Another bizarre chapter in the Dembski-Baylor spat ?

| 95 Comments

Last night, a strange post appeared at Uncommon Descent, under the byline “Botnik”, claiming to report on a letter by Baylor University President John Lilley about the University’s disavowal of the Orwellianly named “Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory” that had been created a few months ago by engineering professor Robert Marks in collaboration with Dembski. The alleged letter had a decidely non-“presidential” tone, and caused many UD commenters to immediately attack Lilley as a puppet of the ACLU, a member of the vast NCSE-led atheist conspiracy, etc. As tempers flared, the letter was identified as a “P-A-R-O-D-Y” a few hours after the original posting.

What the intended goal of the “parody” was, other than to risk getting the Baylor Administration more upset about ID-related shenanigans, is unclear. Wes discusses the matter further at The Austringer.

SEE UPDATE BELOW FOLD

UPDATE 9:30 pm, 09/02/07

It looks like it didn’t take long for the entire UD thread to disappear. With characteristic arrogance, Dembski has issued a non-apologetic apology, presenting the removal of the forgery as a “gesture of good-will”, as opposed to a sensible act of decency.

Ironically, Dembski says he believed that few would be taken by the letter because it was “so over-the-top”. In fact, the arguments in the letter were mostly rather sensible, if debatable. What made the letter unbelievable, apart from the occasionally clumsy language, was that no sane University President would answer some nobody’s e-mail with such blunt frankness and directness, and greatly embarrass one of his faculty members in the process. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if, privately, a University President like Lilley harbored the same feelings as those expressed in the fake letter about the back-door shenanigans that have twice now brought Dembski to inappropriately claim Baylor’s institutional imprimatur for ID “research”.

For the record, a compound capture of the original UD post and several of the following comments is reproduced below.

Botnik%20whole%202.jpg

95 Comments

Interesting, this so called email ‘parody’ may be as successful as Dembski’s ‘Waterloo’ email.

Most of us still remember how Dembski snatched victory from his own hands when he, after Baylor had given him his ID center, crowed victory and was quickly stripped of his new appointment. The rest is history, and we all know how history tends to repeat itself to those who have not learned from it.

What amazes me is that the posting may very well have been an attempt to ‘fool’ those Darwin-bots when in fact, it was the ID crowd that showed its true colors once again. The comment thread shows how vacuous ID really has become.

This is what happens when those IDiotic buffoons refuse to come to terms with the fact that ID is dead.

What truly impresses me is that some, unaware of scientific progress, actually claim that Darwinism has been shown to be mathematically unfeasible, and refer to some unnamed ‘calculations’ as well as the recent work by Behe. And yet, neither examples really do what is claimed they do.

This my friends is the real cost of the vacuous concept of ID, leading astray people into a false belief. What cost will this have eventually to the faith of thousands who have taken ID seriously. What cost will it have to science and science education, if ID proponents get their wishes?

In an attempt at parody, UcD has exposed an immense level of vacuity amongst its own readers and followers, and they have managed to document the theologically dangerous positions of ID.

Not a bad job for a parody :-)

This is pretty bizarre.

The interesting thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that the “PARODY” email is actually extremely reasonable and well-argued. I’m not sure it really sounds like something a university president would have written– for one thing, it contains comma errors– but if it had been, I would have been honestly a little bit impressed.

Botnik seems to be missing the point of what “parody” is– in contexts like this “parody” usually means “arguing your opponent’s side for them, only in a clearly absurd or faulty manner”, not “arguing your opponent’s side for them convincingly”.

Or is it possible maybe that when an ID advocate tries to think of the most absurd and faulty thing they can think of, the first thing that comes to mind is rational thought?

There’s a rather nice irony here. The IDers all like to go on about how obvious design is in nature. They talk of design filters and specified complexity and such like. Yet, they can’t even recognize a parody when they see it, and from one of their own at that…

The arrival of the nonexistent “lab” was announced with great fanfare: Dembski addresses forthcoming Intelligent Design research that advances ID and answers critics. Expect a proper burial ceremony.

Has anyone else noticed that all comments on Dembski’s bogus “Botnik” post have been removed from the UD site? Too embarrassing? Or is it just my computer?

Dembski Wrote:

When Botnik approached me about whether it would be all right to post his parody of what President John Lilley of Baylor might be thinking in trying to justify his expulsion of Prof. Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor, I thought it mirrored what motivates many academics in wanting to stamp out ID. Besides, it seemed to me so over-the-top that I didn’t think the parody would be lost on anyone. And UD has had its humorous side (witness Galapagos Finch).

Clearly, readers of UD fell for it, but so did many people on the other side, judging by all the many emails they sent President Lilley to confirm whether Botnik’s parody actually represented Lilley’s words. In retrospect, it’s clear that this piece of tomfoolery went too far. I’m therefore removing the thread. I hope Baylor and President Lilley take its removal as a gesture of goodwill on the part of UD as they reconsider what to do about Robert Marks and his Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

Luckily many have archived the pages. No worries…

peter irons Wrote:

Has anyone else noticed that all comments on Dembski’s bogus “Botnik” post have been removed from the UD site? Too embarrassing? Or is it just my computer?

You appear to be right. That was quick. Up now at UD in the Botnik post’s place:

Parody at UD William Dembski

When Botnik approached me about whether it would be all right to post his parody of what President John Lilley of Baylor might be thinking in trying to justify his expulsion of Prof. Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor, I thought it mirrored what motivates many academics in wanting to stamp out ID. Besides, it seemed to me so over-the-top that I didn’t think the parody would be lost on anyone. And UD has had its humorous side (witness Galapagos Finch).

Clearly, readers of UD fell for it, but so did many people on the other side, judging by all the many emails they sent President Lilley to confirm whether Botnik’s parody actually represented Lilley’s words. In retrospect, it’s clear that this piece of tomfoolery went too far. I’m therefore removing the thread. I hope Baylor and President Lilley take its removal as a gesture of goodwill on the part of UD as they reconsider what to do about Robert Marks and his Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

Just out of curiosity, did anyone make a mirror of the original thread?

Yet another example of Dembski’s “street theater.”

Amusing to no one, apparently, except himself.

Nobody with half a brain was taken in by that childish “email” from the president of a university. Please! “Willy-Nilly?” That might sum up the total of WaD’s research.

Of course, all the creationists were taken in for the obvious reason.

On UD, Dembski’s groupie, O’Leary, gushes that way back when the ID lab was “suppressed” by Baylor when the real reason that Dembski got dumped, which is documened all over the web, was because of his un-colleagic email; the infamous Waterloo Email.

Why Dembski persists with Baylor could be the subject of a sociological, or pathosociological, thesis, but it remains that this is clearly Strike Two for Dr. Dr. and I guess we’ll have to wait for the next pitch.

The level of infantile stupidity and the lack of the sense of genuine humor displayed both by posting Botnik’s so called parody and by the comment announcing its removal is stunning even for UD’s boss whose previous great performances included imitating the sounds of flatulence all over the web, and endless pronouncements of the imaginary victories of ID. Perhaps the seminaries that offered a heaven to Dembski after Baylor realized his actual worth, may now have a second thought.

What is fascinating how Dembski’s ‘jokes’ tend to backfire time after time. Waterloo, Judge Jones and Farts, Lilley.

I believe that until further notice, it is best to assume that anything published by ID should be treated as parody, until indicated otherwise. After all, that would explain most of ID’s behaviors best. Call it a ‘design inference’ if you may.

anybody wants the saved thread, email me. SteveStory at gmail dot com.

The letter is available on Austringer.

Oleg Tchernyshyov posted “The arrival of the nonexistent “lab” was announced with great fanfare…”

Not only is the bogus “lab” nonexistent, but the purported lab’s purported website, mentioned in Dembski’s interview at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/0[…]es_fort.html is also nonexistent. http://www.evolutionaryinformatics.org is a “parked” web page with no content - like the rest of intelligent design creationism. What a surprise.

Just out of curiosity, did anyone make a mirror of the original thread?

Ofcourse, with ID’s tendency to censor most anything that exposes their vacuity and ignorance, the first thing the “Darwinian Cabal” is doing is to archive ID’s follies. If you know the secret handshake we can share the data with you.

It’s a beautiful sight so see, once again, Dembski trying to explain away the obvious. What is even more hilarious is Dembski’s groveling to Lilley, hoping that this time his poorly chosen words will not lead to yet another demise of an intelligent design ‘lab’. ‘Foot in mouth’ Dembski and his valiant sidekick Sal, can always be counted on to make a fool of themselves and Intelligent Design.

What a crock

Your capture goes up to comment 26. Here are the last 3.

27

StephenB

09/02/2007

9:33 am

Tard Alert!

I must admit I was a little irked at first. Not that I got taken, but because it seemed to trivialize and neutralize some of the serious arguments against Baylor made on O’Leary’s post. One thing is sure, though. Lilley’s words may have been fabricated, but his actions certainly were not.

Besides, when Darwinists fool people with a hoax, they don’t wait for the laughter to subside (or as in Botnik’s case, wait for it to bomb) and then confess it as a parody. On the contrary, they collaborate to keep the lie alive until it becomes institutionalzed and then close ranks around it.

28

tribune7

09/02/2007

12:09 pm

Tard Alert!

John Lilley deserves a PUBLIC APOLOGY for this little stunt.

Actually, Lilley should send Bortnik a note of thanks for the implicit constructive criticism.

29

DLH

09/02/2007

2:28 pm

Tard Alert!

Botnick In “Captains Courageous” the Portugese suggested Harvey spit first before throwing the garbage upwind.

What wisdom is there in angering those who need persuading, by putting words unspoken into their mouths?

Now how can this be redressed?

Comment #203163

Posted by PvM on September 2, 2007 8:06 PM (e) | kill

It’s a beautiful sight so see, once again, Dembski trying to explain away the obvious. What is even more hilarious is Dembski’s groveling to Lilley, hoping that this time his poorly chosen words will not lead to yet another demise of an intelligent design ‘lab’.

Number of ID labs jeopardized by William Dembski’s juvenile antics: 2 Number of ID labs jeopardized by Steve Story’s juvenile antics: 0

Hey Discovery Institute…you’re paying the wrong guy…I know those $60,000 fellowships are usually for “support of significant and original research in the natural sciences, the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science and related fields”, but how about one for “not boning us by acting like a 13 year old”

Posted by Coin on September 2, 2007 4:51 PM (e)

This is pretty bizarre.

The interesting thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that the “PARODY” email is actually extremely reasonable and well-argued. I’m not sure it really sounds like something a university president would have written– for one thing, it contains comma errors– but if it had been, I would have been honestly a little bit impressed.

Botnik seems to be missing the point of what “parody” is– in contexts like this “parody” usually means “arguing your opponent’s side for them, only in a clearly absurd or faulty manner”, not “arguing your opponent’s side for them convincingly”.

Or is it possible maybe that when an ID advocate tries to think of the most absurd and faulty thing they can think of, the first thing that comes to mind is rational thought?

I noticed that to. They really do live in a parallel universe ‘Bizzaro world’ where everything is ass about. So much so, the disconnect with reality is verging on insanity.

I think the bible says something about, that along the lines of…

‘Before God destroys you he first drives you insane’

Once more, Dembski proves that creationists, of whatever stripe, have no concept of satire, irony, or even more fundamentally, humor. If you have to explain a joke to people, it ain’t funny. I recommend Billy get back to fart noises. However, seriously, I imagine Dembski has a self-destructive urge. Otherwise, why risk insulting a higher-up with an idiotic post like this?

What’s the next step down from where he is now? Biola?

Oops. Didn’t notice the “parody” was of the President of Baylor, from which Dembski was exiled long ago. BD’s downward academic trajectory was a result of his own arrogance. It’s pretty hard to get fired when the administration brought you in and established a whole new department for you (the Polyani Center). But by golly, Dembski rose to the challenge! His abrupt departure from Baylor was a result of his arrogance. He has nothing to blame Dr. Lilley about.

After realizing that only mediocre ID-creationist appear in it Dembki may have been pissed off that it’s not him staring EXPELLED and this was a helpless attempt to creep into the movie.

The situation at UD must be rather desperate because normally they don’t post on sundays

… the “PARODY” email is actually extremely reasonable and well-argued.

I don’t agree. It gets a bunch of points off for

Judge John E. Jones III ruled decisively in Kitzmiller v. Dover that intelligent design is religion, and that’s good enough for me.

Pure argument from authority. This by itself was enough to convince me the letter wasn’t genuine (or perhaps that the writer was as much of a fool as the UD commenters thought he was, but one hesitates to think that of a college president).

Plus there’s this:

Academic freedom comes to an end where reason and common sense give way to ignorance and nonsense.

Aside from the problem of college administrators deciding what’s reasonable and commonsensical in areas outside their expertise, if any (quantum physics may be many things, but commonsensical?), it’s simply not true. There’s plenty of ignorance and nonsense in academia. In fact, academic freedom seems to protect certain types of nonsense that flourish almost nowhere else: witness the postmodernist critique of science, not to mention this poor schnook.

Wasn’t there something like

“Thou shalt not bear false witness”

OK, WMAD is only a theologian so he could not have known that.

Posted by sparc on September 2, 2007 10:51 PM (e)

The situation at UD must be rather desperate because normally they don’t post on sundays

That’s good isn’t it? Keeps ‘em off the streets.

Dembski is such a fascinating character. On the one hand he must have a certain measure of intelligence - he has after two doctorates and a masters in theology. He must at least be book smart. Yet, when it comes to social interaction and understanding the ‘theory of mind’ he just seems totally inept. This latest episode and his recent forays into ‘humor’ indicate that he has little idea how his efforts will be perceived. The sophistication of his humor is about the level of a sniggering, back-of-the-classroom 13-year old - it may seem hilarious to his fellow 13-year olds, but to adults it comes across as child-like and immature. The negative response must cause major cognitive dissonance for him - and obviously, rather than face the fact that he is at fault and that his actions are highly inappropriate, he demonizes his enemies.

Just out of curiosity, did anyone make a mirror of the original thread?

The original post without the “parody” line is still in the Google cache. I’ve saved a hard copy here

k.e. Wrote:

I think the bible says something about, that along the lines of…

‘Before God destroys you he first drives you insane’

“Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

This isn’t from the Bible. The discussion on wikiquote indicates that it’s an ancient Greek proverb, possibly penned by Euripides.

FWIW I think the joke has worn thin, and it is time Neal was banned until he learns to type sans caps, blanked out curses, and explanation points, and actually addresses the arguments, any arguments, put forth.

My $.02

Neal wrote: Mr. editor, are you “taking me out again?” on what basis?

On the basis that your posts have no content whatsoever other than profanities and a few repetitive, unsubstantiated assertions aimed at getting a raise out of other commenters on this board - that’s the definition of trolling. (And please don’t argue that calling someone a piece of s__t is not equivalent to calling him a piece of shit, we are not in elementary school.)

I wish other commenters could simply refrain from answering to you altogether, which I am quite sure would quickly lead you to spew your recently learned profanities somewhere else, but for some reason they can’t. As a result, I have to spend time cleaning the thread to send all this foolishness to the Bathroom Wall, which is not my idea of time well spent.

If you cannot engage in at least mildly productive discussion, we will have to ban you.

For everyone else: if you please just ignore Neal, you can really make my life easier, since I would only have to move his posts instead of sifting through all of your responses to see whether they have enough Neal-unrelated content to stay here. I will leave this thread open until the week-end to see if a reasonable discussion can again develop, otherwise I’ll just close comments. Thanks.

Mea culpa. Roger wilco.

by the way, any update on what’s happening with Marks, Andrea?

From an inside source at Baylor, apparently Marks gave Dembski and a guest office with nameplate. Another faculty member saw it, reported it, and the nameplate and office were withdrawn.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on September 2, 2007 12:23 PM.

Visitors Bureau Agrees to Change Description of Anti-Museum was the previous entry in this blog.

“Viewpoint Discrimination” and the California Creationism Case. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter