Report on the U. Kentucky Law ID lectures

| 54 Comments

The University of Kentucky held its debate on ID, and Colin Wier, a law student there, has written a report on it from his notes. I have taken the liberty of correcting typos (he wrote this during the presentations) and posting it below the fold. Many thanks to Colin for this hard work.

[Oops, did I say Kansas? Sorry, this isn’t Kansas any more…]

[Note: everything below this is Colin’s report]

These are the rough notes I have from the presentation which focused on looking at the Intelligent Design theory/movement from a philosophical standpoint, and the standpoint of the law. It occurred on Feb. 27 at 4:00 at the UK Court of Law Courtroom. This debate was not about the head to head comparison of ID and Evolution. That is best the realm of other debates, mostly with real scientists. This symposium was instead about the philosophical comparisons of the movements, followed by the application of precedent in the Federal Courts. I should go ahead to make the disclaimer that I was typing fast, so please forgive any typos I’ve missed and the lack of sentence structure in some notes. Dr. Look and Prof. Salamaca both used “Darwinists” and “Evolutionists” interchangably. First up was Dr. Look - Prof. of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Look’s Presentation:

Dr. Look specializes in the Philosophy of Science, and his slide presentation was entitled “Creationism and ID Theory: Bad Science, Bad Philosophy, Bad Religion.” If you would like a copy, you can e-mail him one at [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. I suggest you do, as I wasn’t able to take down all the quotations and also missed a number of points. He first talked about the difference of Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism. YEC - basically evangelical. OEC - God guides the hand through the evolution of organisms, but they believe Earth is the date commonly described in today’s society. He noted that Creationists themselves aren’t of one mind, a like criticism for Evolutionists when the ID proponents claim that they have no unity.

Dr. Look pointed out a definition of ID Theory - “…Asserts the complexity and order observable in the world can best (or only) be explained by the existence of a mind or intelligence. That is, the theory denies that the phenomena can best be explained naturaliscally and physicalistically.” His next slide was entitled “YEC = Yuck!” which got a few laughs. YEC - questioned how it can survive in scientific norms, like how the kangaroos hopped to the continent of Australia from Pangea in 6k years. If you want to adhere to YEC you have to chuck a whole lot of things out, such as chemistry and physics that comport with it. Touched on problems of YEC, went to history of ID and “Darwinism.” He then said that ID should not be taught b/c it’s manifestly inferior to the Theory of Evolution, not b/c it’s religion masquerading as science.

Here are where the quotations came quick and fast, and I wasn’t able to write them all down. First, Dr. Look had a quoatation by Aquinas from “Summa Theologica” - “The Five Ways,” which are the five ways to know the existence of God. Sums up that there is order, that order must comes from God.

He then quoted Hume from “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.” Dr. Look recounts how he was known as “Great Infidel” for his publications in Scotland. Great quote, don’t have time to put it down. Hume is having a conversation with two of his characters, one of which makes the argument for some sort of intelligent design. Hume’s other character then raises a host of criticisms of the theory in the book. “We have no experience with the creation of worlds, therefore we are not justified in making the inference that the ID theorist wishes us to make.” “Since we observe imperfections in nature, we have no reason to beleieve that the cause of the world is perfect.” Then, there are some very funny quotations from Hume. “Perhaps the world is ‘only one first rude essay of some infant Deity, who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance.’” Anyway, a little off point, but some interesting points that show the history is long when it comes to the beginning of ID. At this point, Dr. Look talks about the various Gods that have been attributed to ID, including a Benevolent God, a Trickster God, a Mischevious God, an Imperfect God, and a Perfect God.

Look makes the point that we have just as much reason to assume that God is, or the gods are, imperfect, finite, dead, ignorant, mean-spirited, so on and so forth.

Now we’re looking at “Darwinism” and the words of Chuck himself. Dr. Look makes the argument that Darwin’s theory is much more probable than evolution. Uses excellent logic, not repeated here. See slides. Some birds only have one ovary that works, makes the good point a female couldn’t fly if she had two working ovaries, and that’s an excellent point that flying birds evolved this feat while flightless birds didn’t. I would like someone to look that one up. He then points out the Imperfect God and Trickster God theories, which would still be inferior to Evolution, and therefore shouldn’t be thought.

Dr. Look now summarizes the various strands of arguments against Evolution. Strands of Anti-Evolutionists

    Negative - Criticism of Darwinian Theory, Criticism of Methodological Naturalism.

    Postive - ID (Behe and Dembski)

No time was spent on discussing the Negative Arguments, Dr. Look concentrated on Behe and Dembski. Quotes Behe, “Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference.” Points out the mousetrap analogy.

A Humean Answer - If we take the analogy seriously, we have the same problem that Hume pointed to with respect to the principle of Analogy:

    Who’s the designer?

    What’s the designer like? Good? Evil? Indifferent?

    When does the designer choose to design things? All the time? Sometimes?

