Dissent Out of Bounds on Uncommon Dissent (Oops, make that “Descent”)

| 352 Comments | 2 TrackBacks

The weblog of William Dembski is called “Uncommon Dissent Descent” (UD). It has a reputation for banning unwanted commenters (read: “evolution defenders”), but generally on the grounds that they’re obstreperous and disruptive. However, it’s becoming clear that it’s not just disruptive behavior that gets one banned: It’s also merely disagreeing, calmly and lucidly, with DaveScot.

Recently Dembski posted some remarks about ID in the United Kingdom and invited comment from UK residents. One UK resident, “Febble”, accepted the invitation. Febble remarked that she had no objection to intelligent design being taught in the UK, since under Dembski’s definition of “intelligent”, Darwinian natural selection is intelligent. She wrote

I am happy to accept “Intelligent Design” as a scientific hypothesis to account for the development of life, as proposed by yourself, Dr Dembski, as long as you stand by this definition of intelligence:

‘ by intelligence I mean the power and facility to choose between options–this coincides with the Latin etymology of “intelligence,” namely, “to choose between” ‘

From Intellligent Design Coming Clean

However, such a hypothesis need not (and should not) be presented as an “alternative to evolution” as it is described in the Truth In Science materials. Far from rejecting an agent “with the power and facility to choose between options”, this is exactly what the Theory of Evolution postulates as the agent of evolutionary change - a process of_selection_ (aka “choice”) between options.

That did not go over well. DaveScot, Dembski’s bouncer, first responded with sarcasm:

Survival of the survivors. Brilliant!

I guess we can all go home now. Case closed.

and then within minutes moved on to the core ID argument: ‘Computers are really complex and they’re designed, and cells are really really complex so they must be designed too’.

Well, that didn’t work. Febble (a Ph.D. neuroscientist, a Christian theist, and a knowledgeable evolution supporter) pointed out that she was only using Dembski’s own operational definition. She went on:

My own view is that life is a profoundly algorithmic phenonemon, and it is the richness of its algorithmic structure that gives rise to its “specified complexity”. It did not arise by chance, it arose from rules - algorithms. And a key algorithm is the if…then statement. In that sense, I consider Dr Dembski correct - biological systems are intelligent systems, arising from intelligent processes.

Where I part company from the ID movement, as opposed to the concept of ID itself, is the frequent implication that intelligent design is coterminous with intentional design. I am happy with Dr. Dembki’s operational definition of intelligence, which includes the concept of choice between options, but does not include consciousness or intention. Dr Dembski does not argue, as I understand him, that consciousness or intention are necessary to produce a pattern with “specified complexity”, merely the “power and capacity to choose between options”. (Italics original)

Note that Dembski (and DaveScot) can’t invoke intention as part of their ‘scientific’ ID – Dembski explicitly ruled the intentionality question out of bounds for science in the article Febble cited, “Intelligent Design Coming Clean”.

So DaveScot moved on to … wait for it … ‘Biological stuff is much more complicated than Darwin thought, and so it must have been designed’, throwing in “probabilities” (just the word, no numbers) for good measure.

Febble very calmly described the notion of cumulative selection, illustrating how evolution by natural selection is a sort of learning algorithm, and reminded DaveScot that chemistry is relevant to understanding how the genetic “code” in DNA is transcribed and translated into proteins that do stuff in cells..

DaveScot then launched a barrage of creationist fog:

* Natural selection works very strongly only in weeding out catastrophic mutations. It is exceedingly poor at fixing beneficial mutations.

* Thus in the fossil record we observe 999 out of 1000 species going extinct in an average of 10 million years without generating any new species during that time. (That’s a new one on me.)

* Natural selection is a conservative force. It works to keep species the same until enough less than disastrous mutations pile up so that extinction occurs at the first major environmental stress.

* The bit of evolution rm+ns can’t adequately explain is the abrupt origin of new species with markedly different and unique anatomical features which is also part of the indisputable testimony of the fossil record.

(Text DaveScot’s; formatting RBH’s)

And so on. I’m put in mind of Philip Kitcher’s term for ID: “dead science”. (Elaborating on the dead science theme, in his new book Living with Darwin Kitcher refers to ID proponents as “resurrection men”.)

Again, Febble responded calmly, dealing with the several misconceptions in DaveScot’s account. Salvador made a brief appearance with his normal derailing commentary, but Febble hauled the discussion back to the main point: Dembski’s operational definition of intelligence and its congruity with natural selection.

The exchange went on for several more posts, with Febble making her points calmly and with respect, and DaveScot responding that Febble doesn’t really understand this or that aspect, not of ID, but of his strawman caricature of evolution. Then, after two such posts by DaveScot within 10 minutes, abruptly and with no intervening posts by Febble, DaveScot posted this:

febble is no longer with us - anyone who doesn’t understand how natural selection works to conserve (or not) genomic information yet insists on writing long winded anti-ID comments filled with errors due to lack of understanding of the basics is just not a constructive member - good luck on your next blog febble

I encourage folks to read the exchanges for themselves, and judge the grounds for DaveScot’s precipitate banning of Febble. I’m not here suggesting that she should be reinstated on UD, but rather that the set of exchanges illustrates both the poverty of the arguments offered on UD, and more interesting, the paranoid defensiveness in the face of dissent from a Christian theist who dares disagree, on scientific grounds, with the UD bouncer. It’s really kind of a hoot: Uncommon Dissent Descent can’t bear to hear informed dissent.

Febble’s comments on UD constitute a sort of informal peer review – the testing of ideas by (in this case relatively friendly) critics. Febble is a self-identified (in that comment thread) Christian theist. She was calm and polite throughout. And what happened? Banned. So much for peer review.

Febble and I have corresponded about this affair, and we disagree. She suggests that what we’re seeing is the formation of a niche species within ID creationism on UD, while I argue it’s merely yet another a demonstration of the deployment of Freudian ego defense mechanisms by IDists.

I’ll note also that Febble’s argument that natural selection is “intelligent” on Dembski’s definition is not unique to her. In 1999 Wes Elsberry made a similar point at greater length, concluding that:

The “actualization-exclusion-specification” triad mentioned above also fits natural selection rather precisely. One might thus conclude that Dembski’s argument establishes that natural selection can be recognized as an intelligent agent.

RBH

Edited to add: A commenter pointed out that I called Dembski’s blog “Uncommon Dissent”, rather than “Uncommon Descent”. I’ve corrected that error. Perhaps it accounts for the intolerance of dissent there.

2 TrackBacks

Dembski himself once defined intelligence as "the power and facility to choose between options - this coincides with the Latin etymology of 'intelligence,' namely, 'to choose between'". What happens if you use this definition to argue, on Dembski's own... Read More

I know, none of you readers believe I am capable of being brief, but I’m going to try! This post was triggered by my reading of Richard B. Hoppe’s post Dissent Out of Bounds on Uncommon Dissent (Oops, make that “Descent”), which is largely... Read More

352 Comments

you’re trying to diss UD but you couldn’t even get their name right! what a doofus.

hhahaha wrote

you’re trying to diss UD but you couldn’t even get their name right! what a doofus.

Yup, I called it “Uncommon Disssent”, rather than “Uncommon Descent”. I’ve corrected that, thanks. Perhaps that misreading on my part accounts for the false expectation that UD tolerates dissent. :)

RBH

(Oops, make that “Descent”)

Freud would be proud.

They really are ban-happy over there at UD, aren’t they? I was banned there myself over a year ago.

I was one of several people who dared to suggest that the Dawkin’s quotes at http://tinyurl.com/ygbo9n were out of context and/or edited in such a way that they altered the point that Dawkins was trying to make. Like the others who commented on how out-of-context and edited those quotes were, I was not rude, I did not cuss or use any insults, or do anything else that any sane owner/operator of a blog would consider ban-worthy. I even made it clear as day that I was not accusing anyone (especially Dembski) of purposefully misquoting Dawkins, just that I thought that the quotes were not entirely accurate, and I explained why I thought as much as calmly as I could.

My post was deleted and I was banned without warning less than an hour after I posted my comment.

Yet, a few months later I believe it was, a post was made by Dembski that had a picture of Dawkins in it, and several of Dembski’s ID buddies made fun of Dawkin’s physical appearance. Those posters were not banned under the pretense that they were “not constructive members” and their posts were not deleted. How odd…

I think IDists have in fact, resurrected many of Freuds’s theories all by themselves.

It has a reputation for banning unwanted commenters (read: “evolution defenders”), but generally on the grounds that they’re obstreperous and disruptive.

Eh, I got banned purely for being a PT contributor. That was my crime.

DaveScot’s rationale was that he was banned from here, so therefore I would be banned from there. Never mind that he was allowed to post here for many weeks, in spite of his extremely obnoxious behavior, until finally his threatening to hack the site got him the boot. Me, I just tried to respond to something that was criticizing one of my own posts and had my comment immediately deleted.

Edited to add: A commenter pointed out that I called Dembski’s blog “Uncommon Dissent”, rather than “Uncommon Descent”. I’ve corrected that error. Perhaps it accounts for the intolerance of dissent there.

One of the IDist books is named “Uncommon Dissent”, so it’s an understandable error. In fact I believe that the book (or at least Dembski’s plugging it) preceded the blog. I also get the names mixed up sometimes.

Febble and I have corresponded about this affair, and we disagree. She suggests that what we’re seeing is the formation of a niche species within ID creationism on UD, while I argue[…]

Can it be claimed that the public (primary?) leadership / face of Intelligent Design - Dembski (with his “publications”) and his Cerberus-like DaveScot are the “niche species”?

Well, so Intelligent Design is “niche” to begin with. Fine. But narrowing the scope of the view to the IDists alone…

I don’t really understand why this apparently competent lady spent so much time trying to make her point. Perhaps she thought she was talking to scientists? Or just to people willing to listen to scientific arguments? Or just to intelligent people, perhaps…

I refered (and linked) to a NYTimes article that quoted a Templeton Foundation official saying that grant requests were solicited from DI and the ID “scientists” but none ever were submitted. After being told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I offered to ask the Templeton Family (I taught Templeton’s grandniece and nephew as the family lives nearby) That was the end of me posting on UD. However, I’ve found that is much more fun looking from the outside at all the silliness at that site. It’s also very educational to see arguments disassembled on AtBC by people who REALLY know their stuff.

Well, considering the abysmal level of argumentation UD stoops down to most of the time, including Professors of Theology proudly claiming authorship of flatulence-ridden animations, I find “Uncommon Descent” rather nicely evocative too.

Febble made a good argument, but more prominently she managed to parse out a real model from the ID fuzz. By sticking to one of Dembski’s definition and insist on testability - which Dembski has no intention to do. She even came up with a non-contradictory definition of ‘specified complexity’ (as the result of choice mechanisms), something Dembski never has managed.

I notice they have a tag team now, a Patrick mentioned he was a bouncer too. As if it wasn’t enough with Sal as repellent. :-)

I got banned from UD as well; I only wish I handled the frustration that DaveScot puts out with half the coolness Febble did. Kudos to her.

As I see it, we’re distilling the UD crowd. Every time DaveScot kicks someone who isn’t unruly and is making good points, everyone reading who isn’t completely brainwashed will have to actually look at the arguments that have to be defended by an prevaricators like DaveScot and his patron Dembski. Enough of that, and soon all that’s left on UD is syncophants, like the crud at the bottom of a soup-pot that’s been boiling all night.

The trouble is, new people come in and might be gulled by the ID’s facile tautologies, so we have to keep boiling the soup. Oh well. Dealing with someone like DaveScot is a price we pay for free speech.

I got banned for my one post. It was was when Dembski was claiming that Jeff Shallit was dropped by the ACLU as a Kitzmiller witness because he was an embarrassment. I pointed out that the real reason why Shallit did not testify and was promptly banned. Multiple other people tried to do so and where also banned.

Creationist sites are far more likely to censor forum or blog comments than noncreationist sites. I guess they are afraid of the truth. As many have pointed out, this is from those whose rhetoric (but not actions) is to present “both” sides.

Does anyone have a URL to the comment where DaveScot threatened to hack the Panda’s Thumb? Maybe it would be a good idea to call him “Dave ‘[insert quote here]’ Scot” to remind make sure people don’t forget his commitment to truth and the marketplace of ideas.

I too, as a UK resident, responded to the invitation concerning ID in the UK. I actually registered to do so.

My first post was added to the thread, my second post (sent 23:03 5 January, UK time, in response to comments made by Patrick) has not appeared. Here is the text of the unpublished post:

Patrick, We were asked as UK residents to comment on the government response to ID being taught in schools. My caricature was a tad unkind (for the purposes of debate) but I don’t think it was unrepresentative of the likely reception in an ordinary state school. ID may get a warmer reception in our Academies (sponsored schools) as some of these have been funded by people with strong religious convictions. 200 years ago many of the clergy were also naturalists - the study of nature was seen as demonstrating God’s purpose and bounty. However the data and philosophical thought of the time ( e.g. Catastrophism vs Uniformitarianism) led to doubts about the literal accuracy of the Bible and the age of the Earth. This in turn has lead to a cultural recognition of the scientific world view, reinforced by social changes and the impact of two World Wars, and this is what ID is up against. The bulk of the UK population is practically secular, despite the Queen being the head of the Established Church. ID must make its case based on science, there is little traction for a religious idea. Saying that the Theory of Evolution cannot explain the appearance of design so Intelligent Design is the answer (even with the fragile concepts of IC and SC) is not enough to displace the evolutionary world view which has taken root in the UK over the last 150 years. You will have to prove who supplied the intelligence in ID, when it was done and how it was done.

I guess you could judge the comment to be mildly critical, but we were asked for our views…

Maybe my post went astray? Strangely enough I also posted a more critical comment on the Emerald Wasp thread (16:27 UK time, 5 January) and that has not appeared either.

Now I have to say that prior to this I was unimpressed by the general tone and content of Uncommon Descent, but I thought it worth the effort to try and contribute to the debates. For what it is worth I feel that I have proved to my own satisfaction that the site is nothing more than a cheerleaders club for ID, one that will not tolerate anything else but full on enthusiasm for team Dembski.

I wonder if I can de-register?

Well, to balance out the conversation a bit, as scientifically vacuous as ID may be I have challenged equally silly environmental notions on this site and seen my posts and the ensuing discussions removed. So, pick your metaphor, pots and kettles, glass houses, ivory towers…

I even feel the need to preface my comments with something such as “ID is nonsense” so that everyone can see I am in strong agreement with most things that are posted here so that my post can continue and has just has that greater chance of survivability. I do that because of past experience and it shouldn’t be necessary. If I did not also feel the hand of censure at my back when I have an opinion to express that is in disagreement with the majority here I would feel comfortable just saying it and not pandering to the masses before I express my opinion.

DaveScot is pretty pathetic. But let me say that dissenting views aren’t just grounds for banning. Most of the time dissenting views never see the light of day.

Yo, “Me,” care to give us an example of the horrible hypocritical persecution you allege?

(Note: If you’re actually Larry Fafarman, please remember that you posted here with impunity for months, if not years, and were, if I’m not mistaken, banned for insistently posting nonsense, as well as unwarranted insults, that had nothing to do with the topic of the threads in which you were posting.)

Sorry, I don’t even know who Larry Farfarman is. This is just one of the sites I read, and mostly lurk and don’t post comments - and to ingratiate myself with the masses again: I enjoy immensely.

The one time I did post a few comments (I think it was about some weird Dolphin article I didn’t agree with) my posts and the discussion that followed got deleted so you may find it, or you may not. I ended up posting some kind of apology because dissent always seems to bring out the trolls that just have attack agendas. You may still find the post, I can’t even say I recall the article in much detail, all I recall was that I was deleted.

All I am saying is the one previous thread I posted in here was deleted and I didn’t do anything but (sarcastically) disagree with an article that was posted on the site. My point being that there is censorship here also.

In other words, “Me,” you have no case, otherwise you’d be citing the specific subject and at least a range of possible post-dates – As I would, and can, when I accuse UD of censoring me (last month, in a post regarding the fake-issue of Judge Jones’ “plagiarising” the ACLU’s PFOFs in his Dover ruling, I got banned for quoting Behe’s admission, under oath, that ID had no peer-reviewed work to its name – there’s posts here on that subject where I boldly boast of my trials and tribulations).

I suspect that if you were “censored” for anything, it was for posting off-topic; that’s happened to me more than once – my offending posts were simply moved to AtBC or the Bathroom Wall, and we all had the option of continuing the arguments there.

PS: Your last post didn’t have enough essense of Larryness to prove anything, therefore I take back, with apologies (for now at least), my allegation that you’re Larry. My bad.

RBH, you commented that “DaveScot then launched a barrage of creationist fog:”

Thus in the fossil record we observe 999 out of 1000 species going extinct in an average of 10 million years …

Hardly intelligent design then - as the poster above my desk says.

A couple points:

First, it’s great to see RBH mention Freudian ego defenses as a motivator for IDist behavior. Personally, I favor adding a psychological approach to understanding this conflict, as opposed to seeing it simply as a clash of competing ideas, and I’m glad to see it at least mentioned here.

Second, what’s the story on DaveScot? What’s his background? He was a character here, once upon a time, and is such a dominant force at UD, but I don’t know anything about the guy apart from his screen-name. I don’t mean personal info, just a sense of who he is and where he’s coming from intellectually.

“Me” may not be Larry, but I’m a wee bit surprised that a regular lurker of PT has never heard of him. I’ve also been put to the bathroom wall on occasion, but I’d hardly consider it to be the same treatment that people get on Dembski’s blog.

I certainly have to say Febbie handled herself professionally. I am deeply amused at her getting banned for “not understanding something” by DaveScott. So apparently if you don’t tow the line, you’re banned.

This has made me wonder if there’s ANYONE left at UD that can carry on an intelligent conversation. Yes, we joke about the bans we see, but there’s likely quite a few that we do NOT. At that rate, as noted here, you’re just going to end up with syncophants.

Which, in some ways, may explain things. Stay in the echo chamber long enough, and you’ll start believing the echos.

Back in late July, there was a thread on a petition to save dolphins. The second comment is Wes explaining that he moved a bunch of metatalk to the Bathroom Wall. Look at the BW in the date range July 24-25, and see if your posts are there. My guess is that somebody else started spouting a bunch of “Darwinism is a cult and you can’t prove Darwin existed” BS and anything not dealing directly with the topic got axed.

Enough of that, and soon all that’s left on UD is syncophants, like the crud at the bottom of a soup-pot that’s been boiling all night.

So they are essentially creating a memetic bottleneck.

What’s the point in trying to intellectually engage with the clowns and DemskiBots at UD?

They have no original ideas, and none of them seem to have even a junior high school science student’s grasp of what science really is.

I really have to say that after reading a fair amount of that UD entry with febble on it, it’s pretty appalling that they tossed her off declaring that she had some long-winded anti-ID comments. It seems to me that she was curious and wanted some real answers that she simply wasn’t getting. She responded in a detailed fashion that should promote constructive and educated discourse. Instead, she gets shut down by the Zhdanov to Dembski’s Stalin. Protect the dear leader.

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]=1272;st=630

For the record, most people who have their comments moved to here are not banned. It’s nice here at Pandas. :)

SC Wrote:
caligula Wrote:

What am I doing there, at UD? Of course, I never asked to be brought under the spotlight as some sort of a “champion” of the “evolutionists”. But I still feel ashamed that it is me who seems to be presented as the main opponent at the UD thread, instead of people who have sat through classes in evolutionary biology and now are, as I assume by the maturity of your mathematical treatments, teaching it.

I thought you were a bit abandoned by your comrades.

1. I don’t think I have “comrades”. I don’t participate in evo/crea discussions to make friends on either side of the “fence”. 2. I’m not ashamed of being “abandoned” by someone. Rather, I feel somewhat ashamed because I think there are more qualified people available, and because I doubt they would be as eager (as we are) in debating details that they are not formally qualified to debate. While I personally enjoy such somewhat intellectually loose debate, because it catalyzes my motivation to learn more, I feel somewhat awkward when the debate takes place “under a spotlight”. 3. I’m not sure how many people are allowed to participate in discussion at UD, even if they were willing and mostly qualified.

SC Wrote:

One of the chief moderators there has appeared to have made an informal ruling.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. I think only about four of my posts were censored during my re-visit at UD. (It seems DS had banned me earlier!) Of those, I only regret the loss of my second response concerning the percentage of fossils found.

The last post that was censored was perhaps not as polite as it could have been, but I hardly think it was “uncivil”. Rather, I found “uncivil” GilDodgen’s mimicry of a mathematical argument which never contained any math (“Another form of ADD”). Responding to my censored post, GD clarified that: (1) He never attempted to present a mathematical argument. He only wanted to mimic one. This was to make the point that (2) no math is required in assessing such self-evident matters.

I exercise my freedom of opinion by seriously doubting his claim (1) and by strongly opposing his claim (2). Such exercise of freedom is not tolerated at UD, however.

I may have been hasty concering your willingness to respond. But yes, I find UD a tad too hostile environment for constructive discussion. I was made to understand that I’m on the verge of being banned because I’m an uncivil troublemaker, which I find an unfair assessment if you e.g. compare DaveScot’s own comments to mine in the “speed of evo” thread. Also, quite a few of my posts spent like half a day in spam filter, to appear much later than posts by others that were submitted later. This made discussion inconvenient.

Salvador T. “Wormtongue” Cordova once again shows his hypocricy and cowardice:

I thought you were a bit abandoned by your comrades.

Sal, YOU were the one who wanted to move the debate onto a forum where caligula’s “comrades” – people who support evolution and disdain creationism – are clearly unwelcome. caligula wasn’t “abandoned,” he was cut off, which we all know is what you and your fellow creationists intended from the start.

You were quite valiant…

As if standing up for evolution on UD is an act of extraordinary bravery. He was certainly braver than you are here, to be sure.

If you would like to take RBH up on his offer at infidels, I am amenable. To make things simple, I’ll let you moderate the discussion where you are the inquisitor and I will respond to your questions. I that will make the negotiations for format a lot easier.

Why are you so hung up on prearranged and controlled debate formats? Don’t you feel confident enough to stand up for your views in an open forum such as PT, where plenty of knowledgeable people can contribute their insight to a debate? You know you’re perfectly free to come here anytime, post just about anything you want, and let it stand or fall on its own merits. That’s how things work in the real world: once an idea is out, you don’t get to choose who supports or debunks it. (Besides, you always end up coming here when things go wrong on UD anyway.)

The only provision is if I think the discussion is leading nowhere, I’ll call it quits, or we agree to disagree on a particular specific.

You do that all the time anyway: whenever an argument of yours gets debunked, or your dishonesty is plainly exposed, you disappear, with or without some pathetic parting insult; and no one can force you to respond in any blog. Why must you insist on permission to do what you can’t be stopped from doing?

caligula wrote:

Rather, I feel somewhat ashamed because I think there are more qualified people available, and because I doubt they would be as eager (as we are) in debating details that they are not formally qualified to debate.

(That’s modesty, Sal; are you familiar with the concept?) That’s an interesting point, Sal: why won’t you debate someone more knowlegeable than caligula? Can’t hold your own with the big guys?

Man up, Sal. Stop pretending you want a debate (maybe, if we promise to go easy on you and the Moon is in the right phase); and just start debating already. Put up or shut up.

Oh, one more thing, Sal. You alleged:

Those who have the ability and are in non-religious universities are reluctant to stick their necks out. Trust me, I know several pro-ID molecular geneticists. I dare not have them come forward for blogsphere exchanges, lest their identities be compromised. Not to mention, they care little for these sort of exchanges…

So now we’re back to crying about “persecution” as an excuse for ID’s total lack of substance. If any of these persecution stories were real, the victims – and their friends, and the entire right-wing media and blogsphere – would be shouting names, dates, places, and specific charges all over the world, as PROOF of persecution by the Evil Darwinist Establishment. That’s how dissidents in China and the USSR responded to persecution – and their LIVES were on the line, not just their jobs.

Your refusal to provide specific charges – let alone proof – indicates that you know it’s all made up.

And demanding that we trust you, after all the laughably transparent dishonesty we’ve seen from you, is both insulting and funny.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 23, column 4, byte 1142 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Sal flailed thusly:

I don’t intend to allow him to keep attributing statements to me which I never made or implied.

The way you linked “Darwinism” to the surgical mutilation of children? If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

Such a line of debate is disingenuous at best.

Which is why your word is worthless at best. Stop being a crybaby and start acting like a man.

Caligula:

I may have been hasty concering your willingness to respond.

Thank you.

But yes, I find UD a tad too hostile environment for constructive discussion. I was made to understand that I’m on the verge of being banned because I’m an uncivil troublemaker, which I find an unfair assessment if you e.g. compare DaveScot’s own comments to mine in the “speed of evo” thread. Also, quite a few of my posts spent like half a day in spam filter, to appear much later than posts by others that were submitted later. This made discussion inconvenient.

I valued your participation and your courage in visiting such a hostile an inconveniet place.

I felt your criticisms were fair and substantive, so much so I hope that people on my side of the discussion will study what you have to say. Your courage will help enlighten the readers on important counter-arguments which I think they should seriously consider.

I will continue to look into the criticisms you raised. I think they are worth addressing, especially soft selection and Haldane’s assumptions.

On behalf of the readers of UD who were interested in those topics, thank you for your participation there.

I valued your participation and your courage in visiting such a hostile an inconveniet place.

So now, after insisting on moving the debate to UD, you admit it’s a “hostile an inconvenient place.” That’s the most honest thing I’ve ever known you to say! Of course, you haven’t actually apologized for the hostility (which you implicitly condone by your continued presence as a contributor), nor did you take a meaningful stand against it; but hey, the journey of a thousand miles and all that…

I felt your criticisms were fair and substantive, so much so I hope that people on my side of the discussion will study what you have to say. Your courage will help enlighten the readers on important counter-arguments which I think they should seriously consider.

Wow – you’re not even accusing caligula of misrepresenting you, like you just accused Mark Chu-Carrol? caligula must have kicked your ass beyond any hope of obfuscation. Either that, or someone finally kick-started your sense of shame.

I will continue to look into the criticisms you raised. I think they are worth addressing, especially soft selection and Haldane’s assumptions.

Yep, sounds like it’s really over.

Sal Wrote:

Indeed check it out. Chu-Carroll is pathologically incapable of accurately representing my ideas and claims. He is forced to resort to strawman arguments and disingenous reprsentations of what I actually said. I called the readers to google and find statements Chu-Carroll attributed to me. Any success?

By all means check out the exchange:

Chu-Carroll vs. Cordova

I don’t intend to allow him to keep attributing statements to me which I never made or implied. Such a line of debate is disingenuous at best.

Yes, by all means, do come look at the comment thread over at my blog.

Sal’s idea of me attributing statements to him consists of my repeated request for him to mathematically define the “communication channel” that he repeatedly insists cannot carry enough information for evolution to occur.

What are the alleged misattributions?

After Sal babbled about communication channels and Shannon theory, I asked him for a mathematical definition of the Shannon channel. His reaction was “I never used the words Shannon channel” - thus avoiding the fact that he can’t do the math.

Repeat the above for various different phrasings of information channel. Including:

Sal Wrote:

“The concept that “aspects of evolution are modellable as a channel for information” is not equivalent to saying “evolution as communication on a channel”.”

Just continually weaseling to avoid the fact that he made the claim that when evolution is modeled as a communication channel, the capacity of that channel is insufficient for evolution. He made the claim - and all I’ve done is repeatedly ask him to show the math: define the communication channel, and show a computation of the capacity of that channel, to back up his claim.

Witness the resulting faux outrage as he desparately tries to avoid the fact that he can’t do the math.

Oh well, at least he’s getting your name right. Baby steps, baby steps…

Sal Wrote:

Indeed check it out. Chu-Carroll is pathologically incapable of accurately representing my ideas and claims. He is forced to resort to strawman arguments and disingenous reprsentations of what I actually said. I called the readers to google and find statements Chu-Carroll attributed to me. Any success?

By all means check out the exchange:

Chu-Carroll vs. Cordova

I don’t intend to allow him to keep attributing statements to me which I never made or implied. Such a line of debate is disingenuous at best.

At the risk of being uncivil, I must point out that Sal is lying. There is no other word to cover the case.

Sal has been asked to provide a mathematical definition of the channel of which he speaks so glibly, and of the amount of information it transmits.

He has been unable to do either.

Mark is correct: the bottom line here is that Sal, like Warren before him, resorts entirely to unsubstantiated claims about evolution that he cannot back up, cannot provide.

The worst part is that it’s math - something that Sal is supposed to know something about.

Truly, I recommend that anyone interested in seeing how scientifically ignorant and mathematically inept Sal is should read the post.

Sal looks like a fool.

And I haven’t even mentioned the faults in his logic. We can get to that.

Sal, you made a claim, a mathematical claim. You can either back it up or you can look like a laughingstock. Of course, you’re likely to look like a laughingstock either way.

Scarlet — What does ‘FOFOCD’ stand for?

But it is not clear to me that Sal is ‘lying’. To do that means to tell an untruth knowing that it is untrue. Perhaps you credit Sal with too much?

David Benson Wrote:

Scarlet — What does ‘FOFOCD’ stand for?

Friend Of a Friend of Charles Darwin. It’s a joke based on my usual posting name, “Rilke’s Granddaughter”. Why I’m going with the Scarlet right now, I don’t know. I’m in my Winter wardrobe, maybe? %:->

But it is not clear to me that Sal is ‘lying’. To do that means to tell an untruth knowing that it is untrue. Perhaps you credit Sal with too much?

This is the problem I always have with characterizing the behavior of various IDists: are they really as stupid as they appear to be? Or are they simply lacking in ethics?

In Sal’s case, it’s relatively straightforward to demonstrate that he routinely misrepresents what is being posted, that he routinely contradicts himself, that he routinely reacts to accusations that he’s a moron.

No really stupid person would be capable of such activity. So actually, I’m giving Sal the benefit of the doubt; I’m assuming that he’s reasonably intelligent (just incapable of exercising logic with regard to his fundamental assumptions), rather than assuming he’s just too stupid to understand that what Mark has asked for it very straightforward.

Besides, he’s done this before. There’s a marvelous old thread on www.kfcs.org where Sal is trying to discuss Walt Brown’s stuff. He ducks and weaves and evades for dozens of posts while various folks demolish his nonsense point by point. Once he’s finally brought to it, and has to ‘show the math’ he manages to get it wrong. I don’t have the link in my bookmarks, but you can find it by searching for ‘mantle plumes’ over at www.kfcs.org.

And then, of course, it turns out that his posting were based on a gross misunderstanding of Brown’s book anyway.

No, Sal can’t have it both ways: he’s either a liar, a lunatic, or a fool.

I’m trying to be charitable: I think Sal knows he’s lying and evading and being unChristian. I think that’s nicer than being called dumb. Just me, of course.

Scarlet — Thank you. Of your three alternatives, the second, if I have to choose…

But it is not clear to me that Sal is ‘lying’. To do that means to tell an untruth knowing that it is untrue. Perhaps you credit Sal with too much?

At the very least, Sal is lying when he pretends to know or understand something that he clearly does not. He’s been to school, he’s met knowledgeable people, and he ought to know the limits of his knowledge.

Incorrect statements made under this pretense of authority are not just ignorant, they’re part of his deliberate pretense. In Rumsfeldese (Rummese?), he’s taking what he knows to be a known-unknown (which may be a known-known to an actual scientist) and pretending it’s a known-known to him.

If I make a factual claim about the brain that turns out to be wrong, that’s either ignorance or a mistake. If I claim professional knowledge or in-depth study about the brain which I know I don’t really have, as in “trust me, I learned this in med school,” that’s lying.

Raging Bee — To each their own amateur diagnosis. Personally, I question the “ought to know the limits” bit. So I’ll stick with the loose screw hypothesis…

I admit, the ‘loose-screw’ concept is comforting - but it then raises the question of what constitutes sanity.

In a way, Sal and his even less salubrious (like that one?) cohorts are a manifestation of a very old war: one against reason itself. Science, considered as a discipline, is very young - less that five centuries separate us from fundamental irrationality. As long as the majority of the species finds reason and logic emotionally unsatisfying, a constant effort to throw the microscopes and compasses and computers back into the furnace will exist.

We live on borrowed time.

Scarlet — I beg to differ. Mathematics and astronomy date back at least 5500 years in Southwest Asia with similar times in Ancient Egypt.

Granted, the enlightenment brought forth quite a flowering of science. But the origins of rational inquiry extend back into pre-history, IMO.

Dave Wrote:

Scarlet — I beg to differ. Mathematics and astronomy date back at least 5500 years in Southwest Asia with similar times in Ancient Egypt.

Granted, the enlightenment brought forth quite a flowering of science. But the origins of rational inquiry extend back into pre-history, IMO.

But as a rationale discipline, rather than as an extension to religion or philosophy? I don’t think so. Science as science is a relatively recent invention (note that Egyptian mathematics was not concerned with the ‘theory’ of numbers, for example - merely with engineering problems.)

Oh, and Sal is still refusing to do anything more than look like a total chump over at Good Math/Bad Math. I’m going to use that link anytime Sal says anything stupid anywhere about his ability to actually use information theory to show anything.

Sorry Sal - you made the idiotic mistake of actually taking on someone who could handle the math. Now you’re indelibly etched as an incompetent. Not that you weren’t already?

The ancient astronomers wanted correct solutions to predict winter solstace and eclipses. And don’t knock the uses of mathematics in engineering. Both the Mesopotameans and the Egyptians were quite good at this.

Eventually, the classical Greeks developed especially plane geometry and also some number theory, all by 2300 years ago. Eudlid wrote it all down, organizing it quite beautifully in his “Elements”.

And all of the above was, and still is, completely rational. Naature has a way of not forgiving irrational solutions to engineering problems. Consider, for example, the pyramid at Meidum…

Oops, I hit Post before Check Spelling!

“solstice”

“Nature”

Scarlet & David: Don’t forget the advances made in math, medicine, and other sciences in the Islamic world prior to our Renaissance. (In fact, a good bit of our Renaissance was propelled by the translation of documents from Arabic to Latin starting in (IIRC) the tenth or eleventh centuries.)

And of course, the ancient Greeks gave us a lot in the way of rational inquiry, much of which was ignored or suppressed by both Christians and Muslims Hell-bent on ignoring St. Augustine’s advice.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 10, 2007 1:05 AM.

Why Do So Many Doctors Accept Evolution? was the previous entry in this blog.

More DI Distortions About Axe’s Research is the next entry in this blog.

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

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter