Andrea Bottaro posted Entry 3307 on September 7, 2007 10:45 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3291

One of the most puzzling aspects of the recent Dembski - Baylor spat over the web site for Robert Marks’s “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” was the basis for Dembski’s part time appointment at Baylor as “Senior Research Scientist” (a post-doctoral position). Dembski has stated that Marks had “procured a small grant from the LifeWorks Foundation” specifically for him to work on the project. The impression given is that an indepedent agency found Dembski and his ideas scientifically worthwhile enough to put some dough into them. The strange thing was, a Google search for “Liferworks Foundation” only seemed to yield a Tennessee-based charity with a focus on the arts, and little apparent interest in science, whether of the mainstream or pseudo- varieties.

Well, earlier today JAllen, a commenter at the pro-ID blog Telic Thoughts, reported that in fact there is a second Lifeworks Foundation, this one incorporated in the state of Washington. The President and sole employee of the Foundation is a Mr. Brendan Dixon, who used to be a software programmer at Microsoft. His current occupation? He works as a “computational biology researcher” at the “ID lab”, the Biologic Institute, famous for being announced to the press several months before actually existing.

OK, so what we may have now is a Microsoft millionaire who decided to set up a foundation and use some of its money to help a buddy, among other worthwhile endeavors. Fair enough. If one explores the 990 forms Lifeworks has filed with the IRS over the years, one finds that it started very much as a conventional charitable foundation, with assets averaging around one million dollars, and giving about $60-135,000 every year, mostly spread between a number of local charities, except for the year 2005, in which they only distributed ten thousand dollars. No Lifeworks grants were ever given for scientific work.

Then, according to their 990 form for the year 2006, they decided to give away almost the entire endowment of the foundation, a total of $980,000 in one year. The main beneficiary of these donations? The Discovery Institute’s Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, recipient of two donations totaling a staggering $700,000. And, of course, the Lifeworks Foundation also reported their donation for $30,000 to Baylor University for “public education”, the amount of the grant to Marks that was to pay for Dembski’s work, and was returned earlier this year from Baylor.
Lifeworks.JPGDistributions from the Lifeworks Foundation for fiscal year 2006, from their IRS 990 form.

It is impossible to know what happened that made the Dixons decide to make such a major donation to the DI, and almost completely deplete their charitable foundation’s coffers as a result. We know that at some point in late 2005 or early 2006 Dixon started working for the Biologic Institute - perhaps he found the work highly rewarding, and wanted to thank the people who made it possible. Perhaps the DI’s CRSC was in need of financial support, and appealed to Dixon for help - who knows?

However, what is clear is that the “grant” awarded to Marks for his work looks suspiciously like the result of a personal agreement between long-time friends and associates, rather than of a competitive application process as are the vast majority of research grants from public or private agencies to academic scientists. Did Marks actively seek out Lifeworks as a funding source, and did he know about the connections between the Foundation and the DI? Dembski himself stated the following:

This grant and the invitation to work with Prof. Marks was entirely at his initiative.

It is quite possible, also, that Marks knew Dixon personally, having moved to Baylor from the University of Washington at Seattle, where they may have met in ID sympathizer circles. Still, the grant is a bit odd in Mark’s extensive funding history, which overwhelmingly consists of conventional grant awards, mostly from major governmental agencies (NSF, NIH, Office of Naval Research, JPL, etc), private companies (such as Boeing) and institutional sources How did it dawn on Marks to ask for money for Dembski from a private foundation that up to that point had supported only local hospitals, missions, etc in the Seattle area, we can only guess.

Over the years, I have learned that with ID things are often quite different than what they seem: “centers” and “labs” are virtual online or paper entities; “peer-reviewed” papers are published by cutting shortcuts through the very process of peer-review; lists of “skeptical scientists” are mostly made up of people who are not professional scientists at all, and when they are, they have no specific expertise in the field they are so vocally skeptical about; textbooks are carefully crafted not to teach knowledge, but to obstruct it and erase it… the list of misrepresentations is endless. Now we learn that “grants” can be more like gifts between friends than actual awards for competitive scientific ideas. It’s all good to ID advocates, as long as they can sell the illusion to their followers.

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Comment #205013

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 7, 2007 9:55 PM (e)

I’m still curious about this thing. Still doesn’t smill right.

Why would Dembski, a professor at another institution, take a “post-doc” position in engineering, for any reason? Wouldn’t any work he might have done have more credibility published as an interdisciplinary work between two institutions?

It just doesn’t smell right, still. There’s another shoe yet to drop on this.

Comment #205033

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on September 7, 2007 11:04 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

This grant and the invitation to work with Prof. Marks was entirely at his initiative.

Odd that the ever modest Dembski went out of his way to say this. It must have a shock when Marks called him. Oh well, that answers Ed’s question.

Odd too that the name “Liferworks Foundation” foils an ordinary search, which finds only the innocent one in Tennessee.

Comment #205046

Posted by PvM on September 8, 2007 12:10 AM (e)

What surprised me so far is how Dembski is making such a big deal of Baylor protecting its good name while not having raised the issue of Baylor having returned the grant for almost nine months.
Now I understand, a bit of digging would have been to embarrassing. Nice research.

Of course, despite all this, Dembski’s admissions that his work so far was hardly as solid as some had led to believe is interesting, of course, will the new ‘papers’ address the many shortcomings of ID? I doubt it.

Comment #205049

Posted by PvM on September 8, 2007 12:22 AM (e)

Do people still remember ISCID which was nothing more than a POBox address in Pennsylvania? ID is funny in its desperate attempts to pretend it has some scientific credibilities.

Comment #205068

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 8, 2007 1:17 AM (e)

There’s another shoe yet to drop on this.

and no doubt that shoe has already tred in some brown smelly stuff.

Comment #205144

Posted by wad of id on September 8, 2007 7:41 AM (e)

LOL, it is just so unexpected…

Comment #205149

Posted by apost8n8 on September 8, 2007 7:47 AM (e)

Not exactly on subject but for what its worth I just learned that Dembski will be speaking at the University of Oklahoma (just minutes from my home). The following is information provided to me via email.

According to posters seen around the OU Campus, Dembski will speak on 17 September at 7 PM in Meacham Auditorium (OU Memorial Union) on “Why Atheism is no Longer Intellectually Fulfilling: The Challenge of Intelligent Design to Unintelligent Evolution.”

An apparently new group called “Pursuit College Ministry” is hosting the event. The OU Pursuit College Ministry (motto on web page: “living the divine paradox, Psalm 42:1-2”) is a student organization with close ties to Trinity Baptist Church in Norman. Although the organization is an approved student group (apparently eligible for University funding),
the close relationship with a particular church, Trinity Baptist, may be unusual for such groups. The web site links to an ‘after church” item that states that the group meets at Trinity every Sunday and the group’s web site links directly to the site for Trinity.

Seen here http://www.trinitynorman.org/templates/System/de…>

The President of Pursuit College Ministry is Andrew Jennings and the Faculty Advisor is Dr. Larry Toothaker, statistics professor in
Psychology. Toothaker is an ID advocate who attempted to teach a course on the subject last year, but opposition from faculty members resulted in plans for the course being dropped. With Toothaker as the advisor, it is not surprising that they are pushing ID. Their stated objectives: “Equipping college students to pursue God, pursue authentic community with the body of Christ, and pursue the lost for Christ.”

Comment #205153

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 8, 2007 8:21 AM (e)

Dixon has the right to give his money to anyone he wants to, and the Biologic Institute has the right to hire whom they choose. But where’s the science in all this?

Does Dixon have a degree or work experience in biology? Were his former donations to hospitals for specified medical research projects?

Does anyone know anything about Dixon’s personal religious beliefs? Were the missions he contributed to strictly homeless shelters, or were they centers for evangelical Christian proselytizing? And is he associated with Christian dominionism, like other major contributors to the Discovery Institute?

I can’t see that any laws were broken. But I do find it strange that the Disco Institute is reporting this as a normal scientific grant. If the ID proponents have nothing to hide, why do they keep hiding?

Comment #205175

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 8, 2007 9:59 AM (e)

Just to be clear, I agree with hoary puccoon 100% with regard to the money. The problem here is not where the money comes from per se. As long as laws aren’t broken, Marks and Dembski have the right to seek funding wherever they can find it, in whatever form they can get it (grant, gift, endowment, etc), Baylor has the right to accept funding for their faculty from whatever source they wish, and the Lifeworks Foundation can give their money to whoever they damn please.

The alluded “mischief” here is for Dembski to present this as a run-of-the-mill research grant from some “foundation”, or as the DI EN&V blog put it “an outside organization”, without coming clean about the source of the money. If they had simply said something like “Marks secured funding from a Discovery Institute-friendly donor” I would have found no problem with it whatsoever.

Indeed, I have long advocated that the DI itself should give their money to ID “scientists” willing to write up competitive grant applications (to be fair, they actually even tried to do some science-funding a while ago, namely for Doug Axe’s project), rather than overwhelmingly to lawyers and PR hacks as they currently seem to be doing. Alas, it looks like the DI head honchos consider their lawyers and PR hacks a more productive investment than their scientists.

Comment #205177

Posted by sparc on September 8, 2007 10:06 AM (e)

At least OU Pursuit College Ministry doesn’t claim that Dembski’s talk will have anything of a scientific talk:

He will preach at Trinity Sunday morning and then make several presentations at OU during the rest of his time in Norman.

Make no mistake about it, our goal for this project is not to win a debate or to simply present an alternative worldview. Our prayer for this entire effort is for God to open doors so the power of His gospel would be made known to groups of people who need to hear the truth. The issues of intelligent design and evolution are far greater than simply differing perspectives about science. The overall issue is one explaining the world in which we live. Another issue, Naturalism, eliminates God from the equation and thus affects every other part of life. That makes this issue one of vital gospel importance!

…not to win a debate? Doesn’t really fit to the wedge strategy and one wonders why in hell Dembski would need a lab at Baylor’s for these efforts.

It is never cheap to make this kind of gospel investment. We have many expenses such as speaker honorarium and expenses, facility rentals at OU, meals, lodging, promotion, advertising, etc. The goal that Trinity has set is $5,000.

$5000? I guess I’ll try to convince the organizers of the next meeting I will attend that mytal is a gospel investment. Twelve talks a year, some royalties from your books and you don’t have to care if the lab is running or if your PhD students are working. Again, why in hell does Dembski have to apply for a lousy postdoc position?
I’m afraid, tomorrow we’ll see the famous disclaimer


{“For heaven’s sake people, THIS IS A P-A-R-O-D-Y!!}

before the page disappears completely.

Comment #205184

Posted by rimpal on September 8, 2007 10:34 AM (e)

Yeah, and when Dembski talks of “press coverage” of the controversy he is referring to posts on evolutionnews.org, and postings by DO’L on UD.com! Pomp!

Comment #205185

Posted by Doc Bill on September 8, 2007 10:41 AM (e)

Under the heading of more of the same, Anika Smith reports

The lab’s scope of research is described on evolutionaryinformatics.org (now hosted by a third party):

A simple Whosis search reveals the website owner to be none other than William Dembski.

Why the cloak and dagger “third party” description?

Why not just say that EvoInfo is being hosted by Dembski?

Comment #205186

Posted by J-Dog on September 8, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

Rimpal: Did you mean “pomp” or “pimp?

Comment #205188

Posted by Science Avenger on September 8, 2007 10:52 AM (e)

[yawn] Just more adventures fromm the Wizard of ID. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!

Comment #205189

Posted by raven on September 8, 2007 11:05 AM (e)

The issues of intelligent design and evolution are far greater than simply differing perspectives about science. The overall issue is one explaining the world in which we live. Another issue, Naturalism, eliminates God from the equation and thus affects every other part of life.

Oh for Cthulhus sake. Another antiscience nut waving a bible around and lying. Does this guy from Trinity Luddite Dark-Ages-Wannabe “church” ever wonder why 2007 is a lot differenct from 1507? Or where the computers, medical care, safe running water, and plentiful food, etc. came from?

It wasn’t prayed into existence. The first Big Lie. The fundies always have a few. Methodological Naturalism also known as science doesn’t eliminate god from the equation. Science simply declares the supernatural as out of bounds, being beyond the reach of our senses and instruments and is neutral about it.

The other Big Lie. “The issues of intelligent design and evolution are far greater than simply differing perspectives about science.” This isn’t at all about differing perspectives about science. It is about something true and proven and important to our material well being versus some pseudoscience based on a few pages of 4,000 year old bronze age mythology.

This attitude is a disgrace in the 21st century at a major university like OU.

The fundies see no problem with complaining about science while obliviously enjoying all its benefits. Just once I would like to see these lying hypocrites walk their talk and go back to an 18th century tech level life style.

Comment #205190

Posted by raven on September 8, 2007 11:13 AM (e)

Got to give Demski some credit here. He is a big fish in a small and rather murky pond, the pseudoscience swamp. Milton said it centuries ago, “It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.”

Looks like one can make a reasonably profitable living pushing bafflegab nonsense. Real scientists have to keep coming up with real and tangible results in the real world. It isn’t always easy.

Comment #205196

Posted by rimpal on September 8, 2007 11:45 AM (e)

J-dog; I mean Pomp of course - all that is left of Dembski 10 years after.

And Raven, Dembski is such a pathetic little whiner; how could you ever compare him to Milton’s Lucifer?

Comment #205202

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 8, 2007 12:39 PM (e)

Alas, it looks like the DI head honchos consider their lawyers and PR hacks a more productive investment than their scientists.

you could scale that up to the current white house administration and still be just as accurate.

Comment #205221

Posted by Coin on September 8, 2007 1:33 PM (e)

The problem here is not where the money comes from per se. As long as laws aren’t broken, Marks and Dembski have the right to seek funding wherever they can find it, in whatever form they can get it (grant, gift, endowment, etc), Baylor has the right to accept funding for their faculty from whatever source they wish, and the Lifeworks Foundation can give their money to whoever they damn please.

The main problem what I see here is that it looks like they are successfully presenting the initial appearance of a multiplicity of entities– the DI, the Biologic Institute, Robert Marks’ “lab”– whereas as always the entire plate of spaghetti is just different tendrils of the DI, to the point of the funding originating there.

After the more-or-less collapse of the ID scam and the bad press this collapse engendered, it’s to the DI institute’s benefit both to allow evolution deniers to distance themselves from the DI, and to present the appearance there’s more than one group of people working in Intelligent Design, really. To the extent that these appearances are false, the DI shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. I for one wouldn’t have realized the Marks thing was connected to the DI had this article not been posted.

By the way, as long as we’re on the subject, I notice there is no mention of the Biologic institute on wikipedia, anywhere. I think I’m going to try to remedy this. Does anyone have any suggestions for citable sources of information about the Biologic institute besides the New Scientist “God lab” article? Also, does anyone know whether the Biologic institute is part of the DI, or whether the DI just supplied seed money– i.e. would it make more sense for the Biologic institute get their own wikipedia entry, or to just have a section in the main DI article? Thanks.

Comment #205224

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 8, 2007 1:45 PM (e)

Biologic Institute on Wikipedia.

Comment #205225

Posted by Coin on September 8, 2007 1:47 PM (e)

*scratches head* See, now that’s what I would have expected to see. I wonder why I didn’t see that when I tried to search for it. Sorry about that :)

Comment #205230

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 8, 2007 2:10 PM (e)

Coin,

As penance, you can edit the Wiki page to correct some inaccuracies.

For instance, the entry states that Biologic is funded by DI and cites a NYT article by Kenneth Chang. However, Chang only mentions that DI funded Douglas Axe. According to New Scientist, that happened when Axe was a postdoc in Cambridge.

Now we know that it’s the other way around: DI has received substantial funding from a guy working at Biologic. I think the entry ought to be corrected.

Comment #205253

Posted by Henry J on September 8, 2007 3:12 PM (e)

Re “Alas, it looks like the DI head honchos consider their lawyers and PR hacks a more productive investment than their scientists.”

That seems logical, considering that their lawyers and PR staff are actually doing lawyer and PR type work.

Henry

Comment #205263

Posted by Donald M on September 8, 2007 4:18 PM (e)

Andrea

However, what is clear is that the “grant” awarded to Marks for his work looks suspiciously like the result of a personal agreement between long-time friends and associates, rather than of a competitive application process as are the vast majority of research grants from public or private agencies to academic scientists. Did Marks actively seek out Lifeworks as a funding source, and did he know about the connections between the Foundation and the DI?

Clearly this LifeWorks Foundation was a private foundation. The grantors of these types of foundations don’t have to have any application process at all and are free to make grants to whomever they wish, as long as the recipients meet the qualifications established by the IRS, which clearly Baylor does. It matters not one whit if Dembski and Allen or Marks and Allen are friends or not.

It is sometimes (though not often) the case with private foundations that the grantors approach the potential recipient first because they’ve heard of a specific project or cause in which they have an interest.

In short there’s nothing out of the ordinary or “fishy” here. I see nothing suspicious in the 990 either…looks just like the hundreds of others I’ve looked at over the years. I know of a few private foundations that believed so strongly in something that they opted to give from their corpus and not just the earnings of their foundation. If Allen wanted to reduce his principle by $500k to support the DI, more power to him. Allen may have had personal financial reasons to give away the foundation. That’s between him, his CPA and the IRS.

Andrea:

The alluded “mischief” here is for Dembski to present this as a run-of-the-mill research grant from some “foundation”, or as the DI EN&V blog put it “an outside organization”, without coming clean about the source of the money. If they had simply said something like “Marks secured funding from a Discovery Institute-friendly donor” I would have found no problem with it whatsoever.

Well, fortunately for Baylor, Marks, Allen and Dembski, the rules of disclosure are written to keep you from having a “problem”. The funding source is “an outside organization” by any definition. The fact that the source is “DI friendly” makes not one whit of difference. It is not for Dembski or Marks to disclose, in fact would be inappropriate for them to disclose, what other organizations were funded by thier funding source. That’s for the funder to decide. With a private foundation, the emphasis is on the word “private.” As long as they meet the IRS disclosure rules, there’s no requirement that annoucements must be made every time they make a grant.

The only “mischief” here was done by the Baylor administration…again! First Dembski, then Beckwith and now Marks. Baylor continues to give itself black eyes.

Comment #205270

Posted by Coin on September 8, 2007 4:36 PM (e)

Clearly this LifeWorks Foundation was a private foundation. The grantors of these types of foundations don’t have to have any application process at all and are free to make grants to whomever they wish, as long as the recipients meet the qualifications established by the IRS, which clearly Baylor does. It matters not one whit if Dembski and Allen or Marks and Allen are friends or not.

It is moderately clear from original context and made crystal clear by Andrea’s comments here that she is not talking about whether or not what LifeWorks did was legal.

Comment #205279

Posted by DonaldM on September 8, 2007 4:48 PM (e)

Raven:

The first Big Lie. The fundies always have a few. Methodological Naturalism also known as science doesn’t eliminate god from the equation. Science simply declares the supernatural as out of bounds, being beyond the reach of our senses and instruments and is neutral about it.

Methodical Naturalism (MN) is not “known as science.” MN is an arbitrary constraint upon scientific practice that supposedly protects science from some ill-defined possibility of deviating into the supernatural or metaphysics. The claim that the “supernatural is out of bounds” is itself not a scientific statement, by your own definition, because it would be beyond the reach of science and MN to determine whether or not the supernatural is, in fact, beyond the reach of our senses. Perhaps you could share how came by this knowledge, since it clearly wasn’t through science.

Contrary to what you write here, MN is virtually indistinguisable from PN, something which even some anti-ID Darwinists, like Massimo Pigliucci, have stated.

Raven:

The other Big Lie. “The issues of intelligent design and evolution are far greater than simply differing perspectives about science.” This isn’t at all about differing perspectives about science. It is about something true and proven and important to our material well being versus some pseudoscience based on a few pages of 4,000 year old bronze age mythology.

It is very much about differing perspective about science. Either intelligence played a part in bringing about the existence of the cosmos or it didn’t. Either intelligence played a part in bringing into existence biological systems on planet earth or it didn’t. We have no scientific basis upon which to claim we know that it did or it didn’t. However, defining science in such a way that intelligence is eliminated from consideration before the investigation begins does not constitute scientific confirmation that intelligence did not. Maybe it did; maybe it didn’t. But is highly unscientific to claim we already know, because we don’t. This confusion can be cleared up quickly if someone could simply state how it is we know scientifically (and not philosophically, metaphysically or theologically), that the properties of the cosmos are such that no natural system, including biological systems, no matter how much appearance of design is observed, could be the result of actual purposeful intelligent design, even in principle. So-called ‘methodological naturalism’ rigs the game before it is even played, which is about as unscientific as you can get!

Comment #205281

Posted by DonaldM on September 8, 2007 4:55 PM (e)

Coin:

It is moderately clear from original context and made crystal clear by Andrea’s comments here that she is not talking about whether or not what LifeWorks did was legal.

True, but the implication is that something improper took place. The word “miscief” was used. I’m making clear that that is simply not the case.

By the way, Andrea is a he: http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/gebs/faculty/Andre…

Unless there are two of them, one of each gender!

Comment #205285

Posted by N.Wells on September 8, 2007 5:06 PM (e)

Dembski wants to be able to point to ID research coming out of Baylor. “Research” sounds like science, and Baylor is the closest he’s been able to get to academic respectability. This connection evidently means enough to him that he’d rather wrangle a postdoc with a pittance and a broom-closet office at Baylor than be a collaborating scientist or co-PI from his own institution. (They can’t be any too pleased about this arrangement either, nor that one of their own professors would prefer to present a public face as a Baylor post-doc rather than as a Whatevertheheckitis professor, but those are other stories.)

The academic world strongly favors external competitive funding, and the more competitive the better - “a gift from a rich friend” is welcome, but it falls well below top-notch (it’s green, but it doesn’t constitute an external, critical, and competitive validation of the researcher and his/her research). If Marks and Dembski could show Baylor independent external funding, Baylor would have been much more likely to go along with the whole charade and let Marks have his research lab or whatever. It would be really interesting to hear what the Baylor officials were given to understand about the Lifeworks Foundation. The fact that they sent the money back may indicate some problems here. So I’m with Ed - there may still be shoes to drop.

From Dembski at http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-desig…
[quote] I had a postdoctoral grant, procured by Bob, back in 2006, which President Lilley nixed. I was paid about 1 mos. part time salary in November 2006 and then for 1 week of December.[/quote] He got shut down in early December, which accounts for the single week, so this was apparently intended to be an ongoing thing, presumably for a year. After fringe benefits and university overhead, but pre-taxes, the $30k might not even have paid Dembski $1500 per month, but as he said, it’s part-time. It’s interesting that Marks & Dembski didn’t run it as summer salary paid through Dembski’s college, which would be far more normal, although the post-doc fiction lets Dembski get paid immediately rather than waiting for the summer. Also universities get funny about outside earnings during the academic year: you can’t double-dip on research that you should be doing as part of your regular full-time job, and you shouldn’t be moonlighting at a second full-time job, although they will let professors earn some consulting fees and the like and put in a certain amount of hours per week on external commercial work. No doubt Dembski is following his intstitution’s regulations, but he is probably cutting close to the corners, and his bosses probably aren’t overly happy with him, if they have any pride in their own institution.

Dembski’s latest post ( http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-desig…
) is a lengthy and persuasive defense of Marks as a serious academic plus a summary of how Baylor usually treats quasi-formalized research groups and research “Labs”. Marks has lots of grants and publications; Baylor is usually hands-off and happy to see professors actively adding to Baylor’s reputation. It is hard to imagine how awful Dembski’s reputation must be if he can simultaneously bring a bad odor to Marks and make a university eager to give back a donation. I suspect all that farty-noise animation and belittling of a federal judge made more of an impression than Dembski intended, and I suspect that the tin ear for reasonable behavior that he demonstrates so frequently on his blog indicates that he behaved similarly toward the Baylor administration, so that their policy has become, 1) try to maintain a blanket of dignified silence, and 2) keep Dembski as far away as legally possible without showing up in court to take out a restraining order.

Lastly, was Dixon maybe part of the reason that the Discovery Institute had such surprisingly close ties to & support from Microsoft back in its early days?

Comment #205287

Posted by raven on September 8, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

DonaldM the supernatural ghost expert:

Methodical Naturalism (MN) is not “known as science.”… Deleted nonsense… Perhaps you could share how came by this knowledge, since it clearly wasn’t through science.

From talkorigins.org:

The naturalism that science adopts is methodological naturalism. It does not assume that nature is all there is; it merely notes that nature is the only objective standard we have. The supernatural is not ruled out a priori; when it claims observable results that can be studied scientifically, the supernatural is studied scientifically (e.g., Astin et al. 2000; Enright 1999). It gets little attention because it has never been reliably observed. Still, there are many scientists who use naturalism but who believe in more than nature.

I got it from talkorigins.org, repeated above, list of claims. This issue also came up at the Kitzmiller versus Dover trial.

If science could study the supernatural, they would. Running gels and writing papers gets boring. No one I know has figured out a way to do so. If you think we can, explain it. This could make Halloween a lot more interesting, LOL.

The Journal of Supernatural Studies and Ghostbusting isn’t considered a real scientific journal.

Some say that if we could study the supernatural it wouldn’t be the supernatural. So far this is a moot point.

Comment #205290

Posted by harold on September 8, 2007 5:35 PM (e)

Donald M. -

How ironic that the likes of you should show up just as lawyers and PR hacks were being mentioned.

The only “mischief” here was done by the Baylor administration…again! First Dembski, then Beckwith and now Marks. Baylor continues to give itself black eyes.

Garbage. Dembski and Marks are clearly engaged in possibly legal but overtly unethical behavior.

Their objective is to create the false appearance, in the public eye, that some sort of respectable research is going on, and that it meets the standards expected from work at a major research university, when in reality the money secretly came from an ideological fellow traveler, and the scheme was pulled off behind the back of the university.

I’m not 100% sure that making use of university property and implying university affilitation is legal in this case.

Methodical Naturalism (MN) is not “known as science.” MN is an arbitrary constraint upon scientific practice that supposedly protects science from some ill-defined possibility of deviating into the supernatural or metaphysics. The claim that the “supernatural is out of bounds” is itself not a scientific statement, by your own definition, because it would be beyond the reach of science and MN to determine whether or not the supernatural is, in fact, beyond the reach of our senses. Perhaps you could share how came by this knowledge, since it clearly wasn’t through science.

It sure is easy to string together words like “materialism”, “naturalism”, and so on. So what? How old is the earth? Does life share common ancestry? How does life evolve? Do humans and apes share recent common ancestry? What is YOUR answer to these questions? Please don’t reply to me without answering these questions.

Contrary to what you write here, MN is virtually indistinguisable from PN, something which even some anti-ID Darwinists, like Massimo Pigliucci, have stated.

I’d call that statement a bare-faced, trivially demonstrated inaccuracy, since the pope, for example, clearly endorses science without endorsing “philosophical naturalism”.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that they are “nearly indistinguishable”. I don’t think they are, and don’t care, either, but if we grant that they are, how does that affect you?

Does that mean that you have to deny the scientific description of reality OR choose “PN”?

Faced with such a dilemma, how do you decide? Do you accept the fact that putting pressure on the accelerator peddle usually makes a car go faster, for example, thus endorsing “MN”, and therefore, forced into “nearly indistinguishable” “PN”, which is presumably the same thing as atheism?

Or on the contrary, to you firmly reject all “naturalism”, thus rejecting “MN”, and having no basis upon which to decide whether jumping out of an airplane without a parachute is or is not a dangerous idea?

Which is it?

Comment #205291

Posted by raven on September 8, 2007 5:47 PM (e)

DonaldM

It is very much about differing perspective about science. Either intelligence played a part in bringing about the existence of the cosmos or it didn’t. Either intelligence played a part in bringing into existence biological systems on planet earth or it didn’t. We have no scientific basis upon which to claim we know that it did or it didn’t. However, defining science in such a way that intelligence is eliminated from consideration before the investigation begins does not constitute scientific confirmation that intelligence did not.

Not going to consider the creation of the universe because we know little about what happened 13.7 billion years ago and 13.7 billion light years away. This is one place where a supernatural entity could well have done so. A hypothesis of which there is little data one way or the other.

ABout evolution, how and why life changes through time, we know a huge amount. ID has had 150 years since Paly to amass data supporting their position. The result to date is zero data and a huge pile of lies, half truths, and gibberish by some pretty disreputable characters.

Evolution on the other hand, has mountains of evidence, whole libraries. We see it going on all around us today. It is medically and agriculturally important. No one in science but a few religious fanatics has felt the need to multiply causes unnecessarily (Occam’s Razor).

It is virtually impossible to prove a negative. But the evidence for ID is on par with the evidence for chocolate teapots orbiting Europa.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Science has certainly proven that we don’t need the supernatural to assist 3.6 billion years of evolution. It is up to the IDists to prove their claims. The clock is at 150 years and ticking.

BTW, the current incarnation of ID has been ruled in court as both not scientific by the M. Naturalism criteria but is in fact a thinly disguised form of a sectarian religious belief from Xian derived cults. It is no accident that the IDists are all fundie cultists.

DonaldM “However, defining science in such a way that intelligence is eliminated from consideration before the investigation begins…

Before the investigation begins. Huh!!????You do realize that is has been going on for 150 years. The IDists have gotten exactly nowhere. Free country, they are free to pursue this until the sun goes nova if they want to. While modern biology has been leaping ahead in what will be known as the golden age of biology, they are stuck at the starting point.

Comment #205293

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 8, 2007 6:01 PM (e)

True, but the implication is that something improper took place. The word “miscief” was used. I’m making clear that that is simply not the case.

I think I was pretty clear what I intended as “mischief”, i.e. another example of the constant twisting of the truth by Dembski and his acolytes for pure “spin” purposes. Of course Lifeworks is a “foundation” and an “outside organization”, but the fact is that it was presented in those vague terms instead of making clear what everyone involved knew, i.e. that it was just another satellite entity in the ID “circle of friends”, just like ISCID was presented as a “scientific society”, which it was except its “office” address was a mail box. Dembski’s and EN&V’s readers were given the impression that Marks’s award for Dembski constituted a conventional type of science grant, and thus a validation by some third-party organization of the value of what Dembski and Marks had proposed to do. We now know this wasn’t the case.

What I also find interesting, by the way, is that Marks is clearly an excellent scholar in his field, with a superior track-record of funding through all sorts of governmental and private agencies. Why did he look for such a cheap shortcut for his work with Dembski, if he truly believes the work is competitive and already has several publications in the pipeline?

BTW, your arguments on methodological materialism make no sense, as others have already pointed out. To realize this, just take any purportedly supernatural phenomenon you wish, say Jesus turning water into wine, or the Hindu milk-drinking statues - whatever, you choose. Now, tell us how you will practically test the hypothesis that that phenomenon is supernatural. One experiment or more, just tell us. But remember, you have to test the supernatural explanation, not alternative naturalistic hypotheses, because that’s what methodological naturalism does. Go ahead.

Comment #205302

Posted by PvM on September 8, 2007 6:36 PM (e)

Wells, well said. ID has tried before to ‘publish’ ‘scientific’ papers relevant to ID (ISCID) and we all know how big a success this was. By linking to a new Evolutionary Information Lab at Baylor, and the many publications by Marks, ID can pretend to have some veil of respectability. Of course, in the end they will still ignore the many problems with ID, raised by its opponents and pretend that the lack of actual research and progress is due to those mean Darwinists.

ID is fundamentally scientifically vacuous and until this is fixed, ID will remain a minor curiosity, desperately looking for some respectability. Sometimes I am not surprised that people like Sal are attracted to ID.

Comment #205317

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 8, 2007 7:45 PM (e)

Baylor continues to give itself black eyes.

indeed, I have to agree with Donald here.

perhaps, though, they might take the lesson and not hire morons like Dembski et. al. to begin with?

how’s that work for you, donald duck?

Quack!

Comment #205335

Posted by Erp on September 8, 2007 9:21 PM (e)

Well researchers will do a lot to get funds. I must admit the Stanford professor who bought three strip clubs intending to use their profits to fund his research has a certain double takeness about it.

Anyway it should be interesting to find out why Baylor returned the money. What were the conditions on the grant?

Comment #205337

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 8, 2007 10:00 PM (e)

OT, but isn’t about time a PT contributor did a thread on the history of “achievement” of James Kennedy?

I think it would be a great idea to post a history of what his movement has attempted to accomplish, and the lies, subterfuge, and terrorist tactics used in order to promote their goals.

summarizing all the threads about the darwin-hitler crap would be a good start, since that was Kennedy’s most recent “crowning achievement” for television.

Comment #205347

Posted by Robby on September 8, 2007 10:31 PM (e)

I have to go with Erp on this one. Much stranger, sleazier sources of funding are to be found out there, and no one raises an eyebrow. Check out the following website:

http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2001/11/16/sta…

//[On Sept. 5, 2001, Prof. Stertzer made a striking foray in his quest for medical advancement. If you are still reading this, you might ask: how did he do this? Ladies and gentlemen, he opened three strip clubs in Las Vegas. Not just for fun, mind you. The clubs — or Institutes of Ethnographic Studies, as we like to call them — would provide the funding for his cardiovascular research.

You may be confused. You may think you read wrong. You may not know how to read at all. But let it be proclaimed, once again, with trumpeting fanfare: one of our own, in this academic family, opened strip clubs to fund his research. In the words of the genius himself: “Whatever will provide cash flow will do.’’ Word.]//

How do we know, anyway, that Lifeworks was set up with the primary intention of providing funding for intelligent design research? It could be, no?, that it was originally set up, at least in part, for other purposes (with a considerable amount of cash going to charities). Even if Lifeworks was established only to provide capital for Marks, how is this wrong? Is it worse than getting funding from strip clubs, like certain Stanford profs do? Does it justify Baylor’s action in removing his website and returning the grant money, for whatever reason? This is probably the best case for discrimination the DI can muster, and on the face of it, it looks convincing.

How about Marks’ actual research? Has anyone read his three papers for review? Can anyone assess their scholarly merit? Is he producing pseudo-science or is he actually contributing to a legitimate problem/area of research?

Comment #205360

Posted by Henry J on September 8, 2007 11:09 PM (e)

It’s not whether a concept is natural or supernatural that matters, it’s whether or not that concept provides an explanation for some set of repeatable verifiable observations or measurements.

Henry

Comment #205367

Posted by rimpal on September 8, 2007 11:20 PM (e)

Donald M;
Either intelligence played a part in bringing about the existence of the cosmos or it didn’t. Either intelligence played a part in bringing into existence biological systems on planet earth or it didn’t.

Before you get hot under the collar, stop throwing around a meaningless placeholder such as intelligence. The scientific definition of intelligence does not lend itself in any way to being a part of your fantasy scenario either at th ebeginning of the universe or now.

Comment #205370

Posted by Les Lane on September 8, 2007 11:36 PM (e)

If funding sources were clearly and unambiguously identified, one might get the impression that intelligent design is entirely a Discovery Institute promotion.

Comment #205378

Posted by Wolfhound on September 9, 2007 12:17 AM (e)

Gee, they have that Wikipedia page slated for deletion. Now I wonder why that is and who complained…?

Comment #205400

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 1:09 AM (e)

Why is it that all this reactionary-futurist ID stuff is centered around Seattle and Redmond? Is there some sort of ephemeral Microsoft connection here? I’m not suggesting an official connection, but there seems to be some sort of reactionary-futurist right-wing cultural milieu here. Anyone around the area want to scratch the surface on this one?

Comment #205403

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 1:16 AM (e)

rimpal wrote:

Before you get hot under the collar, stop throwing around a meaningless placeholder such as intelligence. The scientific definition of intelligence does not lend itself in any way to being a part of your fantasy scenario either at th ebeginning of the universe or now.

I wasn’t even aware that there even was a scientific definition of intelligence. Hell, the current attempts at a definition of life are pretty weak. They’re not universal in any way. If we can’t even define life well, how can we define intelligence? Our current definition of life is basically a laundry list of attributes of Earth-life, and our current definition of intelligence is basically a laundry list of attributes of Human intelligence. All life may not be like Earth-life, and all intelligence may not be like Human intelligence.

Scientifically, the question “did intelligence have a part in the origin of life?” is pretty vacuous in itself since we can’t even provide a universal medium-independent definition of the two key concepts in that sentence. Scientifically we don’t even know how to ask such a question, let alone answer it.

Comment #205409

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 1:22 AM (e)

N. Wells wrote:

Dembski wants to be able to point to ID research coming out of Baylor. “Research” sounds like science, and Baylor is the closest he’s been able to get to academic respectability. This connection evidently means enough to him that he’d rather wrangle a postdoc with a pittance and a broom-closet office at Baylor than be a collaborating scientist or co-PI from his own institution. (They can’t be any too pleased about this arrangement either, nor that one of their own professors would prefer to present a public face as a Baylor post-doc rather than as a Whatevertheheckitis professor, but those are other stories.)

I don’t understand why this is necessary. It doesn’t matter where the research comes out of. If you have a good experimental or theoretical paper, you can publish from any institution: a private company, a university, a foundation, or even just by yourself. If you are a lone gunman it helps to have friends in academia to referee for you, but with that long list of anti-evolution sympathizers in academia that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

So where’s the research guys? You’ve got plenty of money… way more money than a lot of evolution labs. Where’s the research? Hell, even a good theoretical paper on biological/evolutionary informatics would be worth something.

Crickets…

Comment #205412

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 9, 2007 1:30 AM (e)

I don’t understand why this is necessary.

ditto. I rather think it’s more an image thing than an actual research thing.

Dembski is constantly trying to make up for his poor image within the academic community, and I would figure his buddy Mark was just trying to help him out.

lend him some cred, as it were.

kinda backfired, though, huh?

Comment #205413

Posted by snaxalotl on September 9, 2007 1:41 AM (e)

Cut you off, Neal? This is not a creationist/ID website, where you have to remove cogent criticisms in case they persuade someone to move to the dark side. Truth-seeking people enjoy seeing a bit of looney ranting. In general, it only gets removed when it takes up so much space that it interferes with the process of people trying to have a more sensible discussion.

Comment #205445

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 9, 2007 4:00 AM (e)

Harold to Donald M:
“How ironic that the likes of you should show up just as lawyers and PR hacks were being mentioned.”

