Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Dembski Files

Several people have expressed an interest in hearing the recordings of Bill Dembski at his recent appearance here. However, there is some suggestion that Dembski would attempt to suppress such material. I strongly believe in the free exchange of ideas, and in that spirit, would like to offer to make that material available via a French server in the (possibly naive) hope that censorship of material in the public domain will be harder to achieve here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tour de France 2007

This year's Tour de France came through our local town today. The gendarmerie closed the main road, normally busy with traffic and people gathered along the route.

For the average roadside spectator, the event consisted of two hours of la caravane, a stream of vehicles advertising various companies and products hurling trinkets (hence the hat), followed by ten seconds of the leading group and a minute of the peloton rushing by. Then we all sauntered off back home to watch the finish on TV.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Note from Joe Gallien

Joe has addressed a thread to me on his blog, copied below। As I no longer spend much time on the ID issue, I only noticed it via a thread Blipey posted at AtBC. If Joe wants to develop his theme and needs a response from me, I suggest he lets me know here.

Another Note to Alan Fox

I said on UD: and a note to Alan Fox:

ID still flourishes because educated people know that “Kitzmiller” was a farce and has been exposed as such.
September 20, 2006 @ 9:49 am

Alan replied:
I always thought you saw the world as you wished it to be, rather than how it is. Now I know. I will agree with your remark when Kitzmiller is appealed and reversed because "Intelligent Design" is discovered to have some scientific basis, rather than just being a cloak for fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Somehow, I don't think I need to worry about having to agree with you in this lifetime. (my emphasis)

Yup Alan. Obviously it is you who chooses to see the world as you want it to be rather than how it really is:

"The differences between Biblical creationism and the IDM should become clear. As an unashamedly Christian/creationist organization, ICR is concerned with the reputation of our God and desires to point all men back to Him. We are not in this work merely to do good science, although this is of great importance to us. We care that students and society are brainwashed away from a relationship with their Creator/Savior. While all creationists necessarily believe in intelligent design, not all ID proponents believe in God. ID is strictly a non-Christian movement, and while ICR values and supports their work, we cannot join them."- John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research

Oops- "ID is strictly a non-Christian movement". And that is from someone who knows more about ID and Christianity than Alan Fox ever will.

As far as the "Kitzmiller v. Dover" decision goes, many legal experts have already shown beyond any doubt that Judge Jones went too far. It is also obvious from the decison that the judge took out his wrath on ID because of a few lying and ID ignorant school board members. IOW Judge Jones is still clueless to ID reality and most likely still ignorant of science.

It is also very telling that the best moment for the plaintiffs was a bluff. That being when their attorney threw down some 58 references that allegedly demonstrated the evolution of the immune system via blind watchmaker-type processes.

Judge Jones bought that bluff whole-sale. All judges are not that stupid.

Now I know Alan will just ignore all of this because willful ignoarnce is the evolutionitwit way...
posted by Joe G @ 3:17 पम
My response:

"Another Note to Alan Fox" which, you forgot to send, Joe. Thank Blipey for posting a link to your blog at AtBC.

You write:

Now I know Alan will just ignore all of this because willful(sic) ignoarnce(sic) is the evolutionitwit way...

Joe, ID died at Harrisburg. Creationism will no doubt continue as a belief system. I defend and fully support your right to believe anything you like that does not lead you to commit or incite others to commit crimes against humanity such as mass murder (or even the odd single murder or assault). Just don't call it science, and that will avoid confusion.

from someone who knows more about ID and Christianity than Alan Fox ever will.

It is not my policy to debate the merits of competing belief systems, Joe. If you get comfort from your particular sect, then I am happy for you. I have always suspected that some people have an innate need for some kind of religious crutch and others don't, and attempts by people of either category to persuade those from another are not usually productive.

What does puzzle me is why my religious convictions are of any interest to you, as yours are of utterly no interest to me.

My wife has asked me to "stop wasting time blogging" so I can't really afford to spend more time here. I will copy this to my blog and will keep a weather eye on it in case you want to respond.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cosmic Rays and Climate Change.

Dave Springer has a thread at Uncommon Descent, based on the work of Henrik Svensmark, who claims his data show that cosmic rays are a significant contributor to global warming. It seems, however that the data have been "corrected" so that the data fit with Svensmark's hypothesis.

What puzzles me is why Dave promotes denial-ism of global warming so enthusiastically. I know he has family. Is there no doubt or concern for the future that would cause him to try and consider evidence objectively rather than source and promote any article that is sceptical of human contribution to climate change? I would really like to know what is wrong with attempting to reduce carbon emissions by conserving fossil fuels? As I have remarked before, Pascal's wager is the best policy. If we are wrong about fossil fuel, but reduce emissions anyway, the air is still cleaner, fuel stocks are available for future use, whereas if we delay and the prophets of doom are right and climate change becomes unstoppable...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Guest Posts Invited

Things have gone very quiet since the Kitzmiller decision. The Intelligent Design movement has been sidelined as a political force and, to date, there has been no serious attempt to justify in any real sense the claim that ID is scientific. There must be many, who were swayed by the pseudo-scientific musings of Dembski, Behe and others, who must be feeling a little let down.

Is there anyone out there still prepared to justify the premise that Intelligent Design is or can be considered a scientific subject?

Anyone who would like to write a post on this subject is invited to submit it (you can email the text to alan_fox_(AT)* *(change (AT) to@) and I will post it, subject to the rules of polite discourse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For David Springer to "get down in the mud"

Rich Hughes has been commenting here and provoked a comment by none other than that feisty guardian of Uncommon Descent, ex USMC sergeant David Springer.

Dave wrote:

If I weren't banned at Pharyngula, Dispatches, Panda's Thumb, ATBC, I'd get down in the mud with them. I was sergeant in the USMC and Marines aren't exactly famous for being delicate and refined. The fact of the matter is they can dish it out but they can't take it and if any of them don't believe that then I challenge them to unban me at those sites. Even though I'm vastly outnumbered they still can't deal with me. On blogs I try to follow the rule "When in Rome do as the Romans do." Larry Moran's evolution blog is the only one where I'm still tolerated. Moran has a thick skin and for that he has my respect. Red State Rabble is a real joke. Witless, classless wimp Pat Hayes doesn't even enable comments. If not cowardice I'm not sure why since he doesn't have any semblance of refinement to guard.

Well, Dave, let's see how you deal with the cowards at AtBC. Let's see who is the first to cut and run.

Seriously Dave, Rich (and I) are amazed at your ability to dismiss climate change. Our view, independently arrived at, is that reducing carbon dioxide emissions by reducing consumption of fossil fuels has no huge downside, if, in fact, global warming turns out to be a myth. On the other hand...

Professor Davison still tilting at Windmills.

Addiction is very difficult to deal with. Unable to break mine yet, I noticed John has come out of his shell at ISCID and (since the ashtrays were full on his previous blogs) has opened a new blog.

Of course, I couldn't resist commenting, so I wonder if John will wipe the comment, ignore it, or insult me. Any guesses?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Intelligent Design; wake me when there is some news.

I have been following Intelligent Design for nearly two years now and in that time nothing in the way of credible research or evidence has emerged that supports the claim that ID is scientific. I don't think I am alone in believing that ID has no future as a vehicle to undermine the teaching of evolution, especially after the Kitzmiller ruling, and I don't think there is much point in spending time on arguing with people who believe it still has some mileage. My initial assessment of ID in my earliest encounter with an ID proponent was that ID would be forgotten within five years, and that now looks to me an over-generous estimate.

So, unless Behe, Dembski et al. come up with something new, I doubt I shall be losing any sleep over the possibility of Intelligent Design taking over the world.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Climate Change, separating science from propaganda.

David Springer has indicated that Uncommon Descent is the place to find out the truth about global warming. However, there are those who are unable to post queries or alternative views as Dave controls access to his threads.

So, in the hope that Dave is pursuing this topic in the light of furthering human knowledge, rather than taking a particular propaganda line ( You do live in Texas, after all, Dave), I offer this thread to all who have questions, additional evidence and material that they are unable to post at Uncommon Descent.

Naturally, I invite Dave and any fellow contributors and commenters from Uncommon Descent to participate if they wish. Usual minimal rules apply, (no obscenity, no spam) and as an additional request can I ask everyone to restrain themselves from using gratuitous abuse.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Climate change is part of the Darwinian conspiracy?

As "Intelligent Design" has utterly failed as a way to insinuate creationist ideas into state school curricula, it seems that Uncommon Descent has given up all pretence that is any kind of science blog and is now openly promoting an obvious right-wing politico-religious agenda. The views of David Springer, expressed virtually unchallenged in this carefully moderated environment, would be less hilarious if they were to become part of a political party's manifesto.

The most worrying issue for me is how Springer and others can dismiss climate change in such a cavalier manner and in the face of evidence from many sources. So much evidence is available, in my own area, glaciers in the Pyrenees have disappeared. Mount Kilimanjaro glaciers have shrunk alarmingly over the last 80 years. The Antarctic , the Greenland ice shelf, the Arctic sea ice, everywhere one looks, the trend is clear. That people can still promote ID is no longer a problem after Dover, but why are the same people denying climate change? This is serious. Have these reality deniers no thought for their children's future?

Friday, February 09, 2007


I am unavailable for the next few days, as my sister-in-law and family are here for a short visit. Her husband wanted to check his emails and noticed the title of the previous thread which happened to be on the screen. "Who is Bill Dembski?", he asked me. The U. K. is definitely ripe for an "Intelligent Design" take-over.

I am temporarily suspending comments till I get back.

Edit: On reflection, I will leave comments open, so, play nice till I get back.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Explanatory Filter, a useful process?

Secondclass' thread reminded me of a question I asked at the ARN board over a year ago. What can be achieved with the explanatory filter when applying the process to a real biological system? Despite the thread running for nine months and to eighteen pages, nobody came up with any true example.

Indeed, Salvador Cordova disingenuously introduced the "red herring" of Genetic-ID, which he also trotted out again here.
The comments are amusing for several reasons, DaveScot not being impressed with Salvador's argument, and a couple of posts by one Xavier (me), with Secondclass getting a DaveScot addition to his final comment.

If Joe Gallien has time, maybe he could enlighten me as to whether the EF has yet been applied to a real biological example.

This thread might be the place for anyone else apart from Joe and Secondclass who might wish to comment on the previous thread.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"How Carefully Do Dembski's Advocates Read His Work?" by Secondclass

It seems to me that anyone who finds Dembski's work convincing hasn't read it very carefully or thought about it very much. I have yet to find an exception, other than possibly Dembski himself.

The most extreme case I've discovered is Joe G., who claims that he has read The Design Inference, No Free Lunch, and other works by Dembski, and that he has discussed complexity and specification with Dembski himself. But after all that study, Joe still hasn't grasped even the basics of Dembski's approach and terminology.

1. Joe doesn't know that the "complexity" part of "specified complexity" is synonymous with improbability.

2. Joe doesn't know that specificity is positively correlated with simplicity of description.

3. Joe doesn't know that Dembski's most oft-used example, the Caputo incident, is an instance of specified complexity, according to Dembski.

4. Joe doesn't know that knowledge of designers' capabilities plays no role in Dembski's approach. He has failed to realize the Dembski's approach is eliminative, with design exempt from consideration for elimination.

And until he was corrected, Joe thought that detachability was a sign of fabrication rather than a requirement for specification.

Those of you familiar with Dembski's work can decide whether Joe has actually read what he claims to have read. Either way, I thank Joe for adding a strong data point to my theory regarding the level of understanding of Dembski advocates.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Julian Huxley's Confession by John A. Davison

by John A. Davison

The history of any science often reveals aspects of that science that have escaped attention in the intervening years. As someone so wisely put it -”The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” I present, in this brief essay, one particularly revealing demonstration of that phenomenon, one that is especially significant to the current status of the Darwinian hypothesis.

Julian Huxley was the grandson of the distinguished Thomas Henry Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his spirited defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Like his illustrious grandfather Julian Huxley became a major spokesperson for Darwinism when in 1942 he published his“Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.”

Two years earlier, Richard B. Goldschmidt had published “The Material Basis of Evolution” in which he had in effect dismissed the corpuscular gene as the evolutionary unit and instead proposed that it was the chromosome and its internal structure, which had served to direct evolutionary change. It is difficult to imagine two books more opposed in perspective.

Huxley referred to Goldschmidt some 28 times, yet remained a convinced selectionist Darwinian nevertheless. It is important to remember that Darwin wholeheartedly subscribed to Lyell’s Uniformitarian Doctrine; namely, that the forces we now see shaping the world are the same forces that have operated in the past. While that is what most geologists still accept there is no a priori justification for extending that concept to the living world. That is what makes what I am about to present all the more significant.

Huxley’s book ends with the chapter “Evolutionary Progress.” On page 571, seven pages before the end he presents the following synopsis. For emphasis I have italicized key words and phrases but otherwise it is verbatim.

Evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys. Some are extremely short - those leading to new genera and species that either remain stable or become extinct. Others are longer - the lines of adaptive radiation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their terminal blank wall. Others are still longer - the lines that have in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions years. But all in the long run have terminated blindly. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic. For the arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the full stop seems to have come in the early Cenozoic: even the ants and bees have made no advance since the Oligocene. For the birds, the Miocene marked the end; for the mammals, the Pliocene.

I was amazed to read this summary and was curious to find out what prompted Huxley to include it at the end of his book, as it would seem to negate much of what preceded it. Where did he get the notion that evolution was finished? This I feel I was able to do from a paper by the anti-Darwinian paleontologist Robert Broom. Huxley and Broom had corresponded on the subject as revealed by Broom:

And a few zoologists are beginning to recognize that evolution is slowing down, if not quite stopped. In a letter I had from Professor Julian Huxley only a few months ago he says, ‘I have often thought about your idea of the fading out of evolutionary potency, and though I cannot pretend to agree with some of the philosophical corollaries which you draw from it, I more and more believe that it is of great importance as a fact.’ (Broom, 1933).

I was disappointed to discover that the only reference Huxley made to Broom was in a footnote on page 568:

A small minority of biologists, such as Broom (1933), still feel impelled to invoke ‘spiritual agencies’ to account for progressive evolution, but their number is decreasing as the implications of modern selection theories are grasped.

The reference to “spiritual agencies” by Broom was his suggestion that there had been a Plan, a word he capitalized.

Without referring to either Huxley or Broom, Pierre Grasse reached the same conclusions:

Facts are facts; no new broad organizational plan has appeared for several
hundred million years, and for an equally long period of time numerous
species, animal as well as plant, have ceased evolving… At best, present
evolutionary phenomena are simply slight changes of genotypes within
populations, or substitution of an allele with a new one. (Grasse, The
Evolution of Living Organisms,1977 page 84.)

The period of great fecundity is over; present evolution appears as a
weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren’t we witnessing the
remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren’t the small
variations which are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last
oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Aren’t our plants, our animals,
lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and
fauna? (Ibid, page 71).

I unhesitatingly answer yes to each of Grasse’s three questions and I hope others can as well. The reason I have presented this brief essay is to demonstrate that, even from within the Darwinian establishment, grave doubts have surfaced concerning its basic tenets from one of their most prominent spokespersons. I am not surprised Huxley is rarely referenced these days.

Broom, R. (1933) Evolution - Is there intelligence behind it? South African Journal of Science, 30: 1-19

Goldschmidt, R. B. (1940) “The Material Basis of Evolution.” Yale University Press, New Haven.

Grasse, P. (1977 “Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation.” Academic Press, New York. (Original French edition 1973).

Huxley, J. (1942) “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.” Harper, New York and London.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The very human face of David Springer

I have not joined in the general hilarity elsewhere over the recently published image of John's erstwhile acolyte, DaveScot. I would be too vulnerable to the "pots and kettles" accusation for that.

No, the interesting (not to say, frightening) thing is, there is a distinct resemblance. Tidy the hair, trim the beard to a neat goatee and...

Dave, we could be twins.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Darwinian Delusion by John A. Davison

It is now 147 years since the publication of Darwin’s celebrated “On the Origin of Species,” yet not a single species has been observed to be formed through the mechanism he proposed. That mechanism, the natural selection of randomly produced variations is apparently incompetent to transform contemporary species even into a new member of the same genus. The most intensive artificial selection has also proven to be unable to transcend the species barrier. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that evolution is finished as proposed by the anti-Darwinian Robert Broom and the Darwinian Julian Huxley, curiously the same man who coined the term “the modern synthesis.” (Davison, 2004). Pierre Grasse suggested the same.

“Aren’t our plants, our animals lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and fauna?” (Grasse, 1977, page 71).

I realize that some would not agree with us that evolution is finished, but I am now convinced that it is. How then is it possible for an hypothesis to survive without verification? Both the Phlogiston of Chemistry and the Ether of Physics collapsed when controlled experiment demonstrated them to be without foundation. Darwinism also has failed to survive the acid test of experimental verification. Why then has it persisted?

The reason for this paradox is the subject of this brief essay. It is, as my title indicates, because Darwinism is a delusion. The delusion is that evolution (phylogeny) has proceeded as the result of external causes which can be identified and experimentally manipulated. In my opinion that is impossible because such causes do not now and never did exist. They also do not exist for ontogeny, the development of the individual from the egg. Ontogeny and phylogeny are manifestations of the same reproductive continuum. Since only ontogeny remains, we must look to it as a model evolution. Does not ontogeny proceed entirely on the basis of contained information present in the fertilized egg? Of course it does. The only role for exogenous factors is to provide the necessary conditions for development to take place. For the amphibian fertilized egg all that is required is a freshwater environment at a suitable temperature. In a very real sense that is all that is required for the development of a mammal. I can say that because the amniotic fluid in which the mammalian embryo is bathed is very low in dissolved salts, like the ancestral environment in which our amphibian predecessors developed. Even the crab-eating frog of India, which dives into the surf to capture its prey, must go inland to fresh-water ponds in order to reproduce. Thus the mammalian womb retains the properties of the environment in which our ancestors developed in the past as their relatives still do today. This is true also of the amniotic fluid surrounding the bird or reptile embryo. It too is much lower in salts than the blood or tissue fluids, betraying their fresh-water ancestry as well.

In every instance when we look for a role for the environment as a guide to evolutionary change we encounter a blank wall. The most that can be documented is that of acting as a stimulus for a potential already present. That includes the capacity to become resistant to insecticides and all other phasic responses which, unlike evolution, have proven to be reversible. Mendelian allelic mutations are also reversible and accordingly have played no significant role in evolution either. This realization has led me to postulate the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis (PEH) as the only reasonable alternative for the formation of species as well as any of the higher taxonomic categories (Davison, 2005).

Coupled with the Darwinian delusion is the incapacity of certain ideologies to accept the implications of a predetermined evolution. Such a scenario demands one or more past intelligences far beyond our present capacity to comprehend. Such concepts are anathema to the atheist Darwinian perspective. The Darwinians have traditionally pretended that they had no critics. It is evident in the references and citations that are missing from the writings of their primary spokespersons, Ernst Mayr, William Provine, Stephen Jay Gould and most recently Richard Dawkins.

Otto Schindewolf recognized the failure of the experimental approach to phylogeny more than a half century ago. He too has been ignored but not by this investigator.

“Many recent authors have spoken of experimental evolution; there is no such thing, Evolution, a unique, historical course of events that took place in the past, is not repeatable experimentally and cannot be investigated that way.” Basic Questions in Paleontology, page 311, italics his emphasis, bold my emphasis.

Davison, JA. [2004], Is Evolution Finished? Rivista di Biologia 97:111-116
Davison, J.A. [2005], A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. Rivista di Biologia 98: 155-166.
Grasse, P. [1977], Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation. Academic Press, New York. (original French edition 1973)
Schindewolf, O. [1993] Basic Questions in Paleontology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. (Original German edition 1950).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If it ain't broke...

Apologies to everyone. In trying to move this blog to another host to improve accessibility, I appear to have closed the comments on all previous threads and don't appear to be able to reverse the situation. You should be able to comment on this thread at least, so if anyone has any solutions to offer, I would be grateful.

As a last resort, I can always repost a thread topic.

Edit: well, isn't that amazing. Posting this has restored comments.