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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy

1. What makes Darwinism politically correct?

This episode of ID the Future features Robert Crowther interviewing CSC senior fellow Dr. Jonathan Wells on his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Dr. Wells explains the peer-pressure involved with Darwin's theory and shares from his studies in 19th century Darwinian controversies and evolutionary development at Yale and UC Berkeley, respectively.
Listen here.

The book's Web site is here.

In my view, Darwinism is politically correct because it is a tax-funded racket parasitizing real science. It attracts the sort of people who like free form speculation about the tyrannosaur's parenting skills, Neanderthal man's sex life and why homo sapiens (modern man) believes in God (not because some had an encounter with God, of course; such an idea could never be entertained).

2. The Design of Life: What the Evidence of Biological Systems Reveals

On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin discusses The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems with author Dr. William Dembski. Is design in nature just an "illusion," as Richard Dawkins proclaims? Dembski and co-author Dr. Jonathan Wells show the answer is "no." Biologists have and continue to use the assumption of design successfully, precisely because design in biology is not an illusion but real.
Listen here. Design is not an illusion, but then neither is the cushy position that current society grants to people who claim it is. Almost any other position, no matter how ridiculous, can be fronted (space aliens, multiple universes ... and I suspect that is only a start.)

3. How to teach responsibly without getting sued?

This episode of ID the Future features Casey Luskin interviewed by Kevin Wirth on the key legal cases involving teachers teaching evolution. What does the case law say about teachers' rights and free speech?

Luskin, a lawyer with a science background, published a survey of case law in Hamline University Law Review to help the public understand what the courts have ruled on the topic of teaching origins.

This survey of twenty-one cases investigates the question many teacher, parents, and students ask: what is legal when it comes to teaching evolution? Can public schools teach scientific critiques of evolution? What does Discovery Institute recommend for teaching in schools? Find out by downloading the survey of case law here.

Listen here.
What the Discovery Institute endorses? You'd never know it from what you read. Two reasons I realized years ago that the legacy mainstream media are gone cats are

a) the inability of the average reporter to get certain basic facts straight, for example:

Doubts about Darwin do not turn on the age of the Earth, but on implausible claims about the origin of high levels of information - you know, the jumbo jet slowly materializes from the scrap heap, with no intelligent input at all ... And so does the trilobite and the tyrannosaur, and man. And that Alfa Romeo you always wanted (but you had to buy a minivan when your wife had twins)? Yeah, really.

b) passive, gullible acceptance of completely stupid claims about human psychology, whose only purpose is to prop up Darwinism.

As I wrote to some friends recently:
I have said this many times, but indulge me while I say it again: The “big bazooms” theory of human evolution – taken seriously by Psychology Today as the biggest truth – is a classic in the field.

Allegedly, men prefer well-endowed women so that their selfish genes can determine whether the woman is fertile.

Oh? So it has nothing to do with the reasons many men prefer big steaks, big mugs of beer, SUVs vs. Golf Minis, bagging a moose vs. bagging a prairie chicken?

Who knew? Who could ever have guessed?

As I have pointed out elsewhere, animals show similar preferences to people.

Wolf packs prefer bringing down a caribou or a beefalo to bringing down a deer. The deer is as much trouble to chase, but doesn’t give anywhere near the number of servings.

So if we want to talk about the evolution of the preference for abundance vs. non-abundance, we must go way, way back into mammal or vertebrate evolution. No need to spend a lot of time with Old Stone Age Man.

The only reason for the Darwinist's Old Stone Age Man schtick is to find a question that “evolutionary” psychology can supposedly answer in a materialist way.

I have yet to see it perform better than psychology in real time.

Yet sponsored Darwinist nonsense is everywhere now, and it corrupts both thinking and behaviour.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


New papers confirm: Sorry Mr. Dawkins - No free lunch today cont'd

Some people are bothered by the craziness that surrounds the Darwin-v-Design controversy, but I take a more relaxed view. Don’t get me wrong. If I thought there were nothing but craziness, I’d be as frustrated as anyone. But serious science is being done on both sides of the debate, and that should give us confidence that a truer picture of biology will become visible as the smoke clears.
Gauger continues:
In the recent past, several papers have been published that claim to demonstrate that biological evolution can readily produce new genetic information, using as their evidence the ability of various evolutionary algorithms to find a specific target. This is a rather large claim.

It has thus fallen to others in the scientific or engineering community to evaluate these published claims. How well do these algorithms model biology? How exactly was the work done? Do the results make sense? Are there unexamined variables that might affect the interpretation of results? Are there hidden sources of bias? Are the conclusions justified or do they go beyond the scope of what has been shown?

A new paper by Montañez et al. [1], just published in the journal BIO-Complexity, answers some of these questions for the evolutionary algorithm ev [2], one of the computer programs proposed to simulate biological evolution. As perhaps should be no surprise, the authors found that ev uses sources of active information (meaning information added to the search to improve its chances of success compared to a blind search) to help it find its target. Indeed, the algorithm is predisposed toward success because information about the search is built into its very structure.

These same authors have previously reported on the hidden sources of information that allowed another evolutionary algorithm, AVIDA [3-5], to find its target. Once again, active information introduced by the structure of the algorithm was what allowed it to be successful.
These results confirm that there is no free lunch for evolutionary algorithms. Active information is needed to guide any search that does better than a random walk.

Abstract of Douglas Axe’s paper:
To explain life's current level of complexity, we must first explain genetic innovation. Recognition of this fact has generated interest in the evolutionary feasibility of complex adaptations--adaptations requiring multiple mutations, with all intermediates being non-adaptive. Intuitively, one expects the waiting time for arrival and fixation of these adaptations to have exponential dependence on d, the number of specific base changes they require. Counter to this expectation, Lynch and Abegg have recently concluded that in the case of selectively neutral intermediates, the waiting time becomes independent of d as d becomes large. Here, I confirm the intuitive expectation by showing where the analysis of Lynch and Abegg erred and by developing new treatments of the two cases of complex adaptation--the case where intermediates are selectively maladaptive and the case where they are selectively neutral. In particular, I use an explicit model of a structured bacterial population, similar to the island model of Maruyama and Kimura, to examine the limits on complex adaptations during the evolution of paralogous genes--genes related by duplication of an ancestral gene. Although substantial functional innovation is thought to be possible within paralogous families, the tight limits on the value of d found here (d = 2 for the maladaptive case, and d = 6 for the neutral case) mean that the mutational jumps in this process cannot have been very large. Whether the functional divergence commonly attributed to paralogs is feasible within such tight limits is far from certain, judging by various experimental attempts to interconvert the functions of supposed paralogs. This study provides a mathematical framework for interpreting experiments of that kind, more of which will needed before the limits to functional divergence become clear.

A note about the journal BIO-Complexity:

BIO-Complexity BIO-Complexity is a peer-reviewed scientific journal with a unique goal. It aims to be the leading forum for testing the scientific merit of the claim that intelligent design (ID) is a credible explanation for life. Because questions having to do with the role and origin of information in living systems are at the heart of the scientific controversy over ID, these topics—viewed from all angles and perspectives—are central to the journal's scope.

To achieve its aim, BIO-Complexity is founded on the principle of critical exchange that makes science work. Specifically, the journal enlists editors and reviewers with scientific expertise in relevant fields who hold a wide range of views on the merit of ID, but who agree on the importance of science for resolving controversies of this kind. Our editors use expert peer review, guided by their own judgement, to decide whether submitted work merits consideration and critique. BIO-Complexity aims not merely to publish work that meets this standard, but also to provide expert critical commentary on it.
Apparently, there are no vacancies for trolls in the foreseeable future.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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