Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dembski digs his own grave

So the Q from Part One keeps going-- Once again, the young lady did a great job of digging her heels in and making Dembski answer her question. Get your barf bags ready*.

Dont say I didnt warn you.

*audience members mumble that Dembskis 'answer' isnt an answer*

*future main character instructs people to come up to the mic if they have comments*

Dembski-- You dont, you dont think I answered the question. What about you? Whe whe whe...

Young lady-- Well I would like something a little more specific. I thought it was a great example when you said Darwin said 'If you can find X I will be...

Dembski-- What he proposes is impossible to test. You know? You have to modify it, as I suggested. But ah Im not sure where you see this as an evasion. Dont just give me a type III secretory system, give me a fully articulated pathway. Im not sure why thats an unreasonable requirement ey ya would not constitute eeeeh I certainly, if I saw that, I would seriously rethink what I was doing with Intelligent Design.

Young lady-- So perhaps... way in the future they elucidate this 'designed' pathway. How to get from LA to Japan to Hawaii, whatever (reference to Dembskis presentation), would that be... sufficient...?

Whe whe I think that would go a long way. I mean right now you dont have anything like that eh ah uh would convince me. Especially considering all the havens (I seriously cant understand a word he says for a second because hes bumbling so badly)

Young lady-- Doesnt that just mean "Give us enough time and we'll find it?"

Dembski-- Well, eeeeek, I mean, get you time, get you NSF research funding, get to it! But I mean why should I buy it at this point? Why why why whyyyyyy should I bet on this? Why should the biological community bet on it? Well I think they have a lot invested in it. But you know, eh... eeeeeeeeeeehhhhhh you see this is how things happen with different changes in science people work towards (???) and other people jump ship. And those who want to work for the old paradigm, fine. But in my view your your your banging your head against a wall. And I think there are some good theoretical reasons for thinking that way. I mean...ehk... biological evolution and computational evolution are not the only kinds of evolution. Theres also technological evolution. And the Russians actually studied this very well. (blithers about Soviet Russia looking at patents and studying technological change). All natural selection is is a trial and error, bit it, it actually has very limited use in terms of creative innovations that really push technology forward. So I think just from the field of technological evolution it seems that one should not give that much play to trial and error tinkering and that IS what natural selection and random variation is!
So either FIND some new mechanisms... but nothing has been done! The biological community has come up with nothing, natural selection is it. Thats the designing substance...

MASKED MAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!! -- Can I explain it to you? Would you put up your slide of the bacterial flagella? And I would be happy to explain this system to you.

**audience ROARS with laughter-- seriously I about busted my eardrums on the audio**

Demsbki-- I have colleagues who know this system as well as you do. Ive talked to them. I DONT NEED TO GET AN EDUCATION FROM YOU!

*audience yells "YOU DOOO!" in unison*

Dembski-- SORRY! This is going to be a question and answer time! ITS NOT YOUR TURN! ITS NOT YOUR TUUUURN! WAIT YOUR TUUUUUUUUUUUUURN!

Luckily for him, it was ERVs turn.


  1. Dembski made a HUGE deal out of what Darwin 'said' and how he had disproven it! Now Darwins statement is 'impossible to test??'
  2. The young lady caught him-- "So doesnt that just mean "Give us enough time and we'll find it?"" Exactly. If ID was a positive argument, Dembski COULD have said "Nononono, here is our evidence supporting our claims." But ID is a negative argument, its a 'god of gaps', and science fills gaps. Give us enough time, and science will fill every gap ID Creationists find.
  4. In Soviet Russia, technology evolves you!
  5. Dembskis proclamations that 'the biological community' has come up with 'nothing' almost made me vomit in front of everyone. I spent four years playing with cadaver guts as a pre-med, and a Creationist curls my stomach. Its no surprise that the Masked Man chose that moment to say something. I couldnt have taken one more sentence of it myself. But he made his statement in a calm and patient voice that I will never be blessed with.**
  6. There were two mics. The young lady asking the Q was at one, I was at the other. Logan was behind me, and Masked Man was behind him. So when MM started talking, I offered him my spot at the mic. Dembski would have none of it, and started whining frantically "ITS NOT YOUR TURN!!!!!!" It was horrifying. And it was at that moment my question changed.

* I figured out how to deal with Dembskis rambling. Chocolate. Vodka. God this is taking forever... AND ITS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPELL CHECK!

** Mom: "Abbie, hon, you know you arent exactly patient with that kind of person." Me: "... What kind of person?" Mom: "You know. Stupid people." Mom and Me: "LOL!"


ERV said...

Okay, this doesnt deserve its own post... but did any of you see the season premiere of South Park last night?


Did Cartman remind any one else of Dembski...?

Dan Cardinale said...

Negative...but I'm quite enjoying the story. Between this and the thing PZ posted on angels, I'm really beginning to wonder if Dembski's really serious anymore. I look at the stuff he's saying, and I have a hard time believing anyone could be seriously saying it.

I guess I shouldn't be, though, I've only been following this stuff for 3 years or so.

Anonymous said...

Dumbski: "I walked into a library blindfolded with my fingers in my ears screaming 'YAYAYA' and didn't see a single thing that disagreed with my preconceived notions. I must therefor conclude that those walking through the library with no blindfold or ear plugs have been tainted and brainwashed. If only they enjoyed the bliss of blindness they wouldn't be so foolish as to cross the road!"

Dan said...

I'm always amazed at how much IDers try to get away with. I'm an undergrad, but if I turned in a paper purporting to be about my thoughts on something, and either the publically-available literature or my source material conflicted me, I'd get an F. I'd be chewed out for not bothering to take even a cursory look through the scientific journals before trying to present my thinking.

But this is EXACTLY what Dembski, Behe, etc constantly do, whether it's the flagellum or the eye or HIV. How did they survive as even undergrads with this kind of performance?

Dan said...

*conflicted with

Chris Noble said...

The way they flip-flop between "evolution is not falsifiable and therefore isn't science" and "evolution is falsifiable and the evidence disproves it" is laughable.

Which one is it?
If it is unfalsifiable then you can't disprove it.

386sx said...

I think just from the field of technological evolution it seems that one should not give that much play to trial and error tinkering and that IS what natural selection and random variation is!

Who's giving that much play to trial and error tinkering. He thinks people will wait a billion years for technological eyeballs to evolve? He thinks that if biological evolution is only natural selection and random variation, then people can't design stuff? What the hell is he saying.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Did Cartman remind any one else of Dembski...?

In the way he just can't help blurting out things that make him look like a complete horse's ass? Yes. Exactly.

Really enjoying the transcription. Thanks for the hard work. I suggest drinking heavily to numb the pain.

Blake Stacey said...

Mom: "Abbie, hon, you know you arent exactly patient with that kind of person." Me: "... What kind of person?" Mom: "You know. Stupid people." Mom and Me: "LOL!"

I think we've got a new tactic for debates. "My mother says Dembski is stupid. Are you calling my mother a liar?"

Josh said...

Suspense! I can't wait for the next installment.

Anonymous said...


I love these posts! They are truly spellbinding. I am shocked, I say shocked, at the level of idiocy Dembski radiates. The reason why Demsbki got completly pawned was the fact that he has been cloistered up at that crazy theological seminary for too long. Nobody there questions his ideas, they are all too dumb. He gets up in front of his class and spews crap. Problem is, when you spew crap to people who are educated and critical you look like a fool. Thank you for making him act the fool.

mugwump said...

This is great stuff, keep it coming.

I do have to say, though (in defense of Dembski -- ack, I need a shower) that anybody in that Q&A environment; transcribed word for word; with all the 'ums', 'errs', repeated words and rephrasings; would sound a bit idiotic. Very few people can be perfectly erudite in that situation.

That said, his underlying arguments are a pile of feces and HE KNOWS IT. Thanks for shining light on this cockroach.

J-Dog said...

ERV - Yes, Thank you, thank you thank you for putting up with his erms and hems and all his noxious spoutings...

In the future however, I think the first question for Dembski should be "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin"?

And the angels want to wear his red shoes... Thank you Elvis Costello. And now, for further comments about angels, we turn to Dr. Dr. William Dembksi!

dochocson said...

Maybe Dembski thinks he's the Det. Columbo of Intelligent Design.

He appears to be an bumbling idiot, but once he lures you into a false sense of security, BAM! He turns the tables on you with the full force of his prodigious intellect.

Or not.

Fred Ross said...

ERV, have you seen Uri Alon's latest paper on evolution of modularity? PMID 17888177. It's a correlation, not causation, but it's a massive signal to noise ratio, and agrees with his earlier genetic algorithm work that showed that modularity will evolve in boolean functions subjected to varying selection.

Better you than me transcribing this. Poor dear.

Anonymous said...

Where was the talk given that you are quoting and is there a schedule somewhere online of his next appearances? I'd love to see this in person.

Reginal Selkirk said...

I think we've got a new tactic for debates. "My mother says Dembski is stupid. Are you calling my mother a liar?"

I actually tried something like this once while arguing with a theist. "God spoke to me last night. He told me that he doesn't exist. Are you going to call God a liar?" I didn't get a response. If he had made the sensible response and said, "No, I'm not calling God a liar, I'm calling you a liar," then I could have questioned the integrity of his own sources, i.e. the authors of the books in the Bible, on the grounds that they are also human.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

In Soviet Russia, technology evolves you!

The work that started with Altshullers data mining of patents and developing an algorithmic description of technological system building is actually quite interesting for practical technical design methods. There is TRIZ software that suggests solutions.

I haven't studied it though, and I wouldn't be surprised if it relies heavily on analogies. In such a case it can be further condensed to "trial and error", which really is the way the patent data base comes out of. Then we haven't any detailed description to compare it with other methods, and Dembski can certainly not claim superiority on either level (deriving patents or as algorithms).

Going the other way, evolution is analogous to a restricted way of doing trial and error. The populations genome makes independent "trials" that aren't informed by the outcome as in human or AI methods. "Error" solutions can be repeated ad infinitum.

But let us concede this to Dembski. Does this mean that Dembski now is willing to accept that the populations genome (or "evolution" as Dembski will have it) learns from the environment? You know, that evolution will create information where none existed before? kthxbai!

ERV, you have my sympathies for the agony you experience. I can stand stupid people, but not people that repeatedly acts stupidly. Hmm, I would use cognac, but hey! Whatever takes you through the crap.

I think we've got a new tactic for debates.

Which can be developed to:

"Hey Dumbski, yo mama..."
"... yo mama was the one so dumb she kept yo daddy and kicked his money out!"

JimV said...

Has Dembski or his buddies ever tried to design something complicated? How many patents do they have? I designed steam and gas turbines for over 30 years, have several patents, and I see design work as very much an evolutionary process. Working on big, complex machines, you can’t be sure that improving one aspect won’t screw something else up, so you make small, incremental changes and see if they survive in the marketplace. (For simpler machines you may be able to do the environmental selection in your head or with computer models.) And where do the ideas come from? In my experience they come from cross-fertilization with ideas that competitors have had, horizontal gene transfers from other kinds of equipment (like the time we got the idea for interlocking blade shrouds from the locking mechanism of a lathe chuck that someone had seen), and yes, a lot of trial and error. If engineering design were some mystical poofing process, the first car would have been a Ferrari rather than a Model T. (Actually it was a cross between a horse-drawn wagon and a steam engine, but that’s another story.)

monado said...

My take on the similarity between ecology and economies is that both organisms and products compete for energy. For organisms, it's sunlight or food; for products, money. When a new variation appears, for example a clipboard with a calculator built into the clip, it can attract sales and perpetuate itself. If it's unpopular, it dies out. Of course, new ideas spread much more quickly than genes and by a different mechanism. There's lots of horizontal borrowing. Someone might see a clipboard with calculator and decide to make a notebook with calculator. But the winnowing process is distinctly evolutionary.