The Disco ‘Tute Dance continues

| 87 Comments

Wes Elsberry has a new post up on the latest Disco ‘Tute contribution to the obfuscation of science:

If you are wondering whether this new expository source will sustain the Discovery Institute’s longstanding reputation for publishing spin, please read the following excerpts and be comforted.

Go. Read. Wes is kinder than I am: I’d have said “for publishing crap.” But that’s just me. :)

87 Comments

Wow, what an embarrassment for MIT, University of Washington, and Harvard.

Her entire train of reasoning can be paraphrased as this -

“I am entirely ignorant (or pretending to be entirely ignorant) of any quantitative treatment of evolution, whether from classical population genetics or from molecular biology.

I now use my ignorance to advance a non sequitur argument.”

At best she’s a quantitatively-challenged and emotionally biased person who should have been more rigorously vetted before they handed out a PhD.

However, being cynical, I can’t help subjectively speculating that crass self-interest may also be a driving factor here. Of course, that’s just my subjective speculation.

I was somewhat humored to read it and appreciate that the opinion was perfectly in the mainstream 100 years ago before such minor discoveries as genetics. Of course pointing out that natural selection was ever out of favor as a mechanism for evolution would require them to admit that their myth of a vast Darwinist conspiracy is just that, a myth. And it had been subject to vigorous debate. And heavily tested. And found wanting until a solid explanation for heredity (by people who largely did not believe natural selection was a significant factor in evolution) allowed for detailed empirical studies and a unification of biology.

harold said:

Also recently released by the DI

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/e[…]gent_design/

You can comment on the article. All letters to the editor (web comments don’t count for some reason), including those not printed, are tabulated and the end of the week, and a graph of agree vs disagree is printed.

You can comment on the article.

Unclear. The web page accepts comments on the op-eds and editorials, and is separate from letters to the editor. There are 50 on Meyers so far.

harold said:

Also recently released by the DI

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/e[…]gent_design/

I wonder how many “materialist evolutionary ideas” for the origin and diversity of life had actually been floated for discussion about fifty years prior to Darwin and Wallace writing on the role of natural selection, and before Darwin posited his ‘warm puddle’ guess for abiogenesis. I know there was Lamarckism around the turn of the 19th century.

Mike #1 -

There is indeed a Comments section associated with the Boston Globe article. As you can see via the link I provided, the comments, presumably mainly from Boston area readers, are predominantly negative.

Although I don’t live in Boston, a friend of mine does, and he frequently sends me some of the more ridiculous nonsense that’s published in the Globe. The comments generated by propaganda pieces are often negative. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Globe is going bankrupt. Management may have a stronger interest in maintaining a bully pulpit for creationism and related ideas, than for turning a profit for sap shareholders, for all I know.

HOWEVER, my point here is not to discuss the Boston Globe per se. My point is to draw the attention of PT readers to yet another intensely dishonest output from the DI, one with blatant political and legal overtones, so that it can be critiqued, not just in the limited Comments section provided by the Globe, but even more widely.

Mike said:

harold said:

Also recently released by the DI

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/e[…]gent_design/

You can comment on the article. All letters to the editor (web comments don’t count for some reason), including those not printed, are tabulated and the end of the week, and a graph of agree vs disagree is printed.

Meyers’ comments are based on the basic premise that Behe advanced, “IS,” aka “Irreducible Stupidity.”

harold said: HOWEVER, my point here is not to discuss the Boston Globe per se. My point is to draw the attention of PT readers to yet another intensely dishonest output from the DI, one with blatant political and legal overtones, so that it can be critiqued, not just in the limited Comments section provided by the Globe, but even more widely.

Harold,

Thanks for the link but there doesn’t appear to be anything new here. Meyer starts with an argument from authority. He makes the same bad analogy to software they ID crowd has been making for years. He makes the standard bald assertion that information can only come from intelligence - which, aside frome being pure bald assertion, also doubles as a bit of circular reasoning since its what ID says its trying to prove. Finally, he engages in a bit of deception by omission by talking about Jefferson’s ‘Nature’s God’ as if he supports such a concept, when in actuality he doesn’t. He’s probably hoping that readers won’t know the difference between Jefferson’s “Nature’s God” and the typical christian conception of God, and that they’ll think an argument for the former supports the latter. When, in fact, if Meyer’s argument for Jefferson’s Nature’s God was rock solid, it would actually refute the typical notion of the christian God. But he doesn’t want the reader to know this, so as I said, he indulges in a bit of deception by omission.

My letter to the Globe editor:

“I am rather appalled that the Globe would publish Stephen C. Meyer’s unscientific claptrap without any commentary from a reputable scientist. Ever since the leak of the “Wedge Strategy” document ten years ago we have known that the goal of the author’s Discovery Institute desires to “reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” They are biased, and try to mix science with religion, the opposite of what Jefferson would have ever wanted. Please, leave science to the scientists, and keep ideologically motivated ideas like Intelligent Design away from our education system.”

Earth, water, air, fire.

Water good, fire bad.

Evolution bad, too.

Oh, and no stinkin monkeys. Monkeys bad.

It seems as though the main strategy of all anti-evolutionists when they are losing is to simply crank up the output of their manure spreaders; apparently there is no upper limit to the amount of bullshit they can crank out in few minutes.

Answers in Genesis is also doing this on one of the religion channels on TV. It comes so thick and fast that it would be almost hopeless for someone to answer each injected piece of crap and out-of-context assertion as it comes out. The audiences don’t appear to grasp any of the concepts, but enjoy all the sly jokes that are slipped in practically every other sentence. They don’t have the slightest clue about what follows, or does not follow, from what.

You have to admit that these ID/creationist predators know their rubes. It doesn’t appear to be important to these clowns that scientists can recognize the crap instantly; it is only important to these IDiots what the rubes think.

Mike Elzinga said:

Answers in Genesis is also doing this on one of the religion channels on TV…

…You have to admit that these ID/creationist predators know their rubes. It doesn’t appear to be important to these clowns that scientists can recognize the crap instantly; it is only important to these IDiots what the rubes think.

So, creationist organizations are following a “tap the base for more support” strategy rather than an “increase the base by convincing outsiders” strategy. Good for them, we all know how well that works.

harold said:

Wow, what an embarrassment for MIT, University of Washington, and Harvard.

You said that it is an embarrassment. From this I conclude that this is an exception rather than a common state of affairs.

United States is constantly producing world-class scientists in all the fields of science. It is my understanding that the majority of those scientists are involved in teaching at university level. They all can’t be as incomprehensible lecturers as Einstein was. Naturally, I do understand that there are many more lecturers that are not internationally famous, but still possess solid understanding in their fields, maybe even combined with pedagogical skills.

Sometimes lousy PhD dissertations are passed. That happens all over the world. No big deal in itself, provided the percentage is low.

I have understood that you (at PT) are mainly concerned about attempts to introduce non-scientific material in the basic education. Do you think that those attempts are already seeping to the university level education? Is your emphasis (at PT) due to the fact that university education is not protected by your constitution?

(In order to make it easier for you to reply, I will disclose that I am already aware of Behe and Dembski, among others, and I have read in full the court decision in Dover).

Editor’s Note: Ann Gauger is a senior research scientist at Biologic Institute. Her work uses molecular genetics and genomic engineering to study the origin, organization and operation of metabolic pathways.

Gee, I wonder what she discovered and where she published it? I mean, if natural selection is impotent to produce any improvement in biological organisms, then I guess she must have genetic evidence of “poof”. Either that or she never published anything and has no idea what she is talking about. Either that or she is just plain lying through her teeth.

DS said: Gee, I wonder what she discovered and where she published it? I mean, if natural selection is impotent to produce any improvement in biological organisms, then I guess she must have genetic evidence of “poof”. Either that or she never published anything and has no idea what she is talking about. Either that or she is just plain lying through her teeth.

You’re being too narrow-minded. She could easily be both incompetent AND a liar.

She had several pubs in respectable journals back in the 1980s and the early 1990s. Here are the four I find in PubMed:

Gauger AK. The Drosophila kinesin light chain. Primary structure and interaction with kinesin heavy chain. J Biol Chem. 1993 Jun 25;268(18):13657-66.

Gauger A, Glicksman MA, Salatino R, Condie JM, Schubiger G, Brower DL.. Segmentally repeated pattern of expression of a cell surface glycoprotein in Drosophila embryos. Development. 1987 Jun;100(2):237-44.

Gauger A, Fehon RG, Schubiger G. Preferential binding of imaginal disk cells to embryonic segments of Drosophila. Nature. 1985 Jan 31-Feb 6;313(6001):395-7.

Riederer-Henderson MA, Gauger A, Olson L, Robertson C, Greenlee TK Jr. Attachment and extracellular matrix differences between tendon and synovial fibroblastic cells. In Vitro. 1983 Feb;19(2):127-33.

I see nothing since 1993, and nothing hinting at any expertise in molecular or morphological evolution, nor any in popgen.

Eric Finn -

Sometimes lousy PhD dissertations are passed. That happens all over the world. No big deal in itself, provided the percentage is low.

Yes, but what I think is embarrassing to MIT, UW, and Harvard, all extraordinarily good research universities overall, is not the quality of her thesis, which was not discussed here.

What is embarrassing to them is that her article, the one excerpted here, shows complete ignorance of any quantitative aspects of genetics or molecular biology. As Wesley Elsberry says, her approach in “innumerate”, despite the fact that she makes an implicitly quantitative argument.

During my undergraduate education, I became aware of the obvious fact that scientists had, of course, thought of the issue of whether or not genetic variability, natural selection, genetic drift, and so on could explain diversity over time, in a quantitatively rigorous way.

For someone to receive an undergraduate degree, and a PhD, and then do a post-doc, while not grasping the basics, is far more embarrassing than for someone to do a rather unimpressive PhD thesis. Most bad PhDs are produced by people who actually learned some science.

I have understood that you (at PT) are mainly concerned about attempts to introduce non-scientific material in the basic education.

Yes, that is correct. First of all, in the United States, it is illegal for the government to favor one religious sect over another. Virtually all science-denying material that is promoted for public school curricula in an organized way is sectarian in nature. Second of all, it is a bad idea in principle to teach bullshit as science.

Do you think that those attempts are already seeping to the university level education? Is your emphasis (at PT) due to the fact that university education is not protected by your constitution?

I am not currently an academic, but it does not seem to be. The mainstream university system is much more tolerant of academic debate than the high school system. This is as it should be, because the students are mainly adults, already equipped with basic education, and able to evaluate arguments from their professors critically.

This characteristic makes mainstream universities much less attractive to creationists. Their goal is to drum propaganda into a captive audience, not to engage with a critical classroom full of adults.

Of course, there are a fair number of private sectarian religious schools which do teach creationism, at all levels of education, as is their perfect right.

Eric Finn -

Behe and Dembski are actually good examples of creationists in legitimate universities.

Dembski was legitimately fired from Baylor, not for being full of crap (although poor quality of academic output would be a legitimate reason to deny tenure or fail to renew a contract), but for his disruptive and uncollegial way of dealing with colleagues. (This is my personal understanding, based on my recollections of what I have seen in the public record). Please note that Baylor is a private institution, affiliated with the Baptist faith, but that it is also a strong scientific research school.

Behe has been more astute at keeping his job. However, he is marginalized at the university. The department even has disclaimers in some of their printed material, emphasizing that his views are not accepted by others.

You may comment that this seems superficially better than the fate of say, Freshwater. After all, Behe still has his job (and a lot of money from books), and Dembski might have held onto his if he had been able to control himself (and is surely making more now at any rate).

However, this does not necessarily compare well with the fantasy of pounding propaganda into the heads of immature high school students, forcing them to regurgitate it, creating an atmosphere of social rejection for those who do not accept it, and so on.

Eric (not Finn) -

Thanks for the link but there doesn’t appear to be anything new here

Lol! No shit, Sherlock :). However, it is a new outburst, and it is worthwhile to keep track of them.

Eric -

No disrespect, of course, I’m emphatically agreeing with your interpretation.

You have to admit that these ID/creationist predators know their rubes. It doesn’t appear to be important to these clowns that scientists can recognize the crap instantly; it is only important to these IDiots what the rubes think.

Well, of course. Each rube and each scientist gets one vote. The long-term goal is to impose, using the force of civil authority, a set of public behaviors consistent with (one reading of) their (carefully cherry-picked) scripture.

This is how anti-abortionists came to be the political managers in Iraq, and how stem cell research slammed to a stop for nearly a decade. It’s a political agenda that doesn’t need to make sense, and might even do vastly more harm than good to everyone. But you don’t build a political or social power base by appealing to scientists, you do it by appealing to xenophobia, ignorance, and religion. To the extent that these are separate phenomena, of course.

Thanks RBH. That’s about what I thought.

So she has never published anything whatsoever on the origin of metabolic pathways and nothing at all having to do with selection, population genetics or drift. A perfect expert in the field for the DIsco tute.

Man why are these evilutionists so hung up on publications? Can”t anyone claim to be an expert in something without actually knowing anything about it? In this case she doesn’t even seem to realize that the field exists. Oh well, neither do the people she’s trying to fool. Of course this is exactly the kind of thing that drives people away from religion when they realize they have been lied to.

Wheels said:

I wonder how many “materialist evolutionary ideas” for the origin and diversity of life had actually been floated for discussion about fifty years prior to Darwin and Wallace writing on the role of natural selection, and before Darwin posited his ‘warm puddle’ guess for abiogenesis. I know there was Lamarckism around the turn of the 19th century.

This is discussed in Loren Eiseley’s book “Darwin’s Century”.

“So, creationist organizations are following a “tap the base for more support” strategy rather than an “increase the base by convincing outsiders” strategy. Good for them, we all know how well that works.”

The DI folks promote sign-up sheets at every one of their events where they capture the Rube’s info & request donations. They actually charge admission fees to some of their events as well. Yes, the DI is milking this to the utmost.

The Rube’s can vote, so can the DI, and so can their reps & senators and even GWB. It’s politics, and they’re out to win a popularity contest, and the masses seem to be on their side. They have a loaded gun aimed at science because every time you point out their failure they immediately run behind their god’s skirts for protection like little kids. And offending religion is a no-no, and they will milk this too to the utmost. They claim they represent the other side of science, and when they are exposed, they’ll always say you’re attacking their religion. As I said, it’s irreducible stupidity that is their pillar of strength.

BTW, I wrote ComCast regarding their new spokesperson - you might have heard of him or seen him in their recent ads on TV - the one and only Ben Stein.

DavidK Wrote:

BTW, I wrote ComCast regarding their new spokesperson - you might have heard of him or seen him in their recent ads on TV - the one and only Ben Stein.

Ironically we had switched to a competitor a few months before they hired the “expelled one.” Alas, I find the competitor’s “service” even more horrendous than Comcast’s. So my wife has been warned; one more incident, and cable is gone for good at our house.

More on-topic, I had wondered recently what has been going on at the Biologic Institute. Not that I had any doubts that it would be nothing but spin to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution. I’m not so sure that the DI is just “tapping the base” because between the rubes (those who won’t admit evolution under any circumstances) and the scientists, there is quite a large segment of the population that can go either way. They have little time or interest in the “debate” but tend to uncritically repeat sound bites like “the jury’s still out.”

Dr. Ann Gauger writes about ‘4 evolutionay forces’ then draws the non sequitor that since natural selection is ‘the weakest’ it can be dismissed - this is completely bogus for several reasons

I will illustrate by anology

there are 4 main forces in physics, electromagnetic, gravity, and the stong and weak nuclear forces. Since gravity is so much weaker thatn any of the others (insert appropriate maths) we can ignore it - I’ll demonstate my point- eloctromagnetc forces are largely what hold the crystal structure of theis wine glass together - I will drop it and gravity will pull it towards the earth, since the electromagnetic force is stonger than gavatic foree the glass will be unaffected — now watch.…..

Jason wrote:

“Dr. Ann Gauger writes about ‘4 evolutionay forces’ then draws the non sequitor that since natural selection is ‘the weakest’ it can be dismissed - this is completely bogus for several reasons I will illustrate by anology”

In baseball, hitting a home run is only one of many possible outcomes when the batter swings at a pitch. In fact, it is the most unlikely outcome. And you usually only get one run for a home run and that is usually not enough to win the game. Therefore, home runs can be safely ignored since they will be so rare and so inconsequential as to never affect the outcome of the game.

If only scientists had thought to quantify the effects of selection we wouldn’t be in this mess. Oh wait …

She is one of three researchers (sic) at the Biologic Institute, which is nothing more than an arm of the Discovery Institute? She hasn’t published since 1993? What has she been doing for the last 16 years, then? Has anyone ever visited these laboratories to confirm that they actually exist (and are in fact used for anything other than photo shoots)?

I love the irony of her having discovered a “beneficial mutation” in her own laboratory. There’s a Mastercard commercial in there somewhere - priceless!

Dr. Ann Gauger writes about ‘4 evolutionay forces’ then draws the non sequitor that since natural selection is ‘the weakest’ it can be dismissed - this is completely bogus for several reasons I will illustrate by anology

OOOh! Let me play!

When playing Russian roulette, blowing one’s brains out is the least likely outcome for any given trigger pull. At least 5 times as unlikely as successfully “missing”. Ergo, it can be dismissed.

Alas, I find the competitor’s “service” even more horrendous than Comcast’s. So my wife has been warned; one more incident, and cable is gone for good at our house.

There is a way to get TV that doesn’t require “service.” I’ve had satellite TV for more than ten years, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s the most satisfactory utility I’ve ever had.

Now if we could just get the science and history channels to do something more compelling than ESP and haunted houses.

midwifetoad Wrote:

Now if we could just get the science and history channels to do something more compelling than ESP and haunted houses.

You remind me of yet more reasons (as if the insane amount of commercials isn’t enough) why I watch almost no TV these days. CSI, Cold Case, football, and occasionally one of my wife’s HGTV shows is about it. So when that politician peddled “divine design” a few years back as an alternative to evolution, I had a good laugh.

midwifetoad said:

Now if we could just get the science and history channels to do something more compelling than ESP and haunted houses.

I’d be satisfied if they made a concerted effort to do modern-day Cosmos style miniseries instead of shows about interior design or crab fishing.

I now officially feel old. For several years in the 1960s I worked in Honeywell’s Development & Evaluation Lab, stress testing components of the Apollo Command Module control system. When the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base that day, all of us who had worked on the project breathed a mighty sigh of relief and exultation: The damned thing worked!

My amazement at the fact that the LEM actually worked as intended on it’s first field ‘trial’ and was even able to leave the moon’s surface and dock again has been growing over the years and I still find it hard to ‘believe’ it actually did! Even more amazing that the improvisations of Apollo 13 brought those guys safely to the moon and back again!

Did all that really happen;-)

Well, Apollo 13 was documented in a movie, and they don’t do that for things that didn’t happen, write? er, right?

Henry

The Dishonesty Institute has part 3 of their slick movies coming out on August 3:

“Premiere screening of Darwin’s Dilemma Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheef Auditorium, (1st and University Entrance) Cost: $20 per person (Pre-registration is necessary) Includes Dessert Reception prior to the screening

Darwin’s Dilemma recreates the prehistoric world of the Cambrian era with state-of-the-art computer animation, and the film features interviews with Discovery Institute scientists as well as leading evolutionary paleontologists such as Simon Conway Morris of Cambridge University and James Valentine of the University of California at Berkeley. The new film forms the conclusion of a trilogy of science documentaries by Illustra Media that includes the previous acclaimed films Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet. Don’t miss your chance to see this exciting new film at its exclusive Pacific Northwest premiere! Special honored guests for the evening will include biologists Dr. Richard Sternberg and Dr. Jonathan Wells.”

Appears they’re checking whose attending because they require preregistration, but that doesn’t make sense since they’ll have tickets for sale at the door, too. This way they can screen out all real scientists.

Morris is a known ID critic, but he also argues against what he sees as philosophical naturlism and for some quasi-mystical patterns behind biology. I wouldn’t be surprised if the interviews of him in the film are very… how shall we say.… selective? I have no idea how they intend to use Valentine, though. From what I’ve read about him he seems pretty firmly in the “materialist” camp, that is he doesn’t invoke God to explain things but natural processes.

Ray, find some evidence for your imaginary god and your preposterous delusions, or shut the fuck up. Facts or fuck off.

Since most evolutionists are Christians—-evolution is evidence of God—-right?

I will savour that one as an example of a perfect double-overhead reverse Poe in the tuck position. I really can’t tell if Ray is serious or not, considering that the statement is, on the face of it, obvious nonsense, but more! This is nonsense so elegantly refined, so gloriously confused on at least three levels, as to render it impossible to know what he thinks he’s driving at.

Essence of Poe taken to the realms of the highest and most rarified art!

Dave Luckett said:

I will savour that one as an example of a perfect double-overhead reverse Poe in the tuck position. I really can’t tell if Ray is serious or not, considering that the statement is, on the face of it, obvious nonsense, but more! This is nonsense so elegantly refined, so gloriously confused on at least three levels, as to render it impossible to know what he thinks he’s driving at.

Essence of Poe taken to the realms of the highest and most rarified art!

You forgot to answer the question:

“Since most evolutionists are Christians—evolution is evidence of God—right?”

The reply that you gave corresponds to the practice of “buying time.”

I have placed Atheists and evolutionists in a very difficult spot. My question, and your inability to answer forthrightly, exposes many lies told by supporters of evolution.

Ray Martinez said: You forgot to answer the question:

“Since most evolutionists are Christians—evolution is evidence of God—right?”

…I have placed Atheists and evolutionists in a very difficult spot. My question, and your inability to answer forthrightly, exposes many lies told by supporters of evolution.

Its not difficult. The correct answer is “wrong.” In fact its wrongity-wrong wrong wrong.

Most mainstream science supporters are probably not christians because christians account for only about 40% of the worlds population. Your “since x…y” logic is fundamentally flawed because your x (human belief in a God) bears no rational or logical connection to your y (God’s actual existence). Third, your statement implies there is a single agreed-upon definition of God, when there isn’t one. Fourth, it is not at all difficult for a mainstream science supporter of any religious faith - or none - to admit that many Christians accept the fact and theory of evolution. Last but not least, you phrased your question in a rhetorical manner. If you’d wanted an actual answer, you should have phrased it better.

I’m sure I missed a few more wrongs that other people can fill in. And Dave L - Ray’s serious.

Ray Martinez said:

Ray, find some evidence for your imaginary god and your preposterous delusions, or shut the fuck up. Facts or fuck off.

Since most evolutionists are Christians—-evolution is evidence of God—-right?

Wow, Ray, what total nonsense! And what a feeble attempt to hide from my demand for evidence! Then you have the gall to accuse Dave of buying time! The reply that you gave corresponds to the practice of “the pot calling the kettle black.”

Your “question” is a load of bullshit, as eric explained, but if your delusional mind can classify such nonsequitors as “logic” then you’re obviously too insane to ever hope to understand the explanation. Of course, you’re stated that you believe species are immutable, a belief which is totally contradicted by the evidence, so insanity is standard for you.

Not only does christian acceptance of evolution have no bearing whatsoever on the existence of any god, you yourself deny evolution, so you reject the very thing you’re trying to pretend constitutes evidence!

Again, facts or fuck off, asshole. Present some actual evidence to support your delusions, or admit you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Ray Martinez lied: I have placed Atheists and evolutionists in a very difficult spot. My question, and your inability to answer forthrightly, exposes many lies told by supporters of evolution.

What, like this lie?

Ray Martinez lied: “various segments in the evolutionary establishment” deny the round earth fact.

or maybe this lie?

Ray Martinez lied: I can produce quotes of evolutionists denying the round earth fact.

Of course, you never bothered to produce those quotes, even after repeated demands for evidence, because you knew full well you were lying. And your bullshit “question”, already torn to bloody shreds by sane people, is just another feeble attempt at cover for your lies.

As always, Ray, you lie. You lie without remorse, without understanding, without the slightest consideration for the truth. You lie as naturally as you breathe. Because you know that your delusions can only be kept alive by constant lying. Lying is your religion. You worship a lie, and you can’t see anything wrong with that, because the very idea of honesty is alien to you.

When did you ever care about evidence, Ray?

You’ve already made it clear long ago that you’ve commanded God to deny evolutionists, be they Christian or otherwise, salvation because they committed the unforgivable sin of not grovelling before your personal denial of reality.

eric said:

eric said: He makes the same bad analogy to software they ID crowd has been making for years. He makes the standard bald assertion that information can only come from intelligence - which, aside frome being pure bald assertion.

It’s my understanding that ID advocates make a distinction with respect to information. They argue that there is a vast gulf that separates the organic world from the inorganic world, and that that gulf is characterized in terms of information. For example, the matter that makes up dirt and the matter that makes up your body is the same, but the arrangement of that matter, in terms of information vastly differs. The question is how is purely natural forces able to bridge the gulf between the organic and inorganic? A living organism is not merely a lump of matter, it must be suitable structured. ID proponents acknowledge that there are two sources of information, intelligent agency and physical processes. They deny that these two sources of information exhaust all logical possible sources of information because it is conceivable that there could be non-physical random process that generates information also. So I don’t think it’s the case that ID advocates are asserting a bald assertion that information “can only” come from intelligence. For example, consider the difference between a raw piece of wood and an acorn. Raw pieces of wood do not have the power to assemble themselves into a ship. That requires an external source of information, namely a shipbuilder. But the activity of a designing intelligence informing or giving shape to raw materials are not the only intelligent agents capable of conferring information. Where is the designer that causes the acorn to develop into a full grown tree? The ID advocate would say there isn’t any. Because the acorn has the power to transform itself into an oak tree without the help of intelligent causation. So nature and design represent two different ways of producing information. Nature produces it internally, and the ship is built through powers external to it, a designing intelligence imposing a suitable structure on pieces of wood. Are they wrong in understanding information as coming from two sources?

And what, exactly, is the definition of “information”?

Are viruses designed or natural? Why? How much “information” is in, say, the polio virus, how does one measure it, and how does that show nature or design? How about prions?

Ant colonies: Natural or intelligent? How about beehives? Row after row of perfect hexagons, plus the complex formula for showing which cells will grow workers, warriors, queens, breeding males; surely that can’t be natural.

The organic molecules in space, how about those, natural or designed? Information content = ???

The sludge on Titan: natural or designed? Why? What if areas of the sludge are self-sustaining/replicating catalytic reactions?

The entire “information” argument is nothing but obfuscation and rationalization.

It’s as though they were treating information as if it were a substance that can only be moved from one place to another.

Colloquially, information is simply useful data, but to use that definition requires knowing to whom it is useful, and why.

Henry J said:

It’s as though they were treating information as if it were a substance that can only be moved from one place to another.

Colloquially, information is simply useful data, but to use that definition requires knowing to whom it is useful, and why.

Yeah; a guy makes a memo to himself in a cryptic arrangement of stones that only he can decode.

Then he dies. Is there still information in those stones?

des said:

[A 39-line long single paragraph.]

Des, the spacebar is your friend. Break up the paragraph into many pieces so that the logical flow of your argument is apparent.

… or the magnetic alignment of rock on the sea bed? It’ll tell you about the history of the earth’s magnetic field, but is it information if it stays on the sea bottom? Is it still information if no-one knows what it means?

Mike Elzinga said:

A guy makes a memo to himself in a cryptic arrangement of stones that only he can decode.

Then he dies. Is there still information in those stones?

Interesting. Consider the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. Did the information vanish from them when the last person fluent in hieroglyphics died? Did the information reappear when Young deciphered the Rosetta Stone?

It is my understanding that the encode project revealed that not only do we have a digital code inside the living cell, but that digital code is structured and organized in much the same way we use code inside of a digital computer.

There are “operating systems” in the cell, a “spell check” in the cell, there are files within folders way of organizing information, and this seems to be a challenge to the idea that inorganic matter evolved into organic living things in a mindless, undirected way.

Dr. Leroy Hood at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has conducted research focusing on the study of molecular immunology, biotechnology, and genomics describes this information as a digital code.

[http://www.systemsbiology.org/scien[…]roup/Profile]

Back to Crick’s sequence hypothesis, it is not the physical chemical properties of the four bases in the DNA molecule, it is their specific arrangement in accord with a convention that directs the cell to build all the proteins and the protein machines.

In discussing the genetic code, the following website notes that the sequence hypothesis states that the “messenger RNA thus acts as an intermediate in conveying information [emphasis added] from the sequence of nucleotides in DNA to the sequence of amino acids in the polypeptide chain.

[source: http://www.microbiologyprocedure.co[…]tic-code.htm]

I don’t think it’s the case that only intelligent design advocates that talk about “information.”

Des wrote:

“There are “operating systems” in the cell, a “spell check” in the cell, there are files within folders way of organizing information, and this seems to be a challenge to the idea that inorganic matter evolved into organic living things in a mindless, undirected way.”

That’s funny, that’s exactly what scientists have concluded. And your reason for refusing to believe this is exactly what? You don’t want to believe it? It’s way too complexified to have evolved? You need desperately to find proof that God exists?

Perhaps you can tell us what nucleotide sequence could not arise naturally? Perhaps you can tell us why all organisms share a virtually identical genetic code? Perhaps you can explain the nested hierarchy of genetic similarities found between all organisms?

And no, ID advocates are not the only ones who talk about information. They are however the only ones who think that a miracle is required in order to produce it.

Interesting how Des originally posted as if he were a casual, neutral observer. He is gradually revealing he is “Of The Body”, as it were.

Des, are you Trolling For Grades? Be honest, now.

And please, let’s not have any more of this “DNA is like computer code” bullshit, we went through that a couple months ago, what a mess.

Thank you.

des said:

There are “operating systems” in the cell, a “spell check” in the cell, there are files within folders way of organizing information, and this seems to be a challenge to the idea that inorganic matter evolved into organic living things in a mindless, undirected way. ….

I don’t think it’s the case that only intelligent design advocates that talk about “information.”

But it is the case that ID fanatics use rubber words that they can gradually bend and conflate to fit anything they want. That comes from their training in exegesis, hermeneutics, etymology, and emotional word-gaming.

Are there “information”, “computer files” and a “spell check” in a bunch of electrons, protons and neutrons about how to make all the different atoms? Where does this information reside?

Where does the information and computer files come from that instruct two oxygen atoms to form an oxygen molecule?

What information is being implemented when a bunch of neutral atoms form a liquid or solid?

Do carbon atoms contain a set of instructions on how to form graphite, or diamond, or Buckminster fullerenes?

Do water molecules contain a set of blueprints on how to form snowflakes?

Do carbon and hydrogen atoms have a set of instructions on how to form benzene rings or the millions of other hydrocarbon chains and molecules?

A rock rolls downhill in an earthquake. Does the rock contain a program or “information” about which way to roll?

What information guides the formation of a bunch of hanging icicles?

Where along the chain of increasing complexity and emergent phenomena does a set of instructions begin to appear about how a complex system is to proceed to the next level of complexity and organization? Can you pin that down precisely?

How is the word “information” being used; metaphorically, scientifically, vaguely?

Humpty-dumpty-ally?

fnxtr said:

Des, are you Trolling For Grades? Be honest, now.

Thank you.

The next few months and years should be “interesting”, given Dembski’s course requirements.

Little foraging trolls going out to pick up morsels of ID refutations and taking them back to the nest to be analyzed and mutated into new ID infections.

Maybe we should be having them carry back poisoned sugar snacks to their queen.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on July 15, 2009 2:58 AM.

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