Friday, May 8, 2009

Tautologically speaking -- Yes, Dembski again :-)

Apparently William Demsbki, one of those less than stalwart fellows over at the Discovery Institute has put out another paper. "LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information: William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II" It's sort of an interesting read, but I still keep going back to my issues with everything Dembski has claimed in the past, none of it has meant anything. He is consistant in that regard.

Basically I have said in the past that in my opinion Dembski draws a line in sand and says that on one side are all the uncomplicated things that might have formed through natural processes, on the other side are complex things that could have only formed through an intelligence guided process. One of my many issues is that the dividing line is something so fluid that only Wild Bill Dembski seems to have this intuitive grasp of it that he is incapable of explaining it to anyone else. The line cannot be defined in any supportable fashion, it's apparently different for each organism, and even each part of each organism.

I'm not going to subject you too the whole paper, but I would love to point out just a few things about it:

  1. The "Law of Conservation of Information" is not a real construct. It appears to be an amalgamation of the mathematics of informational theory with the philosophy of information. These are two distinct concepts and merging them in this unsupported and unexplainable fashion just muddies the water rather than provide clarification. Better way to explain is simple, Information can be defined as data or meaning, Dembski seems to muddy them together without context. For example anyone who had done a college level paper knows that you collect information (data) and then assign meaning (the paper) and you use the data to support your meaning. Apparently Wild Bill skipped that class in college.
  2. His second section on "Biology's Information problem" is classic Dembski, repeating his old work and adding nothing new. He still draws the same unsupported conclusions and even repeats a lot of what he says in the first section. Dr. Mark Chu-Carroll, Computer Scientist, has a great line in his very detailed critique, " . . .Dembski's entire argument: by definition information requires intelligence; therefore if living things contain information, it must have been created by intelligence." [now you can see where I got my title, this is nothing but a tautology! Dembski is right because Dembski says he is right! Yea . . .Right!]
  3. The most fun was just the title of the last section: Conclusion: “A Plan for Experimental Verification”. This should be fun! He has an undefinable concept, documented in an unsupported paper, and now he thinks he can experiment with it. Actually after all this time of reading his 'work', I bet he will pull a Behe and allow others the 'privilege' of doing the experiments themselves.
    Actually after reading this the only conclusion I can find is that if you determine there is ANYTHING resembling information, Dembski will simply declare victory whether it has anything to do with his paper or not.
If sort of reminds of of the Creation Science Experiment I blogged about a long time ago:
"Tack or nail the feather to the stick with the shorter barbs pointing down. Ensure that the feather can swivel around on the nail/tack. Push the stick into the clay base. Use the hair dryer to blow air toward the feather from different angles. . . . "
and after all that, the documentation ends with:
"For a great Science project research and discuss the extreme complexity of the feather's structure, various types of fliers (birds, insects, mammals, reptiles); the DNA code barrier; and the mathematical impossibility of these different kinds of flying motions "evolving" by random chance."
See what I mean, the 'experiment' was a simple example of how a bird feather reacts in the wind, that's it. It's something I remember doing in 1st grade. And they leave it up to the experimenter to do the rest and call it a 'Creation Science experiment'. Where is the Creation part of the outlines experiment?

Pretty typical nonsense, I will say that Wild Bill has met my expectations again.


  1. "Unless possibilities are excluded, no information can be conveyed. To say "it is raining" or "it is not raining" is uninformative because that statement excludes no possibilities."
    I'm trying to wade through this thing. But this statement on the face of it seems needlessly simplistic. I'd maintain that information is conveyed in that statement, namely the state of knowlege of the agent making the statement. Or it could apply to weather on a global scale comparative to say weather on a waterless planet.
    I don't see how it is possible to exclude all possibilities when the backgound knowlege is a work in progress. These ID'ers seem to start with an assumption that what happened had to happen in the way it happened and base their calculations working backward from there. They ignore the fact that there is an enormous number of potential variants acting simultaneously with an enormous number of fitness functions over an enormous time period. How can you eliminate a universe of poorly understood possiblities?
    It would seem to me that the only way that they could compare ID with TOE would be to offer some sort of comparative process. Then they could play games with which is more statistically likely.

  2. I think they [ID Supporters] keep trying to come up with ways to equate ID and Evolution, but always come out on the losing end of the stick. So they try and rationalize it with tactics like equating Evolution to a religion, claiming that both are simply two different points of view that start from the same evidence, and the whole micro-macro evolution lunacy. They would love to be perceived to be at the same level as science, but as of yet only hard-core believers pay much attention to it. In the mean time Dembski keeps muddying the waters with unsupported assumptions and wishful thinking -- the only thinking that seems to appear to be in his work at any rate.

  3. So these guys must have some kind of smarts. They go to all that trouble to get a Phd and spend the rest of their careers trying to prove that what happened didn't happen.

    I guess it's a paycheck.

  4. I'm not sure how 'smart' Dembski is, oh he is educated, but smart? Anyone who says that the other esoteric mathematicians, who claim his 'work' is nothing but the unmitigated soil of a well-few male bovine, aren't smart enough to understand it . . . that's pure ego to me!