Casey Luskin Has Come Unstuck In Time

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Casey Luskin takes note of the Elsberry and Shallit essay in Synthese 2011/01 in this way:

I would have hoped that if Weber, a biochemist, was going to refute intelligent design, he would have provided more detail. Weber might protest that such an argument would be more appropriate to make in a scientific journal rather than a philosophy journal. What are we to make, then, of the fact that Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit have a technical and scientific response to William Dembski in the issue of Synthese?

It turns out that Elsberry and Shallit have a sophisticated but extremely out-of-date contribution in the issue which seems based upon their old 2003 article, “Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski’s Complex Specified Information.” In fact, their piece in Synthese has exactly the same title as that old piece. This out-of-date paper has only one citation post 2004, and it isn’t to a paper that deals with the work of Dembski. In terms of their citations to Dembski’s work, their latest citation is 2004, despite the fact that Dembski has published multiple peer-reviewed papers in recent years studying the origin of information.

We submitted our essay to Synthese on 2009/03/23. It was released online by 2009/04/20. It appears in print in the January 2011 issue. In general, authors can only respond to papers that are published before the date of publication.

So let’s look at the list of “peer-reviewed papers in recent years” that Casey says shows that we weren’t keeping up with Dembski. I’ve scraped these from the linked page and added dates and elapsed time values from our essay submission date.

Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search
William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
Published 2009/10, 6 months after our submission

Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success
William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
Published 2009/09, 6 months after our submission

LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information
William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
Published 2009/06/16, 2.5 months after our submission

The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search
William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
Published 2010/04/01, 12 months after our submission

Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle [with Erratum]
Winston Ewert, George Montañez, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II
Conference held 2010/03/07-09, 11 months after our submission

Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism
Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
Published 2009/10, 6 months after our submission

A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information
George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II
Published 2010, at least 8 months after our submission

Not a one of the linked papers Casey referred to was published prior to our essay’s submission. Casey obviously expects critics either to shut up entirely or to be clairvoyant.

It should also be noted that the papers Casey erroneously cites aren’t delivering modifications of Dembski’s “complex specified information” concept. Nor do they set aside any of the concerns we raised about Dembski’s earlier outings in critiquing evolutionary computation. Quite the contrary, Dembski has elaborated his “probability amplifier” tosh into what he now calls “active information”. If Casey believes that an argument of ours would be significantly affected by something presented in those papers, he is welcome to be specific: identify which argument of ours he thinks is affected, and which part of the very recent papers bears upon it, and how it actually relates to our argument.

In any case, trying to claim that an essay should cite papers published after its submission is simply the level of argument we’ve come to expect from Casey Luskin. Coming unstuck in time may happen to Casey, but the rest of us have to experience things sequentially as they happen.

(Original post at the Austringer.)

43 Comments

Poo-tee-tweet

Past, present, future? Concepts much too complicated for Luskin to comprehend.

Casey wrote:

“I would have hoped that if Weber, a biochemist, was going to refute intelligent design, he would have provided more detail.”

Well, I would have hoped that if Dembski, a hack mathematician with no training in biology, was going to propose intelligent design as a scientifically plausible hypothesis, he would have provided more detail. You know, like who did what, where, when, how and why. That kind of detail. You know, the kind of detail required of every plausible hypothesis.

If ID proponents never change their arguments, why would they expect real scientists to change their refutations? Just another benefit of opposing those who never read the literature, do any research or have any original ideas. If you try to recycle to same old debunked crap over and over with different words, why would you be surprised when no one is fooled?

By the way, exactly where is Dembski publishing all of these earth shaking papers? Are they really in real journals? Are they really in biological journals? Do they really deserve a real response from real scientists?

Karen S. said:

Past, present, future? Concepts much too complicated for Luskin to comprehend.

He probably thinks that the Theory of Relativity is something to do with whether he is descended from the Bishop of Oxford on his father’s side or his mother’s.

More to the point, has anything that Dembski has produced since 2003 actually addressed any of the criticisms made in the 2003 article that Luskin mentions, or has there only been more complex unspecific obfuscation?

I thought comments were going to be allowed at EN&V, but so far I haven’t found any articles where this is possible. What’s up with that?

It should also be noted that the papers Casey erroneously cites aren’t delivering modifications of Dembski’s “complex specified information” concept. Nor do they set aside any of the concerns we raised about Dembski’s earlier outings in critiquing evolutionary computation.

I have discussed this in two posts here and here at PT in 2009. As you note, those newer arguments of Dembski’s are not part of his Complex Specified Information. The earlier argument (the Design Detector and the Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information) are intended to prove that adaptative information coded in the genome cannot be increased by natural selection. As a number of people, including you and I, have shown, his argument is fallacious.

Instead of replying to the demolition of his work, as any good scientist would have to do, Dembski has put out a new argument, which is on a different topic and does not even argue against the ability of natural selection to make organisms more adapted. My posts point this out.

Dembski does not even attempt to defend his earlier DD and LCCSI arguments, but they are alive and well as urban legends on the Internet, invoked by creationist commenters whenever they claim that Complex Specified Information cannot be put into genomes by natural selection. They seem unaware that these arguments, central to Dembski’s reputation, have collapsed and are not being defended by him.

Kevin B said:

More to the point, has anything that Dembski has produced since 2003 actually addressed any of the criticisms made in the 2003 article that Luskin mentions, or has there only been more complex unspecific obfuscation?

When Dembski seemed to be saying in 2008 that he had abandoned his design-detecting Explanatory Filter (the one that relies on his Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information), he was quick to reaffirm his support of it … but he has never bothered to answer any of the fatal criticisms of it.

He probably thinks that the Theory of Relativity is something to do with whether he is descended from the Bishop of Oxford on his father’s side or his mother’s.

And that radiometric dating is immoral.

Another thing Luskin misses is that, although submitted in 2009, I think that a number of those pieces go further back. E.g. Pennock’s was pretty much written in 2007 (it is the same article as is published in But Is It Science, to which the articles were submitted in 2007).

Yes, I’m sure Luskin is miffed by the lack of detail. He’s right, you know. It’s all in the details. Detail, detail, detail!

I would expect Luskin to be able to bring DI Fellow Dr. Dr. Dembski to bear on the level of detail that makes a good argument.

Why, here’s the good Dr. Dr. now on the subject from ca. 2006:

As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.”

The “pathetic level of detail” isn’t what’s really pathetic, is it Luskin?

Well, Dembski’s theodicy has Adam’s sin, like the saboteur Higgs boson some have proposed, traveling back in time to create mischief and red-claw-and-tooth conditions prior to its own occurrence. So by the same reasoning Luskin’s criticism makes sense.

Casey is displeased that you didn’t have to match Dembski’s pathetic level of detail? Also, sad to see that this “criticism” of your paper isn’t one of those with comments enabled. Absent that, perhaps you should fire off an email asking for a correction. Be sure to post the negative response!

That’s an “Oops”. Let us know if Casey apologizes and retracts his claims (at least on the papers he listed). I’m curious to know if he will at least acknowledge a blatant factual error.

There appears to be a clear pattern of throwing up smoke screens (or injecting ink into the water) with these ID/creationists whenever they get critiqued.

Besides making all kinds of unphysical assumptions about how physical systems behave, that Dembski and Marks paper throws sand in the face by introducing “endogenous information,” exogenous information,” and “active information.”

With their lock combination for example, instead of comparing the difference between a solution space containing all integers with that containing only the odd integers and noting that the latter problem is half as difficult, they take logarithms to base 2 of each solution space, give them new names, subtract, and call it “active information.”

Why in hell would anyone do that unless it is to keep the allure of “information” in the picture while scrambling for another way to get around the refutations of one’s previous attempts at obfuscation?

Mike Elzinga said:

Why in hell would anyone do that unless it is to keep the allure of “information” in the picture while scrambling for another way to get around the refutations of one’s previous attempts at obfuscation?

The creobot ultimate weapon: the 100-kilotonne information bomb, detonated by airburst to indiscriminately radiate confusion over the landscape.

I’m really learning to wince when the word “information” is used – pity, it used to be a perfectly good word, but it’s been hauled through the cattle paddock and now it’s got it all over its shoes.

I vote for “functionality” as an alternative: instead of “increase in genetic information” we get “enhancement of genetic functionality”. Unfortunately, that simple invites “functionality” being given its turn in the cattle paddock.

Well, Dembski’s theodicy has Adam’s sin, like the saboteur Higgs boson some have proposed, traveling back in time to create mischief and red-claw-and-tooth conditions prior to its own occurrence. So by the same reasoning Luskin’s criticism makes sense.

That’s a good one!

Karen S. said:

Past, present, future? Concepts much too complicated for Luskin to comprehend.

To the contrary. Obviously his concept of time is, like, way sophisticated. Pass the shrooms (and the bong), dude. Far out.

Not being a biologist I just wondered if this latest paper which shows the ways organisms deal with mistakes that occur while the genetic code in their cells is being interpreted and which greatly influences their ability to adapt to new environmental conditions – in other words, their ability to evolve.http://www.sciencedaily.com/release[…]25172418.htm

Wes - I think that Casey came unstuck a LOOOOOONG time ago. Around 4.5 billion years ago… which = 6,000 years ago in Luskin Time.

You people are sooo mean to Casey. So maybe he don’t read so good, and understand reality all that well, but maybe his Discovery Institute masters forced him to get something out, or he would be fired? Did you ever think of that? No, I didn’t think so. Or what if he just made a simple mistake, because The Baby Jesus told him to hit the send button before he was ready? Did you ever think of that? I’ll bet not.

So the next time you smartypants that all are smarter than me, I mean Casey, that thinks it’s so easy to overcome reality with rightwing DI talking points, are welcome to give it a try yourselves. So there.

ps: And please stop making fun of [s] my[/s] Casey’s lack of intelligence and funny eyebrows.

mrg said:

I vote for “functionality” as an alternative: instead of “increase in genetic information” we get “enhancement of genetic functionality”. Unfortunately, that simple invites “functionality” being given its turn in the cattle paddock.

Unfortunately they have hauled “functionality” through the cow pi’s also.

It is now a “barrier” to the laws of physics and chemistry producing complex systems; physics and chemistry cannot produce “functional” systems (whatever the hell that means).

Now now, when you’re a Timelord like Luskin to whom the entirety of human knowledge is as an open book, one doesn’t preoccupy oneself with such trivia. But I wonder who he chose/is choosing/has chosen as his decorative companion? Denyse O’Leary, perhaps.

Jim Foley said: But I wonder who he chose/is choosing/has chosen as his decorative companion?

As they fly through spacetime in the ReTardis.

mrg said:

Jim Foley said: But I wonder who he chose/is choosing/has chosen as his decorative companion?

As they fly through spacetime in the ReTardis.

Less on the inside than on the outside

By the way, exactly where is Dembski publishing all of these earth shaking papers? Are they really in real journals? Are they really in biological journals? Do they really deserve a real response from real scientists?

Some of the venues are computer science-oriented conferences with proceedings. Some are publications like the IEEE “Systems, Man, and Cybernetics” journal, where the reviewers aren’t precisely matched to the content submitted. And then they also include stuff in the DI IDC “journal”, “Bio-Complexity”.

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

By the way, exactly where is Dembski publishing all of these earth shaking papers? Are they really in real journals? Are they really in biological journals? Do they really deserve a real response from real scientists?

Some of the venues are computer science-oriented conferences with proceedings. Some are publications like the IEEE “Systems, Man, and Cybernetics” journal, where the reviewers aren’t precisely matched to the content submitted. And then they also include stuff in the DI IDC “journal”, “Bio-Complexity”.

Thanks Wes. So in other words, no. None of these seem to be in any real journal having anything to do with biology. None of them really deserve a response form any real scientist. I guess that explains why the journal isn’t listed in the references provided.

You would think that the fact that he has gotten a real response would make him happy. Sure he got bitch slapped, but at least he got noticed. Instead he gets other people to whine about how all of his future work was ignored in the past!

Why on earth would someone claim to have destroyed the most predictive and explanatory theory in all of biology without actually publishing anything in any real biology journal? Unless of course the guy isn’t a real biologist and doesn’t have the faintest clue what he is talking about. I guess that would explain it.

DS:

Why on earth would someone claim to have destroyed the most predictive and explanatory theory in all of biology without actually publishing anything in any real biology journal?

Why, because of the danger, if one submits to a real biology journal, that one’s paper will actually be reviewed, possibly by reviewers who understand the subject. That’s too big a risk.

J-Dog said:

Wes - I think that Casey came unstuck a LOOOOOONG time ago. Around 4.5 billion years ago… which = 6,000 years ago in Luskin Time.

Has Casey ever stated his position on the ages of the Universe, Earth and life? I don’t mean the usual vague pandering to YECs that all DI folk do, but unequivocal answers that make it clear that he thinks that some self-described creationists are dead wrong?

Dembski, Behe, and a few other major players at the DI have made it clear that they accept mainstream science’s conclusions. Has Casey ever publicly challenged them if his answers differ?

Frank J said:

J-Dog said:

Wes - I think that Casey came unstuck a LOOOOOONG time ago. Around 4.5 billion years ago… which = 6,000 years ago in Luskin Time.

Has Casey ever stated his position on the ages of the Universe, Earth and life? I don’t mean the usual vague pandering to YECs that all DI folk do, but unequivocal answers that make it clear that he thinks that some self-described creationists are dead wrong?

Dembski, Behe, and a few other major players at the DI have made it clear that they accept mainstream science’s conclusions. Has Casey ever publicly challenged them if his answers differ?

I wouldn’t count Dembski in the list of flat-out old-earthers.

Wesley R. Elsberry Wrote:

I wouldn’t count Dembski in the list of flat-out old-earthers.

As the “gatekeeper of the big tent” he’d never challenge a YEC, as “true” OECs like Hugh Ross would. Nor would he challenge a “true” OEC, or even one who admits common descent like Behe. But as you know he has reluctantly admitted that the evidence favors an old Earth, and relies on scripture, not evidence to “support” a global flood.

Has Luskin stated a position, or is he even more evasive than Dembski?

Frank J said:

Wesley R. Elsberry Wrote:

I wouldn’t count Dembski in the list of flat-out old-earthers.

As the “gatekeeper of the big tent” he’d never challenge a YEC, as “true” OECs like Hugh Ross would. Nor would he challenge a “true” OEC, or even one who admits common descent like Behe. But as you know he has reluctantly admitted that the evidence favors an old Earth, and relies on scripture, not evidence to “support” a global flood.

Has Luskin stated a position, or is he even more evasive than Dembski?

Luskin’s position is whatever his employer wants it to be, i.e., “Evolution is always wrong because God said so.”

Stanton said:

Frank J said:

Wesley R. Elsberry Wrote:

I wouldn’t count Dembski in the list of flat-out old-earthers.

As the “gatekeeper of the big tent” he’d never challenge a YEC, as “true” OECs like Hugh Ross would. Nor would he challenge a “true” OEC, or even one who admits common descent like Behe. But as you know he has reluctantly admitted that the evidence favors an old Earth, and relies on scripture, not evidence to “support” a global flood.

Has Luskin stated a position, or is he even more evasive than Dembski?

Luskin’s position is whatever his employer wants it to be, i.e., “Evolution is always wrong because God said so.”

God never told me!!!

@Stanton and Michael Roberts:

As a member of the DI, Luskin would never say that even if he believed it “in his heart.” The DI’s entire scam is to avoid the Bible and God, and just pretend to go by the evidence. Behe has made it perfectly clear that he thinks that the universe, Earth and life are exactly as old as mainstream science (and “progressive” OECs) say they are, and even called reading the Bible as a science text “silly.” Luskin, who is surely aware that Behe’s science background is much better than his own (& may have even touted it in the DI’s “real scientists support us” campaign) must have an opinion one way or another on that.

Frank J said: Luskin … must have an opinion one way or another on that.

I’m sure he has any opinion on the matter as suits his convenience of the moment. “What day is it? Which way is the wind blowing?”

Frank J said:

@Stanton and Michael Roberts:

As a member of the DI, Luskin would never say that even if he believed it “in his heart.” The DI’s entire scam is to avoid the Bible and God, and just pretend to go by the evidence. Behe has made it perfectly clear that he thinks that the universe, Earth and life are exactly as old as mainstream science (and “progressive” OECs) say they are, and even called reading the Bible as a science text “silly.” Luskin, who is surely aware that Behe’s science background is much better than his own (& may have even touted it in the DI’s “real scientists support us” campaign) must have an opinion one way or another on that.

What about Bill Dembski’s constant gushing about Jesusifying science through Intelligent Design?

Or does that not count because he only says that to the Christian financiers?

Stanton said:

Frank J said:

@Stanton and Michael Roberts:

As a member of the DI, Luskin would never say that even if he believed it “in his heart.” The DI’s entire scam is to avoid the Bible and God, and just pretend to go by the evidence. Behe has made it perfectly clear that he thinks that the universe, Earth and life are exactly as old as mainstream science (and “progressive” OECs) say they are, and even called reading the Bible as a science text “silly.” Luskin, who is surely aware that Behe’s science background is much better than his own (& may have even touted it in the DI’s “real scientists support us” campaign) must have an opinion one way or another on that.

What about Bill Dembski’s constant gushing about Jesusifying science through Intelligent Design?

Or does that not count because he only says that to the Christian financiers?

Well as you all should know very well by now, the DI is quite good at embracing “Christian” audiences whenever it is appropriate, which even DI mendacious intellectual pornographers Luskin and Meyer are quick to admit.

John Kwok said:

Well as you all should know very well by now, the DI is quite good at embracing “Christian” audiences whenever it is appropriate, which even DI mendacious intellectual pornographers Luskin and Meyer are quick to admit.

Whenever the situation seems appropriate, of course.

BIO-Complexity certainly doesn’t rise to the level of peer-reviewed literature any more than does Answers Research Journal. The six citations listed are, in order, in:

Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.

IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A

Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics

Proceedings of the the 42nd Meeting of the Southeastern Symposium on System Theory, IEEE

Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics

BIO-complexity

So right off the bat half are conference papers and one is a non-journal.

DS said:

Wesley R. Elsberry said:

By the way, exactly where is Dembski publishing all of these earth shaking papers? Are they really in real journals? Are they really in biological journals? Do they really deserve a real response from real scientists?

Some of the venues are computer science-oriented conferences with proceedings. Some are publications like the IEEE “Systems, Man, and Cybernetics” journal, where the reviewers aren’t precisely matched to the content submitted. And then they also include stuff in the DI IDC “journal”, “Bio-Complexity”.

Thanks Wes. So in other words, no. None of these seem to be in any real journal having anything to do with biology. None of them really deserve a response form any real scientist. I guess that explains why the journal isn’t listed in the references provided.

You would think that the fact that he has gotten a real response would make him happy. Sure he got bitch slapped, but at least he got noticed. Instead he gets other people to whine about how all of his future work was ignored in the past!

Why on earth would someone claim to have destroyed the most predictive and explanatory theory in all of biology without actually publishing anything in any real biology journal? Unless of course the guy isn’t a real biologist and doesn’t have the faintest clue what he is talking about. I guess that would explain it.

James F said:

BIO-Complexity certainly doesn’t rise to the level of peer-reviewed literature any more than does Answers Research Journal. The six citations listed are, in order, in:

Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.

IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A

Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics

Proceedings of the the 42nd Meeting of the Southeastern Symposium on System Theory, IEEE

Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics

BIO-complexity

So right off the bat half are conference papers and one is a non-journal.

In fairness, computer scientists publish a lot in conference proceedings, and seem to be less interested these days in publishing in journals.

The real reason not to bother answering is that many of these make arguments that are unconnected to Dembski’s original Explanatory Filter, his Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information, or his argument from the No Free Lunch theorem. They are instead arguments about how the information that ends up in life was really already lying around in the shape of the fitness surface. While there is reason to doubt that this is a correct way to approach it, in any case it allows for natural selection to be the force putting the information into the genome (wherever it may have originated).

So Dembski’s recent arguments in no way refute the idea that natural selection is the force building adaptive information into the genome. And thus they are mostly beside the point. His earlier arguments having been decisively refuted (a fact which he refuses to acknowledge or answer), there really is noting of interest left.

Oops, I meant “there clearly is nothing of interest left.”

Joe Felsenstein said:

So Dembski’s recent arguments in no way refute the idea that natural selection is the force building adaptive information into the genome. And thus they are mostly beside the point. His earlier arguments having been decisively refuted (a fact which he refuses to acknowledge or answer), there really is noting of interest left.

Precisely. And that may also help to explain why none of this is published in a reputable biology journal. No diligent editor would ever be fooled by such a transparently fallacious attempt to discredit the most tested, explanatory and predictive theory in the entire history of science. There might be some computer guys somewhere who would be willing to listen to this stuff without regard to the biological ramifications, but that doesn’t mean that professional evolutionary biologists will be fooled.

This seems to be just another ploy for achieving the veneer of scientific respectability by publishing in the “peer reviewed literature”. Dembski can can play word games with computer nerds all he wants, but it isn’t going to do him a bit of good. Oh well, when you have an entire “think tank” devoted to such nonsense, I guess you have to produce something to placate those paying the bills. You have to make something for the rubes to swill.

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on January 27, 2011 7:05 AM.

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