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  Topic: Meyer 2004, Published review paper in PBSW< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4928
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 26 2004,16:17   

From http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/000430.html :

Quote


Review of Meyer, Stephen C. 2004. The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.

by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry

[The views and statements expressed here are our own and not necessarily those of NCSE or its supporters.]

"Intelligent design" (ID) advocate Stephen C. Meyer has produced a "review article" that folds the various lines of "intelligent design" antievolutionary argumentation into one lump.  The article is published in the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.  We congratulate ID on finally getting an article in a peer-reviewed biology journal, a mere fifteen years after the publication of the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People, a textbook aimed at inserting ID into public schools.  It is gratifying to see the ID movement finally attempt to make their case to the only scientifically relevant group, professional biologists.  This is therefore the beginning (not the end) of the review process for ID.  Perhaps one day the scientific community will be convinced that ID is worthwhile.  Only through this route -- convincing the scientific community, a route already taken by plate tectonics, endosymbiosis, and other revolutionary scientific ideas -- can ID earn a legitimate place in textbooks.

Unfortunately, the ID movement will likely ignore the above considerations about how scientific review actually works, and instead trumpet the paper from coast to coast as proving the scientific legitimacy of ID.  Therefore, we would like to do our part in the review process by providing a preliminary evaluation of the claims made in Meyer's paper.  Given the scientific stakes, we may assume that Meyer, Program Director of the Discovery Institute.s Center for Science and Culture, the major organization promoting ID, has put forward the best case that ID has to offer.   Discouragingly, it appears that ID's best case is not very good.  We cannot review every problem with Meyer's article in this initial post, but we would like to highlight some of the most serious mistakes.  These include errors in facts and reasoning. Even more seriously, Meyer's paper omits discussion or even citation of vast amounts of directly relevant work available in the scientific literature.

[...]



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

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4928
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 28 2004,00:01   

DI posts text of Meyer 2004

Again

On August 26th, the Discovery Institute made a PDF of Stephen C. Meyer's paper available on its website. Within hours, the PDF was gone. One link brought up a blank page; the other retrieved a map of an Adobe Corp. campus.

Today, the DI is having another go at providing the content of Meyer 2004 on its website. This time, the text is in HTML format at

http://www.discovery.org/scripts....ainPage

Amazingly enough, the DI CSC did take notice of the critique on Panda's Thumb, though not so seriously as to provide a link to it. The introductory blurb assures readers that Dr. Meyer will "respond in full" to the critique. I seriously doubt that Dr. Meyer will "respond in full". After all, what went on PT was simply an abstract of a larger work in progress to provide a comprehensive critique of Meyer's paper.

For example, now that the DI has provided machine-readable text of the Meyer 2004 paper, my preliminary analysis indicates that over a third of it is taken from previously published work. That finding wasn't in the PT post, but you can be sure that it will be featured in the comprehensive critique.

Plug the following text from Meyer 2004 into a Google search:

"fossil record fails to document a large pool of species"

to see one instance of what I'm talking about.

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

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4928
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 06 2005,13:04   

ARN commentary by Mike Gene

Speaking of reaching for overarching conclusions, we have Mike Gene weighing in on the Gishlick, Matzke, and Elsberry critique with the following text:

"Mike Gene" wrote:

Quote

Can someone link to a place where Art wrote, "Hmm... a blog article by opiniated bloggers, based entirely on a couple of vague associations. Maybe we had better wait for all of the facts before we comment."


"Mike" was seeking to make an analogy between David Klinghoffer's opinion piece on a complaint by Rick Sternberg and our critique of Meyer's paper. It is a fact that Klinghoffer relied upon what Sternberg offered in his complaint and talks with Sternberg; he failed to make contact with any other party who might have offered a different view of events before publishing his opinion piece.

On the other hand, our critique quite often pointed out very specific failings in Meyer's paper. Since "Mike"s analogy folds up like a cheap umbrella in a windstorm if there is any point within the critique that is NOT "based entirely on a couple of vague associations", one may well ask what was "vague" or even "associative" about the following?

Quote

4. Meyer makes the false claim that genetic algorithms require a “target sequence” to work. Meyer cites two of his own articles as the relevant authority in this matter. However, when one examines these sources, one finds that what is cited in both of these earlier essays is a block of three paragraphs, the content of which is almost identical in the two essays. Meyer bases his denunciation of genetic algorithms as a field upon a superficial examination of two cases. While some genetic algorithm simulations for pedagogy do incorporate a “target sequence”, it is utterly false to say that all genetic algorithms do so. Meyer was in attendance at the NTSE in 1997 when one of us [WRE] brought up a genetic algorithm to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem, which was an example where no “target sequence” was available.  Whole fields of evolutionary computation are completely overlooked by Meyer. Two citations relevant to Meyer’s claims are Chellapilla and Fogel (2001) and Stanley and Miikkulainen (2002). (That Meyer overlooks Chelapilla and Fogel 2001 is even more baffling given that Dembski 2002 discussed the work.) Bibliographies for the entirely neglected fields of artificial life and genetic programming are available at these sites:

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econec/alife.html
http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~wbl/biblio/gp-bibliography.html.

A bibliography of genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks is available here.



A specific claim of Meyer's was therein rebutted on empirical, scholarly, and testimonial evidence. The evolutionary computation systems cited do exist (his fellow ID advocate discussed them), there is a large literature that Meyer had to completely ignore to make his false claim, and Meyer is known to have been present when such an example was discussed at a conference.

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

    
TimChase



Posts: 5
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 27 2005,23:49   

Quote
Perhaps one day the scientific community will be convinced that ID is worthwhile.  Only through this route -- convincing the scientific community, a route already taken by plate tectonics, endosymbiosis, and other revolutionary scientific ideas -- can ID earn a legitimate place in textbooks.


This article looks good -- but I am going to have to give it more time than I have right now.  However, I am not sure how much of a respected place Intelligent Design can earn, given the nature of the beast.  For example, in response to Behe's argument from irreducible complexity, the most important point in answering Behe (and his argument of Irreducible Complexity) is to recognize that once we declare a structure or protein to be irreducibly complex, and therefore the product of an intelligent designer, the inquiry ends, and there is no further explanation, no further attempt to understand how the thing came into being.  This is the very opposite of science, where every discovery leads to further inquiry and further discoveries.  Behe is simply dressing up the argument that "It is that way because God made it that way" in pseudoscientific language.  This is similiarly the case when ever an intelligent designer is involked (unless one is willing to admit that one's intelligent designer is something which can be studied, experimentally prodded, and scientifically categorized -- not the kind of thing an ID adherent is wont to do.)   It is thinking like that which would have left us stuck in the caves, entirely ignorant of electrons, microscopes, cells, DNA or proteins.  But at the same time, detailed, technical responses to specific points raised by Behe (such as David R. Mitchell's recent article Speculations on the evolution of 9+2 organells and the role of central pair microtubules (pdf)) have considerable value -- if for no other reason than demonstrating that evolutionary theory is alive and well.

   
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