Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Dembski Affair-- Part 2-- Students have their say

1-- THE Q&A
For god knows what reason, Trinity Baptists let people just ask questions. I dont know whether they didnt talk to their colleagues about filtering questions, or they just KNEW Jesus was going to be on their side, but the Q&A was good old fashioned FUN!

It did not start out well. The fellow who took out the ad offered to apologize (he didnt know about the Dover Transcript)-- but he did get a good jab in, pointing out that several people in the audience had published more papers than the entire ID community in 10 years.

The second question was from a poor student that didnt understand how Dembski 'operates'. She let him twist around on her... but she did get an interesting admission out of him (again, paraphrased for now): "I've got plenty of ulterior religious motive, I'd like to see ID succeed because of my Christian background and beliefs."

But Im afraid that Jesus let those poor, poor Trinity Creationists down. God wanted nothing to do with Dembski during the rest of the Q&A... and the students ate him alive. Student after student, grad student, some not looking a day over 18, micro students, and towards the end, and art student, took a bite. I will either get audio up, or write up a transcript while we're working on the audio, to honor each of those students that stood up and made Dembski answer their questions . Not moving from the mic, repeating themselves, until they got an answer, or a final sign that Demski would not answer their question. Logan (Im going to embarass the hell out of you, sorry!), was adorably nervous, but you know what he got Dembski to say? After several minutes of tapdancing, and Logan not budging, rephrasing his question several times, Dembski finally stated that he did not accept that humans evolved from another species.

Which I wish he had admitted before my question. See, the major theme of Dembskis talk was 'evilution cant do this' 'evilution hasnt shown that', 'you know, if someone would just SHOW me the evidence, ID be an evilutionist!' The other theme was "POOOOOOOOOOOR MEEEEEEEE! POOR CREATIONISTS! EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET US!! I SUFFER SO MUCH BECAUSE OF MY MESSAGE OF TRUTH! POOOOR MEEEEEEEE!!!"

One of my major research projects is impossible, if Dembski is right. ERVs have nothing to do with common descent. According to Behe, my other research project is impossible. I might as well pack up the lab and go home. But if I could only SHOW them evidence of HIV evolution, THEN they would be an evilutionist, right?

Wrong.

So when Dembski wouldnt take Dr. Philip Klebba's offer to actually hear the evidence for the evolution of the bacterial flagella, I decided to ask a different question than the one I originally intended:
"I do HIV research. A while ago I wrote a critique of Behes 'Edge of Evolution'. You all didnt respond with 'science.' I was invited to UD to discuss HIV evolution, and after 3 posts I was banned. I was then sexually harassed and threatened, and slandered on your blog. ID Creationists talk so much about how theyre martyrs and theyre persecuted-- if youve got so much science on your side, why do you have to go after a grad student like that?"

Dembski replied that he knew I was trying to embarrass him (no, I was pointing out to everyone that youre a liar and youre a bully) but he didnt follow the exchange, other people ran his blog.

To which I replied "Maybe you werent following this discussion because you were busy composing fake letters from the president of Baylor."

Ladies and gentlemen, the look on Dembskis face. The look on Dembskis face was priceless. Jaw on the floor, eyes as big as saucers-- the audience roaring with laughter. After bumbling for a minute, he said that was another topic. He then suggested that I link to the discussion on my blog and people can see how bad we are and how bad you are (my cue to smile and bat my eyes at the audience).

"Oh I already did. My blog is endogenousretrovirus.blogspot.com"

Dembski "Yeah your ERV." WAIT A MINUTE! TIME OUT TAMPA BAY! I thought Dembski didnt follow this chain of events on his blog? ROFL! Magically knew my handle! AAAAAHAHAHA!

Me "Yes, Im ERV. I also study endogenous retroviruses and how they relate to cancer" (another cute smile to the audience). At which point I head back to my seat. But Dembski wont shut up! "Well I was gonna close UD in 2005 cause I didnt have time for it but I kept it open and know I have some hard line people at my blog and you run your blog how you want!"

AAAAAHAHAHA!

Well the pwn train just keeps rolling. Student after student after student-- It turned into a party. The audience heckled Demsbki when he wouldnt answer questions. We were laughing before, during, and after his answers.

