Cornelius Hunter: Telltale Traces of a Non-Evolutionary Theory Sighted

| 77 Comments

by Joe Felsenstein, http://evolution.gs.washington.edu/felsenstein.html

Cornelius Hunter collects phenomena that he argues represent “failed evolutionary predictions”. He also argues that evolutionary biologists are making a “religious presupposition” when they insist that science must use methodological naturalism. When asked what supernatural methodology he would have us use instead, he admits that methodological naturalism is “generally a good way to do science” [in his comment on that post of January 29, 2010 11:05 PM], and says that he’s only complaining that we’re being unclear about the matter.

But his bottom line is that he wants to test evolutionary predictions without his ever putting forth any alternative scientific theory for comparison. Now, however, there are signs that he may have such a theory. In a post at his blog he invokes Bayes’ Theorem for an observation (O) and a theory (T):

P(T|O) = P(T) * P(O|T) / P(O)

Bayes’ theorem gives us a way to evaluate a theory given a series of observations. A difficulty, however, is that the probabilities are difficult to gauge. What is P(T), P(O|T) and P(O)? What we can do is use a conservative computation, giving evolution favorable treatment at every turn.

For instance, let’s assume we start out with a very high probability that evolution is true. Next, consider the ratio P(O|T) / P(O). If an evolutionist is certain that observation, O, will not be observed, then the numerator should be quite low, say one in a million or one in a thousand. If P(O) is 0.5 then the ratio would be 0.000002 or 0.002, respectively. But to be conservative, and give evolution favorable treatment, let’s set the ratio to 0.2, orders of magnitude greater than is reflected in the evolutionists expectations.

For our 14 falsified predictions, using these extremely conservative values, Bayes’ theorem tells us that evolution is a one-in-a-billion shot (0.000000000164 to be exact).

This is quite correct — if Cornelius Hunter can calculate the overall probability of the observation. He states it as 0.5 in his hypothetical case. But there is simply no way to calculate a value like 0.5 unless you have a non-evolutionary theory as well as the evolutionary theory. If Hunter thinks that such a calculation can be made, he must have his own theory. Let me explain why.

The denominator is simply the sum of the numerator terms over all possible theories . If there are just two theories and , the denominator is

In short, it’s the weighted average of the probabilities of the observation O given the different theories, each weighted by the prior probability of that theory.

If you want to do the calculation with only one theory, it’s possible to do that, but the result is boring. is then just one term , and the ratio is just , and since we only have one theory its prior probability , and the ratio turns out to always be 1. Which is reasonable if there is no alternative theory, but very uninteresting.

The lesson is simple: if you want to use Bayes’ Rule to calculate the posterior probability of evolution, you need at least one alternative scientific theory. As a sophisticated fellow, surely Hunter must have one in mind. The world awaits it with bated breath (his prior probabilities for the theories would be interesting too). Or else the world awaits Hunter’s admission that he didn’t know what he was talking about when he invoked Bayes’ Theorem.

77 Comments

My post was a Guest Contributor posting. Normally there is a several-day delay between my emailing it to the PT management, and it appearing. This time, owing to them being busy, it took much longer (20 days). In the meantime, the mathematical statistician Peter Olofsson commented at Cornelius Hunter’s blog, making essentially the same points I made above. After a number of exchanges with Cornelius Hunter, Olofsson concluded that

However, if one attempts to use Bayes’ theorem, everything comes down to the numbers one chooses, and you cannot avoid invoking alternative hypotheses and the probabilities of observations under these hypotheses.

The exchange will be found here (see the the comments section, particularly the comments from March 25, 2010 5:00 PM through March 26, 2010 5:27 PM).

Cornelius Hunter resolutely refused to provide an alternative Design hypothesis from which calculations could be made. He kept insisting that he could make conservative bounds on P(O|E)/P(O) (the two theories T were labelled E for evolution and D for Design in that exchange). Olofsson kept insisting that such bounds were not possible without specifying the Design theory.

Along the way, Hunter made several mistakes which Olofsson corrected:

# He acknowledged that he had said P(O) when he meant P(E),

# He stated that P(O|D) = 1 - P(O|E). Oloffson pointed out that this was not true, that probabilities of alternatives add up to 1 only when they were on the left side of the “given” sign. Hunter said that he was just assuming that equation as one possible numerical example.

# He assumed a value of P(O|E)/P(O) of 0.2. For the numbers he chose, Olofsson pointed out that this was an impossible value, that it could not be less than 0.91. Hunter then claimed that he had meant that 0.2 would be achieved, not for a single observation, but by combining the results of several observations.

The bottom line, as Olofsson ably points out, is that a Design hypothesis needs to be made explicit – which is something Hunter is never willing to do. He wants to test Evolution without ever saying what alternative he is using.

============

I should add one comment on the Olofsson/Hunter exchange. It is not true that evidence favoring Evolution will be expected to have P(O|E) be large. Consider DNA sequences. Under random substitutions in molecular evolution, there are a very large number of outcomes that could have occurred. Any one of them is very unlikely.

It is a similar situation when we toss coins. With a fair coin, any set of 100 tosses results in a sequence of Heads and Tails that has a probability of about 1 in 1030. Which is good, not bad. More tosses, and hence more data, mean a lower probability, and that means you have more evidence to tell the difference between different probabilities of Heads.

What provides evidence is the relative probability of the sequences on the assumption Evolution and on the assumption of Design. And for that you do need to know what the particular Design hypothesis is.

Or else the world awaits Hunter’s admission that he didn’t know what he was talking about when he invoked Bayes’ Theorem.

I pick Door Number 2 for $500, Alex.

Creationist misuses statistics. Film at 11. In other news, dog bites man and sky is blue.

That exchange is remarkably funny. Essentially everything Hunter said was nonsense, but rather than admit that he was simply making up his numbers, he kept changing and reversing his opinions.

Is Hunter normally that stupid?

He stated that P(O|D) = 1 - P(O|E).

These kinds of mistakes are interesting to study. They often give some insight into underlying misconceptions and/or biases. I have seen this often in ID/creationist writings over the year since Morris and Gish. You can often confirm such misconceptions from the way mistakes like this are subsequently used.

Was Hunter being influenced by that false dichotomy so prevalent in ID/creationism; namely, that an Observation that is not (yet) explained by Evolution automatically means Design is true?

That’s certainly what it looks like. I’m not real good with symbolic logic, but he’s saying that the probability of an event (observation) given design as an explanation is the exact inverse of the probability of that event (observation) given evolution?

That makes no sense at all.

Mike Elzinga said:

He stated that P(O|D) = 1 - P(O|E).

These kinds of mistakes are interesting to study. They often give some insight into underlying misconceptions and/or biases. I have seen this often in ID/creationist writings over the year since Morris and Gish. You can often confirm such misconceptions from the way mistakes like this are subsequently used.

Was Hunter being influenced by that false dichotomy so prevalent in ID/creationism; namely, that an Observation that is not (yet) explained by Evolution automatically means Design is true?

One other thing to note is that many of Luskin’s “falsified predictions” are either non-predictions, not falsified or otherwise so distorted as to be meaningless. The fact that he can’t do basic probability calculations is simply another problem.

There is another issue with Bayes Theorem in that the various theories, Ti, are usually assumed to be disjoint. It gets really messy if they are not.

In the case of T1 = E, and T2 = D, one could propose that E and D are not disjoint. That might produce some interesting – and to some ID/creationists – objectionable theology; to say nothing of confounded science observations.

But the problem actually goes deeper in that we very often encounter confounding factors in our observations.

There are other Ti’s, not necessarily related to the competing theories in question, affecting our observations, that we may or may not know about. We would not only have to know what such factors do to our observations, but we would also have to know how such influences are dependant on which theory(s) is/are true.

And the real world of experimentation and observation of complex systems is, in fact, quite messy. That is why real researchers spend so much time cross-checking and doing experiments and observations in a way that uncovers systematic and confounding issues.

This seems to be where ID/creationists fall flat on their faces. If research gets too hard for them, they throw up their hands and declare that goddidit, and then start writing books and giving speeches.

I think this whole thing is an elaborate Freudian slip. The guy’s obviously feeming. Anybody got a spare J(O|I)=N(T). I’d invite him over for a B+(O/N)G=(L|O)-A/D, but I think he’d be a buzzkill.

That’s certainly what it looks like. I’m not real good with symbolic logic, but he’s saying that the probability of an event (observation) given design as an explanation is the exact inverse of the probability of that event (observation) given evolution? That makes no sense at all.

Remmember, thisis what Bill Dembski used to say those days, if not evolution then design. Cornelius is the latest cdesign proponentist to repeat that tune. He is grinding the ground batter one more time - wish you knew Tamizh - in which you would say aracha mavaye tirippi arrakkeran

It’s comforting to see that creationists are as bad at math as they are at geology and biology.

James F said:

It’s comforting to see that creationists are as bad at math as they are at geology and biology.

And testifying in court.

James F said:

It’s comforting to see that creationists are as bad at math as they are at geology and biology.

It always feels worse when they are messing up one’s own field rather than some other person’s field. Oh well, at least they haven’t found a way to mess up number theory yet. So they aren just in my field generally now, not yet in my specific area…

I recommend Peter Olofsson’s technically accurate and highly readable articles on ID to everyone here.

What interests me is that Hunter wants to test evolution (and reject it) without stating any alternative hypothesis. We might imagine that a supernatural “poof” is his actual alternative. But then he seems to disavow this by embracing Methodological Naturalism after much criticism of scientists who invoke it. Is he having it both ways with MN, getting praise at Uncommon Descent from an audience that thinks he is slamming MN, while he actually admits that it is really OK? Similarly for arguing that he can reject evolution, without being clear in favor of what. (And of course as has been pointed out here, evolution and design are not even mutually exclusive).

Olofsson’s corrections make clear that he cannot do any of this using a Bayesian formula.

James F said:

It’s comforting to see that creationists are as bad at math as they are at geology and biology.

The really sad part is that that is exactly the kind of gibberish they’d have taught in the public schools.

Joe,

I see Cornelius taking issue with folks that cling to the “its may appear designed and have purpose but it really isn’t and doesn’t. Trust me, I’m a biologist and I KNOW” mindset.

If it quacks like a duck…

Joe Felsenstein said:

What interests me is that Hunter wants to test evolution (and reject it) without stating any alternative hypothesis. We might imagine that a supernatural “poof” is his actual alternative. But then he seems to disavow this by embracing Methodological Naturalism after much criticism of scientists who invoke it. Is he having it both ways with MN, getting praise at Uncommon Descent from an audience that thinks he is slamming MN, while he actually admits that it is really OK? Similarly for arguing that he can reject evolution, without being clear in favor of what. (And of course as has been pointed out here, evolution and design are not even mutually exclusive).

Olofsson’s corrections make clear that he cannot do any of this using a Bayesian formula.

James F said:

It’s comforting to see that creationists are as bad at math as they are at geology and biology.

They mangle the physics and chemistry also. A number of them are a bit skittish about using the 2nd law argument, but they still use all their misconceptions about thermodynamics.

Furthermore, their ideas of chemistry and condensed matter are that it is all spontaneous molecular chaos down there. That’s how they calculate their highly improbable assemblies of complex molecules and systems; uniform random sampling of non-interacting stuff just scattered around.

What a letdown! Here I was expecting something like what an alternative would be, or at least that someone was interested in starting off in that direction.

Both Joe and Peter have made some very good points, as there are many problems with Hunter’s Bayesian post. I would like to point out one more. Hunter’s analysis is a classic example of selection bias. Hunter is trying to calculate the posterior probability of evolution theory, but he is only using observations that (supposedly) contradict the theory (his “14 falsified predictions”). Even if he were correct that these 14 observations are low probability given that evolution is true, there are many, many other predictions that evolution has made that have been confirmed. You have to include those also. Of course you will end up with a low posterior probability for a hypothesis if you only include low probability outliers in the analysis. This is analogous to trying to find the average height of women in Boston by only looking at the centers on college women’s basketball teams.

So the probability of a theory being correct depends on how many other theories there are? Funny, I though that the evidence was the way to decide? So if creationists ever do come up with any untested hypothesis, that will somehow reduce the probability that evolution is correct? Really? Then why do they refuse to do so?

DS – Yes, in a Bayesian analysis, the probability of a theory depends on the other theories.

This brings up another point. Others have pointed out that you can’t test evolutionary theory in isolation using Bayes theorem, because you can’t calculate the normalizing constant P(O) without knowledge of alternative theories (if there actually are no alternatives then P(O) is trivial and the posterior probability of evolution P(E|O) is 1 – absolutely certain).

But let’s assume for the purposes of argument that Hunter can actually know P(O) without analyzing alternatives (perhaps God told him the correct value of P(O)). And let’s also assume, for the purposes of argument, that Hunter is correct that the posterior probability of evolution P(E|O) is something like one in a billion. Without alternative theories to compare against, this posterior is useless and tells us nothing. Perhaps the next best theory has a posterior probability of one in a trillion. If so, even though evolution has a low posterior probability, evolution is still 1000 times more probable than the best competitor!

This is just another reason why we must have alternative theories to compare against in order to make any meaningful or valid conclusions.

Sherlock Holmes often said that when one eliminates all other explanations, the one that remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

Given that there are no other explanations for many of the prominent features of the world of life, some explanation involving descent with modification, no matter how improbable, is the most likely.

One can make a parody of the argument that evolution is so improbable by doing a calculation of the probability that an intelligent designer without limits would have done it:

The probability of an event happening is a ratio of the number of cases in which the event happens divided by the number of cases which are consistent with the given explanation. In the extreme case, God can do anything, so the probability that God would choose to do such-and-such is something-or-other divided by infinity. That is, the probability that God would create a flagellum on a bacterium is zero. In any case, “intelligent designers” can “design” more things than “naturalism” can, so the probability of such-and-such, assuming ID, is always less than the probability, assuming naturalism.

TomS – The probabilistic analysis you just gave for ID is not a parody, it is correct. You’ve pinpointed the very problem with creationism trying to be a scientific hypothesis. In the absence of any knowledge of the Creator’s intent (and ID-ists vigorously deny that we can know the Designer’s intentions), we either (1) cannot assign probabilities to observations given the design hypothesis, or (2) we have to assign all possibilities equal probability (invoking the Bayesian “principle of indifference” or “principle of insufficient reason”), which amounts to all observations having a vanishing probability. Either way, the creation hypothesis loses – either it is undefined and hence untestable, or it has a vanishing probability of being true.

In the absence of any knowledge of the Creator’s intent (and ID-ists vigorously deny that we can know the Designer’s intentions),

Huh? I thought the Designer left an instruction manual called the bible. Plus a large number of Designer spokespeople known today as prophets, Popes, First Presidents, Televangelists and Internet Trolls.

Given the huge number of people who claim to have heard from the Designer and speak for it, there must be quite a lot of information on intentions floating around.

Sherlock Holmes often said that when one eliminates all other explanations, the one that remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

This only applies if one eliminates all other explanations, two commonly overlooked details. A classic example of misapplying this argument is done by Josh McDowell in his Evidence That Demands A Verdict. He goes down a list of possibilities regarding who moved the stone on Jesus’ grave, and, perhaps even reasonably, shows each one is unlikely. And at the bottom of his list, left uneliminated, is Jesus himself.

But of course, McDowell did not actually eliminate the other explanations, he just argued they were unlikely. Had he ordered his list in some other way, with Jesus first, say, he’d have been left with some other explanation. Moreover, McDowell did not consider all possible explanations, including Martians, rocs, and walking squids.

Hang on… What’s Bayes got to do with this ?

From the point of view of philosophy of science: the guy is implying that Bayes’ theorem enables him to topple a theory if it can’t explain a single, specific observation… ?

From the point of view of probability: he’s saying that he can (or could) compute the probability of something that is either true of false (ie “the theory of evolution is right”) and find something different than 0 or 1?

TomS said:

What a letdown! Here I was expecting something like what an alternative would be, or at least that someone was interested in starting off in that direction.

I bet you were. :-) Like I “expect” to win the PowerBall jackpot whenever splurge and buy 5 tickets. But I too did hope for something beyond the same old incredulity of “Darwinism” given the highlighted text in Joe’s article.

So let’s remind every Biblical literalist (YEC or OEC variety) who hangs his hopes on the DI’s “science”: the best they have so far in terms of a potential alternate explanation completely concedes a ~4 billion year history of life in which modern H. sapiens shares common ancestors with, but did not coexist with, dinosaurs.

It’s quite simple. If Hunter wants a “theory” that gives Biblical literalist any hope, he has to refute the one endorsed by Behe and PT’s own “beg tenter” Steve P. And as we know that’s the easy part.

I meant “big tenter” of course. Must be a “darwinian” slip given how I equate anti-evolution activists with panhandlers. :-)

DS said:

So the probability of a theory being correct depends on how many other theories there are? Funny, I though that the evidence was the way to decide? So if creationists ever do come up with any untested hypothesis, that will somehow reduce the probability that evolution is correct? Really? Then why do they refuse to do so?

Yes; the probability that a particular theory Tk is true, given that you have made a particular observation Oi , is the ratio of the probability of that particular observation in the presence of that particular theory multiplied by the probability of that theory being true, all divided by the sum over ALL theories of the probabilities of that particular observation in the presence of each of those theories , each being multiplied by the probability of that theory being true.

P(Tk|Oi) = (P(Oi|Tk) P(Tk))/(sum(j, 1, N, P(Oi|Tj) P(Tj))

This assumes the theories are disjoint (it is more complicated if they are not), and sum(j, 1, N, …) means the sum on j from 1 through N of the j-indexed probabilities that follow.

In the case Hunter is discussing, there are only two theories he is considering, and he isn’t saying anything about one of them.

Frank J said:

Since you apparently torture yourself reading more anti-evolution material than I do, have you come across any refutations from the DI?

:-)

And torture it is. I really hate digging into these works; but it is necessary in order to deconstruct their thinking about science.

I am not as interested in the disagreements among sectarians as I am in trying to analyze their misconceptions and mischaracterizations of scientific concepts. You seem to have a much better grasp of their sectarian conflicts than I do.

While many of these misconceptions and mischaracterizations of science are rooted in or motivated by their sectarian dogmas, it is surprising how similar these are across most of the sectarian dogmas out there.

Science, and the template it provides for skeptical investigation, is a huge threat to them. Their method of removing the threat is to make science appear to support dogma, attribute their distortions to science and scientists, and then attack real scientists for being so stupid about “their own science.”

This tactic appears to be an evolution of the taunting they often did in order to climb onto the coattails of real scientists. The science community caught on to this trick and doesn’t bite very often any more. So the anti-science crowd appears to use the non-responses of scientists as validation of their own misconceptions, and they have become ingrained across the sectarian spectrum.

I can trace both Ham and his crowd along with the DI crowd back to Morris and Gish and the ICR. There are common (mis)conceptual roots whether or not they would acknowledge this; and they often manage to get in a few digs at each other.

But refutations from the DI? I certainly haven’t seen any; but I am not even sure what such a refutation would look like or mean.

Pseudo-scientists using pseudo-science to refute pseudo-science would be quite funny to watch, however. More of the exegesis, hermeneutics, etymology, and excruciating word-gaming I would suspect. You get some hint of this from that “Great Debate” series hosted by John Ankerberg. Much of it, however, revolves around dogma about the literal interpretation of Genesis and the meaning of “day.”

(I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I watched the whole damned thing.)

I should add that in that “Great Debate” series, Hugh Ross clearly shows his skepticism of Jason Lisle’s glib tossed-off arguments.

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

But refutations from the DI? I certainly haven’t seen any; but I am not even sure what such a refutation would look like or mean.

I didn’t expect any, but would not be disappointed if I were wrong. A simple “we find Behe’s conclusions regarding the age of life and common descent more convincing than AiG’s” would suffice, but it’s not in the DI’s interest to say that or the opposite.

Since you mention the YEC/OEC debate over the Bible’s meaning of “day” it’s worth repeating that Behe does not think that Genesis either qualifies as evidence or has any literal interpretation verified by evidence. But I would not expect him to debate YECs or OECs on that. IIRC he only admitted that to show how some “Darwinists” don’t “understand ID.”

Frank J said:

I didn’t expect any, but would not be disappointed if I were wrong. A simple “we find Behe’s conclusions regarding the age of life and common descent more convincing than AiG’s” would suffice, but it’s not in the DI’s interest to say that or the opposite.

The current tactics being used by the DI are illustrated by the most recent post over on Uncommonly Dense.

It has entered the surreal stage of distorting all reality by accusing the science community of doing exactly what the DI crowd is doing and has been doing all along. They are stealing the accusations of science against them and using them against science.

It seems to me that the only way to cut through the fog these IDiots are generating is to actually compare their conceptual knowledge against objective reality. That we can do; and we can see where their ideas about scientific concepts are sterile and wrong objectively. That always has to be pointed out. It may have to form part of the foundation of any court cases against them.

But the arguments among sectarians, while less useful in court, have to be included in the analysis of their motivations. The historical record of sectarians grabbing the reins of government is not pretty. So the public needs to know just how ugly these sectarian disagreements can be.

I know very little about rhetoric, but I have understood that one of the oldest tricks in the book is to accuse your opponent of doing something just before you set out to do it yourself. This is a way of immunizing your argument from the accusation. If someone makes the accusation, it looks like they’re engaging in a “tu quoque” (“you’re one, too”).

TomS said:

I know very little about rhetoric, but I have understood that one of the oldest tricks in the book is to accuse your opponent of doing something just before you set out to do it yourself. This is a way of immunizing your argument from the accusation. If someone makes the accusation, it looks like they’re engaging in a “tu quoque” (“you’re one, too”).

From the very beginning of their political campaign back when ICR was formed, another tactic involved turning right around and using refuted caricatures of science and scientific evidence in every new venue.

The very fact that they engage in these kinds of tactics is sufficient evidence of the political nature of ID/creationism. If this is Christian behavior, it is certainly indistinguishable from diabolical behavior.

I personally think that it is long past time that we poison the well against the DI, AIG and all their ilk. It’s a dirty political tactic, but after all, this whole debate is about religion and politics. They could change that by doing legitimate research. But then they’d become evil evolutionists.

We know the DI is a nest full of dirty liars. I’m not sure about Ken Ham. Is he nutzo? Is he a liar? Is he both? I personally lean towards the nutzo hypothesis, but that may just be me.

Jesse said:

We know the DI is a nest full of dirty liars. I’m not sure about Ken Ham. Is he nutzo? Is he a liar? Is he both? I personally lean towards the nutzo hypothesis, but that may just be me.

Ken Ham appears to be a snake oil salesman pure and simple. A lot of his motivation is in gaining a lucrative market share of the terrified and paranoid sectarian rubes he finds in this country.

If you watch him for a while, you will note that he has a standard spiel of demonizing and dogmatic assertions. Just watching him argue against other sectarians is an interesting study in itself.

A lot of his energy goes into marketing; and he has a pretty slick marketing team.

Mike Elzinga said:

Ken Ham appears to be a snake oil salesman pure and simple. A lot of his motivation is in gaining a lucrative market share of the terrified and paranoid sectarian rubes he finds in this country.

That was why he broke with his former Australian partners concerning Answers In Genesis.

Unfortunately Ken Ham seems to come across more and more like an Australian version of Kent Hovind. Unfortunately for us, he seems to be a bit more ethical than Hovind was.

Stanton said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Ken Ham appears to be a snake oil salesman pure and simple. A lot of his motivation is in gaining a lucrative market share of the terrified and paranoid sectarian rubes he finds in this country.

That was why he broke with his former Australian partners concerning Answers In Genesis.

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately Ken Ham seems to come across more and more like an Australian version of Kent Hovind. Unfortunately for us, he seems to be a bit more ethical than Hovind was.

More ethical or just more heterosexual?

It’s a regrettable, but necessary tactic, Jesse:

Jesse said:

I personally think that it is long past time that we poison the well against the DI, AIG and all their ilk. It’s a dirty political tactic, but after all, this whole debate is about religion and politics. They could change that by doing legitimate research. But then they’d become evil evolutionists.

We know the DI is a nest full of dirty liars. I’m not sure about Ken Ham. Is he nutzo? Is he a liar? Is he both? I personally lean towards the nutzo hypothesis, but that may just be me.

I subscribe to their Nota Bene agitprop e-mail newsletter and one of the best recent examples of their commitment toward disseminating mendacious intellectual pornography is their latest summer “seminar” series for worthy undergraduates to be taught by the DI’s resident staff of mendacious intellectual pornographers plus visitors (e. g. Nelson, Wells, Behe, Luskin, etc. etc.). They offer ideologically correct undergraduates - who have been vetted either by letters of recommendation from sympathetic faculty or phone interviews with DI Staff - an all expense paid (except for travel expenses, though they may be partially waived) nine-day seminar “educating” - or rather indoctrinating - them on ID as noted here:

http://www.discovery.org/csc/summerseminar/

Of course this is quite pathetic, but what else can we expect from them?

More “ethical” in the sense he was able to get a decent looking “natural history museum” established, and has a slick series of kiddie books which Trotsky and Himmler would be especially proud of:

Alex H said:

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately Ken Ham seems to come across more and more like an Australian version of Kent Hovind. Unfortunately for us, he seems to be a bit more ethical than Hovind was.

More ethical or just more heterosexual?

I misspoke. I meant Trotsky and Goebbels:

John Kwok said:

More “ethical” in the sense he was able to get a decent looking “natural history museum” established, and has a slick series of kiddie books which Trotsky and Himmler would be especially proud of:

Alex H said:

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately Ken Ham seems to come across more and more like an Australian version of Kent Hovind. Unfortunately for us, he seems to be a bit more ethical than Hovind was.

More ethical or just more heterosexual?

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

If you watch him for a while, you will note that he has a standard spiel of demonizing and dogmatic assertions. Just watching him argue against other sectarians is an interesting study in itself.

Whatever he personally believes regarding the whats, whens, wheres and hows of the origin of Earth, life, species, etc., he seems at least honest in the sense that he truly believes that the “masses” need to believe the YEC story, and that the only effective way to do that is to preach it outright. Which means occasionally criticizing OEC and ID claims (specific statements regarding the age of Earth, etc.) as well as their approach (what to say, what to leave out, etc.).

I guess he’s right that a “direct YEC” approach sells better, but probably only to the ~25% or so who would not admit evolution under any circumstances. The OECs among them would just overlook the differences (“we agree to disagree on ages, but we agree on much more important things”). The group I’m more worried about - an additional ~25%, or ~50% if you count those who accept evolution but thinks it’s fair to “teach the controversy” - mostly ignores people like Ham and Hovind. But they do seem to have bought into a lot of DI anti-evolution sound bites. The DI’s approach might not be as profitable in terms of sales to the “masses” (apparently they’re more interested in donations from billionaires anyway) but it is necessary to keep that other 25-50% fooled. And of course necessary for any legal battles after “Edwards v. Aguillard.”

Frank J said:

Whatever he personally believes regarding the whats, whens, wheres and hows of the origin of Earth, life, species, etc., he seems at least honest in the sense that he truly believes that the “masses” need to believe the YEC story, and that the only effective way to do that is to preach it outright. Which means occasionally criticizing OEC and ID claims (specific statements regarding the age of Earth, etc.) as well as their approach (what to say, what to leave out, etc.).

The clear pattern in every one of their talks about science is to overwhelm the audience with misconceptions, mischaracterizations, and misinformation. Within the first 5 minutes of any of these talks there is so much bullshit on the table that the vast majority of people in an audience goes cross-eyed with confusion and simply relaxes into the spell of the speaker.

Ham’s basic argument is that all the evil in the United States, and the world, is due to churches agreeing with science about things like evolution and “millions of years,” as he frequently put it. This, he claims, undermines the authority of the Bible and thereby leads to that slippery slope of rejecting morality altogether. He uses fear and distain for the secular and those who make accommodations with science throughout much of his presentations.

Then he uses his “scientists” to build caricatures of science, which they then attribute to the science community. The next step is to get the audience chuckling over the stupidity of scientists who can’t see the “obvious consequences” of “their own” science.

It’s a nasty game. And there is little question that they have meetings among themselves to determine how they are going to make these presentations. They all hold to pretty much the same pattern of delivery.

I have still been tracking the evolution in their distortions of scientific concepts in response to pointed refutations of their pseudo-science by the science community. They are consistently and deliberately accusing scientists of making the very errors that ID/creationists have been making for years. They subtly modify their own presentations, in response to criticisms, to make it appear that they are using the correct concepts, but invariably they inject a gotcha that is suppose to make scientists look stupid. However, these “corrections” simply insert other misconceptions into ID/creationist pseudo-science.

I know I am beating this to death, but following the evolution of their concepts of thermodynamics reveals the template they are following throughout the rest of science. I still think that thermo reveals their most fundamental misconceptions and fears. No matter what they agree to about inorganic matter, they have to work in a “mechanism” that forbids evolution and abiogenesis. That lies at the heart of their fear of evolution and “millions of years.”

The OECs among them would just overlook the differences (“we agree to disagree on ages, but we agree on much more important things”).

I haven’t checked carefully, but does Ham’s organization allow any OECs?

That “Great Debate” series hosted by John Ankerberg would suggest that the strains between YECs and OECs are too great to be accommodated within Ham’s organization.

Frank J wrote:

“Whatever he personally believes regarding the whats, whens, wheres and hows of the origin of Earth, life, species, etc., he seems at least honest in the sense that he truly believes that the “masses” need to believe the YEC story, and that the only effective way to do that is to preach it outright. Which means occasionally criticizing OEC and ID claims (specific statements regarding the age of Earth, etc.) as well as their approach (what to say, what to leave out, etc.).”

I recently went to a debate where a YEC quoted Behe using the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum as an argument that disproved evolution. When asked if Behe accepted that the earth was young the reply was that Behe is an evilutionist! Very interesting that someone would use the irreducible complexity argument to claim that evolution was disproven, then admit that the guy who came up with the idea reached no such conclusion. This is a contradiction that should be exposed at every opportunity.

Of course this guy also claimed that the “Cambrian explosion” included vertebrates, so hopefully everyone realized that he was completely ignorant and lying through his teeth already. Or maybe not.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on April 13, 2010 5:07 PM.

Casey Luskin: Fish in a Barrel was the previous entry in this blog.

Atheist philosopher Antony Flew dies is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter