What else could be expected from Dembski?

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I don’t read the stuff posted on Dembski’s sites for an obvious reason – I don’t expect to see anything there of substance and interest. However, I received emails from Dave Mullenix and Steve Verdon, who have quoted in their emails Dembski’s post, where he supposedly “replied” to my post titled “Skeptic on Dembski” placed on Panda’s Thumb (see here) and TalkReason (see here). This made me look up Dembski’s site to verify the quotes sent by Dave and Steve.

Here is the full text of Dembski’s post:

The Boris Yeltsin of Higher Learning

Mark Perakh, the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning, has weighed in with yet another screed against me (go here). The man is out of his element. I’m still awaiting his detailed critique of “Searching Large Spaces” - does he even understand the relevant math?

It is a perfect confirmation that I was fully justified in writing the essay “Skeptic on Dembski.” Typical Dembski: not a single word about the substance of my critique, and instead an assault on my qualifications. That is the same device he used when “replying” to Wein, Matzke, Tellgren, and others, avoiding the substance of critique but asserting the supposed insufficient qualifications of his critics. What else could be expected from Dembski whose supercilious self-assurance of being way above his critics has been well documented? How about saying something, for a change, about the substance of critique of his hackneyed “theories”? For example, how about reading my paper in Skeptic, v.11, No 4 and offering some replies to critique? I am not holding my breath.

Dembski’s demand that I discuss his mathematics is laughable. I have never promised such a discussion and never intended to engage in it, so why is Dembski “awaiting” my delving into his mathematical exercise? What math does he want to discuss? That which was dismissed in the math department of a Danish university?

The crucial fact is that his math is utterly irrelevant to both evolution theory and intelligent design so there is nothing to discuss insofar as these two subjects are in question, and I have quite clearly pointed to that fact in my post (see here). Moreover, Cosma Shalizi, David Wilson, David Wolpert, and Tom English, all four real experts, have said something about Dembski’s math and it was not very flattering. What else needs to be discussed regarding the piles of mathematical symbols in Dembski’s production? (See also the comment by mathematician Jason Rosenhouse (here).

Now Dembski attempts to be witty by calling me the “Boris Yeltsin of higher learning.” Very funny indeed. What is this preposterous appellation supposed to imply? It demonstrates that Dembski not only is not very good at science and math, but also that he is equally not very good at humor, even in “plain English.”

While verifying the quotes sent by Dave and Steve, I noticed a few other comments on Dembski’s site. While Dembski promptly deletes from his site any comment he does not like (which contrasts with how Panda’s Thumb behaves), he allows posting of libelous pieces like the comment alleging that I have not published as many papers as I claim. Perhaps I can briefly clarify some of the points related to this question for those readers who may be confused by the libelous comment on Dembski’s site. About half of my papers were published in Russian before 1973 (but most were later translated into English, as the Russian scientific journals all were translated in full, albeit with a delay). In all these Russian papers my name was spelled as M. Ya. Popereka (I changed my name in 1974). Still, a Google search does not show many of those papers. For example, I tried to find on Google a paper by myself and V. Balagurov on negative Poisson ratio. When searching by my name, I did not find it. However, when I searched for “negative Poisson ratio” it was right there (published in 1969).

When I was emigrating from the USSR, I was not allowed to take with me many of my documents and reprints of my papers. When already beyond the borders of the USSR, I had to recompile my list of publications and patents (in the Soviet parlance, “author’s certificates”) in 1973 from memory and therefore the list probably missed some items published in the fifties and sixties. Therefore I am not sure what the exact count of my published articles is, but I am confident it is close to 300 (perhaps some ten or fifteen items fewer than 300).

As Professor Andrea Bottaro has informed me, his search of ISI database for “Popereka M or Perakh M” revealed 111 of my publications, which, although showing the falsity of the libelous comment on Dembski’site, is still just a fraction of my entire published output. It is well known that in the fifties and the sixties (I published my first scientific paper in 1949) publications in Russian were often not duly referred to in the West (the situation started gradually changing after the USSR launched Sputnik - the first artificial satellite).

The last time I updated my list of publications was in 1985, when I applied for a position at CSUF. It already contained well over 200 items.

