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The Principle of “Methodological Counterintuitiveness”

I recently posted on op-ed in which I described that the concern in the 1970s was not global warming but global cooling (go here). Critics of that piece are now claiming that I’m misrepresenting the fabulous 70s and that “science” back then was not in fact claiming that the earth was cooling. I recall seeing cited some literature on global cooling from that time, so I wrote the op-ed from memory. I since went to that trusted source — Wikipedia — and looked up the article on “global cooling.” It begins (go here):

Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere along with a posited commencement of glaciation. This hypothesis never had significant scientific support, but gained temporary popular attention due to a combination of press reports that did not accurately reflect the scientific understanding of ice age cycles, and a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s.

I draw your attention to the last clause: there was “a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s.” One would think that this would constitute “scientific evidence” for global cooling. But no, foolish unwashed masses, that just betrays your lack of understanding about how science works. What allows scientists to line their pockets with our tax dollars is that science must, perforce, tell us things that we can’t figure out on our own. In particular, what makes science science is its counterintuitiveness. Sure, a three decade cooling trend would get naive coke-swilling masses to think that the earth is cooling. But the Principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness tells us that this just means that the earth is getting warmer.

This principle applies quite widely. The fossil record betrays a huge scarcity of transitional forms (Stephen Jay Gould called this the “trade secret” of paleontology). But does that mean that organisms didn’t evolve gradually in Darwin’s great tree of life. Of course not. Precisely because Darwin’s theory is counterintuitive, it is “good science.” In fact, what makes Darwin the greatest scientist of all time is that he proposed the most counterintuitive theory of all time (a corollary of the Principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness is that the greatness of a scientist is in direct proportion to the counterintuitiveness of his/her theories). Note that this is a methodological principle — we make it a method of science to look for the most counterintuitive theory and then baptize it as “science.”

Some indicators continue to show the earth cooling (my home town Chicago is having the coldest summer in 65 years). Does that show the earth is cooling? Silly you, of course not. According to the Principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness, that just shows it’s warming. Cells exhibit nano-engineering of a degree that far surpasses our best technology. Does that mean that they might be designed? Of course not, you naive burger-munching rubes. It means that they are the result of blind material forces. In this year of Darwin, let us dedicate this articulation of the Principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness to his memory.

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145 Responses to The Principle of “Methodological Counterintuitiveness”

  1. This reads as rather bitter, Dr. Dembski.

    While contemporary science often yields counterintuitive results (which primarily speaks to the limitations of our intuitions), I can’t recall an example of a scientist, anywhere, arguing that a violation of our intuitions in an of itself counts as evidence for the correctness of a specific scientific assertion – that the violation of a given intuition increased confidence in a conclusion.

  2. Diffaxial: I think you completely missed the point.

  3. Some indicators continue to show the earth cooling (my home town Chicago is having the coldest summer in 65 years). Does that show the earth is cooling? Silly you, of course not. According to the Principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness, that just shows it’s warming.

    LOL—exactly! If the earth is warming, how come we had record-breaking cold temperatures in my hometown last winter?? That’s one thing the alarmists never explain.

    Besides, no one knows what the correct sea level is. Maybe it’s too low right now.

  4. Diffaxial: I think you completely missed the point.

    You think I completely missed the point. Check.

  5. Diffaxial,

    You missed the point.

    The point is if everything points one way and someone else says the opposite, it is then up to that person to provide some positive evidence.

    If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and you come along and say “it’s a dog”, it is up to you to provide supporting evidence for your claim.

  6. Joe @ 5:

    You missed the point.

    The point is if everything points one way and someone else says the opposite, it is then up to that person to provide some positive evidence.</blockquote

    No, the point is the apparently rather bitter, satirical (one hopes) assertion that scientists claim that “what makes science science is its counterintuitiveness,” that “the greatness of a scientist is in direct proportion to the counterintuitiveness of his/her theories,” and that “precisely because Darwin’s theory is counterintuitive, it is ‘good science.’”

    There is nothing wrong with satire. But good satire, like good caricature, requires that the satirical portrait somewhat resemble the object of the satire, albeit in exaggerated form that comments upon the object.

    I can’t recall a single instance of a scientist maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of a finding is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of the theory, or that if the findings are not counterintuitive, they aren’t good science.

    Can you? If so, please point to it.

  7. (Oops, for the broken tag.)

  8. So, if I’m understanding this correctly; Intelligent Design is Science by counter-counterintuitiveness?

  9. MeganC,

    ——”So, if I’m understanding this correctly; Intelligent Design is Science by counter-counterintuitiveness?”

    Yes, otherwise known as being intuitive.

  10. 10

    Diffaxial,

    ——” I can’t recall a single instance of a scientist maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of a finding is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of the theory, or that if the findings are not counterintuitive, they aren’t good science.

    Can you? If so, please point to it.”

    Darwinism, Global Warming.

  11. Clive,

    –”Yes, otherwise known as being intuitive.”

    My intuition tells me that an intelligent designer would provide completely separate pathways for breathing and eating. Would you be prepared to test my ID intuition (hypothesis) by swallowing some food and inhaling deeply at the same time?

  12. Clive @ 10:

    Darwinism, Global Warming.

    Can you quote a scientist anywhere, anytime, in these fields or any other, maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of their theory/findings is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of their theory?

  13. MeganC,

    Your suggestion to swallow and breathe at the same time denotes an intentionally improper use of an intelligently designed mechanism. That’s like recommending someone to put sugar in their gas tank.

    It just so happens that the function of breathing and swallowing are involuntarily separated via the nervous system, so sharing the same pathway doesn’t remotely matter as long as the nervous system monitors and maintains proper function. Now if there were no safeguard in the nervous system, or no mechanical block to switch between food/air pathways, then you might have an argument.

    Also, it’s not wise to hide a suggestion for someone to choke on themselves just to prove a point, especially when that person is moderating the board you’re posting on.

  14. Diffaxial,

    Can you quote a scientist anywhere, anytime, in these fields or any other, maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of their theory/findings is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of their theory?

    How about the constant attacks on “sub-optimal” design? Such as the supposed counterintuitiveness of the human eye that we never really hear about any more? I hear Darwinists attacking the supposed counterintuitiveness of design in life all the time in order to bolster their position.

  15. PaulN,

    –”It just so happens that the function of breathing and swallowing are involuntarily separated via the nervous system, so sharing the same pathway doesn’t remotely matter as long as the nervous system monitors and maintains proper function.”

    So how well does this system work? Has it ever failed? I imagine that food becoming lodged in the breathing pathway could cause some serious problems.

  16. Diffaxial,

    In the case of biology it sure does appear that way.

    IOW it is obvious that the only positive evidence is the refusal to allow the design inference.

  17. Yes MeganC, if people don’t chew their food properly and do other nonsensical things while eating they may have a problem.

  18. MeganC,

    So how well does this system work? Has it ever failed? I imagine that food becoming lodged in the breathing pathway could cause some serious problems.

    How many times have you swallowed successfully versus how many times you haven’t? That will answer your question.

  19. Also, it may be worth noting that in the case where you do choke, another system is in place to counteract it, such as forcefully coughing (Which happens to be another involuntary safeguard by the way). This second layer of protection thankfully has prevented me from ever needing the heimlich whenever I have swallowed food improperly. Care to tell me how this safeguard evolved when nearly every choking occurrence would have resulted in fatality before it was in place?

  20. Paul @ 14:

    How about the constant attacks on “sub-optimal” design? Such as the supposed counterintuitiveness of the human eye that we never really hear about any more?

    Joe @ 16:

    In the case of biology it sure does appear that way.

    I’m asking for something more specific: a link to or a quote of a scientist asserting that confidence in the correctness of a given scientific theory is increased by its counterintuitiveness, or the counterintuitiveness of its findings, in and of itself. IOW, specific exemplars of the scientists Dr. Dembski is lampooning with his new principle of Methodological Counterintuitiveness.

  21. 21

    Diffaxial,

    ——”Can you quote a scientist anywhere, anytime, in these fields or any other, maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of their theory/findings is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of their theory?”

    Sure, I read a story in Harvard magazine about a Harvard professor who believes in evolution, who, in the 1940′s, assumed, by intuition, that all different species would literally be composed of different materials, and since we have since discovered that animal life is composed of the same material, this counter-intuitiveness has proven, in his mind, that evolution is true. How very odd indeed.

  22. I don’t know about any specific quotes, but there is this observed trend…

  23. Clive:

    How very odd indeed.

    Odd indeed. Also odd is the fact that Diffaxial has asked for examples in which the counterintuitiveness of theory A is touted to bolster theory A, but respondents offer only examples in which the countintuitiveness of theory A is touted to bolster theory B.

  24. PaulN,

    Thank you.

    It never ceases to amaze me what the odds must be that random mutations could possibly occur at exactly the right time in combination with other random mutations to make life as we see it happen.

    The key of course is “random”. If it is not random, then it is directed by something (someone???). In that case anything is possible.

    When will people see the obvious??

    The answer, when they lay aside their fundamental beliefs which frame everything they do and say. Unfortunately that is not likely until people run into the proverbial stone wall (usually several times!!!).

    Gesualdo

  25. Clive @ 21:

    I read a story in Harvard magazine about a Harvard professor who believes in evolution, who, in the 1940’s…

    I’ll take that as a “no” vis a specific quote or link.

    This for a form of argument that Dr. Dembski (satirically) claims is so pervasive that it deserves promotion to the status of epistemological principle comparable to that of methodological naturalism.

    Gotcha.

    BTW, it isn’t enough to point to results that are counterintuitive. We need an examplar of a scientist citing that counterintuitiveness as an argument for increased confidence in the correctness of the counterintuitive theory/finding.

  26. 26

    I didn’t take what Dr. Dembski wrote all that seriously. Clearly he didn’t literally mean that science values counterintuitiveness. The joke is that some people are more impressed when a theory claims to “see” what obviously isn’t there. I’m sure there are no actual examples of theories that advance specifically because they are counterintuitive.

  27. My intuition tells me that an intelligent designer would provide completely separate pathways for breathing and eating. Would you be prepared to test my ID intuition (hypothesis) by swallowing some food and inhaling deeply at the same time?

    Well if you cover your mouth while you have a nose-blocking cold you can experience the joy of strictly separate channels. (And a much safer test than the one you suggested)

    Human infants have separate pathways and that’s why they get so distressed with any nasal obstruction.
    At about age 2 this configuration changes to “shared” – an anatomical change that also prepares the way for another human marvel: speech.

  28. Excellent parody!

    One does not have to be exposed to much scientific discussion before being lectured on how much of science is counterintuitive. Rebel that I am I often suspect that most supposedly counterintuitive science will turn out to be untrue or else true when looked at from a common sense perspective. The axioms of mathematics and logic arise from our deepest intuitions, and though experiment and reason sometimes deliver unexpected results, the foundations of science rest in common sense and a belief that beauty is the best guide to the truth and that ultimately things are good. I haven’t read Padma Vibhushan Subrahmanyan’s Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science (University of Chicago, 1990)or Ian Stewart’s Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry (Basic Books, 2008)—perhaps they have good examples.

    In The Charm of Physics, as haven’t I mentioned before here? Sheldon L. Glashow (incredibly an Enthusiastic Bright) repeatedly says that scientific discoveries are made only by those who somehow know in their bones, all evidence to the contrary, that things are good.

  29. Clearly he didn’t literally mean that science values counterintuitiveness.

    Dr. Dembski Just as clearly does intend to make exactly that point satirically, as I have made clear throughout above.

    I’m asking for exemplars of the object of that satire. I’m not seeing any.

  30. 30

    Here is a prime example of “counterintuitiveness” in action …

    I noted this fact in a former post:

    The malaria parasite, due to its comparatively large population size, has in 1 year more mutation/duplication/selection events than all mammal lineages would have had in the entire +100 million years they have been in the fossil record. Yet as most people on UD know, no binding site complexity was noted being generated:

    “Indeed, the work on malaria and AIDS demonstrates that after all possible unintelligent processes in the cell–both ones we’ve discovered so far and ones we haven’t–at best extremely limited benefit, since no such process was able to do much of anything. It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing–neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization nor any other process yet undiscovered–was of much use.” Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, pg. 162 Swine Flu, Viruses, and the Edge of Evolution

    And the response from an evolutionist was:

    Yet the malaria parasite is and remains one of the most sucessfull organisms on the planet. Despite the best efforts of humanity it retains it’s ability to have “in 1 year more mutation/duplication/selection events than all mammal lineages would have had in the entire +100 million years they have been in the fossil record”.

    Not bad eh? Perhaps it does not need to generate new “novel biological complexity” because it’s doing just fine as it is? Ever considered that?
    Do you think novel biological complexity just develops on it’s own with no input from the enviroment? Why would an organism well adapted to the enviromental niche it finds itself in change at all?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-323135

  31. 31

    How do you argue with reasoning like that?

  32. Folks:

    let me practice getting a key reference tight.

    On science as appealing to the counter-intuitive, here is Mr Lewontin in all his glory:

    ___________

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. {NYT Book review, Jan 1997]

    ____________

    H’mm!

    Back to my searching . . .

    GEM of TKI

  33. The most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society.

    Paul Feyerabend, Against Method

  34. I remember, when I was in highschool, studying Einstines special theory of relativity. Einstine had this counter-intuitive idea that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. My simple argument was effectvely that it was counter-intuitive.

    When I got into college physics, the case for the theory was carefully made to me. I got it.

    Now, physicists, unlike biologists, continue to challenge their pet theories. It would appear possible to transmit information faster than the speed of light using various quantum mechanisms. However, getting a rocketship to go faster than the speed of light by simply having it go faster than last year’s rocketship still seems impossible.

    Einstine’s theory taught me that “intuitive” is by no means proof of correctness. If intuition is not a perfect judge of correctness, I would also contend that no-one of consequence suggests that counter-intuition is a perfect judge either.

    We must examine the data to determine truth, and simply leave intuition out of it. That’s my opinion.

  35. KF @ 32:

    On science as appealing to the counter-intuitive, here is Mr Lewontin in all his glory…

    Use of “counter-intuitive” in a sentence alone doesn’t suffice. Lewontin nowhere in the above cites the counterintuitiveness of any finding or theory as evidence, in and of itself, for its correctness. So this fails as an exemplar of the behavior Dr. Dembski wishes to satirize.

    Keep looking.

  36. 36

    Diffaxial,

    ——”I’ll take that as a “no” vis a specific quote or link.”

    I’ll take it as a yes, though I cannot find the link (I just spent a good amount of time looking), you’ll just have to trust me. I know it’s hard for folks like you to assume someone as honest. Which really, in itself, is telling.

  37. 37

    R0b,

    ——”Odd indeed. Also odd is the fact that Diffaxial has asked for examples in which the counterintuitiveness of theory A is touted to bolster theory A, but respondents offer only examples in which the countintuitiveness of theory A is touted to bolster theory B.”

    You have it backwards. The counter-intuitiveness of B by comparison to the intuition of A is what bolsters B.

  38. ScottAndrews @ 26:

    Clearly he didn’t literally mean that science values counterintuitiveness.

    I think Dr. Dembski was referring to the scientific community, not science. For example, quantum computing scientists (who gobble up tons of the taxpayer’s money) love to talk about how counterintuitive quantum physics is whenever a layperson complains that quantum computing does not make any sense. If the layperson insists on obtaining an explanation that makes sense, he or she will be told that they will need many years of education to understand it.

    There is a foolproof way to spot crackpottery and fraud in the scientific community. Whenever a scientist claims to understand a phenomenon but is unable to explain it in simple terms that the average intelligent layperson can understand, one can be absolutely certain that the scientist is as clueless about the phenomenon as everyone else.

  39. This isn’t an item on the Crackpot Index, but it should be! :)

  40. bFast @26,

    I doubt that Einstein got his idea about the speed of light out of nowhere (geniuses seem do that). He got it after Michelson and Morley conducted their famous experiment in 1887. In my opinion, the speed of light limit is very counterintuitive the way it is taught because no intuitive reason is given. If one digs deeper, one finds that time is abstract because it cannot change by definition. This means that there is no time travel and all that other spacetime nonsense we hear from such nabobs of counterintuitiveness as Stephen Hawking and David Deutsch. It further means that the speed of light in a vacuum is not just the maximum speed, it is the only speed possible in nature. Nothing can move faster or slower.

    How’s that for counterintuitiveness? The simple explanation is that, macroscopically, we observe bodies moving at much slower speeds than c but, microscopically, these consist of series of minute jumps interpersed with rest periods. Something to think about.

    My point is that the counterintuiveness of a theory or hypothesis should be a warning sign that it is either fundamentally flawed or that it needs an alternative explanation, a more intuitive one that the one given.

  41. Clive:

    You have it backwards. The counter-intuitiveness of B by comparison to the intuition of A is what bolsters B.

    Now I’m confused. In your example, is B the theory that all animal life is composed of the same material, or the theory of evolution?

  42. 42

    R0b,

    ——”Now I’m confused. In your example, is B the theory that all animal life is composed of the same material, or the theory of evolution?”

    Assuming the theory of independent creation, the intuition of the scientist was that all animal life would be composed, literally, of different material, given that they were different animals . Exactly what kinds of differing material he had in mind, he didn’t say. When it was discovered that all animal life depends on dna, and that the same material components exist within all animal life, he used this counter-intuitive finding to bolster his belief in evolution. That’s it in a nutshell. I tried to find the article, but alas, no luck. It stuck with me ever since I read it because his initial intuition was so strange. In the original formulation of science, there was an expressed attempt at saving the phenomenon, because if you posited a hypothesis that explained away the phenomenon, you were no longer hypothesizing for the phenomenon. This ideal placed a higher premium on our rational faculties and powers of observation than it did to the mysteries of nature. To hypothesize something for what it appears to be, and go from there—asserting multiple hypotheses that explain the phenomenon with the least amount of assumptions—was the program of old. Instead, today, we are fond of explaining away the phenomenon as it appears to us, which is to explain away the initial rational appearance of the phenomenon, and if this is done, is now considered the gold standard of truth, for it’s very nature of being counter-intuitive means that it is more of a hard-earned discovery than an initial intuition. The effect is not a positive one. It came about as a result of methodological naturalism, to where any phenomena, no matter how it appears intuitively, must be fitted into the box of materialism. This assumes that we know nature better than we know our own minds or the validity with how we perceive phenomena. But we don’t. Our minds and intuition are known much better than nature is known. Nature is the mystery, and we shouldn’t assume that she is the starting point for all inquiries, and that nature must trump our rational faculties at every point no matter how any phenomena appears. For if our rational faculties go, our picture of nature and our philosophical naturalism goes with it. We should put first things first. But MN puts the mystery, that is, nature, first, and attempts to explain our rational ability at perceiving the phenomena second, to be explained away if it doesn’t fit in with the natural assumption. But we do not know nature by comparison to knowing our minds or our ability at the appearance of phenomena. Like Chesterton said, “We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities.” We fool ourselves if we begin to think that we know nature better than how we think.

  43. Sure, I read a story in Harvard magazine about a Harvard professor who believes in evolution, who, in the 1940’s, assumed, by intuition, that all different species would literally be composed of different materials, and since we have since discovered that animal life is composed of the same material, this counter-intuitiveness has proven, in his mind, that evolution is true. How very odd indeed.

    Setting the absence of a link or quote aside, I don’t think this qualifies, Clive.

    I take it that in the 1940s this Harvard professor didn’t believe in evolution. It was his resulting (weird) intuition that species will also be composed of differing materials. As a result, he found the discovery that all living things are composed of similar materials as “counterintuitive.”

    However, in this discussion we don’t intend “counterintuitive” as “counter to peculiar individual intuitions,” but rather as “counter commonly held intuitions,” in the sense that relativity and quantum mechanics describe phenomena that violate physical intuitions that we more or less hold universally (probably due to well-adapted neural wiring).

    It is also strange that he takes violation of his earlier, peculiar, privately held intuitions as “proof” of a theory. Perhaps he learned over time that these early personal intuitions were bizarre and not to be trusted.

    Overall, this reads more as a description of a peculiar psychological makeup than anything else. Or, perhaps you are misremembering the article.

    Lastly, BTW, “Harvard professor” doesn’t equal “scientist.”

  44. Joseph,

    “Yes MeganC, if people don’t chew their food properly and do other nonsensical things while eating they may have a problem.”

    Why not avoid any possible problems by having separate pathways in the first place?

    PaulN,

    “How many times have you swallowed successfully versus how many times you haven’t? That will answer your question.”

    That’s really not the type of information I’m willing to divulge on this forum, thank you. Now would you kindly tell me if the system you described has ever failed, and if so, what ultimately happened?

    “Also, it may be worth noting that in the case where you do choke, another system is in place to counteract it, such as forcefully coughing (Which happens to be another involuntary safeguard by the way).”

    Again, why the need for all these ad-hoc mechanisms to alleviate something which could have been avoided in the first place by using common sense (intuition?). And, how effective is this coughing anyway? Has it ever failed to clear an obstruction?

    “Care to tell me how this safeguard evolved when nearly every choking occurrence would have resulted in fatality before it was in place?”

    Coughing (it’s not always entirely or even partially involuntary, btw) relies on feedback from the nervous system, which goes way back in evolution; so it’s not like whatever scenario you have proposed. Try again.

  45. Clive, thank you for your detailed response, although my confusion remains. I don’t think that Dembski is satirizing the usage of counterintuitive findings to bolster beliefs in other things.

    And personally, I suspect that scientists’ increased willingness to abandon their intuition is a result of the necessity of this abandonment so many times in the past. In order to move science forward, we’ve had to dispense with common sense notions like a flat earth, geocentrism, Galilean relativity, absolute time, and the immensely intuitive idea that a particle can be in only one location at a time.

  46. Somehow in Rude 28 the link to Counterintuitive science didn’t work—so if interested you might go to

    http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/counter.html

    There you can listen to Richard Dawkins on this subject.

    In regard to Diffaxial’s devil’s advocacy—or whatever—The Principle of “Methodological Counterintuitiveness” is integral to materialist philosophy (sans mathematical realism and the concept of the soul), as you will hear Dawkins here explain.

  47. MeganC @44:

    Why not avoid any possible problems by having separate pathways in the first place?

    Could it be that a single pathway solves one or more important design problems that are not readily apparent on the surface? For example, maybe the designers were in love with parsimonious designs. Maybe they wanted to use a single complex motor organ for multiple purposes such as eating and noise making. Maybe they thought that the reuse of highly complex tongue and mouth motor programs for activities (making sounds) other than ingesting would simplify the overall design.

    Could it be that there may be other equally excellent reasons for the single pathway design that some people are willfully blind to because they have already decided that there was no design so as not to threaten their biased worldview? I think so. I think that, rather than detracting potential ID supporters from the ID hypothesis, this oft-repeated but lame argument does the exact opposite.

  48. MeganC@44

    Your assertions about the flawed nature of a combined digestive/respiratory tract are based on an inadequate understanding of human physiology. I will correct these misunderstandings.

    For reference, I assume you are proposing that a system where the human mouth and nose run in separate tracts through the pharynx.

    “How many times have you swallowed successfully versus how many times you haven’t? That will answer your question.”

    That’s really not the type of information I’m willing to divulge on this forum, thank you. Now would you kindly tell me if the system you described has ever failed, and if so, what ultimately happened?

    There are roughly 4100 fatalities due to foreign body aspirations in the United States (1). You have hypothesized that separate digestive and respiratory tracts would reduce the number of FBA fatalities to 0 and that this system will be objectively more optimal than the current combined system.

    However, you have committed an error by analyzing the combined digestive/respiratory tract by only one design parameter (choking).

    Consider that the combined tract provides a redundant system for breathing should the nose or mouth become blocked. Oxygen is far more important to the body than food as a person can only survive for eight to ten minutes without oxygen but weeks without food. This is another design parameter that you have overlooked – a redundancy to continue providing the most vital requirement for life when the primary respiratory entry is blocked.

    In your proposed separate system, any blockage of the respiratory passageway would result in death from asphyxiation due to the lack of redundancy. There are approximately 500,000,000 non-influenza viral respiratory illnesses each year in the United States (2). In addition, 40% of US children (~29.48 million) and 10-30% (23.3 – 69.6 million) of US adults suffer from allergic rhinitis (3,4). These common conditions cause blockage of the main entry for the respiratory system.

    Therefore, your statement:

    Again, why the need for all these ad-hoc mechanisms to alleviate something which could have been avoided in the first place by using common sense (intuition?). And, how effective is this coughing anyway? Has it ever failed to clear an obstruction?

    is false because the failure to clear an obstruction occurs results in a fatality 4100 times per year while your proposed “common sense” system would result in 500,000,000 fatalities per year due to the common cold. Judging the combined system based on one design parameter (choking) ignores other parameters that are far more important (redundancy in the case of blockage). In order to properly evaluate the optimality of a system you must first identify all relevant parameters and correctly weigh them.

    I will continue to elaborate on the physiology of the combined system in further posts because I have seen the assertion that separate respiratory/digestive tracts would be a better design numerous times on UD.

    ____________

    (1) National Safety Council, Report on Injuries in America, 2002.
    (2) Fendrick, AM; Monto, AS; Nightengale, B; Sarnes, M. The economic burden of non-influenza-related viral respiratory tract infection in the United States. Arch Inten Med 2003; 163:487.
    (3) United States Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Management of Allergic and Nonallergic Rhinitis. May 2002. AHQR publication 02:E023, Boston MA. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: No. 54.
    (4) Settipane, RA. Demographics and epidemiology of allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. Allergy Asthma Proc 2001; 22:185.

  49. Rude @ 46:

    In regard to Diffaxial’s devil’s advocacy—or whatever—The Principle of “Methodological Counterintuitiveness” is integral to materialist philosophy (sans mathematical realism and the concept of the soul), as you will hear Dawkins here explain.

    You say that the principle of “methodological counterintuitiveness” is integral to materialist philosophy. That is, you say that scientists claim that violations of intuitions are regarded in and of themselves as evidence for the correctness of scientific claims generally, and that this assumption is integral to good science.

    I take note of the fact that you’ve morphed Dr. Dembski’s original satirical assertion in two ways: 1) You are making a literal statement rather than a satirical one, and 1) you attribute this value to “materialist philosophy” rather than to science and scientists. I’d prefer to confine the discussion with science and scientists, if you don’t mind, as that was Dr. Dembski’s original satirical assertion.

    But good, good good. You say this notion is “integral”; it should be easy for YOU to produce quotes of or links to scientists stating that violations of our intuitions in and of themselves count as evidence for the correctness of scientific assertions generally, or the correctness of a specific theory.

    By the way, while Dawkins does marvel at many counterintuitive findings in contemporary science and waxes eloquent and philosophical over such findings, NOWHERE in the TED talk does he remotely assert that we should prefer counterintuitive assertions, or construe counterintuitiveness as a metric of good science.

    So you’ll need something better than that.

  50. Difaxial,

    Many physicists and evolutionists see their counterintuitive hypotheses as proof of their superior intellect. It is a direct result of the insufferable pomposity that many scientists seem to fall prey to.

  51. Dr. Dembski,

    This was a timely and witty piece of satire spun in the face of those ID Bigots and Darwinian bugaboos who attempt to deride you at all cost for their own shallow purposes of trutherism, or to be worthy as loyal subjects in the land of OzDarwinia.

    “I draw your attention to the last clause: there was “a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s.” One would think that this would constitute “scientific evidence” for global cooling. But no, foolish unwashed masses, that just betrays your lack of understanding about how science works.

    Haha… thank you for the counterintuitive laugh of How Science Works.

    Cooling for decades is global cooling, except when it is global warming all in favor of money for people like Al Gore, the GE favored Cap and Trade Partner and a host of lying poltical scum who are really in it for profit than altruistic purposes.

    Yes, this is how science works, through lobbyist that are not supposed to be in DC anymore, but out to pasture.

    Al Gore sits on many venture capitalist boards and profits from the government decisions that spend taxpayor money which eventually end up in his pocket. He to is aligned with Cap and Trade Market systems that benefits from trading charges.
    What a scam. Real companies producing a real product of electricity for consumers and business will now pay swindlers like Gore and GE who do nothing more than trade paper taxes on their production adding to the cost for every single American business and consumer. What a nightmare, but that is How Science Works.

    But I’m sure the “seas will lower” as the Messiah waves his hands over them, lifts up a brewski and annoints the lands for harmony. And all humanity will be saved by the new prophets of Doom as they instruct the masses to the land of milk and honey through technilogical glory. As they whiz by above with the angels and peer down on us sinners below in their lear jets puffing out massive amounts of C02 and other polluting greenhouse gases.

