Patrick’s CSI Thread

As requested a continuation of what was formerly Mathgrrl’s CSI thread

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72 Responses to “Patrick’s CSI Thread”


  1. 1 Toronto June 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    “Petrushka: You need more and better laboratory demonstrations”

    Yes, and the only response we accept from them should be in the same form.

    Making them fail in the lab is a more powerful argument for us than any debatre.

  2. 2 Toronto June 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Chris Doyle: “So, they’re not atheists like you, Lizzie. But, they are atheists nonetheless. They actively don’t believe that God is watching so think they can get away with murder.”

    Only someone who thinks like a child would believe that everyone actually behaves like one, and therefore, needs to be treated like one.

    I think this is what we’re really up against.

    • 3 Onlooker June 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      Theists talking about morality is always funny. Let alone some rather “out there” theists talking about their cartoon of the morality of atheists.

    • 4 seversky June 29, 2011 at 4:01 am

      Chris Doyle: “So, they’re not atheists like you, Lizzie. But, they are atheists nonetheless. They actively don’t believe that God is watching so think they can get away with murder.

      I don’t know about atheists but Chris obviously believes he can get away with murder by trotting out that stale argument.

      The answer, Chris, is the same as it has always been and comes in two parts. First, are you really saying that, unless God had said something, you would have not had the slightest inkling that murder was wrong, that if God wasn’t looking you’d be out there murdering away happily like some Old Testament zealot? Second, Euthyphro Dilemma.

  3. 5 Petrushka June 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    “Making them fail in the lab…”

    Now that’s funny.

    Problem is, it’s always easy to make an experiment that fails. Look at how Douglas Axe set up his protein evolution so that he could argue that islands of function are isolated.

    I’ve been in this game since Gould started writing in Natural History, and it’s taken me a while to fully understand how stupid that is.

    The positive benefit of ID is that it forces us to find better and more cogent explanations and arguments. Not that a creationist will ever be convinced, but I think the general argument for evolution has gotten clearer and crisper over the last couple of decades.

    There will be a tipping point where creationism meets the same fate as alchemy and astrology. It will not die, but it will have the same kind of following as homeopathic medicine and other fringe science.

    The last stronghold will be invisible intervention. I know people who fully accept historical evolution, but believe intervention happens at the quantum level, and will be forever hidden from research.

    The intervention temptation is strong. Look at Arthur Clarke’s 2001. In the book he makes it clear that aliens intervened to save the human species from extinction. Some folks just have to see patterns.

  4. 6 Flint June 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    The intervention temptation is strong. Look at Arthur Clarke’s 2001. In the book he makes it clear that aliens intervened to save the human species from extinction.

    True enough. Clarke actually started with that “white man’s burden” stuff with Childhood’s End.

  5. 7 Patrick June 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Last night I received an email from vjtorley apologizing for accusing me of being Seversky. I didn’t ask him for permission to share it, but I thought my response might be of interest to some people here.

    Vincent,

    Indeed, I am not Seversky. I did a quick search on the two sites you mentioned, but didn’t find anything particularly offensive by that pseudonym. Perhaps if you can point me to what you specifically object, I could let you know if I agree with him or not. You may have no need to apologize for ascribing positions to me that I do not hold.

    In any case, I still find your willingness to attack the person rather than the argument and your unwillingness to own up to your motivations to be the most offensive behaviors you’ve exhibited.

    I don’t think you need to take the drastic measure of leaving Uncommon Descent, certainly not on account of any of our interactions. If you choose to leave, let it be for the right reasons.

    Your suggestion that the difference between scientists and Intelligent Design Creationists is simply one of “epistemic lenses” may be accurate in one sense, but it suggests that they are somehow equally justified viewpoints and ignores the clear logical, scientific, and ethical failings of the IDC proponents on Uncommon Descent and elsewhere. Intelligent Design Creationism is a political and religious movement, not a scientific endeavor. There is no scientific theory, or even hypothesis, of Intelligent Design Creationism. There are no testable predictions that could possibly falsify it. When pressed for clear definitions, IDC proponents do everything in their rhetorical power to squirm away. They very clearly don’t want their unsupported claims tested.

    The regulars at Uncommon Descent are among the most intellectually dishonest of any people it has been my misfortune to encounter online. If you can’t see that, I will be happy to provide you with numerous examples of their unscrupulous behavior. These people are trying to destroy science education in this country. That is evil and is why you should leave Uncommon Descent.

    Finally, if you are spending twenty hours a week for the “cause” of Intelligent Design Creationism, you should reallocate some of that effort to learning some actual biology. Working through Miller and Levine’s high school text followed by Futuyma’s “Evolutionary Biology” will give you the basics you need to branch out into more specific fields and to understand some of the peer reviewed research. Popular titles like “Your Inner Fish” and “Why Evolution Is True” will add some color.

    Unless you really think there is a world-wide, multi-generational conspiracy among scientists from a variety of disciplines to hide the truth, you owe it to yourself to learn about modern evolutionary theory before wasting your time with something as scientifically vacuous as Intelligent Design Creationism.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick

    • 8 Neil Rickert June 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks for posting that.

      I’ll make a couple of comments on it.

      The regulars at Uncommon Descent are among the most intellectually dishonest of any people it has been my misfortune to encounter online.

      While that may be correct about some of the regulars, I personally wouldn’t say that it applies to all or even most. I think some of them are just sincerely mistaken and seriously ignorant.

