Peer Reviewed Research

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ISCID is the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. Over at Stranger Fruit, Jerry Don Bauer (no stranger to the ISCID boards) makes a number of statements regarding peer-review and ID:

There is a ton of peer reviewed lituraure [sic] out there-Both ARN and ISCID put out quarterly journals in this area, along with many others. You could have gotten by with that statement 2 or 3 years back, but not today. …

[ID] literature [is] being peer reviewed is it not? In fact, the very purpose for ISCID is peer review. Look at all the peer reviewed books out on the subject. Look at the papers on other sites

In what follows, I want to briefly examine these claims.

Now, let’s start with the “papers on other sites.” It’s the “Bibliography of Supplementary Resources For Ohio Science Instruction” which the Center for Science and Culture produced as representing “important lines of evidence and puzzles that any theory of evolution must confront, and that science teachers and students should be allowed to discuss when studying evolution … The publications represent dissenting viewpoints that challenge one or another aspect of neo-Darwinism (the prevailing theory of evolution taught in biology textbooks), discuss problems that evolutionary theory faces, or suggest important new lines of evidence that biology must consider when explaining origins.” The majority of the authors are respected scientists - none of that literature comes from ID supporters, Discovery fellows and their fellow travellers. Note what JDB is claiming - this is ID literature that is peer-reviewed. It is not. Literature that “challenge one or another aspect of neo-Darwinism (the prevailing theory of evolution taught in biology textbooks), discuss problems that evolutionary theory faces, or suggest important new lines of evidence that biology must consider” is not de facto support for ID - to think such is to commit a logical fallacy.

This list has been analyzed by the National Center for Science Education which sent a questionnaire to at least one of the authors of every publication listed in the Bibliography, asking them whether they considered their work to provide scientific evidence for “intelligent design.” None of the 26 respondents (representing 34 of the 44 publications in the Bibliography) did; many were indignant at the suggestion.

So, as yet, we see no evidence of peer-reviewed papers expliciting testing or providing positive evidence for intelligent design. The ARN journal (Origins and Design) is largely defunct and has been discussed here. Let’s look at Progress in Complexity, Information and Design - the journal of ISCID, paying attention to its review procedures.

Articles accepted to the journal must first be submitted to the ISCID archive. To be accepted into the archive, articles need to meet basic scholarly standards and be relevant to the study of complex systems. Once on the archive, articles passed on by at least one ISCID fellow will be accepted for publication.

As Dembski notes, “this review process emphasizes creativity and exploration over criticism and censorship” and was developed in reponse to Tipler’s article “Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?” (link). As part of an extended tirade againt peer-review of research and funding proposals, Tipler proposes a second tier of publishing which “will consist of publishing a paper in the journal automatically if the paper is submitted with letters from several leading experts in the field saying ‘this paper should be published.’ … A genius could interact directly with another genius.” So there we have the PCID quality control - a single “genius” member of the editorial board vouches for the paper and it’s in. As someone who has both published and refereed papers, I don’t like that one bit and perhaps this explains why no one of note has published in PCID.

Given this, let’s look at who has actually published in PCID. (I have omitted the October 2003 issue devoted to philosophy of mind because as a purely philosophical issue it has little relevence to the application of design to biological evolution).

ISCID Fellows Robert C. Koons - Professor of philosophy at University of Texas, Austin

Bill Dembski (x4) - Associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University

Michael J. Behe - Professor of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University

Paul Nelson - With the Discovery Institute

Jonathan Wells - With the Discovery Institute

Forrest M. Mims - Self-employed atmospheric scientist

Christopher M. Langan - President of the Mega Foundation which provides “aid, support and camaraderie to the ‘severely gifted’ in order to help these creative individuals realize their dreams.”

Karl D. Stephan (x2) - Associate Professor, Department of Technology, Texas State University

Neil Broom - Associate professor, Department of chemical and materials engineering, University of Auckland

Non-fellows

John R. Bracht (x2) - Graduate student, Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego.

James A. Barham - Graduate student, History & Philosophy of Science, Notre Dame

Dermott J. Mullan (x2) - Professor of Astrophysics at University of Delaware

Philip R. Page - Technical Staff Member, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Jolanta Koszteyn - Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Science

Piotr Lenartowicz - Professor, School of Philosophy and Education, Cracow

Arie S. Issar - Emeritus professor, J. Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Granville Sewell - Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Texas El-Paso

Phillip L. Engle - Data modeller with Mellon Bank

Jakob Wolf - Professor, Department of Systematic Theology, University of Copenhagen

Quinn Tyler Jackson - “author and researcher”

Iain G.D. Strachan - Computer science, AEA Technology, Harwell, U.K.

Frank J. Tipler - Professor, Department of Mathmatics, Tulane University.

David Owen - Graduate student, Software engineering, West Virginia University

John A. Davison - Department of Biology, University of Vermont

Darel R. Finley - unable to find any information; perhaps attached to MD Anderson Cancer Center in some capacity, but not as clinical or scientific faculty.

Richard A. Johns - unable to find any information

Joshua A. Smart - unable to find any information

That’s a total of 27 authors accounting for 31 papers. Twelve of these papers (38.7%) were written by members of the PCID editorial board - this seems just a little incestuous to me. Still, let’s assume that the board are being “fair and balanced” (as we have no idea of the acceptance rate of papers and the source of papers that are rejected, we can only assume this). It is noticable that the authors above are largely minor scientists at best and graduate students or unknowns at worst - Tipler may be the exception, but his paper offered no science. Organismal biologists are notably in the minority. Indeed, equally as noticable is that the papers published offer no new biological data or experiments. Frankly, even if the peer-reviewing process is stringent, no attempt is being made to provide and test explicit design hypotheses within the biological realm.

So in summary, what do we have? Firstly, neither Wells, Behe, Dembski nor Nelson appear to be currently publishing original research in mainstream scientific journals. Secondly, the research cited by ID supporters is not produced by ID supporters, and these authors do not see their research as supportive of the Discovery Institute’s anti-evolutionary program. Lastly, PCID‘s review system is unorthodox and has not yielded any substantive advances in scientific inquiry being largely philosophical discussions, anti-establishment rhetorical diatribes or rehersals of jaded arguments from probability.

Here are my friendly suggestions if ISCID members and design advocates want to be taken seriously.

  • Dembski’s stand that he has “gotten kind of blase about submitting things to journals where you often wait two years to get things into print … And I find I can actually get the turnaround faster by writing a book and getting the ideas expressed there. My books sell well. I get a royalty. And the material gets read more.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education Dec. 21, 2001), positively hurts any hope that ID has in becoming accepted among the larger scientific community. Publish papers.
  • Publish in peer-reviewed journals in philosophy, statistics, mathematics and complexity theory. Journals such as Complexity would, I’m sure, be interested in what they have to say (indeed that very journal has published a review by Bracht of Stu Kauffman’s Investigations). Therein they can workout their theories of design and its detection to their heart’s content. If the paper gets rejected - resubmit. If it gets rejected again, feel free to post it unrefereed online and make bitter comments about what Tipler calls the “pygmies standing in judgement on giants.” Dembski has failed to publish qua mathematician and has proceeded directly to self-publishing. That is a mistake.
  • If ID has something to say about biological evolution, do biological research - not literature surveys, statistical simulations, thought experiments, etc. Generate biological hypotheses that come from the design perspective. Make sure these hypotheses can differentiate between evolutionary and design predictions. Test them using observation or experiment. Rinse. Repeat. Despite what Phil Johnson and others say, radical ideas do get published in mainstream journals. (Tipler implicitly admits this in his paper, as all his Nobel winners did get their papers published in mainstream journals eventually, just not their first-choice journals.)

Only then will the “pygmies” take the “giants” seriously.

3 TrackBacks

Interesting post over at Panda's Thumb on the 'peer-review' system of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design - which is an Intelligent Design organisation (ie Creationist front). The thing i love about the creationists is that... Read More

Interesting post over at Panda's Thumb on the 'peer-review' system of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design - which is an Intelligent Design organisation (ie Creationist front). The thing i love about the creationists is that... Read More

Peer Reviewed Research from People and World on May 15, 2006 3:06 AM

Peer Reviewed Research John M. Lynch posted Entry 222 on May 20, 2004 02:31 PM. Trackback URL: http://degas.fdisk.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/221 ISCID is... Read More

242 Comments

Is the claim about “papers on other cites” supporting ID a logical fallacy or just an old fashioned lie?

Oops, I did mean “sites.”

“Tipler proposes a second tier of publishing which “will consist of publishing a paper in the journal automatically if the paper is submitted with letters from several leading experts in the field saying ‘this paper should be published.’ … A genius could interact directly with another genius.””

In fact, this is exactly how publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America works. Get a NAS member and two of his friends to attest to the quality of your paper, and it’s in. NAS members, certified geniuses that they are, can also “contribute” papers with no review at all. This is one of the reasons it publishes over 16,000 pages per volume. It also has a conventionally-reviewed mode, in case you don’t know anyone famous. PNAS has worked like this since 1914; a number of other prestigious society journals work the same way.

Alton Naur,

I think that is the way PNAS used to work, but they had problems in the 80s with a few NAS members publishing crackpot theories in PNAS. PNAS has three different tracks.

Track I. An Academy member may “communicate” manuscripts for others that are within the member’s area of expertise. Prior to submission to PNAS, the member obtains outside reviews of the paper from at least two qualified referees, each from a different institution and not from the authors’ institutions. The names and contact information, including e-mails, of referees who reviewed the paper, along with the reviews and the authors’ response must be included.

Track II. Authors (members or non members) may submit their manuscripts directly to the PNAS office. In a cover letter, authors may recommend appropriate Editorial Board members, NAS members who are expert in the paper’s scientific area, and qualified referees. The Editorial Board may choose a member as editor for the paper who is not on that list or may reject the paper without further review. The member-editor conducts the review of the paper as described for Track I. A list of members including research interests is on the PNAS home page (see NAS members): www.pnas.org. The name of the member-editor, who may remain anonymous to the author until the paper is accepted, will be published in PNAS as editor of the article. Track III. An Academy member may submit his or her own manuscripts for publication. Members’ submissions must be accompanied by the name of knowledgeable colleague(s) who reviewed the paper, along with the review(s). All Tracks. Manuscripts submitted under any of the three tracks are evaluated by the Editorial Board. The Board may reject manuscripts without further review or may subject manuscripts to review and reject those that do not meet the standards of the journal. Manuscripts rejected by one member cannot be resubmitted through another member. When revisions are requested prior to final decision, revised papers must be received within three months or they will be treated as new submissions. In the journal, Track I, II, and III papers are distinguished respectively as “Communicated by,” “Edited by,” and “Contributed by” the responsible member. Track II papers have an additional identifying footnote.

Let’s get this clear. The only requirements for publication in PCID are (1) that the article “meet basic scholarly standards and be relevant to the study of complex systems” and (2) that the article be approved by any one of the 50+ Fellows, and this Fellow may even be the author of the article! The approving Fellow can be self-appointed and need not have any relevant expertise. The idea that this constitutes “peer review” is a joke.

Add to this the fact that most, if not all, of the Fellows are proponents of a particular belief (ID) rejected by the vast majority of scientists and that many of them are politically active in support of this belief, and it becomes clear that ISCID and PCID exist primarily for the promotion of this one belief. It’s not surprising, then, that when you look at the actual content, it turns out to be largely the usual ID pseudoscientific junk.

To the extent that the PNAS is open to all comers, it is worthy of note that there are precious few papers advancing “intelligent design” ideas in PNAS. I suggest this is one further piece of evidence that there is no science in ID.

Also, apart from the recent flaps about what is governmental peer review, federal research grants have relatively tight standards about what is peer review, in order to make more standard the analyses of the publication records of grant applicants. After some problems in the early 1980s, Congress imposed the possibility of criminal penalties for falsely claiming peer review where none exists.

Has anyone else noticed that, in addition to there being no discernible research agenda from ID, none of the ID advocates gets federal funding based on their claims of peer review of ID? One might be reminded of the Arkansas trial in 1981 where, when put under oath and penalty of perjury, each creationist noted that there is no science basis to creationism, but instead their views are informed by their interpretation of scripture.

Could any ID advocate pass muster as an “expert” in the area under any state’s rules for expert witnesses? I doubt it.

John Lynch said:

“Darel R. Finley - unable to find any information; perhaps attached to MD Anderson Cancer Center in some capacity, but not as clinical or scientific faculty.”

Maybe this is why: http://www.alienryderflex.com/evolu[…]default.html

Of couse, one can self-publish and earn a Nobel Prize in Physiology. Peter Mitchell did it with the famous grey books, (which I have facsimile copies of), and he did it with a body of theory (chemiosmotic coupling) that was viewed by many of his colleagues as utterly heretical. Of course, the grey books contained the extended arguments; Mitchell ALSO published papers in the peer-reivewed biochemical and physiological literature. And he did most of his work in a nonacademic setting, a self-funded laboratory in the English countryside. Ultimately, he swayed even his sternest critics including Paul Boyer. (See P D Boyer, B Chance, L Ernster, P Mitchell, E Racker, E C Slater, 1977, Ann Rev Biochem 46:955 for the review that was, in effect, the field’s announcement that a paradigm shift had occurred.)

It is difficult to convey to people without some biochemical background how revolutionary Mitchell’s ideas were. I think this is *the* classic modern case in which biologists were convinced to adopt a totally new explanatory model in the face of accumulating data.

But there (at least!) two important differences between Mictchell and the ID crowd, however. First, Mitchell vigorously engaged his colleagues in the field. He went to meetings and maintained a voluminous correspondence with his critics. He did not wander off to start new institutes, new journals that were isolated from the field. He actively engaged and confronted his critics. He never seriously entertained the possibility that his critics were too “hidebound” or “reactionary” to change their views. He knew that the onus was on *him* to sharpen his arguments, and that his efforts would be for naught if he could not convince his colleagues. (In fact, one could say the same of Darwin himself!)

Second, Mitchell’s theory made specific predictions, and he did experiments - lots of experiments - to test these predictions. Merely proposing the first and second chemiosmotic hypotheses would not have been sufficient for a paradigm shift or a Nobel Prize. Modern biology is, above all, a synthesis of theory (or model-building, if you prefer) with vigorous biological experimentation and observation. That, in my view, is the critical difference between a genius like Mitchell, and a crank like Dembski.

Re: Finley’s site.

“Intermediate-like creatures such as Archaeopteryx or the therapsids could be a designer’s early prototypes.”

“Creationists such as myself are open to consider many possible ways that God might have chosen to create life, but are required by the empirical evidence to discard most of these ways, including discarding evolution.”

I’m tempted to assume that this implies God has trouble getting organisms right on the first try..

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

Is this site named “Panda’s Thumb” or is it, “Get Dembski”?:)

Here’s my background:

1. I am an attorney, specializing in cancer cases; 2. I, therefore, have to hire zillions of experts (pathologists, biochemists, oncologists, etc,) at usurious rates (sometimes up to $500/hour!) 3. I, therefore, have to cross-examine the other side’s expensive, well-qualified experts at trial; 4. I, therefore, know just enough science to make me dangerously, incompletely informed; 5. I also get to see, first hand, numerous schisms in the scientific/medical community on numerous issues; 6. But, I rarely see the rancor and teeth-gnashing exhibited in this debate, Evolution v. ID.

Here’s my observations:

1. This site has some serious intellectual fire-power. It is an outstanding resource. Well Done!;

2. But after reviewing most of the posts and comments, I now understand the reasons behind the rancor; a. The evolution crowd does not believe ID is even a theory, nor that evolution is less than a fact.

b. The ID crowd is, partly, motivated by theologists, not scientists.

Hence, a schism in communications. Hence, the rancor.

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; 7. Worry less about the characters of the persons promoting theories or their motivations, and more about the theories, test results and predictions themselves; and 8. Avoid rancor and ad hominem. Humor is always a good balm; Again, I say this as man who has an undying affection and respect for science and scientists, who really has no stake in the outcome, and who, instinctively, on a lay level, tends to accept evolution as the best explanation of origins and cause.

Cheers, y’all.

Navy Davy,

I am not a man of science either - unless you count my undergrad degree in Physics acquired >20 years ago. I am a middle-level employee in a large organisation - that treats me pretty well. I am concerned that pseudoscientists are given so much mileage in the US and more that my children will have to learn the junk they peddle - I live now in Ohio. I know enough of science to know that your solution - nothing more than passing a fiat - is wrong, obsolete, discredited and pretty much useless. PT exists to provide a forum for practicing scientists as well as those who believe in science even if they don’t make a living out of it. So there is no question of thinking in terms of “dominant theory” minority theory”, etc, weighing the evidence etc., since the managers of this site and its wellwishers intend to stick to the scientific method like leeches since there hasn’t been any other for a few centuris now. Each one of the processes your suggest in your list #3 to 8 have already been done by science and been dicked by the pseudoscientists running the what-shall-i-call-it ID movement. It is hard to avoid references to Dembski as a person because that is pretty much all you see when he writes - because when I have heard him talk once on a video in a debate with Genie Scott and a Christian philosopher from U.Notre Dame - Genie trounced him on matters of science and the philosopher from ND (sorry for forgetting your name) tore his ‘theories’ about religion and faith. When after being refuted like this at every debate and after his errors, howlers and misquotes have been pointed out every time, a person continues to parrot the same point - one cannot help but question what the person is up to. Bill may be a great guy to have a beer with - I don’t know. But as far as his work in science is concerned it is no work at all. Humor is a good balm but can be dangerous. Because whenever I read Dembski and his students I can’t help splitting my sides in laughter. I need all the humor I can get!

RE: Finley’s site RE: Evolutionists

“By deliberately concealing strong negative evidence, they are in gross violation of the scientific attitude.”

Nothing like a good conspiracy theory to grossly excuse the inability to substantiate one’s opinion.

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Superstition of every sort is the norm among a majority - rationalism be damned. But rarely anywhere in the world do you find pseudoscientists so well funded and feted as you do in the US. France has its share of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists - but the mainstream intellectual establishment treats them as cranks. I cannot think of any legislative body in the world excepting the US Congress that has ever invited pseudoscientists to testify about their theories. M.M.Joshi former HRD Minister in India despite being a qualified physicist and encouraging cutting edge research in the basic sciences tried to give a leg up to astrology and other junk. He has lost his seat in parliament this time; but even at the height of his powers he never managed to gain any legislative mileage for his crank theories - even as the scientific establishment in India continued to invite him for all sorts of scientific conferences. In Australia despite there being a well funded creationist movement there is no official legitimacy of any sort for junkscience. Richard Milton in the UK who wrote a pseudosientific tract on evolution (and referenced profusely in Cornelius Hunter’s anti-science ID apologia) was laughed out of the mainstream and is today considered a minor distraction.

Johnnie C.,

I am also attorney but have the added advantage of having a Ph.D. in molecular biology from UC Berkeley.

Great. What do you do as an attorney? How do you use your background as a molecular biologist?

I am sure you appreciate the fact that courtrooms are not the best venues for determining the merits of a scientific theory.

.…Except for the Scopes Monkey Trial. Didn’t you see “Inherit the Wind”? :)

I’m rather surprised to see you admit that you know next to nothing about the issues being debated here and yet you feel compelled to offer a “proposed solution.”

I feel “compelled” to do no such thing. Why the silly haughtiness? It makes me think you’ve never tried a case in your life. Gotta be friendly to convince a jury. Also (as I said), I do know a few (perhaps many) things about cancer.

Your solution strikes me as rather quaint.

Quaint? Seems kind of clear and straightforward to me. Form a hypothesis and test it.

2. ID be treated as the minority theory; What about the theory that a giant space bat pooped out the earth and all its inhabitants and fossils unintentionally?

Good theory! Can it be tested?

Why should we not treat that as the minority theory as well?

You can if you want! Forgive me, if I prefer not to join you, though. Seems kinda goofy to me.

Can you prove that didn’t happen?

Either you’ve never tried a case or you have, but have chosen not to employ those elementary logic skills here.

3. Determine if (1) and/or (2) are testable; (1) is testable and has been tested thousands of times and tests are consistent with the theory.

Great. Don’t need thousands, just 1. What’s the best test, in your view?

(2) has not even been sufficiently articulated to be testable. There are no testable predictions from ID.

Well, if true, ID folks need to either sufficiently articulate or go away.

5. Analyze the results to see if the theories are proven more likely than not true, or more likely than not false; See (3). Geez, you really aren’t familiar with this area.

And, besides your credentials (appeals to authority rarely work), you’ve made exactly ZERO substantive comments. You’re like the poster boy for Kuhn’s, “The Structure of Scientific Revolution.” A know-it-all, who has nothing to say.

Done, over and over again. There are literally mountains of peer-reviewed research which support evolution.

Again, don’t need “mountains.” Just 1, thanks. Preferably, the most convincing one, too. I’d like to hear each side’s best – kinda like the World Series.

There is NOTHING for ID. NADA. ZILCH.

Sorry, hyperbole ain’t persuasive. I’m sure some ID proponents have (a) an articulable theory and (b) a proposed means to test it. This, of course, doesn’t mean the test will convince me (or anyone else) that the theory is true.

This is where my senses start tingling, Navy Davy, because surely as an attorney you realize that evidence of bias is great for impeachment.

I don’t care if your senses are “tingling’ or not. This is Law school stuff. Both sides are biased in what they believe. In the scientific arena of ideas, I’m interested in what is TRUE or not.

The fact that ID creationists almost entirely consist of non-scientist non-biologist religious figures who are funded by a conservative religious think tank is a fact that can NOT be ignored in this “debate.”

Perhaps. Proposed compromise: Defer issues of bias until AFTER examinations of the theories.

As an attorney, you may believe that the obvious impeachment value of this information is attenuated by the possibility that the jury will be sympathetic towards the inane religious hucksters.

Incoherent. Also, ad hominem.

8. Avoid rancor and ad hominem. Humor is always a good balm; I agree. I tell you what. Why don’t you educate yourself on the issues here and debate a freak like Jerry Don Bauer for a couple days. We’ll see how humorous you feel after that.

I’ve read some of JDB’s posts. He may be wrong, but I wouldn’t call him a freak or you a freak.

Question to the crowd: How many of you endorse my sober, thoughtful, humorous, non-controversial approach as opposed to, well,.… Johnnie C’s ?approach?

Cheers, y’all. (Still a damn good site, too!)

As yet another attorney, I disagree with Navy Davy.

I would analogize the ID crowd to the plaintiff’s lawyer in mediation who begins the discussion with an exhorbitant demand in a frivolous case. By starting at (say) $25 million, the lawyer hopes to wear out the other side and collect a significant sum, even though the actual value of his case may be virtually nothing.

Similarly, the actual value of ID is zero. Zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Navy Davy can plead, “this is hyperbole!” as much as he likes, but it doesn’t change the utter lack of value that ID has had in the scientific community. Five dozen threads here at Panda’s Thumb attest to that.

To that end, bringing ID to the table is a mistake. They don’t get to make a demand; they’re not worth a counteroffer. They should be the subject of a motion to dismiss.

That’s what we’re doing.

Johnnie C. Wrote:

(2) has not even been sufficiently articulated to be testable. There are no testable predictions from ID.

NavyDavy Wrote:

Well, if true, ID folks need to either sufficiently articulate or go away.

It is, and they do, but they won’t.

ID consists entirely of expressions of incredulity aimed at the methods and conclusions of legitimate biologists. It makes no predictions, has produced no research program, and is not falsifiable. And if you can find an example of anything produced by any ID’er that contradicts that, please share it. I’ve given up looking, myself …

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;

This sounds like a pretty good plan to me. Now all we need to do is get some advocates of ID to show that their hypothesis is testable and propose some tests by which we could either accept or reject it. I mean, surely supporters of the mainstream theory shouldn’t be the ones who have the burden of proof of coming up with ways to test any idea anyone proposes, right? The people who are proposing the alternative should be the ones coming up with tests for it. 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.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot of attorneys reading The Panda’s Thumb? I wonder why that is. Curious.

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Howdy Navy Davy,

Except for the Scopes Monkey Trial. Didn’t you see “Inherit the Wind”? :)

Perhaps this was said in jest. There was no scientific evidence presented in the Scopes trial.

The adversarial approach would not work well in science. For one thing, there is never a verdict. Scientific theories must always be amenable to change given new data or a superior explanation of existing data. All scientists have the same goal, to find the best explanation. Also, the adversarial approach assumes two mutually exclusive and exhaustive positions on the issue. There is often more than two sides to any given scientific issue.

Gotta be friendly to convince a jury.

The jury in this case doesn’t care how friendly you phrase your argument. Only how good it is.

Seems kind of clear and straightforward to me. Form a hypothesis and test it.

Yep, that’s the way.

Good theory! Can it be tested?

Testing is important. Unfortunately, the ID folk claim that we can know nothing of the designer or the means by which they(it) designed, even in principle, using their “theory”.

You can if you want! Forgive me, if I prefer not to join you, though. Seems kinda goofy to me.

Something isn’t a ‘minority theory’ simply becuase it’s believed by a minority. It must first have the characteristics of a scientific theory in the first place. ID does not.

Great. Don’t need thousands, just 1. What’s the best test, in your view?

Scientific theories are generally supported or not on the weight of the accumulated evidence rather than using a ‘magic bullet’ mentality.

Well, if true, ID folks need to either sufficiently articulate or go away.

They have found a third option. Ignore the scientific process altogeher and go over the scientist’s heads to the public at large.

Again, don’t need “mountains.” Just 1, thanks. Preferably, the most convincing one, too. I’d like to hear each side’s best — kinda like the World Series.

Even the World Series is decided in 4-7 games, not one. I recommend you check out Doug Theobald’s article over at Talk Origins.

Sorry, hyperbole ain’t persuasive. I’m sure some ID proponents have (a) an articulable theory and (b) a proposed means to test it.

They do? This is news. How can it be tested? Certain claims by it’s advocates may be testable, but ID itself cannot be tested as there nothing to prevent the designers from mimicking evolution.

In the scientific arena of ideas, I’m interested in what is TRUE or not.

Science is not about truth, it’s about evidence.

Perhaps. Proposed compromise: Defer issues of bias until AFTER examinations of the theories.

First the IDers need to propose a theory, then test it.

DaveS,

Between trials, I have free time. My field is cancer. Work with many pre-eminent cancer scientists, some who are members of National Academy of Science. So, they inundate me with genes, chromsomes, mutations, mitosis, which is similar to this stuff. I find it fascinating, then I stumbled on to this site.

Adam Marcyzk,

Fully agreed. Are there any ID folks, who want to accept the challenge? Specifically, we want:

1. An articulated theory; and 2. A suitable means to test the theory.

We also want the same from the Evol crowd, too. But, please, NO more lawyers:)

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot of attorneys reading The Panda’s Thumb? I wonder why that is. Curious.

Have you looked around the Thumb recently? The amount of beer on the floor alone is enough to launch scores of liability suits.

Andy “.…and its about time for the Aquatic Ape to bite someone again.…” Groves

Navy Davy,

Something on “Theory”. Scientists love theories that open up more questions not ones that shut down enquiry - as long as the theory itself isn’t coming out of a crank hypothesis. Because when we look at predictions arising from a theory we are looking at what it doesn’t predict and why. Which is why even today half-a-dozen are investigating gravity - a 17th century model that many might wrongly assume has been tied up and put away. So once you come to a point where you can explain an event you look for things you can’t. Logically so, scientists giving a wide berth to IDists want to know what’s the next stop for ID. OK ID created you me and everything else. Now who/what is that IDesigner? How does he/she/it create? Considering Bill D has decided that creation violates the known physical; laws, is the dashed thing amenable to physical laws at all or are I.Dists going to come up with the 4th law of motion, the 4th Law of Thermo. etc.? I guess that is the final step in the “ID revolution”?

“I agree. I tell you what. Why don’t you educate yourself on the issues here and debate a freak like Jerry Don Bauer for a couple days. We’ll see how humorous you feel after that.”

Haha, Jerry’s presence on the net is in itself an argument to pick on ID-ers, imho.

May I suggest that we please refrain from using ad hominems. I understand the frustations involved as I have also tried to communicate with Jerry Don but I find the use of ad hominems to be overly distracting, unnecessary and counter-productive.

Navy Davy

When I said that my senses were tingling, I was referring to a feeling of doubt regarding the honesty of some statements you made, particularly your statement that you “tend” “to accept evolution as the best explanation of origins and cause.”

Based on what you’ve written here, I think you are less than truthful about where your allegiances lie. If I’m wrong … sue me. ;)

Also, I am troubled, although not particularly surprised, to find that an attorney who deals with “expensive experts” from the NAS in cancer cases appears to know so little about the nature of scientific research or the current state of understanding of molecular evolutionary biology.

Why don’t you ask one of your National Academy experts whether they believe that it is mathematically impossible for E.coli to have evolved its flagellum and that, therefore, the flagellum must have been “intelligently designed”?

Also ask them if they’d like to go on the record about their beliefs, i.e., would they be willing to discuss their beliefs here on Panda’s Thumb?

Of course, if I was an attorney on the other side of one of your cases and I was looking for a statement to impeach your expert’s credentials, I think the fact that your expert has publicly proclaimed his belief in a wacky fringe theory promulgated by a political think tank that has virtually NO support from the scientific community would be great evidence for impeachment. I’d have that expert quacking like a duck in no time.

Navy Davy,

Sorry if I’m bringing this off topic, but I am also interested in cancer research. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the following passage, which I came across in an article the other day:

“I quickly learned from reviewing the recent scientific literature that cancer is not correlated with any consistent pattern of DNA mutations, but it is correlated with abnormalities at the chromosomal level – a phenomenon called “chromosomal instability” (Lengauer et al., 1998). Chromosomal instability, in turn, is correlated with centrosome abnormalities – particularly the presence of extra or enlarged centrosomes. A growing number of researchers regard cancer not as a DNA disease, but as a “centrosomal disease” (Brinkley and Goepfert, 1998; Pihan et al., 1998; Lingle and Salisbury, 2000).”

In your experience, is DNA mutation correlated with cancer?

You probably see a very different side of cancer biology than I do. I’m just curious what your take on this notion is.

Matt,

Sounds like Jonathan Wells’ article over at ISCID. I read it, and even to my non-biologist mind, it sounded flaky. (And hey–any other teachers out there? We’re not *all* lawyers.)

On a side note, Darel R. Finley, one of the contributing ‘authors’ to PSID, is a computer programmer.

NavyDavy’s email address (ddsteele@…) reminded me of a D. David Steele who wrote a few articles from the “HIV dissenters” point of view. Funny to see the same arguments rehashed in 2001 here.

I think they’re the same person (see here and scroll down to “Who is David Steele?”).

I didn’t think anybody took that dissent stuff seriously anymore (at least, not since the early 1990’s).

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on May 20, 2004 2:31 PM.

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