Springer gets suckered by creationist pseudoscience

| 150 Comments

Note: The Springer webpage for the book was taken down about 24 hours after this post; see update post.

It looks like some creationist engineers found a way to slither some ID/creationism into a major academic publisher, Springer. The major publishers have enough problems at the moment (e.g. see the Elsevier boycott), it seems like the last thing they should be doing is frittering away their credibility even further by uncritically publishing creationist work and giving it a veneer of respectability. The mega-publishers are expensive, are making money off of largely government-funded work provided to them for free, and then the public doesn’t even have access to it. The only thing they have going for them is quality control and credibility – if they give that away to cranks, there is no reason at all to support them.

(A note: even if you bought the ridiculous idea that ID isn’t creationism, they’ve got John Sanford, a straight-up young-earth creationist for goodness sakes, as an editor and presumably author!)

Here’s the summary:

Biological Information: New Perspectives

Series: Intelligent Systems Reference Library, Vol. 38

Marks II, R.J.; Behe, M.J.; Dembski, W.A.; Gordon, B.L.; Sanford, J.C. (Eds.)

2012, 2012, XII, 549 p.

Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-642-28453-3

Due: March 31, 2012 $179.00

About this book

Presents new perspectives regarding the nature and origin of biological information

Demonstrates how our traditional ideas about biological information are collapsing under the weight of new evidence

Written by leading experts in the field

In the spring of 2011, a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information. This symposium brought together experts in information theory, computer science, numerical simulation, thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, whole organism biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, physics, biophysics, mathematics, and linguistics. This volume presents new research by those invited to speak at the conference.

The contributors to this volume use their wide-ranging expertise in the area of biological information to bring fresh insights into the explanatory difficulties that biological information raises. Going beyond the conventional scientific wisdom, which attempts to explain biological information reductionistically via chemical, genetic, and natural selective determinants, the work represented here develops novel non-reductionist approaches to biological information, looking notably to telic and self-organizational processes.

Several clear themes emerged from these research papers: 1) Information is indispensable to our understanding of what life is. 2) Biological information is more than the material structures that embody it. 3) Conventional chemical and evolutionary mechanisms seem insufficient to fully explain the labyrinth of information that is life. By exploring new perspectives on biological information, this volume seeks to expand, encourage, and enrich research on the nature and origin of biological information.

Content Level “ Research

Keywords “ Biological Information - Computational Intelligence - Genetical Information - Neo-Darwinian Theory

Related subjects “ Artificial Intelligence - Computational Intelligence and Complexity - Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

Table of contents

Dynamics of Charged Particulate Systems.- Biological Information and Genetic Theory.- Theoretical Molecular Biology.- Biological Information and Self-Organizational Complexity Theory.

Speaking of Sanford – if you didn’t know, he has a bizarre argument which only “makes sense” from a young-earth creationist perspective. The claim is basically that natural selection can’t remove enough bad mutations from the human population (he forgets about recombination and soft sweeps – whoops!), and therefore the human genome has been decaying rapidly ever since Adam and Eve (with perfect genomes, I guess) started breeding.

Do you think Springer commissioned any actual population geneticists to peer-review his work and his editing? Any actual biologists at mainstream institutions anywhere? Or was it creationist engineers peer-reviewing theologians masquerading as information theoreticians? Does the volume actually address any of the detailed and technical rebuttals of the favorite ID arguments? (key references summarized here) Wouldn’t this be a minimal requirement, even if a publisher like Springer decided to publish pseudoscientists on the everyone-deserves-to-be-heard-even-cranks theory, or whatever?

As for “a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information”, a few posts from attendees tell us what actually happened – the conference wasn’t advertised, mainstream scientists with relevant expertise were not invited to attend, and participants were told several times to suppress their apparently otherwise overwhelming tendency to bring in their religion and do fundamentalist apologetics like they do in most other venues. It was basically just another fake ID “conference” where the ID fans get together and convince each other that they are staging a scientific revolution, all the while ignoring the actual science on how new genetic “information” originates.

Here is one of the “diverse group of scientists” who attended and reported on the event – Sid Galloway BS, M.Div., who I gather is the Director of the Good Shepherd Initiative at www.soulcare.org, which is devoted to “Education, Counseling, & Animal-Assisted Apologetics.” Here’s his summary of the meeting (or his talk?).

He’s apparently a former zookeeper who started an evangelical ministry based on animals. And hey, anything introducing the public to the animal kingdom has some positive virtues – it sounds a lot better than some of the evangelical ministries I’ve heard of. But it’s not exactly the sort of person that you would expect to be on the highly exclusive, invitees-only list for a real “scientific” meeting. But then again, animal-assisted apologetics is basically what creationism/ID is all about at bottom, anyway, so I guess it makes sense in a weird way.

150 Comments

In the spring of 2011, a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information.

Which when translated means “We rented a room from Cornell.”

I expect they were hoping that no one would know what “telic” meant (actually, the whole summary screams “ID”, but you have to have been in this business a while to recognize the code words).

Man I would sure like to see the data set that was used to generate those graphs. In particular, I would be interested in seeing exactly why the guy thinks that the explanatory power of ID has increased and exactly why he thinks the explanatory power of evolution has decreased. Perhaps he missed the entire “modern synthesis” thing, it doesn’t seem to show up on the graphs. Perhaps he missed the entire Evo-devo thing, it seems to not have affected the graphs at all. It’s almost like he just made the whole thing up. But it is published by a good firm, so how could that be?

Oh well, it looks like he just ignored all of the two million Google hits and all of the other literature as well. Didn’t the guy know anything? Didn’t he try to learn anything? Wait … what? Oh. Never mind.

I have had a very pleasant time publishing papers on evolutionary biology with Springer-Verlag and Elsevier:

Natural selection as a paradigm of opportunism

http://www.springerlink.com/content[…]613177m34r1/

An ancient frame-shifting event in the highly conserved KPNA gene family has undergone extensive compensation by natural selection in vertebrates

http://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc[…]264711000797

I hope to do more of the same thing over the years.

He he!

Sanford of “genetic entropy fame. Sewell of second law of thermodynamics fame. Dembski & Marks of “endogenous, exogenous, and active information fame. Abel of “spontaneous molecular chaos” and “Shannon uncertainty” fame.

These characters are so easy to take down. These papers will die where they lie; and lie they do.

ID/creationist authors may discover that getting what they wish for may not be as sweet as they think. Once that junk is out there, more scientists with knowledge will notice just how bad it is.

I notice that the cost of the Springer volume is a mere $179. At that price they won’t get too many individual sales, but university libraries will be pressured to buy the book. Springer seems to package sets of journals and volumes and offer them as blocks, so this one may be sold that way. My university’s library seems to be in some standoff with Springer, refusing to buy some of these packages. Unfortunately the result is that the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach is one of the ones we don’t subscribe to right now.

I do think our library should buy this volume. However I’d hope they catalog it under “theology”. (They probably won’t catalog it that way).

How convenient that their graphs depict an inverse relationship for science versus idiotic design. I wonder who drew thought that one up and how they substantiate the supposed data as well as the exponential rise in biological “information” that requires explaining! And yet the ID folks still have never defined their “theory.”

DavidK said:

How convenient that their graphs depict an inverse relationship for science versus idiotic design. I wonder who drew thought that one up and how they substantiate the supposed data as well as the exponential rise in biological “information” that requires explaining! And yet the ID folks still have never defined their “theory.”

Obviously, biology has been very successful at discovering more and more complexity, see it didn’t really exist until it was discovered. But, at the same time, it did a worse and worse job of explaining the findings. Cause, you know, that’s all biologists do, discover things they can’t explain. Well, at least that’s obviously what creationists think. Cause, you know, they have never explained a single thing.

Joe Felsenstein said:

I notice that the cost of the Springer volume is a mere $179. At that price they won’t get too many individual sales, but university libraries will be pressured to buy the book. Springer seems to package sets of journals and volumes and offer them as blocks, so this one may be sold that way. My university’s library seems to be in some standoff with Springer, refusing to buy some of these packages. Unfortunately the result is that the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach is one of the ones we don’t subscribe too right now.

I do think our library should buy this volume. However I’d hope they catalog it under “theology”. (They probably won’t catalog it that way).

Evolution: Education and Outreach is not a serious journal. It is political and not scientific in nature. The “research” articles have nothing to do with research. Perhaps you should subscribe to a journal that tries to address the problem of the origination of biological information because you seem to be struggling with understanding it. If a professor of genomics thinks genetic information is just sort of fitness state, American biology education is in crisis.

Historian Ronald Numbers has an account of Flood geology ‘pioneer’ George McCready Price having one of his papers published in the journal Pan-American Geologist during the 1930s. The Pan-American Geologist later went belly-up, with some feeling this demise was partly due to opening up to an armchair ‘scientist’ like Price.

DS said:

Man I would sure like to see the data set that was used to generate those graphs. In particular, I would be interested in seeing exactly why the guy thinks that the explanatory power of ID has increased and exactly why he thinks the explanatory power of evolution has decreased.

I believe there’s an even more fundamental problem with the graphs: how do you quantify “need to be explained” and “ability to explain”? And I am going to give myself a headache by trying to make sense of this.

You know what convinces me of the veracity of the graphs presented above? The obviously scientific, and independently measurable, metrics HI and LOW.

How telling is it that in the first graph, the line representing “Common Descent” intersects the line representing “Inheritance Laws” at a point that can only be interpolated as “Medium!”

Of course, the Darwin line STARTS OUT at Medium, then goes, according to the graph, “Hi”-er, then drops to Medium again, while the Mendel line starts “Low”, hits the Darwin line at “Medium” around 2010, then according to whatever “best guess” mathematical interpolation algorithm was used, scoots asymptotically to “Hi.” At the rate it’s going, it will pass “Hi” sometime around the letter “N” in “Now” and touch the face of God around the end of the upcoming election cycle. Can’t wait!

I notice that the cost of the Springer volume is a mere $179.

The goal of the authors here is undoubtedly to put creationism into a science-y looking package, with the overall objective of encouraging right wing politicians to keep writing anti-evolution bills.

The goal of Springer is to make money. The logically expected bulk orders from right wing think tanks will make this a relatively big seller, at least compared with superficially similar volumes.

harold said:

I notice that the cost of the Springer volume is a mere $179.

The goal of the authors here is undoubtedly to put creationism into a science-y looking package, with the overall objective of encouraging right wing politicians to keep writing anti-evolution bills.

The goal of Springer is to make money. The logically expected bulk orders from right wing think tanks will make this a relatively big seller, at least compared with superficially similar volumes.

The effluence of affluence.

DS said:

Man I would sure like to see the data set that was used to generate those graphs.

You need data to do graphs? I think not. MSPaint should be all you need.

duane.cynosure said:

You know what convinces me of the veracity of the graphs presented above? The obviously scientific, and independently measurable, metrics HI and LOW.

How telling is it that in the first graph, the line representing “Common Descent” intersects the line representing “Inheritance Laws” at a point that can only be interpolated as “Medium!”

Of course, the Darwin line STARTS OUT at Medium, then goes, according to the graph, “Hi”-er, then drops to Medium again, while the Mendel line starts “Low”, hits the Darwin line at “Medium” around 2010, then according to whatever “best guess” mathematical interpolation algorithm was used, scoots asymptotically to “Hi.” At the rate it’s going, it will pass “Hi” sometime around the letter “N” in “Now” and touch the face of God around the end of the upcoming election cycle. Can’t wait!

They had me at the exclamation point!

I had to scroll that graph off the top of the screen, because it was making me more and more ignorant the longer I looked at it.

DS said:

Obviously, biology has been very successful at discovering more and more complexity, see it didn’t really exist until it was discovered. But, at the same time, it did a worse and worse job of explaining the findings. Cause, you know, that’s all biologists do, discover things they can’t explain. Well, at least that’s obviously what creationists think. Cause, you know, they have never explained a single thing.

Yep, that’s where the anti-evolutionists have us by the balls. They know that we know, in our heart of hearts, that Darwinian biology is just stamp collecting without a unifying theory. That’s how they’ve got us trumped, they have a theory that can explain absolutely everything. The theory of A WizardGod Did It.

I wrote to John Sanford last summer to ask him to clarify whether he thought that his argument led inevitably to a Young Earth view, or whether he considered an alternative explanation. He replied and gave me permission to post his reply at UD. The link is here:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/evol[…]mment-383856

I’ve been in contact with one of the editors at Springer, so they’re now certainly aware of the situation.

Bob O’H said:

I’ve been in contact with one of the editors at Springer, so they’re now certainly aware of the situation.

I was surprised that the usual suspects kept silent so long, but now I see that they feared reactions like yours! I’d like to read Marks’s et al. contributions, especially on their concept of information, but I won’t buy the volume - and I won’t ask the our library to buy it: the money can be spent so much better.

I teach at Cornell (cell biology, evolution, and physiology) and I don’t remember anything about this conference. Considering the ID “heavy hitters” who supposedly attended, I’m curious when and where it was held, who attended, and how (and to whom) it was publicized. It’s entirely possible that it didn’t actually happen at Cornell at all, but that John Sanford’s extremely peripheral connection to Cornell (he’s listed as a “courtesy appointment” at the Geneva Experimental Station for having invented the “gene gun” but hasn’t actually taught there for years) was used to make it seem as if it was held here. Was there actually a conference in a physical location in a building at the Ithaca campus which was attended by all these people, or did they contribute to a volume that simply claimed there was such a conference, when it actually occurred online over John Sanford’s computer? Just curious…

Did a Google search and discovered that the conference was NOT sponsored or endorsed by any department at the university. Rather, it was held somewhere with a Cornell connection (I haven’t been able to find out in what building it was held, or even if it was at the Ithaca campus). Furthermore, NO ONE was allowed to attend who was not specifically invited by the organizers. Finally, a significant fraction of the participants refused to have their names listed, either in the list of attendees or in the proceedings of the conference. Many of the readers here have been to a genuine scientific conference – how does all of this square with your experience?

Allen MacNeill said:

I teach at Cornell (cell biology, evolution, and physiology) and I don’t remember anything about this conference. Considering the ID “heavy hitters” who supposedly attended, I’m curious when and where it was held, who attended, and how (and to whom) it was publicized. It’s entirely possible that it didn’t actually happen at Cornell at all, but that John Sanford’s extremely peripheral connection to Cornell (he’s listed as a “courtesy appointment” at the Geneva Experimental Station for having invented the “gene gun” but hasn’t actually taught there for years) was used to make it seem as if it was held here. Was there actually a conference in a physical location in a building at the Ithaca campus which was attended by all these people, or did they contribute to a volume that simply claimed there was such a conference, when it actually occurred online over John Sanford’s computer? Just curious…

Too funny! I used the prototype gene gun when I was in college. My family has a place on Seneca Lake - I lived there in the summer and worked for the Plant Pathology department at the Experiment Station. We used the gene gun to try to deliver a silkworm gene into apple tissue to confer resistance to bacteria.

Finally, a quick note on the date of the so-called conference: 7 June 2011. Anyone from Cornell would know that this is in between commencement (always held on Memorial Day weekend) and the beginning of the 3-week summer session, which starts about two weeks later. In other words, the campus is completely deserted during the first week in June (not even any sports camps until public schools recess for the summer), so they could have held this almost anywhere and nobody would have noticed. Sounds to me like yet another attempt to game the system…

Just ran a search at the Cornell University website (http://www.cornell.edu/) using “nature and origin of biological information 2011” and got no hits at all – not one. Apparently no one at Cornell has any record that this conference actually happened. Did it, or is this just another ID scamfest?

Allen MacNeill said:

Did a Google search and discovered that the conference was NOT sponsored or endorsed by any department at the university. Rather, it was held somewhere with a Cornell connection (I haven’t been able to find out in what building it was held, or even if it was at the Ithaca campus). Furthermore, NO ONE was allowed to attend who was not specifically invited by the organizers. Finally, a significant fraction of the participants refused to have their names listed, either in the list of attendees or in the proceedings of the conference. Many of the readers here have been to a genuine scientific conference – how does all of this square with your experience?

For the conferences I attend …

1) I don’t think a list of attendees is typically published – only the paper titles and authors (presenters and co-authors).

2) The sponsoring organization (AIChE, ACS, etc.) casts the net far and wide to get as many people as possible to attend. There are typically some invited presentations, but the vast majority of the presentation are not specifically invited by the organizing committee, etc.

Just ran a search at the Cornell events calendar and got this: “We couldn’t find ‘nature and origin of biological information’” Curiouser and curiouser…

Allen MacNeill said:

Just ran a search at the Cornell events calendar and got this: “We couldn’t find ‘nature and origin of biological information’” Curiouser and curiouser…

Furthermore, NO ONE was allowed to attend who was not specifically invited by the organizers. Finally, a significant fraction of the participants refused to have their names listed, either in the list of attendees or in the proceedings of the conference.

Many, many thanks for this.

One major goal of this “conference” and publication combination is, likely, to create the false impression, for political and legal purposes, that ID/creationism is a serious scientific endeavor.

I decided to run down the small chance that it might have been held in the Weil Cornell Medical Center in New York City. I can confirm that it was held in Ithica. The Google Maps link simply popped up when I googled “biological information new perspectives”. The table of events seems to suggest that campus housing was involved. The other two links I am supplying here reveal the religious and political nature of the meeting, as well as confirming the Ithaca campus as the claimed location. It did not take long to find this information.

http://housing.cornell.edu/campusli[…]ageid=101765

http://www.soulcare.org/gsinew_arti[…]ference.html

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U[…]a52cc54e95e5

http://www.mountaindaily.com/content/1196/

From this I particularly like :

Interestingly, there was a notable absence of participants from Cornell or the Ithaca area. It appears very likely that many who might have otherwise have attended were afraid of negative professional consequences arising from being associated in any way with this event of its participants..

But Allen MacNeill said:

I teach at Cornell (cell biology, evolution, and physiology) and I don’t remember anything about this conference.

So come on Allen, fess up. You knew all about it and were too scared to go.

Peter: Popper was incorrect if he said what you claim about protein translation. Though many proteins are involved in the ribosome, its core is RNA, and if you carefully digest all the protein out, its RNA core will still perform translation, though not as well as with an intact ribosome. There are reasons to suppose that aminoacyl synthetases likewise are later additions that merely improve the fidelity of translation. Once again, we can see pathways by which irreducible complexity can evolve through standard Darwinian mechanisms.

If you want to talk about panspermia, maybe you should head back to talk.origins rather than trying to hijack a thread here.

John said: If you claim to be convinced of the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution’s explanatory power, then why are you wasting your time with what philosopher Philip Kitcher has described charitably as “dead science”, Intelligent Design?

Because the two things have nothing to do with each other: my design hypothesis ends where the one Kitcher described begins. That is, with the first true cells on earth.

And I hardly think I’m wasting my time with it. It has gotten me to do a lot of thinking about astronomy and stellar evolution, as well as methods of propulsion for space probes that allow speeds of up to 1/10 c. Crick and Orgel apparently didn’t know about these methods, but I do. And the simplest is already within reach of our technology. Ever hear of Project Orion?

Why the skepticism (“If you claim…”)? Is it that you’ve seen so many examples of counterfeit sincerity that you cannot believe the real thing when you see it? You can ask John Harshman about me–we have many arguments, but we go back a long way and he can reassure you that he hasn’t seen anything from me that is inconsistent with what I’ve written here so far.

Naturally, I don’t talk about panspermia in sci.bio.paleontology. We trade information about developments in paleontology, and argue about systematics. I want a dual classification system, the Linnean and the cladistic, sort of like some libraries being on the Dewey Decimal system and others on the Library of Congress system. On the other hand, John is what I call a cladophile–someone who will not tolerate anything except clades in any classification system.

On the other hand, John is what I call a cladophile–someone who will not tolerate anything except clades in any classification system.

Or, in other words, I’m a systematist in the 21st Century. Ernst Mayr is deceased. So is Leigh Van Valen. Today it’s cladists all the way down, and that’s a good thing.

But yes, Peter has always seemed sincere in his odd form of ID, which is “the aliens did it, and *they* evolved naturally”. Still, Peter, stop hijacking the thread.

Nice to see you here, John. I just now got done telling John [I don’t know his surname] about us.

John Harshman said:

Peter: Popper was incorrect if he said what you claim about protein translation.

Well, what he wrote could be construed that way. But it could also be construed differently. He talked about things being coded into the DNA, but then rRNA is coded into it too.

Though many proteins are involved in the ribosome, its core is RNA, and if you carefully digest all the protein out, its RNA core will still perform translation, though not as well as with an intact ribosome. There are reasons to suppose that aminoacyl synthetases likewise are later additions that merely improve the fidelity of translation.

Of course they are. But how would a class of about twenty highly disparate and almost zero-tolerance-for-mutation enzymes come into existence and completely supplant their (hypothesized) ribozyme precursors in a reasonable amount of time?

If you want to talk about panspermia, maybe you should head back to talk.origins rather than trying to hijack a thread here.

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu. As to hijacking–it was pretty much replaced by the other thread by the time I got here:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/201[…]n-sprin.html

Peter Nyikos said:

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu.

It is impossible not to concede that because “ID” is such a nebulous concept, but I think your version will need a Gazebo adding to the Big Tent.

If I understand you correctly, your hypothesis seems to be that intelligent life based on a much simpler biochemistry evolved on a planet where bacteria were much less mobile. This intelligent life form then invented irreducibly complex designs for the biochemistry of what was to become terrestrial life and the bacterial flagellum, and seeded the earth or galaxy or local universe with it. Then out we pop after four billion years! I was going to say your version of ID is simply a replacement for abiogenesis, but it is not even that. It is filling one gap in our understanding. Even if true, it would affect a few minutes (even only seconds) of the science curriculum for all but the most specialist science courses, unless you are also proposing the designers pop back occasionally to add other irreducibly complex bits like blood clotting factors. It would, by definition, exclude Creationism, and requires that intelligent life can evolve without divine guidance*, but I think most Christians would still find a way of accommodating a God of Far Fewer Gaps into their theology.

*Assuming that you accept the original intelligent aliens arose without divine guidance.

Peter Nyikos said:

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu. […]

If you want to propose something completely different and call it “intelligent design”, maybe you can create a personal connotation that isn’t counterfactual. But ID as it was originated and used is a term applied to “two-model” arguments and a subset of retooled “creation science” religious antievolution arguments. If you did have something new, I have no idea why you would want to refer to it by the name of a well-documented deceptive practice. Unfortunately for the specific case, the “intelligent design” creationists (IDC) have already floated the “God the Designer could be an alien” conjecture, and thus that’s not new or different.

So, until you do come up with something new and different (hint: not something documented to be in use by IDC, “creation science”, “scientific creationism”, or plain creationism), I think (hint: this is my opinion) anyone encountering a pre-existing argument from IDC et al. (hint: we know what arguments they have been making) is well-justified in noting an established identity with creationism (hint: “cdesign proponentsists”) that is not vitiated simply because it is you who now chooses to propagate it. Mouthing the same old, moldy religious antievolution ensemble of arguments is not the only way that creationism can be recognized, but so far it is an entirely sufficient method.

John Harshman said:

On the other hand, John is what I call a cladophile–someone who will not tolerate anything except clades in any classification system.

Or, in other words, I’m a systematist in the 21st Century. Ernst Mayr is deceased. So is Leigh Van Valen. Today it’s cladists all the way down, and that’s a good thing.

But yes, Peter has always seemed sincere in his odd form of ID, which is “the aliens did it, and *they* evolved naturally”. Still, Peter, stop hijacking the thread.

Am in full agreement with you on both points, John. John, is Peter ALWAYS this exasperating? I have to see what your online correspondence pertaining to paleobiology and systematics is like.

Peter Nyikos said:

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu.

I see no need for me to “concede that point”, when eminent philosophers like Philip Kitcher and Robert Pennock and historians like Ronald Numbers, among others, have stated that Inteligent Design IS creationism. And given that, like other branches of “scientific creationism”, Intelligent Design has yet - and will never - produce research demonstrating that it is a viable - and better - alternative to the Modern Synthesis in accounting for the current composition, structure and history of Planet Earth’s biodiversity, it should not be taken seriously by anyone, period, as a “scientific theory” capable of producing research-quality testable hypotheses (The best I have seen has been from Stephen Meyer in his “Signature in the Cell”, and his “tests” are rather ludicrous, especially with respect to paleobiology and systematics.).

I think you should bid this thread adieu, effectively immediately.

@ John Harshman - I got home late from a friend’s party and woke up too early. I meant to say this:

“John, is Peter ALWAYS this exasperating? I HATE to see what your online discussions pertaining to paleobiology and systematics are like.”

John said: is Peter ALWAYS this exasperating?

Short answer: yes. Then again, I find you almost as exasperating, so you may have a different experience.

John Harshman said:

John said: is Peter ALWAYS this exasperating?

Short answer: yes. Then again, I find you almost as exasperating, so you may have a different experience.

It sounds as though you and Peter have a mutual admiration society ongoing over at sci.bio.paleontology. I’ll leave you both in each others’ company then. As for “exasperating”, I will plead the Fifth regarding my attitude with regards to our discussions here at PT.

John said: It sounds as though you and Peter have a mutual admiration society ongoing over at sci.bio.paleontology. I’ll leave you both in each others’ company then. As for “exasperating”, I will plead the Fifth regarding my attitude with regards to our discussions here at PT.

Hey, you asked a question and I answered. You don’t have to get all huffy. Peter, if you’re reading this, welcome to the world of John Kwok.

John Kwok said:

Peter Nyikos said:

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu.

I see no need for me to “concede that point”, when eminent philosophers like Philip Kitcher and Robert Pennock and historians like Ronald Numbers, among others, have stated that Inteligent Design IS creationism.

This goes well beyond an Argument from Authority Fallacy. What you have done is to ignore the fact, explicitly stated by myself, that the directed panspermia version of Intelligent Design is disjoint from the other version, which is what the existing literature by what you call IDiots is all about.

And given that, like other branches of “scientific creationism”, Intelligent Design has yet - and will never - produce research demonstrating that it is a viable - and better - alternative to the Modern Synthesis in accounting for the current composition, structure and history of Planet Earth’s biodiversity,

You are just repeating your irrelevant mantra here, already addressed by me. The Modern Synthesis does not apply to abiogenesis, as the anti-creationists of talk.origins have long acknowledged.

it should not be taken seriously by anyone, period, as a “scientific theory” capable of producing research-quality testable hypotheses (The best I have seen has been from Stephen Meyer in his “Signature in the Cell”, and his “tests” are rather ludicrous, especially with respect to paleobiology and systematics.).

The most charitable interpretation I can put to this screed of yours is that I did, indeed, guess correctly that you insist that the word-pair “Intelligent Design” should NEVER be applied to a situation like that described with the words “specially designed” in the following passage:

“The senders could well have developed wholly new strains of microorganisms, specially designed to cope with prebiotic conditions, though whether it would have been better to try to combine all the desirable properties within one single type of organism or to send many different organisms is not completely clear.” –Nobel Laureate biochemist Francis Crick in: Life Itself, Simon and Schuster, 1981

Crick was describing the hypothesis of directed panspermia, which he developed with Leslie Orgel, and which I have been advocating here.

I think you should bid this thread adieu, effectively immediately.

No, I will not give you that satisfaction. You have done nothing to earn it.

John Harshman said:

John said: It sounds as though you and Peter have a mutual admiration society ongoing over at sci.bio.paleontology. I’ll leave you both in each others’ company then. As for “exasperating”, I will plead the Fifth regarding my attitude with regards to our discussions here at PT.

Hey, you asked a question and I answered. You don’t have to get all huffy. Peter, if you’re reading this, welcome to the world of John Kwok.

I’m not getting “all huffy” John. I have found you rather exasperating too, so it’s mutual. I see Peter has opted to continue hijacking this thread and I think I’ll ignore him for now, except to note that he is mistaken in arguing on behalf of Intelligent Design for the origin of life, as well as for the history of life on this planet. As I have noted countless times, one could regard the possibility of Klingons as the most plausible Intelligent Designer(s). Indeed, given the low threshold of evidence which Intelligent Design IDiots have that they claim supports the existence of an Intelligent Designer (who is G_D), then by their standards there is more proof for Intelligent Design via some form of Klingon Cosmology for these reasons:

1) We see Klingons in the movies and on television, so they must be real. 2) An official Klingon Language Institute exists. 3) Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible have been translated into Klingon. 4) Religious ceremonies, including marriages, have been performed via spoken Klingon.

I have yet to see from any Intelligent Design “scientist” any substantial proof for their “scientific theory” that has as much evidence in support for it than I have seen for Klingon Cosmology (BTW I believe that is among the reasons why Ken Miller once suggested to me that Mikey Behe ought to write the definitive textbook on Klingon biochemistry.).

John Harshman said:

John said: is Peter ALWAYS this exasperating?

Short answer: yes. Then again, I find you almost as exasperating, so you may have a different experience.

Now, John, be fair. Have I ever exasperated you while talking about paleobiology (as opposed to systematics, and various personal disputes in talk.origins)?

John Harshman said:

John said: It sounds as though you and Peter have a mutual admiration society ongoing over at sci.bio.paleontology. I’ll leave you both in each others’ company then. As for “exasperating”, I will plead the Fifth regarding my attitude with regards to our discussions here at PT.

Hey, you asked a question and I answered. You don’t have to get all huffy. Peter, if you’re reading this, welcome to the world of John Kwok.

Does he usually display a MMIMUDCMWTF [My Mind Is Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts] attitude like he’s been doing with me?

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

Peter Nyikos said:

I did want to make the point here that ID does not necessarily have to have anything to do with creationism. If people here would concede that point, I can bid this thread adieu. […]

If you want to propose something completely different and call it “intelligent design”,

Completely different from what? What I’ve been proposing certainly fits the literal meaning of “intelligent design”. The extent of the design varies greatly with the sub-hypotheses: modest if the panspermists had essentially the same biochemical makeup as ourselves; considerable if their genetic code involved far fewer (say, half a dozen) amino acids than ours; and very radical if they had the ribozyme-based biochemisty that I outlined when I told John Kwok to “chew on this.”

maybe you can create a personal connotation that isn’t counterfactual. But ID as it was originated and used is a term applied to “two-model” arguments and a subset of retooled “creation science” religious antievolution arguments.

What do you mean by “two-model” arguments? Either “blind” natural forces, or supernatural ones, with no room for naturally occurring intelligent designers? I’ve seen none of that with the new breed of ID people yet; they seem to be scrupulous as to drawing no conclusions about the nature of the intelligent designer.

I am only going an extra step and carefully delineating what sort of intelligent designers I hypothesize, and what designs I believe they could be responsible for. For instance, I strongly disbelieve that earth was visited often enough for the aliens to have any significant effect on the course of evolution from the first chordate on.

In fact, I tend to doubt that earth has been personally visited by aliens in the first place; interstellar distances are so great that any expedition would, I think, be confined to a few light years. What I hypothesize is delivery of prokaryotes and possibly some very primitive eukaryotes [with a much smaller genome than those of any we know today] ca. 4 billion years ago, from a distance of hundreds of light years.

If you did have something new, I have no idea why you would want to refer to it by the name of a well-documented deceptive practice.

I’ve seen little of that documentation. Take the conference and would-be Springer book that this thread is all about. Have you visited the update-thread yet? Comparatively few authors have been identified, and my challenge there as to which of the authors I named is a creationist has not been met except in the case of Werner Gitt. And he happens to be the only one I listed for whom we do not have even the title of his talk.

The titles for the others certainly don’t hint at creationism. Can you tell me why those talks would fall under the rubric of bogus science?

Unfortunately for the specific case, the “intelligent design” creationists (IDC) have already floated the “God the Designer could be an alien” conjecture, and thus that’s not new or different.

Yeah, but have they taken it seriously like I have, and fleshed it out? Have they excluded certain “structures that pose a formidable challenge for Darwinian evolution” like I have?

Mouthing the same old, moldy religious antievolution ensemble of arguments is not the only way that creationism can be recognized, but so far it is an entirely sufficient method.

Not according to John Kwok. As far as he is concerned, anyone who advances any hypothesis bearing the label “Intelligent Design” is automatically assumed to be a creationist trying to undermine the Modern Synthesis.

By the way, Wesley, I returned to talk.origins in December 2010 and am pleased to see that the newsgroup has not deteriorated significantly; in some respects it has improved. For instance, Howard Hershey has cleaned up his act to the point where I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones even where he is concerned. We’ve even joined forces against someone who styles himself as “Dr. Dr. Kleinman.”

So, are you planning to return to talk.origins any time in the future? [Be forewarned: Tony Pagano still mentions you from time to time.]

Peter Nyikos said: Not according to John Kwok. As far as he is concerned, anyone who advances any hypothesis bearing the label “Intelligent Design” is automatically assumed to be a creationist trying to undermine the Modern Synthesis.

I honestly don’t see much difference between you and Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers Mikey Behe, Bill Dembski, David Klinghoffer, Casey Luskin, Stephen Meyer, Scott Minnich, Johnny “I Love Reverend Moon” Wells, and the rest of their pathetic cabal of “Fellows and Senior Fellows”. But Intelligent Design IS NOT SCIENCE, PERIOD, no matter how much you wish it to be so.

BTW I’m not committed exclusively to the Modern Synthesis, agreeing with some, like, for example, Niles Eldredge and Massimo Pigliucci, who think we need an Extended Modern Synthesis. But for now The Modern Synthesis is the best scientific theory we have to account for biological evolution; Intelligent Design doesn’t even remotely come close. Indeed, we have much better proof for the reality of Klingon Cosmology than we do for Intelligent Design cretinism.

Peter,

You insist on redefining terms to suit your fancy, yet you have no appreciable grounding in the topic (hint: not understanding what a “two-model” argument is when it was a major issue in McLean v. Arkansas). I’m perfectly happy to note that your connotations are connotations, bizarre to boot, and ignore a documented history that you don’t care to discover before making your pronouncements. Your penchant for nitpicking pettifoggery is, frankly, not worth that much of my time. Nor do I count your other inquiries as sincere or trying to remediate your ignorance productive.

My ISP chose to drop Usenet services years ago. I have recently had cause to investigate the possibility of switching ISPs only to discover that I have no good alternatives at my residence.

John said:

Peter Nyikos said: Not according to John Kwok. As far as he is concerned, anyone who advances any hypothesis bearing the label “Intelligent Design” is automatically assumed to be a creationist trying to undermine the Modern Synthesis.

I honestly don’t see much difference between you and Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers Mikey Behe, Bill Dembski, David Klinghoffer, Casey Luskin, Stephen Meyer, Scott Minnich, Johnny “I Love Reverend Moon” Wells, and the rest of their pathetic cabal of “Fellows and Senior Fellows”.

I see you are still firmly in MMIMUDCMWTF mode with emphasis on F for facts. You obviously pay a lot more attention to your intuitions than on any observable objective facts you’ve seen in my performance here.

But Intelligent Design IS NOT SCIENCE, PERIOD, no matter how much you wish it to be so.

The wishful thinking here is in your repetition of this silly prognostication, with nothing but the say-so of a couple of philosophers [whom you may be misrepresenting for all I know] to back you up. What sort of scientific research credentials do they have, by the way?

BTW I’m not committed exclusively to the Modern Synthesis, agreeing with some, like, for example, Niles Eldredge and Massimo Pigliucci, who think we need an Extended Modern Synthesis. But for now The Modern Synthesis is the best scientific theory we have to account for biological evolution;

Well, there you have it: you keep harping on biological evolution when my interest is in pre-biological evolution (biochemical evolution, if you will).

I take a scientist’s attitude towards it too: if anyone comes up with detailed scenarios that make the occurrence of life based on a biochemistry as complicated as ours considerably more than a one-in-a-galaxy occurrence, I would count it as evidence against earth life being a result of directed panspermia. If it turned out to be as likely as Carl Sagan thought it was in Cosmos I’d consider it as falsifying my hypothesis.

Intelligent Design doesn’t even remotely come close. Indeed, we have much better proof for the reality of Klingon Cosmology than we do for Intelligent Design cretinism.

I never claimed otherwise, where biological evolution is concerned. That is something I don’t think your logic-proof mind has processed yet.

By the way, do you realize how limited in scope Judge Jones’s actual order was in the last page of his huge Opinion of the Court in the Dover case? Clue: pay special attention to the use of “as an alternative to”.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

Peter,

You insist on redefining terms to suit your fancy, yet you have no appreciable grounding in the topic (hint: not understanding what a “two-model” argument is when it was a major issue in McLean v. Arkansas).

Wesley, I am convinced that creationism is doomed to failure, so I pay very little attention to these technicalities. The only court case I have made a study of is the Dover case, and the only reason I got interested in that is that Behe, the only ID person from whom I’ve read more than a few pages, was involved; and I see that his performance there has been misrepresented almost as flagrantly as John Kwok has misrepresented me.

By the way, you realize John distorted what Behe said about astrology, don’t you?

I’m perfectly happy to note that your connotations are connotations, bizarre to boot,

I have no idea what you are babbling about here, unless it is my common-sense use of the term “intelligent design” in contrast to your elaborate and badly under-described connotations of the term.

and ignore a documented history that you don’t care to discover before making your pronouncements.

I’ve seen enough flagrant distortions just in the Opinion of the Court in Dover to keep me occupied for a long time to come. Would you like to find me a forum where I can tell you about them?

Your penchant for nitpicking pettifoggery is, frankly, not worth that much of my time. Nor do I count your other inquiries as sincere or trying to remediate your ignorance productive.

As I told you, Howard Hershey seems to have matured in the decade I was gone from talk.origins. You, on the other hand, seem to have regressed.

My ISP chose to drop Usenet services years ago. I have recently had cause to investigate the possibility of switching ISPs only to discover that I have no good alternatives at my residence.

My dear fellow! Don’t you know that you can access Usenet through Google? That’s what I’ve been using since November 2008, and that’s what the majority of participants there are using. If you use Gmail it should be easy for you to sign up to post to Usenet. And you can read it using ordinary urls. Here is the one for talk.origins:

http://groups.google.com/group/talk[…]s/topics?lnk

Peter Nyikos said:

BTW I’m not committed exclusively to the Modern Synthesis, agreeing with some, like, for example, Niles Eldredge and Massimo Pigliucci, who think we need an Extended Modern Synthesis. But for now The Modern Synthesis is the best scientific theory we have to account for biological evolution;

Well, there you have it: you keep harping on biological evolution when my interest is in pre-biological evolution (biochemical evolution, if you will).

I take a scientist’s attitude towards it too: if anyone comes up with detailed scenarios that make the occurrence of life based on a biochemistry as complicated as ours considerably more than a one-in-a-galaxy occurrence, I would count it as evidence against earth life being a result of directed panspermia. If it turned out to be as likely as Carl Sagan thought it was in Cosmos I’d consider it as falsifying my hypothesis.

Intelligent Design doesn’t even remotely come close. Indeed, we have much better proof for the reality of Klingon Cosmology than we do for Intelligent Design cretinism.

I never claimed otherwise, where biological evolution is concerned. That is something I don’t think your logic-proof mind has processed yet.

By the way, do you realize how limited in scope Judge Jones’s actual order was in the last page of his huge Opinion of the Court in the Dover case? Clue: pay special attention to the use of “as an alternative to”.

All of your comments (including those I have omitted in this - and hopefully last - reply) demonstrate that you are truly no different than your Dishonesty Institute “colleagues” whom you criticize. Therefore, IMHO you are truly a mendacious intellectual pornographer (An assessment which seems to be borne out by Wesley Elsberry’s harsh assessment of you.).

To say that you are interested in pre-biological evolution is nonsense. The word evolution has a clearly defined definition in biology from a scientific perspective; the only parallel I can think of is if you wish to discuss stellar evolution in cosmology (And that may be an apt comparison since I learned years ago from an American Museum of Natural History astrophysicist - no, not Neil de Grasse Tyson - that he and his colleagues have used the same equations developed by population ecologists in analyzing and interpreting population growth.).

As for the “theory of panspermia”, it is merely a hypothesis that however interesting, has not been subjected yet to a rigorous scientific test, simply because there is no data. Until then, it is as much a “hypothesis” as the Kwok-Roddenberry Intelligent Design hypothesis (KRID) in which the primordial Earth was seeded with life by Klingon starship crews that had travelled backward in time using the James T. Kirk slingshot effect. Since KRID has no potential data for testing, it is as much an example of scientific fantasy as panspermia IMHO.

I endorse completely Wesley’s commentary directed toward you. Having been with NCSE at the time of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, I know that his knowledge of the scientific and legal reasoning behind Judge Jones’ decision is sound and beyond reproach (unlike yours). And yes, while I am aware that Jones’ ruling only applied to his district, it has been cited since then as unofficial legal precedent in similar cases around the country (Cases which have been won virtually in all instances by those who recognize what is - and what isn’t - valid mainstream science; in plain English by those who accept the scientific validity of biological evolution and reject Intelligent Design as religiously-inspired pseduoscientific rubbish (Though I would go further and label Intelligent Design as a sterling example of mendacious intellectual pornography.). If a case similar to Kitzmiller vs. Dover is ever heard before the justices of the United States Supreme Court, I am certain that they would have to accept as well establishe legal precedents, not only their prior rulings (all against “scientific creationism”) but also Judge Jones’s.

Peter: “Would you like to find me a forum where I can tell you about them?”

You can set up a free blog to spout whatever twaddle you want to whoever feels moved to listen at WordPress.com.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

My ISP chose to drop Usenet services years ago. I have recently had cause to investigate the possibility of switching ISPs only to discover that I have no good alternatives at my residence.

