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  Topic: Dembski's "The Design Revoluion", Critical notice...< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 27 2004,22:13   

The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

William Dembski's new book is now available at bookstores (the link above will take you to the page at Barnes and Noble).

Over on the ARN forum, Dembski called on "thoughtful critics" to let him know if he had overlooked any topics of criticism.

The index of his book doesn't help much with this task. While Richard Wein's one positive comment about Dembski's "No Free Lunch" was that it had an excellent index, the same cannot be said of "The Design Revolution". Perhaps I haven't closely scrutinized every entry, but every one I have scrutinized is a person's name. I haven't found even one entry that relates to a concept (e.g., "argument from ignorance", "specification", "flagellum").

Perhaps Dembski addresses certain criticisms without reference to the critic who raised the criticism. There are certainly critics of Dembski's arguments who are not listed in the index. It is difficult to compile a complete list, since it requires someone who knows that a certain critic has commented on Dembski's arguments and a bit of effort to confirm that the person is not listed in the index (Why, for example, is there an entry for "Thomas Aquinas" in the T's, and not "Aquinas, Thomas" in the A's? This necessitates checking a couple of different parts of the index.). Here are some of the critics who were passed over completely by Dembski:

Chiprout, Eli
Edis, Taner
Eells, Ellery
Fitelson, Branden
Kitcher, Philip
Matzke, Nick
Perakh, Mark
Pigliucci, Massimo
Ratzsch, Del
Rosenhouse, Jason
Shallit, Jeff
Shanks, Niall
Stephenson, Christopher
Tellgren, Erik
Wein, Richard
Young, Matt

It could be argued that a few of these critics made their criticisms more recently than could be expected to appear in the manuscript for this book. For others, though, that excuse obviously does not hold. Why is there no mention of Eli Chiprout's criticisms of "The Design Inference", for example? (For that matter, why is there no mention of the critiques I made in my review of "The Design Inference"?)

Other critics get an entry in the index, but very short shrift in the text. The list as I have it now is:

Schneider, Tom
Wolpert, David

I'll likely be expanding this list as I become more familiar with the text. In the cases above, Schneider is only mentioned as an "offender" in claiming that evolutionary computation yields specified complexity, and Wolpert is only mentioned as one of the mathematicians who proved "No Free Lunch" theorems rather than in regard to his very sharp criticism of Dembski's deployment of NFL concepts.

I may be adding my name to the list. Despite a fairly voluminous amount of material I've written in criticism of Dembski's arguments, Dembski has chosen to address only a part of one article that I co-authored with John Wilkins.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Feb. 27 2004,22:16

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

    
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