place on a real physical computer. So your objection is baseless.

Yes and the physical information in that computer in the forme of software is rooted in the action of an intelligence, so a suggestion that computer creates the large scale physical information (CSI) without human intelligence is even more baseless. The fact that the form of the outputs of TSPGRID is algorithmically compressible is because a human coded the algorithms that made algorithmically compressible data.

I’ve heard this argument in many times before from ID’ers, and it shows just how unimaginative and dense they can be. Have you never heard of the concept of emergent phenomena? Can an “intelligence” (whatever your enlightened definition of that word is) predict the outcome of everything they create? Of course not. Conway’s life similator is simple, but adequate example. Just a few a simple rules, and many complex patterns emerge that a “designer” could never anticipate, and therefore, he didn’t design them.

Comment #54828

Posted by Donald M on November 2, 2005 4:41 PM (e)

Lenny Flank writes:

That’s because they have a mathematical definition for “complex”, and are able to determine exactly who “specifies” this informaiton and when.

IDers cannot.

Just ask them.

Sal, tell us who “specifies” this complex information, and when it is “specified”.

(sound of crickets chirping)

IDers just do the old “draw a bullseye around the bullet hole” thingie.

If you had actually read TDI or NFL or Dembski’s paper Specification: the Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, then he would know how utterly misguided his question to Sal about “who specifies” really is. Specification is a what not a who. But since you’ve not read anything by Dembski, you wouldn’t know that. Nor do I suspect you will read any of it, because you’re not the least bit interested in finding out what he actually said, but only in the continual misrepresentation (read: straw man version) of it.

Comment #54830

Posted by Donald M on November 2, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

I can’t help but notice the irony on this thread of how obessed everyone seems to be with every detail of Dembski’s supposed “obessions” with a couple of his critics.

Comment #54831

Posted by James Taylor on November 2, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Um, what is the difference between ‘what’ and ‘who’? A who is a what.

Comment #54832

Posted by roger tang on November 2, 2005 4:55 PM (e)

If you had actually read TDI or NFL or Dembski’s paper Specification: the Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, then he would know how utterly misguided his question to Sal about “who specifies” really is. Specification is a what not a who. But since you’ve not read anything by Dembski, you wouldn’t know that. Nor do I suspect you will read any of it, because you’re not the least bit interested in finding out what he actually said, but only in the continual misrepresentation (read: straw man version) of it.

Sorry, but you’ve clearly have not read Lenny’s work in detail. Both “who” and “what” are important, as they apply to “how.” That pertains to mechanics, which is what science deals with.

And it’s clear that you have not touched any of his main questions about Dembski’s work.

If you want to be taken seriously, DON’T ATTACK THE ATTACKERS. That just means the stuff you want to defend doesn’t speak for itself. And if it doesn’t speak for itself, then it’s useless for science.

If Dembski’s works is so great, THEN USE IT TO MAKE USEFUL PREDICTIONS.

Comment #54834

Posted by Donald M on November 2, 2005 5:12 PM (e)

ag writes:

Either Donald M did not read Dembski’s so-called “replies” to his critics, or, if he did, he deliberately misinforms PT readers. Dembski’s “replies” are full of insults of his critics and usually avoid answering the substance of their critique. Moreover, there is a whole list of critics to whom he has never responded at all, except for sometimes posting some supercilious dismissive comments consisting of a few sentences aimed at denigrating his opponents, but not touching on the substance. For example, such a list can be seen here…….Donald M apparently does not realize that most of PT visitors have sufficient knowledge of the matter to see through his attempts at presenting Dembski’s behavior in a positive light. Your spin, Donald, may work on Dembski’s sites, where half-truth and/or direct lies may be welcome as long as they favor Dembski, but not here.

Hogwash. The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever! for the simple reason that it ‘just can’t be the case that life (or any other feature of the cosmos for that matter) is actually designed. Therefore, there just can’t be any evidence for that, and if anything even remotely looks like evidence of actual design, well, we know (wink wink) that it really wasn’t.’

Perhaps one of the design deniers can tell me how they know scientifically that the apparent design we observe throughout biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.
Or, how do you know scientifically that the cosmos, and everything in it, is a closed system of natural cause and effect, and that even if some putative supernatural entity did exist, such entity could not, even in principle, take any actions or effect any events that would have empirically detectable consequences anywhere in nature? What scientific research studies were conducted to confirm these conclusions? Who did them? Where and under what conditions? In what peer reviewed scientific journals were these studies reported so that I may read them? How might these studies be falsified?

Is there a way to determine scientifcally that intelligent causes are not operative in nature even in principle?

Of course, if there are no scientific reasons to believe that intelligent causes or actual design are not operative in nature, then that must leave us with only philosophical ones. For some reason, though, everyone gets their knickers in a twist whenever the philosophical presuppositions of science are brought up. I can’t imagine why.

It’s to avoid dealing with these sorts of questions that Dembski’s critics get all “obssesed”…just like they’re doing on this thread.

Comment #54835

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 2, 2005 5:13 PM (e)

If you want to be taken seriously, DON’T ATTACK THE ATTACKERS. That just means the stuff you want to defend doesn’t speak for itself.

Yes, but that is what people do in politics. And IDC is (as we’ve long since figured out) far closer to politics than to science.

Plus, it’s all IDC has, aside from dissembling and telling scientists they’re going to hell.

Comment #54836

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 2, 2005 5:26 PM (e)

Is there a way to determine scientifcally that intelligent causes are not operative in nature even in principle?
If there is not, which seems to be your contention, then can you tell us how, in principle, one would use the scientific method to test the hypothesis that “intelligent causes are operative in nature?”

Comment #54837

Posted by PaulC on November 2, 2005 5:36 PM (e)

I’m repeating myself (sort of) but I think this point is rarely brought up and deserves some emphasis.

What, precisely, is it that Dembski et al. believe that intelligent agents can do other than combining random or exhaustive trial and error with some form of iterative refinement? I offered a few ideas above, such as ruling out possibilities analytically, transforming coordinate systems, and manipulating virtual models. If you have a lot more time and processing power, though, it’s not obvious that you need any of these shortcuts, and evolution is a process rich in time and processing power.

In short, the ID program purports to be developing a rigorous method of distinguishing between the product of intelligence and the product of evolution. But as far as I know, this group has never presented any theory of what intelligence entails. So how on earth do they ever hope to show how it is different from some other process?

Comment #54838

Posted by argy on November 2, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

Donald M,

I can’t imagine how someone would falsify the existence of a supernatural tinkerer. I agree, it’s completely untestable. How would you prove that said tinkerer did not create this post posing as myself?

I suppose that every paper published in the scientific literature should have at the end of its conclusions “or Goddidit.”

Thank you for demonstrating that ID is not science.

Comment #54843

Posted by jeffw on November 2, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Perhaps one of the design deniers can tell me how they know scientifically that the apparent design we observe throughout biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.

“Apparent” design? Apparent to you, perhaps. Looks evolved to me. But I think what you’re looking for is something called The Theory of Evolution. It’s got all kinds of fossil, genetic, and evo-devo evidence accumulated over the last 150 years or so. You might want to check it out.

Or, how do you know scientifically that the cosmos, and everything in it, is a closed system of natural cause and effect, and that even if some putative supernatural entity did exist, such entity could not, even in principle, take any actions or effect any events that would have empirically detectable consequences anywhere in nature?

How do I know that someone didn’t steal all my furniture last night and replace it with exact replicas? Prove that it didn’t happen.

Comment #54844

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 2, 2005 6:17 PM (e)

What, precisely, is it that Dembski et al. believe that intelligent agents can do other than combining random or exhaustive trial and error with some form of iterative refinement?

Well, let’s see…
You’ve got your plagues of locusts, your raising the dead, the occasional burning bush. Then there’s run-of-the-mill stuff like turning water into wine, loaves and fishes…
Gee, Paul, all kinds of stuff!

Comment #54845

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on November 2, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

Salvador wrote:

You may complain that you thought his ideas were not clear, but that is not the same as saying they are wrong.

You are correct, these are not the same thing. So I will say quite clearly: Dembski does not express his ideas clearly, his ideas are wrong, and, perhaps more importantly, they are useless.

Is that clear enough for you?

Comment #54846

Posted by Alan Fox on November 2, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

Donald M asserts

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever!

Until Dembski makes such a response, your assertion will remain baseless.

The point you seem to be failing to grasp, Donald, is that ID, as it is being touted as an alternative scientific theory to evolution, should at least have some testable hypothesis. Until that happens, ID must remain a philosophy with no place in school science curricula. To get ID accepted as science, someone will have to, er, do some science.

Neither I or you are scientists and are obliged to make judgements as best we can about ID and its proponents. Dembski has demonstrated himself dishonest in so many ways, for example his ability to ignore criticism while denigrating those who criticise him (the gratuitous abuse of Professor Mark Perakh on Dembski’s blogsite was a particularly distasteful episode), that for me is enough to destroy his credibility.

You can prove the evil Darwinists wrong by producing the science. Dembski can’t do it. Behe can’t do it. Is anyone else in the ID camp coming close to a workable hypothesis? Until then, you’ll have to put up with us thinking ID is a political movement with the intention of advancing the cause of creationist fundamentalism.

Comment #54848

Posted by ag on November 2, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

Donald M. (comment 54834) has responded to something I did not even mention -whether or not the general conjecture of ID could be disproved. I think it can’t, agreeing on that with Donald M, but this, being in tune with the assertion of ID’s being unfalsifiable and hence unscientific, has nothing to do with my point. In my comment I stated that Dembski usually avoids answering specific critical remarks revealing weaknesses and errors in his methods of identifying design. Unlike the general unfalsifiable conjecture of ID, these specific claims can be refuted and have been refuted by a number of critics, but Dembski almost never replies to the substance of most of these refutations, often indulging instead in denigrating his opponents. Donald seems to have taken lessons from Dembski as his comment (a) changes the subject and (b) resorts to rudeness (referring to my comment as to “hogwash”), which are two common devices used when one has no good counter-arguments but craves to vent anger.

Comment #54849

Posted by Steve S on November 2, 2005 6:46 PM (e)

Specification is a what not a who. But since you’ve not read anything by Dembski, you wouldn’t know that. Nor do I suspect you will read any of it, because you’re not the least bit interested in finding out what he actually said, but only in the continual misrepresentation (read: straw man version) of it.

If CSI was an important result in Information Theory, I would expect at least a few hundred citations of it in the Information Theory literature over the last 14 years.

How many are there?

Comment #54852

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

There are many different examples of the same concept, not many different definitions.

Says you. (shrug)

Would you mind answering my simple questions, Sal?

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

5. Why are you undermining your own side by proclaiming here that ID is all about defeating “atheism” and “anti-religion”, while your side is desperately trying to argue in court that ID has nothing at all whatsoever to do with religion or religious apologetics? Are your fellow IDers just lying under oath when they testify to that, Sal?

Comment #54853

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

If you had actually read TDI or NFL or Dembski’s paper Specification: the Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, then he would know how utterly misguided his question to Sal about “who specifies” really is. Specification is a what not a who. But since you’ve not read anything by Dembski, you wouldn’t know that. Nor do I suspect you will read any of it, because you’re not the least bit interested in finding out what he actually said, but only in the continual misrepresentation (read: straw man version) of it.

I’ve read it. It’s crap.

Now answer my question. Who specifies this information? When?

Comment #54854

Posted by RBH on November 2, 2005 7:03 PM (e)

Norman asked

How much of an illusion? I’m not sure. To some extent we can predict the direction of “directionless” evolution — we can know that bacteria colonies and insects will evolve immunity to our attempts to poison them… What does that mean?

Evolution is not “directionless”; the dynamics of an evolving population in a varied/varying environment are governed (in part) by the local topography of the landscape(s) on which it resides. It means that we know something about the selective landscape and about the variational capabilities of the populations on them. However, any “directionality” is outside the ken of the population itself – the population does not have a model of the topography of the larger landscape. By knowing both, we (outside observers) can see a directionality, but like an inhabitant of flatland, the population itself does not.

RBH

Comment #54855

Posted by Steve S on November 2, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever!

aren’t you forgetting something? What about experiments? Scientists do experiments. Theories lead to and are supported by experiments. Why didn’t it occur to you that Dembski might do some experiments?

And in the 20 year history of Intelligent Design “theory”, why haven’t they done any?

Comment #54856

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

Sorry, but you’ve clearly have not read Lenny’s work in detail. Both “who” and “what” are important, as they apply to “how.” That pertains to mechanics, which is what science deals with.

Right. I want to know how this “design” is implemented. When, exactly, is it “specified”. How, exactly, does this “specified information” get implemented itno an actual “designed object”.

Or, as I so often put it on other occasions, what does the designer do, specifically? What mechanisms does it use to do whatever the heck you think it did? Where can we see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well . . anything?

IDers, of course (including Donald) flee these questions in stark terror. They know, just as well as I do, that “Goddidit!” is the only answer they have – and they know, just as well as I do, that saying so would expose their entire dishonest evasive scam for what it is.

Eight, Donald?

If you disagree, then please please pretty please with sugar on it, by all means, go ahead and answer my questions. With something other than “godditi!” or “I don’t have to tell you”.

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought.

IDers are liars. Every single one of them.

Comment #54857

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:07 PM (e)

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever!

We’ll never know, will we. (shrug)

Comment #54858

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:09 PM (e)

Perhaps one of the design deniers can tell me how they know scientifically that the apparent design we observe throughout biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.

Because there is no evidence for it.

Got any?

Perhaps YOU can tell me how you know scientifically that there is not a fleet of invisible elves in orbit around Pluto right now, even in principle.

IDers are the ones making the assertion. It’s up to IDers to either put up or shut up. (shrug)

Comment #54859

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

Of course, if there are no scientific reasons to believe that intelligent causes or actual design are not operative in nature, then that must leave us with only philosophical ones. For some reason, though, everyone gets their knickers in a twist whenever the philosophical presuppositions of science are brought up. I can’t imagine why.

*I* can — because it’s baloney.

Here, Donald, is my standard response to every fruitball who wants to whine to me that “sciecne unfairly rules out the supernatural on philsophical grounds”. let’s see if YOU can give any better response to it than any *other* IDer has:

The scientific method is very simple, and consists of five basic steps. They are:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe

2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed

3. Make testible predictions from that hypothesis

4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions

5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

NOTHING in any of those five steps excludes on principle, a priori, any “supernatural cause”. Using this method, one is entirely free to invoke as many non-material pixies, ghosts, goddesses, demons, devils, djinis, and/or the Great Pumpkin, as many times as you like, in any or all of your hypotheses. And science won’t (and doesn’t) object to that in the slightest. Indeed, scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such “supernatural causes” as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such “non-materialistic” or “non-natural” causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and “remote viewing”. So ID’s claim that science unfairly rejects supernatural or non-material causes out of hand on principle, is demonstrably quite wrong.

However, what science DOES require is that any supernatural or non-material hypothesis, whatever it might be, then be subjected to steps 3, 4 and 5. And HERE is where ID fails miserably.

To demonstate this, let’s pick a particular example of an ID hypothesis and see how the scientific method can be applied to it: One claim made by many ID creationists explains the genetic similarity between humans and chimps by asserting that God — uh, I mean, An Unknown Intelligent Designer — created both but used common features in a common design.

Let’s take this hypothesis and put it through the scientific method:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

OK, so we observe that humans and chimps share unique genetic markers, including a broken vitamin C gene and, in humans, a fused chromosome that is identical to two of the chimp chromosomes (with all the appropriate doubled centromeres and telomeres).

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

OK, the proposed ID hypothesis is “an intelligent designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, and that common design included placing the signs of a fused chromosome and a broken vitamin C gene in both products.”

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

Well, here is ID supernaturalistic methodology’s chance to shine. What predictions can we make from ID’s hypothesis? If an Intelligent Designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, then we would also expect to see … ?

IDers, please fill in the blank.

And, to better help us test ID’s hypothesis, it is most useful to point out some negative predictions — things which, if found, would FALSIFY the hypothesis and demonstrate conclusively that the hypothesis is wrong. So, then — if we find (fill in the blank here), then the “common design” hypothesis would have to be rejected.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

Well, the IDers seem to be sort of stuck on step 3. Despite all their voluminous writings and arguments, IDers have never yet given ANY testible predictions from their ID hypothesis that can be verified through experiment.

Take note here — contrary to the IDers whining about the “unfair exclusion of supernatural causes”, there are in fact NO limits imposed by the scientific method on the nature of their predictions, other than the simple ones indicated by steps 3, 4 and 5 (whatever predictions they make must be testible by experiments or further observations.) They are entirely free to invoke whatever supernatural causes they like, in whatever number they like, so long as they follow along to steps 3,4 and 5 and tell us how we can test these deities or causes using experiment or further observation. Want to tell us that the Good Witch Glenda used her magic non-naturalistic staff to POP these genetic sequences into both chimps and humans? Fine —- just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test that. Want to tell us that God — er, I mean The Unknown Intelligent Designer — didn’t like humans very much and therefore decided to design us with broken vitamin C genes? Hey, works for me — just as soon as you tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test it. Feel entirely and totally free to use all the supernaturalistic causes that you like. Just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test your predictions.

Let’s assume for a moment that the IDers are right and that science is unfairly biased against supernaturalist explanations. Let’s therefore hypothetically throw methodological materialism right out the window. Gone. Bye-bye. Everything’s fair game now. Ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, cosmic enlightenment, elves, pixies, magic star goats, whatever god-thing you like. Feel free to include and invoke ALL of them. As many as you need. All the IDers have to do now is simply show us all how to apply the scientific method to whatever non-naturalistic science they choose to invoke in order to subject the hypothesis “genetic similarities between chimps and humans are the product of a common design”, or indeed ANY other non-material or super-natural ID hypothesis, to the scientific method.

And that is where ID “theory” falls flat on its face. It is NOT any presupposition of “philosophical naturalism” on the part of science that stops ID dead in its tracks —- it is the simple inability of ID “theory” to make any testible predictions. Even if we let them invoke all the non-naturalistic designers they want, intelligent design “theory” STILL can’t follow the scientific method.

Deep down inside, what the IDers are really moaning and complaining about is NOT that science unfairly rejects their supernaturalistic explanations, but that science demands ID’s proposed “supernaturalistic explanations” be tested according to the scientific method, just like every OTHER hypothesis has to be. Not only can ID not test any of its “explanations”, but it wants to modify science so it doesn’t HAVE to. In effect, the IDers want their supernaturalistic “hypothesis” to have a privileged position —- they want their hypothesis to be accepted by science WITHOUT being tested; they want to follow steps one and two of the scientific method, but prefer that we just skip steps 3,4 and 5, and just simply take their religious word for it, on the authority of their own say-so, that their “science” is correct. And that is what their entire argument over “materialism” (or “naturalism” or “atheism” or “sciencism” or “darwinism” or whatever the heck else they want to call it) boils down to.

There is no legitimate reason for the ID hypothesis to be privileged and have the special right to be exempted from testing, that other hypotheses do not. I see no reason why their hypotheses, whatever they are, should not be subjected to the very same testing process that everyone ELSE’s hypotheses, whatever they are, have to go through. If they cannot put their “hypothesis” through the same scientific method that everyone ELSE has to, then they have no claim to be “science”. Period.

Well, Donald, can ID make any statements or predictions that can be tested using the scientific method?

Why not?

Comment #54862

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Donald seems to have taken lessons from Dembski as his comment (a) changes the subject and (b) resorts to rudeness (referring to my comment as to “hogwash”), which are two common devices used when one has no good counter-arguments but craves to vent anger.

I’ve cyber-known Donald for years now. He’s been doing the same thing since before anyone ever even heard of the, uh, Isaac Newton of Information Theory.

I’ve never, ever, in all those years, ever seen Donald give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question. Not even once. (shrug)

Comment #54863

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

When I suggested that human intelligence might be a “faster” complexity-generating process than evolution, I meant “faster with respect to the same amount of processing power”. Evolution has vastly more “processing power” at its disposal than the combined intelligence of all humans who’ve ever lived, and it shows in the richness of nature. This is a vague notion but I believe it could be quantified sufficiently well to back up the previous statement.

Your explanation for why humans might be faster despite less processing power was that they don’t bother to build prototypes. As I said, I think this profoundly misses what’s relevant. And the subject wasn’t “complexity-generating process”, it was “invention”. The most relevant difference between these is, of course, teleology – invention is aimed at a specific result, whereas increased complexity is an epiphenomenon of the passage of time – more complex organisms must come later in the process because the stepwise path to them is longer.

Comment #54865

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 7:48 PM (e)

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever!

Just as no amount of responses from someone claiming that 1+1=3 will satisfy critics ever. Oh, wait, there is one satisfactory response: “I’m wrong.”

Perhaps one of the design deniers can tell me how they know scientifically that the apparent design we observe throughout biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle.

It’s the wrong question, because the burden is, as always, on the party who makes the claim – of design, in this case, and of the distinction between “apparent” and “actual” – the latter being a strictly metaphysical concept. OTOH, scientists have said, over and over, that science does not disprove God. Since you know that, you’re clearly morally bankrupt.

Is there a way to determine scientifcally that intelligent causes are not operative in nature even in principle?

No, but science operates on a methodological principle (which, with proper statement, is also a theorem of information theory) known as Occam’s Razor. Scientists use Occam’s Razor because, unlike you folks, we want to be effective. That is the underlying philosophy of science.

Comment #54867

Posted by PaulC on November 2, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

And the subject wasn’t “complexity-generating process”, it was “invention”.

My subject has consistently been why the No Free Lunch theorems of Wolpert and Macready are irrelevant to the question of intelligent design. I apologize if I appeared to be discussing anything else. My contention (and I admit I have not offered a rigorous argument) is simply that the framework of NFL has no way of distinguishing between human intelligence and evolutionary processes. It applies about as well to either. It may allow you to distinguish between an omniscient designer and a mere human or evolutionary process, but nobody has found an example in nature that looks like the product of omniscience. An outboard motor is surely no such thing. Even a mere human is capable of coming up with that design.

As I said, I think this profoundly misses what’s relevant.

My only contention is that NFL is not a useful tool in this context, and this is where my comment was relevant (if not profoundly so). I was merely conceding ways in which intelligence might differ from evolutionary processes, but expressing my puzzlement over why anyone thinks NFL is relevant to these differences.

more complex organisms must come later in the process because the stepwise path to them is longer.

I agree that at least some simpler organisms are necessary intermediates and that’s why the complex ones come later.

You need to be careful because a more complex organism could also be an intermediate on the path to a simpler organism. However assuming there is initially nothing that could be called an “organism” and assuming some way of quantifying complexity, the existence of an organism of a certain complexity implies the existence of a previous organism of lesser complexity (within the range of incremental jumps that can be explained by random mutations).

It think this is also true for human invention although humans can lift a design wholesale from one place and put in somewhere new in way that evolution doesn’t do quite as fast.

This is all very well and may speak to some observation about teleology, but it’s not particularly relevant to my point that NFL, while a useful negative result in study of genetic algorithms, is just not of great interest in any debate about ID. If you recall, my statement was that “NFL refutes diddly.” I still think that in the context of Dembski’s work, this assessment is accurate.

Comment #54868

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

This is speculation on my part; I just don’t see why you give goal-directedness privileged significance over other properties that might distinguish human intelligence from nature.

Uh, I give goal-directedness privileged significance in regard to the achievement of a specified goal. I was never discussing a mere list of distinctions between human intelligence and nature. You write “Having a goal means you are more likely to find a design that meets that particular goal, but it doesn’t mean that you’re obviously better at generating structure” – exactly so on the first part, but who ever claimed the latter? And why should anyone care about what is better at “generating structure” per se? I for one get paid to invent software, but not to make it complex. In fact, the less complex and the less structure involved, generally the better the job I’ve done. But it’s absolutely critical that my software achieves what it’s supposed to – I establish detailed requirements from the client before and during the process – the products of nature, OTOH, have no requirements.

Comment #54869

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

I apologize if I appeared to be discussing anything else.

Well, it’s simply a fact that we have been discussing more than one thing, especially since I conceded that my claims about NFL were wrong. Andyway, we seem to have reached a point of diminishing returns. Thanks for your comments.

Comment #54870

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

I will repeat my very short and sweet argument why Dembski’s “filter” is all BS;

Stripped of all its mathematical gloss, Dembski’s “filter” boils down to:

“Ff not law, if not chance, then design”

I.e., “if we can’t explain it, it must be design”.

For YEARS now, I have been asking IDers a simple question —– how, exactly, does one rule out not only all currently existing possible explanations that invoke either chance or natural conditions, but *all possible future explanations that have not even been thought of yet*?

Never got any intelligible answer.

Which leads to: If the first step of Dembski’s filter is “determine if the thing can be explained by a natural law”, and if IDers CANNOT rule out all possible explanations from natural law that have not been thought of yet, then, uh, how can we ever get past the very first step of Dembski’s filter?

If Dembski means, in the first step, determing if there is a CURRENT explanation for a thing, then all we have is “god of the gaps” – “we can’t explain it now, therefore goddidit”.

On the other hand, if Demsbki means, in the first step, determining yhat there is NO POSSIBLE explanation for a thing, then I will once again ask, how do we rule out EVERY POSSIBLE explanation, including all the ones that have not been thought of yet?�?

Dembski, it seems, simply wants to assume his conclusion. His “filter”, it seems, is nothing more than “god of the gaps”, written with nice fancy impressive-looking mathematical forumulas.

That suspicion is strengthened by the simple observation that if we reverse the steps of Dembski’s “filter”, from “(1) rule out law, (2) rule out chance, (3) therefore design” to any other sequence – say, “(1) rule out design, (2) rule out chance, (3) therefore law” – then we get results that Dembski, uh, doesn’t like very much.

The simple fact is that Dembski has NO IDEA AT ALL how to tell if a thing is designed or not. So he wants to dump the burden onto others – since he CAN’T demonstrate that any thing was designed, he wants to relieve himself of that responsibility, by simply declaring, with suitably impressive mathematics, that the rest of us should just assume that something is designed unless someone can show otherwise.

Odd, isn’t it, that Dembski’s much-vaunted “filter” depends upon the **one sequence, out of all the possible ones**, that relieves “design theory” of ANY need to either propose anything, test anything, or demonstrate anything?

I suspect that isn’t a coincidence.

Comment #54871

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

That suspicion is strengthened by the simple observation that if we reverse the steps of Dembski’s “filter”, from “(1) rule out law, (2) rule out chance, (3) therefore design” to any other sequence — say, “(1) rule out design, (2) rule out chance, (3) therefore law” — then we get results that Dembski, uh, doesn’t like very much.

By the way, I’ve also been asking IDers for YEARS now to explain to me why the first sequence of steps in the “filter” is any more valid than any of the other sequences.

No intelligible answer to that one, either.

Comment #54873

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

even if some putative supernatural entity did exist, such entity could not, even in principle, take any actions or effect any events that would have empirically detectable consequences anywhere in nature?

All you have to do is show us, Donald. (shrug)

But hey, what’s this “supernatural entity” you want to drag into this, Donald? I thought ID had nothing to do with religion? I thought the designer could be nothing but a space alien?

Or are IDers (and you) just lying to us about that?

Comment #54874

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 8:34 PM (e)

In short, the ID program purports to be developing a rigorous method of distinguishing between the product of intelligence and the product of evolution. But as far as I know, this group has never presented any theory of what intelligence entails. So how on earth do they ever hope to show how it is different from some other process?

Dembski’s argument is probabilistic, so entailment isn’t really relevant – he doesn’t argue that the results could not have come about naturally. Of course, in essence his arguments boil down to mere incredulity, since no rigorous method for quantifying probabilities is presented, and when attempts are made to be rigorous, as in Behe’s paper, the actual numbers go the other way.

Comment #54875

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

To be precise, I should have said “he doesn’t argue that the results could not have come about without intelligence”. What many people (like Behe) fail to appreciate is that the probability of an particular outcome occurring is a function of the number of opportunities for it to occur – which brings us to PaulC’s point about “ evolution is a process rich in time and processing power”. IDists seem to only look at the numerator, and never the denominator. When you look at both, there’s nothing at all implausible about evolution; in fact, if intelligence (teleology) was involved, we might wonder why it took so long.

Comment #54876

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

Dembski’s argument is probabilistic, so entailment isn’t really relevant — he doesn’t argue that the results could not have come about naturally.

That *is*, of course, exactly the argument behind Behe’s “IC” BS. I don’t recall Dembski ever speaking a word of dissent about IC.

Comment #54879

Posted by Mona on November 2, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield asks: But wait — when disemvoweling someone, do y’s count,

Sometimes, y. ;)

Comment #54880

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 9:08 PM (e)

Oops – good (er, excellent) point, Lenny. So going back to PaulC’s question, I guess what they think that an intelligent agent can do is to use its noodly appendages to arrange molecules just so, bypassing interative refinement.

Comment #54954

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

Your main objection to our 54-page paper seems to be that we do not quote the definition of “specified complexity” as it appears in on page 141 of No Free Lunch. But note that this “definition”, which you seem to consider so crucial, does not appear in the main text, but rather in a Figure, namely, Figure 3.2 on page 141.

Really? Let the reader take a glimpse of what the pages in question look like. It is clear that Dembski is offereing a definition. Exhibit 1 (scanned image):

CSI Definition Page 141

Jeffery Wrote:

(The terms “conceptual reduction” and “physical reduction” also appear on page 142, but are not elaborated.)

That is an equally flimsy claim. See for example:
Exhibit 2 (scanned image):

Physical Information and Conceptual Information Defined Page 139

Did Wesley Elsberry or Jeffrey Shallit use these obviously imporant phrases even once in their “refutation”:

1. “physical information”
2. “conceptual information”
3. “coincidence of”

NO!

Notice Page 141 shows that T corresponds to Conceptual Information and E to Physical Information. Shallit and Elsberry did point out what T and E really signified, therefore they did not use or provide Dembksi definition. Let’s see how they absolutely mangled the meaning of CSI on page page 14 and 15 of their paper:

Elsberry and Shallit wrote:

CSI is used inconsistently in Dembski’s own work. Sometimes CSI is a quantity that one can measure in bits: the CSI of a fagellum far exceeds 500 bits” [17, p.178]. Other times, CSI is treated as a threshold phenomenon: something either “exhibits” CSI or doesn’t: The Law of Conservation of Information says that if X exhibits CSI, then so does Y” [19, p. 163]. Sometimes numbers or bit strings “constitute” CSI [17, p. 159]; other times CSI refers to a pair (T;E) where E is an observed event and T is a pattern to which E
A recent paper by creationist Stephen C. Meyer [67] states Systems that are characterized by both specifcity and complexity (what information theorists
call “specified complexity”) have “information content”.

