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ID Conference Suggestions?

The recent Engineering and Metaphysics conference (abstract and videos available here) came about because of what I saw as a glaring need in the ID community – a place for mid-level ID researchers to come together and openly talk about topics of interest. Most ID conferences, historically, have been by a fairly closed group of people, often by invitation only. Therefore, those who want to do research in ID are left without venues to present and discuss their ideas. This is not a good state of affairs for a budding research area.

Therefore, I decided to team up with some people and put on a conference of interest to ID people. Not specifically ID – there’s no reason to be exclusionary – but one that is focused on an area of research of interest to ID and which permits the inclusion of ID-oriented topics. This first conference was on engineering for a variety of reasons. First of all, it includes a number of people and disciplines who might not be normally contributing. Second, putting ID in a new context can help generate new ideas. Third, since it is engineering, this brought forward a number of application areas for ID. And I don’t want to give the impression that the non-ID presentations weren’t worthwhile – they certainly were, though the distinction between ID and non-ID is sometimes hard to make! However, since this is an ID blog, I’m concentrating on the way the conference relates to the ID community.

So, based on the success of this first conference, I’m planning on doing this some more. However, I would like input from the community. I have some ideas for future conferences (including future ones with the same topic), but I was curious if you all had topic ideas you all would like to see for future ID-inclusive research conferences. Let me know!

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13 Responses to ID Conference Suggestions?

  1. Why not just do an “Everything ID” or an “Open ID” themed conference and then allow abstracts to be submitted from any perspective instead of limiting the abstracts to topics? This may give a few unknown ID thinkers/workers a chance to share something that others may not have thought about or worked on.

    Just a thought.

  2. John -

    Not a bad idea, however, there are some problems with such an open conference. First of all, having a focus helps people think about new areas. In the Engineering and Metaphysics conference, for instance, here was a new idea that got a lot of people thinking in new ways. I would imagine many if not most of those papers would not have been submitted to a generic ID conference. It serves as inspiration. If you knew something about ID, but didn’t think you could contribute to it, and then, all of a sudden, you find an advertisement for an “ID and sociology” conference, you might say, “oh! I can contribute to that!”

    Second, having a topic brings together people who at least have some chance of understanding what everyone else is saying :) The academy has quite a wide throw these days, and if you get together a sociologist, a mathematician, a biologist, an engineering, and a philosopher, can they really have meaningful dialogue? Now, I love interdisciplinary talks, but, remember, these conferences don’t draw thousands of participants. So, without some focus, you may not be able to critically evaluate each others’ presentations.

    However, I think you are right – at some point we need to bring everyone together. But I think first we need to invigorate people with focused conferences. Then we’ll have a lot more to talk about when we have a general conference.

    Is there an area you are interested in?

  3. One other thing I should point out is that a specialized conference can also bring people *into* the dialogue which don’t really know about ID. They may like the topic itself, and then find their way into ID through the conference.

  4. Johnnyb

    I think the 2012 E & M was a great starting success. Congratulations on all your efforts and the results!

    I tend to believe that the topic you choose for the conference was quite inspired (myself being an engineer).

    One idea might be to increase the circle of interested participants by changing the conference topic a bit to:

    Engineering, Science and Metaphysics

    We know that even if a person is not a certified engineer or a certified scientist he/she may be a gifted hobby engineer or a gifted hobby scientist and many such persons may have interesting ideas to contribute to such a conference.

    I think that the current title is quite suggestive and can generate a lot of interest and contributions fueled by the following reasoning:

    I am an engineer and I am creating physical artifacts. My creation process starts with ideas, plans, abstractions that through a specific engineering practice, using specific tools of the trade results in concrete, physical artifacts. The nature presents us a plethora of natural artifacts that are revealing when carefully studied an impressive internal machinery and amazing hierarchies of internal systems working on top of other internal systems. Meditating upon our creative processes and the wonderful machineries of the natural world and their mysterious origins is a natural metaphysical impulse. Comparing our engineering artifacts with the natural world artifacts can also produce interesting perspectives and thoughts.

    To summarize in a diagram:

    For the engineer:

    engineering techniques and tools
    logical reasoning
    abstract ideas ———————————————————-> concrete engineering artifacts

    For the amateur or professional philosopher:

    engineering techniques and tools
    scientists techniques and tools
    logical reasoning

    natural artifacts ——————————————————–> metaphysical views and insights

    One idea might be to keep the conference title / topic but to add tracks.

    A “triangle” of three related tracks might be:

    1. Engineering Artifacts and Metaphysics

    2. Natural World Artifacts and Metaphysics

    3. Comparing Engineering Artifacts with Natural World Artifacts

    Just some two cents thoughts.

    My inclination: keep the title/topic. Make the E & M Conference a tradition attracting more contributors to participate.

  5. I would like to see a future conference take up the subject of the tree of life. There is no doubt that living organisms can be organized hierarchically even if it’s not the nested, common-descent tree of life predicted by the theory of evolution.

    Object-oriented software designers know that class hierarchies cannot be avoided. Any intelligent design process whereby more complex objects inherit the functions of previously designed objects necessarily results in a hierarchy. The purpose of inheritance is to reuse existing, tried and tested designs as the intelligent designer wants to avoid reinventing the wheel as much as possible.

    Given our understanding of human-designed class hierarchies, it is possible to make precise predictions about the tree of life. For example, since intelligent designers make frequent use of multiple inheritance (horizontal gene transfers in biology), we can predict that the tree of life is not necessarily nested.

    It’s funny watching evolutionists attempt to explain horizontal gene transfers with nonsense like convergent evolution. Now that the genomes of many species are being compiled and given the deployment of powerful analysis tools, it should now be possible to test this prediction of ID.

  6. I hope you will also consider moving the venue around to give more people access. ID could also benefit from the YEC model of sending out speakers. I know they do some of this already, but I would like to see more, more publicity, and more audio/video archives.

  7. InVivoVeritas -

    Excellent ideas!

    bevets -

    I’m in favor of sending out speakers, but the problem is that there are way too few people who are actively doing research in the area even to have a large set of speakers to choose from. If anyone needs a speaker, let me know, and I can probably find you one (or go myself), but I’m not seeing that this is the present need. However, it might be worthwhile to talk with some Rotary / Kiwanis club people to see if this is a topic their membership might find worthwhile. Out of curiosity, do you know of any other organizations that have regular speakers which might be interested in ID people?

  8. Since the little bit of training that I have is in philosophy, I’d be interested in discussions of the relationship of ID and philosophy.

  9. johnnyb:

    I would strongly suggest an ID conference with a focus on developing rigorous, testable ID hypotheses for the engineering of biological systems. The core of the conference should be heavily steeped in biology and engineering.

  10. Genomicus -

    This is a great thought!

    One minor note – I think that testability is over-ranked in the philosophy of science. There are three key factors that I think are important – correspondence with reality, compressibility, and learnability. That is, an idea should have a basic correspondence with at least a well-defined portion of reality, it should have a lot of explanatory power relative to its size, and it should be understandable enough for other people to learn from it.

    Testability is just an operational understanding of correspondence to reality, but it is not always the most important one. In fact, the modern philosophy of science uses research programs as the test for correspondence to reality. In other words, if the knowledge is usable to build other knowledge on top of, then it likely corresponds to reality.

    In any case, that’s just kind of a side-note. Two excellent papers that deal with engineering approaches to biology are de Roos’ “design by contract” papers in PCID and other journals and Gollmer’s “design patterns” paper in the last ICC. I would love to do a conference that focused on ideas like that.

  11. Erich holloway chimes in on the subject.

  12. Hi johnnyb:

    I think my proposal parallels one of Eric Holloway’s:
    Experiments, proposals for practical experiments to falsify/verify ID. Emphasis will be on experiments that either already have results, or show great promise of generating results within 1 year.

    I think if we ID proponents can propose truly testable intelligent design hypotheses, we will be able to demonstrate to the opponents of ID that we really are interested in doing science: propose a hypothesis, then go out and test it.

    Thanks for those papers by the way. The work of de Roos seems quite interesting.

  13. johnnyb,

    I found Eric Holloway’s suggestions, as well as his blog entries quite interesting. I plan to spend some time doing some reading there.

    I looked at de Roos paper and his application of the design by contract idea. I think it does not “mix and match” with the content. It is as if you try to apply software design techniques to the art of telling a story. In order to make sense the context of application need some concrete specific expression of interfaces for which a contract applies.

    This does not mean that a design by contract approach cannot be used for a serious ID paper.

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