Indeed, I have not been active in research in recent years, but this does not change the fact that when I was not yet as old as I am now I published hundreds of articles and several books, and was granted a number of patents (most of them in the USSR). Instead, I have been recently active in debunking the nonsense propagated by pseudo-scientists which I believe is, although not very rewarding, a necessary activity.

Back to Dembski’s “reply” to my post. It speaks for itself and supports once again the statements I made in the “Skeptic on Dembski” post.

PS. In the same comment on Dembski’s site where its author alleges that I don’t have to my credit all those publications I claimed, he also asserts that I got only one degree from some Soviet institution and therefore it is not a good one, as the USSR has lost the cold war allegedly because its science was not on a par with that of the USA.

First, I have two doctoral degrees, one from the Odessa Polytechnic Institute (in 1949) and the other from the Kazan Institute of Technology (in 1967).

Odessa is also the place whence came Sikorsky, who, upon emigration to the USA, became the famous inventor of a helicopter. Kazan is the place where, among other things, the first of the known resonances in solids (the electron paramagnetic resonance) was discovered (by Zavojski in 1939). In 1942 Rabi in the USA, following in Zavojski’s footsteps, discovered nuclear magnetic resonance and was awarded the Nobel prize. Zavojski did not get it, despite his pioneering work. Zavojski shared the fate of some other Russian scientific pioneers (like Gamow) who never got the Nobel, while their followers in the West did. I see no reason to be ashamed of getting my degrees from these two fine institutions. On the other hand, the author of popular books allegedly reconciling the biblical story with science, Gerald Schroeder, who got his PhD degree from MIT, wrote in one of his books that masers emit atoms and that weight and mass are the same. Perhaps this is a sign of a superior status of degrees in this country as compared with the former USSR?

In a more general respect, the derogative remark in a comment on Dembski’s site about the alleged lower status of Russian science speaks a lot about either the comment writer’s ignorance or his deliberate distortions.

Were it not scientists in the USSR who went into space ahead of any other country including the USA? Have the comments’ writers to Dembski’s site never heard the names of such mathematicians as Lobachevsky, Chebyshev, Markov, Pontryagin, Kolmogorov, Kantorovich, Lyapunov, etc., etc., etc.? Or such physicists as Landau, Tamm, Basov, Prokhorov, Alferov, Mandelstam, Ginsburg, Frank, etc. etc., etc.? Or biologists such as Vavilov, Dobzhanski, (who came to the USA from Russia), Oparin, and many others? Or chemists like Frumkin or Chichibabin? Second rate science indeed. Nothing is wrong with my degrees, regardless of how much Dembski and his comments’ writers may wish it to be otherwise.

After the collapse of the USSR, thousands of scientists moved from the USSR to the West (many of them to the USA) where they were met with open arms in scores of universities and research centers because of their excellent credentials. As far as I know, Dembski’s status as a scientist is rather far from equaling that of those “inferior” scientists from the former USSR.

184 Comments

More of the same, of course. Dembski’s math is basically irrelevant, but the critiques of his approach are valid and he knows it. How can he address these critiques honestly? Clearly, he can’t.

So how can he most plausibly dodge them? The easiest way is to ignore them. Where they are difficult to ignore, the easiest way is to dismiss their authors as not qualified to make them.

But what if those who write the critiques ARE fully qualified? Simple. He lies. It’s not like his target audience will ever bother with the math anyway.

The worst part about it to me though is that Dembski and DaveScot have no room to play the “not fully qualified” card.

Mark, you have nothing to defend or apologize for; the rigor and reason in your book, “Unintelligent Design,” speaks for itself.

