Home » Intelligent Design » Nick Matzke – Book Burner?

Nick Matzke – Book Burner?

Nick Matzke famously got the publishing company Springer to suppress the publication of the papers of a conference held at Cornell.  See here. He did this without having seen, much less read, any of the papers.  Obviously, his motivation could not have been the content of the papers.  He was motivated by the mere fact that several of the conference participants were well-known ID proponents.

Let us do a little thought experiment.  Suppose that Nick had published his famous piece on Panda’s Thumb a few days later, and the head of Springer had called him up and said, “Hey, Nick, I’ve got some bad news and some good news.  The bad news is that it is too late to stop publication of the book.  The printer has done his work and the first printing of the book is finished.  The good news is that not a single copy has left the printer’s warehouse, and they are all in a pile that has been drenched in gasoline.  Nick, all you have to do is come over and toss a match on the pile of books and it will be as if they were never published in the first place.”

Nick follows UD and posts here from time to time, so I have two questions for him:

(1) Nick would you have tossed the match?

(2) If the answer to (1) is “no,” are you not a hypocrite?  After all, the ultimate outcome from tossing the match would be identical to what you actually did – i.e., no book out there for people to buy.

BKA:  Updated in response to Dr. Sewell’s comment @ 2.

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268 Responses to Nick Matzke – Book Burner?

  1. I don’t know how I missed that story back in Feb. Shame on him! Clearly when suppression of concepts that contradict the “official” line take place, we are no longer dealing with Science but dogma. So, Nick, tell us in detail, SCIENTIFIC detail how you know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe anywhere in Nature can not be actual design even in principle? No theology, no philosophy, no metaphysics. Just science. Go Nick…ball is in your court! (hint: I already know you have no scientific answer to my question, because there is none!) Its time for you and all your sycophantic Panda’s Thumbsters to fess up and admit you’re protecting your philosophical worldview. Banning a book from publication is ample proof of that. If it were otherwise, you’d be content to let the Science speak for itself.

  2. 2
    Granville Sewell

    Barry,
    Please don’t refer to the Cornell proceedings as an “ID-oriented” book. I was at the conference, and while a majority (but certainly not all) of the presenters were ID proponents, I don’t recall that ID was ever mentioned by any of the talks. Even if you consider that ID is not science, this was a scientific conference. Since my presentation was basically the same as my withdrawn Applied Mathematics Letters paper, this was the second time this paper had been peer-reviewed, accepted and close to publication when people who had no reason to be involved in the editorial process managed to get it censored. And of course he would burn the books, people like him have shown for 150 years that they would rather intimidate, ridicule or censor opponents, than debate them.

    BKA: Point taken and the OP has been updated accordingly.

  3. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
    Biological information–new perspectives : proceedings of a symposium held May 31, 2011 through June 3,
    2011 at Cornell University / Robert J. Marks II, Baylor University, USA, Michael J. Behe, Lehigh University,
    USA, William A. Dembski, Discovery Institute, USA, Bruce L. Gordon, Houston Baptist University,
    USA John C. Sanford Cornell University, USA.
    pages cm
    Includes bibliographical references and index.
    ISBN 978-9814508711 (hardcover : alk. paper)
    1. Genomics–Congresses. 2. Molecular genetics–Congresses. 3. Cell interaction–Congresses.
    4. Mutation (Biology)–Congresses. 5. Intelligent design (Teleology)–Congresses. I. Marks, Robert J.,
    II (Robert Jackson), 1950–
    QH426.B58 2013
    572.8’629–dc23

  4. He wouldn’t do it because his ex boss at the NCSE will give him flak for contributing to global warming. Well maybe she’d make an exception for these papers.

  5. 5
    Granville Sewell

    DiEB,

    The fact that the library of Congress catalog includes “Intelligent Design” as a classifer does not mean it had anything to do with ID. Someone at amazon.com got “Darwin’s Doubt” classified under “Christian Books and Bibles” at first (looks like someone got them to remove that now). In the list of titles, I only see one that mentions Design, and that one was included in the proceedings but was not actually presented at the conference. It was certainly not an ID conference.

  6. @Granville Sewell,

    I thought that the publisher generates the data in consultation with the Library of Congress. After all, this is the data you’ll find printed in your book!

  7. 7
    Granville Sewell

    DiEb,

    I don’t know who included the ID tag, I didn’t have anything to do with the Library of Congress tags for any of my books, perhaps the publisher (World Scientific) did write this. But it is an inaccurate tag, whoever added it. I guess any paper that criticizes Darwinism, without including an alternative materialistic theory of evolution, is automatically tagged as ID.

    And of course, even if it were an ID conference, this does not justify outsiders pressuring the publisher to drop it, as was done twice to my paper .

    By the way, if you read my contribution, you may also claim it is ID. In fact, it is an entirely scientific, logical, paper, there is no appeal to the supernatural, it does not even conclude that the second law has been violated by evolution (see the conclusions) it only criticizes the absurd but still widely used “compensation” argument.

  8. 8
    Granville Sewell

    Well, I messed up my link in comment 7, let me try the link again, here

  9. Mr. Arrington, let’s extend this hypothetical situation out a bit shall we. Nick if you back several centuries ago and had the chance to burn Principia before it was released to the public would you do it?

    Sir Isaac Newton’s book ‘Principia’ is considered by many the most important scientific work of all time that had the greatest impact on transforming Western culture. The book contains a General Scholium (General Interpretation) that reads in part,,,

    This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator, or Universal Ruler;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present:
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, his book “Principia”
    http://gravitee.tripod.com/genschol.htm

    Would you have suppressed Principia if you would have had the chance Nick?

    Supplemental notes:

    On the Fundamental Difference Between Darwin-Inspired and Intelligent Design-Inspired Lawsuits – September 2011
    Excerpt:
    *Darwin lobby litigation: In every Darwin-inspired case listed above, the Darwin lobby sought to shut down free speech, stopping people from talking about non-evolutionary views, and seeking to restrict freedom of intellectual inquiry.
    *ID movement litigation: Seeks to expand intellectual inquiry and free speech rights to talk about non-evolutionary views.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50451.html

    Intelligent Design Supporter Expelled from Civil Liberties Organization – podcast – January 2013
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_00-08_00

    Casey Luskin points out that the following anti-ID philosopher even goes so far as to publish a peer-reviewed paper saying that the bullying tactics of neo-Darwinists are justified since many ID proponents are Christian:

    Anti-ID Philosopher: “Ad hominem” Arguments “Justified” When Attacking Intelligent Design Proponents – Casey Luskin – June 4, 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....60381.html

    Moreover, contrary to what atheists dogmatically claim, it is impossible to do science without theistic presuppositions in the first place:

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    “Atheists may do science, but they cannot justify what they do. When they assume the world is rational, approachable, and understandable, they plagiarize Judeo-Christian presuppositions about the nature of reality and the moral need to seek the truth. As an exercise, try generating a philosophy of science from hydrogen coming out of the big bang. It cannot be done. It’s impossible even in principle, because philosophy and science presuppose concepts that are not composed of particles and forces. They refer to ideas that must be true, universal, necessary and certain.” Creation-Evolution Headlines
    http://creationsafaris.com/cre.....#20110227a

    At this year’s National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, University of Oxford professor John Lennox reiterated C.S. Lewis’s words: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver”:
    http://ow.ly/mux2H

  10. Barry,

    I can’t speak for Nick, though I suspect he (and many ID critics) would agree with my take on this.

    I didn’t and don’t object to the publication of the book, per se. I’m glad that it’s being published and I’ve downloaded the PDFs myself.

    What I objected to was the idea of its publication by Springer, a respected scientific publisher. That would have created the impression that the symposium was on a par with the serious scientific conferences whose proceedings are also published by Springer.

    For the same reason, I objected to statements like this:

    In the spring of 2011, a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University…

    The reader is being invited — begged, even — to infer that the event was sponsored by Cornell. In reality, Cornell’s only involvement was to rent the organizers a room in the School of Hotel Administration.

    Publication is fine. The problem is the dishonest attempt to pass the conference off as serious science sponsored by a prestigious university and published by a reputable scientific publisher.

  11. I also have two questions for Nick Matzke.

    Which of the following is more appropriate to pose to the person who authored this moral and intellectual train-wreck of a post:

    (1) “Do you think this post represents UD’s biggest shark-jump ever, or do you think UD can go even bigger?”

    (2) “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

  12. There’s a difference between censorship and non-endorsement.

    I’d never ban a book. Controversially, I don’t even delete things from my blog site. I’m all for putting things in the public domain where they can be critiqued by all.

    That doesn’t mean I think that things should have the imprimatur of rigorous peer-review if they haven’t had it, or of a prestigious university if all the authors did was rent a room in the hospitality suite.

    And btw, Granville, Meyer’s book was published under the HarperOne imprint, which is a religious imprint; on its website it says it publishes:

    The most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, and personal growth, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life while respecting all traditions.

    So I wouldn’t entirely blame Amazon for the mis-categorisation. They are trying to sell books, and the imprint strongly suggests that people seeking Christian books will be interested in buying it.

  13. semi OT: How Not To Defend Atheism – Crazy gay, jewish Atheist goes postal at street preacher – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43WJ4AlOI2Y

  14. 14
    Granville Sewell

    What I objected to was the idea of its publication by Springer, a respected scientific publisher. That would have created the impression that the symposium was on a par with the serious scientific conferences whose proceedings are also published by Springer.

    Keiths,

    The symposium WAS on a par with other conferences whose proceedings are published by Springer. You want to look through the resumes of the contributors (mine is here ) and tell me who was not on a par with attendees of other scientific conferences?

    The fact is, those who demanded Springer not publish the proceedings had no idea what was in the proceedings, they just saw Dembski, Marks, Stanford, Behe, et al, names and blacklisted them (see this report ). The talks were mostly (there are always some that are better than others) very high quality, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  15. Every time I read about someone burning books, I come back to Sean Connery’s great line in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Goose-stepping morons such as yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!”

    I was reading an article online today about the most common children’s books that are asked to be banned in libraries. I was deeply surprised not to see Judy Blume’s name on the list. I was also surprised to see Maurice Sendak’s name on the list.

    It takes great intellectual cowardice to ask for a book to be banned or burned.

  16. Keiths in #10

    What I objected to was the idea of its publication by Springer, a respected scientific publisher. That would have created the impression that the symposium was on a par with the serious scientific conferences whose proceedings are also published by Springer.

    Keiths, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let you get away with this kind of, for lack of better word, drivel! This conference was by any standard a serious scientific conference. If you think otherwise, then tell us what was unscientific about it and be sure to elucidate in detail what definition of science you are using to justify denying this conference was both serious and scientific!! For that matter tell us in detail which of the scholars who presented had credentials of any less worth or note than any other scholars at any other serious scientific conference.

    Your comment is utter nonsense! As Granville has already pointed out, the conference wasn’t even about ID, a little detail that Nick ‘I’m-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room’ Matzke completely overlooks in all his diatribes, fulminations and ranting about this conference. The sciencepresented at this conference was just as serious and just as scholarly as anything else published by Springer or any other science publisher.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but this kind of nonsense isn’t going to fly any more! If this is the best you and Matzke and those of your ilk can muster, then your little pet theory of evolution is in deeper weeds than anyone realizes! Try arguing the science for a change instead of appealing to disguised ad hominems, genetic fallacies and the like. Try putting together an actual argument with, you know, facts, logic and reason!

  17. I always wonder what atheists like Mr. Matzke have in mind when they do this kind of thing. Do they believe they’re doing it for the good of their fellow man? Upholding the sanctity of their field? When Keith writes:

    “What I objected to was the idea of its publication by Springer, a respected scientific publisher. That would have created the impression that the symposium was on a par with the serious scientific conferences whose proceedings are also published by Springer.”,

    Or when Mr. Matzke writes:
    “It looks like some creationist engineers found a way to slither some ID/creationism into a major academic publisher, Springer.”,

    I almost reflexively think: “you have 70, 80 maybe 90 years of life after which you will immediately be forgotten along with everything you did. Who gives a s*** if Springer publishes this thing? How does this affect mankind and why do you care about what happens to mankind after you’re gone anyway? How is this worth your getting upset over (in Keith’s case) or being a complete tool about it (as is often case with Mr. Matzke)?”

    I suppose the answer could be something along the pursuit of truth and all that other gobbledy gook that makes little sense from their POV (my opinion, of course). But at no point have I ever gotten the impression that this battle for the truth of darwin or science or whatever else is really about the good of their fellow man. Maybe someone could help me out with this.

  18. I (and I imagine there are others here like me) am a scientist who works primarily in a field that, fortunately, is not very politicized. As my work is often interdisciplinary, I also have some familiarity with the literature in a few other fields. Thus, I am familiar with how the “normal” scientific publication and peer-review process works when unencumbered by philosophical implications.

    I am always amazed how crucial the neo-Darwinists appear to view their claim that ID is not published in peer-reviewed literature, even perfectly willing to justify circumventing the normal peer-review process in ways unheard of in virtually any other (non-politicized) field, in order to attempt to prevent exceptions to this claim. In cases such as the “Biological Information – New Perspectives” proceedings, this apparently extends beyond even anything explicitly ID to anything critical of neo-Darwinism, at least if it is by someone potentially associated with ID.

    This claim, of course, is not really true. However, whether or not it is true shouldn’t really be of much concern to proponents of any theory that rests on solid ground. In my field, as in most if not all others, there are a few major conferences and journals where an accepted paper may be legitimately considered to have some degree of prestige and acceptance within the field, although of course there are often problems even with these. However, there are hundreds, presumably thousands, of conferences, symposia, and journals in my field, many run by fairly small groups of like-minded academics focused on a particular sub-field or a particular approach. There is of course a wide range of quality in the papers published in all these venues. It is not unusual for some of these to be viewed skeptically by many in the field. Even in the best of these, the peer-review process is often flawed in many ways; the scores of reviewers often vary widely from each other and are influenced by human factors, and the chance of acceptance of a paper often depends as much on the luck of which reviewers were chosen as on the quality of the paper. Many, of course, have very high acceptance rates. That is not to say that I do not support the peer-review process, or that I have a better alternative; it is, as they say, the worst process – except for all the others.

    The bottom line, though, is that no one familiar with the literature in the field would deny that there are many papers that have gone through the peer-review process that nevertheless are pretty much useless, flawed, or, in some cases, contain major errors. This is just among “reputable” academic journals and conferences published by Springer and the like; I am not even considering the shady for-profit conferences and those that have accepted computer-generated “papers” of random nonsense. Now, some may say that this situation, caused largely by the vast proliferation in the number of conferences and journals, is undesirable, and I might well agree, but the fact is this is the current reality. I suspect the case is not much different in the field of evolutionary biology.

    Thus, in my (non-politicized) field, we have several ways of dealing with the inevitable potential for error in the literature. First, if a paper is relevant to someone’s research, he/she will examine it critically him/herself. Useless or erroneous papers will not be cited and will eventually die out, while papers with good ideas will be cited and live on through further research based on them. Survival of the fittest, if you will. Secondly, if someone is enlisted as a reviewer or editor for a particular paper and finds it to be erroneous or of low-quality, he/she will of course give it a poor review and recommend rejection. Thirdly, in some cases, someone may publish a paper or letter to the editor attempting to correct an error. In very rare cases a published paper with egregious or fraudulent errors may be withdrawn. However, one thing that is not done, and would be considered completely out of line, is for someone to directly interfere with the editorial process of a conference or journal for which they are not a reviewer or editor in order to preemptively prevent the publication of a paper.

    Now, the neo-Darwinists will claim that they want to prevent publications critical of neo-Darwinism in order to preserve the integrity of the scientific literature against such “errors”. First, the notion that the peer-reviewed literature is a pure, flawless entity that needs to be protected from any potential error is clearly an exalted and inaccurate view of the scientific process. That, of course, is not to say that one should be apathetic to publishing content that is perceived to be erroneous, but, as described in my previous paragraph, there are well-established ways to do that in the normal scientific process, and none of them involve thuggery, intimidation, or interfering in editorial processes in which you have no role. Yes, just as our “innocent-until-proven-guilty” criminal justice system inevitably means some criminals will go unpunished, this civilized scientific publication process means some errors will inevitably appear in the literature, but that is certainly much preferable to a system ruled by vigilante justice and lynch mobs.

    Furthermore, in most cases, the claim of protection against specific “errors” is clearly vacuous. How could Matzke have been protecting against specific “errors” in the “Biological Information – New Perspectives” proceedings when he had not even seen the papers? The only thing he knew was the identity of the authors. The very idea of accepting or rejecting a paper based purely on the identity of the author is so repugnant to the normal scientific review process that it is the motivation for the double-blind system used by most reputable journals and conferences. Most (probably all) of the “Biological Information – New Perspectives” authors have had non-controversial articles published in the peer-reviewed literature on topics not specifically related to neo-Darwinism, so they clearly could have written articles worthy of publication by anyone’s standards; while he may have had his suspicions, Matzke had no way to know whether their papers in this particular conference would contain his perceived “errors.” In the case of Sewell’s AMR paper, the journal explicitly admitted that it was withdrawn “not because of any errors or technical problems” – even though I am sure they would have loved to have found an error they could cite in order to save face in their bizarre and virtually unprecedented disregard of their own publication policies.

    The “Biological Information – New Perspectives” conference was just like countless other relatively small conferences held by like-minded academics on specific topics. The credentials of the authors were indisputably comparable to those at many other conferences. Just like all those other conferences, the fact that it was held, and that the papers were published (even had it been by Springer), does not necessarily mean that it was free of errors, nor that it has wide acceptance in the broader community. But, they have just as much right as any other conference to conduct it free of outside interference from those who have no business being involved.

    Furthermore, the claim that holding the conference at Cornell was a deceptive attempt to lend credibility by associating it with a major university represents another gross misunderstanding, or, more likely, misrepresentation of academia. Of course the fact that it was at Cornell does not necessarily mean that the university officials read all the papers and officially endorsed it or that the majority of faculty support it. Universities host all kinds of academic conferences, religious activities, athletic events, etc., all the time, and people often mention such events with reference to where they occurred, without anyone ever thinking that implies that the university officially endorses the specific content (so long it is legal and abides by the university policies). Yet the neo-Darwinists are apparently afraid of even this morsel of meaningless “credibility” being lent to it. What’s next – will the authors be criticized for listing their academic positions because it would “deceptively” imply endorsement of their papers by their entire universities?

    In the normal scientific process, we prevent perceived errors in the literature to the extent possible according to standard procedures, and accept that some errors may creep in, with the belief that, when exposed to the community, good ideas will survive while bad ones will eventually die out. Whether true or not, when people such as Matzke engage in such thuggery that would not be tolerated in virtually any other (non-politicized) field, it certainly gives the appearance that they believe deep down that their scientific case is too weak to survive the normal scientific process, and thus can only be defended through ad hominem attacks, including denying any semblance of credibility to critics, and suppression of their arguments.

  19. 19

    Once again we see evolutionists silencing their critics because they can’t refute them.

    R.I.P science

  20. Granville,

    Look no further than your own paper, Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems, for evidence that the BI gathering was not a serious scientific conference.

    In the paper, you claim that the compensation argument is invalid and that spaceships, computers and the Internet are evidence that “at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.” That is so ridiculous, so unsupportable and so bizarre that it would get you laughed out of any reputable physics conference in the world.

    Yet the BI folks accepted your paper.

    It was obviously not a serious scientific conference.

  21. Ipadron:

    Agreed. The fact that the objections to the publication of this volume came *before any of the papers* were available, and therefore *before any of the objectors could have read any of the papers* proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the objection concerned *who was involved in the conference*, not *what was presented at the conference*. This is the attitude that is associated with the logical fallacy of *argumentum ad hominem*. The idea is of course that “anything published by *those* guys can’t possibly be scientific, so I object to the appearance of those papers in a book by a reputable scientific publisher.” Certain people simply decided in advance that the papers wouldn’t have any scientific merit; and deciding in advance is what is known as PREJUDICE. (Latin: “*pre*-judgement.”)

    In the Panda’s Thumb article linked above, Nick repeats his standard lie — and in Nick’s case, given his level of knowledge, it is not a mere misunderstanding but an actual lie, i.e., a willful misrepresentation — that ID is creationism, and implies that the conference overall was creationist in intent. His evidence? The fact that John Sanford is a YEC. So if one contributor to an ID conference is a creationist, all the others are, as well? Is that the kind of “logic” that earns one a Ph.D. in biology these days?

    In any case, I echo Granville Sewell’s remark: the conference was not in any direct way an ID conference, even though many ID proponents were there. It was about biological information.

    And it was a serious academic conference. Many of the papers were very dry and technical, and could be understood fully only by those with graduate training in genetics or computer/information science. The conference was, however, interdisciplinary in attitude, and the contents of papers ranged widely: defining information, computer simulations of evolutionary processes, holistic versus atomistic understandings of biological systems, non-gene-determined aspects of embryonic development, methods of intracellular communication, etc. I should add that not all of the papers presented ended up in the proceedings, and that some excellent papers are not represented — though I expect those papers will be published elsewhere, and in fact in one case I know this to be true.

    No religious positions were advanced in any of the papers, and in the opening remarks the conference participants (both presenters and audience members) were admonished not to bring religious matters into the discussions. And they didn’t. Without prior knowledge, you couldn’t possibly have discerned what anyone’s religious beliefs were, any more than you could at any other scientific conference.

    As for the unwarranted whining about mentioning the name of Cornell: the wording, “a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University…” does not imply that the conference was organized or sponsored by Cornell University. It is simply a fact that the conference took place on the Cornell campus, and the sentence as written is the most natural way in English of expressing that. There was a diverse group of scientists with a common interest in biological information, and they met at Cornell to exchange views on that subject. How else would you express that idea in a short, simple, English sentence?

  22. 22
    Granville Sewell

    Look no further than your own paper, Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems, for evidence that the BI gathering was not a serious scientific conference

    Keiths,

    Well, here is my paper. It certainly challenges the scientific consensus on this issue, but maybe some people might want to read it before ridiculing it. I have received positive (and negative) feeback from a lot of intelligent scientific minds on this. If this is really just garbage, why is it so important to you to stop it from being published, why not just let everyone see what garbage it is?

  23. Great post Barry! Nick would gladly toss the match. He did so already just by his actions. He had never read the book, which was peer reviewed and ready for publication by Springer, and put pressure on them to pull the book.

    The panda people were calling for a boycott of Springer just for publishing Biological Information–New Perspectives. They feel they have the right to intimidate publishers from putting out books they don’t agree with. If there are mistakes in a book, attack it after it comes out, not before you have even read it.

    There is much more to this than mere academic freedom. Nick wants to destroy the careers and incomes of those people who promote Intelligent Design. He’s putting people on notice that if you come out in support of ID, you will suffer the consequences. Look at how bad Granville Sewell was treated.

    We have seen this in history before and it never ends well. No matter what your beliefs are, you should speak out against this form of censorship, but I’m afraid most will not. They are either complicit in censorship, or they are a useful idiots.

  24. Keiths,

    You conveniently left out the first part of the sentence you quoted:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    So, do you argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable? If so, you have no disagreement with Sewell’s paper. If not, can I assume that you view Styer and Bunn’s compensation argument of expressing evolution in Joules per degree Kelvin per second as completely beyond reproach?

    Also, do you consider Applied Mathematics Letters as a serious journal? Similar arguments were made in that paper, and it was accepted by that journal’s peer-review process (before its later infamous withdrawal “not because of any errors or technical problems found by the reviewers or editors, but because the Editor-in-Chief subsequently concluded that the content was more philosophical than mathematical”).

  25. 25
    Granville Sewell

    However, one thing that is not done, and would be considered completely out of line, is for someone to directly interfere with the editorial process of a conference or journal for which they are not a reviewer or editor in order to preemptively prevent the publication of a paper.

    Excellent point CS3. Darwinists are the ONLY people who feel they have to resort to this tactic.

  26. CS3 says:

    You conveniently left out the first part of the sentence you quoted:

    CS3 is referring to the bolded part here:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    CS3 then asks:

    So, do you argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable? If so, you have no disagreement with Sewell’s paper.

    Umm, CS3, it’s the opposite. Granville doesn’t think that the influx of solar energy makes those things “not extremely improbable.” Thus, he actually does believe that the principle behind the second law has been violated here. Seriously.

    So of course I disagree with his paper.

    Notice that his rejection of the compensation argument implies that plants violate the second law by using sunlight to grow. Thus the cornstalks shooting up in my home state of Indiana are cosmic scofflaws, according to Granville’s view.

    If he’s right, then we’re surrounded by violations of the second law. Now do you begin to see why scientists find Granville’s position ridiculous?

  27. Granville,

    If this is really just garbage, why is it so important to you to stop it from being published, why not just let everyone see what garbage it is?

    Read my comment again:

    Publication is fine. The problem is the dishonest attempt to pass the conference off as serious science sponsored by a prestigious university and published by a reputable scientific publisher.

  28. 28

    Words are powerful.
    For good or evil they truly changed the world.
    There is a list, my list , your list, of good or evil single people who using words and them written down too have changed everything.
    Truth or error is overthrown by words.
    Who in history did not censor if they had the power??

    The great conclusion in america, later the rest of English civilization, was that to ENSURE the truth and so important truth then freedom to speak/write must be allowed and demanded by a free people who desire truth.

    Even if powerful words hurt all of us as we score it.
    Darwin hurt truth. Creationists hurt Darwin.
    The winner welcomes freedom of write . The loser doesn’t.
    The loser smells a lose by the power of the writer.
    Whether that writer is finally right/good is beside the point.
    Origin censorship in spirit and fact is too be expected and more to come.

    I ask fellow creationists WOULD you rather find elements of the opposition at perfect peace with our writings??
    So confident we can’t advance the intellectual revolution!
    A sincere dismissal of our words effectiveness.

    I welcome their fear and actions as prroof they really think there’s a serious threat.
    Its encouraging for your opposites to feel you are a unique threat in these days.
    They are right.

  29. keiths, since you are such a defender of scientific integrity, I was wondering if you could help me with the little problem of finding the exact mathematical demarcation criteria for Darwinism so that it may be potentially falsified and thus considered a ‘reputable’ science instead of a pseudoscience?

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific”
    – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture

    Oxford University Seeks Mathemagician — May 5th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Grand theories in physics are usually expressed in mathematics. Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity are essentially equations. Words are needed only to interpret the terms. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has obstinately remained in words since 1859. …
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....emagician/

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    (Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003)

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-details/

    Whereas nobody can seem to come up with a rigid demarcation criteria for Darwinism, ID does not suffer from such a lack of mathematical rigor:

    Evolutionary Informatics Lab – Main Publications
    http://evoinfo.org/publications/

    Moreover, the empirical falsification criteria of ID is much easier to understand than the math is, and is as such:

    Orr maintains that the theory of intelligent design is not falsifiable. He’s wrong. To falsify design theory a scientist need only experimentally demonstrate that a bacterial flagellum, or any other comparably complex system, could arise by natural selection. If that happened I would conclude that neither flagella nor any system of similar or lesser complexity had to have been designed. In short, biochemical design would be neatly disproved.- Dr Behe in 1997

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    Well, do you have evidence of one molecular machine arising by Darwinian processes keiths?,,, keiths, since it is pretty clear that you really have no clue as to what good reputable science actually is, I’ll help you out a little bit and show you what your very disreputable threshold is for believing Darwinism is a scientific fact on par with Gravity:

    How Darwinists React to Improbability Arguments – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9IgLueodZA
    also known as,,
    Darwinism Not Proved Impossible Therefore Its True – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10285716/

    Darwinism Not Proved Impossible Therefore Its True – Plantinga – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10285716/

  30. 30
    Granville Sewell

    CS3 is referring to the bolded part here:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    CS3 then asks:

    So, do you argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable? If so, you have no disagreement with Sewell’s paper.

    Umm, CS3, it’s the opposite. Granville doesn’t think that the influx of solar energy makes those things “not extremely improbable.” Thus, he actually does believe that the principle behind the second law has been violated here. Seriously.

    So of course I disagree with his paper.

    Notice that his rejection of the compensation argument implies that plants violate the second law by using sunlight to grow. Thus the cornstalks shooting up in my home state of Indiana are cosmic scofflaws, according to Granville’s view.

    If he’s right, then we’re surrounded by violations of the second law. Now do you begin to see why scientists find Granville’s position ridiculous?

    Keiths,

    My statement was that if you believe (as you apparently do) that the influx of solar energy makes it NOT extremely improbable that computers and the Internet would arise on a barren planet, then you do NOT have to conclude that the basic principle behind the second law has been violated here. So why would you have a problem with that statement? What you cannot say is what nearly everyone does say, “sure it is astronomically improbable, but there is no conflict with the second law because thermal entropy increases outside the Earth compensate these extremely improbable events.”

    And where did you read that I think sunlight causing a seed to grow into a plant violates the second law? I don’t believe that is extremely improbable, because the seed already contains all the information to produce a corn plant in its cells, so I conclude there is no violation of the second law.

    You seem to have a reading comprehension problem.

  31. Timaeus: I was there and can testify that what you say is true. But the people you are dealing with use respectability a a mere veneer. they avoid hard challenges by claiming that their opponents are not respectable. And guess what? Respectable people never offer such challenges. I think that the retirement of career Darwinists is something we will all have to wait through, to put a stop to intellectual thuggery and shell games of this type. – O’Leary

  32. Granville, I am curious:

    Do you think that snowflakes violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

    Does a snowflake have more or less entropy than a drop of water, in your view?

  33. Timaeus:

    There was a diverse group of scientists with a common interest in biological information, and they met at Cornell to exchange views on that subject. How else would you express that idea in a short, simple, English sentence?

    I’d call it the Ithaca Biological Information conference, myself, or even just the New Perspectives conference. I go to many conferences held in different venues each time, and the specific conference is usually referred to by the city name, no matter where it is hosted (sometimes a hotel, sometimes a campus), and occasionally by the theme. It would never be referred to by the institution where it was held, unless it was specifically sponsored by that institution. So you wouldn’t call a conference the Montreal Hilton XXXX conference, unless it was sponsored by the Hilton, any more than you would call a conference the Oxford University XXXX conference if it was merely held in a University venue in Oxford. You might call it the Oxford XXXX conference, but Oxford refers to a city as well as a University.

    Is “Cornell” also the name of a city?

    Not that this terribly bothers me, but I do think that calling it the “Cornell” conference is misleading unless it was actually sponsored by Cornell.

    Also, to repeat: objecting to a paper being published in a specific journal or by a specific publisher is NOT the same as objecting to it being published at all. I know nobody who wanted to see Granville’s paper “burned”. I’m extremely glad it is in the public domain. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people read it that if it had been published behind a firewall, without fuss.

    Exercising editorial judgement is NOT the same as censorship. Implying that Nick would approve of book-burning, as opposed to not-endorsing is to extrapolate way beyond anything Matzke has ever said.

    Censorship has never been a feature of scientific culture (although secrecy has been in the past, and still is in the commercial sector).

    The same can not be said of religion.

  34. Censorship has never been a feature of scientific culture.

    ROFL. What patent tripe.

    Censorship is the suppression of an idea one finds objectionable; Matzke finds the idea that the work of what he considers to be “creationists” be lent the imprimatur of scientific validity because of the publisher objectionable, and that is the idea that he – and you, apparently – seek to censor via thuggery. Thuggery, meaning without having even ready the work, apply political pressure to keep something from being published for no reason other than who is being published, and the ideas you associate those people with.

    It seems that Dr. Liddle aids and abets all sorts of thuggery in the name of “science”. If Newton were alive today, I wonder if she would offer up such an apologist screed if Newton’s paper was prevented similar venue publication by those familiar with his religious views?

  35. William: what part of “editorial judgement is not censorship” don’t you understand?

    Of course I don’t support “thuggery”. I do support rigorous peer-review.

    And if something fails rigorous peer-review, the last thing I want to is suppress it.

    Post it on the internet where we can all have a go.

  36. William: what part of “editorial judgement is not censorship” don’t you understand?

    Are you or Nick Matzke editors at Springer?

  37. Of course I don’t support “thuggery”.

    Apparently you do, by providing a safe haven venue for it, being an apologist for it, and providing smokescreen cover for it.

  38. keiths doesn’t know what science is.

  39. Hi Lizzie,

    I challenge you to produce a testable hypothesis for darwinian evolution so we can all have a go (at exposing your BS).

  40. Elizabeth:

    Most of your remarks don’t have anything to do with anything I said — I didn’t speak of book-burning or censorship — so I assume they are addressed to others here.

    I have no objection to “Ithaca Conference” — but that doesn’t solve the problem. Someone might think it implies that the conference was sponsored or encouraged by the town of Ithaca, and that, too, would be an error.

    The basic problem here is that people are making an unwarranted leap from “held at” to “is sponsored by.” I’ve seen square dance conventions on university campuses. And I’m sure that the members of those square dance associations, when they look back upon a successful convention, will quite often refer to that convention by the name of the university it was held at, rather than by the name of the town the university was located in. After all, they spent two or three days at the university — dancing in the gymnasium, sleeping in the residences, and eating in the cafeterias — not in the town. They will think about the beautiful lawns and trees and architecture of the campus. So they are going to remember fondly their “Harvard convention” not their “Cambridge convention.” It’s a natural expression, and there’s no attempt to mislead.

    The big problem you are avoiding, Elizabeth, is that Matzke led a campaign to persuade a publisher against publishing papers that he had not read, from a conference that he had not attended, and that he did this on the basis of knowing some (not even all!) of the people involved in the conference. His judgment that the papers would not have any scientific value was, in the literal sense of the word, “prejudiced.”

