PvM posted Entry 2529 on August 21, 2006 02:33 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2524

On his Evolution List blog, Allen MacNeill discusses a paper written by one of his students of the Cornell ‘Evolution and Design’ seminar. The paper, written by Elena Broaddus, discusses the topic of our ““innate” tendency to infer purpose in nature”.

The posting starts with some interesting pictures of ‘faces’ found in nature. We are all very familiar with detecting ‘design’ in clouds and there are countless instances where people see faces or other attributes in natural objects. Elena addresses this ‘innate tendency’ that leads us to infer purpose in nature.
Faces.jpg

Allen MacNeill wrote:

I would like to draw some more attention to E. Broaddus paper on the “innate” tendency to infer purpose in nature. I have long suspected that humans (and perhaps many vertebrates, especially mammals) have this tendency. As an evolutionary psychologist, I at least partially subscribe to the idea that the human mind is composed primarily of “modules” whose functions are to process particular kinds of sensory information in such a way as to yield adaptive responses to complex environmental information. This is precisely what Broaddus argues for in her paper: that the human mind (and, by extension, the vertebrate “mind” in general) has a module that is adapted specifically for the precise and rapid inference of intentionality in nature. That such an “agency detector” (to use the commonly accepted term for such a module) would have immense adaptive value is obvious. In an environment in which other entities do indeed have “intentions” (i.e. predators, competitors, potential mates, etc.), the ability to detect and infer the possible consequences of acting upon such intentions would confer immense adaptive value on any organism with such an ability.

Other student papers can be found at the Evolution and Design website, which is the blogsite for the Cornell seminar.

The predicted existence of such an innate system to infer design may help explain why the Explanatory Filter has yet to be applied in any rigorous manner to detect design.

Read more at Evolution List

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 #121315

Posted by J-Dog on August 21, 2006 1:30 PM (e)

I can actually hear the DI, Dembski, Behe and IDiots et al verbalizing “Curses! Foiled again”!

Comment #121319

Posted by Flint on August 21, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

And this is how, by “focusing exclusively on the mechanisms”, we can conclude that an intelligence is involved without being able to describe a single mechanism! Hey, just look. It’s obvious. An insight here into how Belief can continue to be reinforced even after rationality kicks in.

Comment #121320

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 21, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

In other words, it’s the old animism issue. People are almost born animists, and have to learn how to think in terms of causality, etc.

Here’s one paper on it:

http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/class/Ps…

A point I would make is that we actually begin to think “cause” in terms of our own actions. That is to say, we learn that a “cause” is us thinking that we might do something, then deciding to do it. We thus tend to suppose that other humans and animals do much the same thing–but also that wind has decided to do harm to us, that waves target us as victims, that storms decided to destroy our crops.

Do dogs growl at ghosts? Well, nearly so, because they, too, tend to take threats as directed at themselves by some evil purpose. A threat is to be understood as purposefully evil until proven otherwise (habituation), since you can’t take the chance that perhaps it is all just accidental.

We think of purpose as being revealed by rationality and some known non-rational effects of humans. But a lot of people think of purpose as being nearly synonymous with function, as the IDists do.

“I can’t look at the design of the human body without thinking that there is some kind of purpose behind it.” That is the sentiment expressed by creos/IDists in various ways. And it is the truth, most of them can’t look at function without thinking of purpose, since they have never gotten beyond the stage of thinking along the lines of “this is for that” (“the arm is for reaching”), which is how we first learn about body relations. It is sad that so many think on such a low level, but it is true that they do.

In a sense, then, it seems not to be Xianity that underlies the opposition of many religionists, rather it is a sort of animism that pre-dates Xianity. Christianity in its most idealized and philosophical version tends to see God behind everything, but not having touched anything that we see, He being so much beyond our thoughts and actions that He would not deign to “design” in a manner redolent of human design.

However, someone like Dembski wants it both ways, that we can recognize intelligent design in organisms just like we do with machines, yet the fact that organisms are quite unlike our designs is due to the fact that the designer is “unknown” (essentially a religious statement, btw, since even aliens could not be posited to be behind anything if they were not considered to be known in some manner (for instance, as rational designers), and only God is regularly posited to be an unknown Cause).

In closing, I would disagree somewhat with Pim’s suggestion that the tendency to see purpose in nature is behind the fact that ID isn’t applied rigorously anywhere. They’re not coming up with ID through rigorous thought, certainly, but if they could apply it rigorously they would love to do so. It’s just that every attempt to use (legitimate hypotheses of) ID rigorously fails.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121323

Posted by ivy privy on August 21, 2006 1:51 PM (e)

If you venture onto the Evolution and Design blog, be forewarned: MacNeill put Hannah Maxson, president of the Cornell IDEA Club, in charge of the blog, and they have “ground rules” rather more restrictive than here at PT. For example, I had one post censored in which I mentioned the “Gish gallop”.

Comment #121324

Posted by steve s on August 21, 2006 1:57 PM (e)

Ah, that would explain why my posts were disallowed there. An IDiot is in charge.

Comment #121332

Posted by Mike Elzinga on August 21, 2006 2:51 PM (e)

This may also explain other pathologies, such as seeing conspiracies everywhere. It is interesting that this can occur in very intelligent and creative people to the point of nearly paralyzing their normal functionality. Threatening patterns run amok, with no means to sort out which are specious and which are real, can be very scary.

Perhaps, with this perspective as a guide, methods could be developed which would help such patients sort out what is real what can be ignored by developing new networks of patterns in their brains. Certainly the very methods of science are themselves directed at just this kind of pattern sorting and validation.

Comment #121335

Posted by fnxtr on August 21, 2006 3:10 PM (e)

A psych prof friend once tried to explain to me that one of the symptoms of schizophrenia is sensing patterns where there aren’t any. I suspect it’s our natural ability – or tendency, or possibly even need – to recognize patterns that gives some of us the susceptibility to snake-oil like ID.

Comment #121339

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 21, 2006 3:33 PM (e)

Re Comment #121324:

Actually, very early in the summer when things started heating up at the Evolution and Design website, Hannah and I stumbled upon a very equitable system of moderation. She (a self-avowed IDer) was in charge of moderating people clearly identifiable as ID supporters, whereas I (a vehement pro-evolutionist) was in charge of moderating people clearly identifiable as EB (“evolutionary biology”) supporters. After a few difficult cases, it seemed to work out pretty well. Both of us were suitably abashed by the intemperate remarks put forth by people we viewed as being on “our side,” and both of us took care to let nearly all comments through, unless they clearly (indeed, egregiously) violated the clearly stated “rules of engagement.” Within a day or two it became apparent to me that almost everyone had stopped hurling epithets and started providing reasoned support for their arguments (or not, in which case it was blindingly obvious to everyone reading the comments who was playing fast and loose with the truth).

As I pointed out in the latest post at our website, I don’t think anyone changed their mind as a result of the seminar, but I do believe that most of us came away with a much clearer and more comprehensive grasp of the issues and how each side viewed them, and what kinds of evidence each side used to defend their views (or not, as the case may be). Furthermore, there was strong concensus at the end of the course that almost all of what most people think of as evolutionary biology (and quite literally all of what Darwin presented in the Origin of Species) is virtually untouched by ID, which focusses almost exclusively on issues surrounding the origin of life and the genetic code, plus a few selected biochemical pathways (and, of course, the bacterial flagellum). We spent a week deconstructing Michael Behe and William Dembski’s arguments (and their books) and found that the much-vaunted Darwin’s Black Box says virtually nothing about nearly all of evolutionary theory (and that even Behe himself concedes that there is “strong evidence” for common descent), and that Dembski’s “explanatory filter” and “complex specified information,” while mildly interesting from the standpoint of probability theory, has almost no demonstrable application to real-world biological systems.

Therefore, far from undermining evolutionary biology, the works of these two authors (taken at face value) have almost no relevence to the great bulk of evolutionary biology. Furthermore, all of the participants (including the ID supporters) rejected Phillip Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth as pure political polemic, not worthy of our time and attention; indeed, one of the most ardent ID supporters stated “That isn’t ID.” If not, then at least for the participants on the notorious Cornell evolution and design seminar, ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum), currently lacking empirical verification and without clearly defined methodologies for verification or falsification.

Comment #121341

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 21, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

Perhaps, with this perspective as a guide, methods could be developed which would help such patients sort out what is real what can be ignored by developing new networks of patterns in their brains.

Sounds to me like devising a foolproof methodology for leading a horse to water.

Comment #121342

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 21, 2006 3:39 PM (e)

Perhaps, with this perspective as a guide, methods could be developed which would help such patients sort out what is real what can be ignored by developing new networks of patterns in their brains.

Sounds to me like devising a foolproof methodology for leading a horse to water.

And (OT) this site definitely needs to sit on a bigger server, or fatter data pipes, or something. There’s a means of making donations; if some of this could be earmarked for that purpose, I for one would pony up a few bucks.

Comment #121347

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2006 4:04 PM (e)

I would only point out that there is a big difference between “purpose” and “pattern”. Pointing out that there may be inherent predispositions towards extracting patterns from observation has a lot of evidentiary support.

Claiming the same of “purpose” is entirely anthropomorphic, subjective, and has NO evidentiary support.

MacNeill I’m sure has studied the concept of search patterns.

this concept is not defacto extensible to the concpet of “purpose” in the teleological sense.

Comment #121348

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2006 4:07 PM (e)

clarification:

by “search patterns” I’m specifically referring the ethological concept of “search images”.

Comment #121352

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 21, 2006 4:17 PM (e)

Re Comment #121347:

Actually, the concept of “agency” (that is, of purposeful action) is currently a hot topic in evolutionary psychology, with quite a bit of empirical evidence (and more coming as we speak). For example, see:

Atran, S. & Norenzayan, A. (2006) Religion’s evolutionary landscape: Counterintuition, commitment, compassion, communion. Forthcoming in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Abstract available at http://artsci.wustl.edu/~pboyer/RelCogWebSite/in…

[From the abstract]: “A key feature of the supernatural agent concepts common to all religions is the triggering of an “Innate Releasing Mechanism,” or “agency detector,” whose proper (naturally selected) domain encompasses animate objects relevant to hominid survival – such as predators, protectors, and prey – but that actually extends to moving dots on computer screens, voices in wind, and faces on clouds.”

This is precisely the kind of “agency detector” that Broaddus referes to in her paper, and which is currently under investigation by several teams of researchers at several universities. The ability to detect “agents” (that is, entities that act with purposeful intent) is widespread in the kingdom animalia, and has very high adaptive value. It is my contention that this ability, which is almost certainly innate, leads to the kinds of “false positives” that characterize the arguments of most ID supporters.

Comment #121354

Posted by Scott on August 21, 2006 4:30 PM (e)

Re: Comment #121320

The proposition that the knowledge of “self” comes before the knowledge of “other” is quite interesting. It’s almost opposite a proposal that I had read about a few years ago.

The proposal was that, to be a successful social animal, the species had to evolve the ability to detect and understand the intentions of others, so that one could predict and reason about the responses of others to one’s own actions. “If I steal his food, is he going to hit me, or is he going to sit and cry?” With this successful wiring in place, it’s not a large leap to then co-opt that wiring be able to predict *our* responses to others. That is, we could begin to reason about ourselves as well as others. Viola, “consciousness”. But if the knowledge of “self” comes first, that proposition may not be reasonable.

Comment #121356

Posted by Wheels on August 21, 2006 4:42 PM (e)

I hear ya Bill. It seems to me that with all the internets being sent here the tubes get clogged like there’s no tomorrow.

This tendency to identify patterns and “intent” in natural phenomena remind me of insects whose wings have false eyespots on them, which resemble the gaze of some predator or other. Apparently even the “lower” animals “know” enough about intent to avoid an unblinking pair of peepers, even if the peepers are only facade.

Comment #121360

Posted by PvM on August 21, 2006 5:20 PM (e)

Excellent link Allen

Full text can be viewed at this link

Comment #121363

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 21, 2006 5:43 PM (e)

Furthermore, all of the participants (including the ID supporters) rejected Phillip Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth as pure political polemic, not worthy of our time and attention; indeed, one of the most ardent ID supporters stated “That isn’t ID.”

Alas, it *is* ID. ID is, indeed, nothing but one big long political polemic. As the Wedge Document makes crushingly clear.

Comment #121365

Posted by Doc Bill on August 21, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

It appears to me that the IDer’s start with a conclusion and work backwards. Therefore, they don’t detect an agent, rather, they assume the agent is there and look for its tracks.

Quite different from the mechanism you propose, which, in fact, should be the way things work.

So, the question I would pose to Allen following his most excellent posting summarizing the results of his summer session is, well, several questions:

What is the current status of ID research?

With Behe and Dembski essentially marginalized, who are the scientists working on the theory of ID?

What is the role of the Discovery Institute and why are they so keen on influencing Boards of Education?

Comment #121366

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2006 6:07 PM (e)

“A key feature of the supernatural agent concepts common to all religions is the triggering of an “Innate Releasing Mechanism,” or “agency detector,” whose proper (naturally selected) domain encompasses animate objects relevant to hominid survival – such as predators, protectors, and prey – but that actually extends to moving dots on computer screens, voices in wind, and faces on clouds.”

and i still claim you are imposing teleology where it doesn’t belong.

take the example of clouds that PvM posted.

this is NOT an example of recognizing “purpose” in the clouds. It is, however, an example of recognizing patterns in clouds.

It is correct to attempt to elucidate the evolutionary significance of pattern recognition; face recognition being an obvious one, and one with a good history in the literature.

It is INCORRECT to infer recognizing “purpose” in the same set of circumstances.

It overlays a set of teleological assumptions that I have yet to see warranted, even including the reference you cited.

Hey, call me an old-school ethologist, but I still don’t see you have made a case for this yet.

I can be convinced though.

show me how the idea of applying “purpose” explains the observed phenomena better than applying more straightforward interpretations of pattern recognition and search images.

a simpler question would be:

Where do you fall on the explanation for why puppy dogs seem “cute” to most people?

Comment #121369

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2006 6:27 PM (e)

…even simpler:

explain to me why the authors in the paper cited put quotation marks around

“Innate Releasing Mechanism”

Comment #121373

Posted by William Miller on August 21, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

As others have commented, the notion of an innate “intentionality detector” with evolutionary origins is a hot topic in evolutionary psychology, and has considerable empirical support. It is a special case of innate pattern detection, triggered by certain visual patterns (e.g. eye-like phenomena), directional behaviors, and so on.

Striking elements of it are common to most primates - for example, chimps and many other primates display innate “gaze following” (following another’s gaze to determine where the other is looking). There have also been some very interesting empirical demonstrations that chimps understand what their cohorts see and have seen, and therefore know, and use that information in competing for foodstuffs.

Gaze following unfolds in human beings at a very early developmental age (by 12 to 18 months) and is the foundation of the uniquely human capacity to engage in episodes of triangulated “joint attention” that are so crucial to human learning and human culture. A related topic is the very interesting phenomena of mirror neurons and related neurological machinery adapted to enabling us to understand one another in terms of goal directed actions. These are clearly (IMHO) the expression of evolutionary adaptations.

Sometimes, however, agency detection is is deployed inappropriately, as when “intention,” and hence agency, is inappropriately projected onto events in nature.

Comment #121374

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 21, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

Allen MacNeill wrote:

…ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum), currently lacking empirical verification and without clearly defined methodologies for verification or falsification.

That’s a verbose way to say “God of the Gaps”.

Comment #121375

Posted by KL on August 21, 2006 7:27 PM (e)

“If not, then at least for the participants on the notorious Cornell evolution and design seminar, ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum), currently lacking empirical verification and without clearly defined methodologies for verification or falsification.”

Anyone still wanting to push this into the high school curriculum needs to read this.

Comment #121417

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 21, 2006 8:39 PM (e)

Re comment #121365:

Three questions were posed. The following are my answers to these questions, as they did not explicitly come up in this format this summer:

(1) What is the current status of ID research?

As far as I know, there is no empirical research that either validates or falsifies any of the principle claims of the primary authors of ID texts (i.e. Michael Behe and William Dembski, but also including David Berlinski, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, and Jonathan Wells). Only Behe and Dembski have presented even quasi-empirical applications of ID theory. The remainder fall into the same category that Phillip Johnson did this summer - that is, they write what amount to polemics based on opinion and speculation, nearly all of it negative (that is, they do not present positive hypotheses, they merely attack various aspects of evolutionary theory). As noted earlier, Behe and Dembski’s works were the primary focus of our seminar this summer, and the conclusions most of us arrived at have already been noted.

I believe that the primary reason that there is essentially no empirical research being done to either validate or falsify ID theory is that ID theory in general does not consist of positive hypotheses that can be empirically tested. As many have pointed out, Behe’s concept of “irreducible complexity” is based almost entirely on ignorance and lack of information, rather than on “first principles” (i.e. on theoretical formulations that lead to the conclusion that the evolution of “irreducibly complex” objects or processes are impossible).

Dembski’s mathematical speculations remain precisely that: speculations without the slightest shred of empirical support. After spending many hours working through Dembski’s mathematics, we concluded that it is currently impossible to use his “explanatory filter” (as expressed in mathematical terms) to determine if a given biological entity quallifies as “complex specified information” (CSI). Although Dembski’s mathematics are mildly interesting from a purely intellectual standpoint, they do not lend themselves to making actual calculations, again because there are so many unknown variables that must be quantified before his equation(s) for CSI can acually yield confirmatory or disconfirmitory judgements.

Therefore, unless someone undertakes a program of research tha proposes a series of testable positive hypotheses based on ID theory that can be empirically validated, it appears likely that ID theory will eventually come to the same fate as Bergson and Deleuze’s concept of élan vital; a footnote to the progress of empirical science, of interest only to those interested in failed pseudoscientific “theories.”

(2) With Behe and Dembski essentially marginalized, who are the scientists working on the theory of ID?

As far as I know, there are none. With the possible exception of Guillermo Gonzalez, all of the other authors listed above do not perform empirical research. Rather, they pursue an essentially negative program of attacking evolutionary biology and proposing philosophical speculations (based almost entirely on fundamentalist Christian theology) as a substitute.

(3) What is the role of the Discovery Institute and why are they so keen on influencing Boards of Education?

The Discovery Institute is a purely political entity, not currently engaged in any form of empirical research (nor supporting such research in either monetary or other ways), whose entire function appears to be to promote a political program intended to force a basically fundamentalist Christian viewpoint into the public schools and, eventually into local, state, and national governments and laws. These goals are explicitly stated by the directors of the Discovery Institute in the “wedge document” and have been its primary raison d’etre since its inception.

We did not directly discuss the Discovery Institute, the “wedge document,” the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial and decision, nor the writings of any of the polemicists listed above. This was a deliberate decision on the part of the participants in the seminar, as we all wanted to restrict our analysis and discussion to the scientific claims of the principle ID theorists. This is why we dismissed Phillip Johnson’s book, The Wedge of Truth and why we spent relatively little time discussing Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker, as both were essentially “position statements,” rather than scientific analyses. I my opinion, the same can essentially be said for Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, leaving only Dembski’s The Design Inference as the only non-polemical work in all of ID “theory.” And, as noted above, we concluded that Dembski’s mathematical work only suggests a possible way of distinguishing between “natural” and “designed” objects and processes, without presenting an empirically testable way of so distinguishing.

So, was the whole exercise “worth it?” It was indeed, as it helped all of us come to clarity on many of the foregoing points. As I have stated elsewhere, I don’t think anyone changed her/his mind over the course of the summer, but I believe (based on our discussions, especially during the last class) that we did come to some clarity on the issues, on the kinds of arguments made by both sides, and the kinds of evidence that would qualify as confirmative or disconfirmative on either side of the issue. Currently, there is abundant confirmative evidence for most of evolutionary theory (with the exception of the origin of life, the genetic code, and selected biochemical pathways) and virtually no empirical confirmative evidence for ID theory. Unless ID “theorists” take steps to become ID “scientists,” this situation is unlikely to change.

Comment #121418

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 21, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Currently, there is abundant confirmative evidence for most of evolutionary theory (with the exception of the origin of life, the genetic code, and selected biochemical pathways)

AFAIK, the origin of life (abiogenesis) and the genetic code (what about the genetic code?) are not part of evolutionary theory. So that leaves selected biochemical pathways which we would like to know more about (which pathwas, BTW?), and about which ID makes no positive claims. So ID is not scientifically vacuous because…

Comment #121422

Posted by Flint on August 21, 2006 9:25 PM (e)

As I have stated elsewhere, I don’t think anyone changed her/his mind over the course of the summer, but I believe (based on our discussions, especially during the last class) that we did come to some clarity on the issues, on the kinds of arguments made by both sides, and the kinds of evidence that would qualify as confirmative or disconfirmative on either side of the issue. Currently, there is abundant confirmative evidence for most of evolutionary theory (with the exception of the origin of life, the genetic code, and selected biochemical pathways) and virtually no empirical confirmative evidence for ID theory.

Kind of exhausing trying to wade through the meticulously careful political correctness here, which has served only to muddy the semantics almost beyond recognition.

There is no “ID theory.” There is only the irremediable religious position statement. Goddidit. With that as a given, of course nobody is going to change their mind. Blather about the “kinds of evidence” that might undermine ID is fatuous: ID is not based on any evidence, and exists in flat-out defiance of any and all relevant evidence. Furthermore, it cannot possibly be otherwise. Allow evidence’s foot in the door, and ID evaporates like it never existed. Contrast with the politically correct “virtually no emprical comfirmative evidence for ID theory.” When, as is obvious, there is no such thing as ID theory, and evidence is irrelevant to the Believers. Sheesh. Let us not break our intellectual backs bending over to give the benefit of nonexistent doubt.

Comment #121426

Posted by k.e. on August 21, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

And just what is THE “Theory of ID” again?

Note:
1)Life ‘not being an accident’(or any other subjective judgment) is not an objective theory, it’s a subjective belief.

2)Life (seemingly complex to some) having ‘not evolved’ is not an objective theory, its a subjective belief

3)Disparaging another theory with simple negatives while not providing positive evidence is not an objective theory, its a subjective belief.

The ‘Theory of ID’ is like the weather, never the same twice, just like the gods.

Comment #121437

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

meh, i can wait to debate the particulars of search imagery vs. “intent imagery” some other day.

Let us not break our intellectual backs bending over to give the benefit of nonexistent doubt.

indeed, while both sides apparently “learned something”, according to Allen, both sides just as equally did not change “her/his mind over the course of the summer”.

What this shows, as most here already could have guessed, is that no matter how much we attempt to “break our intellectual backs”, people given to the ID worldview (the vast majority of that differing little from an essentially creationist mindset), will not be swayed by any argument of reason or evidence.

Heck, if Allen couldn’t do it by carefully walking through all the relevant literature, step by step, I tend to think it simply can’t be done.

In the same way, I can also guess that those who think Francis collins will have better luck with his “approach” will end up being disappointed as well.

I’m tempted to say:

“Can we just get on with the inevitable game of whack-a-mole now, and put aside all attempts at reconciliation?”

but, I suppose there might yet be some way of putting this idiocy to rest that involves some sort of intellectual argument. Anything is possible.

bottom line though, the evidence to me, and others here, seems to point to a potential underlying psychological malady that creates this kind of worldview. This is also suggested by the cites posted in this thread, previous research on heritability of ultra-religious behavior that was posted here last year, and just about every long-term discussion any of us have had with those who purport to be YEC’s or IDers (the denial and projection are obvious and rampant in just about every post they make).

Until we have the courage to deal with it like the current approach our society takes towards alcholism, I see little progress being made to reduce the impact the creationist worldview is having on american society at large.

You can’t talk a creationist out of being a creationist, or at least, one has about the same chance of success as talking an alcoholic out of being a alcoholic.

Comment #121446

Posted by improvius on August 21, 2006 11:25 PM (e)

Point of clarification: the last picture in the series is the “Nun Bun” from the Bongo Java coffee house in Nashville, TN. It is a cinamon roll and is definitely man-made.

Comment #121447

Posted by Wheels on August 21, 2006 11:28 PM (e)

Sir Toe Jam wrote:

Heck, if Allen couldn’t do it by carefully walking through all the relevant literature, step by step, I tend to think it simply can’t be done.

In the same way, I can also guess that those who think Francis collins will have better luck with his “approach” will end up being disappointed as well.

I think the two approaches are somewhat different. First of all, you have a stark contrast apparently set up between “ID” and “Evolution” when you compare them directly against each other, and in such cases ID offers the following assurances to its audience:
1) There is a God.
2) Your mama was not a monkey (the “hardline” IDists all seem to be common descent and old earth acceptors, but of course they try to stuff everybody into the big tent and their arguments implicitly make this sort of case without actually saying that humans did or didn’t evolve from other primates so long as the person listening to them wants to hear it)
3) Those scientists think they’re so smart, well they’re not!
4) The other side automatically disputes every previous point (by assumption) and so hold extremely ideas from yourself.

Collins and Miller, on the other hand, aren’t challenging 1 at all, in fact they are steadfast in their belief that it’s true. So it’s not the God side versus the Non-God side, and this is important when you consider the likely make-up of people sympathetic to ID.
This will establish a point of commonality between them and prospective ID marks. This works in their favor to help shake off the anti-intellectual/anti-scientific 3, and blatantly contradicts any assumption of 4 on the part of the audience. Since so much of ID revolves around setting up “Darwinism” as a materialist, atheistic, Liberal, Nazi-Communist conspiracy, knocking out those significant points of propoganda will drive you a long way towards making IDiots seem like the empty-headed political demagogues they are. Sometimes you have to get somebody to peek before you can get them to open wide and take a solid look around, and I feel that having outspoken theists like Collins, Miller, the Vatican, Episcopalians, etc. publically and loudly insist that Evolution ISN’T the Big Scary Atheist Plot is definitely going to help more than hurt. It acts to visibly destroy the claims made by the ID movement.
In fact this is also part of the reason why I don’t feel science and evolution advocates should layer attacks on religion in general with their attacks on pseudoscientific political activists, because such things will actively reinforce the babble-points of the ID propoganda machine.

I’m tempted to say:“Can we just get on with the inevitable game of whack-a-mole now, and put aside all attempts at reconciliation?” but, I suppose there might yet be some way of putting this idiocy to rest that involves some sort of intellectual argument. Anything is possible.

I think it all depends on the level of resolution you’re going for. I definitely think the eradication of religion is out of the question and shouldn’t be pursued under the same banner as eradicating anti-evolution. Creating a more informed public that can see through ID bullshit for themselves is the first and probably the most difficult step, at least I assume this would be the case in the US because of our underfunded and much-abused public education system (I sometimes entertain ideas that the right is actively sabotaging it so they can say “See? We were right all along, and public education is a waste! Private schools for all!”). A more achievable short-term goal would probably be to defuse much of the tension between religious groups and secular science, because provocation isn’t going to make people suddenly more reasonable, rational, and agreeable. This doesn’t even have to be confined to the voicing of theistic evolutionists, it can also come from neutral treatments outside of purely religion/science, like Dr. Pennock’s books on Creationism which don’t ever give the impression of any personal religious beliefs at all but present the cases free of bias, informatively and academically, while still revealing the anti-evolutionist movers to be clownishly inept and hopelessly thickskulled besides being factually wrong. Honestly that’s the tactic I prefer to use myself, not calling upon religion but not dismissing religion as idiocy either.

bottom line though, the evidence to me, and others here, seems to point to a potential underlying psychological malady that creates this kind of worldview.

I was thinking just that earlier today, with all the talk about “why aren’t we attacking religion enough here?” I see it as a problem of personality and psychology rather than religion or areligious beliefs, it’s a fundamental problem with the way some people think (or don’t think) of things, especially in regards to the possibility of themselves being ignorant and wrong, rather than whether or not they choose to believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Consider the almost unfailing tendency of Creation proponents to recycle and reguritate decades-old bull despite being irrefutably and demonstrably wrong . Specific examples include the ever popular Duane Gish. In this view, it’s more a matter of how a person deals with their own self-image and error than in whether or not they’re part of a religion, a fundamental deviancy in their reasoning faculty that would affect them regardless of whether the specific issue at hand was evolution, global warming, or whether the internet is evil. I’m sure there are homologous examples beyond the Creationist sphere, in other areas of interest. Iffin’ it weren’t religion, it’d be somethin’ else.

You can’t talk a creationist out of being a creationist, or at least, one has about the same chance of success as talking an alcoholic out of being a alcoholic.

That’s why I don’t even argue for the sake of Creationists anymore. I gave that up long ago. But I always argue to the bitter end for the sake of the spectators, the fence-sitters, those who don’t know about this whole “evolution” thing but might be willing to give it a shot if only somebody would teach them about it.

Comment #121449

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 12:01 AM (e)

I definitely think the eradication of religion is out of the question and shouldn’t be pursued under the same banner as eradicating anti-evolution.

agreed, and it’s specifically the creationist “meme” i speak of when I imply idiocy.

I personally think the only success from a political standpoint will not come from any “banishment” of idea or ideology, but marginalization instead.

In that vein, while I would personally consider a viewpoint on religion as a whole like that of PZ’s extreme, I also see the value it has long-term for marginalization.

Creating a more informed public that can see through ID bullshit for themselves is the first and probably the most difficult step

actually, this “step” has already been tried, and apparently has failed.

regardless of whether it has to do with inadequate funding for educational institutions, or poor teachers, or poor administrations, the end result is that the proportion of those profession essentially what amounts to creationism has changed little in the last 20 years or so, according to the gallup polls.

without a SERIOUS overhaul of the entire educational system, I can’t see how this will change in the near future.

and even if the money were there to make significant changes, you simply can’t force somebody to learn something their parents don’t want them to learn - they’ll simply put their kids into a “private” school.

A more achievable short-term goal would probably be to defuse much of the tension between religious groups and secular science, because provocation isn’t going to make people suddenly more reasonable, rational, and agreeable.

the problem is, that regardless of what folks withing the blogosphere seem to think, it’s the creationists THEMSELVES that are generating just about ALL of the tension; the scientists are simply reacting, and relatively few even are.

The right wing see the issue as a “hotbutton” issue, just like homosexuality, that can easily be exploited for political gain, and they are doing their utmost to rile up the “faithful” to create the very tension we see now.

The only way to “defuse” the situation is to get idiots like robertson, Kennedy, Dobson, and Chimpy McGrin to stop trying to play politics with their basic grassroots powerbase.

that’s like asking a junkie to stop shooting up.

not terribly realistic.

Dr. Pennock’s books on Creationism which don’t ever give the impression of any personal religious beliefs at all but present the cases free of bias, informatively and academically, while still revealing the anti-evolutionist movers to be clownishly inept and hopelessly thickskulled besides being factually wrong.

this is an intellectual argument that will fly over the heads, or be deliberately ignored, by the vast majority of creobots and those placating to them, like Coulter.

again, like the attempt by Allen, it simply will not fly with those “already convinced of the evils of materialism”.

and again, let me stress that the evangelical movement in america has far less to do with religion than it does with politics.

blaming religion for the idiocy these folks exhibit is a totally seperate issue from religion as a whole.

otherwise, we would see creobots more commonly in other countries, which we don’t.

[quote]I see it as a problem of personality and psychology rather than religion or areligious beliefs, it’s a fundamental problem with the way some people think (or don’t think) of things, especially in regards to the possibility of themselves being ignorant and wrong, rather than whether or not they choose to believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster.[/quote]

yes, and this underlying pychology predisposes certain individuals to glom onto the kind of creationism we discuss here.

again, the very reason i refer to it as a “malady”; it shares little in common with much other “religion”.

Note that this is also exactly the reason why i said that Collins will have similarly dismal results in trying to reach those afflicted. We can leave the specifics of whether collins himself is suffering from some of the same issues for another day.

[quote]Consider the almost unfailing tendency of Creation proponents to recycle and reguritate decades-old bull despite being irrefutably and demonstrably wrong . [/quote]

can be quite nicely bottled under “denial”….and the ever oft heard claims of evolutionary theory as “religion” can similarly be put under the category of “projection”.

I can point to a classic case of these very things: our own little AFDave who posts over in ATBC.

He’s just one of the hundreds of creobots that have posted here that exhibit rampant denial and projection, without even realizing it of course.

it’s like I flashback to my psych 101 classes every time i read their posts. hence the reason I prefer the term “creobot”.

[quote]But I always argue to the bitter end for the sake of the spectators, the fence-sitters, those who don’t know about this whole “evolution” thing but might be willing to give it a shot if only somebody would teach them about it.[/quote]

more power to ya. lurkers have popped in from time to time on the thread created by AFDave to thank those refuting him over and over again, and to note how wrong Dave is.

It doesn’t change Dave’s mind though.

Comment #121452

Posted by Registered User on August 22, 2006 12:09 AM (e)

Flint

Sheesh. Let us not break our intellectual backs bending over to give the benefit of nonexistent doubt.

Don’t worry, Flint. Allen is extremely flexible in this regard. Civility trumps truth in the land of infinitesimally pointy heads.

Reading Allen’s description of the course “results” here, one might imagine that you could go to the Evolution and Design blog and find all sorts of statements where Allen’s ID peddlin’ buddy Hannah Maxson is criticizing the statements of Behe and Dembski and their inspirational guru, Phil Johnson.

You’ll not find that. And you’ll also discover that as the course blog goes on, you’ll find less questions answered by the “honest” and “passionate” Ms. Maxson. That is because asking certain obvious questions of Allen or Hannah violated their strange creationist-favoring “ground rules” and resulted in the banning of those who dared ask those questions.

All that is left, then, is endless blithering about where the greatest source of Salvador Cordova’s confusion lies. Been there, done that.

As for what actually happened in Allen’s class, it remains something of a mystery since almost all the reporting on the class came from Allen or Hannah, both of whom seem deeply committed to ensuring the appearance of the “success” of the class, according to their own terms. The blog was certainly a success in terms of creationist marketing as it contains commentary by both Allen and Hannah which is sharply critical of at least one prominent evolutionary biologist (Dawkins) and – as far as I can tell – precisely zero statements by Hannah criticizing the well-known lies of her ID heroes.

What’s up with that, Allen? Any thoughts? Does Hannah lack the gene for admitting baloney? Any adaptive advantages in that mutation?

Comment #121453

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 12:21 AM (e)

As one of the blog participants, I have found the moderation policy overall quite helpful as it helped focus on the issues rather than on side discussions about who was telling the truth… Exploring the shaky grounds on which complex specified information is built is far more helpful in convincing these IDers than about who said what and who was and was not telling the full truth.
I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.
Remember that upto this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.
Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID.
As such Allen’s course has been an excellent opportunity to do exactly that. By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological. That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

Comment #121461

Posted by Registered User on August 22, 2006 1:22 AM (e)

Pim

As one of the blog participants, I have found the moderation policy overall quite helpful as it helped focus on the issues rather than on side discussions about who was telling the truth… Exploring the shaky grounds on which complex specified information is built is far more helpful in convincing these IDers than about who said what and who was and was not telling the full truth.

Who are these IDers? Was Hannah Maxson convinced that ID is vacuous? Or that ID is Christian apologetics pretending to be science? What about Salvador Cordova? I don’t recall them admitting such things. So how do you know what seeds of doubt were planted, Pim?

Remember that up to this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID.

What are you talking about? Isn’t there any IDEA Club at Cornell? And isn’t Maxson the President? The “triple major”? You are suggesting that these people aren’t aware of the criticisms of “intelligent design” theory? After Dover?

Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID.

I have no idea what that could possibly have to do with the Evolution and Design blog which, by design, greatly limited the approaches that could be taken.

In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological. That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

Really? (Yawns)

Let me ask a simple question: why do Salvador Cordova and Hannah Maxson refuse to admit that Dembski’s and Behe’s “theories” are useless to biologists? What is that prevents them from admitting this?

Do you seriously believe (as Allen appears to believe) that Sal and Hannah are “innately” predisposed to behave like schmucks?

Comment #121470

Posted by k.e. on August 22, 2006 1:53 AM (e)

I see it now.

ID morphs into ID (Innate Delusion) the theory that Delusion more successfully reproduces because of its ‘innateness’….or colloquially …’born stupid’.

Comment #121473

Posted by H. Humbert on August 22, 2006 2:35 AM (e)

I fail to understand how after this class 100% of the IDers who participated were simultaneously able to a) fully admit and accept that ID makes no testible scientific claims and b) not change their initial position one iota.

One or the other didn’t happen as it’s being described.

Comment #121474

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 2:40 AM (e)

there was strong concensus at the end of the course that almost all of what most people think of as evolutionary biology (and quite literally all of what Darwin presented in the Origin of Species) is virtually untouched by ID … found that the much-vaunted Darwin’s Black Box says virtually nothing about nearly all of evolutionary theory … Dembski’s “explanatory filter” and “complex specified information,” … has almost no demonstrable application to real-world biological systems.

Since these statements are direct contradictions to fundamental ID dogma, how can it be that there was “strong consensus” and yet no one changed their mind? The only way I can see to make sense of it is that IDists are deeply dishonest people who make claims that they know have been refuted, or claim to agree to statements that they don’t agree with. It’s like everyone in a geography class reaching strong consensus on the locations of all the countries of the earth, but no one, not even the flat earthers, having changed their minds as a result of the class.

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum)

Perhaps this is the problem … Allan MacNeill doesn’t know what ID is.

Comment #121476

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 2:58 AM (e)

Exploring the shaky grounds on which complex specified information is built is far more helpful in convincing these IDers than about who said what and who was and was not telling the full truth.

If no IDer changed their mind, then nothing was more helpful than anything else in convincing them of anything.

I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.

If seeds of doubt were planted, then minds were changed. Any IDer who now has doubts that they didn’t have before the class but takes the same positions that they did before the class is clearly being dishonest.

By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological.

If MacNeill taught that then he grossly misinformed his students. Teleology refers to final causes, but final causes play no role in our understanding of biology and evolutionary processes.

That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

No, the reason we talk about that is the same as why we talk about an apparent versus actual human profile. The “design” in evolution resembles human design about as closely as the (now crumbled) Old Man in the Mountain resembles an old man’s head.

Comment #121477

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 3:13 AM (e)

This is why we dismissed Phillip Johnson’s book, The Wedge of Truth and why we spent relatively little time discussing Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker, as both were essentially “position statements,” rather than scientific analyses.

That statement borders on the obscene.

Comment #121483

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 3:36 AM (e)

I don’t know about anybody else, but I found the gist of what was presented in this thread, by both Pim and Allen, to be horribly confusing and the parts that made sense were mostly depressing.

I suggest both Pim and Allen spend time conversing with Dave Hawkins over on ATBC.

get a reality check.

Comment #121484

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 22, 2006 3:41 AM (e)

and again, let me stress that the evangelical movement in america has far less to do with religion than it does with politics.

blaming religion for the idiocy these folks exhibit is a totally seperate issue from religion as a whole.

But this view precludes any possibility that the idiocy can be based, in part, to the evangelicals actually believing the shit they say.

To say religion is totally separate from the idiocy they exhibit is not accurate either.

From what I see, it seems the idiocy they exhibit comes, for a large part, from the inherent beliefs in religions that proclaim that the particular religion holds all the answers and people do not need to look elsewhere.

Even if we take away the fundamentalist views, the be-all-end-all nature of religions is a very large contributor. It seeds ignorance, and from there, anything is possible, from political gains to truly believing in the rapture and thus the forced conversion of everyone else.

Comment #121488

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 3:53 AM (e)

Indeed, the faces at Mount Rushmore constitute a kind of “control” for this ability, as they are clearly the result of intentionality, and therefore can be used to anchor that end of the “agency detection” spectrum (at the other end of which are things like “faces” in clouds, tree foliage, etc.). Somewhere in this spectrum is a cross-over point at which actual intentionality/agency disappears and facticious intentionality/agency takes over. It is the location of that cross-over point that constitutes the hinge of the argument between evolutionary biologists and ID theorists.

What incredible claptrap. There is no “spectrum”; whether something was agent-designed or not is a matter of fact, a binary predicate. This blather about a spectrum, a cross-over point, “hinge of the argument”, is nonsense that tries to attribute reasonableness to “ID theorists” where none exists. The difference between evolutionary biologists and “ID theorists” is that the latter make false claims about the evidence regarding such matters of fact because they have a prior commitment to the existence of a specific intelligent agent.

Broaddus’s analysis of autism as a possible example of malfunctioning “agency detection” is, IMO, brilliant

Despite the fact that there’s nothing original in it? I find it striking that she cites Fodor but not Dennett, whose original theory of three stances, the physical, design and intentional stances, lays out in detail both what constitutes these stances and when and why it is advantageous to take these stances. For instance, if we want to predict what move a chess-playing computer will make, we should take the intentional stance and talk in such terms as “it will try to queen its passed pawn”. If we want to improve its play we should take the design stance and view it has a collection of functional modules. OTOH, if the computer starts printing “memory parity error” we should take the physical stance and deal with its underlying physical composition.

Comment #121494

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 4:13 AM (e)

In light of what I just wrote, I take this back:

The “design” in evolution resembles human design about as closely as the (now crumbled) Old Man in the Mountain resembles an old man’s head.

For all the reasons that Dennett lays out in his theory, it is very useful to treat biological systems as being designed, but it is worse than useless to view rock formations that way. But to treat biological systems as being designed is to take the design stance toward them, it is not a matter of “teleology”, which is a baseless assertion of why they were designed. OTOH, it can be convenient to take the intentional stance toward evolution and talk about “selfish” genes, parasites “outsmarting” host defenses, etc., but it is important to keep in mind that this is convenient shorthand that does not reflect any actual purposeful behavior.

Comment #121498

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 4:38 AM (e)

To say religion is totally separate from the idiocy they exhibit is not accurate either.

I look at it this way:

the creationist is just like an alcoholic.

However, instead of being addicted to alcohol, they are addicted to a form of religion.

Alcohol in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but certain folks are predisposed to having problems with it and becoming addicted.

the alcoholic exhibits classic psychological defense mechanisms to maintain his addiction.

the creobot exhibits the same denial and projection as an alcoholic.

the similarities in my mind at least, are overwhelming.

Like I said, Dave Hawkins, as far gone as he is, has solidified a lot of my thinking in this area.

go check out his thread for yourself. Tell me it doesn’t begin to resemble an attempt at intervention on the part of the rest of the posters there after a while.

Once I decided the similarities were there, it seemed reasonable to extend that to looking at how alcohol has been managed on the larger scale.

prohibition?

didn’t work. The same thing would happen if anybody tried to “prohibit” religion.

we would end up with a bigger mess than we did in prohibition.

what really worked?

marginalization of the alcholic. simply repeated messages that made alcoholics look bad, and a growing sense that there is a responsibility on the part of an alcoholic to seek treatment, as the behavior can lead to the injury of others.

It’s harder to make the direct case that the particular “brand” of religion creobots drink gallons of every day causes direct harm to others. However, I’m sure anybody who has watched the damage done to school districts (Dover, Kansas), or directly tied to things like clinic bombings, “Mirecki” beatings, or what have you, could make an argument. There is even a case to be made that some of these “God Camps” very much resemble brainwashing cults, and could be considered a form of child abuse. Regardless, there is LOTS of room to argue for marginalization.

the whole point being to get these folks to recognize they may be suffering from some sort of psychological malady that interferes with their ability to process information in a rational fashion.

It might sound extreme to somebody who hasn’t watched a diehard YEC expound on their position, but it really isn’t. Like I said, anybody who wants to see a perfect example can go take a gander at Dave’s “Updated Creator Hypothesis” thread over on ATBC and see for themselves.

In fact, Davey is proud of the fact that he is involved in providing false information for the “Kids4truth” website, and sends his kids to not one but TWO of the “God camps” mentioned above.

Ever see a Kent Hovind video on how he “teaches” kids?

don’t watch it on a full stomach.

This is the difference between relgion as a whole (which encompases literally thousands of different sects and thousands of years of history), and the “abuse” of religion you find with the “Hovinds” of the world.

Normal, rational people have no problems compartmentalizing their religious beliefs from their ability to do their jobs, whether they be scientists, educators, or politicians.

It’s when this breaks down, and you have two worldviews in direct conflict with one another that you start seeing the kind of “creobotism” we find so dangerous and repulsive.

This is the same regardless of whether the religion that serves as the source of the addiciton is Xianity, or Islam.

Comment #121499

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Comment #121501

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 4:46 AM (e)

hmm, I guess I’m also implying we need something like AA for those addicted to “religion” as well.

Creationist Anonymous?

the irony is too much for me this late at night.

Comment #121521

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 7:12 AM (e)

As I have stated elsewhere, I don’t think anyone changed her/his mind over the course of the summer, but I believe (based on our discussions, especially during the last class) that we did come to some clarity on the issues, on the kinds of arguments made by both sides, and the kinds of evidence that would qualify as confirmative or disconfirmative on either side of the issue. Currently, there is abundant confirmative evidence for most of evolutionary theory (with the exception of the origin of life, the genetic code, and selected biochemical pathways) and virtually no empirical confirmative evidence for ID theory.

And none of it helped.

As noted before this course even began, ID simply isn’t about science, IDers are not won to ID by science, and they won’t be won away from it by science either.

ID is a political program for theocracy. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. All the “science” is largely irrelevant to it.

Comment #121527

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 7:47 AM (e)

Allegations about the “seed of doubt” planted in creationist “minds” would be a great deal more credible if Hannah Maxson or any other creationist involved were to exhibit some statement or behavior not thumpingly identical to that displayed by every other creationist. Instead, we see no questioning of Behe or Dembski (check), we see the flat rejection of Dawkins (check), we see the highly selective censoring of what is supposed to be a nondenominational blog (check). We see creationism in all its glory, right down the line.

Clearly, Allen MacNeill went into the course with the same Will To Believe (in his case, about what the course would accomplish) as any creationist. The course, by all indications, penetrated into no minds at all, not even superficially. Most notably, not MacNeill’s mind either. So he comes out of the course trumpeting that it served its purpose, so pay no attention to the blog resoundingly demonstrating that it did absolutely nothing of the sort.

Then again, imagine Hannah’s social position, as IDEA club president, if she were to even hint that maybe Behe was wrong or Dembski useless. Would mere honesty (admittedly, making the wildly unlikely assumption that she learned a damn thing) trump admiration, status, position, social life, etc.? Make no mistake, Hannah is intensely aware of how creationists treat those who question Truth. She’s busy censoring them away herself!

Comment #121537

Posted by Raging Bee on August 22, 2006 8:10 AM (e)

Two minor points here:

First, it is quite possible that some of the IDers in this course did indeed come away with doubts about ID; but, since the course was subject to more public scrutiny than most college courses, they felt that admitting doubt in such a public forum, to an audience of “unbelievers,” would get them in some kind of trouble with their churches, communities, families or friends. Every church has its idiots and wackos; every church also has its mellow fellows who see the idiocy and wackiness for what it is, but don’t want to cause trouble by directly attacking them and thus dividing their communities.

Second, I wonder what would happen if a similar course were offered, not by a college or secular group of scientists, but by a church, in which the proponents of evolution were from the same community as the opponents. It is possible (though not certain, of course) that the IDers would be more comfortable admitting ID’s flaws in the presence of fellow believers, rather than “outsiders” whose profession and priorities they may not understand. It is also possible that a serious debate within a church would not have the same divisive “pro-God/anti-God” atmosphere, and believers could then discard ID without visibly discarding their most basic and cherished beliefs about their God(s).

Comment #121549

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 8:22 AM (e)

It is also possible that a serious debate within a church would not have the same divisive “pro-God/anti-God” atmosphere, and believers could then discard ID without visibly discarding their most basic and cherished beliefs about their God(s).

I don’t think such an event is likely to be staged (scripted, choreographed, orchestrated, etc. Never forget that such debates are serious PR, and NOT sincere investigations into reality). But we should at least recognize that the ID debate is all about which god is the One True Version. There’s certainly no question that Miller and Dembski worship gods who are not only drastically different, they aren’t even on speaking terms.

Comment #121560

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:48 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Allegations about the “seed of doubt” planted in creationist “minds” would be a great deal more credible if Hannah Maxson or any other creationist involved were to exhibit some statement or behavior not thumpingly identical to that displayed by every other creationist.

Indeed; consider this familiar garbage from one of the student papers:

J. Bruno wrote:

Lastly, I feel that there are certain indicators that may give credibility to intelligent design. The point is highlighted if we return to the walking leaf insect (Phyllium) from before. There are fossil records that indicate that these insects existed back in the early Jurassic Period- long before the emergence of any deciduous trees. (Wickler, 109) If this is true, then how can mimicry via natural selection be attributed to the Phyllium? How can the mimic come before the model? These questions indicate that there are certain gaps within natural selection that need to be filled, thus giving hope to creationists everywhere that maybe ID can be the perfect fit.

Flint wrote:

Clearly, Allen MacNeill went into the course with the same Will To Believe (in his case, about what the course would accomplish) as any creationist. The course, by all indications, penetrated into no minds at all, not even superficially. Most notably, not MacNeill’s mind either. So he comes out of the course trumpeting that it served its purpose, so pay no attention to the blog resoundingly demonstrating that it did absolutely nothing of the sort.

Yup; consider his uncritical comment about the paper mentioned above:

Allen MacNeill wrote:

J. Bruno’s paper on mimicry and camoulflage provides a “design-friendly” perspective on a perennial topic in evolutionary biology, and provides a “synthetic” perspective that tries to reconcile the two viewpoints.

Comment #121594

Posted by Bob O'H on August 22, 2006 9:49 AM (e)

Yup; consider his uncritical comment about the paper mentioned above:

Allen MacNeill wrote:

J. Bruno’s paper on mimicry and camoulflage provides a “design-friendly” perspective on a perennial topic in evolutionary biology, and provides a “synthetic” perspective that tries to reconcile the two viewpoints.

I think you’re being very unfair here. MacNeill is a teacher, and set the course up to teach. Professionally, he has to be supportive of his students, and not criticise them as you’d like (he may do that to some extent in marking the essays, of course).

I for one appreciate Prof. MacNeill’s efforts in putting together a course like this, and applaud him for trying to get beyond the rather polarised rhetoric to discuss the issues in a meaningful way.

Bob

Comment #121621

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 10:47 AM (e)

I think you’re being very unfair here. MacNeill is a teacher, and set the course up to teach. Professionally, he has to be supportive of his students, and not criticise them as you’d like (he may do that to some extent in marking the essays, of course).

How can one teach if blatant mistakes are not pointed out? If he puts up these papers without critical content, how are the students supposed to know which of these are utter BS? My comment was made in the context of Flint’s comments that MacNeill penetrated no minds and says the course served its purpose while ignoring the evidence to the contrary. I don’t think that either his comments or mine aren’t fair, and I think that your notion of “support” as though teachers were in the business of propping up the egos of their students is part of the problem.

Comment #121631

Posted by wamba on August 22, 2006 11:17 AM (e)

(3) What is the role of the Discovery Institute and why are they so keen on influencing Boards of Education?

The Discovery Institute is a purely political entity, not currently engaged in any form of empirical research (nor supporting such research in either monetary or other ways), whose entire function appears to be to promote a political program intended to force a basically fundamentalist Christian viewpoint into the public schools and, eventually into local, state, and national governments and laws. These goals are explicitly stated by the directors of the Discovery Institute in the “wedge document” and have been its primary raison d’etre since its inception.

Despite MacNeill’s apparent commitment to the soft, politically acceptable approach, he has directly contradicted Paul Nelson’s claim of Discovery-funded secret research.

But then, it’s a secret, so maybe he just hasn’t heard about it.

Comment #121635

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:23 AM (e)

People seem to have confused the Evolution and Design seminar with a regular class

This seminar addresses, in historical perspective, controversies about the cultural, philosophical, and scientific implications of evolutionary biology. Discussions focus upon questions about gods, free will, foundations for ethics, meaning in life, and life after death. Readings range from Charles Darwin to the present (see reading list, below).

In other words it a seminar to explore in a ‘historical perspective’

The latest challenge to the neo-darwinian theory of evolution has come from the “intelligent design movement,” spearheaded by the Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA. In this course, we will read extensively from authors on both sides of this debate, including Francisco Ayala, Michael Behe, Richard Dawkins, William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Ernst Mayr, and Michael Ruse. Our intent will be to sort out the various issues at play, and to come to clarity on how those issues can be integrated into the perspective of the natural sciences as a whole.

“We will read from both sides to come to clarity”

Comment #121638

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:26 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

As noted before this course even began, ID simply isn’t about science, IDers are not won to ID by science, and they won’t be won away from it by science either.

ID is a political program for theocracy. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. All the “science” is largely irrelevant to it.

This is a very narrow perspective. While you may believe (correctly imho) that ID is not about science, discussions with IDEAists have indicated to me that they are indeed convinced that there is good science to be had.

Exposing in a ‘hands on’ seminar how ID fails to be relevant scientifically is an important step in undermining this component of ID.
And that is very relevant.

Comment #121644

Posted by Lynn on August 22, 2006 11:38 AM (e)

H. Hubert said: “I fail to understand how after this class 100% of the IDers who participated were simultaneously able to a) fully admit and accept that ID makes no testible scientific claims and b) not change their initial position one iota.

One or the other didn’t happen as it’s being described.”

Unfortunately, it’s completely possible for people to understand one position intellectually, yet steadfastly harbor beliefs which are directly contradictory.

In one of my classes, I have my students go through an exercise using an on-line “debate” between Miller and Johnson–a series of eight letters, exchanged between them, over the question, “Where did we come from?” The debate is fairly typical–with Miller presenting evidence (as much as was possible within the relatively limited space allowed for his entries), answering Johnson’s various challenges, remaining on-topic, etc., and Johnson presenting the typical assortment of negative evidence claims, out-of-context quotes, straw man arguments, and arguments from ignorance, with a healthy dose of grandiose claims and religious rhetoric, particularly in his final entry, when he knew Miller would have no opportunity to respond.

The exercise leads the students through two kinds of analysis–isolating and invesigating claims of evidence, and evaluating quality of debate tactics. Almost every student in the class comes to the conclusion that Miller won the debate, both on the basis of quality and quantity of evidence and honesty of debate tactics.

And yet a significant percentage of them will conclude the final portion of their assignment with a statement like, “Though Dr. Miller won the debate, I still believe Dr. Johnson.”

It makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy that the student was able to set aside prior bias long enough to come to the conclusion that Johnson was full of BS, but sad that it apparently made no impact on the student’s understanding of the underlying issue.

**sigh**

Lynn

Comment #121645

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:38 AM (e)

On Uncommon Decent, Dave Scott validates my position by “arguing”
that “So I guess for Pim a cloud that looks sort of like a face is the same as a robotic protein factory driven by abstract digital program code and a library of abstract digital specifications for thousands of complex proteins, where some of those proteins are parts of the factory itself. “

Obviously DaveScot missed the argument that there exists an innate ability (possibly with an evolutionary history) that causes humans to perceive design. This is obviously not just limited to clouds but also to other instances where their ignorance causes them some concern and insist on “generating” an explanation. An excellent example is how in the past and presence, unexplained systems were attributed to a ‘designer’.

Somehow DaveScott seems to believe that just because he sees ‘robotic protein factories’ and ‘digital specifications’ there must have been a ‘designer’. He of course is correct but the innate ability to perceive design seems to have led him astray into believing that since we do not understand how these systems arose to a sufficiently detailed level, that the designer should have been supernatural.

That’s a topic for a follow up posting discussing the work by Pascal Boyer and others on religion and evolution. Why do people resort to supernatural explanations when ‘we don’t know’ is sufficient? The answer may be simple: to reduce uncertainty which may cause a significant level of discomfort to some. While to scientists such ignorance is like a red flag to a bull, encouraging them to formulate scientific hypothesese, to others it is an excuse to drop the ball scientifically speaking and conclude ‘thus designed’.

That’s why ID is largely scientifically vacuous.

Some random quotes from several relevant papers

Religions invariably center on supernatural agent concepts, such as gods, goblins, angels, ancestor spirits, jinns. In this section, we concentrate on the concept of agency, a central player in what cognitive and developmental psychologists refer to as “folkpsychology” and the “theory of mind.” agency, we speculate, evolved hair-triggered in humans to respond “automatically” under conditions of uncertainty to potential threats (and opportunities) by intelligent predators (and protectors). From this perspective, agency is a sort of “Innate Releasing Mechanism” (Tinbergen 1951) whose proper evolutionary domain encompasses animate objects but which inadvertently extends to moving dots on computer screens, voices in the wind, faces in the clouds, and virtually any complex design or uncertain circumstance of unknown origin This insight into the supernatural as the by-product of a hair-triggered agency detector was first elaborated by Guthrie (Guthrie 1993; cf. Hume 1957[1756]). We further ground it in the emerging theory of folkpsychology.

and

In sum, supernatural agents are readily conjured up because natural selection has trip-wired cognitive schema for agency detection in the face of uncertainty. Uncertainty is omnipresent; so, too, the hair-triggering of an agency-detection mechanism that readily promotes supernatural interpretation and is susceptible to various forms of cultural manipulation. Cultural manipulation of this modular mechanism and priming facilitate and direct the process. Because the phenomena created readily activate intuitively given modular processes, they are more likely to survive transmission from mind to mind under a wide range of different environments and learning conditions than entities and information that are harder to process (Atran 1998, 2001). As a result, they are more likely to become enduring aspects of human cultures, such as belief in the supernatural

A fascinating topic indeed.

Comment #121647

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:42 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Clearly, Allen MacNeill went into the course with the same Will To Believe (in his case, about what the course would accomplish) as any creationist. The course, by all indications, penetrated into no minds at all, not even superficially. Most notably, not MacNeill’s mind either. So he comes out of the course trumpeting that it served its purpose, so pay no attention to the blog resoundingly demonstrating that it did absolutely nothing of the sort.

Did you attend the seminar? Did you discuss with the participants? Or are you being ‘guided’ by the comments on the blog? Realize then that most of the blog participants were NOT seminar attendees.

Perhaps you are familiar with the ‘garbage in garbage out’ paradigm?

Comment #121648

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

Exposing in a ‘hands on’ seminar how ID fails to be relevant scientifically is an important step in undermining this component of ID.

Undermining all components of ID has already been done extensively. All the seminar could achieve is to undermine it for these particular participants, but it appears to have failed to do so, since no one has changed their mind and the IDers continue to make exactly the same arguments they always have.

Comment #121650

Posted by Dene Bebbington on August 22, 2006 11:56 AM (e)

Pvm, it seems that DaveScot often resorts to analogies between things in nature and human designs (eg. between DNA and digital codes). Given that there are also dissimilarities I once asked him to explain how he decides what level of similarity is needed to infer design via analogy. He never answered that question, which shows his bluster to be another case of “I know design when I see it”.

Comment #121655

Posted by Raging Bee on August 22, 2006 12:12 PM (e)

…Almost every student in the class comes to the conclusion that Miller won the debate, both on the basis of quality and quantity of evidence and honesty of debate tactics.

And yet a significant percentage of them will conclude the final portion of their assignment with a statement like, “Though Dr. Miller won the debate, I still believe Dr. Johnson.”

It makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy that the student was able to set aside prior bias long enough to come to the conclusion that Johnson was full of BS, but sad that it apparently made no impact on the student’s understanding of the underlying issue.

That conclusion is not necessarily supported by the facts. The student in question could have understood the dishonesty and vacuity of ID as scientific proof of a Creator, yet still believe in a Creator. If the student comes away understanding that he/she doesn’t have to lie for Jesus to be a good Christian, and/or that such lies can be exposed as such, then that would be an improvement.

Comment #121661

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 12:17 PM (e)

Obviously DaveScot missed the argument that there exists an innate ability (possibly with an evolutionary history) that causes humans to perceive design. This is obviously not just limited to clouds but also to other instances where their ignorance causes them some concern and insist on “generating” an explanation. An excellent example is how in the past and presence, unexplained systems were attributed to a ‘designer’.

He may not have missed the argument, indeed. He seems to be trading on the false dichotomy that ID has brought up, that so-called IC is different than simple patterns found in clouds, etc. And of course the complexity of life is significantly different from the complexity of a cloud, which plunges us back into the dreary ID nonsense about how evolution couldn’t produce the flagellum, thus it was designed.

They intend always to ignore the marks of evolution in the flagellum, confident in their one-trick pony to destroy the evidence that clearly goes against the “design hypothesis”. This may be the most important point, in fact, that neither a cottonball nor a face seen in a cloud has any meaning as to origins because there is nothing to differentiate the “patterned cloud” from the so-called random cloud, nor is there anything that differentiates non-evolved traits from evolved traits in animals.

That is to say, if design without a credible designer explains absolutely nothing, one still has to come up with a credible scenario for a “naturalistic” production if one really is going to have sufficient reason to say that it appeared “naturally” (i.e., in accordance with known “laws” and known phenomena, in the definition used here). The trouble for creos/IDists is that we have just such a scenario, which is based upon the evidence of life’s relatedness and hierarchies (written as a kind of shorthand for “all of the evidence for evolution”) and which does not leave off at any obvious, not even any apparently obvious, “designed element” or elements within life.

Somehow DaveScott seems to believe that just because he sees ‘robotic protein factories’ and ‘digital specifications’ there must have been a ‘designer’. He of course is correct but the innate ability to perceive design seems to have led him astray into believing that since we do not understand how these systems arose to a sufficiently detailed level, that the designer should have been supernatural.

This does not agree with your later statement: “to others it is an excuse to drop the ball scientifically speaking and conclude ‘thus designed’.”

It would be well to pick one definition for “designer” and stick with it, preferably the one that most scientists use, the one which refers to agency (esp. outside of the US, “design” is used often enough for evolved systems, but “a designer” really is not used for the processes that produce these “designs”). I’m sure that evolution (or its parts, anyhow) could be called “a designer” (exactly what you meant with your punctuation I am not sure) under some definitions, but it is a confusing use of the term in these “debates”.

DaveScot has never produced any sort of evidence that a designer (using the more usual definition) is responsible for any aspect of life, nor have any other IDists. And they pointedly resist the normal inferences from homologies and taxonomy which point (without any additional information, at least) to undirected derivation of life from a LUCA. For they are only unable to explain such evidences, preferring denial of the possibility of the process to which the evidence points, to actually producing any evidence for their mistaken leap to the conclusion of “design”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121686

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

Undermining all components of ID has already been done extensively. All the seminar could achieve is to undermine it for these particular participants, but it appears to have failed to do so, since no one has changed their mind and the IDers continue to make exactly the same arguments they always have.

Remind me again, to which of the participants did you talk about this? And why should a single seminar change how IDers approach these issues?
Are you not setting up unreasonable expectations based on incomplete data?

Comment #121687

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

This seminar addresses, in historical perspective, controversies about the cultural, philosophical, and scientific implications of evolutionary biology. Discussions focus upon questions about gods, free will, foundations for ethics, meaning in life, and life after death. Readings range from Charles Darwin to the present (see reading list, below).

In other words it a seminar to explore in a ‘historical perspective’

It matters whose ‘historical perspective’ is “explored”. What I would ask is, does there exist any real reason to read Paley and Dembski without pointing out how biased and unscientific their reasoning is?

And I’m not saying that McNeill did not point this out in the way that would be expected of the leader of most seminars, I’m saying that I don’t now have much cause to believe that he did. The whole censorship issue surrounding the forum associated with the seminar does not quell my doubts, since I do not think that there is anything wrong with calling idiocy by the term “idiocy”.

The latest challenge to the neo-darwinian theory of evolution has come from the “intelligent design movement,” spearheaded by the Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA. In this course, we will read extensively from authors on both sides of this debate, including Francisco Ayala, Michael Behe, Richard Dawkins, William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Ernst Mayr, and Michael Ruse. Our intent will be to sort out the various issues at play, and to come to clarity on how those issues can be integrated into the perspective of the natural sciences as a whole.

Why write, “The latest challenge to the neo-darwinian theory of evolution has come from the “intelligent design movement”? In what sense is the “neo-darwinian theory of evolution” challenged by ID? Sure, I recognize that in some ways (principally politically) it is a “challenge”, but scientifically there has been no challenge. In fact the major “basis” for ID is simply that it doesn’t agree with “naturalistic presumptions” (which in philosophy is typically understood to involve evidence-based standards, not belief in an ill-defined “nature”), that is, it doesn’t intend to adhere to science standards at all.

This may be why students come out of the seminar recognizing that ID isn’t science, but without changing their own views on ID. They may simply feel more secure in their utter rejection of scientific standards, thanks to the (apparent, from my poorly informed perspective of the class) use of Dembski, Dawkins, Ruse, and Johnson without first clearly pointing out how bankrupt and unscientific Dembski’s and Johnson’s ideas are.

Rather than sowing the seeds of doubt, what may have happened is that students feel more correct about shunning the demands of science.

And of course my concerns may be completely misplaced, since I know so little about the seminar. However, it has never been difficult to use post-modernist criticisms of science to bias non-science students against the “imperialistic” standards of science (nothing in fact shows science standards to be correct except for the ill-characterized practice of judicial and science types who have honed techniques and standards through inter-subjective processes of trial and error plus “elitist criticism”), nor would the inadequately educated readily understand how Dawkins’ world is so much more honest than is Dembski’s.

Which is why I fear that the proper criticisms that should be leveled against the IDists were not leveled, in order to appear to be “fair” to each side. As it happens, actual scientists are frequently not above “intemperate remarks” about out-and-out pseudoscience, on the order of Dembski and Velikovsky (sp?). Should a scientist (McNeill is one, I believe) or scientifically-competent students refrain from calling BS what it is, rank and utter dishonesty?

McNeill may have given up writing “the egregious Dembski” upon meeting him, however I have seen no evidence why I should give up that modifier, and worse, as well.

Again, though, I am only expressing the concerns I have from a rather far remove. If the appropriateness of scientific and judiciary standards of evidence was properly presented, the soft approach might work. Yet the evidence we have in hand seems as supportive of the notion that students learned not to be concerned about upholding scientific standards, as that “seeds of doubt” were sown.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121689

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

On Uncommon Descent Allen MacNeill makes the following observation…

And the previous seven entries all illustrate why it is absolutely useless to expect to have any kind of rational discussion at this website.

Comment by Allen_MacNeill — August 22, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

Well said Allen, whenever people raise uncomfortable issues, IDers are quick to bury their heads in the clouds.

Comment #121691

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

Remind me again, to which of the participants did you talk about this?

MacNeill said here that no one changed their minds. And the quote from the paper by participant J. Bruno demonstrates the same old same old thinking and the mining of absurd and refuted pseudo-scientific claims … anything that might be twisted into “giving hope to creationists everywhere that maybe ID can be the perfect fit”.

And why should a single seminar change how IDers approach these issues?

Nice burden shifting, but an accumulation of nothings is still nothing.

Comment #121692

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

Did you attend the seminar? Did you discuss with the participants? Or are you being ‘guided’ by the comments on the blog? Realize then that most of the blog participants were NOT seminar attendees.

Perhaps you are familiar with the ‘garbage in garbage out’ paradigm?

Yes, I program computers for a living.

I presume you are saying that the blog contents are entirely garbage including MacNeill’s comments on this thread. If this is true, then of course there is no documented whiff of the slightest “seed of doubt” available to any of us from any source. We’ll just have to take MacNeill’s word for it, while ignoring the censorship Maxson is quite clearly exerting on the blog itself. We must also be careful not to CONCLUDE anything from said censorship, since such conclusions would be based on garbage, right?

Maybe PvM can produce evidence that MacNeill’s claim of “seeds of doubt” is actually suggested somewhere? Claims contradicted by all available evidence are dubious.

So this series of questions is discouragingly familiar. HO CAN YOU KNOW that evolution happens? WERE YOU THERE? Hell, evidence schmevidence!

Remind me again, to which of the participants did you talk about this?

And on we go. Of course, attempts to get answers by actually ASKING one of the participants causes the questions to get vanished in time-honored creationist fashion. From which, once again, we aren’t supposed to conclude anything, because THAT would be “garbage in.”

Comment #121693

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 1:13 PM (e)

Well said Allen, whenever people raise uncomfortable issues, IDers are quick to bury their heads in the clouds.

Including, apparently, IDers taking MacNeill’s seminars in which uncomfortable issues are raised.

Comment #121702

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 1:29 PM (e)

I find it interesting that, rather than discuss the content of E. Broaddus’s paper, most of the commentators at this website feel fully justified in attacking both the motives of the students taking my seminar course and my motives in offering it, and in my enforcing some minimum standards of civility at the course website. That virtually none of the commentators has demonstrated any familiarity with the content of the students papers posted at the website (all but one of which vigorously support the “evolution side”) indicates to me that they have already made up their minds about what happened in the course and don’t want to be confused by the facts. This despite the fact that there is a detailed commentary online available to all at http://evolutionanddesign.blogsome.com/, currently comprising 24 posts (several by the students in the course) and over 1,500 comments from both sides of the issue, plus downloadable copies of most of the final research papers written by the students in the course. What can one conclude from this except:

• the commentators at Panda’s Thumb don’t give a damn about students or their ideas, regardless of whether they agree with them or not

• the commentators at Panda’s Thumb also don’t give a damn about arguments based on evidence (even when those arguments support their own position), but prefer to make definitive statements about courses in which they have not participated and research papers that they have not read

Almost anyone viewing the comments here would be justified in concluding that commentators at the Panda’s Thumb (i hesitate to refer to them as “evolutionary biologists”) are utterly uninterested in what a bright, hard-working, conscientious student is thinking vis-a-vis a topic of much discussion among evolutonary psychologists, and are instead only interested in getting back to playing “whack-a-mole.” This conclusion simply amplifies one that I came to reluctantly after a couple of weeks of moderating the Evolution and Design website: the majority of people on both sides of this issue are not interested in rational discussion nor logical arguments supported by evidence. They are only interested in polemics and character assasination for political reasons that are fundamentally unrelated to questions of scientific investigation or philosophical discussion.

Comment #121708

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 1:35 PM (e)

“We’ll just have to take MacNeill’s word for it, while ignoring the censorship Maxson is quite clearly exerting on the blog itself. We must also be careful not to CONCLUDE anything from said censorship…”

Clearly, the poster who wrote this paid no attention to my own description of how the course website was moderated, nor displayed any understanding of why a COURSE website should not be conducted in the same kind of drunk mudwrestling format that goes on here.

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

Comment #121712

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 1:39 PM (e)

I find it interesting that, rather than discuss the content of E. Broaddus’s paper

I did discuss it; as I said, there’s nothing original in it.

They are only interested in polemics and character assasination for political reasons that are fundamentally unrelated to questions of scientific investigation or philosophical discussion.

Blah blah hypocrisy blah blah.

Comment #121714

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

Well, obviously you should conclude that their views are correct. I’m sure they would welcome you to their side.

Comment #121715

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

Ah, now I get it: Popper’s Ghost is actually a troll: DaveScott, is that you?

Comment #121716

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Ah, now I get it: Popper’s Ghost is actually a troll: DaveScott, is that you?

You conclude that I’m a troll because you launch into a character-assassinating polemic and I call you on it? You conclude that I’m a troll because you ask an asinine rhetorical question and I call you on it? Well, better a troll than a hypocritical buffoon.

Comment #121717

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

That civility when scorn is called for is inappropriate? That civility is not a substitute for logical evidence-based thinking? That ID will stop presenting a threat in public schools if we are more polite about refuting it?

Or, alternatively, based you your comments here, that civility is the end goal of education, and that a student whose demeanor is proper and whose deportment is above reproach need THEREFORE receive no criticism for producing papers based on errors of both fact and logic. Sounds like form has won the game 9-0 over substance by default.

Comment #121720

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 1:54 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

You really don’t know? I hope you know what a non sequitur is.

If that’s the sort of argumentation that you used in your seminar, then it was very bad. I trust that you used rather better arguments, in fact, however we’re not reassured by your remarks here.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121726

Posted by James K. on August 22, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

“Nothing but scorn”? Maybe we’re supposed to conclude that you failed to read posts by PvM, Bob O’H, Glen Davison, and others who were quite polite.

Kudos to brilliant professor Allen MacNeill for discovering, in 2006, that some people on internet discussion boards are rude. I think we will all have to sit back and absorb this shocking idea.

As far as our bad attitudes, Allen, it’s true, some people here are too harsh. Spend a few years here watching your buddy Salvador lie, watching Dembski lie, watching Paul Nelson lie, and you might get an itchy trigger finger too.

Comment #121738

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

Yes, I didn’t bother to read the papers. The fact is that these issues have been dealt with fairly well using phenomenological approaches (not that they explain everything, but at least they don’t immediately leap to the notion of built-in tendencies prior to discussing how we come to know the world after being born), and a student paper discussing “modules” and “innate tendencies” does not appeal to me whatsoever.

However, I since went and looked at the linked paper, which only fuels my doubts about the course, or anyway, the results of the course. Here at the conclusion:

“However, I doubt there is a final answer to whether our detection of purpose in the natural world is a false positive.”

What kind of nonsense is that? I could say the same thing in a strictly Kantian sense, true, but within the practice of science, Kantian or otherwise, we almost always are able to come up with extremely good criteria for deciding whether or not our detection of “purpose” in the “natural world” is a false positive.

The fact is that we are fully capable of modeling the world according to empirically-known forces, and to measure what we view in the universe against those models. Finding “purpose” in “nature” is a colossal false positive.

No matter how teleologically humans think, especially when young, there are a bewildering number of alternatives, some of which have been hit upon even before modern science. Forms, accidents, necessity, Epicurean modeling, all can give us alternatives to “purpose”.

And anyway, adults have typically had to learn that many things occur which were not in fact “purposive”. The real lesson of children is that they are very good at inferring purpose in just about any insult, pain, or accident, and not just in thinking that “this is for that”. Adults learn that people cause injury, insult, and slights without there being any purpose toward these results existing, despite the fact that agency is involved. Most adults also learn that rocks usually fall due to circumstances, not the gods.

Even religious folk who believe that the end is the purpose of the gods, often can recognize that there is not purpose in every happenstance. This is true even of the ancients, although they typically had trouble dealing with classically random events (pure chance was often thought to be decided by the gods–but that may be less a matter of inferring purpose everywhere than it is filling in the gap where they had no explanation).

The upshot is that we have no excuse for inferring purpose (not as intelligent and knowledgeable adults, anyhow) where agency is not demonstrable. While it took a long time for humanity to recognize that an agent does not by itself cause feelings of love and desire within me, that “uncaused” sensing of pinpricks are caused by something other than witchcraft and/or spirits, and that in general we have no evidence for unknown agents operating within this world, the triumph of modern science is found in the fact that we did learn how to differentiate between “purposeful” phenomena and those that lack “purpose”.

Broaddus either didn’t learn that in your seminar–or anywhere else–or she is injecting philosophical issues into matters that are dealt with best by science (plus philosophy, sure). I do not see it as a favorable outcome, although I don’t know how she came into the the seminar.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121739

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

“Nothing but scorn”? Maybe we’re supposed to conclude that you failed to read posts by PvM, Bob O’H, Glen Davison, and others who were quite polite.

It’s MacNeill himself who wrote “I don’t think anyone changed their mind as a result of the seminar” and PvM wrote “whenever people raise uncomfortable issues, IDers are quick to bury their heads in the clouds”. I don’t know of anything said here more scornful of MacNeill’s students than that.

Comment #121744

Posted by James K. on August 22, 2006 2:40 PM (e)

Are you claiming, Popper, that PvM provided “nothing” but that line?

Comment #121746

Posted by James K. on August 22, 2006 2:41 PM (e)

Are you claiming, Popper, that PvM provided “nothing” but that line?

Comment #121749

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

Are you claiming, Popper, that PvM provided “nothing” but that line?

Not at all. You mentioned PvM, among others, as being “polite”, apparently in contrast to the purported scorn-heapers. I simply noted that PvM and MacNeill were themselves among the scorn-heapers (and in fact most of the other scorn heaped on MacNeill’s students was just an echo of MacNeill’s statement). I said nothing about PvM’s statements being exclusive to scorn-heaping; only MacNeill indulged in that sort of absurd hyperbole.

Comment #121753

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 3:07 PM (e)

the majority of people on both sides of this issue are not interested in rational discussion nor logical arguments supported by evidence.

Allen:

one, I did attempt to address some serious flaws i saw in the analysis used in this paper, and in the published one you cited.

two, you are completely naive to think that rational discourse will solve this issue.

You really need to take a reality check and spend some time speaking with some REAL YECers like Dave over in ATBC.

150 plus pages of attempts to rationally present biology, genetics, and geology to him and he thinks we are all just deluded. The only real value has been to some of the lurkers, all of whome de-lurked and flat out pointed out how we had it right and Dave was being irrational. Which affected Dave not in the slightest.

THAT’S the reality here. your course was a nice bit of exploration, but on the national stage, it means very little, to tell the truth.

Your analysis of the reaction here ignores the fact that many of the people commenting have been dealing directly with creationists for years, and as your own post mentioned, have seen very little in the way of evidentiary argument having any impact.

Both yourself and Pim are overestimating the value of rational debate.

As i said, ever try to rationally talk a junkie out of being a junkie?

It rarely ever works. You have to attack the psychological barriers that these people put up to maintain their delusions.

The quotes from the papers you have posted so far, along with the quotes of how you apparently “graded” mistakes like the crypsis one, suggest that you are more interested in coddling the belief structures that generated the mistakes, than breaking them down to correct it.

Moreover this:

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here.

is an especially troubling thing to hear from tenure track professor from Cornell.

Perhaps you are at that.

Perhaps we can discuss the issue of search imagery vs. “innate” imagery at some other time and place more appropriate.

ITMT, i see a tremendous amount of hedging on your part, combined with a tendency to promote factual errors and a very bizarre analysis of how posters here view this whole issue.

I really think you should take a step back from this issue, take a breath, and rethink.

We aren’t the ones who set this up to be a game of “whack a mole”, but try as we would, that does seem to be where it always ends up.

Comment #121759

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

For the record, I’ll stipulate that in my experience Salvador has been invariably polite in saying things known to be false, carefully misinterpreting good questions, or changing the subject. Most of all, his total silence when no good evasions or distortions present themselves are utterly free of the slightest abrasiveness - unless you are so think-skinned as to be peeved when Salvadore subsequently pops up elsewhere to repeat exactly what he would not answer you about. Politely, of course.

Comment #121762

Posted by Jeffrey K McKee on August 22, 2006 3:43 PM (e)

This is an interesting topic I broached a few years ago due to the historic impact of the Makapansgat pebble. See http://home.insight.rr.com/jkmckee/IntelligentDe…

Comment #121770

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 4:01 PM (e)

Indeed, Flint, I think Allen has quite a narrow view of what “civility” means.

If lying and rapid fire quote mining are aspects of civil discourse, Sal is the most civil person on the web.

Oh, that’s right, we’re supposed to ignore who said which lies.

silly me.

Comment #121775

Posted by ivy privy on August 22, 2006 4:13 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

Standards vary, I guess. I don’t consider a constant stream of falsehoods, misinterpreted references, “Gish gallop”, and snow jobs to be civility. I guess for some people it makes it better if they smile while they lie.

Comment #121779

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 4:35 PM (e)

For the record, I’ll state that in my experience Salvadore has been invariably polite while he says things known not to be true, carefully misinterprets questions put to him, changes the subject under pressure, or simply drops out of a discussion when no good ways to evade or distort questions present themselves.

Apparent MacNeill has not learned the lesson anyone who has spent years talking with creationists knows by heart: they lie.

Comment #121780

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 4:35 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost seems to be quote mining a bit right now. My comments were not directed at MacNeill’s students but rather at the IDers at Uncommon Descent.

Comment #121784

Posted by alienward on August 22, 2006 4:37 PM (e)

Allen MacNeill wrote:

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

Please do go to the other side. While you’re learning the ropes of writing civilized anti-scientific posts at Uncommon Descent, take a few hints from Sal, like this one:

“Every now and then, the Panda faithful need some food to help them sustain their delusions about naturalistic evolution.”

And let us know if you get off on the civility of the video in the post today titled “Darwinists need to recruit Paris Hilton to sell their product …” by Dembski. If you really are this clueless about the behavior of the ID crowd, go join them – now.

Comment #121798

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 4:41 PM (e)

Both yourself and Pim are overestimating the value of rational debate.

As i said, ever try to rationally talk a junkie out of being a junkie?

If I overestimate the power of scientific discourse on those studying to become a scientist then let that be so. I fully recognize that this is but one of the many prongs necessary.

Your flaw seems to be that you presume that I am considering rationale debate to be the only way to resolve the ID issue. On the contrary. But with the rise of IDEA clubs on campuses, it helps to evaluate the arguments in a rationale manner and in an environment free of detractors.

How many IDers are impressed by arguments that ID is nothing but Christianity in drags? It may make one feel good to make such statements, certainly I have been guilty of such remarks as well. But it is also very ineffective and only serves to strengthen the resolve of IDers.
If rationale arguments or debate are overrated then perhaps it’s time to close PT? Or does PT serve a purpose after all? Even if it is a relatively minor one?…

Comment #121835

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 4:59 PM (e)

If rationale arguments or debate are overrated then perhaps it’s time to close PT? Or does PT serve a purpose after all?

An uncomfortable question, to be sure. Some of the actual science presented here is interesting, and the news is nicely focused. And of course, there is that possibly-mythical fence-sitter who knows almost nothing about either science or religion, and will have a genuine epiphany to learn that evidence matters. But MacNeill himself admits that listening to polite mendacities with an attitude of respectful open-mindedness, and discreetly NOT pointing out that BS is BS, doesn’t work either. I suppose in his world, encouraging error politely is preferable to the drunk-mudwrestler rudeness of actually pointing out that it’s error!

Comment #121836

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 4:59 PM (e)

Allen is correct, Sal has been polite on Evolution and Design, of course he could vent his frustrations safely on Uncommon Descent. Nevertheless, politeness goes a long way, and the Evolution and Design blogsite enforced politeness with a vengeance, improving much of the communication. It did come with a cost though: Sal was allowed to get away with unsupported assertions, even though this behavior was quickly caught on to by most participants.
Seems to me that people like Flint and Popper’s Ghost are quick to judge based on little information. Imagine what kind of message this sends…

Comment #121845

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 5:11 PM (e)

I suppose in his world, encouraging error politely is preferable to the drunk-mudwrestler rudeness of actually pointing out that it’s error!

You surely think that these are the only two ways t deal with these issues?
Me thinks you are creating a whopper of a strawman. Perhaps it would help to first ask Allen what he really thinks and believes rather than jump to conclusions?

What if Allen believes that allowing students to discover their own errors on their own terms is far more efficient than telling them that they are wrong, wrong wrong…

Comment #121846

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 5:11 PM (e)

It looks like Allen really does know what IDers are like, and simply uses Salvador as an “example” of their side because he does not example their side. Frankly, shame on you Allen.

And note how really disingenuous Salvador’s characterization of DaveTard’s insults really are:

And the previous seven entries all illustrate why it is absolutely useless to expect to have any kind of rational discussion at this website.

Comment by Allen_MacNeill — August 22, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

Thank you, Allen, for showing us the error of our ways. Perhaps you would deign to lead us from this, our dark pit of ignorance and despair, into the bright peaks of knowledge and relevance, through further prognostications on your part. After all, to kvetch is plebeian and to lead is noble. I’m sure your venerable fencing master must have taught something similar to that.

Comment by DaveScot — August 22, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

Allen,

What DaveScot posted was not directed at you nor your very fine student, Elena. I had Pim’s name on it, and like Yankee Roger Clemens pitching in Fenway Park, one can expect a certain reaction when Pim’s name is mentioned here.

This is a weblog that is basically a variety show. There will be serious and then not so serious modes of discussion. So I encourage you to look for threads of interest to you, and simply change channels when a discussion is no longer appealing. I would hope you don’t leave the website entirely…..

I have tried to give you my take on the issue of Elena’s paper: here. I wrote a long response to you comment which I think may help your research.

I hope however, you realize there are times these threads between UD and PandasThumb are like the fan clubs of two opposing teams: like the Yankees versus the Red Sox, where the gang isn’t really in the mode of academic discussion, but following light-hearted comaraderie and tribal mentality….

I point that out to say, each thread will appeal to some more than others….

Salvador
PS
I personally am a Baltimore Orioles fan.

Comment by scordova — August 22, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

(This was stolen shamelessly from Keiths’s recent post on AtBC, Uncommonly Dense thread)

So DaveTard directly addresses Allen, and Cordova lies and says that it was not directed at him. I suppose we ought to praise Cordova for his calculated lies couched in flattering prose, but I’m not feeling quite up to it presently.

Two things about Cordova’s “politeness”, one alluded to above. IDists indeed try to be as polite as possible, knowing that their lies go down more smoothly that way. And the blatantly dishonest “discourse” that they provide infuriates honest investigators and anyone else who comes at this issue honestly, particularly since they “politely” twist the issues and “politely” defame David Thomas and the rest of us.

Secondly, anyone who has read a number of Cordova’s posts knows what a suck-up he is. He no doubt is particularly polite to MacNeill, knowing as he does that MacNeill holds some power in this area. He is less polite with others, though he typically utilizes “polite words” as he maligns and misrepresents others. It is appalling that Allen would praise the bootlicking manners of Cordova while Sal’s usual response to people who raise legitimate points is to dishonestly twist whatever they say.

Anyhow, he treated David Thomas in the usual manner on “Calling ID’s bluff, calling ID’s bluff”. Thomas reacted as expected, and some faulted Thomas for such an honest, and deserved, response. The distinction made was that supposedly Sal might not “intend” to lie, when in fact he has a responsibility to get the facts right when he is leveling the charges that he does. I’m copying my take on the matter here:

A distinction that I sometimes make is that between personal honesty and intellectual honesty. There may be a number of IDists who are personally honest, but I doubt that any are intellectually honest, i.e., consistent in their use of evidence and reasoning across the disciplines.

I wouldn’t personally call most of them liars most of the time, not without making the distinction between personal and intellectual honesty anyway (and then I’d typically call them liars without using that word). Dave Thomas was provoked by personal attack, however (which he pointed out full well), so that between the personal nature of Sal’s offense and the rather blatant intellectual dishonesty that constantly pervades his “evaluations”, I have no complaints about Thomas’ characterization at this juncture.

Here’s something from the past:

Has any intelligent designer ever been shown to produce designs that are like the forms and “machines” that we find in organisms?

I just thought I’d ask this simple and basic question, the sort of essential question that IDists should answer before we even begin to consider anything else that Sal or other IDists have to say

Glen D

[Sal]Yes, and even before we knew they existed in the cell:

1. Turing Machines
2. Analog to Digital Converters
3. Compilers
4. Operating Systems
5. Digital Error Correction
6. Spectral Analyzers
7. Feed Back Control Circuits
8. Rotary Motors
9. Aritificial Languages constructed with Backus-Normal Forms

etc.

[Glen again]So I guess the answer is “no”, you do not know of any intelligent designer that produces the forms and “machines” that we find in living organisms. However, you do not mind calling one thing by the name of another and basing a pseudoscience upon those words.

Not only did religious folk know the difference between machines and living organisms well even in ancient times, but there are virtually no scientists today who would confuse the two. IDists must confuse the two to make a pretense at science, but they can’t show a single organ that is anything like what known intelligent designers produce—the exhibit of this fact is above.

Now was Sal’s answer to my question anything like an honest response? Not to mention that he turned around and attacked me in a later post for restating the question in a different manner (probably careless of me, but the restatement didn’t change anything—my point was simply that he didn’t respond with anything at all “like” the forms and “machines” existing in organisms), when it had nothing to do with the fact that he didn’t answer my question in an intellectually honest manner in the least. In fact, in the second paragraph at the end of the block quote above, I simply reverted to the “like” language again, thus his charge of changing the question was another bit of dishonesty, advertent or not.

The reference for this particular exchange is the PT thread “Vacuity of ID: Comments on Irreducible Complexity”.

My question is, how many times are we to accept less than honest responses to honest questions, and false charges against ourselves, while constantly giving the benefit of the doubt to them because they are obviously not very knowledgeable and are psychologically committed to an intellectually dishonest set of beliefs? It may not be politic to call them liars most of the time, but I fail to see it to be uncalled-for on some occasions, particularly at the times when the IDists are making personal attacks.

The fact of the matter is that, although I do make the distinction between personal and intellectual dishonesty, the two are not entirely separate for most people (they may be in the very naive and ignorant), and are especially not separate among those who are trumpeting ID. IDist preachers are claiming to be above psychological effects, sanctimoniously claiming to be the ones who are correcting the “biased scientists”, and as such should be held personally liable for their intellectual dishonesty. This is true even when we are not calling them “liars” or words to that effect.

That their entire “science” fails to be honest in any way is at issue in these “discussions”.

Many times we must be more politic than to call them liars. There are times when just flat-out calling their lies “prevarications” is justified. This is likely one of those cases.

I think that MacNeill needs to reconsider his praise for smooth lies from Salvador.

I will add that I think that MacNeill has been attacked by some too harshly over the results of his course, when in fact the matter is no doubt quite complex and ought to be approached more cautiously. That said, he needs to respond without blanket charges against the commenters on this thread, for he can make enemies where he actually had none previously.

There is certainly nothing wrong with us questioning the outcome of, as well as some of the language used in describing, the course.

And as I noted, Elena’s conclusions are hardly in keeping with the spirit of science, which regularly and quite correctly does utilize proper (along the lines of judicial, as well as scientific) standards for identifying what is done through purpose and what is not. We have no reason to think that the student example signifies a true success, when in fact her conclusions sound like so much post-modernist/creationist claptrap.

Salvador’s “politeness” is designed to appeal to people to accept the idea that we do not have solid and reproducible means of distinguishing purposeful phenomena from non-purposeful phenomena. I propose that the lack of strong criticism of smooth lies by Cordova could well be causal in producing Elena’s conclusion, “However, I doubt there is a final answer to whether our detection of purpose in the natural world is a false positive.”

I do not claim that such a proposal is anything but tentative, though.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121848

Posted by Coin on August 22, 2006 5:12 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

Well, this may just be me, but looking at the same data here what I personally would conclude is that that Sal Cordova is buttering you up, whereas people here are more interested in being right than being polite. I would furthermore conclude that the price of participating in a forum where speech and participancy are unrestricted is that you are going to run into a few assholes like Popper’s Ghost when doing so.

Welcome to the Internet, sir.

Comment #121849

Posted by H. Humbert on August 22, 2006 5:15 PM (e)

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

This sounds remarkably similar to creationist-leaning “fence sitters” who claim that it’s always the evolutions who have “so much hate in their hearts,” and how any feeling person would naturally want to side with the creationists, who after all are simply asserting a role for their loving, caring god. (They’ve never read the Talk Origins Feedback section I guess.)

Personally, I don’t see that anyone “attacked” you, they simply questioned your methods based on several statements you’ve made. Please don’t choose to react to criticism the way Dembski does.

Comment #121851

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 5:16 PM (e)

The civil argument was settled long ago. That’s the scientific argument and that’s finished.

ID is not science, rather it’s a supernatural notion.
There is no ID research.
There are no ID researchers.
There is no ID theory.
There is no ID hypothesis.
There is only a meaningless statement: some things look designed. Big deal.
ID is not even a blip on the biology radar scope of any university on the Planet.

As a political entity, however, that’s another story. The politics of ID is alive and well. I don’t think one should expect civil arguments in the political arena. Quite the contrary, the Disco Institute and all of the ID proponents have demonstrated over and over a propensity to use any means possible to “win” including lying, misleading and plain old BS-ing.

As for Sal, in particular, he’s been checkmated in every game he’s entered and does he leave with a “By, Jove, old man, you got me there! Jolly good move!” No. Sal leaves with a nasty invective along the lines of “%#$* you and the horse you rode in on,” embarrassing hanging participle and all. Sal gets no respect because he’s intellectually dishonest, but that could be said about Behe, Dembski, Wells, Witt, Luskin and the whole ID rats nest.

But, as a political force ID must be reckoned with. It must be countered and that takes time and effort by people who would rather be doing other things.

Here at the Panda’s Thumb both arguments are played out over and over, and usually mixed: science and politics. If you want civil, then check out all those ID articles in Science and Nature.

Oh…

Comment #121852

Posted by H. Humbert on August 22, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

Lynn,

And yet a significant percentage of them will conclude the final portion of their assignment with a statement like, “Though Dr. Miller won the debate, I still believe Dr. Johnson.”

Yes, but ALL of them? If you couldn’t even change a single mind, would you not begin to question your approach?

Comment #121853

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 22, 2006 5:19 PM (e)

Oh, and in case anyone wants to claim that Allen was not using the exception, Cordova, to example the other side, let me repeat what he wrote:

It’s people like you folks that make me wonder if I’m really on the right side, here. When Sal Cordova treats me and my students with civility and you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?

If Cordova’s behavior makes him wonder if he’s on the right side, then surely this implies that Cordova is much like the rest of the IDiots. When he knows very well that he is not.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #121854

Posted by H. Humbert on August 22, 2006 5:27 PM (e)

And, and “you folks heap nothing but scorn on them, what am I (and they) supposed to conclude?”

Hopefully you would conclude that ID is worthy of scorn.

Comment #121855

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 5:29 PM (e)

Your flaw seems to be that you presume that I am considering rationale debate to be the only way to resolve the ID issue.

It depends on the context. This thread is ABOUT the effect of rational discouse on influence, so yes, I narrowed the scope here. You presume that I am judging you wholly based on comments in this thread. I am entirely judging the efficacy of rational discourse on changing the minds of creobots… and so far what we have seen posted does not support this method.

as to those “on the fence”, of course it has impact, and I would never deny that it does. In that sense, rational debate will always have merit, but all the evidence in this thread, and the three years I’ve spent watching creobots ‘debate” here on the ‘Thumb and elsewhere, combined with decades of personal experience, all point to rational discourse being a flop for converting the unconvertable.

How many IDers are impressed by arguments that ID is nothing but Christianity in drags?

none, but again, the same arguments are posted for fence-sitters, not for the fundies.

It may make one feel good to make such statements, certainly I have been guilty of such remarks as well.

got nothing to do with strategy.

But it is also very ineffective and only serves to strengthen the resolve of IDers.

you’re missing the point:

It doesn’t matter what is said, Creobots by their very nature will take anything you say and project onto it anyways. that’s the nature of the disease.

If rationale arguments or debate are overrated then perhaps it’s time to close PT? Or does PT serve a purpose after all? Even if it is a relatively minor one?

sheer histrionics. Is there a real point in there somewhere?

as i said, PT is for the fencesitters, not for the creobots.

Comment #121856

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

What if Allen believes that allowing students to discover their own errors on their own terms is far more efficient than telling them that they are wrong, wrong wrong…

and when they don’t “discover their own errors”?

we simply let them slide, right?

seems an odd way to teach.

maybe you coud detail what you mean here a bit more clearly.

Comment #121859

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

My comments were not directed at MacNeill’s students but rather at the IDers at Uncommon Descent.

The whole point of my mentioning your quote was that you referred to “IDers” without qualification, and that the notion that those IDers who are MacNeill’s students are different is unsubstantiated, ad hoc, special pleading, and generally intellectually dishonest. There’s no reason to think that there is any significant difference from the breed in MacNeill’s class and the breed at UD.

Comment #121860

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

How many IDers are impressed by arguments that ID is nothing but Christianity in drags?

by the way, you should correct that statement to what it really is supposed to be:

ID is CREATIONISM in drag.

NOT Xianity as a whole.

I duly hope you didn’t intend to write it the way you did.

Comment #121863

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 5:42 PM (e)

There’s no reason to think that there is any significant difference from the breed in MacNeill’s class and the breed at UD.

except these are supposedly currently students at Cornell, yes?

Or was the class open to any participant, regardless of whether they were actually enrolled at Cornell or not?

aside from that technicality, yeah, there is no reason to apriori assume that there are any qualitative differences in a Cornell IDer vs. any other.

Comment #121864

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 5:42 PM (e)

Or does PT serve a purpose after all?

Well, yes:

“The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

That really wasn’t very hard.

Comment #121865

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 5:46 PM (e)

check the trackback below:

On Panda’s Thumb Pim Van Meurs preaches confidently to the choir that we are all biased in that we see faces in natural objects created by chance.

oops.

unlike those on UD, who actually value groupthink, I guess we don’t play as nice over here.

They’re wrong again. go figure.

Comment #121867

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 5:49 PM (e)

politeness goes a long way

The only reason “politeness” came up is because MacNeill used it as a club to bludgeon his critics in his hypocritical character-assassinating polemic.

Seems to me that people like Flint and Popper’s Ghost are quick to judge based on little information

Seems to me that this is a self-serving ad hominem.

Comment #121871

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

a few assholes like Popper’s Ghost

Well, Coin, I’ve always been respectful toward you and have taken your comments seriously – they are some of the best thought-out that I see on this board – and I think this epithet is beneath you. I am sharply critical of dishonesty and bad faith, regardless of its source, and that pisses a lot of people off, but I hadn’t expected you to be among them.

Comment #121874

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 22, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

Seems to me that people like Flint and Popper’s Ghost are quick to judge based on little information…

Seems to me that this is a self-serving ad hominem.

Indeed. Prof. McNeill made what looked to us like blatant contradictions. He was called on it, in a direct but still civil manner. Why lash out?

Popper’s Ghost is only abrasive when he feels like he needs to repeat himself; methinks he was on the $$ with the commentary.

Comment #121875

Posted by David B. Benson on August 22, 2006 6:03 PM (e)

What an interesting thread! Better, in all respects, than most. I am a bit disappointed that Allen MacNeill did not choose language more in keeping with studies in neuroscience and known brain function specializations, and so help direct the student. Ah well, it can always be rewritten.

But this is not just pattern recognition, as one commenter questioned. In Computer Science the appropriate paradigm is denoted by

Pattern –> Action

where each classification is attached to some appropriate action. I think this is approximately what Allen and his student were considering.

Comment #121878

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:14 PM (e)

except these are supposedly currently students at Cornell, yes?

Is that a relevant difference? Dembski’s got four graduate degrees, right? Cordova is at Cornell, DaveTard has some degree, yes? Many of the IDers we are so familiar with have advanced educations and have been exposed evolutionary arguments over and over, with the same effect as they seem to have had on MacNeill’s students. PvM wrote “whenever people raise uncomfortable issues, IDers are quick to bury their heads in the clouds” – in what sense is that not true of the IDers in MacNeill’s class, or any other IDer? It’s no good for PvM to complain about “quote mining” and not explain why the quote doesn’t apply as generally as he stated it, and that’s the very point at issue. Frankly I didn’t expect the outcome to be as bad as no one changing their mind.

Oh, I should have kept reading …

aside from that technicality, yeah, there is no reason to apriori assume that there are any qualitative differences in a Cornell IDer vs. any other.

Not only a priori, but given what we now know of them, including MacNeill’s statement that they haven’t changed their minds.

Comment #121879

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 6:14 PM (e)

Well, this may just be me, but looking at the same data here what I personally would conclude is that that Sal Cordova is buttering you up, whereas people here are more interested in being right than being polite. I would furthermore conclude that the price of participating in a forum where speech and participancy are unrestricted is that you are going to run into a few assholes like Popper’s Ghost when doing so.

Being right need not be very effective if it results in people ignoring you.

Comment #121883

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:19 PM (e)

He was called on it, in a direct but still civil manner.

I’ll certainly admit to being incivil, but my incivility was a direct response to Allen MacNeill’s highly incivil comments directed at everyone at PT in http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/our_…

Comment #121885

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:22 PM (e)

Being right need not be very effective if it results in people ignoring you.

It’s also not very effective to engage in trite quips that ignore numerous substantive responses.

Comment #121886

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 6:26 PM (e)

While you may believe (correctly imho) that ID is not about science, discussions with IDEAists have indicated to me that they are indeed convinced that there is good science to be had.

They sure do a good job of hiding it …

No, the “science” in ID is just more politicking — it is, after all, illegal to teach the religious opinions that IDers want to have taught in schools. But it’s not illegal to teach ‘science’. Hence, creation “science”, which then morphed into design “theory”.

So voila, ID becomes “science”.

Were it not illegal to teach religious opinions in schools, the IDers would have no need at all to make any scientific claims whatsoever.

And I suspect they would prefer it that way.

Comment #121887

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 6:30 PM (e)

Exposing in a ‘hands on’ seminar how ID fails to be relevant scientifically is an important step in undermining this component of ID.

And how many students changed their minds in the face of th is scientific discussion, again …. . ?

As noted, IDers are not won to ID because of science. And they won’t be won away from it because of science, either.

In the past 25 years, I’ve seen maybe 6 or 7 creationist/IDers change their minds and accept evolution. In every case — every single one — it was undermining their belief in Biblical literalism (allowing them to conclude that they could keep their Bible and still accept science) that produced that change, not any scientific arguments against ID/creationism.

Comment #121889

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 6:32 PM (e)

And yet a significant percentage of them will conclude the final portion of their assignment with a statement like, “Though Dr. Miller won the debate, I still believe Dr. Johnson.”

It makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy that the student was able to set aside prior bias long enough to come to the conclusion that Johnson was full of BS, but sad that it apparently made no impact on the student’s understanding of the underlying issue.

**sigh**

As the old saying goes:

“A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.”

Comment #121890

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

It might have been useful if MacNeill had responded to my question in my initial post (and H. Humbert posed pretty much the same question at virtually same time): “Since these statements are direct contradictions to fundamental ID dogma, how can it be that there was “strong consensus” and yet no one changed their mind?”

Comment #121894

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:38 PM (e)

In the past 25 years, I’ve seen maybe 6 or 7 creationist/IDers change their minds and accept evolution. In every case —- every single one —- it was undermining their belief in Biblical literalism …

But Allen MacNeill says

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum) …

Y’see, ID doesn’t have anything to do with religion …

Comment #121901

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

Is that a relevant difference?

no, it was sarcasm.

sorry; i guess i should have made it a bit more obvious. everyone stopped using ironymeters around here ages ago. None of us could afford to replace them on a regular basis.

;)

Comment #121902

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

P.S. I can’t remember where I got that MacNeill quote from, so if the “…” mentions religion, I apologize. It’s not my intent to use quotes misleadingly.

Comment #121907

Posted by Coin on August 22, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Being right need not be very effective if it results in people ignoring you.

That depends. Effective for what?

Popper's Ghost wrote:

Well, Coin, I’ve always been respectful toward you and have taken your comments seriously

This is quite true, and I sincerely thank you for it. But there are a number of other people to whom you are generally, well, an asshole.

*Shrug*

Comment #121908

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 6:55 PM (e)

oh, and btw popper:

never be ashamed to be an *sshole.

most of us here can claim to be such on a regular basis.

I would never take offense at being called one myself.

In fact, isn’t this kind of the subplot to this very thread?

heck, being called an honest asshole should be considered a compliment based on the topic of discussion.

Comment #121911

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 6:59 PM (e)

Way back on April 18, 2006, I said, regarding the then-upcoming course:

Most of them, like our friend here, sincerely think they can solve the whole problem just by educating the poor rubes.

They’re in for a very rude surprise.

The next day, I wrote:

From some of the conversation here about this particular class, though, it appears as if some folks have the incredibly naive idea that they can engage the **IDers themselves** in some science education, whereupon they will all slap themselves in the forehead, exclaim “Lo!! I’ve been wrong these many years!!” and give up ID and dedicate their lives to science ever after.

I, uh, wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.

Well, was I right …. ? How many students did you say changed their minds through this course, again … ?

Comment #121916

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

don’t pat yourself on the back unless you brought enough hands for the whole class, Lenny.

Comment #121920

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 22, 2006 7:11 PM (e)

I have appreciated Pim’s many posts here and his usually-stalwart exposure and critique of ID hogwash.

I also appreciate that Dr. MacNeill was sincere in his efforts to build some intellectual bridges between the opposing camps of IDiots and evolutionary-science supporters.

I’m still waiting to see either Pim or Dr. MacNeill candidly address whether Dr. MacNeill’s heuristic experiment paid any substantial dividends.

Instead, each seems to be determined to redirect the discussion toward the entirely-peripheral issue of whether all the particpants in the thread have been equally civil and polite in examining what has been learned–if anything–from Dr. MacNeill’s efforts.

Most of us were here, months ago, when Dr. MacNeill was rather frankly warned that his seminar might well fail to accomplish some or all of the goals that he appeared to be hoping for (and, while I’ve been typing this, I see Lenny’s come and gone to make sure no one’s forgotten that fact). Fine, Dr. MacNeill gave it the old Cornell try. Fine, he got people of strongly opposing viewpoints to sit down in the same room, read a selection of material prepared by the leading lights of both sides, and discuss and debate the viewpoints more politely than they might have in some other forum.

It sounds like Dr. MacNeill is of the view that some positives did emerge from this exercise, though frankly I’m with those here who are having a difficult time discerning what, if anything, those positives are, exactly.

I haven’t previously joined in the discussion. I haven’t been impolite to anybody (yet) on this thread. Let me ask Pim and Dr. MacNeill to refocus themselves, as specifically as possible, on what exactly they believe has been accomplished.

In doing so, please reply to the substantive critiques that have been expressed above, whether or not they were “embedded” in the comments of “civil” or less-than-“civil” commenters.

It was Dr. MacNeill who brought his student’s paper here, presumably at least in part as a response to the cautions he received here when he announced this project. Now let’s see him civilly defend the critiques of the paper and of his experiment–or provide the further information that some have felt it was fair to first request–rather than lecture us on the side-topic of civility in internet discourse.

I should think that would be enough to be getting on with, if Pim and Dr. MacNeill are indeed of the view that something of significance WAS accomplished here.

Comment #121922

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

In Comment #121890 Popper’s ghost wrote:

“It might have been useful if MacNeill had responded to my question in my initial post..: “Since these statements are direct contradictions to fundamental ID dogma, how can it be that there was “strong consensus” and yet no one changed their mind?”

Because all but two of the registered students in the seminar came into it with pretty strong opinions already in favor of evolution and opposed to intelligent design (this is Cornell, after all). None of these students changed their minds and came to accept ID, despite spending six weeks reading Behe, Dembski, Johnson, etc. and listening to Hannah’s impassioned defenses of Dembski’s mathematical speculations. Most of them were non-scientists, however, and they did come to understand and appreciate the value of reasoned argument and support via evidence for their positions, not to mention becoming much better informed about ID (and therefore better able to argue against it).

The remaining two students came into the class as committed IDers (Hannah and Rabia were not registered students, BTW; they were “invited guests” - invited by me). These two students were considerably less convinced of the ID position at the end of the course than they were when they came in, shifting from a blanket rejection of all of evolutionary theory to accepting most of evolutionary theory while maintaining a “wait and see” attitude about the origin of life/genetic code/selected biochemical pathways. One of these two also came to accept common descent (primarily because it became clear that Behe does so as well, and therefore a “good IDer” can accept common descent without giving up ID). The other (a self-described YEC) shifted very significantly over the summer, coming to accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution, and “having an open mind” about macroevolution. Both of these two IDers came into the course pretty strongly opposed to evolution and supportive of ID, but by the end (and as a result of the process by which we analyzed the various readings assigned for the course) they came to appreciate and apply the technique of critical analysis and argumentation with supportive evidence.

To me, that makes the course very much worthwhile. So much so, in fact, that I’m repeating it as a special section in my good friend and colleague Will Provine’s evolution course this fall (Will is wildly in favor of the idea, BTW). Should make life even more interesting between now and the winter solstice.

Comment #121927

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 7:31 PM (e)

Macroevolution?

Are you nuts?

It’s the same thing. Microevolution, macroevolution. It’s the same mechanism. It’s the same thing.

Only creationists make a distinction.

Geeze Louise! Has everybody gone insane?

Comment #121928

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 7:33 PM (e)

Now, as to the criticism that the concepts in Broaddus’s paper are neither new nor original, could the poster please provide references as to where these ideas have been published? I have been working on the idea of “agency detection” in evolutionary psychology for several years, and have yet to run across a published paper suggesting that humans (or any other animal, for that matter) have an adapted tendency to infer “agency” (i.e. intentionality) in natural objects and processes (beyond merely suggesting that such an ability might exist an have adaptive value). Pascal Boyer, Scott Atran, and Dan Sperber have all published on the subject of “agency detection” as it relates to the capacity for religious experience, but none of them have done an in-depth analysis of the ecological context within which “agency detection” can be adaptive (beyond vague references to threats from predators, etc.) In my most recent paper (“The capacity for religious experience is an evolutionary adaptation for warfare”, Evolution & Cognition, Vol. 1 No. 10, pp. 43-60), I have proposed that the most likely such ecological context is intraspecific competition, especially warfare.

Indeed, I believe it’s an interesting hypothesis, worthy of empirical investigation, to determine:
• whether humans (and perhaps other animals) have a neurological/sensory “agency detector”;
• if so, what specific environmental cues are most likely to qualify as the “sign stimuli” for such a detector;
• what the most likely EEA for the evolution of such a detector might be, using primarily archaeological and comparative ethology;
• what the sensitivity of such a detector might be, and especially if it might be prone to producing false positives;
• if so, what kinds of sensory experiences are most likely to produce such false positives; and
• if such sensory experiences can be manipulated by the leaders of human dominance hierarchies to produce irrational adherence to a political program that has potentially strongly negative implications for those individuals being so manipulated.

But, of course, it certainly might be much more interesting to continue playing “whack-a-mole”…

Comment #121929

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 22, 2006 7:33 PM (e)

Dr. MacNeill:

These two students were considerably less convinced of the ID position at the end of the course than they were when they came in, shifting from a blanket rejection of all of evolutionary theory to accepting most of evolutionary theory while maintaining a “wait and see” attitude about the origin of life/genetic code/selected biochemical pathways. One of these two also came to accept common descent (primarily because it became clear that Behe does so as well, and therefore a “good IDer” can accept common descent without giving up ID). The other (a self-described YEC) shifted very significantly over the summer, coming to accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution, and “having an open mind” about macroevolution.

This all sounds good, superficially, though perhaps when carefully parsed, the position changes sound rather minimal.

Questions remain, however. While I suppose I’m willing to take your word for all this–you were the professor, and you were there and I certainly wasn’t–I’m still going to ask whether there is any evidence for your statements beyond your “informed” impressions.

In short, has either of your pro-ID students made statements, equivalent to those you’ve now made on their behalves, on the blog or elsewhere, that you are in a position to share?

Comment #121930

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 7:36 PM (e)

“…has either of your pro-ID students made statements, equivalent to those you’ve now made on their behalves, on the blog or elsewhere, that you are in a position to share?”

Nope. The only students in the course who posted or commented on the blog were already staunch evolution supporters (i.e. members of the overwhelming majority in the seminar).

Comment #121932

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 7:38 PM (e)

No, no, no!

Microevolution and macroevolution are the same thing. Allen, if you disagree with this statement then please provide an alternative explanation and I will support you for your Nobel Prize.

Same thing, same thing.

Anybody, except Sal, bonk me if I’m wrong.

As Susan said, stop the madness!

Comment #121938

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 7:49 PM (e)

I should think that would be enough to be getting on with, if Pim and Dr. MacNeill are indeed of the view that something of significance WAS accomplished here.

I think the significance of this ‘experiment’ or seminar was that IDers were exposed to viewpoints which showed how teleology in nature is expected (Ayala, Ruse etc) and how analogy is a very weak argument. In other words, how science already deals with concepts of ‘design’ and ‘teleology’ and how ID refuses to address these topics.
The discussion of Dembski’s CSI showed that Dembski’s definition of design as the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity is based on the assumption that the set is non-empty and on the assumption that we can successfully eliminate any and all chance and regularity scenarios. Furthermore, the students reached the conclusion that even if Dembski’s arguments were right, it lacks empirical relevance as any application to a non trivial problem seems impossible.
And finally, I believe that various students came to appreciate the conflations of terminology such as information, design, complexity by ID. They do not really mean what one expect them to mean.

I cannot speak for Allen or the participants of this class as I only participated in the blog discussions. I have found Allen’s approach quite effective when he shows how ID concepts are hardly new to science. Design, analogy, teleology… In other words, Allen managed to undermine much of the foundational relevance of ID by not only showing that ID is vacuous but also how science does deal with these issues all the time, without the need to let our ignorance resort to conclusion not warranted by the evidence.
Perhaps I am naive in my thinking here but I have found Allen’s approach to be quite ingenious (sp).

Comment #121941

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 7:52 PM (e)

Anybody, except Sal, bonk me if I’m wrong.

actually, there is a debate about this very issue over on pharyngula as we speak.

check out the “50 myths” thread:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/what_…

there has been some good arguments made for making the distinction, though in my mind these are mostly theoretical.

PZ put up some articles where the distinctions are recently drawn out by researchers at the bottom of that thread.

I tend to agree with your take, but I’m beginning to think I’m being a bit “Old School” about it. Moreover, I’m a field biologist and many of the distinctions relate to theoretical issues that I have not had need to consider.

I’m going to re-read the references PZ provided specifically wrt to the efficacy of using seperate terminology and see if it really does have practical value.

You might want to gander at them as well.

I’d also like to discuss the particulars of the paper Allen cited regarding “innate releasing mechanisms”, but I no longer think it an appropriate topic for this particular thread.

Allen - if you could suggest a good place to discuss this issue, or I could start a new thread over on ATBC?

likely very few other than myself would be interested, but if you have the time, I do find some issues of concern I would like to discuss with you.

no rush; I know you’re probably busy with the start of the academic year. just keep it in mind and if you get time, let me know either here or via email:

fisheyephotosAThotmailDOTcom

as to the rest, I think all relevant points have been made, but I would ask one more question:

Did the ID supporters you invited ever publically admit the vacuousness of behe and dembski’s arguments?

Comment #121942

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2006 7:54 PM (e)

Perhaps I am naive in my thinking here but I have found Allen’s approach to be quite ingenious

And, it would appear, quite ineffective.

No surprise there, however. ID simply isn’t about science. It doesn’t matter to IDers whether anything they say is “scientifically vacuous” or not. After all, they OPPOSE science and “materialism”. They don’t care WHAT science thinks about them. Lectures or no lectures.

It’s just a waste of effort.

Comment #121944

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 7:59 PM (e)

But there are a number of other people to whom you are generally, well, an asshole.

I employ a tit-for-tat strategy.

Comment #121945

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 22, 2006 8:00 PM (e)

“It’s the same thing. Microevolution, macroevolution. It’s the same mechanism. It’s the same thing. Only creationists make a distinction.”

Creationists like Doug Futuyma, right?

From Futuyma, D. (2005) Evolution Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, Ch. 21 “Macroevolution: Evolution Above the Species Level”, pp. 501-521:

“Much of the modern study of macroevolution stems from themes and principles developed by the paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson…, who focused on rates and directions of evolution perceived in the fossil record, and Bernhard Rensch…, a zoologist who inferred patterns of evolution form comparative morphology. Contemporary macroevolutionary studies draw on the fossil record, on phylogenetic patterns of evolutionary change, on evolutionary developmental biology, and on our understanding of genetic and ecological processes.”

Creationists like Ernst Mayr, right?

From Mayr, E. (2001) What Evolution Is Basic Books, New York, NY, Ch. 10 “Macroevolution”, pp. 187-230:

“Macroevolution is an autonomous field of evolutionary study. The earlier advances in our understanding of this field were made by paleontologists and systematists. But in recent years molecular biology has made the most important contributions to the understanding of macroevolutionary change, and it continues to make astoniching advances.”

Creationists like Mark Ridley, right?

From Ridley, M. (2004) Evolution, 3rd ed Blackwell, Oxford, UK, Part 5 “Macroevolution, Chs. 18-23, pp. 550:

[Header for section 18.8]: “Macroevolution may or may not be an extrapolated form of microevolution.”

Comment #121946

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

Only creationists make a distinction.

This simply isn’t true; Stephen Jay Gould, for instance, considered the distinction to be significant. He may well have been wrong, but he wasn’t a creationist.

Comment #121947

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

These two students were considerably less convinced of the ID position at the end of the course than they were when they came in, shifting from a blanket rejection of all of evolutionary theory to accepting most of evolutionary theory while maintaining a “wait and see” attitude about the origin of life/genetic code/selected biochemical pathways.

Ah, so, they did change their minds, and your original statement was poorly formulated and didn’t accurately represent the facts. Like I said, it would have been helpful if you had answered … and it is. Thanks. (You might want to work on your mental models – changing one’s mind does not require that, say, one switch from being a promoter of one view to being a promoter of an opposed view.)

Comment #121948

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 8:13 PM (e)

Allen:

There IS a distinction between how evolutionary biologists and creationist have utilized the seperation of those terms, as you well know.

what macroevolution means in the terms Mayers describes are NOT what macroevolution means when a creationist typically uses the term. It causes confusion in a lot of people.

debate over the efficacy of the seperation of terms within the scientific community literally has NOTHING to do with what is going on in creationist circles.

conflating the two only confuses the issue.

It’s very possible that Bill was referring to the artifical construct of “kind” invented by the creobots, instead of any debate within the scientific community itself.

I could be wrong, hence the reason i pointed him to a recent thread where the issue is discussed from both angles.

I’d make a joke here that your response to Bill was entirely uncivil, but that would be droll.

Comment #121949

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 8:13 PM (e)

No, sorry, Allen, your appeal to authority doesn’t wash with me.

Microevolution and Macroevolution are the same thing, viewed over different timescales. Why is that so difficult for you?

Same mechanism. Mutation, natural selection.

Microevolution and macroevolution do not have two different mechanisms and if you, Allen, propose otherwise then demonstrate your theory.

It’s the same thing right across the line. Same. Same. Same. No difference.

Comment #121950

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:17 PM (e)

P.S. This

That virtually none of the commentators has demonstrated any familiarity with the content of the students papers posted at the website (all but one of which vigorously support the “evolution side”) indicates to me that they have already made up their minds about what happened in the course and don’t want to be confused by the facts. This despite the fact that there is a detailed commentary online available to all at http://evolutionanddesign.blogsome.com/, currently comprising 24 posts (several by the students in the course) and over 1,500 comments from both sides of the issue, plus downloadable copies of most of the final research papers written by the students in the course.

is an unreasonable demand. A simple accurate summary of the outcome of this experiment should be sufficient for casual readers. Such a summary could lead interested parties to investigate further. But a claim that no one changed their mind seems almost designed to reinforce the prejudices of PT readers.

Comment #121951

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:22 PM (e)

But, of course, it certainly might be much more interesting to continue playing “whack-a-mole”…

Do you understand the concept of hypocrisy? Why go out of your way to bait people unless you want to fight?

Comment #121953

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 8:25 PM (e)

Ok, never mind I guess Bill chose to ignore the substance of all 3 posts after his last.

Bill:

I do recommend you take a gander at that thread over on pharyngula i mentioned.

or at least read the post I just made.

or take a gander at the arguments made in Futuyma or Mayer.

you don’t have to agree with them, but the debate within the scientific community has little to do with quantitative differences. There are well argued reasons for the distinction that are qualitative in nature.

Allen is not making an argument from authority, but rather a snide attempt at insulting your knowledge of evolutionary theory in general.

The references he posted are directly on point wrt the the issue of the separation of terms within the scientific community, and it has nothing to do with the way creationists have constructed their own artifical separation.

We had this argument many times when I was a grad student at Berkeley, and at the time, most of us agreed that there was little efficacy to separating the terms, but that was a long time ago, and while at the time most of us were considering the separation as utilized by Gould, much has happened since.

read the references and then decide.

Comment #121955

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 8:33 PM (e)

Seems that Popper’s Ghost indeed jumped to conclusions before asking for clarifications.

Somehow I find it ironic how various PT participants start to sound more and more like ID proponents…

Comment #121956

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:36 PM (e)

I have been working on the idea of “agency detection” in evolutionary psychology for several years, and have yet to run across a published paper suggesting that humans (or any other animal, for that matter) have an adapted tendency to infer “agency” (i.e. intentionality) in natural objects and processes (beyond merely suggesting that such an ability might exist an have adaptive value).

I’m having trouble seeing the distinction; if “research findings also lend support to the theory that teleology is our automatically preferred framework with which to view the world”, as the author writes (with cited research), and “There is also evidence for the existence of an innate cognitive purpose-detector which would be the root cause of our teleological viewpoint” (with cited research), it doesn’t seem like much of a leap to the hypothesis that this tendency and this detector are adaptative. But I’ll admit that I may be missing something and that I may have too quickly dismissed her paper as a review rather than a novelty.

Comment #121957

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:41 PM (e)

Seems that Popper’s Ghost indeed jumped to conclusions before asking for clarifications.

It seems that you’re intent on being an ass; I did ask for a clarification. But I also assumed that what MacNeill wrote was somewhere in the vicinity of reality. I repeated, on numerous occasions, his statement that no one had changed their mind, and you and he had ample opportunity to clarify that that wasn’t actually true and thus the conclusions from that statement were invalid.

Comment #121958

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 8:42 PM (e)

OK, Sir TJ, Oh, wise one.

I’ll check the references.

But, let me say that I don’t see why there should be a different mechanism between changes within a species and the evoloution of a new species. I would think that the mechanism would be the same, generatinon to generation, but if viewed over a long time the original population would be a different species than the current population.

I don’t see how it’s not the same mechanism microscopic to macroscopic. However, I’ll follow your trail and read more on the subject.

However, at this point, Oh Master, you have not provided any insight to resolve my dilemma. I do have a considerable biology background, and chemistry, and I think you are shortchanging me here.

In any case, old bud, I’ll chase down the threads and see where they lead.

Meanwhile, insight from others?

Comment #121959

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 8:44 PM (e)

Funny how Allen supports his claims with references to scientific literature and is now accused of appeal to authority. Perhaps the micro versus macro is not as black and white as one expected it to be?

Comment #121960

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

Allen is not making an argument from authority

Well, it was an argument from appropriate authority. Doc Bill was rather silly and arrogant to dismiss it, as if he were an authority … or “Anybody, except Sal”, as if arbitrary PT posters were more reliable than Futuyma, Mayr, and Ridley.

Comment #121962

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 8:53 PM (e)

But, let me say that I don’t see why there should be a different mechanism between changes within a species and the evoloution of a new species. I would think that the mechanism would be the same, generatinon to generation, but if viewed over a long time the original population would be a different species than the current population.

there isn’t.

but that’s not the point, what you are describing more closely resembles the creos version of macro vs. micro evolution.

the distinction within the scientific community has more to do with which specific aspects of evolution are being addressed, and ends up looking like the endless arguments betweent the paleontologists and zoologists.

typically it boils down to issues touched on in the passages quoted by Allen:

“focused on rates and directions of evolution perceived in the fossil record”

typically refers to “macroevolution”

while changes in allele frequency within a population say, typically refers to “microevolution”.

yes, there is overlap, and yes there is still room for debate. however, the issue has nothing to do with the “species vs. Kinds” issues the creobots always bring up.

It’s not the first time the creobots have coopted scientific terminology and twisted it beyond recognition, and the issue within even zoology is an obscure one and seldom discussed based on my experience.

It’s no wonder it’s so confusing.

Comment #121965

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 9:04 PM (e)

It’s no wonder it’s so confusing.

The notion of multiple explanations for the same phenomenon at different levels of description seems to be something that people have a very hard time grasping, for some reason. I previously mentioned Dennett’s three stances. A computer running an AI program can be described in terms of PC boards, chips, etc., or it can be described in terms of functional software modules, or it can described in terms of plans and intentions. But it’s all the same machine and operates according to the same laws of physics as any other object. These descriptions are explanatory, not ontological.

Comment #121966

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 9:06 PM (e)

Seems that Popper’s Ghost indeed jumped to conclusions before asking for clarifications.

did he?

hmm, what I saw based on Allen’s posts was a clear indication that those who supported evolutionary theory did not change their minds when exposed to the drivel of behe, dembski, and johnson.

not much of a surprise.

when asked what happened with the two (only 2?) ID students in the class, there is no public record of them ever claiming to in the end having accepted the vacuousness of behe, dembski, or johnson.

Jumped to conclusions? no more than was warranted by Allen’s post itself.

and it’s still very unclear as to what kind of effect the course had on ID supporters themselves.

I find that confusing. Isn’t there an IDEA club on the Cornell Campus?

what happened to those folks? Why were there only 2 ID supporters enrolled in the course?

If you want to claim that the course was a brilliant success in failing to convert supporters of evolutionary theory to ID, then I suppose you could do that.

I’d say that an objective measure of what the course intends to achieve would be warranted if it is to be repeated.

You spent time on the blog; did you see the course materials or discussion having a measurable effect on diehard ID supporters?

If so, perhaps you could point to some specific statments by former IDers that can indicate what bit of evidence changed their minds?

Comment #121967

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 9:10 PM (e)

Oh, I am stung!

I am not silly nor arrogant, (OK, arrogant I’ll accept) but I won’t take anybody’s word on their word. If the data and theory fit, fine. Should I accept Behe’s word because he’s a PhD Biochemist? I know lots of PhD Biochemists. Behe is one of many and if his arguments hold sway, which they don’t, then I would accept them.

Aside from that petulant remark of mine, it seems to me that the microevolution/macroevolution discussion which, by the way, wasn’t even a topic when I took biology back in the 70’s, is a divisive issue that needs to be resolved. So long as creationists can use the terms as two separate mechanisms the creationist/evolution debate will continue.

And the comment that I was adopting creationist logic (TJ, was that you?) caused me to take a long, hot shower!

Comment #121970

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 22, 2006 9:21 PM (e)

Pim:

Seems that Popper’s Ghost indeed jumped to conclusions before asking for clarifications.

Somehow I find it ironic how various PT participants start to sound more and more like ID proponents…

OK, Pim. You’ve just demonstrated that you’ve managed to miss most of the points that were legitimately made on this thread, and that you’re still determined to reduce them all down to a false civil/uncivil dichotomy.

You and Dr. MacNeill weren’t very clear initially. Clarification was requested, most recently and most civilly, by me. After which, it turned out that the original statements made by Dr. MacNeill needed the requested clarification. Before that, the conclusions drawn from–and the critiques based upon–the unclarified statements were mostly right on.

Or, put another way, your quoted comment is so much equine manure.

Pay more attention and utter less folly.

Which folly ought now, in fairness and civility–seeing’s how that’s so important to you–to be retracted.

Comment #121971

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 9:21 PM (e)

did he?

I’m sure I jumped to some; we all do. But here’s some of what I wrote … a question and three conditional statements:

Since these statements are direct contradictions to fundamental ID dogma, how can it be that there was “strong consensus” and yet no one changed their mind? … If no IDer changed their mind, then nothing was more helpful than anything else in convincing them of anything…. If seeds of doubt were planted, then minds were changed. Any IDer who now has doubts that they didn’t have before the class but takes the same positions that they did before the class is clearly being dishonest.

These aren’t conclusions. Rather, I noted an inconsistency between what MacNeill wrote (no one changed their mind) and what PvM wrote (seeds of doubt were planted). I practically begged for clarification.

Comment #121973

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 9:31 PM (e)

I find that confusing. Isn’t there an IDEA club on the Cornell Campus?

what happened to those folks? Why were there only 2 ID supporters enrolled in the course?

Yes, this was very surprising once it finally came out (and that Hannah Maxson wasn’t enrolled in the seminar). I guess we were expected to read “24 posts (several by the students in the course) and over 1,500 comments from both sides of the issue, plus downloadable copies of most of the final research papers written by the students in the course” to find out.

Comment #121976

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 9:41 PM (e)

Which folly ought now, in fairness and civility—seeing’s how that’s so important to you—to be retracted.

Likening someone here to an ID proponent is a pretty clear indication that you aren’t interested in civil discussion with them – I know that’s true when I use that insult.

And thanks for drawing out MacNeill’s clarification, which was very helpful. The discussion here would have played out quite differently had he posted that instead of or in addition to his “I don’t think anyone changed their mind” statement, but that’s another possible world, not this one, alas.

Comment #121977

Posted by Flint on August 22, 2006 9:50 PM (e)

Being right need not be very effective if it results in people ignoring you.

Long experience surely shows that being polite and trying to sympathize with IDists gets you quote-mined at the very least. See the Collins debacle, for example.

Earlier, I wrote that we have no external indication that the two students who came into the course as IDists changed either their opinions or their behavior. We had to take MacNeill’s word for it. Now I see that MacNeill has repeated his assurances, which seem to be based on the verbal (but unrecorded) testimony given to him by those students, who have kept their reconsiderations a secret from everyone else, despite a blogful of opportunity to hint otherwise.

Earlier, I wrote that IDists lie. They certainly told MacNeill what he wished to hear. They told Nobody else, to anyone’s knowledge.

Meanwhile, we have the early comments 121323 and 121324 - two people who attempted to post material to the Evolution And Design blog, Hannah Maxson IDist presiding, and discovered their efforts got disappeared. There are two (to my knowledge, only two) types of IDist blogs - those that do not permit comments, and those that do not permit ideologically disapproved (aka “factually correct”) comments.

MacNeill now “explains” that comments must pass through some sort of suitability filter. Yep, sounds depressingly familiar.

Comment #121979

Posted by shiva on August 22, 2006 9:57 PM (e)

Allen,

Almost anyone viewing the comments here would be justified in concluding that commentators at the Panda’s Thumb (i hesitate to refer to them as “evolutionary biologists”)…

I am not an evolutionary biologist. And there must be a fair number of people who post here who aren’t. We keep in touch with PT because evolution matters to us; to the way science is taught and applied. It possibly matters much more to people like us than it does to biologists. You can create and sustain a scientific temper at home as you are a scientist. We do other things for a living. We know evolution is science but could be at a loss for words as when my daughter one day surprised me saying “But Dad it is only a theory.” And we live in one of the most progressive school districts in the US. When it is your school involved and you are fighting ‘equal time’ or teach the controvery proposals from nutcases you can talk both as a parent and as a scientist. We can talk only as parents, not as scientists. (Thankfully I don’t have to, but that’s anotehr matter). And then there are grade/high school teachers (a tough job you will agree) who must some times battle crebot colleagues who are determined to destroy science teaching. In the circumstances a credentialled professor who spends six weeks discussing the work of fakes, frauds, and charlatans, not clinically, but starting from first principles, is certainly lending neo/paleocreationism it a veneer of respectability. Science is a process and scientists shd call it as it is.

Stockholm Syndrome?

Comment #121984

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 10:14 PM (e)

Y’know, it’s funny, but I just re-read this:

The other (a self-described YEC) shifted very significantly over the summer, coming to accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution, and “having an open mind” about macroevolution

And MacNeill was using the terms in the creationist ontological sense of being different phenomena. However, he was only referring to the YEC’s beliefs, so it’s not clear what his own views are.

In any case, it’s not much of a movement for a YEC to “accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution”, as this seems to be the standard YEC view these days. Nor does it seem that the other IDer moved much: “One of these two also came to accept common descent (primarily because it became clear that Behe does so as well, and therefore a “good IDer” can accept common descent without giving up ID)”. From these descriptions, these two people are still dogma-driven and evidence is only considered to the degree that it doesn’t challenge the dogma. This seems to leave us with STJ’s original comment: “I don’t know about anybody else, but I found the gist of what was presented in this thread, by both Pim and Allen, to be horribly confusing and the parts that made sense were mostly depressing.” And Pim’s comments are not at all helpful in evaluating the results, since on the one hand he writes

PvM wrote:

Did you attend the seminar? Did you discuss with the participants? Or are you being ‘guided’ by the comments on the blog? Realize then that most of the blog participants were NOT seminar attendees…. garbage in, garbage out …

and on the other hand … get this …

PvM wrote:

I cannot speak for Allen or the participants of this class as I only participated in the blog discussions.

Sigh.

Comment #121988

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 10:20 PM (e)

I keep thinking this is an important enough topic that it would be great if we could just wipe this whole thread, and start over knowing what we know now.

maybe some of what was supposed to be expressed as the results of this experiment would become a bit clearer.

too much to hope for though.

Comment #121989

Posted by Doc Bill on August 22, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

Brilliant idea STJ, I’ll take up the challenge:

In summary:

ID is scientifically dead.

ID is politically alive!

What to do?

The End.

Comment #121992

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:05 PM (e)

Popper once again shows a confused logic. Remember that Popper, largely unaware of much of any relevant data about the Cornell design course, somehow still found it necessary to make strong assertions. When asked how familiar Popper’s Ghost was with the opinions of the participants, or even if he had attended the seminar, he somehow managed to juxtapose two unrelated comments of mine

PvM wrote:

Did you attend the seminar? Did you discuss with the participants? Or are you being ‘guided’ by the comments on the blog? Realize then that most of the blog participants were NOT seminar attendees…. garbage in, garbage out …

and on the other hand … get this …

PvM wrote:

I cannot speak for Allen or the participants of this class as I only participated in the blog discussions.

Note that I never pretended to be speaking for Allen or his students. However various of the respondents on this thread somehow managed to ‘second guess’ Allen’s motives.

It would not surprise me that the real Popper would turn in his grave if he were made aware of the ‘arguments’ of his ‘ghost’.

As I said, garbage in/garbage out. This thread surely has shown how so called ID critics are quick to draw conclusions or imply motives even when lacking data. I am not surprised that this kind of ‘arguments’ have been far from succesful in convincing IDers of the vacuity of intelligent design.

In fact, it does little to further discussion, a logical argument let alone a convincing argument against ID. If people are unable to listen to those with whom they disagree and present a plausible alternative, that the success-rate will be low. Fine, you won the battle and lost the war…

On the other hand, people like Allen who have managed to treat ID proponents with respect, has done more to expose the vacuity of ID (as well as some of its critics, it seems) than most any poster on this thread.
Sure, just because some of the leaders of the ID movement have shown to be unwilling to listen to reason, we should treat anyone who holds ID leaning ideas with the same disrespect? Dembski, Wells and some of the other major players in ID may have deserved some level of disrespect as they have shown themselves to be unwilling to listen. However, there are many people who struggle with faith and science and have found ID’s arguments to be convincing. Remember, I used to be a YEC’er despite my education in Physics… People find ID and other forms of creationism comforting, especially when it has a (thin) veil of scientific respectability. Should we encourage them to strengthen their allegiances with ID by pointing out to them why we think they are morons, idiots, puppets or should we have them consider the arguments from both sides and come to their own conclusion that indeed, ID is mostly vacuous?

I am sure that various people on this thread take great pride in winning a shouting match with an ID opponent, forgetting how their behavior may have a negative effect on many of the fence sitters who frequent this blog and others. While pounding their chests, they seem to forget that their behavior has done more to support ID than anything the major ID players could have done. After all, by showing how narrow minded ID critics can be, we have lived up to the stereotype of the creationist, so where else to go but to the side which at least treats one with respect (even if it is mostly shallow and insincere?). Perhaps, these people will give science and reason a second chance but every time it will be harder and harder to convince them.

Ask yourself: What have you done lately to help people who are open to the idea of Intelligent Design understand what Intelligent Design is all about and how it fails to be what many people expect/hope it to be?
Sure, shouting matches on the Bathroom wall or after the bar closes makes one feel good about oneself. “…I really showed this nasty IDer not to mess with me”… Not even realizing how the majority of moderate IDers perceive the shouting match… Fine, use the forums to rid oneself of the frustrations of trying to deal with some of the more extreme IDers, but don’t forget that the majority of IDers are hardly that strongly committed to the concept. Once they come to realize that science effectively deals with concepts of teleology, design and information, there is little need for ID.

And a final comment to Popper’s Ghost who in response of my statement that

By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological.

Responded:

If MacNeill taught that then he grossly misinformed his students. Teleology refers to final causes, but final causes play no role in our understanding of biology and evolutionary processes.

It seems to me that Popper’s Ghost could benefit from reading the work of Ayala, Ruse and others. An informed opinion helps strengthen the impact of one’s statements and in this case it may help explore how scientists have approached these issues”

Ayala, Francisco J. (Mar., 1970) Teleological Explanations in Evolutionary Biology, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 37, No. 1. pp. 1-15.

Bedau, Mark (Nov., 1991) Can biological teleology be naturalized?, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 88, No. 11, Eighty-Eighth Annual Meeting American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. pp. 647-655.

Mayr, Ernst (1974) Teleological and Teleonomic: A New Analysis. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume XIV, pp 91 -117

Mayr, Ernst (1992) The Idea of Teleology Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 53, No. 1 , pp. 117-135

Nagel, Ernest (1977) Functional Explanations in Biology, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74, No. 5, pp. 280-310

Nagel, Ernest (1977) Goal-Directed Processes in Biology, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74, No. 5, pp. 261-279

All papers were assigned reading material for the class. So given your ‘familiarity’ with the class, I assume you have read them already?

Comment #121993

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:11 PM (e)

QUOTATIONS:

Braithwaite1 (1954) on the conflict between teleological statements and causation:

In a [normal] causal explanation the explicandum is explained in terms of a cause which either precedes it or is simultaneous with it; in a teleological explanation the explicandum is explained as being causally related either to a particular goal or to a biological end which is as much future as present or
past.

Mayr (1974) on the added value of teleological accounts:

Consider the following statement: ‘The Wood Thrush migrates in the fall into warmer countries in order to escape the inclemency of the weather and the food shortages of the northern climates’. If we replace the words ‘in order to’ by ‘and thereby’, we leave the important question unanswered as to why the Wood Thrush migrates. The teleonomic form of the statement implies that the goal-directed migratory activity is governed by a program.
By omitting this important message the translated sentence is greatly impoverished as far as information content is concerned, without gaining in causal strength.

Hull (1982) on the use of teleology and teleonomy by scientists :

Haldane [in the ‘30s] can be found remarking, ‘Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist: he cannot live without her but he’s unwilling to be seen with her in public.’ Today the mistress has become a lawfully wedded wife.
Biologists no longer feel obligated to apologize for their use of teleological language; they flaunt it. The only concession which they make to its disreputable past is to rename it ‘teleonomy’.

Source: Handout for Teleology

Or see Teleological explanations in Biology

Comment #121994

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:14 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost

This seems to leave us with STJ’s original comment: “I don’t know about anybody else, but I found the gist of what was presented in this thread, by both Pim and Allen, to be horribly confusing and the parts that made sense were mostly depressing.” And Pim’s comments are not at all helpful in evaluating the results, since on the one hand he writes

And instead of asking for clarifications people just decided it was safer to just jump to conclusions…

Man, you guys start to sound like young earth creationists in training… A bit rough at the edges but with all the conviction that one is right as one believes in the true cause…

Comment #121996

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2006 11:32 PM (e)

Man, you guys start to sound like young earth creationists in training… A bit rough at the edges but with all the conviction that one is right as one believes in the true cause…

histrionics are boring, Pim.

are you done yet?

Comment #121997

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:42 PM (e)

Shiva, please explain your stockholm syndrome statement as it seems ill supported.

Comment #121998

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:48 PM (e)

histrionics are boring, Pim.

are you done yet?

So now it’s histrionics. After all, it could not really be that this is really how people may perceive the behavior of some of you?

This may come as a shock perhaps but the statements were made in all sincerity. Of course, most of you hardly reach the ‘standards’ of Lenny but I am amazed how much similarity there appears to exist between some ID critics and some ID proponents…

Comment #121999

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:50 PM (e)

I intend to post a follow up to this posting to discuss the work of some others on this topic. I hope that this can also lead to a more fruitful discussion

Comment #122000

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 23, 2006 12:01 AM (e)

I see… not done yet.

please do continue.

I find this side of you to be a bit boring, but it seems you’ve got some angst to spin out there.

when you’re done, maybe you could provide a summary that explains what you wanted to get at with this thread to begin with?

it’s still pretty unclear.

Comment #122001

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 23, 2006 12:03 AM (e)

I intend to post a follow up to this posting to discuss the work of some others on this topic. I hope that this can also lead to a more fruitful discussion

ah, i posted too soon.

yes, that would be very helpful.

Comment #122002

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 12:14 AM (e)

The purpose of this thread was to start a discussion on an interesting paper on a topic which is quite interesting. Why do humans seem to be so easily ‘fooled’ to detect design and purpose where none may seem to exist? The argument that this innate tendency is an evolutionary outcome would be quite ironic… The design inference, an evolved detector with known flaws (aka false positives). Of course for survival false positives are less of a problem than false negatives….

Comment #122003

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 23, 2006 12:19 AM (e)

well, it seems that particular point was lost amongst the rubble.

for what it’s worth, the first question I would ask is how one can conclude design detection as a common human modality when there are clear differences in how individuals perceive design.

otherwise, there wouldn’t be divisions between IDers and non-Iders, right?

Comment #122004

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 23, 2006 12:25 AM (e)

PvM, you’re being a complete ass and I’m not going to respond to your intellectually dishonest drivel.

Comment #122008

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 12:27 AM (e)

Good question. What if religiosity and the innate tendency are correlated? In other words, some have stronger tendencies to perceive ‘design’ than others and those that do have stronger tendencies are more likely to resort to religious principles.

I am still working through the variety of papers. Detecting ‘design’ or ‘purpose’ may have had an evolutionary advantage but the hair trigger can also trigger false positives. Unlike ID which has to rely on absence of false positive, our design detector has to avoid false negatives. Failing to detect design when there is can be costly. Of course this may have resulted in humans overdetecting design, especially in times of stress, which can trigger the design detector.

There is some interesting research out there which I hope to discuss in more detail at a later time…

Comment #122009

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 12:31 AM (e)

Popper: PvM, you’re being a complete ass and I’m not going to respond to your intellectually dishonest drivel.

Finally an intelligent decision from our resident Ghost. Although he could benefit from a better delivery. Nevertheless, I appreciate your sentiments.

Comment #122010

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 23, 2006 12:34 AM (e)

Good question. What if religiosity and the innate tendency are correlated?

yes… this is essentially the core of the creationist=alcoholic post i made early in this thread.

It also relates to a post last year on the “Thumb that was examine a reseach study on the heritability of extreme religious behavior.

do you recall that one?

I can post the reference again if not.

Comment #122014

Posted by k.e. on August 23, 2006 1:13 AM (e)

Have any experiments been done to show a correlation between an innate neurological/sensory “agency detector” and religiosity?

Is an innate neurological/sensory “agency detector” responsible for or equivalent to pattern matching just in natural material objects or in social interaction as well, or both at the same time?

Which mechanism was Dick Cheney using when he pulled the trigger and was it a hair trigger false positive?

And finally on Us vs Them front

…if such sensory experiences (for “agency detection) can be manipulated by the leaders of human dominance hierarchies to produce irrational adherence to a political program that has potentially strongly negative implications for those individuals being so manipulated.

Or…. do the sacred texts give reasons and a ready rationalization for going to war?

My “Agency Detector/Super Ego Deconstructor TM” asks who wrote those reasons and for what aim.
Hint…. they always are the first item on the evening news.

Survival of the group’s political identity means survival of the group’s political meme by removing competitors for resources which include young minds.

Comment #122020

Posted by H. Humbert on August 23, 2006 2:09 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

However various of the respondents on this thread somehow managed to ‘second guess’ Allen’s motives.

No, I don’t think anyone ever questioned his motives. His conclusions, methods, and a few of his comments maybe. But never his motives.

Comment #122070

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2006 7:33 AM (e)

Of course, most of you hardly reach the ‘standards’ of Lenny

Well, you’re certainly correct, Pim, that I’m very very uncivil to IDers. After all, I don’t like them very much. And my entire aim is to crush them into the dirt and destroy them as a political movement.

And I see no need to make nice-nice with them as I do it.

As for MacNeill, my view of him remains the same as it was before his course — his idea that he can change IDers by being polite to them and patiently educating them, is laughably naive.

Maybe he can try that strategy as well with, say, Nazis or Leninists or Klansmen. I doubt it’ll do any better.

Comment #122074

Posted by shiva on August 23, 2006 7:41 AM (e)

Pim,

I made a terse comment on Allen’s blog in response to his report, on the six week course, where he is all praise for Maxine Hanson’s participation. It seems as if Allen now believes that there are two sides to the issue of evolution and that new/old creo too has earned its place at the table. Just as some hostages after a long period in captivity rationalise the actions of their captors, Allen is being unnecessarily accomodative of IDCs.

Comment #122084

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 23, 2006 8:32 AM (e)

“And Design blog, Hannah Maxson IDist presiding, and discovered their efforts got disappeared. There are two (to my knowledge, only two) types of IDist blogs - those that do not permit comments, and those that do not permit ideologically disapproved (aka “factually correct”) comments.”

Once again, at the risk of being repetitious, Hannah moderated IDers, while I moderated EBers (EBers = “evolutionary biologists”). The two people who commented earlier on having been moderated at the Evolution and Design website may or may not have actually tried to post there. Ivy Privy has posted many times, both to that website and at mine (http://www.evolutionlist.blogspot.com), and has generally complied with the “rules of engagement.” The other person, Steven S, does not ring any bells. It is possible that he posted at the Evolution and Design site under another name. Over the summer there were three EBers who persisted in changing the topics of threads, using ad hominem arguments, and generally flagrantly ignoring the clearly posted “rules of engagement.” After warning them, I moderated their posts. They are not “banned” and can attempt to post there again, However, if they use the same tactics as last time, their posts will once again be moderated.

As Kurt Vonnegut (another Cornellian) once wrote, “After all else is gone, what remains is curtesy.”

Comment #122091

Posted by ivy privy on August 23, 2006 8:45 AM (e)

Cordova is at Cornell, DaveTard has some degree, yes?

No, Cordova is not at Cornell. The last I heard, he was at George Mason University. I don’t know what his status is there. Cordova di not participate in the recent Cornell seminar. He merely participated in the blog associated with the course.

Comment #122094

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 23, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

“Allen is being unnecessarily accomodative of IDCs.”

Not at all. As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster. I would hardly call that “accomodation.”

However, I never attacked her as a person, and never will. What I expressed at the Evolution and Design website was my sincere gratitude for the immense amount of work she did last spring and this summer to put together the website, to debug it, and to make it maximally accessible to the students registered in the course AND to people participating only online. I had neither the time nor the expertise to do so, and so am indebted to her for her efforts (which were, of course, entirely voluntary and unpaid).

I also expressed gratitude to Warren Allman (director of the Paleontological Research Institute here in Ithaca) and to Will Provine (professor of evolution here at Cornell, and one of my best friends) for their participation in the course. Like Hannah, they attended the seminar classes without compensation, and participated vigorously in our deliberations.

So, what part of all of this strikes you as an example of the “Stockholm syndrome?” I call it pure civility and gratitude, part of the glue that holds together any “community of scholars.” That what a “college” is - it’s “collegial,” right?

Comment #122096

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 23, 2006 8:53 AM (e)

“Maybe he can try that strategy as well with, say, Nazis or Leninists or Klansmen. I doubt it’ll do any better.”

Interesting: Godwin’s Law in less than 200 posts. Is that a new record?

Comment #122099

Posted by ivy privy on August 23, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

The remaining two students came into the class as committed IDers (Hannah and Rabia were not registered students, BTW; they were “invited guests” - invited by me). These two students were considerably less convinced of the ID position at the end of the course than they were when they came in, shifting from a blanket rejection of all of evolutionary theory to accepting most of evolutionary theory while maintaining a “wait and see” attitude about the origin of life/genetic code/selected biochemical pathways. One of these two also came to accept common descent (primarily because it became clear that Behe does so as well, and therefore a “good IDer” can accept common descent without giving up ID). The other (a self-described YEC) shifted very significantly over the summer, coming to accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution, and “having an open mind” about macroevolution. Both of these two IDers came into the course pretty strongly opposed to evolution and supportive of ID, but by the end (and as a result of the process by which we analyzed the various readings assigned for the course) they came to appreciate and apply the technique of critical analysis and argumentation with supportive evidence.

I am curious about how this YEC’s beliefs will go in the future. I hope you will maintain contact with this student.

I recall when Cornelius Hunter appeared at Cornell in a “panel discussion” with two Cornell profs, Richard Harrison and Kern Reeve. Hunter got hammered on the inability of ID to make testable scientific predictions (the “black obelisk” exchange). During the audience question period, Mark Psiaki, faculty advisor of the IDEA Club at Cornell, made what sounded like a very conciliatory concession speech. However, within days he was back to his old self and wrote this piece which was posted on the Design Paradigm blog.

…The principle of irreducible complexity does not give one all of biology, but if true, it serves to divert the biologist from wasting time by trying to answer a question to which there is no scientific answer.

Oddly, while I was able to follow some links to find that piece on The Design Paradigm site, it does not appear in the archives listing for April 2006. If Psiaki ever formally withdrew or disowned that piece, I did not hear of it.

I suspect that, given time, your YEC student will either revert to full YEC status, or else throw it over entirely. It is possible to hold two conflicting beliefs at once, but it isn’t always easy.

Comment #122113

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 23, 2006 10:20 AM (e)

“Maybe he can try that strategy as well with, say, Nazis or Leninists or Klansmen. I doubt it’ll do any better.”

Interesting: Godwin’s Law in less than 200 posts. Is that a new record?

I’m sure many threads on countless other internet forums started on the premise of comparing one ideology with Nazism.

Comment #122120

Posted by Raging Bee on August 23, 2006 10:54 AM (e)

…ever try to rationally talk a junkie out of being a junkie?

It rarely ever works. You have to attack the psychological barriers that these people put up to maintain their delusions.

Actually, it works a lot more often than you seem to think – especially when rational discourse is based on relevant events in the addict’s life.

As for “attack the psychological barriers,” that’s just ridiculous: psychologists understand that you can’t attack a defense; you have to get around it.

…and when they don’t “discover their own errors”?

we simply let them slide, right?

What other choice is there? These students are adults – they’re free to think what they want, and there’s not much any professor can do about it. (Besides, this isn’t the first time someone came out of a college class no smarter than when they came in. This happens all the time, especially in PoliSci and related fields.)

That said, I really think that if MacNeill’s seminar got a few creationists to rethink their fixed ideas, that’s a real accomplishment. Even if they don’t publicly renounce their creationist ideas, their seeds of doubt might leave them less energy to devote to the creationists’ next con-game. Recent elections for the Dover, PA school board were lost, then won, by very narrow margins; and a handful of devout Christians staying home due to diminished certainty about ID can make a LOT of difference.

Comment #122122

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 23, 2006 11:14 AM (e)

Now, as to the criticism that the concepts in Broaddus’s paper are neither new nor original, could the poster please provide references as to where these ideas have been published? I have been working on the idea of “agency detection” in evolutionary psychology for several years, and have yet to run across a published paper suggesting that humans (or any other animal, for that matter) have an adapted tendency to infer “agency” (i.e. intentionality) in natural objects and processes (beyond merely suggesting that such an ability might exist an have adaptive value).

I’m not the poster who stated directly that it is nothing new, but as I alluded in several posts, there is nothing new about the issue. And yes, many treatments of the mistakes made regarding agency are rather more sophisticated than to resort to the simple expedient of suggesting that there is an “adapted tendency” to detect agency. But I’m sure you can find sources that would be that simplistic, for instance in the 19th century.

Both psychology and continental philosophy have considered these issues at length. I wrote in my first post on this thread about how we learn about “cause” in the first place, which is understood as the result of agency and purpose in the human’s first identification of “cause” in his own actions. Ancient peoples seemed to understand especially motion to involve agency, and essentially it was through their understanding of agent-caused motion that they evoked agency for the origins organisms, winds, and storms–and apparent “designs”.

You’re coming at “agent detection” without any indication of an understanding of the historical dimensions of “agent identification”. For instance, Aristotle’s “god” in fact was only a “Prime Mover” in his relations with the rest of the universe (otherwise he thought the best thoughts, himself). Aquinas’s “proofs of God” include the Prime Mover, since the concept that motion indicates agency is at least as important historically as that “designs” are the result of agency.

For Aristotle, in fact, the Prime Mover needed agency, while organic forms did not (the issue of “purpose” is complicated in Aristotle, since (IIRC) organs exist “for” the organism, while the organism itself does not exist “for” anything except itself and/or the form).

And the form of Adam needed a sculptor, while the life of Adam was not the result of “design”. The God of Genesis 1 is also something of a mover, but more on the lines of an oriental despot: he speaks and it happens.

There isn’t a whole lot of point in looking for an “adapted tendency” to look for agency unless one is going to deal with how agency is inferred by humans (young or not) to exist through movements. I can’t say that there is absolutely no adapted tendency to infer agency, but one needs to deal quite thoroughly with the development of the belief in our own agency and in the agency of others, and how it is perceived, before adding on “adapted tendency” to what is already known.

Why do many very young children react to vacuum cleaners as if they were alive? They tend to look at vacuum cleaners as if they are agents, ones making a menacing racket and coming at them with malice aforethought.

All sorts of powered machines are thought by non-technological (in the modern sense) peoples to be alive when they first see those machines. Movement, and especially apparent self-movement, is understood to be the result of agency by the naive human, while the abstract reductionistic view of purpose and design that comes in with modern science, Paley, and the IDists, is a derivative cultural artifact. There seems not to be much point in explaining any such cultural artifacts as “adapted tendencies”.

I suppose one could hypothesize an adapted tendency to understand movement to be the result of agency. Even that, though, would be complicated by the fact that we may very well understand movement to be agent-caused by projecting our own agency onto others–which works out well enough in social animals.

I would not be surprised if movement/agency/design are largely disconnected in the very young baby. They react to insult and injury, but it is not clear that they connect movement or patterns with agents or purpose until they themselves become more purposive beings. Even so, I would not be truly shocked if movement (and the apparent results of movement–what we might call “design”) understood as agency were more than only that, that is to say, if we were somehow predisposed to recognizing our own movements and those of others as being purposive.

Demonstrating this to be the case would not be a simple matter, though. And anyhow, any such understanding would involve questions of how we even consider ourselves to be agents, what purpose is, and how we come to understand things through our bodily movements and sensations. An “adapted tendency” even to understand one’s own movements as agent-caused may in fact come down simply to the question of how we understand ourselves to be agents at all.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #122123

Posted by Flint on August 23, 2006 11:21 AM (e)

Besides, this isn’t the first time someone came out of a college class no smarter than when they came in. This happens all the time, especially in PoliSci and related fields.

It might be helpful to describe what it is about these fields, where education seems useless. Here’s a hint: it’s not the subject matter, which can be difficult, intricate, and require a great deal of practice and insight. Instead, it’s fields where the perception of the Great Unwashed (those who know so little about the subject that they don’t even know what they don’t know) is that anyone’s opinion is just as good as anyone else’s.

So this includes subjects like sociology, political science, philosphy, theology, much of economics. Fields where everyone has plenty of opinions, which they consider just as informed as anyone else’s. Always amusing to note that the consensus of biologists is that they know just as much about government and politics than those with degrees in those fields, but somehow just can’t accept that a politician’s uninformed opinions about biology are just as valid as their own.

And so here we are: Those who spend years getting degrees in these fields come out “no smarter than when they came in”, which happens “all the time”. I think I hear a biologist speaking!

Comment #122124

Posted by Registered User on August 23, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

Jeebus, what a thread.

It’s useful to return to the April comments on this topic to see what the major issue was and is with this class: the involvement of IDEA Club morons (yeah: morons) in the teaching of a class at Cornell. Like all serious ID promoters, Hannah Maxson is a hypocrite and a little bit sick in the head.

What kind of person does not admit basic obvious facts about garbage when those facts are exposed for all to see? Answer: a liar with an agenda.

What kind of person holds hands with a liar with an agenda, runs a blog where criticism of that liar is banned, where another notorious liar (Cordova) posts ten thousand words of crap, then brags about how wonderful it all was?

Allen

Over the summer there were three EBers who persisted in changing the topics of threads, using ad hominem arguments, and generally flagrantly ignoring the clearly posted “rules of engagement.” After warning them, I moderated their posts.

This is self-serving baloney. The “rules of engagement” were a joke, Allen. Most importantly, the rules weren’t applied to Hannah Maxson who was moderating the blog with you so please give us all a freaking break already. The moderation on that blog was more oppressive than that on Uncommon Descent and applied just as unfairly.

As Kurt Vonnegut (another Cornellian) once wrote, “After all else is gone, what remains is curtesy.”

What a disturbing aphorism that is to hear a scientist utter in 2006 after 6 years of abuse of science by fundamentalist idiots.

Let’s return to the course again: a course that was purported to concern the “history” of intelligent design and its relatives. What was discussed? Mainly Behe and Dembski’s garbage in great detail – non-scientists were forced to wade through that crap. And Dawkins book was compared to Phil Johnson’s book. But the most recent and interesting chapter in the history of “intelligent design” was left out: the chapter where Hannah Maxson’s heroes were exposed as babbling idiots in a Federal Court. It may have been touched on in class, but it was never discussed in the public forum of the blog (unlike Dawkins’ book, which was criticized by you and Hannah).

And you wonder, Allen, why some of us here think you’re a stooge? Please give us a break.

There were many low points in the public face of the Cornell class but perhaps the lowest came towards the end when Allen threw a little temper tantrum that was a tad too revealing. Specifically, in response to a typically pandering and smarmy quote from Sal Cordova, a commenter wrote:

Allen, I’d like to salute your students, too, at least the ones who aren’t so arrogant that they pretend to understand what the professionals can not.

This rather innocuous comment was labeled as “disturbing” by Sal Cordova then led to a flurry of comments from Allen and Hannah, including some which invoked the bad old nasty comments on Panda’s Thumb. Allen also wrote this:

Speculating about people’s motivations is even worse; if one is so blind as to not be able to infer motivations from one’s opponent’s inability to stick to the subject at hand, then one not only has no business participating in discussions such as these, one is also undermining the validity of the arguments being made by others in one’s own camp who do not “break the rules.”

I don’t have time to figure out what that means except that Allen seems to be calling someone “blind.” Then Allen wrote this

No one in the class was identified as his target; therefore, every student in the class (which, BTW, does not include Hannah, who is an “invited participant”) could easily conclude that Michael was addressing them.

Try not to laugh. Remember: Michael was “saluting” Allen’s students, just as Sal did moments earlier. Apparently Allen holds his students in such low regard that he believes they are incapable of determining whether they are ID peddlers or not.

Comment #122135

Posted by Registered User on August 23, 2006 12:01 PM (e)

Allen’s friend, Hannah Maxson (Cornell IDEA Club president and politically active religious fundamentalist) before the class

The Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness
(IDEA) Club at Cornell is deeply concerned with President Hunter Rawlings’ blatant
disregard for the facts concerning Intelligent Design in Friday’s State of the University Address. In a speech usually reserved for current university business, he spent over twothirds of his time blasting the emerging Intelligent Design theory as anti-scientific and religious in an unscrupulous, unknowledgeable manner.

Intelligent Design (ID) is a scientific theory which holds that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and are not the result of an undirected, chance-based process such as Darwinian evolution. It follows the principles of the scientific method, scorns the biases of either religion or naturalism, and attempts to follow all the available evidence to a valid conclusion. ID is testable and falsifiable, and so far its predictions have repeatedly been shown accurate.

The IDEA Club at Cornell holds that the problems with Neo-Darwinian evolution can no
longer be ignored, and it is time for true research and debate about the issues surrounding the beginnings of life to take place at universities across the country.
Attacking ID as a non-scientist and without addressing its scientific claims, Rawlings
states that it is religion masquerading as science and is a religious belief at its core. This gross misstatement is a disservice to unbiased discourse, besides being an insult to people of faith throughout America. Ad hominem attacks and confusing people’s religious beliefs with their scientific research is not befitting a university president. We would hope Rawlings will instead follow Cornell’s often lauded commitment to a free and open
exchange of ideas.

Were these particular statements of Hannah’s directly addressed at the end of your course, Allen, in front of your students? Were they directly addressed on the Evolution and Design Blog? Did Hannah defend them on the blog? If not, why not?

You see, Allen, as President of the Cornell IDEA Club, Hannah is a political player in the organized movement to mock and discredit evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologists, and science generally.

As a scientist, Allen, why would you not take advantage of the opportunity to address Hannah Maxson’s sick lies directly, in a public forum? That would constitute a “service” to the community, Allen, much like the service that the Panda’s Thumb and other blogs provide to the community of scientists who are concerned about educating the public.

Maybe funding for “evolutionary psychology” comes from sources who frown on attacking creationists.

Comment #122146

Posted by Registered User on August 23, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

Perhaps the most amusing exchange on the Evolution and Design Blog came at the very end where Allen tried to sum up the “progress”:

I believe that we cleared up quite a few misconceptions. Specifically, we concluded that:

1) Contrary to public perception, both Behe and Dembski’s arguments do not really address the processes of macroevolution at all, nor do they have much relevence for microevolution either.

2) Instead, they are primarily focussed on a very limited area of evolutionary theory: the origin of life and the genetic code, plus the origin of a small set of biochemical pathways.

3) Given the foregoing, it became clear to us that nearly all of what could be subsumed under the heading of the “theory of evolution” (and especially the entirety of Darwin’s original theory, which did not address any of the topics listed in #2, above) is essentially unaffected by the work of Behe and Dembski.

4) Therefore, it would be safe to say that the work of the primary authors in the field of ID theory do not in any way undermine (indeed, they do not effect) almost all of current evolutionary theory in any significant way.

Hannah Maxson’s response:

Did we categorize ID as challenging only OoL, or did we also find it relevant to the entire question of the usefulness of N.S., origination of novel form, function, and specified information at later times?– essentially, everything on our chart that dealt with questions of mechanism?

In this same thread, Hannah Maxson was thanked by Allen for providing an example of “how to respectfully but forcefully argue for one’s positions”.

Go and read the blog and try to find anything “respectful” about Hannah’s responses to those who point out that her claims are garbage.

Better yet, look in that same thread for Hannah to tell this whopper to Pim:

We’re not part of the political ID/evo battle and not interested in the “who won?” mentality you all seem to think necessary.

What do you think, Allen? Is Hannah Maxon not “part of the political ID/evo battle”? You know her better than any of us. What do you think, Allen? Do you think you’re part of the battle, Allen?

Comment #122149

Posted by Raging Bee on August 23, 2006 12:22 PM (e)

Gee, R.U., don’t hold back, tell us how you REALLY feel!

What little I know of MacNeill’s seminar I got from PT posts like this one – hardly a complete picture. I may be missing something, but from what I read, this seminar has “political compromise” written all over it: the IDiots (or IDEAlogues) started crying about how they never got to sit with the grownups (gosh, I wonder why…), and never got “equal time” to “teach the controversy;” so some conflict-averse Cornell administrators cobbled up a seminar to pretend to give the IDiots the respectability they demanded, and organized and advertized the whole thing so as to make sure both sides of the “controversy” got “equal time” and neither side would feel hurt, disrespected, or forced out of their comfort zone. I can’t see any other reason why MacNeill, who seems quite sensible and honest from what I’ve read of him here, would be so equivocal about the IDist nonsense in the student papers quoted here. Or, for that matter, why he would work with creationists of Maxson’s or Cordova’s caliber on any project.

(I don’t mean any of this as a slight to MacNeill – even the best scientists can be overruled by dumbass politics.)

Comment #122159

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

Well, Dr. MacNeill seems now to be trying to deal with the scientific issues raised in this thread.

Mr. van Meurs–who, again, has stalwartly demonstrated the scientific vacuity of ID in many other threads, and who I therefore have no motivation to either antagonize or offend–continues to deflect with vague allegations of uncivility and conclusion-jumping.

Pim–and all other contributors and thread moderators–let me say it One More Time: challenging vague and confusing claims and demanding that claims be backed up with specifics and evidence is what we do here.

The tone won’t always be warm and cuddly. The debate may well become a little sharp and pointed. You have certainly dished it out plenty of times to IDists. It’s not sharpness of tone–or “politeness” or “civility”–that distinguish “us” from “them.” It’s intellectual honesty, the courage to modify our hypotheses in the face of contrary evidence, and the willingness to admit when you have erred.

All of that has been massively in evidence on this thread, except, I’m sad to say it, from you.

I don’t care if you and Dr. MacNeill choose to be civil with IDers who have demonstrated themselves to incorrigibly lack the approach to reality that characterizes science. As Raging Bee notes, occasionally that civility may even pay dividends–though I think the jury is still out on the issue of whether entrenched IDers are likely to be “won over” by civility combined with exposure to the methodologies and evidence of science, as Lenny continues to remind us.

I haven’t attacked the underlying hopes that Dr. MacNeill held out for his seminar. I have accepted at face value his report that attitudes may, at least marginally, have been altered and that some specific “seeds of doubt” may have been planted.

But I was not prepared to accept your vague assertions of the same thing and–as ought to be completely understandable to you–various other commenters here were likewise reluctant to do so, absent further specific evidence backing that assertion up.

Rather than simply amplify and support your claims, you chose to play the whiney “civility” card, with fairly minimal justification (a certain protectiveness toward Dr. MacNeill might be intially understandable, were he not so entirely capable of holding his own, once he got past his similar impulse to deflect).

You really need to take a couple of deep breaths, re-read this entire thread, and decide where the responsibility for deflecting it actually lies.

Clue one: very close to home.

You can continue making vague, unsupported, and whiney claims that “we” are behaving too much like “them.” Keep up the deflection.

Or you can trot back up the thread, find some appropriately-contextualized quotes from appropriately-identified commenters, and make a case for your claims.

Or you can retract those vague and unsupported claims. Which I strongly suggest is what “we” should do when “we” find ourselves out on the limb you have elected to position yourself on here–the very thing that truly separates us from them, but which you seem remarkably resistant to addressing.

Comment #122167

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 23, 2006 2:34 PM (e)

And yes, many treatments of the mistakes made regarding agency are rather more sophisticated than to resort to the simple expedient of suggesting that there is an “adapted tendency” to detect agency.

A side note – on a central matter: There’s something rather absurd and sad about presenting pictures of objects resembling faces as examples of detecting “design” or “agency”, and the vague debate about whether this was a matter detecting “purpose” or merely “pattern”, with no mention that the ability to recognize faces is a specific ability in humans that is apparently (from infant development, brain scans, brain damage (prosopagnosia), etc.) not merely the result of some general pattern or agency detection mechanism (or “module”, which terminology puts the explanatory cart way before the evidentiary horse). It’s ego-gratifying to mock those with silly and ignorant ideas about evolution, but that doesn’t mean that any of us don’t have silly and ignorant ideas about a host of other scientific subjects; we do all share a general cognitive engine that is subject to an array of cognitive weaknesses and failings.

Comment #122178

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 23, 2006 3:08 PM (e)

steviepinhead wrote:

But I was not prepared to accept your vague assertions of the same thing and—as ought to be completely understandable to you—various other commenters here were likewise reluctant to do so, absent further specific evidence backing that assertion up.

This is why I made a point of noting two of his statements which I found quite startling but which he bizarrely calls “unrelated”, and sees some error in my “juxtaposing” them. I present them again, with another post added; I’m pretty sure everyone else can grasp the significance. Emphasis added.

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 11:42 AM:

… Did you attend the seminar? Did you discuss with the participants? Or are you being ‘guided’ by the comments on the blog? Realize then that most of the blog participants were NOT seminar attendees.

Perhaps you are familiar with the ‘garbage in garbage out’ paradigm?

(Silly me, I took this to mean that PvM had done more than just be guided by the comments on the blog, and thus his comments had some authority.)

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 12:21 AM:

As one of the blog participants, I have found the moderation policy overall quite helpful as it helped focus on the issues rather than on side discussions about who was telling the truth… Exploring the shaky grounds on which complex specified information is built is far more helpful in convincing these IDers than about who said what and who was and was not telling the full truth.
I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.
Remember that upto this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.
Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID.
As such Allen’s course has been an excellent opportunity to do exactly that. By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological. That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

Posted by PvM on August 22, 2006 07:49 PM:

I cannot speak for Allen or the participants of this class as I only participated in the blog discussions. I have found Allen’s approach quite effective when he shows how ID concepts are hardly new to science. Design, analogy, teleology… In other words, Allen managed to undermine much of the foundational relevance of ID by not only showing that ID is vacuous but also how science does deal with these issues all the time, without the need to let our ignorance resort to conclusion not warranted by the evidence.
Perhaps I am naive in my thinking here but I have found Allen’s approach to be quite ingenious (sp).

Garbage in, garbage out, indeed. I was naive in thinking that PvM’s comments about what the course achieved and about “spreading a seed of doubt” was based on something other than speculation and inference, the very same speculation and inference that he has so vociferously criticized in the rest of us.

Comment #122182

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 23, 2006 3:22 PM (e)

Going back to this statement from Allen MacNeill:

Furthermore, all of the participants (including the ID supporters) rejected Phillip Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth as pure political polemic, not worthy of our time and attention; indeed, one of the most ardent ID supporters stated “That isn’t ID.” If not, then at least for the participants on the notorious Cornell evolution and design seminar, ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum), currently lacking empirical verification and without clearly defined methodologies for verification or falsification.

If that truly is what ID is to the participants in the seminar, then they were very badly miseducated, because that is not what ID is, not by a long shot.

Comment #122187

Posted by semeiotica.com on August 23, 2006 3:28 PM (e)

You might also check out some of Psychologist Margret Evans’ work at the University of Michigan including this:

Evans, E. M. (2001). Cognitive and contextual factors in the emergence of diverse belief systems: Creation versus evolution. Cognitive Psychology, 42, 217-266

pdfs are available at her site:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~evansem/

Comment #122200

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 23, 2006 4:22 PM (e)

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum), currently lacking empirical verification and without clearly defined methodologies for verification or falsification.

Does the class believe that anyone associated with the ID movement believes this? I think this is consistent with Behe during Kitzmiller, but no “Good ID-er” would admit this.

Sounds like theistic evolution plus a few “poofs.”

Comment #122206

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 23, 2006 4:37 PM (e)

“In a [normal] causal explanation the explicandum is explained in terms of a cause which either precedes it or is simultaneous with it; in a teleological explanation the explicandum is explained as being causally related either to a particular goal or to a biological end which is as much future as present or past.”

I don’t think this describes normal causal explanations truthfully. Causation is a large subject. The meaning of causation and associated mechanisms is explored in physics. Here one finds that causality does not have an intrinsic meaning.

We divide a description of physical systems in two parts: the configuration of the system, characterizing the particular state it is in at some specific time, and the dynamical laws governing its evolution. We further divide the description of evolution in two parts: the propagation of signals, and the evolution of the configuration.

On large enough scales, lorentz invariance locality and causality is in good shape, and light-cone causality makes sense in describing signal propagation. But that doesn’t describe all the causal mechanisms in a system. The remainder is evolution of the configuration as it evolves in time.

If the evolution of the configuration is constrained, it seems for an observer to have a goal, which may very well be related to the future. The arm continues to stretch out in the elbow joint when I now reach for my coffee. The arms goal is to stretch, my goal is to reach the cup, and the cups goal is to be emptied.

Comment #122207

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2006 4:38 PM (e)

To even grant that ID is a “theoretical hypothesis” goes well beyond the meaning that scientists would ordinarily accord to either of the terms in the phrase, is too kind by far and, in fact, appropriates to “theoretical” the same gloss of dubiety that the IDists love to fraudulaently conflate it with.

Even as an attempted summary of what Dr. MacNeil believes his seminar managed to “confine” ID to, this statement still manages to be “not even wrong.”

Comment #122211

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 23, 2006 4:55 PM (e)

This thread is a complete trainwreck.

I can’t really define it any better than that.

I still think it would be better off shot in the head and replaced with a more thoughtful one (or two).

I’m bailing out of this sinking boat while reiterating the only point salient to Elena’s little diddy:

pattern recognition does not equal purpose or intent.

I do hope at some point Pim will want to create a thread to explore the real issues involved with this kind of thinking, where evo pych is wanting to take us, and where we have already been on this subject.

Moreover, the whole discussion as to the efficacy of Allen’s course and discussion of objectives and results should have its own thread, separate from discussion of the issues I highlighted in the previous paragraph.

till then, have fun picking up the pieces.

Comment #122213

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 23, 2006 5:05 PM (e)

Regarding “what the course achieved”, aren’t course evaluations regularly made any longer? This time it would have been nice to have had the same evalution sheet for the students before and after, considering the intent.

Comment #122214

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 5:05 PM (e)

Cute so now I am being accused of making vague and unsupported claims even though I prefaced my statement with ‘I think’

I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.
Remember that upto this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.

As I explained elsewhere my feedback and observations come from the discussions on the two relevant blogsites.

Various people on this thread have made assertions and assumptions about the course, the effects and even Allen MacNeill which I found poorly founded in evidence

Flint wrote:

Clearly, Allen MacNeill went into the course with the same Will To Believe (in his case, about what the course would accomplish) as any creationist. The course, by all indications, penetrated into no minds at all, not even superficially. Most notably, not MacNeill’s mind either. So he comes out of the course trumpeting that it served its purpose, so pay no attention to the blog resoundingly demonstrating that it did absolutely nothing of the sort.

Perhaps I have missed Steve’s objections to my statements and where I may have erred. If I truly erred then I have no problem admitting such. Happens all the time.
But the tone and assertions by some of this thread led me to make said observations.

If people like Popper refuse to understand the context in which I mande my statements, then fine. The statements “I think”, “I have not attended the course” all place my statements in a proper context.

I was pointing out that comments about effectiveness did not involve actual interactions with the participants but pure speculation. If the posters meant to state that this was pure speculation, then fine with me. I have no problem if posters present something as such.

The general attitude of various people on this blog against ID proponents seems to forget that there is a large variety of ID proponents. Referring to them as IDiots or Creobots does little to convince them that they have been led astray by ID. It merely reinforces the stereotypes they have been given about ID critics. Fine, it may make one feel better to call them names and some may even believe that they really have shown those evil IDiots who has the upper hand. In the mean time, they forget that their actions and words may have convinced more people that ID critics indeed are matching their stereotypes.
If people are unwilling to look beyond our own stereotypes (IDiots, Creobots) then how can we even hope that we can reach effectively those who could benefit most from our contributions? If we could only present it to them without the ad hominems so typical on many of the boards run by ID critics. And don’t get me wrong, I have found ID run boards to be not much better in this regard. It’s this kind of rudeness that I find quite objectionable as it not only undermines the effectiveness of PT but also destroys much of any hope of reaching IDers who are willing to listen to the arguments.

Comment #122215

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2006 5:06 PM (e)

Grateful Dead version, circa 1965, of a traditional tune:

I wish I was a headlight on a north bound train

I wish I was a headlight on a north bound train

I’d shine my light
through that cool Colorado rain

And a long, wailing wooo wooo to Sir_Toejam, as he pulls out of the station. May your love not be in vain, good knight.

Comment #122216

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 5:14 PM (e)

Steve:

To even grant that ID is a “theoretical hypothesis” goes well beyond the meaning that scientists would ordinarily accord to either of the terms in the phrase, is too kind by far and, in fact, appropriates to “theoretical” the same gloss of dubiety that the IDists love to fraudulaently conflate it with.

ID is indeed a theoretical hypothesis which argues that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. As such, the definitions seem quite straightforward with the following observations:

1. Design need not overlap with what one commonly considers to be design
2. The set ‘design’ may very well be empty or consist of false positives
3. Successful elimination with avoidance of false positives requires more information than typically available
4. Design cannot even compete with ‘we don’t know’
5. False positives are disastrous to ID since it is based on elimination and there exist no positive theories/hypotheses.

To argue that ID is inherently religious or not even scientific requires a bit more work than just a somewhat ivory tower-like statement that ID fails to be a theoretical hypothesis.
It gives IDers far too much ammunition and distracts from the real weaknesses of ID. In addition, it serves to strengthen the stereotype that ID critics are unwilling to even address the claims of ID.

Which is why I found Allen’s approach so ingenious.

Disclaimer: The above text may involve statements or assertions which are based on my personal observations or intuitions and for which I cannot provide supporting evidence beyond stating that these are my personal observations, feelings, emotions etc etc.

Comment #122217

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 23, 2006 5:14 PM (e)

“look beyond our own stereotypes”

Unfortunately, we seem to also have an innate system to infer stereotypes. It could be working with any design detector to “yield adaptive responses to complex environmental information”.

‘Ooops, there is a dangerous creationist. Quick, beat him with that ad hominem!”

Comment #122219

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

Pim, I read you as requesting that we extend to a statemtent prefaced by “I think” the same quality of conditionality that you failed to extend to Popper. I still don’t think you’re getting it.

You also continue to dwell on civility, while continuing your failure to recognize that that quality–whether otherwise desirable, in and of itself–fails to form any sort of meaningful or distinctive boundary between the “behavior” of pro-science and anti-science proponents.

Rudeness and insults are not equivalent to the logical fallacy of ad hominem. That this rather trivial point apparently still needs to be made to a frequent contributor to this site is disturbing, and suggests you are failing to make other necessary distinctions between mendacious and upright debating tactics.

I’m not on this thread to defend rude and insulting commenting behavior. You are welcome to indulge yourself in the belief–I’m tempted to term it “fantasy,” as perhaps Lenny might–that hard-core IDists are going to be persuaded away from their fixations by any amount of civility, logic, evidence, or argumentation. I would hope that most regular participants would have long since weaned themselves from that poorly-evidenced hope, but that’s of course a personal tactical choice.

For myself, I’m here to ridicule and expose inanity of the “argumentation” of the IDers–with light humor as much as possible, but with a heavier hand and an iron fist as may prove necessary–while politely discussing and civilly debating with all other takers. Whom I judge–based on any number of polls and prior discussions–to include a substantial number of mostly-silent, less-than-expert, curious, hoping-to-be-enlightened-and-entertained “unsure” and “undecided” onlookers and fence-straddlers.

You are welcome to your approach; I plan to stick to mine until proven wrong.

In the meantime, if you feel you have links to actual discussions on MacNeill’s blog with which to back up your assertions that determined IDiots, er, anti-evolution proponents have actually been swayed away from their positions, to any meaningful extent, by your policy of polite discussion and dissemination of correct information, then I’ll be delighted to peruse them.

And, if necessary, I’ll also then be willing to consume–if not delightedly, then at least doggedly till done–virtual hat.

Comment #122223

Posted by David B. Benson on August 23, 2006 5:36 PM (e)

Some comments on Allen MacNeil’s own hypothesis, and indirectly, his student:

After reading R. Dale Guthrie’s “Interpretation of Paleolithic Art”, I have little difficulty supposing that our remote ancestors found ‘purpose’ or ‘intent’ in all animate objects. First, of all, knowing the intent of lions or bison whilst on the Mammoth Steppe seems highly adaptive behavior. If memes evolve for ‘intent’ in the movement of trees in the wind, it seems little harm is done. So a form of primitive animism seems reasonable to posit.

I asked a nearby professor of anthropology regarding modern hunter-gatherers. He stated that most groups had little interest in the supernatural, but there were exceptions. Based on this, I conclude that most of our remote ancestors were perfectly capable of distinguishing the intent of other people and other animals from the non-intent of the wind blowing, etc.

Finally, ‘intent’ detection must be quite ancient. One certainly finds something similar in chimps, for example. It most assuredly did not evolve in connection with warfare. As Guthrie points out, there is no evidence of group violence or warfare before tribal (i.e., proto-agricultural times). Tribal times begin at most 12,000 years ago. That is too short a time for any significant human evolution to occur.

So, Allen MacNeill, not warfare!

Comment #122227

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster.

And the result of all that was ….?

Comment #122229

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

BTW, as an aside, it’s not at all surprising that IDers apparently avoided MacNeill’s class in dorves. After all, ID isn’t interested in the slightest in listening to their *own* crap in public school classrooms. What they want is to force everyone ELSE to listen to it.

Comment #122235

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 6:28 PM (e)

In the meantime, if you feel you have links to actual discussions on MacNeill’s blog with which to back up your assertions that determined IDiots, er, anti-evolution proponents have actually been swayed away from their positions, to any meaningful extent, by your policy of polite discussion and dissemination of correct information, then I’ll be delighted to peruse them.

I am not sure why you believe that I hold that position.

Popper

Perhaps this is the problem … Allan MacNeill doesn’t know what ID is.

Speculating again? Perhaps that’s the problem?

Comment #122236

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 23, 2006 6:40 PM (e)

We can be pretty sure, PvM, that speculations on my part are not the cause of the problem that no one in MacNeill’s seminar changed their minds.

Asshole.

Comment #122246

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

So, Allen MacNeill, not warfare!

I am rather curious what he would think of my Freeloader Hypothesis:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/the_…

From Comment #97678

Comment #122249

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 23, 2006 7:39 PM (e)

Asshole.

The Trackback from UD at the bottom of the page is starting to look a little ridiculous.

Comment #122251

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 7:47 PM (e)

Popper: We can be pretty sure, PvM, that speculations on my part are not the cause of the problem that no one in MacNeill’s seminar changed their minds.

Asshole.

We can be pretty sure that your comments are not going to convince much of anyone if you behave this way. Not that there seems to be much chance under any condition but that’s just my humble opinion.

Comment #122252

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Allen wrote:

As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster.

And the result of all that was ….?

Moving the goalposts? I can understand…

Remember that Allen responded to the following statement

“Allen is being unnecessarily accomodative of IDCs.”

Comment #122254

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 7:57 PM (e)

The Trackback from UD at the bottom of the page is starting to look a little ridiculous.

Not that it started off much better than that but I get your point.

Comment #122255

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2006 8:01 PM (e)

You might also check out some of Psychologist Margret Evans’ work at the University of Michigan including this:

Evans, E. M. (2001). Cognitive and contextual factors in the emergence of diverse belief systems: Creation versus evolution. Cognitive Psychology, 42, 217-266

pdfs are available at her site:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~evansem/

Man, I will never get any sleep this way. Good stuff

Comment #122257

Posted by Allen MacNeill on August 23, 2006 8:04 PM (e)

Re Comment #122223:

“So, Allen MacNeill, not warfare!”

I beg to differ. There is increasing evidence that warfare (or “warfare-like”) behavior extends much further back in time and in our phylogenetic line than previously supposed. See, for example:

Keeley, L. H. (1996) War before civilization, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 245 pp.

Kelly, R. C. (2000) Warless societies and the origin of war, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 192 pp.

LeBlanc, S. A. (2003) Constant battles; The myth of the peaceful, noble savage, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 271 pp.

and especially:

Wrangham, R. & Peterson, D. (1996) Demonic males; Apes and the origins of human violence, Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY, 350 pp.

(although Brian Ferguson would vehemently object)

The first three authors present recent archaeological data that indicates that nearly all human groups have experienced at least intermittent warfare since the mid-Pleistocene, while the last pair of authors present copious ethological data that such behavior predates our divergence from other hominids, perhaps as early as the Pliocene.

Furthermore, as I point out in my paper, warfare need not be constant to have an enormous (indeed, overwhelming) impact on reproductive success, as demonstrated by the demographic data collected by N. Chagnon among the Yanomami. Coupling this with the obvious adaptiveness of being able to intuit the motivations and impending actions of one’s conspecifics in a dominance hierarchy (such as those found in almost all of our close homind relatives and virtually all known human societies), and the adaptive value of an “agency detector” should be obvious. Moreover, it’s operation should be detectible via empirical means, as Boyer and Atran (among others) have recently been doing.

The relevence of all of this to ID should also be obvious: if we do indeed have a hypersensitive “agency detector” that is tuned in such a way as to produce frequent false positives, it is precisely such false positives that IDers usually point to as evidence for design in nature. To state the bleedin’ obvious, such “design” is quite literally a figment of their hypersensitive “agency detectors.”

Now, as to the relevence of all of this to religion, Atran, Boyer, Guthrie, and others have all published on the connections between such “agency detectors” and the tendency to find supernatural “agency” where there is no empirical evidence that such agency exists. According to this view, the capacity for religious experience is an epiphenomenon of the hypersensitivity of such detectors, compounded by the adaptive value (to certain, but not necessarily all individuals) of such hypersensitivity in highly stratified dominance hierarchies. Despite their many differences, all religions share some common features, which when viewed from this perspective all tend to intensify the effects of such agency detectors and produce false positives that can then be exploited by individuals at the top of dominance hierarchies. In other words, it is precisely through the operation of such innate “agency detectors” that “religious brainwashing” is facilitated. I have attempted to capture this reciprocal connection in what I not-so-modestly refer to as “MacNeill’s Law”:

Religion facilitates warfare, which facilitates religion

And as to the question of why not everyone seems to react in such ways, this is precisely what classical Darwinian/Fisherian evolutionary theory would predict. Natural selection works on traits that Fisher defined as “continuously variable;” that is, traits that approximate a normal distribution in a population of variable organisms. This would mean that, if selection had indeed moulded the “agency detector,” the distribution of such an adaptation among humans would approximate a normal distribution: that is, some people would have “agency dectectors” that rarely detected anything, most would have fairly effective detectors, and a few would show such a tendency to an extraordinary degree, finding “purpose” and “design” (i.e. “agency”) virtually everywhere.

Furthermore, as many of the empirical studies of such detectors indicate, the sensitivity of “agency detectors” can be altered by stress, and especially by chronic threat, to the point that people who would normally not be prone to finding “false positives” can, under certain stressful circumstances, begin to do so. Hence the aphorism “there are no atheists in the foxholes.”

And yes, I’ve seen Stephen Colbert’s commentary on that aphorism (http://www.salon.com/ent/video_dog/).

Comment #122273

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2006 8:46 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Allen wrote:

As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster.

And the result of all that was ….?

Moving the goalposts? I can understand…

Remember that Allen responded to the following statement

“Allen is being unnecessarily accomodative of IDCs.”

That wasn’t my goalpost, Pim. I don’t give a flying fig if he accomodates them or not. (shrug)

I want to know if his oh-so-polite scientific-education approach had any affect on any IDer. Did any IDer change his/her position as a result?

It sounds as if it didn’t.

I sure hate to say “I told you so”, but …. .

Comment #122276

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2006 9:10 PM (e)

Pim said this:

Exploring the shaky grounds on which complex specified information is built is far more helpful in convincing these IDers than about who said what and who was and was not telling the full truth.
I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.
Remember that up to this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.
Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID

and more recently said this:

If people are unwilling to look beyond our own stereotypes (IDiots, Creobots) then how can we even hope that we can reach effectively those who could benefit most from our contributions? If we could only present it to them without the ad hominems so typical on many of the boards run by ID critics. *** It’s this kind of rudeness that I find quite objectionable as it not only undermines the effectiveness of PT but also destroys much of any hope of reaching IDers who are willing to listen to the arguments.

but when I said this,

In the meantime, if you feel you have links to actual discussions on MacNeill’s blog with which to back up your assertions that determined IDiots, er, anti-evolution proponents have actually been swayed away from their positions, to any meaningful extent, by your policy of polite discussion and dissemination of correct information, then I’ll be delighted to peruse them.

Pim responded with this:

I am not sure why you believe that I hold that position.

Pim, really this is rather exasperating.

Are you now admitting–after repeatedly and plaintive expressing your hope that, with politeness and persistence you can get through to these people (not to mention rather testily enjoining the rest of us to desist from our counterproductive lack of civility)–that after all you don’t really hold out any such hope?

I’m sorry, but if you’re not flatly contradicting yourself here, then you’ve come as close as makes no difference.

Or maybe, after expending all these words and feelings, you’re actually not claiming to have said much of anything at all.

Comment #122281

Posted by alienward on August 23, 2006 9:28 PM (e)

Allen MacNeill wrote:

Not at all. As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster. I would hardly call that “accomodation.”

On the Evolution and Design blog, I had asked Hannah Maxson about IDEA not taking a position on the age of the earth. She claimed it was related to the topic of the thread and said I had to ask the question somewhere else. So I went to arn.org and started a thread titled “Hiding from the Age of the Earth”. Sal Cordova managed to get the thread moved to the Off-Topic forum, but that’s another story.

The question intelligent design theory seeks to answer is whether, supposing the earth was however old you want to imagine it, evolution could still have been responsible for all features of life as we know them today. So the age of the earth is irrelevant. It’s a question in a different field, and thus IDEA Clubs feel no urge to take a position on it.

IDEA Clubs on college campuses are science clubs, functionally equivalent to the Astronomy Club or Physics Students Society.

I have absolutely no respect for anyone who claims they’re in a science club while saying science is so unreliable their little “club” is not sure the earth is 10,000 or 4.5 billion years old so they don’t take a position on the age of the earth. Now, if we see Hannah and her little IDEA Club at Cornell decide not to be fundamentally anti-scientific and take a position on the age of the earth, then maybe Allen got through to Hannah…

Comment #122282

Posted by alienward on August 23, 2006 9:32 PM (e)

(Sorry, I screwed up in a ccouple of places so I need to repost)

Allen MacNeill wrote:

Not at all. As I’m sure Hannah could tell you, I attacked her position pretty relentlessly all summer, using as much evidence from evolutionary biology, mathematics, and philosophy as I could muster. I would hardly call that “accomodation.”

On the Evolution and Design blog, I had asked Hannah Maxson about IDEA not taking a position on the age of the earth. She claimed it wasn’t related to the topic of the thread and said I had to ask the question somewhere else. So I went to arn.org and started a thread titled “Hiding from the Age of the Earth”. Sal Cordova managed to get the thread moved to the Off-Topic forum, but that’s another story. Hannah was kind enough to respond and replied:

The question intelligent design theory seeks to answer is whether, supposing the earth was however old you want to imagine it, evolution could still have been responsible for all features of life as we know them today. So the age of the earth is irrelevant. It’s a question in a different field, and thus IDEA Clubs feel no urge to take a position on it.

IDEA Clubs on college campuses are science clubs, functionally equivalent to the Astronomy Club or Physics Students Society.

I have absolutely no respect for anyone who claims they’re in a science club while saying science is so unreliable their little “club” is not sure the earth is 10,000 or 4.5 billion years old so they don’t take a position on the age of the earth. Now, if we see Hannah and her little IDEA Club at Cornell decide not to be fundamentally anti-scientific and take a position on the age of the earth, then maybe Allen got through to Hannah…

Comment #122292

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 23, 2006 11:33 PM (e)

alienward:

While I agree that Hannah’s actions wasn’t part of a relentless attack, and broke Allen’s moderation rule, it makes sense from an YEC view since they are already fundamentally anti-scientific. If evolution ‘can be disproved’ it is one less verification of an old earth. Divide and conquer. (I liked Allen’s theory on religion and warfare. So I may as well adopt war idioms for discussing creationism in case they listen in.)

Comment #122293

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 23, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

“and broke Allen’s moderation rule”

Uuups, it was comments not emails of course. No broken rule.

Comment #122297

Posted by k.e. on August 24, 2006 12:33 AM (e)

STJ is right, this is a trainwreck.

Can I make a suggestion.

A new thread focusing on the psychology/religion/war intent detector .

As far as the success/failure of MacNeil’s course I keep hearing ‘no one changed their minds (plural)’

When only one ‘confessing’ IDer showed up.
What were the rest ‘theistic evolutionists’?

Let me tell you what my definition of an IDer is.
1. An American Political and Religious Conservative so called ‘Christian Fundamentalist’ whose political affiliation aligns with the support behind the DI, Howard Ahmenson etc., it is ‘Identity Politics’.(that’s the power source)
2. People who find supporting that group, beneficial to their own political identity for one reason or other.

Why did Hannah Maxson accept an invitation? Well color me cynical but , and I’m going out on a limb here so take aim, I SUSPECT her INTENT… that with a name like that, Americas foreign policy, which is supported by the rapturists, may benefit her political aims.Take that cold cup of reality.

The complete red herring that ID is somehow ‘science’ is just arrant nonsense, it is crude social engineering supported by hard line political Straussian conservatives dressed up as big tent question begging of the first order.

Nothing more than a completely cynical attempt to push ‘progressive’ religion AND any firm test for objective truth aka. Darwinism off the political map.

I understand that the nasty ‘low art of politics’ is beneath the good professor who seems genuinely to be trying to uncover the ‘known unknown’ in a purely honest scientific sense….er hello…. politics is all about the big lie.

Fish didn’t discover water.

If you want to define ID as big tent question begging of the first order then call it something else.

How about BTQBotFO?

Sure it isn’t as sexy as ID …it takes out the word ID (identity) and you wouldn’t have blow hards like Hannah (or Sal) showing up which might be less interesting pathologically unless L.H.O.O.Q.

By all means, purge the political face slapping from BTQBotFO, dismiss Dawkin’s and Johnson’s polemics and the ranting crowd, the silence may aid thought.

Allen if you want a shortcut to war peace and mythology I suggest reading Chapter 9 of J Campbell’s Myths to Live by. “Mythologies of War and Peace.” ….Man is a Beast of PrayPrey.

Comment #122369

Posted by wamba on August 24, 2006 8:54 AM (e)

IDEA Clubs on college campuses are science clubs, functionally equivalent to the Astronomy Club or Physics Students Society.

It’s amazing how a few little spelling errors like that can confuse things. Clearly they must have meant Astrology and Psychics.

Comment #122396

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 24, 2006 11:20 AM (e)

Clearly they must have meant Astrology and Psychics.

But would they?

Behe clearly made the case that those studies are sciences.

Comment #122416

Posted by Raging Bee on August 24, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

IDEA Clubs on college campuses are science clubs, functionally equivalent to the Astronomy Club or Physics Students Society.

Actually, they’re more “functionally equivalent” to the Flat Earth Club, the Phrenology Club, the “Holocaust? What Holocaust?” Club, or the Global Warming Denial Club.

Comment #122428

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 24, 2006 1:22 PM (e)

Look, IDEA Club chapters don’t allow non-Christians to be officers. They are “functionally equivalent” to campus ministries, and have no similarities whatever to science clubs.

Comment #122441

Posted by alienward on August 24, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Actually, they’re more “functionally equivalent” to the Flat Earth Club, the Phrenology Club, the “Holocaust? What Holocaust?” Club, or the Global Warming Denial Club.

It gets even better. Hannah Maxson, the Cornell IDEA Club cheerleader, says:

The question intelligent design theory seeks to answer is whether, supposing the earth was however old you want to imagine it, evolution could still have been responsible for all features of life as we know them today. So the age of the earth is irrelevant. It’s a question in a different field, and thus IDEA Clubs feel no urge to take a position on it.

And now a word from Hannah’s sponsor, the IDEA Center (“Our primary focus is to help students from “IDEA Clubs” on university and high school campuses.”):

Table 2. Predictions of Design (Hypothesis):

(2) Forms will be found in the fossil record that appear suddenly and without any precursors.

Table 3. Examining the Evidence (Experiment and Conclusion):

Line of Evidence Data (Experiment) Prediction of Design Met? (Conclusion)

(2) Fossil Record Biological complexity (i.e. new species) tend to appear in the fossil record suddenly and without any similar precursors. The Cambrian explosion is a prime example. Yes.

One has to be either dishonest or incompetent (or both) to try and claim the age of the earth is irrelevant to ID while claiming it makes the above prediction. And MacNeill is just as incompetent to have this kind of person moderate his blog. That club on the Cornell campus is not the IDEA Club, it’s the Liars Club.

Comment #122443

Posted by N.Wells on August 24, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

Flint said, “For the record, I’ll stipulate that in my experience Salvador has been invariably polite in saying things known to be false, carefully misinterpreting good questions, or changing the subject. Most of all, his total silence when no good evasions or distortions present themselves are utterly free of the slightest abrasiveness - unless you are so think-skinned as to be peeved when Salvador subsequently pops up elsewhere to repeat exactly what he would not answer you about. Politely, of course.”

That nails Salvador’s behavior exactly: extreme politeness covering imperviousness to contrary evidence. At the very best, you might win a polite retreat, but usually you get his squid act: release of a huge cloud of ink for the purpose of confusion, followed by a sideways run through any nearby thicket of jargon and obfuscation. Then exactly the same wrong arguments re-appear somewhere else, or in the same place much later on. I’ve no doubt his politeness looks very good to novice spectators, but PvM and Dr. MacNeil would do well to remember Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the art of diplomacy as “how to be disarming when your country isn’t”. So, I regretfully agree with Lenny, that MacNeill’s “idea that he can change IDers by being polite to them and patiently educating them, is laughably naive. Maybe he can try that strategy as well with, say, Nazis or Leninists or Klansmen. I doubt it’ll do any better.”

I’m not claiming that rudeness works any better on opponents in head-to-head arguments, because as far as I can see from experience over at ARN and elsewhere, nothing makes the slightest impression on them, not facts, not scorn, not facing their own hideous mistakes, not anything. One can only hope to win over any spectators by turning the IDist into a figure of ridicule and presenting a clear demonstration of the facts.

Comment #122444

Posted by David B. Benson on August 24, 2006 2:06 PM (e)

Allen MacNeill — Thank you for the references. I reiterate that R. Dale Guthrie found no evidence of group violence or warfare in Pleistocene art. There is ample evidence of murder. I doubt that you need more than this for the rest of your account.

Comment #122450

Posted by ofro on August 24, 2006 2:27 PM (e)

N.Wells:
“I’m not claiming that rudeness works any better on opponents in head-to-head arguments, because as far as I can see from experience over at ARN and elsewhere ….”

I like the way Tom English is dealing with the issues at UD. He counters arguments in a calm and factual manner and doesn’t threaten, like DaveScot just did, what he would do “If I had been feeling less kind“ (followed by being less kind). Of course, Tom English won’t convince the hardliners. However, a lot of people are logging on to UD who are not contributors but may be just curious, and many will understand that he is the one with the more logical argument. His comments give me as much satisfaction as a good flame on this site.

Which approach is better, I don’t know, and we may never know.

Comment #122475

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 24, 2006 4:05 PM (e)

I would dearly love to mistreat no more virtual horses, buuutt, at the risk of Barbaroing whatever few equines remain a-hoof,

(while also adroitly segueing from one metaphor to another)

I’d like to get out the mobile cranes and attempt to deconstruct Sir_Toejam’a trainwreck one last time:

Agency. Prof. MacNeill clearly knows the science that underlies the evo-creo “debate,” just as he clearly keeps close tabs on the “agency” science (I read “Demonic Males” years ago now, and agree with him that it serves up critical and cautionary data). But he seems not to have acknowledged what strike me as valid points from Popper’s Ghost regarding Dennett-on-agency, not to mention the narrower (and arguably more firmly-established) facial-recognition “module” studies that, to my mind, more parsimoniously account for some of MacNeill’s student’s pattern-agency-design examples.

(In general, Popper’s contributions to the discussion have been undervalued, due to an overemphasis on…)

Civility. Again, politeness and civility are undoubtedly social goods in many contexts. If one is going to stoop to engage with firmly-indoctrinated IDers in a classroom setting–or on a narrow-topic, individually-moderated blog that springs out of a classroom setting, settings in which direct personality conflicts would otherwise be distressing to manage–a case can be made for establishing firm Rules of Engagement and for enforcing those rules via strict and even-handed moderation.

(As has frequently been noted here, the same would be recommended anytime one is tempted to succumb to the urge to “debate” IDiots, particularly the slick, well-practiced, canard-a-moment professional scam artists: insist upon firm Rules of Engagement, standards by which claims will be judged, vigorous neutral moderation, etc. Something quite like, oh, refereed science journals, formal courtrooms with their judges, bailiffs, and evidentiary rules–that kind of thing.)

But civility must not be exalted above all other virtues, particularly in venues like this one, where the reigning virtues are logic, evidence, and honesty, and where a considerable degree of free-wheeling rough’n’tumble discussion is not only permitted, but encouraged. Moderation here is lax to non-existent, participation is unrestricted and essentially global in breadth, and banning is resisted and reserved for the most egregious instances of repeated abuse.

In short, we don’t coddle IDers here–if they fail to adhere to logic, present evidence, and modify their positions when logic and evidence reasonably require it, they may expect to be called on it. Heck, there are times when we can’t manage to be civil to one another, particularly when one faction or the other becomes convinced that pre-commitment to unexamined assumptions has overruled logic or evidence.

Which isn’t to say that the occasional non-troll who wanders into our woods with a sincere desire to learn–even if brandishing ignorant, confused, or fraudently-implanted concepts or concerns–shouldn’t be given a fair hearing. If anything, this courtesy is extended for far longer than it deserves to be (I still wince to think of the amount of patient explanation and effort that was poured into the black hole of Larry Fafarman, for instance.)

Which brings us to–

Efficacy. Again, I’m not here to throw doubt on Prof. MacNeill’s or Pim’s sincerity or qualifications. If they wish to adhere to personal standards of politesse far more stringent and unwavering than mine–even when, in my view, they ought to have every reason to suspect the motivations and sincerity of such as Maxwell and Cordova–then, fine, no problem.

But to link these standards of personal-professional civility with hoped-for outcomes, as it still seems to me Pim has rather explicity done–that is, to claim that, by merely layering unfailing civility onto the effort of communicating the truth about the history, the evidence, and the science behind the evolution-creation struggle–that some significantly greater success will be achieved in bridging this yawning cultural-philosophical-religious-political gap, then nothing conveyed here about either the seminar or the blog suggests to me that this claim has been supported.

Only two committed IDers attended the seminar. I don’t know how Prof. MacNeill ran things, but it would appear that neither of these individuals had any meaningful academic outcome (grades or credits) at risk. Neither changed their minds about anything very significant, though I continue to accept the professor’s personal observations that some glacial movement was detected and that seeds of doubt may have been sown.

I’m not saying the effort should be abandoned, or was for naught (though Lenny might well), but I hope that any further efforts along these lines are re-tooled. In particular, committed IDers should be required to be just as much “at risk” with regard to learning the material, performing graded coursework, papers, and tests, etc., and defending any claims advanced according to explicit standards and criteria, as anyone else participating in or enrolled in the seminar. (Though my own prediction would be that the experience will then attract even fewer takers with prior ID convictions.)

Claims of ID. Various contributors to the thread have effectively communicated that there is a legitimate scientific controversy around the concepts of micro/macro-evolution. But that controversy does not use those terms in the way that IDers do, which is patently bogus. Dr. MacNeill has not clearly associated his one participant’s movement toward acceptance of “microevolution” and openness toward the possibility of “macroevolution” with the real–as opposed to the bogus–terms, so I continue regard that claim of “progress” as illusory.

I couldn’t follow Pim’s gobbledygook with regard to the professor’s claim that ID’s “theoretical hypotheses” have been confined to some list of peripheral matters.

ID is scientifically vacuous, as Pim has demonstrated himself on multiple occasions: it doesn’t have any consistent explanatory theory which accounts for a broad set of observations and data; it doesn’t even have meaningful hypotheses. What ID–and its religious precursors–have is a rag-bag collection of logical fallacies, arguments from ignorance and incredulity, fraudulent and debunked critiques of evolution, and a few positive claims, along the lines of those advanced by Dembski and Behe, that are trivial to scientifically refute.

That it requires some application of science to refute these psuedo-scientific claims does not convert them into “theoretical hypotheses,” and extending this charitable terminology to such claims will lead to no good, and potential ill.

Conclusion. Pim and the professor are nice and knowledgeable folks, with a sincere desire to cast light into the shadows where ID festers. So far, though, they seem to underestimate the intractability of the foe and overestimate the potency of “civility.” As a result, they seem to have have not yet discerned some of the apparent results of this experiment. That’s no reason to throw in the towel, though it may be a good reason to do some serious tinkering with the experimental design.

I congratulate them on their past efforts and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Comment #122589

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2006 10:24 PM (e)

May I suggest, for the next ID course, that the final exam, upon which everyone’s entire grade would be based, consist solely of two questions:

(1) please state the scientific theory of ID/creationism

(2) please list all successfully tested predictions made from this theory

Anyone who does not turn in a blank paper, flunks.

Comment #122594

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 24, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

Stevepinhead:
Nicely done.

“That it requires some application of science to refute these psuedo-scientific claims does not convert them into “theoretical hypotheses,” and extending this charitable terminology to such claims will lead to no good, and potential ill.”

Actually, I believe I have seen most of those claim been refuted as illdefined, so they can’t be called hypotheses, at least aposteriori.

At least IC, SCI (Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math) and EF (Elsberry et al at Talkreason?) have each a good explanation of their illdefined nature IIRC. [Which BTW means that one doesn’t really need to discuss each particular ‘IC’ candidate, as I see so often.]

Note:
No metaphores were hurt or killed during this comment.

Comment #122599

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on August 24, 2006 11:17 PM (e)

“[Which BTW means that one doesn’t really need to discuss each particular ‘IC’ candidate, as I see so often.]”

Perhaps need explanation: Behe’s subtractive IC *seems* welldefined, but we all know exaptations and scaffolding destroys that. Chu-Carroll has made a simple and general proof based on algorithmic theory. [In effect, IC is a search for simplicity, which is algorithmically illdefined… due to things like scaffolding et cetera.]

Comment #122646

Posted by N.Wells on August 25, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

Allen, in response to your last comment, Ms. Broaddus’ paper is nice and well-written, but I think part of the lack of specific response is that there isn’t much to say about it. Dan pretty much said it all in the first comment after your post on her paper at your website.

However, if you’d like a comment, here’s mine. Ms. Broaddus pulls together a decent variety of evidence, more than I’ve seen in one place anyway, but the same basic points get made whenever there’s a discussion of the “face” on Mars, or discoveries of faces of Jesus or the Virgin Mary in peeling paint, mouldy walls, or old bagels. We know that humans extrapolate and interpolate like crazy when interpreting what they see (as most optical illusions demonstrate), and it’s pretty basic that humans when young or in prescientific tribes have been quick to find volition and personality in floods, storms, and all other aspects of nature. Any bull session on religion should cover that pretty quickly. Humans are truly a pattern-finding animal, and doing science is merely putting some constraints on that process and tying to keep it from derailing. That even the best of scientists can hare off into crankdom irrationality is not news (heck, it’s almost a tradition). This is recognized in the comment that the scientific method is everything and anything that makes science scientist-proof.

The stuff on autism and macaque brains was news to me, and adds to the picture, but as it supports my predilections and its out of my field I’m not disposed to add to it, question it, or dispute it.

I note that while you are correct about the lack of response to your students’ papers, Panda’s Thumb participants do in fact pay a lot of attention to evidence for and against evolution. Many posts consist of announcements and discussions of new findings. However, people on this site also spend a lot of time analyzing creationist & IDist arguments, actions, and motivations (gossipping about social news & interactions is another major human activity, albeit not one of the proudest, you may have noticed), and I fear your post provoked the latter aspect of the site rather than the former.

Comment #122649

Posted by N.Wells on August 25, 2006 9:11 AM (e)

Sorry, my post was a reaction to an earlier comment by Dr. MacNeill (about the lack of substantive response to Broaddus’ paper), not to his most recent comment.

Comment #122663

Posted by ivy privy on August 25, 2006 9:53 AM (e)

Look, IDEA Club chapters don’t allow non-Christians to be officers. They are “functionally equivalent” to campus ministries, and have no similarities whatever to science clubs.

That information is out of date. The IDEA Center changed that rule early in 2006.

Comment #122700

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 25, 2006 1:07 PM (e)

ivy privy wrote:

That information is out of date. The IDEA Center changed that rule early in 2006.

While you are correct, and thanks for the link, it might be closer to the truth to say that they changed the wording of that rule somewhat to make it less glaringly obvious that they’re running a campus ministry under the guise of a science club.

Comment #122769

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2006 5:18 PM (e)

One wonders how many IDEA Club officers they can point to who are, um, not Christians …. .

Comment #122945

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 26, 2006 7:36 AM (e)

May I suggest, for the next ID course, that the final exam, upon which everyone’s entire grade would be based, consist solely of two questions:

(1) please state the scientific theory of ID/creationism

(2) please list all successfully tested predictions made from this theory

Anyone who does not turn in a blank paper, flunks.

That’s not fair, Lenny.

For example, I would probably turn in a satirical piece. You’re not giving your students a chance to flourish! Won’t you PLEASE give them a chance?!

Comment #123064

Posted by John Stone on August 26, 2006 7:20 PM (e)

From deep down in the nether recesses I think that the word for seing animals or humans in clouds or other natural formations is nephelococcygia ….

Comment #123065

Posted by John Stone on August 26, 2006 7:20 PM (e)

From deep down in the nether recesses I think that the word for seing animals or humans in clouds or other natural formations is nephelococcygia ….

Comment #123098

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 26, 2006 9:48 PM (e)

steviepinhead wrote:

But he seems not to have acknowledged what strike me as valid points from Popper’s Ghost regarding Dennett-on-agency

Quite so. I’ve just now been listening to a talk by Dennett in which he deconstructs religion (and explains why ID is “a hoax, to put it politely”):

http://www.naturalism.org/av_files.htm#Dennett

He explains how religious belief originates in agency-detection; about halfway through the talk he says “… we have this hair-trigger agent-detector …”. And what agent is he referring to? A talking tree.

This idea of a facility that detects agency on a “hair-trigger” is not new, the idea that it’s an adaptation is not new, and the idea that such detectors are “modules” is not new, even if it’s all new to MacNeill.

Comment #123101

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 26, 2006 9:57 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

We can be pretty sure that your comments are not going to convince much of anyone if you behave this way.

Nothing, including facts or reason, from me or anyone else, was even swaying PvM, let alone convincing him, which was the point of the (accurate) word. And I wasn’t the first to use it in this thread, but he had nothing to say about the previous instance. Steviepinhead’s comments about civility are well worth considering. Charges of incivility are ad hominem, especially as they have been used in this discussion; they have been employed as a means of deflecting critical comment and attacking the messenger.

Comment #123104

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 26, 2006 10:19 PM (e)

It’s notable that Hannah Maxson’s description of ID “theory”:

The question intelligent design theory seeks to answer is whether, supposing the earth was however old you want to imagine it, evolution could still have been responsible for all features of life as we know them today.

is not the same as what Allen MacNeill says is the view that the participants in his seminar have of it (even assuming that Phillip Johnson’s polemic is “not ID”):

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum)

Of course, she misstates her own version of ID; so called “intelligent design theory” is an activity, not a “theory”, and the goal is not to seek an answer, but rather to deny that evolution could have been responsible for the features of life, primarily with the aim of implying that an “intelligent designer” – aka “God” – must have been involved. The notion that ID is “an entirely theoretical hypothesis” is – pardon me for being impolite – utter hogwash.

Comment #123109

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 26, 2006 10:51 PM (e)

Look, IDEA Club chapters don’t allow non-Christians to be officers. They are “functionally equivalent” to campus ministries, and have no similarities whatever to science clubs.

They changed that in the by-laws, to make it easier for their campus ministries to pretend to be science clubs.

MacNeill’s seminar strikes me a bit like a seminar on the Holocaust where Holocaust deniers are given equal time (including co-moderation of the blog), but all the swastikas and uniforms are hidden and the anti-semitic literature is dismissed as polemics (“that isn’t Holocaust denial”), leaving nothing but “an entirely hypothetical hypothesis”.

Comment #123112

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 26, 2006 11:02 PM (e)

“an entirely hypothetical hypothesis”.

funny, but in my entirely “uncivil” caveman club, we would have called that “mental masturbation”.

Comment #123123

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 26, 2006 11:36 PM (e)

funny

Funny? I am never intentionally funny! (So some here probably think.) I of course meant “an entirely theoretical hypothesis”, the same as MacNeill’s “polite” mischaracterization of IDiocy.

“mental masturbation”

No, no, it’s “come to God”.

Comment #123124

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 26, 2006 11:39 PM (e)

you say potatoE…

;)

Comment #123139

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 1:20 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

Charges of incivility are ad hominem, especially as they have been used in this discussion; they have been employed as a means of deflecting critical comment and attacking the messenger.

Like calling someone an asshole eh Popper. You’re funny… Arguing against yourself…

Other than that, your claim seems mostly unsupported. Looking forward to an expanded argument.

Comment #123141

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 1:24 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

MacNeill’s seminar strikes me a bit like a seminar on the Holocaust where Holocaust deniers are given equal time (including co-moderation of the blog), but all the swastikas and uniforms are hidden and the anti-semitic literature is dismissed as polemics (“that isn’t Holocaust denial”), leaving nothing but “an entirely hypothetical hypothesis”.

Nice ad hominem. Of course, comparing the seminar to the holocaust did not serve at all to distract from the discussion now did it.
Patheric my dear Ghost. IMHO of course. But I understand that when lacking logic and reason, all that may be left is a validation of Godwin’s law

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. [1]

Comment #123142

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 1:26 AM (e)

Oh and Popper, remind us again of the extent of your familiarity with the seminar? Or was it just an argument from ignorance? So what aspect caused you to perceive this ‘similarity’ with holocaust deniers? Perhaps we may explore the problems people have with an overactive perception… After all, that’s what the thread used to be about.

Comment #123149

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 1:51 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

I of course meant “an entirely theoretical hypothesis”, the same as MacNeill’s “polite” mischaracterization of IDiocy.

Cool, name calling and an unsupported assertion. Not bad, even for you. Perhaps you care to expand on your comments?

Shiva wrote:

Just as some hostages after a long period in captivity rationalise the actions of their captors, Allen is being unnecessarily accomodative of IDCs.

A poor analogy but nevertheless I see your point. You believe that Allen is unnecessaruly accomodative of IDC. Nothing wrong with beliefs, it’s just that this is a very subjective assertion. So perhaps we can explore if 1) Allen is accomodative of IDCs 2) if such is unnecessary.

Lenny Frank wrote:

It sounds as if it didn’t.

I sure hate to say “I told you so”, but …. .

His track record could not be worse than yours really. Lenny’s boring and repetitive comments even start to turn away evolution supporters. But it may feel to Lenny as a victory, who knows.

Steve wrote:

In the meantime, if you feel you have links to actual discussions on MacNeill’s blog with which to back up your assertions that determined IDiots, er, anti-evolution proponents have actually been swayed away from their positions, to any meaningful extent, by your policy of polite discussion and dissemination of correct information, then I’ll be delighted to peruse them.

Pim responded with this:

I am not sure why you believe that I hold that position.

Pim, really this is rather exasperating.

Are you now admitting–after repeatedly and plaintive expressing your hope that, with politeness and persistence you can get through to these people (not to mention rather testily enjoining the rest of us to desist from our counterproductive lack of civility)–that after all you don’t really hold out any such hope?

I’m sorry, but if you’re not flatly contradicting yourself here, then you’ve come as close as makes no difference.

Or maybe, after expending all these words and feelings, you’re actually not claiming to have said much of anything at all.

Again you are conflating various concepts. One is about the effect on the few IDers in Allen’s course, one is about the larger picture of how to deal with the issue of ID and the realization that there are many different aspects and players. Perhaps it would be helpful if you start to understand the perhaps too subtle differences between the effectiveness of Allen’s course and how to convince IDers that they have been misled.
As I explained, all I can contribute here is my experience as an ex-YECer who was in the end swayed by the hard cold arguments, not by the name calling or other approaches and methods which are certain to scare away most any self respecting IDer.

If people cannot distinguish between the leadership of the ID movement and it supporters and adherents then we are in a lot of trouble.
If arguments from YEC can be made to sound convincing, would you think that calling YECers anti-science or whatever other name does a lot to convince those under the spell of YECism? Or do you think that there may be some (how many I am not sure) who can be swayed by rational arguments, exposing in detail what is flawed with YEC?
That’s how Talkorigins is working (at least the website), that is how PT is attempting to contribute to people’s understanding of the scientific vacuity of ID. Merely dismissing ID as ‘unscientific’ or ‘religiously motivated’ is merely going to reinforce the stereotype. Perhaps few IDers can be convinced by rational arguments but I argue that even fewer are willing to listen to or accept the blanket statement that “ID is stupid” or whatever variant one may imagine (IDiot etc etc).

So perhaps you can help me understand how Allen’s seminar can provide us with a meaningful sample here?
What I have argued is that Allen’s approach seems very reasonable and quite imaginative. I can understand why some hard core ID critics would refuse any form of ‘compromise’ and I have to accept such a position. My position however is that there is a time and place for certain approaches and when it comes to convincing IDers of the follies of their position, Allen’s course seems to have a lot to offer while giving little away that would strengthen ID’s position. Sure, some uninformed IDers may claim that Cornell has validated ID, big deal. Makes for another great myth to expose.

My position is simple that the “Lenny Frank”-like approach to ID may have its place and time but in most cases, it’s annoying even to ID critics/evolution supporters and very counterproductive. But I guess, every side needs a Sal in some form or manner :-)

Of course, politeness should not be confused with vigorous arguments either.
Hope this helps clarify some of my positions.

Comment #123151

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 2:03 AM (e)

Registered User wrote:

Do you seriously believe (as Allen appears to believe) that Sal and Hannah are “innately” predisposed to behave like schmucks?

Sigh… Nice strawman as well as a claim about Allen’s ‘beliefs’ which I find hard to support given the evidence presented so far. Who cares about Sal and Hannah? Well, Hannah seems to be somewhat open to listening, but the response seems often similar to Sal’s, change the topic.

As far as your strawman is concerned, perhaps you should read more carefully what both I and Allen have said. And I am sure that you understand what the term predisposed means?

Oh yes, back to Sal and Hannah, as I said, who cares about them… Was the seminar for Hannah or Sal? What does the ‘average’ ID proponent look like, compare this to those in ID leadership positions…
We can’t all be ‘popes’ or ‘cardinals’… to use a poor but hopefully elucidating analogy.

Comment #123153

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 2:11 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

Of course, she misstates her own version of ID; so called “intelligent design theory” is an activity, not a “theory”, and the goal is not to seek an answer, but rather to deny that evolution could have been responsible for the features of life, primarily with the aim of implying that an “intelligent designer” – aka “God” – must have been involved. The notion that ID is “an entirely theoretical hypothesis” is – pardon me for being impolite – utter hogwash

Intelligent design is very much a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. Popper seems to confuse the definition of ID with the motivations of ID or the actions of ID proponents when it comes to denying that Darwinian evolution could have been responsible for all the features of life. It always help to be sufficiently specific about ID’s claims, even though it may be sometimes hard to find a common denominator.

As I said before, garbage in, garbage out.

As I explained before, the ID hypothesis has many flaws and short comings but to argue that this is no a scientific hypothesis is like saying that young earth creationism is a priori unscientific. It’s in fact the vaste evidence against a young earth which makes its claims scientifically wrong. Claiming that ID is not a scientific hypothesis and that’s it, only serves to strengthen the stereotypes of how ID critics ‘argue’. Surely there must be better ways?..

Comment #123154

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 2:34 AM (e)

let’s see Pim…

correct me at any point if I’m incorrect in the details:

the IDEA club was essentially promoted on the Cornell campus by Sal, right?

Hana currently runs the IDEA club, yes?

who do you think will be in the ID “leadership” when these folks “grow up”, eh? Sal certainly seems to be working his little tail off to become part of the “leadership”.

Have you taken a look at the “arguments” Dembski posted wrt the Kennedy program on the darwin-hitler connection? How would you characterize those arguments?
what makes Hannah or Sal’s arguments any better or worse than the current ID “leadership”?

their civility?

who cares about them

you sure seemed to in the past (Sal anyway, at least), so the idiocy and lies they spew all over the internet, in interviews on the coral ridge hour or what have you aren’t important at all eh? Or did you mean their input wasn’t important for the course in specific? One might ask if we should care about the books by behe and dembski used in the course as well then, seems to me.

If you meant in the more general sense, then I suppose Coulter isn’t important either, since the ideas in her books are entirely piffle, and she is far from “civil”, right?

oh wait, that’s right, her books are on the bestseller list.

Was the seminar for Hannah or Sal?

that’s a good question, still. regardless of what you “think” the course objectives were, they obviously DID intend to include input from IDers, and come to some “clarity” based on input from the agreed upon “course materials”.

so answer your own question:

was the course for Hannah? Was the course in ANY way intended to influence IDers? How much of the course consisted of the interchange on the forum site, in reality?

do be clear, as it still ISN’T clear what the course objectives actually were, nor what objective results were obtained, if any, other than some subjective sense of “civility is important in discussion”, and the typical Cornell student isn’t influenced by the work of Dembski and Behe.

What DOES the “average” IDer look like, I wonder, Pim?

If you don’t consider Sal or Hannah examples of such, who do you consider a good example of an “average” ID supporter?

I don’t agree with everything popper has to say on this thread (almost guaranteed, since he had so much to say ;) ), but he’s been spot on at times, and I really see you and Allen both refer to him more like a troll than actually “civilly” attempt to address the points he raises.

Popper is no troll, he’s been hanging about PT in various guises for quite a while now, and his insights, while often presented in a completely abrasive fashion, are also just as often quite insightful.

I still don’t think this particular thread is the best place to address Allen’s course, as I don’t think that was your intended topic to begin with, which was interesting in and of itself, and I did attempt to discuss with you before the many themes this thread was attempting to address turned it into a trainwreck.

I resurrected a thread in ATBC where we first began discussing the course before it even started, and would certainly welcome your contributions there, where we can be as uncivil as we like, and the topic is entirely about Allen’s course.

so, if you choose to adress anything I’ve written in this post, you can address them there, if you prefer, oh here, if you don’t wish to try to resurrect the actual original topic of your thread any more.

cheers.

Comment #123155

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 2:38 AM (e)

As I explained before, the ID hypothesis has many flaws and short comings but to argue that this is no a scientific hypothesis is like saying that young earth creationism is a priori unscientific.

as Jon Stewart might say… “Whaaaa?”

that sure conflicts with the vacuous nature of ID in every aspect thinkable you have liberally painted here on PT for the past year or so.

Are you running some “ingenious” experiment here, Pim?

spill it.

Comment #123163

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:17 AM (e)

Popper is no troll, he’s been hanging about PT in various guises for quite a while now, and his insights, while often presented in a completely abrasive fashion, are also just as often quite insightful.

PvM, OTOH, is trolling his own thread. It’s remarkable how many of his allies he managed to alienate with his ongoing intellectual dishonesty.

Comment #123166

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:20 AM (e)

Like calling someone an asshole eh Popper. You’re funny… Arguing against yourself…

Do you really not know the difference between an insult and an ad hominem argument? It really seems as if some stooge has gotten ahead of PvM’s keyboard.

Comment #123168

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:21 AM (e)

Make that “ahold”.

Comment #123171

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 3:27 AM (e)

to tell you the truth, popper, I haven’t a clue what’s going on in this thread any more.

I can’t recall Pim posting anything remotely resembling the kinds of things I’ve seen in this particular thread before.

something’s up, and if he isn’t going to spill the beans, then I can’t see the point in further attempts to communicate on any of the topics being discussed in this thread.

I came back, hoping there might be reason to untangle this mess, but it just keeps gettin stranger and stranger.

Comment #123172

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:28 AM (e)

Nice ad hominem. Of course, comparing the seminar to the holocaust did not serve at all to distract from the discussion now did it.

Are you entirely clueless? That analogy was not, by any stretch of the imagination, “ad hominem”. As for “distracting from the discussion”, your moronic blather about it being ad hominem is a distraction – it doesn’t address the substance of what I wrote. If you had a drop of intellectual honesty, you would at least make an attempt to explain what’s improper about the analogy. But you continually avoid the substance and make everything personal. As I said before, any foibles on my part have no bearing on what that seminar did or did not achieve. But all you can manage is “Popper this” and “Popper that”. That is pathetic.

Comment #123175

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:30 AM (e)

I can’t recall Pim posting anything remotely resembling the kinds of things I’ve seen in this particular thread before.

It seems to be ego defense at all cost. It wouldn’t have been evident when he was bashing the bad guys and thus had everyone here on his side.

Comment #123177

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:34 AM (e)

Intelligent design is very much a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Is PvM now channeling Dembski? That’s his incoherent definition of ID – no one honest and respectable argues that that’s what intelligent design “is”.

Comment #123178

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:41 AM (e)

Nice ad hominem. Of course, comparing the seminar to the holocaust did not serve at all to distract from the discussion now did it.

Hmmm, I didn’t read this properly before; I guess I didn’t imagine that anyone could say something that stupid. I did not, of course, compare the seminar to the holocaust. Even if that isn’t what he meant to write, that still leaves us with someone incapable of properly expressing simple ideas having taken over PvM’s keyboard.

Comment #123180

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 3:44 AM (e)

You know, I think you might be right about the impersonation.

I really have NEVER seen Pim say anything like that before. ever.

it’s completely antithetical to any argument on ID he has presented within the last year.

Is there any way to find out if someone has grabbed Pim’s account?

really. go back to any thread posted by pim with the word “vacuous” in the title.

There you will find him stepwise dismantling any resemblance to actual science ID claims to make.

there is somethig very fishy here, and it’s not my study subjects.

Comment #123181

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:47 AM (e)

P.S. What I did compare is ID to Holocaust denial. And I’m not the first person at PT to have done so. Bizarrely, PvM considers this comparison to be “ad hominem”, and a failure to employ reason and logic, which is itself a complete abdication of reason and logic.

Comment #123185

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 3:57 AM (e)

Indeed, the second (my mouse slipped) google hit for pim+vacuous is

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/vien…

where he writes “the Intelligent Design Creationism movement”, “the realization that Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous”, “Evolution is open to scientific criticism, of course much of the ‘criticisms’ raised by ID is often based on ignorance or an incomplete portrayal or understanding of present day scientific theory and hypotheses”, and “some have used the philosophical position to argue for a ‘scientific position’ which is for all practical reasons totally vacuous and in fact theologically risky”. No lunacy about “Intelligent design is very much a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”. I don’t really believe that this is a case of identity theft, but someone ought to check.

Comment #123189

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:07 AM (e)

Searching for “set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”, I did find

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/05/teli…
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/inte…

so it seems that PvM has been channeling IDers Dembski and Del Ratzsch for a while.

Comment #123191

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:21 AM (e)

I also found

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/_ken…

The Design Inference is by virtue of being the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity (also known as appeal from ignorance) inevitably subject to false positives.

But appeal from ignorance, a fallacious inference, cannot be characterized as “very much a hypothesis”. In any case, neither “the design inference” nor some “entirely theoretical hypothesis” is what “ID” is. As I wrote,

The notion that ID is “an entirely theoretical hypothesis” is – pardon me for being impolite – utter hogwash

but PvM so dishonestly responded

Popper seems to confuse the definition of ID with the motivations of ID or the actions of ID proponents when it comes to denying that Darwinian evolution could have been responsible for all the features of life. It always help to be sufficiently specific about ID’s claims, even though it may be sometimes hard to find a common denominator.

But as we here at PT know so well, the proper definition of “ID” is not restricted to some abstract hypothesis; that’s the sort of BS that DI pulls to try to hide their agenda.

Comment #123197

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:42 AM (e)

Finally, when I said that it’s hogwash that “ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis”, I was referring to MacNeill’s

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum)

But as we all, certainly including PvM, know, IDiots – certainly including Hannah Maxson, whose definition of ID I referred to – do not restrict the design inference to those areas. And it makes no sense to talk about so restricting “a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”, which isn’t really a “hypothesis” at all, it’s a semantic claim, and a ludicrous one, since chance and regularity aren’t “sets”, and anything that is designed is also a consequence of chance and regularity by a recursive argument.

I suspect that, in the past, when PvM has referred to ID as “a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”, people here didn’t make any sense of what he was saying but went along as long as he was saying that it was scientifically vacuous. But worse than being scientifically vacuous, it’s conceptually vacuous.

Comment #123311

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

I suspect that, in the past, when PvM has referred to ID as “a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”, people here didn’t make any sense of what he was saying but went along as long as he was saying that it was scientifically vacuous. But worse than being scientifically vacuous, it’s conceptually vacuous.

Seems we agree. That some people may not understand what is meant by “set theoretic complement of chance and regularity” certainly seems to indicate that some people are unfamiliar with ID’s foundations. That some people conclude that the hypothesis is conceptually vacuous shows why some IDers are right to claim that some ID critics are unfamiliar with the concepts of ID.

Which is why a course like Allen may be much needed, not just for ID proponents but also for ID critics.
Remember: Garbage in - Garbage out

Popper further clarifies his statement

Finally, when I said that it’s hogwash that “ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis”, I was referring to MacNeill’s

ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis restricted to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of a few selected biochemical pathways (and the bacterial flagellum)

But as we all, certainly including PvM, know, IDiots – certainly including Hannah Maxson, whose definition of ID I referred to – do not restrict the design inference to those areas.

Aha so now ID is a concept determined by what Hannah states rather than by the arguments of the leaders of the ID movement? Interesting… Allen is correct about ID being restricted to various areas only: genetic code has always been a favorite of ID arguments, origin of life is how ID is moving from intervention to front loading and the bacterial flagella is a historical artifact of the ID movement.

If you are interested in Allen MacNeill’s arguments to a level which would allow you to make an informed decision, then I suggest you check out his blog

Behe/Darwin’s Black Box: The argument for “irreducible complexity”, while interesting, appears to leave almost all of evolutionary biology untouched. Behe’s argument is essentially focused on the origin of life from abiotic materials, and arguments for the “irreducible complexity” of the genetic code and a small number of biochemical pathways and processes

Comment #123313

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 2:23 PM (e)

Popper exemplifies the confusion surrounding ID when he accuses me of being dishonest, while merely showing his unfamiliarity with ID.

“But as we here at PT know so well, the proper definition of “ID” is not restricted to some abstract hypothesis; that’s the sort of BS that DI pulls to try to hide their agenda.”

An unfamiliarity with the ID literature certainly is not going to impress many ID proponents nor critics. Now Popper is right that ID does a lot of bait and switch and equivocation when it comes to the concepts of ‘design’, ‘information’ and ‘complexity’ but it does help to understand the basic ID arguments (as well as the expanded forms).

For instance the set theoretic complement definition of design shows how limited ID’s concept really is. Del Ratzsch pointed this one out a while ago and warned how many ID proponents as well as critics seem to be unfamiliar with the limited nature of the design inference.
Seems his comments were almost prophetic :-)

Comment #123316

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 2:38 PM (e)

Pim, if you or allen really think you can exclude motivations from all of this, then you really are just playing a game of mental masturbation….and what you are doing is totally, completely, useless.

Even the “leaders” of Id you mention don’t ever treat Id in hypotheticals, or don’t you even bother to read what Dembski writes any more.

what about Wells? do we find lots of hypotheticals coming from the mouth of Wells in his most recent bit of drivel?

this is NOT a game, Pim.

You’ve become lost in the details, I fear, if you are even Pim.

Comment #123317

Posted by steve s on August 27, 2006 2:40 PM (e)

Aha so now ID is a concept determined by what Hannah states rather than by the arguments of the leaders of the ID movement? Interesting… Allen is correct about ID being restricted to various areas only: genetic code has always been a favorite of ID arguments, origin of life is how ID is moving from intervention to front loading and the bacterial flagella is a historical artifact of the ID movement.

ID supporters often whip up their own contradictory versions of ID.

The “probability” of the physical constants is irrelevant. If they are not constrained by an unknown physical law, then the design is thought to be in the selection of the constants. If they are found, in the future, to be predicted from a fundamental law, then the design is in the law.

Fine-tuning is totally unrelated to the probability of the constants. It is entirely related to the fact that life—any kind of life, not just human life—is sensitive to their values. This is no less an intriguing should we be able to derive the values of the constants.

Comment by David Heddle — August 16, 2006 @ 10:39 am

A phenomenon resulting from a natural law would give a negative design inference according to the Explanatory Filter. Heddle, on the other hand, says the phonemonon of life, should it result from natural law, proves design.

You know why it’s called apologetics? ‘Cause they aught to apologize for it.

Comment #123318

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

P.S. What I did compare is ID to Holocaust denial. And I’m not the first person at PT to have done so. Bizarrely, PvM considers this comparison to be “ad hominem”, and a failure to employ reason and logic, which is itself a complete abdication of reason and logic

Revisionism strikes again:

MacNeill’s seminar strikes me a bit like a seminar on the Holocaust where Holocaust deniers are given equal time (including co-moderation of the blog), but all the swastikas and uniforms are hidden and the anti-semitic literature is dismissed as polemics (“that isn’t Holocaust denial”), leaving nothing but “an entirely hypothetical hypothesis”.

Thus Popper was talking about MacNeill’s seminar. It’s an unnecessary ad hominem, showing lack of logic and reason. Note how Popper does little to contradict these simple observations.

Sir ToeJam

that sure conflicts with the vacuous nature of ID in every aspect thinkable you have liberally painted here on PT for the past year or so.

Are you running some “ingenious” experiment here, Pim?

I stated: As I explained before, the ID hypothesis has many flaws and short comings but to argue that this is no a scientific hypothesis is like saying that young earth creationism is a priori unscientific.

Perhaps people may want to consider the difference between scientifically vacuous and not a “scientific hypothesis”

One is a posterio, the other a priori. Which is which is left as an exercise to the user

Popper tries again: PvM, OTOH, is trolling his own thread. It’s remarkable how many of his allies he managed to alienate with his ongoing intellectual dishonesty.

Seems that Popper is doing all the hard work himself. As they say: with friends like these, who needs enemies.

Popper again: But all you can manage is “Popper this” and “Popper that”. That is pathetic.

It’s sufficient to show the intellectual vacuity in your claims.

If Popper is such a fan of the holocaust as a valid analogy then perhaps he also is willing to support the equally ‘valid’ analogy between Darwinism and the rise of Nazism? Or communism?

Let’s all throw out what Allen has shown to be one of the weakest logical arguments, namely analogies.

And finally the coup de grace of Popper: Is PvM now channeling Dembski? That’s his incoherent definition of ID – no one honest and respectable argues that that’s what intelligent design “is”.

Translation: Even though Dembski, one of the foremost experts on intelligent design and in fact one of the major proponents and contributors to the design inference, defines ID to be the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance, Popper seems to know better. Somehow however, he has to use the thinly veiled ad hominem ‘no one honest and respectable” to reject the simple obseration that Popper was uninformed about the basic ID concepts.

Del Ratzsch was right, although I am somewhat disappointed how poorly some ID critics are doing in this area.

Del Ratzsch wrote:

“I do not wish to play down or denigrate what Dembski has done. There is much of value in the Design Inference. But I think that some aspects of even the limited task Dembski set for himself still remains to be tamed.” “That Dembski is not employing the robust, standard, agency-derived conception of design that most of his supporters and many of his critics have assumed seems clear.

(Del Ratzsch Nature design and science)

Popper again: It seems to be ego defense at all cost. It wouldn’t have been evident when he was bashing the bad guys and thus had everyone here on his side.

Man, that’s a funny argument… Irony alert indeed. Thanks for the good laugh Popper.

Now perhaps you may want to spend some time on reading and understanding Dembski’s design inference, which by most standards is the basic foundation for the ID hypothesis. Let me give you a hint: design is the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance.
Surprised? I am sure many people who become familiar with the rather limited definition of design would join you in your surprise. Which may explain the level of denial.

Comment #123323

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 3:01 PM (e)

bah, Pim.

you really are playing a game of mental masturbation if you want to claim that IDers really “believe” there is a scientific basis for the design inference.

You’ve totally overintellectualized the ID effort, and I’m sure Dembski and Sal are thanking you profusely behind your back.

You’re losing touch with reality, Pim, and it’s most disturbing to witness.

since you seem to think we aren’t capable of listening and you feel a need to repeat yourself, let me do so as well:

You simply can’t separate the motivations from the theoretical in this case.

the very concept was spawned as the result of a specific agenda, and any discussion past that agenda is disingenuous and naive, at best, and works actually serves the goals of the creationists, at worst.

get a grip, Pim.

Comment #123324

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 3:06 PM (e)

If this IS the real Pim, it seems he has become a fool for detail.

If this is Pim, then you were absolutely correct when you said there was no point to PT.

However, that only applies for yourself.

You should consider removing yourself as a contributor.

Comment #123325

Posted by David B. Benson on August 27, 2006 3:06 PM (e)

Well, this used to be a productive thread. steviepinhead’s summary was good! After that it has certainly gone down a slippery slope indeed…

Comment #123350

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:28 PM (e)

That some people may not understand what is meant by “set theoretic complement of chance and regularity” certainly seems to indicate that some people are unfamiliar with ID’s foundations.

People don’t understand what it means because it’s NONSENSE. Anyone who talks in such terms doesn’t understand set theory (what’s the universe here?), and doesn’t understand the distinction between a thing and a cause or an attribute. And the discussion wasn’t ABOUT “ID’s foundations”, that was your DISHONEST SPIN. The context was MacNeill and his students ruling out such things as Phillip Johnson’s polemics as BEING ID – “That is not ID”. The context was the misrepresentation of what ID ENCOMPASSES.

PvM is playing a stupid dishonest game here, as stupid and dishonest as any of the BS that the IDiots play. How very sad. He should feel lucky that hardly anyone is reading it. Especially because it apparently isn’t just a game; he really DOESN’T understand that his “definition” is nonsense, and he really DOESN’T understand what an “ad hominem” is (an analogy between a seminar about evolution and ID to a seminar about the Holocaust and its denial does not attack some man instead of his argument). Feh.

Comment #123351

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 27, 2006 4:34 PM (e)

There’s a low signal to noise ratio here.

But if I understand Pim’s argument, it is: Since the best cdesign proponentists seem to be able to do as far as formalizing their program as a hypothesis is to propose “the set theoretic complement…” we, as the opposition should be happy to restrict our counter-argumentation to this proposition, being as it is, irredemably vacuous. And, then, further, by declaring that no such attempt at formalization has occured at all, ID opponents are 1) alowing themselves to appear ignorant of the issue under discussion, and 2) foolish, because it’s a gift: such an easy proposition to demolish should be granted; if it’s a chess match and your opponent gives away his queen, you take it.

Of course, I have an issue with declaring that this mumbled formalism is what ID “is.” ID “is” a cultural and religious strategy in addition to whatever mumbo-jumbo issues from Dembski’s keyboard. But insofar as we can all agree on this aspect of the debate, I don’t think Pim can fairly be accused of offering succor to the enemy simply for stating what he sees as their only formal hypothesis, in their words.

/last rites for a suffering thread?
(Not a chance, buddy.)

Comment #123352

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:37 PM (e)

You’ve totally overintellectualized the ID effort, and I’m sure Dembski and Sal are thanking you profusely behind your back.

You’ve nailed it, and that’s really what this thread has been about. And if you go back and read PvM’s previous posts, you’ll see that this is what he’s been up to all along. He wants to DISPROVE ID as if it were a serious intellectual effort, despite that having been done numerous times already, and he swats down those who argue that that simply isn’t what ID is about and that dwelling on such attempts to disprove ID lends legitimacy to the notion that its major players are serious intellectuals pursuing a serious intellectual effort, and that there’s some sort of legitimate intellectual dispute involved between the proponents of ID and the proponents of the “alternative theory”.

Comment #123354

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:41 PM (e)

But if I understand Pim’s argument

But you don’t understand the context; it’s about framing. I don’t disagree that the “definition” that PvM offers is one used by the ID crowd, but the question was what ID is, and treating it as if it is what the ID crowd says it is would be like taking “terrorism” to be what the Bush administration says it is.

Comment #123355

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 4:43 PM (e)

Sorry, a better example would have been “taking treason and patriotism to be what Ann Coulter says they are”.

Comment #123358

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 4:54 PM (e)

Sir Toejam wrote:

you really are playing a game of mental masturbation if you want to claim that IDers really “believe” there is a scientific basis for the design inference.

Again, you use the term IDers to cover a group which includes a small number of ID proponents in ‘leadership’ positions as well as a large group of people who believe in ID as a scientific foundation for their religious beliefs or at least one which validates their religious beliefs. Yes, I do claim that most IDers believe/want to believe that there is a scientific foundation for ID. I also realize that ID has been hijacked as a social, religious and political movement and it may help to distinguish between the various forms.

Sir Toejam wrote:

You’ve totally overintellectualized the ID effort, and I’m sure Dembski and Sal are thanking you profusely behind your back.

I am sure Sal will be thanking me in my face. But again, you and Sal seem to be missing the point here. What I am arguing is that there is a significant group of ID proponents who sincerely are led to believe that there is a scientific component to ID.

Sir Toejam wrote:

You’re losing touch with reality, Pim, and it’s most disturbing to witness.

Just because I do not subscribe to your reality? I hardly find this a disturbing development.

Sir Toejam wrote:

since you seem to think we aren’t capable of listening and you feel a need to repeat yourself, let me do so as well:

You simply can’t separate the motivations from the theoretical in this case.

the very concept was spawned as the result of a specific agenda, and any discussion past that agenda is disingenuous and naive, at best, and works actually serves the goals of the creationists, at worst.

I agree to a large extent with your characterization of ID’s history. However to reject ID merely because it has been hijacked or had alterior motives, misses the point that there IS a scientific component to ID, however vacuous it may be. We may all want to deny such but that would merely play in the hands of the ID movement.

Sir Toejam wrote:

get a grip, Pim.

On your version of reality? I politely decline.

Comment #123359

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 4:57 PM (e)

Sir Toejam wrote:

If this IS the real Pim, it seems he has become a fool for detail.

If this is Pim, then you were absolutely correct when you said there was no point to PT.

However, that only applies for yourself.

You should consider removing yourself as a contributor.

ROTFl, and you just accused me of playing into the hands of Dembski and/or Sal. How funny. Just for the record, I do NOT believe that PT or I have to cater to your sensibilities. In fact, I find exploring the arguments by Popper or others, quite helpful in elucidating why ID may have been so successful in gaining the hearts of so many.

Comment #123360

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:00 PM (e)

Sorry, CJ, I responded before reading your whole post.

Of course, I have an issue with declaring that this mumbled formalism is what ID “is.” ID “is” a cultural and religious strategy in addition to whatever mumbo-jumbo issues from Dembski’s keyboard.

Exactly, which puts you firmly on my side of the dispute.

But insofar as we can all agree on this aspect of the debate

But we can’t; PvM insisted that that isn’t what ID “is”, that I was confusing the peripheral elements to the “definition”. In context, that was utter BS.

I don’t think Pim can fairly be accused of offering succor to the enemy simply for stating what he sees as their only formal hypothesis, in their words.

But that’s not what he’s doing; no one disagreed that the the nonsense he wrote
is their “formal hypothesis”, other than to disagree that it can properly be characterized as a “hypothesis”. “design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity” – does that look like a “hypothesis” to you? What evidence could be gathered to support or challenge such a “hypothesis”?

Comment #123361

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 5:04 PM (e)

Popper tries again:

Popper wrote:

PvM wrote:

That some people may not understand what is meant by “set theoretic complement of chance and regularity” certainly seems to indicate that some people are unfamiliar with ID’s foundations.

People don’t understand what it means because it’s NONSENSE.

First of all it seems that you did not even know what the design inference is all about, then you call it non-sense, even though the definition is quite straightforward. Of course, as I have shown elsewhere, the definition hardly is helpful in turning ID into a useful scientific hypothesis but that’s irrelevant at this point.

Popper wrote:

Anyone who talks in such terms doesn’t understand set theory (what’s the universe here?), and doesn’t understand the distinction between a thing and a cause or an attribute. And the discussion wasn’t ABOUT “ID’s foundations”, that was your DISHONEST SPIN. The context was MacNeill and his students ruling out such things as Phillip Johnson’s polemics as BEING ID – “That is not ID”. The context was the misrepresentation of what ID ENCOMPASSES.

First of all, your ad hominem argument merely is a blatant assertion which seems to try to hide the embarassing fact that you were fully ignorant of the design inference as formulated originally by Dembski.

So far, you’re digging a deeper and deeper hole without making much of an effort to support your position with logic, reason or examples. What misrepresentation are you now referring to? And given that ID can be shown to mean so many different things, which definitions do you consider to be relevant and which ones do you consider to be irrelevant?

Popper wrote:

PvM is playing a stupid dishonest game here, as stupid and dishonest as any of the BS that the IDiots play. How very sad. He should feel lucky that hardly anyone is reading it. Especially because it apparently isn’t just a game; he really DOESN’T understand that his “definition” is nonsense, and he really DOESN’T understand what an “ad hominem” is (an analogy between a seminar about evolution and ID to a seminar about the Holocaust and its denial does not attack some man instead of his argument). Feh.

You really should stop projecting my dear friend. So far, your assertion that the ID hypothesis as defined by Dembski is ‘nonsense’ could benefit from more than the usual ad hominem argument that “any idiot could see that it is wrong”.

But that’s just my spin on how to do science… perhaps you have a different standard of evidence.

Comment #123362

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:07 PM (e)

ID supporters often whip up their own contradictory versions of ID.

Exactly. Which is why the claim that ID “is” this or that formal definition is so absurd/dishonest. The original context of this sub-dispute is PvM’s dishonest

Intelligent design is very much a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. Popper seems to confuse the definition of ID with the motivations of ID or the actions of ID proponents when it comes to denying that Darwinian evolution could have been responsible for all the features of life. It always help to be sufficiently specific about ID’s claims, even though it may be sometimes hard to find a common denominator.

In response to my labeling as hogwash the notion that ID is a quite different “entirely theoretical hypothesis”, which was just one of two definitions of ID I commented on, the other being Hannah Maxson’s.

Comment #123364

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:09 PM (e)

hide the embarassing fact that you were fully ignorant of the design inference as formulated originally by Dembski.

Listen, you goddamn stupid effing dishonest moron, I said you were CHANNELING DEMBSKI.

Comment #123365

Posted by Registered User on August 27, 2006 5:12 PM (e)

Pim

That some people conclude that the hypothesis is conceptually vacuous shows why some IDers are right to claim that some ID critics are unfamiliar with the concepts of ID.

The “concepts” of ID? That’s “concept” with an “s”? Plural?

Spare me. “God did it.” That’s the concept.

Which is why a course like Allen may be much needed, not just for ID proponents but also for ID critics.

Oh, please give us a freaking break, Pim. I’ve said it before, Pim, and I’ll say it again: your blowhard attempts to “debunk” a concept that is scientifically vacuous on its face are a waste of time. To the extent that you give the impression that lengthy, “mathematically rigorous” expositions are necessary to “prove” that Dembski and his disciples are lying sacks, you are merely facilitating the IDers cause.

Just go and look at the disaster over at the Allen Loves Hannah course blog! Sal took Pim and some other mathematical sucker for a 300 comment ride that had no purpose except to allow the participants to sharpen their pointy heads AND give the appearance of substance where there is none. Only at the end of all the bogusness did Michael Hubl demand that the ID peddlers provide clear unambiguous definitions and stick to them. Lyin’ Hannah attempted to do this and then Hubl threw down the only necessary gauntlet: he asked Hannah to show everyone how Dembski/Behe’s garbage could be applied to a random bacterial protein. What happened? Two events which demontrate why Allen and Hannah’s “experiment” was a total joke: Hannah refused to apply the test to a biological molecule (refused to even BEGIN applying it) and Michael Hubl was banned when Sal whined that Hannah was being “pestered”.

Is that something you are proud to have contributed to, Pim?

I wish someone would answer a few of the questions I posed upthread. Allen won’t answer them, of course, because he’s a whiny titty baby (not an ad hominem – rather, an accurate description based on his own behavior). Allen is not “imaginative.” He’s a blowhard and to the extent he fashions himself an “evolutionary psychologist” and refers to this paper as “brilliant” he’s something of a idling Darwinist wanker as well.

I worry about Cornell. Between McNeill’s teaching of a course which involves hand-holding with ID peddlers and retreating from the ugly truths to make those ID peddlers happy and his dissing of Carl Sagan and Dawkins, and the Ornithology Labs fraud with the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, this is an institution that is getting a bit of stink on itself. Ultimately, Hannah Maxson is going to graduate from Cornell with her stupid “triple major” in bullshxttery and then what? I assume she is going to go to grad school somewhere so she can get her “credentials” and then go to work for the Discovery Institute or whatever it chooses to call itself in the future.

Or maybe she’ll focus on “evolutionary psychology”-based methods for promoting the “reorientation” of all the poor, sick gay people in the United States …

Comment #123367

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:15 PM (e)

That some people conclude that the hypothesis is conceptually vacuous shows why some IDers are right to claim that some ID critics are unfamiliar with the concepts of ID.

That some people conclude that the hypothesis is conceptually vacuous shows that they aren’t morons, that they understand what a set and the complement of a set is, that they understand that “design”, “chance”, and “regularity” are not logical predicates, that as causes they overlap, etc. To claim that anyone who thinks it is conceptually vacuous must be unfamiliar with the concepts of ID is ad hominem, in the proper, not stupidly misunderstood, meaning of that phrase.

Comment #123368

Posted by Registered User on August 27, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

Pim

That some people conclude that the hypothesis is conceptually vacuous shows why some IDers are right to claim that some ID critics are unfamiliar with the concepts of ID.

The “concepts” of ID? That’s “concept” with an “s”? Plural?

Spare me. “God did it.” That’s the concept.

Which is why a course like Allen may be much needed, not just for ID proponents but also for ID critics.

Oh, please give us a freaking break, Pim. I’ve said it before, Pim, and I’ll say it again: your blowhard attempts to “debunk” a concept that is scientifically vacuous on its face are a waste of time. To the extent that you give the impression that lengthy, “mathematically rigorous” expositions are necessary to “prove” that Dembski and his disciples are lying sacks, you are merely facilitating the IDers cause.

Just go and look at the disaster over at the Allen Loves Hannah course blog! Sal took Pim and some other mathematical sucker for a 300 comment ride that had no purpose except to allow the participants to sharpen their pointy heads AND give the appearance of substance where there is none. Only at the end of all the bogusness did Michael Hubl demand that the ID peddlers provide clear unambiguous definitions and stick to them. Lyin’ Hannah attempted to do this and then Hubl threw down the only necessary gauntlet: he asked Hannah to show everyone how Dembski/Behe’s garbage could be applied to a random bacterial protein. What happened? Two events which demontrate why Allen and Hannah’s “experiment” was a total joke: Hannah refused to apply the test to a biological molecule (refused to even BEGIN applying it) and Michael Hubl was banned when Sal whined that Hannah was being “pestered”.

Is that something you are proud to have contributed to, Pim?

I wish someone would answer a few of the questions I posed upthread. Allen won’t answer them, of course, because he’s a whiny titty baby (not an ad hominem – rather, an accurate description based on his own behavior). Allen is not “imaginative.” He’s a blowhard and to the extent he fashions himself an “evolutionary psychologist” and refers to this paper as “brilliant” he’s something of a idling Darwinist wanker as well.

I worry about Cornell. Between McNeill’s teaching of a course which involves hand-holding with ID peddlers and retreating from the ugly truths to make those ID peddlers happy and his dissing of Carl Sagan and Dawkins, and the Ornithology Labs fraud with the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, this is an institution that is getting a bit of stink on itself. Ultimately, Hannah Maxson is going to graduate from Cornell with her stupid “triple major” in bullshxttery and then what? I assume she is going to go to grad school somewhere so she can get her “credentials” and then go to work for the Discovery Institute or whatever it chooses to call itself in the future.

Or maybe she’ll focus on “evolutionary psychology”-based methods for promoting the “reorientation” of all the poor, sick gay people in the United States …

Comment #123372

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:24 PM (e)

Aha so now ID is a concept determined by what Hannah states rather than by the arguments of the leaders of the ID movement?

Yes, you dumb cluck, because Hannah is a leader of the ID movement at Cornell. Because there is no single thing that ID is. Because the “leaders of ID” are con men who toss out any and all arguments they can think of, hoping one will stick, or that some fool will be stupid enough to actually take it seriously as an intellectual challenge. “set theoretically” – wow, sounds kind of like higher math or something; too bad it’s utterly misapplied. One could try to make sense of it by rephrasing it as “everything is a result of either design, chance, or regularity”, but only a complete blithering idiot or someone in the grips of an ideology would fail to recognize the extreme false dichotomy. If this is the “foundation” of ID, then ID is perched upon a steaming pile of bull diarrhea.

Comment #123373

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 5:27 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #123376

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:28 PM (e)

It’s an unnecessary ad hominem, showing lack of logic and reason. Note how Popper does little to contradict these simple observations.

Yeah, the same way we do little to contradict the “simple observations” of creationist trolls when they say that evolution lacks logic and reason.

Comment #123378

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 5:29 PM (e)

I agree to a large extent with your characterization of ID’s history. However to reject ID merely because it has been hijacked or had alterior motives, misses the point that there IS a scientific component to ID, however vacuous it may be. We may all want to deny such but that would merely play in the hands of the ID movement.

No, Pim, the hijacking is being done by YOU.

It’s YOU who are arguing that there was a scientifically valid argument for the whole “design inference” to begin with, while at the same time, acknowledging in the very same paragraph that the history is entirely indicative of it’s origins being of an entirely agenda-oriented nature.

You just are unable to see what you are doing, are you?

amazing.

is this the “result” of participating along with the bloggers in Allen’s “course”? The application of post-hoc legitimization of a concept that by it’s very nature, was completely bereft of merit to begin with?

I sure hope not….and I do still wonder if this IS the real Pim.

Comment #123379

Posted by Registered User on August 27, 2006 5:34 PM (e)

Pim

So far, your assertion that the ID hypothesis as defined by Dembski is ‘nonsense’ could benefit from more than the usual ad hominem argument that “any idiot could see that it is wrong”.

Funny, that sounds exactly like the sort of thing that Hannah Maxson would say.

So is your claim, Pim, that “hypotheses” regarding biology that depend on the existence of “mysterious alien beings” whose properties and motivations are VERBOTEN topics are not prima facie “nonsense”?

Sure sounds like that is what you’re saying. But go ahead and clarify yourself if you like.

This reminds me of another one of the hilarious low points on the Allen Loves Hannah blog: when the claim was made that a genuine showing of an “irreducibly complex” biomolecule would vault the scientist/mathematician who made such a showing into the most exalted wing in the Hall of Science Fame, Hannah Maxson’s response was to attack the “logic” of the “argument.”

Forgetting that creationism/ID is a POLITICAL/RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT is a big boo-boo. Trying to make people forget this incontrovertible fact is one of the primary tactics of the ID peddler. Again: this is why the Allen Loves Hannah was such a disturbing and sad joke. The most plain and obvious reasons for understanding WHY ID is vacuous garbage were not addressed. Yes, Pim, you pointed out the vacuity 200 times. But why did Allen not insist that Hannah directly address these issues? Why instead did Allen choose to praise the plainly lying and disingenuous Hannah Maxson? And why do continue to praise Allen as “imaginative” for behaving this way? What in the heck is the deal with that?

Comment #123380

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:40 PM (e)

CJ O'Brien wrote:

Since the best cdesign proponentists seem to be able to do as far as formalizing their program as a hypothesis is to propose “the set theoretic complement…” we, as the opposition should be happy to restrict our counter-argumentation to this proposition, being as it is, irredemably vacuous.

But we can’t so restrict our counter-argumentation because that simply isn’t what ID is about, and the media and the school boards and society at large are virtually unaffected by such arguments. If that were all it takes, then ID would have vanished long ago, because the proposition is indeed irredeemably vacuous, quite transparently so, and
can be dismissed in a sentence or two.

Comment #123381

Posted by David B. Benson on August 27, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

Scientific component of ID: the null set.

Comment #123384

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:44 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

there IS a scientific component to ID

I think PvM should add this to his name field, so everyone can be clear on where each of his comments is coming from.

Sir_Toejam wrote:

is this the “result” of participating along with the bloggers in Allen’s “course”? The application of post-hoc legitimization of a concept that by it’s very nature, was completely bereft of merit to begin with?

Stockholm’s Syndrome?

Comment #123389

Posted by Registered User on August 27, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

However to reject ID merely because it has been hijacked or had alterior motives, misses the point that there IS a scientific component to ID, however vacuous it may be. We may all want to deny such but that would merely play in the hands of the ID movement.

For the billionth time, any sentence addressing “ID theory” that doesn’t mention the fact that the “ID movement” is, like the “creation science” movement before it, entirely a political/religio movement is “playing into the hands of the ID movement.”

There is no “scientific component” to “ID” unless and until independent evidence for the “mysterious alien beings” who are responsible for creating “irreducibly complex” biomolecules is produced.

Absent that, Pim, it’s just wanking horsecrap because – as I’m sure you know – you’ll never be able to “disprove” the equally likely possibility that there exists a breed of “mysterious alien beings” out there who unintelligently crap (the verb) irreducibly complex molecules into existence, or who crap out entire planets … or galaxies full of such molecules.

And you’ll never hear Allen McNeill talk about this very real “possibility” because, gawrsh, it’s “not civil” to talk about deities having to go to the bathroom when you could be throwing a whiny temper tantrum about it’s unfair to call students who think that modern biology is a fraud “arrogant”.

Comment #123391

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 5:59 PM (e)

your assertion that the ID hypothesis as defined by Dembski is ‘nonsense’ could benefit from more than the usual ad hominem argument that “any idiot could see that it is wrong”.

It would be an ad hominem if I had said no more than that, but I did say more; for instance isn’t really a “hypothesis” at all, it’s a semantic claim, and a ludicrous one, since chance and regularity aren’t “sets”, and anything that is designed is also a consequence of chance and regularity by a recursive argument. PvM says
“the definition is quite straightforward”, which is like saying “green ideas dream furiously” is straightforward. Set complementation is relative to a universe, yet none has been defined here. “design”, “chance”, and “regularity” aren’t even in the same semantic class. For this to be straightforward, “chance”, and “regularity” would have to be mutually exclusive logical predicates over some universe of entities. And this is supposed to be a definition of “design”. What happened to “intelligent”? And since when is a definition a hypothesis? I suppose failing to understand the difference between analytical and synthetic categories doesn’t make one an idiot, but it does make one incompetent to judge whether this “foundation” is “straightforward”.

Comment #123395

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 27, 2006 6:07 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #123397

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 6:13 PM (e)

I worry about Cornell. Between McNeill’s teaching of a course which involves hand-holding with ID peddlers and retreating from the ugly truths to make those ID peddlers happy and his dissing of Carl Sagan and Dawkins, and the Ornithology Labs fraud with the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, this is an institution that is getting a bit of stink on itself. Ultimately, Hannah Maxson is going to graduate from Cornell with her stupid “triple major” in bullshxttery and then what? I assume she is going to go to grad school somewhere so she can get her “credentials” and then go to work for the Discovery Institute or whatever it chooses to call itself in the future.

I actually studied under Harry Greene (now on faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell) when I was a grad student at Berkeley, and I do wonder what Harry would make of the kinds of efforts detailed by Allen in his cites wrt to evo. psych. and whether these are taking us in “new” or even interesting directions. I also wonder whether Harry would think the class offered as such has any redeeming value as to its stated goals. If Allen wanted to use this course as a personal study of psychology, in the end he should just specify such, and really try a bit harder to get a better sample size.

for “Pim”:

who originally wrote the source used (I blanked out the name), and who mined it into the form presented here:

____ a leading historian of Darwinism, concluded from Gallup’s figures that the American public simply does not understand what the scientists means by evolution. As ____ summarized the matter, “The destructive implications of evolutionary biology extend far beyond the assumptions of organized religion to a much deeper and more pervasive belief, held by the vast majority of people, that non-mechanistic organizing designs or forces are somehow responsible for the visible order of the physical universe, biological organisms, and human moral order.” ____ blamed the scientific establishment itself for misleading the public about the absolute incompatibility of contemporary Darwinism with any belief in God, designing forces, or absolute standards of good and evil. Scientific leaders have obscured the conflict for fear of jeopardizing public support for their funding, and also because some of them believe that religion may still play a useful role in maintaining public morality. According to ____, “These rationalizations are politic but intellectually dishonest.”

does it sound familiar?

Hint: the “miner” involved here had his published book removed from consideration from Allen’s course for it being nothing but “politics”.

Again, you use the term IDers to cover a group which includes a small number of ID proponents in ‘leadership’ positions as well as a large group of people who believe in ID as a scientific foundation for their religious beliefs or at least one which validates their religious beliefs. Yes, I do claim that most IDers believe/want to believe that there is a scientific foundation for ID.

one, it was you who identified those in the “leadership” positions reflecting the majority of supporters, a contention which can easily be tested simply by looking at the commentary by said “leaders” on UD or ARN.

two, you are simply wrong in thinking that the vast majority of IDers are supporters because they believe in the science behind it; Is that REALLY the lesson you took from the Kitzmiller trial?

It was YOU who posited that that said leaders are actually interested in the scientific aspects of ID, and I who pointed out that you should take a gander at what Dembski writes on his blog these days (hint: not much to do with the “science” of ID).

so which REALLY represents the “REAL” ID supporter, the folks on the schoolboard at Dover who were voted out, or your fantasy construction?

again, I accuse you of overintellectualizing both the nature and the history of Intelligent Design as a concept and a tool.

the interesting thing about a hammer is NOT that it’s often made of metal and wood; it’s that it can be used as a tool to pound nails.

I am sure Sal will be thanking me in my face.

indeed, in attempting to look a the hammer’s construction, rather than its intended purpose, you do them quite the favor. It’s like focusing on the magicians distraction, rather than what’s actually in his hand.

You might think there is value in exploring the potential for constructing some sort of valdity to the design inference, but it really is a complete waste of time in the larger scale of things Pim, and I do challenge you to provide direct evidence to the contrary, regardless of what you think the “amazing” results of “ingenious” approach Allen took with his course are.

It’s very much like studying the moss on a specific tree with a magnifying glass, while ignoring the bulldozers attempting to level the whole forest. Studying the moss is all well and good… AFTER the forest itself is saved from destruction.

Comment #123400

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 6:18 PM (e)

David Benson wrote:

Scientific component of ID: the null set.

Excellent observation.

Comment #123401

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 27, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

I might have retyped my comment, but then I reflected that a Syntax Error might well be the best possible response at this time.
Cheers.

Comment #123402

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 6:21 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

It would be an ad hominem if I had said no more than that, but I did say more; for instance isn’t really a “hypothesis” at all, it’s a semantic claim, and a ludicrous one, since chance and regularity aren’t “sets”, and anything that is designed is also a consequence of chance and regularity by a recursive argument. PvM says
“the definition is quite straightforward”, which is like saying “green ideas dream furiously” is straightforward. Set complementation is relative to a universe, yet none has been defined here. “design”, “chance”, and “regularity” aren’t even in the same semantic class.

In other words, other than claiming that the definition is a ludicrous semantic claim because change and regularity are not sets, it seems that Popper has done little to support his claims. Now he is objecting that design, chance and regularity are not in the same semantic class… Not only a meaningless claim, but also unsupported and I’d argue, irrelevant.
Perhaps it would help if Popper were to familiarize himself with Dembski’s work?

Comment #123403

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Yeah, the same way we do little to contradict the “simple observations” of creationist trolls when they say that evolution lacks logic and reason

I know evolution and I can tell you for sure Popper, your arguments are not even in the same class of evolution’s :-)

Popper wrote:

PvM wrote:

Aha so now ID is a concept determined by what Hannah states rather than by the arguments of the leaders of the ID movement?

Yes, you dumb cluck, because Hannah is a leader of the ID movement at Cornell. Because there is no single thing that ID is.

Well at least we agree on ID not being a single thing. But to allow Hannah to define ID seems to give her far more power than she deserves.

Because the “leaders of ID” are con men who toss out any and all arguments they can think of, hoping one will stick, or that some fool will be stupid enough to actually take it seriously as an intellectual challenge. “set theoretically” – wow, sounds kind of like higher math or something; too bad it’s utterly misapplied.

Right, paint the ID movement with a broad brush, and one should not be surprised that little of the arguments stick… Yes, I am very well aware that there is a component of ID that tosses out arguments in the hope that they will stick. Which is exactly why Allen’s course is so relevant. Merely claiming that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated is not really a very convincing argument. At least, not convincing to those who are toying with the concept of ID, confused by the claims that ID is scientifically relevant.

One could try to make sense of it by rephrasing it as “everything is a result of either design, chance, or regularity”, but only a complete blithering idiot or someone in the grips of an ideology would fail to recognize the extreme false dichotomy.

More exactly a trichotomy. But there is nothing false about the ‘dichotomy’ it’s just that the meaning of design is not really that which many people would have believed it to be. Perhaps Popper can attempt to show why he believes it is a false dichotomy?

If this is the “foundation” of ID, then ID is perched upon a steaming pile of bull diarrhea.

Finally…. All it would have taken is some familiarity with Dembski… Del Ratzsch was right… Some proponents and critics of ID may not be very familiar with the very limited definition of design as proposed by the design inference.
To claim it a false dichotomy totally misses the point, actually to call it a dichotomy misses the point. There are far better arguments to reject the definition of design as the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. But that may overload some on this group with too much information at this time and I believe I have expanded on these concepts in many of my PT postings.

Comment #123409

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

Pv (there IS a scientific component of ID) M wrote:

“Scientific component of ID: the null set.”

Excellent observation.

If the unicorn component of quadrupeds is the null set, does that mean there IS a unicorn component of quadrupeds, or there is NOT a unicorn component of quadrupeds?

Anyone who claims the former is not competent to talk about “the set theoretic complement”.

Comment #123411

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 6:43 PM (e)

Merely claiming that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated is not really a very convincing argument. At least, not convincing to those who are toying with the concept of ID, confused by the claims that ID is scientifically relevant.

and who now is painting with the broad brush, eh?

does your ego consider youself to be the ONLY one to ever explore whether ID could ever be constructed in such a way to be testable, or generate predictions, or even constructed in such a way as to legitimately be labeled an “hypothesis” to begin with?

many such discussions have happened both within and outside of PT; your attempts are certainly noted, but not noteworthy, and all end with the same conclusion… the “null set” noted by David.

In short, I still fail to see how you have generated any evidence supporting either Allen’s or your approach to be “ingenious” in any way shape or form.

perhaps if you could actually provide evidence of the efficacy of such an approach that would warrant the label “ingenious”, you could shut us all up, eh?

but then, that’s exactly what we’ve been asking for from just about the first post after Allen’s first post.

Comment #123419

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

It’s really quite pointless, STJ, as pointless as debating with anyone in the grips of an ideology. PvM says that there IS a scientific component of ID, then flatly contradicts that by agreeing that the scientific component of ID is “the null set” (in logic, the assertion that there “is” something of a certain description is equivalent to the assertion that the set conforming to that description isn’t empty). He insists that “Intelligent design is very much a hypothesis …” and then flatly contradicts that by saying “Well at least we agree on ID not being a single thing”. When I state tthat “design”, “chance”, and “regularity” are not in the same semantic category, he absurdly calls that “a meaningless claim” and complains that I didn’t support it. Well, let’s see: “Let’s design something. Let’s chance something. Let’s regularity something.” Hmm, no. “It happened by design. It happened by chance. It happened by regularity.” Better, but how does something happen by regularity? “It exhibits design. It exhibits chance. It exhibits regularity.” But things don’t exhibit chance, they happen by chance. Even if we apply Procrustean measures to fit these terms into a common mold, they are both hopelessly indefinite and clearly overlap; the things we design also have regular features and chance elements, so design cannot be defined as the absence of chance and regularity; the false dichotomy is obvious because the counterexamples are so easy to find. And again, even if we were to define “design” in such a peculiar and ad hoc way, definitions are not hypotheses, they are not the sort of thing that can be confirmed or disconfirmed, they are not “scientific elements”. PvM’s response is not a rebuttal of points, it’s an ad hominem comment about familiarity with Dembski’s work. But there is no need to waste one’s time studying Dembski’s output to know these things, and there’s no point unless one’s goal is to engage Sal in a point-for-point dispute for the sole purpose of showing people who already know he’s full of crap that he’s full of crap, because you certainly won’t get Sal or any of his co-IDiots to admit it.

Comment #123424

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 7:45 PM (e)

Merely claiming that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated is not really a very convincing argument. At least, not convincing to those who are toying with the concept of ID, confused by the claims that ID is scientifically relevant.

As a matter of fact, quite a few people have posted at PT that it is the evidence that ID is unscientific, religiously motivated, and plain dishonest that primarily sways them, and of course these were the determining factors in Kitzmiller, not a formal refutation of Dembski’s “hypothesis”.

Comment #123430

Posted by Registered User on August 27, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

But to allow Hannah to define ID seems to give her far more power than she deserves.

No Pim. What it does is give her EXACTLY the amount of rope she needs to hang herself, notwithstanding Allen’s desperate efforts to hold the chair in place.

Comment #123435

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

Popper exemplifies the confusion surrounding ID when he accuses me of being dishonest, while merely showing his unfamiliarity with ID.

“But as we here at PT know so well, the proper definition of “ID” is not restricted to some abstract hypothesis; that’s the sort of BS that DI pulls to try to hide their agenda.”

An unfamiliarity with the ID literature certainly is not going to impress many ID proponents nor critics. Now Popper is right that ID does a lot of bait and switch and equivocation when it comes to the concepts of ‘design’, ‘information’ and ‘complexity’ but it does help to understand the basic ID arguments (as well as the expanded forms).

For instance the set theoretic complement definition of design shows how limited ID’s concept really is. Del Ratzsch pointed this one out a while ago and warned how many ID proponents as well as critics seem to be unfamiliar with the limited nature of the design inference.
Seems his comments were almost prophetic :-)

Comment #123436

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

As a matter of fact, quite a few people have posted at PT that it is the evidence that ID is unscientific, religiously motivated, and plain dishonest that primarily sways them, and of course these were the determining factors in Kitzmiller, not a formal refutation of Dembski’s “hypothesis”.

Again, we agree. Kitzmiller showed how ID fails to be a scientifically relevant contributor. Since Dembski withdrew as an expert witness, most of the argument were about Behe’s arguments.

Again, I fail to see the relevance of your comment. I fully support showing the religious motivations of ID and the dishonesty. I however also realize that ID proponents come in many shapes and forms. As such I believe that Allen’s seminar contributes not only in educating IDers but it seems from this thread also ID critics.
Never hurts to be well informed.

Comment #123442

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:40 PM (e)

Popper exemplifies the confusion surrounding ID when he accuses me of being dishonest, while merely showing his unfamiliarity with ID.

“But as we here at PT know so well, the proper definition of “ID” is not restricted to some abstract hypothesis; that’s the sort of BS that DI pulls to try to hide their agenda.”

An unfamiliarity with the ID literature certainly is not going to impress many ID proponents nor critics. Now Popper is right that ID does a lot of bait and switch and equivocation when it comes to the concepts of ‘design’, ‘information’ and ‘complexity’ but it does help to understand the basic ID arguments (as well as the expanded forms).

For instance the set theoretic complement definition of design shows how limited ID’s concept really is. Del Ratzsch pointed this one out a while ago and warned how many ID proponents as well as critics seem to be unfamiliar with the limited nature of the design inference.
Seems his comments were almost prophetic :-)

Comment #123443

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:42 PM (e)

For those interested in the design inference, Wesley Elsberry wrote

The “design inference” of the book’s title is an argument to establish that certain events are due to and must be explained with reference to design. Dembski crafts his argument as a process of elimination. From the set of all possible explanations, he first eliminates the explanatory categories of regularity and chance; then whatever is left is by definition design. Since all three categories complete the set, design is the set-theoretical complement of regularity and chance.

Perhaps Popper may want to spend some time familiarizing himself with the design inference?

Comment #123445

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:44 PM (e)

Registered user wrote:

No Pim. What it does is give her EXACTLY the amount of rope she needs to hang herself, notwithstanding Allen’s desperate efforts to hold the chair in place.

Another one unfamiliar with Allen MacNeill or the seminar who is jumping to conclusions…

With friends like these.. who needs enemies…

Comment #123446

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

Popper exemplifies the confusion surrounding ID when he accuses me of being dishonest, while merely showing his unfamiliarity with ID.

Snore.

Again, we agree.

Yeah, we now agree with exactly what you had previously denied: “Merely claiming that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated is not really a very convincing argument.”

Feh.

With friends like these.. who needs enemies…

Yeah, everyone here is now your enemy. Gee, I wonder how that happened?

Comment #123447

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2006 8:48 PM (e)

I actually studied under Harry Greene (now on faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell)

Author of “Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature” … ?

(bows down) I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!

Comment #123448

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:49 PM (e)

Sir Toejam wrote:

does your ego consider youself to be the ONLY one to ever explore whether ID could ever be constructed in such a way to be testable, or generate predictions, or even constructed in such a way as to legitimately be labeled an “hypothesis” to begin with?

What a silly question. You are basically saying that ID is a posteriori found to be vacuous, however you seem to be suggesting that this validates an a priori rejection of ID as unscientific. Since the demarcation problem makes such an argument full of pitfalls (note how ID proponents have jumped onto this flaw), showing that ID is scientifically vacuous a posteriori is far more defensible.

Could ID be tested? Of course, by eliminating chance and regularity and determining what remains. I predict that it is either the empty set or false positives.

Comment #123449

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

Never hurts to be well informed.

LOL.

well, personally I’m still waiting to see what new information has been imparted in this thread.

If there was some and I missed it, please do point it out, as well as explaining what relevance it has to the larger issue of the creationist attack on science.

Do use evidence to support your argument, as I have yet to see any evidence to indicate that addressing the potential validity of a hypothetical argument on the concept of design has merit as an approach to address the issue to the “average” ID supporter, as you chose to put it.

otherwise, I really can’t see the point in continuing this discussion at all.

You could perhaps provide evidence, at least anecdotal, to indicate that your approach at least has an effect on a particular IDer.

why not pull out any of the commentary from the blog that you think supports your approach as being an effective one?

Would that be reasonable?

do you have more direct evidence than that?

Comment #123450

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:52 PM (e)

Anyone who claims the former is not competent to talk about “the set theoretic complement”.

Sigh… Some were not even aware that of the definition of design… Perhaps these are the true people who are not really competent to talk about these issues. Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that with which you disagree. Beats knocking down a strawman anytime. Give it a try.

Comment #123451

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2006 8:53 PM (e)

I believe that Allen’s seminar contributes not only in educating IDers

Umm, how many IDers changed their minds as a result of the course, again … ?

Comment #123452

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:53 PM (e)

Popper asks:

If the unicorn component of quadrupeds is the null set, does that mean there IS a unicorn component of quadrupeds, or there is NOT a unicorn component of quadrup

As you said, it’s the null set, a posteriori.

Comment #123454

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 8:57 PM (e)

Could ID be tested? Of course, by eliminating chance and regularity and determining what remains. I predict that it is either the empty set or false positives.

and that is a completey empty and vacuous statement to make in and of itself.

“could you prove 2+2=5”

of course, if you suspend all current knowledge of mathematics.

again, this is exactly why i am saying this “approach” is complete mental masturbation.

I asked you this ages ago, in a different thread, and you never answered:

Who is your audience, PIM?

your argument is silly when used on anybody with any knowledge of the subject material, and is far to esoteric for anybody considered to be an average ID supporter, so who is your argument for?

The ID “leaders”?

they laugh at it because they know the people they want to influence would just look at it and shrug.

Yours is definetly an argument in search of an audience.

show me the relevancy, and show me the efficacy, that’s all I’m asking.

Comment #123455

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Umm, how many IDers changed their minds as a result of the course, again … ?

Out of the two participants and the two IDEA members, the total seems to be zero. Care to evaluate the statistical significance of this? And even if they did not change their position fully, did they change their position in any meaningful manner?

Now compare this with how many IDers and ID critics Lenny has bored to death and Lenny may be the sure winner. Of course, he may have won the battle and lost the war…

Comment #123456

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:02 PM (e)

For those interested in the design inference, Wesley Elsberry wrote

It might help to understand what he wrote:

A causal class cannot be lumped into regularity or chance in advance without begging the question. Specifically, one cannot state that natural selection is either regularity or chance. The events which are due to natural selection must be evaluated by their own properties to establish which category best describes those events. Just as intelligent agents can sometimes produce events which pass for regularity or chance rather than design, so too can natural selection be responsible for events in all 3 categories. It is insufficient to show that some examples of natural selection fall into either regularity or chance explanation categories. One arguing that design never has a physical process as an agent producing an event must show that natural selection is incapable in principle of producing events with the attribute of design. Such a demonstration would have to address both the application of natural selection in biology and also in computer science, where use of the principle of natural selection has been employed in solving very difficult optimization problems.

This is a very elaborate way of saying that it’s a false dichotomy, and ditto for his conclusion:

Dembski argues that a triad of criteria reliably diagnoses the action of an intelligent agent, yet this same triad of criteria fails to exclude natural selection as a possible cause of events that have the attribute of complexity-specification. Somehow, I doubt that natural selection is what Dembski had in mind for the agent of biological design.

and of course

TDI is supposed to establish the theoretical foundation for all the rest of the movement. My judgment is that it fails to lay a solid foundation.

Which is a more polite way of saying what I said about bull diarrhea.

Could ID be tested? Of course, by eliminating chance and regularity and determining what remains.

You understand nothing at all; as Wesley wrote, “one cannot state that natural selection is either regularity or chance”. Since it is impossible to place phenomena into these castegories without, as he says, “begging the question”, no such elimination is possible.

Comment #123457

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:07 PM (e)

Sigh… Some were not even aware that of the definition of design… Perhaps these are the true people who are not really competent to talk about these issues.

Another false dichotomy.

Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that with which you disagree.

This is the same as the argument that you can’t be an atheist unless you have studied the bible.

I once mistook PvM for someone who was not dimwitted; I will not make that mistake again.

Comment #123458

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 9:08 PM (e)

Sir Toejam:

PvM wrote:

Could ID be tested? Of course, by eliminating chance and regularity and determining what remains. I predict that it is either the empty set or false positives.

and that is a completey empty and vacuous statement to make in and of itself.

“could you prove 2+2=5”

of course, if you suspend all current knowledge of mathematics.

With the simple difference that the definition of design is consistent with the knowledge of mathematics

Sir Toejam: again, this is exactly why i am saying this “approach” is complete mental masturbation.

To compare design with 2+2=5 surely seems to be a mental masturbation indeed.

Sir Toejam: I asked you this ages ago, in a different thread, and you never answered:

Who is your audience, PIM?

Anyone willing to listen

Sir Toejam: your argument is silly when used on anybody with any knowledge of the subject material, and is far to esoteric for anybody considered to be an average ID supporter, so who is your argument for?

Of course, just because my argument is silly to you, this does not mean that it is silly to anybody with any knowledge of the subject matter, nor is it necessarily very esoteric either. Just because some ID critics were confused by the argument, hardly makes it ineffective for ID proponents.

Sir Toejam: The ID “leaders”?

they laugh at it because they know the people they want to influence would just look at it and shrug.

ID leaders are best dealt with using other arguments. They hardly seem to care about ID beyond its socio-religious positions.

Sir Toejam: Yours is definetly an argument in search of an audience.

Perhaps, of course I believe it to be far more efficient than telling an ID proponent that ID is just nonsense, live with it. Or worse, call them IDiots. Now that is surely an argument which is guaranteed to chase away any relevant audience.

Sir Toejam: show me the relevancy, and show me the efficacy, that’s all I’m asking.

So far the efficacy seems to be that it helped ID critics to become familiar with the definition of design. That’s much better than the ‘calling ID critics IDiots approach”. But perhaps you have further data in this area?

As far as efficacy is concerned, I have a sample of one on a different but similar topic namely YECism. Calling YEC names, or stating that YEC is not science hardly is as convincing as showing how YEC fails to be scientifically correct.

Comment #123459

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 9:12 PM (e)

Popper further digs himself in:

Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that with which you disagree.

This is the same as the argument that you can’t be an atheist unless you have studied the bible.

Nope that is the same as saying that if you want to discuss christianity as an atheist you better familiarize yourself with the concept. Do you accept Atheism because of your unfamiliarity with Christianity? And any and all other religious alternatives? If you want to object to ID, then your analogy is again a poor one. Remember that analogies are already one of the weakest forms of arguments. No need to soften them up any further.

Popper wrote:

I once mistook PvM for someone who was not dimwitted; I will not make that mistake again.

Good for you. I similarly hope that you have learned from all your other mistakes made on this thread. That surely would be worth my effort.

Comment #123462

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:16 PM (e)

and that is a completey empty and vacuous statement to make in and of itself

I don’t know about that, but it’s certainly wrongheaded. It’s like saying that we can test the statement “everything is either big, little, or middling” by eliminating all big and little things and seeing whether there’s anything left; if not, the set of middling things is empty. Even if the categories were not vague and overlapping, such a thought experiment is not a “test”; it’s impossible to carry it out.

Comment #123463

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:21 PM (e)

if you want to discuss christianity as an atheist you better familiarize yourself with the concept

Since you referred to Dembski’s works, the bible was an appropriate analogy, dimwit. And the refutation of religion does not require familiarity with the canons of the religion, dimwit; I know that the gods of frambubakism don’t exist even without knowing what magic powers are attributed to them, dimwit. But in fact I am sufficiently familiar with details of Christianity and ID to point out specific flaws in them, dimwit.

Comment #123474

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:38 PM (e)

Could ID be tested? Of course, by eliminating chance and regularity and determining what remains. I predict that it is either the empty set or false positives.

It’s worth considering that in light of Wesley’s statement:

Dembski argues that a triad of criteria reliably diagnoses the action of an intelligent agent, yet this same triad of criteria fails to exclude natural selection as a possible cause of events that have the attribute of complexity-specification. Somehow, I doubt that natural selection is what Dembski had in mind for the agent of biological design….There are flaws and cracks that can admit the entry of naturalistic causes into the pool of “designed” events.

Since natural selection occurs, the set of “designed” events, as defined by Dembski, is not empty. Are these events “false positives”? No, they really are “designed” by Dembski’s criteria – that’s the problem, as Wesley points out several times. It isn’t that, when one eliminates regularity and chance, nothing is left, it’s that Dembski’s definition of “design” doesn’t capture what he wants it to capture; the “design inference”, when applied to the evidence, leads to the conclusion that evolution is a designer by Dembski’s criteria. This is exactly the opposite of the conclusion he wants to reach … but that result doesn’t change his views, or the views of any other IDiot, any more than the fact that irreducible complexity is compatible with the theory of evolution changes Behe’s mind or the minds of any of the drones who think that IC disproves ToE.

Comment #123475

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2006 9:42 PM (e)

Out of the two participants and the two IDEA members, the total seems to be zero.

And what, again, is the conclusion you would like us to draw from that … ?

Comment #123476

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

And what, again, is the conclusion you would like us to draw from that …

Funny I thought it was you who wanted to draw a conclusion from that one.
I apologize for the confusion.

Comment #123477

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

And even if they did not change their position fully, did they change their position in any meaningful manner?

Good question.

Answer?

Comment #123478

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:45 PM (e)

ID leaders are best dealt with using other arguments. They hardly seem to care about ID beyond its socio-religious positions.

Yet another contradiction from the dishonest dimwit; previously, he wrote “Aha so now ID is a concept determined by what Hannah states rather than by the arguments of the leaders of the ID movement” – “leaders” in that case referred to people like Dembski.

Comment #123480

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 9:47 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Since you referred to Dembski’s works, the bible was an appropriate analogy, dimwit. And the refutation of religion does not require familiarity with the canons of the religion, dimwit; I know that the gods of frambubakism don’t exist even without knowing what magic powers are attributed to them, dimwit. But in fact I am sufficiently familiar with details of Christianity and ID to point out specific flaws in them, dimwit.

Really. So the use of insults, your unfamiliarity with how Demski designs… To argue that one can refute Christianity or religion without a familiarity with its claims seems pretty silly. Par for the course

Comment #123481

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:49 PM (e)

And what, again, is the conclusion you would like us to draw from that … ?

We’re not supposed to draw any conclusions because, unlike PvM, we weren’t there … oh, wait, he wasn’t there either, so by his stated standards he has no business saying anything about it; of course I noted this double standard many posts ago. The argument is much like that of the creationists who say “you weren’t there” – it’s a dimwitted and dishonest argument.

Comment #123482

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

To argue that one can refute Christianity or religion without a familiarity with its claims seems pretty silly.

Truly you are a moron.

Comment #123483

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Since natural selection occurs, the set of “designed” events, as defined by Dembski, is not empty. Are these events “false positives”? No, they really are “designed” by Dembski’s criteria – that’s the problem, as Wesley points out several times.

In Dembski speak they are indeed false positives. There is an added complication namely that we are beyond the concept of design and are looking at agency.
Apples and oranges…
Still a B for effort.

Comment #123484

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

Pim degrades into bold posting…

Just because some ID critics were confused by the argument, hardly makes it ineffective for ID proponents.

your argument, that you are presenting in this very thread, is “effective for ID proponents”?

maybe, as you surely haven’t provided evidence to indicate they are effective when used against ID proponents.

Perhaps, of course I believe it to be far more efficient than telling an ID proponent that ID is just nonsense, live with it.

uh, raise your virtual hand, anybody, if that’s the argument you make when you converse with someone who claims to support ID.

anybody?

personally, if the someone who claims to support ID understands anything of science at all, I simply ask them to “use it in a sentence”, basically. IOW, I ask them to do what anybody would ask of any scientist:

build an actual hypothesis, make a testable predcition with it, and use it to test that prediction….and the number of times any ID creationist has managed to even come close to doing so when asked:

0. I can cite the last time I asked this very question. It was to Apollo, and I even asked him (very nicely) to detail for us exactly how ID could build a research regimen (what he said needed to be done), starting with the most basic proposal he could think of for how to even begin construction of a proposal to be funded.

guess what? nada. zip zilch. what we got instead was a treatise on the use of meditation as a “research” technique…and I considered Apollo to be far better educated about ID and science in general than the “average” ID supporter we see post here, or on ARN, or on UD.

not much of a knee-jerk dismissal.

If they approach from a non-science stanpoint, I simply ask them what they think would happen if they got exactly what they claim they want.

How would we proceed from there?

again, that has always resulted in pretty much dead silence as a response.

Nope, no converts that I can ever recall, but I never really expected any.

You?

ID leaders are approached in the same way as Krebs, PZ, and the others are attacking Well’s latest book, by pointing out the misinformation, quote mining, lies, etc, etc. Oh, but you and Allen think it’s not worthwhile to point out the lies, right?

Again, it’s yourself that is painting with the large brush here, you paint us as a bunch of knee jerk liberals with no conception of the issues at hand, when many (most?) of those posting (in this thread especially) already have advanced degrees in science, philosophy, or both.

I can only assume your reason for doing so is that you feel under direct attack. While it’s true you are under attack, your autonomic response to the attack has certainly not been the one i would expect from someone claiming to have discovered an “ingenious” approach to the whole ID issue.

Rather than take these attacks personally, why don’t you do what is asked:

evidence, damnit. show us that using your approach to dealing with an ID supporter is actually effective. Nothing impresses a scientist more than someone showing how their work actually has real world impact.

so far, I see a lot of heming and hawing on your part, and a descent into bolding that I expect will be followed by a stream of all caps, or dare i say E X T E N D E D caps, or *shuddder* B O L D E X T E N D E D C A P S.

again you really should check out the AFDave YEC thread over on ATBC, those are techniques he prefers to try and get his more inane points across.

doesn’t work there, either.

last time:

all you have to do is provide evidence that your approach is an effective one.

I even gave you an easy way to start doing so (mine that forum you keep mentioning for posts that support your contention).

Would you ask any less of any proposed teaching approach?

Comment #123485

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:54 PM (e)

I can also refute pi = sqrt(10) without having read the “proof” that it is, dimwit.

Comment #123486

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

In Dembski speak they are indeed false positives. There is an added complication namely that we are beyond the concept of design and are looking at agency.
Apples and oranges…

Dimwitted handwaving that doesn’t address my points. Wesley’s paper makes clear that Dembski cannot distinguish agency, so there’s no basis for arguing that something is a false positive. You truly are dumb.

Comment #123488

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 10:06 PM (e)

I would point out that as far as evidence goes, as I have kept track of those appearing on PT and ATBC claiming to be former ID supporters, what I always hear as to the reasons they abandoned IDC is those who effectively pointed out the quote mining and lies frequently used within ID “leaders” arguments.

I can even point to a direct case on point that appeared in ATBC just this week.

So i can at least START compiling data points that indicate that pointing out the lies so common to those who purport to be “leaders” of the ID movement is an effective approach.

I’m simply asking the same of you, Pim:

point out some concrete evidence that your approach is an effective one, and everybody will see the same genius in it that you do.

trying to convince us all we just don’t understand your argument sounds WAY too much like what we hear from the UD rabble about ID itself.

Comment #123492

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 10:18 PM (e)

Sir Toejam wrote:

your argument, that you are presenting in this very thread, is “effective for ID proponents”?

maybe, as you surely haven’t provided evidence to indicate they are effective when used against ID proponents.

Fair enough. But then again, what evidence is needed to satisfy the detractors? I can tell you about my personal experiences as a ex-YECer and how I responded to various kinds of approaches. I could apply logic and reason to distinguish between name calling and rationale arguments and why one may be far more effective than the other.

Comment #123493

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 10:21 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Truly you are a moron.

One of your better arguments indeed.

Popper wrote:

I can also refute pi = sqrt(10) without having read the “proof” that it is, dimwit.

Good for you. Of course you need to know the definition of pi as well as understand the concept of sqrt. It’s hardly ignorance that leads you to reject the equality.

Comment #123495

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 10:28 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Dimwitted handwaving that doesn’t address my points. Wesley’s paper makes clear that Dembski cannot distinguish agency, so there’s no basis for arguing that something is a false positive. You truly are dumb.

Sigh.. let me know when you have familiarized yourself with the design inference. You confused agency with design, even Dembski understands that these are two different concepts and one may not involve the other.

Sir Toejam contributes to the following strawman

point out some concrete evidence that your approach is an effective one, and everybody will see the same genius in it that you do.

trying to convince us all we just don’t understand your argument sounds WAY too much like what we hear from the UD rabble about ID itself.

I can point to at least one data point which is myself. But I doubt that this will satisfy the detractors on this thread. Why should I be bothered to convince you? You are hardly the target of my arguments. What I am pointing out seems simple logic, you do not catch flies with vinegar. IDiots, Creobots may be terms that will make some feel good about their contributions to criticizing ID but I doubt that it is effective in any way in convincing ID proponents.

But perhaps we can find someone who was convinced by arguments like that…

Comment #123496

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 10:28 PM (e)

“Truly you are a moron.”

One of your better arguments indeed.

It’s a conclusion, not an argument, and that you’re too dumb to tell the difference strengthens it.

Of course you need to know the definition of pi as well as understand the concept of sqrt.

As does that; I don’t need to know the “proof” that pi = sqrt(10), just as I said, moron, any more than I have to know Dembski’s “proof” of his “hypothesis” in order to refute it, dimwit.

Comment #123497

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 10:30 PM (e)

Why should I be bothered to convince you?

Then why don’t you STFU already?

Comment #123498

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 10:32 PM (e)

What I am pointing out seems simple logic, you do not catch flies with vinegar.

That’s not logic, it’s an aphorism, moron.

Comment #123499

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 10:35 PM (e)

ands thus we witness the total self destruction of our dearly beloved Popper Ghost. Ain’t it a pretty picture :->

Comment #123500

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 27, 2006 10:42 PM (e)

I can tell you about my personal experiences as a ex-YECer and how I responded to various kinds of approaches.

That would provide at least a single data point, so please do.

I’m always interested in what exactly gets folks to turn away from the creationist mindset.

but be specific, is the argument you present here essentially the same argument that swayed you from your previous YEC position?

Or was it something else?

Comment #123501

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 10:44 PM (e)

You confused agency with design, even Dembski understands that these are two different concepts and one may not involve the other.

More moronic, dishonest handwaving. I did not confuse agency with design; what an idiotic charge. My only mention of agency was “Dembski cannot distinguish agency” – as observed by Wesley – when you waved your hands around about false positives and going beyond design to agency. It appears to me that you don’t understand Wesley’s paper; it’s like a cargo cult, where you just borrow the words without understanding what they mean. It seems that you switched sides from being a YEC, but the basic mental structures are still in place.

Comment #123503

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 10:48 PM (e)

ands thus we witness the total self destruction of our dearly beloved Popper Ghost. Ain’t it a pretty picture :->

Even when I observe what an idiot you are I actually make a point and I actually refute yours. This isn’t my thread, bozo; it is not I who has had one poster
after another give up on your thick-headedness in frustration. Talk about self destruction; You are in total denial.

Comment #123504

Posted by PvM on August 27, 2006 10:51 PM (e)

You surely have a silly notion of refutation my dear Popper.

How is the progress on familiarizing yourself with the design inference going? I notice you did some actual ‘research’ using Google.
A good start.

Comment #123506

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 27, 2006 11:06 PM (e)

You surely have a silly notion of refutation my dear Popper

You’re incapable of recognizing one. Your inability to actually offer a relevant response is what changed my mind from thinking that you were just being defensively argumentative to the view that you really are stupid.

I notice you did some actual ‘research’ using Google.

What a pathetic cretin; all I’ve done here, aside from googling some of the phrases you used when STJ erroneously said you had never written anything like that before, is to quote from the very Wesley Ellsbury review that you linked to – the one that you evidently don’t understand. Certainly none of your cutesy quips show that you understand it.

I ask you again, if you see no reason to be bothered to convince STJ, who is the only person left still willing to engage in a dialog with you, why don’t you STFU already, and close down this thread?

Comment #123518

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 12:41 AM (e)

Here’s something encountered via another thread: on the reasonableness of comparing Evolution denial to Holocaust denial:

http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2006/…

Therefore the question about why we can teach evolution denial (“the controversy”) but not Holocaust denial (also “the controversy”) is absolutely legitimate. Those evolution deniers who would try to change the topic and complain about unfair comparison to “the Nazis” are demagogues, pure and simple.

It seems that this applies not just to evolution deniers, but also to some former evolution deniers.

Comment #123574

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2006 6:56 AM (e)

And even if they did not change their position fully, did they change their position in any meaningful manner?

Good question.

Answer?

Well?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Comment #123592

Posted by k.e. on August 28, 2006 8:43 AM (e)

For Pim and MacNeil and all the other (polite) BTQBotFO.


He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams.

W.B. Yeats

…..And I don’t think he was talking about money when he was talking ‘being poor’.

Comment #123593

Posted by k.e. on August 28, 2006 8:45 AM (e)

For Pim and MacNeil and all the other (polite) BTQBotFO.


He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams.

W.B. Yeats

…..And (with all humility) I don’t think he was talking about money when he was talking ‘being poor’.

Comment #123649

Posted by k.e. on August 28, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

…undone by a slow mySQL commit

Comment #123675

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

Why would I close down this thread when it serves to expose the scientific vacuity of such claims as comparing MacNeill’s seminar and holocaust deniers. Even better, it shows how various ID critics seem to be quite unfamiliar with the design inference?

It’s a helpful reminder when certain ID critics accuse ID proponents of being unfamiliar with evolutionary theory…

Or in other words, if one wants to refute ID, it is helpful, nay necessary to familiarize oneself with ID’s premises, foundations and claims, lest one wants to be accused of creating and attacking a strawman version.

Thanks for playing, dear Popper, your answers and responses have been quite enlightening and suggest that seminars like the one given by Allen can be beneficial not just for IDers but also ID critics.

Comment #123677

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 1:00 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

You’re incapable of recognizing one. Your inability to actually offer a relevant response is what changed my mind from thinking that you were just being defensively argumentative to the view that you really are stupid.

Wow… I am shocked, truly shocked…

:-) thanks for showing some of your own intellectual proweness here Popper…. These are truly some of the best things you have said. ;-0

Comment #123681

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 1:03 PM (e)

Lenny Frank spams as usual rather than reading the thread

Well?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Lenny and Sal, “twin separated at birth?” You decide :-)

Comment #123686

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 1:21 PM (e)

OMFG!

There’s a big controversy in the scientific community!

Comment #123693

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 28, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

It’s a helpful reminder when certain ID critics accuse ID proponents of being unfamiliar with evolutionary theory…

To some degree, your points are taken regarding the necessity for understanding the claims of those with whom one would argue.
But I have to take exception here. There is no symmetry between “familiarity with the design inference,” a useless quasi-formalism with no applications to scientific methodology, and “familiarity with evolutionary theory,” a highly developed theoretical framework with great explanatory power and implications for many branches of science.

No matter what subject one is discussing, it behooves one to acquire relevant knowledge, so as not to be perceived as spouting ignorance. However, a greater such burden certainly falls to those who would “debunk” established science than to those who would dismiss Dembskian chicanery. Furthermore, the only use to which familiarity with the design inference can be put is exposing its vacuity, whereas understanding of evolutionary biology is worthwhile in and of itself as a component of general scientific literacy.

Comment #123694

Posted by David B. Benson on August 28, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

Anonymous_C — Much ado about nothing.

Comment #123700

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

CJ O'Brien wrote:

To some degree, your points are taken regarding the necessity for understanding the claims of those with whom one would argue.
But I have to take exception here. There is no symmetry between “familiarity with the design inference,” a useless quasi-formalism with no applications to scientific methodology, and “familiarity with evolutionary theory,” a highly developed theoretical framework with great explanatory power and implications for many branches of science.

True to some extent. However, if one dismisses ID as unscientific a-priori or if one dismisses ID as merely religiously motivated then one has lost an important opportunity to educate people about the why. IDers make a big deal about ID being scientifically fruitful and use this to suggest that ID is a scientific rather than a religious position. And while we all know that both are largely wrong, rejecting such claims with “and it still is not science” etc does not seem very helpful.
For instance, in discussing with Hannah, she placed a lot of importance on the concept of specified complexity, especially the new and improved version. So far, little has been said about this new version, which tries to resolve some known problems by introducing explicitly specificational and replicational resources as terms in the CSI equation. And while this helps resolve some issues, it also fails to resolve some of the major problems with CSI. Namely that in order for something to contain CSI, the probability has to be sufficiently small, yet for something to be likely, the probability has to be sufficiently large. In other words, any time one proposes a likely scenario, the probabilities increase and CSI disappears. And this happens whether or not the probabilities are intelligently designed or not. However, by excusing ID from contributing to any scientific explanation, ID can claim that it can generate CSI. So can any process, whose probabilities are not correctly taken into account.

Nevertheless, it is important that when on addresses CSI, that one keeps up to date with the ever evolving concepts lest one has to defend oneself against accusations of attacking a strawman.
Same happens in evolution where ID proponents focus on older research results to conclude that evolution does not explain ‘X’ even though more recent research paints a very different picture. Point in case: ID continues to quote from Valentine, even though Valentine is on the record that Darwinism is a very likely explanation of the Cambrian ‘explosion’.
In fact, most times ID makes claims and tries to support it with scientific references, I have found the research to be outdated. Just check out Meyer’s ‘review’ paper on the Cambrian…

As far as ID, the definition of design being the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity allows IDers to ‘argue’ that design cannot be captured by chance and/or regularity and yet, there is no apriori reason to assume that such a form of design exists in nature. In fact, I argue that for instance human intelligence can be described by regularity and chance, although it may be mostly an intractable problem. But so is the requirement set by ID to eliminate any and all known (and unknown) regularity and chance hypotheses.

Comment #123706

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 28, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

Personally, when I first “got into” the ID/Evolution debate (a couple of years ago) I took some time to make myself familiar with the literature of Dembski et al, just as you say, in order to be able to argue from a position other than a priori dismissal.

I spent a fair amount of time (hours I will never have back, damn you, Dembski!) poring over the materials on the DesignInference website, trying to understand the NFL theorums, the explanatory filter, etc and etc. I even subjected myself to Darwin’s Black Box. But when it came time to ask some direct questions of folks like Sal Cordova and Mike Gene about problems I was having with seemingly empty concepts like CSI, I encountered evasion, burden shifting, rapidly moving goalposts and conspiracy-theory-type “reasoning.”

It was this experience, more than my a priori suspicion of vacuity, that led me to the conclusion that the emperor was starkers. If the prominent supporters of an idea can’t make their central concepts plain to an educated layman, I feel justified in the conclusion that said concepts are not coherent.

Comment #123732

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 6:18 PM (e)

Why would I close down this thread when it serves to expose the scientific vacuity of such claims as comparing MacNeill’s seminar and holocaust deniers.

Repeating this without arguing for it certainly serves to expose something unpleasant. I did not compare the seminar to holocaust deniers, I compared evolution deniers – specifically Hannah Maxson – to holocaust deniers. And a comparison is not a “claim” and is not the sort of thing that can be scientifically vacuous; you are just throwing words around. As Sergey noted, this is demagoguery.

Even better, it shows how various ID critics seem to be quite unfamiliar with the design inference?

But you haven’t shown that, you’ve merely asserted it, but it’s contradicted by my comments that show that I am familiar with it. What your comments here expose is your inability or unwillingness to support your claims, and your retreat into ad hominems and other demagoguery when you are asked to do so.

Comment #123734

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 6:24 PM (e)

popper wrote:

But you haven’t shown that, you’ve merely asserted it, but it’s contradicted by my comments that show that I am familiar with it. What your comments here expose is your inability or unwillingness to support your claims, and your retreat into ad hominems and other demagoguery when you are asked to do so.

Remind us again about your familiarity with the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity? Or your unfamiliarity with teleology in nature?
I’d say that you may be projecting here when claiming that I am unwilling or unable to support my claims. .
Have you had some time to read up on the design inference and/or the concept of teleology in biology? Need more references? Time?…

Or is it time for another round of name calling?

Comment #123735

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 6:37 PM (e)

I did not compare the seminar to holocaust deniers, I compared evolution deniers – specifically Hannah Maxson – to holocaust deniers.

And for those who don’t want to waste their time searching the thread and might be inclined to take PvM’s misrepresentations at face value, here’s what I wrote:

MacNeill’s seminar strikes me a bit like a seminar on the Holocaust where Holocaust deniers are given equal time (including co-moderation of the blog), but all the swastikas and uniforms are hidden and the anti-semitic literature is dismissed as polemics (“that isn’t Holocaust denial”), leaving nothing but “an entirely hypothetical hypothesis”.

The analogy compares legitimate historic analysis of the Holocaust to scientific study of evolution, Holocaust denial to evolution denial, and IDers like Hannah Maxson to holocaust deniers. This is hardly a novel comparison; there have been whole threads at PT laying out the similarities, and I gave a link to a blog entry by Sergey Romanov where he does so, and notes that substance-free dismissals like PvM’s are demagoguery.

And I predict that PvM’s response will again be completely demagogic and free of any substantive argument, just like his “remind us again” comment directly above.

Comment #123736

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 6:44 PM (e)

CJ, I understand your findings. Remember that Sal is not really much of a fan of Dembski’s design inference although he seems to have found a new passion in trying to learn more about the concept of sets etc to allow him to discuss the new definition of CSI. He even claimed that the old and new definitions were equivalent, yet one form of CSI ranges from 0 to infinity the other one from a large negative number to infinity.
Mike Gene seems to have abandoned the common ID inferences and holds some hope for his front loading design, a concept even more vacuous than ID itself. So yes, when arguing ID activists like Mike or Sal, it makes little difference understanding ID, mostly because they themselves either reject it or are unable to defend it in any form or manner.
Different ID proponent groups require different approaches, I am mostly interested in the largest group of religiously motivated people who actually believe that ID is science. Calling it non-science, even if correct in the sense that it is scientifically vacuous, does not help much in convincing them. Showing how and why it is vacuous however, shows how ID a-posteriori is mostly useless. Still, ID has a foundation in a hypothesis (or hypotheses) and while they almost invariably end up being scientifically vacuous, rejecting ID as not being science, seems to simplistic as it is easily countered with the demarcation problem.

Comment #123739

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2006 6:59 PM (e)

Well?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Well?

Comment #123756

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 7:43 PM (e)

Well Well

Comment #123781

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 28, 2006 8:46 PM (e)

Nobody appointed me trainwreck-thread summarizer, or even dogcatcher.

But just in checking in:

PvM still hasn’t bothered to learn the differences between name-calling, insults, and ad hominem arguments.

PvM continues to attempt to make an ad hominem with his off-target holocaust ripostes.

PvM makes a fair point that, among the many other responses we need to make to IDiots and creationists, we do also need to scientifically refute the evolution-deniers’ vacuous and psuedoscientific “scientific sounding” claims. Though I’m not clear that anyone contributing to this thread ever actually disputed that rather uncontroversial approach.

I comprehend PvM’s argument that these claims may be most-persuasively refuted (for the very occasional convinced-IDer/Creobot who actually cares about persuasive argumentation, for which we apparently have an actual data point of one) if we first pretend to assume that these scientific-sounding claims might actually be scientific, and then proceed to demonstrate that they in fact are not, rather than just pronouncing from the get-go that the phony claims aren’t science, and then proceeding to demonstrate same.

But I haven’t yet been persuaded that that thin distinction actually amounts to an effective difference.

Nor do either Prof. MacNeill or PvM seem to grasp the (arguably much-greater) damage that it does to confer upon these crap claims even a transitory air of legitimacy by dubbing them “theoretical hypotheticals.”

If there’s anything important I’ve missed, I’m sure someone will let me know.

(Although I appreciated the couple of kind remarks about my earlier up-thread summary, ke’s summary on the related AtBC thread was shorter and much funnier.)

Comment #123801

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 9:32 PM (e)

PvM still hasn’t bothered to learn the differences between name-calling, insults, and ad hominem arguments.

PvM continues to attempt to make an ad hominem with his off-target holocaust ripostes.

Sigh… while name calling and insults need not be ad hominem they surely seem to be in this case where they are used, and combined with more traditional forms of ‘ad hominems’.

Nor do either Prof. MacNeill or PvM seem to grasp the (arguably much-greater) damage that it does to confer upon these crap claims even a transitory air of legitimacy by dubbing them “theoretical hypotheticals.”

They are scientific hypotheses, whether you and I like it or not. The true damage is done by those ignoring that ID is based on an hypothesis. That the hypothesis turns out to be scientifically vacuous is quite a separate issue.
Exposing ID’s claim that it is a scientific alternative, also requires one to accept that its foundational argument is certainly a hypothesis.
So what does more damage? Accepting the hypothesis of ID and showing how it leads to scientific vacuity versus arguing that ID is not scientific.
There is a lot of value in rebutting these foundational claims. If that means doing damage then that is unfortunate but I find the extent of the damage, if any, to be far less than ignoring the differences between ID leadership and many of its followers.

This has been an amusing thread and I understand now why some may see it as a trainwreck thread as people have interpreted Allen’s and my position as *giving credibility* to ID. Of course that this is far from the truth seems to be missed by most.

Nevertheless, I hope that people have come to appreciate that handing ID a small victory of having a theoretical foundation is easily outweighed by the inevitable consequences of its approaches.

Some have confused the theoretical nature of ID with proving that 2+2=5. However, the latter one is a claim of an equality which is inconsistent, the definition of design as given by Dembski, is fully consistent. Although one may come to realize that the use of the word design is not one commonly understood usage of the word, leading to a lot of conflation and equivocation, the definition is quite straightforward. So the set of design may very well be empty, or filled with false positives, or filled with examples of natural designers, nevertheless it is a scientific hypothesis.
As I have argued however, the concession is a very minor one and can serve to get the conversation beyond the issue of ID being scientific or not to a far more fruitful discussion on the scientific relevance of vacuity of ID.
Allen has provided its class with some very relevant and interesting reading materials on design, and teleology which clearly show how these issues are neither new, nor problematic for evolutionary theory.
And while ID is undoubtably religiously motivated, such arguments may carry little weight with ID proponents. Letting students explore the consequences of these arguments is imho far more effective.

Sure, ID may use/abuse these minor concessions but that’s nothing new.
This is likely my last posting on the thread. Feel free to have the final word.

Comment #123802

Posted by PvM on August 28, 2006 9:40 PM (e)

One final note, even if the efficacy of the approaches chosen by Allen may generate skepticism (and for good reasons), I fail to understand why the same does not apply to any approach that serves to educate people about ID? One surely cannot hope to change the mind of all ID proponents with a single argument. I see reason and logic as far more effective than insults and easily refuted claims that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated. Easily refuted in the sense that by separating the theory from its historical baggage, or distancing oneself from the unfortunate words, actions of some IDers, one can resurrect a scientific concept as the foundation for ID. A foundation which, as I have argued here and elsewhere, is of little relevance and leaves ID mostly scientifically vacuous. I personally am thrilled on Allen’s involvement in teaching about ID and evolutionary theory, including some philosophical issues. We need more of these hand on seminars and classes, increase the involvement of teachers to teach the true controversy.

Perhaps we can collect a series of approaches and determine their efficacy on changing people’s minds?

Comment #123805

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

Perhaps we can collect a series of approaches and determine their efficacy on changing people’s minds?

Personally, the only good thing any direct approach can do is like trying to stop an impeding flood with a wall of sandbags.

We need to have some direct approach at addressing ID, but we also need to cut the ground from under it by improving education in public schooling. And I’m not just talking about the US.

Even direct approaches can be made indirect. They can address ID directly, but they should also educate, even if it’s just the basics, about how to REALLY make sense of arguments. That it’s not about sitting around waiting for one side to convince your incredulity, but about being able to recognise the difference between science and non-science and the less commonly known (and more sneaky) logical fallacy.

Speaking from experience, being able to recognise the many types of logical fallacies in arguments really helps understanding.

Comment #123808

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

And while ID is undoubtably religiously motivated, such arguments may carry little weight with ID proponents.

ALL arguments carry little weight with ID proponents. That’s why MacNeill’s course had no measurable effect on them.

Like all those staged “debates” which don’t change anyone’s mind. Everyone leaves with the same views they had when they entered.

Just like MacMeill’s students (and his invited ID guests).

Comment #123824

Posted by argystokes on August 28, 2006 10:56 PM (e)

Pim,

I have absolutely no idea what this means:

They are scientific hypotheses, whether you and I like it or not. The true damage is done by those ignoring that ID is based on an hypothesis. That the hypothesis turns out to be scientifically vacuous is quite a separate issue.

They are scientific hypotheses, having no science? I fail to see how this is any different than nons(ci)ence.

Also, I am flankly amused that after his 20 thousand (OK, 20 x 1000) comments here, you have yet to learn Lenny’s name.

Comment #123839

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 11:41 PM (e)

They are scientific hypotheses, whether you and I like it or not.

Despite being scientifically vacuous and having null scientific content, somehow. Something is not “scientific” just because it’s offered by someone with four degrees (but none in a scientific field) or uses scientific-sounding jargon. NAS, AAAS, and other scientists rightly consider ID to be pseudoscience, and all your ad hominems – such as “The true damage is done by those ignoring that ID is based on an hypothesis” – won’t change that. And in addition to the pseudoscientific front that Dembski puts up to try to gain scientific respectability, ID is not “based on an hypothesis”, it is based on religious dogma and on a political agenda known as “the Wedge”.

Comment #123841

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

Sigh… while name calling and insults need not be ad hominem they surely seem to be in this case where they are used, and combined with more traditional forms of ‘ad hominems’.

Here are some ad hominems, typical of your responses:

Remind us again about your familiarity with the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity? Or your unfamiliarity with teleology in nature?
I’d say that you may be projecting here when claiming that I am unwilling or unable to support my claims. .
Have you had some time to read up on the design inference and/or the concept of teleology in biology? Need more references? Time?…

Comment #123842

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 29, 2006 12:03 AM (e)

I’m sticking with my idea that this isn’t really Pim, but a clever puppet who has at least read some of Pim’s posts on PT and in the Cornell course forum.

something like this:

We need more of these hand on seminars and classes, increase the involvement of teachers to teach the true controversy.

sounds more like someone from the DI promoting the “teach the controversy” strategy!

could somebody (Reed or Wes) confirm one way or the other?

ITMT would whoever is playing Pim kindly cough up the answer to my question:

but be specific, is the argument you present here essentially the same argument that swayed you from your previous YEC position?

Or was it something else?

bottom line, “Pim” you have done an extememly poor job of providing evidence as to how your approach or allen’s could possibly be effective in the larger scale of things, even when given an easy opportunity to mine the very forum you reference.

Moreover, not only have you failed to provide evidence as to the value of the approach, you have poorly mischaracterized both the “average” ID supporter, and the average PT poster in the process.

Whoever you are, your argument is short on many fronts.

suggest you scratch this and do more background work before you claim such “genius of concept”

ugh.

are you sure you aren’t “Mark Frank” from over on ATBC?

Comment #123847

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 12:15 AM (e)

I finally looked at the UD trackback, and in terms of PvM’s taking the design inference seriously, it’s right on, as I noted previously: seeing faces in natural formations has virtually nothing to do with the argument from design outlined by Paley and long predating him.

But there’s nothing scientific about the argument from argument; as Wesley Ellsbury points out in his review of “The Design Inference”, Dembski refines “design” in such a way that he does not exclude natural selection as a possible cause for events which can be classified as being due to design, that The “actualization-exclusion-specification” triad mentioned above also fits natural selection rather precisely. One might thus conclude that Dembski’s argument establishes that natural selection can be recognized as an intelligent agent, that Dembski’s triad of criteria for recognition of intelligent agents is also satisfied quite adequately by natural selection, that biologists can embrace a conclusion of design for an event of biological origin and still attribute that event to the agency of natural selection, that Dembski argues that a triad of criteria reliably diagnoses the action of an intelligent agent, yet this same triad of criteria fails to exclude natural selection as a possible cause of events that have the attribute of complexity-specification. Somehow, I doubt that natural selection is what Dembski had in mind for the agent of biological design.

There is no “scientific hypothesis” in Dembski’s work, there are just definitions, which are semantic shufflings with no empirical consequences. Science is about the facts of the world, it is not just a word game dishonestly employed in the service of religious dogma.

Comment #123848

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 12:27 AM (e)

Moreover, not only have you failed to provide evidence as to the value of the approach

Well, according to MacNeill, there is now one more YEC in the world who claims to accept microevolution and be “open to macroevolution”, and one more IDer who claims to accept common descent because Michael Behe accepts it so it must not violate the ID canons.

OTOH, by his report, all the other participants, who already accepted evolution, are now under the impression that Phillip Johnson’s The Wedge of Truth “isn’t ID” and that “ID is an entirely theoretical hypothesis …”, so it sounds like a net loss to me, though PvM probably considers it a good thing that these students have been indoctrinated into his view so they can go out into the world and “teach the true controversy”.

Comment #123849

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 12:39 AM (e)

I’m sticking with my idea that this isn’t really Pim, but a clever puppet…

Pimocchio?

Comment #123853

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

I think this whole discussion illustrates how the “silver bullet” strategy just doesn’t work. ie, we’re relying on finding THE method that will send ID crumbling, which is really reminiscent of the anti-science making arguments based on what they perceive to be the “fatal flaw”.

Those seminars are needed just as much as internet discussions, even if those discussions sometimes result in putting people down, since the targets are mostly the ID bigwigs who have demonstrated that they will continue lying until they perceive themselves to be shamed too much.

Seminars to educate (in this context meaning planting the seeds of curiosity) the public. Internet discussions to show and, more importantly, RECORD the lies that Creationists persist in using. Trying to improve education in general to limit further relapses back into anti-intellectualism.

After all, a tripod is the most basic stable structure. Trying to find the silver bullet solution is analogous to trying to build stability on an unsupported pole.

Comment #123858

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 29, 2006 1:31 AM (e)

I disagree.

It only takes one small book, like “Why Intelligent Design Fails” to more than fully explore the vapidity of ID.

OTOH, you could take a hundred different courses on evolutionary theory, and still learn something new the next day.

courses like Allens can be argued to add legitimacy where there is none.

the very argument NSF used as to why it was appropriate to boycott the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt.

At NO level, does ID rise as equal in comparison to ANY scientific theory, let alone the ToE.

It doesn’t require an entire course to see this for any rational individual.

Comment #123859

Posted by Registered User on August 29, 2006 1:41 AM (e)

Pim

I see reason and logic as far more effective than insults and easily refuted claims that ID is unscientific or religiously motivated.

Ah yes. And it will be “logic” and “reason” that ultimately causes the fundies’ fascination with anti-gay bigotry to retreat to the closet, along with their barely contained racism and misogyny. Is that right, Pim?

Please give us a break, Pim. It’s just lovely if you and Allen and Hannah and Sal enjoy your long-winded discussions about garbage where you and Allen can congratulate each other and Hannah and Sal and their “excellent” and “insightful” points. But stop trying to pretend that you are contributing to scientific understanding in a meaningful way when you do so. You’re wanking. That’s is.

Comment #123861

Posted by Registered User on August 29, 2006 2:00 AM (e)

Pim

Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that which you disagree.

I familiarized myself with Hannah and Sal and you and Allen long before I made it a point to see what sort of nonsense happened on the Allen Loves Hannah show.

For instance, in discussing with Hannah, she placed a lot of importance on the concept of specified complexity, especially the new and improved version. So far, little has been said about this new version, which tries to resolve some known problems by introducing explicitly specificational and replicational resources as terms in the CSI equation. And while this helps

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You just don’t get it, Pim. Look at how many thousands of words were wasted on trying to “understand” that three well-documented unapologetic LYING SACKS (Hannah Maxson, Sal Cordova, Bill Dembski) were (surprise!) spewing lying crap when it took Michael Hubl two or three sentences to accomplish the same goal in a fashion that is understandable to even the most mathematically incompetent moron.

Do you remember how it played out Pim? You and Allen (and Hannah, of course, who’s barred from posting here at any length by Dear Leaders Luskin and Sal) seem to be pretending it never happened. Do you remember, Pim?

Here’s what happened: Michael Hubl asked Hannah (who claimed that Dembski’s formulations were “easy to understand”) to provide everyone with unambiguous definitions of the essential terms. Hannah did that (or tried to). Then Michael asked Hannah to show everyone how the terms could be applied to evaluating whether a particular bacterial protein (FtsK) evolved or was designed by a “mysterious alien being.”

Do you remember Hannah’s response, Pim? Share it with us and tell us (1) why Michael’s takedown of Hannah was less effective than yours or Allen’s endless drivel; and (2) tell us why Allen banned Michael from posting immediately after Sal began to whine and complain about how his poor little darling was being treated. Which of the “ground rules” had Michael violated by requesting that Hannah support her bogus claims about evolutionary biology?

Inquiring minds would like to know these things.

Comment #123862

Posted by Registered User on August 29, 2006 2:06 AM (e)

Pim

Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that which you disagree.

I familiarized myself with Hannah and Sal and you and Allen long before I made it a point to see what sort of nonsense happened on the Allen Loves Hannah show.

For instance, in discussing with Hannah, she placed a lot of importance on the concept of specified complexity, especially the new and improved version. So far, little has been said about this new version, which tries to resolve some known problems by introducing explicitly specificational and replicational resources as terms in the CSI equation. And while this helps

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You just don’t get it, Pim. Look at how many thousands of words were wasted on trying to “understand” that three well-documented unapologetic LYING SACKS (Hannah Maxson, Sal Cordova, Bill Dembski) were (surprise!) spewing lying crap when it took Michael Hubl two or three sentences to accomplish the same goal in a fashion that is understandable to even the most mathematically incompetent moron.

Do you remember how it played out Pim? You and Allen (and Hannah, of course, who’s barred from posting here at any length by Dear Leaders Luskin and Sal) seem to be pretending it never happened. Do you remember, Pim?

Here’s what happened: Michael Hubl asked Hannah (who claimed that Dembski’s formulations were “easy to understand”) to provide everyone with unambiguous definitions of the essential terms. Hannah did that (or tried to). Then Michael asked Hannah to show everyone how the terms could be applied to evaluating whether a particular bacterial protein (FtsK) evolved or was designed by a “mysterious alien being.”

Do you remember Hannah’s response, Pim? Share it with us and tell us (1) why Michael’s takedown of Hannah was less effective than yours or Allen’s endless drivel; and (2) tell us why Allen banned Michael from posting immediately after Sal began to whine and complain about how his poor little darling was being treated. Which of the “ground rules” had Michael violated by requesting that Hannah support her bogus claims about evolutionary biology?

Inquiring minds would like to know these things.

Comment #123863

Posted by Registered User on August 29, 2006 2:06 AM (e)

Pim

Rule number one is to familiarize yourself with that which you disagree.

I familiarized myself with Hannah and Sal and you and Allen long before I made it a point to see what sort of nonsense happened on the Allen Loves Hannah show.

For instance, in discussing with Hannah, she placed a lot of importance on the concept of specified complexity, especially the new and improved version. So far, little has been said about this new version, which tries to resolve some known problems by introducing explicitly specificational and replicational resources as terms in the CSI equation. And while this helps

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You just don’t get it, Pim. Look at how many thousands of words were wasted on trying to “understand” that three well-documented unapologetic LYING SACKS (Hannah Maxson, Sal Cordova, Bill Dembski) were (surprise!) spewing lying crap when it took Michael Hubl two or three sentences to accomplish the same goal in a fashion that is understandable to even the most mathematically incompetent moron.

Do you remember how it played out Pim? You and Allen (and Hannah, of course, who’s barred from posting here at any length by Dear Leaders Luskin and Sal) seem to be pretending it never happened. Do you remember, Pim?

Here’s what happened: Michael Hubl asked Hannah (who claimed that Dembski’s formulations were “easy to understand”) to provide everyone with unambiguous definitions of the essential terms. Hannah did that (or tried to). Then Michael asked Hannah to show everyone how the terms could be applied to evaluating whether a particular bacterial protein (FtsK) evolved or was designed by a “mysterious alien being.”

Do you remember Hannah’s response, Pim? Share it with us and tell us (1) why Michael’s takedown of Hannah was less effective than yours or Allen’s endless drivel; and (2) tell us why Allen banned Michael from posting immediately after Sal began to whine and complain about how his poor little darling was being treated. Which of the “ground rules” had Michael violated by requesting that Hannah support her bogus claims about evolutionary biology?

Inquiring minds would like to know these things.

Comment #123864

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 2:21 AM (e)

Those seminars are needed just as much as internet discussions

An argument in support of that claim is lacking.

even if those discussions sometimes result in putting people down, since the targets are mostly the ID bigwigs who have demonstrated that they will continue lying until they perceive themselves to be shamed too much.

If anything, these seminars remove a source of shame by giving them credence as legitimate investigators, as PvM has so insisted that they be treated. But it doesn’t matter either way, as these folks will never be ashamed of doing what they see as their duty – remember, Wells got his degree in biology as part of his agenda to destroy scientific materialism. The idea that we could shame the staff of DI into not lying is absurd, just as the idea that we could shame Cheney and Rumsfeld into not lying is absurd. Rather than attempting to shame them, they should be marginalized, stripped of power and influence.

Comment #123867

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 2:27 AM (e)

I disagree.

Who with?

Comment #123873

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 2:35 AM (e)

After all, a tripod is the most basic stable structure. Trying to find the silver bullet solution is analogous to trying to build stability on an unsupported pole

It’s amazing that people who write such moronic BS can actually believe it. Aside from the fact that it is completely and utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand, a pole or a sheet of paper laying on the ground is stable, and a hemisphere is a stable non-planar structure and is arguably more “basic” than a tripod – which isn’t stable at all unless the legs are immobilized; a tetrahedron, which has six edges, is stable.

Comment #123875

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 2:39 AM (e)

And, of course, neither a hemisphere nor a tetrahedron provides a stable platform on which to build something. Not that any of these geometric structures have anything at all to with building cases.

Comment #123876

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 2:40 AM (e)

Those seminars are needed just as much as internet discussions

An argument in support of that claim is lacking.

I think I meant to say “similar” seminars are needed. Not exactly those that were given. Something less direct.

even if those discussions sometimes result in putting people down, since the targets are mostly the ID bigwigs who have demonstrated that they will continue lying until they perceive themselves to be shamed too much.

If anything, these seminars remove a source of shame by giving them credence as legitimate investigators, as PvM has so insisted that they be treated.

The part you quoted was respective to internet discussions (or what PvM was saying about being useless), not the seminars. And again, I think I had a slightly different kind of seminar in mind, which do not have any part in the shaming.

But it doesn’t matter either way, as these folks will never be ashamed of doing what they see as their duty – remember, Wells got his degree in biology as part of his agenda to destroy scientific materialism. The idea that we could shame the staff of DI into not lying is absurd, just as the idea that we could shame Cheney and Rumsfeld into not lying is absurd. Rather than attempting to shame them, they should be marginalized, stripped of power and influence.

Nowhere do I assume that the ID crowd are of an integrity as to voluntarily cease lying when shamed. I’m thinking more about turning public opinion against them by exposing their shameful behaviour. Certainly, public opinion did have an effect into causing AiG to put together their list of arguments that they should never use.

In that way, it can be said that public shaming is a method for marginalisation, power stripping etc.

I agree that we should not give them credibility by facing them on scientific grounds. But as Lenny has repeatedly pointed out, it’s a political affair. And social politics, whether they be seminars or internet discussions, are equally needed.

Comment #123877

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 2:40 AM (e)

Or, for that matter, shooting something down with bullets, to elaborate on the misused metaphors here.

Comment #123879

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 2:44 AM (e)

I think I meant to say “similar” seminars are needed.

Seminars on why these folks are a bunch of lying scum might indeed be useful, but they would not at all be similar to MacNeill’s seminar, which explicitly avoided all the “polemic” elements of ID.

Comment #123880

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 2:46 AM (e)

It’s amazing that people who write such moronic BS can actually believe it. Aside from the fact that it is completely and utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand, a pole or a sheet of paper laying on the ground is stable, and a hemisphere is a stable non-planar structure and is arguably more “basic” than a tripod – which isn’t stable at all unless the legs are immobilized; a tetrahedron, which has six edges, is stable.

And, of course, neither a hemisphere nor a tetrahedron provides a stable platform on which to build something. Not that any of these geometric structures have anything at all to with building cases.

And here, I thought you were finally shedding some of your anger. Serves me right for getting my hopes up.

Since it seems that you are metaphorically retarded, let me explain it to you:

Silver bullet solutions don’t work. You need a multitiered approach. It’s called modularisation (for lack of a better word in my software engineering vocabulary). Both sides here, you and PvM, are trying to convince each other that your solution is the only one that will work. That is making the same mistake as those in the anti-science movement thinking that they have “one fatal flaw” in which being attacked will cause everything else to crumble.

It won’t ever be like that.

So the reason I bring tripods vs vertical poles (- is clarification) is that they are METAPHORS.

Comment #123881

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 2:51 AM (e)

Seminars on why these folks are a bunch of lying scum might indeed be useful, but they would not at all be similar to MacNeill’s seminar, which explicitly avoided all the “polemic” elements of ID.

Again, I say it’s too direct.

As I try to say: be tactical.

Anger doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

Seminars LIKE MacNeill’s, but not the same, are needed. Think of it as an “infiltrator” tactic. Maybe I should use less complicated metaphors for you. “Infiltrator” is simple enough, right?

And again, nowhere do I assume that there does not need to be other concurrently utilised approaches. Your way is not the only way and cannot succeed without other tactics.

Comment #123883

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 2:56 AM (e)

Or, for that matter, shooting something down with bullets, to elaborate on the misused metaphors here.

So I guess every other references to “silver bullet” solutions in other literature are misused too.

Pray tell, why is it misused?

Comment #123884

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:00 AM (e)

So the reason I bring tripods vs vertical poles (- is clarification) is that they are METAPHORS.

Yes, they’re ridiculous inapplicable metaphors that don’t provide any real support for your claims, they are purely ad hoc inventions. To point that out is not to get angry, merely to tell the truth. But you do get pissed off when I point out that something you have said is absurd, and your being pissed off manifests in your launching in ad hominem psychobabble.

Comment #123885

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 3:13 AM (e)

Yes, they’re ridiculous inapplicable metaphors that don’t provide any real support for your claims, they are purely ad hoc inventions. To point that out is not to get angry, merely to tell the truth. But you do get pissed off when I point out that something you have said is absurd, and your being pissed off manifests in your launching in ad hominem psychobabble.

Yess, when you’re pissed off, you’re “telling the truth”.

When you perceive me as “pissed off”, I must be pissed off.

Something I said was absurd? What? By pointing out the FACT that one method CANNOT be THE solution? Apparently, “absurd” is when someone suggests that both methods are useful in concurrent application. It seems that anyone who’s not totally agreeing with you is “absurd”.

See, you make claims that I don’t support my claims. You accuse me of launching ad hominems. Yet, you’re the one who’s actually doing it.

“Moronic BS”? Sure, that’s not ad hominem.

“Inapplicable metaphors”? Yet you still have no explanation as to why they’re inapplicable other than you saying they are.

You are so hypocritical that you can’t even see it. And that’s not getting pissed off: that’s telling the truth.

Comment #123887

Posted by k.e. on August 29, 2006 3:20 AM (e)

Long ago… Before Dover (BD), on a forgotten blog page far,fa,r away, Sancho Sal was spiving for one of Dembski’s pseudo-scientific claims.

Each time he looked like he was being pinned down he simply changed the definition of CSI or whatever highly original sexy sounding three letters they picked that week.

One question I asked him was ‘Sal explain in plain English what Complex Specified Information IS, by not using the words “complex” or “specified” or “information” that is easily understood AND clearly unambiguous ‘. He declined my invitation.

Dembski’s book length word salads fail that simple test for pseudoscience.

In the end the there is no objective clearly unambiguous definition let alone tests to prove (biological living) some wishful dream of ‘information’ ….(complex, simple, specified or not).

It is just question begging.

When pseudo scientific entrepreneurs make claims on behalf of their ‘science’, we should not waste our time trying to determine whether their ‘science’ qualifies as scientific or pseudo-scientific. Rather, we should ask them: How do you know that your ‘science’ works? What is your evidence?

Now here is another question for those convinced of the efficacy of question begging aka ‘i.d.’.

What is the scientific theory of life not being the result of chance and the result of manufacture by the god of Christianity?

How did that happen and what is your evidence?

Another neat ploy used by id aficionados is a sort of ‘capture the flag’ game where each player tries to ‘own’ the letters ID with their rhetoric.

Well watch out…. apparently Rome and PB16 is onto that little PR scam, they are meeting next week to steal the flag, shove it up ther cassocks and make a hasty retreat to St. Peters.

Look out for some real narkly theological cut and thrust high wire mangling of language when they claim ID for themselves.

The ultimate success for ID will be it’s entry into the history of ideas as a hypothetical hula hoop stored in the vast libraries of the Vatican as a curiosity …a curiosity much like the corsets of Andy Warhol.

ID is to creationism
as
IPOD is to MP3 player.

Comment #123890

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:25 AM (e)

So I guess every other references to “silver bullet” solutions in other l
iterature are misused too.

Pray tell, why is it misused?

The misuse applies to your ridiculous babble about tripods. My point, way too subtle it seems, was that your metaphor would at least not have been mixed if you
had said we need three bullets to shoot down the beast, but then you would have lacked the inane “stability” justification.

Comment #123892

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:28 AM (e)

“Moronic BS”? Sure, that’s not ad hominem.

Indeed it isn’t; it’s characterization of what you wrote, which would be moronic BS regardless of who wrote it.

This might be considered ad hominem: you’re arrogant, ignorant, thickheaded, and reactive, which is why it’s a mistake for me to respond to you. Bye.

Comment #123897

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 3:36 AM (e)

The misuse applies to your ridiculous babble about tripods. My point, way too subtle it seems, was that your metaphor would at least not have been mixed if you
had said we need three bullets to shoot down the beast, but then you would have lacked the inane “stability” justification.

Well then, I guess we can safely say that you did not completely grasp the point of my post. Rather, you saw a metaphor that you didn’t understand in relation to my post but saw as an opportunity for more “look how great I am” acts and proceed with an ad hominem barrage.

The “stability” of a tripod (metaphor for a MULTITIERED approach) refers to the likelihood of the result to continue to have effect. I outlined three: your’s and PvM’s views for the present, and proper education for the immediate future.

“Shooting down the beast” again makes the wrong assumption that once you “kill” it, it’s gone for ever. I was focussing on the fact that Creationism will not die but can be controlled even further than what we have today if we did not place all our efforts into any single particular method.

Comment #123900

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:39 AM (e)

Something I said was absurd? What? By pointing out the FACT that one method CANNOT be THE solution?

Just to add a bit: I made it very clear what was absurd: your geometric metaphor about tripods. If you want to argue that one method cannot be the solution, then you need to actually present a relevant argument. But because you’re such an arrogant putz, you think you can just “point it out”, that it’s a fact just because you believe it, and so you can toss out the most inane pseudo-arguments, like your moronic BS about tripods being stable, as if, even if it were true, it would support your claim; the legs of a tripod are not “methods”, and whatever is true of the geometry of tripods is not transferable to methods for finding solutions, which makes the “metaphor” utter BS. The fact is that there are numerous examples of problems where a single method serves as a solution; shooting someone in the head with a plain old lead bullet is a method for ending their life, to point out the most ready example; there’s no need for three bullets, or to plunge the three legs of a tripod into them.

But none of this will have the slightest effect on you. Oh well.

Comment #123901

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 3:41 AM (e)

The misuse applies to your ridiculous babble about tripods. My point, way too subtle it seems, was that your metaphor would at least not have been mixed if you
had said we need three bullets to shoot down the beast, but then you would have lacked the inane “stability” justification.

Well then, I guess we can safely say that you did not completely grasp the point of my post. Rather, you saw a metaphor that you didn’t understand in relation to my post but saw as an opportunity for more “look how great I am” acts and proceed with an ad hominem barrage.

The “stability” of a tripod (metaphor for a MULTITIERED approach) refers to the likelihood of the result to continue to have effect. I outlined three: your’s and PvM’s views for the present, and proper education for the immediate future.

“Shooting down the beast” again makes the wrong assumption that once you “kill” it, it’s gone for ever. I was focussing on the fact that Creationism will not die but can be controlled even further than what we have today if we did not place all our efforts into any single particular method.

Comment #123902

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:46 AM (e)

Well then, I guess we can safely say that you did not completely grasp the point of my post.

This is characteristic of you; everything boils down to your “point”, as in the other thread. The notion that you point might be wrong, or even if right might be wrongly argued, is beyond your imagining, arrogant putz that you are. If one doesn’t accept your bogus reasoning, they must not have grasped your point. Oh, but your reasoning doesn’t have to actually make your case, it can just be “metaphorical”, because whatever point you’re making is a priori a “fact”, and given your limited situation, there’s no need for you to present a complete thesis – complete BS will do.

Comment #123904

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 3:55 AM (e)

If you want to argue that one method cannot be the solution, then you need to actually present a relevant argument.

I did. Mostly by pointing out that we are already seeing that single, unconcerted efforts, have had no effect. You already point out the futility of MacNeill’s efforts. Similarly, the methods you proposed (I’m not even sure you proposed any, just attacked MacNeill’s efforts while not coming up with an replacement or complementary methods) have not worked on their own either.

But because you’re such an arrogant putz, you think you can just “point it out”, that it’s a fact just because you believe it, and so you can toss out the most inane pseudo-arguments, like your moronic BS about tripods being stable, as if, even if it were true, it would support your claim; the legs of a tripod are not “methods”, and whatever is true of the geometry of tripods is not transferable to methods for finding solutions, which makes the “metaphor” utter BS.

Strange how you can read so much into something just because you believe it’s so. It seems that you’ve concluded I was arrogant, then chain together a bunch of unsupported psychobabble and claim that points to arrogance.

Why don’t you keep in mind that this is a BLOG. This is not a place where we form committees, decide on world changing philosophies and dole out salvation to all mankind.

And use full stops.

The fact is that there are numerous examples of problems where a single method serves as a solution; shooting someone in the head with a plain old lead bullet is a method for ending their life, to point out the most ready example; there’s no need for three bullets, or to plunge the three legs of a tripod into them.

Strange how your use of metaphors is even poorer than mine.

You can really only make that argument if you can demonstrate how ideologies are synonymous to a mortal being with a cranially centred data processing organ. Not to mention the fact that many people have survived bullet wounds to the head. One look inside the Guinness Book of Records can prove that.

The fact that the numerous unconcerted efforts like the isolated court cases, the seminars, the efforts of people like you who are quick to resort to reactionary attacking of anyone you don’t agree with has not killed off Creationism is ample proof that silver bullet solutions do not work in this context.

You make an argument by analogy, but you haven’t a real world occurrence concerning Creationism to base it on. Not to mention you behave exactly like Creationists in thinking that pointing out flaws in metaphors somehow constitutes flaws in the ACTUAL arguments.

Comment #123905

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 3:57 AM (e)

The “stability” of a tripod (metaphor for a MULTITIERED approach)

Tripods don’t have multiple tiers or anything analogous to tiers. But the rank stupidity of your metaphors doesn’t seem to matter to you, because you have a “point” to make.

Comment #123910

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:02 AM (e)

the methods you proposed (I’m not even sure you proposed any

Idiot.

Comment #123911

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:03 AM (e)

This is characteristic of you; everything boils down to your “point”, as in the other thread.

Oh. Sorry for not allowing you to “win” by creating strawmen.

The notion that you point might be wrong, or even if right might be wrongly argued, is beyond your imagining, arrogant putz that you are.

Strange. As I have elaborated over many times the specifics of why I think my point has weight. When you present a criticism, I addressed them. Arguing for my position, just like how many scientists are arguing for their thesis, in your mind is “arrogant”.

If one doesn’t accept your bogus reasoning, they must not have grasped your point.

The problem is not about acceptance. It’s about your expectation that people take your criticism without questioning. If you had presented your criticism with actual REASONING, you might have had a case. But you didn’t.

Oh, but your reasoning doesn’t have to actually make your case, it can just be “metaphorical”, because whatever point you’re making is a priori a “fact”, and given your limited situation, there’s no need for you to present a complete thesis – complete BS will do.

No. I’ve already explained and elaborated on how none of my reasoning is based on a priori facts.

It’s like I have to do everything to your approval for you to stop behaving like an asshole. If you disagree, fine. But don’t expect anyone to take your criticism without question, because your criticisms are not a priori facts either.

Comment #123914

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:11 AM (e)

Tripods don’t have multiple tiers or anything analogous to tiers. But the rank stupidity of your metaphors doesn’t seem to matter to you, because you have a “point” to make.

Right. Because the “point” never matters. If you shoot down a metaphor, that automatically means the ACTUAL argument is wrong too.

By the way, I already provided actual (though generalised) examples that you requested. Don’t let that get in the way of believing that shooting down metaphors means the original premise/point/whatever are wrong.

Strange how all this could have been avoided if you just requested actual examples, instead of assuming that my reasoning must be empty and attack with ad hominem arguments.

Idiot.

You lose.

By the way, do you have any friends?

My offer to talk over your anger issues and self-worth issues is still up.

Comment #123916

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:16 AM (e)

Sorry for not allowing you to “win” by creating strawmen.

There’s no competition, moron. You’re stupid and irrational whether I point out why or not.

Comment #123917

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:19 AM (e)

It’s like I have to do everything to your approval for you to stop behaving like an asshole.

Poor child. All you would need to do is stop being dishonest, but your brain being in the physical state that it’s in, and you being an epiphenomenon of your brain activity, you can’t achieve that. Hey, life’s unfair.

Comment #123918

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:21 AM (e)

There’s no competition, moron. You’re stupid and irrational whether I point out why or not.

See? Straight from the horse’s mouth.

You don’t have to give a reason. If you deem someone as stupid and irrational, people must accept your judgement. If people ask for reasons, repetition of your judgement should be good enough for anyone.

You arrogant putz, you.

Tell you what: I’ll give you a million USD if you can make it a whole year on PandasThumb without childish name calling like “moron”.

Comment #123921

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:24 AM (e)

All you would need to do is stop being dishonest,

See?

More unsubstantiated claims. If I had knowingly spread a falsehood, please point it out. Everything here is recorded and unedited.

Just like you said, you believe you’ve argued for something when you merely just asserted it.

Comment #123923

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:30 AM (e)

You arrogant putz, you.

How original. Like I said quite a while ago, it’s a mistake to respond to you, because you’re like one of those cargo cult tribes, mimicing the appearance of a rational reasoning person but not actually understanding how it all fits together, what the causal relationships are. But the superficial resemblance between cargo cult artifacts and the real thing can be seductive. But hey, I’m talking to myself here; there’s no genuine comprehension at the other end.

Comment #123928

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:35 AM (e)

You should get a second opinion. Since the second opinion will be the only one that counts, not yours. Not if you persist in ad hominems while trying to divert attention away from that fact by accusing others of ad hominems.

there’s no genuine comprehension at the other end.

Translation: Anonymous_Coward will not accept your judgement on blind faith.

As you’ve said before, you don’t need to give reasons. You just want to be treated like a God. Sorry, I’m an atheist.

Comment #123929

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:39 AM (e)

You arrogant putz, you.

How original. Like I said quite a while ago, it’s a mistake to respond to you,
because you’re like one of those cargo cult tribes, mimicing the appearance of
a rational reasoning person but not actually understanding how it all fits
together, what the causal relationships are, what fits where and when, and so
the errors multiply beyond any limit of time and energy to address them – and
doing so is as pointless as arguing with a random sentence generator. But the
superficial resemblance between cargo cult artifacts and the real thing can be
seductive. But hey, I’m talking to myself here; there’s no genuine
comprehension at the other end.

Comment #123930

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:41 AM (e)

Anonymous_Coward will not accept your judgement on blind faith.

Anonymous_Coward is a rationalization machine; a fancy chatbot.

Comment #123932

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:48 AM (e)

Anonymous_Coward is a rationalization machine; a fancy chatbot.

Translation: Popper’s ghost is incapable of making substantiated assertions, thus he needs to resort to name calling and unimaginative comparisons.

Comment #123933

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 4:49 AM (e)

You don’t have to give a reason. If you deem someone as stupid and irrational, people must accept your judgement.

Here’s an example of how the cargo cult chatbot adopts the form of reasoning but doesn’t actually reason. The real person of course has no need to have the chatbot “accept” his judgment – whatever that might mean for a chatbot. The real person simply stated a clearly observable fact, as observable as is evolution. The reasons for accepting evolution are the observations. Rational people make the observations and recognize that evolution has occurred.

Comment #123936

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 4:55 AM (e)

The real person of course has no need to have the chatbot “accept” his judgment – whatever that might mean for a chatbot.

And you call me arrogant.

The real person simply stated a clearly observable fact, as observable as is evolution.

Such rhetoric is very becoming of Creationists.

I stated clearly observable facts: that you expect people to agree with your judgements because you cannot be wrong, at least in your own mind.

The reasons for accepting evolution are the observations. Rational people make the observations and recognize that evolution has occurred.

No True Scotsman…

The funny thing is, your behaviour shows that you don’t see any need to apply that criteria to your own comments.

Strange how you conveniently not-observe the fact that my “assertion” have been argued already. Yet, like a Creationist, prefers to switch and bait.

Comment #123937

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:00 AM (e)

Translation: Popper’s ghost is incapable of making substantiated assertions, thus he needs to resort to name calling and unimaginative comparisons.

Another example of chatbot operation. The chatbot goes through motions similar to a somewhat dimwitted person defending his ego by attacking his attacker with hyperbole, but doesn’t actually relate its comments to what it responds to because it doesn’t comprehend it. But the chatbot’s output is vaguely interesting in what it reveals about the chatbot’s algorithms, much as with the outputs of a random sentence generator.

Comment #123938

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:09 AM (e)

And you call me arrogant.

It’s amusing to note that the chatbot chatters on as if the real person still viewed it as also being a real person.

Comment #123939

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 5:10 AM (e)

Another example of chatbot operation. The chatbot goes through motions similar to a somewhat dimwitted person defending his ego by attacking his attacker with hyperbole, but doesn’t actually relate its comments to what it responds to because it doesn’t comprehend it. But the chatbot’s output is vaguely interesting in what it reveals about the chatbot’s algorithms, much as with the outputs of a random sentence generator.

Damn, dude. Make it clear who you’re addressing.

You are talking about yourself, aren’t you?

I think anyone else here can probably find a few of your posts on this thread that exactly fits the behaviour you describe.

Again, if you’re so confident of your views of me, why don’t you get a second opinion? Or are you still exempt from the rules you place on others?

Comment #123941

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 5:16 AM (e)

It’s amusing to note that the chatbot chatters on as if the real person still viewed it as also being a real person.

Another example of chatbot (P’s g) operation. The chatbot (P’s g) goes through motions similar to a somewhat dimwitted person defending his ego by attacking his attacker with hyperbole, but doesn’t actually relate its comments to what it responds to because it doesn’t comprehend it. But the chatbot’s (P’s g) output is vaguely interesting in what it reveals about the chatbot’s (P’s g) algorithms, much as with the outputs of a random sentence generator.

I realise why I seem like a chatbot.

Chatbots work quite well with others who have no original thought in their head. Predictable responses, like those of hyperbole (like you calling me a chatbot and comparing me to a rand-gen) only need substandard responses.

Comment #123942

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:17 AM (e)

The chatbot chatters on. If it were a rational agent, there might be some discernable semantic content to its utterances that might be worth considering, but as it isn’t, there aren’t.

Comment #123944

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:20 AM (e)

Another example of chatbot (P’s g) operation.

The chatbot again demonstrates its capacity to mimic … ah, but I repeat myself.

Comment #123946

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 5:24 AM (e)

The chatbot chatters on. If it were a rational agent, there might be some discernable semantic content to its utterances that might be worth considering, but as it isn’t, there aren’t.

Many things:

1) It’s discernable semantic content because you say so.
2) Tautology: I’m a chatbot, therefore I cannot be a rational agent. Since I cannot be a rational agent, my utterances aren’t worth considering. Therefore, I’m a chatbot.
3) Ad hominem: my utterances aren’t worth considering, therefore everything I say must be wrong.

I can thus confirm that you’re really a Fundi under a different belief system.

Comment #123948

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 5:28 AM (e)

4) Since I’m a bot, my content can be said to be predictable from my input: namely, your content.

Comment #123949

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:30 AM (e)

This real-life application of Dennett’s Intentional Stance theory, by abandoning the intentional stance toward the source of a set of internet posts and instead adopting the design stance has been interesting, educational, and even useful, and I think I may employ this approach toward similar sources (that is, those that similarly display a lack of rational faculty) in the future.

Comment #123959

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 5:46 AM (e)

$ Anonymous_Chatbot Analysis:

$ Signal to Noise ratio: 0%

$ Biological analysis of Planet Popper’s ghost: mostly creationist.

$ Biological sample brain activity analysis: error, no input.

$ Anonymous__Chatbot Solutions Evaluator:

$ Result: Reach out to Popper’s ghost to help him with anger problems.

Comment #123967

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 6:13 AM (e)

$ Anonymous_Chatbot receiving orders:

$ Orders: Wait for response to post where claims are backed up

$ Anonymous_Chatbot: Calculating chances of Popper’s ghost addressing the point at hand…

$ 2.3%

Comment #124036

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 12:33 PM (e)

One more comment

You need a multitiered approach. It’s called modularisation (for lack of a better word in my software engineering vocabulary). Both sides here, you and PvM, are trying to convince each other that your solution is the only one that will work.

I could not agree more with you that a multitiered approach is needed. The idea of a one fits all is ridiculous. I believe the seminar is very effective because it allows interested students to research the issues and come to their own conclusions. Allen has chosen some very good papers on teleology in nature, and has written some excellent postings on analogies and how they are quite poor arguments.
Given the location of the seminar, at a university, it targets students who are toying with the concept of ID.

Comment #124040

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 12:38 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

This real-life application of Dennett’s Intentional Stance theory, by abandoning the intentional stance toward the source of a set of internet posts and instead adopting the design stance has been interesting, educational, and even useful, and I think I may employ this approach toward similar sources (that is, those that similarly display a lack of rational faculty) in the future.

Some would even argue that you have already displayed such. I hope at least that the lesson learned is that it helps to be familiar with the position of IDers before trying to attack strawmen. Allen has placed on line some excellent papers on the topic of teleology in nature, and I believe many ID critics would do well familiarizing themselves with them. As for the fundamental definition of design as being the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, I believe that people would benefit from exploring this definition to determine how limited the design inference really is.

As Del Ratzsch pointed out a long time ago, the definition may surprise both IDers and ID critics alike. Combine this with the very weak step from design to agency and one sees how easy it is to cut off design at the ankles. Far more effective than name calling.

Comment #124049

Posted by k.e. on August 29, 2006 1:28 PM (e)

PvM…just as a matter of interest what is your definition of ‘design’ as it applies to living objects (before man was able intervene in the reproductive process, just to keep things simple) and please don’t use any analogies with Human creativity or synonyms of the word design.

Please describe the act or process which contributes to the living object being ‘designed’ as per your definition above, again without using the word design.

Why is every single generation and individual in most living things a different ‘design’.

Describe a test that would reveal an unchanging and unique set of ‘plans’ for that underlying design if any and if it is unique from one individual to the next can it be called design?.

Comment #124051

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 29, 2006 1:32 PM (e)

PvM, other than telling us that you, personally, like the seminar, you have yet to provide any evidence of its “effectiveness,” which, based on Prof. MacNeill’s testimony, has been underwhelming, at least in this first iteration.

Uh, I imagine most academic seminars are hosted by universities. This one may have been “targeted” at those “toying with ID,” but it apparently attracted no such students, but only a couple of unregistered auditors, neither of whom underwent any significant change of position, as has been conceded by MacNeill, and repeated here many times.

Enwrapped in Pollyanna’s glow, you seem impervious to these points.

No one here, as far as I’ve been able to count, has been persuaded by your claims that the ID “hypothesis” is scientific or that greater familiarization with the details of ID’s psuedoscientific design claims will lead either to any surprising insights or to any more effective means of refutation.

Popper (setting all the good fun that he and A_C have been enjoying aside) has backed up his claim that Wesley has more convincingly fisked Dembski’s design on the prior thread (that you cited) than you or MacNeill have shown yourselves to have done here.

Again, though, you seem blithely impervious to these points.

“Cutting ID off at the ankles” (a strikingly uncivil simile) may be a more effective way of refuting its rare psuedoscientific claims than name-calling (at last, and at least, some implicit recognition that name-calling is not the “ad hominem” fallacy), but you have yet to persuade anyone that it’s necessary to grant ID some initial credibility in order to accomplish this.

In any event, thank you for hosting an interesting–if devilishly-twisted–thread.

And good luck with all that non-name calling, hypothesis-chopping.

Comment #124054

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

KE asks some excellent questions

PvM…just as a matter of interest what is your definition of ‘design’ as it applies to living objects (before man was able intervene in the reproductive process, just to keep things simple) and please don’t use any analogies with Human creativity or synonyms of the word design.

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Please describe the act or process which contributes to the living object being ‘designed’ as per your definition above, again without using the word design.

ID is not interested in such details. Remember, I am merely accepting ID’s definitions and explore where they may lead. In this case vacuity.

Why is every single generation and individual in most living things a different ‘design’.

Describe a test that would reveal an unchanging and unique set of ‘plans’ for that underlying design if any and if it is unique from one individual to the next can it be called design?.

You are asking the wrong person. But with the recent shift of ID from intervention to frontloading, I can see why ID would end up embracing common descent under the misnomer of common design. Of course, common design would require that it be the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance, which it obviously isn’t.

Compare Dembski’s formulation with for instance ISCID’s formulation

A four-part process by which a designer forms a designed object: (1) A designer conceives a purpose or goal. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) The designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. What emerges is a designed object, and the designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.

Far more detailed but as such an equivocation on terminology.

Or ISCID’s formulation of the Design Inference

A form of inference in which design or intelligent agency is attributed to an event on the basis of its complexity (small probability) and specification.

Which confuses design and agency as well as uses confusing terminology of complexity and specification without the necessary details to make much of any argument. As Dembski asserted in the past: specification in biology is simple: it’s called function. So now all that we need is probability, but which one? The probability of chance processes (or likelihood?)? As is so often used by Dembski, or the probability under the hypothesis of the actual hypothesis? THe latter one would mean that once you hit the right hypothesis, whether it be intelligent or non-intelligent design, the probability/likelihood becomes large enough for the hypothesis to be probable, and thus also too large for it to contain information (ID speak for something being improbable). Once one realizes how terminology is conflated and how ID switches from narrowly defined concepts to the general, it is self evident that ID has no clothes…
ID is in other words, cut off at the ankles, rather than falling into the trap of arguing against hypotheses etc which do not follow from its premises. Once one accepts the basic definition of design, it is clear that the proposed design inference is scientifically vacuous.
Which explains why ID refuses to address processes, pathways etc and why ID has been unable to contribute in any meaningful manner to science

Comment #124059

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 2:00 PM (e)

As far as Steve’s comments, I have no interest in convincing ID critics that this approach should be pursued, although I believe that ID critics could learn a lot from the seminar. I believe that the seminar can have success, and is worth pursuing. Others may feel that commenting on ID relevant threads is going to convince ID proponents of their follies, I have no problem with that.
I personally believe that a well educated and informed public will be far less likely to accept the vacuous claims of ID as scientifically relevant.
As far as the ‘conclusion’ that the course had no effect, I am still trying to figure out how one can determine this? Yes, Allen stated that no-one switched position, but that’s to be expected given the duration of the course and the emotional investments involved. In fact, I could very well see people abandoning the scientific part of ID while still holding on to its religious concepts. And some evidence provided by Allen (based on a very small sample and without clear before and after data) suggests that this is what may have happened.

Allen wrote:

The remaining two students came into the class as committed IDers (Hannah and Rabia were not registered students, BTW; they were “invited guests” - invited by me). These two students were considerably less convinced of the ID position at the end of the course than they were when they came in, shifting from a blanket rejection of all of evolutionary theory to accepting most of evolutionary theory while maintaining a “wait and see” attitude about the origin of life/genetic code/selected biochemical pathways. One of these two also came to accept common descent (primarily because it became clear that Behe does so as well, and therefore a “good IDer” can accept common descent without giving up ID). The other (a self-described YEC) shifted very significantly over the summer, coming to accept natural selection as the primary “engine” of microevolution, and “having an open mind” about macroevolution. Both of these two IDers came into the course pretty strongly opposed to evolution and supportive of ID, but by the end (and as a result of the process by which we analyzed the various readings assigned for the course) they came to appreciate and apply the technique of critical analysis and argumentation with supportive evidence.

To me, that makes the course very much worthwhile. So much so, in fact, that I’m repeating it as a special section in my good friend and colleague Will Provine’s evolution course this fall (Will is wildly in favor of the idea, BTW). Should make life even more interesting between now and the winter solstice.

Comment #124061

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 29, 2006 2:14 PM (e)

As for the fundamental definition of design as being the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, I believe that people would benefit from exploring this definition to determine how limited the design inference really is.

First off, that isn’t “the design inference”. At best it is merely one version of it.

Secondly, we have all heard this lame definition (at least I’m quite confident that the main commenters here have), and we have noticed that it doesn’t even utilize scientific terms. That is to say, as such it is already outside of the realm of science, since “chance” in science isn’t the sort of “chance” that these metaphysicians believe in.

Classical “chance” is also the result of “regularity”, and it is absurd to juxtapose the two. This is why we don’t respond to it, because the definition itself fails to take account of science and its understandings.

I know that Pim has for too long claimed that humans are themselves agents operating according to chance and regularity, indicating that the IDists have had limited success in changing the terms of the debate away from the normal scientific understanding. It isn’t so much wrong to say that we operate according to chance and regularity (not in certain contexts, at least), as it is a distortion of the scientific understanding of causality throughout the classical sciences.

And third, there is no basis for claiming that design is “the set complement of chance and regularity”, even if we accepted the last two terms. Science actually recognizes only physical (that is, empirically demonstrated) causes, classically, and design itself is only understood as due to causes. That is to say, out of
“design, chance, and regularity”, at best only “regularity” is a term that comes close to the scientific understanding of causation, and it is absurd to allow IDists to shift the terms of debate to include “design” or “chance” as anything fundamental within classical science.

As Del Ratzsch pointed out a long time ago, the definition may surprise both IDers and ID critics alike. Combine this with the very weak step from design to agency and one sees how easy it is to cut off design at the ankles. Far more effective than name calling.

It isn’t even slightly surprising, it is simply a bad definition intended to bypass scientific standards and understandings, and to replace those with metaphysical constructs which have no empirical basis whatsoever. What is surprising is that anyone on our side would even suggest that metaphysical constructs should be treated like scientific hypotheses are.

This is what scares us about the seminar, that it appears to treat metaphysical constructions of what “science should be” on roughly the same level as it does science. OK, I don’t know for certain that it does, but Pim’s and MacNeill’s arguments, plus the course description, lead us to suspect as much.

So far the most obvious convert to the IDist subversion of science and its definitions appears to be Pim himself. Never mind that ID arguably fails even on its own grounds. This purported fact is at best a philosophical argument, not a scientific one. Science is concerned about observations understood according to known and verified cause/effect interactions (in the classical realm) something that ID, and apparently Pim now, fails to address in the required scientific manner.

Pim is faulting us for not allowing ID metaphysics to govern our considerations of ID. While we fault him for taking metaphysics as science. We have the better argument, of course, but only through the established practice of science. We can’t argue Pim down when he accepts the subversion of science into his own standard of what science is.

The arguments have been made, and Pim is solidly on the side of metaphysics, at least in this argument. Thankfully the courts have not been, so let’s revisit the summary that Judge Jones made when ruling (among other things) that ID isn’t science:

First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces.

(Thank you PZ Myers for putting this up again today).

So let Pim be, good fellows, for he simply states that we should be open-minded and accept the revisioning and redefinition of science. It’s nothing that Johnson and Ahmanson haven’t already recommended, so why not?

Or more seriously, you really aren’t going to convince anyone who has accepted the shift in science definition that ID proposes. As long as the courts and scientific practice adhere to science as practiced, the Enlightenment persists. After that goes, the Dark Ages.

The good thing is that in a millenium or two, the metaphysics of the IDists might be thrown off again. Just have patience.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #124062

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 29, 2006 2:19 PM (e)

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Now defend it using science and its standards, not ID metaphysics.

Has any actual scientist ever accepted such a definition, that is, has he accepted it as a scientist? Let’s revisit what Jones wrote again, since I think it can’t be presented to Pim any too often:

First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Glen D
http

Comment #124065

Posted by k.e. on August 29, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

So the ‘design’ of a living thing is “The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”,

OK

Name the set elements.

Please describe the act or process which contributes to the living object being ‘designed’ as per your definition above, again without using the word design.

ID is not interested in such details. Remember, I am merely accepting ID’s definitions and explore where they may lead. In this case vacuity.

Well vacuity is one word for it I’m more inclined to say dishonesty.

No test? Not science! End of story.

They can equivocate until rapture for all I care.

The analogy Dembski uses of a human engineer carrying out a building process is neatly summed up in Genesis, in answer to the same question.

How did we get here?

God took a handful of dust and created man, woman was a little more painful ….for that man at least.

Genesis is a lot more imaginative, if not creative and a lot less mechanistic, anyhow Dembski can’t be serious surely? His hackneyed nonsense has to be just a game.

Comment #124119

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 5:30 PM (e)

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Despite Wesley Ellsbury showing how poor it is as a definition:

The catch is that Dembski is using his own definition of design, where design is simply the explanation that remains after chance and regularity are eliminated. This is touted by Dembski as an advantage for the purposes of his argumentation, since he avoids attributing either causal stories or the intervention of intelligent agency a priori. In no fewer than 3 separate passages in TDI (p 8, 36, 226-7), Dembski assures the reader that the design of TDI does not imply agency.

One may wonder what TDI was supposed to accomplish, if design no longer means what Paley meant by it and the attribution of agency no longer follows from finding design. But Dembski believes that finding design does imply agency, even though he has identified that implication as being unnecessary.

It is an error to argue from the casual meanings of regularity, chance, and design when discussing causes for events classified by Dembski’s explanatory filter or by TDI. Someone might seek to exclude natural selection from consideration as a source of events that meet the criteria of design by claiming that it is either a regularity or chance. But TDI classifies events, not causes.

There is a difficulty in discussing these concepts in that the meanings of the terms regularity, chance, and design can become confused with newer meanings which arise from the argument of The Design Inference. It is important to keep the casual meanings separate. Unfortunately, it is not clear that even Dembski manages to keep track of what the terms really mean. For example, even though Dembski clearly explains that design does not imply agency, Dembski offers as the 3 possible categories of explanation in his first example “Regularity”, “Chance”, and “Agency” (p 11).

In summary, the process of detecting design, as it is done by humans in day-to-day activities, is not accurately captured by Dembski’s Explanatory Filter. The order in which classes of causes are eliminated makes a difference. Humans attempting to explain phenomena can and often do find insufficient evidence to make a final determination of either design or any other explanatory category. And when humans use the word design, they typically mean it to carry a real implication of being due to an agent, or designer.

And, Wesley proposes an alternative, superior definition of “design”:

For comparison, I will propose an alternative explanatory filter and discuss various points of difference with Dembski’s. My alternative explanatory filter works as follows. An event that cannot be statistically distinguished from a random event is classified as due to chance. An event that conforms to properties of known law-like physical processes is classified as being due to regularity. An event that conforms to known properties of similar events that are due to intelligent agents are classified as due to design….the loaded dice example resolves into an instance of design, not regularity. This does not mean that design then has explanatory priority. Rather, it illustrates the superior explanatory power of the alternative filter in which the other explanatory classes of causation, chance and regularity, had to be considered and rejected first before design could be concluded….Second, my explanatory filter has one more alternative classification than Dembski’s, that of unknown causation. This alternative recognizes that the set of knowledge used to make a classification can alter the classification. Third, my alternative explanatory filter retains the common meaning of design as a reliable indicator of agency….

Comment #124124

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 29, 2006 6:00 PM (e)

“Pim” wrote:

I believe the seminar is very effective because it allows interested students to research the issues and come to their own conclusions.

that’s great for a summerschool class for children, rather poor for a university level course.

How is it that a normal course on evolutionary biology does NOT let students research the issues?

…and typically, when we find that a student comes to an erroneous conclusion (remember the crypsis paper?), we have a responsibility as educators to point out that error, not “let it slide” for parsimony’s sake.

You’ve lost this debate, “Pim”, either regroup and come at it from a new angle, or give it up and move on.

does anybody still listening disagree that Pim has not demonstrated the value of his “approach” empirically, or even logically?

please explain why, because Pim has not.

Comment #124126

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

Name the set elements.

Long ago I pointed out the “chance” and “regularity” are not sets, and that to talk about “set theoretic complement” requires specification of the “universe” – the set that the complement is a subset of. That was met with derisive ad hominems from PvM. But as Wesley Ellsbury points out, “TDI classifies events, not causes. Dembski points this out himself when saying that the explanatory filter may not always conclude design for an event that we know is due to the action of an intelligent agent, for agents can mimic the results of regularity or chance. The point is broader than Dembski admits. A causal class cannot be lumped into regularity or chance in advance without begging the question”.

You cannot divide up the set of “events” into “events resulting by chance”, “events resulting from regularity”, and “events resulting from design”, by Dembski’s definitions or by any other definition, as these terms are hopelessly vague and overlap; as Wesley writes, “Dembski offers two somewhat different mechanisms for eliminating regularity … it is not clear that even Dembski manages to keep track of what the terms really mean”, and what sets these terms identify depends on the order in which they are applied: “My alternative explanatory filter differs in several critical ways. First, the ordering of decisions is different. Dembski justifies his choice of order with an explication of explanatory priority (p 38-40). But I find Dembski’s arguments for arranging to eliminate regularity before eliminating chance to be unconvincing and not reflective of how people ordinarily proceed in finding explanations. Random events conform well to the null hypothesis (that is, that the event is due to chance and not to design or regularity) and should be eliminated first in consideration of causation. Dembski’s own example of how regularity has explanatory priority over chance illustrates the fact that his filter has the order reversed.”

So design cannot simply be defined as “the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity” and Dembski doesn’t actually do that; rather, he defines it in terms of a procedure, an explanatory filter; but that filter a) is ill-defined and b) fails to distinguish what people actually mean by design, and puts such things as natural selection into the “design” category. Dembski pulls a bait-and-switch; he says that “design” doesn’t imply agency, then offers a filter that puts natural evolutionary events into the “design” category, then depends upon an entirely bogus “inductive argument” – or simply confusion with the normal meaning of “design” – to claim that natural evolutionary events were caused by an intelligent agent.

Comment #124134

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 6:18 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

I believe …. I believe….I personally believe….

God almighty, he believes!

Comment #124144

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 29, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

Both sides here, you and PvM, are trying to convince each other that your solution is the only one that will work.

Work for what?

I am not being flippant.

If the aim is to convince IDers that ID is wrong, well, there does not seem to be ANYTHING that “works”.

Not surprising, really. As I’ve always said, IDers are not won *to* ID because of logical scientific arguments, and they won’t be won AWAY from it by them, either.

ID is a political strategy. The only “solution” to it is to beat it into the ground and destroy it as an effective political strategy. Rational logical scientific argument won’t “work” on them any more than it works on Klansmen or Leninists. And for much the same reasons. “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.

Comment #124145

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

First off, that isn’t “the design inference”. At best it is merely one version of it.

Secondly, we have all heard this lame definition (at least I’m quite confident that the main commenters here have), and we have noticed that it doesn’t even utilize scientific terms. That is to say, as such it is already outside of the realm of science, since “chance” in science isn’t the sort of “chance” that these metaphysicians believe in.

I made this point quite a while ago; as I said, PvM was channeling Dembski by providing his incoherent definition of ID, and that no one honest and respectable argues that that’s what intelligent design “is”. In response PvM quoted Wesley Ellsury, as though he accepted any of this, but Wesley wrote of The “design inference” of the book’s title; he was simply laying out, in his introduction, the thesis that Dembski put forth, as any good reviewer would, not the view Ellsbury holds; he then goes on to shoot down the validity of that view.

PvM’s statement of a definition of design
a) is hopelessly vague
b) is not a “hypothesis”
c) is not “scientific”
d) is not an “inference”
e) doesn’t accurately capture Dembski’s thesis, which concerns an inference procedure
f) isn’t an accurate statement of Dembski’s definition of “design”, which is given in terms of his highly idiosyncratic definitions of “chance” and “necessity”

Comment #124148

Posted by CJ O'Brien on August 29, 2006 7:19 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

does anybody still listening disagree that Pim has not demonstrated the value of his “approach” empirically, or even logically?

please explain why, because Pim has not.

Am I still listening? I guess I am, Gawd knows why.

I don’t really disagree, but for a somewhat more nuanced reason than most. Namely, because I don’t think a target audience for the line of reasoning he’s advocating exists in substantial numbers, or, possibly, at all.

That audience Pim has defined as (paraphrasing from memory, because… *looks up at thread*) “Religiously motivated people who believe ID is science.”

What Pim is saying is that
a) These people know they’re religiously motivated, and so saying “ID is religiously motivated” is unlikely to be persuasive,
b) they believe ID is scietific, and beliefs aren’t changed by mere assertion, which, unargued, is what an a priori declarartion of the unscientific nature of ID (as defined by the design inference) is, and
c) an honest asessment of the definition will quickly show it to be as vacuuous as everyone here (including Pim, remember) is saying that it is.

Key term, and why I disagree that the approach will ever be fruitful, is “honest assessment.” Pim, in my opinion, drastically underestimates the self-delusion and intellectual dishonesty that must be part and parcel of the initial adoption of the stance “ID is scientific.”

Given a population of naive IDers who might be susceptible to reasoned argumentation, I would fully agree with Pim’s thesis here, which I will take the liberty of condensing to “why assert when you can argue?” (Ironically also a mantra of everybody’s favorite Phantom.)

Given the population of IDers we actually have, I give it the proverbial snowball’s chance.

Comment #124153

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 7:37 PM (e)

Oops, I meant “chance” and “regularity”

On idiosyncracy: Dembski says that an event is “due to regularity” if it has high probability. Aside from the totally confused and non-scientific concept of causality here, as Glen noted, this has nothing to do with what the word “regularity” means; regularity is about periodicity, not probability. Drop a hydrogen bomb on Los Angeles and there’s a high probability that millions of Angelenos will die all at once, but millions of Angelenos dying all at once is not something that happens with regularity. Suppose we suddenly start receiving a periodic signal from the stars; the signal occurs with regularity. Is it a highly likely event? One wouldn’t have thought so. Is it highly likely to continue? Who can say? There are scientific models of probability, drawn from systematization of evidence, which is what science does. There is nothing scientific about Dembski’s “The Design Inference”. Rather, as Wesley Ellsbury writes, “The work, though, is motivated and informed by an anti-evolutionary impulse, and its flaws appear to follow from the need to achieve an anti-evolutionary aim.”

Comment #124155

Posted by David B. Benson on August 29, 2006 7:38 PM (e)

Locally we have very few IDiots and somewhat more YECers. As best I can determine, no seminar, no logical argument, NOTHING will cause these mature folk to change.

Don’t know about ALL of the 18–25 year old crowd, but those who are noisy YECers certainly won’t change. Then again, this isn’t Cornell…

But a semester of biology is required of ALL students. Evolution is taught. While students are not required to ‘believe’ it, they do have to understand it well enough to pass the class. Even the noisy YECers.

Comment #124159

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 7:50 PM (e)

Given a population of naive IDers who might be susceptible to reasoned argumentation, I would fully agree with Pim’s thesis here, which I will take the liberty of condensing to “why assert when you can argue?”

But it’s a strawman. PvM frames the goal as convincing IDers that ID is scientifically vacuous. But that’s not the goal; the goal is to produce a scientifically literate society, and that can’t be achieved by convincing two IDers here and two IDers there that ID doesn’t have a scientific foundation. It must be achieved on the political front, by depriving organizations like DI of power and influence, by electing politicians and school boards that understand and support science, and by filling the public schools with teachers and materials that present science accurately. Talk science, promote science, fill the airwaves with science, fill people’s heads with science, and ID won’t have such fertile ground to take root.

Comment #124165

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 8:14 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Which confuses design and agency as well as uses confusing terminology of complexity and specification without the necessary details to make much of any argument. As Dembski asserted in the past: specification in biology is simple: it’s called function. So now all that we need is probability, but which one? The probability of chance processes (or likelihood?)? As is so often used by Dembski, or the probability under the hypothesis of the actual hypothesis? THe latter one would mean that once you hit the right hypothesis, whether it be intelligent or non-intelligent design, the probability/likelihood becomes large enough for the hypothesis to be probable, and thus also too large for it to contain information (ID speak for something being improbable). Once one realizes how terminology is conflated and how ID switches from narrowly defined concepts to the general, it is self evident that ID has no clothes…
ID is in other words, cut off at the ankles, rather than falling into the trap of arguing against hypotheses etc which do not follow from its premises. Once one accepts the basic definition of design, it is clear that the proposed design inference is scientifically vacuous.
Which explains why ID refuses to address processes, pathways etc and why ID has been unable to contribute in any meaningful manner to science

It’s good to see that PvM finally tried to make a substantive argument in regard to Dembski’s thesis. What’s not good is that this paragraph is nearly impenetrable; it’s not at all likely that this sort of writing could sway any IDer or YEC. Even Wesley Ellsbury’s review, which is clearly written and makes the case well, is not likely to be understood by any IDer or YEC; certainly not after s/he walks out of the seminar and into the IDEA club, to be bombarded with their propaganda. Students should be taught about the scientific method, scientific concepts of causality, and Bayesian probability, not confused with sciency-sounding but unscientific crypto-logic that was formulated to serve an anti-scientific ideology.

Comment #124182

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 9:16 PM (e)

Both sides here, you and PvM, are trying to convince each other that your solution is the only one that will work.

Work for what?

I am not being flippant.

If the aim is to convince IDers that ID is wrong, well, there does not seem to be ANYTHING that “works”.

But see, that’s still the problem. Nothing, on its own, works.

The solution is all about tactics and strategy (something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting).

An example is to distract them while cutting the ground from underneath them.

A straight forward charge, as you have observed yourself, has been ineffective.

Not surprising, really. As I’ve always said, IDers are not won *to* ID because of logical scientific arguments, and they won’t be won AWAY from it by them, either.

I agree with the former, and I partially disagree with the latter. I also agree that any anomalies in the ID camp that could be swayed would probably not attend the seminars in the first place.

ID is a political strategy. The only “solution” to it is to beat it into the ground and destroy it as an effective political strategy. Rational logical scientific argument won’t “work” on them any more than it works on Klansmen or Leninists. And for much the same reasons. “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.

Right. You say “beat it into the ground”. But in order to do that, we need multiple concerted efforts on many fronts.

Comment #124185

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 9:23 PM (e)

The solution is all about tactics and strategy (something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting).

Oh dear, the chatbot has referred to me. Of course, being a mere machine, it is incapable of comprehending that my last two posts here (as well as others) were specifically about strategy and tactics.

But in order to do that, we need multiple concerted efforts on many fronts.

We must build a gigantic tripod!

Comment #124194

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 9:38 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

It’s good to see that PvM finally tried to make a substantive argument in regard to Dembski’s thesis. What’s not good is that this paragraph is nearly impenetrable; it’s not at all likely that this sort of writing could sway any IDer or YEC. Even Wesley Ellsbury’s review, which is clearly written and makes the case well, is not likely to be understood by any IDer or YEC; certainly not after s/he walks out of the seminar and into the IDEA club, to be bombarded with their propaganda.

Perhaps. I realize that my writing style, grammar etc tends to complicate matters significantly. And even though I tried to condense my many thoughts on this matter into easily accessible language, I do realize that my communication style may not be accessible to many people.

Nevertheless, I hope that my contributions will help others to formulate a better argument… I can only do so much here.

I still see the rather narrow definition of the concept of design, as an achilles heel of ID since it tries to exclude ID effectively from formulating a hypothesis which allows us to determine the likelihood of the event given the design hypothesis. Only chance and regularity are required to show that they are either unspecified or too likely to be able to ‘generate CSI’.
So how is CSI inferred? We calculate the probability of an event E given a particular hypothesis. This hypothesis could be one of pure chance which means that we determine the likelihood that E can be explained by pure chance processes. For instance, in case of a die, the probability of an unbiased die resulting in any number between 1 and 6 is uniformly distributed. This means that the probability of for instance throwing 100 6’s is (1/6)^100. Somewhat surprisingly the same applies for any sequence of a 100 throws of a die. Given enough throws, we can create a sufficiently complex event by throwing dice. But now we get into a problem: when we throw 100 die, we know we get a sequence of 100 numbers between 1 and 6 and yet, despite the small probability, one of the sequence will come true. Dembski deals with this through specification: that is can the sequence be described independently of the event. Or in his latest form, is the probability multiplied by the specificational as well as replicational resources. The latter describes how many attempts have been made to generate the sequence. The former refers to

“Dembski then defines the specification of an observed event in terms of the simplest pattern which that event conforms to and the list of all equally simple or simpler patterns that it might have conformed to, but didn’t.”
Source

Dembski multiplies the replicational resources and the specificational resources and the probability, and takes the negative base-2 log of this number. This is the specificational complexity. If it is smaller than zero, it should be rejected as being a specification, if it is (significantly) larger than zero it may have been designed.

If there are many replicational resources then the product can become larger than 1 and thus the - log2 becomes a negative number. When the product of replicational*specification resources*likelihood of the event under a particular hypothesis is 1, the log2 is zero. If I remember correctly Dembski assumes that replicational resources are bounded by 10^120 which means that the formula ‘simplifies’ to establishing the specificational resources.If this number is sufficiently large, one has to once again reject that the event is specified.

The students of the Cornell seminar reached according to Allen the following conclusion about chi (specificied complexity)

However, it is not clear if empirical evidence (i.e. counted or measured quantities) can actually be plugged into the equation to yield an unambiguous value for chi, nor is it clear what value for chi would unambiguously allow for “design detection.” Dembski suggests chi equal to or greater than one, but we agreed that it would make more sense to use repeated tests, using actual designed and undesigned systems, to derive an empirically based value for chi, which could then be used to identify candidates for “design” in nature. If, as some have suggested, plugging empirically derived measurements into Dembski’s formula for chi is problematic, then his equation, however interesting, carries no real epistemic weight (i.e. no more than Dawkin’s “Weasel”, as noted above).

In addition to calculating P(T|H) which is the probability of event T under the assumption of hypothesis H, we also need to estimate/calculate reasonable estimates of the specificational resources. Inflate them too much and you may reject a design inference, make them too small and you may include a false positive. So how small can it be? At most 1.
So chi now becomes:

-log2(10*120*1*P(T|H))
if P(T|H) is 10^-120 then the specificational complexity is zero, if it is smaller than this number, it becomes specified, if it is larger it becomes unspecified. In other words, any hypothesis needs to have a probability which is smaller than 10^-120, which under any circumstance would mean that the hypothesis H is unable to explain T, despite being specified and complex. In other words, if a particular hypotheses is required to be specified and complex the probability has to be extremely small. By excluding ID from being a hypothesis H, ID can claim the be specified and complex when chance and regularity hypotheses evaluated so far have failed to meet the complexity requirement.
Using the design inference, one needs to show that P(T|D) is complex and specified, but that means that P(T|D) would have to be sufficiently small for it to be highly improbable in order for chi to be sufficiently large to be specified.

So what have we learned so far? For something to be specified, it has to be improbable under non design hypotheses but ID does not have to show that its own hypotheses meets the requirements. In other words, by excluding ID from the design inference, ID cannot even compete with chance and regularity explanations.

So what if P(T|D) is too small? Then we should accept that there is another explanation and we should accept ‘we don’t know’. Since we however do not know P(T|D) we can never exclude we don’t know (yet) as a valid explanation of the failure to find a particular hypothesis.

Now things get even more interesting. ID claims that ID is more likely since it is the only known process which can generate CSI. But CSI is merely a concept that captures our level of ignorance and provides no estimate of the likelihood of design. In fact, unless one can show that the likelihood of design is larger than the likelihood of having missed a particular chance.regularity hypothesis, we cannot reject the ‘we don’t know’. Since it has yet to be shown that ID can generate CSI meaning that it is both sufficiently improbable to generate specification and sufficiently large for it to be feasible, the claim that there is ‘positive evidence’ for design in the form of CSI should be rejected. CSI is merely a reformulation of our ignorance and cannot be used as independent evidence for design.

IDers argue that P(T|D) is hard if not impossible to calculate but that applies to any hypothesis P(T|H) other than where H is pure chance. So intractability is also no argument in favor of design. What ID has to do is show that P(T|D) > P(T|H) but that would mean that it has to do the hard work of generating an actual ID hypothesis and we all know that such a request is, according to Dembski, pathetic.

In other words, I argue that the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity is either empty or contains what we may call ‘false positives’. Although Popper and others have pointed out that natural explanations can still be designers and perhaps we should not consider these false positive but rather events matching the term ‘design’ where design includes far more than what one typically would consider to be design. As such, the term design fails to match our common understanding of the term. Through the use of equivocation, ID tries to conclude that design from the design inference has any relationship to what we commonly see as design.

In reality, ID’s definition of design is a far more limited definition, which is likely nothing more than the empty set.

Comment #124196

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 9:48 PM (e)

Benson wrote:

Locally we have very few IDiots and somewhat more YECers. As best I can determine, no seminar, no logical argument, NOTHING will cause these mature folk to change.

And yet there are plenty of ex-yec’ers around, me included so something is wrong here.

Popper wrote:

Given a population of naive IDers who might be susceptible to reasoned argumentation, I would fully agree with Pim’s thesis here, which I will take the liberty of condensing to “why assert when you can argue?”

But it’s a strawman. PvM frames the goal as convincing IDers that ID is scientifically vacuous. But that’s not the goal; the goal is to produce a scientifically literate society, and that can’t be achieved by convincing two IDers here and two IDers there that ID doesn’t have a scientific foundation. It must be achieved on the political front, by depriving organizations like DI of power and influence, by electing politicians and school boards that understand and support science, and by filling the public schools with teachers and materials that present science accurately. Talk science, promote science, fill the airwaves with science, fill people’s heads with science, and ID won’t have such fertile ground to take root.

All very good ideas. In fact, the seminar helps not just IDers to better understand science but also ID critics. Not only are they better equipped to argue the vacuity of ID but also they are more scientifically literate. Depriving ID from money or power surely helps reducing their impact but unless education is improved, the impact may be quite minimal. I’d say that Allen’s seminar fall well within Popper’s guidelines of what needs to be done. But as I argued elsewhere it’s part of a much larger strategy. We should be excited about Allen’s initiative to educate people, not just IDers, about ID, concepts of teleology and the vacuity of ID. And yes, I believe that there is a large group of ‘naive IDers’ who are taking the statements that ID is science for ‘truth’ because it comes from ‘christians’. Never mind that it also reinforces and is reinforced by their beliefs. By showing that abandoning ID is scientifically the best thing without being detrimental theologically, it is possible to change IDers minds. Perhaps not immediately but by planting the seed of doubt and by enabling themselves with relevant research, we can make a difference here.
At least, that is what I personally believe.

Comment #124200

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 10:00 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Oh dear, the chatbot has referred to me. Of course, being a mere machine, it is incapable of comprehending that my last two posts here (as well as others) were specifically about strategy and tactics.

For educational purposes: Is the above quote an ad hominem?

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

1. A makes claim X.
2. There is something objectionable about A.
3. Therefore claim X is false.

Comment #124201

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 10:11 PM (e)

For educational purposes: Is the above quote an ad hominem?

No.

1. A makes claim X.
2. There is something objectionable about A.
3. Therefore claim X is false.

Claim X, as far as there was a claim, was “something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting”. I suggested that the claim is false because I had just posted twice about what I supposedly didn’t get. That chatbox is a machine or incapable of comprehending had nothing to do with the logic – a subject that you seem incapable of comprehending. That’s not an ad hominem argument, it’s a conclusion I’ve reached. End of lesson.

Comment #124202

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 10:13 PM (e)

All very good ideas.

Especially that your argument is against a strawman.

Comment #124203

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 10:18 PM (e)

BTW, PvM, if you really want to be educational, you should examine all of your arguments and use your template to detect which ones are ad hominem, rather than hypocritically pointing at my arguments. The sad thing is that I have, of course, employed ad hominem arguments, but the ones you have labeled as such aren’t.

Comment #124204

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 10:39 PM (e)

Claim X, as far as there was a claim, was “something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting”. I suggested that the claim is false because I had just posted twice about what I supposedly didn’t get.

Silly Popper’s ghost.

Posting ABOUT something does not equate to you GETTING (understanding would have been a better word in my earlier post) something.

None of your posts have displayed an understanding in tactics and strategy at all. Which is why all you are capable of doing is to criticise other people’s methods and not suggesting any that you think are better. You’re kind of like the Australian Labor Party of recent times. Opposition for opposition’s sake.

That chatbox is a machine or incapable of comprehending had nothing to do with the logic – a subject that you seem incapable of comprehending. That’s not an ad hominem argument, it’s a conclusion I’ve reached. End of lesson.

Apparently, an ad hominem argument and “a conclusion I’ve reached” are mutually exclusive…

If a conclusion you’ve reached was reached through an ad hominem argument…

It seems Popper’s ghost is also mimicking an understanding of logical fallacies…

Comment #124205

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 10:42 PM (e)

popper wrote:

Claim X, as far as there was a claim, was “something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting”. I suggested that the claim is false because I had just posted twice about what I supposedly didn’t get. That chatbox is a machine or incapable of comprehending had nothing to do with the logic – a subject that you seem incapable of comprehending. That’s not an ad hominem argument, it’s a conclusion I’ve reached. End of lesson.

Even if the ‘conclusion’ is one meant to undermine the credibility of the person to whom you were responding? Perhaps we all could benefit from some refreshener courses on ad hominem arguments.

So ad hominems are not ad hominems if the one making them considers them to be reasonable conclusions? Is it not by calling chatbot a machine that you are trying to reject his claims?

Comment #124206

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

Claim X, as far as there was a claim, was “something which Popper’s ghost seems to have trouble getting”. I suggested that the claim is false because I had just posted twice about what I supposedly didn’t get.

Silly Popper’s ghost.

Posting ABOUT something does not equate to you GETTING (understanding would have been a better word in my earlier post) something.

None of your posts have displayed an understanding in tactics and strategy at all. Which is why all you are capable of doing is to criticise other people’s methods and not suggesting any that you think are better. You’re kind of like the Australian Labor Party of recent times. Opposition for opposition’s sake.

That chatbox is a machine or incapable of comprehending had nothing to do with the logic – a subject that you seem incapable of comprehending. That’s not an ad hominem argument, it’s a conclusion I’ve reached. End of lesson.

Apparently, an ad hominem argument and “a conclusion I’ve reached” are mutually exclusive…

If a conclusion you’ve reached was reached through an ad hominem argument…

It seems Popper’s ghost is also mimicking an understanding of logical fallacies…

Comment #124211

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 10:55 PM (e)

his equation, however interesting, carries no real epistemic weight (i.e. no more than Dawkin’s “Weasel”, as noted above)

It’s sad how MacNeill equates Dawkins to Phillip Johnson up above and Dembski here. On the one had Dembski ignores all of science and invents completely bogus definitions and measures in service of a fundamentally dishonest exercise. OTOH, Dawkins’ Weasel was intended solely to show how much faster cumulative selection operates than single-step random variation; there was a common pre-defined goal for both algorithms, and the fact that it was pre-selected does not in the least invalidate the exercise. MacNeill’s dis of Dawkins is a combination of failure to comprehend and an apparent axe to grind. As Dave Thomas has shown with his Steiner networks, you get similar results when the fitness function (shortest path in his case) is divorced from the goal (the actual Steiner solution). Sal claims that Dave’s exercise also carries no real epistemic weight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if MacNeill agrees.

Comment #124215

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 29, 2006 11:12 PM (e)

None of your posts have displayed an understanding in tactics and strategy at all.

on the contrary, aside from popper/morbius’ well known abrasiveness (as demonstrated here daily, which I too bothered to argue with in the past), at no time has he ever indicated any fundamental misunderstanding of tactics and strategy.

not in the general sense, and not in the specific tactics he uses to debate with.

i don’t agree as to the overall value to the tactics he specifically uses in debate, but he knows his stuff, and his analysis of strategy itself in this thread is pretty much spot on, imo.

As stated many times, by several here (including myself), the argument isn’t with the definition of design, or CSI, that Pim specifically addresses.

It IS in fact specifically an argument of tactics and strategy in the larger sense of the “culture wars”, and whether the audience served by Pim’s argument is large enough, or even convinced enough as it is (we have 0 data points to indicate so), to warrant adoption of the suggested bit of debate over definition Pim offers us here.

In that sense, Popper has exhibited a very clear understanding of tactics and strategy.

He also goes beyond to get Pim to draw out more clearly the exact argument he is making, and Pim does a decent job of at least defining that argument in explicit terms in post 124194.

the issue has never been, in my mind, whether Pim’s argument has merit in an intellectual sense, but whether the argument has merit in a strategic sense, or as the basis to teach a course.

and my questions to that effect still remain.

I still have seen no reason as to why a standard course on evolutionary biology, taught well (like how Harry Greene teaches it, for example), is any less apt to influence the type of IDers that frequent Cornell than Allen’s attempt is.

Moroever, a standard course has the advantage of actually challenging the students to provide correct interpretations of evidence, rather than “letting them come to their own conclusions”, which is damn near entirely contradictory to the end purpose of an instructor to begin with, AFAICT. Heck, why even have exams at all, eh?

I’m sure i could extend an overzealous analogy to make my point (again), but I’m just as sure at this point that it’s relatively obvious to anybody who has ever taught.

no, I’m still troubled by several things about this course, and remain unconvinced of its ingenuous nature.

maybe next run through, the course goals and results will be considered in a more objective fashion, and with an eye as to how to express the results much more clearly, and maybe how to explore the issues without having to manually “invite” participants with opposing viewpoints.

the only thing i can say in its defense, is that it IS the first time somebody at Cornell has tried something like this, so with some better critique and an eye towards some final “course correction” once the debates are done, it might have some value at some point.

beyond that, there is no evidence that this course has any redeeming qualities to it. In fact, I think a standard debate format weekly seminar would have served the purpose just as well. something like a standard graduate level informal seminar, moderated and guided by attending professors. certainly not “ingenious”, but it always worked to discuss hot topics when I was a grad student.

Of course, such a seminar requires the participants to already be conversant in the basic theory and practice of the subject at hand.

so, I’m back to recommending that at the undergrad level, anyone thinking to participate in an open seminar type thing should be referred to a standard series of courses establishing fundamentals in the related topics to begin with….and coming thereupon to the logical conclusion that there would be VERY few left that still support ID after said courses have been completed.

again, the target audience that I can envision this kind of thing having a demonstrable effect on is vanishingly small.

I’m done.

I’ll come back if anybody ever manages to get some evidence that an undergrad seminar course on this issue is effective in any objectively demonstrable way.

Comment #124216

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:15 PM (e)

Is it not by calling chatbot a machine that you are trying to reject his claims?

No, it’s not, you silly goose, and that sort of thing is why I’ve concluded that you’re a dimwit. Calling chatbot a machine a semi-humorous conceit, an illustration of Dennett’s Intentional Stance theory, as I’ve already explained. We’re all machines – calling it one is an intellectual joke, one that neither you nor it gets. It has nothing to do with rejecting claims, the validity of which does not rest on who or what makes them. I write and run computer programs that generate claims all the time; I don’t reject them just because they are made by machines.

The fact that I even commented on its claim was actually a breach of my taking the design stance toward it, which is to view it as a mechanism performing a function, rather than as a rational agent producing semantic content worthy of consideration. When taking the design stance toward a mechanism, one doesn’t reject or accept claims, one doesn’t treat them as claims at all, but rather as mere behavior. In the case of, say, a random sentence generator, it would be pointless to debate any of the sentences it generates, even though some would surely be true and some would surely be false, because the random sentence generator is not involved in “the game of giving and asking for reasons”. Or, if one was dealing with a program that was supposed to be a proof generator but it was known that one of its inference rules was faulty, one would not spend time trying to confirm or find flaws in its “proofs”.

You really should familiarize yourself with Dennett’s work if you’re going to discuss this, you know.

Comment #124217

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:19 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

All very good ideas.

Especially that your argument is against a strawman.

Especially since your argument fails in supporting logic. Care to expand so that we can determine indeed if my argument is one against a strawman. Fill the heads of people with science… Allen’s seminar seems to be doing exactly this.

And yet some consider it to be a failure if it cannot be shown to have changed the minds of IDers involved. By that standard perhaps every single posting on PT and other ID critical sites are failures because they fail, by themselves to convince IDers of much of anything. And yet, every single one forms a seed of doubt which eventually may expand and grow into skepticism, asking the right questions and exploring how science truly deals with issues and compare this to ID approaches.
Thus perhaps your position is far more of a strawman

PvM frames the goal as convincing IDers that ID is scientifically vacuous. But that’s not the goal; the goal is to produce a scientifically literate society, and that can’t be achieved by convincing two IDers here and two IDers there that ID doesn’t have a scientific foundation.

In fact, if we have sufficient ‘here and there’s’ it seems inevitable that this will improve the level of scientific literacy in this country. Of course, we should be very aware that scientific literacy, or lack thereof is not limited to just ID proponents either.
To ‘argue’ that this is my unique and only goal seems well, a bit of a strawman.

For instance I wrote

I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.
Remember that upto this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.
Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID.
As such Allen’s course has been an excellent opportunity to do exactly that. By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological. That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

Glen wrote:

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Now defend it using science and its standards, not ID metaphysics.

Let’s first establish that the statement as formulated above is a coherent and consistent definition, even if design were to be found to be the empty set. After all, from the definition alone it may not be self evident that it IS the empty set, a-priori.

As far as using science, that’s relatively simple, you formulate a hypothesis H and calculate the probability P(T|H) where T is the event of interest. You then take the -log2 and call it information. You then repeat this for any known and unknown hypothesis and thus eliminate chance and regularity hypotheses. So far, this is relatively straightforward and yet very intractable. How does one calculate P(T|H) for any non trivial H? That by itself is not self evident, although IFF one could calculate this measure and IFF one could successfully eliminate any and all relevant hypotheses THEN one may conclude that that which remains is ‘design’. The problem here is that the meaning of the word design has lost its customary definition, and only by equivocation can one confuse the reader that information and design are similar to how one commonly uses these terms.

Has any actual scientist ever accepted such a definition, that is, has he accepted it as a scientist? Let’s revisit what Jones wrote again, since I think it can’t be presented to Pim any too often:

Jones is neither a scientist nor did he address the design inference, mostly because Dembski withdrew as a witness. However, that by itself says nothing about scientists accepting such a definition. Depending on whether on considers Del Ratzsch a scientist, he seems to have accepted the definition, very well aware of its limited nature. I believe that most ID critics have implicitly come to accept this definition, not realizing how they were tricked into accepting a definition of design which rendered it succeptible to equivocation.

The definition is the basis for the design inference.

Richard Wein observes

Dembski has caused considerable confusion through his peculiar use of the terms “design” and “intelligent agency”. He defines “design” as “the set-theoretic complement of the disjunction regularity-or-chance” (TDI, p 36), i.e. it’s what is left over after eliminating regularity and chance explanations. But he also specifically denies that an inference of “design” necessarily entails intelligent agency:

‘Thus, even though a design inference is frequently the first step toward identifying an intelligent agent, design as inferred from the design inference does not logically entail an intelligent agent. The design that emerges from the design inference must not be conflated with intelligent agency.’ [TDI, p 9]

On the other hand, he never gives any additional criterion for distinguishing intelligent agency from mere “design”, and he goes on to write:

‘Yet in practice, to infer design is not simply to eliminate regularity and chance, but to detect the activity of an intelligent agent.’ [TDI, p 62]

I will not attempt to reconcile these apparently contradictory statements. Instead I will simply assume that the latter statement accurately reflects Dembski’s position, and will ignore the former statement. In other words, I will assume Dembski is claiming that rejection of chance and regularity does allow us to infer the involvement of an intelligent agent. This then allows us to consider the terms “design” and “intelligent agency” to be synonymous (and I assume they are both synonymous with the more widely used term “intelligent design”). If this assumption is not correct, then Dembski needs to clearly state what additional criterion is necessary to distinguish intelligent agency from mere “design”, or else recognise that the Design Inference cannot detect intelligent agency.

Wein accepts the latter definition of design, I think that he is too gracious here.

Wesley Elsberry wrote

The “design inference” of the book’s title is an argument to establish that certain events are due to and must be explained with reference to design. Dembski crafts his argument as a process of elimination. From the set of all possible explanations, he first eliminates the explanatory categories of regularity and chance; then whatever is left is by definition design. Since all three categories complete the set, design is the set-theoretical complement of regularity and chance.

Dembski’s book and major concept share a name, The Design Inference. The Design Inference is an argument which leads to a conclusion of design for an event. Dembski deploys a large number of terms and phrases in making his argument that design must be recognized as a necessary mode of explanation in science. Fortunately, Dembski is also scrupulous in making clear what each term means, even when it has a common or casual usage. Design is one of those terms, and it becomes a category defined by the elimination of events that can be attributed to regularity or to chance.

A second problem with the filter is that its concept of design is profoundly idiosyncratic and limited. In Dembski’s filter, “design” does not have its usual meaning, but rather is defined negatively as “the set-theoretic complement of the disjunction of regularity-or-chance.”337 This means that design is by default anything that is not the product of either regularity or chance.

This constricted definition is problematic for scientists, for the simple reason that it appropriates as “designed” everything that is neither wholly random nor completely inevitable.338 More specifically, Dembski’s filter

classifies as “intentionally designed” every complex phenomenon that is the product of interactions between chance and regularity—a set that explicitly includes nearly all evolutionary phenomena!339 This is nothing less than
conceptual sleight-of-hand. Following Dembski’s filter for any complex biological system will result in a decision of “designed,” no matter how extensive the evidence that the system arose through the interactions of mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection

IS IT SCIENCE YET?: INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM AND THE CONSTITUTION
MATTHEW J. BRAUER BARBARA FORREST STEVEN G. GEY

Is “design” merely a label for the “set-theoretic complement of the. disjunction regularity or chance,” or could it be that this category label is intended to convey a more substantial meaning that could further another agenda, such as that of the “Intelligent Design” movement? What does an intelligent agent do? Dembski says, “The principal characteristic of intelligent agency is directed contingency, or what we call choice.

Van Till see also this link

Comment #124218

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:20 PM (e)

None of your posts have displayed an understanding in tactics and strategy at all.

STJ, one really shouldn’t take seriously such blatant hyperbole, which must be the result of either a very dishonest or very inept intellectual process.

Comment #124219

Posted by k.e. on August 29, 2006 11:23 PM (e)

A_C a point well made…..only needs to be made once.

Please consider that opposition for its own sake is self serving (ego inflating) and possibly pathological.

‘Ad Hominem’ to me means denying (against) man’s collective knowledge.

Thus the whole ‘ID movement’ perform ‘Ad Hominem’ when in the face of peer reviewed and thus verified temporal knowledge as the result of honest work, attack the men/women and not the work.

‘Darwinism’ when used pejoratively is an ad hominem. ID which is denial of ToE for its own sake is a logical fallacy.

An insult, wit, satire, sarcasm, lampooning is just that, keep it simple. If one is offended then there are remedies, but if one lacks humor, it shows.

Please don’t devalue the logical fallacy ‘ad hominem’ by equating it with simple pathological disrespect.

Otherwise I’ll drive around to your house and paint “Go the Boks” on your front door…got it.

Comment #124220

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:23 PM (e)

And that is what you call an ‘explanation’? Wow….

Comment #124222

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:29 PM (e)

Oh dear, even STJ is gone. I guess I should deprive PvM and the chatbot of the convenience of focusing on me (an ad hominem strategy, doncha know) and work out their plans for their giant tripod.

Comment #124225

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:37 PM (e)

Man, I had no idea about the extent of Popper’s vocabulary. What a hoot…

Popper wrote:

STJ, one really shouldn’t take seriously such blatant hyperbole, which must be the result of either a very dishonest or very inept intellectual process.

False dichotomy

Comment #124226

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:37 PM (e)

Oops, I mean let them work out their plans for their giant tripod. Best of luck on that.

Comment #124227

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:40 PM (e)

First leg: attack Popper’s Ghost. Excellent progress you’re making there …

Comment #124228

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:45 PM (e)

First leg: attack Popper’s Ghost. Excellent progress you’re making there …

So are you my dear friend, so are you

Comment #124229

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

Oh dear, even STJ is gone. I guess I should deprive PvM and the chatbot of the convenience of focusing on me (an ad hominem strategy, doncha know) and work out their plans for their giant tripod.

So your focus on me is an ad hominem strategy as well? I see… That’s very helpful

Comment #124230

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

Second leg: continue to attack Popper’s ghost. Hey, you’ll be done in no time …

Comment #124231

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 11:49 PM (e)

Third leg: attack Popper’s ghost even harder! Hey, tripod built, goal achieved! Oh, wait, was that the goal?

Comment #124232

Posted by k.e. on August 29, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

If PvM you were referring to me.

Cast your mind back to the Dover court room, the same one that Dembski evaded like the plague.

When the leading lights of ID movement are forced to obey the rules of evidence and there is no wiggle room for cowardly sniping or cherry picking, when their rhetoric is called to account by the simple expedient of them being MADE to provide the EVIDENCE (follow the rules), or defend their argument TO the face of experts, their whole argument boils down to the one simple premise.

They ‘don’t like’ the ToE.

They want the rule of law shifted from Ancient Rome (‘Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s) to Ancient Jerusalem (‘Give unto God what is Caesar’s AND more importantly for Fundamentalists ‘Give unto Caesar what is God’s) .

And for them the the emphasis is on THEM being Caesar! The possibilities are endless once that happens.

It’s that simple.

Comment #124233

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

STJ wrote:

the issue has never been, in my mind, whether Pim’s argument has merit in an intellectual sense, but whether the argument has merit in a strategic sense, or as the basis to teach a course.

If I gave the impression that this was the only reason/basis to teach the course then I apologize. I think that all sides can benefit from the seminar. Sure, we have a small sample and limited data to draw much of any conclusion. What I am arguing is that I believe that these courses, if well designed, can be quite useful. In fact, as useful in educating people in the concepts of scientific thinking as Popper’s ideas of educating the masses. It’s one of the many prongs needed. Fight ID in courts? Certainly helpful on the short timescale but ID will adapt its approaches and be more careful next time. Blogs like PT, talkorigins etc? More effective on the median timescale, also serves as a location for news media to collect information. Educating news and media a short to medium timeline relevance. Enrolling religious thinkers, again short to medium term. Longer term approaches is a bottom up improvement in science education.
In a strategic sense the approach (seminars) seems quite relevant, at a tactical level, there are other approaches. As Allen pointed out, the two IDers did change their position although they were not ready to reject ID. If Allen’s observation is correct, then this is a significant data point in the sense of potential, although the data are just to few to really draw a conclusion (crickets chirping)

Comment #124234

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 29, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

Otherwise I’ll drive around to your house and paint “Go the Boks” on your front door…got it.

I guess that means I have to train a male kangaroo (I know it’s not a wallaby) to guard the door and have it kick anyone in the nuts if they come near… :)

Comment #124235

Posted by k.e. on August 30, 2006 12:11 AM (e)

Fight ID/Creationism in courts? Certainly helpful on the short timescale but ID/Creationism will adapt its approaches and be more careful next time.

When ID/Creationism is both the set ‘the universe’ and the set ‘null’ at the same time to different people, then they will have to redefine science, hopefully a very remote possibility.

Comment #124236

Posted by PvM on August 30, 2006 12:19 AM (e)

KE wrote:

When ID/Creationism is both the set ‘the universe’ and the set ‘null’ at the same time to different people, then they will have to redefine science, hopefully a very remote possibility.

This would apply to both sets of people since science cannot determine whether ID/creationism is the null set or the universe. There are also robust alternatives which leave faith and science largely separate.

Comment #124237

Posted by PvM on August 30, 2006 12:27 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

Here are some ad hominems, typical of your responses:

Remind us again about your familiarity with the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity? Or your unfamiliarity with teleology in nature?
I’d say that you may be projecting here when claiming that I am unwilling or unable to support my claims. .
Have you had some time to read up on the design inference and/or the concept of teleology in biology? Need more references? Time?…

Perhaps Popper can show us how this is an ad hominem? It’s after all merely my conclusion. But perhaps there are different standards for when Popper uses an ad hominem versus when someone uses an ad hominem against Popper.

Comment #124239

Posted by k.e. on August 30, 2006 12:33 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

There are also robust alternatives which leave faith and science largely separate

I completely agree, biblical literalists need to learn what ‘objective truth’ IS and ‘subjective truth’ IS, without losing their minds and throwing up their hands and screaming the scientific method is a nihilistic plot by ‘materialists’ which is a none to subtle form of circular reasoning, that fools people into supporting pseudoscience pedlars.

Comment #124247

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 30, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

Now that PvM has built his tripod, it’s time to beat Popper’s ghost to a bloody pulp with it!

Sigh. It’s yet another illustration that some people just aren’t educable.

Comment #124248

Posted by PvM on August 30, 2006 1:01 AM (e)

Now that PvM has built his tripod, it’s time to beat Popper’s ghost to a bloody pulp with it!

Why? All I have to do is sit back and enjoy the self destruction of our resident ghost :-) In fact, you make for some good educational materials.

So tell me again about ad hominems :-)

Comment #124249

Posted by Registered User on August 30, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

Poppers G

MacNeill’s dis of Dawkins is a combination of failure to comprehend and an apparent axe to grind.

No kidding. Unsurprisingly, McNeill also made some weirdass statements about Carl Sagan along the lines of “Sagan is soon to be forgotten and good riddance.” Where did he make those statements? On the Kornell Kreationist Klub blog, probably in between pointing out what “excellent” and “interesting” points the ID peddlers were making.

It probably has occurred to others that Pim and McNeill and perhaps some of the ID peddlers may be wishing to seize some non-existent “middle ground” on which they can stand and pat themselves on the back for finding a “third way” to reconcile the “controversy” where nobody’s feelings get hurt to badly. It was all a scientific misunderstanding, they imagine they’ll say to themselves in the future. The ID peddlers really WERE on to something, they just needed some help from gentle friendly loving thoughtful scientists like Allen McNeill and Pim to get their equations and definitions in order.

Boy, won’t that make those angry atheist types embarassments?

LOL!!!!!!

Comment #124250

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 30, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

Blam! Kerpow! PvM lands more blows on Popper’s ghost in his valiant fight for science!

Comment #124251

Posted by Registered User on August 30, 2006 1:08 AM (e)

Pim

Why? All I have to do is sit back and enjoy the self destruction of our resident ghost

Dream on, Pim.

Comment #124252

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 30, 2006 1:16 AM (e)

Is it possible that, while PvM is being distracted by his ectoplasmic nemesis (no wonder those blows don’t seem to affect it), the ground is being cut from beneath him? He had better check where he steps!

Comment #124253

Posted by Registered User on August 30, 2006 1:18 AM (e)

Pim

For instance, in discussing with Hannah, she placed a lot of importance on the concept of specified complexity, especially the new and improved version. So far, little has been said about this new version, which tries to resolve some known problems by introducing explicitly specificational and replicational resources as terms in the CSI equation. And while this helps

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You just don’t get it, Pim. Look at how many thousands of words were wasted on trying to “understand” that three well-documented unapologetic LYING SACKS (Hannah Maxson, Sal Cordova, Bill Dembski) were (surprise!) spewing lying crap when it took Michael Hubl two or three sentences to accomplish the same goal in a fashion that is understandable to even the most mathematically incompetent moron.

Do you remember how it played out Pim? You and Allen (and Hannah, of course, who’s barred from posting here at any length by Dear Leaders Luskin and Sal) seem to be pretending it never happened. Do you remember, Pim?

Here’s what happened: Michael Hubl asked Hannah (who claimed that Dembski’s formulations were “easy to understand”) to provide everyone with unambiguous definitions of the essential terms. Hannah did that (or tried to). Then Michael asked Hannah to show everyone how the terms could be applied to evaluating whether a particular bacterial protein (FtsK) evolved or was designed by a “mysterious alien being.”

Do you remember Hannah’s response, Pim? Share it with us and tell us (1) why Michael’s takedown of Hannah was less effective than yours or Allen’s endless drivel; and (2) tell us why Allen banned Michael from posting immediately after Sal began to whine and complain about how his poor little darling was being treated. Which of the “ground rules” had Michael violated by requesting that Hannah support her bogus claims about evolutionary biology?

Inquiring minds would like to know these things.

Try not to keep running away from the straightforward questions, Pim. As you know, it looks bad.

Comment #124254

Posted by Registered User on August 30, 2006 1:21 AM (e)

Maybe Allen, Pim and Hannah are working on a book together: “The Intelligent Design Debate: A Manual for Teachers” or some garbage like that.

That would explain some of what we’re seeing here (i.e., the old “ka-ching factor”).

Comment #124257

Posted by k.e. on August 30, 2006 1:37 AM (e)

Snicker…

The ID peddlers really WERE on to something, they just needed some help from gentle friendly loving thoughtful scientists like Allen McNeill and Pim to get their equations and definitions in order.

Indeed bring back Dialetheism proven never to blow up in ones face….available over the counter at all good philosophy shops.

Comment #124397

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 30, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Popper wrote:

All very good ideas.

Especially that your argument is against a strawman.

Especially since your argument fails in supporting logic. Care to expand so that we can determine indeed if my argument is one against a strawman. Fill the heads of people with science… Allen’s seminar seems to be doing exactly this.

It appears that that is in question at the present. I’m not saying that I know for sure that it is not filling heads with science, but with the suggestions that ID is a “theoretical hypothesis” or a scientific hypothesis, we have reason to doubt the claim.

PvM wrote:

And yet some consider it to be a failure if it cannot be shown to have changed the minds of IDers involved. By that standard perhaps every single posting on PT and other ID critical sites are failures because they fail, by themselves to convince IDers of much of anything. And yet, every single one forms a seed of doubt which eventually may expand and grow into skepticism, asking the right questions and exploring how science truly deals with issues and compare this to ID approaches.

For myself, I would make less of the fact that minds are not obviously changed, and more of the fact that there is little evidence of these “seeds of doubt”. In fact, what appears to be happening is that you are being persuaded toward ID foundations.

PvM wrote:

Thus perhaps your position is far more of a strawman

As I said, for myself I wouldn’t make much of the “results of the seminar”, especially since they’re so nebulous to us.

PvM frames the goal as convincing IDers that ID is scientifically vacuous. But that’s not the goal; the goal is to produce a scientifically literate society, and that can’t be achieved by convincing two IDers here and two IDers there that ID doesn’t have a scientific foundation.

In fact, if we have sufficient ‘here and there’s’ it seems inevitable that this will improve the level of scientific literacy in this country. Of course, we should be very aware that scientific literacy, or lack thereof is not limited to just ID proponents either.

That is so. Your characterization of what science is leaves much to be desired.

PvM wrote:

To ‘argue’ that this is my unique and only goal seems well, a bit of a strawman.

For instance I wrote

I think that the course has exposed the scientific vacuity of intelligent design and while few if any may have changed their immediate positions, it has helped spread the seed of doubt.

Remember that upto this seminar most IDers had not been exposed to much of any of the critical arguments against ID. Especially not at the level of the supposedly ‘scientific’ claims of ID.
Different audiences require different approaches to expose them to the many problems of ID.
As such Allen’s course has been an excellent opportunity to do exactly that. By showing how not only ID is scientifically vacuous but also how teleology and purpose in biology are not surprising given the processes involved. In other words, evolutionary processes are inherently teleological. That’s why we talk about apparent versus actual design for instance.

Yes, again you are on the side of the IDists in your characterization of biology. That you claim that evolutionary processes are teleological does not heal the damage that you may be doing to science in your mistaken conception of science.

MacNeill himself wrote this in his course description (emphasis added):

The current debate over “intelligent design theory” is only the latest phase in the perennial debate over the question of design in nature. Beginning with Aristotle’s “final cause,” this idea was the dominant explanation for biological adaptation in nature until the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin’s work united the biological sciences with the other natural sciences by providing a non-teleological explanation for the origin of adaptation. However, Darwin’s theory has been repeatedly challenged by theories invoking design in nature.

By the way, I rarely if ever speak of “apparent design” in nature. There is no design apparent when one looks closely, without prejudice, and with a knowledge of the types of effects which evolution produces.

PvM wrote:

Glen wrote:

PvM wrote:

That’s simple: My definition of design is the same as Dembski’s: The set theoretic complement of chance and regularity.

Now defend it using science and its standards, not ID metaphysics.

Let’s first establish that the statement as formulated above is a coherent and consistent definition, even if design were to be found to be the empty set. After all, from the definition alone it may not be self evident that it IS the empty set, a-priori.

And what of that? I implied that it could be a reasonable proposition in philosophy. What you are not doing, either above or below, is backing up your claim that it is a scientific understanding of “design”.

PvM wrote:

As far as using science, that’s relatively simple, you formulate a hypothesis H and calculate the probability P(T|H) where T is the event of interest. You then take the -log2 and call it information. You then repeat this for any known and unknown hypothesis and thus eliminate chance and regularity hypotheses. So far, this is relatively straightforward and yet very intractable. How does one calculate P(T|H) for any non trivial H? That by itself is not self evident, although IFF one could calculate this measure and IFF one could successfully eliminate any and all relevant hypotheses THEN one may conclude that that which remains is ‘design’. The problem here is that the meaning of the word design has lost its customary definition, and only by equivocation can one confuse the reader that information and design are similar to how one commonly uses these terms.

The real problem is that evidently you still do not understand that scientific hypotheses do not operate via the elimination of unscientific “phenomena” of “chance and regularity”. Not just anything that is a hypothesis is also a scientific hypothesis. So you’re going through the motions without heeding the requisites of science, causal chains (in classical science) and the essential need for evidence in favor of the hypothesis.

That is to say, a hypothesis needs to be tested against effects which are entailed by the antecedent causes. A real design hypothesis would say, humans design many things that involve rational solutions to a problem which appears to be addressed by these designs. Hence an apparent machine that has rational (as opposed to derived and adapted) solutions to an apparent problem may very well be designed by humans, or by human-like organisms (and we could add, via robotic processes as well).

And yes, you do understand the equivocations of “information” and “design” produced by IDists. Thus I do not know why you do not address adequately my point that IDists are not utilizing terms and understandings as real scientific hypotheses do.

PvM wrote:

Glen wrote:

Has any actual scientist ever accepted such a definition, that is, has he accepted it as a scientist? Let’s revisit what Jones wrote again, since I think it can’t be presented to Pim any too often:

Jones is neither a scientist nor did he address the design inference, mostly because Dembski withdrew as a witness.

That’s an appalling bit of misdirection. I quoted Jones because he was referring to a philosopher of science and an IDist, both of whom acknowledged that science would be changed if ID were to be included in science. You totally avoided my actual point, that Jones was relying upon “expert witnesses” in order to judge that ID is not science.

Jones addressed ID, not the stupid “design inference” that you keep defending, as if it were worthy of ours and the courts’ attention.

PvM wrote:

However, that by itself says nothing about scientists accepting such a definition. Depending on whether on considers Del Ratzsch a scientist, he seems to have accepted the definition, very well aware of its limited nature.

And why would anyone consider Del Ratzsch a scientist? I have no information that he is anything but a philosopher of science. Philosophers of science do not uncommonly misunderstand science, though I do not know if Ratzsch generally does well or poorly in understanding science.

The important thing is that very few scientists, at best, accept such a poor formulation as a scientific hypothesis.

PvM wrote:

I believe that most ID critics have implicitly come to accept this definition, not realizing how they were tricked into accepting a definition of design which rendered it succeptible to equivocation.

And what do they say that is not susceptible of equivocation? Do you still not understand that the “design inference” was made in order to introduce non-scientific terms and equivocation so that it could pass as science among the naive?

PvM wrote:

The definition is the basis for the design inference.

Yes, and it fails even to reach the threshold of science.

PvM wrote:

Richard Wein observes

Dembski has caused considerable confusion through his peculiar use of the terms “design” and “intelligent agency”. He defines “design” as “the set-theoretic complement of the disjunction regularity-or-chance” (TDI, p 36), i.e. it’s what is left over after eliminating regularity and chance explanations. But he also specifically denies that an inference of “design” necessarily entails intelligent agency:

‘Thus, even though a design inference is frequently the first step toward identifying an intelligent agent, design as inferred from the design inference does not logically entail an intelligent agent. The design that emerges from the design inference must not be conflated with intelligent agency.’ [TDI, p 9]

On the other hand, he never gives any additional criterion for distinguishing intelligent agency from mere “design”, and he goes on to write:

‘Yet in practice, to infer design is not simply to eliminate regularity and chance, but to detect the activity of an intelligent agent.’ [TDI, p 62]

I will not attempt to reconcile these apparently contradictory statements. Instead I will simply assume that the latter statement accurately reflects Dembski’s position, and will ignore the former statement. In other words, I will assume Dembski is claiming that rejection of chance and regularity does allow us to infer the involvement of an intelligent agent. This then allows us to consider the terms “design” and “intelligent agency” to be synonymous (and I assume they are both synonymous with the more widely used term “intelligent design”). If this assumption is not correct, then Dembski needs to clearly state what additional criterion is necessary to distinguish intelligent agency from mere “design”, or else recognise that the Design Inference cannot detect intelligent agency.

Wein accepts the latter definition of design, I think that he is too gracious here.

It is the only reasonable one, since it at least acknowledges that an effect needs a cause. And, it isn’t just Dembski’s two definitions that are incoherent, “design” without an agent is incoherent by itself.

As you refuse to invoke normal cause and effect demands for any “scientific hypothesis”, you fall for the trick that Dembski is trying to pull, that “design” doesn’t need a plausible cause in order for the “design inference” to be treated as science (even if a vacuous one).

I have to ask how you can be so pliable as to read a incoherent statements made about the “design inference” by its principle author, and still suppose that the pile of scientific-sounding gibberish constitutes a scientific hypothesis.

PvM wrote:

Wesley Elsberry wrote

The “design inference” of the book’s title is an argument to establish that certain events are due to and must be explained with reference to design. Dembski crafts his argument as a process of elimination. From the set of all possible explanations, he first eliminates the explanatory categories of regularity and chance; then whatever is left is by definition design. Since all three categories complete the set, design is the set-theoretical complement of regularity and chance.

Dembski’s book and major concept share a name, The Design Inference. The Design Inference is an argument which leads to a conclusion of design for an event. Dembski deploys a large number of terms and phrases in making his argument that design must be recognized as a necessary mode of explanation in science. Fortunately, Dembski is also scrupulous in making clear what each term means, even when it has a common or casual usage. Design is one of those terms, and it becomes a category defined by the elimination of events that can be attributed to regularity or to chance.

A second problem with the filter is that its concept of design is profoundly idiosyncratic and limited. In Dembski’s filter, “design” does not have its usual meaning, but rather is defined negatively as “the set-theoretic complement of the disjunction of regularity-or-chance.”337 This means that design is by default anything that is not the product of either regularity or chance.

This constricted definition is problematic for scientists, for the simple reason that it appropriates as “designed” everything that is neither wholly random nor completely inevitable.338 More specifically, Dembski’s filter

classifies as “intentionally designed” every complex phenomenon that is the product of interactions between chance and regularity—a set that explicitly includes nearly all evolutionary phenomena!339 This is nothing less than
conceptual sleight-of-hand. Following Dembski’s filter for any complex biological system will result in a decision of “designed,” no matter how extensive the evidence that the system arose through the interactions of mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection

IS IT SCIENCE YET?: INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM AND THE CONSTITUTION
MATTHEW J. BRAUER BARBARA FORREST STEVEN G. GEY

So is “conceptual sleight-of-hand” really the equivalent of a scientific hypothesis? Elsberry quite sensibly does not think so.

PvM wrote:

Is “design” merely a label for the “set-theoretic complement of the. disjunction regularity or chance,” or could it be that this category label is intended to convey a more substantial meaning that could further another agenda, such as that of the “Intelligent Design” movement? What does an intelligent agent do? Dembski says, “The principal characteristic of intelligent agency is directed contingency, or what we call choice.

Van Till see also this link

Once again your attempts to divorce design and agency are contradicted by the very person you are using as your authority for the supposed scientific hypothesis, the “design inference”.

What is more, “agent” only stands in for empirically known phenomena which have yet to be fully understood according to physics. “Directed contingency” is another at best philosophical term, and it does not convey anything about “intelligent agency” that science would be interested in.

Science wants to explain everything using physics. Until then, it understands “agents” according to empirically known habits, customs, development, tradition, and evolution, among other things. Dembski’s “definition” is so much vacuous nonsense, which is used in order to convey the sense that intelligence is something other than physics and evolution (which is probably the furthest reduction we are permitted).

As such he again shows his metaphysical philosophy, and no scientific understanding whatsoever. That you continue to treat this nonsense as if it crosses, or even approaches, the threshold of science indicates that you have little conception of what science actually is, beyond your own area of specialization.

Those of us with a philosophy and science background recognize the non-scientific nature of these sorts of claims immediately. You’re being “educated” by Dembski and others into their illegitimate manner of thought, and you’re judging us to be wrong based upon your IDist-inspired misapprehensions of what science is.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #124405

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 30, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

By the way, Pim, how do you propose that we should fight against the teaching of ID in biology?

We argue that ID is not science, thus it not only coincides with religion, it in essence is (part of a) religion (more steps are in the argument, of course). By that abbreviated logical progression we have the constitution to rule against teaching ID.

You seem to think that ID is vacuous, but a legitimate scientific hypothesis nevertheless. So if we allow you and the IDists to redefine science to include, say, astrology, ID, and magic elves, what possible legal argument could you bring against this “science” being taught in the schools?

(I should add that fundies have not been averse to invoking church/state separation whenever astrological notions appeared in schools.)

We actually have no instance in which a religion has given rise to a specific scientific hypothesis using non-trivial observations and understandings. Nevertheless, there is a good argument that any science, regardless of its religious origins, should be allowed in science classes. Vacuous science is not obviously excepted in such an argument, hence there seems no legal reason for you to oppose teaching ID in schools.

Religion masquerading as religion is what the courts rule against. This isn’t why ID isn’t science, by a long shot, but it is a reason why those of us who understand science tend to emphasize the fact that ID isn’t science in the least.

Since you fail consistently to recognize what makes science into science, and how ID fails in a causal sense, in the evidentiary sense, and by illegitimately eliminating non-scientific “chance” and “regularity” to end up with a default to unknown “design”, perhaps it is best to point out what should be obvious even to one who doesn’t understand science as a whole: There likely is not a case against teaching ID in public schools if you and the IDists are permitted to redefine science.

Worse consequences would also be likely to follow, but that result would be bad enough.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #124425

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 30, 2006 3:44 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Popper wrote:

All very good ideas.

Especially that your argument is against a strawman.

Especially since your argument fails in supporting logic. Care to expand so that we can determine indeed if my argument is one against a strawman. Fill the heads of people with science… Allen’s seminar seems to be doing exactly this.

As PvM has a habit of misrepresenting statements by failing to go back to see what they refer to and instead responding with non sequiturs, let me point out that the strawman I was referring to was CJ O’Brien’s “condensation” of PvM’s position: “why assert when you can argue?” That is the strawman that I referred to; no one here has advocated replacing arguments with mere assertions. It’s not my burden to provide “supporting logic” to demonstrate that this is a strawman, it’s PvM’s burden to demonstrate that anyone has taken that position. And noting that people use terms like “IDiot” in these threads does not meet that burden, although PvM seems to think it does.

As for filling the heads of people with science … I am of course referring to teaching straight science, as opposed to a critique of pseudo-science – which, while critiquing it, portrays it as legitimate scientific inquiry which just happens to so far be fruitless/”vacuous”. Even if he doesn’t agree with it, PvM knows full well what the objection to the content of Allen’s seminar is, and to pretend otherwise is quite dishonest … but par for the course.

Glen Davidson wrote:

For myself, I would make less of the fact that minds are not obviously changed, and more of the fact that there is little evidence of these “seeds of doubt”.

On more than one occasion I made the point that PvM first opined on this planting of seeds of doubt, then attacked people here for opining on what MacNeill’s seminar had achieved because they hadn’t attended it or talked to the participants, and complained that they shouldn’t just go by what they read on the blog (but they in fact were drawing upon what MacNeill wrote about it), and then stated that he had only read the blog and hadn’t attended the seminar or talked to the participants. Aside from the rank and offensive hypocrisy, by his own argument his claim of seeds of doubt lacks a basis.

That you claim that evolutionary processes are teleological does not heal the damage that you may be doing to science in your mistaken conception of science. MacNeill himself wrote this in his course description “… non-teleological …”

Previously I wrote “If MacNeill taught that then he grossly misinformed his students. Teleology refers to final causes, but final causes play no role in our understanding of biology and evolutionary processes.” It’s good to know that MacNeill does not make PvM’s egregious mistake. In response to my comment PvM wrote “It seems to me that Popper’s Ghost could benefit from reading the work of Ayala, Ruse and others. An informed opinion helps strengthen the impact of one’s statements and in this case it may help explore how scientists have approached these issues”, but I’m already aware of the metaphysical views of these philosophers.

There likely is not a case against teaching ID in public schools if you and the IDists are permitted to redefine science.

Indeed, PvM’s position is not just wrong-headed and dishonestly and badly argued, but it is very dangerous – which is a large part of why it has received so much resistance here. Any talk about “strategy and tactics” should take that into account.

Comment #124440

Posted by David B. Benson on August 30, 2006 4:33 PM (e)

PvM — It has been my life-long experience that mature YECers never give it up. You seem to be an exception. What changed your mind? A sound education? A sense that ones views ought to be consistent? (My teaching experience is that most students do not care, one way or the other. Since an introduction to philosophy is not a requirement here, only those with a predilection towards consistency sit the course.)

In any case, I doubt that it was a summer seminar similar to that recently completed and whose outcomes it appears you are defending. (Maybe I misunderstand.)

To me, it appears the game is not worth it. Most students need to understand what constitutes the scientific method. Also why, empirically, we use and defend it. Then, most students will come to understand why YEC is not scientific knowledge. Getting through the IDiots gobbledygook is not necessary. Most students will see that it is gobbledygook. Yes?

Comment #124689

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 31, 2006 1:42 PM (e)

PvM — It has been my life-long experience that mature YECers never give it up. You seem to be an exception. What changed your mind?

Knowing that might help understand what he writes. For instance,

What I am arguing is that there is a significant group of ID proponents who sincerely are led to believe that there is a scientific component to ID.

and

I agree to a large extent with your characterization of ID’s history. However to reject ID merely because it has been hijacked or had alterior motives, misses the point that there IS a scientific component to ID, however vacuous it may be. We may all want to deny such but that would merely play in the hands of the ID movement.

So, he insists that what “a significant group of ID proponents who sincerely are led to believe” is true. The only difference, apparently, is that he has concluded that this “scientific component” is “vacuous”, whereas they have not (yet). Somehow to point out that there is no “scientific component”, either by the facts of what makes something scientific or by noting that the whole enterprise of Dembski and the rest of “the ID movement” is dishonest at its core and not based on science or the scientific method, is to “merely play [into their] hands”. From PvM’s perspective, Duane Gish, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Bill Demsbki really are scientists with scientific hypotheses who have simply had the misfortune that the hypotheses they put forth are incorrect, much like Ptolemy or Henry Bondi. Ah, but that’s not right, because PvM doesn’t make such claims about Gish, Ham, Hovind, and their hypotheses. But why not? The hypotheses that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time or that there was a worldwide flood or that the earth is less than 10,000 years old are at least as scientific as Dembski’s “design inference”, which isn’t a hypothesis at all and is devoid of all empirical content. Do we play into the hands of the YEC movement by noting that its leaders are charlatans and con men and that their methods and claims are not scientific? Why not? How is ID different?

Comment #125237

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 7:53 PM (e)

So, he insists that what “a significant group of ID proponents who sincerely are led to believe” is true. The only difference, apparently, is that he has concluded that this “scientific component” is “vacuous”, whereas they have not (yet). Somehow to point out that there is no “scientific component”, either by the facts of what makes something scientific or by noting that the whole enterprise of Dembski and the rest of “the ID movement” is dishonest at its core and not based on science or the scientific method, is to “merely play [into their] hands”. From PvM’s perspective, Duane Gish, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Bill Demsbki really are scientists with scientific hypotheses who have simply had the misfortune that the hypotheses they put forth are incorrect, much like Ptolemy or Henry Bondi. Ah, but that’s not right, because PvM doesn’t make such claims about Gish, Ham, Hovind, and their hypotheses. But why not? The hypotheses that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time or that there was a worldwide flood or that the earth is less than 10,000 years old are at least as scientific as Dembski’s “design inference”, which isn’t a hypothesis at all and is devoid of all empirical content. Do we play into the hands of the YEC movement by noting that its leaders are charlatans and con men and that their methods and claims are not scientific? Why not? How is ID different?

Popper raises some good questions. Should we recognize that creationists do make scientific predictions or should we deny this and thereby run into the demarcation problem. To suggest that one can reject YEC or ID as unscientific a-priori based on some ‘recipe’ seems hard to support but if Popper wants to give it a try, then I am more than interested to hear his viewpoints.

Rather than attack ID and YEC on being unscientific a-priori or merely religiously motivated and play into the hands of ID strategists who rightly point out the problems with such arguments, why should we not look at the claims and see where they lead? For instance, the hypothesis that the world is 4000 years old is clearly scientific a-priori as it is falsifiable, makes predictions, and yet, science has rejected these arguments by showing how vaste evidence shows that the age of the earth is 4-4.5 billion years, not 4000-10,000 years.
Similarly, ID argues that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, a perfectly acceptable hypothesis. However when looking at where such a hypothesis leads, it quickly becomes clear that the hypothesis remains scientifically vacuous.
People have expressed their worries that by accepting that ID is vacuous science, we run the risk of courts being unable to reject ID in schools. However, similar to YEC, ID has shown to be scientifically vacuous and thus attempts to introduce such ideas into science classes can be shown to be religiously motivated and not motivated by scientific considerations. True, the courts may not be able to restric the teaching of bad science but that does not mean that they cannot restric the teaching of bad science which is clearly religiously motivated.

David Benson asked what caused me to reject YEC and seems to think that I am one of a few. I am aware of Glen Morton’s website which details various people who abandoned YEC.

From my extensive readings of pro-ID literature, I have come to the conclusion that the argument that ID is scientific has led many to repeat such claims. Showing, as did the court in Kitzmiller that ID is unscientific helps although I believe the court erred in using the simplistic approach of applying a recipe to reject ID. Nevertheless, the courts recognized the unreasonable requirements of ID on evolutionary science as well as the vacuity of ID when it comes to scientific explanations and research.

I am not the only one who has reached these conclusions

I am more a fan of Luadan

“Laudan has no reservations about talk about “good” and “bad” science as measured by their results and the evidence on behalf of their claims.”

Rather than reject ID’s arguments as failing methodological naturalism, why not show that the arguments themselves are vacuous. After all, MN is merely a working assumption which has served science well. If ID believes it can do better, then all the power to them. So far however they have failed and I see little evidence nor hope that they ever will.

I can appreciate that others may disagree with my position, and I certainly see a short term advantage in rejecting ID as science a-priori, making court challenges far more problematic for ID, but in the end it seems reasonable that we accept or at least attempt to explore, the arguments of ID when it comes to demarcation problems and scientific relevance. Rejecting ID just because we think it is idiotic or semantically flawed hardly seems a very convincing argument.

Popper wrote:

And it makes no sense to talk about so restricting “a hypothesis which simply states that design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”, which isn’t really a “hypothesis” at all, it’s a semantic claim, and a ludicrous one, since chance and regularity aren’t “sets”, and anything that is designed is also a consequence of chance and regularity by a recursive argument.

Rather than making these claims, why not explore how IDers present these arguments and show that they are ludicrous. Perhaps Popper could do us a favor and expand on his claims above? Certainly, as formulated above I doubt that it will serve to convince few of why this definition of design, which is consistent unlike 2+2=5 for instance, should be rejected.

So why should the hypothesis that ‘design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity’ be rejected as unscientific a-priori? People have rejected in the past various scientific hypotheses as “ludicrous”, unscientific or pseudo-science, even though later evidence showed these ideas to actually have scientific merrits.

Now, short term tactics may benefit from ignoring such issues, but in the end, science will have to address these issues.Perhaps contruibutors to this thread could start expressing their opinions on the demarcation problem, the scientific status of ID a-priori or a-posteriori and how science (and philosophers?) should deal with these issues?

My position is rather straightforward, rather than rejecting ID unscientific a-priori, I reject it as being scientifically vacuous a-posteriori.

Comment #125239

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 8:09 PM (e)

Glen wrote:

Since you fail consistently to recognize what makes science into science, and how ID fails in a causal sense, in the evidentiary sense, and by illegitimately eliminating non-scientific “chance” and “regularity” to end up with a default to unknown “design”, perhaps it is best to point out what should be obvious even to one who doesn’t understand science as a whole: There likely is not a case against teaching ID in public schools if you and the IDists are permitted to redefine science.

Worse consequences would also be likely to follow, but that result would be bad enough.

You argue that I faul to recognize what makes science into science and yet I have shown why I believe why the (scientific) hypothesis of design is scientifically vacuous (a posteriori). The idea that there exists a clear recipe to define what is science a-priori seems to be hard to support.

Even if you were right that accepting that ID’s thesis is scientific a-priori but fails a-posteriori would make restricting the teaching of ID in science classes impossible, that seems to be a poor reason to avoid dealing with these issues. Especially if the IDers have a good argument that there exists a demarcation problem. However, as I stated, while teaching bad science may not be unconstitutional perse, the teaching of bad science where religious motivations play a significant role would still fail to be constitutional.

I’d say that worse consequences would follow if we were to pretend these questions are not legitimate ones. Even in Kitzmiller, the court clearly rejected ID as being scientifically without merrit, although the judge did rely on McLean and other rulings to argue that ID fails to meet certain ‘requirements for science’. This ‘demarcation’ of what is science and what isn’t based on some rules, seems hard to defend.

So, even if such a position would open the possibilities of ID being taught in schools, would this be sufficient to reject such a position? Especially, if such a postion is defensible? What if most philosophers of science have accepted that clear demarcation rules of what is and is science may not exist? Should we care? Should we ignore it?

Glen wrote:

Religion masquerading as religion is what the courts rule against. This isn’t why ID isn’t science, by a long shot, but it is a reason why those of us who understand science tend to emphasize the fact that ID isn’t science in the least.

Yes, ID is religion masquerading as science (which is what I assume you meant to state). But to claim that ‘those of us who understand science emphasize the fact that ID isn’s science’ is needlessly ad hominem as well as a meaningless statement. ID’s religious motivations do not make ID scientifically vacuous, it’s the consequences of ID’s hypotheses which make it so. And it seems that there are those who do understand science (and philosophy of science) who have come to realize this.

So to answer your question

By the way, Pim, how do you propose that we should fight against the teaching of ID in biology?

Because it is scientifically vacuous and religiously motivated and thus violates the US constitution. For the same reason I rejec the teaching of YECism.

Comment #125241

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

Victor Stenger, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, wrote the following on the Dover ruling:

My university of Hawaii colleague at the time, the eminent philosopher Larry Laudan, had been one of the strong voices disputing Popperian falsifiability as a workable demarcation criterion for science. When the Arkansas decision was announced, Laudan objected strenuously. He pointed out that creation science is in fact testable, tentative, and falsifiable. For example, it predicts a young Earth and other geological facts that have, in fact, been falsified. Falsified science can still be science, just wrong science. Laudan warned that the Arkansas decision would come back to haunt science by “perpetuating and canonizing a false stereotype on what science is and how it works.”

Comment #125246

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 8:29 PM (e)

Still beating this dead horse, eh, PvM? It’s off the front page; let it rest.

To suggest that one can reject YEC or ID as unscientific a-priori based on some ‘recipe’ seems hard to support but if Popper wants to give it a try, then I am more than interested to hear his viewpoints.

That ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support and the viewpoint has already given by both myself and Glen Davidson here, and others elsewhere, at considerable length, but you seem neither interested nor capable of hearing.

Comment #125247

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 8:34 PM (e)

Can anyone detect the various logical fallacies in the following statement by Popper?

Somehow to point out that there is no “scientific component”, either by the facts of what makes something scientific or by noting that the whole enterprise of Dembski and the rest of “the ID movement” is dishonest at its core and not based on science or the scientific method, is to “merely play [into their] hands”. From PvM’s perspective, Duane Gish, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Bill Demsbki really are scientists with scientific hypotheses who have simply had the misfortune that the hypotheses they put forth are incorrect, much like Ptolemy or Henry Bondi. Ah, but that’s not right, because PvM doesn’t make such claims about Gish, Ham, Hovind, and their hypotheses. But why not?

Hint: My silence on Gish et al has no relevance to my arguments. In fact, I have spoken out against YECism more than sufficiently.

That Popper believes that ID is dihonest at the core, also has little relevance on ID’s status as science. Of course, pointing out the dishonesty of ID is relevant in establishing not just the scientific vacuity of ID but also its religious and political foundations and motivations. And as I have expressed before, there is nothing wrong in pointing out these many problems with ID. What I am arguing against is quite straightforward, namely the idea that ID can be rejected as unscientific a-priori, either because it is religiously motivated or because it fails some arbitrary set of ‘what good science should look like’.
ID fails as a science, not because of these reasons but because of the simple fact and observation that it has no scientific content.

Perhaps Popper will abandon his countless logical fallacies and will address these issues in a manner which allows us to establish if there is any relevance to his claims. Understanding the demarcation problem as well as the self evident teleology in biology may be unconfortable to some but neither one really requires one to accept ID as scientifically relevant. In fact, I argue that accepting these positions will help strengthen the arguments against ID.
As I pointed out, Allen has some excellent papers on teleology in nature. And many more excellent papers can be found on the web or in journals.
The same applies to the demarcation problem.

Comment #125252

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 8:39 PM (e)

That ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support and the viewpoint has already given by both myself and Glen Davidson here, and others elsewhere, at considerable length, but you seem neither interested nor capable of hearing.

If so, then I am sure you can present them in manner which I am capable of hearing?
To suggest that I am not interested is just ad hominem which allows you to not address my claims. That’s fine with me.

Explain how you resolved the demarcation problem. What part of ID allows you to reject its claims a priori? And where and when did either you or Glen provided support for such statements? Glen mostly asserted that those familiar with science would understand the problems with my arguments and realize that ID is vacuous, further suggesting that my position would make it impossible to reject the teaching of ID in schools on constitutional grounds. As far as your contributions are concerned, I remember idiocy and some other terms but none of them struck me as particularly relevant. If I missed some of your more relevant comments then I am surely interested in hearing about them.

Comment #125254

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 8:51 PM (e)

Dead dead dead.

If so, then I am sure you can present them in manner which I am capable of hearing?

Since you are demonstrably not capable of hearing it, I am not able to present it in a manner such that you are. Sheesh.

Comment #125255

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Glen mostly asserted that those familiar with science would understand the problems with my arguments and realize that ID is vacuous, further suggesting that my position would make it impossible to reject the teaching of ID in schools on constitutional grounds. As far as your contributions are concerned, I remember idiocy and some other terms but none of them struck me as particularly relevant. If I missed some of your more relevant comments then I am surely interested in hearing about them.

All you have to do to “hear about them” is to go back and READ them. That you characterize my constributions as “idiocy and some other terms but none of them struck me as particularly relevant” and nothing more shows how intransigently dishonest you are. I have no way of forcing you to read and comprehend the arguments that have been given and properly characterize them, and I’ve already wasted far too much of my time on you.

Comment #125257

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 9:04 PM (e)

Can anyone detect the various logical fallacies in the following statement by Popper?

Even if there are such fallacies and people can detect them, why would they bother? Why would they care? As I said repeatedly, in several different ways, but you have failed to grasp, beating me up does nothing to further your position. You have failed miserably in this thread to convince anyone of your position, and your silly tu quoque posturing does nothing to help your case.

Comment #125268

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 11:06 PM (e)

That ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support and the viewpoint has already given by both myself and Glen Davidson here, and others elsewhere, at considerable length, but you seem neither interested nor capable of hearing.

If so, then I am sure you can present them in manner which I am capable of hearing?
To suggest that I am not interested is just ad hominem which allows you to not address my claims. That’s fine with me.

Explain how you resolved the demarcation problem. What part of ID allows you to reject its claims a priori? And where and when did either you or Glen provided support for such statements? Glen mostly asserted that those familiar with science would understand the problems with my arguments and realize that ID is vacuous, further suggesting that my position would make it impossible to reject the teaching of ID in schools on constitutional grounds. As far as your contributions are concerned, I remember idiocy and some other terms but none of them struck me as particularly relevant. If I missed some of your more relevant comments then I am surely interested in hearing about them.

Comment #125269

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 11:27 PM (e)

I do not care that I have not convinced you or the few others on this thread. I am interested in pursuing the arguments about the scientific nature of ID.
Your responses suggest that you don’t really care to argue much of anything.
Too bad.

Popper wrote:

Since you are demonstrably not capable of hearing it, I am not able to present it in a manner such that you are. Sheesh.

How comfortable, blaming the recipient for your inability to communicate, or even show evidence of such communication. That’s fine with me Popper.

Popper wrote:

You have failed miserably in this thread to convince anyone of your position, and your silly tu quoque posturing does nothing to help your case.

It helps to show the vacuity of your case. That people are objecting to my position is something I can understand since people see it as giving in to ID when in fact, it strengthens the legal and scientific position by actually dealing with the arguments proposed by the ID movement.
Now I understand that such may be a novel concept, especially with the recent trend to reject ID as merely religious or an idiocy, or “better” by name calling or ad hominem arguments. Never mind that such arguments will eventually fail to convince people to reject intelligent design. Certainly, a large fraction of ID proponents seems to be religious people. What effect do you think such arguments have on them? So why not show that ID is scientifically vacuous and avoid having to argue issues like the demarcation problem? Why not embrace the teleology of biology rather than awkwardly avoiding this while at the same time using strongly teleological language?

What if we can show that ID is vacuous a posteriori? What if we can show that teleology in biology is to be expected and nothing to be ‘ashamed’ of? Why should some be afraid to address these issues and resort to silly logical fallacies?
If, as you suggest, my arguments are that weak, how come that you need to use such logical fallacies? And why, when I explicitly ask you to present your arguments, you refuse?

I think that these issues are getting too far away from the original thread and it’s time to start some new threads discussing both the demarcation problem in further details, as well as the issue of whether or not ID can be rejected as scientifically vacuous a=priori or a-posteriori. You are of course invited to present your arguments and I am looking forward to them. Finally, the issue of teleology in biology could benefit from some postings. Allen’s course did a great favor to its students by discussing the many papers which discuss teleology in nature by such people as Mayr, Nagel, Ayala and Ruse. A reminder posting on how ID defines design, and how it equivocates on these terms seems also timely, given that quite a few on this thread have given the impression that they were not even familiar with the basic definition design as proposed by Dembski in his earliest work.

Of course, it’s much easier to reject ID as idiotic but making an actual scientific arguments is quite a bit harder. People at talkorigins, talkdesign and PandasThumb have done a great job at unraveling both the scientific vacuity of the design thesis as well as the various objections of ID proponents to evolutionary science. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s quite efficient at unraveling the vacuity of ID and spreading the news.

As a final note, I am somewhat surprised how various of the posters on this thread have actually lived up to some of the stereotypes of the ID critic. I particularly was amused by Sir Toejam’s “You should consider removing yourself as a contributor.”

Now that’s like handing candy to the ID movement…

So perhaps some of the so called ID critics on this thread may want to reconsider the effectiveness of their arguments and approaches and ask ‘what have I done lately in the battle between science and Intelligent Design’?

For instance: While the results from Allen’s course are hard to interpret (none shifted postion from or to ID), Allen’s comments suggest how the two ID proponents who took the class, did actually shift their positions. That’s a first good step.

I congratulate Allen on conducting a well prepared and well developed seminar where people were allowed to explore and reach their own conclusions based on an analysis of the works of intelligent design proponents. Allen’s work led to students understand the weakness of the argument from analogy, the unworkable nature of specification, the strength of common descent. In the end, ID critics and ID proponents alike became better informed about the concept of design, teleology. We can all hope that these ID critics will put their learned knowledge and skills to good use and politely though strongly argue their case.

Comment #125272

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 11:34 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

All you have to do to “hear about them” is to go back and READ them. That you characterize my constributions as “idiocy and some other terms but none of them struck me as particularly relevant” and nothing more shows how intransigently dishonest you are. I have no way of forcing you to read and comprehend the arguments that have been given and properly characterize them, and I’ve already wasted far too much of my time on you.

I did not mean to characterize your contribution as idiocy, I was pointing out how you used the term in your rejection of ID. Since little or no logic or reasons, let alone arguments were presented, I was asking for you and/or Glen to provide such arguments in a coherent manner. Perhaps I am somewhat slow to understand your greatness, and perhaps you are right that I am unable to comprehend your arguments. But in all honesty I have seen little so far which sounds like a coherent argument why ID should be considered non-science a-priori.

So go ahead, accuse me of misrepresenting your position, whatever that may be, accuse me of ignoring your arguments even though I ask for examples and clarifications.
In the end it seems clear that the emperor has no clothes worth speaking of as the claim that ID is non-science a-priori has as far as I am concerned yet to be supported. If you do not want to repeat yourself, all you need to do is reference the comments (they are identified as Comment # followed by 6 digits).

As always I am looking forward to your contributions, to whatever extent you may feel comfortable. Feel free to take all the time you think you may need. I will be working on some more targeted postings to address these issues.

Comment #125276

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 11:42 PM (e)

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Comment #125279

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 11:44 PM (e)

If you do not want to repeat yourself, all you need to do is reference the comments (they are identified as Comment # followed by 6 digits).

Read them all.

Comment #125284

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 1, 2006 11:53 PM (e)

I am interested in pursuing the arguments about the scientific nature of ID.

No, you are only interested in having your view accepted. To that end you ignore, mischaracterize, and trivialize people’s arguments. You fit to a tee Quine’s second desire:

The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. On all accounts, both practical and theoretical, there is nothing but good to be said for it. The desire to have been right, on the other hand, is the pride that goeth before a fall. It stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong, and thus blocks the progress of our knowledge.

Comment #125285

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 11:54 PM (e)

Popper’s posting in which he accused me of lying has been moved to the bathroom wall. All Popper should have done is ask me for a correction when I used the term idiocy when I should have stated ludicrous. I apologize for me using the wrong term. No reason to accuse me of lying.

Comment #125286

Posted by PvM on September 1, 2006 11:56 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

No, you are only interested in having your view accepted. To that end you ignore, mischaracterize, and trivialize people’s arguments.

Seems to fit your behavior much better my dear friend.

Comment #125288

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:07 AM (e)

Popper wrote:

Read them all.

Any in particular? After all you stated that ““ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support”. If it were that easy, then surely you can provide me with some hints as to where you believe you made your best case?

Again I am inviting you to clearly state your reasoning that leads you to your conclusion about ID.

Of course, you can accuse me of not being interested in your position but would it not be far more effective to show where you made your (best) arguments to support that “ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support”

Perhaps you may have solved the demarcation problem… Such an achievement would be well worth repeating, would you not agree? After all, that would be the end of the ID arguments that rejecting ID as unscientific a-priori ignores the demarcation problem

Comment #125289

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 12:10 AM (e)

Seems to fit your behavior much better my dear friend.

I already noted your tu quoque posturing. Do you know what tu quoque is? Do you know how stupid it is? Do you know that anyone using a tu quoque argument is doing exactly what Quine referred to? But this is always your response. I didn’t offer arguments; why criticisms of you apply more to me. Neiner neiner. What a pathetic stupid fuck you are.

Comment #125290

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:13 AM (e)

Ah the smell of insults in the morning. You’re a funny guy Popper. Why not simply support your claim that ““ID is unscientific a priori is easy to support”

Explain to us how easy and how you reached this conclusion.

Comment #125292

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 12:23 AM (e)

If it were that easy, then surely you can provide me with some hints as to where you believe you made your best case?

Moron. The simplest point is that definitions aren’t hypotheses. Anyone who isn’t a cretin or a lying jackass can understand that. Definitions are not empirical proposals; there is no evidence that one can present to demonstrate that a definition is true or false; definitions simply aren’t that sort of thing. And Glen pointed out that the terminology in Dembski’s definition is not scientific; “chance” and “regularity” as Dembski uses them are metaphysical, not empirical, not scientific. That makes his enterprise a priori not scientific. That you are unable to grasp this obvious fact shows – a posteriori – that you’re an idiot. You can blabber on from now to doomsday, but you will never convince the scientific community that ID rests upon an “a priori scientific” foundation because it doesn’t.

Good night.

Comment #125306

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 1:36 AM (e)

A nightcap:

Definition: God: the creator of the universe
Inference: any explanation of the origin of the universe must be made in terms of God
Hypothesis: the universe was created by God

Because there’s a “demarcation problem”, there’s supposedly no way to distinguish this from science. We cannot reject it a priori as science, only a posteriori, by showing that its “scientific component” is “vacuous”.

The obvious problem with this obvious fallacy is that the demarcation problem is about defining the boundary between science and non-science, but some things, like “only verifiable statements are meaningful” or the stuff about God above are unambiguously not science. If one actually reads the Wikipedia article on the demarcation problem, one finds

Demarcation in contemporary scientific method

The criteria for a system of assumptions, methods, and theories to qualify as science today vary in their details from application to application, and vary significantly among the natural sciences, social sciences and formal science. The criteria typically include (1) the formulation of hypotheses that meet the logical criterion of contingency, defeasibility, or falsifiability and the closely related empirical and practical criterion of testability, (2) a grounding in empirical evidence, and (3) the use of scientific method. The procedures of science typically include a number of heuristic guidelines, such as the principles of conceptual economy or theoretical parsimony that fall under the rubric of Ockham’s razor. A conceptual system that fails to meet a significant number of these criteria is likely to be considered non-scientific. The following is a list of additional features that are highly desirable in a scientific theory.

    * Consistent. Generates no obvious logical contradictions, and ‘saves the phenomena’, being consistent with observation.

    * Parsimonious. Economical in the number of assumptions and hypothetical entities.

    * Pertinent. Describes and explains observed phenomena.

    * Falsifiable and testable. See Falsifiability and Testability.

    * Reproducible. Makes predictions that can be tested by any observer, with trials extending indefinitely into the future.

    * Correctable and dynamic. Subject to modification as new observations are made.

    * Integrative, robust, and corrigible. Subsumes previous theories as approximations, and allows possible subsumption by future theories. (Robust = “stable” in the statistical sense, i.e., not very sensitive to occasional outlying data points.) See Correspondence principle

    * Provisional or tentative. Does not assert the absolute certainty of the theory.

It’s not hard for reasonable people to discern that, even if one allows considerable leeway, and without any appeal to motivation, ID fails to fit these criteria.

Comment #125345

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 2, 2006 4:45 AM (e)

A remarkably long thread considering the questions it revolves around.

1. Is it good strategy to have a seminar about ID?
ID is, albeit with a political and religious agenda, a junk science. In other cases junk sciences, even politically involved such as atrology, is researched and debunked for their alleged scientific content. The question then becomes why ID should be treated differently, and no good answer seems to be given. It is possible to debunk creationism/ID for its vacuous main and auxilliary ‘hypotheses’, and sometimes YEC content.

2. Is there a demarcation problem?
As Popper, Glen and Stevepinhead remarks concludes, demarcation is a problem in philosophy, not in practical science. Factual debunking will naturally involve falsification and demarcating supernatural causation, since ID is one of several similar junks sciences.

3. Is there an apriori-aposteriori distinction?
The apriori-aposteriori distinction is a red herring. Apriori nothing is excluded by science. But by todays knowledge ID’s main hypotheses (creationism, teleology) are more or less apriori excluded after some analysis. Auxilliary hypotheses such as IC aren’t always synomymous with creationism, and they are more or less aposteriori excluded after some analysis and research.

4. Is there such a thing as teleology?
Quite frankly I’m baffled by this assumption. Teleology doesn’t describe normal causation truthfully, and already causation is a derived concept.

“In particular, we should emphasize that there is no place in this view for common philosophical concepts such as ”cause and effect” or ”purpose.” From the perspective of modern science, events don’t have purposes or causes; they simply conform to the laws of nature. In particular, there is no need to invoke any mechanism to ”sustain” a physical system or to keep it going; it would require an additional layer of complexity for a system to cease following its patterns than for it to simply continue to do so. Believing otherwise is a relic of a certain metaphysical way of thinking; these notions are useful in an informal way for human beings, but are not a part of the rigorous scientific description of the world. Of course scientists do talk about ”causality,” but this is a description of the relationship between patterns and boundary conditions; it is a derived concept, not a fundamental one.” ( http://pancake.uchicago.edu/~carroll/nd-paper.ht… )

If biology has introduced teleology in science as a needed scientifical concept instead of a philosophical or religious one, it needs to define and support that necessity. Has it done so? The references given are all from journals of philosophy.

In short, I find much of the discussion of this thread caused :-) by confusing science with philosophy.

Comment #125362

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 6:48 AM (e)

1. Is it good strategy to have a seminar about ID?
ID is, albeit with a political and religious agenda, a junk science. In other cases junk sciences, even politically involved such as atrology, is researched and debunked for their alleged scientific content. The question then becomes why ID should be treated differently, and no good answer seems to be given.

As has been noted over and over again, we do not subject students to seminars in which astronomy and astrology are presented side by side, inviting in a champion of astrology, letting them co-moderate the seminar blog, etc. – indeed, why should ID be treated differently in that regard? As with astrology, ID has been repeatedly debunked in print, much as is done by Wesley Ellsbury in his review that PvM cited and I repeatedly quoted from. To the degree that ID is treated differently, it is because it is a religious and political movement – which astrology is not; teaching an astronomy/astrology seminar, although not a good idea, would not do the same harm because there is not a well-funded, active political/religious movement with a specific “teach the controversy” strategy in regard to astrology. And, unlike astrology or even YEC, ID entails no empirical predictions (that various ID proponents say that certain claims are predictions of ID does not mean that they are actually entailed by some theory), so it doesn’t even qualify as junk science.

Apriori nothing is excluded by science.

I’ll assume you mean excluded a priori from science, otherwise it’s a pointless strawman. If so, it simply isn’t true. Whether there is a God is excluded a priori from science. It follows that whether God created the universe, or whether God guided evolution, or whether God poofed the flagellum into existence are also excluded a priori from science. Also excluded a priori from science is whether “A ‘lledge’ is, by definition, a llama perched on a ledge” is true – because the question of whether a definition is true is incoherent. Fermat’s Last Theorem is also excluded a priori from science because it isn’t an empirical question; it can’t be answered by an appeal to physical evidence. If ID can be expressed as an empirical hypothesis, I have yet to see it.

Auxilliary hypotheses such as IC

IC is a phrase, not a hypothesis – people would make a lot fewer errors in this area if they would actually write things out and verify that they are in fact what they are imagined to be. The argument that IC mechanisms cannot evolve is a fallacious argument and has been repeatedly been demonstrated to be such in print. Specific claims that certain mechanisms, purportedly IC, cannot evolve are empirical claims but are argumentum ad ignorantiam; they pose a challenge to scientists to come up with hypotheses for evolutionary mechanisms, but are not themselves scientific hypotheses. And the failure to come up with evolutionary mechanisms is not itself evidence for ID – nothing serves as evidence for or against ID, as Judge Jones well recognized.

In short, I find much of the discussion of this thread caused :-) by confusing science with philosophy.

Primarily by one party; you’re not the first one to try to disentangle them.

Comment #125377

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 7:25 AM (e)

From the perspective of modern science, events don’t have purposes or causes; they simply conform to the laws of nature.

This seems wrong to me. “The laws of nature” are not givens, prescriptive edicts handed down from on high, they are descriptive generalizations of empirical observation; the laws conform to the events, not v.v. These generalizations assert certain relationships among events and conditions; those relationships capture our notion of cause and effect. Putting “purposes” and “causes” in the same phrase is very odd; there’s nothing inherently teleological about causation, certainly not since Hume. Cosmic rays cause mutations, warmer seas cause more violent hurricanes, etc.; “from the perspective of modern science” it’s perfectly legitimate to talk about causes, and eliminating such talk would require replacing it with synonymous talk, or not being able to talk clearly; the same is not true of talk of purposes, which in biology can be replaced with more accurate talk about capabilities – instead of saying that the purpose of a wing is for flight, we can say that wings make flight possible; long sharp beaks make it possible to reach penetrate wood and reach insects; etc. And we can relate these capabilities to fitness, something we cannot do with “purpose”.

Comment #125407

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 2, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Popper’s:
“I’ll assume you mean excluded a priori from science, otherwise it’s a pointless strawman.”

Yes.

“If so, it simply isn’t true.”

In my view it is. Science does observations, and a priori all explanations are welcome. But we can’t really do experiments or theory if local supernatural causation was permissible. It is too strong a hypothesis, so it is excluded in our methods early on, from the get go if you will. Methodological naturalism is a basic feature, and to argue whether it is or isn’t a priori is a mostly a red herring, and especially here.

“Fermat’s Last Theorem is also excluded a priori from science because it isn’t an empirical question; it can’t be answered by an appeal to physical evidence.”

Interesting. My view of mathematics is that its basic formal systems were and continues to be modelled on physical events. String theory for example, is currently more math than phys. Computer science can explore some mathematical problems empirically. Indeed I think the whole idea of BPP complexity as the largest practical class of solvable problem incorporates empirical solutions such as Monte Carlo methods. That the experiment and observation is numerical is acceptable to me.

“The argument that IC mechanisms cannot evolve is a fallacious argument”

Agreed. As I said above, see #122594 and 122599, IC is easily proven to be an illdefined concept, so it fails as a hypothesis with very little effort.

“there’s nothing inherently teleological about causation”

No. Carroll is using a simple model of science as a basis to discuss it as a worldview. In the process he notes that “Of course scientists do talk about ”causality,” but this is a description of the relationship between patterns and boundary conditions; it is a derived concept, not a fundamental one. If we know the state of a system at one time, and the laws governing its dynamics, we can calculate the state of the system at some later time. You might be tempted to say that the particular state at the first time ”caused” the state to be what it was at the second time; but it would be just as correct to say that the second state caused the first.”

But as you say, and I note on teleology and purpose, derived notions are practical and needed, but must first be shown as such. Your notion of capability seems to be much more practical than ‘purpose’, and you manage to make the point in two sentences.

Comment #125408

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 2, 2006 12:00 PM (e)

““there’s nothing inherently teleological about causation”

No.”

Seeing that perhaps this will be litterarily read, I mean here “yes” or “agreed”.

Comment #125412

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:19 PM (e)

The concept of a-priori and a-posteriori as I used it when it comes to whether or not something is scientific, refers to whether or not there exist some fixed set of rules which allow us to reject or accept what is science. As history has shown, such rules clearly do not exist. So the question is, how does one determine the scientific nature of a concept? Here, the work of Laudan seems quite interesting since the process is more one of iteration.
There has been an interesting thread on PT discussing Laudan and how Beckwith uses Laudan’s comments

Leiter wrote:

If so, he might have also noted that Beckwith quotes Laudan [at 25] noting that ID “is inconsistent with methodological naturalism and ontological materialism…[b]ut that fact has no bearing whatsoever on the plausbility of the arguments for ID.” Why does Laudan say that? Because methodological naturalism is an a posteriori doctrine, which means if ID generated any empirical results incompatible with it—it has not, of course—then so much the worse for MN. The problem is purely a posteriori: ID has no research program and no empirical support, so it presents no challenge at all to the reliance on naturalistical explanatory mechanisms. Laudan thinks talk of “pseudo-science” is misleading in the absence of a solution to the demarcation problem; Laudan has no reservations about talk about “good” and “bad” science as measured by their results and the evidence on behalf of their claims.

Rejecting ID because it is religiously motivated or even because it includes the supernatural or because it does not accept methodological naturalism is unsupportable a-priori. The first one is an ad hominem argument, the second one presumes that science cannot study supernatural claims (for instance the efficacy of prayer) and the latter one treats MN as something sacred rather than what it really is, a workable doctrine. If, as ID claims, MN is insufficient, and they can support their claims, then MN will have to be rejected.

The reason why ID is rejected as science is because it has no content, no research program, and no empirical support.

Now people have attempted to formulate rules of science and Popper quotes some of them

* Consistent. Generates no obvious logical contradictions, and ‘saves the phenomena’, being consistent with observation.

* Parsimonious. Economical in the number of assumptions and hypothetical entities.

* Pertinent. Describes and explains observed phenomena.

* Falsifiable and testable. See Falsifiability and Testability.

* Reproducible. Makes predictions that can be tested by any observer, with trials extending indefinitely into the future.

* Correctable and dynamic. Subject to modification as new observations are made.

* Integrative, robust, and corrigible. Subsumes previous theories as approximations, and allows possible subsumption by future theories. (Robust = “stable” in the statistical sense, i.e., not very sensitive to occasional outlying data points.) See Correspondence principle

* Provisional or tentative. Does not assert the absolute certainty of the theory.

Popper argues that: It’s not hard for reasonable people to discern that, even if one allows considerable leeway, and without any appeal to motivation, ID fails to fit these criteria.

And yet reasonable people disagree. ID arguable matches most if not all of these. So the hope that these rules are somehow sufficient to reject ID (a priori) quickly disappears when confronted by reality

Popper wrote:

Because there’s a “demarcation problem”, there’s supposedly no way to distinguish this from science. We cannot reject it a priori as science, only a posteriori, by showing that its “scientific component” is “vacuous”.

Indeed, there is no easy and defensible way to a-priori reject something as science or not. History is full of examples that show this.

Popper wrote:

The obvious problem with this obvious fallacy is that the demarcation problem is about defining the boundary between science and non-science, but some things, like “only verifiable statements are meaningful” or the stuff about God above are unambiguously not science. If one actually reads the Wikipedia article on the demarcation problem, one finds

Perhaps one should read more than the what Wikipedia has to offer? The actual arguments proposed by philosophers for instance? Wikipedia is a good start but to blindly accept its claims is done at one’s own risk. A significant risk in this case it seems. While Popper attempts to claim what is not science, he has done little to show that these examples are unambiguously non-science a-priori. I already gave an example of how science can study the effect of prayer on healing. The argument is that God hears our prayers and acts on them. That’s a hypothesis which can be studied by science, and rejected, and yet some may have rejected the hypothesis a-priori because it involves ‘stuff about God’.
Until science takes the arguments and motivations of ID more seriously, it leaves some big gaps in which ID can fester. Issues raised about the demarcation problem need to be addressed and are in fact simply addressed and avoided by pointing out that ID is scientifically vacuous.
I understand the concerns and fears of some that this will undermine the effort to prevent the teaching of this vacuous concept. As I have argued, there need not be such fear, as we have cases involving scientific hypotheses of YEC which have failed and cannot be taught as such in schools because of their strong religious motivations and foundations.

Comment #125416

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:36 PM (e)

Science does observations, and a priori all explanations are welcome. But we can’t really do experiments or theory if local supernatural causation was permissible. It is too strong a hypothesis, so it is excluded in our methods early on, from the get go if you will. Methodological naturalism is a basic feature, and to argue whether it is or isn’t a priori is a mostly a red herring, and especially here.

I disagree. In the case of ID, they claim that MN is insufficient and that ID proposes a solution. That clearly means that attempts to reject ID a-priori as unscientific because it does not accept MN should be rejected. After all, MN is hardly a sacred concept and if something better can replace it, all the power to ID. The problem is however that despite these claims ID has failed to show that intelligence cannot be captured in processes of chance and regularity, that intelligence can create complex specified information, or that the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity is non-empty.

Howard Sankey wrote:

For where scientists disagree about the aims of their enterprise, no appeal can be made to common goals to resolve lower-level disputes about methodological or factual matters. Given that scientific disputes are to be resolved at a higher level, the hierarchical model does not possess the resources to explain resolution of disputes arising at the top of the hierarchy.

In other words, one cannot resolve disputes about methodology by rejecting it based on the commonly accepted methodology. This is an anti-scientific position which fails to treat MN as falsifiable or tentative.

This is why I like the work by Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols wrote:

In my argument against Intelligent Design Theory I will not contend that it is not falsifiable or that it implies contradictions. I’ll argue that Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t imply anything at all, i.e. it has no content. By ‘content’ I refer to a body of determinate principles and propositions entailed by those principles. By ‘principle’ I refer to a proposition of central importance to the theory at issue. By ‘determinate principle’ I refer to a proposition of central importance to the theory at issue in which the extensions of its terms are clearly defined.
I’ll evaluate the work of William Dembski because he specifies his methodology in detail, thinks Intelligent Design Theory is contentful and thinks Intelligent Design Theory (hereafter ‘IDT’) grounds an empirical research program.1 Later in the paper I assess a recent trend in which IDT is allegedly found a better home as a metascientific hypothesis, which serves as a paradigm that catalyzes research. I’ll conclude that, whether IDT is construed as a scientific or metascientific hypothesis, IDT lacks content.

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

see my overview of Laudan on Pandast Thumb

Laudan attempts to resolve (and resolves) these problems by having science and philosophy of science co-evolve. Unless one allows Laudan’s approach, the arguments by ID that science unfairly excludes ID a-priori based on the concept of MN is a valid argument. No surprise then that ID is working this angle… And unless science confronts these issues, there will be a strong opportunity for a wedge between scientists and the layperson who has come to accept that the claims of ID are in fact as scientific as hypotheses based merely on MN. Only by showing where the concepts of ID lead, can we hope to undermine its claims. Rejecting ID because it supposedly appeals to God (it doesn’t necessarily) or the supernatural runs quickly afoul of the demarcation problem since ID argues that the top hierarchy of science is flawed (MN).
And this creates a lot of ambiguity and confusion when arguing against ID. For instance ID argues that design cannot be captured by chance and regularity processes, thus arguing that design is not reducible to such processes. To argue then that ID fails methodological naturalism and is unscientific ignores that ID has a major disagreement with some of the foundational assumptions of science.
Is design the empty set or are there truly processes which cannot be captured by chance and regularity processes? ID argues the latter but has failed to present so far, any supporting evidence other than by arguing that design is an intractable problem but then so are natural processes since we typically lack sufficient detail allowing us to calculate the correct probabilities for the causal steps.
By separating design from chance and regularity, Dembski has proposed a way to detect ‘design’ in nature. While for many reasons science has come to reject his claims, rejecting it a-priori as unscientific seems unworthy of the scientific enterprise.

Comment #125417

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

On Anti-Evolution, some commenters are pointing out why they avoid the comment sections of PandasThumb. Since their comments seem quite relevant to this thread, I quote them with approval

Quote (stevestory @ Sep. 01 2006,12:55)
One thing I just noticed is, AtBC is a much more pleasant place these days than the comment sections of PT. Here, the people who like to tear AFDave apart do so in their own thread. The people who like to have a good laugh at Uncommonly Dense hang out in a thread. Paley has a few threads where he’s given up on the science and makes loopy political claims. Jason Spaceman pops by occasionally and links to a news story. All-in-all, it’s a little mean at times, but mostly pleasant. Over on PT, though, a topic about a specific item will get totally sidetracked on a shrill “You Suck” “No, You Suck” fight. Not to name any names, but there are a few people who I consistently see in these long boring fights. I can see why some PT contributors see little value in the comments there.

(Arden Chatfield) Well put. This is basically why even tho I discovered ATBC via PT, I no longer spend much time at PT. It’s no fun anymore – there are about 2-3 alpha male types there who dominate everything and set the tone for every thread. It’s booooorrrrrrrriiiiiiinnnnngggggggg…

Comment #125418

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 12:49 PM (e)

“there’s nothing inherently teleological about causation”

No. Carroll is using a simple model of science as a basis to discuss it as a worldview. In the process he notes that “Of course scientists do talk about ”causality,” but this is a description of the relationship between patterns and boundary conditions; it is a derived concept, not a fundamental one. If we know the state of a system at one time, and the laws governing its dynamics, we can calculate the state of the system at some later time. You might be tempted to say that the particular state at the first time ”caused” the state to be what it was at the second time; but it would be just as correct to say that the second state caused the first.”

But as you say, and I note on teleology and purpose, derived notions are practical and needed, but must first be shown as such. Your notion of capability seems to be much more practical than ‘purpose’, and you manage to make the point in two sentences.

I think the problem arises when science is unable to show sufficient detail for the causal steps which makes it harder to determine the nature of the teleology. And this opens up the ID argument that until science provides sufficient detail, design remains a possibility. Of course, design always remains a possibility, it’s just that ID seems unwilling or unable to provide a similarly detailed scenario. In fact IDers like Dembski deny that ID should be held to such standards. All in all, it shows how ID avoids being scientifically relevant.

Comment #125429

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 2, 2006 2:36 PM (e)

PvM:
“Rejecting ID because it is religiously motivated or even because it includes the supernatural or because it does not accept methodological naturalism is unsupportable a-priori.”

What I’m trying to say that this is a moot point. Supernatural causation is used a priori to reject such hypotheses as gods messing with experiments, ie we don’t say that unexplained parts are due to supernatural events, we say “we don’t know”. Sceptics do use the nature of the business as part of making debunking.

OTOH, in as much ID makes positive claims it is of course possible and stronger to reject it as such. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

And I read Laudan as ready to accept science as it is currently used. Anything else is not workable.

“In the case of ID, they claim that MN is insufficient and that ID proposes a solution. That clearly means that attempts to reject ID a-priori as unscientific because it does not accept MN should be rejected.”

No, it means that they are making a special plea.

Of course as I said above, often we do make an analysis in any case. And auxiliary ideas such as IC aren’t covered by supernatural claims, and need another analysis.

“After all, MN is hardly a sacred concept and if something better can replace it, all the power to ID…. In other words, one cannot resolve disputes about methodology by rejecting it based on the commonly accepted methodology.”

MN has been attacked earlier in the same cause, to promote religion over science. We have no special reason to revise its use or other methodology for debunking ID. If anything MN is stronger this time around, since it has weathered earlier attacks.

“This is an anti-scientific position which fails to treat MN as falsifiable or tentative.”

MN is a proven method, not a proven theory. As such it doesn’t need falsifiability and I doubt it has.

I’m hesitant to dig into science method theory, since not much come out of it. If you need a tentative formal meaning, perhaps you should look at it as an axiom. Much as the parallel axiom in math you can choose alternatives, and your choice will affect what you can do. If you don’t accept MN, I think you have chosen to pursue religious explanations.

“I think the problem arises when science is unable to show sufficient detail for the causal steps which makes it harder to determine the nature of the teleology.”

You still haven’t shown that teleology works in science, or is necessary.

To return to my main point, which is that this discussion is too much philosophy, too little science and no ordinary debunking. What I know, ID is professionally debunked and the only new things are Dembski and Behe reformulating old debunked ideas. I would like to see a strong program, perhaps looking for US state support, to promote good science and debunk hurtful pseudoscience. ID would be among the prime targets.

Comment #125445

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 3:32 PM (e)

“After all, MN is hardly a sacred concept and if something better can replace it, all the power to ID…. In other words, one cannot resolve disputes about methodology by rejecting it based on the commonly accepted thodology.”

MN has been attacked earlier in the same cause, to promote religion over science. We have no special reason to revise its use or other methodology for debunking ID. If anything MN is stronger this time around, since it has weathered earlier attacks.

Of course MN has been attacked before but to reject ID’s ‘attack’ on MN as just another attempt to promote religion over science verges on an ad hominem argument. In fact, ID clearly rejects that its claims are necessarily about the supernatural, although they seem somewhat inconsistent when talking to their religious supporters.

ID also does not merely claim that MN is insufficient as it excludes the supernatural, as much as, MN is insufficient because it a-priori excludes design. As such, they argue, ID has a better methodology than MN by extending MN to include design detection.
So, the ID movement, attempts to attack the foundation of science and thus rejecting ID because it fails to match the methodological foundation of science seems rather anti-scientific. After all, in science everything should be tentative, even the methodological foundation. Of course, what replaces MN should be as good or better. And as I and others have argued, it fails to do so. But that is something which has been identified by exploring ID’s claims, observing its ‘research’ and noticing how the ID hypothesis remains scientifically without any content. In fact, there is not even a logical sufficient reason to argue that MN is insufficient to explain or detect design since, as ID argues, MN has succesfully detected design in instances such as archaeology, criminology and SETI for instance.

Comment #125447

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

A warning to posters: Attempts to distract from the argument of the thread will be summarily moved to the bathroom wall. My patience with some of the alpha commenters has run out. Either contribute or post on the more appropriate forums on antievolution.org.

So, no ad hominems, no insults. Focus on the topic at hand or experience the consequences.

Comment #125448

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 3:36 PM (e)

In fact, ID clearly rejects that its claims are necessarily about the supernatural, although they seem somewhat inconsistent when talking to their religious supporters.

This is incomprehensible, Pim.

Comment #125453

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 3:46 PM (e)

Registered user asks for clarifications when I said

In fact, ID clearly rejects that its claims are necessarily about the supernatural, although they seem somewhat inconsistent when talking to their religious supporters.

This is incomprehensible, Pim.

Let me break it down into small fragments

1. Intelligent Design explicitly rejects that their design inference is necessarily about the supernatural. Remember that IDers refuse to identify the designer? The consequence of this is that ID’s claims become vacuous.
2. ID proponents are clear when talking to their religious supporters that ID will provide the tools to reliably detect Intelligent Design, where the Designer is God.

Hope this helps. The designer is not necessarily God. At least, such is the logic of ID. And the logic, while objectionable because it is clear who ID considers the Designer to be, is hardly objectionable from a logical perspective. Design is that which remains when (all) chance and regularity processes have been eliminated. In fact, IDers are also clear (at least Dembski is) that the step from design to agency (the designer) is not self evident. In fact, that step is fraught with complications itself.

So what I am arguing is that we should not reject ID’s claims because it has religious implications or motivations (such a rejection would be ad hominem), but rather because ID’s claims fail to become scientifically fruitful.

Comment #125454

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

A warning to posters: Attempts to distract from the argument of the thread will be summarily moved to the bathroom wall. My patience with some of the alpha commenters has run out. Either contribute or post on the more appropriate forums on antievolution.org.

So, no ad hominems, no insults. Focus on the topic at hand or experience the consequences.

What in heck is the “argument of the thread”? I can see from reading the thread from the beginning that there were several “arguments of the thread” which sort of died out when one party stopped trying to address those arguments directly.

Comment #125455

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 3:50 PM (e)

Registered User: You have been warned… If you continue to make your ad hominem, insulting and off topic postings on this thread, then I will continue to move your comments to the Bathroom wall. Interested users may peruse Registered User’s comments at this link

Comment #125458

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 3:56 PM (e)

Of course as I said above, often we do make an analysis in any case. And auxiliary ideas such as IC aren’t covered by supernatural claims, and need another analysis.

The design inference, Complex Specified Information, Irreducibe Complexity are not necessarily supernatural. In such cases, we conclude based upon further analysis that these claims are erroneous, or vacuous.

I am not sure if any of the above concepts can be rejected as necessarily supernatural. In fact, I am not even sure if supernatural claims can be rejected as unscientific as the example of the effect of prayer shows. A supernatural claim is made about the effects of prayer and science can address and has addressed these claims and shown them to be erroneous. As such, I am not sure that claims which include the supernatural are necessarily unscientific.

Comment #125459

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 3:57 PM (e)

Intelligent Design explicitly rejects that their design inference is necessarily about the supernatural.

There you go again. I thought “intelligent design” had something to do with the set complement of chance or regularity or some garbage like it. Where is the explicit rejection in the theory?

Or are you referring to the Intelligent Design political movement that makes up lies about science and scientists in order to promote a Christian theocracy in the United States?

You’re simply not being clear, Pim. You need to try harder.

There is “ID” the political movement spearheaded by the Discovery Institute and its employees (and wanna-be peddlers like Hannah Maxson), and then there is “ID” the bogus “theory” that is not really a theory (but you sometimes seem to want to pretend that it is not entirely bogus, even when it is).

If you mean to say “ID peddlers” than say “ID peddlers.” If you mean to say the “proposed ‘theory’ of ID” than say “the proposed ‘theory’ of ID.”

This is extremely important in the context of this thread where your claims about what “ID” is have left many of us frustrated and confused.

Comment #125463

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

Registered User wrote:

What in heck is the “argument of the thread”? I can see from reading the thread from the beginning that there were several “arguments of the thread” which sort of died out when one party stopped trying to address those arguments directly.

1. Innate tendency to infer purpose in nature
2. Teleology in nature
3. Is ID non-scientific a-priori or a-posteriori (demarcation problem)
4. Effectiveness of informing University students about the claims of intelligent design, including the seminar by Allen MacNeill
5. Would acknowledging that ID’s claims are scientifically vacuous affect its unconstitutional status

Comment #125464

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 2, 2006 4:09 PM (e)

This is an anti-scientific position which fails to treat MN as falsifiable or tentative.

But MN is, per the “M”, a method. Since when do methods need to be falsifiable? I tend to agree that the vaugue claim, that MN may not be sufficient to tackle all empirical problems, is nothing more than special pleading. As far as I’m concerned, MN is just a corollary of parsimony.
But again, I straddle the fence. I see no reason why we can’t just say, OK, fine, reject parsimony and see how fruitful your method is. Vacuity will be the answer and there you have it.

ID framed this way is anti-scientific, a priori, more in the sense that, with limited time and resources, scientists simply cannot be bothered to abandon a demonstrably fruitful method for an unknown and untested one. There’s a regress in these spurious philosophies of science that should just be cut off from the get-go, if we want to simply do science rather than talk about the demarcation problem until we die.

I see where you’re going with your reasoning, PvM, and I don’t categorically disagree. But what of brute practicality? Where does that fit in?

Comment #125465

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 4:10 PM (e)

Seems people still have stereotypes about what ID is.

Registered User wrote:

Intelligent Design explicitly rejects that their design inference is necessarily about the supernatural.

There you go again. I thought “intelligent design” had something to do with the set complement of chance or regularity or some garbage like it. Where is the explicit rejection in the theory?

The theory indeed says nothing about supernatural although some ID critics have found it more convenient to reject ID because of its religious implications or motivations. Defining design as the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity says nothing about natural versus supernatural. It’s just a definition. ID based, on this definition has set out to explain how to reliably detect design. The step from design to agency (designer) has also been addressed by ID:

As Nichols observed

“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).

Hope this clarifies.

And yes, I understand why you have come to reject ID’s claims as scientifically vacuous. My only disagreement with you seems to be about whether such a finding can be made a-priori or a-posteriori. I am arguing that ID’s claims cannot be rejected as unscientific just because of its religious implications or even its religious motivations. Perhaps you can explain why you believe that ID’s claims should be rejected as unscientific a-priori and we can explore how your claims hold up?

Comment #125466

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 4:18 PM (e)

CJ Obrien wrote:

PvM wrote:

This is an anti-scientific position which fails to treat MN as falsifiable or tentative.

But MN is, per the “M”, a method. Since when do methods need to be falsifiable? I tend to agree that the vaugue claim, that MN may not be sufficient to tackle all empirical problems, is nothing more than special pleading. As far as I’m concerned, MN is just a corollary of parsimony.

What I am trying to argue is that MN need not be sufficient or even correct when it comes to particular circumstances. As you state MN is just a method and it works. ID however claims that MN is insufficient in explaining design. You may call this special pleading, but you cannot reject ID’s claims just because it violates MN since ID is arguing against the foundation of scientific inquiry. That’s what Laudan is trying to avoid. How else would it be possible to replace MN with something better, assuming that something better even exists.

But again, I straddle the fence. I see no reason why we can’t just say, OK, fine, reject parsimony and see how fruitful your method is. Vacuity will be the answer and there you have it.

ID framed this way is anti-scientific, a priori, more in the sense that, with limited time and resources, scientists simply cannot be bothered to abandon a demonstrably fruitful method for an unknown and untested one. There’s a regress in these spurious philosophies of science that should just be cut off from the get-go, if we want to simply do science rather than talk about the demarcation problem until we die.

But one cannot reject a hypotheses a-priori just because it has not been sufficiently tested. Again, history is full of examples where this would have led to the rejection of good hypotheses. If scientists cannot be ‘bothered’ to explore these new concepts, then fine, but that is again no reason to reject ID as a-priori unscientific. It merely indicates that scientists want more information. I’d say that there are quite a few ‘hypotheses’ out there which may match this situation (although perhaps few would claim that MN is insufficient).

I see where you’re going with your reasoning, PvM, and I don’t categorically disagree. But what of brute practicality? Where does that fit in?

Brute practicality is that if ID wants to play, it has to show that its hypotheses contribute to science. So far, the conclusion seems to be that ID is scientifically vacuous. Empirically there seems to be no evidence to support it, there is no ID relevant research program based on the foundations of ID, there is a lack of ID relevant papers.

Comment #125467

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 4:19 PM (e)

Seems people still have stereotypes about what ID is.

Oh, I get it now: only insulting statements by Pim are allowed on the thread.

Keep digging your hole, Pim. Suits you perfectly.

Comment #125468

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 4:24 PM (e)

The theory indeed says nothing about supernatural

So you say Pim.

Of course, since “the theory” is not a “theory” at all, except perhaps in your mind and in the minds of ID peddlers, it is rather difficult to accuse somebody of “stereotyping” the “theory.”

That doesn’t stop ID peddlers like Hannah Maxson from accusing people of engaging in such “stereotyping.” And now we learn that it doesn’t stop Pim either.

So Pim seems to belong to this, er, elite crowd of folks who actually claim to understand what “ID theory” is and what it is not. Most of the other members of that crowd, of course, are employed by the Discovery Institute.

Comment #125469

Posted by Registered User on September 2, 2006 4:29 PM (e)

I am arguing that ID’s claims

My theory is that everything you do and say is exactly according to the wishes of a mysterious alien being.

Unscientific?

Comment #125476

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

Perhaps one should read more than the what Wikipedia has to offer?

AD HOMINEM, PvM. You linked to Wikipedia; I quoted what it said. Your assumption that I’ve never read anything else is unwarranted and wrong.

Comment #125478

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 5:51 PM (e)

there are about 2-3 alpha male types there who dominate everything and set the tone for every thread

AD HOMINEM

Intelligent Design explicitly rejects that their design inference is necessarily about the supernatural.

Intelligent Design is not a “they” and is not capable of “rejecting” anything. Mistakes follow from conflating what is supposedly a theory from what its proponents sometimes say. To avoid this, formulate a statement of the theory. Quite notably, no definition is a theory; it can only provide a term used in a theory. Formulate a statement of the theory you purport to characterize.

While Popper attempts to claim what is not science, he has done little to show that these examples are unambiguously non-science a-priori. I already gave an example of how science can study the effect of prayer on healing. The argument is that God hears our prayers and acts on them. That’s a hypothesis which can be studied by science, and rejected, and yet some may have rejected the hypothesis a-priori because it involves ‘stuff about God’.

No, the hypothesis that prayer can affect healing is a scientific hypothesis, for which relevant evidence can be gathered; the hypothesis that God hears our prayers and acts upon them is not a scientific hypothesis – if you disagree, then argue with the IDists who say that ID does not and cannot address whether God is the designer.

The problem with ID is not that it talks of God; that’s a red herring. The problem is that it doesn’t get into the ballpark of what a scientific theory is, and the unsupported assertion that “ID arguable matches most if not all of these” does nothing to get it there. And that was in response to “a list of additional features that are highly desirable in a scientific theory”, not the main points, which you didn’t address:

(1) the formulation of hypotheses that meet the logical criterion of contingency, defeasibility, or falsifiability and the closely related empirical and practical criterion of testability, (2) a grounding in empirical evidence, and (3) the use of scientific method. The procedures of science typically include a number of heuristic guidelines, such as the principles of conceptual economy or theoretical parsimony that fall under the rubric of Ockham’s razor. A conceptual system that fails to meet a significant number of these criteria is likely to be considered non-scientific.

Most scientists do in fact consider ID to be non-scientific, for these and other reasons. If you want to argue that ID is scientific, the burden is on you to do so. To say that “ID has a major disagreement with some of the foundational assumptions of science” conflates ID, purportedly a theory, with the staff of the DI, human beings. That those people have, or claim to have, a major disagreement with some of the foundational assumptions of science is irrelevant, as irrelevant as whether you call a dog’s tail a leg is to how many legs it has. Of course there are possible universes in which there are populations employing a language in which “leg” refers to long appendages generally and includes what we call a tail, but the word is not the thing it refers to. What is relevant is what is meant by the term “scientific”, regardless of how fuzzy it is, not how some people wish to redefine the term.

Comment #125480

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 5:55 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Perhaps one should read more than the what Wikipedia has to offer?

AD HOMINEM, PvM. You linked to Wikipedia; I quoted what it said. Your assumption that I’ve never read anything else is unwarranted and wrong.

A mere observation Popper. Just because I link to Wikipedia does not mean that I agree with all it says. It’s often a useful starting point. That you quoted from Wikipedia to make you ‘assertions’ is your own decision. In fact, you have done little to show that these requirements pose a significant problem for ID. You merely asserted such.
So let’s stop playing these silly games and support one’s arguments or assertions, or stop making them.
If you had read more than Wikipedia then you would realize the status of the demarcation argument. So far you have done little to show that you understand the argument or that you are familiar with the arguments. It’s pure observations Popper. If that is what you consider to be ad hominem then perhaps you do not fully appreciate its meaning. Ad hominem has nothing to do with quoting Wikipedia and me pointing out that there is much more to demarcation arguments than presented on Wikipedia.
Funny though that you accuse me of not understanding ad hominems :-)
Now back to the topic. Can you support your claims/suggestion/argument (or whatever you want to claim it to be) that ID would fail the Wikipedia list?

Comment #125484

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

there are about 2-3 alpha male types there who dominate everything and set the tone for every thread

AD HOMINEM

Nope, observation by someone on AntiEvolution.org. I am sure you understand the difference?

Popper wrote:

PvM wrote:

Intelligent Design explicitly rejects that their design inference is necessarily about the supernatural.

Intelligent Design is not a “they” and is not capable of “rejecting” anything.

Nice way to avoid dealing with the facts.

Popper wrote:

Mistakes follow from conflating what is supposedly a theory from what its proponents sometimes say. To avoid this, formulate a statement of the theory. Quite notably, no definition is a theory; it can only provide a term used in a theory. Formulate a statement of the theory you purport to characterize.

Let’s first address the claim I made: Intelligent Design proponents explicitly have claimed that the designer is not necessarily supernatural. In fact, the design inference nor the definition of design require the designer to be supernatural. True or false?

popper wrote:

PvM wrote:

While Popper attempts to claim what is not science, he has done little to show that these examples are unambiguously non-science a-priori. I already gave an example of how science can study the effect of prayer on healing. The argument is that God hears our prayers and acts on them. That’s a hypothesis which can be studied by science, and rejected, and yet some may have rejected the hypothesis a-priori because it involves ‘stuff about God’.

No, the hypothesis that prayer can affect healing is a scientific hypothesis, for which relevant evidence can be gathered; the hypothesis that God hears our prayers and acts upon them is not a scientific hypothesis – if you disagree, then argue with the IDists who say that ID does not and cannot address whether God is the designer.

You are conflating various concepts. The hypothesis that God hears our prayers and acts upon them is a scientific hypothesis, in fact it is a scientific hypothesis which can be and has been tested. Of course, it requires one to determine how God acts upon prayer and presumes that prayers are being answered. Please explain why this is not a scientific hypothesis? Use Wikipedia’s definition of science as well as show an incorporation of the present status of the demarcation arguments as proposed by philosophers of science.

Popper wrote:

The problem with ID is not that it talks of God; that’s a red herring. The problem is that it doesn’t get into the ballpark of what a scientific theory is, and the unsupported assertion that “ID arguable matches most if not all of these” does nothing to get it there. And that was in response to “a list of additional features that are highly desirable in a scientific theory”, not the main points, which you didn’t address:

Let’s first address your claim that ID does not get into the ballpark of what a scientific theory is. So what is a scientific theory? How does one determine what a scientific theory is? Is such a theory recognizable a-priori or only a-posteriori as being scientifically relevant?

Popper wrote:

(1) the formulation of hypotheses that meet the logical criterion of contingency, defeasibility, or falsifiability and the closely related empirical and practical criterion of testability, (2) a grounding in empirical evidence, and (3) the use of scientific method.

Are you arguing that ID does not meet these criteria? Please explain how you reached this conclusion.
Furthermore, a grounding in empirical evidence is not determine a priori, further undermining your argument that ID can be recognized a-priori of being unscientific. The use of the scientific method is a self defeating concept which basically prohibits anything from asserting that the scientific method (by which I presume you mean methodological naturalism) is sacred. In fact, the scientific method is just a method and if ID believes that a better method exists, and that is indeed what they claim, then one cannot logically use the argument that ID does not meet the scientific method as an argument against ID. At least, not a-priori.

Popper wrote:

The procedures of science typically include a number of heuristic guidelines, such as the principles of conceptual economy or theoretical parsimony that fall under the rubric of Ockham’s razor. A conceptual system that fails to meet a significant number of these criteria is likely to be considered non-scientific.

Show that ID does not meet these procedures of science, a priori.

Popper wrote:

Most scientists do in fact consider ID to be non-scientific, for these and other reasons. If you want to argue that ID is scientific, the burden is on you to do so.

If you want to argue that ID can be shown to be nonscientific apriori then the burden is on you to do so. Yes, I understand that the burden of my thesis is on me which is why I invited you to comment on this topic. Arguing that ‘most scientists consider ID to be non-scientific’ does nothing to counter my statement. In fact, I also have found ID to be lacking scientifically, but a-posteriori. Let’s not forget what the argument really is before one ends up chasing a strawman. Why do scientists consider ID to be non-scientific? How have you determined that ‘most scientists’ fall into a category relevant to your argument?
If you want to make appeal to data, it would be helpful for you to show that indeed this is the case.

Popper wrote:

To say that “ID has a major disagreement with some of the foundational assumptions of science” conflates ID, purportedly a theory, with the staff of the DI, human beings. That those people have, or claim to have, a major disagreement with some of the foundational assumptions of science is irrelevant, as irrelevant as whether you call a dog’s tail a leg is to how many legs it has. Of course there are possible universes in which there are populations employing a language in which “leg” refers to long appendages generally and includes what we call a tail, but the word is not the thing it refers to. What is relevant is what is meant by the term “scientific”, regardless of how fuzzy it is, not how some people wish to redefine the term.

Funny, that is exactly what you seem to be doing, redefining science to exclude ID a-priori. And yet, ID’s argument is logical and should not be dismissed as unscientific just because it attacks the foundations of science (methodological naturalism) unless one wants science to be dogmatic and not tentative. And the tentative nature of science includes its methodologies.

So far, I have seen little evidence that supports your claim that ID can be easily shown to be unscientific a-priori. In fact, various of your positions require ID to be shown a-posteriori to be unscientific, others presume that the scientific method is somehow sacred and not tentative. In fact, arguing that ID cannot be scientific a-priori because it fails the scientific method, is an illogical argument since ID clearly argues that the scientific method is not sufficient. So either one addresses their arguments and show that ID fails to live up to its claims, or one rejects ID dogmatically as unscientific because, it does not meet certain, arbitrary though pragmatic, guidelines we call the ‘scientific method’.

As I said before, history is full of examples that undermine such a position. Whether a particular argument is non-scientific or whether a particular claim against the scientific method fails can not be determined based on a list of simplistic rules. So much history has shown us that such a position tends to be unnecessarily dogmatic.

So once again, I urge you to show that 1) showing that ID is non-scientific a-priori is easy and you outline the exact steps by which you believe this can be achieved (quoting a list from Wikipedia is not sufficient, I am sure we agree) and/or 2) you show that the scientific method is unassailable or if you agree with me that the scientific method is in principle assailable you explain why ID’s position should still be rejected as unscientific a-priori.

I also appreciate that you may be reluctant to support these claims because, after all, it’s my claim that ID cannot be ruled unscientific a-priori but then I am wondering why you made the claim that this could be easily shown to be wrong.

So let me ask the participants another question: is the hypothesis that design is not reducible to natural processes of chance and regularity a-priori unscientific?

Comment #125485

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 2, 2006 6:24 PM (e)

Hey, no fair. Mods get to go and fix their XML screw-ups, but the rest of us have to leave up those error messages under our names! =>

ID is arguing against the foundation of scientific inquiry

And I can’t, from this alone, determine a priori that ID is anti-scientific?

And I’ve intentionally shifted to “anti-“ rather than “un-“ as I did in my question regarding practicality. Science is an activity, and it is the active goal of ID proponents to hinder said activity and argue against its very foundations. As you yourself state. But then you go on to say that it can’t be shown to be un- (or anti-) scientific a priori without running into the demarcation question?

Again, I just think there’s a regress there. I quote from Dr. MacNeill, way back when, near the beginning of the comments:

Therefore, unless someone undertakes a program of research tha proposes a series of testable positive hypotheses based on ID theory that can be empirically validated, it appears likely that ID theory will eventually come to the same fate as Bergson and Deleuze’s concept of élan vital; a footnote to the progress of empirical science, of interest only to those interested in failed pseudoscientific “theories.”

How high does our confidence in that “likely” have to be before we can conclude ID is worthless?

Comment #125486

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 6:28 PM (e)

Hey, no fair. Mods get to go and fix their XML screw-ups, but the rest of us have to leave up those error messages under our names! =>

I normall try to fix any such error messages as I understand the frustration of entering a good argument and then have it be reduced to an XML error message.

Comment #125488

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 6:29 PM (e)

I am arguing that ID’s claims

My theory is that everything you do and say is exactly according to the wishes of a mysterious alien being.

Unscientific?

Not necessarily. I assume you mean hypothesis though.

Comment #125491

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 6:43 PM (e)

“The notion of design that emerges from the design inference must not be confused with intelligent agency”

Hope this clarifies.

Clarification is not achieved by ignoring what has already been written. In his opening paragraph, Wesley Ellsbury writes “William A Dembski announced the existence of rigorous and reliable means of detecting the action of an intelligent agent”. Dembski argues that his notion of “design” implies agency: “Dembski believes that finding design does imply agency”, “Dembski believes that not only design but also agency is found by his argument”, etc. But, Ellsbury notes both that the inference doesn’t follow and that Dembski does confuse his notion of “design” with agency:

There is a difficulty in discussing these concepts in that the meanings of the terms regularity, chance, and design can become confused with newer meanings which arise from the argument of The Design Inference. It is important to keep the casual meanings separate. Unfortunately, it is not clear that even Dembski manages to keep track of what the terms really mean. For example, even though Dembski clearly explains that design does not imply agency, Dembski offers as the 3 possible categories of explanation in his first example “Regularity”, “Chance”, and “Agency” (p 11).

Arguably, if Dembski’s notion of “design” implies agency, then one is warranted to insert “agency” wherever Dembski’s term “design” is used … and he does so. This intermixing of “design” with “agency” is not mere confusion, it is Dembski’s explicit objective (in terms of his argument, not in a political sense; I’m not speaking pejoratively).

However, at best we can say that Dembski defines “design*” as a characteristic of those events that are not characterized by “chance*” or “regularity*” – but (aside from the fact that this way of characterizing events is non-Bayesian, it’s metaphysical, as Glen Davidson puts it) there’s little or no relationship between Dembski’s terms and the unstarred words(even less than the relationship between “leg*” and “leg”, where “leg*” refers to both legs and tails). Yet, Dembski’s inductive inference to intelligent agency is based, not on “design*”, but on “design” in its common sense; when Dembski refers to objects known to be designed by intelligent agents, he is talking about “design” in its normal sense, not “design*” in his idiocratic sense. And yet he claims that “design*” implies agency. The confusion, intentionally or not, is of Dembski’s own making.

Comment #125498

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 7:10 PM (e)

And I can’t, from this alone, determine a priori that ID is anti-scientific?

I noted that it’s necessary to separate ID as a theory from the proponents of ID – ID as a theory cannot be “anti-scientific” – but rather than having that addressed I was told I was “avoiding the facts”; odd. But it is clear that, if the proponents of ID are arguing against methodological naturalism as a foundation of science, they are redefining science – that was the whole point of Kansas. One might try to argue that the redefinition is warranted, but simply denying the redefinition is a different sort of thing. When these sorts of disputes arise in philosophy, they are solved by splitting terms so as to be clear as to what is being referred to. So, for instance, one might claim that ID is scientific-NMN, but not scientific-MN, where the latter refers to familiar science with its foundation of methodological naturalism, whereas the former term refers to something else. It might be an interesting exercise (if one had nothing better to do) to go back through this entire thread and see when “scientific” was being used in the “scientific-MN” sense and when it was not.

Comment #125503

Posted by Henry J on September 2, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

How can a rejection be a-priori when the people involved are already thoroughly familiar with the thing they’re rejecting? I don’t get that.

Re “Defining design as the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity says nothing about natural versus supernatural. It’s just a definition.”

If that’s a definition at all it’s a very poorly worded one. Send it back to the drawing board.

Henry

Comment #125504

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

certain, arbitrary though pragmatic

What is pragmatic is not “arbitrary”; the scientific-MN method produces results, and that’s why scientists-MN employ it, and why we teach science-MN in science-MN classes in an attempt to produce a scientifically-MN literate populace. If and when someone demonstrates that science-NMN is more effective than science-MN, then the boundaries of science will be shifted so as to include science-NMN. Of course, in order to demonstrate that they will have to employ empirical evidence – pragmatism is inherently empirical – so such a shift will never happen other than as a result of politics, leading to a less effective practice of “science”.

Comment #125507

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 2, 2006 7:35 PM (e)

ID Hypothesis wrote:

design is not reducible to natural processes of chance and regularity

And here’s the Wiki, which we seem to be taking as reasonably authoritative, if not complete, yes?

(1) the formulation of hypotheses that meet the logical criterion of contingency, defeasibility, or falsifiability and the closely related empirical and practical criterion of testability

Since testability is a “practical criterion” I assume you consign it to posteriori rejection, but I don’t think it neccessarily should be. A scientific hypothesis should strongly imply the methods that will be employed to test it, don’t you think? The above seems formulated to chase from the mind any notion of observation or experiment.

(2) a grounding in empirical evidence,

Again, I don’t think, as you seem to, that this determination is wholly in the realm of a posteriori elimination. Partly, this means “Is there a new or otherwise unexplained observation that calls for my hypothesis? Is there a domain of well-understood empirical evidence within the context of which my results will be conclusive?”
These are a priori considerations, and ID fails them. I verge on begging the question, but I’m pretty sure my toes are behind the line. When you are not working within a framework in which good ideas for experiments or further observational programs present themselves, your hypothesis is unscientific, UNLESS, in a Kuhnian sense, the hypothesis is somehow part of the “new paradigm.”
In which case, you have to have a broad range of unexplained phenomena. And, here, I think, is where one can legitimately bring the religious motivations of ID into the picture. What they have are phenomena that are not explained to their satisfaction, based on a commitment to an alternative account of greater or lesser specificity. So what if their Designer is God or an alien or whatever. The real point is, they’ve failed to make a compelling argument, based in empirical evidence, that there are phenomena in need of explanation that are intractable for the current method.

The rest of the Wiki is all method and parsimony, and since we’re granting that ID explicitly rejects these, the points on which ID remains a priori defensible as any kind of honest empirical inquiri are growing rather thin.

Comment #125509

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 7:44 PM (e)

How can a rejection be a-priori when the people involved are already thoroughly familiar with the thing they’re rejecting? I don’t get that.

Homeopathy should not be rejected a priori just because, say, some of its practitioners are proven hucksters; it can, however, be rejected a posteriori by being shown not to work. OTOH, playing the fiddle can be rejected a priori as science because it offers no empirical predictions and clearly isn’t the sort of thing that could. ID also does not offer any empirical predictions and isn’t the sort of thing that could, despite superficially resembling something that could.

If that’s a definition at all it’s a very poorly worded one.

I made that argument at length earlier in the thread. However, I also offered a better definition just above:

““design*” [is] a characteristic of those events that are not characterized by “chance*” or “regularity*” “

The definitions of the terms “chance*” and “regularity*” are given by Dembski; they do not resemble familiar definitions of “chance” and “regularity”. However, this definition is still extremely problematic, because it doesn’t specify what it means to characterize events in this way; the probability of an event occurring is Bayesian, dependent on the state of knowledge prior to the event; there is no coherent way to define probability such that events have inherent probability, and so “design*” – even in Dembski’s very idiocratic sense – cannot be a fact, only an attribution. Aside from it not capturing what people actually mean by the word “design”.

Comment #125512

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 7:58 PM (e)

design is not reducible to natural processes of chance and regularity

Notably, chance and regularity, whether referring to the normal meanings of these terms or Dembski’s wildly different meanings are not “natural processes”. But even more notably, “design is not reducible to chance and regularity”, using the terms in Dembski’s senses, is a given – it’s a definition. If this is the ID hypothesis, then it is logically vacuous.

A scientific hypothesis should strongly imply the methods that will be employed to test it, don’t you think?

Strong implication is not required, but we should be able to conceive of ways to test it. How might we test, say, the “hypothesis” that all batchelors are unmarried? We could come up with representative samples of men and determine that all the batchelors among them are unmarried. Or we could look in the dictionary. But the flip side of this is the need to be able to falsify the hypothesis, which is why both of those terms were in the phrase you quoted. And I, for one, am at a loss as to how to falsify a definition.

Comment #125542

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 10:09 PM (e)

One of the problems in this discussion is that the word “tentative” is being used to refer to what is in fact a form of radical linguistic skepticism. “A bowling ball is heavier than a feather” can be challenged if the meaning of “heavier” is tentative – but it isn’t tentative in any sense that undermines the truth of the statement. Likewise, while the appropriateness of restricting science to methodological naturalism might be challenged by some, there’s nothing “tentative” about the fact that science is so restricted; that restriction is the very basis of their complaint. If one were to challenge the foundations of science by claiming that the methods of science should include consulting those “8 ball” toys, that would not mean that saying that such consultations are not science would be “redefining” science in violation of its “tentative” nature; such consultations simply are not science, and no appeal to radically skeptical philosophers will change that; for any claim, you can always find some philosopher who will deny it. Such radically skeptical philosophers could object that I am simply making assertions, but in the end every argument is a sequence of assertions; its cogency rests upon a shared understanding of the words and logical structures used and upon a common understanding of empirical facts, resulting from being similar experiencers embedded in a common physical environment.

Comment #125545

Posted by Popper's ghost on September 2, 2006 10:28 PM (e)

Here is a very interesting and highly relevant posting from a more recent thread. If science is infinitely tentative, then is theistic realism a priori scientific? Was Socialist Realism a priori scientific? Was Pravda’s “Muddle Instead of Music” a priori scientific? Just how “priori” do we have to go? Are all statements a priori scientific because we musn’t assume that they aren’t scientific before they are even made? These questions may seem a bit flippant, but the cited article certainly isn’t.


Applied to science we run into a wholesale redefinition that opens Pandora’s Box. If we accept the objective reality of God into the epistemology of science, we extend a bridge to studies currently classified as pseudoscience. The supernatural or preternatural, though still non-testable, may be incorporated into the explanation of phenomena. Science’s inherent demand that experimental research be subject to replication flies out the window because experimentation must necessarily allow for the validity of both revelation and inerrant arguments from authority.

Under the current operating definition of science and at least two centuries of its practice, revelation is strictly forbidden because its factuality is inherently unverifiable by any reasonably quantifiable standard. What could revelations hope to objectively prove to us anyway? What sort of revelations would count as scientifically valid? Presumably those espoused by “scientists” who believe a priori that God is objectively real. We might wonder, though, if Pat Robertson’s proclamations on the causes of natural disasters might enable the Christian Coalition to receive National Science Foundation research funding to determine if recent hurricanes were actually caused by God�s anger with America’s decadent life.

That sounds like a yellow brick road to bizarro world; a road to medievalism with only the most rudimentary understanding of nature; a path to beliefs that Jews need fresh blood to cure their sexual dysfunction; a fall into the oubliette of ignorance.
Science cannot and must not recognize a simple argument from authority. Physicists today gleefully look at Einstein�s incorrect objections to quantum physics. “God does not throw dice,” he said. Einstein held more political capital than 99.9% scientists but his objections proved irrelevant. The data panned out. Naturalistic methodology carried the day and quantum theory outshines nearly all discoveries of the twentieth century.

Theistic naturalism has no place in science and certainly no place in government. In art, inspiration through revelation is entirely appropriate. I would be unsurprised if J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Anton Bruckner and Olivier Messiaen would have identified themselves as theistic naturalists. All of them were deeply devout men who testified to their belief in God through their music. Messiaen most notably heard the wonder of divinity in the calls of birds that he mimicked in the bulk of his works. But these four are exceptions. What would become of the rest of art under the prescription of theistic realism? Censored. Proscribed. Straitjacketed.

Poorly premised philosophy yields even poorer policies. Let’s not even allow Johnson and his theocratic cabal to get close. The Soviet Union, the atheistic institution that it was, teaches us a good lesson about so-called “realisms” they place critical and creative people in manacles.

Comment #125546

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

And I’ve intentionally shifted to “anti-“ rather than “un-“ as I did in my question regarding practicality. Science is an activity, and it is the active goal of ID proponents to hinder said activity and argue against its very foundations. As you yourself state. But then you go on to say that it can’t be shown to be un- (or anti-) scientific a priori without running into the demarcation question?

To state that it is an active goal to hinder the activity of science seems unnecessarily ad hominem. In other words, it fails to address if ID itself is scientific or not. And don’t get me wrong, I do believe that a lot of ID has the effect of hindering the activity of science

Again, I just think there’s a regress there. I quote from Dr. MacNeill, way back when, near the beginning of the comments:

Therefore, unless someone undertakes a program of research tha proposes a series of testable positive hypotheses based on ID theory that can be empirically validated, it appears likely that ID theory will eventually come to the same fate as Bergson and Deleuze’s concept of élan vital; a footnote to the progress of empirical science, of interest only to those interested in failed pseudoscientific “theories.”

How high does our confidence in that “likely” have to be before we can conclude ID is worthless?

We can conclude right now that ID is vacuous, it’s up to ID to explain why things will change and show how things do shape up. So far ID has failed to make ID scientifically relevant and until ID is willing to constrain its designer(s) I doubt that ID will become scientifically relevant any time soon.

Comment #125553

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 10:52 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Clarification is not achieved by ignoring what has already been written. In his opening paragraph, Wesley Ellsbury writes “William A Dembski announced the existence of rigorous and reliable means of detecting the action of an intelligent agent”. Dembski argues that his notion of “design” implies agency: “Dembski believes that finding design does imply agency”, “Dembski believes that not only design but also agency is found by his argument”, etc. But, Ellsbury notes both that the inference doesn’t follow and that Dembski does confuse his notion of “design” with agency:

A posteriori. Yes, I am quite aware of Dembski’s arguments as well as Wesley Elsberry (check your spelling). In fact, Dembski does strongly argue that design does not imply agency so it may be necessary to look at Dembski’s arguments in more context. However, design without being able to identify the designer is still not necessarily unscientific.

So let’s put Wesley’s statement “Dembski believes that finding design does imply agency” in full context

Wesley wrote:

One may wonder what TDI was supposed to accomplish, if design no longer means what Paley meant by it and the attribution of agency no longer follows from finding design. But Dembski believes that finding design does imply agency, even though he has identified that implication as being unnecessary. In his view, because we can often find that design is found where an intelligent agent has acted, we can reliably infer that when we find design, we have also found evidence of the action of an intelligent agent.

The discussion is about agency not about design per se. In fact, as Wesley has pointed out the step from design to agency is one of induction and thus fraught with the problems of induction.

Wesley continues

Dembski believes that not only design but also agency is found by his argument. This is the message being spread by various and sundry of the “intelligent design” proponents and by Dembski himself in other writings. But is it a secure inference? In his First Things article, and to a lesser extent in his section 2.3 of TDI, Dembski takes biologists to task for avoiding the conclusion of design for biological phenomena. Dembski says that to avoid a design conclusion, biologists uniformly reject one or more of the premises of his argument. But Dembski does not exclude natural selection as a possible cause for events which can be classified as being due to design.

In other words, design can still include natural processes. That’s a problem for design but that does not make design necessarily unscientific, just less interesting as ID proponents hoped it would be.

Popper wrote:

However, at best we can say that Dembski defines “design*” as a characteristic of those events that are not characterized by “chance*” or “regularity*” – but (aside from the fact that this way of characterizing events is non-Bayesian, it’s metaphysical, as Glen Davidson puts it) there’s little or no relationship between Dembski’s terms and the unstarred words(even less than the relationship between “leg*” and “leg”, where “leg*” refers to both legs and tails).

Even if it were metaphysical, and even if the term design is used in a confusing manner, this does not make Dembski’s arguments unscientific. Confusing perhaps but the design inference, based on the concept of design is hard to reject as unscientific a-priori. One may argue that agency is a weak spot of the design inference and indeed, that one was early on pointed out by Wesley in his review of Dembski’s work. None of this however was established a-priori but rather by looking at the claims of ID. Remember that the argument is “can ID be rejected as unscientific a-priori”.

Popper wrote:

Yet, Dembski’s inductive inference to intelligent agency is based, not on “design*”, but on “design” in its common sense; when Dembski refers to objects known to be designed by intelligent agents, he is talking about “design” in its normal sense, not “design*” in his idiocratic sense. And yet he claims that “design*” implies agency. The confusion, intentionally or not, is of Dembski’s own making.

Yes, and one of the reasons ID fails to be scientifically vacuous but again, that by itself is not established a-priori.

Popper wrote:

But it is clear that, if the proponents of ID are arguing against methodological naturalism as a foundation of science, they are redefining science – that was the whole point of Kansas.

Now you are conflating the actions of the Kansas board and the DI with the scientific claims of ID. Yes, ID clearly wants to redefine MN because they are arguing that MN is insufficient. Such claims can not be rejected by science just because they fail to conform to MN. Or science and its methodology becomes dogmatic.

One might try to argue that the redefinition is warranted, but simply denying the redefinition is a different sort of thing. When these sorts of disputes arise in philosophy, they are solved by splitting terms so as to be clear as to what is being referred to. So, for instance, one might claim that ID is scientific-NMN, but not scientific-MN, where the latter refers to familiar science with its foundation of methodological naturalism, whereas the former term refers to something else. It might be an interesting exercise (if one had nothing better to do) to go back through this entire thread and see when “scientific” was being used in the “scientific-MN” sense and when it was not.

Whether or not something is scientific should not be determined by the underlying scientific method. That’s the whole point. If ID had shown that MN is insufficient to deal with design and that there exists a category which is not captured by the scientific method then ID would have made a significant contribution to science. To speak of scientific-MN or scientific-NMN is just illogical, at least a-priori. Remember that this is meant to be an iterative/co-evolutionary process in which philosophy of science and science adapt, if necessary. Otherwise, nothing would be able to assail the status of MN as the tools of science.

Henry wrote:

How can a rejection be a-priori when the people involved are already thoroughly familiar with the thing they’re rejecting? I don’t get that.

Good point. However the argument is if one were to be able to reject ID as unscientific based on some ‘rules’ rather than based upon examining its claims.

Henry wrote:

Re “Defining design as the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity says nothing about natural versus supernatural. It’s just a definition.”

If that’s a definition at all it’s a very poorly worded one. Send it back to the drawing board.

Please explain what is so poorly worded about it?

certain, arbitrary though pragmatic

What is pragmatic is not “arbitrary”; the scientific-MN method produces results, and that’s why scientists-MN employ it, and why we teach science-MN in science-MN classes in an attempt to produce a scientifically-MN literate populace. If and when someone demonstrates that science-NMN is more effective than science-MN, then the boundaries of science will be shifted so as to include science-NMN. Of course, in order to demonstrate that they will have to employ empirical evidence – pragmatism is inherently empirical – so such a shift will never happen other than as a result of politics, leading to a less effective practice of “science”.

You seem to become more an more a proponent of my argument. In order for someone to be able to argue that non MN is better, it should not be rejected a-priori as unscientific, just because science has adopted MN as its tools. Are you still sure that your claim that showing that ID is unscientific a-priori is something you want to continue to defend?

Comment #125558

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 11:17 PM (e)

Since testability is a “practical criterion” I assume you consign it to posteriori rejection, but I don’t think it neccessarily should be. A scientific hypothesis should strongly imply the methods that will be employed to test it, don’t you think? The above seems formulated to chase from the mind any notion of observation or experiment.

In fact, there are at least two in depth books which try to provide the methods to achieve this when it comes to ID. While testability, and falsifiability may seem to be relevant arguments, they may be too weak in detecting science from non-science as many hypotheses may be reformulated to become in some form falsifiable or even too strong, for instance in the case of string theory. Nevertheless, it seems that Dembski has been less than clear on these concepts as Wesley Elsberry explained.

Popper wrote:

Notably, chance and regularity, whether referring to the normal meanings of these terms or Dembski’s wildly different meanings are not “natural processes”. But even more notably, “design is not reducible to chance and regularity”, using the terms in Dembski’s senses, is a given – it’s a definition. If this is the ID hypothesis, then it is logically vacuous.

Actually the hypothesis is quite logical and consistent and has been used to develop the design inference which forms the foundation of the various ID relevant concepts.
Popper suggests that Dembski uses chance and regilarity in ‘wildly different meanings’, I suggest that he provides some supporting references as I would be very interested to hear more about this. I am not sure why Popper claims that chance and regularity are not ‘natural processes’ either. Perhaps because of his namesake, Popper may be placing too much relevance on the concept of falsification. Remember, we are trying to determine if the ID hypothesis is a-priori non-scientific. Something Popper argued was easy to show.

Popper’s quote on theistic science seems of little relevance here when to determine if a hypothesis is scientific or not a-priori. Of course, that does not prevent some from making arguments that such can be achieved but that seems hardly self evident and we should not confuse a mere claim that one can easy show ID to be unscientific a-priori and the actually hard work needed to actually support this, despite the suggested ‘easiness’.

As far as tentative, Popper has failed to address why MN should not be held tentatively, just like anything else in science. Tentative seems to be a guiding principle of science. If this is the case, and I argue that it is, then also its methods should be held tentatively and if someone comes around to make a claim that MN is insufficient then we should not reject these claims a-priori as unscientific, just because of MN’s treasured status, but rather grant the person making the claim to present their arguments.

Berkeley’s evolution site has a good overview of science and its tentative nature

Conclusions of science are reliable, though tentative.
Science is always a work in progress, and its conclusions are always tentative. But just as the word “theory” means something special to the scientist, so too does the word “tentative.” Science’s conclusions are not tentative in the sense that they are temporary until the real answer comes along. Scientific conclusions are well founded in their factual content and thinking and are tentative only in the sense that all ideas are open to scrutiny. In science, the tentativeness of ideas such as the nature of atoms, cells, stars or the history of the Earth refers to the willingness of scientists to modify their ideas as new evidence appears.

In fact, if I remember correctly Popper even quoted Wikipedia which mentioned as characteristic of science the “Provisional or tentative. Does not assert the absolute certainty of the theory.”

Comment #125559

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2006 11:22 PM (e)

Popper wrote:

Here is a very interesting and highly relevant posting from a more recent thread. If science is infinitely tentative, then is theistic realism a priori scientific? Was Socialist Realism a priori scientific? Was Pravda’s “Muddle Instead of Music” a priori scientific? Just how “priori” do we have to go? Are all statements a priori scientific because we musn’t assume that they aren’t scientific before they are even made? These questions may seem a bit flippant, but the cited article certainly isn’t.

Note the strawman of ‘infinitely tentative’. The question is simple: how to reject something as unscientific a-priori based on some ‘rules’. As I have argued and shown, such rules seem to lead to false positives and negatives and thus the idea that there exist clear demarcation rules of what is science and what is not in an a-priori fashion seems hard to support. Rethorical questions aside, Popper has done little to actually address this even though he suggested that showing that ID was unscientific a-priori was easy. In fact, little in Popper’s quote seems to address the issue of a-priori rejecting something as non-scientific.

Comment #125567

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 3, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

“I would like to see a strong program, perhaps looking for US state support, to promote good science and debunk hurtful pseudoscience.”

Ooops! I made a political suggestion. Perhaps I should take the opportunity to learn to analyse such peculiar things. It seems what most people do, and it must be better than merely propose them.

Okay, first, what is it and is there a motivation? As it stand it is an adhoc with social constraints, specifically it is like other such suggestions. I have some vague ideas on politics and economics, but none lead all the way here.

Hmm, next, how can I test it? Inspired by all the philosophy espoused here, I can simplest make an abstract philosophical argument by analogy.

So, is the suggestion “necessary”? Yes, in the sense that it correlates to what other pseudosciences is subjected to.

And is it “sufficient”? No, for example parapsychology is researched professionally.

What is the situation here? It is a program that as ID has nonscience motivations (here related mysticism), if presented today probably apriori refused (I think entropy and gravity shows that there aren’t much room for new levels and interactions, but there is possibly still a gap), and considered pseudoscience if used in the community.

The difference is that it has been forced to accept normal science rules, it tries to make positive results and falsifiable predictions, and it doesn’t propose to “teach the controversy” with physics of today until it has positive evidence. By separating out the researchable parts, the fringe science lives in a detente with normal science and society, and is only harmful in as much it waste grants.

Hmm, why can’t we treat creationism the same, if parapsychology could be made nearly harmless? If teleology is a somewhat familiar biological idea, some should look into it, as defineable projects or seats at universities. It should force IDists to start making testable assumptions on creators (like evolution should be assuming teleology works), and at the same time make it easier to pinpoint the pseudoscience outside research.

Comment #125569

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 3, 2006 12:52 AM (e)

What counts as science has changed so much over the years, it would take a very brave or a very naive individual to claim that we’ve nailed down the demarcation line once and for all. The ID folks, however, aren’t any more original in their methodological than in their substantive ideas. If somebody really has a better way of doing science, they ought to make us an offer instead of attempting to resurect the same tired appeals to authority and intuition that were rejected long ago for very good reasons.

Comment #125571

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:03 AM (e)

Jim wrote:

What counts as science has changed so much over the years, it would take a very brave or a very naive individual to claim that we’ve nailed down the demarcation line once and for all. The ID folks, however, aren’t any more original in their methodological than in their substantive ideas. If somebody really has a better way of doing science, they ought to make us an offer instead of attempting to resurect the same tired appeals to authority and intuition that were rejected long ago for very good reasons.

I mostly agree with your statements here. I am also not very impressed by the way ID is doing ‘science’ and their approaches. However, rather than arguing demarcation issues, why not avoid dealing with this philosophical problem and focus on why ID has failed to be a relevant science. Or as Laudan stated according to Leiter

If so, he might have also noted that Beckwith quotes Laudan [at 25] noting that ID “is inconsistent with methodological naturalism and ontological materialism…[b]ut that fact has no bearing whatsoever on the plausbility of the arguments for ID.” Why does Laudan say that? Because methodological naturalism is an a posteriori doctrine, which means if ID generated any empirical results incompatible with it—it has not, of course—then so much the worse for MN. The problem is purely a posteriori: ID has no research program and no empirical support, so it presents no challenge at all to the reliance on naturalistical explanatory mechanisms. Laudan thinks talk of “pseudo-science” is misleading in the absence of a solution to the demarcation problem; Laudan has no reservations about talk about “good” and “bad” science as measured by their results and the evidence on behalf of their claims.

Source

Comment #125572

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 3, 2006 1:13 AM (e)

PvM:

“Of course MN has been attacked before but to reject ID’s ‘attack’ on MN as just another attempt to promote religion over science verges on an ad hominem argument.”

I believe there has been PT posts that has shown that rejecting MN is equivalent to argue for supernatural, dualistic and religious explanations. Anyway, it seems like the natural consequence.

And as I probably have already said I believe sceptics clearly point out the religious, mythical, political and commercial aspects when they are in the process of debunking. It seems to me as due process.

“In fact, ID clearly rejects that its claims are necessarily about the supernatural, although they seem somewhat inconsistent when talking to their religious supporters.”

They can reject that, but it is the usual analysis that will show how it is, not their idea of an analysis.

“ID also does not merely claim that MN is insufficient as it excludes the supernatural, as much as, MN is insufficient because it a-priori excludes design.”

Again, the analysis will judge, and a design implies a creator. Ergo creationism, ergo religion. (Evolution doesn’t need to discuss design, so it has no creator.)

“After all, in science everything should be tentative, even the methodological foundation. Of course, what replaces MN should be as good or better. And as I and others have argued, it fails to do so.”

MN is the best we have, it has served us well, and it shouldn’t be tested by special plea by those ideas are going to be tested. First rule of testing: Adapt your tests, invent new ones if necessary, but never, ever change the protocol because someone else than the test results want you to.

Really, I have no idea why you want to change the rules now. As I said, they become stronger with use, not weaker. To change the rules, preferably a neutral subject should be tested. And I don’t think such a thing exists for MN. It is necessary.

Comment #125573

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 3, 2006 1:17 AM (e)

PvM:

“The design inference, Complex Specified Information, Irreducibe Complexity are not necessarily supernatural. In such cases, we conclude based upon further analysis that these claims are erroneous, or vacuous.”

As I said.

Comment #125577

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:28 AM (e)

“ID also does not merely claim that MN is insufficient as it excludes the supernatural, as much as, MN is insufficient because it a-priori excludes design.”

Again, the analysis will judge, and a design implies a creator. Ergo creationism, ergo religion. (Evolution doesn’t need to discuss design, so it has no creator.)

A creator needs not require creationism. That’s just a play with words. The analysis will indeed judge and in the case of ID the creator clearly seems to be the Creator. Actually, evolution seems to discuss (apparant) design all the time. Historically, one cannot ignore this.

“After all, in science everything should be tentative, even the methodological foundation. Of course, what replaces MN should be as good or better. And as I and others have argued, it fails to do so.”

MN is the best we have, it has served us well, and it shouldn’t be tested by special plea by those ideas are going to be tested. First rule of testing: Adapt your tests, invent new ones if necessary, but never, ever change the protocol because someone else than the test results want you to.

MN is the best we have (so far) but that is no reason to reject arguments that MN is insufficient in dealing with design. At least, not a-priori without exploring the details. What I am arguing is that if ID claims that MN is insufficient, then using the argument that ID violates MN seems rather self defeating.

Comment #125578

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:31 AM (e)

Actually, come to think of it, ID’s claims are not that MN is wrong but rather that there are cases where it is insufficient. Which means that ID is not rejecting MN and in fact, it seems to accept many of the scientific findings based on MN. This makes it even harder to reject ID a-priori since it accepts MN, and argues that it should be extended so that it can deal with additional concepts. If ID were right, then MN should not be protected from such arguments by stating that ID fails the requirements of MN.

Comment #125583

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 3, 2006 2:01 AM (e)

PvM:
“Before I proceed, however, I note that Dembski makes an important concession to his critics. He refuses to make the second assumption noted above.”

This is to confuse ID’s definition with what will be tested by a scientist. A scientist needs a process, a causating agent if you will. The set theoretic definition is vacuous. (Ie makes false positives due to lack of definition of designer.)

I’m quite sure that the debunking already done has concluded this. Nothing more can be said, since EF must be modified to make positive predictions. Or do you have a testable proposal from this? I see that O’Brien and others make similar points in an excellent manner.

Again, I don’t see the point in discussing philosophy instead of how debunking (testing) is done.

“But one cannot reject a hypotheses a-priori just because it has not been sufficiently tested.”

Of course illdefined or nonpredictive hypotheses are rejected out of hand. It doesn’t even touch MN. Regarding MN, the meaning is that ~MN hypotheses are bad hypotheses, because *we know so from the success of the method and notable failure if supernatural hypotheses are made*. How else do you reject simple but stupid ideas like Last thursday or goddidit? And note, Last thursday and *poof* are ID type hypotheses, no mechanism assumed. Why can we reject it out of hand but not EF?

“Brute practicality is that if ID wants to play, it has to show that its hypotheses contribute to science. So far, the conclusion seems to be that ID is scientifically vacuous.”

Exactly. Why do you promote philosophy in the face of brutes? ;-)

“Whether or not something is scientific should not be determined by the underlying scientific method.”

Of course it does such determinations. Illdefined or unpredictive hypotheses are rejected by method, at the very least. Your model of science isn’t in accordance with reality.

Comment #125588

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on September 3, 2006 2:43 AM (e)

PvM:
“A creator needs not require creationism. That’s just a play with words.”

Huh? You are the one arguing teleology. I’m arguing causation, or more generally that events simply conform to the laws of nature. Either way, the process needs a definition of a creator to constrain the creation and be testable. I know you know that. Why do you call it a play with words?

“Actually, evolution seems to discuss (apparant) design all the time. Historically, one cannot ignore this.”

My point was that evolutionary theory, at least explaining common descent with modification, doesn’t need design. Perhaps evo-devo does, but I want to see the need within the theory, not an auxilliary discussion using easy descriptions that aren’t really used in the theory. It reminds me of teleology. I’m still waiting for you to show the need there.

“What I am arguing is that if ID claims that MN is insufficient, then using the argument that ID violates MN seems rather self defeating.”

Special pleading against good method. We have been here before, I have had my say, and I can’t see that you answer to that but instead restate your position. Let us claim irreconcilable differences. :-)

“This makes it even harder to reject ID a-priori since it accepts MN”

Huh? If there “are cases where it is insufficient” it rejects MN. MN is wholesale, all observations, all the time. AFAIK, it is the definition. Nothing ~MN acceptable, ie all MN acceptable.

Comment #125674

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 3, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

To echo a famous bit in the Tao Te Ching: the methodological naturalism that can be known is not the eternal and unchanging methodological naturalism. Which is to say, the potted scientific method that is presented in the first chapter of the text book doesn’t have a lot to do with what scientists actually do. It would be convenient for polemical purposes if we could define a set of absolute rules and then point out that the ID people violate them. On the other hand, although arguing with ID types is politically important, it is an intellectually trivial exercise in many ways and understanding how science works is a much more interesting problem than coming up with another reason to believe that anvils don’t float.

The demarcation problem is not just an academic issue. Real scientists really wrestle with what counts as evidence. The debate about the status of string theory is an obvious example. Can a theory be established on the basis of sheer mathematical elegance even if it remains unclear how it can be subjected to empirical tests? Are debates about the proper interpretation of quantum mechanics physics or just something aging Nobel Prize winners do for fun? What kind of evidence counts when you’re trying to decide if a sentence is grammatical in a natural language? Are clinical syndromes real because doctors decide they are real?

Back in the early decades of the 20th Century, the Postivivists and others tried to come up with a unified methodology for science that would settle things once and for all. The content of science would change as more observations and experiments were made, but the logic of science wouldn’t. The problem with this optimistic program, of course, was to justify an empirical methodology once and for all. My impression is that the effort failed, and that the people who are interested in studying science have become distinctly more empirical (and tentative) in their own approach to defining what they increasingly recognize is a moving target.

Comment #125676

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 12:33 PM (e)

PvM:
“A creator needs not require creationism. That’s just a play with words.”

Huh? You are the one arguing teleology. I’m arguing causation, or more generally that events simply conform to the laws of nature. Either way, the process needs a definition of a creator to constrain the creation and be testable. I know you know that. Why do you call it a play with words?

Creationism is a loaded word. Remember that ID does not limit its claims to supernatural designers. Design, in general according to ID, is a concept not reducible to chance or regularity processes.

PvM: “Actually, evolution seems to discuss (apparant) design all the time. Historically, one cannot ignore this.”

My point was that evolutionary theory, at least explaining common descent with modification, doesn’t need design. Perhaps evo-devo does, but I want to see the need within the theory, not an auxilliary discussion using easy descriptions that aren’t really used in the theory. It reminds me of teleology. I’m still waiting for you to show the need there.

I think that the confusion is about teleology. Are you familiar with how Mayr, Nagel, Ayala and Ruse for instance treat the concept of teleology and nature? Are you aware that for instance Ayala argues that teleology in biology is inevitable since the process of natural selection for instance, involves function? Over time biology has been plagued by the concept of ‘design’, historically mostly, as well as by the use of teleological language. Biology is also a unique science in this aspect. The argument by ID is that this ‘design’ requires a designer, that teleology is ‘real’. So does, evolutionary theory needs ‘design’? Perhaps not to the extent as suggested by ID, but evolutionary theory tends to be filled with concepts reminding of ‘design’, ‘purpose’ and so on.

PvM: “This makes it even harder to reject ID a-priori since it accepts MN”

Huh? If there “are cases where it is insufficient” it rejects MN. MN is wholesale, all observations, all the time. AFAIK, it is the definition. Nothing ~MN acceptable, ie all MN acceptable.

Since ID is meant to extend MN with the concept of design and the conceopt of design is limited in its applicability, there is nothing contradicting here. Sort of like relativitity and Newtonian dynamics.
In other words, in many cases MN is quite applicable and acceptable but there are circumstances where it is insufficient. ID argues that this includes cases of ‘design’.

I am however not very impressed by ID’s conflation or confusions of methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism (Dembski, and Johnson for instance).

Comment #125681

Posted by Registered User on September 3, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Remember that ID does not limit its claims to supernatural designers.

The evidence for a designer that does what ID requires its designer to do is precisely the same as the evidence supporting the existence of the Christian God.

Is the claim that God created the universe unscientific?

Comment #125682

Posted by Registered User on September 3, 2006 1:13 PM (e)

Rejecting ID because it supposedly appeals to God (it doesn’t necessarily) or the supernatural runs quickly afoul of the demarcation problem since ID argues that the top hierarchy of science is flawed (MN).

Let the ID peddlers argue that the “top hierarchy of science is flawed” until they are blue in the face.

I don’t see why that is a “problem” when the handful of self-identifying “scientists” and “philosophers of science” (*gags*) who agree with that position are some of the most blatantly hypocritical and self-contradicting liars on the planet.

And again, Pim, you make them claim that “ID” (which is whatever you or the ID peddler says it is at Time X) does not “necessarily” appeal to God. But I have yet to hear a coherent “claim” by an ID peddler that does not appeal to a deity of some sort.

Sure, I’ve heard lots of stuff like “this protein couldn’t have evolved becuase it violates the Rule of Buciferoxinous Rhezorectoplastitudinology where N={st/45.2}” but that stuff is nonscientific and incomprehensible gobbledeegook. It doesn’t MAKE SENSE, Pim. To the extent ID peddlers claims do make sense, it because they are stripped of the bogus vapid rhetoric and it’s clear that they ID peddlers is REALLY claiming: This is so wondeful that my God did it.

So Pim: please stop stopping that “IDs claims” do not invoke a deity until you can show us a positive claim by an IDer that is (1) comprehensible and (2) does not invoke a deity.

Thanks.

Comment #125683

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Registered user wrote:

Up above, I asked you whether the theory that a mysterious alien being is controlling everything (and I meant everything) you do or say “unscientific”. You gave a really lame answer that would make a creationist proud. You said “Not necessarily” and you ran away.

So tell me Pim, in this universe, in 2006, in what way is the theory “scientific.” And for the record, I don’t care if you call it a “theory” a “hypothesis” or a “claim”. Tell me how it’s scientific. Explain your answer.

Actually, your question to which I responded was ‘slightly’ different

My theory is that everything you do and say is exactly according to the wishes of a mysterious alien being.

Unscientific?

As I suggested in my response, the hypothesis can be rejected as falsified or vacuous depending on the details a-posteriori. It all depends on the details. It’s the details which will determine the fate of the hypothesis. All I am saying is that we cannot reject this statement as unscientific a-priori based upon some set of rules.
So unless more details are forthcoming, it is hard to predict the outcome of your scenario.

May I also remind you that ID insists that its design inference is not (necessarily) about the supernatural.

May I also suggest that you refrain from accusations of lying?

Comment #125684

Posted by Registered User on September 3, 2006 1:22 PM (e)

It all depends on the details. It’s the details which will determine the fate of the hypothesis.

So what details are you lacking, Pim? That is what I meant when I asked you to “explain your answer” of “not necessarily.”

I find it nearly impossible to believe that you did not understand what I meant in the first place.

Comment #125685

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:22 PM (e)

Registered User wrote:

PvM: “Remember that ID does not limit its claims to supernatural designers”

The evidence for a designer that does what ID requires its designer to do is precisely the same as the evidence supporting the existence of the Christian God.

Is the claim that God created the universe unscientific?

I disagree with your premise, so I see no reason to address your conclusion, until you can show us the relevance of your question. As I have said, this is an argument, which conflates the theological hopes and wishes of some ID proponents with its scientific claims. Until you can distinguish between these two, you are making the same flaw as IDers who conflate methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism.

So perhaps could you tell us what does the hypothesis(es) of ID require its designer to do? What ‘evidence’ are you referring to? What is the ‘evidence’ supporting a Christian God? Why are these evidences the same? Unless you can address these questions, I suggest that your question is based on very flawed premises.

Comment #125687

Posted by Registered User on September 3, 2006 1:30 PM (e)

I disagree with your premise, so I see no reason to address your conclusion, until you can show us the relevance of your question.

LOL!!!!!!!

As I have said, this is an argument, which conflates the theological hopes and wishes of some ID proponents with its scientific claims.

There are no scientific claims, Pim. You keep saying there are but you haven’t shown us a single coherent claim that doesn’t require a deity. Remember Pim: the burden is on you and the ID peddlers. Not me.

Also, which ID proponents do not share your theological hopes and wishes?

Comment #125688

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:33 PM (e)

Registerd User wrote:

PvM: Rejecting ID because it supposedly appeals to God (it doesn’t necessarily) or the supernatural runs quickly afoul of the demarcation problem since ID argues that the top hierarchy of science is flawed (MN).

Let the ID peddlers argue that the “top hierarchy of science is flawed” until they are blue in the face.

That’s one approach I guess, not very effective as it allows ID to argue, quite effectively, that science artificially rejects ID’s claims by restricting its methodologies to dogmatism.

R U wrote:

I don’t see why that is a “problem” when the handful of self-identifying “scientists” and “philosophers of science” (*gags*) who agree with that position are some of the most blatantly hypocritical and self-contradicting liars on the planet.

Next time, comments which contain the word liars etc will not just be moved but junked. Let me point out that your ad hominem approach is a logically weak argument which tries to avoid dealing with ID’s scientific claims by accusing ID of being religiously motivated or based on falsehoods.

R U wrote:

And again, Pim, you make them claim that “ID” (which is whatever you or the ID peddler says it is at Time X) does not “necessarily” appeal to God. But I have yet to hear a coherent “claim” by an ID peddler that does not appeal to a deity of some sort.

Again, personal incredulity is not a very coherent or at least convincing argument. We should not necessarily let our ignorance guide us to reach conclusions. I suggest that you read some relevant ID literature before you make these assertions. As critics, I believe, we have an even stronger requirement to be familiar with the actual ID arguments and not just what we may have heard or not heard.

R U wrote:

Sure, I’ve heard lots of stuff like “this protein couldn’t have evolved becuase it violates the Rule of Buciferoxinous Rhezorectoplastitudinology where N={st/45.2}” but that stuff is nonscientific and incomprehensible gobbledeegook. It doesn’t MAKE SENSE, Pim. To the extent ID peddlers claims do make sense, it because they are stripped of the bogus vapid rhetoric and it’s clear that they ID peddlers is REALLY claiming: This is so wondeful that my God did it.

Seems you are not very familiar with ID. Where did it make these claims about proteins? And how is this claim nonscientific? Details do matter here. What you argue to be ‘clear’ needs more than just your some just so stories.

R U wrote:

So Pim: please stop stopping that “IDs claims” do not invoke a deity until you can show us a positive claim by an IDer that is (1) comprehensible and (2) does not invoke a deity.

Are you familiar with Dembski’s design inference? Point out where in the both the definition of design as well as in the methodology, Dembski invokes a deity. I feel in no way that I should restrict my comments just because you do not comprehend ID’s arguments and argue in a rather ad hoc manner that ID requires the invocation of a deity.

Now, on the other hand, I somewhat agree with you that ID is often used to promote a Christian God but let’s not fall guilty of the fallacy of ad hominem and argue that ID is therefor religious. Motivation hardly makes for a good argument all by itself. Or perhaps we are forced to thus accept the argument made by some IDers that science (methodological naturalism) is nothing more than pure naturalism because some evolutionist said ‘x’. Surely, we should reject this argument on the same grounds as yours?

Comment #125689

Posted by Registered User on September 3, 2006 1:34 PM (e)

So perhaps could you tell us what does the hypothesis(es) of ID require its designer to do?

You tell me, Pim. After all, you claim to know what ID really is. What does ID require its designer to actually *do*? That’s a great question. It’s been asked before a thousand times and the ID peddlers always shut their mouths really quickly. Will you do the same?

What ‘evidence’ are you referring to? What is the ‘evidence’ supporting a Christian God? Why are these evidences the same?

Because they are both “zero”. The evidence for the beings the ID peddlers necessarily invoke and the Christian God is zilcho. It’s made up garbage designed by believers in the believer’s brains to make the believers feel good (or at least superior to non-believers) while they are alive.

Comment #125690

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:36 PM (e)

R U wrote:

It all depends on the details. It’s the details which will determine the fate of the hypothesis.

So what details are you lacking, Pim? That is what I meant when I asked you to “explain your answer” of “not necessarily.”

I find it nearly impossible to believe that you did not understand what I meant in the first place.

Again, your beliefs are of little relevance. I am sure that you understand this. The details include the nature of the designer, our ability to formulate some testable or falsifiable statements based on your hypothesis etc. As I have explained, determining whether something is science, is more of an iterative process. Let me ask you a question: Do you consider string theory or multiverse theories to be scientific? Perhaps that will help you understand my arguments better.

Comment #125692

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:42 PM (e)

R U wrote:

I disagree with your premise, so I see no reason to address your conclusion, until you can show us the relevance of your question.

LOL!!!!!!!

As I have said, this is an argument, which conflates the theological hopes and wishes of some ID proponents with its scientific claims.

There are no scientific claims, Pim. You keep saying there are but you haven’t shown us a single coherent claim that doesn’t require a deity. Remember Pim: the burden is on you and the ID peddlers. Not me.

First of all, you suggested that the evidence existed that ID invariably requires a deity. Seems that you have backed off from your ‘claims’ and I appreciate this. You then request me to show that there are coherent ID claims that do not require a deity.

Let me provide you some:

“Design is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity”
“This person was murdered by X in a rage of jealousy over her involvement with Y” (Criminology, archaeology, SETI, Panspermianism)
“Complex specified information can only be created by an intelligent designer”
Dembski’s Design inference

Behe wrote:

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (p. 39)

Also, which ID proponents do not share your theological hopes and wishes?

I do not understand your question. Please expand.

Comment #125693

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

R U wrote:

So perhaps could you tell us what does the hypothesis(es) of ID require its designer to do?

You tell me, Pim. After all, you claim to know what ID really is. What does ID require its designer to actually *do*? That’s a great question. It’s been asked before a thousand times and the ID peddlers always shut their mouths really quickly. Will you do the same?

You made the claim so why should I support your claims, especially because I consider them to be ill informed. Are you going to shut your mouth really quickly as well?

R U wrote:

What ‘evidence’ are you referring to? W