Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Why do anti-'Darwinists' have such a hard time understanding science?

Even when they claim to be super-smart?

David Scott Springer, aka 'Davescot', a retired Dell computer programmer, has apparently convinced himself that because of his super-high IQ (he claims to have a 'certified' IQ "north of 150") and the facts that he has a couple of patents and, afterall, worked with computers, anything he thinks about non-computer things like, oh say, evolution, must be absolutely correct (for kicks, see this).

In reality, Springer, like all such folk, simply does not understand how little he actually understands about subjects that he has no training, education, or experience in. His claim that one can learn biology in their spare time notwithstanding, The FallibleFiend, who happens to be an engineer (see? they're not all bad... :) ), points out a major misinterpretation by Springer in a post he had written earlier in which he had claimed that a study showed that conserved gene elements in humans were most similar to the coelacanth.

That is not what the paper indicates, and Fiend points this out. He tried to point it out to Springer, also, but wouldn't you know it:

"My post never showed up - and there was never a retraction."

If you do not know, Springer's haunt is Bill "Ted Haggard of Information Theory" Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent, a haven for creationist sycophants to drool at the feet of their hero Dembski and idiotic mumbo jumbo masquerading as 'deep thoughts' to be posted. It is also one of the most heavily "moderated" (censored) blogs on the topic, second only to those blogs on which the authors do not allow comments at all.


Apparently, the post has finally been allowed at UD. I have to wonder if it was because so many people pointed out the censorship angle that Springer flet compelled to put it up. No matter, Fallible says the reply Springer spewed was basically irrelevant. Like most things Springer writes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bill "Ted Haggard of Information Theory" Dembski is truly delusional

I can't think of any other way to describe it.
There is a long history of his antics which could be described as being, at the very least, unwarranted, but within the last few weeks, he has really blown his top.
Now it turns out that he had written an email to Rishard Dawkins a few years ago, gloating about his implicit connections to power and well.... let's just see how things turned out for Billy:

X-Sender: [Dembski’s email at] (Unverified) Date: Wed, 26 Nov
2003 21:11:27 -0600 To: Richard Dawkins [email]From: “William A. Dembski”
[email] Subject: President Bush Cc: “Eugenie C. Scott” [email], [Daniel Dennett
email], [Paul Gross email], [Barbara Forrest email]

Dear Prof. Dawkins,
I enjoyed this bit of fun in last week’s Guardian. It might interest you to know that Senator Rick Santorum, who is close to President Bush, endorsed my forthcoming book The Design Revolution. It might also interest you to know that President Bush lives in the same Texas county that I do (McLennan County – his home is about 35 miles from my home). It might futher interest you to know that my university, Baylor, today made a bid on the George W. Bush Presidential Library (for the news conference, go to
Why might all this interest you? With the recommendations by Senator Santorum and others close to President Bush, I plan to pay him a visit at his home early next year and have a frank discussion with him about the future of science in the United States and the possibilities for public funding of intelligent design research. I expect
your remarks below will help me make my case.
Thanks for all you continue to do to advance the work of intelligent design. You are an instrument in the hands of Providence however much you rail against it.

With all good wishes,

Bill Dembski

thanks to Panda's Thumb

Well, let's see....

Senator Rick Santorum - the number 3 republican in Congress - lost his re-election bid

in fact, republicans, who are much more likely to be gullible and uninformed enough to buy into Intelligent Design, lost both houses of Congress

G.W. Bush has the lowest approval rating of his presidency

Dembski is no longer at Baylor

Faculty and Staff have written a letter protesting the consideration of having the Bush library there

Dembski is now a religion teacher at a small Baptist Seminary. He writes on a couple of heavily-censored blogs. He engages in sophomoric antics and has produced no new research in years.*
He relies on rhetoric and public relations ploys rather than producing anything viable that mioght convince skeptics of the validity of his claims.**
He continues to claim that 'Darwinism' will be dead in a few years and keeps writing how he is proud to have been a part of it. He resorts to denigrating the judge in the Dover case - a case that he was too intellectually cowardly to participate in - for finding the truth - that ID is religion.
He claims that his fart-noise flash animation has had an impact on 'young people' who will now not trust Judge Jones...

Like I said. Delusional.

And he is the most prolific, most "respected" leader of the Intelligent Design Creationism movement.

*I am being generous and considering, for the sake of argument, that his oft-refuted earlier gibberish had at least some legitimate research componant to it
** Just being generous, again.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Climate change deniers - stupid or just dishonest?

Well, we all know the answer to that question when it comes to Oklahoma Republican James "Global Warming is a hoax and I have no gay relatives" Inhofe - both.

But what about these guys?

Read this little snippet from their paper and see if you can spot the illogic:

Recalculating this amount into the total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission in grams of CO2, one obtains the estimate 1.003×10^18 g, which constitutes less than 0.00022% of the total CO2 amount naturally degassed from the mantle during geologic history. Comparing these figures, one can conclude that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission is negligible (indistinguishable) in any energy-matter transformation processes changing the Earth’s climate.

If you are not well versed in the sciences, a few pointers:

Anthropogenic means "man made." Humans have been producing measurable amounts of CO2 since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, so for about 200 years or so.

Geologic history refers to the entire length of time that the earth has been a planet, more or less. That amount of time is some 4.6 BILLION years.

The authors take the amount of CO2 degassed by the planet over the course of 4.6 billion years and directly compare it to the amount of CO2 produced by humans in the last couple hundred years and conclude that the amount humans produce is no big deal.

That is sort of like taking the record-breaking number of yards that Corey Dillon rushed in a single game (278) and claiming that it is no big deal when one compares it to all the yards rushed by all football players in all games since football was first played.

The rest of Khilyuk and Chilingar's paper is no less bad. A devastating response was written by W. Aeschbach-Hertig a few months later. His response ends with:

It is astonishing that the paper of Khilyuk and Chilingar (2006) (as well as Khilyuk and Chilingar 2004, for that matter) could pass the review process of a seemingly serious journal such as Environmental Geology. Such failures of this process, which is supposed to guarantee the quality of published literature, are likely to damage the
reputation of this journal.

Indeed. Why the journal decided to publish such anti-global warming garbage is anybody's guess - to avoid a perceived bias? to give the naysayers 'equal time'? to avoid a ruckus over denying the paper?
Who knows. But what is certain is that it would appear that the best the climate change naysayers have to offer is biased dreck and truly junk science, as indicated by the legitimate science presented in the rebuttal.

But poor Jimmy Inhofe can't tell the difference.

*Thanks to Deltoid for writing about this fiasco in the first place.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Poor, confused Looney

This guy is in over his head - WAYYYYY over his head - and he does not seem to realize it at all (that creationist/engineer arrogance at work).

Take this post of his for instance. The title says much:
"Why Darwinism remains hopelessly bound to Spontaneous Generation"

His 'answer' is the Miller-Urey experiments. He declares that because there is a question about it on the SAT II test, that this shows that it is "thus considered vital knowledge by the Darwinian community."

First, he never says what the "Darwinist community" is. But it appears to be his paranoid fantasy that some cabal of "Darwinists" is in charge of writing the SAT II exams and felt that the Miller-Urey experiments on the origin of life - which Looney foolishly refers to as 'spontaneous generation' - are of paramount importance in accepting 'Darwinism.'
Looney, like most creationists with limited knowledge of the relevant science, goes on to distort what the experiments were set up to do. Which is odd, since he provides a link to a Wikipedia article on the experiments. He claims, for example, that "Also, proteins formed from amino acids aren't sufficient to form life by themselves either. They need something more, like DNA and RNA." Which is all well and good, but, again, this has nothing to do with the Miller-Urey experiemtns, as the link Looney provides indicates:

The molecules produced were simple organic molecules, far from a complete living biochemical system, but the experiment established that the hypothetical processes could produce some building blocks of life without requiring life to synthesize them first.

But Looney the creationist cannot be bothered with details.

He also comments on my introducing him to the Salem hypothesis and what I call the Kruger-Dunning effect. Both of which he misinterprets, by the way.

Of the Salem hypothesis, Looney writes:

The Darwinist will most likely attribute this to a deficiency in science. As the engineer views his discipline more as Applied Science + Design, we tend to take a dim view of this attitude. The other possibility is that engineers are more likely to have a proper respect for Design than scientists and prefer a unified world view with design near the center. The Darwinist must necessarily have a split world view where Intelligent Design is mandatory in high-tech, but impossible in biology. It is a bit schizophrenic.

Again we see 'Darwinist', but we are never told what this is. Looney claims that he sees engineering as applied science and design, which I do, too. Applied science is not science per se. It is taking the hard lab/experimental work of scientists, boiling it down to its most useful form, and using it as a jumping-off point of sorts (and don't forget to mix in a bunch of trial and error).
And yet again we see that all-too-common conflation of human actiity (intelligent design) with Intelligent Design Creationism, as in 'the bacterial flagellum is so complex, it must have come form an Intelligent Designer.' I have asked Looney to clarify this illogical, simplistic analogy/conflation, and he has thus far refused to even reply.
Looney then distorts the Kruger-Dunning effect:

This states that people of lower intelligence have a habit of making ignorant statements about the big things. If I recall correctly, Darwin didn't do too well in school ...

Not quite - it states that people with limited understanding of a particular subject lack the ability to know how poorly they understand that subject. It says nothing about intelligence. In fact, the term "intelligence" does not once appear in the article.
Looney may well be intelligent, but he is clearly pretty ignornat of science in general and especially the biological sciences. Problem is, he also happens to be a creationist with an engineering background, and thus believes himself able to comment authoritativley on the subjects. Problem is, he clearly does not understand as much about them as he thinks he does. He is a prime example of the Kruger-Dunning effect, another aspect of which is the inability of the overconfident to understand how little they understand of the subjects they know little about.

Wow - 'Looney' goes off the deep end...

I've been enjoying watching Looney flail and squirm and avoid addressing issues both here and at his own blog. But this - this is just too rich...

Smokey, much of the problem here is that Darwinists have projected the supernatural, intelligent design capabilities of God onto inanimate genetics.
Thus, you must attribute supernatural powers to genetics (while denying such), which I don't.This is why we have a problem with young engineers thinking that they will be able to do amazing things with GA.
They are superstitious, unlike us more practical and worldly fundamentalists.

Emphasis mine. Wow....
Looney has made a couple more posts at his blog which are unintentionally hilarious, and I will deal with them in short order.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

classic comeback

Over on Loony's blog, Loony is busily engaging in the old anti-intellectualism we see so often form creationists. He makes a quip designed to deflate the scientific consensus on evolution, but Smokey makes a zinger of a comeback:

"Groups of smart people routinely make incredibly dumb decisions."

But not as routinely as groups of dumb people do.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Looney' - another creationist engineer with all the answers

I recently was amused to see this comment:

Just a reminder for you: Engineers are paid to do Intelligent Design, and scientists (who are paid considerably less) generally don't do intelligent design and they definitely aren't trained on ID or how it works. It should be no surprise that they look down on the field.


Which was odd, for it had no real bearing at all on the post being replied to.

Note a couple things:

- A 'dig' about the amount of money paid in each profession
- the requisite conflation of 'intelligent design' done by humans with the 'Intelligent Design' of the IDcreationism movement
- A 'dig' about how 'scientists' are not trained in ID and so 'look down on it'

Generally silly stuff, so I decided to check out the author.

It is one "Looney", a fundamentalist Christian engineer (what else!). I checked out his blog, and lo and behold - he has a post about how molecular biology has nothing to do with "Darwinism" .

He 'knows' this because he picked up a 13 year old textbook on genetics and molecular biology that did not mention Darwinism once. Wow! Clever stuff! Surely, only an engineer could make such an insightful conclusion! Wait - there is more...

"It has a considerable Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry component which would make it intimidating for the large majority of biologists, but this subject is really foundational to understanding the molecular foundations of genetics"

Yeah, because us biologists is just so stupid. Why, we don't understand no kem-er-sty. I mean, we don't have any chemistry in our curricula. No physics, either. And math? Never heard of it. But engineers, why, they have all that stuff, not to mention the copious amounts of biology* they are required to study...

(* note - this is graduate level, and only for biomedical engineering)

And it goes on...

"As I suspected, the modern invoking of DNA and molecular biology in support of Darwinism was merely BS. To further support my contention, professor Schleif routinely invokes factories and computer information concepts (intelligently designed all) to help in understanding the basic concepts, whereas Darwinism is entirely absent."

Of course. Just BS. Something made-up by propagandists. And of course the use of EASY TO UNDERSTAND 'intelligent design' analogies and metaphors to help explain those simple biology concepts. Seems to me that if biological concepts were so simplistic, we would be using biology analogies to help explain engineering concepts.
Doesn't work that way, though.

Buit wait - the intellectual coup de grace:

"My hypothesis is that the field of molecular biology is simply not understood by the majority of biologists and thus pretty secure from rational debate by laymen. By claiming that this discipline (which they probably don't understand either) proves Darwinism and that Darwinism is vital to understanding molecular biology, the Creationists can be silenced, humiliated and put in their place by simply invoking superior knowledge. More malpractice?"

Wondderful! Yeah - biologists don't understand.... molecular biology.
Creationists can be humiliated, silenced, and put in their place all on their own - their intellectual dishonesty, their ignorance-based pseudocertainty, their willful ignorance, their outright fabrications and distortions - no, they do not need any help from us. That another creationist engineer doesn't understand a technical subdiscipline of the field of biology is no surprise. What is a surprise is that here is yet another creationist with an engineering background that exhibits nicely what I call the Kruger-Dunning effect (also, 'Loony' is yet another data point for the Salem hypothesis).

No wait - that is not a surprise either.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More stupid biology claims by non-biologists

I had forgotten about this essay/article I had written some time ago, dealing with that paragon of ignorance-based arrogance, Warren Bergerson.

If you do not with to read it, at least read this statement:

"Whether you introduce 9 variations per life into a 9 letter message or a 30 million letter message the impact is the same. "

- Warren Bergerson

Bergerson - a retired actuary - cannot see the difference between a 100% change and a 0.00003% change. And he dares lecture others on THEIR lack of mathematical knowledge?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'Intelligent Design' - the Cult of Personality

The Intelligent Design movement is this:

A religio-political movement spiffied up with the veneer of science.

And a rather thin veneer, at that. When one reads the writings of ID activists and layfolk, one hears primarily hero-worship. One reads how 'great' the folks associated with ID are; how 'heroic' and 'intelligent' the leaders of the movement are, blah blah blah. Their credentials and relative importance in science and culture are routinely embellished to the point of absurdity (referring to Bill Dembski, whose work has been trampled and belittled by mathematicians and sundry scientists alike, as "the Isaac Newton of Information Theory" is a personal favorite).

A few years ago, the 'leaders' of the ID movement seemed unstoppable - testifying before legislative bodies (not to mention state and local school boards), writing numerous well-selling books, presenting numerous well-attended lectures, producing innumerable ID-friendly websites, etc. The movement certainly fired up the grass-roots right-wing religious establishment and gained a lot of support, even planting seeds of doubt into the minds of some in academia and medicine.

Alas, times have changed. Their cards were played a long time ago - all their 'best' arguments - Irreducible Complexity, the 'explanatory filter', the 'impobability' arguments, the 'problems' with evolution - have been used up. They shot their wad, so to speak, early on and have spent the last several years steadfastly, stubbornly, and desperately clinging to these worn out, hackneyed, arguments ever since.

The writing is one the wall. Look at their most active 'official' web sites - ARN and Uncommon Descent. The ARN discussion boards at one time boasted hundreds of active members, including a few actual scientists posting in support of ID, and getting thousands of hits a day.
Lok at it today. There appear to be only about 10 active participants. There are about 5 scientists posting there, all none-too-friendly to ID, and the pro-ID folks posting there are all unabashed young earth creationists (which we are told ID is not about), with 2 possible exceptions - "jon_e" who is a minutiae mongering pain in the neck, and "lifeEngineer" Warren Bergerson, a megalomaniacal retired actuary who has convinced himself that only he and a handful of people in the entire world uinderstand what science is all about, despite the fact that he has never engaged in any scienctific endeavors and cannot actually name a single person that agrees with anythign he writes.

Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski's blog, has become a laughingstock, with "moderators" that ban anyone that dares question the 'authority' of Saint Bill or disagree with the 'expert' moderators themselves.
A classic example of the apparent fact that ID is little more than a cult of personality can be seen in this post, "Why I’m paying $100 to hear Paul Nelson, November 16, 2006", by Salvador Cordova, founder of the IDEA club movement, who appears to have no job but to post at discussion boards sleazly and creepy accolades of his ID movement heros and, of course, silly pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo purportedly supportive of ID in some way.
Note how Cordova refers to his ID heros, and note how several posters join in the infatuitive 'crush' on these folks:

"Paul Nelson is such a cool and brilliant guy"

That reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where George has a "nonsexual crush" on Elaine's new boyfriend, Tony, wherein Jerry comments to George, after George claims that Tony is such a 'cool guy', "Cool guy? What are you in 8th grade?"

Later in Cordova's adulation piece, after he lists the event attendees (and after explaining that it is an apologetics event - wait, I thought ID was not religious?), he engages in the usual embellishment of his heros:

"The conference has invited speakers who received PhD’s from respectable secular institutions ( 2 from Oxford, 1 for U Penn, 1 from U of Chicago, etc.). They are 22 highly regarded scholars in their field."

GilDodgen, a creationist engineer, comments:

"Paul Nelson is a cool and brilliant guy."

Of several of the other event speakers, he writes:

"He is a first-rate intellect and apologist...
He is brilliant and and insightful...
This is an all-star cast...."

And Cordova's post was only made yesterday - I am sure as the days go on, the adoration and hero-worhsip will only get worse.

The ID movement is stagnant. It has evolved from a reliopolitical movement into a parody of itself. Is has had to resort to hiring a public relations firm (the same one that handled the whole "Swiftboat Veterans..." propaganda campaign - what a coincidence, eh?) to help get its 'message' out, it has resorted to churning out 'attack' books published by right-wing propaganda outlet Regnery with titles such as "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwin and Intelligent Design" by failed scientist-wannabe Jon Wells, filled with errors and disinformation, and similarly titled books by the likes of right-wing 'journalist' Tom Bethell.

Where is the science? Where is their evidence? The fact they have to resort to public relations campaigns and disinformation, propaganda books should inform most rational people that they are floundering, and most folks that follow the 'debate' know that this is the case.
The problem lies with the average citizen, who does not understand the scientific issues, who is inclined to accept the pablum spewn by ID movement folks (because it plays to their religious motivations), and who will eagerly take what these folks claim at their word because they are 'good Christian folk.' And this is a big problem - so many of those people do simply trust that what they are told is absolutley true because the person telling them something is a 'Christian.' But he 'Christian' folks associated with the Intelligent Design movement and creationism are no so much wed to teling the truth as they are to spreading their Faith.

I give one classic example of this. It deals specifically with a young earth creationist, but such folks fill the ranks of the ID movement as well.

Steve Austin is a PhD. holding geologist. He also happens to be a young earth creationist who works for the Institute for Creation Research. He gives tours/lectures at their creation 'museum', and among the things he talks about is his "conversion" to YECism. As he tells it, he used to be an old-earth evolutionist (perhaps even an atheist). He then claims that he studied at Mt.St.Helens after the 1980 eruption, and the things he saw there convinced him that the earth could be young, and then he somehow made the great intellwectual leap from old-earth evolutionist to young earth creationist, claiming that it was the 'science' and his research that lead him to YECism. Hallelujah! Not so fast...
As it turns out, he had been writing YEC articles as a college student for as many as 4 years prior to the eruption at Mt.St.Helens under a pseudonym (Stuart Nevins).

When this is pointed out to creationists, they simply dismiss it. Apparently, the 'story' is more important than than the fact that they were lied to (a sad truism for many with a right-wing inclination*).

This is not an entirely uncommon theme in both creationist and ID writings.

We return to our hero, YEC ID cheerleader and hero-worshipper, Salvador Cordova. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a writer from the science journal Nature. The gist of the story was how the ID movement is basically creationism in disguise and its adherents are politically and religiously motived, not scientiifcally so. And the interview made it quite clear that Cordova wazs in it for religious, not scientific reasons.
Nevertheless, Cordova went on a spam-fest, posting a blurb about how ID proponant Salvador Cordova was in the prestigious journal Nature. He did not mention that his motivations were exposed and ID was shown to be a religio-political movement, oh no - those little facts were not mentione din his posts on multiple discussdion boards, newsgroups and blogs. And the hoped-for effect was apparent - pro-ID folks hailed it as a great victory, without bothering to read the actual interview. when the true outome fo the interview was explained, the pro-ID folks called it sour grapes and ignored the facts.

And this is the state of American discourse.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whatever Happened to R. David Pogge?

Well, nothing.

Pogge (aka 'Do-While Jones') is the main author of the misinformed propaganda at the Science Against Evolution web site.

Pogge is an electrical engineer, and as nearly all electrical engineers that also happen to be creationists, Pogge considers himself an arbiter of the truth of all things scientifc. I have written about some of the more ridiculous things Pogge has written on topics such as gene duplication and the relevance of the % similarity between human and chimp DNA.

Since I began writing articles for this blog last January, I have emailed Pogge 3 or 4 times, informaing him that I had written about some of his articles and included links to them in my messages. I have never received a response of any kind.

Today, I checked out the Pogge propaganda site and (re)discovered the fact that Pogge writes up replies to many emails he receives. I looked through the archives there, and there is no mention of my articles debunking and exposing his silly claims (that I could find, anyway).

Better for him I suppose - it would be detrimental to let his more dimwitted readers know that his claims have been responsded to.

Total eclipses occur, so evolution is false?

Amazingly, this is but one of the incredibly silly arguments put forth (in so many words) by Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of the anthropic-principle-writ-large "Privileged Planet" (co-written by a philosopher/theologian, no less...), against "Darwinian evolution." What, precisely, eclipses have to do with biological evolution is anyone's guess, but creationists go to extreme and illogical lengths to try to tie nearly anything to their cause.
This article sums up some of Gonzalez's awe-based arguments.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

I remember when Dennis Miller used to be funny

Dennis Miller, of Saturday Night Live fame, was at one time one of my favorite comedians. His sarcastic wit, his arcane cultural references, and use of language made him, in my opinion, one of the best in the business.

Of course, back then, he had a bit of a left-lean. I recall one of his HBO specials - "Dennis Miller: Black and White" - in which he explained that he would not ask pro-lifers for directions, much less their opinions on an unborn child, and that plans to put Ronald Reagan's head on Mt. Rushmore (yes, that was actually considered by the Reagan worshipping Gingrich congress!) were scrapped because it was discovered that 'granite was not a dense enough material to accurately portray the former president's head...'.

Alas, as time goes by, many people change, and not always for the better.

Some time between when I saw Miller live on the campus of Michigan State University ~1991 and about 2001, Dennis Miller became a conservative.
And along with that change, went his comedic genius.

Witty political rejoinders regarding the dim-wittedness of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens were gone, to be replaced with right-wing knee-slappers like responding to a comment that higher gas prices might be good for the environment and cut down on our reliance on foreign oil with a haughty intellectual "What is it with this Communist crap?"*

Wow, Dennis, insightful, clever stuff.

And now this.

Hinting that Nancy Pelosi is a 'nimrod' with a low IQ ranks right up there with another draft-dodging right-winger, Bruce Willis, urging people to vote for Bush 1 instead of Clinton/Gore because they are 'bozos.'

It seems that becoming a conservative makes a funny one no longer funny. The things that make conservatives laugh make most intelligent people whince in disgust, or stare blankly, wondering when the actual funny things are going to be said.
It is a shame. Miller was once worth listening to. Now, he is just a sad shadow of what once was. Right-wingery does that to you.

*This was on one of Miller's various short-lived talk shows, somewhere in the 2003-4 range. Unfortunatley, I forget the name of the show, as well as the name of the guest, but I distinctly remember Miller's idiotic reply, as it struck me as so uttelry irrelevant. It was at that time that I was certain Miller was no longer funny.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Colbert misinterepreted by Intelligent Design Creationist

So, what is new? It is not the first time that a right-wing rube has confused Colbert's satire and parody of right-wing TV/radio hosts with a humourous pro-right agenda.
But you'd think they wouldf have figured it out by now.

Apparently not.

'Scott' over at Dembski's blog has posted a video clip of Colbert's interview with Richard Dawkins, and titled it "Colbert Has Fun With Dawkins’s Delusions."

Please, watch the clip and ask yourself if you think Colbert's role was to make Dawkin's claims look delusional...

Looks like another loony is running the asylum


"He [Rumsfeld]leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gotta love the logic of the Intelligent Design Creationist

I don't often read the entries, much less the comments, at Bill Dembski's blog. It, quite literally, almost makes me nauseous. The amount of projection, double standards, sycophantic adulation of heros, repeated errors, and sheer dishonesty spewn there is just too much to handle on a regular basis.

But I read a post on another dicsussion board commenting on a post Dembski had made regarding Groupthink. Creationists of all stripes like ot declare that the only (or one of the only) reasons that 'Darwinism' is still around is due to the 'groupthink' of its adherents. And Dembski's post insinuated just this (Real Mathematician Jason Rosenhouse does a nice take-down of the notion on his excellent blog and shows that, as so often is the case, Dembski and his coterie of sycophants are just projecting). The great irony being, of course, that the criteria apply far more directly and handily to Dembski and the cult of 'Intelligent Design.'

But what really interested me were some of the comments. The discussion devolved into the usual IDcreationism v. evolution, which is fine, but the following exchanges get to the heart of the title of this post. The first is by 'Houdin', an evolution supporter (I have edited the comments only for readability):

85. Houdin // Oct 18th 2006 at 5:48 am

Joseph says [my comments in brackets]

1)High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
[Specified complexity and irreducible complexity are produced by Darwinian

2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
[Science says they do. If ID says otherwise, please show us some evidence to support this claim.]

4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.
[Therefore we have two competing claims. One claim is that a designer is responsible for the specified complexity we find in living organisms. The other theory says that variation and natural selection is responsible. We can show you the second theory at work. ID has no examples of the Designer at work.]
Comment by Houdin — October 18, 2006 @ 5:48 am

This reply by an IDcreationist, relies on and points one of the primary types of "evidence" employed bvy the IDcreationist:

86. mike1962 // Oct 18th 2006 at 8:21 am

Houdin: “[Specified complexity and irreducible complexity are produced by Darwinian evolution.]”

I can demonstrate all day long CSI made by intelligent agents. Can you do the same for NDE? Conjecture doesn’t count as a demonstration.

Houdin: “3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to
explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible
complexity.[Science says they do.]”
No. Darwinian “science” merely conjectures that they do. There is lots and lots of hard evidence that intelligence agents can create CSI. There is none for NDE mechanisms. Therefore, so far, ID is the best explanation for the CSI in found in bio-forms.

And just who are the "intelligent agents" that can be pointed to that make CSI?
Well, 'Mike' doesn't say, but the standard - in fact the ONLY - such agent they can and have ever referred to is Humans. Thats right - humans are their "evidence" for Intelligent Design"... of the bacterial flagellum and everything else.

Because you see humans produce CSI, humans make comlicated and complex things.
Bacterial flagella and other such stuff is real complicated and complex, therefore, they must have been made by an Intelligent Agent. One just like us... Except much better. And just who might these folks posit such an Intelligent Agent might be? Well, the more political saavy IDcreaionists won't say, at least in public...

It is a big argument by analogy.

Which any intelligent, rational person should see is no argument at all. But it is all they have, and they really, really like using it.

Reason #672 why 'Intelligent Design' does not deserve to be called science, and why it does not belong in public school curricula.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, by Jon 'Draft Dodger' Wells

Jon Wells, of 10-years-to-get-a-PhD-with-only-2-coauthored-papers-to-show-for-it and a 'mission to destroy Darwinism' fame has recently written The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, published by standard 'anything goes as long as it is pro-Conservative' Regnery Publishing.

It is standard right-wing creationist propaganda - misleading, false, idiotic, and inflammatory to its core, like the other PIG books (like this one on U.S. history, for example) , as they have become known.

The Panda's Thumb, a 'pro-evolution' website/blog, has been posting deconstructions and demolitions of Wells' latest pulp fiction.

They are good reads, and each installation demonstrates the depths to which this member of the Intelligent Design movement, and members of right-wing movements in general, will go to in order to promote their preferred ideology. It should give honest conservatives pause...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I guess I was wrong - the concept of "Intelligent Design" really is useful...

I guess I was just plain wrong about this.

The ID paradigm really is an amazingly useful tool for scientific endeavors, and therefore by extension, naturalistic evolution really is false. How could I have been so wrong all this time? I just thought that ID was a way to sneak religion into public school science classes - how wrong I was!

Here is how I now know this.

Yesterday, I had some time to kill and did a little intellectual autoflagellation at Dembski's den of sycophantic simpletons (i.e., Bill Dembski's blog), and I ended up following a couple of links to "Mike Gene's" most recent blog, The Design Matrix.

Its main purpose seems to be publicity for his upcoming book of the same title*, but what intrigued me was this page, and specifically, the entry titled Example of Design Detection.

Now let me inform you what the entry page to this blog said re: Gene's new book:

"What clues might lead to a suspicion that Life was intelligently designed? Is it possible to move beyond the suspicion?..."

So, MY suspicion was that Mike Gene may have actually produced - for the very first time - evidence that a 'design' paradigm actually produced results - maybe he actually came up with some concrete evidence for 'design in nature' - evidence that Life really was the product of Intelligence! How exciting!!

Imagine how I felt when, upon clicking the link for the entry, and seeing only a link.
I was a bit suspicious, but what the heck.

Then imagine my surprise when I saw that the link that Gene provided as an example of design detection was on a political blog, in an article titled:

Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?

An article about how it was discovered that a photographer had doctored photos.

Color me impressed! Color me astonished! Color me converted!

I mean, if it was only via an Intelligent Design paradigm, as Gene implies in the title, that this act of photoshopping was discovered, what other biologically relevant discoveries will adopting metaphorical terminology and relying on analogies as evidence provide for humanity!?!?

And Mike Gene is no slouch - why, anti-Darwinian theologian William 'Isaac Newton of Information Theory' Dembski says of him " Mike Gene is the pseudonym of one of the most insightful individuals in the ID/evolution debate."


I guess he would know...

Let's get this new book in public schools immediately!


*a book wherein Gene apparently talks about his 'suspicion' of design....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How to make wild, ridiculous extrapolations

Step 1: be a creationist

Step 2: be a creationist with no relevant background, training, experience, or education in any field related to evolution or biology

Step 3: Be 1 and 2 above and have a background in something like computer programming

Step 4: Convince yourself that because of your true background, you have some sort of unique and special insight into things that you have no background in

Step 5: Read some news releases on highly technical issues related to things you have no background in. For example, read an interesting article about 'jumping genes' - an idea that has been around for awhile, but for which there was little supporing evidence.

Step 6: take the information in an article like the one above, and make broad, wild, unsupportable sweeping generalizations like this:

"Also to point out, ALL phylogenies based on homology are based on the idea of random mutations (if organism X has the exact same pattern (tissue, bone structure, etc.) as organism Y it must be because of a shared common ancestor with that pattern. If random mutation is not correct, then it is very possible that two children could “evolve” the _exact same_ organ independently. Thus, if random mutations are found to be directed, then pretty much all phylogenetic trees need to be re-examined, and perhaps even the notion of morphological tree-building would be called into question. "


Toss everything out the window because of one unique discovery? Hypothetically possible. Of course, in this case, one will have to ignore the fact that the methods questioned have been tested on knowns and found to be pretty darn accurate and reliable.

But should 'jumping genes' really be considered on the same level as synapomorphic mutations?

Should we discount paternity testing because a computer programmer implies that 'jumping genes' calls into question every aspect of genomics?


If anything, the comment above merely shows the extent to which an unyielding allegiance to biblical literalism can distort one's perception of reality.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Berlinski - still a pompous twit

David Berlinski, pseudointellecual darling of the right and associate of the Discovery Institute, has submitted a letter to Science that I really hope will either not get published or will be responded to in devastating form by actual scientists.

Berlinski is an anti-Darwin apologist, one who still employs moronic anti-evolution arguments that even the hack propagandists at Answers in Genesis have disavowed.

Of note is how he ends his letter, in reference to statements by Ken Miller (an actual scientist):

"Such an excess of stupidity is rarely to be found in nature."

Actually, David, it is found in Nature. In fact, David, it is found in abundance at the Discovery Institute.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Terry Trainor - another creationist nitwit

I had written this up several months ago and forgotten to post it:

Funny stuff…

This MSN discussion group is a gold mine of creationist silliness.

I’m sure I will be able to produce oodles of stuff from there, but I will start with a thread on Global Warming.

The main protagonist is the MSN board operator, one Terry Trainor, a young-earth creationist and engineer.

From his thread-opening post, emphases mine:

I have long argued that man is not causing global warming, if it even exists, and have given the reasons that I believe the scare was blown up; profits for the chemical industry, who needed people to switch from cheap Freon on which patents had expired to new, more expensive refrigerants on which new patents had been obtained.

Too many people believed the 'sky is falling' hype, and we are now paying the result in higher costs of refrigerants.

One of my objections involved the fact that Freon is heavier than air, while the Ozone layer is way the heck UP THERE; how could Freon raise high enough to damage it? I was assured that Ozone, even though heavier than air, did indeed raise
itself into the upper reaches of our atmosphere.
I tried to duplicate this by placing mercury and water in a glass and agitating it repeatedly. So far, the mercury is still on the bottom, though.

OK……. So the relationship between water and mercury is supposed to be a legitimate analogy for the relationship between Freon and the atmosphere?

Wait – it gets better.

Starting on this page of the thread, the poster “tedlusk1” challenges Terry on the applicability of his ‘model’:

I was assured that Ozone, even though heavier than air, did indeed raise itself into the upper reaches of our atmosphere. I tried to duplicate this by placing mercury and water in a glass and agitating it repeatedly. So far, the mercury is still on the bottom, though.


I assume that this was a tongue-in-cheek snide remark, not any actual attempt to equate the two. Such a 'model' would garner a failing grade in even elementary school science.

Terry didn’t like that too much. Tedlusk1 expanded in a subsequent post:


Do you think posting these questions here will somehow alter the fact that Freon is heavier than the normal mix of atmospheric gasses?


Conclusion - you can't answer the questions.

Have you ever heard of, oh, wind? Updrafts? Currents? Diffusion? There are reports of solid objects - grasses, sand, particulate matter like smoke, even animals - floating about in the atmosphere. I cannot see how it is leaving you so flabbergasted that heavier than air gases and their breakdown byproducts might enter the atmosphere.

It is silly to suggest that dropping mercury in a glass of water is even close to being
analogous to the atmospheric mixing of gasses of differing densities. It is also silly to express disbelief that heavier than air gasses cannot mix with air or make it into the upper atmosphese. One can only draw such inferences if one ignores or is ignorant of basic meteorology and atmopheric science, or basic physical science.

Take a glass of water and put a drop of dye in it. Dye molecules are heavier than water and so should sink, and at first they do. But over time, the molecules diffuse throughout the water and produce a more or less equal distribution. And so with heavier than air gasses. Diffusion. Since CFCs are not water soluble, they are free to diffuse throughout the atmosphere for long periods of time.

Terry did not like that much, either. He later mentioned that volcanoes send more chlorine into the atmosphere than humans do. Ted asked:

And how did that chlorine get up there? It is heavier than air, isn't it?

Again, Terry did not like that. In fact, he ignored it, like so many of his erroneous, illogical, unscientific statements that he writes and are corrected by others. It appears that Tedlusk was later banned by Terry. That is also a recurring theme at that discussion board – and creationist-run boards in general – once someone starts pointing out the shallowness of the creationist position, they tend not to last long.

And to think - Trainor actually graduated form an engineering school and was employed by an engineering firm of some sort...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Chickenhawk Right-Winger

My friend and basic training, AIT and 319th FA (Airborne Battalion Combat Team) buddy Rob Ash has recently had an article published in The Eureka Reporter, a Humbolt County, CA, newspaper, chronicling his encounter with young, pro-war right-wing GOP activist Anthony Mantova. A few choice excerpts:

Mantova is an ambitious young neo-conservative activist, ardent supporter of the global war on terror, Fortuna Union High School graduate, and a past Eureka Reporter columnist.

A couple of years ago, after The Eureka Reporter first started, I contacted Mantova after reading one of his columns titled, “It is Time to Invade Iran.” Since he is such a fan of aggressive military solutions to solve the world’s problems, he should be eager to enlist.

Mantova flatly refused to concede to serving the United States in the military. The money quote from these conversations came when Mantova berated me for what he said was my “hillbilly, intellectually vacant and morally repugnant belief that ‘those who call for war must serve.’”...

These days, Anthony Mantova is a young fellow on the rise in GOP politics. He is the national field director for an organization called The Leadership Institute..... Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff and James Guckert (aka Jeff Gannon) are some notable graduates of The Leadership Institute.

Why is it, I often wonder, that many of those most eager to embroil our nation in war are simultaneously strenuously opposed to serving in the military? Many Right-Wing luminaries come to mind - Limbaugh, Gingrich, Cheney, O'Reilly, Carlson, Hannity, Reagan, some pudgy-faced twit who has his own right-wing radio show in Florida, the names in bold above, etc. - all advocates of many a war, none having served.

It is very easy to advocate sending someone else in to fight to try to implement some religio-politically, ideologically driven 'policy.' It is something else entirely to be willing to fight to implement the policies you advocate. This simple truth has been brought up before - the truth being that those advocating war but refusing to fight themselves being morally repugnant cowards - and dismissed by those it applies to. Sure, they appear to have 'sound' replies, such as 'one need not play football to have a favorite team' and other such idiotic drivel. I am not sure which is more pathetic - that these Chickenhawks actually find such excuses convincing, or that many in their fanbase do.

But those of us that have served, even if in peacetime, should feel differently (though, sickeningly, some veterans' political affiliation often seems to color their common sense on these issues). We should feel anger, disgust, humiliation. We are essentially being told by these right-wing cowards and hypocrites that we are expendable as far as they are concerned. That we are/were somehow beneath them, that military service is for the dregs of society, not the high and mighty, bible-toting Republican elite. That we are/were little more than pawns for the Republican power elite to use as they see fit.

Oh, sure, some of them might have their rich daddy make some calls and secure for them a coveted spot in a unit that is guaranteed stateside duty even in wartime so they can boast of having served - but that is, as far as I am concerned, just as bad as the chickenhawk-sissy that gets deferments or has the family doctor write them a bogus 'excuse' or those that simply advocate invading everyone to assert our power while not only flatly refusing to serve themselves, but also considering those that did serve as having the "hillbilly, intellectually vacant and morally repugnant belief that ‘those who call for war must serve."

It is, in fact, people like Anthony Montova and the other right-wing chickenhawks and their enablers in the electorate and media consumers who have the hillbilly, morally repugnant beliefs. Whatever ill-will befalls them, they richly deserve.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Walter "I'm right and everyone else is wrong' ReMine is back...

Walter ReMine has an ego the size of Montana. It is a shame that only he and a handful of simple-minded sycophants have realized this...

But I digress. He is back at ARN making his usual boasts and condescensions...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is writing a computer program really a scientific theory???

If you have no understanding of what an actual scientific theory is, and all you did for a living was write computer programs and you have an odd, almost obsessive vendetta against evolution and all things in the scientific mainstream, then I guess so...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Have we forgotten about Coulter the plagiarist?

I had written about the identified instances of plagiarism in Ann Coulter's latest screed, 'Godless,' here.

I have not heard of any follow up on this issue. I do hope it does not fade away...


There was some concern raised about whether or not Coulter had also engaged in plagiarism in her newspaper columns, and her syndicater was going to look into it. NEWSFLASH! They say there is nothing wrong... Who would have thought?

The blatant plagiarism in her book, however, is still unanswered for...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Clear evidence re: "LifeEngineer's" use of computer programming 'science' as a universal application

I have outlined the facts surrounding the psychology of one Warren Bergerson (aka 'LifeEngineer'), apparently a retired actuary with some computer programming/engineering experience, in which he believes that the concepts employed in computer programming/modeling are and must be universally employed in all fields of science if they are to even be considered science. Further, he employs his rather restrictive grasp of mathematics to try to shoehorn any data that anyone offers into his little 'it is all intelligence driven' box. He is a something else...(see, for example, here and here)

Namely, he claims that unless a field employs 'hard science predictive theories' and a 'falsify and replace' analysis of said theories, then those in the field are not engaging in science.

He has further explained that 'hard science predictive theories' are not meant to actually explain anything, and requiring them to do so indicates an ignorance of scioence and the scientific method.

What are 'predictive theories' and who uses them? Well, exactly the folks in Bergerson's supposed area of expertise, and that is basically it.

Computer modeling/programming employs 'predictive theories', but these are not 'theories' in the true scientific sense. From what I have gathered, 'predictive theories' in computer science refer to what amounts to an application of previous experience to a proposed new project. That is, one employing a 'predictive theory' would think along these lines: "When this line of code was changed on Program X, 'A' occurred, therefore, if I make a similar change in this line of code in Program Y, something like 'A' should also occur." ( Note - predictive theories are also employed in areas like physics and chemistry, where the ineractions between componants of a system are well defined and controllable, and the 'thgeories' look an awful lot like calculations, not statements. This alone should tell the intelligent person that such theories are at best of limited value in dynamic living biological systems.)

Anyway, a new thread at ARN, started by Bergerson, clearly indicates this transferrence that he engages in. It also shows how he is quite unable to produce anything of substance, for he titled the thread "Examples of IDT's [sic]" and two dayts later, he has provided none. Of course, he implies that he has - in Bergerson's world, alluding to something, hinting at something, or writing about something is the exact same thing as presenting something.

Bergerson gives awa the farm, however, in this post on page two:

Again, there are lots of existing examples of scientific analysis performed using IDTs or the logical equivalent of IDTs. Probably some of the best examples involve the computer programs and the design of computer programs.
When I sit down to design a computer program, I have a goal, I have at least an initial understanding of the constraints under which the program is expected to operate, I have an initial understanding of the output R the program is to produce, and I want to design a program or algorithms of the general type F(S,G) that produces output R. In other words, I want to find a predictive IDT of the type:"Under defined constraints, F(G,S) predicts or determines R"

How did he give away the farm? Well, he states clearly: where he is coming from (computer programming), and what his expectations for a 'predictive theory' are. These are amenable to biological reality (for the most part).
Well, read his writings to see for yourself.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bill "Isaac Newton of INformation Theory [sic]" Dembski up to his usual tricks

Dembski bragged about being one of the primary sources for the disinformation in right-wing lunatic Ann Coulter's latest 'book', "Godless", and many have written about the glaring errors and clear propaganda it contains. Dembski's response to requests to clarify just what he told Coulter [requests form Jim Downard] are met with his usual condescending hubris and pseudo-machismo, and were posted on Dembski's blog (without permission, I suspect) for the dimwitted denizens of Dembski's den to ridicule, but no actual responses to criticisms of the garbage found in her 'book'. Read about it here and here.

For what it is worth, I found it amusing to see 'Davescot' refer to Jim's writing as if it were from a 'girly man.' I've seen a picture of DaveScot (David Scott Springer), and he is not really in a position to be referring to anyone as a 'girly man.' Also of note was 'russ' on Dembski's blog writing that Jim has an "inability to communicate with regular people." This is the same russ that wrote, after visiting this blog for fewer than 10 minutes, that it did not appear that was refuting 'anything of substance' in my writing about Crevo and Haldane's dilemma. It appears that this 'russ' - too cowardly to leave any responses here, I might add - is intellectually incapable of rendering any sort of reasoned opinion on any issue that threatens ot weaken his anti-Darwinian zealotry.

Such is the mindset of the denizens of Dembski's den of sycophantic dolts.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My nomination for stupidest statement by a non-biologist about biology

"...An observed correspondence or correlation between some DNA codes and some amino acids, is not and will never be a causal relationship. "

Emphasis mine.

I hate to spoil it for the reader, but the writer of that uninformed nonsense is - are you ready? - anti-Darwinist computer-model maker Warren Bergerson...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pardon my French, but...

... Conservative Republican from Oklahoma senator James Inhofe is an ignorant ass.
You can have him, Oklahoma....

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bill Dembski and his sycophants (or is it psycho-phants?) - grotesque hypocrites and all 'round bad people

While perusing the Internet Infidels creation/evolution discussion board, I came across an interesting thread.

The author had written a review of Ann Coulter's take on evolution in her latest sleaze-oozing imbecile-fest, "Godless", and dared mention that Wizard of ID, Bill Dembski (who has boasted of providing Coulter with much of her "information" about evolution).

Dembski, ever the ego-pumping hypocrite and credential monger, would have none of it.
He made an 'all you have to do is read this' post on his blog titled "Nonexperts in evolutionary biology criticizing nonexperts in evolutionary biology for criticizing evolutionary biology".

The only text of this post was a snippet from the review in which the authors rightly mention the fact that Coulter (and Behe and Dembski himself) is apparently unwilling or unable to read primary scientific journals to get information.
Dembski's supposed rebuttal is to post the 'biographies' of the co-authors of that paper - one is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Rochester, the other is "...a self-employed artist, an activist for social change, and an avid student of history and anthropology."

This is supposed to render their opinions of Coulter's book irrelevant.

Let us remind ourselves just who William Dembski is.

He is a mathematician, philosopher, and theologian.

He has never done any research in nor has he taken any college-level courses in (as far as I can tell) anything related to biology. Yet, he writes 'authoritatively' on things like genetcs, evolutionary biology, etc.

A bit of the old pot calling the kettle black, to say the least.

What is more, there is a comment on one of the comments in that thread which reads:

"Why would a biologist be considered an expert in design, digital information systems, and factory automation? Sorting out where different critters belong in the phloygenetic tree is really little more than stamp collecting. All the action is in reverse engineering the machinery of life at the molecular scale. Engineers are the experts at reverse engineering. Who cares what happened in the distant past?..."

That comment was provided by one David Scott Springer, supposedly a retired computer tinkerer at Dell. Isn't it interesting to see yet another example of the computer tech/programmer/scientist asserting primacy of his sphere of knowledge above actual relevant knowledge? Allow me to turn that comment around and make it directly relevant:

Why would an expert in design, digital information systems, and factory automation be considered an expert in biology? Concocting or re-writing computer software or re-arranging pre-existing modules is little more than over-valued trial and error. All the action in biology is trying to figure out how biological systems operate, what does the ability to alter computer screen contrast or make a faster CPU have to do with providing any special insight on that?Biologists are the experts in biology. Engineers are the experts at engineering. Who cares what happens in a computer workshop when it comes to biology?

Just so we don't forget... (Salem hypothesis data points)

Warren Bergerson is not the only anti-Darwinist zealot with an engineering background that is clueless in the relevant sciences. Let us not forget (not an all-inclusive list and in no particular order) these other folks that I've briefly mentioned:

David R. Pogge


Walter J. ReMine (aka 'Laserthing', 'IThinkSo')


Jon Bartlett (aka 'Crevo', 'johnnyb')


Steve Petermann


There are many many more out there, of course.
All claiming some sort of special insight into something that they clearly have, at best, a tenuous intellectual grasp on...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Warren Bergerson's cavalcade of whimsy

Every week or so, I peruse the ARN discussion forum for examples of what I will now call the Bergerson effect - the act of extending one's actual area of knowledge to encompass and in fact supersede all others.

I have writen about Bergerson (aka 'Lifeengineer') a few times before, but to reiterate - he is apparently an engineer of some sort that is involved in producing models of human behavior for an insurance company. His favorite themes are:
1. He has disproved 'Darwinism' using simple actuarial math
2. Only a tiny percentage of all people that call themselves scientists are actually competent in the sciences
3. A tiny percentage of scientists understand how science works
4. Genetics is a pseudoscience
5. Evolutionary biology is a pseudoscience
6. All academic science is rife with corruption and incompetence
7. All industrial science is corrupt and incompetent, also
8. He and a small handful of people (whom he refuses to name) understand how to engage in true science
9. True science involves the formulation and use of 'hard science predictive theories'

Problem is, he has NEVER, not once, ever provided any supporting documentation or evidence at all for ANY of these claims, and in fact labels all who ask for such evidence as 'trolls' or accuses them of engaging in 'politics' or ideological paradigm defense.

I pointed out how predictive theories are really not theories as in scientific theories so much as expectations from previous experience and are used primarily by those in the computer programming/computer science field.

Thus, Bergerson believes that HIS field of supposed actual 'expertise' trumps all others; that the concepts and 'theory' structure used in computer modeling not only should, but must be applied to all other fields of science. And if that is not done - if a geneticist, for example, cannot produce a "predictive theory" in the same manner that he would in computer modeling, then they are clearly incompetent and engaging in pseudoscience.

He is, in my personal opinion, of course, a very delusional person, with a hint of megalomania.

Here - see for yourself:

ID theories

Can science explain science?

Truly some amazing exchanges there.

I especially this juxtaposition of claims by Bergerson from the 'Can science...' thread:

I would argue that for even moderately complex scientific issues, the portion of scientists with professional credentials with the competence to make meaningful contributions is less that 1 in 100 and for complex issues the ratio is probably less than 1 in a thousand. Is there published reports demonstrating that at least 99 out of 100 scientists are incompetent? Probably not.


I predict that such a test would confirm the 99 plus percentage incompetence claim. ... As far as I know, there is no published data supporting this conclusion.

No evidence, no studies, no data to support his claims - which he makes frequently - and he is lecturing others about incompetence and how to engage in real science?


Oh - one last one. A claim too incredibly unsupported and stupid to let slide:

There is hard evidence that genes do not contain anywhere near sufficient information to control or determine developmental processes.

That is a particulary funny, stupid claim. It derives from some older threads (that I may attempt to track down) in which Bergerson, again directly applying computer modeling/computer programming concepts to biology, declared that any type of phenotypic change requires millions of changes in 'programming', and since genes do not possess that much "information", natural processes cannot account for such changes.

I do wonder then how this wizard would explain achondroplasia caused by a single point mutation...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Creationist engineer using 'analogy' as 'evidence' yet again

What is it with these people?

Quote;All in all, there is no direct comparison between computers and DNA, or anything else in biology. There are some useful analogies and metaphors, but they are tropes, not biological reality.

It is understandable that DD's ["Darwin Defenders" - a cute little denigratory moniker that ARN forum denizens have given people that actually understand science in an attempt to belittle them without getting into trouble ] would try to ignore the analogy between computers and living systems since analysis based on this analogy clearly demonstrates that their belief system is logically unworkable...

Clearly, the person quoted in lavender above does not understand what analogies are used for...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Limbaugh caught with Viagra

This is classic stuff....

Thrice-divorced draft dodger and right-wing talk radio hero Rush Limbaugh was detained at the Palm Beach International Airport for having a bottle of Viagra in his possession that did not have his name as the patient.

He was returning from the Dominican Republic.


Now why would a nice unmarried family values guy like Limbaugh be taking A bottle of Viagra, which produces erections, to the Dominican Republic?
Was Mann Coulter with him?
Did he go down to 'visit' with some prepubescent boys? Underage hookers?

Will his idiotic listeners care at all?

Of course not.

Right wing heros have been pre-granted amnesty and immunity for all wrong doing. Doubtless, this is the Democrat's fault...


Who would have thunk it? The draft dodging drug addict is trying to 'laugh' it all away on his show...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Just when I thought Warren Bergerson ("Life Engineer") could not possibly get any stupider...

I engage in my latest intellectual autoflagellation by reading this (Bergerson in lavender):

Quote: Anyway, let me suggest "....without offering an explanation for how it works, it isn't a theory."

More scientific ignorance. Real science or hard science generates predictive theories that identify tested relationships between the values of cause and effect variables. Hard science neither produces nor requires explanations of how the causal relationships work.

Let's see what folks that actually understand a thing or two about what a "theory" is say:

From this BioTech dictionary":

In science, an explanation for some phenomenon which is based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning. In popular use, a theory is often assumed to imply mere speculation, but in science, something is not called a theory until it has been confirmed over the course of many independent experiments. Theories are more certain than
hypotheses, but less certain than laws.

Even in plain old, the relevant definitions are in direct contradiction to Bergerson's claim:

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.

Not opne - ever - to admit ignorance or basic error, Bergerson posts a typical condescending rejoinder:

Scientific analysis, in the end, always comes down to humans making decisions about the validity of scientific theories. It is important to recognize that there are only two known methodologies for making such decisions.

These are:
1. The hard science methodology where decisions are based on the results of open, objective, and independent falsify and replace analysis and

2. The subjective/authoritarian/political methodology where the validity of a 'theory' is based on the subjective personal opinions or voting by some set of individuals...

In other words, theories for which there exists supporting empirical evidence and provide explanations for the phenomenon in question are not 'hard' or 'real' science, whereas, assertions supported only by more assertions that have not yet been 'falsified and replaced' by other unsupported assertions are 'hard' or 'real' science. Incredible...
If any readers have even heard of "falsify and replace" analyses, or "hard science predictive theories", as described by Bergerson, please, let me know.

For example, if you search for "hard science predictive theories", do you think you will receive returns linking to CalTech or MIT or something? If you do, you will be wrong - you will receive links to posts by or about Bergerson.
If you search for "predictive theories" you will get a number of returns, many of which are not links to Bergerson's internet posts. You will find something interesting - you will find that "predictive theory" is a concept that is used frequently in computer science:

Ultimately, generating theories from your own research will provide the greater HCI [Human-Computer Interaction ] community with valuable knowledge. Theories and models that come about from your research will be one of three kinds:

explanatory theories

predictive theories

generative theories

Explanatory theories seek to explain the behavior of our world; they tend to provide a more conceptual model of the world. Predictive theories seek to predict outcomes based on the changing values of component variables. Predictive theories provide an extremely high level of utility to HCI, they allow designers to directly predict the outcomes of their designs on user performance variables. Generative theories generate guidelines and principles that provide useful and applicable knowledge and models. The type of theory a researcher intends to produce guides the selection of appropriate research methodologies.

And here:

Instead, we need to equip the HCI person with power tools for design. For me, that implies supplying HCI with supporting science in the form of predictive theories. Predictive theories are not merely frameworks. Predictive theories are things (which one person can tell to another) that can predict a situational or design consequence. Predictive theories are generative theories. They are ways of characterizing and hence organizing and constraining the design space.

This is how Bergerson uses the term - should we be surprised? Though he is very cryptic about his background and what he does, I have gathered that he has an engineering background and is involved with generating computer models of human behavior. That certainly explains why he insists on his definition of "predictive theory" and on the uber-utility of it - it is what he does, therefore, it has primacy over all things. Standard 'when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail' mentality.

However, 'predictive theories' ala Bergerson, as such, have limited utility outside of computer science and perhaps chemistry and physics since they do not explain anything.

So, you can 'predict' how much a bar of a pure metal will expand if you raise its temperature by one degree Centigrade. Big deal.
But you cannot actually explain why it does that. In terms of scientific knowledge, what good is it to be able to 'predict' something without understanding the reasons why the phenomenon even occurs? And to suggest, no - demand - that such 'theories' are "true science" and all else is 'political' is absurd to the highest degree. In fact, I find such 'theories' fairly useless in any fields other than those that do not seek to understand or explain anything, and why one would demand that such limited 'theories' are the only 'true' science escapes me, and I question whether the term 'theory' should even be used for such things.

But back to the topic at hand -

I am still undecided - is it pathetic or infuriating that this fool keeps writing so confidently about "hard science" when it is obvious that he lacks even a basic grasp of scientific principles?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ann Coulter - unoriginal right-wing nut

Ann Coulter has said and written some pretty stupid, false, silly, offensive things.

Now, it appears that not only has she done those things, but she simply copies the words of others.

That is called plagiarism.

That causes people to lose their jobs and be ostracized by their peers.

Will is affect Coulter in any way, shape or form? Doubt it. It will be laughed at and mocked
as "libral' hysteria,' and the right wing nuts of the country will just support her more.

What grotesque times we live in.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No, Fred Williams, the obsession is yours

Fred Williams is yet another biblical literalist nut case with a background in electrical engineering who has convinced himself that he knows more about evolution than he really does.

Like most internet creationists, he is very dishonest and deceptive and relies on discussion board control and insults to 'win' "debates".

At his joke of a "discussion" board*, fellow creationist computer dude "Crevo" aka "JohnnyB" aka John Bartlett informs Fred that I am using 'bad reasoning' and 'bloviating' here about Haldane's "dilemma".

Williams replies:

This is of course not at all surprising. I believe he recognizes just how damaging Haldane's Dilemma is to his religion of evolution, and why he seems so obsessed with this issue, that especially hits home for him since it's related (somewhat) to his area of expertise. I'm sure he'll be fighting against Haldane's Dilemma with the same lame arguments until the day he dies.

This is a prime example fo the dishonesty and sheer denseness of the creationist.
Williams, like ReMine, like Bartlett, like every other creationist that uses ReMine's baseless claims, could not provide a single piece of evidence that ReMine's application of Haldane' model was problematic for evolution, either. Like all such mantra spewers, he just yammered on that it really was a problem.

Oh - and what was my "bad reasoning"? Why, it was asking the creationist to actually explain why "Haldane's dilemma" as per ReMine IS a "dilemma" for evolution! Imagine that - asking creationists to actually support thier claims! How crazy of me.
At least 40 million mutations to produce obligate bipedalism, indeed... Stick to computer programming, Bartlett!

These folks are prime examples of what I call the Kruger/Dunning effect:

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.

*Williams essentially bans all the evolutionists, thus making it appear as if the creationists have the upper hand.

"Crevo" yuks up ReMine... again

Creationist computer programmer John Bartlett, aka 'Crevo', has again written in praise of electrical engineer creationist Walter ReMine. This time, he gives a rough overview of ReMine's creationist paper, "Cost theory and the cost of substitution—a clarification," published in the Answers in Genesis ministry's "Technical Journal" (TJ 19(1) 2005). I've read ReMine's paper. It is typical ReMine - simplistic and self-serving. It does provide some clear definitions and explanations of potentially complicated issues, I will grant him that. However, like all of ReMine's work - and all of the accolade-ridden supporting articles written by lay creationists like Crevo - its 'anti-evolution' conclusions rest on very simple, but unwarranted, assumptions.
I will comment on these later, but first, I just want to take a look at Crevo's blog post regarding this paper.

These two sentences:

For instance, the basic cost is the cost of replacement. In order for the next generation to have the same population as the current one, the minimum cost is for each member of the previous generation to have exactly one offspring.

demonstrate nicely why this whole issue is a non-issue. The sentences again, with emphasis:

For instance, the basic cost is the cost of replacement. In order for the next generation to have the same population as the current one, the minimum cost is for each member of the previous generation to have exactly one offspring.

Why would the next generation have to have the 'same population' (i.e., same population size) as the previous? Is this a requirement of evolution?
Answer: There is no reason that subsequent populations need to have the same nubers as the previous. And there is no such requirement in evolution.

Haldane's original formulations, which are the basis for ReMine's "one big thing", utilized the concept of a constant population size, primarily for mathematical purposes. In real life, population sizes fluctuate, and are not set at some predetermined optimum. They can grow and shrink as warranted by any number of external (or internal) influences, such as food supply, predator/prey relationships, etc. (all of which ReMine purposefully* and conveniently ignores in his paper), and essentially by definition, after a speciation event, a population will almost certainly get larger. Yet this growth will only incur a "cost" if, and only if, getting back to some predetermined population size is a goal.

Crevo goes on:

In this model, substitution to fixity can occur in a single generatiton, provided all of the original-type members die off in one she-bang. But that leaves a new problem -- the population size is now very small, so the chances of a beneficial mutation occurring are much, much less.

Interesting. As written, it comes across as though all critters lacking the beneficial allele are suddenly struck down. Could not the non-beneficial allele possessers die off gradually? And why would the occurrance of a new beneficial allele be relevant at all?
Well, it wouldn't, but creationists like to toss in as many 'anti-evolution' buzzwords as they can.

For example, let's say that you have a population of a million. One of them comes in with a novel mutation. Let's consider a scenario. Let's say that all of the original population dies off, and only a few organisms remain, one of which is the one carrying the novel trait. That trait can reach fixity very quickly. However, it is now a million times less likely for a given new novel trait to emerge (beneficial or otherwise). Therefore, while this particular trait was able to come to fixity quickly, it slows down the ability for another novel trait to enter the population. If on the other hand you keep most of your original-type, you have a better chance of getting new traits, but it requires a much larger cost to achieve fixity.

Non-sequitur upon red herring. Why the impetus for a "new novel trait"? Besides the double positive ('novel' means 'new'), what is the relevance? There is none. If there were a reason that most of a million-member population died off leaving only those with an allele that allows them to survive, those survivors HAVE the 'new novel trait' that allowed them to survive and reproduce, making them the most fit individuals. ANY offspring they have will add to the population. Is that a 'cost'? Or is 'cost', as used here, just a buzzword with a negative connotation?
Further, there seems to be an unwritten assumption in Crevo's essay that a particular number, or at least a particular rate, of 'new novel traits' must be produced if evolution is to be accepted. I see no reason whatsoever that such a tenet be inferred, much less required, of evolution. As best I can tell, evolution is not predicated on some particular rate of 'new novel trait' production, or beneficial mutation production. These are just confabulations.

I will be discussing ReMine's paper in a subsequent posting.

*From the abstract, emphases mine:

"Many factors that traditionally caused confusion are identified and dismissed, including genetic death, genetic load, the environment, and extinction, which are not essential to the cost of substitution."

He does, however, discuss population size fluctuation, but 'dismisses' it.

Such things can impact population dynamics, so "dismissing" them is at the very least curious, since population size can certainly affect the rates of 'replacement' on the way to reaching that 'goal' of maintaining the population size as required in ReMine's model.

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