More Anti-Materialism at UD

The WEDGIES are at it again, this time talking about NDEs (last time it was dreams producing CSI)

Heres’s the link:

and the old one

Both posted by Barry Arrington on NKendall’s behalf.

This thread is for commentary for those of us who can’t participate there.

Evolutionary Search

If evolution is not a search, why is the term “evolutionary search” not an oxymoron?

Over at Uncommon Descent Elizabeth posted the following:

“…any “search” algorithm worthy of the name of “evolutionary search” comes with its own moderately smooth fitness landscape built in.”

So evolution is a search if it comes pre-built with its own moderately smooth fitness landscape built in?

What is a “major form”?

A long time commenter at UncommonDescent gives his opinion on ID’s position with regard to common descent:

The design inference is compatible with common descent and with universal common descent; a certain Michael Behe is a case in point on this. Common descent all the way up to universal common descent, is compatible with intelligently directed configuration of first life and of major forms thereafter including our own.

Yet in all my time learning about ID it’s never been clear to me, if that’s the case why are there not specific predictions from ID about what we will find in the fossil record?

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Good UD post

Good guest post at Uncommon Descent by Aurelio Smith,


For those who prefer to comment here, this is your thread!

For me, the argument by Ewert Dembski and Marks reminds me of poor old Zeno and his paradox.  They’ve over-thought the problem and come to a conclusion that appears mathematically valid, but actually makes no sense.  Trying to figure out just the manner in which it makes no sense isn’t that easy, though I don’t think we need to invent the equivalent of differential calculus to solve it in this case.  I think it’s a simple case of picking the wrong model.  Evolution is not a search for anything, and information is not the same as [im]probability, whether you take log2 of it or not.  Which means that you don’t need to add Active Information to an Evolutionary Search in order to find a Target, because there’s no Target, no search, and the Active Information is simply the increased probability of solving a problem if you have some sort of feedback for each attempt, and partial solutions are moderately similar to better ones.


Intelligence Test: open thread


Intelligent Design proponents claim to be able to distinguish design from non-design. Here’s an easier task. Look at the inscription in the photograph. Is there any way to tell how old it is? I can tell you the stone turned up in an excavation in 1996 in the Pyrenees. Is there any way to tell if the marks are meaningful or gibberish?

What’s wrong with theistic objective morality–in 60 seconds

In what seems like a proof of Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence, the “is morality objective or subjective” debates are playing out yet again at UD.

Here, in 60 seconds or less, is why theistic objective morality doesn’t get off the ground:

[Results not guaranteed.  May vary with individual reading speed.]

1. For objective morality to have an impact, we need to a) know that it exists, b) know what it requires, and c) know that we have reliable access to it.  We don’t know any of those things.

2.  Lacking access to objective morality, all we have left is subjective morality — what each person thinks is right or wrong. This is just as true for the objectivist as it is for the subjectivist.

3. Even if God existed and we knew exactly what he expected of us, there would be no reason to regard his will as morally binding.  His morality would be just as subjective as ours.

A look at Keiths paper

So, here is the link to a paper which Keiths claims says something about income inequality, and I say is another example of the proliferation of shoddy science.

The highlight of the paper is this claim:

“We found that of the 40 search terms used more frequently in states with greater income inequality, more than 70% were classified as referring to status goods (e.g., designer brands, expensive jewelry, and luxury clothing). In contrast, 0% of the 40 search terms used more frequently in states with less income inequality were classified as referring to status goods.”

Where does one begin to critique the ridiculousness of this claim? 70% of the majority of searches are for luxury goods in some states, 0% of the most searched items in other states?

If one claims the difference in search patterns from one state to another is that dramatic, shouldn’t ones bs detector already be ringing alarm bells?

And what is considered a luxury good? What is the cut-off for equal states and unequal states? Did they decide the luxury terms before or after they viewed the data? Who do they claim is doing all this searching for luxury, the haves or the have nots?

The red flags are everywhere. Isn’t it likely that they had a conclusion that they wished to reach, and that they fulfilled their own prophecy?

Expensive watches and other Veblen goods

A few months ago, my trusty old Seiko died and I found myself in the market for a new watch.  I ended up buying a 100 Seiko, solar-powered this time so that I don't have to change the battery. It looks good and keeps time perfectly.  Why spend1,000, 5,000, or10,000 on a watch that does nothing more than my $100 Seiko?

The answer, of course, is status. Thorstein Veblen got it right in his classic Theory of the Leisure Class:

Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.


Since the consumption of these more excellent goods is an evidence of wealth, it becomes honorific; and conversely, the failure to consume in due quantity and quality becomes a mark of inferiority and demerit.

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Questions for Christians and other theists, part 3: The Atonement


This weekend, millions of Christians will express gratitude to Jesus Christ for saving them through his sacrifice.  Few of them will be asking the obvious follow-up question: “How does that work, exactly?”

Here’s Christianity’s dirty secret: No one has a good explanation of how atonement works. There is no consensus among Christians, and none of the theories offered actually make sense.

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