A Review of the Sternberg Saga

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Daniel Morgan has written a very thorough review of the entire Richard Sternberg situation and it’s well worth reading. Sternberg, you may recall, was the editor of a journal who went outside the normal peer review process to insure that a very badly written paper by DI fellow Stephen Meyer would get published. Morgan debunks the whole Sternberg-as-martyr myth that has grown up around it.

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Dissecting a Frog from Get Busy Livin', Or Get Busy Bloggin' on December 22, 2005 6:12 AM

After an 11-hour drive with my 150-lb Saint Bernard to Virginia, I find myself comforted. Considering their money and staff resources, I was quite surprised at the two strawmen and mushy spin-ach I was served by the DI-CRSC. I actually expected somet... Read More

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Here’s a laugh: the recent column at The Conservative Voice which plays up von Sternberg, Bryan Leonard (of Ohio State) and Guillermo Gonzales as martyrs was written by Julia A. Seymour, who “is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia”.

Thanks for the honorable mention. Julia A. Seymour, ever attempting at accuracy, just published a review of the Paul Mirecki affair, which she boldly entitled, “Evil Dr. P Resigns”.

Note that she “accurately” says, “Labeling intelligent design and creationism religious mythologies was enough to fan flames of outrage.” Then goes on to provide numerous quotes of sources who see it [her way] accurately. Any quote supporting Mirecki in the entire article? Nah…

Thanks for helping to maintain accuracy in academia, Julia.

It seems proper to construe the Sternberg affair in view of what happened to Mirecki. While Sternberg, who evidently had steered Meyer’s worthless paper around the regular review procedure, keeps, contrary to DI’s unfounded statements, his position at Smithsonian with all the concomitant privileges, Mirecki has indeed suffered at the hands of anti-science fanatics - was forced to resign the department chairmanship, had his planned course canceled, has been vilified by all kinds of anti-science bloggers, by members of Kansas legislature, by University administration, betrayed by colleagues - for what? For an attempt to exercise academic freedom and his right for free speech. What an ugly picture. The gleeful laughter of some ID advocates who say that Mirecki just got his due and deserved beating at the hands of some rednecks speaks volumes about the moral standing of those fighters for the Glory of God.

Re: Julia Seymour’s post about those “martyrs” - Sternberg, Gonzalez, DeHart, Leonard etc. With defenders of “accuracy in media” like Julia, the real “accuracy” needs no adversaries.

I took a look at the Accuracy in Academia web site. It is obvious that their definition of ‘accuracy’ is very one-sided.

One thing that seems to be missing from the article is Meyer’s statement that Sternberg told him that he should think about submitting a paper to his journal at some ID meeting. I seem to recall some admission like that when the story first broke, but I can’t say where I saw it. Someone else may recall it. If this is true Sternberg didn’t just shepard the paper through the process, but solicited it too. It would make sense that Sternberg asked Meyer to submit a paper, why else would Meyer submit a paper to a taxonomy journal?

I like Sternberg’s three reviewers, where was his “peer reviewed” paper published?

Ron Okimoto

Ron Okimoto Wrote:

I like Sternberg’s three reviewers, where was his “peer reviewed” paper published?

Follow the money link:

On the Roles of Repetitive DNA Elements in the Context of a Unified Genomic-Epigenetic System STERNBERG Ann NY Acad Sci.2002; 981: 154-188.

Abstract: Repetitive DNA sequences comprise a substantial portion of most eukaryotic and some prokaryotic chromosomes. Despite nearly forty years of research, the functions of various sequence families as a whole and their monomer units remain largely unknown. The inability to map specific functional roles onto many repetitive DNA elements (REs), coupled with the taxon-specificity of sequence families, have led many to speculate that these genomic components are “selfish” replicators generating genomic “junk.” The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the selfishness, evolutionary effects, and functionality of REs. First, a brief overview of the range of ideas pertaining to RE function is presented. Second, the argument is presented that the selfish DNA “hypothesis” is actually a narrative scheme, that it serves to protect neo-Darwinian assumptions from criticism, and that this story is untestable and therefore not a hypothesis. Third, attempts to synthesize the selfish DNA concept with complex systems models of the genome and RE functionality are critiqued. Fourth, the supposed connection between RE-induced mutations and macroevolutionary events are stated to be at variance with empirical evidence and theoretical considerations. Hypotheses that base phylogenetic transitions in repetitive sequence changes thus remain speculative. Fifth and finally, the case is made for viewing REs as integrally functional components of chromosomes, genomes, and cells. It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.

Key Words: repetitive DNA * selfish DNA * genomes * neo-Darwinism * epigenetics * theoretical biology

Who would put “theoretical biology” as a keyword?

Bob

Thanks Bob.

So I take it that Sternberg is a member of the NY academy of science and had three creationists review his paper that he submitted to the journal for publication. It seems to be a pretty bogus thing to do just to get “It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.” as a conclusion in the paper. If he had some science to back the claim up he could have gotten that conclusion past plenty of legitimate reviewers. All he would have to do is define neo-Darwinian “naratives” and show that they are an obstacle to elucidating the effects of repetitive DNA. The only reason that he would need creationist “peers” like Wells would be if he knew he didn’t have the data to back up the conclusions.

Anyone have access to the journal?

Ron Okimoto

I tracked down the reference to Meyer admitting that Sternberg came to an ID conference, and that Meyer then chose to submit the paper to Sternberg after meeting with him there. The NCSE reported on this a little while back: According to the article, Meyer “said he had chosen the journal because Mr. Sternberg attended a conference where Mr. Meyer gave an oral presentation advancing the same arguments. The two discussed the possibility of publishing the work.” Although the conference is not named in the article, it is likely that it was the Research and Progress in Intelligent Design Conference, held at Biola University in October 2002, at which Meyer spoke on “The Cambrian information explosion: Evidence of intelligent design” and Sternberg spoke on “Causal entailments in convergently developed, irreducibly complex organ systems.” Only advocates of “intelligent design” spoke at the RAPID conference, and at least one critic of “intelligent design” was expressly forbidden to attend.

I will probably not revise the Sternberg review, but instead publish an additional follow-up sometime down the road. I currently am accumulating evidence for who some of the reviewers may be, and getting copies of Sternberg’s works.

In general, I must say he appears to have a very solid background in systems biology and I can’t understand, for the life of me, why he participates in baraminology. I mean, two PhDs, and you help lend credence to the position of YECs? I just don’t comprehend it.

The beauty of the ID guys is that they signal their intentions with such obvious naivety. When you only have a hammer the whole world looks like an anvil and the noise they make with it is a pathetic “tink”. The projection of each of their minds is always accompanied by a small or very large delusion that they actually *know* deep down is a lie that requires deliberate and calculated obscurantism. They ask the *big* question and they don’t like the answer they get from outside their dream and those that share it. Makes me wonder why they ask, if they already know the answer.

two PhDs ==== AHHHHH that explains it :) he got old before before he had time to grow up a common problem… well documented… starting with Dante. http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-[…]erno-test.mv

Ron Okimoto Wrote:

Anyone have access to the journal?

I’ve got electronic access, through our university, and can pass on a .pdf. I can’t be bothered to read the article properly, but it appears to casting evolutionary biology as reductionist, and therefore wrong.

The final sentence is this:

As unpalatable as this may be for most readers, it would seem that the selfish DNA narrative and allied frameworks must join the other “icons” of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory that, despite their variance with empirical evidence, nevertheless persist in the literature.139

I’ll let you guess what citation 139 is.

Bob

OK, so go here to read the paper in question in the Annals of the NYAS by Sternberg. Remember that copyright laws apply.

Thanks for the reference. I’ve downloaded it, but at 35 pages it is something that I might read if I have the time. I can’t believe that he would cite Wells’ book. Couldn’t he have used a legitimate science source? The fact that he used Wells insead of a real science reference tells me that he doesn’t seem to have done his homework on this issue. There are probably plenty of papers citing function for repetitive elements. He also cites Behe’s book. I’d be embarrassed if I cited an idiot that was fooled by Denton’s junk in Theory in Crisis. It would have to be a peer reviewed citation from such a moron, so that it might be half believable.

I just looked through the references, and major missing papers are Britten and Davidson’s early theoretical papers on repetitive sequence and their possible functions. He has to explain how these early explanations were accepted and fell out of favor as more information was gathered.

I wonder what he claims about fugu? That data was available at the turn of the century, but it would probably knock his sine and line concepts on their head. It depends on how current he was and when he wrote the bulk of the paper. He has a bunch of papers from 2002, so a reader should be able to detect bias in what he chose to include.

In general, I must say [Sternberg] appears to have a very solid background in systems biology and I can’t understand, for the life of me, why he participates in baraminology. I mean, two PhDs, and you help lend credence to the position of YECs? I just don’t comprehend it.

I have no direct knowledge, of course, but I offer the following hypothesis:

Like Jonathan Wells, Sternberg embarked upon his whole postgraduate career dedicated to “destroying Darwinism” because it’s at odds with his religious precommitments. If so, one does not marvel at the fact the he’s evophobic despite having two PhDs in the field. One suspects that he went to all the trouble of acquiring those PhDs specifically because he’s evophobic.

And what are those precommitments? With Wells, of course, we know: he’s a disciple of Rev. Moon. With Sternberg, again I have no direct knowledge, but the fact that he is not embarrassed to be associated with this group gives me a general idea.

Is there anything as absurd as Baraminology?

I cant stop laughing about it and wonder what bird baramin the bat belongs to!

Is there anything as absurd as Baraminology?

ICR’s “RATE” program of, uh, research, comes pretty close.

A word about the publication: looking over the volume of the Ann NY Acad Sci, it looks like the article is a symposium proceeding from one of these “biology meets philosophy in the age of genomics” affairs. The papers are based on talks given at the symposium, and the peer review occurs primarily at the invitation stage, rather than at the publication stage. So it’s kinda legit, but not as good as the real thing. The point of the paper is that repetitive DNA is not accounted for by the “selfish gene” model, but neglects to say that the selfish gene model never purported to explain all repetitive DNA.

I also find it interesting that Sternberg has a couple of reviews/theoretical papers lately with James Shapiro, one of the original workers on repetitive DNA. Shapiro lately seems to be saying that there are other functions that could have played into the evolution of repetitive elements, and lists a couple. No one really doubts that some repetitive “junk” DNA may have functions. It’s just that we have very few tested ideas of what they are. But then there are lots of protein coding sequences that, when knocked out, leave no discernible phenotype. Incomplete knowledge doesn’t indicate that paradigms are about to crumble.

Sixty years or so ago, we got all kinds of navel-gazing about “the nature of the gene,” until the rise of molecular genetics showed how genes are units of chemically stored information. After the phage group got going, people started out finding out what the info is, and how it works. We are getting the same kinds of musings about “the nature of the genome,” even from people who ought to know better. I suspect that a few decades of work will reduce these to an embarrassing footnote in the history of the field.

The danger is that someone might mistake these musings for real science, and decide that it overturns “Darwinian Dogma.” The ID crowd, in search of gaps to shoehorn God into, are seizing on the lack of knowledge about repetitive DNA function to claim design. In this we have a revisiting of the attempts to pass off Punctuated Equilibrium as evidence of “a theory in crisis,” when in fact, both PE and gradual change can be accounted for by the mechanisms of variation, selection and replication.

If they’d only get to work and do some real science… Ah, but then they’d have to compete like everyone else. Easier (and more lucrative) to claim they’re being perscecuted.

I just posted a follow-up to the original review of the Sternberg saga. Just FYI.

Frank schmidt wrote:

Sixty years or so ago, we got all kinds of navel-gazing about “the nature of the gene,” until the rise of molecular genetics showed how genes are units of chemically stored information. After the phage group got going, people started out finding out what the info is, and how it works. We are getting the same kinds of musings about “the nature of the genome,” even from people who ought to know better. I suspect that a few decades of work will reduce these to an embarrassing footnote in the history of the field.

I’d add an embarassing over simplification of molecular biology by several members of the phage group. Once the genetic code and the lac operon had been elucidated they decided that most everything had been discovered and so guys like Benzer and Stent went into fields like neurobiology where they thought that they could work for the forseeable future with no end in sight. It may have been hubris or just a big mistake, but they missed out on an explosion in the field of molecular biology, while having to toil with the limitations of neurobiology and getting practically nowhere.

The simple fact is that we don’t know everything. The problem with creationists is that they depend on what we don’t know and not what we know. Sternberg seems to be no different.

“The simple fact is that we don’t know everything. The problem with creationists is that they depend on what we don’t know and not what we know.”

I would go much forther. The simple fact is that we know pitifully little, compared to what is “out there”. What Newton said about his life’s work, “I was playing with pebbles at the seashore, while the great ocean of knowledge lay undiscovered before me” (or something to that effect) is as true today as when he said that, despite the intervening 350 years of what we like to describe as “explosive” growth in scientific knowledge.

And in the absence of knowledge there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.

And in the absence of knowledge there is nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses”, whether creationist or otherwise.

Perhaps the operative word here is “working”. Creationist “hypotheses”, being inherently incapable of being tested or falsified, don’t work. Carol doesn’t seem to understand that in the face of that vast ocean of ignorance, “magic” is not a working hypothesis in any way. It’s nothing more than a way to protect ignorance.

Of course, the claim that Newton’s comment is “as true today as when he said” it, implies that in 350 years people have learned nothing. Hence the scare quotes around “explosive”. Despite enormous advances in knowledge, Carol tries to claim there’s been no growth at all, we’re just as ignorant as ever, now get down and grovel, you blasphemers!

Personally, I think lighting a single candle is preferable to even praying at the darkness. Carol obviously disagrees.

Close enough. The actual quote is:

Sir Isaac Newton Wrote:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

And yes, when you consider the differences between modern relativity and Newtonian mechanics, it’s a fair statement. But, is there really some grand unknowable Truth out there that we will forever reach for but never grasp? A better question: Would it matter?

And, lest we forget, Newton’s greatest passions were religious. He spent more time on alchemy than the Principia or his formulation of calculus. Such is the treacherous genius of the human mind.

Flint Wrote:

Perhaps the operative word here is “working”.

Spot on. But of course, when the goal is not knowledge but comfort, a roaring blaze of deified horsehockey counts.

I’m sure carol meant to say say that there’s nothing wrong with creating tentative “working hypotheses” in the lab, that wouldn’t be used in school science textbooks without a big disclaimer sticker… right???

Rather than have yet more posters, in addition to the three above, put words into my mouth, let me elaborate.

Flint,

No, I am not saying that in the intervening 350 years humans learned nothing. I am claiming that we found a few more smooth pebbles and pretty shells, while the great ocean of truth…

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

You may label someone’s operating hypothesis as “magic” but all you are doing is disagreeing with the hypothesis, not the justification of inventing ANY hypothesis in the face of an absence of knowledge.

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

Given that science should not be used as a moral guide to one’s actions and life I wonder why you think that a “working hypothesis” about the changes in life in the history of the world is relevant to your life choices. Science only tells us what reality is like. Not what you should do about it.* Otherwise, we should remove parachutes and inflatable lifejackets from planes, since science says that things “should” fall to the ground at 9.8 m/s2 and sink in water if they are heavier than the displaced mass of water.

Carol, you are as misguided as always. You have no idea of what science is, nor what religion is, nor what the difference is between them. By trying to make it seem like science is a “guide to life” you are setting a false dichotomy.

Working hypothesis: a testable idea. I.e. what the Theory of Evolution is, at its base, and what ID never has managed to be.

We don’t need to put words in your mouth, Carol. Your own words are enough to show your obvious confussion about the topic.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

*Science can tell you, of course, what your actions will do - like the effects of the greenhouse effect - but it remains up to you to decide if it is good or bad, and if you should do something about it, at which time science might offer alternatives.

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David, I’m shocked.

Grey Wolf,

Your silly comments have no relevance to what I said, for I said nothing about the “working hypotheses” (justified in the absence of knowledge) being scientific. It’s just your one track mind and sloppy reading at work here.

And thank you for your lesson in what science does and does not do.

Carol

Please don’t take this as a general endorsement, but your comment #63337 seems eminently reasonable to me. You may be getting rained on for other posts.

BTW, Carol, here is what seperates science from “alternative methods to truth”, stated as best as i have seen by the editor of UNISCI, Don Radler:

Why Science?

Philosopher-scientist Herbert Spencer once defined science as “organized knowledge.” But your current shopping list is an example of organized knowledge, and it’s not science. So what is science, really? An interviewer recently asked me just that, and I gave her some kind of answer. Thinking more about it since then, here’s what I wish I had said:

Science is the design or conduct of reproducible experiments to test how nature works, or the creation of theories that can themselves be tested by such experiments. Science is also the orderly observation of events that cannot yet be manipulated, and, ultimately, the testing of many different such observations as the basis for theories to explain the events.

This makes science the one human activity that seeks knowledge in an organized way. It’s not the knowledge that’s organized, it’s the seeking. Science doesn’t guess, doesn’t hope, doesn’t wish, doesn’t trust, doesn’t believe. Science seeks.

It’s the search that makes science so powerful and so exciting. Science does add to our store of knowledge, but some of the knowledge it adds turns out to hurt more than it helps. Science does lead to new products, some of which prove not to be so good, either. It’s the seeking that makes science what it is.

Seeking is a uniquely humble human experience. It doesn’t say I know, it says I need to find out. It doesn’t declare one thing better than another, it merely describes each thing as it finds it. It doesn’t tell anyone how to do anything, it merely discovers how nature does things.

Humble, nonjudgmental, nondirective. What other human enterprise has this cluster of attributes, this quiet dignity? And the best that there is of this enterprise goes on at universities, where much of the research is basic science, a simple search for truth.

Science is mankind’s organized search for truth. That in itself answers the question, Why Science?

Russell put it well:

Russell Wrote:

Given the sloppiness of the Amazon system, however, I more or less assume that a lot of “critics” are just taking the opportunity to share their opinion based on a less-than-careful reading, or even on indirect information. I place it somewhere between driving 75 in a 65 mph zone, and “not noticing” that the clerk forgot to charge you for that extra Coke.

But, since Heddle apparently puts it somewhere between crucifying Christ and being Will Dembski, I decided to return his dignity.

I’m excited, now…I know I’ve finally moved up in the world [snicker]: Witt responds to my Sternberg pieces via an “idthefuture” blog.

well, you certainly struck an apparent nerve. keep it up :)

Carol forget the BS If you were truly interested in bringing Religion/God/Creationism/Unidentified/Identified-“design/designer” into the High School environment you would promote teaching the understanding of all religions, all creation stories, all systems of belief and how they are spread, how the world view of each is enforced within the group of believers, how people are converted from one to another, how political leaders cynically use those groups to promote their agenda

Forming the group world view How the creation myths mold and conform each persons world view within the group and their view of people outside of their group. How the more radical those views are, the more it devalues the life of those outside their group to the point where extermination (either mentally or physically) of those outside the group is fully justified since the people outside the group are effectively non-persons.

Spread of world view How strong proselytizing is successful in religions that give very strong political identity, seemingly ‘high’ moral values and or material/personal gain to the the promoters/insiders at the expense of the political power in that societies establishment by devaluing the opposing sides morals and giving permission to take their goods and value of the life of the people outside of their world view.

Propaganda How important control of the public mind is through hiding fact (Obscurantism) through allowing/promoting/”giving permission” to opinion carefully disguised as fact in the major media that promotes success of the group within the world view by claiming those within are victims and those without are oppressors. The “oppressors” arguments on the faults of the “victims” world views are carefully disregarded by a clever appeal to “fairness” no matter how sensible they are. Remember Carol fairness is the work of the devil.

You conflate science the scientific method, morals and ethics and politics and religion into one great mish-mash and claim that your world view is endorsed by the “One true word of God” as translated by your book writing friend.

That is the position of one who has given up the search for truth a stick in the mud who when covered over with more layers of mud will eventually fossilize into one of humankind’s sedimentary layers of disappeared horizons in the bedrock of the “history of ideas”.

Lets just take the “scientific method”, as with all the other above but one paragraph items, are Cesar’s pennies -secular concerns.

You can call it the search for truth if you want however, it is just a game with rules, played by people/apes/angels/monsters/gods/devils/men/women/the sane and the crazy on earth.

The idiots, and that is a huge complement to the fundies across the world as a group, vary from mildly annoying to completely insane are programmed soldiers who “Do as they are Told” no questions asked.….. Why?…look up Obscurantism. As a whole fundies are nothing more than streakers at a football match, the only effect they are going to have on the game is to slow it down. Even if they change the rules in court it will make no difference to the game. If the game becomes unplayable the game will just go somewhere else

Their leaders on the other hand are well aware of all or some of the elements of “It is *ALL* worldview”. Ask yourself “Why did Howard A. get “One Hundred Years of Solitude”* by Marquez** banned from schools.

Unlike your friend or you Carol, Marquez knew what was going on.

* http://www.gradesaver.com/classicno[…]ullsumm.html

** http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/g[…]ography.html

Well, now that it is abundantly clear (#63429) that Daniel Morgan is a lying, cheating, low-life coward who cannot even bring himself to apologize sincerely and contritely for having wronged another human being, why would any decent ethical person here accord a modicum of credibility to his “very thorough review” or anything else he has ever or will ever write?

Ed Brayton ought promptly dissociate himself from the bum and his activities. It is the right thing to do, Ed.

right… dodge those issues again, Carol. let’s hear that creationist credo said loudly and proudly:

evade evade evade!

Daniel Morgan,

I’ll stop mentioning it now whenever I see that you comment.

Your post amounts to this:

“OK, OK, I didn’t actually read it.”

Then with great indignation, you argued that I’m such a sissy for caring, and the book hadn’t sold squat (as if that were relevant), and another reviewer is the wife of a friend, who cares about Amazon reviews,…”

You also wrote as if I am trying to deny you your opinion–but what is obvious here is that your right to an opinion is not at stake. It’s whether you lied, regardless of the number of people affected by the lie.

Regardless, I’m sure that’s the best I can hope for.

As your start your science career, I hope you treat data with more care than you do your own word. And in terms of any discussion over the integrity or truthfulness of others—well you should be a little more humble, given that you have admitted that you took someone’s else’s work and, regardless its merits, and it may indeed have none, you carried out and published a deception.

Was I wrong that it is a quasi-autobiography, Heddle? Carol? Was that a big fat lie? What was the TITLE of my review? Hmmm, let’s see…”Quasi-autobio”!! So why did I dislike your book? Did I actually have to read it to assess that correctly? Or did I hit the nail on the head? How much did the trash can matter to the crux of my review? Nada! Look, Heddle, from now on, you have a thread on my blog. Go there if you want to continue this convo. Let’s stick to the Sternberg saga here. Carol, Heddle, have a specific refutation of a specific point from either Sternberg article?

As I pointed out to Grey Wolf (#63363), the term “hypothesis” does not imply science.

Um, then why should science give a flying fig about it?

Unless, of course, what you want is for science to accept your religious opinions as “scientific evidence” … ?

Heddle? I’m still waiting . …

Sigh. Apparently saying “I don’t know, I won’t admit I don’t know, and I refuse to TRY to know because the effort would be a tacit admission that I don’t know” qualifies as a hypothesis in Carol’s mind. That’s because her mind is large, and within that vast space any word can encompass any meaning she decides is appropriate.

But in actual practice, saying “godiddit” is not an explanation at all, it’s simply a way of saying she doesn’t have any explanation and doesn’t want one. And even if we broaden the notion of “science” to the point of hoping that conjectures might somehow be related to evidence, her definition of “hypothesis” falls short.

Creationism by Carol’s definition really does NOT fit her dictionary’s “virtually any proposal, assertion or conjecture, usually proposed by an individual as an explanation of some phenomenon.” Carol doesn’t seem to recognize that “I don’t know” is not proposed as an explanation, EVEN IF it’s rephrased into the FORM of an explanation. It’s no better than “because I said so.”

Carol’s inability to distinguish between science and math, even after all these necessary lectures, also speaks volumes. Math isn’t based on measurements; her notion of measuring thousands of triangles is utterly antithetical to math, and no mathematician OR scientist would see any sense in doing such a thing. Instead, mathematicians are overrepresented among the “scientists” who are creationists because their methods are so similar. In the world of math, something becomes true for one of two reasons, and ONLY two reasons: either because they AGREE that it’s true, or because it can be logically derived from statements AGREED to be true, according to logical rules also AGREED to be applicable. In math, there are entirely consistent (and elegant and beautiful) structures and systems based on nothing any reality could ever produce. For mathematicians ths is not a problem, not even a little problem.

Science, by extreme contrast, is not permitted to ASSUME anything is true at all. Science proceeds by observation, not by definition or presumption. And so once again, Carol has confused the content with the form. The great deception of the creationists has been to take their faith, based on arbitrary axioms like math, supported solely by agreement without any observation involved, and PRESENT them as though they were observation-based. They are not. And so Carol, falling for the deceit, can pompously declare that the internal angles of triangles can be determined by observation. Nope, that’s not how it works. It’s a flagrant category error.

But it’s not an IDLE category error, it’s designed. A hypothesis is NOT an axiom. Creationists have taken their axioms, true by agreement, and reformulated them into the language and idiom of science for the express purpose of tricking people like Carol. The goal is to get people to believe that there’s some scientific basis for their faith when there is not. It’s an approach Orwell would appreciate - if language is misused carefully, more than the words are corrupted in the victim’s mind; even the CONCEPTS are lost.

Carol Wrote:

By “working hypothese” I mean something akin to “operating assumptions”, that is ideas upon which one then proceeds to base one’s actions and one’s life.

It makes no difference whether you’re talking about science or not. Crap is crap regardless of context, and basing one’s actions and life on figments of one’s own imagination is a foolish human luxury.

The word you are looking for is “rationalization”.

Hey Carol, what does Judah Landa have to say about the Dover decision?

(snicker) (giggle)

Lenny,

See my comments on another thread. Seek and you shall find.

Carol Clouser Wrote:

Seek and you shall find.

Ramen, Carol…

To Flint:

I object to many points you raised about mathematics, mathematicians, and the similarity between mathematics and creationism. I will discuss some of my objections below:

1.

measuring thousands of triangles is utterly antithetical to math”

This is similar to the assertion that mathematics is purely deductive. I believe the practice of mathematics is more similar to the practice of science than to the practice of creationism. In fact, experiments -> conjectures -> experiments -> proofs is common in the practice of mathematics.

For example, the experimental fact that Goldbach Conjecture is true up to n less than 2 * 10^17 is viewed as a positive evidence for Goldbach Conjecture. Experimental mathematics concerns exactly things like “measurements/experiments”. Of course, the measurements/experiments are usually applied to idealized objects instead of physical objects, but the spirit of scientific method is there.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experi[…]_mathematics

2.

In the world of math, something becomes true for one of two reasons, and ONLY two reasons: either because they AGREE that it’s true, or because it can be logically derived from statements AGREED to be true”

I find this sentence to be misleading because of your emphasis on the word “AGREE” without explaining how mathematicians reach agreement. Further more, you neglect to mention exactly which mathematical statements are considered true without logical derivation. In fact, if I substitute the word “math” with “science” or “physics” in your claim, it would still be true.

3.

“according to logical rules also AGREED to be applicable”

The question here is : how do/did mathematicians agree which logical rules are applicable ? If one studies the development of mathematics, I believe one would find the process to be not unlike how scientists reach their consensus. Given that scientists are using the same logic too, I would presume that scientists “agree” on the same logical rules for similar reasons.

4.

“In math, there are entirely consistent (and elegant and beautiful) structures and systems.……”

I would like to raise one minor and irrelevant point here : that no one has proved mathematics is self-consistent. In fact, by Godel’s Incomplete Theorem, such a proof doesn’t exist in most cases.

5.

“mathematicians are overrepresented among the “scientists” who are creationists”

This is not an objection… but can you provide some evidence on this claim ?

6.

“Science, by extreme contrast, is not permitted to ASSUME anything is true at all.”

hmm… again, what exactly do you think mathematicians assume to be true ? Why do they assume those things true ? How does the process differ from the way scientists assure something to be true ?

—————————-

I agree that, by definition, science deals with natural phenomena while mathematics might not. But I do not agree with your implication that scientific method is not used (or is not useful) in the practice of mathematics.

At the end, let me mention that under some form of Mathematical realism, I see strong parallel between mathematics and science.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philos[…]_mathematics

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on December 16, 2005 11:16 AM.

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