Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

1,772 thoughts on “Sandbox

  1. I don’t know if anyone will be able to see this, but if you are a logged in, registered user and click on the little speech bubble on the dashboard bar, you’ll get a list of comments awaiting moderation.  You’ll also see this warning message:

    Akismet has detected a problem. Some comments have not yet been checked for spam by Akismet. They have been temporarily held for moderation. Please check your Akismet configuration and contact your web host if problems persist.

    This suggests that either Akismet is unreachable, possibly due to the recent storm, or that bit rot has set in and we need to summon Lizzie back somehow.

    If you can’t see this, please ignore it.

  2. That’s wierd! Comments seem to be going through again. Has somebody been by and fixed things without saying Hi?

  3. petrushka,

    I thought of you when I saw this today:

    That’s still pretty far from determining functionality without doing the actual chemistry, but I suspect that IDCists will be happily quote mining from that paper shortly.

  4. Hmmm…..

    My guess is that industrial protein design will still require doing the chemistry. 

  5. Toronto: So just to be sure I have it right, you do not believe in a literal Noah’s Ark story as portrayed in the Bible.


    Mung: I don’t even know what that question means.

    Do i think the entire account was made up, as in fiction?


    What’s your evidence that Jesus wasn’t raised form the dead?

    Do you deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth?

    It makes no sense to have a resurrection of someone who is making the “ultimate sacrifice”.

    If I was asked to give my life for mankind, but in reality I would be resurrected after three days and rule the universe for eternity, I would volunteer for the job.

    Only if Jesus were truly killed off forever would his sacrifice make sense, so no, being raised/rescued from the dead doesn’t make sense, particularly if he knew that was going to happen beforehand.

    Whether Jesus was actually ever alive doesn’t change the importance of the story, but I’m going to say that the Bible’s version of him is not literally true.



  6. Joe:

    “Mt Everest did not exist in the pre-flood world. All the mountains and ocean basins were created during the flood year. That is if you actually know the flood story. “

    “Not quite. The ocean’s basins weren’t as deep as they are now and water would have been circulating under the continents. There it would get warmed up and when it came out it would help keep the earth nice and warm. “

    “And I will say there is more evidence for the Ark story than there is for your position.”

    Hilarious! Hand-wave away those inconvenient mountains and oceans, build an Everest or two with a year’s worth of tidal energy from a water body that wasn’t in fact all that deep – including the Rockies, say, built largely from 20,000ft or more of seabed strata? All entombed organisms neatly preserved in apparent evolutionary sequence, radio-isotopes decayed in the appropriate scientist-fooling pattern?

    10% of the earth’s sedimentary rock is limestone – mostly fossil shells, coral skeletons, tests etc. How did such a supersaturated body of not-very-deep water hold all that Ca/Mg, let alone the organisms that incorporated it? How did the atmosphere support that much CO2 before it was locked in the sediment? Do some sums. You accuse evolution of ‘just-so’ stories, but your own are quite eye-wateringly ad hoc. Testify at Dover ll. Please.

  7. Over the years that I have watched them I would say that the “arguments” of the ID/creationists have never approached anything that could be called sane.  There has always been an element of desperate attempts at one-upmanship in them.  They have to win at all costs.

    It got even worse when they were taunting scientists for public debates back in the 1970s through the 1990s; and their taunts today still contain that note of desperation for a public ride on the back of a high-profile scientist.

    I think their “arguments” seem to be getting worse, however.  They have resorted to making up “scientific explanations” for the stories in their holy book and, when anyone asks for the evidence supporting those “explanations,” they claim it is in their bible.

    The most likely explanation for this appears to be their accumulation of packaged arguments against science and evolution that have been prepared and churned out by propaganda mills like AiG, the ICR, and the DI over the last 40 years.  Camp followers of ID/creationism can now keep files and files of ready-to-fling crap close at hand; and they can copy/paste it without having a clue what it means or without having to think.  All they have to do is dump huge boatloads of it on anyone they want to overwhelm.  That seems to be their standard tactic these days; and it is certainly evident over at UD.

    However, that new tactic has simply rendered their general lack of even a high school education in science even more obvious; and I would add that even their dear leaders with “PhDs” don’t comprehend science at the high school level.  They are just better at faking it with the appearance of more erudition.  Nevertheless it is still crap.



