Scientific Integrity: Science, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

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The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a six section overview on Science, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Section 1: Science as a Way of Knowing
Section 2: Science and Society
Section 3: Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
Section 4: Why Intelligent Design is not Science
Section 5: Science Education and Intelligent Design
Section 6: Fairness and Balance in the Classroom and Beyond

I would add another section on the scientific vacuity or infertility of Intelligent Design. Ask yourself this simple question: What non-trivial contribution has Intelligent Design made to our scientific understanding? And ask you then a follow-up question: For those systems which ID claims to be designed, how does ID explain these systems?

The answers, or lack thereof, may surprise you.

HT: NCSE

113 Comments

Actually, this statement was released back in September of last year. I remember seeing it months ago on the UCS website.

I’m hardpressed to think of even a single trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to science.

indeed, the extreme animal rights groups up in Berkeley were idiots, but at least a better appreciation of proper animal husbandry came out of their “efforts”.

I think you’re right. I too cannot think of a singled, blasted, thing that the concept of intelligent design has contributed to science.

OTOH, I think it safe to say that it HAS created activists out of a lot of scientists, who have finally tired of the BS these morons are pushing.

so, no contribution to science, but a backhanded contribution to scientists, I guess, and in the end that will positively contribute to science.

kind of like thanking garbage for igniting interest in creating garbage dumps.

Stanton,if you can’t think of a single blasted thing that ID has contributed, it may be your inability to think. That is such an irresponsible and ignorant statement! Ishthyic,you may join with Stanton except that you electrify the response by injecting the good old evol practise of name calling ( idiots, garbage and morons). This adds so much more quality to the discussion while openly demonstrating your ignorance! Your last statement is prophetic while being pathetic i.e. thanking name calling for igniting interest in creating more name calling as a means of illustrating how evols need to scrape the bottom of the barrel in a futile and ineffective way to convince with out adding substance to the debate.

Ronald Cote said: Stanton,if you can’t think of a single blasted thing that ID has contributed, it may be your inability to think. That is such an irresponsible and ignorant statement!

Ronald - please go ahead and list the contributions of ID.

LOL

yeah, that WAS pretty funny!

“you guys are just ignorant of the many things that ID has contributed to science! Like, um.… well, I can’t think of any, but you guys are just WRONG!!!!!”

Ronald Cote:

Stanton,if you can’t think of a single blasted thing that ID has contributed, it may be your inability to think. That is such an irresponsible and ignorant statement!

Then, why do you insult me, rather than, say, actually providing an example of a trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science? Is this what Our Lord Jesus means by “love thy neighbor” or “turning the other cheek”? That you’re supposed to go around insulting people and make the Christian faith repulsive, rather than correcting mistakes they have made?

Ishthyic,you may join with Stanton except that you electrify the response by injecting the good old evol practise of name calling ( idiots, garbage and morons). This adds so much more quality to the discussion while openly demonstrating your ignorance!

If you actually knew how to read, and had actual, 3rd grade level reading comprehension skills, you would have realized that the only positive contribution that Ichthyic thinks that Intelligent Design has made is to make scientists more proactive in defending Science from active proponents of detrimental pseudoscience. That you ignore the content of Ichthyic’s posting in order to demean both him and I, openly demonstrates your own ignorance.

Your last statement is prophetic while being pathetic i.e. thanking name calling for igniting interest in creating more name calling as a means of illustrating how evols need to scrape the bottom of the barrel in a futile and ineffective way to convince with out adding substance to the debate.

Said by a guy who didn’t bother to contradict me by giving an example of a trivial positive contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science just so he can insult me.

That, and that the only thing that you’ve contributed to this debate is that proponents of Intelligent Design are incapable of engaging in actual debate, and must, instead, engage in pathetic, childish insults that demean themselves, and expose them to ridicule.

Ichthyic:

LOL

yeah, that WAS pretty funny!

“you guys are just ignorant of the many things that ID has contributed to science! Like, um.… well, I can’t think of any, but you guys are just WRONG!!!!!”

At least Ronald has sense enough not to lie about his alleged education this time around.

Hmm. How come IDiots are so eager to learn and parrot what scientists and informed persons have to say about pseudoscientific movements and antiscientific creationism in particular, but lose interest as soon as it comes to learning the science itself?

