Newspeak from the Ministry of Truth

| 73 Comments

Hmmm. Let's see. Intelligent Design creationists made a big push in Minnesota. They had a friendly education commissioner who stacked the deck in their favor, and when the sensible scientists, educators, and citizens who wrote the science standards came up with a darn good document, she formed a special committee of creationists to put together revisions. End result: the revisions were scrapped, and our conservative stealth creationist commissioner finds herself thrown out on her ear.

Sounds like a defeat for Intelligent Design to me.

But no! How could I be so deluded? The Discovery Institute has declared it a victory!

Minnesota has become the second state to require students to know about scientific evidence critical of Darwinian evolution in its newly adopted science standards. On May 15, the Minnesota legislature adopted new science standards that include a benchmark requiring students to be able to explain how new evidence can challenge existing scientific theories, including the theory of evolution.

The benchmark reads, "The student will be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including "...theory of evolution. ..." The benchmark is included in the "History and Nature of Science," strand of the science standards for grades 9-12.

"This is a significant victory for the vast majority of Americans who favor teaching evolution but who want it taught fully, including scientific criticisms of the theory," said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Discovery Institute supports teaching students more about evolutionary theory, including introducing them to mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific debates over key aspects of modern evolutionary theory (known as neo-Darwinism).

Dr. West added that he expected some Darwin-only supporters would try to downplay or ignore the new benchmark. "Undoubtedly some Darwin-only supporters will claim that the standard doesn't really mean what it says, or that schools don't really need to follow it. Minnesotans who support the standard will need to make sure that it is actually implemented in Minnesota schools."

When these guys speak, you know they are lying. They've changed their logo and name so many times, they might as well just go straight to the most appropriate one: Ministry of Truth.

73 Comments

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And what, exactly, does this have to do with the laughably misleading press release put out by DI?

But, has anyone else noticed? The news media are not carrying the press releases from Discovery Institute. They’re getting zero mileage from their publicity dollar.

Andrew wrote:

And what, exactly, does this have to do with the laughably misleading press release put out by DI?

Absolutely nothing. But since I haven’t been invited to be a contributor, this is the only way for me to communicate my information. I’ve decided that it’s better to simply stick to the science, so there will be no comment or interpretation.

Well, Charlie, have you considered starting your own weblog? You’ve got a site. The software is free (look for WordPress or pMachine, for instance). You can blather away. I’d probably even link to you now and then, if for no other reason than to criticize.

But this supports the scientists’ position all along. Scientists don’t deny that they subject evolutionary theories to experimental scrutiny. This news item is an evidence that evolutionary theories are not believed dogmatically, as the anti-evolutionaries claim, but they are subject to scientific inquiry by scientists themselves.

News Flash! Scientists potentialy revise their position based on new data! In a related story, bears are said to poop in the woods.

IIRC only rarely do children inherit their father’s mitochondria and when they do it often leads to health problems which would seem to limit the effect this would have on the Eve estimation.

Do y’all mind if I ask a stupid question?

Why all the hostility against the Intelligent Design crowd?

On the one hand, I’ve read Dawkins and Gould (good books, informative, some problems, some doubts, Dawkins is a bit coarse, though)

On the other hand, I’ve read Dembski and Behe (good books, informative, some problems, some doubts, perhaps a few flaws, perhaps a lack of falsifiability).

But, what’s the big deal? Maybe, the ID is wrong. So what? It’s not the first time a theory is tested and fails.

I guess I just don’t see the need for all the teeth-gnashing.

Navy Davy, Behe& Dembski’s books are not informative. They put up a false front of having something to say, and use impressive sounding words to fool the layman. They are disinformation, and part of a massive disinformation campaign. You can read _Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design_ by Forrest & Gross http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t[…]/0195157427/

for extensive documentation, and of course ask briefer questions here.


Whether ID is true or not would not be an issue if advocates of ID were scientists attempting to distribute their work through scientific channels. That is not the case. Instead, the advocates of ID are first and foremost members of the Christian religious right, and they are not seeking to convince the scientific community of the merits of their work - in fact, they’re doing an end-run around that entire process and instead trying to get their ideas taught in public school classrooms before they have gained any scientific acceptance. ID is not a scientific movement, it is a political movement attempting to undermine the quality of science education in American public schools.

Adam wrote:

the advocates of ID are first and foremost members of the Christian religious right,

I agree completely. The notion of intelligent design has been hijacked by those with a religious agenda to promote. Almost all proponents of ID do in fact have a religious agenda and they must be stopped from disseminating their ideology in public schools. The trick is to separate legitimate scientific investigation of intelligent design from religious creationism. As it stands now, most scientists are afraid to even talk about the subject for fear of being misquoted or having their own words used as religious propaganda. This has had a chilling effect on legitimate science that may take decades to repair. Ideology has no place in any public school science classroom and it must be stopped wherever it occurs. But one must also recognize that there have also been zealots on the evolutionist side who want to teach mechanisms of evolution that have no empirical support. The answer is simple and clear. Religious creationism must be eliminated from school curriculums and darwinian evolution must be taught not as fact, but in it’s historical context. There is enough factual science, from anatomy to zoology to fill any school’s scientific curriculum with non-controversial, factual science. Any teaching of darwinian evolution or creationism or “the controversy” is nothing more than a waste of time that could be better spent on real science.

But one must also recognize that there have also been zealots on the evolutionist side who want to teach mechanisms of evolution that have no empirical support.

Name one such “mechanism of evolution” Charlie for which “no empirical support” exists.

I’d like to know exactly what this benchmark the DI is quoting says, and whether the ellipses hide any significant information. And what was the intent behind the benchmark? I suspect that it was to understand examples such as the replacement of Newtonian by Einsteinian theories, rather than to encourage ID incursions into the biology curriculum.

Here’s what’s covered by those ellipses:

Students will be able to explain how scientific innovations and new evidence can challenge accepted theories and models, including cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease, Big Bang theory.

Interesting and intelligent comments and questions, Navy Davy. And your willingness to read authors on ~both~ sides of this issue, speaks well of you.

Do y’all mind if I ask a stupid question?

Why all the hostility against the Intelligent Design crowd?

Oh, it’s not a stupid question at all, Navy. Nor are you necessarily alone in asking it.

I think evolutionist Richard C. Lewontin may have answered your question several years ago. Please consider the following:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

And there you have it, Navy.

Now that’s not to say that evolutionists aren’t committed to science, mind you. But…

…But the “hostility against the Intelligent Design crowd” that you’ve correctly noticed, well, that ~ain’t~ science. Instead, such hostility appears to derive from a prior philosophical or quasi-religious commitment–the religion being that of materialism.

Since the ID hypothesis potentially would allow something contrary than the philosophy of materialism to get what Lewontin called “a foot in the door”, ID and its proponents become the enemy.

ID (and its proponents) thus become the enemy that for some folks must be opposed at all costs in the public policy arena, whether or not ID at least qualifies conceptually as a ~scientific~ hypothesis, whether or not the ID hypothesis is ultimately confirmed or disconfirmed via the scientific method, whether or not their criticisms of current textbook Darwinist claims do in fact carry real scientific merit.

Such hostility is clearly NOT science, needless to say. But there it is, all the same.

At any rate, Lewontin offers you some honest and blunt insights, Navy. Something to think about as you read various posts on this blog.

————————–

Reference: Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons”, The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31. http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/mayesgr/Lewontin1.htm

————————– FL

FL Wrote:

Instead, such hostility appears to derive from a prior philosophical or quasi-religious commitment-the religion being that of materialism.

False. “Methodological Naturalism,” sometimes referred to as “materialism,” is an a posteriori philosophical commitment of science. The reason why scientists restrict their explanations and examinations to the natural world is that they found out centuries ago that entertaining supernatural causes was fruitless. You cannot evaluate the supernatural because by definition it avoids experimental scrutiny. They tried it and it didn’t work; that makes it a posteriori.

The “hostility” towards “intelligent design” is not based in religion; it is based on the fact that the scientific community does not like pseudo-science and crackpottery messing with education. How would you expect a WWII historian to react to a highly organized and politically connected institute of holocaust deniers trying to corrupt history education?

If the “intelligent design” movement has scientific merit, they need to do the science. They need to skip the church lecture circuit, stop playing political games, ditch the lawyers and clergy, stop issuing bogus popular opinion polls, and cease writing popular books. They need to

  • educate themselves on modern biology,
  • develop a rigorous research program,
  • execute that research program,
  • publish the findings in mainstream scientific journals, and
  • accept the criticisms of scientists more skilled than they are.

Then they will get the respect of the scientific community.

Sad Eyed Lady wrote:

Name one such “mechanism of evolution” Charlie for which “no empirical support” exists.

An’ here I sit so patiently Waiting to find out what price You have to pay to get out of Going through all these things twice.

Oops. I misread the directions on the poll and voted the opposite of what I believe. The arguements against evolution are unsound and should not be taught.

ID is simply another attempt to teach a particular religion in the public schools. If they want to do that, they should include, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and the various Native American creation stories. And maybe Mithra (which the Christian church absorbed a lot of) and Zoroastrian.

Interesting comments, boys. A few observations.

Pete Dunkelberg says that Behe’s book was “not informative.” Au contraire. He is a biochemist. He knows the intricacies of DNA and immune system exceedingly well. He may NOT be correct with his thesis. (Immune system too complex to have randomly evolved). But, his book was certainly informative.

My man, FL. We need more scientists like you (Sadly, I ain’t one – Just a humble attorney, specializing in cancer cases.) Good references and comments, I’ll check them out.

One ironic problem: Someome says, “gene mutation.” I don’t hear “engine of biological evolution.” I hear, “metastatic tumor!”

I guess I’m a confused layman – I believe in God, and I believe in evolution, but I ain’t sure where the lines of demarcation lay.

Anyway, y’all gotta nice blog, here. Much obliged.

PZ, the first link in your post is broken.

Navy Davy says:

Pete Dunkelberg says that Behe’s book was “not informative.” Au contraire. He is a biochemist. He knows the intricacies of DNA and immune system exceedingly well. He may NOT be correct with his thesis. (Immune system too complex to have randomly evolved). But, his book was certainly informative.

Navy, I think you make my point. Behe was well versed in DNA at one time, when he was doing research on DNA sequences. He seems to have nearly quit research to spread the gospel of ‘intelligent design’ in recent years. But that is a minor point here. He wrote about various protein systems, not DNA. He is not an expert on those topics. If he gave that impression, that’s disinformation. He did not show expert knowledge of the immune system, did not say what experts say, and did say things about the immune system that experts contradict.

If he led you to believe that the immune system could not have evolved for whatever (scientific) reason, that’s disinformation. He was similarly disinformative about other protein systems.

If he led you to think that there is some level of complexity (however defined) that identifies things as not natural, that’s disinformation. If he led you to believe that his ‘irreducible complexity’ has something to do with evolution, that’s disinformation.

Although he is only a chemist, it was irresponsible of him to publish a book on biology without learning much more about it first.

I understand that he has many followers who take his word for things, but how can Behe himself believe in his book? Is he possesed by Morton’s Demon?

Navy Davy:

One ironic problem: Someome says, “gene mutation.” I don’t hear “engine of biological evolution.” I hear, “metastatic tumor!”

Bad news: You are a mutant, many times over.

Pete

Pete,

If he led you to believe that the immune system could not have evolved for whatever (scientific) reason, that’s disinformation. He was similarly disinformative about other protein systems.

I have formed no such belief. I think people form conclusions about X,Y & Z far too hastily. I said Behe’s book was informative – not that I agreed with his thesis. (BTW, Dawkins’s book “The Selfish Gene” was quite informative, too.)

If he led you to think that there is some level of complexity (however defined) that identifies things as not natural, that’s disinformation. If he led you to believe that his ‘irreducible complexity’ has something to do with evolution, that’s disinformation.

Right, Paley’s error. We do not necessarily infer design from complexity. Fully agree. But see above – no such belief formed.

As someone who has absolutely no stake, financial, professional, emotional or otherwise, in the debate between Evolution v. ID, may I say something that seems basic?

Theories aren’t “bad.” Theories are either testable or not. If not testable, then “go home” because it ain’t a valid theory. If testable, then the theory is either proven true or proven false. Period.

High octane clashes between differing political theories? Not surprising.

High octane clashes between differing religious theories? Not surprising.

High octane clashes between scientific theories? This surprises me. It usually means that something other than scientific inquiry as been introduced into the mix.

Instead of demonizing Behe or Dembski, I would much rather have them clearly articulate their theories, devise suitable tests for assessing their theories, and then just test them – without all the teeth-gnashing.

And, if ID is not testable or proven false, I would lose not a wink of sleep.

Cheers.

Navy Davy,

Theories aren’t “bad.” Theories are either testable or not. If not testable, then “go home” because it ain’t a valid theory. If testable, then the theory is either proven true or proven false. Period.

Not really. Theories can never really be “proven” true. Thus the religious right’s insistence that evolution is only a “theory,” not “fact.” Scientists generally judge the worth of a theory by how fruitful it is. Does it make testable predictions, does it lead to other avenues of investigation, does it explain previously unexplainable phenomena, etc… ID fails in every respect. Some would claim that it explains the diversity and origin of life, but a) this is not “unexplained,” evolutionary theory adequately explains everything which ID purports to; and 2) the explanation of ID simply substitutes one unexplained phenomenon (the designer) for another.

High octane clashes between differing political theories? Not surprising. High octane clashes between differing religious theories? Not surprising. High octane clashes between scientific theories? This surprises me. It usually means that something other than scientific inquiry as been introduced into the mix.

You have hit the nail squarely on the head. The problem here is in the intersection of politics, religion, and science. This is not a clash of scientific theories, as ID has failed to articulate a theory in any meaningful sense. No theory, no research program, no data, no science. Just a lot of armchair speculation. What we are left with is politics and religion.

Instead of demonizing Behe or Dembski, I would much rather have them clearly articulate their theories, devise suitable tests for assessing their theories, and then just test them — without all the teeth-gnashing.

So would we. The teeth-gnashing has little to do with the theories of ID per se, but rather with the inability and/or unwillingness of its proponents to do the science required to justify their claims. By attempting to mandate that ID be taught on an equal footing with Darwinian evolution, they do a disservice to biology students, as well as to the scientists out there who actually do the hard work of research. Can you blame scientists for being upset by this?

Navy Dave:

High octane clashes between scientific theories? This surprises me. It usually means that something other than scientific inquiry as been introduced into the mix.

In this case, that is certainly the case. ID is not a scientific theory. It is a (essentially evangelical Christian) political tool dressed up as a scientific theory. Read this (you might want to have a bucket handy): http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

Instead of demonizing Behe or Dembski, I would much rather have them clearly articulate their theories, devise suitable tests for assessing their theories, and then just test them

Most of us here would love to see that but I don’t think any of us are holding our breath. Unfortunately, Behe and Dembski have had quite a bit of time to do precisely these things, and have received a lot of suggestions from scientists as to how their arguments might be improved such that they are actually testable. But the bottom line is that ID just isn’t going anywhere. It’s an argument from ignorance cloaked in bad math and bad logic. Or it was so cloaked until the contributors to this blog, among others, ripped it off to reveal the naked propoganda underneath.

I think the comments which you perceive as “demonization” are really just scientists expressing their incredible frustration with people like Behe and Dembski who insist on propogating their useless and fundamentally flawed algorithms and theories, and mischaracterizing the research of thousands upon thousands of scientists, in the face of patient and sincere criticism from nearly every working scientist. Instead of going back to the drawing board and trying again like honest scientists, Dembski and Behe and their followers would like to believe that there is some sort of conspiracy to “suppress” their “findings.” The great irony, of course, is the existence of the document I linked to above, which shows that it is the ID “theorists” who have a decidedly unscientific agenda, and not the community of scientists whose work Dembski and Behe mock.

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I do not know where to post this. Best thought it would fit here.

http://www.hindu.com/2004/05/22/sto[…]01691000.htm

There’s an interesting article in “The Hindu” by Meera Nanda calling for a rejection of any attempts to rationalise Hindu beliefs through the principles of modern sciences. It is a good agenda for freeing science from any need to follow the contours of faith, even if it is not a very accurate of what has happened.

I do not entirely agree with the author (for what i think are errors of interpretation) but generally believe this is where science needs to be headed.

Science and scientists should be allowed to work without any regard for the religious sensibilities whatsoever. If a scientist is teaching me something that goes against my religious beliefs - tough luck - grin and bear it. But that is not equal to propogating the “faith of materialism” or the “a Godless creed” or any such hooey. I wish scientists wouldn’t pussyfoot around trying to be nice saying “MN is not equal to PN’. My desired mid-point in rolling back the boundary of faith, is an acceptance that it is an unverified-capable of being harmless-belief. Only PN can achieve that and scientists must be doing more of it.

Davy,

I appreciate your comments. Perhaps I was a bit to sharp in my remarks. I see that you take a quite reasonable position, assuming that you don’t know some crucial facts. Since you disclose under the other topic (Peer Reviewed Research) that you are a lawyer, I can put it in those terms: you seem to think that the jury is out on whether ID has any scientific merit. Flash! The jury is in – way in.

Let’s start with if ID is not testable or proven false, I would lose not a wink of sleep.

Ironically, you have already read the one testable claim of ID (in the narrow sense of ID): the claim that IC (irreducible complexity) can’t come from evolution, or, to cover the weasel that IDists use when this is said, that the evolution of IC is so improbable that for all practical purposes it can’t evolve. This claim is directly false, and is supported only by rhetoric. Behe’s ‘parts’ – proteins – evolve, and biological ‘functions’ evolve, and the result is that codependent parts are to be expected, exactly contrary to what Behe claims. [By the way, several people have said that IDC makes no testable predictions. Perhaps this is said in oversight, or perhaps they are making a distinction between a prediction and a claim.]

High octane clashes between scientific theories? This surprises me. It usually means that something other than scientific inquiry as been introduced into the mix.

Bingo! Except that there are not two scientific theories here - only one. The ‘intelligent design’ slogan is used by the DI (discovery institute) to push creationism in public school science classes. They stir up controversy over evolution and bring political pressure on school boards to trash the subject. After getting much public mileage with the slogan, they say to school boards “Gee, we wouldn’t want you to teach ‘intelligent design’. We just insist that you must teach ‘the controversy’ (the public, not scientific controversy, which we IDists have stirred up hee hee); by this we mean teach the ‘scientific evidence against science’. Since you don’t know what that is, one of our Senior Fellows has it all written up for you.” They take advantage of the fact that most people don’t know that anti science propaganda has always been a large part of creationism to deny that their program is creationism. And of course they do not give previous creationist authors credit; they give the impression that they just discovered it all. And their version, if swallowed hole, would tend to make people hostile to science.

And their reason for all this? Despite what they say they fervently believe that trashing science gets you to their dopey kind of theology, know as God of the gaps. It might not really get you there, but they expect that it will. It worked for them. In short, high school science classes can be used to make the next generation hostile to science and convert them to bad theology. Recall that you can read this for documentation.

Now do you begin to see why people who have looked behind the rhetoric are not pleased?

So when you propose in the other discussion:

My proposed solution: 1. Evolution be treated as the dominant theory; 2. ID be treated as the minority theory; 3. Determine if (1) and/or (2) are testable; 4. If so, devise suitable tests and test them both; 5. Analyze the results to see if the theories are proven more likely than not true, or more likely than not false; 6. Make some good real world predictions about each theory;

you apparently don’t know that the intelligent design advocates themselves don’t even want schools to teach ID - that’s just a stalking horse. If they said “teach ID” they would have to say what, exactly, it is. Knowing how scientifically vacuous ID is, they don’t dare put themselves on that spot. Instead it is ‘bait and switch’; they want public schools to teach bogus antiscience propaganda - classic creationism.

You apparently don’t know that like any vibrant scientific theory, evolutionary biology makes many testable predictions, and the testing has been done vigorously for over a century.

By the way (1) when talking about science, the ID theologian Dembski does not belong in the conversation. To paraphrase Robin Williams, he may be the most extreme case of an overeducated white man with no concept of science on record. By the way (2) you set a lot of store by Adam Marczyk’s suggestion:

So, let’s throw it back to the ID advocates: what specific tests would confirm or falsify intelligent design? As soon as they answer this question, we can begin.

Adam knows what he is talking about. He knows that the IDologists have been asked that question for years and have no answer. But I have to bring to your attention another bit of reality: If there were any way to scientifically test ID, scientists wouldn’t wait for IDologists to do it or explain how; they’d be all over it like white on rice.

By the way (3) here is how actual science gets into the school curriculum: first, do some science. Then get it published in the real scientific literature. Then it gets into graduate seminars, then, if it holds up it gets into graduate level text books, then into undergraduate texts, and if it still holds up it may get into school texts if it is grade-appropriate. The creationists, including IDC’s (intelligent design creationists) want to ‘be there without getting there’ as the coach said about the boy who wanted to make the team but never made practice. They want to substitute mere rhetoric for the real thing.

Davy, is this beginning to sink in? To recap, the scientific jury on ID is in, and ID is guilty of scientific vacuity and theological intent as charged.

Pete

As a mother in an ID’d state, I must say I am very angry that people do not realize the danger imposed by ID proponents:namely putting the fundamentalist Christian Bible in the center of science classes. If we want to teach religion as science, we may as well say Thor causes lightning, and leave it at that. I will be one of those parents filing a suit against the Ohio Board of education for violating church/state lines… I am not a scientist, just a simple cashier. This is MY children’s future, their ability to get a college education, that these religious persons are trying to destroy. Science is the backbone of modern American society… it gave us the world we have today. The anti-intellectual bent of today’s society is so profound, our president barely speaks English. Until knowledge is put back as the goal of education, rather than indoctrination, we will always be having this argument. Let’s save the brainwashing for where it belongs, in the home.

Hey Charlie, What was the point of that little ditty way back on 19 May at 06:49? It sure wasn’t an answer to Sadeyed Lady’s question.

Whistle Blower,

I believe that a thread not having your gnat-like comments, would be even better.

I believe that a thread not having your gnat-like comments, would be even better.

Are you refusing to answer the question, Navy Davy? The question seems an obvious one, given the importance of this scientific debate.

Please clarify whether you intend to answer the question, reproduced below for your convenience.

Navy Davy, do you believe that a non-scientist or scientist would be a better moderator for a scientific debate, and why?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Davy, there are a couple of fora that would be suitable for such a debate. I don’t think this is one of them. The public newsgroup talk.origins is one. They know how to do it.

There are still problems. ID is not science, so what it there to debate? Why can I say that ID is not science? The “design inference” as advocated by IDists comes down to substituting Design in place of Don’t know. IDists try to claim that Design is the default explanation when a real explanation is not known. This is a science stopper. Research proceeds from Don’t know. Conclusions need evidence. The IDists deny that Design needs positive evidence. That is why no one can do research that would support D as it is advocated. If there were any positive evidence, it would become a hot research topic over night.

I suspect that you still think that Behe had something to say. To return to what I posted in response to you originally, when I said that his book is disinformation, that did not mean that there was no information in it. As you know, it is good tactics to put some correct information in the package, to make the other part seem to be part of a correct picture. Consider another of his examples, blood clotting. He gives information on the relevant science, but this information is very incomplete and thereby misleading. He makes fun of expert Doolittle, and continues to do so publicly to this day. He makes you, and listeners to his many lectures, think falsely that Doolittle has no clue about how blood clotting could have evolved. This is quite false. He must know that Doolittle has a whole stack of ‘clues’ to use that term. He pretends to answer Ken Miller on the same subject, but does not even mention this which gives in a simple way quite enough information for one to see how blood clotting could evolve, and which pointedly uses only old references of Doolittle’s that Behe ought to have know when he was writing his book. Behe’s behavior, intoning time after time, year after year, “If even Doolittle doesn’t know, nobody knows” is not only not scientific, it is not even grown up. Once you get it that Behe’s IC box is empty, and that this is the only applicacation of ID to biology so far, you will see why people who keep their eye on the donut and not on the whole have no use for ID advocacy.

IDists also frequently make this standard creationist move: at first there is supposed to be a reason why evolution, or the evolution of a particular thing is not possible, then it fades to yet another chorus of “Until every detail is known, nothing is known”. And they, including Behe, employ creationist ‘probability’.

With this and other standard creationist moves being predictable, there is little use in another debate – unless a top IDists is willing to debate in an open forum like this or like talk.origins. But they don’t dare. Such exposure would ruin the illusion that they have anything scientific to say. Let them prove me wrong by action. They have know all along that if they can prove their case to the scientists in talk.origins, it’s proved. But they don’t even try. They try to bamboozle school boards instead.

I have no dog in this fight.

Don’t be so sure. If you have children or grandchildren, their education is at risk.

Aside: moderator’s (or three judges’) duties have not been specified. It would help for a moderator to have some specialized knowledge, however moderation is a skill in itself. Not everyone is good at it.

Pete

Pete,

Unscrutinized, your arguments sound good. But, I’m surprised you and others don’t want to test those arguments against a qualified IDist in a civilized, open debate. It doesn’t reflect too well on your side.

I found Behe’s book informative. Maybe, I’ll re-read it (its been a few years) to refresh my recollection of some of the points he makes.

Whistle Blower,

Call me when you get a job that pays $30,000 or a girlfriend – whichever comes first:) How’s that for clarity?

Cheers, y’all,

Navy Davy

Navy Davy wrote

Call me when you get a job that pays $30,000 or a girlfriend — whichever comes first:) How’s that for clarity?

The record will show that you refused to answer the question regarding what qualities would be desirable in a moderator of a scientific debate between a proponent of ID “theory” and an evolutionary biologist.

As always, I appreciate what appears to be a sincere effort on your part to direct your comments to specified persons.

Cheers, WB

Addressing Pete Dunkelberg, Navy Davy wrote

Unscrutinized, your arguments sound good. But, I’m surprised you and others don’t want to test those arguments against a qualified IDist in a civilized, open debate. It doesn’t reflect too well on your side.

You’ll have to look hard to find a “qualified IDist” who’s willing to engage in a moderated debate on the scientific merits, moderated by someone (or a couple of someones in collaboration) who know enough about the issues to do the job. Even on ISCID, an ID site, the “qualified IDists” – Dembski, Wells, Nelson, etc. – tend to post and run. They’ll put up a draft of an essay or book chapter, and then never participate in the discussion of it.

Jerry Don Bauer is not a “qualified IDist.” Having myself engaged him in open fora, and having read his ‘discussions’ with others, I can say quite definitely that he does not know elementary evolutionary theory well enough to be a qualified anything in such a debate. He makes claims about evolutionary theory and the nature of science that are outlandish even by the usual creationist standards. On his own account he hasn’t read the major works of ID – he hasn’t read Dembski’s major books, for example – and he has his own idiosyncratic versions of various ID concepts like specified complexity and irreducible complexity and the Explanatory Filter. You’ll have to find someone else for your “qualified IDist.”

Finally, evolutionary arguments have been tested against more formidable opponents than any that ID can supply: other real scientists. You clearly don’t know how science works. Face a room full of seasoned professionals and hungry post-docs with a new idea and you’ll see genuine debate!

RBH

Davy, I have to agree with RBH on this. You may not know that there have been public fora for this debate for years, and the very few qualified intelligent design advocates have always refused to debate in such a forum. If they would, plenty of people would take them up on it, as they know. If you want to be surprised at someone not following your suggestion for an open debate, be surprised at them.

Why don’t you encourage a debate here between Behe and Musgrave for example? Behe has never responded to ICDMYST. He is welcome to make his comments here, and not just post and run, but keep up his side. The leaders of that pack carefully avoid this sort of public exposure. They have to protect their mystique.

Oh, and don’t think my arguments are “unscrutinized”. The IDologists are doing that. If they have no reply, that’s not the reason.

And as RBH also indicates, going around in circles with people who just keep repeating the same thing regardless of scientific reality has also been going on. It is not as if there were any lack of ID followers ‘debating’ by repetition. It’s been done, believe me.

Pete

RBH,

You wrote:

You clearly don’t know how science works.

1. Form a theory 2. Test it 3. Analyze the data 4. Draw a conclusion 5. Make prediction

Repeat often.

You folks talk a good game. But not much else.

Cheers, Navy Davy

I agree with Pete on this: the main ID “theorists” (Dembski, Behe, Wells, Johnson) avoid the kind of dialogs which would force htem to deal with specific points raised by their most knowledgeable opponents. For instance, Dembski has his own site, ISCID, but with few exceptions all he does there is post a paper and then go away. In fact, he has made it clear that he does this in order to find out what his critics have to say so he can make his papers better when he finally publishes them in one of his compendia of articles.

If the ID movement were really tring to do science (as evidenced by its advocates acting like scientists,) they would be willingly engaging in these types of discussions. However, they are actually involved in a PR campaign, and so they look for places where they can have an impact with potential supporters without exposing their work to a genuine scientific critique.

Good reply, Navy.

I’m well aware that all sides need to be careful with their rhetoric (especially in the heat of battle), but I think evolutionists in particular could score an extra couple PR points with the voting public, if some of them could just learn to stop talking down to people.

FL

Adam: Thanks for your reply.

Differential reproductive success is another way of saying natural selection (as can be seen from the quote I cited, Gould in particular argued that natural selection operated on the species level as well as on the level of individual organisms;

“Differential reproductive success” means nothing more than that there are varying rates of success. But this is the “given” of the fossil record itself. Some species succeeded, others failed and are gone, others never were : “DRS”. No new actual information is added to the equation. The question lurking within punc eq, which is never answered, is “what causes are behind the observed variations between periods of stasis and periods of evolution?”

Natural selection on its own is an unsatisfactory answer. It is fair to say that, for example, a sudden shift in climate created new conditions which allowed certain organisms to survive at the expense of others. But this alone does not indicate how the characteristics selected for/against survival arrived in the first place. Obviously NS needs something to select before it can select. Random mutation is the proposed nedarwinian answer to this but as we know random effects require extremely lengthy periods of time in order to do their work –if an ordered system is the final result. This is because random effects almost invariably produce disorder, not order, in a system. This is a basic tenet of information theory. Using “random mutation” as its answer, punk eek does not explain the origin of the shift in mutative rates required for NS to carve its well-ordered herds of survivors during evolutionary spikes. Until it does this it is merely a reformulation of the question. In information theory terms the punk eek explanation is equivalent to saying “during evolutionary spikes we observe an increased frequency of order-producing random effects which natural selection then capitalizes upon”. “Randomness” does not possess the ability to alter the rate of disorder/order it produces in a system. If what we initially believed to be random forces are observed to produce progressive ordering within an information system we must conclude that these forces are not random at all but are derived from ordering principles and processes within the system itself or from ordering principles/processes exterior to the system, or immanent within the system, which possess knowledge of the information requirements of the working system.

“Immanent forces” are forces resident within something. The immanent forces of oxygen and hydrogen atoms produce their coalescence as “water”. With punctuated equilibrium I am suggesting that the “punctuations” which result in far-from-equilibrium systems (Life!) cannot be derived from an identical self-assembly process which links H and O to form H20 but that similar self-assembly processes are manifest. These assembly processes are of a much higher order, in informational terms, then those which produce water. The basic packets of information may be resident in an organism’s genes but their recombination in the highly specific form required to produce, say, a trilobite, cannot be the product of accidental shifts which are then either accepted or rejected by natural selection. We are talking about millions of absolutely precise genetic sequences taking shape in a (geologically) very short span of time.

Information theory tells us that any truly random effect on an information system will produce disorder in that system. Type one wrong letter in a URL and you get nowhere. If we say that a trilobite took a million years to evolve, and guess that a trilobite has a generation span of one year, that gives us only a million generations to derive, from undirected gene shuffling (where there will be a large fall-off rate) a “trilobite”. Complete with complex eyes, metabolic, respiratory, skeletal, brain-nervous and reproductive systems, all these systems evolving in perfect synchrony with one another. This synchronized co-emergence suggests deliberateness, not accident. If you sit a trillion monkeys down at a trillion typewriters and give them a trillion years they will not produce the works of William Shakespeare. If you train each of these monkeys to recognize English words as opposed to gibberish letters and then set them their task they still will not produce the works of William Shakespeare. If you train them further to recognize English phrases they will still fail. If you have each monkey memorize a unique sentence from WS’ works they will still fail to put those sentences together in the sequence which equals Shakepeare’s oeuvre. Without the coordinating, information-organizing powers of William Shakespeare’s mind directing the English alphabet the works of WS cannot be written.

The same is true of genetic systems and of evolution, IMHO. The “book of the trilobite” cannot come together of its own accord by random means. All the genetic bits required to write the book may be there but the bits on their own are directionless. They can self-assemble chaos, but they cannot self-assemble complete order. A higher order of genetic information-assembly is required to write the “book of the trilobite”. William Shakespeare perhaps.

Pim:

Seems that Jack is unfamiliar with the actual evidence which shows both gradual changes as well as rapid changes. Punctuated equilibrium is a Darwinian explanation to explain the gaps in the fossil record.

The evidence does indeed appear to be there for gradual as well as rapid change. But I don’t believe punctuated equilibrium closes the case (see my post to Adam). Random alterations of any information system almost invariably produce disorder. In punk eek evolutionary spikes we are asked to accept that random forces suddenly produce ordered information many orders of magnitude more complex than the original elements comprising the information system. It just ain’t possible.

I checked out the links/series you suggested. They are all believable. But they are all within boundaries defined by a single type of animal/plant. There is no evidence suggesting that any of these beasts will branch out into something other than a different or more complex version of itself. I have no problem with this kind of evolution. I have looked at a great deal of evidence, contrary to my apparent ignorance, and although clearly evolution is taking place within certain parameters in all creatures there seem to be other areas where evolution hits barriers. Fruit flies remain fruit flies, dogs remain dogs.

What causes this homeostasis? We may never know. Gravity is observed by its effects but no one knows what causes it. The postulate that Intelligence is at work is in one sense the reflection of our inability to understand the total workings of the system we find ourselves within. We apply our human intelligence to a puzzle and we discover that ultimately the puzzle is unsolveable. We then, not unreasonably, concur that whatever put the puzzle together in the first place has an intelligence superior to our own. A better analogy is that we are faced with a puzzle which is already completed and all we are trying to do is symbolically duplicate that puzzle. Even with all the answers already there we are stumped. Human intelligence is very limited compared to the originating Intelligence.

Pete:

Can science investigate the supernatural? Or Who’s afraid of Devine feet?

The fact is that science follows the evidence. Science has investigated whether prayer ‘works’, that is can you ask God for a favor and get it? Wasn’t there a song about that?

What you can’t do scientifically is jump to the conclusion that the Designer or the Devil did it. If you pour one colorless solution into another and the result is a red solution, you can’t just say “The Devil did it” and publish a scientific paper.

In ID on the other hand, if the cause of something is unknown, you can then prove it is ‘improbable’ by saying the the probability is one out of all the possible combinations of the particles involved, make up a ‘specification’, and say the Designer did it.

There can be no question that the “supernatural” exists, in the authentic meaning of the word. We are told the universe originated in the explosion of a particle of something a long time ago -the Big Bang. This seems like a tidy explanation of “ultimate origins” but in reality it is not. There are too many “givens”, a priori existences required for the “bang” to take place. “Explosion”, “existence of particle”, “composition of particle”, “medium for particle to explode within” and so on. “Supernatural” is equivalent to these a priori elements. “Superintelligent” is also a component of the universe since it is beyond the capability of even the most “intelligent” collection of humans to ever fully understand, let alone create the universe.

Whether prayer, seances, etc are “supernatural” is another question. I would say that they were natural but scientifically inexplicable phenomena. They are not responsible for the origins of the natural world, hence not “supernatural”. It is as difficult for science to probe the inner workings of such things as it is to probe the mystery of consciousness. The tools of science are just too crude for some things.

To disassemble a system without destroying it requires the application of the same tools required for the assembly of the system. Intelligence is the tool we use to disassemble the universe (symbolically). It is axiomatic therefore that intelligence was required in its fabrication.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on May 18, 2004 6:16 AM.

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