Dembski’s and Wells’s shenanigans - just a reminder


On November 19, 2007 a new book, The Design of Life, authored by William Dembski and Jonathan Wells, was released. Almost immediately a stream of reviews, all giving the book 5 stars (the highest positive evaluation possible for readers’ reviews on Amazon) started appearing on the Amazon website. On December 20, 2007, Wesley Elsberry posted a brief survey of the exaggerated acclaims of the book in question posted on Amazon by a bunch of ID advocates – acclaims bearing unmistakable signs of orchestration.

Elsberry’s survey could have been written even before this book appeared: the behavior of ID advocates follows a predictable pattern. Each time a new book by Dembski or Wells (or Behe, or any other of the Discovery Institute denizens) appears, their cohorts immediately start creating a ruckus, proclaiming the book in question the “end of Darwinism,” a great event in the history of humankind, destined to become a shining achievement in science, philosophy, sock mending, and culinary art.

Continue reading Dembski’s and Wells’s shenanigans - just a reminder, on Talk Reason.


The Design of Life is currently ranked 5253. 57 reviews. 2.5 stars. The most useful 5 star review is actually very sarcastic. Makes a great read! 1622 out of 1841 found the most critical review useful.

I picked Dawkins’ The God Delusion for comparison. It is currently ranked 207. 4 stars. 1048 reviews. 2,101 / 2,562 found the 5 star review useful. 53/86 people found the most critical review useful.

Dumbski is pathetic.

One reviewer from the DI (Tristan?) said the book had ‘beautiful photographs’.

There ya go, I’m sold!

At least one of those spiffy photographs used in violation of Harvard’s copyright. :)

Did it have a beautiful photograph of the “Designer”?And I don’t mean Wild Bill.

Note that every single ID book, like every single classic creationist book before it, was touted somewhere, by some fan (more often than not the authors themselves), as marking “the” end of “Darwinism.” After dozens (hundreds?) of such books, the pattern should be clear: each proclamation that “this” book marks the end of “Darwinism,” is by default a proclamation that every one before it was not the end of “Darwinism.” It probably won’t be in our lifetime, but sooner or latter most people will recognize the cry of “wolf” for what it is. In the meantime, the “boy” (from Texas) keeps on dancing.

Actually, the picture used doesn’t violate copyright (Harvard’s copyright, at least). It replaces one that would have violated the copyright. However, in true cdesign proponentsists fashion, they didn’t cover all their tracks when they replaced the picture - the footnote still refers to the Harvard video.

Thanks for the correction, Kevin. I apparently misread or misremembered something a week or so ago.

Did it have a beautiful photograph of the “Designer”?

Or a photograph of the design process? If not, perhaps a photograph of a ‘theoretically’ detected ‘intelligent design’? Perhaps Dembski can enlighten us how he calculates the uncertainty of his “Explanatory Filter” when it does so.


Good luck in trying to get an answer from Dembski. I’ve asked him three times - twice, in person, after the 2002 American Museum of Natural History Intelligent Design debate and once, in reply to an unsolicited e-mail I received from him - how he would calculate the confidence limits for his explanatory filter. Since this is a basic statistics question, I expected an answer from him, especially when he has a M. S. degree in Statistics from the University of Illinois, Chicago. But three times he has refused to offer any answer, period.

Best regards,



Actually, asking for confidence limits is the more astute question, as the uncertainty probably is specified by Dembski’s UPB.


Dear Torbjorn,

You wouldn’t think that “asking for confidence limits is the more astute question” (I concur with you) in light of the inane comments about that very question that were posted recently at Uncommon Descent. It seems quite obvious to me that no one over there truly understands statistics.



John, when you asked Mr Dembski in person, what was his response?

Was there any hemming and hawing involved or did he ignore you?


There was a little “hemming and hawing”, but mostly stony silence. That’s why I asked him that question twice. He looked at me as if I was some kind of fool. The third time I asked him that question - in reply to an unsolicited e-mail I had received from him, which was in reply to my request for a review copy of “The Design of Life” - he ignored me completely. That speaks volumes to me about his “alleged” expertise in probability theory and statistics.

Best regards,


I now get the distinct impression that Mr Dembski got his doctorates in a box of Cracker Jacks.

It seems quite obvious to me that no one over there [Uncommon Descent] truly understands statistics

Of course they don’t. I observed years ago that no creationist I met ever understood statistics, and nothing has ocurred since to refute that position. I recently had a creationist sympathizer claim a certain event, due to its extreme improbability, confirmed his god hypothesis. Yet when I asked him to show me his probability calculations, he acted like the question was completely beside the point.

They really don’t get it, and they never will. They couldn’t be creationists if they did.

I wonder which publishing house took the risk of publishing his rehashed trash?

Here’s a mere example demonstrating how a committed IDiot like Kairosfocus understands probability theory and statistics (an excerpt from the Uncommon Descent post on negative reviews of “The Design of Life”):

Hi Larry:

I checked. Mr Kwok’s “review” has been there for some days now.

Here is my — slightly cleaned up and with a link to my always linked discussion on the Judge’s decision — remark on it when I looked at the then four negative reviews, Dec 20 inst (and I had not realised that this was a particularly controversial “review”):

3] John Kwok, NY — a sadly familiar name. He starts by favourably citing the infamous decision by Judge “Copycat” Jones, apparently not realising that this thinly disguised ACLU screed based on Forrest’s slanders, out right falsehoods and errors, as well as misrepresentations, is its own indictment. After piling up quotes from this dubious source, he calls for action: “decision which was, without question, a staggering blow to both the Discovery Institute’s Intelligent Design advocates, and to many others, who, regrettably, still harbor ample, rather disingenuous, pretensions to asserting the scientific validity of an idea that was soundly rejected once before, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and deserves its widespread current repudiation by modern scientists.” He then proceeds to give his side of personal exchanges with WD etc, and tries to imply that Dr Dembski doesn’t understand statistics. [As in: what are the confidence limits on the EF? Mr Kwok, I would think that the UPB has long since shown the edge of chance for cases of functionally specified complex information. Why not try out my always linked, App 1 section 6 for a discussion on what it means based on basic statistical thermodynamics principles?] (EDITORIAL NOTE: This is mere pseudostatistical nonsense pretending to be statistics, Kairosfocus.)

In short, this is a case of unjustified personal attack, propagation of what Mr Kwok should know is blatant and slanderous misrepresentation and associated tyrannical miscarriage of justice carried out in the teeth of easily accessible facts to the contrary, AND it is coming from a Judge who under the US Constitution as properly understood, simply has not got jurisdiction on what he claims to be ruling on.

It is certainly NOT a well-structured, fair minded book review.

(Had someone dared to hand to me such a disrespectful travesty under the false colours of “a book review” as a General Studies assignment in the days when I taught GP to sixth formers, I would have sent it back for reworking from scratch, I would not even have graded it! But then, under Brit style libel law jurisdictions, Mr Kwok would probably long since have been on the way to mortgage his house and land to pay off fines and expenses incurred …)

IMHCO, the “review” should not be hosted at Amazon.

Those who are so uncivil that they can’t see why, are telling us a lot about themselves.

Not to mention, also about why it would be dangerous to give such evo mat- driven secularists further power over the public square and key science, education and governmental institutions.

What was that about “long train[s] of abuses and usurpations,” again … ?


After reading this inane post from the “enlightened” Kairosfocus, I trust you’ll go ahead (and persuade others too) to vote yea for my review of “The Design of Life”; the very review which that Discovery Institute Fascist Billy Dembski tried to suppress earlier this month.

My best wishes to you all for a happy new year.



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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on December 26, 2007 5:13 PM.

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