Yeah, I noticed that, too. An unbiased expert on grants, who just happens to have some very confused ideas about science, shows up for the first time here with a polished defense of Wm A Dembski and a snarky comment about Baylor. No connection to ID that I can see. Nope. Just cruised the web and stumbled onto PT, didn’t you, Donnie, baby?

(Um, to spell this out, the point of this thread, Donald, was that a very small band of people are trying to look like a major movement. And your behavior, rather than convincing us otherwise, further confirms that hypothesis.)

Comment #205452

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 9, 2007 4:32 AM (e)

2nd post in a row, on a completely different topic.

Raven says: “Some say that if we could study the supernatural it wouldn’t be the supernatural. So far this is a moot point.”

It’s a moot point or not, depending how you look at it. Erwin Shrodinger and Max Delbruck, legendary scientists, both trained in physics, independently hypothesized that the study of cell chemistry would discover new laws of physics. That’s about as close as a physicist could come to saying, “We’ll discover the supernatural.”

Nobody ostracized Shrodinger or Delbruck for their implicit challenge to “naturalism.” On the contrary, ambitious researchers went into the field of cell chemistry expressly hoping to overturn the established view. The result was, they discovered that very large molecules (e.g., proteins and nucleic acids) obeyed the same laws of chemistry and physics as any other molecules. So “naturalism” was an experimental result, not a presupposition.

I vaguely remember that “methodological naturalism” was one of the tests the courts use (along with “published in peer-reviewed journals”) for defining science for the purpose of teaching in US public schools. In practice, I can’t think of a single scientist I’ve ever known who would abandon a promising line of research because it got too close to the supernatural.

To bring this back to my previous post, it’s the “lawyers and PR hacks” who worry about naturalism vs. supernaturalism. Not the scientists.

Comment #205520

Posted by Moses on September 9, 2007 9:06 AM (e)

Comment #205263
Posted by Donald M on September 8, 2007 4:18 PM (e)

Clearly this LifeWorks Foundation was a private foundation. The grantors of these types of foundations don’t have to have any application process at all and are free to make grants to whomever they wish, as long as the recipients meet the qualifications established by the IRS, which clearly Baylor does. It matters not one whit if Dembski and Allen or Marks and Allen are friends or not.

It is sometimes (though not often) the case with private foundations that the granters approach the potential recipient first because they’ve heard of a specific project or cause in which they have an interest.

In short there’s nothing out of the ordinary or “fishy” here. I see nothing suspicious in the 990 either…looks just like the hundreds of others I’ve looked at over the years. I know of a few private foundations that believed so strongly in something that they opted to give from their corpus and not just the earnings of their foundation. If Allen wanted to reduce his principle by $500k to support the DI, more power to him. Allen may have had personal financial reasons to give away the foundation. That’s between him, his CPA and the IRS.

Not quite. If you give a grant to a University and specify the recipients, you look to the relationship of the recipients of the grant to apply the self-dealing rules through the step-transaction doctrine. In short, your explanation seems technically right, if Baylor were the intended recipient, but wrong because it is the end grantee in this area.

Also, you’re not quite right with the Private Foundations rules. A Private Foundation can pretty much do anything it wants with its money. Except for self-dealing with disqualified individuals, hold more than 20% of the private stock of a corporation, spending money on political or lobbying causes or engage in imprudent and speculative investing. It’s the exceptions that make things interesting, not the permissions on which you focused.

So the question remains, and you don’t address anywhere in your post, was there improper self-dealing? Did Baylor believe there was improper self-dealing? Do you have any facts to support your indictment against Baylor in light that there could have very well been some improper self-dealing (direct or step-transaction)? Further, Intelligent Design is a political cause, not a scientific cause. This would give Baylor every right to return the money as it would serve to drag Baylor into politics (which is prohibited to Baylor) and would threaten the institution’s tax exempt status. Do have facts to remove this possibility from the equation? Did you even consider it before you jumped the martyr shark?

I don’t know whether Baylor terminated this project and returned the grant because of self-dealing, or they just feel that the entire ID movement is political, or Baylor decided to make sure it wasn’t affiliated with plain old bullshit. But attacking Baylor and claiming they’re giving themselves “black eyes” without understanding and accounting for ALL of the rules that govern Private Foundations and Exempt Organizations is bunk. A fuller understanding of the rules tells anyone in the industry that Baylor can have very legitimate reasons for returning the money. All of which deny the “ID Martyr” scenario.

Comment #205524

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 9:44 AM (e)

puccoon wrote:

Nobody ostracized Shrodinger or Delbruck for their implicit challenge to “naturalism.” On the contrary, ambitious researchers went into the field of cell chemistry expressly hoping to overturn the established view. The result was, they discovered that very large molecules (e.g., proteins and nucleic acids) obeyed the same laws of chemistry and physics as any other molecules. So “naturalism” was an experimental result, not a presupposition.

That’s because they weren’t challenging naturalism per se. They were just saying that it’s like that, as we study something as complex and interesting as biology, we’ll discover aspects of nature that we haven’t discovered yet.

Saying “I don’t know” is also not a challenge to naturalism per se.

The challenge to naturalism (methodological or philosophical) is in saying that the answer must lie outside of nature. That’s what “supernatural” means. Super-natural: outside of nature. A supernatural mechanism or cause by definition cannot be understood through natural means at all.

So by saying that something is likely supernatural, you’re not saying that it involves mechanisms we don’t understand. What you’re saying is that we can never and will never understand the mechanism in any normal way. If the assertion that something must be supernatural is accepted, it stops science. Why bother with science when the answer is permanently locked behind the veil of the universe?

ID is, among other things, an attempt to put forward biological origins and evolution as a kind of scientific event horizon that can never be crossed, thus permanently reserving the origin question for religion alone. It’s an attempt to hold the line against the advance of learning.

Unfortunately for the IDists, they are attempting to erect their line where science has already begun to cross. There were armies behind the line and happily marching on before they even started erecting it.

Comment #205525

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 9:52 AM (e)

Sorry to spam the comments, but one last thing about challenges to naturalism.

Try telling a theologist, priest, or any other religious thinker the following: “Sure there might be a God, but we have no hope of ever understanding what God is all about or what his/her/it’s intentions are. God is fundamentally beyond all human comprehension, and all your religious beliefs are merely weak and falliable human attempts to understand the ineffable. We will never know what happens after you die, how we might obtain any kind of salvation, or even if such a thing exists. We aren’t capable of understanding the truth, so just give up.”

They’ll all counter that no, their religion offers a way of actually understanding God. Father, son, holy ghost, redemption on the cross, whatever.

When IDists tell scientists that a mysterious black-box intelligence *must* have been necessary to bring about or evolve life, they are saying this about the origin/evolution of life question. They are saying “try as you might, you will never understand.”

Of *course* you’ll get ostracised from science for saying that! You’d get kicked out of seminary for saying the former! Saying that someone’s field is impotent is not a good way to ingratiate yourself.

Comment #205526

Posted by fnxtr on September 9, 2007 9:59 AM (e)

So ID is the fundies’ Maginot Line, then?

Comment #205527

Posted by fnxtr on September 9, 2007 10:00 AM (e)

Erm, no, I guess not. That would put the march of science in a bad light, wouldn’t it. Never mind.

Comment #205544

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 9, 2007 11:11 AM (e)

Adam Ierymenko says,

“by saying that something is likely supernatural, you’re not saying that it involves mechanisms we don’t understand. What you’re saying is that we can never and will never understand the mechanism in any normal way. If the assertion that something must be supernatural is accepted, it stops science.”

Okay, I get it now. If cell chemists looked for new laws of physics, that wasn’t exploring the supernatural, because they were still doing science. So Donald M’s complaint isn’t that scientists don’t look for the supernatural– it’s that they DO look for the supernatural, because as soon as they find it, it isn’t supernatural any more.

So basically we’re being told that the Dark Ages were really great times because look at all those gorgeous cathedrals they built and selfdom, the black death, and burning heretics at the stake were a small price to pay. Right. Got it.

Comment #205549

Posted by PvM on September 9, 2007 11:54 AM (e)

As a Christian I apologize for Neal, as a scientists I apologize for Neal. There appears to be some trollish nature to him. Don’t feed him any further and the mess will clean up itself.

Comment #205550

Posted by Erp on September 9, 2007 12:15 PM (e)

Moses wrote:

Further, Intelligent Design is a political cause, not a scientific cause. This would give Baylor every right to return the money as it would serve to drag Baylor into politics (which is prohibited to Baylor) and would threaten the institution’s tax exempt status.

It is partisan politics that are prohibited (e.g., how can we get Thompson elected). Areas with political overtones can be funded, otherwise universities couldn’t do research on global warming or other politically controversial areas. It is more likely the grant came with unacceptable strings such as requiring that Dembski be hired or assuming the conclusion (e.g., that Intelligent Design was correct). It could also be so mundane as the foundation wouldn’t pay the indirect costs and the university wasn’t willing to cover those costs from their own funds.

Comment #205560

Posted by Moses on September 9, 2007 12:54 PM (e)

Comment #205550
Posted by Erp on September 9, 2007 12:15 PM (e)

It is partisan politics that are prohibited (e.g., how can we get Thompson elected). Areas with political overtones can be funded, otherwise universities couldn’t do research on global warming or other politically controversial areas.

The first part is mostly true. What you offer for the second part is too narrow. You can fund this research with out overly advocating. However, once you, as the DI does, start advocating legislation, packing school boards and the what-not, you’re well down the slippery slope. Especially if these lobbying/influence efforts get beyond the “no substantial part” exception to the general rule. In short, a 501©(3) organization can engage in de minimus lobbying and politics, but that’s not the Discovery Institute (and the ID movement) which is almost completely dedicated to lobbying and politics.

And it’s from this position, I hoped to be clear that I was pointing out that beyond the “martyrdom” position taken there are reasons for Baylor to send the money back. Including Baylor not wishing to have to deal with a lobbying/impermissible activities which would include one of it’s associates (in this case Demski) engaging in overt politics with funds disbursed through the University.

Comment #205567

Posted by Matt Young on September 9, 2007 1:35 PM (e)

Regarding comment 205560, according to GuideStar, the Discovery Institute is a 501c3 corporation. Are you implying, therefore, that they may arguably be violating the law? Charity Navigator, by the way, gives them a four-star rating - their highest.

Comment #205568

Posted by Robby on September 9, 2007 1:40 PM (e)

I ask again, has anyone bothered to assess the three papers Marks has up on his website (all of which are supposedly under the peer-reviewing process now)? If these papers are scientifically addressing issues in evolutionary computation, then I would say the grant money was appropriately being spent. Does anyone actually know what Marks is claiming, and can anyone give a rebuttal? Where are the responses from Adami and Schneider? Before we say that Baylor had every right to revoke and return the grant money because 1. Marks was only politically promoting ID and 2. Marks assumed ID was true without evidence, we must first assess the scientific merits of his research. That is something that it seems Baylor did not bother to do, or anyone else for that matter. If he is doing valid research, then I agree with the strip-club funded Stanford prof that said “Whatever will provide cash flow will do.” If Stanford accepts funds from strip clubs for research, I think Baylor should accept funds from Lifeworks. According to Dembski: “Regardless, whether this was a formal or informal policy, the president of the university had signed off on a grant which listed me as a third-party beneficiary. The university had a legal obligation to honor its commitments (my attorney indicated that I could sue Baylor it didn’t). Instead, the university decided to return the money for the grant simply so that I would no longer be associated with Baylor.”

Did the university have a legal responsibility or not honor the grant? How was Dembski ‘snuck in’ if his name was listed on the grant?

Comment #205569

Posted by Art on September 9, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

A few random comments:

1. This matter should not be mistaken for a commentary, on the part of Baylor or anyone else, on the status of ID. It’s part of an ongoing spat between Baylor and Dembski, and it’s personal, not business. Basically, Baylor fired Dembski, who found a way to sneak in thru a back door. Baylor is saying, in its own peculiar way, “fired means fired!”.

Look at it this way - suppose yer in upper management and you fire a middle manager. Some time later, you find that another underling has found a way to sneak this person back into your company. Of course you’re going to fire this person (again!). You will probably also fire the underling who is tweaking his/her nose at you. Fortunately for Marks, tenure makes this an unlikely outcome as far as his status is concerned. (One must wonder, though, why Marks would insinuate himself into this grudge match. Did he not know how poisoned Dembski has left things at Baylor?)

2. The grant by Lifeworks is odd. Few institutions will accept a grant if the terms of the grant dictate who is to be hired with said funds. No university (or anyone else, for that matter) will give such control of personnel matters to outside agents. And they should not be expected to.

It would have been far more usual if Lifeworks had made the award directly to Dembski, with the stipulation that the work be done in Marks’ lab.

3. If anyone has dealt with administrators signing off on approvals for grants, then it is easy to see how Baylor could first have approved this award. If Marks did not fully disclose the terms (which seem to have dictated hiring policy) when seeking approval, then the return of the award seems OK to me (although it may not be in a court of law). If everything was on the up-and-up, and the administrator was signing one of a stack of such forms (a likely scenario), then Baylor should have just sucked things up and let the matter slide. Heck, it’s only one year and no money lost from Baylor’s coffers. Once the error was found, simple notice that Dembski would in no way be extended would suffice to once again remove Dembski from the premises. (And open yet another episode in this sad soap opera.)

4. On the plus side, Baylor seems to have a football team, no?

Comment #205571

Posted by raven on September 9, 2007 2:32 PM (e)

Did the university have a legal responsibility or not honor the grant? How was Dembski ‘snuck in’ if his name was listed on the grant?

Universities, especially private ones can do almost anything they want. It is a free country. If you want to live in a theocracy, move to Iran or Somalia.

My guess is Baylor, who had some bad memories of Demski from his previous tenure there, just didn’t want to be associated with a dubious crackpot pushing pseudoscience again. Don’t blame them.

Demski already has an appointment at Southwestern Baptist College and could have easily done his “research” there. As far as I can tell, it is just computational evolutionary studies i.e. just making up equations and numbers and running them through mathematical programs. One could just as easily do this sort of armchair, theoretical research on a beach somewhere with a laptop.

So Demski had his choice, Southwestern Baptist or a beach in a tropical location. Why Baylor? Most likely he just wants to use them for smoke and mirrors cover of respectability. And they don’t want to be part of his smoke and mirrors games.

Comment #205572

Posted by secondclass on September 9, 2007 2:40 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Of course, despite all this, Dembski’s admissions that his work so far was hardly as solid as some had led to believe is interesting, of course, will the new ‘papers’ address the many shortcomings of ID? I doubt it.

The three papers that they’ve submitted so far certainly don’t. Not even close. All they do is add a host of new fallacies to the mix.

Comment #205573

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 9, 2007 2:40 PM (e)

Robby wrote:

I ask again, has anyone bothered to assess the three papers Marks has up on his website (all of which are supposedly under the peer-reviewing process now)?

I have read one of the three papers by Dembski and Marks, Active Information in Evolutionary Search. It argues that evolutionary algorithms generate new information because it was loaded into them by the programmer. They discuss Dawkin’s METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL example in this light saying: look, the target was specified in advance. Then they concede that this example is irrelevant quoting Dawkins: “Life isn’t like that. Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distant target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection.”

Then comes the kicker:

This argument fails to distinguish two equally valid and relevant ways of understanding targets: (1) targets as humanly constructed patterns that we arbitrarily impose on things to suit our interests and (2) targets as patterns that exist independently of us and therefore regardless of our interests. In other words, targets can be extrinsic (i.e., imposed on things from outside) or intrinsic (i.e., inherent in things as such).

In other words, it doesn’t matter that there is no apparent target. We think that information cannot be generated from scratch, so it must have been pre-loaded. As supporting evidence they cite evolutionary convergence: an eye has evolved in a number of independent ways in different species, so evolution must have “known” beforehand that the eye was a target all along. And then they call it a day.

I don’t see what Marks has contributed to this. WEASEL is a straw man, so working out that example says nothing about evolutionary algorithms. So this paper rehashes Dembski’s old points and produces no evidence (mathematical or numerical) about the pre-loading of information in evolutionary algorithms. On account of that, it has no chance of passing peer review.

Comment #205576

Posted by harold on September 9, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

Raven pointed out -

Demski already has an appointment at Southwestern Baptist College and could have easily done his “research” there.

And indeed, SBC is actually one more victim of what it at best legal but unethical chicanery.

Imagine if a scientist had a faculty position at Harvard, was able to generate grants, but arranged for the grants to be paid to a friend at MIT, who would hire him as a “post-doc”! While he continued to draw a salary from Harvard!

There is no honest explanation for any of this behavior; the best any supporter has offered is desperate claims that it’s not technically illegal and a lot of irrelevant, obfuscating balhooey about “naturalism”.

Donald M. -

You didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to respond to the points that were addressed to you. I’m sure we’ll see you again, though. You’ll come back some day, pretending that this thread never happened, and offering up some obfuscation about “naturalism” and “materialism”.

Comment #205577

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on September 9, 2007 3:13 PM (e)

Oleg Tchernyshyov wrote:

I have read one of the three papers by Dembski and Marks, Active Information in Evolutionary Search. It argues that evolutionary algorithms generate new information because it was loaded into them by the programmer. They discuss Dawkin’s METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL example in this light saying: look, the target was specified in advance. Then they concede that this example is irrelevant quoting Dawkins: “Life isn’t like that. Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distant target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection.”

Ugh. I really wish Dawkins would not have used such a strawman example of EC. That’s like using a die-cast Tonka toy racecar as a model to discuss automotive engineering. I know Dawkins was trying to provide a simple example to explain incremental search, but so many people ended up taking it to be a serious example of evolution and EC.

The “EC cannot generate information, so it must have been front-loaded” argument is rather silly. Leaving aside the fact that we have no way to objectively quantify what “generate information” really means– only relative measures are really feasible in real systems– consider this analogy:

Let’s say that I am attempting to argue that work can only be done by a living being. As a counter example, you provide a car. Ahh… but someone is pushing the pedals in the car, and therefore they are inputting motive work. Motive work is being “smuggled in” by the driver…

Comment #205579

Posted by David Stanton on September 9, 2007 3:32 PM (e)

So now we know why these guys spent so much time trying to appear to have a real grant, a real lab and do real research. They simply haven’t done anything. They just wanted the appearance of respectability. Maybe they thought that would be enough to get the paper published in a reputable journal. Maybe they are tired of hearing that there are no articles supporting ID in the peer-reviewed literature.

Of course, what they forgot was that in real science ideas are judged on their merits. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what insitiution you are employed by. If you don’t do the research and gather the evidence to support your claims they will rightfully be rejected, no matter where you try to publish.

They could have avoided all the trouble by just publishing in their own “journal”. Maybe that would not give the same appearance of respectability, but at least it would not have made them look so bad once again when their dubious dealings were made public.

The actions taken by Baylor might look better if the papers are never published in a real journal. Then it will be obvious that the whole incident was just another scam to try to get the same old ideas out there once again with no more real evidence. What a shock.

The preloading argument has already been destroyed. Remember the challenge given to creationists on this site? None of them were able to meet the challenge. Even though they claimed the answer for the genetic algorithm was preloaded, they couldn’t even come up with the best answer. This paper seems to be like beating a dead horse and trying to get paid for it.

Comment #205580

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 9, 2007 3:37 PM (e)

Another of their papers, Unacknowledged Information Costs in Evolutionary Computing: A Case Study on the Evolution of Nucleotide Binding Sites, deals with Thomas Schneider’s program ev. It would be great if someone familiar with ev could read and comment on that paper.

Comment #205587

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 9, 2007 3:56 PM (e)

Looks like the Marks-Dembski site evolves. The link to the three papers (and the rest of the publications) is gone from the homepage of EvolutionaryInformatics.org. You can still find them using a direct link to Marks’ personal site: http://cayman.globat.com/~trademarksnet.com/Rese…

Comment #205589

Posted by rimpal on September 9, 2007 4:04 PM (e)

Adam,

Re intelligence as Elsberry and Shallit have pointed out in their classic takedown of Dembski’s by-now-discarded–in-the-dust-pamphlet; No Free Lunch; there is nvere working definition of intelligence. In a limited sense intelligence can be used as an empirical entity, if you apply it narrowly at a certain level; say the heat regulation in an electric iron or toaster. Anything beynd that as Dembski does is equivocation and useless. Even the much touted information that IDCs talk about is meaningless unless you specify what info you are talking about Shannon or Kolmogorov etc., And even then everything is information, we have ways to make sense of some types of information, what we can’t make sense of or have no use for, we call noise This is quite an arbitrary classification and has no clear boundary only ad hoc limits.

Comment #205592

Posted by Henry J on September 9, 2007 4:47 PM (e)

Ahh… but someone is pushing the pedals in the car, and therefore they are inputting motive work. Motive work is being “smuggled in” by the driver…

Like on the Flintstones, I guess. :)

Henry

Comment #205596

Posted by N.Wells on September 9, 2007 5:27 PM (e)

A bit more arm-chair psychologizing, with all the usual risks. Dembski has absolutely no need of a position at Baylor (nor of an office there) in order to publish. (Scientists have even been known to publish revolutionary papers from lowly jobs at patent offices in provincial cities, for example!). Even if Baylor won’t let him eat in their cafeteria, he can always drive over to Baylor, park in a visitor’s lot, pull up a chair in Marks’ office or lab, and collaborate on some work with him. The extra money may well be welcome, but it’s neither huge nor long-term, so it shouldn’t make a big difference. Being able to put Baylor on the masthead of some news releases and the like would carry some benefit in terms of public perception of ID, and Dembski is certaintly sensitive to that (see his January promise of unveiling an ID lab at a major university), but by now he is well enough known that people will seek out his work or avoid it after recognizing his name, so the “prestigious address” aspect can’t really be crucial either.

It has to boil down to ego & validation - Baylor rejected him, and he doesn’t like that. If he can finagle a connection with Baylor and can take his family to the cafeteria without his ID card triggering an exclusion*, then he can think of himself as a part of the Baylor community (notwithstanding some meanie administrators), as opposed to being its reject.

(*I’d love to think of that as a security alert, complete with alarms going off, but I doubt it.)

Comment #205614

Posted by RBH on September 9, 2007 6:58 PM (e)

Andrea wrote

What I also find interesting, by the way, is that Marks is clearly an excellent scholar in his field, with a superior track-record of funding through all sorts of governmental and private agencies. Why did he look for such a cheap shortcut for his work with Dembski, if he truly believes the work is competitive and already has several publications in the pipeline?

Reading through Marks’ apologetics page, I find that he depends pretty heavily on Gerald Schroeder, crank physicist. For an analysis of Schroeder see here for Perakh’s critique of Schroeder.

As has been noted above (Oleg? Adam?), the papers with Dembski are not (IMO) publishable. On one fast reading of all three they appear to be versions of Dembski’s already debunked work, just given a new coat of paint due to Marks’ name.

Comment #205633

Posted by Matt Young on September 9, 2007 8:28 PM (e)

I also tackled Schroeder, as well as Hugh Ross, here: “The Bible as a Science Text,” http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung/BkRevs.htm. The second and third reviews pertain to Schroeder’s works.

Comment #205637

Posted by PvM on September 9, 2007 9:02 PM (e)

The only “mischief” here was done by the Baylor administration…again! First Dembski, then Beckwith and now Marks. Baylor continues to give itself black eyes.

Dembski caused his own downfall with his now infamous Waterloo email, Marks caused negative publicity for Baylor by getting involved in evolutionary information, calling it a lab and inviting Dembski, to return to Baylor. Surely you can understand that Baylor has some interest in maintaining its reputation here?

Comment #205639

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 9, 2007 9:18 PM (e)

Surely you can understand that Baylor has some interest in maintaining its reputation here?

uh, this is DONALD we’re talking about here, Pim. what on earth makes you think he would have the slightest chance of even wanting to understand?

Comment #205645

Posted by Erp on September 9, 2007 9:42 PM (e)

moses wrote:

The first part is mostly true. What you offer for the second part is too narrow. You can fund this research with out overly advocating. However, once you, as the DI does, start advocating legislation, packing school boards and the what-not, you’re well down the slippery slope. Especially if these lobbying/influence efforts get beyond the “no substantial part” exception to the general rule. In short, a 501©(3) organization can engage in de minimus lobbying and politics, but that’s not the Discovery Institute (and the ID movement) which is almost completely dedicated to lobbying and politics.

And it’s from this position, I hoped to be clear that I was pointing out that beyond the “martyrdom” position taken there are reasons for Baylor to send the money back. Including Baylor not wishing to have to deal with a lobbying/impermissible activities which would include one of it’s associates (in this case Demski) engaging in overt politics with funds disbursed through the University.

There is no rule saying an university employee can’t engage in politics (Stanford certainly has plenty that do including one who was on unpaid leave of absence for several years while being a congress critter). What is forbidden is to use university resources to do so or to imply that the university endorses you. Also universities can lobby on issues that directly concern them (e.g., rules on research funding or laws dealing with visas for foreign students) though the costs for that need to be kept strictly separate so as to ensure that the government isn’t indirectly paying for that through research funding. Similarly the DI can lobby but they cannot endorse political candidates. Plenty of entities (think for profit companies) fund research on one hand and engage in politics with another. I also assume the money was earmarked for ‘research’ not lobbying.

Baylor had it reasons for refusing the money even if we don’t know them but it might not be because of tax or legal issues but simply because they want nothing to do with Dembski anymore.

BTW the Stanford professor who had bought some strip clubs to fund his research quickly sold them after the university became aware.

Comment #205686

Posted by Marek 14 on September 10, 2007 1:20 AM (e)

I wanted to respond to hoary puccoon:

“So basically we’re being told that the Dark Ages were really great times because look at all those gorgeous cathedrals they built and selfdom, the black death, and burning heretics at the stake were a small price to pay. Right. Got it.”

I don’t think this is true. Black death, yes, that might be price, but serfdom and burning heretics at the stake? Why, wouldn’t those be bonuses? I mean, if these people would take control, sure, they might oppose black death, but I think they would gladly introduce burning heretics at the stake, as a great, clean family fun and barbeque. They would sell souvenirs. They might even do press conference beforehand where they would explain that burning a man (or a woman) alive is for their own good.

I can see it now… “I have seen [John Smith] burned alive, and all *I* got was this lousy T-shirt]…

As for serfdom, I guess that’s a toss-up. They might do it, if they thought it would be sufficiently unpopular.

Comment #205687

Posted by Bobby on September 10, 2007 1:21 AM (e)

MN is an arbitrary constraint upon scientific practice that supposedly protects science from some ill-defined possibility of deviating into the supernatural or metaphysics.

Would you like to entertain supernatural claims in the courtroom as well? E.g., if the police find a car wreck with a dead body inside, should they put you on trial if someone claims that you shot the person and used supernatural powers to make it look like a car wreck?

Comment #205700

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 10, 2007 2:24 AM (e)

Marek 14–
Lol!
You’re so right. Serfdom and burning heretics would go in the plus column. Unfortunately, if we to put limits on scientific research any time it interferes with someone’s comfortable notions of the supernatural, the inevitable result will be a lot of deaths from potentially curable diseases. Apparently the IDers think that’s a small price to pay.

Comment #205734

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 4:47 AM (e)

but I think they would gladly introduce burning heretics at the stake, as a great, clean family fun and barbeque.

now, now, are you calculating your contribution to global warming when thinking of burning heretics at the stake?

We must all be responsible for monitoring our carbon output more closely. big bonfires like those typically involved with burning heretics might not be such a good thing to encourage… at least in any significant amount.

maybe an annual event?

Comment #205752

Posted by GSLamb on September 10, 2007 6:47 AM (e)

Actually, it would be the fault of the one burning, wouldn’t it.

Comment #205811

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on September 10, 2007 10:57 AM (e)

Robby wrote:

If these papers are scientifically addressing issues in evolutionary computation, then I would say the grant money was appropriately being spent. Does anyone actually know what Marks is claiming, and can anyone give a rebuttal?

In July there was a small attempt of analysis on a Good Math, Bad Math thread. Commenter secondclass made the best analysis. He noted, as here, that they don’t support their claim that biological evolution differs from other natural processes and must have preloaded information.

He also notes that they claim say that a reduction of the search space constitutes “active information”. But an absolute measure of reduction is impossible since every finite search space is an infinite reduction from an infinite search space. That they really use a relative measure (against random choice) is also noted here.

Finally, I note that Robert Marks has not worked with evolutionary algorithms (EA), or even general search algorithms outside possibly training neural networks which is a large part of his earlier work. The closest I can find to EA is a recent paper on collective swarm agents.

Oleg Tchernyshyov wrote:

Another of their papers, Unacknowledged Information Costs in Evolutionary Computing: A Case Study on the Evolution of Nucleotide Binding Sites, deals with Thomas Schneider’s program ev. It would be great if someone familiar with ev could read and comment on that paper.

IANAB, nor am I especially familiar with ev. But FWIW my analysis was:

Torbjörn Larsson wrote:

I looked at the “ev” program example, and I couldn’t find any problems with misinterpreting the information observed to be gained from selection. OTOH I am not confident that Dembski’s and Mark’s handwaving (though laboriously compiled) numbers really capture what they claim, see details below. And the complaint about the “ev” perceptron being a constraint is of course in any case besides the point here since the genetic machinery it models evolved previously.

And I would look more at the detail. The ev researcher discussed the narrow window he saw for simulating independent variation. While D&M has a graph that seems to go outside the recommended window and then complain about non-gaussian behavior.

I am also confused about if they really looked at the redundancy in the genetic code. I don’t think they did, because it allows them to turn around and complain that random searches can easily find several solutions too. (In which case the evolutionary biologist can applaud and note that the creationist Dembski doesn’t say any longer that protein site development is strictly impossible.) [Language corrected, bold added.]

It is ironic that they “frontloaded” their analysis with earlier evolved genetic machinery. :-)

Comment #205813

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on September 10, 2007 11:02 AM (e)

To the heap of Corrected Mistakes in Minor Details That Shouldn’t Have Been Mentioned Anyway, add June instead of July.

Comment #205824

Posted by Marek 14 on September 10, 2007 12:04 PM (e)

Well, if you burn heretics at stake, then why would you be afraid of global warming? After all, wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if it was warmer? In case any natural disaster strucks, it is apparently punishment for failing to find and burn some heretics.

And if the world will fall apart, well, then, it was meant to do that from the beginning, wasn’t it? It can’t be THEIR fault!

Comment #205834

Posted by Donald M on September 10, 2007 12:27 PM (e)

Andrea

BTW, your arguments on methodological materialism make no sense, as others have already pointed out. To realize this, just take any purportedly supernatural phenomenon you wish, say Jesus turning water into wine, or the Hindu milk-drinking statues - whatever, you choose. Now, tell us how you will practically test the hypothesis that that phenomenon is supernatural. One experiment or more, just tell us. But remember, you have to test the supernatural explanation, not alternative naturalistic hypotheses, because that’s what methodological naturalism does. Go ahead.

I guess it comes down to what you think the proper definition of science is…which is in itself a matter of much dispute among philosophers of science, there being no widely agreed upon definition as even a cursory review of the Phil of Sci lit will demonstrate.

Directly to your point here, I invite you to consider the thoughts of Philosopher of Science,Del Ratzch, author of the very intriguing Nature, Design, and Science (2003, State University of New York Press):

If there is a supernatural being whose purposes, decisions, and actions are involved in the existence, governance or structure of physical reality, then any stipulated blanket prohibitions against non-naturalistic explanatory resources runs the serious risk of producing an inescapably skewed picture of physical reality. That is not, of course, to say that if the supernatural does play a role, that if we dropped any naturalistic restrictions that we would automatically be able to construct the correct theory. But the alternative route (under the conditions postulated) would guarantee that we would not.

Unless we know a priori that no supernatural being of any sort played any role whatsoever, then the risk that Ratzsch mentions here is real. So what does that mean for MN? Ratzsch again:

If (perhaps for overwhelmingly good reasons) science is restricted (even just methodologically) to ‘natural’ explanatory and theoretical resources, then if there is a supernatural realm which does impinge upon the structure and/or operation of the ‘natural’ realm, then the world-picture generated by even the best science will unavoidably be either incomplete or else wrong on some points. Unless one assumes philosophical naturalism (that the natural constitutes the whole of reality) that will be the inescapable upshot of taking even mere methodological naturalism as an essential component of scientific procedure.

But even seemingly more innocuous assumptions can lead in similar directions. First, if one restricts science to the natural, and assumes that science can in principle get to all truth, then one has implicitly assumed philosophical naturalism. But second, consider what happens if one stipulates methodological naturalism as essential to science, then this does not assume that science can in principle get to all truth, but merely that science is competent for all physical matters, or that what science does (properly conducted, and in the long run) generate concerning the physical realm will, in principle, be truth. Again, if the truth of the specific matter in question is non-natural, and if science is restricted to natural conceptual resources, even the most excruciatingly proper naturalistic scientific deliverances on that matter may be wide of the mark. Indeed, they will typically be mistaken in exactly the way a science built on philosophical naturalism would be. [2] For practical purposes, that comes close to importing philosophical naturalism into the inner structure of science.

(From “Design Theory and Its Critics: Monologues Passing in the Night” http://www.arsdisputandi.org/ )

I think Ratzsch is dead on here. Without the a priori knowledge that no supernatural being of any sort played any part whatsoever in the design, structure or creation of the cosmos or anything in it, MN is what makes no sense and there is little justification for it other serving as a restrictive stipulation designed to keep certain considerations off the scientific table.

The mistake that is made here, and is not a trivial one, is that scientific truth, that is to say truth obtained through the methods of science under the strictures of MN, also equates to real truth, meaning the truth of the way things really are. That only works if we already know that philosophical naturalism is true. Absent that knowledge, there’s no prinicpled way to make the claim, and thus MN loses a lot of its luster, no matter how appealing it might seem.

Comment #205844

Posted by Kit on September 10, 2007 1:23 PM (e)

Donald M, please answer Andrea’s question, using your own definition of “Science” if necessary. You don’t even have to use MN.

The other stuff that you wrote in your last post evades Andrea’s question.

Here it is:

BTW, your arguments on methodological materialism make no sense, as others have already pointed out. To realize this, just take any purportedly supernatural phenomenon you wish, say Jesus turning water into wine, or the Hindu milk-drinking statues - whatever, you choose. Now, tell us how you will practically test the hypothesis that that phenomenon is supernatural. One experiment or more, just tell us. But remember, you have to test the supernatural explanation, not alternative naturalistic hypotheses, because that’s what methodological naturalism does. Go ahead.

Comment #205845

Posted by raven on September 10, 2007 1:25 PM (e)

Leader in the Voice for Intelligent Design
Profile of Dr. Del Ratzch,
1996 Mere Creation conference speaker

Who: Dr. Del Ratzsch
Where: Calvin College
What: Philosophy of Science with research in scientific rationality

How does the concept of intelligent design relate to your work?
I am particularly interested in how broader principles/concerns and worldview issues function in science, and criteria for determining the legitimacy of such functioning. I am currently working on a book-length exploration of some issues linked to the extent to which and the forms in which design theory can provide scientifically legitimate explanatory resources for genuinely scientific theorizing.

What opportunities or opposition has your interest in intelligent design presented?
There have been lively debates and competition of ideas where the agenda is to get at what’s true, and uncover what is mistaken, evidentially weak, unsupported, or off the wall; these are some of the best ways ever discovered for exposing soft spots in arguments and positions. In fact, for that reason I am hoping that there will be subsequent conferences on design theory where there will be genuine hard-nosed (but loving, of course) give and take on relevant issues.

Your Del Ratzch is hardly a neutral source on science. He is in fact, an intelligent design advocate, a creationist.

Trying to conflate methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism is a common and disreputable tactic of fundies. It reduces down to the equation science=atheism. This is a lie Never fails, fundies always lie.

Science in general and methodological naturalism has no such strictures or prohibitions on studying the supernatural. Most scientists have never even heard of M. naturalism.

We tend to ignore the supernatural for several reasons.
1. There is no obvious way to study it. If scientists could, they would. Most of science on a daily basis gets boring after a while. Being able to announce definitive proof that god exists, ghosts exist, witchcraft works, or souls are reincarnated would be a sure ticket to invitations to conferences for years to come.

2. There isn’t any need to invoke supernatural explanations. Occam’s razor says not to multiply causes unnecessarily.

3. Invoking supernatural explanations that aren’t needed, that have no evidence, that have no proof has been a dead end. It doesn’t lead anywhere, no testable predictions, no data. They, ID, have had 150 years to come up with something and nothing is the result.

The current version is just bafflegab, not even convincing as pseudoscience. They don’t even have good formal definitions for such things as information, design, or complexity or any way to measure them. The heart of the theory is the Intelligent Designer itself. They refuse to talk about the central feature of their “theory”. Sorry, a theory with a giant hole at the center is a donut, not a subject ready for prime time.

Besides given the affiliations of the IDists, we all know their designer is named Jehovah. We also know that their real goal is to overthrow the US government and set up a theocracy. They said so, right in their Wedge document. Why bother to take them seriously, when they aren’t serious themselves?

Comment #205853

Posted by jasonmitchell on September 10, 2007 2:00 PM (e)

Donald quoted a philosopher thusly:
“ First, if one restricts science to the natural, and assumes that science can in principle get to all truth, then one has implicitly assumed philosophical naturalism”

The 1st statement (that science is restricted to the natural) is in accordance with the definition of science generally accepted by the scientists, the NSF, the general public, and the courts.

the 2nd statement (and the crux or the argument) that science can get in principal to ALL TRUTH (emphasis mine) is a canard. That assumption is the basis of separating methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism (or materialism). Science, and scientists, have NOT made this claim- that science can answer ALL questions.

Questions of morality, ethics, social justice, good vs. evil, and a number of other topics are not easily addressable by the scientific method - you CAN apply logic and reason to these questions but part or the argument’s starting point is a value assessment or the definitions of “right” and “wrong” etc (AKA beyond science)

The bottom line for fundies is that they believe that science/reason= atheism = moral bankruptcy
(whereas ONLY Revelation/religion/authority = truth)
in my opinion this is the conclusion of small-mindedness and an unexamined existence.

Comment #205860

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 10, 2007 2:10 PM (e)

The mistake that is made here, and is not a trivial one, is that scientific truth, that is to say truth obtained through the methods of science under the strictures of MN, also equates to real truth, meaning the truth of the way things really are.

Who makes that mistake? Certainly not scientists, who are the first to admit that all scientific knowledge is tentative and provisional, that is, even explanations that we think we have fully reached may ultimately be all wrong (let alone explanations that are still incomplete!). On the other hand, science seems to work as a method to reliably gather information about the world because such information has been consistently demonstrated to be practically useful. That’s all you can ask of science, and all it claims to do.

Indeed, as you must have noticed since you failed to address the “challenge” I posed in a previous comment, there is really no other way to do science than to adopt MN.

With all due respect for Del Ratzsch, all the hand-wringing about MN and PN in science sounds at best like navel-gazing, and most often is just cheap propaganda by people with obvious religious and anti-scientific agendas. The best demonstration of this is that there are thousands of excellent scientists out there who accept the supernatural in their metaphysical belief systems, and not a single one of them has found a way to scientifically address the supernatural. Even people who investigate purportedly supernatural phenomena (intercessory prayer and healing, ghosts, various miracles, etc) ultimately study the natural, physical manifestations of those phenomena, and test potential naturalistic hypotheses for their occurrence.

Heck, you can even ask scientists on the other side of the evolution-creationism divide: Behe may openly bemoan the “materialistic prejudice” of science, and swoon at the “breadth of freedom available to a Christian interpreting the physical evidence of nature” when talking to YECs, but when you ask him how to test ID, the best he can come up with is to grow bacteria in large vats of broth and wait for evolution to happen.

Comment #205881

Posted by Laser on September 10, 2007 3:12 PM (e)

Thank you, raven, for pointing out that Del Ratzch is in fact an ID proponent, an important point that Donald M conveniently left out of his post. Trying to pass Ratzch off as a neutral observer, Donald?

Comment #205887

Posted by David Stanton on September 10, 2007 3:39 PM (e)

I think Ratzsch is dead wrong here. Without the evidence that a supernatural being of any sort played any part whatsoever in the design, structure or creation of the cosmos or anything in it, MN is what makes the most sense and there is little justification for ignoring it. The only reason to consider supernatural causes is an unwarranted stipulation designed to make certain considerations appear to be on the scientific table.

There, all fixed now.

Comment #205888

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 3:40 PM (e)

Actually, it would be the fault of the one burning, wouldn’t it.

blame it on the victim?

I like it.

:p

Comment #205963

Posted by Oleg Tchernyshyov on September 10, 2007 7:26 PM (e)

At UD, Dembski reaffirms once again that ID is not about religion:

what happens with the [Evolutionary Informatics Lab] will serve as a test case for what is likely to be Baylor’s Christian future.

Comment #205966

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 7:33 PM (e)

next he’ll be telling his few supporters that whatever happens to him personally is what will happen to christianity…

the ego of the man is astounding.

Comment #205976

Posted by Thomas Aquinas on September 10, 2007 8:43 PM (e)

As a matter of fact, Del Ratzsch is not an ID proponent, unless you mean that anyone who eschews believes that knowledge is not limited to the empirical is an ID proponent. In that case, any theist who thinks she has good reason to have non-empirical knowledge is an ID advocate. Such a theory, pardon the irony, has no explanatory value.

Ratzsch, you may not know, is critical of Dembski’s explanatory filter, as are some philosophers and scientists who believe the way you answer arguments is with counter-arguments rather than empty and inconsistent mantras: “ID is not falsifiable and it’s been falsified,” “Darwinism can be falsified, but as a matter of fact there’s always a hand-dandy ad hoc hypothesis to account for anomalies.” The appendix to Ratzsch’s book contains a nice example of a false positive to Dembski’s filter. Now, here’s a guy that can help your cause, Pandabaters, and you dis the guy. Read a book that stretches your mind, for God’s sake.

My own view is theistic evolution, but not the namby-pamby Ken-Miller-Darwin’s-prison-bitch-sort-of-theistic evolution. It’s more of the Francis Collins variety.

Comment #205978

Posted by Donald M on September 10, 2007 8:51 PM (e)

Laser

Thank you, raven, for pointing out that Del Ratzch is in fact an ID proponent, an important point that Donald M conveniently left out of his post. Trying to pass Ratzch off as a neutral observer, Donald?

Ratzsch has been known to take both IDP’s and Darwinists to task for presenting less than sound arguments. His book Nature, Design and Science has been well received by all sides. And note that the book was published by that well-known bastion of pro-ID science: The State University of New York Press (why the list of pro-ID and creationist works published by them is positively scandalous!). Anyone who thinks that Ratzsch is straightforwardly pro-ID hasn’t read a thing he’s written. He’s not. He may be one of the few truly neutral observers in the entire discussion.

jasonmitchell writes:

the 2nd statement (and the crux or the argument) that science can get in principal to ALL TRUTH (emphasis mine) is a canard. That assumption is the basis of separating methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism (or materialism). Science, and scientists, have NOT made this claim- that science can answer ALL questions.

Questions of morality, ethics, social justice, good vs. evil, and a number of other topics are not easily addressable by the scientific method - you CAN apply logic and reason to these questions but part or the argument’s starting point is a value assessment or the definitions of “right” and “wrong” etc (AKA beyond science)

The bottom line for fundies is that they believe that science/reason= atheism = moral bankruptcy
(whereas ONLY Revelation/religion/authority = truth)
in my opinion this is the conclusion of small-mindedness and an unexamined existence.

Reconsider what Ratzsch wrote:

But second, consider what happens if one stipulates methodological naturalism as essential to science, then this does not assume that science can in principle get to all truth, but merely that science is competent for all physical matters, or that what science does (properly conducted, and in the long run) generate concerning the physical realm will, in principle, be truth. Again, if the truth of the specific matter in question is non-natural, and if science is restricted to natural conceptual resources, even the most excruciatingly proper naturalistic scientific deliverances on that matter may be wide of the mark. Indeed, they will typically be mistaken in exactly the way a science built on philosophical naturalism would be. [2] For practical purposes, that comes close to importing philosophical naturalism into the inner structure of science.

This completely answers the concern you raised. Even if we assume that science can’t get to all truth, which is what you claim is the case since you labeled the opposite a “canard”, then as Ratzsch correctly points out, if the truth of the matter under investigation is, in reality, non-natural, then “even the most excruciatingly proper naturalistic scientific deliverances on that matter may be wide of the mark.”

The “canard” is the claim that given two explanations for some observed phenomenon, one natural and one not, we must a)choose between them as if they were compeitors and b)give preference to the natural explanation, even if that really isn’t the truth of the matter. What is the basis for that competition and that preference? Whatever it is, it sure isn’t science, but someone’s philosophical preference. Unless, of course, someone could tell me how it has been established scientifically (not philosophically, metaphysically or theologically) that the properties of the cosmos are such that no supernatural being of any sort ever has, or ever will be able to take any actions that have empirical consequences in nature, even in principle.
I’d very much like to read the study that confirms this hypothesis in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Who conducted ths study? Under what conditions? How might it be falsified? This is precisely the argument that Dawkins tries to lay out in The God Delusion when he said that a “universe superintended by a diety would look very different from that isn’t”. Of course, not even Dawkins cited a single scientific study to back up that claim. (if he knows of such a study, I’d love to see it) Even he knows it is little more than metaphysical speculation on his part. Unless and until we know a priori that naturalism (or something like it) is true, then MN is guaranteed to blind science to what may in fact be the truth of a particular matter under investigation. MN=PN and there’s no getting around it.

Comment #205979

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 8:56 PM (e)

It’s more of the Francis Collins variety

oh?

do tell us where the seat of morals exists then.

I assume, then, that you’re a special creationist?

Comment #205982

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 9:06 PM (e)

Again, if the truth of the specific matter in question is non-natural, and if science is restricted to natural conceptual resources, even the most excruciatingly proper naturalistic scientific deliverances on that matter may be wide of the mark.

the fundamental problem posed to you endlessly, donald, regardless of what you think Ratzch is saying here, is that the scientific method has a well-proven track record of success wrt to both explanatory and predictive power.

if you want to postulate there is another, successful, method to explain observations and make workable predictions, then all you need to do is prove it.

thousands of years your ilk has had to prove that religion is a way to “truth”, and what have you to show for it?

nada.

basically, this entire argument boils down to what the vast majority of scientists have always said:

science doesn’t preclude the supernatural, it just hasn’t found it in any way necessary to explain what we see, and make accurate predictions. If you want to postulate supernatural or alien intervention as causative, you have to show not only how it better explains the observed data, but how it makes positive, testable predictions. even the first part has never occured, let alone the second. I’m with those pragmatists who feel it never will, since it never has.

It’s really that simple. It’s unfortunate that the issue is completely overthought by the likes of Collins and Ratzch, (and many philosophers previous) and not in the least surprising you are incapable of seeing just how simple it really is yourself.

I mean, it’s not like this basic idea has never been related to you on many previous occasions in this very forum.

you have such a short memory.

Comment #205983

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 9:09 PM (e)

“even the most excruciatingly proper naturalistic scientific deliverances on that matter may be wide of the mark.”

science is inherently self-correcting.

if evolutionary theory, for example, was “wide of the mark”, it would have been abandoned long ago.

again, quite a simple issue, that you and others like you refuse to see.

Comment #205985

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 9:18 PM (e)

we must a)choose between them as if they were compeitors

and if they are mutually contradictory?

what then, oh wizard?

Comment #205988

Posted by Donald M on September 10, 2007 9:28 PM (e)

Andrea

With all due respect for Del Ratzsch, all the hand-wringing about MN and PN in science sounds at best like navel-gazing, and most often is just cheap propaganda by people with obvious religious and anti-scientific agendas. The best demonstration of this is that there are thousands of excellent scientists out there who accept the supernatural in their metaphysical belief systems, and not a single one of them has found a way to scientifically address the supernatural. Even people who investigate purportedly supernatural phenomena (intercessory prayer and healing, ghosts, various miracles, etc) ultimately study the natural, physical manifestations of those phenomena, and test potential naturalistic hypotheses for their occurrence.

With all due respect, Andrea, the critique of MN does not translate to believing that the supernatural is subject to empirical investigation directly. However, critics of MN, such as myself, also don’t automatically assume that a)there are no supernatural entities or b)if there are, no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature. MN as applied (and as defended here by you and others) makes one or both of these assumptions – and it might very well be the case that neither is true. And if that is the case, then MN will blind science to the real explanation of a given matter under investigation.

Dismissing this important distinction as “navel gazing” doesn’t make the problem go away. Its a real problem. Not everyone thinks we ought to just take science’s word for something, especially when science is dealing with the big questions such as who we are and where we came from. Claims such as “there’s nothing special about us” or “we’re just the ‘third ape’ (as the title of one book proudly proclaimed) aren’t magically made true by the arbitrary enforcement of MN. If, as the vast majority of humans on planet earth suspect is the case, there really is a supernatural entity called God and he really did play a significant role in bringing about the existence of the cosmos and everything in it, including life on planet earth, and that that really is the truth of the matter, then scientific claims to the contrary, no matter how strictly they adhere to MN, have simply missed the mark on these matters.

Granted, science is a human endeavor, and humans are free to construct whatever restrictions and stipulations they wish on certain endeavors including science. But what no one is free to do is to erect a science based on the stipulation of MN, then claim that whatever is discovered or explained under that stipulation represents truth, reality, the way things really are or is self-correcting or anything of the sort. But that is precisely what many here seem to want to claim.
Unless there’s an irrefutable argument lurking out there somewhere that conclusively confirms that naturalism (or something like it) is true, then I see no justification for unwavering adherence to MN, especially as applied to sciences that seek to answer the big questions.

Comment #205991

Posted by Donald M on September 10, 2007 9:35 PM (e)

Sir Toejam

science is inherently self-correcting.

if evolutionary theory, for example, was “wide of the mark”, it would have been abandoned long ago.

No it wouldn’t, because if one is a philosophical naturalist (or outright atheist) as many evolutionary biologists and defenders of evolution are by their own admission, then evolution, or something like it, is the only game in town. Dawkins, you might recall, once famously wrote that even if there were no evidence for it, “evolution would still be the best available theory.” That doesn’t sound very “self’correcting” to me. Even in the absence of evidence, Dawkins would adhere to evolution, or something very much like it. There’s no way to abandon it, if you’re committed to PN.

Comment #205995

Posted by Donald M on September 10, 2007 9:45 PM (e)

Thomas Aquinas

As a matter of fact, Del Ratzsch is not an ID proponent, unless you mean that anyone who eschews believes that knowledge is not limited to the empirical is an ID proponent. In that case, any theist who thinks she has good reason to have non-empirical knowledge is an ID advocate. Such a theory, pardon the irony, has no explanatory value.

Ratzsch, you may not know, is critical of Dembski’s explanatory filter, as are some philosophers and scientists who believe the way you answer arguments is with counter-arguments rather than empty and inconsistent mantras: “ID is not falsifiable and it’s been falsified,” “Darwinism can be falsified, but as a matter of fact there’s always a hand-dandy ad hoc hypothesis to account for anomalies.” The appendix to Ratzsch’s book contains a nice example of a false positive to Dembski’s filter. Now, here’s a guy that can help your cause, Pandabaters, and you dis the guy. Read a book that stretches your mind, for God’s sake.

Yes, you are exactly correct about Ratzsch.

Comment #205999

Posted by Henry J on September 10, 2007 10:05 PM (e)

Re “ID is not falsifiable and it’s been falsified,”

The two parts there refer to different “definitions” of “ID”. The rather vague definitions sometimes given for “ID” aren’t falsifiable. Specific claims sometimes given by ID pushers might be. (I don’t know of any that both (1) predict something different from current science and manage to avoid conflict with evidence.)

Re ““Darwinism can be falsified, but as a matter of fact there’s always a hand-dandy ad hoc hypothesis to account for anomalies.”

Small anomalies can be attributed to lack of complete data. Large ones, or a really large number of small ones that form a pattern not consistent with evolution, would be a problem.

Re “Science, and scientists, have NOT made this claim- that science can answer ALL questions.”

Course not. Science depends on detecting consistent verifiable patterns in observations and/or measurements, and inferences of general principles from those patterns. That excludes things for which such patterns can’t be found among currently measurable phenomena. It also excludes deciding preferences or priorities (e.g. morals, aesthetics, etc.), since those depend on motivations.

I wish people wouldn’t use the natural/supernatural distinction so much. Whether something is traditionally thought of as supernatural is not what keeps it from being studied scientifically. If relevant reliable data about a phenomena can be collected, it can be studied; otherwise not.

Henry

Comment #206010

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 10, 2007 10:40 PM (e)

With alll due respect, Andrea, the critique of MN does not translate to believing that the supernatural is subject to empirical investigation directly.

Then explain in what it consists. Giving a pass to untestable, unfalsifiable explanations, just in case? And who is to decide which one of the infinite untestable, unfalsifiable explanations for any phenomenon is the right one, or ought to be considered? Is the Flying Spaghetti Monster really an “explanation” on the same footing as the Abrahamic God? Why not?

However, critics of MN, such as myself, also don’t automatically assume that a)there are no supernatural entities or b)if there are, no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature. MN as applied (and as defended here by you and others) makes one or both of these assumptions – and it might very well be the case that neither is true. And if that is the case, then MN will blind science to the real explanation of a given matter under investigation.

That’s nonsense. MN makes no assumption as to the existence of supernatural entities, nor assume that if they existed, they would have no empirical consequences in nature. Proof of the pudding is, people use MN to study intercessory prayer, ghosts, dogs with psychic powers, etc. All the time.

If the real explanation of a phenomenon were to be supernatural, quite simply science would not be able to provide good explanations for it, and we’d know those explanations are wrong because they would have no predictive value with respect to observations of similar phenomena. In those instances, people who like to do science would go on and test other testable explanations (perforce naturalistic) and keep looking, while people who find metaphysical explanations satisfactory, would explain them as supernatural and be done with it.

Dismissing this important distinction as “navel gazing” doesn’t make the problem go away. Its a real problem. Not everyone thinks we ought to just take science’s word for something, especially when science is dealing with the big questions such as who we are and where we came from. Claims such as “there’s nothing special about us” or “we’re just the ‘third ape’ (as the title of one book proudly proclaimed) aren’t magically made true by the arbitrary enforcement of MN.

“There’s nothing special about us” is of course not a scientific statement. “We have no detectable faculties or features that do not already exist, in some form, in other organisms” is, and it’s a perfectly fair one. As is that we are apes, from a purely systematic point of view.

As far as having to “take science’s word” for anything, no one is forced to. Our society happens to put a certain level of trust in scientific knowledge, because of its reasonably good track record of reliability and usefulness, and less trust, in practice if not in words, in metaphysics, because most people know that if they are sick an average doctor beats the best of shamans. Other societies, in the past and somewhat less so in the present, put a lot of stock in metaphysical explanations provided by their high priests and such.

Anyone who doesn’t like the respect science gets, is perfectly free to reject scientific knowledge on an individual basis (as some do). But to argue that the credibility of MN-based science in society should be extended by default to other “forms of knowledge” to avoid some perceived discrimination is patently ridiculous. Let other forms of knowledge build their own track record of reliability and usefulness, and society will respect them.

Comment #206016

Posted by Henry J on September 10, 2007 10:55 PM (e)

Dawkins, you might recall, once famously wrote that even if there were no evidence for it, “evolution would still be the best available theory.” That doesn’t sound very “self’correcting” to me. Even in the absence of evidence, Dawkins would adhere to evolution, or something very much like it. There’s no way to abandon it, if you’re committed to PN.

Dawkins is just one person. If he made scientific claims that weren’t backed by evidence, other scientists would point that out.

Otoh, I’m not sure what the point is of speculating what would happen in the absence of the evidence that’s been accumulating for a century and a half.

Henry

Comment #206019

Posted by raven on September 10, 2007 11:06 PM (e)

Amazon.com Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science (Suny Series in Philosophy and Biology) (Paperback)
by Delvin Lee Ratzsch (Author), Del Ratzsch (Author)

Book Description
Explores the question of whether or not concepts and principles involving supernatural intelligent design can occupy any legitimate place within science.

From the Back Cover
Although the scientific illegitimacy of supernatural design is typically asserted with enormous confidence and vigor, there has been surprisingly little actual work on such key foundational issues as even what design is and on specific criteria for assessing its legitimacy, or lack, as a scientific concept. However, intelligent supernatural design is again surfacing in discussions both of anthropic principles and of certain types of biological complexity. This book develops a definition of design, explicates the more specific concept of supernatural design, defends a general criterion for scientific legitimacy, and argues that in some cases the concept of intelligent supernatural design can meet the relevant requirements for scientific legitimacy.

Leader in the Voice for Intelligent Design
Profile of Dr. Del Ratzch,
1996 Mere Creation conference speaker

Who: Dr. Del Ratzsch
Where: Calvin College

Ratzch certainly sounds like some sort of ID advocate. He is characterized as a “Leader in the Voice for Intelligent Design” in a advert for a conference. Presumably he doesn’t object to that description since it is advertising his lecture.

He also says, “the concept of intelligent supernatural design can meet the relevant requirements for scientific legitimacy.” Hmmmm, saying something doesn’t make it true. Has he done so? Has anyone done so? NO!!!

After 150 years of this stuff with nothing to show for it, pardon us for being skeptical. Prove it or cut bait.

