The Sterility of Intelligent Design

| 210 Comments

(crossposted from Recursivity)

One thing that separates pseudoscience from science is fecundity: real science takes place in a social context, with an active community of scholars meeting and exchanging ideas. The ideas in one paper lead to another and another; good papers get dozens or hundreds of citations and suggest new active areas of study.

By contrast, pseudoscience is sterile: the ideas, such as they are, lead to no new insights, suggest no experiments, and are espoused by single crackpots or a small community of like-minded ideologues. The work gets few or no citations in the scientific literature, and the citations they do get are predominantly self-citations.

Here is a perfect example of this sterility: Bio-Complexity, the flagship journal of the intelligent design movement. As 2012 draws to a close, the 2012 volume contains exactly two research articles, one “critical review” and one “critical focus”, for a grand total of four items. The editorial board has 30 members; they must be kept very busy handling all those papers.

(Another intelligent design journal, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, hasn’t had a new issue since 2005.)

By contrast, the journal Evolution has ten times more research articles in a single issue (one of 12 so far in 2012). And this is just a single journal where evolutionary biology research is published; there are many others.

But that’s not the most hopeless part. Of the four contributions to Bio-Complexity in 2012, three have authors that are either the Editor in Chief (sic), the Managing Editor, or members of the editorial board of the journal. Only one article, the one by Fernando Castro-Chavez, has no author in the subset of people running the journal. And that one is utter bilge, written by someone who believes that “the 64 codons [of DNA are] represented since at least 4,000 years ago and preserved by China in the I Ching or Book of Changes or Mutations”.

Intelligent design advocates have been telling us for years that intelligent design would transform science and generate new research paradigms. They lied.

210 Comments

Well you know it’s a conspiracy. The editors just won’t publish anything that they don’t agree with so you can’t really expect that anyone could publish in their journals. What? Oh … never mind.

To be science, to be fertile, ID would have to identify, and provide evidence for, distinguishable cause and effect relationships in life.

The “effects” they claim are vague and deliberately conflated with the effects of evolution, while the “cause” is simply called “design,” which is in fact a vague general term covering many specific causes.

Is there anything odd about the fact that their match-up of “cause” and “effect” highly overlap theistic notions of general causes and general effects, and have little or nothing to do with the specific causes causing specific effects as is required in science? Evolution in prokaryotes produces certain sorts of relationships caused in part by lateral transfers, while most eukaryotes have almost exclusively vertical/splitting relationships. All IDiocy can do is to claim that it’s all “designed” wherever evolution becomes taboo to them, something else that is altogether vague.

Glen Davidson

So what are their handsome salaries based on? Church talks?

Calling these “research” articles is generous in the extreme. Neither one of them even has a material and methods section. I guess when you have no lab and no training and no desire to do any real experiment, it’s kind of hard to publish a real “research” article in a real “journal”. Has any real scientist reviewed these two dogs yet?

Sterile is a bit too kind.

“Bio-Complexity” is a failed legal ruse that lives on as a ruse, more than seven years after the original legal justification was crushed. It’s plausible that the editors actually do get paid, and if they do, whoever the money comes from is a fool almost beyond foolishness.

In 1988 the Supreme Court found, despite the best efforts of a younger Scalia, that teaching sectarian science denial, as “science”, at taxpayer expense, in public schools, was a very clear violation of the First Amendment.

Almost immediately, “intelligent design” was born, and marketed as a potential way to “court proof” evolution denial in public schools.

As was repeatedly noted by those who scorned them, the purveyors of the ruse actually did everything possible to prevent a legal test of “ID”. They knew that indefinitely implying that they were working on a way to court-proof creationism in public schools meant big money. Actually showing that their ruse wouldn’t work was the last thing they wanted.

However, they were undone by the equally authoritarian, but perhaps more honest, tendencies of the Thomas Moore Legal Center. The supporters of TMLC, unlike typical right wing authoritarians, are actually quite tolerant of money wasted on hopeless symbolic fights. The TMLC usually loses in court, but the money is there for them to fight, hopelessly, again and again. The Vatican actually doesn’t deny evolution, and ID was claiming “not to be religious” in the pre-Dover era, but the TMLC and their pizza-chain-owning supporters understood perfectly well that “the designer” was implied to be the Abrahamic God, and to the dismay of the DI, the TMLC forced one of their characteristic symbolically hopeless charges in Dover, in a largely unwanted defense of “ID”.

Granted, the DI fellows are making out like bandits now, but they were making out like oil sheikhs before Dover. The hard core money is still there, but all the trendiness is gone.

Bio-Complexity is just a relic of the old medicine show, left over from before the day when the TMLC actually drank the snake oil in public, and thus caused the rest of the crowd to wander away. “We have a journal with a fancy name that will someday disprove evolution” was the con. That con blew up in Dover, but there are still a few saps to be milked, so it continues, but Time Magazine doesn’t care anymore.

(Incidentally, although the I Ching has 64 hexagrams, it does not resemble the genetic code.

Each of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching has a unique name and “meaning”. The genetic code is redundant, and the I Ching is not redundant.

Fernando Castro-Chavez, whose name may or may not be his real name, and if it isn’t his real name, may be a bit confused about the nature of the DI, seems to be a sincere and original crackpot. I would argue that his amusing ideas are too good for Bio-Complexity, and that isn’t intended as a strong compliment to his amusing ideas.)

For Intelligent Design to be a fertile science, its proponents must demonstrate how Intelligent Design can explain phenomena, and its proponents must also demonstrate how Intelligent Design applies to/can be applied to the real world.

Unfortunately, Intelligent Design proponents have repeatedly shown that they are all, at very best, extraordinarily hesitant to do either, preferring, instead, to bellyache about how terrible Darwinism (sic) is, or whine very angrily how Evolutionism (sic) is dying (for the last 150+ years). At very best, a few proponents will put forth some nonsensical, ultimately untestable armchair navel contemplation, and wave their hands very hard in hopes that The Blue Fairy/God/The Intelligent Designer will magically transform their pious nonsense into an articulate scientific theory.

This is like saying how many Hollywood stars agree with your political party makes you right! your counting heads only. Well then count the heads of Americans and admit creationism(s) are well supported by intelligent thinking people in their tens of millions.

Its about the truth. its about the merits of the case. its about intelligent appreciation of the facts behind the merits behind the case. At any one point in any contention in history, anything, its only a coincedence if lots of people (or the right people) agree with the right answer.

Is Mr Shallit saying that chunks of papers by ID would of meant this year that ID etc was a powerful contender for origin truth? I bet it would of made no difference to him! Wait till next year!!

Except, Robert Byers, your rant and pitiful appeal to popularity still can’t explain why we should accept Intelligent Design as being magically superior to Science even though it can not explain anything.

“So what are their handsome salaries based on?”

Their salaries are paid to a considerable degree by donations from wealthy theocrats.

Is Mr Shallit saying that chunks of papers by ID would of [sic] meant this year that ID etc was a powerful contender for origin truth?

I can see why a dullard with no discernable commitment to truth might say that, but of course Shallit wasn’t saying that.

He’s saying that there’s nothing in ID to write about–and even “journals” dedicated to that schlock print little, of even less worth. Not really that difficult to read that, but it means nothing to an ignoramus.

Glen Davidson

apokryltaros said:

Except, Robert Byers, your rant and pitiful appeal to popularity still can’t explain why we should accept Intelligent Design as being magically superior to Science even though it can not explain anything.

ID explains everything … for Bob.

Robert Byers said:

Its about the truth. its about the merits of the case. its about intelligent appreciation of the facts behind the merits behind the case.

If the case has so much merit, why isn’t it generating more research by anybody (even its advocates)?

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/[…]vtiF0BBqF10Q said:

apokryltaros said:

Except, Robert Byers, your rant and pitiful appeal to popularity still can’t explain why we should accept Intelligent Design as being magically superior to Science even though it can not explain anything.

ID explains everything … for Bob.

And that can be explained by the sad fact that Robert Byers is an Idiot For Jesus.

ksplawn said:

Robert Byers said:

Its about the truth. its about the merits of the case. its about intelligent appreciation of the facts behind the merits behind the case.

If the case has so much merit, why isn’t it generating more research by anybody (even its advocates)?

This important point you raise is, as Robert Byers is so fond of reminding me, of no concern to him, as he has no responsibility (or ability) to explain his own inane proclamations and profoundly moronic judgments.

He’s just here to lie about how Evolution is somehow magically in trouble, while Young Earth Creationism is (perpetually) poised to take over and magically become Science for Jesus. Somehow.

I would listen to Hollywood stars on something that they are qualified to discuss - the pitfalls of fame, perhaps. I listen to evolutionary biologists on the same basis. I would not listen to people who have never worked in a field if they differ from the people who have. I am certainly not going to listen to some whackjob ignoramus who thinks that marsupials resemble placental mammals are genetically closer to those mammals than they are to each other.

Is there something odd, or difficult to understand about this?

To answer my own question: well, yes there is.

The second-last sentence should read “…whackjob ignoramus who thinks that IF marsupials resemble placental mammals, THEY are genetically closer to those mammals than they are to each other.”

ID craves the credibility of science, but isn’t willing to do the work to earn it.

Byers, why do you not answer so many of our questions?

You never answered this question (click here) about this link. The thread with this question is now closed, so it would probably be best if you post any reply to this question in the Bathroom Wall. I would have no problem if moderators move this post (and any replies by Byers to this post) to the BW.

You also never answered this question (click here). This particular thread is still open so you reply there.

There are plenty of other questions from me, from DS, Dave Luckett, apokryltaros, and others that you have ignored. But perhaps you could at least start with my two, here and here.

Robert Byers said:

Well then count the heads of Americans and admit creationism(s) are well supported by intelligent thinking people in their tens of millions.

Would you use a parachute that was designed, manufactured and packed by your “tens of millions of intelligent thinking people” (whether Americans, Canadians, Europeans, etc)?

If not, then why do you trust these same “tens of millions of intelligent thinking people” instead of experienced trained professional biologists, geneticists, paleontologists, geologists?

Sterility is not a surprise, given that even one of ID’s heavyweights (Demski) has admitted its “not a mechanistic theory.” Hard to do anything in science with an idea that has no mechanism. Its like calling the statement “Look, a rock!” a ‘theory.’ Okay, even if your statement is true, what am I supposed to do with it?

ksplawn said: If the case has so much merit, why isn’t it generating more research by anybody (even its advocates)?

“Merit” is measured differently for Byers et al. We might use measures such as number of discoveries, papers, paper citation, patents, etc., but they use measures like “explains the world in a manner consistent with how I read scripture.”

The ID Theme Song? “I got plenty of nothing, And nothing’s plenty for me”

Karen S. said:

The ID Theme Song? “I got plenty of nothing, And nothing’s plenty for me”

Or my favorite:

“You asked for nothing and you shall receive it in abundance.”

Does anyone else find it amusing that the “editorial board” for the “journal” contains thirty people, and yet they can’t get a single original research article published between them? it’s obviously a conspiracy by the board to sabotage their own agenda!

(Another intelligent design journal, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, hasn’t had a new issue since 2005.) This says it all!

Robert said:

This is like saying how many Hollywood stars agree with your political party makes you right! your counting heads only.

Another shot in your own foot dear Robert, no crowd is so obsessed with counting heads as yours! One fact stands out: You never know what you are blabbering about.

NCSE says:

NCSE’s “Project Steve” is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism.”

Robert, read all about it here

The original post stated:

By contrast, pseudoscience is sterile: the ideas, such as they are, lead to no new insights, suggest no experiments, and are espoused by single crackpots or a small community of like-minded ideologues. The work gets few or no citations in the scientific literature, and the citations they do get are predominantly self-citations.

This description would party apply to Alfred Wegener’s early work on continental drift from about 1915. He was working alone with very little support from other scientists. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a conference in 1925 specifically to oppose Wegener’s hypothesis. Working in 1925, how would you detect that Wegener’s theory was not pseudoscience? What markers would tell you that continental drift, even if unlikely to be true at that point, was a bona fide scientific proposal and not “sterile”?

For those PT readers unfamiliar with the story, Alfred Wegener died on the Greenland ice cap in 1931. It was not until the 1960s that Wegener’s theory gained widespread acceptance with new evidence in its favor. But I’m asking about 1925.

Carl Drews said:

The original post stated:

By contrast, pseudoscience is sterile: the ideas, such as they are, lead to no new insights, suggest no experiments, and are espoused by single crackpots or a small community of like-minded ideologues. The work gets few or no citations in the scientific literature, and the citations they do get are predominantly self-citations.

This description would party apply to Alfred Wegener’s early work on continental drift from about 1915. He was working alone with very little support from other scientists. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a conference in 1925 specifically to oppose Wegener’s hypothesis. Working in 1925, how would you detect that Wegener’s theory was not pseudoscience? What markers would tell you that continental drift, even if unlikely to be true at that point, was a bona fide scientific proposal and not “sterile”?

For those PT readers unfamiliar with the story, Alfred Wegener died on the Greenland ice cap in 1931. It was not until the 1960s that Wegener’s theory gained widespread acceptance with new evidence in its favor. But I’m asking about 1925.

Good question. Well, let’s see.

You could make some predictions based on your hypothesis. You could do a statistical analysis of the coastlines of Africa and South America. You could do an analysis of the geographic distribution of plants and animals in Africa and South America. You could get two pegs and a string and put them across a chasm caused by continental drift in say Iceland and actually measure the amount of movement per year. You could publish your findings in a real journal and subject it to review by real experts in the field.

Or you could form a club and get your own journal. Get your friends to be the editors Write a bunch of nonsense claiming that you were right without ever doing any actual experiments. Then go to court to get your ideas taught to school children.

See the thing is that even if your hypothesis is correct, there is a right way and a wrong way to do science. The pretty good book says: “By their deeds ye shall know them.” Nuf said.

This description would party apply to Alfred Wegener’s early work on continental drift from about 1915. He was working alone with very little support from other scientists. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a conference in 1925 specifically to oppose Wegener’s hypothesis. Working in 1925, how would you detect that Wegener’s theory was not pseudoscience? What markers would tell you that continental drift, even if unlikely to be true at that point, was a bona fide scientific proposal and not “sterile”?

For those PT readers unfamiliar with the story, Alfred Wegener died on the Greenland ice cap in 1931. It was not until the 1960s that Wegener’s theory gained widespread acceptance with new evidence in its favor. But I’m asking about 1925.

That’s easy. Didn’t it suggest and lead to research? Research was possible, research was done, and finally scientists were convinced. His idea didn’t just hover like a helicopter. A helicopter that simply hovers gradually runs out of fuel and crashes.

Carl Drews said:

The original post stated:

By contrast, pseudoscience is sterile: the ideas, such as they are, lead to no new insights, suggest no experiments, and are espoused by single crackpots or a small community of like-minded ideologues. The work gets few or no citations in the scientific literature, and the citations they do get are predominantly self-citations.

This description would party apply to Alfred Wegener’s early work on continental drift from about 1915. He was working alone with very little support from other scientists. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a conference in 1925 specifically to oppose Wegener’s hypothesis. Working in 1925, how would you detect that Wegener’s theory was not pseudoscience? What markers would tell you that continental drift, even if unlikely to be true at that point, was a bona fide scientific proposal and not “sterile”?

For those PT readers unfamiliar with the story, Alfred Wegener died on the Greenland ice cap in 1931. It was not until the 1960s that Wegener’s theory gained widespread acceptance with new evidence in its favor. But I’m asking about 1925.

Because it was internally coherent, did not include contradiction of a major well-supported theory and therefore did not bear the burden of having to explain away all the prior evidence (“continents don’t drift” was never a well-supported theory), and was testable.

I’ve repeatedly tried to engage ID/creationists and get them to give some internally coherent, testable answers. They don’t want to.

DS said:

Does anyone else find it amusing that the “editorial board” for the “journal” contains thirty people, and yet they can’t get a single original research article published between them? it’s obviously a conspiracy by the board to sabotage their own agenda!

If you are running a fake gold mine scam, and construct a fake “gold mine entrance” to show the suckers, you do not need to actually work as a miner.

Bio-Complexity is a transparently fake journal.

There is no reason for anyone to do anything more than the minimum required to fool the suckers. In fact, doing more would be counter-productive (from the DI perspective).

Working in 1925, how would you detect that Wegener’s theory was not pseudoscience?

For one thing, by its fecundity. It answered several questions out of the gate, like the “odd” fit of the continents (although most don’t fit anywhere nearly so well as Africa’s and S. America’s continental shelves do), the distribution of fossils, and ice flows in the past (no, they really don’t flow out of the sea). Continental drift did have some rather outstanding issues, true (with tentative early answers, like mantle flow), which made it difficult to accept as it was (essentially, it was wrong as Wegener proposed it, although he himself mentioned the possibility of convection that others had proposed), but its possibilities for answering problems was what kept it simmering on the back burner in Europe (not much in America, which was unreasonably opposed).

Of course one can point to the lack of journal articles for continental drift at the time, which is indeed the wrong measure for a truly new science. As for this old “ID science,” rather, an old pseudoscience, well, it really hasn’t ever yielded good journal articles, and not much rubbish in “journals” set up precisely to prevent science from opposing IDiocy on good grounds.

Why do you think that “continental drift” never really died, and actually provoked continued thought and collection of evidence? It already explained much, even when it seemed oddly “magical” in mechanism (rather, no one was sure of mechanism–I believe the plastic mantle hadn’t yet been demonstrated), and did not seem to many to be something just to be discarded because it didn’t have all of the answers. Of course IDiocy wants nothing but that evolutionary theory be anathematized precisely because it doesn’t have all of the answers, nevermind that many contingencies are likely never to have solid answers (also true of historical matters).

At worst, “continental drift” was wrong science in the 1925 geologist’s mind, not useless non-science, like ID. ID doesn’t answer anything like Wegener’s ideas did immediately, instead it whines that it’s actually required to provide evidence, rather than merely stepping in as the “default.”

Glen Davidson

There is a difference between wrong science and pseudoscience. But, in any case, as DS implies, Wegener had plenty of evidence – not least the facts that the continents on the east and west sides of the Atlantic were mirror images of each other and that fossils of related species were found on opposite sides of the “mirror” but not elsewhere. He also found evidence that a certain island had drifted ~1 km westward in about 70 y and concluded that the distribution of elevations on the earth’s surface was inconsistent with simple heating and cooling. Scientists could not accept Wegener’s theory not because it was unsupported but because they thought that the earth was rigid and could not propose a plausible source of enough force to move continents. When the evidence of material welling up from the ocean floor was finally adduced, the theory was accepted virtually overnight.

Jeffrey Shallit said:

Some feeling for Bill Maz and his perspicacity can be found by reading his blog. For example, here he states:

“The Discovery Institute maintains a list (most recently updated in December 2011) of over 500 scientists that have signed the statement “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” These scientists include notable professors from the most prestigious institutions in the world (MIT, Princeton, UCLA, The Smithsonian, Cambridge University, etc.)”

Someone who swallows Discovery Institute kool-aid and then says how refreshing it is cannot be depended on to give an accurate picture of evolution.

I use my blog to invite discussion. As I have stated many times above, and as I have tried to argue, ID has no scientific basis for its ideas. It is amazing to me that you guys are still arguing with IDists after all this time. The reason I haven’t argued against ID in this blog is that I thought the discussion has long been over. My reason for putting that statement on my site is to foment discussion and to argue, despite it being from a disreputable source, that some scientists, even if only a few are from the field of evolutionary biology, have arrived at the conclusion that evolutionary theory as it stands now is incomplete. Not that evolution as we know it hasn’t been a very good model for understanding much of what is going on, but that more is needed to understand it from a more global point of view. As you see in my blog, I present arguments from a scientific point of view.

As I have restated in my blog, in the latest Gallup Poll in June 2012, 46 percent of Americans believe in creationism (that God created human beings in their present form within the past 10,000 years), 32 percent believe in theistic evolution (evolution with God guiding the process), and only 15 percent believe in evolution as a scientific process without divine intervention. These results have remained relatively steady for the past 30 years. Among 18 industrialized countries, America was next to last, above Turkey, in the percent of the population which accepts evolution.

So what does this tell us? It says that first, the American public is terribly ignorant of the science of evolution, second, that religion is very strong in this country and that the public’s idea of religion is terribly ignorant since even the Pope has agreed that evolutionary theory is compatible with religion, and third, that scientists and clergy have done a bad job in educating the public. However, there is a fourth. They sense, as even as some scientists do, that the story is incomplete. They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution. Some here disagree with that. They think that evolution, as we know it now, is perfectly capable of explaining everything. I don’t think so. I don’t fall back on religion, but I do want to go forward to look at other ideas, all scientifically based, that can give us a more comprehensive model. This may sound like clap-trap to some, but as I have cited above, there are some scientists who don’t, including those that are researching information and chaotic mechanisms to add to our understanding of how evolution works. I don’t think this should be a threat to anyone.

Sorry Bill, I have to disagree. The reason that people refuse to accept the theory of evolution is NOT because it is incomplete. These people have ample evidence that the theory is essentially correct. They neither know nor care about the subtle nuances of the fine details. They will literally not be convinced by any evidence whatsoever. Of course the theory of evolution is incomplete. That’s why I have a lab. Of course we should work to discover more thing s and make it more complete. But don’t fool yourself into think that it will convince anyone who chooses not to v=be convinced.

If you doubt what I say, just take a gander at the bathroom wall. Six hundred pages of some guy trying to convince everyone that dinosaurs were created on the same day as humans and that they were originally herbivores before some chick tricked her husband into eating a magic apple and they all drowned in the magic flood because they were too stupid to get on the magic ark. And he absolutely refuses to provide any evidence for any of this, despite the fact that he admits that the fossil record is the only way we know that dinosaurs even existed! Try telling this guy that the theory of evolution is incomplete and see where it gets you.

Now BIll, if you come here spouting off about chaos theory, don’t be surprised if some people get a little upset and start trying to peek under the sheeps clothing. This is something that creationist are literally obsessed about. It isn’t a threat to anyone, it’s a buzz word that creationists mistakenly pee their pants over. Advancing the theory of evolution is great, just be careful which blanket you pull over yourself if you climb into bed with someone.

Flint said:

ogremk5 said:

Flint said:

Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with Mike. Science is a word loaded with magic - invoke it and you have the admiration, respect, and amazement of the general public, few of whom know what science is any better than the ID creationists. People may have only the vaguest understanding of HOW science produces all the wonderful substance of our lifestyle (and that understanding is often way wrong), but there’s no question science DOES produce this stuff consistently.

Sorry to be very, very late, but a recent AP Poll shows that 1/3 of the US population actively distrusts science and scientists.

http://skepticink.com/smilodonsretr[…]-is-warming/

Your link has an update, which says they looked at the question about trusting science, and it was ONLY with regard to global warming. Not to science generally.

Yeah, I’ve updated the blog post to correct that. The news articles weren’t specific (shockingly), when I finally got into the actual poll data, I realized that.

DS Wrote:

Six hundred pages of some guy trying to convince everyone that dinosaurs were created on the same day as humans…

“Everyone”? Or just those he would call “Darwinists”? Bill reminds us that ~46% think that humans were created in their present form in the last ~10K years. But when the question is worded unequivocally in terms of a young earth, the % drops to a mere 22%. I’ll take a wild guess that this guy has not posted on 600 pages at OEC and ID sites.

DS said:

Sorry Bill, I have to disagree. The reason that people refuse to accept the theory of evolution is NOT because it is incomplete. These people have ample evidence that the theory is essentially correct. They neither know nor care about the subtle nuances of the fine details. They will literally not be convinced by any evidence whatsoever. Of course the theory of evolution is incomplete. That’s why I have a lab. Of course we should work to discover more thing s and make it more complete. But don’t fool yourself into think that it will convince anyone who chooses not to v=be convinced.

If you doubt what I say, just take a gander at the bathroom wall. Six hundred pages of some guy trying to convince everyone that dinosaurs were created on the same day as humans and that they were originally herbivores before some chick tricked her husband into eating a magic apple and they all drowned in the magic flood because they were too stupid to get on the magic ark. And he absolutely refuses to provide any evidence for any of this, despite the fact that he admits that the fossil record is the only way we know that dinosaurs even existed! Try telling this guy that the theory of evolution is incomplete and see where it gets you.

Now BIll, if you come here spouting off about chaos theory, don’t be surprised if some people get a little upset and start trying to peek under the sheeps clothing. This is something that creationist are literally obsessed about. It isn’t a threat to anyone, it’s a buzz word that creationists mistakenly pee their pants over. Advancing the theory of evolution is great, just be careful which blanket you pull over yourself if you climb into bed with someone.

I agree that there are some who refuse to be convinced of anything beyond what they believe emotionally. But I hope this is a small fraction of the population. In any event, I can’t help how these fanatics use whatever scientific ideas are put forth, either by me or anyone else. All I can do is look at scientific evidence and ask questions. The Creationists can use quantum theory to their advantage to say that God created quantum physics. Does that mean that we should deny quantum physics? And no, I haven’t posted anything on OEC and ID sites that I know of. What’s the point?

Frank J said:

DS Wrote:

Six hundred pages of some guy trying to convince everyone that dinosaurs were created on the same day as humans…

“Everyone”? Or just those he would call “Darwinists”? Bill reminds us that ~46% think that humans were created in their present form in the last ~10K years. But when the question is worded unequivocally in terms of a young earth, the % drops to a mere 22%. I’ll take a wild guess that this guy has not posted on 600 pages at OEC and ID sites.

Even if the 22% is true, don’t you think that’s a lot? Nearly a quarter of the population? In the 21st century? I say that’s astonishing.

Bill Maz said: It is amazing to me that you guys are still arguing with IDists after all this time.

I see it largely as a social issue. They are trying to change the way science is taught in schools - in a bad way. I oppose that. And I see fighting that as a worthwhile cause no matter how intellectually silly or easily dismissed I think their arguments are. If they want to stop messing about with HS curricula and go back to teaching creationism in sunday school, that’s fine by me. If they want to do research on ID-style hypotheses, that’s also fine by me.

My reason for putting that statement on my site is to foment discussion and to argue, despite it being from a disreputable source, that some scientists, even if only a few are from the field of evolutionary biology, have arrived at the conclusion that evolutionary theory as it stands now is incomplete.

So the frak what? Physics is incomplete. Cosmology is incomplete. What we teach in those subjects is the best, mainstream methodology and conclusions they offer. So why would we do anything different in biology?

They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution.

I very much doubt that. You don’t find anyone saying “QM can’t be aligned with GR, therefore I’ll be a buddhist.” People on the whole seem perfectly fine with science that can answer a lot of questions but not all of them.

People also don’t reject cannonball physics and other well-settled science just because there are holes in other parts of our scientific knowledge. Which is what you are implying they are doing here: rejecting the very well-settled fact of descent with modification because of holes in our understanding of what mechanisms played the most prominent roles. I don’t buy it. I think its much more likely that if they are rejecting well-settled science, its because of conflicting non-scientific beliefs, not because of some gap in scientific knowledge quite separate from the well-settled bits they are rejecting.

I do want to go forward to look at other ideas, all scientifically based, that can give us a more comprehensive model. This may sound like clap-trap to some, but as I have cited above, there are some scientists who don’t, including those that are researching information and chaotic mechanisms to add to our understanding of how evolution works. I don’t think this should be a threat to anyone.

IMO I dont think anyone sees such ideas as a threat. Go, research them, and more power to you. IMO the negative feedback you are getting here is not because we think it is threatening, but because we think you have vague concepts that will not pan out when you turn them into rigorous, testable hypotheses. IOW, we are skeptical that your ideas will turn out to be correct; we are not threatened by them.

TomS said:

harold said: 8) What is an example of something that was not designed by the designer?

Some may object that it is a tenet of Christian faith that all things are created, so there can be no example of a thing which is not created. (If we identify “creation” with “design”.) So I suggest that this could be gently modified:

8’) What is an example of something, even hypothetical or impossible, that is less likely to be designed?

I’ll leave the question exactly as it is.

An honest person who believes that there is no example of something that isn’t “designed by the designer” can answer exactly that.

In fact, hypothetically, Ken Miller could say that. No science denial is required to answer the question that way. Ken Miller could say “I believe that the Catholic God ‘intended’ that reality be exactly the way it is, but nevertheless humans can see that evolution was the direct mechanism that generated the diversity of life on earth”.

ID/creationists can’t answer that question honestly (althoguh I did once run into one claimed that “dirt” isn’t designed). If a deity designed everything in some ultimate way, then ID makes no sense; everything is exactly as designed as the bacterial flagellum. Someone could say that the designer spent more effort on the bacterial flagellum, but that isn’t what ID/creationism claims - it claims to detect design not effort.

If someone proposes deity who “designed” living cells, but that deity didn’t design, say, rocks or dirt, then that’s overtly anti-Christian statement. Almost all sects of Christianity hold that the Christian God created/designed the entire universe.

The question is difficult for ID advocates to answer, but that’s tough. It’s a perfectly good question.

Bill wrote:

“However, there is a fourth. They sense, as even as some scientists do, that the story is incomplete. They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution.”

I don’t know of anyone who rejects the theory of evolution because it is incomplete. As Eric points out, that makes no logical sense. If you are willing to do that., you are willing to reject any and all science. The theory will always be incomplete, so will every other theory. There is no need for it to be “all encompassing” in order for it to be valid.

On the other hand, I agree. That’s no reason to stop studying and improving the theory. It just seems strange that one would use the same language and arguments to improve the theory as those who reject the theory. If you really want to do good science, you need to be careful to distance yourself from the crackpots and not use the same arguments that they use. I don’t think any real scientist will have any problem with a real improvement or refinement or expansion of the theory of evolution based on solid evidence.

harold said:

If someone proposes deity who “designed” living cells, but that deity didn’t design, say, rocks or dirt, then that’s overtly anti-Christian statement. Almost all sects of Christianity hold that the Christian God created/designed the entire universe.

Right. Here is the opening stanza of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker [creator] of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We Christians who oppose Intelligent Design and creationism avoid using the word “design” in order to distance ourselves from the ID movement, for reasons that DS noted.

DS said:

If you really want to do good science, you need to be careful to distance yourself from the crackpots and not use the same arguments that they use.

Bill Maz said:

However, there is a fourth. They sense, as even as some scientists do, that the story is incomplete. They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution.

Are you implying that the people in other countries, countries where more people understand evolution, are stupid? That somehow those in America who don’t understand evolution are more clued up than people elsewhere?

Bill Maz said:

I use my blog to invite discussion. As I have stated many times above, and as I have tried to argue, ID has no scientific basis for its ideas. It is amazing to me that you guys are still arguing with IDists after all this time. The reason I haven’t argued against ID in this blog is that I thought the discussion has long been over.

Now that is really strange.

So do you really think the bills that keep being introduced in the state legislatures of Indiana, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and other states are indications that the sectarian wars on science are over?

Maybe you believe that Granville Sewell’s recent attempt to get his bogus “Second Look at The Second Law” published is not an ongoing repetition of ID/creationists attempting to make ID/creationism look like a science? Why do you think the staff at the Discovery Institute keeps writing books and screeds attempting to debunk evolution? How do you explain the continued existence of AiG, the ICR, and Reasons to Believe? Why are they continuing to push their antievolution crap?

Do you really think those people have dropped their lifelong battles against science, have seen the errors of their ways, and have found other gainful employment?

Maybe you think the Coppedge suit against JPL really is about a “scientist” being persecuted for his scientific prowess?

So you think the political operatives of ID/creationism have suddenly confessed that they have been wrong all these last 50 years, have apologized, and are now disappearing into oblivion?

Just where do you get your “understanding” that discussions about ID/creationism are over?

You seem to latch onto every scrap of pseudoscience yourself. Are you starting a new movement and testing the waters? What’s going on with you?

Bill Maz Wrote:

Even if the 22% is true, don’t you think that’s a lot? Nearly a quarter of the population? In the 21st century? I say that’s astonishing.

So do I, but in fairness, unlike the much smaller % that I call “anti-evolution activists” (everyone from Ken Ham to Mike Behe), the “rank and file” rarely give any thought to the evidence. And if my personal experience is representative, only a small minority of that 22% would insist that independent evidence validates the conclusion that they formed from their personal interpretation of scripture. The rest would say that scripture overrules any evidence that appears contradictory. In other words they’d be more Omphalists than “scientific” YECs.

As for challenging evolution-deniers who disagree with you on the basics, I’ll grant that you made that point, and that you don’t need to keep reinventing the wheel. But you have also made that point about evolution, and have no problem dwelling on it.

In fact my challenge was directed not so much to you but to the YECs and OECs who are slaves to the “big tent.” They can’t have it both ways. If they pretend to have a better “theory,” then they need to put their money where their mouths are and apply their objections evenly.

Bill Maz said: Even if the 22% is true, don’t you think that’s a lot? Nearly a quarter of the population? In the 21st century? I say that’s astonishing.

There is the joke (or is it true?) that 20% of the people believe that Elvis is alive.

And remember H. L. Menkin (this is from Wikiquote):

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. Notes On Journalism in the Chicago Tribune (19 September 1926)

@TomS:

As you know, a sizable minority (I’ve heard 30% but that seems high) believes that the sun revolves around the earth. I’m not sure how much that group overlaps with evolution-deniers, but certainly at least 70-80%.

Their reasons for denying heliocentrism may not be as motivated by wanting (needing?) scripture to be literally true, as they are for the heliocentric YECs and OECs, but like the latter, they - and again I mean the rank and file, not committed activists - form their conclusions on sound bites, not evidence, and rarely consider that their conclusions flatly contradict those of the other people who otherwise deny the conclusions of mainstream science.

I’ll say it for the billionth time. The big tent scam, aka ID, is the most devious form of anti-science activism. But is also a tacit admission that Biblical creationism - YEC, OEC, geocentric versions - are complete scientific failures, not just legal failures. In a way, Bill Maz is right. How ID is both sterile, and “creationism” as most scientists define it, has been done to death - though that still needs to be repeated for new audiences. What screams for more emphasis is alerting people that ID is not only not “creationism” as most people define it, but an admission, and cover-up, of its fatal flaws and embarrassing contradictions. A scam by any definition.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I hear two arguments here which seem contradictory. One is that we need to keep arguing with IDers on this blog and others because we need to prevent them from teaching ID in science class, etc. The second is that no matter how much scientific evidence for evolution you show them, they will never listen to rational thought because they believe what they believe and that’s it. So, my question remains. Why waste your time trying to convince them of something you admit they will never be convinced of? I agree we should all prevent ID from being taught in school, but that fight is in the courts, not on a blog. I will bet that NO Creationist or ID fanatic has EVER been convinced to become an evolutionist by arguments on this blog. Maybe the argument continues because people derive pleasure from arguing? Your thoughts.

The reason is the proportion of people who think that “the jury’s still out on evolution”. They may be as many as 70% of Americans.

We know that the truly hard-core lunatics can’t be convinced by evidence or rational argument. But countering them still has value. Nobody knows who’s watching, here. Evidence and rational argument must be presented for people who value them. We have to hope that that’s most people - and we have to actually present that.

Because the jury is not still out. The verdict was in over a hundred years ago. The appeals were all denied. It’s down and dusted. The species evolved. A good deal is known about exactly how, and along which paths, and why. Some things are still not understood. But evolution happened, the species evolved over deep time, and all life has common ancestors.

Bill Maz Wrote:

Why waste your time trying to convince them of something you admit they will never be convinced of?

It’s not “them” we’re trying to convince, but their audience. As Dave Luckett notes (as I have for years) ~70% of the public, much more than the ~46% that believe a literal Genesis and the ~22% that believe a strict YE interpretation, fall for misleading sound bites like “the jury’s still out.” Certainly it is on details of mechanisms and even specific branching patterns. But not on the general conclusion of “4 billion years of common descent with modification” that even some anti-evolution activists like Behe concede. But that doesn’t stop shrewd anti-evolution activists from pulling that bait and switch (among others).

Bill Maz said:

I will bet that NO Creationist or ID fanatic has EVER been convinced to become an evolutionist by arguments on this blog.

You would lose that bet. Panda’s Thumb commenters get email from time to time from former creationists who thank them for the rational arguments that convinced them of the truth of evolution.

Yet another example of the failed crystal ball of Bill Maz.

Jeffrey Shallit said:

Bill Maz said:

I will bet that NO Creationist or ID fanatic has EVER been convinced to become an evolutionist by arguments on this blog.

You would lose that bet. Panda’s Thumb commenters get email from time to time from former creationists who thank them for the rational arguments that convinced them of the truth of evolution.

Yet another example of the failed crystal ball of Bill Maz.

To be sure, my geology/biology classes in college, reading Finding Darwin’s God by Ken Miller, and following the 2005 Kitzmiller trial were bigger factors for me. But some of the PT posters here have also helped me change from someone who grew up a YEC to someone that now accepts evolution.

Oh, Merry Kitzmas everybody! Hard to believe tomorrow will be seven years since the Kitzmiller trial verdict.

Jeffrey Shallit said:

Bill Maz said:

I will bet that NO Creationist or ID fanatic has EVER been convinced to become an evolutionist by arguments on this blog.

You would lose that bet. Panda’s Thumb commenters get email from time to time from former creationists who thank them for the rational arguments that convinced them of the truth of evolution.

Yet another example of the failed crystal ball of Bill Maz.

A few years ago I had a reunion with a couple who had attended one of my series of talks that I had given on the creationists nearly 25 years earlier at their church. While they agreed at the time of my series of talks that creationism was inappropriate for the public schools, they thought my explicit descriptions of creationist tactics were overstated.

They had since retired and moved to South Carolina; and when I encountered them at that reunion a few years ago, they made it a point to come up to me and tell me that I was exactly right in my descriptions of creationist behaviors and tactics. Even after hearing about them from me, they were still quite stunned to see those behaviors in the raw.

I stand corrected.

Jeffrey Shallit Wrote:

Panda’s Thumb commenters get email from time to time from former creationists who thank them for the rational arguments that convinced them of the truth of evolution.

I have “converted” several over the years. Not by “censoring” anything as the standard anti-evolution activist lie goes, but by showing everything about ID/creationism that the activists demand, and the “more” that they always censor.

In one case I got a committed “scientific” YEC to retreat to Omphalism. I consider that a partial victory because that means that, while he still believed his favorite interpretation of Genesis, he would be unlikely to spread misinformation that independent evidence supports it.

In no case did I ever discourage anyone’s belief in a Creator as the ultimate cause. If anything I hope I made their faith stronger, by showing how pathetic it is to pretend to find God trying to hide in ever-shrinking gaps.

In fact I too was “converted” in a way 15 ago when I first discovered the Talk.Origins Archive. Though I had accepted evolution for 30 years prior, I was beginning to defend the “teach the controversy” approach. Naively figuring that comparing “creationism” (which I vaguely understood as YEC only at the time) to evolution would have 90+% of students favoring evolution. When I learned how devious anti-evolution teaching strategies were, and how they emphasized promoting unreasonable doubt of evolution at all costs, while censoring the fatal flaws and contradictions within “creationism” I quickly changed my mind.

By the way. Merry Kitzmas to everyone.

Malcolm said:

Bill Maz said:

However, there is a fourth. They sense, as even as some scientists do, that the story is incomplete. They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution.

Are you implying that the people in other countries, countries where more people understand evolution, are stupid? That somehow those in America who don’t understand evolution are more clued up than people elsewhere?

No, I am saying that because people in other countries are not as religious, especially in European countries, as people in America, and because they are more educated in science, they trust science more. Evolution, as I will point out in the next posting, is not the same as any other science in that it directly confronts the biblical a idea that man was created in the image of God. And for that, you need a higher level of proof to convince them.

eric said:

Bill Maz said: It is amazing to me that you guys are still arguing with IDists after all this time.

I see it largely as a social issue. They are trying to change the way science is taught in schools - in a bad way. I oppose that. And I see fighting that as a worthwhile cause no matter how intellectually silly or easily dismissed I think their arguments are. If they want to stop messing about with HS curricula and go back to teaching creationism in sunday school, that’s fine by me. If they want to do research on ID-style hypotheses, that’s also fine by me.

My reason for putting that statement on my site is to foment discussion and to argue, despite it being from a disreputable source, that some scientists, even if only a few are from the field of evolutionary biology, have arrived at the conclusion that evolutionary theory as it stands now is incomplete.

So the frak what? Physics is incomplete. Cosmology is incomplete. What we teach in those subjects is the best, mainstream methodology and conclusions they offer. So why would we do anything different in biology?

They revert to religion because they don’t see an all encompassing scientific theory, much like a “theory of everything” in physics, that explains all of what we are finding in evolution.

I very much doubt that. You don’t find anyone saying “QM can’t be aligned with GR, therefore I’ll be a buddhist.” People on the whole seem perfectly fine with science that can answer a lot of questions but not all of them.

People also don’t reject cannonball physics and other well-settled science just because there are holes in other parts of our scientific knowledge. Which is what you are implying they are doing here: rejecting the very well-settled fact of descent with modification because of holes in our understanding of what mechanisms played the most prominent roles. I don’t buy it. I think its much more likely that if they are rejecting well-settled science, its because of conflicting non-scientific beliefs, not because of some gap in scientific knowledge quite separate from the well-settled bits they

I do want to go forward to look at other ideas, all scientifically based, that can give us a more comprehensive model. This may sound like clap-trap to some, but as I have cited above, there are some scientists who don’t, including those that are researching information and chaotic mechanisms to add to our understanding of how evolution works. I don’t think this should be a threat to anyone.

I disagree with you on one point: that evolution is just like any other science. Evolution goes to the heart of Biblical thinking, which is that man was created in the image of God. So it has an Emotional higher value for them than quantum mechanics or relativity theory, which they don’t understand anyway. The problem for them, as I try to understand it, is that evolution says that Man just happened to evolve in the form that he is today. Randomly, and without an ultimate purpose. That goes squarely against Biblical thinking more that any other science does.

Now, if they were intelligent and rational people, they would conclude that just like QM and relativity theory, evolution is just a law that exists. God could have created the laws of evolution just like He could have created the other mathematical rules of the universe. And none here, I don’t think, would have any objection to that because there is no scientific way of proving it one way or the other. But the IDists or the Creationists can’t accept that, because, unlike QM or relativity theory, it goes against direct biblical teaching. So there lies the rub.

Is Man special? Was there an inevitability to Man’s evolution? Contemporary thinking says no, it was a result of a multitude of forces that resulted in what we have today, based on random activity. But is that truly the case?

What I have been trying to suggest is that the are lines of investigation which try to find an overarching pattern, such as those looking for an information line of inquiry, or a chaotic one, or even a quantum one, which try to address this question. Not whether Man was destined to look the way he does, but whether Intelligence was an evolutionary advantage, or whether there was mathematical directions toward which chaotic attractors lead evolution. Yes, I know from reading these blogs that these terms seem to be inflammatory words. But they shouldn’t be. And yes, I know that many of these ideas can be used by Creationists to put forth their own ideas. We know that when the Big Bang theory was proposed that the Pope at the time tried to use it as a proof that God existed. Then he backed off. In the end, religion has to distance itself from the science of the universe in which we find ourselves. The only place where God can have a role is in the origin of the mathematical laws that govern the universe as a whole.

And that is where we need to lead these people in understanding, that evolution is just another of the many laws of the universe that exist, by the “grace of God” if you want, but in any event, they have no scientific explanation of their origin. We all have to live with them.

Science deals with the natural explanations of natural phenomena. Intelligent design is also sterile as far as science is concerned. To be considered as real science, it must be able to explain and estimate the natural phenomena. Intelligent design proponents simply say that life is too complicated to have production naturally. Therefore, an intelligent human being i.e, God must have directly intervened whenever it selected to cause the diversity of the species - OMICS Publishing Group

Remember; there is no such thing as consensus, in science!

landmark said:

Remember; there is no such thing as consensus, in science!

No, there is no such thing as consensus in religion.

DS said:

landmark said:

Remember; there is no such thing as consensus, in science!

No, there is no such thing as consensus in religion.

One achieves consensus in science by demonstrating that one’s explanation is either better than the current explanations of a particular phenomenon/suite of phenomena, or that one’s explanation is a vital addendum that makes the current explanations better. Once a majority of scientists in the relevant field are convinced by one’s explanation and evidence, then consensus is achieved.

To claim that “there is no such thing as consensus in science,” even in jest, is a blatant lie.

In religion, “consensus” is usually achieved either by banishing/excommunicating/outliving/publicly humiliating/erasing/assassinating one’s rivals. Only very rarely do religions achieve any lasting consensus that don’t involve slave-like devotion to the status quo in order to secure the elite’s power base.

Like, in Islam and Judaism, the consensus is that one can break halal or kosher laws if one’s life is threatened, i.e., like, through starvation, or through a medical practioner’s prescription. On the other hand, Christians rarely feel the need to lift religious taboos for the sake of the comfort or survival of their members.

DS said:

landmark said:

Remember; there is no such thing as consensus, in science!

No, there is no such thing as consensus in religion.

One achieves consensus in science by demonstrating that one’s explanation is either better than the current explanations of a particular phenomenon/suite of phenomena, or that one’s explanation is a vital addendum that makes the current explanations better. Once a majority of scientists in the relevant field are convinced by one’s explanation and evidence, then consensus is achieved.

To claim that “there is no such thing as consensus in science,” even in jest, is a blatant lie.

In religion, “consensus” is usually achieved either by banishing/threatening/torturing/excommunicating/outliving/publicly humiliating/erasing/assassinating one’s rivals. Only very rarely do religions achieve any lasting consensus that don’t involve slave-like devotion to the status quo in order to secure the elite’s power base.

And Creationists seek to achieve consensus in the scientific communities via the methods used in religion. They’re not at all interested in achieving consensus via scientific methods, as that is anathema to them. Why else would the ICR have all their employees swear that they will disregard any evidence contradicting a literal interpretation of the Bible, or why the Discovery Institute create the Wedge Document outlining their plot to transform the United States (and then later, the world) into a Theocratic Dictatorship For Jesus?

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This page contains a single entry by Jeffrey Shallit published on December 11, 2012 2:30 PM.

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