Friday, June 29, 2007

Who else can't speak for himself? Hermagoras, that's who. Because UD won't let him.

Welcome, Uncommon Descent members! For the record, I don't ban users or arguments (I will delete threats and suchlike.) As long as you're here, you might check out the reality behind ICON-RIDS (if you haven't heard about this before).

A letter to GilDodgen, responding to this:
I, Hermagoras, am banned at Uncommon Descent but apparently still discussion-worthy. Indeed, a whole post devoted to refuting someone (me) who is not allowed to respond. You guys are certainly committed to fair debate!

I was trying to make a fairly simple point, which I would have thought IDers agree with: that all observations and all "facts" are theory-laden. It's simple enough. I elaborated it in a post which Dembski apparently thought was off-topic and led him [to] ban me in precisely the terms I previously discussed on my blog. Hilarious. Then continued discussion (again I can't respond) about how I'm trying to be the clever one.

Nothing in my banned posts was were inflammatory, although I was annoyed at that ass Jehu for insulting my education. Perhaps I got a little to[o] technical on some rhetorical issues. In another comment that may have led to the banning, I disagreed with scordova on equivocation. (Shallitt and Ellsberry were not equivocating.)*

Frankly, I don't know why I was banned. I'm just guessing. Your leader never gives a reason. Instead he waves his hand [and] notes that I'm "no longer with us." Well, I guess I'm with the terrorists then.

Anyway, I'll avoid the lesson in rhetoric and just quote your own writing:

these facts certainly do speak for themselves, and they say that

Please read that a couple of times slowly. Let me know when the contradiction becomes apparent.
*[Update, not in letter to GilDodgen: amazingly, I now find that this comment made it through. I could have sworn it was in the moderation queue when I got banned.]

Further Update: Edited for various typos in my letter. Should have proofread; measure twice, cut once and all that. Changes marked with [brackets] and strikeouts (n.b.: most of the links were added in the bloggitation).

84 comments:

Bob O'Hara said...

Have you checked? It might be that you've been un-banned, and your posts just have to wait for approval.

Have patience, and make sure you suck up to DaveTard.

Bob

Hermagoras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hermagoras said...

"Error: Invalid username." That's why I get since Dembski waved his wand.

Bob O'Hara said...

OK, I've alerted them to this post. We'll see who turns up.

Now off to AtBC, to see what else has been happening...

Bob

Hermagoras said...

Thanks Bob.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hermagoras,

Just stopping in.

I also dislike UD's policy of banning , I think it is too swift sometimes.

I have noticed that if you bring up "Wedge-Theory" type of "only IDers/no true scientist would ever/ID=religious creationism" talk, you'll be banned swiftly. Us IDers just get tired of telling people over and over again that they don't know what ID is. We shouldn't have to do this, as they should do their homework before engaging in debate.

Now, I don't think you went that far, but there were small hints of it in your "Only IDers use this term..." post. (The fact that IDers came up with a valid description of behavior doesn't make it less valid.)

But best of luck with your own blog.

Atom

Hermagoras said...

Atom,

Thanks. What ticked me off was not the ID coinage of a term -- that's fine -- but Jehu's snarky comment suggesting that the term was somehow in standard use. They can coin terms to their heart's content -- in fact, I work in a field that does that all the time -- but it's silly to think that because a little piece of jargon circulates among some little community, it marks some other kind of literacy.

Timcol said...

I've been banned from UD at least three times, and just like you it was never because of an Ad Hominem attack or anything inflammatory. No, it was simply because I questioned something or made a statement along the lines of "would like to see research based on ID". It doesn't take much.

I suppose one has to feel a little sorry for Dembski. He has been ostracized not just by the scientific community but apparently even by those on the same 'side' as him (e.g., the fiasco with Baylor).
So maybe his frequent dismissals of commentators who even mildly disagree is the only exercise of influence and power he has nowadays.

Who knows, he may be a nice person in 'real life', but on the Internet he comes across as a clueless twit. I've been fascinated by Dembski's inability to 'read' how others will react to his words and actions. A good example of this is his lame attempts at humor. They always backfire (because his idea of humor is little more evolved than that of a 10-year old), yet I guess because his sycophants keep feeding his ego, he never learns how simply bizarre these forays into humor really are. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Hermorgas,

For what it's worth, I objected to you getting booted here: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-art-of-literature-bluffing/#comment-126414
--not necessarily becasue I agreed with or even liked all you had to say, but because I thought it fell well within the defined ground rules. In general, I think Dembski pulls the trigger way too fast. I won't speculate as to why because I don't know.

Given your field, you might also want to look at Darwin on Trial, which doesn't look at the science as much as it evaluates the content of the arguments that are typlically used in Darwinist circles. Interesting read.

-sb

Touchstone said...

Getting banned at UcD is something of a badge of honor, over the last year. I don't think anyone has collected the various posts of banned posters but it they were aggregated, I think it would provide a stinging indictment for a blog which purports at least the façade of intellectual integrity. David Heddle (http://helives.blogspot.com) has a couple good posts on his getting the boot from UcD.

The "ghettoization" of UcD now is nearly complete. Dembski has trimmed things down to "echo chamber" status, a kind of "support group" for his beleaguered "warrior children". The "thought leadership" blog of the ID movement is now fully bunkered, and insulated from the hazards of criticism or challenge.

I appreciated your comments there, and frankly was amazed that you lasted as long as you did... Bill must have been on vacation for a couple days or something. As someone who is at a loss as to how to combat the "literature bluffing" that has become "standard operating procedure" in creationist polemics (check out AiG's citations in their articles sometimes, or Woodmorappe's), there's a cynical irony in the UcD post that deserve some attention.

-Touchstone

Anonymous said...

I was also sorry to see you were banned. I have been banned two times and moderated one other time and it all seems to be when one is or appears to be arbitrarily negative. There are other occasions when the person is hostile and they have been banned. Essentially be respectful of the moderators and don’t make the same tiresome refuted arguments and they usually will let you stay forever.

Bob O'Hara does not seem to accept ID but continues to contribute. One of the best contributors to the site is a staunch gradualist named great_ape.

Most people who come to the UD site and are not ID friendly assume they are correct and can easily set straight those who are there. I have never seen anyone who supports the Darwinian approach to evolution able to support their case so when they fail most leave or get banned for negative behavior. When they quickly find that they cannot support their beliefs they will have to either admit such to continue or most likely they strike out in ad hominem attacks or some just quietly leave. There seems to be few conversions.

There is a lot of criticism on the site of other’s arguments and even their approach to science. For example, one can criticize YEC's on their science and I do this frequently. But one cannot criticize their intelligence or religious beliefs. One can take opposite opinions as long as one can provide evidence for their position. What one seems not to be able to do is obfuscate deliberately though some seem good at it.

You were identified as a rhetoric scholar and most of us could use some help from such a source. However, after reading a few of your responses, I started to pick up that your objective seemed not to help make things clear which you should be good at but to find fault with other’s argument which I am sure you have lots of practice as part of your field.

One last thing. Dembski is one of the most vilified persons on the web. Not quite in George Bush’s league but generally maligned and belittled. I see someone who has made an honest attempt to fight for what he thinks is a huge miscarriage of justice in our society. I disagree with a lot of the threads he posts on his site but in general sympathize with what his objectives are. So it easy not to be the most cheerful person in such circumstances. I am not sure how I would act to a constant litany of abuse.

jerry

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

Thanks for your comment. I don't assume I can set anybody straight. My view is that people have all sorts of ways of making their views cohere for them, and I don't expect or hope anybody to change their worldview on something like capital-S Science or evolution or religion. But neither do I think people leave a community like UD because they can't support their case. Rather, I think they mistake an internet forum for an actual conversation. ID supporters leave sites antagonistic to ID for the same reason. To have a real argument, in rhetorical terms, you have to be willing to admit that the other side may be right. Nobody on UD is willing to admit this -- and of course, neither are people on the Panda's Thumb or wherever. The big issues are non-negotiable. So I argue at the margins not because I want to quibble or nitpick but because that's where people are (sometimes) likely to listen -- (and that's where I'm willing to listen too.)

I'll try to write about this in my "Rhetoric of Now" series (check the earlier posts for the scope of this). I think my experience at UD shows something about the range of what people are willing to consider as acceptable arguments.

As for Dembski's thin skin, I don't have a lot of sympathy for this. He has courted whatever vilification he gets. Whatever the merits of his case (which I don't think much of) neither he nor anyone else in the ID community has shown why science should abandon the normal way it validates itself. Then he starts a blog -- a blog -- and gets upset because people act bloggish?

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

I don't know why the comment was hard to submit. I use Firefox and have never had a problem with any Blogger site.

Anonymous said...

I use a Mac so that may be the problem. I use Safari and Firefox about half the time and assumed Firefox would work better on a blog. But this time it didn't. So it may be a Mac thing.

Your comment

"To have a real argument, in rhetorical terms, you have to be willing to admit that the other side may be right. Nobody on UD is willing to admit this"

is a little bit too strong. There are frequent disagreements on UD amongst the faithful. I frequently criticize them for their lack of understanding of the basic processes. Others do too. The book by Behe will help straighten a lot of them out since he accepts common descent and Neo Darwinism and all its genetic components. Of course common descent will never fly with the YEC's.

Yes, there are a lot of people with narrow opinions at UD mainly because a lot of their science is driven by their religious beliefs but there are a lot of bright people there and I learn a lot over time. But I have yet to find too many Darwinists who are honest about evolution. In fact I only know of two but I am sure there are more. I can point to article after article in the popular press as well as academic writings that are just plain wrong either about what is known about evolution or what ID is about. I often can make the case for Darwin better than they can but I also know its weaknesses better than they seem to or want to admit.

I am a graduate of Stanford and recently watched an hour video on evolution by a distinguished professor there that was mostly irrelevancies or distortions. If it was such a slam dunk, why the evasions and distortions by the elite when talking to the other elite (not me for sure but the other Stanford faculty in his audience).

By the way there is an hour long audio by a professor of rhetoric named James Angus Campbell on Darwin's Origin of Species as a instrument of rhetorical genius. You should listen to Campbell's analysis. Darwin was a genius but not on science or insight into the natural world.

jerry

Kristine said...

Okay, you get your wish. Tag!

Now I gotta find 7 more... *Sigh*

Incidentally, I was never banned from UD per se. I stomped off after getting completely jumped on by the commenters for being an atheist, and one of them said that atheists never contribute to charity (egged on, of course, by DaveScot, who refused to answer my questions re HIV denialism, for now obvious reasons).

Well, I figured that they would still accept our AtBC Christmas card afterward, plus my poem to them, but no, it never appeared. Because they have such a great sense of humor that we lack, ya know.

Larry Fafarman said...

You still haven't explained why you refused to join the Association of Non-Censoring Bloggers. We are not going to end arbitrary blog comment censorship unless we organize.

Hermagoras said...

Larry,

Two points:

1. As I told you in email, the problem doesn't need an association, which will be merely quixotic and self-righteous.

2. As to your comment on UD: as I explained seemingly without understanding, my problem was not the creation of a new term. Create new terms all you want. I got pissy because that ass Jehu assumed my not knowing the term meant something about my education.

Speaking of asses, tell tribune7 over there that the necessity is the mother of invention, but that Frank Zappa had the Mothers of Invention and death is the mother of beauty (Wallace Stevens).

Gil Dodgen said...

Dear Hermangoras,

Keep in mind that people like Bill Dembski and I are targets of perpetual vitriol and hatred from the Darwinist camp. This wears thin rather quickly.

The WWW is a free marketplace of ideas, but I would certainly not complain if I were banned from your blog, for whatever reason you desired, since I have no inherent right to be here, and your editorial decisions should be your prerogative.

Good luck with your blog. I would post here on a regular basis, except for the fact that your readership is insufficiently large to justify the effort.

Gil

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

I haven't seen Campbell's videos but I've read his many articles on Darwin in the rhetorical criticism literature, which are well known. He's very smart and very good on the biographical history leading to and following the publication of the Origin, but let's just say that we have some disagreements about Darwin's merit as a scientist and about what shifted and didn't shift with the publication and revision of the book.

Hermagoras said...

Gil,

Wow: a compliment and an insult in the same comment! Thanks.

H

Hermagoras said...

sb,

I've read Darwin on Trial. I actually think it does a good job in pointing out that evolutionary biology convinces through rhetoric. There are lots of problems with it (I think it equivocates greatly on the concept of naturalism). For me, one of its great errors is in thinking that there are ways to convince that are non-rhetorical. (I'm summarizing from memory; it's been years since I've read the book, and I may not remember its arguments entirely correctly). In fact, all science is argumentative. (Other problems, beyond Johnson's representation of of the scientific evidence, include his misunderstanding of the way evidence is used in different domains.)

H

Gil Dodgen said...

Dear Hermagoras,

Please accept my apologies for the typo in your name. I really must proofread more carefully. And also please accept my apologies for any insult. The issue of origins has profound implications concerning ultimate meaning and purpose in life, if any, and that is why passions tend to run high.

Check out my website. You might enjoy listening to my classical piano albums, or challenging my AI computer program. It's all free.

Gil

Hermagoras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hermagoras said...

Gil,

I didn't mind the typo (can you guess why I chose my name? I just didn't like the dismissive remark about my readership (based, I assume, on the number of comments).

H

Larry Fafarman said...

Hermagoras said ( 12:25 AM ) --
>>>>>> 1. As I told you in email, the problem doesn't need an association, which will be merely quixotic and self-righteous. <<<<<<

Of course the association is "self-righteous" -- we are self-righteous about our belief that arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments is wrong. As for being quixotic, it is quixotic to believe that we can accomplish anything without being organized. I found out the hard way that it is impossible.

>>>>>> 2. As to your comment on UD: as I explained seemingly without understanding, my problem was not the creation of a new term. Create new terms all you want. I got pissy because that ass Jehu assumed my not knowing the term meant something about my education. <<<<<<<

OK, I misinterpreted your UD comment, but IMO there is nothing wrong with that. You clarified it here. One of the reasons why I misinterpreted your comment was that I was reading it in isolation and was not aware of its context. And IMO my misinterpretation resulted in ideas that contributed to the discussion, e.g., the idea that the term "quote mining," though a colorful expression, was really not a necessary new term because there were existing equivalents, "quoting out of context" and "cherry-picking quotes," whereas the term "literature bluffing" is apparently a necessary new term because apparently there is no equivalent. I also argued that it is OK to coin redundant new terms that could be more colorful or descriptive than existing equivalent terms.

>>>>>> Speaking of asses, tell tribune7 over there that the necessity is the mother of invention, but that Frank Zappa had the Mothers of Invention and death is the mother of beauty (Wallace Stevens). <<<<<<

As you know, Dembski is a very touchy character and I am afraid that he might get mad at me for posting something for you. For a while I would not post on UD at all because of my opposition to the arbitrary censorship that goes on there but then I decided that I was cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Also, Tribune7 appears to be somewhat on your side -- he said, "would our Ph. d. writing teacher be able to answer if he had not been booted from the building?"

Anonymous said...

You are the rhetoric scholar. I would think you would be interested in the rhetorical approaches used in the evolution discussion. They are easy to observe.

Which side pushes for evidence, which side avoids evidence and pushes rhetoric and distorts the other side's point of view. You are trained to notice the differences while we who are not trained only use our innate but untrained skills to separate sincerity from sophistry often not knowing the difference. We can only judge by the evidence and the pattern of comments people make and make conclusions on our gut feel.

Yes, a lot changed with Darwin's book and few will dispute that. I certainly don't. I think he was a genius. What I am claiming is that the success of his book was due to rhetoric and not good science. People saw in the Origin of Species something they desperately wanted and ran with it not because it was good science, it wasn't, but because it was brilliantly argued.

Suppose, that sometime in the future Darwin is pretty much discredited, what would be the analysis. My guess is that it will be called the "greatest con job of the 20th century" and rhetorical scholars should have been on top of it from the start. And the question will be how did it happen? The evidence was always there. Why was it ignored? All interesting rhetorical questions. At least I assume they are of interest to rhetoric scholars.

