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  Topic: Elsberry & Shallit on Dembski, Discussion of the criticism< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry

Posts: 4465
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 18 2004,11:22   

This is something that I responded to on The Panda's Thumb. I'm repeating it here so that there is another channel of communication for this message to Salvador.


Salvador T. Cordova wrote:


Sternberg’s professional qualifications in relevant fields, it seems, exceed even those of Gishlick, Elsberry, Matzke combined.  So I hope that will be taken into consideration in view of charges the article is substandard science.

The credentials of Sternberg don't change the content of Meyer 2004. That's pure argument by authority, and it just doesn't work in science.

The similar situation with regard to antievolutionist fascination with (mis)quotation is something I've commented upon before:


The antievolution fascination with quotations seems to stem from the anti-science mindset of "revelation": testimonial evidence reigns supreme in theology, thus many antievolutionists may mistake that condition as being the same in science. However, science has pretty much eschewed assigning any intrinsic worth to testimonial evidence. Quotations from some source are taken as being an indication that some condition as stated holds according to the reliability of the speaker, as seen by reviewing the evidence. Antievolutionists "get" the first part, but have real difficulty coming to terms with the second part. If some Expert A says X, then the antievolutionist expects that no lesser known mortal will dare gainsay Expert A's opinion on X. However, such a situation is routine in science. Anyone presenting Evidence Q that is inconsistent with X then has shown Expert A to be incorrect on X. If the person holding forth shows repeatedly that they can't be trusted to tell us correct information on, say, trilobites, then that just means that we likely don't hold any further talk on trilobites from that source in high regard.

We pointed out problems with Meyer 2004. The issue is whether our criticism stands up to scrutiny. Salvador has avoided dealing with the content of our criticism, and is apparently forced to adopt fallacious modes of argumentation to defend Meyer 2004.

I've pointed out to Salvador exactly what he needs to do to show that his boasting about the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper being the wrong citation to critique Meyer 2004 by was on track. These items are things that if I were wrong about, Salvador should quickly be able to show that I was wrong on. This is the FOURTH TIME I've entered this in response to Salvador's comments here since August 31st. I'll email them to him, too, just to eliminate any weak apologetic that he had somehow overlooked the previous presentations.


(From )

[quote=Salvador T. Cordova]
In the meantime, I hope Stephen Meyers will read these reviews and learn.  I can confidently say he can ignore any challenges offered by the “Elsberry and Shallit 2003” paper.  I don’t mind you guys building your case on it though. It’ll just be that more of an embarassment to see it all collapse when that paper is refuted.

It doesn’t matter if “the paper” is “refuted”; what matters is whether the particular claims made are supported and true. Here are the claims again:


2. Meyer relies on Dembski’s “specified complexity,” but even if he used it correctly (by rigorously applying Dembski’s filter, criteria, and probability calculations), Dembski’s filter has never been demonstrated to be able to distinguish anything in the biological realm — it has never been successfully applied by anyone to any biological phenomena (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

3. Meyer claims, “The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or ‘complex specified information’ (CSI) of the biological world.” Yet to substantiate this, Meyer would have to yield up the details of the application of Dembski’s “generic chance elimination argument” to this event, which he does not do. There’s small wonder in that, for the total number of attempted uses of Dembski’s CSI in any even partially rigorous way number a meager four (Elsberry and Shallit, 2003).

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (2), all one has to do is produce a citation in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing a complete and correct application of Dembski’s GCEA to a biological system such that “CSI” is concluded. Thus far, I’m unaware of any such instance. The only thing that makes any moves in that direction at all is Dembski’s section 5.10 of “NFL”, and we were careful to make clear why that one was both incomplete and incorrect.

In order to demonstrate that Elsberry and Shallit 2003 is incorrect on point (3), all one has to do is produce citations in the published literature (dated prior to our paper) showing the attempted application of Dembski’s GCEA to more than four cases. I’m unaware of any further examples that have been published, but I’m perfectly open to revising our number to account for all the instances.

Until and unless those citations are forthcoming, the braggadacio about how the Elsberry and Shallit 2003 paper can be safely ignored seems somewhat out of place.


I posted that on August 31st. As far as I can tell, neither Salvador nor any other ID advocate has made the slightest headway in showing that I was inaccurate in either claim made above. Salvador has taken up an aggressive grandstanding technique, though I think that it is obvious to all that there is little to no substance as yet to back it up. If I were wrong on the two points above, it seems to me that it would be simplicity itself for some ID advocate to show that I was wrong, and I would have expected that to happen already. I predict that what I've written here will again disappear into the ID memory hole of inconveniently true criticisms.

If I'm wrong here, though, I'm willing both to take my lumps and acknowledge whoever it is that shows me to be wrong. I'm still waiting for the documentation. I suspect I will wait a long, long time.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Sep. 18 2004,11:31

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

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