      As for attacking the person, rather than the argument – I suspect that is a natural human tendency when people think that the argument is wrong but are unable to make a good case against it. I’ve seen that sort of response across the internet and on many topics. They present what they see as a clear knock-down refutation of the argument that they are opposing, and cannot understand why their opponent does not agree. So they jump to the conclusion that there is some sort of duplicity. Apparently, they don’t even consider the possibility that their “refutation” misses by a mile.

      Unless you really think there is a world-wide, multi-generational conspiracy among scientists from a variety of disciplines to hide the truth, you owe it to yourself to learn about modern evolutionary theory before wasting your time with something as scientifically vacuous as Intelligent Design Creationism.

      I can’t prove it, but I suspect that many of the ID proponents do believe that there is a huge conspiracy. Or, at least, they believe that there is a lot of group-think going on among evolutionists. What quickly becomes clear from reading UD, is that the regulars there have very confused ideas about evolutionary biology, and very little interest in studying the subject.

      There’s something that I see in my classes. The A-students know that they are A-students. The B-students know that they are B-students. The bottom C-students believe that they are A-students and that the professor is being unfair to them. Those bottom C-students have no ability to assess their own knowledge. And that’s similar to what we often see in creationist and ID arguments against evolution. The opponents of evolution have no ability to assess their own knowledge.

      • 9 Patrick June 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

        While that may be correct about some of the regulars, I personally wouldn’t say that it applies to all or even most. I think some of them are just sincerely mistaken and seriously ignorant.

        I’ll agree with your second sentence, but the ratio of dishonesty to ignorance depends on if you’re measuring volume or headcount.

    • 10 seversky June 30, 2011 at 1:41 am

      Since being banned from Uncommon Descent I have posted mainly at After The Bar Closes and I will certainly admit to being less restrained in my comments there about the former. I have not consciously gone out of my way to be more offensive but I am not prepared to be as tolerant of what I find offensive as before.

      For example, I find Denyse O'Leary's chronic inability to distinguish between journalism and propaganda deeply offensive. The same can be said of advocacy groups like the Discovery Institute whose pretensions to scientific respectability fail to conceal their true purpose, which is to discredit the science they see as the most serious threat to the spread of their faith. Similarly, I also find offensive the likes of Jonathan Wells, believers whose only purpose in studying science is to find the best ways to undermine it.

      Perhaps most offensive, though, is the sanctimonious posturing of some of the so-called Christians on UD. It may seem incongruous for an agnostic/atheist to feel that way but I still have fond memories of some of the people I knew when I was being raised in a liberal, mainstream Protestant church. Theirs was not a boastful or aggressive or evangelizing faith. It was just something they lived quietly as best they could and they "witnessed" by example not cheap sermonizing. In a way, I feel offended for them and those like them because the parochial bigotry on display at UD is not what Christianity at its best is all about.

      There is great danger in being certain of being in possession of some Absolute Truth, be it religious or political or even scientific. We have to many examples of the horrors that can follow to take it lightly. I understand how important their faith is to the believers at UD and I would not try to destroy it even if I could but neither will I be silent about its shortcomings either. And if their faith is true and their God exists in the form that the believe, what possible harm could the doubt or even disbelief of a few of His creatures possibly do?

  6. 14 Reciprocating Bill June 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Oh, SNAP.

    (And not even Seversky should apologize for being Seversky. At least not to UD.)

  7. 16 Flint June 29, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Intellectual dishonesty is difficult to quantify. My reading is, most of those people were trained from just about infancy into grave error. And that error was hardwired into their neural structures during that malleable stage in life when values and beliefs are internalized for the rest of one’s life, for better or worse. The Jesuits without question know what they’re talking about when they say “give me the boy until age seven, and I will give you the man.” By now, their creationism is as intractable as if they’d been victims of foot-binding, head-binding, neck-stretching, etc.

    And so here are all these people who have reached the age of reason far too late to be able to do so. As Michael Shermer points out, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. And seriously, what CAN you do when it becomes abundantly clear that all you believe is resoundingly refuted by volumes of consistent evidence dwarfing what an individual could even learn in a lifetime? On the basis of hardwiring, you CANNOT be wrong. On the merits, you CANNOT be right. So what do you do?

    By observation (and plenty of trials), we know that education does not cure creationism. I read that of all college graduates with biology degrees, 80% who entered as creationists graduated as creationists. The problem isn’t one of ignorance. Many of the UD creationist clealry have studied a great deal of biology, some of it very detailed and arcane to the layman, and have come away from the experience having retained ONLY what made sense within the creationist model – or could be misinterpreted to fit. No amount of further education will alter this pattern.

    As I’ve characterized this process, to the creationist “evidence” is whatever can be sufficiently distorted to fit the theological (neurologically hardwired) requirements, even if they have to make it up. And if it does not fit and can’t be forced to fit, then it is not evidence. How can it be, since it’s wrong?

    So we see the results. They can’t be honest with themselves, that’s prohibited and beyond their control. So perhaps the only possible answer is a huge conspiracy, or the machanations of the devil, or a pattern of vicious persecution, or widespread incompetence, or pervasive dishonesty on the part of the entire scientific community, compounded by rationalizations like the one presented at the Creationist Museum’s first exhibit – “same evidence, different conclusions, no less valid.” But of course, it’s the “same evidence” in the same sense that quote-mining uses the author’s “exact words.” Because once again, if it doesn’t fit it’s not evidence. How can it be when it’s wrong?

    So while I think encouraging a creationist to go out and read standard biology texts can’t hurt, I don’t see how it can help either. The die is long since cast. Standard texts will probably only make him angry that whole generations of young students are being lied to by atheists.

    • 17 Patrick June 30, 2011 at 12:57 am

      Thank you, Flint. It’s nice not to be the most cynical and pessimistic person in the discussion for once. 😉

      I don’t disagree with your argument in general, but we do see people extricate themselves from the fundamentalist mindset on occasion. A recent study shows that up to two-thirds of young people leave evangelical churches in their early twenties. Most of them are probably joining more liberal denominations, to be sure, but increasing the number of supporters of theistic evolution while decreasing the number of creationists is a good trend.

      Hopefully what we’re seeing is the last spasms of a dying theology. It won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty, but eventually it will be over.

      I think that pointing out the flaws in both the arguments and character of intelligent design creationists helps this process along. No one wants to be associated with fools and liars, regardless of whether or not they attend the same church.

      • 18 Flint June 30, 2011 at 1:15 am

        If you can see that they are fools and liars, you are already out of the box. That’s a really good sign, But I have never heard of one prayer, out of trillions, where anyone’s god has advised the supplicant that his opinion is wrong.

        As a child, I raised guppies. Now, the parents have this standard practice of eating the fry, so as soon as you notice any, you must isolate them. What I did was, I inserted a glass partition into the tank, with adults on one (large) side and fry on the other, and kept it there until the fry were too big to eat. The parents at first collided with the (clear) partition, but soon learned it was there.

        When the fry were sufficiently grown, I removed the partition, Within a day all the adult fish realized it was gone, and used the whole tank. It took the fry a couple of weeks to figure it out, and some of them never did, and would swim up to where it used to be, stop, turn, and go back. All their lives. They were imprisoned in a tiny tank!

        And when I read the stuff from the UD folks, and devout creationists elsewhere on the net, I’m reminded of those fish. Trapped for life into a tiny world by barriers in their own minds.

        But when I see documentaries about Jesus Camp, I wonder. When I see the percentage of poll responders who think people were poofed into their present form within historical times, I wonder. When I see 47 of the 51 Miss America contestants saying either that evolution should NOT be taught in public school, or should be given no more than equal billing with magic (in science class!), I wonder. When I see what the Texas Board of Education did with textbooks that will influence national texts for a generation to come, I wonder.

  8. 19 JPH June 30, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Flint: “we know that education does not cure creationism.”

    I have to disagree since that’s exactly how my “creationism” was cured. But first I had to let go of the anxiety that kept me defensive about “attacks” on my religious faith at the time. Once I started understanding the evidence for evolution, I no longer had a desire to cling to a system of thought that only served to promote ignorance and paranoia.

    • 20 Flint June 30, 2011 at 1:38 am

      This is interesting. Would you say that education wasn’t the trigger for the cure, but rather the subsequent result of the cure? I would say, based on my observations as an outsider, that “understanding the evidence for evolution” means you are already cured. The analogy would be, a debilitating desease that is finally cured, but leaves you weak and in need of a lot of healing.

      From what I have read, those who are able to break out of creationism tend to do so not due to evidence or education or logic, but rather because those promoting creationism are seen to be in moral or theological error. And so they can’t be seen as breaking the rules of rationality, UNTIL AFTER they are judged to be breaking the rules of the faith.

      But I admit, this is a very difficult call to make. After all, 20% of creationists completing biology degrees WERE no longer creationists at graduation. So were they “really” creationists going in? Maybe they were “default creationists”, who hadn’t given it much thought and simply made the noises that pleased those around them? But this is too close to a True Scotsman argument.

      So on the merits, I’d say education DOES cure about one creationist in five. But I’d also say that I have NEVER seen any internet creationist even budge. I have seen them repeatedly caught in lies, and the lies pointed out in detail, and they deny it with a straight face every time. Some of them have been repeating 2LoT canards for decades!

      So tell me, how should one approach vjtorley, to get him to see the light? What are the magic words?

  9. 21 Mark Frank June 30, 2011 at 5:31 am

    I am really pushed for time at the moment but glancing through these comments I suspect I don’t agree with a lot. I don’t think the majority of posters on UD are dishonest or more offensive than your average internet blog commenter. I do think they are deeply deluded. But other vices and virtues are distributed in a predictable way – including the illusion that the “other camp” is deeply offensive etc.

    The most distinctive and slightly worrying characteristic (over and above being wrong) is this idea that they are the victims of an international conspiracy of evolutionary biologists. Paranoia can sometimes turn violent and I can see something horrible being done to some professor somewhere who might not even be fully aware of the ID movement.

    • 22 Patrick June 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      I don’t think the majority of posters on UD are dishonest or more offensive than your average internet blog commenter. I do think they are deeply deluded.

      Several of the most prolific commenters on Uncommon Descent routinely make statements, both about science and about other people, that are not in accordance with reality, even after being repeatedly presented with evidence that shows their errors. Does it matter why?

      Whether the dishonesty is based on delusion, ignorance, or willful refusal to educate themselves, the fact remains that they continue to repeat claims that are objectively wrong.

      In most fora I wouldn’t immediately draw the conclusion of lack of intellectual integrity, since simple ignorance is a more likely explanation. The proselytizers at Uncommon Descent no longer have that excuse. Any ignorance on their part is their choice.

      The most distinctive and slightly worrying characteristic (over and above being wrong) is this idea that they are the victims of an international conspiracy of evolutionary biologists. Paranoia can sometimes turn violent and I can see something horrible being done to some professor somewhere who might not even be fully aware of the ID movement.

      Are you trying to compete with Flint for the “Sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and optimism” trophy?

  10. 23 Rose June 30, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Think about the phrase kairosfocus repeatedly says: People “know or should know”.,…

    The ID-ists on UD or anywhere else know or should know that they’re pushing things that are not true, or are at least not supported by any evidence, and they know or should know that they don’t have a clue about science and the scientific method. They also know or should know that their agenda is entirely religious and political, not scientific.

    And what’s more scary? That they’re dishonest, or that they actually believe their bullshit? Does it matter? Either way, they’re crazy and dangerous.

    kairosfocus and the other ID-ists don’t cut any non-ID-ists any slack, so why should I or anyone else cut ID-ists any slack? He and his sycophants demand absolute agreement and adherence to their beliefs, and anyone who doesn’t agree or adhere is accused of being dishonest and many other negative things. Where does it say that I, or anyone else, shouldn’t throw their own shit (like “know or should know”, etc.) right back at them?

  11. 24 Rose June 30, 2011 at 9:32 am

    About the paranoia of ID-ists and other religious people:

    Why are they paranoid? What are they really afraid of? They know or should know that no one can make them change their beliefs. They know or should know that they can practice any religion they like.

    The ones who are paranoid, and especially about science, are that way because they know deep down that their beliefs are based on fantasies and are subject to being regularly exposed as fantasies by scientific discoveries. They fight against science because it is the method by which reality is revealed. They don’t want anything to threaten their fantasies, so they try everything they can to thwart science.

    That they know or should know that their fantasies are not based on anything real, and that they’re afraid of science disproving those fantasies (even inadvertently), but won’t admit it, is DISHONEST. They’re not even honest with themselves. Their entire thought process is based on dishonesty.

    Science has already dis-proven many religious beliefs (not necessarily intentionally), and that scares the shit out of ID-ists, who are really just religious zealots. Religious zealots need their religious crutch and are desperate to defend it against the on-going revelation of reality by science.

  12. 25 Reciprocating Bill June 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

    A lot of this has more to do with community identification than anything else. A comment I once made vis Behe:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=SP&f=14&t=5036&p=63304

  13. 26 Toronto June 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Mark Frank,

    Rose: “They’re not even honest with themselves.”

    Just like a little child, they hide behind the safety of their father and glare suspiciously at a stranger.

    Their father is always right and tells them what’s wrong and what’s right.

    We’re dealing with people that are not yet prepared to accept responsibility for themselves or their actions.

    • 27 Rose June 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      “We’re dealing with people that are not yet prepared to accept responsibility for themselves or their actions.”

      You’re so right. Their mindset is really no different than that of a cheating spouse, a criminal, or a belligerent child.

      I can’t help but think about all the talk about “free will” on UD. From what the ID-ists (religious zealots) say, I get the impression that free will is only exercised when someone does something wrong, and that when someone does something right it is because their god is behind it. If my impression is correct, how does their concept of free will fit with the obviously wrongful behavior of the ID-ists?

  14. 28 Petrushka June 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    But I’d also say that I have NEVER seen any internet creationist even budge.

    I’ve seen several leave the discussion when it they were pinned down. Gpuccio would be the latest.

    I know a couple other theistic evolutionist who left forums when their special version of interventionism was challenged.

  15. 29 Patrick June 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    PaV has just started a new thread at UD that demonstrates the common, garden variety dishonesty found there.

    The first thing that anyone interested in the topic notices is that no link to the original paper, or even the press release, is provided. He obviously isn’t interested in having anyone verify his sources.

    Second, PaV quotes the “lead author” (without further identification) as saying “These fitness landscapes simply could not be traversed with mutations that did not interact” and follows that with his interpretation that “. . . I don’t know about you, but this sounds to me like any ‘single’ mutation cannot get you across any fitness valley . . . .” The leap from “these fitness landscapes” to “any fitness valley” is not warranted by the available information.

    PaV’s final paragraph starts with the further unwarranted claim that “IOW, without epistatic effects, evolution cannot move forward.” The abstract of the paper (full text behind a paywall) alone emphasizes that the research is focused on epistasis and pleiotropy rather than simple independent mutations. Even the title itself, “Impact of epistasis and pleiotropy on evolutionary adaptation” makes that clear.

    Whether through ignorance, confusion, delusion, or premeditated dishonesty, PaV’s claims are not just wrong but completely unsupported by the paper he is discussing. This level of scholarship is the norm at UD.

  16. 30 Flint June 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Whether through ignorance, confusion, delusion, or premeditated dishonesty, PaV’s claims are not just wrong but completely unsupported by the paper he is discussing. This level of scholarship is the norm at UD.

    I have seen three techniques creationists used, relevant to documenting their claims:

    1) Simply make bald assertions attributed to nobody, or to some untraceable authority. These typically use passive voice – “studies have shown that” or “it was determined that” without further reference. I call these the “do my homework for me” claims.

    2) Cite creationist sources. Sometimes these are more-or-less original with Dembski or whoever, but often they are circular references to creationist websites that quote one another. Almost always, these claims have been thorougly debunked in the outside world, which is never referenced.

    3) Cite actual peer-reviewed material from the scientific literature. Sometimes these are quote-mines, often the cited material refutes the very claim it’s used to document, and sometimes the cited material is unrelated to the topic or the claim that references it. Needless to say, no scientific literature actually supports any creationist claim.

    In light of this pattern, the line between dishonesty and delusion is hazy at best. I suspect that creationists do keyword-searches, and anything containing those keywords is ASSUMED to support their position, since science is effective and their position is right-by-definition. And when the lack of support is pointed out, then the runaround starts.

    • 31 Onlooker June 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      ba77 insisted a paper supported the theory of Genetic Entropy immediately after being correctedby the author of the paper!

      I don’t know how you categorize that sort of behaviour. Dishonest? Blithe? On automatic?

      • 32 Rose July 1, 2011 at 1:20 am

        Onlooker, how about ‘malignant narcissism’ to describe that sort of behavior?

        Check these out, and see if you notice the IDiots of UD in any of the descriptions:

        http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2009/03/malignant-narcissism-brief-overview.html

        http://www.drirene.com/catbox/index.php?showtopic=40676

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

        I am also reminded of some terms that kairosfocus really likes to use when he’s condemning others:

        “know or should know” and “willful”

        I don’t see any reason why those terms shouldn’t be applied to kairosfocus, bornagain77, and all the other religious zealots on UD or anywhere else. I also don’t see any reason why religious zealots, like the ID-ists on UD, shouldn’t be expected to “know” that they are being ‘willfully’ dishonest and sanctimonious. Those people are not two years old (but they sure do act like they are). They have a permanent case of “the terrible twos”.

        All societies expect people to accept and demonstrate the responsibilities of an adult when they reach a certain age (usually about 18 and sometimes even younger). Even children are expected to accept some responsibility for their behavior. Religious zealots who behave wrongfully have no good excuse to do so. They just want to get away with whatever they want to get away with, and put the blame where it will do the most good, for them.

        In their minds, they can do no wrong and can never be wrong, even when they are clearly wrong. bornagain77, for example, is so caught up in his own self-righteousness that he won’t accept or admit that he could ever be anything but divinely correct. To him, just as with kairosfocus and all the other religious zealots, his thoughts, words, and actions are infused into every cell in his body directly by his god, and are therefore perfect. His own fallibility is an impossible and incomprehensible concept to him, and it’s obvious that the other ID-ists think the same way, regardless of what they may say to the contrary. To them, only non-“believers” are or can be fallible.

        Even IF a “believer” admits that they have been wrong or done something wrong, all they think they have to do is ask their god for forgiveness and everything is instantly hunky-dory. And of course, since their imaginary god instantly forgives them, they also expect instant ‘forgive and forget’ from the people they have wronged. In fact, in most or all cases, the ‘divine’ people expect others to not even take notice or be bothered by their wrongful words or behavior. To them, judging, of any kind, of their words or actions by other people is totally unacceptable and evil, but it’s perfectly okay for them to judge and condemn anything and anyone they want to. They believe they are their god’s hand-picked, authorized agents, which gives them absolute ‘divine’ authority over people they perceive as inferiors.

  17. 33 Onlooker June 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Hey! Is this where the Nazis and Stalinists hang out?

    [I] hope that onward MF et al will begin to realise what sort of bully-boy wolf-pack factions they are harbouring […] But already, such fascistic thought-police bully-boys have underscored the relevance of the observation that evolutionary materialism is amoral/nihilistic and the effective “morality” therefore comes down to you are “free” to do whatever you think you can get away with[…] That’s just what led to the social darwinist and atheistical holocausts of the past century, and silence in the face of such first signs is enabling behaviour, so do not imagine that being genteel is enough when blatant evil is afoot.

    • 34 seversky June 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      Worse than that, it’s a hangout for atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists, methodological naturalists, scientists and just about anyone else who prefers to do their own thinking. As someone once said:

      You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

      Or, as the Duke of Wellington once said of the British troops under his command: “I don’t know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me.”

    • 35 Flint June 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      And Patrick thought I was pessimistic in believing that even a lobotomy couldn’t make a dent in this sort of “thinking”.

    • 36 Rose July 1, 2011 at 1:52 am

      “Thought police”, “amoral”, and “blatant evil” describes kairosfocus and his comrades to a T.

      I would have said they’re a “wolf-pack” but that would be an insult to a wolf-pack, because wolves have a good excuse for their behavior, unlike the blatantly evil, amoral, thought police on UD, who believe that they and their self-righteous ‘ilk’ are the ones who are “free” to do whatever they think they can get away with.

      “and silence in the face of such first signs is enabling behaviour, so do not imagine that being genteel is enough when blatant evil is afoot.”

      Fire and brimstone! Smite the heathens! Wipe them off the face of the Earth! Bring on another flood!

      Is that guy delusional and paranoid, or what??

  18. 37 Patrick June 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    DrRec points out that Bjørn Østman responded on his blog.

  19. 38 seversky July 1, 2011 at 5:45 am

    I go along with Mark and others in that I think the proportion of genuinely evil or thoroughly dishonest people amongst Intelligent Design/Creationists is much the same as you would find in any other sub-section of the general population..

    What you do have is a group of people who crave the certainty of knowing some sort of Absolute Truth which they can use to anchor and make sense of their lives. They cannot abide the idea of being alone and adrift in a Universe that could wipe them out in a instant and be utterly indifferent to their passing. They are genuinely terrified of the possibility that they mean nothing and that there is nothing and no one out there that cares one way or the other.

    So, in their various ways, they have found or come to their God and cling to that belief for dear life, much like survivors of a shipwreck might cling to a life-raft adrift in a storm-tossed ocean. It’s all they have.

    And since they have – in their eyes – found this Absolute Truth then it follows that anything that science or anything else finds which tends to contradict that Truth must be wrong – hence theodicy and all the other twisting and turning to find ways to show how it is science that has got it wrong.

    I think the New Paleyists are quite genuine in their religious beliefs and in their belief that they are practicing science when advocating for Intelligent Design. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that those beliefs are sustained by much turning of a blind eye to inconvenient evidence against them and by widespread commission of the fallacy of selective reporting. In other words, they cherry-pick the data that fits their beliefs and discard and disparage the rest. Couple that with the instinctive human need to belong to a group of like-minded people adn you can account for much of what you see at Uncommon Descent.

    • 39 Reciprocating Bill July 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Seversky:

      I think the New Paleyists are quite genuine… in their belief that they are practicing science when advocating for Intelligent Design.

      What “practice?” Were ID advocates meticulously applying the EF to various phenomena, calculating the CSI of those attributed to design and cataloguing results in cargo cult journals we might chuckle sadly at their belief that they are doing science, while admiring their stubborn conviction. But they’re not doing ANYTHING other than grinding out a pathetic blog or three, publishing popular titles to bilk the gullible and recycling creationist antievolutionary chestnuts. There is no activity that can even be mischaracterized as science.

      After Dover they stopped pretending. And they know it.

      This is why I find their strenuous claims vis the conceptual tools of ID, and their sputtering umbrage when asked to point to applications, so amusing.

      • 40 seversky July 2, 2011 at 4:49 am

        What “practice?”

        Would the recent work of Douglas Axe and Ann Gauger count? In any event, I meant their belief is genuine – wrong but genuine.

        There are exceptions, of course, like Jonathan Wells. I assume he believes that what he is doing is honorable because he is acting in the best interests of his faith. To me, what he is doing is despicable because he is well educated enough to know full well he is lying.

        After Dover they stopped pretending.

        Dembski knew the jig was up well before. That was why he wriggled out of appearing as an expert witness at Dover. For all his bluster about “vise” strategies, he knew that if they got him on the stand he would be crucified – just as Behe in fact was crucified.

    • 41 Flint July 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      I think the New Paleyists are quite genuine in their religious beliefs and in their belief that they are practicing science when advocating for Intelligent Design. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that those beliefs are sustained by much turning of a blind eye to inconvenient evidence against them and by widespread commission of the fallacy of selective reporting. In other words, they cherry-pick the data that fits their beliefs and discard and disparage the rest.

      This makes things kind of slippery. So they carefully ignore anything inconvenient, so they carefully select whatever can be misrepresented as supporting their life-raft needs so they sincerely start with an emotion-driven commitment to factual error. But they are not dishonest, oh no. Except maybe with themselves?

      My experience, fairly extensive, has been that most of these people (probably all of these people) aren’t even close to this sort of willful blindness in any other aspect of their lives. I have seen excellent, logical and rigorous engineers, fanatical about collecting evidence and analyzing it logically, whose eyes glaze over when their religion-compartment is entered. Suddenly logic and evidence are the enemy, and don’t matter, and MUST fit religious needs whether they do or not.

      Let’s face it, if they applied the same approach to crossing the street that they apply to their ID convictions, few of them would last a day, and none would last two days. So the perceived dishonesty isn’t a characteristic of the Believers, but rather of the Belief. When your Belief is a lie, and you are incapable of letting it go, you have no choice but to lie. First to yourself, and then to the world.

  20. 42 Petrushka July 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

    From Elizabeth:

    The reason is because DNA isn’t very resource-consuming. Sure you need stuff to make it with, but not nearly as much as you need to make a continuous supply of proteins, for instance, because once it’s made, it is pretty cheap to maintain, so having extra footage isn’t going to cost the organism much.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/review-the-myth-of-junk-dna/#comment-387672

    Using the computer metaphor at some slight risk, the cost of junk DNA might be compared to the cost of maintaining deleted files on a hard disk. Most operating systems delete files not by erasing them, but by deleting references to them in the index.

    It’s interesting that there is a considerable cost of not erasing them with solid state drives, and operating systems have been modified to erase them.

  21. 43 Onlooker July 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Can anyone remind me how MG’s scenarios were strawman scenarios according to the UD regulars. I mean, there was a lot of volume, so I missed the actual explanations from KF and vjtorley and others of why the scenarios could not be calculated.

  22. 45 Onlooker July 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    But what did they say was the reason? Someone must have come up with a rationalization at the least.

    • 46 Patrick July 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      There were a couple of different responses. vjtorley started at least two threads explaining why CSI couldn’t actually be calculated after all. kairosfocus simply dismissed the example scenarios I provided and refused to explain why, even when I asked.

      I honestly have no idea how the UD creationists justify their position.

  23. 47 Patrick July 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Begun again the Weasel Wars have.

    I went through Dawkins’ text step by step the last time around. Where do these people get the idea that “latching” is part of the algorithm or that the mutation rate changes throughout a run?

    • 48 seversky July 2, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      Fuzzy it appears to be but is this what they referring to are?

      • 49 Patrick July 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm

        That looks like it. It apparently comes from here, a site that solicits implementations in multiple programming languages. The C and C++ versions, at least, use a variable mutation rate.

        There is nothing in Dawkins’ description that suggests that the mutation rate should change, though. It looks like more avoidance of the source literature by the creationists.

      • 50 Flint July 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm

        Ah, I think I understand what they’re referring to here. When a letter is a ‘hit’ matching what is known to be the target letter for that location in the string, then that letter is retained. Dawkins calls this “selected”, and the UD people are calling it “latched”. I suspect Febble and the UD folks are using the same word to mean very different things.

        As for the “changing mutation rate”, this baffles me. But clearly, if we have an algorithm that selects a random letter for a random location in the string, the percentage of cases will go down as the number of possible “incorrect” target locations goes down.

        And while this isn’t Dawkins’ point, by coincidence it’s actually realistic. As an organism approaches optimum for its environment, the probability of some mutation making it even MORE optimal must diminish. The process is asymtotic to perfectly adapted, where ANY mutation is unhelpful.

        (As for the C and C++ versions that use a variable mutation rate, I don’t see the rate changing during a run. This rate is made a variable to determine more easily how rapidly different mutation rates produce the target string. Just set a new rate, and run it again. But I haven’t looked at all the code.)

  24. 51 Patrick July 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Flint,

    Ah, I think I understand what they’re referring to here. When a letter is a ‘hit’ matching what is known to be the target letter for that location in the string, then that letter is retained. Dawkins calls this “selected”, and the UD people are calling it “latched”.

    The issue is that no letters, correct or not, are protected from mutation. In my essay on this, I provide a link to a video of Dawkins running his Weasel program that clearly shows correct letters changing. For some reason the denizens of Uncommon Descent refuse to understand this.

    I also provide an example implementation of Weasel that does not latch but that still converges to the expected solution in a few tens of generations.

    As for the C and C++ versions that use a variable mutation rate, I don’t see the rate changing during a run.

    The Rosetta Code C implementation includes, in the main loop, this adjustment to the mutation rate based on the number of current matches:

    mutateRate = (float)(1.0 – exp(- (100.0 – fits)/400.0));

    The C++ version does something similar. Nothing in Dawkins description from The Blind Watchmaker suggests that he intended this to be part of the algorithm. As with latching, an implementation will converge just fine without this.

    • 52 Flint July 3, 2011 at 2:41 am

      I understand that a string with N “wrong” characters will be replaced by a string with N-1 “wrong” characters, even though the second string has “corrected” two characters while “breaking” only one that used to be correct.

      I don’t understand the use of mutation rate adustment. Why bother with it?

      • 53 Patrick July 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        It reminds me of “simulated annealing”, where the noise level is lowered the closer one gets to a solution. It’s an optimization technique to avoid hysteresis-like behavior.

    • 54 seversky July 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      I don’t understand the big deal over WEASEL at UD. Dawkins made it quite clear that it was only intended as an illustration of how cumulative selection can be better than a random search under certain circumstances. It was never going to be some sort of slam-dunk ‘proof’ of the theory of evolution.

      Although, thinking about it, if the IDiots so misunderstood WEASEL that, in their eyes, it looked like such a proof then, from their point of view, it couldn’t be allowed to stand unchallenged.

      • 55 Flint July 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm

        I suggest the reason it’s such a big deal is because it’s a very simple, clear, straightforward illustration of the power of selection. It shows two things: that selection is easily powerful enough so that nothing supernatural is required; and it shows that assertions that evolution is a “purely random process” are foolish.

        And as such, WEASEL represents a serious threat. One can’t look at the program and plausibly deny selection’s power, or deny that selection is working with random mutations. But one can’t ADMIT these things either, without undermining the core requirement of intelligent design.

        So, as usual, they are obliged to dismiss WEASEL for failing to do what it was neither written nor intended to do. If they cannot tolerate the implications of what it DOES do, and they can’t deny them either, the optimum strategy is to change the subject, erect strawmen, and very very carefully miss the point – no matter how clearly or often that’s pointed out!

        They know perfectly well it’s not a “proof” of evolution. But if they can CLAIM it is (knowing better, of course), and then prove it ISN’T, they can dodge the point indefinitely.

  25. 56 Petrushka July 3, 2011 at 12:47 am

    When a letter is a ‘hit’ matching what is known to be the target letter for that location in the string, then that letter is retained. Dawkins calls this “selected”, and the UD people are calling it “latched”. I suspect Febble and the UD folks are using the same word to mean very different things.

    A level of stupidity almost unthinkable among people who do computer programming. I seem to recall at least one of their number not only got it, but programmed an equivalent of the Dawkins Weasel. I don’t see him much any more.

    So one is left with dishonesty.

  26. 57 Onlooker July 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    KF has started an article with the claim that CSI is calculable. A version of it, anyway.

    • 58 seversky July 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Fresh meat for Patrick and Elizabeth et al to get their teeth into.

      • 59 Patrick July 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm

        As much as I, like everyone, enjoy reading kairosfocus’ deathless prose, I’m afraid that even a cursory review shows he fails to make his case.

        The first problem is that he is talking about something other than CSI. Dembski defined CSI originally and expanded upon his discussion of it in Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence. This is the metric that is claimed to answer in the affirmative the question “Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?” kairosfocus brings in vjtorley’s “CSI lite”, Shannon information, and Durston’s “functional sequence complexity”, among others, none of which align with Dembski’s description.

        The second problem is that kairosfocus provides no example calculations for both designed and undesigned objects to demonstrate that his new, non-CSI metric is actually capable of distinguishing between the two.

        The bottom line is that kairosfocus still has no support for his claim that CSI is a reliable indicator of the involvement of intelligent agency.

        I am shocked, SHOCKED to see that Dembski has not chosen to participate in any of these CSI discussions. Surely, as the originator of the metric and many of the claims related to it, he could quickly straighten out any misunderstandings by providing some example calculations.

  27. 60 Flint July 4, 2011 at 3:35 am

    At the very least, one might expect Dembski to excrete some extended monograph just bristling with Greek symbols, to some of which he’s actually assigned meanings, which are very difficult to disentangle but which ultimately establish that one can prove one’s assumptions by assuming them in the proof.

    But in simple layman’s terms, Toronto cut to the heart of the matter that kairosfocus will (I predict) NEVER address: If one specifies one red and one blue car, and receives two identical blue cars, how can he (or Dembski, or anyone else) determine which of these identical cars fails to meet the specification by examining the cars alone.

    Dembski’s approach, in its simplest form, is to observe design wherever it is known a priori to exist. Whether it does or not. I recall that Dembski vanished from this entire discussion when he was publicly challenged (by many) to assess the “design” of lots of different objects with which he was entirely unfamiliar. He’s been silent ever since.

    • 61 Toronto July 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      Mark,

      Flint: “I recall that Dembski vanished from this entire discussion when he was publicly challenged (by many) to assess the “design” of lots of different objects with which he was entirely unfamiliar. He’s been silent ever since.”

      Maybe you should extend the same courtesy to Dembski that was given to MathGrrl by UD.

      Offer him a guest post on this blog, on CSI.

  28. 62 Onlooker July 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    And now KF has started another thread, exactly the same as the first, but with added paranoid interspersions. He reminds me of Charles Kinbote.

  29. 63 Onlooker July 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Seriously. His latest confirms it.

    The beginning of Nabakov’s Pale Fire, as narrated by Charles Kinbote:

    Pale Fire, a poem in heroic couplets, of nine hundred ninety-nine lines, divided into four cantos, was composed by John Francis Shade (born July 5, 1898, died July 21, 1959) during the last twenty days of his life, at his residence in New Wye, Appalachia, U.S.A. The manuscript, mostly Fair Copy, from which the present text has been faithfully printed, consists of eighty medium-sized index cards, on each of which Shade reserve the pink upper line for headings (canto number, date) and used the fourteen light blue lines for writing out with a fine nib in a minute, tidy, remarkably clear hand, the text of his poem, skipping a line to indicate double-space, and always using a fresh card to begin a new canto.

    The short (166 lines) Canto One, with all those amusing birds and parhelia, occupies thirteen cards. Canto Two, your favorite, and that shocking tour de force, Canto Three, are identical in length (334 lines) and cover twenty-seven cards each. Canto Four reverts to One in length and occupies again thirteen cards, of which the last four used on the day of his death give a Corrected Draft instead of a Fair Copy.

    A methodical man, John Shade usually copied out his daily quota of completed lines at midnight but even if he recopied them again later, as I suspect he sometimes did, he marked his card or cards not with the date of his final adjustments, but with that of his Corrected Draft or first Fair Copy. I mean, he preserved the date of actual creation rather than that of second or third parts. There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings.

    KF:

    The worldview commonly described at UD as “Evolutionary Materialism” — roughly: the view that our cosmos from hydrogen to humans must be explained “scientifically” on matter and energy in space and time, evolving by forces of chance and necessity – is nothing new. For, 2,350 years ago, Plato described it as a popular philosophy among those who saw themselves as the cutting edge elite in his day.

    As he said in the voice of The Athenian Stranger in his dialogue, The Laws, Bk X:

    The avant-garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial

    […]

    I will not bother to share the current contents of my comments inbox, save to say that they are on the dossier on aggravating circumstances, and that they are foul, sadly reflective of unhinged, en-darkened minds joined to benumbed consciences

    It’s the exact same literary device.

    Also, just as KF shoehorns into the Plato his own observations of “modernism”, Kinbote who is ostensibly writing the commentary for the annotated version of Pale Fire imposes upon that text.

    Anyone who knows the novel Pale Fire can only delight in the resemblances. Nabakov has captured the pedantic unhinged narcissist perfectly.

    • 64 Neil Rickert July 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Quoting KF:

      The relevance of this comes out as soon as we consider the concept that we have rights; binding moral expectations that others should respect us as holding an innate, inalienable dignity

      When I read that latest post, I am not finding much evidence that KF respects the dignity of those with whom he disagrees.

  30. 65 Petrushka July 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Is there a record for a UD comment being held in moderation? Has anything been released after three days?

  31. 67 Petrushka July 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Gpuccio seems to have slunk back to UD, having abandoned the discussion here when it became uncomfortable.

    • 68 Patrick July 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      Would anyone who has a sock over there be willing to invite him to return to the conversation? We were close to actually computing CSI, if I remember correctly.

  32. 69 Flint July 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Why bother? CSI=42.

  33. 70 Seversky July 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I must confess to unbounded admiration for Elizabeth Liddle’s apparently limitless capacity to shrug off the industrial-grade pomposity and condescension she’s now meeting at UD. I could not cope to that extent but then I’m surmising that she’s had to put up with a lot more of that during her professional career than her male colleagues.

    • 71 Reciprocating Bill July 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I agree, although the discussion has now come full circle, as was inevitable.

      UB cannot uncouple his definition of “information” from his commitment to the notion that the utilization of information seen in biological organisms can only have originated from intelligence, and cannot have emerged naturally. Therefore his claims vis information, FSCI, etc. don’t stand as evidence for ID, but rather as a restatement of the thesis of ID.

      Liz recognizes this and has insisted that he operationalize his terms in a way that doesn’t assume his conclusions, and therefore can take a place in an empirical test of his thesis. He can’t do it.

      UB seems rather hurt. He is now busy fleeing the conversation, as he and others make increasingly personal remarks. Dob bites man.


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