Dembski's continuing contradictions
By Pim van Meurs
Posted March 27, 2005
has 'responded' to Wesley Elsberry's and Mark Perakh's criticism at ARN:
discussion at the Panda's Thumb advance the discussion we had on this board
about that paper? As I mentioned in another post, that paper will be the basis
for my technical lecture at the Trotter Prize Lecture Series at Texas A&M
coming up the beginning of April. I'd enjoy meeting any critics on this board
there (as well as supporters, of course)."
than the usual self inflation, Dembski has little to say about the critiques themselves.
pressed for details as to how Dembski 'abuses' critics, Dembski responded:
happy to acknowledge my critics where I think they are being insightful. There
tends to be a disconnect, however, between the criticisms I regard as
insightful and those that my critics regard as insightful. I'm afraid that
Wesley Elsberry and Mark Perakh do not rank high among those I regard as
insightful critics. Since I'm quite busy and have plenty of critics, they tend
to fall low in the queue. Consider, for instance, that Tom English on this
board at least engaged the mathematics in my article. I've seen no indication
that Elsberry or Perakh could even state the gist of it in plain English."
does Dembski start a thread about Wesley and Mark when he does not consider
them to be insightful critics?
fact, both critics have contributed significantly to the demise of Dembski's
arguments, which may help explain why Dembski is reluctant to address their
contributor to ARN who signs his comments as RB observes in the same thread,
course neither can Bill, but then that gives him the fall back position of 'you
just don't understand'. Nor can Bill discuss, in plain English, the application
of his math to the realities of evolution and molecular research and theory."
obviously excels at self-promotion, and although his academic accomplishments
seem to be rather limited, his popular contributions seem to have been embraced
somewhat uncritically by many ID proponents (caveat emptor!!).
has consistently ignored his most formidable critics: For instance it was
Wesley Elsberry who showed how Dembski failed to explain how to distinguish
between apparent and actual CSI. In Dembski's latest piece, he has made an
almost incredible concession to his critics, one overlooked by most of the ID
proponents, namely that both evolutionary mechanisms and intelligence can
latest paper undermines even more his explanatory filter approach since it has
shown how false positives are a real possibility and provides no way to detect
false positives, which makes the explanatory filter, in Dembski's own words,
Elsberry and Perakh were quick to point out the problems with using NFL
theorems as well as the displacement problem.
sadly enough, does not seem to give his critics much credit for this. Let's
hope that when/if his latest paper is published, the reviewers require a more
thorough list of references.
Douglas Theobald has continued the thread to expose some of
the deeply rooted ignorance amongst ID proponents. Surprisingly to many
perhaps, the ignorance seems to be more about Dembski's arguments this time
than about evolutionary theory.
wrote: "I really don't mean to be catty, but seriously, have any of the ID-ists
here read Dembski's latest paper, the topic of this thread?"
Theobald does far more than showing the level of unfamiliarity amongst ID
proponents with Dembski's arguments.
Theobald: "Once again, I will try to get this thread back on target."
Theobald: "Dembski's "FTID" is premised on a targeted search. According to
Dembski, a "target" of an algorithmic search is a sub-region of the search
space that is pre-specified before the search begins. Dembski's math concerns
the probability of finding that pre-specified target, and that target alone."
Theobald: "However, evolution and RMNS are not targeted searches by Dembski's
own usage, so Dembski's math does not apply to evolution. Unless it can be
shown that certain biological targets were pre-specified, Dembski's math is
irrelevant to evolution."
Theobald: "Would anyone here (who has read Dembski's paper, others need not
apply) like to try to refute that?"
Can you provide examples of what
the targets are in biology?
Can you explain how you know
they are targets?
Who or what pre-specified
these biological entities as targets?
Can you explain why the
biological targets you propose are not simply labeled as such after the fact?"
Theobald: "This is the challenge I have presented, and nobody has answered it
yet. Even Dembski acknowledges this problem in his paper, and he also gives no
answer for it."
follows that assisted search, even with so modest a problem as finding a
specific protein 100 amino acids in length, requires a considerable amount of
information if it is to surpass blind search and successfully locate a target.
How are we to explain this net increase in information? One way is to explain
it away by suggesting that no targets are in fact being searched. Rather, a
space of possibilities is merely being explored, and we, as pattern-seeking
animals, are merely imposing patterns, and therefore targets, after the fact
(see, for instance, Shermer 2003)."
pp. 15-16 of "Searching Large Spaces ")
Theobald: "Dembski goes on to explain how targets are valid in engineering, by
specifically giving an example about finding a useful polymer. Yet he never
provides even a hint of an argument for why pre-specified targets are valid in
evolution or biology in general."
Theobald: "In Dembski's human engineering example, it is easy to justify the
target as valid: I can easily answer each of the four challenges above in the
Theobald: "The target is a polymer with a minimum resilience and strength. We
know such a polymer is a target because we have independent knowledge that
human engineers pre-specified the target, indicating a desire for finding such
a polymer. These desirable polymers are not after-the-fact targets, because
they were specified by human engineers before they went and searched for them.
Success of the algorithm is measured as whether it finds these polymer targets
or not. Dembski's math applies here. If Dembski's math is valid, we can
conclude that these engineers knew something about their search space in order
to choose a successful targeted search algorithm."
Theobald: "Now how about evolution and biology in general?"
Theobald: "The answer should ideally be as clear and concise as the above
the fans of Salvador Cordova, you may enjoy his attempts to distract from the
conversation with his usual Turing machines, or other irrelevant arguments. For
someone who once said he was willing to "take the grenade" for Dembski "so that
Dembski can continue to not respond to critics", he seems to ignore the
implosion his own arguments have caused for ID.
that Bill has withdrawn himself from the discussion, so I am curious how he is
going to fix his paper before he presents it at the Trotter Prize lecture
Originally posted to Panda's Thumb