ID and AGW

Can someone familiar with the thinking at Uncommon Descent explain why there is such opposition to the idea of Anthropogenic Global Warming?  There’s this today, following several long commentaries by VJ Torley on the pope’s encyclical, mostly negative. I don’t get the connection. Is it general distrust of science? Or of the “Academy”?  Or is there something about the idea that we may be provoking a major extinction event that is antithetical to ID?  Or is it, possibly, that the evidence for major extinction events in the past is explains the various “explosions” that are adduced as evidence, if not for ID, then against “Darwinism”?

Continue reading


Apologies to anyone who tried to post an OP or send a PM over night and couldn’t.  Permissions are restored.

I was trying to set up a means for the admins to confer together on site rather than singly by PM  or by email, as a result, set the cat among the pigeon (skua among the penguins?) by first of all making a “password protected” page for the admins, new comments to which appeared in the “new comments” list, arousing great alarm, and in any case turned out to be visible from the dashboard.  So I tried another WP option which was to make it a “private” page, but people could still see it from the dashboard.  So I switched off that.  But then people couldn’r post OPs or receive PMs.  So I’ve restored it again.  We will keep the “private” admin page, but for those curious about it, you will find you can access its comments via the dashboard.   Which is fine by me – it wasn’t like we wanted to plot anything anyway, just have a means of conferring about stuff (security issues, strategies, plug-ins, rules etc) between our selves.  So this seems a good solution.  Nobody need get paranoid because they can always check the record, but it won’t be a prominent feature of the site.

The Modeling of Nature

As the new millennium approaches, our scientific knowledge of the universe surpasses that of any previous age. Yet, paradoxically, the philosophy of science movement is now in disarray. The collapse of logical empiricism and the rise of historicism and social constructivism have effectively left all of the sciences without an epistemology. The claims of realism have become increasingly difficult to justify, and, for many, the only alternatives are probabilism, pragmatism, and relativism.

But the case is not hopeless. According to William A.Wallace, a return to a realist concept of nature is plausible and, indeed, much needed. Human beings have a natural ability to understand the world in which they live. Many have suggested this understanding requires advanced logic and mathematics. Wallace believes that nature can more readily be understood with the aid of simple modeling techniques.

Through an ingenious use of iconic and epistemic models, Wallace guides the reader through the fundamentals of natural philosophy, explaining how the universe is populated with entities endowed with different natures – inorganic, plant, animal, and human. Much of this knowledge is intuitive, already in people’s minds from experience, education, and exposure to the media. Wallace builds on this foundation, making judicious use of cognitive science to provide a model of the human mind that illuminates not only the philosophy of nature but also the logic, psychology, and epistemology that are prerequisite to it.

With this background, Wallace sketches a history of the philosophy of science and how it has functioned traditionally as a type of probable reasoning. His concern is to go beyond probability and lay bare the epistemic dimension of science to show how it can arrive at truth and certitude in the various areas it investigates. He completes his study with eight case studies of certified scientific growth, the controversies to which they gave rise, and the methods by which they ultimately were resolved.

The Modeling of Nature provides an excellent introduction to the fundamentals of natural philosophy, psychology, logic, and epistemology.

William J. Murray has repeatedly questioned the prevalent materialist epistemology evident here at TSZ.

But are the sciences as a whole without an epistemology, and why?

What could possibly ground an epistemology of science?

More questions for Barry Arrington

At UD, Barry has written another hypocritical OP criticizing former NBC anchor Brian Williams. I have some questions for him:


Given your own deception and dishonesty, why are you so concerned with the deception and dishonesty of Brian Williams? Are you angry that he’s encroaching on your territory?

When will you explain what happened to Aurelio Smith’s comments, and why it happened?

Will you ever explain why you deleted this entire thread?

How do you reconcile your abysmal behavior with your claim of “having a standard of integrity far beyond what the world requires”?

A question for Barry Arrington

He has reified the abstract concept of gravity and attributed casual [sic] powers to the reified concept. It is easy to fall into that hole, and we should all watch out for it.
Barry Arrington, June 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

I hear from intelligent-design proponents that information is neither matter nor energy, is conserved by material processes, and is created only by intelligence. Would you please explain how they determined that intelligence is real, and not merely an abstraction? I’d like to see you contrast it with gravity.

The Intelligent Design Catch-22

Herman Reith says that the trouble with the design argument is that “the examples used and the interpretation given them prevents the argument from rising to the metaphysical level…above the order of the physical universe,” so that “it cannot conclude to anything more than the existence of some kind of intelligence and power” within that universe. … Christopher F.J. Martin … avers that “the Being whose existence is revealed to us by the argument from design is not God but the Great Architect of the Deists and Freemasons, an imposter disguised as God.”

…arguments like Paley’s … cannot in principle get us outside the natural order to a divine intellect of pure actuality but at most to an anthropomorphic demiurge.

– Edward Feser. On Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley: A Reply to Marie George

I may be a bit different from the typical IDist in that I am a huge fan of Edward Feser. His criticism here of ID is that it cannot get you to God.

What’s more, the modern design argument cannot get you to God even in principle.:

But the problem is not just that Paley’s designer may be something other than God as classicasl theism understand Him. There is reason to think that Paley’s designer could not be God as classical theism understands Him.

…Paley’s procedure is to model his designer on human designers. By implication, his designer exercises the same faculty human designers do–he works out design problems, performs calculations, and so forth–but does so with massively greater facility. He is an essentially anthropomorphic designer. And as such it is hard to see how he could be as classical theism says God is — absolutley simple, immutable, eternal, and so forth.

– Edward Feser, Natural Theology Must Be Founded in Philosophy

So on the one hand we have some critics of ID claiming the problem with ID is that it’s not about God and on the other hand we have critics of ID claiming the problem with ID is that it is about God. Must be nice to be an ID critic!

For those of you who think that ID really is “about God” why not adopt the approach of Edward Feser?

Do Animals Have A Sense Of Self?

Professor Hills and Professor Stephen Butterfill, from Warwick’s Department of Philosophy, created different descriptive models to explain the process behind the rat’s deliberation at the ‘choice points’.
One model, the Naive Model, assumed that animals inhibit action during simulation. However, this model created false memories because the animal would be unable to tell the differences between real and imagined actions.

“The study answers a very old question: do animals have a sense of self? Our first aim was to understand the recent neural evidence that animals can project themselves into the future. What we wound up understanding is that, in order to do so, they must have a primal sense of self.”

“As such, humans must not be the only animal capable of self-awareness. Indeed, the answer we are led to is that anything, even robots, that can adaptively imagine themselves doing what they have not yet done, must be able to separate the knower from the known.”

Read more at:

The false equivalence between Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner

In the wake of the Rachel Dolezal scandal, some voices on the right are trying (predictably) to draw a false equivalence between Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner.  Why criticize Dolezal for assuming a black identity, they ask, if we praise Caitlyn Jenner for assuming a female one?

My answer: I criticize Dolezal for lying.  Dolezal lied repeatedly and Jenner didn’t. It’s that simple.

Bad Materialism

In various threads there have been various discussions about what materialism is, and isn’t, and various definitions have been proposed and cited.  In this thread I want to ask a different question, addressed specifically to those who regard “materialism” as a bad thing.  William, for instance, has said that “materialism” was “disproven” in the 18th century, yet laments

the spread of an 18th century myth in our public school system and in our culture at large.

So here is my question: if you are against something called “materialism” and see it as a bad thing (for whatever reason), what is your definition of the “materialism” you are against?

Statistical Hypothesis Testing


The page is quite good, but I’d like the Math Gods that write here to give their thoughts on the relative strengths and applicability of the various models (T test, Chi squared and F-test / Anova)

I’d also welcome discussion on the null hypothesis and what that rejection of it does and doesn’t entail.

Questions welcomed, Design detectives feel free to contribute.


n a piece posted on the Discovery Institute website, responding to bad publicity surrounding the Wedge Document , the author or authors write:

Far from attacking science (as has been claimed), we are instead challenging scientific materialism –  the simplistic philosophy or world-view that claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone. We believe that this is a defense of sound science.

So there we have a one definition of “scientific” materialism: “the world-view that claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone”.

Continue reading

Alzheimer’s and Evolution

I have to say, while the UD “newsdesk” is terrible source for comment on scientific news, the links themselves are often interesting.  Today, the UD “newsdesk” reports on a pretty interesting study, reported in Nature, here, and a preprint of which seems to be open access here

It’s been apparent for a while from Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) that “risk” alleles for various mental disorders, despite being statistically significant, have extremely small effect sizes.  In other words, while the studies show that many mental disorders are indeed associated with specific alleles (and we already know that many are highly heritable, including schizophrenia, ADHD and Alzheimer’s), there aren’t just a few rogue alleles of large effect (well, there are, but they are far rarer than these disorders), but instead, a whole cocktail of alleles with very slightly raised Odds Ratios for certain disorders (and some are shared between multiple disorders).  This means that the vast majority of people carrying these “risk alleles” are perfectly fine. That would help explain why they have not been weeded out by selection.

Continue reading

Boycott TSZ

I thought about it. But decided not to.

First, as I have said, I think the boycott of UD is irrational. So why should I respond by doing something equally irrational? I shouldn’t.

Second, I think debate should be encouraged not discouraged. Boycotting the main site for the oppositon is hardly conducive to that end. To borrow a phrase from Elizabeth, there’s something asymmetrical here.

And third, I’m the real skeptic here. Unlike you poseurs.

Lots of interesting subjects raised in the UD is Dead Thread.

What is a body plan?
the capacity of the human mind to see what it wants to see
Is biology even science?
Is fantasy better than real life?
Where does the energy come from to move the goalposts?
If everyone accepts ID, why can’t it be science?
Materialism is dead matter
Is the flagellum manufactured or replicated?
is a self-replicating automaton even possible?
If not then entire machine metaphor needs to go. Or is it dead too?
In what sense are physical laws materialist?
Are crop circles made of crops?
Can you spell epistemological verificationism?
What is a genome?
The Multiple Designer Hypothesis

Don’t feel slighted Tom, I figure you’ll start your own thread when you get to it. 🙂
Unlike Gregory. Is there anything that is NOT designed?

Uncommon Descent is starving

If Uncommon Descent (UD) is not suffering from our departure, then why has the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture stooped to lame promotion of the site? I’m referring to an ID the Future podcast, “Eric Anderson: Probability & Design.” It begins with Casey Luskin singing the praises of UD.

[Eric Anderson…] for the past year has been a contributing author about intelligent design at the great intelligent design blog, Uncommon­ So, quick plug for Uncommon Descent. If you’re an “ID the Future” listener and you’ve never checked it out, go to Uncommon­ And it’s a great ID blog, kind of like It has many participants, and many contributors, of which Eric is one of the main authors there.

And it ends with Casey Luskin steering listeners to UD.

And I would encourage our listeners to go check out the blog Uncommon Descent. That’s Uncommon, and the last word is spelled D-E-S-C-E-N-T, dot com. So “descent” like you’re going down into something. So Uncommon­

Continue reading

The New Atheists–bash, defend, or both

Lots of folks on both sides of the ID divide have strong feelings about prominent New Atheists, particularly the “Four Horsemen” – Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens – and Jerry Coyne.

Here’s a thread in which to air your criticisms of them, or defend them, or a bit of both, as the spirit moves you.


A look at reasons not to have open and honest dialogue (Comments open)

KF has picked up on my previous thread here:

And to his credit he highlights my reasons why I think closed comments monologues do not represent an open and honest way to explore an issue.

I cannot find any of the points refuted but he instead suggests that “The central problem with this is that it (tellingly) brushes aside highly relevant context of abusive threadjacking and insistent accusations/insinuations in response to a thread here at UD that began: “Let’s discuss . . . “

Here is the link to that:

KF claims that “An article that, from the opening words, was an invitation to civil discussion. Which, was met with a threadjacking stunt.”

That’s an interesting take. “…an invitation to civil discussion.”

I hold, as I think does EL and other objectors, that a fair venue is a prerequisite for a fair discussion. A place where people’s comments will not be altered and deleted. Discussions represent an investment of people’s time and UD has, shamefully in my opinion, broken trust with its participants by editing, shouting over and completely deleting the entire history of posters.

This is something that when we see it in history that most people find abhorrent:

And UD as ID’s premier website does itself and its readers a disservice in engaging in it, without acknowledgement.

Having a good debate is helped by having the best venue possible and this is now clearly TSZ as it has a transparent and honest moderation policy, one that has very recently protected KF’s pseudo-anonymity. There is nothing stopping KF posting here unless he fears an honest playing field where he can’t arbitrarily control dialogue. It is the best venue for the reasons above.

If KF finds comments ‘not on topic at’ TSZ, he can simply ignore them. I think many people find massive holes in his FSCO/I concept (Dr. Ewert clearly being one of them) and this would provide him a forum to put his ideas to the test.

Should other entities in the world or on the ‘net be giving KF a hard time then he has TSZ’s sympathies and a statement that we do not endorse or support that sort of thing. There is no reason to try and link those events with TSZ unless you’re looking for an excuse not to have open dialogue.


So the ball’s in your court, KF. FSCO/I, or any other topic you choose.