  8. Rich said: You’re right Alan. I was just fascinated by Joe’s YEcism and attempted defense that the flood was a historic event.

    If this is the same Joe that was ejected from this blog, I seem to remember that he is the one that thinks all melted things are called water. Thus, as I recall, according to him, all compounds and elements have different names depending on whether or not they are in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state. He apparently thinks that water can be called water only in the liquid state. He doesn’t appear to know that water can exist in several phases.

    Mercury is a liquid at room temperature; but it is still called mercury, not water. It is also called mercury in its solid and gaseous phases. The same goes for lead, copper, iron, air, and other compounds and elements.

    Children in middle school learn about the phases of matter and that the compound name refers to the compound while the various states of solid, liquid, or gaseous don’t need to have different names. That any of them do have different names is simply a matter of history for those compounds or elements.

    So, for example, one can go to a chemistry or physics handbook and find tables of compounds and elements along with properties such as their melting and vaporization points. Some those tables use the chemical compound formula and others use a common name.

    There are tables for sea water showing melting points for various salinities, for example. The tables are not called “ice at various salinities.”

    I don’t know anything about this Joe character other than the foul-mouthed trail he left here; but it appears that he never got past middle school in his education, if even that. His only method of “arguing” is to call people names and swear a lot. That’s pretty childish.

    This is another way we can tell that most ID/creationists – YEC’s in particular – do not have high school levels of understanding of science. They always run away from the most elementary concepts in science and attempt to portray themselves as experts by copy/pasting material they can’t vet or understand.

  9. Joe responded to your piece about ‘flood physics’ by arguing your opinion is worthless (or words to that effect! :) ) because you think water can melt! I do wonder what the UD tsars make of him. They can’t think he’s doing them any favours?

  10. LOL! :-)


    The pages over at UD are taking a long time to load and aren’t turning out to be worth the wait; so I gave up a couple of months ago trying to follow the conversations over there.

    I don’t know if this Joe character is just a persona or if he is really that dumb.  Either way, he wears thin pretty quickly; like a foul-mouthed doll that has only two or three strings of insults and epithets for each pull of the string.

  11. Well … unlikely to be a persona (far too much effort keeping that up just for funzies) so …

    Essence of Joe is distilled at his blog, Intelligent Reasoning, away from the restraining leash of UD civility rules. Many delight in aggravating him, and he seems only too eager to oblige.

  12. Sheesh; what an emotional and psychological mess!

    He doesn’t seem to be aware either.

    I can see why UD might like him; he is openly what the UD people try to hide about themselves.

  13. KF: And the 4,000+ comments pro and con in the several threads triggered since Sept give the lie to the well-poisoning talking point that no serious exchange of ideas can be had at UD.

    Mung: Yes, they not only lie to others, also they lie to themselves.

    Martyrs for the cause of Darwinism. How utterly pathetic.

    Mung – you are entirely free to post here at TSZ, but choose not do do so. Virtually no-one here is able to post at UD. Where’s the lie in that? A discussion of sorts has taken place, but one could hardly big-up UD as some bastion of frank exchange. 

    ‘Dissenters’ were chucked from UD as being “not worth talking to”. Since when y’all have talked about little else. But of necessity (due to bannings on this side, and the fact that hardly any of you venture out of the snug confines) via this megaphone-across-a-canyon model, which certainly strikes me as rather pathetic.

  14. One might say that  the 4000+ posts made at UD in response to people currently banned from UD give the lie to the claim that those banned are incapable of serious discussion.

  15. Nick Matzke has just alerted Panda’s Thumb to Jerry Coyne’s “A Marshall McLuhan Moment with Creationist Paul Nelson”; and the people over at UD are frantically trying to word-game it all away.

    This incident alone illustrates the futility of trying to carry on discussions with ID/creationists. The fear and loathing of science is so deep into the ID/creationist subculture – and in the hot house “philosophizing” at UD – that they routinely latch onto and embrace every scrap of junk science and pseudo-philosophy in order to appear erudite, intellectual, and morally refined critics of science.

    Yet they rigorously avoid learning any science even as they demonize the science community and project their own seething attitudes and hatreds onto scientists.

    It makes for good study and profiling; but it doesn’t do much for discussion and interaction.

  16. Hey, thanks for pointing out Jerry Coyne’s new thread.

    I had to laugh at the first paragraph of YECcer Paul Nelson’s email to Jerry:

    Dear Jerry,
    I’m sending this email.  I’d post this in the comments of the new Shapiro thread, but I’m now persona non grata at WEIT. [JAC note: he's never been banned; he just feels unwelcome.] 

    Nelson can’t even get past his second sentence without demonstrating his cowardice in the face of open dialogue, so typical of IDers and creobots.  

    Yep, you got it: fear and loathing of science.


  17. This incident alone illustrates the futility of trying to carry on discussions with ID/creationists.

    I am beginning to think you’re right! The UD response is a classic of desperate re-spin.

  18. We have an example right her. I posted two creationist responses to the McLaughlin paper, and we have Mung’s interpretation.

    They all argue that McLaughlin supports creationism or ID. 

  19. I’d like to request that no one post on the new Mung thread until he has had a chance to make his case. If I were presented with this opportunity I would like a day or so to write an essay.

  20. You are indeed an optimist. :-)

    But, no problem; I have already profiled him – it took all of about 5 minutes a couple of days ago – and I have no interest in any of his games.

  21. A note to Mung:

    If you can write up a decent statement for that thread, I can move that to the main post text. Include a new title if you want that changed. And I think I can set you as the author, though I’m not sure what abilities that gives you.

    A note to others: JoeG has posted his own version of this on his blog.

  22. I can save you guys some trouble by quoting Joe’s argument:

    3- There is plenty of evidence for design starting with the fact there isn’t any suppoting evidence for materialism and evolutionism

  23. Then there’s Paul Nelson’s contribution: 

     Mutations that disrupt body plan formation are inevitably deleterious.

    It would appear somewhat superfluous to say that disruptive mutations are inevitably deleterious.

  24. sez neil rickert: “I think I can set [Mung] as the author, though I’m not sure what abilities that gives [Mung].”
    Are you sure that would be wise? Two words: Chris Doyle.

  25. Are you sure that would be wise? Two words: Chris Doyle.

    Chris Doyle had author privileges for the site.  I was not suggesting that.  Mung currently has only contributor privileges, which I would not change.

    As an administrator, I am able to edit the post.  One of the options is to change the author.  A list shows up, giving all members that I can assign as author.  And Mung appears in that list.  I have not tested this (by clicking the “update” button), so I am not sure it would work.  If that works, then Mung would show as the author of that one post, even though he does not have author privileges.  I’m not sure, but I think he could not delete the full already published threads.

    Here’s a wordpress explanation of user roles:

    It is not completely clear what abilities a contributor member would have for a thread to which he had been set as author.

  26. Cubist:

    Are you sure that would be wise? Two words: Chris Doyle

    I agree with Neil and Petrushka. We can’t prejudge people’s actions on what others have done. Also author privileges only allow a post author to moderate his own thread to some extent.

    Originally, Lizzie set up the site so that all members were author status by default. I don’t think the sky will fall in if we allow author status to anyone that requests it.

    So mung has author status now. Also, I have no idea why petrushka is not an author, so, (s)he is now. I hope petrushka can find time to put something together, maybe even something on the rarity of unknown protein sequences. :)

  27. They all argue that McLaughlin supports creationism or ID

    Anyone else sense a Marshall McLuhan moment in the offing?

  28. A personal statement from Rama Ragnanathan on his CV

    Biological systems self-assemble under physiological conditions and can display functional properties that rival or exceed the performance of many man-made systems. For example, proteins fold spontaneously into well-ordered three-dimensional structures that exhibit the capacity for specific molecular recognition, catalysis of complex chemical reactions, signal transmission, and allosteric regulation. At a larger spatial scale, networks of proteins assemble in cells to form well-ordered signaling systems that provide for complex, non-linear signal processing capabilities. Because we assume that such properties require great precision in the design of systems, one view is to regard proteins and cells as finely tuned machines that are somehow exactly arranged for mediating their selected function. However, other aspects seem less consistent with this view. For example, biological systems are thought to be robust to random perturbation; that is, they display tolerance to removal or alteration of many system components. In addition, they are plastic; that is, they maintain the ability to adapt to changing selection pressures by allowing specific variation of a few system components to alter function profoundly. This curious mixture of robustness to random perturbation and yet sensitivity to specific perturbation suggests that despite the appearance of precise construction throughout, strong functional heterogeneity exists in the design of evolved systems. That is, some parts and connections are much more important than others.

    Inspired by these ideas, our main goals are (1) to systematically map the pattern of interactions between the components that make up biological systems, (2) to mechanistically understand the operation of these systems, and (3) to define the evolutionary principles that generate these (and not other) architectures. In other words, we wish to understand what nature has built, how it works, and why it is built the way it is. In principle, such understanding would provide powerful rules for the rational engineering and control of biological systems, and would begin to explain how they are even possible through the random algorithmic process that we call evolution.

  29. sez alan fox: “We can’t prejudge people’s actions on what others have done.”
    I’m judging Mung’s actions on what Mung has done. Mung’s approach to intellectual discourse is pretty clearly that of a typical Creationist; thus, I think it’s only prudent to consider the possibility if Mung is given editing-type powers, he will, similarly, abuse those powers in the same way a typical Creationist would abuse them. It’s all well and good to give people the benefit of the doubt… but in Mung’s case, what ‘doubt’ is there for him to be given the benefit of?
    Of course, the above is only my personal opinion, and nobody else is required to agree with me, or even give a tenth of a tinker’s damn what I say. Should Mung be granted editing-type powers, it will be interesting to see what he does with said powers.

  30. Should Mung be granted editing-type powers, it will be interesting to see what he does with said powers.

    He would, at most, have powers in threads where he is the author. If you are concerned about that, then take occasional backups of any such threads. For example, if your system allows printing to a pdf file, then you could occasionally generate pdf files of the thread(s) of concern.

    I’m not at all sure that he will even start his own thread.

  31. test

    Can’t seem to post anywhere else

    To be specific, I can’t post to the Paul Nelson thread.

  32. I am not able to see a problem. I did a test post to the Nelson thread. That was successful, though I am probably the wrong person to test that. I can’t see any problem with your user settings. Your IP is not on the banned list.

    There is nothing in the moderation queue, and nothing showing as spam.

  33. Oh shoot! I hope this isn’t my fault. 

    I changed your status to author. Can you access the dashboard?

  34. Penguin Colony is back up and seems to be functional. Updating resets defaults that make it non-viewable. 

  35. Alan,

    I see the following message at the top of each page:

    You have activated a Bronze WP Symposium feature, but you have not entered your Activation Code. You can get your Activation Code on the Membership page on the WP Symposium website.

    It appears that the symposium plugin has both free and paid features, and that if you activate one of the paid features it requires an activation code that costs $40 per year. Perhaps Lizzie activated the feature and paid for it more than a year ago, or maybe you inadvertently activated it when trying to get the Penguin Colony back up.

  36. On William J Murray’s thread over at UD, they are still trying to determine if there is any quantitative way of distinguishing an artifact (intelligently designed structure) from a naturally occurring structure.

    Despite all the comments over there, we haven’t heard from Murray about what – on an intelligence scale of, say, amoeba to human – is required to make such a distinction.

    If we allow that he is talking about humans, what specific forms of knowledge are required to make such distinctions?

    What knowledge is required to distinguish between a cubic structure made of ping pong balls and a cubic structure made of sodium chloride molecules?

    What specific knowledge is required to distinguish between a crystalline solid and amino acids?

    What specific knowledge is required to distinguish between a battle ship and amino acids?

    What specific knowledge is required to distinguish between amino acids and proteins?

    Where along the chain of complexity of atomic/molecular assemblies do we distinguish between a natural assembly and an artifact? Just where does that transition occur?

    Later in that same thread, kairosfocus comes to the rescue with a calculation. Can kairosfocus’ calculation to show that a particular stone has FSCO/I also be used to show that the planet Saturn has FSCO/I?

    Where did Saturn’s FSCO/I come from? What mechanisms produced it?

    Whether one has a “Sequence Probability Calculator” or whether one does essentially the same calculation but goes on to take the negative of the logarithm to base 2 of that calculation, what does that prove?

    What does that prove even if the logarithm to base 2 comes out greater than 500? If I take enough sample points by taking many probabilities of increasingly finer details, raising them to various powers and multiply them together, and taking the log to base 2, can I make anything into an artifact?

  37. What they never deal with is the issue of whether FSCO/I or dFSCI or CSI or FCSI of whatever can also be produced (or if you think it is already lying around in the environment, put into the genome) by natural selection.

    As I keep trying to point out, William Dembski’s “proof” that CSI cannot be put into the genome by natural selection plus random mutation are proofs that don’t work, they don’t do the job.

    They have a 100% record over at UD of ignoring this point, and they keep ignoring it. And they keep asserting, again and again, that if you see FCSO/I or dFCSI or CSI or FCSI, that diagnoses Design, that it shows that natural selection cannot be responsible. But it can.

    For all that they try to wrap themselves in the mantle of science, this makes clear that their arguments are weak. Fatally weak. 

  38. Allan Miller:

    despair – Hoyle’s Fallacy has been batted around for years. Without a handle on the density distribution of ‘targets’ in the space – including the subspace of shorter strings – calculations of impossibility based upon the size of the combinatorial space are utterly meaningless.

    Yes, let’s pretend that Hoyle was clueless.


  39. Joe Felsenstein:

    As the Original Post here argues, niwrad in effect argued that protein evolution was impossible.

    The debate is stalled. What is the essence o a protein?

  40. I don’t think you can. But if you can, here is how:

    Go to the comments page. You can get there clicking on the little bubble/cloud/whatever on the bar at the top of the screen. In the left column of the comments page, there will be a “Move” entry. Click on that. If there is no “Move” in the menu, then you can’t do it.

    Assuming you get to Move, you select the thread, then the comments in the thread, then the destination thread. It still might not work for you. It works for me as moderator.

    If it won’t work for you, then give me a list of comments that you want moved. Just use the comment numbers (appears in the url for the comment).

    If you use the “contact me” form in the “about” page of my blog, I might see it quicker than a post here. Also, that will be more private. My name on this post should link to my blog.

  41. Yes, let’s pretend that Hoyle was clueless.

    Hoyle made genuinely Nobel-worthy contributions to astrophysics. On biology: yes, he was clueless.


  42. Too late.  I can’t remove some of the comments because people replied to them. My lack of ability as a thread-level moderator to move anybody to the Sandbox is now working against having a sensible discussion, when trollish behavior occurs.

    Neil, “Sandbox” does not show up in the list of threads I can Move anyone to. The only alternative I can think of (aside from you informing me how I could Move comments to the Sandbox) is to create a new thread, which would be a dumping ground for trollery. 

  43. Neil, “Sandbox” does not show up in the list of threads I can Move anyone to.

    I only know three ways around this:
    (1) you ask an administrator to move them;
    (2) I temporarily change the sandbox thread to make you the listed author – perhaps that allows you to move to sandbox;
    (3) I make you an administrator – I hesitate on that, since it should be Elizabeth who makes that kind of decision.

    I will await reactions.

    [addendum] Another option would be for you to mark the offending comments as unapproved, and send me a note that you want them moved. That allows a quick reaction and a longer period to straighten things out.

  44. Neil, interestingly the list of threads that I am asked to choose from when I want to Move a comment includes mostly ones for which I am not the thread author. Of course, perhaps the blog software will refuse to let me complete the Move for most of them. I don’t know.

  45. In that case, I’m guessing that “Sandbox” is there, but you are having trouble finding it.

    It is around 50% down (going by the scroll bar). The topics are probably arranged in date-order.

    Whether or not it will allow you to move, I do not know.

  46. Now that Uncommon Descent is focusing on religion and philosophy instead of science, there’s not much “science” from their side to be skeptical about.

    I would love to see kairosfocus defend his views here, but that will never happen.


  47. Hi Petrushka,
    I’m having a good time reading old posts and comments.  

    I was brought up in a YEC church.  I was taught to fear evo as it was a lie of satan.  Studying science at a state school showed me reality.  A few years ago, PZ linked to a story about profs at one of the church colleges getting in trouble for supporting evolution.  I found some rather liberal church related sites and tried to talk reason and tolerance in support of evo but comments seem to turn into heated bible debate with theologians and lawyers.  My presence seemed counter-productive in that, not only do I support naturalistic science, I’m also a non believer and they don’t want their kids ending up like me.  So I’ve stopped commenting.  The debate still fascinates me.  Im glad I found this site.  It’s great reading scientific argument on the subject by experts.

    On one of the threads I came across a comment of yours: “An empiricist is a philosopher with appendicitis.”  -did I remember it right?  xlnt.  May I steal it?  :-)
    Cheers,  dl 

  48. That’s my comment, but it seems a bit odd out of context. It’s a takeoff of Tom Lehrer’s joke about a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.

  49. Sorry.
    It wasn’t odd when I read it.
    It fits perfectly for many with whom I tried to talk on the christian forums.  Theologians and lawyers can write long and wordy paragraphs defending their beliefs yet totally miss the real world (appendicitis).  I loved it.

  50. Petrushka

    Yes – check in once in a while, but lazily let other people start topics.

    I am tentatively working on a piece on the OoL, but cannot guarantee it will ever see the light of day. Calls on time, but also anticipation of the level of response. No matter how often Hoyle’s Fallacy is disinterred and reburied, someone pops up with a great calculation that no-one thought of before regarding the enormity of protein space … :)

    Weren’t you working on KF’s essay challenge?

  51. I’ve been snoozing here in the corner. A bit of drool on my shirt to prove it.

    I’ll admit to feeling sated by UB’s fatal concessions over at UD.


  52. I’ll admit to feeling sated by UB’s fatal concessions over at UD.

    Can you recap or post a link?

  53. I found a famous creationist book at my local library branch, and am working on a post on an argument in it. May take a week or so. But anyway I’ve been accounting for too much of the bandwidth here, so someone else please post in the meantime.

  54. This has to be my favorite response in the thread:

    RB: If your definition of “plausible” is “That which UB and the Budweiser toads (Joe and Mung) find it plausible,” I’ll pass.

  55. I peeked at that thread. How sad. 

    What did interest me was Upright noting that a “more formal” version of his “argument” will be forthcoming soon. 

    It might be the publication that tips ID over the edge.

    What edge? Well, that’s up to Upright.  

  56. I’m sure his “more formal” version will address every criticism raised here.  I’m personally looking forward to the answer to the question “Assuming your argument is sound, how exactly does it support ID?”

  57. I believe that would require a slight edit of the question. Here’s my proposed version: “assuming you can stop making contradictory claims concerning your semiotic concept, how exactly does it support anything?”

  58. A topic I’ve been rolling around for a while now is ‘How completely can ID be described without once referring to Evolution/Darwinism (i.e. any non ID explanation of biological objects)‘? 

    A statement is often made for reality based methods of understanding the world like “were we to throw away all our textbooks and forget everything, we’d still rediscover all the same things again. Water will still be h20 whatever particular symbols we were using for “h” and “o” and even “2″.

    Whereas if the Bible (or take your pick) was to be forgotten, it would not be recreated in any way similar to the Bible we know now. Just look at the wide selection of origin myths out there. 

    So, along those lines, if we were to “forget” all we know about biology and the origin of species etc, what would “Intelligent Design” look like? How well could it be described? To what depth? Would it actually then “explain” anything?

    As if, as Behe thinks, the “designer” just edges things (somehow) over the edge, then they’d still end up with exactly what we have now. And, the strange thing is, we have that now. So without Darwin Behe could never have written his book. Odd. 

    So if the powers that be want to let me post a new thread along these lines, I’ll do so, I’ll be equally as happy to take part in a thread someone else starts along these lines.  

  59. One of my favorite Penn Jillette quotes:

    If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again.  There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense.  If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

    Your question “…if we were to ‘forget’ all we know about biology and the origin of species etc, what would ‘Intelligent Design’ look like?” is one I would like to hear an ID proponent answer.  More generally, I’d like to see an ID proponent detail the observations they are attempting to explain, provide an hypothesis to explain those observations, and describe the tests that would serve to confirm or disprove the hypothesis.

    That’s never going to happen, of course, because ID isn’t about biology, it’s about subverting the US Supreme Court rulings prohibiting the teaching of creationism in public schools.  Both the Wedge Document and the work done by the NCSE culminating in the “cdesign proponentsists” smoking gun make the history and intent of ID painfully clear.

  60. What if we had all the detailed knowledge of biology, but no theory of change? What would we come up with?

    Now pretend that religion doesn’t exist and never has. What then? 

  61. I found a famous creationist book at my local library branch, and am working on a post on an argument in it. May take a week or so. But anyway I’ve been accounting for too much of the bandwidth here, so someone else please post in the meantime.

    I don’t think anyone objects to you posting here as much as you want, Joe. I did, in a desultory way, start on one on semiotics but there doesn’t even seem any spark of interest even over at UD and I couldn’t sustain the little enthusiasm I had.

    It feels like we have all stayed too long at the party. Things are winding down but we might just stick around to watch the sunrise and share a bacon sandwich. I guess this site relies to a large extent on something new or challenging coming out of the ID movement, or at least some ID proponents venturing out to have their ideas tested. I can’t seem to get much of a rise out of them on their home ground either. Now the religious nature of ID is openly admitted (even UB is happy to talk about “agency”), ID loses its raison d’être and will continue the slide into obscurity.

    While it’s quiet, what is the consensus on upgrading to the current version of WordPress? The upgrade process seems pretty bombproof when I tried it on a couple of my WordPress-format blogs.

  62. While it’s quiet, what is the consensus on upgrading to the current version of WordPress?

    My one concern would be whether that could leave the site in a state where it is inaccessible, and only Elizabeth could fix.

  63. You’re right, Neil. It’s just the lure of that yellow banner… I do  occasionally export content using the export/import facility on the dashboard to an external hard disc which in theory could be reimported to reconstruct the site. I did experiment to see if it worked by attempting to re-import to a blank site. The upload kept timing out which I put down to a slow upload speed as I am at the end of over 6 km of copper. Maybe Lizzie is still lurking and still doing the odd database save.

    Edited to add

    I have added a plugin intended to save back-ups and have downloaded the file. I’m just seeing if it’s possible to restore the backup into a blank wordpress blog on my server but with a slow connection it’s taking forever to upload. Anyone with a fibre-optic connection like to try?

  64. We’ve looked at the turgid writings of David Abel, ripped apart Granville Sewell’s inability to check units when plugging things into equations, tried to make sense of the pseudo-metaphysical arguments over at UD, and put up with feces flinging from the UD trolls.

    But once it is clear the there is nothing to ID/creationism but a lot of pretentious hot air, there is nothing left to discuss and no hope that there ever will be anything to discuss.

    ID/creationism is just not an intellectually challenging or engaging topic once it has been given a cursory evaluation.

    Much of the effort to combat ID/creationism has to take place in the political realm where the ID/creationist zombies still plod on and on.

  65. I think there still is reason to refute ID arguments (unless they find one that actually works). Because although we have drawn our conclusions, they are still using these arguments, and those arguments look sciency to undecided people.

    Granville Sewell is still proving plants can’t grow, and lots of ID commenters are still saying that if CSI can be found (basically if organisms are adapted a lot better than they would be if formed by a “tornado in a junkyard”) then it means that this could not have happened by natural selection. And semiotic something-or-other semi-proves something-or-other.

    So there is a need for repeated, and ever-clearer explanations of why none of those arguments work. Otherwise it will be easier for them to say that no one has ever refuted their arguments.

    Things are winding down but we might just stick around to watch the sunrise and share a bacon sandwich,

    A bacon sandwich?  Oy vey!!  (Actually I love bacon, but not to the point of putting it into chocolate or ice cream). 

  66. I did wonder whether I had slipped into non-politically-correct mode there (after posting). Your surname should have alerted me!


    And semiotic something-or-other semi-proves something-or-other.

    Following mung’s hint that posting privileges were restored, my initial comments were merely checking whether mung actually had access to admin by the back door. But then posting seemed to have a sort of liberating effect. I was not constrained by any consideration for upsetting apple-carts and it’s not in my nature to be abusive or foul-mouthed even when provoked. I could post whatever I felt like saying and it was of no concern to me whether Barry banned me again. So – win/win! But I really felt like the small boy at the emperor’s parade over this semiosis nonsense. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one to think so.

  67. Much of the effort to combat ID/creationism has to take place in the political realm where the ID/creationist zombies still plod on and on.

    Whilst I’m a continent away, I’m not immune from the effect of influence on foreign and trade policy. US government strategy in these areas is scary enough without the help of fundamentalist thinking! 

  68. Just a quickie. I know it has only been an occasional problem, but I think we should consider an automatic closure of comments on old threads (I was thinking 90 or 120 days, say). Anyone who has a genuine point to make has the option (on request or as a default) to start a thread and a thread that stays active can be reopened with one click if necessary. I am viscerally opposed to censorship but I can’t really see an issue here.

    Feedback appreciated or can I assume “silence gives consent”?

    Hat-tip to mung for the idea!

  69. I don’t have a problem with closing old threads. However, it is not clear to me how that works. In particular, it isn’t clear whether it can be overridden on individual threads.

    At one time, I set my blog to close comments after 90 days. Later, I had second thought and removed that setting. But I did not have to go through all of the older posts and individually unset them. So I am suspecting that this setting is a global rule, rather than an automatic applying of per-thread rules.

    There’s no harm trying, since it can be turned off as easily as it can be turned on.

  70. But I really felt like the small boy at the emperor’s parade over this semiosis nonsense.

    I have mostly stayed out of those threads. And that’s because I tend to think of semiotics as an entirely bogus discipline.

  71. But I really felt like the small boy at the emperor’s parade over this semiosis nonsense. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one to think so.

    Just a few thoughts about chemistry and physics dispel any temptation to think things like “semiosis” are worth trying to figure out.

    UD has become a magnet for pseudo-philosophers attempting to construct rationales for dismissing science while giving those arrogant dismissals the appearance of highly erudite sophistication that soars far above the puny mental abilities of scientists.

    I visit the site from time to time to see if there is anything new, but all I see is kvetching and pretentious “philosophical” posturing.

    While I myself don’t choose to interact with them – I would rather observe them “in the wild” without disturbing their habitat – there appears to be some value in watching them interact with people they despise; especially when they think they have the upper hand.

  72. You have to wonder how long it is before hollow declarations of victory (Upright, KF etc) will pale and they’ll turn and look at how little they’ve achieved in the name of ID. 

    I mean, if UD was wiped out then there go tens of thousands of hours of KF’s life with no recourse.

    Whereas if he’s published a single paper…..

  73. The difficulty is that some old issues keep flaring up (e.g. Granville Sewell keeps saying the same thing in different posts and places, no matter how many times he’s been refuted). So to comment on his latest, it is easiest to just add comments to one of the threads refuting him. Posting a new post each time is more work. If you add new comments to an old thread, hopefully they’ll be visible in the New Comments list, at least for a while.

  74. The only problem that I can see in Alan’s proposal is that it may result in a reverse version of the “ignore the refutation and keep posting the same old claim”. If old threads remain open, then at least they act as Strange Attractors for ideas of more or less the same oeuvre. Even if threads are long (or old), the search button is your friend.

    This is not a site that has to thrive on the number of its threads, but on the thought given by contributors to clarifying a smaller number of key ideas. The narrower and deeper the better, I say.

    But what would I know.

  75. @ Neil

    The global setting that closes threads automatically after a fixed time can be over-ridden by the plugin that allows individual thread comments to be switched on or off.

    As the recent spate of spamming old threads seems to have abated and as the majority expressing a view suggest leaving things alone, OK.

  76. Ohh…you need to broaden your horizons there Joe. I’ve been to this southern-food restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC called Crook’s Corner that sprinkled bacon on homemade butter pecan ice cream. I gotta admit, it was amazing!

  77. As is clearly evident from the “activity” going on over at UD at the moment, ID/creationists are engaging in pretentious debate with Nick Matzke.

    This is ID/creationist heaven; getting a free ride on the back of a scientist who is willing to confront them, and then putting on pretentious airs that they are engaging in erudite refutations of the scientist without ever having a clue about what the scientist is saying.

    Classic ID/creationist tactics.

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