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.