I second that - Ronald, name a single result from ID that is identifiable testable science and has been accepted by biology as a fruitful contribution.

Better yet, describe how the biologists you address fail to be cognisant of their own subject.

Ronald - please go ahead and list the contributions of ID.

This could be worth waiting for - Behe and Dembski haven’t figured that out yet! [Nitpicking but shouldn’t the request for ‘a’ contribution, just to give them a chance?]

In other words, Ronald, yes, I freely admit that I have called you an “idiot,” and have made frequent, blatant inferences that you are dishonest, as, they are responses to the facts that you have, on all of the occasions that I have come into contact with you, displayed (and continue to display) a gross ignorance of biology and of evolution that contradicted your boastful claims of having had a biology education, and of once being an “evolutionist,” as well as claiming that On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life did not explain speciation, but promoted racism. When I countered this claim, as well as making the point that, by making a claim like yours, you never read the book before, you, in turn, responded with “that’s stupid.”

And yes, I bring these things up every time, so that way, people know that you are a liar who Lies for Jesus Even Though Jesus Doesn’t Like It When People Lie For Him, and that nothing you say is trustworthy.

bjm:

Ronald - please go ahead and list the contributions of ID.

This could be worth waiting for - Behe and Dembski haven’t figured that out yet! [Nitpicking but shouldn’t the request for ‘a’ contribution, just to give them a chance?]

It’s unlikely that we will get anything out of Ronald beyond petty insults or his stale “scraping the bottom of the barrel” complaint.

The time I asked him about how one can use a literal interpretation of the Bible to interpret prehistoric organisms better than actually studying their fossils and or living relatives, he summarily dismissed my question by stating that paleontology is a useless endeavor.

Ronald, you are the perfect representative for ID. How about answering a few questions for us?

Is ID a scientific theory? What contributions has ID made to science? What research is going on now in the wonderful world of ID?

Go ahead. Please. Pretty please.

I do have to go and agree that ID is not a legitimate science because there is no factual evidence to go and support it. Seriously when did we let the stupid and uninformed(preachers, rabbis, and imams) go and dictate what we should be teaching? ID is not a legitimate science because it is taught with a clear agenda to indoctrinate people to believe in God. The fact is this it is not a legitimate science taught by scientists and no biblical scholars and biblical science do not even count worth fucking shit.

I do have to go and agree that ID is not a legitimate science because there is no factual evidence to go and support it. Seriously when did we let the stupid and uninformed(preachers, rabbis, and imams) go and dictate what we should be teaching? ID is not a legitimate science because it is taught with a clear agenda to indoctrinate people to believe in God. The fact is this it is not a legitimate science taught by scientists and no biblical scholars and biblical science do not even count.

John Wright said, “ID is not a legitimate science because it is taught with a clear agenda to indoctrinate people to believe in God.”

No, that statement isn’t correct. ID is not a legitimate science because it doesn’t have any testable hypotheses. Its position is, “if it looks designed, it is designed and since the Intelligent Designer is beyond our petty, human understanding, there’s nothing more we can do. (Except harrass legitimate scientists and science teachers and try to get money out of church groups, of course.)”

I’ve known several scientists who truly believed that having an understanding and appreciation of the natural world would bring people closer to God. But since these scientists proceeded according to the accepted scientific protocol of formulating testable hypotheses and rejecting the ones that failed, their results were still perfectly congruent with those of scientists who were committed atheists, or who didn’t care one way or the other.

Richard Wrote:

Ronald - please go ahead and list the contributions of ID.

I hope you don’t mind me answering for him, especially since I will not give the usual response of evading the question and changing the subject to “weaknesses” of “Darwinism.”

Anyway, ID, via Michael Behe, proposed in 1996 that a “designed first cell” appeared ~4 billion years ago, and contained all the cellular chemistry for all its descendants, which includes all extant life on Earth.

Yes, I know that ID has no official position, and even Behe has refused to commit to that particular one, much less test it, but it’s the only thing comparable that ID has ever offered. The other ~99.9999% of its contribution has been nothing but misrepresentation of evolution, and the totally useless “some designer did something at some time.”

Stanton,

actually providing an example of a trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science?

That is very difficult. However, one example might be the idea of galactic habitability zones. But I think that one would be hard pressed to argue that that was an ID result—although one might easily argue that it was ID motivated. In peer reviewed papers I have read on the subject, Gonzalez is generally given credit for the concept of large scale habitability zones, and the mere existence of such papers indicates that the concept has exceeded the “trivial” threshold.

heddle:

Stanton,

actually providing an example of a trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science?

That is very difficult. However, one example might be the idea of galactic habitability zones. But I think that one would be hard pressed to argue that that was an ID result—although one might easily argue that it was ID motivated. In peer reviewed papers I have read on the subject, Gonzalez is generally given credit for the concept of large scale habitability zones, and the mere existence of such papers indicates that the concept has exceeded the “trivial” threshold.

If the idea of galactic habitability zones weren’t a result of applying Intelligent Design “theory,” then how could it have been motivated by Intelligent Design “theory”?

If the idea of galactic habitability zones weren’t a result of applying Intelligent Design “theory,” then how could it have been motivated by Intelligent Design “theory”?

Once again, a failure to communicate. To the scientist, a result based on a theory means the theory made a prediction, the prediction was tested, and the test passed. To the creationist, the issue is whether a prediction based on a scientific theory is or is not deemed compatible with creationist doctrine.

I personally suspect that the “large scale habitibility zones” are quite speculative and based on numerous assumptions we have no way to validate. But they CAN be construed to imply that the Earth has passed another test required to produce (ahem) us, so Gonzalez’ god gets another feather in His cap. If scientific theory should later show that these habilitability zones only shape the construction of life in various parts of the galaxy, then “ID theory” can easily “unpredict” whatever is required.

heddle:

actually providing an example of a trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science?

That is very difficult. However, one example might be the idea of galactic habitability zones. But I think that one would be hard pressed to argue that that was an ID result—although one might easily argue that it was ID motivated. In peer reviewed papers I have read on the subject, Gonzalez is generally given credit for the concept of large scale habitability zones, and the mere existence of such papers indicates that the concept has exceeded the “trivial” threshold.

There is a big difference between arguing that the notion of galactic habital zones was the result of ID-creationism “theory” versus using ID concepts as the motivation for coming up with the concept. One could be motivated to do scientific work for any number of reasons, but the actual tools utilized must be in accord with methodological naturalism (i.e., the modern scientific method). And, as ID-creationism is defined by its own proponents, it does not meet this basic standard of science.

For you to, on the one hand, make the distinction between the result and the motivation, and then to go on and imply that ID-creationism “theory” has met some kind of “peer-review” threshold seems suspect to me. It seems like you’re trying to have it both ways.

You need to support your claim with evidence. Please show us any peer-reviewed article from a mainstream scientific journal which states, unequivocally, that “analysis via ID-theory results in galactic habital zones”, or something to that effect.

Flint: I personally suspect that the “large scale habitibility zones” are quite speculative and based on numerous assumptions we have no way to validate. But they CAN be construed to imply that the Earth has passed another test required to produce (ahem) us, so Gonzalez’ god gets another feather in His cap. If scientific theory should later show that these habilitability zones only shape the construction of life in various parts of the galaxy, then “ID theory” can easily “unpredict” whatever is required.

As I stated, this is yet another example of ID-creationism trying to have it both ways.

Matthew Lowry

For you to, on the one hand, make the distinction between the result and the motivation, and then to go on and imply that ID-creationism “theory” has met some kind of “peer-review” threshold seems suspect to me. It seems like you’re trying to have it both ways.

I implied no such thing. Stanton set the bar very low, a “trivial contribution”–not a prediction, not a result, etc. Well, galactic habitability zones are discussed in peer-reviewed papers and so I suggested that they are more than trivial; they are of actual scientific interest. I also suggested that they could not be easily argued as ID results, but possibly as motivated by ID, which only Gonzalez can answer. If you are suggesting that I am implying some sort of peer review threshold for ID theory was surpassed, then you attributing far more meaning to my comment that the actual words I wrote would warrant.

heddle said:

That is very difficult. However, one example might be the idea of galactic habitability zones. But I think that one would be hard pressed to argue that that was an ID result—although one might easily argue that it was ID motivated. In peer reviewed papers I have read on the subject, Gonzalez is generally given credit for the concept of large scale habitability zones, and the mere existence of such papers indicates that the concept has exceeded the “trivial” threshold.

So should we take this as a ‘no’ correct? Are there any other examples of the contributions ID has made? Would someone get tenure at an university if they had as much as ID to show for their efforts?

yet another example of ID-creationism trying to have it both ways

I can’t vouch for the thought processes behind any particular individual, but in general I would rather suspect “both ways” is primarily derived from the special pleading all religion is based on [“My gods are bigger and better than yours, na na!”] rather than an indelible mark of the old creationist scam.

As Flint reminds us, it is inherent in Gonzalez’ reasoning too. It pleads for the religious anthropic argument (a random planet has an a priori low probability as for life) as opposed to an anthropic principle (a large enough population of planets has an a posteriori high likelihood for life).

Btw, here fits the subject of a set of comments I made the other day. I can reveal the next big joke:

Creationist Guillermo Gonzalez, coauthor of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, apparently combines the Rare Earth hypothesis with a claim that Earth is a prime location for observations, to arrive at the conclusion that Earth is designed.

But now it appears that Earth is living on the edge of habitability, as it really is marginally large to support plate tectonics.

[This could explain why Venus have no plate tectonics as it lost the water that Earth dearly needs due to no magnetic field protection. Though this is debated. At least here on PT. :-P).

It could also explain why Earth plate tectonics have been completely stopped at times while waiting for the internal heat to build up from radioactivity until its rare active subduction zones redevelop.]

Another new problem for the Rare Earth hypothesis is that possibly planets forms in protoplanetary disks where they can. (I.e. where they find stable orbits.)

It is a possibility, since the hypothesis allowed the first verified planet detection since Neptune in the 1840’s. Caveat: There has been a lot of similar searches since that time, so there really need to be more confirmations at this time. But it is an intriguing development.

Imagine the laugh fest when the next creo raises the Rare Earth hypothesis (no, Earth isn’t rare because it is especially beneficial to support life, it is rare because it supports life marginally) and the Prime Observability hypothesis (no, Earth isn’t a prime location, because we can’t observe typical plate tectonics). Another exciting episode of “when creationists talks against readily available data”!

As I made those comments on the 12th, I couldn’t imagine that it would be such short time to the spectre of Gonzalez’ ghosts were raised by a creo. Well, maybe it was a low probability that any one creo would do it, but possibly a high likelihood that the population would. Thanks for the ROTFL!

Torbjörn Larsson, OM,

Huh? I’m sorry, was someone here discussing The Privileged Planet? I thought the Gonzalez discussion, such as it was, was about something completely different, not even on the same length scale: Galactic Habitability zones. That has nothing to do whatsoever with whether or not planets form efficiently (which I agree is rather cool.)

heddle: I implied no such thing. Stanton set the bar very low, a “trivial contribution”–not a prediction, not a result, etc. Well, galactic habitability zones are discussed in peer-reviewed papers and so I suggested that they are more than trivial; they are of actual scientific interest. I also suggested that they could not be easily argued as ID results, but possibly as motivated by ID, which only Gonzalez can answer. If you are suggesting that I am implying some sort of peer review threshold for ID theory was surpassed, then you attributing far more meaning to my comment that the actual words I wrote would warrant.

Okay fine, so I will take this as an admission by you that there are no useful scientific results that have come out of the ID-concept. Not only no useful results, but no predictions, no tests, and no possible method of testing.

It should be said that such “trivial contributions” as you mention can also be obtained if I invoke the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a “motivation” for studying galactic habital zones.

‘Nuff said.

Matthew Lowry,

It should be said that such “trivial contributions” as you mention can also be obtained if I invoke the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a “motivation” for studying galactic habital zones. ‘Nuff said.

No, it can’t. Because while it may be possible that Gonzalez had ID as a motivation for looking into such problems (I have no clue if he did) I suspect you cannot find a scientist who actually used the FSM theology as a motivation for any astrophysical research. The analogy works, but only so far–because there are real-life scientists who are honest-to-goodness theists, but no real life scientists who believe the FSM is an actual deity.

Heddle, if even you are unsure whether or not Gonzales was motivated by Intelligent Design when he proposed the galactic habitability zone hypothesis, we can not say that ID has passed beyond the threshold of trivial contribution, in fact, until someone specifically asks him about whether or not he was motivated by Intelligent Design to formulate that hypothesis.

I think Gonzales saying there may be habital zones is very different than an ID contribution to science. When Behe suggests common descent is true hardly represents an ID contribution to “darwinism”

Heddle put down the crack pipe.

And again, if Gonzalez came here and stated flatly that his motivation for his science (at least the GHZ stuff) was ID–would you simply call him a liar?

Not I. I see no reason why ID believers can’t do excellent science. I also agree with Eric that if they follow the scientific method and produce good results, they’re doing good science regardless of their religious faith.

One possible concern might be that either (a) such a scientist might pay too much attention to less promising avenues for research, in search of a validation for the doctrines of his faith; or (b) that he might either suppress, or just not be able to notice, results uncongenial to his religious preferences. But I don’t think either of these concerns is particularly worrisome, since they apply with equal force to any scientist, since any scientist might bark up the wrong tree or, expecting one result, fail to properly appreciate another.

The argument against ‘natural’ abiogenesis from probability fails on the grounds that there is no reason to suspect that the observable universe is the entire universe and reasons to suspect that it is not.

Somewhere in that vastness abiogenesis occurs and ‘intelligent’ life develops. Then the tiny little bubble around there becomes the observable universe for that species…

Flint,

We agree. Is that a first?

David Benson,

We also agree, although I think you understated the fact that we have “reasons to suspect” that the observable universe is not the entire universe. We have, I would say, close to overwhelming evidence given the discoveries in this era of precision cosmology–the flatness of the universe and the accelerating expansion. The latter even implies that not only is the observable universe not “all there is,” it is in fact shrinking. Distant galaxies will blink off as the expanding space overwhelms the speed of light.

I find it illuminating thta in the back and forth Heddle misses a couple of important facts:

if ID (or Christianity or whatever) was Gonzalez’s inspiration, SO WHAT? that does not make ID more (or less) scientific - if the image of a snake eating it’s own tail is a inspiration for theorizing the molecular structure of cyclohexane (or was it benzene?) SO WHAT - that does not make belief on Ouroboros scientific. Subsequnet EVIDENCE of the stucture (in my example) PROVED the model to be correct.

the argument that the fact that life on earth exists, and that the observation that the universe is the way it is somehow as being ‘proof’ for fine tuning is BS- if the universe was different, then the universe would be different and perhaps we would not exist - what does this show? why is this line of reasoning any different than (to paraphrase) “this pothole is perfectly shaped for the puddle it contains - someone must have designed it that way”?

heddle Wrote:

I suggest you look at that more carefully. That prediction has quite a bit to do with life. It was Hoyle (an atheist) who made the anthropic prediction about the Carbon energy level, and it most certainly was related to life. It was the archetype and classic anthropic argument that said, in effect, we are here, made of this stuff (heavy elements), that can’t be made anywhere else except inside stars, therefore this level of carbon must be there to provide the correct rates for the needed nuclear reactions. It was more than a clue, it was a prediction–and it was motivated by something not generally regarded as science: anthropic reasoning. Contrast it to a non-anthropic standard scientific approach–a detailed, microscopic model of the carbon nucleus leading to a prediction of the resonance.

I know perfectly well what Hoyle did here. But it wasn’t a necessary perspective nor was it a uniquely justified perspective. Just explaining the observed abundance of carbon was all that was needed. Just because Hoyle started with a prior piece of knowledge about the existence of life and then went to carbon was simply idiosyncratic. Read the rest of my paragraph.

The prediction, or the argument behind it, has nothing to do with life; it simply has to do with the observed abundance of carbon and the need to find a mechanism that does this in stars. It was a clue about what a more detailed look at the energy levels in the nucleus would probably find. Claiming that a belief in a sectarian deity led you to it or that it was needed for the existence of life is irrelevant.

To repeat; it has been the propaganda of the Discovery Institute (and Philip Johnson) that has lead to the attempts by ID followers to use “philosophical perspective” as a justification for elevating ID to a science. It’s a bogus argument.

No one cares what one’s sectarian views are; They don’t add anything to science that justifies giving them preference (or special deference).

jasonmitchell

why is this line of reasoning any different than (to paraphrase) “this pothole is perfectly shaped for the puddle it contains - someone must have designed it that way”?

Sigh. I don’t feel like getting into another debate on whether or not the fine tuning stuff is total BS that can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. I’ll just point out that I & J at least thought a complex Bayesian argument against fine tuning was called for–they didn’t share your belief that a simple appeal to the Douglas Adams puddle analogy was sufficient. Nor did Susskind, or Weinberg, or Hawking, or Smolin, or even Stenger. Not one of them, when arguing against fine tuning as having any sort of “designer” significance, appealed to the puddle analogy. They all make scientific cases against it–multiverses, evolving universes, that it was an illusion, etc. If what is obvious to you was obvious to them, they could have saved a lot of hard work.

Mike Elzinga,

I actually have no clue about how anything you wrote is a response to anything I wrote, so I’ll assume you just making a general interest statement. In fact, I don’t even know what “But it wasn’t a necessary perspective nor was it a uniquely justified perspective.” even means.

Flint:

[…] I also agree with Eric that if they follow the scientific method and produce good results, they’re doing good science regardless of their religious faith.

I am glad you agree.

My comment was about possible motivations one might have when practicing science, not really about religious faith, although that is included among the possible motivations. Motivation from parents is included as well. However, it is rare to try to derive a scientific result from one’s parents, even if one thinks that his or her upbringing may have had a beneficial contribution.

The scientific method seems to be the best way to produce lasting results. To my understanding, scientist do not always follow any rigorous methodology, when they try to figure out where is the most promising place to stick their probe next. On other occasions they do, but I suspect that they have been doing some thinking before they start applying rigorous methods.

Producing good science is not fully automated yet. Following the scientific method rigorously is no guarantee to get meaningful results. Why is it so? Or am I mistaken?

Regards

Eric

heddle Wrote:

actually have no clue about how anything you wrote is a response to anything I wrote, so I’ll assume you just making a general interest statement. In fact, I don’t even know what “But it wasn’t a necessary perspective nor was it a uniquely justified perspective.” even means.

I think others got it ok.

The more important issue for ID followers to know is that ID is not a science, and Philip Johnson’s “philosophy” is bogus.

I would amend the last statement in my last post about no one caring about sectarian views. Actually, if sectarian views require one to continually distort science until one can no longer understand and do science, then there is reason for concerned.

Eric Finn Wrote:

To my understanding, scientist do not always follow any rigorous methodology, when they try to figure out where is the most promising place to stick their probe next. On other occasions they do, but I suspect that they have been doing some thinking before they start applying rigorous methods.

I can tell you form personal experience, as well as from what others have told me about their thinking processes, that it can be quite messy. Some of the weirdest chains of thought can lead to a great insight. It has often been said that if you can’t stand being wrong most of the time, you won’t be able to tolerate doing research.

In writing up results for publication, one has to eventually fit the narrative of the research into the larger picture so that others can see where it fits and how it interlocks with everything else. Journals have certain styles and even publish style manuals outlining the requirements for submission of an article. This leaves very little latitude to discuss one’s own idiosyncratic path (and most of the time it isn’t worth discussing after the fact; it looks too foolish). One is better off demonstrating one’s understanding of the issues.

Eric:

Producing good science is not fully automated yet. Following the scientific method rigorously is no guarantee to get meaningful results. Why is it so? Or am I mistaken?

I think you are saying multiple things here.

First, I don’t think anyone can use the “rigorous scientific method” efficiently. The way people work is to get hunches, informed by way insufficient data, that suggest some pattern. This provides an initial direction to start looking more closely, and ALSO sets up an initial bias as to what will be seen. I’ve always been convinced that writeups of experiments impose the scientific method post facto, working backwards to fit what was actually done to the ultimate results. Scientists tend to work like Columbo - intuiting the solution, and then doing the research to collect the evidence and fill in the blanks.

Second, there’s some ambiguity about what “meaningful” means in this context. Rigorously following the scientific method is guaranteed to produce correct results, but certainly not to produce useful results. If you could get the funding, you could spend a whole career rigorously demonstrating hypotheses false, that nobody would ever propose or care about. If by “meaningful” you intend something like “increases our understanding of something we are curious about” then I agree, the method alone certainly doesn’t guarantee this.

The scientific method, properly applied, acts as a control on our imaginations to limit us to actualities, not just flights of fancy.

But in the case of Gonzalez, that is demonstrably false. He is a leading IDer. He clearly has done science.

What science is he doing right now, and why wasn’t it convincing enough to get him tenure? How come he isn’t in a laboratory or observatory, trying to gather data to support Intelligent Design?

And again, if Gonzalez came here and stated flatly that his motivation for his science (at least the GHZ stuff) was ID–would you simply call him a liar?

If Gonzales does what you have not done, and explain how he was inspired by Intelligent Design to propose the galactic habitability zone hypothesis, no, I would not call him a liar. On the other hand, if he does not explain how he was inspired, or even refuses to explain how the galactic habitability zone hypothesis supports Intelligent Design “theory,” I will have extreme doubts about the contribution this hypothesis has to science.

Even if Gonzalez was “inspired” by ID to pursue his GHZ idea, it does not follow that ID “predicted” the GHZ. I think this is an important distinction, possibly the most important one. In fact the GHZ idea seems a natural extrapolation from the habitable zone around stars. And yes it is very much like the puddle. Zones we consider habitable may only harbour life “as we know it”, but you gotta start somewhere, and “as we know it” is more easily identified than a superintelligent shade of the colour blue.

Stanton,

What science is he doing right now, and why wasn’t it convincing enough to get him tenure?

Does that seem like a compelling argument to you? I have no idea what he is doing now, but it is beyond dispute that he is a prominent IDer who has done science. As for the tenure comment, there are a lot of good scientists who are tenure rejects of whom you could ask the same question–and it would be just as irrelevant. The fact that Gonzalez (or anyone else) does not get tenure does not mean that the science he did was worthless. How much do you know about tenure in science? I know quite a bit, and it is rarely as simple as saying: this guy’s science exceeds a threshold, he’s in.

If Gonzales does what you have not done, and explain how he was inspired by Intelligent Design to propose the galactic habitability zone hypothesis, no, I would not call him a liar. On the other hand, if he does not explain how he was inspired, or even refuses to explain how the galactic habitability zone hypothesis supports Intelligent Design “theory,” I will have extreme doubts about the contribution this hypothesis has to science

What if he tells you just the same scenario I invented earlier. What if he says: “Look, it’s this simple. My ID caused me to speculate that the designer would carve out habitable niches in a hostile universe, and that led me to postulate GHZs, and to do research in that area.” Would you tell him: “Sorry, no, in spite of what you claim, ID did not motivate you.”

As Eric stated, “It does not matter, whether the motivating concept is wrong or right. It it is not essential to be able to derive the result from whatever motivated the research.”

fnxtr said

Even if Gonzalez was “inspired” by ID to pursue his GHZ idea, it does not follow that ID “predicted” the GHZ. I think this is an important distinction, possibly the most important one. In fact the GHZ idea seems a natural extrapolation from the habitable zone around stars. And yes it is very much like the puddle. Zones we consider habitable may only harbour life “as we know it”, but you gotta start somewhere, and “as we know it” is more easily identified than a superintelligent shade of the colour blue.

That’s true, but nobody has argued that ID predicted GHZs. And GHZs are nothing like the habitability zones around stars–the effects on habitability they consider are completely different. And–that blasted puddle argument–there is an adage that if you think your opponent’s argument is ridiculous, you probably don’t understand it. Slam dunk arguments are almost never valid. Using the puddle argument against GHZs is like using the “what good is half an eye?” argument against evolution. It is a sign that the person does not actually know what they are talking about, but they think they do. (If you are a kid, I apologize, you deserve a more gracious response.)

So we can all agree on these things:

1) Gonzalez originated the notion of the GHZ, and some justification for it.

2) The GHZ wasn’t predicted by or implicit in any nonexistent “ID theory”

3) The GHZ is at least compatible with some religious beliefs, probably including those of Gonzalez

4) Points 2) and 3) are irrelevant to anything scientific. If there IS a GHZ for the reasons Gonzalez hypothesizes (and we may never know), it’s a valid testable hypothesis in principle. In practice, it might be a while.

Flint:

So we can all agree on these things:

1) Gonzalez originated the notion of the GHZ, and some justification for it.

4) … If there IS a GHZ for the reasons Gonzalez hypothesizes (and we may never know), it’s a valid testable hypothesis in principle. In practice, it might be a while.

1) Yes. Ward/Brownlee give credit, for example.

4) With regard to the central portion of an ordinary spiral galaxy, the evidence appears to be in: too much hard radiation. Ward/Brownlee in Rare Earth gave some reasons (which I have forgotten) why out at the edges would not do either. Whatever the reason, it is based on fully developed astrophysics. So (for me, at least) the hypothesis has already be justified [not sure what you mean by testable].

Maybe I got lost. That’s what I get for reading at work. Looking back to this:

heddle:

stanton actually providing an example of a trivial contribution that Intelligent Design has made to Science?

That is very difficult. However, one example might be the idea of galactic habitability zones. But I think that one would be hard pressed to argue that that was an ID result—although one might easily argue that it was ID motivated. In peer reviewed papers I have read on the subject, Gonzalez is generally given credit for the concept of large scale habitability zones, and the mere existence of such papers indicates that the concept has exceeded the “trivial” threshold.

Looks like a non-argument that went on for a while.

Okay, maybe I didn’t connect the dots well enough. Clearly the determining factors are different between the two… levels… of habitability. Some areas, be they orbits around stars or around the galactic core, will be more conducive to our kind of life. I do admire the work done to determine what parameters make a difference on a galactic scale. And maybe the idea only seems obvious in retrospect.

Whether Gonzalez was motivated by the idea of Go- er, a Designer, or whether he was just feeling lonely on a galactic scale, doesn’t matter. He did the work.

Regarding motivation, though, if it looks like “this environment is (nearly) ideal and rare, it must have been intentional”, only in slightly more sophisticated language, how is this different from the puddle argument? If that’s not the argument, what is?

It’s like Sam Clemens commenting on how maybe the entire Eiffel Tower was put there just for the knob on the top.

Actually it was the skin of paint on the knob on the top.

If this layman’s memory serves, there aren’t enough stars in the galactic perimeter to perpetuate stellar births, so they’d mostly be very old… possibly metal poor, and probably smaller and cooler than average. Reading book might help us both.

Forget about it. If you think you can explain ID with words you are barking up the wrong tree. The most important things in this life we all live you can’t see. The air we breath, the love we feel, and the thought’s we think. That is in my opinion God. Just like what the apparent space between atom’s and molocule’s is, are, oh what ever. If you really want the true answers. Look inside yourselve’s, in your own heart. It may not seem like it at times but that IS somthing we all have.

heddle:

Stanton,

We have been discussing Hoyle’s anthropic prediction of a level of Carbon. Is it right to say that his prediction was motivated by anthropic reasoning, which is not science?

I know I’m late, but this is wrong. The “anthropic” part of Hoyle’s carbon prediction followed strictly from inductive reasoning, and was thus eminently scientific. It’s no different from breathing while in a room and being able to conclude that the room must therefore contain breathable air.

FWIW, catching up on old threads:

@ heddle:

I have read enough of I & J to know that they state exactly the opposite–that the utility of their argument in fighting fine-tuning based ID is that it is not a multiverse argument–that their result, they claim, is powerful precisely because it does not resort to a multiverse.

>

No, that is not correct. They note up front that they address the religious claim that “if naturalistic law applies, then the probability that a randomly-selected universe would be “life-friendly” is very small”, so it id definitely a probability argument over a population of universes.

But they note early on that this doesn’t mean for them that these universes necessarily exist. Technically that is true as far as it goes, those other universe may be shortlived. However, it is dicey to claim that the considered population never existed, it is a bayesian assumption.

Once I knew what they are trying to do–use Bayesian analysis

But as I already noted, in the important part for creationists they do not. (The part that treats the texas sharpshooter fallacy.)

You simply cannot make any probability claim of this type, pro or con, until we have a handle on the probability that life arises

We can do the comparative study. But you are correct, the religious probability anthropic argument and its concomitant finetuning argument is a non-starter.

it is still fine tuned even if the constants are derivable–i.e., probability one

Ah, but it is finetuned in the physicist sense (narrow range), not in the sense of the religious argument (small probability) as it was based on the probability.

Just because Hoyle started with a prior piece of knowledge about the existence of life and then went to carbon was simply idiosyncratic.

It is the tautological anthropic principle (TAP) - the universe must be consistent with our observations. It is perfectly fine for classical non-probabilistic cosmologies. The weak AP (WAP) is what you want, if you believe there is a statistical distribution. And the strong AP (SAP) is, I believe, what you get out of the texas sharpshooter fallacy.

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