    Meanwhile, the sun cycles, centralized socialism failed and continues to fail around the world. Yet now America rides into the glorious Chairman Mao like sunset as our nation heads toward socialism, led by a commune organizer. And politicians continue to lie, avoid taxes, steal, cheat and be caught in fradulent scams of their own.

    But the roses, hibiscus, irises, sunflowers, ferns, basil, etc., I planted this year all continue to suck in C02, grow and produce wonderful smells, colors, vibrant blooms and green leaves for tasty delights.

    I don’t own a 25ft yacht, a lear jet or a 20 room mansion that consumes for than 20 times the average consumer of electricity, including fossil fuels like natural gas. Yet I am the evil man whom Gore hates and disparages because I do not believe his story about How Science Works.

    Al Gore’s 20 room mansion of hypocrisy

  52. Diffaxial,

    Bitter? LOL… ever listen to Dawkins, PZ Meyers or other Darwinistas insult, mock, scoff angrily at those that disagree with them?

    Dr Dembskis short satire was a breath of fresh air and funny to anyone watching the mockery of “How Science Works” from Darwinista idealogues and frankly, fascist like Orwellian minders like that of the NCSE.

    You’re so blind to your side and such a zealot you refuse to acknowledge the truth of just how jaded and fascist like the Darwinistas have grown over the last few decades.

    It is sickening to see our entire nation being put under the thumb of a few psuedo-intellectuals who claim to know the truth about global climate, historical climate and be prophets of future climate.

    Indeed… the oceans shall be lowered, but only the oceans of Egos unleashed this last year or so with fictional stories told to the masses.

    Have fun living in fairy tale land.

  53. my home town Chicago is having the coldest summer in 65 years

    Of course, Seattle is in the middle of a heat wave and areas of Texas are in the middle of a scorching drought.

  54. Umm there isn’t anything “common sense” about a flat Earth.

    Also geocentrism was based on the science of the time and even made correct predictions.

  55. DATCG,

    It is sickening to see our entire nation being put under the thumb of a few psuedo-intellectuals who claim to know the truth about global climate, historical climate and be prophets of future climate.

    Yes, our current Energy Czar Stephen Chu being a prime example of one of these lightweight pseudo-intellectual global warmers. I can only hope that the damage he does is not permanent.

  56. MeganC,

    What is the data which demonstrates completely separate pathways is a better idea?

    Also if people are stupid enough to choke on their food I say it is time to remove them from the gene-pool.

    As for the nervous system going way back in evolution, well there isn’t any data to support that premise.

    It is very counter-intuitive that an accumulation of genetic accidents can put together a nervous system.

  57. Joseph,
    Only stupid people choke on food? And if they do it serves them right – a little harsh, no?

  58. 58

    DATCG,

    ——”Have fun living in fairy tale land.”

    Hey now, at least fairy tale land has some truth.

  59. 59

    This should be interesting:

    Can any of you guys figure out how this is working and how to improve on the technique and save millions of lives:

    Mosquitoes deliver malaria ‘vaccine’ through bites
    Excerpt of article:
    People can develop immunity to malaria if exposed to it many times. The drug chloroquine can kill parasites in the final bloodstream phase, when they are most dangerous.

    Scientists tried to take advantage of these two factors, by using chloroquine to protect people while gradually exposing them to malaria parasites and letting immunity develop.

    They assigned 10 volunteers to a “vaccine” group and five others to a comparison group. All were given chloroquine for three months, and exposed once a month to about a dozen mosquitoes — malaria-infected ones in the vaccine group and non-infected mosquitoes in the comparison group.

    That was to allow the “vaccine” effect to develop. Next came a test to see if it was working.

    All 15 stopped taking chloroquine. Two months later, all were bitten by malaria-infected mosquitoes. None of the 10 in the vaccine group developed parasites in their bloodstreams; all five in the comparison group did.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_med_malaria_vaccine

  60. 60

    R0b,

    ——”And personally, I suspect that scientists’ increased willingness to abandon their intuition is a result of the necessity of this abandonment so many times in the past. In order to move science forward, we’ve had to dispense with common sense notions like a flat earth, geocentrism, Galilean relativity, absolute time, and the immensely intuitive idea that a particle can be in only one location at a time.”

    What I had in mind were things more like the soul and our mind and metaphysical laws of logic and our moral sensibilities.

  61. DATCG @ 52:

    You’re so blind to your side and such a zealot you refuse to acknowledge the truth of just how jaded and fascist like the Darwinistas have grown over the last few decades…Have fun living in fairy tale land.

    More bitterness. Not to mention hyperbole.

    Meanwhile, I still await all your exemplars (links, quotes) of scientists asserting that violations of our intuitions, in and of themselves, count as evidence for the correctness of scientific theories/findings.

  62. cirus @48,

    Good post. Someone else also mentioned that each bodily orifice presents an entry point for bacteria and other toxins – the more entry points, the more possibilities of infection. So I’d add that to your already impressive list of design principles underlying the combined pathway.

    Atom

  63. 63
    Granville Sewell

    While Bill may be exaggerating a little for effect, I believe it is true that not only some scientists, but some intellectuals in non-scientific fields, do fall prey to the temptation to make counter-intuitive conclusions just to separate themselves from the uneducation masses. How else to explain why in the 60s and 70s, when East Germany was building walls to keep their population from fleeing to West Germany, while North Koreans were starving and South Korean were prospering, and while thousands of Cubans risked their lives to flee to the US, so many of our intellectuals insisted that communism was the morally superior system.

  64. specs,

    “Of course, Seattle is in the middle of a heat wave and areas of Texas are in the middle of a scorching drought.”

    thanks for proving that climate is still not well understood as weather patterns roll around the earth from region to region. All time lows are broken in this country last winter, record snow falls, etc., but hey… we’re still in global warming.

  65. Re bornagain77′s link: Isn’t that finding rather counterinuitive? I mean, on the surface, all vaccination is. How on earth could a little dose of a disease help fight the same disease? What biological fairy tale is this? Yet for some reason, immunologists assert it can and does. Perhaps they think that if an idea makes no sense, it’s true.

    ;)

  66. Diffaxial,

    It is people like you that are bitter zealots who cling to an outdated world. I’ve seen many of your snide remarks here before.

    I said I laughed and you call laughter bitter?

    Thanks for proving Demski correct about the counterintuitive thought process of people like you.

    LOL… all I can do is laugh at such phony assertions. LOL=Laugh out loud for your information Diffaxial, not bitterness.

    Please show the bitter comments I made. Was is sarcastic? Yes. Laughter at global warming zealots? Yes. Factual evidence of hypocrisy by the global warming cult leaders? Yes.

    You see, in order to feel bitter on this point of discussion I have to feel as if I’ve been personally wronged by you or someone else in life regarding this issue to the point of some irreversible feelings.

    I grew up thinking like you Diffaxial, believing like you, on the left, in fact I cheered leftist causes most of my life. Then I grew up and became an adult :) Smile, heh, get it? Joke? Or do you want to spin false assertions again?

    I have not been wronged by you. Though we all eventually in life do experience times of being abused or wrongly accused by others, I learned long ago to forgive and move on.

    And as to some of the malarky being spread by the zealots and profiteers… well not only do I laugh, but I expose them and fight against them when they are wrong and begin invading the private lives of people as if they themselves are gods on this earth.

    But follow them all you like if it makes you happy.

  67. Joseph at 56:

    Also if people are stupid enough to choke on their food I say it is time to remove them from the gene-pool.

    Typical Darwinist wanting to remove those he thinks are defective from the gene pool. Expelled laid bare the agenda of people like you. And now, with your own words, you can no longer deny it.

  68. Regarding the comments here about global warming, I would like to subit a parallel request to Diffaxial’s.

    Could anyone point to a scientist asserting that the 1940s-70s cooling period itself constitutes evidence for contemporary global warming? I think many of them would say that that period fits well with our overall understanding of geologically recent climatological trends. I think many would say that global warming in modern climate change is currently happening despite past global cooling.

    I can’t think of anyone who would say that past global cooling is counter-intuitive evidence for current global warming. More than anything, what climatologists say is that past global cooling is simply not enough to discount the evidence for current warming, and this is being misheard as a positive argument of the former leading to the latter.

  69. To condense what I wrote last: no one says “It’s cold in Chicago! Why, that’s global warming too!!1omg!” What they say is that the coldness in Chicago fits just fine with the larger picture of the Earth’s climate, which just so happens to be in a warming trend. They don’t argue that Chicago cooling is proof of global warming.

    (That said, cooling somewhere might be considered evidence — for example, the ocean near the polar caps, as they receive freshly melted glacier water. But that evidence would be used with a host of other data, and blah blah I’m kinda regretting even talking about climate on a forum all about the totally-unrelated science of ID, oh well.)

  70. Atom @62

    Good post. Someone else also mentioned that each bodily orifice presents an entry point for bacteria and other toxins – the more entry points, the more possibilities of infection. So I’d add that to your already impressive list of design principles underlying the combined pathway.

    The combined digestive/respiratory system has incredible properties far beyond anything listed in this comments section. Here is a brief list:

    Language and Digestion
    The same organs that provide humans with the ability to masticate and swallow (teeth, tongue, and jaw muscles) also provide us with the ability to form sounds to communicate. This dual purpose provides maximum function in minimal space. It also minimizes the probability of embryological failure (fewer structures = less chance of failure).

    Immune Surveillance
    Air and food are common methods of pathogen exposure. By combining the surveillance for both systems in the pharynx the amount of resources required for protection is reduced and the chances of quickly identifying a repeat pathogen are increased.

    Embryological Development
    Redundancy for a separate respiratory/digestive tract would require an additional orifice in the face which in turn would allow another entry for infection and provide another way for embryological development to fail (aplasia, cleft lip/palate). It would also require blood vessel and nerve support which would require the entire development and innervation of the pharyngeal arches to change as well as rerouting several cranial nerves.

  71. DATCG @ 66:

    I said I laughed and you call laughter bitter?…

    LOL… all I can do is laugh at such phony assertions. LOL=Laugh out loud for your information Diffaxial, not bitterness…well not only do I laugh, but I expose them and fight against them when they are wrong and begin invading the private lives of people as if they themselves are gods on this earth.

    Clearly, I’m talking to a man who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe.

    But have you posted quotes of, or links to, scientists making the claim that counterintuitive results lend credibility to scientific findings?

  72. 72

    RE: Choking (or How Can We Make Choking Look Like Good Design)

    I love how “just so stories” are considered ridiculous in the context of evolution, but are considered powerful arguments in the context of ID.

  73. Kris_censored,

    Is your comment referring to Cirus two posts?

    If so, they are hardly just-so stories. Rather, they are a rational, logical analysis of the structure of biological systems.

    Is this perhaps that’s why you neglected to reply to any one of Circus’ points regarding the advantages of a combined respiratory/digestive tract system?

  74. Diffaxial,

    Hyperbole? Where?

    Al Gores 20 room mansion? True
    Al Gores 20x elec usage than avg people? True
    Al Gores yacht? True
    Al Gores flying around in private jets spewing forth millions of tons across the world of greenhouse gases? True.

    I provided the link for everyone to see. Your short, false accusations are nothing but weak attempts to smear my comments.

    OK, from the link above: Al Gores house:

    HOUSE # 1:

    A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over USD 2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern “snow belt,” either. It’s in the South.

    HOUSE # 2:

    Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every “green” feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

    HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

    HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as “the Texas White House,” it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

    So whose house is gentler on the environment? Yet another story you WON’T hear on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC or read about in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Indeed, for Mr. Gore, it’s truly “an inconvenient truth.”

    Hyperbole? Nah, Al Gore – Hypocrite, Yeah.

    Bush? Before he became President he built an environmental home in Crawford:

    This is going to be the permanent residence of the Bushes, the
    question is just when. Incorporated into the design of the home
    are many unique “Environmentally Friendly” features. Aside
    from the Grey and Black Water Recycling and Irrigation Systems,
    the home features Geothermal Heating, Active and Passive
    Solar Energy, and a rainwater collection system with a
    40,000 gallon underground cistern. The purpose of the cistern
    and a separate Grey water system is for surface irrigation of
    fruit trees.

    That was before 2001. Yet for seven years Al Gore did nothing to his home and only after scrutiny, after he produced his fictional movie did he bother to change his enormous energy guzzling house using natural gas.

    Some people deomnize others and talk a lotta hot air, pointing fingers while living the same life of luxury they vehemently denounce.

    Others quietly do the right thing.

  75. Diff:

    I am giving the underlying context: a priorism, leading to closed mindedness.

    As a result, counter-evidence is explained away and reasonable alternative explanations are disqualified from taking the field.

    Nakashima-san is right on the importance of epistemic humility in light of the provisionality of science.

    But,sadly, that is too often being subverted in our day.

    GEM of TKI

  76. cirus,

    Separate pathways for breathing and eating do not mean that the nasal system is removed. Why did you assume it was? Are we not talking about intelligent design here?

    “I will continue to elaborate on the physiology of the combined system in further posts because I have seen the assertion that separate respiratory/digestive tracts would be a better design numerous times on UD.”

    I anxiously await your elaborations…

    Joseph,

    “What is the data which demonstrates completely separate pathways is a better idea?”

    Not dying by choking. Do you want me to draw you a picture?

    “Also if people are stupid enough to choke on their food I say it is time to remove them from the gene-pool.”

    All those “nonsensical” children deserve it.

    “As for the nervous system going way back in evolution, well there isn’t any data to support that premise.”

    Yes, all life prior to the discovery of the nervous system in 1842 lacked said nervous system.

    “It is very counter-intuitive that an accumulation of genetic accidents can put together a nervous system.”

    Why would you propose such an accumulation? The nervous system makes perfect sense in terms of evolution.

  77. This dual purpose provides maximum function in minimal space. It also minimizes the probability of embryological failure (fewer structures = less chance of failure).

    Are you saying that the Designer is concerned about the quality of his design? How do you know? According to Cornelius Hunter, we do not, cannot know. Here, Hunter, ridicule arguments about how bad design makes sense in evolution because evolution accommodate all kinds of design, good, bad and everything in between:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....enial.html

    It may sound similar, but Coyne’s redaction is a not too subtle attempt to hide the metaphysics. Dobzhansky’s message was that imperfections make no sense except in evolution. That is, imperfections make no sense in divine creation.

    Coyne inverts the message to say that imperfect designs make sense in evolution. Of course, but so what? So do perfect designs, and everything in between. All these make sense in evolution just as my bad day yesterday makes sense in astrology and warp drive makes sense in science fiction movies.

  78. My intuition says a designer worth his salt would strive to optimize his designs and avoid obviously bad designs.

    it is only by restoring to counterintuitiveness I arrive at the correct answer: We should expect both good and bad designs if ID is true.

    Am I to understand that Dembski’s argument means that counterintution also is why the evolutionists make that claim for evolution too?

  79. Cabal:

    In optimisation, one maximises or minimises an objective function, subject to situational constraints.

    Thus, optimisation is often subject to sensitivity to drift of circumstances or to contingencies. (Hence the importance of post optimisation sensitivity analysis in real world praxis and decision-making: a brittle optimum that is easily broken is a serious danger, not a good solution.)

    Wise designers and decision makers therefore far more often seek ROBUST designs that will give good or adequate performance in a range of more or less likely circumstances, than trying to get peak performance under one circumstance at the cost of being vulnerable to drift of circumstances or contingencies. (There is also the issue of sub-optimisation, by which individual aspects are optimised for their own performance peaks, often at the cost of overall loss of performance. One of the key problems with group think among decision makers is that failure to factor in diverse perspectives leads to loss of contact with the range of credible contingencies.)

    In short, real world designs have to address issues of flexibility and trade-offs. Not to mention, realism of objectives and analysis of context including contingencies.

    So, what is optimal depends on what you are trying to achieve, and the likely patterns of circumstances you will face. And, a simplistic look at one aspect of a situation can mislead you to the conclusion that he system as a whole is a hopeless failure, because some aspect or another is not optimal in your eyes.

    [NB: The above is also very relevant to todays tendency to shoot off scattershot hyperskeptical objections and claim that perceived want of perfection in one aspect or another is tantamount to "abject failure." Far better is the more robust approach of comparative difficulties across live option alternatives; seeking the best on balance.]

    GEM of TKI

  80. PS: This, on sub-optimisation, is very relevant:

    _______________

    When you try to optimize the global outcome for a system consisting of distinct subsystems (e.g. maximizing the amount of prey hunted for a pack of wolves, or minimizing the total punishment for the system consisting of the two prisoners in the Prisoners’ Dilemma game), you might try to do this by optimizing the result for each of the subsystems separately. This is called “suboptimization”. The principle of suboptimization states that suboptimization in general does not lead to global optimization. Indeed, the optimization for each of the wolves separately is to let the others do the hunting, and then come to eat from their captures. Yet if all wolves would act like that, no prey would ever be captured and all wolves would starve. Similarly, the suboptimization for each of the prisoners separately is to betray the other one, but this leads to both of them being punished rather severely, whereas they might have escaped with a mild punishment if they had stayed silent.

    The principle of suboptimization can be derived from the more basic systemic principle stating that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. If the system (e.g. the wolf pack) would be a simple sum or “aggregate” of its parts, then the outcome for the system as a whole (total prey killed) would be a sum of the outcomes for the parts (prey killed by each wolf separately), but that is clearly not the case when there is interaction (and in particular cooperation) between the parts. Indeed, a pack of wolves together can kill animals (e.g. a moose or a deer), that are too big to be killed by any wolf in separation. Another way of expressing this aspect of “non-linearity” is to say that the interaction the different wolves are engaged in is a non zero-sum game, that is, the sum of resources that can be gained is not constant, and depends on the specific interactions between the wolves.

    _______________

    In short understanding of how a situation works is very important to accurate evaluation, and when there is interdependence and inte4raction, functionality is often a subtle synergistic outcome, not a direct and obvious consequence.

    All of which very directly points to the problems of imposed Lewontinian censorship on origins science today. (And while “everyone” is admiring the Emperor’s fine new suit of clothes, the little kid who is too “simple” to join in the game may be right when he tugs at the sleeve and says: “but, he’s naked!” Right now evolutionary materialism’s clothing choices look decidedly odd to us the “uninitiated.”)

  81. KF @ 74:

    I am giving the underlying context: a priorism, leading to closed mindedness.

    What you are not giving, nor is anyone else, is a link to or quote of a scientist claiming that a violation of our intuitions in an of itself counts as evidence for the correctness of a theory.

  82. Diffaxial,

    I have already told you there isn’t a quote.

    Scientists are not thta stupid.

    However there is a trend.

  83. “What is the data which demonstrates completely separate pathways is a better idea?”

    MeganC:

    Not dying by choking. Do you want me to draw you a picture?

    IOW you don’t have any data just your wishful thinking.

    Ya see yopu don’t know what other problems that may cause.

    You have no idea.

    “Also if people are stupid enough to choke on their food I say it is time to remove them from the gene-pool.”

    All those “nonsensical” children deserve it.

    What children? Do you have any data?

    “As for the nervous system going way back in evolution, well there isn’t any data to support that premise.”

    Yes, all life prior to the discovery of the nervous system in 1842 lacked said nervous system.

    I would say that you believe that nonsense.

    “It is very counter-intuitive that an accumulation of genetic accidents can put together a nervous system.”

    Why would you propose such an accumulation? The nervous system makes perfect sense in terms of evolution.

    I propose such an accumulation because that is what the theory of evolution proposes.

    Also there isn’t any daya which demonstrates a nervous system can arise in a population that never had one.

    IOW there isn’t any data to support your claim.

  84. PaulT:

    Only stupid people choke on food?

    Have you ever heard of any other animals choking on their food?

    I bet if you find an example it is because they bit off more than they could chew- which is stupid.

    Could there be a case in which a person chokes on his/ her food in which that person wasn’t acting stupidly?

    Could be.

  85. I can’t think of anyone who would say that past global cooling is counter-intuitive evidence for current global warming. More than anything, what climatologists say is that past global cooling is simply not enough to discount the evidence for current warming, and this is being misheard as a positive argument of the former leading to the latter.

    It was even more counter-intuitive than that, the latter/warming was going to lead to the former/cooling.

    E.g.
    (New Ice Age by 1995?
    By Larry Ephron
    The New York Times; Jul. 1988, pg. A16)

    1995 came and went with no new Ice Age, yet the mythology of global warming continues because it is unfalsifiable. As a form of pseudo-science it predicts everything, therefore it predicts nothing.

    See also:
    (Scientists Suggest Global Warming
    Could Hasten the Next Ice Age
    By William K. Stevens
    The New York Times; Jan. 21, 1992 pg. C4)

    (Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing: Major Cooling May Be Ahead
    by Walter Sullivan
    The New York Times; May 21, 1975, pg. 45)

    (Science, Worrying About a New Ice Age
    by Walter Sullivan
    The New York Times; Feb 23, 1969, pg. E10)

    (Get Out the Ear Muffs: New Ice Age Forecast
    The New York Times; Nov. 11, 1956, pg. 40)

    An increase in the size and power of the State tends to be accompanied by an increase in pseudo-science (e.g. the link between eugenics and fascism) because everything must be made into an issue of science when science is the only public language allowed. I.e. when philosophy and religion are separated from public life all that is left is science but unfortunately science that is uninformed by philosophy and religion quickly degenerates into pseudo-science.

  86. Why would you propose such an accumulation? The nervous system makes perfect sense in terms of evolution.

    Of course it does. After all, doesn’t everything make sense in light of evolution?*

    But what sort of biological observations would not make sense in terms of evolution? What are the terms of evolution, how is the theory specified and what trajectories of adaptation can be predicted based on it?

    *Actually he was right, the material basis of evolution (i.e. the origins of specification/species) has generally been specified to be rooted in “random” genetic “accidents,” whatever random and accidental may mean in the minds of biologists.

  87. Joseph @ 81:

    Diffaxial,

    I have already told you there isn’t a quote.

    Scientists are not thta stupid.

    However there is a trend.

    Let me get this straight. According to y’all, scientists are both:

    - deliberately promoting counterintuitive theories and arguing that this counterintuitiveness indicates both scientific merit and their own elite intellectual superiority and,

    - hiding that action from view, such that you can’t produce a single quote or link that puts this behavior on display.

    Gotcha.

  88. Diffaxial,

    The actions are very evident.

  89. The actions are very evident.

    I get it.

    A “very evident” trend for which you can produce no evidence.

  90. Diffaxial

    You wrote:

    Can you quote a scientist anywhere, anytime, in these fields or any other, maintaining that the counterintuitiveness of their theory/findings is, in and of itself, evidence for the correctness of their theory?

    Well, I think I’ve found one: Niels Bohr. Here are a couple of related quotes.

    We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. – Said to Wolfgang Pauli after his presentation of Heisenberg’s and Pauli’s nonlinear field theory of elementary particles, at Columbia University (1958), as quoted in Symposium on Basic Research (1959) by Dael Lee Wolfle, p. 66.

    Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true. – As quoted in First Philosophy: The Theory of Everything (2007) by Spencer Scoular, p. 89

    Other fascinating quotes by Bohr can be found in his Wikipedia biography.

    Other scientists have made the point that science is frequently counterintuitive, and have been quite vocal in their disparagement of common sense. Lewis Wolpert, author of The Unnatural Nature of Science, would certainly fall into this category. Of course, saying that common sense is an unreliable guide to truth is not the same as saying that counterintuitiveness per se counts as evidence for truth.

    Readers may be interested to peruse this interview with Lewis Wolpert on his book, The Unnatural Nature of Science.

    There is also an online lecture by Richard Dawkins, entitled Queerer than we can suppose: The strangeness of science . Dawkins raises some interesting epistemological issues, and his talk (which lasts for 21 minutes and 57 seconds) makes for interesting viewing. An online transcript is also available.

  91. Diffaxial,

    Google counterintuitive physics. Physicists, especially the more famous ones, are absolutely in love with counterintuitive stuff.

    If that does not convince you, try counterintuitive evolution. It seems that the word counterintuitive is a big turn-on for scientists in general. They can’t get enough of it. I suspect they get high on it.

  92. “I get it.

    A “very evident” trend for which you can produce no evidence.”

    A perfect description of naturalistic macro evolution.

  93. jerry,
    just because you don’t like or haven’t bothered to learn the evidence for macroevolution doesn’t mean there isn’t any. how’s your research into mitochondria going? or have you read any of that long list of papers provided to you earlier?

  94. Atom,

    Good post. Someone else also mentioned that each bodily orifice presents an entry point for bacteria and other toxins – the more entry points, the more possibilities of infection. So I’d add that to your already impressive list of design principles underlying the combined pathway.

    you do realize that by this logic the designer must want women to become infected more often, since he gave them an extra orifice?

    or is that a religious argument?

  95. I think vjtorley wins the prize. Bohr’s quips capture well the surreal experience of science entering the bizarro world of QM.

  96. VJ @ 89:

    Well, I think I’ve found one: Niels Bohr. Here are a couple of related quotes.

    Very interesting and pertinent examples, VJ, although I don’t think Bohr’s statements vis the hugely counterintuitive nature of QM are the sort that are the target of Dr. Dembski’s satire.

    Bohr was speaking decades into empirical findings arising from QM that refuse to be mapped onto our macroscopic physical intuitions. Ultimately, he is remarking upon just how weirdly counterintuitive QM truly is, not advocating even greater counterintuitiveness as a value in and of itself.

    Other scientists have made the point that science is frequently counterintuitive, and have been quite vocal in their disparagement of common sense. Lewis Wolpert, author of The Unnatural Nature of Science, would certainly fall into this category. Of course, saying that common sense is an unreliable guide to truth is not the same as saying that counterintuitiveness per se counts as evidence for truth.

    I’ve bolded your crucial distinction.

  97. On occasion, science does indeed present us with evidence that contradicts our intuitive impressions, while other times, perhaps most times, it confirms them. So, given the fact that science can occasionally surprise us, the critical question is this: Are there any circumstances under which science can surprise us to the extent that it contradicts reason itself? Obviously not, since science’s integrity depends reason’s principles, which is another way of saying that reason is not exactly the same thing as intuition. It is precisely on the basis of that confusion that our adversaries rest their case. They would have us believe the since science can, on occasion, contradict our intuitions, then perhaps it can also counter reason’s principles. That is why they take such joy in finding these little anomalies that seem to [but do not really] tug away at the one thing they dispise most of all—common sense.
    In fact, science, properly understood, cannot go against reason at all, because the entire scientific enterprise is based on the assumption that the universe is, in fact, a reasonable place and subject to reason’s rules. It science did not proceed on that assumption, no one would bother with its methods or take seriously its conclusions. Science, properly understood assumes that [A] The universe is rational, [B] We have rational minds, [C] There is a correspondence between our rational minds and the rational universe, [D] The law of non contradiction is inviolable [E] Physical events cannot occur without causes, and [F] The whole is always greater than any one of its parts? Those are just some of the philosophical foundations that support the scientific enterprise, and science cannot function, or could not even exist, without them.

    [This idea informs the study of quantum mechanics as well. The quantum void is not “nothing,” and quantum particles, while spontaneous and unpredictable, are not uncaused. If any physical event at all could be uncaused, then science could not address any other physical event, since it would have no way of knowing which ones are subject to the principle of causation and which ones are not. Science’s methods depend on the principle of causation, which in turn, depends on the principle that no physical event can ever be uncaused. Indeed, quantum theory, or, for that matter, the theory of relativity, could only be conceived in a world that assumes a rational universe characterized by causal events that lend themselves to logical investigations.]

    So, the problem here is that Darwinists often try to suggest that since science can, at times, be counterintuitive, it can also be unreasonable. That is very bad logic. Further, they consistently dispute the fact that science rests on philosophical principles, an egregious anti-intellectual posture which completely removes them from the arena of rational discourse. On this very site, they have suggested that the principles of right reason are mere tautologies or axioms and do not necessarily apply to the real world. Of course, that view is misguided since science investigates the real world and the rules of reason are part of that investigation. I once asked two of our Darwinist friends, for example, if the principle that the whole is always greater than any one of its parts applies to the real world, and they immediately declared that it need not be the case. Following that, I asked them if it was possible for an automobile to be a part of a crankshaft. The discussion ended at that point.

    This is why all of our discussions with Darwinists break down when we are discussing science. They dispute the rules of reason at the outset, insisting that science is based solely on evidence, as if there were no logical criteria for interpreting that evidence. That is why they feel free to interpret evidence any way they like, which is another way of saying that they interpret all facts to fit their Darwinistic biases, no matter how unreasonable or illogical the conclusions derived from those biases might be. As kairosfocus points out, Lewontin let the cat out of the bag long ago with his famous quote about “prior commitments,” and although most Darwinists, in the spirit of damage control, distance themselves from his refreshingly honest disclosure, it does indeed reflect their position. That is one reason why I have ceased discussing science with them. What is the point of debating science with someone who refuses to apply the laws of logic to facts in evidence?

    If, in fact, the priniciples of right reason do not apply to the real world, then global cooling and global warming can both be true at the same time, life can appear out of nowhere, matter can create, scientists can think without minds and investigate a universe without meaning as if there was some point to it, whatever one wishes to be true is true, and whatever one wishes to be false is false. How is one supposed to dialogue with a mind set like that. From my perspective, it is far better to simply point out that our adversaries have abandoned reason’s rules for dialogue and to keep driving that point home.

  98. mynym @86,

    But what sort of biological observations would not make sense in terms of evolution? What are the terms of evolution, how is the theory specified and what trajectories of adaptation can be predicted based on it?

    IANAS, but the way I understand evolution, it has no capability for predicting or anticipating future conditions or events.

    The way I see it, there are no ‘terms of evolution’ either, evolution proceeds according to the laws of nature.

    i believe that in order to understand – and by that I do not mean to say that one must accept it – one must make some effort at understanding exactly what evolutionary and developmental science says.

    I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think I see some misunderstanding of what evolutionary theory really says. There’s always the risk of interference from bias.

  99. Khan,

    Just because you believe that acquired traits leads to macroevolution does not mean that it actually does.

    You have proven that you can’t even provide a testable hypothesis for your position.

    And there isn’t any genetic evidence which would demonstrate the changes required are even possible.

    That is why you are relegated to making cryptic posts and bald accusations.

  100. mapou @ 91:

    Diffaxial,

    Google counterintuitive physics. Physicists, especially the more famous ones, are absolutely in love with counterintuitive stuff.

    If that does not convince you, try counterintuitive evolution. It seems that the word counterintuitive is a big turn-on for scientists in general. They can’t get enough of it. I suspect they get high on it.

    Your searches return 12 million links in one instance and 1.8 million links in the other (an obvious indication of a poorly formed search query).

    We all know there are many counterintuitive findings in science, particularly physics. You’ll have to do the leg work to find among those ~14 million hits quotes of or links to scientists arguing that confidence in a given theory is increased because the findings are counterintuitive.

  101. Lewontin:

    I asked them if it was possible for an automobile to be a part of a crankshaft. The discussion ended at that point.

    Well, of course an automobile could be part of an enormous crankshaft, like some kind of huge modern sculpture. (It wouldn’t be a functional automobile in the sense of moving forward.) :D

    In any case, I’m curious where Darwinism violates the whole-parts principle. Is it that you believe that life derives from mind, and therefore mind cannot derive from life?

    Lewontin let the cat out of the bag long ago with his famous quote about “prior commitments,” and although most Darwinists, in the spirit of damage control, distance themselves from his refreshingly honest disclosure, it does indeed reflect their position.

    I’m pretty sure the second part of that contradicts the first, but that’s because I don’t believe that worldviews have hidden agendas.

    If, in fact, the priniciples of right reason do not apply to the real world, then

    I feel like addressing each of these individually…

    global cooling and global warming can both be true at the same time,

    Yes, it is possible for the Earth to undergo a small cooling period followed by a greater warming period. Scientists can predict the first and then the second. There is no contradiction.

    life can appear out of nowhere,

    In some ways, that might be a better description of the ID approach to OOL. In describing the naturalist approach, what you mean by “nowhere” is “non-life”, and in the definition of “life” you include an unknown amorphous immaterial intelligent Phenomenon. The ID answer to “how did life physically and chemically emerge in the early Earth?” is “an Intelligence”. That’s as close to “nowhere” as anything, as I see it.

    matter can create,

    … I’m not even sure what to say to this. I guess you mean “can create complexity”. At that point we’re in a domain apart from strict all-by-itself reason — I don’t believe there’s a specific logical principle that matter cannot create complexity.

    scientists can think without minds

    Believe it or not, not everyone automatically believes that the mind must be immaterial or it doesn’t exist at all. Saying scientists don’t believe in minds is like saying Christians and Jews don’t believe in God, because everyone knows that God is strictly female.

    and investigate a universe without meaning as if there was some point to it

    See prior point. If I wanted, I could hook up “meaning of life” to “love of baseball”, and assume that if you don’t know anything about baseball, you can’t possibly think life is meaningful. The repeated insistence that life is pointless unless it was begun by a powerful intelligent being kinda gets on my nerves. If I were that being, it would get on my nerves too — “What, you think my creation is worth nothing in itself? Why are you so ungrateful?” ;)

    Much love…

  102. The way I see it, there are no ‘terms of evolution’ either, evolution proceeds according to the laws of nature.

    i believe that in order to understand – and by that I do not mean to say that one must accept it – one must make some effort at understanding exactly what evolutionary and developmental science says.

    I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think I see some misunderstanding of what evolutionary theory really says.

  103. —–Lenoxus: “Well, of course an automobile could be part of an enormous crankshaft, like some kind of huge modern sculpture. (It wouldn’t be a functional automobile in the sense of moving forward.) ”

    Thanks for your courteous response. Also, I appreciate your honest confession [or perhaps insinuation] that you believe that the whole is not necessarily greater than any one of its parts. This is, of course, the problem. Darwinists reject the rules of rationality to make things come out their own way. In this case, you would rather try to make a car a part of a crankshaft than to simply submit to the logical principle, which is unassailable. Darwinists cannot or will not conform to the principles of right reason because doing so would force them to follow where the evidence leads. In order to avoid that daunting task, they prefer to simply make up new rules for logic.

    —–“In any case, I’m curious where Darwinism violates the whole-parts principle. Is it that you believe that life derives from mind, and therefore mind cannot derive from life?”

    Darwinism violates the principle that physical events need no causes and the principle that something cannot come from nothing.

    —–“[On Lewontin: I’m pretty sure the second part of that contradicts the first, but that’s because I don’t believe that worldviews have hidden agendas.”

    The hidden agenda is the religious ideology that poses as disinterested science. Darwinists rule out design on the basis of personal preference, not on the basis of evidence.

    ----"The ID answer to “how did life physically and chemically emerge in the early Earth?” is “an Intelligence”. That’s as close to “nowhere” as anything, as I see it."

    When I say “out of nowhere,” I mean without a cause. If events could occur without causes, then science could not exist since it would have no way of knowing which events were caused and which ones were not. ID says life had a cause [intelligence]. Darwinism says it just happened.

    —–Believe it or not, not everyone automatically believes that the mind must be immaterial or it doesn’t exist at all. Saying scientists don’t believe in minds is like saying Christians and Jews don’t believe in God, because everyone knows that God is strictly female.

    This is another example of changing definitions to make things work. [as you did with the automobile]. Obviously, I am, in the traditional sense, defining “mind” as an immaterial entity and the “brain” as a material organ. Darwinists either rule out minds apriori, or, they change the definition of “mind” so they can make contradictory arguments. Thus, those few that accept the concept of a mind, do so only after having insisted that it must be grounded in matter, which means, of course, that it wouldn’t be a mind at all. It makes no sense. Without minds, there is no way to distinguish the investigator from the investigation. Matter cannot investigate matter. Molecules cannot reflect on themselves, even after 4 billion years.

    —–“The repeated insistence that life is pointless unless it was begun by a powerful intelligent being kinda gets on my nerves. If I were that being, it would get on my nerves too — “What, you think my creation is worth nothing in itself? Why are you so ungrateful?”

    In the first sentence you proceed on the assumption that the creator need not exist, but in the second sentence, you bring the creator back to scold us. Remember, a thing cannot be and not be at the same time. On the matter of the creation itself, the universe either has a purpose or it doesn’t. If it does have a purpose, we should abandon purposeless Darwinism. If it doesn’t have a purpose, we cannot simply inject it in the universe through some existential act of the will.

  104. Hi Steve

    Welcome back!

    GEM of TKI

  105. PS: It is sadly amusing to see how a crankshaft being a part of a car is turned into a car being a part of a “sculpture” of a crankshaft; to escape the point that a finite whole is and must be greater than any of its proper parts.

  106. kairosfocus @ 105

    PS: It is sadly amusing to see how a crankshaft being a part of a car is turned into a car being a part of a “sculpture” of a crankshaft; to escape the point that a finite whole is and must be greater than any of its proper parts.

    Perhaps you – or StephenB – could define “greater than” in this context?

    For example, obviously a car, viewed as a machine for transporting people from place to place, is assembled from many more components than just the crankshaft. Is that what “greater than” means here: ‘made of more parts than’?

    On the other hand, an artist might view a car as a form of sculpture: an assemblage of parts whose function is to provide a housing or a context for the crankshaft which is viewed as the focal point of the work and hence ‘greater’ than the other parts either singly or severally. In this case, “greater than” could mean ‘having more aesthetic appeal or significance than’

    Words are slippery things in that they can have a number of different meanings – the words ‘information’ and ‘religious’ come to mind in the context of this blog – so we should try to choose them carefully so as to avoid ambiguity as far as possible.

  107. Before the change of subject StephenB hopes for is fully consummated, I’ll just note that there are no responses above that provide a link to, quote of, or evidence for scientists making the claim that counterintuitive theories and findings are to be preferred solely because they are counterintuitive.

    (I’m a little surprised; I expected someone would come up with something.)

  108. StephenB @ 103

    On the matter of the creation itself, the universe either has a purpose or it doesn’t. If it does have a purpose, we should abandon purposeless Darwinism.

    How does that follow? The theory of evolution explains how, after it had appeared, life on Earth changed and diversified over time through a process of random mutation and natural selection. What is to prevent a creator from employing such a process as a means of developing its creation?

    If it doesn’t have a purpose, we cannot simply inject it in the universe through some existential act of the will.

    If the Universe was created for a purpose by a creator then what was that other than an “existential act of the will” on its part? And if such an act of will is sufficient for you from a creator, in what way, if such a creator does not exist, are we precluded from doing the same for ourselves?

  109. Khan,
    Just because you believe that acquired traits leads to macroevolution does not mean that it actually does.
    You have proven that you can’t even provide a testable hypothesis for your position.
    And there isn’t any genetic evidence which would demonstrate the changes required are even possible.
    That is why you are relegated to making cryptic posts and bald accusations.

    Since Khan has not responded yet, may I weigh in here?
    1. Acquired traits are just that, and don’t ‘lead’ anywhere. An acquired trait may, depending on circumstances, be involved in further evolution; it’s all about the way the dice rolls. Macroevolution = a sequence of microevolutionary steps.
    2. The ToE is the hypothesis and theory, always subject to testing and falsification.
    3. The ToE has for 150 years been a continuous demonstration of the possibilities. Evidence keeps on being stacked up and with the ‘new’ science of evo-devo, new continents have been added to the evolutionary landscape. No evidence, genetic or otherwise says that observed changes are impossible. I would believe real evidence that the changes are impossible. I even believe a lot of scientists would too.

  110. Stephen (103),

    Your post is incorrect on so many levels. For instance, you wrote:

    “Darwinism violates the principle that physical events need no causes and the principle that something cannot come from nothing.”

    That in itself is a complete misunderstanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution (both as put forward by Darwin himself and as the theory has progressed over the last 150 years). Evolution certainly is NOT based on “something coming from nothing” – it concerns the origin of species as they arose from other species, basically by random mutation of the (as we know it now) genetic material and the natural selection (or otherwise) of organisms thereby produced. Hence there is always something to act on – the genome of existing species. Don’t forget, it doesn’t actually address the origin of life.

    “The hidden agenda is the religious ideology that poses as disinterested science. Darwinists rule out design on the basis of personal preference, not on the basis of evidence.”

    That comment is totally and utterly incorrect. I accept the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence for it, but in fact I think it would be absolutely BRILLIANT if there was an intelligent designer. That is because it would open up vast new areas of science (probably exobiology, for a start). The trouble is, there is not a shred of proper evidence for it (to my immense disappointment).

    “When I say “out of nowhere,” I mean without a cause. If events could occur without causes, then science could not exist since it would have no way of knowing which events were caused and which ones were not. ID says life had a cause [intelligence]. Darwinism says it just happened.”

    No, it doesn’t – evolution says that the origin of species is random mutation and natural selection of the genomes of existing species. Origin of life is a different aspect of science. And actually, even hypotheses on the origin of life isn’t based on “something coming from nothing” -they are based on different possibilities for a molecular origin. That is a lot more than IS has to offer – ID can;t even say who the designers are or even who they could be, and for some reason ID advocates don’t even want to use their theory to eliminate candidates, to narrow down the field, either.

    And actually, science DOES contend with events that do not have causes – quantum mechanics, for example, where cause and effect often break down and science has to apply statistical approaches. Radioactivitiy is the best example -it is not possible to tell what causes a particular nucleus to decay at a particular time, but you can say how many of a large sample will decay in a certain time.

    “Thus, those few that accept the concept of a mind, do so only after having insisted that it must be grounded in matter, which means, of course, that it wouldn’t be a mind at all.”

    Simply not correct. I accept the existence of a “mind” and most, perhaps all, scientists I know do also. It is the nature of the mind that is in question.

    “It makes no sense. Without minds, there is no way to distinguish the investigator from the investigation.”

    I don’t see that that matters. Physicists doing sensitive investigations of gravity can’t separate themselves from the investigation either, because they too have mass with gravitational attraction, but it isn’t a handicap. I don’t see the problem.

    “Matter cannot investigate matter.”

    Why not? Who says? This just sounds like a comment plucked out of the air without any justification.

    “Molecules cannot reflect on themselves, even after 4 billion years.” They don’t, it’s the mind that does that. The only question is what the mind actually is, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the mind is there doing the reflecting.

    “On the matter of the creation itself, the universe either has a purpose or it doesn’t. If it does have a purpose, we should abandon purposeless Darwinism.”

    Why? If there is a purpose, who is to say that evolution a la Darwin is not part of that purpose? You do have a tendency to make unjustified jumps in logic which just don’t work, like this one.

    “If it doesn’t have a purpose, we cannot simply inject it in the universe through some existential act of the will.”

    That pretty much disposes of every religious belief that ever existed then, because that is what they propose: an entity willing purpose onto the universe.

  111. 111

    Gaz…

    “The trouble is, there is not a shred of proper evidence for it (to my immense disappointment).”

    The evidence is already part of the scientific record, as in here:
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    among others…

    Please, do try and catch up.

  112. —-seversky: “Perhaps you – or StephenB – could define “greater than” in this context?”

    So, are you denying the principle that the whole is always greater than any one of its parts on the grounds that you don’t know what “greater” means?

    One could question the law of non-contradiction the same way. (Why whatever do you mean by “a thing cannot ‘be’ and not ‘be’ at the same time. What does ‘be’ mean.)

    Part of the unreasonableness is claiming not to know the plain meaning of what is being said.

    Everyone understands the relationship between the part and the whole, just as they understand the other principles that I mentioned (law of non-contradiction , all physical events have causes etc). Yet, Darwinists typically do not like logical principles because the rules of reason limit their capacity to assert impossible propositions. So, they deny the principles themselves (or claim not to know what they mean) so they can go ahead and make unreasonable claims.

    I am trying to explain to my ID friends that their anti-ID partisans will always twist the scientific discussion with bad logic and interpret the evidence accordingly. That means that providing more and more evidence will not solve the problem. The problem calls for a direct assessment of the bad logic being used.

    I dramatized the point by showing that Darwinists will even claim that a car CAN be a part of a crankshaft, just as they will, (implicity and in their own way), argue that a thing can be true and false at the same time, or that physical events can occur without causes, or that something can come from nothing.

  113. —-Diffaxial: “Before the change of subject StephenB hopes for is fully consummated….”

    My purpose is to show WHY Darwinists prefer counterintuitive examples. The idea is to associate “counterintuitive” with “unreasonable” and therefore set the stage for denying reason’s principles, which is exactly what they do. So, it is related to the topic.

    On the other hand, I encourage you to pursue the question you have been pursuing. It was not my intent to provide a distraction.

  114. StephenB @ 223:

    My purpose is to show WHY Darwinists prefer counterintuitive examples.

    Since no one has provided a shred of evidence, even by intertubes standards (links, quotes), that scientists generally and evolutionary biologists specifically DO refer counterintuitive theories and findings solely because they are counterintuitive, your efforts seem premature.

  115. —-Gaz: “Evolution certainly is NOT based on “something coming from nothing” – it concerns the origin of species as they arose from other species, basically by random mutation of the (as we know it now) genetic material and the natural selection (or otherwise) of organisms thereby produced. Hence there is always something to act on – the genome of existing species. Don’t forget, it doesn’t actually address the origin of life.”

    Here is a test: You just described the “process.” Did the process need a cause or not?

    —-“I accept the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence for it, but in fact I think it would be absolutely BRILLIANT if there was an intelligent designer.”

    My evidence for intelligent design is the coded information contained in the DNA molecule. No one has ever found coded information in any context whatsoever, living things or otherwise, except where intelligence was the cause. That is a powerful argument. What is your evidence for the claim that natural processes can produce information? Evidently, you “prefer” to believe that it is possible because you cannot show me “how” that it is possible.

    —-“And actually, science DOES contend with events that do not have causes – quantum mechanics, for example, where cause and effect often break down and science has to apply statistical approaches. Radioactivitiy is the best example -it is not possible to tell what causes a particular nucleus to decay at a particular time, but you can say how many of a large sample will decay in a certain time.”

    No, it doesn’t. Science is based on the proposition that ALL physical events have causes. Quantum mechanics shows that physical events can appear spontaneously and unpredictably; it does NOT show that they are uncaused. A quantum void is not “nothing.” If any physical event can occur without a cause, then science is finished since, under those circumstances, there would be no way of distinguishing those things which have causes and those which do not. I am amazed that more people do not understand this.

    I wrote, “Molecules cannot reflect on themselves, even after 4 billion years.”

    —–“They don’t, it’s the mind that does that. The only question is what the mind actually is, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the mind is there doing the reflecting.”

    The point is that it is an immaterial mind that does the reflecting because a material collection of molecules doesn’t reflect on itself. That is the point of saying that the investigator is distinct from the distinction. It is illogical to say that matter can reflect on matter.

    —-“If there is a purpose, who is to say that evolution a la Darwin is not part of that purpose? ”You do have a tendency to make unjustified jumps in logic which just don’t work, like this one.

    Well, let’s find out who has logic on his side. Was Darwinism designed, or was it not designed. If it was designed, it isn’t Darwinism; if it wasn’t designed, it is purposeless. Think about it.

    I wrote, “If it [the universe] doesn’t have a purpose, we cannot simply inject it in the universe through some existential act of the will.”

    —–“That pretty much disposes of every religious belief that ever existed then, because that is what they propose: an entity willing purpose onto the universe.”

    No. Please take note of the word “we” in my comment. We can’t inject purpose on the universe if it has no purpose. Religion says that the “creator” designed purpose in the universe; existentialism claims that man can inject his own purpose on the world where there is no creator to do it. The latter claim makes no sense.

  116. Gaz said

    “I accept the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence for it,”

    This is the debate. No one in the history of the world has presented any evidence for a mechanism of macro evolution. It is not overwhelming because there isn’t any. We have asked for it here for several years and have read most things given to us to read.

    Evolution happened. That is not the issue. Life changes due to micro evolutionary processes. That is not the debate. That new complex capabilities have appeared over time is not under debate. But how is a mystery and Darwin’s ideas fail when the tools of science are used to investigate it.

    The debate is simple when focused on the basic problem. The mechanism for the origin of novel complex capabilities.

  117. “Since no one has provided a shred of evidence, even by intertubes standards (links, quotes), that scientists generally and evolutionary biologists specifically DO refer counterintuitive theories and findings solely because they are counterintuitive, your efforts seem premature.”

    Would the admission by a prominent evolutionary biologist that he needs faith to accept naturalistic evolution count? In other words he knows there is no evidence for it but believes over deep time that it had happened. Namely, the whole microbes to man scenario.

  118. Folks:

    I think the exchanges need a breath of fresh air from David Abel, on The Cybernetic Cut.

    11 pages, so simply pause and read.

    (And, those who read it will find a very familiar pattern of thought, though of course developed on different terms and with just under 100 references in the peer reviewed literature; BTW, the just linked is also peer reviewed.)

    And, in that general context, SB is dead right: it is but a short rhetorical step from the counter-intuitive to the irrational, and onward to stoutly arguing for the latter in the name of the former.

    Rhetorical bait and switch, in short; only to end up in self-refuting absurdity.

    For, that which is irrational falls of its own illogic.

    And, one of these points, very clearly is that the very act of communicating a distinct message presupposes that there is distinction between A and NOT-A so that A is not to be equated to NOT_A.

    Similarly, wholes and parts have a well-known distinction and relationship such that the finite whole is made up form its integrated, interacting parts.

    So, when we see objectors reduced to arguing against such self-evidently true things, that is telling us a lot about the underlying, inescapable irrationality of the evolutionary materialist case.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I am already tire of the new ad hominem laced evolutionary materialist rhetorical partyline nonsense that people who in many cases have advanced degrees in sciences and have lectured at college levels in relevant areas have no understanding of basic science. [Onlookers, cf my remarks here, to see if I really do not understand what science is about and how it works, for instance. And as for David Abel publishing as linked already in a peer reviewed journal . . . ]

  119. Sigh:

    Working LINK to The Cybernetic Cut.

  120. PS: David Abel’s online list of papers — UD Moderators, could there be a link?

  121. Jerry @

    Would the admission by a prominent evolutionary biologist that he needs faith to accept naturalistic evolution count? In other words he knows there is no evidence for it but believes over deep time that it had happened. Namely, the whole microbes to man scenario.

    I’m a little confused about your position, Jerry. You just said:

    Evolution happened. That is not the issue. Life changes due to micro evolutionary processes. That is not the debate. That new complex capabilities have appeared over time is not under debate.

    I took you to be reporting that you accept the basic picture life’s history understood by evolutionary biology (e.g. a ramifying family of life progressing over billions of years from simple initial forms to present day complexity and diversity – “the whole microbes to man scenario”), but dispute the mechanisms involved (e.g. mutation and selection, etc.).

    That said, to answer your question: No, as I don’t see y

  122. Jerry @ 117:

    Would the admission by a prominent evolutionary biologist that he needs faith to accept naturalistic evolution count? In other words he knows there is no evidence for it but believes over deep time that it had happened. Namely, the whole microbes to man scenario.

    I’m a little confused about your position, Jerry. You just said:

    Evolution happened. That is not the issue. Life changes due to micro evolutionary processes. That is not the debate. That new complex capabilities have appeared over time is not under debate.

    I took you to be reporting that you accept the basic picture of life’s history understood by evolutionary biology (e.g. a ramifying family of life progressing over billions of years from one or a few initial forms to present day complexity and diversity – “the whole microbes to man scenario”), but dispute that the mechanism involved (e.g. mutation and selection, etc.) can account for the marcroevolutionary transitions that occurred during that history.

    That said, to answer your question: No, as what you describe doesn’t portray a scientist preferring a counterintuitive theory or finding because it is counterintuitive.

    But go ahead, give us a link, and we’ll evaluate.

  123. Apologies for the partial double post.

  124. —-Diffaxial: “Since no one has provided a shred of evidence, even by intertubes standards (links, quotes), that scientists generally and evolutionary biologists specifically DO refer counterintuitive theories and findings solely because they are counterintuitive, your efforts seem premature.”

    I, for one, am not claiming that they do so solely on the grounds that such theories are counterintuitive (that’s someone else’s gig) but rather that they prefer such theories to others. Indeed, it happened on this very thread. Someone claimed that quantum mechanics, which is in many ways counterintuitive, shows that physical events can occur without causes, which of course would violate the very principle of causation, which underlies all scientific methodology.

    In my experience, Darwinists love to provide evidence that, in their mind, will invalidate the principles of right reason. Thus, they prefer counterintuitive arguments to others because they mistakenly believe that it will liberate them from the rules of logic and justify their practice of rejecting reasoned arguments. I submit that these lapses in logic are more significant than the disputes over the evidence since evidence cannot interpret itself. The point at issue, then, is this: Which side in this debate interprets evidence in the light of reason’s principles. Obviously, it can only be that side that acknowledges reason’s principles.

  125. “I’m a little confused about your position, Jerry. You just said:

    Evolution happened. That is not the issue. Life changes due to micro evolutionary processes. That is not the debate. That new complex capabilities have appeared over time is not under debate.”

    Why did you leave t he next sentence off

    “But how is a mystery and Darwin’s ideas fail when the tools of science are used to investigate it.”

    Do I understand that you then agree with this sentence too in my post. Or maybe you do not understand the debate. Otherwise why would say you are a little confused. My position is very clear.

  126. 126

    Holy smokes, that is one weird list of publications by David Abel:

    http://davidlabel.blogspot.com/

    He lists “The capabilities of chaos and complexity” 77 times on the page!

    “Self-Organization vs. Self-Ordering events” 38 times!

    And on and on it goes…

    I have not seen anything like that before.

    Thanks, kf.

  127. GEM at 104, thanks.

  128. Jerry @ 125:

    My position is very clear.

    I am wondering if you would disambiguate a bit. You said:

    When you say “evolution happened…new complex capabilities have appeared over time,” does this encompass, for example, the notion that human beings and chimpanzees share a common ancestor that lived some millions of years ago, and that, more remotely, all multicelled organisms share a common ancestor, that multicelled organisms evolved from single celled organisms hundreds of millions (or more) years in the past, etc.?

    I understand that you reject the orthodox mechanisms. But I am unclear on what other additional facts you endorse.

    But how is a mystery and Darwin’s ideas fail when the tools of science are used to investigate it

    Of course I disagree with this characterization. However, I don’t seen any logical difficulty in a position that accepts that the fossil record depicts the branching radiation of species over hundreds of millions of years, as described by our contemporary understanding of the phylogenies of modern organisms, while rejecting the notion that current mechanisms are inadequate to account for that history. And I wondered if this describes your position.

  129. StephenB @ 124:

    I, for one, am not claiming that they do so solely on the grounds that such theories are counterintuitive (that’s someone else’s gig) but rather that they prefer such theories to others.

    OK, take out the “solely.” I’d be interested if you would a quote of or link to an evolutionary biologist expressing preference for a counterintuitive theory or finding in part because it is counterintuitive relative to the alternatives.

    In my experience, Darwinists love to provide evidence that, in their mind, will invalidate the principles of right reason…I submit that these lapses in logic are more significant than the disputes over the evidence since evidence cannot interpret itself.

    Would you please provide an example of a facet of contemporary evolutionary theory that is defective due to the failure of the scientists involved to respect the principles of right reason?

  130. UprightBiped (111),

    “The evidence is already part of the scientific record, as in here:
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    No, it isn’t – have you actually read the paper, because if you had you wouldn’t make that claim. It makes no mention of intelligent design at all. In fact, it assumes evolution occurred, as evidenced by this paragraph where random mutation and natural selection are invoked:

    “Selection pressure works only on existing successful messages, and then only at the phenotypic level. Environmental selection does not choose which nucleotide to add next to a forming single-stranded RNA. Environmental selection is always after-the-fact. It could not have programmed primordial RNA genes. Neither could noise. Abel has termed this The GS Principle (Genetic Selection Principle) [137]. Differential molecular stability and happenstantial self- or mutual-replication are all that nature had to work with in a prebiotic environment. The environment had no goal or intent with which to “work.” ”

    “Please, do try and catch up.”

    I think it’s you that needs to catch up – with your reading comprehension, for a start.

  131. Trolls! Save the cudgels for another day. Bill is simply pointing out the obvious: grand unifying theories like Darwinism and AGW are counterintuitive by their very nature. Theory obtains power through resistance to the varieties of experience (intuition).

    Read what Einstein said about common sense and go back under the bridge and sit down in a cool puddle and think about it for a while. Relativity obtained its apparent unifying power by negating the difference between space and time—that is, by negating quantitative method and ratiocination. Physical observations in the real world diminish that unifying power.

    The same is true of Darwinism. The late, lamented century of supermen and unspeakable butchery was the “age of science,” and the science that predominated was theoretical. Relativity, Natural Selection, Dialectical Materialism, the “Theory of Sex”—all obtained transcendent status by using the force of resistance found in theory to produce simple, clear, uncluttered descriptions of being.

    This simple clarity made them seem like beacons of a new and more liberated age—until reality intruded. Two are dead and gone with the foul stench of low tide and disillusionment. Any wagers on the others?

  132. Adel:

    I took time to clip and pass the page to a word processor: 108 pp.

    Abel cross-references by topic across dozens of themes, so keystone papers will appear many times. (In short, the comment is strawmannish and a red herring.)

    I find it interesting that this is what you chose to first focus on than the substance in the particular linked paper. A paper that discusses issues that have been batted back and forth in this blog for years.

    And, which brings out just how through methodological naturalism as an imposition, a counterintuitive claim — that functional complex codes, algorithms, informational networks of what Abel calls “dynamically inert switches” wrote themselves out of in effect lucky noise — has been preferred over the empirically well supported “intuition” that such things are normally produced by agents.

    GEM of TKI

  133. StephenB (117),

    “Here is a test: You just described the “process.” Did the process need a cause or not?”

    Only to the extent that the “cause” was the random mutation of a gene – for example, a DNA point mutation such as an adenine molecule being replaced by a guaning molecule. That’s all that is needed to start the process.

    “My evidence for intelligent design is the coded information contained in the DNA molecule. No one has ever found coded information in any context whatsoever, living things or otherwise, except where intelligence was the cause. That is a powerful argument. What is your evidence for the claim that natural processes can produce information? Evidently, you “prefer” to believe that it is possible because you cannot show me “how” that it is possible.”

    Here’s the bad news for you – DNA isn’t coded information in the sense that an entity was trying to convey a message to someone, or even to use it to build something. It’s an illusion that there is any “information” in that sense in DNA. Claiming that DNA conveys information is abit like claiming that geolocical strata convey information: neither does, it’s just the structure of them is dependent on their history. In the case of DNA, it’s the successful genes that continue to be utilised and in the case of strata it’s the laying of newer sediments on older. Claiming DNA is information is a bit like saying rock strata are equivalent to a kind of barcode, hence they must have been laid by an intelligence.

    “No, it doesn’t. Science is based on the proposition that ALL physical events have causes. Quantum mechanics shows that physical events can appear spontaneously and unpredictably; it does NOT show that they are uncaused.”

    Oh okay, I see what you are saying (I think). But I still don’t think I agree with you. For example, take beta decay (involving an electron) -the decay is mediated as a weak interaction, which could be the cause, but what is it that actually triggers an individual neutron to decay at a particulat time? At the very least, quantum mechanics poses a very large question mark over causality at that level. If you disagree, perhaps you would tell me what it is that causes a neutron to undergo beta decay?

    “A quantum void is not “nothing.”

    Well, I agree. But that is because of events happening without a cause – essentially, particles appearing and disappearing sponatneously.

    “If any physical event can occur without a cause, then science is finished since, under those circumstances, there would be no way of distinguishing those things which have causes and those which do not.”

    No, that simply is not correct. Even if causality is a problem at the quantum mechanical level – which it is – that doesn’t mean that ALL physical events are a problem causally. What happens is that science does what it always does, and seek to constrain an intractable problem to one that can be solved. For example: science cannot look at a radioactive atom and predict when (if ever) it will decay. So do scientists throw their hands up wailing and say, we might as well abandin science? No, they don’t. What they do is calcualte the probability that it will decay. Then they get a whole load of the atoms – billions on billions – and, because they have the probability figures, use it to say that after a certain amount of time then a certain, quanified proportion will have decayed. Hence science has managed to carry on despite the inability to know when a certain individual atom will decay. Science does this sort of thing all the time.

    “I am amazed that more people do not understand this.”

    I think the atom example demonstrates that it is you that does not understand.

    “The point is that it is an immaterial mind that does the reflecting because a material collection of molecules doesn’t reflect on itself. That is the point of saying that the investigator is distinct from the distinction. It is illogical to say that matter can reflect on matter.”

    No, it isn’t – not if the mind can arise form an ordered collection of matter, which is certainly a possibility.

    “Well, let’s find out who has logic on his side. Was Darwinism designed, or was it not designed. If it was designed, it isn’t Darwinism; if it wasn’t designed, it is purposeless. Think about it.”

    You’ve switched the question – before you were talking about the universe having a purpose, now you change it to Darwinism. So now it’s a different discussion. If you want my answers, they are that Darwinism wasn’t designed and it doesn’t have a purpose (and actually, I have the same view about the universe itself). But if I am wrong, that doesn’t mean a purposeful universe means abandoning a purposeless Darwinism – you need to think thinks through more.

    “No. Please take note of the word “we” in my comment. We can’t inject purpose on the universe if it has no purpose. Religion says that the “creator” designed purpose in the universe; existentialism claims that man can inject his own purpose on the world where there is no creator to do it. The latter claim makes no sense.”

    What does it matter whether purpose was injected by man or someone else such as a creator? Whether by us or a creator, its been injected and one way or the other it’s artificial.

  134. —-Diffaxial: “OK, take out the “solely.” I’d be interested if you would a quote of or link to an evolutionary biologist expressing preference for a counterintuitive theory or finding in part because it is counterintuitive relative to the alternatives.”

    I am not saying that they “express” the preference, [if only they would be so honest] I am saying that they “exhibit” the preference at those times when they seek to challenge the rules of reason. Why would you ask me to provide a link to some far away place after I cited an example right here on this thread. Indeed, every Darwinist that visits this site tries to escape the law of causation by referring to counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanics, clinging to the futile hope that some modern theory could invalidate the principle of causation and free them up to make illogical propositions. Do you want me to name names?

    At a broader level, the proposition that undirected naturalistic forces can create information and design life is counterintuitive, yet every Darwinist here prefers it. Indeed, that is how Dawkins has described the modern theory of evolution–as the study of those things that APPEAR to be designed. How could one possibly show more preference for the counterintuitive element than that. Our intuition tells us that the DNA molecule was designed, but Darwinists prefer the counterintuitive claim, namely that design is an “illusion.” Surely, it is a preference, since no Darwinist has ever made the case that undirected naturalistic forces can produce a new body plan. Indeed, they cannot even provide an imaginary model as to how such a thing might happen, even in the abstract. They simply prefer to believe it.

  135. “I am wondering if you would disambiguate a bit. You said:”

    I thought I was very clear and not ambiguous.

    “But I am unclear on what other additional facts you endorse.”

    I said

    “But how is a mystery and Darwin’s ideas fail when the tools of science are used to investigate it”

    I said I was clear. I said it was a mystery. I said Darwin’s ideas fail when the tools of science are used to investigate macro evolution. Now that is two clear statements but the second automatically follows from the first. If it is a mystery then Darwin’s ideas are a failure or else it wouldn’t be a mystery. It also implies that all other known or speculative processes have failed to explain the data. You point to radiations in the fossil record but you cannot point to the rise or complex novel capabilities but they appeared but not gradually and no theory can account for them.

    Now one can take a broad stance and that is what I do and say that it is either a naturalistic mechanism or it is not. So far other natural mechanisms have also failed so we are left with the possibility of a non naturalistic mechanism as an explanation for parts of the history of life.

    Your other question – Whether all multi cellular organisms have a unique ancestor is highly speculative and there is no data to support that other than homologies. Nor is there any data to support the rise of multi cellular organisms from single celled organisms. Darwin made it as an assumption and science has been saddled with it ever since. It is the one aspect of Darwin’s ideas that cannot be given up. The others, gradualism, natural selection and Malthusian competition for resources have all bitten the dust as major players in the evolution debate but common descent must be held to for dear life because without it more than just a biological theory disappears.

    It is all a mystery. The best evidence contradicts a natural process for the origin of multi-cellular organisms and for novel complex capabilities. So what are we left to do but speculate on other origins for multi-cellular organisms.

    But you should know this by now since you have been around this site for a few months.

  136. StephenB @ 134:

    I am not saying that they “express” the preference, [if only they would be so honest] I am saying that they “exhibit” the preference at those times when they seek to challenge the rules of reason. Why would you ask me to provide a link to some far away place after I cited an example right here on this thread. Indeed, every Darwinist that visits this site tries to escape the law of causation by referring to counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanics, clinging to the futile hope that some modern theory could invalidate the principle of causation and free them up to make illogical propositions. Do you want me to name names?

    The degree to which quantum physics describes events that may be said to be acausal has little bearing upon evolutionary theory, which can be accommodated at a macroscopic level without reference to quantum effects. Because evolutionary biology as it stands can be comfortably accommodated both within a macroscopic world and within a deterministic world, no motivation to advance putatively acausal facets of quantum physics arises within the context of a discussion of biological evolution.

    (IIRC, discussion of acausality in quantum physics instead earlier arose, at least to the extent to which I have participated, not in the context of a discussion of the particulars of evolution but rather in the context of challenges to your assertion that a collection of self-evident truths culminates in a “proof” of the existence of a personal God, a proof I personally find tautological and defective for many additional reasons that have nothing to do with QM.)

    At a broader level, the proposition that undirected naturalistic forces can create information and design life is counterintuitive, yet every Darwinist here prefers it.

    Whether one finds the propositions of evolutionary biology intuitive or counterintuitive is quite in the eye of the beholder. For example, my own general intuition is that once replicating organisms emerged on earth, a panoply of complexity and diversity generated by unguided variation and selection, including exquisitely complex adaptions at every level, was not only possible but inevitable. But I am not arguing for the correctness of that position on the basis of that intuition (my intuition is has no more worth than yours for that purpose); rather, I am reporting this because this empties your example of content, at least with respect to this particular “Darwinist,” and I would say for many others as well. I embrace a viewpoint that, from where I sit, is both intuitively satisfactory and almost certainly true on the basis of the evidence, and I would argue that most of those who embrace evolutionary biology as a progressing science feel as I do. Therefore an assertion that I and like-minded persons exemplify the embrace of and preference for the counter-intuitive out of other motivations is simply false.

    Of course, neither you nor I know how the first replicating organisms originated. In that domain as well, neither my intuition that this was also an unguided natural event nor yours that it was the result of a designing agent can be dispositive. However, I would argue that only the first is amenable to scientific investigation, given the constraints of methodological naturalism (insert World War III here).

    What I was hoping you would provide is an examplar of an argument within evolutionary biology that is defective specifically due to a failure (you claim a motivated failure) to observe the “rules of right reason”, as you submit above. I’m not aware of any posit with evolutionary biology that hinges upon necessary violations of causality, nor of the law of non-contradiction, nor of your postulate that both the universe or our minds are rational, etc. Yet you have submitted that greater problems arise within evolutionary theory due to such failures than to deficiencies of evidence. Even were your suggestion correct that Darwinists are motivated to embrace counter-intuitive theories and findings, it fails to provide a specific example of the impact of such a failure of “right reason” within evolutionary theory.

  137. Jerry @ 135:

    I said I was clear…But you should know this by now since you have been around this site for a few months.

    Thanks for your response.

  138. [Did the evolutionary process need a cause or not?”]

    —-Gaz: “Only to the extent that the “cause” was the random mutation of a gene – for example, a DNA point mutation such as an adenine molecule being replaced by a guaning molecule. That’s all that is needed to start the process.”

    What you describe as the DNA point mutation is part of what is ostensibly a naturalistic evolutionary process. What I had in mind was the explanation for what caused the process. That’s the point. Physical processes don’t occur without a cause.

    —-Here’s the bad news for you – DNA isn’t coded information in the sense that an entity was trying to convey a message to someone, or even to use it to build something. It’s an illusion that there is any “information” in that sense in DNA.

    From Wikipedia: “The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA or RNA sequences) is translated into proteins (amino acid sequences) by living cells. The code defines a mapping between tri-nucleotide sequences, called codons, and amino acids.”

    Also, let’s not lose track of my original claim. I am saying that Darwinists prefer the counterintuitive explanation that design is an “illusion” rather than the common sense position that it is real. By denying that coded information is real, and by failing to provide an evolutionary pathway to “information,” even if you don’t want to call it that, suggests that you “prefer” the counterintuitive explanation.

    Science is based on the proposition that ALL physical events have causes. Quantum mechanics shows that physical events can appear spontaneously and unpredictably; it does NOT show that they are uncaused.”

    —-“Oh okay, I see what you are saying (I think). But I still don’t think I agree with you. For example, take beta decay (involving an electron) -the decay is mediated as a weak interaction, which could be the cause, but what is it that actually triggers an individual neutron to decay at a particulat time?” “At the very least, quantum mechanics poses a very large question mark over causality at that level. If you disagree, perhaps you would tell me what it is that causes a neutron to undergo beta decay?”

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that you are right and assume that some of these events are causeless. What then? Why cannot many physical events be causeless? Let’s assume further that 30% of all physical events have a cause and 70% of all physical events do have a cause. How would we know which ones are caused and which ones are not? How could we be sure that any of them are caused? What would science do at that point? It would be an intellectual madhouse. Keep in mind that the rule that all physical events require a cause is not really a scientific rule. It is a philosophical rule about reason itself, just as the law of non-contradiction is a rule about reason. It is part of the metaphysical foundations for science, and science cannot do without them. Indeed, I have had Darwinists on this site actually try to argue that a thing CAN be and not be at the same time. Again, if the law of non contradiction can be violated even once, why can it not be violated again and again? Why not anytime we please? We can do science only because we agree with its philosophical underpinning, which assumes that we live in a rational universe that makes sense, and the rules of right reason are the elements that make it rational.

    —-“Even if causality is a problem at the quantum mechanical level – which it is – that doesn’t mean that ALL physical events are a problem causally.” “Hence science has managed to carry on despite the inability to know when a certain individual atom will decay. Science does this sort of thing all the time.”

    Insofar as a scientist argues that the decay has no cause, and because of their ignorance about metaphysics, some clearly do, then they are undermining their own discipline for reasons indicated above.

    —–“I think the atom example demonstrates that it is you that does not understand.”

    It is on thing to say that we don’t know the cause of the decay; it is quite another thing to say that there is no cause. This is the point where we exercise our humility. We say we don’t know the cause, but we don’t presume to say that the event is causeless. We are back to the distinction between something being unpredictable and spontaneous versus something being uncaused. It is not the same thing.

    —–No, it isn’t – not if the mind can arise form an ordered collection of matter, which is certainly a possibility.

    How did the collection of matter get ordered? How could hydrogen become consciousness? That is synonymous with the argument that something can come from nothing, which, again, violates the standards of right reason. How anyone could posit that and dismiss design is a marvel. The only explanation is the one on the table. Such a person would have to want to believe it, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

    —-You’ve switched the question – before you were talking about the universe having a purpose, now you change it to Darwinism. So now it’s a different discussion. If you want my answers, they are that Darwinism wasn’t designed and it doesn’t have a purpose (and actually, I have the same view about the universe itself).

    Granted they are different questions, but they are related questions. If the universe has no purpose then neither does biodiversity have a purpose.

    —–“But if I am wrong, that doesn’t mean a purposeful universe means abandoning a purposeless Darwinism – you need to think thinks through more.”

    If the universe has a purpose, then life has a purpose, which means that Darwinism, which says that life happened without a purpose, is wrong. I have thought it through many times.

    “What does it matter whether purpose was injected by man or someone else such as a creator? Whether by us or a creator, its been injected and one way or the other it’s artificial.

    If the designer created the universe for a purpose, then its purpose is obviously not artificial. Suppose, for example, that you were made for a purpose. That would mean that you have a destiny that you could either embrace or ignore, and it would matter a great deal whether or not you chose acknowledge that fact. On the other hand, if you were not made for a purpose, then it really wouldn’t matter what you do. Poor little creatures that we are, we could not change that reality by getting excited about baseball or science. We would be deluding ourselves by trying to inject meaning when meaning isn’t there. That would indeed be an example of an artificial purpose.

  139. That should read, [let's assume that 30% of all physical events do not have causes and that 70% of them do have causes.]

  140. Diffaxial:

    Thanks for the dialogue. Duty calls, so I cannot respond to your latest comments. Best wishes!!!

  141. Gaz:

    Thanks for your comments. I will give you the last word, because I am getting behind in my work. Have a good weekend—or whatever is left of it.

  142. 142

    Gaz (at 130 in response to my post at 111),

    I think it’s you that needs to catch up – with your reading comprehension, for a start.

    Yes, perhaps you are right, so let’s walk through your quote from Abel’s paper together. I am certain we will find the issue of my reading comprehension looming large. I hope you don’t mind if I call you Skippy while we are doing so (forgive me, it’s a remnant of a mentor that use to call me Skippy whenever I definitely knew the answer to a question that he knew I could hardly discern – just as you have here).

    Ok Skippy, lets first look at the paragraph that has you in a tizzy – and let’s do it piece by piece shall we?

    “Selection pressure works only on existing successful messages, and then only at the phenotypic level. Environmental selection does not choose which nucleotide to add next to a forming single-stranded RNA. Environmental selection is always after-the-fact. It could not have programmed primordial RNA genes. Neither could noise. Abel has termed this The GS Principle (Genetic Selection Principle) [137]. Differential molecular stability and happenstantial self- or mutual-replication are all that nature had to work with in a prebiotic environment. The environment had no goal or intent with which to “work.”

    “Selection pressure works only on existing successful messages, and then only at the phenotypic level.”

    There is nothing odd here. Selection works after function is functioning (and can then confer a selective advantage to be selected against the population).

    “Environmental selection does not choose which nucleotide to add next to a forming single-stranded RNA.”

    Again, nothing is out of line here. There is no chemical affinity in the linear direction of DNA or RNA -and- environmental selection happens only after a trait is instantiated at the nucleic level (but not before).

    “Environmental selection is always after-the-fact.”

    Yep.

    “It could not have programmed primordial RNA genes. Neither could noise.”

    Meaning: selection for function at the nucleic level is distinct from environmental selection. The environment did not cause the functional sequences of RNA (unless we rewrite everything that is known about natural selection). And, a mechanism that operates at the level of noise (maximum uncertainty) such as chance, could not have programmed (organized into function) the disparate cellular objects under the subsequent control of RNA. (It also could not have established the encoded language by which that control would be prescribed and translated). Check.

    “Abel has termed this The GS Principle (Genetic Selection Principle) [137].”

    Fine with me…after all, this is not a bout David Abel, or Newton, or Polanyi, or Thaxton, or Behe, or Denton, or Dembski, or Durston, or Meyer. This is about the physical evidence – so, any of them can call it whatever they want. It doesn’t matter. The only issue is whether the evidence can be shared between all observers so that anyone (who cares to know) can know by looking at the evidence itself.

    “Differential molecular stability and happenstantial self- or mutual-replication are all that nature had to work with in a prebiotic environment. The environment had no goal or intent with which to “work.””

    This is a comment of intuitive reality (right out of Abiogenesis/Evolution 101) – unless you’d like to ignore the observable facts and argue that the organization of living tissue was predestined by the chemical properties of uracil, thymine, adenine, cytosine, and guanine. If that is the case, then I’d like to know the chemical properties which suggest that thymine, followed by adenine, followed by guanine in a linear fashion should mean “stop and release” in the process of protein synthesis.

    - – - – - – - – -

    Seriously, I am wondering why you posted this paragraph at all. It is forever certain that you mis-understood what is being conveyed by the author. The entirety of this paragraph is communicating the rather simple idea that environmental selection is not responsible for the creation of functional sequencing in RNA because functional sequencing precedes environmental selection …you know, the functional sequencing that a) is required for living things to live, and b) cannot be explained by the physical properties of the matter involved.

    And to this you say I am most obviously wrong about this paper. After all, you say, “it assumes evolution occurred, as evidenced by this paragraph where random mutation and natural selection are invoked”

    Skippy – they are invoked as being completely incapable of being the source of what is observed in Life at the nucleic level. Did you just not understand that?

    - – - – - – - – -

    Given your apparent and substantial misunderstanding of the paper, I would like to be gracious (much like the grace afforded Michael Behe and Bill Dembski). I will only mention once that you also said “have you actually read the paper, because if you had you wouldn’t make that claim. It makes no mention of intelligent design at all.”

    In response to this rather spurious challenge, I would simply ask a reasonable yet straightforward question. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that when you challenge me (as to whether or not I’ve read the paper) that you yourself have read it prior to making such a challenge. As such, I want to ask: what exactly did you think the author was proposing when he wrote (in this peer-reviewed journal):

    The fundamental contention inherent in our three subsets of sequence complexity proposed in this paper is this: without volitional agency assigning meaning to each configurable-switch-position symbol, algorithmic function and language will not occur. The same would be true in assigning meaning to each combinatorial syntax segment (programming module or word). Source and destination on either end of the channel must agree to these assigned meanings in a shared operational context. Chance and necessity cannot establish such a cybernetic coding/decoding scheme [71].

    ?

  143. UprightBiped (142),

    Congratulations, you’ve shown you can read and comprehend, when you try. I’m not bothering to engage with you because you are clearly a rude person – you’re comments about catching up and giving a nickname that’s clearly intended to be derogatory demonstrate it, and I’ve no wish to follow you into it (and I’m sorry I started to). I’ve also no wish to engage with someone who tosses a reference into a debate, with no discussion.

    So I’ll leave you with this final comment – my comment at 110 was that there was no evidence for intelligent design, which was actually lamenting the lack of physical evidence (hence the comment about exobiology). You, on the other hand provided a reference to a theoretical paper which, whilst interesting, is theoretical and no more evidence for intelligent design (which it doesn’t even mention) in nature than Dawkins’ “Weasel programme” is evidence for natural selection in nature. You have not addressed my original point in 110, clearly have no intention of doing so politely, and I will therefore disengage and write my final comment to StephenB, who has at least been polite.

  144. UB:

    Prezactly!

    GEM of TKI

  145. StephenB (138 & 141),

    OK, truth be told I have better things to do too, so I’ll just briefly comment to sign off. I suspect we will end up agreeing to disagree (civily, though, I’m sure!). Thanks for your time, though.

    “What you describe as the DNA point mutation is part of what is ostensibly a naturalistic evolutionary process. What I had in mind was the explanation for what caused the process. That’s the point. Physical processes don’t occur without a cause.”

    I think the cause here is just the action of forces at molecular level, whuich is entirely natural.

    “From Wikipedia: “The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA or RNA sequences) is translated into proteins (amino acid sequences) by living cells. The code defines a mapping between tri-nucleotide sequences, called codons, and amino acids.”

    Agreed, but my point was that it isn’t information in the sense that an entity was trying to communicate with another, or the entity was doing coding to build anything. It;s an entirely natural process. In the same way, photons received at a telescope contain information about the emitting body, such as a star, but no-one thinks that the photon has been designed that way – it’s entirely natural.

    “Also, let’s not lose track of my original claim. I am saying that Darwinists prefer the counterintuitive explanation that design is an “illusion” rather than the common sense position that it is real. By denying that coded information is real, and by failing to provide an evolutionary pathway to “information,” even if you don’t want to call it that, suggests that you “prefer” the counterintuitive explanation.”

    Actually, my preference is that it was designed, for reasons given earlier. I just consider the evidence, such as it is, very thin indeed.

    “Science is based on the proposition that ALL physical events have causes. Quantum mechanics shows that physical events can appear spontaneously and unpredictably; it does NOT show that they are uncaused.”

    My point is that, actually, quantum mechanics does in fact produce problems of causality. Take two neighbouring atoms with unstable nuclei – one nucleus may decay at any moment whilst the other may never decay during the life of the universe. Yet both are in the same environment and experience the same forces, so why does one decay and the other not? This type of phenomenon is a major problem for those who say every effect has a cause.

    “Let’s say for the sake of argument that you are right and assume that some of these events are causeless. What then? Why cannot many physical events be causeless? Let’s assume further that 30% of all physical events have a cause and 70% of all physical events do have a cause. How would we know which ones are caused and which ones are not? How could we be sure that any of them are caused? What would science do at that point? It would be an intellectual madhouse.

    Actually, quantum mechanics does strike me as an intellectual madhouse! But seriously, I don’t think the proposition is a 30/70 split between causality and non-causality. Like much of physics, it depends on the physical regime – at the very small scale, causality seems problematical and science has to deal with it as it is (which may mean having to accept probabilistic outcomes as opposed to deterministic ones). Similarly, at a large and high energy scale, relativity comes into effect and the phenomenon there are equally hard to understand (although here, cause and effect aren’t a problem). It’s only in the middle range where humans are comfortable, where cause and effect are reliable and the effects themselves make sense. That may be because our brains and senses evolved to allow us to be comfortable in this range.

    “Keep in mind that the rule that all physical events require a cause is not really a scientific rule. It is a philosophical rule about reason itself, just as the law of non-contradiction is a rule about reason. It is part of the metaphysical foundations for science, and science cannot do without them.”

    I think it can. Indeed, where quantum mechanics is concerned, it probably does. My view of philosophy is, if philosophy says one thing and the evidnence another, then the philosophy is wrong and needs to change.

    “Indeed, I have had Darwinists on this site actually try to argue that a thing CAN be and not be at the same time. Again, if the law of non contradiction can be violated even once, why can it not be violated again and again? Why not anytime we please? We can do science only because we agree with its philosophical underpinning, which assumes that we live in a rational universe that makes sense, and the rules of right reason are the elements that make it rational.”

    I understand what you are saying, but I don’t agree with it. Science is based on what works. All the evidence suggest that we live in a reliable universe (I refrain from using “rational” because of phenomenon like quantum mechanics, whcih strikes me as irrational but we have to accept it) – phenomena we observe here occur in the same way in other parts of the universe and at other epochs (as observed by looking back in time through the universe). But if it didn’t that would just complicate the science – it wouldn’t necessarily stop it.

    “Insofar as a scientist argues that the decay has no cause, and because of their ignorance about metaphysics, some clearly do, then they are undermining their own discipline for reasons indicated above.”

    I disagree – it may mean looking again at the science, maybe even establishing a new branch of it, but it doesn’t mean science stops. Indeed, that is what has happened the last century saw the spawning of entirely new types of physics.

    “It is on thing to say that we don’t know the cause of the decay; it is quite another thing to say that there is no cause. This is the point where we exercise our humility. We say we don’t know the cause, but we don’t presume to say that the event is causeless. We are back to the distinction between something being unpredictable and spontaneous versus something being uncaused. It is not the same thing.”

    My example of neighbouring atoms suggests otherwise.

    “How did the collection of matter get ordered? How could hydrogen become consciousness? That is synonymous with the argument that something can come from nothing, which, again, violates the standards of right reason.”

    No, it isn’t – ordering happens in nature quite frequently (crystals and snowflakes being prime examples, geological strata too). It certainly isn’t “something from nothing” (which in any case I don’t agree with, as quantum mechanics also suggests something can spontaneoulsy arise, albeit briefly by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle).

    “Granted they are different questions, but they are related questions. If the universe has no purpose then neither does biodiversity have a purpose.”

    Not necessarily true – it depends what you mean by “purpose” and who sets it. As it happens, I believe both are purposeless.

    “If the universe has a purpose, then life has a purpose, which means that Darwinism, which says that life happened without a purpose, is wrong. I have thought it through many times.”

    It’s not necessarily true, I’m afraid. Here’s an example: suppose the universe DOES have a purpose, and that purpose is that it’s a giant machine, some sort of calculator or simulator. In this machine, the key components and subsystems are clusters, galaxies and stars. Planets are nothing more than the debris left over from the production of the smallest essential component (i.e. stars). In that case, life would just be an inconsequential natural phenomenon that infests some of the debris (and maybe just on our bit). in that case, the universe would have purpose but life wouldn’t, and purposeless Darwinism, as you put it, would be the mechanism whereby the purposeless life changed.

    “If the designer created the universe for a purpose, then its purpose is obviously not artificial.”

    I’m afraid it’s not obvious to me at all. It still seems artificial, in that it was made by something (i.e. the creator).

    “Suppose, for example, that you were made for a purpose. That would mean that you have a destiny that you could either embrace or ignore, and it would matter a great deal whether or not you chose acknowledge that fact.”

    Only as far as the creator was concerned. I would be, in its eyes, an errant creation. But that would be its problem.

    “On the other hand, if you were not made for a purpose, then it really wouldn’t matter what you do. Poor little creatures that we are, we could not change that reality by getting excited about baseball or science. We would be deluding ourselves by trying to inject meaning when meaning isn’t there. That would indeed be an example of an artificial purpose.”

    I still don’t see the difference – sorry.

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