June 9, 2006

Some cartoon ID rhetoric sets up another cartoon

Right there in the middle of William Dembski's concerted efforts to restore some semblance of order and respectability to his wayward blog (Uncommon Descent), DaveScot pops up with another of his silly vengence-motivated spleen exudations. Normally he and the other sycophants over there aren't worth the ATP expenditure in typing, but I did notice a couple of his points which represent the more daft wing of ID argumentation and thought it might be fun to poke them with a stick.

In response to someone who asks what Michael Behe and Guillermo Gonzalez have been up to, he says,
"No, I haven’t really heard from Behe or Gonzalez lately but maybe I missed Behe and Gonzalez because I was preoccupied in hearing ID recently supported by the President of the United States, the Governor of Texas, and the Governor of Florida as well as some U.S. Senators and other state governors."
How's that for a goofy bit of argument from really-really-really inappropriate and unqualified authority?

He goes on,
"What Wesley and his motley crew just don’t get is that the science argument in ID vs. NDE is over. ID may or may not be mathematically provable but it is intuitively obvious to any objective student of intracellular molecular machinery. Furthermore, to the same objective student, the initial assembly of said molecular machinery being assigned to random interaction of primitive chemical precursors doesn’t even pass the giggle test. "
Ah, yes, the incisive and thoughtful "...it is intuitively obvious..." argument. Coupled with the previous assertion, DS has summarized the two strongest arrows in the ID quiver - "We know it when we see it, and lots of big shots see it, so pbthththththt!"

He finishes the above paragraph with this,
"ID is a given to anyone without a subjective commitment to a ludicrous contrary narrative."
Of course the "ludicrous contrary narrative" he's talking about here is the product of a couple hundred years and thousands of man-hours of research and documentation which establish the empirical reality of evolutionary biology. Call me crazy but I think that can withstand the intellectual challenge of two Bushes and a Perry.

More importantly, this "ludicrous contrary narrative" is the result of a sea change in how science and religion were viewed. It's the result of a cultural imperative to take convenient but errant "intuition" out of the mix when investigating empirical reality. It's the upshot of centuries spent trying to leave the shackles of superstition behind.

But back to the good-old-days of supernatural explanations is just where most of the ID crowd would like to take us ("Hey, it's okay to let superstition back into science, but just in this one area."). And this regressive mindset dovetails nicely with another I(neptly) D(rawn) cartoon I've just finished.

ID 'Toons #4 - D.I. Time Machine


Anonymous Chris said...

Let's not forget this part:

"As I’ve said many times before, there is only one prop still holding up the NDE narrative and that is the establishment clause of the 1st amendment."

Damn that pesky Bill of Rights! The sooner we get rid of it, the better!

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Leo S said...

Hi Robert,

I attempted a couple of posts on Uncommon Descent (naturally not very supportive of ID or some of the ridiculous comments there - "What has any evolutionist ever contributed to science?" Couldn't believe that one).
It was only afterward that I read Dembski's rules for posting, namely that critics of ID would most likely not have their voices heard. Have you ever had any success posting to his blog? Doesn't this censorship run counter to the "teach the controversy" philosophy of hearing both sides?


1:01 PM  
Blogger RLC said...


I tried once to respond to Dembski on his blog after he took issue with something I wrote. It was a fairly innocuous comment, sort of an opening to discussion, but it never saw the light of day.

He did take the time to tell me that if I didn't make too many waves I could stick around. I never bothered again.

It's clearly a policy of cowardice. They delude themselves that the goal is polite, measured exchange, but the slightest bit of familiarity with the way they monitor and censor over there makes it clear they are intellectually gutless.

I say this with no resentment whatsoever, I neither want nor need access to that forum. But I've heard of too many blocked posts and banned posters to view their actions with anything but the utmost disdain.

The entire concept is analogous with democratic governance. It's a messy business, and now and then someone proposes to limit political access with the expressed idea of keeping things neat and clean. But in the end, these people nearly always turn out to be keeping things neat and clean for their perspective by limiting contamination from alternate ideas.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Leo S said...

Hi Robert,

I stand corrected! Attached are my two posts, with Dembski's comments intermingled, and my latest response, which from the sounds of things will likewise never see the light of day. I hope this is enjoyable, apologies for the length of this post.

Leo S

I’ve never been shy about being the sole voice of dissent in any conversation, and seeing how everyone on this post list seems to be preaching to the choir (couldn’t resist the pun with this crowd), let me ask a question of the group:

Are we now considering as legitimate sources of science and/or education policy the Bobsy, excuse me, Bush Brothers and various US Senators? If so, isn’t it hypocritical to affirm George Bush’s opinion on ID (I doubt many would disagree his scientific qualifications are dubious at best) but disparage his choice of judge (he appointed the “activist” Jones, for those who didn’t know) when that same judge makes a ruling based on his interpretation of the US Constitution (perish the thought!) rather than toeing the party line?

I’d also like to hear from anyone who’d care to comment as to why the Discovery Institute itself disavowed the policy of the Dover school board, and pulled its support from the defense causing a very public dispute with the Thomas Moore Center?

And for the person who made the analogy about the Big Bang and the CBR, that is a theory that is observable, testable, and falsifiable, and thereby makes it the polar opposite of ID, which shares none of those qualities (if anyone can describe in detail a test which would prove ID false, I’d love to hear it.)

Are we now considering as legitimate sources of science and/or education policy the Bobsy, excuse me, Bush Brothers and various US Senators?

Why not? The other side is willing to have federal judges determine what is and is not science. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

why the Discovery Institute itself disavowed the policy of the Dover school board

DI’s position is that ID should not be mandated material in public schools. They might have also known about the flaws in the defense’s case such as the school board member asking if no one was going to stand up for Jesus, trying to hide the source of the Pandas and People books donated to the school, and the creation science lineage of the book. I don’t recall DI ever “pulling its support”. I don’t think they ever gave any support to pull.

about the Big Bang and the CBR, that is a theory that is observable, testable, and falsifiable,

The Big Bang is not observable. Don’t be silly. It was a one-time event that happened 14 billion years ago (we think). The CBR is a testable prediction of the big bang theory.

if anyone can describe in detail a test which would prove ID false, I’d love to hear it

That would be the same test which confirms the unintelligent evolution of any structure that ID claims cannot evolve without intelligent agency. As soon as you tell me how to confirm unintelligent evolution I’ll tell you how to falsify intelligent design. Fair enough? -ds

Comment by Leo1787 — June 14, 2006 @ 11:32 am

To reply to Comment #8 by Charlie, you have to be kidding right? Just to name a few things in the last 150 years that the study of evolution has contributed to our daily lives: antibiotics, better farming via more effective pest control techniques, and oh yeah, the sequencing of the human genome, which I won’t expand on further.

If you really believe the study of genetics, and thereby evolution, has nothing to do with these things, all I can say is, pray you never get sick, you will need medical science, which you obviously don’t believe in.

None of these things demonstrate that random mutation plus natural selection can transcend the species barrier. These are examples of descent with modification where the descendent is only trivially changed and is at most a different sub-species. Sequencing the human genome has nothing to do with how it came to exist. You’ve got one more chance to demonstrate you’re not a stupid little troll before I boot your ass out of here. -ds

My Reply:

First of all, kudos for publishing my comments, I admit that I read your policy afterward, and therefore didn't expect to be posted.

Second, the judge in question had the responsibility of determining whether ID violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which last I heard (enterpreting the Constitution) is in a judge's job description. I don't recall the President's job description including responsibility for science education policy. That aside, is he really the spokesman you want? If so, its your (ID's) funeral. Considering Behe himself admitted under oath that his definition of science would have to include astrology, I'd sooner trust a federal judge.

Third, while you're correct that the DI's position is not to teach ID in schools, it had agreed, at least according to the Thomas Moore Center, to supply a number of expert witnesses, including Stephen Meyer, Director for the Center of Science and Culture. Later all DI witnesses refused to be deposed, and that is what I meant by "pulling" support. I don't know if the DI or TMC is telling the truth, I was sincerely asking for commentary on that point from anyone who knows. But it seems clear that there was some discrepancy over how much or how little support the DI was going to give to the defense.

Fourth, when referring to "observable" I meant CBR, obviously I realize no one could have physically observed the Big Bang.

Fifth, confirming "unintelligent evolution" is NOT the same as falsifying ID, although that's exactly what I expected someone to say. Rather, make a prediction within the realm of ID, design a test or series of tests based on physical observations, and determine if the prediction was correct. Confirming evolution has nothing to do with that whatsoever. Proving that lead cannot be transmuted into gold does nothing to prove the origins of gold, it merely proves alchemy is false.

Sixth, I did not set out to prove or disprove random mutation plus natural selection transcends the species barrier. My intention was to answer Charlie's assertion that the study of evolution hasn't contributed anything to science in 150 years. Slice and dice the semantics any way you want, but genetics (and thereby the development of new antibiotics for example) was predicted by Darwin, though he did not know the mechanism by which information is passed from one generation to the next.

Lastly, as for me being a troll, sticks and stones...I've been called way worse, boot me if you like, I've said what I had to say. And contrary to the tactics you have chosen, I do not resort to name calling, I admit I lean a bit toward sarcastic, but I didn't endeavor to call anyone "stupid" or any other such simply because I disagree with them.

9:38 AM  
Blogger RLC said...

Good for you for maintaining your demeanor while defending your arguments.

And, much as it pains me to admit, kudos to UD for not booting you out of there.

[Note that the comments in response to your post are from DaveScot, who moderates the blog, not Dembski.]

10:26 AM  

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