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  Topic: T. Russ getting "down and dirty", Space for TR to address essays by WRE< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4506
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 21 2005,12:01   

This thread is to provide space for "T. Russ" Hunter to make good on his promise concerning the content of essays I've written.

"T. Russ" asserted that Bill Dembski was right in a thread on PT.

Quote

Tonight I picked up “Uncommon Dissent” and read the forward.

Two months ago, upon reading Dembski’s discussion of the “Myths” and propagandistic claims which Darwinians use to sidestep the debate, I would have thought him an alarmist guilty of gross exageration. However that was before I spent time at pandasthumb.

Sadly, I have spent enough time here to see that in all truth  Dembski has you guys quite figured out.

Nothing makes me more sure that there actually is a scientific controversy and philosophical war between metaphysical naturalists and theistic realists than spending time on these web boards.

I look forward to your angry poor reasoned replies.


I took issue with that, listing off a variety of the essays I'v written. "T. Russ" thought he could wave those away, sight unseen.

Quote

Sorry Wes, you know I don’t have time for all that. Besides I was refering to the way debate is handled here at pandasthumb. I could probably find some myths and dissmive tactics in those papers but is it really worth my time? The more I hang around here the more I see how correct ol’ Thomas Kuhn was about paradigm challenge resistance. It’s kinda sickening.


Followed by my response:

Quote

Just for the record, Mr. Hunter, that was not a substantive reply.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   Sorry Wes, you know I don’t have time for all that.


If you are going to take the time to impugn people, you should budget the time to make good on the accusation. If you don’t have the time to do that, then why not give the accusation a miss?

   T. Russ. wrote:

   Besides I was refering to the way debate is handled here at pandasthumb.


You asserted that Dembski was right. Was Dembski referring to just the stuff that gets posted at PT? I don’t think so. You’ll have to do better than that.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   I could probably find some myths and dissmive tactics in those papers but is it really worth my time?


It’s all too easy to say that “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of either side. That gets you or Dembski a “Duh!” response. That “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of both sides is to be expected. The only way that “sidestepping” could be of interest is if the argumentation for one side or both consisted almost entirely of such stuff, and virtually no substantive argumentation was present.

If you are just going to abandon your claim, as it appears you are doing, then no, it is not worth your time. If you were serious about Dembski being right, it should be a cinch for you to rattle off the reasons why all of what I wrote was “sidestepping”. Or provide reasons why the residue after “sidestepping” issues should be ignored, as Dembski has pretty consistently done. If, though, those essays I identified contain substantive issues and criticisms, then obviously it will take a lot of time and effort to respond to them. But then you would have to retract your assertion that Dembski got it right, wouldn’t you? That is, if your moral compass hasn’t yet been degaussed by your close exposure to the poor moral attitudes of antievolutionists.

   T. Russ. wrote:

   The more I hang around here the more I see how correct ol’ Thomas Kuhn was about paradigm challenge resistance. It’s kinda sickening.


For every actual “paradigm shift” there are tens or hundreds of ideas that are just plain wrong. Ever looked into Dewey Larson’s alternative physics? Eventually, everyone will be privy to which sort of thing “intelligent design” conjectures are. Those of us who have examined them most closely, though, already know which bin to bet on.

I recommend “Why Intelligent Design Fails” to you again. It’s probably not worth the time to try to set it aside as “sidestepping”, either, but it should otherwise prove informative.


And then "T. Russ" again, from July 18, 2004:

Quote

Allright Wes, after tonight I won’t come back to pandasthumb until i’m ready to get down and dirty with your essays. I really don’t believe that my posts are nearly as bogus as you guys want to think but I just can’t yell as loud or as frequently as you and your colleagues can. That seems to be primarily what it comes down to. It follows the logic…


Well, for some reason, "T. Russ" is posting at PT, but I haven't seen that "down and dirty" stuff yet. Just so that there is a place for it, should "T. Russ" actually have meant what he said last year, I am opening this thread here.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Aug. 21 2005,12:02

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

    
T. Russ



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 21 2005,20:02   

I agree with you that I must post a response to the readings you gave me so very long ago. Give me a day or so and I will place a little something here. Am I suppose to critique or review your papers?

Let me first say that I have read your papers and do have a few comments to make.

And for the record, I did return to posting at PT until very recently and after I had gotten "down and dirty" with your papers. When I first left PT I did so for two reasons.

1.) I found it hard to really discuss anything with the anti-ID folks due to their very brash and sometimes abusive toungues. It wasn't that my feelings were hurt or anything like that, I only felt that "discussion" at PT was virtually impossible due to the many childish skirmishes which outbreak and end up only fit for the "bathroom wall."

