The Office of Sternberg Coddling

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There is another issue about L’Affaire Sternberg that I think needs to be expounded upon, one that doesn’t seem to have been addressed much at length up to this point. And that is the role of the Office of Special Council (OSC) in releasing their preliminary findings that tried to make a martyr out of Sternberg.

Below the fold I will go into a fair amount of detail about how this came to be.

The Souder report is little more than the OSC findings warmed-over; as far as I can tell the body of the report contains nothing new. The bulk of that report consists of the OSC findings restated and used as a form of evidence in and of themselves. The report even attacks the Smithsonian for not accepting the OSC’s findings at face value. Consider this passage attacking the Smithsonian’s response:

Finally, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary continue to ignore the clear findings of the Office of Special Counsel in its “pre-closure” letter to Dr. Sternberg. The OSC found that Dr. Sternberg’s allegations of discrimination were supported by the evidence uncovered through its preliminary investigation.

And then it continues for another 4 paragraphs about the OSC, never once questioning its veracity, finally concluding…

The Deputy Secretary responded on May 3, 2006, by claiming that the Smithsonian has “conducted an internal inquiry, including a review of OSC’s preliminary findings, and concluded that Dr. von Sternberg is a Research Associate in good standing at NMNH, and that he has the same access to office space, laboratories, collections, libraries and other common facilities as that accorded to other Research Associates.”76 Tellingly, the Deputy Secretary’s statement completely failed to address the central question of whether the harassment and discrimination identified in the OSC report took place. Indeed, from the Deputy Secretary’s non-responsive “response,” one cannot determine whether the Smithsonian’s “internal inquiry” even addressed this issue. [emphasis original]

This passage exemplifies the extreme dishonesty of the report; those things that the Smithsonian inquired about – Sternberg’s office space, access to collections, status as a Research Associate, etc. – were the very things that the alleged harassment and discrimination consisted of. In other words, the Smithsonian investigated the charges made in the OSC report, found them to be without merit, and got on with their business. Outside of those specific charges, there wasn’t any harassment or discrimination to inquire about.

So contrary to the Souder report, the Smithsonian did not ignore the OSC’s preliminary findings – the letters sent by the Secretaries both to Sternberg and the politicians directly address most if not all of its allegations – it’s that they found the report’s claims and hysterical rhetoric completely wrongheaded. What makes the Souder report something more than just a repeat of the OSC is that it contains an appendix with all of the emails and letters that were used as evidence of Sternberg’s supposed persecution. Thanks to these materials, we now know that the Smithsonian was right and the OSC was wrong. The question is, how could this have happened? Since when did the OSC abandon its mission of protecting whistleblowers and instead become a political chop shop?

The answer is, ever since Special Counsel Scott Bloch was put in charge.

A comprehensive review of Bloch’s malfeasance would take up too much time and space. The following links have the full story if you’re interested (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), plus many, many more can be found on Google. I’ll just summarize:

  • Bloch is a far-right wing activist and a notorious homophobe.
  • Upon taking office Bloch immediately removed references to sexual orientation discrimination from the OSC website. Bloch has indicated that he will not protect gays from discrimination in contradiction of White House policy.

  • Bloch is alleged to have used the OSC for partisan political purposes by ignoring claims made against Republicans while vigorously pursuing complaints lodged against Democrats.

  • Bloch doubled the number of political appointees in the OSC, giving high paying salaries to many of his friends and fellow right-wing activists who have no relevant experience. He has simultaneously eviscerated the OSC’s professional staff, much of whom has either been fired for not relocating on short notice or resigned in frustration.

  • James McVay, who wrote the preliminary report concerning Sternberg, is one of Bloch’s more controversial political appointees. He has no experience in employment law, whistleblower law, or federal-sector work.
  • Many hundreds of meritorious cases, which by all accounts should have been investigated, were dismissed without investigation by Bloch’s office. Meanwhile, matters over which OSC has no jurisdiction have been pursued rigorously. (Sound familiar?)
  • According to the OSC’s own polling, Federal employees are extremely dissatisfied with the work being done by the OSC, and effectively no whistleblowers have received relief as a result of the complaints they filed.

  • When complaints were made about Bloch’s behavior and mistreatment of the staff, Bloch not only dismissed the complaints, he allegedly retaliated against the people who made them and issued a gag order preventing the OSC staff from speaking to anyone outside of the agency. Ironically, it is precisely this type of retaliation and intimidation of whistleblowers that the OSC is tasked with investigating.

  • As a result of OSC failing to discharge its duties and taking revenge on aggrieved staff, former staff members and numerous whistleblower protection groups have filed a complaint with the Office of Personnel Management, which has launched an investigation (still on-going, as far as I can tell). Additionally, two Senate committees were forced to hold hearings concerning Bloch’s behavior.

It almost couldn’t get worse. There is a long and sordid history since Bloch took over the OSC of cronyism, political bias, shirking, and unfair treatment of staff. Scott Bloch makes former FEMA director Michael Brown look like a brilliant leader and seasoned professional by comparison.

This explains how the OSC managed to produce an preliminary investigation on the Sternberg affair that is so completely divorced from reality. Put simply, it was a political hatchet job, yet another in a long line of abuses that the OSC has become infamous for. What’s perhaps most telling about all of this is that in spite of having a major backlog in cases, in spite of trying to pare down this backlog by dismissing meritorious cases without investigation, the OSC somehow found the time to investigate a case for which they knew they had no jurisdiction. Amazing, isn’t it? If you are a whistleblower who needs protection, or a gay federal worker who’s been discriminated against, the OSC simply doesn’t have time for you. They’re too busy pursuing cases outside of their jurisdiction in service of the Culture Wars.

Considering that Sternberg should have known that the OSC lacked jurisdiction, it is my belief that the Discovery Institute referred him to Bloch’s office knowing that even though the case was outside the OSC’s purview, even though there were more appropriate venues for handling a legitimate grievance of this kind, Bloch and McVay would dutifully issue a preliminary report that would serve the propaganda purposes of the DI. One even wonders if the DI wrote the report for them.

(Cross-posted to Sunbeams from Cucumbers.)

79 Comments

SO,.… You do not think there was any biased or unfair treatment of Sternberg after he published the Meyer paper?

If there was, then the person behind the OSC who is making the claim doesn’t matter. What matters here is not the character of Bloch but the truth value to his claim. SO, if the answer is yes, (Sternberg was mistreated) then your post falls in line with the long history of fallicious debating tactics employed by people on a losing side. (ie. attacking the source rather than the claim.)

If the answer is No, (Sternberg was not unfairly treated) then the next question is, should he have been? I mean c’mon, this guy published an ID paper, should the scientific community not black ball him and do whatever they can to purify their ranks? As a reader in the history of science, I know that this is how the dissenters and fringe scientists (who sometimes become revolutionaries) are first treated. And I have heard many people in the anti-ID community, (not just scientists but activists from many fields) comment about not admitting students who hold ID into graduate programs, not granting tenure to ID friendly science professors, etc etc. From what I understand, that is at least by reading the bloggers here at PT and affiliated sites, Sternberg should be mistreated, fired, and possibly made to play in traffic. People here don’t even think he deserves his degrees. So, why retract from the reports findings? Why not just say, “Damn straight We put him in his place. Ha Ha!”

Either way,

It is either true or not true, that Sternberg was unfairly treated. This matters not on the person who says so.

MS

Excellent piece of work. I hope that you can find a way to get this information to reporters for wider coverage.

It is either true or not true, that Sternberg was unfairly treated. This matters not on the person who says so.

Sternberg is not the only person or entity who is being “treated” fairly or unfairly. The agenda of the person behind this stuff has a lot to do with the how other people and organizations have been treated.

Interesting blurb about the fictional character, Mark Studduck:

It must be remembered in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific nor classical–merely ‘Modern’. The severities both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honour to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge (he had always done well on Essays and general papers).

-That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis

Hi Larry.

Re: Comment #151164

Utterly amazing, isn’t it, the way they comment extensively on something that they don’t even seem to have read. The complete lack of understanding of the history of science, and how science is done is the thing that keeps me engaged in this issue, for the hope that education might be able to eradicate the attitude.

It is either true or not true, that Sternberg was unfairly treated. This matters not on the person who says so.

Not so fast. Since it’s not true and this has already been covered, it is of interest to note whether the misguided report is a rare accident or part of a pattern of malfeasance by the OSC and allies.

SO,.… You do not think there was any biased or unfair treatment of Sternberg after he published the Meyer paper?

I think we’ve already established, as per Ed Brayton’s post, that Sternberg was not unfairly treated. I mentioned the fact that the appendix attached to the Souder report more or less exonerates the Smithsonian from any wrong-doing.

It is either true or not true, that Sternberg was unfairly treated…

There’s more to it than that. Unfair treatment isn’t an either-or type of thing, it comes in shades of gray. Even assuming Sternberg had been wronged, grossly exaggerating his supposed persecution is itself an act of unfair treatment towards the accused.

As such, the question is, why did the OSC treat the Smithsonian unfairly?

Wesley R. Elsberry, I agree with your point and it is well taken.

Ben, Nice connection on the Pseudo name. Did you read all of That Hideous Strength? What does the full picture of Mark Studduck look like. From where does he come? What does he go through? And where does he end? That story will tell you why I chose to post under the name Mark Studduck. And no, I’m not Larry.

Mike, Are you a historian of science? If you are, perhaps we’ll meet someday at a conference. I’ll be going by my real name there. We can discuss the history of science and my basic claim concerning dissenters to the reigning paradigm. I thought everybody knew this. Big famous example: Aristotelian paradigm, adopted by the reigning cultural power (the catholic church,) disagreed with by this one guy who believed the universe and Life to be designed by an intelligent creator whom he identified as the God of the Bible, but didn’t think the reigning aristotelian philosophy jivved with his empirical findings and theories. Man, if only I could remeber his name.

Pete Dunkelberg, Your post has something to offer. I agree that the seperate question of “malfeasance by the OSC and allies” is worth looking into. My post was about the logic of the matter. Was Sternberg mistreated or was he not. If he wasn’t should he have been. This latter question is to me the most interesting. No one has yet responded to that section of my post. I am curious as to whether anti-ID types would actually approve of biased treatment of a ID friendly but otherwise credentialed scientist.

MS

dlj

SO,.… You do not think there was any biased or unfair treatment of Sternberg after he published the Meyer paper?

Having read the appendix in the Souder report, that is correct, I do not think there was any biased or unfair treatment of Sternberg after he published the Meyer paper.

In fact, it appears that despite having engaged in behavior in and regarding the Smithsonian and PBSW that ranges from wildly unethical to just bizarre, Sternberg has not suffered any negative consequences whatsoever as a result of his unprofessional behavior. I don’t know how things work at the Smithsonian, but I cannot help but wonder whether he could have gotten away with all of this were he not waving the poor me persecuted christian card like a shield.

shoulda, coulda, woulda. other people’s ethics are boring.

but coin’s point is good. his sense of professionalism is rather lousy.

“Mark:” You know as well as we do that just being a “dissenter to the reigning paradigm” doesn’t make one right. Many such “dissenters,” in fact, have turned out to be idiots, charlatans, demagogues, and/or whoring their science for a political or economic agenda.

As the old saying goes, they laughed at Newton, they laughed at Einstein, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown and Lyndon LaRouche.

PS: the fact that you’re blathering on in such a muddled way without even trying to discuss the specifics of the case, speaks volumes about your own intellectual honesty.

It is ironic or simply tragic that the findings published by the OSC appear to be questionable material raising concerns about how the publisher has allowed their personal ideology to unethically influence their “editorial” decisions, in defense of a man who is accused of that very behavior.

Don’t bother to wonder if the DI wrote the report. They can’t write that well…

It’s unfortunately possible that the OSC is itself a bad idea; one of those things that looks really good on paper, but that turns out to be a most excellent bully pulpit for ideological grandstanding. Imagine: a lightning rod *desinged* to attract otherwise inaccessible dirt against your enemies, complete with the power and authority to vanish any such dirt against your friends. It would be astonishing if a politician did NOT use such an agency for partisan political purposes.

I hope nobody thinks Bloch’s behavior was unexpected by those who placed him in this position. I hope everyone understands that someone of Bloch’s known habits and inclinations was carefully sought out, and doubtless many candidates less ideologically committed, were passed over in his favor.

I suggest the past relationship between Souder and Bloch might be worth investigating. They seem to be working more closely together than coincidence might account for…

Actually, this does not need wider coverage in the news media because this “report” is dead in the water. Five days after its release, the Souder fart has no echo.

Do a Google News. No traction. WingNutDaily- that’s all folks!

Saddly, Souder was able to keep his seat even though he can’t find his ass. There is no possibility that Scott Bloch will have his current job after January. Based on the trackrecord of the Bushies, the Dem’s could fire and/or eliminate funding for a whole lot of conservatives. Are suicides in the offing? At least we should see an upturn in demand for the DC mental health services.

Still, it is good to be ready, so many thanks to Steve.

Flint, there are other governmental departments that seem to be pulling off the task of nonpartisan oversight within the federal government without difficulty. The GAO, for example, as far as I know seems to be pretty much untouched by scandal. Perhaps there is some way to keep the OSC honest?

Gary Hurd Wrote:

There is no possibility that Scott Bloch will have his current job after January.

Why do you conclude this? The OSC is part of the executive, isn’t it? Wouldn’t Bloch remain in place until the executive decided to replace him?

Raging Bee, I agree with you entirely concerning the fact of history which you point out. (Many such “dissenters,” in fact, have turned out to be idiots,etc.) Although, strangely, or expectantly, you argued against something I didn’t in fact claim. and that is, when you said “just being a “dissenter to the reigning paradigm” doesn’t make one right.” Your logic is quite sound on that point. A point which I did not make or imply. May I correct your “old saying”?

They laughed at Pasteur, they laughed at Einstein, they praised and upheld the work of Lysenko, they ignored Mendel, and they pretended like the information revolution in biology somehow killed the argument for design. Oh yeah, and they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Sorry for “blathering on in such a muddled way without even trying to discuss the specifics of the case,” I’m just having a bit of fun.

If by specifics, you mean you wanted me to point out that I was refering to Galilleo and the overturning of the Aristotelian Model of Planetary Physics, sorry.

MS

Coin:

What keeps the GAO relatively honest is the OMB, which is the Executive branch equivalent organization. The two are often in conflict, and the OMB tends to be a lot more partisan because the GAO represents both parties, while the OMB represents the President.

What would keep the OSC honest is a more-or-less bipartisan agreement that it serves a useful purpose, and that the purpose needs to be kept relatively non-ideological. Seems clear to me that if there is any agreement about the OSC, it’s either that it doesn’t (and perhaps) can’t cut through the resistance it inevitably faces, or that it serves a better purpose as a pulpit for the party in power than as an agency to weed out wrongdoing.

I recognize that whistle-blowing is inherently an uphill battle; the discrepancy in power between the poor schmuck reporting the problem and the high mucky-muck pulling the stunts has always been too large to overcome *unless* the high mucky-muck is opposed directly by someone of equal power, and the whistle will be grist for the power struggle mill.

Nobody likes a whistle blower. If he’s blowing it against someone else, you don’t particularly care. If it’s against you, you’re going to fight it as hard as you can. No checks and balances.

Yust when an old lady of northland descent is about settling in for the season to think starting, the staff to tell me yet another patient has declined their caring are coming!

Mark Drake, or some such, this one is named being…?

Hokey-dokey!

OSC is officially independent. The Special Counsel is nominated by the President & confirmed by the Senate, but he doesn’t seem to serve at the pleasure of the Executive. Hence the presumption of political impartiality. (Yeah, whatever.) Anyway, Hatch was confirmed for a five-year term in 2004, so it looks like even if a Democratic candidate wins the Presidency in 2008, they may be (briefly) stuck with this Bush nominee.

Okay, whatever else we may say about him, Mark is definitely not Larry Farfringinsinthin – he’s at least pretending to be civil, responsive and open-minded, which Larry could never credibly do. What point he’s trying to make here is another matter…

Steve Reuland provides a link about Bloch dress code: Bloch gives inappropriate fashion advice, turns out to be plagiarist.

