More on Gilder, and Kansas

| 22 Comments

Nick’s thread yesterday about George Gilder of the DI has stimulated a response on the DI’s Evolution News and Views site, by Rob Crowther, in which Gilder responds to what the Crowther says is a quote taken out of context.

Crowther’s article begins,

A Darwinist blog is trumpeting a quote by George Gilder in yesterday’s Boston Globe which they have taken out of context in an attempt to make him look bad.

“Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

First, it would be helpful to see the quote in context of what was being discussed, namely Discovery Institute’s position on education policy.

“I’m not pushing to have [ID] taught as an ‘alternative’ to Darwin, and neither are they,” he says in response to one question about Discovery’s agenda. “What’s being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there’s a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

I understood what Gilder was driving at, but decided to ask him to clarify the statement, which he has done…

Well, that doesn’t help the situation much, it seems to me. But before going on to tell you what Gilder had to say in clarification, let me point out how this discussion is quite relevant to what is going on in Kansas.

In Kansas, all the IDists (including Calvert, the Intelligent Design Minority on the writing committee, the hearings witnesses, and the state BOE) have continually claimed that they don’t want ID or creationism taught — they just want to teach evolution more “objectively” by teaching both its strengths and weaknesses.

Our response to this has been what is well-stated in this small piece that Keith Miller wrote, and that we included in Pedro’s closing argument:

Intelligent Design proponents offer nothing to the scientific community upon which a scientific program can be developed. They don’t even have clearly defined definitions of critical terms that can be understood and applied by others. For example they have provided no objective basis upon which others can apply concepts such as irreducible complexity” or “specific complexity.”

They focus on critiques of evolutionary theory that either attack strawman views of evolution, misrepresent current science, or are simply based on flawed reasoning. They also point to areas of frontier science in which the scientific community is yet to reach a consensus. None of this constitutes any challenge to the predictive and explanatory power of evolutionary theory.

In short, with regard to Intelligent Design, there is no “there” there. There simply is no theory of Intelligent Design or anything approaching it. Intelligent Design is not used in scientific research, even by its primary proponents. All Intelligent Design is a series of failed and rejected criticisms of evolutionary theory.

That last sentence, in bold, pretty much sums it up. Therefore our argument to the state BOE is that by including all these criticisms of evolution in the science standards (criticisms that are found only in the ID / creationist literature and not in mainstream science), they are teaching ID, because that is all ID is.

Now, back to Gilder.

In his clarification to Crowther, Gilder is kind enough to make our point for us, as Gilder is quoted by Crowther as saying:

My point was that intelligent design does not answer the question of the source of the design. Use of the term points the argument toward what we don’t know scientifically and probably cannot know (the designer or intelligent force in the Universe) rather than toward what we do know: the flaws in the materialist Darwinian model.

So there you go. ID doesn’t, and probably can’t, scientifically know anything about the source of the design. ID can’t actually have any content. All ID can do is point to the “the flaws in the materialist Darwinian model”: i.e., those “failed and rejected criticisms of evolutionary theory” of which Keith speaks.

So thanks to Gilder for confirming our position! In respect to ID itself, there is no “there” there.

22 Comments

Crowther Wrote:

A Darwinist blog is trumpeting a quote by George Gilder in yesterday’s Boston Globe…

Do they have some pathological inability to refer to us by our actual name?

By the way Jack, you should include a link.

I added the link - thanks, Steve. Note also that I referred to them by their correct name, not by something like “creationist blog.” :)

To be fair, we do often call them the “DI Media Complaints Division”, because that is what they truly are, not some blog that actually discusses news about evolution (which they never do).

But at least we make it clear who we’re talking about, not just referring to some generic blog that might be run by a kid from his parents’ basement.

A Darwinist blog is trumpeting a quote by George Gilder in yesterday’s Boston Globe which they have taken out of context in an attempt to make him look bad.

No, it makes him look good by telling the truth. It makes ID look bad.

But at least we make it clear who we’re talking about, not just referring to some generic blog that might be run by a kid from his parents’ basement.

To be fair, “blog” is a link to PT. In the original medium, the name comes up if you run your mouse over it or click on it.

The Boston Globe article quoted Gilder as saying,

“Physics and chemistry alone cannot account for the complexity of the genome,” Gilder asserts.

Yes George, that is absolutely true and still is far more incompetent that even a political hack associated with the DI should be saying. There is no argument that biology reduced to chemistry or physics, nor is “the complexity of the genome” attributed merely to chemistry or physics. The word that Gilder is searching for is “evolution.” You see George, evolutionary theory is proposed to account for the complexity of the genome.

And this is telling as well,

“Though a conservative Christian by upbringing and temperament, Gilder insists his belief in ID is not a faith-based proposition.

“Much of what I’ve written about has been in reaction to the materialist superstition,” he says, “the belief that the universe is a purely material phenomenon that can be reduced to physical and chemical laws. It’s a concept that’s infected the social sciences as well.”

And, he adds, “it’s preposterous.”

So, Gilder wants to replace the “materialist superstition?” (I could challenge his use of the word ‘superstition’ but is merely rhetoric from a professional speach writer). The question is George, “With what?” IDC? Sorry George, “Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

The DI Media Complaints Division Blog states

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this quote was truncated from what Gilder actually said in the interview, as it is likely that he gave a much longer answer than what we see in the article.

Interesting how the complaints division seems to jump to conclusions not (yet) supported by evidence but rather by spin…

Hmmm, can we say irony alert…

What again is the purpose of the Blog?

Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in several cases, overtly biased.

Hmm…

First Nelson now Gilder… Intelligent design is truely scientifically vacuous…

The Media Complaints Division blog also points to an article by Gilder that is claimed to show his visions on ID. As far as I can tell, this article does little to show that there is any scientific content to ID. The concept of ‘information’ or ‘complexity’ as found in ID is nothing more than a measure of our ignorance. Only by conflating information in the ID sense with the more common concept of information can ID pretend to be scientifically relevant.

Gilder creates some nice strawmen that Darwinism is a complete theory, and shows how our ignorance is somehow seens as a reason to reject science.

The article however does give some insight into Gilder’s views of science

In all too many high schools biology classes rule the roost and dispense anti-industrial propaganda about global warming and the impact of DDT on the egg shells of eagles and tell materialist just-so stories about the eventual random emergence, after an agonizing wait of four billion years, of Britney Spears from primordial soup. But they fail to report the central testimony of twentieth century science: the paramount role of rigorous mathematical information in the universe.

This shows a disregard for scientific knowledge imho.

Let’s also not forget the revisionist view of history when arguing that

It is exactly those flaws that Discovery has always advocated be included in science classes.

versus the Wedge version

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.

For a better understanding of ‘ID speak’ see An “Intelligent Design” Glossary

or remember Richard Colling’s words

In his new book, “Random Designer,” he writes: “It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods” when they say evolutionary theory is “in crisis” and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. “Such statements are blatantly untrue,” he argues; “evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny. [1]”

From: (Sharon Begley in Tough Assignment: Teaching Evolution To Fundamentalists, Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2004; Page A15 )

Is Gilder watching very unsimilar to the past centuries’ entertainment of strolling through mental hospitals?

Dr. Hurd Wrote:

Yes George, that is absolutely true and still is far more incompetent that even a political hack associated with the DI should be saying. There is no argument that biology reduced to chemistry or physics, nor is “the complexity of the genome” attributed merely to chemistry or physics.

Remind me of the irony that, back in the halcyon days when he was UberTechnologyGuru before losing his & all his investors’ shirts, Gilder was Mr. Emergence/Non-Linear/Synergy/WholeMoreThanParts. It’s testament to his religious ideology and the tiny circles he enjoys being propagandized by that he is unable to apply any serious study to the evolutionary biology he purports to criticize.

From the goose, gander department:

Word of advice: if you are an evolutionist and don’t want to be quoted by evolution critics for being critical of evolution, resist the urge – don’t criticize it. If tempted, even if the reality of evolution’s gaping holes is staring you in the face, close your eyes and repeat the phrase “overwhelming evidence” or “nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution.”

attributed to William Dembski source 1 source 2

goose-gander dept:

Word of advice: if you are an evolutionist and don’t want to be quoted by evolution critics for being critical of evolution, resist the urge – don’t criticize it. If tempted, even if the reality of evolution’s gaping holes is staring you in the face, close your eyes and repeat the phrase “overwhelming evidence” or “nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution.”

The original source, Dembski’s blog

Jack Krebs Wrote:

So there you go. ID doesn’t, and probably can’t, scientifically know anything about the source of the design.

Not only that, unlike classic creationism (CC), ID doesn’t even try to support an alternative “what happened and when.” At least CC could offer testable hypotheses. But IDers know that they fail. IDers are also realizing that they can split up the unrelated “arguments for design” and “arguments against a strawman of evolution” approaches, use only the latter in public schools, and advertise the former in the less constitutionally constrained media. Unless he is in on the scam, Gilder has been conned by IDers into thinking that ID is the former, and that the latter is not ID but a truly scientific critical analysis. It is not of course.

ID has plenty of content, if misrepresenting evolution is the goal.

Just to make the statement clear, so that purviewers can read it:

“Intelligent design itself does not have any content.”

This means that without content, ID has no application. No definition. If it contains nothing, there is no information, and thus nothing to be gained. It is therefore meaningless.

However, what ID proponents are really doing is solely to attack evolutionary paradigms to validate their religious beliefs. I don’t think there are many atheists at all who support the Martian tinkerer origin of life, or the Scientology Xenu-origin of life, or whatever form it takes, or the spontaneous generation of life in many other myths, or the creation stories. No, they propose the Christian origin of life, and backpedal whenever confronted to avoid ID from being claimed as a religious motive so they can use it as a “wedge” to attack evolutionary paradigms. I find this wholly illogical. This is, actually, what ID “means,” and the content is clear.

IDers are also realizing that they can split up the unrelated “arguments for design” and “arguments against a strawman of evolution” approaches, use only the latter in public schools, and advertise the former in the less constitutionally constrained media.

More accurately, IDers were FORCED into this split, when they triede to argue in Ohio for including ID in the state standards, and lost so embarringly that ID was banned from the standards BY NAME.

It was only after their loss in Ohio that we began to hear this “ID is just criticisms of evolution” baloney.

The case in Dover. Paul Nelson’s admission there’s no theory. Charlie Wagner no longer commenting here. Dembski’s implicit admission that IC’s broke. Gilder saying there’s no content to ID.

Honestly, at this point we should all have a celebratory drink. For the toast, I quote Voltaire:

In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.

Cheers!

“It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere.” - V

In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.

The REAL fun will begin after the judge issues his ruling in Dover, as the Thomas More kooks, the Discovery Institute kooks, the FTE kooks, and all the other kooks begin their nonstop fighting over “whose fault is it that we lost”.

My popcorn is all ready. Let the throat-slitting begin. :)

(Naturally, we will also be treated to the standard creationist/ID after-loss BS excuses; “the judge was biased”, “our lawyers weren’t really trying to win”, “we’ll win next time”, blah blah blah.)

Dembski is already plotting his next Waterloo, it’s just a shame he’s always backing Napoleon.

Dr. Lenny wrote:

The REAL fun will begin after the judge issues his ruling in Dover, as the Thomas More kooks, the Discovery Institute kooks, the FTE kooks, and all the other kooks begin their nonstop fighting over “whose fault is it that we lost”.

I wouldn’t be so celebratory. They’ll regroup and be back with another plan of attack. These people won’t give up.

On the difficulty of breaking chains, I recommend this essay by Susan Blackmore:

http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Cha[…]rs/Kurtz.htm

I wouldn’t be so celebratory. They’ll regroup and be back with another plan of attack.

promoting “intelligent evolution”!

I especially love this old chestnut,

“Don’t be distracted by the “thousands” of articles being published in the research journals that purport to support evolutionary theory – this is an artifact of overfunding an underachieving theory. Throw enough money at an inherently flawed idea, and people will write thousands of articles about it showing that the flaws really don’t exist.”

Is this sane? Perhaps paleo-anthro is the wrong field because I know of no researchers that are just rolling in grants and funding. It is inconcievably ludicrous to suggest that the overwhelming majority of evolution-related research is the effect of some mystical funding source that is trying it’s hardest to keep evolution in the mainstream. Honestly who or what is this source of the apparent unlimited funds, it would be quite helpful to get in connect with this entity.

-Zach

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on July 29, 2005 8:18 AM.

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