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December 23, 2005

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» The Court's Contempt from Cross-Currents
Prof. Albert Alschuler of the University of Chicago is blogging his reactions to the ID decision (as noted by Michael Hobson)... Read more here and here. [Read More]

» http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/the_dover_court.html from The Panda's Thumb
Albert Alschuler wrote: The Dover court is wrong, however, when it says that anything that implicates religion also endorses it. Alschuler is talking about a part of the endorsement analysis presented by Judge Jones where J... [Read More]

» Alschuler's confusions from The Panda's Thumb
Albert Alschuler wrote: The Dover court is wrong, however, when it says that anything that implicates religion also endorses it. Alschuler is talking about a part of the endorsement analysis presented by Judge Jones where J... [Read More]

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ivy privy

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But nothing can be said for a convention that excludes intelligent design by fiat if that is where the evidence leads.
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Nothing can be said for a convention that excludes the explanation that monkeys are flying out of your **** if that is where the evidence leads. But is that where the evidence leads?

Judge Jones heard six weeks of testimony in which IDC proponents had opportunity to establish the worth of their evidence. He concluded that it had no merit. He was correct in that assessment.

ctw

1. The peacock's tail ..."

this is a reasonable (in the sense of being measured - I have no idea whether it's scientifically sound) comment. by itself, it shouldn't motivate disrespectful responses; adding snarks like "Show a Darwinist an anomaly, and he will devise a story that fits it to his theory" which suggest lack of integrity - does.

similarly, one may reasonably argue that judge jones is wrong in aspects of his opinion, but a fair reading doesn't support the lack of integrity suggested in the first post. perhaps a little humility is in order.

on a substantive issue, what is the argument against applicability of the estab clause? since judge jones appeared to jump through all the hoops, mere assertion is an inadequate objection.

Ed Darrell

If we agree that "intelligent design" is junk, why would anyone propose to discuss it in schools? What sort of hatred of children would drive someone to advocate that?

Ed Darrell

Oh, and Prof. Alschuler: The flip side of that argument is this: If ID has real science behind it, it's legal to teach it even if it has religious bias. Did you read the Dover decision?

Jonathan Bartlett

Ed:

Intelligent Design does have real science behind it. The Design Inference was a peer-reviewed work. In addition, here are some fairly recent peer-reviewed work in the area of Intelligent Design:

http://crevobits.blogspot.com/2005/12/how-is-id-doing-in-scientific.html

Deborah Spaeth

Bartlett

Intelligent Design does have real science behind it.

No it doesn't, you stupid script-reciting idiot.

What next? Are you giong to show us all the peer-reviewed

The Design Inference was a peer-reviewed work.

Spare me, moron.

Go to www.pubmed.org and educate yourself instead of reading creationism blog sites.

In addition, here are some fairly recent peer-reviewed work in the area of Intelligent Design:

Hey, you got anything on Sasquatch or mental levitation?

Yeah, you ARE that stupid.

I tell you what: tell me what the scientific theory of "intelligent design" is and what prediction the theory makes that would allow us to distinguish between it and standard evolutionary theory?

And then explain to me why the overwhelming majority of professional scientists think the Discovery Insitute and its employees are disgusting anti-science liars.

Are all those other scientists deluded? Or is it a conspiracy?

And give me one example of another "scientific theory" that was first published in a 9th grade textbook and peddled to public school kids, or a scientific theory that for some strange reason appeals only to pathologically lying religious fanatics.

Go for it, fruitcake. Prove that you belong to the crowd of pathetic robes who look forward to the day when your preachers mix up a big batch of tasty kool-aid for you and your fellow sheep.

Unsympathetic reader

Prof. Alschuler: "Show a Darwinist an anomaly, and he will devise a story that fits it to his theory."

Actually, anomalies play a very important role in science because they sometimes indicate that unexpected influences are involved (take the photoelectric effect for example). So, actually, we scientists do take anomalies seriously and mine them for what information they can reveal. Prof. Alschuler's comment above only tells part of the story. I'd say: "Show a scientist an anomaly, and he will devise a story that fits it to his theory or another, and try to find a means of testing the story". That is good science.

Re: Peacock's tail -- The discussion of sexual selection & non-sexual environmental fitness helps illustrate the fact that multiple, overlapping selective factors will exist in any environment. These factors are often difficult to pull apart and consider separately. It is a problem that has be recognized for decades (if one cares to read the literature). It has nothing to do with 'tails I win, heads you lose' arguments. As correctly noted, the bright plumage does seem anomalous if we consider predation or physiological load alone. This is what leads one to consider other factors such as how external displays of fitness determine mate selection (a particular subset of intraspecies competition). But this is not all "pie in the sky theorizing" or post-hoc rationalization as Prof. Alschuler would suggest: Many of these competing influences can be analyzed. Hen preference for long feather trains in male peacocks has been shown. The case of mate selection is also being investigated with studies of guppie tail lengths and coloration in pools with different levels of predation. These effects are real and often quantifiable. Similarly, Fischer's sex ratio theorem helps researchers look for selective effects when the ratio of males to females in progeny deviates from 1:1. It is definitely not all post-hoc handwaving.

By comparison, I'd be very interested in learning what would pass for an anomaly in ID. Let's start with the peacock's tail...

Unsympathetic reader

Kaiser Soze: '"What one actually found was nothing but discontinuities. All species are separated from each other by bridgeless gaps; intermediates between species are not observed. ... The problem was even more serious at the level of the higher categories."

Mayr, E., 1982 The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p. 524'

Kaiser, would you do me the favor of reporting the heading for that section of the book (listed on page 510) or what Mayr wrote in the first paragraph of page 525? I've found his overall assessment quite different from the quote you've thoughtfully provided.

frank schmidt

This post is a great example of why scientists distrust lawyers, since its examplses of "gaps" in Darwin are outdated. Specifically, pre-Cambrian fossils are known, and speciation has been observed in the laboratory and in nature. In science one cannot deny data, but that's what's going on here. Ignorance is not an excuse. I am appalled that a faculty member at a distinguished university would lend his name to this nonsense.

Unsympathetic reader

Prof. Alschuler: "When commentators on my December 21 post challenged other commentators to specify what evidence they would accept as falsifying Darwinism,..." [Pre-Cambrian rabbit idea deleted...]

Good "knock outs" for Darwinism, would be exclusively blending modes of inheritance (which would severely restrict the range of possible variation) or a complete disconnect between reproductive success and variation in the reproductive template (e.g. replicators taking instructions from a radio signal that originated off-planet). Lamarkian inheritance would be non-Darwinian.

The discovery of aliens or ancient, non-human artifacts of high technology with records of bioengineering would similarly cause one to suspect that something other than Darwinian mechanisms were at work. This is the sort of direct, auxiliary evidence that would provide excellent information about the nature and capabilities of an intelligent designer (These are details that IDers like Dembski and Behe do not seem to be in any hurry to deduce or collect).

Most biologists might find an extremely young Earth to be a bit a problem for Darwinian evolution. Perfect correspondance with the Biblical stories (particularly if it were more specific) would also tend to favor non-Darwinian explanations (especially that part about an ark and a global flood).

Evidence for "directed panspermia" like interstellar flu viruses or 'life clouds' (ala Fred Hoyle), would also substantially reduce support for Darwinian mechanisms at work on the Earth. There is a whole genre of science fiction devoted to 'outsider'-directed evolution ('2001: A Space Odyssey' & etc).

It is not that "Darwinism" could not have possibly lost favor at some point in the past -- many theories existed before Darwin published & and there is nothing to suggest that a designer couldn't have create species in such a way as to generally rule out Darwinian mechanism -- it's that *current* conditions haven't fallen that way. Darwinian theory is potentially compatible with much we see today but that does not mean that it necessarily *had* to be.

Unsympathetic reader

Prof. Alschuler: "The academic role of the ID biologist is essentially negative – to challenge Darwinist explanations and look for phenomena that the Darwinists cannot explain or, more realistically, can explain only by stretching. This critical role (“look at all those epicycles”) cannot fairly be excluded from science."

This "critical role" is *not* excluded from science. However, ID does not have exclusive claim to such criticism. Many "Darwinist" scientists likewise battle over evolutionary theories. The important thing to comprehend is that criticism or negative argument alone does not make another theory legitimate or valid. One can make a critique regardless of whether one thinks another theory is correct. To say ID deserves a special place in a biology course because some of its supporters provide criticism of the prevailing theory does not follow. The "Heaven's Gate" people, Raelians and Scientologists dispute the prevailing theories of human evolution, but is it legitimate to introduce their alternate 'theories' as a result of their willingness to challenge Darwinist explanations? Why should ID (an undefined notion at present) be granted a special position?

maurile

Johnathan Bartlett wrote: "Intelligent Design does have real science behind it. The Design Inference was a peer-reviewed work. In addition, here are some fairly recent peer-reviewed work in the area of Intelligent Design:"

Like many things you'll find on creationist/ID websites, that's just false.

As Nick Matzke points out at the Panda's Thumb:
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Over on the blog of the Discovery Institute Judge Complaints Division, John West seems annoyed that Judge Jones didn’t pay any attention to the Discovery Institute’s list of allegedly peer-somethinged publications. West shouldn’t be criticizing the judge, however — West’s problem is that Behe and Minnich didn’t think to mention this list when they had the chance, during testimony at trial. When asked, Behe & Minnich mentioned only a few scientific publications they thought relevant — e.g., Behe & Snoke 2004, which on cross Behe admitted didn’t mention ID, and didn’t block evolution under biologically realistic conditions — but these either didn’t mention ID, or were in philosophy journals, or were review articles and not actual research. Minnich admitted that his sole publication on ID, a book chapter, coauthored by Stephen C. Meyer, was not rigorously reviewed in the same way as an actual journal article. Other DI fellows could have also could have mentioned the list as much as they liked — but unfortunately, they decided to back out of the case just before their scheduled depositions.

Or perhaps Behe & Minnich, being actual scientists, realized how vulnerable this list is to cross-examination. The court is not the same audience as some fawning blogger or clueless journalist new to the issue. For example, imagine the glint in the lawyer’s eye while asking questions like these: “Now, does ‘peer-edited’ mean the same thing as ‘peer-reviewed’?” “Is ‘peer-edited’ a standard term in academia?” “Is Rivista di Biologia a well-respected biology journal?” “One of these publications listed here is a book chapter in Mere Creation written by Kurt Wise. Could you tell us who Kurt Wise is, and what he argues for in this ‘intelligent design’ publication?”

Leaving aside the hypotheticals, given the testimony he heard at trial, does West really expect Judge Jones to ignore the testimony of the leading scientists of the ID movement which he directly observed, and instead favor amicus briefs, not subject to cross-examination, and authored by organizations whose mendacity was exposed repeatedly both during trial and in numerous pre-trial machinations? (e.g., FTE’s motions, or the DI’s interference with the expert witnesses.)
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Deborah Spaeth

Unsympathetic Reader

"there is nothing to suggest that a designer couldn't have create species in such a way as to generally rule out Darwinian mechanism"

Wow, that sounds like creationist bullcrap to me.

Read what you wrote again, Reader.

Tell me more about the powers that this "designer" must have possessed in order to design every species of living thing that lived on earth during the past 4 billion years.

I'm still waiting for this ignorant blowhard Perfesser to get his hands out of David Horowitz' pants long enough to tell me why Enterocraftic Theory is any less "scientific" than "intelligent design" theory.

And I'm also waiting for this ignorant blowhard Perfesser to explain how it is possible that a scientifically illiterate zero like him has more insight into the "flaws" of evolutionary biology than the world's professionals.

Thus far, our ignorant blowhard Perfesser seems content to ignore the difficult questions and proposes instead to tell lies about the extent to which scientists claim to "understand" every aspect of the evolutionary history of the peacock.

Alschuler = professional dissembler.

I wonder what else he would be willing to lie about it to further his ideology, sell some books, and keep the spotlight shining on his smug yet vapid countenance?

Deborah Spaeth

Unsympathetic Reader

Most biologists might find an extremely young Earth to be a bit a problem for Darwinian evolution.

There are ZERO reputable scientists on earth who claim that the earth is 10,000 years old.

Only idiots and religious fanatics continue spout willfully ignorant creationist garbage about a "young earth" in 2005.

But Perfesser Alschuler is probably reading some web page right now "informing" him about those halycon days when cavemen in Kansas City barbequed the first brontosaurus steaks.

After all, there is "nothing" that suggests that is could not "possibly" have happened, right? The evidence is just waiting for some Christian fundamentalist geologist to dig up.

Oh wait, I forgot: fundies don't like to work. They just like to tell everyone else about how rotten life in hell is going to be unless we worship their deity, give their preachers some cash, and stop enjoying sex.

Joe G

Hi,

The following link (the first two posts) offers a good explanation as to why ID is scientific:

http://www.evolutionfairytale.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=524

I will answer any comments and/ or criticisms. Enjoy...


(frisbee_kid@yahoo.com)

Deboarah Spaeth

Unsympathetic Reader wrote:

"Most biologists might find an extremely young Earth to be a bit a problem for Darwinian evolution."

There are ZERO reputable scientists on earth who claim that the earth is 10,000 years old.

Only idiots and religious fanatics continue spout willfully ignorant creationist garbage about a "young earth" in 2005.

But Perfesser Alschuler is probably reading some web page right now "informing" him about those halycon days when cavemen in Kansas City barbequed the first brontosaurus steaks.

After all, there is "nothing" that suggests that is could not "possibly" have happened, right? The evidence is just waiting for some Christian fundamentalist geologist to dig up.

Oh wait, I forgot: fundies don't like to work. They just like to tell everyone else about how rotten life in hell is going to be unless we worship their deity, give their preachers some cash, and stop enjoying sex.

Deborah Spaeth

Joe G

Your link points to a pile of worthless drivel. How many creationist idiots are there like you out there who will continue to recite the same old scripts long after every point in them has been debunked (to the extent those points are remotely comprehensible).

Some moron at your link wrote

"Science is simply a philosophy, nothing less and nothing more."

Actually, science is a TOOL for understanding the natural world that has proven very useful to human beings and other intelligent animals, all of whom practice science in some form (however crudely) every day of their lives and have done so a very long time indeed.

I tell you what, Joe G., since you're so clueless you will hardly care what happens to you as long as you don't end up in hell. So try this experiment.

Instead of relying on your brain and your experiences in the real world to keep yourself from starving or dehydrating, try going for a week or two sitting cross-legged in a field and just PRAYING for food.

See how that "philosophy, nothing less and nothing more" works for you.

I look forward to hearing from you in a couple weeks, or at least learning that there is one less brain-dead script-reciting idiot walking on our planet.

Tell it to the Judge

The phrase "random selection" is a contradiction in terms, is not a term used in biology, and your using it shows you have no idea what you are blathering about. Natural selection is no more random than water flowing downhill.

Similarly, your characterization of paleontology as intuitive and non-predictive indicates that you just don't know anything about modern paleontology. As (actual paleontologist) Kevin Padian testified at trial, modern paleontology relies on cladistics, which is deeply quantitative and all about rigorous statistical testing of hypotheses of relationship (pattern) and causality (process).

You can bloviate all you want on a blog, but don't expect to convince a judge who has actual expert witnesses in the relevant fields to listen to.

Deborah Spaeth

Alschuler the Amateur at work:

"If a peacock’s tail were brown and blended nicely into the background, the tail’s colors would illustrate how random mutation allows genetically fortunate birds to elude predators. The colors would show natural selection at work. And when the male peacock’s tail is iridescent and multi-colored and stands out against the background, the tail’s bright colors signal the hen that the cock is resistant to parasites and desirable as a mate. The bright colors thus show natural selection at work. In other words, heads I win, tails you lose."

Except in science, Perfesser, you are permitted to come up more than two explanations. You are permitted to hypothesize 1001 explanations for the peacock's tail. I can come up with at least that many. So when you say "heads I win, tails you lose" you are (ahem) lying about how science works.

You have failed to discuss in detail a mechanism that takes into account what we know about how peacock's reproduce, how they survive, who their predators are, how their genes control the development of body parts such as "tail feathers," and how those genes may mutate and change over time.

That's the part, Perfesser, that you keep forgetting. That's the part that separates the experts from tiresome wankers like you and the "religious" liars at the Discovery Institute.

If you play the game that the liars at the Discovery Institute play, then you can divorce yourself from adhering to mere "natural" explanations for phenomenon.

But what are you left with then?

Religious garbage or fantasy stories.

Enteocraftic Theory says that deities used the earth as a toilet and thoughtlessly pooped out the peacock with its silly tail feathers, just as you thoughtlessly spewed your scientifically illiterate verbal doo-doo over Judge Jones' opinion.

Enterocraftic Theory is far superior to "intelligent design". As I noted earlier, it explains those "strange microbes" you waved away, Perfesser.

Unapologetic Catholic

I have to concur with the commenter above regarding use of the term "random selection."

The user of this term demonstrates complete ignorance of the subject matter.

It is the equivalent of a scientist entering a sophiticated legal discussion and objecting to a judge's decision because it relies on witness testimony about events that occurred outside the courtroom. If the scientist argued that everybody knows that kind of testimony is mere "hearsay" we'd all laugh at him for the infantile understanding of the term.

Natural selection is not "random," which is why the peacock example is so wretched.

Unsympathetic reader

Deborah Spaeth: "Read what you wrote again, Reader."

Ok.
A found a couple typos but nothing that should cause confusion about what I meant (for most people).

Robert Puharic

Well, it's shocking to read an essay supporting educated ignorance. While the essay may be written from a legal perspective, it certainly does not encompass how science is done which is, purportedly, the very subject of the essay.

First, Prof. Alschuler writes:

'the evolution of one species into another does not appear to have happened in the laboratory'. This is incorrect. A list of laboratory speciation events is available at:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

In addition, speciation has been observed to occur in nature, e.g., the evolution of mosquitoes in the London underground.

But what is equally serious is the circular hypothetical posed when the author says:

'Opponents of ID might ask themselves whether, if they did not regard ID’s scientific claims as junk – if they concluded that ID posed a serious intellectual challenge to Darwinism – they would nevertheless forbid discussing it in the schools because it is religious.'

Well, bad questions, so to speak, make bad law. If religion had not been found wanting as an explanation of the natural world over the last few thousand years, science wouldn't exist. ID is creationism and creationism is religion. Creationists pretend that supernaturalism is a new idea when, in actuality, it's the oldest idea going. And it's always failed.

Prof. Alschuler writes:

'If a Ptolemaic astronomer had been able to show that Copernican astronomy required equally inelegant stretches, ordinary inference probably would have triumphed, and the earth would have remained at the center of the planetary system.'

This like asking 'Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?'

The fact is, the Copernican system did NOT require epicycles whereas the Ptolemaic one did. Creationism tells those of us who are scientists precisely nothing about the universe. It does not tell us how species form. It's handwaving and magic. It's a default for the ignorant null position: anything that is currently unknown can be explained by creationism. That's why creationism is "god of the gaps". ID fits in only where evolution has unknowns. Prof. Alschuler ignores this, but no theory succeeds because a competitor fails.

I'm sure the good professor would snicker if I pretended to expound on the role of stare decisis in selecting Supreme Court nominees with an eye to pushing a populist view of law. Yet that's exactly what he's doing in his support of creationism. He's not a scientist, he handwaves away with a vague comment the fact creationists don't publish, and yet feels this endeavor is science.

It's a disgrace to have social leaders pretend they have a new argument to contribute when they're really pushing old wine in new wine skins. Magic and superstition are not the saviors of science, they are its death. I suggest Prof. Alschuler do more research on the origins of ID and less on the origins of species since science itself can not convince those who've already made up their minds.


Deborah Spaeth

Robert -- a truly excellent post.

As for your advice ...

I suggest Prof. Alschuler do more research on the origins of ID and less on the origins of species since science itself can not convince those who've already made up their minds.

... I have to assume it's a pointless exercise since one of the best descriptions of the "origins of ID" is provided in the Honorable Judge Jones' opinion -- which the Perfesser has presumably read!

Joe G

Deborah Spaeth spews:
Your link points to a pile of worthless drivel.

I say:
It could be but you couldn't point out drivel from fact.


So Deb do you have any intelligent criticism- specific criticism of my essay or is stupid the best you can do?

As for the origins of ID- read Plato and Aristotle.


Ya see people IF anti-IDists could substantiate their claims ID would go away. IOW the best defense against ID is supporting your unscientific pap.

Joe G

Here's the challenge Deb,

Provide the data the debunks what I posted in my essay. I will gladly refute it.

However if you can't or won't provide such data everyone will know you are blowing smoke- which BTW is the only recourse anti-IDists have.

If ID is Creation(ism) then why do Creationists and IDists say otherwise? Why do fair-minded critics understand the difference and why do only anti-IDists on an agenda make the equation?

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