Chiquitas Update

| 33 Comments

Not long ago, as previously noted on the Thumb, Cal Thomas made noises in USA Today wondering whether “Darwinists” would show up for a debate on the merits of ID as a scientific enterprise.

That canard was rebutted by Patricia Princehouse of Case Western Reserve University and Ohio Citizens for Science, who said in a letter to USA Today:

The question is, will the designists show? Calls go out every day to present scientific data at scientific conferences. The designists are always busy that decade. Meanwhile, the scientific data supporting evolution continue to pour in on a daily basis and produce spinoff applications that create new medicine, more productive crops, cleaner water and better living for billions of people worldwide.

The Darwinists show up to work every day in thousands of labs around the globe. Mr. Thomas and Mr. Beckel, your guys are the ones who don’t show.

January. Cleveland. The “science” of ID. Put up or shut up.

In response, some of the expectable wingnuts came out of the woodwork, but finally Bill Dembski accepted the challenge to “put up or shut up”. While some of the formal details are not yet agreed on, Dembski has agreed to the time, date and venue:

Strosacker Hall on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, 7-9 pm January 3, with Ken Miller to represent the “Darwinist” position. We plan to webcast the event: details will follow as we have them. Miller will be there regardless of details.

We look forward to seeing Dembski’s affirmative evidence for the intelligent design conjecture. (I myself am hoping to see some validation data, reliability assessments, and calibration runs on Dembski’s design detection methodology, “specified complexity”. Anecdotes about political operatives and science fiction movies are a pretty thin empirical base for a putatively paradigm-changing methodology.)

RBH

33 Comments

I am all in stragtegy mode this morning :-) Please forgive my exuberant enthusiasm!

I feel like the side that speaks for science should really go on the offensive right now. Biologists should be printing copies of the 139 page ruling and sending them to local media and offering to be interviewed.

I think we should be harping loudly that we do in fact need to teach the controvery and use the Dover ruling as the texbook.

We should also come up with 10 questions for Michael Behe that address nutty things he said under oath. We might as well come up with 10 questions for theologian William Dembski and John West.

Every media pundit right now would welcome an expert on evolution and biology. We have a golden opportunity to give lessons on biology, evolution and junk-science in the public square and we should be taking advantage of it.

Let’s teach the controversy starting on page 1 (1 of 139) and let’s clear up some of the public misconceptions of evolution. We have an audience and the media is looking for sound bites and experts.

This is a golden opportunity to educate people and generate interest in legitimate science.

Anyhow.…

I’d personally prefer it if Dembski got off his ass and published rather than went for free drinks and a quick debate.

Wait, what is the date?

(This is the first time I’ve ever been HAPPY to live in Cleveland.)

We look forward to seeing Dembski’s affirmative evidence for the intelligent design conjecture.

Will you be giving Dembski his usual $200/hour consulting fees + travel expenses?

We are all looking forward to whatever measures you will be using to assure that presenters stick to affirmative evidence.

I don’t get it. How does this differ from a normal ID vs evolution “debate”? What’s to stop this degenerating into the usual Gish gallop?

Liz Tracey asked

Wait, what is the date?

Sorry. I added it. Tuesday, Jan 3.

RBH

I don’t get it. How does this differ from a normal ID vs evolution “debate”? What’s to stop this degenerating into the usual Gish gallop?

Ditto. I hope they’re careful with setting this up, or it won’t go any differently than any other event those guys pollute with their presence.

Very exciting. I’ll be there.

I thought that this sort of thing was bad. All public debates do is give ID people a podium. That’s all they ever want.

A couple of people worried:

How does this differ from a normal ID vs evolution “debate”? What’s to stop this degenerating into the usual Gish gallop?

That’s a realistic worry, but the event will be webcast and recorded (technicians willing: we’re in the process of setting that up), so if it does degenerate it will be obvious why. There will be a moderator to try to keep things on topic, and (one of the details still not agreed to by Dembski) there will be questions from the audience. In other words, there will be means of hauling it back on track should derailments occur. Recall Princehouse’s challenge to designists: “Put Up or Shut Up”. I think it will be obvious if there’s no “Put Up”. In a way it’s envisioned as a sort of research colloquium in front of an informed audience, many of whom will be knowledgeable professionals who will not be shy and retiring.

RBH

I add my concerned voice to those of John B and Ginger Yellow - how is this different from a debate? I thought it was more or less agreed that debating by voice with show-giving creationists was counter productive. So what will make this one any different?

Grey Wolf

Within minutes, the Cleveland meeting will likely turn into yet another “trash evolution to support ID” debate. There’s no other way it can unfold. There is no actual ID science to talk about.

But … why?

We just had a public debate. The IDiots got to present all the evidence they have, and a conservative Christian judge reamed them out for being breathtakingly inane. Why hand them another opportunity to show their lying faces?

Whether you’re paying Dembski $200/hr or not, someone (the DI, probably) sure as hell is. Why keep lining that dipsh*t’s coffers?

On a side note, if you do go ahead with this, are you going to have a competent and charismatic mathematician/information theorist present to point out the flaws in Dembski’s models?

A couple lessons from the Dover trial: Make sure you have that stack of “fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system” on hand in case he starts blathering about how the immune system couldn’t have evolved. Thats the sort of flourish that, unfortunately, wins a debate more than facts. And keep in mind that the IDers lie under oath, and that they won’t even be under oath at this event. So you had better anticipate their lies and have evidence ready to destroy them. This took a very good legal team 6 weeks to do. I hope you can do it in two hours.

Advertise the rules widely, loudly, frequently, and in advance:

only positive evidence FOR “intelligent design”; no side-tracking into alleged shortcomings of other theories

and equip the moderator with a loud obnoxious buzzer to be sounded any time any participant strays from that.

I think this’ll be a disaster. Come on the IDists are just going to resort to nonsense Evolution bashing/spewing out tonnes of bogus claims faster than anyone can refute them. Also you’d better not just have biologists you need a mathematician - like Jeff Shallit or something. Dembski will certainly try to pull out crap about molecular Turing machines and blah blah blah.

Good for Dembski. It’s a sign that there is a flicker of curious human still there. I’m a cynic, though, and don’t expect it to last.

Do you want a prediction? I predict he’ll realize, a week before the debate, that he doesn’t have anything new to report, and no hypothesis to explain.

He won’t show.

Remember all Dembski has to do is spout out complicated, technical, sciency sounding sentances that will impress people. They can be completely bogus and nonsensical but as long as it SOUNDS sciency people will buy it. That’s the whole premise behind the website Answers in Genesis - and the whole ID movement to boot.

CBBB wrote

Remember all Dembski has to do is spout out complicated, technical, sciency sounding sentances that will impress people. They can be completely bogus and nonsensical but as long as it SOUNDS sciency people will buy it. That’s the whole premise behind the website Answers in Genesis - and the whole ID movement to boot.

You underestimate us.

RBH

I have to say that I’m on the side of people saying this debate isn’t a good idea.

There are two proper forums for debating evolution and creationism in its many disguises.

1) peer reviewed journals 2) the courts, if they are trying to pass off their baloney as science in schools

If IDists insist on a debate, agree to it, as long as it takes place in the pages of a scientific journal. In any other forum thay can win by grandstanding and flim-flammery rather than by content, argument, and reason.

CBBB Wrote:

Remember all Dembski has to do is spout out complicated, technical, sciency sounding sentances that will impress people. They can be completely bogus and nonsensical but as long as it SOUNDS sciency people will buy it.

Ah, but we’ll be able to take it apart here afterwards. As long as the moderator keeps the debate on track, we’ll either get a lot of blather that will might could if we’re really lucky show us what direction ID is going to try and move in. To be honest, I doubt that that many people will actually follow the debate: it’s main uses will be how it’s spun afterwards.

I wonder who the moderator will be. Would anyone nearer the action like to start a rumour that it’s Judge Jones?

Bob

We also need to be careful that the IDC folks don’t pull their usual bullsh*t tricks (like suddenly changing the debating rules at the last second but not telling the ‘Darwinists’), or busing in a bunch of Southern Baptists to cheer Dembski and boo the scientist.

I’m willing to bet any moderator empowered to keep the debate limited to what is supposed to be getting debated, will be regarded (and rightly so) by Dembski as implacably hostile. A very loud “off-topic buzzer” is both a requirement, and an insuperable obstacle, to this event because the contestants are deliberately talking past one another; one addresses a classroom, the other a congregation.

I’d personally prefer it if Dembski got off his ass and published rather than went for free drinks and a quick debate.

He does publish. Although it’s books rather than peer reviewed scientific papers.… ;-)

Miquelito Wrote:

Within minutes, the Cleveland meeting will likely turn into yet another “trash evolution to support ID” debate. There’s no other way it can unfold.

Actually, there IS a way to avoid this.

Instead of just shooting down their bogus arguments one after another, force them to make concrete claims. Ask what parts of evolution are they actually criticizing. Eg. do they accept the fact that we share a common ancestor with chimps and how & when did our biosphere form.

After the cat&mice part, there will be 2 possible outcomes:

1. They give some utterly stupid statements that are easily falsified (eg. special creation of man) 2. They accept all the proven facts, but end up revealing the true god-of-gaps nature of ID and simultaneously lose support from the fundies.

I’ve found this strategy to be effective as hell. The IDiots are really unwilling to shift the conversation from ignorance to the overwhelming positive evidence supporting evolution, so expect a LOT of dodging.

I suggest that we use the Dembski Official Oratory Machine (DOOM Machine)in Cleveland. Since Dembski put Darwin’s head in a vise on his website, I propose that we put Dembski’s head in a vise in Cleveland. Turn 1/2 turn for each half truth… Repeat as needed. 1 Full turn for each outright whopper. 2 full turns for each mention of flagellum or irreducible complexity. Repeat as needed. [edit]

I removed an irrelevant off-color remark. I’ll moderate this thread somewhat more stringently than I moderate at Infidels. RBH

How this “debate” should go:

Read the entire Dover decision. All of it. Word for word.

Then let the IDers blither about their “science” all they want.

After each ID assertion, ask them point blank “Why didn’t you present that devestating scientific evidence to the Judge?”

“Oh, wait, you DID … and he thought it was a dishonest lying pile of crap.”

End of debate.

Am I the only one who thinks that getting James Randi involved (as an advisor or something) might not be a bad idea? I mean, the guy certainly knows how to counter the vacuous showmanship of the quacks. And in regard to the debate itself, the evolutionist wouldn’t really need to counter the ID anti-evolutionary “arguments” per se, all he’d need to do is put all the books, and peer-reviewed articles that thrash those arguments in a single stack and show them to the audience. I bet the stack will reach all the way to the ceiling. Any time Dembsky tries to get out of line, the evolutionist would only need to casually point to the stack of books and say: “don’t go there, buddy, just don’t go there…”

one off debate bad always. even if it’s effective, nobody knows about it. you need a regular discussion, where people evolve a sense of what rules make sense, what issues are pertinent, and what the other guy tends to say. imagine a show which opens each week with “well, bill, have you decided on a coherent theory of ID yet?”. it’s a fixed entity instead of a scintilla, and people would gradually get to find out that this is where the important debate is happening (assuming creationists never engage in the usual scientific dialogs) and that one side is way more in command than the other. and because they committed to the process, the losers are hung out to dry, looking like losers until they make sensible concessions or give up.

Am I the only one who thinks that getting James Randi involved (as an advisor or something) might not be a bad idea? I mean, the guy certainly knows how to counter the vacuous showmanship of the quacks.

They would point out that Randi is an atheist, and all the Fundagelicals in the audience would stop up the ears of their children to protect them from this evil influence.

Invite Judge Jones to moderate.

Bayesian Bouffant Wrote:

They would point out that Randi is an atheist, and all the Fundagelicals in the audience would stop up the ears of their children to protect them from this evil influence.

Do you presume they’d react any differently if the Pope came and argued for “evilusion”? Their problem is with the argument, not the arguer. They automatically assume anyone supporting evolution is an evil atheist trying to destroy their religion even if the guy comes in a pope-mobile and has Pat Robertson tattooed on his forehead. Remember, these people don’t really care about facts.

The only ones who have a chance of changing their minds are the kind who wouldn’t mind listening to someone like James Randi.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on December 22, 2005 11:40 AM.

Boy, they *really* don’t get it was the previous entry in this blog.

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