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Intelligent Design in Business Practice

Steve Reuland is all breathless over a conference I’m putting together on intelligent design in business (see his post at PT here). The upshot of his post is that it’s somehow illegitimate to bring ideas from ID into business practice. But of course it’s okay for Darwinists to push not just Darwinism but evolutionary psychology in business (see Nigel Nicholson’s MANAGING THE HUMAN ANIMAL). And of course it’s okay for self-organizational theorists to push self-organizational theories in business (see Meyer and Davis’s IT’S ALIVE). I’ll be posting an official announcement here at UD about this conference in the next several weeks. Get used to it: ID is going every place that Darwinism has gotten its fetid little fingers.

Well, I suppose it’s time to come clean about Steve Reuland. Steve is actually a paid shill of the ID movement, designed to get the word out about ID in places like PT. Thanks Steve.

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10 Responses to Intelligent Design in Business Practice

  1. Prof Dembski:

    It is interesting to see the PT people go in over their heads on subjects they obviously know little about — some would say, as usual.

    E.g. Let’s excerpt:

    If you’re wondering what the heck ID could have to do with business practice, when it doesn’t even have anything to do with science, then you’re thinking what I’m thinking. All the pretense about ID being some dispassionate scientific theory – not exactly believable to begin with – is rather hard to maintain with them holding conferences that try to apply ID to things that have little or nothing to do with science.

    –> Intelligent design is of course about rationally warranted inference to agency vs inference to non-purposive causal factors [chance and/or natural regularities], in the relevant context by looking for key indicative empirical factors. There is no reason why this should not apply to any and all contexts in which agents may or do act, including business.

    –> E.g., this immediately puts us in the context of say the US DOI of 1776: when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design . . . (That is, the US Congress had the challenge of inferring strategic/policy intent from an apparent pattern of events, and inferred from that pattern a certain “design” on the part of Geo III and his ministers and parliament.)

    –> Such inferences relative to empirical data are very relevant not only to business [environment scanning and subsequent SWOT-based strategy alignment across PEST factors to build on strengths capitalise on opportunities, counter threats and compensate for weaknesses] but also to intelligence and warfare. (For in each of these strategic contexts,there is a premium on both surprise and on detection of the intent of potential or actual opponents in a competitive space.)

    –> In such a context, as I know form some of my own work, the design theory framework is very relevant, not only in raw detection of agency and the onward issue of agent identification, but also in terms of the theory of technological evolution, e.g. TRIZ and its extensions. Beyond, lies the issue of market emergence and development under the impress of innovations and in the face of barriers to adoption of innovations. Thence, e.g. the issues over emergence of novel energy technologies.

    –> Indeed, such is evident at even the common sense level, for we often have to make up our minds in the face of alternatives, as to whether something is an artifact of agency or just a natural occurrence.

    I guess the mocking, disrespectful and misleading ad hominems in the PT page can be dismissed as evincing the hostile design-intent of the PT relative to design thought!

    GEM of TKI

    PS BTW, if these PT advocates are adherents of evolutionary materialism, on what basis do they assert that their own writings are anything more than the surfacing of unconscious forces irrelevant to truth, validity and logic? [Cf here, O'Leary, Reppert on C S Lewis' dangerous idea, Plantinga etc.]

  2. This post merely confirms what I have been thinking for a while; that ID is not a biological alternative to Darwinism. As an aspect of mathematical information theory ID shows that when we look at biological information in its quantified form it shows distinct features that are ususally associated with intelligent agency. In doing so it makes it much less plausible to interpret biological information in a purely naturalistic way. Having said this, however, let me point out that in accomplishing the above ID only impugns the philosophical naturalism/materialism that makes Darwinism plausible, and does not offer answers to the same questions that Darwinism does. Namely, ID gives no answer to the question of similarities and differences found in species (either at the genetic or embryological or anatomical level), or the pattern of the fossil record, beyond the repetitive “Mind of the Designer” response. ID gains purchase in these areas by pointing out deficiencies in Darwinian explanations, but these are negative criticisms that merely show NDE is implausible; they are not positive answers to questions that interest biologists concerning natural history.

    Notice the explanation of this blog’s objective:”At the same time, intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution — an alternative that is finding increasing theoretical and empirical support. Hence, ID needs to be vigorously developed as a scientific, intellectual, and cultural project. ”

    The function of “materialistic” in the above quote refers to the philosophical foundations of the theories, not necessarily their empirical content. This is apparent from those in cosmology who recognize the Standard Big Bang model but either attribute its finer feature to chance or refuse to engage any broader implications of these features (which is fine qua scientists). I submit, therefore, that while ID is a valid science of information that makes interesting observations about biological information, it is not an alternative biological paradigm for the simple fact that it is not about biology but information. If it were strictly a biological theory then we would be confused at its application in areas like cosmology or astronomy, we are not so confused because as a commentary on probabilities of the functional elements of systems it makes sense applied in just these ways.

  3. I submit, therefore, that while ID is a valid science of information that makes interesting observations about biological information, it is not an alternative biological paradigm for the simple fact that it is not about biology but information.

    I think you are joking. Biology shows more and more information content as research goes on. Codon structures are true and efficient information structures that did implement Gyers before what humans have been using for 50 years only (and WITHOUT knowing that biology works in the same way).

  4. JT:

    ID APPLIES to biology, as both information theory and inferential statistics apply to biology.

    Indeed, it extends these into inter alia biology.

    In so doing, it raises serious questions on the explanatory adequacy of the NDT, and proposes an old/new paradigm for the investigation — reverse engineering the designs and innovations of nature. [And by extending to any field in which agent action is relevant, it opens the door to very broad applications indeed, thus the application to business above. Think about reverse engineering Market manipulation attempts for just one case in point!]

    It also opens the door to forward engineering by applying the discovered principles on a broad-based systematic way, i.e. TRIZ and similar approaches.

    GEM of TKI

  5. I think what JT75 is getting at is the core of ID itself doesn’t provide a complete paradigm change. That’s where ID-compatible hypotheses like front-loading, etc. come into play.

  6. JT75 has been invited back to the blog.

  7. Yes, exactly Patrick. The complete paradigm would include a compatible biological hypothesis, Dembski’s work, and Stephen C. Meyer’s work on the improbability of naturalistic origin of life scenarios.

  8. JT

    Welcome back.

    Patrick is right, the design inference methodology is a tool that allows us to credibly recognise the possibility of agent action [alongside chance and/or necessity] and it then gives us tools to arguably reliably empirically detect cases of such design.

    That is a very important, and paradigm-shifting project, but it is not by itself a complete theory of say biological or cosmological origins. For that matter, of business environment scanning or cryptanalysis.

    In short, the ID project on biological origins [and in other contexts], would in effect give us a key credible datum: agent action was involved.

    Thus, any theory that fails to address such agency is factually inadequate and fails. (IMHCO, the institutional and worldviews consequences of the increasingly evident failure of evolutionary materialism are what are driving the intensity of the hostility to what would otherwise be almost obvious.)

    And thereby hangs a long tale . . .

    GEM of TKI

  9. kairosfocus: I agree in all respects. Dembski makes the point in ID: Answering the Toughest Questions… That what scientists need is not to follow a rigorous naturalistic methodology into artificial dead ends, but to adopt an open-ended, more ‘pragmatic’ methodology that does not assume we already know what the nature of the universe is, including all its parts.

  10. Hi JT:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Your summary is apt: what scientists need is not to follow a rigorous naturalistic methodology into artificial dead ends, but to adopt an open-ended, more ‘pragmatic’ methodology that does not assume we already know what the nature of the universe is, including all its parts.

    In short, one should not beg metaphysical/worldviews level questions at the outset in doing science! (AKA, so-called methodological naturalism is a philosophical dead-end that largely subsists on the power-balances and politics of the academy. That is why, post Gonzalez, I refuse to be intimidated by such rhetoric as the usual false claim that ID supportive materials do not pass peer review. That is not entirely true, but in significant part, it simply reflects evolutionary materialist dominance and censorship . . .)

    (That we have to say such things at all, and in the teeth of hot and heavy opposition, is sadly and deeply telling about what has happened to the Academy after 150 years of being steeped in evolutionary materialism!)

    GEM of TKI

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