|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
I found Lee Bowman dissing the Elsberry and Shallit essay on Dembski's CSI. His rant has been out there a while, but I worked up a response to it.
Lee Bowman • 3 years ago ?
" And there you go to the heart of the problem – there are no published primary sources for ID research."
Have you checked out Bill's link to a partial list of published ID literature? It is far from complete, and the list is growing. Most of it doesn't push ID politically, but rather presents data refuting natural causation, which implies design.
" You have Behe's pop-science books (eg. Darwin's black box) pushing his idea of Irreducible Complexity. This has been refuted as a proof of a designer - you can't prove a negative - so you can't prove that any particular item *could never* have evolved. all you can say is "as yet we don't know how X could have evolved'.
Actually, you can prove a negative, by eliminating all other alternatives. That catch phrase applies more to a situation where just because you haven't seen an orbiting teapot doesn't prove that one doesn't exist. In the case of irreducible complexity for example, if it can be shown empirically or statistically that something could not self-evolve, what then are the alternatives? Intelligent input is one. Can you name others?
Now the source of that intelligent could be God, gods, surrogates to a higher authority (angelics, spirit entities), a device that can think and produce coherent and organized outcomes, a savant idiot orbiting Pluto that takes time off occasionally to tweak a genome.
" Then you have Dembski's 'specified complexity' - which tries to claim that it is possible to examine complex patterns and detect whether they were designed or not. This has also been comprehensively discredited: A study by Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit states that "Dembski's work is riddled with inconsistencies, equivocation, flawed use of mathematics, poor scholarship, and misrepresentation of others' results" "
I have never run into mathematicians who don't argue vociferously over how abstract concepts are properly interpreted mathematically. Further, have you followed court cases where attorneys equivocate non-stop by introducing convoluted logic to prove a point? "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit!" or "we found an outdated reagent bottle in the police lab, so their test results are in question ... " But hey, it worked. OJ walked.
There are of course, worse examples, but you get the point. In the Dover trial, the plaintiffs tried to get Behe to admit astrology as valid science, which he never did. Piles of books and papers that Behe had to crane his neck to look around, done solely for theatrics (no citations given to prove immunity evolved, just theatrics). The judge nodded, and the audience chuckled, a perfect parody of a for Comedy Central bit.
In the paper, they use snowflakes, crystals, fairy-rings and other natural phenomenon as examples of 'Complex Specified Information' (CSI), which they are not, by Dembski's definition. Complex sure; specified by an intelligence, hardly. Their paper uses many examples of convoluted logic, too numerous to go into here.
Put simply, Dembski states that evolutionary processes cannot produce CSI (vertebrate/invertebrate eye). Elsberry and shallit use bogus examples of complexity in nature that are produced by a natural (but in most cases designed) process to show that CSI need not be 'specified' (designer input). How many snowflakes would it take to equate to an eye, flight wings, the circulatory system, the digestive system, or best of all, the embryo process?
"A search of google scholar for Shallit or Dembski the search results show that Shallit is very well published in peer-reviewed math journals, as opposed to Dembski. Dembski responded to the study with a series of attacks on Shallit ... "
Well his "attacks on Shallit" pale in comparison with Shallit's attacks on Dembski, but DO show malicious intent with regard to his motives to discredit ID advocacy. Motive first; reason and logic tossed. But ah, he uses reason and logic to prove his assertions, you and others say. Have you read the paper? There is very little valid reasoning within. Logical soundingarguments yes, but debate using logical algorithms can produce twisted and circular logic.
Dembski blogged about their tussles here:
" ... but has not published any refutation of them."
Why bother? Dembski gives his reason here:
[Shallit's] standard tactic is to demand detailed supportive evidence for whatever you say; then, no matter how much effort you go to in this regard, he says you have failed to prove your case and need “real” supportive evidence, and hence wastes your time and exhausts you and amasses a database of your best evidence to boot. It is a common tactic that I have encountered many times before in my debates.
Please read the comments as well. Scordova wrote in part:
Regrettably, I had once actually sympathized with Elsberry and Shallit’s assessment of your work. Their papers have the power to confuse the undecided middle into thinking they have refuted your case. Their papers, until one scrutinizes them carefully, are sufficient to make one seriously doubt the strength of your claims. It was only through the process of carefully reviewing their 54 page paper that I realized, they weren’t even using your definitions, but rather replacing them with convenient re-definitions. But the thing was Bill, the packaging and the offering of equation after equation gave the veneer of a substantive take down. I can only hope more of the undecided middle will see through the veneer as I did …. "
As I stated, most of what they wrote is fluff, with over one third of it mathematical gibberish. Casey Luskin summarizes it well.
I had cause to be looking for instances where my name and Lee Bowman's appeared together, and that brought me here. Late to the party, sure, but I'll leave a contribution.
Lee is awfully quick to dismiss things that he apparently does not understand.
Let's start with the end. Lee recommends Casey Luskin as a source. Casey, though, just doesn't get it. Casey is known for having gotten time completely backwards when it came to the publication of the Elsberry and Shallit essay in Synthese. (See http://austringer.net/wp....r....rvoyant ) The fact that Casey and Lee don't understand the math does not impugn the content of the math. Beyond the "unstuck in time" thing for Casey, I listed two further points that showed Casey simply could not have read the essay for comprehension in his "response". (It was in writing and came after the essay, therefore it was a response?) When a supposed critic can't even handle basic philosophical points we made, it seems like a long-shot to surmise that "summarizes it well" is a possible *truthful* description. It is an instance of a Casey Luskin hit piece: an uncareful, uncharitable mishmash of presuppositions, confusions, and miscomprehensions.
Next up: Salvador Cordova. Here's a fellow who bragged about how he was willing to "take a grenade" for Dembski by being the guy to engage Dembski's critics. Sal doesn't appear to have met an argument he didn't like, no matter how silly. Try out this link: http://antievolution.org/aebb-ar....78.html . Sal variously tries to critique an example without taking account the difference between deterministic and non-deterministic algorithms, attempts to declare that extended discussion of the math Dembski lays out as establishing "complex specified information" somehow misses the central definition of CSI, and attempts to make points concerning "omega" within Dembski's work without understanding that it is completely determined by the context of a particular example.
William Dembski has chosen to use dismissal rather than engage the arguments. This is standard operating procedure for Dembski. His assertion that our essay is "out of date" is pretty laughable given that Dembski has never retracted the claims we addressed. The same applies to others who merely repeat the "out of date" mantra without understanding the issues.
And that brings us back to Lee Bowman. Lee makes a completely unsubstantiated claim that the arguments in our essay do not withstand scrutiny. Given that Lee puts no effort into making his point, it doesn't seem necessary to do more than note that Lee is mistaken.
Lee points to section 9.3 of our essay as being based on "bogus examples". Lee fails to note the argument we are making concerns Dembski's inconsistency in his choice of how to analyze examples. Because Dembski chooses to use either a "uniform probability" or a "causal-history" approach to examples depending on whether he wishes to accept an example as having CSI or not, it is an open question as to what CSI signifies if approached in a consistent manner. Section 9.3 points out that various natural phenomena, if measured on the same "scale" Dembski chooses to apply to examples where he knows agents were involved, would also meet the other requirements of Dembski's CSI. This point eludes Lee and various other would-be critics of our essay. And, contrary to Lee's assertion, none of the six phenomena we list are due to "designed" processes.
Lee accuses us of using "convoluted logic". Lee would be better off making the simple and humble admission that *he* failed to understand it and leave it at that.
Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Oct. 10 2013,06:42
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker