Science equals murder

| 172 Comments

John Derbyshire quotes Ben Stein (see here). This amazing utterance from the host of the pseudo-documentary Expelled! requires no commentaries, it speaks for itself.

172 Comments

That comment of Stein can be easily explained.

Thanks to Richard Dawkins’ misuse of language, people have started to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. The debate between atheists and theists is not a debate between science and religion, as Dawkins would have us believe, but a debate between two worldviews, both of which appeal to science, and both of which count scientists among their adherents.

Stein should have known better, but I think by “science” he really meant “atheistic worldview”. So he is saying that the atheistic worldview leads to killing. This is not completely implausible after a century which witnessed the mass murders of communism.

Stein should have known better, but I think by “science” he really meant “atheistic worldview”. So he is saying that the atheistic worldview leads to killing. This is not completely implausible after a century which witnessed the mass murders of communism.

That argument won’t work. Not only do you want to blame Dawkins for a confusion of science and atheism, you go further to include communism in the confusion. No one familiar enough with the history of Soviet science to know about Lysenkoism would make such mistaken conflations.

While the big about Jeremiah Wright is a bit of red herring (as he would indeed greatly elevate the conversation in his call to justice and treating the poor and disenfranchised equally and with kindness), this is indeed an astonishing quote. I particularly liked the illumination that “the last time my relatives heard a scientist telling them what to do”. Evidently Stein’s understanding of science is not individual, but rather a familial trait going back generations. It helps us understand the man better, and how he came to be this way- the only experience his entire family has had with science (or at least, the only experience they remember) is the Holocaust. There has been, evidently, no other time in the lives of any of his family where a scientist has told them to do something, and no time when that has been positive. (I leave aside that the scientist are more making suggestions than giving orders usually.) To take Stein at his word, his family must therefore be true troglodytes, and worthy of scientific investigation. How else could multiple members of a family spend their entire lives with only the one (negative) experience with science and scientists?

Of course, it is entirely appropriate to paint with one brush all scientists with the actions of the very small minority of scientists who acted atrotiously in the Holocaust. We find it often true that a bad minority of a group reveals the thoughts and actions of the entire group.

I wonder where Stein learned to do that?

Richard,

Stein is nothing if not articulate. If he had meant to say “atheistic worldview” he would have said “atheistic worldview.” He did not. Your explanation doesn’t hold water.

Richard Kilgore said:

That comment of Stein can be easily explained.

Thanks to Richard Dawkins’ misuse of language, people have started to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”.

What a ridiculous apologetic attempt! Stein is not an idiot. He is well aware of the ocean separating these two concepts. I would like to see the entire interview to place his comments in context, but if their face value is accurate then I can only conclude Stein has degenerated into a despicable excuse for a human being. He chose his words to have a calculated effect on Trinity’s audience of religious zombies.

Science has saved more lives in the last 100 years than all the futile incantations made to deities in the last ten thousand. Yet this evil little man has the nerve to equate science with murder. I will savor his hypocrisy the next time he is in the hospital reaping the benefits of science.

Whhere is the piece I posted here which explained Ben Stein’s comment?

No, Mr. Kilgore, semantic manipulations can’t change the simple fact: Stein said unequivocally that science leads to murder. Moreover, he has the gall to assert that it were scentists who sent Jews to the ovens of Aushwitz. This is a despicable mendacious slander of scientists and a shameful disrespect of the memory of the Holocaust’s victims, among whom were many scientists.

Regarding your statement that atheism causes murder, what about murders committed in the name of religious faith? Since I have a first hand experience of the Soviet system, I think I am better qualified to pronounce a judgement on the murders at the hand of communists. They killed for religious reasons: their Gods were Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Marx, Lenin, and Stalin were officially proclaimed faultlessly benevolent and perfectly correct in every respect, thus possessing super-human perfection only gods may have.

Murders in the name of science have never occurred anywhere on this planet, mass murders in the name of religion, either Christian, Mohammeddan, or Communist, have been quite common.

Dean,

Stein is an actor, and celebrity. He is not a scientist or philosopher, and so attributing to him a verbal confusion of this kind seems eminently plausible to me.

Stein Trinity Broadcasting Network:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.

Joseph Goebbels Nazi Propaganda Minister:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Stein, Mathis, and Expelleds are simply using Goebbels’ strategy, lie big and lie often. By using Nazi tactics, they have become a lot like what everyone regards as the ultimate evil.

It worked for Goebbels. For a while. At the end he made it all the way to Chancellor of the Third Reich. The next day he killed his 6 children and shot himself.

Nietzche said it a century ago. When hunting for monsters, make sure you don’t become one yourself. They are way past that point.

So, Dick Head, your defense of Stein is that he’s too fucking STUPID to know what words mean? He’s so completely brain-dead he doesn’t even know what science is?

The best thing you could come up with to defend this nutcase is that he’s too stupid to understand the words he’s using, and he’s actually falsely accusing a DIFFERENT group of mass murder, so it’s okay?

Is that your final answer?

Richard Head said:

That comment of Stein can be easily explained.

Thanks to Richard Dawkins’ misuse of language, people have started to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. The debate between atheists and theists is not a debate between science and religion, as Dawkins would have us believe, but a debate between two worldviews, both of which appeal to science, and both of which count scientists among their adherents.

Stein should have known better, but I think by “science” he really meant “atheistic worldview”. So he is saying that the atheistic worldview leads to killing. This is not completely implausible after a century which witnessed the mass murders of communism.

Mr.KIlgore, your comment is right there where it was posted - at the top of the comment section. No comments have been deleted in this thread.

Kilgore the lying troll:

Stein is an actor, and celebrity.

.

Stein also has a law degree from Yale. He was first in his law school class. He is not that stupid.

That you presume to know what is going on in Stein’s head is wrong. You are just lying and making excuses for an evil, little man. Stein knew what he meant, knows it is false, and doesn’t care.

Goebbels’ strategy never goes out of fashion. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Kilgore use it on automatic pilot. It’s a fundie creo thing.

Richard,

You are so right. Here’s another guy who was completely misunderstood:

And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.

I’m sure he didn’t mean kill anyone, that’s such an exaggeration!

Aw, but that doesn’t feed his persecution complex! How can he hope to hold his own in an argument without whining about being opressed? It’s not like he has any EVIDENCE on his side, after all.

Mark Perakh said:

Mr.KIlgore, your comment is right there where it was posted - at the top of the comment section. No comments have been deleted in this thread.

Thank you Mr. Perakh. For some reason I do not always see the comments when I come to this or other threads (but if I keep trying they come up). That is why I asked my question. I appreciate that none of my comments have been deleted, despite the fact that they will be seen as provocative by many people here. My intention is not to provoke anyone, but to state things as I see them.

Mark Perakh said:

Mr.KIlgore, your comment is right there where it was posted - at the top of the comment section. No comments have been deleted in this thread.

I know he has a law degree from Yale. But that was a long time ago, and recently he has been doing things like hosting “Win Ben Stein’s Money”: not exactly intellectual, is it? He is, as of now and as far as I am aware, an actor and a celebrity.

I do not deny that he is smart, but even smart people fall victim to conceptual confusions: just look at the history of Western philosophy for some examples. This is what I honestly suspect happened here (and no, I do not claim to be able to read his mind).

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

raven said:

Kilgore the lying troll:

Stein is an actor, and celebrity.

.

Stein also has a law degree from Yale. He was first in his law school class. He is not that stupid.

That you presume to know what is going on in Stein’s head is wrong. You are just lying and making excuses for an evil, little man. Stein knew what he meant, knows it is false, and doesn’t care.

Goebbels’ strategy never goes out of fashion. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Kilgore use it on automatic pilot. It’s a fundie creo thing.

I do not think Stein is stupid, but he, like Richard dawkins and like many other smart people, is quite capable of falling into conceptual confusions, especially when thes become widespread.

The tendency to equate “science” with “atheistic worldview” is lamentable, and on the rise.

phantomreader42 said:

So, Dick Head, your defense of Stein is that he’s too fucking STUPID to know what words mean? He’s so completely brain-dead he doesn’t even know what science is?

The best thing you could come up with to defend this nutcase is that he’s too stupid to understand the words he’s using, and he’s actually falsely accusing a DIFFERENT group of mass murder, so it’s okay?

Is that your final answer?

Richard Head said:

That comment of Stein can be easily explained.

Thanks to Richard Dawkins’ misuse of language, people have started to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. The debate between atheists and theists is not a debate between science and religion, as Dawkins would have us believe, but a debate between two worldviews, both of which appeal to science, and both of which count scientists among their adherents.

Stein should have known better, but I think by “science” he really meant “atheistic worldview”. So he is saying that the atheistic worldview leads to killing. This is not completely implausible after a century which witnessed the mass murders of communism.

Richard Kilgore said: Thank you Mr. Perakh. For some reason I do not always see the comments when I come to this or other threads (but if I keep trying they come up). That is why I asked my question. I appreciate that none of my comments have been deleted, despite the fact that they will be seen as provocative by many people here. My intention is not to provoke anyone, but to state things as I see them.

Well, since you are not being provocative, I am sure your next comment will in some way address the very substantive arguments against the way you see things. Just because you are entitled to hold an opinion does not in any way make it right.

If, on the other hand, you do ignore the genuine and substantive arguments against the way you see this situation, that in itself is provocative behaviour.

So, here’s Dick Head’s updated defense of Stein:

1. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. 2. Starring in a game show makes you stupid, and absolves you of any obligation to tell the truth or even make sense. 3. He was actually falsely accusing ATHEISTS of mass murder, there’s nothing wrong with THAT, it’s not like there’s a rule against bearing false witness or anything. 4. This is all part of a vast atheist conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids!111one11!!!11eleven!!! 5. It’s all Dawkins’ fault! Stop picking on god’s new prophet Ben Stein!

Richard Head said:

I know he has a law degree from Yale. But that was a long time ago, and recently he has been doing things like hosting “Win Ben Stein’s Money”: not exactly intellectual, is it? He is, as of now and as far as I am aware, an actor and a celebrity.

I do not deny that he is smart, but even smart people fall victim to conceptual confusions: just look at the history of Western philosophy for some examples. This is what I honestly suspect happened here (and no, I do not claim to be able to read his mind).

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

raven said:

Kilgore the lying troll:

Stein is an actor, and celebrity.

.

Stein also has a law degree from Yale. He was first in his law school class. He is not that stupid.

That you presume to know what is going on in Stein’s head is wrong. You are just lying and making excuses for an evil, little man. Stein knew what he meant, knows it is false, and doesn’t care.

Goebbels’ strategy never goes out of fashion. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Kilgore use it on automatic pilot. It’s a fundie creo thing.

Hmm, it appears that you posted two comments while I was composing.

Richard Kilgore Wrote:

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

Since this is the crux of your argument, you will need to back it up with citations.

If Dawkins frequently conflates science with his athestic world view (something, incidentally, that I am not at all sure he has ever done), you will need to demonstrate that this is so. Since this conflation is, according to you, atheistic propaganda, you will need to back up this assertion with factual references.

If you cannot do this, then the crux of your argument is mere speculation, and thus your whole line of reasoning collapses.

If you choose not to do this, then you are being intellectually dishonest, just like Ben Stein (the Expelled trailer on his website demonstrates that [a] he is “ignorant” of the science of evolution, and [b] that he is “ignorant” of the claims of the Discovery Institute).

I’m dealing with a this elsewhere.

Quoting the person who posted this in the Evolution of a smear job post:

Looks like once again, the Expelled-haters are cherry-picking statements out of context. The video is heavily edited to the point of worthlessness. I’ve viewed the full version of the interview on tbn.org. In context, it’s obvious that he’s means that if you treat science as the end-all and be-all of everything - that is, if you have no objective moral source apart from it - it will lead to killing people.

Kind of like religion? You people do not have an “objective moral source”, as this other argument here shows. (You’re defending killing babies, when your god commands it, I’m against it).

An “objective standard” for morality would not need a person who practices it to switch their views so drastically like you and your fellow religionists have. It’s wrong to kill babies –> it’s ok to kill babies if god orders it.

Besides, what kind of strictures against letting science become the “end-all and be-all” of everything would Stein advocate? Would he advocate putting those same strictures in place against religion?

After all, how many people have been killed in the name of religion throughout history, based on the commands of their various holy books? “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, etc?

That’s talked a little about here. http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]mment-153362

Dawkins repeatedly talks of the debate between atheism and theism as a debate between science and religion. The rhetoric of “science versus religion” is central in his writings about religion. Since he is in fact defending atheism, he is effectively conflating science with atheism.

I do not see why this needs any citations: it should be obvious to anyone who has read Dawkins at all carefully.

Nigel D said:

Hmm, it appears that you posted two comments while I was composing.

Richard Kilgore Wrote:

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

Since this is the crux of your argument, you will need to back it up with citations.

If Dawkins frequently conflates science with his athestic world view (something, incidentally, that I am not at all sure he has ever done), you will need to demonstrate that this is so. Since this conflation is, according to you, atheistic propaganda, you will need to back up this assertion with factual references.

If you cannot do this, then the crux of your argument is mere speculation, and thus your whole line of reasoning collapses.

If you choose not to do this, then you are being intellectually dishonest, just like Ben Stein (the Expelled trailer on his website demonstrates that [a] he is “ignorant” of the science of evolution, and [b] that he is “ignorant” of the claims of the Discovery Institute).

So, Richard… all the Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists et al, who are scientists… are atheists?

So… everyone is adopting the Official Richard Dawkins Dictionary, are they?

Scientists are people who do science. You know the, actual work of discovering how things work. Not number-juggling, Aristotlean mind-wanking, and just plain lying like your heroes.

Some people who do the work are religious, some aren’t. Get a clue, please.

Kilgore,

Quite of few of those monsters in uniform who herded the oppressed into gas chambers were flaming red believers and churchgoers - you remember the inscription on the standard issue belt buckle right?

fnxtr:

I appreciate your comments, and I think you are right. There is indeed a difference between science and religious positions like atheism and theism. But when people talk about the question of whether or not God exists and they characterize the debate as a conflict between science and religion, they encourage a confusion between atheism and science. I think Dawkins is the main guy who asserts this, but not the only one.

fnxtr said:

So, Richard… all the Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists et al, who are scientists… are atheists?

So… everyone is adopting the Official Richard Dawkins Dictionary, are they?

Scientists are people who do science. You know the, actual work of discovering how things work. Not number-juggling, Aristotlean mind-wanking, and just plain lying like your heroes.

Some people who do the work are religious, some aren’t. Get a clue, please.

LOL! You are a funny guy, phantomreader42. I think you should be working for Comedy Central, right alongside Ben Stein.

phantomreader42 said:

So, here’s Dick Head’s updated defense of Stein:

1. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. 2. Starring in a game show makes you stupid, and absolves you of any obligation to tell the truth or even make sense. 3. He was actually falsely accusing ATHEISTS of mass murder, there’s nothing wrong with THAT, it’s not like there’s a rule against bearing false witness or anything. 4. This is all part of a vast atheist conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids!111one11!!!11eleven!!! 5. It’s all Dawkins’ fault! Stop picking on god’s new prophet Ben Stein!

Richard Head said:

I know he has a law degree from Yale. But that was a long time ago, and recently he has been doing things like hosting “Win Ben Stein’s Money”: not exactly intellectual, is it? He is, as of now and as far as I am aware, an actor and a celebrity.

I do not deny that he is smart, but even smart people fall victim to conceptual confusions: just look at the history of Western philosophy for some examples. This is what I honestly suspect happened here (and no, I do not claim to be able to read his mind).

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

raven said:

Kilgore the lying troll:

Stein is an actor, and celebrity.

.

Stein also has a law degree from Yale. He was first in his law school class. He is not that stupid.

That you presume to know what is going on in Stein’s head is wrong. You are just lying and making excuses for an evil, little man. Stein knew what he meant, knows it is false, and doesn’t care.

Goebbels’ strategy never goes out of fashion. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Kilgore use it on automatic pilot. It’s a fundie creo thing.

Thanks for admitting that your defense of Stein’s idiotic and hateful remarks is so weak as to be a joke!

Really, the material writes itself. Creationists are just THAT stupid.

Richard Head said:

LOL! You are a funny guy, phantomreader42. I think you should be working for Comedy Central, right alongside Ben Stein.

phantomreader42 said:

So, here’s Dick Head’s updated defense of Stein:

1. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. 2. Starring in a game show makes you stupid, and absolves you of any obligation to tell the truth or even make sense. 3. He was actually falsely accusing ATHEISTS of mass murder, there’s nothing wrong with THAT, it’s not like there’s a rule against bearing false witness or anything. 4. This is all part of a vast atheist conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids!111one11!!!11eleven!!! 5. It’s all Dawkins’ fault! Stop picking on god’s new prophet Ben Stein!

Richard Head said:

I know he has a law degree from Yale. But that was a long time ago, and recently he has been doing things like hosting “Win Ben Stein’s Money”: not exactly intellectual, is it? He is, as of now and as far as I am aware, an actor and a celebrity.

I do not deny that he is smart, but even smart people fall victim to conceptual confusions: just look at the history of Western philosophy for some examples. This is what I honestly suspect happened here (and no, I do not claim to be able to read his mind).

I have noticed for a long time that people tend to use the word “science” when they really mean “atheistic worldview”. It is a result of atheist propaganda.

raven said:

Kilgore the lying troll:

Stein is an actor, and celebrity.

.

Stein also has a law degree from Yale. He was first in his law school class. He is not that stupid.

That you presume to know what is going on in Stein’s head is wrong. You are just lying and making excuses for an evil, little man. Stein knew what he meant, knows it is false, and doesn’t care.

Goebbels’ strategy never goes out of fashion. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Richard Kilgore use it on automatic pilot. It’s a fundie creo thing.

I have noticed enough people doing the asme thing - mistaking atheism and science- to believe that part of the comment is true. But going further to suggest that this makes it OK to libel atheists, or that it makes anything Stein has said true, is total nonsense. Yes, Stalin was atheist; the Inquisition was not. It doesn’t matter what form of religion the perpetrators of evil practice, they are evil because they are evil by their OWN nature, not the nature of their beliefs. Trying to give Stein a passing grade because you want to redifine one of the words he uses doesn’t work.

Richard Kilgore said:

LOL! You are a funny guy, phantomreader42. I think you should be working for Comedy Central, right alongside Ben Stein.

I refuse to see anything funny in this. YOU DO NOT TRIVIALIZE THE HOLOCAUST. You just don’t.

And you are not the greatest comedian yourself, too, Mr Kilgoer.

Ben Stein has transformed himself to eternally radioactive toxic waste material. He probably needed the money, but anyone who tries to defend him becomes immediately contaminated. So now you too are condemned by his curse, which is of the stupid.

Sorry. Thanks for playing. Don’t come back please.

I have given what I think is a *plausible* explanation of Stein’s comment, based on the evidence. The point is, w just do not have a basis for the accusations people want to hurl at this brave man.

If someone else has seen the whole interview, they may have a better explanation than mine.

Reynold Hall said:

I’m dealing with a this elsewhere.

Quoting the person who posted this in the Evolution of a smear job post:

Looks like once again, the Expelled-haters are cherry-picking statements out of context. The video is heavily edited to the point of worthlessness. I’ve viewed the full version of the interview on tbn.org. In context, it’s obvious that he’s means that if you treat science as the end-all and be-all of everything - that is, if you have no objective moral source apart from it - it will lead to killing people.

Kind of like religion? You people do not have an “objective moral source”, as this other argument here shows. (You’re defending killing babies, when your god commands it, I’m against it).

An “objective standard” for morality would not need a person who practices it to switch their views so drastically like you and your fellow religionists have. It’s wrong to kill babies –> it’s ok to kill babies if god orders it.

Besides, what kind of strictures against letting science become the “end-all and be-all” of everything would Stein advocate? Would he advocate putting those same strictures in place against religion?

After all, how many people have been killed in the name of religion throughout history, based on the commands of their various holy books? “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, etc?

That’s talked a little about here. http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]mment-153362

Richard Kilgore said: The whole point of the ID research program is to investigate whether or not we can identify the action of intelligent causes *independently of knowing their nature*. Dembski argues that specified complexity is a criterion which allows you to do just that. … Behe and Demsbki would both count it as a success if the scientific community reached the conclusion that some nonhuman natural designer had a hand in the origin of life.

They would perhaps be privately convinced that the designer is God, but based on other grounds (like revelation), and not based on the empirical evidence.

This discussion is quite absurd. What we are dealing with are a concerted attack on science and science education. Need I mention “Of Pandas and People” where ID simply replaced creationism; the Wedge document; teach the controversy; Behe’s testimony that astrology is legitimate science; ID as declared on Dembski’s blog as an ‘intellectual and cultural project’ (read it all there); the total absence of any ID research. The confession that there are no theory of ID in existence whereas the theory of evolution is a fully developed and established theory.

With ID nothing but the God of the gaps, like creating the bacterial flagellum. While the ToE is about the ‘Origins of Species’, ID seems to be about all and everything, from the Big Bang to Holocaust. Whatever ID is, it is definitely not science.

So why introduce this evil, religiously founded philosophy in the classroom? Hardly a scientist in his right mind supports ID. ID simply is creationism repackaged and camouflaged to fool the people.

I have a lot more to say, but there are people here able to do it much better than me. Where, when and how is Intelligent Design research being done? By whom?

A look at Dembski’s blog is revealing, who are his friends in the war on science? Sal Cordova, Denyse O’Leary, DaveScot – laughable characters all of them, the one more than the other. And the Hallelujah choir: Take a look at the nonsense they are posting! Is that all ID has got, a crowd of fanatical, religious fundamentalists. They cant’ help themselves; they can’t even differentiate between abiogenesis and the theory of evolution. They keep arguing against ‘Darwinism’ because they believe that sells better to the public opinion than Evolutionary theory or MET.

They haven’t even gotten around to discovering how the new science of evo-devo is revolutionizing our understanding of evolution. While evolutionary theory is developing at breathtaking pace, all ID have to show after centuries of creationism is a disgrace of a ‘movie’ with the big lie, the false message that scientists are persecuted for supporting ID.

Dear Rolf,

Not only is the main theme of “Expelled”, the delusional allegation that Intelligent Design advocates within the scientific community are somehow being “persecuted” for their belief by mainstream science, but the other, far more noxious, delusional theme, is the “fact” that “Darwinism” was responsible for Nazism and the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust), a point that has been a reoccurring argument stated by Discovery Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers David Klinghoffer and Bill Dembski, among others, but one that has been refuted most recently by both Richard Dawkins and John Derbyshire. Indeed, we must remind both the Discovery Institute’s delusional band of mendacious intellectual pornographers and their intellectually-challenged sycophants (whom I have referred sarcastically as members of the “Discovery Institute IDiot Borg Collective” elsewhere online, most frequently at Amazon.com) that they are committing - to use John Derbyshire’s expression - a “blood libel against Western Civilization”.

Appreciatively yours,

John

“Charlemagne” has been added to the moderation queue by author request.

Richard Kilgore said:

You claim that SETI has nothing to do with Dembski’s work because SETI researchers look for simplicity, whereas Dembski claims design inferences are based on complexity. But this is to overlook exactly the sense in which Dembski uses the word “complexity”. This word is being used in a technical sense, and is essentially a synonym for “improbability”. For example, Dembski writes on p.9 of “No Free Lunch” that “to determine whether something is sufficiently complex to underwrite a design inference is to determine whether it has sufficiently small probability.”

Except for SETI is searching for signals that look designed based on what they know of signals designed by human designers. In other words SETI has a basis for comparison. (i.e. they know what artificial (designed) signals look like). This is not the case for ID. ID conjecturists have no basis for comparison other than things that humans design, of which roughly none are comparable to the apparent design in biology created by evolutionary processes. In fact using Dembski’s own improbability calculations it is much more unlikely that all species do not share a common ancestor. In particular, we would not see such a high correlation in nucleotide sequence in the same genes across many different species if it weren’t for common descent.

In this specific technical sense of “complexity”, what SETI researchers are looking for is indeed “complex”. The reason is that the kind of signal they are looking for is very improbable given only purely natural causes.

No in this sense they are looking for something comparable to what they already know of artificially generated signals (i.e. simplicity). The signals generated by cosmic background radiation (CBR) are extraordinarily complex (far more complex than artificial signals). Let’s say for example we recorded some CBR for a minute and analysed it. If we presupposed that the signal has some message that we are unable to discern, we could use Dembski’s filter to argue it was designed due of all the complexity in the signal. After all it is improbable that chance and regularity could have produced that particular order of frequencies and amplitudes. But I think we both know that this is the wrong conclusion. The problem is CBR is common and the SETI folk know very well what it looks like, and its not what they are looking for. If SETI applied Dembski’s improbability calculations they would have to conclude every signal they receive including CBR is designed. Using Dembski’s methodology SETI would make themselves into a useless entity.

Richard Kilgore said: Dembski has given a justification for setting a lower probability bound, such that events having probability less than that bound can reasonably be concluded not to have happened by chance. The lower probability bound for him is 10^-150 (whereas for Borel it was 10^-50).

There is no such thing as a universal probability bound. As commenters already noted, put sufficiently many decks of card in a stack and start shuffle, and you will soon exceed any upper bound you cared to claim.

Scientists OTOH, who knows what they are doing, may in cases such as Borel’s adapt a specific bound suitable to the problem at hand.

But that is quite different from proclaiming a universal bound without any application, as Dembski does. You claim it is “explicitly specified” when a little reading will show you it wasn’t used in any specific application at all. It is merely babble intended for the ignorant masses.

In fact, it is offensive to mention a brilliant mathematician such as Borel who knew very well how to adapt statistical measures based on the specific probability distribution at hand as he was one of the pioneers in measure theory, with a non-mathematician such as Dembski (no math published, in what, 18 years now?) who explicitly turn his back on such elementary procedures.

Richard Kilgore Wrote:

Dembski has given a justification for setting a lower probability bound, such that events having probability less than that bound can reasonably be concluded not to have happened by chance. The lower probability bound for him is 10^-150 (whereas for Borel it was 10^-50).

Torbjörn Larsson and others have already explained why this is wrong but you can find out more about this here. Consider this quote from Borel himself.

From Probability and Certainty, p. 124-126:

The Problem of Life.

In conclusion, I feel it is necessary to say a few words regarding a question that does not really come within the scope of this book, but that certain readers might nevertheless reproach me for having entirely neglected. I mean the problem of the appearance of life on our planet (and eventually on other planets in the universe) and the probability that this appearance may have been due to chance. If this problem seems to me to lie outside our subject, this is because the probability in question is too complex for us to be able to calculate its order of magnitude. It is on this point that I wish to make several explanatory comments.

When we calculated the probability of reproducing by mere chance a work of literature, in one or more volumes, we certainly observed that, if this work was printed, it must have emanated from a human brain. Now the complexity of that brain must therefore have been even richer than the particular work to which it gave birth. Is it not possible to infer that the probability that this brain may have been produced by the blind forces of chance is even slighter than the probability of the typewriting miracle?

It is obviously the same as if we asked ourselves whether we could know if it was possible actually to create a human being by combining at random a certain number of simple bodies. But this is not the way that the problem of the origin of life presents itself: it is generally held that living beings are the result of a slow process of evolution, beginning with elementary organisms, and that this process of evolution involves certain properties of living matter that prevent us from asserting that the process was accomplished in accordance with the laws of chance.

Moreover, certain of these properties of living matter also belong to inanimate matter, when it takes certain forms, such as that of crystals. It does not seem possible to apply the laws of probability calculus to the phenomenon of the formation of a crystal in a more or less supersaturated solution. At least, it would not be possible to treat this as a problem of probability without taking account of certain properties of matter, properties that facilitate the formation of crystals and that we are certainly obliged to verify. We ought, it seems to me, to consider it likely that the formation of elementary living organisms, and the evolution of those organisms, are also governed by elementary properties of matter that we do not understand perfectly but whose existence we ought nevertheless admit.

Similar observations could be made regarding possible attempts to apply the probability calculus to cosmogonical problems. In this field, too, it does not seem that the conclusions we have could really be of great assistance.

It seems Borel knew what Dembski doesn’t without the benefit of the last 65 years, give or take, of advances in evolutionary biology. i.e. (1. That evolution isn’t a process that strictly depends on chance. (2. That evolution doesn’t claim that all the parts of an organism spontaneously came together all at once. (And in fact abiogenesis is really the science that deals with the origin of the first self-replicating organism.) Strangely enough it is Dembski’s ID/Creationism that makes the second claim. In fact, according to the creationist account, it happened twice for each individual species (kind).

Richard Kilgore said: As for being a “Liar for Jesus”, I am not even Christian, and never was.

It is true that not all ID-proponents are Christian, though the folks from the Disco Institute are pushing a theocratic agenda.

A good example of non-Christian ID-proponents is the Raelians.

Thanks for the laughs, man!

It is becoming pretty apparent to me that RK is yet another troll, here basically to waste our time and derail threads.

Do not feed the trolls.

MattusMaximus said: A good example of non-Christian ID-proponents is the Raelians.

Argh!!! The proper link to the Raelians is here.

Looks like RK has retreated back to his haven under the bridge. Typical.

J. Biggs said:

Except for SETI is searching for signals that look designed based on what they know of signals designed by human designers. In other words SETI has a basis for comparison. (i.e. they know what artificial (designed) signals look like).

SETI is not looking for signals that are “designed”. SETI is looking for signals that are artificial, which is decidedly different from “designed”.

As far as I can determine, detecting design is currently impossible, inasmuch as we have absolutely no detailed idea how design happens or what the process entails. We have many decades of research in behavioural neurology ahead of us before we gain a significant clue.

Considering the archetypal example – the archaeologist looking at a bit of stone and attempting to discern its origin – the question is not “was this designed?”, the question is “was this produced artificially?” (i.e. was it the result of the deliberate action of some organism capable of deliberate action). (Are honeycombs or beaver dams “designed”? Is Batman a transvestite? Who knows?)

It is most likely that the first stone tools used by primates were not made, they were found – forms created by natural processes that turned out to be useful for pounding, cutting, chopping. It is most likely that the first artificial stone tools used by primates were not designed, they were copied from natural forms that were discerned to be useful.

At the electric power distribution frequencies of 50 Hz and 60 Hz, this planet is possibly the brightest object in the galaxy. A 50 or 60 Hz sine wave is decidedly not complex, nor is it “designed”, but it certainly is most probably artificial. Any ET civilisation detecting that radiation would be strongly inclined to regard it as an indication of our existence, but it would be its simplicity and hence its artificiality that would attract their interest (cf Jocelyn Bell’s “Little Green Men”).

Hmm, So. ID is science. And science leads to murder. And Stein wants ID taught in schools. Thus the only conclusion must be that Stein and his fellows pseudo-scientists at DI wants to promote more murder?

We really shouldn’t be surprised: Remember when Stein blamed the 9/11 attacks on athiests?

It’s become apparent that his apology was not sincere after all.

““ SETI is not looking for signals that are ”designed”. SETI is looking for signals that are artificial, which is decidedly different from ”designed”. ““

Can you give me examples of things that artificial but not designed and things that are designed and not artificial to clarify your point?

I can’t resist.

Neptunium is artificial but not designed (as are nobelium, bohrium, and other trans-uranium elements). They’re man-made, but nobody sat down and designed an atom first and they don’t exist in nature.

Anything that was designed would be artificial, unless you want to limit the definition of “artificial” to “produced by intelligence” a priori. In that case, termite mounds and ant nests could be considered designed but not artificial, but the “designed” itself becomes a rather sketchy proposition because it also implies a creative intelligence at work. Insects, it has been demonstrated, don’t operate by intelligence but by a number of simple mechanical rules when it comes to spacial relationships.

More relevant to SETI, the alternating 50/60Hz radio signal put out by the rotating Earth is artificial but was not designed.

Richard Simons said:

More relevant to SETI, the alternating 50/60Hz radio signal put out by the rotating Earth is artificial but was not designed.

Are you talking about the typical AC house current?

Mike O’Risal said:

I can’t resist.

Neptunium is artificial but not designed (as are nobelium, bohrium, and other trans-uranium elements). They’re man-made, but nobody sat down and designed an atom first and they don’t exist in nature.

Anything that was designed would be artificial, unless you want to limit the definition of “artificial” to “produced by intelligence” a priori. In that case, termite mounds and ant nests could be considered designed but not artificial, but the “designed” itself becomes a rather sketchy proposition because it also implies a creative intelligence at work. Insects, it has been demonstrated, don’t operate by intelligence but by a number of simple mechanical rules when it comes to spacial relationships.

Your definition of artificial is ‘man-made’?

And give me your example of something that is designed.

bobby said:

Your definition of artificial is ‘man-made’?

And give me your example of something that is designed.

A clay pot is an example of a designed object that is artificial. Pottery is a skill requiring years of training before a potter can make an adequately shaped pot.

The mound of a compass termite is an example of a designed object that is natural. Compass termites shape their nest as according to how sunlight strikes it, so that the narrow ends receive direct, noonday sun, while the broad ends face the east and west, so that the only sunlight that strikes those faces is from sunrise and sunset.

On the other hand, Intelligent Design “theory” refuses to state how one can identify “design” in the first place, beyond stating that, if something looks complicated, it is designed by an unknowable designer.

On the one hand, if Intelligent Design “theory” is a science, then, according to Ben Stein’s logic, all Intelligent Design proponents, along with all other scientists, are murderers who were complacent in atrocities such as the Holocaust.

Unless, of course, Intelligent Design “theory” is not a science, then, there is no reason to teach it in any science curriculum in the first place.

On the other hand, to continue with Ben Stein’s logic, we shouldn’t teach science, at all, because it would lead to people killing people, and that it would apparently be better to die of disease and starvation, and any other treatable condition, instead.

bobby said:

Mike O’Risal said:

Anything that was designed would be artificial, unless you want to limit the definition of “artificial” to “produced by intelligence” a priori. In that case, termite mounds and ant nests could be considered designed but not artificial, but the “designed” itself becomes a rather sketchy proposition because it also implies a creative intelligence at work. Insects, it has been demonstrated, don’t operate by intelligence but by a number of simple mechanical rules when it comes to spacial relationships.

Your definition of artificial is ‘man-made’?

And give me your example of something that is designed.

I did. I quoted it again above. See the part about the termites and ants?

What is your definition of artificial? Whether or not mine is equivalent to “man-made” is neither here nor there; it can certainly include something man-made, as we can safely say that man produces things that aren’t found to be produced otherwise. Does your definition of artificial not include man-made things?

If not, you’ll have to provide that definition. If so, then there’s no problem and you’re being willfully obstinate, as it seems you were in demanding an example of something designed when I clearly gave you one already.

bobby said:

Are you talking about the typical AC house current?

I am referring to the signal Earth makes as it rotates, depending on which continent is in view. It is a consequence of the frequency used, which is a result of design, but the regular variation in the signal was not designed.

Raven - Are you still keeping your LIST? FCS just posted an interesting article that I thought you might be interested in …

This had to be a bit like the American Civil Liberties Union blackballing historian David McCullough from giving a speech on the Fourth of July because he might mention the Declaration of Independence

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/ma[…]big-problem/

Stacy :-)

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on May 1, 2008 12:34 PM.

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