    Had Matzke *read* the papers, there *might* have been a case (I say, “might,” though I think that only in very rare circumstances, if any, would it be appropriate) for his writing to the publisher, and saying: “I have read these papers and I want you to be aware that they are inadequate and could embarrass your firm, so you might want to reconsider your decision to publish them.” But he hadn’t read them. Are you going to defend his intervention, even though you *know* it was based on prejudice, i.e., the prejudice that nothing any of these guys could produce would be any good? I thought you were a fairer person than that.

    From a professional point of view, as explained by a long-time scientist above, Matzke’s action constitutes unwarranted interference. Publishers have their own means of deciding whether or not to proceed with a publication, and if they chose to go ahead with the conference proceedings, Matzke should have respected that, and then, after the papers were published, he could have read them and evaluated them, and if they were poor, he could have written up his judgment in a review.

    But of course, Matzke learned these “interference tactics” from his mentor, Eugenie Scott, who practiced similar tactics, writing private notes to dissuade certain scientists from attending certain conferences, and launching private investigations into the religious affiliations of journal editors who dared to offend her by publishing ID-sympathetic articles, and then trying to see to it that those editors were duly punished for their effrontery. And of course, he has another model to hand in the AGW crowd, which as we know, from hacked e-mails, were contemplating ways of discrediting established peer-reviewed journals whose publication decisions they disagreed with.

    There is a disturbing tendency toward manipulation of publication outcomes among modern Ph.D.s with I find a betrayal of the Western spirit of inquiry. The older tradition was that an author wrote something, found a publisher, the publisher decided (by itself or after hearing from referees) to publish, and then the critical readership passed judgment. That was in my view the right way to do things. This behind-the-scenes politicization of the sciences, and of academics in general, whereby third parties, who are neither authors nor referees, get themselves involved and try to put pressure on publishers, is unhealthy.

    You say you aren’t in favor of censorship; fine, we agree. You say that people don’t have to endorse something they think is bad science; fine, we agree. But you are silent on this new practice — a culture-war practice — of behind-the-scenes pressure, by third parties, to get publishers to reverse their decisions on the publication of papers that have already been accepted. I think it’s a loathsome practice, and should be repudiated by scientists and scholars. What do you think?

  41. The conference was held at Cornell. If that fools anyone into thinking Cornell sponsored it, then they were already fools.

  42. Thanks, Timaeus. Yes my comment was addressed more to the OP than to you.

    And I agree that Springer should not have deleted the book without reading the content, or the prospectus.

    I do think they should have been more cautious about committing themselves to publication, and, having read most of the papers now, I’m happy that it was not published by Springer. However, I’m also glad that it has found a publisher, and even happier to have been able to download it for free!

    I also agree about the culture war. I think it needs to stop.

    It’s one of the reasons I post here! And why I started my blog. We need to understand each others’ positions, not hurl kneejerk brickbats (to use a mixed metaphor that is not my own!)

  43. 43
    Granville Sewell

    Elizzabeth and Keiths,

    In my article, I claim that the basic principle underlying the second law is that natural forces do not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view. Whether we are talking about an isolated or open system matters only in that if the system is open, you have to take into account what is crossing the boundary (eg, solar energy). “Compensation” is just a silly attempt to avoid the issue of probability, as I show clearly in the paper.

    Now, let’s play “which of these is not like the others”:

    1. snowflakes form out of water.

    2. sunlight causes a seed, which contains all the information necessary to recreate a corn plant, and is designed so that all it needs is water and sunlight to do this, to grow into a corn plant.

    3. with the help of solar energy, and guided by 4 unintelligent fundamental forces of physics alone, the atoms on a barren planet rearrange themselves into computers and spaceships and the Internet.

    In my opinion, the answer is (3) is not like the others, and so (3) is the only one where I see evidence that the basic principle behind the second law has been violated. In all my writings on this topic, I acknowledge that I could be wrong, that perhaps (3) is not really extremely improbable, in which case none of the above violate the second law.

    Why is this so controversial?

    I was really just trying to defend the Cornell proceedings, didn’t want to get drawn into defending my article, but was forced to by some personal insults from KEITHS. I don’t plan to discuss my paper further on this post, though.

  44. I do think they should have been more cautious about committing themselves to publication, and, having read most of the papers now, I’m happy that it was not published by Springer.

    IOW, she’s glad Matzke’s thuggish tactics worked in censoring an idea she didn’t want promulgated – not the ideas presented in the papers themselves, but the idea that Springer found the papers worthy of assocating their name to the work. So, Springer gets intimidated by Matzke et. al., withdraws their commitment to publication, and Liz is happy about the outcome.

  45. Granville Sewell @ 43

    3. with the help of solar energy, and guided by 4 unintelligent fundamental forces of physics alone, the atoms on a barren planet rearrange themselves into computers and spaceships and the Internet.

    In my opinion, the answer is (3) is not like the others, and so (3) is the only one where I see evidence that the basic principle behind the second law has been violated.

    Sorry, I haven’t read the paper. Could you explain in simple terms what you see is the basic principle behind the 2nd law? Is it different in any way from the standard 2nd law we find in textbooks?

    Thanks.

  46. 46
    Barry Arrington

    keiths @ 10: If I understand your argument, you would burn the book if it were published by Springer but not if it were published by some less respected publisher. Well OK then.

    LarTanner @ 11: Calling me a poopyhead is certainly a response, but it is a response that conveys a message I suspect you did not intend to convey. You might as well have written: “I’ve got nothing.”

    Barb @ 15: She quotes Indy in “Last Crusade” “Goose-stepping morons such as yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!” To which I would add , “or reviewing them,” which highlights another of Nick’s sins. See http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eading-it/

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 33 and 35: “editorial judgement is not censorship.” Orwellian doublespeak at its finest. WAR IS PEACE! FREEDOM IS SLAVERY! IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH!

    Some years ago Jonah Goldberg wrote a book called “Liberal Fascism” in which he traced the fascist roots of the progressive agenda. Based on the responses I’ve seen here, it seems he could have added a chapter entitled “Darwinist Fascism.”

  47. Elizabeth:

    I’m happy we’ve found partial agreement.

    However, you have not answered the question whether Matzke was right to judge, in advance of reading the papers, that they would not be worthy of publication, especially given that he was not familiar with the writing of some of the authors, and to be so sure of that judgment as to try to get a publisher to reverse its decision.

    You say you are against the culture war. Matzke is one of the main instigators of it on this continent. I know that you largely agree with his scientific opinions, but that is not the issue here. I’m addressing his social behavior, his way of conducting himself. He is as pure a culture warrior as you will find on any side of these debates (atheism, TE, ID, YEC, OEC), and he adds fuel to the fire everywhere he goes. I have never seen you reprimand him for his behavior, or even mildly criticize him for it, or express any disapproval of it, here or anywhere else.

    So how, then, do you expect me to have full confidence that you are against culture-warring? I have the sense that you disapprove of it wholeheartedly when it comes from the ID or creationist side, but that you “look the other way” when it comes from your side. Or am I wrong? Have you ever dressed down anyone on your side for making illegitimate arguments or taking illegitimate action based on improper motivations? If so, please tell me where.

  48. Timaeus:

    I’m happy we’ve found partial agreement.

    And me :)

    However, you have not answered the question whether Matzke was right to judge, in advance of reading the papers, that they would not be worthy of publication, especially given that he was not familiar with the writing of some of the authors, and to be so sure of that judgment as to try to get a publisher to reverse its decision.

    I think he was perfectly right to alert Springer to a potential issue. If they withdrew it because Matzke threatened to sic his dog on them, then that’s thuggery. If they just said: Ok, that’s interesting, we’ll take a second look at the proposal then, did look at it and decide that Nick was right, and it wasn’t the kind of thing they’d originally thought it was and the basis on which they’d scheduled it, I think that’s just fine. And, for that matter, I’d also think it was just fine if, for example, and ID person were to do the same over the proceedings of some conference that they didn’t think was appropriate for the Springer imprint.

    My only concern, and this is the absolutely honest truth, is that papers that go out under the imprint that is associated with rigorous science should be rigorous science, and my only beef with ID is that the science is not rigorous. Not that the conclusion is in correct, or the subject matter invalid, but that the reasoning is invalid. When I review papers, there is usually a list of things to grade it in, and one is usually: “is the conclusion supported by the data?” With ID papers the answer is usually “no”. That is not universally true, but in my reading of the ID literature (which is not exhaustive, but is extensive), the more radical the inference, the less justified by evidence and argument I find it to be.

    tbh, the best book I have read on ID was Behe’s first – Darwin’s Black Box. I thought he made a cogent and moderately persuasive argument. I don’t think it has worn well, but I would have been more than happy to see it published under a scientific imprint.

    You say you are against the culture war. Matzke is one of the main instigators of it on this continent. I know that you largely agree with his scientific opinions, but that is not the issue here. I’m addressing his social behavior, his way of conducting himself. He is as pure a culture warrior as you will find on any side of these debates (atheism, TE, ID, YEC, OEC), and he adds fuel to the fire everywhere he goes. I have never seen you reprimand him for his behavior, or even mildly criticize him for it, or express any disapproval of it, here or anywhere else.

    tbh, I’d never actually seen Matzke’s alleged bad behaviour (though I’m not arguing that he hasn’t indulged in such, and I’ve certainly roundly criticized P.Z.Meyers, and even tackled Dawkins on one occasion). I agree he’s not very polite, but then the same is true of people on both sides of the culture war, but rude words don’t actually bother me, as may be apparent. So I’m not sure what the complaint is.

    But be aware that I am not an American, and this is very much an American war. Most of the issues (church-state separation) aren’t even issues in the UK. Our head of state is actually head of the Church of England, and religious teaching in schools, far from being illegal, is actually compulsory.

    So how, then, do you expect me to have full confidence that you are against culture-warring? I have the sense that you disapprove of it wholeheartedly when it comes from the ID or creationist side, but that you “look the other way” when it comes from your side. Or am I wrong? Have you ever dressed down anyone on your side for making illegitimate arguments or taking illegitimate action based on improper motivations? If so, please tell me where.

    I’ve certainly addressed illegitimate arguments. Not sure I can actually find an example, but, like Joe Felsenstein, I’ve always maintained that the concept of Specified Complexity is potentially a useful one. I even think there is a “marker” of “design” where “design” means “optimising a structure to perform a function” rather than “intentional inventing”. As a mod at Talk Rational, I used to regularly punt posts to The Compost Heap, and at my own blog, although I try to use a light touch, I do move posts that I consider address the poster rather than the post to a quarantined, though public, area. However, I explicitly point out that the move is not a moral judgment but a practical one, so that may not count. On the other hand it may, because my purpose is to defuse the skirmishes of the war, and drill down to the brass tacks of where we really disagree, rather than where we think we do (“You are trying to impose a theocracy by stealth!” “You are trying to impose amorality and the homosexual agenda on our traditions and principles!”) In other words, to get past the tribal stuff, and on to the substance.

    You could try inspecting Guano at TSZ. There are 634 contributions in there right now, and although the most prolific single contributor is JoeG, the majority of posts are by ID critics.

    I’ve also given a couple of contributors at After The Bar Closes a piece of my schoolmarm tongue (including a defense of kairosfocus if I recall correctly).

    I’m a fairly equal opportunities reprimander. I blame my Quaker education :)

    And I do on occasion subject myself to the same treatment and apologise, when I think I have contributed to a ramping up of hostilities. Possibly not often enough.

  49. Barry:

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 33 and 35: “editorial judgement is not censorship.” Orwellian doublespeak at its finest. WAR IS PEACE! FREEDOM IS SLAVERY! IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH!

    No, Barry. There is nothing Orwellian about this. Let me ask you:

    Is it censorship to insist that a student thesis must pass rigorous standards before the thesis is archived as satisfying the requirements of a PhD?

    Is it censorship to refuse such an endorsement if the thesis does not satisfy those requirements?

    If a PhD student fails her defense, and is not permitted to graduate, is she then prevented from making her thesis as public as she likes, minus that endorsement?

    The answer, I think you will agree, to all these questions, is no. Censorship is the word we use when people’s words are actively prohibited from being published – redacted from documents, cut from plays, removed from libraries, when publication is penalised by imprisonment or worse.

    To call such censorship merely “editorial judgement” would indeed be “Orwellian”. But to call the requirement that scientific papers meet a minimum standard of rigor before they are endorsed by a scientific imprint “censorship” is a kind of reverse Orwellianism – renaming something perfectly benign to associate it with something evil.

    If Nick Matzke or any “liberal” lays so much as a match to a children’s library book I shall be the first to protest.

    But equally, I will protest when papers that do not meet minimum standards of scientific rigor are published with the imprimatur of a scientific publishing house.

    Some years ago Jonah Goldberg wrote a book called “Liberal Fascism” in which he traced the fascist roots of the progressive agenda. Based on the responses I’ve seen here, it seems he could have added a chapter entitled “Darwinist Fascism.”

    Well, I’ll buy that argument when I see any evidence that non-”Darwinist” views are being deleted from the public realm. I’d even buy the argument if I saw evidence that papers that make a good argument for ID were being refused publication, for anything other than the grounds on which any other paper is rejected (and good papers are rejected all the time).

  50. So how, then, do you expect me to have full confidence that you are against culture-warring? I have the sense that you disapprove of it wholeheartedly when it comes from the ID or creationist side, but that you “look the other way” when it comes from your side. Or am I wrong? Have you ever dressed down anyone on your side for making illegitimate arguments or taking illegitimate action based on improper motivations? If so, please tell me where.

    I will vouch for Elizabeth. She has treated me with graciousness and respect.

    As far as her supposed silence and looking the other way, I can’t complain because I’m also silent about some of the behaviors of the ID side that I find disagreeable (probably because I’m a pretty big offender myself, I’m known as “Slimy Sal” for at least some good reasons).

    On the scale of model citizens in this debate I regard Elizabeth at the top as I do Allen MacNeill (who is also a Quaker).

    At issue is whether Matzke would like to shut down debate and make sure certain literature he finds disagreeable isn’t released by premiere publishing houses. I expect if we asked, him, he’d say “yes”. That’s the way to settle the issue.

    I would bet, if we asked, “Nick would you light the match?” He’d respond something to the effect, “a fire would contribute to global warming, so I wouldn’t. But Creationists literature shouldn’t be published by Springer.”

    The book burning illustration I think is to illustrate symbolically the obvious delight in Matzke would have in seeing certain ideas burned out of society.

    But, Nick, if the IDists and creationists were gone from the Earth, what would you have to live for? Your reason for living and crusading would be over.

  51. Elizabeth BS Liddle:

    My only concern, and this is the absolutely honest truth, is that papers that go out under the imprint that is associated with rigorous science should be rigorous science, and my only beef with ID is that the science is not rigorous.

    And yet there isn’t any darwinian science that is rigorous- well there isn’t any darwinian science.

    There are 634 contributions in there right now, and although the most prolific single contributor is JoeG, the majority of posts are by ID critics.

    JoeG was dealing with many buttwipes, including the blog’s owner. And buttwipes are full of guano.

  52. JoeG was dealing with many buttwipes, including the blog’s owner. And buttwipes are full of guano.

    QED

  53. Sal

    Keep up the good work. I’m impressed by your comment no. 50 and I never thought I would say that!

    UD: Alan, do you have some sort of pre-disposition against comments numbered “50”? Or is it “fifty” generally that you have a problem with. I have heard of tridecaphobia (fear of the number 13), but quinquagintaphobia (fear of the number 50) is new to us here at UD. :-)?

  54. seconded.

  55. JoeG: don’t ever change, sweetie :)

  56. @ Voice-in-the-ceiling

    I have a pathological aversion to voices-in-the-ceiling!!!

  57. Now,

    Suppose the tables were turned, and I was posed with the same question about burning a Darwinist book like say:

    Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America by Lenny Flank.

    I’d say, “let me keep a few copies to sell later, but lets get some fireworks and make a good show of it this 4th of July.” Then at least we’d have a good time watching it before the police came by to arrest me for illegal fireworks and lighting illegal fires (just kidding).

    But more seriously, why would I want books I disagree with to be given a fair hearing. Hence, as I said, let me keep a few copies to sell later. (Btw, making it the out-of-print book rare in this way elevates the value of copies I have in my possession, hehe.).

    Not only did Darwin argue for a fair hearing, but Discovery Institute Fellow, and Darwinist, John Angus Campbell gave me this gem of a quote by atheist John Stewart Mill, which Campbell is able to quote from memory:

    First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.[17]

    John Stewart Mill

    Matzke’s activities of shutting debate down is showing he feels deep down he doesn’t feel he’s been dealt a strong hand of cards, quite the opposite, imho.

    This whole suppression thing by Matzke, in the end it will be just a side show. The facts will prevail in the end. Though I don’t like it, I no longer worry about it. If the Intelligent Designer is for you, who will ultimately be against you.

    PS

    PZ Myers despises Lenny Flank. Myers would probably have the honors of lighting the match.

  58. Why 100 authors? If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!

    - Albert Einstein (commenting on a Nazi pamphlet entitled ’100 Authors against Einstein’

    If ID ha a core of correctness, it will emerge.

  59. has

  60. Where’s Zachriel when you need him

    Eppur si muove!

  61. Yes, indeed. And it does. And it is. I’ve been plugging it myself for a while :)

  62. Does Matzke think that the editorial board at Springer isn’t sufficient to review submissions and make a sound judgement on the papers? Does Liz think that Nick, not having even read the papers, has a sound reason to reach out to the editorial board and “warn” them about publishing work he hasn’t even read?

    What BS. This is nothing more than intimidation (thuggery) on Nick’s part, and deceptive smoke-blowing or useful idiocy on Liz’s part.

  63. Barry is attempting to evoke a knee-jerk response in his readers. His OP doesn’t make sense, even as a pure hypothetical.

    Read his “thought experiment” again:

    Let us do a little thought experiment. Suppose that Nick had published his famous piece on Panda’s Thumb a few days later, and the head of Springer had called him up and said, “Hey, Nick, I’ve got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that it is too late to stop publication of the book. The printer has done his work and the first printing of the book is finished. The good news is that not a single copy has left the printer’s warehouse, and they are all in a pile that has been drenched in gasoline. Nick, all you have to do is come over and toss a match on the pile of books and it will be as if they were never published in the first place.”

    It’s a silly thought experiment and an equivocation on the word “publication”.

    To publish something is to make it available to the public (note the similarity in those two words). If it really were “too late to stop publication” by Springer, as the OP says, then Nick’s response would presumably be “Why on earth did you idiots soak all the printed copies in gasoline if you’ve decided to go ahead with publication anyway?”

    Having been soaked in gasoline by some idiot for no reason, those copies aren’t going out to the public. They’ve already been destroyed. What happens to them afterward is completely irrelevant to the issue of censorship.

    Nick opposed publication by Springer or any reputable scientific publisher. Equating that with book burning is ridiculous.

    As I said to Granville:

    Publication is fine. The problem is the dishonest attempt to pass the conference off as serious science sponsored by a prestigious university and published by a reputable scientific publisher.

  64. William,

    You are confusing truth and strategy. God ideas transcend the strategies to contain them.

  65. I like that typo.

    But all good ideas transcend the strategies to contain them.

  66. “Arbeit macht frei”? Really? Well, I expect KairosFocus to write an opinion piece, strongly condemning such spurious allegations of nazism! Or is his anger much more selectively attributed?

  67. Alan Fox:

    @ Voice-in-the-ceiling

    I have a pathological aversion to voices-in-the-ceiling!!!

    It isn’t pathological.

  68. William:

    Does Liz think that Nick, not having even read the papers, has a sound reason to reach out to the editorial board and “warn” them about publishing work he hasn’t even read?

    As much right as Springer had to offer to publish them, having not read them. And indeed to rescind the offer when alerted as to the nature of the conference.

    As I said, I would defend an ID person who did the same about a set of proceedings for a conference they also considered inappropriate for a scientific imprint.

    And I would expect Springer to examine the claim, and make their judgement.

    I’ve written to journals myself when I’ve thought that a paper did not meet the rigor expected of that journal.

    I did it about a paper by Joseph Bozorgmehr. Subsequently he had a paper accepted for publication by BIOcomplexity. They withdrew their offer, I understand, after they discovered (here at UD) that he had posted holocaust denial posts at Talk Rational.

    To be honest, I think that is less defensible than withdrawing a paper because the editors subsequently discovered it has been inadequately reviewed, but I could understand it.

    No journal or imprint is obliged to publish material whose content they don’t endorse. Fortunately in the west the press is not censored and there are plenty of ways to get your views published, even more so now that the internet and search engines are so powerful.

    If people have a complaint, it should be to Springer, not Matzke. They are the ones who need to defend their decision.

  69. Alan,

    I like that typo.

    Double-L Allan and I were just discussing fortuitous typos at TSZ.

  70. DiEb:

    “Arbeit macht frei”?

    and

    Alan Fox

    Eppur si muove!

    If you guys want to say things in foreign languages to get across a saying, it would help if an English translation were provided for those of us less enlightened. I could start saying things in my native language of Tagalog, but then few would understand unless I use Tagalog words imported into American English from Tagalog like: “Boondock” and “Cooties” and “yo-yo”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....log_origin

  71. As much right as Springer had to offer to publish them, having not read them.

    I didn’t ask if Nick had a “right” to write to Springer (which of course he does, nobody disagrees with that), oh Liz of the deceptive obfuscation techniques, I asked if Nick had a sound reason to warn Springer about the content of papers he had not read.

    Of course, he had no such sound reason; Nick was engaged in ideological intimidation and thuggery.

    And indeed to rescind the offer when alerted as to the nature of the conference.

    Did Nick attend the conference? How would Nick be able to alert anyone as to the “nature” of a conference he did not attend?

  72. If you guys want to say things in foreign languages to get across a saying, it would help if an English translation were provided for those of us less enlightened.

    I was referring to Barry Arrington’s essay Will Our Darwinist Friends Be Telling Us Next That “Arbeit Macht Frei”?

    Take a look at the wiki article to see the implications of this seemingly innocent sentence…

  73. Sal

    I know you has internet skillz! For the lazy:

    “Arbeit macht frei” was the motto that was inscribed over the entrance of several German concentration camps; including Dachau and Auschwitz. Translates roughly as “Work makes you free”.

    Galileo is supposed to have muttered “and yet it moves” after agreeing to recant on heliocentricity under threat of torture.

  74. Well DiEb to further tarnish your delicate sensibilities as to what should be associated with the Orwellian world of Darwinian Gestapo tactics and what should not be,

    Did Hitler Use the Term “Evolution” in Mein Kampf? – Richard Weikart August 27, 2012
    Excerpt: In sum, my translation of “Entwicklung” as “evolution” agrees with the usage of most translators of Mein Kampf. Richards’s claim that I am playing a “sly trick” falls to the ground.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63571.html

    From Darwin To Hitler – Richard Weikart – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

    Revealing The “Survival of The Fittest” Origins – Richard Weikart – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGq-MbmL5c0

    Can Darwinists Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Darwinism? – Richard Weikart -October 27, 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52331.html

    How Evolutionary Ethics Influenced Hitler and Why It Matters – Richard Weikart: – January 2012
    http://www.credomag.com/2012/0.....t-matters/

  75. 75
    Barry Arrington

    The problem with Alan’s quote is that Galileo never said any such thing, while “Arbeit macht frei” was certainly posted over the gate at Auschwitz. And, no, the allegations of fascist tactics are not spurious. My posts provide more than adequate support. The fact that Alan’s ideological blinders make him unable to see the evidence does not mean the evidence does not exist.

  76. Granville,

    My statement was that if you believe (as you apparently do) that the influx of solar energy makes it NOT extremely improbable that computers and the Internet would arise on a barren planet, then you do NOT have to conclude that the basic principle behind the second law has been violated here. So why would you have a problem with that statement?

    I didn’t dispute that statement. Here’s what I actually wrote:

    In the paper, you claim that the compensation argument is invalid and that spaceships, computers and the Internet are evidence that “at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.” That is so ridiculous, so unsupportable and so bizarre that it would get you laughed out of any reputable physics conference in the world.

    That’s why I laughed when I read this from you:

    You seem to have a reading comprehension problem.


  77. JoeG was dealing with many buttwipes, including the blog’s owner. And buttwipes are full of guano.

    Alan Fox:

    QED

    BTDT

  78. Barry:

    The problem with Alan’s quote is that Galileo never said any such thing…

    I never claimed he did. I said “is supposed to have muttered”, Barry. Do keep up! Anyway, how are you so certain he didn’t say something along those lines quietly when allowed to go home? Do you think the Earth is at the centre of the Universe? If so, why?

  79. I never claimed he did. I said “is supposed to have muttered”, Barry. Do keep up! Anyway, how are you so certain he didn’t say something along those lines quietly when allowed to go home? Do you think the Earth is at the centre of the Universe? If so, why?

    Yeah, Barry, you forget that for Darwinists, bare possibility is enough to support whatever they say or believe.

  80. 80
    Barry Arrington

    Alan: “I never claimed he did.” You think it is perfectly acceptable to use quotations you know to be spurious to make a point. Well alright then.

  81. 81
    Barry Arrington

    WJM @ 79. Just so. As Alan and Liz are demonstrating in this combox, “shameless” does not even begin to cover it.

  82. Granville,

    I was really just trying to defend the Cornell proceedings, didn’t want to get drawn into defending my article, but was forced to by some personal insults from KEITHS.

    I said that your paper was bad science. Do you consider that a “personal insult”? Do you believe that your paper should be exempt from criticism?

    The content of your paper is relevant to the issue, which is whether the BI symposium was a serious scientific conference. I say no. They accepted your paper, and your paper is not serious science.

  83. You think it is perfectly acceptable to use quotations you know to be spurious to make a point.

    I know no such thing. Neither you nor I are privy to what Galileo might hve muttered under his breath. The underlying truth is the folly of the Catholic church in trying to prevent the spread of simple truths that anyone can verify for themselves. ID has that opportunity, to promulgate it’s essential truth, should there actually be any essential truth in among the propaganda./

  84. So the folly of the geocentric scientists from the universities had nothing to do with Galileo’s downfall.

    Or is that simple truth too much for Alan to grasp?

  85. Granville,

    What you’re missing is that if the compensation argument were invalid, as you claim, then any local decrease in entropy (including in plants) would be a violation of the second law.

    It’s not, obviously.

    The influx of solar energy (and the outflow of waste heat, which is actually more important) explain why plants do not violate the second law. But that also explains why the appearance of spaceships and computers doesn’t violate the second law.

    Sure, you think the appearance of spaceships and computers is improbable; but that is not the same thing as saying that their appearance violates the second law.

    You’re really just arguing that evolution is improbable, like every other ID proponent.

    It has nothing to do with the second law.

  86. No keiths, what we are saying is that there isn’t any evidence that blind and undirected chemical processes can do much of anything and adding energy isn’t going to help.

    And you saying something is “bad science” means as much as Mickey Mouse saying it…

  87. keiths, I’m still waiting for you to explain exactly why anyone should consider Darwinism to be scientific since it has no demarcation criteria to make it scientific. Or is blatant hypocrisy just something we are suppose to overlook in the case of Darwinists?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-460387

    If you get passed that minor hurdle, then perhaps you can advance to the point of you may address Dr. Sewell properly instead of like the spoiled know nothing that you are.

  88. scordova @ 50: Agreed. I’ve never much understood the hate Lizzie gets here. She doesn’t agree no matter the argument or evidence. So what? The same goes for those of us at the other end of the spectrum. She’s always respectful, patient and seems to genuinely try to understand her opponent.

    Beyond that, the lady’s a dame. For that alone she should be shown far more respect than has been the case.

  89. 89
    Barry Arrington

    Alan: “Neither you nor I are privy to what Galileo might hve muttered under his breath.” Darwin “might have muttered” under his breath at some point that all of his theories were so much poppycock. So am I justified in using the mere fact that Darwin might have said something to assert that he did in fact say it in support of my arguments. Of course not. Alan, you are being aggressively stupid. Stop it. It’s embarrassing.

  90. 90
    Barry Arrington

    “Beyond that, the lady’s a dame. For that alone she should be shown far more respect than has been the case.” So fascism should get a pass if it wears a smiley face. We’ll just have to disagree.

    Update: Actually, I should have said, “Her defense of fascist tactics should get a pass if it wears a smiley face? We’ll just have to disagree.”

    Should journalists in the 1930’s have given Hitler a pass because he was nice to his dogs?

    Liddle’s defense of Nick’s thuggery is contemptible, and I will not cease to heap contempt upon it, no matter how sweetly she presents it.

  91. lpadron:

    Beyond that, the lady’s a dame. For that alone she should be shown far more respect than has been the case.

    What does gender have to do with it?

  92. What does gender have to do with it?

    Women are a rarity here, Keith.

    And it’s sex! Gender is for grammarians. ;)

  93. Alan,

    Rarity automatically deserves respect?

    Lizzie obviously deserves more respect than she gets here, but it has nothing to do with her herness.

    And it’s sex! Gender is for grammarians.

    Heh. I actually thought about that when I was typing, but asking “What does sex have to do with it?” would have garnered the wrong kind of response.

  94. keith @ 91: everything actually. If you’re brought up the right way, that is.

  95. Sal,

    At issue is whether Matzke would like to shut down debate and make sure certain literature he finds disagreeable isn’t released by premiere publishing houses. I expect if we asked, him, he’d say “yes”.

    I doubt that. I think he’d say that he doesn’t want to shut down debate at all. He just doesn’t think the BI proceedings should be published by a reputable science publisher.

    Which is exactly how I feel.

  96. So am I justified in using the mere fact that Darwin might have said something to assert that he did in fact say it in support of my arguments. Of course not. Alan, you are being aggressively stupid. Stop it. It’s embarrassing.

    I’m not sure who ought to be embarrassed, Barry. The pithy quote, attributed to Galileo admittedly a while after he died, has no bearing on whether the Sun is the centre of the solar system. In fact, it isn’t quite. I might just have said “truth will out” (paraphrasing Chaucer, Sal, to save you googling). This pretence that ordinary scientists are suppressing some great truth can easily be countered by showing us an ID hypothesis that has some utility and maybe some supporting evidence.

  97. Barry @ 91: I understand and respect your POV. Moreover, I I often agree with it. It just seems that it’s difficult for some to pour contempt on her position without pouring contempt on her as well. I find it unnecessary, unfruitful and ungentlemanly.
    And on a personal note, I find it almost impossible to love and pray for my enemy when I’m pouring contempt on him/her. I’ve found that more than just about anything else I just gots to love my enemy since I once was an enemy of the one many of us think is behind ID.

  98. Dr. Liddle, you said “As much right as Springer had to offer to publish them, having not read them. And indeed to rescind the offer when alerted as to the nature of the conference.” The book had been peer reviewed by two reviewers at Springer and was ready for publication. You think Springer publishes books, especially ones that cost over $100.00 with out even reading them? Really?

    Springer pulled the book after the panda people contacted them and threatened a boycott of their company if they went ahead with the publication of Biological information–New Perspectives. How is that not censorship since Nick and his buddies had never read the book and had no idea what was in it.

  99. Rarity automatically deserves respect?

    Rather rarity provokes comment. Women are rarer than they should be in science and rarer than that in the ID movement

  100. Oops on HTML

  101. T:

    Pardon an intervention that is less than pleasant.

    Bingo:

    TO EL: >> I have never seen you reprimand him for his behavior, or even mildly criticize him for it, or express any disapproval of it, here or anywhere else.

    So how, then, do you expect me to have full confidence that you are against culture-warring? I have the sense that you disapprove of it wholeheartedly when it comes from the ID or creationist side, but that you “look the other way” when it comes from your side. Or am I wrong? Have you ever dressed down anyone on your side for making illegitimate arguments or taking illegitimate action based on improper motivations? If so, please tell me where. >>

    In fact for some months I have had to deal with a case of hosted invidious comparison of Nazis to myself at TSZ.

    On complaining, my complaint was dismissed.

    There was an outright denial that such a slanderous comparison was being hosted at TSZ, in a twist-about accusation by the blog owner that my complaint was an unjustified outrage — NB: there are even screen shots of OM’s remarks at TSZ hosted at UD. (Cf. here and onward links. [Do I need to go on about whose propaganda frequently resorted to blame the present or intended victim through twisted-about, turn-speech accusation? Let's just say that to point out such significant patterns is to be accused of fear mongering. To such, I reply that fools rush in where angels fear to tread and that we had better learn from the relevant past lest we be doomed to repeat it. In the Caribbean, I am beginning here on that.])

    Latterly, in that the matter is now undeniable there is a pretence that principled objection to the current fashionable attempted homosexualisation of marriage and culture is to be equated to racism, in context, Nazism.

    Which is itself a further outrage by EL.

    (Cf the thread here on, which is probably still active.)

    We need to know what we are really dealing with, from whom — by way of active involvement and passive enabling or harbouring; and we must ponder very seriously where it points.

    G’day.

    KF

  102. It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of three.
    ‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
    Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

  103. F/N: I saw a reference to Arbeit . . . in thread and went looking for it, especially as DiEb made some reference to me.Not in thread then I found a link to another post, with that as title.

    In looking below, I saw:

    Liddle refuses to condemn Matzke for his efforts to suppress the publication of the papers from a conference before he had ever seen, much less read, the papers, which, of course, has the exact same effect as burning the books before they are distributed . . . .

    How could Matzke have known that the papers did not meet a minimum standard of rigor if he had not seen them? The answer is, of course, he could not. His purpose was to suppress the publication of the papers regardless of their merit (or lack thereof). Will you condemn him now Dr. Liddle?

    Covering jackbooted thuggery with doublespeak is a sure sign of incipient fascism.

    Of course, historically the Nazis began with burning books long before they had concentration camps with gassing rooms disguised as showers and crematoria where bodies were burned. So, the evident comment by BA is that we see the beginnings of that sordid road from 85 years ago on.

    the clear and clearlyeffective act of NM to intimidate an academic publisher regarding a book he had not even read is indeed the sort of thing that was done at the beginning of the Nazi era. That is already a serious and sobering point.

    I am not so sure BA is right to rush — even as a rhetorical flourish — from that to Auschwitz’s gate, but it is very clear that evolutionary materialism does have a major moral hazard challenge of being inherently amoral, having no foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT.

    What DiEb needs to understand is that his is in no wise comparable to OM’s slander of invidiously associating principled objections to radical homosexualisation, which are views held by a very wide varoiety of people, with Nazism, or EL’s denial and continued hosting now progressed to attempts to justify it.

    For just one instance, absent issues of obscenity, there is no widespread principled view that books objected to by powerful elites should be suppressed from publication, sight unseen, on threat of intimidatory tactics.

    Which is what NM did.

    So, the attempted comparison is again invidious and DiEb should withdraw it.

    KF

  104. FWIW,

    I no longer have the exact details, but 8 years ago Nick was instrumental in a campaign to get Richard Sternberg fired and blacklisted.

    Nick insinuated Sternberg didn’t go through proper procedure in getting Stephen Meyer’s paper on the Origin of Biological information published. How could Nick possibly know? He couldn’t, he just made the insinuation.

    Mike Gene took him to task say, “how can you sleep with yourself at night, Nick?”

    I am aware that Todd Wood or Marcus Ross occasionally get “rejected without review” from editors of journals. If Nick becomes a reviewer, I’d think he’d do the same, we could of course ask him to find out. But given his behavior, he effectively did just that.

    The whole issue of book burning is obviously an illustration of the drama in play. We could ask Nick if he would deny diplomas, admission, jobs, etc. to someone he discovered to be sympathetic to ID or whatever (global warming). Did he have much regret or even delight people like Richard Sternberg are no longer employable because Sternberg has been black listed. Didn’t seem he had much since he was an architect of baseless insinuations that led to Sternberg’s expulsion.

    Seems Darwin’s admonition needs to be considered:

    A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.

    Charles Darwin

    One won’t even know what the arguments are if:

    1. one doesn’t read
    2. rejects before reading

    For me, I wouldn’t single Nick out since he seems little different that the folks who:

    1. expelled Caroline Crocker
    2. shut down Robert Marks lab and gave him a gag order
    3. expelled Richard Sternberg from NIH, Smithsonian, etc.
    4. denied Bryan Leonard a PhD
    5. enslaved one creationist biology PhD candidate for 11 years before finally giving him the letters (I need to get his name, JohnnyB do you remember, he was in the Baraminology conference 2008)
    6. expelled Guillermo Gonzalez
    7. expelled William Dembski (from Baylor)
    8. publicly gone on record warning departments to deny PhDs
    9. larry moran and friends insisting denial of admission to college
    10. giving David Coppedge grief and ruining his career at JPL for what, giving out DvDs?

    the list goes on. Nick’s conduct hardly worse than what else I’ve seen over the years. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the same sense of outrage. I’ve seen worse, unfortunately.

    Oh, that’s the other thing. Guys at PT and ATBC were actively conspiring to write letters and contact faculty at my recent alma mater. They found it intolerable that a mere MS student was enrolled in a engineering science program. Nothing to do with the subject matter (applied physics for engineers), everything to do with me being sympathetic to ID in biology (which has little if anything to do with applied physics).

    Bullying? Yeah, I’ve seen it. Maybe I should be outraged at Nicks behavior, but maybe this stuff no longer shocks me otherwise I’d lose my mind if it did shock me.

  105. kairosfocus, you are priceless.

    In one comment:

    In fact for some months I have had to deal with a case of hosted invidious comparison of Nazis to myself at TSZ.

    In your very next comment:

    Of course, historically the Nazis began with burning books long before they had concentration camps with gassing rooms disguised as showers and crematoria where bodies were burned. So, the evident comment by BA is that we see the beginnings of that sordid road from 85 years ago on.

    Is there even one single mirror in your house?

  106. KF,

    all I get from the above is a game of “my nazi allegation is more valid than your nazi allegation”.

    Wouldn’t it be best to drop those allegations all together?

    BTW: the perceived invidiousness is purely subjective, I don’t think that I have anything to withdraw…

  107. 107

    @DiEb

    Wouldn’t it be best to drop those allegations all together?

    That’s funny. Like you, Hitler also made concessions to Stalin, before attacking the russians killing millions of innocents.
    Btw. your name in German is “thief”… A coincidence?

  108. Sal:

    Seems Darwin’s admonition needs to be considered:

    A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.

    Charles Darwin

    One won’t even know what the arguments are if:

    1. one doesn’t read
    2. rejects before reading

    Sal,

    If someone organizes a geocentrism conference, is Springer obliged to publish the proceedings? An astrology conference? A holocaust denial conference?

    Publishing houses are right to set standards and to reject publications that fail short.

    You and I both know that Granville’s paper is bad science. You’ve said so very publicly. Yet the BI organizers accepted it and included it in their proceedings.

    Why should bad science be published by a reputable scientific publishing house?

  109. Keiths “If someone organizes a geocentrism conference, is Springer obliged to publish the proceedings? An astrology conference? A holocaust denial conference?
    Publishing houses are right to set standards and to reject publications that fail short.”

    They sure do, but the point is Springer had already peer reviewed and approved for publication Biological Information–New Perspectives. It was set to be printed when panda people called for a boycott on a book they knew nothing about. How hard is that to understand or are you and Dr. Liddle just being obtuse.

  110. Why should bad science be published by a reputable scientific publishing house?

    You mean like evolutionary biology? Good question.

    Though I have obviously disagree with Granville, I think the admonition of a fair hearing, such as the proceedings of a CONFERENCE which record what people have declared is a good thing based on John Stewart Mills admonition.

    First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.[17]

    John Stewart Mill

    Speaking as someone who has vehemently and publicly quarreled with Granville, I wouldn’t EVER EVER think to pull the stunt Nick pulled. Rather, I published my own opposing thoughts in appropriate venues. That’s fair play, what Nick did was not fair play.

    My quarrels with my colleague are a matter of public record at UD and elsewhere. We are able to still get along, and I wouldn’t ever think to do something as dastardly as writing publishers to try to get an opposing viewpoint work suppressed.

  111. From O’Leary: Elizabeth Liddle has written, “If Nick Matzke or any ‘liberal’ lays so much as a match to a children’s library book I shall be the first to protest.”

    Touching. Heart warming.

    The typical fellow traveller of idea censors always denies the charge, pointing to some situation that would induce her to protest – except that that situation isn’t happening, and wouldn’t much matter if it did happen. No one harms the cause of ideas or even literacy by buying a children’s book at a garage sale and burning it, to make a statement. Liddle supports the kind of censorship that actually matters and then defends herself by preening about what doesn’t.

    What surprises me is why she would even bother. She supports censorship of evidence and theory from which she dissents. Period. It’s common enough, and growing more common. In many circles, it is a source of pride.

  112. Denyse O’Leary writes:

    The typical fellow traveller of idea censors always denies the charge, pointing to some situation that would induce her to protest – except that that situation isn’t happening…

    Which is funny, considering that the situation described in the OP isn’t happening, either.

    There is no book burning. No one is arguing that the BI proceedings shouldn’t be published. We just don’t think that they should be published by Springer or any other reputable science publisher.

  113. Dr. Liddle, you said “As much right as Springer had to offer to publish them, having not read them. And indeed to rescind the offer when alerted as to the nature of the conference.” The book had been peer reviewed by two reviewers at Springer and was ready for publication.
    You think Springer publishes books, especially ones that cost over $100.00 with out even reading them? Really?

    Well, often publishers undertake to publish conference proceedings prior to a conference taking place. However, I now understand that the book had already been reviewed by Springer, and approved. It therefore seems odd that they would have pulled it to please a single grad student.

    Springer pulled the book after the panda people contacted them and threatened a boycott of their company if they went ahead with the publication of Biological information–New Perspectives. How is that not censorship since Nick and his buddies had never read the book and had no idea what was in it.

    OK, I didn’t know about the boycott. However, a one man boycott isn’t going to do much harm. I’m seeing a lot more than one grad student protest here.

    And the more I read the more I find out – that Springer decided that “additional peer review would be necessary”. This is not surprising: if a lot of scientists write to a publisher and say: we have reason to think that this may not have been properly reviewed, then it’s only responsible to send out for further review.

    So it looks to me that the thing was not pulled unread because an uppity grad student made a fuss. It was sent out for further review because several scientists suggested that it might need it, and was pulled after that further review (i.e. not “unread”).

    Well, I’ve read about half the papers now, and if it had been sent to me, I would have recommended “reject”.

    I do wish ID proponents would at least consider that perhaps the problem isn’t a Darwinian conspiracy but lack of scientific rigor in their own camp.

    But I accept that peer-review is not a perfect system, and that biases exist (most journals invite authors to nominate reviewers, but also nominate reviewers they would rather not review the work, although of course the editor may still seek reviews from those reviewers – but at least they’ve got a heads-up that the reviewer might be hostile).

  114. Sal,

    I think the admonition of a fair hearing, such as the proceedings of a CONFERENCE which record what people have declared is a good thing based on John Stewart Mills admonition.

    I agree with Mill, but not with you. As Mill says, we should not silence dissenters, and doing so potentially harms us as much as it does those we silence. That’s the topic of my favorite Christopher Hitchens speech, by the way. Definitely worth watching.

    No one is arguing that the BI proceedings should not be published. We simply don’t think they should be published by Springer or any comparably respectable science publisher.

    Now back to my question:

    If someone organizes a geocentrism conference, is Springer obliged to publish the proceedings? An astrology conference? A holocaust denial conference?

    After all, those meet your criterion of “the proceedings of a CONFERENCE which record what people have declared.”

    BKA: So keiths once again admits that he would be a selective book burner. Good for him.

  115. Elizabeth:

    I originally accepted part of your earlier answer that I no longer accept, because new facts have come to light.

    Please read the reply of Julianbre at 98 above.

    You had made out that Springer had decided to publish the conference papers without actually having read them. That struck me as suspicious at the time; after all, you yourself, and Matzke, and everyone else here, seems to regard Springer as a high-quality science publisher. High-quality science publishers *don’t normally agree to publish volumes of papers they haven’t first read*. I therefore would have expected that, *at the very least*, the top editors at Springer (some of whom would surely have science qualifications) would have read the papers, and, *more probably*, they would have sent some or all of the papers out for peer review as well. So I found your account dubious, but did not challenge it, because I had no factual basis.

    Julianbre’s information, if correct, completely undermines the factual basis on which part of your reply to me rests. Your reply to me assumes that Springer had not read the papers, and therefore that Nick’s “alert” would have given them important information they did not previously possess. In that light, Nick’s “alert” could conceivably have been justified. But now that justification is gone.

    Further, even if it turned out, by a freak, that Springer *hadn’t* read the papers, Nick could not have known that when he wrote to them. He would have assumed — since he thinks that Springer is a reputable science publisher — that they would have read them. So when he wrote to them, he wasn’t thinking, “Gee, these poor suckers are going to publish papers they haven’t read, and get burned!” He was thinking, “Springer has made a very bad judgment, having read these papers and yet decided to publish them. I must try to persuade them to reverse their decision — even though I, unlike Springer and its reviewers — have not read them myself!” In other words, Nick knew himself to be performing a very rare and possibly unprecedented third-party intervention in the publishing process of Springer. And he knew himself to be performing it regarding papers he had not read, some of which were by authors whose writing and scientific background he was not familiar with. And his motivation was to prevent a group of ID-friendly people from getting a scientific publication with Springer, *simply because they were ID-friendly*.

    So, Elizabeth, *you* have some explaining to do. Did you know, when you wrote what you wrote, that Springer had read the articles? Or did you at least strongly suspect that Springer had read the articles? If either of these is the case, then you were dishonest in your reply which implied that you thought Springer hadn’t. And on the other hand, if you really believed what you wrote when you wrote it, if you really thought that Springer accepted the conference papers without reading them, why didn’t it strike you as odd that Springer would do such a thing, given your opinion of Springer as a top-notch scientific publishing house? Didn’t you question the report — probably originating from Matzke himself, if you actually heard any such report — that Springer had agreed to publish something it hadn’t read? Why would you uncritically accept, without investigating, such an implausible claim?

    Since you seem to be able to get in touch with Matzke, I would suggest you get in touch with him now, to determine if he has been fibbing or concealing some information in this matter.

    I would like you to ask him:

    1. Did he in fact honestly believe that Springer had accepted the papers without actually reading them?

    2. If so, why did he believe this?

    3. If he thought they *had* read them, why did he think they still needed his advice? Did he think this publishing house, one very competent by his own judgment, needed his correction?

    4. Did he have any qualms at all about advising a publishing house not to publish papers he had not read, at least some of which were by authors about whom he knew nothing?

    5. Did Nick, in his communication with Springer, make any direct *or veiled* threats of leading a boycott of the book if they went ahead with publication?

    6. Did Nick do anything at Panda’s Thumb, or anywhere else, to encourage anyone to boycott the book if it were published?

    7. Did others, because of Nick’s action, threaten any boycott of the book if it were published?

    Elizabeth, I look forward to hearing back from you, and indirectly from Nick, on this matter. It now looks as if there some dishonesty in what you and/or Nick have been saying here. If you have the integrity you purport to have, you will want to clear the air, and show that neither Nick’s answer nor your defense of Nick’s actions and words implies any concealment of knowledge or improper manipulation of people or situations.

  116. Denyse:

    The typical fellow traveller of idea censors always denies the charge, pointing to some situation that would induce her to protest – except that that situation isn’t happening, and wouldn’t much matter if it did happen. No one harms the cause of ideas or even literacy by buying a children’s book at a garage sale and burning it, to make a statement. Liddle supports the kind of censorship that actually matters and then defends herself by preening about what doesn’t.

    Repeating this accusation does not make it true. I do not support censorship. I oppose censorship so much that currently kairosfocus is on my case for not deleting some stuff on my blog! I reluctantly concede that censorship of truly disgusting and degrading material is necessary in a civilisation, but my default position is to censor as little as is humanly possible.

    I totally oppose ANY book-burning (not that anyone has in fact burned any books here).

    But why people can’t see that rejecting a piece of scholarship because it falls below the required standards for an academic journal is not the same as censorship I cannot understand. Scientist have work rejected all the time. I generally expect to submit to at least two journals before I receive an acceptance, and normally then only after revision.

    It never crosses my mind to consider this censorship. It isn’t. If I didn’t want to go through that process, I could just post my articles on my website. They might even get read more (no paywall). They might be actually censored in some countries, but that really would be censorship. But if I want the imprimatur of peer-review, then I submit to peer-review.

    Same goes for anyone who wants to publish in the peer-reviewed press.

    It seems to me that what you guys are objecting to here is not censorship but some kind of bias in the peer-review process. You may be right. It’s not a perfect system. Sometimes it is maddeningly difficult to get a paper published if you keep coming up against reviewers who just don’t buy your argument. I’ve had it happen to me. One reviewer said: the methodology is sound, and the statistics are appropriate, but the findings conflict with others in the literature. Eventually I got it published in another journal.

    But this, maddening though it is, is not censorship, it certainly is not book-burning, and it’s not a result of some grad student writing a stroppy letter to the publisher.

    What surprises me is why she would even bother. She supports censorship of evidence and theory from which she dissents. Period. It’s common enough, and growing more common. In many circles, it is a source of pride.

    No, I do not support “censorship of evidence and theory from which she dissents”. Anyone who has paid the slightest piece of attention to what I have written and done knows this is not the case. Why else would I run a blog in which I specifically invite ID proponents to make their case?

    My position is simple: I think bad science should be subjected to public criticism. That means, inter alia, that the bad science should be published. I do not think that bad science should be published in journals that claim to review the science for quality. I do think that good ID science papers should be published.

    I also think they should be written.

  117. From O’Leary: Elizabeth Liddle, you are a censor because you attempt to deny reputability to ideas you disagree with. I wonder whether you even know very much about the Cornell conference or the papers read there.

    You have no fact-based idea of the quality of the papers; you made the decision based on who wrote them.

    Then you point to trivial examples of censorship you claim you would oppose.

    I think that you are happy and proud of being a censor. The odd thing is that today such persons so often consider themselves to be liberals.

    But honestly, I do not consider that I am conversing with you, but rather with any out there who understand what a fair assessment of ideas would mean.

    To all you others: On Canada Day (today), I am proud to report that we have just this last week destroyed infamous Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, supported and promoted by multitudes of liberals in defiance of any meaningful concept of free speech. The battle is not over; those people occupy many key positions of power. This is just a shot across the bow – but it will not be our fault if it is not heard round the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qSYG_DqQp8

  118. 118
    Barry Arrington

    Liddle: “But why people can’t see that rejecting a piece of scholarship because it falls below the required standards for an academic journal is not the same as censorship I cannot understand.”

    Liddle knows that the Springer had already peer reviewed the papers. She knows that the Panda crew pressured Springer to suppress the book not because they thought the papers were sub-par. They had no idea whether the papers were sub-part. AGAIN, THEY HAD NOT READ THEM!

    Liddle pretends not to understand what the fuss is all about.

    Pathetic.

  119. Timaeus

    I originally accepted part of your earlier answer that I no longer accept, because new facts have come to light.

    Please read the reply of Julianbre at 98 above.

    You had made out that Springer had decided to publish the conference papers without actually having read them. That struck me as suspicious at the time; after all, you yourself, and Matzke, and everyone else here, seems to regard Springer as a high-quality science publisher. High-quality science publishers *don’t normally agree to publish volumes of papers they haven’t first read*. I therefore would have expected that, *at the very least*, the top editors at Springer (some of whom would surely have science qualifications) would have read the papers, and, *more probably*, they would have sent some or all of the papers out for peer review as well. So I found your account dubious, but did not challenge it, because I had no factual basis.

    It was an error on my part. Sometimes publishers undertake to publish conference proceedings before the conference has taken place. Clearly these are not read before the undertaking is made. I had thought this was the case here. I now understand that the manuscript was submitted after the conference, and had been reviewed.

    I have made that clear, I think, in my post above.

    Julianbre’s information, if correct, completely undermines the factual basis on which part of your reply to me rests. Your reply to me assumes that Springer had not read the papers, and therefore that Nick’s “alert” would have given them important information they did not previously possess. In that light, Nick’s “alert” could conceivably have been justified. But now that justification is gone.

    Further, even if it turned out, by a freak, that Springer *hadn’t* read the papers, Nick could not have known that when he wrote to them. He would have assumed — since he thinks that Springer is a reputable science publisher — that they would have read them. So when he wrote to them, he wasn’t thinking, “Gee, these poor suckers are going to publish papers they haven’t read, and get burned!” He was thinking, “Springer has made a very bad judgment, having read these papers and yet decided to publish them. I must try to persuade them to reverse their decision — even though I, unlike Springer and its reviewers — have not read them myself!” In other words, Nick knew himself to be performing a very rare and possibly unprecedented third-party intervention in the publishing process of Springer.

    It is not particularly rare, but I agree that Nick would have probably assumed that the editors had at least looked at the papers.

    And he knew himself to be performing it regarding papers he had not read, some of which were by authors whose writing and scientific background he was not familiar with. And his motivation was to prevent a group of ID-friendly people from getting a scientific publication with Springer, *simply because they were ID-friendly*.

    Almost certainly he assumed that they would be rejected if they were more thorougly reviewed, so, yes. I simply do not believe that Springer would do thorough review job on the papers, then pull the book simply because a grad student told them he didn’t approve of the authors. If they did, then Springer are most certainly to blame, not Nick, who is as entitled as any of us in a free society to say what they like to the editors of journals.

    So, Elizabeth, *you* have some explaining to do. Did you know, when you wrote what you wrote, that Springer had read the articles? Or did you at least strongly suspect that Springer had read the articles? If either of these is the case, then you were dishonest in your reply which implied that you thought Springer hadn’t. And on the other hand, if you really believed what you wrote when you wrote it, if you really thought that Springer accepted the conference papers without reading them, why didn’t it strike you as odd that Springer would do such a thing, given your opinion of Springer as a top-notch scientific publishing house?

    I don’t actually think they are a “top-notch scientific publishing house”, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they’d done a sloppy job of reviewing. So to answer your question, no, I didn’t know that Springer had done a review already, but no, it didn’t strike me as odd that when alerted by a number of scientists to the possibility that there might be some substandard papers in there (having seen the author list and the title) that someone might have thought “yikes – maybe we should have done this more thoroughly”. But without knowing who did the original reviews, or what the procedure was, I don’t know. I do think Springer is greatly at fault.

    Didn’t you question the report — probably originating from Matzke himself, if you actually heard any such report — that Springer had agreed to publish something it hadn’t read? Why would you uncritically accept, without investigating, such an implausible claim?

    Because, as I say, sometimes publication of conference proceedings is agreed prior to a conference, and the peer-review process is often cursory, especially if the papers have already been reviewed by the conference convenors,and they are well-respected reviewers.

    Since you seem to be able to get in touch with Matzke, I would suggest you get in touch with him now, to determine if he has been fibbing or concealing some information in this matter.

    I am not in personal contact with Matzke. I merely posted my earlier questions in his thread at Panda’s Thumb, and cut and pasted the response back here.

    I would like you to ask him:

    1. Did he in fact honestly believe that Springer had accepted the papers without actually reading them?

    2. If so, why did he believe this?

    3. If he thought they *had* read them, why did he think they still needed his advice? Did he think this publishing house, one very competent by his own judgment, needed his correction?

    4. Did he have any qualms at all about advising a publishing house not to publish papers he had not read, at least some of which were by authors about whom he knew nothing?

    5. Did Nick, in his communication with Springer, make any direct *or veiled* threats of leading a boycott of the book if they went ahead with publication?

    6. Did Nick do anything at Panda’s Thumb, or anywhere else, to encourage anyone to boycott the book if it were published?

    7. Did others, because of Nick’s action, threaten any boycott of the book if it were published?

    Elizabeth, I look forward to hearing back from you, and indirectly from Nick, on this matter.

    As I say, I am not in personal contact with Nick. I guess I could find out his email, but as the questions are yours, it would probably come better from you. But I will if you like.

    It now looks as if there some dishonesty in what you and/or Nick have been saying here. If you have the integrity you purport to have, you will want to clear the air, and show that neither Nick’s answer nor your defense of Nick’s actions and words implies any concealment of knowledge or improper manipulation of people or situations.

    The reason I commented on this thread was that it seemed ridiculous to me that Nick would approve of book-burning and censorship just because he had written to Springer to alert them to the ID nature of a forthcoming conference proceedings book that they had just advertised. I did not follow the affair closely at the time, but I did note that the ad had disappeared from the Springer website, and there was an article on it in the Guardian website.

    My point is simply that there is a difference between suppressing dissent and rejecting papers that do not reach the standard for a peer-review science journal.

    But I will write to Matzke if you like and put your questions to him (if I can find his contact details online).

  120. But why people can’t see that rejecting a piece of scholarship because it falls below the required standards for an academic journal is not the same as censorship I cannot understand.

    This is a straw many you have invented in your own mind – a fantasy story that nobody here has argued or claimed and which the evidence does not indicate happened at all. What happened is that Nick and others exercised thuggish intimidation on Springer and Springer, acting in fear of what a few devoted people can do to reputations (especially via the internet) should they set their mind to it, pulled the book from publication at the last minute.

    But, instead of seeing what actually happened and condemning it for the thuggish censorship and slimy, spineless capitulation (on the part of Springer) that it is, you blithely turn your head and make inane comments about some fantasy in your head about submissions that do not meet journal standards, imagining that this is what might have happened – no, must have happened, because it’s the only explanation that leaves Nick and the rest of your side’s reputation unsullied.

    Is it possible that Springer suddenly changed its mind about publishing the book, and the arrival of Nick and Panda’s uninformed, ideological threats prefacing that decision just a coincidence? Sure.

    Just like flipping 500 heads in a row is “possible”.

  121. Barry:

    Liddle: “But why people can’t see that rejecting a piece of scholarship because it falls below the required standards for an academic journal is not the same as censorship I cannot understand.”

    Liddle knows that the Springer had already peer reviewed the papers.

    Actually, I didn’t, as I said in my post. I erroneously thought that they had undertaken to publish the conference proceedings prior to the conference.

    She knows that the Panda crew pressured Springer

    I know that now.

    to suppress the book not because they thought the papers were sub-par. They had no idea whether the papers were sub-part. AGAIN, THEY HAD NOT READ THEM!

    If they pressured Springer to reject the papers out of hand, that would have been wrong. If they suggested that Springer review them rigorously, then that is absolutely fine. Springer claimed apparently to have sent the papers out for further review. Subsequently Springer rejected the papers.

    Had the further reviews come back positive, then clearly they should have been published. We must assume they came back negative. Whether this was because the reviewers were biased we can only speculate, but the error is with Springer, not with Nick. Also, of the papers I’ve read, several do not meet the standards I would expect from a peer-reviewed paper.

    It is also possible that they further reviews came back positive but that Springer were so intimidated by a Panda boycott that they caved anyway. Again, enquiries should be directed to Springer.

    Liddle pretends not to understand what the fuss is all about.

    Pathetic.

    What I do not understand is equating the peer-review system, which is a system designed to ensure that scientific papers meet a minimal standard of validity, with Nazis and book-burning and censorship.

    However, if your complaint is about biased peer-review, you have a good point. But your target should be Springer, I suggest, rather than Nick.

    And if you really think that the Panda’s Thumb scared Springer into rejecting the book, then you have a serious case.

    But the case is not helped by the quality of the papers that are now available.

  122. William

    What happened is that Nick and others exercised thuggish intimidation on Springer and Springer, acting in fear of what a few devoted people can do to reputations (especially via the internet) should they set their mind to it, pulled the book from publication at the last minute.

    IF this is what happened, I condemn it.

  123. The irony is, Nick Matzke et Panda al are so concerned about the “reputation” of Springer that they send a letter warning Springer about the content of papers Nick et al have not read, and could not have read. Springer, having already read and reviewed the papers, then – on the advice of completely uninformed third parties in letters laced with threats – then decides to not publish the book – a book already reviewed and approved for publication prior to the threatening letter.

    How can this action do anything but destroy any value the Springer name might have held? To decide after receiving a threatening letter from uninformed sources to “further review” the book, and then not publish it, is a complete abandonment of any semblance of integrity. What they should have done is laugh off Matzke’s letter and continue with the process.

    And see how Elizabeth underplays Nick’s role as if it is unthinkable that an undergrad and a few of his friends could intimidate Springer; larger companies have been intimidated by less. It’s amazing how reputations can be ruined these days by the efforts of one person or a small cadre of dedicated individuals. All that Nick et al has to do is start a campaign of associating the Springer brand with “creationism” and it’s a smear (unfortunately) that will stick and get passed around.

    Is Dr Liddle so ignorant of politics, and political smear campaigns, that she doesn’t know how easy it is to bully others this way – even big companies?

    The same thing happened in the climate field, where a small cadre of warming alarmists threatened to blackball a respected journal if they published research detrimental to the alarmist position.

  124. If they suggested that Springer review them rigorously, then that is absolutely fine.

    How is it “fine” for Nick et al to suggest that Springer review something “rigorously” that Nick et al themselves have never even read? On what rational basis is such an entirely uninformed recommendation tendered?

  125. Denyse O’Leary:

    Elizabeth Liddle, you are a censor because you attempt to deny reputability to ideas you disagree with.

    Denyse, you can’t be serious. You are a censor by your own definition, because you consistently try to deny reputability to “Darwinism” and “materialist neuroscience”.

    Your definition is ridiculous.

  126. From O’Leary: Elizabeth Liddle, you are a censor because you attempt to deny reputability to ideas you disagree with. I wonder whether you even know very much about the Cornell conference or the papers read there.

    I have so far read about half the papers. I do not wish to “deny reputability” to ideas I disagree with. I do wish to “deny reputability” with papers I think do not meet the standards of scientific research. There is a big difference. I quite frequently review papers whose conclusions I think are probably wrong, but if the methodology is sound and the arguments valid, I recommend acceptance. However, if a paper comes in whose conclusions I think are correct, but which are reached via unsound argument or are unsupported by the data, then I recommend revise or reject.

    You have no fact-based idea of the quality of the papers; you made the decision based on who wrote them.

    No. I read them with interest. My judgement was based on the papers, although it is true that acquaintance with prior writings of various authors may have led me to have low expectations. However, some authors were new to me.

    Then you point to trivial examples of censorship you claim you would oppose.

    I could point you to virtually anything whose censorship I would oppose. I would condone censorship only in the most overwhelming public interest.

    I think that you are happy and proud of being a censor. The odd thing is that today such persons so often consider themselves to be liberals.

    I am not happy and proud to be a censor because I am not a censor. I am very much opposed to censorship. I do consider myself to be a liberal.

    But honestly, I do not consider that I am conversing with you, but rather with any out there who understand what a fair assessment of ideas would mean.

    To all you others: On Canada Day (today), I am proud to report that we have just this last week destroyed infamous Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, supported and promoted by multitudes of liberals in defiance of any meaningful concept of free speech. The battle is not over; those people occupy many key positions of power. This is just a shot across the bow – but it will not be our fault if it is not heard round the world.

    I am in general against laws against free speech, including laws against hate speech under most circumstances, as well as blasphemy. I think the best counter to ideas you disapprove of is rebuttal, not suppression, a point I have been making repeatedly to kairosfocus over the last few days. I supported the BBC over their invitation to the odious NF campaigner, Nick Griffin on Question Time. He was given his moment of free speech, and revealed himself to be the racist thug that he is. His support never recovered.

    My favoured model of peer-review would be to publish everything, whether or not it receives favorable review, together with the reviews themselves. With online publishing this is becoming increasingly possible.

    But while we have the system of peer-review in place, then I think that all papers should meet that standard.

    The best part of peer-review I think, is not the reject/accept part but the critique itself. Whether or not a journal accepts a paper I submit, I nearly always find the reviews helpful, and end up with a better paper. Only rarely (but not never) does revision to please reviewers make a paper worse.

  127. What I do not understand is equating the peer-review system, which is a system designed to ensure that scientific papers meet a minimal standard of validity, with Nazis and book-burning and censorship.

    Nobody here is making such an equivalence. It is only in the fantasy in your mind that this has anything to do with the peer review system. The book had already been reviewed and approved for publication. Then a source that has nothing of value to add about the quality of the papers (already reviewed) insists, laced with threats, that the papers be further reviewed … and Springer capitulates? On what grounds?

    If Nick et al were not simply seeking to intimidate Springer, on what basis could they write a letter to Springer condemning the pending publication of that book?

  128. How is it “fine” for Nick et al to suggest that Springer review something “rigorously” that Nick et al themselves have never even read? On what rational basis is such an entirely uninformed recommendation tendered?

    Because reviews should be rigorous.

    I have no doubt that the reason Nick suspected the review process had not been rigorous is that he is well-acquainted with the works of the authors and has found them in the past to be, well, not-rigorous.

    To demand rigorous review where you suspect there has been slack editing is just fine.

    To exert the kind of pressure you suggest was exerted is not.

    If you are correct, Nick et al were in the wrong.

    If I am correct, he wasn’t.

  129. From O’Leary: Keiths, when have you found me supporting an attempt to prevent a publisher from issuing a book on the verge of publication just because it was yet another crock of Darwin?

    You know perfectly well that that is what we are discussing, not my well-justified skepticism of the Beard and his followers.

    If people want to read and believe Darwinism. it is their choice, just as it is mine to call out the crackpottery when ever I see it. I see so much of it, I should hire an assistant.

    Eventually, readers will tire of cheap Darwindunits – with only intermittent help from me. Then the publishers will have to be more selective about the Darwindunits they publish, with no help from censors. That is how life SHOULD work.

    Liddle chooses to support people who think and do quite otherwise from me, and I fear – I am sorry to say it – that Barry has her number pretty well.

    So these are supposed to be the heirs of Galileo and John Stuart Mill? How the world changes.

  130. So a group of scientists with good credentials offers some papers up to Springer for review and publication as the proceedings of a conference they had at Cornell. Springer agrees, gets the papers, has them reviewed and approved, and is set for publication and makes announcements and places ads.

    Then Nick Matzke et al, having not even read the papers, warn Springer that something they are about to publish is a collection of papers generated by IDists and/or creationists. Springer, which doesn’t want to be associated with ID or creationism, immediately (and without any rational warrant) orders “further review” on the basis of a threatening letter from a source that admittedly knows nothing about the material being published.

    So, after the unwarranted censorship from publication based upon the fear of a major scientific publisher sullying their brand with “creationist” or “ID” friendly material, anti-ID advocates can continue their claim that ID gets little publication in major, mainstream science venues – when it is they that go about threatening the reputations of any willing to associate themselves with “ID” or “creationism.

    See how that works, Dr. Liddle? Or is your still head too far down in the sand?

  131. Because reviews should be rigorous.

    Does Nick send letters to all publishers on the eve of the publication of some scientific work advising them to be rigorous?

    I have no doubt that the reason Nick suspected the review process had not been rigorous is that he is well-acquainted with the works of the authors and has found them in the past to be, well, not-rigorous.

    You have no doubt? – even though you have not been in contact with Nick about this? Your ideological protectionist bias is showing, Dr. Liddle.

    Do you suppose Nick scours the net for info on upcoming publications of all scientists he has reason to doubt the work thereof in order to send threatening letters to the publisher unless they “rigorously review” the work? Or do you suppose he is primarily interested in keeping the works of ID and creationist advocates from being “non-rigorously” reviewed?

  132. KS & DiEb

    Sorry, that turnabout your’e in the same boat immoral equivalency, blame the victim enabling tactic fails.

    In fact it trips a further warning flag on what is going on.

    Take a moment to look at substance before playing tactics from 85 years ago again. Yes, I know the tactics work very well with those who are superficial or don’t have access to facts.

    That is why they were used in the first place.

    That too is a lesson we genuinely need to learn from that history (which it seems an awful lot of people are disastrously ignorant on).

    For instance shortly after Hitler was given the chancellorship in an ill-advised compromise deal, there was a Reichstag fire, probably set by a half mad dutch boy. It was seized upon to accuse the communists of plotting against the state which led to voting in an enabling act that left Hitler a dictator. The turnabout, false accusation worked: those setting out to coup panicked the public to fear that a scapegoat group was the real threat of a coup. The rest was history.

    Since someone is playing a poems game, let me quote Evangelical Free Church Bishop and Dachau survivor Martin Niemoller (of, From U-Boat to Pulpit) on the history:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    So, the tactics being used on us now, are all too well trodden.

    If you were to do the responsible thing DiEb {on evident track record, I have no such expectation of KS . . . ) you would have seen that the invidious association I pointed out as slander is on a point where for centuries and today, there are any number of people who have principled questions on homosexual conduct and the ongoing homosexualisation of our civilisation and key institutions in it such as marriage and family. In that context, to invidiously compare one who has such objections to Nazis is an outrage, unjustified by evident facts that can be followed up. (For just one source with hard to find, serious evidence, cf. here. Ponder the implications of statistical incidence, shifting culture-relative manifestations and the three patterns: Western, Greek and Melanesian, pointed out.)

    On the other case censorship, book burning, stereotyping, career busting and the like are things that are blatantly unprincipled and counter to academic and general freedom, and to point out that this pattern is typical of fascism is an historically valid comparison.

    And FYI, fascism is closer to our political culture today than I want to think about, having seen my homeland devastated for a generation by political messianism and utopianism and the extremism the so easily trigger. Sometimes, it gives me the shudders, as I reflect on how vulnerable we so often seem to be to the blandishments of would be political messiahs, to the talking points and manipulative tricks of their media handlers, and to the associated Nietzschean superman anti-ethic and politics of state domination of society in hopes of deliverance. The little known but well grounded fact that classic fascism in both Italy and Germany was a movement of the LEFT, should also give us pause.

    So, sorry, I refuse to be intimidated from making legitimate and warranted comparisons because others will try to resort to yet another parallel from a dark chapter in history, turn-speech twist-about accusations of little merit.

    That this is the response we are seeing right here at UD and just above in this thread, trips yet another flag.

    Do you want me to go on, to how say the Czechs were cast as oppressing the Sudeten Germans, by way of winkling them out of their major fortification lines? And how this led to the disaster at Munich, where that plucky little nation was sold out on a bogus promise of peace in our time?

    Do I need to go on to the concentration camp prisoners dressed in polish uniform posed as attacking German radio stations and murdered for propaganda purposes? Do I need to point onward to five million dead Poles, including fully half the Holocaust?

    Where of course, the Jews, classically, were cast as THE enemies of the German people and responsible for the stab in the back that was claimed to be the reason for defeat in WWI. Thence, the Shoah.

    And of course the motivation for Barbarossa sold to the German Army’s leaders was that it was pre-emptive of an expected stab in the back by the Red Army. Was that 25 – 27 million Russians dead?

    I hope the danger of twistabout, blame the victim turnspeech propaganda tactics is now riveted in our minds so that I will have no further reason to point to it again.

    And, I will not be intimidated from drawing out legitimate historical parallels as warnings.

    Do I need to make it plain that my very first political and historical opinion was anti-fascism, absorbed at my mother’s knees?

    I hope that begins to communicate the magnitude of the outrage perpetrated by denizens at TSZ and harboured by its leadership.

    But, I need to make a positive point.

    The Russians are right: dwell on the past, you lose an eye. Forget the past, you lose both your eyes.

    Especially, when the rhetorical retort to pointing out valid parallels, is to trip the warning flag on yet another parallel: turn-speech tactics.

    I know, I know, the parallels I have drawn and others have drawn are painful.

    It was shockingly painful, too, for genteel ladies from the 1780′s on sipping tea sweetened with slave grown sugar to be confronted with the likes of that cartoon of a captive girl flipped upside down and strung up by a foot using a rope in preparation for a whipping of her naked body that would scar her up for life. But, those genteel well dressed ladies of polished manners needed to know the real cost of that sweet treat they were sipping.

    They needed to know that their enabling behaviour was a contribution to unspeakable evil. (Much, much worse was done that I will not revolt you be reporting.)

    And in our day, we need to understand what is on the march, and what it has been doing.

    And if it takes a painful tour of shame that exposes what has been going on in the name of science and science education, in the teeth of the sort of denial and enabling that have been going on that is now necessary.

    And remember, this is coming from a man whose innocent family have been held hostage to the threats and outing tactics of Darwinist bully-boys.

    When OM tried the trick of pushing me in the same boat with Nazis, he picked the wrong man to pick a fight with.

    He began the fight, TSZ harboured it, I will finish it.

    It is as simple as that, for one of my ilk and blood.

    KF

  133. Lizzie @ 128: It’s just as likely that Mr. Matzke didn’t believe peer review was rigorous *to his satisfaction*. That would be an entirely different matter. To demand rigorous review where one only suspects it hasn’t occurred seems to me prejudicial. This is especially the case given the publisher. Has Mr. Matzke contacted the publisher with the same concern over other matters? Prolly not. Has he agreed with everything and everyone they’ve published? Again, prolly not. I’d rather just call a spade a spade: Matzke has as much an axe to grind against ID as others have against Darwinism. ‘Tis the way of the world and there’s no accounting for it.

  134. William:

    Or do you suppose he is primarily interested in keeping the works of ID and creationist advocates from being “non-rigorously” reviewed?

    I suspect he is primarily interested in keeping the works of ID and creationist advocates from being published without rigorous review.

  135. lpadron: you are almost certainly correct.

    Except that it’s worth making the point that some of us think that ID papers (with a very few exceptions) really are bad science!

  136. T @ 115:

    1. Springer is a famous and distinguished Science publisher. Indeed, I personally testify to the significance of some of their work in my own studies.

    2. Given relevant laws and simple professional diligence, there is not a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace that Springer Verlag had not read and reviewed such a Proceedings before investing in setting up for publication.

    This is an obvious, straight out case of an intimidatory letter leading to backing away from a fight with the ruthless.

    KF

  137. He began the fight, TSZ harboured it, I will finish it.

    It is as simple as that, for one of my ilk and blood.

    KF

    Bydand!

  138. Lizzie:

    I have no doubt that the reason Nick suspected the review process had not been rigorous is that he is well-acquainted with the works of the authors and has found them in the past to be, well, not-rigorous.

    William:

    You have no doubt? – even though you have not been in contact with Nick about this? Your ideological protectionist bias is showing, Dr. Liddle.

    Before the BI brouhaha, weren’t you aware that Nick thinks ID is crap, William? Why wouldn’t Lizzie be aware of that?

    I have no doubt that she was. :)

  139. Barry,

    Why create a new OP every time you want to make a comment?

    I think you have permission to comment on this thread, and if not, you can ask yourself for it.

  140. As a matter of principle there are some considerations. If for example Spriger-Verlag staff were my good friends, and I really felt their reputation could be damaged, I would feel some obligation to privately say, “hey, are you aware of ….”

    It’s another thing to suggests publicly, “Hey Springer, we’ll make sure you pay for this. We’ll ensure you’re humiliated.”

    Then there is just the notion of appropriate boundaries. The publications negotiation was between Springer and the members of the conference. This is meddling from the outside.

    To illustrate, suppose a I see a kid is really misbehaving. It doesn’t give me (a stranger) license to go up and reprimand him. Something is wrong about me acting like a parent. In Nick’s case, this smacks of acting like thought police.

    As I said, I’ve publicly disagreed with one of the Conference authors, I’ve expressed some criticism of the work of other conference authors, but I would never think to handle the matter in the way it was done. There is something to be said about due process. This had the earmarks of bullying.

    When I first read Barry’s OP, I wasn’t too incensed, “same old same old”, but when I thought about the fact how low I’d have to stoop to pull the stunt Nick is pulling merely because I disagreed, then it dawned on me how outrageous his behavior was.

    If one wants to oppose what was published by the BI conference, publish your rebuttal, not this underhanded undermining of a viewpoint you don’t agree with ( and that’s hard to justify if haven’t actually read the papers)! It’s just bullying.

  141. Sal,

    I’m still interested in your answer to my question:

    Now back to my question:

    If someone organizes a geocentrism conference, is Springer obliged to publish the proceedings? An astrology conference? A holocaust denial conference?

    After all, those meet your criterion of “the proceedings of a CONFERENCE which record what people have declared.”

  142. KeithS,

    Springer obliged to publish the proceedings? An astrology conference? A holocaust denial conference?

    Springer is not obliged, they aren’t even in the case of BI.

    Springer was willing to publish the BI (after all one of the world’s top genetic engineers and top computer engineers were at the conference). At issue is Matzke’s interference.

    And like the stranger coming out of nowhere to discipline a misbehaving child, Matzke is crossing boundaries to meddle. It didn’t register when Barry first posted this, but as we exchanged comments and you reminded me of my own public disagreements with IDists, I realized I’d have to stoop pretty low to pull the stunts Matzke is pulling.

    Springer is not obligated, they never were, they still aren’t. But that isn’t the issue at hand. The issue at hand is Nick’s bullying and meddling. By comparison, I wouldn’t think to pull that sort of garbage on a Darwinist.

  143. Elizabeth:

    Thank you for your clarifications. I know that Nick will not respond to any questions from anyone he associates with the ID side. He may respond to you. If he is amenable to replying to you and allowing you to post either his actual words, or your own summary of his words, here, or on your site, that would be helpful.

    I find it beyond belief that if the papers at the conference were largely substandard, that Springer’s internal and external review processes would not have uncovered this. One or two weak papers might have slipped through the net, but the whole set? That’s hardly credible. The way you and others represent ID science, it is so bad that even a non-specialist can see the errors in it. And the way Nick represents ID science, anyone can smell the “creationism” in it a mile away. So presumably, on Nick’s characterization of the likely quality of the papers he hadn’t read, at least every other paper would have been decaying refuse whose stench would give it away to a reviewer with even minimal scientific competence. But apparently this was not the reaction of the publisher or the reviewers. So were the papers accidentally sent out to the Three Stooges for review, instead of to profs at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, etc.?

    It seems more likely that the reviewers thought that the essays were, if not uniformly great, of at least a high enough standard to be worth presenting to the reader for the reader’s own judgment. So until you or Nick gets back to me with evidence to the contrary, that is the assumption I will make.

    I am glad that you agree that, if the actual reason for pulling the publication was not the publisher’s honest revised judgment that the papers were poor, but rather fear of boycotts or other reprisals, then this was thuggery and deserves to be condemned. And it is certainly clear that thuggery has been the cause of publisher cowardice in other cases (documented here), so such a hypothesis is not a priori implausible.

    You say that third-party intervention *after a publisher has accepted a paper* is not particularly rare. I would like you to document this. I believe it may happen when a third party knows that a certain paper was plagiarized, has appeared elsewhere, etc. I do not believe it is very common outside of this. All the full-time scientists I know of are very busy people, who have their hands full with teaching, research, and peer-reviewing papers that they have been *asked* by journal editors to review; they have very little time left over to interfere in the peer-review process of other papers concerning which they had no initial involvement.

    I would guess that only 1 out of a 100 full-time scientists has ever, even once in his/her life, interceded as a third party to request that a publisher not publish *an already accepted paper*. And I would guess that in almost all such cases, the scientist in question has known something very specific about the contents of the allegedly problematic paper — either heard it read at a conference, or seen an early draft, etc. That certainly was not the case here. Matzke was not at the conference and had not read or seen early drafts of any of the papers; further, some of the authors were unknown to him and he would have had no way of judging the likely quality of their work. So this *was* unusual behavior under such circumstances.

    In fact, I would say that third-party intervention even *before* a paper is accepted by a journal is relatively rare. Scientists are simply too busy doing peer-reviews of their own to be policing the peer-review process in other situations in order to make sure that the other peer-reviewers are doing their jobs well. And it would be professionally insulting in any case: a scientist wouldn’t walk into another scientist’s lab and tell the other scientist how to conduct his experiments (unless his advice was invited); so why would he write to a scientific publisher and say, “I hear you are thinking of publishing an article by Tom Smith, and I think Tom Smith’s work is trash, and I don’t think your usual reviewers, Bobby Jones and Glen Carpenter, are competent enough in the field to detect the trashiness of it, so I urge you to reject the article even if they recommend acceptance”? That would be an insult to the other reviewers, and to the publisher (implying that he was too ignorant in the field to appoint qualified reviewers). So I contend that this happens rarely. But if you think otherwise, document it, please.

  144. Sal,

    I wouldn’t think to pull that sort of garbage on a Darwinist.

    Considering the sort of garbage you have pulled on Darwinists, including Darwin himself, I am skeptical.

    2 scordova March 20, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power

    Charles Darwin
    Autobiography

    The full quote:

    Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, or before that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy, I believe, simply from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure, as the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing their love from their masters.

    Perhaps KF will treat you to one of his “for shame” and “please do better” lectures, but somehow I doubt it.

  145. Considering the sort of garbage you have pulled on Darwinists, including Darwin himself, I am skeptical.

    Now that’s the sort of garbage I would pull!

  146. timaeus: find it beyond belief that if the papers at the conference were largely substandard, that Springer’s internal and external review processes would not have uncovered this. One or two weak papers might have slipped through the net, but the whole set? That’s hardly credible.

    Evidently, your scenario (and what others here are surmising) may not accurately capture (gasp) or represent what actually occurred and in what sequence. Doesn’t seem that out of synch or improper to me.

    Also, what is wrong with a person(s) proposing to not continue a relationship with a company (that they pay to publish their manuscripts) if they feel that the company no longer represents their interests through their actions?

    for example:

    Eric Merkel-Sobotta, executive vice president of corporate communications at Springer in Germany, said in an e-mail, that the initial proposal for the book was peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers. “However, once the complete manuscript had been submitted, the series editors became aware that additional peer review would be necessary,” Merkel-Sobotta said. “This is currently underway, and the automatically generated pre-announcement for the book on Springer has been removed until the peer-reviewers have made their final decision.”

    Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/.....z2XqhDHGSz
    Inside Higher Ed

  147. Darwin’s Doubt Will Debut at #7 on New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller List – July 1, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....73921.html

    Somebody call Matzke to make sure he don’t hurt himself. :)

  148. Denyse O’Leary:

    Keiths, when have you found me supporting an attempt to prevent a publisher from issuing a book on the verge of publication just because it was yet another crock of Darwin?

    You know perfectly well that that is what we are discussing, not my well-justified skepticism of the Beard and his followers.

    If people want to read and believe Darwinism. it is their choice, just as it is mine to call out the crackpottery when ever I see it.

    No, Denyse, we were discussing your accusation:

    Elizabeth Liddle, you are a censor because you attempt to deny reputability to ideas you disagree with.

    Focus on that phrase “attempt to deny reputability.”

    Now reread this, from your comment above:

    If people want to read and believe Darwinism. it is their choice, just as it is mine to call out the crackpottery when ever I see it.

    Are you really claiming that “calling out the crackpottery whenever I see it” isn’t an “attempt to deny reputability” to Darwinian evolution? Please.

    You are a censor by your own definition. Nice foot shot.

  149. Hi Franklin, please post the complete email from Eric Merkel-Sobotta. The one Mr Zimmer got! The book got pulled for additional review after Springer was contacted and notified that the authors were ID proponents.

  150. KS: You came here picking a fight. You got one in spades. And your credibility — on the assumption that you had any coming in the door, on track record — has evaporated. Take a moment to look back above and see how you and your ilk arfe cming across in this thread and related ones, starting with the attempt to dodge and duck about a case of censorship, multiplied by copious doses of attempted twisting-about of issues at stake. KF

    PS: I am very aware of Darwin’s little discussion on remorse at having improperly hit a dog. That simply shows that his conscience had not utterly been corrupted by the amorality and nihilism that — on a long, grim track record of history multiplied by the implications of a worldview with no foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT — evolutionary materialism so often opens the door to. As Plato warned against.

  151. What you’re missing is that if the compensation argument were invalid, as you claim, then any local decrease in entropy (including in plants) would be a violation of the second law.

    No, the compensation argument claims that a type of order that enters an open system need only compensate for a decrease in some type of entropy that would have been improbable in a closed system, while Sewell has shown that the type of order that enters the open system needs to cause the decrease in entropy that would have been improbable in a closed system.

    If what enters is a type of order that makes the local decrease not improbable, then indeed there can be a local decrease (for example, sunlight entering a plant can cause growth). However, if what is entering the system is not causally related to the event in question, then its entry into the system does not simply “compensate” for the unrelated decrease in entropy (for example, cosmic rays entering a computer won’t result in the bits changing into an ASCII representation of a Shakespeare play).

    You still have not answered my question as to whether you believe Styer and Bunn’s methodology of using the Boltzmann formula to convert the change in the “improbability” of organisms at one point in time to their “improbability” at another point in time to Joules per degree Kelvin per second seems perfectly sensible to you.

    As Sewell acknowledges in the paper, it may be possible to defend the appearance of spaceships and computers in other ways without postulating a violation of the second law, just not using the compensation argument as presented by people such as Asimov, Styer, and Bunn. Maybe only a few people actually make this compensation argument as presented by these people, and thus Sewell’s point is only contrary to them and not relevant to neo-Darwinists as a whole. However, I know the first rule of message board posting for neo-Darwinists is to never, ever concede that any person associated with ID could ever be right about any point in conflict with any person associated with defending neo-Darwinism, even if that point is not necessarily fatal to neo-Darwinism.

    Sure, you think the appearance of spaceships and computers is improbable; but that is not the same thing as saying that their appearance violates the second law.

    Below are three quotations. Two are from standard physics and chemistry textbooks (Basic Physics by Kenneth Ford and General Chemistry by Whitten Davis and Peck), while one “would be laughed out of any reputable physics conference.” Which are which?

    Imagine a motion picture of any scene of ordinary life run backward. You might watch…a pair of mangled automobiles undergoing instantaneous repair as they back apart. Or a dead rabbit rising to scamper backward into the woods as a crushed bullet re-forms and flies backward into a rifle…. Or something as simple as a cup of coffee on a table gradually becoming warmer as it draws heat from its cooler surroundings. All of these backward-in-time views and a myriad more that you can quickly think of are ludicrous and impossible for one reason only: they violate the second law of thermodynamics. In the actual scene of events, entropy is increasing. In the time reversed view, entropy is decreasing.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics is based on our experiences. Some examples illustrate this law in the macroscopic world. When a mirror is dropped, it can shatter…The reverse of any spontaneous change is nonspontaneous, because if it did occur, the universe would tend toward a state of greater order. This is contrary to our experience. We would be very surprised if we dropped some pieces of silvered glass on the floor and a mirror spontaneously assembled…The ideas of entropy, order, and disorder are related to probability.

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    The only difference in these three statements is that neo-Darwinists believe they have a mechanism for the third. And perhaps they are correct, as Sewell acknowledges. But you can’t just dismiss the issue by appealing to the compensation argument.

  152. F/N: Instead of speaking in the abstract, we can look at the collection of papers here and examine the Amazon announcement here.

    It is quite obvious from the exchanges above that we have had a case of ideological thuggery used to intimidate a publisher and to force withdrawal of a proceedings with significant papers in it, from publication, because of ideological pressure.

    For instance, I would find this paper by Dembski, Marks and Ewert, is already highly significant as extending and making more conceptually explicit the whole idea of search by evolutionary algorithms and the consequences of such. This, by Montanez and others including Sanford, on the issue of polyfuncitonality and how it constrains the likelihood of successful mutation, is worth noting. Already note this from the abstract:

    “the probability of beneficial mutation drastically diminishes as the number of overlapping codes increases. The growing evidence for a high degree of optimization in biological systems, and the growing evidence for multiple levels of poly-functionality within DNA, both suggest that muta-tions that are unambiguously beneficial must be especially rare. The theoretical scarcity of beneficial mutations is compounded by the fact that most of the beneficial mutations that do arise should confer extremely small increments of improvement in terms of total biological function. This makes such mutations invisible to natural selection.”

    That point alone is enough to drastically question and undermine the macroevolutionary picture so often presented to us as assured fact. Let’s just say that I never even bothered to try the tricks used by talented microcontroller designers where the same memory space on one view is data and on another is code. I was ever so glad that in my day we had enough RAM and EPROM to do otherwise.

    Polyfunctional codes interwoven in a system is a significant indicator best explained on design.

    Similarly, this by Sewell — in a paper that was already suppressed previously under similar circumstances — is at minimum well worth pondering:

    the equations for entropy change do not support the illogical [energy inflow] “compensation” idea; instead, they illustrate the tautology that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering (or leaving) which makes it not extremely improbable.” Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    In the terms of config spaces and narrow zones of interest, with tightly restricted search relative to space, that makes a lot of sense. The stunts repeatedly used to duck this point on the 500H toy example recently, underscore its relevance.

    McIntosh’s remarks here are similarly of significance, building on the point long ago made by Thaxton et al in TMLO:

    Are there laws of information exchange? And how do the principles of thermodynamics connect with the communication of information?

    We consider first the concept of information and examine the various alternatives for its defini-tion. The reductionist approach has been to regard information as arising out of matter and energy. In such an approach, coded information systems such as DNA are regarded as accidental in terms of the origin of life, and it is argued that these then led to the evolution of all life forms as a process of increasing complexity by natural selection operating on mutations on these first forms of life. However scientists in the discipline of thermodynamics have long been aware that organisational systems are inherently systems with low local entropy, and have argued that the only way to have consistency with an evolutionary model of the universe and common descent of all life forms is to posit a flow of low entropy into the earth’s environment and in this second approach they suggest that islands of low entropy form organisational structures found in living systems. A third alternative proposes that information is in fact non-material and that the coded informa-tion systems (such as, but not restricted to the coding of DNA in all living systems) is not defined at all by the biochemistry or physics of the molecules used to store the data. Rather than matter and energy defining the information sitting on the polymers of life, this approach posits that the reverse is in fact the case. Information has its definition outside the matter and energy on which it sits, and furthermore constrains it to operate in a highly non-equilibrium thermodynamic environment. This proposal resolves the thermodynamic issues and invokes the correct paradigm for understanding the vital area of thermodynamic/ organisational interactions, which despite the efforts from alternative paradigms has not given a satisfactory explanation of the way information in systems operates. Starting from the paradigm of information being defined by non-material arrangement and coding, one can then postulate the idea of laws of information exchange which have some parallels with the laws of thermodynamics which undergird such an approach. These issues are explored tentatively in this paper, and lay the groundwork for further investigative study.

    Finally, as an excerpt for pondering, this from Sanford, is well worth pondering though it is not from a paper but a section introduction:

    When DNA was discovered, it finally became clear that genetic information is very much like human written information — an extensive array of language-encoded strings of text. Where did all these text strings come from? For most biologists the already-ruling Darwinian paradigm seemed to be sufficient — they assumed that all biological information must arise merely by random letter changes in the text, combined with some reproductive filtering. In the last 60 years, many thousands of scientists have made a truly monumental effort to try to explain the entire biosphere, just in terms of random mutations which are fil-tered by natural selection. Has this effort been successful? It has certainly been successful in a sociological sense — this view is now faithfully upheld by the large majority in the academic community. The neo-Darwinian paradigm literally saturates the content of most biological journals. In fact any deviation from this view is generally regarded as academic treason — often being characterized as a threat to science itself. Yet in this section of our proceedings (Biological Information and Genetic Theory), we will show that there are huge genetic problems which bring this reigning paradigm into serious question.

    And, it is almost funny how prophetic those bolded words were.

    The result of the intervention by NM, as obviously intended, was delay of publication probably by over a year, and forcing the proceedings to come out in the name of a much less prestigious publisher. Prior restraint on publication by exercise of power is a classical definition of censorship.

    And in that context boasting of how ID-friendly papers are not frequent in the literature or in the top drawer literature, is a boast of successful censorship, not a statement on the actual merits of the matters at stake.

    Copies may not have been burned, but censorship rooted in ideological thuggery dressed up in a lab coat and driven by a priori Lewontinian evolutionary materialism and/or its travelling companions is precisely what we have had here.

    For shame!

    Or, at least, try to have the decency to be ashamed!

    KF

  153. CS3: Well put. KF

  154. KF,

    KS: You came here picking a fight. You got one in spades. And your credibility — on the assumption that you had any coming in the door, on track record — has evaporated.

    So says Mr. “Don’t call me a Nazi, you Nazi!”

    What was that about credibility?

  155. KS: It is patent that you are addicted to the twist-about, false accusation that I had occasion to highlight in 132 above as a key warning flag on dangerous trends in public discourse in our time. It is of course an often effective rhetorical cheap shot to try the immoral equivalency game. But there is no immoral equivalency between trying to promote a slander that tries to push me into the same boat with Nazis on a matter where I agree with a great many people across the ages and today who have serious questions of principle, policy and prudence about the radical push to homosexualise our civilisation [Onlookers, you can start here as just one step . . . the attempt to smear and stereotype then scapegoat and even criminalise those who question homosexualist agendas in light of principled concerns is itself a sign of the violently hostile and destructive nature of the agenda (notice how those who come here to push this partyline simply will not show any sign of seriously taking note of the matters of concern and principle raised there and in other serious reflections; to get an idea of my reasons for my views, try here for a blog post written as a response to Mr Obama's endorsement as another, which pivots on homosexualisation of marriage as a watershed cultural and moral issue, and where it leads our civilisation . . . )] and plainly unprincipled bullying used to censor a publisher. I must repeat, there is and can be no moral equivalency between such slander by OM as has been hosted at TSZ for months and which is still being defended by you and your ilk through unscrupulous rhetorical stratagems, and the pattern that is evident even in the thread above, of your ilk’s denial and enabling of evil, twisted-about turn-speech accusations, projections of immoral equivalency that have no foundation, and promotion of outright censorship by bullying of publishers. And, this comes just after I took time to point to the exact nature of what was censored, as an obvious poisonous distraction from it, as in red herrings, led out top strawman caricatures deliberately loaded with ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, polarise and poison the atmosphere. A sorry spectacle. That after being corrected on such, you still try to play the twist-about rhetoric game in order to blame the victim of a slander speaks volumes, and none of it to your good. KF

  156. F/N 2: Pardon my taking a moment to go off-topic for UD, to document what it is that so excited OM and ilk to try to push me into the same boat with Nazis, linked from here:

    __________

    >>The concept of a watershed is a classic idea from Geography.

    There is an imaginary line, where if two raindrops fall on two sides of it, no matter how close, they fall into different drainage basins, and so could end up in oceans a continent apart.

    (Of course, (a) while two “drops” on different sides of a civilisational divide are still fairly close together, if one is on the wrong side, it is not too late to step back to the right side. But (b) the key thing about a watershed is that it naturally forces drops on either side farther and farther apart. So, (c) time is of the essence if the polarisation that a divide imposes is to be reversed. That is, (d) there is a window of decision, and time is not your friend, when you are on the wrong side of a watershed. And, let us never forget, that those who promoted various divisive heresies, and those who failed to handle them well in good time, between about the fourth and the early seventh centuries created the deep alienation and disaffection of Egypt and Syria, that opened the way for external invasion by the armies of the Islamic Caliphate. A house divided will not in the end be able to stand. [--> and yes, that is yet another relevant parallel drawn from history])

    That is where our civilisation now stands, at a kairos — a decisive moment and window of opportunity — where our history will move in one of two ways beyond this point, for good or ill: either we become reconciled now, or soon from now the polarisation being injected into the body politic by the radicals pushing a destructively divisive agenda will create more and more alienation and irreconcilable differences.

    *And, what is at stake today is the destruction or survival of marriage, the foundational institution of stable families and communities alike. {U/D, May 12:} As Girgit, George and Anderson observe in the just linked Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper:

    [T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea?tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law 10 and replace it with the revisionist [--> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .
    ———-

    F/N 10: Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar?riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws were not devised to oppress those with same?sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages] is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two?thirds of black vot?ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.

    [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, "What is Marriage?" Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 - 287. [--> I add, cf here on Masha Gessen's revealing remark]]

    Already, the force of the homosexualist civilisational divide is at work, driving people on opposite sides of the issue farther and farther apart, and creating the perception that those who stand up in defence of marriage as it has historically been established are little better than hateful, racist bigots. [--> this was said over a year ago]

    Which, is obscenely slanderous, but is increasingly routine.

    Indeed, this smear- and- demonise strategy is not calculated to foster dialogue and build a new consensus, but to shut it down, and to intimidate objectors to the homosexualisation of marriage — thus the destruction of its essential character. Then, eventually it is intended to crack down on those who insist on objecting, under the colours — but not the true substance — of law. Which, in some jurisdictions, has already begun.

    The polarising divide has begun.

    So, I am of the view that time is short, and we need to step back from the brink of a division being injected into our civilisation on the core nature of family that once it goes far enough cannot be healed and will do great harm. Harm, that zealous advocates of “fairness” and “rights” and even “progress” as they imagine them may not even fully understand.

    For instance, a claim to a right is in the end a moral claim that calls for respecting something inherent to our being made in God’s image.

    So, rights are not to be equated with political entitlements, and one cannot properly demand a “right” in defiance of the creation order established by God; here, that we are made in two complementary sexes, so that committed marriage is the foundation of family, stable child rearing and a stable community. There is and can be no right to destroy the foundation of a viable society by arbitrarily abusing political power or media and/or academic influence to mislead the public, and backing it up with the organs of state power. [--> observe the principles laid out here] That is, there is no such thing as a right to do evil based on falsehoods and then demand approval of evil by force of law.

    That, is injustice — just as was the notion that one man could steal and trade another, selling him or her to a “master” who then had the power backed up by state power to do anything he pleased with his slave.

    But, once slavery and the evil trade that fed it were deeply entrenched in the halls of power, it cost our civilisation a terrible fight, with much bloodshed involved, to root it out. [--> notice the historical parallel on what happens when a society entrenches evil under false colour of law backed up by economic and political interests]

    And yes, the evil that is now upon us, homosexualisation of marriage and family — thus, of community, education and law — in defiance of the patent creation order, is the full moral equivalent of slavery. For, if successful, it will impose an iron tyranny on the conscience; never mind cheap promises to protect sensibilities for the moment. After all, we are already seeing just how clearly ruthless radical factions will forever be demanding more, more and more until they get their way regardless of who else they must trample upon to get what they want. [--> note the issue of the principle of liberty vs license]

    Rights, to such, are simply the rewards of power.

    In short, we are back to the problem of nihilism: might (and manipulation) make “right” and “rights.” . . . >>

    [More there . . . and of course from Plato on it has been notorious that evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers open the door to just such nihilism, cf here.]
    __________

    Of course, this same pattern of trying to shut down open and responsible discussion is exactly what has motivated the bully-boy tactics used to censor the Proceedings of the conference held at Cornell two years ago.

    In short, the tactics being used by too many Darwinist supporters are all of a common pattern.

    Whether or not the radicals are willing to admit it.

    Most likely, not.

    Radicals like this are usually not open to either reason or pleas to decency.

    Let us hope, however, that enough ordinary people of common good sense will wake up to stop the mad rush of radicals to polarise, defame and marginalise those who challenge darwinist orthodoxy or radical homosexualisation or ever so many other partyline agenda items

    [ --> if you want to change create a crisis, so our time rushes from one manufactured crisis tot he next . . . all of which pursue the one and the same design through one and the same pattern of abuses and usurpations that trespass on our reluctance to stand up, often until it is too late . . . ],

    . . . before we pay a terrible price for our folly as a civilisation.

    KF

  157. Timaeus:

    Elizabeth:

    Thank you for your clarifications. I know that Nick will not respond to any questions from anyone he associates with the ID side. He may respond to you. If he is amenable to replying to you and allowing you to post either his actual words, or your own summary of his words, here, or on your site, that would be helpful.

    In that case, I will do so.

    I find it beyond belief that if the papers at the conference were largely substandard, that Springer’s internal and external review processes would not have uncovered this. One or two weak papers might have slipped through the net, but the whole set? That’s hardly credible. The way you and others represent ID science, it is so bad that even a non-specialist can see the errors in it. And the way Nick represents ID science, anyone can smell the “creationism” in it a mile away. So presumably, on Nick’s characterization of the likely quality of the papers he hadn’t read, at least every other paper would have been decaying refuse whose stench would give it away to a reviewer with even minimal scientific competence. But apparently this was not the reaction of the publisher or the reviewers. So were the papers accidentally sent out to the Three Stooges for review, instead of to profs at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, etc.?

    In my experience, papers get through peer-review when they are sent to reviewers out of field. This sometimes happens with papers that cross disciplinary boundaries. I’ve sometimes reviewed a paper that I thought was terrible, but has been approved by another reviewer, presumably not expert in the part of the paper that was terrible. And a lot of bad papers are nonetheless published.

    And I don’t think all papers by ID proponents are terrible. Usually those are the ones that are peer-reviewed!

    You say that third-party intervention *after a publisher has accepted a paper* is not particularly rare. I would like you to document this. I believe it may happen when a third party knows that a certain paper was plagiarized, has appeared elsewhere, etc. I do not believe it is very common outside of this. All the full-time scientists I know of are very busy people, who have their hands full with teaching, research, and peer-reviewing papers that they have been *asked* by journal editors to review; they have very little time left over to interfere in the peer-review process of other papers concerning which they had no initial involvement.

    Well, it’s rare in that papers are usually not publicly available before they are published! It may become more common now that e-pubs are available so much earlier than the paper version, and you certainly find emendations to the versions in print.

    So I shouldn’t have implied it was common. But it’s not that unknown. And, indeed, as I said, apparently BIOcomplexity pulled a paper by Bozorgmehr, because of what was posted at UD. Although knowing Bozorgmehr he might have made that up.

    I would guess that only 1 out of a 100 full-time scientists has ever, even once in his/her life, interceded as a third party to request that a publisher not publish *an already accepted paper*. And I would guess that in almost all such cases, the scientist in question has known something very specific about the contents of the allegedly problematic paper — either heard it read at a conference, or seen an early draft, etc. That certainly was not the case here. Matzke was not at the conference and had not read or seen early drafts of any of the papers; further, some of the authors were unknown to him and he would have had no way of judging the likely quality of their work. So this *was* unusual behavior under such circumstances.

    I would agree.

    In fact, I would say that third-party intervention even *before* a paper is accepted by a journal is relatively rare. Scientists are simply too busy doing peer-reviews of their own to be policing the peer-review process in other situations in order to make sure that the other peer-reviewers are doing their jobs well. And it would be professionally insulting in any case: a scientist wouldn’t walk into another scientist’s lab and tell the other scientist how to conduct his experiments (unless his advice was invited); so why would he write to a scientific publisher and say, “I hear you are thinking of publishing an article by Tom Smith, and I think Tom Smith’s work is trash, and I don’t think your usual reviewers, Bobby Jones and Glen Carpenter, are competent enough in the field to detect the trashiness of it, so I urge you to reject the article even if they recommend acceptance”? That would be an insult to the other reviewers, and to the publisher (implying that he was too ignorant in the field to appoint qualified reviewers). So I contend that this happens rarely. But if you think otherwise, document it, please.

    I grant you “rarely” :)

    But I still think that Springer are the incompetents here – either for accepting a book without adequately reviewing it, or rejecting it on spurious grounds following pressure.

    Ironically, on free speech grounds I defend Nick’s right to protest. Equally, I defend the book’s authors right to publish.

    As I keep saying, all I ask is that papers in a scientific imprint are properly reviewed.

  158. CS3,

    The compensation argument is just a restatement of the entropy equation for open systems, which in turn is a direct consequence of the second law. When Granville argues against the compensation argument, he is unknowingly arguing against the second law. If you want to join him in his folly, be my guest.

    It’s quite funny, actually. Granville sets out to show that evolution violates the second law, but he ends up inadvertently contradicting the second law himself!

    Besides incorrectly disputing the compensation argument, Granville also mangles his statement of it:

    Anyone who has made such an argument is familiar with the standard reply: the Earth is not an isolated system, it receives energy from the sun, and entropy can decrease in a non-isolated system, as long as it is “compensated” somehow by a comparable or greater increase outside the system.

    That is wrong, of course. The compensation argument, being a restatement of the entropy equation for open systems, requires a net export of entropy across the boundary of the system. An arbitrary increase in entropy in some arbitrary location outside the system won’t suffice.

    The entropy equation for an open system merely says that if the entropy of an open system decreases by a certain amount, then the net entropy exported from the system exceeds the entropy produced within the system itself by the same amount. That’s it.

    Granville is unhappy that it doesn’t do more than this. His frustration is palpable:

    One can still argue that it only seems extremely improbable, but really isn’t, that under the right conditions, the influx of stellar energy into a planet could cause atoms to rearrange themselves into computers and laser printers and the Internet.

    But one would think that at least this would be considered an open question, and those who argue that it really is extremely improbable, and thus contrary to the basic principle underlying the second law of thermodynamics, would be given a measure of respect, and taken seriously by their colleagues, but we aren’t.

    He is effectively saying that the compensation argument allows for entropy reductions on Earth, and evolution is an example of an entropy reduction; but he thinks evolution is improbable, so the compensation argument must be invalid. A total non-sequitur.

    Granville wants the second law to rule out evolution, but all it does is rule out violations of the second law. His skepticism about sunlight producing computers over the long haul is just your standard ID skepticism about evolution. The second law has nothing to do with it, because the second law is not violated by it.

  159. I think a lot of the confusion regarding Sewell’s paper results from a lack of familiarity with the compensation argument that it refutes. Thus, perhaps a summary of that argument, as presented by Styer and by Bunn, would be useful.

    They estimate how much more “improbable” some organism is than an ancestral organism, plug that and the time taken to evolve from the latter to the former into the Boltzmann formula, and then multiply by the number of organisms, to get a value, in Joules per degree Kelvin per second, for the entropy decrease due to the evolution. Then, they compare this value to the value for the increase in entropy in the cosmic microwave background. So long as the magnitude of the evolution entropy decrease is less than the magnitude of the cosmic microwave background increase, they conclude that “the second law of thermodynamics is safe.”

    When discussing Sewell’s work, critics will often say something along the lines that the influx of solar energy does make the appearance of humans, computers, etc. not extremely improbable. Certainly solar energy was necessary for the development of life, and one might argue that it could be considered a causative factor in the evolution of some features, such as photosynthesis. However, I cannot see how one could possibly argue that it is the causative factor for all of evolution. Does solar energy cause the mutations necessary to develop, say, a flagellum? Obviously not, so it is clear that Styer and Bunn are assuming that the increase in entropy in the cosmic microwave background need only compensate for, not cause, the entropy decrease in evolution.

    This illogical argument is what Sewell’s paper shows to be flawed, due in large part to the fact that they assume that “entropy” is a single quantity which measures (in units of thermal entropy!) disorder of all types.

  160. keiths:

    “Granville wants the second law to rule out evolution” — no, that is not his argument. He puts in many warning statements and precise qualifications in order to guard against that misinterpretation. You need to read his paper more carefully.

    cs3 has understood that Sewell’s paper is limited to a refutation of the usual versions of the compensation argument. The larger question, whether evolution is compatible with the second law, is not addressed.

  161. Even if one does not want to agree that there is an association with the Second Law, the following statement holds as a logical tautology:

    If an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering (or leaving), which makes it not extremely improbable.

  162. Timaeus,

    From the abstract:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    Granville is not “willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable.”

    Thus, by a simple deductive inference, Granville believes that “we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.”

  163. Timaeus: I agree. While Sewell may well personally believe that evolution is extremely improbable, his paper does not, and does not claim to, prove that. As you say, it is intended to refute the usual versions of the compensation argument. While intuition would certainly lead us to believe that humans and computers arising on a previously barren planet is, like a crushed bullet reforming or a mirror assembling from scattered glass, improbable, whether Darwinian mechanisms actually show that intuition to be wrong is a question to be decided by the biological evidence, not the Second Law.

  164. CS3,

    If there is no association with the second law (and there isn’t, as the entropy equation shows), then what’s left? Just Granville stating that he thinks evolution is improbable.

    Like every other IDer and creationist in the world.

  165. CS3,

    I’m guessing that you posted your #163 before seeing my #162, which explains why you and Timaeus are incorrect.

  166. “I know that Nick will not respond to any questions from anyone he associates with the ID side.”

    Nick has imo been rather patient responding to people here at UD. People ‘associated’ with IDism, like timaeus, are generally not worth wasting time on.

    “The way you and others represent ID science, it is so bad that even a non-specialist can see the errors in it.” – timeaus

    But timaeus, even you do not ‘insist on’ the absolute ‘scientificity’ of IDT. So your complaint is yet again empty rhetoric.

    “anyone can smell the “creationism” in it [IDism] a mile away.” – timaeus

    Yeah, of course, duh! Did you think people were too stupid to see this?

    timeaus, you sound like you have been so long out of the peer review process (2006 political science you said was your most recent publication) as to have little understanding of how publications work nowadays. Sure, you’ve published in a Discovery Institute Press book. But that’s not ‘normal’ in scholarly publishing.

    In regard to ‘publisher cowardice,’ show to us please timaeus where you have participated in ‘publisher courage’? I expect silence from timaeus.

  167. Elizabeth:

    I agree with most of your statements at the end of 157. As for:

    “As I keep saying, all I ask is that papers in a scientific imprint are properly reviewed”

    Nobody here disagrees with that! But as *I* keep saying, the inference made by Matzke, i.e., “Since these conference papers were accepted by the publisher, it follows that they couldn’t possibly have been properly reviewed,” is an illegitimate inference, given that he had not read a single one of the papers, and given that he had no acquaintance with the views of many of the authors.

    I could believe that Matzke acted in good faith if his communication to Springer had avoided all mention of “ID” “creationism” etc. and had posed a question like this:

    “Dear Sir or Madam:

    “I understand that you have undertaken to publish the proceedings of the BI conference held in Ithaca, NY. I was not at this conference and I have not myself read any of the papers, so I will not make any comment on their actual or potential contents, but may I ask — not necessarily intending to alarm you, but purely for informational purposes — were these papers individually reviewed by scientists in the relevant fields before being accepted for publication?

    “Sincerely,
    Nick Matzke,
    Ph.D. student, evolutionary biology”

    Such a letter could plausibly be construed as having been written in the interest of promoting good science, and not out of malice aforethought, because it would have avoided poisoning the well through the use of labels, emotive trigger words, and guilt by association. I fully expect, however (based on long experience of how Matzke operates), that the letter Matzke wrote was considerably more histrionic than this.

    That’s all I have to say on the subject, unless Matzke provides information that requires a new evaluation.

  168. Gregory:

    Don’t speak about matters of which you are ignorant. I have in fact been peer-reviewing scholarly articles and scholarly books for more than 20 years now, and am still doing so in 2013. I have been regularly praised by the publishers and editors for the thoroughness and care (and academic balance and fairness) of my peer reviews. Authors have even sent back praise to the editors saying how useful my comments have been. So I am quite aware of what is involved in the process when it is executed properly, and I fully support the notion of peer review. What I don’t support is prejudice which concludes in advance that a paper can’t possibly be any good when the paper has not been read.

    Your continued ad hominem remarks are unwelcome.

  169. “I fully support the notion of peer review.” – timaeus

    …except when it invalidates IDism, *after* the paper has been read by accredited scientists/scholars, especially by Abrahamic believers.

    As you are in fact an editor, a non-academic, (purposefully) non-tenured timaeus, my remarks speak to reality, not to the fantasy ideal you wish for.

    Have you peer-reviewed a single IDist paper for a professional (non-DI-sponsored) journal? No. Say otherwise if you wish to deceive people here, timaeus.

    You rhetorically ‘do not insist’ on ‘ID science,’ yet nevertheless intentionally propagandize for it. That’s a reality of on-line communication so far, timaeus. And it is sad in your case.

    Nick Matzske is a model of patience and academic disclosure compared with Expelled Syndrome (hide behind pseudonyms and fear) IDists like ‘timaeus.’

  170. For what it’s worth, at least one of the letters that was sent to Springer (by Bob O’Hara, a biostatistician) was posted at AtBC:

    Hi!

    (I’m not sure if you’re the correct person to contact about this, if
    you’re not, could you pass this on to whoever is responsible).

    I’ve just found out about your forthcoming book “Biological Information:

    New Perspectives”
    (http://www.springer.com/engine.....e+and+comp
    lexity/book/978-3-642-28453-3).
    This has the potential to be a controversial text (as the editors are
    all active in pushing Intelligent Design), so I’m wondering why it’s
    being published as an engineering text, rather than biology: it would
    seem to be a better fit there.

    Thanks in advance.

    He also posted the response:

    Dear Bob,

    thank you for your important mail concerning the planned book
    “Biological Information: New Perspectives”.

    The book has been acquired and reviewed by our experienced series
    editors of the book series “Intelligent Systems Reference Library”
    so it was a natural choice to publish it there under the umbrella of
    applied sciences. Thank you for your very valuable remark concerning
    Intelligent design, we will doublecheck the situation with the reviewers
    and the book editors and definitely will add a suitable Biology code.

    Do we have any information at all about who else wrote to Springer? Is there even any evidence that Matzke wrote to Springer?

    Also, I can’t find anything about a boycott

    Nick has a response to this thread here.

    I will post Timaeus’s questions in that thread.

  171. Gregory:

    I have never reviewed an ID paper for any academic publisher. *Nor did I ever say that I had.*

    I have, however, peer-reviewed scholarly books and papers on subjects other than ID, and that means I understand something of peer review. You challenged my knowledge of the peer review process. You were wrong to do so. I have been peer-reviewing for a lot longer than you have — if you have ever done any peer-reviewing at all.

    I support peer review for all scientific articles and books, whether they are written by ID proponents or not. And I have nothing against ID articles being rejected if they are truly rejected for being scientifically substandard, and not merely because they they advocate ID (or — as happens more often — do not even advocate ID but are merely written by someone known to be sympathetic to ID).

    I ask for *no* special favors for ID authors. I ask only that no special prejudice be brought into play against them. We know that in Granville’s case such prejudice was in fact brought into play; we know the same regarding the Sternberg-Meyer affair; and there is strong reason (pending clarification from Matzke) to think that such prejudice was brought into play regarding the BI conference papers.

    No one here is demanding “affirmative action” for ID papers. All that we want is a level playing field, with no behind-the-scenes manipulation of the normal publishing or editing processes. That’s simple procedural justice. It’s expected of every government and law court in the free world. It should be expected of academics (including scientists) as well.

  172. And the excuses for the inexcusable keep rolling on . . .

  173. Elizabeth BS Liddle:

    Except that it’s worth making the point that some of us think that ID papers (with a very few exceptions) really are bad science!

    LoL! Given what you accept as “good science” your opinion on ID means nothing.

  174. keiths is attacking Granville yet neither keiths nor any other evo can produce any eviudence to refute Dr Sewell.

    That alone is very telling…

  175. For anyone who still doesn’t get it, here is an explanation of Granville’s biggest error.

    The compensation argument says that entropy can decrease in a system as long as there is a sufficiently large net export of entropy from the system.

    Granville misinterpets the compensation argument as saying that anything, no matter how improbable, can happen in a system as long as the above criterion is met.

    This is obviously wrong, so Granville concludes that the compensation argument is invalid. In reality, only his interpretation of the compensation argument is invalid. The compensation argument itself is perfectly valid.

    The compensation argument shows that evolution doesn’t violate the second law. It does not say whether evolution happened; that is a different argument.

    Granville confuses the two issues because of his misunderstanding of the compensation argument.

    Since the second law isn’t violated, it has no further relevance. Granville is skeptical of evolution, but his skepticism has nothing to do with the second law.

    He is just like every other IDer and creationist: an evolution skeptic.

    You can see why this is a huge disappointment to him. Imagine if he had actually succeeded in showing that evolution violated a fundamental law of nature!

  176. 176

    From Granville Sewell’s paper, which Matzk’e attacks:

    “If an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering (or leaving) which makes it not extremely improbable.” Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    I have never played in Sewell’s argument, but there is something I find interesting, and others can choose for themselves if they find it interesting as well:

    The appearance of spaceships and computers on Earth is wholly dependent upon the appearance of biological organization, which is driven by information (i.e. form recorded in the arrangement of a material medium). So how does the second law relate to the appearance of the information that drives biology? I am sure there are many ways to answer this question, but one of them relates directly to the possibility (or impossibility) of information to exist in the first place – and specifically how biological information exists in the genetic medium.

    For information to be recorded in the arrangement of a medium, where that arrangement can be temporally translated into a physical effect unrelated to the medium itself, a system of symbols or representations are fundamentally required (i.e. semiotic constraint on dynamical effects). (NOTE: Here, a symbol is materially defined as an arrangement of matter/energy that can evoke a specific effect within a system, where the arrangement of the matter is physicochemically arbitrary to the effect it evokes).

    The focus then turns to how the second law of thermodynamics relates to the material symbol structures which make genetic information possible (i.e. the physical means by which genetic information is recorded in the genome). And this is what I find interesting.

    In a private correspondence, an acclaimed professor of Physics related the issue to me, thusly:

    One can derive from thermodynamic laws that stable structures are in some form of minimum energy state, e.g., see here. For one dimensional string structures like nucleic acids or words or bit strings there are an immense number of strings with the same minimum energy … That means that physical laws do not determine the sequence. That is, given no other information, the sequences are equiprobable. I argue that this is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for symbols and information storage.

    The eminent physicist Howard Pattee talked about this issue as well in several of his publications, specifically in terms of “rate-independence”, i.e. that genetic symbols are organized independent of the rate of exchange in energy (second law), even as they operate under those laws.

    Evolution requires the genotype-phenotype distinction, a primeval epistemic cut that separates energy-degenerate, rate-independent genetic symbols from the rate-dependent dynamics of construction that they control. This symbol-matter or subject-object distinction occurs at all higher levels where symbols are related to a referent by an arbitrary code.

    (and also)

    Physical laws and semiotic controls require disjoint, complementary modes of conceptualization and description. Laws are global and inexorable. Controls are local and conditional. Life originated with semiotic controls. Semiotic controls require measurement, memory, and selection, none of which are functionally describable by physical laws that, unlike semiotic systems, are based on energy, time, and rates of change. However, they are structurally describable in the language of physics in terms of nonintegrable constraints, energy degenerate states, temporal incoherence, and irreversible dissipative events.

    The genetic symbol is the nucleic triplet; a dimensional symbol structure. What is operative about the triplet within the genetic translation system is not locally derivable from thermodynamics. This is a material fact before we even get to the content of the information. So what has been demonstrated is rate-independent symbol structures controlling the rate-dependent dynamics of biological organization, leading to computers and spaceships. So it seems to me that we do not have a violation of the second law, but a local exclusion of the second law instantiated within a system. This exclusion has been proposed by logicians, identified by physicists, demonstrated by biologists, and repeatedly pointed out by IDist (at the absolute scorn of everyone else).

    So to Sewell’s argument, does the influx of rate-dependent energy on Earth make the appearance of rate-independent symbols within a local system more likely?

    Matzke’s answer is that he won’t debate the issue, at least not with an ID layman like myself. On the other hand, ID critics like Elizabeth Liddle are all too willing to propose their solutions. They propose that from rate-dependent transcription (i.e. pair bonding), rate-independent symbol structures will emerge.

    This view is then defended as a “plausible explanation”. Who can argue with that?

  177. UB @ 176:

    I can’t say I have taken adequate time to go through all of Dr. Sewell’s stuff, and I think there may be some difficulty with the way he is presenting things, but one aspect he is absolutely correct about is this:

    The whole “open system” vs. “closed system” business is utter nonsense. Anytime an evolutionist or abiogenesis proponent responds to the improbabilities of life arising or new systems coming into being by saying “Yes, but the Earth is an open system . . .” you can immediately take it to the bank that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and have no understanding of the issues on the table.

    The entire “Earth is an open system” is a complete red herring.

  178. keiths, all blah, blah, blah and still absolutely no evidence to support his position.

    We get it, keiths…

  179. Eric,

    You are advertising your ignorance. The distinction between open and closed systems is crucial in thermodynamics, physics and chemistry.

  180. I should add, more to UB’s specific point, we’ve had a discussion on another thread a while back highlighting the fact that law-like processes — and, yes, Virginia, that includes principles of thermodynamics — are anathema to the creation of information-rich systems. At best they do nothing; often, like in the case of certain thermodynamic processes, they are actually information destroyers.

    The only known way to get an information-rich system is for an intelligent being to create a system that is able to temporarily counteract or withstand the normal effects of law-like processes such as entropy and the like. And no, this does not mean that any laws of thermodynamics are being “violated.” It means the slow, relentless thermodynamic processes are temporarily held at bay through other principles (e.g., design, manufacturing, maintenance, etc.).

  181. keiths, the ignorance is all yours. Your position cannot explain living organisms regardless of the system.

  182. keiths:

    We are talking about things like the origin of life, the origin of information-rich systems, the origin of biological systems.

    There is absolutely nothing about, say, the Earth being an allegedly “open” as opposed to “closed” system that has any meaningful bearing on that whatsoever. It is a complete red herring, and anyone putting it forth as some kind of explanation or answer to the obvious challenges of something like OOL is “advertising their ignorance” of the issues.

    Alternatively, of course, feel free to enlighten us.

    Let’s say we have an early primitive earth with no life, but a bunch of chemicals floating around. We’re trying to figure out how those chemicals could come together to form life but no-one can figure it out. Then one day a light bulb goes off and someone excitedly jumps up and says, “Yes, but the Earth receives energy from the Sun — it is an open system!”

    Tell us, keiths, just how this openness changes the equation, making the implausible plausible?

    —–

    BTW, there is another, more basic point that I can make, but I’ll save it for later until you’ve had a chance to let us know your thoughts on the above.

  183. Eric,

    No one claims that OOL is a solved problem merely because the Earth is an open system. There are other requirements. It’s obvious — otherwise there would be no need for OOL research!

    You’re making the same silly mistake as Granville.

    Read my comment #175 above, in which I explain why the true red herring is Granville’s introduction of the second law into the argument.

  184. keiths:

    No one claims that OOL is a solved problem merely because the Earth is an open system.

    Not merely, no. But that isn’t what Eric is saying…

  185. The point being is the “open system” concept is used as some magical factor that allows for the unexaplainable to become explainable.

  186. keiths:

    As I said, I am not here to defend Granville, and I am most certainly not making the same alleged mistake you think he made.

    I am simply pointing out that the openness of the Earth is essentially irrelevant to things like OOL, whereas in the past I’ve heard abiogenesis proponents harp on the openness as though it solves some deep issue. It doesn’t, and I’m glad to see you agree.

    keiths @175:

    The compensation argument shows that evolution doesn’t violate the second law. It does not say whether evolution happened; that is a different argument.

    Granville confuses the two issues because of his misunderstanding of the compensation argument.

    Since the second law isn’t violated, it has no further relevance. Granville is skeptical of evolution, but his skepticism has nothing to do with the second law.

    He is just like every other IDer and creationist: an evolution skeptic.

    You can see why this is a huge disappointment to him. Imagine if he had actually succeeded in showing that evolution violated a fundamental law of nature!

    Well, the compensation argument, though simple in theory, is pretty questionable in practice, but that is a topic for another time. :)

    The second law of course isn’t violated — it can’t be. :) And Granville knows that.

    Here is where I think you might want to charitably consider that perhaps you are misunderstanding his argument. From what little I’ve read or listened to his arguments, it seems to me he is not saying that evolution violates the second law (obviously it can’t), but that the origin of information-rich systems or complex functional systems goes against the normal arrow of time we usually observe.

    Whether Earth is an open or closed system is irrelevant to that point. Whether (through some unknown mechanism, somewhere else in the universe) entropy is increased when life on earth first arises is irrelevant to that point.

    I’ve gone on record before questioning Granville about whether he is using the right terminology and whether it is helpful to frame his arguments in the context of the 2nd law.

    However, Granville is certainly not the one who thought up the concept of informational entropy and its relation (whether direct or by analogy) to the 2nd law. That is a principle that has been around for a while and was not thought up by ID proponents or evolution critics, but by information theorists.

    Personally, I still haven’t decided whether it makes sense to frame the issues Granville is trying to bring to light in terms of the 2nd law, or to just talk about information more generally, and so on. I’m reserving judgment until I’ve had a chance, if ever, to go through his arguments in a bit more detail.

    In the meantime, the openness of the Earth or the Solar System or the Galaxy or whatever system is, yes, singularly unhelpful in explaining the origin of life, the origin of biological information, the origin of complex functional systems. On that much, I can agree with Granville.

  187. Eric,

    The second law of course isn’t violated — it can’t be. :) And Granville knows that.

    Timaeus made the same claim:

    keiths:

    “Granville wants the second law to rule out evolution” — no, that is not his argument. He puts in many warning statements and precise qualifications in order to guard against that misinterpretation. You need to read his paper more carefully.

    cs3 has understood that Sewell’s paper is limited to a refutation of the usual versions of the compensation argument. The larger question, whether evolution is compatible with the second law, is not addressed.

    CS3 agreed with Timaeus’s statement.

    All three of you are wrong. As I explained to Timaeus:

    Timaeus,

    From the abstract:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    Granville is not “willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable.”

    Thus, by a simple deductive inference, Granville believes that “we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.”

    Ridiculous, isn’t it?

  188. keiths, I have said and will say again, I am not here to defend Granville’s use of 2nd law terminology at this stage, other than to point out that his application of the 2nd law to information is not unique to him. I hope at some point to go through his arguments in more detail and see if I can parse it all out. What I said is that Granville — like everyone else — obviously knows there can’t be a violation of the 2nd law. So perhaps his argument is a bit more nuanced than you are representing it — perhaps it is not simply “the idea of evolution violates the 2nd law and is therefore falsified.” There might be more to it that merits attention — even if one believes his use of terminology is poor. Maybe if I get a chance to go through his ideas in more detail I can report back on this point.

    What I will say is: (i) the open system idea is not a helpful concept for supporting abiogenesis/evolution, and (ii) the compensation idea is equally irrelevant and unhelpful. On (i), I am apparently in general agreement with Granville (as far as I have read his arguments); that is as much as I am willing to say at this point about my agreement with him. We haven’t discussed (ii), but you brought it up, so I thought it appropriate to mention it as well.

  189. Eric:

    What I said is that Granville — like everyone else — obviously knows there can’t be a violation of the 2nd law. So perhaps his argument is a bit more nuanced than you are representing it — perhaps it is not simply “the idea of evolution violates the 2nd law and is therefore falsified.”

    Eric,

    It’s right there in the abstract:

    Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

    Unless X, then Y.

    Granville denies X. Therefore Granville affirms Y.

    Simple logic.

    Substitute in for X and Y, and you find that Granville affirms that “we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.”

    Embarrassing, but true.

    Think about it. Why mention the second law at all if he doesn’t think that evolution violates it? He’s not going on about the conservation of energy, after all.

    Evolution doesn’t violate the first law. There is no reason to bring up the first law in discussions of evolution unless someone proposes a mechanism that does violate it.

    Evolution doesn’t violate the second law. There is no reason to bring up the second law in discussions of evolution unless someone proposes a mechanism that does vilate it.

    All that’s left is Granville’s belief that (macro)evolution is improbable, a belief that he shares with every other IDer and creationist in the world. Nothing new.

    Entropy has nothing to do with it, yet the title of his paper is Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems, and he affirms his belief that evolution violates the second law (or “the basic principle behind the second law”, whatever that means; a law is a law).

    It’s overtly, obviously bad science. Anyone who claims that the BI symposium was a serious scientific conference needs to explain how Granville’s paper got accepted.

  190. keiths:

    Your “killer” passage doesn’t prove what you want it to. Granville wrote:

    “Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.”

    The key word is “unless.” This leaves the door open for someone to *make* an argument “that the influx of solar energy etc.” Sewell takes no stand *in the article* on any such argument, except for the version of the compensation argument discussed in the article.

    So if there were, say, 50 different arguments that Darwinian evolution does *not* violate the basic principle behind the second law of thermodynamics, Sewell is claiming to have refuted only one of those arguments. As for the other 49 arguments, it is up to their champions to present them, and then Sewell might choose to write rebuttals to them as well.

    So, even if Sewell has indicated in various places that he personally does not think that anything can rescue Darwinism from the law of thermodynamics critique, that is irrelevant *to the argument of the article*. The argument of the article is limited to showing the inadequacy of certain versions of the “compensation” argument. And for those with open minds, the article performs that limited task very well.

    On another point: you say that you do not understand what he meant by “the basic principle behind the second law.” If you reread the article slowly, carefully, and with patience, instead of with a militant mindset determined to cut down the article merely because it’s an ID article, you will find that he explains what he means by that: the ultimate principle behind the second law, he says, has nothing to do with heat dissipation, energy dissipation, etc. (which is usually how the second law is understood, because of the “thermo” in “thermodynamics”); what happens to heat, etc. are in his view just special cases of a deeper principle, which concerns the relative probability of various states of organization. So his general theoretical point is: any “thermodynamic” argument against Darwinism is ultimately a *probablilistic* argument against Darwinism. And his specific thesis is that *one* defense against such a probablistic argument — the “compensation” defense — does not work. Which does not rule out the possibility that *other* defenses against the thermodynamic/probablistic argument could be successful. The “unless” concedes the possibility of such hypothetical defenses. But their validity or invalidity is not taken up by the article.

    I am not asking you to share Sewell’s beliefs — whatever they may be — about evolution and thermodynamics. I’m asking you to be scrupulously fair in responding to what he *argues*, as opposed to what you are convinced that he *believes*. And he doesn’t, in the article in question, claim to have proved that evolution is impossible because of the second law of thermodynamics. He claims to have refuted certain statements of the compensation argument. His *article* stands or falls on the strength of that refutation, not on his ultimate personal judgment regarding evolution and thermodynamics.

  191. Timeaus:

    Thanks for the summary @190. Very helpful.

    As I said, I haven’t spent a lot of time with Sewell’s specific article, but your summary will be helpful background if I get a chance to go through it in more detail.

  192. Eric:

    The whole “open system” vs. “closed system” business is utter nonsense. Anytime an evolutionist or abiogenesis proponent responds to the improbabilities of life arising or new systems coming into being by saying “Yes, but the Earth is an open system . . .” you can immediately take it to the bank that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and have no understanding of the issues on the table.

    The entire “Earth is an open system” is a complete red herring.

    It is, but probably not for the reasons you think :)

    Although when the answer you cite is given as the response to Sewell’s argument, it is understandable – because even if it were true that designed things have reduced entropy (and living things, like trees, do have less entropy than the material they are made of had before it was as a tree, which is why we can use wood as fuel), that is not a violation of the 2nd Law, because Earth is an open system – we receive energy from the sun, and while the wood of the tree represents a local decrease in entropy, it is more than “compensated” (Sewell’s term) by the increase in solar entropy. Taken as a whole system, including the sun, the 2nd Law is not violated by trees. Sewell agrees, and gets irritated when people assume he is saying this.

    Indeed, it isn’t the argument Sewell is making. The mistake he is making is far more fundamental.

    He really does not seem to understand the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. I’m sure he is a fine mathematician, but he is clearly not a physicist – in fact his argument can be seen to be fallacious by a HS student who has done Year 11 Physics (I know, because my Year 11 son pointed it out himself).

    Sewell is under the mistaken impression that thermodynamic entropy, which is sometimes called “disorder” means “disorder” in the sense of “mess” or “randomness”, regarding designed objects, for instance computers, or Boeing 747s, or a pre-tornado house, as “ordered” because they are not “random”, as a post-tornado house might be.

    He therefore claims that designed things are an exception to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, because by designing things, we increase the “order” of matter, and that this therefore violates the 2nd Law, and even the sun can’t help that much, because adding energy to a mess makes it worse not better (cf tornados).

    The problem is that the way Sewell defines “order” which he also, confusingly calls “complexity” is close to Demski’s definition of CSI – and quantified as a low-probability event. (Dembski refers to Shannon entropy as “complexity”, which leads to further confusion as we shall see).

    But “disorder” in the context of the concept of entropy doesn’t mean what Sewell thinks it means. In fact it means almost the opposite. Essentially, a high entropy state means a highly uniform state in which very few different rearrangements are possible. If you have 99 coins laid Heads up and 1 laid Tails up, there only 100 ways you can arrange them in a row (without turning them over). And if you have 100 Heads (or 100 Tails), there is only one. This means that these near-uniform or uniform coin-states are “high entropy” – but in normal English usage, they look “ordered”! If you threw them as a series of coin tosses, you’d (notoriously) claim: Design! On the other hand, if you have 100 coins of which 50 are laid Heads-up and 50 Tails-up, there are a vast number of ways in which you can re-arrange them, and almost all of them will look like random coin-toss sequences. The exposed coin faces are highly non-uniform – and therefore “low entropy”. Yet they look, in most arrangements, much more “random”.

    An unfortunately, Sewell equates “high entropy” with “randomness”. This is extremely misleading, and he is duly misled. A high entropy state is not “more random” than a low entropy state. Indeed, “random” is not a description of a pattern, or state, at all, but a process. A high entropy state is, however, more uniform.

    However, the opposite is true for Shannon entropy, aka Shannon information. The Shannon entropy of the 50:50 set of coins will have high Shannon entropy/information, whereas the Nearly-All-Heads set will have low Shannon entropy/information, In other words the amount of Shannon entropy is negatively correlated with the amount of thermodynamic entropy (represented by the arrangement of coins – whether they are mostly Heads, or more even split). As wiki has it:

    …in the words of G. N. Lewis writing about chemical entropy in 1930, “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more”

    Sewell claims that his “order” is the opposite of thermodynamic entropy. This would indeed make sense if he defined “order” as Shannon entropy/information. But, as we have seen, he doesn’t. He defines it as CSI – a specified pattern with high Shannon entropy/information, not any pattern with high Shannon information. As Dembski has been to great pains to delineate, these two things are not the same. Any pattern can have high Shannon entropy – if you dropped a bunch of carefully type-set registers of type ready to print the complete works of Shakespeare, swept up the bits and shovelled them back into the register, you’d have exactly as much Shannon entropy/information, as well as exactly as much thermodynamic entropy, as you started with (as long as you hadn’t missed any of the bits). However, neither Dembski nor Sewell would call the result “order”, or indeed “CSI”.

    In other words, the 2nd law of thermodynamics has precisely nothing to do with CSI, and therefore precisely nothing to do with the concept of “order” that Sewell thinks is a problem for “evolution”, or for the inference of design.

    A computer does not have less thermodynamic entropy than the same materials pre-construction. It’s probably about the same. We do not remove entropy when we design a computer. If it did have more thermodynamic entropy, than it started, then it would be liable to corrode or possibly ignite. And it doesn’t have more, or less, Shannon entropy/information, either, because that measure does not take sequence-order into account (hence Dembski’s and Sewell’s additional requirement of Specification for CSI). It certainly has more CSI, but CSI simply has no simple relationship with thermodynamic entropy. Most human artefacts have as much if not more thermodynamic entropy than their ingredients, with the exception of energy-storage materials we might make, like the hydrogen we might produce by splitting water molecules, or dynamite, or cement. But none of those things have much CSI. On the other hand, living things do have less thermodynamic entropy than their constituent parts, because they store solar energy in usable form (sugar in plants, for instance). So he might have a point if he was claiming that only designed things can store energy/reduce entropy. But the problem there is that the ability to convert energy into usable form is not unique to living things. Indeed, a tornado, although it creates “disorder” where “disorder” means what it means in normal English usage, actually does, often, reduce entropy (decrease uniformity). If a tornado picks up a large heavy object and dumps it in high tree, the result might not look like “order” to us, in the usual sense of the word – but we now have a configuration of stuff that can do work, even if only to make a big hole in the ground when someone pushes it back down again. Therefore it has less entropy than when it was parked on the road. So is a car up a tree after a tornado “designed”? Sewell is explicit that it is not!

    So the only conceivably valid point Sewell is making has nothing to do with the Second Law of Thermodynamics at all. Once you have removed the stuff that is wrong, we are left with a restatement of Dembski’s CSI argument: that only intelligence can create CSI (only he calls it “order” or “complexity”). Which I argue is invalid for other reasons, but maybe we can leave that for another time!

  193. And still no evidence that blind and undirected physical/ chemical processes are up to the task at hand.

  194. Timaeus:

    He claims to have refuted certain statements of the compensation argument. His *article* stands or falls on the strength of that refutation, not on his ultimate personal judgment regarding evolution and thermodynamics.

    Except that he doesn’t. There is nothing wrong with the “compensation” argument – there are indeed local decreases in entropy on earth, but these are achieved by virtue (mainly) of input of solar energy, we only get it because the entropy of the sun is increasing

    Granville is correct that the compensation argument doesn’t refute his, but that isn’t because it is wrong. It’s because it’s not the argument he’s making. It took me a long time to see exactly what he was saying, but it isn’t that the sun can’t cause local entropy decreases on earth (as he made clear when he responded to the obvious question: how do plants grow?)

    As I try to explain above, his error is much more fundamental than that: he has simply misunderstood the word “order” when thermodynamic entropy is described as “disorder”. It’s a notoriously bad description, and “non-uniformity” would be a better one. And design is simply not necessary to increase “non-uniformity”. A tornado will do it.

    Here is Sewell’s error. He defines Order (Footnote 1) thus:

    note that in this paper, “order” is simply defined as the opposite of “entropy.”

    However, throughout the paper, he uses the word “order” to mean the opposite of “chaos”:

    I was discussing the second law argument with a friend recently, and mentioned that the second law has been called the “common sense law of physics.” The next morning he wrote:

    Yesterday I spoke with my wife about these questions. She immediately grasped that chaos results in the long term if she would stop caring for her home.

    I replied:

    Tell your wife she has made a perfectly valid application of the second law of thermodynamics

    And there you have it. No, the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not say that chaos never decreases in a closed system. It says that entropy never decreases.

    Designers may decrease chaos; but that does not mean that design violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. A messy house may be more chaotic than an “ordered” one (mine is), but it has no more, or less “entropy” than an ordered one.

    Although it may, come to think of it, have a little less, if I’m still in it, because I have done no work to clear it up.

    The first and second laws of thermodynamics

  195. Timaeus,

    It’s great that you and Eric are trying so hard to cover up Granville’s mistake, because it shows that you know how serious a mistake it is. To say the evolution violates the second law is atrociously bad science, and the two of you clearly recognize that.

    Eric even states point blank:

    The second law of course isn’t violated — it can’t be. :) And Granville knows that.

    Unfortunately, Granville does not know that. On the second page of his paper, he writes:

    In my 2000 Mathematical Intelligencer article, “A Mathematician’s View of Evolution”, I argued against this view, asserting that the increase in order which has occurred on Earth seems to violate the underlying principle behind the second law of thermodynamics, in a spectacular way. [Emphasis mine] I wrote:

    I imagine visiting the Earth when it was young and returning now to find highways with automobiles on them, airports with jet airplanes, and tall buildings full of complicated equipment, such as televisions, telephones and computers. Then I imagine the construction of a gigantic computer model which starts with the initial conditions on Earth 4 billion years ago and tries to simulate the effects that the four known forces of physics would have on every atom and every subatomic particle on our planet. If we ran such a simulation out to the present day, would it predict that the basic forces of Nature would reorganize the basic particles of Nature into libraries full of encyclopedias, science texts and novels, nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers with supersonic jets parked on deck, and computers connected to laser printers, CRTs and keyboards? If we graphically displayed the positions of the atoms at the end of the simulation, would we find that cars and trucks had formed, or that supercomputers had arisen? Certainly we would not, and I do not believe that adding sunlight to the model would help much.

    (By the way, Timaeus, you seem to have missed that passage or overlooked its significance. What were you saying about reading the paper carefully? :))

    In that passage, Granville argues quite clearly that he thinks there had to be a violation of “the underlying principle behind the second law of thermodynamics” in order for encyclopedias, computers and aircraft carriers to appear on Earth.

    (And of course he’s conflating design complexity with negentropy, which is the error Lizzie described in her last couple of comments. It’s very tiring keeping up with Granville’s mistakes.)

    Granville’s paper is crap science. The fact that it was accepted shows that the BI organizers were not conducting a serious scientific conference. Springer was right to quash publication.

  196. Read that passage I quoted again. Let it sink in. Granville isn’t just arguing that the second law was violated on Earth, he is actually arguing that the four fundamental forces cannot explain what happened here either!

    What an embarrassment for ID.

  197. Franklin quotes:

    Eric Merkel-Sobotta, executive vice president of corporate communications at Springer in Germany, said in an e-mail, that the initial proposal for the book was peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers. “However, once the complete manuscript had been submitted, the series editors became aware that additional peer review would be necessary,” Merkel-Sobotta said. “This is currently underway, and the automatically generated pre-announcement for the book on Springer has been removed until the peer-reviewers have made their final decision.”

    I had missed this. It seems my original assumption was more or less correct – that the proposal had been reviewed prior to the advertisement, but not the actual material.

    In that case, while it is possible that the letters they received (I know now of two: Bob O’Hara and Sparc) precipitated the withdrawal of the ad, clearly Springer should have had the actual manuscript reviewed before finally accepting it for publication.

    I hope they would have done this anyway. So either the letters were unnecessary, or Springer was about to publish a manuscript they had not reviewed.

    I trust everyone agrees that the manuscript should have been reviewed.

  198. keiths:

    Are you even trying to listen?

    “To say the [sic] evolution violates the second law is atrociously bad science,”

    *Sewell’s article did not argue that.* That is what we have all been telling you, but you aren’t listening.

    Read it again, without anger, without pride, and without thinking “I’m gonna show the world this ID guy is full of crap.” Read it to understand what he is arguing. Abandon your preconceptions of what he is *probably* arguing (’cause he’s an ID guy) and follow what he *is* arguing. He is very cautious, and he tried to write his article in such a way as to forestall misunderstandings such as yours. But even the most careful author can’t prevent *willful* misunderstandings.

    His article is meant to show the inadequacy of the “compensation” argument. His article may fail to do that. But that is all that it tries to do. It does not try to prove that evolution is incompatible with the second law. It leaves that question unsettled.

    I have been making a literary argument here, not a scientific one. Your *reading* is inaccurate. You want to criticize Sewell for view you believe that he holds, but your job, if you are evaluating a *paper*, is to criticize only the argument he makes in the *paper*. It doesn’t matter if he holds a thousand stupid or false views, if they aren’t argued for in the paper.

    Sewell’s personal conclusion regarding evolution and thermodynamics may be wrong. His thesis in his paper about the compensation argument may also be wrong. But they are two different things. So *first* show he has been unfair to the compensation argument, and failed to refute it. *Then*, if he writes a paper somewhere else, asserting point-blank that evolution is incompatible with the laws of thermodynamics, hammer him for that conclusion, based on what he writes in *that* paper.

    In short, your academic procedure here is what is illegitimate. And that’s generally the case with attacks on ID papers — at least, those which appear on the internet. The writer is almost always too eager to show that the ID writer is wrong about *everything*, and this results in sloppy, careless, unfair, and uncharitable reading.

    I’ve made *no* defense of Sewell’s personal views here. I haven’t even defended the conclusions of this particular article! I’m merely demanding a responsible reading of the article.

    Don’t drag Elizabeth’s criticism in. She is criticizing a point of Sewell’s *scientific contents*. That is fair game. But your criticism is based on a misreading of the structure and purpose of the article, a misreading which must be all the more frustrating for Sewell, given how hard he tried to circumscribe his argument.

    As for your final emotive dismissal of the contents of the article, please let us know the scientific achievements you have, which enable you to judge that Sewell’s paper is “crap science.” If you haven’t done any science, how would you know? List me your science degrees and scientific publications, please. Particularly in the fields of thermodynamics, probability theory, and other fields close to the subject of the article. Or you just another internet bluffer, faking much greater acquaintance with science than you actually have, like 90% of the people who post on Panda’s Thumb, Talk Origins, Pharyngula, Recursivity, Sandwalk, etc.?

    I really weary of this culture-war garbage. If the anti-ID movement had even an ounce of honesty in it, it would *occasionally* say things like (and these are purely hypothetical examples corresponding to nothing in particular in ID works): “Behe makes a good point about a defect of current evolutionary theory, even if his own account of evolution is very unsatisfactory”; or “Dembski has made some faulty assumptions in his probability discussion, and he should have been more careful, but to be fair to him, though his error means that the probability of life’s arising due to chance is 10^15 higher than he claims, it is still very, very low.” Etc. Just the odd statement like that, *once in a while*. Then people could believe that the anti-ID crowd were arguing in good faith. But as was said above by someone else, there’s an unwritten rule that no ID critic should ever grant a point to an ID writer. This is what makes these internet debates academically dishonest and epistemologically worthless.

    I was at first impressed with your comments here, keiths. They seemed sane, balanced, moderate. I thought: “At last, an anti-ID person who is reasonable, and whom I can respect.” But with your refusal to budge even an inch before polite and thoughtful responses here, and with your typical yahoo comment about “crap science,” you appear to show your true colors. You’re apparently just another thug, like 95% of the internet anti-ID crowd. Too bad. You may have the brains to be something better than that. But you’ve chosen the low road. Like Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, Matzke, Shallit, Moran, Myers, Petrushka, Nakashima, and so many others.

  199. Elizabeth:

    Of *course* the articles should have been reviewed! And Springer should *not* have advertised that it was going to put out the book until it had read and approved not only the general proposal but also at least the majority of the individual articles.

    What still remains unclear to me is:

    (a) Did Springer have the articles externally reviewed, find the reviews mostly positive, then advertise the book, and only *later* (after hearing from Matzke or whoever it heard from) change its mind about publication? or

    (b) Did Springer approve the general concept of the book, then advertise the book, and only afterward look for reviewers for the individual articles, to make sure they were good?

    If the process was (b), then Springer was behaving incompetently. And since it is allegedly a good science publisher, this incompetence is surprising and requires explanation.

    If the process was (a), then there are two possibilities: (i) warned by outsiders, Springer looked more closely at the papers, decided that the papers were not very good, and pulled the book; (ii) warned by outsiders, Springer looked more closely at the papers, saw no problems with them, but chickened out because the “ID word” had been mentioned, and they wanted no association with ID people, whether the papers were good, poor, or indifferent.

    If the actual case was (i), then Springer’s decision was reasonable; if the actual case was (ii), then Springer’s decision was spineless. And when governments, officials, judges, universities, publishers, etc., start making spineless decisions, tyranny is just around the corner (whether it’s the tyranny of a special interest or the tyranny of the mob).

    We *know* that in the case of the MI article of Sewell, the decision was based on spinelessness. The editor declared that there was no technical inadequacy in the article. It was pulled because Sewell is an ID guy and the journal didn’t want to be embarrassed by the association, not because the journal thought the article was bad. The decision was political, not academic.

    It is still not clear to me whether spinelessness was a factory in the Springer case. No one seems to be able to provide a crystal-clear timeline that gives the order of events. And of course, precisely if there was some less than proper behavior involved, those responsible are not about to provide us with a clear timeline. Only if everything was on the up-and-up would all parties be glad to be clear about exactly what happened, and when, and why. So I still smell something rotten in Denmark. (Or wherever Springer is located.)

  200. Timaeus,

    I’ll address the rest of your comment separately, but let’s concentrate for now on the scientific quality of Granville’s paper.

    Let’s even set aside, for the moment, the contentious issue of what Granville thinks about evolution and the second law.

    Even with that out of the way, this fact remains: Granville thinks that what has happened on Earth cannot be explained by the fundamental forces of nature. Read the passage I quoted. His meaning is absolutely clear.

    He offers no evidence for his assertion other than a pure argument from incredulity. He describes an imaginary computer simulation of the Earth, and then flatly states:

    If we graphically displayed the positions of the atoms at the end of the simulation, would we find that cars and trucks had formed, or that supercomputers had arisen? Certainly we would not, and I do not believe that adding sunlight to the model would help much.

    He also offers no evidence for any unknown or magical force that can explain what has happened on Earth.

    Do you consider that good science? Does anyone?

  201. timaeus: What still remains unclear to me is:

    (a) Did Springer have the articles externally reviewed, find the reviews mostly positive, then advertise the book, and only *later* (after hearing from Matzke or whoever it heard from) change its mind about publication? or

    (b) Did Springer approve the general concept of the book, then advertise the book, and only afterward look for reviewers for the individual articles, to make sure they were good?

    It appears that you aren’t considering a third option. That third option would be that the proposal submitted and reviewed by Springer was not representative of the final product. If that is the case then it may have been by design or perhaps inadvertent on all the authors part.

    timaeus: No one seems to be able to provide a crystal-clear timeline that gives the order of events.

    That would also include the authors of the submitted manuscripts as well. I can’t help but wonder why the authors would not present the review they submitted so a comparison could be made between that and the manuscripts. I do agree that something smells fishy but it might be coming from Springer. But as you state why won’t all parties provide the material you wish were available?

  202. keiths:

    I never undertook to debate the contents of Sewell’s paper. I do not necessarily defend every statement in it; in fact, I think I disagree with several statements in it.

    Your italicized summary statement about the four forces lifts Sewell’s words out of context and rearranges them into a proposition, but they were originally a hypothetical question along the line of: “Would our computer simulation predict such an outcome, if only the four fundamental forces of nature [sc. and no intelligent planning or guidance] were involved?” And he suggests the answer, “No, our simulation wouldn’t predict that.” And I would agree with that as it stands, because the blind processes generated by four natural laws would not throw out computers, televisions, etc. Nor does the most diehard atheist materialist think they would.

    Yet Sewell’s scenario is misleading, because the theory of evolution doesn’t claim that the blind forces of nature have produced TVs, planes, etc. The theory of evolution says that evolution produced *man*; planes etc. were not evolved but *manufactured by man*. The two processes, evolution and manufacture, are quite different, and I think Sewell introduces unnecessary confusion by treating “evolution” as if it runs from atoms to machines.

    But suppose we change cars, TVs, planes, etc. to “man”; would Sewell’s statement be bad science then? I don’t see why. Stephen Jay Gould tells us that evolution is highly contingent, that if you rewound the tape, you would get a different result each time. If he is right, a computer simulation would *not* predict the emergence of man — at least, not as any more than one out of many, many possible outcomes (lifeless planets, planets with only unicellular life, planets with nothing higher than reptiles, planets with primates but without man, planets where the bear line or the octopus line reached human-level intelligence, etc.). So Sewell’s remark, as it stands, wouldn’t be in conflict with Gould’s notion of evolution.

    Now if Sewell said that man was, not an unlikely, but an *impossible*, outcome of the four natural forces, then I would say that he was being dogmatic, and hence unscientific. But I don’t see that as his argument — not in the paper we are talking about, anyway.

    In any case, I’ve always thought that, in Sewell’s various versions of this argument, the discussion of TVs, planes, computers, etc. is the feeblest part of the presentation; it isn’t necessary for his argument, and could be excised. He could go straight to the question of thermodynamics and its alleged connection with the possibility of evolution. And that’s in fact what most of the article in question is about — with the planes, trains etc. examples serving only to get in the way and obscure the subject, which is the evolution of living forms, not the appearance of high-tech manufactured products.

  203. Timaeus:

    I never undertook to debate the contents of Sewell’s paper.

    You have got to be kidding me. Our entire discussion has been about Granville’s paper, whether it constitutes good science, and whether it should have been accepted by the BI organizers. This entire comment of yours, for example, is about nothing but the contents of his paper.

    You’ve made statements like “Sewell’s article did not argue that…” and “His article is meant to show…” How could those statements NOT be about the contents of the paper?

    Have you suddenly gotten cold feet about defending the paper, Timaeus?

  204. Timaeus,

    Regarding Granville’s statement about the fundamental forces, you write:

    And I would agree with that as it stands, because the blind processes generated by four natural laws would not throw out computers, televisions, etc. Nor does the most diehard atheist materialist think they would.

    Again, are you kidding? The brain is a physical object, like any other. It behaves according to the laws of physics. There is absolutely no evidence of any unknown or magic force that “animates” the brain and creates intelligence.

    Yet Granville makes this forceful statement:

    If we graphically displayed the positions of the atoms at the end of the simulation, would we find that cars and trucks had formed, or that supercomputers had arisen? Certainly we would not, and I do not believe that adding sunlight to the model would help much.

    He says he’s certain that we would not see those things. What’s his evidence? He thought about a simulation. That’s it. He thought about it.

    It’s hard to imagine a more ridiculous scenario:

    1. Person proposes that there must be a new force of nature.
    2. This would be worthy of a Nobel Prize if he were correct.
    3. Person has no evidence for this force.
    4. When asked why he thinks this force exists, person responds that he

    a. …thought about a simulation…
    b. …that cannot be run in reality…
    c. …that also cannot be analyzed in reality…
    d. …but he’s certain he knows what the result would be.

    If you think this paper should have been accepted at any scientific conference in the world, then all I can say is:

    You have got to be kidding me.

  205. keiths re 203:

    You seem to have trouble understanding the difference between “establishing what argument an author is making” and “assessing that argument to determine its worth.”

    You cannot do the second thing until you have done the first thing.

    Hence, I and several others here have tried to make sure that the first thing has been done, and done properly, in the case of the Sewell paper.

    You, on the other hand, have wanted — without first being absolutely clear about what Sewell’s thesis *is* — to say “his thesis is wrong, wrong, wrong.” That has been my objection.

    Repeating myself again will do no good. So I’m done.

  206. Timaeus

    (b) Did Springer approve the general concept of the book, then advertise the book, and only afterward look for reviewers for the individual articles, to make sure they were good?

    If the process was (b), then Springer was behaving incompetently. And since it is allegedly a good science publisher, this incompetence is surprising and requires explanation.

    According to Franklin’s link, this is what the Springer spokesman said had happened. Actually, worse: the implication was that they considered their review of the “proposal” adequate, but decided that “further review would be necessary” after representations had been made.

    As I said, I don’t find it that surprising, because often agreement to publish conference proceedings are made before the conference (i.e. on the basis of a “proposal”, before the papers are more than abstracts, which will have been reviewed by the conference organisers).

    In fact, it appears that my original assumption was actually correct, and what the people who protested to Springer achieved (I still have no direct evidence that Matzke was one of the people who wrote) was “further review” i.e. review of the actual papers, as opposed to the proposal and possibly abstracts.

    To that extent, yes, it seems as though the letters did in deed result in full review – but, according to you, review that should have happened anyway.

    There is a good reason why citations to “conference proceedings” do not normally carry the same weight as citations to peer-reviewed papers – they are often only reviewed by the conference committee, and usually only the abstracts.

    That’s fine, because no implication of full peer-review is implied – and you could object that this should have happened here, but didn’t because those pesky pandas forced full peer-review.

    But if your position is that the conference proceedings should have been fully peer-reviewed, then all the pandas did was ensure that they were.

    In light of all this, I’d say that yes, it looks as though the panda letters did result in a book of conference proceedings receiving fuller review than would normally be done, and more than non-ID conference proceedings would have done. You could legitimately call this bias.

    But not because Springer were bullied into rejecting a book they had previously accepted after full review, but because they were “bullied” into fully reviewing a book that they had approved on the basis of a “proposal” only (probably with abstracts).

    Hence my scare quotes round the second “bullied”. I don’t think they were “bullied” – I think they thought “yikes, didn’t realise this was ID, we’d better check the quality of the papers”.

    And, having read many of them now, including Sewell’s, which is indeed a repetition of his already well-known argument, I would agree that at least some of them simply do not meet the minimum criteria for peer-reviewed science.

  207. Timaeus,

    Scientific papers are judged by their contents. The contents of Granville’s paper are awful. Based on those contents, and using Granville’s own words, I have shown that Granville:

    1. Mistakenly asserts that “the increase in order which has occurred on Earth seems to violate the underlying principle behind the second law of thermodynamics, in a spectacular way.

    2. Titles his paper Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems without realizing that the second law is actually irrelevant to his improbability argument, since it is not violated by evolution.

    3. Misunderstands the compensation argument and incorrectly rejects it.

    4. Fails to understand that the compensation argument is a direct consequence of the second law, and that by rejecting it he is rejecting the second law itself!

    5. Fails to realize that if the compensation argument were invalid, as he claims, then plants would violate the second law whenever their entropy decreased.

    6. Asserts, with no evidence, that physics alone cannot explain the appearance of complex artifacts on Earth.

    7. Offers, as evidence for the above, a thought experiment involving a simulation he can neither run nor analyze.

    8. Declares, despite being unable to run or analyze the simulation, that he is “certain” of the outcome, and that it supports his thesis.

    9. Confuses negentropy with complexity, as Lizzie explained.

    10. Conflates entropy with disorder, as Lizzie explained.

    Granville was unable to defend his paper, so he bailed out of the thread. You are now retreating also — probably a wise move. It remains to be seen what Eric and CS3 will do.

    If Lizzie and I are able to expose egregious faults in Granville’s paper, using his own words, and none of you are capable of defending it, then how can you claim that his paper was good science that deserved to be accepted by the BI organizers?

    By accepting Granville’s paper, the organizers showed that the BI was not a serious scientific conference. Springer did the right thing in refusing to publish.

  208. Timaeus:

    In any case, I’ve always thought that, in Sewell’s various versions of this argument, the discussion of TVs, planes, computers, etc. is the feeblest part of the presentation; it isn’t necessary for his argument, and could be excised. He could go straight to the question of thermodynamics and its alleged connection with the possibility of evolution. And that’s in fact what most of the article in question is about — with the planes, trains etc. examples serving only to get in the way and obscure the subject, which is the evolution of living forms, not the appearance of high-tech manufactured products.

    It wouldn’t help. His argument would then simply be no more or less than Dembski’s. We can debate Dembski’s, and do, regularly, but the point is that it isn’t the “TVs, planes, computers, etc.” that are irrelevant to Sewell’s argument, but the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    And if the title and abstract of your article includes a claim that the existence of designers and designed-things violate the 2nd Law, then saying that the article would be fine without the 2nd Law part doesn’t make the paper valid!

    In fact, I’d say that if anything, what the 2nd Law implies is that interventionist design by an immaterial designer would be a violation of the 2nd law.

    But is quite different from saying “design, therefore 2nd law violated”.

    Material designers do not violate the 2nd law. Only if material designers were designed by immaterial designers is the 2nd law violated.

    But the inference of such a violation would an implication of that conclusion, not a reason to conclude it.

  209. Timaeus

    You seem to have trouble understanding the difference between “establishing what argument an author is making” and “assessing that argument to determine its worth.”

    You cannot do the second thing until you have done the first thing.

    In some cases, the two have to go hand in hand. It is extremely difficult to see what argument Sewell is making because it makes so little sense, and is based on so much apparent misunderstanding of basic physics.

    The fundamental problem with his paper, in my view, is that he does not understand that “order” is not the same as “negentropy” (thanks, keiths, I had forgotten that word!), and, specifically, that negentropy does not mean “not-chaos”. At first reading it is extremely difficult to know why he keeps on going on about tidy houses being related to the 2nd Law, because they are not! It’s only when you (or I) finally realise that he actually thinks that a tidy house has more negentropy than a messy house that your (or my) jaw drops.

    It’s a bit like getting to the end of a bad piece of math homework, seeing that the answer is wrong, but having to go through the work line by line until you find just where the key mistake has been made!

    Of course it’s possible that the answer is nobel-prizewinningly right after all, but not in this case.

  210. Some final (!) thoughts on Sewell (it would be good if he would comment):

    The reason we know his “answer” is wrong is that if it were the case that a designing mind can violate the 2nd Law – that a designed house has less entropy than a tornado-wrecked house – we would have an instant solution to our energy crisis.

    All that would be required would be to design something “improbable” with spent fuel – and then re-use it. Or even just get an army of housewives to tidy a bank of houses each day, a second army of kids to mess them up again, and use the released energy to drive a generator.

    But of course designed things do not usually have less entropy than non-designed things, and when they do, they do not have it courtesy of a designing mind, but courtesy of increased entropy elsewhere (in the fuel used in the process, for instance).

    I have hunch where Sewell is coming from. I think he is thinking of Maxwell’s Demon, a thought experiment in which a tiny “intelligent agent” shunts high energy molecules through a hole into one compartment, and low energy molecules out through the same hole, resulting in a heat differential where there was none before – and a decrease in entropy.

    The reason of course that this would not be a violation of the 2nd law is that the demon needs to eat. And indeed, by “feeding” the “demon” in a fridge, that’s exactly what we do.

    But if we think it possible that minds are immaterial, and can therefore do the shunting without fuel, then indeed minds would violate the 2nd Law. In fact, that’s my big objection to the notion of an “immaterial mind” – if it’s immaterial, how does it affect the brain (move ions around to make neurons fire) without violating the 2nd law?

    And if it does violate the second law, why can’t we use our minds to create usable energy stores?

    Granville’s mistake, in effect, is to think we can, because he really does think that a messy house has more entropy than the same house after an inteliigent housewife (eyeroll!) has tidied it up.

    It’s quite extraordinary, even given that Sewell is not a physicist.

    It’s possible, I guess, that he has never tidied a house :)

    And thus never experienced the resulting urgent need for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

  211. Timaeus:

    We *know* that in the case of the MI article of Sewell, the decision was based on spinelessness. The editor declared that there was no technical inadequacy in the article. It was pulled because Sewell is an ID guy and the journal didn’t want to be embarrassed by the association, not because the journal thought the article was bad. The decision was political, not academic.

    I agree that the MI was spineless, but not because there was “no technical inadequacy in the article”. Clearly the article is technically inadequate. The editors didn’t have the “spine” to say “oops, we really messed up here, our review process was inadequate”. So it just paid up, said something nice to Granville, and hoped the problem would go away

  212. Timaeus:

    Not a response from Nick, but here is one from “Eric” at PT:

    Eric replied to a comment from Elizabeth Liddle | July 2, 2013 12:58 PM | Reply

    Elizabeth Liddle said:

    Some questions from Timaeus at UD, which I have promised to pass on:

    I would like you to ask him [Nick Matzke]:

    1. Did he in fact honestly believe that Springer had accepted the papers without actually reading them?

    2. If so, why did he believe this?

    3. If he thought they *had* read them, why did he think they still needed his advice? Did he think this publishing house, one very competent by his own judgment, needed his correction?

    4. Did he have any qualms at all about advising a publishing house not to publish papers he had not read, at least some of which were by authors about whom he knew nothing?

    5. Did Nick, in his communication with Springer, make any direct *or veiled* threats of leading a boycott of the book if they went ahead with publication?

    6. Did Nick do anything at Panda’s Thumb, or anywhere else, to encourage anyone to boycott the book if it were published?

    7. Did others, because of Nick’s action, threaten any boycott of the book if it were published?

    Elizabeth, I look forward to hearing back from you, and indirectly from Nick, on this matter.

    I am in no way Nick, nor do I speak for him, but…

    1 & 2: Nick excerpts from a Springer Web Page that implies the book is already set for publication. For example, the Springer page says “Due: March 31, 2012 $179.00.” All of the commenters seem to take it for granted that the book is set for publication too. Timaeus could have checked this himself, because the link to Nick’s original (Feb 2012) article is right there at the bottom of this one.

    3-6: Again, the link to Nick’s original article is right at the bottom of the page – Timaeus should just go read it and judge from him/herself! Now, if he wants my interpretation of Nick’s original article, I can give that: this article is typical Panda’s thumb reporting and editorializing on a current event. No message to Springer or boycott of Springer is either mentioned or implied. Stylistically, its no different from the many many “look how the media industry got it wrong again” type of articles PTers publish.

    7: Another question Timaeus could’ve answered, by going to Nick’s article and checking the 150 comments it generated. Are there any calls for boycott? No. Did anyone interpret it as a call for a boycott? No. Did anyone respond that they were going to give Springer a piece of their mind? No.

    Its unclear to me why Timaeus didn’t just look for the answers himself. The link’s right there.

  213. Elizabeth @192:

    Although when the answer you cite is given as the response to Sewell’s argument, it is understandable – because even if it were true that designed things have reduced entropy (and living things, like trees, do have less entropy than the material they are made of had before it was as a tree, which is why we can use wood as fuel), that is not a violation of the 2nd Law, because Earth is an open system – we receive energy from the sun, and while the wood of the tree represents a local decrease in entropy, it is more than “compensated” (Sewell’s term) by the increase in solar entropy. Taken as a whole system, including the sun, the 2nd Law is not violated by trees. Sewell agrees, and gets irritated when people assume he is saying this.

    The compensation idea is, frankly, silly. The reason a tree can exist has nothing to do with the fact that the Earth is an open system and the tree’s reduced entropy is “compensated” by increased entropy at the sun. Otherwise, tell me, please, what physical mechanism alerts the Sun to the fact that there is a tree growing on the Earth and, therefore, the Sun should increase its entropy? :)

    —–

    Thank you for the detailed summary of your understanding of Sewell’s argument. It looks like you have some interesting thoughts. I’ll juxtapose that with Timaeus’ summary if I get a chance to go through Sewell’s argument in more detail. Looks like a new thread just got started on this topic, so maybe I’ll swing over there for any further discussion.

  214. Granville has started a new thread defending his paper. The discussion has moved there.

  215. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Re: Your 211 above:

    I want to make sure we are talking about the same Sewell article. Above, I said the publisher was “MI” (Mathematical Intelligencer), but I meant to say Applied Mathematics Letters. This was the journal that pulled Sewell’s article, after it had been approved by peer-review, and ended up apologizing to Sewell and paying him a settlement. You seem to know the case I mean, even if you, like myself, referred to “MI” — which is an error. So, can you confirm we are talking about the same case?

    Now, assuming we are talking about the same case, here is your published opinion on the article which was pulled from AML:

    “I agree that the article should have been published, and I can see why it passed peer-review. I think it’s a very clarifying article.”

    —Elizabeth Liddle, June 8, 2011, reply #12 under:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....m-journal/

    Now, above (211), you seem be saying, about the same article:

    “The editors didn’t have the “spine” to say “oops, we really messed up here, our review process was inadequate”.

    I’m confused. How can you say that “[the] review process was inadequate,” yet also say “I agree that the article should have been published, and I can see why it passed peer-review”?

    Are these two judgments incompatible? If so, who is right, the Elizabeth of 2013 or the Elizabeth of 2011?

  216. keiths:

    I have not yet noticed any reply to my question about your qualifications to distinguish “crap science” from “serious science”; I guess I will have to draw my own conclusions, based upon my own perceptions of your level of scientific knowledge, and of your reasoning skills.

    On another matter, you wrote:

    “By accepting Granville’s paper, the organizers showed that the BI was not a serious scientific conference. Springer did the right thing in refusing to publish.”

    I suspect that I have a good deal more experience in attending academic conferences than you do. And in my experience, the organizers of a conference — especially exploratory, interdisciplinary conferences like the BI conference, where the whole idea was to push the horizons outward a bit, explore new possible connections between different scientific areas — do not police papers in detail beforehand. They usually ask only for abstracts or outlines of the paper to be submitted beforehand. They then make a judgment, based on the abstract or outline, and based on the area of competence of the writer, whether the writer’s paper would make a suitable contribution to the overall goals of the conference. Once accepted, the papers are then read at the conference, and the audience at the conference — an audience of the peers of the paper-writers — questions and criticizes the presentations. (And believe me, there was much criticism of some of the papers at the BI conference — this was no audience of unthinking yes-men.) The authors then take the criticism home, digest it, and rewrite the paper accordingly, usually with the goal of publishing it in some journal somewhere. The “pre-criticism” of their conference peers thus helps them to write a better journal article.

    So conference papers are not supposed to be perfect gems of polished science! Some are; and if they are, that’s great. But more often, they are diamonds in the rough, and need further work. In accepting Granville’s submission, the BI conference was not automatically endorsing everything he would say on the podium; it was saying: this line of investigation is plausible enough that the other people of the conference will want to hear about it.

    A much more important line of quality control than the conference is the journal or scientific book publisher. The journal or book publisher does not want rough stones; it wants fairly polished ones. They don’t have to be *perfect*; everyone knows that scientific arguments can be more or less persuasive, and that what some readers find a strong argument, other readers will find a weak one. So even a journal or book article can’t be expected to strike every single journal or book reader as flawless and incontestable; but still, the article must be in pretty good shape, or it won’t be published.

    Now, let’s look at what you’ve said. You’ve said that the publisher was right to reject the *conference* proceedings because of the quality of *one article* that came out of the conference. Wouldn’t it be more logical for the publisher to have told the conference organizers: “We will publish the other papers, but not this one, because it’s not good enough?” Why cancel *the whole volume* because *one* paper was not good enough? Or, suppose that two or three out of maybe 20 or 30 papers were not up to standard? Why not delete those papers and publish the rest?

    The whole justification of the outcry about the book by the Darwinists is that they wanted to alert the publisher to the possible low quality of the papers. Fine; let’s say the publisher reviewed the papers (which it should have done, anyway, prior to any outcry and long before it advertised the book), and found that 15% of them were not up to standard. So what? It could have published a smaller book, with fewer papers. Less expensive and easier for scientists to afford.

    So even if we take the best possible interpretation of the Matzke gang’s motives (ahem!), and even if we allow that some of the papers at the conference were weaker than others, and were not good enough to be published, that *still* doesn’t justify sacking the whole book.

    But we *know* the real reason why the book was sacked. The book was sacked because of its ID associations. No matter how good the papers were, some feeble excuse would have been found to extricate the publisher. (As we saw in the Sewell AML case, where the publisher, after accepting the peer-reviewed article, suddenly [after finding out Sewell had ID associations] decided it was more philosophical than scientific. Right!)

    And by the way, I have seen many conference volumes in many different academic subjects, and I know from experience that the quality of papers in conference volumes is very often uneven. Readers do not expect that every single paper in a conference volume will just blow them away with brilliance and expertise. They are happy if the majority of papers are competent and if the volume contains a few strikingly new insights. (Just as you think you’ve bought a good basket of fruit if only a few of the pieces are on the soft side, most of the pieces are reasonably firm and tasty, and a few are perfect in texture and delicious in flavor.)

    So again we have a double standard going on here: any *other* scientific conference volume is OK if some of its papers are clunkers, and overall they average just slightly above the mediocre middle; an *ID* conference volume can’t have *any* weak papers, or it’s obviously just creationist drivel that shouldn’t be published.

  217. Timaeus,

    I have not yet noticed any reply to my question about your qualifications to distinguish “crap science” from “serious science”…

    Well, first of all, you bailed out of the thread in a feigned huff, so I didn’t think you were still expecting a reply:

    Repeating myself again will do no good. So I’m done.

    (You were right, by the way. Repeating yourself wouldn’t have done any good. Instead of repeating yourself, you would have been better off responding to my arguments.)

    Second, my qualifications are irrelevant to the validity of my arguments. If you think my criticisms of Granville’s paper are invalid, then tell us exactly why, and back up your assertions. It’s the beauty of internet anonymity: the strength of the arguments is what matters, not the authors’ credentials.

    Third, have you overlooked the irony? You’re asking about my scientific qualifications and whether they entitle me to judge Granville’s paper. What about your scientific qualifications to judge my scientific judgment of Granville’s paper?

    In the end, of course, credentials don’t matter. By the quality of his arguments, each of us demonstrates (or fails to demonstrate) his competence. It says something about your (lack of) confidence that you would prefer to compare credentials instead of actually debating.

  218. Timaeus,

    Regarding the rest of your comment, I don’t think you realize just how bad Granville’s paper is. It’s not just middling or mediocre; it’s awful. Way out on the left tail of the distribution. Read my summary again, keeping in mind that it isn’t even a complete list of the problems with Granville’s paper!

    You write:

    The journal or book publisher does not want rough stones; it wants fairly polished ones. They don’t have to be *perfect*; everyone knows that scientific arguments can be more or less persuasive, and that what some readers find a strong argument, other readers will find a weak one. So even a journal or book article can’t be expected to strike every single journal or book reader as flawless and incontestable; but still, the article must be in pretty good shape, or it won’t be published.

    Granville’s paper isn’t “fairly polished” or “in pretty good shape”. It’s as rough as #12 sandpaper and in worse shape than an intensive care patient.

    It didn’t deserve to be published by Springer or any other reputable publisher.

  219. keiths:

    I showed that you had misunderstood what Sewell was trying to prove in the paper. That’s all I undertook to show.

    *You* wanted to go on raging against what you thought Sewell privately believed (i.e., you think he believes — even though he did not argue for it in the paper — that the second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution). I’m saying, if you want to argue about Sewell’s private beliefs, write to him and tell him you think his private beliefs are nonsense. Or, if he makes those private beliefs public and argues for them in a paper, criticize *that* paper. I’m only talking about the current paper.

    As for your other remarks, you don’t believe them yourself, in anything that relates to your own personal health and safety. Would you really want your government’s decision regarding, say, meat inspection rules, or birth vaccinations, decided by an internet free-for-all, in which millions of people posted their arguments and opinions in forums like this? No, you would want your government to listen to, not a bunch of pseudonymous quacks who had taught themselves medicine by reading Wikipedia articles or watching TV talk shows, but health-care experts with serious university training in meat science, epidemiology, and so on. You’d rather have experts than people who sound really good in argument but don’t know really know what they’re talking about.

    How many times on the internet have you run up against hobbyists and cranks, who keep repeating the same arguments, and keep saying: “You can’t refute my argument, so I’m right! HA!” ? And when you *do* refute their argument, they don’t recognize it as a refutation, because they are too stupid or too ignorant to realize how stupid or ignorant they are. They think *your refutation* is wrong. And if finally, in disgust at their stubbornness and stupidity, you say, “Look, I have a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy, and I’ve spent 30 years thinking about problems like this, and you by your own admission failed tenth-grade science, and I tell you the earth is not flat,” they will always reply: “You can’t argue from qualifications! It’s only the evidence that matters …” But of course argument from evidence has already failed, so the only thing left to say is that you have training, the other person doesn’t, and leave the discussion. You can’t cure the other person’s ignorance; but if you can leave in him (or her) the sting of feeling uneducated, that may arouse him to better himself by getting some education, so that he can better compete with you in argument. And by the time he has completed that education, the argument will be over, because he will agree with you. And the world will be a better place because there is one less fool in it.

    Are you aware of how “debates” are settled behind the scenes on Wikipedia? Do you think the disagreeing parties all advance very rational arguments, and agree like gentlemen and ladies that the final Wikipedia article will represent only the best arguments, and that they will humbly lay all their original views aside in order to achieve that aim?

    Fat chance! The final Wikipedia articles represent the views of those with the most endurance, the most free time on their hands to watch the site in the wee hours of the morning and reverse all the changes to what they wrote, and who are the most willing to insult and browbeat other contributors until they give up. And if anyone dares to say, “Excuse me, but what are your qualifications on this subject? Based on your remarks, you don’t seem to understand it at all, whereas I teach the subject at Harvard,” what is the response? “Qualifications don’t matter; it’s all how well you document what you say.” And if you say in return: “Yes, there must be documentation, but you are using biased sources who share your own prejudices, written by untrained people who do not understand the subject”; they then start arguing that their sources are just as good as yours (even though they aren’t); and the argument goes on forever. And since Harvard professors have teaching responsibilities, and essays to grade, and research to do, and families to raise, whereas 22-year-old single male computer geeks have infinite time to argue on Wikipedia, they always get their way, and the more knowledgeable person doesn’t get his.

    In a *real* encyclopedia, on the other hand, an editor who knows what he is talking about appoints writers who know what they are talking about — world experts — to write the articles, and the opinions of 22-year-old computer geeks on international finance, Islam, evolution, etc. are thankfully omitted. That is why you can trust a serious encyclopedia most of the time (not all of the time), whereas you can never trust Wikipedia and always have to check its statements against a source that is written by experts rather than autodidacts.

    In an ideal world, where everyone had the purest of motivations, and felt the *moral obligation* never to argue off the top of their head, never to literature-bluff, never to make up their mind on an issue until they had studied it in depth, never to argue ad hominem, never to use rhetoric, and never to stubbornly hold to a position when they have been shown to be wrong — I would agree with you, in a world like that, we wouldn’t need qualifications, just the best argument: intellectual honesty plus the *sense of duty* that drove people to study before speaking, would produce the right results. But we live in a world full of egomaniacs who fake and lie and pretend they know more than they know, and use rhetoric and sarcasm and ad hominem remarks to get others to back down, and who will not *ever* grant a point to the other side even when deep down they know the other side has a point. So saying, “all that matters is the strength of the argument” is right in theory; but in practice, it means that everyone can argue interminably for every position, without any resolution, since there are no judges (the principle of expertise having been rejected) who can step in and say: “This guy is right and this other guy is a fraud who talks glibly but doesn’t know the first thing about the subject.”

    If you really believed your own principle, you would never go to a school to get qualifications in anything, you would just stand on a street corner and argue with everyone you met about every subject, including subjects about which you knew nothing, and would make up your “truth” from what seemed to you to be the “most reasonable” arguments you encountered. And 90% of what you would end up believing would be folklore, urban legend, propaganda, lies, and other forms of misinformation. But I bet you have gone to school, to get a computer science or engineering degree or the like. So you do think that some people are experts who know more than others, and you do have to take on faith to some extent the expertise of your teachers (you can’t argue out every single thing they tell you or you will never finish your degree). In practice expertise, and the acknowledgment of expertise, is necessary in the world. The imagination of a world where no one has any qualifications, but everyone just argues, and everyone accedes to the best argument out of love of truth, is a nice fantasy, but it corresponds to no world that will ever be inhabited by human beings (as opposed to angels).

  220. Timaeus,

    I showed that you had misunderstood what Sewell was trying to prove in the paper… *You* wanted to go on raging against what you thought Sewell privately believed ..

    No. Read my summary again. Everything in it is based on what Granville wrote in the paper itself.

    As for your other remarks, you don’t believe them yourself, in anything that relates to your own personal health and safety. Would you really want your government’s decision regarding, say, meat inspection rules, or birth vaccinations, decided by an internet free-for-all, in which millions of people posted their arguments and opinions in forums like this? No, you would want your government to listen to, not a bunch of pseudonymous quacks who had taught themselves medicine by reading Wikipedia articles or watching TV talk shows, but health-care experts with serious university training in meat science, epidemiology, and so on. You’d rather have experts than people who sound really good in argument but don’t know really know what they’re talking about.

    Timaeus, dude — take it easy. You’re getting all worked up.

    I haven’t argued that meat inspection rules should be “decided by an internet free-for-all.” Your imagination is running a bit wild here.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Second, my qualifications are irrelevant to the validity of my arguments. If you think my criticisms of Granville’s paper are invalid, then tell us exactly why, and back up your assertions. It’s the beauty of internet anonymity: the strength of the arguments is what matters, not the authors’ credentials.

    You continue, blood pressure clearly rising:

    How many times on the internet have you run up against hobbyists and cranks, who keep repeating the same arguments, and keep saying: “You can’t refute my argument, so I’m right! HA!” ? And when you *do* refute their argument, they don’t recognize it as a refutation, because they are too stupid or too ignorant to realize how stupid or ignorant they are. They think *your refutation* is wrong. And if finally, in disgust at their stubbornness and stupidity, you say, “Look, I have a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy, and I’ve spent 30 years thinking about problems like this, and you by your own admission failed tenth-grade science, and I tell you the earth is not flat,” they will always reply: “You can’t argue from qualifications! It’s only the evidence that matters …” But of course argument from evidence has already failed, so the only thing left to say is that you have training, the other person doesn’t, and leave the discussion. You can’t cure the other person’s ignorance; but if you can leave in him (or her) the sting of feeling uneducated, that may arouse him to better himself by getting some education, so that he can better compete with you in argument. And by the time he has completed that education, the argument will be over, because he will agree with you. And the world will be a better place because there is one less fool in it.

    Dang, Timaeus. I think I know what your hot-button is now.

    Steam begins to jet out of your ears:

    Are you aware of how “debates” are settled behind the scenes on Wikipedia? Do you think the disagreeing parties all advance very rational arguments, and agree like gentlemen and ladies that the final Wikipedia article will represent only the best arguments, and that they will humbly lay all their original views aside in order to achieve that aim?

    Fat chance! The final Wikipedia articles represent the views of those with the most endurance, the most free time on their hands to watch the site in the wee hours of the morning and reverse all the changes to what they wrote, and who are the most willing to insult and browbeat other contributors until they give up. And if anyone dares to say, “Excuse me, but what are your qualifications on this subject? Based on your remarks, you don’t seem to understand it at all, whereas I teach the subject at Harvard,” what is the response? “Qualifications don’t matter; it’s all how well you document what you say.” And if you say in return: “Yes, there must be documentation, but you are using biased sources who share your own prejudices, written by untrained people who do not understand the subject”; they then start arguing that their sources are just as good as yours (even though they aren’t); and the argument goes on forever. And since Harvard professors have teaching responsibilities, and essays to grade, and research to do, and families to raise, whereas 22-year-old single male computer geeks have infinite time to argue on Wikipedia, they always get their way, and the more knowledgeable person doesn’t get his.

    Your eyeballs begin to bulge out of their sockets:

    In a *real* encyclopedia, on the other hand, an editor who knows what he is talking about appoints writers who know what they are talking about — world experts — to write the articles, and the opinions of 22-year-old computer geeks on international finance, Islam, evolution, etc. are thankfully omitted. That is why you can trust a serious encyclopedia most of the time (not all of the time), whereas you can never trust Wikipedia and always have to check its statements against a source that is written by experts rather than autodidacts.

    In an ideal world, where everyone had the purest of motivations, and felt the *moral obligation* never to argue off the top of their head, never to literature-bluff, never to make up their mind on an issue until they had studied it in depth, never to argue ad hominem, never to use rhetoric, and never to stubbornly hold to a position when they have been shown to be wrong — I would agree with you, in a world like that, we wouldn’t need qualifications, just the best argument: intellectual honesty plus the *sense of duty* that drove people to study before speaking, would produce the right results. But we live in a world full of egomaniacs who fake and lie and pretend they know more than they know, and use rhetoric and sarcasm and ad hominem remarks to get others to back down, and who will not *ever* grant a point to the other side even when deep down they know the other side has a point. So saying, “all that matters is the strength of the argument” is right in theory; but in practice, it means that everyone can argue interminably for every position, without any resolution, since there are no judges (the principle of expertise having been rejected) who can step in and say: “This guy is right and this other guy is a fraud who talks glibly but doesn’t know the first thing about the subject.”

    Flames shoot out of your nostrils:

    If you really believed your own principle, you would never go to a school to get qualifications in anything, you would just stand on a street corner and argue with everyone you met about every subject, including subjects about which you knew nothing, and would make up your “truth” from what seemed to you to be the “most reasonable” arguments you encountered. And 90% of what you would end up believing would be folklore, urban legend, propaganda, lies, and other forms of misinformation. But I bet you have gone to school, to get a computer science or engineering degree or the like. So you do think that some people are experts who know more than others, and you do have to take on faith to some extent the expertise of your teachers (you can’t argue out every single thing they tell you or you will never finish your degree). In practice expertise, and the acknowledgment of expertise, is necessary in the world. The imagination of a world where no one has any qualifications, but everyone just argues, and everyone accedes to the best argument out of love of truth, is a nice fantasy, but it corresponds to no world that will ever be inhabited by human beings (as opposed to angels).

    Wow. I hope you have calmed down a bit since you wrote that. Your imagination (and emotions) were really getting the best of you.

    I have not argued that qualifications and credentials are useless, Timaeus. Far from it. They are extremely useful in employment or admissions decisions, for example. It is impossible to get a full and accurate picture of a person’s skills and experience from a couple of interviews. In those situations, credentials can be a useful substitute for long acquaintance.

    But internet commenters are not asking you to hire them or admit them to your school. They are merely presenting an argument. You don’t need the complete picture of their background, their abilities, or their experience. You can judge each comment on its merits and move on to the next.

    It should be clear to anyone with experience in the world that credentials do not always signify competence. There is no need to rely on them when assessing comments on a blog. Isn’t this obvious?

    Why demand a display of credentials when an argument stands or falls on its own validity?

  221. 221

    This, which was ignored by E. Liddle from another post:

    E. Liddle said:

    “Modelling the expected distribution under some kind of process in which each “draw” is independent from prior “draws” is clearly not a model of Darwinian processes.”

    Bpragmatic responded:

    I don’t believe that in the OOL phase of “evolution”, the laws of physics and chemistry (darwinian processes are beholding to) would be anywhere near as charitable to the material formation requirements as would “independent draws” as you seem to imply with the above statement.

    In fact I would propose that there is a clear cut scientific case for asserting that some sort of guiding intelligence is required to overcome the IMPOSSIBILITY of certain component relationships from developing guideded purely by the laws of physics and chemical reactions.

    Liddles response: NOTHING.

    Why deal with reality questions when you can continue to pull the “discussions” down the rabbit trail to nowhere. Especially when it achieves the personal goals of: ?????

    Lizzy, come clean. You have no clue when it comes to applying your alleged “expertise” regarding probabilities and mathematical conclusions towards requirements of OOL.

    I know that if you do respond to my statements, it might be because you think you have “bigger fish to fry”. I really dont know. But, if you can respond to this post in a way that scietifically supports your position, I am looking forward to that.

    I hope your sink is clean.

  222. 222

    This, which was ignored by E. Liddle from another post:

    E. Liddle said:

    “Modelling the expected distribution under some kind of process in which each “draw” is independent from prior “draws” is clearly not a model of Darwinian processes.”

    Bpragmatic responded:

    I don’t believe that in the OOL phase of “evolution”, the laws of physics and chemistry (darwinian processes are beholding to) would be anywhere near as charitable to the material formation requirements as would “independent draws” as you seem to imply with the above statement.

    In fact I would propose that there is a clear cut scientific case for asserting that some sort of guiding intelligence is required to overcome the IMPOSSIBILITY of certain component relationships from developing guideded purely by the laws of physics and chemical reactions.

    Liddles response: NOTHING.

    Why deal with reality questions when you can continue to pull the “discussions” down the rabbit trail to nowhere. Especially when it achieves the personal goals of: ?????

    Lizzy, come clean. You have no clue when it comes to applying your alleged “expertise” regarding probabilities and mathematical conclusions towards requirements of OOL.

    I know that if you don not respond to my statements, it might be because you think you have “bigger fish to fry”. I really dont know. But, if you can respond to this post in a way that scietifically supports your position, I am looking forward to that.

    I hope your sink is clean.

    Another question:
    Can the paid nde propoganda machine come up with some one who can really demonstrate valid arguable positions on these issues?

  223. keiths (220):

    Well, glad we got that cleared up. :-)

    The first hot button was your phrase “crap science.” If you had written, “I don’t agree with *this sentence* of Sewell’s” or “I think the argument in *this paragraph* is invalid” I would not have got steamed up. But you dismissed the whole article as “crap science.” Such a sweeping judgment requires a large and long acquaintance with “good science.” So I wanted proof of that acquaintance. But you chose to hide behind the “qualifications don’t matter, only the argument does” bit — which I’ve seen before (99.9% of the time from people without qualifications), and while I can accept that for “point criticisms,” I simply won’t accept that for judgments that sound like they are coming from Moses. That magisterial tone was the second hot button.

    One characteristic of most highly-trained academics that I know (and of scientists, in my experience, even more than, say, philosophers, sociologists, or historians) is that they hesitate to render judgments outside of their field; or, when they do venture outside of their field, it is usually only to a closely-related field, and even then, they render all their judgments tentatively, with caveats. You don’t find a professor of engineering, for example, reviewing a botany article and saying that it is “crap science.” (You don’t in fact find him reviewing a botany article at all.) Even a physics article, unless it was in a branch of physics that overlapped with the engineering prof’s expertise, the engineer would probably not be reviewing at all, judging himself not competent; and if he did venture some remarks, they would be guarded, cautious, and limited to his expertise. They would also avoid words like “crap.”

    But on the internet, many people with nowhere near the technical expertise of an engineering professor will pick up any article they feel like reading, skim it for ten minutes, decide they hate the conclusion, and then feel competent to argue about it on the internet to the tune of thousands of words, for a week or even a month, rendering judgment on it. So, e.g., an anthropologist or psychologist might a read a paper about thermodynamics and evolution, and not have the slightest hesitation to render a damning judgment on it, not having the slightest doubt that perhaps, in jumping into a subject (thermodynamics) in which he had next to no training, he might be combating ignorance with imperfect knowledge of his own. And a computer programmer who has not taken a biology course since tenth grade might read a book by Behe, and pronounce it “crap science,” and then fiercely defend that judgment with secondhand arguments picked up off the internet, without the slightest worry that maybe she is a bit short of the relevant knowledge to make such a judgment. I find this lack of intellectual humility, this willingness to jump into argument mode at the drop of a hat, with minimal or no study, just a quick read and then full speed ahead, arguing by the seat of the pants, to be one of the worst things about the internet culture.

    The question for me is *why* so many non-specialists, and in some cases even non-scientists (lawyers, etc.) want to jump in on science debates and take sides, and why they aren’t more shy of saying something that is unfair, unreasonable, uninformed, etc. What pleasure does anyone get out of “faking it” under a pseudonym? I mean, if a computer programmer *knows* that he doesn’t know as much about biochemistry as Behe, and knows evolutionary theory only by hearsay, never having taken even one undergrad biology course, what drives such a person, not simply to *raise questions about possible weaknesses* in Behe’s arguments, but to *aggressively attack* Behe, denouncing his work as crap science? I wouldn’t *dream* of publically arguing, even under a pseudonym, that Hawking’s physics is “crap science” — even if I thought it was. I would discipline myself to learn a *lot* about cosmology before I dared to utter a peep against Hawking. I would do *at least* an undergrad degree in physics and astronomy before I would venture a *cautious* disagreement; and a sweeping denunciation, I would not venture I until I had a Ph.D. like Hawking. And even then I would not use the word “crap” to characterize his errors.

    So answer me this, keiths: why aren’t the bloggers at Panda’s Thumb, TalkOrigins, Pharyngula more like me? Why are they not much more hesitant to denounce *every single ID author*, including ID authors who are writing in fields that are *not* fields the bloggers have any significant training in? (E.g., we often have a computer programmer with B.S. degree certain Meyer is wrong about origin of life, a biologist with B.S. degree certain that Dembski is wrong about graduate-level information theory, a physics B.S. who has never taken a biochemistry course denouncing Behe’s remarks on proteins, etc.) Why are these people not more intellectually humble? Why are they not more conscious of the possibility that they could have badly misunderstood someone’s argument (especially since many of them bad-mouth ID works they haven’t read)? Why aren’t they more willing to give and take points in discussion, working on the assumption that maybe someone else knows as much science, or more, than they do, and that (gasp) that person may be on the ID side? Why the arrogance? Why the swaggering? Why the posturing? Why the supreme confidence?

    Can you explain *any* of this to me, keith? If you can, I’d be grateful. It would educated me in a dark, mysterious corner of human psychology which is alien to my nature, and which I need help understanding.

    Best wishes.

  224. Timaeus,

    I hope that was cathartic. :) I’m glad you’ve cooled down a bit.

    Your questions deserve a thoughtful response. I don’t know for sure when I’ll be able to address them because of the holiday, though, so if you don’t hear from me right away, don’t think I’m ignoring you.

    In the meantime, something for you to think about. You asked above why

    …so many non-specialists, and in some cases even non-scientists (lawyers, etc.) want to jump in on science debates and take sides, and why they aren’t more shy of saying something that is unfair, unreasonable, uninformed, etc.

    You realize that Granville is a mathematician, right? He is neither a physicist nor a specialist in thermodynamics. In short, he is exactly what you are complaining about in that quote.

    (So am I. I am an engineer, not a physicist.)

    Is it really so hard to believe that someone might make fundamental mistakes in a field outside his area of expertise? (Evidently not, since that is exactly what evokes your concern in the quote above.)

    Is it really so hard to believe that someone else, who was a bit more careful and more familiar with the subject, would be able to catch those mistakes?

  225. bpragmatic:

    Liddles response: NOTHING.

    Only because I didn’t see your response – the discussion seems to have moved to Granville’s thread.

    E. Liddle said:

    “Modelling the expected distribution under some kind of process in which each “draw” is independent from prior “draws” is clearly not a model of Darwinian processes.”

    Bpragmatic responded:

    I don’t believe that in the OOL phase of “evolution”, the laws of physics and chemistry (darwinian processes are beholding to) would be anywhere near as charitable to the material formation requirements as would “independent draws” as you seem to imply with the above statement.

    That is perfectly valid, because we don’t currently have a good model of OOL. But nobody is suggesting that it is is “random draw” – chemistry is not “random draw”.

    In fact I would propose that there is a clear cut scientific case for asserting that some sort of guiding intelligence is required to overcome the IMPOSSIBILITY of certain component relationships from developing guideded purely by the laws of physics and chemical reactions.

    Well, indeed, and this is the ID position.

    I am not persuaded by any “scientific case” that has so far been put. Rejecting the null of “random draw” does not do it, nor does claiming that living things violate the 2nd Law of thermodynamics. They don’t.

  226. One point I would make, Timaeus, is that empirical scientists in any field do have a general training in science, because science is “joined up”.

    The reason I have weighed in on Granville’s 2nd law argument is not because I am a physicist and he is not (neither of us are) but because my training enables me to see that his assertion that designed things (human artefacts, and indeed biological organisms) constitute a violation of the 2nd Law of thermodynamics is based on a quite obvious conflation of the word “disorder” as used sometimes to describe thermodynamic entropy, and “disorder” as used to describe the mess in a junkyard after a tornado has been through it.

    He also, like many ID scholars, equivocates (not deliberately I’m sure) with the word “probability”. As I keep saying, and I expect you agree, “probability” is not the property of a state but rather an estimate of the expected frequency of that state given a specific generative process.

    A hexagonal snowflake is a highly “improbable” arrangement of water molecules in liquid water; however it is a highly “probable” arrangement of water molecules in cold damp air.

    Labelling certain arrangements of matter (people; computers; bacterial flagella) as “improbable” is meaningless, unless you specify the process under which those arrangements are improbable.

    That is the flaw in both Dembski’s argument, and in Sewell’s. However, Sewell adds an additional and egregious error by claiming that organisms and artefacts themselves constitute a violation of the 2nd Law.

    No, they don’t, because it doesn’t!

  227. keiths:

    If someone writes outside of his field, due to the inherent needs of an interdisciplinary investigation (which “thermodynamics and evolution” must necessarily be, involving mathematics, physics, and biology), that is not necessarily wrong, as long as the person takes the time to get the unfamiliar material right.

    If Sewell got some of the physics wrong — and I make no comment on that either way, except to say that I have seen definitions *in physics books* which would justify his uses of the word “entropy” — then I have nothing against anyone correcting him; the problem comes when other people who are not themselves physicists do the correcting. When they say: “You don’t understand the physics! You aren’t using the word “entropy” correctly” — who am I supposed to believe? The non-physicist who wrote the article, or the non-physicists who are correcting the article?

    It seems to me that the right person to correct Sewell *on physics* is a physicist. But I haven’t yet seen a physicist show up here, or anywhere else, and complain that Sewell’s arguments are all wrong *because of the physics*. I’ve seen only a neurobiologist and an engineer of some undefined type. (Software engineer? Chemical engineer? Electrical engineer? Bachelor’s? Master’s? Doctorate?) I can certainly imagine that in *some* fields of engineering great knowledge of thermodynamics might be routine; I don’t think that would be the case for all fields; but I don’t see how a neurobiologist has any special insight into thermodynamics at all. Anyone can look up definitions on the internet and try for a quick “killer argument” based on a particular definition (which might disagree with a definition Sewell is using from an equally reputable source), but a deep and broad knowledge of how terms like entropy, disorder, etc. are used within the fields of physics and cosmology — that just isn’t in the training manual for neurobiologists.

    So how is a non-physicist outsider supposed to tell whose arguments are better? Merely by following the reasoning? But if the reasoning is based on contestable definitions of terms, or on a contestable understanding of key concepts in a very difficult field (thermodynamics), how can a non-specialist reader be sure that *any* of the participants (author or critics) knows what he/she is talking about?

    By confidence in tone of voice? In that case, the one who manages the most authoritative, most definitive demeanor, the one who seems to be treating the other one as a slow student rather than as a scientific colleague, would be the one to trust. But I don’t think that is a very reliable criterion for scientific understanding.

    That’s why I’d like to see a review of Sewell’s article by someone (a) who has advanced training in thermodynamics, and publications to prove it; (b) who didn’t read Sewell’s article with the background attitude of “What’s the latest crap these ID people are pushing?” I’d feel much more confident about Sewell’s alleged incompetence after reading the review of someone like that.

  228. Elizabeth, you keep talking about “your training” as if it gives you some special insight — but I probably took as many basic physics and chemistry courses as you did (based on your c.v., I may well have taken more), and I certainly learned definitions of “entropy” in both chemistry and physics classes, but I don’t, on that basis, jump in and presume to be Granville’s teacher. I assume that, as thermodynamics is not my specialty, any “correction” I make might be based on imperfect understanding of my own. So if I suspected that Granville made an error in the physics, I wouldn’t declare it on my own authority, but would have someone with a Ph.D. in physics, specializing in thermodynamics, read his article, and then ask that person’s opinion.

    I realize from long experience that you operate differently, and that I am not going to change you. That puzzles me — that you can tell me just yesterday that you didn’t start studying science until age 50 and you are only 61 now, and yet feel very confident correcting people in just about every scientific subject as if you are an “old hand” at science, but as I say, I am not going to change your very confident self-assessment and I’m not going to try.

    I won’t engage in discussion of the Sewell articles with you because my time is now extremely short and I can sense that your position is now well-rehearsed and inflexible. I know you say you have read all his articles very carefully, but it doesn’t follow (and I mean this with an entirely neutral tone, not a smart-alecky one) that you entirely understand them. I think you have misinterpreted some things Sewell says, and certainly he does not say, at least in the BioComplexity article — which *I* have read very carefully — that artifacts *in themselves* constitute a violation of the second law. He knows perfectly well that when humans build artifacts the second law holds true. I think you are taking his remarks about artifacts out of context. That is partly excusable due to the odd set-up Granville gives the article, with artifacts as the end products of evolution — a point I mentioned before as a flaw in his exposition which invites criticism over an issue he didn’t need to get involved in — but still, I believe in always interpreting a piece of writing in the best possible light; so when I see an article that is not as well-written as it could be, I try to focus on what the author is driving at rather than to catch him out on an infelicitous phrase. (Probably a habit I learned after long years of grading essays, and one which has served me well as a peer-reviewer of academic articles; I get compliments from authors on my constructive criticism.)

    If you disagree with the above, I’m sorry that I won’t have time to continue this. I’ve already put hours and hours into this thread, and I can’t justify the time taken away from my family and my work. (I don’t see how you can possibly maintain a scientific research career in your own field of neurobiology/psychology, given the immense amount of time you put into blogging, debating, and reading just about every ID writing there is, reading up on evolutionary theory, etc., but I gave up trying to figure that one out long ago.)

    I would, however, appreciate it if you would look at the apparent contradiction I mentioned above between your 2011 and 2013 position on one of Sewell’s articles, and reply to it. Thank you.

  229. Timaeus:

    That’s why I’d like to see a review of Sewell’s article by someone (a) who has advanced training in thermodynamics, and publications to prove it; (b) who didn’t read Sewell’s article with the background attitude of “What’s the latest crap these ID people are pushing?” I’d feel much more confident about Sewell’s alleged incompetence after reading the review of someone like that.

    You make a good point, Timaeus. Science is complicated, and an argument can sound plausible even when it is flawed. That’s why stuff often does get past peer-review, and should, in my view – formal peer-review is only the start of the process – the really important review process happens when the paper is published and read by a the wider community of peers.

    Ultimately, the arguments that survive are the ones that stand up to review by the entire scientific community – and make predictions that are subsequently confirmed!

  230. Timaeus

    FWIW the concept of human artifacts as continuous with evolution is not unique to Sewell.

    Hans Hass, who died last week and who was a big influence on my interest in natural history from his underwater documanetaries in the 50s, spent much of his post-TV career promoting “energon theory”, which had just such a premise.

    Logically, too, an entirely materialist view of human evolution must see human activities as evolutionary conequesces too, as much as that of the finch usung a cactus spine. It only falls apart granted human exceptionalism, but that undermines pure materialism anyway.

    That said it seems to jar somehow in his stuff – yet it does bring into sharp relief the issue he raises, since we’re used to conceiving of planetary and biological evolution as natural or inevitable, whereas most of us take pause for thought at the idea of a computer being just the product of energy entering the world.

    It does seem crass, though, to insist that a statement like “the second law has no problem with increasing order in an open system” has done anything to provide an explanation, unless a rider like, “provided there is an organising principle within the system” be added. In other words, the first staement is only true under very special initial conditions, which ought to be recognised in any discussion not intended to mislead.

  231. Timaeus:

    Elizabeth, you keep talking about “your training” as if it gives you some special insight — but I probably took as many basic physics and chemistry courses as you did (based on your c.v., I may well have taken more), and I certainly learned definitions of “entropy” in both chemistry and physics classes, but I don’t, on that basis, jump in and presume to be Granville’s teacher. I assume that, as thermodynamics is not my specialty, any “correction” I make might be based on imperfect understanding of my own. So if I suspected that Granville made an error in the physics, I wouldn’t declare it on my own authority, but would have someone with a Ph.D. in physics, specializing in thermodynamics, read his article, and then ask that person’s opinion.

    I’m not “declaring it on my own authority”, Timaeus. I’m not saying anything that can’t be referred to in papers and text books. Indeed, I actually quoted from a couple of papers bemoaning the misunderstanding of the concept of “entropy” by students, and proposing that the word “disorder” is misleading, precisely because it leads to the problems exemplified by Sewell’s paper.
    Are you disputing my case that “thermodynamic entropy” does NOT mean “messed up” or “chaotic”? If so, it is easy enough to check!

    I realize from long experience that you operate differently, and that I am not going to change you. That puzzles me — that you can tell me just yesterday that you didn’t start studying science until age 50 and you are only 61 now, and yet feel very confident correcting people in just about every scientific subject as if you are an “old hand” at science, but as I say, I am not going to change your very confident self-assessment and I’m not going to try.

    I’m old, and a hand, but perhaps not an “old hand”. Nonetheless, when I see a flaw in an argument, I point it out. It’s perfectly possible that my own counter-argument is incorrect. But I rarely see it rebutted – more commonly, my credentials are questioned! For instance, over the junk DNA argument. I pointed out (with reference to Ohno’s paper, in which the term was coined) that Ohno did not claim that some sequences must be junk because he could not see a use for them. He claimed that some sequences must be junk because mutation rates were so large, that if all the genome was functional, the mutational load would be too great for populations to persist – yet they do. I was not arguing from authority – the paper is available for all to read. I just bothered to look it up.

    Where my training comes in (or appears to come in – maybe it’s just my particular bent and/or life experience) is that I am fairly expert in evaluating arguments, especially arguments based on probability, as well as systems-level analysis, including non-linear systems, as that’s my field. I’m a systems neuroscientist. But I don’t ask you to believe me on that basis. I simply offer my argument and ask that it be evaluated on its merits just as I evaluate other arguments on their merits.

    I won’t engage in discussion of the Sewell articles with you because my time is now extremely short and I can sense that your position is now well-rehearsed and inflexible.

    No. I am always open to counter-argument. Indeed, keiths pointed out an important error I had made, which was to think that any local thermodynamic entropy increase on earth was “paid for” by decreased solar entropy. This is not the case – even if we consider the earth a closed system, local increases in entropy are “paid for” by entropy decreases in the immediate surroundings on earth.

    And indeed, I have not “rehearsed” my position with regard to Sewell’s argument. I’m still trying to get a really clear handle on just where his error lies! But that it is an error is clear, because there is no violation of the 2nd Law by designers – if there were, then we would have an easy solution to our energy problems!

    I know you say you have read all his articles very carefully, but it doesn’t follow (and I mean this with an entirely neutral tone, not a smart-alecky one) that you entirely understand them.

    Indeed.

    I think you have misinterpreted some things Sewell says, and certainly he does not say, at least in the BioComplexity article — which *I* have read very carefully — that artifacts *in themselves* constitute a violation of the second law. He knows perfectly well that when humans build artifacts the second law holds true.

    I would hope he does, but it seems to me that he does not. How else would you interpret this paragraph from his New Perspectives Paper:

    Of course, we must be careful to define “extremely improbable” events to be events of probability less than some very small threshold: if we define events of probability less than 1% to be extremely improbable, then obviously natural causes cando extremely improbable things. But after we define a sufficiently low threshold, everyone seems to agree that “natural forces will rearrange atoms into digital computers” is a macroscopically describable event that is still extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view, and thus forbidden by the second law – at least if this happens in an isolated system.

    (My bold) And then of course he goes on to argue that it is equally improbable – and thus equally forbidden, in an open system.

    I think you are taking his remarks about artifacts out of context. That is partly excusable due to the odd set-up Granville gives the article, with artifacts as the end products of evolution — a point I mentioned before as a flaw in his exposition which invites criticism over an issue he didn’t need to get involved in — but still, I believe in always interpreting a piece of writing in the best possible light;

    Me too.

    so when I see an article that is not as well-written as it could be, I try to focus on what the author is driving at rather than to catch him out on an infelicitous phrase. (Probably a habit I learned after long years of grading essays, and one which has served me well as a peer-reviewer of academic articles; I get compliments from authors on my constructive criticism.)

    Me too.

  232. Elizabeth Liddle:
    Re: Your 211 above:
    I want to make sure we are talking about the same Sewell article. Above, I said the publisher was “MI” (Mathematical Intelligencer), but I meant to say Applied Mathematics Letters. This was the journal that pulled Sewell’s article, after it had been approved by peer-review, and ended up apologizing to Sewell and paying him a settlement. You seem to know the case I mean, even if you, like myself, referred to “MI” — which is an error. So, can you confirm we are talking about the same case?
    Now, assuming we are talking about the same case, here is your published opinion on the article which was pulled from AML:
    “I agree that the article should have been published, and I can see why it passed peer-review. I think it’s a very clarifying article.”
    —Elizabeth Liddle, June 8, 2011, reply #12 under:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..m-journal/
    Now, above (211), you seem be saying, about the same article:
    “The editors didn’t have the “spine” to say “oops, we really messed up here, our review process was inadequate”.
    I’m confused. How can you say that “[the] review process was inadequate,” yet also say “I agree that the article should have been published, and I can see why it passed peer-review”?
    Are these two judgments incompatible? If so, who is right, the Elizabeth of 2013 or the Elizabeth of 2011?

    Yes, I disagree with my earlier assessment. When I first read the article, I interpreted it as saying something that I subsequently came to understand that it was not saying.
    I thought he was saying that in order to account for evolution, we have to show not that improbable things can happen, but that what has happened is not particularly improbable. With that I agree. It’s why I keep banging on about what is wrong with the usual CSI arguments (although not, it turns out, Dembski’s) and the notorious “P(T|H)”. Then when I re-read it I realised he was saying something much more extraordinary: that, to quote the article:

    … to attribute the development of life on Earth to natural selection is to assign to it–and to it alone, of all known natural “forces”–the ability to violate the second law of thermodynamics and to cause order to arise from disorder.

    What on earth can this mean, other than that the “development of life on Earth” must have involved a violation of the 2nd Law of thermodynamics? His complaint about the evolutionary explanation is not that the 2nd law cannot have been violated, but that it is unreasonable to posit that it was violated by a “natural” force, because no other known “natural” force can do so.
    To claim that the “order” we observe on earth in the form of “encyclopedias, science texts and novels, nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers with supersonic jets parked on deck, and computers connected to laser printers, CRTs and keyboards”, and indeed “the development of life” must have involved a violation of the 2nd Law, is a quite extraordinary claim. And the reviewers, who, one hopes, should have been quicker to see this than I did, should have raised serious concerns.

  233. 233

    local increases in entropy are “paid for” by entropy decreases in the immediate surroundings on earth.

    I did not see Keith’s correction of you, but it seems you may have stated this backwards. In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    1) there is no physicochemical relationship between specific nucleotides and amino acids
    2) there is no physicochemical relationship between the specific arrangement C-T-A and leucine
    3) there is no thermodynamic principle involved in establishing dimensionality within a medium
    .

  234. Are you suggesting that biochemical reactions violate the 2nd Law, Upright Biped? That the 2nd law is violated every time a protein is expressed?

  235. Timaeus,

    My cat just woke me up, demanding to be fed, and I, being an Internet addict, am checking the thread.

    If someone writes outside of his field, due to the inherent needs of an interdisciplinary investigation (which “thermodynamics and evolution” must necessarily be, involving mathematics, physics, and biology), that is not necessarily wrong, as long as the person takes the time to get the unfamiliar material right.

    Yes! But the investigation need not be interdisciplinary. Any field is fair game for an outsider who “takes the time to get the unfamiliar material right.” In other words, competence alone is sufficient to justify participation. Credentials are nice, but they aren’t essential. Keep reading.

    If Sewell got some of the physics wrong — and I make no comment on that either way, except to say that I have seen definitions *in physics books* which would justify his uses of the word “entropy” — then I have nothing against anyone correcting him; the problem comes when other people who are not themselves physicists do the correcting.

    If physicists were the only ones who understood physics, then you might have a point, but they aren’t. Do you at least acknowledge that IF the people doing the criticizing actually know what they’re talking about, THEN it is entirely appropriate for them to criticize, despite the fact that they are not physicists?

    There are really two questions here. The first is whether it is at least possible for an outsider, even a pure autodidact, to write or criticize competently in a given field. The second is whether you should trust the opinion of any given outsider.

    The answer to the first question is yes, obviously. It happens, and the history of science (and of other fields too) is full of examples.

    The second question is not as easy to answer.

    If someone held forth on Plato’s Timaeus, then I’ll bet you would feel entirely competent to evaluate their arguments. You wouldn’t need to see credentials, because your own knowledge would give you the confidence to render judgment. (Note that your confidence would come not from your credentials per se, but from your positive evaluation of your own competence in the subject.)

    In the case of thermodynamics, you don’t feel competent to render judgment. Is Granville right? Does this glib keiths guy know what he’s talking about, or is he bluffing?

    In such a case, I can understand why you would like to see credentials. If you can’t judge the arguments themselves, then solid credentials at least give you more confidence in the person holding forth. It’s a Bayesian inference; the posterior probability of “this person is competent” is higher given “this person has solid credentials”.

    The problem is that many people, including me, are not going to recite their credentials for you. In that case you can either 1) learn enough to make your own judgments, 2) wait for someone you trust to render judgment, or 3) suspend judgment altogether. It’s your choice, of course.

    I am not asking you to take my word on anything. By all means, poke and prod to see if my arguments make sense, and call me on it if they don’t. I will return the favor. :)

  236. 236

    Hardly.

    Now, that you have that out of the way, can you answer the question with something approaching an answer? Perhaps something that reflects the certainty you’ve reached in your skeptisicm of ID arguments – having claimed to have never heard one of any merit?

  237. That’s why I’d like to see a review of Sewell’s article by someone (a) who has advanced training in thermodynamics, and publications to prove it; (b) who didn’t read Sewell’s article with the background attitude of “What’s the latest crap these ID people are pushing?” I’d feel much more confident about Sewell’s alleged incompetence after reading the review of someone like that.

    Wasn’t his work already reviewed – supposedly by peers in relevant fields – when it was approved for publicatation, and didn’t the publisher say that the approval status of the peer review stood, even though they decided not to publish the paper?

    IMLO (in my layman’s opinion), I think that Sewell’s paper would be fairly uncontroversial if it didn’t involve ID.

    Even with what science I’ve had in my education, I know that entropy was taught in terms of both capacity to do work (energy) and order; now that an ID advocate has made a rather compelling argument from the order side, suddenly entropy is **only** about heat energy.

    Apparently, Applied Mathematics Letters and its reviewers sided with Sewell, so all things considered, I think this is just another case of Darwinist Derangement Syndrome.

  238. Upright,

    In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    Any local decrease of entropy is “paid for” by the export of entropy to the surroundings. Otherwise the second law would be violated.

    The second law tells you that this must happen. It says nothing about how it has to happen. That is the strength of the second law; it must hold regardless of the mechanisms in question. (It is a law, after all.)

    If you’ve done physics, you’ve probably noticed how the first law (conservation of energy) can make it easy to solve some problems that would otherwise be quite difficult.

    The second law is like that, too. But this is only possible because the law is general. Universal.

    Yet it seems that like Granville, you want more from the second law than that. You evidently want it to predict the mapping of triplet to amino acid. But why?

    The second law only prohibits violations of the second law. That’s all it does. Any mapping that conforms to the second law is allowed by it. Why isn’t that enough?

    You don’t (presumably) demand that the second law predict the absorption lines of helium, or the timing of the next solar eclipse. Why demand that it predict the mapping of triplet to amino acid?

  239. 239

    Spectral lines are established by the fundamental forces, Keith.

    Elizabeth?

  240. Elizabeth:

    But nobody is suggesting that it is is “random draw” – chemistry is not “random draw”.

    Without design all of what we observe is a random draw- that includes the laws of physics. And your position cannot explain any of it.

  241. Upright,

    Spectral lines are established by the fundamental forces, Keith.

    Exactly. They don’t depend on the second law. Why do you think that triplet-to-AA mappings must?

  242. Upright,

    You might as well complain that the law of gravitational attraction doesn’t establish the triplet-to-AA mappings. True, but who cares?

  243. 243

    They don’t depend on the second law. Why do you think that triplet-to-AA mappings must?

    I’m not suggesting it does. I am pointing out the fact that it doesn’t. And now that we agree we can remove local thermodynamics from the establishment of the coding system required to input the information that organizes inanimate matter into living systems, I am curious for Dr Liddle to gaze out upon the prarie of inanimate matter and suggest what mechanism is capable of the task. She is very confident after all.

  244. 244

    You might as well complain that the law of gravitational attraction doesn’t establish the triplet-to-AA mappings.

    Great. We can remove gravitation too. Now what mechanism does Dr Liddle suggest?

  245. Upright,

    This is amusing. If your question has nothing to do with entropy or the second law, then why did you post it on a thread dealing with precisely those topics?

    The answer is that you did think it had something to do with those things, at least until I pointed out how goofy that idea was.

    Look at your question again:

    In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    Judging from that question, you are (or at least were) obviously under the impression that compensation cannot happen, or cannot be explained, unless the second law predicts the triplet-to-AA mapping.

    Bizarre.

  246. 246

    Keith,

    You ask why I posted on this thread, and apparently you have some emotional need to relate this to your intellect in a way that indicates a sense of unusual prowess on your part. Please, feel free.

  247. keiths:

    You might as well complain that the law of gravitational attraction doesn’t establish the triplet-to-AA mappings.

    Nothing wrt materialism can establish that mapping. THAT is the point.

  248. 248

    Dr Liddle, just so that we might loose our place:

    Dr Liddle: local increases in entropy are “paid for” by entropy decreases in the immediate surroundings on earth.

    . . . .

    UB: I did not see Keith’s correction of you, but it seems you my have stated this backwards. In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    1) there is no physicochemical relationship between specific nucleotides and amino acids
    2) there is no physicochemical relationship between the specific arrangement C-T-A and leucine
    3) there is no thermodynamic principle involved in establishing dimensionality within a medium

    . . . .

    Dr Liddle: Are you suggesting that biochemical reactions violate the 2nd Law, Upright Biped? That the 2nd law is violated every time a protein is expressed?

    . . . .

    UB: Hardly.

    Now, that you have that out of the way, can you answer the question with something approaching an answer? Perhaps something that reflects the certainty you’ve reached in your skeptisicm of ID arguments – having claimed to have never heard one of any merit?

    I’ll check back later for any answer you might have.

  249. Upright,

    You are asking “how does compensation happen if the triplet-to-AA mapping isn’t determined by the second law?”

    The question makes no sense. Compensation always happens for any local entropy decrease. Otherwise the second law would be violated.

    None of that depends on the exact mechanism by which the mapping is established, nor does any of that imply a particular mechanism.

  250. Upright Biped:

    In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    The reason I asked the question, Upright Biped, is that I thought you were implying that the 2nd Law was violated by the addition of leucine to a polypeptide, or the addition of CTA to a DNA sequence, and so how could I explain that.

    But as we both agree that either the mutation of a DNA sequence or the pathway between the triplet and the polypeptide is not claimed to violate the 2nd Law of thermodynamics, what is the point of your question?

    I am not a biochemist, and I don’t know how many of the relevant biochemical reactions are exothermic and how many endothermic, so I can’t tell you how the pathway is “paid” for. But as neither of us have reason to doubt that it is paid, what is the problem?

    Or are you asking me to explain how the system evolved? Again, I can’t tell you. I don’t think anyone knows, although there is some literature on the subject.

    But again, what has it got to do with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?

  251. What is going to happen to keiths and Lizzie once it is finally laid to rest and the only mechanism capable of producing the genetic code is intentional, ie intelligent, design?

    My bet is they will just deny it and say we haven’t covered everything…

  252. Perhaps something that reflects the certainty you’ve reached in your skeptisicm of ID arguments – having claimed to have never heard one of any merit?

    This is not unique to Dr. Liddle. The conviction that there is no scientific theory of ID is a fairly general one among those who have attempted to delve its secrets from outside. Where Lizzie is unusual is in giving ID proponents the time of day.

    The evidence is that there is no scientific theory of “Intelligent Design”.

  253. 253

    The reason I asked the question, Upright Biped, is that I thought you were implying that the 2nd Law was violated

    You needn’t have wondered about that Dr Liddle, I was entirely clear in my very first post on this thread that I believe no such violation occured. On the other hand, my question to you was based directly on your own words and thoughts. You have stated that the emergence from inanimate matter of those relationships required to organize inanimate matter into living things is “plausible”. I am trying to understand exactly what criteria you used to generate this assessment. Apparently, plausibility in this instance begins with having no meaningful conception of how such a thing can happen, and apparently having no particular interest in what is even necessary.

  254. Well, I have some conception, Upright Biped, but as you know, we do not have a really persuasive theory of OoL yet, although we have lots of suggestive parts (hypothesise that have produced confirmed predictions).

    But that’s because I do not share your conviction that self-replication is impossible without what you describe as a “semiotic” information transfer system. Templating is a possible (and in my view likely) precursor.

  255. Upright,

    I’m still trying to figure out why you would jump into the middle of a discussion of entropy and the second law if, as you claim, your point has nothing to do with either. I think your claim is false.

    It’s obvious from your earlier comment:

    In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    Your question is clearly about entropy, compensation and the second law. You thought they were relevant. Now you realize that they aren’t, and you wish to avoid the embarrassment of admitting it.

    Let me put you on the spot: Do you now concede that your question made no sense, and that compensation is perfectly possible and explicable even though the second law doesn’t determine the triplet-to-amino-acid mapping?

  256. keiths:

    I pretty much agree with everything in your 235 above.

    Your example of Plato’s Timaeus, however, while apt, allows me to expand on and clarify my view.

    I have in fact studied a good deal of Greek philosophy, and while I’m not at the “academic specialist” rank in that area, I’m certainly capable of graduate-level work in parts of the field. Plato in particular I know reasonably well, and I have in fact worked a lot on parts of the Timaeus and even translated parts of it from Greek, and I have a reasonable acquaintance with the secondary literature on it as well. So yes, if someone was “BS-ing” about the Timaeus, or even making honest errors, I would in many cases feel confident enough to correct the person’s errors without first consulting the specialist literature.

    But note a few caveats: The Timaeus is a very difficult dialogue, and there are parts of it where even I would not venture a judgment without consulting the literature written by the experts. And, given that I probably know the Timaeus at least as well as Elizabeth knows the physics literature on entropy, this would suggest that Elizabeth might be a little bit more cautious in rendering judgments. Not all judgments, of course. But some.

    So it might be that Sewell says some things that *every* physicist would reject; but it might be that interpretations of entropy vary enough among physicists (and from what I have read, they certainly have varied *over time* from 150 years ago to today, with the concept expanding considerably beyond its original limited reference), and it might be that *some* of what Sewell is saying (about differing definitions of entropy with their differing employment) is more in the realm of “broad judgment about the employment and application of a rich and subtle notion” than in the realm of “correct or incorrect understanding of scientific fact.” Certainly a good deal of Sewell’s article presumes that a broad discussion of what the term *can mean* is vital to applying it to the matter at hand. So when I read Elizabeth’s comments, I’m quite willing to believe that Sewell may have made some statements which most physicists would disagree with, but I’m not quite convinced that *all* physicists would regard Sewell’s discussion in quite the cut-and-dried manner in which Elizabeth views it.

    Note that I am not saying that Elizabeth is wrong; I’m just saying, my own experience of graduate-level work in difficult and subtle conceptual material makes me somewhat unsure of myself, even with material I know pretty well. It seems to me that concepts are frequently trickier than even fairly bright people recognize.

    Now change the text from Plato’s Timaeus to Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and it’s a whole new ball game. I have read parts of the Metaphysics, and I can check out passages in Greek; I have read lots of general stuff on Aristotle’s thought; I know some of his other works well, and that helps. But in the end, my understanding of the Metaphysics is shaky, even though I have good “basic training” in both Greek language and Greek philosophy. (As Elizabeth has good “basic training” in general physics, but not much if any specialist training in it.) So if someone made what appeared to me a blunder in writing about the Metaphysics, I would be hesitant to correct even what might seem to me to be the most obvious of blunders, and certainly I would hesitate to render a verdict on a whole paper.

    I could, of course, give the impression of knowing more than I do; I could spend a couple of hours reading parts of the book in English, and a couple of hours looking up some Greek constructions, and a couple of hours looking at secondary sources I have lying around, some by good authorities, some by mediocre ones. I could then come roaring back the next day and sound like a master of Aristotelian thought (to most readers) and (in the eyes of perhaps all readers present) crush the unfortunate writer like a worm. But I would feel guilty doing so, because I would know that in the final analysis, my understanding of Aristotle on some of the material was only a little above the level of a plausible hypothesis. So even if my quick study enabled me to nail some errors down, I would hesitate to condemn the *overall argument* of the paper in question, though I suspected major weaknesses. And this is after about 30 years of (albeit intermittent) study of Greek philosophy; Elizabeth tells us she start studying science at age 50, only 11 years ago.

    So I’m unconvinced that “good general training in science” *necessarily* translates into the ability to judge, with a few hours’ or even a few days’ quick research, a subtle argument involving thermodynamics and evolution. In the case of the present article, Sewell’s, maybe it *is* enough. I’m just nervous about this as a general practice, and, without trying to pick on Elizabeth, it seems that she follows this fast-track procedure quite often when criticizing ID papers.

    Just a little point I could make here: on the other thread she insists that thermodynamics always boils down to a discussion of “heat,” and places great emphasis on the “thermo” etymology (and etymology is of course not reliable because terms can change their meaning over time); yet I have standard physics reference books here, one used by grad students and professors, which say that the key concept is not “heat” narrowly but “energy” generally. And while there are ways of finagling Elizabeth’s statement so that it can be compatible with the wider definition, to the reader it might look as if Elizabeth made a *mistake* — got the definition wrong. So how can we be sure that Granville didn’t make what looks to Elizabeth like a crude error, but can be finagled so as to match up with her “correct” understanding?

    Again and again it’s the same problem. I don’t object to Elizabeth’s right to look up definitions and criticize. I guess what bothers me is *the degree of confidence* which she exudes in dealing with just about any scientific question she takes an interest in. She always seems to move very quickly from “I’m interested in this question” to “I now understand this perfectly and the ID writer is wrong.” Sometimes her “training period” is less than 24 hours. And that happens too often for me to uniformly accept her judgments as sound and reliable.

    Maybe I am just a temperamentally cautious person, a double- and triple-checker, or something. I just find the degree of confidence of Elizabeth, and of many if not most ID critics, to be unrealistically high. I’d like to see more intellectual humility, more academic caution, more “this article has some good points nonetheless,” etc., from Matzke, the Panda’s Thumb gang, the whole bunch of them. (And by the way, you still owe me that psychoanalysis of belligerent anti-ID yahoos.)

    I don’t know what more I can say. I’ve shot my bolt. Next topic! Best wishes.

  257. One small point in my defense, Timaeus: in some way science is easier than the humanities: you aren’t an expert in a piece of literature, or a body of writing, until you know it extremely well, and have spent many hours on it. On the other hand, scientific concepts can be grasped fairly quickly and easily – you don’t have to read a vast number of text books to understand a topic in physics or statistics; you don’t have to compare X’s views on the 2nd Law with Y’s. You just need to look at the equations, and figure out what they mean. The same equation in two different text books is still the same equation.

    I’m a trained musician, but I’d never weigh in with an generalisation on Beethoven, because there’s lots of Beethoven I don’t know very well. But you don’t need to read lots of versions of the same equation to understand the equation!

    (Although some sciences are more like Beethoven – I am more than happy to accept that gpuccio knows far more about proteins than I do, or will ever do, for instance; on the other hand, I think I am slightly better at understanding the probability arguments, given the information itself, which I have to take on trust! He of course would disagree…)

  258. Timaeus,

    I would put it a bit more forcefully than Lizzie did. I think that almost all academic fields encompass a range of issues from the trivial and obvious to the subtle and arcane, and that it is appropriate for outsiders to comment on any of them provided that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to do so.

    Knowledge and expertise, not credentials.

    Suppose someone makes a complex and nuanced argument that Pyrrho was one of Socrates’ major influences. Do I need to shy away from the debate because I am not an expert on Greek philosophy? Of course not.

    I don’t need to know anything about the subtleties of Socrates’ or Pyrrho’s thought to refute that argument; I simply need to point out that Socrates lived and died before Pyrrho was even born. Pyrrho couldn’t have influenced him (unless he was a time traveler).

    Toward the other end of the continuum, suppose someone is expounding on Stoic undercurrents in medieval thought. If I had never heard of the Stoics before today, and the entirety of my knowledge of medieval thought came from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, then I would be unwise to enter the fray.

    Those are admittedly extreme examples, but my point is that they fall on a continuum. Granville’s mistakes are far closer to the “trivial and obvious” end of the spectrum than they are to the “subtle and arcane” end.

    I would hesitate to venture into a discussion of black hole entropy without reading up on the topic. I know very little about it now. (For example, is it meaningful to talk about the microstates of a black hole? If not, how can we quantify the entropy? I have no idea, though I know that it’s been done.)

    However, I do know enough about entropy and the second law to see the deep flaws in Granville’s paper. It really is atrocious, and you don’t need to be an expert in thermodynamics to see that.

    I’m not asking you to take my word for it. I predict that if you spend the necessary time and effort to learn about the topic, you’ll find that I’m right.

  259. 259

    Dr Liddle,

    I have a couple of quick comments about your post at 254.

    You begin your post by saying that you do have a some conception as to how the relationships required to organize inanimate matter into living systems emerged from inanimate matter. That conception is exactly what I was hoping you might share – given that on this forum you have branded your conception as “plausible”. Thus far, you’ve only said that the system “emerged”, which (I think we can all agree) falls somewhat short of the general idea of plausibility (either in science or logic). Obviously, no one knows exactly how life began on Earth, but one would think if you take a strong position (which you have) and you promote that position as “plausible” and beseech your fellow man that their ideas are wrong, then surely you have something to say in support of your conception, other than it happened. Frankly, it is not entirely obvious that you’ve set out to find and integrated the relavent information necessary to make any meaningful assessment about plausibility either way, so I hope you’ll finally demonstrate that you have indeed done so, and that you have more than ideological disagreement with the issues that others point out to you.

    In your response, you once again bring up the concept of “templating”. This is a concept you’ve used before in the promotion and defense of your position; where monomers form a double strand, which then dissociates into two single strands, then reassociates with freely available monomers, ending in the formation of two indentical double strands. But as has been pointed out to you before, such processes are reversible, typically driven by pair bonding, which is only seen in the transcription of sequences and not in the irreversible translation of sequences. In other words Dr Liddle, its has nothing at all to do with establishing the material conditions necessary for the relationships required by the system. So here again, there are serious questions as to whether you’ve attempted to seek out and integrate the information necessary to say that one idea is plausible, while another has no merit – which is the position you’ve taken personally and have chosen to promote to others.

    So when you say you simply disagree with me (and a lot of others, including von Neuman and Pattee, etc, etc) and that a system of semiotic translation isn’t necessary, I am left shaking my head. Does the reality not occur to you that living things are not made up of nucleotides? No matter what you wish to believe about the OoL, at some point in the history of this planet, arrangements of nucleotides started being translated into something other than themselves, and that required a system of relationships to be established in a material system. And all of this is required prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution and the biological organization that stems from recorded information. The data is out there Dr Liddle, why do you choose not integrate it? Is your demonstrated adversion to it based on knowledge that the data is wrong, or it is based on the knowledge that it represents an almost instractible barrier to inanimate matter? What forces of raw inanimate matter (prior to any information-based biological organization on earth) can establish dimensionality within a coding medium, as well as organize a system to translate it? If you do not wish to confront such questions, then it should probably be no mystery why you position such bservations as having no merit.

  260. 260

    Keith

    In my first post on this thread I made it abundantly clear what my position is: a) I have not spent time with Sewell’s argument, but provided a limited quote from it which I was responding to, and b) the second law of thermodynamics does not play a determinant role in Sewell’s appearance of computers and spaceships because the coding structures in genetic information are not locally derivable from thermodynamic law. To support this limited position, I posted the observations from Physics that the coding structures in genetic information are not locally derivable from thermodynamic law.

    You, however, are in an alternate reality where I meant just the opposite of the words appearing immediately under my name on this threrad. Further, you have placed yourself in a flowing red cape as the Corrector of my embarrassement. You are welcome to these visions, however they may come to you.

  261. I liked flowering better!

  262. Pleased to see, UB, in the fog of words that you now make it somewhat clearer that you are attacking OOL theories rather than the theory of evolution. You are on much safer ground as there is as yet no evidence good enough to promote or dis-confirm any of them. Does anyone in the ID movement have an inkling about OOL? Genesis, I guess.

  263. But as has been pointed out to you before, such processes are reversible…

    But temperature dependent. Imagine an aqueous environment that is rich in inorganic and possibly organic material, turbulent and with huge variations in temperature from 3-400°C to near freezing. Equilibrium is a problem in a “warm little pond”. Perhaps less so at a hydrothermal vent.

  264. Upright,

    Your comment itself, rather than your later “paraphrase” of it, tells the story:

    In any case, how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system cannot be derived from the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    As that comment shows, you thought that

    a) since codon-to-AA mappings can’t be derived from the second law, then

    b) the compensation idea presents a problem for the evolutionist or OOL theorist.

    That is wrong, of course, as you now seem to realize, but you certainly believed it then. Otherwise there would have been no reason to

    1) post your comment on a thread about entropy, compensation, and the second law, and

    2) to pose this challenge: “…how is the establishment of CTA resulting in leucine being added to a polypeptide in a local system “paid for” by an increase in surrounding entropy, when… ?”

    We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, Upright.

  265. Upright:

    I am left shaking my head. Does the reality not occur to you that living things are not made up of nucleotides? No matter what you wish to believe about the OoL, at some point in the history of this planet, arrangements of nucleotides started being translated into something other than themselves, and that required a system of relationships to be established in a material system. And all of this is required prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution

    That is your assertion, Upright. It may be true, but I do not see why it must be true. Yes, all life forms are based on DNA now, but I see no reason to think that the precursors of DNA life forms could not have non-DNA ancestors, or that you can’t have Darwinian evolution without DNA.

    Indeed that is the premise of OoL research. You might find it absurd, but it is at least not self-evidently absurd, because many people in the field disagree with you.

    It’s not even as though my position is that a Designer was not involved. My position is merely that we cannot infer that a Designer must have been.

  266. 266

    That is your assertion, Upright.

    Dr Liddle, none of the preceding paragraph was a mere assertion. Line by line:

    UB: “…living things are not made up of nucleotides”

    There is no question about this.

    UB: “…at some point in the history of this planet, arrangements of nucleotides started being translated into something other than themselves”

    There is no question this is also true.

    UB: “…and that required a system of relationships to be established in a material system”

    This is the incontrovertible observation that the phenotype is related to the genotype only through the process of genetic translation. The mapping in translation is determined by arbitrary relationships established in a material system (in the example of protein synthesis) by the set of aaRS. It is not a theoretical construct, it is a demonstrated reality.

    UB: “….And all of this is required prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution”

    Darwinian evolution is wholly dependent on the genotype/phenotype architecture. It could not precede them. This leads back to the question which you have thus far avoided.: What forces of raw inanimate matter (prior to any information-based biological organization on earth) can establish dimensionality within a coding medium, as well as organize a system to translate it?

    It may be true, but I do not see why it must be true

    If the argument I’ve been making to you was merely an assertion, as you suggest, then perhaps this comment would have some meaning, but that is not the case. You have already agreed that it is not possible to transfer information into a physical effect without the use of a material medium. Everything else I’ve stated follows directly from that fact. Von Neumann predicted this before genetic translation was even elucidated. His work was then confirmed through experiment. Then others, such as Pattee, demonstated these were the necessary conditions of open-ended evolution. And in the end, despite your empty insistence otherwise, there isn’t a person on the planet that can even conceptually describe the transfer of information in any other way.So your dismissive “I don’t see why it must be true” is nothing but a ideological defense against material facts. It is simply empty.

    Yes, all life forms are based on DNA now, but I see no reason to think that the precursors of DNA life forms could not have non-DNA ancestors, or that you can’t have Darwinian evolution without DNA.

    .

    This is a red herring. The argument presented to you does not rely on DNA. The material conditions are dictated by what must be accomplished, not the specific matter used to accomplish it.

    Indeed that is the premise of OoL research. You might find it absurd, but it is at least not self-evidently absurd, because many people in the field disagree with you.

    To the contrary Dr Liddle, watch closely what is being attempted on OoL. At its core, it attempts to emulate the argument being presented, just at the level of the medium (not the level of producing anything but the medium). I look forward to the continuation of OoL research, as it continues to validate the argument made. Thats what happens when descriptions are true. You do not realize this out of pure ideological bias. Actual OoL research doesn’t even begin with the mythical replicating strand of nucleotides your side wishes to posit, and it will not end with one.

    It’s not even as though my position is that a Designer was not involved. My position is merely that we cannot infer that a Designer must have been.

    Your first line here is simply disenginuous. In actual practice, you tag your opponents arguments as meritless without engaging the substance of those arguments (a defensive maneuver, plain and simple) and operate a website where belligerent materialists can exercise their spleens under the false premise of skepticism..

    Your second line here simply highlights the number of questions you refuse to engage. One of the many is this one: What forces of raw inanimate matter (prior to any information-based biological organization on earth) can establish dimensionality within a coding medium, as well as organize a system to translate it?

  267. Elizabeth:

    Yes, all life forms are based on DNA now, but I see no reason to think that the precursors of DNA life forms could not have non-DNA ancestors, or that you can’t have Darwinian evolution without DNA.

    So it doesn’t bother you that your “reasoning” is evidence free?

    The point being is the only reason to think there was a non-DNA based pre-cursor is because DNA based life is far too complex to be accounted for by chance and necessity.

    Look, even given a self-sustained replication of RNAs, darwinian evolution was absent and there was no indication that anything more complex would come about.

    IOW Lizzie’s position is one of eternal hope, ie an infinite set of promissory notes to be cashed in when the last one is handed out. ;) :razz:

  268. Pleased to see, UB, in the fog of words that you now make it somewhat clearer that you are attacking OOL theories rather than the theory of evolution.

    LoL! You can’t have an alleged “theory of evolution” without having living organisms and how living organisms came to be directly impacts how it diversified.

    So we are pleased to see that you still refuse to grasp that simple fact. That tells us quite a bit about your agenda.

    Does anyone in the ID movement have an inkling about OOL?

    Yes, given the consilience of evidence, living organisms were designed, intentionally.

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