Monday, August 18, 2014

John Wilkins discusses the "Demarcation Problem"

One of the most fascinating things about philosophy is the fact that philosophers still can't agree on the major issues even after debating them for hundreds of years. For example, they still can't, as a discipline, agree on whether there are good arguments for the existence of gods. Many universities have theologians who masquerade as philosophers and publish in philosophy journals.

Philosophers are still discussing the mind-body problem. In other words, there actually are legitimate philosophers who call themselves dualists and think that the mind is something more than the workings of matter. Some philosophers think there are moral absolutes while others are ethical relativists and some are something else. Apparently, several hundred years of debate hasn't resolved this issue either.

Recently (last century) the discipline of philosophy has spun off a subdiscipline known as the "History and Philosophy of Science." This is now a separate department in many universities.

We all have a pretty good idea about the meaning of "history" but philosophers can't agree on the meaning of "science." The attempt to define science goes under the name of the "demarcation problem." I've written about this quite a bit since I find it bizarre that philosophers can't reach agree on what they are studying.

I side with those philosophers who prefer a broad definition of science—the one that's more akin to "scientia" or the German word Wissenschaft. According to this view, science is a way of knowing based on evidence, rational thinking, and healthy skepticism. As long as you are employing this approach, you are engaging in a scientific way of knowing. This includes economists, physicians, and philosophers.

John Wilkins has a different view and I've talked about it before [John Wilkins writes about accommodationism]. John seems to prefer a more restricted view of "science" that only covers what physicists, biologists, and chemists do when they are trying to find out things about the natural world. I'm not sure if he has a name for other ways of knowing and I'm not sure if he thinks they have been successful.1

He sees the demarcation problem as the problem of distinguishing between good science and bad science where bad science isn't science. That's what many articles in the book, Philosophty of Pseudoscience, are about. For example, intelligent design creationism isn't science according to John Wilkins' view and the views of many, but not all, philosophers.

I disagree. I think that what Bill Dembski and Michael Behe are doing is trying to develop a theory/model using evidence, rational thinking and healthy skepticism. In other words, they are attempting to use science as a way of knowing but they are doing it badly. Their evidence is flawed, their logic is flawed, and they are not being skeptical because they are blinded by their belief in gods. They aren't the only ones who do science badly—the ENCODE Consortium is another example—but we shouldn't say that everyone who does science badly is not doing science at all.

Here's John Wilkins describing his view of the demarcation problem. You can leave a comment on his blog at: Wilkins on demarcation.




1. If you use my broad definition of science then it's pretty clear that it has successfully produced real knowledge. It's also pretty clear that no other way of knowing has ever been successful in producing knowledge. (facts are not the same as knowledge)

123 comments :

  1. There is an argument to be made that many pseudo-scientists are just doing science badly, but this argument is in contraction to the broader definition of science that you prefer. Pseudo-scientists are pseudo-scientists precisely *because* they don't do science in the sense of "a way of knowing based on evidence, rational thinking, and healthy skepticism" but rather allow religion, or politics, or whatever to win out over the evidence and suppress their skepticism.

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    1. Do you think that any of us could survive that kind of scrutiny? Are there people who apply the scientific way of knowing so perfectly that they could never be accused of making a mistake?

      Can you name some "scientists" who meet your standards? Are you one?

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    2. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect scientists to be self-aware enough to know their own biases and not to distort the evidence to conform to them. That doesn't mean that they never make a mistake or in no way subconsciously influenced by their biases, but at least they don't reject evolution because "Unchristian" or genetics because "Mendel-Morganism is capitalist propaganda"

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    3. Are there people who apply the scientific way of knowing so perfectly that they could never be accused of making a mistake?

      I doubt anyone can claim a perfect record of applying a job description. Perhaps it is more useful to ask what the goal is, and what the permissible tools are to use in meeting that goal.

      Let's take as an example astrology, since Dr. Behe testified under oath that discipline would meet his definition of science. Goal: to predict human behavior and future events. No problem there. Permissible tools: Star configurations as seen from Earth (constellations). Oops. We can't identify a mechanism whereby this *could* affect human behavior and future events, and there is no vetted evidence (e.g., repeatable observations) that it has.

      Let's take astronomy as a comparison. Goal: to learn how "heavenly bodies" and the other stuff in the universe works. OK. Permissible tools: Math, physics, repeatable observations. Good too - there are mechanisms identified or hypothesized, and evidence to back them up, or if one or the other is lacking, that's acknowledged as an issue and subject for future work.

      I'll leave it to others to repeat the exercise for evolutionary biology and intelligent design. :)

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    4. @judmarc

      You picked the exact example that I was thinking of. If I had been on the witness stand in the Dover trial I would have said that astrology meets the definition of science as a way of knowing but it's bad science and it doesn't work.

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    5. How does astrology meet your broad definition of science? It's not evidence-based, it's not rational, and it eschews skepticism.

      I like your definition of the scientific way of knowing, and I agree that some ID proponents are doing science by that definition, even if they are doing it badly. But if someone is only looking to make the evidence fit a prior conclusion, that's no longer consistent with even the broad definition.

      To me, that's a critical aspect of "real" science. The goal should always be to make the conclusion fit the evidence, never the other way around. Of course, none of us is perfect in that regard. All of us are at least occasionally guilty of pseudoscience by that definition, even if we don't always realize it.

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    6. If I had been on the witness stand in the Dover trial I would have said that astrology meets the definition of science as a way of knowing but it's bad science and it doesn't work.

      A comment and a question:

      - Since it's been repeatedly shown not to work, in what sense is astrology "scientific"?

      - Can you give an example of something that in your view would cross the line of demarcation (if one exists) between bad science and non-science?

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    7. Whoops, that was two questions. OK, consider the first one rhetorical, i.e., astrology has been demonstrated not to work, and in my opinion a belief in an efficacy that has been demonstrated not to exist cannot be called scientific.

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    8. It was a loaded question, which Behe fell for. The fact that he clarified his answer is irrelevant to the ability to cherry pick (quote mine) later citations.

      Google in quotes, this sentence, and this partial sentence:

      "But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?"

      + "yes, that's correct"


      9790 hits

      Now add on this partial sentence, in quotes:

      "does not include the theory being true"

      4070 hits

      The complete exchange at Day 11, PM 1 :
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day11pm.html

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    9. Both Behe and Larry screwed the pooch when they said astrology is science-- even if they say it's bad science!

      Name one astrologer who ever used the scientific method! Yeah, Kepler practiced astrology (needed the money) but even he didn't apply the scientific method to it.

      If astrology is science, what in the heck is not science?

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    10. Lee Bowman, no one is contending Behe thinks astrology is true. The entire point of that section of the testimony and the trial itself is whether or not ID is science. Behe said yes, giving a definition of science. The cross examining attorney then asked whether, under Behe's definition, even astrology would be science, and Behe said yes, as you've quoted. So how would you like to be charged tax money to have your kids taught astrology in science class?

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    11. Q: Has there ever been a time when astrology has been accepted as a correct or valid scientific theory, Professor Behe?

      A: "Well, I am not a historian of science. And certainly nobody -- well, not nobody, but certainly the educated community has not accepted astrology as a science for a long long time."

      Behe admits to not being an authority regarding historical science, and yet is quoted ad finitum as defining both ID and astrology as valid science.

      • First, he never said that, and
      • lastly, even if he did, he's not a 'historian' of science, and therefore unqualified to make such an assertion.

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    12. The question isn't whether astrology or ID are science. Neither are. And neither is evolution, natural selection, genetics, etc. the question is whether they can be studied using the scientific process. And the answer to this is, yes.

      However, some (eg, astrology and ID) can quickly be discarded as false theories whereas others stand up to the test of time and evidence.

      But, regardless, there is no doubt that Behe and the other creationists are bad scientists. They know that they have a pre existing bias that could significantly affect their research if not properly controlled for. But rather than ensure that they take this bias into account, they gravitate to the few pieces of evidence and observations that "may" support their arguments and completely ignore the mountains of evidence that contradicts them.

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    13. And certainly nobody -- well, not nobody, but certainly the educated community has not accepted astrology as a science for a long long time.

      It's too bad the questioning didn't proceed to ask who does accept astrology as science, which would be deluded fools on one side and opportunistic fraudsters on the other.

      Which describes the ID ecosystem perfectly.

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    14. Lee Bowman, August 19th at 4:40 pm:

      Behe admits to not being an authority regarding historical science, and yet is quoted ad finitum as defining both ID and astrology as valid science.

      First, he never said that


      Lee Bowman, 2 hours earlier:

      "But you [Behe] are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?"

      + "yes, that's correct"


      It is thus quite clear, despite your misimpression or misdirection or whatever it is, that the question was not whether Behe thought astrology was correct, but whether the way he defined "science" would encompass not just ID but astrology. He had to admit the answer was yes.

      The entire point of the trial at which he was appearing as a witness was to determine whether the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania was seeking to have Intelligent Design taught in science classes because it was science, or due to religious motivations. Behe was trying to save the right to teach Intelligent Design as science, but to do so he was forced to use a definition of "science" that the court found absurd (though Dr. Moran would very likely disagree); a definition that would include the right to teach astrology as science, using your tax dollars.

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    15. The 'partial' quote of Behe from an earlier comment, "Yes, that's correct" was then qualified as (1) referring to a proposition, (2) based on inferences, and (3) subsequently shown to be incorrect.

      Also, the fact that the questioner tied astrology to ID in stating the question was merely an attempt to coalesce the two, which Behe never admitted to. And yet, the question as stated, along with only the first part ("Yes, that's true.") of Behe's more detailed response is widely cited today, giving a totally false impression of Behe's actual position regarding.

      Here's just one of many blog pieces that gleefully misrepresented Behe's position, with a citation:
      http://luttrellica.blogspot.com/2005/10/if-intelligent-design-is-science-then.html

      "Rothschild saw his opportunity to move in for the kill. "But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?"

      "Yes, that's correct," Behe said, as the court erupted in laughter.

      "You've got to admire the guy," comments Robert Slade, a local retiree and science enthusiast. "It's Daniel in the lions' den."


      IOW, a working scientist portrayed as accepting astrology as being a valid theory, by the simple means of selective quoting, followed by outright lies [laughter]. Cornelius Hunter summarizes here:
      http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/10/inherit-myth-part-ii.html

      Referring to Celeste Biever's skewed version. I would think that Justin Bieber could have done better. ;~)
      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17998-monkey-trial-drama-is-more-than-a-defence-of-evolution.html?full=true

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    16. I just love how the IDiots are still butthurting over the Dover trial.

      Replaying the trial over and over and over won't change this simple fact, Lee Bowman: Your guys lost. Lost, lost, lost! Deal with it.

      Bwahahahaha!

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    17. Not really. Science itself took a step backward. When political ploys are used to establish embellish one's position rather than presenting evidence, one's 'actual' position is degraded. So what was the ploy? A 'put up' trial, with the sole purpose of discrediting ID as an investigative hypothesis, and to gather impetus in the Court of Public Opinion.

      "The only recourse that the citizens of Dover had was to sue. (pause) That said, this was the perfect case." smiles and chuckles from the gallery.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=924Nz5WPxcQ

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    18. Lee Bowman sez:

      When political ploys are used to establish embellish one's position rather than presenting evidence, one's 'actual' position is degraded.

      And there goes another irony meter up in smoke. Why did the Dover trial have to happen in the first place? Because the cdesign proponentsists tried to sneak creationism into the school curriculum thru regulations passed by a school board stacked with fundagelical half-wits. IOW, thru a political ploy.

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    19. "Why did the Dover trial have to happen in the first place?"

      It didn't. NCSE, along with the ACLU and AU were the ones who wanted it, NOT the Discovery Institute, who opposed it. Download this .pdf and read pgs. 4 - 8.
      http://www.discovery.org/f/1372

      "Because the cdesign proponentsists tried to sneak creationism into the school curriculum thru regulations passed by a school board stacked with fundagelical half-wits."

      Correct. ID proponents had nothing to do with it. Read a few paragraphs here, to see that the Jurist was predetermined to set a legal precedent regarding ID. Not a 'set up' case? Read starting with paragraph 4:
      http://www.discovery.org/a/3135

      So rather than 'jury' rigging, I'd call it 'Jurist' rigging.

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    20. Lee Bowman -

      I am an attorney and have read the full trial transcript of Dover, so I need no interpretation of what Behe did and did not say. He absolutely did say that by the definition he was using to call Intelligent Design "science," astrology would have to be considered science as well. No inferences required, he stated his answer flatly and more than once. Remember, Behe was well aware this was the central issue of the trial, and he was also well aware of the negative effect of his answer on the side for which he was testifying. I invite anyone who has any doubt about Behe's testimony to read the full transcript, freely available online.

      Regarding who "wanted" the trial - It had been reported in newspapers for some years preceding the trial that Thomas More Law Center was looking for a school district willing to try to use the Creationist/ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" in science classrooms and act as a test case for ID legitimacy. Neither the NCSE, the ACLU, or the AU were involved at that stage, nor was the Discovery Institute. (By the way, Mr. Bowman, I would stop depending on whatever news source gave you the information that the ACLU, NCSE, or AU was responsible for pushing this as a test case. That source or sources, is/are, to be charitable, wholly unconcerned with truth and accuracy.)

      Several people from the Discovery Institute, including William Dembski, were slated to appear as expert witnesses on behalf of the school district. Dembski, at the last moment, created an impossible conflict by demanding his own separate representation, giving the Thomas More Law Center no alternative but to dismiss him, thus allowing him to escape having to appear in court. (If you have agreed to serve as an expert witness, you have no "skin in the game" at a trial, so there is no reason to have your own attorney. Dembski's demand was extremely rare if not unprecedented, and he knew it would give the defense no alternative but to let him go. In other words, at the last moment he found an excuse to run away. Reading Behe's cross examination, one would have to say Dembski was quite smart to do so.)

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    21. Read a few paragraphs here, to see that the Jurist was predetermined to set a legal precedent regarding ID.

      Once again the source of your information has misled you. If it was indeed the court's objective to set precedent, it failed miserably. As an attorney I can tell you the decision was foursquare within the applicable United States Supreme Court precedents cited by the court in its decision. The trial judge scrupulously *followed* legal precedent, he did not set it.

      You should try sometime reading the entire transcript, the court's decision, and the Supreme Court precedents cited in that decision. I have. The defense failed miserably to carry the burden of showing the school district's actions were taken for scientific rather than religious purposes (as well they should have - aside from any expert testimony, the testimony of the fact witnesses, particularly those from the defense itself, was particularly damning on that score, despite two defense witnesses clearly lying under oath).

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    22. Lee: "Correct. ID proponents had nothing to do with it."

      Then they should have stayed out of it. But they didn't.

      What do you mean by a "set up" case? That creationists tried to get their religious beliefs presented as actual science and forced people to challenge them on it, then got their collective asses handed to them because they had no scientific standing whatsoever to make a case?

      Sounds like they set themselves up.

      Creationism/ID is NOT science. It makes no scientifically testable hypotheses and has never attempted to do so. It only tries to punch holes in evoutionary theory.

      And BTW, science didn't take "a step back" in the Dover trial. Enev if we grant your claim that some people set other people up in a mena way, this has absolutely no reflection whatsoever on Science. It reflects only on those people who did it.

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    23. Bowman: "Correct. ID proponents had nothing to do with it."

      False. %&$* that lie. This lie, that the DI didn't want ID taught in public schools, was asserted by a paid DI flack at Dover immediately after the trial, when it was clear the IDiots had defeated themselves. At a debate/forum with Ken Miller, the DI flack lied and said the DI never, never promoted ID in public schools, and it had all been the school district's idea. This lie was so outrageous that it was immediately challenged by the PRO-ID side-- not our side, YOUR side-- the lawyer from the TMLC reached into his briefcase and pulled out this document with shit legal "advice" written in the 1990's by Discovery Institute dimwits Stephen Meyer and David deWolf. Meyer and deWolf, working for the DI, not only said that teaching ID in public schools was totally recommended, legal, constitutional and safe-- and the way to teach it is with this terrific new textbook, "Of Pandas and Prople," written entirely by DI fellows-- no, beyond all that, they warned school districts that they could be sued if they did NOT teach ID (NOT teaching ID would be illegal "viewpoint discrimination.")

      So at Dover, the TMLC lawyer waves the DI document in the DI flack's face and shuts him up. A couple years later IDiots went back to the lie.

      Besides Meyer's disastrous legal advice, Dembski also had written that ID must be taught in schools.

      The Wedge Document also states that they plan to provide legal advice/assistance to defend school districts that get sued for teaching ID.

      The ID proponents, like Meyer, Dembski, West and Chapman picked a fight. When their side was losing, they ran away clutching their enormous fees (Dembski threatened to sue his Christian brothers at the TMLC if they didn't pay him $20,000 for NOT testifying after he ran from Dover.)

      Then the IDiots tried to lie and claim they never picked the fight! Even the TMLC couldn't stomach that lie, but Lee Bowman wants to regurgitate it on us. ID = cowardice, deceit and dishonor.

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    24. Lee Bowman, do you work or have you worked for the Discovery Institute? You just linked to two of their documents as authoritative accounts of the DI's history, in spite of cdesign proponentsists' proven track record of lying about their own history, and trying to suppress their OWN documents and books (which pre-2003 described ID as creationist, supernatural, theistic and Christian) in vain attempts to stop us from reading and quoting what they themselves used to write.

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    25. Lee Bowman, do you work or have you worked for the Discovery Institute?

      I very much doubt it - if he worked there, he'd know these "facts" bear no relationship to historical reality.

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    26. Lee Bowman says the Discovery Institute does not use "political ploys" to try force creationism into schools because Lee Bowman is a lying sack of shit:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Freedom_bills

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    27. judmarc from yesterday:

      "I am an attorney and have read the full trial transcript of Dover, so I need no interpretation of what Behe did and did not say. He absolutely did say that by the definition he was using to call Intelligent Design "science," astrology would have to be considered science as well. No inferences required, he stated his answer flatly and more than once."

      If you read all of Day 11, PM, do a word search on the word 'correct', 93 hits. Now add a question mark after it, 48 hits, more than half. Ever heard of witness leading? As an attorney, if you make enough statements followed by 'correct?', you will occasionally get an unintended answer, which was the case here. Had I been their defense attorney, I would have objected on more than one instance. Interesting that not once, did the defense object on that basis.

      Another tactic is to ask a question, then to compare the off-the-cuff answer with one given previously in a deposition, often months earlier. Any variance whatsoever will then be jumped on, making it look like one has lied then, or now. And many of the questions are tentative, can vary according to context, and largely based on conjecture and/or opinion, so this can easily occur.

      "Remember, Behe was well aware this was the central issue of the trial, and he was also well aware of the negative effect of his answer on the side for which he was testifying."

      And if he could replay Day 11, some of his answers would be quite different, AND he would have had a copy of his deposition with him, which he did not on Day 11. I'm sure that he's now more tuned in to lawyer's tricks post Kitzmiller. Bear in mind, that the Plaintiff's total goal, was to trip Behe up in any/all ways possible.

      "I invite anyone who has any doubt about Behe's testimony to read the full transcript, freely available online."

      I've read them all, multiple times.

      "Regarding who "wanted" the trial - It had been reported in newspapers for some years preceding the trial that Thomas More Law Center was looking for a school district willing to try to use the Creationist/ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" in science classrooms and act as a test case for ID legitimacy. "

      Once notified of the case by Buckingham, they jumped on it pro bono. But regarding your 'source' of their prior activity, "It had been reported in newspapers for some years preceding the trial … " So what? It was the ACLU that initially filed suit, and the others mentioned joined in.

      "(By the way, Mr. Bowman, I would stop depending on whatever news source gave you the information that the ACLU, NCSE, or AU was responsible for pushing this as a test case. That source or sources, is/are, to be charitable, wholly unconcerned with truth and accuracy.)"

      I don't depend on 'news sources', like you did in the previous paragraph regarding TMLS's motives, nor Wikipedia per se, where much of the current anti-ID info resides.

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    28. Chris B from yesterday:

      " What do you mean by a "set up" case? That creationists tried to get their religious beliefs presented as actual science and forced people to challenge them on it, then got their collective asses handed to them because they had no scientific standing whatsoever to make a case?"

      The TMLC has had the promotion of religion within academia as a long term goal, which is reflected in their 'goal' statements. Their President and Chief Council, Richard Thompson, had this to say, per Nick Matzke's NCSE account:

      " What does philosophy have to do with this issue? This issue is not about science versus philosophy; it is about two different interpretations of the same scientific data by scientists. I assume you would agree that the metaphysical implication of Darwin's theory of evolution has no place in the science classroom. Or perhaps it is for this very reason that you so staunchly and dogmatically defend Darwin and place his theory above all criticism. (York Daily Record 2005 Jan 9)"

      While I don't agree with presenting religious views within science study, I do agree with this statements. ID is merely an evidentiary investigative hypothesis within ToE, which where evident, provides a more balanced view of what historic evolution may encompass. If ID can be shown to be incorrect at each and every evolutionary juncture, than Darwin's original conclusion of totally natural causation is confirmed. If not, then ID, to a degree, is confirmed.

      " Creationism/ID is NOT science. It makes no scientifically testable hypotheses and has never attempted to do so. It only tries to punch holes in evolutionary theory."

      Sorry, but questioning tenets of a theory by way of data is the way science is done. Contra to many reports concerning the Dover trial, ID is not an 'alternate' or 'replacement' theory to the current one, just an addition to it. As well, the conflation of ID with Creationism is totally false.

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    29. Diogenes

      Bowman: "Correct. ID proponents had nothing to do with it."

      "False. %&$* that lie. This lie, that the DI didn't want ID taught in public schools, was asserted by a paid DI flack at Dover immediately after the trial, when it was clear the IDiots had defeated themselves. At a debate/forum with Ken Miller, the DI flack lied and said the DI never, never promoted ID in public schools, and it had all been the school district's idea. "

      Reread my comment. The question was, "Why did the Dover trial have to happen in the first place?" To which I correctly answered that question.

      But with regard to wanting ID 'taught' in public schools, sure, that may have once been an objective, but not according to today's statements. ID will never be 'taught' as a discipline, which is what that infers, just presented as an ancillary hypothesis within evolutionary theory. And with NO religious underpinnings.

      "The Wedge Document also states that they plan to provide legal advice/assistance to defend school districts that get sued for teaching ID."

      Sorry, but the Wedge Document was NEVER official policy, just an internal document.

      "The ID proponents, like Meyer, Dembski, West and Chapman picked a fight. When their side was losing, they ran away clutching their enormous fees (Dembski threatened to sue his Christian brothers at the TMLC if they didn't pay him $20,000 for NOT testifying after he ran from Dover.)"

      I don't agree with that, if true. But it's nothing compared to the profits made by the Plaintiffs.

      "Then the IDiots tried to lie and claim they never picked the fight! Even the TMLC couldn't stomach that lie, but Lee Bowman wants to regurgitate it on us. ID = cowardice, deceit and dishonor."

      "Deceit and dishonor" is a common human trait, which extends to both sides in this case. The trial, pushed by Buckingham, was totally untoward, but Eugenie Scott had a slightly different take on it, cited from her talk at AA 2007:

      "That said, this was the perfect case."

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    30. Notice how Bowman defined God-of-the-Gaps-- or excuse me, "Angelic Beings"-of-the-Gaps-- as the default hypothesis. IDiot says superstition wins unless every atom that ever moved has the physics of its trajectory reconstructed.

      Bowman: "If ID can be shown to be incorrect at each and every evolutionary juncture, than Darwin's original conclusion of totally natural causation is confirmed. If not, then ID, to a degree, is confirmed."

      IDiot either has never heard of the scientific method, or else he knows what it is and is deliberately trying to replace it with a witch doctor's ooga booga.

      That is NOT the scientific method.

      In the scientific method, your theory has to make a specific prediction about observable quantities, such that it is falsifiable. But IDiots declare that magic and ooga booga win by default EVEN WHEN a real scientific theory makes successful predictions confirmed by observation, as is the case with evolutionary theory.

      Ooga booga does NOT win by default. If it did then apply it to germ theory-- you declare that every time a cow gets hoof and mouth disease, we must reconstruct the motion of every bacteria in its digestive tract and if we can't (or even if we can), you just declare that "Witches killed my cow" is the winning hypothesis. Ooga booga does not win by default.

      No. IDiots would not know the scientific method if it bit them on the ankle. IDiot authorities like Behe and Stephen Meyer issue a bunch of fake "predictions" that don't logically follow from the bare ID hypothesis (chloroquine resistance must require two SIMULTANEOUS mutations!) When their fake predictions are experimentally disproven a la Behe and Meyer, IDiot authorities just deny they said what they said on record-- like the way Behe lied on the witness stand at Dover, falsely claiming that in "Darwin's Black Box" he never said the entire blood clotting system was irreducibly complex-- a claim he made repeatedly in the book, then denied after it was experimentally falsified.

      If IDiots make fake "predictions" that don't logically follow from the bare ID hypothesis, and then rewrite their "predictions" each time they're experimentally falsified, then ID is a pseudoscience whose authority-claims can NEVER be falsified at ANY step of the evolutionary process.

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    31. Bowman: "I don't agree with that, if true. But it's nothing compared to the profits made by the Plaintiffs."

      The pro-evolution expert witnesses testified pro bono. The pro-ID witnesses charged an arm and a leg. The winning side voluntarily cut their monetary award IN HALF so as not to impoverish the school district.

      "Sorry, but the Wedge Document was NEVER official policy, just an internal document. "

      Bullshit. The Wedge Doc was an external, but confidential fund-raising brochure aimed at Christian fascist billionaires like Ahmanson. Do you know what "internal" means? Fund-raising is not internal.

      And if the Wedge Doc did not describe the DI's policy, then they were lying to the rich patrons for whom the document was written.

      If you're right, why was the DI lying to their patrons?

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    32. Diogenes

      "Lee Bowman, do you work or have you worked for the Discovery Institute?"

      Like you guys, I'm just an unpaid journalist.

      "You just linked to two of their documents as authoritative accounts of the DI's history, in spite of cdesign proponentsists' proven track record of lying about their own history, and trying to suppress their OWN documents and books (which pre-2003 described ID as creationist, supernatural, theistic and Christian) in vain attempts to stop us from reading and quoting what they themselves used to write."

      Some of that is true, although their purpose today is the secular pursuit of science, which will in fact, include ID as an investigative hypothesis. Regarding overt (and covert) religious motives, I, for one, have none. Just the open and objective pursuit of science.

      This overview of the trial by John West contains factual statements, which are referenced in most cases, but easily confirmable. And they consist of a complete 'aside' from the so-called religious motives you mention. The ruling against the school board was correct. The second ruling against ID was not just fallacious, but motive driven, and deceitful.
      http://www.discovery.org/a/3135

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    33. Lee:
      "Sorry, but questioning tenets of a theory by way of data is the way science is done. Contra to many reports concerning the Dover trial, ID is not an 'alternate' or 'replacement' theory to the current one, just an addition to it. As well, the conflation of ID with Creationism is totally false."

      Don't be sorry, evolutionary theory has been tested over decades, and has stood up. The problem with the ID/creationists is they don't test evolutionary theory, they lie about it. It is irrelevant whether ID fancies itself as an add on, or a replacement, or whatever. It makes no testable scientific hypotheses on its own, and is therefore not science.

      There is no conflation of ID and creationism; they are the same thing. ID has brought nothing new to the table, and has only rehashed old creationist tropes.

      Delete
    34. If ID can be shown to be incorrect at each and every evolutionary juncture, than Darwin's original conclusion of totally natural causation is confirmed. If not, then ID, to a degree, is confirmed.

      Incorrect for various reasons. Here are two:

      (1) There is no necessity that ID should be an alternative to aspects of the Theory of Evolution, much less the only alternative. In order to be considered a scientific alternative, there must be scientifically acceptable evidence in favor of design, rather than simply papers that try to poke holes in current evolutionary theory. I am only aware of a single paper attempting (poorly) to do this, which Jonathan Wells co-authored, if I recall correctly. ID will need far more than a single paper to become a scientifically acceptable alternative to any aspect of evolutionary theory.

      (2) The second point is the converse of the first. In order for the Theory of Evolution to be valid, it does not have to demonstrate ID is wrong. Why should ID, a theory that has never once been affirmatively demonstrated to be correct, have to be proved wrong in order for the Theory of Evolution to be correct? Rather, the theory of evolution must be demonstrated to explain speciation and associated phenomena. This it has done for a century and a half, and continues to do in thousands of scientific papers published each year.

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    35. As well, the conflation of ID with Creationism is totally false.

      That statement might be more believable if much of the "Intelligent Design" textbook, Of Pandas and People, hadn't been proved in a court of law to be old Creationist material with the phrase "intelligent design" simply copied and pasted over "creationism" at appropriate places. Remember "cdesign proponentsists," Lee? :-D

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    36. Diogenes

      Regarding your 'ooga booga' comment, your similitudes are hilarious. Robin Williams would have luved em!

      Regarding Behe's so-called 'lie' regarding his definition of the clotting system in its entirety in the book, now changed to consisting of its essential system below the fork, he merely modified his original theorem. No lie; just a redefinition. For IC to be properly assessed, the systemics involved need to be properly defined, or re-defined as was the case in this instance.

      Hey, it's OK to nit-pick. But to label someone as a liar based on a re-definition of an a priori hypothesis is going a little far.

      Delete
    37. The ruling against the school board was correct. The second ruling against ID was not just fallacious, but motive driven, and deceitful.
      http://www.discovery.org/a/3135


      There were not two separate (or separable) rulings. There was one conclusion based on the factual evidence submitted, considered within the legal parameters of controlling precedent from the United States Supreme Court.

      If you disagree, then I want to know specifically what factual evidence submitted in the case and what legal principles under the Supreme Court's Lemon and Aguillard opinions combine to render the judge's conclusion, and the specific rulings in support of that conclusion, incorrect.

      In your specific answer, please do not neglect to explain in detail why, under the Lemon test, ID's scientific validity would not be a relevant issue.

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    38. Lee Bowman writes:

      Ever heard of witness leading?

      I don't say this to be hostile or insulting, so you should listen: You are out of your depth.

      Just so you won't think the information is sullied by any motives or biases of mine, please go look up for yourself the permissibility of leading a witness on direct versus cross examination.

      The cross-examination of Behe at the Dover trial is widely admired in the legal profession, to the extent that it has been recommended for use as a teaching tool for law students.

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    39. Chris B

      "Don't be sorry, evolutionary theory has been tested over decades, and has stood up."

      Due to macro- events being non-replicable (non-empirically testable), the actual causative mechanisms of the formation of complex and multi-dependent systems, and of body-plan redesigns beyond minor quantitative and adaptive modifications is tentative and conjectural.

      Parallels to short-term adaptations like E. coli nylonase production as one example, are not actual confirmations of the above events. So even though well tested, there are still tentative aspects that could well have been the (partial or complete) result of genetic reprogramming.

      The jury is still out.

      "The problem with the ID/creationists is they don't test evolutionary theory, they lie about it."

      Current testing consists of establishing probability boundaries. Future testing may consist of actual modeling, but until ID is allowed on the lab bench and allowed actual funding, how can it be tested? AAAS won't allow it to be tested within its preset parameters of what constitutes actual science.

      "It is irrelevant whether ID fancies itself as an add on, or a replacement, or whatever. It makes no testable scientific hypotheses on its own, and is therefore not science."

      Again, those points have been addressed. As far as being an adjunct hypothesis to sit with equal stature with non-ID, those are my objectives, based on evidentiary data. And no, as stated, it doesn't "replace" the current theory.

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    40. As an attorney, if you make enough statements followed by 'correct?', you will occasionally get an unintended answer, which was the case here. Had I been their defense attorney, I would have objected on more than one instance. Interesting that not once, did the defense object on that basis.

      The defense didn't object because they were attorneys aware of the applicable law. You would have objected more than once because you know nothing about the applicable law. Please tell us which specific subsections of the Federal Rules of Evidence you would have based an objection on at any specific point in Behe's entire cross-examination (page and line number, please) where his own legal team did not object.

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    41. Lee Bowman said:

      "Regarding overt (and covert) religious motives, I, for one, have none. Just the open and objective pursuit of science."

      Lee, do you believe in a 'God"? If so, which 'God'? Do you believe that angels, demons, and a devil exist? Do you believe that your chosen 'God' created the universe? Do you believe that your chosen 'God' specially created man in his own image? Do you believe that adam and eve were the first humans? Do you believe that a worldwide flood inundated the Earth and killed everything except 8 people and some animals on a wooden boat? Do you believe that dinosaurs lived alongside people? Do you believe that humans are sinners, and that unrepentant, unforgiven sinners will burn in a lake of fire for eternity? Do you believe that prayer works? Do you believe in miracles?

      Please specify a scientific way in which ID can be tested and verified, without mentioning any part of the theory of evolution. Also, name five things on or in the Earth that are not designed by the alleged designer and five things in the universe (away from the Earth) that are not designed by the alleged designer. Leave anything pertaining to human designs out of it.

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    42. judmarc

      " I don't say this to be hostile or insulting, so you should listen: You are out of your depth.

      Just so you won't think the information is sullied by any motives or biases of mine, please go look up for yourself the permissibility of leading a witness on direct versus cross examination."


      I didn't say that those tactics employed were non-permissible, I've seen shots of Judge Jones' smiles and nods. They are perfectly acceptable in a cross exam, but with limits. My point was that a lawyer is much more skilled in facilitating the apparent degradation of a witnesses testimony than a witness is capable of avoiding it.

      Where I strongly disagree with the decision, is adjudicating ID based on a religiously motivated school boards actions, as well as the bulk of one man's testimony, and skewering that testimony at every opportunity to have a play on words. In Judge Jones' 139 page double spaced decision, Behe's name is mentioned 84 times, and nearly all references are degrading.

      The trial was alleged to merely disallow the reading of a statement which mentioned shortcomings in the current ToE, and ended with the goal of promoting students "encouraged to keep an open mind", but was used to unfairly represent ID, and for political motivations.

      Part two of the ruling is plainly a violation of established jurisprudence, whether you as a lawyer agree or not. If current jurisprudential standards DO in fact allow for this, I await a ruling on the Big Bang Theory by the judiciary. If ID, why not ALL unproven theories?

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    43. Part two of the ruling is plainly a violation of established jurisprudence, whether you as a lawyer agree or not.

      I asked for specific points of the judge's ruling that were incorrect with regard to applicable Supreme Court precedents as applied to the specific factual evidence in the case; in particular, a specific explanation as to why ID's scientific validity would not be relevant under the Lemon test.

      Instead, you provide vague pronouncements about "a violation of established jurisprudence."

      This tells me you have no answer. When you come up with something legally on point, please let us know.

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    44. They are perfectly acceptable in a cross exam, but with limits.

      Please do tell us, with specific reference to subsections of the Federal Rules of Evidence or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, what the limit is on asking leading questions on cross examination.

      My point was that a lawyer is much more skilled in facilitating the apparent degradation of a witnesses testimony than a witness is capable of avoiding it.

      Not if the witness is testifying to something that makes sense and that he or she knows well, since that is his or her territory, not the lawyer's. But yes, in an instant if the witness is trying to do anything other than that, since he or she is now playing on the lawyer's turf. The spectacular fashion in which Behe cratered under cross examination is unprecedented in my years of legal practice, either with cases I've been involved in personally or in transcripts I've read.

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    45. judmarc

      "There were not two separate (or separable) rulings. There was one conclusion based on the factual evidence submitted, considered within the legal parameters of controlling precedent from the United States Supreme Court."

      And there was the adjudication of ID, based on the Jurist's access to limited and skewered information.

      "If you disagree, then I want to know specifically what factual evidence submitted in the case and what legal principles under the Supreme Court's Lemon and Aguillard opinions combine to render the judge's conclusion, and the specific rulings in support of that conclusion, incorrect. "

      I agree completely with the Court's application two of the three prongs [or 'effects' as Jones clarified] from the Lemon v Kurtzman case.

      "In your specific answer, please do not neglect to explain in detail why, under the Lemon test, ID's scientific validity would not be a relevant issue."

      Glad that you brought that up. From the ruling,

      "[19] Plaintiffs are not claiming excessive entanglement. Accordingly, Plaintiffs argue that the ID policy is violative of the first two prongs of the Lemon test, the purpose and effect prongs."

      Followed by:

      "We will therefore consider whether (1) Defendants' primary purpose was to advance religion or (2) the ID Policy has the primary effect of promoting religion.

      The Court thusly attaches a 'misnomer' to the implementation of the statement to be read, to wit, calling it an "ID Policy" The fallacy here is that these prong applications apply solely to the school board's 'purpose' and 'effect', and NOT to any 'alleged' constituent ID Policy!

      In short, there is NO SUCH ID POLICY, now or which commenced the legal action. It was plainly a 'school board's' policy to implement. Such misconceptions and misconstruances have permeated not just the trial, but the current predominant thinking in the Court of Public Opinion, bred and germinated by the Kitzmiller v Dover fiasco.

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    46. I'm going for a daily double and an apple pie at McDonalds. More later perhaps.

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    47. We will therefore consider whether (1) Defendants' primary purpose was to advance religion

      Exactly. Please now explain how the issue of whether ID is scientifically valid, or is creationism/religion masquerading as science, was not relevant to whether the Defendants' primary purpose was to advance religion.

      Laying it out for you even more simply:

      - ID is valid science. Defendants can therefore say honestly that their purpose was the advancement of the valid scientific education of the district's students, and its effect is the same.

      - ID is not valid science, but is mere religion (creationism) masquerading as science. Defendants might provide evidence that they had no religious understanding of ID, but thought it was scientific (though they didn't do that, since it was not how they thought - their motivation was certainly religious). But certainly the "effect" prong of Lemon would have to point toward religion if ID was not valid science, but religion/creationism masquerading as science.

      Thus ID's scientific validity was highly relevant to both the "purpose" and "effect" prongs of Lemon, as recognized by both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants, who put on extensive direct evidence as to ID's scientific validity. Do you understand what that means, legally? The Defendants themselves were putting evidence in front of the judge asking for a favorable ruling on the exact issue John West says the judge should not have decided. If it should not have been decided, why did the Defendants put forward so much evidence on that exact point?

      Mr. Bowman, will you agree with me that litigants do not put forward extensive evidence on irrelevant issues they don't want the judge to rule on?

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    48. The legal point made by Judmarc, who is an actual lawyer, bears repeating:

      "ID's scientific validity was highly relevant to both the "purpose" and "effect" prongs of Lemon, as recognized by both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants, who put on extensive direct evidence as to ID's scientific validity. Do you understand what that means, legally? The Defendants themselves were putting evidence in front of the judge asking for a favorable ruling on the exact issue John West says the judge should not have decided. If it should not have been decided, why did the Defendants put forward so much evidence on that exact point?

      Mr. Bowman, will you agree with me that litigants do not put forward extensive evidence on irrelevant issues they don't want the judge to rule on?"

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    49. Above I made reference to a DI flack who falsely stated that the DI had never encouraged school districts to teach intelligent design. His name was Mark Ryland, and he was immediately smacked down by his would-be ally, the pro-ID lawyer from the TMLC.

      Here he is, at a debate/forum in 2005 arranged by the NCSE. Now compare his words to what the DI authorities actually said.


      MARK RYLAND (DI): Let me back up first and say: The Discovery Institute never set out to have a school board, schools, get into this issue. We've never encouraged people to do it, we've never promoted it. We have, unfortunately, gotten sucked into it, because we have a lot of expertise in the issue, that people are interested in.
      When asked for our opinion, we always tell people: don't teach intelligent design. There's no curriculum developed for it...
      [Discovery Institute and Thomas More Law Center Squabble in AEI Forum. October 23rd, 2005. ]

      Now compare the above to the DI document written six years earlier, 1999, by Stephen Meyer, David deWolf, and Mark deForrest "Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook."

      I emphasize the subtitle of this document: A LEGAL GUIDEBOOK. In the document they say that:

      1. Teaching ID in public schools is recommended, safe, legal and constitutional.

      2. There is a curriculum to teach it, in a great new textbook, Of Pandas and People.

      3. If you don't teach ID, it's dangerous, you may get sued for "viewpoint discrimination."

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    50. Lee:
      "Due to macro- events being non-replicable (non-empirically testable), the actual causative mechanisms of the formation of complex and multi-dependent systems, and of body-plan redesigns beyond minor quantitative and adaptive modifications is tentative and conjectural."

      I wasn't there to see macroevolution occur so it didn't happen? That is not an argument. What would ID say, that god made macroevolution happen? What testable hypotheses or predictions emerge from that? If a god did do it, (s)he went to a lot of trouble to make it look just like evolution did it. Evolutionary theory makes predictions about what we should observe in extant life forms that evolved in the deep past and so far these predictions are confirmed. There is nothing 'tentative' or 'conjectural' about that. What does ID predict?

      "Parallels to short-term adaptations like E. coli nylonase production as one example, are not actual confirmations of the above events. So even though well tested, there are still tentative aspects that could well have been the (partial or complete) result of genetic reprogramming."

      What testable hypotheses emerge from the "genetic reprogramming" conjecture? How would it be different from what we would see under an evolutionary theory scenario?

      "Current testing consists of establishing probability boundaries."

      Yes, mathematical caculations about how evolution is impossible. None of these calculations has stood up to scrutiny. Furthermore, they are just attempts to disparage evolution.

      "Future testing may consist of actual modeling, but until ID is allowed on the lab bench and allowed actual funding, how can it be tested? AAAS won't allow it to be tested within its preset parameters of what constitutes actual science."

      Please don't pull out the old trope that ID research is all just stifled by the monolithic scientific community. That argument doen't hold water either. If ID had any scientifically testable hypotheses to test, they could be funded by successful competition for grant money like everyone else.

      "Again, those points have been addressed."

      To my knowledge, that point has never been addressed: what testable hypotheses exist that issue from ID?

      And for the record, the jury is always out in science. But to challenge an accepted idea you have to bring something scientific to the table.

      Delete
  2. Yes, I also prefer a relatively wide circumscription of science, and creationism is bad and outdated science, not non-science. But I think for the word science to have a useful definition, it should be restricted to those fields that attempt to understand the contingent, instantiated natural world.

    In other words, I do not see logic and mathematics as part of science although they are used by science (among many other tools) and although they are rational. They use a completely different type of "evidence" than empirical science, and to the degree that they produce knowledge that knowledge is necessarily true regardless of what the universe looks like.

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    1. Alex: "creationism is bad and outdated science, not non-science."

      How could you apply the scientific method to "variation within a kind"? They talk about an "orchard model" of many mini-trees rather than one big tree of life. How can the scientific method locate the "root" of each tree? Did any creationist every try? No.

      Creationists used to assert that only "devolution" or degeneration was possible, which they later called "decrease in information." But none of them ever wrote down an equation for their version of "information" applicable to biology, including Dembski (possible exception: Lee Spetner but he's got other issues.) Who applied the scientific method to the claim that only decreases in "information" were possible?

      Then later, after scientists racked up observed examples of increases in complexity and information evolving, the creationists concocted "mediated design" or "occult information", meaning the "information" (which they won't define and can't compute) was always there in the organism, it was just hidden and invisible, so when it evolves new information, the "invisible information" (which they won't define and can't compute and never observed and they would cut off their own ballsack before they'd even try to measure it) decreased invisibly by an amount greater than the increase in the visible "information" (which they also won't define and can't compute and would never even try to measure.)

      Who ever applied the scientific method to any of that?

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    2. The current crop of creationists of course do behave like pseudo-scientists because they ignore evidence, move goal-posts and so on. When I say that creationism as such is a potentially scientific idea (albeit a superseded and outdated one), the point is this: There is no reason that it could not serve as an inference to best explanation currently available.

      Assume future generations managed to travel between the stars and they found a planet somewhere else that had life on it. That life shows no phylogenetic structure; its genetics look as if all species started out ca. 100,000 years ago with complete genetic uniformity but no deleterious alleles whatsoever. There are no fossils from before ca. 100,000 years ago, not even organic sediments. What is more, while you cannot find any instances of bad morphological design such as the laryngeal nerve on Earth, there are numerous seemingly maladapted species that appear to produce useless, sterile fruiting bodies and suchlike.

      If, in that scenario, a scientist on the spaceship would suggest that life on that planet had most likely been created by an unknown extraterrestrial intelligence, would that be non-scientific? I hope we can agree that it would, in fact, be the most likely, most parsimonious, in other words, scientific explanation to adopt until somebody comes up with a better one.

      And before Darwin and Wallace, before people had a better explanation, before much of the currently available evidence was even discovered, creationism was as good an idea as any to make sense of nature and consequently accepted by many bona fide scientists. The difference on Earth is not that the same 'creation model' magically turned unscientific in 1859 but that an even better explanation was found.

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    5. For what it counts, I don't agree that ID, Astrology, etc, are "science", for a bunch of reasons. One difference is that the scientific community has the capacity to self-correct its views on the long run, something that neither ID/Astrology/Creationism has. And this occurs regardless of the personal biases that each scientist individually has. ENCODE is a good example.

      There was a time in the early 19th century in which most scientists didn't believe in meteorites because "quite clearly there are no rocks in the sky". People didn't accept Margullis origin of mitochondria hyphotesis. The examples are endless. But eventually, for all these cases, the data accumulated was simply too convincing to discard, and as a community scientists simply had to accept it.

      On the other hand you have people like Behe that (last time I checked) didn't accept the bacterial origins of mitochondria, not because of any plausible rationale but simply because he considers it to be a case of macroevolution and he already made an ideological commitment to refuse admiting that it does occur naturally. Is this just bad science? You have people associated with the Discovery Institute getting paid to state that humans and chimps don't have a common ancestor because chimps are differetn from humans *in any way that matters*. This is not just an idiot claiming to be an IDier but actually someone closely associated with the ID big shots and posting on their official media venues.

      Is there ANY evidence that would convince the ID community that their hyphotesis (which, by the way, it's a fact as far as they are concerned) doesn't have a leg to stand on? Creationists have been at it for ages, IDiers for a few decades. Anything changed? Nope. Do you believe anything *could* change? Except for their discourse, nope. And you call this science that just happens to be bad? Under this view of science I don't think we even need the word "science" anymore, since everything amounts to either "good" or "bad" science.

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    6. I think some people here are conflating the question whether special creation could be a scientific explanation (given different evidence than we have in reality) with the question whether people who are currently promoting creationism are good scientists.

      Not the same thing. There is no contradiction between saying that creationism is wrong science as opposed to non-science and saying that contemporary creationists are pseudo-scientists.

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    7. I don't see how a group of people that can go on for decades ignoring ever accumulating evidence contrary to their a priori conclusions, whose hypothesis is assumed as fact regardless of what evidence is produced to the contrary, and which is completely immune to refutation, can be considered as a scientific endeavor. This isn't faulty, shoddy, bad science. There are plenty examples of those. This is not one of them. Neither is Astrology, Homeopathy, or Feng-Sui.

      But again, everyone has a slightly different view of what science is or isn't, so it's not particularly surprising that we disagree. We do know what ID effectively *is* regardless of where we bin it.

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  3. While I agree that Behe really tries to do science I wouldn't say the same about Dembski. IMO he just follows his political agenda. Or do you know anybody else who reported a colleague to homeland security?

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    1. I think Behe is one of the few IDiots who, if he wanted, could perform real science. Most of his fellow IDiots are not capable of even that. But I see little evidence that he "tries to do science." His responses to the recent finding on the evolution of malarial chloroquine resistance, documented at length here at Sandwalk, indicates the length to which he will go to avoid admitting that one of his hypotheses have been falsified. That's not the behaviour of someone who is trying to do science.

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  4. BTW, if one uses a broader definition much of what you would accept as science could as well be religion. E.g., ENCODE:
    One could describe it as a cult based on old disproven myths that its followers find in old writings. It's lead by a few high priest and some elders who perpetuate the tales by preaching to the choir. They try to proselytise non-believers. They hold their own conventions at which they celebrate themselves. They don't welcome criticism and deny any evidence which contradicts their belief system and they have special rites de passage to promote young followers. It's followers are eletist and convinced that their belief has overcome older myths some heretics still keep believing.

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    1. Though I dislike much of ENCODE I must admit that my previous comment would apply to many science subfields especially if there is not much competition because the field is small or competitors are receive less funding than the dominating figures. However, although many aspects and traditions in science and the behaviour od scientists can be described in the same terms as religions in contrast to the later science finally overcomes wrong ideas and hypotheses.

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  5. I favor the more restricted definition of science. Mainly because I think when words are defined too broadly they tend to lose their meaning.
    I've seen at least 2 debates of atheist vs theologian where the theologian decided to take a broad definition of religion. Religion was any set of beliefs one had whatsoever. Presumably they thought this was a useful tactic in showing the flaws of atheism but all they did was redefine their opponent into a religious person. For that matter not only is every person on earth religious with that definition but most animals are also religious.

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    1. Atheists like me are interested in the question of whether gods exist or not. "Religion" is an irrelevant distraction in that debate.

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    2. "Atheists like me are interested in the question of whether gods exist or not. "Religion" is an irrelevant distraction in that debate."

      I agree...But isn't the THEORY OF EVOLUTION an irrelevant distraction in the debate as well...?

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    3. Quest, shouldn't you be asking that question of the IDiots?

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    4. I'm asking people like Larry since it is a common thread used interchangeably by him, Coyne, Graur, PZ Myers and others...

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    5. @Quest

      There is no evidence for the existence of gods. Sometimes believers bring up arguments that evolution refutes but otherwise evolution is irrelevant to the debate over the existence of gods.

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    6. @Larry,

      "There is no evidence for the existence of gods."

      First off; both "God" or "gods" are very, very broad terms... I think the term "God" or "gods" need to be more clearly defined to the actual context of the debate... If the debate is religious, than the nature of God or gods need to be defined...and issue such as the existence of evil can be debated...which sometimes atheists bring up as the evidence for nonexistence of God or gods, which is totally irrelevant in a scientific debate...

      "Sometimes believers bring up arguments that evolution refutes but otherwise evolution is irrelevant to the debate over the existence of gods."

      It it true that sometimes believers do bring up arguments that later on get refuted...That however does not prove that God or gods don't exist...

      In the context of scientific debate whether God or gods exist, what evidence would be required...? I mean it is all subjective as to what the evidence on both sides of the issue would be...

      One blogger here asked for God or gods to perform a miracle and have pizza and pop delivered to his door in that very minute as evidence of existence of God or gods...He however forgot to mention whether he wanted the God or gods to show up at his door with pizza and pop , pizza and pop to show up on their own, or whether regular delivery guy would suffice....

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    7. Quest asks,

      In the context of scientific debate whether God or gods exist, what evidence would be required...?

      How am I supposed to answer that question? I've never seen any evidence so I don't know what real evidence would look like. If you have some, feel free to post it here.

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    8. Larry,

      I wrote: "In the context of scientific debate whether God or gods exist, what evidence would be required...?

      Larry wrote: "How am I supposed to answer that question? I've never seen any evidence so I don't know what real evidence would look like. If you have some, feel free to post it here."

      Well, you must have seen some real evidence regarding the origins of life that persuaded you to believe that God or gods don't exist..???

      Since I've never seen any evidence on the origins of life, I would love to see what the real evidence is on the theme, especially the one that convinced you... feel free to post here...

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    9. Quest says
      First off; both "God" or "gods" are very, very broad terms... I think the term "God" or "gods" need to be more clearly defined to the actual context of the debate...

      Indeed. Whenever a religious person speaks of god, I always wonder exactly what they mean, but I never get a very clear or consistent answer to that question.

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    10. Well, you must have seen some real evidence regarding the origins of life that persuaded you to believe that God or gods don't exist..???

      I wouldn't think of answering such a softball question on behalf of Larry, but am I the first to notice that Quest's language seems more coherent and serious than before? Keep it up Quest, so much more useful than simply spraying verbal vomit everywhere.

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    11. Hey Quest,

      Larry asked you to provide some evidence for the existence of your imaginary buddy - "If you have some, feel free to post it here".

      Still waiting ...

      Don't let me down.

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    12. @Quest

      I don't know how life originated but it must have been a lucky accident of some sort. Do you know how life began, and when? Would you like to share that information?

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    13. Quest says: "First off; both "God" or "gods" are very, very broad terms... I think the term "God" or "gods" need to be more clearly defined to the actual context of the debate...

      This is rich. Whenever a rational person states on UD that the designer must be better defined, or that intelligence must be defined, the response, invariably, is that the thoughts of god are beyond our comprehension.

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    14. Larry wrote:

      "@Quest

      I don't know how life originated but it must have been a lucky accident of some sort. Do you know how life began, and when? Would you like to share that information?"

      Larry,

      Something or someone must have persuaded you to believe that life originated by lucky accident...?

      I'm mean, you are a scientist and atheist who has never seen any evidence for existence of God or gods....so there must have been at least some evidence that swayed you in the direction of a lucky accident that originated life...

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    15. Acartia Tonsa wrote:


      "This is rich. Whenever a rational person states on UD that the designer must be better defined, or that intelligence must be defined, the response, invariably, is that the thoughts of god are beyond our comprehension."

      I'm not much of a bible expert or reader, but it identifies several gods; God the father, a god the son, a god Satan, and even your belly can become your god...

      People have many different gods; In Canada people worship hockey...In the US-football and most of the world worships soccer (also called football).

      A lot of people worship science; both good and bad...sometimes without even realizing that they worship one of them or both...

      To me, if one wants to have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about God or gods, he or she needs to define what they mean by that term...
      Same should apply to the discussion about evolution, junk DNA or a gene...

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    16. steve oberski wrote:

      "Hey Quest,

      Larry asked you to provide some evidence for the existence of your imaginary buddy - "If you have some, feel free to post it here".

      Still waiting ...

      Don't let me down."

      I thought we've already had that discussion...?

      Didn't I ask you what was the cause of the origin of the universe; the source of energy for the big bang as well as the acceleration of the expansion of it...?

      Delete
    17. "To me [Quest], if one wants to have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about God or gods, he or she needs to define what they mean by that term ... "

      Of course, in any forensic study, in particular one stretching over eons [evolution], the source of not just lineage adaptation, a designed in process to aid survival IMO, but of novel genera, family and class formations requires assumptions. Per Darwin, if domestic breeding can produce variation in short time spans, the same process, but directed by environmental factors, can do even more, given the times spans in evidence [chapters 1 and 2 of 'OoS'.]

      Much of his settling upon natural causation was based on this association IMO, but it remains as a tentative premise. So to introduce the possibility of guided progressions, and to various tentative degrees, God or gods have been proposed, the first being linked to monotheistic religions, but the second requiring being more explicitly defined.

      I define the second as either surrogates to higher authorities including angelics, or as simply entities of unknown origins, our spirit based ancestry included.

      Now the logic behind my assumptions. If an omnipotent supreme entity created life, and knew all details of its unfolding, why bother? For down the road companionship, perhaps, but as likely, one of complete boredom.

      A more viable concept is that trans-cosmic entities might work on biologic designs to inhabit, for more varied and colorful undertakings/ adventures. If so, we ourselves may have participated in formulating bioforms, to enable escapades at a ground level planetary experience. This would help to explain our competitive nature, and the vast array of obstacles to overcome. We do enjoy competition, sporting events, and even hand to hand combat on occasions, right? This fits what we encounter day by day. And rather than a one-time sabbatical on theme-park earth, possibly one of many.

      To God, gods or simply entities; take your pick. But explain your preference when proposing evolutionary scenarios.

      Delete
    18. so there must have been at least some evidence that swayed you in the direction of a lucky accident that originated life...

      1. We've seen lucky accidents.

      2. We know lots of organic chemistry has taken place in the universe (e.g., organic constituents in meteorites, intergalactic clouds and dust), so there's nothing particularly special about the chemistry that would be required for such a lucky accident.

      Now, compare a deity or deities:

      1. There's never been a scientific observation of a deity or deities.

      2. We've never seen known instances of creation by a deity or deities, so any such instance would be unique, as far as we know, in the entire history of the universe.

      So, plenty of evidence showing Dr. Moran's "lucky accident" is something that could happen and has happened; no evidence at all for deistic creation. Thus, for Dr. Moran (and anyone else with an evidence-based point of view), the "lucky accident" has got observational evidence behind it, while deistic creation has none.

      Delete
    19. I'm mean, you are a scientist and atheist who has never seen any evidence for existence of God or gods....so there must have been at least some evidence that swayed you in the direction of a lucky accident that originated life...

      Pretty sure you answered your own question in that sentence. You also haven't seen any evidence of gods, unless you count seeing the sun rise this morning as evidence of god.

      Delete
    20. Lee Bowman,

      I'm not exactly sure what your post is about...., but one thing I could comment on is on this particular piece:

      You wrote:

      "Now the logic behind my assumptions. If an omnipotent supreme entity created life, and knew all details of its unfolding, why bother? For down the road companionship, perhaps, but as likely, one of complete boredom."

      Just because you, or many people like you, don't understand why something exists or was created, it doesn't disprove the existence of a creator, God or gods behind their creation....

      If you found a tool or a piece of what appeared to be a painting or sculpture, you wouldn't likely dismiss the existence of creator of a tool or an art piece...just because you wouldn't know or understand the purpose of it or why someone made it would you...?

      Delete
    21. or a piece of what appeared to be a painting or sculpture

      Look at that rainbow - such a perfect arc shape, the beautiful colors so neatly arranged.... Must be intelligently designed. Look at the track of the Mississippi River, so insanely complicated. You'd never get that exact track in a billion years by chance. Must have been plotted out by an intelligent entity. See? Simple!

      Delete
    22. judmarc wrote:

      "1. We've seen lucky accidents."

      I have...but none of them nowhere near those that would make anything resembling life...
      Even the Miller–Urey experiment produced some amino-acids that are the necessary building blocks of life, but it was not accident…

      “2. We know lots of organic chemistry has taken place in the universe (e.g., organic constituents in meteorites, intergalactic clouds and dust), so there's nothing particularly special about the chemistry that would be required for such a lucky accident.”

      How does the above explain an accidental origin of life…? It is an anecdote or a hunch at best…Without any scientific or experimental proof, the origins of life remains just that and has nothing to do with science as there is no evidence whatsoever that life originated on its own…
      It is more a wishful thinking among some groups of “believers” and has nothing to do with real science…You can call it all you want, but it’s no science to logically thinking being…

      “Now, compare a deity or deities:

      1. There's never been a scientific observation of a deity or deities.”

      Has there ever been a scientific observation of the origins of life; the lucky accident that lead to the origins of life…? Intelligent scientist can’t recreate life, so on what observation or scientific evidence do you base your supposition that life originated by accident…? Please provide at least one scientific evidence…

      “2. We've never seen known instances of creation by a deity or deities, so any such instance would be unique, as far as we know, in the entire history of the universe.”

      1. What was the first cause that led to the big bang and the formation of the universe…?

      2. What is the driving force and source of this force behind the expansion and the acceleration of the universe…?

      3. What causes the formation of the new stars and planets and even entire galaxies…?

      “So, plenty of evidence showing Dr. Moran's "lucky accident" is something that could happen and has happened; no evidence at all for deistic creation. Thus, for Dr. Moran (and anyone else with an evidence-based point of view), the "lucky accident" has got observational evidence behind it, while deistic creation has none.”

      Really...? I’m not sure how you know what “lucky accident”, that there is no scientific proof for, has convinced Dr. Moran to believe that life originated without God, gods or intelligence, but I would pay a great deal of money to be able to know what other people think… like you do... ;-)

      Delete
    23. Quest said:

      "Intelligent scientist can’t recreate life..."

      Ah, so it's a race against time and time has run out, eh? Since scientists can't "recreate life" right now they will never be able to do so. They might as well give and stop trying, right? Scientists might as well give up on everything if it hasn't already been accomplished. In fact, everything that has already been accomplished by scientists might as well be thrown out since none of it is real anyway. All we really need is a bunch of religions and a bunch versions of those religions and a witch doctor or two. Yeah, that's the ticket.

      Hey Quest, what was the first cause that led to the cause of the designer-god (and especially to your chosen designer-god) that led to the cause of the universe by the designer-god?

      Delete
    24. Quest "Since I've never seen any evidence on the origins of life, I would love to see what the real evidence is on the theme, especially the one that convinced you... feel free to post here...". Natural explanations for puzzling phenomena have always won. Naturalism wins over supernaturalism by millions to zero. What is observed in living organisms is chemistry. Complex chemistry but nothing spooky. Why would any educated, sane person think that chemical reactions are being guided by supernatural entities? Given this background the onus is surely on you to demonstrate spookiness actually exists. James Randi has a million dollars waiting.

      Delete
    25. judemarc, the whole truth, aljones909,

      Thank you for overwhelming me and many, many other readers of Larry's blog (according to Google analytics) with "scientific evidence" for your beliefs on the origins of life... I'm quite sure that this "evidence" will suffice just in case an ID exists and doesn't appreciate it ....Well...how should I put it nicely without offending anyone... your... lack of real view of logic... I have no reality comment on it...

      BTW: Professor Moran is off the hook this time only... as he admitted he had no clue on the subject on the origins of life...

      Delete
    26. 1. What was the first cause that led to the big bang and the formation of the universe…?

      Scientists are seeking the answer. Before Einstein and quantum mechanics, your question wouldn't have been phrased in terms of the Big Bang, would it? We've learned a lot, and it's been fascinating. We are certainly a long way from knowing everything, and likely always will be. Good, otherwise things would be a terribly boring, wouldn't they?

      2. What is the driving force and source of this force behind the expansion and the acceleration of the universe…?

      Looks like the inflaton. Been some recent very exciting apparent experimental confirmation.

      3. What causes the formation of the new stars and planets and even entire galaxies…?

      That's rather prosaic and well understood. Mostly gravity.

      Delete
    27. Q. What was the first cause that led to the big bang and the formation of the universe…?

      J. Scientists are seeking the answer. Before Einstein and quantum mechanics, your question wouldn't have been phrased in terms of the Big Bang, would it? We've learned a lot, and it's been fascinating. We are certainly a long way from knowing everything, and likely always will be. Good, otherwise things would be a terribly boring, wouldn't they?

      Q. That is encouraging but it doesn't look like materialistic science is going to do it...
      I phrased "big bang" for your sake not mine... to me.. any kind of "big bang" had to have been fully controlled... fine-tuned beyond our comprehension...

      Where did the "laws" that govern quantum mechanics come from...? Did Einstein explain it or will you...?
      To learn everything you don't have enough time in your short lifetime... it must be not necessarily boring but depressing to be aware of that SCIENTIFIC FACT....?
      2. What is the driving force and source of this force behind the expansion and the acceleration of the universe…?

      J. Looks like the inflaton. Been some recent very exciting apparent experimental confirmation.

      Q. Wrong! The source of energy for the acceleration of the universe is needed... and it is unknown...

      Q. 3. What causes the formation of the new stars and planets and even entire galaxies…?

      that's rather prosaic and well understood. Mostly gravity.

      Q. Scientist think gravity is needed because they "believe" it was essential in the formation of planets like the Earth... they know nothing beyond that...

      Delete
    28. Quest said:

      "Intelligent scientist can’t recreate life..."

      The whole truth: "Ah, so it's a race against time and time has run out, eh? Since scientists can't "recreate life" right now they will never be able to do so. They might as well give and stop trying, right? Scientists might as well give up on everything if it hasn't already been accomplished. In fact, everything that has already been accomplished by scientists might as well be thrown out since none of it is real anyway. All we really need is a bunch of religions and a bunch versions of those religions and a witch doctor or two. Yeah, that's the ticket."

      Scientist will never be able to recreate life... they can surely try... it's impossible...

      TwT: Hey Quest, what was the first cause that led to the cause of the designer-god (and especially to your chosen designer-god) that led to the cause of the universe by the designer-god?"

      Q. There wasn't one... there couldn't have been one... anything beyond that leads to infinite regress... which, in turn, would lead to the collapse of most of the science as we know it...

      Delete
  6. It seems to me that the demarcation problem will always be problematic, no matter how one chooses to resolve it. There will always be a smooth continuum from things that everyone agrees is science to things that everyone agrees isn't science, so wherever one chooses to make the cutoff point there will be 2 very similar intellectual enterprises, one of which one has defined as science, the other which is defined as not science.

    I would not define intelligent design as science. Intelligent design is to science what theology is to philosophy. I think the crucial difference is motivation. Ideally, scientists let the evidence lead them to conclusions about the natural world ( numerous exceptions not withstanding) IDers, like creationists, already know where the evidence will lead: its going to lead to god and they're willing to twist and misinterpret and ignore evidence to any degree necessary to make it so

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    1. Here's the problem. You are perfectly entitled to use whatever definition of "science" you like because there is no consensus. However, you are NOT entitled to proclaim that your definition is the only legitimate definition. You didn't do that but others are guilty of that logical error. Some of them have been witnesses at a famous trial. They should know better.

      What responsible scientists and philosophers should say is that "according to my prefered definition of 'science,' intelligent design is not science but there are many scientists and philosophers who disagree with me." If you pretend that your definition is the only the correct one, then you are not being scientific, according to my definition.

      Delete
    2. Another problem is that the label 'not science' seems like a pejorative. It shouldn't be. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate intellectual pursuits that's aren't science - like art history. In a recent intro lecture I mentioned a documentary I recently saw to identify the artist of a medieval manuscript. Many of the techniques and thought processes the historians used where identical to what scientists use. The only difference was the object of those thought processes.
      I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that distinguishes science from many other pursuits is that scientists have to be more careful and precise in interpretation. This is because the objects of scientific study are so remote in time, space, size, complexity and there are several layers of cause and effect between the actual object and the data the scientist receives

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    3. lantog says
      In a recent intro lecture I mentioned a documentary I recently saw to identify the artist of a medieval manuscript. Many of the techniques and thought processes the historians used where identical to what scientists use. The only difference was the object of those thought processes.

      But many of us would not see why you wouldn't consider this a scientific pursuit.

      Delete
  7. Science is at best just a methodology. A verb and not a noun.
    So its so conditional on the ability of people to accurately maintain a careful methodology that in effect there is no such thing as science.
    Its just people figuring things out.
    or rather SCIENCE is a high standard of investigation that can DEMAND confidence in its conclusions.
    the critic of the conclusion must really attack the methodology. evolutionists do this with iD/YEC.
    Creationists should do this with evolution. instead they attack facts and interpretations.
    They don't say, as i do, evolution has no biological science behind it at all. its other stuff.
    Its all about proving things.
    Science says it proves its conclusions unlike everyone else even if they are right.
    ID/YEC and evolutionism both intellectually investigate nature for conclusions on natures origins.
    Since conclusions are presented so aggressively then everyone should fIRST pay attention to methodology.
    its not science because its true but because its very well controlled to avoid errors.
    Therefore, by stats, it generally would be that such method leads to accuracy and can be said to be scientific.
    Evolution ain't that. Unless I'm wrong!

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    Replies
    1. They don't say, as i do, evolution has no biological science behind it at all. its other stuff.

      Robert, maybe you have mentioned it before, but in your view what would constitute evidence of the biological science type, were evolution true? Or would such evidence be impossible to obtain, even if evolution happens?

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    2. It would be hard to get even if true. However it must be on biological processes. Real live biology! Not mere data points of biological moments in time(fossils, morphology, genetics)
      Biology is more complicated then any other subject in the material universe.
      One must do it right before drawing conclusions about past and gone processes.

      Delete
    3. Robert Byers, That's really funny! Once you've ruled out all organisms (no morphology) and all reproduction (no genetics), you don't have much biology left. Physiology is still there, and there are both homologies and interesting analogous pathways among organisms in physiology (evidence for evolution) -- surely you need to rule physiology out, too?

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    4. Barnara. NONE of these things are biological processes that are being observed or testable. Morphology or homologies are after the fact of origin. They are used to make a trail backwards but there is no biological evidence for the trail except presuming there can be a trail found by comparing thjings.
      Comparisonism is not biology.
      Biology mechanisms is a real gooey process and thing. Evolution hasn't and can't investigate this but instead only looks at after the fact data points and fills in the lines between the dots.
      Only the lines are biological research. not the dots.

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    5. Robert, it would be swell to follow many biological processes in absolute real time, but in many instances this cannot be done. There are many processes in the universe that cannot be realized in real time, but this doesn't mean we cannot learn many things about these processes. The whole criminal justice system, as one familiar example, depends upon this fact. The reason you look both ways before crossing the street is predicated upon details that you have not likely experienced in real time, to any significant degree. You don't have to throw your arms in the air and claim nothing can be deduced but from direct real time experience. And why you believe what you do about this universe - well, it is hard to square with your apparent skepticism.

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    6. So, Robert, since it's impossible to test and impossible to show, according to your definition of biology and biological research, that you are a biological being, or that you've left a biological trail of your existence, or that there are any biological lines or even dots in your history, and that your origin, morphology, physiology, genetics, mechanisms, or actions are due to biological processes (especially since no one has been doing gooey biological research on you every nano-second of your alleged existence), then the only reasonable conclusion that can be reached is that you either don't exist or you are a mechanical and/or electronic device. Are you a robot?

      Delete
    7. TWT
      Upo make my case. One can do biological investigation on me. I am a biological functioning entity. I'm full of processes acting right now,.Plenty of gooey stuff. All of me , save the soul, is due to present biological actions.
      Its completely open to scientific biological investigation.
      Yet to figure out the origins and mechanisms behind my origins before i was conceived is not open to easily to bio investigation.
      Nothing there to get ones fingers sticky.
      Even DNA would only connect me with parents and a wee bit farther back.
      Fossils and morphology and dna doesn't help once presumptions take over about my ancestry without actual bio sci evidence.

      Evolutionism has made its case on secondary evidences unrelated to biological processes or biology in the hand.
      yes its difficult to figure out biological trails. Biology is not like physics.
      Biology is very complex in its past and present mechanisms and thats why we can barely heal anything.
      However don't say evolution is proved on bio scie evidence.
      Creationists take this on and do very well with limited access to audiences.

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    8. SRM
      Yes. Biological processes leading to the origins of biological results CAN'T be observed. Its all done and here.
      It is a problem for investigating origins. However science demands accurate investigation or don't call it science!
      We can figure things out but sci bio must not be said to be the author of conclusions.
      Its just untestable hypothesis.
      This is why evolutionary biology will be seen soon as a great strange error in "science". in fact they will say there were abnti Christian/anti God motivations. Probably but still its all about scietific methodology not being applied to the subject.
      I always have to explain why slabs of rock are not evidence for biological evolution. Likewise genes and morphology and biogeography and minor natural selection in a species.
      Biology is about working mechanisms with results. Biology is not results compared with other bio results. Thats just comparingism. Thats just guessing.

      Delete
    9. Byers, you cannot prove you are a biological being by your own criteria. Where's your proof? You breathe? Carbon dioxide is not biological by your criteria, so it cannot be used to investigate life, according to you. You poop? Scat is not biological, according to you. You bleed? You said blood is not biological. We can see your skin? You said skin is not biological.

      You just asserted that you are biological, you don't present evidence for it. Don't tell us you're biological, PROVE it.

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    10. Yeah, Robert, let's see biological evidence of your gooey processes and stuff, from when you were one year old, ten years old, thirty years old, and right now. Was scientific biological research done on all of your biological processes and stuff when you were one, ten, thirty, and today and can you provide biological evidence of that research? If not, then according to your claims you can't show any biological evidence that verifies your biological existence when you were one, ten, thirty, or right now. According to your claims, unless you can provide your actual gooey processes and stuff from when your were allegedly one, ten, and thirty years old you can't show scientifically/biologically that you ever were one, ten and thirty years old, and that also means that you can't scientifically/biologically claim that you're any particular age right now. In fact, without biological evidence (gooey stuff) you can't prove that you were ever born. Anything less than gooey stuff from your birth that can be biologically researched and verified right now is just a line of reasoning based on hearsay. Admit it Robert, you're a robot, right?

      And you've apparently never heard of biophysics.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysics

      By the way, are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, iron, calcium, and sodium biological in any way? Are any atoms biological?

      You seem to accept that DNA is biological (Do you?), but you obviously believe that DNA can only reveal a single generation of ancestry "and a wee bit farther back". By what scientific method and research did you come to that conclusion and exactly how much is a "wee bit"?

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    11. Oh, and Robert, let's see your scientific, biological evidence of yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost, angels, demons, satan, adam, eve, noah, all of the animals on the ark, moses, cain, abel, job, jonah, david and goliath, a talking serpent, a magic tree, and every other character in the bible. You do have that biological evidence, don't you?

      Delete
    12. Diogenes
      All you listed are biological in essence and function and observed.
      I am a perfect case of a biological entity and researching me is pure biological scientific investigation.
      Pictures of me from the past are not bio sci. Also pictures claiming to be my past because some details look like details in the present pictures.
      true or not the pics ain't bio sci.
      why do you think they are??

      Delete
    13. TWT
      My past is biological scientifically demonstrated by the present living biological entity of me here.
      My evolutionary past is not likewise demonstrated.
      My biology is hard science. origins of my biology is soft speculation using limited data for conclusions. none of it based on hard biology evidence. It can't anyways whatever is true.
      My present body is the evidence for a birth using biology means.
      evolutionism needs to prove its a scientific theory or tested hypothesis .
      Where is the bio sci evidence?? Fixed data points in time is not evidence for fluid biological mechanisms and results.
      Fossils, morphology, genes are all fixed data points.
      They prove nothing but guesses on guesses.

      Delete
    14. Byers said:

      "My past is biological scientifically demonstrated by the present living biological entity of me here."

      According to your other claims, that cannot be true, and you can't even prove, biologically, that you were alive yesterday, or the day before, etc. You're just some convoluted, misspelled type on a computer screen, and I don't see any of your alleged gooey processes and stuff. You could be a robot, or a computer program for all I know.

      "My present body is the evidence for a birth using biology means."

      What body? I don't see your alleged body. And even if you have a body that doesn't, according to your other claims, prove that your body is "evidence for a birth using biology means". Your alleged body may have been produced from recycled beer cans by mad scientists in a lab on the planet Ignoramus, or your alleged body may have been magically poofed into existence by a fire breathing cloud-ghost named Zerp.

      Unless a team of highly qualified, biological researchers dissects your alleged biological body while I watch, how can I possibly know if you're a biological entity? And even if it turns out that you're biological at the time of your dissection it still wouldn't prove that you were biological before that or that your birth was by biological means.

      Your alleged biological birth, your alleged biological past, your alleged biological body, your alleged biological parents, and your alleged, current, biological existence could all be false lines of reasoning. To biologically verify any of those things you'd have to rely on past and current, scientific, biological knowledge, data, testing, conclusions, theories, inferences, comparisons, and consensus. And since you claim that skin, blood, internal organs, hair, morphology, genetics, physiology, bones, minerals, scat, and teeth (Did I leave anything out?) are not biological, then all of those things (and their related processes including the processes of their origin) would of course be left out of any scientific, biological assessment of whether you are or ever were a biological entity.

      Come on Robert, just admit that you're a robot or a computer program.

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    15. R B: "Where is the bio sci evidence?? Fixed data points in time is not evidence for fluid biological mechanisms and results. "
      So all of modern medicine is a waste of time? "Don't take my temperature. It's a fixed data point and can provide no information regarding fluid biological mechanisms".

      You're parroting the imbecilic Ken Ham mantra: "You weren't THERE"

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    16. aljones909
      You make my point. Body temp is a fluid biological thing. AMEN.
      Its not fixed by reason its being taken anew.
      However taking a picture of a temp taken by something , alleged, to be related to you is not a fluid biological thing.
      Its predictable but funny how evolution fans do need to turn fixed data points into a legitimate object for bio sci research into bio origins.
      Don't you see my point ??

      Delete
  8. "... Can't reach agree..." Proof read?

    This article by Roger Scruton perfectly sums up these "philosophers" whom, despite being men of thought, actually have very little thought behind their ideas.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/15/roger-scruton-notes-on-nonsense-richard-dawkins-original-sin-islamism-and-more

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  9. Once I have finished a few things here for Science Week, I will reply to this post, Larry. I'll let you know when it's up.

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  10. The only limit to what is science is reality. So long as you are examining or postulatingreal phenomena, (detectable, observable, measurable), you are doing science. Once you move into the realm of the imaginary (undetectable intelligent designers, for example) you are doing philosophy.

    SETI astronomers and psychic researchers are looking for real phenomena (even though they are likely to remain disappointed) so they are, nonetheless, scientists.

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  11. I prefer a broad definition of science that emphasizes methodology. Observe reality, develop ideas about what it is like and how it works. Think about how to confirm or refute those ideas, and make the necessary observations / experiments. Change ideas as needed, and repeat.

    In this sense, science is done not only by the people we call scientists but also by good car mechanics, who test alternative explanations for the problem before swapping out the expensive part that may have failed. Science is done by historians including art historians. It's done by plumbers and physicists and, yes, engineers. The difference is one of scale. Science could be done by an astrologer who gives personality tests to people to find out if star patterns at birth really do indicate differences. (Needless to say, astrologers generally do not do science.)

    Intelligent Design proponents could do science, and occasionally do, but just debating well isn't science. Quote-mining involves such bad observations of the article being quoted that it doesn't qualify as science at all, in my opinion. And they usually skip that important step about testing to see if your idea is wrong. If making poor calculations or overgeneralizing (e.g. recent calculations on mutations in malaria) were considered "not science," very few of us would be able to call ourselves scientists, but persisting in mistakes after reasonable correction gradually takes ID proponents out of science done badly and into the realm of philosophy done badly, I think.

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    1. I don't think science is done by plumbers or art historians.
      Science means nothing unless it means a higher standard of investigation above ordinary standards of investigation.
      Science is applied to subjects that need such a higher standard of investigation.
      accuracry does not equal science in a subject man puts his mind too.
      Science must be a different species of investigation that jusify's a greater confidence in its conclusions.
      Many a plumber could of done a better investigation and job and any plumber that did a good job didn't need to do science. It wasn't demanding enough for such a careful investigation.
      Science to mean something can't mean anything that merely uses human thought.
      The whole point of many YEC is that evolutionary biology was wrongly allowed to pass as a scientific theory when it did no scientific biological investigation behind its great claims. Just other secondary stuff.

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  12. but persisting in mistakes after reasonable correction gradually takes ID proponents out of science done badly and into the realm of philosophy done badly

    This is the core of what I'm after. It isn't a "bright line" sort of thing, because I'm sure we can find examples of debates that have raged in the academic literature long after one side or the other has been provided "reasonable correction." But it seems to me that persistent refusal to acknowledge contrary evidence (or even more so, a fixed position that you will never acknowledge there is such a thing as contrary evidence, a prime example being Behe under cross examination in the Dover trial) is not scientific.

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  13. Here, briefly, is my solution to the demarcation problem. First I'll define science, then I'll define bad science, then I'll define pseudoscience.

    My definition of science is more narrow than Larry's; it does not include philosophy or mathematics.

    Science- A competitive method ("the scientific method") for testing and choosing novel, general/universal principles which are testable ("theories") by requiring that they logically entail specific and accurate predictions about observable quantities that are independent of any observable inputs to the theory, with successful theories being judged as successful on the basis of the number, specificity, and accuracy of their output predictions, and by the theory's simplicity in comparison to the data it predicts;

    AND the set of theories thus obtained by the scientific method, or that are or were in the process of testing;

    AND a set of logical deductions obtained by applying the most successful theories to general or universal phenomena
    ("All organisms have DNA, I found a new species of beetle, every member of the new species must have DNA.")

    So, by my definition of science, physicians and plumbers are not scientists, because they do employ the scientific method, but they apply it to specific phenomena ("Why is Mr. Jones coughing?" for the doctor, or "Where is the leak coming from?" for the plumber.)

    Conversely, an engineer is not a scientist, because she applies deductions from theories, but only for specific, not general phenomena ("How can I arrange these circuits to maximize energy efficiency?") If an engineer accidentally or deliberately comes across a universal principle ("Arranging circuits acc. to X=Y^Z will maximize efficiency") then she's a scientist.

    Next, bad science is real science that either 1. advanced theories that honestly predicted observable phenomena which contradict actual observations (phlogiston), or 2. invalid deductions based on fallacies or on general principles later found to be invalid ("everything biological is functional, therefore there is no Junk DNA.")

    Next let's define pseudoscience.

    Pseudoscience is an activity wherein a set of authorities advance a hypotheses and claim to be testing and confirming it by the scientific method, but either:

    1. the predictions that they allege to be emitted by their hypothesis do not logically follow from the hypothesis ("If humans are intelligently designed, there's no Junk DNA!"), OR

    2. the predictions allegedly emitted by their hypothesis are phrased with maximum vagueness to create a false impression of specificity ("Common design implies common designer"), or are phrased using terminology that is equivocated between different meanings ("irreducibly complexity can be falsified if the system is functional when a part is removed-- oh wait no it's not, and I never really meant the blood clotting system was irreducibly complex anyway"); OR

    3. the the predictions allegedly emitted by their hypothesis are compared against fake data ("Creationism predicts there will be no transitional fossils. And there are none!")

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  14. I think science is not just a way of doing things. In that sense, science means doing things methodically, which is why we get the sweet science and military science. There isn't any clear demarcation between science and everyday kinds of thinking. Every attempt to demarcate the method that separates something called science from thinking fails.

    Science is also the body of knowledge about our world we have acquired over the centuries. This includes facts about history and society. It's true that sometimes we still have knowledge that was methodically tested and still turns out to be wrong upon further experience. But if your idea of knowledge includes incorrigible, you're out of luck I think.

    The demarcation between science and pseudoscience I think is pretty easy: Pseudoscience contradicts the larger body of knowledge we have acquired. Pseudoscience can do experiments and still be wrong. ESP violates too much physics, for instance. In particular, the science we have shows there is no supernatural and most pseudoscience I know of incorporates the supernatural

    Or to put it another way, a scientific theory is a materialist theory.

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  15. I am not much of a fan of trying to defend ideas wholesale, which is what I feel much of the interest in the demarcation problem is about. I have seen a lot of effort spent trying to precisely delineate what constitutes “science” with the goal of being able to separate the scientific wheat from the pseudoscience chaff. I think it is generally much more productive to address specific claims (do the position of planets influence personality?, could they?, are Rorschach test interpretations repeatable between clinicians?) than to try to make a sweeping assessment of whole fields of endeavor (astrology or clinical psychology are pseudoscience). Eventually, of course, a whole field may be discarded as useless, but ultimately because it has proven useless, not because it fails a philosophical test.

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