RSS 2.0 Feed

» Welcome Guest Log In :: Register

    
  Topic: Advantages of Theft over Toil, Discussion of the paper< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4484
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: May 25 2004,09:10   

This thread is for discussion of the paper by John Wilkins and I, "The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance" (Biology and Philosophy 16(5) (November, 2001):711-724).

The abstract:

Quote

Intelligent design theorist William Dembski has proposed an "explanatory filter" for distinguishing between events due to chance, lawful regularity or design. We show that if Dembski's filter were adopted as a scientific heuristic, some classical developments in science would not be rational, and that Dembski's assertion that the filter reliably identifies rarefied design requires ignoring the state of background knowledge. If background information changes even slightly, the filter's conclusion will vary wildly. Dembski fails to overcome Hume's objections to arguments from design.


Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 26 2004,00:04

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

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4484
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: May 25 2004,10:12   

Responding to Jerry Don Bauer

From a comment by Jerry Don Bauer at http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000191.html

Quote

This flame forum [The Panda's Thumb] is not designed to foment thought and reason. Therefore, I have posted a refutation of the paper you authored which keeps being shot my way in Bill Dembski's forum which is heavily moderated toward understanding rather than discord. I refute your paper there and it stands as refuted unless you address that refutation.

I hope you will take this discourse forward for the education of the public. The address to your paper is here:

http://www.iscid.org/ubbcgi....#000000

Thanks, I can assure you that those of us who paticipate in Bill's forum know how to debate and will treat you with the greatest of respect,


First, a couple of links.

The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance                    

This is the paper that Jerry claims to be responding to.


Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski's Complex Specified Information


This is the paper that Jerry was originally pointed to. Since Jerry often complains about a lack of math in what others put forward, one might have expected Jerry to seize the opportunity to discuss a paper that actually did address mathematics. This expectation turned out to be false.

Now, on to consideration of Jerry's ISCID posting.

The link which promises a "refutation" delivers no such thing. A refutation, to be a refutation, has to have two essential properties:

1. It must address the arguments presented in the original work.

2. It must provide valid counter-arguments to the arguments from (1).

Jerry's text does not give a refutation.

On Paley and Dembski: While Dembski differentiates his arguments from those given by Paley, Dembski nowhere that I know of states that his "explanatory filter/design inference" (EF/DI) is an "antithesis" of Paley's argument. It is perfectly reasonable to note that the EF/DI is a "reworked" variant of Paley; the differences being noted by Dembski show how it was reworked.

The context of what Jerry criticized:  

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

Dembski has proposed an "explanatory filter" (EF) which,he claims, enables us to reliably distinguish events that are due to regularities, those that are due to chance, and those that are due to design. Such a filter is needed, he believes, to determine the reason for cases like Spade's safe, the discrimination of signals by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence project (SETI) that are due to intelligent senders from those that are caused by ordinary phenomena like quasars, and most critically, whether all or some aspects of the biological world are due to accident or design. In other words, Dembski's filter is a reworking of Paley's design inference (DI) in the forensic manner of identifying the "guilty parties".

We will argue that Dembski's filter fails to achieve what it is claimed to do, and that were it to be adopted as a scientific heuristic, it would inhibit the course of science from even addressing phenomena that are not currently explicable. Further, the filter is a counsel of epistemic despair, grounded not on the inherent intractability of some classes of phenomena, but on the transient lacunae in current knowledge. Finally, we will argue that design is not the "default" explanation when all other  explanations have been exhausted, but is another form of causal regularity that may be adduced to explain the probability of an effect being high, and which depends on a set of background theories and knowledge claims about designers.



On Dembski's "universal probability bound": Dembski's discussion in The Design Inference of a "universal probability bound" followed from his discussion of "local small probability bounds".  Events of probabilities greater than 1e-150 can trigger a "design inference" in Dembski's framework when a local small probability bound is used.            

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

HP events are explained as causal regularities. If it is very likely that an event would turn out as it did, then it is explained as a regularity. IP events are events which occur frequently enough to fall within some deviation of a normal distribution, and which are sufficiently explained by being between those extremes. The rolling of a "snake eyes" in a dice game is an IP event, as is the once-in-a-million lottery win. SP events come in two flavours: specified and unspecified. Unspecified events of small probability do not call for explication. An array of stones thrown will have some pattern, but there is no need to explain exactly that pattern, unless the specifiable likelihood of a pattern is so small that its attainment calls for some account. If an array of stones spells out a pattern that welcomes travellers to Wales by British Rail, then that requires explanation; to wit, that the stones were placed there by an employee of British Rail, by design. The minuscule probability that a contextually significant message in English would occur by chance is ruled out by the specified complexity of that sentence. This Dembski calls the Law of Small Probabilities - specified events of small probability do not occur by chance.3

Spade, though not given to deep reflection, nevertheless studied statistics at the Institute of Forensic Studies, and so he wishes to be thorough. He traverses the filter step-by-step.

E: the safe door is open.            

HP? No, the door regularly remains locked without intervention, and "Fingers" did not know the combination.

IP? No, there is no significant chance that random spinning of the dial would happen on the combination. Even had "Fingers" chanced to spin the dial the right directions - an IP event - the chance is one in ten billion (1e-10) that he would have happened on the combination. The chance is effectively zero, using the Law of Small Probabilities.

SP? Yes, the event has a very small probability.

sp/SP? Yes, the prior probabilities are exactly specified in addition to being very small.

Conclusion: "Fingers" opened the safe by design, not by accident.

"Fingers" is duly charged and arraigned for burglary. He engages the renowned deep thinking lawyer, Abby Macleal, and she defends him with skill. Before we get to the courtroom scene, however, let us go back in time, over a century, to the musings of a young naturalist.



On knowledgeable users of the EF/DI: The point of our arguments concerns the level of knowledge of those attempting to use the EF/DI. "Charles" in our analogy does not have knowledge of natural selection when confronted with the facts of biogeography, and thus cannot eliminate tortoise biogeography as a regularity on that account. What is considered "explainable by natural law" by the user of the EF/DI depends critically upon the level of knowledge of the user. Jerry passes over the difference in level of knowledge that exists between the young "Charles" of our analogy and the level of knowledge of the elder Charles Darwin, author of Origin of Species. Yet this difference in level of knowledge is quite the point.

Nor do we claim that "the very confused young Charles believes he detects design", as Jerry asserts. Our point is that despite the hypothetical aid of the EF, "young Charles" irrationally (according to the EF, anyway) concludes that some as-yet-unknown regularity underlies the facts of biogeographical distribution of tortoises, and proceeds to investigate what this regularity might be. That's how "young Charles" comes to be the elder Charles Darwin that we know historically. Whereas persons who applied the EF and did believe that they detected design would not pursue such investigations, and progress on that front would stop, at least as far as credulous users of the EF were concerned.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

"Fingers" is duly charged and arraigned for burglary. He engages the renowned deep thinking lawyer,Abby Macleal, and she defends him with skill. Before we get to the courtroom scene, however, let us go back in time, over a century, to the musings of a young naturalist.

This naturalist - call him Charles - is on a voyage of discovery. He has read his Paley; indeed, he might almost have written out Paley's Evidences with perfect correctness by memory. Although he has not heard of Dembski's filter, he knows the logic: whatever cannot be accounted for by natural law or chance must be the result of design. Young Charles encounters some pattern of the distribution and form of a class of organisms - let us suppose they are tortoises - on an isolated archipelago and the nearest large continent. Each island has a unique tortoise most similar to the autochthon of the neighboring island and the island closest to the continent is most similar to that species. On the basis of the biological theories then current, he knows that there is no known process that can account for this pattern. It is so marked that one can draw a tree diagram from the continental form to the islands, and it will match a diagram showing the similarity of each form to the others.  What should Charles rationally infer from this? Let us assume for comparative purposes that Charles is in possession of the filter; he will therefore reason like this:

E: Species are distributed such that morphological distance closely matches geographic distance.

HP? No, there is no regularity that makes this distribution highly probable.

IP? No, the likelihood of such a distribution is extremely low.

SP? Yes, it is a very small probability (made even smaller as more variables are taken into account).

sp/SP? Yes, the problem is (more or less) specified.

Conclusion: The tortoises have the biogeographic distribution and formal distribution they do by design.                          

By Dembski's framework, Rational Charles should have ascribed the tortoises' situation to intelligent agency, and his subsequent research should have been directed to identifying that agency, perhaps by building balsa rafts to test the likelihood that continental sailors might have taken varieties now extinct on the continent and placed them each to an island according to some plan. An even more parsimonious explanation, and one more agreeable to the Rev. Paley's natural theology, might be that a single agent had created them in situ, along a plan of locating similar species adjacent to each other, which has the added virtue of explaining a large number of similar distributions known throughout the world, as Alfred, a later young voyager, was to note.

Unfortunately for the progress of rational science, Actual Charles is not rational in this manner. He infers that some unknown process accounts for this distribution as a regularity, instead of inferring design. He irrationally conjectures that all the variants are modified descendants of the continental species, and that the morphological and geographical trees are evidence of a family tree of species evolution; and thus the theory of common descent is born. Charles is, rightly, castigated by his friends for irrationality and lack of scientific rigor. His leap to an unknown process is unwarranted, as is his subsequent search for a mechanism to account for it. Were his ideas to be accepted, perhaps out of fashion or irreligion, science would be put back for more than a century until Dembski came along to put it right.



On the EF and abiogenesis: Jerry misrepresents our actual argument. We do not argue in the fashion that Jerry asserts:

P: There is no evidence of anything having "popped" into existence.

C: Therefore, the EF/DI cannot be employed on abiogenesis.

One will search our paper in vain for the word "popped" which Jerry put in scare quotes.

One point we make is that Dembski wrongly conflates abiogenesis and descent with modification.

Quote
Lest this seem to be a parody of Dembski's views, consider his treatment of the evolution versus creation debate and the origins of life. Dembski (wrongly) conflates the two, treating the origins of life as a test case for the validity of evolutionary theory (it isn't - even if the major groups of living organisms had separate origins, or were created by an agent, their subsequent history could and would have an explanation in terms of "undesigned" evolution).  


Jerry's uninformed speculations on what John and I must "believe" in this regard are, of course, completely unfounded.

Dembski uses abiogenesis as an example to attempt to show biologists 'evading' a design inference. We note that Dembski claims that Dawkins accepts a premise of the EF/DI that Dawkins plainly does not accept. The notion that Dawkins, Kauffman, and other biologists considering abiogenesis might, like "young Charles", suspect the existence of unknown causal regularities and prefer to investigate things on that premise rather than accept the science-stopping conclusion that it is "designed" (sensu Dembski) completely escapes Dembski. This isn't about having the suspected regularity in hand; it's about how one proceeds where knowledge is incomplete.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

By Dembski's framework, Rational Charles should have ascribed the tortoises' situation to intelligent agency, and his subsequent research should have been directed to identifying that agency, perhaps by building balsa rafts to test the likelihood that continental sailors might have taken varieties now extinct on the continent and placed them each to an island according to some plan. An even more parsimonious explanation, and one more agreeable to the Rev. Paley's natural theology, might be that a single agent had created them in situ, along a plan of locating similar species adjacent to each other, which has the added virtue of explaining a large number of similar distributions known throughout the world, as Alfred, a later young voyager, was to note.

Unfortunately for the progress of rational science, Actual Charles is not rational in this manner. He infers that some unknown process accounts for this distribution as a regularity, instead of inferring design. He irrationally conjectures that all the variants are modified descendants of the continental species, and that the morphological and geographical trees are evidence of a family tree of species evolution; and thus the theory of common descent is born. Charles is, rightly, castigated by his friends for irrationality and lack of scientific rigor. His leap to an unknown process is unwarranted, as is his subsequent search for a mechanism to account for it. Were his ideas to be accepted, perhaps out of fashion or irreligion, science would be put back for more than a century until Dembski came along to put it right.

Lest this seem to be a parody of Dembski's views, consider his treatment of the evolution versus creation debate and the origins of life. Dembski (wrongly) conflates the two, treating the origins of life as a test case for the validity of evolutionary theory (it isn't - even if the major groups of living organisms had separate origins, or were created by an agent, their subsequent history could and would have an explanation in terms of "undesigned" evolution). Creationists - the actual ones that do reject evolutionary theories in the way that Rational Charles should have in the 1830s - challenge what Dembski putatively does not, that species share common ancestors with their closest relatives and that natural selection accounts for adaptation. As an adjunct to their arguments, they also, along with Dembski, give credence to the "calculations" of the probability that prebiotic processes would spontaneously form the building blocks of life (the LIFE event), of genetic molecules, that various authors have given. Dembski discusses Stuart Kauffman's (and others') blocking of the design inference (Kauffman 1993, 1995) with the following argument:

Premise 1: LIFE has occurred.

Premise 2: LIFE is specified.

Premise 3: If LIFE is due to chance then LIFE has small probability.

Premise 4: Specified events of small probability do not occur by chance (the Law of Small Probabilities).

Premise 5: LIFE is not due to a regularity.

Premise 6: LIFE is due to regularity, chance, or design (the filter).

Conclusion: LIFE is due to design.                

Of Dawkins' arguments (Dawkins 1986: 139, 145-146) that there is a lot of "planetary years" available because there are a very large number of planets in the universe in which LIFE might have occurred and a lot of time available on each, Dembski says "...  because Dawkins never assigns an exact probability to LIFE, he never settles whether LIFE is a high probability event and thus could legitimately be attributed to a regularity" (p58, italics added). Therefore, he says, we may infer that Dawkins accepts Premise 5! But what Dawkins actually says is that the improbability of life occurring had better not exceed the probability that it arose by chance on any one of the available number of planets on which it might have done.  This sets a minimum bound to the probability of life, and Dawkins says that on (then) current knowledge, he doesn't know how probable life is. For all he knows, life is indeed due to a regularity.  Kauffman's work on the dynamics of autocatalytic polymer sets supports the notion that the upper bound to the probability of life occurring is very high indeed, and life is to be "expected" in appropriate conditions.  Dembski's comment? This is a "commitment". The implication is that it is a mere belief or act of faith on Kauffman's part. In fact, it is considerably more than that, and the real problem for origins of life researchers is not to find a possible scenario, but to decide which of a growing number of them holds the most promise, or which combination. But Dembski's filter makes it unnecessary to even try.



On "god of the gaps": Nothing can be "inserted" into the "math of the EF" for the simple reason that Dembski's EF is not mathematical, but rather is expressed as an argument in propositional logic (see TDI, chapter 2).

As to use of "god of the gaps", others have pointed out that this is a generic term for a fallacious mode of argument. Dembski's EF treats the category of "design" as a privileged category: no matter what goes before it, some unknown causal process sufficient to result in the event under consideration is always postulated. Gaps in our knowledge readily can lead the EF to conclude "design".                                  

There is a difference between the assessment of alternatives within Dembski's EF (DEF) and assessment of the state of our knowledge to determine whether the DEF is applicable. Jerry's objection conflates these two separate concerns. The DEF is only a useful tool if it allows us to apply it to an event where the exact causal history of the event is undetermined. That our knowledge of the specific causal process for an event analyzed via the DEF is incomplete is a trivial consequence of using the DEF at all; if we already knew the causal process for the event in question, we would not be using the DEF.

Dembski's EF/DI does not feature a "don't know" alternative, nor was there any guidance in TDI for determining if an event was suitable for analysis via the EF/DI. In fact, rather a lot of TDI was devoted to justification that any current state of knowledge of a scholarly community on an event was sufficient for application of various parts of the "generic chance elimination argument" that is supposedly the rigorous expression of the EF/DI. Further, the message that Dembski's 1998 "Science and Design" essay delivered was that biological knowledge at that time was fully sufficient to render judgement via the EF/DI on any complex biological phenomenon.

The first indication that Dembski was taking cognizance of this as a problem (without citation of our criticism) was the passage in No Free Lunch that too little was known about the Oklo reactors to apply the EF/DI. This understanding, however, did not appear in the technical re-working of the EF/DI in chapter 2 of NFL. Dembski has not yet developed any formal mechanism for assessment of adequacy of knowledge to apply the EF/DI in the framework that Dembski has provided.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