Comment #206029

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 11:38 PM (e)

No it wouldn’t, because if one is a philosophical naturalist (or outright atheist) as many evolutionary biologists and defenders of evolution are by their own admission,

there you go again, assuming you have the slightest clue how science works.

go study the history of any other extant major theory sometime, and tell me how “philosophical materialism” has managed to maintain its presence within the scientific literature, as opposed to rigorous testing by thousands (or tens of thousands) not being able to reject it.

seriously.

go on and do that sometime.

maybe then you’ll see how much tunnel vision you have wrt to how the science works on THIS theory, and realize that your idea of the application of philosophy to the scientific method is entirely bupkuss.

every grad student studying evolutionary biology DREAMS of finding a flaw in theory or mechanism to pound on to make a name for themselves.

you would have it exactly the opposite of reality, that everyone is marching in lockstep, when it’s more like a pack of wolves, weaning out the weak theories. This is entirely expected given that every creationist I’ve EVER encountered projects from their own history of indoctrination and automatically assumes that this is the way things work in the realm of academia, too.

I realize you are mentally incapable of actually seeing how much you project, quacky, but seriously, it never does fail to impress.

Comment #206031

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 11:40 PM (e)

Its a real problem.

actually, if you’d pull your head out of your ass for just a day or so, you might see that no, it in fact is not a problem at all.

no chance of that though, eh?

Comment #206037

Posted by raven on September 10, 2007 11:53 PM (e)

With all due respect, Andrea, the critique of MN does not translate to believing that the supernatural is subject to empirical investigation directly. However, critics of MN, such as myself, also don’t automatically assume that

a)there are no supernatural entities or

b)if there are, no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature.

MN as applied (and as defended here by you and others) makes one or both of these assumptions – and it might very well be the case that neither is true. And if that is the case, then MN will blind science to the real explanation of a given matter under investigation.

DonaldM you are fooling yourself. Many scientists are religious or spiritual including some justly famous evolutionary biologists, Collins, Conway Morris, Ken Miller, etc.. Scientists are of all faiths and none, a cross section of the population. If you think all scientists are atheists, you are a bigot and a fool. They are not and there is a lot of data on this readily available. So some certainly believe in supernatural entitites. That is your A.

B. no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature. Nonsense. Methodological naturalism doesn’t rule this out whatsoever. The big question which no one has answered yet, is why is there even a universe. Containing us, sentient bipeds.

It is not enough to theorize about supernatural beings or the possibility that they left tracks behind them that even humans can detect. There needs to be some proof, data, evidence. Armchair speculation and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee at starbucks.

ID is a theory we don’t need to fill in gaps, there is zero evidence for it, and zero proof. The few advocates for it are dubious characters who have produced a mountain of lies, half truths, and bafflegab. After 150 years, no one but a few Xian and Moslem religious fanatics cares.

And why do you or any other Xians care anyway. If your faith requires scientific proof, it isn’t much of a faith.

Comment #206040

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 11:55 PM (e)

evolution, or something like it, is the only game in town.

again, nobody has ever been stopping any of you IDiots from producing a testable theory that explains the extant observable data better, and makes testable, correct predictions.

funny thing though, it’s NEVER HAPPENED.

who’s standing on your neck, Quacky?

me?

Andrea?

nope.

Dembski’s explanatory filter is unworkable. Who’s fault is that?

ours?

or Dembski’s?

If ID is such a great explanation, how come Johnson himself says it isn’t testable, or even ready to be taught?

here’s the kicker for you, Quacky:

WHERE IS THE VALUE IN ID/CREATIONISM applied to increasing our knowledge?

Somehow, deep down, you know the real answer to that question.

It might make you feel all sparkly inside to believe in a sky fairy, but of what practical use is it for generating new knowledge?

*zip*

so, in the end, all I can conclude is that by the comparing the actual tenets of the christian/muslim/hindu/writein (really applicable to all adherents to this belief structure), to the behavior of creationists like yourself, is it appears the creationists and IDiots (apologists for creationism, essentially) have actually abandoned true faith in the face of overwhelming “naturalistic” evidence, and are therefore left with only two choices: you must deny reality itself in order to maintain your horribly over-strained simplistic belief structures, or you must constantly try to fit your beliefs into an ever smaller gap, and try to call it “science”.

that ain’t faith.

in fact, guess what?

that’s actually philosophical materialism - the desire to find your god reflected in creation in order to help you to believe.

so, quacky, you’re actually the philosophical materialist here, not the rest of us.

chew on that.

Comment #206041

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 10, 2007 11:58 PM (e)

The big question which no one has answered yet, is why is there even a universe.

why not?

Comment #206046

Posted by raven on September 11, 2007 12:01 AM (e)

there you go again, assuming you have the slightest clue how science works.

Got that right. He is hung up on methodological naturalism like it is part of the scientist creed or something. The reality is, most scientists have never even heard of it. Philosophy of science or history of science is something humanities majors take. Everyone else takes core subjects and relevant electives.

Comment #206054

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 12:04 AM (e)

And why do you or any other Xians care anyway. If your faith requires scientific proof, it isn’t much of a faith.

heh, I see you were thinking the same thing.

creationists have not embraced faith, they’ve entirely abandoned it in desperation.

current creationist “thought” like that expressed by Donald, are simply rationalizations born entirely of the desperation resulting from the fact that they themselves need, but cannot find, evidence for their own concept of a supreme being.

I’d feel sorry for them, if they had the slightest ability to self-analyze. without that ability, they simply become a drag on everyone around them, theist and atheist alike.

that’s right, Quacky, it’s YOU that’s holding America back.

Comment #206059

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 12:12 AM (e)

Otoh, I’m not sure what the point is of speculating what would happen in the absence of the evidence that’s been accumulating for a century and a half.

like speculating what the earth would do if there was no sun for it to go around?

or would the earth still be flat if nobody had sailed around it, or seen it from orbit?

trees falling in the forest…

Comment #206098

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 11, 2007 3:33 AM (e)

I think Donald M needs to read some history.

Charles Darwin was studying to be a clergyman when he began his scientific work. He was specifically influenced at that time by the Rev. William Paley’s “Natural Theology: Or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Diety, Collected from the Appearances of Nature,” which was required reading at Cambridge when Darwin was a student there.

In other words, Darwin started out to PROVE the existence of the supernatural. He did formulate a theory which can be used congruently with philosophical naturalism (although not all scientists do so.) But the theory was simply the result of his research– and Darwin was too honest to lie about what he found. Donald M’s implication that evolutionary theory is driven by philosophical naturalism isn’t just wrong; it’s completely backwards.

Comment #206176

Posted by David Stanton on September 11, 2007 8:57 AM (e)

Donald wrote:

“However, critics of MN, such as myself, also don’t automatically assume that a)there are no supernatural entities or b)if there are, no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature. MN as applied (and as defended here by you and others) makes one or both of these assumptions – and it might very well be the case that neither is true. And if that is the case, then MN will blind science to the real explanation of a given matter under investigation.”

This argument is incorrect. To see why, just substitute the word alien for supernatural. No scientist assumes that there are no aliens or that their activities are undetectable when they do research. However, until some evidence of their existence is discovered, the alien hypothesis will not be the first hypothesis considered to explain observations of nature.

That does not mean that science is blind to the existence of aliens. It simply means that until there is evidence of their existence they are not yet within the realm of scientfic investigation. Everyone knows that they may exist, but no one can use them as an explanation without evidence. If they do exist, then that points out a limitation of science. That is why the conclusions of science are always tentative. That is a strength of science, not a weakness.

In the absence of evidence you are free to believe anything you want. You just shouldn’t expect everyone else to share your beliefs without evidence.

Comment #206208

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206209

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206212

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 10:44 AM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206266

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 1:20 PM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206277

Posted by secondclass on September 11, 2007 2:04 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

However, critics of MN, such as myself, also don’t automatically assume that a)there are no supernatural entities or b)if there are, no activity on their part could ever have detectable empirical consequences in nature.

I’ve never been able to figure out what “supernatural” means. Since Donald knows so much about it maybe he can explain it to me.

For instance, suppose that scientists discover a new entity tomorrow. How do they go about determining whether that entity is supernatural or not?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the intrusion.

Comment #206278

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 11, 2007 2:08 PM (e)

Note also how Donald M., while ranting about this or that scientists philosophical views, did not actually address the most important and strongest point raised here (over and over again). That ET is useful because
1) Doesn’t conflict with evidence,
2) It explains the evidence, and
3) Makes testable claims to enable future research.
ID and Creationism do not meet all these standards.

All the talk of MN and PN is just so much poppycock. Scientists don’t a priori rule out anything: if a theory involving Divine intervention 1) didn’t conflict with the evidence, 2) explained the evidence, and 3) made testable predictions, I’m sure somebody would be researching it now. See for instance the studies involving intercessory prayer.

So, the issue has been raised again. Please demonstrate how Creationism or ID meet the requirements above.

Comment #206282

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 2:22 PM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206284

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:23 PM (e)

So, the issue has been raised again. Please demonstrate how Creationism or ID meet the requirements above.

I’m going to guess that Quacky’s answer to this would be along the lines of:

“Look, the problem is that you people can only see through the filter of philosophical naturalism, so of course you want me to fit alternative ways of finding truth into your naturalistic ‘bullet points’. The idea is that alternative ways of looking at things don’t HAVE to fit into your scheme. What if the ‘real’ Truth does actually conflict with the observed evidence? what if it isn’t predictable at all, since it’s controlled by an intelligence? Are all the things you plan to do on a daily basis entirely predictable? Open your minds, people!”

there, how’s that, Quacky?

close?

Comment #206285

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:25 PM (e)

laser-

your post is there!

stop reposting already. try hitting ctl + F5 to refresh your browser cache.

Comment #206287

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 2:27 PM (e)

Laser

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

Of course he’s read her. He just doesn’t find anything she’s written worth quoting. And as for his being an ID proponent, just because he’s on faculty at Calvin doesn’t automatically make him one. He just doesn’t dismiss it out of hand, the way so many here at PT do.

Comment #206290

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:36 PM (e)

Of course he’s read her. He just doesn’t find anything she’s written worth quoting.

I think you’re abusing your supernatural psychic abilities again, there, Quacky.

Comment #206296

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:42 PM (e)

He just doesn’t dismiss it out of hand, the way so many here at PT do.

dismiss it out of hand??!!

wtf, so I guess the entire history of PT and related science blogs carefully and methodically tearing every square inch of ID apart you would call “dismissing out of hand”.

tell me, Quacky…

Does ANYBODY actually listen to anything you have to say?

do you actually have a job somewhere?

Comment #206297

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 2:43 PM (e)

Pim

Surely you can understand that Baylor has some interest in maintaining its reputation here?

You wouldn’t know that by the way they’ve handled any of these situations. Their reputation is getting worse by the minute!

Comment #206299

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:47 PM (e)

Their reputation is getting worse by the minute!

yes, Quacky. and why is that… oh that’s right, the largest baptist university in the nation is having its reputation tarnished because it was dumb enough to hire Dembski on to begin with.

oops.

your ilk are fast running out of options.

what christian university will have its reputation “ruined” next, eh?

Comment #206302

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 2:50 PM (e)

*psst* hey Quacky…

did you ever stop to think, for even a second, that Dembski set this whole thing up precisely because he knew how Baylor would react, and fully INTENDED to tarnish Baylor’s reputation with it?

Ever think his motive might be simple revenge?

hmm?

Comment #206309

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 3:09 PM (e)

GuyeFaux

Note also how Donald M., while ranting about this or that scientists philosophical views, did not actually address the most important and strongest point raised here (over and over again). That ET is useful because
1) Doesn’t conflict with evidence,
2) It explains the evidence, and
3) Makes testable claims to enable future research.
ID and Creationism do not meet all these standards.

Whether or not ET explains the evidence depends on what is meant by both ‘evidence’ and ‘explanation’. Fanciful just so stories about the history of life make interesting reading, but hardly constitute an explanation in the scientific sense. So far, all ET has explained is adaptation, something no one disputes. At the macro-evolutionary, ET doesn’t seem all that successful at making testable claims, at least not without assuming what’s at issue, otherwise known as circular reasoning. Just because an hypothesis doesn’t conflict with evidence doesn’t mean its right. Any police detective could tell you that.

All the talk of MN and PN is just so much poppycock. Scientists don’t a priori rule out anything:

They do if they strictly adhere to MN. MN, in order to work, assumes that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect…otherwise known as PN. I suppose one could sidestep that by saying something like ‘for the sake of doing science we’ll pretend that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect’, but if nature isn’t such a closed system, then, as I’ve already mentioned, the deliverences of science under the stipulation of MN could well be wide of the mark for the particular matter under investigation. But you can’t have it both ways: require strict adherence to MN then say nothing is ruled out a priori…MN by definition rules out non-natural causes a priori.
Once again we see that MN=PN and there’s no getting around it.

Is it the case that all natural phenomenon must have a natural cause? Strict adherence to MN requires the answer to be ‘yes’. If you say ‘no’, then what’s the problem with consideration of non-natural causes for certain observed phenomenon? If you say ‘yes’ (as required by MN), then nature is assumed to be (or its pretended to be assumed to be) a closed system of natural cause and effect, and we’re right back to full-blown PN.
If you grant any exceptions, then staunchly defending MN makes no sense. You can’t have it both ways. That pesky law of non-contradiction will get you every time!

Comment #206312

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 3:14 PM (e)

So far, all ET has explained is adaptation, something no one disputes. At the macro-evolutionary, ET doesn’t seem all that successful at making testable claims,

um, even dealing with the fossil record, I guess you forgot Tiktalik, and the more recent predicted discoveries in China, right, Quacky?

why is it that you choose to mentally block out all the actual research that has been done and published? all the TESTABLE predictions that have been made, tested, and found accurate?

hmmmm???

couldn’t be because you are suffering from massive amounts of denial and projection, could it?

nawwwww.

Comment #206315

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 3:19 PM (e)

Is it the case that all natural phenomenon must have a natural cause?

there goes that mental block of yours again.

didn’t you even read the responses on point to that by Andrea, for example?

doesn’t it bother you in the slightest that you mentally block out the actual responses to your supposed criticisms and questions?

don’t you think it’s about time you made a visit to the nearest mental health care professional?

seriously. You need help.

Comment #206318

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 3:23 PM (e)

p.s.

hey Quacky:

read my post here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/09/foll…

and tell me how close it is to what you wrote in your latest.

from that, would you conclude we do or do not understand what you are trying to say?

it’s not that we don’t understand you, Quacky, as your ideas are not only simplistic, but very, very old.

try reading for comprehension, as all of your questions and critiques have already been addressed, numerous times in this thread alone, let alone all the other threads you have posted the EXACT SAME THING in over the last year or so.

now then, I reiterate: you need help. go vist your nearest health care professional, show them this thread, and ask for their advice.

Comment #206319

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 11, 2007 3:25 PM (e)

‘Whether or not ET explains the evidence depends on what is meant by both ‘evidence’ and ‘explanation’. Fanciful just so stories about the history of life make interesting reading, but hardly constitute an explanation in the scientific sense. So far, all ET has explained is adaptation, something no one disputes. At the macro-evolutionary, ET doesn’t seem all that successful at making testable claims, at least not without assuming what’s at issue, otherwise known as circular reasoning. Just because an hypothesis doesn’t conflict with evidence doesn’t mean its right. Any police detective could tell you that.’

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no scientist, but my gut feeling tells me this is a huge old pile of boilerplate nonsense.

Do I win a prize?

Comment #206321

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 3:36 PM (e)

Do I win a prize?

for noticing the sky is blue?

hardly.

;)

Comment #206326

Posted by Doanld M on September 11, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

Toejam sniffs

and tell me how close it is to what you wrote in your latest.

from that, would you conclude we do or do not understand what you are trying to say?

Apparently not, since you continue to resort to ad hominems ad nauseum.
Do you really think you ought to taken seriously when you make such inane comments like: “it’s not that we don’t understand you, Quacky, as your ideas are not only simplistic, but very, very old.”

Or

try reading for comprehension, as all of your questions and critiques have already been addressed, numerous times in this thread alone, let alone all the other threads you have posted the EXACT SAME THING in over the last year or so.

Au contraire the one question I’ve asked repeatedly in various ways never never gets answered, especially not by you. The entire issue goes away in a flash if you can (or anyone else for that matter) can tell me how it is we know scientifically (and not philosophically, theologically or metaphysically) that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect?
Where and how has that been established scientifically? Who did the study under what conditions? How might it be falsified? Where might I read the study in the peer reviewed scientific literature? Has this research been published anywhere?

It’s real simple, SirT, provide the science (according to your understanding of science) or admit this is nothing more than your philosophical preference. And once you’ve finally admitted that, then by all means proceed to tell me why it is then, that we all must adhere to so-called methodological naturalism for the sake of doing science when it hasn’t even been established that actual naturalism is true. Do you have an actual argument, SirT, or are you just going to resort to your usual ad hominem routine?

I’ll even give you a hint: no one on the planet has ever established scientifically that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect. Worse, it hasn’t been established philosophically, metaphysically or theologically either. But you could be the first: show me your scientific explanation!

Comment #206335

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 4:45 PM (e)

Apparently not, since you continue to resort to ad hominems ad nauseum.

irrelevant, and much projection on your part to say so.

I’ve asked repeatedly in various ways never never gets answered,…tell me how it is we know scientifically (and not philosophically, theologically or metaphysically) that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect?

from Andrea’s response:

Who makes that mistake? Certainly not scientists, who are the first to admit that all scientific knowledge is tentative and provisional, that is, even explanations that we think we have fully reached may ultimately be all wrong (let alone explanations that are still incomplete!). On the other hand, science seems to work as a method to reliably gather information about the world because such information has been consistently demonstrated to be practically useful. That’s all you can ask of science, and all it claims to do.

guess you missed that one, right?

care to explain your mental block, Quacky?

Comment #206336

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 11, 2007 4:46 PM (e)

‘I’ll even give you a hint: no one on the planet has ever established scientifically that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect. Worse, it hasn’t been established philosophically, metaphysically or theologically either. But you could be the first: show me your scientific explanation!’

But the burden of proof is not on our side, surely? It is your side making the extraordinary claim, whereas we are merely stating we believe what we see.

So YOU provide evidence.

Comment #206337

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 4:48 PM (e)

It’s real simple, SirT, provide the science (according to your understanding of science) or admit this is nothing more than your philosophical preference.

philosophical preference of WHAT, Quacky?

you set up a false dichotomy and expect exactly what kind of response?

can’t you see you’re nuts?

Comment #206339

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 11, 2007 4:49 PM (e)

All the talk of MN and PN is just so much poppycock. Scientists don’t a priori rule out anything:…

They do if they strictly adhere to MN. MN, in order to work, assumes that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect…otherwise known as PN. I suppose one could sidestep that by saying something like ‘for the sake of doing science we’ll pretend that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect’, but if nature isn’t such a closed system, then, as I’ve already mentioned, the deliverences of science under the stipulation of MN could well be wide of the mark for the particular matter under investigation. But you can’t have it both ways: require strict adherence to MN then say nothing is ruled out a priori…MN by definition rules out non-natural causes a priori.
Once again we see that MN=PN and there’s no getting around it.

This is addressed in the part of the quote you leave out. Note, for instance, the counterexample:

Scientists don’t a priori rule out anything: if a theory involving Divine intervention 1) didn’t conflict with the evidence, 2) explained the evidence, and 3) made testable predictions, I’m sure somebody would be researching it now. See for instance the studies involving intercessory prayer.

But as I said, this is all poppycock: for the love of Jeebus, demonstrate how Creationism or ID “Theory”
1) Doesn’t conflict with evidence,
2) It explains the evidence, and
3) Makes testable claims to enable future research.

Comment #206341

Posted by secondclass on September 11, 2007 4:52 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

I’ll even give you a hint: no one on the planet has ever established scientifically that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect. Worse, it hasn’t been established philosophically, metaphysically or theologically either. But you could be the first: show me your scientific explanation!

I’ll be happy to try, but first you’ll need to explain the principled distinction between natural and supernatural cause and effect. Until then, the claim has no truth value – it’s neither true nor false.

Comment #206346

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 5:04 PM (e)

Donald M, people see through your attempts to pass Del Ratzsch off as an unbiased philosopher of science. First of all, he works at Calvin College. Calvin is an excellent liberal arts college with a strong religious tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s look at Calvin College’s mission: (link here)

Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in God’s world.

Again, I have no qualms about Calvin College having such a mission. However, it is instructive to note that Del Ratzsch works at a school that promotes a Christian worldview. This worldview seems to pervade Ratzsch’s writing. That’s right, you’re wrong, I did take the time to read some things Ratzsch has written (though not everything, because I don’t have immediate access to some of his books and articles).

For instance, in his article “How Not to Critique Intelligent Design Theory” at Ars Disputandi (click on the link and search for Intelligent Design), Ratzsch complains that ID has been unfairly connected with creationism:

Del Ratzsch wrote:

Critics of Intelligent Design routinely tar ID with a creationist brush (‘Intelligent Design Creationism’ is now the term of choice of ID critics), and although both polemically driven and in some sense misleading, use of the term is understandable given that signi?cant numbers of lay creationists have enthusiastically appropriated ID into their own efforts. Nevertheless, the term is misleading because key ?gures in the birth and early development of the contemporary ID movement had no prior connection either with creationism or creationists. Key ?gures with no such prior ties include people like Phillip Johnson and the biochemist Michael Behe. To the extent that the ID movement has a founder and head, it is Johnson (Shanks himself identi?es Johnson as ‘the architect of the intelligent design movement’ [p. 11]). And Behe (whom Shanks identi?es as a ‘leading light of the contemporary intelligent design movement’ [p. 40]) was arguably the ID movement’s ?rst (and still one of its two most recognized) scienti?c theorist. On the other hand, a number of dominant creationist ?gures have sharply criticized ID. That number includes Henry Morris, who was arguably the world’s dominant young-earth creationist during the last third of the 20th century.

Strangely, nowhere in the footnotes for this article does Ratzsch cite Barbara Forrest. That is odd because she has exhaustively researched the connections between creationism and ID. One would think that if Ratzsch were honestly interested in determining whether the claim that ID is merely creationism warmed-over, he would at least read Forrest’s work. But by all appearances, he is either unaware of her work or decided not to consider it for his arguments. Neither case reflects well on his scholarship.

To his credit, Ratzsch has authored an entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that is more or less balanced, although he tries to sweep under the rug the question of whether ID gets the science wrong.

Also notable on Ratzsch’s CV is an article he published in 1998: “Design, Chance, and Theistic Evolution”, which appeared in a book, Mere Creation that was edited by one W. Dembski.

You can try with all your might, but you won’t be able to dispel the truth that Ratzsch is an ID proponent.

Comment #206350

Posted by Laser on September 11, 2007 5:13 PM (e)

(My apologies for multiple repetitive posts. STJ: It wouldn’t have helped to use ctrl+F5. It was giving me an error message, so I reasonably assumed that it wasn’t posting my text. Admin: If you’re so inclined, please remove them.)

Of course he’s read her. He just doesn’t find anything she’s written worth quoting.

Then he’s a terrible scholar.

And as for his being an ID proponent, just because he’s on faculty at Calvin doesn’t automatically make him one. He just doesn’t dismiss it out of hand, the way so many here at PT do.

I was afraid that would confuse you. I put that there only to provide context. He’s an ID proponent because he ignores comprehensive scholarly work on a question that he tries to address. He’s an ID proponent because he wrote a chapter in a book that was edited by Dembski. He’s an ID proponent because of the content of many of his other articles. There, is that clear enough for you?

Comment #206351

Posted by Kit on September 11, 2007 5:14 PM (e)

I notice that Donald M seems to still avoid Andrea’s very reasonable request:

BTW, your arguments on methodological materialism make no sense, as others have already pointed out. To realize this, just take any purportedly supernatural phenomenon you wish, say Jesus turning water into wine, or the Hindu milk-drinking statues - whatever, you choose. Now, tell us how you will practically test the hypothesis that that phenomenon is supernatural. One experiment or more, just tell us. But remember, you have to test the supernatural explanation, not alternative naturalistic hypotheses, because that’s what methodological naturalism does. Go ahead.

Any chance that you’ll attempt to respond to this request, Donald?

Comment #206356

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 11, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

It wouldn’t have helped to use ctrl+F5. It was giving me an error message

on the post, or after when attempting to view the thread?

Comment #206380

Posted by fnxtr on September 11, 2007 7:48 PM (e)

Hey, Donald,

Just wondering.

How do you test for the supernatural?

Phenolphthalein?

That doohickey in “Ghostbusters”?

Kreskin?

How would you know if you had a negative response?

“Nope, no invisible fairies here, this is natural.”

How would you ever know?

Why should we assume there’s a higher plane, or whatever?

So far everything in the universe seems to be, well, natural.

The burden is on you to prove otherwise.

And again, incredulity and current ignorance are not proof.

Not holding my breath on this one.

Comment #206411

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 10:19 PM (e)

Andrea:

That’s nonsense. MN makes no assumption as to the existence of supernatural entities, nor assume that if they existed, they would have no empirical consequences in nature. Proof of the pudding is, people use MN to study intercessory prayer, ghosts, dogs with psychic powers, etc. All the time.

If the real explanation of a phenomenon were to be supernatural, quite simply science would not be able to provide good explanations for it, and we’d know those explanations are wrong because they would have no predictive value with respect to observations of similar phenomena. In those instances, people who like to do science would go on and test other testable explanations (perforce naturalistic) and keep looking, while people who find metaphysical explanations satisfactory, would explain them as supernatural and be done with it.

Andrea, this is simply incorrect and you seem to be confused as to what MN really is as an principle applied in scientific practice. It is by definition a principle that holds that for the sake of doing science only natural causes for any observed phenomenon will be considered. Even if the real cause of a certain observation is, in fact, non-natural, MN demands that preference be given to the natural explanation. It all comes down to what one thinks the business of science is about. Is science about coming up with a natural explanation for every observation; or is it about discovering the truth about how nature actually works. If there is a supernatural realm and activity on the part of a supernatural being played a significant role in certain features of nature, then that would be, in fact, how nature (or at least that particular part of nature) actually works and any explanation that didn’t make reference to that cause would, in fact, be incorrect, no matter how well constructed and how tightly it adhered to the stipulations of MN. The issue isn’t whether someone finds metaphysical (to use your term) explanations satisfactory, but whether or not those explanations represent what really happened.

To the point so often discussed here: are there certain features of nature that exhibit hallmarks of design (or what some call ‘designedness’). If so, is it actual design – that is to say the result of a deliberate of an actual intelligent agent, or is it only apparent design. Under the stipulation of MN, all such design features can only be apparent, because they could only be the result of natural causes, which only have the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy working through chance and/or necessity as explanatory resources. But, as far as I know, no one has demonstrated that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in any natural system can not be actual design, even in principal. If that has been established scientifically, then I’d love to see the research studies!!

What you can not do, Andrea, is have it both ways, as I’ve said before. If MN is true, then no supernatural explanation for any observation is allowed. Period. And thus MN does, in fact, rule out a priori what may in fact be the correct (as in the actual truth) explanation. MN=PN and there’s no getting around it.
Neither you nor anyone else have demonstrated otherwise. On the contrary, you continually confirm what I’m saying, even while trying to argue the opposite. Even you can’t violate the law of non-contradiction. It is inviolate.

Comment #206414

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 10:26 PM (e)

Laseer

I was afraid that would confuse you. I put that there only to provide context. He’s an ID proponent because he ignores comprehensive scholarly work on a question that he tries to address. He’s an ID proponent because he wrote a chapter in a book that was edited by Dembski. He’s an ID proponent because of the content of many of his other articles. There, is that clear enough for you?

Ratzsch may be willing to give ID a hearing, but that hardly makes him a proponent. I suspect you only want to label him as one so you can dismiss everything else he writes. FYI, I know Del personally and have had a few conversations with him over lunch on this very subject and can tell you he is not an ID proponent. He is, however, at least open to the possibility that ID could be scientifically fruitful. D

Comment #206416

Posted by Donald M on September 11, 2007 10:36 PM (e)

IanBrown

But the burden of proof is not on our side, surely? It is your side making the extraordinary claim, whereas we are merely stating we believe what we see.

So YOU provide evidence.

I’m not the one making the extraordinary claim here. The extrodinary claim is somehow we know that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. If we don’t know that, then MN really doesn’t make a whole of sense. Rather than approaching the data with a ready made stipulation as to what the data must tell us, why not let the data tell us where the relevant boundaries are. But MN doesn’t allow for that and dictates the boundaries prior to the investigation or examination of the data. The burden of proof, as it were, is on those who want to continue defending MN.

Comment #206418

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 11, 2007 10:51 PM (e)

…But, as far as I know, no one has demonstrated that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in any natural system can not be actual design, even in principal. If that has been established scientifically, then I’d love to see the research studies!!

As people have pointed out repeatedly, no-one actually claims “that any apparent design we observe in any natural system can not be actual design, even in principal. (sic)” C.f. Last Thursdayism.

What you can not do, Andrea, is have it both ways, as I’ve said before. If MN is true,…

MN does not have a truth value.

…then no supernatural explanation for any observation is allowed. Period.

Only methodologically. Therefore the next bit is blatantly false:

And thus MN does, in fact, rule out a priori what may in fact be the correct (as in the actual truth) explanation.

The fact that the assumption was strictly methodological means that a priori supernatural explanations are not ruled out.

MN=PN and there’s no getting around it.

Only if in your small, unimaginative mind.

And, like I said, this argument isn’t useful.

Please describe how ID or Creationism is useful in the ways I listed ET and other well established theory purport to be useful.

Comment #206421

Posted by raven on September 11, 2007 11:06 PM (e)

Andrea, this is simply incorrect and you seem to be confused as to what MN really is as an principle applied in scientific practice. It is by definition a principle that holds that for the sake of doing science only natural causes for any observed phenomenon will be considered.

From talkorigins.org:

The naturalism that science adopts is methodological naturalism. It does not assume that nature is all there is; it merely notes that nature is the only objective standard we have. The supernatural is not ruled out a priori; when it claims observable results that can be studied scientifically, the supernatural is studied scientifically (e.g., Astin et al. 2000; Enright 1999). It gets little attention because it has never been reliably observed. Still, there are many scientists who use naturalism but who believe in more than nature.

Donald you are simply repeating your wrong points over and over. See what you said which is contradicted by the definition from talkorigins.org. You are just wrong.

You are also wrong to keep plugging away at methodological naturalism. Most scientists have never even heard of it. This is philosophy/history of science stuff. Those courses are taken by humanities majors. Science majors are too busy taking courses in the core and relevant electives to bother with them.

There is no oath to MN sworn on The Origin of the Species, no thought police enforcing the MN only rule, no secret society of MNs trying to hide god. Scientists are a varied and odd lot and herding cats would be easy compared to herding scientists. You clearly have zero working knowledge of what scientists do all day. It isn’t sitting in a chair thinking. Collecting and analyzing data is far more crucial.

And BTW we don’t give a damn what you believe. 6,000 year old earth, no Big Bang, god keeping the planets in their orbits, flat earth, sacrificing chickens to Vodoo on full moons. Whatever, it is a free country. We do object to people sneaking their religious views into our kids science classes. It is in fact, illegal, separation of church and state and has been ruled on in court many times.

I’m done here. Donald has repeated his fallacies over and over and looks to be able to continue for another 1000 posts. Sorry, I don’t have the time and interest for discussions that go nowhere.

Explain how we can study the supernatural for a change of pace. Ectoplasmic imagers, soul catchers, email to god, angels in the incubators, summoning demons from within a pentagram (not recommended, what if the necronomicon is wrong). Handwaving is not a good experimental strategy.

And forget about ID. After 150 years it is a dead end. Went nowhere. If that is the best the GOD-PROVEN-TO-EXIST guys can come up with they are in deep trouble. Recycling pseudoscience for centuries is a sure loser.

Comment #206446

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 12:35 AM (e)

Andrea, this is simply incorrect and you seem to be confused as to what MN really is as an principle applied in scientific practice.

Quacky, who admittedly does no science, has never actually studied science, and has never even tried to publish in a scientific journal, accuses Andrea, who in fact has a very extensive background in science, and has published articles, of being confused as to what science is and how it is practiced.

Quacky, I’d slap you in the face if you said that to me on the street, considering the large number of years I myself have put into the practice and study of science.

you really cannot see that you haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about, can you?

seriously, I think I will encourage others here to encourage you to seek a mental health care professional. you obviously have some serious mental health issues that certainly no-one here is qualified to treat.

Comment #206448

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 12:38 AM (e)

or is it only apparent design

he means “is it only projection”, but he’s too busy projecting to even realize it.

you’re simply nuts, quacky.

seek treatment.

all will become clear afterwards, and maybe after you do seek treatment, you might come back and say something that actually makes sense.

Comment #206534

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 12, 2007 8:55 AM (e)

Andrea, this is simply incorrect and you seem to be confused as to what MN really is as an principle applied in scientific practice. It is by definition a principle that holds that for the sake of doing science only natural causes for any observed phenomenon will be considered. Even if the real cause of a certain observation is, in fact, non-natural, MN demands that preference be given to the natural explanation.

Now I am starting to suspect you are purposefully playing stupid. MN is not an a priori principle that a cadre of hooded materialist scientists have decreed has to be enforced in practice, but on the contrary, it is derived from the practice that all scientists (materialists and non) adopt for purely utilitarian reasons. By its nature, because it depends on observability, reproducibility, and testability, science is limited to natural explanations. It simply cannot be otherwise, as you have realized by failing for now a few days to come up with any plausible scientific test for a supernatural explanation of any phenomenon of your choice. These limitations of science, which are also its strengths, prevent it from examining supernatural causal mechanisms (note: as I said before, science can however very well examine purportedly supernatural phenomena, and it does). Science doesn’t say that supernatural mechanisms or entities don’t exist, or should be rejected in principle, just that if they do, they can’t be tested using the scientific method. They. Just. Can’t.

It all comes down to what one thinks the business of science is about. Is science about coming up with a natural explanation for every observation; or is it about discovering the truth about how nature actually works.

Neither. It is to arrive at reliable explanations of natural phenomena by observation, experimentation and hypothesis-testing. Natural phenomena that can be explained in such a way, will be considered scientifically explained. Those that can’t, won’t.

If there is a supernatural realm and activity on the part of a supernatural being played a significant role in certain features of nature, then that would be, in fact, how nature (or at least that particular part of nature) actually works and any explanation that didn’t make reference to that cause would, in fact, be incorrect, no matter how well constructed and how tightly it adhered to the stipulations of MN.

Indeed. But you must realize that if a naturalistic explanation is wrong, than it will have little or no explanatory and predictive power, and people will reject it on that basis. If on the other hand it does have good explanatory and predictive powers, then it is sensible to accept it (tentatively and provisionally, as every explanation in science) over supernatural explanations not because of these mythical MN shackles, but because of the principle of parsimony. For instance, I am sure that even you, free from the constraints of MN and the scientific method, would reject as unparsimonious the hypothesis that this message I am typing will get to your computer because it is carried forth by internet angels, as opposed to the more prosaic naturalistic explanation that electronic signals from my computer are transmitted to yours via a network of cables and servers (or a series of tubes, whichever you prefer).

Now, we could of course decide to reject the principle of parsimony in the name of affirmative action for explanatory systems, but then there would always be an infinite number of heuristically equivalent (i.e. all equally untestable) supernatural explanations for every natural phenomenon, and we would have no reason, other than metaphysical ones, to prefer one over another. That would paralyze not only science, but even trivial technological applications (how would you like your plumber to consider water pipe gremlins as a cause of your flooded basement?). Indeed, it would paralyze your own life, as you ponder whether every event in it is natural or supernatural in origin, and plan to respond to it accordingly.

Comment #206538

Posted by David Stanton on September 12, 2007 9:08 AM (e)

Donald wrote:

“I’m not the one making the extraordinary claim here. The extrodinary claim is somehow we know that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. If we don’t know that, then MN really doesn’t make a whole of sense. Rather than approaching the data with a ready made stipulation as to what the data must tell us, why not let the data tell us where the relevant boundaries are. But MN doesn’t allow for that and dictates the boundaries prior to the investigation or examination of the data. The burden of proof, as it were, is on those who want to continue defending MN.”

This is completely wrong.

First, you are the one making the extraordinary claim. You are the one claiming that everyone should believe something for which there is no evidence.

Second, no one is claiming that “nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect”. If a devout Christian uses MN to do reseach, that in no way negates his belief in God or anything supernatural. In the same way, saying that I can make a tire without rubber in no way implies that rubber does not exist.

Third, we have “let the data tell us where the relevant boundaries are”. We tried making supernatural assumptions to explain observed phenomena for thousands of years. It got us exactly nowhere. Then we applied MN to the problems and presto, progress occurred.

Fourth, the burden of proof is definately on those who claim that supernatural explanations are superior to those found by MN. For example, if I ignore the possibility of alien intervention when I study the structure of Ipateus, I don’t have to justify that assumption. If I can propose a reasonable natural explanation that accounts for all of the known facts, then I have a reasonable confidence in the conclusions. If I cannot account for the facts using natural explanations, then I am fully justified in examining the alien hypothesis. However, until I have some positive evidence of alien intervention, until I have some facts that are inexplicable by any other explanation, then the alien explanation is not justified. And until I have some direct evidence of alien intervention, the alien hypothesis remains simply an unsupported hypothesis. If I claim that aliens created Ipateus, then the burden of proof is definately on me. If you claim that God did something supernatural, then the burden of proof is definately on you.

Comment #206558

Posted by Laser on September 12, 2007 10:12 AM (e)

Ratzsch may be willing to give ID a hearing, but that hardly makes him a proponent.

It also hardly makes him neutral. In your post in which you introduced Ratzsch’s work, you said, “Directly to your point here, I invite you to consider the thoughts of Philosopher of Science,Del Ratzch, author of the very intriguing Nature, Design, and Science (2003, State University of New York Press):…” Perhaps unintentionally, you make it sound as if he is a disinterested observer. He isn’t.

I suspect you only want to label him as one so you can dismiss everything else he writes.

Wrong. I plainly told you that I read several of his articles that I could immediately access and gave you my assessment. From what I read, he clearly does not understand the science of evolution. And, as I pointed out in my (inadvertently multiple) previous post, he posed a question as to why ID has been labeled as warmed-over creationism, and he ignored a major scholarly work on precisely that question. That egregious error calls into question his scholarship. I label each work of his individually. The paper at Ars Disputandi was lacking in rigor. As Andrea and others have pointed out ad nauseam, MN is not the same as PN, nor does it exclude the supernatural a priori, and his and your takes on that are incorrect. Taken together, these seem to fit the pattern of someone who is pro-ID.

FYI, I know Del personally and have had a few conversations with him over lunch on this very subject and can tell you he is not an ID proponent. He is, however, at least open to the possibility that ID could be scientifically fruitful. D

Perhaps he is not a proponent in the sense that Dembski and Behe are proponents. So ask him this, next time you have lunch: Should ID be taught in science courses?

Comment #206609

Posted by Henry J on September 12, 2007 1:30 PM (e)

Is there any real difference between “Methodological Naturalism” and simply “basing conclusions on the available relevant evidence”?

If not, seems like using the later phrase would avoid some confusion.

Henry

Comment #206637

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

FYI, I know Del personally and have had a few conversations with him over lunch on this very subject and can tell you he is not an ID proponent.

“I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

which drugs were you on during this alleged lunch?

Comment #206640

Posted by Donald M on September 12, 2007 3:14 PM (e)

David Stanton

This is completely wrong.

First, you are the one making the extraordinary claim. You are the one claiming that everyone should believe something for which there is no evidence.

I made no such claim or anything even remotely resembling this statement. I’ve made no statement at all about what “everyone should believe”.

Second, no one is claiming that “nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect”. If a devout Christian uses MN to do reseach, that in no way negates his belief in God or anything supernatural. In the same way, saying that I can make a tire without rubber in no way implies that rubber does not exist.

Neither did I say that you or anyone else is claiming that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect. No one has actually made that claim nor did I say anyone did. What I did say is that that claim is the upshot of taking MN seriously. MN by definition means that for the sake of doing science we’ll pretend that nature is a closed system of natural cause and effect (whether or not it really is). If that stipulation is strictly adhered to, as most here seem to think it ought to be, then it follows that even before investigation begins, certain explanatory resources (i.e. supernatural causes) are ‘off the table’. But if the truth of the matter under investigation is that supernatural causation is the correct explanation, then no matter how consistent with the evidence the natural explanation is, it would also be wrong…and as Ratzsch has made clear, will be wrong in precisely the same way and for the same reasons as a science built on philosophical (as opposed to methodological) naturalism would be. Thus, the conclusion to be drawn is that unless we actually do know that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect, then the stipulation of MN is arbitrary and rests on shaky philosophical foundations. And we’re unavoidedly back to MN=PN.

Third, we have “let the data tell us where the relevant boundaries are”. We tried making supernatural assumptions to explain observed phenomena for thousands of years. It got us exactly nowhere. Then we applied MN to the problems and presto, progress occurred.

That is a very simplistic and inaccurate view of the history of science. Several of the greatest names in the history of science had no problem at all including the agency of God within the structure of their scientific investigations, and our knowledge progressed quite nicely.

Further, claims of the past victories of MN are over-inflated. First off, it is an inductive argument along the lines of “since naturalistic explanations have routinely filled our knowledge of the world, there’s no reason to think that they won’t continue to provide us with a true picture of the world”…or something to that effect. Being an inductive argument, we are not dealing with a proof here of any sort. Secondly, it isn’t the case that all gaps in our knowledge of the world have been closed through natural explanations…we still have long-standing mysteries in science, which is why we keep looking. If Kuhn is right, then even gaps we once thought were closed are often re-opened in what he calls scientific revolutions. The upshot of that is even if it were the case that all gaps in our understanding of nature were closed by some naturalistic explanation, there’s no guarantee that they remain closed. Third, if part of reality…the way things really are…lies beyond the natural world, then science couldn’t get to it under the stipulation of MN. Thus, for all science could tell, present mysteries might actually be the result of some supernatural activity. The fact that science practiced under the stipulation of MN couldn’t even see that takes a lot of the starch out of the claims of victories past.

Worse, there’s no reason to think that science ever can solve through natural explanation all the mysteries it defines for itself and that lack of explanations is not a temporary situation. Incompleteness is unavoidable, even if we could, in principle, explain every natural phenomenon with reference to some natural cause or set of laws or other. But, at some point, we have to explain the existence of those laws. What then? Do we say they’re ‘just there’ like some brute fact? Or do we say there’s some other set of principals outside the normal scope of science? Is that the point we appeal to a supernatural explanation? The first route isn’t even an explanation and the second just pushes the need for an explanation up a notch. The third goes beyond what science allows under MN, so would provide no complete scientific explanation. From that it would follow that explanations within nature can either be complete or scientific (under the stipulations of MN) but not both at the same time.

That makes the conclusion of your inductive argument about the victory of naturalistic explanations not true even in principle.

Fourth, the burden of proof is definately on those who claim that supernatural explanations are superior to those found by MN. For example, if I ignore the possibility of alien intervention when I study the structure of Ipateus, I don’t have to justify that assumption. If I can propose a reasonable natural explanation that accounts for all of the known facts, then I have a reasonable confidence in the conclusions. If I cannot account for the facts using natural explanations, then I am fully justified in examining the alien hypothesis. However, until I have some positive evidence of alien intervention, until I have some facts that are inexplicable by any other explanation, then the alien explanation is not justified. And until I have some direct evidence of alien intervention, the alien hypothesis remains simply an unsupported hypothesis. If I claim that aliens created Ipateus, then the burden of proof is definately on me. If you claim that God did something supernatural, then the burden of proof is definately on you.

I wasn’t aware that aliens and supernatural causes were equivalent. How is that aliens fall outside the natural cause realm?

“Fourth, the burden of proof is definately on those who claim that supernatural explanations are superior to those found by MN.”
As opposed to claiming that natural causes are superior to supernatural ones? Just because we have a natural explanation that seems to fit all the data doesn’t mean we have the correct explanation. Data always underdetermines theories in science. Given a natural explanation for a particular observation and a supernatural explanation for the very same data, why is that we must first choose between them as if they were competitors and second give preference to the natural explanation? What is the justification for that competition and choice, or is it just someone’s philosophical preference, as it seems to be. In order for this claim to even make sense, there needs to be some knowledge of what we ought to expect to see if a supernatural agent was involved…but that we could ever have such knowledge is the very thing being denied.

Comment #206642

Posted by Donald M on September 12, 2007 3:17 PM (e)

Laser

Perhaps he is not a proponent in the sense that Dembski and Behe are proponents. So ask him this, next time you have lunch: Should ID be taught in science courses?

I can already answer that for him and for me. No. Neither he nor I have ever advocated for that.

Comment #206645

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

How is that aliens fall outside the natural cause realm?

It’s funny that you suppose alien causation to be a “natural” cause, since it equates nicely with the ID being based on “natural” causes.

the problem with equating non-know causation is the same, however, whether we are talking about unknown pre-supposed aliens, or a supernatural event.

you don’t get that, though, do you?

seek medical attention.

Comment #206648

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 3:22 PM (e)

I can already answer that for him and for me. No. Neither he nor I have ever advocated for that.

you’re insane enough that I don’t believe you, quacky.

without any proof of your meeting, I say you’re making this up in your head, just like everything else you spout monthly on this blog.

medical attention?

remember?

Comment #206649

Posted by Donald M on September 12, 2007 3:23 PM (e)

Raven:

And BTW we don’t give a damn what you believe. 6,000 year old earth, no Big Bang, god keeping the planets in their orbits, flat earth, sacrificing chickens to Vodoo on full moons. Whatever, it is a free country. We do object to people sneaking their religious views into our kids science classes. It is in fact, illegal, separation of church and state and has been ruled on in court many times.

Tell me, Raven, what does a worldview free science class look like?

Comment #206651

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 3:26 PM (e)

Tell me, Raven, what does a worldview free science class look like?

you wouldn’t know, not having ever attended any science classes for comparative purposes.

but, even if you had, inevitably your own massive levels of projection would have forced you to conclude that all science instruction is entirely based on worldviews instead of method and results.

you’re nuts, quacky.

seek treatment.

Comment #206662

Posted by David Stanton on September 12, 2007 4:01 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

“But if the truth of the matter under investigation is that supernatural causation is the correct explanation, then no matter how consistent with the evidence the natural explanation is, it would also be wrong…and as Ratzsch has made clear, will be wrong in precisely the same way and for the same reasons as a science built on philosophical (as opposed to methodological) naturalism would be.

And that is exactly my point. If the natural explanation is wrong, then it will be inconsistent with the evidence. If it is consistent with all the evidence than you can not demonstrate that it is wrong. This is a limitation of science. If supernatural explanations are indeed correct, it doesn’t matter. It still won’t be science even if it is the truth. No one ever claimed that science wiould always give the correct answer. But abandoning an answer that is consistent with all the evidence will not get you a better answer. Assuming a supernatural explanation where noen is required is unwarranted.

“Several of the greatest names in the history of science had no problem at all including the agency of God within the structure of their scientific investigations, and our knowledge progressed quite nicely.”

Once again you make my point for me. They did not need to insist that God did not exist in order to do science. But as long as they posited supernatural explanations for natural phenomena they got nowhere. As soon as they started coming up with natural explanations they made rapid progress. That may indeed be a little simplistic, but can you name any supernatural explanation that has served to increase our knowledge of the natural world?

Comment #206673

Posted by Science Avenger on September 12, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

Donald asks:

Tell me, Raven, what does a worldview free science class look like?

It would have adherants from a wide range of worldviews, Christians, atheists, socialists, capitalists, etc. In other words, like evolution, or global warming, or the Pythagorean theorum, or any of the other sciences.

Sciency sounding stuff based on a world view looks like ID/creationism, or holocaust denial, having adherants overwhelmingly ascribing to a particular worldview.

Comment #206692

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 6:57 PM (e)

“I’m not sure what they did, but somebody had to have done something.”

interpolating the likely previous line by same imaginary forensic expert:

“I mean, the vic’s dead, right?”

can you imagine an entire spoof of a Law and Order episode entirely using the projection and “gut instinct” ID supporters use on a daily basis?

man, that would be hilarious.

oh, nevermind, that’s kinda what happened in the Kitzmiller case. spoofs are only good if there isn’t already a real-world case example.

Comment #206693

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 6:58 PM (e)

hmm, that got put into the wrong thread.

Comment #206723

Posted by raven on September 12, 2007 8:36 PM (e)

Tell me, Raven, what does a worldview free science class look like?

That is a hysterically off the wall question.

You just see a normal cross section of the university population sitting in a classroom or lecture hall while a professor gives a lecture. AV aids are common, slides, powerpoint.

Unless it is a lab class where the students run experiments which can be controlled chaos.

The exact number of college and university level worldview free science classes in the USA is anyones guess. Per year maybe 100,000, maybe 500,000.

The only worldview contrained science classes I’ve seen are Xian fundamentalist. They frequently are full of outright lies and almost devoid of content. Imagine trying to teach geology assuming the earth is 6,000 years old. It isn’t, it is 4.5 billion years old.

We don’t worry about worldviews too much or at all really. We worry a lot more about being right and having other people being able to repeat the work. In my field, medical research, whether people live or die depends on us doing good science, literally and directly.

Comment #206748

Posted by Henry J on September 12, 2007 10:27 PM (e)

Re “or the Pythagorean theorem,”

What’s this, Euclidism? Teach the controversy! If the world isn’t flat, space might not be flat either!

:D

Henry

Comment #206751

Posted by PvM on September 12, 2007 10:45 PM (e)

And that is exactly my point. If the natural explanation is wrong, then it will be inconsistent with the evidence. If it is consistent with all the evidence than you can not demonstrate that it is wrong.

Del Ratzsch is clearly speaking about a supernatural designer here. Which is quite different from what ID pretends it is all about. While ID’s intelligence is clearly supernatural, it likes to pretend that ID is all about intelligence but as we know, real science can quite accurately deal with natural intelligence.

No science, and certainly not the scientifically vacuous concept of ID will address this. The supernatural remains a topic of faith not science, by any definition. Admitting the supernatural in science will be the end of science, it surely has no redeeming qualities.
Which is why ID has remained scientifically vacuous… Of course IDers are quick to blame discrimination and other excuses but honestly… nobody has explained yet what non trivial contributions can be expected from a negative argument like ID.

It’s funny how IDers can be so inconsistent in their claims.

As long as science works, there is no scientific need for assigning miracles to some unnamed entity. From a religious perspective it is even more embarassing that ID proponents have to deny their God.

Comment #206753

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 10:58 PM (e)

. While ID’s intelligence is clearly supernatural, it likes to pretend that ID is all about intelligence but as we know, real science can quite accurately deal with natural intelligence.

the problem with the putative designer of ID, isn’t even that it might be supernatural. it’s simply that it’s unknown.

no data regarding how suggested designer actually operates in the world, ergo no possible way to even start to produce a legitimate, testable hypothesis as to what might or might not have been “designed” by suggested designer.

this is direct contrast to things like archeology, where we indeed do have a model of how humans interact with their environment (duh), so can easily hypothesis what might or might not have been designed by them.

Comment #206883

Posted by David Stanton on September 13, 2007 7:52 AM (e)

Donald wrote:

“I wasn’t aware that aliens and supernatural causes were equivalent. How is that aliens fall outside the natural cause realm?”

Presumably they do not (unless of course aliens are supernatural). My point was that they are outside the realm of science as long as there is no evidence of their existence (whether they exist or not), in exactly the same way that the supernatural is outside the realm of science as long as there is no evidence for it (regardless of whether the supernatural exists or not). The only difference is that it might be possible to study aliens empirically using MN. As has been pointed out already, this may not be possible for supernatural causes.

“As opposed to claiming that natural causes are superior to supernatural ones? Just because we have a natural explanation that seems to fit all the data doesn’t mean we have the correct explanation. Data always underdetermines theories in science. Given a natural explanation for a particular observation and a supernatural explanation for the very same data, why is that we must first choose between them as if they were competitors and second give preference to the natural explanation?”

Because, as I already stated, natural explanations increase our knowledge and understanding of the natural world. They provide testable hypotheses ammenable to falsification. They provide predictions and potential applications. Supernatural explanations do not, even if they are correct. Also, if the two explanations fit the data equally well, yes the natural explanation is preferred due to Occum’s razor (as has already been pointed out by Andrea).

If you don’t beleive that MN is a useful approach, fine, don’t use it. If you believe that you can study the supernatural, fine, you are free to do so. If you think you have a better way of doing science, fine, go right ahead. But don’t try to convince anyone that MN has been unsuccessful or that supernatural explanations have been equally successful at explaining the natural world. And don’t try to equate MN with PN, no one is going to fall for that either.

Comment #207147

Posted by Neal on September 13, 2007 9:48 PM (e)

“As a Christian I apologize for Neal, as a scientists I apologize for Neal.”

Neal’s response:

You have no f_____g right to apologize for what I have said or how I express my cognitions regarding the topics at hand!!!!!!! I don’t care if you are a “Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, or whatever!!!!!!! You absolutely NEED NOT AND (FOR THE SAKE OF REAL SCIENCE) SHOULD NOT APOLOGIZE TO ANY OF THESE VASTLY PRESUMTIVE ASSHOLES WHO (on the philosophical rantings of one emmanuel kant (THE TIMELESS EXISTENCE OF MATTER)(as in i cant give you anything worth a shit as far as reality goes!!!!!!) and one darwin, who was successful beyond all scientific reason in (his competitive assertions(HE HAD TO BEAT OUT SOME OTHER PHILOSOPHIST IN BRINGING FORTH THE SAME PHILOSOPHICAL MONEY GLEANING EFFORT) that GOD DAMN CHANGES IN FINCHES BEAKS ETC ETC ETC COULD FULLY FUCKING EVEN REMOTELY COME CLOSE TO ANY KIND OF VIABLE EXAMPLE THAT THERE IS SOME SORT OF UCA (FOR YOU SCIENTIFIC NUEVO GENERATIONAL IDIOTS WHO JUST FUCKING GLEAM ON TO SUCCESSIVE UNSUBSTANTIATED INFORMATION WHAT EVER WILL SATISFY YOUR “INSTINCTS”) UNIVERSAL COMMON ANCESTOR (“GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY” HOW MANY OF YOU A______S WILL CONTINUE TO JUST MINDLESSLY GO DOWN THAT ROAD OF “LETS RECOGNIZE AND STUDY, LEGITIMITIZE THROUGH OUR SO-CALLED AFFILIATION WITH REAL SCIENCE ONLY WHAT WILL SUPPORT OUR PHILOSOPHICAL WISHFULL ASSERTIONS THAT WE WILL CONTINUE, THROUGH PRIDE, AND ARROGANCE, PUSH DOWN THE THROAT OF THE FUCKING NAIVE PUBLIC (WHO PAYS OUR SORRY ASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!) YOU DUMB FUCKS!!!!!!!
GO AHEAD MR. EDITOR EDIT THE TRUTH OUT!!!!! LIKE YOU WILL DO WHEN THE TRUTH THREATENS YOUR POSITION.

Comment #207152

Posted by Neal on September 13, 2007 9:53 PM (e)

“As a Christian I apologize for Neal, as a scientists I apologize for Neal.”

Neal’s response:

You have no f_____g right to apologize for what I have said or how I express my cognitions regarding the topics at hand!!!!!!! I don’t care if you are a “Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, or whatever!!!!!!! You absolutely NEED NOT AND (FOR THE SAKE OF REAL SCIENCE) SHOULD NOT APOLOGIZE TO ANY OF THESE VASTLY PRESUMTIVE ASSHOLES WHO (on the philosophical rantings of one emmanuel kant (THE TIMELESS EXISTENCE OF MATTER)(as in i cant give you anything worth a shit as far as reality goes!!!!!!) and one darwin, who was successful beyond all scientific reason in (his competitive assertions(HE HAD TO BEAT OUT SOME OTHER PHILOSOPHIST IN BRINGING FORTH THE SAME PHILOSOPHICAL MONEY GLEANING EFFORT) that GOD DAMN CHANGES IN FINCHES BEAKS ETC ETC ETC COULD FULLY FUCKING EVEN REMOTELY COME CLOSE TO ANY KIND OF VIABLE EXAMPLE THAT THERE IS SOME SORT OF UCA (FOR YOU SCIENTIFIC NUEVO GENERATIONAL IDIOTS WHO JUST FUCKING GLEAM ON TO SUCCESSIVE UNSUBSTANTIATED INFORMATION WHAT EVER WILL SATISFY YOUR “INSTINCTS”) UNIVERSAL COMMON ANCESTOR (“GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY” HOW MANY OF YOU A______S WILL CONTINUE TO JUST MINDLESSLY GO DOWN THAT ROAD OF “LETS RECOGNIZE AND STUDY, LEGITIMITIZE THROUGH OUR SO-CALLED AFFILIATION WITH REAL SCIENCE ONLY WHAT WILL SUPPORT OUR PHILOSOPHICAL WISHFULL ASSERTIONS THAT WE WILL CONTINUE, THROUGH PRIDE, AND ARROGANCE, PUSH DOWN THE THROAT OF THE FUCKING NAIVE PUBLIC (WHO PAYS OUR SORRY ASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!) YOU DUMB FUCKS!!!!!!!
GO AHEAD MR. EDITOR EDIT THE TRUTH OUT!!!!! LIKE YOU WILL DO WHEN THE TRUTH THREATENS YOUR POSITION.