National Review Online Against ID?

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Feddie from Southern Appeal sent me a link to NRO for a post by John Derbyshire weighing in against ID, much to my surprise. Derbyshire writes:

(1) If scientist X passes a remark about the universe sure being a mysterious place, he has not thereby placed himself in the ID camp. ID is a specific set of arguments about specific scientific topics. Of those arguments I have seen, none struck me as very convincing.

(2) None of the ID people I have encountered (in person or books) is an open-minded inquirer trying to uncover facts about the world. Every one I know of is a Christian looking to justify his faith. This naturally inclines me to think that they are grinding axes, not conducting dispassionate science. This is, in my opinion, not only a path to bad science, but also a path to bad theology.

And in another post on the same subject, he pointed out the "god of the gaps" nature of ID reasoning, as I often have:

Since the entire history of science displays innumerable instances of hitherto inexplicable phenomena yielding to natural explanations (and, in fact, innumerable instances of "intelligent design" notions to explain natural phenomena being scrapped when more obvious natural explanations were worked out), the whole ID outlook has very little appeal to well-informed scientists. A scientist who knows his history sees the region of understanfing as a gradually enlarging circle of light in a general darkness. If someone comes along and tells him: "This particular region of darkness HERE will never be illuminated by methods like yours," then he is naturally skeptical. "How can you possibly know that?" he will say, very reasonably...

By contrast with these meta-topics about which we know nothing -- the questions about which may not even have meaning -- we know a great deal about the actual mechanisms of natural selection, gene function, inheritance, matter-energy systems, and the early history of the universe; but there are many things we do not fully understand, and the ID-ers wish to plug those gaps by invoking the intervention of a higher intelligence. Working scientists in these fields are much, much more likely to say: "Well, let's wait and see what a couple more generations of scientific inquiry turn up before we leap to conclusions like that."

Interesting stuff from an unexpected source. William F. Buckley, the founder of National Review, was an enthusiastic supporter of ID who gave a huge boost to ID advocates a few years ago when he captained their team (which included Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and the ever-irritating David Berlinski) in a Firing Line debate on television against a team consisting of Barry Lynn, Genie Scott, Michael Ruse and Ken Miller.

192 Comments

Derbyshire has criticized ID before, for which I praised him here.

Derbyshire’s comments are not intelligently designed. I have posted on this here

David, your post focuses on cosmological claims, which interest me as little as the biological aspects interest you. Personally, as a deist, I have no problem with the notion that the universe was created, or was created with conditions that could allow the formation of life (WAP is fine by me, SAP seems a major stretch). But that has little to do with the ID and evolution, which focuses on biology and the biodiversity of life on earth, not with the universe as a whole.

Ed,

You are correct. It’s a pet peeve of mine that ID is almost always viewed as an attack on evolution. I take all opportunities to point out that there is an even more fundamental cosmological ID question. If ID in cosmology cannot be satisfactorily refuted, then I view the evolution debate as “in the noise.”

2) None of the ID people I have encountered (in person or books) is an open-minded inquirer trying to uncover facts about the world. Every one I know of is a Christian looking to justify his faith.

It appears he doesn’t know any Raelians

David-

Perhaps you should take that up with the Discovery Institute. 99% of their efforts focus exclusively on poking holes in evolution. It’s almost always viewed as an attack on evolution because it almost always IS an attack on evolution.

Nice try Heddle. By the way, as I recall last time you ran away from this blog without providing satisfactory answers to some questions about the “evolution” of your thinking with respect to evolutionary biology. Like, what was the scientific thinking which led you to conclude in high school that the entire field was a fraud?

In any event, Derbyshire is correct and you remain a dissembler.

You write

Now I limit myself to ID as it applies to cosmology.

And I limit myself to “ID” as it applies to wristwatches.

Does that mean Derbyshire is mistaken?

Of course not.

We all know what we’re talking about when we talk about “ID theory”, Mr. Heddle. Except some of us (you) apparently like to pretend that we don’t.

Derbyshire makes a theologically incorrect statement, at the very beginning of his post:

It is possible to believe in God and not believe in ID; theologically incorrect statement, at the very beginning of his post:

It is possible to believe in God and not believe in ID

Theologically incorrect? What the hell does that mean? I recall you claiming that you weren’t a fundamentalist. I suggest you “try again.” Of course, it’s clear that “ID” means whatever you want it to mean, David Dumpty. So maybe it’s just impossible for you to be proven wrong about anything. I guess that would be consistent with your ability to rebuke a century’s worth of scientific research before you reached twenty.

Why is there a universe at all? Why is there something rather than nothing?

Wow, that is so deep, man. My bong isn’t long enough to inhale such deep thoughts. If such deep questions were relevant to determining whether science teachers should instruct children that mysterious alien beings created all the earth’s life forms, I might reach for my bong and take you on. For better or worse, that isn’t necessary.

He has, of course, relegated me to the category of uninformed scientist.

Misinformed and willfully deluded is more accurate.

Contrary to what Derbyshire implied, a great deal of research is conducted to answer the questions uncovered by ID research.

Oops. Instead of “uncovered by ID research” you meant to write “theologians and pop science cosmologists”.

Derbyshire confirms my speculation in his latest post in which he writes:

“None of the ID people I have encountered (in person or books) is an open-minded inquirer trying to uncover facts about the world. Every one I know of is a Christian looking to justify his faith.”

Were you really speculating about whether you were a Christian, Mr. Heddle? Gee, I could have helped you out with that one. I also have some advice on how to become a better Christian: stop dissembling on behalf of the ID peddling charlatans. You are turning your religion into a joke.

Ed,

My point exactly. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on one thing: I don’t blame the biologists.

Ahh GWW, I missed you! You have such a way with words.

NR is rather confused on this as they named “Darwin’s Black Box” one of the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century!

http://www.nationalreview.com/100be[…]0_books.html

With the priceless quote: George Gilder: “Overthrows Darwin at the end of the 20th century in the same way that quantum theory overthrew Newton at the beginning.”

NR is rather confused on this as they named “Darwin’s Black Box” one of the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century!

http://www.nationalreview.com/100be[…]0_books.html

Must be some mistake - they have it listed in the ‘nonfiction’ section.

Ahh GWW, I missed you! You have such a way with words.

I missed you, too. I figured you’d have been raptured up by now.

#33 The Double Helix by James Watson

Herman: “Deeply hated by feminists because Watson dares to suggest that the male-female distinction originated in nature, in the DNA code itself.”

I don’t think that’s the reason, and I disagree that this is one of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century. Perhaps they confused it with his Nature articles on the double helical model for DNA.

#17: Sociobiology by Edward O. Wilson

Lind: “Darwin put humanity in its proper place in the animal kingdom. Wilson put human society there, too.”

Seems a bit inconsistent with listing Behe’s book, which only came in at #92.

David Heddle Wrote:

t’s a pet peeve of mine that ID is almost always viewed as an attack on evolution. I take all opportunities to point out that there is an even more fundamental cosmological ID question. If ID in cosmology cannot be satisfactorily refuted, then I view the evolution debate as “in the noise.”

Part of the problem is that the anti-evolution ID arguments (which as Ed points out, are by far the majority) are at best completely unrelated to the cosmological ID arguments. In some respects, they’re actually contradictory. The anti-evolution arguments rely on rarity to infer design. Yet the cosmological arguments rely on regularity. Surely, if the universe were not conducive to life, and yet here we are anyway, that would be an even better reason to infer design, no? On the flip side, if it turns out that the origin of life is a virtual certainty given the laws of the universe, then this fits right in with the cosmological fine-tuning arguments. Hey, the laws of the unvierse were “fine-tuned” to create life! Yet it would be the precise opposite of what the IDists are currently arguing.

Surely, if the universe were not conducive to life, and yet here we are anyway, that would be an even better reason to infer design, no? On the flip side, if it turns out that the origin of life is a virtual certainty given the laws of the universe, then this fits right in with the cosmological fine-tuning arguments. Hey, the laws of the unvierse were “fine-tuned” to create life!

Precisely this “heads I win, tails you lose” argument is used by John Polkinghorne, Templeton Prize winner, in support of his version of the Anthropic fallacy.

The Templeton Foundation should demand more for their $1.4 million.

Steve and CC,

No, I do not agree that it is a heads I win tails you lose argument. In a nutshell, cosmological ID says: the chance of starting with nothing, and then there was a big-bang that ultimately produced a universe with even a single earth, is nil.

This is perfectly consistent with saying God created the universe for the purpose of placing life on earth, therefore the chance of an earth is unity.

Probability is always like that. A fair coin toss leading to a heads is, in one way of looking at it, 50-50. On the other hand, any coin toss is deterministic—given enough info I can calculate whether heads or tails will result. So in that sense the probability is unity.

Likewise for evolution. Regardless of whether it is right or wrong, it is self-consistent to say that the probability that humans evolved from singled celled organisms is zero, unless God did it, in which case its one.

I don’t see the problem.

On the other hand, any coin toss is deterministic—given enough info I can calculate whether heads or tails will result.

Enough info about what, David?

Regardless of whether it is right or wrong, it is self-consistent to say that the probability that humans evolved from singled celled organisms is zero, unless God did it, in which case its one.

What did your deity do, exactly?

This is kindergarent level philosophical rubbish, inarticulately worded, incoherent and a compleat waste of time (as Bob and Ray would say). Because David’s logic stinks, his deity just fell apart into an ash heap. Time to sweep the floor.

Funny how that works. Silly Johnsonite Christians. Always sticking their deity where it doesn’t belong.

News flash! Historians now realize: da Vinci was not a human being, but a deity.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/01/11/[…]t/index.html

“It is impossible to say how he managed to imagine these things, he was too great a mind to comprehend, but what you can see from the drawings is the process of his thought, filling every inch of paper with ideas,” Barbieri said.

“Even the bicycle, is … exactly like our modern version.”

I heard through the grapevine that da Vinci’s remains will be exumed tomorrow and analyzed to confirm Johnsonite Christian predictions that he was not a DNA-based organism.

GWW, on point one: given enough details about the coin, how the coin is flipped, as well as the ambient conditions, one can (in principle) calculate how the toss will result. There is nothing random about it. Still, it makes sesne to say it’s 50-50.

On point two, it does not surprise me that you are incapable of enagaing in a discussion that is one level of abstraction away from whether ID is true or false. Let me try it in baby steps:

REGARDLESS of whether or not you agree with ID. If someone does agree with ID, then, from THEIR point of view, which may of course be FLAWED, then one can, given the aforementioned caveats, NEVERTHELESS understand how it is not unreasonable for them to say, although they be religious fanatics, that the probability of earth by random processes is zero, therefore God must have created the earth, while at the same time saying that since the sovereign omnipotent GOD decided to create the earth, it was in truth a “done deal.”

