Monday, August 11, 2014

Who should speak on a university campus?

Micheal Behe came to Toronto a few years ago and gave three talks on the campus of the University of Toronto. One of them was in the big lecture hall in my building (Medical Science Building). I went to all three lectures and enjoyed them immensely even though I disagreed with what he was saying [Michael Behe in Toronto: "What Are the Limits of Darwinism?"] [Michael Behe in Toronto: "Evidence of Design from Biology" ]. It was fun meeting him again and talking to him about his views. You can learn a lot about what people think by attending a lecture and seeing how they respond to questions and debate.

That's what a university is all about. I also greatly enjoyed a lecture by William Dembski a few years ago. I got to meet him and I got to ask a question at his lecture. It was a very valuable experience. Over the years I've heard several creationists speak on my campus, even Hugh Ross. Attending those lectures has put me in touch with many creationist sympathizers in my area and I've formed a number of friendships. Some of them read my blog.

Dembski is giving a talk at the University of Chicago and Jerry Coyne is upset. He doesn't think that people like Dembski should be given an opportunity to speak on a university campus [Creationist Dembski gives academic talk at MY university!].

Coyne has published a letter he wrote to Dembski's former Ph.D. supervisor—the person who invited Dembski to give the talk [Why Dembski is speaking at the University of Chicago]. Here's part of what Jerry Coyne wrote ...
As for hearing "intelligent opinion on various sides of issues," that might apply if the views presented really were rational, if the person’s theories had not already been debunked, and if the speaker were not motivated by belief in Christianity (Dembski has admitted this).

Your rationale, I’d add, would also justify inviting advocates of homeopathy, astrology, and dowsing, which have exactly as much credibility (i.e., none) as Dembski’s claims. Would you invite a Holocaust denier to speak to a history department? For this is exactly what you are doing by inviting Dembski. Further, you’re giving unwarranted academic credibility to debunked, religiously-motivated science. I should know, because I teach evolutionary biology here at Chicago, am familiar with Dembki’s claims, and have spent much of my career fighting his form of religiously-based creationism, gussied up though it may be with mathematics. His views, and that of his colleagues, are damaging to science education, and have no merit.

I have no intention of going to Dembski’s talk, but I do find this part of your email odd: “You and everyone are invited to come to his seminar and offer questions and opinions in the measured tones appropriate for academic discussion.” I can interpret that only as a warning to me and other critics to behave ourselves and not make a fuss. It’s condescending.

It does not speak well of you or your seminar to invite a purveyor of creationism to speak to an academic audience at Chicago, and then characterize that creationism as an "intelligent opinion." It is exactly as intelligent as homeopathy or the view that the Holocaust is a ruse. Your invitation to Dembski is an embarrassment to this University.
I don't agree with Jerry on this issue. In fact, I think it might be informative for history students to hear the views of a holocaust denier and I'd love to have the opportunity to challenge the views of someone who supports homeopathy. I'd even tolerate a scientist who dismisses junk DNA.

Clearly there are different views on this topic. I'm pretty sure Jerry Coyne's view is motivated by a desire to keep religion out of universities. I suspect that he would have tried to ban Dembski if the University of Chicago were a public university.

What do you think? Does Vincent Torley have a point when he complains about comparing Dembski to a Holocaust denier and then writes [Coyne compares Dembski to a Holocaust denier] ...
I might add that as Professor Coyne has no mathematical qualifications whatsoever, he is hardly qualified to express a professional opinion about the ‘No Free Lunch’ theorem, let alone declare it "debunked."
I wonder what Jeffrey Shallit thinks of this? Would he come to a Dembski talk and point out the fatal flaws in Dembski's speculations? I'd pay to watch that.


96 comments :

  1. There are arguments pro and con. You have stated the pro argument: open discourse. The con argument is that Dembski gains prestige from appearing at the University of Chicago, which helps him in the political battle. (There is of course no scientific battle here.)

    If you invited a homeopathy fan to speak, would it be as part of a regular scientific talk series? If so, would that send a problematic message to the public?

    And no, Torley has no point. Jerry brought up holocaust denial merely as one of a list of irrational beliefs. And isn't it amazing how creationists with no formal qualifications continue to harp on the formal qualifications of their opponents?

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    1. On the other hand, if you send Dembski away he will spin that as a case of desperation-motivated Darwinist-conspiracy-censorship. Either way, the IDiots will find some kind of narrative that supports their preconceptions.

      Given this, I have to agree with Larry Moran. Better to appear willing to engage in open discourse, and then just wipe the floor with their silly asses, than inadvertently to fit into their whole "christians are being persecuted for their beliefs" theology.

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    2. Define "send Dembski away". Is it sending him away if you don't invite him in the first place? Note that nobody, including Jerry Coyne, is suggesting that his invitation be canceled.

      Further, nobody appears to want to wipe the floor with Dembski; I know of no plans to do so. If that's the goal, shouldn't the organizer also organize that?

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    3. I see what you're saying, I agree in the case that when it comes to deciding who to invite, there's simply no good reason to invite any of the IDiots. I'm also perplexed why anyone would think endlessly debunked bullshit needs another public venting at a university.

      I also agree that, if for whatever misguided reason some one decides to invite an IDiot to give a public lecture, those people also have a responsibility to make sure theres an opportunity for debate and that there's qualified people there ready to expose the IDiocy for what it is.

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  2. I might add that as Professor Coyne has no mathematical qualifications whatsoever, he is hardly qualified to express a professional opinion about the ‘No Free Lunch’ theorem, let alone declare it "debunked."

    Sorley is seriously in error. Prof. Coyne is a recognized expert on the application of statistical inference to evolutionary biology re genetics. He found an error made in a statistical calculation made by a professor of statistics, Bruce Weir, which greatly embarrassed the latter during his testimony during the O.J. Simpson trial 20 years ago. I daresay that Prof. Coyne is at least as competent in statistical inference as Dumbski is and probably a lot more competent.

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    1. Torley has a Bachelor's in pure mathematics. A Bachelor's, BFD. One amongst his three bachelor's.

      Getting three bachelor's is like getting circumcised three times. The first one didn't take?

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  3. I wonder what Jeffrey Shallit thinks of this? Would he come to a Dembski talk and point out the fatal flaws in Dembski's speculations?

    He would have an opportunity to do just that if Dumbski hadn't chickened out of testifying in the Dover trial. Shallit was on tap by the plaintiffs to refute Dumbski. Considering what happened to Behe at the trial, discretion was probably the better part of valor on Dumbski's part.

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  4. Generally speaking, I think that once a speaker has been invited by a university -- no matter how nonsensical or odious the views -- it is unwise to try to get them uninvited, even if the speaker is using the opportunity to gain credibility by the invitation.

    If the views are morally reprehensible, as was the case with the invitation of Charles Rice to my university two years ago, the proper response is not to try to get the invitation rescinded, but rather to (a) organize a rebuttal or response or (b) hold a silent protest or (c) get people to attend to ask hard questions. This is what we did with Rice.

    So I am not in agreement with Jerry Coyne's strategy for Dembski, and I think it will likely backfire.

    On the other hand, I don't think the comparison of creationists to holocaust deniers is that farfetched. Both use a lot of similar tactics. It is certainly far less invidious than what some creationists do, which is imply that the theory of evolution led to the Holocaust and that somehow evolutionary biologists share responsibility for that.

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    1. Generally speaking, I think that once a speaker has been invited by a university -- no matter how nonsensical or odious the views -- it is unwise to try to get them uninvited, even if the speaker is using the opportunity to gain credibility by the invitation.

      Read Jerry's posts. He isn't trying to get Dembski uninvited. So you apparently *are* in agreement.

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    2. As John Harshman says, Jerry's position is that Dembski should not be disinvited, but should never have been invited in the first place. Dembski has a long track record as an intellectually dishonest person. His errors have been pointed out to him time and time again - for over 20 years - and he has not incorporated this into his work. He has not been productive in his field. He has attempted to push work in his field into a field to which he is ideologically opposed. He has admitted that his work serves to prop up religion, and that no evidence will cause him to change his mind. Is this a person who is deserving of a speaking gig at a university?

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    3. Are you a person who gets to decide who is deserving of a speaking gig at a university?

      I agree with Larry: universities are places for free dialogue. Feel free to give deniers a place to air their views; if there is nothing to them, they should be deflated quite quickly by intelligent query.

      As a biochemist I quite enjoy going to lectures in the history and philosophy if biomedicine. There's nothing to it, more than the amusement of watching an intellectual train wreck in real time.

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    4. Dembski should have been deflated 20 years ago. But that is not how the ideologically-driven mind works. Ideology means never having to change your mind, even when the evidence demands it. Is this a person who has earned a spot on a speakers' list anywhere other than a church basement? Should ANY standards, academic or otherwise, be applied to speakers, forgottengenius, or should the bar simply be laid on the ground?

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    5. It's really amusing when creationists blame the Holocaust on Darwin. They seem to overlook the fact that Frankenberger specifically denied common descent in his tome, Mein Kampf.

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  5. Dembski is not an academic, serious scientist or a scientist of any kind for that matter. Dembski pedals a weird, disjointed kind of theology which got him kicked out of his job at the Baptist Seminary. Dembski's claim to fame and his current job is providing social propaganda to the Discovery Institute where he works.

    Dembski's "opinion" isn't worth a bucket of warm spit and nor are mine I hasten to add. So, from that standpoing, U of C should have invited me to give a seminar. At least I'd be able to crack some jokes.

    As for Dembski's damage to science education with his affiliation with the Discovery Institute, let's total up the money and time wasted battling creationists in Kansas, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, New Mexico, California, Florida and other states. Yes, shame on us for electing IDiot representatives. Shame on the U of C for assisting the Discovery Institute.

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    1. It's worse than that - last I heard, EVERY Republican member of the House Science Committee is a YEC. Every one.

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    2. Matt G: That's very interesting (and scary too, of course). Can you document?

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    3. I'd be surprised if any particular cluck of politicians even knew what YEC means.

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    4. John, start here:

      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/10/06/the-us-congress-anti-science-committee/#.U-oXPlaMCok

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    5. Matt G,

      So the answer is that you can't document the claim that every Republican on the committee is a YEC. The article you cite mentions 5 of them, of whom one is described as a creationist. There are 22 Republicans on the committee, so you have 21 to go. This is the sort of documentation I would expect from a creationist, not from you.

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    6. "This is the sort of documentation I would expect from a creationist, not from you"

      Why exactly is that? With a certain number of the contributors to Larry's blog, you could change out a few of the words, and have a hard time distinguishing them from the folks at Westboro Baptist.

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    7. John, perhaps we should give him credit for 2, since Rep. "evolution...is lies straight from the pit of hell" Broun may bring enough stupid to count double.

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    8. On the bright (?) side, several more are documented to be global warming deniers and/or believers in the magic self-protecting uterus. There's certainly a concentration of anti-science bozos among the Republican committee members (shock amazement gasp). But Matt's claim was gross hyperbole based on the evidence so far.

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    9. UB: "With a certain number of the contributors to Larrry's blog, you could change out a few of the words, and have a hard time distinguishing them from the folks at Westboro Baptist."

      When IDiots really want to insult us, they call us religious. Strangely, we never call them atheist.

      OK UB, prove what you said by transforming Westboro's words into something we commonly say. Let's recall what Westboro Baptist says:

      1. "God hates fags"

      2. "Thank God for dead soldiers"

      Now UB, you can swap out 50% of the words in the above, and try to turn it into something that we Sandinistas might write.

      Then we'll do the same with the writings of you UDites, starting with Joe Gallien, Mung, Axel, O'Leary, Arrington, etc.

      As for #1 above, Arrington says that if Intelligent Design is true, same sex relations should be illegal. So we've got a head start.

      Go.

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    10. Diogenes when you can articulate why the genetic translation apparatus is required to preserve the physicochemical discontinuity between the arrangment of nucleotides in a codon and the presentation of specific amino acid for binding - then I will have something to respond to.

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    11. Finding info was surprisingly difficult. Google shows any page with the keywords, even if they are not connected. Very frustrating. Came up with a few:

      Paul Broun – Lies from the pit of hell

      Dana Rohrabacher – Complains creationism can’t be mentioned in schools.

      Randy Weber – "we can’t know about the past"

      Randy Hultgren – ID supporter

      Bill Posey – pushed creationism bill in Florida

      Sandy Adams [former] - pushed creationism bill in Florida

      Frank Lucas – made statements against evolution (which were scrubbed by an underling from Wikipedia)

      Answers in Genesis - which I hate to cite - has a list of many other politicians who are creationists of one stripe or another.

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    12. Switching to another committee, let's meet the guy awarded the Chairmanship of the subcommittee on the environment within the powerful Energy & Commerce committe.

      But lest you believe [Sen. Rick] Santorum’s thinking is hitherto unseen in the GOP. Rep. John Shimkus, in a 2009 congressional hearing, cited the Book of Genesis as evidence that climate change is a hoax, pointing out that God promised Noah that he won’t destroy the Earth because of man’s wickedness. Shimkus was subsequently rewarded with the Chairmanship of the powerful Energy & Commerce subcommittee on the environment. -- [Santorum Takes Climate Change Denial To A Biblical Level. Sahil Kapur Talking Points Memo. February 21, 2012. ]

      Now that's the kind of brain we need in charge of America's environment!

      The GOP must be destroyed.

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    13. Upright Biped, like a typical creationist, makes a false statement, is challenged, and then seeks to GishGallop to another false claim. If I refute that, he'll GishGallop to another, then another...

      Here was his original false claim: With a certain number of the contributors to Larry's blog, you could change out a few of the words, and have a hard time distinguishing them from the folks at Westboro Baptist.

      He can't be bothered to back it up with facts. Thus we should expect that he will not be able to back this up with facts either:

      "when you can articulate why the genetic translation apparatus is required to preserve the physicochemical discontinuity between the arrangment of nucleotides in a codon and the presentation of specific amino acid for binding"

      Apart from the bizarre philosophical jargon such as "preserve the physicochemical discontinuity", which is nearly incomprehensible, he appears to be asking, "Why are there ribosomes, Daddy?"

      We know what the creationist answer is: "First, make observation. Second, whatever you observed, say God wanted it that way."

      I have a six year old, and I know from experience that "Why Daddy?" questions may refer to ontology, typology, causality, or teleology. So first I have to classify the "Why Daddy?" question as to its type.

      If UB's question is teleological, then UB is referring to the so-called "Semiotic Argument for Intelligent Design": the genetic code is not "deterministic", "intelligent agents" (meaning invisible spooks) have "free will" and thus are not deterministic, therefore the genetic code must have been created by an invisible spook. I thoroughly debunked this "Semiotic Argument" for intelligent design here. Physicists have a whole theory of non-deterministic processes making asymmetric systems; it's called symmetry breaking. I pointed this out to UB over and over and over and he never responded.

      Biologists don't always call it "symmetry breaking." Some biologists call it "frozen accidents." Information theorist Henry Quastler in 1963 called the notion of the genetic code being created by accidental (not intelligent) processes as "accidental choice remembered."

      Moreover, many times I pointed out to UB that the genetic code is not totally non-deterministic as he assumes; it is partially determined by anticodon-amino acid binding preferences: see D.B.F. Johnson, Lei Wang. Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 12. Again, I pointed it out many times, no response from UB.

      If UB's "Why?" question is causal, we already know the creationist answer, "First, make observation. Second, whatever you observed, say God wanted it that way," which is supported by no evidence and always yields a hypothesis more complex than the data it alleges to "explain."

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    14. Diogenes,

      You seem to have a great deal of fluff in your answer. Try to focus. Here it is again:

      There is a dimensional arrangment of nucleotides in the codon. Upon translation, that arrangment will result in the presentation of a particular amino acid for binding. There is a physicochemical discontinuity between the arrangement of the nucleotides and the amino acid. That discontinuity is a physical necessity of the system.

      Do you know why it is there, and do you know why the system must preserve it?

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    15. Can anyone explain what Upright BiPed is talking about, or perhaps what he thinks he is talking about? Is he trying to refer to aminoacyl transferases?

      And Matt G: Thanks. You're getting warmer, as you're now up to 5 (the former member doesn't count. But that's still out of 22. I'd retract that claim until I had hard evidence. (Your assertion, unfortunately, isn't implausible; but mere plausibility isn't good enough.)

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    16. Hello John Harshman,

      By all means, give Diogenes a helping hand. If you'd like, we can move past the mechanical aspects of the system. I'm sure we can all agree that the codon contains a dimensional arrangement of nucleotides (i.e. "dimensional" meaning it has a specific dimensional orientation) and that this arrangement is mechanically transcribed to mRNA via base pairing, and further, that the mRNA is then matured and transported to the ribosome for translation, where it will be used to order charged tRNA in a specified sequence. We can also agree that the tRNA are charged in spatial and temporal isolation by the aaRS (prior to the tRNA entering the ribosome) thereby preserving the necessary discontinuity between the arrangement of the nucleotides and the amino acids they specify during translation.

      My question for Diogenes is: does he know *why* the discontinuity is required in the translation apparatus, and does he know *why* the system must preserve that discontinuity in order to function?

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    17. Well, I sure don't know. By "discontinuity" do you just mean the potential arbitrary relationship between codon and amino acid? I still don't know what you're talking about.

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    18. Yes, exactly. The relationship itself is the inevitable result of the discontinuity between the arrangement of the codon and the amino acid being preserved (while one is simultaneously mapped to the other by the organization of the system).

      I'm asking Diogenes to think it through; *why* is a discontinuity required in the translation apparatus, and *why* must the system preserve that discontinuity in order to function?

      If he can answer that question he may come to understand the debate for the first time.

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    19. UB: "If he can answer that question he may come to understand the debate for the first time."

      Stop right there. If I didn't understand the debate then why did I already kick your ass on the semiotic argument?

      You showed up here and your first comment was a content-free ad hominem, comparing us to Westboro Baptist, trolling us by comparing us to religious right-wing homophobes, when in fact it's Uncommon Descent that's run by real religious right-wing homophobes.

      I ask UB to back up that accusation. He does not. Instead he GishGallops to blathering about "physicochemical discontinuity."

      NOW you pretend like this is crucial, critical, important to Intelligent Design? It wasn't crucial critical important to ID when Johnson wrote Darwin on Trial, because it's not in there. It wasn't crucial critical important when Dembski wrote No Free Lunch, because it's not in there. It wasn't crucial critical important when Behe wrote Darwin's Black Box. I've read those books.

      Oh but NOW Biped says it's crucial critical important, because he wants to say "I know a secwet and you don't, nyah nyah! That makes me smarter than you."

      I know where UB is going, anyway. It's more of his "The genetic code is not fixed by physical laws, therefore it must be fixed by an invisible spook, cause spooks are non-deterministic" shit.

      1. Where is your evidence that spooks are non-deterministic? 2. Symmetry breaking is a natural process that is non-determimistic and we know it exists. Spooks don't 3. Genetic code is partially fixed by physical laws.

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    20. Diogenes,

      Again, try to focus. Use your head, not your mouth. Why does the the translation of an informational medium require a discontinuity between the arrangement of that medium and it post-translation effect, and why must the system preserve that discontinuity. The answer is right in front of you.

      Think.

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    21. uptight biped, is the answer 'because yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost designed it that way'?

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    22. I'm getting impatient. Please tell us why Upright BiPed and how this relates to the larger point it is likely you are trying to make.

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    23. UBP, can you prove that the "discontinuity" (i.e., the arbitrary character of the relationship) is necessary (rather than just possible)? Suppose that the encoding was once non-arbitrary, but the chemical affinity -- the "scaffolding" on which the link was originally built -- was lost, while the link itself has remained. This is the "symmetry breaking" scenario. How can you rule it out?

      There are analogous processes in the history of languages. The link between the form of words and their meaning is in principle arbitrary. For exampole, there is nothing in the modern pronunciation of the word pigeon that suggests a bird, let alone a particular taxon. Pigeon is just an arbitrary sequence of sounds that "happens" to refer to a kind of bird. But if you study the history of the word (which is a Medieval borrowing from Old French), you'll find its Latin ancestor, pipio 'chick, nestling', which was sound-imitative, and therefore non-arbitrary: there was a "natural" link between the form and the meaning. Sound change and semantic shifts have disposed of the naturalness, but the link persists, just because the form-meaning association is copied from generation to generation of speakers with slight modifications whose cumulative effect increases with time.

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    24. Biped peddles his theory from blog to blog, Ancient Mariner style. He seems to regard the existence of protein aminoacyltranferases in the protein translation system as a fatal difficulty for an evolutionary scenario. If one points out the possibility of ribozymal precursors, of noncoding tRNAs consisting of little more than ACC stems, of noncatalytic roles for the loosely specified peptides such systems would be restricted to, or other such logical possibilities, one is challenged to provide physical evidence that this can be so (which appears to mean an actual organism that works without protein translation), otherwise he wins.

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    25. ...otherwise he wins

      That has been ID's strategy for decades. Then they wonder* why they are ignored.


      *Not really.

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    26. Alan: "He [UB] seems to regard the existence of protein aminoacyltranferases in the protein translation system as a fatal difficulty for an evolutionary scenario."

      I don't mind that. He's creationist, so God of the Gaps is inevitable. But it really bugs me when he uses ID cultic vocabulary like "physicochemical discontinuity." If he means that DNA is in one place and protein is synthesized somewhere else, why doesn't he just say that? Because then he would sound like a normal person instead of being the great intellectual he wishes us to see him as.

      So it's pompous jargon all the way.

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    27. Piotr: great point about the word "pigeon." I word add words like "Mama" and "Papa" / "Baba" which are so universal, they might be hard-wired in the brain. So we don't know that human languages are totally non-determined by natural laws and the environment.

      Why do some words sound like certain things? Why does "mawamba" sound big and "kiniki" sound small?

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    28. Upright BiPed: When people work very, very hard not to say what they mean I suspect that there's something wrong with what they mean.

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    29. Hello Piotr,

      “UBP, can you prove that the "discontinuity" (i.e., the arbitrary character of the relationship) is necessary (rather than just possible)?”

      It can be shown that the discontinuity is a physical necessity for the system to function as it does.

      Suppose that the encoding was once non-arbitrary, but the chemical affinity -- the "scaffolding" on which the link was originally built -- was lost, while the link itself has remained.

      This question goes to the origin of the system, not the way in which it operates. My comment is about the material requirements related to the way in which the system operates.

      How can you rule it out?

      Sheer chance cannot be ruled out in the origin of such a system. It also doesn’t make much of an explanation.

      Look at it this way. The translation of an informational medium into a function effect has specific physical conditions which are singularly unique in the physical world. If those conditions are not met, then information – and the translation of information – are non-existent. This is an intractable reality. So what is required to originate a perpetually-replicating physical organization, where that organization is brought about and constrained by translated information? First, the material conditions required for translation would have to be met, and second, the details of that translation apparatus would have to be instantiated in the very information that it makes possible – along with the information that organizes the perpetual replication itself. To this end, it would not matter what events one might speculate to exist prior to meeting those requirements, the fact remains that those requirements must be met. If one wishes to say that those requirements arose a chance event in chemical history, there is nothing anyone can say to disprove it.

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    30. Hello Allan,

      I certainly respect your acumen Allan, but your needless desire to denigrate me personally seems a little put on. I’ve done nothing more than take established observations and assembled them into a coherent model. The foundations of that model are not even controversial.

      A couple of quick corrections: First, you must have me confused with someone else. I have no problem with evolutionary scenarios supported by data. I have no dog in that hunt. At the same time, I would not assign to Darwinian evolution things that it cannot obtain. Darwinian evolution is based on alterations made to the heritable information translated in the cell. If there are specific material conditions that are fundamental for that translation to exist, then logic prevents one from assigning the origin of that translation to the very process it makes possible. That would be tantamount to saying that a thing that does not yet exist on a prebiotic earth can cause something to happen. It can’t.

      As for your speculative precursors, you can see my comment to Piotr. At some point, actual translation must occur in order to organize the cell. Your unrestrained speculation is perhaps fascinating, but it offers nothing in meeting the material requirements that must be met.

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    31. John Harshman,

      " Upright BiPed: When people work very, very hard not to say what they mean I suspect that there's something wrong with what they mean."

      I obviously wouldn’t want you to think that, but I can assure you I am not working hard to conceal anything. I was giving Diogenes a chance to become acquainted with a better understanding of translation. To accomplish this, I would have to stay in the saddle long enough for him to get past himself. I can now see that will not happen.

      I’ll answer the question I posed.

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    32. Why does the genetic translation apparatus require a physicochemical discontinuity between the arrangement of codons and the amino acid presented for binding, and why must the system preserve that discontinuity.

      The physical effect of having a particular amino acid presented at a binding site at a particular point in time is not something that can be derived from physical law – it’s not some innate property to be drawn from the composition of matter. So a physical discontinuity will naturally exist in any system that produces such an effect. That discontinuity is required in order to allow the input of formal constraint (information) into the system, where it can produce the effect in question. In other words, it’s an operational necessity to achieve the result.

      And the system must preserve that discontinuity for much the same reason. From a purely mechanical standpoint, if the effect were derivable directly from the physical properties of the medium, then it would be so by the forces of inexorable law, and those inexorable forces would limit the system to what can be physically derived from that medium, thus making the input of form (not derived from that medium) impossible to obtain.

      However, by incorporating the discontinuity, the system allows the effect to be determined by a second arrangement of matter operating in the system. This second arrangement establishes a local relationship between the medium and its effect (bridging the discontinuity while preserving it). This relationship then becomes an identifiable regularity of the system, allowing the system the capacity to produce lawful effects not determined by physical law.

      This physical architecture is something that genetic translation shares with any other instance of translated information ever known to exist. To wit:

      To organize the living cell via translation requires two sets of physical objects operating in a unique system. One set must encode the information and the other set must establish what the effect of that encoding will be. These are the physical necessities. But because the organization of the system must also preserve the discontinuity, a set of local relationships are established that otherwise wouldn’t exist, producing physical effects that are not derivable from the material make-up of the system. These unique conditions are the inexorable mandate of translation (which were proposed in theory and confirmed by experiment).

      -cheers

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    33. Nope, made no sense. We could imagine a form of life in which the anticodon had a direct affinity for some particular amino acid, in which tRNAs charged themselves. As far as I can tell, it wouldn't be much different in effect from what we have now. You really like the word "discontinuity", but it doesn't seem to convey much in the way of meaning.

      And of course everything that happens in a cell is derivable from the material makeup of the system. What else could there be, unless you're a vitalist?

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    34. Harshman on ID: "When people work very hard not to say what they mean...there's something wrong with what they mean."

      [Tweeted from DiogenesLamp0]

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    35. UB: "The physical effect of having a particular amino acid presented at a binding site at a particular point in time is not something that can be derived from physical law – it’s not some innate property to be drawn from the composition of matter."

      False. The genetic code can be partially "derived from physical law", specifically physical interactions between anticodons and amino acids [D.B.F. Johnson, Lei Wang. Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 12.]

      From a purely mechanical standpoint, if the effect were derivable directly from the physical properties of the medium, then it would be so by the forces of inexorable law, and those inexorable forces would limit the system to what can be physically derived from that medium, thus making the input of form (not derived from that medium) impossible to obtain.

      False. The genetic code is partially "derivable from the physical properties of the medium", specifically physical interactions between anticodons and amino acids [D.B.F. Johnson, Lei Wang. Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 12.]

      If you were right, translation would not transmit information. But it does, so your premise is falsified.

      This relationship then becomes an identifiable regularity of the system, allowing the system the capacity to produce lawful effects not determined by physical law.

      False: the genetic code is partially "determined by physical law", specifically physical interactions between anticodons and amino acids [D.B.F. Johnson, Lei Wang. Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 12.]

      But because the organization of the system must also preserve the discontinuity, a set of local relationships are established that otherwise wouldn’t exist, producing physical effects that are not derivable from the material make-up of the system.

      False: the genetic code is partially "derivable from the material make-up of the system", specifically physical interactions between anticodons and amino acids [D.B.F. Johnson, Lei Wang. Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 12.]

      These unique conditions are the inexorable mandate of translation (which were proposed in theory and confirmed by experiment).

      Obviously not! Translation can transmit information despite lacking the properties you claim it must have. Also, you have ignored Piotr's point about how evolution can efface the original physical constraints. If physical constraints were to not exist today, how would you know that they did not exist in the past?

      Delete
    36. John Harshman

      Nope, made no sense.

      And yet you were able to speak directly to it.

      We could imagine a form of life in which the anticodon had a direct affinity for some particular amino acid, in which tRNAs charged themselves.

      Of course, people can imagine anything.

      And of course everything that happens in a cell is derivable from the material makeup of the system.

      Then you have a thermodynamic pathway between UUC and phenylalanine, distinguishing it from CUU and leucine. If you need to produce that explanation with recourse to the remaining system, then you will tacitly acknowledge both the discontinuity and its preservation. Obviously there is nothing wrong with that, since it is necessary.

      Delete
    37. Diogenes, have you ever wondered why research into the origin of genetic translation continues on unabated?

      Delete
    38. What does all of this have to do with UB defending his original claim that commenters here are no different than the Westboro Baptist church.

      Delete
    39. To be clear, I said *some* of the commenters here. See the difference?

      In any case, the people at Westboro are hardened ideologues who are impervious to reason. It was always understood that I would not need to defend my claim. It would be demonstrated.

      It is interesting however, that you find that issue more important than the irreducible system that enables evolution, or the fact that the product of translation is not derivable from physical law.

      Delete
    40. UB, I'm sure that you've heard this or something like it before: You're a two-faced, dishonest, pompous asshole.

      You and your ID/uncommon descent comrades are the ones who are Westboro hardened ideologue types. You IDiots and the Westboro clods are adherents to the same religion, you bash gays, you lie, you distort, you conspire, you make shit up, you brainwash children and adults, you want to stifle education and freedom, you falsely claim the moral high ground, you claim victory when you've failed, you want dominion over everything and everyone, and the promotion of your bizarre, antiquated religious dogma, in whichever way that you modify it to your liking, is the narcissistic agenda of your miserable lives. Westboro Church would welcome you with open arms. I wouldn't be surprised if at least some of you IDiots are already members.

      And UB, let's see you explain (scientifically) exactly how and why your chosen, so-called designer/god created and designed malaria and other diseases/parasites and the occurrences of resistance to medications. Try doing it without mentioning or asserting any 'probabilities'.

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    41. Like I said. It would be demonstrated.

      http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-do-some-materialists-insist-on-wallowing-in-obvious-error/#comment-510621


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    42. UB's comment from his link:

      "I can offer my uselessly limited opinion. First let us agree that this is an attack on Christian tradition. For two thousand years the part of the voice that seeks judgement and control has often outweighed the part that leads by example with love. Self-indulgent vulgarity towards reason is now on the porch.

      How else to explain a person’s rejection of universal observation, if not by emotion?"

      All science so far!

      One more question, for now, UB:

      Why do you even bother to spew lots of sciency sounding gibberish when all you really want to do is push your judgmental and controlling religious beliefs and practices down everyone else's throat? Aren't you aware of the 9th commandment of your chosen, so-called 'God'? And is being dishonest about your motive and agenda your way of leading by example with love?

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    43. And speaking of "vulgarity", UB, accusing any evolutionist or 'Darwinist' here of being like the Westboro wackos is thoroughly vulgar, and judgmental too.

      Delete
    44. I can't imagine how you could have made yourself more obvious. I don't think its even possible.

      cheers...

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    45. Diogenes, have you ever wondered why research into the origin of genetic translation continues on unabated?

      UB, in your view, what is the origin of genetic translation? Do you have one or more specific hypotheses you could briefly relate to us?

      Delete
    46. Another annoying tactic of the UBs of the world is that they refuse to aqnswer most questions in a simple, straightforward way. Instead, like UB's intellectual hero David Abel, they just spew bafflegab in hopes of sounding much smarter than they really are. At least Abel has stopped dishonestly padding his "resume" by listing the same publications over and over - in some cases, a dozen times - under different headings. But he still actually cites hallway conversations as "satellite meetings" to pad his pathetic CV. Such is the IDC.

      Of course, if UB could produce some physical evidence that aa-transferases were designed and created by his un-named designer, well then, I'd had to care.

      Delete
  6. "I don't agree with Jerry on this issue. In fact, I think it might be informative for history students to hear the views of a holocaust denier and I'd love to have the opportunity to challenge the views of someone who supports homeopathy. I'd even tolerate a scientist who dismisses junk DNA."

    Larry, try to think this line of reasoning through to its practical consequences.

    Would you like for any of them to act as your expert-witnesses within their "respective fields" in a court of law where your life is on the line?

    However challenging and interesting you might find their opinions and arguments I feel obliged to remind you that real people get hurt.

    This is not simply an academic exercise in opposing rational discourse. It's conmen and women who make a living out of deceiving people and you are a part of the problem.

    In the name of tolerance and open-mindness your rationale helps create a market for them.

    What is your advice to the people who buy into this and who might waste precious time and money spent on false remedies?

    That you had a great evening and really learned something about arguing with people of differing "opinions"?

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    1. Larry, try to think this line of reasoning through to its practical consequences.

      Do you honestly think that after 25 years of arguing with creationists I've never done that?

      Would you like for any of them to act as your expert-witnesses within their "respective fields" in a court of law where your life is on the line?

      I don't understand the question. Are you asking whether I would want Michael Behe to be an expert witness for ME in a criminal case? The answer is "no." I also wouldn't ask Ken Miller or Francis Collins.

      In the name of tolerance and open-mindness your rationale helps create a market for them.

      Bullshit. Letting them spout nonsense without opposing them is what sustains them.

      What is your advice to the people who buy into this and who might waste precious time and money spent on false remedies?

      My advice is to read my blog and come to their talks to hear the experts destroy their arguments.

      That you had a great evening and really learned something about arguing with people of differing "opinions"?

      That too. I learn a lot by arguing with people who disagree with me. I don't learn very much by only listening to people who agree with me. Do you?

      Delete
    2. They have their arguments destroyed, but their arguments never go away, and neither do they. Part of the beauty of science is that we discard bad ideas; the intellectually dishonest do not. They are not practitioners of science, so why should they be invited (and invited back again and again) to recycle their long-since-destroyed arguments at institutions of science? How does this advance anything?

      Larry, you have made an internet career of attacking those who hold that junk DNA is a myth. I'm confused: do you want them to continue to spout nonsense over and over again, or do you want them to stop?

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    3. I also wouldn't ask Ken Miller or Francis Collins.


      So had the plaintiffs in the Dover case had asked your advice on who their expert witness should be, you would have recommended that it not be Ken Miller (yes, I recognize that it was a civil case, not a criminal case but that's a distinction without a difference under the circumstances)?

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    4. "I don't understand the question. Are you asking whether I would want Michael Behe to be an expert witness for ME in a criminal case? The answer is "no." I also wouldn't ask Ken Miller or Francis Collins."

      My point is that what you see as an exercise in arguments is another (wo)man's reality and by your line of reasoning universities would help create a market for all sorts of "alternative" views. As long as there's intelligence behind the words.

      If truth comes second then how do you propose we decide whether a movement has become large enough to deserve airtime on university platforms?

      By their wit and charm?

      "Bullshit. Letting them spout nonsense without opposing them is what sustains them."

      An how many lectures should they be given before we decide that what they preach isn't true and that we might actually be helping them reaching a wider audience?

      I do no listen to bad music to make it go away. What the deuce makes you think anti-evolution is any different and why the deuce do you think providing them with a microphone will make it sound better?

      It's religion in poor disguise and they aren't even being honest about that.

      But what the hell. Go for it on campus scenes and give 'em hell.

      If it makes precedence for the years to come on universities, we'll soon see if your approach bears fruit.

      Personally I have no problem telling people to stop talking or to tell the truth if what they are saying have been thoroughly debunked.

      "My advice is to read my blog and come to their talks to hear the experts destroy their arguments."

      Because surely they haven't been to any debates of-campus and surely it is necessary to provide their preachers with multiple platforms in order to "get it out in the open"?

      If you don't think anti-evolution already is out in the open, then why the deuce this site?

      "That too. I learn a lot by arguing with people who disagree with me. I don't learn very much by only listening to people who agree with me. Do you?"

      Depends on what they're saying, mate.

      Delete
  7. My view is that it's fine for Dembski (or similarly controversial figures) to come and speak at a university. However the bigger question is why would you bother when there are myriad other speakers that you might want to invite, with whom you could have interesting discussions about genuine areas of scientific (or historical or whatever) controversy?

    For example, in my area of interest climate science I could invite a Dembski-esque figure such as Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen and we could rehash tired old stuff from 20 years ago for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Or I could get someone like James Annan along to talk about the interesting debates surrounding climate sensitivity, for example.

    (apologies if this posted twice)

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    1. However the bigger question is why would you bother when there are myriad other speakers that you might want to invite, with whom you could have interesting discussions about genuine areas of scientific (or historical or whatever) controversy?

      People like Dembski and Behe are leaders in a very popular movement to discredit science (evolution) and promote Intelligent Design Creationism. There are many students, and many faculty, on university campuses who are sympathetic to those points of view.

      We could ignore Dembski and Behe (and others) but that's unlikely to have much effect in persuading their supporters that they are mistaken. We could actively oppose their presence on university campuses but, in my opinion, that's also unlikely to change any minds. It might even have the opposite effect since it makes it look like we are afraid of them.

      We could let them come on university campuses and expose their ideas to critical analysis. That may not have any direct and immediate effect but it's preferable, in my mind, to the other two choices. It's also consistent with the basic goals of a university education, which is to encourage critical thinking and openness.

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    2. Re Larry Moran

      How about inviting Peter Duesberg to pontificate on his denial of the relationship between HIV and AIDS or Andrew Wakefield to pontificate on his claim that vaccines cause autism?

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    3. We could ignore Dembski and Behe (and others) but that's unlikely to have much effect in persuading their supporters that they are mistaken. We could actively oppose their presence on university campuses but, in my opinion, that's also unlikely to change any minds. It might even have the opposite effect since it makes it look like we are afraid of them.

      We could let them come on university campuses and expose their ideas to critical analysis. That may not have any direct and immediate effect but it's preferable, in my mind, to the other two choices. It's also consistent with the basic goals of a university education, which is to encourage critical thinking and openness.


      I certainly wouldn't actively oppose their presence and if certain groups wish to invite them then that's fine by me (and then I think it would be good for their views to be actively challenged and debated). But I think that's a separate thing from faculty themselves inviting them. I think students would get much more out of, for example, a lecture and discussion of modern evolutionary theory by Michael Lynch, than a creationist speaker.

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    4. It's also consistent with the basic goals of a university education, which is to encourage critical thinking and openness.

      I suppose the only mild critique I can think of is that figuring out the ways in which the IDiots' ideas are wrong may not be sufficiently challenging to teach critical thinking, at least as contrasted to looking for holes in better scientists' arguments.

      Re openness, not only is having IDiots speak good for demonstrating the value of openness and the lack of any need to be concerned about listening to those with other views; the IDiots' responses to questions and objections may be an excellent way of showing their closed-mindedness.

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  8. The real crime IMHO is that Dembski was given a Ph.D. in the first place. I wouldn't rescind his invitation to speak after he's been invited, you have to let him talk. But who at the U. of Chicago gave him a Ph.D.!? Did you read his thesis, The Design Inference? I did, it's a train wreck. This guy got a Ph.D. for that dreck? Now I've always wondered what idiots (small i and d) on his thesis committee granted him a Ph.D.

    At Jerry Coyne's blog he says he emailed Dembski's Ph.D. supervisor, who IMHO is the real person to blame for this goddamn mess. But Coyne redacts his name and protects his anonymity. He does tell us that Dembski's Ph.D. supervisor spells his name of his former student "Dembsky" multiple times. So I'm thinking the fellow is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

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  9. His adviser was Leo Kadanoff.
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/creationist-dembski-gives-academic-talk-at-my-university/#comment-1034614

    He has commented on Dembski's work, and his tentative consideration of ID in this paper:
    http://jfi.uchicago.edu/~leop/AboutPapers/Complexity.pdf

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    1. As someone with a degree in physics, I find it somewhat dubious when a physicist with no training or evident expertise in biology pontificates on that subject. No different then a biologist pontificating on the Strings Hypothesis.

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  10. He does tell us that Dembski's Ph.D. supervisor spells his name of his former student "Dembsky" multiple times. So I'm thinking the fellow is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    He continued spelling it "Dembsky" after being told he'd been misspelling it. He must be a man of firm, unshakable convictions.

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    1. Yes, after reading that exchange of EMAILs I began to understand how "Dembsky" got his Ph.D.

      Delete
  11. I agree with Jerry Coyne. There has to be someplace in Chicago that's not a University.

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    1. I'm sure most churches in Chicago have basements. Dembski can give his talk right before the screening of Expelled.

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  12. When one censors or punishes someone by banning them from the public or private institutions (all private really are a part of a nations wealth cycle) then one is attacking the conclusions of historic and present high perceatages of the population.
    In fact its literally a dismissing of Christian opinions that created and entirely dominated our English speaking nations. Its literally a attack on Christianity.
    Anyways its also an attack on our fellow citizens and saying your ideas are not just wrong but are not worthy of glorious universities high standards of truth seeking.
    Well what can we say.
    Who is the boss here? Who says the truth is that God and genesis is false?
    Truth is the moral and intellectual right of all men and especially men who define themselves as free. Further we say freedom of enquiry and speech and expression is our heritage and why we did better then the rest of the world who all loved control and banning of wrong beliefs.
    Its like watching old dictatorships or some science fiction movie of a controled future world.
    Its hilarious to me to see , some, evolutionists embarrass thier side by a desperate attempt to silence critics.
    We are good and will win but why are you so sure these talks are so dangerous??
    if ones beliefs are banned in higher education then its a official statement that belief is wrong.
    Its a big deal to say religious beliefs are officially wrong when they are quite popularn with the people.
    Any aggressive censorship/banning is just the evidence of a spirit of domination from some group over the people.
    The people can claim freedom of seeking the truth and speaking before ones feloow citizens is our God given and historic heritage.
    Universities are the place where freedom of enquiry should rule.
    They really belong to the whole people of the nation. the great ideas of truth and scholarship are the peoples and not an elite.
    The ID/YEC speaking un this university is evidence the university agrees with the legitimacy of contrary opinions to what it teaches in its rooms.
    any critic should come with excellent questions and persuade honest seekers after truth.
    Its crazy to have to argue for freedom of academia .
    Something has gone wrong eh.

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  13. "When one censors or punishes someone by banning them from [speaking at] public or private institutions … then one is attacking the conclusions of historic and present high percentages of the population."

    You are apparently referring to presenting a religion based talk, which is not the case with Dembski's upcoming presentation.

    "In fact, it's literally a dismissing of Christian opinions that created and entirely dominated our English speaking nations. It's literally an attack on Christianity."

    Again Robert, arguments for and against ID as a deterministic cause within evolutionary theory, and in particular William Dembski's arguments are not based on religious dogma, but purely on statistical probabilities and improbabilities.

    "Any aggressive censorship/banning is just the evidence of a spirit of domination from some group over the people."

    While true that ID arguments have in fact been banned from discussion in many/most academic institutions within science curricula, based on the false premise that they are religion based. The brouhaha which has been raised in this instance is the result of Prof. Coyne's obstinate view that ID is indeed religion based, an utterly false premise, and that he has publicly denounced the institution for allowing Dembski in.

    "Universities are the place where freedom of inquiry should rule."

    Correct, but with qualifications. For discussions of evolutionary theory within science curricula, religious tenets must never be employed as arguments for OR against evolutionary processes, since nothing within religion is scientifically derived. The fact that a religious conclusion may be reached from a personal perspective, based on confirmation of design inferences within evolutionary research, and as a reinforcement of a priori religious acceptance, is not relevant to a science-based assessment of evolutionary data.

    Unfortunately, some still hold to a dated view that ID IS religion based, based on the fact that some with a strong religious bias have employed the term as argumentative. Fundamentalists like Ken Ham however, strongly disagree with ID as a tentative and investigative evolutionary process, since it conflicts with a literal interpretation of scripture. So is ID 'religion in a lab coat'? Certainly not from a fundamentalist perspective.

    ID is simply one of many mechanistic hypotheses within ToE, and will remain so when there is supportive evidence. To deny it based on false assumptions, the Kitzmiller case et al, is to deny the open and objective perusal of relevant data germane to evolutionary study, and is in fact, the actual detriment to science, both cultural [employment enticing], and as a definitive and instructive tool within biology, medicine, and environmental studies.

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    1. While the evidence that ID supporters are motivated by religion is overwhelming, you are correct that this is not a good argument against ID (Genetic Fallacy). However, ID opponents are NOT making that argument, as you assert (Straw Man).

      ID is most certainly NOT a mechanistic hypothesis. Remember that ID is not required to provide that "pathetic level of detail". ID invokes supernatural agency, and is consequently a large-scale Appeal to Ignorance (ID supporter: "We don't have an adequate natural explanation, so the explanation must be supernatural").

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    2. Yes, ID in its early days, under Stephen Meyer and Dembski and Phillip Johnson and Thaxton, called itself creationist, supernatural, Christian and theistic. Their words, not ours.

      Bowman, if you want to rewrite ID history, try a dumber audience.

      About 2003 Meyer et al. started expunging words like "creationist, supernatural, theistic and Christian" from ID materials. Whitewash. But the paper trail remained.

      In 2005 at Dover, the ID side petitioned the judge to squelch Barbara Forrest's testimony and suppress all the pre-2003 ID books and articles written by ID experts themselves which Forrest planned to read from. Why did the ID side try to squelch ID experts' own writings? Because they used to say ID was creationist, supernatural, Christian, theistic etc. so they wanted their own words expunged.

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    3. Ah, memories of cdesign proponentsists and transitional articles!

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    4. Those with an a priori and deeply entrenched faith based perspective often have trouble separating it from free thought. I see it on both sides. Most of those who claim to have 'free thought' are biased in a similar way, only in a materialistic/ reductionistic perspective.

      I am totally between those two extremes. Although from an 'a priori' entrenched engineering perspective I see design where others do not, I am open to all relevant data, both pro and con. At present however, I see more evidence in support of design intervention than solely chance formations, however selected upon.

      But to your points of early adherents squirming into a more secular approach to ID, that was essential to initiating a scientific approach to ID research. And within the early CDC, yes, there were those who had the wrong approach, such as creationist Dean Kenyon, responsible for wording such as "distinctive features already intact", and ex nihilo perspective.

      Forrest's testimony, which highlighted early documents like the Wedge Document, and isolated religious iterations such as Dembski's "Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory", Touchstone Journal, July/August 1999, and others were thought to paint ID as having a religious basis, which it does not, with few exceptions.

      The fact that some early proponents were religious, and made religious statements, is incidental to what design inferences are assessed by, which is certain proteins, enzymes, co-dependent structures, deemed by statistical analyses to be non-evolvable. It's not that I deny that those publications exist, it's just that I view them as irrelevant to ID, defined and assessed properly.

      As ID assumes its proper role within investigative science, rather than a politically based movement, there should be no objection to discussing its evidentiary data on an equal footing with the premise of natural causation, however defined. And as specific examples of complex and multi-dependent systemics are studied from both perspectives, we will have a better feel for how organisms progressed along 'upward' lineage lines, i.e. progressions to other and higher taxonomic classifications.

      By the way, equating evolutionary theory to being as easily confirmed and empirically testable as that of physical properties such as 'gravity' is still widely quoted today. I still cringe a bit when I hear it ...

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    5. Those with an a priori and deeply entrenched faith based perspective often have trouble separating it from free thought. I see it on both sides. Most of those who claim to have 'free thought' are biased in a similar way, only in a materialistic/ reductionistic perspective.


      The problem is that virtually every "luminary" of ID has been having those problems for their entire careers. ID has been nothing else except a way to try to prove their theism.

      I agree that many people on the materialistic side of things can be blamed for the same attitude.



      I am totally between those two extremes. Although from an 'a priori' entrenched engineering perspective I see design where others do not, I am open to all relevant data, both pro and con. At present however, I see more evidence in support of design intervention than solely chance formations, however selected upon.

      I'm fine with that, even though my perspective is quite different. But my background is "messy" Geology and Biology, so I guess it's fitting.



      But to your points of early adherents squirming into a more secular approach to ID, that was essential to initiating a scientific approach to ID research. And within the early CDC, yes, there were those who had the wrong approach, such as creationist Dean Kenyon, responsible for wording such as "distinctive features already intact", and ex nihilo perspective.

      Forrest's testimony, which highlighted early documents like the Wedge Document, and isolated religious iterations such as Dembski's "Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory", Touchstone Journal, July/August 1999, and others were thought to paint ID as having a religious basis, which it does not, with few exceptions.


      I quite disagree. The image you're painting of "old" ID and "new" ID doesn't really exists. What exists is a failure of openly religious arguments to convince large swaths of the population as intended (wedge document). This recognized failure led to a change of clothing, and not a vry good one at that. ID remains what it always was, a different, more "modern" strategy for missionary work. The substance remains the same. This religious basis IS the basis of ID, not an exception by any means. Maybe you're an honest individual yourself (I have no problems in conceeding the benefit of the doubt), but in that case, you're just fooling yourself if you actually think that ID as a movement is motivated by any actual search for knowledge.

      Also, their "idiom of information theory" is completely divorced from any scientific theory of information theory. The only thing they use is the "idiom" alright, but with a completely bastardized meaning.


      The fact that some early proponents were religious, and made religious statements, is incidental to what design inferences are assessed by, which is certain proteins, enzymes, co-dependent structures, deemed by statistical analyses to be non-evolvable. It's not that I deny that those publications exist, it's just that I view them as irrelevant to ID, defined and assessed properly.

      Do you have any examples of early or present leaders of the movement that are NOT relegious/theists in any sense of the word and who are simply testing design as a purely intelectual and scientific endeavour?

      As for the features "deemed by statistical analyses to be non-evolvable", I think those arguments, as they stand, have been put to rest a long time ago (maybe you disagree, and in that case I'd be interested in knowing what exactely was about the various criticisms made that you found faulty). Unless there's any new "research" I'm not aware of.


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    6. As ID assumes its proper role within investigative science, rather than a politically based movement, there should be no objection to discussing its evidentiary data on an equal footing with the premise of natural causation, however defined. And as specific examples of complex and multi-dependent systemics are studied from both perspectives, we will have a better feel for how organisms progressed along 'upward' lineage lines, i.e. progressions to other and higher taxonomic classifications.


      ID has always been, and still is, a political and religious movement. I do agree that it is perfectly fine to test an hyphotesis of design. So far, that hyphotesis has failed miserably, and all it does is god of the gaps arguments. To give it "equal footing with the premise of natural causation, however defined" it actually needs to earn that position. So far, people have looked, and there's nothing. You mention above that ID is a "mechanistic theory". I'm still wondering what are those "mechanisms". It has been made perfectly clear that ID theory doesn't concern itself with mechanims, only in infering design. Guess why?

      And that's ignoring the rethoric, dishonesty, rampant ignorance, and dismissal of criticism that has been a staple of ID since its inception. But that's another issue.



      By the way, equating evolutionary theory to being as easily confirmed and empirically testable as that of physical properties such as 'gravity' is still widely quoted today. I still cringe a bit when I hear it ...


      I agree.

      Delete

  14. If Dembski isn't seriously challenged, and given only softball questions, this invitation will look good for ID. If, on the other hand, his arguments are demolished as thoroughly in person as they are in writing, and if he has no answers, that will not look good for ID. The whole episode will make a very good sound-byte summary of ID for the next public discussion/debate over ID

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    1. If he is asked hardball question, the Discovery Institute will say he was bullied by the Darwinian Orthodoxy because he “hit a nerve”. If he is not challenged, they will say that he made his point so convincingly that the audience was stunned into silence, thereby vindicating him. Either way, they win.

      People who support his invitation to speak are assuming that the people paying attention to this are as reasonable, rational and intellectually honest as they are. THEY ARE NOT!! No matter what happens, people who are sympathetic to ID will see this as a victory. The sad thing is: they have won simply because he was invited in the first place – he was given a forum to spout nonsense. Let them spout nonsense on their websites, and in their books and "journals". Keep respectable institutions respectable. Have high standards for presenters.

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  15. Here's the problem, Dembski is giving his talk in a 'Computations in Science' seminar series. This series includes talks on fluid dynamics, quadratic voting in democratic societies, philosophy of mathematics and science, etc. This is not a biology, nor evolutionary biology, focused group. So the idea that Dembski is going to be challenged is doubtful, the vast majority of the audience likely will not understand the problems with his ideas, and those who do may not have the expertise to adequately challenge them. Of the handful of experts in the area who could attend and take on this role, are they free? should they have to spend their time running around debunking bullshit? I expect the audience will overall be left with the sense that Dembski's ideas are valid.

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  16. I come down firmly on many sides of this argument. :-)

    1. I wouldn't have invited Dembski to come talk on science. I'd invite people I respect, or who are respected by people whose judgement I respect.

    2. Universities aren't high schools. Students should be learning to handle serious debate and make their own judgements. Letting them practice their skills on the relatively low-hanging fruit of ID proponents can be good. Maybe the Dembskis of the world should be invited.

    3. If the university brought in Dembski or someone of similar views, I'd actually get off my desk chair and make sure students had to opportunity to know there's a problem. I'd talk to my own students, publicize a lunch or dinner to discuss evidence, sponsor a lecture the next day on the issue, post links to blogs, etc., that have refuted his arguments,and so forth. In other words, I'd try to give the students evidence to use in making their judgements. I'd encourage them to ask Dembski questions (politely!), too.

    4. Inviting ID proponents to a talk at a science seminar gives them a basis for saying their science is respected, and I don't like that, though since they and their followers believe that anyway, harm may be minimal.

    5. I might or might not protest to the group that invited Dembski, in order to prevent future invitations of this sort. Might depend on the group that issued the invitation. (Are the usual topics good science? religion? controversy?)

    6. Banning creationists from campus would be bad (though excluding them from certain lecture series would be good). Disinviting someone already invited would be a very bad idea, since it gives them a good excuse to whine.

    7. The quality of people as overall human beings doesn't depend on particular beliefs. Larry makes friends with Behe and others, and I enjoy debating with relatives who have very different (and very wrong, of course) ideas of religion and politics. We should look for shared values when we can.

    So is inviting Dembski to the university a good idea or a bad idea? Yes!

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  17. Lee Bowman.
    The attack against the iD here I thought was based on his being said to be religiously motivated. I thought that was the thread.
    It is the real reason is about denying place to origin arguments based on God or genesis.
    Its not about nere error in some subjects. the universities are full of conflicting biewpoints in every subject.
    This is very special. It touches on historic conclusions of God/Genesis as the truth for origins.
    It is a attack on christianity.
    anyways even if the iD guy is just about natural principals and all that then denying him, in a lather, to speak is a great censorship decision based on a rejection of his scientific point of view.
    Somebody is the boss of what is true and is banning untrue.
    Well are universities about settling what is true and banning dissent? or are they about seeking truth by weighing the evidences and ideas of anyone who puts up a good enough case. Of coarse the latter.
    Its absurd attempts to control ideas in places that are where ideas are said to be most investigated for their truth.
    its anti=Christian, anti-god, anti -intellectual, anti-freedom, anti-free speech, anti-the people who made the universities.
    It really is as foreign to North American ideas on truth and freedom as can get.
    the state censorship naturally bred greater censorship in society.
    Ban them is not competent thinkers but not because of their conclusions.
    its immoral and illegal in our civilization.
    everyone should pay attention once again.

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  18. I'm going to say a few things about some differences between Larry Moran and Jerry Coyne. Larry apparently isn't afraid to face opponents and he apparently feels confident about his knowledge and his ability to question and/or challenge the assertions of IDiots like Dembski or Behe. Larry doesn't block comments or ban commenters who disagree with him unless they are threatening or otherwise WAY out of line.

    Coyne says that he won't attend the talk by Dembski even though it would be real easy for Coyne to attend. Coyne apparently has no confidence in his knowledge or his ability to question and/or challenge Dembski's assertions. Coyne blocks many comments and bans many commenters just for disagreeing with him. He often demands apologies for what reasonable people would think are innocuous questions or statements, simply because the questions or statements are not in complete agreement with his edicts. Coyne is making a big stink about Dembski being invited to speak at the UoC, and there are some valid arguments as to why Dembski shouldn't have been invited, but the invitation has been extended and accepted so the best thing that Coyne could do is attend the talk and show that Dembski is full of it by asking the right questions and making the right statements. Running away from Dembski won't accomplish anything except show that Coyne is a coward. If Coyne is as worried about the reputation of the UoC and the spread of IDiot-creationism as he says he is he should face Dembski at the UoC and refute Dembski's BS.

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    Replies
    1. TWT: "Coyne blocks many comments and bans many commenters just for disagreeing with him. He often demands apologies for what reasonable people would think are innocuous questions or statements, simply because the questions or statements are not in complete agreement with his edicts."

      Such as what he did to yours truly. Coyne was going to block all comments by creationist school board member Don McLeroy. I objected to blocking the creationist, so Jerry said to me, apologize or you're banned.

      Jerry, I ain't apologizing.

      Also, if you accurately describe Israeli policies, he actually reaches through your computer monitor and punches you in the face.

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    2. Diogenes: I word add words like "Mama" and "Papa" / "Baba" which are so universal, they might be hard-wired in the brain.

      No, they merely represent infant babbling co-opted as adult vocabulary (borrowed by adults, so to speak, just like to moo and a cuckoo can be regarded as animal vocalisation borrowed into human languages). Mama for 'mother' is common for the same reason why Latin mamma means 'nipple'. But note that in Georgian mama means 'father' -- so much for hardwiring.

      So we don't know that human languages are totally non-determined by natural laws and the environment.

      Actually we know that they partly are. And the part that's arbitrary is to a large extent "frozen accident".

      Why do some words sound like certain things? Why does "mawamba" sound big and "kiniki" sound small?

      They sound like that, but there's nothing inevitable about sound symbolism. It's a tendency, caused by something pretty analogous to (rather weak) selective pressure. Other things being equal, people will prefer iconic words, if only because they have some mnemonic advantage. (But "other things" include the operation of sound change, which makes iconicity erode away in the long run, as in the case of pigeon.)

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    3. Re Diogenes

      Also, if you accurately describe Israeli policies, he actually reaches through your computer monitor and punches you in the face.

      Translation: An accurate description of Israel''s policies equates Israel to Nazi Germany and Netanyahu as Frankenberger.

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  19. It looks like ID and Michael Behe are finished thanks to one housewife’s lack of knowledge of the proper function of the mouse trap…

    Dr. Behe; it looks like you need to come up with a new example for irreducible complexity… as it looks like the mouse trap is no longer irreducibly complex according to one housewife…

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4k0eopPqitsZ0ZjMXRzTWhHa3NseFdsdk9rUGRoQVQ1eF8w/edit?usp=sharing

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