Mike Dunford posted Entry 1944 on January 26, 2006 03:33 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1939

Let’s say that you are someone who is interested in science, knows a bit about it, but aren’t an expert. You might be someone who reads a lot of popular science books, or who watches a lot of science programs on tv. You might read a lot of science fiction. It’s even possible that you are a science fiction author.

You have heard a bit about the whole intelligent design thing, but you may not have been following it closely - particularly when it’s not in the news. You are also at least a bit disposed to root for the underdog. It’s a better story, and you know that it has been real sometimes. People really did laugh at Fulton and the Wright Brothers, and some scientific theories have faced opposition from entrenched opponents. So how do you know that this isn’t the case with Intelligent Design? Why should you trust us when we tell you that the ID people aren’t really doing science, and that their real motives are much, much more political than scientific. Why shouldn’t you believe the DI’s claims that we represent an entrenched “Darwinian orthodoxy?”

Read More (at The Questionable Authority):

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

Comment #75874

Posted by GT(N)T on January 26, 2006 7:30 AM (e)

Great analysis. Had creationists any honor, they would be embarrassed to be part of such a movement.

My only quibble with your article is the phrase, ““A simple Bayesian probability analysis…”, such a contratiction in terms makes my head spin.

Comment #75882

Posted by Jan on January 26, 2006 8:19 AM (e)

The February 2006 issue of The Reader’s Digest included an article by Randall Sullivan. The article had nothing to do with evolution but did have a comment that seemed very pertinent here.

Sullivan wrote about an intern named Melvin Morse. Morse has a medical degree from George Washington Universe and a research fellowship funded by the Nation Cancer Institute. His work with near death children surprised him so that he became intriqued with their experiences and began a long term study. It is not the study that I wish to share here, but rather a remark that he is quoted with. As he began to be confronted with the very real sense of a Person or Intelligence that children met on the other side, he said, “…I’m deliberately holding back from dealing with it, because I know that once I cross that line, I’m no longer a scientist.”

I often hear the people who oppose the mention of ID in a favorable light use this doctrine. It has become acceptable within the “scientific community” that the two are mutually exclusive. If a person believes there is an Intelligence and a design behind our universe, they are not accepted within the scientific community. Will one ever find truth by beginning with a conclusion and then setting about to prove it? If a scientist stumbles upon something that is not popular with the scientific community, must he, like Dr. Morse, cease to be a “scientist”?

Comment #75883

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 8:27 AM (e)

I don’t know a *lot* of history about ID and I’ve been corrected on a previous post that I’m a “theistic evolutionist” or some such title…but I’m having trouble with the arguments presented in the article you’re speaking about.

I think I fit into the category of someone interested in science, but not an expert. The article only proves that there’s a disparity between the number of supporting “press releases” vs “scientific documents” released by an ID-advocating organization (DI)

To be totally frank, I felt like the entry on “The Questionable Authority” was unconvincing to your average layperson (me) as to whether or not ID = science. I was only convinced that the author counted up the number of documents and articles, did some math, and decided that ID != science because there’s a disparity between the numbers.

In your defense, you’re very specific in saying that the ID people aren’t doing “science” but have more political motivations; which the article demonstrated by nitpicking the inconsistencies in the presentation of their materials.

However the arguments presented make me feel like I’m reading one of those, “My dad can beat up your dad” types of evaluations that don’t *mean* anything to the average Joe. Once again I’m revealing some of my ignorance because I don’t have a full grasp of what the ID agenda really is and isn’t. But I guess comparing the amount of publications seems trivial to me.

Comment #75884

Posted by Caledonian on January 26, 2006 8:41 AM (e)

If the question were “Which of these people is the better student?”, and we compared their grades on the same coursework, and one consistently received ‘A’s while the other received ‘C’s:

Would you say that the difference in grades is trivial and nitpicking, or that you don’t see the difference in their performance?

Comment #75885

Posted by Moses on January 26, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

Comment #75882

Posted by Jan on January 26, 2006 08:19 AM (e)

The February 2006 issue of The Reader’s Digest included an article by Randall Sullivan. The article had nothing to do with evolution but did have a comment that seemed very pertinent here.

Sullivan wrote about an intern named Melvin Morse. Morse has a medical degree from George Washington Universe and a research fellowship funded by the Nation Cancer Institute. His work with near death children surprised him so that he became intrigued with their experiences and began a long term study. It is not the study that I wish to share here, but rather a remark that he is quoted with. As he began to be confronted with the very real sense of a Person or Intelligence that children met on the other side, he said, “…I’m deliberately holding back from dealing with it, because I know that once I cross that line, I’m no longer a scientist.”

I often hear the people who oppose the mention of ID in a favorable light use this doctrine. It has become acceptable within the “scientific community” that the two are mutually exclusive. If a person believes there is an Intelligence and a design behind our universe, they are not accepted within the scientific community. Will one ever find truth by beginning with a conclusion and then setting about to prove it? If a scientist stumbles upon something that is not popular with the scientific community, must he, like Dr. Morse, cease to be a “scientist”?

Ah, yes, I read about someone else experiencing this “unexplainable” occurrence, therefore it must be a true vision of the Lord!

It’s not unexplainable.

When a person is dying, all kinds of weird things are going on. Unfortunately, since doctors are trying to save the person’s life instead of conducting a broad spectrum of tests on the dying person, science remains stunted in this area (and (properly) hopefully will probably remain so forever).

However, there are a number of theories as to why, including the body releasing it’s own anesthetics (the only one I’ll touch upon). I personally favor this aspect as a primary (but not necessarily exclusive) cause in the it’s “just biology” theory of NDEs because it’s been shown the body does have the capacity to self-anesthetize AND that certain common anesthetics (such as Ketamine HCL) administered in controlled experiments (and in hospitals) produce the same subjective experience as those who report NDEs.

So, why would I go down the “this proves God” road when controlled experiments have produced the same euphoric visions? And we’re talking the white light, meeting God, etc. So, why would I abandon rationality when rationality gets me rational results?

Comment #75887

Posted by Aagcobb on January 26, 2006 9:00 AM (e)

Jon, I understand your comment, and it might help you to place things into context. The DI, which has a strong interest in promoting the idea that Intelligent Design is scientific, could only come up with 34 publications which were arguably scientific covering a twenty year span, and that number included a lot of double counting. In contrast, thousands of articles are published by scientists in peer reviewed journals every year which use evolutionary theory in their research. If intelligent design was an accurate scientific model of the real world, one would expect that scientists would find it very useful in their research, and it would start generating exciting insights into biology leading to breakthroughs in medicine, genetics and other fields. If evolutionary theory were false, one would expect that scientists would discover they were getting poor results using it, and grants would start drying up. The fact that scientists find virtually no utility to ID in research, while in contrast evolutionary theory is an invaluable tool, argues very strongly that IDism is not scientific.

Comment #75889

Posted by Caledonian on January 26, 2006 9:11 AM (e)

It’s standard scientific procedure to release papers, not press releases, because scientists are supposed to be primarily concerned with the verification and replication of their results.

If the DI is concerned with the verification and replication of their results, why is their article/press release ratio so very, very low? That ratio implies negligible concern for the workings of science and a very great concern with public perception.

Comment #75890

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 9:11 AM (e)

Caledonian #75884 wrote:

If the question were “Which of these people is the better student?”, and we compared their grades on the same coursework, and one consistently received ‘A’s while the other received ‘C’s:

Would you say that the difference in grades is trivial and nitpicking, or that you don’t see the difference in their performance?

I don’t think that’s comparing apples to apples. If I were to summarize the conclusions in the article:

Since DI produces a press release at the rate of 1 every 2 days and a scientific document at the rate of 1 every 217 days, they obviously have a more political agenda.

The title of the article, “How can you tell it isn’t science” leads me to believe that the author is going to show me why ID isn’t science…not tell me how many different papers that DI has published. If the article was titled, “Why the DI has a political agenda” would be more fitting or even a broader title like, “ID is more politics than science”.

Reading the opening paragraph and the title misled me to believe that I was going to learn something that I didn’t. That’s why it felt like nitpicking about “how many papers come from DI” rather than actually explaining how I can tell that ID != science.

Comment #75891

Posted by Caledonian on January 26, 2006 9:16 AM (e)

The fact that so little is being published about or in reference to their “work” indicates in itself that ID is highly unlikely to have scientific merit. (That’s just a fairly reliable indicator, of course - it’s merely circumstantial and thus doesn’t prove anything. A rudimentary examination of the claims proves it’s not scientific or useful.)

The article then goes further to identify the motivation for the constant claims of scientific breakthroughs, and produces a fairly reliable indicator of that. But as far as the main point goes, it’s already been made.

Comment #75892

Posted by Wislu Plethora on January 26, 2006 9:17 AM (e)

Jan:

If you had the responsibility of medically treating a severely ill child who thinks he might have just seen God, which of the following would you do:

A) Tell the child and his parents that God is in charge, and to see Him for further advice and treatment, or

B) Continue the course of therapeutic or palliative care and not let the patient’s visions affect the treatment strategy.

Which would you consider the scientific approach? Why should your opinion of the source of the vision affect your clinical decisions?

Comment #75893

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 9:20 AM (e)

Aagcobb wrote:

–snip–
The DI, which has a strong interest in promoting the idea that Intelligent Design is scientific, could only come up with 34 publications which were arguably scientific covering a twenty year span, and that number included a lot of double counting. In contrast, thousands of articles are published by scientists in peer reviewed journals every year which use evolutionary theory in their research. If intelligent design was an accurate scientific model of the real world, one would expect that scientists would find it very useful in their research, and it would start generating exciting insights into biology leading to breakthroughs in medicine, genetics and other fields.
–snip–

Now I do agree that it’s apparent that the DI is more concerned about their image than producing actualy scientific evidence. It’s also obvious to me that ID, regardless of how strongly the advocates believe in it, have a hard time ‘proving’ their theories. I think that the article is definitely geared towards people who have already drawn the conclusion that ID is false and Darwin was right. This is “one more chink in the armor” of ID by proving that they can’t produce anything tangible.

My best analogy to the article is:
“Cadillac is better than Lexus because they sold more vehicles in the US”
We all know that the conclusion doesn’t fit the statement because of several factors (cost, availability, etc). But arriving at that conclusion based solely on the number of vehicles sold paints a very narrow picture.

Comment #75894

Posted by Moses on January 26, 2006 9:21 AM (e)

Comment #75883

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 08:27 AM (e)

However the arguments presented make me feel like I’m reading one of those, “My dad can beat up your dad” types of evaluations that don’t *mean* anything to the average Joe. Once again I’m revealing some of my ignorance because I don’t have a full grasp of what the ID agenda really is and isn’t. But I guess comparing the amount of publications seems trivial to me.

Really? To me it seems obvious. Where is the effort focused? PR in the culture war of their making or in their stated purpose of developing ID?

The DI is not really much different than any other charitable-political organization. They spend little effort on their “purpose” and a lot in PR because they’re not about their “purpose,” they’re about the politics. And politics takes a lot of PR and little (or no) science.

If they were interested in making ID a viable scientific theory, they’d be channeling their resources to the development of ID. They’re not.

Comment #75895

Posted by Raging Bee on January 26, 2006 9:21 AM (e)

Jan: the intern doing this research probably felt that he would be “no longer a scientist” because he would have been dealing with purely subjective and unverifiable claims and experiences – not because he would have been crossing some atheistic orthodoxy by doing so.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure why this intern had a problem; he may have felt, as a mere intern, that he was acting outside the bounds of his own competence. In any case, research into NDEs could have qualified as “psychology,” with the understanding that such experiences could, like hallucinations or other convictions induced by physical or emotional stress, be subjective and “real” (to the patient at least) at the same time.

PS: are you the same as “Jon?”

Comment #75897

Posted by Raging Bee on January 26, 2006 9:34 AM (e)

Wislu Plethora: you forgot to mention option C: continue treatment, but encourage the kid to talk or write about his experience.

Comment #75900

Posted by JRQ on January 26, 2006 9:57 AM (e)

The ratio of press releases to to scientific papers for get-your-hands-dirty empirical work in pretty much every legitimate area (evolution especially) is less than 1 to 1….FAR, FAR less. That’s something I think a lot of lay people don’t realize…that every area has an enormous volume of peer-reviewed work that is just as high quality as anything else, but never makes it the popular press because it isn’t deemed novel or sexy enough.

For ID to be almost 100 to 1 indicates it’s not even in the same universe as science.

Comment #75901

Posted by Peter Henderson on January 26, 2006 10:09 AM (e)

I think I would probably be classed as one of those people who while not being an expert, know at least something about science.

Although I don’t have a degree I have done degree level science, and in my time I have had experience of scientific methods of analysis such as infra-red spectroscopy,UV spectroscopy,gas chromatography and organic synthesis etc. so I think that qualifies me to make some sort of judgement on ID and creationism and why they are not science but philosophy.

You are correct Mike in assuming people like myself watch a lot of science programmes on TV. Two of the best here in the UK in my opinion are the BBC’s Horizon along with the monthly astronomy series the sky at night. Guess what the title of tonight’s Horizon is ? A war on science. It’s all about the ID movement and creationism in the US and according to AIG will feature a bit on their creation museum as well as ID proponents such as Philip Johnston and Michael Behe atc. Should be interesting for those of us in the UK.

Comment #75902

Posted by Julie Stahlhut on January 26, 2006 10:10 AM (e)

Sullivan wrote about an intern named Melvin Morse… His work with near death children surprised him so that he became intriqued with their experiences and began a long term study… As he began to be confronted with the very real sense of a Person or Intelligence that children met on the other side, he said, “…I’m deliberately holding back from dealing with it, because I know that once I cross that line, I’m no longer a scientist.”

First of all, the intern was speaking to a writer, not writing a scientific paper, so I’d cut him considerable slack on his choice of words. I’d interpret his quote as, “… Once I cross that line, I’m no longer doing scientific research into the physiology or psychology of life-threatening illness, but rather considering philosophical or religious questions about death and dying.” Not all individuals are inclined to do both, but there’s nothing that says a specific individual can’t do both.

There is a clinical literature on NDEs, and I’d be surprised if Dr. Morse isn’t familiar with it. The Readers Digest, of course, is a very different kind of publication – it’s known for, among other things, its sentimental human-interest stories. Quotes from the medical literature won’t sell copies of the RD, but stories about a physician who works with dying children certainly will.

I’ve also commented at The Questionable Authority about some different red flags that distinguish science from pseudoscience. Publication count over time may be one, but the key words are “over time”, since every real scientific advance was new at one time. The things that peg the needle of my own frass detector (see below) are more along these lines:

* Grandiose claims about the potential of their scientific ideas by people who have never set foot in the lab or field.

* Claims that only an outsider can fix what’s “wrong” with a different field. Note that this doesn’t mean that someone can’t make significant contributions to a field in which s/he doesn’t have advanced degrees. But if I claimed I could revolutionize astrophysics by applying evolutionary theory to planetary motion and had the Ph.D. in biology to prove it, I’d hope that listeners would be skeptical!

* Constant complaining about being shut out of mainstream scientific practice and publication by people who don’t seem to have a clear concept of how scientific research is done. (The mechanical establishment won’t let me get a job repairing cars, by the way. They just keep telling me that I first have to learn how engines and transmissions and things like that work!)

There are others, but if you want a more comprehensive (and entertaining) read than I can provide, I’d suggest Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science for starters. The book is nearly 50 years old, but is still timely.

(“Frass”, for those wondering, is a term that an entomologist would use for those little plops of undigested leaf remnants often seen dropping from the caudal end of a caterpillar. I figured it wouldn’t tweak the scatology detector too badly.)

Comment #75904

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 10:15 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

PS: are you the same as “Jon?”

Nope…Jan and Jon are different people :)

Comment #75906

Posted by AD on January 26, 2006 10:25 AM (e)

Pretty on target…

Jon, what’s really wrong with ID being science is simple:

-ID appeals to supernatural authority.

-ID does not make testable and falsifiable predictions based on empirical data.

-ID has, as of yet, not published significant research or performed research about their theories.

-ID does not have any scientific utility in predicting or generating future results.

The article largely deals with #3, but generally when #3 is missing, it’s a good indicator that there are other problems. Hardly an open and shut case without more investigation, but if you want more investigation, just google the Dover opinion and read that. For a lay-person, the bit about “Is ID science or not?” should be pretty quick and understandable.

Comment #75907

Posted by rdog29 on January 26, 2006 10:36 AM (e)

Jon -

I haven’t read the Questionable Authority article because the text shows up as gobbledy-gook on my computer. So maybe I should stay quiet, but I’ll try to be helpful.

I too am really just an interested layman when it comes to evolutionary theory, but I think I have a good idea of what science in general should be.

You will hear the DI and other ID advocates talk a lot about the “flaws” in evolutionary theory. There’s just once catch - there are no flaws in evolutionary theory in the sense that no data has yet been found that is inconsistent with evolutionary theory. While it’s true that our knowledge of the evolutionary history of the descent of life, biochemical structures and reaction pathways, etc, is incomplete, this is not justification for claiming that evolutionary theory is flawed and needs to be replaced. Our knowledge of Gravity is also incomplete, yet no one seriously claims that there’s a “conroversy” in Physics.

How is a theory found to be defective or incomplete? The first step is that data is found that is incompatible with current theory - such as what happened at the dawn of Big Bang cosmology, or the problem of Black Body Radiation which led to the beginnings of quantum theory.

At present there are no “problems” with evolutionary theory that are analagous to the “problems” in Physics at the start of the 20th Century. There are no “anamalous” biological data, and ID “theorists” have not formulated a dependable method to tell us how or where to detect design. The “theoretical” construction of a Designer is completely superfluous because there are no “problems” that a “Designer” can solve (not to mention the more metaphysical implications of the “Designer” concept).

This is why the publication record of ID is so sparse. No useful research results have been published in professional journals - where the methods and results of researches are critiqued and evaluated, and where good ideas and results inspire other researchers to expand on those results.

Unless and until ID “researchers” can generate evidence that is truly anomalous to evolutionary theory, or formulate a theory that reliably tells us how and where to detect design, there will be no “other side” to the debate.

So why should a “theory” with no working model and no data be taught in science classes? Here we enter the political arena - and it is indeed a politcal issue because there is no scientific issue -and I have to stop now ‘cause I’m out of time.

Comment #75909

Posted by rdog29 on January 26, 2006 11:11 AM (e)

Oh, and one more thing, Jon.

You’ll notice that the vast maojority of the prominent ID advocates are not practicing evolutionary biologists.

The one with perhaps the most impressive scientific credentials is Michael Behe - a biochemist. But at the Dover trial he admitted to being ignorant of recent work that utterly destroyed his own examples of irreducible complexity.

These people are armchair critics - lawyers, theologians, a few engineers perhaps. This is like you telling your electrician what’s wrong with his methods (assuming of course that you’re not an electrician.)

True scientific paradigm change comes from within - it was physicists who discovered the problems with classical physics and formulated new theories, not lawyers who demanded to “teach the controversy” in public schools.

Comment #75910

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 26, 2006 11:25 AM (e)

If a person believes there is an Intelligence and a design behind our universe, they are not accepted within the scientific community.

Cattle effluence. You seem to be saying that science and religion are mutually exclusive. This is not the case, and the counter-examples are numerous. Scientists may be religions. There is only a problem if they confuse their religion with their science.

If a scientist stumbles upon something that is not popular with the scientific community, must he, like Dr. Morse, cease to be a “scientist”?

Bleep no. Example: the idea that ulcers are caused by bacterial infection was very unpopular amongst the relevant medical specialists when it was first proposed. The proponents came up with lots and lots of evidence to support their proposal. The more radical a scientific idea, the greater the rewards. There’s that pesky little issue of evidence though, and testability, and other scientific concepts.

Comment #75913

Posted by allygally on January 26, 2006 11:50 AM (e)

rdog29 writes;

“So why should a “theory” with no working model and no data be taught in science classes? Here we enter the political arena - and it is indeed a political issue because there is no scientific issue…”

It may be of interest to the British lurkers (like me) that tonight (26th)at 9pm (UK time, Horizon on BBC2) has a documentary on intelligent design. To the point made by rdog29, the “blurb” for the show reads:

“A thought provoking look at the theory of intelligent design, whose followers seek to replace science with religion”.

A perfect summation, if you ask me.

Comment #75917

Posted by BWE on January 26, 2006 12:21 PM (e)

Thordaddy, http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/another_religio.html#comment-75877
" rel="external nofollow">in answer to why you aren’t posting for now at PT.

-I posted this over at the questionable authority but it didn’t show up so I am doing it again here, sorry about the double post if it shows up there.

It seems that Larry/Thordaady/M/pro from dover has derailed this thread a little. If you are just finding this article and are seriously wondering what all the hoopla is about, skip his posts.

The main idea I think is that science is a discipline where we measure things, draw inferences from the data, make hypotheses (guesses) about mechanisms that might have led to the data we measured, then if it’s really cool science, we get to test our guesses by designing experiments that attempt to prove or disprove our mechanistic guesses.

That’s it. Science can not collect data on god The scientific discipline can not test hypotheses about god so scientists don’t. (if you figure out how it will be a big deal) However, the discipline can make lots of measurements of living organisms so we can design lots of tests to see whether evolution as a hypothesis washes out or stands up to the tests.

So far, 100% of the data and experiments have supported the hypothesis of evolution. Some experimental results have modified and enhanced our understanding of the mechanistic properties of evolution and some have merely supported it but none have provided evidence that it doesn’t happen. At some point, especially when the data and experiments come from lots of different sub disciplines in science (geology, biology, archeology, astronomy, physics, genetics, physical geography, etc.)and the hypothesis has stood up to all the critical analysis that other scientists have thrown at it, it becomes a theory, meaning you can safely use the mechanistic inferences as true in other experiments.

For example, I am currently working on a project examining what effect sport fishing has on various groundfish in the Pacific Northwest at various depths; I can assume that there will be selective pressure so I am looking for what the effects of that are. But all I do at first is gather a bunch of data. Now if my data showed that the different species aren’t adapting whatsoever, I could say, hey maybe this is worth its own experiment. What we might be finding is actually the opposite, the rate of mutation appears to increase sharply as populations become stressed. But I cannot say that right now with assurance because that is sort of a little statistical anomaly we are noticing. To measure that more accurately we will have to run DNA scans on a lot more fish and figure out how to design that experiment.

But the important thing is that we started by collecting data. We will design experiments to try to figure out what the data means. So there is this cycle.
1 want to know something
2 collect data
3 guess possible meanings of the data
4 design experiments to test your guesses
5 goto line 2

And it loops until you are either satisfied, run out of money, or the IDists win.

What data is ID using? The eye is complex? What experiments could I design around that? How would I test it?

I can’t using the discipline of science. If the fellow with apparent multiple personalities wants to bitch and moan about how pitiful science is at philosophy then just let me reply that philosophy doesn’t do well with science either.

-And in reply to this thread: The article is talking to scientists. I too deal with fairly narrow topics and I can find sometimes thousands of peer-reviewed published articles on similar things so I can use data that someone else has gathered, use conclusions that someone else has arrived at, look at methods someone else has devised and employ those methods and conclusions in experiments I might design. ID doesn’t have any data or methods I might be able to use to help me design an experiment to test whether things have been specifically designed so I am walking into totally uncharted territory if I want to use science to test for design. Not that that in and of itself is bad necessarily, but for an organization to claim that there is a controversy, you would expect them to have a reason to make that claim and they don’t have one. So, the lack of science in their publications is, in fact, evidence that they don’t have any.

Comment #75918

Posted by BWE on January 26, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/01/another_religio.html#comment-75877

oops. here you go thordaddy

Comment #75921

Posted by RBH on January 26, 2006 12:37 PM (e)

Mike wrote on TQA

I think that attitude says a little something right there - slap a new label on it, and everything will be fine.

That’s a common ID creationist tactic. Consider the sequence creationism to scientific creationism to creation science to intelligent design to teach the controversy to critical analysis of evolution. That sequence of labels used by anti-evolutionists starting in the 1960s and culminating in 2003 in Ohio, all describe exactly the same content.

A librarian in Ohio Citizens for Science, Tom McIver, has traced the much of the content (and occasionally nearly the same wording) of the creationist “critical analysis of evolution” model lesson plan in Ohio directly back to creationist tracts published in the 1960s and 1960s. Ecclesiastes was right: There is nothing new under the sun, at least not in creationist circles.

Not long ago Henry Morris, emeritus director of the Institute for Creation Research took William Dembski to task for stealing creationist ideas without attribution:

Our other hesitation to get on this bandwagon is their use of the same arguments and evidences we Biblical creationists have used for years, while simultaneously trying to distance themselves from us. Our adherence to Biblical literalism is ridiculed by evolutionists, and the ID advocates would be embarrassed to be tarred with the same brush. In fact, Dembski goes so far as to say belief in evolution itself is okay, as long as it’s not naturalistic.

Dembski responded by arguing (among other sidesteps) that ID advocates are just formalizing creationist ideas:

The problem with creationism’s approach to design detection and ruling out chance is that its relevant concepts (like “organized complexity”) were never developed beyond the intuitive, pretheoretic level (and this is true even of A. E. Wilder-Smith’s ideas about information). Morris confirms this charge near the close of his book review: “A school child can easily tell a rounded stone from a crafted arrowhead–one shaped by natural forces, the other by skilled human hands. Just so, the incredible organized complexity of even the simplest one-celled organism speaks clearly of intelligent design, and one should not need sophisticated rhetoric or math to recognize this.”

By contrast, much of my own work on intelligent design has been filling in the details of these otherwise intuitive, pretheoretic ideas of creationists.

Sure enough. Same old garbage in a shiny new trash can.

RBH

Comment #75925

Posted by J. G. Cox on January 26, 2006 12:59 PM (e)

Perhaps Jon’s questions would be better addressed by explaining the importance of publications in science. This can be summed up as follows:
Science, as currently practiced, *is* publication. As a scientist, you might have the most revolutionary new insights in the history of the discipline, but until you publish it in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, you don’t exist. You might get earth-shaking empirical data from an experiment you just performed, and you might present this data at 50 scientific conferences and write 3 books about it, but until you publish it in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the data don’t exist for the rest of the scientific community to evaluate. As a graduate student in ecology, my future job prospects are tightly correlated with how many peer-reviewed articles I publish and with how well-respected are the journals in which I get published.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, peer-reviewed articles are required to follow a certain format which requires intelligible presentation of assumptions, data, methodology, etc. Having this standardized means of presentation ensures that other scientists are given the information required to critically evaluate your work. Thus, shoddy work or fraud (I’m thinking about a certain cloning researcher), or remarkably good or groundbreaking work seldom go unnoticed for long. Also, the peer-review that occurs prior to publication ensures that other scientists with relevant expertise have already vetted the work for problems that the original researcher might not have addressed. This maintains quality and also helps reduce fraud.
The importance of publication to science has been addressed elsewhere in more detail, I believe. Hopefully my little summary gives an idea of why scientists make such a big deal about publications.
In science, until you publish in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, your work does not exist. Among the ID publications, the few that are even remotely tied to modern science are a few philosophical pieces mostly in science/philosophy journals. Thus, acording to the standards of modern science, the ID cabal has accomplished exactly nothing.

Comment #75926

Posted by RupertG on January 26, 2006 1:36 PM (e)

For an interesting aside on near-death experiences, take a look at the work of irrepressible academic Susan Blackmore. She started out on her scientific career investigating paranormal phenomena, and took a particular interest in NDEs. Her findings are summarised here - but the rest of her site is worth half an hour of anyone’s time.

R

(PS - according to a friend who was at a party with her last night, “Sue Blackmore’s hair has gone quite white — and green, and red, with only a few yellow streaks left.”)

Comment #75927

Posted by Jon on January 26, 2006 1:39 PM (e)

Thanks everyone for the “knowledge nuggets”. I only maintain a passing interest in the ID versus Evolution debate; but I enjoy reading what everyone posts here on Panda’s Thumb and I’m glad that I don’t get flamed for my ignorance :)

Comment #75928

Posted by gwangung on January 26, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Hm. Something else to emphasize is that scientific papers consist of data AND the conclusions/inferences that scientists daw from that data.

Creationists forget this (or obscure it). They treat scientific papers solely as rhetoric and think you can argue against the words and dismiss the argument. They forget all about the data that scientists base their words off of…and that’s how they can fool the public, who also forget about that data.

Comment #75929

Posted by Raging Bee on January 26, 2006 1:52 PM (e)

Jon: generally you don’t get flamed for being dumb here; you get flamed for being stupid. There’s a difference. You might want to wander among the previous posts here, with or without trying to follow the comments.

Comment #75931

Posted by AD on January 26, 2006 2:23 PM (e)

Jon,

Nice post. If more people would simply admit they don’t know and evaluate the evidence fairly, we wouldn’t have this problem. Anyone who is willing to ask sensible questions and listen to sensible answers is going to be welcome in scientific circles.

The problem is when people ask insensible questions (such as those already directly falsified in public forums) and then blatantly refuse to listen to sensible answers (such as links to said falsification), then claim science is “in crisis” or something equally nuts.

Or, in short, asking questions and learning as you are doing is the solution, not the problem.

Comment #75934

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 26, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

Unfortunately, the PR is put out precisely because it is more effective than is any “ID substance”. A superficial argument here, a claim to be today’s Galileo there, and the right strings are plucked to sound as if ID might be science after all.

There are numerous objections that could be thought to counter the PR to “scientific output” ratio at DI. One could say that various IDists did the work, but they can’t get published and lack the funding to proceed further in their serious scientific endeavors (so it’s not true–how do you show this?). And I’m sure that Galileo would have been happy if he’d had the DI to put out a bunch of promotional materials to counter the Establishment view. One might argue that the DI is only supporting an unjustly maligned science, that it may be that they must do this before most of the real work can be done (again, not true, but how to demonstrate this to the slightly interested on-looker?).

I don’t find the following at all convincing:

“A simple Bayesian probability analysis can show that it is extremely unlikely that someone whose ‘scientific theory’ is being mocked is actually right”

The above has no bearing on any scientific theory that is correct yet being mocked.

This all brings us back to questions of why ID is not science. The lack of output is supportive of the reasons ID is not science, because it is a result of ID not being science. But it is not the reason ID isn’t science.

The big reason ID isn’t science is that there is no evidence for this “designer”. That is to say, we have to counter the BS of Dembski and Behe. “Irreducible complexity” is only that, irreducible complexity–the only scientific explanations for it have come from evolution. Any time complexity cannot be explained it is because there is no adequate explanation at the present time. One cannot just re-define complex information to be “specified”, do a statistical analysis of it based upon the assumption that only one solution could work, and claim that statistics show something to be designed. There has to be reasons for thinking that something is designed prior to even doing the statistics.

ID lacks positive evidence altogether, which is why Dembski tries for the wholly reprehensible “negative induction”. Evolution can’t explain it (nothing has shown this, of course), so the designer did it. To the slightly interested and adequately educated observer we should be able to show just what a crock this is. Using analogies, one should be able to show the interested layman that we are not allowed to invoke Brahma or Raven every time we are stuck on a problem.

Then there is a host of positive evidence for evolution, which is probably even better to present to the interested layman (layperson, whatever). That is to say, first the attack the false dichotomy set up by IDists, then ask the layman if he really thinks that it is accidental that chimps share 96% or more of our DNA, or if it is by chance that the same genetic material and codes are used across the realm of life. Is it by chance that the phyla are related to each other according to all DNA evidence (never mind that phyla lack transitional fossils of probably soft-bodied animals)? Is it by chance that mice serve as good lab proxies for humans, pigs better ones, and chimps the best of all? Is it by chance that the hominid lineage looks more ape-like the further back we go into the fossil record? Is it by chance that cynodonts appear at about the expected time for mammalian divergence from the reptiles?

That is to say, evolutionary biologists have something to write about, which is why they write so much. And it would be well to give some examples of why evolutionary biologists write so much, and contrast this to the paltry Goddidit nonsense that is written by the IDiots.

I doubt I’d have been the slightest bit impressed by the ratios of PR and “science” coming out of the DI, back when I was studying these things. People want something to hang their beliefs onto, not an elitist-sounding journal count or some such thing.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #75938

Posted by Corkscrew on January 26, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

Off-topic but gaaaaaaah - I thought my fellow countrymen were better at religious apathy than this

Comment #75939

Posted by allygally on January 26, 2006 3:18 PM (e)

Corkscrew
“Off-topic but gaaaaaaah - I thought my fellow countrymen were better at religious apathy than this”

It’s not off topic. The topic of this thread is “how can you tell it’s science?”, and the Guardian blurb on the programme is :

“Thought provoking look at the theory of intelligent design , whose followers seek to replace science with religion”.

So very on-topic.

You forgot to mention that the Horizon programme which accompanies the poll is on BBC2 at 9 tonight (UK time). Watch it. I will.

Comment #75940

Posted by Spike on January 26, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

OK,

Here is the only scientific paper that one can link from the Discovery Institute’s list of “Peer-Reviewed, Peer-Edited, and other Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated)” http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2640&program=CSC%20-%20Scientific%20Research%20and%20Scholarship%20-%20Science . (The rest you have to pay the publishers for, I suppose):

http://www.weloennig.de/DynamicGenomes.html

1. Can you, dear reader, understand it?
If so, could you explain it to us lay people?

2. Is it science?

Caveat Poster I have no special allegiance to “Darwinsists” (whatever those are), evolutionists, scientists or the people who feel they represent the Truth of Evolution. So don’t play into OSC’s hand and don’t use logical fallacies.

If you want to dismember this paper, do so on rational, scientific grounds. Por favor.

Thanks!

Comment #75941

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 26, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

According to the “design theorists” at uncommon dissent yet Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

Spoiler: This is a knee slapper to be sure…

Comment #75942

Posted by Mike Dunford on January 26, 2006 4:08 PM (e)

Spike:

It’s been a while since I read that particular paper, so I’ll have to take another look at it before I can critique it. I’ll try to get to it in the near future, but I have a stack of reading to do for classes first.

–Mike

Comment #75943

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 26, 2006 4:24 PM (e)

Bleh!. The mouthwash, Igor, quikly!

Philosophical Godel-ian gobbledygook, expressed in ungrammatical “English” (how did that slide by the “reviewers,” whatever else they thought they were doing?), written by an obvious non-biologist, and failing even to understand the concept of “emergent properties” that is by now almost fundamental to the field of chaos theory (in which this “journal” evidently resides).

I think “knee-slapper” is being awfully kind. More like dental surgery without the anaesthetic. Only a non-biologist with a precommitment to ID like Dembski could possibly view this paper as an accomplishment rather than an embarassment.

Comment #75944

Posted by Russell on January 26, 2006 4:34 PM (e)

According to the “design theorists” at uncommon dissent yet Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

The “headline” says it “passes” peer review, but if you read the blog post (by scordova, btw, not Dembski) it just says it was “submitted” to a peer-reviewed journal. Maybe in Cordova’s Universe that’s the same thing.

Comment #75945

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 26, 2006 4:40 PM (e)

Thanks, Russell. That may well explain the atrocious quality.

How could I be stupid enough (not “ignorant,” because I certainly should know better!) to assume that Dembski would fail to embellish something like this.

Though I’m frankly surprised that Cordova came a little closer…

What a crew!

Comment #75946

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 26, 2006 4:53 PM (e)

Well, I dropped by Dembski’s blog using my registration name over there, and asked, as politely and as neutrally as I could (using quotes from the wording of the headline and body of the post) what the actual status of the paper was.

Thanks again to Russell for spotting this anamoly!

We’ll see if this generates an informative response.

Or instead leads to my being banned, heh heh.

Comment #75948

Posted by Russell on January 26, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

Cordova says it’s slated for publication:

Chaos, Solitons & Fractals
Volume 28, Issue 4 , May 2006, Pages 1000-1004

Comment #75950

Posted by Neil on January 26, 2006 5:47 PM (e)

re comment 75398

i thought my fellow country men were better than that too! Shall now despair and go back to my pint.

For those of you who have to really deal with this my moral support
A long time lurker

Comment #75951

Posted by improvius on January 26, 2006 5:49 PM (e)

Voie seems to have proved that we don’t exist:

This leaves us with two mutually dependent categories of chemical structures or events (symbols and cell machinery), which does not fit with the axioms of probability that only consider one-way dependency. Thus, the structure of life has probability zero.

I am filing this under the category of “Refuting Physical Evidence by way of Abstract Reasoning”. This file is, of course, circular. The only remaining question I have is how it passed review.

Comment #75953

Posted by RupertG on January 26, 2006 6:17 PM (e)

Although the BBC Horizon programme tonight didn’t mention the opinion poll conducted to coincide with its transmission, there are some details available via the BBC press office.

I think the problem lies with the wordings of the questions used, which were :–

The statements were:

the ‘evolution theory’ says that human kind has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process;

the ‘creationism theory’ says that God created human kind pretty much in his/her present form at one time within the last 10,000 years;

and the ‘intelligent design’ theory says that certain features of living things are best explained by the intervention of a supernatural being, eg God.

Of those surveyed, 48 per cent said evolution theory most closely describes their view; 22% chose creationism; and 17% chose intelligent design.

Which in my opinion misrepresents evolution. If you’re a Christian who believes in evolution - which describes most of the Christians I know - then you don’t think ‘God had no part in this process’; you think that the result of the evolutionary process is in synch with God’s plan. So I’m not at all surprised that the survey seems to underreport the degree of agreement with evolutionary biology.

R

Comment #75955

Posted by Jason on January 26, 2006 6:29 PM (e)

Hmm,

Is this an admission that ID people aren’t scientists?

Follow me:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/01/kurt_vonnegut_on_darwinism_and.html

They really like Kurt Vonnegut’s saying that scientists are acting tribally when defending evolution.

Mr. VONNEGUT: Where you can see tribal behavior now is in this business about teaching evolution in a science class and intelligent design. It’s the scientists themselves are behaving tribally.

INSKEEP: How are the scientists behaving tribally?

Mr. VONNEGUT: They say, you know, about evolution, it surely happened because their fossil record shows that. But look, my body and your body are miracles of design. Scientists are pretending they have the answer as how we got this way when natural selection couldn’t possibly have produced such machines.

Get that? Scientists are people who defend evolution.
They may be acting tribally, who doesn’t? A hermit? He even said the creationists acted tribally, but that didn’t stop the DI.

But who cares. The important fact is that Vonnegut divided people into those who agree with evolution and called them scientists. Since he didn’t name the other side, I guess he thinks of them as non-scientists. The DI seems to agree with Vonnegut’s take on this whole thing. They agree that they are not scientists, not doing science, and that ID is not science.

Thankfully, Vonnegut is a non-scientist.

I still love his books though.

Comment #75962

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 26, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

Jon, if you want to know whether or not ID is science, here is a simple and effective way to find out:

Go to an ID website. Any one will do. ARN, Discovery Institute, DaveScot’s newfound fiefdom.

Ask them, simply and clearly, to please tell you what the scientific theory of ID is, and how it can be tested using the scientific method.

Then sit back and see what responses you get.

Comment #75963

Posted by Peter Henderson on January 26, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

I thought the horizon programme this evening was interesting. It didn’t even mention the creation museum as Ken Ham said in his blog today but there were extensive interviews with all the DI people - Johnston,Dembskie,Behe, and Meyer. Also featured were David attenborough and Richard Dawkins along with Barbara Forest and Kenneth Miller. I thought Dr. Miller was as usual excellent, but he didn’t get nearly enough time to explain the shortcomings of ID like he did in his talk in Ohio.

Comment #75964

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 26, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

Cordova says it’s slated for publication:

Hey, where IS Sal? I have thirty-some questions to ask him that he ran away from the last time.

Comment #75968

Posted by Russell on January 26, 2006 6:59 PM (e)

According to the “design theorists” at uncommon dissent yet Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

It should also be noted that nowhere in Voie’s paper is “intelligent design” even mentioned, let alone supported.

Comment #75972

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 26, 2006 7:21 PM (e)

The Rev advised…

Jon, if you want to know whether or not ID is science, here is a simple and effective way to find out:

Go to an ID website. Any one will do. ARN, Discovery Institute, DaveScot’s newfound fiefdom.

Ask them, simply and clearly, to please tell you what the scientific theory of ID is, and how it can be tested using the scientific method.

Then sit back and see what responses you get.

Jon, if you’re still tracking this subject, that was good advice given by Lenny. You can go to William Dembski’s Intelligent Design blog at

uncommondescent

and pose those questions there. Let them know you are not a scientist and let them know you are new to the debate. Basically, be honest and ask them the questions Lenny suggested (in your own words).

And they ban people from that site who post things here that they do not appreciate so use a different login name than Jon to be safe.

There are a ton of posts there, dig in and read some as well as all the comments.

And not everyone here is a scientist :-) From one non-scientist to another, welcome to the Pandas Thumb.

You might also find the “After the Bar Closes” forum (a spin off of this forum) usefull because there you can initiate posts instead of just replying to them. From the main Pandas Thumb page, you’ll find the link to that forum on the right side of the page —————————————————–>

Cheers!

Comment #75973

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 26, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

According to the “design theorists” at uncommon dissent yet Another Pro-ID Paper Passes Peer Review

Great. Glad to hear it. Congratulations.

What is the scientific theory of ID that is supported in this paper? And how does this paper propose we test this scientific theory of ID, whatever it is, using the scientific method?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought ……

Same crap, different toilet. (shrug)

Comment #75974

Posted by Corkscrew on January 26, 2006 7:39 PM (e)

Yeah, I remember laying into Voie’s paper a while back, then chatting with him on ARN. His explanation of the grammar problem is that his English isn’t terribly good, and he’d been expecting the editors to do something about it but instead they just published it. Which sounds vaguely plausible.

Basically, the big mistake I think he’s making is the attempt to apply fundamentally static behaviours of systems (as expressed in formal logic) to fundamentally dynamic behaviours of systems (such as evolution). I’m pretty sure this is inaccurate.

It’s a vaguely interesting point about the formal-logic foundations of self-replication, but his point is sadly undermined by the existence of comparatively easily achievable self-replicating chemicals.

Comment #75981

Posted by Martin Zeichner on January 26, 2006 9:50 PM (e)

Regarding Jon’s comment:

“However the arguments presented make me feel like I’m reading one of those, “My dad can beat up your dad” types of evaluations that don’t *mean* anything to the average Joe.”

I can understand your reaction but at the same time I have to say that my own reading of Mike’s post on the QA is very different. The question “Is ID science” is a large question because it applies not only to ID but to any other claim that presents itself to the public as science. The way I see it, Mike was simply opening his discussion with a point that not only presents a dramatic difference between the methods of scientists and ID advocates but also is a point that anyone can verify for themselves with a few moments of research on the internet. It also seems to me that there are many other reasons to not regard ID as science.

I have a question for the PT regulars; would it be reasonable to say that a major difference between ID and scientific investigation is that ID appeals to an ultimate cause while science must restrict itself to proximate causes? Phrased like that it avoids the rather messy natural/supernatural argument. It also is clearly illustrated by Dembski’s famous “…pathetic level of detail…” quote ( which quote, by the way, I think reveals the ignorance and arrogance of ID advocates in general and Dembski in particular). That “…pathetic level of detail…” is a major part of the real work of scientists and how interesting it is that Dembski deliberately distances himself from it and sneers at it.

One aspect that I want to emphasize about the ultimate/proximate cause distinction is that any appeal to an ultimate cause from real world observations is by necessity a non sequitur. Just as, as has been pointed out many times, no amount of evolution bashing or probability/complexity arguments can provide support for an otherwise unevidenced designer. Another is that even if scientific investigation comes up with what looks like an ultimate cause (i.e.. the Big Bang) ID advocates like David Headle will simply move the goal-posts and argue that their designer designed the Big Bang. And since it can’t be disproved renders the proposition unfalsifiable.

I’ve been reading the PT for a couple of years and I’m sure that I’ve seen this point made in the past but I think that it is a point that could be emphasized more unless you can point out reasons that this is a poor argument.

Comment #75984

Posted by jonboy on January 26, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

Martin Z
Read Dr Lennys Flanks great post # 74973 Jan 27th 2006, in my humble opinion in says it all

Comment #75988

Posted by roddg on January 26, 2006 10:59 PM (e)

Off topic - How does one find a comment by number in this forum i.e comment no. 74973?

Comment #75990

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 26, 2006 11:16 PM (e)

I think this link provides some insight into the subject at hand.

Last October, prior to the Dover ruling, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Reasearch> hosted an event called “Science Wars: Should Schools Teach Intelligent Design?

Presentations were given by leading experts on both sides of the debate including Ken Miller, Paul Nelson from the Disco, Barbara Forrest, and Richard Thompson from the Thomas More Legal Center. The fact that it took place after the trial but prior to the ruling gives you a fascinating glimpse of the pre-ruling debate. Both sides were still framing their positions and arguements.

Those written presentations are available online as well as the video from each presenter. It is illuminating to say the least. Anyone would be wise to check it out. It is very informative.

*Rod, look in the message box where you see the comments. Each has a title number.

Comment #75991

Posted by Grover Gardner on January 26, 2006 11:30 PM (e)

Re: Chaos, solitons, and fractals

“This journal provides a medium for the rapid publication of full length papers, short communications, reviews, and tutorial articles in bifurcation and singularity theory, deterministic chaos and fractals, stability theory, soliton and coherent phenomena, formation of pattern, evolution, complexity theory and neural networks.”

“Rapid publication”? And they didn’t do any editing or spell-checking? So is this really a peer-review journal, or just a throw-it-out-there bulletin?

Comment #75993

Posted by Martin Zeichner on January 27, 2006 12:31 AM (e)

“Read Dr Lennys Flanks great post # 74973 Jan 27th 2006, in my humble opinion in says it all”

Yes, I am a minor fan of the good reverend doctor. That piece is pithy, well written and I wouldn’t hesitate referring people to it. But it is a trifle cut-and-pasty for my taste. I was really asking if there are any flaws in my own approach for either conversational debate or less formal written discussion.

“Off topic - How does one find a comment by number in this forum i.e comment no. 74973?”

Google on “74973 site: www.pandasthumb.org”

Comment #75994

Posted by Dan Hocson on January 27, 2006 12:46 AM (e)

Re: Voie’s paper…

It’s a tricky read, especially considering that English is not his primary language. I can’t really see how it would qualify as primary research in the traditional scientific sense. It reads more like a review paper or philosophical treatise.

It also isn’t clear from the journal site (granted, I don’t have a subscription) that the article was actually peer reviewed.

And finally, I have difficulty taking seriously any “peer reviewed” article that cites Wikipedia(!) as a reference.

Comment #76041

Posted by Spike on January 27, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

Dan,

Hear! Hear! I was going to bring that up, also. I’m not an expert in Wikipedia, but my understanding is that it amounts to just a little more than a well-moderated and cross-referenced open source blog.

Martin,

I would agree with your differentiation between ultimate/proximate causes. This gets back to the NDE researcher that Jan posted about: He would not, indeed, be doing science, and, therefore, no longer be a scientist (regarding that issue) if he “crossed the line” and pursued ultimate causes.

Thanks, everyone!

Comment #76059

Posted by improvius on January 27, 2006 4:29 PM (e)

And finally, I have difficulty taking seriously any “peer reviewed” article that cites Wikipedia(!) as a reference.

We should be a bit careful here. For the most part, Wikipedia tends to be accurate. In case this article turns out to be one of their primary set pieces, we should avoid less-substantial criticism like this, and focus on the heart of the argument. Specifically, we should address their attempt to refute empirical evidence using speculative philosophy.

Comment #76063

Posted by qetzal on January 27, 2006 5:07 PM (e)

Martin Zeichner asked:

I have a question for the PT regulars; would it be reasonable to say that a major difference between ID and scientific investigation is that ID appeals to an ultimate cause while science must restrict itself to proximate causes?

ID claims that certain features of living organisms are so complex that they could only have arisen through direct intervention by an intelligent agent. That sounds a lot more proximate than ultimate, to me.

The proximate/ultimate question seems more applicable to something like theistic evolution. Am I misunderstanding your point?

Comment #76074

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on January 27, 2006 6:40 PM (e)

Actually, one of the best resources, if not the best resource on how to develop your own built in baloney and pseudo science detector is perhaps Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World”.

Anyone who has trouble distinguishing pseudo-science from the real thing should read this book.

Comment #76090

Posted by the pro from dover on January 27, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

Excuse me BWE but the pro does not derail threads particularly when the topic is relgious assaults on education. If you feel you must compare me to someone try Stein Ericksen or Jeremy Bloom but Larry??!!??!! Science does not reject first causes outright, but it is restricted to those phenomena that are amenable to investigation via the scientific method. When someone (hear me Phil Johnson) develops a methodology to detect the mechanism of action of supernatural powers that is publishable and peer reviewable I guarantee you scientists will beat a path to his door. Right now these powers occupy default positions which the scientific method does not accept. All scientific theories stand or fail by their own usefulness. One does not win by the other’s loss. This is why science cannot be held hostage to the lawyerly debate /trial format.

Comment #76097

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 27, 2006 9:31 PM (e)

One does not win by the other’s loss. This is why science cannot be held hostage to the lawyerly debate /trial format.

It’s also why ID’s “critical analysis” BS will never get anywhere.

Comment #76098

Posted by Doc Bill on January 27, 2006 9:35 PM (e)

Two books on my library shelf of Must Reads are Sagan’s Demon Haunted World and The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski.

What better examples of the Human Condition?

Comment #76102

Posted by Martin Zeichner on January 27, 2006 10:40 PM (e)

quetzal wrote:

ID claims that certain features of living organisms are so complex that they could only have arisen through direct intervention by an intelligent agent. That sounds a lot more proximate than ultimate, to me.

Really? Okay, this is why I threw out the question. I wanted to get a sense of whether or not it made any sense to frame the question this way.

It strikes me that this statement of ID is precisely what I mean. Let me examine what this statement is saying. First it is making a negative assertion: that so called materialistic or naturalistic explanations cannot suffice for certain observed phenomenon. It then proposes its own explanation; an undefined entity called a designer (or as you put it, an intelligent agent). Leaving aside the false dichotomy, how can an undefined entity be considered an explanation for anything? How can we tell what the capabilities or the intentions of the designer are (and whether or not they are up to the task) if it is deliberately left undefined? Right there is the non sequitur that I mentioned, the “poof”, the “right here a miracle happens”, the vacuum that is left so that certain religious people can plug in their own conception of the intelligent agent (wink, wink, we didn’t say the g word).

So that’s why ISTM that that innocent little statement of ID does express an ultimate cause; I don’t see anything proximate between the IDists proposed explanation and the phenomenon that it supposed to be explaining.

Comment #76106

Posted by Henry J on January 27, 2006 11:54 PM (e)

roddg,
Re “How does one find a comment by number in this forum i.e comment no. 74973?”

Main page of Panda’s Thumb, in that column of “boxes” on the right there’s one called “Archives” - just punch 74973 (or I guess any string one might wish to find) in the “Google Search” box and click “search”.

Anyhoo, comment no. 74973 is in Luskin: Humans did evolve

Henry

Comment #76110

Posted by BWE on January 28, 2006 2:45 AM (e)

Pro, my humble appologies, there is a long and convoluted reason I put your name on the end of that string but it’s based on bad info. THordaddy, a very nutty kind of nut was who I was talking about and he was posting at AtBC and I was resonding here because … it’s a long story, please accept my appologies. AOL. IP addresses, THordaddy, banned posts, it’s all very simple but I appologize.

And I really meant it when I said, “And it loops until you are either satisfied, run out of money, or the IDists win.”

Which is why we hope they don’t win.

Comment #76124

Posted by orrg1 on January 28, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

More thoughts on why ID isn’t science: Using the scientific method, you observe a phenomenon that you want to understand better, form a hypothesis, and test it through experiment or further observation. It is important to have an open mind, and to follow the evidence. If you let preconceived notions influence your interpretation of data, you are in substantial danger of coming up with the wrong answer.

ID has a historical trail; almost all of the current manifestations have a connection to the Discovery Institute and/or the Thomas More Law Center. The history of ID is the opposite of science. The steps taken in the development of ID have been 1. Observe (wrongly) that evolutionary theory is a mortal threat to religion, 2. Starting from the fact that we KNOW that God created all life, try to find evidence in nature showing that life was created by an intelligent being.

By the way, this process for doing “research” meshes seamlessly with the goals and activities of creation “science”.

What has it produced?

1. The notion of “irreducible complexity”, which is an argument that has existed in some form for thousands of years. The only recent “advancement” is that Behe has come up with biological structures and processes that he can’t explain in evolutionary terms. Mind you, this would not be proof whatsoever for intelligent design, just against natural selection, and many of his central examples have been at least partly explained and/or shown not to be irreducibly complex!

2. Dembski’s “explanatory filter”, which has been shown to be faulty, and been published only in the popular literature.

3. One peer reviewed paper that was essentially retracted, with the editor of the journal being released

4. Another maybe peer reviewed paper.

The objection is that “no scientific journals will publish us - so we have to publish in books instead”. Science is not done that way. Journals come first, books later!

As a homework assignment to anybody interested in whether the “no one will publish us” excuse is valid, I’d suggest searching for papers published that severely question mainstream scientific beliefs and that are published in scientific journals (for instance, look for “cold fusion”). You will find that there is no scientific cabal that defends orthodoxy. I’m sure that hundreds of articles can easily be turned up. But they all have to contain arguments that cannot be summarily dismissed by reviewers!

Summing up in a nutshell, science is not a tool for confirming that the world is the way we may wish it to be. It is for determining what actually IS. We cannot turn it into the former without destroying it completely. At the present time, we are probably the only country on the planet where a not-insignificant portion of the population apparently wishes to do so - to turn the very root of our economic abundance into a paltry political tool.

Comment #76126

Posted by orrg1 on January 28, 2006 10:16 AM (e)

I’d should be more specific when I say

orrg1 wrote:

try to find evidence in nature showing that life was created by an intelligent being.

And say instead “try to find evidence in nature showing that all organisms were created by an intelligent being”

Comment #76130

Posted by orrg1 on January 28, 2006 10:51 AM (e)

Recently Mark Brown, campus director for the Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Kansas, had this to say at an appearance featuring Bill Dembski:

Scientists shouldn’t be scared of divine intervention in the natural world…

Hmmm…. Is ID not religion rather than science?

Science is not scared of ‘divine intervention’. It just has not found any evidence of it! The Bible gives many examples of direct manifestations of supernatural beings that for some reason we never seem to see today. If you happen to see any, and can furnish physical evidence - take it to James “the Amazing” Randi, and he will give you $1,000,000. If we did see choirs of angels floating in the heavens, you had better believe that science would sit up and take notice. And in fact, science as we know it could probably never have existed, because an intelligent being or beings would change the outcome of experiments at their whim.

I just don’t get why people are so obtuse about this.

Comment #76137

Posted by qetzal on January 28, 2006 11:41 AM (e)

Martin,

I agree with what you wrote in #76102. The proximate/ultimate terminology just had a different connotation to me.

What you describe as proximate causes is what I prefer to call predictable, verifiable observations.

IMHO, the point of all science is to understand things in a way that allows us to successfully predict future observations. That’s why science is so enormously useful. It says, “This is how X works. Not just on certain arbitrary occasions, either. Every time we encounter the appropriate conditions, we can expect to see X, and not Y.”

The theory of evolution does that. As just one example, it allows us to predict the genetic relationships between organsims, even before we perform the necessary DNA sequencing.

ID doesn’t do that. ID says “The Designer” intevened directly to create various organisms, or features of organisms. But we can’t make any useful predictions from that. As you note, ID doesn’t tell us how The Designer did it, or whether he did it the same way in all cases, or whether we can expect him to ever do it again, or anything else.

ID makes no predictions, so it’s scientifically useless.

Comment #76176

Posted by Martin Zeichner on January 28, 2006 6:27 PM (e)

qetzal wrote:

ID makes no predictions, so it’s scientifically useless.

Yes, and if you want another reason that ID is useless here is a thought that I have always found amusing:

If there were anything at all to ID besides apologetics every scientist, every technologist, every corporation, every government in the world would be clamoring for research funding for ID. After all, who wouldn’t want to investigate the methods and abilities of a god-like designer with the hope of getting some tips on designing life forms, creating universes and otherwise manipulating reality with snap of the fingers? The DOD could stop researching nukes and simply smite our enemies with a copy of “God-Like Powers for Dummies”. It’s paradise on earth time and we can’t get there because the evil conspiracy of atheistic scientists are so worried about their tenure. Yeah, right.

MZ

Comment #76320

Posted by AC on January 30, 2006 3:12 PM (e)

Martin Zeichner wrote:

If there were anything at all to ID besides apologetics every scientist, every technologist, every corporation, every government in the world would be clamoring for research funding for ID. After all, who wouldn’t want to investigate the methods and abilities of a god-like designer with the hope of getting some tips on designing life forms, creating universes and otherwise manipulating reality with snap of the fingers?

I’ve always been amazed at how close science can come to such power in some cases. Being able to directly manipulate reality through sheer force of will or thought is almost certainly impossible, of course, but something like a nuke is still utterly awesome. And fission isn’t even a total conversion of matter to energy. A perfect matter/antimatter reaction would dwarf familiar scales almost beyond imagination.

As far as copying designs, we often strive to replicate a natural system as perfectly as possible because it is so powerful or well-adapted (limb replacements and neural computing come to mind), but we also routinely use technology of our own design to enhance ourselves and compensate for physical limitations: night vision, IR/UV imaging, RADAR, medical tomography, telescopes, microscopes - the list goes on. We are even learning to decode and manipulate genes, including our own.

And not a single bit of this comes from ID. All of it, without exception, comes from empirical science.

Comment #76924

Posted by cate's debate on February 1, 2006 11:06 PM (e)

I love the take…sometimes there is a lack of sympathy for people who might be leaning ID. I think that this is an excellent strategy for framing an anti-ID approach that embraces those they are interested in persuading.