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Friday, February 13, 2015

What did Judge Jones say in 2005? (Part III)

For those or you who are still interested in the debate over the nature of science and how it played out in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District back in 2005, I present to you ....

A Reading List

Science at the Bar—Cause for Concern by Larry Laudan
"In the wake of the decision in the Arkansas Creationism trial (McLean v Arkansas), the friends of science are apt to be relishing the outcome. The creationists quite clearly made a botch of their case and there can be little doubt that the Arkansas decision may, at least for a time, blunt legislative pressure to enact similar laws in other states. Once the dust has settled, however, the trial in general and Judge William R. Overton's ruling in particular may come back to haunt us; for, although the verdict itself is probably to be commended, it was reached for all the wrong reasons and by a chain of argument which is hopelessly suspect. Indeed, the ruling rests on a host of misrepresentations of what science is and how it works."
"In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there."
Public Education and Intelligent Design by Thomas Nagel in Philosophy & Public Affairs 36:187-207 (2008)
"The 2005 decision by Judge John E. Jones in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was celebrated by all red-blooded American liberals as a victory over the forces of darkness. The result was probably inevitable, in view of the reckless expression by some members of the Dover School Board of their desire to put religion into the classroom, and the clumsiness of their prescribed statement in trying to dissimulate that aim. But the conflicts aired in this trial-over the status of evolutionary theory, the arguments for intelligent design, and the nature of science—reveal an intellectually unhealthy situation. The political urge to defend science education against the threats of religious orthodoxy, understandable though it is, has resulted in a counterorthodoxy, supported by bad arguments, and a tendency to overstate the legitimate scientific claims of evolutionary theory. Skeptics about the theory are seen as so dangerous, and so disreputably motivated, that they must be denied any shred of legitimate interest. Most importantly, the campaign of the scientific establishment to rule out intelligent design as beyond discussion because it is not science results in the avoidance of significant questions about the relation between evolutionary theory and religious belief, questions that must be faced in order to understand the theory and evaluate the scientific evidence for it."
How not to attack intelligent design creationism: philosophical misconceptions about methodological naturalism by Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan Braeckman in Foundations of Science 15:227-244 (2010)
"In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative. We will discuss five arguments that have been proposed in support of IMN: the argument from the definition of science, the argument from lawful regularity, the science stopper argument, the argument from procedural necessity, and the testability argument. We conclude that IMN, because of its philosophical flaws, proves to be an ill-advised strategy to counter the claims of IDC. Evolutionary scientists are on firmer ground if they discard supernatural explanations on purely evidential grounds, instead of ruling them out by philosophical fiat."
Grist to the Mill of Anti-evolutionism: The Failed Strategy of Ruling the Supernatural Out of Science by Philosophical Fiat Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan Braeckman in Science & Education 21:1151-1165 (2012)
"According to a widespread philosophical opinion, science is strictly limited to investigating natural causes and putting forth natural explanations. Lacking the tools to evaluate supernatural claims, science must remain studiously neutral on questions of metaphysics. This (self-imposed) stricture, which goes under the name of ‘methodological naturalism’, allows science to be divorced from metaphysical naturalism or atheism, which many people tend to associate with it. However, ruling the supernatural out of science by fiat is not only philosophically untenable, it actually provides grist to the mill of anti-evolutionism. The philosophical flaws in this conception of methodological naturalism have been gratefully exploited by advocates of intelligent design creationism to bolster their false accusations of naturalistic bias and dogmatism on the part of modern science. We argue that it promotes a misleading view of the scientific endeavor and is at odds with the foremost arguments for evolution by natural selection. Reconciling science and religion on the basis of such methodological strictures is therefore misguided."
Can Science Test Supernatural Worldviews? by Yonastan I. Fishman in Science, Worldviews and Education (2009) pp. 165-189.
"Several prominent scientists, philosophers, and scientific institutions have argued that science cannot test supernatural worldviews on the grounds that (1) science presupposes a naturalistic worldview (Naturalism) or that (2) claims involving supernatural phenomena are inherently beyond the scope of scientific investigation. The present paper argues that these assumptions are questionable and that indeed science can test supernatural claims. While scientific evidence may ultimately support a naturalistic worldview, science does not presuppose Naturalism as an a priori commitment, and supernatural claims are amenable to scientific evaluation. This conclusion challenges the rationale behind a recent judicial ruling in the United States concerning the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in public schools as an alternative to evolution and the official statements of two major scientific institutions that exert a substantial influence on science educational policies in the United States. Given that science does have implications concerning the probable truth of supernatural worldviews, claims should not be excluded a priori from science education simply because they might be characterized as supernatural, paranormal, or religious. Rather, claims should be excluded from science education when the evidence does not support them, regardless of whether they are designated as ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’."
Religion and Science Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Alvin Plantinga)
"Still others claim that science is constrained by ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN)—the idea that neither the data for a scientific investigation nor a scientific theory can properly refer to supernatural beings (God, angels, demons); thus one couldn't properly propose (as part of science) a theory according to which the recent outbreak of weird and irrational behavior in Washington D.C. is to be accounted for in terms of increased demonic behavior in that neighborhood. How do we know that MN really is an essential constraint on science? Some claim that it is simply a matter of definition; thus Nancey Murphy: “… there is what we might call methodological atheism, which is by definition common to all natural science” (Murphy 2001, 464). She continues: “This is simply the principle that scientific explanations are to be in terms of natural (not supernatural) entities and processes”. Similarly for Michael Ruse: “The Creationists believe that the world started miraculously. But miracles lie outside of science, which by definition deals only with the natural, the repeatable, that which is governed by law” (Ruse 1982, 322). By definition of what? By definition of the term ‘science’ one supposes. But others then ask: what about the Big Bang: if it turns out to be unrepeatable, must we conclude that it can't be studied scientifically? And consider the claim that science, by definition, deals only with that which is governed by law—natural law, one supposes. Some empiricists (in particular, Bas van Fraassen) argue that there aren't any natural laws (but only regularities): if they are right, would it follow that there is nothing at all for science to study? Still further, while some people argue that MN is an essential constraint on science, others dispute this: but can a serious dispute be settled just by citing a definition?"
NATURALISM IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF SCIENCE AND CRITICAL INQUIRY by Steven D. Schafersman a paper originally presented at the Conference on Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise, sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, February 20-23, 1997
"Scientists and others who believe in science, however, are humans, and their beliefs are another story. How convincing is the argument made by theistic methodological naturalists, individuals who believe in both science and the supernatural, that evolution--or any statement of science--is firmly established by a naturalistic method in which they don't really believe? Not very convincing. I find difficulty with [Eugenie] Scott's insistence that methodological and ontological naturalism are "logically and practically decoupled." I maintain that the practice or adoption of methodological naturalism entails both a logical and moral belief in ontological naturalism, so they are not logically decoupled (but could remain practically or pragmatically decoupled for those who wish or must for personal reasons). Most scientists presumably practice naturalism in science because they believe in naturalism as an ontology. Theistic scientists, on the other hand, only assume--do not really believe--methodological naturalism, because they are actually supernaturalists (this argument also applies to the much larger group of non-scientists who believe in both theism and the conclusions of science, such as evolution).

Do theistic scientists think they are playing a game, in which they do science during the day with naturalistic methods, but at night go home and leave naturalism behind in the laboratory, since they don't really believe it describes a true picture of reality? How can an individual scientist not believe that the work he or she is doing actually discovers true and reliable knowledge about reality and still be motivated to perform that work? One might reply that his or her work does indeed discover such reliable knowledge about a part of reality, the natural part, and the other, supernatural, part is unknowable by science but presumably knowable by some other method (revelation, faith, authority, etc.). But this distinction is based solely on a definition, not on any real knowledge of reality. In effect, it involves the identification of the supernatural in a description of the realm of the natural, and thereby justifies one's adoption of methodological naturalism by ignoring methodological naturalism. I think theistic/supernaturalistic methodological naturalists are being illogical in this instance.

Theistic naturalists must believe somewhat in naturalism to methodologically assume or adopt it in science, and they cannot logically maintain a belief in supernaturalism at the same time unless they maintain that there is absolutely no connection at all between the natural and supernatural worlds. But this is something no supernaturalist maintains. Even the most naturalistic theistic naturalist--a deist who claims that God is the ultimate Creator of the universe, but that everything after that singular event is natural and operates by natural causes--believes in a supernatural origin of the universe. But ontological naturalism makes no exception for the origin of the universe. It must have been natural, too. For supernaturalists who believe in miracles or the dogmas of Christianity, the hurdle is even higher. It is not logically possible for them to describe nature naturalistically when, in fact, they believe in supernatural violations of natural law, i.e. the manifestation of miracles. These arguments suggest to me that methodological naturalism, itself alone required by science, is logically untenable for humans unless one is simultaneously an ontological naturalist."
Can’t philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited by Robert T. Pennock Synthese 176:177-206 (2011)
"In the 2005 Kitzmiller v Dover Area School Board case, a federal district court ruled that Intelligent Design creationism was not science, but a disguised religious view and that teaching it in public schools is unconstitutional. But creationists contend that it is illegitimate to distinguish science and religion, citing philosophers Quinn and especially Laudan, who had criticized a similar ruling in the 1981 McLean v. Arkansas creation-science case on the grounds that no necessary and sufficient demarcation criterion was possible and that demarcation was a dead pseudo-problem. This article discusses problems with those conclusions and their application to the quite different reasoning between these two cases. Laudan focused too narrowly on the problem of demarcation as Popper defined it. Distinguishing science from religion was and remains an important conceptual issue with significant practical import, and philosophers who say there is no difference have lost touch with reality in a profound and perverse way. The Kitzmiller case did not rely on a strict demarcation criterion, but appealed only to a “ballpark” demarcation that identifies methodological naturalism (MN) as a “ground rule” of science. MN is shown to be a distinguishing feature of science both in explicit statements from scientific organizations and in actual practice. There is good reason to think that MN is shared as a tacit assumption among philosophers who emphasize other demarcation criteria and even by Laudan himself."
Demarcation’s revisited demise posted on The Kindly Ones by Paul Newall on Dec. 21, 2010.
"This is why Laudan’s caution is often pointed to by those who wish to remark that attacking ID on the philosophical grounds of the demarcation problem instead of in terms of confirmation or as a research programme is ill-advised. No doubt it is a source of some annoyance to opponents of ID that Laudan’s comments have been seized upon by its advocates, but this approach only succeeds insofar as the debate remains fixated on the question of whether or not Creationism and/or ID are scientific. Perhaps the correct response to such disagreements is to point out that, if we read the entirety of Laudan’s The demise of the demarcation problem, we find that there is no safe place in it for Creationism or ID: Laudan states repeatedly that ideas should not be disallowed via an initial demarcation but should be assessed in terms of how well-founded they are, on which grounds Creationism and ID fail. It can thus be conceded that the demarcation problem may be intractable without allowing that this makes life any easier for Creationism and ID. If this proves difficult in terms of what should be allowed in a science classroom then perhaps it requires that we frame that debate differently; those who attempted to settle the question via demarcation, or who allowed Creationism and ID advocates to do so, are responsible for this situation, not Laudan."
But Is It Science? by Massimo Pigliucci in Nonsense on Stilts p. 176
"While we learned much about creationism and intelligent design from a careful analysis of the Dover proceedings, the crucial question as far as this book is concerned is rather more direct: is ID science, under any reasonable definition of the term? Just because an idea has strong religious underpinnings, it doesn't necessarily [mean] it is scientifically unsound, and one ought to pursue the two questions (infringement of state-church separation and the scientific nature of the claim) separately. This is, in a sense, what Judge Jones did, and the central part of his decision, entitled "Whether ID is science," should be a must-read in any discussion of science and religion. Interestingly, Judge Jones relied not only on the expert testimony of ID proponents and of their scientific critics, but also on a usually neglected category of experts: philosophers of science. His account is an enduring testimony to how a person with no technical background, a religious believer, and a political conservative, can form a solid opinion—based on considerate understanding of expert testimony—of matters that are both intellectually sophisticated and full of emotional and political implications."


  1. Replies
    1. Pennock, Pigliucci. REALLY!!!

      If you have a problem with any of these articles, feel free to comment.

    2. Larry -- you yourself are kind of an expert at the "really???" sort of blogpost, at least when it comes to ID.

      But, since you asked, Nagel basically doesn't know the absolute basics of the ID issue. He came in very late, ignored the entire history of the issue, and all of the relevant science, and gets what science he does discuss basically wrong, treating the ID guys as if their antievolutionary arguments had substantial merit. And then you think he has something worthwhile to contribute on the issue? E.g. wikipedia:

      In 2009 he recommended Signature in the Cell by the philosopher and ID proponent Stephen C. Meyer in The Times Literary Supplement as one of his "Best Books of the Year."[12] Nagel does not accept Meyer's conclusions but he endorsed Meyer's approach, and argued in Mind and Cosmos that Meyer and other ID proponents, David Berlinski and Michael Behe, "do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met."[13] Nagel's views on ID have been criticized by some from the scientific community. Stephen Fletcher, a chemist at Loughborough University, wrote in The Times Literary Supplement in 2009 that Nagel "should not promote the [Meyer] book to the rest of us using statements that are factually incorrect."[14]

      It's been awhile since I interacted with Newall but IIRC he's basically a Feyerabend fan, i.e. an anarchist about the issue of what science is, which is about enough to fairly dismiss him right there. Contrarian philosophers who snipe at scientists who are doing useful work, and who don't provide a positive account about why science mostly works and other things mostly don't, don't deserve a lot of time.

      And then you've got Plantinga...really??? "Evolutionary argument against naturalism" -- give me a break. Problem 1, which he never really addresses, is the totally obvious point that if evolution can do anything at all, it can produce nervous systems that can distinguish more from fewer -- more predators, more food, whatever. If it can do things like this, then we have reason to believe that evolved cognitive abilities have reasonable reliability, and then his whole freaking argument explodes. Someone who makes mistakes this basic, for decades, isn't someone worth taking seriously on evolution/ID issues.

    3. Contrarian philosophers who snipe at scientists who are doing useful work, and who don't provide a positive account about why science mostly works and other things mostly don't, don't deserve a lot of time.

      Feyerabend never sniped at scientists as scientists, and his "contrarianism" consisted in his denial that there was any set of processes or procedures that one could use to always define what science was to the exclusion of all forms of nonscience. If you have a problem with that, then your task is 'simple': solve the demarcation problem. Otherwise, you have to admit that Feyerabend had a point. Of course, there is a bit of playfulness in his writing and a desire to shock, which is common to the entire German culture of the time (for example, one of the great Peter Handke's plays is entitled Offending the Audience) but his criticisms in works like Against Method are sound. If anything, one can argue that Feyerabend is supportive of scientific practice because he recognizes that it works and think that this practical achievement should be given higher priority than straitjacketing it by making arbitrary distinctions between science and non-science. Think of the story of Procrustes' bed.

      In any case, it's not anybody's job to "be constructive" and come up with an account of science that flatters the preconceptions of scientists and elevates their work above that of other disciplines if the person is not convinced that such flattery and elevation is warranted. If you want to critique Feyerabend, then you should do what you're complaining he didn't.

    4. NickM writes,

      Nagel does not accept Meyer's conclusions but he endorsed Meyer's approach, and argued in Mind and Cosmos that Meyer and other ID proponents, David Berlinski and Michael Behe, "do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met."

      I pretty much agree with Nagel about Behe and Meyer. It's not that easy to show why they are wrong and most scientists don't understand evolution well enough to do a credible job.

      It's been awhile since I interacted with Newall but IIRC he's basically a Feyerabend fan, i.e. an anarchist about the issue of what science is, which is about enough to fairly dismiss him right there.

      You may want to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you but I take a different approach. It's not obvious to me that anyone, including you, has an airtight definition of science.

      And then you've got Plantinga...really??? "Evolutionary argument against naturalism"

      I don't agree with Plantinga as you would know from reading my blog. However, I felt it was necessary to include readings from a variety of points of view in an attempt to present a balanced approach. That's why I included Pennock as well.

      Someone who makes mistakes this basic, for decades, isn't someone worth taking seriously on evolution/ID issues.

      That's how I feel about Michael Ruse, John Haught and some other opponents of ID. Haught is a Roman Catholic theologian yet he was asked to testify about the nature of science at the Dover trial.

    5. Here's part of Haught's testimony ...

      Q. Focusing on natural science, what is science?
      A. Science is a mode of inquiry that looks to understand natural phenomena by looking for their natural causes, efficient and material causes. It does this by first gathering data observationally or empirically. Then it organizes this data into the form of hypotheses or theories. And then, thirdly, it continually tests the authenticity of these hypotheses and theories against new data that might come in and perhaps occasionally bring about the revision of the hypothesis or theory.

      Q. You said that science seeks to understand the natural world through natural explanations. Is that important?
      A. Yes, that's critical. The science, by definition, limits itself self-consciously, methodologically, to natural explanations. And that means that anything like a supernatural reality or transcendent reality, science is simply not wired to pick up any signals of it, and therefore any reference to the supernatural simply cannot be part of scientific discourse. And this is the way that science carries on to our present day.

      ... Q. Does this make science at odds with religion?
      A. By no means. Science and religion, as I've written in all of my books, are dealing with two completely different or distinct realms. They can be related, science and religion, but, first of all, they have to be distinguished. The medieval philosopher said, we distinguish in order to relate. And when we have a failure to distinguish science from religion, then confusion will follow.

      So science deals with questions relating to natural causes, to efficient and material causes, if you want to use Aristotelian language. Religion and theology deal with questions about ultimate meaning and ultimate purpose. To put it very simply, science deals with causes, religion deals with meanings. Science asks "how" questions, religion asks "why" questions.

      And it's because they're doing different things that they cannot logically stand in a competitive relationship with each other any more than, say, a baseball game or a baseball player or a good move in baseball can conflict with a good move in chess. They're different games, if you want to use that analogy, playing by different rules.

      Nick, do you think Haught's views on what is science might have been influenced by the fact that he is a Roman Catholic theologian in the same way that Michael Behe's and Ken Miller's views about science might be affected by their belief in a Roman Catholic god?

      And do you think it's impossible for an atheist to ask any "why" questions? Or is it just impossible for them to get an answers?

    6. John Haught did provide some useful testimony under cross-examination ...

      Q. And just because an idea -- excuse me, just because a scientific theory is based on the religious motivations of its proponent does not make that theory, in and of itself, invalid?
      A. No.

      Q. And just because a scientific theory is propounded by an individual who happens to belong to a particular faith does not make that scientific theory invalid, does it?
      A. No.

      Q. And when you talk about genetic fallacy, it would be a fallacy to claim -- a genetic fallacy to claim that a particular theory is invalid because it comes from a particular religious person. Isn't that correct?
      A. That's correct.

      Q. Now, would you agree with this statement: It is not helpful, however, simply to dismiss intelligent design theory, IDT, as a product of ignorance mixed with narrow religious biases? Would you agree with that statement?
      A. Yes. That's not enough of a foundation to dismiss it.

      So, the claims of Intelligent Design Creationism have to be evaluated on their merit and not on the motivations of its proponents.

      The attorney for the defense then asked a bunch of questions about Michael Behe's concept of irreducible complexity and whether evolution could produce an irreducibly complex system.

      Q. Isn't that one of the controversies, though, in science?
      A. It's a controversy between Michael Behe and most of the scientific community.

      Q. So it is a scientific controversy?
      A. Well, I pointed out earlier, when I was asked about do I consider this a controversy, that I don't consider the notion of intelligent design, which is the ultimate explanatory category that Behe appeals to, to be a category within which you can have a real controversy, so no, it's not a controversy.

      Q. Well, what I'm talking about is the complexity of the -- let's say the bacteria flagellum which Michael Behe says is irreducibly complex versus other scientists who say it is not irreducibly complex. That's a scientific controversy. Correct?
      A. Okay, yes.

      Q. Okay. And so it is being debated in the scientific community. Correct?
      A. It's being debated between Michael Behe and maybe a handful of others and then 99 percent of the scientific community on the other side.

      Q. Well, you know, just because a particular theory happens to be in the minority does not make that an invalid theory, does it?
      A. No, it doesn't.

    7. Nullifidian
      Sunday, February 15, 2015 2:27:00 PM

      NickM wrote,

      Contrarian philosophers who snipe at scientists who are doing useful work, and who don't provide a positive account about why science mostly works and other things mostly don't, don't deserve a lot of time.

      Feyerabend never sniped at scientists as scientists, and his "contrarianism" consisted in his denial that there was any set of processes or procedures that one could use to always define what science was to the exclusion of all forms of nonscience.

      Highly debatable. He was known as the "court jester" of philosophy of science -- apparently his own term. Massimo Pigliucci says some of what needs to be said:

      Massimo Pigliucci, "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk", pp. 261-262:

      "Consider the role science now plays in education," Feyerabend continues,

      'Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early stage and in the very same manner as religious "facts" were taught only a century ago.... In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.... Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It as something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer the *most severe* [emphasis in the original] sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.'

      Again, some deconstruction is in order. Apparently, for Feyerabend "facts" about mythical supernatural deities spitting on mud and thereby breathing life into humans are on par with "facts" about the Earth being a planet that rotates around a star. He seems oblivious to the reality that in our society the opinions of scientists are most certainly not accepted in the same way as the pronouncements of religious figures, as clearly demonstrated by the rise of creationism in the public arena in the United States when Feyerabend was writing this nonsense. Moreover, and most outrageously, he has the gall to compare academic debates to the Spanish Inquisition, which sounds like something straight out of a Monty Python skit and which doesn't really deserve an actual rebuttal (one should notice that Feyerabend spent most of his career at the University of California, Berkeley, a *public* institution where his position and salary were not endangered by the silliness of his ideas for a long period from 1958 to 1989, at which time he left for Europe).

    8. (continuing Pigliucci)
      Feyerabend was an optimist at heart, however. "The situation is not as hopeless as it was only a decade ago.... We have learned that there are phenomena such as telepathy and telekinesis which are obliterated by a scientific approach and which could be used to do research in an entirely novel way.... And then -- is it not the case that the Church save souls while science often does the very opposite?" No, Paul, it isn't the case at all. Besides the fact that I'm not sure of what it even *means* to say that science damns souls (or, for that matter, that the church saves them), Feyerabend's uncritical acceptance of pseudoscientific notions such as telepathy and telekinesis is a spectacular illustration of what is wrong with the "anarchic" approach to knowledge: it leads to a hodgepodge of good stuff and sheer nonsense, with no way to separate the chocolate from the manure, so to speak.

      Feyerabend goes on to call for a "formal separation between science and state" analogous to the separation of church and state affirmed by the United States Constitution. Were that to actually occur, all public funding of science would cease, and science would be left in the hands of large for-profit corporations, the very same guys who swored that there is no link between smoking and lung cancer, and who had the date to "prove" it. Indeed, Feyerabend shamelessly encouraged creationism with his "three cheers to the fundamentalists in California who succeeded in having a dogmatic formulation of the theory of evolution removed from the textbooks and an account of Genesis included" (though to his credit he did also add that "I have no doubt that they [the creationists] would be just as dogmatic and close-minded if given the chance"). The reference was to a temporary victory for young earth creationists, soon reversed by the California courts, but one has to wonder why this is the sort of intellectual and educational landscape that Feyerabend promotes in order to build his intellectual utopia.

    9. If you have a problem with that, then your task is 'simple': solve the demarcation problem. Otherwise, you have to admit that Feyerabend had a point.

      The demarcation "problem" for science is no more difficult than it is for demarcating democracy and dictatorship, capitalism and communism, etc. First of all, either these words (science, pseudoscience, democracy, dictatorship, capitalism, communism, etc.) have meaning as typically used, or they don't. If you think they don't have meaning, then there's probably no hope you. If you do think they have meaning, then you actually do agree that there is some meaningful demarcation between these terms, and that occasional gray areas don't undermine this basic point. Night and day have gray areas also, that doesn't mean we can't tell them apart. Second, it's pretty easy to name the basic "ballpark" features of science: explanation of natural phenomena by natural processes and testing these explanations with empirical data.

      In any case, it's not anybody's job to "be constructive" and come up with an account of science that flatters the preconceptions of scientists and elevates their work above that of other disciplines if the person is not convinced that such flattery and elevation is warranted. If you want to critique Feyerabend, then you should do what you're complaining he didn't.

      You admit that science basically "works", or at least you say that Feyerabend sometimes admits this. So it's not a matter of flattering and elevating science and scientists, it's a matter of explaining the data, when the data is that science basically works. Arguably, yes, this is an important job for philosophers of science, and for those commenting on the demarcation issue. They are good at their jobs when they succeed at giving a decent account of the data, and they are bad at their jobs when they claim there is no difference between science and pseudoscience and that "anything goes" and despite this somehow science magically works at explaining and predicting the natural world, and other things mysteriously don't.

    10. Nick M- YOU don't know the basics of the ID "issue". You conflate and equivocate at every turn.

    11. So, the claims of Intelligent Design Creationism have to be evaluated on their merit and not on the motivations of its proponents.

      Given that there are finite resources available for evaluating all the possible claims out there, one can certainly use the motivations of its proponents when deciding if a claim should be tested in the first place or simply rejected out of hand.

    12. The motivations of materialistic atheists are very clear and that is why we can reject their claims out of hand.

    13. NickM says,

      Second, it's pretty easy to name the basic "ballpark" features of science: explanation of natural phenomena by natural processes and testing these explanations with empirical data.

      That may seem pretty easy for you but I have a different definition of science and there are even more definitions held by others.

      John Wilkins discusses the "Demarcation Problem"
      Territorial demarcation and the meaning of science
      Sean Carroll: "What Is Science?"
      What Is "Science" According to George Orwell?
      Science Doesn't Have All the Answers but Does It Have All the Questions?
      John Wilkins writes about accommodationism
      What's Wrong with Michael Ruse's View of Accommodationism?
      Nick, you are entitled to your opinion even if I and others disagree with the way you define science. Nobody has come up with a universal definition and nobody can say with any authority what science is and what science is not.

      I don't agree with Laudan that the situation is hopeless but I do agree with most philosophers that the demacation problem has not been solved.

      Although you have the right to a particular point of view, you do not have the right to impose your opinion, and that of NCSE, on everyone else by getting some judge in Pennsylvania to rule that your opinion is correct and everyone else is wrong.

      Judges do not get to decide what science is.

    14. If you think they don't have meaning, then there's probably no hope you.

      It's always nice to see arguments proceeding smoothly by the simple expedient of ruling opposing views out of court.

      If you do think they have meaning, then you actually do agree that there is some meaningful demarcation between these terms, and that occasional gray areas don't undermine this basic point.

      So what if I do? Just because you make an analogy between these concepts (and indeed, it can be shown that different eras and different people do see these terms differently. For example, just look up what Plato thought "democracy" meant: his picture of it is not anything like the sense it is used to describe 20th/21st century Western democracies), it doesn't follow that science is in the same class. Analogies are actually worse than useless here, because you first you need to show that the thesis behind the analogy is sound, and then you have to show that it actually is analogical. It would seem to be easier to simply solve the demarcation problem outright. Not that you have, because you haven't actually named any characteristics exclusive to science.

      Second, it's pretty easy to name the basic "ballpark" features of science: explanation of natural phenomena by natural processes and testing these explanations with empirical data.

      So then homeopathy is a science. We have the explanation of healing of ailments, which is certainly natural phenomena, by means of the principle of dilution and the explanation for why the cure remains as potent even when not a trace of the healing chemical remains is the "water memory" retained by the water. Granted, as a natural explanation, it's a bit obscure, but then so are the mechanisms in many of the papers put forth in theoretical physics journals. Nor is seeking a natural explanation unique to science. My plumber seeks a natural explanation when my toilet backs up (one possible answer: my girlfriend flushed her tampon), and yet we don't call plumbing a science. The plumber's hypothesis is tested by unclogging the toilet, and homeopathy can and has been tested by scientific means. Some people have even claimed to find empirical support for "water memory". Furthermore, the insistence on empirical testing doesn't address the most interesting part of any scientific investigation: the formulation of hypotheses. Science constantly exists in the interstices of the known and the unknown, but your own account would turn science into a kind of engineering. So where does that leave this solution to the demarcation problem?


    15. So it's not a matter of flattering and elevating science and scientists, it's a matter of explaining the data, when the data is that science basically works.

      Great. Let's take for granted that this is one of the jobs of philosophy of science: it is still not any philosopher's job to explain why science works in a way that you find congenial. You're begging the question by assuming that the proper explanation will flow from an account that shows that science is fundamentally different and distinct from all forms of non-science. But philosophers aren't going to just take your word for that, and that's what Feyerabend's Against Method was all about: he examined the accounts of the naive empiricist, the Popperian, and the "Lakatosian" (if that's not a thing, it is now) by showing that the historical accounts of how science has progressed—and Feyerabend didn't claim that it didn't—violate the precepts laid down in each of these attempts to solve the problem of demarcation.

      They are good at their jobs when they succeed at giving a decent account of the data....

      In other words, they're good at their jobs when they're giving you stories that conform to what you want to hear about science. That is your standard of what counts for a "decent" contribution to the philosophy of science.

      I'm not going to deal with the sections from Pigluicci because it's just too depressing to see someone who styles himself as a philosopher behaving in practice as a polemicist with a severe reading comprehension problem. I will merely confine myself to observing that Pigliucci has rendered Feyerabend's thought with the same accuracy and care that Barry Arrington treated Nietzsche's just the other day, and that you should read Against Method and Science in a Free Society before taking Pigliucci at his word.

  2. Reading across all these it occurs to me, again, that an underlying problem of the whole discussion is that both the 'science cannot comment on the supernatural' crowd and the 'it can, too' crowd generally breezily assume that supernatural actually means anything and that everybody knows what it means.

    Well, I don't. Maybe somebody can help me out here. I have tried for years now to grasp what is meant with it, but no suggestion that is out there makes any sense:

    Violation of natural law? If that happens, we have to assume that we don't yet have a correct understanding of the laws, not that there aren't any. Not least because the possibilities are exhausted with the following two options: regularity and stochasticity. And if n is big enough, stochasticity also turns into regularity.

    Stuff we don't understand? Ah, so combustion would have been supernatural a few thousand years ago but now it isn't?

    Stuff done by supernatural beings? Then what is a supernatural being? Doesn't really help. I guess the idea is that stuff done by god cannot be predicted because god would be a person and not a simple physical law, but then again history, archaeology, social science, psychology and economics are constantly dealing with the behaviour of people, who are also persons, so what is the difference?

    I have nothing. So without a clear meaning of supernatural, what am I to even make of a sentence like 'science cannot comment on supernatural claims'? It is as meaningful as 'science cannot comment on kjehrkjshfdkj'.

    The truth of the matter is this: If any given claim currently booked under 'supernatural' were true, be it spiritism, magic or deism, we would have scientists working on it in every major university right now. There would be institutes where researchers commune with spirits to find out interesting facts that could not otherwise be obtained, there would be lecturers teaching Counter-Curses 101, and the departments of theology would actually be about something, with the added benefit that all of them, worldwide, would completely agree in their teachings.

    That science doesn't work like that is not because any of that wouldn't be science but simply because all of it is empirically unsupportable.

    1. What process should we use to discuss these questions? Should we go at it scientifically by looking for evidence and employing rational thought (logic) or should we use some other way of knowing? :-)

    2. Not sure I understand; my point was that I agree with you about creationism being failed science instead of non-science. (Although I would limit its definition to empirical matters.)

    3. May I ask why, or even whether, calling something "not science" rather than "bad science" should put it beyond the reach of scientific examination? Do I have to believe in NOMA?

    4. In the context of the USA this is not about whether it is within that reach, rather the problem is that there is no constitutional rule against teaching bad science, so some people fear that admitting it is failed science will allow it being taught.

      That being said, this might also partly be about the "science takes no stance on religious beliefs" type declarations by some scientific organisations. And here I would say, they are wrong because religious beliefs are about empirical matters; but also, at least to me, there are a few things that are "not science" and therefore beyond the reach of scientific examination, so that for them such a declaration would make sense. Pure, abstract logic and math come to mind.

  3. Intelligent Design makes testable claims, ie claims that can be shown to be false. It is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    What else does it need to be considered science?

    Evolutionary and genetic algorithms model evolution by intelligent design- what would a model of unguided processes like drift and natural selection look like?

    Nature tends towards the simple and yet you expect us to believe it created us. Nature just doesn't have a mechanism capable of such a thing. Don't blame us.

    1. "Intelligent Design makes testable claims, ie claims that can be shown to be false."

      I actually agree. And every falsifiable prediction of ID yet made has so far been falsified.

      "Evolutionary and genetic algorithms model evolution by intelligent design"
      No they don't.

      "what would a model of unguided processes like drift and natural selection look like?"
      Evolutionary and genetic algorithms.

      "Nature tends towards the simple"

      Go put some sugar on your frying pan, then turn up the heat to maximum. Then come back 5 hours later. Has the majority of the mass of the sugar become more or less complex?

      Here's sugar: Sucrose
      Here's what you will find on your frying pan: Asphalt

      I don't know what definition of "simple" you're operating under, but the latter isn't simpler under any meaningful definition.

      All it takes to generate complexity is energy.

    2. LoL! No one is arguing about mere complexity. And not one of ID's claims has been falsified. You are either lying or deluded.

  4. Joe, nobody is saying that ID can't be examined scientifically. And I think that Larry is arguing that asserting that ID is not science is starting from a false premise.

    Yes, ID can make testable predictions. But what I see is a complete lack of ID proponents doing this. Is this because they don't know where to start, or because they are afraid of the outcome? But rather than develop testable hypotheses, ID proponents seem to exert all of their effort in trying to find flaws in evolutionary theory.

    1. Your ignorance means nothing and you have already said that there isn't any evolutionary theory. ID has a testable hypothesis. Evolutionism does not.

    2. G says:
      "ID has a testable hypothesis."

      You've mentioned this in quite a few threads already, but clearly you have neglected to post it. Do tell, what is the testable hypothesis of ID?

    3. Do tell, what is the testable hypothesis for unguided evolution?

      From Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

      1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

      2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

      3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

      4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

      What does your position have?

    4. This list of concepts does include things that are, or could be, testable. Some ideas to test:

      1. Some biological systems (or subsystems) are irreducibly complex.

      2. High information content (specified complexity) can only result from design, not naturalistic mechanisms.

      Biologists have tested these hypotheses. As with all abstract hypotheses, we test them by finding examples and seeing if they are irreducibly complex or have such "specified complexity" that they can't be produced by naturalistic mechanisms. What have the result been?

      Systems held up as examples of irreducible complexity (blood clotting, the bacterial flagellum) have been found not to be irreducibly complex. They could (and apparently did) evolve. Therefore, there is no strong reason to believe that any biological system is irreducibly complex, although of course many systems haven't been tested yet.

      The "high information content (specified complexity)" hypothesis suffers from two problems. First, examples offered by ID people have turned out to be not so complex they can't evolve. More importantly, the ID people haven't been able to define "high information content (specified complexity)" in a way that can really be tested. They should be able to define so that we can identify "high information content" when we see it. What really happens, though, is that someone says, "that's too complex to evolve," biologists figure out that it could evolve, and the ID people say, "No, that wasn't really high information content, we meant something else by it." But they never do say exactly what "high information content" or "specified complexity" really is.

      So, although the four steps presented above would be convincing if their parts were true, the parts aren't true and therefore we are not led to the conclusion that intelligent design constitutes the best explanation for biological systems.

    5. LoL! You have nothing to show that unguided evolution can produce any flagella, blood clotting system nor any multi-protein system. Every step I laid out still holds true. Your whining will not change that.

      You can't even produce testable hypotheses for unguided evolution producing those systems. You have NOTHING but lies and deception.

    6. I don't expect honesty. I just like exposing their hypocrisy.

      Don't you?

    7. Actually, I made a mistake. The blood clotting mechanism looks irreducibly complex -- now, in humans. There are I think four proteins required, and if one is missing the process is very very slow. However, there are species with 3, 2, or even 1 protein performing blood clotting, and they work just fine. Therefore, we can reasonably hypothesize that proteins were added to this process one at a time, and there is no need to assume that four proteins needed to evolve to clot blood cooperatively all at once. Same negation of "irreducibly complex" as a problem for evolution, but more complicated reason.

    8. Blood clotting was one major breaking point in the Dover case, Behe had to admit under oath that whales lack blood clotting factor XII , but have fully functional blood clotting never the less. IC was proven wrong, whale blood does clot even without this factor.
      Same goes for 'the' flagellum, there are many thousands of types of flagellum. There isn't one distinct type. Some bacteria use flagellum genes for other purposes.
      Another fun IC fail was the eye, in nature we can find examples of patches of light receptors to the best 'designed' eye on a shrimp.

      Hey Joe, can you expain the human appendix in IC terms?
      Can you explain why design frog has a huge difference in genome size between the different species? Why some frogs have larger genome sizes than humans, who are obviously less complex beings compared to frogs?

      If software were designed as the human genome, with 90% non-functional code, broken procedures and code producing wrong output, our smart phones wouldn't have enough memory to hold the OS on it's own, and you can forget installing a simple calculator.

  5. If the discussion of naturalism is being moved to this thread I'll take the liberty of posting the following again here.

    It is not that science is restricted to methodological naturalism, it is that nothing is necessarily excluded - by my definition.

    My definition is not the standard one and, as a principle, is very simple. 'Naturalism" is to be understood as the study of the 'natures' of things, where 'nature' is what makes a thing itself and not something else. 'Methodological naturalism' is the methodical investigation of such phenomena, whether observable or even conceivable, using an evolving suite of tools and procedures that have been developed - and are still being developed - by the human enterprise of science.

    From this perspective there is nothing that is not grist to the mill of science, from the apparently random behavior of virtual 'particles' in the vacuum of space to ghosts, ghoulies and things that go 'bump' in the night to gods or God. From this perspective 'supernatural' is an empty set, a placeholder for something we do not yet understand, an ill-defined and incoherent concept.

    From this perspective, yes, Intelligent Design can be studied scientifically. Trying to find a fingerprint of the intervention of non-human intelligent agents in the world around us is a perfectly legitimate scientific enterprise. Whether the Intelligent Design movement as a whole can be said to be doing good science is another question. In my view, spending ninety per cent of your time attacking science in general, one theory in particular and the people who support them is not, whatever else it may be, doing good science. This not to say that exposing the faults and weaknesses of a particular theory is bad science, it's a part of science, but Einstein didn't spend ninety per cent of his career complaining about the shortcomings of Newtonian physics and attacking 'Newtonists', he developed a better theory. That is what science tries to do.

    1. We don't attack science as evolutionism is not science. And yours doesn't have a theory.

    2. "Evolutionism" is a strawman of your own creation. It is as much a fantasy as the belief that today's Intelligent Design movement is anything other than neo-Paleyism - "...the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory" to quote William Dembski.

      And Uncommon Descent has become forum for jeering at any aspect of current research that can be portrayed as ridiculous to a lay audience, quite obviously as part of a campaign to undermine the credibility of contemporary science as a whole.

      Why would they bother? Because, apart from a few natural contrarians and mavericks, most see science, rightly or wrongly, as a threat to the religious beliefs that are most dear to them One measure of that fear is that you and any other denizen of UD are able to post quite freely here and at other pro-evolution fora while the majority of ID critics are now banned from UD and ENV rarely allows commentary of any sort.

      It is not science that is afraid of open discussion.

    3. No, Ian, I did not create evolutionism. You are ignorant.

    4. Hey joey, what is your definition of "evolutionism"?

    5. Ask Mayr, he used the word "evolutionism".

    6. I asked YOU what YOUR definition of "evolutionism" is, joey. COWARD.

  6. Ackshully, the central question of law isn't whether ID is science. There's no constitutional prohibition on teaching bad science or even non-science. The question is whether the attempt to teach ID has the purpose of advancing religion. If ID isn't science, that's only relevant as an argument in favor of it being something else, and the only something else that would be relevant is religion.

    It doesn't matter whether ID is a scientific hypothesis. It matters how the practitioners of ID study that hypothesis and what reasons the proponents of ID have for putting it into schools. Are their motivations to teach science, or are they to advance religion? ID, considered in the abstract, may be a subject amenable to scientific study. ID, as practiced by IDiots, is Christian apologetics, nothing more. And that's the point.

    1. Some philosophers have expressed misgivings about using personal motivation to determine whether something should be taught or not.

      Many religious scientists are motivated to teach that there are many ways valid of knowing, including religion. It's not a good idea, in my opinion, to forbid teaching this just because we know about their religious bias.

      I'm pretty sure that Francis Collins would teach a different course on human evolution that the one I teach because he believes that human evolution has been guided by god. That makes humans exceptional. Should his course be banned because we know that he's an evangelical Christian?

      There's also the atheist scientist who teaches that evolution has no purpose or goal. Michael Ruse, and others have wondered whether the courts would ban this kind of teaching on the grounds that it is an attack on religion.

      That may seem silly but it's the sort of things philosopers worry about when they analyze the logic of an argument.

      I think it's a good idea to debate the truth or falseness an IDEA rather than try to attack it on the basis of the personal motivations of its proponents.

    2. [H]e believes that human evolution has been guided by god. That makes humans exceptional.

      The courts that are tasked with deciding disputes in the US take into account both motivation and effect. Let's suppose Dr. Collins says to his young students (the cases deal, pretty much without exception, with education in grades K-12) that human evolution has been guided by God so that humans will be exceptional, the special pinnacle of creation. The courts will consider the effect of this in terms of Dr. Collins, representing the state, establishing religious precepts for these children who are constrained by the power of that same state to be in his classroom. (Obviously the power of the state is hugely different than the power of a child, and that is one of the bases on which the courts approach matters of individual freedom from state power under the Constitution.)

      On the other hand, if Dr. Collins has the religious *intent* to show the children how very special the course of evolution has made human beings, and that admiration comes across, though not explicitly as something caused by God, then it seems to me there is nothing for children, parents or courts to bother with.

    3. If ID is valid science, then it should be winning over more and more scientists and sooner or later we will get (I dare say it) a paradigm shift. Then ID will become established science and we can start teaching it in school.

      There's no reason to start babbling about uncertain and unestablished scientific subjects in highschool or earlier. At that level children should be learning about the process of science, critical thinking and something about what the currently established scientific views are.

      Then later when they decide to go to university, there might be some value in introducing controversial subjects like potentially "upcoming" scientific theories.

      Of course, all this presumes ID is valid science (some of it could be, if we divorse it from the unfalsifiable nonsense pushed at UD and other religious propaganda mills) and that it will stand the test of time and start winning over lots of biologists.

      The problem for ID here is twofold: 1) The little of ID that is valid science, in the sense that it makes empirically testable predictions, has already been tested and found false. So it's not winning over the biological community by any stretch.
      2) The rest of it is unfalsifiable religious nonsense and stupid arguments against evolution.

    4. Your position can't even muster testable hypotheses nor models. And not one of ID's testable claims have been falsified. You are lying. And ID is not anti-evolution.

    5. In addition to some other dishonest drivel, joey dishonestly barked:

      "And ID is not anti-evolution."

      joey, first of all, it really doesn't matter whether you're anti-evolution or not because evolution occurs whether you are against it or not, although it is accurate to say that you are "anti" when it comes to accepting that evolution occurs in the ways that it occurs.

      So, let's get something straight right off the bat: 'evolution' is not the same thing as 'evolutionary theory'. Evolutionary theory consists of scientific observations, evidence, documentation, inferences, hypotheses, methods, research avenues, explanations, etc., that pertain to 'evolution'.

      Now, here's something else you said:

      "Why don't you guys just tell the truth? That being that evolution is NOT being debated. What is being debated is two fold-

      1- Is evolution telic or blind and undirected?"

      2- What is the extent evolution can change a population? If it can't get beyond prokaryotes, as the evidence suggests, then your position is a non-starter."

      But joey, if evolution is telic, forseeing, and directed (as you believe and in the way(s) that you believe) and especially by the allegedly all-powerful 'allah-yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost' (as you believe) then why "can't" evolution "get beyond prokaryotes"? Why would it be impossible or even slightly difficult for telic, forseeing, directed ('guided') evolution that is intelligently designed-created by your chosen sky daddy to "get beyond prokaryotes" or to get beyond any other limited "extent" that you imagine in your extremely limited mind?

      You say you're not anti-evolution and that evolution isn't being debated, so you 'appear' (deceptively) to be saying that you agree that evolution occurs as depicted by evolutionary theory except that evolutionary theory should posit telic, forseeing, directed (guided) causes/processes/events (in the way that you believe and claim) in its depiction of evolution.

      So, what's with the "extent" crap? What's with the "can't get beyond prokaryotes" crap? Why are you putting limits on what you believe and claim is telic, forseeing, directed ('guided') evolution, especially since you believe that evolution is telic, forseeing, and directed ('guided') and 'intelligently designed-created' by your chosen, allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, so-called 'Abrahamic God'?

      You (and most or all of your IDiot-creationist ilk) don't actually accept that evolution occurs anything at all as depicted by evolutionary theory. When it comes to evolution (or actually your distorted view of it) the only things you accept are "Special Creation" of life* and minor ('micro') variations within separate 'kinds' that were/are 'designed-created-guided' by the so-called 'Abrahamic God'. Your beliefs and claims are FAR from an accurate depiction of evolution and evolutionary theory.

      You ARE anti-evolution and anti-evolutionary theory in every way that matters, and your fellow IDiot-creationists are too.

      *Of course you don't actually believe that your chosen sky daddy designed and created ALL life forms (or biological entities), as you've shown with your stupid assertions about diseases and deformities. Your 'perfect, omnibenevolent God' don't create no bad stuff or junk, eh joey?

      "So stop with the lies that everyone who disagrees with evolution agrees to the fixity of species."

      Fixity of species or otherwise, you and your IDiot-creationist ilk are the ones applying absurd limits to the "extent" of evolution.

  7. The science is in the testing not in making claims that are somehowish and ingeneral testable.

    1. ID's claims have been tested and confirmed. OTOH unguided evolution can't be tested as it doesn't make any claims.

    2. Confirmed? LMAO!

      And you're kinda sorta right, joey, but only in a way that demonstrates some of your ignorance: "unguided evolution" doesn't make any claims, and that's because what you call "unguided evolution" is the natural processes/events by which biological entities evolve. There are no "claims" within or made by those processes/events. Evolutionary theory, however, does make claims (to be more precise, evolutionary scientists make claims) that have been and continue to be observed, tested, discussed, debated, documented, reviewed, verified, refined, and discarded or ignored if found to be wrong or unproductive.

    3. Yes, confirmed. Your ignorance still means nothing. And your ignorant spewage still means nothing.

      What evolutionary theory? Why can't you reference it? BTW design is natural, assface.

    4. Design is natural, joey? Then why have you said many times that nature can't have come about via natural means?

      Is your chosen, so-called 'designer-creator-god' natural?

      Was your chosen, so-called 'designer-creator-god' naturally designed-created by something or someone else that was/is natural?

      If you believe that design-creation and your chosen 'designer-creator-god' are natural, why aren't you arguing against your fellow IDiot-creationists who believe and claim that design-creation and the 'designer-creator-god' are supernatural?

      And more specifically, why aren't you arguing against anyone and everyone (including yourself) who believes that the 'designer-creator-god' is the allegedly supernatural 'Abrahamic God'?

      Who the hell do you think you're fooling with your lies and BS, beside yourself and maybe a few other dishonest nitwits?

    5. For the gazillionth time, joey drooled:

      "What evolutionary theory?"

      Yet he wonders why he's not taken seriously by anyone with a clue.

      joey, the extreme darkness that you choose to imprison yourself in and want to imprison everyone else in is abhorrent to people who choose and appreciate light and freedom.

  8. Where many of us get it wrong is treating science as a noun when it is best treated as a verb. Evolution isn't science; ID isn't science. But they can both be examined scientifically. They can both be used to develop testable hypotheses. But, do date, only one of them has done so to any great degree.

    Joe can argue that there is no theory of evolution all he wants, but he also insists that wavelength = frequency. But in some aspect he is correct; there are several theories of evolution being examined. The biggest debate going on now is about the relative importance of the various mechanisms, not about whether or not these mechanisms have been demonstrated (they have).

    1. Where does Joe say wavelength = frequency? Just for laughs.

    2. There isn't a theory of evolution and frequency is defined as the number of waves, ie wavelengths, in a given period. The two share a one-to-one correspondence as there is only one wavelength for each frequency in a given transmission speed.

    3. Hmmm. If all else is kept constant, as wavelengths get bigger the frequency gets smaller, and visa versa. Therefore, wavelength is in an inverse relationship to frequency, not what is usually meant by a one-to-one relationship. It is true that wavelength can be calculated easily from frequency, or visa versa, which is a very nice feature, but wavelength and frequency are not equal. Perhaps you were referring to the ease of calculation, used the wrong terminology (as we all do at times), and are now defending the error although saying something like, "Oops, I meant such-and-such" would have let the issue die down quickly.

    4. One-to-one correspondence. When I change the frequency of a signal generator the wavelength changes accordingly.

    5. Exactly.

      When I change the voltage for a fixed resistance the current changes accordingly.

      Therefore V = I

      Stand back folks, this could be dangerous, it's Joe "logic" at work.

      Plug that into your signal generator.

  9. Diogenes, he first said it on his blog during a rant about global warming. It is about a quarter of the way down the comment thread here:

    Since being called on this, he has doubled down, tripled down, quadrupled down.... I have lost count because it has been carried on through several threads. But his inability to admit a simple error that any of us could have made has resulted in hours of entertainment.

    1. Is it possible to actually be born this stupid or is this the result of years of training ?

      Vicious and ignorant, what a winning combination.

      My apologies to actual robots for the invidious comparison I made to Joe G.

    2. Yes, god help me, I read that thread to the very end:

      Regardless, wavelength = frequency

    3. I have this very distant memory of studying something called Dimensional Analysis back in my high school days.

      It was based on the premise that "Any physically meaningful equation (and any inequality and inequation) must have the same dimensions on the left and right sides" and that "Only commensurable quantities (quantities with the same dimensions) may be compared, equated, added, or subtracted".

    4. So Joe is the kinda fella who can't grasp the difference between gallons per mile and miles per gallon? Interesting but hardly surprising.

    5. Eat me, Piotr. Piotr is the kind of fella that can't support the shit he spews/

    6. Frequency is defined as the number of waves that pass in a given time. Waves are wavelengths.

    7. Joe, you've been in this hole for a long time. Maybe you should stop digging.

    8. LoL! What hole, Piotr? There is one and only one wavelength per frequency per transmission speed. A real one-to-one correspondence.

    9. Therefore 1/T = L

      But who needs that hypothesis when we all know that Joe's god did it.

    10. The one that told you that frequency = wavelength.

      About what you would expect from a deity concocted by nomadic goat herders.

      Seriously Joe, how are we going to establish a relationship based on trust if the first and only thing you do is lie ?

    11. one-to-one correspondence, steve. Learn what that is.

  10. Joe: "
    LoL! What hole, Piotr? There is one and only one wavelength per frequency per transmission speed. A real one-to-one correspondence."

    Your statement may be true but that is not what you originally claimed. Your original claim was that wavelength = frequency, which is wrong regardless of the argument being used because they have different units, and then you defended this rediculous claim my making another false claim (ie, there is only one wavelength per frequency). It wasn't until you were provided with examples where one frequency can have more than one wavelength that you added another condition to your claim (I have kindly bonded it in your quote above).

    But even with all of your back peddling and rationalizations, you have still failed to prove your original claim, which was that wavelength = frequency.

    1. I know what my claim was and I also know the context which I made it. Just because you imps are too stupid to grasp what is being said doesn't mean anything to me.

      The CONSTANT of the formula is a GIVEN. Also I had amended my claim to be frequency = wavelengths.

      Grow up

    2. Joe, nobody is going to hold it against you if you simply said that you were mistaken about frequency = wavelength. What is astounding, although fully consistent with your approach to discussion, it that you have flat out refused to make this simple statement.

    3. Re Joe G.

      Excuse me, the speed of light is a constant for light, not for sound. The speed of sound depends on the observer.

    4. Joe, I think we can all agree that we all make mistakes. I know I make mistakes, I also some times admit to them, even if it is unpleasant to do so.

      Joe G, could you please link to an instance where you admit to having made a mistake. Just once?

    5. joey barked:

      "The CONSTANT of the formula is a GIVEN."

      Only in your stupid, belligerent IDiocy..

      "Also I had amended my claim to be frequency = wavelengths."

      So, after having another of your usual, incorrigible, tantrum throwing, ignorant tardgasms, you think that adding an 's' to wavelength somehow changes the fact that you're an arrogant moron?

      "Grow up"

      You're a boon to the irony meter repair business, joey.

    6. OK so when I tune my transmitter to transmit a different frequency why does it change the wavelength of the carrier if the two are not directly linked? Why does the wavelength of a signal generator change when I change the frequency?

      ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE means the two are equal.

    7. Joe, I'm sorry but you don't even know what "equal" means.

    8. Yes, Piotr, you are sorry. When I adjust the frequency of a signal generator I do so by changing the wavelength of the signal. You arte sorry for not being able to grasp that simple point.

    9. No, Joey. From f = v/λ it doesn't follow that f = λ. If the velocity v is constant (for example, v = c), a uniquely different value of λ corresponds to every f > 0; still, nobody calls this relationship equality. Oops, sorry, you do. Let me try again: nobody but JoeG calls this relationship equality. Maybe "inverse" or "reciprocal" are the words you're looking for. Would you like to buy a vowel?

    10. "ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE means the two are equal.'

      Using Joe logiv:

      e = mc^2 therefore e = c^2
      6 = 12/2 therefore 6 = 2

      Joe, you must be approaching the centre of the earth. Is it warm there?

    11. No Dickshake, that is according to your twisted version of what I said

    12. Piotr, they are just differing numerical representations of the same wave. But thanks for avoiding my explanation. Coward.

    13. They are different, though not independent, parameters of a wave. That doesn't make them "equal" in any generally accepted sense of the word "equal". I almost admire your asinine obstinacy. Practically any other human being would have given up a long time ago, apologised for his or her sloppy usage, and made some effort to improve it. But not Joe G, no sir!

    14. Joe says: "ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE means the two are equal."

      Right. Truth and lies are in a one-to-one correspondence: for every truth, Joe tells one lie. Since "ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE means the two are equal," that means truths are lies. It's Joe-logical.

      This is the way all ID proponents argue:

      1. Make factually false, quite stupid statement.

      2. Get caught by people smarter than yourself.

      3. Attempt to silently replace your really stupid statement with another statement and pretend like that was the one you made in the beginning.

      4. Deny everything, admit nothing and make counter-accusations: accuse the people who just corrected your error of being stupid because they just don't get it.

      5. Your new statement from step 3 is also shown to be factually false and probably stupid.

      6. Go to step 3 and repeat.

      7. Scientists are arguing with you. There's a controversy! Teach the controversy!

    15. I was going to ask Joe how amplitude fits into this relationship, but I am afraid of the possible response.

    16. joey barfed:

      "But thanks for avoiding my explanation. Coward."

      NO ONE avoids explanations (and questions) more than you do, joey. COWARD.

    17. There is one to one correspondence between natural numbers and integers:

      0 -> 0
      1 -> 1
      2 -> -1
      3 -> 2
      4 -> -2

      According to Joe G that means they are equal:

      0 = 0
      1 = 1
      2 = -1
      3 = 2
      4 = -2

      Joe - it's very late, but not to late to stop digging. I'll repeat after Piotr: just admit that you've done mistake and move on.

  11. NickM writes,

    Nagel does not accept Meyer's conclusions but he endorsed Meyer's approach, and argued in Mind and Cosmos that Meyer and other ID proponents, David Berlinski and Michael Behe, "do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met."

    I pretty much agree with Nagel about Behe and Meyer. It's not that easy to show why they are wrong and most scientists don't understand evolution well enough to do a credible job.

    Actually, you have on many occasions heaped more than a little scorn on Meyer, Behe, and ID generally. I agree that most scientists don't understand evolution well enough to dispute Meyer and Behe well off the top of their heads (and probably more importantly, they don't understand well enough Meyer and Behe's arguments and their history of shifting goalposts). But this isn't saying much. Most scientists don't understand radiometric dating well enough, off the top of their heads, to dispute young-earth creationist claims.

    However, most scientists would know enough to know that someone has probably looked into the issue more than they have, and they know enough to do a little due diligence, look up the relevant work, and they could assemble at least a basic response after a few hours' research and give some reasonable account of why the scientific mainstream position is based on something solid. Ditto for ID.

    I think that such due-diligence basic research is pretty much one's academic duty. At least that's the case if someone is going to deign to issue a prominent statement on an issue like ID or creationism, in a book or article. But, Nagel seems not to exhibit even these basic research capabilities on the ID issue. My experience has been the same with Newall and Plantinga.

    I know having someone in that list doesn't mean you endorse them, but I'm pretty sure the point of the list was something like "Hey look, there's a lot of serious philosophical debate about science demarcation and the role it played in Kitzmiller." I'm just pointing out that several of these anti-Kitzmiller sources are, basically, cranky.

    You may want to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you but I take a different approach. It's not obvious to me that anyone, including you, has an airtight definition of science.

    We don't need a perfect definition of science, we just need a ballpark definition. See Pennock. Words manage to have meaning without perfect definitions. Democracy, dictatorship, capitalism, communisim, skepticism, gullibilty, etc. - it is important to acknowledge that these terms have positive content and that one can meaningfully endorse one and criticize another, all without having perfect definitions. Ditto for e.g. science versus pseudoscience, or secular vs. sectarian. The alternative is basically relativism and absurdity -- we can't tell the difference between democracy and dictatorship, between capitalism and communism, between science and pseudoscience.

    My problem with the anti-demarcationists is that they have a real tendency to make the perfect the enemy of the good. They end up assisting the kooks of the world, usually as a byproduct of grinding some other axe -- pushing a postmodernist relativism about science, enlisting science in the service of atheism, or enlisting science in the service of ID, to list the three most common patterns.

    1. Nick, all you do is equivocate and conflate. You have no idea what ID says nor what it is arguing against. ID is NOT anti-evolution.

      Neither Meyer nor Behe has shifted goalposts, Nick. Again you arte just confused. And your position can't even muster testable hypotheses nor can it be modeled. That means it is outside of science.

  12. Apparently, Steven Novella of the New England Skeptical Society also takes issue with Prof. Moran's views on methodological naturalism. A few excerpts:

    This is not a religion, however, because it requires no belief, just methodology. Ham’s real problem with this is that when you follow methodological naturalism (science), it works. Really well. The incredible success of the scientific experiment might lead some to conclude that maybe it works because naturalism is actually true, and not just a convenient method for understanding the world.

    Dr. Novella equates science with methodological naturalism. So do I.

    1. If you limit your investigations to only those hypotheses that fit the term "naturalism" then how do you know whether supernatural explanations work or not? The reason why we can say that naturalism "works" is because we have considered supernatural explanations and found them wanting. You cannot possibly conclude that naturalism is actually true if you steadfastly refuse to even consider the alternative.

      The whole idea behind limiting science to methodological naturalism is to leave room for other ways of knowing like religion. In my opinion, science can investigate any question including the question of whether god made bacterial flagella or whether Jesus rose from the dead. That means that science and religion are not compatible.

      Lots of scientists don't want to face that fact so they hide behind methodological naturalism.