Ed Brayton posted Entry 1771 on December 16, 2005 11:16 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1766

Daniel Morgan has written a very thorough review of the entire Richard Sternberg situation and it’s well worth reading. Sternberg, you may recall, was the editor of a journal who went outside the normal peer review process to insure that a very badly written paper by DI fellow Stephen Meyer would get published. Morgan debunks the whole Sternberg-as-martyr myth that has grown up around it.

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Comment #63116

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 16, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

Here’s a laugh: the recent column at The Conservative Voice which plays up von Sternberg, Bryan Leonard (of Ohio State) and Guillermo Gonzales as martyrs was written by Julia A. Seymour, who “is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia“.

Comment #63140

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 16, 2005 1:36 PM (e)

Thanks for the honorable mention. Julia A. Seymour, ever attempting at accuracy, just published a review of the Paul Mirecki affair, which she boldly entitled, “Evil Dr. P Resigns”.

Note that she “accurately” says, “Labeling intelligent design and creationism religious mythologies was enough to fan flames of outrage.” Then goes on to provide numerous quotes of sources who see it [her way] accurately. Any quote supporting Mirecki in the entire article? Nah…

Thanks for helping to maintain accuracy in academia, Julia.

Comment #63142

Posted by AR on December 16, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

It seems proper to construe the Sternberg affair in view of what happened to Mirecki. While Sternberg, who evidently had steered Meyer’s worthless paper around the regular review procedure, keeps, contrary to DI’s unfounded statements, his position at Smithsonian with all the concomitant privileges, Mirecki has indeed suffered at the hands of anti-science fanatics - was forced to resign the department chairmanship, had his planned course canceled, has been vilified by all kinds of anti-science bloggers, by members of Kansas legislature, by University administration, betrayed by colleagues - for what? For an attempt to exercise academic freedom and his right for free speech. What an ugly picture. The gleeful laughter of some ID advocates who say that Mirecki just got his due and deserved beating at the hands of some rednecks speaks volumes about the moral standing of those fighters for the Glory of God.

Comment #63148

Posted by AR on December 16, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

Re: Julia Seymour’s post about those “martyrs” - Sternberg, Gonzalez, DeHart, Leonard etc. With defenders of “accuracy in media” like Julia, the real “accuracy” needs no adversaries.

Comment #63175

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 16, 2005 3:50 PM (e)

I took a look at the Accuracy in Academia web site. It is obvious that their definition of ‘accuracy’ is very one-sided.

Comment #63207

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 16, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

One thing that seems to be missing from the article is Meyer’s statement that Sternberg told him that he should think about submitting a paper to his journal at some ID meeting. I seem to recall some admission like that when the story first broke, but I can’t say where I saw it. Someone else may recall it. If this is true Sternberg didn’t just shepard the paper through the process, but solicited it too. It would make sense that Sternberg asked Meyer to submit a paper, why else would Meyer submit a paper to a taxonomy journal?

I like Sternberg’s three reviewers, where was his “peer reviewed” paper published?

Ron Okimoto

Comment #63225

Posted by Bob O'H on December 17, 2005 2:40 AM (e)

Ron Okimoto wrote:

I like Sternberg’s three reviewers, where was his “peer reviewed” paper published?

Follow the money link:

On the Roles of Repetitive DNA Elements in the Context of a Unified Genomic-Epigenetic System
STERNBERG Ann NY Acad Sci.2002; 981: 154-188.

Abstract:
Repetitive DNA sequences comprise a substantial portion of most eukaryotic and some prokaryotic chromosomes. Despite nearly forty years of research, the functions of various sequence families as a whole and their monomer units remain largely unknown. The inability to map specific functional roles onto many repetitive DNA elements (REs), coupled with the taxon-specificity of sequence families, have led many to speculate that these genomic components are “selfish” replicators generating genomic “junk.” The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the selfishness, evolutionary effects, and functionality of REs. First, a brief overview of the range of ideas pertaining to RE function is presented. Second, the argument is presented that the selfish DNA “hypothesis” is actually a narrative scheme, that it serves to protect neo-Darwinian assumptions from criticism, and that this story is untestable and therefore not a hypothesis. Third, attempts to synthesize the selfish DNA concept with complex systems models of the genome and RE functionality are critiqued. Fourth, the supposed connection between RE-induced mutations and macroevolutionary events are stated to be at variance with empirical evidence and theoretical considerations. Hypotheses that base phylogenetic transitions in repetitive sequence changes thus remain speculative. Fifth and finally, the case is made for viewing REs as integrally functional components of chromosomes, genomes, and cells. It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.

Key Words: repetitive DNA • selfish DNA • genomes • neo-Darwinism • epigenetics • theoretical biology

Who would put “theoretical biology” as a keyword?

Bob

Comment #63234

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 17, 2005 9:17 AM (e)

Thanks Bob.

So I take it that Sternberg is a member of the NY academy of science and had three creationists review his paper that he submitted to the journal for publication. It seems to be a pretty bogus thing to do just to get “It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.” as a conclusion in the paper. If he had some science to back the claim up he could have gotten that conclusion past plenty of legitimate reviewers. All he would have to do is define neo-Darwinian “naratives” and show that they are an obstacle to elucidating the effects of repetitive DNA. The only reason that he would need creationist “peers” like Wells would be if he knew he didn’t have the data to back up the conclusions.

Anyone have access to the journal?

Ron Okimoto

Comment #63237

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 17, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

I tracked down the reference to Meyer admitting that Sternberg came to an ID conference, and that Meyer then chose to submit the paper to Sternberg after meeting with him there. The NCSE reported on this a little while back:
According to the article, Meyer “said he had chosen the journal because Mr. Sternberg attended a conference where Mr. Meyer gave an oral presentation advancing the same arguments. The two discussed the possibility of publishing the work.” Although the conference is not named in the article, it is likely that it was the Research and Progress in Intelligent Design Conference, held at Biola University in October 2002, at which Meyer spoke on “The Cambrian information explosion: Evidence of intelligent design” and Sternberg spoke on “Causal entailments in convergently developed, irreducibly complex organ systems.” Only advocates of “intelligent design” spoke at the RAPID conference, and at least one critic of “intelligent design” was expressly forbidden to attend.

I will probably not revise the Sternberg review, but instead publish an additional follow-up sometime down the road. I currently am accumulating evidence for who some of the reviewers may be, and getting copies of Sternberg’s works.

In general, I must say he appears to have a very solid background in systems biology and I can’t understand, for the life of me, why he participates in baraminology. I mean, two PhDs, and you help lend credence to the position of YECs? I just don’t comprehend it.

Comment #63238

Posted by k.e. on December 17, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

The beauty of the ID guys is that they signal their intentions with such obvious naivety. When you only have a hammer the whole world looks like an anvil and the noise they make with it is a pathetic “tink”.
The projection of each of their minds is always accompanied by a small or very large delusion that they actually *know* deep down is a lie that requires deliberate and calculated obscurantism.
They ask the *big* question and they don’t like the answer they get from outside their dream and those that share it.
Makes me wonder why they ask, if they already know the answer.

Comment #63241

Posted by k.e. on December 17, 2005 10:26 AM (e)

two PhDs ==== AHHHHH that explains it :)
he got old before before he had time to grow up a common problem… well documented… starting with Dante.
http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-inferno-test.mv

Comment #63242

Posted by Bob O'H on December 17, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

Ron Okimoto wrote:

Anyone have access to the journal?

I’ve got electronic access, through our university, and can pass on a .pdf. I can’t be bothered to read the article properly, but it appears to casting evolutionary biology as reductionist, and therefore wrong.

The final sentence is this:

As unpalatable as this may be for most readers, it would seem that the
selfish DNA narrative and allied frameworks must join the other “icons” of
neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory that, despite their variance with empirical
evidence, nevertheless persist in the literature.139

I’ll let you guess what citation 139 is.

Bob

Comment #63245

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 17, 2005 11:06 AM (e)

OK, so go here to read the paper in question in the Annals of the NYAS by Sternberg. Remember that copyright laws apply.

Comment #63258

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 17, 2005 1:11 PM (e)

Thanks for the reference. I’ve downloaded it, but at 35 pages it is something that I might read if I have the time. I can’t believe that he would cite Wells’ book. Couldn’t he have used a legitimate science source? The fact that he used Wells insead of a real science reference tells me that he doesn’t seem to have done his homework on this issue. There are probably plenty of papers citing function for repetitive elements. He also cites Behe’s book. I’d be embarrassed if I cited an idiot that was fooled by Denton’s junk in Theory in Crisis. It would have to be a peer reviewed citation from such a moron, so that it might be half believable.

I just looked through the references, and major missing papers are Britten and Davidson’s early theoretical papers on repetitive sequence and their possible functions. He has to explain how these early explanations were accepted and fell out of favor as more information was gathered.

I wonder what he claims about fugu? That data was available at the turn of the century, but it would probably knock his sine and line concepts on their head. It depends on how current he was and when he wrote the bulk of the paper. He has a bunch of papers from 2002, so a reader should be able to detect bias in what he chose to include.

Comment #63262

Posted by Russell on December 17, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

In general, I must say [Sternberg] appears to have a very solid background in systems biology and I can’t understand, for the life of me, why he participates in baraminology. I mean, two PhDs, and you help lend credence to the position of YECs? I just don’t comprehend it.

I have no direct knowledge, of course, but I offer the following hypothesis:

Like Jonathan Wells, Sternberg embarked upon his whole postgraduate career dedicated to “destroying Darwinism” because it’s at odds with his religious precommitments. If so, one does not marvel at the fact the he’s evophobic despite having two PhDs in the field. One suspects that he went to all the trouble of acquiring those PhDs specifically because he’s evophobic.

And what are those precommitments? With Wells, of course, we know: he’s a disciple of Rev. Moon. With Sternberg, again I have no direct knowledge, but the fact that he is not embarrassed to be associated with this group gives me a general idea.

Comment #63273

Posted by Michael Roberts on December 17, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Is there anything as absurd as Baraminology?

I cant stop laughing about it and wonder what bird baramin the bat belongs to!

Comment #63274

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 17, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

Is there anything as absurd as Baraminology?

ICR’s “RATE” program of, uh, research, comes pretty close.

Comment #63278

Posted by frank schmidt on December 17, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

A word about the publication: looking over the volume of the Ann NY Acad Sci, it looks like the article is a symposium proceeding from one of these “biology meets philosophy in the age of genomics” affairs. The papers are based on talks given at the symposium, and the peer review occurs primarily at the invitation stage, rather than at the publication stage. So it’s kinda legit, but not as good as the real thing. The point of the paper is that repetitive DNA is not accounted for by the “selfish gene” model, but neglects to say that the selfish gene model never purported to explain all repetitive DNA.

I also find it interesting that Sternberg has a couple of reviews/theoretical papers lately with James Shapiro, one of the original workers on repetitive DNA. Shapiro lately seems to be saying that there are other functions that could have played into the evolution of repetitive elements, and lists a couple. No one really doubts that some repetitive “junk” DNA may have functions. It’s just that we have very few tested ideas of what they are. But then there are lots of protein coding sequences that, when knocked out, leave no discernible phenotype. Incomplete knowledge doesn’t indicate that paradigms are about to crumble.

Sixty years or so ago, we got all kinds of navel-gazing about “the nature of the gene,” until the rise of molecular genetics showed how genes are units of chemically stored information. After the phage group got going, people started out finding out what the info is, and how it works. We are getting the same kinds of musings about “the nature of the genome,” even from people who ought to know better. I suspect that a few decades of work will reduce these to an embarrassing footnote in the history of the field.

The danger is that someone might mistake these musings for real science, and decide that it overturns “Darwinian Dogma.” The ID crowd, in search of gaps to shoehorn God into, are seizing on the lack of knowledge about repetitive DNA function to claim design. In this we have a revisiting of the attempts to pass off Punctuated Equilibrium as evidence of “a theory in crisis,” when in fact, both PE and gradual change can be accounted for by the mechanisms of variation, selection and replication.

If they’d only get to work and do some real science… Ah, but then they’d have to compete like everyone else. Easier (and more lucrative) to claim they’re being perscecuted.

Comment #63294

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 18, 2005 8:20 AM (e)

I just posted a follow-up to the original review of the Sternberg saga. Just FYI.

Comment #63296

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 18, 2005 10:13 AM (e)

Frank schmidt wrote:

Sixty years or so ago, we got all kinds of navel-gazing about “the nature of the gene,” until the rise of molecular genetics showed how genes are units of chemically stored information. After the phage group got going, people started out finding out what the info is, and how it works. We are getting the same kinds of musings about “the nature of the genome,” even from people who ought to know better. I suspect that a few decades of work will reduce these to an embarrassing footnote in the history of the field.

I’d add an embarassing over simplification of molecular biology by several members of the phage group. Once the genetic code and the lac operon had been elucidated they decided that most everything had been discovered and so guys like Benzer and Stent went into fields like neurobiology where they thought that they could work for the forseeable future with no end in sight. It may have been hubris or just a big mistake, but they missed out on an explosion in the field of molecular biology, while having to toil with the limitations of neurobiology and getting practically nowhere.

The simple fact is that we don’t know everything. The problem with creationists is that they depend on what we don’t know and not what we know. Sternberg seems to be no different.

Comment #63337

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 19, 2005 8:49 AM (e)

“The simple fact is that we don’t know everything. The problem with creationists is that they depend on what we don’t know and not what we know.”

I would go much forther. The simple fact is that we know pitifully little, compared to what is “out there”. What Newton said about his life’s work, “I was playing with pebbles at the seashore, while the great ocean of knowledge lay undiscovered before me” (or something to that effect) is as true today as when he said that, despite the intervening 350 years of what we like to describe as “explosive” growth in scientific knowledge.

And in the absence of knowledge there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.

Comment #63343

Posted by Flint on December 19, 2005 10:02 AM (e)

And in the absence of knowledge there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.

Perhaps the operative word here is “working”. Creationist “hypotheses”, being inherently incapable of being tested or falsified, don’t work. Carol doesn’t seem to understand that in the face of that vast ocean of ignorance, “magic” is not a working hypothesis in any way. It’s nothing more than a way to protect ignorance.

Of course, the claim that Newton’s comment is “as true today as when he said” it, implies that in 350 years people have learned nothing. Hence the scare quotes around “explosive”. Despite enormous advances in knowledge, Carol tries to claim there’s been no growth at all, we’re just as ignorant as ever, now get down and grovel, you blasphemers!

Personally, I think lighting a single candle is preferable to even praying at the darkness. Carol obviously disagrees.

Comment #63351

Posted by AC on December 19, 2005 11:55 AM (e)

Close enough. The actual quote is:

Sir Isaac Newton wrote:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

And yes, when you consider the differences between modern relativity and Newtonian mechanics, it’s a fair statement. But, is there really some grand unknowable Truth out there that we will forever reach for but never grasp? A better question: Would it matter?

And, lest we forget, Newton’s greatest passions were religious. He spent more time on alchemy than the Principia or his formulation of calculus. Such is the treacherous genius of the human mind.

Flint wrote:

Perhaps the operative word here is “working”.

Spot on. But of course, when the goal is not knowledge but comfort, a roaring blaze of deified horsehockey counts.

Comment #63353

Posted by Ubernatural on December 19, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

I’m sure carol meant to say say that there’s nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses” in the lab, that wouldn’t be used in school science textbooks without a big disclaimer sticker… right???

Comment #63354

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 19, 2005 12:23 PM (e)

Rather than have yet more posters, in addition to the three above, put words into my mouth, let me elaborate.

Flint,

No, I am not saying that in the intervening 350 years humans learned nothing. I am claiming that we found a few more smooth pebbles and pretty shells, while the great ocean of truth…

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

You may label someone’s operating hypothesis as “magic” but all you are doing is disagreeing with the hypothesis, not the justification of inventing ANY hypothesis in the face of an absence of knowledge.

Comment #63358

Posted by Grey Wolf on December 19, 2005 1:00 PM (e)

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

Given that science should not be used as a moral guide to one’s actions and life I wonder why you think that a “working hypothesis” about the changes in life in the history of the world is relevant to your life choices. Science only tells us what reality is like. Not what you should do about it.* Otherwise, we should remove parachutes and inflatable lifejackets from planes, since science says that things “should” fall to the ground at 9.8 m/s2 and sink in water if they are heavier than the displaced mass of water.

Carol, you are as misguided as always. You have no idea of what science is, nor what religion is, nor what the difference is between them. By trying to make it seem like science is a “guide to life” you are setting a false dichotomy.

Working hypothesis: a testable idea. I.e. what the Theory of Evolution is, at its base, and what ID never has managed to be.

We don’t need to put words in your mouth, Carol. Your own words are enough to show your obvious confussion about the topic.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

*Science can tell you, of course, what your actions will do - like the effects of the greenhouse effect - but it remains up to you to decide if it is good or bad, and if you should do something about it, at which time science might offer alternatives.

Comment #63359

Posted by David Heddle on December 19, 2005 1:16 PM (e)

In terms of ethical behavior, I wonder (I can guess) where Daniel Morgan, so praised here, or the PT crowd in general, come down on the question of someone reviewing a book that he hasn’t actually read?

Comment #63362

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

David, I’m shocked.

Comment #63363

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 19, 2005 2:01 PM (e)

Grey Wolf,

Your silly comments have no relevance to what I said, for I said nothing about the “working hypotheses” (justified in the absence of knowledge) being scientific. It’s just your one track mind and sloppy reading at work here.

And thank you for your lesson in what science does and does not do.

Comment #63365

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Carol

Please don’t take this as a general endorsement, but your comment #63337 seems eminently reasonable to me. You may be getting rained on for other posts.

Comment #63367

Posted by David Heddle on December 19, 2005 2:10 PM (e)

Alan Fox,

So do you find in acceptable or reprehensible, or does it depend on whose book is receiving the fake review?

Comment #63371

Posted by sir_toejam on December 19, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

Carol, you may assume that because of your stated background, you know how to administer the scientific method in order to test a specific hypothesis, but your writing consistently fails to bring your understanding of that simple concept to the fore.

instead of addressing Grey Wolf’s poignant comments as “silly” perhaps you should review what you have written and see that the 3 posters responses are completly logical based on the content of your original post.

you have consistently exhibited a very clear confusion in your writings about what constitutes science and what does not.

instead of constantly repeating your attempts to educate us about using non-science ideas as hypotheses, why don’t you just express yourself more clearly by focusing on what your “working hypotheses” really are:

religion.

face it.

Comment #63374

Posted by Russell on December 19, 2005 2:29 PM (e)

Heddle wrote:

..do you find in acceptable or reprehensible, or does it depend on whose book is receiving the fake review?

Me, I would refrain from offering a public opinion of a book I had not read. Though, in all honesty, there are books I have not read, but of which I do have an opinion. The whole Amazon anonymous reviewer system is pretty close to worthless, in my opinion.

But as long as we’re demanding opinions on the subject, David, what is your take on the ethics of Dembski’s shenanigans in the Amazon jungle?

Comment #63375

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 2:42 PM (e)

David

Your pretended outrage is disingenuous. As Russell says the anomymous review system at Amazon invited abuse. Hey, had I relied on reviews of such quality I could have ended up buying “No Free Lunch” or, God forbid, “Darwins Black Box”.

Comment #63382

Posted by David Heddle on December 19, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

Russell,

I don’t know about what his shenanigan’s are all about, but if he reviewed a book that he didn’t actually read then I find that absolutely reprehensible, independent of the author’s views. Writing a book takes a long time–anyone who does it understands that their work may very well be ridiculed. There is, however, an expectation that the reviewer actually read the book. In my case, one S. Daniel Morgan, from UF, demonstrably did not read my book but still reviewed it on a public website. I think such a person has very questionable ethics–and ethics are vital for a career in science.

Alan Fox,

You are evasive. The question is not my outrage, or how good Amazon’s review system is, the question is: Do you think it is ethical to write a review for a book you haven’t read? Can you answer that simple, straightforward question?

Comment #63383

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

Yes and No.

Comment #63385

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 19, 2005 3:09 PM (e)

if he reviewed a book that he didn’t actually read
Oh, I’m pretty sure Dembski read it, at least once.
After all, he wrote it.

Comment #63386

Posted by jim on December 19, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

Hey all,

I think many people jump on Carol unfairly in Comment-63337.

What she said was not objectionable. What a lot of people objected to was what they inferred from her post. Which I think was (IMHO) not what she intended.

So my opinion on all of this is that there is essentially an infinite number of things for humans to learn. That humans are fundamentally able to learn everything but that we won’t have enough time to do so.

That said, the whole point of science, scientific conjectures, scientific hypotheses, etc. is to provide useful tools for examining our Universe. These tools should lead to further investigations, tests, other results, additional findings, hypotheses, and then even more questions.

If the conjecture, hypothesis, etc. leads to a dead end, then it is not scientifically useful and should be discarded. Most people at the PT, believe as currently stated ID is one of these “dead ends” for science. As such, it should be abandoned as science.

Those that believe that ID is a “good” conjecture, usually state philosophical or religious reasons for liking it. That leads dispassionate observers to believe that ID should be treated as philosophy or religion until someone in the ID camp can develop a scientifically useful model/description of it.

Comment #63387

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 3:15 PM (e)

Seriously, David, I find it hard to take your question seriously. I think perhaps there is a scale of being ethical, from completely via very and somewhat to not at all. Substituting a scale of 1 to 10 (going from ethical to unethical) a spoiling review in Amazon counts around 2.

Comment #63388

Posted by Flint on December 19, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

Carol:

No, I am not saying that in the intervening 350 years humans learned nothing. I am claiming that we found a few more smooth pebbles and pretty shells, while the great ocean of truth…

When you wrote that it’s “as true today as when he said that”, it sounded like you were saying we’d made no progress. Now, you’ve clarified and said that we have learned ALMOST nothing. And I still disagree, at least in absolute terms. I think people have learned a great deal. And using the scientific method, they’ve learned orders of magnitude more since Newton, than in all the millennia before Newton. It seems that the previous avenue to knowledge (known in the vernacular as “making stuff up”) worked rather slowly.

Nonetheless, you seem to be implying that in the face of what we do not know (and we don’t even know how much we don’t know), untestable guesses are just as good as actual working hypotheses. And I disagree with this as well. What cannot be tested, cannot be a hypothesis.

By “working hypotheses” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

If this is what you meant, please forgive me for not realizing it, since it bears no resemblance I can find to what you actually said. I fully agree that we need to base our lives on our assumptions, our values, and our goals. None of which have anything to do with “working hypotheses”, which are testable statements. They relate to your notion of operating assumptions only to the degree that some people are willing to modify those assumptions when their guesses CAN be tested and turn out to be wrong. Others simply tune out the test results…

You may label someone’s operating hypothesis as “magic” but all you are doing is disagreeing with the hypothesis, not the justification of inventing ANY hypothesis in the face of an absence of knowledge.

No, to say it’s “magic” is to say that it is not a working hypothesis according to the concept of what a working hypothesis actually is. Let me reword this: “magic” is NOT a hypothesis, because it is not testable or falsifiable. So I’m not disagreeing with your hypothesis, I am disagreeing with your dishonest claim that creationism is a hypothesis in the first place. It is not.

Comment #63390

Posted by David Heddle on December 19, 2005 3:22 PM (e)

Alan Fox,

What do you mean by a “spoiling” review? Does that mean a fabricated review? It doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like a “bad” review. I would have no basis to complain about a bad review. If Morgan hadn’t blundered, and made it so clear that he made the whole thing up, there would be nothing to talk about.

And if a “spoiling” review does mean fabricated–do you really find it to be but a minor lapse of ethics?

Comment #63391

Posted by Flint on December 19, 2005 3:28 PM (e)

jim:

So my opinion on all of this is that there is essentially an infinite number of things for humans to learn. That humans are fundamentally able to learn everything but that we won’t have enough time to do so.

Look, we understand that science is based on the presumption of indefinite improvability of every explanation, and the incompleteness of every body of knowledge. But if you read carefully, you’ll see that Carol’s argument was that *because* there is so much we don’t know, making stuff up (and let’s not kid ourselves. Creationism is making stuff up, and nothing more) is justified. She said “there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.” But ‘creationist hypotheses’ is an oxymoron. Hypothesis are testable, creationism is not. And I think it’s pretty damn clear that Carol was implying (not just that we all inferred incorrectly) that creationism is as valid as science in the task of alleviating ignorance. If you can accept that, kewl. I can’t.

Comment #63393

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

Flint

I think you a being a bit hard on Carol specifically with regard to post #63337. I suspect scientists often have subjective ideas when commencing a line of research. The scientific method and repeatability will eliminate subjective bias that creeps in to any meaningful research, in the unlikely event that the researcher has been unable to curb his own subjective bias.

Comment #63394

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

You’ve backed me into a corner,David. Publishing a false review is unethical. And I know it’s “et tu quoque” but everyone is at it at Amazon, and anyone who doesn’t realise it probably has difficulty reading.

Comment #63395

Posted by jim on December 19, 2005 3:46 PM (e)

Flint,

I don’t disagree with the practicality of your POV. However, I like to hold out the theoretical possibility that it might be possible to develop a “Creationist scientific hypothesis”. Now I’ve never seen one and I have no idea how one could ever be developed; but I’m trying to keep an open mind.

To that end, I welcome honest attempts to form one. I like believe most people are honestly motivated, unless I see evidence to the contrary. I think the (unequivocal) evidence points to the dishonest motives of the leaders of the ID movement, however, I think some of the followers are honestly (even if ignorantly) motivated.

Comment #63398

Posted by Ogee on December 19, 2005 4:22 PM (e)

In terms of ethical behavior, I wonder (I can guess) where Daniel Morgan, so praised here, or the PT crowd in general, come down on the question of someone reviewing a book that he hasn’t actually read?

I’m guessing: pretty close to where they’d come down on diversionary ad-hominems. Both strike me as weasely and rather… un-Christian. Which one of you claims to be one of those, again?

Comment #63399

Posted by Flint on December 19, 2005 4:28 PM (e)

jim,

I keep thinking I know what you’re saying, until I try to apply it somehow, at which point I’m immediately lost. Creationism holds that stuff is being created, or was created. As I understand it, this refers to ex nihilo creation, through specifically supernatural means (whatever that might mean). Certainly creationsm of the flavor we’re all talking about does NOT refer to how RM+NS creates new forms given time; in fact, creationism as we’re discussing it claims the opposite; that this does not happen.

Now, what might this creation stuff look like from our viewpoint? I’m presuming the best possible case for “scientific” creationism here, namely that stuff can be captured in the act of being created. And I’d have to say anything short of that can ONLY qualify as “making stuff up.” Under laboratory conditions, this means either that some life form ‘just appears’ out of brand new mass, or else that this life form somehow appears to organize itself out of existing matter - perhaps out of lab benchtop material.

Now, all this leads to two problems I can see. First, what’s the hypothesis? That we will someday witness one of these events? How do we test that - just by watching lab benchtops forever? How could the ‘hypothesis’ that “this might happen someday” be falsified? How can we frame the hypothesis so that there is some active experiment we can perform to directly falsify either the claim that this can happen, or that it can’t happen?

And second, what sort of observation would lead to the conclusion the creationist wishes to determine? Science surely wouldn’t conclude that it happens by magic - at best, science could only conclude ‘unknown causes pending further investigation.’ In other words, science is not equipped to observe the supernatural even if it happens. Science is only equipped to remain forever in the dark until a natural explanation can be found to pass the requisite tests.

So I doubt it’s a matter of keeping an open mind. It’s a matter of creationism being inherently and irreconcilably unscientific; lying beyond the boundaries that define science.

Alan Fox:

Really, this is aimed at you as well. Yes, scientists are people, they are biased, they are guilty of seeing what they expect, and of constructing self-serving experiments, and of assuming their conclusions. But as you say, the scientific method eventually irons out these problems, because the many different tests approach the testable from many different directions.

Creationism is not testable by definition. It is accepted or rejected on the basis of faith and not evidence. There can’t be a creationist hypothesis. There is a qualitative difference between a poor hypothesis and a non-hypothesis.

Comment #63402

Posted by Alan Fox on December 19, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Flint

I’m sorry, I was so taken with the Newton quote, I missed the following in Carol’s post, until re-reading just.

whether creationist or otherwise.

Mea Culpa.

Carol, science and religion are orthogonal, conflating the two is a disservice to both.

Comment #63403

Posted by Russell on December 19, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

I don’t know about what [Dembski’s] shenanigan’s are all about…

Precisely. But you could follow the link I provided and find out, if you cared to. In much the same way as we might try to follow the links in your story, recognizing, of course, the possibility of bias in the transmission of the facts.

Being, as this is, a site dedicated to evolution-related issues, which story do you think better merits the time and attention of the casual reader?

Comment #63405

Posted by David Heddle on December 19, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

Russell,

I’m not sure what your point is. If Dembski reviewed a book he didn’t read and/or reviewed his own book, then I comdemn him for it. What could be plainer?

I think since this post on Sternberg is related to a subject that is itself related to ethics, the Sternberg situation, and that Daniel Morgan made a sarcastic comment #63140

Thanks for helping to maintain accuracy in academia, Julia.

that my discussion of an ethical question is apropos. After all, are fake reviews helpful in maintaining accuracy?

Comment #63408

Posted by Russell on December 19, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

I’m not sure what your point is…

My point is to wonder why you think it behooves any of us to wade through the back and forth on some novel that none of us is ever likely to read or care about - much less care about whether one S. Daniel Morgan has read it - when you don’t care enough about the critical dialog over some of the central works in the the whole evo/ID discussion to find out what I’m talking about.

I think since this post on Sternberg is related to a subject that is itself related to …

Somehow, I’m reminded of “thoughts related to activities related to weapons of mass destruction” - or whatever the retroactive excuse was for, well, mass destruction.

No, I don’t approve of writing a “fake review”, especially if there’s really an intent to convey the impression that you had carefully read the book. Given the sloppiness of the Amazon system, however, I more or less assume that a lot of “critics” are just taking the opportunity to share their opinion based on a less-than-careful reading, or even on indirect information. I place it somewhere between driving 75 in a 65 mph zone, and “not noticing” that the clerk forgot to charge you for that extra Coke.

Comment #63417

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 19, 2005 7:40 PM (e)

And in the absence of knowledge there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.

Um, creationists don’t HAVE any “working hypothesis”. (shrug)

Unless, of course, you think that your religious opinions should be counted as “scientific evidence” …. ?

Comment #63418

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 19, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

How about you, Heddle. Do you think that your religious opinions should be considered as scientific evidence or data?

Comment #63419

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 19, 2005 7:47 PM (e)

By the way, Carol, I thought you were going to set me straight about all this “God” stuff.

Maybe Heddle can help you. He speaks on behalf of God too, ya know.

Comment #63421

Posted by jim on December 19, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

Flint,

I agree with you in that I can’t even imagine how someone could come up with a creationist working hypothesis.

Let me try another reason for not stating that we can categorically disregard any possible creationist hypotheses. And that is because (to me) it would be mind boggling difficult to come up with any sort of test for creationism, explanation of how it might have happened, or what sort of evidence we should be looking for.

This “dead-end” is what I’m encouraging ID folks that I debate to find for themselves. Telling someone that ID/creationism is a dead-end, doesn’t change anyone’s mind. Challenging them to find things that lead them to this realization just might.

In most of the on line debates I usually slip in a challenge similar to but simpler than Lenny’s. My challenge is “show me”. It can be “show me” the evidence, theory, tests we can run, or that I’m wrong.

My hope is that they’ll go out and start looking for these things. If they stick with it long enough, they might just discover that ID is the empty, dead-end that it is. But absolutely no “believer” will ever take your word for this. This is something that they’ll only believe if they discover it for themselves.

BTW, using this technique I’ve twice been able to show people that ID/creationism is utter rubbish. In both cases these people have utterly renounced their faith and any trust that they’ve had in their church & religion. One became an atheist and the other turned into a pagan. This was not my goal. However, I think it illustrates the ludicrous position that the leaders of this movement have put their followers in. When the followers realize what utter garbage the leaders are spouting, they can’t ever trust the leaders again and turn their backs on anything resembling their former religion.

Comment #63422

Posted by Russell on December 19, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

But absolutely no “believer” will ever take your word for this. This is something that they’ll only believe if they discover it for themselves.

This sounds so familiar…

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

Comment #63423

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 19, 2005 9:10 PM (e)

Flint, Jim and Alan Fox,

As I pointed out to Grey Wolf (#63363), the term “hypothesis” does not imply science. If you need a dictionary to understand my too-sophisticated-for-you posts, by all means you should avail yourself of one. The standard definition of “hypothesis” includes virtually any proposal, assertion or conjecture, usually proposed by an individual as an explanation of some phenomenon. Creationism by this definition certainly qualifies as an hypothesis, whatever you or I may think of its merits.

My point was that in the absence of knowledge, that is, in the absence of understanding based on data, a natural and justifiable openning appears for the human mind to hypothesize and even conjecture. And since the knowledge we have attained is so pitifully minute compared to the vast ocean of undiscovered truth out there (paraphrasing Newton), the justified opening for hypothesis creation is as wide and deep as the vast seas out there.

The fact that the mere mention of the word hypothesis immediately brings to mind “scientific hypothesis” to some here, speaks volumes of the hubris some of our colleagues in the scientific community suffer from. As I have said before, there is more than one way to the truth and science, as one of those powerful methods, is a rather limited one at that. This is due to self imposed constraints upon science by science itself.

By way of example, consider the truth (to the extent that it holds in Euclidean space) of the statement, “the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees.” That can be attained scientifically by measuring the angles of a few thousand triangles, looking at the range of the data obtained, doing the requisite statistical analysis, then coming to the correct conclusion. Another way of attaining the same truth can be had even by one who never saw a triangle in his life. He can prove, based on previously proven theorems, that the statement MUST be valid. Sure, the proof is based on a few well chosen axioms, but so is the experimental approach. There IS more than one way! There are indeed many more than one way to the truth, whatever it is, about anything.

But thank you folks too for all your help with what science does and does not do.

Comment #63424

Posted by jim on December 19, 2005 9:12 PM (e)

Perhaps I depend too heavily on my Judo training :)

When someone pushes you, you don’t push back, you pull on them. This throws them off-balance. Use your opponents strengths, turn them around and use them against them.

Comment #63425

Posted by jim on December 19, 2005 9:25 PM (e)

Carol,

I am not a scientist (nor do I play one on TV). I have a lot of science education, I have a lot of interest in science, I read a lot of science (mostly of the “for popular consumption variety” but I do occasionally read primary sources).

Based on my outsider’s perspective I think it’s obvious that when talking about science it is important to use the vernacular of science.

To that end, when discussing a “hypothesis” I think it should be obvious to you that you need to use it in the scientific sense unless you explicitly state your intention of using it in the common sense.

Now that all of my preface is out of the way.

The whole point of all of this (waves hands around at Dover Trial, ID movement, schools) is that if you want to teach ID as science it needs to *be* science. If ID can’t make any useful scientific hypotheses, then it has no claim to be taught as science.

I certainly have no qualms with you discussing your (in the common sense) “hypotheses” with your Bible group, just quit trying to get it into the public schools.

In summary:
To be taught as science, you need to have some scientific hypotheses (and these need to be tested and the whole things needs to pass peer review). Net result: no scientific hypotheses; means ID > science; means keep it out of schools.

Comment #63426

Posted by sir_toejam on December 19, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

…speaks volumes of the hubris some of our colleagues in the scientific community suffer from

spoken like a true creationist, there, Carol. Accusing scientists on a SCIENCE site of hubris for pointing out the confusion caused by using the term “hypothesis” to describe creationist musings.

As I have said before, there is more than one way to the truth and science, as one of those powerful methods, is a rather limited one at that

right, so why do you keep couching your religious ideology in scientific terms??

none of us here care whether or not your faith propels you to “truths” (more power to you if it does), but when you conflate your faith with science, and then expect we won’t have a problem with that, you are sorely deluded.

the example of a triangle you give is absolutely ludicrous. You yourself point out that your “alternative method” of determining the summantion of angles in a triangle requires proof based on “previously proven theorems”. Where did these “previously proven theorems” come from? how were they proved? get your definitions straight, indeed.

your alternative method requires actual science in order to proceed, so in fact is no alternative method at all.

Flint is a great example of someone who still values faith without having to conflate it with science.

why can’t you just be honest with yourself and the rest of us, and simply state you value your faith, and that it has value seperate from the value of science?

After you have done that, perhaps you can tell us how faith-based models can “prove theorems”?

Can you tell us the value of why we constrain the scientific method to naturalistic phenomena?

Be honest with us, and you’ll catch far less flak here.

Comment #63427

Posted by sir_toejam on December 19, 2005 10:05 PM (e)

BTW, Carol, here is what seperates science from “alternative methods to truth”, stated as best as i have seen by the editor of UNISCI, Don Radler:

Why Science?

Philosopher-scientist Herbert Spencer once defined science as “organized knowledge.” But your current shopping list is an example of organized knowledge, and it’s not science. So what is science, really? An interviewer recently asked me just that, and I gave her some kind of answer. Thinking more about it since then, here’s what I wish I had said:

Science is the design or conduct of reproducible experiments to test how nature works, or the creation of theories that can themselves be tested by such experiments. Science is also the orderly observation of events that cannot yet be manipulated, and, ultimately, the testing of many different such observations as the basis for theories to explain the events.

This makes science the one human activity that seeks knowledge in an organized way. It’s not the knowledge that’s organized, it’s the seeking. Science doesn’t guess, doesn’t hope, doesn’t wish, doesn’t trust, doesn’t believe.

Science seeks.

It’s the search that makes science so powerful and so exciting. Science does add to our store of knowledge, but some of the knowledge it adds turns out to hurt more than it helps. Science does lead to new products, some of which prove not to be so good, either. It’s the seeking that makes science what it is.

Seeking is a uniquely humble human experience. It doesn’t say I know, it says I need to find out. It doesn’t declare one thing better than another, it merely describes each thing as it finds it. It doesn’t tell anyone how to do anything, it merely discovers how nature does things.

Humble, nonjudgmental, nondirective. What other human enterprise has this cluster of attributes, this quiet dignity? And the best that there is of this enterprise goes on at universities, where much of the research is basic science, a simple search for truth.

Science is mankind’s organized search for truth. That in itself answers the question,
Why Science?

Comment #63429

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 19, 2005 10:27 PM (e)

Russell put it well:

Russell wrote:

Given the sloppiness of the Amazon system, however, I more or less assume that a lot of “critics” are just taking the opportunity to share their opinion based on a less-than-careful reading, or even on indirect information. I place it somewhere between driving 75 in a 65 mph zone, and “not noticing” that the clerk forgot to charge you for that extra Coke.

But, since Heddle apparently puts it somewhere between crucifying Christ and being Will Dembski, I decided to return his dignity.

Comment #63430

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 19, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

I’m excited, now…I know I’ve finally moved up in the world [snicker]: Witt responds to my Sternberg pieces via an “idthefuture” blog.

Comment #63431

Posted by sir_toejam on December 19, 2005 10:55 PM (e)

well, you certainly struck an apparent nerve. keep it up :)

Comment #63433

Posted by k.e. on December 19, 2005 11:31 PM (e)

Carol forget the BS
If you were truly interested in bringing Religion/God/Creationism/Unidentified/Identified-“design/designer” into the High School environment you would promote teaching the understanding of all religions, all creation stories, all systems of belief and how they are spread, how the world view of each is enforced within the group of believers, how people are converted from one to another, how political leaders cynically use those groups to promote their agenda

Forming the group world view
How the creation myths mold and conform each persons world view within the group and their view of people outside of their group.
How the more radical those views are, the more it devalues the life of those outside their group to the point where extermination (either mentally or physically) of those outside the group is fully justified since the people outside the group are effectively non-persons.

Spread of world view
How strong proselytizing is successful in religions that give very strong political identity, seemingly ‘high’ moral values and or material/personal gain to the the promoters/insiders at the expense of the political power in that societies establishment by devaluing the opposing sides morals and giving permission to take their goods and value of the life of the people outside of their world view.

Propaganda
How important control of the public mind is through hiding fact (Obscurantism) through allowing/promoting/”giving permission” to opinion carefully disguised as fact in the major media that promotes success of the group within the world view by claiming those within are victims and those without are oppressors.
The “oppressors” arguments on the faults of the “victims” world views are carefully disregarded by a clever appeal to “fairness” no matter how sensible they are. Remember Carol fairness is the work of the devil.

You conflate science the scientific method, morals and ethics and politics and religion into one great mish-mash and claim that your world view is endorsed by the “One true word of God” as translated by your book writing friend.

That is the position of one who has given up the search for truth a stick in the mud who when covered over with more layers of mud will eventually fossilize into one of humankind’s sedimentary layers of disappeared horizons in the bedrock of the “history of ideas”.

Lets just take the “scientific method”, as with all the other above but one paragraph items, are Cesar’s pennies -secular concerns.

You can call it the search for truth if you want however, it is just a game with rules, played by people/apes/angels/monsters/gods/devils/men/women/the sane and the crazy on earth.

The idiots, and that is a huge complement to the fundies across the world as a group, vary from mildly annoying to completely insane are programmed soldiers who “Do as they are Told” no questions asked…… Why?…look up Obscurantism. As a whole fundies are nothing more than streakers at a football match, the only effect they are going to have on the game is to slow it down. Even if they change the rules in court it will make no difference to the game. If the game becomes unplayable the game will just go somewhere else

Their leaders on the other hand are well aware of all or some of the elements of “It is *ALL* worldview”.
Ask yourself “Why did Howard A. get “One Hundred Years of Solitude”* by Marquez** banned from schools.

Unlike your friend or you Carol, Marquez knew what was going on.

*
http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/solitude/fullsumm.html

**
http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/gabo_biography.html

Comment #63445

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 20, 2005 1:11 AM (e)

Well, now that it is abundantly clear (#63429) that Daniel Morgan is a lying, cheating, low-life coward who cannot even bring himself to apologize sincerely and contritely for having wronged another human being, why would any decent ethical person here accord a modicum of credibility to his “very thorough review” or anything else he has ever or will ever write?

Ed Brayton ought promptly dissociate himself from the bum and his activities. It is the right thing to do, Ed.

Comment #63446

Posted by sir_toejam on December 20, 2005 1:17 AM (e)

right… dodge those issues again, Carol. let’s hear that creationist credo said loudly and proudly:

evade evade evade!

Comment #63452

Posted by David Heddle on December 20, 2005 2:54 AM (e)

Daniel Morgan,

I’ll stop mentioning it now whenever I see that you comment.

Your post amounts to this:

“OK, OK, I didn’t actually read it.”

Then with great indignation, you argued that I’m such a sissy for caring, and the book hadn’t sold squat (as if that were relevant), and another reviewer is the wife of a friend, who cares about Amazon reviews,…”

You also wrote as if I am trying to deny you your opinion–but what is obvious here is that your right to an opinion is not at stake. It’s whether you lied, regardless of the number of people affected by the lie.

Regardless, I’m sure that’s the best I can hope for.

As your start your science career, I hope you treat data with more care than you do your own word. And in terms of any discussion over the integrity or truthfulness of others—well you should be a little more humble, given that you have admitted that you took someone’s else’s work and, regardless its merits, and it may indeed have none, you carried out and published a deception.

Comment #63459

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 20, 2005 5:28 AM (e)

Was I wrong that it is a quasi-autobiography, Heddle? Carol? Was that a big fat lie? What was the TITLE of my review? Hmmm, let’s see…”Quasi-autobio”!! So why did I dislike your book? Did I actually have to read it to assess that correctly? Or did I hit the nail on the head? How much did the trash can matter to the crux of my review? Nada! Look, Heddle, from now on, you have a thread on my blog. Go there if you want to continue this convo. Let’s stick to the Sternberg saga here. Carol, Heddle, have a specific refutation of a specific point from either Sternberg article?

Comment #63465

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 20, 2005 8:12 AM (e)

As I pointed out to Grey Wolf (#63363), the term “hypothesis” does not imply science.

Um, then why should science give a flying fig about it?

Unless, of course, what you want is for science to accept your religious opinions as “scientific evidence” … ?

Heddle? I’m still waiting ….

Comment #63477

Posted by Flint on December 20, 2005 9:24 AM (e)

Sigh. Apparently saying “I don’t know, I won’t admit I don’t know, and I refuse to TRY to know because the effort would be a tacit admission that I don’t know” qualifies as a hypothesis in Carol’s mind. That’s because her mind is large, and within that vast space any word can encompass any meaning she decides is appropriate.

But in actual practice, saying “godiddit” is not an explanation at all, it’s simply a way of saying she doesn’t have any explanation and doesn’t want one. And even if we broaden the notion of “science” to the point of hoping that conjectures might somehow be related to evidence, her definition of “hypothesis” falls short.

Creationism by Carol’s definition really does NOT fit her dictionary’s “virtually any proposal, assertion or conjecture, usually proposed by an individual as an explanation of some phenomenon.” Carol doesn’t seem to recognize that “I don’t know” is not proposed as an explanation, EVEN IF it’s rephrased into the FORM of an explanation. It’s no better than “because I said so.”

Carol’s inability to distinguish between science and math, even after all these necessary lectures, also speaks volumes. Math isn’t based on measurements; her notion of measuring thousands of triangles is utterly antithetical to math, and no mathematician OR scientist would see any sense in doing such a thing. Instead, mathematicians are overrepresented among the “scientists” who are creationists because their methods are so similar. In the world of math, something becomes true for one of two reasons, and ONLY two reasons: either because they AGREE that it’s true, or because it can be logically derived from statements AGREED to be true, according to logical rules also AGREED to be applicable. In math, there are entirely consistent (and elegant and beautiful) structures and systems based on nothing any reality could ever produce. For mathematicians ths is not a problem, not even a little problem.

Science, by extreme contrast, is not permitted to ASSUME anything is true at all. Science proceeds by observation, not by definition or presumption. And so once again, Carol has confused the content with the form. The great deception of the creationists has been to take their faith, based on arbitrary axioms like math, supported solely by agreement without any observation involved, and PRESENT them as though they were observation-based. They are not. And so Carol, falling for the deceit, can pompously declare that the internal angles of triangles can be determined by observation. Nope, that’s not how it works. It’s a flagrant category error.

But it’s not an IDLE category error, it’s designed. A hypothesis is NOT an axiom. Creationists have taken their axioms, true by agreement, and reformulated them into the language and idiom of science for the express purpose of tricking people like Carol. The goal is to get people to believe that there’s some scientific basis for their faith when there is not. It’s an approach Orwell would appreciate - if language is misused carefully, more than the words are corrupted in the victim’s mind; even the CONCEPTS are lost.

Comment #63510

Posted by AC on December 20, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

Carol wrote:

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

It makes no difference whether you’re talking about science or not. Crap is crap regardless of context, and basing one’s actions and life on figments of one’s own imagination is a foolish human luxury.

The word you are looking for is “rationalization”.

Comment #63785

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 21, 2005 8:01 AM (e)

Hey Carol, what does Judah Landa have to say about the Dover decision?

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #63843

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 21, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

Lenny,

See my comments on another thread. Seek and you shall find.

Comment #63929

Posted by Daniel Morgan on December 21, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Seek and you shall find.

Ramen, Carol…

Comment #63980

Posted by RC on December 21, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

To Flint:

I object to many points you raised about mathematics, mathematicians, and the similarity between mathematics and creationism. I will discuss some of my objections below:

1.

measuring thousands of triangles is utterly antithetical to math”

This is similar to the assertion that mathematics is purely deductive. I believe the practice of mathematics is more similar to the practice of science than to the practice of creationism. In fact, experiments -> conjectures -> experiments -> proofs is common in the practice of mathematics.

For example, the experimental fact that Goldbach Conjecture is true up to n less than 2 * 10^17 is viewed as a positive evidence for Goldbach Conjecture. Experimental mathematics concerns exactly things like “measurements/experiments”. Of course, the measurements/experiments are usually applied to idealized objects instead of physical objects, but the spirit of scientific method is there.

Ref:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_mathematics

2.

In the world of math, something becomes true for one of two reasons, and ONLY two reasons: either because they AGREE that it’s true, or because it can be logically derived from statements AGREED to be true”

I find this sentence to be misleading because of your emphasis on the word “AGREE” without explaining how mathematicians reach agreement. Further more, you neglect to mention exactly which mathematical statements are considered true without logical derivation. In fact, if I substitute the word “math” with “science” or “physics” in your claim, it would still be true.

3.

“according to logical rules also AGREED to be applicable”

The question here is : how do/did mathematicians agree which logical rules are applicable ? If one studies the development of mathematics, I believe one would find the process to be not unlike how scientists reach their consensus. Given that scientists are using the same logic too, I would presume that scientists “agree” on the same logical rules for similar reasons.

4.

“In math, there are entirely consistent (and elegant and beautiful) structures and systems…….”

I would like to raise one minor and irrelevant point here : that no one has proved mathematics is self-consistent. In fact, by Godel’s Incomplete Theorem, such a proof doesn’t exist in most cases.

5.

“mathematicians are overrepresented among the “scientists” who are creationists”

This is not an objection… but can you provide some evidence on this claim ?

6.

“Science, by extreme contrast, is not permitted to ASSUME anything is true at all.”

hmm… again, what exactly do you think mathematicians assume to be true ? Why do they assume those things true ? How does the process differ from the way scientists assure something to be true ?

—————————-

I agree that, by definition, science deals with natural phenomena while mathematics might not. But I do not agree with your implication that scientific method is not used (or is not useful) in the practice of mathematics.

At the end, let me mention that under some form of Mathematical realism, I see strong parallel between mathematics and science.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics

Comment #77533

Posted by Craig Duncan on February 4, 2006 10:31 PM (e)

Repetitive DNA functions as a sort of annealing agent in the genome.
Within a population DNA structures are homogenized by gene conversion. Interspersed repeats insert regions of non-homology that uncouple DNA sequences from conversion, allowing new genes to evolve.
Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interspersed_repeat
or http://www.repetitive-dna.org for more details