2.) I had not yet read enough about ID theory or read enough criticisms of it.

Therefore, I decided that before I started mixing it up regularly with people like those at PT, It would be best to know a bit more about the subject. SO, I got "down and dirty (i regret ever using such a silly phrase, but ...oh well. :) with the literature. Now that I feel I have a better understanding of what is going on, I'm back to posting.

Check back here after a while for some comments on Elsberry's arguements.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4506
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 21 2005,20:57   

Quote

Am I suppose to critique or review your papers?


"T. Russ", there is a quite specific claim on the table. No, you are not supposed to "critique" or "review" my essays. You are supposed to either attempt to defend Dembski's assertion that ID criticism is "sidestepping", or retract your support of it. My position is that my essays have content beyond "sidestepping" that Dembski, and now you, have ignored. If you choose to attempt a defense, your job is to show that my essays are comprised of "sidestepping" without residue. My task is to show that I do, indeed, address substantive issues in my essays. It is not necessary that I should convince you, Dembski, or other ID advocates in those arguments, since that isn't a feature of Dembski's claim. His claimer is stronger than that he didn't find the arguments presented unconvincing. His claim is, in a sense, that the arguments really don't exist.

Does that make things clearer for you?

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

    
T. Russ



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 21 2005,21:59   

Yes Sir, My task is clear. I had forgotten exactly what I was supposed to do in response to your essays. I will attempt to illustrate some "sidestepping" and highlight the places in which I think that sidestepping is not a good description of your criticism. I already know from memory (i read your papers months ago, but will be re-reading them) that some of your arguments are in fact constructive. So in a sense I guess right here at the beginning I am making a sort of concession. Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I think that alot of it is. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?


PS.
Sorry for asking for a little time (a day or so) to carry out your request, but I want to re-read your arguments and then spend some time thinking about them before I compose a response. Thanks

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4506
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,00:07   

I think we'll need to work out what "sidestepping" means.

To me, that is avoidance of substantive issues while addressing meta-issues.

As T. Russ lays it out above, it sounds like if any meta-issues are addressed at any time, no matter how much effort has gone into addressing substantive issues, that "sidestepping" has occurred.

So I'm going to note that I don't agree with the latter construction of the term. My stance is that a complete response to ID advocates should proceed on as many levels and grounds as possible. That includes addressing both issues of content, and meta-issues like rhetorical style. I'm saying that I have, in essence, paid my dues by putting effort into addressing the content in order to be able to justifiably also take meta-issues into account.

As to concessions, I am still unclear as to what I am being asked to give assent.

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

    
T. Russ



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,16:58   

Well, I conceded that "Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric."  

Then commented

"I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?"

then you wondered what you were supposed to concede.

Well, first off, my query was directed at ID critics in general. You must admit that some people in their published articles, or public lectures, frequently sidestep issues by referring to over-blown, sometimes blatantly false, meta-issues, in order to avoid discussing some of the more complex or possibly dangerously convincing arguments for the ID hypothesis.

An example jumps to my mind of a Barbara Forrest lecture that I attended last year in which she never once discussed any ID arguments and thus provided zero scientific or philosophical refutations. When she put up definitions of terms like irreducible complexity and specified complexity they were her own very watered down and dare I say, straw-man versions. Instead of looking into the claims of ID theorists, she sidestepped them entirely. You see, the problem with her lecture, the "sidestepping" if you will, was that the lecture was called "What is Intelligent Design" and was meant to refute ID but in actuality never once examined or properly defined ID. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of Dr. Forrest, quoting evangelicals and fundamentalists that supported the ID movement or donated money to it, presenting poor quality or silly looking pictures of ID theorists and going to some length to make them look sound stupid, presenting of pictures of stuff like, Sun Yung Moon looking like a freaky cult leader (well he might just be that but...that wouldn't discredit an idea such as that centrioles are holistically designed to be turbines), talking about some little kid being forced to learn fundamentalist religion in her school if we didn't fight the evil IDiots, and so on and so forth.

In my opinion, she sidestepped the real issue entirely, and used her lecture to sway a largely uncritical audience about how evil and stupid ID was.

When I had conversations with students and faculty afterwards, everyone (besides members of our little IDEA Club) that I talked to had some definite ideas about ID such as, "ID is a pseudoscience." or "ID has been scientifically refuted." and the like. But when I ask them something like, "What do you think about the arguments presented by Stephen Meyer concerning the inability of the forces of chemical necessity in combination with any known naturalistic mechanism to produce the complex specified arrangement of nucleotide bases along the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA Molecule which gives proteins their specific three-dimensional shape, and therefore their function....and on and on " The response that I invariably received would go something like, "Well, uhh, I actually haven't really heard of that one, but umm, uhh, isn't Stephen Meyer uhh, just motivated by his being a Christian or umm, uhh, he obviously has misunderstood or ignored alot of scientific literature, etc."

At least among the anti-ID students and faculty here at OU, it has been really hard to find someone who will focus on an argument instead of trying to sidestep it with what may or may not be a valid meta-issue.

Before I go, I will reiterate my concession that in your work Dr. Elsberry, you do take up some actual arguments given by ID theorists and provide some thoughtful and non-side-stepping criticisms.

Here in a while I will post my review of your work and attempt to illustrate why I would concede this point. I will also note where you might be committing some errors or evasions in your critique of Dembski's work.

I hope that nobody holds my opinion in very high regard and is expecting me to produce any sort of demolition of Elsberry's criticism. I am just going to asses his papers along the lines which I have been ask to asses them.
.

  
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,17:24   

I'm not sure if this should be a wess and russ only thread.  if so, please feel free to remove my comments.

"...and was meant to refute ID but in actuality never once examined or properly defined ID."

speaking of which, I have yet to see ANYONE define what the actual scientific theory of ID is either, ID supporter or not.  It isn't defined on the DI site, Dembski has never actually defined it, nor Johnson...

can you?  I'm willing to listen to your or any published references to an actual scientific theory of ID if you can provide one.  

Do remember the qualifier of scientific, tho.

  
T. Russ



Posts: 6
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,18:23   

From ISCID.org

Intelligent Design

"Intelligent design is the theory that the directed organization of living things cannot be accounted for by purely blind natural forces but also requires intelligent agency for its proper explanation.

Design is A four-part process by which a designer forms a designed object: (1) A designer conceives a purpose or goal. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) The designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. What emerges is a designed object, and the designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.



Intelligent design needs to be distinguished from apparent design and optimal design. Apparent design looks designed but actually isn’t. Optimal design is perfect design. The adjective “intelligent” in front of “design” stresses that the design in question is actual, but makes no assumption about the optimality of design.

The two most prominent intelligent design theorists are William Dembski and Michael Behe. Dembski has developed a rigorous mathematical method using the criterion of specified complexity for inferring design. Behe's major contribution has been the notion of irreducible complexity and the hurdle that irreducibly complex systems pose for Darwinian evolution."

I agree with some who have stated that this definition is lacking some important details. I hope to one day contribute to filling them in.

  
T. Russ



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,19:42   

And...

Stephen Meyer on wether ID is scientific in a recent interview with nightline reporters

"

M: Do you feel you have to justify the theory as a scientific theory? Is intelligent design a scientific theory?

SM: Well, we think it is. We think it is based on scientific evidence. What scientists have been finding over the past 30 years is this incredible world of nanotechnology – you have turbines and sliding clamps and miniature motors and actually rotary engines inside the cell. You have complex circuits, and the most important or impressive thing to me is the reams of digital code that you find inscribed along the backbone of the DNA molecule. And for us this is an extremely important discovery, because we know from experience that information always arises from an intelligent source. Bill Gates has said that DNA is like a software program; Richard Dawkins has said that it’s like machine code, and we know from experience that programs arise from programmers, and we know from experience that information always arises from an intelligence. So when we find information in the living cell, it is a very natural inference to think that an intelligence played a role in the origin of that information. So we justify the theory of intelligent design by reference to the evidence that has been discovered in the cell of this immense complexity, of the discovery of this nanotechnology, and by what we know about what it takes to build that kind of sophisticated information and nanotechnology, namely intelligence.

"
Full interview at the DI's website.

  
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,20:55   

then why does the DI feel it isn't ready to be taught in schools yet?

why did Johsnon himself say there is no scientific theory?

just because someone "thinks" they have a scientific theory does not make it so.

do you actually understand what is involved in creating a scientific theory?  does ID in your mind meet all the criteria, if you do know them?  How so?

nothing you have presented here actually indicates a scientific theory of any kind.  you mereley present a description and opinion of events, not based on even independent observation, with no testable predictions.

none of the 4 part process of "design" is testable, is it?

As i mentioned, you really can't argue these points if you don't understand what a theory represents to begin with.

I'll go ahead and please Lenny by asking him, yet again, to post the list of what constitutes the elements of a scientific theory.  Then, if you would, please show me how what you have presented as an answer to my question fits the standard definition of a scientific theory.

If you choose not to wait, here is a nice little powerpoint presentation that will fill you in on the basics:

http://www.cofc.edu/~delliss/Biol101Page/Bio101ppt/NatureOfScience.ppt

Moreover, aside from the fact that the evidence you present in the form of meyer is laughable - (he relies on Bill Gates as source material??). None of that relates to a testable theory.

perhaps you should actually examine the statements of those who supposedly "lead" the ID movement, who don't think ID is "ready" to be taught yet?  why do you think they said that?

I think you need to be much more analytical in your examination of ID, as even you recognized the immediate gaping holes.  Especially if you think to actually " one day contribute to filling them in."

look, the reason i even bothered to post this is that i am hoping you can see the difference between the process real scientists follow in order to produce and test a theory, vs. the bizarre nature of the poltical/social experiment that those behind ID are performing.

you must learn for yourself that there is NO science here.  no evidence, no theory, no testable predictions...  

you might try asking a science teacher like Ed Darrel to refer you to some good basic texts you can peruse that will elucidate standard scientific method for you.

Science is just a set of tools that has been shown over hundreds of years of success to be the best way to approach the practical exploration of our world, nothing more.  the current attacks on science and evolutionary theory have NOTHING to do with any flaws in science or evolutionary theory, and everything to do with the sociology of politics and control.

acceptance of ID is like shooting yourself in the foot.  It's like taking your car to a shaman to be repaired instead of a car mechanic...

I could understand the appeal of the shaman... if it wasn't obvious that a car mechanic could do a far better job asessing your car's difficulties and fixing them.

realizing that a car mechanic is better at fixing cars says nothing about the value of the shaman in spiritual matters, tho.  just as science says nothing about the value of religious faith in general.

  
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,21:07   

again, just for clarity, i won't take offense of any kind if you wish to remove comments extraneous to the thread's intended topic, Wes.  I just felt it important to point out the necessity of understanding what a scientific theory actually is, before any meaningful discussion could proceed.

  
T. Russ



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,21:16   

Sir ToeJam,

Right now I am busy typing up some thoghts on Dr. Elsberry's papers. Let's open this up on another thread at a later time. I want to read up on theory and attempt an answer for you. The Meyer quote and the Defnitions from ISCID were in response to your question, "any published references to an actual scientific theory of ID if you can provide one." And remember that I agreed with you that some serious filling in and expansion to this area needed to occur.

However, Right now your question (which I find more immediately interesting) is distracting me from Wes's Theft over Toll paper.

What I probably ought to do is stop hitting the refresh button on this window. :)

  
sir_toejam



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 22 2005,21:30   

agreed.  I'll catch up with you in some other thread on PT.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 24 2005,06:38   

Quote
"Intelligent design is the theory that the directed organization of living things cannot be accounted for by purely blind natural forces but also requires intelligent agency for its proper explanation.
i.e. "intelligent design" is the "theory" that another theory is wrong, or incomplete. "Intelligent agency", without identifying it, without proposing how it works, without making predictions based on it, is hardly a "proper explanation" for anything. More of a not-very-effective fig leaf for the entirely negative content of ID (hence the willingness of the DI to substitute "teach the controversy" for "intelligent design": six vs. half-a-dozen.)

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 24 2005,09:54   

Quote
So in a sense I guess right here at the beginning I am making a sort of concession. Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I think that alot of it is. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?
In other words, "OK, I admit that what I wrote was kind of, in a sense, technically, completely wrong. Now it's only common courtesy for you to admit that you were wrong, too, in calling me on it "

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
t_s



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(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 24 2005,20:52   

T. Russ wrote:  So in a sense I guess right here at the beginning I am making a sort of concession. Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I think that alot of it is. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?

Russell wrote:  In other words, "OK, I admit that what I wrote was kind of, in a sense, technically, completely wrong. Now it's only common courtesy for you to admit that you were wrong, too, in calling me on it "

Wes said right up front:

"It’s all too easy to say that “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of either side. That gets you or Dembski a “Duh!” response. That “sidestepping” exists in the argumentation of both sides is to be expected."

But now T. Russ wants a concession that "alot of it is".  First, most of it isn't, and secondly, such silly social games have nothing to do with the substance of ID.  In fact, they are a way to sidestep serious discussion of the issues, which has been T. Russ' strategy from the getgo.

  
Bob Maurus



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 24 2005,02:39   

On 22 Aug at 0259, T.Russ said, "So in a sense I guess right here at the beginning I am making a sort of concession. Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I think that alot of it is. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?"

Subsequently he referenced that statement this way - "Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?"

Does that qualify as sidestepping his own point, or just qoute-mining himself?

  
cogzoid



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(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 26 2005,10:35   

I think T. Russ should be commended.  In the nature of these arguments it is very difficult for people to admit to an overstatement, much less concession of a point.  Give the guy a break.  You don't want to scare away a serious debater (which he appears to be) by pounding him relentlessly after he, in some way, admitted to being wrong.

The only people that are immune to constant abuse are the evopeaches out there.

  
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