Privileged Planet: The fallout starts


Gonzalez and Richards have posted a response to some of the objections by Kyler Kuehn raised to their Privileged Planet argument.

While I intend to address in more detail Gonzalez et al’s claims in the near future (I am recovering from a nasty cold) I would like to comment on some of their claims directed at Kyler Kuehn

The authors comment how Kyler Kuehn presented his arguments during the 2003 ASA meeting but then continue:

But Kuehn has since posted essentially the same critical response online, and presented on the subject at at least one public conference. Thus, a brief response is appropriate.

Kyler Kuehn’s response has been online for quite some time. I am not sure as to which public conference the authors are refering but since I used Kyler Kuehn’s excellent arguments in my rebuttals of the Privileged Planet I feel partially responsible for these “accusations”. If Kyler Kuehn’s posting of his powerpoint is a reason for rebuttal then why did Gonzalez and Richardson wait until now? The webpage mentions that it was ‘Last Updated by Kyler Kuehn, August 11, 2003 ‘

Did Kyler Kuehn post his powerpoint presentation as well as the link to the Privileged Planet argument he was addressing only recently? Did Kyler Kuehn present his response at at least one public conference? It would be helpful if these issues are resolved. Especially relevant since Gonzalez and Richards blame, incorrectly imho, Kuehn of limiting his argument to their original claims.

In chapter 16 of The Privileged Planet, we discuss fifteen possible objections to our argument. These are the fifteen strongest objections we could think of. Any fair criticism, then, should first take account of our responses to these objections. Kyler Kuehn’s objections don’t do this.

And yet Kyler Kuehn’s rebuttal clearly limited itself to the online version of the Privileged Planet argument.

Available below is a presentation which was given at the American Scientific Affiliation 2003 Annual Meeting: A Critique of the Privileged Planet Hypothesis. It is, as its title implies, a critical analysis of the Privileged Planet Hypothesis propounded by astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay Wesley Richards.

Not that Kuehn’s argument do not hold as strongly now as they did then but Gonzalez et al have found some minor issues to argue and present the reader with a viewpoint about Kyler Kuehn which is in my opinion incorrect.

The authors end with the following ad hominem

n chapter 16 of The Privileged Planet, we discuss fifteen possible objections to our argument. These are the fifteen strongest objections we could think of. Any fair criticism, then, should first take account of our responses to these objections. Kyler Kuehn’s objections don’t do this.

Gonzalez and Richards could have dealt in many ways with Kuehn’s comments, but their response to Kuehn is unwarranted.


For those who may not be familiar with the central issue, here is a paragraph in which Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards summarize their thesis:

“To discover that the environments most hospitable to complex observers like us, are also the best places overall for making diverse scientific discoveries, is intrinsically interesting. If the universe were designed for discovery, this is what you would expect. If it were not so designed, you would not expect it. For this and other reasons, we conclude that the best explanation for this correlation is that the universe is designed for discovery.”

What’s that smell? Could it be … the beach?!

Ah the smell of the beach. It brings back memories of that remarkable day when I first came to realize how the beach shows once and for all evidence of design.

Although I am getting somewhat confused by the recent beaching of whales. Is the beach supposed to serve as a graveyard as well? What purpose can we find in this observation, or should we just consider only evidence that supports our thesis?

If it could be that “Priviliged a Beach”

What surprises me is how Gonzalez et al seem to be backpedalling from the fact that Dembski IS the foundation to their thesis and while they claim that they included a token “Del Ratzsch”, “appeal to best explanation” and other buzz words, they seem to be mostly appealing to ignorance. Best explanation? What explanation has been given? None, none at all… They propose design while including regularity thus for all practical purposes admitting that natural forces can design.

The Privileged Planet is made of Swiss Cheese, fully holey.…

I’d be more convinced were Gonzalez and friends to do a study of Mars and conclude it was designed NOT to be habitable to life – and then make the prediction that no signs of life could possibly be found there, with a good explanation of why we’ve already found conditions that tend to be favorable to life.

And they should continue with every planet known to exist.

Or, is there argument that just this planet was designed, and all the others are happenstance?

Everything appears differently when one looks through the wrong end of the microscope. The yeast on the slide probably thinks the microscope and high school student were designed just to watch it.

Oops. Should have been “their argument.”

The circular reasoning of apologia is readily obvious in “Priviledged Planet”, which is basically a rif on what cosmologists call the “strong anthropic principle”.

It seems that the critiques are looking past the provocative points for design presented in the book and attempting to dismiss them out-of-hand. They warrant little if any rebuttal. Sorry.

What provocative points for design? And who is the designer?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 29, 2004 7:41 PM.

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