Errors not corrected for three years point to incompetence

| 17 Comments

I believe it was a famous French philosopher who said that everybody can make mistakes but only a fool stubbornly adheres to them. The story I am going to tell now may serve as an illustration of the above maxim, with a small modification: although the term “fool” may still (arguably) reflect the situation, the term “incompetent” is applicable unarguably. The hero of the story is William Dembski.

Read Errors not corrected for three years point to incompetence at Talk Reason.

17 Comments

Some of the references to “alpha” show up as an inverted capital A.

Thanks, PvM: I’ve also noticed the typo (Greek alpha appears as an inverted capital A). I alerted the TR’s technical editor and hopefully she’ll fix it promptly. In the meantime I hope this small typo is not preventing understanding the story.

Alternatives include laziness, embarassment, although the best explanation could be that it does not really matter, most ID proponents would have no idea what Dembski is talking about, let alone how it applies to his arguments and claims and yet they would be touting him as God’s gift to mathematics. Although over time, the glue holding together Dembski’s “arguments” is giving in to its poor design and the pieces come tumbling down. The question really is, does it matter? More glue will be applied to patch it up, or promissory notes will be given that next time… you just wait… next time… If we only had the funding.… after all we are a minority… How many more excuses I wonder until ID proponents come to realize that they have been ‘had’?

The story I am going to tell now may serve as an illustration of the above maxim,

Not that we have any lack of illustrations of that maxim, on PT and AtBC… ;)

Henry

Well, Henry J, a hit and run comment? Specifics please. There is plenty of time and space to give us details of your claim. But maybe you don’t want to stoop to our pathetic level of detail.

Well, Henry J. A hit and run comment? Specifics please. There is plenty of time and space to elaborate on your claim. But maybe you don’t want to stoop to our pathetic level of detail.

Indeed, we have very good examples that as PvM says, it simply doesn’t matter for Dembski’s purposes that it’s technically wrong. In fact it’s probably in Dembski’s interest not to correct the error. He’s clearly not trying to impress knowledgeable people.

We had a good example of that with FtK at After the Bar Closes w/r/t Mike Behe’s latest book. We had a Mark Chu-Carroll essay explaining a basic calculus-type fatal problem with Behe’s argument. We had several people at AtBC who understand and can explain the problem, and who mentioned it to FtK. We had FtK admitting that she lacked the technical chops to examine Behe’s claim or our criticism. The outcome? She said it would be ‘silly’ to listen to us, because we don’t agree with ID, and said she assumes someone of mathematical expertise must have certified Behe’s argument. So there you have it. Dembski’s and Behe’s audience contains people who will believe them despite any external criticism. If you were Dembski, or Behe, in that situation, why would you admit to an error? Nothing we say can shake her confidence, but if Dembski or Behe were to admit that we found errors in their claims, well, that’s a much riskier action.

That’s why erroneous threads at Uncommonly Dense are deleted rather than corrected. The error must not be corrected by Darwinists. The error must not have occurred.

Well, Henry J, a hit and run comment? Specifics please. There is plenty of time and space to give us details of your claim. But maybe you don’t want to stoop to our pathetic level of detail.

Um, I believe that Henry was pointing out that there are numerous examples of errors posted at PT and AtBC by evolution deniers that have not corrected for three years or more. Are specifics really needed?

It’s a truism in the PR game that making errors is a Good Thing if those errors create the desired impression; admitting errors is always a Bad Thing. Always. Where credibility is the only game in town, why sacrifice it? By observation, the key to power in the creationism world is to tell those lies to people that those people wish to hear. If you’re a biochemist, tell biological-sounding lies. If you’re a mathmatician, tell mathy-sounding lies.

Creationist sites disappear corrections rather than correct them only partly because the creationists are necessarily lying and defenses of lies are only more lies. The lies don’t really matter. What matters is that these lies not be positioned as debatable in the first place. Remember what Winston Smith did for a living - Orwell may have spent some time studying how creationists operate.

Recently, we have seen analyses of the scientific output of Gonzalez, Behe, and Marks, relative to their involvement with the ID movement.

My question is, when did Bill Dembski become a pseudo-mathematician? Has anyone read “Chaos, uniform probability, and weak convergence / by William A. Dembski.” since it was put on the University of Chicago library shelves in 1988? What about the other mathematical work on his CV? Both of them!

What matters in Dembski’s work isn’t the math, it’s the mathiness.

I believe it was a famous French philosopher who said that everybody can make mistakes but only a fool stubbornly adheres to them.

Actually it was Cicero, in the Philippics. The exact quote is:

Cuiusvis hominis est errare. Nullius nisi insipientis perseverare in errore.

(“Any man may err. None but a fool will persist in the error.”)

David vun Kannon: Perhaps you may find some material relevant to your question in refs [2] and [3] to the essay starting this thread.

Mark, I think David was being sarcastic, especially when he mentioned Dembski’s publications in his CV as “Both of them!”

Noncarborundum: Thanks for the quotation from Cicero. As often is the case, in Latin original it sounds more succinct an apt thna in translation.

Brian: Whether vun Kannon’s comment was sarcastic or not, the question itself was legitimate. The references I quoted show Dembski’s level of math prowess for what it is, not by declaration but by actual telling examples.

Mark, but to be fair to Dembski, we should only look at the progress of his peer reviewed publications - in the same manner as done with Gonzalez, Marks, and Behe. What did Dembski do with his NSF grant? It looks like he decided to become a populist mathematician in 1990 and hasn’t looked back.

ID is so closely identified with Dembski, but he didn’t always believe it. There may have been a point before his first meeting with Phillip Johnson that he desired and actually worked towards academic legitimacy. Or was even his thesis a hack job?

And then there is the persistent non-description of Dawkins’s “weasel” program that Dembski has been pushing for over seven years now after directly being told that he got it wrong.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on October 15, 2007 7:13 PM.

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