Evolutionary biology is the only science without any empirical evidence supporting its primary assumptions. Interesting question. Why?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. I forgot to sign my previous post. Not used to leaving comments on these blogs.

jerry

Zachriel said...

Atom: "I also dislike UD's policy of banning , I think it is too swift sometimes."

Don't fool yourself, Atom. The moderation policy at Uncommon Descent is specifically calculated to stifle reasoned dissent. That's why on a thread about rhetoric a professor of English and scholar of rhetoric is booted. That's why a Cornell biology teacher is subjected to unmoderated vitriol and accusations of lying in a discussion of biology—even though he provided one of the only ever university setting for an open discussion of Intelligent Design. That's why nearly all working biologists and geneticists are booted.

It's so that you, Atom, will not have your arguments, and more importantly, Dembski's arguments, subjected to close scrutiny. Don't fool yourself.


Zachriel, Proudly banned three times by Uncommon Descent. How many times have you been banned?


William Dembski: "If the evidence for Darwinian theory were so great, why keep slamming ID? Just present it!"

Zachriel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Fafarman said...

Gil Dodgen said (12:25 AM ) --
>>>>>> Dear Hermangoras,

Keep in mind that people like Bill Dembski and I are targets of perpetual vitriol and hatred from the Darwinist camp. This wears thin rather quickly. <<<<<<

Gil,

Having a thin skin is no excuse for arbitrarily censoring blog visitors' comments. Here are my arguments for a "fairness doctrine" prohibiting arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments:

(1) Comment space on blogs is virtually unlimited.

(2) The more popular blogs are de facto major public forums. When one is kicked off a popular blog, it is very little consolation that one can start one's own obscure little blog.

(3) Blogs are being authoritatively cited by court opinions, official news services, scholarly journal articles, etc.. A list from last year has 489 citations of blogs -- from 75 different blogs -- by law journal articles. An authoritative citation of blog material that has been subjected to arbitrary censorship lacks fairness and credibility.

(4) BVD-clad bloggers are asking for special privileges -- e.g., a "reporter's privilege" allowing them to hide the identities of confidential sources -- and so should accept some responsibilities.

(5) People have this funny idea that blogs are immune from government regulation because they are "private." If the cops find you storing kiddie porn in the "privacy" of your own home, you can be hoosegowed for life.

(6) This is not just a matter of what bloggers have a "right" to do. Arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments is rude, unfair, unethical, anti-intellectual, unscholarly, and severely damaging to a blog's credibility.

IMO there should be a law requiring arbitrarily censoring bloggers to post a prominent notice saying that they arbitrarily censor.

>>>>>> I would post here on a regular basis, except for the fact that your readership is insufficiently large to justify the effort. <<<<<<

Right. I think that you are beginning to get some idea of what I am talking about.

Hermagoras said...

tribune7: Sorry you weren't able to comment directly. I don't know why blogger is acting up for you.

As for your comment: for me to be willing to admit that ID may be 'right' in the terms it describes itself in, I'd first have to be willing to admit that it's science. Am I willing to admit that there may be a designer (or a Designer)? Absolutely. But that doesn't say anything about ID. I am also willing to admit that the boundaries of science are shifting and porous, and science changes definition over time. Am I willing to see challenges to the neo-Darwinian picture? Sure. I'm a big fan of Lynn Margulis's work, and the work of Maturana and Varela. These pose challenges to the NDE picture as I understand it in my crude layman's way, about how changes occur and the relation between species and their environemnt. But ID poses a much larger shift it asks that we introduce non-materialist explanations into science. For me (as for anybody) there are things we can consider argumentatively and things that are non-negotiable (for a variety of reasons -- they might be a threat to a person's identity, or they might seem obvious, etc. etc.)

I have no problem with non-materialism as such, but I can't see why it should count as science. That is to say, I take the view that methodological naturalism is part of science and does not imply philosophical naturalism. That's just the way science works.

So for me, the order of convincing has to be this: convince me first that non-materialist explanations should be admitted to contemporary science. When you've done that, then we can talk about why a non-materialist account of evolutionary history should fly. (IDers frequently argue the other way round, which puts the proverbial cart first.)

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

You wrote: "Which side pushes for evidence, which side avoids evidence and pushes rhetoric and distorts the other side's point of view."

This an interesting question that has to be reframed to answer. The short version of my answer is that everybody uses evidence but that different people and communities disagree on, among other things, what counts as evidence and what argument scholars call the "warrant" (that is, the relation between evidence and claim). Appeals to non-material causes are not currently accepted in science, and so there's a fundamental disagreement there.

Another thing is also going on, which has to do with the terrain on which these arguments play out. A classic article on these issues is Jeanne Fahnestock, "Accommodating Science." Written Communication 3 (1986): 275-96. Send me a private email and I'll send you the PDF. What Fahnestock traced is how claims get transformed as they move from the technical literature to the popular literature. Because the ID debate plays out primarily in the popular literature -- almost all the peer-reviewed scientific literature supports varieties of materialist science -- technical claims come to mean different things for different audience not necessarily because of, to use the term of the ID camp, "literature bluffing," but because that's what happens all the time when claims shift from the technical to the popular literature.

H

Hermagoras said...

tribune7, over at UD: It might be a Mac issue (it was for someone else upthread).

"Are you willing to admit that ID can offer non-materialist explanations?"

Yes, under a very generous and non-scientific reading of "explanation." The statement "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" is a non-materialist explanation (one that I'm fine with, BTW). But ID has not, to my knowledge, provided any non-materialist scientific explanations.

I haven't read Behe's latest but I did read DBB. I didn't think it explained anything; rather, it set IC as a problem to tackle. I don't think Dembski's work provides scientific explanations, either. I've read all the major books (NFL, ID, and DI) and think WD's accounts are philosophical at best, not scientific. I don't think the Explanatory Filter works either in its original incarnation or in its various qualified later versions for a lot of reasons. At a basic level, evolution does not mean chance but is a recursive outcome of change (variation) plus necessity (selection).

Hermagoras said...

tribune7, you can email me via my profile and I'll put the comments here if you still can't post.

Hermagoras said...

typo above: for "outcome of change" read "outcome of chance."

Smokey said...

jerry wrote:
"You are the rhetoric scholar. I would think you would be interested in the rhetorical approaches used in the evolution discussion. They are easy to observe.

"Which side pushes for evidence, which side avoids evidence and pushes rhetoric and distorts the other side's point of view."

Jerry, that's all a sideshow. The differentiating behavior is to determine which side PRODUCES NEW EVIDENCE from tests of its own hypotheses.

Right now, the ID side is producing zero evidence. Scientific disputes are never resolved by debates; they are resolved by the introduction of new data.

The ID side is afraid to produce new data, because they lack faith in their hypotheses (which they dishonestly pitch as theories).

Smokey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smokey said...

Herm wrote:
"I've read Darwin on Trial. I actually think it does a good job in pointing out that evolutionary biology convinces through rhetoric."

Why? Even the metaphor underlying DoT is phony, because the metaphorical case was loaded with hearsay. Didn't Darwin include data with his rhetoric? Are you familiar with the mountains of evidence that need no rhetoric?

"There are lots of problems with it (I think it equivocates greatly on the concept of naturalism)."

There's also the problem with Johnson's gross misrepresentation of the evidence.

"For me, one of its great errors is in thinking that there are ways to convince that are non-rhetorical. ... In fact, all science is argumentative."

In one sense that's true, but the big difference is that we scientists fundamentally stage these arguments with ourselves before arguing with anyone else. To illustrate, would you mind testing your assertion on a recent case in which dogma was decisively overturned? I think it might be illuminating.

Larry Fafarman said...

HELLO-O-O-O-O. Is there anyone here besides me who is interested in discussing the topic of this thread, arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments?

Hermagoras said...

Smokey,

I don't think there's that much difference between us. I'll try to address both of your comments.

First, I agree that ID is a sideshow that has produced no data. Its practice is entirely interpretive: it looks at (some of) the data for evolution, which is voluminous and very coherent, and says, "well, if you look at it this way...." Now, there are also lots of problems, including lies and misrepresentations, in the way it looks at the data. But even if there weren't such problems, it still wouldn't produce data because it's entirely interpretive.

I also agree that DoT is problematic in all the ways you say. My "agreement" with it, such as it is, is simply in pointing out that scientific views are held argumentatively and in that sense are theory-laden. But any book by SJ Gould (especially Wonderful Life) does that without misrepresenting the science in the process. So it's a pretty small area of concord.

You write: "In one sense that's true [that all science is argumentative], but the big difference is that we scientists fundamentally stage these arguments with ourselves before arguing with anyone else."

I think that's right, but since ID isn't science, they don't have a lot of choice. :-)

Hermagoras said...

Larry,

No. And that's ok by me.

H

Anonymous said...

Smokey if you are still here or Hermagoras since you seem to agree with Smokey,

Smokey said

"Didn't Darwin include data with his rhetoric? Are you familiar with the mountains of evidence that need no rhetoric?"

I was under the impression that Darwin didn't produce any evidence for natural selection in the OOS, only speculation.

In fact I am under the impression there is no evidence for natural selection ever creating a new species. Lots of slight modifications of genomes of single cell organisms but no real new species.

Correct me if II am wrong but most text books still use the Darwin finches and peppered moths as examples and that is the best they can do.

Maybe some specifics from the Origin of Species might help.

When you provide me with the evidence then maybe we can discuss what a side show is.

Darwin was a master of rhetoric not a scientist. Actually he diid a good job classifying barnacles was a good pigeon breeeder.

jerry

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

I am under the impression that you have read a lot more Jonathan Wells than Darwin.

Anyway, Darwin provides a lot of evidence in the Origin, but you have to read it -- not read about it -- to find out. He even does experiments (about things like survival or plant seeds in salt water over time) and makes very careful observations (look at the chapter on instinct and the careful explanation of ant behavior and honeycombs). You should read it sometime.

If you want a contemporary version of the arguments, see Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones, which uses the same organization as the Origin. If you want to understand contemporary evolution clearly and without cant, see What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr. Don't just repeat arguments from Icons of Evolution (now there's a book that is entirely rhetorical).

H

Hermagoras said...

tribune7,
Peeping in through the glazed windows over at Uncommon Descent, I see you've sent me an email? I haven't gotten it, honestly, or I would have responded.

jerry,
I have "a history of belittling Dembski"? I've only made a few posts about UD, and all of them are true. He did link to a hedonistic, know-nothing crank. Have you checked out the ICON-RIDS guy for yourself?

Still, even if I had been excessively snarky over here, it seems astonishing that my behavior elsewhere on the web would be grounds for banning me over at UD. A regular commenter at UD devotes a lot of his own blog to denying the Holocaust. So if you post at UD, the rule is:

Holocaust denial on your own blog = OK
Accurately mock Dembski on your own blog = not OK

On the hypocrisy over there, I will mention just two more things:

(1) WD's comparison of Coyne to Herman Munster,
(2) the very presence of the odious Galapagos Finch

And I'm the one who's violating civil discourse. Right.

H

Hermagoras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zachriel said...

jerry: "I was under the impression that Darwin didn't produce any evidence for natural selection in the OOS, only speculation."

Maybe you forgot that Darwin went around the world collecting evidence nearly thirty years before he published Origin of Species. One important observation was the geographical distribution of species.

jerry: "Actually he did a good job classifying barnacles was a good pigeon breeder."

Um, that's what we call evidence. And well you should mention barnacles, because his intensive study of barnacles was sufficient to establish his reputation among scientists, while his study of earthworms was sufficient to establish his public reputation, and the sheer volume of his scientific studies, including observations of moths, orchids, bees, beetles, coral reefs, as well as related studies of geology, made him one of the most important scientists of his age—even without including Origin of Species.

Perhaps your ignorance can be cured. Here is a list of Darwin's primary scientific output:

* The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle
* Natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle
* The Breeding of Animals
* The structure and distribution of coral reefs.
* Fertilisation of British orchids by insect agency
* On the agency of bees in the fertilisation of papilionaceous flowers

As well as published observations on living and fossil Cirripedia, animal intelligence, insectivorous plants; cross breeding hybrid dianths; the effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom; the different forms of flowers on plants of the same species; the effect of seawater on seeds; mouse-coloured breed of ponies; bees and the fertilisation of kidney beans; cross-breeds of strawberries; flowers and their unbidden guests; the power of movement in plants; the formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms; nectar-secreting organs of plants, Rhea americana, Chiasognathus Grantii, Carabus, Geospiza, Camarhynchus, Cactornis and Certhidea, Sagitta, planariæ; Lizard's eggs; observations of proofs of recent elevation on the coast of Chili; the geology of the Falkland Islands; on certain areas of elevation and subsidence in the Pacific and Indian oceans, as deduced from the study of coral formations; on the connexion of certain volcanic phænomena, and on the formation of mountain-chains and volcanos, as the effects of continental elevations; vincas, frogs, rates, geese, butterflies, teasel, ants, holly berries and their bees, primrose, black sheep, mosquitoes, cherry blossoms, gladioli, penguin ducks, fumariaceae, influence of pollen on the appearance of seed, etc.


Your attempt to minimize Darwin's works only illustrates the shallowness of your knowledge of his work. Please try to learn from this experience.

Hermagoras said...

Zachriel,

Thanks for the link. I started this blog for my interests in rhetoric and politics, but if we're going to have a discussion of science, I'll put some science links up as well. The Darwin Online site is the first.

H

Hermagoras said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zachriel said...

Hermagoras: "I started this blog for my interests in rhetoric and politics, but if we're going to have a discussion of science, I'll put some science links up as well."

In the interest of rhetoric, jerry used the tried-and-true rhetorical technique known as handwaving. He should take a look at Darwin's scientific output, then retract his previous minimization of Darwin's scientific credentials.

Origin of Species is an excellent example (albeit dated) of careful reasoning by marshalling evidence in order to convince your skeptical scientific peers, directly answering important objections, and providing insights into how to further research the hypothesis. The Theory of Evolution has spawned entire new fields of research. This very thread shows how Darwin's long argument remains relevant.

By the way, Darwin's book on earthworms was his best seller.

Hermagoras said...

Tribune 7,

Found it! I had to search around because it was just signed T7. Somehow it got lost in my inbox.

Here's what you wrote:

"Are you willing to admit that ID can offer non-materialist explanations?" . . . Yes, under a very generous and non-scientific reading of "explanation." The statement "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" is a non-materialist explanation

OK, but the statement 'in the beginning God created . . .' has nothing to with ID. How could ID address that or any non-material explanation?

Would you be able to admit that IDists may be right in claiming ID can offer material explanations?


Here is my response:

ID is premised on a comment to a non-materialist view of science. The purpose statement of UD reads in part, "intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution." This is not isolated. One finds attacks on materialist science throughout the work of Dembski, Johnson, and all the others. Occasionally they make gestures in the direction of a material designer (panspermia or some other alien idea), but none of them really believe that. The entire goal of ID is to overthrow materialist science. Think about the changing definitions of science in Kansas, which all the ID major figures supported: it tried to change the definition of science so it wasn't restricted to natural explanations. (They called this admission of supernatural cause a "traditional" definition of science.)

Zachriel,

I love the earthworm book. Darwin essentially explains the topsoil of England through the humble daily action of those little worms.

H

Hermagoras said...

Correction: for "a comment to" above, read "a commitment to."

Anonymous said...

Please tell me what Darwin found that is evidence for natural selection or the gradual changes in species from one to another.

Thank you for listing Darwin's achievements. I will keep them in mind next time I talk about him. I was aware of most of them but don't consider them relevant to the topic at hand.

I never said anything about Jonathan Wells. I have 5 biology books in my collection, both high school and college including recent editions by Miller and by Campbell. I also have in my possession the Teaching Company course on biology. I was using these as my sample.

You are the rhetoric scholar and please analyze what arguments you are using to answer my questions. What is the reference to Jonathan Well classified as when he has no relevance to the discussion and was never mentioned.

You attacked by assessment that Darwin was not a scientist, well and good, but you did not attack my assessment that there was no evidence for natural selection or the formation of new species. Interesting choice of responses by you and Zachriel. I am aware of many of Darwin's achievements mentioned. A trap was laid and you and Zachriel fell into it.

Geographical dispersion of plant and animal life is not a validation of gradualism let alone natural selection. It may be, but this is not evidence of natural selection at work producing new species and the point of the book was new species. It is only a basis for hypotheses and hypotheses do not make a science. Nor does careful collection of largely irrelevant data to the formation of new species. The data was probably valuable for the study of ecology, not gradualism in the formation of new species through natural selection.

What is it called when someone doesn't attack the main premise but focuses on the periphery. You are the expert at rhetoric. Assess your own actions.

I don't defend some of the things Dembski posts and said above

"I disagree with a lot of the threads he posts on his site but in general sympathize with what his objectives are."

My philosophy is to let critics remain as long as they remain civil because it becomes quickly very clear that they have no relevant arguments. None have been forthcoming here, only irrelevant activities of Darwin, references to the authority of other authors and the implied use of another author as authority by myself. Like Diogenes, I keep looking for an honest Darwinist. So far I have found two.

Thank you for the opportunity to post my thoughts and observations. They are always open to change based on what I learn.

jerry

Anonymous said...

I find it curious that Gil won't be back because your readership is insufficiently large. DaveScot made a similar comment to Alan Fx some months ago. For me, this encapsulates the entire ID movement.

They are not interested in conversation and understanding, which only needs two people interested in the exchange. Oh, no. They are interested in a attention of a large crowd, as if that somehow confers legitimacy on them. Certainly, revolutions draw large crowds. Alas, so do spectacles. Pity they don't know the difference.

Zachriel said...

jerry: "Thank you for listing Darwin's achievements. I will keep them in mind next time I talk about him. I was aware of most of them but don't consider them relevant to the topic at hand."

One handwave followed by another. This is what you wrote:

jerry: "Darwin was a master of rhetoric not a scientist."

Yours was the rhetorical device, and it was based on a false premise. Darwin was a scientist by any reasonable definition. Just his work on orchids or earthworms justify that assertion. But of a scientist of his stature and productivity, they are barely footnotes. (When you are in the garden digging earthworms, you might remember Darwin.)

You owe a retraction. Darwin was one of the most important and productive scientists of his age. Your attempt to minimize his scientific contributions only works within the cloister of Uncommon Descent.

Zachriel said...

jerry: "Please tell me what Darwin found that is evidence for natural selection or the gradual changes in species from one to another."

Be happy to. We start with common descent (as it applies to most taxa). The evidence for common descent is found in the nested hierarchy of morphology, biogeography, embryology, and recently confirmed in genomes. Are we okay so far?

afarensis said...

To add my two cents to the Darwin as scientist issue, Darwin's books are filled with experiments he performed to verify the hypothesis he had about the origin of species diversity. How many have ID proponents performed (my guess is a lot less than Darwin)? Over and above that, he made regular contributions to the literature - publishing in Nature, for example - and when necessary modified his views based on further data. Consider his exchange with Romanes over vestigial organs as an example (See the second volume of The variation of animals and plants under domestication page 309 and various articles on the Darwin Online Website for further details). In point of fact Darwin's scientific abilities were such that he was asked to contribute several chapters to a science manual for the English navy...

Anonymous said...

Zachriel,

Common descent in no way implies gradualism or a Darwinian method as the mechanism of evolution or even a naturalistic mechanism. Darwinian and naturalistic mechanisms are consistent with common descent but that does not provide a proof that either is a cause of it.

I definitely believe in common descent and can list several reasons for it. So does Behe. In his new book he points our it is a common flaw made to defend Darwinism but it is a non sequitur.

I will follow this with a rather long post on how I see the argument. I also retract my statement that Darwin was not a scientist because it was used as means to generate a response which I anticipated.

Thank you for your response.

jerry

Anonymous said...

Hermagoras,

You make the statement that ID is a side show. Maybe some parts of it are but some are definitely not.

Evolutionary biology is really two separate parts.

The first is what actually happened and when. What changes took place in life forms over time. Within this is the identification of species and the times that they were present on the earth and the relationship, if any, one species had to another that preceded it or came after it. ID does not really disagree with any findings per se in this area just some of the conclusions. Just as there are numerous disagreements among those who study these issues, people in the ID camp can agree or disagree with each other or with those in evolutionary biology on the significance of a finding. For example, what could have preceded the Cambrian explosion, do birds descend from dinosaurs or is the sequence from forrest animal to whales really a validation of natural selection. Are humans and chimpanzees descended from a common ancestor. Many in ID will use population genetics to estimate the time span of changes and likelihood they could have happened but it is not central to the basic conclusion of ID. It is not an ID argument that population genetics does not/cannot explain what the records show but some within ID are particularly interested in the speed of changes and how likely they are. The use of population genetics to validate or disprove an hypothesis is not a side show but may have implications for the speed of changes by a gradualistic approach.

There are some who support ID that do not accept common descent but there are many that say it is obvious. So common descent is not an element of ID and should never be used to attack ID since within ID are both those who accept and do not accept common descent. Disagreeing on this topic does not force one to agree or disagree with ID. I along with many in ID think common descent is obvious and it is futile to argue against it.

The second part of evolutionary biology is really the issue of contention. And that is what are the mechanisms for the changes seen or just what causes the origin of species. The prevailing paradigm is gradualism and ID argues that for certain relatively minor changes this is well and good. But for other changes, gradualism cannot explain the changes so one has to look for another mechanism. So in this second part, what ID is concerned about is an analysis of the mechanisms for change that have been offered to explain the changes. Part of this analysis is a critical look at the mechanism of gradualism. The evidence for gradualism is overwhelmingly on the side it never happened except for trivial changes. But yet this is the accepted paradigm and is what students in this country and the world are taught as truth. There are plenty of skeptics of gradualism within the evolutionary biology field. Critical analysis of scientific data is not a side show though the use of the term "interpretive" seems to be used to belittle it. When is clear interpretation a side show?

So ID looks elsewhere as do many evolutionary biologists. You mention Margulis and Maturana and Varela so you are familiar with some technical areas of biology that do not involve gradualism. Naturalistic mechanisms other than gradualism are not in conflict with ID if they can be shown to have worked or are likely to have worked. ID is essentially about probability or in more laymen's terms, likelihood of working or to have happened. Horizontal gene transfer within micro organisms is well accepted.

It is just as the level of the systems get more complicated, the lower the likelihood that the system could have been built up by naturalistic means. This is core area of dispute. If the complexity did arise out of naturalistic means then what evidence is there to support such a point of view other than wishful speculation. Self organization has often been evoked but no real evidence has been forthcoming to support this hypothesis. ID has looked at all these systems and the proposed mechanisms and has yet to find a naturalistic method that would explain how such complexity that appears in the cell or in body systems could have arisen. Yet wishful speculation on such appearances is presented as fact or just around the corner in textbooks. The main debate is really about the presentation of wishful speculation as fact in the curriculum. If evolutionary biologist would admit this and publish it in the textbooks, most of ID would go home and be satisfied.

Of course there is one explanation that could account for the complexity found in biological system and that is an intelligence so ID says that some of the complexity is best explained by intelligence and some have tried to quantify when an intelligent agent was involved. So ID offers an explanation and is exploring ways to verify it since there are no video cameras that recorded biological history. Biology offers at best wishful speculation that is presented as fact. One thing for sure gradualism cannot explain it. That is what Behe's recent book is about. And that is why a lot of evolutionary biologists are searching for a different mechanism and their day in the sun. Dembski has tried to quantify the likelihood of something happening by naturalistic means (chance and law) and one is welcome to dispute the attempt but the criticism is mostly not at the level of a dispute over data which is interesting. It is a much more visceral reaction which I also find interesting.

You mention the difference between what is accepted at the scientific level and what is known by the public. However, there is an in between literature and that is the textbook and the documents used to teach graduate students. Those are accessible to those who make the effort even if they are not in the graduate programs and it is on the accuracy of this literature that the objections are raised by people supporting ID. It is not hard to verify the accuracy of what is behind textbook claims.

ID says nothing about the supernatural but those fighting ID try their hardest to paint that assumption on ID because they have rigged the discipline of science against God ever having an effect. That is an absurd proposition and yet no one discusses the absurdity of it. Assuming there is a God, nothing in science proceeds any differently in terms of what is allowed. In fact it might open up some new hypotheses. It does add just one hypothesis and that hypothesis is that there is a God and this God acted at least one time in the history of this universe. Otherwise science is exactly where it is today and has been for a couple thousand years. For most of that time, science was done by those who believed in God and thought He had an input into our existence. It didn't inhibit them and nor will it inhibit anyone today, atheist, deist, or believer in some active God. The God of the Gaps argument is cliché argument for those who want to distract from the basic issues and are really insisting that there is no God.

Sorry for the length.

jerry

Zachriel said...

jerry: "Common descent in no way implies gradualism or a Darwinian method as the mechanism of evolution or even a naturalistic mechanism."

It's the first step, which is why I asked 'Are we okay so far?'

jerry: "I definitely believe in common descent ..."

Good. Now some specific observations:

* Populations will tend to increase exponentially, but resources are necessarily limited.
* There is heritable variation in populations.
* Variations that are more fit in a given environment are more apt to survive.

In more modern terms, we define "evolution" as the change in allele frequencies in populations over time. Evolution can be directly observed. We can predict that the rate of observed morphological change must be greater than or equal to the rate of morphological change (measured in darwins) observed in the fossil record. This has been confirmed by a variety of different methodologies (Gingerich 1983, Rightmire 1985, Reznick 1997). Furthermore, we can directly observe and measure natural selection and other mechanisms of evolution.

Zachriel said...

jerry: "There are some who support ID that do not accept common descent but there are many that say it is obvious. So common descent is not an element of ID and should never be used to attack ID since within ID are both those who accept and do not accept common descent."

Think about it. People and frogs share a common ancestor. Rejecting Common Descent (as it applies to most taxa) is rejecting one of the most profound unifying facts in biology. There is no scientific credibility quibbling over rates of evolutionary change, or details of transitions that happened in the earliest epochs in life's history, all the while rejecting Common Descent.

jerry: "So ID offers an explanation and is exploring ways to verify it since there are no video cameras that recorded biological history.

If they were merely speculation, I wouldn't care. But the leaders of the ID movement claim to have the scientific evidence, They don't.

NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCES: "The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested."

jerry: "Biology offers at best wishful speculation that is presented as fact.

In fact, the Theory of Evolution makes very specific empirical predictions, and in many different fields of study; from paleontology to biology to genetics.

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

"ID says nothing about the supernatural but those fighting ID try their hardest to paint that assumption on ID because they have rigged the discipline of science against God ever having an effect."

Look, science is not "rigged" against God having an effect. Science looks for natural explanations because that's what it does. Criticisms or modifications of the current evolutionary picture must provide an alternative natural explanation. ID has none, and so it's not science.

Behe has to admit to common descent, but almost no others in the ID camp do. Dembski is "unconvinced," some are YECs (Nelson etc.), some like Johnson deliberately hide their views so as not to muddy the waters. There's a reason almost nobody in ID admits to common descent: once you admit to that, there's no reason to keep bringing in design to monkeywrench the system.

Anonymous said...

Zachariel said,

"* Populations will tend to increase exponentially, but resources are necessarily limited.
* There is heritable variation in populations.
* Variations that are more fit in a given environment are more apt to survive.

In more modern terms, we define "evolution" as the change in allele frequencies in populations over time. Evolution can be directly observed. "

Good, this is NDE 101 and there is nothing here that ID objects to.

Next,

"We can predict that the rate of observed morphological change must be greater than or equal to the rate of morphological change (measured in darwins) observed in the fossil record. This has been confirmed by a variety of different methodologies (Gingerich 1983, Rightmire 1985, Reznick 1997). Furthermore, we can directly observe and measure natural selection and other mechanisms of evolution."

This is an interesting juxtaposition of words that I have not seen before and also some extremely interesting claims.

"measured in darwins" - Is darwins an actual measure?

I will have to look up this new wrinkle, You can actually measure natural selection? This is interesting since a large percentage of evolutionary biologists think genetic drift is the way to go to explain allele frequency changes. But before I comment on your rabbits, I will have to look it up.

In your other comment you essentially made appeals to authority. Hey present some evidence of natural selection producing new species and especially what Darwin presented to back up his conclusions.

Hermagoras should be all over these bogus arguments as a rhetoric scholar.

Next to see what hermagoras has to say.

jerry

Anonymous said...

Hermagoras said,

"Look, science is not "rigged" against God having an effect. Science looks for natural explanations because that's what it does."

I have a question. What happens when God inputed something? How would a scientist go about investigating that or recognize it? If you don't admit that God could have an input, then you will not be able to recognize it or consider it when it may be there. No reason to give up looking, just admit it could be an answer some places. To deny that is to deny God exists and had an input in the world and that is not necessary to do science.

"Criticisms or modifications of the current evolutionary picture must provide an alternative natural explanation."

Intelligence operates all the time in our universe. Why is this not a natural explanation for some phenomena. I noticed you used the word "must" but why use that word when God could have done something. It doesn't mean you stop looking but it means there could be something that doesn't fit the pattern of law and chance. Why should you argue against the use of the word "could" in my last sentence.

And by the way, ID does not presuppose God. In another1-2 thousand years we may have the capability to seed other planets with life and would that life be intelligently designed?

You are using clichés and you as a rhetoric scholar should know better. There must be some fallacy such as begging the question whe one eliminate God as an explanation by saying God is not allowed because we don't allow it.

Behe always subscribed to common descent and so do many others. Who cares what some other say or believe. Common descent has nothing to do with ID. So it is not an argument. What fallacy is that?

Thanks for letting me respond.

jerry

Zachriel said...

jerry: "Common descent has nothing to do with ID."

You can't just wave away the most profound fact in biology. Common descent and the mechanisms of that divergence are what needs to be explained. Refusing to grapple with that fact leaves ID vacuous.

We're back to square one. You say you accept Common Descent, but you have apparently yet to grasp the profound importance of knowing that humans share common ancestors with birds and bees.

afarensis said...

I would argue that the reason we don't consider gods input is two fold. First, all of the phenomena we have encountered so far can be explained by natural causes - or don't you believe that natural causes operate in the universe? Second, an adequate method for detecting God has yet to be developed. Proceeding to some of your other criticisms/questions. You claim that intelligence operates in the universe all the time but fail to back that up with data, yet when Zachriel provides you with some data you accuse him of an appeal to authority, seems like a weird double standard. By the way, yes natural selection can be measured. I suggest you google "natural selection in the wild" and "selective sweeps". Yes, darwins are an actual measure. The darwin was defined in 1949 by Haldane. Haldane defined it as a change of a factor "e" (the base of natural logarithms) per million years. The term is frequently used in the literature.

Anonymous said...

Zachriel,

I accept common descent. There is no evidence to support a gradualistic change from one species to another. The first has evidence to back it up, the second does not.

Common descent and gradualistic changes are not necessarily related and given the lack of evidence for a gradualistic approach, the proper inference is they are not related.

You can have a hypothesis, but that is the best you can do and then you have to explain the lack of gradualistic evidence or otherwise your hypothesis is based on blind faith and nothing more.

jerry

Anonymous said...

afarensis,

Some of your comments do not make sense.

"First, all of the phenomena we have encountered so far can be explained by natural causes" Did you ever consider the OOL question. They are nowhere on that, and I mean nowhere. If anything cries for an intelligent input, this does.

"or don't you believe that natural causes operate in the universe? " Where did I ever question that? I mention natural causes as law plus chance.

"Second, an adequate method for detecting God has yet to be developed." I agree but what has that to do with anything?

"You claim that intelligence operates in the universe all the time but fail to back that up with data" Next time you use your computer, think this device was designed by an intelligent agency.

"when Zachriel provides you with some data you accuse him of an appeal to authority," What data did Zachriel provide me? If I missed it, then I will go back and look at it.

Thank you for your comments about how natural selection can be measured. I will look at them. I never heard anyone use them but will see what is known. Wikipedia doesn't have much and given the hotness of evolution as a topic, that may be saying something. They don't even provide an example.

Guys, is this the best you can do. Show me the Money! Where is the evidence showing gradualism leads to new species.

Before I go to bed tonight, i have another long post for you all to chew on.

Best to all,

jerry

Anonymous said...

Since, I have been reading about evolution, it seems that both sides have been talking past each other and it is obvious both sides are to blame. Each will state their respective positions which are obvious to themselves. I find that those at Dembski’s site often do the same thing which is why I have been pushing for common definitions and correct understanding of what NDE is about. However, I must admit I have learned a lot from discussions at UD just as I learned about 'darwins' tonight..

Another way to illustrate this lack of understanding each position is the following analysis of evolutionary theory:

Evolution is a 4 tier theory.

The first tier is the origin of life or how did a cell and DNA, RNA and proteins arise. Quite a sticky issue with no sensible answer by science. Lots of speculation and wishful thinking but nothing that makes sense. The problem is enormous yet few admit it. Just imagine how you construct a ribosome by chance. A high percentage of ID concerns are in this tier and zero concerns by NDE. A recent discussion in Robert Shapiro’s article in Scientific American was about this and it is interesting that he invoked Darwinian processes to bolster his claims. Usually, evolutionary biology stays away from OOL.

The second tier is how did a one cell organism form multi-cell organisms and this include how did such complex organisms as the eye arise as these multi-cell organisms arose. How, did brains, limbs, digestive systems, neurological systems arise and all the complex signalling systems between cells and organs. These are immensely complicated but get little discussion except it all happened over time. We have all seen the “it must have evolved” comment in journal articles which I believe is a "begging the question fallacy." This is also an important area for ID but not as much so for Darwinists. Irreducible complexity operates in this tier. Also most of these systems must have developed before the Cambrian Explosion so there is relatively little geological time for these complexities to have developed and no fossil record of such a predecessor.

This means that the organisms that appeared during the Cambrian Explosion and their relationship to each other is important. Nothing in the organisms of the Cambrian Explosion is consistent with a gradualist approach to species. It is definitely top down, not bottom up.

The third tier is the one that gets the most debate in the popular press and that is how did one species arise from another species when there are substantial functional differences between them. This is the majors of macro evolution. How did insects, birds and bats get wings to fly, how did land creatures develop oxygen breathing systems or how did man get opposable thumbs or such a big brain and why such a long time for children to develop. How did 4 chamber hearts and warm vs. cold blooded arise. There is lots of speculation but no hard evidence. An occasional fossil is brought up to show the progression ignoring the fact that there had to be tens of thousands of other steps for these progressions of which only a handful have been found. I believe the forest animal to whale is now NDE’s best example here. In this tier the ID and the Darwinist are sometimes on common turf fighting it out. But ID is relatively less interested in the issues here but annoyingly point out the lack of evidence to back up any "just so stories".

There is another part of the third tier which I call macro-evolution light or the minors. This is how did a lot of the orders and families develop? For example, within Carnivora how did all the families arise? ID seldom cares about this area but evolutionary biology does. I don’t think ID would care much if someone showed how all the family canidae or felidae arose by gradualistic approaches but yet the evolutionary biologists would claim that would be a major verification of their theory. This area is a bridge between the third tier and the fourth tier.

The fourth tier is what Darwin observed on his trip on the Beagle and what most of evolutionist are talking about when they think evolution, namely micro-evolution and can be explained by basic genetics, occasional mutations, environmental pressures and of course, natural selection. Few disagree on this fourth tier including those who call themselves Intelligent Design proponents yet this is where all the evidence is that is used to persuade everyone that Darwinism is a valid theory. And even here the evidence is thin with most of the evidence coming from changes in single celled organisms. The evidence in this tier is used to justify the first three tiers because the materialist needs all four tiers to justify their philosophy of life but the relevance of the evidence in tier 4 for the other tiers is scant at best.

So to sum up, my experience is that ID concentrates on tier 1 and 2, a little bit on tier 3 and are not concerned at all with tier 4. And until all in this debate realize the differences there will be no joint intelligent conversation by design or by chance.

Good night everyone,

jerry

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

"What happens when God inputed [sic] something? How would a scientist go about investigating that or recognize it?" As far as I can see, a scientist would have no way of investigating such things scientifically, since scientists look for natural causes for natural events. This does not deny that God exists; it's just how science works.

God or a gods could have done lots of things, but supernatural events (such as intervening at various points along the common descent line with design) are not investigated scientifically. The proper response to skepticism about, say, the role of natural selection in common descent is "I don't know what happened." If you want to continue investigating as a scientist, you look for some other natural mechanism. This is kind of what Margulis did with microbial evolution. If you abandon natural mechanisms, you cease doing science.

I don't think I've used any cliches or begged any questions. One starts with common descent because so many IDers deny it or refuse to answer (Behe being the only major exception) and because the once you get to common descent, then the question becomes what happened. Given common descent, and given that everything we know about how populations reproduce is naturalistic, and given that there's no evidence for non-material interventions in any observed reproduction, it seems that the easiest inference is to think that they got from ancestor to descendant naturally. From there the Darwinian mechanism has all this beautiful elegant stuff behind it, including nifty genetic mechanisms for making new stuff, a universal code of life with nothing particularly special about humans on that level, genetic homologies among related species that fit nicely with the evolutionary picture, etc. etc. So what's your mechanism for how we got from then to now? A designer decided, ok, let's have a continuous history of life, let's make everything look related, but let's make all those relations only apparent or, worse, pointless, because as the designer I'm going to intervene at every little stage along the way? Common descent has everything to do with ID because even Behe, ID's sole prominent believer in common descent, doesn't think the relationships mean anything.

With regard to your critiques of Zachriel, Z did not "appeal to authority" in the fallacious sense. Rather, he cited some relevant literature. The notes in scientific texts are appeals to the authority of the scientific community, yes, but they are also a way of submitting to the authority of that same community. Something which the IDers refuse to do. That is, they insist that they be treated as scientists -- in fact, as serious proponents of a scientific theory that should be taken so seriously as to be taught in the public schools -- when they produce no scientific data or experimental work and don't publish in the scientific literature.

afarensis said...

Jerry, it is well known thathumans design things. Where else in the universe does intelligence operate. Seems to me you are equivocating on your definition of intelligent agency. You brought up the issue of detecting god's input into the universe so you tell me what having an adequate method of detecting it has to do with anything. The data Zachriel provided you with was some references where the rate of morphological change was measured in the fossil record. You say:

Thank you for your comments about how natural selection can be measured. I will look at them. I never heard anyone use them but will see what is known. Wikipedia doesn't have much and given the hotness of evolution as a topic, that may be saying something. They don't even provide an example.

Let me be a little more clear. Measuring Natural Selection in the Wild is actually the name of a book by Endler that is actually a massive survey of -at that time - all the studies that measured natural selection in wild populations. As mentioned, the term darwins appears quite frequently in the literature (mainly in biology and paleontology). Rather than consulting Wikipedia I would consult PubMed and explore the actual literature on the subject. You ask us to show evidence of how gradualism can turn one species into another yet you can't grasp the fact that we can measure selection so I'm not exactly sure how we would proceed in that endeavor.

Smokey said...

jerry: You attacked by assessment that Darwin was not a scientist, well and good, but you did not attack my assessment that there was no evidence for natural selection or the formation of new species.
That's just as ignorant as your false claim that Darwin wasn't a scientist and didn't produce data. Are you satisfied now?

So, on what do you base your "assessment," Jerry? Do you realize that there's far more evidence for the formation of new species by nondarwinian mechanisms?

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

I'm afraid your "4 tier theory" shows a seriously warped understanding of evolutionary biology. I don't even know where to begin. I'd just suggest that you stop trying to educate yourself in an ad-hoc manner by visiting blogs and that you pick up a couple of really solid books on the basics (Mayr's is a good one). I don't mean to be patronizing, but it really seem to me that you're trying to learn stuff "on the fly," as it were, and you have to sit back and see the big picture.

Let em just make a suggestion here about a way to rethink the picture you've provided (flawed as it is):

Evolutionary textbooks provide examples from things we can see because they're good teaching examples. On that level (what you call "what Darwin observed") even you seem to think that it's very solid. It's true that there's less information about what life was like before the Cambrian period -- but of course, there are some fossils and all sorts of interesting evidence there. Should we assume that the world worked differently back then? That although everything we know about the world we can see and experiment with suggests that natural laws operate within natural laws and by natural processes, that the world at a very large scale, or very long ago, operated by non-naturalistic means? That's what Behe implies with his "edge of evolution" diagram. That fuzzy bar says natural laws here, but no farther. But why should we believe that?

Take an example: Galileo. No, I'm not going to talk about the earth moving. I'm going to talk about spots on the Moon. One of the things that medieval astronomy assumed was that the world below the Moon (the sublunar world) was changeable and flawed, whereas the Moon marked a sphere above which things were perfect. What Galileo's telescope showed was that planets had moons of their own and that planets, and the Moon, were imperfect. (It wasn't the Moon's spots, but the changes in those spots that pointed toward an uneven surface, that was the challenge.) What Galileo showed was that the world out there operated by the same principles as the world down here.

IDers generally and Behe quite specifically bring us back to the equivalent of a medieval worldview for biology. Behe says evolution works this far -- coincidentally, just as far as we are really best at observing -- but further on he says, no, it's different. On the scale and the time we know best, evolution. Back then, there's a designer. Or designer, or designers. But there's nothing to suggest that the principles are any different. Just our wish for another world than the one we have.

Anonymous said...

I will be leaving since this is going no where. I ask for evidence and what do I get, a unit of measure and the following:

"From there the Darwinian mechanism has all this beautiful elegant stuff behind it, including nifty genetic mechanisms for making new stuff, a universal code of life with nothing particularly special about humans on that level, genetic homologies among related species that fit nicely with the evolutionary picture, etc. etc."

They would fit nicely if it happened. I agree. Darwin's ideas are a great unifying principle that I once believed. The only thing missing is any evidence for it happening.

When you gentlemen have any, find a surrogate to go to UD and present it or go anywhere you want. The reason most people end up getting banned at UD or leave is that they cannot provide any evidence that is the basis for their beliefs.

Bob O'Hara has never presented any. He just nibbles around the periphery. If there is any evidence ask Bob to present it for you guys. I don't think coming up with "darwins" as a unit of measure is the "ticket to ride."

The first one to find evidence to support Darwin's ideas of evolution has a nobel prize waiting for them in Oslo. Good luck with your search.

Thanks for all that you have taught me here. I can now add darwins to my vocabulary.

Best to all,

jerry

Zachriel said...

jerry: "I will be leaving since this is going no where. I ask for evidence and what do I get..."

But jerry, you apparently aren't even familiar with Darwin's original evidence. And we have provided you evidence, and we would be happy to provide as much as you want.

You say you accept common descent. So we know that people and pandas share a common ancestor, and we can point to a lot of transitionals both before (common descent of vertebrates) and after the divergence (common descent of people and primates, pandas and bears). So we know life evolves, the only question remains the mechanisms of this change.

We can directly observe various mechanisms of evolutionary change, genetic, morphology, speciation, selection, drift, etc. And these mechanisms are sufficiently powerful to largely explain the observed divergence.

You want to insert "Intelligent Design" that works by an unknown mechanism, but can't provide any evidence of support.

Sure, maybe aliens in flying saucers tampered with human evolution. Maybe Earth was seeded by disembodied brains from another galaxy. Maybe God gives a gentle shove to evolutionary processes every once in a while. But there is no scientific evidence of this, and there is no evidence that the historical record of life on Earth requires such a push.

Try this. You say you already accept Common Descent. What would the evidence look like if this descent were due to an ad hoc evolutionary process? We might see rapid radiations into new niches. We might see huge numbers of extinctions. We might see vestigial structures or cooption. We might see the instability of species and degrees of reproductive isolation.

Consider what Darwin saw. On geologically young islands, he saw species that resembled the mainland species, but new species that had radiated into the new environment. Turtles adapting to take the place of grazing animals. Finches adapting to take the place of woodpeckers. Because the islands were young, it provided a glimpse of a process over geological timescales.

This is the evidence you ask for. And it stretches across many lines of evidence from geology to biology to genetics.

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

Sorry to see you go. I'm afraid it's not my responsibility to hold your hand and read Darwin (or a contemporary account of evolutionary biology) to you.

H

Hermagoras said...

Jerry,

With respect to the Nobel Prize: too late! Nobels aren't given for confirming what is already known. But lots of Nobels have been given for work based on evolution see this article and the comments.

afarensis said...

Jerry,
It is a shame that you are leaving. I was looking forward to discussing how we measure natural selection - since it is a key component of speciation. Since you are leaving allow me to suggest you pick up a good textbook on population genetics and learn something about detect and measure natural selection. Most have several chapters devoted to the subject...

Hawks said...

Just a minor point: it would be extremely unlikely that you would go to Oslo to collect a Nobel prize regarding anything that has to do with biological research. The Nobel prizes are handed out in Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden. Only one prize is handed out in Oslo - the peace one.

Oh, and I believe I was also banned from posting at UD once upon a time. At least the last five or so comments I submitted never showed up. No one ever told me, though...

Hermagoras said...

Hawks,

I thought I was banned but then some showed up. Then Dembski said "Hermagoras is no longer with us" and I could no longer sign in to post. Over at After the Bar Closes I learned that banning from UD comes in many forms.

Zachriel said...

It seems jerry has retreated to behind the walls of moderation within the confines of the cloister we know as Uncommon Descent.

jerry: "The genius of Darwin and Dawkins is their rhetoric and their use of pseudo-arguments."

What is ironic is that jerry feels he cannot defend his position out in the world, so uses the ultimate rhetorical device of arguing against a muted opponent.

Hermagoras said...

True. If I were to say, "Jerry is no longer with us," it would be because he went back into the fortress.

The person I really want to talk to there is scordova. It's not enough he misunderstands evolution through and through, but now he's sullying the fine art of rhetoric too? Which leads jerry to statements like this:

"There should be a site devoted to the pseudo-arguments used in the evolution debate."

Sigh. For these guys, anything that doesn't have the form of a syllogism is a pseudo-argument. If I start on everything that's wrong jerry's notion of "pseudo-arugments,' I'll never stop. Anyway, terminology aside, there's already such a site, a rich repository of bad arguments, bullshitting, bloviating, and handwaving. It's called the Discovery Institute.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hermagoras,

I too have tried several times to have my comments posted on UD but their policy of only letting the choir sing has always resulted in my being rejected.

Well, I finally managed to get through on the thread from which you were recently booted. Below is what I posted. I anxiously await Behe's or another's defense as to why a key (and easy to find) research paper was ignored in the "Edge of Evolution" perhaps it was because it completely undermined his chapter 5 in the book.
*************************
From the Discovery Institute website:
“Literature bluffing is the indiscriminate citation of scientific papers and articles whose titles or abstracts may seem germane to the problem at hand, but which on careful reading prove not to settle the issue, or even not to have any relevance to it. Like a squid spewing out ink to confuse a pursuer, or a fighter jet dispensing chaff to deflect incoming missiles, a literature bluffer floods the discussion with citations to distract attention from the real issues.”

I hardly think that my pointing out that Behe’s omission of the Briggs et al. 2004 paper constitute’s “literature bluffing” (the supposed topic of this thread).

In the Edge of Evolution Behe wrote “It is clear from careful experimental work with all ciliated cells that have been examined, from alga to mice, that a functioning cilium requires a working IFT.” But Briggs and co-workers demonstrated that this is NOT true, and they did it three years before the publication of Behe’s latest book.

So the question is did Dr. Behe never see this paper during all his careful research on the topic, or did he ignore it?

-Mark Farmer

Hermagoras said...

Mark,

My prediction: the UD people will (a) stress that such an omission is not literature bluffing, since LB is citing something that does not support your work as though it does rather than (as Behe does) ignoring something that refutes your work; (b) try to say that the paper is either not really relevant or that Behe qualified the claim in question somewhere else in TEOE; (c) say that the claim isn't that important anyway; and (d) ban you from further discussion as a rabblerouser and ne'er-do-well.

Hermagoras said...

Mark,

Prediction (a) confirmed!

H