Dumping on Dembski II

Here at The Panda's Thumb we try to keep the discourse at a tolerably high level. Certain parodies of inane creationist cartoons notwithstanding, we are united by the belief that the arguments offered by creationists of all stripes are fundamentally mistaken, and the facts of modern biology are far more interesting than the caricature they present. But in the midst of all this high-mindedness we should not fancy ourselves above pouncing on instances of poor phrasing and unfortunate choices of words when we find them. Of course, such instances are evidence of nothing more than poor editing, and say nothing about the argument being made. Still, show me the curmudgeon who does not get a kick out of the following sentence, which appears on page 135 of William Dembski's The Design Revolution: Claude Shannon invented the mathematical theory of information shortly after World War II. The inspiration for his theory derived from his work during the war on cryptography. War on cryptography? Is that like the War on Drugs or the War on poverty? I guess Shannon didn't like number theorists. Or this one, from page 143: The Darwinian mechanism is a trial-and-error mechanism, with natural selection providing the trial and random variation providing the error. Ahem. Actually, it is random variation that provides the trial. Selection plays the role of “error”. If you're looking for more high-minded criticism of Dembski, go visit EvolutionBlog. I have just added a lengthy post about the limitations of intelligence and the difference between embodied and disembodied designers. Enjoy!