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Monday, November 26, 2007

The Internet and the intelligent design controversy

Apparently, Bill Dembski is taking some heat over the occasional use of some animated footage captured from the Internet that turned out to belong to Harvard:
Back in September of 2006 I announced at my blog UncommonDescent that a “breathtaking video” titled “The Inner Life of Cell” had just come out. The video was so good that I wanted to use it in some of my public presentations, but when I tried to purchase a DVD of it (I sent several emails to relevant parties), I was informed it wasn’t ready. Moreover, at the time, the video did not have a voiceover explaining the biology of what was being shown.

So some people who are invested in materialism and want to put off the question of whether materialist theories (the Enron of biology) can explain everything from the origin of the universe and life to the rise of consciousness - of course - want their that to be the issue instead.

Well, this certainly brings back memories! In the universe before the Internet, I was a permissions editor for a few years. The most important part of my job was helping to address the problem of what to do when we discovered that we did not actually have permission to use something that was already in print.

That can happen much more easily than people who are not in the publishing business suppose. Some rights holders are untraceable or do not answer their mail or have unintentionally behaved in such a way as to create the impression that they do not care if their work is public domain, or otherwise behave in a confusing way. I sometimes spent hours putting together a single file. And I was considered good at what I did.

Still, it wasn’t a big deal. The publishers whose rights we had infringed had probably infringed ours (all unintentionally), and everyone just wanted to smooth it over correctly.

However, the Internet is a new world because anybody can publish. Stuff can easily appear without attribution and disappear without notice. I am glad I don’t do that job today. Anyway, when the matter was brought to his attention today, Dembski said he would use another item.

As if keeping him from using a particular film clip is going to change the current massive direction of the evidence against random assembly and development of life!

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