|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
This one's a treat: William Dembski complaining that someone else fails to use "accurate representation" and compounding that with a claim that he himself delivers "accurate representation".
Dembski's reply to WSJ article `flaws in intelligent design'
Sharon Begley's article regarding "flaws in intelligent design" misrepresents the current state of the debate.
If evolutionists really had an answer to the origin of the bacterial flagellum in purely materialistic terms (i.e., invoking only material mechanisms like natural selection and random variation), they would merely need to state the answer and intelligent design would be dead in the water. The very fact that these issues are being discussed in the Wall Street Journal indicates that the debate is far from over. For an accurate representation of the current debate about microsyringes, bacterial flagella, and irreducibly complex systems generally, see my article "Irreducible Complexity Revisited" at URL=http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.01.Irred_Compl_Revisited.pdf.]http://www.designinference.com/documen....ed.pdf.[/URL]
We can be sure that "accurate representation" was not at the top of Dembski's agenda when he described Richard Dawkins's "weasel" program as having three steps, when two of the steps provided by Dembski do not appear anywhere in Dawkins's writings. (Further, the second time Dembski did this was in "No Free Lunch", and I had already written him in email and via an email list some months before NFL was published to inform him of the problem.)
Similarly, "accurate representation" was not Dembski's concern when he sought to make a sweeping claim that evolutionary computation was inclusive of artificial neural systems.
By an evolutionary algorithm I mean any well-defined mathematical procedure that generates contingency via some chance process and then sifts it via some law-like process. The Darwinian mechanism, simulated annealing, neural nets, and genetic algorithms all fall within this broad definition of evolutionary algorithms.
Source -- WA Dembski, "CAN EVOLUTIONARY ALGORITHMS GENERATE SPECIFIED COMPLEXITY?", presentation at the "Nature of Nature" conference, Baylor University, April, 2000.]
I pointed out that this classification was quite erroneous at Classification of Artificial Neural Systems: Is Stochasticity a Reliable Diagnostic Character?
NFL was published one and a half years after my critique was put on the web. That would give anyone time to fix things, right? Wrong.
Previously, Dembski had stated that "neural nets" were instances of evolutionary algorithms; in NFL, Dembski says that "training neural nets" by evolutionary computation are instances of evolutionary algorithms. The previous claim was simply false and the new claim is based upon the fact that some people do apply evolutionary computation to the problem of training neural nets. It reduces to the claim that instances of evolutionary computation are evolutionary computation; mentioning "neural nets" at all in that context seems unlikely to do anything but lead readers to the erroneous conclusion that the original claim has not been abandoned. Such basic errors as these reduce the credibility of his claims to achieve "accurate representation".
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker