The “Meyer 2004” Medley

| 31 Comments | 1 TrackBack

This post is the one-stop shop for information on the publication of Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.

The following are links to material available online concerning the Meyer 2004b paper.

Background for the discussion:

The Chronology:

2004/08/24: Meyer's Hopeless Monster
The initial critique (and first public notice of the paper) by Gishlick, Matzke, and Elsberry.
2004/08/25: IDist Stephen Meyer in peer-reviewed journal
Thread on ARN discussion board.
2004/08/26: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
Initially offered a PDF of Meyer 2004b. The link went down within hours.
2004/08/26: Internet Infidels Thread on ID conference
Shows Richard von Sternberg as an ID advocate going to Finland to plug ID
2004/08/27: Meyer: Cambrian Explosion and CSI?
by Pim van Meurs.
2004/08/27: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
Offered an HTML version of Meyer 2004b along with a statement saying that Meyer would be responding to the Gishlick et al. critique.
2004/08/27: ID in the spotlight?
NCSE news item on publication of Meyer 2004b and the PT critique.
2004/08/28: Thread on AE Discussion Board
Notice of the DI offers of Meyer 2004b
2004/08/29: Meyer v Gilbert
by Pim van Meurs.
2004/08/30: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
Offers the HTML text of Meyer 2004b. No longer mentions PT or Meyer making any response to criticism.
2004/08/30: UPI article on Meyer 2004b
Briefly recounts the publication of Meyer 2004b, primarily based on the NCSE news item.
2004/08/31: Icons of ID: No preCambrian ancestors
by Pim van Meurs.
2004/09/03: The Scientist
Trevor Stokes' article on the publication of Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/03: More on Meyer
NCSE news item providing an update on developments concerning Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/03: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
DI CSC Press release on The Scientist's report on Meyer's peer-reviewed journal article. The DI CSC links to the story about the Meyer article in the The Scientist, complains of "hand-wringing and complaining from Darwinian activists unhappy with the paper's publication," (no mention of the PT critique) and portrays The Scientist article as confirming the peer-review of the article: "the Proceedings editor confirmed that the article had been subjected to the standard peer-review process." No mention that "the editor" is Sternberg, a guy with long-time ID/creationist ties.
2004/09/04: More On Meyer
by Tim Sandefur.
PT "After the Bar Closes" Discussion Board Thread
More answers to criticisms of the critique of Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/06: Creationist Stephen Meyer in peer-reviewed article
Thread on ARN discussion board.
2004/09/07: BSW repudiates Meyer
NCSE news item on a statement from the Council of the Biological Society of Washington on Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/08: Peer-reviewed paper defends theory of intelligent design
News item in Nature about Meyer 2004b, the DI response to criticism, and mention of the PT critique.
2004/09/08: Meyer 2004 and Deja Vu All Over Again
by Wesley R. Elsberry. This article demonstrates how over a third of the Meyer 2004b paper comes from a previously published source.
2004/09/09: Of Panda's and Peers: Critiquing the Critics of Intelligent Design
Joe Carter's response to the MHM critique of Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/10: The Chronicle of Higher Education
by Richard Monastersky.
2004/09/10: Microdissecting Meyer
Paul Z. Myers rips apart one paragraph from Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/13: UPI article on BSW repudiation of Meyer 2004b
Brief news item.
2004/09/13: CSICOP Doubt and About
by Chris Mooney. Recounts a similar tale from the field of climate science plus Meyer 2004b. Links to both the "Meyer's Hopeless Monster" and the "Meyer 2004 and Deja Vu All Over Again" articles here at PT. Interesting coincidence on the titles, too.
2004/09/14: Rael Press File
Press release from the Raelians citing Meyer 2004b as vindication of "intelligent design" as science. The Raelians, for those coming late to the program, are atheists who believe that life on earth was seeded and guided by benevolent extraterrestrials.
2004/09/15: Crosswalk.com
Panicked Evolutionists: The Stephen Meyer Controversy, by R. Albert Mohler. The same old stuff, including repeating the DI CSC falsehood that there has been no critique of the scientific issues raised by Meyer.
2004/09/16: Richard v. Sternberg Home Page
Richard v. Sternberg tells his version of events leading to the publication of Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/20: Rael Press File
The Raelians encourage the teaching of both "intelligent design" and evolution in schools.
2004/09/21: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
Meyer responds to errors in Chronicle of Higher Education article, by Stephen C. Meyer. Meyer claims that other ID work is "peer-reviewed" and that his paper is within the scope of topics of PBSW. (The BSW Council obviously has no idea what it is talking about when it asserts otherwise.)
2004/09/21: Christianity.ca web log
Post by Denyse O'Leary claiming that reading PT is like watching centuries of civilization go down the drain.
2004/09/23: Access Research Network
The Weekly Wedge Update, by Mark Hartwig. Hartwig spends the entire article in meta-discussion about the peer-review process for Meyer 2004b and no time whatever addressing the "scientific issues" or, for that matter, the Gishlick et al. critique of Meyer 2004b.
2004/09/23: Meyer: Recycling Arguments.
Pim van Meurs tracks text across several iterations of Stephen C. Meyer's publications.
2004/09/24: American Association for the Advancement of Science
"Intelligent Design and Peer Review" page mentioning Meyer 2004b and the "Meyer's Hopeless Monster" critique.
2004/09/28: Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture
Well-known ID author "Staff" provides the first line of response to the MHM criticism. In short, "Staff" says we're bluffing. Actual content is supposed to follow in further installments. "Don't touch that dial..."

(The byline has changed from "Staff" to the grander "Fellows of the Center for Science & Culture". Who knows what else will change with commentary in response...)

2004/09/30: Deja vu again. Again.
Nick Matzke examines other examples of Meyer's recycling arguments and his statements on peer-review.

Please feel free to submit URLs to resources in the comments. As those are incorporated into the post, the comment may be removed.

Known URLs to get:

Various DI press releases and statements

1 TrackBack

The Meyer Article from Rite Wing Technopagan on January 31, 2005 8:36 AM

A one-stop location for a lot of the news and commentary about the publication of Meyer's paper on ID/IOT. Read More

31 Comments

Might have to go to a registration system given the flood of comment spam. The spam might be creationist fallout from L’Affaire Meyer.

This is my first post here. I’ve been reading Meyer’s recent paper on the origin of “biological information.” As I’ve read the critiques they seem to both address his main argument and to avoid it.

Meyer asks these questions: “Could a similar approach (referring to Conway Morris and the implications of convergence)shed explanatory light on the more general causal question that has been addressed in this review? Could the notion of purposive design help provide a more adequate explanation for the origin of organismal form generally? Are there reasons to consider design as an explanation for the origin of the bilogical information necessary to produce the higher taxa and their corresponding morphological novelty?”

Now I think there are defects in the presentation (for example, Meyers invokes CSI in such a way that he presumes familiarity with it. Thus he doesn’t sufficiently contrast CSI with other theories of information–I’m thinking here of Shannon’s theory), but I think it is deserving of scientific evaluation. He seems to be dismissed because he has no confidence in the explanatory power of the neo-Darwinia mechanism relative to biological complexity. When he states the following–“…[W]e saw that natural selection lacked the ability to generate novel oinformation precisely because it can only act after new functional CSI has arisen. … [W]ithout functional criteria to guide a search through the space of possible sequences, random variation is probabilistically doomed.”–isn’t this something that can be discussed?

I think this is a logically compelling dilemna, one that science should take seriously. The Latin root of science is “knowledge”; if the function of science is to acquire knowledge–and not simply doing something in a lab–then doesn’t this question deserve an answer?

I just finished looking at the latest issue of New Scientist. In their Book Review section there is a new book by James Valentine entitled “On the Origin of Phyla.” This seems not only to contradict some of the criticism direted at Meyers, but to posit the very question that Meyers raises.

Here is what the review says: “Living animals, the descendants of the Cambrian explosion, are classified by zoologists into more than 30 phyla - nobody can agree exactly how many - each corresponding to a different body design. They are amazingly diverse yet share many features of morphology and genes, so there is no question that they descended step-by-step from a common ancestor.

The problem that James Valentine addresses is how to infer these hidden and mysterious evolutionary steps. How are animals related one to another? And why do they appear as fossils so suddenly, an event known as the Cambrian explosion?

The science is still a work in progress. But this book will be an essential tool for anyone who takes a serious interest in one of the most intractable episodes in our planet’s long history.”

Meyers ends with: “An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate–and perhaps the most causally adequate–explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent. For this reason, recent scientific interest in the design hypothesis is unlikely to abate as biolgosits continue to wrestle with the problem of the origination of biological form and the higher taxa.”

Shouldn’t this question preoccupy us?

Let me stop here–I have to run–and wait for some initial response.

Mr.Vuoso: You have raised a number of questions related to Meyer’s review paper implying they have not been yet discussed. Really? All of the points you’ve mentioned have been discussed at length before and Meyer has not suggested a single point which has not been mulled over and given a good explanation more than once before. Therefore, instead of reproaching “evolutionists” for allegedly having not provided sufficient response to Meyer, perhaps you need to first educate yourself by getting acquainted with the pertinent literature. Perhaps a good place to start is the talkorigins archive. A lot of relevant material is available also on talkdesign.org, talkreason.org, the antoevolution site, etc, not to mention multiple printed sources. As to Gishlick-Matzke-Elsberry review of Meyer,these authors have explicitely indicated that theirs is a preliminary review (although even in its present form it addresses most of the points of Meyer’s article).

Pasquale Vuoso Wrote:

Meyers ends with: “An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate—and perhaps the most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent. For this reason, recent scientific interest in the design hypothesis is unlikely to abate as biologists continue to wrestle with the problem of the origination of biological form and the higher taxa.” Shouldn’t this question preoccupy us?

Perhaps, but not as much as other questions. Many critics of the ID strategy already believe that an intelligent designer is responsible for the origin of species. That plus the fact that the ultimate questions of causality are either forever unanswerable or have answers nowhere in sight make that a question of low priority for science.

Some of the questions that should be asked now are:

1. Where, when and how is CSI inserted? Michael Behe suggests in the first cell, 3.8 billion years ago, not in the early Cambrian. Is he right or wrong?

2. Are these Cambrian phyla related by common ancestry or not? And if not, will you ever propose a hypothesis of independent abiogenesis?

3. Since William Dembski said that ID can accommodate all the results of “Darwinism,” might the most likely mechanism of this design, or the insertion of CSI, be molecularly indistinguishable from evolutionary genetic changes.

4. Are IDers ever going to stop pretending that those arguments from incredulity qualify as evidence for any alternative theory?

5. Are IDers ever going to at least start to earn credibility in mainstream science by refuting those absurd young-earth arguments instead of being politically correct and just distancing themselves from YEC?

Pasquale Vuoso Wrote:

Now I think there are defects in the presentation (for example, Meyers invokes CSI in such a way that he presumes familiarity with it. Thus he doesn’t sufficiently contrast CSI with other theories of information—I’m thinking here of Shannon’s theory), but I think it is deserving of scientific evaluation. He seems to be dismissed because he has no confidence in the explanatory power of the neo-Darwinia mechanism relative to biological complexity. When he states the following—“ … [W]e saw that natural selection lacked the ability to generate novel oinformation precisely because it can only act after new functional CSI has arisen . … [W]ithout functional criteria to guide a search through the space of possible sequences, random variation is probabilistically doomed.”—isn’t this something that can be discussed?

I think this is a logically compelling dilemna, one that science should take seriously. The Latin root of science is “knowledge”; if the function of science is to acquire knowledge—and not simply doing something in a lab—then doesn’t this question deserve an answer?

Sewall Wright. Genetic drift. Motoo Kimura. Neutral theory. The discussion has been voluminous and is decades old. So far, it does not appear that the ID advocates have gotten familiar with the concepts, much less made some valuable contribution to the discussion.

This post from Vuoso demonstrates the dismal effect of credulous exposure to ID propaganda – the mischaracterizations of the state of evolutionary biology are such that they entail wholesale denial of a voluminous amount of research that has been accomplished already. The ID hogwash essentially is not only antievolution, not just anti-science, but is in essence anti-knowledge. If science is the acquisition of knowledge, then ID as I have all too often seen it practiced is the denial or obfuscation of that knowledge.

