Vacuity of ID: Luskin, Miller, Dembski… Huh?


Just when you believe that ID activists could not shoot themselves in the foot any further, Casey Luskin comes to the rescue, and Dembski decides to add some fuel to the smoldering fire. So what is going on this time that ticked of our friends at the Ministry of Media Complaints at the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Religion? At Red State Rabble, Pat Hayes and at the Austringer Wesley Elsberry explain Casey Luskin’s misplaced ‘outrage’ and show how once again, poor reading and listening skills (see also my previous posting about Dembski mangling Darwin) allow ID activists to create yet another strawman.

While ID is busy with their theological arguments, science is still waiting patiently for ID to present a scientific case ever since ID was found and ruled to be scientifically vacuous.



I emailed Dr. Miller about this matter and here is his response (he gave me permission to post it):

Dear Jeremy,

Thanks very much for your note. I apologize for the day long delay in answering. I spent much of today debating ID with John West of the Discovery Institute (at a conference in New Hampshire), and that slowed me down a bit. Also, before replying I wanted to look at the portion of the BBC documentary in which these comments were made to refresh my memory. I also reviewed the transcript of my testimony in the Dover trial.

If you take care to read my actual words, you will discover that the name “Dembski” does not appear in them. I was not referring to any specific argument made by Bill Dembski when I made those comments, so the notion that I was “distorting” or “misrepresenting” him is absurd. How can you misrepresent someone if you never refer to them?

I was interviewed by the BBC Horizons series more than a year ago, and I do not remember the exact question that prompted my response on the issue of probability. It’s clear, however, that all I was addressing was a general argument one hears from many ID supporters in which one takes something like a particular amino acid sequence, and then calculates the probability of the exact same sequence arising again through mere chance. I generally decline to answer questions about Dembski’s “complex specified information,” and that’s exactly what I did at the Dover trial (see end of message for part of the trial transcript demonstrating that point).

Unfortunately, the narration in the BBC program implies that I addressed Dembski’s ideas in my trial testimony (which I did not), and then offers my general response as an apparent example of how I handled those ideas. This does mislead the viewer, and it’s unfortunate that the BBC chose to imply I had testified on something I did not. This, however, is a fault in the editing of the program, something over which neither I nor Bill Dembski (who also appears in the program) had any control.

However, the Discovery Institute’s claim that I had misrepresented Dembski is absolutely false, and they should know better.


Ken Miller

PS: Please note how I actually reacted to questions regarding Dembski’s ideas when Richard Muise (attorney representing the Dover Board) brought them up in my cross examination:

[link to relevant testimony]

Dembski still seems to think that, in addition to low probability, “specification” is necessary to infer design. But he doesn’t justify his calculations of probabilities and he doesn’t justify who gets to specify or how some specification is determined to be relevant. His probability calculations assume processes of assembly that no one believes, yet he continues to ignore this. Why does he think that the appearance of all the various organisms we see in Nature imitates his example of the purposeful construction of an English sentence with a bunch of stones? Who decides that purpose is involved? What does he think evolutionary processes are aiming for? What does he think would happen if evolutionary history were rerun? Would any resulting creature be justified in declaring it was the specified outcome of the process, or just the ones we see currently existing on planet Earth? How do his results change if life is discovered elsewhere?

It still doesn’t appear that Dembski is addressing any real issues. By now he should have done enough reflection to cross-check himself. He apparently has not. He still seems to be propagating the same misconceptions and dodges that are rampant among his followers.

Does anyone know why this has come up now?

The documentary in question is over a year old (I think).

BTW, Jeremy… My compliments for going to the source (Dr. Miller).

I had watched the video tape.

Dr. Miller was right, the editing job made it seem like he was talking about Dr. Dembski’s EF.

Can we talk about science now?

Provoking Thought

Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math also rubs Luskin’s nose in it:[…]tes_clue.php

Does anyone know why this has come up now?

The DI is always a little slow on the uptake.

Took them ~year to get bitchy with Chris Mooney over ‘The Republican War on Science.’

Maybe before they get mad at someone, they give him a trial period so the Unnamed Intelligent Designer had a chance to strike him down with lighting? I mean, it wouldn’t be POLITE to assassinate his character before giving chance to the party who was (according to them) REALLY offended.

ERV Wrote:

Took them ~year to get bitchy with Chris Mooney over ‘The Republican War on Science.’

Lest anyone think that this is a neat “liberal-conservative” debate, it has been 7 years since Paul Gross compared their antics to that of the far left. If they did reply at all, I’d bet that it was no more than a baseless “Gross misunderstands ID” whine before moving on to safer turf.

Re “I mean, it wouldn’t be POLITE to assassinate his character before giving chance to the party who was (according to them) REALLY offended.”

Why would the presumed party need additional time if he/she/it wanted to smite (or whatever) the culprit? ;)


Because Jes…The Designer works in mysterious ways, except when it comes to biology, in which case he clearly doesn’t use evolutionary mechanisms.

Have you got other reference about that, please. Kourech

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 24, 2007 3:12 PM.

Vacuity of ID: Dembski Channeling Colbert? was the previous entry in this blog.

A Word About Intelligent Design Creationism is the next entry in this blog.

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