Dembski holds debate on ID as science, forgets to invite scientists

| 298 Comments

What if you held a debate and nobody but your supporters came?

It’s quite likely that you’d be able to boast about the poor reception your opponent got from the audience.

This seems to have been what happened at a debate held last week on the Princeton campus between Lee Silver, a Princeton molecular biologist, and Bill Dembski, a seminary professor. The debate, titled “Intelligent Design: Is It Science?” was sponsored by the “Intercollegiate Studies Institute” (a conservative think tank in Wilmington, Delaware). Notably absent was any publicity that might have resulted in the attendance of scientists, or even of unscreened Princeton students.

Was the debate publicized by the posting of flyers on the campus? No it wasn’t.

Was it listed on the Princeton University calendar of events? Nope.

Were science departments notified about this interesting debate on the scientific status of ID? The molecular biology and the ecology and evolution departments were not told, nor was the genomics institute.

Here’s where news of the debate appeared (via Google):

  • Discovery Institute
  • Design Inference
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute
  • Townhall Conservative Calendar of Events

This perhaps explains the tenor of some of the questions asked of Dr. Silver (“why do you hate God?”)

Lee Silver writes at talkorigins:

The debate was held on the Princeton University campus but the ID people made sure – as much as possible – that no normal Princeton students could have possibly found out about it. Until the afternoon of the debate, it was NOT listed in the university calendar of events, in fact it was not listed anywhere on the Princeton website, and there was no advertising anywhere on campus. Late in the afternoon on April 7, a few hours before the debate, I asked the university to put it up, which they did.

Dr. Silver has posted his presentation at his website and promises to post the entire debate shortly.

As he notes:

…the whole point of the debate was just to show that an Ivy League professor was willing to sit on the same podium as an ID/creationist advocate. I had fun, but I doubt that a single mind was changed.

It’s easy to “win” debates when you stack the audience heavily in your favor. Dembski’s victory dance at idthefuture was only made possibly by selective publicity of the event.

The failure to invite any scientists to see the debate speaks volumes about the status of ID as science. Inside the ID bubble, scientists are not welcome.

298 Comments

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

I had nothing to do with the publicity for this event. If you’ve got a problem with it, contact Chad Kifer at ISI: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. He’s responsible.

If audiences at generally-publicised events are critical of your ideas, Bill, and the only way to attract an audience weighted the other way is for someone to deliberately ensure that the event is invisible to a general audience, then maybe that should tell you something about the quality of your ideas.

William Dembski:

At the very least, then, you should resent Kifer’s efforts to make you appear cowardly and foolish.

“I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.”

Excellent!

When can we expect the scientific theory of intelligent design to “take on any of [us]” in the venue of peer-reviewed scientific journals?

How ironic, this post complaining about not getting invited, preceded by a post complaining about getting invited.

What is the evidence that the ID crowd “deliberately” ensured that the event was “invisible” to a general audience?

What is the virtue in debating that which is self-evident and without which nothing about the mechanism of evolution will ever be disclosed. The sober realization is that Intelligent Design is the only conceivable starting point from which all progress has been and continues to be made.

“Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control.” Albert Einstein, Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

I am so pleased to have my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis anticipated wnen I was but an infant fifteen months old.

How do you like them apples?

John A. Davison

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

Matt is not questionning Dr. Dembski’s eagerness to debate. Dr. Dembski has made it abundantly clear by issuing numerous “challenges”, similar in tone to the one above.

What Matt is pointing out is that Dr. Dembski’s boastful blog report that most of the audience’s questions at the end were ID-friendly is based not on his uncanny ability to “convert” Ivy-Leaguers to ID, but on the fact that the audience was entirely ID-friendly to start with, based on savvy advertising of the debate (of which, in all fairness, Dembski himself may have been unaware). Since Dembski pronosticated “good things to come” for ID based on the audience’s reaction, perhaps he should revise his polling strategy to avoid sample bias.

William Dembski Wrote:

Come off it Matt. I’ve debated you guys in all settings, most of them quite hostile: Pennock and Miller at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002, Pigliucci at the New York Academy of Sciences in 2001, and Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 (at which some skeptics commended me for having the guts to show up). I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

So, Mr. Dembski.…what is the Theory of Intelligent Design, what observations support it, and what predictions and subsequent tests have been postulated and performed that either support or falsify ID?

What is the nature of the designer? If you propose design, then there must be some evidence of the intent and/or nature of the designer.

Thanks

Dr. Dembski,

I have a question for you. Why do you not allow comments on your site? Also, why don’t you come around here more often and make rebuttal points in the comments section? I am sure everyone here would welcome it. I am sure that if you allowed comments on your blog, everyone here would love to offer their comments there.

A debate is just as public over the internet, and a direct exchange would be really exciting for us all.

Katarina makes an excellent point.

Why won’t the DI fellows “take on” anyone in the “venue” of the comment section of their own blog?

Is this really reflective of creationists’ approach toward open debate? What Would (the) Isaac Newton (ofinformationtheory) Do?

If anyone does contact Kifer, please ask for his permission to share his response with us.

A question on Information Theory:

How does “information” exist in the natural universe?

It would seem to me that information is nothing more than the human perception of the environment. Information [as possessed by humans] changes all the time without any change to the actual universe at all. The only thing that has changed been our perception of the universe, the universe has not changed.

Without a mind to perceive, I would propose that there is no such thing as information at all.

Comments?

William Dembski Wrote:

[…] Miller and Elsberry at the World Skeptics meeting in 2002 […]

William Dembski Wrote:

[…] All of this is highly speculative, and accounts for cell biologist Franklin Harold’s (2001, 205) frank admission: “There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”

When I challenged Ken Miller with this quote at the World Skeptics Conference organized by CSICOP summer 2002 (for a summary of the conference see http://www.csicop.org/si/2002-09/conference.html), Miller did not challenge the substance of Harold’s claim. Rather, he merely asserted that Harold had been retired a number of years. The implication I took was that Harold was old and out of touch with current biological thinking and therefore could be ignored (in which case one has to wonder what the editors at Oxford University Press were thinking when they agreed to publish Harold’s book). I wish that at the skeptics conference I had followed up more forcefully on Miller’s glib dismissal of Harold. Perhaps Miller will see my response here and clarify why Harold’s retirement has anything to do with the substance of Harold’s claim.

In this latter instance, the “spinning” is more appropriate to Dembski’s description of the 2002 panel discussion than anything about flagella. And, in anticipation of the antievolutionist’s favorite question, yes, I was there. Miller did not dismiss the assertion that a detailed evolutionary pathway for the bacterial flagellum was lacking, and in fact stated forthrightly concerning that claim, “Point taken. You’re right, you’re absolutely right.” It’s not something that I, at least, would soon forget. Apparently, a critic is not even allowed to agree with Dembski without being given cause to regret it later.

There’s a debate at Harvard on Friday over the legal issues of teach ID in schools, for anyone in the area interested in that sort of thing.

Link.

Dr. Dembski, thanks for posting at Pandasthumb. I have two questions for you: Which event(s) did the designer cause? And why do you you believe that the designer caused said event(s)? I have seen few, if any, peeople who refer to themselves as “proponent of intelligent design” clearly indicate which event(s) they think the designer caused. The kind of claim I have in mind is one that we can have a good idea of whether to accept it or not. For instance, did the designer turn dust directly into two elephants (one male and one female)?

Also, self-replicating molecules evolved (through reproduction) into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. For instance, all mammals are descendents of the very same cell that was on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. Do you agree with that? If not, why not? Some of the data that has enabled me to determine that can be found in Ernst Mayr’s book What Evolution Is.

I’ll agree that Bill was certainly not to blame for the selective publicity that nevertheless rebounded entirely to his advantage. I’ll admit that he may even have been completely unaware of it.

But I hope he’ll concede that the results of this debate show how vacuous it is to judge an idea’s value by its score on the applause meter.

This episode also demonstrates why serious scientists are mostly loathe to debate ID advocates. Now that Lee Silver has been burned by the ID public relations machine, I imagine he too will be joining the ranks of the reluctant.

“Notably absent was any publicity that might have resulted in the attendance of scientists, or even of unscreened Princeton students.”

Wow, that’s an understatement…i’m a post-doc a Princeton and this is the first I’ve heard of it. granted, I don’t follow the schedule of events as closely as students do, but surely I should have caught wind of an appearence by the “Isaac Newton of information theory”?

What a shame…I would have loved to attend.

Bill Dembski lays it down:

I’ll take any of you on at any time in any venue.

How about right here, right now?

(1) tell me when the mysterious alien beings created all of the allegedly “irreducibly complex” life forms that ever lived on earth and approximately how long that process took, in total;

(2) explain how the mysterious alien beings accomplished this task without leaving any traces of their existence other than their alleged “designs”;

(3) explain why the mysterious alien beings felt compelled to populate the earth with “irreducibly complex” life forms;

(4) explain how the mysterious alien beings came to exist, assuming they are also “irreducibly complex” (if that is not a reasonable assumption, let me know why).

For each of the above, some testable hypotheses would be awesome.

Thanks Bill.

Mr. Dembski why not just admit that the designer is god? You know it, everyone else knows it, god supposedly knows it. Why be so vague? Isn’t there some quote that says something about the truth setting you free? Is it ok with your god to deny the truth? Isn’t that just lying by omission? Surely you do not believe that aliens came over here and planted the seeds of life. Please answer the questions in the posts above about where the designer acts or has acted. Even if your idea about a designer is true it does nothing to refute evolution. Does the designer act every single minute of the day? Where is the point of interaction? It seems that as you start tracing back where the designer acts or has acted you have to eventually get to the beginning of life. And, as has been pointed zillions of times, evolution has nothing to do with the beginning, only what happened afterward. And if the designer (god) can create such wonderous marvels as plants, animals, people, planets, stars etc. And if can interact with the world by causing floods, locust swarms and creating language, why not just magically put some words down on paper? Why has every single religious document that has ever been presented been written by a human? They may say that god “told” them to write it down but why? Why go through a human when you can create life and control the weather? Why not just write it yourself? god supposedly wrote the ten commandments into stone, but of course those are not around now. Did he lose his pen? He is omnimpotent but cannot write his own bible, torah, koran? Please address some of these questions, either here or your own post. Give people a real reason to believe that ID has some scientific merit. Build up your own idea, not tear down someone else’s. You can tear down a million theories but it does not add one brick to your own wall.

Anyone else with info on how ID answers these questions please feel free to answer.

Thanks

I’d like to make it clear that I don’t begrudge the ID folks their talks in front of friendly audiences. There’s only so much hostility anyone can take, and I know that I would not want to always be putting myself out in front of a crowd that was predisposed to disagree with me. I admire people like Paul Nelson who can do this to the extent that they do.

BUT it would be wise to limit the conclusions drawn from the reaction of a friendly audience. And dancing in the end-zone is simply bad sportsmanship, if the field is so tilted in your favor.

Also, it seems a rather shabby trick for the organizers of a debate to intentionally (and without the knowledge of the participants) stack the audience in favor of one of the debaters.

Finally, the organizers of the debate used the Princeton name and Princeton facilities but cheated the Princeton community out of the opportunity to see Dembski in person. I’ll certainly be drafting a note of complaint to the facilities department, in addition to the one I’m writing to the organizers of the debate.

And I have to ask: what were the motivations of these organizers? Were they trying to provide a staged (and therefore meaningless) victory for Dr. Dembski? Did they simply want to invoke the Princeton name for use in later PR campaigns? Or was it just horrendously sloppy planning that excluded the Princeton campus from participation?

Until such time as we get an answer, I’d suggest that Bill stop making rhetorical hay out of what has been an event of dubious legitimacy.

(Also, I’m of course waiting to see the recorded footage before I concede that Bill has any right to be claiming “victory” in the first place!)

I’ll agree that Bill was certainly not to blame for the selective publicity that nevertheless rebounded entirely to his advantage. I’ll admit that he may even have been completely unaware of it.

I am a Princeton student and I *was* at the debate. Just so you know, I am giving a first-hand account here.

First off, the debate was at our Woodrow Wilson School (international/public affairs type department building), so that already created a non-science atmosphere. Both Dr. Dembski and Dr. Silver appeared to be somewhat frustrated at not being able to assume the audience’s knowledge of actual science. Dr. Dembski resorted to just quoting many different sources in a non-scientific context and Dr. Silver only gave very vague accounts of various instances of selection we have observed.

The audience was EXTREMELY one-sided (I believe all of the questions asked except two were blatantly pro-ID or at least anti-evolution)– to the extent that one audience member actually stood up and said, “This is a question for Dr. Silver. Why do you hate God? Everything you have said tonight is dripping with your deep hatred of God. What did God do to you?”

The audience was by far non-Princeton students. I can count approximately 12 actual students in the audience (8 of whom I directly brought along myself because I had heard by coincidence from a professor SIX hours before the debate that there was going to be one in the first place!) The event was most definitely NOT advertised anywhere on campus and the majority of the audience was actually older adults (from the community, or elsewhere, I’m not sure, but they weren’t professors or grad students).

The organizer/moderator of the debate (not sure who the professor is, but he’s not in the bio department here) appears to be pro-ID himself. I say this based on encounters with him in the cafeteria and listening to him talk with one of my friends. Just as a side note, another friend was at a Women in Sciences panel a few weeks ago and recognized him as the audience member who asked rather antagonistic questions to the panel. I do not believe Dr. Dembski himself was responsible for the INCREDIBLY poor advertisment of the debate (e.g. there was NO mention of the debate ANYWHERE on any website or poster or flyer at Princeton—in order to double-check the time and location, I had to google up Dr. Dembski’s website to find the information).

I felt the Professor Silver could have done a better job making the points he wished to express clear to the audience, but I think this was largely due to the lack of science-oriented audience. (Prof. Silver tried to use examples of artificial selection to demonstrate how selection as a mechanism can create diversity; but he never really made it clear that this was his point–so the pro-ID audience took that as “evidence” for how intelligence is needed to create diversity.) But at the same time, Dr. Dembski completely ignored every attempt Prof. Silver tried at asking him to give an exact specific mechanism for his “ID theory”–hence the actual topic of the debate: Is ID SciencE? was never even broached.

I have a semi-friend who is a huge fan of Dr. Dembski (I am definitely not), but both of us (and the other 6 of us who came to the debate) agreed that the debate itself was rather poorly done and that this was a result largely of both sides not being able to assume science knowledge in the audience.

I’d say in the end, the debate really did nothing and said nothing we didn’t already know. Dr. Dembski failed to elucidate an actual mechanism for how an Intelligent Designer would bring about changes (Does the Designer manually change bases with some powers that he has to work on a microscopic level? Does the Designer wave a magic wand? Does the Designer expose many different organisms to extreme radiation to cause mutations in their DNA and then only pick the ones closest to the direction “evolution” should take? Seriously, we *still* have no proposed mechanism.). Professor Silver largely failed to explain to the audience the biological evidence for natural/non-artificial selection leading to new or more complex species (I could get what he was trying to say, but that is only because I am a molecular biology student and because I have some interest in the ID debate or lack-thereof.)

I wrote:

I have two questions for you: Which event(s) did the designer cause?  And why do you you believe that the designer caused said event(s)? 

That second question didn’t come out right. With the second question, it seems like I’m asking what Dr. Dembski thinks the designer’s motive was in making the objects that it made. That is not what I want to ask him. I don’t care about what he thinks the designer’s motives were. What I want to know is: What evidence is there that the designer(s) caused the event(s) that Dr. Dembski thinks the designer(s) caused?

Another way to put it: What beliefs does Dr. Dembski hold that are logically inconsistent with what some people call “the theory of evolution?” Specificity helps in this case. It helps advance the discussion. Also, why does Dr. Dembski think he is justified in holding those beliefs.

This is about the closest thing I’ve seen to a hypothesis made by a proponent of “intelligent design”: On one or more specific occasions over the last 3.8 billion years, one or more beings helped cause the existence of some organisms that have lived on planet earth and/or helped cause the existence of some parts of some of those organisms.

Taking the claim just as it is, I’m not justified in believing that it is true. At the moment, I can’t get why I’m not justified it’s true. But maybe I can address the issue later.

However, it would help if the proponents of “intelligent design” were more specific about what they think happened – about what they think the designer(s) did vis-a-vis the organisms on earth. Did the designer turn dust into the first self-replicating molecules on earth 3.8 billion years ago? Did the designer(s) turn dust directly into the first bacterial flagellum to exist on earth? Did the designer turn dust – poof! – directly into the first two T-Rexes (one male and one female)?

“And I have to ask: what were the motivations of these organizers? Were they trying to provide a staged (and therefore meaningless) victory for Dr. Dembski? Did they simply want to invoke the Princeton name for use in later PR campaigns? Or was it just horrendously sloppy planning that excluded the Princeton campus from participation?”

Isn’t posssible that the motivation was simply to get a scientist on the stage to begin with?

I’m sure they will use this as ammunition against the boycott in kansas.

cheers

fallmists,

Thanks for your enlightening account. It explains a lot. BTW, I sympathise with you, I have associates and family members who are otherwise very bright, but for some reason fall into the ID faulty reasoning. I don’t understand it, but luckily Dembski’s critics have gutted him so thoroughly that all I have to do is point to their books/articles, and if my friends are not too lazy to read, they eventually see the light.

I am sorry you have a professor there who sympathises with the ID crowd. That is quite, quite sad.

…Bill Dembski, a seminary professor.

Is Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning a Baptist seminary? If it is, it’s a well kept secret on the Institute’s website (http://www3.baylor.edu/IFL/index.htm).

I understand that Dembski is not held in high regard around here, but at least give the man credit for being a university professor of “the conceptual foundations of science”, and a mathematician.

Well, the professor is not a biologist (actually I don’t think he’s even a professor in any of the sciences), so that is ok. (Wait, actually I just looked him up and he’s a lecturer in the politics department.)

Dembski says claims: Thursday evening (April 7, 2005), I debated Lee Silver at Princeton University. The debate, titled “Intelligent Design: Is It Science?” was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which recently published my book Uncommon Dissent. About 200 people attended the debate (from idthefuture

I am checking up on this, but we are almost certain that there were not 200 people there. The debate was held in am auditorium that is not large and it wasn’t even filled to capacity. Haha, although, there *was* a police officer in addition campus safety!

I’ll get back to this tomorrow after I stop by the auditorium and check the max capacity number.

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/other/[…]ilities.html

Robertson Hall - headquarters of the Woodrow Wilson School .…

The main floor of Robertson Hall contains the graduate and undergraduate program offices, student mailboxes, a lounge atrium, and the George P. Shultz ‘42 Dining Room. Dodds Auditorium, a 200-seat amphitheater with modern audio-visual technology, is also on the main level of the building.

So it must have been packed full.

Katarina Wrote:

…but luckily Dembski’s critics have gutted him so thoroughly that all I have to do is point to their books/articles, and if my friends are not too lazy to read, they eventually see the light.

Do your friends have professional training in statistics? The reason I ask is that Dembski’s actual argument (e.g., The Design Inference) is rather technical, and the specialized critiques of it (e.g., Sober) are equally technical.

I “understand” Dembski and Sober the way I understand quantum mechanics, i.e., without the math (say by reading a little Brian Greene). Which is to say, I really don’t understand them at all. I have too many other things to study in my own field to spend much time learning the probability calculus. Aren’t most of us in the same boat here?

Michael Finley wrote: Is Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning a Baptist seminary?


Perhaps you haven’t heard about Dembski’s new employer.

From http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpne[…]asp?ID=19115: LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Sept. 16 the establishment of the Center for Science and Theology along with the appointment of renowned philosopher of science William A. Dembski as its first director. ….….…..

The careful reader will note that the words Baptist and Seminary are both present in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Jim Wynne,

If it’s tautological to stick with the actual meanings of words, then we’re all in trouble. It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours. I didn’t define intelligence, generations of English speakers did. Thus, to claim that I have stacked the deck in my favor by using meanings of words that support my conclusions is to misassign the blame. Webster is the real culprit here.

Michael Finley Wrote:

It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours.

And yet you seem to want to create a new denotation for “tautology”; one that also works in your favor. If there’s anything to be gained from this exchange it’s my own solace in the knowledge that even a person as bright as you can’t get out of his own way when it comes to defense of ID.

Michael Finley Wrote:

It’s not my fault that the actual meanings of words work in my favor and against yours.

And yet you apparently want to change the meaning of “tautology” so that it also works in your favor. Your arguments have no substance and essentially no meaning beyond that which you choose to invent for them.

Mr. Finley:

I’ve seen your reply. It doesn’t address the core problem.

What makes property z “being human” not applicable to the known portion of set y “intelligent designers”?

If one property of the known portion of set y does not apply to the unknown portion, how do you propose to claim that any other property instead applies?

In other words: you are trying the desperate deed of determining the shared properties of set y by eliminating those pertaining only to the known subset.

Don’t you see that this is self-defeating? Since all properties of set y are determined by examining only its known subset, once you do the subtraction you are left with nothing.

Typo correction:

What makes property z “being human” not applicable to the unknown portion of set y “intelligent designers”?

Wrote:

Don’t you see that this is self-defeating? Since all properties of set y are determined by examining only its known subset, once you do the subtraction you are left with nothing.

Indeed. The “qetzal problem” is potentially fatal for my latest attempt. I’ve been puzzling over it for a couple of days now.

Initially, I had wanted to answer by invoking some sort of inherent/accidental property distinction, but that takes me away from the appeal of the statistical approach, viz., that I don’t have to worry about metaphysical concerns. - If I could make the argument on strictly metaphysical grounds (my earlier attempt failed; see previous thread), I’d have no need of probabilities. In other words, the statistical approach was the way to get off the metaphysical hook, so I can’t defend it by appealing to metaphysical criteria.

The answer I arrived at was simply to concede the point (and all related points with it, which you’ve subsequently generalized), and then dispense with it by defining it away. I am able to do this by making certain changes to my hypothesis.

For example, with respect to the “qetzal problem,” I could simply admit that “It follows that no intelligent designers could specially create.…”, but reply “What if, ex hypothesi, we set that aside and consider an intelligent designer that could specially create, etc. What would follow from that?” And then I could use my argument to make probable predictions.

This works, but it’s a technical dodge, and as such, I’m not satisfied with it. Let me mull it over some more, and get back to you. As it stands, however, I’ll count this as strike two.

Mr. Finley:

Your revised hypothesis makes any attempt at defining your Special-Creation-Capable Intelligent Designer(s) in terms of what non-SCCIDs are and can do doomed from start.

Your unknown subset of y already has, ex hypothesi, at least one property (“special-creation-capability”) that no element of the known subset of y possesses. Therefore, whenever you come out with a property shared by every non-SCCID, this tells us exactly nothing about any eventual SCCIDs.

Example 1: “All non-SCCIDs eventually die.” Does this tells us anything about your hypothetical SCCIDs?

Example 2: “All non-SCCIDs make mistakes.” Does this tells us anything about your hypothetical SCCIDs?

…and so on and so forth. I’m sure you can come out with dozens of similar examples without my help.

My opinion of Mr. Finley just rose.

Let me point out, by the way, that the “qetzal problem” - so far as I can tell - is one that A. Nominee, GCT, and I have also been hammering away at. Perhaps qetzal managed to phrase it more transparently.

Aureola Nominee Wrote:

Therefore, whenever you come out with a property shared by every non-SCCID, this tells us exactly nothing about any eventual SCCIDs.

Actually, this is not an issue. I could hypothetically separate the properties of “intelligence” and “designer” from every other propery possessed by human beings. The group “human beings,” then, would only be relevant qua intelligent designers. But, as I admitted above, this is an ad hoc solution, and I am not advocating it.

Russell Wrote:

…the “qetzal problem” - so far as I can tell - is one that A. Nominee, GCT, and I have also been hammering away at.

I don’t think that it is (though it’s possible I misread you). You, Mr. Nominee and GCT (to the extent that you were not also seconding qetzal’s example), were arguing that the application of “intelligence” and “designer” beyond the group “human beings” was illicit. While qetzal assumed, for argument sake, that my approach was valid and then proceeded to use it against me.

Finley

You need to acquaint yourself with the notion of a qualification.

Actually I’m familiar with the notion, Finley.

You need to acquaint yourself with the notion of accepting responsibility for your errors.

So: what does “impossible” mean, Finley (regardless of any alleged “qualifications” you made, which you are evidently too lazy to explain).

You used that term in your statement that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

Also, you wrote

My hypothesis is that “an unknown intelligent designer specially created the diversity of life on planet Earth.” Implicit in the hypothesis is that the intelligent designer be capable of specially creating the diversity of life on planet Earth

What other features of the designers are implicit in your “hypothesis” Finley? If you’ve determined that no other features may be reasonably implied, than can you explain to us how you arrived at that determination?

You are really stinking up this place, Finley, with your lying, your despicable pride and your incoherent arrogant wanking. Let’s see if you are mature enough to do the right thing.

Mr. Finley:

No, you couldn’t. Intelligence qua intelligence hasn’t been shown to exist; you cannot dodge the fact that the only intelligent anything we know are human beings. Actually, it is even worse than that: intelligence is defined on the basis of human beings!

The same goes for “being a designer”; the only designers we know are human beings, and even worse than that, design is defined on the basis of what human beings do.

Now, to be fastidious about details, both intelligence and design have also been ascribed, historically, to anthropomorphic deities… and we all know what anthropomorphic means, don’t we?

Mr. Finley:

You, Mr. Nominee and GCT (to the extent that you were not also seconding qetzal’s example), were arguing that the application of “intelligence” and “designer” beyond the group “human beings” was illicit. While qetzal assumed, for argument sake, that my approach was valid and then proceeded to use it against me.

Hmmm… I think you should go back and reread those posts.

Fact is, you impaled yourself on the horns of a dilemma, Mr. Finley:

either we accept your premise about the analogy between known and unknown intelligent designers (and show that it leads to all sorts of implications that you patently dislike);

or we accept your other premise that unknown intelligent designers are somehow distinct from known intelligent designers (and show that this leads to the impossibility of inferring anything at all about the former from the properties of the latter).

As you can see, all the arguments raised by qetzal, Russell, GCT and myself are mere variations on this theme.

As you can see, all the arguments raised by qetzal, Russell, GCT and myself are mere variations on this theme.

What I can see is that you disjoined your argument with qetzal’s, called it a dilemma, and thereby associated you’re completely distinct argument with the “qetzal problem” (it’s got a nice ring to it, no?). In essence, you’ve made the trivial observation that any two things, no matter how different, have their disjunction in common. Calling it a dilemma accomplishes nothing.

But why do you care? I’ve conceded defeat. Isn’t that enough, or do you need to credit yourself with it?

Great White Wonder,

You admit to knowing what a qualification is, and that I made such qualifications, but are attempting to deny me the benefit of the qualifications. Forgive me I don’t play along.

Mr. Finley:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…].html#c25551

Please, think before you speak. I had told you to re-read the posts.

Finley

You admit to knowing what a qualification is, and that I made such qualifications, but are attempting to deny me the benefit of the qualifications.

Another lie. How low will you go Finley, on behalf of your master? To what depths will your arrogance and pride take you?

No one here has denied you anything. On the contrary, you’ve been given more credit than you deserved.

You stated that it was “impossible” to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

That is the truth, Finley.

Do you deny this truth, Finley, as other infamous deniers have denied equally plain truths?

If so, then you are a liar.

If not, then please explain yourself. Please explain why it is impossible to to make reasonable conjectures about the nature of the alleged mysterious “designers” who created all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

And please explain why you’re so anxious to dodge this simple question regarding phrases which fell from your own lips like so many chips from a cow’s behind.

I’m quite certain I know the explanation, Finley. But I’m curious as to whether you possess the courage to provide us the answer in your own words.

Aureola Nominee,

In the linked comment you’re simply presenting a variation of qetzal’s example many posts after the original. Way to go.

Great White Wonder Wrote:

How low will you go Finley…?

By conversing with you as long as I have I’m dredging the depths. I’ll leave you at the bottom for now.

Michael Finley, you may wish to read several of Elliott Sober’s papers on the subject of the Design Argument, and other aspects of probabilistic reasoning.

On the other hand, let me congratulate you in all sincerity on being the first anti-evolutionist I remember on this forum to actually admit that his arguments didn’t hold! This sort of honesty is all too lacking in IDC-ers.

Mr. Finley:

Apologies accepted.

“This sort of honesty is all too lacking in IDC-ers”

I don’t think he is one! more’s the humor.

By conversing with you as long as I have I’m dredging the depths. I’ll leave you at the bottom for now.

A conversation requires two participants, Finley. You weren’t conversing with anyone. You were running away from the obvious issues raised by your poorly articulated “hypotheses” and, in the process, doing your best to kick up a choking cloud of dust.

This last insult of your is only the latest many, Finley. Truly it is a small man who wastes so much of others’ time yet cannot bring himself to apologize afterwards. How pathetic.

Indeed. The “qetzal problem” is potentially fatal for my latest attempt. I’ve been puzzling over it for a couple of days now.

Initially, I had wanted to answer by invoking some sort of inherent/accidental property distinction, but that takes me away from the appeal of the statistical approach, viz., that I don’t have to worry about metaphysical concerns. - If I could make the argument on strictly metaphysical grounds (my earlier attempt failed; see previous thread), I’d have no need of probabilities. In other words, the statistical approach was the way to get off the metaphysical hook, so I can’t defend it by appealing to metaphysical criteria.

The answer I arrived at was simply to concede the point (and all related points with it, which you’ve subsequently generalized), and then dispense with it by defining it away. I am able to do this by making certain changes to my hypothesis.

For example, with respect to the “qetzal problem,” I could simply admit that “It follows that no intelligent designers could specially create . …”, but reply “What if, ex hypothesi, we set that aside and consider an intelligent designer that could specially create, etc. What would follow from that?” And then I could use my argument to make probable predictions.

This works, but it’s a technical dodge, and as such, I’m not satisfied with it. Let me mull it over some more, and get back to you. As it stands, however, I’ll count this as strike two.

Ya know, even an earthworm can learn from previous experiences . … .

Regarding the moderator, Russ Nieli: This is the first page google came up with for his name in quotes: http://www.princeton.edu/~wildberg/[…]ioNieli.html

Hmmm. A white supremecist as a moderator? Genius.

Michael Finley wrote:

I’m afraid it’s you who do not understand Ockham’s Razor. It cannot be justified; if you doubt it, go ahead and try. Justify it.

I already did, if you had bothered to read my post:

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor. If you can explain something with a theory that makes assumptions a b and c then there is no reason to introduce assumption d. Ockham’s Razor says get rid of d, not for aesthetic reasons but simply because all assumptions must have evidence to support them. And any evidence that supports your theory does not support d.

I am asking you, again, to justify why we should have another theory. I have given you two possible reasons: either the new thoery gives more accurate predictions or is conceptually simpler. Which is it?

Michael Finley wrote:

I’m afraid it’s you who do not understand Ockham’s Razor. It cannot be justified; if you doubt it, go ahead and try. Justify it.

I already did, if you had bothered to read my post:

You do not understand Ockham’s Razor. If you can explain something with a theory that makes assumptions a b and c then there is no reason to introduce assumption d. Ockham’s Razor says get rid of d, not for aesthetic reasons but simply because all assumptions must have evidence to support them. And any evidence that supports your theory does not support d.

I am asking you, again, to justify why we should have another theory. I have given you two possible reasons: either the new thoery gives more accurate predictions or is conceptually simpler. Which is it?

Ruthless Wrote:

Hmmm. A white supremecist as a moderator? Genius.

Um, was this said tongue in cheek? The only thing I saw was that he was an editor of a book on “White nationalism,” and all the reviews I’ve seen said that he offered a counter-view to that espoused by the white supremecists.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Brauer published on April 13, 2005 9:15 AM.

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