Home » Intelligent Design » Evolutionary Informatics Media Coverage: Baylor, Robert Marks, and the EvoInfo Lab

Evolutionary Informatics Media Coverage: Baylor, Robert Marks, and the EvoInfo Lab

Media attention continues to focus on the Baylor administration’s censoring of Prof. Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab (now on a third-party server at www.EvoInfo.org). With the coming to campus of a crew from Ben Stein for his forthcoming movie/documentary EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED, things have ramped up further.

Baylor President John Lilley continues to dig in his heels, refusing to let the Evolutionary Informatics Lab back on campus. Baylor is simply playing a waiting game until the present wave of media interest dies down, after which the removal of Prof. Marks’s website from the Baylor server can quietly be forgotten.

In a better world, the Baylor administration would apologize to Prof. Marks and restore his site with no more restrictions than any other researcher at Baylor faces.

Baylor President John Lilley Prof. Robert J. Marks II

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64 Responses to Evolutionary Informatics Media Coverage: Baylor, Robert Marks, and the EvoInfo Lab

  1. Looks like Expelled will have some great footage for a sequel.

    I’m recall this particular Quote;

    “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form.”
    –Albert Einstein

    Now I also know why Kepler did not publish his work until he was on his de^ath bed.

    It is very strange that it is only the ones who are honestly pursuing truth that are persecuted whether they be aligned with the church of their day are whether they be aligned with the science of their day.
    It seems that down through the ages ,the ones behind these institutions (Big Science and Big Church) could care less about what is actual truth and only care for the power and influence over people they are able to keep and generate.
    But once again ID is on the side of truth and as all history students know truth will always prevail in the end, with the oppressors of truth bearing their shame to the future.

  2. Why do the parents and alumni of Baylor tolerate this?

    Aren’t these the same people that boycotted Disneyland?

    They should boycott Baylor.

  3. [...] UPDATE: Bill Dembski provides relevant links on this continuing story [...]

  4. EXPELLED still has room for this material — no need to go to a sequel. You may be surprised what Ben Stein will do with this.

  5. The amazing thing is that anyone with even the most trivial contemporary scientific education still buys the blind-watchmaker thesis. It is completely bankrupt at every logical and evidential level. The suppression of dissent through draconian and unethical means — not to mention hysteria, fear-mongering, invocations of the threat of impending theocracy, and other irrational pathologies — betrays insecurity, not confidence that scientific evidence will prevail in defense of the blind-watchmaker.

  6. The first paragraph of the Baptist Press story says:

    WACO, Texas (BP)–Baylor University officials ordered the shutdown of a personal website of one of a handful of the school’s distinguished professors because of anonymous concerns that the site, hosted on the university’s server, supported Intelligent Design.

    Then it quotes our esteemed host:

    “This is a big story, perhaps the biggest story yet of academic suppression relating to ID,” William Dembski, a research professor in philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press.

    “Robert Marks is a world-class expert in the field of evolutionary computing, and yet the Baylor administration, without any consideration of the actual content of Marks’ work at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, decided to shut it down simply because there were anonymous complaints linking the lab to Intelligent Design,” Dembski said.

    I’m reminded of a quote by the 18th century British theologian, Bishop Joseph Butler:

    The majority of mankind think that they think; they acquiesce, and suppose that they argue; they flatter themselves that they are holding their own, when they have actually grown up to manhood, with scarcely a conviction that they can call their own. So it always was, and so it will ever be. The Divine things of the Word are no exception, but rather an instance. The more difficult the subject, and the more serious the consequences of error, the more averse the majority are to what is called “unsettling men’s minds” as if truth could be held on any other tenure than the knight’s fee of holding its own against all comers. Protestantism has brought us no relief against this torpid state of mind, for, as the error is as deep as the nature of man, we cannot expect any deiverance from it so long as the nature of man continues the same, and his natural love of truth is almost as depraved as his natural love of holiness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Butler

  7. Keep the discusion on topic. I’m going to start removing comments that are irrelevant to this thread.

  8. I have spoken to some academics out there and some of their reactions are similar… which is to say,

    Dr. Marks is a respected EE professor, not a biologist, therefore, he is in the unfortunate position of wanting to be a crank on a subject that he is not educated in or paid to perform or paid to teach.

    So, if he wants to research this subject,let him do it on his own time and not with the imprimatur of the college that did not hire him based upon his expertise or views upon the subject.

    You will hear this reaction from the anti-Id class when you bring this news up.

    SeekAndFind: It’s evident that the people you are citing haven’t read any of the papers produced by the EIL. If they had, they would realize that the research fall squarely within the field of evolutionary computing, WHICH IS PROF. MARKS’S AREA OF EXPERTISE. –WmAD

  9. I believe that the EIL’s description of evolutionary informatics, taken at face value, generalizes and legitimizes some of Bill Dembski’s ideas. I found the ostensive mission of the lab quite interesting, and I thought it was only fair to wait and see if it turned out to be the actual mission.

    But I must say that I was sure, from the content of the web site, that Bob Marks had gone through channels to officially establish the laboratory. It would be a serious error at most universities around the country to advertise something like the Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory without first gaining approval. I was very surprised when I learned that the EIL had not been recognized by Baylor University.

    When I first saw that Bill Dembski was an “external affiliate” of the lab, I immediately recognized that as problematic. Something Bill does not mention in his complaints is that when you enter the tenure track at a school, you more or less agree that you will be persona non grata if you are denied tenure. You can give the school legal grief if your tenure review is demonstrably unfair, but the school can do pretty much what it wants after you fail to gain tenure. The present Baylor administration clearly does not want the school to be associated with Bill Dembski, now that he is out of the tenure track. It appears to me that Bob Marks tried to open a back door to Bill at Baylor. (Postdoctoral positions are virtually always held by individuals who have never been in the tenure track. I have never before heard of someone getting a postdoc at an institution after being denied tenure there. It’s a bizarre arrangement.) If Bob Marks had really wanted his lab to fly, rather than to provide partial support to Bill Dembski, he’d have taken a different tack. He’s a very smart guy.

    Something important that is missing from the press coverage is comments from Bob Marks and high-level administrators at Baylor. Having read everything Bill has supplied here, I still feel that I don’t know the true story.

  10. Semiotic 007: Watch your step. Your intelligence on this is bad. I was never tenure track — I had a 6-year contract, period. Marks’s actions with EIL are consistent with other research initiatives of his. Nothing is being hidden, and if your concerns had merit, the Baylor administration would by now have jumped on them.

  11. Dr. D. re post 8.

    I took it as SeekandFind describing the views of academics with whom he had discussed the issue, not an expression of his own.

    Maybe you should give him a chance to clarify.

  12. Dr. Dembski,

    Please, I am not saying this is MY VIEW, I am simply echoing the views of other academics I have spoken to, I am simply sharing it with the people on this board.

    I am writing this for clarification.

  13. Welcome back SeekAndFind. As I indicated in my insertion to your comment, the work of the lab is squarely within Robert Marks’s area of expertise. Go on the IEEE website and you’ll find that evolutionary computing is an established subdiscipline of engineering. Marks is world-class in this area.

  14. Thanks Dr. Dembski,

    Now here’s my personal opinion on why this is happening… and I could be wrong but I have seen this occur time and again in other schools that I believe TIME might prove me right.

    1) There are faculty members out there who are not happy with this kind of work because if the results turn out to somehow refute the Neo_darwinian worldview, it would affect years of research on which many have spent a lot of effort.

    2) There just might be organizations who are FUNDING research at other departments at the university who actually OBJECT to the work being done at the EIL. There could be an implied threat to withhold further funding of these work if the EIL were to be allowed to continue in its current form. Otherwise, why the sudden and abrupt change of heart ?

    No, I cannot prove it, but I won’t be surprise if news like these were to come out later.

    3) The best hope for an EIL-like research to be allowed on campus would be for BIG NAME and principled alumni to take a stand and withold further donations until the universities begin to understand that (as the script in the movie –NETWORK said ) donors are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”

  15. Right now, there is almost no publicity for this. People at Baylor know nothing about this- including other engineering professors. (atleast they said they didn’t)

    I am suprised the lariat doesn’t have an article about it.

  16. Bork,
    All of America may very well hear about it when “Expelled” comes out in February.

  17. Bill,

    Bad memory, not bad intelligence, was the problem. I wasn’t spinning, and I apologize for the error.

    I was once expelled from a Baptist institution for opposing discrimination against women. A combination of factors, including student protest, heavy media coverage, and, ultimately, faculty protest, got me readmitted. Ever since, I have strongly advocated freedom of expression — especially for people I don’t agree with.

    Thus I composed an email note to Bob Marks when the EIL page disappeared, and offered to serve as an unpaid external affiliate of the lab. My one condition was that he promise never to suppress any of my results. I am not a top-flight researcher, but I do have a solid reputation in what Bob defines as evolutionary informatics. I was willing to help make the lab more palatable for administrators, even if it was “really” about ID. What’s wrong with studying ID in the university — especially a Baptist university?

    Unfortunately, I reread the note, and the word “unpaid” set off an alarm. It hit me that you might be paid, and I wondered if what was at issue was truly academic freedom. Then I searched the Baylor site, and couldn’t find an announcement of the establishment of the EIL. That was neither here nor there, but it did increase my doubt. And that is when I decided I had best stay out of the matter.

    I am sorry if Baylor is genuinely infringing on academic freedom. I would readily do what I could to help if I were sure what’s going on.

  18. Semiotic 007: I wish you to reconsider your association with the lab. I had a postdoctoral grant, procured by Bob, back in 2006, which President Lilley nixed. I was paid about 1 mos. part time salary in November 2006 and then for 1 week of December.

    After the New Year, Bob put the wheels in motion for the lab, but my association with the lab has not been remunerated — I have no financial stake in the lab. You can confirm this with Bob.

  19. P.S. Bob and I are committed to doing good work and letting the results go where they will. Thus I cannot see him censoring any results you might come up with that undercut ID. In fact, that would very much interest us.

  20. I like that idea very much, if a “bi-partisan” group of top experts were to conduct the EIL research, then they would keep each other honest, and the results would have more integrity with the science community as a whole. It would also be science conducted in its purest form. That is the science would be laid ba^re of all philosophical biases and the evidence gathered would most likely speak loudly and clearly for itself!

  21. Bioinformatics is the new frontier. Understanding and harnessing bacterial genomes opens up an almost unimaginable world for engineering and manufacturing.

    Random mutation from a bioengineering perspective is as welcome as rust in structural engineering and random memory errors in computer engineering.

    It is my understanding that the EIL charter was to further the understanding of random mutation in biologic machinery. That’s important research. Random mutation must be understood and statistically predictable so that engineers can deal with it accordingly.

  22. This clearly states the fact that the cure for cancer will come from an inferred design presupposition and not from any evolutionary presuppositions.

    More people will break the presuppositional paradox of evolution and their actual scientific work. That should be the current count of how much ID work is actually being done.

  23. Prof Dembski:

    My sympathies on yet another round of controversy at Baylor.

    On observation of academic and administrtatyive in-fighting in institutions, I give this rule of thumb: If it does not make sense-sense, it makes follytricks sense [especially if money is involved, or power, or prestige]

    GEM of TKI

    PS I seem to be on permanent m-o-d-p-i-l-e but cannot understand why. Any clarification?

  24. I wonder how all of the history of this controversy will be written or (re-written) when ID finally manages to go mainstream? I’m pretty sure there will be no apologies or statements of regret about how it all was handled. Seems more likely there will be new rationalizations invented about why Baylor behaved this way.

  25. Russ: No, if things continue as they are, Baylor will be remembered for bowing to pressure and lacking vision. Reputations are precious and easily lost.

  26. [...] Recent Comments William Dembski: Russ: No, if things continue as they are, Baylor will be remembered for bowing to pressure and… mullerpr: bornagain77, I could not agree with you more. As an Information Scientist it is very plausible to accept… Daniel King: Phinehas #197: DK: T”he issue, as I see it, is not whether both conclusions have the same wording,… russ: I wonder how all of the history of this controversy will be written or (re-written) when ID finally manages to… Patrick: #2 is difficult to define. How would the variation limits be determined? With infinite resources, how would… DaveScot: es58 how can it be 156 billion light years as stated above? Objects in the universe aren’t moving… bornagain77: Mullepr, Above actually understanding the quantum implementation of information into the material level… kairosfocus: Prof Dembski: My sympathies on yet another round of controversy at Baylor. On observation of academic… kairosfocus: Folks: Great stuff. The article joins my vault. For, here we see that WD is right on the issue of the… mullerpr: This clearly states the fact that the cure for cancer will come from an inferred design presupposition and… kairosfocus: Rude’s: It takes a mind to spot a mind — paraphrased. Great issue . . . though in the cases… kairosfocus: P & DK (and onlookers): By now it should be plain that EM thought has a major challenge, through… mullerpr: bornagain77 thank you for the poem. It does make beautiful our quantum reality. I agree with you that… DaveScot: Bioinformatics is the new frontier. Understanding and harnessing bacterial genomes opens up an almost… bornagain77: I like that idea very much, if a “bi-partisan” group of top experts were to conduct the EIL… [...]

  27. The good news is that the suppression of EIL has an element of mystery associated with it. Although Lilley seems to be behind it, he can still change direction without having seemed to do so. He can officially reverse policy and imply that he is overruling a middle management error. But the window of opportunity for such a stratey will soon close.

  28. In the end, attempts to suppress dissent and evidence will backfire, and in a huge way. Book burning and banning has never been an effective strategy, because copies always remain and are destined to be reproduced. And people tend to be interested in books that have been banned or burned.

    Shutting down Marks’ Baylor website was an incredibly stupid ploy, in the grand tradition of book burning. In the age of the Internet, no typesetting, printing, or tedious distribution of hardcopies is required.

    The clowns who did this might as well have tried to burn down the Internet. The ironic thing is that, in an attempt to suppress dissent, they have drawn much more attention to that which they hoped to eliminate.

    Apparently, one needs a Ph.D. to be this stupid.

    http://www.evolutionaryinformatics.org/

  29. It is profoundly un-American to ban dissenting voices because they are showing your philosophy as the Potemkin village that it is. Perhaps the good people of Texas will show the censors the door.

  30. “Book burning and banning has never been an effective strategy, because copies always remain and are destined to be reproduced. And people tend to be interested in books that have been banned or burned.”

    Agree. And what is ironic is that this is a clear example of (correct) naturale selection. In other words NDE supporters are won by their same argument :-)

  31. Wonder if Pres. Lilley will be taking any phone calls this morning? LOL, Seeing as how he avoided the meeting taking the site down in the first place, I don’t think he is the type to handle the growing controversy all that well. Maybe some good will come of it and he will finally come out of hiding and give ID a fair hearing, personally, from Dr. Marks, instead of listening to the lies of the spin-meisters and cheerleaders of the Neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.

  32. Don’t you love it when someone says, “I wasn’t spinning?” Seems to me a real semiotic 007 would be a little more clever.

    The tactic for institutional Darwinism is clear: impugn the integrity of the doubters. So it is with all totalitarian enthusiasms. As Solzenitzen showed, anyone who questions Marxism in an avowedly Marxist state must be insane. This is because totalitarianism cannot tolerate dissent, which detracts from its ideological purity.

    IDers resist the Darwinist empire, and therefore they must be insane—or “wicked,” as the grand inquisitor would have it. See how wicked they are! They think Things That Must Not Be Thought! They advocate academic freedom! They expect to be paid for doing research! For heaven’s sake, they talk about God!

    Such wickedness must be suppressed, and it seems a secret agent is just the man to do it. Infiltrate and blow up the facility. Isn’t that how all such heroic tales end?

  33. If I didn’t know that God is in charge I might despair.

  34. There seems to be a cognitive dissonance on the part of Baylor’s administrators ( and I am being kind here ).

    I note that after Prof. Marks meeting with the administrators ( which ended amicably by what I read ), the meeting in fact ended in PRAYER. That’s right *PRAYER*.

    Now here’s the question to ask — are they praying to God ? if so, then God, by definition is the creator of the universe. And if he is the creator, He necessarilly is the intelligent designer.

    Yet, here we are — an administration that prays to the designer while simulataneously preventing any research that tries to discover the designer’s handiwork.

    This is a case of cognitive dissonance. It would be more honest if we had a school that simply says — we don’t believe in intelligent design or any God who created the universe.

    Here, we have a school whose administrators profess to believe in the designer while at the same time frowning on any research trying to understand the designer’s creation.

  35. Perhaps Baylor shut down the lab because the research was too devastating to Darwinism. I noticed that the research papers had been submitted to peer review a while ago. When the reviewers discovered how threatening the findings are to the status quo they could have pressured Baylor to terminate the lab. They may be hoping that with the lab closure the research will end and they will not have to deal with Mark’s critciques. This may be just another manifestation of the difficulties, like the ones Behe is enduring, getting good ID science published.

  36. Peter: I think you are being a bit too conspiratorial. This is mainly about Baylor’s public perception and Baylor’s ability to attract funding — they see any too visible ID initiative as making them look bad. Given how ID is perceived in academic culture, they may be right. But it still doesn’t justify their gross violation of academic freedom.

  37. RE:

    Peter:
    —————–
    I noticed that the research papers had been submitted to peer review a while ago.
    —————–

    I might have missed this. Please enlighten me and others as to which paper(s) was/were submitted for peer review and in which journal.

    We’ also be interested in the results (if any) of the peer review ( e.g. comments from the reviewers ).

    Thanks much.

  38. Prof Dembski: I’ll admit I am wrong when I learn that his papers have been published. But I was expecting the shoe to drop in some fashion, and it has. Disproving evolution would upset a large, prestigious, academic enterprise. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark’s papers were discussed as high up as the NAS. Who else could pressure the president of Baylor to act against everything that Baylor stands for?

  39. My understanding is that this issue is not about ID research in Baylor but about research that *might* have positive results for arguments made by ID-proponents. To my knowledge evolutionary algorithms/programming is still considered a valid research subject even among Darwinists? The questions I would ask Baylor administration are as follows: Are evolutionary programs and algorithms still valid research subjects in academia? Surely the publications done will flourish or perish on their own merit no matter who has done them?

  40. Sent my email in!

    Everyone get in on the bandwagon!

  41. I sent my letters as well.

    This kind of invite to write to relevant people about an issue seems to me like a good thing to do shortly after expelled comes out as well. I have a feeling that lots of letters will be sent at that time.

    This is my first comment.

  42. Yes, it may be good to point out to regents that Baylor’s treatment of Prof. Marks will be featuring in EXPELLED (www.expelledthemovie.com).

  43. There is a mistake on the Regent list I think; it seems that Dr. Stone’s email address is attributed to Dr. Turner.

    Any progress on the missing addresses? I’ve sent an email to all the existing ones.

  44. Look at the new UD post titled “Baylor Board of Regents.”

  45. If removal from the Baylor website shows university disapproval, then being allowed to remain on the Baylor website implies university approval. Is this implication of university approval a message that Baylor wants to convey?

    Also, if Baylor thinks that the name “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” sounds hokey, what about the name “Station for Experimental Evolution”?

    In 1910, the Eugenics Record Office was founded in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, as a center for the study of human heredity and a repository for genetic data on human traits. It merged with the Station for Experimental Evolution in 1920 to become the Department of Genetics at the Carnegie Institution, and under the direction of Charles B. Davenport and later of Albert Blakeslee and Milislav Demerec, it became the most important center for eugenic research in the nation.

    – from http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/mole/e/ero.htm

    William Dembski said,

    As I indicated in my insertion to your comment, the work of the lab is squarely within Robert Marks’s area of expertise. Go on the IEEE website and you’ll find that evolutionary computing is an established subdiscipline of engineering.

    Yes — the IEEE Transactions series includes the following subjects:

    Evolutionary Computation

    Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

    – from http://www.ieee.org/web/public.....index.html

    Also, the headline of the home webpage of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society says, “mimicking nature for problem solving.” See http://ieee-cis.org/

    Baylor’s unscholarly and anti-intellectual action appears to be an attack on the legitimacy of these IEEE activities. Why hasn’t IEEE weighed in on this controversy?

  46. If removal from the Baylor website shows university disapproval, then being allowed to remain on the Baylor website implies university approval.

    Larry, that’s a very good point. Does the university really want to implicitly endorse every webpage a member of the faculty might put on its site?

    Apparently yes.

  47. [...] According to today’s Baylor Lariat (the student newspaper), the producer of the upcoming Ben Stein documentary on suppression of ID (www.expelledthemovie.com) is sending a crew to Baylor to interview President John Lilley and others regarding the removal of Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor (for the background on this story, go here). These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  48. [...] is not due out until February 2008, and for that matter it doesn’t even seem to be done filming yet, but it is sure causing a lot of stir. Starring Ben Stein, the movie is a documentary [...]

  49. I’m a little dismayed that there hasn’t been more national coverage of Baylor’s disgraceful behavior. Most of the citations above are from the Baylor student newspaper, Discovery Institute press releases, and the local Waco newspaper. This is really disheartening.

    I would think that someone like Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity would be interested in covering this. Has any effort been made to contact them?

  50. [...] has Started. The “Expelled” film crew visit to Baylor seems to have kicked off a second “media wave” about the Robert Marks-Evolutionary Informatics Lab issue. Besides the two stories mentioned in my [...]

  51. Good point Larry. I expect this will happen soon enough.

  52. You will probably get around to posting this anyway, but I thought I would mention that over at Evolution News & Views they mention a new Op-Ed in the Waco-Trib that is highly critical of Baylor on this issue.

  53. [...] I’m afraid in my recent efforts to throw light on the Baylor administration’s removal of Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor, I succumbed to the “low polemic” that my English colleague feared. I have no regrets about alerting my contacts in the press about Baylor’s suppression of academic freedom in the Marks affair. [...]

  54. [...] Tribune expressing astonishment at the sheer, manifest vulgarity of the attempt to suppress the Evolutionary Informatics Lab: As counsel for Baylor Distinguished Professor Robert J. Marks II, I was amazed and discouraged by [...]

  55. [...] in the upcoming Ben Stein documentary (www.expelledthemovie.com), go to my blog Uncommon Descent (http://www.uncommondescent.com.....he-evoluti…). Mind you, Robert Marks’s title is Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer [...]

  56. [...] [...]

  57. [...] recall, expelled Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor (for that story, go here). July 24, 2008 9:57AM President of Baylor University Fired John Lilley had angered alumni, [...]

  58. [...] server. When he refused, the Baylor administration did it for him. That sordid episode is recounted here, and was also featured in [...]

  59. [...] server. When he refused, the Baylor administration did it for him. That sordid episode is recounted here, and was also featured in [...]

  60. [...] Marks (that Baylor engineering prof whose dean took his Web site off the campus server because, as his journal articles later showed, [...]

  61. [...] Marks (that Baylor engineering prof whose dean took his Web site off the campus server because, as his journal articles later showed, [...]

  62. [...] from his space on the Baylor server. When he refused, the Baylor administration did it for him. That sordid episode is recounted here, and was also featured in [...]

  63. […] from his space on the Baylor server. When he refused, the Baylor administration did it for him. That sordid episode is recounted here, and was also featured in […]

  64. […] from his space on the Baylor server. When he refused, the Baylor administration did it for him. That sordid episode is recounted here, and was also featured in […]

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