“In a nutshell, cosmological ID says: the chance of starting with nothing, and then there was a big-bang that ultimately produced a universe with even a single earth, is nil.”

I’ve never even really understood the sort of mind that could make an argument like this. Isn’t it self-evident that probability is a meaningless concept without having knowledge of all possible options and their likihood (or, even better, a hold on exactly what process determines the outcome of each “toss”?)? We don’t for the universe, and perhaps never will. Any calculation of probability is thus plain goofy. We don’t even know WHAT can vary universe to universe. Perhaps there are principles, constants, regularities, and so on… of most universes that we have never seen. The cosmological ID argument basically emasculates itself.

Plunge,

Bullshit.

First of all, galaxy formation requires a tight constraint on the expansion rate. Since the expansion rate, in no known theory, is a fundamental constant, it implies something about the probability of our universe. So much so that multiverse alternatives are proposed. In fact, if it wern’t so clear that we are extremely lucky (i.e. small probability) to exist at all, then the zealous appeal for the multiverse alternative would wane considerably.

You wrote:

of most universes that we have never seen

What do you mean “most universes we have never seen? Newsflash: we have only seen one and exactly one. The other universes conveniently cannot communicate with ours. According to non IDers we have to accept that they (other universes) exist on faith. And that we happen to live in one of the rare, fertile universes. Most reasonable people would call such a view a “religion.”

First time reading this blog and I can tell two things right off the bat.

1.) The focus on debunking the fundie creationist trojan horse of ID is an extremely important, but under-the-radar topic, is something that as a scientist I love to see. The fundamentalists pushing this stuff are the biggest danger to our country today. They are trying to extend their brainwashing and indoctrination out of the church and into the public arena. This is a dire threat to America and must be stopped.

2.) Little difference in other similar evolution/science-focused forums I’ve seen for years. There’s always fundies dropping by pretending to be what they aren’t.

Mr. Heddle is one and he doesn’t even know enough to realize that GWW performed the rhetorical equivalent of ripping his head off and defecating into his thoracic cavity. Moreover, Mr Heddle screws his head back in place and merrily proceeds to make a bigger fool of himself.

“Same as it ever was.”– David Byrne, “Once in a Lifetime”

WyldPirate,

I can be wrong in many ways, but anyone who calls me a fundie is an idiot. My blog is noted for its anti-fundie viewpoint. Fundies HATE cosmological ID, because it only makes sense if the universe is old. Fundies only jump on the evolution-ID debate, because they believe they do so while retaining thier belief in a 6000 year old earth.

Pretending to be what they aren’t? I have more than 40 papers in peer reviewed physics journals. (I’ll provide you with a vita if you like) I’d wager my scientific bone fides can hold their own with most of the readers of this blog.

Why don’t you enlighten me, in a impassioned cogent analysis, as to how GWW ripped me a new one?

Heddle

“One can understand” many things if one is willing to pretend that words have no meanings.

But if words have meanings – which is something we should be able to agree on – then I can not understand how it is reasonable for smoeone to say that “the probability of earth by random processes is zero, therefore God must have created the earth, while at the same time saying that since the sovereign omnipotent GOD decided to create the earth, it was in truth a “done deal.””

Such statements are not “reasonable”, whether a person “agrees” with “ID” or not. They are expressions of religious faith with no more substance than the tongues spoken by Pentecostals (the fastest growing religion in the US, if I understood the NYT correctly).

And every discussion about deities is “one level of abstraction” away from whether the deities created all of the life forms on earth.

The membrane which separates my lack of a belief in deities from religious faith is infinitely thin. POP. I believe in deities. POP. No I don’t because there is no evidence for them. See?

Nothing is simpler than that and that’s all there is to it, no matter how many bells and whistles you want to attach to your religious beliefs. In nearly every other respect, we go about our lives in precisely the same way: eating food when we are hungry, sleeping when we are tired, communicating with our mouths and facial expressions and gestures.

But for some people, popping over to the religious side is not enough. For some people, the fact that they popped over while others (like me) remain uninterested in popping over is a real problem. Indeed, the unpopped people are the source of all the world’s problems according to some members of this self-proclaimed enlighted class of popped over people (e.g., Johnsonite Christians). And so they start pretending that the people who didn’t pop over are “stubborn” and “amoral” and they start smearing the good works of people who refuse to admit that popping over is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone.

All that is permitted, of course, but when some of the most extreme elements in society attempt to redefine science in public schools to include popping over, well, that’s just crazy talk. And so the legal machinery needs to be cranked up to provide legal proof that popping over isn’t science. Will the Johnsonite Christians be convinced? Of course not. They’ll read their script on page 3 where they are instructed to, “Whine about activist judges.”

Anyway, enough of my irrefutable and infallible predictions.

given enough details about the coin, how the coin is flipped, as well as the ambient conditions, one can (in principle) calculate how the toss will result.

Ah, yes, “in principle.” Let us be honest and note that as a practical matter, no one can predict at time x with greater than 50% accuracy how the coin I toss into the air at time x+1 will land. Are you imagining that “in principle” you can read my mind and know beforehand with certainty how I’m going to snap my thumb?

Please. This sort of schoolyard “logic” leads to the abuse of the English language and little else.

You have no evidence to suggest that your deity or anyone else’s deities ever created anything. Invoking “mysterious” alien beings to explain phenomena you don’t understand (and likely don’t want to understand) is childish fantasizing. It is not science and there aren’t any logical exercise which allow Johnsonite Christians to escape from this conclusion.

GWW,

I really don’t understand you.

I toss a coin and it lands “heads”.

If you do NOT believe that at some level the coin toss was deterministic, then what do you suppose caused to land “heads”? Was it supernatural?

Deterministic does not require I read you mind. If I know: the intertia tensor of the coin, the position and orientation when it leaves your hand, the humidy and temperature, etc, then i can use Newton’s laws to calculate how it will land.

David Heddle writes

Fundies HATE cosmological ID, because it only makes sense if the universe is old.

I’ve never seen any creationists mention the phrase “cosmological ID” before so if they really do hate it, they must hate it a lot less than evolutionary biology.

Fundies only jump on the evolution-ID debate, because they believe they do so while retaining thier belief in a 6000 year old earth.

Good Lord – then Flint is right!!!!

“First of all, galaxy formation requires a tight constraint on the expansion rate. Since the expansion rate, in no known theory, is a fundamental constant, it implies something about the probability of our universe.”

No, because it is still determined by whatever fundamental character the universe had to begin with. Which again, is something no one can with a straight face or at least a decent understanding of math, claim to know the “probability” of. Again, if you think we can know this, then what are the various outcomes and what are the likihoods of each of them? Or, alternatively, how is the character of a universe determined.

“What do you mean “most universes we have never seen? Newsflash: we have only seen one and exactly one.”

You are a very confused person. First you try to bring up an argument about probability, which makes _necessary_ a discussion about other _possible_ universes. I’m not saying that any universes other than our own exist, but if you are going to claim that there is any probability attached to our universe being the way it is, you MUST be able to discuss what the other possibilities are. If you concede that there is only one universe for which we have any experience, then you must also concede that we have no way to speak about what goes into determining the original character of the universe. We cannot use regularities and observations taken from within the context of the universe to conclude things about the cause of the universe, which if there is one, would be outside of that context!

“The other universes conveniently cannot communicate with ours. According to non IDers we have to accept that they (other universes) exist on faith. And that we happen to live in one of the rare, fertile universes. Most reasonable people would call such a view a “religion.””

Most people seem to call a person that drones on and on down a blind alley of a point no one even made… a fool.

Again: YOU raised the concept of proability. If you think we are talking about something akin to a coin flip, then YOU must be talking about multiple possible universes. Otherwise you are just pulling our legs. So don’t spin around and get all huffy about a subject YOU raised.

“Deterministic does not require I read you mind. If I know: the intertia tensor of the coin, the position and orientation when it leaves your hand, the humidy and temperature, etc, then i can use Newton’s laws to calculate how it will land.”

And you know anything even approaching any of this in the case of the universe… how?

GWW,

It is my term as far as I know. My point is, On my blog I have been attacked by fundamentalists for posting on the cosmological aspects of ID. Fundies are not amused that there is a fortuitous set of energy levels that allows the process of stellar evolution to produce heavy elements that then seed the surrounding space following a super nova. It actually hurts their view that God created the earth in situ 6000 years ago. For if he did so, why would he so fine-tune the nuclear chemistry? It makes no sense.

The physics/cosmology/astronomy ID arguments only make sense (if they make sense to you at all) if you believe in an old universe. That’s why it’s dumb to call me a fundie, unless you just use fundie to mean Christian.

Even on purely theological matters, I am decidedly non-fundamentalist.

If I know: the intertia tensor of the coin, the position and orientation when it leaves your hand, the humidy and temperature, etc, then i can use Newton’s laws to calculate how it will land.

There aren’t enough “etc.” in your statement and this page isn’t big enough to hold them all. And that’s granting you the “late start” where you get to see the coin as it leaves it my hand. Why not make the prediction before it leaves my hand? And tell me what you predict. What is the difference “in principle”? Hmmm???

My point is that relying on a logical argument about determinism to establish the likelihood that your deity created all the earth’s life forms (or the universe or that little fluffy cloud in the sky) is a very very silly occupation and, frankly, a boring hobby unless you choose to use the argument to badger biologists, in which case it’s boring and annoying. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to trivialize their religious beliefs by engaging in such low-falootin’ exercises, but I’m not a psychologist.

I’ve nothing more to say, really. I’m 100% confident that your argument will remain equally silly 500 years from now and that some form of it will inspire several bad Hollywood movies.

David I know I’m missing something.

David Heddle Wrote:

For those elements, you need to show that their solid density is less than liquid density at their melting point. I found Silcon’s solid temperature, as you indicated, at 2.33 g/cm3 at 25C, but its melting point is ~1400C.

Sorry David you are moving the goal post. Now you want me to find their exact density at melting points?!

Your original argument was

David Heddle Wrote:

very surprising: only water and bismouth have the property that their solid state has lower density than their liquid.

Now how many density points along the phase transition from “Solid” to “Liquid” do you want? You as a physicist should know that “Solid” and “Liquid” are not hard and fast rules. They are just generalizations that we use. Even “Solid” rock has properties of “Liquid” if you look at it in geological time frames.

So exactly where do you want to move this goal post to David? The fact is that all 4 of those elements “Liquid” states are more dense then their “Solid” state.

Now one of the properties of Gallium, from my very basic understanding, has the largest liquid range of any metal. Its melting point is very low.…let me look it up, ah here it is 29.76°C and its boiling point is 2204 °C making its liquid range 2174°C. This also puts Gallium very close to the solid/liquid transition point of water. Take a solid piece of Gallium at 20°C on a bowl of liquid Gallium at 30°C and the solid Gallium floats.

Now if you want to complain that the solid and liquid Gallium will change states depending on the transfer of heat more then ice/water I will not disagree. Ice takes alot of energy to to transition into water. But then should this be surprising given the molecular bonds that it actually has?

I concede because you’ve moved the goal post to a place I can’t reach. I don’t have the facility to get the measurements you want. I provided 4 examples of your “rare” property. Perhaps someone else has the time, money and facilities to get the melting point density of the 3 metals you question.

Oh .… one other thing I request .… please use living scientists to back up your claims about their quotes. It is much easier for members here to go directly to the source of the quote and asked them what they meant by it. We’ve had a number of people misquote scientists and have had those scientist explain to us that they where misquoted or misunderstood. Hoyle, Gould and others obviously can not be used unless your “God” want to bring them back for us to clarify things. I’m still looking for the source of

Fred Hoyle Wrote:

A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.

Also I’m trying to find official information on Hoyle’s religious stance. Many religion site call him an atheist but that means squat. It sounds better for them to say and atheist said such a thing then a theist. Also the statement above doesn’t mean he believes it. Just that a “commonsense interpretation” would say that. But then there are lots of things that a “commonsense interpretation” would say that are just plain false in physics.

I can quote people like Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Wrote:

It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.

Now Hawking said that .…. but he didn’t mean that .…. he goes on to talk about other theories that remove that issue. Hawking is a good example to. He doesn’t put statements in a context of “this is the way it is” he puts them in the context of “this is the way it appears to be”. He admits “God” could be an answer but always follows up with explanations, that don’t disprove “God”, but remove the miracle that would be needed.

Let’s also look at that nature of physicists like Hawking and Hoyle. They are looking for answers about the beginning. When they look at the beginning of the universe they are looking into the realm of “we don’t know what happened before this point” lets compare this with biologists. We’d have to look at the material both scientist are trying to explain. Now if the physicists are looking at the beginning of the universe they are looking at things they can not yet explain. This is the equivalent to biologists looking at the beginning of life. The processes involved are not well understood. But the biologist in this case is looking at abiogenesis not evolution. Evolution is more like saying to a physicists “Why is the matter, in the universe, precisely arranged the way it is?” i.e. why is Jupiter the size and location it is (and all other matter). The physicist can explain pretty much everything using physics that does not call into the question anything that “God” would be needed for (note I’m talking that the universe has already expanded here). So to does biology explain pretty much everything using the theory of evolution once life is on the scene. Abiogenesis and the beginning of the universe right now overlap into theology because those are beginnings for which we can not fully explain. Can’t you see that we are inferring “God” where we don’t understand things? Those that don’t understand biology, or have a direct grudge against it, infer that evolution can’t work therefore “God”. Even Behe accepts common descent. He just tries to say all the genetic information has been there from the start.

The point is “God” is often used to describe parts of science we are unclear about. But all indications we have had to date point to natural causes. This isn’t to say that “God” isn’t responsible but that it appears that “God” works through the natural processes “God” created for our universe.

I tracked down Hoyle’s comment The Accidental Universe, Cambridge University Press, 1982 pg 118. I’ll have to go buy that book to see exactly what the context of it is because I do not have it in my collection of books.

David, I am sorry if you think I am insulting you. I am a little surprised you deny some obvious basic facts you can read in elementary pop-science books or easily observe for yourself. You assume that the atmosphere is an “infinite heat bath”, so you should back up this premise at least a little. I have shown you that exactly the opposite is the case, your objections are completely irrelevant:

The air moving does not change it’s effective volume. It’s moving from one place to another - everywhere is surface underneath. The difference between a lake and an ocean is big - you are still thinking locally about a little lake and ignore it’s surrounding. Think about the whole planet and you won’t miss trivialities like this one about “moving air”.

I have not ignored the upper atmosphere, I have roughly estimated it’s mass by assuming constant density over 10kms. Still, in case you missed it, even if I took constant density over 100kms, which is an absolute nonsense, the heat capacity of the air would be still very small compared to that of the surface.

What do you mean by mentioning radiative cooling? You mean the radiative cooling of the surface, not the atmosphere I guess, because that is relevant.

You should look above the big blue ocean and you’ll see, that if you average over the fluctuations, the air CANNOT have significantly different temperature from the surface underneath.

Try to explain these simple observations, (which you can verify by yourself) based on your model, especially how are they consistent with the “infinite heat bath” premise:

1) In a sunny day, the temperature of the ground is higher than that of the air.

2) On a clear night the temperature drops more than on a cloudy one.

3) There is a huge difference between continental climate and that over the ocean. E.g. the average temperature in January is about 4C in London and -8C in Volgograd (Russia), which have about the same latitude. In July it is 17C in London and 24C in Volgograd. Explain how it is possible (see www.worldclimate.com if you need more data).

4) There is a huge difference in climate at different latitudes. Explain why the tropic climate is hot while the arctic is so cold.

Note that when talking about climate or weather, by temperature people mean the temperature of the air, not that of the ground.

David, I have one more observation for you to explain:

5) The temperature is constant throughout the year only several meters under ground.

David Heddle Wrote:

1) We have a lake 2) We have an outside air temperature below freezing. 3) We can assume that the air is an infinite heat bath at constant temperature (anything else complicates the calculation without really changing anything)

As it is, the lake will cool until it obtains the following profile: 4C at the bottom, 0C on top (since 4C is the max density)

the surface will then freeze. To first order that’s it, because it is hard for the heat of fusion to transfer from the water below the surface freeze to the surface because ice is an insulator. Only if the temperature is well below freezing will the ice gradually thicken.

Now if ice sank, the complete freezing of the lake would occur fairly rapidly (details depend on the size and the air temperature, of course) because then there is no insulation preventing the transfer of the heat of fusion.

This seems much too glib to me. As Dr Heddle noted further down, liquid water is also an insulator. In fact, according to the figures given at this site, the thermal conductivity of ice at 0°C is about 4 times greater than that of water at the same temperature. So if ice sank (and all the other relevant properties of water remained the same) the layer of water at the surface would constitute an even better insulator than the ice would have been.

Even fairly simple models of ice formation on lakes (such as the one-dimensional Canadian Lake Ice Model (CLIMo), for instance require a much more detailed analysis of the heat exchange processes occurring at the surface than Dr Heddle has given here. Unless one actually sets up and solves a mathematical model at least as detailed as something like CLIMo, claims about what would happen in the counterfactual situation Dr Heddle has proposed would appear to me to be little more than idle speculation. Since part of Dr Heddle’s argument appears to rely on the false assumption that ice is a better thermal insulator than water, his speculation would appear to not even all that well-informed.

My speculation is that if ice were heavier than water, the heat transfer from lower to upper layers would occur mainly through convection rather than conduction. As Dr Heddle notes, when the surface reaches 0°C, but before it starts to freeze, the temperature will increase with depth. Since water is such a poor conductor of heat, I suspect the temperature gradient will be quite steep at the top, and the temperature itself will quickly approach 4°C as the depth increases.

If ice were denser than water, then as it started to form at the surface it would sink, as Dr Heddle says, into the warmer water below. But as it did so it would also start to melt, as heat were transferred by conduction from the surrounding warmer water through its surface. The melted water in immediate contact with the piece of ice would thus now be less dense than the surrounding warmer water and would therefore rise. It appears to me therefore that a convection layer should form, with a mixture of sinking, melting ice flakes, warmer water sinking more gradually, and rising colder water. Underneath this convection layer you would still have a body of water at 4°C, insulated even better from the thermal exchange activity going on at the air interface than it would be if the convection layer were solid ice.

I should think the rate at which the thickness of the convection layer increased would depend heavily on the rate at which heat is carried away by the exchange processes going on at the surface. As long as the temperature at the surface remained at 0°C in both cases, I can’t see any reason to believe that the nett rate of heat loss at the surface would be any greater in the heavy ice scenario than it is in fact. On the contrary, if anything, I suspect that the loss might be slightly less. As far as I can tell, the rate at which heat is conducted into the overlying layer of air and carried away by convection should be much the same in the two cases. And although the radiative emissivity of water is about 1-2% greater than that of ice, its albedo is also much less, so I should expect that the nett loss of heat by radiation would be somewhat less in the heavy ice scenario than it is in fact.

There are a couple of flies in all this ointment of speculation, however. First is the rate of heat loss through evaporation of water and sublimation of ice. Estimating these accurately would be extremely difficult (at least it would for me), and I have no idea how significant their contributions to the total heat loss would be. Second, the density of water at 4°C is only about 0.01% greater than it is at 0°C. With such a small difference in densities, it’s not at all clear how strong any convection currents would be, and it could well be true that the heat transfer by conduction would be more important.

Now, what about when temperatures rise? As ice is, the surface ice melts fairly rapidly, since the surface ice just absorbs the latent heat from the air. But what if ice sank? Then the surface would melt, but now it becomes very diffcult to melt the ice under the surface melt, for once again you have to transfer the latent heat through an insulator (the surface liquid.)

Here again, I expect convection would be more important than conduction. As the water at the surface heated above 0°C it would become more dense than that in immediate contact with the ice below and hence sink, and the colder water beneath it would rise, thus again setting up convection currents. Off the top of my head, I would guess that the convection currents in the water would be much weaker than those occurring in the air above a thawing ice sheet on the top of a real lake. So I suspect Dr Heddle is right that if ice were heavier than water, it would be more difficult to thaw a layer of such ice sitting at the bottom of a lake than it actually is to thaw real ice floating on the top. However, without seeing a proper calculation, I remain skeptical of such specific quantitative claims as that “only a few inches” on the surface of a fully frozen, moderately sized pond would melt in the summer.

There would not be less but MORE ice surface area, for another reason. When the ice sank, the lakes would “grow” –i.e. overflow, from Archimedes (the sinking ice would displace its volume of liquid water which, if ice sank, would be greater than the volume of the ice, hence flooding, which is the same as saying the lakes grow in surface area.)

This is complete nonsense. If the sinking ice were more dense than it was when it was liquid at the same temperature (which is what is being assumed) this means it would occupy less volume than it did as a liquid. This effect would therefore cause the depth and surface area of the lake to decrease, not increase. It is true that if all the liquid water in the lake were at a temperature of 0°C rather than 4°C it would occupy a slightly larger volume. This effect, however, is minuscule. As noted above, the density of water at 0°C is only a fraction of about one ten thousandth smaller than it is at 4°C. In a depth of 50m of liquid water, this would therefore make a difference of only about half a centimetre.

Finally, in order for all this freezing to work, the surface of the lake has to be cooled sufficienty for it to actually reach 0°C. The oceans themselves form a huge heat reservoir, and there are currently vast areas of the earth in tropical and temperate latitudes where the surfaces of even moderately sized bodies of water currently never get down close to this temperature at any time of year. Dr Heddle has so far said nothing to convince me that this would change much if ice were heavier than water.

Now Hawking said that . …. but he didn’t mean that . ….

I explained the context of Hawking’s quote–I NEVER said he was a creationist I nevers said he was and IDer –I ONLY said that he (like the others) acknowledged the appearance of design, and wanted to have another explantion. Most cosmologists go the multiverse route, Hawking went a different route (which has not proved successful.)

Hawking, in context, is EXACTLY what I meant–the appearance of design causes him to investigate alternatives to the current physics. In context, his statement does dispute my claim, but rather perfectly supports it. Unless you twist my claim into “Hawking is an creationist!”

Hawking’s quote, in context, is exactly what I claimed it to be. Nothing more, nothing less.

If, in context, Hawking said the current physics does NOT indicate fine tuning, you’d have something. But he clearly states that the current big bang model DOES have it, and he wants to avoid it–exactly what I said.

As for the elements, as I said, and it’s not moving the goalpost, the condition implied when one says “ice floats” is that it does so in equilibrium. Maybe those elements do that, but quoting properties at different temperatures is not the way to demonstrate it. If I want to know if ice floats, I need the density of water/ice at 0C–isn’t that obvious?

On to Koly,

The difference between the ground/air temperatures and ocean/air temperatures is complicated AND depends greatly on currents, both water currents and air currents, the later of which you claim have no effect.

Let me say it slightly differently. The atmosphere has many other heat exchange mechanisms so that it can absorb much more heat from a lake than you would expect from your model, which is an air mass above the water whose only available mechanism is heat exchange with the water. There are a multitude of processes by which the air can exchange the heat, thereby avoiding just a simple dQ/c temperature rise. From the point of view of the water, it sees something above which can absorb a lot of heat – exactly the characteristic of a heat bath.

That’s what makes “approximate as a infinite heat bath” so reasonable for 1st cut. If I know the volume of my pond and the air temperature, then by assuming the air temperature does not change as the pond freezes, I can make a decent estimate of how much ice will form.

Plus, since you keep harping on oceans, you will note that you were the first to being up oceans. I only said lakes would freeze. I’m just pointing that out, because eventually much of the oceans would freeze too. But the mechanism I described, ice forming on the surface and then sinking, does not apply to oceans because most of the oceans do not even form surface ice. But if ice sank, the polar caps would grow year by year, how much of the oceans would freeze, I don’t have a clue.

Note in all of this we are really addressing the wrong question, i.e., we are asking what if ice “suddenly” started sinking. The real question is, of course, what if ice always sank, what would the earth’s environment be like.

The atmosphere, by the way, does radiatively cool. It also cools through turbulence, and even through interaction with the magnetic field.

David Wilson makes some very good points (esp. about overflowing, I blew that one, I wondered when I wrote it down why I had never heard that argument before, it seemed so clever, now I know–because it was so obviously wrong) There is no doubt that the processes are complex and that convection is important.

I think we cannot go much further unless we want to collaborate on some serious modeling–which I’m willing to do.

David Wilson Wrote:

This seems much too glib to me. As Dr Heddle noted further down, liquid water is also an insulator. In fact, according to the figures given at this site, the thermal conductivity of ice at 0°C is about 4 times greater than that of water at the same temperature. So if ice sank (and all the other relevant properties of water remained the same) the layer of water at the surface would constitute an even better insulator than the ice would have been.

Yes, this all works in my favor. In other words, as the world is, for surface ice to thicken heat must be transferred through ice. We already know that is fairly hard. But for lake frozen solid apart from melt, for additional ice to melt the latent heat must be transferred through liquid water, which, as you point out, is a BETTER insulator. So that makes it all the more difficult to melt the ice. The “few inches” comes from a hand waving – My pond gets about a foot of ice – so if the situation were flipped, with Ice covered by water, and water being a better insulator, then there would be less water (i.e., inches) than there was ice (~1 foot).

Now of course if ice did sink, then preumably its thermal properties would be much different, so this is probably a pointless direction.

David, I am quite confused about what do you want to say. I thought your argument went something like this:

“ice floating” is an evidence for ID, because without that, the life would not exist or at least there would be much harder conditions for it.

That’s why I am talking about oceans and the planet - who cares if some more lakes in Canada or Finland would freeze completely or not, that’s totally irrelevant for life in general. I would admit that the “ice floating” argument is relevant for life if:

a) otherwise the majority of the Earth’s oceans freezed b) the range of conditions under which liquid water exists would be severely limited

All the time I’ve thought you are talking about “a runaway ice age effect”, not literally about a lake. However, in that case you are wrong too - there is a heat bath, but the air is certainly not it, it’s heat capacity is just too low whatever hand-waving you do. The real heat bath is the ground around and under the lake. It’s temperature determines whether the lake freezes or not - and it’s the same in both cases. Couple od meters under the surface the ground temperature is stable - if it’s under zero the lake will freeze, “ice floating” or not. If it’s over zero, the lake may freeze seasonally only at the edges (“ice sinking”) or on the surface too (“ice floating”) but will never freeze to the bottom.

Koly

David, I am quite confused about what do you want to say.

Search the archives re David Heddle for more information about this curious phenomenon.

‘Confused’ is exactly how David Heddle wants you to feel. How do you think he became an ID apologist?

The difference is that David became confused because he’s not too bright. You’re confused, Koly, because David is inarticulate and keeps changing the subject whenever his arguments are shown to be specious.

I don’t agree with David Heddle about very much, but I don’t understand the point of making personal attacks on him.

Cool it.

Jim Harrison writes

I don’t agree with David Heddle about very much, but I don’t understand the point of making personal attacks on him.

Personal attack or objective observation? You think it’s unfair to call Heddle call a dissembling flake but it’s fair for Heddle to go unchallenged when he dissembles and implies that biologists are clueless sheep wasting taxpayers money?

I’m confused, Jim.

I haven’t noticed you getting on Heddle’s case about his dishonest dissembling. Why is that? Why so quiet, Jim? Why do you sit back and let Heddle clog up this blog with inane discussions about the importance of floating ice for the evolution of life.

Same with DaveScot. I haven’t noticed you calling him out regularly and repeatedly on his utter and complete garbage. Maybe you agree with him.

I’d really be interested in finding out why you have chosen to remain silent while Heddle and DaveScot dissemble but come to their rescue when I devote my time to expose them for the dissembling rubes that they obviously are.

The reason I call Heddle on his garbage is plain as paint: failure to do so will give others the impression that all his quotes and figures show that the creationists apologetics have scientific merit and that Heddle is presenting “facts” which must be balanced against the facts presented by evolutionary biologists.

That impression would be false, don’t you agree? I hope you agree. Please convince me that you agree.

I respectfully suggest you consider the relevance of the following:

Conservatives try to implicate the left for “lowering the discourse.” They’re not worried about us lowering- or raising- the discourse. They’re worried that we might get a clue and stop engaging them in discourse.

We’ve raised Ann Coulter to new heights by trying to counter her. She doesn’t care. Michael Moore is delegitimized by the Right by means of sarcasm and humor. Dean was destroyed by jokes about the scream. If Crossfire opened every show with “and look what that crazy bitch said today,” followed by a shot of Paul and James laughing their asses off, Ann Coulter would be the leggiest assistant corporate attorney in Accounts Recieving right now.

The right-wing bloggers don’t want to hear our rebuttals. The President doesn’t want to hear the Democrats’ counter-proposals. History will never look back on this time and discuss how changes were made through the art of rational bipartisan discussion. But I’m damn sure history has a chance to look back on this era… and laugh.

http://haloscan.com/tb/atrios/110601902931173296

Barbara Boxer shows how it’s done today, challenging one of the most egregious liars ever to soil the US congress floor:

California Sen. Barbara Boxer questioned Rice aggressively before the panel broke for lunch, suggesting that Rice’s loyalty to Bush and her mission to defend the war in Iraq “overwhelmed your respect for the truth.”

The truth hurts. Watch the conservatives whine about Boxer’s “personal” attack. Of course, the conservatives want us all to forget about a memo given to Rice and Bush entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” and Rice’s disgusting dissembling under oath regarding that memo.

I see parallels to the sort of dissembling engaged in by David Heddle and DaveScot and other creationist apologists? Am I alone?

The great PZ Myers gets “personal” with Jim Black and Pat Robertson

This fellow Jim Black was introduced as a “distinguished scholar”, and he is being taken seriously enough that he’s being interviewed as an authority on the universities (by Robertson, I know … but there are millions of people who trust that smarmy twit). And look what he is doing.

He is lying.

He is flat-out slandering our profession and our institutions, and pandering to the stereotypes of the ignorant boobs who look up to Pat Robertson. He is making shit up. And there he is, regretfully declaring that the American university doesn’t teach science and has watered down the curriculum to a hateful fraud who wants to gut science and stuff it with the dogma of creationism. Oh, the irony of it all.

http://www.pharyngula.com/

PZ Myers understands that it doesn’t matter if you call creationist apologists dishonest dishonest dissembling frauds or if you say, gently, that they are only “confused” and “misinformed.”

The creationist apologists are still going to accuse scientists of being weak, sensitive “elitists” “suppressing challenges” to evolutionary “dogma” in an effort to “spread atheism” and attack Christianity, as they have for the past 150 years, while most scientists (and many so-called “liberals”) quietly pretend that “truth” will prevail and, if not, oh well, it’s not as if science itself is in danger.

Big mistake. Shining unforgiving bright lights on the roaches will help the ACLU conserve bug repellent.

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on January 11, 2005 2:37 PM.

Evolution of Hormone Signaling was the previous entry in this blog.

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