Steve Reuland posted Entry 3045 on April 9, 2007 10:01 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3035

Bill Dembski and company are having a self-congratulatory session about a new “pro-ID” paper published by Finnish researchers Matti Leisola and Ossi Turunen in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. Looking at the paper, you wouldn’t know that it’s a “pro-ID” paper at all because it contains not one shred of evidence in favor of ID, nor does it even try directly arguing for ID (compare this to the Meyer paper, which while riddled with errors, at least put forth pro-ID arguments). On what basis could it possibly be a pro-ID paper? If it weren’t for the fact that Matti Leisola is a creationist, there would be no reason to believe it was intended as such at all.

Nevertheless, Dembski apparently thinks that it’s a pro-ID paper on the basis of its content, presumably because he conflates rational design methodology as used in protein engineering with ID. Of course this is nonsense, and in reality the paper is merely a redundant review of the current state of protein engineering techniques, with most of the space dedicated to the very long list of successes enjoyed by evolutionary methods. There are much better reviews out there, but nevertheless Leisola and Turunen give a decent (if too limited) overview of directed evolution experiments. Then they proceed to argue that rational design methods will start working better once we have more detailed knowledge of the mechanism by which the primary sequence of a protein determines its structure and function. This is an obvious and noncontroversial conclusion, so one is still left wondering how this could possibly be spun as “pro-ID”. I’ll say more about that in a minute, but first let me give a quick overview of the state of protein engineering as it exists today.

There are generally two ways one can go about trying to engineer a protein. The first is to use what is commonly called “rational design”. As the name implies, this simply means taking what you know about the structure and function of a protein and trying to predict which changes you need to make in order to get a desired result. The problem with this approach is, first of all, that you need detailed knowledge of the protein’s structure and function. Not all proteins have had their structures solved, and many of their functions are either poorly characterized or not characterized at all. Obtaining this knowledge is an expensive and time consuming process. And secondly, no one really knows what the exact relationship is between sequence, structure, and function. Even if you know everything there is to know about a protein’s current structure and function, it is very difficult to predict what’s going to happen when you start changing things around.

So protein engineers employ a second technique known as “directed evolution”. Again, the name tells you essentially what the technique involves: you apply random mutagenesis to whole or part of your protein, you screen for the properties you’re looking for, and you repeat the process as necessary. In other words, you use the Darwinian mechanism, the very mechanism that ID advocates have spent the last decade fruitlessly arguing is incapable of doing the very things we see it doing in the lab. And as it turns out, directed evolution methods are generally superior to rational design methods, so much so that a number of successful biotech companies such as Diversa and Applied Molecular Evolution use directed evolution as their primary engineering tool. (Incidentally, creationists who argue that evolution has no practical applications – paging Michael Egnor! – should sit down and have a talk with the officers of these companies.) But in spite of the success of directed evolution techniques, they’re not without drawbacks. You need a means of screening large numbers of mutants quickly (known as high-throughput) in order to find the rose among thorns. This means using expensive automated equipment and/or a lot of researchers. Plus such screens often have to be developed independently for each individual protein, and lots of proteins just aren’t going to be easy to screen. So both rational design and directed evolution each have their advantages and disadvantages. Luckily, researchers are not limited in which approach they use, and when applicable, they will use both directed evolution and rational design approaches together.

Okay, now back to the paper. One of the central deceits of the ID movement is to claim that anytime a human being designs something, she is using the theory of “intelligent design”. Sorry, but no. Researchers who employ rational design techniques do not operate under the premise that natural proteins were “designed” by some unknown intelligence using unknown methods. And if for some reason they did, it would be entirely unhelpful. The paper does not argue directly that rational design methodology somehow supports “intelligent design”, but given Leisola’s creationist sympathies, this might be what he intended. And this is certainly what Bill Dembski is implying, going so far as to claim that it is “pro-ID article without the usual disclaimers…” But absent the glaringly illogical attempt to connect protein engineering with ID, there is no support for ID to be found anywhere in the paper. (In fact, the phrase “intelligent design” does not even appear in the article – how could it be a “pro-ID article without disclaimers” if ID never even gets mentioned?)

The only claim that might be relevant to the ID/evolution debate is in one small section titled “Obstacles in protein engineering” in which the authors argue that there is an “Overreliance on the Darwinian methodology”. But this argument is made very tepidly, and little if any support is provided for it. Leisola and Turunen are forced to conceded throughout the paper that Darwinian methods are not only highly successful, but are more successful than rational design approaches. They merely contend that as our knowledge of protein structure and function improves, rational design approaches will also improve. Well, yeah, that’s kind of obvious. If someday we obtain perfect knowledge of the relationship between protein sequence, structure, and function, then rational design methods will definitely be superior. How could they not? If you can make a precise prediction about which mutations will generate which functions, you can skip the messy high-throughput methods and just go straight to the desired result. It’s no secret that evolution is a slow and wasteful process requiring a lot of trial and error. That’s why life on Earth took billions of years to reach its present state; if the ID people were correct, one would imagine that the goals of the “designer” would have been reached instantaneously.

In the meantime however, directed evolutionary approaches are very powerful, and even rational design approaches are increasingly incorporating evolutionary methods. (This is one major weakness of the paper – rational design and evolutionary methods are presented as an either/or dichotomy, when in fact rational design approaches, particularly those derived from computational models, make extensive use of evolutionary theory.) Most importantly, directed evolution refutes one of the central tenets of ID argumentation, which is that the Darwinian mechanism — random mutation plus selection – cannot generate new “information”, protein functions, or whatever. We knew this was false long before the ID movement ever began. Now they’re reduced to arguing that just because directed evolution methods are less than perfect, or that researchers can design stuff directly, that this somehow supports ID. And of course there’s the annoying spectacle of pretending as if an ID advocate getting a paper of any kind published is some sort of coup. Dembski claims that “perhaps this is a sign of things to come.” Actually we’ve been seeing it for quite awhile now.

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Comment #168869

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 9, 2007 12:37 PM (e)

When I saw it I just thought it was another case of claiming that every biology paper is in fact an ID paper.

But oh yeah, rational design methods will be better if we have exhaustive knowledge of protein structure and function, as well as a huge computing ability.

What these people forget is that such rational design methods won’t be finding the same solutions, certainly not in many cases, because rational design won’t be hamstrung by past evolutionary histories. Extremely good rational design methods will simply further confirm what we already know, that evolution has worked with limitations that a god-like designer would not, and that the proteins and morphologies that we have reveal exactly those sorts of limitations (and not the kinds of poor design found in Pintos).

I suppose they have to claim triumphs wherever, even when they are pointing out the pro-evolutionary fact that everything from the time it took to evolve to the results of evolution are consistent with undirected evolution, not with rational design.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #168883

Posted by Jason F on April 9, 2007 2:05 PM (e)

Steve,

On what basis could it possibly be a pro-ID paper?

I’m surprised you needed to ask this question. Probably, you’re looking at the paper from the point of view of someone who actually knows what “rational design”, “random techniques”, and “Darwinian blind search” all mean in the context of protein engineering.

But you aren’t the DI’s target audience.

Try and think of this from the perspective of a lay-person who’s inherently both sympathetic to ID creationism and unfamiliar with the jargon and concepts of protein engineering. Such a person is going to go to the Uncommon Descent website and see the following abstract…

Abstract: The extraordinary properties of natural proteins demonstrate that life-like protein engineering is both achievable and valuable. Rapid progress and impressive results have been made towards this goal using rational design and random techniques or a combination of both. However, we still do not have a general theory on how to specify a structure that is suited to a target function nor can we specify a sequence that folds to a target structure. There is also overreliance on the Darwinian blind search to obtain practical results. In the long run, random methods cannot replace insight in constructing life-like proteins. For the near future, however, in enzyme development, we need to rely on a combination of both.

Now, if you want ID creationism to be true and you don’t know anything about protein engineering, you’re going to think that says: 1) there is “rapid progress” being made in “rational design”, 2) “Darwinian” methods are over-relied upon and don’t give practical results, and 3) “random methods” are being replaced by “design”.

If you’re an ID creationist, that all sounds wonderful! And when Dembski tells you it’s a pro-ID paper, well that just seals the deal!

All that context you explained about what the terminology means and how it’s applied in this specific field is great for people like me who are genuinely interested in understanding things like this, but it’s all just white noise to ID creationists who feed on being told what they want to hear.

To them, this paper looks very much like it’s bashing random Darwinian methods and trumpeting the virtues of design.

Know your enemy and know thier audience.

Comment #168902

Posted by Tom Groover MSEE on April 9, 2007 2:47 PM (e)

Now I’ve really heard it all. For the first time I come to understand there are “evolutionary methods” as if to say evolution is methodical and not purely random-based. So if evolution is methodical, who devised the method? The experimenter? Would such a method select the “fittest” for “survival”? With logic such as this is it any wonder you guys are having to spend huge amounts of energy the past few years arguing and insulting us ignoramuses, on the controversy that supposedly doesn’t exist, you know, the one that dominates discussion on PT?

Comment #168903

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 9, 2007 2:55 PM (e)

Now I’ve really heard it all. For the first time I come to understand there are “evolutionary methods” as if to say evolution is methodical and not purely random-based.

There are evolutionary methods—when humans are utilizing an evolutionary process. Steve is not writing about evolutionary methods existing out in “nature”.

So if evolution is methodical, who devised the method? The experimenter?

Methodical evolution is designed by the researcher.

Would such a method select the “fittest” for “survival”?

Actually, you have to work your method to deal with the fact that the “fittest” will “survive”. That is, you have to set the parameters so that the design, molecule, etc., will evolve to become fit for certain purposes.

With logic such as this is it any wonder you guys are having to spend huge amounts of energy the past few years arguing and insulting us ignoramuses, on the controversy that supposedly doesn’t exist, you know, the one that dominates discussion on PT?

Unfortunately, the faulty “logic” is your own, since you confused methods which are designed to mimic “natural” evolution in the lab or on the computer, with the evolution which occurs in nature.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #168906

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 9, 2007 3:10 PM (e)

Jason F wrote:

I’m surprised you needed to ask this question. Probably, you’re looking at the paper from the point of view of someone who actually knows what “rational design”, “random techniques”, and “Darwinian blind search” all mean in the context of protein engineering.

But you aren’t the DI’s target audience.

Well yeah, that kind of goes without saying. I took the time to write this in case there are people who 1) aren’t already committed to Dembski’s point of view, and 2) may not know enough about protein engineering to realize that the authors weren’t talking about what Dembski implies they were talking about. I imagine there are quite a lot of such people. It’s important for them to know that there is no basis on which to call this a “pro-ID” paper, other than perhaps the intent of the authors.

Comment #168908

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 9, 2007 3:15 PM (e)

Now I’ve really heard it all. For the first time I come to understand there are “evolutionary methods” as if to say evolution is methodical and not purely random-based. So if evolution is methodical, who devised the method? The experimenter? Would such a method select the “fittest” for “survival”? With logic such as this is it any wonder you guys are having to spend huge amounts of energy the past few years arguing and insulting us ignoramuses, on the controversy that supposedly doesn’t exist, you know, the one that dominates discussion on PT?

It boils down to the fact evolutionists think they can deceive God by deceiving themselves. One day evolutionist will claim their ersatz process of natural selection is random one day and methodical the next. It’s like the bisexuality most of them practice, they do know what it’s going to be from day day.

Comment #168912

Posted by Jason F on April 9, 2007 3:46 PM (e)

Steve,

It’s important for them to know that there is no basis on which to call this a “pro-ID” paper, other than perhaps the intent of the authors.

Oh, absolutely! Your time and effort are greatly appreciated.

Two things that should stand out to any objective observer: 1) it’s the “evolutionist” side who provides all the details, definitions, and background necessary to put the cited paper in proper context (OTOH, Dembski just throws out an abstract and declares “It’s pro-ID!” without anything further), and 2) all ID-creationists are still able to do is falsely claim non-ID creationist papers as their own, rather than generating their own research.

And remember, “The Wedge Strategy” made it very clear…

Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.

…and there you have it.

Comment #168930

Posted by Frank J on April 9, 2007 5:39 PM (e)

The “creationist” link points to the “8th European Creationist Conference” and features talks by Leisola and even the DI’s own token YEC (pseudo-YEC?) Paul Nelson. The titles of the talks suggest that it not only promotes creationism, but from the papers about the Flood and the Fall, specifically YEC, or at least a non-progressive OEC (e.g. day-age). But wait. It also promotes ID, which makes it one more thing that undermines the DI’s futile attempts to distance itself from classic creationism. Not that their target audience cares of course; the whole “ID is not creationism” thing is just to get critics to take the bait.

When IDers whine that they are shut out from publishing by those oppressive “Darwinists,” I remind them that all they have to do is drop the design language, just as they do for public school lesson plans. The problem, of which chief IDers are completely aware, is that with or without design language, there’s nothing in their work that challenges evolution; if anything it even adds further support. They can fool high school students, but not scientists, and they know it.

When the few papers by IDers (or classic creationists) get published, they gush about how ID is legitimized by peer review. But when one notes how pathetically few papers have been published by IDers (or classic creationists), and that none provide a shred of support for ID (or the mutually contradictory creationist accounts), they again whine about being shut out. They know that it’s one more thing that ID tries to have both ways. But as long as their cheerleaders don’t care, why should they?

Comment #168934

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on April 9, 2007 6:37 PM (e)

I guess the fact that someone designed a process that mimics nature proves that nature was designed…. NOT!!

Comment #168935

Posted by Richard Simons on April 9, 2007 6:47 PM (e)

Pumpkinhead: the effort you are having to make to keep your creationist beliefs intact is beginning to show.

Comment #168936

Posted by Mike Elzinga on April 9, 2007 6:50 PM (e)

I was pretty sure that after Dover, the ID crowd would get the message that they had to publish evidence for ID in reputable, peer-reviewed journals. I also figured that, since there isn’t any such evidence, they would find a way to fake it to their audience.

What they will do is publish papers that are pretty mundane and uninteresting while avoiding ID terminology to get by reviewers, but their papers will have enough code words in them that they can brag to their followers that they are now publishing articles that prove ID. Their followers will swallow it hook, line, and sinker, and armed with this belief, will step up their political attacks on legislatures and school boards.

If we point out that none of their papers argue for ID or that they have started no research programs nor improved the scientific understanding of our universe, they will argue that we have moved the goalposts.

None of their followers know what a significant paper does in the world of research. It has to be confirmed, cited in many other research papers, and it has to get a trend going that leads to significant advances in our understanding. I can see other ID/Creationist leaders jumping on the bandwagon to cite and “confirm” the papers of their co-conspirators, but the only “change” in science they can hope to generate will be caused by a massive political campaign that declares that ID is now a “proven” science.

I think we are seeing the beginning of this process. It’s another case of fundamentalists gaming the system to gain the appearance of legitimacy.

Comment #168942

Posted by Karen on April 9, 2007 7:20 PM (e)

Isn’t it common for creationists to parasitize the work of real scientists? They also like to twist the meaning of scientific work so that it seems to say the opposite of what the original author intended. (Carl Zimmer needs to add a new chapter to Parasite Rex.)

Comment #168955

Posted by David Stanton on April 9, 2007 8:23 PM (e)

Pumpkinhead wrote:

“One day evolutionist will claim their ersatz process of natural selection is random one day and methodical the next.”

You only have to look at the equations to see that natural selection is a completely deterministic process. Anyone who claims any different is not telling the truth. Of course there are still elements of chance and drift that are important for the entire process of evolution, but that is not the point. Can you give any examples of anyone who told you natural selection was “random”? If so, why did you believe them?

Comment #168966

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 9, 2007 11:43 PM (e)

People, I’m pretty sure Pumpkinhead is pulling our chain. After all, he called us all bisexuals. Only another evolutionist would know that we’re all bisexuals.

Comment #168985

Posted by Ryan Bates on April 10, 2007 2:33 AM (e)

“nor can we specify a sequence that folds to a target structure”

Odd statement. Pulling out a book on Protein Design (called Protein Design), page 5/section 1.1.3, talks about specified sequences that fold into a desired alpha helix (in an aqueous environ). Beta sheets starting on page 27…design of entire protein complexes on page 113. (Methods in Molecular Biology - 340 - Protein Design: Methods and Applications)

In a paper, Biotechnology Advances (vol 23 page 271-281), mesophiles such as us are used as the example of what not to do. In example we have undesirable beta branched residues (I, T, V) incorporated in helices causing conformational strain, increasing the ease of destabilization.

Protein design shows that we are poorly designed, heck we have to take most of our “what we desire to have” from thermophilic bacteria. Amoral processes best explain our poorly placed residues.

Weird authors.

Comment #168990

Posted by EagleHeart on April 10, 2007 3:21 AM (e)

Matti Leisola is a well-known YEC-creationist in Finland. He has translated various anti-evolution books in Finnish including Dembski’s “The design inference” and co-authored with German creationist Siegfried Scherer book “Evolution:The critical analysis”. He even maintains a website that promotes intelligent design: http://www.intelligentdesign.fi/
In 2004 he arranged a lecture series at the Helsinki University of Technology called “Tackling Ultimate Complexity” in which lecturers included Paul Nelson and Richard Sternberg. That year the Finnish skeptic association gave him and to his laboratory the annual “bullshit award” for promoting pseudoscience.

Comment #168995

Posted by demallien on April 10, 2007 3:44 AM (e)

Pumpkinhead wrote:

It boils down to the fact evolutionists think they can deceive God by deceiving themselves. One day evolutionist will claim their ersatz process of natural selection is random one day and methodical the next. It’s like the bisexuality most of them practice, they do know what it’s going to be from day day.

Wait, that’s a parody right? Brilliant! Nice work Pumpkinhead, I love it!

Comment #169026

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 10, 2007 8:29 AM (e)

Matti Leisola is a creationist

Referencing a creationist conference in Sweden 2003. Ouch! And if you can’t read the swedish, they had three presentations on lecturing ‘our origin’.

Public school is supposedly protected from pseudoscience hurting the development and minds of children. But private school is freer. They still has to pass the inspections and requirements of the school authority, which now has stopped the recent attempt of presenting creationism in one school. Now I know what originated that trial balloon.

I also understand why Paul Nelson visited Sweden. IIRC it was that year he snuck [What? Such a simple word not in Firefox spell checker! Why do I have to teach it non-conservative english; am I supposed to know that? Yet another wrong order of things. :-| ] into the swedish national Museum of Natural History, talked with reporters in one of the galleries, and later claimed he had made a presentation at the premises.

Comment #169040

Posted by Dan Gaston on April 10, 2007 10:46 AM (e)

Tom Groover wrote:

Now I’ve really heard it all. For the first time I come to understand there are “evolutionary methods” as if to say evolution is methodical and not purely random-based. So if evolution is methodical, who devised the method? The experimenter? Would such a method select the “fittest” for “survival”? With logic such as this is it any wonder you guys are having to spend huge amounts of energy the past few years arguing and insulting us ignoramuses, on the controversy that supposedly doesn’t exist, you know, the one that dominates discussion on PT?

I know others have already responded pretty well to this but it always bears repeating. We have evolutionary processes in nature, and we have cases where we take what we know about those processes and put them to use in the lab. Directed Evolution for the purposes of Protein Engineering, Genetic Algorithms, etc. Here we determine what we want the evolutionary pressures and selective constraints to be in order to produce a desired outcome (such as with Directed Evolution) or we set the constraints to allow a for a search towards reasonable solutions (such as Genetic Algorithms). It is much like the basis of Animal Husbandry, where our ancestors observed variation and selection in nature and realized they could breed for specific desired traits.

Here in this type of experiment and methodology we are emulating what we know about nature but unlike nature we may have a specific goal in mind (Protein Engineering) and se we set the constraints and environment appropriately. Nature of course does not have a pre-set goal.

Comment #169042

Posted by Henry J on April 10, 2007 11:20 AM (e)

Re “talked with reporters in one of the galleries, and later claimed he had made a presentation at the premises.”

Well heck, if he was present there, and talked to some people, isn’t that making a “presentation” there? LOL

Comment #169063

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 10, 2007 1:59 PM (e)

Public school is supposedly protected from pseudoscience hurting the development and minds of children. But private school is freer. They still has to pass the inspections and requirements of the school authority, which now has stopped the recent attempt of presenting creationism in one school. Now I know what originated that trial balloon.

Like his Viking ancestors who made their living raping, killing, pillaging, and burning peaceful Christian communities, this Scandinavian evolutionist can not tolerate any dissent from the evolutionary theology of the modern secular state.

The zeal to which Darwiniacs will persecute dissidents never ceases to amaze me. Even in an area where popular opinion veers toward the evolutionists side; they still hysterically try to stamp out all traces of Christianity.

Comment #169065

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 10, 2007 2:14 PM (e)

Wait, that’s a parody right? Brilliant! Nice work Pumpkinhead, I love it!

Not everything that appears to be a parody actually is. This movie starring Don Johnson based on Robert Rimmer’s book was actually based on the author’s observations of college life in the increasingly Darwinian ethical framework that began to dominate American campuses in the 1950’s.

Comment #169067

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 10, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

Like his Viking ancestors who made their living raping, killing, pillaging,…

Reminds me of a joke.

A Viking and his three grown sons are getting off of their long-boat, about to sack a town. The Viking lays out his strategy:
V: “Ok, we’re gonna have a really good sacking today.

V: [To his eldest son] “Ok, Lars, you’re in charge of killing.”

Eldest son: “Woohoo!”

V: [To his second oldest son] “Gunther, you’ll be in charge of the pillaging.”

2n eldest son: “Alright! Pillaging rocks!”

Youngest son: “Awww, not raping, again…”

Comment #169074

Posted by David Stanton on April 10, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

Hi pumpkinhead, back again? How about answering some of my questions? Or did you just make all that stuff up?

Comment #169087

Posted by David B. Benson on April 10, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

Finns are not Scandinavians and did not, AFAIK, go a-viking…

Comment #169098

Posted by analyysi on April 10, 2007 5:36 PM (e)

Finns were not vikings (although, perhaps some of us were: it may be possible that some people from Finland have joined the Swedish Vikings, when they travelled to Russia). It is also possible that some of Swedish vikings married Finns… and that’s why some of us could have viking ancestors…

Comment #169099

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 10, 2007 5:46 PM (e)

Pumpkinhead wrote:

Like his Viking ancestors who made their living raping, killing, pillaging, and burning peaceful Christian communities, this Scandinavian evolutionist can not tolerate any dissent from the evolutionary theology of the modern secular state.

Normally I don’t answer trolls, but you made it personal.

First, it is highly unlikely I have Viking ancestors even being a Swede by many generations.

My lineage is a mix mainly from central west Europe and northern Sweden. The later can mean such ancestors as Same (genetically traced to northern Africa) or Fins (again central Europe, but east).

Worse, Vikings were a social, and not ethnic, group. Since records doesn’t go that far back it is impossible to tell which were and were not. Vikings were more specifically some of the men of mainly coastal settlements that chose to live by travel, and they were only out as viking (“dra i viking”) when they pillaged. Most scandinavians were never Vikings at any time, but all were “nordmän”.

Second, the traveling people mostly made their living by trade, especially slaves (which they of course could also got from pillaging and not only by population growth among the thralls).

Third, not all of Europe was christian at the time. For example, the Kievan Rus’ principality was probably founded just by scandinavian traders, and it wasn’t christianized until about 200 years after the travels had started to pass the region.

Fourth, I’m not a biologist. That I support science instead of anti-science doesn’t make me an expert in evolutionary biology. So please refrain from mislabeling me and my expertise.

Fifth, and you know this because you are only trying to parody and put up easy targets, a secular state is separated from theology of all kinds.

So let’s see, what remains that you did get right?

Oh, yes, “modern secular state”. That sounds about right.

Comment #169104

Posted by David B. Benson on April 10, 2007 7:09 PM (e)

Torbjeorn Larrson — Well done!

And a third of the way around the globe, it is highly likely that I have Viking ancestors on my father’s side…

Comment #169123

Posted by David Stanton on April 10, 2007 9:19 PM (e)

So, let’t summarize shall we? So far pumpkinhead has, (anonomously): made claims without evidence; failed to answer questions posed to him; and failed to acknowledge when answers were given to his questions. Then, when all else fails, he has stooped to racism and descriptions of sexual preference as arguments.

OK, let’s play shall we? Everyone knows that pumpkinheads are bulbous, orange skined and totally hollow inside. Oh yea, and they scare small children on holloween and undoubtedly have deviant sexual preferences.

Until this guy answere questions put to him I suggest we all ignore him

Comment #169142

Posted by Fross on April 10, 2007 11:40 PM (e)

Dembski:
“Just because the word “evolution” is used doesn’t mean that homage is being paid to Darwin. “Directed evolution” properly falls under ID.”

It’s nice to know that eugenics is an ID thing now. ;)

Comment #169154

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 12:36 AM (e)

Of course, what Steve Reuland seems unaware of is the simple fact that “directed evolution” and “intelligent design” are synonymous terms. The whole premise of intelligent design is that evolution is directed, and the whole premise of the Darwinian model is that evolution is undirected.

Comment #169155

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 12:51 AM (e)

Fross wrote:

It’s nice to know that eugenics is an ID thing now. ;)

Clever, but eugenics predates intelligent design by several decades, and is based on the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” concept. Odd that Darwinians felt compelled to give natural selection a “helping hand”, as it were.

No, trying to pin the Holocaust on ID won’t work, even as a jest.

Comment #169157

Posted by Ross on April 11, 2007 1:23 AM (e)

C Bass said:

Of course, what Steve Reuland seems unaware of is the simple fact that “directed evolution” and “intelligent design” are synonymous terms. The whole premise of intelligent design is that evolution is directed, and the whole premise of the Darwinian model is that evolution is undirected.

I actually find this post fascinating. At most, the poster has read the first paragraph, for any further would reveal that the paper is not about evolutionary theory as much as it is about protein engineering.

Even more curious, Rueland defines directed evolution in a very simple manner: the use of natural selection to target favorable traits. The poster, if he read past the first paragraph, had to actually have read the following sentence:

“you apply random mutagenesis to whole or part of your protein, you screen for the properties you’re looking for, and you repeat the process as necessary.”

This sentence alone is clearly the opposite of ID once you realize that “properties the scientists select for” is the analogue of a selection pressure. But even more is illuminated:

“In other words, you use the Darwinian mechanism, the very mechanism that ID advocates have spent the last decade fruitlessly arguing is incapable of doing the very things we see it doing in the lab.”

I doubt this poster is troll, since he hasn’t accused anyone of alternate sexual preferences. So the unfortunate conclusion is that this poor human being went specifically to a site refuting an ID argument and then not only ignoring the article but making a comment that has the intelligibility of a 9 year old.

The “eugenics” comment further illustrates this. The obvious, clever implication of this statement is that, because ID supposedly is “directed evolution,” the mechanism of Intelligent Design would be the teleological selection of people or animals depending on teleologically determined “wanted traits.” In essence, it would be saying that, as opposed to natural selection, artificial selection is occuring, i.e. eugenics.

Comment #169161

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 11, 2007 1:38 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Of course, what Steve Reuland seems unaware of is the simple fact that “directed evolution” and “intelligent design” are synonymous terms.

You know, if I am somehow unaware of this “simple fact”, so too are Matti Leisola and Ossi Turunen. In their paper, “directed evolution” is used synonymously with “Darwinian methods”. Their entire argument is to denigrate directed evolution techniques as being inadequate when compared to design techniques (at some point in the future at least). These are things you would know if you had actually bothered to read the paper.

How much simpler their argument would have been if they had just declared all methods of protein engineering to be synonymous with ID! It’s too bad Bill Dembski didn’t straighten them out on this beforehand, because otherwise they could have saved themselves the effort of writing the paper. Instead we have the comical situation in which Dembksi claims that this “pro-ID” article doesn’t know that the methods it’s attacking are really ID methods!

The whole premise of intelligent design is that evolution is directed, and the whole premise of the Darwinian model is that evolution is undirected.

No, the premise of ID is that evolution either doesn’t happen, or that it requires some sort of intervention by an agent outside of nature (and that’s being as charitable as possible – we all know that the actual agent in question is G-O-D). Directed evolution techniques operate under the exact opposite premise. Namely that mutation and selection – which are “natural” and “materialistic” processes that IDists strenuously argue are incapable of doing anything – can by themselves create novel phenotypes.

I guess next we’ll be hearing how wind tunnel experiments prove that “intelligent design”, and not godless material forces, are what really causes aircraft to lift-off. I mean, hey, it takes an experimenter to direct the air flowing through the wind tunnel, right? It must be ID!

