Good Math, Bad Math, and David Berlinkski

David Berlinski is the Disco Institute’s ex-pat math jester (vying with Dembski for the lead in that role). He apparently regards himself as a polymath, taking on evolutionary biology from his vantage point in Paris. He’s been taken down on the Thumb a number of times – see, for example, here and here – and Jason Rosenhouse has also nailed Berlinski for his misrepresentations of evolutionary biology, concluding

So, once again, we have caught Berlinski making stuff up. There is almost no intersection at all between Berlinski’s points and those made by Dawkins and Coyne, and where there is overlap the latter had a far different points in mind than the former. But then, if they didn’t resort to total fiction the anti-evolutionists would have nothing to say at all.

Recently the Disco Institute put up Berlinski’s analysis of the probability of the naturalistic origin of life. Math is allegedly Berlinski’s field of expertise, so it seems reasonable to imagine that he’d do a better job in it. But Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math gives it a look, concluding

This is what mathematicians call “slop”, also known as “crap”. Bad reasoning, fake numbers pulled out of thin air, assertions based on big numbers, deliberately using wrong numbers, invalid combinatorics, and misapplication of models. It’s hard to imagine what else he could have gotten wrong.

That’s pretty much the same conclusion that Rosenhouse reached regarding Berlinski’s work. Give Chu-Carroll’s full post a read.