Climate Change: myth or reality?

There’s no question in my mind the “Intelligent Design” movement has lost all its arguments with Science. Unfortunately, post Trump-it, that fact is now an irrelevance. With Trump’s appointment of Betsy de Vos as Education Secretary, it looks like religious fundamentalism no longer needs its figleaf. What concerns me much more is that a similar fate awaits climate research if his appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is any indication of future policy on combating climate change. Continue reading

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Take the Evolutionary Turing Test!

The challenge, for all and sundry but especially for “Darwin doubters”, should you wish to take it, is to submit a one-paragraph summary of the theory of evolution. The idea is to see if you understand it well enough to fairly summarize the theory so that you pass as a proponent of evolution. We also need some examples from proponents to test the null hypothesis!

To ensure anonymity, please submit your paragraph by private message to me or another admin and we will add it in edit. (Or email it to me at alanfox@free.fr if you prefer.) Continue reading

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An Intelligent Design Turing Test

This is an open challenge to all and sundry!

Can anyone represent the views of someone he disagrees with well enough to pass the “Turing Test” and be mistaken for a real proponent of those views? Barry Arrington has recently issued this challenge for skeptics of “Intelligent Design”. He seems to have overlooked the point that the test should be anonymous and also that most remaining active ID skeptics are unable or unwilling (or both, in my case) to participate at “Uncommon descent”. Continue reading

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Sandbox (4)

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

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.

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Moderation Issues (4)

Please use this thread for alerting admins to moderation issues and for discussion or complaints arising from particular decisions. This thread has been reissued as a post rather than a page as the “ignore commenter” button does not apply to threads started as pages.

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Vincent Torley’s Disappearing Book Review

I guess many folks here are familiar with Dr (of philosophy) Vincent Torley as a contributor of many posts at Uncommon Descent now operated by one Barry Arrington.

Vincent strikes me as a genuinely nice guy whose views are very different from mine on many issues. Possibly one of his most remarked-upon idiosyncracies is his tendency to publish exceedingly long posts at Uncommon Descent but (leaving Joseph of Cupertino in the air for a moment) lately Vincent has become a little more reflective on the merits of “Intelligent Design” as some sort of alternative or rival to mainstream biology. Continue reading

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“Species”

On the thread entitled “Species Kinds”, commenter phoodoo asks:

What’s the definition of a species?

A simple question but hard to answer. Talking of populations of interbreeding individuals immediately creates problems when looking at asexual organisms, especially the prokaryotes: bacteria and archaea. How to delineate a species temporally is also problematic. Allan Miller links to an excellent basic resource on defining a species and the Wikipedia entry does not shy away from the difficulties.

In case phoodoo thought his question was being ignored, I thought I’d open this thread to allow discussion without derailing the thread on “kinds”.

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President Trump?

I’ve been following the current round of US primaries with some interest. Not ever having visited the US, I have no business criticizing the system or the candidates but I must admit to being fascinated by the progress of Donald Trump and the seemingly growing possibility that he may become the Republican presidential candidate. Presumably, there is also the possibility that he could become the next President of the United States. Continue reading

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How and Why: questions for scientists and philosophers?

The late John Davison often remarked that science could only answer “how” questions, not “why”. It seems to me philosophers, perhaps I’m really thinking of philosophers of religion rather than in general, attempt to find answers to “why” questions without always having a firm grasp on how reality works. Perhaps this is why there is so much talking past each other when the explanatory power of science vs other ways of knowing enters a discussion. Continue reading

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Suggestion Box

This is my suggestion. Lizzie is happy for any participant to author a thread here. Most regulars already have author status which allows them to publish OPs. Other members have contributor status which allows them to compose posts that will be published on request, although author status is available on request to anyone who’d like to have unrestricted (within the rules) ability to publish OPs.

Whilst I think it is great that we have such wide-ranging (and on the whole rancour-free) discussions, the topics do get mixed and hard-to-follow, especially with the annoying page bug.

I invite anyone to start a new thread on a topic that is getting lost in the cross-talk.

I also invite suggestions from our esteemed clientele. Especially welcome would be a suggestion how to fix the page bug.

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Random Genetic Drift: a controversy?

Over my time as a dilettante observer of the science blogging community, I have noticed a certain frisson of controversy over the idea of random genetic drift. Sewall Wright, who with Ronald Fisher and J. B. S. Haldane (Bill Bryson’s observations on Haldane’s research into diving and decompression are entertaining) established the science of population genetics, is credited with coining the phrase in 1929. Thanks to Professor Joe Felsenstein for pointing out his seminal paper. Continue reading

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Cabbages and Kings: open thread

Having taken a brief break from commenting and still taking a break from proactive moderating, I still find myself sucked into reading OP’s and comments. Not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest of currently active discussion and not having enough time to get up to speed on all the current issues where commenters are discussing deep issues of the day, I wondered about opening a thread titled something like “Suggestion Box” to get people’s thinking on any improvements Lizzie could consider that might ameliorate concerns over site policy, aims, aspirations etc. Continue reading

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Intelligence Test: open thread

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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?

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The Reality of Intelligent Design!

I first noticed the phrase “Intelligent Design” about ten years ago. Not long after,William Dembski produced his website, Uncommon Descent, and declared his intentions:

This blog is for me mainly to get out news items about the ID movement and my work in particular. For more sustained writing and development of my ideas, I refer you to my website: www.designinference.com. I am not a journalist nor do I intend to become one. Thus this is not “The ID Answer Man” or “Ask Your Questions about ID Forum.” If I don’t respond to your comments and questions, even if they are good comments and questions, understand that I have way more commitments than I can fulfill, and that I will only occasionally contribute to a comment thread here.

Finally, there is one cardinal rule at this blog, namely, I make up the rules as I go along. In other words, these policies can change at any time. Moreover, if they change, it will most likely be in the direction of curtailing the time I need to spend with comments.

Continue reading

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