Then, Rebuttal. Points out the anscestral systems that may have been for different purposes. Uses the argument that we have ancestral functions that are different yet useful, that further evolve to what we know as the flagellum. This is just repeating the argument that what we now know as the flagellum may have started out as something else entirely, and refutes the mousetrap analogy.

Now, Dr. Look goes to Dembski. Points out his “Explanatory Filter” that relies on three possiblities for a natural phenomenon: Regularity (or Law), Chance, and Design. In the end, from Dembski’s definitions of each, Dr. Look points out the Design inference is, in a sense, the default position. Dembski keeps the bars of Regularity and Chance so high, that the only possible explanation to get out of his writings is that there’s always some sort of Design. How do we know what probabilities to assign to events anyhow? Why assume that something that’s very improbable is the result of design rather than chance?

Conclusion - Hume had good responses, even back in the day with his arguing characters. Doesn’t really tie ID to OEC, but shows how they are related, at the very least.

Prof. Salamaca - Prof. of Law:

Prof. Salamaca looks at the issue in the result of the First Amendment. Focuses on the Legal aspect, and also the Sociology and Psychology aspect, to which he said he doesn’t have too much training.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has become less rigid in the approach to Establishment of Religion over the last 25 years, but it’s remained consistent in its attitude towards inclusion of religious text/iconography in public schools. For 44 years, they’ve forbidden many things, such as daily Bible readings, placement of 10 commandments, moments of silence for prayer, and non-secular prayers at graduations. However, they’ve not forbidden reference to religion in public schools, so it’s okay to talk about it in context.

There was a case citation here, Abington (I think), where SCOTUS said you need to study religious history for your understanding of civilization. The Bible can then be used as an interesting guide.

Now Prof. Salamaca discusses the Lemon test. See Kitzmiller v. Dover for a more thorough explanation of the mechanisms of that test. Basically, it’s a three-prong test, where Prof. Salamaca just looked at the first prong: the law must lack a secular purpose. Really, it’s very hard to not find a secular purpose. Notice the “a” secular purpose. Courts are therefore often sensitve to “toxic backstory,” or a prequel to an apparently neutral policy under review that suggest the Gov’t or district in question earlier attempted an overt promotion of religion, but was unable to do so on Constitutional grounds. He then cites ACLU v. McCreary county, from Ky. A religious purpose will make the law void, even if the policy is not religious on its face.

In ‘68, there was Epperson v. Arkansas. This forbade teaching Evolution, and was struck down. Same for a statute in Louisiana that required teaching Genesis alongside Evolution. Notes the argument will be made that attempts to forbid Darwin’s theory, and require ID alongside that theory, will form a backstory for attempts to require the teaching of ID. So, ID will use the previous failures to shoehorn in.

Notes ID is not connected with any particular religious view. However, it will be asserted the sequence of ID from OEC to now, and it will be toxic. For reasoning on this issue, again see Kitzmiller v. Dover. He believes it can be discussed in public if it located it in the curriculum with great care, likely law and philosophy, not biology or chemistry. Prof. Salamaca makes the argument that in HS or Middle School it might be forbidden alltogether.

Prof. Salamaca caveats that he’s not a scientist, but if one apprehended a phenomenon of significant complexity that was not suspected, he’d have an adversion to chalk it up to some supernatural means, by reasons of training. He’d then, arguably, have an argument for faith in science that a creationist would in Genesis. He doesn’t find fault with that, just notes it.

Prof. Salamaca then goes to sociological/psychological needs of those that rely on Genesis. He notes that people can think and believe what they want, but is willing to say that it’s hard to promote a literal teaching of Genesis with evolution. The theology of God gives rise to problems, such as Evil. Why would a benevolent omnicient God give rise to Nazis? The other theology of a limited power, limited knowledge, and limited benevolence God presents problems to the believer. We can’t make the assumption that we should forgo the benevolent God argument, b/c people need it. However, those that reject that view are the exception, not the rule. Really, I’m confused as to this point, but I believe that what he’s trying to say is some people need religion, and we should be respectful of those persons. Note: See personal question at the end.

Now, Prof. Salamaca notes that God-less religions are often adopted by the intellectual elite. Quotes some Prof. Stark, who’s appealing to the notion that human beings are limited, and may have a weakness for a perception of a God that’s benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent that gives rise to the adherence of faith in the face of irrefutable facts.

Prof. Salamaca makes the general note that vouchers have been upheld. Programs with rich options (both sectarian and non-sectarian) would likely survive review.

Prof. Salamaca realizes that Prof. Look has great points, but takes the position that there’s a psychological, or personal compenent, to religion, and people should be permitted to adhere to that view if that’s their preference, and the political and legal system should do their utmost to facilitate that.

Questions:

Voucher system - What are the limitations? Can schools teach evolution and critiques the same amount? Prof. Salamaca says that things are limited state to state, and there are exit requirements. That addresses what’s being raised. As long as a sectarian school teaches what’s required by the state at a minimum, they can teach whatever else they want that might not run afoul of the Establishment Clause even though they’re using some public dollars.