It is very sad that a review article, which should condense and make accessible broad knowledge on a particular topic, should instead engender (a somewhat pugnacious) ignorance. But that appears to be exactly the effect Meyer 2004 has had on at least one reader. The statement from the movie, “Billy Madison,” comes to mind: “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”

We didn’t “dismiss” Meyer 2004 – we demonstrated the wholesale omission of citation of relevant research, the mischaracterization of cited sources, and outright falsehoods being told about particular concepts. Deal with it.

Pasquale Vuoso Wrote:

I just finished looking at the latest issue of New Scientist. In their Book Review section there is a new book by James Valentine entitled “On the Origin of Phyla.” This seems not only to contradict some of the criticism direted at Meyers, but to posit the very question that Meyers raises.

Here is what the review says: “Living animals, the descendants of the Cambrian explosion, are classified by zoologists into more than 30 phyla - nobody can agree exactly how many - each corresponding to a different body design. They are amazingly diverse yet share many features of morphology and genes, so there is no question that they descended step-by-step from a common ancestor.

The problem that James Valentine addresses is how to infer these hidden and mysterious evolutionary steps. How are animals related one to another? And why do they appear as fossils so suddenly, an event known as the Cambrian explosion?

The science is still a work in progress. But this book will be an essential tool for anyone who takes a serious interest in one of the most intractable episodes in our planet’s long history.”

The review in question is at http://www.newscientist.com/opinion[…]p?id=ns24642

I didn’t see anything in the review of Valentine that “contradicts”, or is even inconsistent with, anything in our critique of Meyer 2004. (Contradiction has a very specific meaning.) We were specific in what we found objectionable in Meyer 2004, so I hope that Vuoso will prove similarly forthcoming with his explication of the components of the Valentine review and our critique that he believes are at odds.

That Valentine takes up the topic of the origin of phyla and the Cambrian explosion is in no way a vindication of Meyer 2004. I am utterly baffled by why anyone would think it would do so.

Pasquale Vuoso Wrote:

Meyers ends with: “An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate—and perhaps the most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent. For this reason, recent scientific interest in the design hypothesis is unlikely to abate as biolgosits continue to wrestle with the problem of the origination of biological form and the higher taxa.”

Shouldn’t this question preoccupy us?

The essential feature of “intelligent design” argumentation is that the ID advocates dwell upon systems and events for which we have little available evidence, and thus small experience. This is certainly true for the subject of the current paper. Where we have sufficient evidence to determine the origin of some biological feature conclusively, our uniform experience is that its origin is explained by theories of evolutionary biology. Beyond that, Meyer conflates the sort of “design” that we are familiar with by our experience (“ordinary design” in the terminology that Wilkins and I used in our 2001 paper, “The Advantages of Theft Over Toil”) with the sort of “design” that is inferred in ignorance of any knowledge of the putative designer (or “rarefied design” in our terminology). The final sentence from Meyer is distinctly odd, for it doesn’t speculate upon how well “intelligent design” will explain the available evidence, but rather what the level of “interest” it will have in the future, a clearly socio-political rather than scientific prognosis.

There are plenty of good resources available on the Cambrian “explosion” and pre-Cambrian life. Meyer 2004 isn’t one of them.

Comments not primarily about Meyer 2004 dumped to “The Bathroom Wall”.

Comments not primarily about Meyer 2004 dumped to “The Bathroom Wall”.

This news item, concerning Meyer’s article, appeared on an evangelical website yesterday. They make the claim that the NCSE is trying to censor Meyer’s article. Meyer even claims:

“Until a few days ago Darwinists have argued that intelligent design isn’t science because it hasn’t been published in peer-reviewed journals. But now that an increasing number of scientists are making their case for design in scientific publications, Darwinists are ready to disown peer review – temporarily, I’m sure.”

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 7, column 73, byte 591 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Salvador T. Cordova Wrote:

Sternberg’s professional qualifications in relevant fields, it seems, exceed even those of Gishlick, Elsberry, Matzke combined. So I hope that will be taken into consideration in view of charges the article is substandard science.