So,let us return now to the courtroom drama in time to hear Abby Macleal rebut prosecutor Pearl E. Mason's case. Abby calls retired Chump engineer Lachlan (Locky) Smith to the stand, and elicits from him the information that the Chump safe Spade owns has an inherent design flaw. If the tumbler is spun five times or more, centrifugal force will cause the lock to spontaneously open. Spade suddenly realizes why he got it so cheap.  "Fingers" is acquitted, and initiates civil action for mental anguish and loss of reputation. Clearly, the background information has changed the probability assignments.  At the time Spade found "Fingers" at the open safe, he was in possession of one set of background information, Bi. The probability of the event E requiring explanation led to a design inference. After Smith's testimony, a different set of background information, Bj, comes into play, and so the filter now delivers a "regularity" assignment to E. Suppose, though, that Smith had delivered yet another background set, Bk, by testifying that the model in question only actually used two of the five cylinders in the lock.  Given that there are 100 possible numbers that might match the successful open state for each cylinder, the probability of a random opening is now 1e-4, which is a much higher probability, given the number of Chumps of that model in use in the Naked City (particularly after Chump's massive sell-off of that model to clear the faulty stock).  Now the same filter delivers us a chance explanation given Bk. The point is that Dembski's filter is supposed to regulate rational explanation, especially in science, and yet it is highly sensitive to the current state of knowledge. One single difference of information can change the inference from design to regularity to chance. This goes to the claim that Dembski's explanatory filter reliably finds design.  Reliability, Dembski tells us, is the property that once an event is found to have the property of "design", no further knowledge will cause the event to be considered to have the property of "regularity" or "chance".  What the filter lacks that real-world design inferences already have is a "Don't know" decision. If we can say of a problem that it is currently intractable or there is insufficient information to give a regularity or chance explanation now, then the Filter tells us we must ascribe it to design if it is specifiable. But it can be specifiable without the knowledge required to rule out regularity or chance explanations. This is clearly a god of the gaps stance, and it can have only one purpose: to block further investigation into these problems.



On understanding Dembski's EF/DI: Jerry makes a straight-out false accusation.

Quote

Next the authors demonstrate they have little understanding of how the EF works:

"As Dembski's probabilities are Bayesian assignments made on the basis of a set of prior knowledge and default hypotheses, this seems to be a perfectly reasonable move. However, it has one glaring problem - it blocks any inferences of design, and that is too much. There are well attested cases of design in the world: we humans do things by design all the time. So an explanatory filter had better not exclude design altogether. How can it be included here? When is a design inference legitimate?"

The EF never excludes design, it only shows design. Lack of proof for a positive does not necessitate a negative. This is argumentum ad ignorantiam all over again. Its purpose is to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is designed. Yet, there can be things designed of such simplicity that the EF doesn’t detect it.


This is a complete misrepresentation. Let me add in some context, and I'll add emphasis via bold and italics.

Quote

Supposing we do insert a "don't-know" branch: where should it go? There is an ambiguity in Dembski's treatment of his argumentative framework. The Explanatory Filter is written about as if it describes a process of analysis, but Dembski's further argumentation is cast in terms of a first-order logical calculus. In a process, we would come to a "don't-know" conclusion after some evaluation of alternatives, but in a logical framework, there is no temporal dependency. We will here ignore the demands of process and concentrate on the logic. As Dembski's filter eliminates hypotheses from high probability to low probability, clearly an inability to assign a probability in the first place makes the decision the first branch point. So if, on Bi, the probability of E is undecidable, that needs to be worked out first:

Undecidable probabilities lead us to a blocking of the inference at all. No further inferences can be drawn, and no design is required to explain any event for which there is no assignment. However, even if E is decidable on Bi, that in no way licences the expectation that on Bj or Bk those probabilities will remain fixed. For example, when Dawkins wrote in 1986, the state of knowledge about prebiotic chemical reactions was sparse; the range of possible RNA codes and molecular alternatives was not properly understood. As knowledge has grown, our estimate of the probability that some ribonucleotides, or perhaps ribonucleoproteins, or even polyaminoacids, might enter into protobiotic autocatalytic cycles has become much higher. Some even think that in a geologically short time after the cooling of the earth's surface, with the right conditions (themselves now expected to be of reasonably high probabilities on earth) life is almost certain to arise. Perhaps, then, we need another branching at each decision, leading to "Don't-know-yet".
As Dembski's probabilities are Bayesian assignments made on the basis of a set of prior knowledge and default hypotheses, this seems to be a perfectly reasonable move. However, it has one glaring problem - it blocks any inferences of design, and that is too much. There are well attested cases of design in the world: we humans do things by design all the time. So an explanatory filter had better not exclude design altogether. How can it be included here?  When is a design inference legitimate?


The parts in bold are things Jerry excluded from his quote. The italics mark a clause in what Jerry quoted that makes little sense if we were critiquing Dembski's original EF here. What is being moved from and to? Jerry doesn't provide the reader with the data. The notion that we were critiquing Dembski's original EF and not our own modification of it is belied even if one simply refers to the single sentence that immediately precedes what Jerry did decide to quote for the readers.

The "lack of proof for a positive does not necessitate a negative" comment by Jerry fails to address to address any claim made by us concerning Dembski's EF. It follows from Jerry's misunderstanding of our discussion of alternative explanatory filters.

However, I will note that once again Jerry is relying upon the "universal small probability" as if it were a threshold, and it is not. Dembski's text in TDI on local small probabilities has not yet been retracted, and until that happens, there is no threshold "complexity" for "specified complexity".  

On skirnobs and toasters: In the ISCID thread, Rex Kerr has already ably addressed this point. Jerry misses the point here; we introduce "skirnob" as an item about which one does not already have a large store of background knowledge, unlike Jerry's offered example of "toasters". Being told that one has a "designed" (sensu Dembski) skirnob is completely uninformative.  This doesn't imply that a skirnob in the hand would not do whatever it is that skirnobs ordinarily do; Jerry's assertion that our argument means that one must have knowledge of a particular designer in order for a designed artifact to function is a bizarre misunderstanding of what we actually said.

The context of what Jerry criticized:

Quote
Advantages of Theft over Toil

The problem with a simple conclusion that something is designed, is its lack of informativeness. If you tell me that skirnobs are designed but nothing else about them, then how much do I actually know about skirnobs? Of a single skirnob, what can I say? Unless I already know a fair bit about the aims and intentions of skirnob designers, nothing is added to my knowledge of skirnobs by saying that it is designed. I do not know if a skirnob is a good skirnob, fulfilling the design criteria for skirnobs, or not. I do not know how typical that skirnob is of skirnobs in general, or what any of the properties of skirnobs are. I may as well say that skirnobs are "gzorply muffnordled", for all it tells me. But if I know the nature of the designer, or of the class of things the designer is a member of, then I know something about skirnobs, and I can make some inductive generalizations to the properties of other skirnobs.

The way we find out such things about designers is to observe and interact, and if we can, converse, with them. In this way we can build up a model of the capacities and dispositions of designers. Experience tells me that a modernist architect will use certain materials to certain effect. Lacking any information about modernist architects leaves me none the wiser knowing that an architect is modernist (in contrast to other architects). Once we have such knowledge of designers, though, what we can say about them is that they generate regularities of outcomes. We know, for example, what the function of the Antikythera Device, a clockwork bronze assembly found in an ancient Greek shipwreck, was because we know the kinds of organisms that made it, we know the scientific, religious and navigational interests they had, we know about gears, and we know what they knew about the apparent motions of the heavens. Hence we can infer that the Antikythera Device is an astrolabe, used for open sea navigation by the stars, or a calendrical calculator, or both (de Solla Price 1974). But suppose it was found by interstellar visitors long after humans went extinct. What would they know about it? Unless they had similar interest and needs to ourselves, or were already able to reconstruct from other contexts what human needs and interests were, for all they know it might be the extrusion of some living organism (which, in a sense, it is), just like a sand dollar. It might never occur to them to compare it to the apparent motion of the heavens from earth circa 500 BCE.

(Emphasis added - WRE)


On "therefore the designer is named Pete": I don't see any instances of this in our paper, yet Jerry insists that it, or things like it, occur throughout our paper. An instance or two quoted from the paper would suffice to show what sort of thing Jerry is talking about, if in fact Jerry is talking about something that we actually said rather than what Jerry imagines or wishes that we said.

On Jerry's original parting shot:

Quote

The rest of the paper is largely nonsensical, I'm afraid.


Jerry misspelled "unanswerable". Given my observations of Jerry's posting style, it would be out of character for him not to go on and on about examples of what he (usually erroneously) thinks is nonsense in what the person on the other side of the argument has written. It isn't a "refutation" to simply assert that something is "nonsense".

The ISCID moderator stepped in to call Jerry to task on the original parting shot, so Jerry edited his post to replace that one with this one:

Quote

The rest of the paper needs little addressing.


Trying to "refute" valid arguments would be counterproductive.

Jerry would do well to note the order of authors as well.  He refers to us as "E&W" throughout his text, but he should be saying "W&E".

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 25 2004,14:09

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

    
  1 replies since May 25 2004,09:10 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

    


Track this topic Email this topic Print this topic

[ Read the Board Rules ] | [Useful Links] | [Evolving Designs]