Hey, why not just let Nyikos and Kwok beat on each other in peace?

But you don’t have to switch ISPs to find usenet. Google – urk - Groups is one alternative, though an unpalatable one. There are also free or very cheap usenet services that have nothing to do with ISPs. Case in point: my ISP dropped usenet some time ago, but I get the feed from Giganews for $3 per month.

Tony Pagano misses you, by the way. You are in fact his signal triumph, since he drove you away from TO single-handedly. He constantly brings you up, just before he runs away again.

John Harshman said: Hey, why not just let Nyikos and Kwok beat on each other in peace?

Only in your dreams, John. I’ll let you two sanctimonious twits dish it out over at sci.bio.paleontology without any encouragement from me.

Rolf said:

PN has an obsession with directed panspermia, a subject I rate along with Yeti, Bigfoot, UFO abductions, God of the gaps and all the rest. It is just a vaste of time.

Do you have any reasons for thinking so besides your visceral distaste for anything involving “space aliens”?

I can sympathize with this distate, which John Kwok evidently shares, what with his puerile satire about Klingons. I remember how off-putting I found a brief rash of articles in popular magazines in the 1960’s about a new “scientific hypothesis” that we are evolved from garbage left behind by casual visitors from another solar system.

As a firm believer back in those days of the “Mother Earth did it easily” hypothesis, I had a quasi-religious devotion to the idea that we are legitimate children of earth.

But, unlike John Kwok and (apparently) Wesley Elsberry, I am open minded to arguments that go beyond mere speculation, and so Crick and Orgel’s hypothesis found a receptive reader in me.

So I ask you: what evidence do you have that abiogenesis took place here on earth?

Peter Nyikos seems determined to hijack this thread. Nick, I was wondering if you can send his comments to the BW please. I think that’s a more important locale for his rather pathetic musings regarding the “science” of Intelligent Design cretinism.

John said:

Peter Nyikos seems determined to hijack this thread. Nick, I was wondering if you can send his comments to the BW please. I think that’s a more important locale for his rather pathetic musings regarding the “science” of Intelligent Design cretinism.

How revealing. Unable to refute my comments detailing just how scientific my position is, you resort to advocating censorship. You are a living exemplar of the kind of person Sid Galloway wrote about in the site Nick referenced in his article:

When a particular science subject becomes “off-limits” for such challenge, then it is no longer merely a science debate but has then become a political and ideological conflict between opposing worldview presuppositions. As Dr. Kuhn brilliantly describes in his book, such an interim period of debate sadly often degenerates to ad hominem name-calling especially by supporters of the old paradigm.

http://www.soulcare.org/gsinew_arti[…]ference.html

“merely” does not apply in your case: you give every indication that you have become a political animal, temperamentally unsuited for rational discourse.

Peter Nyikos the delusional IDiot barfed:

John said:

Peter Nyikos seems determined to hijack this thread. Nick, I was wondering if you can send his comments to the BW please. I think that’s a more important locale for his rather pathetic musings regarding the “science” of Intelligent Design cretinism.

How revealing. Unable to refute my comments detailing just how scientific my position is, you resort to advocating censorship. You are a living exemplar of the kind of person Sid Galloway wrote about in the site Nick referenced in his article:

When a particular science subject becomes “off-limits” for such challenge, then it is no longer merely a science debate but has then become a political and ideological conflict between opposing worldview presuppositions. As Dr. Kuhn brilliantly describes in his book, such an interim period of debate sadly often degenerates to ad hominem name-calling especially by supporters of the old paradigm.

http://www.soulcare.org/gsinew_arti[…]ference.html

“merely” does not apply in your case: you give every indication that you have become a political animal, temperamentally unsuited for rational discourse.

This is a most insightful observation about your own present state of mind:

“…you give every indication that you have become a political animal, temperamentally unsuited for rational discourse.”

I’m only interested in valid science, Nyikos. Not the absurd ramblings of someone who clearly knows nothing about biology and is incapable of having any kind of rational discourse with anyone here in PT, including John Harshman.

John said:

Peter Nyikos the delusional IDiot barfed:

The juvenile language of the above taunt belies John’s claim at the end that he is “only interested in valid science.” It appears safe to say that valid psychology is of no practical interest to him.

But his behavior all through this thread also shows no real interest in science. Instead, his forte seems to be the philosophy of science, which he has turned into an ideology by, e.g.,demanding that words like “evolution” be confined to uses that HE is familiar with, and making claims that the undocumented opinions of this or that philosopher of science somehow are forever to be beyond challenge.

How revealing. Unable to refute my comments detailing just how scientific my position is, you resort to advocating censorship. You are a living exemplar of the kind of person Sid Galloway wrote about in the site Nick referenced in his article:

“When a particular science subject becomes ‘off-limits’ for such challenge, then it is no longer merely a science debate but has then become a political and ideological conflict between opposing worldview presuppositions. As Dr. Kuhn brilliantly describes in his book, such an interim period of debate sadly often degenerates to ad hominem name-calling especially by supporters of the old paradigm.”

http://www.soulcare.org/gsinew_arti[…]ference.html

“merely” does not apply in your case: you give every indication that you have become a political animal, temperamentally unsuited for rational discourse.

This is a most insightful observation about your own present state of mind:

“…you give every indication that you have become a political animal, temperamentally unsuited for rational discourse.”

I was, of course, referring to indications that have been posted to this thread. If John can point us to indications running in the opposite direction, I’m willing to amend the above assessment.

I’m only interested in valid science, Nyikos. Not the absurd ramblings of someone who clearly knows nothing about biology and is incapable of having any kind of rational discourse with anyone here in PT, including John Harshman.

“clearly knows nothing about biology” reveals far more about John than he seems to realize. A person interested in rational discourse would not make such a totally undocumentable claim.

If he were to read the latest posts to sci.bio.paleontology by myself and John, he would see the falsity of his claim. But more importantly, he has no evidence at all for this benighted claim besides my usage of “evolution” not fitting his Procrustean Bed.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on February 27, 2012 12:27 PM.

Argema mimosae was the previous entry in this blog.

Red Lynx is the next entry in this blog.

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

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter