Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


agit-prop, opinion manipulation and well-poisoning games

Darwinian Debating Device #15: Willfully distorting the ID position

One of the saddest aspects of the debates over the design inference on empirically reliable signs such as FSCO/I, is the way evolutionary materialist objectors and fellow travellers routinely insist on distorting the ID view, even after many corrections. (Kindly, note the weak argument correctives, accessible under the UD Resources Tab, which address many of these.) Indeed, the introduction to the just liked WACs is forced to remark: . . . many critics mistakenly insist that ID, in spite of its well-defined purpose, its supporting evidence, and its mathematically precise paradigms, is not really a valid scientific theory. All too often, they make this charge on the basis of the scientists’ perceived motives. We have noticed that some of these Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #13: Distorting or dismissing self-evident truths

In the Denying the truth is not the same as not knowing it thread, we see the Darwinist tendency to distort or dismiss self-evident truth (and, behind this, to deny first principles of right reason) in action. Another noteworthy DDD, no 14 by count so far. This starts in the very first comment: TT, 1: Barry, you wield self-evident truths as if they were weapons. Declaring that something is a self-evident truth does not make it so. Is it a self-evident truth that the sparkling point of light in the night sky is a star? 99% of the time (or more, I don’t really know), this extrapolation may be correct. Except when it is a plant or a galaxy. In Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device # 12: Selective Hyperskepticism, closed-mindedness (and “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”)

Perhaps the most deep-rooted Darwinist debate tactic is hyperskepticism. While I have done a briefing note on this, I like HeKS’ nice summary raised a little while back, in an Oct 9th 2014  remark that deserves to be headlined: Normal skepticism is generally equitable and a good thing. It applies a reasonably consistent demand for warrant across the board before some claim of fact or some argument is accepted. It prevents one from being credulous, but allows one to believe what is reasonable to believe once one has received a reasonable amount of supporting evidence and/or argumentation. There’s obviously some subjectivity here in terms of what one person considers to be a sufficient or reasonable amount of evidence or argumentation Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device # 8: refusing to acknowledge the reality of FSCO/I and its reliably known, characteristic cause

Let us follow an example being discussed in UD comment threads in recent days, of comparing two piles of “dirt”. (U/D, I add — on advice, a sample from ES, as a PS.) CASE A: The volcanic dome of Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills Volcano, a few miles south of where I am composing this post . . . CASE B: Another pile of “dirt” . . . Q: Is there an observable, material difference between these two piles that can allow an observer to infer as to causal source, even if s/he has not seen the causal process in action directly? A: Yes, and it is patent. A child will instantly and reliably recognise the difference, as will the most primitive Read More ›

A bottom-line issues exchange between MF and Paul Giem (et al) over prior probabilities . . . and the old “I see NO evidence” trick

In the How is ID Different thread, we can see a very significant exchange well worth headlining as it lays out what is at stake: MF, 28:  . . . Why is my prior for a Christian God effectively zero? Because I see zero evidence for it. What is the probability of something existing for which there is no evidence? I would say that it is effectively zero given the infinite range of things that might exist but for which there is no evidence. By effectively zero I mean that rationally it should be discounted as a possibility and that it is lower than any number you can give – although it is conceivable so I am reluctant to say Read More ›

HeKS strikes gold again, or, why strong evidence of design is so often stoutly resisted or dismissed

New UD contributor HeKS notes: The evidence of purposeful design [–> in the cosmos and world of life]  is overwhelming on any objective analysis, but due to Methodological Naturalism it is claimed to be merely an appearance of purposeful design, an illusion, while it is claimed that naturalistic processes are sufficient to achieve this appearance of purposeful design, though none have ever been demonstrated to be up to the task. They are claimed to be up to the task only because they are the only plausible sounding naturalistic explanations available. He goes on to add: The argument for ID is an abductive argument. An abductive argument basically takes the form: “We observe an effect, x is causally adequate to explain Read More ›

FTR: Answering ES’ po-mo antics with the semantics of “function”

In recent days, objector ES has been twisting the concept of Wickensian functionally specific information-bearing complex organisation into post-modernist deconstructionist subjectivist pretzels, in order to obfuscate the plain inductive argument at the heart of the design inference and/or explanatory filter. For example, consider these excerpts from the merry go round thread: ES, 41: . . . If a conscious observer connects some observed object to some possible desired result which can be obtained using the object in a context, then we say that the conscious observer conceives of a function for that object . . . . In science, properties of the material just are, without purpose, because everybody knows purpose is subjective. Functionality comes in when you get engineerial, Read More ›

Jeff Shallit: “Surely the right analogy is Santa Claus to Jesus Christ. Both are mythical figures . . . ” — spectacular Fail at History 101

I just now noticed the above clip by Mr Shallit, who by making such a sophomoric blunder,  thereby disqualifies himself from being taken seriously. I suggest that he spends a bit over an hour with this 101 level video: [vimeo 17960119] U/D: GeoffR gives  useful link to a Peter Williams Lecture, also: [youtube r5Ylt1pBMm8] U/D Oct 16: This video lecture by Habermas on the minimal facts issue is even more pivotal: [youtube ay_Db4RwZ_M] (For more I suggest here on, which inter alia addresses the minimal facts held to be well grounded by an absolute majority of relevant scholars to an overwhelming one regarding Jesus of Nazareth. Also, the video course here and onwards.) We need to ask serious questions about Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #1: Jeffrey Shallit Style Ad Hominem

A week or so ago, Cornelius Hunter referenced a paper by Christoph Adami titled “Information-theoretic considerations concerning the origin of life” available here. Hunter cites the NewScientist article about Adami’s paper, “Chances of first life improved by weighted dice” and highlights in particular the remarkable statement: “Christoph Adami of Michigan State University in East Lansing decided to study the origin of life purely in terms of information theory, so he could ignore the chemistry involved.” The article continues: “[Adami] assumed that molecules must exceed a certain length in order to have enough information to self-replicate. These long molecules are made from different kinds of short molecules, called monomers.  Adami calculates that if you start with an equal number of each Read More ›

Reply To An Argument Against Objective Morality: When Words Lose All Meaning

I had originally intended to post this in the comment thread to my first article here as a guest author, titled, Does It Matter What We Believe About Morality? In the end, however, it turned out to be sufficiently long and detailed that it seemed to warrant a new original post. If it’s preferred that this type of thing simply stay in the comments section then please let me know for future reference. In comment #39 for that article, Popperian made some thoughtful contributions. This is a reply to that comment, with most of his original text reproduced for reference. —————————————- Popperian, you said:   Think of it this way… Before one could actually apply any set of objective moral principles, wouldn’t this necessitate a way Read More ›


A recent post by Barry Arrington started an interesting and lively discussion about morality, whether it is objective and, if so, how it might be grounded. Barry provided the job description for a clinical ethicist and then asked how a materialist could apply for such a job in good faith, given the inability of the materialist to ground his moral and ethical views in anything more solid, objective and enduring than his own subjective opinions and the opinions of his fellow materialists. In the ensuing discussion, it seemed that many attempts were made to divert attention away from the core issue that materialism can offer no ultimate grounding for objective moral values and duties. Instead, comments were made in which Read More ›

On, the fallacy of worshiping the “short” and the “simple” . . . or, why good long copy outsells short copy

As UD regulars will know, it’s silly season here in Montserrat. As a result, I am facing the long vs short copy debate and the issue of the demand for excessive simplicity. Which, opens us up to be naive and easily misled — including when we indulge the fallacy of selective hyperskepticism. (As in: if you dismiss what is credible, it’s because you have already swallowed what isn’t.) I have therefore put up a few thoughts, and think they are relevant to the ID debate also. (As in, why is it so many are so willing to swallow short and clever but highly misleading barbed slogans such as: “Creationists in cheap tuxedos”?) In a nutshell: SHORT COPY GAINS ATTENTION BUT, Read More ›

On FSCO/I vs. Needles and Haystacks (as well as elephants in rooms)

Sometimes, the very dismissiveness of hyperskeptical objections is their undoing, as in this case from TSZ: Pesky EleP(T|H)ant Posted on June 25, 2014 by Richardthughes Over at Uncommon Descent KirosFocus repeats the same old bignum arguments as always. He seems to enjoy the ‘needle in a haystack’ metaphor, but I’d like to counter by asking how does he know he’s not searching for a needle in a needle stack? . . . What had happened, is that on June 24th, I had posted a discussion here at UD on what Functionally Specific Complex Organisation and associated Information (FSCO/I) is about, including this summary infographic: Instead of addressing what this actually does, RTH of TSZ sought to strawmannise and rhetorically dismiss Read More ›

DO’s Prediction succeeds (2 1/2 years ago): “Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism”

In a recent UD post, our Newsdesk predicted: “Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism.” This was actually fulfilled two and a half years ago, in a combox exchange at the shadow-site, TSZ. I commented on UD President BA’s post on the prediction, and wish to headline that, feeding in some multimedia elements: ________________ >>BA & News: Actually, the prediction has already happened, note this from a TSZ combox for a post there that was trying to dismiss first principles of right reason, 2 1/2 years ago: Flint on February 21, 2012 at 2:37 am said: aleta, I don’t think I quite understand what you are saying with some of the rest of your post. However, Read More ›

John Lennox responds to the God Delusion thesis, pivoting on the power of agent explanation (vs. scientism)

John Lennox is always a treat, here in a video in reply to the God Delusion thesis: [youtube Z9jHp9tzCAE] Food for thought and comment, starting with, what is a delusion and then pivoting on the power of agent explanation. What do we think, why? END