PvM posted Entry 2315 on June 7, 2006 03:16 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2310

In Is Intelligent Design Testable: A response to Eugenie Scott Dembski tries to defend ID against the observation that ID does not present any testable hypotheses. Eugenie Scott responded to Dembski in The Big Tent and the Camel’s Nose

Eugenie Scott wrote:

In my talk, I wasn’t deploring the untestability of ID per se but the fact that its proponents don’t present testable models. I was referring to the fact that ID proponents don’t present a model at allin the sense of saying what happened when. At least YEC presents a view of “what happens”: the universe appeared within thousands of years ago, at one time, in its present form, living things are descended from specially created “kinds” from which they have not varied except in trivial ways, there was a universal flood that produced the modern geological features, and humans are specially created apart from all other forms. So what happened in the ID model?

If ID is interested in ‘teaching the controversy’ and informing students about good science, then why is it that ID activists have so far refused to take much of any stance on the ‘scientific’ claims by the young earth creationists?

Eugenie ends with the following observation and question

Eugenie Scott wrote:

Now, maybe Dembski or other ID proponents will tell me that they are not trying to influence the K-12 curriculum, that they are merely trying to build a scholarly movement at the university or intellectual level, trusting that eventually ID will be validated and like other intellectual movements, it will trickle down to the K-12 level. If Dembski had attended my talk, he would have heard me advocate exactly this strategy. I don’t think ID will enter the academic mainstream, but if it does, then obviously it will eventually be taught in high school. But I don’t think ID proponents are willing to wait until they get this validation: Jonathan Wells, whose book provides disclaimers to be copied and placed in K-12 textbooks, is obviously concerned primarily with the K-12 curriculum; Philip Johnson’s Defeating Darwinism is explicitly aimed at high school students; and CRSC¹s Steven Meyer is an author of a substantial “Afterward” to teachers in the ID high school textbook, Of Pandas and People. Bruce Gordon, presently interim director of The Baylor Science and Religion Project, has correctly noted: ID “has been prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education, where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world” (Gordon, 2001).

So, what happened, Bill? Will you go beyond “evolution is bad science” to give us an actual model of what happened? (PvM: Emphasis added)

Dembski made his position clear when he stated that

Dembski wrote:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

Dembski on ISCID

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Comment #104317

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on June 7, 2006 11:14 PM (e)

I think that Dembski quote at the bottom there is one of the most used quotes in the entire debate. It’s wonderful though when ones opponents put their own feet in their own mouths so comprehensively that you don’t need to do anything. I wonder if the ID movement has realised that with statements like that one, they are their own worst enemy and they don’t need opponents. Dembski et al know there is nothing to ID academically and their only hope is getting it into public schools.

Comment #104323

Posted by k.e. on June 8, 2006 12:03 AM (e)

Dembski opines:
……
True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

If that isn’t a classic Freudian slip then I don’t what is….from what we (and Dembski) know;

The sum total of ‘ID’ is an active political/social engineering lobby group, using a slick marketing methodology to promote a pseudo religious concept,

which has NOT actually performed any science i.e. collected and analyzed data or indeed submitted for peer review an actual tested working model/theory

(i.e. performed discovery)

and is only NOW discovering

(been found out)

that this is a requirement before an idea can be considered ‘scientific’.

Comment #104407

Posted by Frank J on June 8, 2006 6:05 AM (e)

Eugenie Scott wrote:

I was referring to the fact that ID proponents don’t present a model at all in the sense of saying what happened when. At least YEC presents a view of “what happens”: the universe appeared within thousands of years ago, at one time, in its present form, living things are descended from specially created “kinds” from which they have not varied except in trivial ways, there was a universal flood that produced the modern geological features, and humans are specially created apart from all other forms. So what happened in the ID model?

Has anyone noticed that Scott’s article, in response to Dembski’s masterpiece of word play, was published over 5 years ago? That exchange, perhaps more than anything, shows how ID is its own “kind” of scam, despite its “common ancestry” with classic creationism. The latter has its own fatal flaws and irreconcilable contradictions of course, but chief IDers know that, and that’s why they changed the strategy. As the early “Pandas” drafts show, the ID strategy, was well underway before Edwards v. Aguillard. ID scammers knew that classic creationism was a scientific failure before they knew it was a legal failure. Leaving the designer unidentified is but a small part of the grand evasion scheme.

Below I repost a modified version of my comments to William Dembski’s classic http://www.iscid.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=000152;p=3 cop out. Yes I know that Dembski’s quote was in response to a specific question, but IDers effectively say the same thing regardless of the question:

WD: You’re asking me to play a game:

No, you’re already playing a game. We’re asking you to stop.

WD: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.”

We’ll settle for less detail, since we’ve had a few years’ head start. Unless you count Paley, in which case you had the head start. But we don’t just need “causal mechanisms,” we also need you to tell us what those mechanisms explain. You know, the “what happened
and when” of biological history. Even YECs can do that part, so we’re confident that you can too.

WD: ID is not a mechanistic theory,…

It isn’t a theory, period.

WD: …and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.

ID can’t match any level of detail, which is why you no longer demand that it be taught in schools. So you just promote the phony “critical analysis” of evolution, which insulates all the other attempts at “theories”, e.g. YEC, OEC, saltation, front loading, etc., from a
real critical analysis. Nice trick, I must admit.

WD: If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots.

Tell that to the YECs and OECs who insist on connecting the dots in the wrong way.

Besides, you conveniently overlook the fact that when a designer is detected in forensics and archaeology - using the “side information” that those fields have that yours lacks - investigators continue to “connect the dots” by determining what the designer did, when and how. In contrast, the object of your game is to get your critics to dwell on whether or not there is a designer. That saves you from having to say what the designer did, when and how. And you don’t want to do that because you know that the answer is “it’s still evolution.” Maybe not your “Darwinism” caricature, but still evolution.

WD: True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

Then what exactly are the “fundamental discontinuities?” They must not be biological because Michael Behe made it clear that there is “biological continuity” (his phrase for common descent at the Kansas Kangaroo Court), and you have not challenged him on it. So for all your gyrations about “the” flagellum, barring any extraordinary evidence to the contrary, the most reasonable explanation is still that modern flagella originated “in vivo” not “in vitro.” Likewise humans are “modified monkeys,” not “modified dirt.” And the
process is still evolution.

But we understand. You can’t say too much because you need YEC political support. We know the game. Like astrology, which Behe likened it to at Dover, ID continues to fool millions of people, but it fools no biologists except the handful who already sold out to pseudoscience. And since the sell-outs seem to know that it’s a scam, we can’t necessarily say that it fools them either.

Comment #104408

Posted by Corkscrew on June 8, 2006 6:20 AM (e)

Whilst we’re on the subject of Dembski, I’m feeling a bit freaked. I walked into the Cambridge University Press bookshop the other day and guess what was on prominent display right near the door? “The Design Inference”. :(

Is there anything that can be done here without looking like an asshat? I’ve been pondering mentioning this to a couple of my biologist friends in the hope that it’ll trickle up to someone who can complain vociferously about it and actually get listened to - any thoughts?

Comment #104410

Posted by k.e. on June 8, 2006 6:51 AM (e)

How’s this, if they are that stupid get them to give away free copies of the Dover decision as a supporting document.

Comment #104417

Posted by Keith Douglas on June 8, 2006 7:36 AM (e)

Corkscrew: Do you have an important sounding and relevant position? Use letterhead and complain, if you do.

Comment #104427

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on June 8, 2006 8:58 AM (e)

If any argument can be used to show how vacuous an empty of scientific content ID is, Dembski produced it. In a simple paragraph he alone succeeded in demonstrating that there is nothing behind ID to support its assertions other than hand waving, speculation, arguments from ignorance and faulty logic. He knows it and that is why he desperately avoids put any content (mechanisms, predictions) into ID.

Comment #104436

Posted by PvM on June 8, 2006 10:50 AM (e)

Dembski is quite clear about ID’s prospects for it to be scientifically relevant.

Dembski wrote:

It’s at this point that critics of design throw up their hands in disgust and charge that design theorists are merely evading the issue of how a designer introduces design into the world. From the design theorists perspective, however, there is no evasion here. Rather there is a failure of imagination on the part of the critic (and this is not meant as a compliment).

Yes, after all we have invented the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, so why can those darn critics not show some imagination here?

Dembski wrote:

In asking for a mechanistic account of how the designer imparts information and thereby introduces design, the critic of design is like a physicist trained only in Newtonian mechanics and desperately looking for a mechanical account of how a single particle like an electron can go through two slits simultaneously to produce a diffraction pattern on a screen (cf. the famous double-slit experiment). On a classical Newtonian view of physics, only a mechanical account in terms of sharply localized and individuated particles makes sense. And yet nature is unwilling to oblige any such mechanical account of the double slit experiment (note that the Bohmian approach to quantum mechanics merely shifts what’s problematic in the classical view to Bohm’s quantum potential). Richard Feynman was right when he remarked that no one understands quantum mechanics. The “mechanics” in “quantum mechanics” is nothing like the “mechanics” in “Newtonian mechanics.” There are no analogies that carry over from the dynamics of macroscopic objects to the quantum level. In place of understanding we must content ourselves with knowledge. We don’t understand how quantum mechanics works, but we know that it works. So too, we don’t understand how a designer imparts information into the world, but we know that a designer imparts information.

How Can an Unembodied Intelligence Interact with the Natural World?

We don’t know how, we have no positive evidence, we lack mechanisms, pathways and much of anything scientifically relevant but trust us, we can recognize design. Although Dembski also admitted that identifying design does not necessarily points to a designer!!!

Ryan Nichols wrote:

“Before I proceed, however, I note that Dembski makes an important concession to his critics. He refuses to make the second assumption noted above. When the EF implies that certain systems are intelligently designed, Dembski does not think it follows that there is some intelligent designer or other. He says that, “even though in practice inferring design is the first step in identifying an intelligent agent, taken by itself _design does not require that such an agent be posited. The notion of design that emerges from the design inference must not be confused with intelligent agency_” (TDI, 227, my emphasis).

Source: Ryan Nichols, Scientific content, testability, and the vacuity of Intelligent Design theory, The American Catholic philosophical quarterly, 2003 ,vol. 77 ,no 4 ,pp. 591 - 611

Comment #104439

Posted by k.e. on June 8, 2006 11:13 AM (e)

PvM said:

Although Dembski also admitted that identifying design does not necessarily points(sic) to a designer!!!

Yes well obviously he has to keep that card up his sleeve.

Attorney: “Mr. Dembski who is the designer?”
WAD: “I didn’t say there was a designer”
Attorney:”Stop twitching your eye and just answer the question Mr. Dembski”
WAD: “ah…well he could be a time traveling Ace Spalien”
Attorney:”Really? Do your employers agree with that?”

Comment #104446

Posted by Corkscrew on June 8, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

Corkscrew: Do you have an important sounding and relevant position? Use letterhead and complain, if you do.

I’m a student. I believe this adequately answers your question.

Comment #104450

Posted by Frank J on June 8, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Dembski is quite clear about ID’s prospects for it to be scientifically relevant.

Dembski wrote:

It’s at this point that critics of design throw up their hands in disgust and charge that design theorists are merely evading the issue of how a designer introduces design into the world. From the design theorists perspective, however, there is no evasion here.

While Dembski wants “imagination” (meaning “think postmodern”), all the imagination in the world can’t match a simple fact: It would not be evasion if Dembski simply backed it up with “equal time” for “critical analysis” of the models and hypotheses of the mutually contradictory classic creationisms. That would add at least some credibility, if not scientific utility, to the pretense that ID is simply the “master theory” that “subsumes” all the other theories (or mere “accounts” in the case of the classic creationisms). Dembski knows darn well that it is actually easier to refute YEC and no-common-descent-OECs, than to refute evolution, if only because refuting those accounts requires no quote mining, bait-and-switch definitions, cherry picking evidence, etc. Yet because of a prior commitment to the big tent, IDers single out evolution, or more correctly their false caricature of “Darwinism.” And that makes it pure evasion.

Ironically, in one way ID is very scientifically relevant. As I (and sadly few others) have been saying for years, and as the comparison of early “Pandas” drafts dramatically shows, ID, and its immediate “don’t ask, don’t tell” creationism precursor, are virtual admissions that evolution has scientifically triumphed over any and all scriptural accounts of biological history.

Comment #104455

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 8, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

Richard Feynman was right when he remarked that no one understands quantum mechanics. The “mechanics” in “quantum mechanics” is nothing like the “mechanics” in “Newtonian mechanics.” There are no analogies that carry over from the dynamics of macroscopic objects to the quantum level. In place of understanding we must content ourselves with knowledge. We don’t understand how quantum mechanics works, but we know that it works. So too, we don’t understand how a designer imparts information into the world, but we know that a designer imparts information. [emphasis added]

There’s the crucial difference, Dembski. In quantum mechanics we content ourselves with knowledge. And if you were supplying knowledge and working models for ID, we’d pay heed to that too. Until then, never mind….

Comment #104456

Posted by k.e. on June 8, 2006 1:07 PM (e)

Yes well Dembski doesn’t have to worry about ‘mechanistic detail’ Newtonian or otherwise all he has to do is mention someone famously respectable and then spread a few half arsed beatifications over the top of semi scientific sounding language and his cheer squad will all bow down and kiss his feet..and ka-ching…. keep those checks coming in folks.

Comment #104461

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 8, 2006 1:21 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

It’s at this point that critics of design throw up their hands in disgust and charge that design theorists are merely evading the issue of how a designer introduces design into the world. From the design theorists perspective, however, there is no evasion here. Rather there is a failure of imagination on the part of the critic (and this is not meant as a compliment).

Dembski fancies himself to be a philosopher. Let’s give old Kant a visit to see what he thought of speculation, which Dembski confuses with imagination:

Kant wrote:

The light dove cleaving in free flight the thin air, whose resistance it feels, might imagine that her movements would be far more free and rapid in airless space. Just in the same way did Plato, abandoning the world of sense because of the narrow limits it sets to the understanding, venture upon the wings of ideas beyond it, into the void space of pure intellect. He did not reflect that he made no real progress by all his efforts; for he met with no resistance which might serve him for a support, as it were, whereon to rest, and on which he might apply his powers, in order to let the intellect acquire momentum for its progress. It is, indeed, the common fate of human reason in speculation, to finish the imposing edifice of thought as rapidly as possible, and then for the first time to begin to examine whether the foundation is a solid one or no. Arrived at this point, all sorts of excuses are sought after, in order to console us for its want of stability, or rather, indeed, to enable Us to dispense altogether with so late and dangerous an investigation.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/kant-cpr.html

Of course the difference between Kant and Dembski is huge, most of all the fact that Kant was a scientist, and he would not tolerate the kind of pseudoscientific nonsense that Dembski puts out–not as science anyway (he could have been more cautious in philosophy, for sure).

I just thought that this was one of the most readable portions of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and it is aimed straight at the sort of “imagination” that Dembski enjoins upon us as a replacement for science’s careful regard of the evidence.

By the way, purveyor’s of New Age and Old Age speculation never do mean it as a compliment that scientists “lack imagination” (sometimes the charge is true, but that’s not actually the issue here). They do not realize that many have a great deal of imagination, so that they think of a huge number of conceptual possibilities for the origins of organisms, hence they turn to science to narrow possibilities down to something that fits the evidence.

I would guess that Dembski lacks enough imagination to be forced to turn to the evidence to narrow his conceptual possibilities. As far as I can tell, he only has the one concept in his mind, with too little imagination even to understand the model he criticizes.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104468

Posted by Greg Peterson on June 8, 2006 2:12 PM (e)

Corkscrew–OK, this might not be possible in this case, or widely viewed as cricket, but when I’m in a Borders or Barnes & Noble, I re-shelve certain books (Of People and Pandas, Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, The Design Inference, etc.) from the science section to the Christian Inspiration section (carefully alphabetized). I’m sure it’s pesky for the underpaid booksellers constantly to be re-shelving those books (which they do–if I come back two days later, the religious books are right back in the science section). But when my complaints about the dearth of good science books and mis-shelving of creationist books was ignored, I felt I had not other choice. Lying to people, especially people curious enough about a topic to read a book on it, and most especially children, is far more serious to me than is my barely impeding the productivity of a huge corporation. You could call that a rationalization, but I call it culture jamming. OK, geez, now I sound like, “They call it CO2; we call it life.”

Comment #104474

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 8, 2006 2:56 PM (e)

actually, I wonder why those bookstores don’t have a “snake oil” section.

that’s where that crap belongs.

It’s no more religion than it is science.

It’s just hokum to make bucks.

Comment #104475

Posted by stevaroni on June 8, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #104477

Posted by stevaroni on June 8, 2006 3:08 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

…We don’t understand how quantum mechanics works, but we know that it works. So too, we don’t understand how a designer imparts information into the world, but we know that a designer imparts information…

The difference being that science doesn’t know how quantum mechanics works, but it has worked long and hard to prove that it works.

The pioneering atomic scientists took a look at their early experiments and went “Whooa, that can’t be right, it would invalidate our accepted model of physics!”.

So what did they do? Did they thump their copy of Principia Mathematica and insist that Sir Isaac gave them the word and none shall challenge it? Did they try to get the physics schools to squelch dissent? Did they get a senator to propose a resolution.

No. They did what science does, they published all the data they had and invited all their colleagues to come over and look what they did. Then they figured out a way to get more.

Today, we still don’t know how it works, but 80 years of careful experimentation have undeniably proved the emperor has clothes. Or quarks. Whatever.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on that first paper from ID.

Comment #104484

Posted by C.J.Colucci on June 8, 2006 3:37 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #104485

Posted by C.J.Colucci on June 8, 2006 3:41 PM (e)

My hazy recollection of Newtonian physics is that we never knew how it worked either. Gravity? What kind of mystery force is that? Action at a distance? Spooky, weird s**t. That’s what Newton’s critics said at the time, and, as far as it went, they weren’t wrong. Still, it did, and does, a nice job of predicting the motions of medium-sized objects that aren’t extremely fast or hot. Wake me up when ID generates something, anything.

Comment #104499

Posted by steve s on June 8, 2006 5:18 PM (e)

Actually, Dembski’s comparison to QM is very apt. Let’s look over the historical development of QM:

1900 Max Planck forms The Investigation Institute, whose secret mission statement mimeograph is embarrassingly leaked
1913 Bohr’s Black Box published
1924 Old-school textbook rewritten, with DeBroglie Theory global search and replaced with Quantum Mechanics. This replacement was imperfect, and one instance becomes DeQuantum Mechaglie Theory
1925 Critics complain Heisenberg’s Matrices “Written in flavoured gelatin”

so really, there’s a lot of similarity there.

Comment #104691

Posted by k.e. on June 9, 2006 8:12 AM (e)

Steve S.

Clap, clap, clap,
Take a bow,
and here I was thinking you didn’t have a sense of humor.
That should go down in the DI hall of shame in a glass cabinet marked future DI creative genius, be careful to check their ‘pee reviews’ for plagiarism….D’oh they already did that…Dang.

Comment #104695

Posted by William E Emba on June 9, 2006 8:43 AM (e)

Greg Peterson wrote:

Corkscrew—OK, this might not be possible in this case, or widely viewed as cricket, but when I’m in a Borders or Barnes & Noble, I re-shelve certain books (Of People and Pandas, Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, The Design Inference, etc.) from the science section to the Christian Inspiration section (carefully alphabetized).

I knew a bookstore that shelved all their Ayn Rand under “fiction”.

Comment #104703

Posted by stevaroni on June 9, 2006 10:17 AM (e)

I knew a bookstore that shelved all their Ayn Rand under “fiction”.

I’d reshelve all the Dilbert cartoons under “reality”.

Comment #104714

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on June 9, 2006 11:12 AM (e)


D_mbski the master quote miner cut and paste the following;
“Richard Feynman was right when he remarked that no one understands quantum mechanics. The “mechanics” in “quantum mechanics” is nothing like the “mechanics” in “Newtonian mechanics.”

But unfortunately for D_mbski and his minions, contrary to ID that solicitously evaded any content into their wishful thinking of a theory, quantum physicists have toiled and come up with possible ways to explain what they proposed.
Wild Bill we are still waiting for you to give something, anything that help to at the least describe ID in more substantial, natural ways…. Ooops did I say NATURAL?
Sorry for a second I forgot that the answer is
POOF GODDIDIT

Comment #104909

Posted by Monado on June 10, 2006 2:40 PM (e)

Quantum mechanics also has the mathematics to predict what will happen or the characteristics of new particles that might be observed.

Meanwhile I take quiet pride in the fact that my stepdaughter, while still a graduate student, has already exceeded the output of the entire Intelligent Design movement in peer-reviewed scientific papers.