Not-so-intelligent design

Much of the popular debate about evolution is between neo-Darwinians and neo-Paleyans (advocates of “intelligent design”). If you ask a neo-Paleyan who the intelligent designer is, they typically say they believe “God”, but there are other possible answers, for example, “extraterrestrials”, which begs the question “Who designed extraterrestrials?”, although I will ignore it.

What surprises me is that nobody ever mentions the contributions of not-so-intelligent designers such as are made routinely by living organisms. “Mate selection”, for example, is an obvious activity where intelligence matters. Intelligent people typically marry other intelligent people, and have a higher probability of producing intelligent offspring than you would expect from a mating of people of average intelligence.

At the other end of the spectrum of pairings, there are those that are candidates for the Darwin Prize. I once saw a bull elephant with a very obvious erection, perhaps out of his mind with “heat”, chasing after a rhinoceros fleeing in terror. Had a coupling occurred, I don’t think an offspring would have been likely, but if perchance it did occur and led to an offspring of its own, the chance of the offspring mating successfully would probably be very low; the organism produced would be too small to mate with elephants and too large to mate with rhinos.  For those who have not seen elephants and rhinos together, let me assure you that elephants are LOT bigger—especially when they are approaching your car.

These examples show that intelligence (or stupidity) is injected into the evolutionary process by the intelligent (or stupid) organisms themselves. There is nothing god-like about people, elephants or their intelligence. Thus, we arrive easily at a theory of not-so-intelligent design, on which I think neo-Darwinians and neo-Paleyans should agree, but which both are likely to reject as challenging their most cherished ideas.

38 thoughts on “Not-so-intelligent design

  1. Alan Fox: Apologies to inconnu. This OP has been residing in the pending folder for several weeks.

    This OP should have remained in the pending folder IMO…

  2. J-Mac: This OP should have remained in the pending folder IMO…

    Yeah, well you should have remained GONE, but that didn’t work out either.

  3. Inconnu points out something that seems to be a hallmark of creationist thinking, in that they focus on a false dichotomy of either super-intelligent design, or random chaos, without acknowledging all the creative forces in-between those extremes.

  4. but which both are likely to reject as challenging their most cherished ideas.

    This looks too much like a non sequitur.

  5. Fair Witness:
    Inconnu points out something that seems to be a hallmark of creationist thinking, in that they focus on a false dichotomy of either super-intelligent design,or random chaos, without acknowledging all the creative forces in-between those extremes.

    All idiots like you have to do is prove that chaos and random processed can do a better job than not “so intelligent designer” according to you…
    Ahhh…. I forgot you that “intelligent” big mouths like you can’t get even close to not so intelligent designer…This can only mean one thing: You don’t exist!

    Bye bye oxy! lol

  6. Thus, we arrive easily at a theory of not-so-intelligent design, on which I think neo-Darwinians and neo-Paleyans should agree, but which both are likely to reject as challenging their most cherished ideas.

    More like, ignore as trivial.

    Glen Davidson

  7. Intelligent people typically marry other intelligent people, and have a higher probability of producing intelligent offspring than you would expect from a mating of people of average intelligence.

    Have we gone back in time?

  8. Woodbine: Have we gone back in time?

    The big question is whether J-Mac, Joe, KairisFocus, WJM, Barry, Sal and Phoodoo had Intelligent parents. If they did, doesn’t that nullify the hypothesis that intelligent people have intelligent children: 🙂

  9. “Mate selection”, for example, is an obvious activity where intelligence matters. Intelligent people typically marry other intelligent people, and have a higher probability of producing intelligent offspring than you would expect from a mating of people of average intelligence.

    This is just a blind assertion. Are there more intelligent people or dumb people? What is intelligence? What kind of intelligence, are they all the same?

    This is sort of like the package game argument I am having with Corneel in Noyau. Intelligence isn’t one thing, its a broad spectrum of many many traits. If you are smart at sports does that make you smart at math? Is a little of both necessary to be smart at music? Is too much smarts at math a detriment to being smart at comedy? Is an artist more or less smart than a politician? By what percent?

    You can’t play the allele game, when the end result is the product game. Is lye a good ingredient or a bad ingredient? Is lye harmful or beneficial? Depends on what you mix it with.

  10. I tend to think of intelligence as the ability to detect, predict, and generate patterns. There are many different kinds of intelligence because there are many different kinds of domains in which there are salient patterns.

    A very good NFL-caliber quarterback will be extremely intelligent at seeing patterns and possibilities in the movements of his team and the opposing team, yet perhaps not be very good at dissecting a logical argument, etc.

    I don’t see how we could ever compare intelligence across domains — e.g. an quarterback vs a mathematician. Even within domains, I’m not too sure how much sense it makes to compare people of different intellectual styles. is someone who is brilliant at inventing a new strategy or theory more brilliant than someone who is brilliant at synthesizing the conflicting results achieved by others? How are we to tell?

  11. Kantian Naturalist,

    Yes, this is exactly what I am saying.

    I know a lot of guys who are really good at picking up girls, because they are very smart charmers, they can come up with quick lines, or they can make great impressions, and they are clever storytellers. And you wouldn’t want them as your tax attorney.

  12. The big question here is whether the process by which intelligence evolves is itself an intelligently guided process.

  13. Did the author of this thread say INTELLIGENT people mating will, probability, make more intelligent childtren.!!
    This is not only untrue but is not a established conclusion justifying it being brought up as a likely thing.
    REALLY? Intelligence is in the genes?! its not in the free will of humans?
    Isn’t this what was rejected by mankind after the race/sex stuff about intelligence?

    Surely the author was not saying its EVEN A OPTION a elephant can mate, successfully, with a rhino!!
    Would this be a intelligent elephant and a intelligent rhino?!
    is this thread a a grand hoax????????!!!!!!!!!!

  14. J-Mac:…. I forgot you that “intelligent” big mouths like you can’t get even close to not so intelligent designer…

    I have spent my entire career designing things, J-Mac.

    What is your design experience?

  15. Fair Witness: I have spent my entire career designing things, J-Mac.

    What is your design experience?

    Unlike yours, my design experience is very limited…However, my kids made a decision that they wanted a pet-dog. I reluctantly agreed provided the dog didn’t live in the house.
    Kids agreed. They were to design and build a dog house… They agreed. I gathered all materials and tools needed and asked:
    Can you build the dog house or are you going to wait for the natural processes to do it?

    What would be your advise to help the natural processes to the designing work?

  16. What surprises me is that nobody ever mentions the contributions of not-so-intelligent designers such as are made routinely by living organisms.

    Like humans!

  17. phoodoo: Is lye a good ingredient or a bad ingredient? Is lye harmful or beneficial? Depends on what you mix it with.

    I’ve found that vodka brings out the true flavor of the lye.

  18. Fair Witness: I have spent my entire career designing things, J-Mac.

    Finally! A real intelligent designer! Can you tell all these ID critics here how it is done? What is the mechanism of design?

    Would you recommend the following course?

    Explore key concepts in the new field of design theory. Gain fundamental knowledge of what design is and its relation to culture, economics, and the arts.

    Design Theory

    The first of its kind, this course is a pioneering exploration into theories of design theory. Much of the way we interact as a society springs from design and is influenced by it. Design specialists around the world are continually redefining what design is and how it should be positioned within social, political and economic dynamics. In this course, you’ll gain a better understanding of the scope of design and the role it plays in our day to day life.

  19. J-Mac: Unlike yours, my design experience is very limited…However, my kids made a decision that they wanted a pet-dog. I reluctantly agreedprovided the dog didn’t live in the house.
    Kids agreed. They were to design and builda dog house… They agreed. I gathered all materials and tools needed and asked:
    Can you build the dog house or are you going to wait for the natural processesto do it?

    What would be your advise to help the natural processes to the designing work?

    Well, let’s see:
    1) Natural processes made caves that served as shelters for humans and animals; shelters that are, in many ways, better than a doghouse.
    2) Natural processes in the form of gravity acting on hydrogen atoms led to the formation of stars which led to the formation of iron for the nails to build the doghouse.
    3) The process of humans learning how to build houses was mostly a trial-and-error process where people stacked up branches and rocks, and only after having them fall and injure them did people eventually learn how to arrange them so they wouldn’t fall.

    Seems as if most of the process in getting to the doghouse was actually pretty low-intelligence.

    Remind me again why you think any of this required a massive intellect?

  20. Fair Witness: 3) The process of humans learning how to build houses was mostly a trial-and-error process where people stacked up branches and rocks, and only after having them fall and injure them did people eventually learn how to arrange them so they wouldn’t fall.

    1) because there were never any cave-ins
    2) because they were too stupid to figure out how to take the caves with them

  21. Mung… What is the mechanism of design?….

    It’s mostly trial-and-error. Just like mutation and selection. That’s why there is nothing supernatural, super-intelligent, or divine about it.

  22. Fair Witness: It’s [the mechanism of design is] mostly trial-and-error.

    And the bit that is not trial and error? What is that bit and how is that bit “just like mutation and selection”?

    It’s mostly trial-and-error. Just like mutation and selection.

    Mutation and selection is not trial and error in the same way that design is trial and error. You, as an experienced intelligent designer, ought to know that.

    Did you ever put in your resume that you just try shit out a random until you find something that produces more offspring?

    That’s why there is nothing supernatural, super-intelligent, or divine about it.

    A non-sequitur if there ever was one.

  23. Mung: And the bit that is not trial and error? What is that bit and how is that bit “just like mutation and selection”?

    Mutation and selection is not trial and error in the same way that design is trial and error. You, as an experienced intelligent designer, ought to know that.

    Did you ever put in your resume that you just try shit out a random until you find something that produces more offspring?

    A non-sequitur if there ever was one.

    Of course there are differences. No analogy is perfect.

    Humans store patterns of what worked and what didn’t work in their brains and pass them down as books and courses in schools. We can tweak these patterns to come up with new patterns within our lifetimes. They become heuristics that focus our efforts and save time.

    Evolution has to store these patterns in populations of organisms and the tweaking is much less focused, so it takes a lot more time.

    “try random shit out”

    There’s that false dichotomy again. It’s either random shit, or it’s intelligent design. You seem ignorant of the middle ground.

    When I design something new, I take what I know works, and branch out from there, which is exactly what evolution does.

    I do not put “tries random shit” on my resume, but “rapid prototyping” is a known effective methodology.

    Design by itself accomplishes little. Most of the work is in testing the design, finding out it does not work, and making adjustments. The environment has the final say.

    You can’t just live in your head and get anything right. The map is not the territory.

    A design concept on paper or on a screen may be compelling, but the environment in which it has to function may tell you it sucks.

    My whole point is, that when you really understand how useful, working designs come about, evolution by mutation and selection of makes perfect sense.

    I can see how people who have never designed anything might not have that perspective.

  24. Fair Witness: Design by itself accomplishes little. Most of the work is in testing the design, finding out it does not work, and making adjustments. The environment has the final say.

    You can’t just live in your head and get anything right. The map is not the territory.

    Most design proponents believe the designer is omniscient in which case results from testing are known

  25. Mung


    Would you recommend the following course?

    Design Theory

    It sounds like that course deals more with the cultural aesthetics side of design, which is fine if you are interested in that. My experience is more with the functional side of design.

  26. newton: Most design proponents believe the designer is omniscient in which case results from testing are known

    A day in the life of an omniscient being must be boring as hell.

  27. Fair Witness,

    That’s a very nice point. One of my problems with intelligent design ‘theory’ is that it relies on a very intellectualist or rationalist picture of what it is to design something. That might be fine if one imagines that the designer is the Creator of classical theism, but it’s illegitimate without that assumption. If one dispenses with that assumption (as some ID advocates claim to do), then the only model we have for how anything is designed is how we and other animals design. And we do so by tinkering, by adjusting, experimenting, collaborating, testing, revising, and so on — nothing comes out just right the first time, but we make incremental improvements over long periods of time, and sometimes we just can’t see what we’re doing wrong and why the damn thing won’t work so we just do the same thing over and over again out of sheer frustration. And sometimes we have the basic idea right, but lack the requisite knowledge of laws of physics that would need to have in order to understand why the idea would never work in practice. Or sometimes we have the basic idea but we lack the technology to build it correctly.

  28. Fair Witness: A day in the life of an omniscient being must be boring as hell.

    Yea, having all these people complaining, why don’t you make more rain, why don’t you make less rain…why don’t why you control everything so nothing bad ever happens, why don’t you give free will to let people do what they want…

    He must be patient as hell to listen to all that without smiting everyone.

  29. Fair Witness: A day in the life of an omniscient being must be boring as hell.

    Maybe that is why they love designing finite creatures, give them enough rope and they may do the unexpected. Add a few random elements, mutations ,meteors and luck, it might be entertaining.

  30. phoodoo: Yea, having all these people complaining, why don’t you make more rain, why don’t you make less rain…why don’t why you control everything so nothing bad ever happens, why don’t you give free will to let people do what they want…

    Not me Phoodoo, suffering is proof God loves us. He really loved folks back in the 1918 Flu Pandemic, about 75 million folks used their free will and decided to die

    He must be patient as hell to listen to all that without smiting everyone.

    Maybe it wasn’t the Russians that got Trump elected, maybe it was God smiting the US for claiming He was on our side.

  31. phoodoo:
    newton,

    Everyone dies.

    That’ll be a good defense in a murder trial I’m sure.

    Your client murdered this family. “Everyone dies”. My god he’s right! Case dismissed!

  32. Rumraket: That’ll be a good defense in a murder trial I’m sure.

    Your client murdered this family. “Everyone dies”. My god he’s right! Case dismissed!

    So now if people die its because Gods murdered them?

    Why do you hate a life of choice so much?

  33. phoodoo: Yea, having all these people complaining, why don’t you make more rain, why don’t you make less rain…why don’t why you control everything so nothing bad ever happens, why don’t you give free will to let people do what they want…

    He must be patient as hell to listen to all that without smiting everyone.

    You seem to confuse boring with frustrating.

    Maybe that explains why you confuse negligent beings with loving ones?

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