No Compromise. I agree

| 48 Comments

On UcD BarryA writes

But science does not work that way. Scientific conclusions rarely run along a continuum. They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them. Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.

Since there are no scientific conclusions, or contributions from ID, it seems that NDE has won by default. Of course, the challenger was overheard bragging how it would defeat NDE in the weeks leading up to the ‘match’ but when it came to actually defending ID, it decided to withdraw. Sounds like ID to me.

What has ID done for science lately?

Father of ID Phillip Johnson agrees that ID has failed so far

I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.

48 Comments

What is NDE, please? I hate it when someone uses abbreviations without defining them! STOP THAT!

Dale Husband:

What is NDE, please? I hate it when someone uses abbreviations without defining them! STOP THAT!

Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t have the faintest idea what this article is about.

NDE: Neo Darwinian Evolution

Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove

If I were Johnson I’d be pissed off at “the scientific people” who, year after year, have taken the CRSC’s money and failed to deliver a “positive theory”.

Is relativity Neo Newtonian Motion? Or something like that? What is wrong with evolution or evolutionary synthesis.

PvM said:

NDE: Neo Darwinian Evolution

Aw. I lose, too. I thought it meant “naturalistic Darwinian evolution”.

You know what I immediately thought of when I read BarryA’s comment?

But religion does not work that way. Religious conclusions rarely run along a continuum. They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them. Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the religious debate don’t make sense to me. [Christianity is 100% true, and all other religions are 100% false.]

Sorry, Barry, you’re confusing “science” with “religion”. And you’re an IDist? Shocking.

What is NDE, please? I hate it when someone uses abbreviations without defining them! STOP THAT!

Do you demand that ID be defined too? Or only abbreviations that you personally are not familiar with?

As for me, I thought that NDE stood for “non-directed evolution”. Yes, I agree, all those acronyms are pure silliness, or perhaps just laziness (too many words to type?). Of course there’s no problem for “ID” which is almost a trademark (they should register it).

Apart from that, I’m floored by Philip Johnson’s statement. I don’t know about you, but I’m not used to this kind of lucid and frank analysis coming from ID proponents! Kudos to the guy, for once.

This isn’t a textbook or a video documentary - it’s the Internet. It’s the medium of clickable links. It shouldn’t be hard for sites like PT to maintain a glossary of these abbreviations and link to them whenever one is used. It should be the easiest thing in the World (Wide Web). (The Other Ian)

PvM,

Your comments are even more ominous for anti-evolution pseudoscience when put in the context of classic creationism (YEC and OEC). Unlike ID they dare to make testable hypotheses regarding what the designer did and when, and they sometimes debate their differences as real scientists do. The steady retreat into “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a virtual admission that mainstream science has won by default.

Non-destructive evaluation, anyone?

As one who is trying to break the habit, I agree that, in recent years the use of abbreviations and acronyms has gotten out of control.

Frank J: I agree that, in recent years the use of abbreviations and acronyms has gotten out of control.

I hear you brother.

Just take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nIUcRJX9-o

I rest my case.

The problem is that not all the commenters on the Panda’s Thumb are good writers. Some are (Myers) and some aren’t (van Meurs). Unfortunately the bad writers overwhelm the good writers with the volume of their submissions.

There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable.

The wizards of ID, all the theorists and their loyal following of proponents, really don’t need to produce a ground up theory. While their public relations approach has failed and their “teach the controversy” have also run into problems the application of standard evolutionary theory to their problem has the best chance for some success. Co-option in several forms is the best bet for IDs success. While quote mining is a longtime favorite and is relatively easy to produce it is also relatively easy to challenge and discount. Pubjacking a phenomena that seems to be gaining favor with a subset of the more scientifically literate ID proponents is fairly amusing. Simple pubjacking involves scanning papers for ID friendly words and then declaring the paper ID stealth research but is a simplistic approach. Another form somewhat more sophisticated form involves reinterpreting data or pull out small snippets from newly published papers and using it to support larger co-option claims. This is perhaps best represented by the “junk DNA” claims by the ID. By co-opting an area of study and then co-opting research, ID theorists and proponents need only craft a message based on current research and not create any unique theory of their own. Over time I suspect other areas of research will be co-opted and used to support ID claims.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

I kind of have to agree with the above. Does PvM really need to respond to every brainfart from any random clod over at UD? This doesn’t really add anything we didn’t know anyway, and is the equivalent of Nelson Muntz going “HAW haw!”

Isn’t the ATBC thread intended for things like this? I come to PT for information on which school boards are under attack from creationists, or to find out if Dembski et al. have come up with any noteworthy new tactics. I don’t think it should be for shooting fish in a barrel.

Just my two cents, hope PvM doesn’t take offense.

