Update: Toronto earns a bar to poster child status (as does Petrushka) in a TSZ thread, with several others joining in and showing the habitual incivility and strawman tactics of too many design objectors
|August 26, 2012||Posted by kairosfocus under Intelligent Design, Science, ID Foundations, Science, worldview issues/foundations and society, Functionally Specified Complex Information & Organization|
Sometimes UD commenter, NR has started a thread at TSZ, which addresses my new poster child of illogical conduct by objectors to design theory series.
Unfortunately, the thread all too soon illustrates just why it is wise to cordon off sites that harbour abusive commentary as enablers of uncivil behaviour. And into the bargain, it seems that Toronto manages to become a poster child with bar, i.e. s/he does it again (and Petrushka follows, as we will see).
It would have been nicer if KF had joined here to launch his criticism, instead of taking pot shots from UD where it is my understanding that both Toronto and Petrushka have been banned.
In any case, this is where the two accused can set the record straight by explaining what they actually meant . . . . Let’s keep it polite. No character attacks. Let’s stick to clear explanations of positions that KF might have misunderstood. And let’s remember the rules of The Skeptical Zone and keep it civil.
Now, of course, as was pointed out before this was ever said, we have a case where Petrushka played a nasty game of falsely pretending that I threatened to ban someone who has not been banned then played an even more nasty trick of suggesting — using my abbreviated handle — that I would post pornographic links. That is a plain case of willful deceit with insult added to injury.
So, what is needed here is not a correction of misunderstanding but an apology and retraction.
As for Toronto, s/he asserted that an argument by scientific inference to best explanation is a question-begging argument. Thus, s/he earned poster child status by virtue of a massive logical blunder that needs to be corrected. Instead, s/he doubled down in the very first comment in response to NR:
I also believe we shouldn’t be answering real points made over there unless they have the courage to make them here . . . If KF has any legitimate arguments, he should post them here, not on a site that prevents our open responses.
In short, T implies that I am a coward.
A personal and unwarranted attack given the circumstances and what will very shortly follow in the thread at TSZ. Talk about, for instance, outing etc.
(UD commenters and contributors, kindly note how when you use a term that is loaded, it — and its like — promptly gets transferred to those who have not used it, as a handy term of abuse and pretended justification by turnabout accusation. So, let us operate by the broken windows theory and refuse to break the first window.)
In actuality, as the above just showed — from the very first comment, the boast of civility at TSZ is quite hollow.
So I have a legitimate concern that any appearance there will soon enough end up as a mud wrestling match with those who have the manners and attitudes of a swamp predator. In a context, where I have had to repeatedly deal with all manner of personal attacks up to and including threats against my family, and the operation of outright hate sites, denizens of which hang out at TSZ and similar sites.
So, sorry, I have good reason to decline the invitation to what will predictably be a swamp mud wrestling match.
And, if we read between the lines, Toronto is refusing to correct his/her blunder of thinking that a scientific inference to best explanation is a question-begging argument. On the flimsy excuse that I am not willing to get into a swamp mud wrestling match in order to correct such a grave blunder and associated snide accusations or insinuations.
Sorry, T, you have a plain duty of care in reasoning and if you refuse to admit and correct blatant errors such as imagining that empirically based inferences to best current scientific explanation can be crudely equated to question begging then that tells us what your level of reasoning is.
Notice, too: the very next comment tries to out me, never mind that I have long since explained why it is reasonable for me to ask that I be dealt with through my handle.
That descends to gross rudeness and disrespect.
Petrushka then shows up to suggest that s/he was justified to accuse me of threatening banning, never mind that we have good reason to see that I never made such a threat and we have it on record from the blog owner here that MP was not banned. In fact the evidence points to a sock-puppet game where confederates set up a sock puppet here at UD and used it to throw a false accusation of banning to be posted at TSZ, which was stuck on me. For this we find nowhere the faintest trace of retraction or apology.
Another poster then proceeds to suggest that one of the hate sites is about hilarity, not childish animus and abuse with behaviour that no sensible person should tolerate.
That speaks volumes about the type of “civility” we are dealing with.
And seems to imagine that we have not read up on our Saul Alinsky, so we don’t understand what is going on propagandistically behind such sick “hilarity”:
5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” . . . .
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. [NB: Notice the evil counsel to find a way to attack the man, not the issue. The easiest way to do that, is to use the trifecta stratagem: distract, distort, demonise.] In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…
“…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’
“One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”
That dehumanisation, demonisation and targetting through in effect mocking smears and slanders is obviously the real agenda behind such sick “hilarity.”
Toronto then returns with an attempt to suggest that shaking two magnets together in a bag, which would constrain the result to be locking with the poles aligned N-S, is comparable to how contingent possible values of states are used to store information in information systems. It is worth pausing to clip this further blatant misunderstanding and strawman caricature:
KF and Dembski put a lot of faith in their abstract concept of the “UPB” of 500 bits.
[–> Cf here on to understand what T would distract attention from, deride and dismiss]
Reality however can do better with just 2 bits.
Take two bar magnets and put them in a paper bag, then shake the bag.
While in the “abstract” you could end up with two north poles oriented in the same direction when the magnets attract each other, the “reality” of physics won’t let that happen.
[–> in short T knows this is a case of mechanical necessity, of low contingency, which is substituted strawmannishly for a case where high contingency needs to be explained on chance or choice]
This applies to evolution also
[–> Bare assertion, and get that folks, the implication is that evolution FORCES body plan level biodiversity similar to how shaking up two bar magnets in a bag will trigger a locked in alignment. Maybe he does not understand that he has just argued for the programming of the cosmos in a way that if true would be about as solid a proof of design as you could get: programming build into the laws of necessity of the cosmos. But actually this is just careless thinking by poor analogies]
but for some reason, the reality of chemistry is completely ignored by the KF crowd.
[–> in the relevant cases, as has been repeatedly pointed out but ignored by objectors, the chemistry of the chaining of D/RNA and of proteins in the same strand is NOT constrained by chemical forces to hold particular sequences. If it were, neither variety of proteins nor variety of genetic information would be possible. (Since it is a point of likely further confusion, let me point out that I am speaking within the chain, not across the two coiled chains where there are matched complementary pairs.)]
Physics both restricts and insists on different combinations of “information”.
[–> Unable to acknowledge the blatant reality of digitally coded information used in algorithmic processes in the living cell. Let’s simply cite Wikipedia, speaking against known ideological interest:
One hopes that there will in future be at least a minimal willingness to acknowledge that in D/RNA, we have a discrete state (= digital) symbolic code here at work that specifies the sequence of AA’s in a protein chain. That is, which gives a “control tape” to a step by step assembly process. It is also worth noting that the tRNA “taxis” carry the load AA’s to a standard CCA coupler, i.e the coding depends on an informational assignment carried out by synthetase enzymes. Indeed, artificial assignments have been created in the lab. ]
JF then goes on to suggest that the origin of two sites worth of information and a hypothetical example are adequate to overturn the observations on the source of FSCO/I and the analysis that shows why 500 bits of de novo information is a reasonable threshold for de novo info from an arbitrary start point being reasonably attributed to intelligence.
Of course, beginning in an existing island of function and moving around a few bits at a time through some form of hill climbing is not relevant to the matter, as it begs the question at stake: how to get to the shores of an island of function across a deep isolational barrier from an arbitrary initial condition. And that basic challenge does not begin from already existing life — a big begged question — but from some warm little pond or the like pre-biotic environment.
This issue is often begged in the context where there is no empirically supported causally adequate chance and necessity mechanism to get us from chemicals in a pond or the like to a functioning, encapsulated and gated, metabolising digital coded information using self replicating form. But, observed cell based life is full of things that in any other context would be immediately recognised as strong and reliable signs of design: digital code, algorithms, organised information processing and cybernetic machinery etc etc etc.
Sometimes, it is best to simply watch what we are talking about, so it is not lost in a forest of verbiage:
So, why should we — apart from Lewontin’s a priori materialism — suddenly insist that no, here is a case where we can infer that chance and necessity somehow did what we have never see them do, and where we have good needle in haystack reasons for doubting they can do on the gamut of our solar system and even the observed cosmos?
Shortly following, AM gives a classic of strawman tactics in action:
Extending the observed human capacity to program and send information to the very DNA that has given rise to those same humans is disfavoured precisely because it is ad hoc.
[–> To observe that the only empirically warranted source of digitally coded, functionally specific, algorithmic info is design is ad hoc? This is an attempt to sweep away an OBSERVATION with massive base by assertion. FYI, ad hoc means: ad hoc [æd ˈhɒk]adj & adv for a particular purpose only; lacking generality or justification (Collins). An empirical observation that is accurately summarised is simply not ad hoc.]
The things we can do are no guide to what could be achieved before our tiniest ancestors even started to make the protein that would ultimately take part in the formation of, among other things, our brains.
[–> Again, kindly tell us the observed source of complex algorithmically functional digital code? Do we have , anywhere, empirical warrant for the origin of such by chance and necessity? Where observed, by whom, where published and in what year did they get the Nobel Prize for such an achievement? (Prigogine doesn’t count as he himself admitted.)]
No amount of logical contortion disengages ID from the charge of inserting an ad hoc cause.
[–> Doubling down on the fallacy]
‘Materialist’ scientists (that is, the vast majority of ‘em) consider that throughout its history, replication must obey physical laws.
[–> Red herring. Programmers are constrained by physical laws in coding a program, but the laws of chance and necessity do not explain the program. Knowledgeable intelligence, purpose, planning and skill in action do. And that holds even for materialist scientists once they set out to actually design and build a program; regardless of what a priori materialism imposed on science and science education may wish to tell us. Where also, BTW, in science , what is well warranted is decided on empirical evidence, not the alleged consensus of the crowd, even the credentialled crowd. Surely, we can learn that from the ongoing scandals with climate science. No authority is better than its facts, reasoning, underlying assumptions and so forth.]
The energy gradients involved in it must be a net flow ‘downhill’.
[–> Strawman, in this case a propagandistic one that falsely suggests that design thinkers think like that, in a situation where the typical audience member will not cross check to see that this suggestion is not so. No-one has asserted the opposite to what is held up as though it is a distinctive of the party of materialists. That’s like the ad man who on seeing the way beer bottles were cleaned with live steam in a factory wanted to use it in an ad campaign. But that is industry standard. Yes, but no-one else is saying that, so present this as though it were a distinctive, at most if others come along later, that only says “me too.” Which duly led the beer drinkers to think as was suggested. Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem, not just one for beer drinkers. Let us lay out a basic fact: intelligence is routinely observed in action, and is observed to use resources to carry out metabolism to support intelligent behaviour. As in: ever seen lunch time on a construction site or seen a programmer surrounded by junk food and Jolt Cola etc?]
Intelligence per se cannot change that – the intelligent designer must design a system tapping a net ‘downhill’ energy flow, else that system will not be self-sustaining.
[–> More strawman caricatures. Correcting what no-one has said can sound very impressive, but it is misleading. Onlookers may want to check out here on to see my own remarks on this general subject.]
Is it reasonable to infer that there was ever a point at which energy flowed ‘uphill’, against the overall thermodynamic gradient?
[–> Of course, the real point is that those who construct ART-ificial systems, do so by creating a counter-flow, using intelligence, purposes and plans based on knowledge and skill to guide work. More strawman distortions.]
I’d say no, pace Granville Sewell.
[–> Misrepresentaiton by name. He has argued that what we do not see is FSCO/I arising by spontaneous processes through blind chance and mechanical necessity. Which is true.]
What the ID seems to be ‘for’ is the task of gathering the components of an early replicator from an entropically ‘diffuse’ state into a ‘localised’ one. Even the ID may be expected to be thermodynamically bound, on ‘best inference’ – there are no known ‘intelligent violators’ of the actual 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
[–> More strawmen, this is a forest of them by now. Intelligence is routinely seen to gather raw materials from scattered states, and to process them into materials and components for systems, then to build the systems. What is not observed, is the same happening by blind chance and mechanical necessity, and the issues highlighted by the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold for FSCI shows us why.]
Seversky, almost predictably, then turns up with more personalities based on misrepresentations and outright untruths:
Kairosfocus has his standard repertoire of claims, quotes and arguments which have been answered many times and in detail over the years.
[–> As I just showed again above, the “standard” answers of objectors are as a rule based on red herrings, led away to strawman distortions and then laced with ad hominems and set alight, clouding, confusing and polarising the issue. U/D: Cf. my remarks on why this is so sadly typical, here. Onlookers are invited to look at my 101 survey of origins science from a design perspective here on, at the UD Weak argument correctives here, at the UD glossary here, at UD’s definition of ID here, at a general purpose ID FAQ here, at the NWE survey article on ID here (the Wikipedia one being an inaccurate and unfair hit piece) and at the background note here on, (which is linked from my handle for every comment I have made at UD) to see for themselves. I also clip from comment 32 below on wider themes:
I suggest Coppedge’s survey of fallacies here as a good start-point, and let me point out my own straight vs spin primer (with a grading grid!) here. Also, here is a short primer on straight thinking, including on scientific thinking. This critical review of a major and highly effective recent agit-prop classic (it is even echoed in the unofficial anthem of new atheism by Aiden), by an expert, will also help.]
All the respondents have got for their efforts is a ban from Uncommon Descent – usually on the grounds of incivility or some such manufactured excuse.
[–> the evidence of incivility in case after case after case over the course of years is there to be seen, in case after case after case; including this one. As for the behaviour in the penumbra of objecting and hate sites, that is something else, rudeness gone up to the nth degree.]
Apparently, it is impolite to beg to differ over there.
[–> Mere difference is not to be self-servingly substituted for false accusations, personal attacks and the like — the latest one being the snide suggestion that I would be likely to post links to pornography, which has not been either justified on evidence or apologised for. Notice, in the very thread where Seversky presents this blatant untruth, we have examples of the sort of incivility that is the real problem, up to and including outing. With of course refusal to apologise for the sort of snide and outrageous suggestion that face to face would never be made.]
The counter-arguments have been brushed aside, not surpisingly, because, like others at that site, kf already has his truth and nothing can ever change that.
[–> if you cannot answer the issue, set up a straw man, soak it in ad hominems, set alight, then attack the man as closed minded and a bully if he objects . . .]
We could continue on and on, but that is enough for now to substantiate the point about what would be likely to happen were I to be so foolish as to try to show up to deal with that sort of “civil” discussion.
It seems that we have two very radically divergent views of what constitutes reasoned and reasonable discussion, where Plato from 2350 years ago tells us just why, by exposing the underlying radical relativism and amorality of evo mat, leading to how it invites ruthless factions that vie to seize power and will act with gross disrespect and abuse once they think they can get away with it:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily “scientific” view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .
[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.– [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke’s views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic “every man does what is right in his own eyes” chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them. [The laws, Bk X]
So, it seems the root problem was diagnosed 2350 years ago.
At this point, what we can do is point out to the onlooker, just what is really going on, trusting that in the end, the extremism and abuse of such radicals will be its own best refutation.
Hence the poster child project. END