The credentials of Sternberg don’t change the content of Meyer 2004. That’s pure argument by authority, and it just doesn’t work in science.

The similar situation with regard to antievolutionist fascination with (mis)quotation is something I’ve commented upon before:

The antievolution fascination with quotations seems to stem from the anti-science mindset of “revelation”: testimonial evidence reigns supreme in theology, thus many antievolutionists may mistake that condition as being the same in science. However, science has pretty much eschewed assigning any intrinsic worth to testimonial evidence. Quotations from some source are taken as being an indication that some condition as stated holds according to the reliability of the speaker, as seen by reviewing the evidence. Antievolutionists “get” the first part, but have real difficulty coming to terms with the second part. If some Expert A says X, then the antievolutionist expects that no lesser known mortal will dare gainsay Expert A’s opinion on X. However, such a situation is routine in science. Anyone presenting Evidence Q that is inconsistent with X then has shown Expert A to be incorrect on X. If the person holding forth shows repeatedly that they can’t be trusted to tell us correct information on, say, trilobites, then that just means that we likely don’t hold any further talk on trilobites from that source in high regard.

http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/quotes/

We pointed out problems with Meyer 2004. The issue is whether our criticism stands up to scrutiny. Salvador has avoided dealing with the content of our criticism, and is apparently forced to adopt fallacious modes of argumentation to defend Meyer 2004.

I’ve pointed out to Salvador exactly what he needs to do to show that his boasting about the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper being the wrong citation to critique Meyer 2004 by was on track. These items are things that if I were wrong about, Salvador should quickly be able to show that I was wrong on. This is the FOURTH TIME I’ve entered this in response to Salvador’s comments here since August 31st. I’ll email them to him, too, just to eliminate any weak apologetic that he had somehow overlooked the previous presentations.

===================

(From http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]0.html#c7223 )

Salvador T. Cordova Wrote:

In the meantime, I hope Stephen Meyers will read these reviews and learn. I can confidently say he can ignore any challenges offered by the “Elsberry and Shallit 2003” paper. I don’t mind you guys building your case on it though. It’ll just be that more of an embarassment to see it all collapse when that paper is refuted.

It doesn’t matter if “the paper” is “refuted”; what matters is whether the particular claims made are supported and true. Here are the claims again:

2. Meyer relies on Dembski’s “specified complexity,” but even if he used it correctly (by rigorously applying Dembski’s filter, criteria, and probability calculations), Dembski’s filter has never been demonstrated to be able to distinguish anything in the biological realm — it has never been successfully applied by anyone to any biological phenomena (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

3. Meyer claims, “The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or ‘complex specified information’ (CSI) of the biological world.” Yet to substantiate this, Meyer would have to yield up the details of the application of Dembski’s “generic chance elimination argument” to this event, which he does not do. There’s small wonder in that, for the total number of attempted uses of Dembski’s CSI in any even partially rigorous way number a meager four (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (2), all one has to do is produce a citation in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing a complete and correct application of Dembski’s GCEA to a biological system such that “CSI” is concluded. Thus far, I’m unaware of any such instance. The only thing that makes any moves in that direction at all is Dembski’s section 5.10 of “NFL”, and we were careful to make clear why that one was both incomplete and incorrect.

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (3), all one has to do is produce citations in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing the attempted application of Dembski’s GCEA to more than four cases. I’m unaware of any further examples that have been published, but I’m perfectly open to revising our number to account for all the instances.

Until and unless those citations are forthcoming, the braggadacio about how the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper can be safely ignored seems somewhat out of place.

=====

I posted that on August 31st. As far as I can tell, neither Salvador nor any other ID advocate has made the slightest headway in showing that I was inaccurate in either claim made above. Salvador has taken up an aggressive grandstanding technique, though I think that it is obvious to all that there is little to no substance as yet to back it up. If I were wrong on the two points above, it seems to me that it would be simplicity itself for some ID advocate to show that I was wrong, and I would have expected that to happen already. I predict that what I’ve written here will again disappear into the ID memory hole of inconveniently true criticisms.