Finally, the Creationists had had enough. Somebody had to stand up for Jesus.

"Im just so disappointed in OU students and how closed minded they are!!!"

Dembski made it perfectly clear at that point that the attacks against me were no accidental oversight. Dembski used this Creationist as an opportunity to attack the students that were exposing him as a fool: "Well dont be so hard on them. Theyre just sucking up to their professors."

This comment turned into another awesome joke against Dembski, because another student came up to ask why ID Creationist found it necessary to promote their ideas in school boards and high schools, NOT in the scientific arena. Suddenly, the man who moments earlier had suggested college and graduate students were too dumb to understand Evolution vs Creationism and were just 'trying to impress their professors', was appalled at the idea that high school kids were 'too dumb to understand evolution.' The student kicked ass-- "Its not that theyre dumb. Im not qualified to talk about the Big Bang, but that doesnt make me dumb." Nothing meaningful in Dembskis responses.

But the evening didnt end there. There was a small, unexpected epilogue.

** Edit 9:15 pm, 9/18/07-- I forgot to add, when I mentioned I did HIV research, Dembski jabbed "Youll have a job for a long time." Thats when I went from amused at Dembskis tap-dancing to angry. "I can assure you I would be the happiest unemployed person on the planet."
God hes an asshole.

44 comments:

Kevin Z said...

Reading this right now, I have such pride in my eyes. If only you could see the glow in my eyes and smile on my face. YOU MUST get some video or at least audio up. Did they allow cameras?? I want to see students ask questions and the reactions on his face for myself.

Great work "the famous" ERV.

But did you really say that bit about composing fake letters in front of him and the audience?? Or is it fanciful exaggeration? I REALLY want you to have actually said that and get it on tape.

If you prove to me that everything you said here about how he was ripped a new one (by means of audio or video), you will receive some of Penn State's Mount Nitanny Winery's best in the mail.

(not that its a hard thing to do, make a fool out of a creationist that is, but its just personally gratifying...)

dochocson said...

Bravo, Abbie.

I look forward to the audio and/or transcript. Heck, I'd even be willing to chip in a few bucks to offset any costs involved.

Sadly, I fully expect to see FtK and her associates rush to Dembski's defense. They will choose to ignore the transcript and audio and instead focus on how mean everyone is being to their dear figurehead.

Vodyanoj said...

hilarious. lovely. gorgeous. you made my day! ROTLMAO!

ERV said...

Yes, I said it. But the audience is laughing so loudly afterwards that its hard to hear our exchange for a while :)

We're working on the audio :)

Forthekids said...

dochocson,

Nah, I don't need to defend Dembski. I've seen him speak before, and I've also watched him tackle question after question from a combative crowd. He more than held his own...I doubt Abbie's little dissertation is completely accurate. Though, I certainly believe she sees it as such.

Here's something interesting to consider though. At almost every lecture I've been at where major players from Darwins corner are speaking, the Q&A is not open mic. They usually ask you to fill out cards and they'll "get to the questions they have time for". Eugenie Scott addressed two of mine once, but mangled one of them so she could give the answer she wanted to give.

When Dembski was at KU he spent a great deal of time answering questions from whoever showed up at the mic. Obviously, those standing in line to ask the questions are going to be the militant Darwinists. This is their chance to try to stick it to Dembski. But, OTOH, sometimes it lets the crowd get a glimpse of the attitudes that some of you have...

Abbie, I kept up with your little confrontation with the UD crowd, and I guess I missed the part where you were "sexually harrassed and threatened". That's pretty hard to imagine. From where I was sitting, you were the one making one vile comment after the other. Sal was as calm as a cucumber.

If you think that UD was hard on you, then you ought to spend a day in my shoes. Some Darwinists are unbelievably obnoxious. You learn to just go with it after a while.

ERV said...

Abbie, I kept up with your little confrontation with the UD crowd, and I guess I missed the part where you were "sexually harrassed and threatened".
Read 'Another Savage Blow.'

Ian said...

I doubt Abbie's little dissertation is completely accurate.
Actually, Abbie's summary is quite accurate. I was laughing too hard (about the Baylor letter) to see the look in Dembski's eyes at her question, but I'd vouch for the rest of it (except for the "POOOOOOOOOOOR MEEEEEEEE! POOR CREATIONISTS! EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET US!! I SUFFER SO MUCH BECAUSE OF MY MESSAGE OF TRUTH! POOOOR MEEEEEEEE!!!"; those weren't Dembski's actual words).

If anything, I'd say that Logan, Abbie and Dr Klebba were more effective then they appear here - for one, Abbie is probably being a little modest, and for another, something is invariably lost when you try to put it into words like that.

And, FtK, definitely - kudos to Dembski for standing there and answering the questions. I doubt I could have taken that kind of a grilling. On the other hand, I would not have stood there and lectured people about their own field of expertise and pretended to know more about it. As Dr. Klebba said: if Dembski wants to lecture people about biochemistry, maybe he needs a third PhD; that way he might actually understand what he's talking about.

dochocson said...

And FtK arrives to prove my point.

Anonymous said...

good news everyone, the trinity baptist spawn pursuit group is going to make a recording of the entire lecture available. they'll have cds and dvds in the union. a bit contrived, isn't it?

Logan said...

This "Dr Klebba" is then identified as the "Masked Man?"

Anonymous said...

I remember my first chance to ask a question after an ID lecture, 4 years back. Since the lecture was organized and advertised by christian groups, what can ID offer for christians? I gave the mic away an listened to the answer, at which point I realized I wasn't getting an answer but "yada yada". Lesson. Don't give the mic away so fast.

Forthekids said...

I have to make a correction to my post. I've seen Eugenie speak twice, and the first time she was on a panel with the Kitzmiller trial lawyers.

Last night after posting, I remembered that at that particular event there were a couple people from the audience who did ask a question. We were asked to write our questions out on cards, but they must have had time for a few more. If I remember correctly, there were only a couple.

Sorry for the error.

Forthekids said...

Ian, I don't doubt that Abbie got her jabs in. Believe me, I saw some real dingers from the KU audience as well.

I'm saying that, overall, I've no doubt that Dembski more than held his own. I've been to several of these events and the anti-ID crowd is always chomping at the bit to take them down. Believe me, Abbie isn't the first to drill Dembski. But, like I said before, many times the attitude of the person questioning makes more of an impression on the listeners than their question does.

And, yeah, Dembski is to be commended for the time he spends answering questions at these events. There was an endless string of them when he was at KU, and he remained patient and polite throughout.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

FtK, you never cease to fill the script for the ID defending creo-bot who comes in saying that the Creationist wins when it's so obvious they were trounced.

I mean you are so often the one on the receiving end of the smackdown (just search for anything by FtK at AtBC)that you must like to be on the outside looking in.

Thanks for filling your role.

At this point Abbie hold about 1 billion times the credibility that you or Dembski does.

Care to address any of Abbie's science or will you continue to play the poor put upon creationist?

Anyone want to take that bet?

Doppelganger said...

"Eugenie Scott addressed two of mine once, but mangled one of them so she could give the answer she wanted to give."

Yeah, I'm sure that is exactly what happened. That might be how you remember it, sure, but that is how these things happen.

Right, FtK?

And how is your extreme mesomorph pal - the one built like a linebacker... with a pot belly and chicken legs?

Doppelganger said...

Regarding 'sucking up to their professors', I will remind the readers of this comment, left here on this very blog:

"My apologies if I was disresptectful earlier Dr. Tchernyshyov as I did not know who you were until Bill Dembski copied on me an e-mail with your name. "


Hmmm.....

Les lane said...

Awareness of rationalizing is the beginning of wisdom.

Albatrossity said...

FtK stated her default position

But, like I said before, many times the attitude of the person questioning makes more of an impression on the listeners than their question does.

Indeed. And that is how science progresses, by inspection of the attitude of the individuals involved.

Classic FtK. No discussion of the issues, no debate about the interpretation of the scientific observations, no inclusion of data that the other side might have overlooked. Attitude is all you need.

Here's a clue. The question, and the answer (or lack thereof) matters more than the attitude. If attitude was important, Jim Watson would not be a household name. But since he asked the right questions, and got the right answer, he managed to get a Nobel Prize. And nobody (except FtK and her ilk) cares one whit about his attitude.

Collin Tierney said...

"If you prove to me that everything you said here about how he was ripped a new one (by means of audio or video), you will receive some of Penn State's Mount Nitanny Winery's best in the mail."



I'm not sure that would constitute proof of macro-pwnage.

oxytocin said...

FtK,
You have purported that Eugenie Scott may have "mangled" your question in efforts to avoid dealing with the subject you intended to discuss. What about this possibility: maybe you didn't articulate your question well? I think you'll find that no matter what topic people are discussing, whether it's based on fairy tales or not, people can misunderstand and miscommunicate quite easily. For you to automatically assume the evil "Darwinists" are eluding your lucid and erudite queries might be slightly biased in your favor.

J-Dog said...

Nothing about Bill's viscious pasting and pantsing posted yet at UD. Bill is too busy looking for his pants and trying to get his underwear out of his crack to even attempt to put a positive spin on this.

Even Densee O'Leary and DaveScot are strangely silent.

All the world wonders.

And for you, Russell - Praise Jesus! It's another miracle - you can post with your head up your butt!

kevinwparker said...

I've been to three talks by Eugenie Scott in the DC area (at George Mason, at Goucher College, and at the Goddard Space Flight Center). In every case the Q&A session was open to whomever raised their hand.

Stanton said...

ERV said, But Im afraid that Jesus let those poor, poor Trinity Creationists down.

Personally, they remind me more of the story of the fraudulent Simon Magus, where he tried to buy the powers of the Apostle Mark after the apostle healed him of disease. When Mark refused, Simon Magus then sought to show him up by summoning invisible demons to help him "perform miracles," primarily by having them carrying him around to simulate flying. Simon then fell to his death when Mark banished his diabolical flying monkeys.

tinyfrog said...

"Youll have a job for a long time."

Yes, because HIV *Evolves*.

Mike said...

Im glad i stumbled on this blog by accident. Anyways, what can i say that hasnt been said. fantastic work on dembski and his IDiot cronies

Anonymous said...

Aww, ERV, you're wasting your time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi7wo2KTkaQ

Of course, if HIV wasn't around to 'research', you'd have to get a real job.

ERV said...

Now-- Has anyone else noticed that every time I have a Creationist thread, there is a Denier that shows up?

Are *certain people* watching that think ID Creationism and HIV Denial are completely different things?

*squint*

Anon-- Youre on the wrong thread.

Chris Noble said...

"Youll have a job for a long time."

Has Dembski ever explicitly stated whether he's with his creationist buddies, Johnathon Wells and Phillip Johnson, who deny that HIV causes AIDS?

Jon Voisey said...

The goons at the DI don't just go after grad students. They'll stoop to going after undergrads if it suits their purposes.

Anonymous said...

ERV, how are creationism and the questioning of AIDS research related, besides in your mind?

ERV said...

Chris-- I should have taken the opportunity to ask :)

Jon-- Gross, Jon. Glad to see you survived your first sliming, and I hope you lost all sympathy for the Career Creationists in the process too :P

Anon-- 'Questioning AIDS' Chris! 'Questioning AIDS!' AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA What are we talking about in the other thread that this Denier isnt reading?? AAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ruth said...

Hasn't anyone else spotted the irony of FtK claiming to know more than ERV about what happened at an event that she apparently did not attend, but that ERV did? Or are you all just more used to her than I am?

Kristjan Wager said...

Ruth, I think we would be stunned if FtK didn't claim more expertice on any given subject than people who are more qualified to talk about it.

In other words, yes, we are just mroe used to her than you.

guthrie said...

Sounds like you had a good time.

And if you'll excuse me joining in on the pile on FtK, she really is that bad, she has a long history of ignoring questions, banning people from her blog etc etc.

mynym said...

Indeed. And that is how science progresses, by inspection of the attitude of the individuals involved.

Actually science does progress based on civilization and civility, basically language.

Note that it's common for people who set themselves up as the agents of science to treat supposedly irrelevant things like intents and motivations as the be all end all, thus one of the first things ERV mentions is: "I've got plenty of ulterior religious motive, I'd like to see ID succeed because of my Christian background and beliefs."

And that's fine because a lot more informs our judgment about what is true than a supposedly pure science that will lead to inevitable progress and Enlightenment for the human race. History shows that the purists of science who tend to murmur the very term as the equivalent of Truth and the summation of all knowledge and Progress are typically those who fall into errors supposedly "irrelevant" to their science like moral degeneracy or spiritual mendacity.

Albatrossity said...

mynym opined: And that's fine because a lot more informs our judgment about what is true than a supposedly pure science that will lead to inevitable progress and Enlightenment for the human race. History shows that the purists of science who tend to murmur the very term as the equivalent of Truth and the summation of all knowledge and Progress are typically those who fall into errors supposedly "irrelevant" to their science like moral degeneracy or spiritual mendacity.

There are a lot of strawmen in this paragraph. I beleive my point was simple enough, but I guess it bears repeating. here it is again, in bold, with some more background for your edification.

Focusing solely on personal characteristics, like FtK does, rather than on evidence and ideas, is not how science proceeds.

I used the example of Jim Watson as a person whose personal characteristics would not be up to FtK's standards. And yes, i have met Jim Watson. Another historical example would be Newton, who was, by all accounts, a prick. I have not met Newton, so I'll have to take someone else's word for it.

It would be nice if you could present some actual facts supporting your notions about these "purists of science". If these are historical facts, that should be simple enough to accomplish.

thanks in advance

mynym said...

Focusing solely on personal characteristics, like FtK does, rather than on evidence and ideas, is not how science proceeds.

The way purists talk one might think that science is a living being that whispered in their ear the other day but science does not proceed as an ideal absent the people who engage in it. There is no inevitable sort of Progress brought about by science. Those who say "Science does this..." "Science will do that..." "Well, science says..." tend to believe in scientism. I'm all for the original ideal that shapes people's idea of science and therefore shapes them to put facts, logic and evidence first but idealists have to realize that it's just an ideal that can't actually do or say anything apart from the minds that hold to it. And once we admit that minds must hold it then it becomes more fallible than the pure idea of Science, therefore we should typically be more humble about our state of knowledge.

Another historical example would be Newton, who was, by all accounts, a prick.

Indeed, it seems that can play a part in the pattern of geeks or the scribbling scribes of any age. Introversion, one way or another... Just look around you here or read the sycophantic Herd at PZ's blog and so on, after all. Yet all the jerks, pricks and charlatans who have PZ's type of urge to merge will never be able to touch Newton's genius because the high level of abstraction and conceptual thinking that he engaged in will be tend to be rejected. It will seem to such minds that anyone can say anything so language may as well describe a Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc.

It would be nice if you could present some actual facts supporting your notions about these "purists of science". If these are historical facts, that should be simple enough to accomplish.

Apparently I need to provide evidence that those who use the term science as the equivalent of truth and Progress tend to fall into error.

Here is an example:
"For the biologists, the test of a scientific outlook was generally identified with a society’s attitude towards eugenics; that is, its willingness to adopt a genuinely scientific stance towards questions of what used to be called “race betterment.” The Marxist and Fabian biologists believed that Western societies had largely failed this test."
(Eugenics and the Left
by Diane Paul
Journal of the History of Ideas,
Vol. 45, No. 4. (Oct. - Dec., 1984), pp. :569)

That hasn't changed that much, people still try to use Darwinian ideas as the test of a scientific outlook. Probably because purists feel that if they can say an idea isn't scientific then it cannot be true. It seems that in the minds of some science is an ideal that is the equivalent of the Progress and truth not something based on the facts, logic and evidence of Homo sapiens that must approach the task of knowledge with due humility given that they're all too human, almost just humus.

Given that Richard Dawkins still cannot understand seem to understand exactly what was wrong with eugenics, maybe you don't agree that eugenicists were in error. Given the historical and theological ignorance typical to biologists it's not surprising that they would go back. It seems that if something is even vaguely transcendent (like history) then biologists will tend to be ignorant of it. Here is a simple test for anyone stupid enough to be taken in by Darwinian "reasoning"/imagining about survival of the fittest in the past of mankind and so on, explain how Dawkins and other eugenicists are in error.

Richard Dawkins:
"...if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?
I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler's death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons."

guthrie said...

Mynym?
Now theres a name from the past. I think from the PAndas thumb. Still peddling your junk?

mynym said...

I think from the PAndas thumb.

Why is it that "scientific" claims can be made based on negative theology of this sort: "I don't think God would have made a thumb like this, so that's more overwhelming evidence that it must have been formed by natural selection." but supposedly one can never answer with positive theology: "Wings and feathers are elegantly specified to fit beauty, form and function, I think that's evidence that God would make something like this."

Why do you strain your limited intellect to argue that God wouldn't do things a certain way when you'd never allow for the opposite answer anyway? Supposedly science is to be kept pure, pure, yet here is a blog of supposed purists which includes theological claims about what God would or wouldn't do based on Victorian era theology to the same extant that Darwinism is based on the "struggle" typical to Victorian era economics.

Convenient, all negative theology seems to be "scientific" but all positive theology must be excluded because science will come to an end and so on. Apparently those that write the Panda's Thumb tend to be so ignorant of theology that they cannot even recognize their own theological claims and reasoning enough to realize their hypocrisy.

At any rate, you didn't show how Dawkin's "biological thinking" is in error and biologists are so often ignorant of history and philosophy that it is doubtful that many would begin to think of his error in thinking.

Albatrossity said...

Mynym meandered:

Apparently I need to provide evidence that those who use the term science as the equivalent of truth and Progress tend to fall into error.

Yeah, you do. And despite the electrons you wasted writing that response (and the time I wasted reading it) you still do. Anecdotes about particular scientists, or particular perversions of science like eugenics, are not proof of "tendencies." I could provide plenty of anecdotes about people who equate religion with truth and progress falling into error, and it would be a standoff. I could argue that folks who believe irrational things like religion "tend' to fall into error, in fact. I could match your anecdotes easily. In fact, given the longer history of religion on this planet, I could probably come up with a larger number. Just about every pope, for example.

As for this statement:

That hasn't changed that much, people still try to use Darwinian ideas as the test of a scientific outlook. Probably because purists feel that if they can say an idea isn't scientific then it cannot be true.

it packs a lot of bullshit into a couple of sentences. I think most scientists tend to use acceptance of evidence as the test of a scientific outlook. HIV deniers, global warming deniers, creationists, and other assorted magical thinkers do not have a scientific outlook, regardless of their views about evolution, because they don't worry about evidence, and in some cases, they actively ignore facts and logic.

The second sentence is equally appalling. Who are these "purists"? Are "they" saying that an idea can't be true if it isn't scientific, OR are they saying that if it can't be tested in a scientific way, it isn't science? I don't know if you are capable of understanding the difference, but most people are.

So it is understandable that you are sorely vexed at having ID/creationism rejected as "not-science", because you think it is true. I don't argue against the fact that it might be true, nor do I argue that you shouldn't be able to hold any idea, no matter how simple-minded, in your truth bin. I am simply arguing that it isn't science. Try to wrap your synapses around that distinction.

thanks

snaxalotl said...

this "holding his own" that creationists and other pseudo-scientists are seen to do by their supporters ... I've seen it a lot and it's always the same thing: an evasive answer, followed by his opponent not being sharp enough pin him down or explain to the audience that the answer is technically inadequate. Depressingly common on podcast debates where some well regarded scientist fails to kick creationist butt, and IMO science fans contribute when they see a demolition but what really happened was stagnant deadlock. So ... it's hugely relieving to see that a culture is emerging that knows how to hold a weasel to the flame until he gets singed. Congratulations and thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've been desperately searching for audio or video of the event, but I've found nothing. Anyone have a link?

The Inoculated Mind said...

Again, I would like to reiterate my offer to host your audio file, blips and all, on my website - there's plenty of room. Heck, I'll even work some editing voodoo on it to help get the audio more listen-able if it needs it. Bravo on the questions, and also on providing the story. I bet Dembski cried himself to sleep that night.

P.S. You're drawing this out on purpose!

Anonymous said...

What is "pwn" and "pwnage"? These "words" are not in my dictionary.