The Steven Salaita Case

Curious what people here (including phoodoo!) think about this case involving academic freedom and, I guess, rudeness.  (though I probably can guess). Here are some relevant links:

Thanks for your comments!

Memories pass between generations

We’ll be hearing about this from UD. Might as well play with it here.

In the smell-aversion study, is it thought that either some of the odour ends up in the bloodstream which affected sperm production or that a signal from the brain was sent to the sperm to alter DNA.

Circularity of using CSI to conclude Design?

At Uncommon Descent, William Dembski’s and Robert Marks’s coauthor Winston Ewert has made a post conceding that using Complex Specified Information to conclude that evolution of an adaptation is improbable is in fact circular. This was argued at UD by “Keith S.” (our own “keiths”) in recent weeks. It was long asserted by various people here, and was argued in posts here by Elizabeth Liddle in her “Belling the Cat” and “EleP(T|H)ant in the room” series of posts (here, here, and here). I had posted at Panda’s Thumb on the same issue.

Here is a bit of what Ewert posted at UD:

CSI and Specified complexity do not help in any way to establish that the evolution of the bacterial flagellum is improbable. Rather, the only way to establish that the bacterial flagellum exhibits CSI is to first show that it was improbable. Any attempt to use CSI to establish the improbability of evolution is deeply fallacious.

I have put up this post so that keiths and others can discuss what Ewert conceded. I urge people to read his post carefully. There are still aspects of it that I am not sure I understand. What for example is the practical distinction between showing that evolution is very improbable and showing that it is impossible? Ewert seems to think that CSI has a role to play there.

Having this concession from Ewert may surprise Denyse O’Leary (“News” at UD) and UD’s head honcho Barry Arrington. Both of them have declared that a big problem for evolution is the observation of CSI. Here is Barry in 2011 (here):

All it would take is even one instance of CSI or IC being observed to arise through chance or mechanical necessity or a combination of the two. Such an observation would blow the ID project out of the water.

Ewert is conceding that one does not first find CSI and then conclude from this that evolution is improbable. Barry and Denyse O’Leary said the opposite — that having observed CSI, one could conclude that evolution was improbable.

The discussion of Ewert’s post at UD is interesting, but maybe we can have some useful discussion here too.

Angry at God?

Angry baby
A commenter at Uncommon Descent wrote

Keith, I am not convinced that you are an atheist. I believe that you are angry at God and suffer from cognitive dissonance. And to say that the evidence supports your materialist belief system is completely absurd!

I’ve seen versions of this “angry at God” accusation levelled at non-believers quite often and I wonder why those that use it think it makes sense. Continue reading

Observations from my visit to Uncommon Descent

Executive Summary:

Barry Arrington doesn’t understand ID. KF talks about math and design detection but never does it. ID exists as an amorphous miasmic anti-evolutionary argument. It is the North Korea of the internet

Barry Arrington doesn’t understand ID.
in now epic thread Barry told us what would convince him ID was wrong:

The science bomb that will destroy my belief in ID: A single example of natural forces observed to have create Orgel’s CSI.

Now as IDists can’t actually measure CSI (they don’t appear to understand it at UD) this was troublesome, but a close examination of Dembski’s CSI contains the term P(T|H), which is described by him as

Moreover, H, here, is the relevant chance hypothesis that takes into account Darwinian and other material mechanisms.

So Barry wanted a demonstration of CSI being made by natural forces, whilst Dembski defines CSI as only to be ‘counted’ in the absence of them. Barry doesn’t understand CSI. I asked him if he thought that “CSI=FSC=FSCO/I”. He never responded.

KF talks about math and design detection but never does it

KF’s behavior is perhaps the most odious of the moderators there. Rather than have an actual discussion, he creates multiple one-off posts with closed comments, which means that associated critique is never attached to the post itself. This effectively allows him to perpetually reboot once destroyed arguments as if they are new and unassailable. This just shows us the strong connection between creationism and ID – creationists are still rolling out “2LoT” and “If we came from Monkeys” today.

All of KF’s posts are basically reformations of Hoyle’s tornado in a junkyard arguments: Complex things cannot spontaneously generate. Of course this has *nothing* to do with life and does not consider P(T|H). KF has yet to do any credible math pertaining to an evolutionary narrative. Sadly telling.

ID exists as an amorphous miasmic anti-evolutionary argument

The general trend at UD is for the IDists to tell us what they think evolution can’t do rather than what ID can do. It is gapism in its purest form. The target moves from PCD to abiogenesis to the first cell and they want a complete history of the evolution of life with pictures and an index of all the mutations as they happened. Given the ‘Jesus this’ and ‘God that’ that happens at UD, I wonder if they have the same high bar for other ‘historical’ events.

It is the North Korea of the internet

They silently ban, delete accounts, place in moderation, mark up others posts and post themselves with comments disabled. This degree of message control is a symptom of their arguments being completely noncompetitive when there is a free and fair exchange of ideas.

Uncommon Descent: Back to Banning?

Couldn’t resist the tribute to Denyse?

The new open policy at Uncommon Descent appears to have stalled somewhat. In trying to post a comment this morning I find it disappears. I tried on a couple of threads to no avail. Going on past behaviour, I suspect Barry Arrington has found having an open venue even less appealing than a blog dying from lack of traffic. Of course I could be wrong and will be ready to eat my hat if it turns out to be a glitch. Continue reading