If I’m wrong here, though, I’m willing both to take my lumps and acknowledge whoever it is that shows me to be wrong. I’m still waiting for the documentation. I suspect I will wait a long, long time.

What is it with this Cordova fella anyway?! Darwin had a bulldog in Huxley, Dembski seems merely to have a yapping little terrier in Cordova.

It might be that the article was reviewed by Sternberg, but it was not reviewed accordingly to the guidelines for the journal in question, and while Sternberg’s qualifications seems impressive, he obviously didn’t do a stellar job in reviewing the article, as that would have expossed just some of the basic flaws of the article.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 5, column 146, byte 429 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Reading posts by Salvador Cordova makes me conclude that Panda’s Thumb dispays a lot of tolerance and patience, perhaps because of the entertaining value his escapades offer. Take, for example his so called discussion of Elsberry-Shallit’s paper which has convincingly destroyed Dembski’s “specified complexity.” Salvador’s hollow attacks on that paper only show the strength of Elsberry-Shallit’s argument to which Salvador cannot suggest anything beyond cries of a wounded admirer of Dembski. There is little new in that, though. Recall Salvador’s false accusation of Perakh of allegedly “lying” about Behe’s reference to Doolittle. Salvador was caught in distorting the actual situation. Were he indeed so devoted to pursuing truth, he would apologize. He never did. Now he suggests a ridiculous thesis: since Shallit used to be Dembski’s professor, then, when Shallit points to Dembski’s poor understanding of algoryhmic information theory, this implies that Shallit failed as a professor. Indeed? Even the best professors happen to have in their classes poor students. Shall we deem professors responsible for that? Shallit is certainly in a position to judge how well his former student Dembski mastered the material - and the verdict is clear - Dembski failed. Salvador often posts phillippics about the alleged sins of his opponents accusing them of ad hominem attacks, distortions, etc,etc. Look at a mirror, Salvador, and you will see the epitome of somebody guilty of all such sins.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 17, column 186, byte 1638 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Alan Gourant obviously confused Salvador T. Cordova for Nelson Alonso. See http://www.arn.org/cgi-bin/ubb/ulti[…]=13;t=001432

The confusion is understandable both Nelson and Salvador seem to be often unable to admit that they were wrong. Salvador’s recent claims are bombastic but as Wesley and others have shown missing the point. I wonder If Salvador could recognize the blantantly inaccurate accusations that he makes so often?

As far as Salvador’s ‘response’ to Eslberry and Shallit, by posting it at a restricted, invitation only discussion board (ISCID) he allows for little response. But as usual little in his ‘response’ seems to be really relevant or helpful to counter the simple observations that CSI is a meaningless concept and that the design inferences is inherently unreliable.

Everyone’s favourite UFO cult, the Raelians, have come out in support of Meyer and his paper. See Scientific creation recognized officially as a scientific theory for the origin of life.

“Biology will go so fast once biologists stop being blinded by the evolution theory and I am sure that in ten years from now scientists will look back and wonder why they accepted evolution for so long” Dr. Boisselier, spokesperson of the Raelian Movement.

I believe that’s Brigitte Boisselier of human cloning infamy.

9/22 Another piece from the DI

It mentions Mooney, but still “neglects” to point readers to the PT critique. This pattern of behavior is highly suggestive that the DI is afraid of the critique. They want it to go away and concentrate on peripherial issues.

“KC” is doing a good job of analyzing and rebutting some of Meyer’s mistakes on this thread on ARN, with some nice analysis of Meyer’s misrepresentations about the development of body plans particularly on this page.

RBH

Comments not primarily about Meyer 2004b put on the Bathroom Wall.

In a refreshing move, the Discovery Institute has stopped claiming that the only response to Meyer’s paper has been name-calling and hysteria, and instead has begun to issue a reply to the critique:

One Long Bluff: The Gishlick, Matzke and Elsberry Response to Stephen Meyer’s Peer-Reviewed Article

By: Fellows of the Center for Science & Culture Discovery Institute September 29, 2004

The September 9, 2004 issue of Nature reported the publication of an article advocating the theory of intelligent design in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The article, written by Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Stephen C. Meyer and titled “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” was published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW). [1, 2]

The mere fact that the article was published has generated intense controversy. Many in the Darwinist establishment have criticized the editor of PBSW for even considering an article advocating the theory of intelligent design. Except for one essay posted on the Internet, however, there has not been much in the way of actual scientific critique of the article’s contents. This posting is the first of several responses to that one essay.

According to the Nature report, “Meyer’s article has attracted a lengthy rebuttal on The Panda’s Thumb, a web site devoted to evolutionary theory.” The supposed rebuttal [3], titled “Meyer’s Hopeless Monster,” was written by Alan Gishlick, Nicholas Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry [hereafter GME], all of whom are staff members of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an organization that insists there is no evidence against neo-Darwinian evolution and that opposes any criticisms of Darwinian theory in public schools.

Since Nature has given prominence to this hastily written essay, we will respond to it fully, in a series of installments over the next days and weeks. This posting constitutes the first installment and provides a road map to our detailed critique of GME and defense of Meyer.

[…]

Let me be the first to wish them luck in their endeavor…

(Literature bluffing, eh? That must be why we included the direct links to all of those articles we cited…)

Wait, they are only responding to the MHM comments because they were mentioned in Nature? This is a wierd statement considering that DI initially said that Meyer was going to be responding MHM, well before Nature said anything.

One of the allegations in the first installment of the DI Fellows’ response is

Literature bluffing is the indiscriminate citation of scientific papers and articles whose titles or abstracts may seem germane to the problem at hand, but which on careful reading prove not to settle the issue, or even not to have any relevance to it. Like a squid spewing out ink to confuse a pursuer, or a fighter jet dispensing chaff to deflect incoming missiles, a literature bluffer floods the discussion with citations to distract attention from the real issues.

On Infidels I took a quick look at the “Literature flooding” charge. Briefly, the Gishlik, et al, essay had 35 references, 11 of which also occur in Meyer’s original paper, while Meyer had 148 references. 24 references to support the criticism that Meyer missed a lot of directly relevant literature seems pretty restrained to me.

And to quote myself on Infidels,

Another quick and dirty index of literature bluffing is the ratio of amount of text to number of references. Using Word’s word count as the index, for Meyer that ratio is approximately 81 – 81 words per reference cited. For the Gishlik et al rebuttal it is approximately 172. Using just the 24 new references in Gishlik, et al, the ratio is about 251. In other words, Gishlik et al have more than twice the amount of text per gross reference as Meyer, and more than 3 times the text to net new references. Literature bluffing on the part of Gishlik, et al? Not on your (designer) Nellie.

RBH

I note that neither Meyer nor the unnamed authors of the DI rebuttal piece seem to understand Dembski’s CSI. It is not the same thing as the “specified complexity” which is agreed to exist in life. Dembski’s complexity is a probabilistic measure and has nothing to do with complexity in the vernacular sense. This can easily be seen by the fact that a simple repeated sequence, if not generated by a non-intelligent regularity, has high complexity by Dembski’s definition (Dembski’s analysis of the Caputo case relies on this).

If the DI cannot even get this right, how can anyone hope that they will accurately represent the scientific papers they reference ?

Paul King,

Credit for noting the disconnect between Dembski’s version of “complexity” and what everyone else has meant by it should go to Bill Jefferys. In 1997 at the Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise conference, Dr. Jefferys responded to an example Dembski gave of the complexity of a trait that appears in a litter of puppies. If ten puppies were born, and one survived with the new trait, then the complexity was measured based upon that ratio. Jefferys asked then, what if we consider the same trait that appears in a litter of ten puppies, but two of the litter have the trait and survive? Does Dembski’s measure of the complexity of the trait then say that it is less complex?

The answer, of course, is that Dembski-complexity does say that the trait is less complex. It was a telling moment.

Commercial spam deleted and non-Meyer discussion painted on the Bathroom Wall.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on September 22, 2004 11:59 PM.

Cobb County Disclaimer Goes to Court was the previous entry in this blog.

Evolution and God is the next entry in this blog.

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

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter