Re: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper (science stoppers and OOL)

From: Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net>
Date: Fri Jul 04 2008 - 10:58:56 EDT
Pretty good. I appreciate your pushing back on the "lots of literature" claims.

Re: "It's the attitude concerning the gaps in our knowledge."  Not to improve on your post, just another way of saying the same thing is that for technical people of most stripes, anything that comprises a gap attracts attention and investigation. For ID, gaps seem instead to represent opportunities for entrenchment and defense (for "stopping") because of their basic premise. The predisposition guides the response rather than the observation. That's simply not the essence of standard science. That's not to say, however, that staunchly-defended-to-the-end but ultimately failed hypotheses do not litter the past of standard science. But those that rise and fall against the backdrop of a well-confirmed hypothesis make for small piles.

The "without a theory" recollection is a good one. One certainly has to ask, "What's changed?", if anything.

Also, I feel a certain sympathy for Dr. Behe in the Kitzmiller case, though not for his positions. He just didn't seem to do all that well on the stand. I wonder how much better most of us would have done under the same pressures. Still, I would think that as a teacher, he would have parsed the two principal meanings of theory a little more clearly. But then adrenalin has a way of dumbing us all down at times.

JimA  [Friend of ASA]

Rich Blinne wrote:
Bernie, it seems that it does take an atheist to move this science forward because ID truly is a science stopper for those who hold to it. As I already have shown all the areas which ID has posited as "problems" has spawned tens if not hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed studies the results of which have been simply ignored by ID. (To this day, they keep repeating their now-discredited talking points.) My own personal journey away from YEC/OEC/ID was spawned partly by this list a number of years ago. As part of my work, I have to navigate peer-reviewed studies so I got pretty good at reading them and have done peer review myself of papers submitted by junior colleagues. I subscribed to Science and Nature to see for myself the primary literature. I was floored by the quantity and quality of the studies that utterly decimated ID. Many people in ID say that people accept evolution because of their "worldview". In my case it was despite my worldview except for the part of my worldview that I go wherever the evidence leads because I have the confidence that God is a God of truth and the truth is nothing to be feared.

In 1998, the "Wedge Document" set a five year goal of 100s of peer-reviewed papers for the DI's senior fellows. In 2004, Paul Nelson gave the following evaluation of their progress towards that goal of a full-fledged research program for Touchstone Magazine:

Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design.  We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve  got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified  complexity”— but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

Over and over, when I ask for names I get pushed back with claims we are being persecuted with the so-called documentary Expelled being used as evidence. Fortunately, we have the trial record of Dover which put the ID proponents -- specifically Michael Behe -- under oath. No more of these vague, unsubstantiated claims. Here's some more from Judge Jones' opinion (Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision, p. 88):

On cross-examination, Professor Behe admitted that:  “There are no peer-reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.” [22:22-23 (Behe).]  Additionally, Professor Behe conceded that there are no peer-reviewed papers supporting his claims that complex molecular systems, like the bacterial flagellum, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune  system, were intelligently designed. [21:61-62  (complex molecular systems), 23: 4-5 (immune  system), and 22:124-25 (blood-clotting cascade)  (Behe).] In that regard, there are no peer-reviewed  articles supporting Professor Behe’s argument that  certain complex molecular structures are “irreducibly complex.” [21:62, 22:124-25 (Behe).] In addition to failing to produce papers in peer-reviewed journals, ID also features no scientific research or testing.

Bernie, you will note that this covers a variety of potential research areas that simply were never explored. One of the positive things that ASA fellow Francis Collins did was insist that genetic data be in the public domain. At the time he was competing against Craig Ventnor who most likely would have privatized the info. Computer programs such as BLAST are open source. Thus, there is no good reason why there isn't any research in the problem areas already identified by ID. For example, Nick Matzke as a grad student using BLAST showed homologies for most of the parts of the bacterial flagella. (http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v4/n10/abs/nrmicro1493.html)

Now I would move from the undeniable fact that ID is a science stopper to why ID is a science stopper. It's the attitude concerning the gaps in our knowledge. For normal science when we don't know something or there is a shortcoming to a theory that's viewed as a "research opportunity". For ID, it's a "talking point". It's one thing to point out that the bacterial flagellum appears irreducibly complex but to be completely intransigent to the evidence and to do no research yourself proves ID is not really interested in truly advancing the science. Note I am not talking about merely trying to make anti-evolutionism respectable. Rather, by attacking methodological naturalism ID goes way beyond anything that so-called scientific creationism dreamed about and goes to the heart of science-in-general and well beyond the narrow confines of biological evolution. Another thing that Behe admitted on the stand at Dover was the following:

Q In any event, in your expert report, and in your testimony over the last two days, you used a looser definition of "theory," correct?

A I think I used a broader definition, which is more reflective of how the word is actually used in the scientific community.

Q But the way you define scientific theory, you said it's just based on your own experience; it's not a dictionary definition, it's not one issued by a scientific organization.

A It is based on my experience of how the word is used in the scientific community.

Q And as you said, your definition is a lot broader than the NAS definition?

A That's right, intentionally broader to encompass the way that the word is used in the scientific community.

Q Sweeps in a lot more propositions.

A It recognizes that the word is used a lot more broadly than the National Academy of Sciences defined it.

Q In fact, your definition of scientific theory is synonymous with hypothesis, correct?

A Partly -- it can be synonymous with hypothesis, it can also include the National Academy's definition. But in fact, the scientific community uses the word "theory" in many times as synonymous with the word "hypothesis," other times it uses the word as a synonym for the definition reached by the National Academy, and at other times it uses it in other ways.

Q But the way you are using it is synonymous with the definition of hypothesis?

A No, I would disagree. It can be used to cover hypotheses, but it can also include ideas that are in fact well substantiated and so on. So while it does include ideas that are synonymous or in fact are hypotheses, it also includes stronger senses of that term.

Q And using your definition, intelligent design is a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes.

Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

It's important to see where ID deviates from standard science. First, let's look at the NAS definition:
In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses. The contention that evolution should be taught as "theory, not as fact" confuses the common use of these words through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science. They are understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences.

Note that the NAS point marks theory as the "end point" of science. Behe and ID confuse it with the beginning point namely a hypothesis and they apparently are very happy staying stuck at this beginning point of their "inferences". The rest of the testimony that day was Behe's failed attempt to extract himself from the pit he dug for himself. He said we used to believe in astrology but no longer, for example. Nowhere did he say why we abandoned the hypothesis which was we tested it and it was falsified. The testing part I guess is just too close to that nasty concept of "methodological naturalism" and that's the why behind the science stopping as it goes against that base concept. So, now I will summarize:

The part of ID that is opposed to methodological naturalism is organically a "science stopper" in that research that is based on that concept is not done. Intelligent Design that is not opposed to methodological naturalism does not have this flaw. Furthermore, those who hold to intelligent design but not opposed to methodological naturalism also admit that our -- I consider myself part of this group BTW -- current positions concerning such things as fine tuning and abiogenesis may be falsified in the future and thus we should hold on to these arguments lightly. One thing I learned while researching this series of posts is the lesson from Euler. The science of the time pointed to a young Universe and Euler -- unlike Newton -- could not really be faulted for his position of a young solar system because of the apparent problem of planetary instability. Nevertheless, it's a cautionary tale for all of us whether we hold to ID or not.

Rich Blinne

Member ASA


On Jul 3, 2008, at 11:14 AM, Dehler, Bernie wrote:

RE: ID is a science stopper?
 
I think it might be helpful to look at specific scientific details, too.
 
For example, how did life originate? Should we investigate? We had the Miller/Urey Experiment experiment.  Seems to me that those who love science and want to investigate would say that it was a good start, and wonder what we can learn from it and improve upon it.  Those who may think that God designed life may think this is all a waste of time, and have nothing positive to say- only negative.  They are science stoppers. 
 
Now, what does the ID movement say about the Miller/Urey Experiment?  Seems to me to be nothing but negative (RE: the DI-blessed “expelled” movie)—not even any suggestions on how to improve it or what can be learned from it.  Does it take an atheist to move this kind of science forward?
 
…Bernie

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Rich Blinne
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 9:43 AM
To: ASA
Subject: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper
 
Over and over I have asked for evidence that this is occurring and over and over I get offline complaints that somehow I was "exposing" ID proponents or climate skeptics. So, I then asked for titles and journals. But then the push back on submission policies of journals like Science and the Sternberg incident which was about anaccepted paper. See here if any of you find this objectionable (http://www.sciencemag.org/about/authors/prep/gen_info.dtl).
 
My patience has been exhausted. Rather than accept the fact that ID proponents have not stepped up to the plate this myth continues to be propogated. So, let me suggest one more avenue for the ID proponents to prove their point. Poll your colleagues ask them how many papers were rejected and from what journals. Summarize here with the number of researchers polled and the results. We can compare the rejection rates with people here that are not ID proponents. If I hear crickets, combining this with what I have previously presented it should be patently obvious to all that ID is truly a science stopper.
 
Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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