Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 2030 on February 18, 2006 01:29 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2025

Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble (which ought to be on everyone’s daily reading list) calls attention to something I didn’t know: Bill Dembski endorsed the Bible Code nonsense (also reproduced here), identifying it with his intelligent design detection methodology:

At the same time that research in the Bible Code has taken off, research in a seemingly unrelated field has taken off as well, namely, biological design. These two fields are in fact closely related. Indeed, the same highly improbable, independently given patterns that appear as the equidistant letter sequences in the Bible Code appear in biology as functionally integrated (“irreducibly complex”) biological systems, of the sort Michael Behe discussed in Darwin’s Black Box.

The relevant statistical methodology is identical for both fields. As a result, the two fields stand to profit from each other. For instance, my forthcoming book, The Design Inference, gives a thorough account of universal probability bounds, i.e., how small a p-value one needs to eliminate chance decisively. (Although the literature on universal probability bounds dates back to the French probabilist Emile Borel, it seems not to have been engaged by the Bible Code researchers.)

This convergence of the Bible Code and biological design should not seem surprising. There is a tradition within both Judaism and Christianity of speaking of two “books” where God reveals himself—the Book of Scripture, which is the Bible, and the Book of Nature, which is the world. I commend Jeffrey Satinover for his efforts to read both books.

The Bible Code nonsense has been thoroughly debunked: See here for a compendium of dissections, and see also Chaper 14 in Mark Perakh’s Unintelligent Design. Does Dembski still assert the identity, and has he profited from the lesson of the Bible Code? Not visibly. His design detection methodology has been debunked as thoroughly as the Bible Codes, yet IDists still claim that they have a methodology for detecting design. They are in the same boat: a convergence of cranks.

RBH

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Comment #80711

Posted by david gehrig on February 18, 2006 1:49 PM (e)

Oh, that’s terrific to know. Because one course in combinatorics and some c coding was all it took me to see through the skip code stuff. In Dembski was wowed by it, all I can say is that he’d better get a refund on that PhD of his, in an undergrad math minor trumps it.

Actually, I first got exposed to the skip code stuff back in the mid 1980s, wrote a quick program that “proved” through skip codes that my friend Rose wrote the lyrics to The Wall (Sorry, Roger W, your fraud’s been exposed), and that was that.

Comment #80714

Posted by A. L. R. on February 18, 2006 2:06 PM (e)

He’s also IIRC had flirtations with Lomborg and various anti-environmental crankery. So let’s see, that gives us associations with

– The Bible Code
– evolution denial
– global warming denial
– HIV/AIDS denial

If he could just fit in some innuendos about 9/11 denial, holocaust denial, and flouridated water we’d have a grand slam.

Comment #80715

Posted by blipey on February 18, 2006 2:21 PM (e)

I think we should definitely take him at his word on this one. Bible Code and ID are definitively of the same rank. I was surprised myslef, but I think Billie’s taken his first steps on the path of truth-telling.

Way to go, Bill!!!

Comment #80716

Posted by buddha on February 18, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

a convergence of cranks

Is this the collective noun for cranks? It’s right in line with “an exaltation of larks” and “a conspiracy of ravens”.

Comment #80719

Posted by Jason on February 18, 2006 2:33 PM (e)

Patterns must be given independently of the search, and only then can small p-values indicate the finger of God.

HA HA HA HA ! or just LMAO!

The finger of God. God, YHWH, it most definitley the non-human intelligence behind the Bible Code and it is most certainly not Satan, Allah, Vishnu, or Ahura Mazda. Oh, and small p-values are definitely indicators of the Finger of YHWH.

Yes!

Comment #80720

Posted by steve s on February 18, 2006 2:33 PM (e)

An internet of cranks.

btw, I love Pat’s line:

“Our Isaac Newton of information theory says the relevant statistical methodology is identical. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.”

Comment #80721

Posted by Dave Thomas on February 18, 2006 2:44 PM (e)

I’ve written my own C++ code, and found amazing Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELS) in lots of books besides the Bible. For example, in Drosnin’s sequel book, Bible Code II, this message is hidden in code in the first chapter:

THE BIBLE CODE IS A SILLY, DUMB, FAKE, FALSE, EVIL, NASTY, DISMAL FRAUD AND SNAKE-OIL HOAX.

I’ve several articles on the Bible Code at NMSR, here and here for starters.

Cheers, Dave

P.S. If any of you have ever written down or typed the word “generalization,” you have unintentionally coded the word NAZI, at a skip of 3:
GENERALIZATION

Comment #80722

Posted by Frank J on February 18, 2006 2:46 PM (e)

A. L. R. wrote:

If he could just fit in some innuendos about 9/11 denial, holocaust denial, and flouridated water we’d have a grand slam.

We already have more than a grand slam with what I call the “pseudoscience code of silence.” Dembski does not criticize YEC, even though he seems to know that it’s nonsense. But neither does he criticize Roswell, spoon bending, therapeutic touch, etc. etc. etc.

The most consistent - and self-incriminating - feature of any pseudoscience is that it’s criticisms (including an almost universal pretense of a “conspiracy”) are always directed toward mainstream science, and never to any other pseudoscience. Sure, there is the occasional “distancing from” or “quick dismissals”, but they are just a tactic that is always followed by moving on to safer turf. No “equal time” for those scammers.

Comment #80729

Posted by geoffrobinson on February 18, 2006 3:21 PM (e)

LMAO!!!!! when DaveScot sees that Dembski linked ID with the Bible Code he’s going to cry. Maybe he’ll quit the site. Which is fine with me, I’m tired of having to kiss his but just to comment there.

Comment #80730

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on February 18, 2006 3:32 PM (e)

Bah, who cares what Dembski says about the Bible Code. Let’s ask a real expert on the Bible what she thinks about the Bible Code - Carol Landa.

Comment #80732

Posted by steve s on February 18, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

yeah, that’s just what this thread needs. More Carol Clouser. You should change your name to W. Kevin Bad Idea

Comment #80736

Posted by Mike Walker on February 18, 2006 4:26 PM (e)

Forget the religious aspects of the Bible Codes. If Dembski continues to assert that his “research” into ID can be applied in *any* way to the positive validation of the Bible Codes then he is driving the final nail into ID’s coffin.

His support of the Bible Codes may (sadly) play well with the uninformed public, but he will be evicerated if this ever comes up in court.

Nice find.

Comment #80741

Posted by qetzal on February 18, 2006 4:57 PM (e)

I can’t decide which is more pitiable: That Dembski might endorse the Bible Code, knowing it’s a load of crap, just to ingratiate himself with the believers, or that he might actually believe it himself.

I almost feel sorry for him, in an abstract way. Almost.

Comment #80745

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 18, 2006 5:22 PM (e)

Why read books about Bible codes when you can get the software and do it yourself! Yes that’s right, followers of William the Theologian, your computer can decode the bible for you. Here is just one offering:

http://www.biblecodesplus.com/

Comment #80752

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 18, 2006 5:28 PM (e)

You guys are missing the best quote so be sure and read Dembski’s entire review. Here is a tidbit of the Grand Pubah of Intelligent Design:

The Bible Code is controversial because some have presented it as a preprogrammed time capsule set to go off once humans invent computers. The human authors of the Bible, writing well before the advent of computers, would have been incapable of consciously introducing into the Bible the patterns that Bible Code researchers are finding by means of computers. Hence these patterns, if not attributable to chance, must stem from a non-human intelligence. Moreover, if the patterns contain information about subsequent events in world history, this nonhuman intelligence would also have to possess preternatural foreknowledge. And since the Bible claims to be inspired by precisely such a being, the most obvious solution to the identity of this nonhuman intelligence is the God of the Hebrew Scriptures, to wit, YHWH. Here, in broad strokes, is the logic underlying the Bible Code.

So God put the code in the bible…What a loon.

Comment #80756

Posted by PvM on February 18, 2006 5:46 PM (e)

Seems that Dembski’s belief in front loading is expressing itself in more than one way. In both cases however it seems that he is painting the target around the arrows.

Comment #80761

Posted by RupertG on February 18, 2006 6:15 PM (e)

The Bible Code? Oy…

I do hope there’s another court case, but one where Dembski feels able to appear as a witness for ID. If Behe had to admit under oath in Kitzmiller that ID has the same intellectual rigour as astrology, what could a competent lawyer make of all this?

Could Dembski ever dare to expose himself to the rigour of a courtroom - or anywhere where he has to actually engage with those who haven’t drunk his particular Kool-Aid?

R

Comment #80762

Posted by KL on February 18, 2006 6:35 PM (e)

You know, this may be an important example of why it is so difficult to reach Biblical literalists. Some part of their minds suspect that the scientists are wrong and that the clues are all around them. On judgment day they think they will all be saying “I am SO glad I stuck with my brethren on this one”. I can see it happening; my family is from Norway. On those long winter nights, when the sun shines for just three or four hours, even if I KNEW that the days would reach a minimun length on Dec 21 or 22 and then begin lengthening, even if I KNEW that it was due to the tilting of the earth and the angle that the sun’s rays hit the earth, I would probably go ahead and perform those pagan midwinter rituals, JUST IN CASE logic doesn’t rule in the end, and that appeasing the “sun god” to bring back the sun IS necessary after all. We as a species are so superstitious!

Comment #80763

Posted by Matt Young on February 18, 2006 6:42 PM (e)

Mr. Dembski is absolutely correct in his claim that the Bible codes and intelligent-design creationism have much in common.

I have written a bit about the Bible codes here:

www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/BkRevs.htm

I give you fair warning, though; you’ll have to scroll thru Hugh Ross and Gerald Schroeder before you get there.

Comment #80764

Posted by Matt Young on February 18, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

Please excuse me - that URL is correct but lacked “http://”. It should be

http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/BkRevs.htm

Bloody computers - they do what you tell them to do, not what you think you’ve told them.

Comment #80767

Posted by natural cynic on February 18, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

I’m waiting to see how WD’s incipient conversion to Orthodox Judiasm goes over with his bosses at his seminary.

Comment #80775

Posted by perianwyr on February 18, 2006 7:46 PM (e)

I gotta say that if there was a free Bible Code de-encoder I might have some fun with it. But they’re all payware, booooo.

Comment #80778

Posted by steve s on February 18, 2006 7:55 PM (e)

There are some at Download.com with free trials. That should let you find a few things like “Dave Scot Sucks” and “Dembski is a Fraud”.

Heh. Maybe even “Dover will be the Waterloo”

Comment #80781

Posted by KC on February 18, 2006 8:06 PM (e)

Is this the collective noun for cranks? It’s right in line with “an exaltation of larks” and “a conspiracy of ravens”.

More like a confederacy of dunces.

Comment #80794

Posted by Tulse on February 18, 2006 8:35 PM (e)

I gotta say that if there was a free Bible Code de-encoder I might have some fun with it.

What we really need is to do these analyses with the text of No Free Lunch.

Comment #80808

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 18, 2006 9:47 PM (e)

Both of these Skeptical Inquirer articles are well worth the read. They were published near the time of Demsbki’s review

Hidden Messages and The Bible Code David E Thomas, Skeptical Inquirer November/December 1997

Follow Up: Bible-Code Developments David E Thomas, Skeptical Inquirer March/April 1998

Enjoy!

.

Comment #80842

Posted by hehe on February 19, 2006 5:33 AM (e)

If ID is equivalent to BC and BC has been debunked, ID has been debunked.

Comment #80862

Posted by Keith Douglas on February 19, 2006 10:24 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #80863

Posted by Keith Douglas on February 19, 2006 10:26 AM (e)

This is amazing: convergent pseudosciences. That’s quite rare.

I do remember actually bothering to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show when Drosnin was first doing his thing. I couldn’t tell what sort of dumbfoundedness in the audience was at work after he announced the thesis. I was, however appalled to see no critic on the show.

Comment #80866

Posted by tgibbs on February 19, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

It is not surprising that Dembski is sympathetic to this nonsense, because it ultimately derives from the same sort of statistical error that is central to Demski’s work–attempting to calculate a “probability” for something that has already happened. This has been controversial since the early days of statistics. I think that most statisticians today would agree such computations can have value–they are at the heart of significance testing–but they are fraught with opportunities for error.

The fundamental problem is that it is necessary to correct for all possible sources of bias, and outside of extremely formalized and well-defined situations, this is typically impossible. The major source of bias is known as “data snooping,” and arises from the that one is unlikely to attempt to calculate the probability of an event unless it is perceived as somehow remarkable, but any one of a number of apparently remarkable events could motivate such an effort. So the relevant question is not “What is the likelihood of this particular observation?”, but rather, “What is the likelihood of some observation that would look sufficiently remarkable so as to motivate me to try to calculate its probability?” It turns out that human intuition is remarkable poor at answering this question, and almost always greatly underestimates this likelihood.

In scientific significance testing, this is dealt with by demanding that the “null” and “test” hypotheses be defined in advance before collecting the data, so that knowledge of the results cannot bias the statistical question being asked. But most of the time, you are in the position of basically accepting somebody’s word that they have actually done this.

The Biblical Code issue is right at the edge of what can be approached statistically, and its history reveals how easy it is to introduce subtle biases that yield falsely low probabilities, but at least it is possible in principle to do appropriate control studies to answer the question of how likely such patterns are to occur by chance in a particular piece of text–which turns out to be, as is so often the case, “surprisingly likely.”

Of course, Dembski is in a far worse situation, because to actually do what he is trying to do, he most calculate, not the likelihood of evolution of a particular form of life, but rather the likelihood of evolution of a species that would motivate somebody to try to calculate its probability. To do this, he has to correct for the anthropocentric bias–i.e. no matter how rare life is in the universe, if it exists at all, then every observer will necessarily find himself on a planet where life has evolved. Making this correction requires, among many other things, knowledge of how many planets there are in the universe–if the universe is big enough, life will evolve, no matter how improbable that might be in the particular case. Dembski usually tries to dodge this by talking about the size of the “observable” universe. This is a bait and switch, because what we can see is not necessarily all exists.

This is also why ID people are so hostile to String Theory. It is bad enough that we live in a universe whose size (and indeed, its finiteness) is unknown, but the problem becomes far worse if this is only one of a large number of universes, because then the relevant correction becomes, “What is the likelihood that life would have formed in *some* universe?” If taken seriously, this utterly demolishes Dembski’s argument.

Comment #80869

Posted by frank schmidt on February 19, 2006 11:00 AM (e)

Is it time to stop calling Dembski a statistician? He strikes me as being a statistician in the same sense that Wells is a developmental biologist: Holder of a Ph.D. from an otherwise distinguished institution, but with no understanding of the field, and making no contribution to it.

Comment #80872

Posted by Frank J on February 19, 2006 11:26 AM (e)

Keith Douglas wrote:

I was, however appalled to see no critic on the show.

But not surprised I presume. Sensationalism sells, and the skeptical critic, however correct, is simply boring to most people. In contrast, all pseudoscience appeals to wishful thinking, the “magical breaktrough” - sans the tedious hard work of course.

Comment #80883

Posted by PaulC on February 19, 2006 12:31 PM (e)

tgibbs:

So the relevant question is not “What is the likelihood of this particular observation?”, but rather, “What is the likelihood of some observation that would look sufficiently remarkable so as to motivate me to try to calculate its probability?” It turns out that human intuition is remarkable poor at answering this question, and almost always greatly underestimates this likelihood.

In scientific significance testing, this is dealt with by demanding that the “null” and “test” hypotheses be defined in advance before collecting the data, so that knowledge of the results cannot bias the statistical question being asked. But most of the time, you are in the position of basically accepting somebody’s word that they have actually done this.

Since I once got into an argument about this on Panda’s Thumb, I’d like to comment that many kinds of observations can be covered by a generic test for compressibility (such as Kolmogorov complexity, the length of the shortest program needed to output a certain string in a universal Turing machine chosen ahead of time). I mention this because it appears to be counterintuitive to a lot of people around here.

It doesn’t help you with bible codes or any other pseudoscience, but it’s an important caveat to consider before dismissing every claim a as cherry picking.

If my null hypothesis is that I am observing strings that come from a uniform distribution (e.g. sequences of H and T based on unbiased coin flips) then I can develop a test based on compressibility, since statistically random strings have a vanishingly low probability of being compressible into significantly shorter strings. I can define a function P(n,k)=the probability that a bit string of length n can be compressed to a bit string of length k or less. You need to agree on the definition of “can be compressed” ahead of time, but it is clear that P(n,k) is bounded above by (2^(k+1)-1)/2^n since there are only 2^(k+1)-1 bit strings of length k or less that could possibly encode your strings of length n. Now we just use this as our p-value for testing strings of length n.

Armed with this p-value and a predetermined compression algorithm (any version of the “zip” utility), you may find that a certain observed sequences are highly compressible and therefore have very low p-values. This includes a string of all Hs, all Ts, or periodic patterns such as “HTHTHTHTHTHT” or “HTHTHHHTHTHHTHTHHHTHTHHHTHTHH.” If you happen to find such a string after observing a certain number of them, and if its p-value is so low that it would be improbable to find it after that many observations, then you could conclude reasonably that that observation was statistically significant. (Note the italics; if you keep looking at observations until you get one with a low p-value, that is mere cherry picking; given enough independent tests with the same p-value you will eventually get one that looks significant but is not. I believe that this is the “statistical method” that Dembski applies to both ID and bible codes.)

Now suppose you replace “zip” with the theoretically best compression method. This would essentially replace each string with the shortest computer program needed to output it. Unfortunately, there is no algorithm that can implement that kind of compression. But if you happen to know that your observation will be output by a computer program of length k’ bits, then you can conclude that there is some k bounded above by k’ that is the theoretically optimal compression. Since P(n,k) is bounded above by P(n,k’), you can base your p-value on k’. The worst that will happen is that your p-value causes you to underestimate the statistical significance.

The above is now more generally applicable that the “zip” version. For instance, suppose you have a sequence alleged to come from a 2000 flips of a fair coin, but you find that in fact flips 331 through 1330 consist of the first 1000 bits of the binary expansion of pi (in order) with digits encoded as H=0, T=1. In this case, a typical compression program (like zip) will do a poor job because the bits of pi “look” random. But if you could demonstrate a significantly shorter program to generate that series of Hs and Ts (some concise, but not necessarily fast, method of calculating pi and outputting the right encoding), then you could show that the p-value of that observation was in fact very low. If you limit your observation to the 1001 continguous 1000-flip substrings of the 2000 flips, then your p-value will also be small enough that it cannot be accounted for by cherry picking. Conclusion: you have strong statistical evidence that the string did not come from flips of a fair coin. (Note: you have no conclusion about where it did come from, contrary to the “design” fallacy.)

That conclusion holds whether you found e instead of pi or whether the bits were encoded some other way. The significance is not the human subjective principle that we find pi “interesting” but that the observation itself was compressible. In many cases, the notion of interestingness is readily reduced to compressibility. As I understand it (i.e., not very well), this is the idea of Solomonoff induction. But in any case, as I have demonstrated above, there is a single statistical test, using a p-value based on compressibility, and that test will in fact identify many “significant” observations and rule out that certain observations come from random distributions except with vanishingly small probability.

Comment #80885

Posted by PaulC on February 19, 2006 12:51 PM (e)

BTW, I was already aware of Dembski peddling this kind of pseudoscience based on a Pharyngula post last October: http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/this…

The amazing part is that Dembski has posted (it’s still there as far as I can tell) a smarmy piece of PowerPoint spam as if it were a compelling argument (something about code for the “center” of the Bible).

When I read that, I had to conclude that either he is a sucker or thinks his readers are. I’m still a little more inclined to the latter, because I cannot grasp how anyone with that level of mathematical background would be blind to the issue of cherry picking. If he believes this stuff, he’s just off his rocker. He’s either that or a deliberate liar, and I guess it doesn’t matter much which.

As I posted to pharyngula, my favorite code mystery is the equality of 31 in base 8 to 25 in base 10 (i.e., OCT 31 = DEC 25, get it?). It’s cute, but proves only that funny coincidences happen in small statistical domains.

Comment #80886

Posted by Don on February 19, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

This will date me to be sure, but I think of William Dembski as the Hobo Kelly of Information Theory.

He looks through his little contrived explanatory filter, “and I see Mary, and Jesus, oh, and there’s Abraham, and Hi there Gabriel, and YHWH and little Flagelina….”

I am as impressed with Dembski’s magic now as I was in 1970 with the pretty clown on TV.

Comment #80887

Posted by Don on February 19, 2006 1:12 PM (e)

Good thing Doctor Dembski has arrived precisely when we’ve developed the technology to decipher some sort of secret Rubik’s Sudoku from one version of the many iterations of the various English translations of an altered and edited compendium of ancient scrolls.

I guess the God of the Hebrews decided to not only front-load the Bible with code, but then also guided the evolution of human language itself so that the devolopment of computers would converge with the English language perfectly to reveal such code. The Christian Old Testament is vastly different from the Hebrew collection anyway, right?

That YHWH is one complicated puzzle-maker.

Hey, wait, isn’t “YHWH” missing some letters?!?

Comment #80889

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 19, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Dave Scott trackbacked:

Posted by Uncommon Descent on February 19, 2006 07:22 AM

Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble tries to present the face on Mars as an example in false positives equivalent to the appearance of design in cellular machinery. When will morons like Pat Hayes cop to the fact that seeing the Virgin Mary’s face in …

Dave I am happy to see you finally figured out how track backs work. It’s all about code detection. And speaking of codes what do you think about your fearless leader embracing the moronic Bible codes. It looks like Philip E Johnson shares the same crank beliefs about them as well.

I noticed you completely overlooked the fact that your fearless leader and his fearless leader fall for such nonsense.

What gives?

Comment #80890

Posted by Russell on February 19, 2006 1:17 PM (e)

How’s this for an exercise in cryptanalysis. At the bottom of these comments, you find this under “Trackbacks” (from UncommonDescent)

Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble tries to present the face on Mars as an example in false positives equivalent to the appearance of design in cellular machinery. When will morons like Pat Hayes cop to the fact that seeing the Virgin Mary’s face in…

Using my highly developed powers of decoding, I divine the hand of DaveScot behind this message. Am I right?

Comment #80899

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 19, 2006 2:11 PM (e)

It looks like Philip E Johnson shares the same crank beliefs about them as well.

Well, waddya expect from a guy who doesn’t think that HIV causes AIDS?

I wonder what Dembski and Johnson think of Hugh Ross’s ideas about flying saucers?

Comment #80904

Posted by Karen on February 19, 2006 3:59 PM (e)

I wonder what Dembski and Johnson think of Hugh Ross’s ideas about flying saucers?

Heck, they have probably already signed up for a Frequent Alien Abduction Discount

Comment #80918

Posted by Moses on February 19, 2006 6:19 PM (e)

Comment #80732

Posted by steve s on February 18, 2006 03:35 PM (e)

yeah, that’s just what this thread needs. More Carol Clouser. You should change your name to W. Kevin Bad Idea

ROFLMAO

Comment #80927

Posted by Moses on February 19, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

The Christian Old Testament is vastly different from the Hebrew collection anyway, right?

There are extra books in the Old Testament that don’t exist in the Tanakh.

However, the real difference is that the Christian bibles use the corrupted Essenic text and not the far more accurate Masoretic text that has been faithfully kept since the Babylonian times. The differences are not huge, but the Essenes added some significant post-facto differences to prove the “future divinity” of the Jesus myth they constructed.

So, while they’re “largely identical,” they’re also vastly different. And anyone who uses the Essenic version, no matter how well intentioned, is doing scholarly research from an even more corrupt and fictionalized account. (Which is why I laugh at Carol. I seriously doubt that her husband is using the ancient Masoretic texts in his “special bible” research.)

Comment #80933

Posted by gregonomic on February 19, 2006 7:30 PM (e)

Ha, “the finger of God” reminds me of the finger of God (not the particular Red Meat cartoon I was looking for, but appropriate nonetheless).

Comment #80934

Posted by gregonomic on February 19, 2006 7:35 PM (e)

So, now that we all know Dembski is a crank, his own team knows he’s a crank, and pretty much anyone with half a brain knows he’s a crank, can we just ignore him?

At this stage, it seems like the only thing giving him any cred is that we keep talking about him.

Comment #80939

Posted by Doc Bill on February 19, 2006 8:12 PM (e)

So, what you’re saying is that Dembski is like Ken Ham, but without the entertainment value.

Oy!

Comment #80961

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 19, 2006 11:16 PM (e)

Here is the article that mentions Moby Dick predicting some famous assasinations and other nonsense using the same fuzzy math used in the bible codes

http://www.ams.org/notices/199708/review-allyn.p…

Comment #80991

Posted by guthrie on February 20, 2006 6:12 AM (e)

Given that no one has showed up to defend Dembski, does that mean that “the opposition” also recognise the futility of the Bible codes?

Comment #81189

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 21, 2006 1:59 AM (e)

Moses wrote:

“Which is why I laugh at Carol. I seriously doubt that her husband is using the ancient Masoretic texts in his “special bible” research.”

Laugh all you want. But you could find out for yourself. Then instead of laughing you would pause to think for a change and perhaps learn something, also for a change.

I assume by “her husband”, whoever that may be, you are referring to Landa’s In The Beginning Of. For your information, its thesis is to compare the currently popular English versions of the so called “old testament” to the Hebrew version now widely used by Jews around the world, which is indeed the Masoretic text, thereby exposing the incorrect and sloppy translations therein.

Comment #81193

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2006 3:18 AM (e)

I assume by “her husband”, whoever that may be…

someone mentioned that landa’s book had a dedication to a “Carol” in it.

since you are the only Carol anybody here has ever seen defend landa’s work directly, many assumed that to be you.

It wasn’t too far of a stretch to postulate that you might in fact be married to landa.

Care to set us straight?

Comment #81205

Posted by Renier on February 21, 2006 4:50 AM (e)

Carol wrote: I assume by “her husband”, whoever that may be, you are referring to Landa’s In The Beginning Of. For your information, its thesis is to compare the currently popular English versions of the so called “old testament” to the Hebrew version now widely used by Jews around the world, which is indeed the Masoretic text, thereby exposing the incorrect and sloppy translations therein.

So, it is aimed at showing Christians that they are wrong and uses crap translations? Nobody here cares… Why are you here then?

Comment #81228

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 21, 2006 11:05 AM (e)

So Carol, was an intelligent force behind the Bible code or not? Inquiring minds want to know!

Comment #81230

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 21, 2006 11:31 AM (e)

Carol, I thought you had stopped posting here because we don’t treat Landa with the respect you feel he deserves.

I note that two threads and some ATBC space is reserved for discussing the various fallacious remarks that Landa has made about the Bible and science.

Would you care to address them?

Comment #81232

Posted by Russell on February 21, 2006 11:40 AM (e)

So, now that we all know Dembski is a crank, … can we just ignore him?

Yes.
Until the next school board or significant media presence (something more credible than the Moony Times) suggests his thoughts are worth reading.

Comment #81260

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 21, 2006 2:34 PM (e)

Mr. Christopher,

An interesting anecdote about Bible codes. A few years ago a student in my district chose the topic of Bible codes for his college application essay. To make his point he foccused on the application’s printed instructions for the essay, which was:

“Assume you’re having a conversation with us and, in the space provided, simply tell us how you’d respond to each of the following questions. If it’s more convenient, feel free to print out your responses on a word processor or typewriter and simply affix them in the appropriate spaces.”

The student organized the letters in these instructions into a grid, very much in the manner done by the code advocates, as follows:

assumeyoureh
avingaconver
sationwithus
andinthespac
eprovidedsim
plytellushow
youdrespondt
oeachofthefo
Llowingquest
IonsIFITSmor
ECONVENIENTf
eelfreetopri
ntoutyourres
ponsesonawor
dprocessoror
typewriteran
dsimplyaffix
themintheapp
ropriatespac
es

(I hope this gets displayed properly.)

See if you can find the contrarian message “encoded” in these instructions.

Comment #81261

Posted by carol clouser on February 21, 2006 2:38 PM (e)

All the rows above consist of exactly 12 letters, making it a true grid, although it doesn’t appear that way.

Comment #81266

Posted by Russell on February 21, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

LIE IF ITS CONVENIENT.

OK. Got it. But I’m genuinely curious… what point was the student trying to make???

Comment #81324

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 21, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

“LIE IF ITS CONVENIENT. OK. Got it. But I’m genuinely curious… what point was the student trying to make???”

He demonstrated that virtually anything can be found this way, even ideas totally divorced from the intentions of the author.

He was rather proud of his achievement. The application got him into Columbia U.

Comment #81442

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 22, 2006 7:25 AM (e)

He demonstrated that virtually anything can be found this way, even ideas totally divorced from the intentions of the author.

Kind of like Biblical interpretation, huh Carol.

Comment #81460

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2006 8:41 AM (e)

Lenny,

I can finally agree with you on something. There certainly are many Biblical interpretations and translations out there in the marketplace that are totally divorced from the intentions of the author. And it’s not easy ascertaining which are among the correct meanings. The process begins with knowledge and objectivity. Something that is in short supply.

Comment #81562

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2006 4:22 PM (e)

The process begins with knowledge and objectivity. Something that is in short supply

lol.

indeed.

Comment #81565

Posted by BWE on February 22, 2006 4:38 PM (e)

I understand your point about it being in short supply but Im not going to give it back until you can learn to play nice with it.

Comment #81567

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 22, 2006 4:43 PM (e)

I applaud Carol for making our point for us: a document such as the Bible (that would ‘tanakh’, Carol, not ‘torah’) is capable of multiple interpretations. Anything can be gleaned from it - even an attempted correspondence with modern science. Of course, doing so commits violent damage to the text and what understanding we have of the various valid interpretations.

We cannot know what the authors’ original intentions were - they’re dead. All we have are various more or less valid reconstructions of that meaning.

This position of Carol’s - that one can derive pretty much any meaning from a text if one works hard enough - is in complete contrast to her original point concerning the hawking of Landa’s book, but it’s good to see that her time here at PT has been educational, if not congenial.

Comment #81598

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 22, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

There certainly are many Biblical interpretations and translations out there in the marketplace that are totally divorced from the intentions of the author.

So Landa asked The Big Guy Himself, did he?

May I ask how the hell you, or anyone else, can possibly know anything more about “the intentions of the author” than anyone else alive does?

Comment #81638

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2006 11:17 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

“May I ask how the hell you, or anyone else, can possibly know anything more about “the intentions of the author” than anyone else alive does?”

By performing a rigorous and objective literary analysis. By studying linguistic trends. By combining these with historical and archeological considerations. And by using good common sense. These are valid and effective tools of the trade inthis area.

Comment #81639

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 22, 2006 11:25 PM (e)

By performing a rigorous and objective literary analysis. By studying linguistic trends. By combining these with historical and archeological considerations. And by using good common sense. These are valid and effective tools of the trade inthis area.

Alas, though, lots of other Biblical scholars have also formed religious opinions by performing a rigorous and objective literary analysis. By studying linguistic trends. By combining these with historical and archeological considerations. And by using good common sense.

And they have concluded that your opinions are … well . . full of crap.

So how do we tell whether they are right, or you are?

Comment #81674

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2006 2:15 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

“…And they have concluded that your opinions are…well full of crap. So how do we tell whether they are right, or you are?”

Well, I am far from certain that your assertion is correct, but assuming it is, you would have to compare the quality of my analysis to their analysis, and decide for yourself.

I have confidence in your good judgement to the point that I am quite willing to submit to this mode of “peer review”. Are you willing to listen?

Comment #81675

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 23, 2006 2:21 AM (e)

By performing a rigorous and objective literary analysis. By studying linguistic trends. By combining these with historical and archeological considerations. And by using good common sense. These are valid and effective tools of the trade inthis area.

How can someone who can so correctly state what is needed to form a coherent argument, fail so miserably in practice?

amazing.

You’re not much better than Larry at recognizing the flaws in your application of logic, remarkably enough.

Comment #81729

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 23, 2006 8:00 AM (e)

“…And they have concluded that your opinions are…well full of crap. So how do we tell whether they are right, or you are?”

Well, I am far from certain that your assertion is correct

Um, Carol, do you mean to tell me that Biblical scholars all share exactly the same opinions and interpetations?

If so, then what’s the use of Landa’s book?

, but assuming it is, you would have to compare the quality of my analysis to their analysis, and decide for yourself.

Indeed.

So after all your arm-waving, it all boils down to “because I say so” after all, doesn’t it.

What a shocker.

I have confidence in your good judgement to the point that I am quite willing to submit to this mode of “peer review”. Are you willing to listen?

I’ve been listening to you ever since you arrived, Carol. And been quite unimpressed. In your parlance, I have decided for myself that you are full of it and that your, uh, “analysis” is no better than anyone else’s.

Now what?

Comment #81732

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 23, 2006 8:25 AM (e)

Lenny is correct that Carol has not actually provided any “analysis” - merely unsupported opinions, hand-waving, and some selective cherry-picking of actual knowledgeable parties such as Rashi.

But the Coyne thread provides some indication of how her “analysis” works:

1. God tells Adam that if he eats the apple, he’ll die that day.

2. Adam eats the apple.

3. Adam doesn’t die for several hundred years.

4. Therefore, God changed Her mind.

The interesting thing about this analysis (fallacious as it is) is that it means that no statement attributed to God is worth considering. After all, when God says, “thou shalt not murder”, God may instantly forgive the murderer.

And we know (‘cause the tanakh (not the torah, Carol)) that God deceives. The Bible tells us that God lies.

So how can Carol possibly determine that God changed Her mind in Genesis, or just lied to Adam.

Answer: Carol can’t. Carol can have an opinion - but that’s all it is, an opinion.

Comment #81734

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2006 8:47 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

“Um, Carol, do you mean to tell me that Biblical scholars all share exactly the same opinions and interpretations?”

Not sharing exactly the same interpretations is NOT synonymous with showing that the other interpretation is, in YOUR parlance, full of ….

Lenny also wrote:

“So after all your arm-waving, it all boils down to “because I say so” after all, doesn’t it.”

I asked you to compare the quality of my analysis to that of their analysis, whoever your “their” is. Now, Lenny, that is NOT the same as “because I say so”, is it?

Lenny continues:

“I’ve been listening to you ever since you arrived, Carol.”

Why have I not noticed?

Then Lenny concludes:

“I have decided for myself that you are full of it”

That is fine with me. Contrary to your unsupported belief, I do not care one whit what you think about my analysis, the Bible, God, science and anything else. As I said many times, I am not here to preach. I belong to the family that does NOT, and never did, proselytize.

Comment #81741

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 23, 2006 9:30 AM (e)

Carol (what does torah mean again?) wrote:

Contrary to your unsupported belief, I do not care one whit what you think about my analysis, the Bible, God, science and anything else.

This is of course is why, only two posts above this one, you said:

I have confidence in your good judgement to the point that I am quite willing to submit to this mode of “peer review”. Are you willing to listen?

The continuing inconsistency of your posting is quite amusing.

As I said many times, I am not here to preach. I belong to the family that does NOT, and never did, proselytize.

And yet you’re willing to tell us - unasked - what the ‘correct’ interpretation of the Bible (that would be ‘tanakh’ Carol - not ‘torah’) is?

Utterly incoherent. Are you now going to threaten to leave again ‘cause we’re not taking your posts seriously?

Comment #81768

Posted by Mr Christopher on February 23, 2006 12:10 PM (e)

Carol was all like…

Lenny wrote:

“May I ask how the hell you, or anyone else, can possibly know anything more about “the intentions of the author” than anyone else alive does?”

By performing a rigorous and objective literary analysis. By studying linguistic trends. By combining these with historical and archeological considerations. And by using good common sense. These are valid and effective tools of the trade inthis area.

Carol, I have no doubt that you do in fact examine the bible from a scholarly approach but check this out - if I say I prayed and God spoke to me and told me what the real meaning of the bible is and all these scholars are full of it and false prophets, how are you or anyone else going to dispute that?

Seriously.

This is yet another reason why the bible is useless and can be dangerous as a moral compass.

Comment #81772

Posted by k.e. on February 23, 2006 12:29 PM (e)

Mr C
Carol’s compass is slightly …er unreliable.
To her credit she broaches her reach every now and again but one truth she has NOT discovered is that, once in a while one must go over “the edge”.
A perfect example is the current festival of the “Body” the winter Olympics.
Carols I suspect has never been ‘extended” in the Field of play.
That will be her loss and no one elses gain.
My motto is die with no regrets.
We get to hear her regrets on a daily basis.
Unfortunately so do any children in her vicinity.

Comment #81775

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2006 12:45 PM (e)

Mr. Christopher wrote:

“if I say I prayed and God spoke to me and told me what the real meaning of the bible is and all these scholars are full of it and false prophets, how are you or anyone else going to dispute that?”

I have actually spoken with people who ordained to make or imply such claims, sometimes about themselves, more often about others (among their contemporaries). My reaction is, as it should be in all such cases, “I don’t believe it until you prove it.”

Which is why the key revelations in the HB occured in front of the entire nation. ALL the Israelites SAW with THEIR OWN eyes the revelation at Sinai, the events at the sea of reeds, the exodus, and so on. No hearsay, rumors or taking and making claims based on faith. Then the entire people passed the information they themselves witnessed to their offspring, down the line in an unbroken chain to the present. At least this is the way the story is told by those who tell it at all. What great transparancy!

Do you see a key difference in this regard between Judaism and the other monotheistic religions. Who SAW the key revelatory events in those religions, even according to the claims made by the adherents of those religions?

Comment #81776

Posted by Jim Wynne on February 23, 2006 12:51 PM (e)

Clouser the Threadkiller wrote:

Which is why the key revelations in the HB occured in front of the entire nation. ALL the Israelites SAW with THEIR OWN eyes the revelation at Sinai, the events at the sea of reeds, the exodus, and so on.

The word “allegedly” is conspicuously missing, I think.

Comment #81777

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 23, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

Do you see a key difference in this regard between Judaism and the other monotheistic religions. Who SAW the key revelatory events in those religions, even according to the claims made by the adherents of those religions?

Judaism is identical to every other religion in this respect: most miracles occur off-camera, or are contained in books written by folks now comfortably dead.

500 people witnessed the resurrected Christ; why aren’t you impressed? The level of support for that claim is no better or worse than yours.

This is another characteristic of fundies: their peculiar belief that their religion is somehow different from all the others; a belief not founded in fact.

Besides, Carl has already admitted that the only value of the Bible is a cookbook for human behavior, and the only reason to trust it for that purpose is because it’s without flaws, and the only reason to believe it has no flaws is to believe her statement that it is.

Classic circular reasoning.

Comment #81862

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 23, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

“Um, Carol, do you mean to tell me that Biblical scholars all share exactly the same opinions and interpretations?”

Not sharing exactly the same interpretations is NOT synonymous with showing that the other interpretation is, in YOUR parlance, full of ….

But Carol, my dear, they say that your interpretation is full of crap. You say that THEIRS is full of crap.

How do we tell which is which? I’ve asked this several dozen times of you, and STILL haven’t gotten anything other than “my scholars are better than their scholars, so there”.

Lenny also wrote:

“So after all your arm-waving, it all boils down to “because I say so” after all, doesn’t it.”

I asked you to compare the quality of my analysis to that of their analysis, whoever your “their” is. Now, Lenny, that is NOT the same as “because I say so”, is it?

Um, yes, Carol, it is. Why? Becausew you never get around to telling us HOW WE CAN TELL which analysis is right and which isn’t. All you do is continualyl declare that yours (or, more correctly, Landa’s) is better WITHOUT TELLING US HOW WE CAN TELL.

And this is not different in any way shape or form from “because I say so”.

Lenny continues:

“I’ve been listening to you ever since you arrived, Carol.”

Why have I not noticed?

Because you’re too busy preaching and trying to sell books, Carol. (shrug)

Then Lenny concludes:

“I have decided for myself that you are full of it”

That is fine with me. Contrary to your unsupported belief, I do not care one whit what you think about my analysis, the Bible, God, science and anything else.

Au contraire, Carol, I think you care very very much. Which is why you never shut up about it.

As I said many times, I am not here to preach. I belong to the family that does NOT, and never did, proselytize.

Do they know you’ve been preaching here for months?

Comment #82006

Posted by Torbjorn Larsson on February 24, 2006 11:34 AM (e)

Comment #80714:

“associations with

— The Bible Code
— evolution denial
— global warming denial
— HIV/AIDS denial”

Oooh, a multiple crackpot! My favorite kind! I stand in wonder on how they are able to do it.

Comment #82015

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 24, 2006 12:04 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

“But Carol, my dear, they say that your interpretation is full of crap. You say that THEIRS is full of crap. How do we tell which is which?”

No scholar I know of ever said that, nor did I ever say that about another scholar’s work. Even if anyone in a position to make such a statement did say something like that, it is still NOT the same as SHOWING that the opponents work is full of….

How can YOU tell? Well, Lenny, quality Biblical scholarship, like quality analysis in other areas of life, is like pornography. YOU know it when you see it…

I knew you would appreciate the analogy. Just don’t push it too far.

Comment #82017

Posted by k.e. on February 24, 2006 12:22 PM (e)

Torbjorn Larsson quoted an earlier post
“associations with

— The Bible Code
— evolution denial
— global warming denial
— HIV/AIDS denial”

Oooh, a multiple crackpot! My favorite kind! I stand in wonder on how they are able to do it.

Simple Fjord Man……MONEY.

Don’t forget hooking up with every other pseudo-science religio-maniac with a book to sell.

And the “Ronald McDonald” of Information theory …..my favorite is the infinitely long wave theory of “God”. (any EE will tell you that carries …..um ….ZERO INFORMATION)

I wonder when his wife will wake up that he is really doing it all just to meet those er….. pert young blonde’s with jazus in their eyes. Nah ….she doesn’t have a thing to worry about….she knows a devil when she sees one…and all those ‘philosophers wives’ make sure they get the final word. Still I think he’s mendacious enough to try it on. A starry eyed platonist?
No.
More like the Dick Cheney of ‘Information Theory’ ….keep all the mushrooms in the dark and feed them sh*t.

Comment #82019

Posted by BWE on February 24, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

Carol,
is this what you mean? It never occurred to me that I would know it when I see it. In fact, I don’t think I would. Porn however, I guess your right about that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:The_Skeptic’s_Annotated_Bible

Comment #82023

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 24, 2006 12:43 PM (e)

And yet another completely disingenous and deceitful post from Carol. Let’s analyze it, shall we?

Carol wrote:

Lenny wrote:

“But Carol, my dear, they say that your interpretation is full of crap. You say that THEIRS is full of crap. How do we tell which is which?”

No scholar I know of ever said that, nor did I ever say that about another scholar’s work. Even if anyone in a position to make such a statement did say something like that, it is still NOT the same as SHOWING that the opponents work is full of….

Here we see Carol creating a strawman to tilt at: Lenny was speaking ‘metaphorically’. On the other hand, Carol has demonstrated that she’s completely unfamiliar with metaphor (as in the tanakh. And that’s tanakh, Carol - not torah). Lenny was pointing out that both Carol and those who disagree with her (which appears to be everyone on earth except Landa %:->) claim that they are right; Lenny want’s to know how we choose between them. Carol begins by this strawman irrelevancy. And then simply refuses to answer the question:

How can YOU tell? Well, Lenny, quality Biblical scholarship, like quality analysis in other areas of life, is like pornography. YOU know it when you see it…

In other words: Carol is right because she says so - not because there is some way to actually demonstrate that her ‘viewpoint by adoption’ is correct.

So: strawman and avoiding the question. Check. What next, I wonder? Threatening to leave?

Comment #82027

Posted by k.e. on February 24, 2006 12:49 PM (e)

Carol the righteous
tell us all about the Great Prophet Zarquon

(Yes dear reader the one and the same in H2G2 who shows up 8 seconds before the end of the universe)

Moses and Sargon - A Striking Parallel.

Scholarship ? don’t make me laugh

That would be starting with Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism I take it?

The Moses Myth, Beyond Biblical History.

Comment #82028

Posted by k.e. on February 24, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Carol
Just don’t push too far

…well reading the rest of your post …doesn’t leave much to the imagination does it?

Comment #82102

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 24, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

How can YOU tell? Well, Lenny, quality Biblical scholarship, like quality analysis in other areas of life, is like pornography. YOU know it when you see it…

I.e., “because I say so”.

Got it.

That’s what I *thought* you meant.

Comment #82185

Posted by Torbjorn Larsson on February 25, 2006 4:22 PM (e)

“Simple Fjord Man…”

Umm. I’m a swede (“Lars-son”, not “Lars-en”) and our only real, deep (ecologically significant) fjord is shared with Norway. What we call a “fjard” is a common bay.

“…MONEY.”

Now you’re talking about politicians, I’m sure. I’m just curious how crackpots can be so deluded. Schizophrenia?