“And remember, my people — there is no shame in being poor, only dressing poorly!” - from “Zorro, the Gay Blade”

Raging Bee Wrote:

Okay, whatever else we may say about him, Mark is definitely not Larry Farfringinsinthin…

Yeah, but could he at least spell the name of the character correctly? (It’s “Studdock”.)

(A long time ago, back when I was a religious partisan, I loaned out one of my copies of that work to an unconvinced friend. Later, trying to track it down, I asked said friend, “Hey Charles, do you still have that hideous strength?”)

Mark Studduck, FCD

Fafarman Cleverly Disguised?

I’m just having a bit of fun.

The technical term is “trolling”.

What does the full picture of Mark Studduck look like. From where does he come? What does he go through? And where does he end? That story will tell you why I chose to post under the name Mark Studduck

Ah yes, you’re so clever. Mark Studdock wanted to be a member of the evil inner sanctum – in this case, a “Friend of Charles Darwin”. You, like C.S. Lewis and the rest of the ethically challenged IDiots, substitute such fictional creations for fact and reason.

SO,.… You do not think there was any biased or unfair treatment of Sternberg after he published the Meyer paper?

Look, troll, it has been well documented that there was not.

If there was, then the person behind the OSC who is making the claim doesn’t matter.

But there wasn’t, and the person behind the OSC, and his character and motivations do matter as to why the false claim was made.

What matters here is not the character of Bloch but the truth value to his claim.

Not if his claim is in fact false and was made in bad faith – bad faith like yours, troll.

SO, if the answer is yes

But it’s known that the answer is “no”. Your counterfactual discussion of the answer being “yes” is intended as a smear:

(Sternberg was mistreated) then your post falls in line with the long history of fallicious debating tactics employed by people on a losing side. (ie. attacking the source rather than the claim.)

Since the answer is known to be “no”, this suggestion of “fallacious debating tactics” is bad faith, an evil act by an evil person. The evil of “Mark Studdock” that you project onto “FCD” is your own, troll.

Are you a historian of science? If you are, perhaps we’ll meet someday at a conference. I’ll be going by my real name there.

Paul Nelson?

The Friends of Charles Darwin currently have 845 members in 43 countries. Our most recent new member is Robert W Carroll, USA.

If your haven’t done so already, why not become a member? It’s free, and entitles you to put the letters FCD after your name.

Hence FCD

Hence FCD

As happens so often, you don’t know what’s going on; the troll is no FCD. Rather, he is equating FCD with C.S. Lewis’s evil organization NICE.

BTW, the “argument” offered by the troll (and he clearly is one from his name, just as someone calling himself “Saddam Hussein, FCD” would clearly be a troll) is not at all dependent on Meyer’s evidence, or any evidence. In essence it’s

1: humans can produce CSI 2: therefore “an intelligence” can produce CSI 3: nothing else is known to be able to produce CSI 4: biodiversity requires CSI 5: therefore “an intelligence” is the best explanation for biodiversity

He apparently actually takes this argument seriously. Ok, go ahead and laugh.

What with all the brouhaha about ol’ Mark’s “Premise 5: ID has been observed to Produce X” stupidity, another argument of similarly jaw-dropping illogic seems to have slipped through the cracks. Or am I mistaken that Mark is essentially claiming here:

Mike, Are you a historian of science? If you are, perhaps we’ll meet someday at a conference. I’ll be going by my real name there. We can discuss the history of science and my basic claim concerning dissenters to the reigning paradigm. I thought everybody knew this. Big famous example: Aristotelian paradigm, adopted by the reigning cultural power (the catholic church,) disagreed with by this one guy who believed the universe and Life to be designed by an intelligent creator whom he identified as the God of the Bible, but didn’t think the reigning aristotelian philosophy jivved with his empirical findings and theories. Man, if only I could remeber his name.

that we should all be sceptical of scientists because the pre-enlightenment Catholic church persecuted Galileo for disagreeing with its worldview; ergo, we should listen to a bunch of religious fundamentalists, instead?

Dude, where’d you score that killer bud?

In Response to Steve,

Premise 5: ID has been observed to Produce X. Is being observed all the time.

I’m pretty sure that ID hasn’t been observed to produce animal body plans during the Cambrian. That’s what we’re interested in. Not whether human beings who did not live during the Cambrian could do X. That tells us nothing about what happened in the Cambrian.

No one doubts that if there existed some sort of highly intelligent being during the Cambrian, especially if it were supernatural, that it could at least in principle design animal body plans. But of course that’s the very point of contention. It cannot be claimed that ID is “causally adequate” if this intelligence is not known to exist. Causal adequacy in this case is simply being presumed.

I’m not arguing against the primary ID argument here (though obviously I think it’s wrong) I’m pointing out that this argument holds that we should infer a cause that is otherwise not in evidence based upon it being the only (supposed) explanation possible. There is no evidence presented for the actual cause itself however. The claim of “causal adequacy” is thus smoke and mirrors.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 6, column 327, byte 847 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

No human Mechanics (or unintelligent robots which you mentioned) were present during the Cambrian.

No, but evolution was, moron. All you’re saying is, if it must have been an intelligence, then it was some kind of intelligence other than human or robotic, therefore it was some super duper unknown intelligence. Well, buddy, that means you don’t qualify as “an intelligence”.

The rests of your comments in your various posts trouble me not.

No, of course reason and logic trouble you not. Get a clue: there are a lot of smart and informed people here, and it is obvious to all of them that you’re not one … and every time you write another stupid post it will further confirm that.

My Analogy wasn’t meant to prove ID, but rather to prove that the argument given by Meyer was in a reasonable, understandable, and non-circular form.

But, as several people have demonstrated, you didn’t prove any such thing. Being the foolish troll you are, though, you ignored those demonstrations.

In #151505 I laid out your argument with the “ID has been observed to produce the evidence of the Cambrian Explosion, therefore ID is the best explanation for the Cambrian Explosion” nonsense stripped out. Will you agree that #151505 is your argument? If not, correct it so that it is. Then we can explain exactly what is so IDiotic about it.

The reigning biological paradigm adopted and canonized by this consensus is the naturalistic paradigm of science with it’s creation story of evolution by various non-intelligent mechanisms.

It’s not a “creation story”, and it has not been “adopted and canonized” by consensus, you pathetic ignorant moron. The theory of evolution is the explanation for biodiversity best inferred from the evidence, something that you are completely ignorant of.

Mark spouts:

Galileo was originally brought up in these posts as an example of a dissenter to a dominant paradigm vigorously held by the scientific community. He was treated unfairly not because he thought the Bible wasn’t true or accurate or God’s word. He was not treated unfairly because he thought the universe produced itself without the active hand of a designing intelligence. He was persecuted for disbelieving, and forcefully rejecting the current paradigm for cosmological physics. He challenged Aristotelianism.

I included the term “pre-enlightenment” to highlight the fact that you’re trying to conflate the actions of modern scientists who adhere rigorously to the scientific method with the actions of the Catholic church. It wasn’t the “scientific community,” not even what passed for the “scientific community” back then, that tried and convicted Galileo of heresy, it was the church. This is exactly the sort thinking that allows you to spout the “cars don’t assemble themselves, thus eveolution is false” inanity with a straight face and expect it to fly with people who actually understand logic. When was the last time you saw a car grow or reproduce, all on its own, as even the simplest biological organisms can? And if you haven’t seen this, then how can you credibly claim that your car analogy is at all useful?

Now, the Aristotelian scientific understanding had been adopted an inseminated into the Catholic Church so much so that they even read it’s understanding of the natural world into the Bible. You can say that they made Aristotle’s views almost canonical, that is dogma. Today, the reigning social force in the western world is not the Catholic Church but is instead some form of general secular humanism. The reigning biological paradigm adopted and canonized by this consensus is the naturalistic paradigm of science with it’s creation story of evolution by various non-intelligent mechanisms. Any scientist who questions or challenges this reigning dogma is thus treated unfairly. Which brings us back to the original topic of this post.

I ask again, how do the actions of the Cathiolic church in the seventeenth century reflect poorly on the actions of modern scientists, beyond your laughable implied premise that a “dominant paradigm” is always defended in the exact same way, every single time, in every culture and historical period? You yourself note that the Aristotelian paradigm was adopted into the church as dogma, but then you try to lay the blame for Galileo’s persecution not on the church, but on the “scientific community.” Now that sounds like persecution.

Mark Studduck:

My Analogy wasn’t meant to prove ID, but rather to prove that the argument given by Meyer was in a reasonable, understandable, and non-circular form. I know that analogies don’t prove anything but help explain arguments. italics mine

You say you realize analogies don’t prove anything, and then you claim your analogy proves something. [sigh]

I suspect this is a trait you picked up from listening to religious speakers. They argue via analogy all the time. Scientists don’t, and for good reason, because you can come up with an analogy for anything. They prove nothing, not the argument, not that the argument is reasonable, nada.

Evidence my friend, not analogies, that’s what we need.

I suspect this is a trait you picked up from listening to religious speakers. They argue via analogy all the time. Scientists don’t, and for good reason, because you can come up with an analogy for anything. They prove nothing, not the argument, not that the argument is reasonable, nada.

Scientists do argue by analogy. The difference is that successful arguments by analogy are convincing insofar as they carefully explore the evidence for both the supporting points of similarity and those points of dissimilarity that may be present. The canonical example, of course, would be Charles Darwin’s argument for natural selection based upon analogy to artificial selection.

Of course, the sloppy sort of analogy offered by “Mark Studdock” here and others elsewhere don’t give that sort of support; one is always urged to accept the analogy on no other basis than that it “obviously” holds. The canonical example is the ID argument that cellular mechanisms look like machines, therefore they must be designed.

PG, evolution was “present” at the Cambrian Explosion. Well, not if you are refering to it as if it were some disembodied intelligence or thing or whatever, but sure “evolution” was present. Don’t worry about whether I am an evolutionist, I assure that I am. I do agree that since their were animals, environmental presures, and DNA transcription and translation, and all, well, yeah…evolution was present. Of course the process of natural selection was at work during the Cambrian period in the same way that it is at work today. It is a process which is at work anywhere and anytime that designed organisms are alive and active in an environment. Evolution is like a natural law intrinsic to the designed biological world. Am I old school in the belief that evolution can’t explain where evolution came from. Am I wrong to think that there are certain necessities (Such as, the ability of an organism to pass on genetic information to it’s offspring) involved before evolution can even start to work.

Now, the rest of your posts amount to your telling me that:

I am a Moron. (which is cute of you, but the real problem you have with me is that we don’t have the same faith and religious devotion to the current reaigning scientistic world view.)

That I don’t qualify as “an intelligence” according to my own writing concerning intelligence. (Which is absurd and patently false.)

That I care nothing for reason and logic. (lets just say that if you want to debate, or discuss anything with anyone else in the future you shouldn’t resort so quickly to this last ditch tactic of telling the person you are communicating with that they reject the laws of thinking. It’s kind of pathetic to move so quickly away from an argument into an unfounded attack upon the person sitting at a computer a hundred miles away from you…How very PT or UD in style of you.)

Then you tell me I’m stupid again, and that this current post further proves it. (good argument. BTW I don’t think you are stupid. It just seems to me that you have chosen to be 100 percent sure and devoted to something so completely that you can’t even talk to people who disagree with you. You can’t assess their statements as true or false outside of judging them solely upon whther they do or do not seem to buttress your own world view. You may be a little hateful, and biligerent to people, and maybe a little closeminded, but you are probably not stupid. Maybe the only other thing I could say concerning the attributes of your person from the limited evidence I read here is that you are immature. You may one day grow up to be able to talk to people on the other side of the fence.)

Then you called me a Troll and told me that I have ignored some arguments and so forth. (well, I have asked exactly what makes a troll a troll, and believe that I have contended to a satisfactory manner that I am not in fact a troll. Some people apparently have decided that I, although they still disagree with me and argue against my post, am not a troll, but instead refer to me somewhat politely by my username Mark.)

Then amidst some more name-calling you ask something constructive concerning post #151505. Your argument was that my argument could be reformulated as. “1: humans can produce CSI 2: therefore “an intelligence” can produce CSI 3: nothing else is known to be able to produce CSI 4: biodiversity requires CSI 5: therefore “an intelligence” is the best explanation for biodiversity” Then you asked me to either agree that #151505 is my argument or correct it so that it is. Then you could explain exactly why it is so IDiotic and then laugh at me. I will try to carry out your request. But I am going to type it straight through and not spend all day making this submittable to a philosophical journal or anything, so give me some leeway with the language. I have really got to get out to the mall and buy some last minute gifts. 1. Intelligent Agents can produce CSI 2. Humans are Intelligent Agents. 3. They are regularly observed Intelligent Agents. 4. Even if we do not observer their existence at a given time and place, if we find CSI we generally assume that Human Intelligent agents were present and responsible for the CSI observed. (an example of this would come from archaeology and the discovery of ancient and unknown writing and so forth) 5. CSI can be an indicator of the presence of an Intelligent Agent. (from 1-4) 6. We generally assume that CSI is a reliable indicator of the presence of Human Intelligent Agents. 7. There may or may not be other Intelligent Agents. 8. Other Intelligent Agents may or may not specify complexity in a similar and understandable human-like way. 9. Other intelligent agents may be of a higher intelligence or lower intelligence. Their basic attributes, ability, properties, and so forth may be otherwise unknown to us while the theoretical possibility of detecting their intelligent agency may be possible by detecting CSI. (from 1-4) 10. Given these possibilities (from 5-9) we human intelligent agents attempt to or theoretically could discover CSI from a non-human intelligent agent. (ie SETI, ID,) 11. CSI is a reliable indicator for intelligent design. (not this argument but dembski argument) Intelligent design is causally explanative of CSI. 12. Evolutionary Naturalism and it’s various mechanisms and theories has not been, or has not yet been shown to account for CSI. 13. Self-Organization theories and various similar ideas have not been, or have not yet been shown to account for CSI. 13. The Cambrian Explosion happened at a time when there were no human intelligent agents present. 14. The Cambrian Explosion displays a very early insertion of vast amounts of new CSI. 15. If we are to attribute the CSI encountered in the Cambrian explosion to a cause, we must use abductive reasoning. (inference to the best explanation) 16. From 1-11, 12, 13, and 14, we can argue that Intelligent Design is the best current explanation of the CSI of the Cambrian explosion. Many of these premises of course require further argument (as is true of most arguments) and thus require the research project of Intelligent Design. And I will admit this is a very rough and quickly jotted out argument but it is in reply to your request. I have tried to point out the difference between your misrepresentation or misunderstanding here by showing why and how an ID theorist might move from a human IDer to a theoretically possible IDer. You then return to name calling and statement making. I call the theory of evolution a creation story because that is exactly what it is. It’s being true or false has nothing to do with whether it is a story about how things are created. Since I am taking too much time out to deal with your insults already I will recommend you read “Species of Origin. America’s Search for a Creation Story” by Giberson and Yerxa. I was first turned on to this book by an advertisement on the NCSE web page. Excellent work. Responding Now to neo-anti-luddite, I hardly feel like it is necessary to quibble with you over the Galileo affair. My explanation given above is the standard and currently accepted interpretation. I will not persecute you for not understanding the important cultural and societal trappings of Galileo’s time. But your question concerning why it is valid to relate the way the Catholic Aristotelians (properly understood as such for they were far more committed to this dogma than to the Christian Bible) treated Galileo to the actions of modern scientists is worth a response. I do not think as you said that I implied, “that a “dominant paradigm” is always defended in the exact same way, every single time, in every culture and historical period?” But the similarity among all paradigm challenges throughout time is that those scientists entrenched in the current and challenged orthodoxy do not readily discourse properly of fairly with their dissenters. Examples abound. I would suggest a read or probably a re-read of Thomas Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Response to MarkP, Excellent catch. Your right I concede. My wording was quite poor. I should have written “My Analogy wasn’t meant to prove ID, but rather to show how or illustrate why the argument given by Meyer was in a reasonable, understandable, and non-circular form. I know that analogies don’t prove anything but only help explain arguments.

But going from this to accuse me of picking up a poor trait from religious speakers. And then telling me that Scientists don’t use analogies to explain their theories. WOW. I will remember that every time I read a scientists analogy. Oh wait, I don’t have to make an argument here because one of the higher ups at PT agree with me. (comment above by Wesley Elsberry) Well, it has been fun being the only one on this side of things. I wish I had clones to go do the Christmas Shopping (ooops I mean, holiday or winterish shopping, I know how sensitive some of you anti-religionists get, just kidding around) I need to do. God bless you all richly this Christmas. I’ll get back on PT after I am through celebrating the birth of Christ with my family and friends here in a few days.

MS

A wellconstructed analogy can be (more or less) isomorph in the studied domain.

Isomorphism (mathematics), informally: “The word “isomorphism” applies when two complex structures can be mapped onto each other, in such a way that to each part of one structure there is a corresponding part in the other structure, where “corresponding” means that the two parts play similar roles in their respective structures. [my bold] … Isomorphisms are frequently used by mathematicians to save themselves work. If a good isomorphism can be found from a relatively unknown part of mathematics into some well studied division of mathematics, where many theorems are already proved, and many methods are already available to find answers, then the function can be used to map whole problems out of unfamiliar territory over to “solid ground,” where the problem is easier to understand and work with.”

Darwin’s example seems to fit in these regards. By analogy, of course. :-)

Since I forgot to connect my comment with a quote, and there is some trolling going on, let me note that my previous comment was only responding to comment #151615 by Wesley.

Quoth Mark:

But the similarity among all paradigm challenges throughout time is that those scientists entrenched in the current and challenged orthodoxy do not readily discourse properly of fairly with their dissenters.

(emphases mine)

Just scientists? Wow, I guess “paradigm challenges” are a pretty recent phenomenon.…

The problem with your attempt at a point is that those who denounced Galileo’s work held the titles of Bishop, Cardinal, Inquisitor, Pope, etc. Now, if you want to claim that they were the “scientific community” of the time, bust a nut, but they were also, without the possibility of doubt, members of the Catholic church heirarchy, and they operated within the “paradigm” of church authority. As this “paradigm” is worlds apart from the modern “paradigm” of scientific authority based on the scientific method (or did I miss the bit where Alfred Wegener was put under house arrest by the scientific community for his “heresy?”), I ask you again how the actions of the seventeeth-century Catholic church require that we view twenty-first century scientists with suspicion?

You know, one of the big reasons that Galileo is considered one of the fathers of the Enlightenment was his focus on empirical experimentation and evidence, and his assertion that such should trump a blind faith in authority. Leaving aside the other problems with your Galileo example for a moment, the fact that ID offers neither empirical experimentation nor empirical evidence in its defence also renders your comparison invalid. Until someone - anyone - can offer any empirical evidence to support ID, seriously attempting to equate the summary dismissal of Intelligent Design “theory” with the persecution of Galileo requires a fundamental misunderstanding of how modern science actually works. Unless, of course, you’re also going to start railing against the scientific community’s ‘persecution’ of Bigfoot enthusists, flat-earthers, ufo-logists, and similar cranks. If ID had any empirical evidence that supported it, as opposed to argument by extremely poor analogy, your comprison might have some small measure of relevance, although the differences between the church of Galileo and the modern scientific community would still negate any but the most superficial of parallels.

I am a Moron. (which is cute of you, but the real problem you have with me is that we don’t have the same faith and religious devotion to the current reaigning scientistic world view.)

That you make that claim is enough to demonstrate that you are a moron – the “reigning scientistic (sic) world view” is not a matter of “faith and religious devotion”, it’s a matter of following the evidence and applying reason – something you are demonstrably incapable of. Scientists actually predict things that do occur and make things that do work, not because of their “world view” but because of their competence and because of the effectiveness of the scientific method.

A clear sign that you are a moron is your immensely idiotic 16-point argument, that adds nothing of substance or relevance to my 5 point one. It boils down to you saying that “intelligence” can produce CSI because humans can produce CSI, and thus “intelligence” can produce the CSI of the Cambrian Explosion – which is multiply fallacious, an invalid generalization over both CSI and “intelligence”. And to you saying that “Evolutionary Naturalism” isn’t known to be able to produce the CSI of the Cambrian Explosion, which is utter nonsense. Whatever “CSI” is, there is nothing known about the Cambrian Explosion which is not within the known and observed scope of evolution, something that you may “believe in” but evidently know nothing about.

Well, it has been fun being the only one on this side of things.

The world is full of willfully ignorant and stupid people, and a few of them do wander over here.

In response to my point that Mr. Studdock’s analogy and observations are meaningless because his analogy was invalid and the required empirical observations have not been made commented

Scarlet Seraph, FOAFOCD, You specified complexity when you wrote your post. You had before you a keyboard with the English alphabet on it and you specifically chose and arranged the letters before you into a complex and meaningful sequence which other designers could then read. Friend of a friend of Charles Darwin. Man you are missing out. You need to meet the guy yourself. If you have read all his primary literature, I suggest you now go and read Adrian Desmond’s excellent Biography.

In other words, he didn’t bother to respond in any way, and was offensive to boot.

Why waste time on trying to educate someone who clearly displays no desire to be educated and no real understanding of ID?

Again, Mr. Studdock - show me one single example of actual CSI. You will find you are unable to do so - hence your argument is valueless.

Mr. Studdock attempted a reformulation of his invalid argument. It can be easily shown that his reformulation, beginning with its very first point, is completely invalid as well.

1. Intelligent Agents can produce CSI

False. It has never been demonstrated that ‘intelligent agents’ produce CSI. Never.

2. Humans are Intelligent Agents.

In many cases, I’d say that’s debatable, but we’ll let it go for now. %:->

3. They are regularly observed Intelligent Agents.

This point adds nothing to the argument.

4. Even if we do not observer their existence at a given time and place, if we find CSI we generally assume that Human Intelligent agents were present and responsible for the CSI observed. (an example of this would come from archaeology and the discovery of ancient and unknown writing and so forth)

Since CSI has never been shown to exist, this point is invalid.

5. CSI can be an indicator of the presence of an Intelligent Agent. (from 1-4)

Logical fallacy. This is an unsupported generalization.

6. We generally assume that CSI is a reliable indicator of the presence of Human Intelligent Agents.

False. We do NOT make this assumption. Various religiously motivated idiots (such as Dembski) make this assumption. Regrettably, they have not demonstrated that it is anything more than simple, wishful thinking.

Again and again: where is the science? Where is the actual research on CSI? Where are the demonstrations that such a thing exists?

Nowhere.

7. There may or may not be other Intelligent Agents.

Of course, but a pure hypothetical.

8. Other Intelligent Agents may or may not specify complexity in a similar and understandable human-like way.

Another pure hypothetical.

9. Other intelligent agents may be of a higher intelligence or lower intelligence. Their basic attributes, ability, properties, and so forth may be otherwise unknown to us while the theoretical possibility of detecting their intelligent agency may be possible by detecting CSI. (from 1-4)

Not as currently formulated, no. CSI has not been demonstrated, so it has not been demonstrated as a marker of anything.

10. Given these possibilities (from 5-9) we human intelligent agents attempt to or theoretically could discover CSI from a non-human intelligent agent. (ie SETI, ID,)

An invalid conclusion, given the false premises you’ve offered above.

11. CSI is a reliable indicator for intelligent design. (not this argument but dembski argument) Intelligent design is causally explanative of CSI.

A false premise. CSI has never been demonstrated.

12. Evolutionary Naturalism and it’s various mechanisms and theories has not been, or has not yet been shown to account for CSI.

Another false premise; since CSI has not been shown to exist, it has not been shown that ‘evolutionary naturalism’ (your use of this particular phrasing indicates your poor understanding of the theory of evolution, since you put a religious spin on it by equating it with philosophical naturalism) cannot produce it.

13. Self-Organization theories and various similar ideas have not been, or have not yet been shown to account for CSI.

False premise: no CSI, remember?

13. The Cambrian Explosion happened at a time when there were no human intelligent agents present.

Presumably.

14. The Cambrian Explosion displays a very early insertion of vast amounts of new CSI.

False premise. But feel free to demonstrate this - if you can.

15. If we are to attribute the CSI encountered in the Cambrian explosion to a cause, we must use abductive reasoning. (inference to the best explanation)

Not necessarily. Brush up on your logic: since your premises are invalid, abductive reasoning is meaningless in this case.

16. From 1-11, 12, 13, and 14, we can argue that Intelligent Design is the best current explanation of the CSI of the Cambrian explosion.

Nope. Does not follow.

Indeed, most of your argument is based on false premises; unnecessary claims, false analogies, and ignorance of such experiments as the Avida work.

Many of these premises of course require further argument (as is true of most arguments) and thus require the research project of Intelligent Design.

Then you best get cracking; Dembski, et. al. have produced no research of any kind to support their assertions. Indeed, in Behe’s case, they have produced research which directly contradicts their conclusion.

Is this the best you can do?

4. Even if we do not observer their existence at a given time and place, if we find CSI we generally assume that Human Intelligent agents were present and responsible for the CSI observed. (an example of this would come from archaeology and the discovery of ancient and unknown writing and so forth)

Only an imbecile would explicitly base his argument on what we “generally assume”. Imagine a prosecutor arguing that, because people generally assume that the guilty party is most likely the one on trial, that therefore the defendant is most likely the guilty party. But “Mark”’s argument is much much worse than that. It’s like arguing that the defendant would most likely be the guilty party because we generally assume that, but we happen to know that the defendant wasn’t there, so the guilty party was most likely someone else living in his house (even though they are all ghosts, and a certain Mr. Evolution had means, motive, and opportunity and had been seen lurking around the scene of the crime).

Regardless of whether there is CSI, there isn’t a shred of logic in Mr. “Studdock”’s argument. And of course it’s idiotic nonsense that archaeologists observe “CSI” when they find ancient writing or that they “assume” that humans were responsible for the writing because the writing indicates “CSI”. Considering that archaelogists can detect the presence of humans from very meager evidence, long preceding the invention of writing, it’s so idiotic that it can only be a result of immense intellectual dishonesty.

Glen Davidson,

Linnaeus was able to understand organisms as related with homologies, similar molecular body parts, etc within a nested hierarchy within the framework of ID. Yes, he believed as a matter of scientific conclusion that nature and its many varied and wondrous (similar and different) designed organisms were the product of Mind.(—— that was a causal agent)

The point is that he had no explanation for his hierarchies, moron. You take his presupposition as if it were a sound conclusion.

Also, X in the argument doesn’t stand for “Cambrian explosion” but…from comment 151399”(X being the sudden appearance of many phyla, meaning many cell types, meaning much information)”

Which is the Cambrian explosion, moron.

The rest of your post stands upon this misunderstanding or purposeful misrepresentation.

You are a cretinous liar. You introduced the confusion and purposeful misrepresentations, deliberately conflating rather ordinary “design” with “CSI”. To be sure, you’re not the first to be so dishonest and/or stupid, however you are responsible for perpetuating the lie in this thread.

And you haven’t begun to answer my response to your idiocies.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on December 20, 2006 9:24 AM.

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