Tuesday, September 11, 2007

THEYRE ON TO US! Act natural!

hehehehe Im a 'Note from the Elders' :P

Hi, Elders! Stick around! Let me tell you a story about Billy Dembski, the con artist you just paid, what $10,000 (??) to come visit Oklahoma! Other readers, please feel free to add your own Billy stories in the comments!

A little over a month ago, I wrote a critique of Michael Behes new book 'Edge of Evolution.' Yes, Im just a student (a very new grad student), and I wrote an essay on why Behes science is irreparably wrong. Behe might be a con artist, but he is not dumb. He knows his best strategy is to ignore me, and thats what he is doing. *shrug*

Unfortunately for Behe, Billy Dembski has a poorly run (and poorly read) blog. Two of Dembskis dear, dear friends, who post under the pseudonames 'Sal Cordova' and 'DaveScot' are not as smart as Behe. They thought they had an easy target-- a young female-- so they made the decision to harass me.

They first invite me to Dembskis blog to discuss the molecular evolution of HIV, my specialty. Though I had to dodge misogynistic comments and outright aggression, I answered their questions politely and scientifically (archived here).

I got to post three times. Three. They were initially 'held in moderation', but Sal/Dave ultimately banned me.

For talking science.

I was invited to post on Billys blog in the hopes I would either slip up and give them a comment to quote mine, or I would be intimidated into silence. When it became clear the former would not happen, Sal Cordova proceeded to harass me on my own blog, and on his blog where I was not allowed to comment or address his slanderous claims....... until I stuck his head on a pike. (Note to the Elders: dont underestimate young female researchers)

Another Intelligent Design PR contributor, Casey Luskin, has abandoned all semblance of 'this is a SCIENTIFIC discussion' and proclaimed that I dont know anything about HIV because Im an atheist and pro-civil rights.

Where was Billy when his blog was being used as a means to harass, intimidate, and slander a young female student? Why, posting fake letters from the 'president of Baylor', slandering other Baptists.

Great way to spend your money, Elders.

Im sure that money couldnt have been used to feed hungry people.

Or, you know, cure AIDS.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ten GRAND for talking complete BS?!?!

Nice work if you can get it.

Fleecing the flock. Snake oil salesmen have got nothing on these characters.

I bet ERV would give a talk on real science for half that!

Tyler DiPietro said...

"I bet ERV would give a talk on real science for half that!"

Indeed, that seems to be the problem.

If I were super-cynical and just a bit more evil I'd pretend to "surrender to Jesus" and parade about at events like these. And then, when I accumulate a sufficient amount of money, announce at an atheist event that it had all been a con and that I have their money.

These people will fucking believe anything, it's so tempting!

Iron Soul said...

I come back every day hoping some old true believer has been foolish enough to call you out again. I'd love to see another one skewered. Your Sal take down was the most entertaining thing I've seen in awhile.

ERV said...

Anon-- Their 'goal' was $5000. They were pushing the flock for $10K. Check the first link. Theres a no-kill animal shelter in Norman that really could have used that $10K. I wonder what kind of school supplies, books, computers, etc a local elementary school could have bought for $10K.

But no. $10K to bring a charlatan to town.


Tyler-- Dont be silly. Yes, Creationists can make good money duping churches. Brad Harrub is a no-name and he got $3K for three, one hour hate speeches.

But it cant be intellectually satisfying.

The real money and the real challenge is in being an evil genius, and I admit Ive thought about it. They bring in the big bucks.

ERV said...

Hey Iron!

Dont worry. Creationists dont learn from their mistakes (Young Earth-->Old Earth-->Creation Science-->ID-->Sudden emergance-->etc etc etc).

Give them a bit. Theyll forget, and Ill have to put a fresh head at the gates.

Chris Harrison said...

"THEYRE ON TO US! Act natural!"


Nooooo. They don't like natural(ism). We should act supernatural.

Course, I dunno how to do that, which is unfortunate.

Bob O'Hara said...

Looks like you've got a lot of ot of reading for homework tonight.

Or set up a thread to ask for Dembski's Greatest Hits and Ebola (*fart*).

Bob

Israel Barrantes said...

Even catholics see the difference: "Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science." (Fr. George Coyne). So they shouldn't say that all christians deny evolution. BTW, those 10,000 bucks should be spent on charity or in feeding the poorest

Forthekids said...

Heck, that's pocket change.

Sam Harris will cost ya $25,000 to spread his gospel for the godless.

Israel Barrantes said...

What i'm trying to say, is that catholic people (like me) are tired to be grouped with those that do not accept evolution as a fact. Take Francisco Ayala, for example, who is a catholic but who also thinks that "Intelligent design does not provide any natural explanation that can be tested." The current official Catholic teaching is that evolution is in no way contrary to the Bible, and Scriptures must be taken as philosophy and as faith examples, but not as merely historical facts.

I lived in three continents, and insist that (with just a few exceptions, like one guy at the Max Planck in Koln) this just happens here in the States.

C'mon, i've never seen people in Spain (almost 100% catholic) or even in South America, saying that man coexisted with dinosaurs! LOL

Albatrossity said...

Hey, FtK

Welcome back!

I believe you still have at least one unanswered question on another thread at this blog. To save you the trouble of hunting for it (that can be real pesty when you are so busy), here it is again.

Please provide some experimental approach to allow science to study entities or forces (e.g. intelligent designers, souls, etc.) that seem not to interact in any observable way with the natural world.

thanks in advance

ERV said...

Israel-- I was taught evolution by wonderful Christian professors, and I hate it when radical theists play the True Christian card.
hehehehe But youre a Catholic. Might as well be a Mormon to radical Baptists.

Oh-- and this is America. In America, 'churches' are tax free 'charitable' institutions. Bringing Dembski to town IS charity.

FtK-- Sam Harris has a two year old book that is still #1 in several categories on Amazon.com. He has a recent best seller.

Los del Rio was a bigger hit than Billy. Los del Rio didnt accept money from 'charity' organizations to support radical Christian domionists.
This also ignores the fact that there are dozens of Christian science faculty at OU that would have spoken to OU students about Science vs Religion for free.

This church is flaunting money. "We COULD spend this money on emergency defibrillators for all the public schools. But instead, we're gonna spend it on nothing."

They might have just as well burned it.

Forthekids said...

Dave,

The reason I didn't answer your question is because I thought you were joking.

Asking a question like that in regard to ID is like asking an evolutionist a question about abiogenesis...

~So, tell me how the mechanisms of evolution took hold of that first microbe that arose from the fictitious primordial soup (a theory, btw, that is on its last legs). While you're at it, give me a run down on how that little microbe initially developed the ability to burp out other microbes which wandered off and started reproducing as well.~

That explanation should make for a beautiful naturalists just so creation story, but your answer of course will be...

"The ToE doesn't broach the topic of abiogenesis."

Of course it doesn't...it can't.

So, my answer to you (again) is that ID doesn’t contemplate the designer or try to test “entities or forces". It only considers whether we can infer design when considering the complexity of nature.

Albatrossity said...

FtK

Nice try. The fact that I asked it three times should be a clue that I wasn't joking,

So when you write So, my answer to you (again) is that ID doesn’t contemplate the designer or try to test “entities or forces". It only considers whether we can infer design when considering the complexity of nature.

you are basically saying that it can't be tested. And thus is not science.

Thanks for playing.

quantok said...

FtK asked "...tell me how the mechanisms of evolution took hold of that first microbe that arose from the fictitious primordial soup..."

Um, I'm not an expert on abiogenesis but isn't that like starting a history of technology with the wheel?

Hypothetical simple replicating organic molecules — that's your target, surely? Not as easy to hit as hypothetical self-causative deity with testicles, of course.

Albatrossity said...

Oh, and I forgot to address this bit of rhetoric:

Asking a question like that in regard to ID is like asking an evolutionist a question about abiogenesis...

~So, tell me how the mechanisms of evolution took hold of that first microbe that arose from the fictitious primordial soup (a theory, btw, that is on its last legs). While you're at it, give me a run down on how that little microbe initially developed the ability to burp out other microbes which wandered off and started reproducing as well.~

That explanation should make for a beautiful naturalists just so creation story, but your answer of course will be...

"The ToE doesn't broach the topic of abiogenesis."

Of course it doesn't...it can't.


Two quick points here.

1) ID professes to explain abiogenesis (formerly known as creation and still using that name in church). But it has no mechanism, and thus no testable hypotheses about abiogenesis other than the well known "inference" of design. Explanations, in order to be useful, need to go beyond inference. Unless you have more than that (and you admitted you don't), ID is no more adequate as an explanation of abiogenesis than is the theory of evolution. Pot, meet kettle.

2) ID professes to be science. Indeed the theory of evolution, a well-supported scientific framework, does not explain abiogenesis. But it also does not explain gravity, continental drift, and many other phenomena. Those are the domain of other branches of science. And several of the sciences (particularly chemistry, geology, and molecular biology) do address abiogenesis, although they do not yet explain it with a full-fledged theory. So science, unlike ID, gives us testable hypotheses about abiogenesis that are unheard of in the ID world.

Science works. ID flounders. Science makes progress. ID makes flatulence animations. 'Nuff said.

Ian said...

BTW -there's also a "Faculty Luncheon" from 11.00-2.00 at the "Governor and Regents Room" in the Union as well. It's titled: Intelligent Design: Yesterday's Orthodoxy, Today's Heresy.

Somehow I suspect Aristotle's name will come up. Maybe Beckwith (though maybe not, since he's no longer a DI Fellow), probably Gonzales. If we're really lucky, maybe he'll come up with some more spoof letters...

ERV said...

Intelligent Design: Yesterday's Orthodoxy, Today's Heresy.

Witches Causing Miscarriages: Yesterday's Orthodoxy, Today's Heresy.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Kansas, went to church at least once every week, went to university at Kansas State and taught high biology outside of Wichita. I know Kansas and people like Ftk well - she could be any number of relatives.
One relative was college-educated with a Masters in Science, but had been raised Southern Baptist. Evolution was a touchy subject - the breakthrough came when he realized antievolutionists lied not only about science, but also about Christianity.
Christians who understand their faith know evolution is not an issue - just like heliocentrism is not an issue. A literal reading of the Bible is not a requirement. Read the Nicene Creed - it doesn’t mention anything about the Bible’s use as a science text.
All I can say about FtK is she suffers from either a lack of understanding of Christianity or a stultifying fundamentalist upbringing from which she is yet to recover. If the former, then she likely doesn’t have an understanding of science either. I would suggest scooting down the road from Topeka to KU or KSU and becoming a biology major at a real university - then perhaps another degree in religion.

J-Dog said...

I just saw your updated link, and the Elders' attempt to cover some naked buttocks - Cool!

Funny stuff! Clearly, "Elder" does not mean smarter. However, I recommend that you take some muscle with you, because IMO "Elder" does mean vindictive and petty.

Congratulations - You are my new hero!

your mom's diary said...

I think the issue with the money isn't really all that hard to see, looking at it from the church's point of view. They believe

1) In God. This separates them from almost any evolutionist.

2) A God who reveals himself. Separated here from most forms of pagan superstition and other natural religions, as well as deism.

3) That evolution is the creation story of a naturalistic worldview which is based from the get-go on defining the above mentioned God out of the question...at least epistemologically.

So, given all those things, it's easy to see how a church, not to mention local Christian faculty and businessmen, would see it as a wiser long-term investment than school supplies or animal shelters. They're addressing the ultimate questions. That's more important in the mean time than pencils and spiral notebooks. (plus...the educational system these kids are in is teaching a naturalistic worldview and sciences based on a methodological naturalism.)

Not only that, but you can't really believe the whole 10,000 goes toward the speaker. You've got food, hotel rooms, travel, event expenses, literature, etc. And really, you couldn't get an equally leading mind in such a movement for an honorarium probably anywhere near $10k. I would assume most are twice that, at least.

The Factician said...

Not only that, but you can't really believe the whole 10,000 goes toward the speaker. You've got food, hotel rooms, travel, event expenses, literature, etc. And really, you couldn't get an equally leading mind in such a movement for an honorarium probably anywhere near $10k. I would assume most are twice that, at least.

That's some hotel. I don't know about you, but $10K would send me on a 6 month vacation...

I assume you could get any qualified academic for a few hundred bucks and a hamburger. We're really not paid that well. But this church is not interested in science. They're interested in religion.

That's the point.

ERV said...

Anon-- ... the breakthrough came when he realized antievolutionists lied not only about science, but also about Christianity...
Thats the story for a lot of kids. Its a painful experience, realizing the people you trust took advantage of you... *sigh*

As for FtK-- she is a grown adult with internet access. While a degree would be the best idea, there is no excuse to be ignorant on topics that interest you in todays technological era.

J-dog-- After my interactions with a local 'Church of Christ', I am well aware that I need to be on my guard. Thanks :)

Your moms diary-- Seems like this situation could be solved by this churchs pastor calling OUs biology department, saying "Id like to speak with a Christian biology professor", and asking him/her to give a little evening seminar on 'Faith and Science.'
You, for instance, think that most 'evolutionists' dont believe in god. I dont. But my evolutionary biology professors did. There are a multitude of commenters here that are theistic evolutionists. I bet some of them are going to come along in a bit and snip at you for belittling their faith.

So, given all those things, it's easy to see how a church, not to mention local Christian faculty and businessmen, would see it as a wiser long-term investment than school supplies or animal shelters.
And yet, radical Christians declare a monopoly on morality. Their behavior, their decision to flaunt their money this way, is disgusting. I would have been happier if their pastor took the money and took a vacation to England (oh wait, looks like he already did that...).
Disgusting. I want nothing to do with their 'morality.'

And really, you couldn't get an equally leading mind in such a movement for an honorarium probably anywhere near $10k.
Dembski isnt a leading mind in anything. Hes a loser. He would not exist if it werent for the Evolution/Creationism 'controversy', and even now, no one knows his name except for people who follow this garbage.
And this allllllll ignores the fact that a real, live scientist at OU would have done a better presentation for free.
Showoffs and braggarts-- wasting money when others need it. Are Baptists the Paris Hiltons of religion?

your mom's diary said...

factician,

I assume you could get any qualified academic for a few hundred bucks and a hamburger. We're really not paid that well. But this church is not interested in science. They're interested in religion.

Of course they're interested in religion. That hasn't been contested. But in order for them to spread their religion, they would of course have to deal with the ideas that would stand in the way of its acceptance. Naturalistic evolution is, obviously, one of those.


Miss ERV

I would have been happier if their pastor took the money and took a vacation to England (oh wait, looks like he already did that...).
Disgusting. I want nothing to do with their 'morality.'


Yeah I read that blog entry too. Did you read where it mentioned why he was sent there? To present a paper (for the second time) at the Oxford Roundtable? I would think you would actually be somewhat intrigued by a church that cared enough to send its pastor into a very academic (not to mention antagonistic) realm?

There are a multitude of commenters here that are theistic evolutionists. I bet some of them are going to come along in a bit and snip at you for belittling their faith.

Didn't do that. I just said that most evolutionists aren't believers. But the better term would probably have been 'naturalists', as opposed to 'evolutionists'. And I didn't say anything negative or 'belittle' them; I simply stated a fact.

Dembski isnt a leading mind in anything. Hes a loser. He would not exist if it werent for the Evolution/Creationism 'controversy', and even now, no one knows his name except for people who follow this garbage.

Hmm. You're probably right. A lot fewer people would probably know about Dembski were it not for this controversy. But that has no bearing on his credentials.

Are you aware that one of his books was published by Cambridge University Press, and was peer-reviewed by a panel of (I believe) 7 people, one of which was a Nobel laureate? I think that's interesting. Apparently they thought his arguments compelling enough to publish.

Could it be there's more to the ID movement than you think?

ERV said...

Diary-- Yeah I read that blog entry too. Did you read where it mentioned why he was sent there?
Yes, to talk about imaginary creatures and pretend theyre real. How academic.

I just said that most evolutionists aren't believers.
Passive aggressively suggesting that theistic evolutionists arent True Christians in your three points. "True Christians dont believe that evolution crap! They believe THE BIBLE!"

But that has no bearing on his credentials.
Yes, it does. I know most people think jobs in academia doing research are plentiful and we all drive sports cars and have trophy wives (even the female scientists!). The fact is more biologists/physicists/mathematicians/etc are graduated from grad school than there are jobs for.
If youre good, you get a spot. Even if youre good, you might not find a job. Yet Dembski, who has proven no theorems (Winnie has.) or contributed to the mathematics community in any way, is a 'respected mathematician' because of Creationism.

He is a loser.

Are you aware that one of his books was published by Cambridge University Press, and was peer-reviewed by a panel of (I believe) 7 people, one of which was a Nobel laureate? I think that's interesting. Apparently they thought his arguments compelling enough to publish.
Professional scientists/mathematicians do not release their ideas to the world in direct-to-publication books. Even ones published by 'Cambridge' 'Oxford' or 'Glasgow'. You publish your ideas in journals to convince your colleagues you are right, and THEN you translate that information to the general public in a digestible manner through pop culture books, if you wish.
The fact of the matter is Dembski is regarded as an idiot by his 'fellow' mathematicians, making errors they find amusing (and disturbing).

Could it be there's more to the ID movement than you think?
Like what?

olegt said...

YMD,

At some point the IDers decided that they had had it with peer review in mainstream scientific journals. In 2002 they created (errr, I mean designed!) their own journal named Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID).

You'd think the journal would be brimming with scholarly articles on the subject of ID. Alas, it died at the end of 2005, apparently from natural causes.

So forget peer-reviewed literature: IDers don't have enough ideas to fill even their own quarterly journal.

your mom's diary said...

ERV

Yes, to talk about imaginary creatures and pretend theyre real. How academic.

I'm afraid I don't understand this at all.

Passive aggressively suggesting that theistic evolutionists arent True Christians in your three points. "True Christians dont believe that evolution crap! They believe THE BIBLE!"

Firstly, you're right. True Christians do believe the Bible. We've found common ground!

Secondly, my mouth is getting awfully full from all the words you're cramming in there. :) I simply said evolution is the naturalistic story for how things came to be. Notice, as I also said in my previous comment but which you seemed to ignore, that I made the real issue naturalistic evolution. You don't have to be an atheist to be an evolutionist, but you must be an evolutionist if you're going to be an atheist.

Note: I did not juxtapose Christianity and evolution. The real issue here is naturalism


Professional scientists/mathematicians do not release their ideas to the world in direct-to-publication books. Even ones published by 'Cambridge' 'Oxford' or 'Glasgow'. You publish your ideas in journals to convince your colleagues you are right, and THEN you translate that information to the general public in a digestible manner through pop culture books, if you wish.


Dembski's response to this:

Academic monograph series, like the Cambridge series that published my book, have an academic review board that is structured and functions identically to the review boards of academic journals. At the time of my book’s publication, the review board for Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory included members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as one Nobel laureate, John Harsanyi, who shared the prize in 1994 with John Nash, the protagonist in the film A Beautiful Mind. As it is, The Design Inference had to pass peer-review with three anonymous referees before Brian Skyrms, who heads the academic review board for this Cambridge series, would recommend it for publication to the Cambridge University Press editors in New York. Brian Skyrms is on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine as well as a member of the National Academic of Sciences. It is easy enough to confirm what I’m saying here by contacting him.

found here.

He also mentions a few publications where his work is cited in peer-reviewed journals, in a positive light. I'm sure you can find the relevant issues to confirm.

p.s. If you think The Design Inference is 'digestible, you might try reading it. I would, but I already know a Ph.D. in applied statistics who said the math was over his head.

p.p.s Another list of a few peer-reviewed publications containing or citing ID work is found here.

Some of these include Journal of Molecular Biology, Annual Review of Genetics, and the Journal of Theoretical Biology, among others.

olegt said...

YMD,

I'm not sure whether your Ph.D. acquaintance is familiar with the book in question. The math in it isn't that hard because it's not about math. Here's how Dembski himself characterizes the book:

"My work in The Design Inference was essentially a work on the philosophical foundations of probability theory, trying to understand how to interpret probabilities in certain contexts."

Dembski didn't introduce any new math, he just tried to reinterpret the old probability theory in his own creative way. Apparently, some philosophers found it not that hard to digest, saw through Dembski's tricks and wrote a critique. And apparently, Dembski took their criticism seriously enough to write a lengthy response. Which means the philosophers (who are not statisticians) were indeed able to digest it.

I have not read the book, but I am familiar with the arguments made in it. Even a cursory examination shows that the book is not related to biology in any way.

Gary S. Hurd said...

"We should act supernatural.

Course, I dunno how to do that, which is unfortunate."


First you need to get a cape. I think we used a beachtowel as kids.

JanieBelle said...

"First you need to get a cape. I think we used a beachtowel as kids."

Oh, and spandex. You have to have really tight, sexy spandex, legs cut over the hip, and low in the front to show lots of cleavage. (Be sure to get a bikini wax first, though.)

It's in the manual.

michael f said...

I have Dr. Dembski's book in front of me. Dr. Harsanyi is on the list of advisory editors (11 in total) for the series. There is no indication from any source (including the Acknowledgment section) that Dr. Harsanyi had anything to do with the book. One could ask him, but he died in 2000.

In the preface Dr. Dembski defines design inference as "the logic by which "patterned improbability" is detected and demonstrated." The idea being that if a "sufficiently improbable event conforms to the right sort of pattern" it is likely designed by an intelligent agent.
Unfortunately for his argument, it is impossible to know whether or not something has the "right sort of pattern" unless we know who the intelligent agent is. Dr. Dembski uses the word Constantinople as an example. The probability is 1 in 26^14, but it only appears nonrandom because we understand English or a similar language. If we didn't, it would appear to be random just as njrdsipxeqmmaw would. There is no way we could apply this to a non-natural designer because we cannot study non-nature. One improbable event is just as likely to be designed by a non-natural designer as another. (Too many people have this naive view that gods are just really smart people.) Dr. Demski's method might be able to detect human-designed artifacts, but I don't know of anyone using his methodology to look for design in living systems. Do you - your mom's diary?

386sx said...

The "Elders" think that a sarcastic remark like "Remember the line, folks-- ID Creationism has nothing to do with religion" means that somebody "has taken Trinity to task for bringing William Dembski to the OU campus and connecting that with the gospel"? If anybody would take them to task for connecting ID with the gospel, it would be William Dembski and the ID crowd, wouldn't it?

The Elders: "The notion that Trinity (and many other people) would believe that the universe was intelligently designed is completely consistent with the worldview in which we hold and believe to be true."

Well... alright already, we believe you!! Lol.