Hello, and forgive me for not commenting directly on your article, but rather, indirectly on most of your articles. When I first started reading your Web site, it was as intriguing as it was varied. Sadly, the same description holds true today, except that it no longer seems to vary. There are a few posts here and there discussing a few interesting facets of evolution. I feel that you spend too much time posting diatribe after insult after attack on so-called Intelligent Design. I understand that someone has to be a champion for rational scientific thought, but you have finally lost my interest.

I will check back in a few months, and I hope to see a return to solid scientific discussion that isn’t focused on proving that the “other guy” is an idiot.

I mean no insult to you, your site, or its readers. I genuinely feel that this is, or was, one of the better scientific sites on the Web. If the opinion of one person holds weight with you, at least self-examine and make sure you’re where you want to be.

Thanks for so many good articles.

~Wolven.

Re: NDE

Some feel it necessary to refer to “neo-Darwinian” evolution because regular ol’ Darwinian evolution left open the possibility for some kind of directed (Lamarck-style) changes. Later versions explicitly ruled out anything besides undirected (i.e. blind) generation of variation and so is called “neo” to distinguish it from the original. So, Christophe’s comment above was pretty close with “non-directed evolution.”

My understanding is that Darwin allowed for the possibility of directed changes because 1) he did not know that they did not happen, and 2) he needed to speed up the pace of evolution in order to fit it into the assumed age of the earth at that time (something like a few hundred million years, I think).

Nice article, PvM. I like how you take on the idiotic comments made by UD “leadership” and continue to point out the lunacy that goes on there.

Exposing pseudoscience and creationism that’s being packaged as science is very important work and those who’d rather read something else are free to, well, read something else.

Chris

Frank J: As one who is trying to break the habit, I agree that, in recent years the use of abbreviations and acronyms has gotten out of control.

Too many TLA’s out there. (Three Letter Acronyms)

But science does not work that way. Scientific conclusions rarely run along a continuum. They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them.

This isn’t correct. All scientific conclusions are provisional. They can and will be modified, improved, or tossed in light of any new data collected that warrants such.

It isn’t so much between truth and error as between objective reality and beliefs. No matter what one believes, the real world is the real world and facts are facts. We don’t get to vote on what reality is.

If your beliefs aren’t in accord with reality, reality won’t know, care, or adjust itself.

PS The critical attacks on PvM by the concern trolls are just…concern troll babbling. If a post on PT doesn’t look interesting, anyone is free to just skip it. Oddly enough, after Dover, the fundie attacks on science are escalating. They have clearly taken over a few state governments, SC and Texas among them.

I thought it meant Neo Darwinian Evolution, but what if it doesn’t help us out from using these

My understanding is that Darwin allowed for the possibility of directed changes because 1) he did not know that they did not happen, and 2) he needed to speed up the pace of evolution in order to fit it into the assumed age of the earth at that time

Darwin, lacking the roughly contemporary pioneering work in genetics by Mendel, didn’t know much at all about inheritance save that the mechanism was discrete rather than continuous. Acquired characteristcs were in the air at the time, so he didn’t rule out the idea, but I don’t think he had much affection for it either.

As for NDE, I prefer MET if a TLA must be employed.

Actually, I thought MET overwrote NDE - Am I wrong?

NDE:

Neo Darwinian Evolution Non Directed Evolution Natural Darwinian Evolution

(Actually, it’s only an acronym if you can pronounce it. NASA, SCUBA, and FUBAR are acronyms; FBI, IRS, and TLA are initials or abreviations.)

In the area of testing and evaluation of materials, NDE refers to nondestructive evaluation.

I also find the proliferation of acronyms has become a bit sloppy. I think there is a kind of etiquette that is supposed to go along with their use, namely, always introduce the acronym near the beginning of its use and then use the acronym in its proper context. For example, “Neo Darwinian Evolution (NDE) refers to the …”. Or, “Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) consist of …”. Then throw in a couple of reminders later in the paper in which they are being used.

Acronyms really do save a lot of writing, but they get overused even within the context of single papers in which so many are introduced that, by the time one gets well into the paper, it becomes difficult to remember them all.

Proper use is good, but overuse is confusing. Besides, the same acronym can stand for many different things depending on the field in which it is used. Articles for the layperson should always use them sparingly and carefully.

It’s a little like that artificial rule “Thou shalt not verbify nouns”. Why let the Germans have all the fun?

Back on topic; if the recent political activities of some of the ID/Creationists are any indication, the vacuity of intelligent design is not going to be a deterrent for the grass roots effort. Some of their rhetoric suggests they think that their losses in court simply mean that they have to fight more viciously and with no holds barred against a wily evolutionist enemy. They aren’t getting the message that ID was a sham right from the beginning.

Bill Gascoyne Wrote:

Actually, it’s only an acronym if you can pronounce it.

That’s the “official definition” but the definition must be “evolving” because most people these days insist on using it for abbreviations that can’t be pronounced. But as with my efforts with “creationism” and ID, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle.

I may have just given up with “acronym,” but for the ‘kinds’ of creationism that, unlike ID, actually take a position on biological history (& thus make testable hypotheses) I now say “classic creationism.” I may concede the “evolution” of definitions, but I refuse to be unclear, because that’s exactly what anti-evolution activists want.

Robert Pennock, in “Tower of Bable” writes about the fascinating parallel of linguistic and biological evolution.

Frank J Wrote:

That’s the “official definition” but the definition must be “evolving” because most people these days insist on using it for abbreviations that can’t be pronounced. But as with my efforts with “creationism” and ID, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle.

I was under a similar impression, but apparently Merriam-Webster 11th Edition has “evolved” as well.

From Merriam-Webster,

also: an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters :INITIALISM

I don’t know the rationale for this other than perhaps things like FBI are so common that the sound of FBI has become a three-syllable “word” in itself.

“I will check back in a few months, and I hope to see a return to solid scientific discussion that isn’t focused on proving that the “other guy” is an idiot.”

The Thumb isn’t a general science blog. It is specifically focused on combating the attempts by creationists to subvert science. There are straightforward science sites out there such as Darren Naish’s excellent “Tetrapod Zoology” blog.

I suspect that as blogs about science have become more common, straight science posts are found in a person’s own blog while their posts dealing with the creationist assault on science would be here.

Am I the only one who has a problem with the expression “neo-Darwinian”? What does it refer to? As far as I can tell, the anti-evolution opposition is not particularly interested in fine details of evolutionary theory, so in the “controversy”, there is no reason to refer to “Darwinism” or “neo-Darwinism”. As far as I can tell, all that those labels serve is as a personification of the evils of accepting evolution.

Anyway, “neo-Darwinism” - doesn’t that just mean the “modern synthesis” of the 1940s?

Anyway, “neo-Darwinism” - doesn’t that just mean the “modern synthesis” of the 1940s?

The synthesis (with Mendelian genetics, as the two were seen to be in conflict in the 20’s and 30’s by some “Mendelians”), as well as a recognition that more mechanisms are involved than natural selection. Of particular importance, I think, are the concepts of speciation that arose out of Population Genetics around this time.

Heck, NDE could be PFE (Post-Fisherian Evolution) -let’s cut Darwin out of the equation all together.

CJO Wrote:

Heck, NDE could be PFE (Post-Fisherian Evolution) -let’s cut Darwin out of the equation all together.

From what I read of Darwin, he wouldn’t mind that in the least. In fact I’m pretty sure he’d despise “Darwinism” or “Neo-Darwinism.” I refuse to use them too because anti-evolution activists love to bait-and-switch two meanings. If every defender of mainsream science would just stop using those words, they’d deprive the activists of their favorite rhetorical tool.

Phillip Johnson is absolutely correct; there is no “theory of intelligent design at the present time.”

Robert Crowther is a member of the staff of Discovery Institute ( http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]e&id=215 ). In an article titled “Help Support Academic Freedom by Supporting Discovery Institute,” Mr. Crowther refers to intelligent design as “the scientific theory of intelligent design” ( http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/1[…]s_month.html ). As of this date, that so-called scientific theory is still missing-in-action.

The website maintained by Discovery Institute does not include a definition of intelligent design. It does include Casey Luskin’s opinion that an “intelligent cause” is the “best” explanation for “certain features of the universe and of living things. “ However, Mr. Luskin’s opinion does NOT constitute a definition of intelligent design.

Discovery Institute does not presents a definition of intelligent design because intelligent design cannot be put into the form of a cause-and-effect hypothesis that can be subjected to scientific evaluation. Intelligent design is “the concept that the order and complexity seen in nature must be the result of a rational design, as by God, and that natural processes such as evolution are insufficient to account for them entirely” ( http://www.yourdictionary.com/intelligent-design ). Intelligent design includes the doctrine that “nature MUST BE the result of rational design.” This doctrine is a religious doctrine and it cannot be subjected to scientific investigation.

Bruce Chapman is the founder and president of Discovery Institute. When his Institute refers to the concept of intelligent design as a “scientific theory” it is willfully propagating a lie. Discovery Institute’s “scientific theory of intelligent design” is pure propaganda.

I came across this link to the Dishonesty Institute “scientists who are skeptical about Darwinism”.

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]d&id=660

The pdf file says it was last updated in Oct 2007 and it runs for some 17 pages. Around 600 or 650 names. Most are electrical engineers or PhD in comp. sci. or some such field and many are from outside USA too.

But there are a number of molecular biologists and some biologists too who have signed the DI’s statement. Some are from famous schools like M.I.T too. Talkorigins.org says the original statement is a straw man argument and so this list is meaningless.

Given the track record of lies and cheating by DI, how much of the list is really true? Should we try to contact the signatories and ask them to explain further?

Just the biologists. The rest don’t really matter.

Do they support ID? Whatever is the weakness in Modern Evol Theory, is there any thing better in their opinion? Are they aware that their name, and univ affiliation is being trumpeted by DI? Have their position changed since they signed it?

Is it a good idea to ask them to explain their alleged signature a little better?

That’s a great idea, Ravilyn.

I know there was a post here a year or two ago ago where one biologist, when told of the DI’s true intentions, retracted his name from the statement. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the DI is still keeping his name on the list. I forget the name; I’m sure the post can be found with a bit of searching.

The trouble is that the statement itself is something that any thoughtful scientist could agree to: that “random mutation and natural selection” cannot alone account for the diversity of life. This is because those biologists would be aware of other mechanisms – they think this statement might be referring to genetic drift, for example. What they don’t realize is that the DI is [i]really[/i] referring to “magic man done it.”

One of the latest UD follies is they all think you can close the Uni’s down cause a layman’s ideas about any subject is just a good as someone who has dedicated a large part of their lives training and working at Uni and else where. Read a couple of popular books about a subject maybe a bit a surf of the internet and Bobs your Uncle.

Ravilyn Sanders Wrote:

Is it a good idea to ask them to explain their alleged signature a little better?

How about asking the questions I ask of all new posters who have problems with “Darwinism”? The ones that ~90% simply evade, and which only hard core YECs and OECs (and/or trolls) answer - but never, ever without trying to change the subject back to their personal problems with “Darwinism”:

1. Whether or not you think that “RM + NS” is the mechanism for species change, do you think that humans are biologically related to (share common ancestors with) dogs? dogwoods? both? neither? Please clearly pick one of the 4 choices. A best guess will do if you are honestly unsure.

2. Do you agree that life has been on Earth continuously for 3 to 4 billion years, as do nearly all scientists and many anti-evolutionists? If not, what is your best estimate (a number not a range) for the age of life on Earth?

Oh, and just for the pleasure of muddying the water a little bit more : to my knowledge, the most usual meaning of NDE is “near death experience”.

A big “d’oh!” to Christophe Thill.

Something was nagging in the back of my mind when I said “non-destructive evaluation” because the more common phrase is NDT (…testing), yet “NDE” sounded just as familiar.

Bill Gascoyne Wrote:

(Actually, it’s only an acronym if you can pronounce it. NASA, SCUBA, and FUBAR are acronyms; FBI, IRS, and TLA are initials or abreviations.)

I wholeheartedly concur.

WRT TLAs, I consider “NDE” to be an anachronism. “Neo-Darwinism” was the fusion of Darwinian evolutionary theory with Mendelian inheritence, plus some other new odds and ends that had been discovered in the late 19th / early 20th century.

After the structure of DNA had been determined and the genetic code worked out, evolutionary theory became the “modern synthesis” to accommodate the new findings.

Since then, we have had puntuated equilibria, which is now incorporated into modern evolutionary theory. So I prefer the abbreviation MET.

Nigel D:

WRT TLAs, I consider “NDE” to be an anachronism. “Neo-Darwinism” was the fusion of Darwinian evolutionary theory with Mendelian inheritence, plus some other new odds and ends that had been discovered in the late 19th / early 20th century.

After the structure of DNA had been determined and the genetic code worked out, evolutionary theory became the “modern synthesis” to accommodate the new findings.

Since then, we have had puntuated equilibria, which is now incorporated into modern evolutionary theory. So I prefer the abbreviation MET.

I have noticed that you prefer MET (Modern Evolutionary Theory, if I remember the acronym correctly). I see the problem with neo-something and modern something in that they won’t be new or modern in their present form one hundred years from now. At least, I expect that new bits and pieces will be added. Thus, new definitions and maybe new acronyms need to be coined to describe the differences between the the present understanding and the possibly different future understanding.

Maybe we should try to include all the major components and end up with something like RMNSMIGCPE, or something even longer than that. Well, not very appealing either…

Regards

Eric

I see the problem with neo-something and modern something in that they won’t be new or modern in their present form one hundred years from now.

Hence the oxymoron “post-modern”. (Like it involves a crystal ball or something.)

Aha, yes, but the beauty of calling modern evolutionary theory “modern” is that you will always be referring to the latest, i.e. up-to-date, version of the theory. :-)

But then if there are any major adjustments, we’ll have to find a new name for the current version.

D’oh!

I do happen to go and agree that this world is more than a few billion years old. This is because there is scientific facts to go and support that. As far as the useless primitive antievolutionts and their favorite bait and switch move if we go and answer if we trust science and fact then we have gone and taken their favorite weapon to go and use against pro evolutionists like us and they don’t want to admit that Darwin and his theory of evolution was right and nothing more.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on December 18, 2007 10:44 PM.

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