Research on Intelligent Design

To put together scientific advances from the perspective of Intelligent Design.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dilbert, from Sunday Comics to Serious Debates

Dilbert, from Sunday Comics to Serious Debates (well, with some irony).

Excerpts by "Intelligent Design The Future":

Scott Adams, Designer of Dilbert and of Dogbert declares:

I understand the argument for excluding Intelligent Design from science classes. Most scientists believe it doesn't meet the definition of science. You can't argue with the people who MAKE the definitions.

Jonathan Witt comments:

I would like ID critics to go down this road. I want them to present the scientific evidence against ID because I think the scientific evidence against it is weak and the scientific evidence for ID is strong. This is corroborated by the behavior of ID critics: a remarkable number of them prefer to talk about hidden agendas and definitions of science rather than the evidence. This strategy of steering everyone away from an evidence-based debate is breaking down, however, thanks to the internet and blogging, in conjunction with the media's weakness for covering a controversy even when told it doesn't exist.

Somebody might say, "But if we let a divine, omnipotent foot in the door, then anything is possible and we can't safely infer anything about anything. The designer could make anything look like anything. The universe might be five minutes old with all of us walking around with false memories." This very objection was raised by an expert witness at the Dover intelligent design trial.

First, what possibilities we choose to entertain or ignore won't affect whether there actually is an omipotent designer. If such a designer is out there, we could ignore him all day and the designer would go right on existing.

[Intelligent Design The Future: Exploring issues central to the case for intelligent design, from the Big Bang to the bacterial flagellum and beyond.]

More Fallout from Scott Adams' ID Post

"If you haven't followed the entertaining brouhaha touched off by the blog written by Dilbert creator Scott Adams, you're missing a treat.

Later he [Scott Adams] responded to "the best and funniest case of this" --none other than the flame-throwing PZ Myers,

Let me say very clearly here that I'm not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I'm denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence.

The people who purport to have evidence of evolution do a spectacular job of making themselves non-credible. And since I don't have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types. To me, it's like hiring a serial cannibal as a babysitter based on the fact that he PROMISES not to eat your kids despite having eaten all the other kids on the block. It might be a fact that he's telling the truth. The problem is that he's not credible. (The other problem is that he eats your kids.)

Over at Telic Thoughts, MikeGene and Steve Petermann cogently discuss the matter. Darwinian Fundamentalism documents one specific way in which PZ Myers damages his own credibility in his attack on Scott Adams. And Dean Esmay--an atheist who, like Adams, has been attacked and misrepresented by PZ Myers--offers Discovery Institute a creative suggestion:

The ID theorists often claim they can't get published in peer reviewed journals because intolerant members of the establishment won't even let them raise certain questions or make certain suggestions. I used to think that was probably just self-serving whining. I thought the case of Richard Sternberg was disturbing but probably an aberration. Now after all the dishonest abuse I've received, and seen others receive, I begin to wonder if his story, as well as the stories told by people like Caroline Crocker and Guillermo Gonzalez, are actually typical. I fully credit people like Richard Bennett and P.Z. Myers for making me think so. Indeed, I have a free suggestion for the Discovery Institute: put P.Z. Myers on your payroll, if he isn't already. [links in original]

Witt began to notice just how fallacious and unsound the arguments of the leading Darwinists were.

"They claimed to rest their arguments on a wealth of arcane scientific data," he writes, "but once I dug past the jargon, I found that their arguments were always built on a foundation of question begging definitions, either/or fallacies, bogus appeals to consensus, and quasi-theological claims..."

He blogs Darwinism, Design and Culture.

In ID according to Dilbert, Leonard quotes (excerpts, mine):

"I’ve been doing lots of reading on the subject, trying to gather comic fodder. I fully expected to validate my preconceived notion that the Darwinists had a mountain of credible evidence and the Intelligent Design folks were creationist kooks disguising themselves as scientists. That’s the way the media paints it. I had no reason to believe otherwise. The truth is a lot more interesting."

"...Intelligent Design advocates point out a number of flaws in the textbooks that teach Darwinism. Apparently both sides of the debate acknowledge that the evidence for evolution is sometimes overstated or distorted in the service of making it simpler to teach. If you add to that the outright errors (acknowledged by both sides), the history of fossil frauds, the subjectivity of classifying fossils... [etc.] you have lots of easy targets for the opponents. (Relax. I’m not saying Darwinism is wrong. I’m saying both sides have lots of easy targets.)"

"Here’s where it gets interesting. The Intelligent Design people allege that some experts within each narrow field are NOT convinced that the evidence within their specialty is a slam-dunk support of Darwin. Each branch of science, they say, has pro-Darwinists who acknowledge that while they assume the other branches of science have more solid evidence for Darwinism, their own branch is lacking in that high level of certainty. In other words, the scientists are in a weird peer pressure, herd mentality loop where they think that the other guy must have the “good stuff.”"

"I’d be surprised if 90%+ of scientists are wrong about the evidence for Darwinism. But if you think it’s impossible, you’ve lived a sheltered life."

"Intelligent Design Part 2
Oh man, oh man. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed stirring up $#!T until I wrote about evolution and Intelligent Design. Many of your comments are fascinating, but the good stuff came in direct e-mails to me. I think my inbox actually burst into flames a few times."

"Both sides misrepresent the others’ position (either intentionally or because they don’t know better or because of bias) and then attack the misrepresentation. Therefore, neither side is credible (to me).

I was waiting to see how many people fell into the irony trap and misrepresented my blog entry and then attacked it. The best and funniest case of this can be found on an entire web page dedicated to just that (then, the PZ' flame-thrower's stuff quoted above)"

"When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me. Both sides in the evolution debate do that with gusto. Why would I believe people who prove to me they are either dishonest or biased or worse?"

"I said it’s POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd mentality. PZ interprets that as if I’m saying scientists DO. Then he attacks the misrepresentation. (How much credibility can you have if you argue it’s not POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd instinct on this issue?)"

"Now here’s the fun part. When PZ hears of this blog entry, will he accuse me of misrepresenting his views and attacking the misrepresentation? I hope so, because then I can pretty much rest my case."

At ARN Denyse O'Leary posted Dilbert cartoonist who questioned Darwinism asks, is he stupid?

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, who asked questions about Darwinism in a very modest way - and received a huge load of Darwinist fury in reply - asks for response: Is he stupid?

Also at ARN, Joy posted:

Leonard cites Adams: "Second, allow me to restate that I DON'T believe in Intelligent Design. I'm just fascinated with what the topic does to otherwise rational people on both sides of the question."

Actually, the shrillness of DarwinDefenders is to me the most interesting aspect of this subject, precisely because it is such an emotional knee-jerk response to a perfectly reasonable question.

PZ's outrageous reaction had to have pegged Adam's irony-meter. I doubt that any committed religionist's reaction to the idea that life is a random accident would really surprise him. Peez pretends to be an absolute authority on the subject, believes everyone should bow to his superior intellect and knowledge. While he insults them for asking. The realization that he's just another wannabe mind-tyrant (this comes attached to the personal insults and fallacious arguments he makes) would have to beg the pertinent question that is mostly ignored in these debates ...why are the 'experts' discrediting themselves so thoroughly?

Adams asks. Peez [PZ Myers] gives him an answer, and it doesn't inspire confidence.

I understand my own arguments, which is sufficient for my purposes. I do not have to understand or agree with anyone else's arguments on either 'side'. Adams' opinions belong to him, and he certainly has made some pointy-haired points. Peez fell right into his farce, and I find that quite humorous.

Why in the world should I care what Adams believes personally about all this?

However, I may suggest Scott Adams to include some of that 'PeeZ' in his possible cartoon(s) related to the issue (with fiery flames and fumes departing from such comic character, I mean, from PeeZ's head) ... Won't he?


Anonymous Peter said...

You speak of credibility but the statement "religionist's reaction to the idea that life is a random accident" alarms me.

One cannot mount a credible counter case without a clear understanding of the proposition one wishes to counter, and Darwin never suggested that life was a random accident.

If you start with a statement like that, any halfway competent debater will cut you off at the knees.

To avert such an ignominious end to the discussion, I think we should take a careful look at the underpinning thesis of natural selection.

Go get your ratchet wrench and put on an extension bar so you have something to hang onto. Now wiggle it violently and without pattern.

Because it can only slip in one direction, random movement produces rapid turning. The natural selection of which Darwinists speak is a metaphorical ratchet.

Now let's take a look at the mechanism by which it is claimed that this ratcheting takes place.

Loads of random changes happen. Most of them have no obvious effect. When a change is detrimental, the creature fails to propagate and the change disappears. Very rarely, a change constitutes a survival advantage. More frequently it takes a while of accumulating changes before a certain combination of them turns out to be really handy (that's a joke, think about it).

The profuse fecundity of the natural world that so fills us with awe is the blind watchmaker's clockspring.

Each day, creatures (mostly beetles, to be sure) are born and die by the trillion. Of these perhaps one in a million is a mutant - but that's a million mutants. Every day. So if one in a million changes is an improvement, we get an improvement every day of the week. Over millions of years that's a lot of improvements.

You might respond that, ok, this sort of thing might produce changes within a species, but you can't turn a dog into a cat, they can't interbreed.

A Darwinist will respond by comparing the whole thing to that word game where you change a word into a totally different word by changing one letter at a time, the rule being that you can't change a letter unless you get a real word.

Truth be told I don't know what to say to this. Your thoughts on that would be appreciated. The best I can come up with is that an idea can be internally consistent without necessarily being true, but this statement is a two-edged sword.

One final word of caution to our fellows:

The problem with most responses to Darwinism is that they fail to give a carefully reasoned response that does not invoke magic or an out of hand dismissal on the basis that a cherished belief has been undermined.

It is not enough to be morally outraged. If one cannot muster a calm and reasoned response one succeeds only in bolstering an image of dogmatism.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 5:42:00 AM  

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