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Uncommon Descent Question 10 winner

For Uncommon Descent Question 10: Provide the Code for Dawkins’ WEASEL Program, we have declared a winner – 377 responses later – and it is Oxfordensis:

It seems that Dawkins used two programs, one in his book THE BLIND WATCHMAKER, and one for a video that he did for the BBC (here’s the video-run of the program; fast forward to 6:15). After much beating the bushes, we finally heard from someone named “Oxfordensis,” who provided the two PASCAL programs below, which we refer to as WEASEL1 (corresponding to Dawkins’s book) and WEASEL2 (corresponding to Dawkins’s BBC video). These are by far the best candidates we have received to date.

Go here for more.

Note: Apparently, Bill Dembski is taking care of the award.

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11 Responses to Uncommon Descent Question 10 winner

  1. The original weasels are found! Congrats! Weasel1 is a (1,100) ES, Weasel2 is a (1+1) ES. The weasel algorithm in W. Dembski’s and R. Marks paper “Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success is neither. So, Dembski and Marks weren’t discussing Dawkins’s example.

  2. I gather the discussion would have been greatly assisted if Dr. Dawkins had just supplied the original, but …

  3. 3

    I am curious how this conclusion was reached when Dawkins told Dembski:

    I cannot confirm that either of them is mine. They don’t look familiar to me, but it is a long time ago. I don’t see what more I can say.

    (As reported by Dembski here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-334896)

    The provenance of these programs is more than questionable.

  4. Mustela Nivalis at 3, I am astounded at what you are telling us:

    Dawkins, you say, told Dembski, “I cannot confirm that either of them is mine. They don’t look familiar to me, but it is a long time ago. I don’t see what more I can say.”

    Well, no one needs Dawkins to say anything. How about just providing the original program?

    If the provenance of the programs addressed is questionable, it is entirely due to Dawkins’s unwillingness or inability to provide the original. And why, exactly?

    Am I supposed to believe that he just somehow lost or can’t remember a program that helped make him rich and famous?

    Aw, come on, tell me another one. It’s comedy nite, right?

    If I needed any further evidence that neo-Darwinism is bust and can’t be fixed, this would sure convince me.

    Added: I don’t know a single reason at this point to think that the original code ever existed, so I would just forget about it.

  5. #4

    Am I supposed to believe that he just somehow lost or can’t remember a program that helped make him rich and famous?

    Absolutely this is possible. How many programmers keep or can remember code they wrote 20 years ago? It may seem to you that this programme is central to Dawkin’s fame but that is because the ID world is obsessed with it. In the Blind Watchmaker it makes a very limited point. The discussion of the program occupies about 2 pages of a 350 page book he wrote over 20 years ago. He spends far more effort and time on the biomorph programme.

  6. Mr Frank,

    Agreed. You can still buy the biomorph program!

  7. Mark Frank, 5, Suppose I could not remember and had no copy of something I wrote 20 years ago – which, incidentally, made me rich and famous. But a bunch of other people have supplied substitutes. A reasonable person might wonder whether my version ever existed.

    All I need do is create the impression that I am a genius, and get people to believe it?

    Meanwhile, people who want to study the question must work with the available information.

  8. All I need do is create the impression that I am a genius, and get people to believe it?

    well …

  9. #7

    Mark Frank, 5, Suppose I could not remember and had no copy of something I wrote 20 years ago – which, incidentally, made me rich and famous. But a bunch of other people have supplied substitutes. A reasonable person might wonder whether my version ever existed.

    He is not saying that he cannot remember writing it and the fact that he did is extremely well documented. He just can’t remember the details of the code. Remember it is a very small part of one of many books. It is not even the most famous of his books. I don’t believe he sees the Weasel programme is being that important. It only makes a point about probabilities and is not meant to be a model for evolution. It is only the reaction, primarily from ID proponents, that has escalated it into a Wikipedia entry.

  10. Mark Frank at 9,

    If he doesn’t have it, it may as well not exist, so it doesn’t make a point about anything.

    It was considered quite important at the time, according to credible witnesses.

    No one is at fault for ignoring his lapses, and working with probable reconstructions.

    As far as I am concerned, this is just another Darwinist scam.

    A supposed code proves something but can’t be found. Even so, reconstructions can’t be evaluated because they are not the original. Anyway, it isn’t important – even though it was considered quite important at the time.

    Look, are you a scientist? If so, aren’t you embarrassed to be part of this charade?

    Well, whether or no, would you like to see the documents proving that I own Highway 400 all the way up to the TransCanada?

    Oh wait, I can’t find them. I can’t remember the details. I don’t know what else I can say. But no one is entitled to use a probable reconstruction in order to evaluate my claim.

    Golly. Talk about a Dan Rather moment.

  11. 11

    O’Leary at 10,

    “As far as I am concerned, this is just another Darwinist scam.”

    “… aren’t you embarrassed to be part of this charade?”

    I’m confused now. What scam are you referring to? What charade?

    Dawkins wrote a little program over 20 years ago that he described in two pages. Many people have reproduced his work, typically taking no more than an hour to do so. We’re not talking about a complex coding exercise here. It’s unsurprising that the original code is no longer available — even if it is on a floppy disk or tape drive from that period, finding the hardware to read it would be difficult.

    All of this distracts from my original question, though. How can you justify claiming that these two programs are the originals when Dawkins himself says he doesn’t recognize them?

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