The second author was curious about the plural use of “information theorists” and at a recent conference asked Meyer, what information theorists use the term
“specifed complexity”? He then admitted that he knew no one but Dembski.

conforms [19, p. 141]. Sometimes CSI refers to specifed events of probability 10^-150; other times it can be contained in the sixteen-digit number on your VISA card” or even your phone number” [17, p. 159]. Sometimes CSI is treated as if, like Kolmogorov complexity, it is a property independent of the observer this is the case in a faulty mathematical proof” that functions cannot generate CSI [19, p. 153]. Other times it is made clear that
computing CSI crucially depends on the background knowledge of the observer. Sometimes CSI inheres in a string regardless of its causal history (this seems always to be the case in natural language utterances); other times the causal history is essential to judging whetheror not a string has CSI. CSI is indeed a measure with remarkably fluid properties! Like Blondlot’s N-rays, however, the existence of CSI seems clear only to its discoverer.

As I pointed out the fact various real numbers such as negative numbers (which are real numbers) and positive irrational numbers (which are also real numbers) have different characterisitcs does not mean the definition of real numbers is inconsistent or fluid. There is an analogous case with CSI if one is willing to grant a charitable reading.

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

I see no obligation to list every single definition that Dembski provides. Not only would that be boring for readers, but it would not allow us to focus on a particular definition and analyze it for consistency.

I see no obligation then for Bill Dembski to respond to your mischaracterizations of his work. Your “refutation” does not even rise to the level of a fair or accurate respresentation of Dembski’s work, much less a valid refutation.

The definition on page 139, 141 of Dembski’s book defines his terms. The definitions I point to are clearer than the muddled misrepresentations offered in your “refutuation”.

Your paper did not use these definitions nor make any attempt to frame Dembski’s examples in terms of his own definitions.

Once the examples are framed in terms of the definition I pointed to clarity ensues on many if not all points.

It becomes clear why in one context an algorithmically compressible string is CSI yet in another it is not. The differentiating consideration is the physical artifact in question. CSI involves two kinds of information, not just one:

Dembski writes:

CSI is consistent with the basic idea behind information, which is the reduction of possibilities from a reference class of possibilites. But whereas the traditional understanding of information is unary, conceiving of information as a single reduction of possibilities, complex specified information is a binary form of information. Complex specified information , and specifiend information more generally, depends on a dual reduction of possibilites, namely a conceptual reduction (i.e., conceptual information) compbined with a physical reduction (i.e., physical information ).

Salvador

Comment #54957

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on November 3, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Salvador wrote:

Exhibit 2

Ooh, legal language! Salvador years to be on the stand in Harrisburg. I do wish he could be obliged.

Comment #54960

Posted by K.E. on November 3, 2005 12:21 PM (e)

Sal says

Dembski writes:

CSI is consistent with the basic idea behind information, which is the reduction of possibilities from a reference class of possibilites. But whereas the traditional understanding of information is unary, conceiving of information as a single reduction of possibilities, complex specified information is a binary form of information. Complex specified information , and specifiend information more generally, depends on a dual reduction of possibilites, namely a conceptual reduction (i.e., conceptual information) compbined with a physical reduction (i.e., physical information ).(sic)

So CSI can be true and false at the same time, or whichever you want whenever you choose, dualistic unitaryistical, probably but not really, a radical new system that removes traditional understanding more generally. Consistently inconsistent, variably non variable. Monotonously monotonic. Dead but undead. Humorously unfunny. blah blah blah.

Sal I get the joke you can stop now.

Comment #54963

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 12:51 PM (e)

Salvador, would you mind clearing up for me why TRACT and DELIM were crucial parts of Dembski’s theory in TDI but not in NFL?

(”I don’t know” would be a perfectly acceptable answer, BTW.)

His later work, NFL, simply uses different language that DELIM.

DELIM corresponds to a condition required to define conceptual information through a specification. DELIM is implicitly used in NFL, just not by that name. In the T,E pair, the region T “delimits” potential outcomes in the space omega of possible outcomes.

For example, a blue print is a specification. It delimits how the intended object is to be designed. It does this by choosing a particular configuration (delimiting) from the space of many possible outcomes.

When you choose a computer passoword for your computer account, you are “delimiting” the password out of a space of possibilities. When the computer system has created your account with your new password, the physcial information in the computer’s records constitutes the physical information. You password in your mind is the conceptual information. The overlap of the two makes the password CSI.

Similar considerations apply to phone numbers and VISA numbers, or CSI evidenced by genetically engineered organisms.

Regarding TRACT, Dembski explains his changes on page 66 of No Free Lunch.

Salvador

Comment #54966

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 1:03 PM (e)

morbius, sorry about the delay. PT won’t let me post from my usual ISP.

You write “Having a goal means you are more likely to find a design that meets that particular goal, but it doesn’t mean that you’re obviously better at generating structure” — exactly so on the first part, but who ever claimed the latter? And why should anyone care about what is better at “generating structure” per se?

Because the driving principle of ID (as I understand) is that whenever you seen structure (at least of the “complex specified” variety), you are supposed to cry “Aha! Intelligence!” It matters not a whit whether this structure satisfies any particular a priori goal. You are allowed to define its goal post hoc.

My point was that a non-goal-directed process has if anything an advantage in designing things that get the IDers hot and bothered. A goal-directed process is constrained by having to make exactly one kind of “CSI”, not just any, and therefore is shooting at a smaller target.

BTW, of course evolutionary processes have discernable directions just as hurricanes have discernable directions. The directions may change over time, but they are real. What is lacking in both cases are notions such as intent or purpose.

Dembski’s argument is probabilistic, so entailment isn’t really relevant — he doesn’t argue that the results could not have come about naturally.

Yes, but he argues that the probability is so low as to be neglible. I would argue that whenever this is true of evolution (e.g. when the results are the solution to some intractable optimization problem) then it is also true of mere human intelligence.

As I understand, the IDers believe that human beings are capable of creating new designs. I’m not sure if they believe that any computer programs are (if not, then Dembski may perhaps believe he’s mathematically refuted strong AI as well; that would be remarkable if true and he should be able to publish seminal work in CS based on the observation). Before I could delve into details of Dembski’s work, I would need a short explanation of how he proposes to distinguish between the power of evolution and the power of mere human intelligence. NFL won’t do that. If it did, it would be a much more important result than it is with all kinds of applications to complexity theory.

Comment #54968

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on November 3, 2005 1:05 PM (e)

Salvador cordova:
When you choose a computer passoword for your computer account, you are “delimiting” the password out of a space of possibilities. When the computer system has created your account with your new password, the physcial information in the computer’s records constitutes the physical information. You password in your mind is the conceptual information. The overlap of the two makes the password CSI.

If that’s all there is to it, everything harbors CSI. If I look at a rock, that’s CSI, because the information about it is in my mind, and in the rock. In fact, even “generic rock” or “any rock” are CSI, since they exist in physical status and in my mind (and delimit rocks from anything else).

Is there anything that has no CSI?

Comment #54970

Posted by James Taylor on November 3, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Sal wrote:

For example, a blue print is a specification. It delimits how the intended object is to be designed. It does this by choosing a particular configuration (delimiting) from the space of many possible outcomes.

Blueprints are revised regularly throughout a construction project. Engineers often must change designs in the field to handle unforseen loads, to reduce cost or to fix blantant design errors. Where does ID allow for the redesign process while in the field?

Human designs are rarely perfect on the drawing board and usually require extensive testing and modification before a safe, reliable product can be produced. Humans now use computer simulations to prototype, test and redesign the original concept therefore eliminating costly physical prototypes. This follows the scientific method. What does the concept of design offer other than the arrogant conclusion that our own designs do not require refinement, testing and prototyping? The Tacoma Narrows bridge is an example of elegant design, yet it failed because of lack of sufficient testing and refinement.

Comment #54973

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

Dr. Bottaro wrote:

If I look at a rock, that’s CSI, because the information about it is in my mind, and in the rock.

No because information about the rock in your mind is a post-dictive, after the fact, connected conceptualization.

A specification for the “S” in CSI must be detachable. The information about the rocks in your head are not detachable, but after the fact (post-dictive).

Salvador

Comment #54978

Posted by Shirley Knott on November 3, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

Hey Sal,
thanks for so clearly confirming that conceptual (ie, abstract) knowlege is all CSI.
And if that’s all there is to it, why should anyone care?

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #54979

Posted by K.E. on November 3, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

Sal said

The information about the rocks in your head are not detachable, but after the fact (post-dictive).

pure metaphysical poppycock

Sal check out “the men who stare a goats” and tell me what the difference is between that and your ramblings

http://www.jonronson.com/goats_nytimes.html

Comment #54980

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on November 3, 2005 1:36 PM (e)

No because information about the rock in your mind is a post-dictive, after the fact, connected conceptualization.

A specification for the “S” in CSI must be detachable. The information about the rocks in your head are not detachable, but after the fact (post-dictive).

What if I think “pink granite, 1-inch diameter pebble” first, and then go and find one on a river bank. Is that pebble now CSI?

Comment #54991

Posted by Shirley Knott on November 3, 2005 2:27 PM (e)

Andrea,
Of course it is – it MUST be. Any application of a concept to a newly encountered instance which falls under the concept is perforce CSI.
Which renders the whole notion pointless for Dembski’s purpose – unless his purpose is to resurrect the nonsensical positions of Bishop Berkeley…

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #54992

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on November 3, 2005 2:29 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova:

You write: “There are many different examples of the same concept, not many different definitions.”

This is clearly false, as even a cursory examination of Dembski’s work will show. For example, compare the “Generic Chance Elimination Argument” on pages 184-185 of The Design Inference with the GCEA on pages 72-73 of No Free Lunch. These constitute genuinely different definitions; to name just two differences, compare the different rejection regions, and the change in the tractability conditions. It is imply a falsehood to claim that there have not been different definitions.

You write: “By way of analogy there are many different kinds of real numbers: integers, whole numbers, natural numbers, odd numbers, irrational numbers, rational numbers, negative numbers, zero, positive numbers, etc. Would a mathematician say because a real number in some cases may be an irrational positive number, and then in some cases a real number may be a negative integer, that therefore the definition of real numbers is confused or inconsistent? Of course not.”

I think there is a reading comprehension problem here. Our list on page 15-16 is not intended to address the inconsistency of Dembski’s definitions, and we never offered it to support that claim. Rather, the inconsistency of the definitions is addressed on pages 14 and ends before “Here is a brief catalogue” on page 15 of our paper. Instead, our catalogue of examples is presented to show that Dembski has presented many claimed examples of CSI without justifying these claims using his own methodology. Even a cursory reading of our paper would make this clear.

As we wrote, determining if something has CSI according to Dembski’s own definition, requires the choice of a probability space, a probability estimate, a discussion of relevant background knowledge, an independence calculation, a rejection function, and a rejection region. Our catalogue on page 15 was intended to illustrate 16 items for which Dembski has claimed CSI, but has not justified it according to his own criteria. But I am willing to revise this section, if Salvador or anyone else can point to the place where these requirements (probability space, estimate, etc.) are given for any of the 16 items.

You write: “The definition of CSI is:
Complex Specified Information :
The coincidence of conceptual and physical information where the conceptual information is both identifiable independently of the physical information and also complex.”

That is an informal definition. The formal definition is contained on page 142, in terms of the ordered pair (T,E) and that is the one we quote. If you continue to insist that fuzzy definitions are more important than formal ones, I am afraid I have no choice but to regard your objection as completely without merit, and I cannot waste my time repeatedly addressing the same meritless objection.

You write:
“Yes and the physical information in that computer in the forme of software is rooted in the action of an intelligence, so a suggestion that computer creates the large scale physical information (CSI) without human intelligence is even more baseless.”

This objection is even more absurd, and demonstrates you have not understood our argument. In our calculation we specifically include the number of bits of CSI needed to account for the program, and we show that the number of bits generated by the output exceeds this quantity by whatever amount you desire. This is true whether the algorithm is written by a human being, a flying spaghetti monster, or arises through natural selection.

You write: “The fact that the form of the outputs of TSPGRID is algorithmically compressible is because a human coded the algorithms that made algorithmically compressible data.”

Again, I believe there is a reading compehension problem. The output of TSPGRID has been set up so that it is not particularly algorithmically compressible. Indeed, that was the point.

Finally, you say “Since you referred to the ordered pair of T,E, what were your T’s and E’s in your TSPGRID example? You supplied none of that, and had you done so, it would have shown the fallacy of you supposed counter example.”

It is true that we did not specifically state what T and E were in our TSPGRID example. (Strange, however, that you do not fault Dembski, since he himself does not provide these for most of the examples he claims have CSI.) We
did assume a certain mathematical competence on the part of our readers – but your misunderstanding shows me that our assumption was incorrect. In any event, a cursory reading should make it clear what T and E
represent. Omega, the space of all events, is the set of all possible permutations on 4n^2 cities; it has cardinality (4n^2)! T is the set of all such permutations corresponding to Hamiltonian cycles on the grid, and E is the particular instance output by the program. If you wish to make it “physical”, we can insist that the input and output be given by punched cards or paper tape.

Arguments about how TSPGRID could have arisen are not germane. Our example is solely intended to address the bogus claim that evolutionary algorithms cannot generate CSI. They can, and our TSPGRID example shows how they do, using Dembski’s own “short-cut” of basing his calculations on an assumption of uniform probability.

Finally, I repeat my previous suggestion. You do not seem to be reading our paper with much care, and so far your objections are, quite frankly, silly – at the level of a not particularly bright high school student. It could well be that there are legitimate objections to our analysis, but so far you have not presented any.

Comment #55017

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 3:59 PM (e)

Matt asked:

On 14 Jan 2004 you wrote in a thread on Brainstorms about Complex Specified Information:

Cordova wrote:

I have been, for an ID advocate, somewhat critical of his definitions, so much so Wesley Elsberry started a brief correspondence with me pertaining to SAI (Specified Anti Information).

My questions:

1. What makes you critical of Dembski’s definitions?
2. What in particular do you find objectionable to the definitions?
3. If you’re no longer critical, what changed your mind?

Regarding 1 and 2:

The primary mild criticisms is the use of the word “complexity” rather than improbability. Bill of late has used the word “specified improbability” rather than specified complexity. The relationship of Specified Complexity, IC, and Kolmogorov Complexity is shown here:

Meanings of Complexity

The criticisms of Dembski have “orthogonal” usage of terms might have merit, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. Semantics.

At the time in 2004, I was focused on a particular kind of specification, namely, algorithmically compressible specifications. That’s what drew my participation into ISCID to explore those ideas. The algorithmically compressible specifications (like self-replicated polymers, coins being all heads, etc.) had some relationship to Elsberry and Shallit’s SAI concept. I was therefore a little more favorable to SAI at first.

I eventually realized how my ideas fit into Dembski’s framework and terminology. What changed my mind was when I and Bill began corresponding, and he responded to my requests for clarifications about his work. I was working in support of getting ID courses taught in colleges, and the Elsberry and Shallit Paper was significant enough I felt it had to be addressed.

Bill informed me that Shallit used to be his teacher, and that Shallit was in the acknowledgement section of Design Inference. That certainly put a twist on my perception of things!

Bill suggested I write a refutation of Elsberry and Shallit’s paper. As I began comparing the paper with what Bill actually wrote, my understanding of CSI was clarified, and realized I was too naive to trust that Bill’s critics would accurately represent his work. It didn’t occur to me when reading Elsberry and Shallit that there was any chance it was not a fair representation. It is not for the reasons I point out.

What changed my mind was re-reading Bill’s work with him personally clarifying himself in response to my questions rather than me being confused because of the 2nd hand misperceptions of what his work actually says.

Next, on 25 Aug 2005 on ARN you wrote:

With 10 bits of CSI possibly in evidence, an observer is reluctant to make a strong design inference unless one is in contact with the designer, but with 500 bits an observer can be more confident.

Could you tell me how many bits are needed to make an inference of design absent being “in contact with the designer”? And what precisely is the role that “contact with the designer” plays in ID theory?

Respectfully,
Matt

There is no absolute answer as far as I know, however, the issue pertains to all of science. How many experiments do we need to run to establish a law of physics?

The only way anyone knows absolutely is if one is God.

The justification for 500 bits is reasonable. For example, the PKI encryption on the internet is 256 bits for strong encryption, but a mere 64 bits is considered very adequate.

One thing that can be tested is whether the 500 bit threshhold is adequate for detecting human designs. Beyond that one is left to making the best inferences possible.

Comment #55019

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 3, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Sal continues to pop up on various threads spouting various versions of his standard mumbo-jumbo. While we occasionally take the time to straighten him out (for the benefit of others; Sal is unteachable), please observe what Sal consistently fails to do as he flits hither and yon:

Just answer Lenny’s questions.

Howzabout it, Sal? Just answer the questions you’ve been asked so many times, or point us to the thread where you claim to have done so.

If ID is really some toddling form of science, and not laughably puerile religious apologetics, it shouldn’t really be that hard.

Comment #55030

Posted by Anton Mates on November 3, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

No because information about the rock in your mind is a post-dictive, after the fact, connected conceptualization.

A specification for the “S” in CSI must be detachable. The information about the rocks in your head are not detachable, but after the fact (post-dictive).

Why isn’t it “detachable?” Dr. Bottaro can now go home and write about how he saw a small pinkish rock, with veins of quartz, at such and such a location, and everyone else in the world could have access to that information without ever seeing the original rock.

Whether or not it’s “after the fact” is empirically unverifiable–unless there are chisel marks on the rock or something, how can we know whether Dr. Bottaro thought of such a rock and then constructed it, or came upon it and then remembered it?

Comment #55033

Posted by Alan Gourant on November 3, 2005 4:50 PM (e)

In comment 54973 Salvador wrote:

No because information about the rock in your mind is a post-dictive, after the fact, connected conceptualization.

A specification for the “S” in CSI must be detachable. The information about the rocks in your head are not detachable, but after the fact (post-dictive).

First, the very expression “specification must be detachable” is meaningless. It is information that, according to Dembski, can be either “detachable,” or not. If it is “detachable,” then, according to Dembski, it can serve as specification. Salvador seems to be a little confused about the matter he teaches us about, to the extent of making a mess even of terms used by his mentor Dembski. Moreover, Salvador should have refreshed in his mind what Dembski said about “after the fact” information. On page 14 of The Design Inference Dembski unequivocally stated that “after the fact” information can be perfectly “detachable.”

In view of this, perhaps Salvador should turn to debunking Dembski’s position? He may try doing so on some of Dembski’s sites (where, of course, such attempts would be promptly suppressed) rather than clutter PT with his quasi-sophisticated rants, which, quoting Shallit (comment 54992)

are, quite frankly, silly — at the level of a not particularly bright high school student.

Comment #55035

Posted by James Taylor on November 3, 2005 5:05 PM (e)

Sal wrote:

How many experiments do we need to run to establish a law of physics?

Well the answer is at least one. How many experiments have the ID proponents run? Zero. Still not science. Considering they disdain experimentation, it won’t ever be science.

Comment #55041

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 5:26 PM (e)

This is clearly false, as even a cursory examination of Dembski’s work will show. For example, compare the “Generic Chance Elimination Argument” on pages 184-185 of The Design Inference with the GCEA on pages 72-73 of No Free Lunch. These constitute genuinely different definitions; to name just two differences, compare the different rejection regions, and the change in the tractability conditions. It is imply a falsehood to claim that there have not been different definitions.

First, I had nothing much to say about GCEA.

Besides, Dembski acknowledges changes he made related to his statement of GCEA. He outlines outlines some of those on page 66 of NFL and relates them to TDI. Are you going to reject someone’s work just because he revises it?

Jeffrey Shallit wrote:

Arguments about how TSPGRID could have arisen are not germane. Our example is solely intended to address the bogus claim that evolutionary algorithms cannot generate CSI. They can, and our TSPGRID example shows how they do, using Dembski’s own “short-cut” of basing his calculations on an assumption of uniform probability.

Does the TSPGRID alogrithm constrain outcomes, and are those constraints designed by the programmers. Absolutely.

Will the program behave outside of the constraints designed by the programmers? Not unless the computer is broken.

Therefore the space Omega of Possible outcomes is constrained by the choice of the programmers before the a run is done. The space Omega of possible outcomes is defined by the space of all possible TSPGRID outputs, not the space of all possible bit strings that the computer can output.

Each random input corresponds to a particular event E in the space of possible outcomes. Your target space T is therefore the entire space of possibile outcomes in Omega! Since the probability of hitting something in that large a space is 1, the measure of information that your program generates is ZERO.

What you and Elsberry have used is an equivocation for the “bits” in the bits string versus the “bits” of CSI derived from the probability of one event in the space Omega spanned by all possible TSPGRID outputs. The two kinds of bits are not the same.

Yours and Elsberry’s work was there absolutely sloppy, full of equivocation.

Had you taken my suggestion and analyzed T, E and the relevant space Omega in your TSPGRID program you might have caught the error.

Finally, I repeat my previous suggestion. You do not seem to be reading our paper with much care, and so far your objections are, quite frankly, silly — at the level of a not particularly bright high school student.

Well then that doesn’t particularly speak well for your work since the level of a not- particularly-bright-high-school-student demonstrated the sloppiness of you metrics for measuring CSI. Next time try not to equivocate the bits in bit strings with the bits associated with probability of events. There’s a difference.

Comment #55044

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 3, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Face it, Dembski’s a nerd-boy who almost certainly has resentments and exaggerated self-importance from the traumas he underwent by being shoved into lockers and beat up for being a know-it-all (I know, I previously said there’s not much point in psychoanalyzing the unwilling, but some things just glare out at you).

One feels some sympathy for the young Dembski, even if he probably was annoying from the beginning of his schooling. However, one feels some sympathy for the bullies at this point, since he’s such an annoying and appalling geek.

If he’s not the classical case of ressentiment as discussed by Nietzsche, he’s still fairly close. He has that slavish desire for the certain, rather than enjoying the uncertainties of empirical science, which is why he uses terms that he think signifies absolutes. Sal does the same, of course, being to Demski what Worm (Grima) was to Saruman. While it may be that being kicked in the head, literally and/or figuratively, produced such damaged individuals, it’s hard to see what can be done with them except kicking them in the head some more (figuratively, of course).

The analyses of Dembski’s sorry work, and Behe’s pitiful “looks designed” nonsense, have been done, in spite of the lack of anything to commend these claims to scientific review (the only reply really necessary to Dembski is that he entirely lacks relevant empirical data on which to base his “mathematical analysis”). All that’s left now is to figure out what keeps the dolts saying so many stupid things, even though we must be provisional with such uncooperative, reactive subjects.

Comment #55047

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

PaulC wrote:

BTW, of course evolutionary processes have discernable directions just as hurricanes have discernable directions.

It’s not “of course” at all; Newton’s laws of motion don’t apply to evolutionary processes.

Comment #55049

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on November 3, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova:

You write:

“Each random input corresponds to a particular event E in the space of possible outcomes. Your target space T is therefore the entire space of possibile outcomes in Omega! Since the probability of hitting something in that large a space is 1, the measure of information that your program generates is ZERO.”

You are very confused. The target space T is not Omega; in fact it is a vanishingly small part of it. Did you even bother to read the paper?

Your confusion is matched by Dembski’s own. On page 194 of No Free Lunch, he analyzes Dawkins’ “weasel” algorithm and says

“Nonetheless, with respect to the original uniform probability on the phase space, which assigned to each sequence a probability of around 1 in 10^40, E appears to have done just that, to wit, generate a highly improbable specified event, or what we are calling specified complexity.”

You have inadvertently demonstrated the point we are trying to make: Dembski cannot make up his mind whether (a) the target in an evolutionary algorithm is hit with probability 1, and hence the specified complexity is 0 or (b) one should measure the specified complexity with respect to a uniform distribution on strings. One of the points of our TSPGRID example is that (i) if one uses uniform complexity then this algorithm generates specified complexity without producing the same string each time (which was one of Dembski’s complaints about the “weasel” program). The uniform complexity interpretation, therefore, is nonsensical, despite the fact that Dembski uses it again and again.

In any event, as we show in our paper, on pages 34-35, even if one does not use the bogus uniform probability approach, it is still possible to generate “specified complexity” by using a dovetailing approach common in computational complexity.

You write:
“Well then that doesn’t particularly speak well for your work since the level of a not- particularly-bright-high-school-student demonstrated the sloppiness of you metrics for measuring CSI.”

I’m afraid you don’t even understand the point. The point is, we were using Dembski’s own method for evaluating specified complexity and showing it was bogus.

Comment #55050

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 3, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

It’s not “of course” at all; Newton’s laws of motion don’t apply to evolutionary processes.

But forces do act upon evolutionary processes. “Cope’s law” is generally held to continue to be a useful rule of thumb (not a law, certainly) among mammals, at least. It does not hold for mammals on islands, however, and in fact the opposite is the case for large mammals on islands. “Evolutionary direction” remains probabilistic in any case, and may change substantially in its probabilities when the climate shifts, for example.

Comment #55051

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

But forces do act upon evolutionary processes.

Of course they do, but Paul’s statement was a gross overgeneralization. While there are specific cases, with many counterexamples, of discernible directions, the direction of evolutionary processes is generally not “discernable”.

Comment #55053

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

BTW, “Cope’s law” is predictive, but that’s far different from direction being “discernible”; rather, we infer direction from it. And it isn’t really a matter of direction; Cope’s law predicts that mammals on islands will become larger if they reach the mainland – their past history isn’t relevant. That’s totally different from how we discern the direction of hurricanes, which is by observing which way they’ve been going – and Newton tells us they will tend to continue in that direction.

Comment #55055

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 3, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

…the direction of evolutionary processes is generally not “discernable”.

I certainly agree with that.

Comment #55057

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 3, 2005 6:11 PM (e)

BTW, “Cope’s law” is predictive, but that’s far different from direction being “discernible”; rather, we infer direction from it. And it isn’t really a matter of direction; Cope’s law predicts that mammals on islands will become larger if they reach the mainland — their past history isn’t relevant. That’s totally different from how we discern the direction of hurricanes, which is by observing which way they’ve been going — and Newton tells us they will tend to continue in that direction.

Depends on what is meant by “discernable”, but other than possible quibbles over that, I’m quite agreed with your statements once again.

Comment #55059

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

It’s not “of course” at all; Newton’s laws of motion don’t apply to evolutionary processes.

I only meant that a process can have discernable directions without having intent or purpose, a weather system being an obvious example. My assertion was merely an aside without any great relevance. Feel free to delete it entirely from my posting.

However, I would also claim that the “direction” of evolutionary processes in the most general sense can sometimes be discerned. For instance, the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria seems to run like clockwork. We can measure the level of resistance at various intervals and see how it is changing and we are often correct in predicting that the change travels towards greater resistance.

A hurricane in a reductionist sense follows “Newton’s laws” but it’s actually a chaotic system in which these laws don’t allow us to work out the details very far ahead of time given the imprecision of our measurements and limited computing power. Nevertheless we can (and do!) speak of it having direction. I think the same is often true of evolution, though the notion of “direction” does not have the obvious geographic meaning, and I also agree that it is not always–perhaps rarely even–discernable.

Comment #55064

Posted by RBH on November 3, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

Salvador wrote

The justification for 500 bits is reasonable. For example, the PKI encryption on the internet is 256 bits for strong encryption, but a mere 64 bits is considered very adequate.

One thing that can be tested is whether the 500 bit threshhold is adequate for detecting human designs. Beyond that one is left to making the best inferences possible.

Well, how about assessing that question by actually applying the measure – “CSI” – to objects of known provenance? On ARN some time back I offered the programs evolved in Avida as excellent test stimuli for assessing CSI as a metric. They are appropriately “specified” (by functionality – perform an input-output mapping corresponding to EQU), and 23 of them have the same specification. The increase in Shannon information from Ancestor to final program can be readily calculated. They are drawn from a limited alphabet, so probability calculations should be no problem. But you said you weren’t interested:

I’m not deeply interested in the exercise. The level of CSI is may or may not be able to be established, thus even in cases where the design is known, a score may not be affixable, at least immediately.

If one feels that a CSI metric must be established in all cases, that is an incorrect view. Establishing CSI is a sufficient, but not necessary condition to establish design.

Too bad. No interest in actually assessing the validity and reliability of the central metric of ID says to me it’s worthless and IDists know it! Else they would actually calculate it as Dembski claims it should be calculated. They don’t. Apparently it is an incorrect view to suppose that one need “establish” a CSI metric in any case, say nothing of all cases.

RBH

Comment #55066

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 6:42 PM (e)

I only meant that a process can have discernable directions without having intent or purpose, a weather system being an obvious example.

Why do people say they “only” meant something when they make multiple statements that mean different things? I responded to what you wrote, which was an entirely bogus analogy between hurricanes and evolution, one used to try to support a claim that is false.

Nevertheless we can (and do!) speak of it having direction.

That’s because a plot of the center of a hurricane at sufficiently low resolution has a clearly discernible direction, and its future direction is a consequence of physical laws that don’t apply in the case of the “direction” – which isn’t even a clear concept – of evolution.

I think the same is often true of evolution, though the notion of “direction” does not have the obvious geographic meaning, and I also agree that it is not always—perhaps rarely even—discernable.

Often but rarely, eh? A good time to end this discussion, methinks.

Comment #55068

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

BTW morbius, I don’t know that you’re just being argumentative for its own sake, but you do seem to have a way of pouncing on details. I’m not a biologist and presumably get a lot of things wrong; bear with me on that. I am a computer scientist and know that subject quite well.

My main thesis with respect to ID is that besides debunking them on the grounds that they don’t understand how evolution works, why not debunk them on the equally valid grounds that they don’t understand how intelligence works either? The advantage to this approach is their stockpile of polemic tends to be addressed at objections from evolutionary biologists. I don’t think they’ve given much thought at all to the other attack.

I’ve been thinking about this since the NYT ran a rather weak he said/she said account back in August of ID vs. science. This was when I first heard of Behe and Dembski and I was naturally curious about whether they really had any new rigor to offer this old and tired debate.

Behe and Dembski believe that humans (and not just the anonymous designer) are capable of creating “intelligent designs”. They also believe that evolutionary processes are incapable of doing so (except with vanishingly small probability). Dembski purports to have a mathematical proof of this, but it’s very long. Reliable sources suggest that it does not even use consistent definitions. I admit I have not tried hard to follow Dembski’s argument though I skimmed some of his work briefly.

However, I can conclude sight unseen that Dembski’s if valid must distinguish between the power of mere human intelligence over a human lifespan and the power of evolutionary processes over the lifespan of earth’s biosphere. It’s not enough that it distinguishes between evolution and god-like abilities to solve intractable optimization problems, because even by Dembski’s admission, it does not take omniscience, but rather ordinary intelligence to make designs.

Now if Dembski has actually made the discovery he claims, it would have deep-reaching implications for AI. For instance, it would be clear that no amount of processing power will get intelligence out of evolution-motivated algorithms. It would have deep-reaching implications for complexity theory. Right now, for instance, we have no idea if a polynomial time algorithm exists for the traveling salesman problem, yet Dembski claims he has shown a fundamental limitation of evolution-motivated algorithms ever solving problems that generate “CSI” (except with vanishing probability) using all the atom’s and physical interactions of earth in its lifetime.

If Dembski could prove all that, he’d surely be a candidate for a Fields medal instead of toiling away in relative academic (if not popular) obscurity. No conspiracy of scientists could prevent it, because his claims have such far reaching implications that he could easily leverage a small fraction of them to resolve far less controversial open problems. He could probably do this in his spare time. Once he had his Fields medal, he could renew his attack on evolution with new and impressive credentials, so it would actually help his cause.

That, in short, is why it’s pretty obvious to me that Dembski is blowing smoke.

Comment #55069

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

The justification for 500 bits is reasonable. For example, the PKI encryption on the internet is 256 bits for strong encryption, but a mere 64 bits is considered very adequate.

To call the number of bits used in PKI encryption irrelevant would be to overstate its relevance. Sal doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of justification. Absolute values mean nothing. You could have a trillion bits of CSI and it wouldn’t tell you a damn thing if you don’t know how large the sample space is – which is the same problem as Behe and his dirt.

Comment #55071

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

Often but rarely, eh?

It often has a direction, though it may rarely be discernable.

I don’t see what is bogus about the analogy. I already gave a specific instance in which the direction is discernable. The notion of “direction” within a combinatorial space is quite well-defined.

My assertion really wasn’t relevant to my overall point, and I therefore regret having written it, but it’s not as dumb as you seem to think.

Your implication that hurricanes follow “Newton’s laws of motion” was at least as asinine as anything I said. Hurricane motion is a hugely complicated phenonemon impossible to explain without atmospheric chemistry, which is absolutely going to introduce quantum effects. Do you honestly think Newtonian mechanics is sufficient even in a reductionist sense to explain atmospheric chemistry?

I bring that mainly as an example of my inclination not to nitpick; I got your point. I wish you would occasionally try to get mine.

Comment #55072

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

BTW morbius, I don’t know that you’re just being argumentative for its own sake, but you do seem to have a way of pouncing on details.

Such complaints are childish. I generally comment on things I disagree with, and simply silently appreciate those that I agree with. The complaint that that’s “argumentative” seems anti-intellectual to me.

I’m not a biologist and presumably get a lot of things wrong; bear with me on that.

I’m not either, but that doesn’t make anything I say any more or less subject to challenge. I’m not interested in your credentials, just your claims.

My main thesis with respect to ID is that besides debunking them on the grounds that they don’t understand how evolution works, why not debunk them on the equally valid grounds that they don’t understand how intelligence works either?

I have no argument with that. Did you see me arguing with that?

That, in short, is why it’s pretty obvious to me that Dembski is blowing smoke.

Or that.

Comment #55075

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 7:15 PM (e)

It often has a direction, though it may rarely be discernable.

I objected to the claim of discernibility. And I disagree about direction – it’s always climbing a hill, but the fitness landscape is constantly changing.

I don’t see what is bogus about the analogy.

What’s bogus is that nothing about why the direction of hurricanes is discernible applies to evolution.

My assertion really wasn’t relevant to my overall point, and I therefore regret having written it, but it’s not as dumb as you seem to think.

I didn’t say it was dumb, I said that “of course” was unwarranted. I think you’re wrong, but I don’t think you’re dumb. You seem to have your ego wound up in this.

Your implication that hurricanes follow “Newton’s laws of motion” was at least as asinine as anything I said.

No, it’s not asinine at all.

Do you honestly think Newtonian mechanics is sufficient even in a reductionist sense to explain atmospheric chemistry?

Now that is asinine.

I wish you would occasionally try to get mine.

As is that. Grow up.

Comment #55076

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

I generally comment on things I disagree with

You could occasionally try commenting on the main point of a posting, whether you agree or disagree. You don’t have to, but you might find that people appreciate you more for it.

BTW, I realize that I started this by pouncing on the mention of NFL, which was not your main point, so I don’t make any claims of consistency in this matter.

Comment #55077

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

morbius: Sorry I’m baffled. If I’m correct, you believe that hurricanes are fully explicable in terms of classical dynamics. I agree that there are probably classical hurricane-like systems that could be analyzed in classical terms, but I see little evidence for your apparent assertion that actual hurricanes follow Newtonian physics. I doubt, for instance, that even water droplet formation is fully explicable using classical physics.

Is my ego wound up in this? Eh, maybe. But I still find your assertion puzzling.

Comment #55080

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 7:32 PM (e)

And I disagree about direction — it’s always climbing a hill, but the fitness landscape is constantly changing.

I explicitly stated that the direction can change, so I don’t see how a changing fitness landscape makes a difference. It is still possible to define an instantaneous direction.

A hurricane, whether it’s a useful analogy or not could move against a changing landscape of ocean tides for instance, which probably have some effect. A hurricane also does not have a fixed direction but does have an instantaneous direction.

What I said was probably not very useful in context, but I just don’t see any clear fallacy either. It is obviously ego that causes me to spend any time defending my statements, but regardless I think they are defensible.

Comment #55086

Posted by PaulC on November 3, 2005 8:08 PM (e)

In the interest of closure, I’ll add that if you meant that hurricanes are subject to Newton’s laws–they do not violate conservation of momentum, for example–I agree with that. I retract my claim that your statement was asinine, since you never actually claimed that they were fully explicable in terms of Newton’s laws. I may have misunderstood what you were claiming.

Comment #55088

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:31 PM (e)

The definition on page 139, 141 of Dembski’s book defines his terms.

That’s nice. Why are his terms any better than anyone else’s.

And answer my questions. Forget them already? No problem:

*ahem*

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

5. Why are you undermining your own side by proclaiming here that ID is all about defeating “atheism” and “anti-religion”, while your side is desperately trying to argue in court that ID has nothing at all whatsoever to do with religion or religious apologetics? Are your fellow IDers just lying under oath when they testify to that, Sal?

Comment #55089

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

For example, a blue print is a specification. It delimits how the intended object is to be designed. It does this by choosing a particular configuration (delimiting) from the space of many possible outcomes.

In the case of living organisms, Sal, who chooses this particular configuration? When does he/she/it choose this particular configuration? Or, in other words, this “complex informaiton” is “specified” when, where and by whom?

Why won’t any IDers answer that simple question for me?

Here’s what I think, Sal — I think you, Dembski, and other IDers are just giving us the old “Texas Marksman” deal. The Texas Marksman walks over to the barn, blasts away, then draws bullseyes around each bullet hole and declares how wonderful it is that he hit ever bullseye. Of course, if his shots had fallen in different places, he would be declaring how wodnerful it is that he hit THAT mark, instead.

ID does the same thing. It draws a bullseye around the bullet hole and declares how remarkable it is that “the designer” hit the target.

If ID *really* wanted to impress me, it would predict BEFOREHAND where the bullet hole is going to be.

But alas, ID can’t do that, can it, Sal.

Comment #55090

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

You could occasionally try commenting on the main point of a posting

This is just as silly as your “I wish you would occasionally try to get mine” – I do “occasionally” do both. The fact is that I comment on what I care about, not about what you care about – which is not entirely known to me in any case. And I happen to care about notions of directionality and teleology in evolution more than I care about NFL – a clue was that I said something silly about it, then withdrew it, and left all subsequent comments on the subject to you, who know and understand a lot more about it than I do. Complaints about what people do or don’t comment on strike me as rather pathetic whining. The only legitimate complaint is if someone continues to maintain a point without responding to a rebuttal to it; but simply dropping a thread is no sin.

If I’m correct, you believe that hurricanes are fully explicable in terms of classical dynamics.

I never said or implied that or anything like it. My comment simply alluded to the fact that the law of inertia doesn’t apply to evolution. That inertia is relevant to hurricane travel does not say that hurricanes are fully explicable in terms of classical dynamics, any more than the path of an airplane is fully explicable in terms of classical dynamics.

On direction of evolution – upon reconsideration I overstated the case; while the fitness landscape is constantly changing, the changes are incremental, and often gradual. So, for instance, presumably most vestigial organs will continue to decohere, because the conditions that once made them functional continue not to apply.

Comment #55091

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:39 PM (e)

No because information about the rock in your mind is a post-dictive, after the fact, connected conceptualization.

I see.

And where, again, does the “information” for “designed biological entities” exist **before the fact**? Who, again, “specifies” this “compklex information” **beforehand**? How, again, does this **previous “specified information”** become realized in an actual designed object?

Oh, wait, I forgot ——- ID isn’t that kind of science, is it.

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #55092

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 8:41 PM (e)

In the interest of closure, I’ll add that if you meant that hurricanes are subject to Newton’s laws—they do not violate conservation of momentum, for example—I agree with that. I retract my claim that your statement was asinine, since you never actually claimed that they were fully explicable in terms of Newton’s laws. I may have misunderstood what you were claiming.

Ok, thanks.

Comment #55093

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

I’ve a feeling that Morbius has been here before, under a different name ……

But then, I really don’t care. (shrug)

Comment #55094

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

Sal continues to pop up on various threads spouting various versions of his standard mumbo-jumbo. While we occasionally take the time to straighten him out (for the benefit of others; Sal is unteachable), please observe what Sal consistently fails to do as he flits hither and yon:

Just answer Lenny’s questions.

Howzabout it, Sal? Just answer the questions you’ve been asked so many times, or point us to the thread where you claim to have done so.

If ID is really some toddling form of science, and not laughably puerile religious apologetics, it shouldn’t really be that hard.

Indeed, Sal’s thundering silence is quite eloquent, all by itself.

Fortunately, my questions make their point all by themselves, whether Sal answers or not (and of course I expect him to not). I don’t need his cooperation. (shrug)

Comment #55096

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 3, 2005 8:53 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'b'

Comment #55097

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 3, 2005 9:01 PM (e)

We’ve all got egos and, I suspect, most of us are susceptible to reacting defensively when our statements are challenged. So let’s set that aspect of things to one side for a moment.

This is a publicly-accessible site. Some of us are evolutionary biologists or scientists with similar background, training, and experience. Only a few of us, thankfully, are creationists or IDiots. But whoever we may be and regardless of our knowledge or background, once we hit “Post,” we have effectively become a kind of commentator or journalist. And, like any other commentator or journalist, we need to be prepared–potentially–to justify and defend each statement we make, and each of the words we use to make it with. Anything we say here is potentially subject to follow-on commentary, to criticism, to challenge.

We certainly expect to be able to challenge the creationists and IDiots. To start with, we expect–well, that’s way too optimistic–it would certainly be appreciated if they made clear, consistent, and comprehensible statements. We then expect to be able to challenge them to back up their claims with rational explanation, some minimal modicum of logic, and–ideally–documentable evidence (based on experience, we may not expect them to be able to supply any of this, but we assert the right to demand it of them, and to chide them when they fail to do so).

It’s not clear to me why we expect any less of ourselves. Yeah, it can be frustrating and tedious to have our–what we may consider to be mere asides, off-the-top, or peripheral–statements subjected to the same “nitpicky” scrutiny as our main themes. Especially by acerbic co-commentators like ts or morbius. But we can’t fairly expect that we should exempt ANY of our own statements or claims from the same withering degree of scrutiny that we expect to be able to apply to the IDiots.

I’ve made sloppy statements here. Not every pearl that spills from my fingertips is immortal or irridescent. Sometimes I’ve winced when I’ve been corrected, especially on those peripheral statements that I didn’t really think through carefully. Or a typo, or spelling, or grammar error, for frick’s sake. Or, ahem, the dreaded “mismatched tag”!

But I’ve also learned a few things. And had to admit I was wrong on occasion.

Nah, we don’t always learn something of great value from these side-discussions. And, too often, they seem to degenerate into sniping sessions.

But what’s the alternative? While “civility” is easy to insist upon, it’s not always so easy to define, especially when gored by our own oxen (or however that saying goes…when the horn is on the other ox?). Certainly we can’t issue ourselves a free pass.

Any suggestions for improving the collegiality of our interactions would be welcome, SO LONG AS we don’t sacrifice the quality. In the meantime, winces, warts and all, I’ll take our more prickly and edgy co-commentators over their mushy brain-dead sycophants any day of the week.

Comment #55099

Posted by K.E. on November 3, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

Sal some questions

1.Do you think that abiogenesis and evolution could have happened without you, Dembski, and a littoral reading of the Gen1 and Gen2 ?.

2.If your “design” requires a “designer” how does that “designer” transfer knowledge of itself to the writers of Gen1. Gen2. or any other human creation story or scripture, and so on down to you and Dembski ?

3.Since you can’t answer 2 unless you are schizophrenic then anything you say about a designer can neither be proved nor disproved why should we accept anything you say about a “designer” ?

4.Further why limit any definition of your “cause for an infinitely small probability of occurrence” to a “designer” and not a freak accident, space alien intervention, the infinite dreams of the Hindu gods ?

3. Why do we have to rely on the “reports” from “wandering intuition” and value judgments by Dembski and yourself when you absolutely refuse to test any of theories ?

4. Why should anyone consider your theory to be of any use whatsoever when you refuse anyone else the right to define any part of it in a formal definition and alternative language ?

5. Are you aware of Kant’s “Logic of Illusion” and why he rejects it ?

6. Are you aware “private definitions” and “made up definitions” are classic hallmarks of pseudo-science ?

Comment #55114

Posted by PvM on November 3, 2005 11:30 PM (e)

Fascinating to see when Sal “I will take a grenade for Dembski” (YEC) meets Science. It seems a rather unfair confrontation though.
No wonder that ID remains scientifically vacuous

Comment #55115

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 3, 2005 11:34 PM (e)

Jeffrey Insists:

The target space T is not Omega; in fact it is a vanishingly small part of it. Did you even bother to read the paper?

Since you are the once claiming the program increases CSI, to demonstrate it, you could indicate

1. The space Omega of Possibilities
2. The physical information
3. The conceptual information

You admitted that you did not do that in your paper. I noticed the ommission. You are invited then to post what the space Omega of Possibilities is constituted of.

Is it the space of all possible bit string the computer can generate or the space of all possible outputs under the constraint of the TSPGRID algorithm? I leave it to you to clarify since you omitted it in your paper.

But let me advise you, whichever way you answer, I’ll demonstrate you’re TSPGRID critique is flawed.

Option 1:
Omega is the space of all possible bit strings that the computer can generate.

Then you have only shown that your TSPGRID program is acting as your surrogate (surrogate of an intelligent agency). Your conceptual information for travelling salesman solutions was formalized and coded into software. That software acted as your agent to constrain the physical outcomes. Thus you illustrate exactly that CSI is originated by intelligent agency and you manufactured a designed object (bit streams) by creating assembly instructions to physically reduce possible outcomes from a space of possible bit strings.

It’s quite analogous to you building a factory and then the factory manufactures designed objects which evidence CSI. The factory infuses CSI into the raw materials. One could say that the raw materials went from a state of 0 CSI to a higher state of CSI, and thus the raw materials had an “increase” of CSI. But given that the computer (or factory) is acting as a surrogate for the intelligent agency, this is consistent with Dembski’s claims that CSI originated only from an intelligent source. Objects from factories are by the way, considered designs.

The Designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials

William Dembski

For Avida and TSPGRID, the assembly instructions are the computer code, the building materials are the output channels, and the final product is the bit stream.

A short bit of computer programming code may occupy only a small number of bits can identify a possibility in the space Omega that has far more bits. But this is not an increase in CSI. The amount of bits in CSI are not necessarily correlated to the amount of computer code needed to generate the CSI. Your paper falls into an equivocation trap. It could have been remedied if you followed what I suggested. Indicate:

1. Omega
2. T
3. E

Option 2:
Omega is the space of all possible output TSPGRID outputs. In such case T is equal to Omega, therefore T has ZERO CSI.

But thank you for admitting that you did not specify T nor E. That only shows you’re work was incomplete as I asserted. You then are guilty of the very thing you accuse your former student (Bill Dembski) of, namely, not sufficiently demonstrating your claims. However, you go one step further, your claims were errant.

Salvador
PS
The issues raised in this post apply to the flaws in Avida.

Taken in its most fundamental sense, the word design denotes a pattern or blueprint

Comment #55117

Posted by PvM on November 3, 2005 11:42 PM (e)

Just when I thought that I had seen it all, Sal posts again with the ever moving goalposts.
I can see why Dembski has not addressed the excellent criticisms by Shallit and Elsberry. He may have wished he had though since Sal while “taking the grenade for uncle Bill” is inflicting significant collateral damage.

That’s what happens when one only focuses on the informal descriptions and ignores the mathematics.

[quote]
Dembski has been accused of not responding to his critics, and Salvador has eagerly expressed (and in public, no less) his willingness to take a “grenade” for Dembski so that Dembski can continue to not respond to critics. Who is that supposed to fool?
[/quote]

[url href=”http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…”]Link[/url]

Comment #55120

Posted by K.E. on November 4, 2005 12:29 AM (e)

Nice try Sal but a theory must communicate an understanding and add information not previously available.

You refuse to communicate an understanding because you change your own understanding when it suits you.

You are adding no information other than “a designer designed the design” without any testable evidence, pure metaphysics, empty of any meaning except in prayer.

Comment #55127

Posted by morbius on November 4, 2005 1:05 AM (e)

Nice comments, Stevie. I’ve tried to be civil with Paul, thanking him for his comments, acknowledging that he was right and I was wrong about NFL (which someone strangely claimed was additional evidence that I “just like to argue”), noting that he knows a lot more about it than I do. I really don’t think comments about personalities and styles are relevant – and yet I, in my own defensiveness, fell into it, commenting about ego involvement, telling him to grow up, etc. For that I apologize. Sorry, Paul.

Comment #55130

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on November 4, 2005 2:18 AM (e)

I see it is completely pointless arguing with Cordova. I specified Omega, T, and E in a previous comment (54992); he simply ignores them, and continues to state I have not defined them even though they are there for all to see. He gives a bogus set of two options, and doesn’t even realize there is a third. Pathetic.

As I stated before, we did not explicitly define Omega, T, and E in our paper, but they are obvious to any minimally competent reader. Dembski does not even do that much. Cordova cannot complain about this without being hypocritical, since as I already pointed out, Dembski fails to specify Omega, T, and E for nearly every example he claims has CSI. I challenged Cordova to show where Omega, T, and E were provided for the 16 examples in our paper. He did not respond.

I must say, this little exchange was very revealing. Do we need any more proof of the vacuity of intelligent design?

Comment #55140

Posted by Registered User on November 4, 2005 3:56 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #55141

Posted by Registered User on November 4, 2005 3:57 AM (e)

Yeah, it can be frustrating and tedious to have our—what we may consider to be mere asides, off-the-top, or peripheral—statements subjected to the same “nitpicky” scrutiny as our main themes. Especially by acerbic co-commentators like ts or morbius.

Remember when Flint and Great White Wonder used to got at it?

Thems were the days.

-sniffle-

Comment #55158

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 4, 2005 8:14 AM (e)

Jeff wrote:

Omega, the space of all events, is the set of all possible permutations on 4n^2 cities; it has cardinality (4n^2)! T is the set of all such permutations corresponding to Hamiltonian cycles on the grid, and E is the particular instance output by the program. If you wish to make it “physical”, we can insist that the input and output be given by punched cards or paper tape.

That is exactly your mistake Jeff, and I gave you a chance to correct it. The software instructions you provided guarantee that Omega is really is not all such permutations to on the grid with cardinality (4n^2)!

I pointed out:

Will the program behave outside of the constraints designed by the programmers? Not unless the computer is broken.

That means will the program output anything other than objects falling within T? No. Hence Omega really equals T.

Under the design constraints which you made under TSPGRID there is no possibility for an outcome other than within the set of all such permutations on Hamiltonian cycles. Therefore the space of possible outcomes of your computer program is not
(4n^2)! but rather at most c28^n^2, and your definition of the space Omega is therefore suspect.

But let me be generous and grant that if you wish to insist:

Omega, the space of all events, is the set of all possible permutations on 4n^2 cities; it has cardinality (4n^2)!

your TSPGRID program is then acting as a surrogate to select on your behalf 1 out of more than 4n^2!/C28^n^2 possibilites an optimal route, and therefore, the output strings are shaped (much like raw materials from a factory) according to your design. Thus the CSI infused in those strings (much like a factory fabricating a designed object) is still attibutable to your intelligent programming. Hence the CSI “increase” is still attributable to an intelligence via surrogate!

William Dembski wrote:

The Designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials

The program is therefore acting as a surrogate on your behalf to limit the space of possible output strings to those which correspond to hamiltonian cycles.

The fact that you have several optimal solutions which can be chosen at random does not change the constraining influence of your TSPGRID software.

And let me point out your equivocation of “bits”:

Here the input is n, which has at most log2 n bits of information, and
the algorithm is of fixed size, and can have at most c bits of information. Since for large n
we have 8n^2log2n - 2:6n^2 >> (log2 n) + c, we conclude that TSPGRID has indeed generated
specified complexity with respect to the uniform probability interpretation.

I pointed out earlier that a small program can select out of a large conceptual space of possiblities, and thus from a CSI standpoint it actually identifies an event that has far more CSI bits associated with it than the number of computer bits that define the program. But that apparent paradox is resolved if one realizes the word “bit” is being equivocated. The number of bits in a program which the Desinger uses as a tool should not be conflated with the number of bits associated with the space omega of physical possibilities. The intelligence of the designer selecting out of the possible outcomes in Omega is the source of information, not the tool (such as computer code) which he uses to carryout his manufacturing process. The bits in the computer code are therefore extraneous to the bits of CSI.

I will compliment you however, Jeff, on your mathematical theatrics. I’m sure your friends at PT are convinced by the show over substance.

Comment #55162

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 8:22 AM (e)

Remember when Flint and Great White Wonder used to got at
it?

I do miss GWW. Despite his crudity, he was very effective.

Comment #55163

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 8:24 AM (e)

Hey Sal, why won’t you answer my simple questions?

Comment #55164

Posted by Alan Fox on November 4, 2005 8:37 AM (e)

What happened to ts BTW?

Comment #55171

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 4, 2005 9:38 AM (e)

As I have pointed out before, Sal is actually quite valuable. No one reading his posts will confuse the ID movement he espouses with anything possessing actual intellectual content.

And he’s clueless about how much he embarrasses both the movement and himself. Fascinating.

Sal, doesn’t it bother you to lie for your faith? Doesn’t that violate the commandments? Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve no understanding whatsoever of the math that you chunk around?

Get some cojones Sal - behave like an adult for a change.

Comment #55174

Posted by jeffw on November 4, 2005 9:51 AM (e)

Salvador Cordova wrote:

The intelligence of the designer selecting out of the possible outcomes in Omega is the source of information, not the tool (such as computer code) which he uses to carryout his manufacturing process.

And what if I write a program that interacts with the environment, and adjusts it’s own constraints dynamically over it’s lifetime, based on (non-intelligent) environmental input? A robot with a neural net, GA, or evolutionary algorithm for example. Are all of its “possible outcomes” designed by me? Of course not. Yes, I established the initial constraints (almost certainly without realizing their full implications), but once I create the “surrogate” as you call it, it is no longer bound by me, it acts independently and non-deterministically. And with environmental input, I am not the full “source of information” for the outcomes.

Comment #55175

Posted by Donald M on November 4, 2005 9:58 AM (e)

Donald M asserts

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever!

Alan Fox:
Until Dembski makes such a response, your assertion will remain baseless.

This proves my point: no response by Dembski (or any other IDP for that matter) will ever be considered enough to satisfy the critics. The “baseless” assertion being made here by Alan et.al. is that Dembski hasn’t responded. That is simply and demonstrably false. It is disingenous to pretend otherwise. Dembski’s (and ID’s) critics complain that the “really hard” questions to ID haven’t been addressed. Dembski then releases his book No Free Lunch followed by The Design Revolution. The ink was barely dry on either book before the ID critics were complaining that the answers were inadequate, or that it didn’t address the right questions, or whatever. Subsequent to that, Dembski publishes on the internet two or three more papers that expand on concepts introduced in NFL.
These were highly detailed in every respect. Still the ID critics aren’t satisfied.

This is why I’m convinced that the real problem that ID critics have isn’t with the science, but with the metaphysical implications of the science. Hence my respone to ag:

The fact is, no amount of responses by Dembski, no matter how detailed would ever satisfy his critics…ever! for the simple reason that it ‘just can’t be the case that life (or any other feature of the cosmos for that matter) is actually designed. Therefore, there just can’t be any evidence for that, and if anything even remotely looks like evidence of actual design, well, we know (wink wink) that it really wasn’t.’

ag responds in comment 54848:

Donald M. (comment 54834) has responded to something I did not even mention -whether or not the general conjecture of ID could be disproved. I think it can’t, agreeing on that with Donald M, but this, being in tune with the assertion of ID’s being unfalsifiable and hence unscientific, has nothing to do with my point. In my comment I stated that Dembski usually avoids answering specific critical remarks revealing weaknesses and errors in his methods of identifying design. Unlike the general unfalsifiable conjecture of ID, these specific claims can be refuted and have been refuted by a number of critics, but Dembski almost never replies to the substance of most of these refutations, often indulging instead in denigrating his opponents. Donald seems to have taken lessons from Dembski as his comment (a) changes the subject and (b) resorts to rudeness (referring to my comment as to “hogwash”), which are two common devices used when one has no good counter-arguments but craves to vent anger.

I think ag has completely mis-read my post. My point was simple: the real objection to ID is not a scientific one but a philosophical one. Hence, the anti-ID crowd continually (and I think disingenuously) tries to claim that all these questions and criticisms directed at Dembski haven’t been answered, or if he did answer, it was the wrong answer, or he didn’t answer the right question, or it wasn’t detailed enough, or it didn’t address this other concern (the changing the goal post routine), or etc etc ad inifinitum, ad nauseum. So, I responded by saying no amount of response, no matter how detailed will ever be enough to satisfy the anti-ID crowd. This wasn’t changing the subject, as ag asserted, this IS the subject as far as the anti-ID crowd is concerned. Nor did I claim that ID is unfalsifiable or could be disproved. What I asked was how we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that none of the apparent design we observe throught biological systems can be actual design, even in principle?
So far, no one has provided a scientific answer to that question. No one. Claims of “no evidence” or “they don’t look designed, they look evolved” do not provide a scientific answer to the question, and are merely hand waving assertions.

As to my “rudeness”, I apologize to ag if it seemed that way. My word “hogwash” was in the same vein as saying, “Come on now, how can you say that?” Regardless of what the PT crowd asserts, there is a double standard being applied, and it is both unfair and disingenous. Dembski is right to point it out.

Comment #55177

Posted by K.E. on November 4, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

Hogwash Donald M

1.Worthless, false, or ridiculous speech or writing; nonsense.
2.Garbage fed to hogs; swill.

your pick

Comment #55183

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 4, 2005 10:59 AM (e)

Donald M said

What I asked was how we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that none of the apparent design we observe throught biological systems can be actual design, even in principle?
So far, no one has provided a scientific answer to that question. No one. Claims of “no evidence” or “they don’t look designed, they look evolved” do not provide a scientific answer to the question, and are merely hand waving assertions.

You are asking for a universal negative - no such negative exists or can be demonstrated.

The issue here is not whether the various ‘parameters’ and natural laws of the universe cannot be designed, but whether or not there is any evidence that they are. No ID advocate has been able to answer this point.

Dembski, as the sole formalist in the ID camp at the moment is guily of the most serious evasion on this point. Let us consider only a single example: CSI. Despite his claims that various events display CSI, he has NEVER, not ONCE actually used his own filter to demonstrate it.

It was pointed out that the NFL theorems are irrelevant in the context he tried to use them. He has never addressed this.

Perhaps you should try actually reading his published oevure, rather than defending him reflexively.

Comment #55185

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 4, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

Donald, I might also point out that

This proves my point: no response by Dembski (or any other IDP for that matter) will ever be considered enough to satisfy the critics. The “baseless” assertion being made here by Alan et.al. is that Dembski hasn’t responded. That is simply and demonstrably false. It is disingenous to pretend otherwise. Dembski’s (and ID’s) critics complain that the “really hard” questions to ID haven’t been addressed. Dembski then releases his book No Free Lunch followed by The Design Revolution. The ink was barely dry on either book before the ID critics were complaining that the answers were inadequate, or that it didn’t address the right questions, or whatever. Subsequent to that, Dembski publishes on the internet two or three more papers that expand on concepts introduced in NFL.
These were highly detailed in every respect. Still the ID critics aren’t satisfied.

is also irrelevant. It’s not the mind-numbing detail (and Dembski is both verbose and confusing as a writer - I don’t think he thinks very clearly), it’s the fact that the detail he offers does not address the points his critics raise. It would be dishonest of them not to bring this fact forward.

Comment #55188

Posted by PaulC on November 4, 2005 11:21 AM (e)

I agree with Steviepinhead that it would be terrible if we felt afraid to criticize each other’s comments freely. But I want to add that it would also be a shame if people were afraid to add colorful asides for fear of being pounced on for imprecision.

It’s possible to point out where something is imprecise without the criticism sounding like an attack. This forum is not nearly at the same level as peer reviewed publication, but even peer reviewers usually take care not to be insulting. I base this on referee reports I have received and written. It’s a question of tone, which is naturally subjective. In this particular discussion, it seems that morbius and I were like fingernails on a blackboard to each other. I won’t claim any highground here, but merely acknowledge the subjectivity of tone.

If I found an aside in a paper submitted for publication that seemed both incorrect and irrelevant to the main point. I would probably say that it “seemed imprecise” unless it was so wrong that I couldn’t in all honestly be so polite, in which case I’d say it was wrong and give a precise counterargument. I’d add that it can be deleted without hurting the main argument, and recommend that it be deleted.

BTW, while I think it’s fine to identify any part of a posting as wrong whether or not it is part of the main point, I personally expect some kind of counterargument, even if it’s just the assertion that the meaning is so imprecise it’s “neither right nor wrong.” But even then, a suggestion as to what it could mean and why that’s wrong is better than mere assertion.

As for the relevance of comments like “you seem unnecessarily argumentative” I did refrain from this kind of meta-comment until quite recently in the thread (my early comment about not shifting terminology was made in reference to Dembski, not morbius; sorry for any misunderstanding). I’ve tried to respond to objections with clarifications and corrections. After about the fifth go-round, it is hard to escape thinking “Why does this person have it in for me?” My justification for making it personal is that at least on this thread, it seemed that morbius was being more critical of my postings than others were and also being more critical than it seemed he was being of other comparably vague or self-contradictory assertions in other postings.

I regret if my perception was incorrect. I also don’t hold it against him (even if he holds it against himself) for making his own metacomments about ego and so forth. At that point, the discussion had descended to the personal, and this really did need to be resolved before any fruitful commentary could ensue.

Comment #55189

Posted by PaulC on November 4, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

At the risk of belaboring things, I want to comment that I don’t think Newtonian inertia is the main factor that holds a hurricane to its course. It’s an externally driven system that I think is usually approached in terms of fluid dynamics. In think it adheres to a course because it’s being pulled by some pressure system rather than because it is a very massive object that just happens to be headed in that direction (like a ballistic object). But I don’t pretend to be a meteorologist, so I may be completely wrong about all that.

What is true is that regardless of the specific laws governing any complex chaotic system, you can usually calculate scalar functions of the system that are continuous and seemingly well-behaved over sufficiently short intervals. You can at the very least make statements about whether these functions are increasing or decreasing over your time interval. This applies both to the weather and to evolution. I feel confident in this analogy and would like to substitute it for my vague comments about “direction” and whether it is “discernable.” I would also assert that this analogy has some use to it. At least, I find it helpful.

For instance, in the case of a hurricane, you can state that the distance to the Gulf of Mexico is instantaneously increasing or decreasing. You cannot predict in detail what it will do, but you can usually rule out possibilities such as the distance of the storm center to Albuquerque ever decreasing to zero. You also cannot attribute any intent or purpose to the hurricane. It is not “seeking” the Gulf the way a human tourist might be said to. Yet, the location of the Gulf is significant to our understanding of hurricanes.

In the case of antibiotic resistance, you can likewise determine whether the level of resistance of some strain to some antibiotic is increasing or not. This kind of thing has been observed even though we are far from understanding all the details. Even though the bacteria have no intent or purpose to developing resistance, we have more reason to look at what happens to antiobiotic resistance than some other property–say a color change due to the presence of some new pigment–for which there is no selective pressure.

What these situations have in common is that while they have no intent or purpose and are subject to much uncertainty, neither are they “random” as assumed in some of the strawman arguments of IDers. Evolution is influenced by uniform random events, but the outcome is not uniform. Obviously, this is old hat to biologists–it’s no concidence for example that marsupials appear to fill similar niches in Australia as placentals do elsewhere in the world. The analogy, as such, was therefore not really pertinent to my point, but I am prepared to defend (possibly with minor corrections) the more precise version of it as put forth above.

Comment #55190

Posted by ag on November 4, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

It is frustrating to argue with the likes of Donald M. Donald uses the device familiar from the writing of Dembski, Cordova, Heddle, etc, which is accusing opponents of “not understanding” their statements. There is not really much to understand, Donald. The simple fact is that Dembski routinely avoids replying to critique in a substantial way but resorts to pejorative remarks about his critics - just look at his “replies” to Wein, Pennock, Erik, Matzke, etc. A list of critics to whom he never replied at all is even longer and this is a fact regardless of Donald’s emotions. All the rest of Donald’s lengthy comments has nothing to do with the subject in point and obviously is aimed at obfuscating the matter.

Comment #55193

Posted by PvM on November 4, 2005 11:52 AM (e)

Sal “I will take a grenade for Uncle Bill so that he does not have to respond to criticism” seems to be willing to further undermine the credibility of ID by making unsubstantiated assertions and accusations based on his limited understanding of what Shallit et al are arguing.

At all cost, “Uncle Bill” needs to be protected from criticism. Fascinating… Even if ID becomes a victim of collateral damage…

Comment #55195

Posted by morbius on November 4, 2005 11:55 AM (e)

My final comment on this silliness:

But I want to add that it would also be a shame if people were afraid to add colorful asides for fear of being pounced on for imprecision.

If you fear being “pounced on”, that’s entirely your own problem. Therapy might help.

Comment #55199

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 4, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

DonaldM,

It’s great seeing you here. I participated because Jeffrey Shallit started posting. Now that he’s gone from this thread, I say adios for now.

I continue the technical discussion regarding the Equivocations of the Anti-IDists at CSI and Evolutionary Algorithms.

Shallit’s TSPGRID was an example of mathematical theatrics. A comparable result, with simpler code would have been achieved with the following program being run for as long as the user wishes:

main () { while(1) printf(“heads “); }

It will generate a highly compressible string which corresponds to Dembski’s statement:

It is CSI that within the Chaitin-Kolmogorov-Solomonoff theory of algorithmic information identifies the highly compressible, nonrandom strings of digits

But I pointed out why there is some invalidity to using computers to “generate” CSI since they are surrogates of intelligent agencies. Shallit’s program was substatially more theatrical than my one line program. I think his mischaracterizations and mangling of Dembski’s work would have been powerfully persuasive for the plaintiff’s side at the Dover trial.

Salvador

Comment #55200

Posted by PaulC on November 4, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

This is why I’m convinced that the real problem that ID critics have isn’t with [Dembski’s] science, but with the metaphysical implications of the science.

Questions of motive are among the most difficult and can be debated endlessly. That’s why I take a different tack to Dembski (as I noted above).

Dembski’s claim goes beyond stating that evolution has not been proven. He purports to have a mathematical proof that evolution cannot do the things it is claimed to do. But I don’t need to read his proof to be convinced he’s a fool or a charlatan.

While people often bemoan the impossibility of “proving a negative” this can sometimes be done in mathematics, usually to great fanfare. For instance, it was open since ancient times whether one could trisect an angle using only the classical geometers’ tools of compass and straightedge. This was famously proved impossible. It’s not just that we haven’t found the way; we know it’s not worth looking because there isn’t one.

Now, as I said, if Dembski could prove the intractability of using a suitably formalized evolutionary system to solve suitably formalized problems of design that humans can solve and which appear in living things, he might under some hypothetical assumptions of a materialist conspiracy meet resistance from biologists who would not give his claims fair attention.

However, he would meet no such resistance from algorithmic theorists and mathematicians, many of whom would find the result quite remarkable, counterintuitive, mind-boggling in implication, and worthy of praise.

The fact that Dembski chooses instead to run a blog with a carefully weeded garden of comments, co-owns a BBQ restaurant, writes books for popular audiences, appears on TV, offers himself as expert witness, etc. – and yet devotes no effort to couching some small portion of his claims in rigorous form, submitting it to mathematicians, and winning wide acclaim deserving of perhaps a Fields medal – is what convinces me that Dembski has no such proof and is therefore worthy of even less positive consideration than theorists of the planted dinosaur bone school of thought.

Comment #55201

Posted by PaulC on November 4, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

If you fear being “pounced on”, that’s entirely your own problem. Therapy might help.

I accept that in the spirit it was obviously delivered, as constructive criticism and not intended as an insult in any way.

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Comment #55202

Posted by PvM on November 4, 2005 12:15 PM (e)

Sal, you still have failed to show any misrepresentations or manglings other than your own ignorance. It’s this appeal to ignorance which makes ID scientifically vacuous and vulnerable to such a ruling in the Dover case.
In other words, your arguments make for excellent case of why ID is scientifically vacuous.

Are you sure you are not an ID-Critic deep down? I used to be a YEC-er and I am personally very aware of the lingering doubt which finally caused me to read up on science and thus reject YECism.
For some this path may be a bit slower as the overwhelming veil of self deception may take a longer time to lift.
I have been there, it was not pretty.
But there is hope

Comment #55204

Posted by jeffw on November 4, 2005 12:55 PM (e)

Shallit’s TSPGRID was an example of mathematical theatrics. A comparable result, with simpler code would have been achieved with the following program being run for as long as the user wishes:

main () { while(1) printf(”heads “); }

And just about all of ID can be summed up in the following program:

void; // wait for supernatural intervention

Doesn’t even compile.

Comment #55210

Posted by AR on November 4, 2005 1:55 PM (e)

In comment 55199 Cordova wrote:

DonaldM,

It’s great seeing you here. I participated because Jeffrey Shallit started posting. Now that he’s gone from this thread, I say adios for now.

I hope this time Salvador means what he writes - without his senseless comments the air will be much cleaner here. The arrogance of this half-literate bloke is amazing: the sites maintained by his friends are closed to opponents of ID, so he uses PT to exchange pleasantries with his fellow brazen defender of Dembski’s shenanigans. Were I a member of the PT team, I’d ban Cordova just for such an insolent escapade. PT team displays a really great tolerance.

Cordova reveals his real motivation for posting in this thread: he did so because Shallit started commenting, so now Salvador will be able to boast that Professor Shallit himself found Salvador’s rants worth answering, hence Salvador’s “critique” has merits. Alas, Salvador, although Professor Shallit kindly responded to your puerile rants, in no way did he even hinted that your screeds had any merits whatsoever. You still may enroll in Waterloo university and take a course or two with Professor Shallit, so maybe after that you’ll start comprehending at least seminal concepts you love to discuss. On the other hand, Dembski once took Shallit’s course, but he does not seem to have comprehended the stuff - perhaps he slept through Shallit’s lectures?

Comment #55213

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 4, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

acerbic co-commentators like ts or morbius

The resemblance is uncanny, isn’t it?

which someone strangely claimed was additional evidence that I “just like to argue”

I made a joke to the effect. What’s the latin for that fallacy?
Which jibe, since pedantry and a sense of humor usually find each other inhabiting a given mind in inverse proportions, was predictably answered with abuse.
So, while Steviepinhead’s comments on the redeeming value of nitpicky arguments are well-received, I maintain that such disputes are most often the product of inflated self-regard on the part of one or the other (or both) of the participants.
Which comes down to narcissists anonymously hijacking public space for their own gratification. And I don’t see any reason to take such people seriously.

Comment #55222

Posted by Donald M on November 4, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

For YEARS now, I have been asking IDers a simple question ——- how, exactly, does one rule out not only all currently existing possible explanations that invoke either chance or natural conditions, but *all possible future explanations that have not even been thought of yet*?
Never got any intelligible answer.
Which leads to: If the first step of Dembski’s filter is “determine if the thing can be explained by a natural law”, and if IDers CANNOT rule out all possible explanations from natural law that have not been thought of yet, then, uh, how can we ever get past the very first step of Dembski’s filter?
If Dembski means, in the first step, determing if there is a CURRENT explanation for a thing, then all we have is “god of the gaps” — “we can’t explain it now, therefore goddidit”.
On the other hand, if Demsbki means, in the first step, determining yhat there is NO POSSIBLE explanation for a thing, then I will once again ask, how do we rule out EVERY POSSIBLE explanation, including all the ones that have not been thought of yet?�?

This betrays an incredible lack of understanding of what the explanatory filter is all about, and also provides further evidence that not one thing Dembski has written about the EF has been read. It is, therefore, disingenuous and misleading to claim that “no intelligible” answer has ever been given to these questions.

I will answer the second part, first. It is a fallacy to demand a “risk free” science. Every hypothesis, theory or law of science is always at empirical risk…always. Welcome to science. To demand that the EF must eliminate not only all current explanations but also every conceivable future one as well, even though they may not be yet known, is to place an unreasonable and unscientific demand on it. Dembski deals with this directly and in detail (despite what the critics say) in Chapter 11 of The Design Revolution. Dembski writes: “The prospect that further knowledge will upset a design inference poses a risk for the EF. But it is a risk endemic to all of scientific inquiry.” The implication in the question posed above is that if it isn’t possible to rule out 100% of all possible undirected causes both known currently and those we might discover in the future, then we can never reasonably infer intelligent cause. That is called ‘stacking the deck’, and it is arbitrary and gratuitous to the practice of science to demand that the EF meet this unwarranted criterion. No other scientific theory is required to meet such a demand.

Which brings me to the first part of the question. Implicit in this whole objection is that ‘gaps’ mean ‘gaps in a chain of natural cause and effect’ where we observe an effect, but do not know the cause. The hidden presupposition here is that all such gaps represent gaps in a naturalistic chain of cause and effect. Where ID is concerned, that means that all such gaps represent gaps in our knowledge of the underlying, undirected natural causes. The presupposition is that eventually all such gaps can and/or will be filled in with reference to undirected natural causes. This is the hidden meaning of the word “explanation”. In the context of the question being asked, it means “explanation with reference to undirected natural causes only.”

But why think that? Unless we know in advance that all such gaps are merely gaps in a chain of undirected natural causes, then the charge of god of the gaps, is unwarranted. Further, this criticism fails to grasp the basic concept that CSI is a reliable marker of intelligence. Whenever we encounter CSI, and the causal history of the artifact exhibiting it is known, intelligence is involved. So why is it problematic to infer intelligence if we observe CSI in a biological artifact where the causal history is not known…a bacterial flagellum, say? Scientifically, of course, it isn’t problematic. It is only problematic on philosophical grounds, which is why I continue to ask: how do we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle? Unless someone comes up with a scientific reason to accept this as true, the ‘god of the gaps’ complaint is so much vapor.

There is one further major issue with these questions. This door, it seems, would have to swing both ways. If it is legitimate (and I’ve already argued that it isn’t) to reject intelligent cause on the grounds that one can’t eliminate all future possible undirected natural cause explanations, then one has effectively argued that evolutionary biology is itself unfalsifiable and immune to empirical risk, and therefore not scientific. If the demand is legitimate in the first case, then it is impossible to exempt evolution from the charge of being virtually unfalsifiable, because the assumption here is that one can not falsify evolution as a chain of undirected natural causes because for any chain where we haven’t filled it all in yet, there is always the possibility that some day, some how, we will come to know it. IDPs sometime refer to this as the always presented but never paid promissory note of evolution. The argument is that we can safely reject ID because, even if we don’t know all the details now, we might someday, so IC and CSI in no way falsify any aspect of evolutionary theory. That is tantamount to admitting evolution is immune to falsification.

The answers to the two questions above are simple and direct:

1. CSI rules out chance and necessity or their combination, and thus any current explanations that invoke them. CSI is always associated with intelligent cause.

2. It is not necessary to do so on the grounds that all scientific hypotheses are at empirical risk to future discoveries. That is the nature of science.

Comment #55226

Posted by Donald M on November 4, 2005 3:37 PM (e)

Donald M said

What I asked was how we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that none of the apparent design we observe throught biological systems can be actual design, even in principle?
So far, no one has provided a scientific answer to that question. No one. Claims of “no evidence” or “they don’t look designed, they look evolved” do not provide a scientific answer to the question, and are merely hand waving assertions.

Rilke’s grandaughter:

You are asking for a universal negative - no such negative exists or can be demonstrated.

The issue here is not whether the various ‘parameters’ and natural laws of the universe cannot be designed, but whether or not there is any evidence that they are. No ID advocate has been able to answer this point.

Well, if you’re correct, and there is no scientific way to eliminate intelligent causes as a factor in the cosmos, then we can focus on the evidence. Contrary to your opinion that “no ID advocate has been able to answer this point”, most of the books and articles written by IDPs is about observational data that indicates design. The way you present the argument here is tantamount to saying there is not a single observation that anyone has made that can be legitimately taken as evidence of intelligent cause. Well, then what would satisfy you as evidence of intelligent cause? And why would that be the only acceptable evidence?

If intelligent cause can not be eliminated, then it is perfectly legitimate AND scientific to ask, what would be indicators or markers of intelligent cause. That leads us to CSI, IC and all the other aspects of ID that the IDPs have been talking about. And note that so stated, this focuses only what is empirically detectable, and therefore well within scientific bounds.

You are correct in pointing out that there is no way to scientifically eliminate intelligent cause, or actual design as a live possibility. The objections to ID, then, rest entirely on philosophical grounds. That is what my question demonstrates clearly.

Comment #55228

Posted by Donald M on November 4, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

ag writes:

It is frustrating to argue with the likes of Donald M. Donald uses the device familiar from the writing of Dembski, Cordova, Heddle, etc, which is accusing opponents of “not understanding” their statements. There is not really much to understand, Donald. The simple fact is that Dembski routinely avoids replying to critique in a substantial way but resorts to pejorative remarks about his critics - just look at his “replies” to Wein, Pennock, Erik, Matzke, etc. A list of critics to whom he never replied at all is even longer and this is a fact regardless of Donald’s emotions. All the rest of Donald’s lengthy comments has nothing to do with the subject in point and obviously is aimed at obfuscating the matter.

I am not trying to frustrate you or anyone else, ag. I am sorry you see it that way. The fact is I do think you mis-read my original reply to you. And contrary to what you write here, I am not trying to obfuscate the matter; I am trying to clarify what is the real issue. It is not, as you and others claim, that Dembski (or any other IDP for that matter) have not, do not or will not make adequate replies to their critics. They have, they do and they will continue to do so. It is that no reply, no matter how detailed, complete, or thoughtful will ever be acceptable to the anti-ID crowd. So, I have to ask “why”? I think the answer is obvious: it is the metaphysical implications of ID that gets everyone’s knickers in a twist. That and only that is the real issue.

Complaints about Dembski’s lack of responses, or inadequate responses or whatever, are what obfuscates the real issue.

Comment #55230

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 4, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

This is the hidden meaning of the word “explanation”. In the context of the question being asked, it means “explanation with reference to undirected natural causes only.”

It’s not “hidden” at all. It’s essential to the very logic of explanation, which insists that to explain a phenomenon is to describe it in terms of well-understood causes, the mechanisms of which are simpler than the phenomenon in question.
Directed, unnatural causes don’t explain anything, being poorly (read: not at all) understood, and by virtue of that, uncertain as to degree of simplicity.

Welcome to the logical underpinnings of science. You’ve got a ways to go to the city limits.

Comment #55231

Posted by Jeremy on November 4, 2005 4:06 PM (e)

Donald M quoted Dembski: “The prospect that further knowledge will upset a design inference poses a risk for the EF. But it is a risk endemic to all of scientific inquiry.”

Translation: Until we have evidence that suggests evolution, we will assume ID.

Sounds like God of the gaps to me.

In fact, your whole post is just one big God of the gaps.

Comment #55233

Posted by PaulC on November 4, 2005 4:21 PM (e)

So, while Steviepinhead’s comments on the redeeming value of nitpicky arguments are well-received, I maintain that such disputes are most often the product of inflated self-regard on the part of one or the other (or both) of the participants.

Detailed criticisms almost always have some value, but they also require effort to address. If I had more self-control, I’d have ignored many of the objections raised to my comments, but under the circumstances, I think I have made a good faith effort to address them. Going back over my writing, I’m satisfied with my explanations.

In the future I’ll probably try a more efficient, though personally aggravating approach when confronted with minor objections by those who’ve used up my attention quota.

Comment #55240

Posted by qetzal on November 4, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

The objections to ID, then, rest entirely on philosophical grounds.

This is arguably true, but not in the way you suggest.

The scientific objection to ID is that it does not usefully and accurately predict future observations. Legitimate scientific hypotheses must make testable predictions about future observations. Legitimate theories must make testable predictions that repeatedly prove to be correct.

ID rarely makes any testable predictions about future observations, and so usually fails to even be a scientific hypothesis. Where ID has occasionally made predictions (e.g. no blood clotting system can function without all of its parts, no plausible evolutionary explanation for the flagellum will ever be found), it has been proved wrong. It thus fails to be a legitimate scientific theory.

It may be fair to say that requiring testable accurate predictions is part of the philosophy of science. In that sense then, ID is being rejected on philosophical grounds.

(Note: I don’t claim that ID never has or never can make useful and accurate predictions. I just don’t know of any. Do you?)

Donald M wrote:

[N]o reply, no matter how detailed, complete, or thoughtful will ever be acceptable to the anti-ID crowd. So, I have to ask “why”? I think the answer is obvious: it is the metaphysical implications of ID that gets everyone’s knickers in a twist. That and only that is the real issue.

No offense, but that’s absurd. At most, it’s the real issue for some in the “anti-ID” crowd.

It’s certainly not the real issue for me, and I assure you that I am “anti-ID.” My objection to ID is that it rarely makes a testable prediction, and when it has, it’s been wrong. I object to ID being called a scientific theory, because it isn’t one. I object to it being taught in public school science classes because it isn’t science. And I object to those who want to force it into science classes to advance their religious agendas.

I do not object to ID because of its metaphysical implications. It’s true that I don’t believe in God. But, if ID could present reasonable scientific evidence for an intelligent designer, I would readily reconsider my belief. I would also withdraw my objection to calling it a scientific theory, and teaching it in science class.

Comment #55249

Posted by pipilangstrumpf on November 4, 2005 6:17 PM (e)

“The objections to ID, then, rest entirely on philosophical grounds.”

That’s because ID is entirely philosophical. There is no Intelligent Design model that corresponds to some aspect of reality. There’s no there there. If it consoles some people whose mental habit is to crave religious or metaphysical certainly, let them quibble the semantic difference between design and merely its appearance. It does not make a shred of scientific difference.

Comment #55265

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:38 PM (e)

This is why I’m convinced that the real problem that ID critics have isn’t with the science, but with the metaphysical implications of the science.

I’ve already asked you to point out which step of the scientific emthod unfairly excludes, in your view, supernatural explanations.

You seem not to have answered.

I also asked you to go ahead and show us how to use the scientific method to test any supernatural hypothesis that you care to cite.

You seem not to have answered.

Of course, I earlerier asked you to tell us (1) who you think knows any moreabout God than anyone else, (2) what he knows that others don’t, and (3) how he knows it.

You seem not to have answered.

I am sensing a pattern here …. …. .

Comment #55266

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

it is the metaphysical implications of ID that gets everyone’s knickers in a twist. That and only that is the real issue.

In other words, Donald’s basic gripe is that “science is atheistic!!!!!”

Donald, does that mean that all those IDers were lying in court, under oath, when they testified that ID is science and has nothing to do with religion?

Oh well, at least Donald is honest enough to admit that ID is all about religious apologetics.

If only Dembski et al were that honest ….

Comment #55267

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

CSI rules out chance and necessity or their combination

How.

When you say it rules them out, do you mean that it:

(1) rules out all CURRENT explanations using chance and/or necessity?

or

(2) it rules out ALL POSSIBLE explanations using chance and/or necessity?

If (1), then how does this differ form “god of the gaps”? Please be as specific as possible.

Oh, and I have some further questions for you about this, Donald (I do realize that you won’t answer, but since my questions make their point whether you answer or not, I don’t really need your cooperation):

Suppose we have a phenomenon X that cannot be explained currently using chance/necessity. So, in accordance with Dembski’s and your god of the gaps argument, we conclude that it was made by a supernatural intelligence.

Suppose though that, ten years from now, we DO find an explanation for X that uses chance and/or necessity.

Does this mean, in your view:

(a) the designer USED to be carrying out X, but stopped as soon as we discovered an explanation for it,

or

(b) the designer was using the chance/necessity process all along,

or

© there never was any designer there to begin with

Is it a, b, or c, Donald. And how can you tell.

If, on the other hand, “ruling out chance and/or necessity” means ruling out ANY POSSIBLE explanation, then please please please by all means explain to me how IDers manage to rule out not only all CURRENT explanations, but also all the FUTURE ones that have not even been thought of yet. How, exactly, are IDers able to determine that not only can science not explain X *now*, but it *absolutely NEVER will*, not ever, ever ever ever.

Please be as specific and detailed about this as possible, Donald.

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, Donald – that’s what I thought.

It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from IDers. (shrug)

Comment #55270

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

I say adios for now.

Bye, Sal.

I, and my questions, will still be here waiting when you return.

Comment #55271

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

What I asked was how we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that none of the apparent design we observe throught biological systems can be actual design, even in principle?
So far, no one has provided a scientific answer to that question. No one.

Gee, and YOU seem not to have provided a scientific answer to my question about the fleet of invisible elves in orbit around Pluto, Donald.

Why is that?

Got some evidence to show that this apparent design is real? Then let’s see it. Put up or shut up. Until then, you’re just making assertions that you can’t back up. Exactly as *I* am with my assertions about Plutonic elves. (shrug)

Comment #55272

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 8:00 PM (e)

I am trying to clarify what is the real issue.

Donald, since you already know that I am not an atheist (and neither are many evolutionary biologists), you already know that your “real issue” is in fact a non-issue. (shrug)

In other words, Donald, you are flat-out lying to us. Deliberately, calculatingly, and with malice aforethought.

Comment #55398

Posted by shiva on November 5, 2005 9:57 PM (e)

Donald M
Claims of “no evidence” or “they don’t look designed, they look evolved” do not provide a scientific answer to the question, and are merely hand waving assertions.

Don’t wave your hands into a blur Donald M. You will have to do much more than to serve up some baloney like, it’s designed because it looks designed. First of all offer an operational definition of CSI (not Crime Scene Investigation) qithout using the words complex, specified or information, next demonstrate CSI experimentally. In case you have forgotten experiments are those things that scientists conduct; not blather that quacks, cranks and fakes get paid fat bucks for.

Comment #55402

Posted by PvM on November 5, 2005 10:59 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

If intelligent cause can not be eliminated, then it is perfectly legitimate AND scientific to ask, what would be indicators or markers of intelligent cause. That leads us to CSI, IC and all the other aspects of ID that the IDPs have been talking about. And note that so stated, this focuses only what is empirically detectable, and therefore well within scientific bounds.

Several problems, intelligent cause can never really be eliminated as an explanation. Secondly, CSI and IC are not really reliable indicators of intelligent cause.
ID all boils down to: IF not explained by law or chance (thus complex) AND if specified (in other words it has a function) THEN designed

Donald wrote:

You are correct in pointing out that there is no way to scientifically eliminate intelligent cause, or actual design as a live possibility. The objections to ID, then, rest entirely on philosophical grounds. That is what my question demonstrates clearly.

On the contrary, since ID claims to be scientifically relevant and since you agree that there is no way to scientifically eliminate intelligent causes, ID remains scientifically vacuous since ID presents no methods to detect intelligent causes other than through elimination, no positive evidence is presented.
ID is rejected on scientific grounds exactly because it cannot be eliminated as a possibility. After all, what constrains the intelligent designer? What were the motives, means, opportunities? What pathways, mechanisms were chosen? Poof?….

ID is scientifically vacuous and scientifically flawed in its claims about CSI and IC.

Simple as that

Comment #55403

Posted by PvM on November 5, 2005 11:03 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

If only it were that simple. Richard Wein wrote some 37,000 word “rebuttal” to Dembski’s book No Free Lunch.(it is my understanding that that article is now archived somewhere on Talk.Origins.) In response, Dembski wrote Obsessively Criticized but Scarcely Refuted: A Response to Richard Wein. And The Fantasy Life of Richard Wein. To say that Dembski “hasn’t done much to answer their critques” and that he only calls them “obsessed” is simply false. Dembski’s website has a long list of articles with detailed responses to several of his critics.

Volume does not mean content Donald. While you are right that Dembski ‘responded’ to his critics, he hardly addressed their objections. But to the average ID supporter, it may appear that Dembski addressed their critiques.

Show an example where Dembski shows a detailed application of his filter to a non-trivial problem for instance?

Oh the sound of silence is music to my ears.

Comment #55406

Posted by shiva on November 5, 2005 11:36 PM (e)

BillD’s response to Wien’s paper on bacterial flagella marks him out as a fraud extraordinaire. BillD lost all claim to scientific legintimacy about three years back after he was trounced in writing and in debates. His connections with the world of science came to an end about then. Since then he has been inflating himself with trhe help of a vast crowd of factotums. This is exactly the sort of response that would lead an IDC defending lawyer to ask BillD to step down. There isn’t any consideration of the numerous points and references in the paper; only a long whine about how many references it contains. BillD clearly shows that he understands nothing about the biology and simply blwoing hot air. Since Donald M says you can’t eliminate ID ever produce it now. And then define intelligence.

Comment #55409

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 6, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

Answer my questions, Donald. Don’t be like Sal and Nelson.

Comment #55410

Posted by PvM on November 6, 2005 1:46 AM (e)

Remember, Bill is not a biologist. His work clearly shows how unfamiliar he is with science especially evolutionary science (just read his paper on human evolution for a good laugh). Even his math was compared to ‘written in Jello’ by another mathematician.
Bill had the opportunity to take ID to the mainstream via the Polayni center at Baylor but his Waterloo comments destroyed it all.
Must be hard to be so close to having it all and then losing it all. Well, at least he has his theology position at the southern baptist seminary. But that hardly compares to what he could have been.
Now everyone who is critical of his work misunderstands him or misrepresents him, but what amazes me is that despite many documented cases of errors on his part, Dembski seems to be unable to admit to any error.
Fascinating…

Comment #55437

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 6, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

Donald replied to me:

Well, if you’re correct, and there is no scientific way to eliminate intelligent causes as a factor in the cosmos, then we can focus on the evidence.

Not only can we not eliminate intelligent causes, we know of existing intelligent causes. Humans, for example. Crows. Beavers. Ants (sort of). No one is actually claiming that no intelligent designers exist - we do, however claim that no one has shown evidence that any intelligent designers other than the ones we’re currently aware of exist.

Contrary to your opinion that “no ID advocate has been able to answer this point”, most of the books and articles written by IDPs is about observational data that indicates design.

Do you actually enjoy making factually incorrect statements? No IDP has ever presented evidence of design. Ever. Dembski’s filter has never been applied; Behe has not even offered anything other than personal incredulity. There is NO OBSERVATIONAL DATA THAT INDICATES DESIGN OFFERED BY ANY IDP.

You can always prove me wrong - you can point to the research. Hint: you won’t be able to do so.

The way you present the argument here is tantamount to saying there is not a single observation that anyone has made that can be legitimately taken as evidence of intelligent cause.

Factually incorrect.

Well, then what would satisfy you as evidence of intelligent cause? And why would that be the only acceptable evidence?

Evidence of designers would be evidence of design. And until you demonstrate the actual inadequacy of evolutionary mechanisms to produce complexity, order, etc. you’ve got nothing on your side except personal disbelief - which is valueless in establishing science.

If intelligent cause can not be eliminated, then it is perfectly legitimate AND scientific to ask, what would be indicators or markers of intelligent cause.

Sure. And none of the ID advocates has managed to establish a single, reliable marker of ID. Not one.

That leads us to CSI, IC and all the other aspects of ID that the IDPs have been talking about.

All of which can be shown to be the product of unintelligent algorithms.

You’re operating on faith here - faith that the IDPs have actually said something meaningful. They haven’t. And you haven’t noticed it yet. Behe himself admits that evolutionary mechanisms can produce IC structures. He admits it in DBB. Dembski has never shown that anything possesses CSI. Ever. And from an ‘intellectual’ point of view, they’re all the ID movement has got.

And note that so stated, this focuses only what is empirically detectable, and therefore well within scientific bounds.

But they would have to actually show it. And they haven’t.

Show me the actual research in which Dembski demonstrates the CSI of something. Show me the actual point where Behe proves that IC means ‘didn’t evolve.’

They don’t exist.

You are correct in pointing out that there is no way to scientifically eliminate intelligent cause, or actual design as a live possibility.

Right. It’s unfalsifiable. It’s not science, therefore.

The objections to ID, then, rest entirely on philosophical grounds.

Absolutely false. The objections rest on the grounds that it’s (a) vacuous, and (b) motivated by religious beliefs.

That is what my question demonstrates clearly.

Yup. It sure doesn’t.

There is NO theory of ID.
There is NO research demonstrating ID.
There is NO informed atheist who supports ID.
There is NO there there (as another poster said).

Comment #55438

Posted by Jim Harrison on November 6, 2005 4:53 PM (e)

If God indeed designed the world, every object in the world is an instance of design. No particular object can serve as evidence for design since a cow pat is as contrived as a cat or a watch. Arguments from analogy are illegitimate if there is no instance of an undesigned object.

Of course those of us who have been paying attention know that somethings are not designed, some have been shaped by natural selection, some have been designed by animals that have been shaped by natural selection, and some have been designed by machines that were themselves designed by animals that have been shaped by natural selection. We’re within our rights to make an analogy between human design and natural selection or between natural selection and computer design programs.

Comment #55439

Posted by Russell on November 6, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

This might be another thread where I might pose my request of the Dembski defenders yet again.

Please point to one serious academic in any relevant field (mathematics, statistics, information theory, biology…) who has given any of Dembski’s published work a positive review.

[cue crickets]

Comment #82571

Posted by CJ O'Brien on February 27, 2006 7:48 PM (e)

Th’weirdest sounding crickets I ever did hear…