The thing is, when I see Dembski’s attempts to make a case for his explanatory filter or no free lunch “application” or whatever, I just marvel that they can be taken seriously at all. I am horrible at maths and duly hate them, so perhaps I am the wrong person to comment, because I know that intuition is no proof of anything. But in reading Dembski’s efforts to create a math defense of ID, I get the strong intuition that there is no “there” there. He seems merely to be assigning values to things that cannot be known, then fabricating conclusions on the basis of presuppositions. I don’t know if certain areas of math allow for this (I suppose Bayesian theorems might come close?), but to the lay reader, it just looks like an exercise in trying to dazzle, and thereby baffle, people like me with symbols and double-talk. This would seem to be the opposite of what serious science ought to be doing. Can someone please explain to me why Dembski’s claims, which appear unfounded on their face, seem to be so hard to knock down and keep down in public opinion? Is it just that people want so badly for him (and Behe and other quacks) to be right, or is there something more to it than that–such as, the explanation of why they are wrong being simply too sophisticated for average people to grasp, while expression of the falsehood is more easily apprehended?

Professor Dembski’s reference to the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning may be attempt to remind us of his own supposed status as the Isaac Newton of information theory.

Newton, however, invented the calculus. The Isaac Newton of information theory is Claude Shannon.

Mark Perakh Wrote:

Typical Dembski: not a single word about the substance of my critique, and instead an assault on my qualifications. That is the same device he used when “replying” to Wein, Matzke, Tellgren, and others, avoiding the substance of critique but asserting the supposed insufficient qualifications of his critics. What else could be expected from Dembski whose supercilious self-assurance of being way above his critics has been well documented? How about saying something, for a change, about the substance of critique of his hackneyed “theories”?

(Later.….)

While Dembski promptly deletes from his site any comment he does not like (which contrasts with how Panda’s Thumb behaves), he allows posting of libelous pieces like the comment alleging that I have not published as many papers as I claim.

If it walks like a Scientologist, talks like a Scientologist and *litigates* like a Scientologist.….….….….….…..

From “Scientology’s attitude to criticism”, a site critical of Scientology: http://www.xenu.net/archive/go/philosop.htm

“Attackers are simply an anti-Scientology propaganda agency so far as we are concerned. They have proven they want no facts and will only lie no matter what they discover. So BANISH all ideas that any fair hearing is intended and start our attack with their first breath. Never wait. Never talk about us - only them. Use their blood, sex, crime to get headlines. Don’t use us.

I speak from 15 years of experience in this There has never yet been an attacker who was not reeking with crime. All we had to do was look for it and murder would come out.

They fear our Meter. They fear freedom. They fear the way we are growing. Why?

Because they have too much to hide.”

[Hubbard, “Attacks on Scientology”, HCO Policy Letter of 15 Feb 1966]

These ID people are worse than a pack of Scientology lawyers.

GCT said, “The worst part about it to me though is that Dembski and DaveScot have no room to play the “not fully qualified” card.”

Kind of reminds me of the creationist claim of “the many gaps in the fossils record”… while having no “record” of anything supporting their own beliefs.

Logically, then, they wouldn’t want to talk about that, and focus instead on the so-called “gaps” which they can claim until the end of time because, as has been pointed out by those brighter than me, every new transitional fossil simply creates a new “gap”.

It can all seem very frustrating. Why, one wonders, do we still have the same ridiculous arguments 150 years after Darwin? But understand that 150 years is really nothing. And in the end, truth prevails. Rather than getting into name calling with creationists, just keep doing the science. It speaks for itself. Don’t suppose for a minute that the world accepted the notion that the earth was spherical or that it was not the center of the universe until hundreds of years after these things were first observed by scientific minds.

”…when I was not yet as old as I am now…”

Pardon me for going a bit off topic, but I am unfamiliar with this interesting euphemism for “younger”. Is this what you meant to say, or is it simply a turn of phrase that I haven’t encoutered before? I must admit, it did take me aback for a moment. No criticism intended, just curious…

I seem to recall television images of Boris Yeltsin, then the mayor of Moscow, standing on an armored fighting vehicle, sometime in 1989. Unless I am mistaken, he was demanding that the old-line Communists who were trying to overthrow Gorbachev’s ‘perestroika’ reforms surrender to the populace.

There are worse people to be compared to.

I’m a bit confused as to why Dembski seems to feel that comparing someone to Boris Yeltsin is an insult. Yeltsin was the first (some would say only) democratically elected Russian leader. Like Gorbechev before him, he led his country through very difficult times. Yes, appointing Putin was probably his dumbest move, but aside from that and his penchant for vodka, he really was a remarkable man.

My guess is that Dembski may know even less about politics than he does about science.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of the matter: Were Prof. Perakh to apply for federal funding, his vita would be an impressive spur to the reviewers to approve the funding.

Were Dembski to apply, he’d have to edit his vita to stay within the bounds of the laws governing federal funding for research.

Fusilier hs it exactly right. Yeltsin stopped the communist tanks from taking over (either ending or delaying the return of oppressive regimes, depending on one’s views of Putin).

What’s Dembski done, lately? What’s Dembski done, ever?

I’ve posted about this a bit on Pharyngula.

This is a common “postmodernist” trick: bury one’s argument in endlessly verbose and very difficult to decypher cryptic text and then criticize you for not being sophisticated enough to decipher it. It’s also a tactic engaged in by mystics an occultists. “OOooooh… I can’t understand that… you must know the secrets of the universe! Can I be in your cult?”

Baloney.

This is a rejection of the essence of conceptual thought; the ability to *simplify* ideas.

Nobody on Earth has enough time to delve into every detail of every idea or hypothesis that is presented to them. If such a thing were required to form an educated opinion about something, then we would be bewildered drifters on a sea of uncertainty. But fortunately, we have the faculty of concept formation and conceptual thought. This enables very complex things to be reduced to *ideas* that can be communicated efficiently.

As I said on Pharyngula… if someone has something to say, they will say it. Nearly all ideas, even very sophisticated ones, can be explained *in essence* to a five year old. I have no problem explaining relativity, integrals, derivatives, evolution, the photoelectric effect, etc. to children or to people who have absolutely no background in the relevant subjects at all.

If the devil is in the details, then Dembski should respond by elucidating said devil more clearly. If he has already done this, he could simply provide a link or an article reference and say “go read this.”

What I have seen of Dembski’s argument makes it look like a hopeless canard that consists of nothing more than the overapplication of a theorem that applies to a certain class of computer search algorithms combined with a rehash of the old ‘first cause’ philosophical argument.

See: http://www.greythumb.com/Members/ap[…]ocument_view

When called out on this, Dembski says “you obviously don’t understand the math.” No Dembski. You, as the purveyor of this argument, are the teacher. We are the students. You must explain it to us.

I can’t stress this point enough: if he cannot elucidate, then there is nothing there. Period.

Hiding behind verbosity and complexity is a trick of the intellectual impostor.

One of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Things are often confounded and treated as the same, for no better reason than that they resemble each other, even while they are in their nature and character totally distinct and even directly opposed to each other. This jumbling up things is a sort of dust-throwing which is often indulged in by small men who argue for victory rather than for truth.”

- Frederick L. Douglas, from a speech on the unconstitutionality of slavery in Scotland in 1860.

This quote represents to me just how much intellectual honesty and subtilety we seem to have lost since the enlightenment era.

Our dear friend Cordova is missing the sarcasm when he quote mines:

I should note, Jason Rosenhouse thinks your calculations are impeccable.

“As an exercise in formal mathematics the paper seems unobjectionable. I have never questioned Dembski’s ability to manipulate symbols in accordance with the rules of algebra and calculus.”

http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2[…]-perakh.html

Compare this with the what follows the quoted part

Rosenhouse Wrote:

And that is where Dembski fails completely. He certainly has not modelled anything remotely like Darwinian evolution. His pride and joy, “The Displacement Theorem” (which he has immodestly dubbed The Fundamental Theorem of Intelligent Design), contains so many abstract symbols lacking real-world counterparts that there is no way to apply it in any biological context.

The fact is, Dembski’s recent series of technical mathematics papers exist for the sole purpose of providing a shield against would-be critics. You can see Dembski employing the strategy in his brief remarks above. Rather than respond to Perakh’s cogent arguments, he simply refers to his technical papers and says Perakh should be rpelying to them instead. It’s as if we’re supposed to ignore his seemingly endless output of popular-level tripe. No doubt if Perakh, or anyone else, does respond to Dembski’s papers, then Dembski will simply produce something new and say, “Now you must reply to this one.”

Dembski’s displacement theorem does not in any way further the argument he made in section 4.7 of No Free Lunch. He has simply translated the argument he made there into symbols. But an argument that is inane in everyday language remains inane when translated into math-ese.

Sal surely knows how to take the ‘grenade for Dembski’ but when it comes to supporting Dembski’s arguments he seems woefully ill equipped to do so.

Besides being libelous, anti-Christian, and plain evil, Dembski latest attack reveals his appalling lack of regard once again for actual evidence and his preference for an authority beyond that proper to the evidence. He sounds like some unthinking twit pompously telling Galileo off for not delving deeply into Ptolemy’s epicycles in Galileo’s criticism of the appropriateness of epicycles for explaining retrograde motion.

Of course this is the game plan. The whole point of Dembski, and even mostly with the less appalling Behe, is to avoid the only sound conclusions that are possible from shared genetic data across related but highly divergent organisms. One has no real alternative to concluding that the bacterial flagellum inherited the information it shares with other organelles, and especially has no scientific basis for claiming that Darwin’s finches share inherited information based on comparison of shared information, while denying the same line of reasoning with regard to bacterial organs. Dembski wants us to forget this through his flim-flam and irrelevant mathematics, implicitly claiming a higher authority for math divorced from empiricism than the “authority” of the math which so ably shows inherited correlations where Dembski must claim these do not exist.

To the extent that Dembski is “honest” within his thoroughgoing lack of integrity (in the non-moral sense–he appears to be incapable of effecting an integration of intellect with his reactionary beliefs), he’s probably “honest” in faulting Perakh for not paying attention to the mathematics that he considers superior to the actual data and its normal scientific interpretation. He depends on his claim to a higher mathematical authority than the mere data showing shared ancestry among bacterial organelles, and by no means can he allow that this “authority” is in fact nonsense. Particularly because it is nonsense and it is bound to his ego, he has to strike out irrelevantly at anyone who does actual biology instead of doing Dembski’s scholastic side-step of the evidence.

Just another sorry episode showing how desperately anti-scientific such quackery is.

“I seem to recall television images of Boris Yeltsin, then the mayor of Moscow, standing on an armored fighting vehicle, sometime in 1989. Unless I am mistaken, he was demanding that the old-line Communists who were trying to overthrow Gorbachev’s ‘perestroika’ reforms surrender to the populace.

There are worse people to be compared to.”

Fusilier (above) and Hyperion note the admirable qualities of Yeltsin, but one supposes the drunkenness of Yeltsin at times explains the otherwise unfathomable comparison. Anyway, it’s so much name-calling, the best that a lout like Dembski is capable of, apparently.

I think that even the alcohol angle is reading too much into Dembski’s logic. I think that he noted Dr. Perakh’s national origin and wanted to compare him to a Russian authoritarian leader to emphasize “evolutionist dogma” or some such, and reached for the first Russian leader whose name came to mind, and wound up picking the one non-communist, non-authoritarian, democratically elected Russian leader of the 20th century. This is not to sing Yeltsin’s praises, he certainly wasn’t Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln, but it just strikes me as a really odd metaphor.

One more point:

I am aware that mathematicians often say that there are some ideas that can only be expressed in mathematics. I’m not sure that I believe this.

What I am willing to believe is that there are ideas that can only be perfectly accurately expressed in mathematics. For example, “the area under a bell curve centered on 2 and with a width of 1/2” is much fuzzier than it’s mathematical representation. Fuzzy, yes, but it conveys the idea conceptually. Combine it with a picture, and you get something that could be understood by a small child.

Math is a language, and all languages can be at least loosely translated into other languages.

Speaking swahili and then claiming that only someone with an understanding of swahili can possibly understand what one is saying is a cop-out. If someone can attempt a translation of the Egyptian Book of Going Forth by Day (a.k.a. the “book of the dead”) then you can at least try. That one is from a dead language, for cryin’ out loud.

If any mathematicians here wish to provide an example of a useful idea that they are convinced absolutely cannot be explained outside of mathematical representation, I am open to the possibility and curious. I’ll try to tackle the math, and see if I agree.

Just for the record, DaveScot (people here will remember him as a frequent PT troll months back, who was eventually and repeatedly banned for threatening to hack the site, posting under false identities and sending abusive e-mails to some of the contributors) could not have known about Mark’s previous last name. A search of the ISI Web of Science database for “Perakh M*” alone, however, gives 48 hits between 1974 and the present, most of which are clearly independent peer-reviewed publications in Mark’s field of expertise.

It is hard to believe that DaveScot, who claims to be a scientist himself, really thinks that “Google scholar” is a legitimate science publication database.

There is certainly the risk of delving too much into the trivial ad hominem attacks made by Dembski (hey, where’s Berlinski to note that Dembski isn’t being wildly clever or funny?), but it appears to be all of which Dembski is really capable as a response. So I guess I’ll have a go at it once more in response to Hyperion.

The truth is that it is very hard to follow Dembski’s “reasoning”, from his use of “complex” for simple (but unlikely) strings of information, to this latest crack at Dr. Perakh in all of its stupidity. But my reasoning is that Dembski’s odd name-calling leads linearly to the unwarranted and typically unsubstantiated Dembskian claim that Perakh is “out of his element”:

“Mark Perakh, the Boris Yeltsin of higher learning, has weighed in with yet another screed against me (go here). The man is out of his element.

One could suppose that Dembski was trying to say that Perakh is floundering in biology (this from the grossly-inept-in-biology Dembski), or in math (which of course Perakh wasn’t dealing with), much as Yeltsin did while on a drunk.

Enough of that for me, I think. Except to add that I would be willing to sing Yeltsin’s praises, though I know he was far from perfect.

I don’t pretend to know where Dembski’s math, per se, is sophisticated or not; that’s why I’ll wait until some serious mathematician, applied or theoretical, has anything positive to say about it before attempting to wade through it.

I do know this, though: Whatever mathematical wizardry you apply to it, calculating the probability of the components of bacterial flagella coming together by chance is just plain ridiculous*. Clearly unburdened by the most basic concepts of chemistry and biology, Dembski apparently feels comfortable impugning the competence of anyone to question his brilliance. The guy is either completely tone-deaf to irony, much better suited to politics and PR than academia, or both.

While delving into the math might be a worthwhile enterprise in and of itself, no one should be distracted by Dembski’s apparent position that no criticism is valid unless it comes from a math PhD. Dr. Perakh has it exactly right: if the question is about evolution and biology, it’s up to Dembski et al. to make the case for the relevance of his formulas before anyone should be asked to even care about their mathematical validity.

*I believe this would be a classic case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Read for instance Dembski’s response to the Australian reporter. It shows how Dembski truly believes, contrary to fact, that intelligent design is scientifically relevant. Yet he has not even addressed the inherent scientifical vacuity of intelligent design by not only providing no relevant explanations as to how it happened but also insisting that these requirements are ‘pathetic’. In other words, do not hold ID to the same standards as real science since it is so much ‘better’. And yet, ID’s only success so far is that it has embraced evolutionary theory and is merely arguing that what we do not yet understand should therefor be seen as potentially intelligently designed. But rather than resting in the knowledge that ID is always a logical possibility, ID proponents insist that our ignorance IS evidence of INTELLIGENT DESIGN. And yet, ID proponents also are on the record that there is not really any scientific theory of ID and that it is at most based on some loosely (and poorly) developed concepts.

That Dembski is unwilling or should we say unable to address these basic objections, should be evidence that ID is all about smoke and mirrors. By hiding our ignorance in mathematical concepts, it can pretend to have a scientific relevance when in fact it is ‘rotten at the core’ or fundamentally flawed.

ID cannot stand up for itself in a court of science and when it is given an opportunity, Dembski’s comments cause manuscripts of a yet to be published book to be placed in the record and thus it becomes discoverable… Earlier versions of the book revealed how the term creationism was replaced by the term intelligent design. Indicating strongly that ID is merely a politically/religiously driven move from creationism to a more scientifically sounding concept. Yet both remain fully founded on ignorance.

We do not understand all the circumstances leading to the Cambrian explosion? Must be intelligently designed. And yet when given the opportunity to make its case scientifically, ID proponents miserably failed (Meyer’s paper comes to mind).

To use a common word used by ID-Cers: Pathetic…

Hoopman said:

Why, one wonders, do we still have the same ridiculous arguments 150 years after Darwin? But understand that 150 years is really nothing. And in the end, truth prevails. Rather than getting into name calling with creationists, just keep doing the science. It speaks for itself. Don’t suppose for a minute that the world accepted the notion that the earth was spherical or that it was not the center of the universe until hundreds of years after these things were first observed by scientific minds.

They labor under the sad misconception that geologic time is on their side. Some major shift of the ground and mountains, they hope, will make their arguments look better – by killing all their opponents in a landslide, if nothing else.

NCSE used to have a graphic they ran in one of their publications regularly, with a caption: “When your watch is set to geologic time, the ground beneath you begins to shift.” Someone in the creationist camp has become intoxicated on press clips, and has mistaken what feels to them like shifting ground for a geologic change.

The rocks themselves cry out; the creationists are deaf.

Come now, tovarisch - you may not have personally ordered an artillery attack on the Duma, but (like most thoughtful citizens under most legislatures), you must have felt a strong desire to do so…

Adam, again I’m willing to admit the possibility that the problem is mine and that I am merely ignorant, but what it APPEARS to me that Dembski often does is to take ideas that are conceptual, that can be expressed in normal language, and are amenable to various analogies, and THEN he works like hell to translate that stuff into inscrutable symbolic jabberwocky that must be retranslated into something like real language again. And the only motive I can infer for this is that the initial, plainer languages is vulnerable to attack, so Dembski tries to innoculate it by putting it into symbolic format so that when experts critique it he can claim that they simply didn’t understand the math.

The points made here about the requirement to demonstrate that the math is relevent is easily shown in ways that almost everyone can grasp: 2+2=4 is incontrovertibly true. Therefore, argues a variant of Dembski, there must be an intelligent agent behind the occurrence of less than 4 liters of fluid when one mixes 2 liters of water and 2 liters of ethanol. Any argument about miscibility of fluids is ignorant and reflects a refusal to come to terms with the math or an inability to understand the math. Similarly, 1+2=3 is incontrovertibly true. Therefore, argues a variant of Dembski, there must be an intelligent agent behind the fact that 1 oxygen atom plus 2 hygrogen atoms results in 1 molecule of that dangerous substance dihydrogen monoxide. Any attempt to differentiate molecules and atoms is obfuscation and an obvious attempt to mask one’s inability to deal with the math.

If Dembski’s theology is approximately correct, he’ll burn in hell forever for his lies and distortions.

hugs, Shirley Knott

Adam Ierymenko Wrote:

Nearly all ideas, even very sophisticated ones, can be explained *in essence* to a five year old.

I compliment you on making this point so clearly. I have naively assumed that people with a “good idea” would want to communicate it as widely as possible, and welcome the opportunity to expound.

But, no. Ask, could you explain that for a layperson, and you get condescension, obfuscation and downright evasion. Dembski is the prime exponent, with Cordova a pathetic surrogate.

from Hoopman: {every new transitional fossil simply creates a new “gap”.}

It’s worse, every new “missing link” that is found creates 2 gaps - one each side.

And… Old Boris was much more of a fun guy than Putin and the whole Bush gang.

As for Dembski, isn’t simplicity one of the goals of a good design? Oh, I guess not.

Follow the math.

Dembski Wrote:

version 2.1, 4 March 2005 Abstract Searching for small targets in large spaces is a common problem in the sciences. Because blind search is inadequate for such searches, it needs to be supplemented with additional information, thereby transforming a blind search into an assisted search. This additional information can be quantified and indicates that assisted searches themselves result from searching higher-level search spaces—by conducting, as it were, a search for a search. Thus, the original search gets displaced to a higher-level search. The key result in this paper is a displacement theorem, which shows that successfully resolving such a higher-level search is exponentially more difficult than successfully resolving the original search. Leading up to this result, a measure-theoretic version of the No Free Lunch theorems is formulated and proven. The paper shows that stochastic mechanisms, though able to explain the success of assisted searches in locating targets, cannot, in turn, explain the source of assisted searches.

1 Blind Search Most searches that come up in scientific investigation occur over spaces that are far too large to be searched exhaustively. Take the search for a very modest protein, one that is, say, 100 amino acids in length (most proteins are at least 250 to 300 amino acids in length). The space of all possible protein sequences that are 100 amino acids in length has size 20**100, or approximately 1.27×10**130. Exhaustively searching a space this size to find a target this small is utterly.…

(note: ** means exponent, for example 20**100 means 20 to the 100th power)

He has many ways of saying that 1/N is as small as N is large, and similar profundities: From page 11:

Accordingly, determining the relative effectiveness with which A and B locate T in m steps is a matter of comparing two probability measures:.…

Breathtaking! It goes on like this for 32 pages, with symbols piled higher and deeper.

But you can get past that, eventually. What is more important is that two key delusions are already in the Abstract: 1) Evolution procedes by searching, randomly or otherwise, all sequences of a given length 2) Evolution is aiming at a taget

Can you find additional delusions in this paper? Talk about searching large spaces! But he also discusses ‘assisted searches’. This may be an assist: look in the area of Displacement.

I don’t see anyone here considering the possibility that Dembski is mereley a distraction.

The obfuscations, the defelections, the borderline libelous behavior… all scream to me that he is being posted up as a simple distraction; a beacon to attract your attention…

but away from what, is the real question.

Upon reading the comments above and other prior topics on PT having to do with the work of Dr. Perakh, I have become intrigued into the reasons behind his activity in the intelligent design controversy. I can’t help but notice and reflect on how much of his prior scientific work in the fields of semiconductor films, electric fields in electrolytes etc, seems to be quite unrelated to the philosophy of science and intelligent design which he now deals with. I do not think this discredits him as a credible and worthy opponent of ID, but I am interested into Why he got into the debate.

ID theorists are often accused of being feuled by religious convictions. I agree that this claim has some merit, although I think the “religious motivations” behind ID are better understood when taking into account the metaphysical space that religious people already possess concerning ontology when they view the natural world. Philosophical theists are allowed to see design in nature for it is consistent with their deeply held ontological beliefs about reality. A metaphysical naturalist, in contradistinction, cannot see design or admit that the design she sees is actual because she simply does not possess the metaphysical space to allow it.

But all that aside for another time, I am curious as to the motivations behind Dr. Perakh’s involvment in issues of faith and science, evolutionary theory, and ID debate. From what I have read concerning zealous ID opponents from some writers, they are often fueled by anti-religious, or atheistic, views. Is this true in the case of Dr. Perakh. Is anybody willing to give me an answer to my query. Perhaps even Dr. Perakh himself.

I myself would very much like to see a lengthy reply to Dr. Perakh’s arguments from Dr. Dembski. He may very well find Dr. Perakh’s arguments of little concern, but as for the attention that this issue is getting here among Dr. Dembski’s fiercest opponents, I think a lengthy reply would be in order.

T.Russ

T. Russ Wrote:

But all that aside for another time, I am curious as to the motivations behind Dr. Perakh’s involvment in issues of faith and science, evolutionary theory, and ID debate. From what I have read concerning zealous ID opponents from some writers, they are often fueled by anti-religious, or atheistic, views. Is this true in the case of Dr. Perakh. Is anybody willing to give me an answer to my query. Perhaps even Dr. Perakh himself.

This might sound crazy, but maybe, just maybe he just likes standing up for good science.

he may be a total pariah but he’s our pariah

Hey !!! I’m not a South American fish !!

Oh, wait . … .

;>

Its not a fish its a gum disease.

actually its a pariasaur. As jimi Hendrix put it “scutes me while I kiss the sky” and yes it is a diapsid.

actually its a pariahsaur made famous by Jimi Hendrix in the line “scutes me while I kiss the sky.” and yes it is a diapsid.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on August 18, 2005 9:21 AM.

De Rerum Natura and Safari was the previous entry in this blog.

Santorum shines spotlight on ID’s “Wink Wink Nudge Nudge” is the next entry in this blog.

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