Comment #169164

Posted by Anton Mates on April 11, 2007 2:08 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Of course, what Steve Reuland seems unaware of is the simple fact that “directed evolution” and “intelligent design” are synonymous terms. The whole premise of intelligent design is that evolution is directed, and the whole premise of the Darwinian model is that evolution is undirected.

In the very next post, C Bass wrote:

Clever, but eugenics predates intelligent design by several decades, and is based on the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” concept. Odd that Darwinians felt compelled to give natural selection a “helping hand”, as it were.

Does he contradict himself? Very well, then he contradicts himself. He is large, he contains multitudes.

Comment #169172

Posted by steve_h on April 11, 2007 3:08 AM (e)

Fross didn’t mention that his Dembski quote came from a new post at ID in reply to this post.

Is “Directed Evolution” Darwinian?

William Demsbski wrote:

In reading Reuland’s critique, try to keep track of “rational design,” “directed evolution,” and “Darwinian methods.” Reuland conflates the last two. In so doing, Reuland completely misses the boat. So let me spell it out: DIRECTED EVOLUTION IS NON-DARWINIAN. DARWINIAN EVOLUTION IS NON-DIRECTED. I’ve been saying this now for close to a decade (see ch. 4 of my book No Free Lunch). Just because the word “evolution” is used doesn’t mean that homage is being paid to Darwin. “Directed evolution” properly falls under ID.

Despite Steve Reuland’s help here, Dembski still misses the point that the paper is describing human protein engineers doing the “directed evolution”.

Comment #169205

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 11, 2007 7:35 AM (e)

I am going to do a follow up comment on my “Viking” comment, since I didn’t want to lengthen my original one. The reason is that since I’m not an historian or biologist I found the wikipedia notes I dug up in preparation fascinating.

First, scandinavians may be responsible for the foundation of Russia:

“From the historiographical point of view, Kievan Rus’ is considered a predecessor state of three modern East Slavic nations: Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. […] The Rus’ people (i. e. mobile groups of warriors and traders of Scandinavian origin) probably dominated what is now northwestern Russia since the eighth century. In the early ninth they became loosely organized under the Rus’ Khaganate, which may be regarded as a predecessor state to the Kievan Rus’. According to the Primary Chronicle, the earliest chronicle of Kievan Rus′, a Varangian (Viking) named Rurik first established himself in Novgorod, located in modern Russia (he was selected as common ruler by several Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes) in about 860 before moving south and extending his authority to Kiev.”

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus )

Muuuch more impressive than mere viking tomfoolery IMHO. Anyone can scare the shit out of others, but inadvertently founding empires is not for all to do. And the east traveling nordmän were mainly swedes AFAIK. ;-)

Second, a recent evolutionary result is that the Sami group goes in all probability back to the Berbers of North Africa despite previous hypotheses on Asian origins:

“The research indicates that 95.6% of Saami mtDNA originated in the Iberia refugia while only 4.4% is of Siberian-Asiatic origin (Tambets 2004). A genetic link has been established between the Sami and the Berbers of North Africa going back 9000 years (Achilli 2005). Sami Y chromosomes indicate that 29.8% originated in the Iberia refugia and 58.2% originated in Eastern Europe (Tambets 2004)

The autosomal classic markers shows that the Sami have no close relatives in any population including their closest linguistic relatives but are in general more closely related to Europeans than people of other continents. The closest of the distant relatives are Finnish people, but this is probably due to more recent immigration of Finnish people into the Sami areas, and the assimilation of the Sami population into the mainstream population in today’s Finland (Meinila 2001).

The Sami are no more closely related to the Siberian and Mongol populations than other European populations (Niskanen 2002), in contrast to the historically held view that the Sami are of Siberian-Asian origin. The genetic distances between the Sami and the rest of the world are due to founder effects and genetic drift resulting from their small and isolated population.”

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_people )

Now, if I were a creationist I wouldn’t know this, because founder effects and genetic drift doesn’t exist in their fantasy world. I on the other hand appreciate my possible forefathers (or rather foremothers, see the mtDNA :-) history.

Comment #169231

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 9:32 AM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

Does he contradict himself?

Nope.

Eugenics is about breeding phenotypes. Intelligent design is not. In this case, it’s about “breeding” proteins. “Breeding” is in quotes since proteins don’t replicate, but must be manufactured.

Comment #169240

Posted by David Stanton on April 11, 2007 9:59 AM (e)

So “directed evolution” is the same as “intelligent design” but eugenics is not intelligent design because you are “breeding” phenotypes and not “breeding” proteins? Where do phenotypic variants come from? In both cases you are selecting certain nucleotide sequences, produced by “random” mutations. There is absolutely no difference.

You can’t have it both ways. Either “directed evolution” (in the sense of selecting between variants) is ID and therefore eugenics is by definition ID, or the two terms are not synonomous. Of course they are not the same. You can’t claim credit for all the advancements of science and at the same time blame science for all the evils in the world. If you did that, you would either be a hypocrite, or Amish.

Comment #169251

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 10:57 AM (e)

Ross wrote:

I actually find this post fascinating. At most, the poster has read the first paragraph, for any further would reveal that the paper is not about evolutionary theory as much as it is about protein engineering.

Engineering proteins is precisely what intelligent design is about.

Even more curious, Rueland defines directed evolution in a very simple manner: the use of natural selection to target favorable traits. The poster, if he read past the first paragraph, had to actually have read the following sentence:

“you apply random mutagenesis to whole or part of your protein, you screen for the properties you’re looking for, and you repeat the process as necessary.”

This sentence alone is clearly the opposite of ID once you realize that “properties the scientists select for” is the analogue of a selection pressure. But even more is illuminated:

On the contrary, when you involve “screen[ing] for the properties you’re looking for”, you’ve entered the realm of intelligent design, and have exited the realm of Darwinian undirected, unscreened evolution. When you do the selecting yourself, you are not invoking “natural” selection at all. Once you start “target[ing] favorable traits”, where “favorable” is defined by the scientists doing the engineering, you are talking about ID, and are not talking about Darwinian evolution. When you insist that “properties the scientists select for” is analogous to natural selection, you are admitting that the selection is not natural, and therefore not Darwinian.

Comment #169255

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 11:04 AM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

Where do phenotypic variants come from? In both cases you are selecting certain nucleotide sequences, produced by “random” mutations. There is absolutely no difference.

No.

In the case of eugenics, you are selecting/de-selecting human phenotypes. In the case of the article, you are selecting proteins independent of phenotypes. You are not using the resulting proteins to modify human phenotypes.

Claiming that there is “absolutely no difference” is willful blindness.

Comment #169263

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 11, 2007 11:25 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

In this case, it’s about “breeding” proteins. “Breeding” is in quotes since proteins don’t replicate, but must be manufactured.

That’s just plain wrong. I’m not sure if it’s relevant to the point you were trying to make, if there is one, but directed evolution experiments involve replicating organisms or DNA sequences from which protein are derived. Although it is possible to manufacture proteins directly, it would be impractical.

Directed evolution is protein breeding. Not metaphorically, but literally.

In the case of the article, you are selecting proteins independent of phenotypes.

If you were selecting proteins independent of phenotype, you wouldn’t be selecting for anything. The phenotype is, by definition, the thing you are selecting.

Comment #169264

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 11:34 AM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

These are things you would know if you had actually bothered to read the paper.

I can only go by the abstract, as I am not in a position to fork over thirty-two bucks American for the full article, and must defer to your representation of it. However, the abstract does mention:

Rapid progress and impressive results have been made towards this goal using rational design and random techniques or a combination of both.

There is also overreliance on the Darwinian blind search to obtain practical results. In the long run, random methods cannot replace insight in constructing life-like proteins. For the near future, however, in enzyme development, we need to rely on a combination of both.

So they confine the Darwinian aspect to the search, and apparently not the selection, which has been my point all along.

It’s interesting that the Darwinian aspect is random, when Darwinians spend so much ink trying to disavow the Darwinian model as being random at any level.

This is a pro-Darwinian blog, so it stands to reason that a pro-Darwinian interpretation will be accepted and a pro-ID interpretation rejected. But your arguments are self-contradicting:

No, the premise of ID is that evolution either doesn’t happen, or that it requires some sort of intervention by an agent outside of nature…

Well, no, it doesn’t require “intervention by an agent outside of nature” at all, unless you consider Man to be “outside of nature”. Of course, we do exactly that on a regular basis, when we claim that products of Man are “unnatural”. But I digress…

Since an outside agent (the scientist) is intervening in this case, it is clearly an example of ID.

Comment #169265

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 11:46 AM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

That’s just plain wrong. I’m not sure if it’s relevant to the point you were trying to make, if there is one, but directed evolution experiments involve replicating organisms or DNA sequences from which protein are derived. Although it is possible to manufacture proteins directly, it would be impractical.

I never claimed that proteins had to be manufactured “directly”, only that they had to be manufactured, as they don’t self-replicate. You implicitly agree: “…from which protein are derived…”

Again, once Man does the selecting, based on Man’s criteria of what is “favorable”, you are no longer in the Darwinian realm. If Man is introducing the random variations in the DNA sequence (rather than letting Time do it), then it’s still ID. You are still effectively manufacturing proteins, and selecting the ones you want while discarding the rest.

ID doesn’t deny that the mechanism of random variation + natural selection occurs in nature. If you believe it does, you are misinformed.

Comment #169276

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 11, 2007 12:14 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

I can only go by the abstract, as I am not in a position to fork over thirty-two bucks American for the full article, and must defer to your representation of it.

Give me an email address and I’ll send you a pdf. You really need to read the article before commenting on it.

So they confine the Darwinian aspect to the search, and apparently not the selection, which has been my point all along.

Nope. Here’s what the authors wrote:

Leisola and Turunen wrote:

Darwinian evolution is the inspiration behind this. In the extreme form, this means avoiding protein design principles altogether and relying instead on huge sequence libraries and carefully designed selection methods.

Those “carefully designed selection methods” are included under Darwinian evolution.

Even if the authors had not said it directly, it makes no sense to exclude selection from Darwinian evolution since selection is the very essence of what Darwinian evolution is! It is not a random search.

C Bass wrote:

I never claimed that proteins had to be manufactured “directly”, only that they had to be manufactured, as they don’t self-replicate. You implicitly agree: “…from which protein are derived…”

Yes, I agree that proteins don’t self-replicate. However, you don’t need an experimenter to make them, living organisms do this by themselves. So how does this make protein breeding different than eugenics?

Again, once Man does the selecting, based on Man’s criteria of what is “favorable”, you are no longer in the Darwinian realm.

That’s simply untrue. The mechanism is the same. It doesn’t matter who or what does the selecting. The experimenter does not determine the resulting sequence, he just determines the selective pressure.

As I pointed out, you are effectively saying that it’s impossible to study natural phenomenon in the lab, because once you involve “Man”, it’s no longer natural. That’s just silly.

ID doesn’t deny that the mechanism of random variation + natural selection occurs in nature.

ID doesn’t deny that mutation and selection occur, it just says that they’re are not capable of designing organisms (at least not beyond some undefined threshold). Directed evolution experiments show that this is wrong. Anything that can be done via directed evolution can be done by nature much more easily.

Comment #169285

Posted by David Stanton on April 11, 2007 12:30 PM (e)

Thanks Steve. It seems that C Bass doesn’t understand that “selecting proteins” IS selecting phenotypes. How does he think they do this, by selecting a particular nucleotide or amino acid sequence? If they knew what sequence they wanted in the first place they wouldn’t have to use random mutations, they could just use site-directed mutagenesis. What they really do is test the “phenotype” or function of the protein. And even if they did select directly on the protein sequence, that is still selecting on “phenotype”. It certainly is not selecting on genotype. It is really hard to agrue with people who do not read the papers and don’t know the meaning of the words.

You are also correct that “artificial” selection is still “Darwinian”. It doesn’t matter whether the selection agent is human or not. Selection still has predictable consequences and limitations. Darwin knew all about artificial selection. He also knew it wasn’t the only alternative to “natural” selection.

Keep the faith bro. And oh yea, “go mutations.”

Comment #169299

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 2:15 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

Give me an email address and I’ll send you a pdf. You really need to read the article before commenting on it.

Can you use the e-mail address I supply each time I post? I’d rather not publish it on a blog page – don’t want the inevitable spam…

Thanks in advance – will this thread be cold by the time I read it?

Comment #169302

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 11, 2007 2:34 PM (e)

Done!

The thread may indeed be stale by the time you finish reading the paper, but I still get emails every time someone leaves a comment. I’ll be glad to keep discussing it with you, but I can’t promise timely responses.

Comment #169304

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 2:37 PM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

It seems that C Bass doesn’t understand that “selecting proteins” IS selecting phenotypes.

I admit error in using the term “phenotype”, which is apparently an ambiguous term. From Wikipedia:

The phenotype of an individual organism is either its total physical appearance and constitution or a specific manifestation of a trait, such as size, eye color, or behavior that varies between individuals.

I was using the former definition (“total physical appearance and constitution”) while you guys were using the latter (“a specific manifestation of a trait”). I should have simply used the term “organism”, specifically, human.

Eugenics is the selection/de-selection of people, not individual proteins.

Comment #169325

Posted by Raging Bee on April 11, 2007 4:31 PM (e)

C Bass: Please describe a cause-to-effect link between evolution and eugenics. Who practiced eugenics, and what was their connection, if any, to Darwin or evolution?

Comment #169337

Posted by David Stanton on April 11, 2007 5:22 PM (e)

C Bass:

Sorry if I was too harsh regarding terminology. The term “phenotype” can de somewhat ambiguous. By the way, wikipedia is probably not the best source for definitions of technical terms.

On another note, your willingness to read the paper puts you in another league from most of the antievolution types who post here. You have indeed demonstrated a desire for open discourse and the true spirit of scientific inquiry. Thanks also to Steve for helping out.

I still have to disagree with your characterization of eugenics however. Selection against individuals often amounts to nothing more than selection against variant forms of single proteins. For example, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, SCID and many other diseases are caused by simple genetic changes that alter only one protein. It is true that not allowing certain individuals to breed may not always be for such simple reasons, but then again it often can be. Most of the time, genotype determines phenotype through intermediate stage of proteins. And eugenics may be based on single or multiple traits with heritable components. In any event, the basics of selection are the same, even if the genetic basis of some traits are not well understood.

Comment #169348

Posted by C Bass on April 11, 2007 6:27 PM (e)

Just a brief note to say thanks for the paper. I have read through it once and have skimmed it a number of times. Of course, I am biased, and therefore see design where a committed Darwinian might not see it. I want to spend some time absorbing the paper, making sure my biases aren’t misleading me, but off hand, it appears that the paper is a survey of different methods ranging from random approaches (this is the part that’s inspired by the Darwinian model) through rational design, and the current state of these various methods and approaches.

As a side note, it’s interesting to see that this paper cites an article written by Michael Behe (co-authored by DW Snoke). If that doesn’t make this a pro-ID paper, nothing can! :)

Comment #169428

Posted by Anton Mates on April 12, 2007 4:53 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

I was using the former definition (“total physical appearance and constitution”) while you guys were using the latter (“a specific manifestation of a trait”). I should have simply used the term “organism”, specifically, human.

No, that wouldn’t be appropriate. An organism is not a phenotype; it has one. And production of a given sort of protein is included under either definition of phenotype. It’s just that the total phenotype involves other aspects too.

Eugenics is the selection/de-selection of people, not individual proteins.

And directed-evolution protein engineering is the selection/de-selection of microorganisms, not individual proteins. The trait that the engineer is selecting for is the tendency to produce a protein with certain properties; the trait that the eugenicist is selecting for is intelligence or diligence or physical beauty or whatever it is the eugenicist thinks is positive and heritable.

Comment #169490

Posted by C Bass on April 12, 2007 10:21 AM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

C Bass wrote:

I was using the former definition (“total physical appearance and constitution”) while you guys were using the latter (“a specific manifestation of a trait”). I should have simply used the term “organism”, specifically, human.

No, that wouldn’t be appropriate. An organism is not a phenotype; it has one. And production of a given sort of protein is included under either definition of phenotype. It’s just that the total phenotype involves other aspects too.

Of course it would be appropriate; I never claimed that an organism was a phenotype – that’s just an inference on your part. I simply said I should have substituted the term “organism” for “phenotype” in the discussion, and the context would allow it, given that the organisms in question (people) would be selected/de-delected based on the phenotype they possess.

When M Sanger was advocating the sterilization of the “feeble-minded”, I really don’t think she was concerned with individual proteins, although I suppose you could make the argument that such was what she was “really” doing, advocating the de-selection of certain proteins from the human population. But such an argument would seem to be a … well, a stretch, to put it mildly, at least to a “simple-minded” layman such as myself …

Comment #169552

Posted by Anton Mates on April 12, 2007 4:36 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Of course it would be appropriate; I never claimed that an organism was a phenotype – that’s just an inference on your part. I simply said I should have substituted the term “organism” for “phenotype” in the discussion,

Well, yes. Hence the inference. Otherwise substituting one term for the other would make no sense, and indeed it doesn’t.

and the context would allow it, given that the organisms in question (people) would be selected/de-delected based on the phenotype they possess.

Just as the microorganisms are selected/deselected by protein engineers based on the phenotype they possess. It’s precisely the same method.

When M Sanger was advocating the sterilization of the “feeble-minded”, I really don’t think she was concerned with individual proteins, although I suppose you could make the argument that such was what she was “really” doing, advocating the de-selection of certain proteins from the human population.

Not at all. She was advocating the elimination of the trait of feeble-mindedness from the population–which, as a matter of fact, is largely dependent on the structure and presence/absence of various proteins in the brain–by sterilizing the carriers of that trait. Selection pressures, whether natural or artificial, select from a population of organisms, for particular traits. If a eugenicist recommends that Albert Einstein have twenty kids, s/he’s not hoping for twenty Einsteins, but rather for people who inherit particular desirable traits Einstein possessed, such as high IQ.

Comment #169595

Posted by C Bass on April 12, 2007 11:45 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

So they confine the Darwinian aspect to the search, and apparently not the selection, which has been my point all along.

Nope. Here’s what the authors wrote:

Leisola and Turunen wrote: wrote:

Darwinian evolution is the inspiration behind this. In the extreme form, this means avoiding protein design principles altogether and relying instead on huge sequence libraries and carefully designed selection methods.

Those “carefully designed selection methods” are included under Darwinian evolution.

They cannot be, as they are designed, and the Darwinian model forbids design, claiming that any appearance of design is illusory. The design in those “carefully designed selection methods” are real, not illusory.

Natural selection is not a product of design.

Steve Reuland wrote:

Even if the authors had not said it directly, it makes no sense to exclude selection from Darwinian evolution since selection is the very essence of what Darwinian evolution is! It is not a random search.

Nobody is trying to “exclude selection from Darwinian evolution” at all. On the contrary, I am simply trying to maintain the demarcation between natural selection (which is Darwinian) and artificial, designed selection (which is not).

Steve Reuland wrote:

C Bass wrote:

Again, once Man does the selecting, based on Man’s criteria of what is “favorable”, you are no longer in the Darwinian realm.

That’s simply untrue. The mechanism is the same. It doesn’t matter who or what does the selecting. The experimenter does not determine the resulting sequence, he just determines the selective pressure.

Yes, the mechanism is the same, but that ultimately doesn’t matter, because the Darwinian model is defined as being undirected, and having no goal(s). Once you direct the mechanism toward a goal, it no longer fits within the definition of Darwinian. It’s really as simple as that.

Steve Reuland wrote:

As I pointed out, you are effectively saying that it’s impossible to study natural phenomenon in the lab, because once you involve “Man”, it’s no longer natural. That’s just silly.

Indeed it is silly – good thing I’m not doing what you accuse me of…

There is a difference between studying natural phenomena in a lab, and applying the fruits of such study to produce a desired, preconceived result, whether it be the fabrication of a novel protein or the improvement of an existing one. Engineering is the application of knowledge, not the accumulation thereof.

Steve Reuland wrote:

ID doesn’t deny that mutation and selection occur, it just says that they’re are not capable of designing organisms (at least not beyond some undefined threshold). Directed evolution experiments show that this is wrong. Anything that can be done via directed evolution can be done by nature much more easily.

I respectfully disagree.

The article states that the average protein is composed of approximately 300 amino acids, and since there are 20 amino acids to choose from, there are, again on average, 20^300 possible sequences, which is a large number. The authors refer to this as the sequence-space (page 2). The article goes on to say that there are islands of functionality in this sequence space, where viable protein structures exist, separated by rather large gaps. In the specific case of ß-lactamases, which they use as an example, they quantify this distance between “functional islands”:

When structural and genetic variation among ß-lactamases from different sources was analyzed, it was concluded that out of 10^199 possible structures, 10^122 are active (Axe 2004). Thus, only 1 out of 10^77 structures is functional.

Since there are islands of functionality within this sequence space, it stands to reason that modifying a protein’s amino acid sequence will eventually move it off the island on which it happens to reside, rendering it unviable. Because of this, the authors conclude:

a fully random search is hardly a way to create novel proteins for biotechnological use. This does not, however, prevent us from utilizing a random search in focused areas.

So, the Darwinian blind search is not only subjected to artificial selection on the back end, it is focused onto specific regions of the sequence space on the front end. In their discussion of localized randomization, they list four criteria that must be met for directed evolution to be successful, the second of which applies here:

The function must also be biologically or evolutionarily feasible. In practice, this means that there exists a mutational pathway to get from here to there through ever-improving variants.

The authors observe that this second criterion confines the search to a functional/structural island (page 3).

A truly Darwinian mechanism is blissfully unaware of these islands of functionality, and subsequently is unconcerned with where randomization leads. Given that there is a large chasm between these islands, it stands to reason that the majority of random mutations would be deleterious, and that is what we observe.

Directed evolution, on the other hand, seeks to avoid those chasms of nonviability, and indeed uses the islands of functionality as both a starting point and a boundry of exploration. Therefore, although the process may be inspired by the Darwinian model, it is simply unwarranted to claim that it is Darwinian in its own right. Since there is intervention from outside agency directing both the randomizations (confining them to specific segments of the sequence space) and the selections, guiding them to a prespecified target, it is indeed warranted to claim that this is a process of design, one that just so happens to have some admittedly Darwinian components.

Anton Mates wrote:

[D]irected-evolution protein engineering is the selection/de-selection of microorganisms, not individual proteins. The trait that the engineer is selecting for is the tendency to produce a protein with certain properties; the trait that the eugenicist is selecting for is intelligence or diligence or physical beauty or whatever it is the eugenicist thinks is positive and heritable.

This is a convenient way of presenting it, if promoting a specific point of view is the objective. However it is at least equally as valid to state that, since the reason the engineer is selecting organisms is for the proteins they produce, the individual proteins are indeed the target of the selection process. This is, after all, the point of the endeavor, the production of proteins, not so much the production of bacteria. The bacteria are simply a necessary artifact.

Eugenics, on the other hand, is indeed focused on the organisms themselves – the organisms and their phenotypes are not merely a necessary artifact of the process, but are indeed the target of the endeavor.

Bottom line: Equating protein engineering to eugenics is not necessitated, and depends on philosophical viewpoints.

The paper does go on to discuss the improvement of enzyme properties through purely rational design, with no Darwinian random searches being used at all (pages 3-4).

On page 5, the authors make an observation, and voice agreement:

It is often said that random genetic methods to improve enzyme properties “rely on simple but powerful Darwinian
principles of mutation and selection” (Johannes and Zhao 2006). We agree.

The first thing that strikes me is that a principle is an abstraction of the mechanism; a process that relies on Darwinian principles is not necessarily a Darwnian process in its own right, as I have already discussed. The authors then go on to observe:

[T]he transition from one fold to another is very problematic. Even inside a fold family, most transitions are very challenging.

Previous to this, they list a set of three major obstacles they consider to be the “most significant”:

1. Lack of a theory for structure design (i.e., specifying a structure that is suited to a target function)
2. Lack of a general approach for sequence design (i.e., specifying a sequence that folds to a target structure)
3. Overreliance on the Darwinian methodology

Given that they are discussing both designs and specifications, coupled with the criticism of an “overreliance on the Darwinian methodology”, it stands to reason that they are, at some level, recommending a design approach to the overall enterprise. This idea is reinforced in their concluding paragraph (page 6):

In spite of the progress, we still do not have a general theory on how a sequence produces a specific structure and how a structure determines a function. Therefore, a blind Darwinian search within a known protein scaffold is often used to modify proteins. Unfortunately, blind searches have hard resource limits whereas insight has not. Therefore, in the long run, blind searches are of limited value in compensating our present ignorance.

The authors admit that they have a long way to go, but they definitely seem to think that abandoning (or at the very least, minimizing dependence on) Darwinian methods is the most viable long-term direction to take. The first sentence quoted above strongly suggests a reverse-engineering approach to protein functionality, mapping structure to function, and (hopefully) distilling that knowledge into a generalized theory that can subsequently be used for novel protein design and construction.

So, based on these observations, it seems unwarranted to claim that this paper absolutely cannot be construed as pro-ID.

Comment #169596

Posted by C Bass on April 12, 2007 11:53 PM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

When M Sanger was advocating the sterilization of the “feeble-minded”, I really don’t think she was concerned with individual proteins, although I suppose you could make the argument that such was what she was “really” doing, advocating the de-selection of certain proteins from the human population.

Not at all. She was advocating the elimination of the trait of feeble-mindedness from the population–which, as a matter of fact, is largely dependent on the structure and presence/absence of various proteins in the brain–by sterilizing the carriers of that trait. Selection pressures, whether natural or artificial, select from a population of organisms, for particular traits.

Interesting that you exclaim, “Not at all”, and then follow up with what is essentially a reiteration of what I said.

If you read it carefully, and don’t filter it through preconceptions and biases, you might notice that.

Comment #169627

Posted by Richard Simons on April 13, 2007 7:21 AM (e)

C Bass says

I am simply trying to maintain the demarcation between natural selection (which is Darwinian) and artificial, designed selection (which is not).

… the Darwinian model is defined as being undirected, and having no goal(s). Once you direct the mechanism toward a goal, it no longer fits within the definition of Darwinian.

There is a difference between studying natural phenomena in a lab, and applying the fruits of such study to produce a desired, preconceived result,

… the individual proteins are indeed the target of the selection process. This is, after all, the point of the endeavor, the production of proteins, not so much the production of bacteria. The bacteria are simply a necessary artifact.

Eugenics, on the other hand, is indeed focused on the organisms themselves – the organisms and their phenotypes are not merely a necessary artifact of the process, but are indeed the target of the endeavor.

It seems to me that you are trying to draw sharp demarcation lines where they do not in fact exist. For example, an important method of studying natural phenomena in the lab is to apply the fruits of your previous knowledge and see what happens.

I disagree that altering populations of bacteria so they have large amounts of a specific protein and altering human populations so they have large amounts of intelligence are conceptually very different.

Yes, the mechanism is the same, but that ultimately doesn’t matter, because the Darwinian model is defined as being undirected, and having no goal(s). Once you direct the mechanism toward a goal, it no longer fits within the definition of Darwinian.

I always understood this to mean that the organism being selected has no goals. In the case of artificial selection the humans doing the selection may have goals. In the case of natural selection, there is no evidence of any outside agency having goals.

Comment #169639

Posted by C Bass on April 13, 2007 9:26 AM (e)

Richard Simons wrote:

It seems to me that you are trying to draw sharp demarcation lines where they do not in fact exist. For example, an important method of studying natural phenomena in the lab is to apply the fruits of your previous knowledge and see what happens.

Yes, to see what happens, the implication being that you don’t know what happens yet. Once the phenomenon is observed, verified and cataloged, it ceases to be study and begins to move into the realm of application.

Also, I never claimed that the demarcation was “sharp”, only that it exists.

I disagree that altering populations of bacteria so they have large amounts of a specific protein and altering human populations so they have large amounts of intelligence are conceptually very different.

Which rather suggests that you don’t see much difference between bacteria and human beings, “conceptually”.

Comment #169644

Posted by C Bass on April 13, 2007 9:51 AM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

When M Sanger was advocating the sterilization of the “feeble-minded”, I really don’t think she was concerned with individual proteins, although I suppose you could make the argument that such was what she was “really” doing, advocating the de-selection of certain proteins from the human population.

Not at all. She was advocating the elimination of the trait of feeble-mindedness from the population–which, as a matter of fact, is largely dependent on the structure and presence/absence of various proteins in the brain–by sterilizing the carriers of that trait.

Upon reflection, the following question occurs to me: What made her so certain that “feeble-mindedness” was an inheritable trait? And even with our present knowledge you allude to, are we certain that all forms of “feeble-mindedness” are inheritable?

Hell, exactly how is “feeble-mindedness” defined, both then and now?

Comment #169652

Posted by Raging Bee on April 13, 2007 10:26 AM (e)

C Bass: Since my question, you have made six posts here, but have so far refused to answer my question about the (alleged) connection between the theory of evolution and the practice of eugenics. IS there really a connection? Or are you just tossing off an easy lie because you’re too lazy to deal with the issues in depth, and need a quick diversion?

Comment #169666

Posted by CJO on April 13, 2007 11:53 AM (e)

Isn’t this just the same, tired line of argumentation that we went through months (a year!?) ago with the Genetic Algorithm business and a version of the Traveling Salesman, in which it was conclusively shown that the target of such a process is not contained within the algorithm?

C. Bass:
The point is this. A fully, no-kidding, all-the-way Darwinian process can occur in a domain chosen by an agent outside of that process. You appear to me to be equivocating on the fact that the Darwinian process that led to the diversity of life on Earth was not so constrained, and had to take place in the wide-open domain we call the universe. Using Darwinian principles in a smaller domain, such as the engineering of a single protein, lacks the grandeur of three-plus billion years of organic evolution perhaps, but it does not fail to be Darwinian just because of the outside constraints imposed on it.

Comment #169696

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 13, 2007 1:32 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

They cannot be, as they are designed, and the Darwinian model forbids design, claiming that any appearance of design is illusory. The design in those “carefully designed selection methods” are real, not illusory.

This is just semantics. I contend that Darwinian evolution creates “real” designs. I know that some authors like to call it the “appearance” of design, but in my opinion this is needlessly misleading. The point of calling it an “appearance” of design is to contrast what happens in Darwinian evolution vs. conscious, forward-thinking design. But directed evolution is definitely not conscious, forward-thinking design, because the experimenter has no way of knowing what the results are going to be ahead of time.

If you insist on claiming that Darwinian evolution creates only the “appearance” of design, then so too does directed evolution.

Yes, the mechanism is the same, but that ultimately doesn’t matter, because the Darwinian model is defined as being undirected, and having no goal(s). Once you direct the mechanism toward a goal, it no longer fits within the definition of Darwinian. It’s really as simple as that.

I would say it really does matter that the mechanism is the same. If the mechanism is the same, then anything that one can do can also be accomplished by the other, at least in principle.

I would take exception to the claim that Darwinian evolution cannot be goal-directed. It is directed to the goal of increasing fitness. When we say that evolution is not goal-directed, we mean that there’s no ultimate end-product that is being striven for throughout the long historical process of natural history. We don’t mean that there aren’t any short-term goals being accomplished. Making a protein better match certain fitness criteria is a goal, whether it’s done by an experimenter or by the environment.

At any rate it’s clear that the authors of the paper considered directed evolution to be “Darwinian”. The ID people can’t keep their story straight because Dembski has previously relabeled all evolutionary computation as “design” so he doesn’t have to deal with all that pesky evidence that he’s wrong.

There is a difference between studying natural phenomena in a lab, and applying the fruits of such study to produce a desired, preconceived result, whether it be the fabrication of a novel protein or the improvement of an existing one. Engineering is the application of knowledge, not the accumulation thereof.

And what would that difference be? Directed evolution experiments are, as often as not, intended to elucidate the features of a protein’s structure and function. They aren’t just used for engineering purposes, and I can’t see any reason why we’re supposed to think of them as being in a totally different category when they are.

I respectfully disagree.

The article states that the average protein is composed of approximately 300 amino acids, and since there are 20 amino acids to choose from, there are, again on average, 20^300 possible sequences, which is a large number. The authors refer to this as the sequence-space (page 2). The article goes on to say that there are islands of functionality in this sequence space, where viable protein structures exist, separated by rather large gaps.

And in this claim they are wrong. They cite only one paper (written by an IDist!) in order to back up this claim. Dozens of other papers show otherwise. The evidence suggests that all proteins are connected in sequence space by neutral networks.

Besides which, I myself as a protein chemist have to ask the question: On what hierarchical level are proteins isolated into islands of functionality? Individual proteins clearly aren’t, because they have all sorts of close neighbors in sequence space. Proteins are arranged in families, sub-families, super-families, etc. on the basis of sequence identity. Rather than being isolated, they all appear related.

Directed evolution experiments demonstrate that you can go from one protein function to another relatively easily. They also show, though to a lesser degree, that you can go from one protein structure to another. There is no known barrier from going to one protein to any other that’s out there, other than time and lab space of course.

In their discussion of localized randomization, they list four criteria that must be met for directed evolution to be successful, the second of which applies here:

The function must also be biologically or evolutionarily feasible. In practice, this means that there exists a mutational pathway to get from here to there through ever-improving variants.

The authors observe that this second criterion confines the search to a functional/structural island (page 3).

And every time a directed evolution experiment produces a new protein with a new function, it proves that the protein is not confined to a “structural/functional island”. Or at least it proves that these “islands” are more like continents, containing hundreds or thousands of possible functions. And there is every reason to believe that these continents are connected at the edges.

A truly Darwinian mechanism is blissfully unaware of these islands of functionality, and subsequently is unconcerned with where randomization leads.

Same is true with experimenters in directed evolution experiments. No one knows where the boundaries of these “islands” are, or even if they exist. (Let me point out again that this is an IDist term of art, and protein engineers do not perceive any “islands of functionality”.)

Given that there is a large chasm between these islands, it stands to reason that the majority of random mutations would be deleterious, and that is what we observe.

It is not relevant that a majority of mutations are deleterious (actually neutral), what matters is that there is a pathway on the fitness landscape between two different functions. Directed evolution experiments show that these pathways exist, otherwise the experiments wouldn’t produce anything.

Directed evolution, on the other hand, seeks to avoid those chasms of nonviability, and indeed uses the islands of functionality as both a starting point and a boundry of exploration. Therefore, although the process may be inspired by the Darwinian model, it is simply unwarranted to claim that it is Darwinian in its own right.

Directed evolution doesn’t “seek to avoid chasms of nonviability” because it doesn’t recognize their existence. It works the same as evolution in the wild: you mutate something, you apply selection, you repeat. There is nothing that is being consciously avoided by the experimenter. If there are barriers that prevent you from getting a new function, then you won’t get a new function.

Since there is intervention from outside agency directing both the randomizations (confining them to specific segments of the sequence space)…

It is not outside intervention that confines the mutations to a specific segment of the sequence space! It is the fact that you are starting with a given protein sequence and evolving from there. Evolution is a change to that which already exists, not organisms and sequences popping up out of thin air. Although at least some proteins would have needed to arise de novo, the vast majority of proteins out in nature would have arisen from a related protein that already existed.

…and the selections, guiding them to a prespecified target…

The target is not prespecified!!!! That is the important distinction between rational design methods and directed evolution methods. In the former, you pick a target and hope you get the activity you want. In the latter, you screen for the activity you want and allow the sequence to find a target (via Darwinian evolution). If you knew what the target was, you’d just make it directly.

…it is indeed warranted to claim that this is a process of design, one that just so happens to have some admittedly Darwinian components.

I would say it’s both a process of design and Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution designs things. And we can use it to design things for our own purposes.

Comment #169733

Posted by Richard Simons on April 13, 2007 4:09 PM (e)

“I disagree that altering populations of bacteria so they have large amounts of a specific protein and altering human populations so they have large amounts of intelligence are conceptually very different.”

Which rather suggests that you don’t see much difference between bacteria and human beings, “conceptually”.

I was talking about the process of selection, not the objects of the process. Either they are both Darwinian or they are both not Darwinian.

Comment #169786

Posted by Anton Mates on April 13, 2007 7:53 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

They cannot be, as they are designed, and the Darwinian model forbids design, claiming that any appearance of design is illusory. The design in those “carefully designed selection methods” are real, not illusory.

Yes, the mechanism is the same, but that ultimately doesn’t matter, because the Darwinian model is defined as being undirected, and having no goal(s). Once you direct the mechanism toward a goal, it no longer fits within the definition of Darwinian. It’s really as simple as that.

Such a definition of “Darwinian” not only conflicts with the paper in question, but fails to reflect evolutionary theory in any era from Darwin to today. Evolutionary biology is perfectly comfortable with selection pressures being produced by design. Human design, for instance, has influenced the evolution of myriad other species for millions of years. Bedbugs exist because humans chose to make caves into their living quarters. A new species of mosquito evolved in the London subways because humans designed and built a transportation system. And so forth.

For that matter, pretty much every Christian/Muslim/Hindu/etc. evolutionary biologist in the world believes that evolution is the product of design. Hell, Darwin believed that at the time he wrote the Origin.

The only undirectedness required by a Darwinian evolutionary model is with respect to the mutations. The selection pressures can come from anywhere or anyone.

A truly Darwinian mechanism is blissfully unaware of these islands of functionality, and subsequently is unconcerned with where randomization leads. Given that there is a large chasm between these islands, it stands to reason that the majority of random mutations would be deleterious, and that is what we observe.

Directed evolution, on the other hand, seeks to avoid those chasms of nonviability, and indeed uses the islands of functionality as both a starting point and a boundry of exploration.

Um, that’s exactly what happens in natural Darwinian evolution. Precisely because mutations that take an organism off an island of functionality are deleterious, their carriers do not leave viable offspring, and the population is confined to that island. And such an island must be the starting point, or the ancestral organism wouldn’t have been there in the first pace.

Directed evolution is Darwinian.

Comment #169789

Posted by Anton Mates on April 13, 2007 8:00 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

However it is at least equally as valid to state that, since the reason the engineer is selecting organisms is for the proteins they produce, the individual proteins are indeed the target of the selection process. This is, after all, the point of the endeavor, the production of proteins, not so much the production of bacteria. The bacteria are simply a necessary artifact.

Eugenics, on the other hand, is indeed focused on the organisms themselves – the organisms and their phenotypes are not merely a necessary artifact of the process, but are indeed the target of the endeavor.

Let me see if I understand this. If you breed spotted dogs because you want spotted dogs, you’re being Darwinian; but if you breed spotted dogs because you want spotted dog skins, you’re not being Darwinian? That’s your justification for eugenics being the fault of “Darwinians” but protein engineering being ID?

Comment #169792

Posted by Anton Mates on April 13, 2007 8:07 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Richard Simons wrote:

It seems to me that you are trying to draw sharp demarcation lines where they do not in fact exist. For example, an important method of studying natural phenomena in the lab is to apply the fruits of your previous knowledge and see what happens.

Yes, to see what happens, the implication being that you don’t know what happens yet. Once the phenomenon is observed, verified and cataloged, it ceases to be study and begins to move into the realm of application.

At which point it becomes applied science; hence, directed evolution is applied evolutionary theory.

I disagree that altering populations of bacteria so they have large amounts of a specific protein and altering human populations so they have large amounts of intelligence are conceptually very different.

Which rather suggests that you don’t see much difference between bacteria and human beings, “conceptually”.

How does that follow? Bacteria and humans are both error-prone replicators, so they’re both subject to evolutionary processes. They’re also both affected by gravity and killed by fire, for that matter. That doesn’t mean they don’t differ in lots of other ways.

Comment #169794

Posted by Anton Mates on April 13, 2007 8:22 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Upon reflection, the following question occurs to me: What made her so certain that “feeble-mindedness” was an inheritable trait? And even with our present knowledge you allude to, are we certain that all forms of “feeble-mindedness” are inheritable?

Hell, exactly how is “feeble-mindedness” defined, both then and now?

And those problems are exactly why eugenics wouldn’t work very well, even disregarding the ethical issues; most of the traits we’d like to select for are poorly defined and heavily influenced by environment. You might read Gould’s “Mismeasure of Man” for more on historical attempts to measure human mental ability and their social consequences.

Comment #170243

Posted by C Bass on April 16, 2007 12:55 PM (e)

CJO wrote:

You appear to me to be equivocating on the fact that the Darwinian process that led to the diversity of life on Earth was not so constrained, and had to take place in the wide-open domain we call the universe. Using Darwinian principles in a smaller domain, such as the engineering of a single protein, lacks the grandeur of three-plus billion years of organic evolution perhaps, but it does not fail to be Darwinian just because of the outside constraints imposed on it.

The Darwinian model is an unguided process by defintion. Once you add guidance, it simply falls outside that definition. The ones who are equivocating are you guys, by redefining the Darwninian paradigm to suit your argument du jour.

Comment #170249

Posted by CJO on April 16, 2007 1:48 PM (e)

C Bass,

Your argument is very poor, and amounts to a semantic quibble. Moreover, you’re repeating yourself, and failing to add new information.

The only guidance is setting the domain within which the Darwinian process will proceed. Inside that domain, the process is unguided, and Darwinian.

Even selective breeding is just a special case of natural selection, not qualitatively different from any other example of co-evolution. Else, isn’t bee evolution “guided” by the flowering-plant lineage? By your argument, everywhere there is even the hint of “purpose,” Darwinian mechanisms are somehow over-ridden by… well, by what? That seems like a good question for you.

If you are convinced that any random variation/selection process used for a purpose by an agent is not, and cannot be by definition, a Darwinian process, what adjective should we use to describe such a process?

Comment #170276

Posted by Science Avenger on April 16, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

C Bass said:

The Darwinian model is an unguided process by defintion.

Yes, but the unguided, or random part is the genetic side, not the selection side. Let’s take an example. Imagine a population of wolves and a population of deer seperated by mountains they can’t climb over. Now suppose there is a rockslide which creates a pass in the mountains. The wolves will cross over, chase the deer, and the deer might very well evolve more speed to escape them. Evolution, right?

OK, now change the scenario: instead of a rockslide, the pass was made by humans building a road. The wolves still cross, and the deer still evolve speed. Still evolution? Of course.

What if the people made the pass on purpose, not for a road, but to see if the deer would evolve speed? Still evolution? If not, why not?

Now if the humans made the pass and then reached in somehow to the deer’s genetic structure and forced mutations resulting in more speed, THAT would be guided and consequently not evolution.

It’s the randomness in the genetics that is the “unguided” part, not the selection environment. The reason is because even if we set the environment, we can never be sure what will occur. Maybe the deer will get faster, but maybe they will get bigger instead, or able to climb the rocks, or fly, or develop an odor the wolves don’t care for, etc. This is, as others have explained, why when EAs are used, the users don’t know what the result is going to be. If they did, they would just implement it directly, rather than going to the trouble of using the EA in the first place.

Comment #170487

Posted by C Bass on April 17, 2007 2:51 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

C Bass wrote:

They cannot be, as they are designed, and the Darwinian model forbids design, claiming that any appearance of design is illusory. The design in those “carefully designed selection methods” are real, not illusory.

This is just semantics. I contend that Darwinian evolution creates “real” designs. I know that some authors like to call it the “appearance” of design, but in my opinion this is needlessly misleading. The point of calling it an “appearance” of design is to contrast what happens in Darwinian evolution vs. conscious, forward-thinking design.

Wow. This is … amusing. It’s hard to know where to begin…

It’s interesting how quickly the Darwinian camp can equivocate on the illusion of design – it’s an illusion when convenient, but “needlessly misleading” to call it so otherwise. Then you backtrack by trying to justify this differentiation by doing what you chastise me for doing – maintaining a demarcation between an unconscious, unguided, non-forward-thinking process and a guided, conscious, forward-thinking process.

It’s amusing to watch you guys contort your argument into knots in this manner.

If you insist on claiming that Darwinian evolution creates only the “appearance” of design, then so too does directed evolution.

Nonsense. In your own words, there is a difference between “Darwinian evolution [and] conscious, forward-thinking design.” Directed evolution is the latter, given that it involves a conscious entity seeking a specific outcome.

By your logic, any process that involves a random element is “Darwinian”, which is just silly, especially considering how some Darwinians get so miffed whenever this mechanism is described as “random”. What you guys refuse to consider is that this random element is still controlled and directed, and the whole process guided to a preconceived objective. This is in clear contrast to the truly Darwinian mechanism of natural selection, which has no preconceived objective, and no guidance or focusing of the random element.

I would say it really does matter that the mechanism is the same. If the mechanism is the same, then anything that one can do can also be accomplished by the other, at least in principle.

Upon reflection, I would say that the mechanisms are not the same, only similar, as outlined above.

I would take exception to the claim that Darwinian evolution cannot be goal-directed.

I’m not claiming that it “cannot” be “goal-directed”, only that it, in fact, is not.

It is directed to the goal of increasing fitness.

No, it is not. Natural selection only maintains fitness by weeding out the unfit. Random variation is, in most cases (according to you) neutral, and in fewer cases detrimental. In a few cases yet, in the minuscule minority of cases, it is beneficial, but to claim that a random variation has a goal is absurd.

We don’t mean that there aren’t any short-term goals being accomplished.

There aren’t any “goals” of any kind being accomplished. To anthropomorphize the Darwinian process in this manner is silly.

Making a protein better match certain fitness criteria is a goal, whether it’s done by an experimenter or by the environment.

But in nature, there are no “fitness criteria”, no “criteria” of any kind.

Organisms simply survive long enough to reproduce, or they fail to do so. End of story.

There is a difference between studying natural phenomena in a lab, and applying the fruits of such study to produce a desired, preconceived result, whether it be the fabrication of a novel protein or the improvement of an existing one. Engineering is the application of knowledge, not the accumulation thereof.

And what would that difference be?

I just told you.

Directed evolution experiments are, as often as not, intended to elucidate the features of a protein’s structure and function.

“Directed evolution experiments“, yes. Again, there is a difference between experiment and application, even if you are unwilling to see it.

The article states that the average protein is composed of approximately 300 amino acids, and since there are 20 amino acids to choose from, there are, again on average, 20^300 possible sequences, which is a large number. The authors refer to this as the sequence-space (page 2). The article goes on to say that there are islands of functionality in this sequence space, where viable protein structures exist, separated by rather large gaps

And in this claim they are wrong.

So, it’s as simple as that, then, eh?

No, whether the paper is “wrong” is not the issue. What the paper is saying (whether it’s “right” or “wrong”) is the issue. If you want to argue over whether this paper is correct in its assertions, well, this is your blog, go ahead and start another thread on that topic. But here, claiming the paper to be “wrong” is simply an attempt at diversion.

If this paper is wrong in this fundamental claim, on which much of its discussion is based, then why be concerned over whether it’s “pro-ID” or not? I mean, if it’s wrong, why not just let the IDers have it?

They cite only one paper (written by an IDist!) in order to back up this claim.

Hardly relevant, given that they still base a substantial amount of discussion on this one point. Perhaps you should have consulted with the authors to steer them clear of this error.

[Remaining contradictions of the article snipped for brevity]

Listen, the issue under discussion is whether this paper is “pro-ID”, not your personal opinions over how correct the paper is.

(Let me point out again that this is an IDist term of art, and protein engineers do not perceive any “islands of functionality”.)

Then you are hereby conceding that this is, in fact, an ID paper, given that it uses ID “terms of art” and bases a discussion on an assertion that is allegedly an IDist concept, the “islands of functionality” in the amino acid sequence space.

Comment #170491

Posted by C Bass on April 17, 2007 3:10 PM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

C Bass wrote:

The Darwinian model is an unguided process by defintion.

Yes, but …

There are no “but”s about it. Your contrived examples are tiresome, as is your conflation of “Darwninian process” and “evolution”.

CJO,

Your argument is very poor, and you are refusing to listen, hence the repetition.

The only guidance is setting the domain within which the Darwinian process will proceed. Inside that domain, the process is unguided, and Darwinian.

This is factually incorrect, as the process has a preconceived desired outcome, toward which the process is guided.

isn’t bee evolution “guided” by the flowering-plant lineage?

So we’re equivocating on the definition of “guided” now?

By “guided”, I mean by intelligence. But I suspect you knew that already. I mean, sure, a river is “guided” by its banks, but what of it? Does that therefore make a river identical to an aquaduct or a pipeline?

Well, maybe in your view, it does…

Comment #170495

Posted by C Bass on April 17, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

Let me see if I understand this. If you breed spotted dogs because you want spotted dogs, you’re being Darwinian; but if you breed spotted dogs because you want spotted dog skins, you’re not being Darwinian?

You aren’t being Darwinian in either case.

Such a definition of “Darwinian” not only conflicts with the paper in question, but fails to reflect evolutionary theory in any era from Darwin to today. Evolutionary biology is perfectly comfortable with selection pressures being produced by design. Human design, for instance, has influenced the evolution of myriad other species for millions of years. Bedbugs exist because humans chose to make caves into their living quarters. A new species of mosquito evolved in the London subways because humans designed and built a transportation system. And so forth.

Fascinating. I didn’t realize that creating bedbugs was the objective of beds – I thought it was increased comfort. Silly me.

And I didn’t realize that a new species of mosquito was the objective of that London subway system – I thought it was increased efficiency in transporting people around the city. Again, silly me.

Watching you guys equivocate is fascinating, but it does get boring after a while. Perhaps that’s your goal…

When you figure out the difference between the objective of a process and a by-product of a process, get back to me.

With the Darwinian process (assuming it’s the true explanation), increased complexity of life forms is a by-product of the process, not the goal.

It simply has no goal(s). It simply is.

Comment #170496

Posted by CJO on April 17, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

C Bass:

By “guided”, I mean by intelligence. But I suspect you knew that already. I mean, sure, a river is “guided” by its banks, but what of it? Does that therefore make a river identical to an aquaduct or a pipeline?

Aha. We come to the heart of the matter. “Intelligence.”

Fluid Dynamics works exactly the same in a river as in an aqueduct, as in a pipeline. At a given level of analysis, then – the level where we characterize the behavior of the fluid contained within the structure – yes. A river is identical to an aqueduct or a pipeline. The analogy supports the position you are trying to argue against.

Comment #170498

Posted by Richard Simons on April 17, 2007 3:43 PM (e)

C Bass

I didn’t realize that a new species of mosquito was the objective of that London subway system

Who said it was? Are you suggesting the mosquito cares why the Underground was built? Or that the (human) purpose attached to something has a direct effect on the process of evolution?

Comment #170505

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 17, 2007 4:03 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

It’s interesting how quickly the Darwinian camp can equivocate on the illusion of design – it’s an illusion when convenient, but “needlessly misleading” to call it so otherwise.

I have not equivocated on this at all. I pointed out that in my view, Darwinian evolution designs things. The designs are real, there is no point in calling them “illusory”. Others think that by calling them illusory, they’re drawing a useful distinction between evolution and conscious, forward-thinking design, but I maintain that this is not a useful means of drawing that distinction. All it does is confuse people such as yourself.

At any rate it is a semantic dispute; it does not change what Darwinian evolution actually is or does. There is no disagreement between myself and others about that.

Nonsense. In your own words, there is a difference between “Darwinian evolution [and] conscious, forward-thinking design.” Directed evolution is the latter, given that it involves a conscious entity seeking a specific outcome.

This is utterly and completely wrong. Directed evolution is not “conscious, forward-thinking design”. Rational design techniques are conscious and forward-thinking, but directed evolution techniques are definitely not. No one consciously designs the result or picks the desired outcome ahead of time in a directed evolution experiment. If you think otherwise you don’t understand what directed evolution is.

By your logic, any process that involves a random element is “Darwinian”…

No, I specifically said that any process limited to random variation and differential reproduction is Darwinian. That’s what “Darwinian” means! It doesn’t matter what causes the differential reproduction (which is always, by definition, non-random). It is nonsensical to try to draw a distinction between human and non-human causes of altering reproductive success, because 1) there is no mechanistic difference, and 2) one cannot in most cases (or perhaps any) fully disentangle human beings from the larger environment. A point that has been made by several others already.

What you guys refuse to consider is that this random element is still controlled and directed, and the whole process guided to a preconceived objective. This is in clear contrast to the truly Darwinian mechanism of natural selection, which has no preconceived objective, and no guidance or focusing of the random element.

Again, you appear to have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no preconceived objective in a directed evolution experiment. The experimenter does not know ahead of time what he’s going to get, otherwise he’d just skip the evolution and go straight to the product. Moreover, out in nature the “random element” is most certainly controlled and directed, otherwise you wouldn’t get anything other than noise. Random variation is continually guided, shaped, and directed by selection. It’s the same whether in the lab or the wild.

The only actual difference between a directed evolution experiment and evolution in the wild is that the former contains an experimenter setting up the experimental conditions. If you wish to draw some grand metaphysical distinction based on this alone, then that’s your business, but this not a distinction that has any scientific relevance or meaning. The actual physical mechanism is identical in every single way. As I’ve said before, given your reasoning, there are no natural processes that could be studied in the lab, because once an experimenter sets up conditions, it’s no longer “natural”. You’re just playing word games.

But in nature, there are no “fitness criteria”, no “criteria” of any kind.

This would come as a great surprise to the vast majority of biologists, who refer to fitness criteria in nature on a constant basis.

No, whether the paper is “wrong” is not the issue. What the paper is saying (whether it’s “right” or “wrong”) is the issue. If you want to argue over whether this paper is correct in its assertions, well, this is your blog, go ahead and start another thread on that topic.

As I tried to point out, the “islands of functionality” thing does not even constitute a coherent argument, at least not as presented in the paper. I happen to know what IDists are trying to get across with that term, and they’re wrong, but the paper doesn’t even go that far. It just mentions them as a potential obstacle to directed evolution.

And I don’t feel that the paper’s numerous minor mistakes are of sufficient importance to warrant a separate post (not to mention my time). What I have pointed out is that the paper doesn’t even try to make the case for ID. At most it just hints around at things here and there.

Then you are hereby conceding that this is, in fact, an ID paper, given that it uses ID “terms of art” and bases a discussion on an assertion that is allegedly an IDist concept, the “islands of functionality” in the amino acid sequence space.

Um, no. As I’ve said already, they’re clearly motivated to support ID, but they fail to do so. There is nothing presented therein that actually makes the case for ID, just a couple of faulty premises.

Comment #170514

Posted by Science Avenger on April 17, 2007 4:42 PM (e)

C Bass dodged thusly:

There are no “but”s about it. Your contrived examples are tiresome, as is your conflation of “Darwninian process” and “evolution”.

Now we see true IDer colors. As long as the conversation stays vague, they have lots to say. But bring forth a specific example with specific results, and then suddenly, like Dembski’s Explanatary Filter, they have little to say.

Comment #170515

Posted by CJO on April 17, 2007 4:49 PM (e)

Rilly.
“Objection, your honor. The prosecution’s line of reasoning is devastating to my argument.”

Comment #170520

Posted by Science Avenger on April 17, 2007 5:11 PM (e)

Steve Reuland said:

It is nonsensical to try to draw a distinction between human and non-human causes of altering reproductive success, because 1) there is no mechanistic difference, and 2) one cannot in most cases (or perhaps any) fully disentangle human beings from the larger environment. A point that has been made by several others already.

This point deserves more attention. Human beings certainly effect the environment, and the evolution of the species around them, merely by their presence, not to mention their actions. All animals do. This presents a problem for those of Sr. Bass’ view. If our actions have evolutionary effects even though we had no knowledge and certainly no intent of doing so, as is surely true of many species, it means they are drawing distinctions between guided evolution and “darwinian evolution” based on our intent. From my earlier scenario of the deer and wolves seperated by mountains:

1) Rockslide creates mountain pass, wolves cross, and deer evolve more speed.

2) Humans cut the mountain pass for a road, wolves cross, and deer evolve more speed.

3) Humans cut the mountain pass with the intent of letting the wolves roam free, wolves cross, and deer evolve more speed.

4) Humans cut the mountain pass with the intent of creating faster deer, wolves cross, and deer evolve more speed.

Since he refused to address these, I am forced to conclude based on his posts that C Bass would claim #4 is guided evolution, and #1 is “Darwinian evolution”. What I want to know is what he does with #2 and #3, and why. He seems doomed to draw a line in there based on our intent, even if the actions and results are identical, which makes his thinking very unscientific. Science is about what is, morality is about what is intended.

Comment #170523

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 17, 2007 5:29 PM (e)

Nice example with the deer and wolves. Yes, I want to know, did the deer evolve differently in each of the four cases?

Science is about what is, morality is about what is intended.

I.e.
Science is descriptive; morality is prescriptive,
i.e.
Science is about how things are, morality is about how things ought to be.

Comment #170542

Posted by C Bass on April 17, 2007 8:36 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

I have not equivocated on this at all.

Your camp certainly has…

Richard Dawkins swears on his mother’s grave that design in nature is an “illusion”, then you come along, another Darwinian, and say, “oh no, the design is actually real – don’t pay attention to that ‘illusion’ stuff…” So whom is the skeptic suppposed to believe? After all, Dawkins wrote a 300+ page book trying to convince the reader that design is an illusion.

It’s okay if a fellow Darwinian dismisses his arguments with a hand wave, but if a skeptic does so, what then?

No one consciously designs the result or picks the desired outcome ahead of time in a directed evolution experiment.

There is no preconceived objective in a directed evolution experiment. The experimenter does not know ahead of time what he’s going to get…

The only actual difference between a directed evolution experiment and evolution in the wild is that the former contains an experimenter setting up the experimental conditions.

But the paper isn’t talking about experiments, it’s talking about engineering. Sure, there is some level of experimentation in the engineering process, but that experimentation is limited in scope – and the engineer does indeed have a preconceived idea of where the enterprise should wind up. If he didn’t, he would be a rather expensive “asset” to have in one’s organization.

The gene of interest is diversified through mutations, and the created library of mutated genes is tested against a specific selection pressure… The best variants are iteratively subjected to a new round of mutations. The selection is directed toward a desired activity… (Leisola and Turunen p2)

So, the authors seem to contradict your assertion that “[N]o one consciously … picks the desired outcome ahead of time …”

When you manage to get the difference between experiments and engineering straight in your mind, this discussion will have more meaning. Until then, we’re talking past each other.

Comment #170565

Posted by CJO on April 18, 2007 1:22 AM (e)

When you manage to get the difference between experiments and engineering straight in your mind, this discussion will have more meaning. Until then, we’re talking past each other.

Pretty high-handed there. You are the one “talking past” a whole lotta stuff. Let’s review for the reading-comprehension-challenged. (As well as for those whose judgement of just what is “tiresome” might be compromised.)

You quoted SR’s post with just

I have not equivocated on this at all.

To which you not so much replied but interrupted

Your camp certainly has…

And proceeded to gnaw at the semantics of “design” as used by Dawkins.

But who do you think these “others” were supposed to be when he said

Steve Reuland wrote:

The designs are real, there is no point in calling them “illusory”. Others think that by calling them illusory, they’re drawing a useful distinction between evolution and conscious, forward-thinking design, but I maintain that this is not a useful means of drawing that distinction. All it does is confuse people such as yourself.

??

I guess you are confused, and need it spelled out for you.
Since we have readily available, at least for temporary use, the terminology of “rational design methods,” let’s use that, for the purposes of this discussion, in any of Dawkins’s statements (or those of other campers) to which we might refer, instead of “design,” which Dawkins, whose popular writings attempt to be easier on the ear rather than especially precise, uses as prosaic shorthand.

Galloping along, though, What Ho! another semantic quibble rears its knuckle head.

But the paper isn’t talking about experiments, it’s talking about engineering. Sure, there is some level of experimentation in the engineering process, but that experimentation is limited in scope – and the engineer does indeed have a preconceived idea of where the enterprise should wind up. If he didn’t, he would be a rather expensive “asset” to have in one’s organization.

Here you are talking past the point made most recently by Science Avenger and others (the presentation of which you affect to find tiresome) regarding the irrelevance of intention.

If the domain in which the Darwinian process is to occur remains the same, the intent of the experimenter/engineer cannot possibly matter. Granted that in the ordinary workaday world, the uses to which pure research and engineering put evolutionary algorithms and other “directed evolution” kinds of Darwinian processes is different. But you don’t have to stray very far to see how arbitrary any exact demarcation between the two has to be.

What happens when the pure researcher sees an engineering application, and does a few runs of the “experiment” to see if it plays out? Or when the engineer with a sideline in research stumbles across something interesting and decides to try a few “experimental” runs of an algorithm using novel initial conditions, just to see what will happen? Better yet, what of the engineer ten years from now who reads a paper in a journal devoted to reporting research and finds a potential solution to an applied problem? “Contrived,” I suppose C Bass will have it, but really, none of this stretches the imagination.

The kicker here is that these technics actually work. That’s what it’s all about. Dembski et al can’t possibly let on that actual Darwinian processes function at any level. Obstinate refusal to engage with this fact, demonstrated here by C Bass, is telling.

Comment #170566

Posted by Steve Reuland on April 18, 2007 1:29 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Richard Dawkins swears on his mother’s grave that design in nature is an “illusion”, then you come along, another Darwinian, and say, “oh no, the design is actually real – don’t pay attention to that ‘illusion’ stuff…” So whom is the skeptic suppposed to believe?

I think I’ve already explained this quite thoroughly. Hint: Dawkins and I don’t disagree on what Darwinian evolution is or does.

You can believe whichever one of us you want to believe. The disagreement is not over one of fact. It’s a difference of opinion concerning the most lucid description.

But the paper isn’t talking about experiments, it’s talking about engineering.

It’s talking about experiments. Experiments that were used in the service of engineering (at least some of them). Just go read the actual papers that were cited, and you’ll see that the authors of those papers quite explicitly call what they’re doing “experiments”.

Again, it seems that we’ve run into the argument via word-games. Trying to draw a distinction between two different words does not imply that there are different processes at work. To draw such a distinction, you must focus on the actual processes themselves, not on the arbitrary labels that get used to describe them.

So, the authors seem to contradict your assertion that “[N]o one consciously … picks the desired outcome ahead of time …”

No they don’t. You simply don’t understand what that quoted passage is referring to.

Again, if you understood anything about directed evolution, you would know that the researchers absolutely do not pick the desired outcome ahead of time. The whole point of this approach is that the outcome cannot be predicted, otherwise they’d use a different approach. It’s getting really tiring having to repeat this.

Oh, and by the way, if the authors’ words are considered sacrosanct, I think I should point out, yet again, that they explicitly refer to directed evolution techniques as “Darwinian”.

When you manage to get the difference between experiments and engineering straight in your mind, this discussion will have more meaning. Until then, we’re talking past each other.

Indeed we are. I’m making reference to the actual processes being used (I do protein engineering for a living, in case you didn’t know) whereas you are relying on labels and semantics without even knowing how the processes work.

Comment #170598

Posted by guthrie on April 18, 2007 6:13 AM (e)

How interesting. Let me take a sentence or two and have a go:

“A truly Darwinian mechanism is blissfully unaware of these islands of functionality, and subsequently is unconcerned with where randomization leads. Given that there is a large chasm between these islands, it stands to reason that the majority of random mutations would be deleterious, and that is what we observe.”

So, how exactly is a mechanism supposed to be aware?
Then, you do realise that the issue here is that for a specific purpose, you are correct. However, for other purposes, i.e. functions with different islands of optimality, the mutation may increase fitness. The environment provides the screen throught which individuals with different fitness pass, and in an environment with a new antibiotic, the one with the mutation would survive, even although the mutation might badly affect some function of it which means it would not survive without the presence of the antibiotic.

Comment #170599

Posted by guthrie on April 18, 2007 6:15 AM (e)

C BAss also seems unaware of the fact that the holocaust occured almost a century after the start of eugenics.

With a name like “sea bass” I wonder if we’re being trolled. But they seem to be putting in too much effort for a troll, whose best work is when they only make one post.

Comment #170626

Posted by C Bass on April 18, 2007 9:53 AM (e)

CJO wrote:

Let’s review for the reading-comprehension-challenged.

Yes, let’s…

You quoted SR’s post with just

I have not equivocated on this at all.

To which you not so much replied but interrupted

Your camp certainly has…

I never claimed that he equivocated on design. My initial observation was:

It’s interesting how quickly the Darwinian camp can equivocate on the illusion of design – it’s an illusion when convenient, but “needlessly misleading” to call it so otherwise.

See? I was referring to the Darwinian camp all along, not individuals. I never accused him of equivocating on design (or “illusion” thereof), so there was little reason for him to plead innocence.

The point you pretend not to get is that Dawkins hammers “illusion” into the readers’ head, then this blog comes along and says “whoa! whadayamean ‘illusion’? yer confused!” pinning the blame on the reader when it’s the Darwinian camp that’s sowing the “confusion”. Neat trick, collectively equivocate then blame it on the skeptic.

Interesting to see you guys claiming that your spokesman, Dawkins, misleads his readers. So how are we poor “creationist fools” ever supposed to understand this marvelous theory when one of your leading spokesmen misleads us on such fundamental concepts?

Here you are talking past the point made most recently by Science Avenger and others (the presentation of which you affect to find tiresome) regarding the irrelevance of intention.

Yes, I find the conflation of “evolution” and “Darwinian evolution” to be quite tiresome. I go to the trouble of invoking Darwin’s name every time I talk about the process he described. “Evolution” is a vague term that can simply mean “change over time”, regardless of mechanism.

In his “presentation”, Science Avenger kept asking “Still evolution? If not, why not?” Well, I never claimed that “evolution” wasn’t taking place, so his line of questioning was meaningless, and yes, tiresome. The process under discussion is “directed evolution“, after all, so why would anyone be so tedious as to ask whether “evolution” were taking place?

What happens when … Or when …

I already addressed this when I replied:

Sure, there is some level of experimentation in the engineering process, but that experimentation is limited in scope – and the engineer does indeed have a preconceived idea of where the enterprise should wind up.

Your questions simply echo this notion. To answer the first one explicitly, the pure researcher confirms that “experiment” “plays out”, then confirms it with other “pure researchers” and eventually catalogues the result for future reference by an engineer who wishes to obtain the cataloged result.

So complicated even an IDiot like me can figure it out.

Dembski et al can’t possibly let on that actual Darwinian processes function at any level.

At any level, eh? No, it seems to this “confused” soul that you guys simply don’t bother to comprehend what skeptics actually write. Obstinate refusal to engage with this fact, demonstrated here by CJO, is telling.

Where has Dembski or Behe or anyone else of the “et al” cabal ever claimed that the Darwinian process doesn’t function at any level?

Aha. We come to the heart of the matter. “Intelligence.”

Where have you been? This whole discussion is on whether the Leisola and Turunen paper in question is “pro-ID” or not. Well, what, exactly, does the “I” in “ID” stand for, hmmm?

Fluid Dynamics works exactly the same in a river as in an aqueduct, as in a pipeline. At a given level of analysis, then – the level where we characterize the behavior of the fluid contained within the structure – yes. A river is identical to an aqueduct or a pipeline.

As I predected …

Does that therefore make a river identical to an aquaduct or a pipeline?

Well, maybe in your view, it does …

Focus on the content (water) while ignoring the structure, which is, after all, the actual subject of discussion. The fact that water flows in both a river and an aqueduct doesn’t make the two object identical – it would take a Darwinian to claim they are. No, in the former case, a river is simply the least path of resistance for mountain snow and water to drain to the ocean. In the latter, it’s an intelligently designed artifact with a purpose, to ferry water to a preconceived destination, usually not the ocean.

But you are blind to these differences, as you will no doubt proceed to demonstrate.

Comment #170630

Posted by Raging Bee on April 18, 2007 10:36 AM (e)

C Bass blithered thusly:

See? I was referring to the Darwinian camp all along, not individuals…

In other words, you’re accusing an unspecified “camp” of doing things you can’t prove any specific person actually did.

The point you pretend not to get is that Dawkins hammers “illusion” into the readers’ head…

The point you’re avoiding is that Dawkins is irrelevant: the theory of evolution stands, and ID is vapor-ware, regardless of what anyone says about Dawkins. If all you can do is get all Beavis & Butthead on us and say “He said ‘design,’ huhhuhhuh!” then you might as well give it up – you’re not fooling anyone.

And you still haven’t answered my question about the (alleged) connection between evllution and eugenics; which only further proves you’re a dodgy lying coward.

Comment #170635

Posted by PvM on April 18, 2007 11:15 AM (e)

C Bass wondered as to what the I in ID referred. While it refers to ‘intelligent’, it is through conflation of terminology how ID attempts to make its case. Remember that ID is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. Nothing about intelligent/intelligence so far. In fact, as I and others have argued, ID is about Ignorance not Intelligence. Which is self evident once you dig a little below the surface.

Comment #170638

Posted by Science Avenger on April 18, 2007 11:28 AM (e)

C Bass dodged thusly:

Yes, I find the conflation of “evolution” and “Darwinian evolution” to be quite tiresome. I go to the trouble of invoking Darwin’s name every time I talk about the process he described.

What is tiresome is pretending that what Darwin described is relevant in the wake of all the progress that has been made since. Unless you are discussing science history, talk of “Darwinian evolution” makes about as much sense as invoking “Wright Brothers aerodynamics” in a discussion of flight. That the term “evolution” means “the modern theory of evolution” shouldn’t have to be explained.

“Evolution” is a vague term that can simply mean “change over time”, regardless of mechanism.

It’s not vague just because it doesn’t focus on the irrelevancies you obsess over, any more than “painting” is “vague” because it doesn’t go into detail on the direction of the brushstrokes. However, since you are so obsessed with what Darwin said, his preferred term was “descent with modification”. You’ll notice he doesn’t mention mechanisms, because he had no idea what they were.

In his “presentation”, Science Avenger kept asking “Still evolution? If not, why not?” Well, I never claimed that “evolution” wasn’t taking place, so his line of questioning was meaningless, and yes, tiresome. The process under discussion is “directed evolution“, after all, so why would anyone be so tedious as to ask whether “evolution” were taking place?

My line of questions demonstrate the absurdity of the deliniations you are inventing between directed evolution and plain ol’ evolution. You claim directed evolution predetermines the outcome, and is equivalent to ID. My examples prove otherwise, and that’s why you dodge them.

But there’s still time. Please, enlighten us. Which of my four scenarios qualifies as “darwinian evolution” to you and which are “guided evolution” and why?

Comment #170689

Posted by C Bass on April 18, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

In other words, you’re accusing an unspecified “camp” of doing things you can’t prove any specific person actually did.

Nope. I specified the camp, and observed that camp’s equivocation first-hand. Dawkins says “Design == Illusion” and then Reuland says “Design != Illusion”.

The point you’re avoiding is that Dawkins is irrelevant: the theory of evolution stands, and ID is vapor-ware, regardless of what anyone says about Dawkins. If all you can do is get all Beavis & Butthead on us and say “He said ‘design,’ huhhuhhuh!” then you might as well give it up – you’re not fooling anyone.

Your inability to grasp the point is noted.

Dawkins may be irrelevant in your world, but he is a leading spokesman for promoting neo-Darwinian evolution, and explaining the theory to the masses. Claiming him to be “irrelevant” is disingenuous, to put it mildly, but it does represent more equivocation from the Darwinian camp. Darwinians refer to Dawkins on a regular basis – I have been told to read The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker several times by members of your camp, in their efforts to disabuse me of my ignorance. Well, I’ve read them. Now you guys tells me that what he says is “misleading” and that he is “irrelevant”.

Equivocation at its finest.

As for your baiting question, I did post several links, but that post got lost in the bit bucket for some mysterious reason. So I did reply, your petulant accusations notwithstanding. I’m sure you are aware of the arguments already, and have plenty of ad hominem at the ready by way of response. Since I have trouble posting links, I’ll simply suggest you Google “Darwin Hitler Connection” and peruse the results.

Comment #170695

Posted by C Bass on April 18, 2007 3:30 PM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

What is tiresome is pretending that what Darwin described is relevant in the wake of all the progress that has been made since.

Well, the theory is commonly referred to as “neo-Darwinian evolution”, and the paper in question talks about Darwinian inspired methods, so we have yet another example of equivocation: you guys use Darwin’s name when convenient, but get upset when I use it for the sake of consistency, and even go so far as to pretend that his name is irrelevant.

Since you seem to insist, let’s revisted your scenario (Numbers added):

1. The wolves will cross over, chase the deer, and the deer might very well evolve more speed to escape them. Evolution, right?

2. OK, now change the scenario: instead of a rockslide, the pass was made by humans building a road. The wolves still cross, and the deer still evolve speed. Still evolution? Of course.

3. What if the people made the pass on purpose, not for a road, but to see if the deer would evolve speed? Still evolution? If not, why not?

4. Now if the humans made the pass and then reached in somehow to the deer’s genetic structure and forced mutations resulting in more speed, THAT would be guided and consequently not evolution.

Okay, number 3 is still “evolution”, or Darwinian evolution. Why would it be otherwise? And what point are you trying to make?

Comment #170700

Posted by C Bass on April 18, 2007 3:45 PM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

Unless you are discussing science history, talk of “Darwinian evolution” makes about as much sense as invoking “Wright Brothers aerodynamics” in a discussion of flight.

Then tell it to actual Darwnians who refer to “neo-Darwinian evolution”, as the “irrelevant” Richard Dawkins often does. If aeronautical engineers were found to be referring to “neo-Wright Brothers aerodynamics” on a consistent basis, then maybe you’d have a valid comparison. But they don’t. Yet Darwinians do refer to “neo-Darwinian evolution”.

Go figure…

Comment #170702

Posted by PvM on April 18, 2007 4:10 PM (e)

Again there appears to be a confusion as to the meaning of design. When Dawkins observes that design is apparent he is referring to the observation that the design can be explained by a natural mechanism. In other words, there is no need to appeal to ‘Design’ as the explanation. However, natural selection has been shown to meet the requirements for a designer, using Dembski’s impeccable (sic) logic.
So design may be rampant in nature but the designer seems to be quite natural.
However ID proponents often tend to conflate these meanings of design. Certainly, the fact that intelligent design is formulated as a set theoretic complement to chance and regularity should have given some pause to IDers…

Let also point out this concession by Dembski as commented upon by Ryan Nichols

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

Source: Ryan Nichols, The Vacuity of Intelligent Design Theory

Comment #170703

Posted by PvM on April 18, 2007 4:17 PM (e)

They cannot be, as they are designed, and the Darwinian model forbids design, claiming that any appearance of design is illusory. The design in those “carefully designed selection methods” are real, not illusory.

Actually the Darwinian model does nothing of the kind. In case of Darwinism, the “intelligent designer” is natural selection.

How familiar are you with Darwinian theory, Darwin’s position and the evolution of Darwinian theory? Can you outline where the Darwinian model forbids design?

Comment #170710

Posted by Science Avenger on April 18, 2007 4:48 PM (e)

C Bass said:

…you guys use Darwin’s name when convenient, but get upset when I use it for the sake of consistency, and even go so far as to pretend that his name is irrelevant.

Your fundamentalism is showing. Science is about the evidence, not about who says what. Darwin’s words are not holy writ. Neither are Dawkins’. We can appreciate their scientific insights, while still disagreeing with some of what they say because of subsequent discoveries, or a difference of opinion as to the proper usage of terms like “design”.

I asked: What if the people made the pass on purpose, not for a road, but to see if the deer would evolve speed? Still evolution? If not, why not?

To which C Bass responded: [It] is still “evolution”, or Darwinian evolution. Why would it be otherwise? And what point are you trying to make?

Well, given this and similar statements by you:

Once you start “target[ing] favorable traits”, where “favorable” is defined by the scientists doing the engineering, you are talking about ID, and are not talking about Darwinian evolution. When you insist that “properties the scientists select for” is analogous to natural selection, you are admitting that the selection is not natural, and therefore not Darwinian.

I expected you to say “ID”. The people “did the engineering” to get a “favorable trait, where ‘favorable’ is defined by the [people] doing the engineering”, ie, faster deer. So why doesn’t that qualify as ID per your own statement?

Darwinians do refer to “neo-Darwinian evolution”.

Dawkins and other scientists that speak of “neo-Darwinian evolution” are not using it in the anarchistic, equivocating way that you and other IDers do. For one who likes to toss the term “equivocating” at the drop of a hat, you sure enjoy it yourself.

When will you guys get it that you can’t win scientific battles with word games?

Comment #170711

Posted by Science Avenger on April 18, 2007 4:59 PM (e)

That should be “anachronistic” above, not “anarchistic”

Comment #170720

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 18, 2007 6:12 PM (e)

In case of Darwinism, the “intelligent designer” is natural selection.

except there’s no intelligence nor intent.

so, my question for the plastic singing bass is:

do you think it REQUIRES an external intelligence to produce complex structures or behaviors?

or even simple ones, for that matter?

Comment #170738

Posted by Raging Bee on April 18, 2007 7:40 PM (e)

C Bass blithered:

Dawkins says “Design == Illusion” and then Reuland says “Design != Illusion”.

And this changes the validity of the actual science behind evolution…how? The most I see here is two people using the same word in slightly different ways. As an example of “equivocation,” this is as irrelevant as it gets. Can’t you cdesign proponentsists find better straws to grasp at than that?

(And speaking of equivocation, does ID “theory” have anything specific to say about the age of the Earth? Or are you still trying to equivocate between smart politicians and stupid donors?)

Dawkins may be irrelevant in your world, but he is a leading spokesman for promoting neo-Darwinian evolution, and explaining the theory to the masses. Claiming him to be “irrelevant” is disingenuous, to put it mildly…

First, Dawkins was nowhere to be found during the Dover trial, and contributed nothing to Judge Jones’ opinion.

And second, Dawkins’ promotion has nothing at all to do with the actual science. Of course, I wouldn’t expect an ID advocate to understand this distinction, since ID is all promotion and no science.

And no, I’m not going to do your research for you. You alleged a connection between evolution and eugenics, you back it up.

Comment #170881

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 10:29 AM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

I expected you to say “ID”. The people “did the engineering” to get a “favorable trait, where ‘favorable’ is defined by the [people] doing the engineering”, ie, faster deer. So why doesn’t that qualify as ID per your own statement?

The problem with your scenarios is that they are one-off deals. The experiment is performed once, and you bait me to draw a conclusion from a single data point.

What if the people made the pass on purpose, not for a road, but to see if the deer would evolve speed? Still evolution? If not, why not?

Since they are doing this “to see if … “ whatever, it appears to this IDiot to be an experiment.

Let’s say the deer evolve speed.

So another bunch of people build another pass using another population of deer/wolves.

This time, the deer are simply hunted to extinction.

For being so concerned with science, you guys manage to be rather unscientific when baiting IDiots such as myself.

From this IDiot’s perspective, it would seem that the scientific thing to do would be to repeat the experiment N number of times, and record how many times each possible outcome occurred. Of course, the set up of each experiment must match that of all the others as closely as possible.

As the size of N increases, it seems to this knuckle-dragger that the granularity of the outcome(s) would be finer.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that N = 500, and let’s say that the number of times that the speed of the deer increased was 2. Since increased speed seems to be what you are looking for, it would seems that this experiment fails to support the hypothesis that building a pass increases deer speed.

Therefore, an engineer seeking to increase deer speed for some industrial application would probably elect not to use this method.

If, on the other hand, N = 500 and the number of times that the deer speed increased was 280, then, for all practical purposes, using the method of building a pass to increase deer speed is a coin-toss, with a roughly 50-50 chance of success.

Finally, if the number of “successes” (increases in deer speed) were, say, 473, then an engineer seeking to increase deer speed would look at the 94.6% success rate of the pass-building method, and perhaps choose to use it if he deemed the 94.6% rate “high enough” by whatever criteria he’s using.

The point is that I am trying to separate the experiment phase from the engineering phase of a process. In one case, outcomes are being observed and cataloged. In the other case, the outcome has already been quantified at some level.

The problem is that you guys insist on conflating “experiment” with “engineering”, and accusing me of “word games”.

Comment #170888

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 10:45 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

And this changes the validity of the actual science behind evolution…how? The most I see here is two people using the same word in slightly different ways.

Um, that’s what “equivocation” means – changing a word’s meaning in the middle of discourse.

How is a knuckle-dragger such as myself supposed to get a grasp of “evolution” (whatever you decide that word means at the given moment) when one “evolutionist” says that the appearance of design in nature is an illusion, and another one comes along and says “oh no, design in nature is real – that other guy is misleading you, you poor confused twit”?

That’s the problem – you guys accuse me of “word games” when it’s your collective camp that changes the meanings of words to suit your current argument.

(And speaking of equivocation, does ID “theory” have anything specific to say about the age of the Earth? Or are you still trying to equivocate between smart politicians and stupid donors?)

Does your ignorance of ID know no bounds? Michael Behe says that he has “no reason” to not believe that the earth and the universe are the billions of years old that geologists and cosmologists respectively say they are. Behe even has no problem with common descent. And nowhere in Dembski’s writings have I run across any claims that the earth is any younger that the geologists claim it to be.

You are obviously confused, unable to distinguish between ID and YEC.

Comment #170890

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 11:05 AM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

Dawkins and other scientists that speak of “neo-Darwinian evolution” are not using it in the anarchistic, equivocating way that you and other IDers do. For one who likes to toss the term “equivocating” at the drop of a hat, you sure enjoy it yourself.

What evidence do you have that I am using the “Darwninian” in an equivocating way?

When will you guys get it that you can’t win scientific battles with word games?

The irony is precious.

Comment #170896

Posted by Science Avenger on April 19, 2007 11:21 AM (e)

C Bass exposed himself thusly:

The problem is that you guys insist on conflating “experiment” with “engineering”, and accusing me of “word games”.

A priceless summation of a post that was nothing but. I can’t improve on that in rebuttal, it is self-rebutting. Precious irony indeed.

Comment #170897

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 11:25 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

First, Dawkins was nowhere to be found during the Dover trial, and contributed nothing to Judge Jones’ opinion.

Wow. For one who likes to drone on about what’s “irrelevant”, you sure did pick a fine example of something that truly is irrelevant to this discussion. Judge Jones’ “opinion” certainly is irrelevant, since his “opinion” was little more that a nearly verbatim parroting of the ACLU findings of fact. Some might say that it’s the ACLU’s opinion, not Jones’.

And second, Dawkins’ promotion has nothing at all to do with the actual science.

So what he writes in his books is not science, nor based on science? What purpose do they serve, then? Merely to “confuse” those of us who at least try to understand this theory, skeptical though we may be?

It seems like you’re trying to punish me for even having enough balls to even try to disabuse myself of my ignorance of this marvelous theory of yours.

And no, I’m not going to do your research for you. You alleged a connection between evolution and eugenics, you back it up.

Doesn’t matter to me one way or the other …

Rabbi defends show linking Darwin, Hitler

“This dazzling production shows how ideas always have consequences, often unintended, and how Darwinism has impacted American culture,” Lapin wrote. “It discusses how the philosophy of evolution can dehumanize people and how Adolf Hitler, on his own admission, was influenced by Darwinian thought.”

From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (Paperback)

Editorial Reviews

“This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story.”–Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

“Richard Weikart’s outstanding book shows in sober and convincing detail how Darwinist thinkers in Germany had developed an amoral attitude to human society by the time of the First World War, in which the supposed good of the race was applied as the sole criterion of public policy and ‘racial hygiene’. Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power.”–Richard Evans, University of Cambridge, and author of The Coming of the Third Reich

Comment #170899

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 11:30 AM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

A priceless summation of a post that was nothing but. I can’t improve on that in rebuttal, it is self-rebutting. Precious irony indeed.

So what is the difference between “science” and “engineering”, then? I mean, since you dismiss my attempts at discussion with a typically flippant hand-wave, and all…

Comment #170902

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 11:47 AM (e)

plastic singing bass wrote:

So another bunch of people build another pass using another population of deer/wolves.

This time, the deer are simply hunted to extinction.

you forgot to add variability (as one factor) to your over-simplified thought process.

it’s one reason that predators don’t typically hunt their prey to extinction. on the flip side, you could also say it’s the reason predators are successful in obtaining prey to begin with.

blithely, you have stumbled onto one of the classic mechanisms of selection-driven systems that have been discussed in the literature, namely the Red Queen hypothesis.

here’s a brief overview for ya:

http://www.indiana.edu/~curtweb/Research/Red_Que…

Comment #170905

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 11:52 AM (e)

You are obviously confused, unable to distinguish between ID and YEC.

then you should check your “camp” again, idiot, as Paul Nelson himself says that the earth could be anywhere between thousands and billions of years old.

you’re just not gettin’ it, are ya?

the IDeologues don’t give a shit about reality, it’s just a political movement.

there is no science behind it whatsoever, and the mere fact that they can’t even produce even the beginnings of a testable hypothesis should have at least told you something.

wake up already; at this point you’re just a political pawn.

Comment #170907

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 11:59 AM (e)

as to Dawkins:

So what he writes in his books is not science, nor based on science?

is NOT science, is a popularization and explanation OF science.

you know, like Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, for example.

it’s not to say Dawkins has not done science (like Sagan), or does not represent the science accurately in his popular books.

but peer-reviewed journal articles is where you find the science that Dawkins attempts to explain (even to self-admitted dolts like yourself). Speaking of which, since you find NO peer–reviewed articles testing the theory of ID (in large part because there IS no theory of ID to begin with), it is NOT science.

The reason Dawkins is popular is because he does this for evolutionary biology much the same way that Sagan did for cosmology.

his personal opinions on the impact religion has on society at large (like in the God Delusion) have nothing to do with the subjects covered in his popular science books.

get it?

Comment #170912

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 12:03 PM (e)

…and if you’re idiotic enough to believe that hitler was motivated by Darwin, as opposed to just power, then you are too far gone to have any further conversation with.

suggest you do a search on this very site to see the many threads that have debunked that fabrication time and time again.

Comment #170913

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 12:04 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

What evidence do you have that I am using the “Darwninian” in an equivocating way?

Because of your claims (unsupported) about Darwinian theory? Just a guess…

Comment #170915

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 12:16 PM (e)

You are obviously confused, unable to distinguish between ID and YEC.

From a theological and scientific perspective there is little difference, I’d argue. Both rely on cherry picking, ignorance to make their ‘scientific’ case. Both sides have made claims which have been shown to be erroneous. Both rely on the Bible to enforce their level of ignorance and reject good science.

How am I doing so far? Or what about Dembski’s sympathy for YEC versus his dislike of theistic evolutionism?

However remember that ID is nothing more than the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance and that the design inference has little to do with agency. Remember that the separate step of agency cannot even exclude natural selection as the designer.

A more careful understanding of teleology and Darwinian theory would lead to the inevitable conclusion that ‘design’ in nature is an inevitable outcome of Darwinian theory. What Darwinian theory has shown is that Design is an unnecessary “explanation” as it is one based on ignorance and natural mechanisms exist that explain the data much better. Since ID is also not about explanation but a negative approach, it cannot even serve as a foundation for a competing explanation. It cannot even compete with ‘we don;t know’ as an explanation.

Comment #170916

Posted by Raging Bee on April 19, 2007 12:18 PM (e)

…changing a word’s meaning in the middle of discourse.

Neither of these authors changed their usage of the word in the middle of discourse. Different authors used the word in slightly different ways. If you don’t understand the difference, then you’re not in a position to lecture us about “equivocation.”

Now on to your bogus evolution-eugenics link…

The first quote, from the rabbi, comes from the WorldNutDaily, which is well known for its consistently ignorant, dishonest and insane assertions. Furthermore, the quote doesn’t even describe a link between evolution and eugenics; it’s just one guy saying there is a link.

“Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power.”–Richard Evans, University of Cambridge, and author of The Coming of the Third Reich

Anyone who knows any history could tell you that ALL of the policies mentioned in the above paragraph predate Darwin by CENTURIES. And so does the racism that motivates them.

Your evolution-eugenics link is pure crap. It’s also an act of “false witness,” which REAL Christians aren’t supposed to do.

Comment #170918

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 12:21 PM (e)

So now lets take the final logical step that abuses the concept of analogy. Since natural processes are used by scientists to mimick nature and improve human design, it is clear that human design is an extension of nature, not the other way around.
ID proponents have gotten it all wrong. Design amongst humans is not evidence of design in nature because we observe how humans have found similar ‘solutions’ to common problems as has nature, but rather the natural design in nature helps humans formulate human designs.
That humans have to mimick nature tells us a lot about the power of ‘design’ in nature. Of course, one should not misunderstand the concept of design with the concept of Purpose or Primary Cause.

Comment #170924

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 12:28 PM (e)

Neither of these authors changed their usage of the word in the middle of discourse. Different authors used the word in slightly different ways. If you don’t understand the difference, then you’re not in a position to lecture us about “equivocation.

In fact, pointing to two different author’s use of a word and not realizing that they are using the term differently does make for equivocation. It’s the feinted ignorance of how terms are being used which makes ID such a meaningless excercise. No wonder scientists and Christians alike are joining in rejecting ID.

Comment #170935

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 1:17 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Neither of these authors changed their usage of the word in the middle of discourse. Different authors used the word in slightly different ways. If you don’t understand the difference, then you’re not in a position to lecture us about “equivocation.”

Hence the use of the word “camp”.

The first quote, from the rabbi, comes from the WorldNutDaily, which is well known for its consistently ignorant, dishonest and insane assertions.

Exactly as I expected – character assassination and ad hominem, as opposed to reasoned argument.

Anyone who knows any history could tell you that ALL of the policies mentioned in the above paragraph predate Darwin by CENTURIES.

Interesting that you quote…

…considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued…

… yet utterly ignore what it means. In other words, the fact that infanticide, assisted suicide, etc. predated Darwin by CENTURIES is irrelevant, as it was the writings of Darwinists that provided the “scientific justification”.

Sir_Toejam wrote:

you forgot to add variability (as one factor) to your over-simplified thought process.

it’s one reason that predators don’t typically hunt their prey to extinction.

I am aware of that – this is precisely what I expected, choking on one minor (deliberate) inaccuracy as an excuse to ignore/dismiss the discussion as a whole.

Why didn’t you guys get upset over the “over-simplification” of Science Avenger’s ridiculously contrived scenario? Simpy because he’s one of you guys?

Comment #170938

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 1:22 PM (e)

choking on one minor (deliberate) inaccuracy

MINOR???

talk about dissembling.

ok i gave it a shot, but you obviously aren’t interested in honest discussion.

friggin troll.

Comment #170939

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 1:25 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

How am I doing so far?

Poorly.

All scientific pursuits have made claims that were subsequently “shown to be erroneous”. In fact, we keep hearing about how science is “self-correcting”, which implies that it must generate errors along the line. So your observation re: error is utterly bogus.

And to claim that ID relies on the Bible is simply absurd, and reveals abject ignorance on your part.

At least I read Dawkins and Sean Carroll, even if they are “irrelevant”. At least I try to not be a complete ignoramous.

I don’t say I succeed, necessarily, only that I try.

Unlike you guys.

Comment #170941

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 1:26 PM (e)

Why didn’t you guys get upset over the “over-simplification” of Science Avenger’s ridiculously contrived scenario? Simpy because he’s one of you guys?

The Tu-Quoque defense and appeal to martydom. Not a very logical argument would you not agree?

Comment #170943

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 1:32 PM (e)

At least I read Dawkins and Sean Carroll, even if they are “irrelevant”. At least I try to not be a complete ignoramous.

well, you certainly haven’t shown you aren’t an ignoramus so far.

how much you wanna bet I can quiz you on even basic tenents about evolutionary biology explained in Dawkins’ books, and you will get every question wrong?

heck, the fact you have no clue about basic mechanisms of selection gives you away right there.

either that, or you must have extremely poor reading comprehension.

certainly also a possibility.

whatever, you haven’t said anything of significance so far, and I expect you won’t, so why bother.

Comment #170944

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 1:33 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

All scientific pursuits have made claims that were subsequently “shown to be erroneous”. In fact, we keep hearing about how science is “self-correcting”, which implies that it must generate errors along the line. So your observation re: error is utterly bogus.

Huh? perhaps you can expand as to what your argument exactly is here.

And to claim that ID relies on the Bible is simply absurd, and reveals abject ignorance on your part.

Again you seem to be making assertions without an attempt at logical validation, let alone empirical validation.

At least I read Dawkins and Sean Carroll, even if they are “irrelevant”. At least I try to not be a complete ignoramous.

I don’t say I succeed, necessarily, only that I try.

Unlike you guys.

Speaking of ad hominem… You troll…

Comment #170945

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 1:39 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

MINOR???

Yes, minor, in the overall flow of the discussion. Typical that you would use this deliberate inaccuracy as a pathetic excuse to ignore 90% of what I said, giving you your weak justification to ignore my greater line of argument.

Typical.

That 90% you ignored was my attempt at “honest discussion”. Interesting that you didn’t care how simple Science Avenger’s one-time scenario was. I tried to make it just a bit more realistic by introducing repeated experiment, and cataloging results in terms of percentages and probable expectations.

But, for some mysterious reason, that was “too simple-minded”, even though the one-off experiment that preceded it didn’t raise any such concerns amongst you.

And I deliberately put in the extinction part to see whether you would ignore the minor error and focus on the greater point, or if you would ignore the greater point and focus on the minor error.

I have my result.

And you call me a troll.

Priceless.

Comment #170946

Posted by CJO on April 19, 2007 1:40 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

And to claim that ID relies on the Bible is simply absurd, and reveals abject ignorance on your part.

William A. Dembski wrote:

“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory,”

Comment #170947

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 1:41 PM (e)

how much you wanna bet I can quiz you on even basic tenents about evolutionary biology explained in Dawkins’ books, and you will get every question wrong?

Fire away…

Comment #170953

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 1:57 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Yes, minor, in the overall flow of the discussion. Typical that you would use this deliberate inaccuracy as a pathetic excuse to ignore 90% of what I said, giving you your weak justification to ignore my greater line of argument.

priceless… Come on C Bass, do you realize how ironic your comments must sound to those observing your own words and (in)actions?

Comment #170954

Posted by Raging Bee on April 19, 2007 1:59 PM (e)

…it was the writings of Darwinists that provided the “scientific justification”.

Wrong again, you lying ignoramus: the Nazis provided the justification, both pseudo-scientific and otherwise, for things they were hell-bent on doing, and would have done, anyway. Blaming scientists for the political actions of people who clearly knew nothing about science, is pure horseshit. And the fact that you and your fellow creationists are so eager to believe and trumpet the reasoning of the Nazis, proves how morally and mentally bankrupt you really are.

Comment #170955

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 2:03 PM (e)

“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory,”

So explain how the fact that ID can be described as a restatement of a Gospel means that it relies on that (or any other) gospel.

If X restates Y, and if Y stopped existing, would that mean that I could no longer state X independent of Y? If so, why?

Or take the easy way out (as so many others have done) and just call me “troll” and be on your way.

Comment #170956

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 2:05 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

All scientific pursuits have made claims that were subsequently “shown to be erroneous”. In fact, we keep hearing about how science is “self-correcting”, which implies that it must generate errors along the line. So your observation re: error is utterly bogus.

So many logical errors here. First of all not all ‘pursuits’ that have been shown to be erroneous have been scientific in nature. Just because ID asserts that ‘X cannot be explained by Y’ does not make ID scientifically relevant. In fact, nothing much can be concluded from this observation other than that given our present understanding Y cannot explain X. Such a position is however scientifically vacuous since it at best provides no answers as to how to explain Y and at worst stifles scientific investigation.

Let me explain why ID is scientifically vacuous. It’s really simple: ID’s approach to infer design as the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance does not provide it with any foundation to make positive claims as to how a particular system can be explained. Calling it designed is merely a placeholder for our ignorance. Since ID refuses (actually is unable) to provide a competing explanation, it cannot even compete with the null hypothesis of ‘we just don’t know’

Is ID self correcting? Not really. Then again, it cannot really correct its ignorance other than by admitting new scientific knowledge and that’s just counter productive to the ID thesis which relies on anything but scientific knowledge to make its inferences.

Comment #170957

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

Come on C Bass, do you realize how ironic your comments must sound to those observing your own words and (in)actions?

In this venue, I take it for granted that everything I say seems “ironic” or worse. But I consider the audience.

So far, you guys have reinforced all the stereotypes, in spades.

Equivocation, misdirection, ad hominem, etc.

Of course, you will proceed to accuse me of the same.

Someone here mentioned “tu quoque”. Amusing.

Comment #170958

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 2:11 PM (e)

If the supernatural stops existing then indeed, ID which relies on a non-natural explanation seems to stop existing. Just because ID considers intelligence to be non-natural does of course not make its argument any less objectionable.

Why does ID reject theistic evolutionists’ explanations while seeming to be far more open to for instance young earth creationists? Why do IDers insist on interventionism rather than on front loading? Because of their reading of the bible I’d propose. What other reasons do you propose?

Comment #170959

Posted by C Bass on April 19, 2007 2:12 PM (e)

Wrong again, you lying ignoramus…

So why should I believe you, someone who hides behind a screen name and spews venom? Why should I believe anything coming from someone who calls himself “Raging Bee”, as opposed to university professors and historians?

You asked for substantiation. I provided it. End of story. That you refuse to accept it, and must go on an invective rant is not my problem.

Comment #170960

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 2:20 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Equivocation, misdirection, ad hominem, etc.

Of course, you will proceed to accuse me of the same.

If the shoe fits. Of course, that does not mean that your observations about others are incorrect nor that our observations are correct. It merely shows that there are two sides to the story. Pointing to the other side as an excuse for one’s own behaviors does not seem a very productive way to discuss.

YMMV of course.

Comment #170961

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 2:20 PM (e)

Equivocation, misdirection, ad hominem, etc.

mere projection, troll.

here’s your first quiz question:

In The Blind Watchmaker, why does Dawkins discuss clay in a riverbed?

an even more basic question:

what does Dawkins mean exactly, when he uses the expression, “Blind Watchmaker”? -what original argument is he referring to, and who made it?
-why does he say the watchmaker is “blind”?

if you read this, one of his most commonly read works, these will be easy questions to answer.

i already pointed out the Red Queen hypothesis to you, which is covered in his books, and you apparently haven’t the slightest clue about, but why don’t you tell me what other selection hypotheses are discussed by Dawkins in his books?
-name at least one.

Comment #170962

Posted by PvM on April 19, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

So why should I believe you, someone who hides behind a screen name and spews venom? Why should I believe anything coming from someone who calls himself “Raging Bee”, as opposed to university professors and historians?

Fascinating ‘logic’, C Bass. Say, is that your real name or

Comment #170964

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 2:27 PM (e)

Why should I believe anything coming from someone who calls himself “Raging Bee”, as opposed to university professors and historians?

one, how do you know that raging bee isn’t a professor?

two, why do accept the opinions of some historians and not others?

there are at least a handful of historians who are holocaust revisionists. does that mean you should accept their word for it?

flipping it around, why DON’T you believe the 99.999% of biological scientists who productively utilize evolutionary theory on a daily basis, as opposed to the extreme minority of overly vocal (and near wholly NOT biologically oriented) professors and lawyers and engineers claiming support for ID?

your thinking is completely (singing)bass-ackward here.

Comment #170967

Posted by CJO on April 19, 2007 2:53 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

So explain how the fact that ID can be described as a restatement of a Gospel means that it relies on that (or any other) gospel.

If X restates Y, and if Y stopped existing, would that mean that I could no longer state X independent of Y? If so, why?

PvM’s original assertion was:

PvM wrote:

From a theological and scientific perspective there is little difference [between ID and YEC], I’d argue. Both rely on cherry picking, ignorance to make their ‘scientific’ case. Both sides have made claims which have been shown to be erroneous. Both rely on the Bible to enforce their level of ignorance and reject good science.

(Bolding mine)

I think the Dembski quotation re: Logos theology is a good example of “rely[ing] on the Bible to … reject good science.” Very succinctly: Good science is not such a restatement. ID is. ID wins.

I don’t suppose that if ID had turned out to be a restatement of, say, Zoroastrian cosmogony, that Dembski’s camp would be quite so fired up about it, would they?

Comment #170968

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 19, 2007 3:02 PM (e)

First, it is highly unlikely I have Viking ancestors even being a Swede by many generations.

AND

Worse, Vikings were a social, and not ethnic, group.

I never said otherwise. You just have the attitude!

Third, not all of Europe was christian at the time. For example, the Kievan Rus’ principality was probably founded just by scandinavian traders, and it wasn’t christianized until about 200 years after the travels had started to pass the region.

I never said it was. However, to quote this website.:

Oriental Christianity, with the Byzantine civilization that was inseparable from it, produced in time a considerable transformation in Russia. The first effect of Christianity was to reform society, and draw closer family ties. It condemned polygamy, and forbade equal divisions between the children of a slave and those of the lawful wife. Society resisted this new principle for some time. Saint Vladimir, even after his conversion, divided his possessions equally among the children the Church regarded as natural and those she considered legitimate. In the long run Christianity prevailed, and by the abolition of polygamy the Russian family ceased to be Asiatic, and became European. Christianity prescribed new virtues, and gave the ancient barbaric virtues of hospitality and benevolence a more elevated character.

After the Gospel of Jesus was introduced, the Slavs became more literate, compassionate, and virtuous, in accordance with how Christ has always transformed peoples who came to him. However, facts that that are rarely taught at Darwinated universities on either side of the pond!

Fourth, I’m not a biologist. That I support science instead of anti-science does not’t make me an expert in evolutionary biology. So please refrain from mislabeling me and my expertise.

Out of curiosity, what is your area of expertise–gay porn?

Comment #170972

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 3:25 PM (e)

Darwinated universities

guffaw.

why is it all ID supporters are such dissemblers and idiots?

I suppose the only place they teach the REAL history of xianity is at Bob Jones?

Comment #170973

Posted by Raging Bee on April 19, 2007 3:27 PM (e)

Why should I believe anything coming from someone who calls himself “Raging Bee”, as opposed to university professors and historians?

Because the professors and historians back up my claims solidly. That’s where I’ve been getting the information – as well as from Holocaust survivors themselves.

Don’t believe me? Read the huge amount of books, articles and papers they’ve been publishing on the subject since 1933. The Nazis didn’t kill Jews, Commies, gays, Gypsies, blacks, Slavs, the mentally retarded and the malformed because of anything “Darwinists” wrote; they did it because they were flaming racists, and sold their racism as the solution to their country’s problems. Blaming “Darwinists” for any of this is both stupid and evil.

Does your ignorance of ID know no bounds? Michael Behe says that he has “no reason” to not believe that the earth and the universe are the billions of years old that geologists and cosmologists respectively say they are.

Does Behe say this to the creationists who pay his wages? Behe himself may say this, but ID “theory” explicitly refuses to take a position the subject, for fear of alienating their YEC supporters. For the same reason, they also explicitly refuse to engage in ANY speculation about the nature and purposes of their “Designer.”

Comment #170974

Posted by Raging Bee on April 19, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

Christianity prescribed new virtues, and gave the ancient barbaric virtues of hospitality and benevolence a more elevated character.

At least this author admits that Christians weren’t the only source of virtue on Earth.

Comment #170989

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 19, 2007 4:46 PM (e)

Christianity prescribed new virtues, and gave the ancient barbaric virtues of hospitality and benevolence a more elevated character.

At least this author admits that Christians weren’t the only source of virtue on Earth.

Yet this website is from one of the seminaries of Darwinism called Universities! Saying any good things about the Lovers of Jesus at all is not the way to advance your career in those places!

Comment #170990

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 4:47 PM (e)

oops, seems like our singing plastic bass has done disappeared on us.

no doubt he is madly re-reading his entire collection of Dawkins in order to answer the simple questions posed to him.

:P

Comment #170993

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 4:53 PM (e)

Saying any good things about the Lovers of Jesus at all is not the way to advance your career in those places!

aside from the fact that typically this is not a way to advance your career just about any place on the planet, how on earth would you know that exactly?

have you tried to advance your career at a university in such a fashion and been rebuffed?

methinks you and universities have never spent much time together.

heck, you and education haven’t spent much time together.

Comment #171010

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 19, 2007 6:35 PM (e)

methinks you and universities have never spent much time together.

Like other people seeking to expand their employment options, I have spent much money and time being force fed the rancid monkey meat of Darwinian propaganda and vomiting it up on exam days. What a crock that it!

How would you like it if your had to spend upwards of forty grand a year for four years sitting in Christian catechisms written in the most abstruse, boring style imaginable and since you have to take exams, you really do have to pay attention in order to get some “magic” sheet of paper that allows you to enter a myriad of professions. To add insult to injury, let’s suppose these churches providing this service were given ever-increasing amounts of government money because what you’re paying them just ain’t enough. How would you and your fellow Darwiniacs like that?

Comment #171012

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2007 6:42 PM (e)

Like other people seeking to expand their employment options, I have spent much money and time being force fed the rancid monkey meat of Darwinian propaganda and vomiting it up on exam days. What a crock that it!

wait, so you’re actually saying that you were forced to study evolutionary biology in order to expand your employment options.

ROFLMAO.

what a tired-ass liar you are.

go on and blow.

hard.

Comment #171021

Posted by Freelurker on April 19, 2007 7:37 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:
So, the authors seem to contradict your assertion that “[N]o one consciously … picks the desired outcome ahead of time …”
When you manage to get the difference between experiments and engineering straight in your mind, this discussion will have more meaning. Until then, we’re talking past each other.

No, the important distinction here comes from within engineering; it is the difference between the processes of requirements definition and of design.

Here, the selection pressure and the conditions are the requirements. They are indeed purposefully determined, but determining them is not part of design (at least, not to an engineer.)

The design process is the process of determining the components that will comprise a system such that the resulting system meets the defined requirements. Here, the evolutionary process performs the design.

Comment #171114

Posted by PvM on April 20, 2007 11:24 AM (e)

Hmm too bad that our friend has decided to leave as the discussion about the scientific irrelevance of ID had just started. Now we will never know what C Bass thinks of these observations

Comment #171157

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 4:07 PM (e)

In The Blind Watchmaker, why does Dawkins discuss clay in a riverbed?

My recollection is that it’s an origin-of-life scenario – I don’t recall the details, but the clay bits (dust) and water interact in such a way that clay can be seen as replicating at some level.

(Here’s where my inevitable inaccuracies of recollection are paraded as “examples” of my “ignorance”.)

what does Dawkins mean exactly, when he uses the expression, “Blind Watchmaker”? -what original argument is he referring to, and who made it?
-why does he say the watchmaker is “blind”?

He’s referring to William Paley’s “argument from design”, intended to provide evidence of God’s existence. In this argument, Paley hypothesizes walking through a field and finding a watch on the ground, and noticing from the way the watch is made that it’s a product of design and not random events. He equates the watch’s complexity with that of biological systems.

Dawkins writes that the creative force of organisms’ complexity, natural selection, is the blind watchmaker, because natural selection does indeed create complex life forms, but is a blind process, having no goals or foreknowledge or grand plan or “vision” (either literal or metaphorical).

why don’t you tell me what other selection hypotheses are discussed by Dawkins in his books?
-name at least one.

Does kin selection (an explanation for apparent altruism) qualify? Or are you looking for something else?

William A. Dembski wrote:

“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory,”

Science Avenger wrote:

Darwin’s words are not holy writ. Neither are Dawkins’.

Yet it seems that Dembksi’s words are – interesting.

(Here is where the Darwinians fall all over themselves to explain how the example of Dembski is “different”.)

PvM wrote:

All scientific pursuits have made claims that were subsequently “shown to be erroneous”. In fact, we keep hearing about how science is “self-correcting”, which implies that it must generate errors along the line. So your observation re: error is utterly bogus.

So many logical errors here. First of all not all ‘pursuits’ that have been shown to be erroneous have been scientific in nature.

Read what I said again, and try comprehending it this time. I didn’t say that “all ‘pursuits’ that have been shown to be erroneous have been scientific in nature”.

Just because ID asserts that ‘X cannot be explained by Y’ does not make ID scientifically relevant.

In and of itself, agreed.

Let me explain why ID is scientifically vacuous. It’s really simple: ID’s approach to infer design as the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance does not provide it with any foundation to make positive claims as to how a particular system can be explained.

The Darwinian model led to the claim that 98% of the human genome was junk. ID predicted that “junk DNA” would prove to have function, and such has been shown to be the case.

Comment #171161

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 4:20 PM (e)

how do you know that raging bee isn’t a professor?

I don’t “know” that he isn’t, but I can infer as much from the way he/she presents his/her viewpoints and arguments.

Right or wrong.

flipping it around, why DON’T you believe the 99.999% of biological scientists who productively utilize evolutionary theory on a daily basis, as opposed to the extreme minority of overly vocal (and near wholly NOT biologically oriented) professors and lawyers and engineers claiming support for ID?

Because I have looked at both sides, and the ID position simply makes more sense to me – and the Darwinians tend to be rather hostile when their theory is questioned.

I have yet to call anybody “troll” or “idiot” (except myself in self-deprecation, of course) or “dolt”, for example. Or “liar”.

Yet such has been levelled against me. Not that I didn’t expect it, of course.

Comment #171163

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 4:40 PM (e)

Read the huge amount of books, articles and papers they’ve been publishing on the subject since 1933.

Give me a couple of titles…

seems like our singing plastic bass has done disappeared on us.

Hmm too bad that our friend has decided to leave as the discussion about the scientific irrelevance of ID had just started. Now we will never know what C Bass thinks of these observations.

To paraphrase Twain, reports of my disappearance have been exaggerated.

The simple fact is that I have a life beyond this blog, and that life takes up large segments of my time. When several days have passed without any input from me, then you can assume that I’ve vamoosed.

By the way, interesting how someone who hides behind a screen name feels compelled to make fun of my name. Such behavior really doesn’t help your credibility.

Comment #171166

Posted by CJO on April 20, 2007 4:59 PM (e)

C Bass:

William A. Dembski wrote:

“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory,”

Science Avenger wrote:

Darwin’s words are not holy writ. Neither are Dawkins’.

Yet it seems that Dembksi’s words are – interesting.

(Here is where the Darwinians fall all over themselves to explain how the example of Dembski is “different”.)

No, here is where I point out, while sitting camly, that you’re not dealing with the issue, you’re trying to weasel your way out of it. You said: “…to claim that ID relies on the Bible is simply absurd, and reveals abject ignorance on your part.”
And I pulled out Dembski’s words, which, I guess you’re claiming that they shouldn’t be construed as a definitive statement of IDeology. I guess next you’ll tell PvM that “Dembski’s words aren’t holy writ” by way of weaseling out of your argument with him, too.

Furthermore, it’s nothing but misdirection to keep holding me to things I didn’t write, and have no control over, especially when the context is lost. Following Steve Reuland: yes, Science Avenger and I have made different points, each of us choosing to focus on a different set of the many abject failures of your argument. But SA and I do not have fundamental disagreements about what Darwinian processes can accomplish and in what domains they operate. There is where the argument lies, not in your facility with dredging up snippets in a feeble attempt to portray your adversaries as inconsistant or dishonest.

Comment #171169

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 5:14 PM (e)

CJO wrote:

I don’t suppose that if ID had turned out to be a restatement of, say, Zoroastrian cosmogony, that Dembski’s camp would be quite so fired up about it, would they?

Well, not everyone in “Dembski’s camp” is a Christian, so who knows?

Richard Dawkins wrote:

Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

So it’s okay for Dawkins to be motivated by his beliefs, but it isn’t okay for theists – their motivation is conflated with the hypothesis itself, in order to discredit the hypothesis.

(Again, the Darwinians will proceed to fall all over themselves trying to explain how Dawkins is “different”.)

Comment #171175

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 20, 2007 5:24 PM (e)

and the ID position simply makes more sense to me

there ya have it.

intuition guides ID support.

nothing more.

that’s why it ain’t science.

more later.

Comment #171176

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 5:30 PM (e)

CJO wrote:

No, here is where I point out, while sitting camly, that you’re not dealing with the issue, you’re trying to weasel your way out of it.

Nope. I explained that the Dembski quote doesn’t show any “reliance” on the Bible on ID’s part, regardless of your protestations to the contrary. If X restates something that Y states, that isn’t evidence that X depends on Y. They are simply different explanations of phenomena. In one case, it’s “logos theology”, in another, “information theory”.

Two different explanations for the existence of information in the genome, for example.

Behe and Meyer both state that ID depends on scientific evidence, not holy writ.

So are they wrong?

Comment #171178

Posted by C Bass on April 20, 2007 5:33 PM (e)

intuition guides ID support. nothing more.

Vacuous nonsense on your part.

More later.

Comment #171179

Posted by David B. Benson on April 20, 2007 5:40 PM (e)

C Bass — Behe and Meyer are wrong in the sense that ID is not testable, hence not part of natural science.

Comment #171182

Posted by Richard Simons on April 20, 2007 5:50 PM (e)

Pumpkinhead said

I have spent much money and time being force fed the rancid monkey meat of Darwinian propaganda and vomiting it up on exam days. What a crock that it!

How would you like it if your had to spend upwards of forty grand a year for four years sitting in Christian catechisms written in the most abstruse, boring style imaginable and since you have to take exams, you really do have to pay attention in order to get some “magic” sheet of paper that allows you to enter a myriad of professions.

If this is truly a reflection of your experiences at university I am amazed that you managed to find a place so awful. I think it is much more likely that you are just being inventive. I cannot recall any of your posts that has shown the slightest evidence of a university education, most of them consisting of insults and no substance. In fact, based on the amount of invective I see in your posts, the impression I get is that you have a deep fear of educational institutions and educated people. Are you the odd one out in a family of educated people?

Comment #171184

Posted by Science Avenger on April 20, 2007 5:54 PM (e)

Jesus H Christ people, Pumpkinhead is Colbert already. C Bass is O’Reilly.

Comment #171185

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 20, 2007 5:59 PM (e)

Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

So it’s okay for Dawkins to be motivated by his beliefs,

You’ve got the motivation backwards, in the case of Dawkins.

but it isn’t okay for theists –

It’s ok to be motivated by beliefs. It’s just wrong to claim them as science.

their motivation is conflated with the hypothesis itself, in order to discredit the hypothesis.

Actually, they conflate their beliefs with their conclusion.

And, what “hypothesis”? Surely something falsifiable.

If you’re so against this so called equivocation, by all means elucidate any of these terms for us, since we’ve had some trouble understanding them:
a) specified complexity,
b) irreducible complexity,
c) the theory of intelligent design.

We came up with some questions…

Comment #171292

Posted by PvM on April 21, 2007 2:08 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

The Darwinian model led to the claim that 98% of the human genome was junk. ID predicted that “junk DNA” would prove to have function, and such has been shown to be the case.

Seems that you have somewhat uncritically accepted these claims by the creationists and yet, a little background research mixed with the application of reason and logic and you would have come to realize that the facts are slightly different than portrayed by IC creationists

1. It was not the Darwinian model which led to the claim that 98% of the human genome was junk, it was the neutral model which led to such a claim.
2. Junk DNA was originally used to refer to pseudo genes, which are genes which have lost function due to mutations. Only later was it used, somewhat unfortunately to refer to all DNA that was non-coding for proteins.
3. However, people already realized that the term was unfortunate as it would lead to confusions that this DNA had no function at all. In fact scientists already realized that regulatory parts of the gene were part of this ‘junk DNA’. In addition, scientists knew that there were long stretches of well conserved ‘junk DNA’ and Darwinian theory suggested that these DNA thus should have some function.

Now we come to the claim that ID predicted function for junk DNA. First of all, history will show that it was creationists who came up with this ‘prediction’ not ID. In fact, remember that ID is nothing more than the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity. Or in case of junk DNA, it accepted, as did science, that junk DNA remained largely unexplained. Yet, ID suggested that this unexplained DNA somehow was relevant to the ID thesis, which it was not. ID first of all had no logical foundation for making this prediction beyond pointing to our ignorance. In fact, in order to make the claim that junk dna should have function, ID had to make assumptions about the designer, and ID is clear that it is in no position to do so. In fact, it was creationist assumptions about the Designer which led to the ‘prediction’.

In other words, lets not be fooled by this ignorant claim that ID somehow predicted junk DNA to have function. Also realize that since we know have found function for some Junk DNA (IDers have contributed little to this), we now know that the evidence of ID is even less since another gap in our knowledge (chance and regularity processes) has been filled.

Hope this clarifies the scientific vacuity of ID in some accessible terms?

Comment #171295

Posted by PvM on April 21, 2007 2:18 PM (e)

intuition guides ID support. nothing more.

It’s worse than that, we already know that humans possess an incredibly sensitive ‘detection filter’ which over generates false positives and thus makes the design inference likely to be useless.
Combine this with a predisposition that enforces seeing design and one has a recipe for disaster, theologically speaking as well as scientifically speaking. That disaster is also known by the term ‘intelligent design’ which is nothing more than what remains when we have eliminated known hypothetical pathways…. In fact, as Dembski had to admit, a design detection does mean little for the concept of agency with cannot even exclude natural selection as the agent.
In other words, ID proponents seem to be unaware of the shakey foundations of their own ‘theory’

Comment #171312

Posted by PvM on April 21, 2007 4:55 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

So it’s okay for Dawkins to be motivated by his beliefs, but it isn’t okay for theists – their motivation is conflated with the hypothesis itself, in order to discredit the hypothesis.

(Again, the Darwinians will proceed to fall all over themselves trying to explain how Dawkins is “different”.)

Nope, it’s okay to be motivated by atheism, christianity etc, but the problem is when such faith becomes the foundation for ‘science’ rather than merely a motivator.

The reason why ID’s thesis is ‘conflated’ with their motivations is because they claim, erroneously, that they have a scientific theory which can accurately detect design. Through equivocation and conflation, they then confuse design with Design and then Designer.

Comment #171313

Posted by David B. Benson on April 21, 2007 5:16 PM (e)

PvM — shakey foundations is too gentle.

Unfounded assumptions?

Comment #171373

Posted by C Bass on April 22, 2007 9:54 AM (e)

William A. Dembski wrote:

“Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory”

Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account, Part II: Assessing Dr. Forrest’s Usage of Quotations from ID Proponents

Is that actually Dembski’s “definition” of intelligent design? Dr. Forrest’s “Logos quote” was taken from an article in Touchstone, a Christian magazine, at the end of an article in a section titled “Design, Metaphysics, & Beyond.” Clearly Dembski is looking at design in a much broader context for a Christian audience, “beyond” its formulation as a science.

ID advocates tend to get raked over the coals for “quote mining”, yet it seems okay for you guys to do it. As I suspected, this quote was taken out of context.

No one disputes that ID has theistic implications, but you guys insist on conflating the implication with the hypothesis. The two are separate.

Comment #171374

Posted by C Bass on April 22, 2007 10:01 AM (e)

The reason why ID’s thesis is ‘conflated’ with their motivations is because they claim, erroneously, that they have a scientific theory which can accurately detect design. Through equivocation and conflation, they then confuse design with Design and then Designer.

Nope. On the contrary, that’s what you guys do, “confuse design with Design and then Designer”, in order to make the vacuous claims you do (ID is religion, or is based on religion, ad nauseam).

Comment #171375

Posted by C Bass on April 22, 2007 10:04 AM (e)

The reason why ID’s thesis is ‘conflated’ with their motivations is because they claim, erroneously, that they have a scientific theory which can accurately detect design. Through equivocation and conflation, they then confuse design with Design and then Designer.

Nope. On the contrary, that’s what you guys do, “confuse design with Design and then Designer”, in order to make the vacuous claims you do (ID is religion, or is based on religion, ad nauseam).

Comment #171376

Posted by C Bass on April 22, 2007 10:08 AM (e)

Combine this with a predisposition that enforces seeing design and one has a recipe for disaster, theologically speaking as well as scientifically speaking.

What a load of doubletalk drivel.

“Combine this with a predisposition that enforces the refusal to acknowledge design and one has a recipe for disaster, scientifically speaking. That disaster is known as Darwinian evolution…”

Comment #171377

Posted by C Bass on April 22, 2007 10:15 AM (e)

PvM — shakey foundations is too gentle.

Unfounded assumptions?

Okay guys, what, exactly, are these “foundations/assumptions” of which you speak? Give me a list of these “shakey/unfounded “ foundations/assumptions.

Comment #171381

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:40 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Okay guys, what, exactly, are these “foundations/assumptions” of which you speak? Give me a list of these “shakey/unfounded “ foundations/assumptions.

Simple: That the design inference forms a solid, reliable foundation to detect design in nature.

Comment #171382

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

“Combine this with a predisposition that enforces the refusal to acknowledge design and one has a recipe for disaster, scientifically speaking. That disaster is known as Darwinian evolution…”

On the contrary, Darwin accepted design and explained it in scientific terms. Unlike ID which has remained scientifically without any merits, Darwinian evolution started a revolution in science.

See the difference?

Comment #171383

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:48 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

Nope. On the contrary, that’s what you guys do, “confuse design with Design and then Designer”, in order to make the vacuous claims you do (ID is religion, or is based on religion, ad nauseam)

Actually, the story is a bit more subtle so let me help you here. ID failed to be scientifically relevant, ID is founded in a belief that materialism should be replaced with God (see the Wedge) and that ID can provide a sufficient scientific foundation. Now that ID has failed scientifically, all that remains is the history of ID which points, as the judge in Kitzmiller so carefully pointed out, to a rich Christian tradition. Combine that with the findings that ID is scientifically vacuous and you come to realize why ID is theologically most relevant and most dangerous. Which is why theologians are often quick to reject ID.

Comment #171397

Posted by Moses on April 22, 2007 1:50 PM (e)

Comment #168902

Posted by Tom Groover MSEE on April 9, 2007 2:47 PM (e)

Now I’ve really heard it all. For the first time I come to understand there are “evolutionary methods” as if to say evolution is methodical and not purely random-based.

First you must ask yourself: Is my ears hearing? Is my eyes reading?

So if evolution is methodical, who devised the method? The experimenter? Would such a method select the “fittest” for “survival”? With logic such as this is it any wonder you guys are having to spend huge amounts of energy the past few years arguing and insulting us ignoramuses, on the controversy that supposedly doesn’t exist, you know, the one that dominates discussion on PT?

Why are you confusing nature and the lab? If I build a model volcano to try and understand the fluid dynamics of basaltic lava, it doesn’t mean the FSM “designed” Krakatoa.

Comment #171399

Posted by Moses on April 22, 2007 2:15 PM (e)

Too bad this thread got derailed by the “Evolution = Eugenics” idiots. Eugenics is not descended from evolutionary theory, but has been described in classic literature going back to the days of the Greeks. Plato mentions eugenic concepts in “The Republic” and the Spartans, as a city-state, practiced eugenics.

Selective breeding was suggested at least as far back as Plato, who believed human reproduction should be controlled by government. He recorded these ideals in The Republic: “The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior.” Plato proposed that the process be concealed from the public via a form of lottery. Other ancient examples include Sparta’s purported practice of infanticide. However, they would leave all babies outside for a length of time, and the survivors were considered stronger, while many “weaker” babies perished.

One, of many, many, many historical examples. And, forget the Greeks if you will, these ideas have been invented in many a culture before Darwin came up with his “Theory of Evolution” and his (religious) cousin Galton, a Quaker, took it to further expand western ideas in eugenics. Anyway, thanks for ruining the thread. Not.

Comment #171479

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

Posted by PvM on April 21, 2007 2:18 PM

Combine this with a predisposition that enforces seeing design and one has a recipe for disaster…

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

On the contrary, Darwin accepted design…

Comment #171482

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 10:30 AM (e)

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:40 AM

C Bass wrote:

Okay guys, what, exactly, are these “foundations/assumptions” of which you speak? Give me a list of these “shakey/unfounded “ foundations/assumptions.

Simple: That the design inference forms a solid, reliable foundation to detect design in nature.

Posted by PvM on April 22, 2007 11:42 AM

Darwin accepted design…

Comment #171491

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 10:52 AM (e)

I am not sure why C Bass quote mines rather than makes an attempt at comprehending the arguments. Or perhaps he has?
Darwin indeed accepted design and found natural selection to be a likely agency. He did however not rely on the flawed approach by ID to infer design based on ignorance, on the contrary… When ID proponents are asked about mechanisms they quickly are to reject such a request as ‘pathetic’

Comment #171493

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 11:07 AM (e)

I am not sure why C Bass quote mines…

To show how you contradict yourself.

Darwin indeed accepted design and found natural selection to be a likely agency.

IDists indeed accept design and find intelligence to be the likely agency.

He did however not rely on the flawed approach by ID to infer design based on ignorance…

IDists don’t use the “flawed approach” you attribute to them, and Darwin did indeed infer design (as you have admitted) based on ignorance – he didn’t even understand the inheritance mechanism.

Comment #171497

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 11:21 AM (e)

I am not sure why C Bass quote mines…

To show how you contradict yourself.

As I explained, there was no contradiction

Darwin indeed accepted design and found natural selection to be a likely agency.

IDists indeed accept design and find intelligence to be the likely agency.

Intelligence is a ruse for ‘we don’t know’, just check ID’s approach. No mechanisms, no pathways nothing

He did however not rely on the flawed approach by ID to infer design based on ignorance…

IDists don’t use the “flawed approach” you attribute to them, and Darwin did indeed infer design (as you have admitted) based on ignorance

How does it feel to be wrong so many times. Please explain to me how you ignore the design inference approach which is nothing more than the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, also known as ‘we don’t know’.

It’s time to do the hard work C Bass, no more empty accusations. Present your case, if you have any. I doubt it though since you focus on imagined contradictions.

Is this the best ID has to offer?

Comment #171499

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 11:31 AM (e)

How does it feel to be wrong so many times.

You tell me – I wouldn’t know.

Please explain to me how you ignore the design inference approach which is nothing more than the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, also known as ‘we don’t know’.

After you explain what methods SETI uses to detect intelligence from space.

Oh, right, SETI, advocated by the late Carl Sagan, isn’t science, either.

…no more empty accusations…

The irony is precious.

Is this the best ID has to offer?

Of course it is – your mind is already made up.

Comment #171500

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 23, 2007 11:33 AM (e)

IDists don’t use the “flawed approach” you attribute to them, and Darwin did indeed infer design (as you have admitted) based on ignorance – he didn’t even understand the inheritance mechanism.

Darwin was ignorant of many things, but that’s different than using the argument from ignorance: this is the flawed approach of ID. Namely, “I don’t see how a natural process can come up with this design. Therefore, an unnatural process must have done it.”

Nitpick granted: PvM did contradict himself by overloading the term “design”. I think he meant “Combine this with a predisposition that enforces seeing teleology and one has a recipe for disaster.” PvM, correct my putting words in your mouth.

But, as has been pointed out, “design” is an overloaded term, sometimes including teleology and sometimes not. The ID crowd overloads the term as well.

Comment #171504

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

…nothing more than the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, also known as ‘we don’t know’…

Random variation + natural selection built Man from Mud. What’s the exact, step-by-step process? “We Don’t Know”.

“But we still believe that it happened that way.”

It’s okay for “true scientists” to say “we don’t know”, but somehow it’s wrong for IDists (assuming the validity of your assertion to begin with).

Comment #171505

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 11:43 AM (e)

After you explain what methods SETI uses to detect intelligence from space.

Oh, right, SETI, advocated by the late Carl Sagan, isn’t science, either.

SETI does not use appeal to ignorance but rather infers design from known narrow band emissions to look for ‘human like’ intelligence.

…no more empty accusations…

The irony is precious.

Is this the best ID has to offer?

Of course it is – your mind is already made up.

So far your defense seems to be ineffective. Let me ask again. Is this the best ID has to offer? Focus my dear friend, focus. This is your moment to shine. If ID is unable to shine on its own and depends on faith and belief, then perhaps ID is not really that relevant after all.

I have provided sufficient reasons why ID is vacuous. No need to further strengthen my argument..

Comment #171506

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 11:47 AM (e)

…nothing more than the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity, also known as ‘we don’t know’…

Random variation + natural selection built Man from Mud. What’s the exact, step-by-step process? “We Don’t Know”.

Now we are getting somewhere. At least C Bass is not trying to defend the vacuity of ID but believes erroneously that evolution is based on similar ignorance. Let’s explore this in some detail. For instance, evolution needs to explain the origin of ‘information’ in the genome. How does it explain this? Contrary to ID’s predictions complex specified information can arise via the processes of variation and selection (Adami, Schneider, Ofria and others).

“But we still believe that it happened that way.”

It’s okay for “true scientists” to say “we don’t know”, but somehow it’s wrong for IDists (assuming the validity of your assertion to begin with).

Not at all, I’d love to hear IDists to challenge science but most of the time they are just enforcing our ignorance, supporting my case that ID cannot even compete with ignorance.

Let me ask you: How does ID explain the flagellum?

QED

Comment #171508

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 11:51 AM (e)

Darwin was ignorant of many things, but that’s different than using the argument from ignorance: this is the flawed approach of ID. Namely, “I don’t see how a natural process can come up with this design. Therefore, an unnatural process must have done it.”

But that isn’t the ID position – it’s just the straw man that ID critics erect.

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Simply an adaptation of the principle of uniformity.

Such features include data storage, data replication, data translation, rotary motors, encoding, etc.

But you’ve already heard all this “crap” before, and have already dismissed it.

Comment #171509

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 11:52 AM (e)

Nitpick granted: PvM did contradict himself by overloading the term “design”. I think he meant “Combine this with a predisposition that enforces seeing teleology and one has a recipe for disaster.” PvM, correct my putting words in your mouth.

Teleology is also an overloaded term, see Mayr and Ayala for instance who argue that teleology is the inevitable outcome of variation and selection for function.

I am comparing ID’s version of ‘design’ which is the set theoretic complement of chance and regularity with Darwin proposing a positive mechanism of agency, namely natural selection. Of course, like any scientist, Darwin was ignorant of many details but that did not stop him from being scientifically relevant. While many people of his day were still assigning a creative role to one or more unnamed designers, Darwin lifted part of the veil of ignorance with his proposals.
You may as well ask: How does ID explain ‘X’ and the answer is simple: ID is not in the business of explaining anything…It just has defined our ignorance to be ‘design’ and that’s it.

Comment #171510

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 11:59 AM (e)

Darwin was ignorant of many things, but that’s different than using the argument from ignorance: this is the flawed approach of ID. Namely, “I don’t see how a natural process can come up with this design. Therefore, an unnatural process must have done it.”

But that isn’t the ID position – it’s just the straw man that ID critics erect.

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Simply an adaptation of the principle of uniformity.

Such features include data storage, data replication, data translation, rotary motors, encoding, etc.

But you’ve already heard all this “crap” before, and have already dismissed it.

That humans have been able to put some of the features evolution has uncovered should come as no surprise, to see this however as evidence of design misses the point. ID provides no explanations, no predictions, nothing other than to point out that it looks designed because we do not yet know how it happened.

Scientists have taken a similar position: It is indeed a product of design and the designers are variation, natural selection, drift and many other mechanisms which are variations on the same theme. Remember that ID’s design inference is merely the ‘set theoretic complement of regularity and chance’ or ‘that which remains when we have eliminated known hypotheses’. In other words, ‘we don’t know’. Historically, design has been inferred to explain lightning, volcanoes and you name it… Luckily science escaped its ignorance of those days and found natural explanations for these phenomena.

ID in the mean time had relocate itself to hide in the ever smaller shadows of our ignorance.

Comment #171520

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 23, 2007 1:04 PM (e)

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Well, we have seen this crap before. It’s the same argument as
“Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of human design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of human design.

Please tell me why your statement of the ID position is more logical than my “human design inference.

Comment #171523

Posted by Raging Bee on April 23, 2007 1:37 PM (e)

The Darwinian model led to the claim that 98% of the human genome was junk.

Darwin didn’t even know that DNA or the human genome even existed, so no, the “Darwinian model” said no such thing. You’re also making too much of the word “junk,” despite SEVERAL posts on several threads attempting to correct you on this.

Because I have looked at both sides, and the ID position simply makes more sense to me…

In other words, you know that the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists agree on a particular theory, and have the evidence to back it up, and you’ve chosen to ignore that concensus, for reasons that have nothing at all to do with the actual science.

…and the Darwinians tend to be rather hostile when their theory is questioned.

Yeah, right, the creationists have blamed evolution, and science in general, for eugenics, the Holocaust, Stalinism, Nazism, and now the Virginia Tech killings, but “Darwinists” are being “hostile.” Bass, you’re a hypocritical crybaby.

I have yet to call anybody “troll” or “idiot” (except myself in self-deprecation, of course) or “dolt”, for example. Or “liar”.

Yet such has been levelled against me. Not that I didn’t expect it, of course.

Gosh, it’s so unfair that people who act stupid get called stupid, especially after their ministers assured them that a few bits of the Bible was all they needed to know. Poor child, you have our pity. Why don’t you try beating up a few professors? That’s how creationists are coping in Turkey.

So it’s okay for Dawkins to be motivated by his beliefs, but it isn’t okay for theists – their motivation is conflated with the hypothesis itself, in order to discredit the hypothesis.

No, the motivation of SOME theists is inferred from the dishonesty of their “arguments.” And sometimes, their motivations are directly stated; ever heard of the “Wedge Document?” Nor does Dawkins’ belief justify your dishonesty.

Nope. I explained that the Dembski quote doesn’t show any “reliance” on the Bible on ID’s part…

For the umpteenth time, please explain the origin and significance of the phrase “cdesign proponentsists.”

Comment #171526

Posted by CJO on April 23, 2007 1:42 PM (e)

please explain the origin and significance of the phrase “cdesign proponentsists.”

Random mutation. See, that’s Darwin’s fault too!
/truthiness

Comment #171553

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 3:21 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Gosh, it’s so unfair that people who act stupid get called stupid…

But the point is that I didn’t call you stupid, no matter how stupidly you acted (and continue to act, assuming it is only an act).

GuyeFaux wrote:

Please tell me why your statement of the ID position is more logical than my “human design inference.

For starters, how about the fact that some of the objects in question predate humans? Unless you have a “logical” explanation as to how humans could have designed their own blood clotting cascade, for example.

Comment #171558

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 3:36 PM (e)

SETI does not use appeal to ignorance but rather infers design…

SETI infers design, which is what ID does, no matter how much you emptily assert otherwise.

Comment #171559

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 3:43 PM (e)

Historically, design has been inferred to explain lightning, volcanoes and you name it…

This looks like flagrant cognitive dissonance – when you see the word “design” on your screen (or on paper), it somehow winds up being interpreted as “GOD” in you mind – the two words are used synonymously.

Comment #171560

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 3:51 PM (e)

…the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists agree…

Don’t you guys get tired of trotting out this worn-out old horse? Depending on who you talk to, “the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists agree” that man is causing global warming. Three centuries ago, “the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists” believed the phlogiston theory.

Comment #171561

Posted by Raging Bee on April 23, 2007 3:55 PM (e)

This looks like flagrant cognitive dissonance – when you see the word “design” on your screen (or on paper), it somehow winds up being interpreted as “GOD” in you mind – the two words are used synonymously.

Gee, I wonder why so many of us do that. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that nearly all of the people who call themselves “design proponents” used to call themselves “creationists,” and are using the whole “intelligent design” schtick as an excuse to get their creation-stories taught as “science.” Then, too, there’s the fact that most of the politicians who are pushing to have “intelligent design” taught in science classes, have explicitly justified their actions on religious grounds. Not only that, but we have lots of “intelligent design” arguments that sound eerily similar to “creationist” arguments, with nothing changed but the titles (hint: that’s where the phrase “cdesign proponentsists” comes from, which you refuse to admit when it’s waved in your face).

SETI infers design, which is what ID does, no matter how much you emptily assert otherwise.

The differences between SETI and ID have been more than adequately described in other PT posts. (For starters, the SETI folks do NOT infer supernatural agency.) Try googling SETI and looking at all the “pandasthumb.org” posts that come up.

Comment #171565

Posted by Pumpkinhead on April 23, 2007 4:15 PM (e)

Pumpkinhead said

I have spent much money and time being force fed the rancid monkey meat of Darwinian propaganda and vomiting it up on exam days. What a crock that it!

How would you like it if your had to spend upwards of forty grand a year for four years sitting in Christian catechisms written in the most abstruse, boring style imaginable and since you have to take exams, you really do have to pay attention in order to get some “magic” sheet of paper that allows you to enter a myriad of professions.

If this is truly a reflection of your experiences at university I am amazed that you managed to find a place so awful. I think it is much more likely that you are just being inventive. I cannot recall any of your posts that has shown the slightest evidence of a university education, most of them consisting of insults and no substance. In fact, based on the amount of invective I see in your posts, the impression I get is that you have a deep fear of educational institutions and educated people. Are you the odd one out in a family of educated people?

Well, it appears that the Holy See of Evolutionism has opened its vault for all comers to partake of for free. The catch is you don’t get any credit. Now, it is understandable that since they can’t tell if you really pass the exams at the end of these courses, so it might follow you don’t deserve any, but is the proctoring of exams really worth this price tag?, since this seems to be the only real service the arrogant, tweed-jacketed pinheads seem to really provide. Now, even if you believe the Darwinian catechism has some intrinsic value, is this the real reason people attend?

Comment #171568

Posted by fnxtr on April 23, 2007 4:24 PM (e)

C Bass:

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Simply an adaptation of the principle of uniformity.

Such features include data storage, data replication, data translation, rotary motors, encoding, etc.

Could you please explain how this is any different from assuming the Giants’ Causeway was actually built by giants? Sure looks like a bridge to me…

Comment #171577

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 23, 2007 5:18 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Which I said is logically built on the same inference as

“Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of human design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of human design.

But the my “human design inference” is absurd because the facts contradict the consequence:

C Bass wrote:

For starters, how about the fact that some of the objects in question predate humans? Unless you have a “logical” explanation as to how humans could have designed their own blood clotting cascade, for example.

Since the same logical inference is used in your statement of the ID position, and since that logical inference is unsound, your statement of the ID position is logically unsound.

If your statement of ID’s position is correct, ID is built on logically fallacious reasoning. You kindly provided the absurdum.

Comment #171584

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 5:56 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Gee, I wonder why so many of us do that. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that…

There you go again, conflating motivation with the hypothesis itself.

For starters, the SETI folks do NOT infer supernatural agency.

Neither does ID, no matter how much ID critics assert otherwise. (That cognitive dissonance thingy again.)

GuyeFaux wrote:

Since the same logical inference is used in your statement of the ID position, and since that logical inference is unsound, your statement of the ID position is logically unsound.

No. ID doesn’t make any inferences with regard to the designer, only with regard to design. By introducing human design, you crossed that line from valid scientific inference based on the data over into speculation on the nature of the designer. Ergo, the rest of your argument is invalid.

Comment #171586

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 6:01 PM (e)

SETI infers design, which is what ID does, no matter how much you emptily assert otherwise.

ID infers what they call ‘design’ but in fact is the ‘set theoretic complement of regularity and chance’. Quite a difference, although ID relies on the conflation with regular design to make its vacuous claims.

Comment #171587

Posted by CJO on April 23, 2007 6:01 PM (e)

ID doesn’t make any inferences with regard to the designer, only with regard to design.

Yes, and if you’d been doing something other than the equivalent of puting your fingers in your ears while PvM was addressing your argument, you would know that this “important concession” means ID can’t even eliminate natural selection as “the designer.”

Comment #171588

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 6:02 PM (e)

Don’t you guys get tired of trotting out this worn-out old horse? Depending on who you talk to, “the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists agree” that man is causing global warming.

And they are of course right. Not a very good example.

Comment #171593

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 7:04 PM (e)

Don’t you guys get tired of trotting out this worn-out old horse? Depending on who you talk to, “the overwhelming majority of knowledgeable scientists agree” that man is causing global warming.

And they are of course right. Not a very good example.

Is man the cause of global warming on mars? Did man cause the global warming of the middle ages?

The fact that you reply the way you did (“they are of course right”) tells me all I need to know…

Sure, the earth is getting warmer, but the claim that man is causing it is questionable, at the very least.

‘set theoretic complement of regularity and chance’

Explain how this isn’t what SETI is looking for. After all, SETI isn’t looking for regularity, otherwise pulsars would fill the bill. They aren’t looking for chance, for that would be random noise, novae, etc. Since they are looking for neither random noise nor regularity, what’s left over? The set theoretic compliment of the two. What else is there?

Comment #171597

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 23, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

I wrote:

Since the same logical inference is used in your statement of the ID position, and since that logical inference is unsound, your statement of the ID position is logically unsound.

No. ID doesn’t make any inferences with regard to the designer, only with regard to design. By introducing human design, you crossed that line from valid scientific inference based on the data over into speculation on the nature of the designer. Ergo, the rest of your argument is invalid.

Firstly, what line exactly was crossed when “design” was qualified? Secondly, “human” as I used it is an adjective qualifier that does not posit an agent, and thirdly this inference is equally absurd but guaranteed agent-free:

Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of human-like design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of human-like design.

Now, if you want to rule out any qualifications on design, the statement of ID is a nice tautology with “design” an empty and ultimately un-describable term. Hence CJO’s apt point:

CJO wrote:

…you would know that this “important concession” means ID can’t even eliminate natural selection as “the designer.”

Comment #171601

Posted by David B. Benson on April 23, 2007 7:28 PM (e)

C Bass — The middle age warm period was largely restricted to Europe. Not global. As for the current warming:

Carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas. The physics behind this statement has been well understood for over a century.

By burning fossil carbon, humans have put and are continuing to put a huge slug of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide content grows yearly, by direct measurements for over 50 years now. By radiocarbon techniques this excess is fossil carbon. Economic data shows humans are consuming fossil fuels.

Therefore the climate has warmed and will continue to warm. This warmth is entirely due to anthropogenic causes.

Do try to learn something about your subject before posting, will you?

Comment #171602

Posted by Richard Simons on April 23, 2007 7:37 PM (e)

C Bass says

Did man cause the global warming of the middle ages?

What warm period in the middle ages? The Medieval Warm Period is now known to have been restricted to parts of the northern hemisphere. RealClimate shows a reconstruction of temperature variation for the northern hemisphere and even there almost no sign of a warm period can be seen.

Global warming as a result of increasing CO2 has been predicted for a long time (I first heard of it as an agricultural botany student in the 1960s). For it not to be taking place, there must be some major physical process remaining to be discovered.

To say that it is questionable as to whether humans are causing climate change has, in the last ten years, become ludicrous.

Comment #171603

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 7:41 PM (e)

David B. Benson wrote:

C Bass — The middle age warm period was largely restricted to Europe. Not global.

Research casts doubt on global warming theory (Emphasis added):

The review, by a Harvard University team, examined the findings of studies of temperature proxies such as tree rings, ice cores and historical accounts that allowed scientists to estimate temperatures.

The findings prove that the world had a medieval warm period between the ninth and 14th centuries, with world temperatures significantly higher than today’s.

Do try to learn something about your subject before posting, will you?

You first.

Comment #171605

Posted by C Bass on April 23, 2007 7:47 PM (e)

I see that no one addresses global warming on mars.

Comment #171606

Posted by David B. Benson on April 23, 2007 7:48 PM (e)

C Bass — A paper on climatology published in 2003 is considered old.

Follow the link to RealClimate provided for you just above your post. Go find the thread which discusses the medieval warm period.

Current information about climate and climatology is found there.

Not here.

And since I have been following RealClimate for over a year now, have read 3.5 books on climatology and about a dozen papers on aspects of the subject, I have already gone first…

Comment #171607

Posted by David B. Benson on April 23, 2007 7:51 PM (e)

C Bass — Warming on Mars is also to be found in a thread on RealClimate.

It is completely irrelevant to a discussion of anthropogenic global climate change here on earth…

Jeez.

Comment #171612

Posted by Freelurker on April 23, 2007 8:49 PM (e)

For starters, the SETI folks do NOT infer supernatural agency.

C Bass wrote:
Neither does ID, no matter how much ID critics assert otherwise.

Then can you explain why UD has a beef with “materialism?”

Comment #171615

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 9:32 PM (e)

Is man the cause of global warming on mars? Did man cause the global warming of the middle ages?

Very good questions and the answer is a simple no. And I do understand how such ‘arguments’ may sound like compelling evidence against the anthropogenic global warming but this is based on an overly simplistic view of nature. First of all, there are many components which affect the global temperature. For instance the ‘global warming’ on Mars seems to be nothing more than summer arriving. However, when one relies on popular science sources for one’s information, one may not be familiar as to how science explains these observations.

Realclimate provides us with some good starting materials which will allow us to do our homework. Now I am very aware of the few who have argued that solar input variations or solar spots are causing global warming but none of these have withstood closer scrutiny.

As to the ‘global warming’ of the middle ages, I fail to see the relevance. But perhaps you can explain

The fact that you reply the way you did (“they are of course right”) tells me all I need to know…

Sure, the earth is getting warmer, but the claim that man is causing it is questionable, at the very least.

On the contrary, the claim that man is causing it has been quite solidly established. Now I understand that global warming deniers and evolution deniers seem to largely overlap. However my interest in debunking ignorance has prepared me well to address both of these issues.

First of all we have the observation that the temperature has been increasing
Second of all we have the observation that humans have caused an increase in the CO2 emissions
Thirdly we have evidence that these human contributions are essential to accurately model the temperature records

In other words, we have mechanism, cause and effect, exactly as predicted from theory, models and data.

Why it is that evolution deniers seem to also be found of global warming denial is beyond me. Is it their belief that controversial ideas must somehow be more correct? Is it a more general tendency to be fooled once, and fooled again? I am not sure. But the trend certainly seems worrisome to me.

I thought I would never have the opportunity to expose the scientific vacuity of ID and global warming denial in one single thread. I do thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.

Comment #171616

Posted by PvM on April 23, 2007 9:36 PM (e)

Man, this seems like my birthday.. What a present. Not only do I get to expose the vacuity of ID but in the same thread I get to expose the fallacies of global warming deniers.

What a treat indeed. I wonder if C Bass will stick around long enough to be educated about these issues. Nevertheless, I hope it will serve as an opportunity to expose two vacuous concepts in one go ID and global warming deniers.

Praise be to the Lord.

Comment #171622

Posted by Raging Bee on April 23, 2007 10:09 PM (e)

Neither does ID, no matter how much ID critics assert otherwise. (That cognitive dissonance thingy again.)

We “assert otherwise” because ID proponents themselves do so. Your refusal to acknowledge this obvious and well-documented fact (read the Wedge Document again) proves that you are incapable of arguing as an honest adult, and there is no more use in arguing with you than in arguing with a flat-Earther. Buh-bye.

Comment #171679

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 24, 2007 9:04 AM (e)

Man, this seems like my birthday.. What a present.

Yes, I think C Bass has been a nice gift. He’s leaving all the same logical loose ends as ID, which puts him in a category above Sal in my book. Sal just sort of wraps the loose ends into each other by changing the subjects and getting offended by our “straw-men.”

Comment #171691

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

First of all we have the observation that the temperature has been increasing
Second of all we have the observation that humans have caused an increase in the CO2 emissions
Thirdly we have evidence that these human contributions are essential to accurately model the temperature records

And the interesting thing is that I don’t dispute any of these observations. The Earth is getting warmer, and Man does contribute to CO2 levels. I have no problem with any of that. However, I am not convinced that the Earth’s temperature is driven by CO2 levels.

Man, this seems like my birthday.. What a present. Not only do I get to expose the vacuity of ID but in the same thread I get to expose the fallacies of global warming deniers.

Watching people like you strut around and pat yourselves on the back never ceases to amaze me with its pathos. For the record, as explained above, I am not a “global warming denier”, but I do deny that man is the cause. Even if global warming is driven by CO2 levels, that only makes man a contributor, but still not the primary cause.

We “assert otherwise” because ID proponents themselves do so. Your refusal to acknowledge this obvious and well-documented fact (read the Wedge Document again) proves that you are incapable of arguing as an honest adult, and there is no more use in arguing with you than in arguing with a flat-Earther. Buh-bye.

And again, you insist on conflating motivation with hypothesis, which, I suppose, “proves that you are incapable of arguing as an honest adult, and there is no more use in arguing with you than in arguing with a flat-Earther”, to use your rhetoric.

Comment #171695

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 10:54 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

In fact, as Dembski had to admit, a design detection does mean little for the concept of agency with cannot even exclude natural selection as the agent.

Can someone kindly point out where Dembski allegedly made this admission?

C Bass wrote:

Raging Bee wrote:

Read the huge amount of books, articles and papers they’ve been publishing on the subject since 1933.

Give me a couple of titles…

{crickets chirping}

CJO wrote:

Yes, and if you’d been doing something other than the equivalent of puting your fingers in your ears while PvM was addressing your argument, you would know that this “important concession” means ID can’t even eliminate natural selection as “the designer”

What’s interesting is that PvM consistently refers to ID as being nothing more than the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, which kinda suggests the opposite of natural selection, and now you guys claim that it “could be” natural selection (i.e. natural selection cannot be eliminated). If that’s the case, then PvM is wrong to call it the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, yes?

So which is it? Does ID include NS or is it the “set theoretical compliment” of NS.

Or is NS somehow not “regularity and chance”?

C Bass wrote:

PvM wrote:

‘set theoretic complement of regularity and chance’

Explain how this isn’t what SETI is looking for. After all, SETI isn’t looking for regularity, otherwise pulsars would fill the bill. They aren’t looking for chance, for that would be random noise, novae, etc. Since they are looking for neither random noise nor regularity, what’s left over? The set theoretic compliment of the two. What else is there?

{more crickets}

Comment #171697

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 11:06 AM (e)

Freelurker wrote:

Then can you explain why UD has a beef with “materialism?”

Probably because that philosophy forces acceptance of the Darwinian mechanism in spite of contrary evidence, and forbids consideration of intelligent agency.

GuyeFaux wrote:

ID doesn’t make any inferences with regard to the designer, only with regard to design. By introducing human design, you crossed that line from valid scientific inference based on the data over into speculation on the nature of the designer. Ergo, the rest of your argument is invalid.

Firstly, what line exactly was crossed when “design” was qualified? Secondly, “human” as I used it is an adjective qualifier that does not posit an agent…

But it does make that agent a creator of “human-like” designs. That’s the line you pretend doesn’t exist.

Comment #171698

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:18 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

The Earth is getting warmer, and Man does contribute to CO2 levels. I have no problem with any of that. However, I am not convinced that the Earth’s temperature is driven by CO2 levels.

Simple physics. It’s called the greenhouse effect which has made the earth warm enough for life.

C Bass wrote:

For the record, as explained above, I am not a “global warming denier”, but I do deny that man is the cause. Even if global warming is driven by CO2 levels, that only makes man a contributor, but still not the primary cause.

In fact, it is a contributor and the primary cause of the measured and observed temperature increases.

Remember that in order to accurately explain the temperature records, one needs to take into account the anthropogenic (man caused) forcings.

Comment #171700

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:22 AM (e)

Probably because that philosophy forces acceptance of the Darwinian mechanism in spite of contrary evidence, and forbids consideration of intelligent agency.

Nope it accepts that supernatural agency cannot be considered as a scientific explanation.

So much ignorance helps explain why ID can confuse its followers into believing something that is clearly untrue.

For instance: Methodological Naturlism forbids consideration of intelligent agency. Look at SETI which actually does consider intelligent agency.

Even more funny is that ID’s design inference has little relevance to the concept of agency.

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).

And yet, C Bass seems to have ignored Dembski’s fair warnings. What a shame

Comment #171701

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 24, 2007 11:22 AM (e)

But it does make that agent a creator of “human-like” designs. That’s the line you pretend doesn’t exist.

Please be more explicit on where this demarcation is. What qualifiers on design are allowed? In other words, this is the inference that ID uses

Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of X, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of X.

by instantiating X to “design”. Now you’re telling me that there’s some restrictions on X; what are they, and why?

Comment #171703

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:27 AM (e)

What’s interesting is that PvM consistently refers to ID as being nothing more than the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, which kinda suggests the opposite of natural selection, and now you guys claim that it “could be” natural selection (i.e. natural selection cannot be eliminated). If that’s the case, then PvM is wrong to call it the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, yes?

So which is it? Does ID include NS or is it the “set theoretical compliment” of NS.

Seems that C Bass has not taken Dembski’s fair warning about design and agency too seriously and has now painted himself into a corner.

See how contradictory ID really is when it comes to agency? I quoted Nichol’s quote from Dembski.
ID is indeed nothing more than the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance. To infer agency, a second, inductive step, is needed which as Wesley Elsberry and others have shown cannot even exclude natural selection as a designer.

Confused? Such is the foundation of ID which makes it scientifically vacuous. Seems C Bass was caught in the nets of ID’s ignorance as well.

Comment #171705

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:29 AM (e)

Watching people like you strut around and pat yourselves on the back never ceases to amaze me with its pathos.

I love your birthday present to me my dear friend. I love to unwrap ‘em and leave nothing but scraps of wrapping paper, a tangle of ribbons…

Comment #171708

Posted by CJO on April 24, 2007 11:39 AM (e)

What’s interesting is that PvM consistently refers to ID as being nothing more than the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, which kinda suggests the opposite of natural selection, and now you guys claim that it “could be” natural selection (i.e. natural selection cannot be eliminated). If that’s the case, then PvM is wrong to call it the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance”, yes?

So which is it? Does ID include NS or is it the “set theoretical compliment” of NS.

Or is NS somehow not “regularity and chance”?

Gosh, C Bass, if I didn’t know better, I’d almost think you sincerely wanted to understand natural selection instead of the straw man foisted off on you by the ID crowd.

Dembski’s mumbled formulation of the EF does indeed sound “kinda” like it should exclude natural selection, indeed, because that’s all it’s supposed to do: sound good to the rubes. In fact, it’s an extremely weak claim, and since he categorically will not consider any attributes, including the “I” in ID, of any putative designer, he can’t exclude natural selection, because it is neither simply “chance,” nor is it randomness-free “regularity,” but a process that relies on both these aspects of existence in order to do its design work.

Comment #171711

Posted by Raging Bee on April 24, 2007 11:51 AM (e)

And again, you insist on conflating motivation with hypothesis…

And what, exactly, is the ID “hypothesis” again? (I remember at least one IDer admitting they didn’t have one.)

Give me a couple of titles…

Ever heard of places called “libraries?” They have lots of books, on lots of subjects, and things called “catalogs” that help you to find books on any subject you may have in mind. Knock yourself out, Skippy…

Comment #171712

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:54 AM (e)

In other papers, Dembski has shown why Natural Selection, which ‘choses from possible outcomes’ indeed seems very similar to an intelligent designer. In fact, that’s why we call it apparent versus actual Design. Dembski’s filter does nothing to differentiate between the two. Nothing at all…

Comment #171714

Posted by Raging Bee on April 24, 2007 11:55 AM (e)

Probably because that philosophy forces acceptance of the Darwinian mechanism in spite of contrary evidence, and forbids consideration of intelligent agency.

You mean, like, a God with the power to create things that can’t evolve on their own? I thought you just said ID wasn’t about God.

Comment #171715

Posted by PvM on April 24, 2007 11:56 AM (e)

Wesley Elsberry wrote:

Wesley wrote:

The apparent, but unstated, logic behind the move from design to agency can be given as follows:

1. There exists an attribute in common of some subset of objects known to be designed by an intelligent agent.
2. This attribute is never found in objects known not to be designed by an intelligent agent.
3. The attribute encapsulates the property of directed contingency or choice.
4. For all objects, if this attribute is found in an object, then we may conclude that the object was designed by an intelligent agent.

This is an inductive argument. Notice that by the second step, one must eliminate from consideration precisely those biological phenomena which Dembski wishes to categorize. In order to conclude intelligent agency for biological examples, the possibility that intelligent agency is not operative is excluded a priori. One large problem is that directed contingency or choice is not solely an attribute of events due to the intervention of an intelligent agent. 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.

Comment #171721

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on April 24, 2007 12:17 PM (e)

C Bass said:

And the interesting thing is that I don’t dispute any of these observations. The Earth is getting warmer, and Man does contribute to CO2 levels. I have no problem with any of that. However, I am not convinced that the Earth’s temperature is driven by CO2 levels….….……

For the record, as explained above, I am not a “global warming denier”, but I do deny that man is the cause. Even if global warming is driven by CO2 levels, that only makes man a contributor, but still not the primary cause.

There are actually a variety of causes of global climate change. Solar changes (from what I understand - this is farthest from my area of expertise) can alter climate over billions of years. Tectonic changes can alter climate on timescales of millions to hundreds of millions of years. Changes in the earth’s orbit can periodicaly alter climate over thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Changes in oceanic circulation can alter climate, and even weather, over timescales of years to thousands of years. All of these have been extensively researched, are well understood in most cases (and incidentally, haven’t been ascribed to supernatural causes). We also have a good (not perfect, but good) understanding of the physics of the atmosphere that allows us to know that the earth’s temperature would be near -30oC as a direct result of greenhouse gases.

The above paragraph is a distillation of the work of thousands of astronomers, climatologists, geologists, meteorologists, oceanographers and physicists over many years. It is backed up by decades of accumulated data, has been extensively debated in the literature, and there by and large is concensus that these systems are well enough understood that we can make reliable predictions about our climate.

There are many causes for long-term climate change. But you are weaseling about climate change:

Man does contribute to CO2 levels.

I am not convinced that the Earth’s temperature is driven by CO2 levels.

Even if global warming is driven by CO2 levels, that only makes man a contributor, but still not the primary cause.

This is typical of people with entrenched beliefs. You admit that man does contribute, but you say that the contribution does not cause the change. Then, you say that even if it does, it’s not the main effect. You’re trying to have it both ways.

Can you answer these questions?
If man is not the primary cause, what do you think has caused CO2 levels to rise by 30% in the last 150 years?
Given that CO2 is known to be a greenhouse gas, what leads you to think that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will not lead to increased heating?
Do you think that adding another blanket on your bed will make you warmer?
What about the concept of anthropogenically-caused climate change makes you uncomfortable? If it’s possible damage to our economy, then you’re simply engaged in wishful thinking.

Comment #171761

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

Wesley Elsberry wrote:

The apparent, but unstated, logic behind the move from design to agency can be given as follows:

1. There exists an attribute in common of some subset of objects known to be designed by an intelligent agent.
2. This attribute is never found in objects known not to be designed by an intelligent agent.
3. The attribute encapsulates the property of directed contingency or choice.
4. For all objects, if this attribute is found in an object, then we may conclude that the object was designed by an intelligent agent.

This is an inductive argument. Notice that by the second step, one must eliminate from consideration precisely those biological phenomena which Dembski wishes to categorize. In order to conclude intelligent agency for biological examples, the possibility that intelligent agency is not operative is excluded a priori.

Looking at #2, it occurs to me that Elsberry is reading into it more than is actually there. When he says, “Notice that by the second step, one must eliminate from consideration precisely those biological phenomena which Dembski wishes to categorize”, he is assuming a priori that the biological phenomena in question are, in fact, not designed by an intelligent agent. His argument is therefore circular. By assuming up front that the objects of interest are products of Natural Selection, they are eliminated by step #2. If that assumption is not made up front, step #2 fails to eliminate them from consideration. In other words, we do not know that the objects in question are not designed by an intelligent agent, so step #2 doesn’t eliminate those objects from consideration, as Elsberry claims. Elsberry’s claim can only hold true if the objects in question are assumed not to be products of intelligent agency.

Comment #171774

Posted by Science Avenger on April 24, 2007 4:38 PM (e)

Loathe as I am to reenter the Trollathon, Guyefeax had the fish on the mat and let him up. Let’s just expose the absurdity of the ID position at its roots:

C Bass wrote:

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Guye correctly noted that this should be “human design”, not just “design”. If we observe X being derived from Y 100% of the time, then ALL of the traits of Y are relevant, not just the ones that suit one’s agenda. Thus, since ALL of the observations of design noted in the ID definition were the product of human design, the see-it-in-nature conclusion would be that said feature was designed by humans. And of course, C Bass refutes this theory nicely by noting that these features predated humans.

One does not have the option of positing a non-human designer. We have no precedant for that in the non-religious world that ID supposedly occupies. That is crossing “that line from valid scientific inference based on the data over into speculation on the nature of the designer”, since the data involve only human design. C Bass’s objection is completely backwards.

But more basically, those things observed in nature do NOT look like human design! Not at all. Human design involves radical novelty, and borrowing of succesful items from other areas (Glen Davidson has a nice list, perhaps he will again share). Think of the transition from 8-track to cassette tape to CD. Nothing in nature looks like that. Likewise, nothing in human invention looks like the panda’s thumb, a crude adaption of an existing feature, even though a much better feature is available if one simply reaches across categories. Nature can’t do that, thus the difference.

So ID is flawed at it’s core. Its most fundamental tenets are untenable, and no amount of word games can change that.

Comment #171779

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 4:52 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Give me a couple of titles…

Ever heard of places called “libraries?”

If you cannot be bothered to toss out a couple of book titles, then why should I bother to pursue the matter?

PvM wrote:

See how contradictory ID really is when it comes to agency?

I see how contradictory you guys are in your claims on what ID is.

Please provide me a url or a book citation pointing to where Dembski allegedly “admitted” that the “intelligent agent” could be natural selection. I want to see the context – was this discussion on the EF in particular, or on ID overall?

Ellsberry’s analysis is based on “apparent, but unstated, logic” – what if his understanding of that logic is flawed, or incorrect?

GvlGeologist, FCD wrote:

This is typical of people with entrenched beliefs.

“Entrenched”? How about “jaded”? The scientific community has provided me with one doomsday prognostication after another during the few decades of my meager existence – you guys have simply cried “wolf” too many times. I have little incentive to change my lifestyle, radically or otherwise, over this latest hysteria bandwagon.

You admit that man does contribute, but you say that the contribution does not cause the change.

Well, what I actually said was, “Even if global warming is driven by CO2 levels, that only makes man a contributor, but still not the primary cause”. I didn’t claim that man wasn’t a cause, only not the primary one.

Then, you say that even if it does, it’s not the main effect. You’re trying to have it both ways.

Nonsense – there is no “two ways” to try and “have”. I simply say X but even if not X, Y. Two seperate considerations.

Can you answer these questions?

Not to your satisfaction, I am sure…

If man is not the primary cause, what do you think has caused CO2 levels to rise by 30% in the last 150 years?

Don’t know, but I’m not going to jump on the “it’s man’s fault we gotta do something now” hysteria bandwagon.

Given that CO2 is known to be a greenhouse gas, what leads you to think that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will not lead to increased heating?

As I hinted earlier, it could be that the cause/effect relationsip is the opposite – increased heat => increased CO2 levels.

Do you think that adding another blanket on your bed will make you warmer?

If the blanket is tissue paper thin, not so much.

What about the concept of anthropogenically-caused climate change makes you uncomfortable?

People trying to ram their views down my throat to the point of impacting my chosen lifestyle annoys me.

If it’s possible damage to our economy, then you’re simply engaged in wishful thinking.

Maybe the wishful thinking is on your side.

Comment #171781

Posted by C Bass on April 24, 2007 5:09 PM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

Guye correctly noted that this should be “human design”, not just “design”. If we observe X being derived from Y 100% of the time, then ALL of the traits of Y are relevant, not just the ones that suit one’s agenda. Thus, since ALL of the observations of design noted in the ID definition were the product of human design, the see-it-in-nature conclusion would be that said feature was designed by humans. And of course, C Bass refutes this theory nicely by noting that these features predated humans.

One does not have the option of positing a non-human designer.

Assuming the validity of your analysis, it seems that positing a non-human designer would be the only option. After all, all traits of Y are relevant, but the agent cannot possibly be Y, yet intelligence is still indicated. To claim that the only possible option to human intelligence is natural selection seems falsely dichotomous.

Comment #171783

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 24, 2007 5:34 PM (e)

Assuming the validity of your analysis, it seems that positing a non-human designer would be the only option. After all, all traits of Y are relevant, but the agent cannot possibly be Y, yet intelligence is still indicated. To claim that the only possible option to human intelligence is natural selection seems falsely dichotomous.

The fact that the consequence of ID’s inference, as you stated it is contradicted by the evidence — “cannot possibly be Y” — means that the inference was wrong. Which is what we’re saying.

Again:
You claim this is the positive case for ID:

ID’s position is more along the lines of “whenever we’ve see this particular feature, it has always been a product of design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of design”.

Which I claim is an instance of this inference:

“Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of X, ergo, when we see it elsewhere, it is likely to be a product of X.

Wherein I (and you) pointed out that this leads to conclusions which are contrary to evidence. Therefore the inference, which I claim is the logical foundation of ID, is wrong. So now you have to provide the actual logical foundation which generated your statement of ID. You said that this is a simple derivation of the principle of uniformity; please state which one you’re talking about that never leads to a contradiction.

Comment #171785

Posted by Richard Simons on April 24, 2007 5:46 PM (e)

As I hinted earlier, it could be that the cause/effect relationship is the opposite – increased heat => increased CO2 levels.

Balderdash. The increase has been far too much to have come from some previously unknown source. The claims that volcanoes are significant producers is pure myth. How about from the oceans?

It seems that as each ice age ended (because of changes in the earth’s orbit) the gradual warming released CO2 from the oceans. However, the current increase in CO2 has been clearly shown to come from burning of fossil fuels (e.g. from the changing proportion of 14C in the atmosphere and a comparison of the amount burnt to the amount of extra CO2) and is far too large to have come from the oceans. Besides, the amount in the oceans is currently increasing, which is why they are becoming more acidic. So rule out oceans as a source.

What’s left? Swarms of invisible dry ice meteors?

Let’s face it, you are frantically trying to find ways to justify your refusal to accept two of the most important findings of modern science - evolution and global warming - by giving more and more nonsensical excuses. Why? What is your motive in this? Don’t tell me it is in the spirit of open inquiry because it clearly isn’t.

BTW: Do you realize that a significant proportion of climatologists consider the recent IPCC report, that you apparently consider a sign of hysteria, is far too cautious?

Comment #171787

Posted by Raging Bee on April 24, 2007 5:57 PM (e)

If you cannot be bothered to toss out a couple of book titles, then why should I bother to pursue the matter?

If you haven’t bothered to do the research BEFORE pretending to know what you’re talking about, why did you bother to open your mouth about the matter (and proceed to put your foot in it)? More to the point, why should we bother to take you seriously?

Comment #171791

Posted by Science Avenger on April 24, 2007 7:00 PM (e)

C Bass said:

Assuming the validity of your analysis, it seems that positing a non-human designer would be the only option. After all, all traits of Y are relevant, but the agent cannot possibly be Y, yet intelligence is still indicated.

We have discovered what looks like piles of elephant shit on the Moon. Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature on earth, it has always been a product of elephant anuses, so when we see it on the moon, it is likely also a product of elephant anuses. However, these piles appear where there are no elephants, so that hypothesis is falsified. It seems that positing a non-elephant anus would be our only option.

We do not make any inferences with regard to the posessor of the anus, only with regard to the anus itself. If we introduced elephant anuses into the analysis, we’d cross that line from valid scientific inference based on the data over into speculation on the nature of the anus possessor, which would be invalid.

Our theory is science. It has nothing whatever to do with Anusism, the religion that worships a free-floating, all-powerful, immaterial anus. Also, anyone who disagrees with us is obviously an a-anusist.

Comment #171820

Posted by Henry J on April 24, 2007 10:36 PM (e)

Well now, that’s getting to the bottom of things…

Comment #171832

Posted by GuyeFaux on April 25, 2007 12:36 AM (e)

Actually, this is a nice reductio ad absurdum:

After all, all traits of Y are relevant, but the agent cannot possibly be Y,…

i.e. we’ve reached a contradiction and the original inference (your statement of ID) is wrong. The next bit comes out of nowhere:

…yet intelligence is still indicated.

Comment #171895

Posted by PvM on April 25, 2007 10:06 AM (e)

It seems to me that our skeptical friend C Bass, tends to be selectively skeptical. In fact, ironically, he seems to reject the ‘design inference’ when it comes to global warming. After all, look at it this way: Global warming is complex and specified and we have no regularity and chance explanation (other than just so stories like -perhaps CO2 increases followed the warming or -solar spots solar spots), thus it seems quite logical to draw a design inference that humans are involved (or perhaps our God is angry with our treatment of the environment?, or perhaps it’s aliens after all).

Of course, even when realizing how ‘controversies’ only apply when it suits ID proponents, science has done far more than rely on our ignorance to link global warming to human activities and it is ignorance which causes once again global warming deniers to avoid the obvious conclusions.

And why? Because of a ‘distrust’ of science… How ironic then to come to realize that it is IDers and global warming deniers who are abusing science.
Notice that, as is the case with ID, there are no real mechanisms, or explanations beyond suggestions that science may be wrong…

Comment #171898

Posted by PvM on April 25, 2007 10:15 AM (e)

C Bass wrote:

As I hinted earlier, it could be that the cause/effect relationsip is the opposite – increased heat => increased CO2 levels.

It could be aliens as well. The difference is that if one proposes an alternative, one shows that it explains the data better.

Show how your scenario explains the observed temperature response better than using the models which incorporate natural and anthropogenic forcings, which match the temperature response quite closely.

In fact, we know that CO2 is being released in sufficiently large quantities to explain the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, just from anthropogenic sources.

If you want to be a true skeptic then do the hard work that is required from such a position. Relying on some quote mining of popular science and global warming deniers’ fiction seems hardly worth the term ‘skeptic’.

Comment #172170

Posted by PvM on April 26, 2007 11:14 AM (e)

C Bass seems to have left the building. His ‘arguments’ would have made DaveScot proud but ignorance is hard to continue if you do not control who gets to post and whose postings get deleted.
Ignorance can only survive in the shadows and UcD seems to be quite an appropriate place for this.
Thank God scientists and Christians alike are seeing through the smokescreen known as Intelligent Design.

Comment #172173

Posted by Henry J on April 26, 2007 11:23 AM (e)

Re “And why? Because of a ‘distrust’ of science… How ironic then to come to realize that it is IDers and global warming deniers who are abusing science.”

I suspect it starts with a dislike of (some of) the conclusions of science. With global warming theory, I expect that most (maybe all) of those who accept that theory also dislike its conclusions (I know I dislike those conclusions). Yet the deniers would have us think it’s supported because people like it?

Henry

Comment #172181

Posted by PvM on April 26, 2007 12:02 PM (e)

In his response to Elsberry’s impeccable logic, C Bass weakly objected that

Ellsberry’s analysis is based on “apparent, but unstated, logic” – what if his understanding of that logic is flawed, or incorrect?

So far, Dembski is aware of Elsberry’s logic and has not objected.

Please provide me a url or a book citation pointing to where Dembski allegedly “admitted” that the “intelligent agent” could be natural selection. I want to see the context – was this discussion on the EF in particular, or on ID overall?

Bill Dembski wrote:

|Besides explaining it away, there are two main options for explaining the net increase in information that an assisted search brings to an otherwise blind search. One is that an assisted search is intelligently designed by a purposive agent (cf. engineering). The other is that it is a fortuitous gift bestowed by an environment under the control of stochastic mechanisms (cf. evolutionary biology). I will argue that this latter option is inadequate and that the increase in information captured by I(μ0|U) is properly viewed as the result of a form of intelligence that cannot be reduced to stochastic mechanisms.

So far so good, Dembski has accepted that there are indeed two explanations for assisted search, one involves an ‘intelligent agent’ that has purpose in mind, the other an ‘intelligent agent’ that has function ‘in mind’. Now Dembski argues that the latter one is inadequate but that’s where the trouble starts. Remember that even if Dembski were to show that the latter is inadequate, the same problem arises when moving from design to agent as outlined by Elsberry.

By intelligence, here, I mean something quite definite, namely, the causal factors that change one probability distribution into another and thus, in the present discussion, transform a blind search into an assisted search. A logically equivalent, information-theoretic reformulation of this definition takes intelligence as those causal factors that induce a net increase in information as measured by the information measure I. Note that by a stochastic mechanism, here, I mean any causal process governed exclusively by the interplay between chance and necessity and characterized by unbroken deterministic and nondeterministic
laws.

But it its exactly that what selection does: It changes one probability function into another by transferring information from the environment into the genome. Causal factors and ‘unbroken deterministic and non-deterministic laws’ are for all practical purposes the same. Both the intelligent designer with purpose in mind and the intelligent designer with function in mind work through the same processes. So either we accept that neither can increase information, or we accept that both can create information. Of course there is the third, unstated message, namely that information has to be supernatural. But the latter one is easily rejected as a meaningless concept. Even though Dembski has suggested some pretty flawed concepts how supernatural information can be transferred (showing a unique unfamiliarity on his part with science and engineering concepts).

Dembski wrote:

Intelligence acts by changing probabilities. Equivalently, intelligence acts
by generating information. For instance, a slab of marble temporarily has a high probability of remaining unchanged. Then, without warning, Michelangelo decides to sculpt David, and the probability of that marble slab taking on a new form (i.e., receiving new information) now changes dramatically.

Again, changing probabilities, exactly what evolutionary mechanisms do. Dembski realizes how weak the argument is

This definition of intelligence as the causal factors responsible for changes in probabilities or, equivalently, for net increases in information is noncircular and, on reflection, should seem unproblematic. If there is a problem, it concerns whether intelligence is reducible to stochastic mechanisms. The neo-Darwinian
theory of evolution, for instance, purports to account for biological complexity and diversity through an intelligence that is a stochastic mechanism, namely, the joint action of natural selection and random genetic mutations. To be sure, this mechanism operates in nature and is responsible for significant changes in the
biological world. Nevertheless, is it the case that this mechanism accounts for biological complexity and diversity without remainder? In other words, is the intelligence responsible for biological complexity and diversity entirely reducible to this mechanism?
In general, to justify the reduction of intelligence to stochastic mechanisms, these mechanisms need to supply a complete, self-consistent account of how changes in probability or net increases in information arise. As we shall see, the mathematics of blind and assisted searches precludes such an account, whether for neo-Darwinian assisted searches or for assisted searches in general

Assisted searches in general… Wow… Seems that Dembski has just proven that intelligence cannot increase information either. In fact, that’s what the displacement theorem suggests.

Do ID proponents even attempt to comprehend the impact of Dembski’s own claims?

Btw there is a simple solution to Dembski’s ‘conundrum’ and there is sufficient evidence that evolution indeed contains this ‘solution’… More on that later. Needless to say, Dembski’s attempts once again fail to deliver much but forces him to make more admissions than many IDers seem to be familiar with.

Comment #172294

Posted by PvM on April 26, 2007 10:31 PM (e)

I wonder if C bass is willing to defend DaveScot’s latest appeal to ignorance to reject the science of global warming.
How interesting to see how global warming deniers also tend to be ID proponents. Ignorance must love ignorance.

Ironically DaveScot quotes

Global warming assertions are based on inconclusive evidence put forth in science reports that had not been published yet, he said.

as opposed to the non existing evidence of global warming deniers? Just like the non existing evidence supporting ID’s claims.

What a sham indeed

Comment #172427

Posted by C Bass on April 27, 2007 11:18 PM (e)

Science Avenger (on April 18, 2007 4:48 PM) wrote:

Darwin’s words are not holy writ. Neither are Dawkins’.

Yet PvM seems to think he can repeatedly club me over the head with Dembski’s alleged words. I have yet to see an actual cite. You’ve put copious verbiage into Dembksi’s mouth (and even seem to know Dembksi’s mind:

So far, Dembski is aware of Elsberry’s logic and has not objected.

Posted by PvM on April 26, 2007 12:02 PM

This prompts me to ask, “How do you know? Do you keep up with Dembksi’s every utterance, be it in print or on line?” But I digress…) but don’t actually say where the words come from, which book, interview, blog entry, or whatever.

Science Avenger wrote:

Guye correctly noted that this should be “human design”, not just “design”. If we observe X being derived from Y 100% of the time, then ALL of the traits of Y are relevant, not just the ones that suit one’s agenda.

No. The only traits that should be considered are the ones supported by the evidence. “Human design” simply isn’t supported, as the nanotechnology of the cell is far beyond human capability. Of course, you will no doubt use this observation to again insist that the designer is supernatural, but that is also not necessitated.

GuyeFaux wrote:

Which I claim is an instance of this inference:

Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of X, ergo, when we see it elsewhere, it is likely to be a product of X.

Wherein I (and you) pointed out that this leads to conclusions which are contrary to evidence.

Only when you force “human-like” into the equation. I merely point out the contradiction you introduce.

Raging Bee wrote:

If you haven’t bothered to do the research BEFORE pretending to know what you’re talking about…

The operative word is “if”. I have provided you with a book title, yet you simply refuse to reciprocate, which makes your statement…

…proves that you are incapable of arguing as an honest adult, and there is no more use in arguing with you than in arguing with a flat-Earther. Buh-bye.

(Posted by Raging Bee on April 23, 2007 10:09 PM )

… even more ironic. By the way, what happened to “Buh-bye”? Not a person of your word, I guess. That makes your statement…

why should we bother to take you seriously?

(Posted by Raging Bee on April 24, 2007 5:57 PM)

… even more ironic.

…it was the writings of Darwinists that provided the “scientific justification”.

Wrong again, you lying ignoramus…

You sure are quick to level accusations and spew invective, but the simple fact is that you did quote the following:

…considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued…

Scroll up to your post of April 19, 2007 12:18 PM, and see for yourself.

I simply restated that which you quoted, which was actually from a review of the book title I submitted – not my words at all.

If you have half the integrity you think you do (given how you’ve repeatedly accused me of not having any), you would apologize for calling me a liar.

Of course, it goes without saying that I don’t actually expect one.

Science Avenger wrote:

We have discovered what looks like piles of elephant shit on the Moon.

It’s amusing that you truly believe these ridiculous analogies prove your case or disprove mine. I find it distasteful to even dignify it with a reply, but, again, your introduction of elephant-like (or human like) is a red herring. You yourself point out that elephants “don’t appear”, so introducing elephants is unwarranted.

PvM wrote:

Dembski has accepted that there are indeed two explanations for assisted search, one involves an ‘intelligent agent’ that has purpose in mind, the other an ‘intelligent agent’ that has function ‘in mind’.

Watching you twist Dembski’s words is truly a thing to behold. Go ahead and read Dembski’s mind again, and tell us, does he really think a “stochastic process” (Dembski’s actual words which you quote) is an “intelligent agent”?

Comment #172436

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 28, 2007 12:07 AM (e)

This prompts me to ask, “How do you know?

you really don’t have the slightest clue where you are, do you.

Comment #172437

Posted by PvM on April 28, 2007 12:17 AM (e)

Yet PvM seems to think he can repeatedly club me over the head with Dembski’s alleged words. I have yet to see an actual cite. You’ve put copious verbiage into Dembksi’s mouth (and even seem to know Dembksi’s mind:

Alleged and documented quotes. That you have seen no actual cite merely means you have not taken the time to look.

So far Elsberry’s observation stands unrefuted, and even Bill did not take a serious attempt to object to it beyond pointing out the problems of induction…

I am surprised that C Bass is not familiar with the foundations of ID and how shakey they are. Just like the ‘science’ of global warming deniers btw.

Comment #172438

Posted by PvM on April 28, 2007 12:23 AM (e)

Watching you twist Dembski’s words is truly a thing to behold. Go ahead and read Dembski’s mind again, and tell us, does he really think a “stochastic process” (Dembski’s actual words which you quote) is an “intelligent agent”?

What Dembski believes is irrelevant, what matters is taking his argument to a logical conclusion.

Comment #172499

Posted by PvM on April 28, 2007 3:33 PM (e)

No. The only traits that should be considered are the ones supported by the evidence. “Human design” simply isn’t supported, as the nanotechnology of the cell is far beyond human capability. Of course, you will no doubt use this observation to again insist that the designer is supernatural, but that is also not necessitated.

all that is necessitated is that the designer is supranatural our outside natural explanations. If something cannot be explained by regularity and chance, in other words, there are no explanatory pathways then the clear conclusion is either 1) we don’t know 2) super natural.

It’s self evident from the writings of IDists, once they drop their veil a little. The rest is just ‘window dressing’ to confuse its followers. Such as the fact that most ID proponents seem to be unfamiliar with Dembski’s statements such as

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).

So how come IDers are still confusing the design inference with agency/agent? How is the inference from design inference to agency made? Elsberry explains why this step cannot exclude natural selection.

, Dembski brushes off a criticism concerning the reliability of his “explanatory filter” by noting that the objection is the problem of induction, but fails to either solve the problem of induction or retract the claim of reliability. In other places, Dembski fails to take up the arguments of critics, as in Dembski’s mischaracterization of a program written by Richard Dawkins. Two out of three of the steps that Dembski says characterize the program are, in fact, Dembski’s own invention, appearing nowhere in Dawkins’s work. The sad thing is that criticism of precisely this point was made by me in email to Dembski back in October of 2000. It would have been easy for Dembski to fix, but it did not happen.

So why is ID so reluctant to correct its many mistaken arguments? Because ignorance rules?

Comment #172926

Posted by C Bass on May 1, 2007 11:12 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

That you have seen no actual cite merely means you have not taken the time to look.

Or it means you’ve failed to provide one. Perhaps I missed it, but I doubt it.

What Dembski believes is irrelevant, what matters is taking his argument to a logical conclusion.

“Taking the argument I stuff into his mouth to a logical conclusion”, you mean. Or “taking his argument, the words to which I have twisted beyond recognition, to a logical conclusion”, perhaps.

It’s self evident…

Ah yes, the ultimate non-argument. “Just look! It’s obvious! It’s self-evident!!”

Very scientific.

Comment #172937

Posted by CJO on May 1, 2007 12:43 PM (e)

Okay, C Bass.
You think Dembski’s being misrepresented. Why don’t you lay out the Explanatory Filter –you know, this good version that isn’t being fairly presented– and explain how it avoids the “logical conclusion” at which PvM arrives. It’s not enough to say the obvious, that Dembski never intended for anyone to look behind the curtain. You have to show that there really is nothing behind the curtain.

Or, explain how Dembski, with his mumblings about the displacement theorem, doesn’t manage to end up showing that “stochastic mechanisms” can’t create new information –and “intelligence” can’t either. (Hint: that quotation is just up a bit, in comment #172181)

Comment #174069

Posted by C Bass on May 7, 2007 10:38 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

First of all, history will show that it was creationists who came up with this ‘prediction’ not ID.

I find it fascinating that you guys can indeed see a difference between “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design” when it suits your purposes and “argument”, but generally refuse to do so otherwise. Just another example of the duplicity I’ve come to expect from your camp.

(I suspect that PvM will take this cue to become righteously indignant, and claim that he would never conflate “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design”…)

If something cannot be explained by regularity and chance, in other words, there are no explanatory pathways then the clear conclusion is either 1) we don’t know 2) super natural.

This is simply incorrect. It’s that cognitive dissonance again, where the letters “ID” get translated into “God” in the brain of the ID critic. You even claim that it’s “self evident”. Well, if you suffer from cognitive dissonance, I guess it would be.

Tell me, is all intelligence “super natural”? We call ourselves “intelligent” – are we therefore “super natural”?

It’s called “Intelligent Design”, but you guys insist on thinking of it as “Supernatural Design”.

And no, the Wedge Document doesn’t help your case. That document is talking about the philosophy of materialism, replacing the materialist philosophy with one that allows non-materialistic explanations to be considered. And no, that does not mean “supernatural” explanations, unless you would contend that apes and dolphins and other organisms which exhibit the property we call “intelligence” are supernatural creatures.

There is a false dichotomy between “human-like” intelligence and “supernatural” intelligence. The possibility of merely superior intelligence (such as what SETI might encounter) never seems to be considered, or allowed for consideration.

So how come IDers are still confusing the design inference with agency/agent?

Which IDers would those be? It appears that it’s primarily ID’s critics who confuse the design inference with agency/agent, every time they insist that the designer be supernatural, or every time they insist that ID is a religion.

CJO wrote:

You think Dembski’s being misrepresented. Why don’t you lay out the Explanatory Filter – you know, this good version that isn’t being fairly presented – and explain how it avoids the “logical conclusion” at which PvM arrives. It’s not enough to say the obvious, that Dembski never intended for anyone to look behind the curtain.

The real question is why you feel compelled to attach so much import to the explanatory filter to begin with. Perhaps it’s merely because you see it as a weak link (or weak pillar, if you prefer), but it’s just a tool, not the end-all-and-be-all of the ID hypothesis. As I see it, it’s merely an attempt to quantify, or make rigorous, that which we do rather intuitively, namely, recognize deliberate design. As such, I see it as a work in progress, but then, I personally am not hung up on it the way you guys are. I haven’t read up on it beyond what Dembski wrote in The Design Revolution – I haven’t read The Design Inference, for example, nor have I read No Free Lunch.

But the real problem is not that you are misrepresenting the EF, but that you are twisting Dembksi’s words before you even get to the EF. When Dembski writes “stochastic process”, for example, PvM twists that into “‘intelligent agent’ that has function ‘in mind’”. He then uses that rhetoric to justify the “logical conclusion” that is based on assuming that conclusion to be true up front. In other words, he engages in circular logic. Sure, he uses scare quotes to give himself an escape hatch, but the implication is clear – natural selection is an “intelligent agent”, even before the logical path, leading to the conclusion that the intelligent agent can be natural selection, is executed.

PvM also claims:

PvM wrote:

Both the intelligent designer with purpose in mind and the intelligent designer with function in mind work through the same processes.

By now, he’s lost the scare quotes, but the implication that natural selection and intelligent agency “work through the same processes” is simply unwarranted. But it’s on subtle word games (ironic, no?) and cleverly applied “logic” which PvM’s argument relies. The assertion above is tenable at any level only when we assume up front that natural selection is an “intelligent agent”, either with or without scare quotes, and assume that all “intelligent agents” “work through the same [or at least similar] processes”. But then, even that assumption is unwarranted.

Neo-Darwinian evolution assumes that natural selection acts on variation, all of which is random, and has no goals, not even survival. After all, natural selection can conceivably bring about the extinction of a species (which, as the fossil record clearly indicates, has indeed happened a number of times). Intelligent Design, on the other hand, asserts that at least some variation is planned or guided to a predetermined (i.e. “specified”) outcome. The two concepts couldn’t be more different, but you are utterly blind to that difference.

Now, you can take this opportunity to claim that ID can lead to extinction as well, and you would be correct, but the question then becomes, “was extinction the goal of the designer, or was it an accident?” In the case of natural selection, this question simply has no meaning, as natural selection has no goals, not even survival or “fitness”, unless you consciously choose to anthropomorphize natural selection to the absurd level where it does have “goals”.

And another point you guys seem reluctant to grasp is that, if Dawkins’ words and Darwin’s words are not “holy writ”, then neither are Dembski’s.

As far as the Global Warming debacle is concerned, I will just bide my time. Maybe the “scientific consensus” managed to get it right, this time, but I lived through the population explosion, DDT, global cooling, AIDS going mainstream, Asian flu, swine flu, bird flu, and managed to survive them all. In hindsight, it seems that some of those Chicken-Little-Sky-Is-Falling end-of-the-world prognostications were politically motivated. So it has nothing to do with “not liking” what the “scientific consensus” says, as someone so naively suggested. No, it’s just that you’ve cried wolf too damned many times, and you’ve simply lost credibility.

Yeah, shocking, ain’t it?

Comment #174090

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 7, 2007 1:18 PM (e)

No. The only traits that should be considered are the ones supported by the evidence.

Great: the theory of ID, as stated by you, with this qualification, is:

whenever we’ve seen this feature, it has always been the product design. Ergo, when we see this feature in nature, it is likely also a product of design, the qualities of which we have no idea about until we check out the evidence.

That, my friend, is a tautology. In particular, it doesn’t rule out evolution as the design process, and in general a great demonstration of the vacuity of ID.

Like I asked before, what qualifications on the design process are allowed in the design inference? If we use “Based on evidence”, your statement of ID is a tautology.

Comment #174115

Posted by Science Avenger on May 7, 2007 5:05 PM (e)

C Bass said:

The only traits that should be considered are the ones supported by the evidence. “Human design” simply isn’t supported, as the nanotechnology of the cell is far beyond human capability. Of course, you will no doubt use this observation to again insist that the designer is supernatural, but that is also not necessitated.

No, what I use this observation to note again is that you are positing a non-human designer without any evidence of such. The only actual known cases of design are all human design, therefore trying to seperate design from humans is going beyond the evidence, reagardless of how much you try to weasel-word it otherwise.

It’s amusing that you truly believe these ridiculous analogies [the elephant shit on the moon story] prove your case or disprove mine. I find it distasteful to even dignify it with a reply, but, again, your introduction of elephant-like (or human like) is a red herring. You yourself point out that elephants “don’t appear”, so introducing elephants is unwarranted.

I use such stories to illustrate how irrational and downright idiotic your arguments are. I made my elephant shit on the moon argument using your exact words, merely substituting terms. That it looks ridiculous to you (and everyone else) does indeed prove my case, because positing “design” independent of humans IS just as idiotic as positing an anus creating elephant shit that isn’t attached to an elephant.

Comment #174121

Posted by C Bass on May 7, 2007 6:52 PM (e)

Science Avenger wrote:

I use this observation to note again is that you are positing a non-human designer without any evidence of such.

Nonsense. The evidence is the nanotechnology exhibited in the cell. It’s a matter of forceful faith to contend that natural selection can build rotary motors and sub-cellular (molecular) data storage and replication systems, without any evidence of such.

trying to separate design from humans is going beyond the evidence, regardless of how much you try to weasel-word it otherwise.

On the contrary, trying to force together design and humans is going beyond the evidence, regardless of how much you try to weasel-word it otherwise.

Comment #174123

Posted by C Bass on May 7, 2007 6:58 PM (e)

anus creating elephant shit

But you are again falling into the fallacy of claiming it to BE elephant shit, ergo, your ridiculous analogy is vacuous.

I use such stories to illustrate how irrational and downright idiotic your arguments are. I made my elephant shit on the moon argument using your exact words, merely substituting terms.

No. You introduced humans, and you introduced elephants. The only “irrational and downright idiotic arguments” you are illustrating are your own.

Comment #174124

Posted by C Bass on May 7, 2007 7:03 PM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

whenever we’ve seen this feature, it has always been the product design. Ergo, when we see this feature in nature, it is likely also a product of design, the qualities of which we have no idea about until we check out the evidence.

That, my friend, is a tautology.

It’s also an example of your putting words in my mouth (the part in bold). I never actually said that – it’s just your misrepresentation of what I actually did say.

Comment #174125

Posted by CJO on May 7, 2007 7:09 PM (e)

I’ll have more later but let me just say that you’re not making things any better for your argument when you say things like:

“The evidence is the nanotechnology exhibited in the cell.”

That is not evidence, for either position. That is the question under consideration (albeit restated in teleologically loaded jargon). It’s what we’re trying to explain in the first place.

Talk about circular reasoning.

Comment #174143

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 7, 2007 9:20 PM (e)

It’s also an example of your putting words in my mouth (the part in bold). I never actually said that – it’s just your misrepresentation of what I actually did say.

Fair enough. Then you reconcile your statements:

whenever we’ve seen this feature, it has always been the product design. Ergo, when we see this feature in nature, it is likely also a product of design

and

The only traits [of design] that should be considered are the ones supported by the evidence.

(And there’s nothing here which is out of context).

Comment #174146

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 7, 2007 9:58 PM (e)

And my concession above notwithstanding, for the record I did not mis-quote you:

Great: the theory of ID, as stated by you, with this qualification, is:…

For a while now, I’ve been referring the theory of ID, as stated by you, so there’s no reason to assume that “as stated by you” is a nested relative clause. But don’t get hung up on this; it’s not important and you now know what I meant.

Comment #174147

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 7, 2007 10:02 PM (e)

If you can answer my previous question, that would be great. I’ll rephrase it: in your statement of ID (the so-called “positive case”):

Whenever we’ve seen this particular feature, it has always been a product of [Q] design, ergo, when we see it in nature, it is likely also a product of [Q] design.

What qualifiers Q are we allowed to logically put on “design”? I put the Qs into your statement to remind you that these qualifiers must appear in both the antecedent and the consequent as per ScienceAvenger’s point. Be careful, I’ve laid a trap: if you say there are no qualifiers Q above for design, then “design” becomes a meaningless term. This means that in general no predictions are possible using “design”, and in particular there is nothing to distinguish “design” from any other process like NS+RM.

Comment #174190

Posted by guthrie on May 8, 2007 5:54 AM (e)

OK yah bass, I would like some explanation of this paragraph:
—–
And no, the Wedge Document doesn’t help your case. That document is talking about the philosophy of materialism, replacing the materialist philosophy with one that allows non-materialistic explanations to be considered. And no, that does not mean “supernatural” explanations, unless you would contend that apes and dolphins and other organisms which exhibit the property we call “intelligence” are supernatural creatures.
——–

Firstly, what is this philosophy of materialism that is used in science? As far as I am aware, it is methodological naturalism. Where do you get the idea that we use philosophical materialism?

Secondly, what are non-materialistic explanations for something? Give me examples, now.

Comment #174203

Posted by Raging Bee on May 8, 2007 9:23 AM (e)

Sorry, fish-boy, your double-talk doesn’t fool anyone here…

It’s called “Intelligent Design”, but you guys insist on thinking of it as “Supernatural Design”.

There are two reasons for this conflation, both of which you already know, but can’t bear to admit: first, the ID folks themselves claim supernatural agency, to excuse both their refusal to describe a specific mechanism of creation, and their lack of material evidence for such a process of creation; and second, you yourself insist that we’re wrong to rule out “non-materialistic” – which is to say supernatural – explanations.

And no, the Wedge Document doesn’t help your case. That document is talking about the philosophy of materialism, replacing the materialist philosophy with one that allows non-materialistic explanations to be considered. And no, that does not mean “supernatural” explanations…

The Wedge Document explicitly calls for replacing “materialism” with a “theistic understanding.” It don’t get more supernatural than that. And even if it didn’t, there’s no difference between “non-materialistic” and “supernatural.”

There is a false dichotomy between “human-like” intelligence and “supernatural” intelligence. The possibility of merely superior intelligence (such as what SETI might encounter) never seems to be considered, or allowed for consideration.

Actually it HAS been considered, for DECADES – ever heard of a guy named Von Daniken? – and repeatedly ruled out due to lack of evidence.

You’re a lying idiot, fish-boy, flogging a fake “theory” on an old thread and pretending you can’t see what’s been obvious to the rest of us for years.

Comment #174206

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 8, 2007 9:54 AM (e)

Fish-boy’s evasions not interesting me, I looked again at the blog and this sentence:

Looking at the paper, you wouldn’t know that it’s a “pro-ID” paper at all because it contains not one shred of evidence in favor of ID, nor does it even try directly arguing for ID

Not that this is a new observation or anything, but how does “not one shred of evidence in favor of ID” distinguish a “‘pro-ID’ paper” from any other paper?

Just to keep the record straight, mind you.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #174269

Posted by Science Avenger on May 8, 2007 6:22 PM (e)

C Bass dissembled thusly:

The evidence is the nanotechnology exhibited in the cell. It’s a matter of forceful faith to contend that natural selection can build rotary motors and sub-cellular (molecular) data storage and replication systems, without any evidence of such.

There is no nanotechnology in cells, no rotary motors, and no data storage and replication systems. Those are analogies to man-made items which help illustrate aspects of these things, but they are not what they are. The flagellum may have some similar traits to rotary motors, but it is NOT a rotary motor.

That makes the accurate version of your argument not “whenever we see design”, but rather “whenever we see something analogous to design”, and there of course it breaks down because there are many undesigned things that appear designed. Until you guys can take Dembski’s explanatory filter, or something similar, and show objectively how it is able to distinguish between the designed and the undesigned (ie actually do some science instead of just talking about it), you have no way out of this hole.

It is not faith, but a reasonable deference to the best available explanation to cite natural selection as the source of these items. Natural selection is demonstrated to exist. It has also been shown through EAs to be capable of creating very complex solutions to problems that are often unanticipated by the programmers themselves, thereby destroying the claims of “front-loading of intelligence”, which amounts to just more word games to anyone who understands how the programs work. That game is over, and was won more dramatically than most of us would have anticipated, in favor of natural selection.

Faith would be ascribing these events to a prehuman, possibly nonmaterial designer, for which there is exactly zero evidence of either trait. And that is what ID does, and why it is so unscientific.

Comment #175258

Posted by C Bass on May 13, 2007 12:48 PM (e)

I plan to return with a more detailed response, but for now, I simply observe that you guys are indulging in flagrant denial of facts. This isn’t surprising.

More later.

Comment #175264

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 13, 2007 1:29 PM (e)

I plan to return with a more detailed response…

I await your answer re your statement of ID.

Comment #175281

Posted by PvM on May 13, 2007 3:06 PM (e)

C Bass wrote:

I plan to return with a more detailed response, but for now, I simply observe that you guys are indulging in flagrant denial of facts. This isn’t surprising.

ROTFL, Irony Overflow…

Comment #175322

Posted by fnxtr on May 13, 2007 6:19 PM (e)

Pardon a poor layman’s ignorance, C Bass, but maybe you can clear something up for me about Intelligent Design.

So far you’ve said Design claims things like “cellular nanotechnology”:

1)are not human design

2)are not “materialistic” design, whatever that means

3)don’t necessarily point to a “Designer” (though I admit this is Dembski’s claim, please let me know if you disagree).

4)shouldn’t be read as GODDIDIT.

So much for the negatives. What does that leave?

What, exactly, is it?

Thank you.

Comment #175503

Posted by fnxtr on May 14, 2007 4:26 PM (e)

… somewhere in the distance, a dog barked…

Comment #175506

Posted by Steviepinhead on May 14, 2007 4:56 PM (e)

…and a C Bass floundered…

Comment #177269

Posted by Henry J on May 20, 2007 3:48 PM (e)

He floundered? Should he ask for help from the piranha of science?

(did I say that?)

Comment #177592

Posted by CJO on May 21, 2007 11:39 AM (e)

I’m still here, waiting patiently, keeping any and all fish jokes to myself.

I don’t know about the problem with links. Why don’t you try it with dead urls that we can cut ‘n’ paste if we need to and see if that works.

Comment #177593

Posted by Science Avenger on May 21, 2007 11:51 AM (e)

I too await your response with great eagerness. I make a point of not playing silly games with people’s names. I grew up with a name begging to be mauled and made fun of, and my schoolmates didn’t disappoint, so I know how annoying that can be.

I’m much more interested in seeing if you are going to try the “front-loaded” gambit with the EAs, or its demented cousin, the TE = ID canard. I’ll be somewhat disappointed if you do, given the sheer idiocy of those arguments, and you seem capable of better. But nonetheless, demolishing poor arguments will always be far more amusing to me than making fun of someone’s poor choice of parents.

Comment #177612

Posted by Raging Bee on May 21, 2007 12:58 PM (e)

It’s like the bisexuality most of them practice, they do know what it’s going to be from day day.

I think this pretty much rules Pumpkinhead out as a serious commentator on any subject; and possibly nothing more than a junior-high redneck with bad teeth and a stupid-looking automotive-product T-shirt. What will he do next – call us “faggits?”

Umm, no, I’m just debating whether arguing with you recalcitrants is worth my time…

Right – the fish-boy posts a lot of nonsense, then, when it’s all been refuted and he’s left with a lot of questions he can’t answer, he suddenly pretends to wonder whether we’re worth the time. In other words, he’s not worth our time either.