Now there is an question asking what the argument is against teaching ID as component of world religion class. It’s fine, says Prof. Salamaca. You can have course on various accounts of the universe and talk of Genesis. Prof. Look says he’s happy if all high schools have philosophy courses. This elicits a number of chuckles from the audience.

At this point, someone gets on a soapbox, and makes a religious reponse to Hume - i.e. creator could be evil… can’t religious people say they have a good God, and yet there’s a designer, then combine the two, saying the Designer is evil, but not the good God? Prof. Look says they can, that’s fine. The problem is that ID leaves problems for the theist, and the argument for design shouldn’t be taken as belief in a benevolent God. For devout theists, there are different central beliefs that may be justified in a different way than the agnostic web of belief that science builds.

Comment, that it’s disingenuous to say that God is a micromanager. Second, it looks like scientists have come to the reluctant conclusion that irreduceable complexity may be a scientific fact, but then those scientists (not connected with the ID movement) are pounced on by the “Darwinists.” Prof. Look says he’s sympathetic to scientists who are blackballed as ID theorists and still want to point to science, in that if you don’t buy the whole thing you won’t get published. That’s a bad thing. However, in terms of philosophical issues, when you say “many” have come to the conclusion that there’s irreduceable complexity, Dr. Look stresses that what’s said is they can’t explain NOW the origins of the functionality of that system. Behe takes that claim, then says it’s impossible and couldn’t be explained in principle. Science says we don’t know NOW, but we might know in the future. Science revises as it goes, not comes to conclusion the second it sees something new and challenging.

Question of why does ID only address evolution? Couldn’t that be used as toxic history? Prof. Salamaca says that toxic backstory is a play in many acts, and you have to make sure the motivation in the first act was to get religion in the classroom. They can try to get their religious beliefs in through a number of ways, but using the lens of the first try we can see a religious intent. Why isolate this issue for focus and showing an alternative to Darwin? Why require a single alternative, as opposed to a third or fourth? It looks like circumstantial evidence that the Government’s real desire is to promote religion. Potentially, they could say that they mandate the teaching of alternate theories for cosmology (neutral subject). It might yet be the case that ID is vulnerable now for the circumstantial evidence of a single focus.

Here, a commentor notes that McCreary Co. (a 10 Commandments in the courtroom case) is going to have a hard time erasing the past. Prof. Salamaca says it’d be hard to make the argument that McCreary county is putting up the 10 Commandments for a secular purpose now. He notes they’d have to have completely new Gov’t saying they don’t want to put up the 10 Commandments, then they all have sudden changes of heart, and want to talk of ancient sources of right and wrong. Not very likely. Now, ID may be a different story in McCreary, b/c the toxic backstory may not be transferrable to that issue like it is to the display of the 10 Commandments.

Note: When it comes to toxic backstory, judges aren’t stupid. They look at the entire history of the Gov’t in the action as well as the view from the reasonably prudent person. At times, this may be the reasonably prudent student, as it was in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

A question is asked about how are we not cordoning off Evolution by not letting people talk about the critiques? The questioner then points out there is little consensus about how life began, and how there are no strong hypotheses. Questioner further points out there’s a huge gap to having said we have a completely naturalistic account, yet the way biology is taught leaves that impression. Questioner then hypothesizes that this is what concerns the ID people, and what they’re trying to eliminate. Questioner further hypothesizes that for those who teach ID, it’s more important to relieve that strong impression that naturalism has been confirmed. Prof. Salamaca agrees, but he seems to think that there is a happy medium to this whole issue, although we’ve not yet found it. Prof. Salamaca says that if people want to think that leaves are two colors b/c God painted them, let them go to a school that teaches it, so long as they function in society. Prof. Look counters with do we want the Big Bang and Creationism in the physics class? Prof. Look says in high school and lower grades we’re trying to teach the best “theory,” and none is really complete. Notes that Newtonian physics don’t work at the quantum level, and he wasn’t taught that in high school, but that doesn’t mean that Newtonian Physics or Quantum Physics are wrong. Prof. Look agrees, let people learn whatever they want, but not on his money.

Commentator notes that ID is only concerned with Evolution, quotes “Icons of Evolution,” which is used to show things that have been disproven in the biological conclusion that are still in there. Says bad biology education has real world results, and that’s driving those who want to include critcisms of evolution. Prof. Look says that if it were possible to bracket personal beliefs it seems that there’s still a pedagogical issue of how to bring students to think like biologists, physicists, lawyers, etc. You’re taught to think in a certain way, and that’s how we approach high school and lower sciences.

This commentator was corrected by a few biologists in the room for a statement about a subject that went way over my head, and to which I had no knowledge.

There will be a presentation April 7 - A History from Scopes to Dover, Fri, 5:00, at the UK College of Law Courtroom.

After the presentation, I had a chance to ask some questions. Prof. Look answered a question I had about a difference from this era and others. I noticed that things seemed to change in the views of the populace about science after the bomb was developed…first we accepted science, then we seemed to have rejected it. He said that current ID proponents may have beef with science b/c they’ve seen the evil it can do (nuclear holocaust, biological warfare, stem-cell research) and the things it can prove (global warming) that dispute their worldview, or just plain scare them.

Then, Dr. Look pointed out an author, whose name was Alvin Plantinga. He pointed out three books as good reads on the subject of the differences between the beliefs of science and religion: God, Freedom, and Evil, Warranted Christian Belief, and Warrant: The Current Debate.

I then asked Prof. Salamaca a question that cleared up a lot of his thinking for me. I asked him, “Do you believe that Gov’t is established to allow the rule of the majority, or protect the beliefs of the minority?” He thought very seriously and answered that he believed it was there to protect the beliefs of the minority. Prof. Salamaca is trying to thread the fine line between Freedom FROM Religion and Freedom OF Religion, but I believe he is approaching this from a viewpoint of all schools, and not just public ones.

The crowd was very attentive and had excellent questions, but it seems the philosophy majors spoke a lot more than the law students. We are, after all, a very jaded group. In the end, I recommend reading the opinion in Kitzmiller. It’s almost treatise-like in it’s application of both the Lemon test and the Endorsement test, the two current tests for the Establishment Clause.

54 Comments

Minor point of abbreviation: we Jayhawks know that the institution in Lawrence is designated “KU,” to distinguish it from the home of the Wildcats somewhat to the Southeast, in Lexington, Kentucky, which laid prior claim to “UK.”

Their dispute with the United Kingdom has yet to be resolved, and Kansans, frankly, are glad to be spared THAT hassle, at least.

Well good, because you Jayhawks have a lot of other problems to worry about.

6th paragraph after heading “Dr. Look’s Presentation,” it says this:

“Dr. Look makes the argument that Darwin’s theory is much more probable than evolution.”

Is that correct?

No. I did not say that Darwinism is more probable than evolution. I said what you might imagine: the theory of evolution is more probable than creationism/ID.

Sorry, Dr. Look. I was writing a little fast and furious, and what Dr. Look has said is correct, see the above response.

Did Dembski attend?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

However, in terms of philosophical issues, when you say “many” have come to the conclusion that there’s irreduceable complexity, Dr. Look stresses that what’s said is they can’t explain NOW the origins of the functionality of that system. Behe takes that claim, then says it’s impossible and couldn’t be explained in principle. Science says we don’t know NOW, but we might know in the future. Science revises as it goes, not comes to conclusion the second it sees something new and challenging.

I don’t think many biologists would argue with irreducible complexity if it were presented to laymen as Dr. Look presents it. However, since it is typically presented as a negative assertion agaist evolution (as Behe presents it), most biologists have a problem with irreducible complexity. The goal of science is to expand our knowledge and understanding of the universe. Dr. Look’s take on irreducible complexity seems to be that IC is a challenge to be better researched, explained and understood, where as Behe’s definition becomes a dead end where research, explanation and knowledge stop.

Please correct me if I misunderstood your view Dr. Look.

Anyway, a little off point, but some interesting points that show the history is long when it comes to the beginning of ID

It goes back at least as far as Anaxagoras.

Postive - ID (Behe and Dembski)

I would object to the characterization of Behe and Dembski’s arguments as positive. Neither one has presented evidence for any “design event”, they only make claims about how improbable the naturalistic evolutionary explanations are, with the (false) assumption that the supernatural explanation will then win by default.

Comment, that it’s disingenuous to say that God is a micromanager. Second, it looks like scientists have come to the reluctant conclusion that irreduceable complexity may be a scientific fact, but then those scientists (not connected with the ID movement) are pounced on by the “Darwinists.”

?? “Irreducible complexity” (IC) is a clever name for a natural thing - coadapted ‘parts’. See talkdesign.org. The argument (adapted from SciCre) that what is now labeled IC can not evolve is humbug, or a scam.

Prof. Look says he’s sympathetic to scientists who are blackballed as ID theorists and still want to point to science, in that if you don’t buy the whole thing you won’t get published.

?? Who? Where are their unpublished papers? Or could this be fantasy?

Kentucky.… isn’t that the state that ratified the 14th ammendment in 1976?

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on March 2, 2006 02:12 PM (e)

?? “Irreducible complexity” (IC) is a clever name for a natural thing - coadapted ‘parts’. See talkdesign.org. The argument (adapted from SciCre) that what is now labeled IC can not evolve is humbug, or a scam.

I agree that irreducible complexity is ambiguous and should not be used in biology texts primarily due to its “toxic history”. Co-adapted parts is much more descriptive in the context of common descent. It does seem that the only “scientists” using IC are ones that work for the Disco institute. It is obvious to most people with a background in the biological sciences that even systems described in ID as irreducibly complex are just coadapted parts for which the scientific community has not figured out the complete evolutionary history.

John S. Wilkins posted Entry 2086 on March 2, 2006 12:22 AM

From report of Colin Wier –

Prof. Salamaca - Prof. of Law: Prof. Salamaca looks at the issue in the result of the First Amendment —

Courts are therefore often sensitve to “toxic backstory,” or a prequel to an apparently neutral policy under review that suggest the Gov’t or district in question earlier attempted an overt promotion of religion, but was unable to do so on Constitutional grounds. He then cites ACLU v. McCreary county, from Ky. A religious purpose will make the law void, even if the policy is not religious on its face.

In the context of ACLU v. McCreary County, Prof. Salamaca’s term “toxic backstory” refers only to the history of a policy of a particular government body consisting of particular members, and not to the complete history of the alleged religious item in question. In contrast, in the Dover and Cobb County (evolution-disclaimer textbook sticker) cases, the courts searched for “toxic backstories” by studying the entire histories of ID, irreducible complexity, and general criticism of evolution.

The syllabus of the ACLU v. McCreary County decision says – “The Counties’ argument that purpose in a case like this should be inferred only from the latest in a series of governmental actions, however close they may all be in time and subject, bucks common sense.” – from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/ht[…]1693.ZS.html

Traditionally, establishment-clause cases have involved only things with direct religious connections, e.g., school prayer, Ten Commandments displays, and nativity scenes. However, in the Dover and Cobb County decisions, the courts ruled that things that on their faces have nothing to do with religion – irreducible complexity and evolution-disclaimer textbook stickers – may nevertheless be viewed as government “endorsements” of religion. The Dover and Cobb County decisions essentially ruled that something may be considered religious just because some people accept it because of religious reasons (but interestingly do not apply this standard to Darwinism, which is also accepted by some people because of religious reasons). The breadth of such a presumption of guilt by association is probably unparalleled in the annals of American jurisprudence.

Some people say that they associate those things – irreducible complexity and the textbook stickers – with religion, but that association has nothing to do with what is inherent in those things themselves. Indeed, one of the reasons why some people insist that there is such an association is so the constitutional church-state separation principle can be used to attack those things. However, in determining whether there appears to be a government endorsement of religion, the courts are supposed to use the viewpoint of an objective observer rather than the viewpoint of a biased person.

Here’s an official challenge I will lay down to the PTers:

Nobody respond to Larrandy. It’s what he wants.

Also:

It is obvious to most people with a background in the biological sciences that even systems described in ID as irreducibly complex are just coadapted parts for which the scientific community has not figured out the complete evolutionary history.

Agreed - the fact that we don’t know something yet is not evidence of design. It’s just evidence that we need to supply more coffee to biologists to extend their work hours.

That won’t work, AD. Larry represents the tragedy of the commons. There is no immediate, personal cost when a person responds to Larry, and posting a comment gives a person a little ego boost or whatever motivates them to talk to idiots. The long-term cost of nearly all threads becoming wastelands of Larry/Andy and Carol are shared by all of us. No matter how many people exhort against troll feeding, the situation won’t change until there is a more immediate, individual cost to troll feeders.

Hmmm. Long term Value? LTV? What is the point of this blog if not to point out why science is not the enemy? Lurkers can tell that larry is a crank. If you don’t want to respond, then don’t. If you do, then do. What the heck is the difference either way?

Steve, I agree. Perhaps that’s why the management doesn’t do anything - thry’re making this an exercise in discipline.

Comment #83277

Posted by Dude on March 2, 2006 02:19 PM (e)

Kentucky.… isn’t that the state that ratified the 14th ammendment in 1976?

wouldn’t surprise me. Most of my relatives are from Kentucky, and they believe in conspiracy theories so stupid and implausible, it makes ID look like Nobel quality science.

For instance, fluoride conspiracies: http://www.apfn.org/THEWINDS/archiv[…]de01-98.html

Adhering to the advice of my fellow commentators, exercising considerable self-restraint, and depriving myself of the immediate ego-boost that I would otherwise have received, I’m completely not going to say:

“Shut up, Larry.”

Ah, that wasn’t so hard after all.

Discipline just won’t work against a tragedy of the commons situation. There has to be a structural change. I think the contributors just don’t care much what happens in the comments. I don’t think people who cared would allow the Andy/Larry situation to continue.

I find Andy/Larry funny. Going to deprive me of a laugh?

KY Governor Ernie Fletcher recently appointed 6 new members and re-appointed one member to the KY Board of Education. There are a total of 12 members on the board, and Fletcher had previously appointed 4 others. One of the newly appointed members is a pastor. Does Dr. Look or anyone else have any idea whether or not this new board is likely to promote ID in KY public schools (recently endorsed in Fletcher’s 2006 state of the commonwealth)?

Who is Larry/Andy? What is the problem here?

By all means let us prevent a Tragedy of the Commons (although I suspect you are talking about a parasitic invader, or freerider), but I don’t know who or what you’re talking about.

Posted by Steve S

For instance, fluoride conspiracies:

G.V. Black would certainly be rolling in his grave. I am a dentist in a nested metro area with an eclectic array of water sources; some are fluoridated and some are not. I can almost always tell where in my city someone lives by the amount of decay in their mouth. I know this is simply anecdotal evidence that fluoride prevents tooth decay, however, there are many published articles on the subject. I’m not suggesting anyone here is fooled by the fluoride conspiracies, but they are quite laughable.

IIRC, that’s more or less how flouride’s effects were discovered. A dentist in Texas who had patients from different cities.

Debating LarrAndy is much like self imposing the punishment of Sisyphus. You can literally debate him for eternity and get nowhere. I suppose that this will always be the case with LarrAndy due to his apparent aversion to logic, reason, honesty and fair play.

Ed Hensley,

Did Fletcher actually appoint those school board members or is he in the process? I thought we wouldn’t know who was appointed until the beginning of April?

Whoops. Nevermind. Google is a useful tool. I found the new appointees, and I’m curious to find out more about them myself.

steve s, Re “No matter how many people exhort against troll feeding, the situation won’t change until there is a more immediate, individual cost to troll feeders.”

And wind up punishing a newcomer who doesn’t know the history of posts here, and decides to try to answer one of the trolls?

I’d call that a bad idea.

Henry

So would I, nobody suggested punishing newbies. Don’t attack strawmen.

Comment #83359

Posted by steve s on March 2, 2006 06:42 PM (e) …I think the contributors just don’t care much what happens in the comments. I don’t think people who cared would allow the Andy/Larry situation to continue.

Comment #83372

Posted by John Wilkins on March 2, 2006 07:14 PM (e)

Who is Larry/Andy?

Comment #83418

Posted by steve s on March 2, 2006 09:36 PM (e)

QED

That doesn’t help me Steve.

If there’s abuse, let me know as the guy who posted this article and I’ll do what I think is right. But I have never come up against this troll you mention, and I can’t seem to see any abuse of the commenting in this thread, so please enlighten me.

I can’t know everything that happens on Panda’s Thumb, as I don’t read all the comments, and there is no Central Scrutinizer.

John,

Larry Fafarman / Andy H. / About 8 other names that people could reference for you are all the same person. There’s 2 problems with him:

1) He continually makes the same (already highly falsified) factual claims in virtually every thread. This is annoying, but hardly against policy.

2) He uses multiple aliases to hide his identity and/or support his own arguments in a thread to create a false consensus. I believe this is against P.T. board policy.

That’s why people get so annoyed with Larrandy. Some others could provide much more accurate and direct info if you ask and/or they see this.

Looks like it’s up to regular commenters to feed the trolls or not.

steve s,

Re “No matter how many people exhort against troll feeding, the situation won’t change until there is a more immediate, individual cost to troll feeders.” Re (me) “And wind up punishing a newcomer who doesn’t know the history of posts here, and decides to try to answer one of the trolls?” Re “So would I, nobody suggested punishing newbies. Don’t attack strawmen.”

The problem there would be distinguishing habitual troll feeders from a newcomer who doesn’t know it’s a troll (or perhaps one who feeds them only occasionally rather than all the time?). That’s not a strawman, that’s a concern about how one would distinguish them, if one is to exclude newcomers from such a rule. (I’m assuming at this point that “troll feeders” was intended to mean those who do it habitually.)

Henry

Reading about your troll Larry Fafarman jogged my memory on AOL. The AOL Larry profile claims he resides in Los Angeles and list himself as a retired mechanical engineer - is this the same person? The AOL Larry Fafarman on the AOL message boards writes about holocaust denial, civil war symbols, and attacks the science of evolution in which are offensive or way out of line in the absurdity of a lost fog. This individual seems to enjoy the spotlight whether they be positive or negative reactions that follows his posting.

Comment #83433

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on March 2, 2006 11:01 PM (e)

Looks like it’s up to regular commenters to feed the trolls or not.

Looks like it’s up to the regular shepherds to overgraze the commons or not.

Comment #83419

Posted by John Wilkins on March 2, 2006 09:44 PM (e)

That doesn’t help me Steve.

If there’s abuse, let me know as the guy who posted this article and I’ll do what I think is right. But I have never come up against this troll you mention, and I can’t seem to see any abuse of the commenting in this thread, so please enlighten me.

I haven’t noticed you allowing your threads to become wastelands where the same off-topic argument is repeated for the 100th time cough*carolclouser*cough. But some contributors allow this. I’m so sick and tired of seeing the names Andy and Carol that I’ve been hanging out over at AtBC instead.

Comment #83434

Posted by Henry J on March 2, 2006 11:01 PM (e)

The problem there would be distinguishing habitual troll feeders from a newcomer who doesn’t know it’s a troll (or perhaps one who feeds them only occasionally rather than all the time?). That’s not a strawman, that’s a concern about how one would distinguish them, if one is to exclude newcomers from such a rule. (I’m assuming at this point that “troll feeders” was intended to mean those who do it habitually.)

Henry

And that distinction’s not hard to make, Henry. Look at how Slashdot does it. It’s very effective, takes the burden off the administrators, and works without deleting (‘censoring’, in trollspeak) any comments. Anybody who wants to see offtopic garbage can set their preferences to do so. Everybody doesn’t have to pick through 700 variants of the phrase “If you’d only use Landa’s translation, you’d see that Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians is compatible with the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics…” to find the valuable comments.

And slashcode is free. I could see, though, that it might just be too time-intensive to set up a better system. Unlike William Dembski, DaveScot, Casey Luskin, Rob Crowther, and the like, the contributors here often have beyond-full-time jobs doing biology research and such.

I appreciate what the PTers do, I just think a different structure would work better. And hey, if free advice from internet commenters isn’t extremely valuable, then what is?

All of us have full-time jobs. But in any case I am taking advice from the rest of the blog contributors about this.

If anyone has addresses, nyms and names to identify this particular troll, and examples (thread titles will do), please send them to me via email.

Uh-oh…

Um, La-a-a-a-a-rry! Looks like you gots some ‘splainin’ to do!

W. Wilson Wrote:

Did Fletcher actually appoint those school board members or is he in the process? I thought we wouldn’t know who was appointed until the beginning of April?

Yes. There names were published in the Louisville Courier-Journal on Feb 24th. All those exiting the board are Democrats. All 6 new members are Republicans, including one pastor of a Lexington church. Here is a link to the Feb 24th Courier-Journal article. Fletcher names 7 to school board

I can’t stand it.

http://www.humaneventsonline.com/bl[…]php?id=12609

Milton Mayer, who wrote about the Nazi takeover of Germany from the point of view of the average citizen (They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1938-45, University of Chicago Press, 1955)

What no one seemed to notice … was the ever widening gap … between the government and the people.

The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. … It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway … and kept us so busy with continuous changes and “crises” and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the “national enemies,” without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. …

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that … one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. … You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. …

But the one great shocking occasion … never comes. … That’s the difficulty.

And that’s why we all sit around talking taking little steps, waiting for an action by these sob’s, so we can stop them. RRRRRRRRRGGG.

It’s ironic that the regulars have managed to noisy the thread all by themselves. My suggestion would be to take the discussion of troll-feeding onto its own thread rather than conduct the conversation here.

If the moderators really cared, they would impose a cost on steve s for starting a stupid OT debate about whether a cost should be imposed on troll feeders.

Back on topic:

Many, if not most, of these presentations (as well as the PT comments on them) could be improved simply standing behind the podium and reading Judge Jones’ ruling. e.g.,

Professor Behe admitted in “Reply to My Critics” that there was a defect in his view of irreducible complexity because, while it purports to be a challenge to natural selection, it does not actually address “the task facing natural selection.” (P-718 at 695). Professor Behe specifically explained that “[t]he current definition puts the focus on removing a part from an already functioning system,” but “[t]he difficult task facing Darwinian evolution, however, would not be to remove parts from sophisticated pre-existing systems; it would be to bring together components to make a new system in the first place.” Id. In that article, Professor Behe wrote that he hoped to “repair this defect in future work;” however, he has failed to do so even four years after elucidating his defect. Id.; 22:61-65 (Behe). In addition to Professor Behe’s admitted failure to properly address the very phenomenon that irreducible complexity purports to place at issue, natural selection, Drs. Miller and Padian testified that Professor Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity depends on ignoring ways in which evolution is known to occur. Although Professor Behe is adamant in his definition of irreducible complexity when he says a precursor “missing a part is by definition nonfunctional,” what he obviously means is that it will not function in the same way the system functions when all the parts are present. For example in the case of the bacterial flagellum, removal of a part may prevent it from acting as a rotary motor. However, Professor Behe excludes, by definition, the possibility that a precursor to the bacterial flagellum functioned not as a rotary motor, but in some other way, for example as a secretory system. (19:88-95 (Behe)). As expert testimony revealed, the qualification on what is meant by “irreducible complexity” renders it meaningless as a criticism of evolution. (3:40 (Miller)). In fact, the theory of evolution proffers exaptation as a well-recognized, well-documented explanation for how systems with multiple parts could have evolved through natural means. Exaptation means that some precursor of the subject system had a different, selectable function before experiencing the change or addition that resulted in the subject system with its present function (16:146-48 (Padian)). For instance, Dr. Padian identified the evolution of the mammalian middle ear bones from what had been jawbones as an example of this process. (17:6-17 (Padian)). By defining irreducible complexity in the way that he has, Professor Behe attempts to exclude the phenomenon of exaptation by definitional fiat, ignoring as he does so abundant evidence which refutes his argument. Notably, the NAS has rejected Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity by using the following cogent reasoning: [S]tructures and processes that are claimed to be ‘irreducibly’ complex typically are not on closer inspection. For example, it is incorrect to assume that a complex structure or biochemical process can function only if all its components are present and functioning as we see them today. Complex biochemical systems can be built up from simpler systems through natural selection. Thus, the ‘history’ of a protein can be traced through simpler organisms … The evolution of complex molecular systems can occur in several ways. Natural selection can bring together parts of a system for one function at one time and then, at a later time, recombine those parts with other systems of components to produce a system that has a different function. Genes can be duplicated, altered, and then amplified through natural selection. The complex biochemical cascade resulting in blood clotting has been explained in this fashion. P-192 at 22.

As irreducible complexity is only a negative argument against evolution, it is refutable and accordingly testable, unlike ID, by showing that there are intermediate structures with selectable functions that could have evolved into the allegedly irreducibly complex systems. (2:15-16 (Miller)). Importantly, however, the fact that the negative argument of irreducible complexity is testable does not make testable the argument for ID. (2:15 (Miller); 5:39 (Pennock)). Professor Behe has applied the concept of irreducible complexity to only a few select systems: (1) the bacterial flagellum; (2) the blood-clotting cascade; and (3) the immune system. Contrary to Professor Behe’s assertions with respect to these few biochemical systems among the myriad existing in nature, however, Dr. Miller presented evidence, based upon peer-reviewed studies, that they are not in fact irreducibly complex.

etc. etc. etc.

Reading about your troll Larry Fafarman jogged my memory on AOL. The AOL Larry profile claims he resides in Los Angeles and list himself as a retired mechanical engineer - is this the same person?

People here have inferred that all Larry Fafarmans are the same person, due commonality of name, style, and substance, and the Larry Fafarman here hasn’t denied being the same as the Larry Fafarman elsewhere. Whether that means that he really is the same person is something you will have to decide for yourself. Welcome to the Popperian world of empirical uncertainty.

Then there’s Andy H. who, while having a different name, writes the same things on the same topics. Again, you decide.

A cladistic analysis of traits between the different personas might shed some light on the evolutionary relationships between the different proposed versions of Larry/Andy/etc..

As each new possible species arises in different threads it could be tested against the existing dataset and a probability assigned of it being a new species of LarAndy.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

So would I, nobody suggested punishing newbies. Don’t attack strawmen.

Uh, right. Instead you insulted John Wilkins and other contributors to this board:

I think the contributors just don’t care much what happens in the comments. I don’t think people who cared would allow the Andy/Larry situation to continue.

as well as insulting regular commenters, suggesting that they be punished:

There is no immediate, personal cost when a person responds to Larry, and posting a comment gives a person a little ego boost or whatever motivates them to talk to idiots. The long-term cost of nearly all threads becoming wastelands of Larry/Andy and Carol are shared by all of us. No matter how many people exhort against troll feeding, the situation won’t change until there is a more immediate, individual cost to troll feeders.

Of course, because this is a commons, there is no cost for posting such tripe, other than the social cost of having people recognize it as tripe.

P.S.

That won’t work, AD

Ah, but it did work, since no one did respond to “Andy”. What we got instead, though, was as bad or worse.

Ah, but it did work, since no one did respond to “Andy”. What we got instead, though, was as bad or worse.

and ironically, you find yourself feeding the flames.

as to Larry…

when he first came to PT, we (I) asked him if he was the same Larry Fafarman as that referred to above (holocaust/confederacy “revisionist”/meteor “denier” - don’t ask -).

to which he was happy to respond in the affirmative, and further explain his “positions”, as well as give his age, status and place of residence.

as time has gone on, for some odd reason he decided to change his posting handle not once, twice, or even three times, but eight!

His latest incarnation is Andy H.

He always posts the exact same drivel over and over and over again.

you could run him over with a mack truck and he just keeps coming.

irritating, yes, but his arguments are so ludicrous they can be safely ignored.

I got pissed that Pim never chastised him for violating board policy by changing his posting handle on an almost daily basis, but I personally could care less now.

PT HAS no rules, or haven’t you all noticed?

all threads are entirely controlled by the contributors themselves.

EOS.

“No matter how many people exhort against troll feeding, the situation won’t change until there is a more immediate, individual cost to troll feeders.”

Spanking? electric shock?

more posts on why not to feed the trolls?

I never liked the troll label..So what if they’re another nut-job with fast fingers.…I sort of like baiting trolls…like bear-baiting…

and remember, if Carol says anything just reply that you don’t understand it but that it must be wrong because Carol said it.…That seemed to piss them off.

ha

and ironically, you find yourself feeding the flames

Ah, no … I fed the social cost of steve s going ballistic.

[lecture] PT HAS no rules, or haven’t you all noticed? [lecture]

I thought your handle was supposed to be self-deprecating?

Ah, no … I fed the social cost of steve s going ballistic.

lol.

that WAS my point.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John S. Wilkins published on March 2, 2006 12:22 AM.

ID battle in The Stanford Daily was the previous entry in this blog.

No wonder people misunderstand evolution 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 4.381

Site Meter