Nick Matzke posted Entry 1619 on October 29, 2005 03:24 PM.
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William Dembski has a peculiar post up in which he says,

Ask yourself why, after submitting almost 200 pages of materials against me in his expert witness report and after submitting to a deposition with the Thomas More Law Center in July, Jeffrey Shallit did not take the witness stand in Dover for the plaintiffs. Answer: his obsessiveness against me and ID made him a liability to the ACLU. If you don’t believe me, go here and here.

Um, Shallit was called as a “rebuttal expert”. The plaintiffs and defense each announced six expert witnesses on April 1, 2005. One month later, rebuttal experts were announced. The defense announced Steve Fuller and Stephen Meyer (director of the Discovery Institute ID program). Plaintiffs announced Jeff Shallit. However, Dembski dropped out of the case (or was withdrawn, or something – see the October 29 squabble at the American Enterprise Institute between the Discovery Institute and Thomas More Law Center about the withdrawal of Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell, online at NCSE). Without Dembski testifying, Shallit had no one to rebut, since his expert report specifically addresses Dembski’s arguments.

Speaking of withdrawing experts…

…so far only 2 of the 7 “intelligent design” experts have actually testified in the Kitzmiller case. Scott Minnich is the only one still on the schedule. The situation is yet another parallel between Kitzmiller and the 1981 “creation science” case McLean v. Arkansas. Just after the McLean trial ended, Roger Lewin wrote in Science:

“The attorney general presented six science witnesses, two more than had testified for the ACLU, presumably on the grounds that quantity made up for evident lack of quality. There would have been more had not a serious case of disappearing witnesses set in as the second week wore on. Dean Kenyon, a biologist from San Francisco State University, fled town after watching the demolition of four of the state’s witnesses on day 1 of the second week. And Henry Voss, a computer scientist from California, was rapidly withdrawn at the last minute when, in pretrial deposition, he too began to expound on things satanic and demonical.”

(p. 34 of: Roger Lewin, 1982, “Creationism on the Defensive in Arkansas.” Science, 215(4528), pp. 33-34, January 1, 1982.)

Dean Kenyon, of course, went on to write the pro-“creation science” affidavit in the Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard (reproduced below – note how similar “creation science” has become to the later “intelligent design” by 1986), and at the same time Kenyon was coauthoring the creat–err, intelligent design book Of Pandas and People.

And here we are, today, in court in Harrisburg, PA, debating the constitutionality of Of Pandas and People.

There is one major difference between the two trials: apparently only two, rather than five, defense witnesses pulled out in the creation science trial.


One last eerie historical parallel. In the Science article mentioned above, Roger Lewin describes the testimony of creation scientist Robert Gentry:

Defense witness Robert Gentry, a physicist associated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, brought the trial to a close with 4 hours of excrutiating detail about an anomalous result in the radiometric dating of the age of the earth that Dalrymple had described as “a tiny mystery.”

Judge Overton left the bench at 10:46 on Thursday, still holding his head from Gentry’s massive presentation. He retired to his chambers without fulfilling his pretrial premise to rule from the bench. “I have 300 pages of notes to review,” he said by way of explanation. “I shall make my decision known in about a week.” Whatever the practicalities of the matter, it had become apparent that a hasty decision would have been politically unwise.

The rest, as they say, is history.

(p. 34 of: Roger Lewin, 1982, “Creationism on the Defensive in Arkansas.” Science, 215(4528), pp. 33-34, January 1, 1982.)

History it may be, but I just heard that Robert Gentry is coming to Harrisburg, PA to speak on the evening of Wednesday, November 2. Perhaps he wants a another crack at it in the courtroom?

(Below is Dean Kenyon’s “creation science” affidavit submitted for the creationist side in Edwards v. Aguillard.)


[Plain text captured from scanned document by Nick Matzke. Text produced by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) followed by manual correction. Formatting, such as bold and italics, is not preserved.]



Plaintiffs, ) CIVIL ACTION
v. ) No. 81-4787
Defendants. )


COUNTY OF SAN MATE0 ) [R.D. 7 7 Ex. 1]

I, DEAN H. KENYON, make the following free and voluntary statement, after being duly sworn, and state on oath as follows:

A. Personal

1. Name. My name is DEAN H. KENYON, and I reside in San Mateo County, California, I am a biologist.

2. General. I make this Affidavit with the understanding that it is to be used in the above-styled case. All statements herein are within my personal knowledge (including the types of knowledge on which experts in my field typically rely in forming expert opinions on the subject). I am competent to testify to the facts recited in this Affidavit.

B. Academic Credentials

3. Academic Background. My Ph.D. degree was earned in biophysics from Stanford University in 1965, and my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Chicago in physics in 1961. In 1965 and 1966 I did postdoctoral study as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley in the chemical origins of life, performing original experimentation on the origin of life. I served as a Visiting Scholar at Trinity College of Oxford University in 1974, on the subject of the reception of Darwinism in England. [2]

4. Professional Positions. I am a full Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, and have been such since 1974. I was an Assistant Professor from 1966 to 1969, and an Associate Professor from 1969 through 1974. I have taught undergraduate courses on the origin of life, evolution, the Darwinian revolution, introductory biophysics, cell biology, human biology, history of biology, and bioethics; and graduate school courses or seminars in biogenesis, cellular biophysics, photobiology, comparative biochemistry, carcinogenesis, biomagnetism, and biological effects of gravity.

5. Publications. I published a book entitled Biochemical Predestination in 1969, along with G. Steinman, which argued in favor of biochemical evolution. The Preface to the Russian edition was written by A. I. Oparin, an international expert in the field. Based on my original research on biochemical evolution, I have published numerous articles on or related to the subject in such publications as Photochemistry and Photobiology, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics Quarterly, Enzymologia, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Science (Book Review), Origins of Life, Journal of Molecular Evolution, and a chapter in The Origin of Life and Evolutionary Biochemistry.

C. Summary

6. Scientific Nature of Creation-Science and Evolution. It is my professional opinion, based on my original research, study, and teaching, that creation-science is as scientific as evolution, although it currently does not have the benefit of the volume of research that has been carried out under evolutionist presuppositions. It is my conviction that if any professional biologist will take adequate time to examine carefully the assumptions upon which the macroevolutionary doctrine rests, and the observational and laboratory evidence that bears on the problem of origins, he/she will conclude that there are substantial reasons for doubting the truth of this doctrine. Moreover, I believe that a scientifically sound creationist view of origins is not only possible, but is to be preferred over the evolutionary view.

7. Nonreligious Nature Of Creation-Science and Evolution. It is my opinion, although not in the area of my expertise, that creation-science is as nonreligious as evolution.

8. Educational Value of Creation-Science and Evolution. It is also my conclusion that balanced presentation of creation-science and evolution is educationally valuable, and in fact is more educationally valuable than indoctrination in just the viewpoint of evolution. Presentation of alternate scientific explanations has educational benefit, and balanced presentation of creation-science and evolution does exactly that. Creation-science can indeed be taught in the classroom in a strictly scientific sense, and a text[3]book can present creation-science in a strictly scientific sense, either as a supplement or as part of a balanced presentation text.

D. Definitions of Creation-Science and Evolution.

9. Definitions of Creation-Science and Evolution. Creation-science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex form, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation (or chemical creation), and cosmic creation. Evolution-science is equivalent to evolution. Evolution is generally understood by scientists (although some would disagree) to include biological evolution (or organic evolution) from simple life to all plants and animals, biochemical evolution (or chemical evolution or prebiotic evolution of the first life), and cosmic evolution (including stellar evolution) (of the universe) . Creation-science does not include as essential parts the concepts of catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life, from nothingness (ex nihilo), the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts. The subject of origins is a part of evolution, and the origin of the first life and tre-origin of the universe are generally regarded by the scientific community as part of evolution.

10. Sole Alternative to Scientific Explanations. It is not only my professional opinion but that of many leading evolutionist scientists, at present and in the past, that creation-science and evolution are the sole scientific alternative scientific explanations, although each includes a variety of approaches. Either plants and animals evolved from one or more initial living forms (biological evolution), or they were created (biological creation). Either the first life evolved from nonliving molecules (biochemical evolution), or it was created (biochemical creation). Either the universe evolved from the big bang or other initial state (cosmic evolution), or it was created (cosmic creation). Although some individuals hold to “theistic evolution” and other viewpoints, either these viewpoints are approaches under evolution or creation-science or they combine elements of evolution with elements of creation-science.

E. Comparable Scientific Nature of The Concepts of Biological Creation and Biological Evolution

11. Introduction. We tend too easily to forget that creationist views of origins predominated in scientific circles before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 (Gillespie 1979). The leading scientists of Europe and the United States were creationist scientists, and they defended their views with scientific evidence and argument. Examples include Sir Richard Owen, Baron Georges Cuvier and Louis Agassiz, who each made outstanding contributions to his field (Eiseley 1958). After 1859 many scientists came to accept Darwin’s naturalistic view of origins, although Owen, Agassiz and others resisted the new doctrine (Cuvier died in 1832). Gradually, creationist scientific interpretations of nature all but disappeared from university science courses.[4]

12. Creationist Scientists and Scientific Data. Although students generally hear only one side on the origins question, increasing numbers of scientists are now abandoning evolution for a new scientific version of creationism. Creationist scientists now number in the hundreds, possibly in the thousands, in the States and in other countries. This extraordinary development, I believe, has resulted largely from analysis of new scientific data not available to Darwin (or to his followers until relatively recently), especially chemical information bearing on the origin of first life and paleontological and other information bearing on biological origins. In sum, biological creation is scientific, and in fact is scientifically stronger than biological evolution.

1. Biological Evolution

13. Macroevolution and Microevolution. Macroevolution is evolutionary change above the species level, including the alleged transformation from unicellular organisms to invertebrates, to vertebrate fish, to amphibians, to reptiles, to birds and mammals, to primates, to humans (biological macroevolution). Microevolution is change within local populations at or below the species level. Creationist scientists do not dispute, but accept, microevolution. In fact creationist scientists regard much of what Darwin wrote to be basically correct. Moreover, they acknowledge the validity of most of the research described in the journals of evolutionary biology. Outside the subject of evolution, there is substantial agreement between the two sides on at least 90% of the subject matter of the biological sciences. So there is the basis for a mature and productive discussion of the origins question, outside as well as inside the classroom.

14. Paleontological Considerations. Fossils are the only direct evidence we have that bears on the question of whether macroevolution actually happened. Charles Darwin and T. H. Huxley were well aware of the absence of transition forms in the fossil record known in their day. In On the Origin of Species Darwin wrote:

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this is perhaps the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geologic record (1859:280).

Darwin went to great lengths to explain why he thought the fossil record was highly fragmentary and incomplete. But the early Darwinians expected many of the gaps to be filled in the future paleontological work.[5]

15. Adequacy of the Fossil Record. Over 120 years of paleontological research have not provided any significant number of “missing links,” and there are reasons for doubting the transition status of those few that have been found. We now have about 250,000 fossil species (Raup 1979) which may represent at least 1% of all the species that ever lived. Since some paleontologists now consider the fossil record to be reasonably complete (Stanley 1979:1), evolutionists are faced with a disturbing dilemma. Either macroevolution did not occur, or it occurred in such a way that it left no direct evidence of having occurred.

16. Archaeopteryx as Best Link. In response to the above line of reasoning evolutionists state that Archaeopteryx clearly demonstrates the macroevolutionary transition from reptiles to birds. In fact, they say, Archaeopteryx is the best example of a transition form in the vertebrate fossil record. It had teeth and a bony tail, both “reptilian characters,” as well as true feathers, a feature restricted to birds. But Archaeopteryx was very likely capable of powered fligh [sic] judging from its relatively massive furcula and the asymmetric rachis of its primary flight feathers (Feduccia and Tordoff 1979; Olson and Feduccia 1979). Other fossil birds had teeth, although they are present in no modern form. Moreover, some reptiles do not have teeth. There is really no compelling reason for not considering Archaeopteryx an extinct true bird. Thus the gap between reptiles and birds will remain unbridged until such time as a fossil reptile with the beginnings of feathers may be found. The other macroevolutionary gaps in the vertebrate fossil record, including those in the so-called “horse series,” are all as large or larger than the gap between reptiles and birds.

17. Punctuated Equilibrium. Given the choice presented by the fossil data, increasing numbers of evolutionists are adopting a new version of evolutionary theory (Gould 1977, 1980; Gould and Eldredge 1977). This new view is in sharp contrast to Darwin’s belief that virtually all natural populations were slowly evolving continuously. Suddenly, for unknown reasons, small peripherally isolated populations of a given species rapidly evolved into new species, only a few of which survive, perhaps only one. The successful new species expand their numbers and remain in stasis for long periods of time during which the probability of their fossilization is quite high. But during the actual transition from one category of organism to another the evolving populations are so small and so rapidly changing that they do not leave any fossils to document the transition. In other words, in this new theory, it is postulated that the macroevolutionary process is such that it leaves no direct evidence of its occurrence. Thus we cannot hope to find the evidence we need to substantiate the theory! This odd idea is punctuated equilibria.

18. Comparative Anatomical Considerations. The striking anatomical similarities, e.g., in skeletal structure, among the vertebrates are interpreted by evolutionists to be indications of[6] common ancestry. Indeed such morphological comparisons have long been the basis for the classification of organisms. Creationists, on the other hand, see the same data as evidence of a common structural plan or of basic conditions for life.

19. Comparative Biochemical Considerations. In recent years anatomical comparisons have been supplemented by comparative studies of proteins and nucleic acids isolated from a wide variety of species. Many evolutionists believe that this new molecular information is potentially more powerful than the older method of working out the presumed phylogeny of organisms. For example, phylogenetic trees have been constructed on the basis of comparative amino acid sequence data for the protein, cytochrome c, and on the basis of nucleotide sequences in DNA (Dobzhansky et al. 1977; 281-303). Such “molecular trees” have generally been broadly consistent with those based on comparative anatomy. But there are some impressive anomalies. Molecular trees do not provide independent or persuasive evidence for evolution.

20. Other Considerations. Macroevolutionists also generally raise arguments on the basis of phylogenetic reconstruction classification, comparative embryology, population genetics, and artificial selection. Besides punctuated equilibria, other schools of macroevolutionist thought are neo-Darwinism’s synthesis and in years past classical Darwinism. In contrast to these, many transformed cladists and non-Darwinians question macroevolution, and anti-evolutionists repudiate it. Another important issue is the mechanism of evolution, including (depending on the viewpoint of the evolutionist) some of the following factors: natural selection, mutation, genetic recombination, migration, and genetic drift, under the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Creationist scientists challenge that any or all of these factors can produce or explain macroevolution. A final critical issue is the alleged stages of macroevolution: from unicellular organisms to invertebrates, to vertebrate fish, to amphibians, to reptiles, to birds and mammals, to primates, to humans. Creationist scientists find the scientific evidence to undermine macroevolution and to support biological creation better at each stage.

21. Conclusion. Biological evolution is not compelling, and in fact is less scientifically plausible than biological creation.

2. Biological Creation

22. Introduction. The concept of biological creation is scientific, in my professional opinion, and is supported by affirmative scientific evidence and , scientific interpretations thereof.

23. Paleontological (Fossil) Considerations. The fossil record reflects systematic gaps between categories of organisms.[7] Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould wrote:

The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils (1977:14).

The gaps are systematic, and occur down to the species level (Cf. Eldredge 1980). We now have vastly more fossil species than were known in Darwin’s day, and yet the gaps have not been filled in. Not only does the fossil record exhibit systematic gaps, most fossil forms appear abruptly in the record, remain essentially unchanged for millions of years (assuming the conventional chronology to be correct), and then abruptly disappear (Gould 1977; Stanley 1979:99-100). This extraordinary situation directly supports creation-science.

24. Morphological (Structural) Considerations. Most populations of organisms at any given time are in stasis or genetic equilibrium, as the fossil record indicates. Extreme examples of stasis are the so-called “living fossils” such as coelacanths, horseshoe crabs, and Kakabekia. This rather systematic similarity of fossil forms to their modern descendants supports biological creation.

25. Information Content Considerations. The available evidence indicates that biologic information in polynucleotides (DNA and RNA) must have been impressed on these polymers from the “outside,” as discussed below. Similarly, we would expect that the new information required for the origin of significantly more complex new species, genera, families, etc., cannot originate by naturalistic means. It is of course possible that new species, genera, and occasionally even families, may have arisen by natural means since the occurrence(s) of creation, provided that the new forms did not contain significantly more genetic information than their progenitors. Examples here might include Darwin’s finches (some of which are known to interbreed in the wild leaving fertile offspring) (Bowman 1982), and the thousands of species of orchids. But changes involving significant increases in complexity and biologic information, such as the presumed, naturalistic transitions from unicellular organisms to invertebrates, fish to amphibians, or reptiles to mammals, are much more problematic. The vast information content of organisms is best explained by creation-science as Hoyle and Wickramasinghe point out (quoted in paragraph 40).

26. Genetic Considerations. Since Darwin’s time evolutionists have argued that genetic variations among the individuals of a population, plus natural selection operating over thousands of generations, can result in macroevolutionary changes in evolving[8] lineages. The basic assumption is that genomes can vary in an essentially unlimited way, so that among the viable variants there will be those that contain at least the beginnings of the genetic information required to build significant new anatomical structures. But we cannot demonstrate that this is the case. Virtually nothing is known about the presumed genetic mechanism of speciation (Lewontin 1974:12; Cf. King and Wilson 1975).

What we do know appears to be more consistent with the view that genomes can only vary within limits corresponding roughly to the level of genera or families, but possibly narrower depending upon the genome (species) in question. And let us dispose of a common misconception. The complete transmutation of even one animal species into a different species has never been directly observed either in the laboratory or in the field. All such attempts have ultimately proven fruitless, although in the case of fruit flies some degree of reproductive isolation of laboratory subpopulations has been achieved (Thoday and Gibson 1962). The field studies reported in the evolutionary journals involve microe volutionary [sic] change, about which there is no dispute. In any case, even though we may have strong doubts about macroevolution because of the conclusions we have drawn concerning the origin of life, the issue must be decided on the basis of additional evidence.

27. Comparative Unrelatedness Considerations. The fields of classification, comparative anatomy, and comparative biochemistry have so many anomalies from evolutionary expectations as better to support the unrelatedness and separate origin of genera or families of organisms. For example, a comparison of amino acid sequences of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) from several species showed (on the evolutionary view) that amphibians and mammals are more closely related than reptiles and mammals (King and Millar 1979). There are inconsistencies in other molecular trees as well, for example, in the tree based on cytochrome c (Ayala 1978). Molecular trees based on different substances should at least be consistent with one another.

Colin Patterson (1981) of the British Museum of Natural History maintains that molecular data do not lead to a clear understanding of phylogeny, but rather, in many cases, to “antiknowledge.” Comparative sequence data for a given protein or nucleic acid can generate, with the help of a suitable computer program (i.e., one massaged with evolutionary theory), a number of different trees. The “correct” tree is often selected by noting which one most nearly matches the tree based on comparative anatomy. Moreover, different proteins may give rise to different trees. Again the “correct” tree is determined by prior “knowledge” of evolutionary relationships. Creationist scientists believe that the “inconsistencies” among the trees reflect the fact that the basic genera or families of living organisms were separately created. They also point out that in order for proteins isolated from different organisms to be identified as the same type of protein, they must[9] share much of their amino acid sequences in common. So similarity of sequence does not necessarily imply common ancestry, but may reflect common requirements of engineering design.

28. Conclusion. These scientific considerations constitute the core of biological creation, and show it to be scientific and, in fact, more scientifically plausible than biological macroevolution.

F. Scientific Nature of The Concepts of Biochemical Creation and Biochemical Evolution

1. Biochemical Evolution

29. Introduction. Today we have a large body of chemical information bearing on the problem of the origin Of life. It generally supports biochemical creation and undercuts biochemical evolution.

30. The Haldane-Oparin Hypothesis. The basis of modern experimental work on chemical origins of life is the Haldane-Oparin hypothesis (Kenyon and Steinman 1969:26-28). The Russian biochemist A. I. Oparin (1924, 1938) and the English biochemist J. B. S. Haldane (1929) proposed that the first living cells arose by a long, multistage process of prebiological chemical (or biochemical) evolution beginning with the simple gases of the Earth’s early atmosphere. Molecular oxygen (02) was presumed to have been absent. Various sources of energy, such as ultraviolet rays from the sun, the electrical energy of lightning, heat and radioactivity were thought to have caused the gases to react to form more complex organic substances such as amino acids, sugars, purines and pyrimidines. These substances, i.e., biomohomers, presumably accumulated in the primeval oceans forming an “organic soup” (Oparin 1957). Biomonomers presumably linked together to form the first proteins, nucleic acids and other biopolymers. The next stage in this hypothetical complexification of carbon compounds involved the aggregation of polymer molecules into microscopic units called “protocells.” Competition among the protocells presumably led to the formation of the first living cells (Oparin 1957:301-341).

31. Assumptions. Some of the assumptions of the Haldane-Oparin hypothesis are as follows: (1) The Earth’s primitive atmosphere either contained no molecular oxygen, or only trace amounts of it. This assumption is especially important since 02 would have prevented any significant chemical evolution from the primitive gases to more complex compounds. (2) Large amounts of biomonomers accumulated on the surface of the primitive Earth in spite of the fact that the energy sources that promoted their synthesis from the primitive gases would even more effectively have destroyed them. (3) The “preference” of living matter for L-amino acids (rather than the mirror image D-amino acids) and for D-sugars must have developed[10] during the overall process of chemical evolution. Proteins are built out of L-amino acids exclusively, and only D-sugars occur in the nucleic acids. (4) Substantial amounts Of primitive proteins and nucleic acids accumulated on the primitive Earth. (5) Some of the molecules in protocells contained biologic, i.e., genetic, information.

32. The Miller Experiments. In order to test the Haldane-Oparin hypothesis, Stanley Miller enclosed methane, ammonia, water vapor, and molecular hydrogen in a closed glass apparatus to simulate the hypothetical primitive atmosphere of the Earth (Miller 1953). The gases were supplied with a source of energy (electric discharge) and the chemical products were analyzed. Miller found some of the amino acids which occur in proteins. Subsequent work by Miller and many others has demonstrated the formation of small amounts of numerous organic compounds, including many simple biochemicals (Miller and Orgel 1974). In some experiments microscopic “protocell” units have been formed (Fox and Dose 1977; Kenyon and Nissenbaum 1976).

33. Problems with Assumptions about Early Atmosphere. Most of the assumptions of the Haldane-Oparin hypothesis are inconsistent with available evidence. For example, we now have evidence from some of the oldest rocks that the Earth’s primitive atmosphere had significant amounts of 02 (Clemmey and Badham 1982; Dimroth and Kimberley 1976).

34. Problems with Assumptions about Primordial Soup. Moreover, we have no geologic evidence for the existence of an “organic soup” (Corliss et al. 1981; Nissenbaum et al. 1975). It is likely that any biochemicals formed in the primitive atmosphere or oceans would have been destroyed by the very energy sources which formed them (Hulett 1969; Hull 1960).

35. Problems with Assumptions of Experiments. Only tiny amounts of biochemicals are formed in the Miller experiments, but a substantial fraction of the methane is converted to products (Miller and Orgel 1974). Most (60-80%) of the reacted carbon forms a nonbiological amber goo coating the inside of the apparatus (Folsome 1979; Folsome et al. 1975). This material represents the dominant trend of the chemistry in these experiments. Biopolymers, such as proteins and nucleic acids, are not detectable in the apparatus.

Most of the experimental conditions in such studies have been so artifically simplified as to have virtually no bearing on any actual processes that might have taken place on the primitive earth. For example, if one wishes to find a possible prebiotic mechanism of condensation of free amino acids to polypeptides, it is not likely that sugars or aldehydes would be added to the reaction mixture. And yet, how likely is it that amino acids (or any other presumed precursor substance) occurred anywhere on the primitive earth free from contaminating substances, either in solution[ll] or the solid state? The difficulty is that if sugars or aldehydes were also present polypeptides would not form. Instead an interfering cross-reaction would occur between amino acids and sugars to give complex, insoluble polymeric material of very dubious relevance to chemical evolution. This problem of potentially interfering cross-reactions has been largely neglected in much of the published work on the chemical origins of life. Other aspects of origin-of-life research have contributed to my growing uneasiness about the theory of chemical evolution. One of these is the enormous gap between the most complex “protocell” model systems produced in the laboratory and the simplest living cells. Anyone familiar with the ultrastructural and biochemical complexity of the genus Mycoplasma, for example, should have serious doubts about the relevance of any of the various laboratory “protocells” to the actual historical origin of cells. In my view, the possibility of closing this gap by laboratory simulation of chemical events likely to have occurred on the primitive earth is extremely remote. Another intractable problem concerns the spontaneous origin of the optical isomer preferences found universally in living matter.

36. Problem of Origin of Information Content. Finally, in this brief summary of the reasons for my growing doubts that life on earth could have begun spontaneously by purely chemical and physical means, there is the problem of the origin of genetic, i.e., biologically relevant, information in biopolymers. No experimental system yet devised has provided the slightest clue as to how biologically meaningful sequences of subunits might have originated in prebiotic polynucleotides or polypeptides. Evidence for some degree of spontaneous sequence ordering has been published, but there is no indication whatsoever that the non-randomness is biologically significant. Until such evidence is forthcoming one certainly cannot claim that the possibility of a naturalistic origin of life has been demonstrated.

2. Biochemical Creation

37 . Introduction. The creationist scientific conclusion is that empirical data currently in hand demand the inference that the first living organisms were created. This view of the origin of life is based on a detailed analysis of laboratory information from molecular biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, the simulation experiments on chemical evolution, as well as relevant aspects of physics, geology, astrophysics, probability and information theory.

38. Information Content. At the heart of the molecular activity of all living cells is the genetic coding and protein-synthesizing machinery which stores and translates biologic information. This information is contained in the specific linear sequences of the subunits of DNA, RNA and proteins. At least 20 different proteins are required for the replication of DNA. At least another 50 proteins are needed to transcribe and translate[l2] the information stored in the DNA molecules into the amino acid sequences of proteins (J. Fox 1978; Sheeler and Bianchi 1980). Among these proteins are the aminoacylsynthetases, the enzymes that link the various amino acids to their respective transfer RNA molecules. In the absence of even one of these enzymes, protein synthesis does not take place. The genetic code is actually read by the aminoacylsynthetases since they match an amino acid with its own transfer-RNA molecule. If we go back into the past to the first time the protein-synthesizing machinery functioned, we are faced with the problem of the origin of the necessary aminoacylsynthetases. Where did the proteins come from before the protein-synthesizing system originated? One can postulate that the necessary proteins formed abiotically in the primitive ocean, but there is virtually no experimental evidence for such a postulate. Another suggestion is that prebiotic DNA (or RNA) molecules that just happened to contain the biologic information for the synthesis of all the basic proteins of the living state spontaneously formed and were present in the same protocell. But again, the odds against such a process having occurred are overwhelmingly large, and experimental data are lacking.

39. Analogy. At this point it will be helpful to mention the oft-cited analogy between biologic information and printing. The statement that functional polynucleotides (nucleic acids) can spontaneously form is equivalent to the statement that the ink and paper of a printed page can organize themselves into a meaningful text. That is, the chemical and physical properties of ink on the surface of paper cause the ink to organize itself into an intelligible sequence of letters. On the contrary, we know that the pattern of ink markings on the page you are reading was impressed on the ink by the printing device. Preexisting, intelligently designed type was intelligently arranged to form the text. The information was impressed on the matter from the “outside.” The DNA texts of the first living cells must have originated in an analogous way. The nucleotide sequences cannot be deduced from the chemical properties of the nucleotides (Polanyi 1967, 1968). The situation is the same for the amino acid sequences of those enzymes and other proteins that had to be already present in order for the first cycle of cellular protein synthesis to occur. Of course the properties of the molecules must be suitable for the roles they play in living matter, just as the properties of ink must be appropriate for its role on the printed page. However, among the properties of biomolecules and their subunits one will not find the property of spontaneous self-organization into the living state. The origin of printed texts, manufactured devices, and biomolecular systems require intelligent design and engineering knowhow (Wilder-Smith 1970). In each case the characteristic order of the system must be impressed on matter “from the outside.”

40. Probability. Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have argued in their book Evolution from Space (1981) that the probability of the spontaneous origin of living matter can be no greater[l3] than one chance in 1040,000 [sic – 10^40,000 ?], and is probably much lower. Therefore, they conclude, the origin of life must have required an intelligence of some kind which was the source of the original biologic information. This intelligence designed the enzymes and other molecules of the living cell. The authors write that these probability and information content considerations both affirmatively support creation (their subtitle was “A Theory of Cosmic Creation”) and undercut evolution:

The theory that life was assembled by an intelligence has, we believe, a probability vastly higher than one part in 1040,000 of being the correct explanation of the many curious facts discussed in preceding chapters. Indeed, such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific (130).

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe further maintain that evolution of the first life on Earth into more complex forms could not have occurred without the influx of preformed genetic material from an extraterrestrial source. Obviously, in their view, one’s reasoning about the origin of the first life can have profound implications for one’s view on the subsequent evolution of life as well.

41. Isomers. The Miller experiments offer no clues concerning the preference of living matter for L-amino acids. All products for these experiments are precisely racemic, i.e., 50-50 mixtures of L- and D-forms (Dickerson 1978; Folsome 1979). The natural chemical tendencies of organic matter consistently produced racemic compounds. Many researchers have attempted to find plausible natural conditions under which L-amino acids would preferentially accumulate over their D-counterparts, but all such attempts have failed (Bonner 1972; Bonner et al. 1980). Until this crucial problem is solved, no one can say that we have found a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. Instead, these isomer preferences point to biochemical creation.

42. Chemical Tendency away from Life. Creationist scientists maintain that laboratory studies have shown that simple organic matter does not move in the direction of the living state; it does move in other directions, the most prominent of which is the formation of non-biological macromolecular material. Future research is not likely to disclose conditions under which pure water at 1 atmosphere of pressure will boil at 50° C, or turn red. Likewise, future research is not likely to disclose plausible natural conditions under which carbonaceous matter can organize itself into living matter. Organic compounds have certain properties. They react in certain ways, and not in others. For example, a solution (or even a nearly dry mixture) of amino acids and sugars will form the non-biological substance melanoidin; it will not form polypeptide [l4] and polysaccharides. Methane, ammonia and water vapor bombarded with ultraviolet light will form small amounts of racemic amino acids; they do not form amino acids containing an excess of the L-isomer, as we have seen. Another consideration, which I will not discuss here, is the thermodynamic line of analysis relevant to biochemical creation.

43. Conclusion. These scientific considerations form the core of biochemical creation, and show that it is as scientific as chemical evolution, and in fact is preferable in scientific plausibility to chemical evolution. These are weighty issues of fact. Evidence often taken to support a naturalistic chemical origin of life, actually, upon close analysis, points in another direction, namely, toward the conclusion that the first life was created. The data of molecular biology, especially the details of the genetic-coding and protein-synthesizing systems, lend further powerful support to this view. Probability arguments applied to the problem of the origin of genetic information also confirm the creationist view of origins. Laboratory data and theoretic arguments concerning the origin of the first life lead one to doubt the evolution of subsequent forms of life. The fossil record and other lines of evidence confirm this suspicion. In short, when all the available evidence is carefully assessed in toto, the evolutionary story of origins appears significantly less probable than the creationist view.

G. Educational Merit of Balanced Presentation of Creation-Science with Evolution

44. Biased Textbooks. Many high school science texts contain whole chapters on evolution written in such a way as to give the student the impression that evolution is the only reasonable explanation of biologic origins. This unfortunate and unwarranted dogmatism is common today, although a few current high school texts briefly mention the creationist alternative. One rarely finds a balanced treatment of the creation-evolution controversy in university level biology textbooks.

45. Educational Merit. Creation-science has educational merit, can be taught in the classroom in a strictly scientific and nonreligious sense, and can be so presented in textbooks.

Dean Kenyon

[Notarized signature not reproduced]

PS: I meant to add that I was on the Ron Insana radio show this afternoon, 1 p.m. EST. Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute was my opposite number. I think it was a good show – Ron Insana is actually fairly hip to what the science and religion issues are, and Luskin is at least good at giving the usual ID talking points. Unfortunately – and I have seen this many times now – the ID movement doesn’t seem to be having much success at educating their creationist supporters. Many of the callers were giving the same old antievolution urban legends – Darwin’s deathbed conversion, 2nd law of thermodynamics, coelocanth, gaps in the fossil record pointing to special creation – that the ID movement has allegedly abandoned. Oh wait, Casey Luskin himself argued for the special creation of humans based on alleged gaps in the fossil record on that very show (he’s done the same thing recently on the DI blog). There was one notable development on the show: it was like pulling teeth, but I did get Luskin to finally say how old he thought the earth was. Turns out he’s an old-earther. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it, Casey?

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

Comment #54312

Posted by shiva on October 29, 2005 3:51 PM (e)

Looks like BillD is mighty miffed at having to withdraw (being withdrawn) from KVD. But since this seems to have happened as neither he nor the defense had any confidence in his ‘testimony’ as he has left a paper trail a few kms long; BillD is trying to project his own state of mind on to Shallitt. It is the height of pomposity on BillD’s part to imagine himself to be Shallitt’s equal. Bill with his string of diplomas certainly has the qualifications to do good mathematics - it is his objectives and method that are the problem. And that is why Bill carries no credibility any longer within the mathematics community. He is not even a good joke any longer. Dean Kenyon was teaching and trying some research at the time of Edwards. For Bill being asked to stand down this time is yet another tick off since his Baylor adventure a few years back.

Comment #54313

Posted by Gary Hurd on October 29, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Well, the more it stays the same, err, the more it stays the same.

Comment #54316

Posted by PvM on October 29, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Foot in mouth disease is quite a common affliction for Bill. His “No Free Lunch” jello, his comments on human ancestry, his reversals on false positives all serve to show that indeed his true calling may be in apologetics after all.

After his comments on how he would love to see evolution on trial, he must have been quite frustrated how ID expert witnesses’ testimony was effectively demolished in cross…

Who is really obsessed here… Bill does not take criticisms of his work well, especially when the criticisms demolish his claims.

Comment #54317

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 5:01 PM (e)

Who is really obsessed here… Bill does not take criticisms of his work well, especially when the criticisms demolish his claims.

well, at the risk of being redundant, projection seems to be a common psychological issue amongst IDers

Comment #54318

Posted by Alan on October 29, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Looks like BillD is mighty miffed at having to withdraw (being withdrawn) from KVD.

Au contraire, I suspect he is mightily relieved. He would have been torn to shreds.

And that is why Bill carries no credibility any longer within the mathematics community.

That reminds me of the line from “Tootsie” in response to the “hasbeen”. Were you ever famous? When did Bill have credibility within the mathematics community?

Comment #54321

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 29, 2005 5:48 PM (e)

My, my – the Isaac Newton of Information Theory certainly does seem to be a bit full of himself, huh.

What an arrogant prick.

Comment #54323

Posted by caerbannog on October 29, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

My, my — the Isaac Newton of Information Theory certainly does seem to be a bit full of himself, huh…..

He’s got Newton’s arrogance…. without Newton’s talent!

Comment #54324

Posted by K.E. on October 29, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Comedian plays Mathematician while dressed in a cassock

Comment #54328

Posted by AR on October 29, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

Having read Jeff Shallit’s deposition, it is not hard to understand that Dembski may have been terrified by the prospect of being cross-examined at the trial. Based on Shallit’s arguments, a lawyer like Rothschild would have made mincemeat of Dembski on an even larger scale than it was done with Behe. On the other hand, given Dembski’s documented enormous ego and self-confidence (having no foundation in facts) he might indeed believe he could have stand up to Shallit, however ridiculous such a belief is.

Comment #54329

Posted by Skip on October 29, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

Would anyone else like to see a version of the Teletubbies starring Dembski, Behe, Wells and Nelson, with little Casey Luskin as the smiling sun up in the sky, or am I just being weird?

They may finally make some kind of contribution somewhere, after all.

Comment #54330

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

which one gets to wear the triangle and be “tinky winky”?

Comment #54331

Posted by jeffw on October 29, 2005 6:53 PM (e)

All Dembski is really, is a philosopher of theology, and a 3rd rate one at that. His “Math” and “CompSci” stuff is just garbage. Strange that he doesn’t talk about his “information theory” much on his web site. He seems more concerned with media attention than anything else. But I guess you could say that about ID’ers in general.

Comment #54333

Posted by K.E. on October 29, 2005 7:09 PM (e)

Dembski’s Free Lunch

No science …Tick
No math …. Tick
No peer review …Tick
No explanation for conclusions …Tick
No papers..Tick
Plenty of free publicity … Tick
Admiring public …Tick
Fame and Glory …Tick

As they say “when you are selling something all publicity is good publicity”

Comment #54336

Posted by Andrew Mead McClure on October 29, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

You know, I saw Shallit on the witnesses list last week and wound up looking him up out of curiousity. One of the first things I found was this other, extremely curious blog entry on Mr. Dembski’s site:

(A trackback link partway down the page documents a response to this blog entry by Mr. Shallit.)

Between that blog entry and the one today, I honestly have to wonder if Dembski has some kind of weird obsessive vendetta against Mr. Shallit.

Comment #54339

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 29, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

I know that Dembski will almost certainly delete it, but it would be good to set the trackback anyways and post that it was done. We must always document any cowardess in the ID camp.

I have just posted the following comment to Dembski’s article:

Why did Dr. Shallit not testify at Dover? The answer has nothing to due with what Dr. Dembski suggests in this post. After the initial slate of plaintiffs and defense witnesses was announced, both sides had the opportunity to provide rebuttal witnesses which were announced a month afterward. Shallit was to testify in rebuttal to Dr. Dembski. Since Dr. Dembski did not testify, Shallit has nothing to testify about.

Lets see how long it takes Dembski to delete it.

Comment #54340

Posted by Red Mann on October 29, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

It seems to me that there is a cabin fever atmosphere at Uncommon Descent. It’s all Bill’s paranoid rambling and his sycophants bootlicking, with the occasional “You’re outa here” when someone tries to introduce any criticism or breath of reality. Last time I was there, I had to leave before I got ill. It’s really quite sad. *sheds copious tears*

Comment #54346

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 29, 2005 9:23 PM (e)

The comment referenced by Michael Hopkins (#54339) is not on the Dembski site as of 10:20 pm eastern time (although no comments are posted there after 3:34 pm).

If Shallit was identified in the Dover case as a “rebuttal witness,” Dembski’s original post is misleading and exhibits ignorance of what this means in legal proceedings. In federal legal practice, witnesses have to be identified in advance, along with the subject-matter of their testimony. If they are not identified in advance, they are not permitted to testify, and if they do testify they are limited to the subject-matters which have been disclosed in advance. Shallit was apparently identified as a rebuttal witness. The subject-matter of his testimony was to have been a response to the anticipated testimony of Dembski. A rebuttal witness is limited to testifying in response to the testimony of another witness. It’s not just that without Dembski’s testimony Shallit would have “nothing to testify about.” He would not have been permitted to testify as a rebuttal witness in the absence of some other testimony to rebut. And since (if?) Shallit was identified in the case only as a rebuttal witness, he could not have been called for any other purpose or testimony.

This is all very technical, I know. It’s possible that Dembski did not know the legal definition of or procedures for rebuttal witnesses when he made his initial post. If he learns this information, from Mr. Hopkins’ post or elsewhere, not correcting himself will seem pretty dishonorable and disingenuous. Bets?

Comment #54348

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 9:37 PM (e)


yup, your post isn’t there. instead, there is a very banal debate between a couple of regulars over who is the bigger liar, shallit or dembski (dembski seems to be winning, defacto).

one of the posters in that thread mentioned that there’s an average of less than 2 responses to most of the threads posted by billy, and that person was a fan.

billyboy’s site has about as much activitiy as a bag of drowned kittens.

Bill is a complete non-factor in just about everything at this point. which really isn’t very surprising, to me at least.

don’t bother trying to post over there, it just increases the traffic on his site (er, which is a .com site, btw).


Comment #54349

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 29, 2005 9:40 PM (e)

A follow up (see #54339). I posted a comment on Dembski’s site similar to the one Mr. Hopkins reported posting (and along the lines of my previous comment here, #54346). It has appeared on Dembski’s site (#38 there). I do not, of course, know how long it will remain.

Comment #54351

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 29, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

I see several posts above saying that my comments do not appear on Dr. Dembski’s blog. In the interest of fairness and accuracy I must report that that is simply not true. My comment appeared immediately after I submitted it (a minute or so before my PT comment) and the comment is still present.

I think some people are forgetting to hit reload/refresh.

Of course, my comment has not been up for very long and Dembski might not have seen it yet. Thus it is still theoretically possible that he might see it and do the right thing and make a correction though I would not bet on it. Dr. Dembski, if you are reading this you have an opportunity to improve what many people here think of you. If you do the right think then I would suggest that this file be updated to note it.

Comment #54353

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:00 PM (e)

lol. no, michael. dembski employs ip filters to hide responses he doesn’t like sometimes.

you can see it, but nobody else can.

welcome to the world of dembski.

why bother?

Comment #54354

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 29, 2005 10:01 PM (e)

According to a comment by Alan Fox at “Stranger Fruit” (trackback below), “Any post that is at all critical will be deleted from generel view whilst still being visible to the ISP from which it was posted and the ISP blocked.” So if this is accurate, then presumably the original posters can still see their comments on Dembski’s site, while others cannot? (I’m telling you, the Hopkins comment is not there … at least not to me.)

Comment #54356

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:04 PM (e)

jeff -

same comment as for michael.

your post #38 is NOT visible in that thread.

trust me, i have seen this before. I’m just guessing (based on some previous commenters) but i think his system detects your IP, makes sure YOU can see the post, but it isn’t necessarily the case that anybody else can.

I think you have to be added to an “approved” ip list in order for your posts to actually be viewable by anyone other than yourself.

Comment #54357

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:06 PM (e)

I’m sure you all can see why this kind of a system would be advantageous to someone who regularly deletes posts he doesn’t like, yes?

again i say, why bother.

Comment #54359

Posted by DrFrank on October 29, 2005 10:08 PM (e)

Michael, from what I’ve heard Dembski’s site often visibly shows the comments left by person A on person A’s computer, but those comments are invisible to everyone else. It’s a very cunning way of appeasing people by making them think that their comments haven’t been censored.

Asking others whether your comments are visible is the only way to be sure (besides nuking the site from orbit).

Comment #54361

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 29, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

don’t bother trying to post over there, it just increases the traffic on his site (er, which is a .com site, btw).

My comment was done as a correction. And if that correction is deleted then we have documented dishonesty on the part of Dembski.

And what does the “.com” have to do with anything? Not everything with a “dot com” domain name is commercial.

Update. Strange, my hitting reload still shows my post as being present. But given the reporting that my page is not present I punched it up using different browser software which completely eliminates any possiblity of caching and I see that my comment has indeed been deleted.

This action by Dembski is to me about the strongest evidence of dishonesty. I know I posted, I know I was polite, and accurate.
Unless he going to say that my spelling error is justification for
deletion, the only reason I can think of is that he wishes to deceive his readership.

Screen capture of my post

Comment #54362

Posted by Steve S on October 29, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

Andrew, I went to Uncommon Descent, the awful weblog of Dembski, thanks to the link you provided. I forgot what it was like. I have to comment on one obvious thing–his commenters need spelling lessons, and they need ‘em bad.

By the way, is Sal Cordova the biggest kissass you’ve ever seen?


I do credit Jeff Shallit for being your teacher almost two decades ago in 1987. Shallit thus helped train one of the leading lights of Intelligent Design. For that, the ID community is in debt to Jeffrey Shallit. :-)

I’m glad you didn’t waste time his criticisms of your work. It wasn’t worth the effort. Anyway, the paper you referenced by Elsberry and Shallit was more than adequately refuted by someone over at ISCID.

As always I look forward to reading your latest paper.

Comment by scordova — June 23, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

being one of the tamer examples.

Comment #54363

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

And what does the “.com” have to do with anything? Not everything with a “dot com” domain name is commercial

look carefully at dembski’s site vs. this one and you will see why he uses .com. In this case, it IS because his site is commercialized.

as far as documenting dembski’s duplicity (heh, the three D’s), your effort is appreciated by myself and others, but a is bit redundant at this point in time.

your best bet is simply not to bother wasting time there.

Comment #54366

Posted by neuralsmith on October 29, 2005 10:31 PM (e)

I just posted a comment in the same thread on Dembski’s blog, can somebody check to see if it is there. I pointed out that one of the posters (jboze) was incorrect when he said it was nonsense that Behe admitted astrology was a scientific theory under his definition.
The post reads:
I recommend that you check the court transcripts if you think Behe did not say astrology would fit into his definition of scientific theory.
Here they are:

Do a search for astrology, and you will come to the part where he is cross examined on this point. Enjoy!

I just noted that the post count listed on the main page of Dembski’s blog says 37 while the actual post count inside is 38. Could this be due to the filtering or is it because the site takes a long time to update the main page post count?

Comment #54368

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

no, it’s because that 38 is showing the addition of your post, which is of course like everyone elses who kept going there to post…

not visible to anybody but yourself (and dembski).

so… are we clear on why there is no point in posting on dembski’s blog yet?

Comment #54369

Posted by Jeremy on October 29, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

Wait… I thought Salvador Cordova was a made-up parody. Or maybe that’s just on the forum.

Comment #54371

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

nope he’s for real, fortunately, as anyplace he posts something publically, he makes a great case against ID with his constant sycophantic blithering.

Comment #54372

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 29, 2005 10:48 PM (e)

Michael Hopkins – Me, too. I did the same experiment and got the same result and have the same reaction.

Sir T – Mr. Hopkins and I were correcting what appeared to be an error about legal procedures. This could have simply been ignorance on Dembski’s part, and perhaps excusable ignorance as the rules about rebuttal witnesses are technical. If Dembski fails to correct this error, it shows dishonesty in an area beyond those in which he has more commonly been accused of dissembling.

For the record, here’s what I posted on Dembski’s site: My understanding is that Shallit was identified in the Dover case as a “rebuttal witness.” A rebuttal witness may not be called as a witness except to respond to the testimony of someone else. Because Dembski did not testify, Shallit would not have been permitted to testify, since as a rebuttal witness his potential testimony was limited to responding to the (then) anticipated testimony of Dembski. If this is accurate, then Shallit’s failure to have testified was because Dembski did not testify.
Comment by Jeff Chamberlain — October 29, 2005 @ 9:37 pm

Comment #54373

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 10:53 PM (e)

if you are concerned about ignorance on dembski’s part (as well anyone would be ;) ), perhaps you should just email him the information you wish to impart, as i guarantee you will never see it appear on his blog.

Comment #54374

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 29, 2005 11:20 PM (e)


Merely making a comment on Dembski’s blog is not going to provide him with any benefit. Maybe someone read it before it was deleted. And I am not one who simply going to say “Dembski is a creationist, of course he deletes comments.” If Dembski is going to be accused of anything, then it must be documented. Vague claims simply will not do.

As for “dot com” vs. say “dot org” there really is no meaningful difference anymore. One is free to register one’s domain using either one of them or both of them. There are businesses using URLs not ending with “dot com” and there are plenty of non-businesses that end with “dot com.” (“dot edu”, “dot gov” and “dot mil” are not open though.)

I really don’t see how his site qualifies as commercial. That he has Amazon links to ID books is not enough. Pro-science sites do the same thing. Looking at what Adblock took out, I see that Google ads were block as was something by the name of blogads. I don’t think that makes the site commercial either. 1) He will not a get penny unless I actually do some clicking. 2) I don’t call pro-science sites like Bad Astronomy which have Google ads commercial.

And I have not wasted much time at Dembksi’s site in any event.

Small update: I just checked, it seems that I am not actually banned yet though I have zero posts!

Username: MichaelHopkins
Level: 0
Posts: 0

Comment #54377

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 30, 2005 12:42 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quot'

Comment #54381

Posted by bystander on October 30, 2005 1:42 AM (e)

“Maybe someone read it before it was deleted.”

I think it probably works the opposite way. Comments probably are invisible until they are made visible by Bill. I’ve added my comment as well (under the name MIT) and since it is still late Saturday night in the US he probably isn’t around, yet I would not be surprised that my post is not visible.

Comment #54383

Posted by bystander on October 30, 2005 1:54 AM (e)

I looked up my comment by VPNing through work and found that my message is missing from his site. A fawning message is visible one minute before mine so it got through. He must stay up all night vetting messages.

Comment #54384

Posted by Steve S on October 30, 2005 2:24 AM (e)

I would ban you for your disgusting name, Shaft.

Don’t come in here complaning about incivility with the name PenetratingShaftOfTruthAndSemen.

Comment #54386

Posted by Jason on October 30, 2005 2:35 AM (e)

I’m pretty sure someone fessed up to creating Salvadore Cordova as a joke.

Comment #54388

Posted by bystander on October 30, 2005 5:27 AM (e)

Left another comment on his site. I noticed that it had a google add for the site

which makes fun of ID. Ha Ha Ha

Comment #54392

Posted by JS on October 30, 2005 5:55 AM (e)

Posted by bystander on October 30, 2005 01:54 AM (e) (s)

I looked up my comment by VPNing through work and found that my message is missing from his site. A fawning message is visible one minute before mine so it got through.

Doesn’t mean a thing. It’s entirely possible that he has a list of ‘trusted users.’ That way anything his friends post will go on-line immediately, whereas anything he doesn’t know is friendly will have to wait for ‘moderation’ before it gets on-line.

- JS

Comment #54393

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 30, 2005 6:59 AM (e)

My normal browser now no longer shows my comment.

Is this practice of using IP number to make someone think that there post is present a standard practice? Except I don’t think it was my IP number that did it. I think it is cookie based. My copy of Internet Explorer has the same IP number (i.e. the same computer and cable modem) as my copy of Firefox. Last night I saw my post using I.E. but not Firefox (which I posted from). I.E. shares an IP number but not cookies with Firefox. This morning when I looked at via Firefox, my post was gone. But I have set Firefox to delete any cookies when the session is over unless I put that site on an approved list.

I rather dislike such practices. But to make someone think that there post was present when it was not is dishonest. If new users must face some kind of approval before posts are put up publically, then the blog should say so. Heck, if one is going to have a pro-ID or commenting policy then it should explicately be stated when one signs up and manybe comments should say “comments from approved people”.

PZ does not appear to cut anyone else but trolls. People are allowed to disagree with PZ on his blog. I could understand such tactics against a troll – someone acting like a jerk. But to do so against a first time poster, with a polite post, that is factually correct is simply unethical. And I dare say, it is misrepresentation to call the comments “comments.”

In any event, I have gotten something out of this affair. I can now comfortable call Dembski a liar and a coward. This is a sort of thing which should require heavy duty documentation. This file is that documentation.

Comment #54399

Posted by Penetrating Shaft Of Truth And Semen on October 30, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

michael hopkins—-there vs. their vs. they’re—–you might want to figure out when to use which.

Comment #54409

Posted by Andrew McClure on October 30, 2005 1:27 PM (e)

Michael Hopkins wrote:

Is this practice of using IP number to make someone think that there post is present a standard practice?

It’s something I’ve never seen anywhere else– though, I am not familiar with blog software.

To be quite honest this actually is a feature I’ve wished for / considered implementing at certain points in the past. The reason for this is that there is a certain kind of malicious user who is not stopped by an IP ban. IP-anonymizing proxies are common on the internet and to someone who is skilled with such proxies and determined to mess up your site, banning them will have absolutely no effect as they will simply switch to one of their many backup IPs. If you are dealing with a person like this, the ability to ban them without them exactly realizing they were banned would be a great boon.

However the idea of using this sort of ban as the primary method of deleting/hiding comments absolutely baffles me. I was only thinking of using this feature in very extreme circumstances, such as a repeat offender of ban evasion or someone who is repeatedly flooding the site with COCKS COCKS LOLOLOLOLOLOL type comments.

Comment #54410

Posted by Dean Morrison on October 30, 2005 1:36 PM (e)

I’ve been posting ambiguous comments on Dembski’s site which will be taken by his supporters as support for his views. My theme is how ‘observed evolution’ is really just recombination - he should try to recombine the letters of my login - Cris Idenwhale.
It occurred to me that a lot of the other posts on his site are really by evolutionists disguised as ‘wingnuts’ - if he is going to filter out sensible comments, then maybe inserting lunatic views could be an alternative way of undermining his message through by ‘reduction ad absurdum’? Or all these crackpots genuine??>

Comment #54411

Posted by Dean Morrison on October 30, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

I’ve been posting ambiguous comments on Dembski’s site which will be taken by his supporters as support for his views. My theme is how ‘observed evolution’ is really just recombination - he should try to recombine the letters of my login - Cris Idenwhale.
It occurred to me that a lot of the other posts on his site are really by evolutionists disguised as ‘wingnuts’ - if he is going to filter out sensible comments, then maybe inserting lunatic views could be an alternative way of undermining his message by ‘reduction ad absurdum’? Or all these crackpots genuine??>

Comment #54413

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 30, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

last time:

Dembski sells commercial space on his site. He also uses it as a link to promote his books.

what’s the ONE thing a site like this needs in order to sell advertising space?


the more times you go there, login and try to post, the more money you give him

it’s that frickin simple.

you don’t like Howard Stern?

don’t watch him! as an example, over half of Howard’s listeners, er, profess to HATE him. Howard never would be as popular as he is without the people who keep listening because they hate him.

i hate to say it, but those who think they are somehow doing anyone a favor by going there to post pro-evolutionary messages are fooling themselves. Beleive me when i say that Dembski’s duplicity is a long documented feature of his site. feel free to search the archives here if you don’t believe me.

Comment #54418

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 30, 2005 2:13 PM (e)

michael hopkins——there vs. their vs. they’re——-you might want to figure out when to use which.

They’re – They are
Their – possesive
There – the adverb

I do know the difference, but I am not the greatest proofreader…

I often forget to put the second ‘o’ on “too” as well. And gee, I just now initially spelled “too” as “two” even though I damn well know which one is the number and which one is not.

But if you are going to go for spelling flames then consider being pure yourself: You could might want to learn about capital letters…

Comment #54420

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 30, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

Re: Ads on web sites (gee I initially typed “webs site”…)

Dembski has got Google ads. Payment is based on actually clicks on the ads. And NOT based on visits to Dembski’s site. If a visitor does not click on the ads, then Dembski will have earned a grand total of $0.00.

Dembski has loads of Amazon links. Payment is based on what is actually bought by people following his links to Amazon. And NOT based on visits to Dembski’s site.

And no advertiser even knows that I visited Dembski’s site. Adblock filtered out the two off-site scripts. I would not even have known that he uses Google and another service if I had not clicked to find out what was and was not filtered by Adblock. And it is trivial to add new filters. But it does not matter anyways, since online advertising usually pays on the basis of actually visiting the advertiser and/or selling product and not merely seeing the ad.

Why are you assuming that I spend loads of time at his site? If someone makes a claim about Dembski, I reserve the right to verify it myself. I am simply not going to say that Dembski is lying simply because someone says so. How can we do anything about ID, if we are not familiar with it? And how can I tell a creationist that they need to familiarize themselves with what the biologists actually believe via what biologists actually write if I am unwilling to do the same for the ID advocates?

Comment #54450

Posted by neuralsmith on October 31, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

Well it is official, I have been banned from Dembski’s blog. In a thread related to criticisms of NFL I posted David Wolpert’s objections to Dembski’s interpretation of the NFL theorems. Later, jboze criticized the website it was posted on, saying that it calls ID folk non-genuine scientists. He then reasoned that anybody who does experimenation, observation, and studies is a scientist, thus IDists are scientists. I was banned promptly after asking what peer reviewed experiments ID “scientists” have published.

Have I just broke my ID debate cherry?

Comment #54455

Posted by Alan on October 31, 2005 3:31 AM (e)

Dembski writes here

Among the many posts I’ve deleted* from the previous thread are those vindicating Shallit on the grounds that because the Thomas More Law Center removed me as an expert witness (citing a conflict of interest with FTE, the publisher of the textbook under dispute — i.e., Of Pandas and People), it was no longer necessary for Shallit to be an expert witness.

(*my emphasis)

Yet in another thread here says

So, peer-reviewed articles that do not cite ID or its literature nonetheless constitute refutations of it, and yet peer-reviewed articles by ID proponents that do not explicitly mention ID (to avoid censorship) may not count as confirmations of it

What a hypocrite!

Comment #54457

Posted by K.E. on October 31, 2005 4:08 AM (e)

Dembski says

“Thomas More Law Center removed me as an expert witness”(citing a conflict of interest with FTE, the publisher of the textbook under dispute — i.e., Of Pandas and People)

Huh ??

Dembski could try spitting out the truth for just once

Dembski would have been slaughtered. Anyone reading Shallit’s pre-trial documentation could work that out—- even the incompetent Thomas More Law Center.

Plus ID not religion ? Even the incompetent Thomas More Law Center could see that train wreck coming —if Dembski took the stand.

Dembski’s fantasy world is nothing short of megalomania.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), commonly referred to as megalomania, is a personality disorder that is characterized by extreme feelings of self-importance, a high need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Narcissistic personality disorder can be considered to be a pathological form of narcissism. It is estimated that 0.7-1% of the general population is afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder. Most people with narcissistic personality disorder (50-75%, according to the DSM) are men.

Comment #54481

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on October 31, 2005 10:08 AM (e)

Jeremy wrote:

Wait… I thought Salvador Cordova was a made-up parody. Or maybe that’s just on the forum.

True, but he is a real live made-up parody. Self-made, even.

This strange phenomenon was reported in a Nature News Feature Nature 434, 1062-1065 (28 April 2005), complete with a picture.

Comment #54504

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 31, 2005 3:12 PM (e)

Dembski withdrew (or was withdrawn) as a witness before he was deposed, and before Shallit was deposed. Dembski asks, “why was [Shallit] deposed at all?” It’s not a bad question. Why was Shallit deposed if his only purpose was to have provided rebuttal testimony to Dembski, who by then was no longer a witness?

Comment #54508

Posted by Sylas on October 31, 2005 3:57 PM (e)

Note that the deposition was made by the defense; not the plaintiffs. This makes Dembski’s whole complaint very odd indeed.

The time line, as I understand it:

  1. Various expert witnesses proposed, by both sides. Dembski was proposed by the defense.
  2. Shallit was then proposed by the plaintiffs, for the purpose of rebuttal to Dembski.
  3. Expert witness statement from Shallit is taken, and made available.
  4. Defense arranged to take a deposition from Shallit. A deposition is used mainly to help them prepare for cross examination at trial.
  5. Dembski is withdrawn as a witness, just a week or so before the date set for Shallit to give his deposition to the defense.

Now; what should the plaintiffs do? Nothing. They’ve already got their statement, and they have nothing to do with the deposition. They already have Shallit ready to go as a rebuttal expert no matter what happens with Dembski. If the defense decide to use Dembski after all, the plaintiffs are ready. If they don’t; that’s fine as well.

What should the defense do? To be safe, they should still take the deposition. Shallit is still listed as a witness, and his statement is already available. In the coming weeks they might decide to review arrangements with Dembski; they’d better be ready if Shallit’s testimony becomes relevant. For example; if Dembski’s back door approach with the Amicus Curiae brief had not been stricken by the judge, the plaintiffs may well have decided to go ahead with a rebuttal to Dembski.

Once Dembski withdrew, everything else followed very naturally. The plaintiffs had no need to make a rebuttal at trial, and they didn’t. The defense had to go ahead with the scheduled deposition to be safe and cover all eventualities, and they did.

The strangest thing at all is to spin this in to insinuations about the suitablity of Shallit. Shallit’s rebuttal was available and the plaintiffs ready to go. Suddenly Dembski is withdrawn by the defense. The defense still takes a deposition from the rebuttal witness; and now Dembski spins this into speculation that Shallit was embarassing for the plaintiffs. It’s bizarre; and it is completely contemptible that Dembski refuses to even allow any comments in his blog that point out the blindly obvious reason why the rebuttal witness was not used in trial.

Cheers – Sylas

Comment #54509

Posted by morbius on October 31, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova said:

“The critical thinking and precision of science began to really affect my ability to just believe something without any tangible evidence”

Apparently he overcame it.

Comment #54510

Posted by morbius on October 31, 2005 4:15 PM (e)

This makes Dembski’s whole complaint very odd indeed…. The strangest thing at all is to spin this in to insinuations about the suitablity of Shallit…. It’s bizarre

It’s only odd, strange, and bizarre if you assume that Dembski and his ilk have moral scruples. But given the facts as we know them, none of this is odd at all – it’s entirely predictable.

Comment #54511

Posted by morbius on October 31, 2005 4:28 PM (e)

It’s not a bad question.

I suppose it’s a good question if you’re a bad person providing fodder to other bad people, Jeff.

Comment #54513

Posted by morbius on October 31, 2005 4:33 PM (e)

the more times you go there, login and try to post, the more money you give him

it’s that frickin simple.

Simple minded – and false.

Comment #54515

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 31, 2005 4:59 PM (e)

morbius -

uh, you are developing a rather strange pattern of post responses, don’t you think? late one-liner responses aren’t really creating anything useful.

that said,

I see even further need to clarify how commercial sites work.

Once you decide you want to sell commercial space on your site, you have to contact an ad pusher to get access to their ad collections.

the ad rotations that they will give entirely depends on your demonstration of the amount of traffic your site generates (determined straight from your websites logfiles). If your site generates little traffic, you get a lot of cheap ads that don’t generate much on click-throughs. If your site generates lots of traffic, you get better ads that generate more money on click through.

I’m surprised at those of you who keep challenging this. surely you understand how TV ratings work, and that stations with higher ratings get better advertising revenue? It’s basically the same thing for websites, but the only real way an online site can physically demonstrate “ratings” is by analysis of traffic statistics from the logfiles.

I put together sites that ran the gamut from dozens of hits per day to millions, and believe me when i say that you get “better” advertising banner types, and revenue generated per banner is much higher on the high traffic sites.

Dembski can use “controversy” to generate traffic to his site, thereby increasing his log statistics, thereby allowing him to get more for the advertising space he sells on the site.

it’s not false, but it is simple.

try creating your own commercial site and see for yourself.

Comment #54517

Posted by K.E. on October 31, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

Dembski takes the cake
Saying the plaintiff’s backed off and he won!
segue to Monty Pythons Holy Grail
Scene 4 Dembski plays the BLACK NIGHT

And just as hilarious the following scene
The Witch Trial
Teaching his medievil followers the finer points of logic
and advanced critical thinging…..

with this conclusion

Dembski: And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be
ARTHUR: This new learning amazes me, Dembski. Explain again
how sheeps’ bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

Comment #54541

Posted by Jeff Chamberlain on October 31, 2005 9:39 PM (e)

Ed Brayton has the answser to my question (#54504) over on Dispatches from the culture wars.

Comment #54710

Posted by Sylas on November 1, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

Dembski speculates that Shallit did not testify because the ACLU considered him a liability. There is no evidence for this bizarre claim. The ACLU continues to have Shallit’s expert report prominently displayed in their website.

Even better… on September 9 2005, the defendants filed a brief in support of a motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Jeffrey Shallit. Their brief is document 155 (8 pages). I quote an extract:

Defendants' brief in support of motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Jeffrey Shallit, Ph.D wrote:

Given his legitimate concerns, Dembski withdrew as an expert witness in order to protect his work, his career prospects, and his colleagues. Now that Dembski has withdrawn, Plaintiffs seek an unfair advantage by having their rebuttal expert witness testify in their case-in-chief.
Defendants respectfully request that this Court grant their motion in limine and exclude from evidence the testimony and expert report of Jeffrey Shallit.

The argument of the defendants, which seems reasonable to me, is that since Shallit was not declared in the initial list of expert witnesses, but only as a rebuttal witness, he should not be permitted to testify in the absence of the witness he was to rebut.

I have not seen any formal response from the plaintiffs or the judge, but it is a premise of the defendants’ motion that the plaintiffs were still planning to use Shallit at trial; directly contradicting Dembski’s speculations that the plaintiffs considered Shallit a liability.

Dembski’s speculations are ridiculous on the face of it, of course; but it is nice to have such a plain demonstration of just who exactly did not want Shallit on the stand.

Comment #66413

Posted by George A. Stathis on December 31, 2005 10:35 AM (e)

I feel intrigued by the controversy, but also bored about the legalistic arguments invoked by each side. Personally, as a software developer who likes dreaming about this universe, I wouldn’t mind contemplating living beings as forms of intelligent software (DNA). The obvious question, of course, is -then- who programmed the damn thing (DNA)? :-) (sigh)

Well, give me algorithms that explain spontaneous self-improvement of DNA(-software) features over time, and I’d gladly relinquish all dogmatic certainties, either for or against “God” (etc).

In fact, the “Creator” may himself be nothing but… bugged software (like the rest of us! ;-) ). (All software is inherently imperfect, damn it!)

Well, what if both sides are both wrong and right?
E.g. in the sense that there probably isn’t a Superior Being “out there” who designed us(DNA) but that we(DNA) are forms of self-evolving, self-organising software developed spontaneously “from the inside outwards”, expressing a kind of “Cosmic consciousness-inside-Matter” rather than a “God outside us” who must be a crazy control-freak if he or she wrote such lousy, bugged (DNA-)software, such as… us!? :-)

For heaven’s sake, give me a break! I.e. give me my… full source-code, and then we can talk (about copyrights)! :-)

It all seems a pointless controversy. I’d rather delve more deeply into the depths of bioinformatics, and then start arguing! :)

George A. Stathis
P.S. For an alternative theory of logic, beyond “true” and “false”, see:

Comment #66417

Posted by jim on December 31, 2005 11:05 AM (e)

The human genome has been sequenced and is in the public domain. You’re welcome to start looking through it anytime you want.

I must warn you that it’s programming doesn’t correspond to any human developed ones AND it wasn’t commented. Because of this, it is my belief that it was not intended to be maintained.


Comment #66419

Posted by Steve S on December 31, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

Heh KE:

“And how to we Know, organisms have CSI?”
“Because they look like it?”
“What else do you know that has CSI?”
“Uh…computer programs?”
“flipped coins!”