The Science of the Wedge


Following on from PZ’s post below, if you read the original report from the conference you find the following:

Discussing the various scientific advances that have pointed more and more toward a Creator, the Cambridge-educated [Stephen] Meyer said “the future is very bright” for research into Intelligent Design.

He then revealed that donors have now contributed enough funds to create a laboratory for the study of biomolecular information at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute - a very significant development that could yield new breakthroughs.

“There is,” concluded Meyer, “a lot of good science in the pipeline.”

Just as well, because there has been bugger all in the five plus years since the Wedge was launched. Remember the key scientific research objective from the Wedge document?

One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

Still waiting. Search the scientific citation indices for works by Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Wells, Nelson et al. for primary research that explicitly supports ‘design’ or even tests design as a null hypothesis. Have one beer for every paper you find. Come back here. You’ll be stone-cold sober.

It’s worth pointing out that some of their other objective have been met - “Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications” and “Significant coverage in national media”. Indeed they even have had some success in making “states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory”. Just no science.


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From the Biola Website a refreshening insight into Intelligent Design

Fall 2003 saw the start of a new Masters of Arts degree in Religion and Science at Biola University. This program is a component of the educational wing of the ID movement, which also includes Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute. Biola will continue its involvement in the Intelligent Design movement as it hosts “ID and the Future of Science Conference” in April 2004.

You are no match for my ranting-monkey style blog-fu, John-san.

What, exactly, is the “refreshening insight” on that page? It looks like more of the same old vacuous handwaving to me, no content, no substance, no value.

I guess he means the fact that Biola has married itself to the ID movement. Not necessarily “enlightening”, but interesting to know for future reference.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what an ID laboratory looks like. I bet it takes all of ten minutes of intensive study of a given biological system before they decide that, gee, this is really complex, and write up a paper proving that it’s therefore the result of a process of design which it would be unscientific to ask anything more about. You real scientists are in the wrong field! Imagine how prodigiously you could increase your output if you joined the DI.

Do I get a beer for Kent Hovind’s account of a friend of put saltwater and freshwater fish in the same tank, to prove Noah’s flood? Or was that Ken Ham? Even just a lite beer?

It’s often insightful to recall that Biola is an acronym for Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Why they want to hide the Bible in their name has always been a mystery to me.

I found the article insightful since it clearly states the religious angle of the Intelligent Design movement.

I can’t wait though for these breakthroughs from “a laboratory for the study of biomolecular information”. So far such breakthroughs have failed to happen despite the efforts of ID proponents. In fact, if anything, research in biological information has shown that many of the claims by ID proponents appear to be erroneous.

I bet it takes all of ten minutes of intensive study of a given biological system before they decide that, gee, this is really complex, and write up a paper proving that it’s therefore the result of a process of design which it would be unscientific to ask anything more about. You real scientists are in the wrong field! Imagine how prodigiously you could increase your output if you joined the DI.

Well, judging from Paul Nelson’s example so far, you spend 10 minutes coming up with a vague and unproductive measure, then you spend years wandering from lecture to lecture, touting the wonders of your results and how you’ll be showing them to us soon, and never publish. I think it’s only the output of unfulfilled promises that would increase.

On the contrary - I think their “metrics”, measures of “irreducible complexity” and “explanatory filters” are extremely productive.

They allow one to reach the most definite of conclusions with the minimum of thought.

I am surprised by the news that the DI is setting up a lab. My understanding is that Jonathan Wells personally conducted the research phase (phase I) of the “Wedge Strategy” some years ago when he placed a variety of organic compounds in a beaker of distilled water (in the DI lunchroom, if I’m not mistaken). When, after observing the mixture for twenty minutes or so, he failed to detect any replication or self-organization into more complex structures, he concluded no further research was necessary. Thus ended phase I.

I don’t think Biola is an acronym any more, I think they simply changed the name. They never have hidden the fact that they are a Christian College.

Do all Christian Colleges have to have “Bible” in their names?

PS, I think the “revelation” in the press release is that the ID stuff is part of the MA degree, not an MS.

What I’d really like to see is Dembski’s take on “The Science of the Wedgie”.

A Popperian Challenge.

In order to have a club, I would like to challenge individuals to come up with a test that would refute natural selection, if it were shown to be true, and prove design.

The requirements would be that it would have to be outside of our current realm of knowledge, it must be a true/false test, the way the MM experiment was a test of classical optics, and it must, of course, be testable.

I’m saying this because it would be a very good rhetorical club, and, if it became so, then some IDer out there would try and execute it. At which point debunking the faked execution - because it almost certainly would be - would kill ID. It would become toxic as a meme - as Creationism is now a toxic meme.

Falsifying tests for natural selection go back a ways.

Charles R. Darwin Wrote:

Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in any one species exclusively for the good of another species; though throughout nature one species incessantly takes advantage of, and profits by, the structure of another. But natural selection can and does often produce structures for the direct injury of other species, as we see in the fang of the adder, and in the ovipositor of the ichneumon, by which its eggs are deposited in the living bodies of other insects. If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.

Origin of Species, ch.6

But while falsifying tests may falsify one theory, they say nothing about the status of another theory. ID advocates often have the curious but erroneous notion that the truth or falsity of natural selection somehow has some meaning for the truth or falsity or their conjectures.

Since Popper is invoked as the authority on “testability” by William Dembski, I think I may need to write a short review of Popper’s stances on theories, propositions, and testability. I will see about getting around to that.

Wes, I think that would be a great idea. In his later years, Popper didn’t even agree with all the stuff that is called “Popperian.” Especially his mistaken idea that evolution wasn’t falsifiable.

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on April 27, 2004 10:10 AM.

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