Still hoppin’ in Iowa

| 105 Comments

First, for anyone unfamiliar with the current goings-on here in the Hawkeye state, I refer you to these threads for some background information. At the heart of the current situation is a letter signed by ~120 Iowa State faculty, saying that intelligent design isn’t science. This hits home at ISU, because Discovery Institute fellow Guillermo Gonzalez, author of The Privileged Planet, happens to be a faculty member in the astronomy department there.

Now, Sigma Xi at the University of Northern Iowa has invited Gonzalez to speak there. This lead the UNI faculty to endorse the ISU statement as well. Over 100 signatures were collected in just 24 hours’ time there.

Additionally, the secretary of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) wrote to the Iowa State Daily, endorsing the faculty’s position there.

In a letter sent to the Daily by the American Association of University Professors, Roger Bowen, general secretary for the organization, applauded ISU faculty members who signed a letter in August rejecting Intelligent Design as a credible scientific theory and also expressed concern that the debate over Intelligent Design may pose a threat to academic freedom in the near future. In the AAUP’s letter, dated Sept. 15, Bowen congratulated ISU faculty for their “willingness to take a public stand on an issue of vital importance to the scientific community, to the academy and to society as a whole.”

The AAUP issued their own statement on the issue back in June:

The theory of evolution is all but universally accepted in the community of scholars and has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the natural world. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors deplores efforts in local communities and by some state legislators to require teachers in public schools to treat evolution as merely a hypothesis or speculation, untested and unsubstantiated by the methods of science, and to require them to make students aware of an “intelligent-design hypothesis” to account for the origins of life. These initiatives not only violate the academic freedom of public school teachers, but can deny students an understanding of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution.

The implications of these efforts for higher education are particularly troubling to this Meeting. To the degree that college and university faculty in the field of biology would be required to offer instruction about evolution and the origins of life that complied with these restrictions and was at variance with their own understanding of scientific evidence, their freedom to determine what may be taught and how would be seriously abridged.

This Meeting calls on local communities and state officials to reject proposals that seek to suppress discussion of evolution in our public schools as inimical to principles of academic freedom.

Of course, Gonzalez is not happy:

An ISU professor and supporter of Intelligent Design has expressed his disappointment with a national organization after it said the theory is not scientific.

“I’m certainly very disappointed with the AAUP,” said Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the book “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.”

“Especially when this is supposed to be an organization that encourages scientific exploration and thought.”

The Iowa Academy of Science (IAS) has also drafted a statement that I hear will be published shortly. Here at U of Iowa, we’re planning a panel discussion to educate folks about Intelligent Design and the issues involved with the latest happenings. I’m also working on getting together some kind of Iowa citizens for science group, possibly under the umbrella of the IAS–so if there are any Iowans out there interested in this, drop me a line.

105 Comments

Thank you. Here are the secular goals, no religion here, nope…

In reality, DASD’s modest curriculum change advances many legitimate, secular educational goals, including:

(1) Raising students awareness about multiple ways of knowing;

(2) Promoting critical thinking;

(3) Encouraging students to assume more responsibility in their learning and to play an active part in constructing their own knowledge;

(4) Promoting a fuller understanding of the theory of evolution, including its limitations;

(5) Aligning its curriculum with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, which require students to “Critically evaluate the status of existing theories,” including the “theory of evolution”; and

(6) Helping students understand the views inherent in controversial issues, such as biological evolution, which is consistent with the Santorum Amendment.

I shouldn’t think any competent lawyer would have any difficulty finding fatal difficulties with any of these goals. None of them have anything to do with learning science, and all of them are indirect efforts to encourage students to reject inconvenient knowledge. I notice they’ve already (by this point) made an effort to get the court to ignore the plainly religious motivations of everyone involved in working to make the changes. The goal isn’t to instruct in religion, but rather to have the State make every effort to neutralize what they view as opposing their religious faith. I trust the plaintiffs’ lawyers will point out that none of these goals is applied to any other scientific discipline at all, and that the only controversy is between fundamentalist religion and the theory of evolution, no controversy exists in science.

I doubt any conscious judge could miss the fact that this is a religious campaign, motivated and directed at nothing else, for no other plausible reason. The only issue is whether the judge wishes to FIND that way.

Oops, posted to the wrong thread. Maybe some helpful moderator can move that to the Dover thread?

Gonzalez says in the Iowa State Daily:

“It is a scientific theory,” Gonzalez said. “It is not faith-based or religion-based. To say that it is faith-based is an outright lie.”

The Wedge Document

… 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. …

An ISU professor and supporter of Intelligent Design has expressed his disappointment with a national organization after it said the theory is not scientific.

“I’m certainly very disappointed with the AAUP,” said Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the book “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.”

“Especially when this is supposed to be an organization that encourages scientific exploration and thought.” [emphasis added]

Does Gonzalez claim to be doing any actual scientific exploration on this topic? Perhaps you should ask him to describe some of it to your panel.

Of course, it’s pretty certain that he won’t - because he can’t. The next time he complains about unfair treatment, you can point out that he had a chance to make his case, and couldn’t/wouldn’t do so.

In a letter sent to the Daily by the American Association of University Professors, Roger Bowen, general secretary for the organization, applauded ISU faculty members who signed a letter in August rejecting Intelligent Design as a credible scientific theory and also expressed concern that the debate over Intelligent Design may pose a threat to academic freedom in the near future.

How ironic. If anyone’s academic freedom is being impinged upon, it is the ID theorists’.

If anyone’s academic freedom is being impinged upon, it is the ID theorists’.

ID has a theory? What is it! Please, please provide details. Imagine an actual testable hypothesis.

qetzal Wrote:

Does Gonzalez claim to be doing any actual scientific exploration on this topic? Perhaps you should ask him to describe some of it to your panel.

Of course, it’s pretty certain that he won’t - because he can’t. The next time he complains about unfair treatment, you can point out that he had a chance to make his case, and couldn’t/wouldn’t do so.

Just for clarification–I don’t think Gonzalez will be on the University of Iowa panel. The lecture at UNI will be just him alone discussing ID. I’m not even sure if they’re allowing questions or not.

theonomo Wrote:

How ironic. If anyone’s academic freedom is being impinged upon, it is the ID theorists’.

No one is stopping them from doing their, ehrm, “research.” But there’s no way scientists or teachers should have to present the ID conjecture as some kind of scientific theory.

I gotta say, as an ISU alum, I’m proud of the faculty there. Iowa State’s a pretty damn good school, and it doesn’t need any IDiots mucking it up.

I hope the Wedge document is presented at the trial so it becomes better known in the popular media. Many of the newspaper articles published about the trial neglect to mention it anywhere.

The work by Gonzalez is indeed based on scientific observations but the leap from the observed correlations to the conclusion of design is not scientific as it is based on a flawed premise and procedure. In fact, when applying Dembski’s Explanatory Filter they only eliminate chance, not regularity. In other words they allow regularities to be the designer. As such the Privileged Planet is not much different from out ID creationist approaches.

Kyler Kuehn has presented two talks in which he explains the many problems with the Privileged Planet

Available below are presentations given at the American Scientific Affiliation 2003 Annual Meeting: A Critique of the Privileged Planet Hypothesis. And at the 2004 “Intelligent Design and the Future of Science” Conference: The Potentials and the Pitfalls of the Privileged Planet Hypothesis

They are, as their titles imply, critical analyses of the Privileged Planet Hypothesis propounded by astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay Wesley Richards.

See also Privileged Planet category at the Panda’s Thumb.

Theonomo wrote: “How ironic. If anyone’s academic freedom is being impinged upon, it is the ID theorists’.”

It is highly unusual that a group of professors is publicly denouncing the ideas of another. One could argue that he is being limited in his academic freedom, although he still has his job and he is still able to apply for grants for his “research”, although no agency outside the DI would probably give him money. However, review by one’s peers is one of the main facets of modern science. The fact that Gonzalez’s peers have issued a summary judgment against his work shouldn’t be that shocking, as it his scientific claims are completely unfounded and attempt to circumvent the scientific process to feed the biases and ignorance of the public.

What’s more threatening to academic freedom, since theonomo seemed to miss this entirely, is the idea of the non-expert public, most of whom know next to nothing about biology, telling scientists that an important scientific theory with a solid evidentiary foundation should be pressented as though it were pure speculation.

Why would Sigma Xi (http://www.sigmaxi.org/), The Scientific Research Society, host Guillermo Gonzalez to talk about a topic other than Physics or Astronomy? I have received two grants in aid of research from Sigma Xi for my evo/devo graduate research, and find myself baffled that this science-based group would host him to talk about a pseudo-science … Have I missed something?

Why would Sigma Xi (http://www.sigmaxi.org/), The Scientific Research Society, host Guillermo Gonzalez to talk about a topic other than Physics or Astronomy? I have received two grants in aid of research from Sigma Xi for my evo/devo graduate research, and find myself baffled that this science-based group would host him to talk about a pseudo-science … Have I missed something?

Perhaps it’s Sigma Xi a fraternity and not Sigma Xi the Scientific Research Society??

You chuckleheads miss the boat (again).

Gonzalez, I gather, supports ID, but his theory, as described in the Privileged Planet, is in fact, not ID at all. Indeed, it has falsified one aspect of cosmological ID—the so-called tie breaker. (Hey Wesley, this is in the real-life real-scientist definition of falsifiability—i.e., if the evidence against something mounts to a point where a threshold is crossed, you abandon the hypothesis.)

Gonzalez’s (and Richard’s) theory is: observability is highly correlated with habitability. There is nothing ID about it. In fact, as I said, it falsifies the tie-breaker corollary of cosmological ID that I used to believe: namely that the designer not only fine-tuned us a place to live but that he also, as a bonus, gave us a nearly perfect observation platform. (Called a tie-breaker because, even if other hypotheses were as good at explaining the fine-tuning as ID, they could not explain our privileged observability.) Gonzalez and Richards posit that the extraordinary observation platform we enjoy is a necessary consequence of habitability, not an unrelated “bonus” as I had supposed. The tie-breaker is rather dead, alas.

The hypothesis that habitability is related to observability holds even it we are here as a result of pure naturalism. Furthermore, Gonzalez and Richards offer some tests which are infinitely better that the “Sure you can falsify evolution just find a pre-Cambrian human fossil” responses I’ve gotten, regarding falsifying evolution, on PT.

David Heddle Wrote:

Gonzalez’s (and Richard’s) theory is: observability is highly correlated with habitability.

David, I think I know what is meant here, but could you give a brief elaboration (even as simple as a definition of the two main terms as they are used in this context)? This is an honest question; I’m not trying to trap you or anything. I’d rather get the concept straight from the source, rather than speculate on my own.

ctenotrish Wrote:

Why would Sigma Xi (http://www.sigmaxi.org/), The Scientific Research Society, host Guillermo Gonzalez to talk about a topic other than Physics or Astronomy? I have received two grants in aid of research from Sigma Xi for my evo/devo graduate research, and find myself baffled that this science-based group would host him to talk about a pseudo-science … Have I missed something?

Gonzalez is a proponent of cosmological ID - ID for cosmology rather than biology.

WKV,

Sure, no problem.

Habitability: The fact that our planet supports life Observability: (or measurability): The fact that our planet offers a privileged vantage point for scientific observations.

One simple example: our sun is in a “cosmic backwater” location in the Milky Way, between two spiral arms. That is good, because we are in a low radiation region, since there are not too many nearby supernovae. That’s the habitability. The observability comes from the fact that our location also (given our aforementioned low stellar density) affords us with a view outside of the galaxy, allowing us to do cosmology.

So the IDiots want kids to be “constructing their own knowledge?” How is that different from “making stuff up?”

ctenotrish Wrote:

Why would Sigma Xi (http://www.sigmaxi.org/), The Scientific Research Society, host Guillermo Gonzalez to talk about a topic other than Physics or Astronomy? I have received two grants in aid of research from Sigma Xi for my evo/devo graduate research, and find myself baffled that this science-based group would host him to talk about a pseudo-science … Have I missed something?

As I understand it, the president of the society made the call without consulting any biologists or folks who were more familiar with ID. The goal is to “stimulate debate.”

“Constructing knowledge” is a common edubabble phrase; if you want to see some excellent (and highly critical, and utterly hilarious) analysis of the meaning of that term and many others, go to EducatioNation (and turn away from the monitor while drinking anything).

Comment #49631

Posted by theonomo on September 26, 2005 10:28 AM (e) (s)

How ironic. If anyone’s academic freedom is being impinged upon, it is the ID theorists’.

While there is a long, brutal and sordid history of religion suppressing science, I am unaware of anyone, in this country, trying to suppress any “ID Scientist” from designing and conducting experiments.

Could you show us, through independent third-parties, as I have good reason to not trust you, when this has happened.

You chuckleheads miss the boat (again).

Gonzalez, I gather, supports ID, but his theory, as described in the Privileged Planet, is in fact, not ID at all.

The title of Gonzalez’ talk at UNI will be Intelligent Design: An Introduction

I wish I could attend so that I could find out if Gonzalez understands the distinction. It is already clear that he does not understand the distinction between condemnation of his ideas and personal attacks, so that my predisposition is to suspect he is not very sharp.

The privileged planet hypothesis has some very weak logic, and it is not falsifiable. Observability is dependent on habitability, only because simply we can only make observations were we live. We have cosmology, because we can. If we were in a different place, we would be doing something else. It is akin to the fine tuning argument. That is if the universe was a little different, life as we know it wouldn’t exists. Yes that is true, but what about life as we don’t know it. So basically, if we were in another location in the universe, the knowledge we have acquired over the years wouldn’t be the same. But who is to say it would be any less? The only way this “theory” makes sense is if earth is in an unique location that allows us to optimally observe more than half of all possible observation. In the end, the “theory” asks us to compare what we know and can observe to what we do not know and can not observe. How testable is that?

David Heddle Wrote:

Habitability: The fact that our planet supports life Observability: (or measurability): The fact that our planet offers a privileged vantage point for scientific observations.

One simple example: our sun is in a “cosmic backwater” location in the Milky Way, between two spiral arms. That is good, because we are in a low radiation region, since there are not too many nearby supernovae. That’s the habitability. The observability comes from the fact that our location also (given our aforementioned low stellar density) affords us with a view outside of the galaxy, allowing us to do cosmology.

Sorry, but “allowing” us to do cosmology is a pretty generous description of our position in the Galaxy. Being stuck in the disk as we are, we lose at least a third of the sky to interstellar dust or stellar confusion, depending on the wavelength. Even the 2MASS survey, which sees through most of the dust in the galaxy, had to throw out all of the data within 30 degrees of the galactic plane to get a decent galaxy catalog. We’re also in the just about the worst position to know pretty much anything about our own galaxy. Can this really be the best of all possible cosmological observing platforms if it took us until the beginning of the last century to work out that there was more to the universe than just our Galaxy?

If a cosmic designer worth the title really wanted us to get all we could out of astronomy, we would have evolved in the outskirts of a globular cluster above the plane of the galaxy. Just imagine: a completely clean universe on one side of the sky and the whole grandeur of the barred spiral on the other half. Combine that with plenty of nearby stars with appreciable proper motions (maybe a nice binary system or two) and we would have had Kepler’s Laws worked out a millenium earlier.

Of course, the only problem with that sort of observing platform is that it’s completely unworkable for any sort of biological evolution (perturbations from nearby stars, no metals to speak of, tidal forces when you pass through the Galactic disk, x-ray sterilization when you pass over the galactic pole, etc.). But, if you’re gonna posit a supernatural creator magicking the universe into existence, what’s another miracle or ten, give or take? Even a less than competent designer could have hooked us up with a galaxy closer to a nice sized galaxy cluster if they really wanted us to get everthing we could from cosmology.

One simple example: our sun is in a “cosmic backwater” location in the Milky Way…

It’s nice that some folks can find comfort in being located cosmicly somewhere in the “red states” area of the galaxy. It’s quite wholesome out here.

Gee bobbob, that is stunning logic. Wrong of course, but stunning. Like your fine tuning gem: “That is if the universe was a little different, life as we know it wouldn’t exists. Yes that is true, but what about life as we don’t know it.”

Fine-tuning deals with the requirements for generic complex life. As such, there only is “life as we know it.” Any complex life requires complex chemistry, and that requires heavy elements, and that requires super nova explosions, and they are fine tuned. It almost certainly requires water as well, given its role as nature’s great solvent. There may be ways around fine-tuning, but the “other kind of life forms argument” will never cut it. Unless you van figure out how to make complex life out of hydrogen and a little helium–or out of neutron stars–the two fates of the universe if the expansion rate wasn’t fine tuned.

What would we be doing in place of cosmology if we lived on Venus?

Ryan: nice try. First of all, we are not talking about what a designer would do, but G&R’s habitability is correlated to observability theory–which as I said is not ID at all. Even the least scientifically savvy person should recognize that this theory does not demand the best possible observation platform imaginable–it only states that a habitable planet will one that allows good observations.

By the way, you are wrong for another reason as well. We have to be in a region of the galaxy where there was sufficient metallic dust for the formation of planets–so while we are not in a region where the stellar density is too high, we are also not in a region where it is too low. We are also in a region of the galaxy that provides stability for the sun’s orbit. It follows, then, that we will not have a “perfect” view of the cosmos–any place with a perfect view will not be habitable.

Your argument boils down to the tiresome “well a really good designer could surely do better” which is easy to counter if we are talking ID, and irrelevant given that we aren’t.

You wrote: “Even a less than competent designer could have hooked us up with a galaxy closer to a nice sized galaxy cluster if they really wanted us to get everthing we could from cosmology.” Did you miss the part where I said G&R falsify this (former) aspect of ID—their theory, which you seem to miss, is that we have an observable platform because we also habitable, not because of design (although from what I know they would agree that the habitable aspect was the result of design.)

“(1) Raising students awareness about multiple ways of knowing;”

Here’s a great way of ‘knowing’: make stuff up and insist it is true because, well, just because.

Fine-tuning deals with the requirements for generic complex life. As such, there only is “life as we know it.” Any complex life requires complex chemistry, and that requires heavy elements, and that requires super nova explosions, and they are fine tuned. It almost certainly requires water as well, given its role as nature’s great solvent. There may be ways around fine-tuning, but the “other kind of life forms argument” will never cut it. Unless you van figure out how to make complex life out of hydrogen and a little helium—or out of neutron stars—the two fates of the universe if the expansion rate wasn’t fine tuned.

I don’t actually know how accurate the above assessment is, but the question that still nags me is “so what?”

All the “fine-tuning” argument says is that if the Universe had come out differently, the Universe would have been different, maybe to the point of not supporting life at all. Ok, so? The Universe had to come out some way, it just happened to turn out in a way that would eventually give rise to human beings. I see nothing that proves this configuration of our Universe must be so, or that it could not be so without divine assistance. Random chance works perfectly well as an explanation here.

David Heddle wrote:

Gonzalez’s (and Richard’s) theory is: observability is highly correlated with habitability. There is nothing ID about it. In fact, as I said, it falsifies the tie-breaker corollary of cosmological ID that I used to believe: namely that the designer not only fine-tuned us a place to live but that he also, as a bonus, gave us a nearly perfect observation platform.

From the synopsis of The Privileged Planet on The Privileged Planet website:

On the contrary, the evidence we can uncover from our Earthly home points to a universe that is designed for life, and designed for discovery.

Nope, nothing ID about that. Dude, you should at least read the sales pitches before trying to claim ID creationists are selling apologetics completely opposite of what you think they’re selling.

Mr. Heddle continues to make amusing, yet uniformed remarks.

Gee bobbob, that is stunning logic. Wrong of course, but stunning. Like your fine tuning gem: “That is if the universe was a little different, life as we know it wouldn’t exists. Yes that is true, but what about life as we don’t know it.”

Fine-tuning deals with the requirements for generic complex life. As such, there only is “life as we know it.” Any complex life requires complex chemistry, and that requires heavy elements, and that requires super nova explosions, and they are fine tuned. It almost certainly requires water as well, given its role as nature’s great solvent. There may be ways around fine-tuning, but the “other kind of life forms argument” will never cut it. Unless you van figure out how to make complex life out of hydrogen and a little helium—or out of neutron stars—the two fates of the universe if the expansion rate wasn’t fine tuned.

The point is, however, that you have no evidence whatever that anything can be tuned - you are simply rehashing a very old, and intellectually discredited argument from the anthropic principle here. Given that we exist and are asking the question, the probabliy of all these ‘fine-tunings’ occuring is 1. Just 1. 100%.

Your blindness to the actual logic of the issue is interesting.

Ryan: nice try. First of all, we are not talking about what a designer would do, but G&R’s habitability is correlated to observability theory—which as I said is not ID at all. Even the least scientifically savvy person should recognize that this theory does not demand the best possible observation platform imaginable—it only states that a habitable planet will one that allows good observations.

But it has already been pointed out that the ‘fine-tuning’ argument is merely your complete misunderstanding of probability theory in action. And as has been pointed out, this isn’t a particularly good platform for learning about the universe as a whole. The interior of the earth is inaccessible; the back-side of the moon wasn’t even observable until recently (a ‘good’ observation platform would have had a rotating satellite, for example).

You’re simply indulging in special pleading, faulty logic, and misunderstanding of science.

And you’re not as amusing as Charlie Wagner, I’m afraid.

By the way, you are wrong for another reason as well. We have to be in a region of the galaxy where there was sufficient metallic dust for the formation of planets—so while we are not in a region where the stellar density is too high, we are also not in a region where it is too low. We are also in a region of the galaxy that provides stability for the sun’s orbit. It follows, then, that we will not have a “perfect” view of the cosmos—any place with a perfect view will not be habitable.

Your argument boils down to the tiresome “well a really good designer could surely do better” which is easy to counter if we are talking ID, and irrelevant given that we aren’t.

You wrote: “Even a less than competent designer could have hooked us up with a galaxy closer to a nice sized galaxy cluster if they really wanted us to get everthing we could from cosmology.” Did you miss the part where I said G&R falsify this (former) aspect of ID—their theory, which you seem to miss, is that we have an observable platform because we also habitable, not because of design (although from what I know they would agree that the habitable aspect was the result of design.)

Lenny, you are the liar, sir.

David, you are the liar, sir. A deliberate, calculating, evasive one.

I have given you two answers to your Krishna chant: (1) I am a Calvinist and we know about such things and (2) I am a follower of the true reliogion, not a false religion such as Islam.

And I asked you:

*ahem* How can we tell. Other than your say-so.

But thanks for once again showing everyone how utterly looney you really are, Davey. Saves me the trouble.

Okay, can we please take the personal attacks down at least a notch, and get the focus on the, er, “science” of ID instead? Thanks.

David Heddle Point 1 (the ID intention) is irrelevant, because a person’s motives are not supposed to matter when judging their science.

Actually it is very relevant when the people concerned and their fellow sheep at the DI have said that it is ID - same wine in both bottles and both awful. ID by any other name - even ID is junk and bunk. G& - I am leaving out the R because he is absolutely clueless and wouldn’t make it into a scientific journal edgeways - is simply trying to do the same thing all over again. Unfortunately for G& fools aren’t as easy to find these days. After six years of buffetting by the scientists the ID big tent has folded up and its ringmasters have decided to give up any pretence of doing science. The timing is right. Just when BillD descends into drawing silly cartoons (with bold faced instructions FUNNY PL LAUGH, G& has launched his ‘assertion’. This one is even sillier than bioID.

David instead of giving us weighty theories like, “observations can only be made where observers are able to make observations” read up on some cosmology. Since you are a qualified physicist it shdn’t be hard to understand the technical stuff (although there’s no saying what ID can do to one’s faculties - see BillD).

David Heddle Point 1 (the ID intention) is irrelevant, because a person’s motives are not supposed to matter when judging their science.

Actually it is very relevant when the people concerned and their fellow sheep at the DI have said that it is ID - same wine in both bottles and both awful. ID by any other name - even ID is junk and bunk. G& - I am leaving out the R because he is absolutely clueless and wouldn’t make it into a scientific journal edgeways - is simply trying to do the same thing all over again. Unfortunately for G& fools aren’t as easy to find these days. After six years of buffetting by the scientists the ID big tent has folded up and its ringmasters have decided to give up any pretence of doing science. The timing is right. Just when BillD descends into drawing silly cartoons (with bold faced instructions FUNNY PL LAUGH, G& has launched his ‘assertion’. This one is even sillier than bioID.

David instead of giving us weighty theories like, “observations can only be made where observers are able to make observations” read up on some cosmology. Since you are a qualified physicist it shdn’t be hard to understand the technical stuff (although there’s no saying what ID can do to one’s faculties - see BillD).

David Heddle wrote:

I await a response from G&R as to whether they view their core postulate from PP to be ID, or whether they have merely embedded it into an ID framework. We’ll see. However, since the postulate is (in principle) testable—if it is ID, then we have an long awaited ID prediction—which is that a cataloging of locations hospitable for complex life will show a correlation with observability.

Oh.… When the apologists G&R say “designed for discovery” they really mean “not designed for discovery, only observability”. But then they can’t really mean that either, otherwise we wouldn’t need to launch things like space telescopes. As any grade schooler can read from places like Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Why put observatories in space? Most telescopes are on the ground. On the ground, you can deploy a heavier telescope and upgrade it more easily. The trouble is that Earth-bound telescopes must look through the Earth’s atmosphere. First, the Earth’s atmosphere blocks out a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing a narrow band of visible light to reach the surface. Telescopes which explore the Universe using light beyond the visible spectrum, such as those onboard the Compton Observatory (gamma rays), the ASCA satellite (x-rays), or the new ultraviolet and infrared instruments on the above-pictured Hubble Space Telescope (HST), need to be carried above the absorbing atmosphere. Second, the Earth’s atmosphere blurs the light it lets through. The blurring is caused by varying density and continual motion of air. By orbiting above the Earth’s atmosphere, the Hubble can get clearer images. In fact, even though HST has a mirror 15 times smaller than large Earth-bound telescopes, it can still resolve detail almost 100 times finer.

G&R must really mean “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Not Designed for Discovery, Only Limited Observation”. This crap doesn’t even make good apologetics.

Lenny’s posts are like flatulence in that they befoul the air for a few moments but then quickly dissipate because they lack any substance. Moreover, if combined Ed Brayton and Lenny you would still be left with a mediocre intellect.

I have studied astrophysics for 35 years and I have a PhD.

Who cares. I am familiar with David Heddle’s vita and I think it is praiseworthy. What are you doing in Sugarland with your PhD?

The point is, however, that you have no evidence whatever that anything can be tuned - you are simply rehashing a very old, and intellectually discredited argument from the anthropic principle here. Given that we exist and are asking the question, the probabliy of all these ‘fine-tunings’ occuring is 1. Just 1. 100%.

Your blindness to the actual logic of the issue is interesting.

How many probability and statistics courses have you taken? I doubt as many as I have. If S is the event that the universe is suitable for life and L is the event that life exists, then you are correct in that P(S|L)=1. However, we are interested in P(S), not P(S|L).

P(S)=P(S|L)P(L)+P(S|~L)P(~L)

Perhaps Rilke (a backwater Northern European name if I have ever heard one) should be posting instead of his granddaughter. His knowledge of probability could not possibly be more pedestrian, nor could his showing possibly be worse, than that of his granddaughter.

Mr. O’Brien.

Would this be the same Robert O’Brien that Ed Brayton named his “Idiot of Month Award” for? I assume so. It would explain the unexpected hostile mention of someone who hasn’t even been a part of this discussion.

Have you anything to contribute to this discussion? Of course, with your towering intellect (so much greater than that of any mere biologist) perhaps you could put an end to this thread. All it would require is some sort of actual, testable predictions of Intelligent Design (biological variety, please). Of course, this would require positive statements, not simply rewarmed creationist arguments about supposed faults in evolutionary biology. What do you say? Help us mental midgets out.

David Heddle- Since you won’t say the observability/habitability correlation is even correct in your opinion, and since it isn’t ID, why should we care about it? You introduced it in a post saying it precluded the “tiebreaker corollary” but provided no evidence to indicate how this supposed correlation is either necessary or sufficient to discredit cosmological ID.

Then to top it off, you talk about how if it is ID this is a testable claim of IDers.

You haven’t answered my questions. What is your point? Why, in your opinion, should we care about the habitability-observability correlation? Do you think it is accurate, and do you think it is a testable claim supporting cosmo ID? And if so, how can you quantify habitability and observability, in order to find a correlation, or are these categorical rather than numerical measurements? As before, I humbly beg that you please share all the great insights you have unloaded from the boat the rest of us sadly missed out on.

And btw, did everyone notice the trackback Robert OBrien put on this thread. The young man actually put his last 3 comments on his blog.

(Note–since those comments were merely a repeat of what he said here, I removed the ping. That’s poor netiquette, Robert.–Tara)

It is very impressive that Robert O’Brien takes time from teaching Dr. Rachev about Kantorovich metrics to tell all the low-intellect contributors to PT how they do not understand this or that. Hopefully he’ll be ready soon to explain Kantorovich metrics here on PT. Or perhaps he may first visit a doctor to get some pills curing mental deficiency.

“Point 1 (the ID intention) is irrelevant, because a person’s motives are not supposed to matter when judging their science.”

I think David might be right here if the criticisms of ID/C intent regarded their science. They do no science. Intent becomes very relevant when the motivation is religious, political, philosophical, or educational.

“How many probability and statistics courses have you taken? I doubt as many as I have.”

Robert, how does repeating the same course over-and-over make one an expert?

I stand corrected, based on private communication with Gonzalez. He has informed me that they do consider the correlation to be ID. He wrote (and gave me permission to quote):

Yes, we do claim that the correlation between habitability and measurability is ID. It can be framed using Dembski’s explanatory filter: the number of cases and their complexity is the “complexity” part and the correlation is the “specification”. In our case, though, we are talking about the design of the universe and Earth is an instantiation of the general correlation. Dembski’s filter is designed with things contained in the universe rather than the universe as a whole. What we eliminate is “logical necessity” not “physical necessity”. See our response to Kyler Kuehn’s criticisms on www.privilegedplanet.com.

I know nothing about Dembski’s evolutionary filter, so my position remains that I do not view the correlation as ID but slightly negative ID. Gonzalez does touch upon this when he writes:

We are not saying that Earth was the specific result of miracles, but that it is a result of the outworking of the design imbedded in the universe. Of course, saying that the Earth is a great place for science and life but without having the correlation could have been evidence for direct miracles, but that is not the situation we observe.

which seems to be the same as when I stated that observability, if not correlated, would be additional design.

RGD: So are they ID or Anthropic arguments—that is not the same thing.

Ryan, You really are more than dishonest. I never, ever stated that the earth was the best possible observation platform for cosmology and astronomy, nor do G&R in their book. They include other types of types of observations, such as terrestrial observations. And (just a small point) when you include the conditions that make the earth habitable, then places that are absolutely ideal for astronomy are eliminated. Even if they weren’t, what I can’t believe is that you seem to fail to grasp the difference between habitability and observability being correlated with what you are putting up (dishonestly) as my argument: that this correlation implies that the earth must be the optimal platform for astronomy. I mean, which are you dishonest or dense? Those are the only possibilities. As I asked before, do you know what correlation means?

I shared your stellar evolution from eclipses lunacy with a couple of the other astronomers here at lunch, asking them to name the knowledge about stellar evolution we gained from eclipses. Both of them got sort of a bewildered chuckle out of the “Helium” answer until I told them that an actual professor of astronomy came up with the argument. Then, they were just confused that someone with an actual astronomy background would come up with something so sad.

This is bullshit. This is like Gary Hurd’s apocryphal “Reverend Mike” stories. Argument from anecdote (including invented anecdotes) is no argument. You and your lunch buddies seem to be the only astronomers in the world ignorant of the importance of eclipses in the advancement of spectroscopy, advancements the were crucial in understanding stellar evolution.

Oh, your argument about Helium being discovered independently 30 years later is just more of your nonsense. Your second strawman. First you argue as if I said the earth was the optimal observation post for astronomy (I didn’t) and then as if I said Helium never would never have been discovered without eclipses (I didn’t.)

Flint:

We know we were designed because astronomers can see everything they can see? What ELSE could they see?

Well, what we can see is virtually all of the theoretically observable universe. If we could only see our galaxy you’d have a point. But we can see everything. (Not only that, we are at a point in cosmic history where the theoretically observable universe will begin to shrink as the increasing expansion moves distant galaxies beyond the Hubble distance). So your argument is: no matter where you are you see what you see, and would be blissful in your ignorance of that which you don’t. However, we see everything there is to see. Or do you see no significance in that?

Arden Chatfield

I think Dave’s getting a bit testy since everyone’s piling on him here plus he was just kicked out of Pharyngula a couple days ago.

Gee Arden, even Lenny (I think), by not accepting my answers (1) and (2) recognized that they were given merely to dismiss him and not to be taken seriously. Oh, BTW, I was not kicked off but rather “asked to leave” Pharyngula. PZ doesn’t quite have the courage to ban me. I think it offends his liberal guilt.

Sanjait:

but provided no evidence to indicate how this supposed correlation is either necessary or sufficient to discredit cosmological ID.

Yes I did. It is the common sense argument that if observability necessarily tags along with habitability, then observability cannot serve as, as had for me, as additional evidence for design.

Why, in your opinion, should we care about the habitability-observability correlation?

I do not have an opinion as to whether or not you should care about it.

Do you think it is accurate, and do you think it is a testable claim supporting cosmo ID? And if so, how can you quantify habitability and observability, in order to find a correlation, or are these categorical rather than numerical measurements?

It is clearly testable in principle, though difficult in practice. As one discovers habitable planets, one tests their observability. On the flip side, if you find a planet like Venus inhabited by complex life, it would disprove their theory. And I guess you haven’t actually read anything I have written, because I do not think it is ID so therefore I do not think it is a test of ID. However, everyone here seems to agree with Gonzalez that it is ID, so from his (and from most everyne here’s perspective) it is a test of ID.

Gee Arden, even Lenny (I think), by not accepting my answers (1) and (2) recognized that they were given merely to dismiss him and not to be taken seriously.

Actually, Davey, I think they are EXACTLY what you really think.

So, are you going to answer my questions, or not, Davey. What makes your religious opinions any better than anyoen else’s? Why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opiniosn than they should mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas? Other than your say-so?

It’s a simple question, Davey. Why are you so reluctant to answer it?

I stand corrected, based on private communication with Gonzalez. He has informed me that they do consider the correlation to be ID.

No shit.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on September 26, 2005 9:06 AM.

Dover News carnival. was the previous entry in this blog.

The Intelligent Designer’s Prayer is the next entry in this blog.

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

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter