35 Replies to “Shallit’s Deposition Now Available Online

  1. 1
    Ben Z says:

    What do you make of his explanation (on pages 164-167 of his desposition) for e-mailing Ruse about the book you co-authored with him? Is it true that he just didn’t want you to keep it out for some reason? He says Ruse did it on accident and was mortified; on your page, http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/155, it sounds like Ruse did it out of ethical concern and because he thought what Shallit was asking was unethical.

  2. 2
    Ben Z says:

    The above question might be confusing. It’s two questions actually. The first one is: Is his explanation for e-mailing Ruse behind your back valid at all? The second is: Did Ruse forward his request to you on accident, or out of a concern that what Shallit was asking was unethical?

  3. 3
    harvey says:

    What’s happened to your previous blogs on Shallit’s deposition?

  4. 4
    Ben Z says:

    “What’s happened to your previous blogs on Shallit’s deposition?”

    You mean the request to have it released? I thought the same thing, but then just figured it makes sense to remove a request when it is fulfilled.

    Anyway, reading from Shallit’s desposition that you don’t respond to your [Dembski] critics–and looking at the many responses to your critics on designinference.com, had me confused too. Is he correct that you don’t respond to many criticisms? It seems to me you respond to many.

  5. 5
    Bombadill says:

    Is this who we are talking about > http://www.angelfire.com/amiga.....it-web.jpg

  6. 6

    The previous postings were a bit of street theater. I now have what I needed. As for responding to Shallit and his criticisms, I have been and continue to do so through a series of technical articles under the rubric “The Mathematical Foundations of Intelligent Design” — you can find these articles at http://www.designinference.com. The most important of these is titled “Searching Large Spaces.” Shallit has indicated to me that he does not intend to engage that body of work: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/155.

  7. 7
    John101 says:

    p.149
    Q to Shalit:
    You make the statement Dembski’s work is extensivly
    criticized in the literature, but That is not in any way impungning the validity of his theory, is it?
    Ans: I don’t think it has a yes or no answer, agian.

    P.150
    Q to Shalit: Okay, you inidicated Dembski’s work is extensivly criticized in the literature, but he rarely responds. Does that claim in any way impung the validity of his theory?
    Ans: In a logical sense, no.

    He was questioned further and said:”In a sociological sense
    Yes”. Prof. Shalit what is the difference between a logical ‘no’ and a sociological ‘yes’?
    Indeed you ‘didn’t fit well into a legal community setting’!

  8. 8
    neurode says:

    No doubt about it, Shallit got mud on his face. He was forced to admit:

    (1) that as a mathematician, Dembski is free to investigate any form of complexity he chooses;

    (2) that the one numerical error he found in Dembski’s work was all but irrelevant to the force of Dembski’s argument;

    (3) that Dembski has responded to criticism and filled gaps in his explanations;

    (4) that he is at least partially motivated by personal animosity for Dembski;

    (5) that his testimony had no relevance to the issue being tried, and that he is not an expert in any relevant field;

    (6) that although he claims expertise in the areas of “pseudoscience and pseudomathematics” (???), this has no bearing on the validity of Dembski’s work;

    (7) that even though he asked Michael Ruse to keep his correspondence secret from Dembski, he was not trying to “go behind Dembski’s back” (???);

    (8) that even while deriding others for publicly reviewing books on topics in which they lack expertise, he himself publicly reviewed at least one book on a topic in which he lacks expertise;

    et cetera.

    As far as the ACLU was concerned, his testimony would clearly have been useless for any purpose but decorating the little spools in the courthouse lavatories.

  9. 9
    jboze3131 says:

    did he ever admit that dembski IS truly a real life human who holds advanced degrees in science, considering shallit made the claim that dembski holds no advanced degrees in any scientific field?? the most obvious lie anyone could tell of someone with a website and books containing mentions of his bio/education/resume/etc

  10. 10
    dougmoran says:

    Pages 74 to 77 are missing or misplaced. Anyone know where they are?

  11. 11
    JeffK says:

    JBoze3131: Not to be difficult, but Prof. Dembski does not hold any advanced degrees in science. Mathematics is not a science. Neither are philosophy and theology. I don’t mean to impugn anyone’s degrees with these statements. It is just a fact. Unlike mathematics, science requires experimental verification and comparison to the natural world. That is not to say that mathematics isn’t invaluable to science. But that doesn’t make it science.

  12. 12
    neurode says:

    Mathematics may not be strictly scientific in the empirical sense, but methodically interpreting mathematical structures and inferences in nature most certainly is, and this is what Dembski is trying to do. To claim that one needs an advanced degree in science to actually do science amounts to confusing credentials with content. Although professional academics often use this sort of confusion to arrogate the limited resources avaliable for scientific inquiry, it is merely a convenient diversion.

  13. 13
    jboze3131 says:

    well one problem with the definition (Unlike mathematics, science requires experimental verification and comparison to the natural world)- that would make macroevolution outside of science.

    i just meant- shallits paper was mesnt to portray dembski as a fool. he went on and on about how HE is a scientist (shallit himself, tho he holds the same degree [mathematics] that dembski does), and that dembski couldnt be considered worthy of the discussion because he had no science skills. he continued with complaining that dembski hasnt trained a jr scientist and hasnt written enough peer reviews articles, which he also said made dembski unworthy of speaking on the issue.

    he was making a fool of himself, because shallit himself thought he was worthy of speaking on the subject, yet he holds fewer degrees than dembski…and shallits degree is in mathematics as is the case with dembski. somehow shallit is a scientist with his math, but dembski isnt.

    id argue that mathematics is a branch of science. depends on how you define science- i always hear that it must be observed, tested, repeated, etc. like i said, mud to man evolution isnt science with that definition…nor is the theories concerning the big bang, ancient geology (it cant be observed or tested- so is it uniform in nature or not?), etc.

  14. 14
    JeffK says:

    neurode: i agree debating someone’s credentials is simply playing with “argument from authority”. It is a distraction most of the time (unless their credentials are the subject of the debate).

    jboze3131: i was not debating Shallit’s merit. Just the truth of your statement. You said that you would argue that mathematics is a brach of science. It of course depends on your definition of science. i disagree there. It depends on the generally accepted definition of science. My opinion has very small weight relative to the generally accepted ones in matters of communication. The generally accepted definition is the body of knowledge that has been gathered throught the scientific method. And the scientific method:
    1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
    2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
    3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
    4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

    You’ll see how big bang and geology are both consistent with this definition. They observe a phenonema (expansion of galaxies) form a hypothesis (big bang) and make new predictions based on this (microwave background). New observations of this prediction (Penzias and Wilson).

    Since mathematics makes no observation of phenonema it is not scientific. This is really not meant as an attack on mathematics. i use math every moment in my lab. i love math. It is invaluable. But that does not make it science.

  15. 15
    jboze3131 says:

    as far as geology and big bang…weve no idea what past conditions were. if conditions were uniform and have always taken place at the same rate. we cannot observe these events to confirm one way or another. same with mud to man evolution- theyre all narratives of what have happened…but they dont meet the requirements you supply. sure, you can observe an expanding galaxy, but weve no idea if the universe has always been expanding, nor do we know if its been at the same rate. whos to say the universe wasnt bigger than it is now in the past, started to close in on itself, then at some unknown point started to expand.

    how do we know that geologic activity always moves at a steady pace. who knows for sure what events have taken place in the past and how uniform the regular geologic processes are. who knows if a week from now, the rate of geologic activities wont suddenly double or triple in speed?

    who says the universe wont stop expanding and start caving in on itself tomorrow?

    theres too much info we didnt observe to get to any solid amount of truth with these issues, if you ask me. for all anyone knows geologic activity could have been 10 times faster 1 million yrs ago than it is today…same for the expansion of the universe.

    and theres no way we can make any observations or tests in regards to macroevolutionary theory. of the 3 mentioned- this one is the weakest…because its a narrative based on speculation. common descent or maybe common designer- the evidence could be used to easily posit both. but, no one can really say for sure what past events took place. we can hardly tell what happened 100 yrs ago, but we arrogantly think we can travel 100 million yrs into the past and proclaim events that must have taken place? conditions that must have been in place, etc??

  16. 16
    JeffK says:

    In many ways you are correct. But, i fear, you are confusing science with truth. Science is not truth. Science does not tell us truth. You could equate science with truth if you like but that’s not a scientific position. i do not like to use the word truth (outside formal logic) becasue i have yet to read a meaningful definition of the term (again outside formal logic).

    Again let’s look at astrophysics (i limit myself to this because it is something i have experience and some expertise in). Uniformity started as a basic assumption in physics (science in general). Uniformity in space (if you do an experiment at your house it will look like the one i do here), time (my experiment yesterday looks like the one today), etc… have all been supported by thousands of observations. None of these observations are definitive. But that is the nature of scienctific inquiry. As Einstein said:

    “The theoretical oriented scientist cannot be envied, because nature, i.e. the experiment, is a relentless and not very friendly judge of his work. In the best case scenario it only says ‘maybe’ to a theory, but never ‘yes’ and in most cases ‘no’. If an experiment agrees with theory it means ‘perhaps’ for the latter. If it does not agree it means ‘no’.” http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/p.....510251.pdf

    And he is quite right. But so far the assumption of uniformity has met with no, “no”‘s. It is grandly supported. It is true that you could construct more complicated ways to explain the fact that every measurement of the speed of light being constant for 400 or so years, but uniformity works also and is much simplier so science keeps it around.

    Now you say that we can’t make any observations of this. As far as direct observations go you are correct. But indirect evidence can be found and observed. The CMBE discovered by Penzias and Wilson is an excellent example. They found microwave radiation that was almost uniform and at the same temperature as big bang theory predicted (inside big bang is the assumption of uniformity). So far no other theory has been proposed which explains expansion, CMBE, the other pieces that big bang does so it is the best scientifit theory we have.

    You also claim that it is arrogant to proclaim that we know what happened 100 My ago. There is a certain arrogance to it yes. But with that arrogance comes a very risky part. The specificity of the predictions made from these assumptions means that at any moment we run the risk of being roven wrong. Which, i can tell you, is a very humbling event that i have experienced many times. And something any real scientist must risk every day.

    p.s. Several serious scientists have proposed alternatives to uniformity with variable speed of light theories to explain inflationary models. So far none have led to experimental verification, and thus remain speculations.

  17. 17
    dougmoran says:

    Mud, or maybe a little primordial soup.

    I’ve just read the entire deposition. Now to step back – take a look at the big picture. What is Shallit really saying? What’s his real beef with ID and Dembski? That, at least it seems to me, is what this deposition is all about.

    Ego. Prof. Shallit is pissed because his ego has been damaged. He hasn’t been acknowledged enough (so he thinks) for his contributions and thus he doesn’t think his opinions are considered important enough. That ego is the riptide underlying his entire deposition. But there are other, more powerful undercurrents – one is fear. The other is malice. He’s afraid Dembski is right, and is willing to dedicate months of his own time proving it just isn’t so. But he’s frustrated because he can’t prove it, and so must resort to…. well, you know.

    I think the real stars of this deposition were Mr Thompson – for his tactical success in bringing out the undercurrents, and Dr. Dembski, whose work and theories remain, by Shallit’s admission, unscathed by pseudo-critique.

  18. 18

    JeffK your comment that mathematics is not science is a bit eccentric. Not entirely perhaps. Shallit’s Academic Department at Waterloo is the School of Computer Science in the Faculty of Mathematics. The Faculty of Science at Waterloo does not contain the Faculty of Mathematics. So Shallit is also not a scientist? This seems such a silly point of discussion. Shallit’s deposition and his other writings look like nit-picking jealousy. Some years ago when I first encountered ID I found a web site by Wesley Elsbury which was in my opinion a wierd site tracking Bill Dembski’s movements. So it is not surprising WE and JS are mates (NZ/Aus meaning).

    There seems to be a page missing in Shallit’s Oral Deposition between “19 (pages 70 to 73)” and “21 (pages (78 to 81)”. The PDF headers are consecutive as “page 20 of 53” and page “21 of 53”, so it may be the photocopyist has missed a page?

  19. 19

    In late 2006, the ID Blog host Villian Dembski committed an act of inadvertent but undeniable depravity: he published a science anthology for average readers that sold pretty well. Anthologies are often troubling for computer scientists (who likes being left out?), and many serious writers are ambivalent about popular success, but the combination of these concerns – a popular anthology – can create a near perfect storm of psychic distress.
    In the case of Dembski’s collection, modestly titled “Good Science,” the trouble came to a head in a rare double review in the April 2007 issue of Darwin Science magazine. The first review, by Mikhail Rush, the Philosopher who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Sciences, was a reasonable and amiable appraisal that said, in essence, “This book is surprisingly O.K.” The second, by the Computer Scientist Gregorian Shalltiff, was a different story – or as they might say in Lake Waterloo, a whole ‘nother pan of casserole. Shalltiff began by suggesting Dembski be locked in a Quonset hut and tortured to persuade him never again to stray from “Lutheran Church Talks” into the Realm of Science. After that, Shalltiff got mean. He claimed that Dembski “makes no demands on his audiences, none whatsoever.” He accused him of “appalling taste,” of hosting an “execrable” show, of compiling a “rotten collection,” and of having a weird speaking voice (“that treacly baritone, which occasionally releases into a high-pitched, breathless tremolo”). Not content simply to wallop Dembski, Shalltiff then turned his megaphone on every target within soapbox range, accusing the American system of being filled with “dispirited, compromised” mediocrities and asserting that “American Science is now an international joke.” Finally, he said your mama is fat.
    It was a performance to savor. According to Eugene Scott, Darwin Science’s gatekeeping editor, the response to the double review – mostly to Shalltiff’s polemic – was “enormous.” The magazine ran over a dozen letters from readers with reactions ranging from amusement (“funny and true”) to annoyance (“tired and cliché”) to double annoyance (“I need look no farther than Darwin Science magazine to find a reason for Science’s decline”). The controversy hit the Internet, and later became the focus of David Lehman’s introductory comments for “The Best American Science 2006.” As Lehman wrote, “It was as if one of the two reviews of ‘Good Science’ was in favor of civilization and one in favor of its discontents; as if one spoke with the adjudicating voice of the ego, while the other let loose with the rebellious rant of the id.”
    Whatever Freud might think of that comparison, Dembski doesn’t seem to have been too troubled by all the shouting, because “Good Science” has now been joined by a sibling anthology, “Good Science for Hard Times.” Like its predecessor, “Good Science for Hard Times” consists of Science previously read on Dembski’s public Blog and sorted into thematic sections. (apology to the NYT)

  20. 20
    JeffK says:

    RussellBelding: Of course Shallit is also not a scientist. i thought that was obvious, sorry. i really fail to see how calling mathematics not a science is eccentric. In discussions with professional scientists and mathematicians i have asked this is correct. It also is in line with the only textbook i have on hand that discusses the issue.

  21. 21
    jboze3131 says:

    i get the impression from the one paper linked here in a previous post that shallit considers himself a scientist. which is why the attack on bill claiming he had no advanced degrees in any scientific field was odd. because, im thinking shallit said he was a scientist himself, yet he holds a degree in the same field.

  22. 22
    Bombadill says:

    Mathematics is the language of science.

  23. 23
    DaveScot says:

    On page 24, Outlaw (I hope Jeffrey Outlaw Shallit doesn’t mind if I call him Outlaw) claims he’s an expert on pseudoscience and pseudomathematics. I’ve never course listings for pseudoscience and pseudomathematics at a university. I’m curious as to how one becomes a certified expert in those areas.

    Pages 74-77 are missing.

    I’m not aware of any rigorous definition of “complexity” in computer science. I think Outlaw just made that up to be contentious. pg. 83

    Outlaw doesn’t like Bill’s definition of complexity but concedes Dembski can define the term any way he wants. Wow. Is that like a permission slip? pg. 84

    pg 87 Outlaw objects to specification not being well enough defined as a pattern and offers patterns as something that can be algorithmically identified by a computer. This is just stupid. Taxonomy and paleontology, core disciplines in evolution science, are based on patterns which are not (currently) reduceble by algorithm. The pattern judgements are in fact very subjective. Yet taxonomy and paleontology are widely recognized sciences.

    ———–

    I’ll continue later.

  24. 24
    harvey says:

    BenZ – “You mean the request to have it released? I thought the same thing, but then just figured it makes sense to remove a request when it is fulfilled.”

    It still doesn’t make sense. It was more than just a request for the document and you kind of lose the history behind the whole story. It would have been better to keep the previous blogs to put it all in context.

    William Dembski – “The previous postings were a bit of street theater. I now have what I needed.”

    Street theater is entertaining, any chance of reinstating those blogs? It would be good to keep the history of it all.

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    Incredible. pg.23 Outlaw claims legal expertise in pseudoscience and pseudomathematics. On pg 102 he says he has no expertise in philsophy of science and so cannot offer a definition of science. Outlaw then says he has an “interest” in pseudoscience. Funny that a legal expert in pseudoscience can’t give an expert definition of what science is. That’s like being an expert in art forgery but you can’t define what’s authentic art.

  26. 26
    DaveScot says:

    pg 150 Outlaw says scientists are only supposed to be logical in sociological sense.

    WTF?

  27. 27
    DaveScot says:

    Wow. Thompson really set up Outlaw for a spanking beginning around pg 152 where he forces Outlaw to admit that his attacks on Dembski are irrelevant to whether or not Dembski’s hypothesis is wrong or right. Thompson makes Outlaw look like someone out for revenge using baseless personal attacks to get it. Ouch. Nobody in their right mind would have put Outlaw on the witness stand as an expert knowing that was coming.

  28. 28
    DaveScot says:

    pg 170 Outlaw, after complaining that Dembski rarely responds to critics, sends Outlaw and other critics a paper addressing their criticisms with clarifications and asks for comments on the clarification. Outlaw then responds, like a petulant child, he’ll waste no more time finding errors in Dembski’s work. Unilateral declarations of victory like Outlaw’s seldom impress anyone so it probably would be a waste for Outlaw to construct more of them.

  29. 29
    DaveScot says:

    HAHAHAHAHAAHAHA – pg 175 Outlaw says he gave Forrest’s “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” a sterling review and describes it as a work about political and sociological aspects of ID. Yet earlier in his deposition Outlaw attacks scientists who gave Dembski’s book positive reviews when said scientists weren’t experts in the field of Dembski’s work. Outlaw also admits earlier that he is not an expert in politics or sociology. So bascially Outlaw is a hypocrite according to his own sworn testimony. That’s some funny shi… er, poopy!

  30. 30
    DaveScot says:

    pg 187 where Outlaw is squeezed in the vise to answer whether all design proponents posit the designer is “God” is an excellent example in “dodge, duck, dive, and dodge”. This is getting really entertaining towards the end. Outlaw really does come off as an embarrassment for his camp. Thompson sure did a good job.

  31. 31
    DaveScot says:

    pg 198 Outlaw states that disputes in mathematics are quite rare compared to those in science because mathematics are more amenable to absolute proofs. So I guess it’s an exceedingly rare situation where two mathematicians like Dembski and Outlaw are in dispute. Spare me.

  32. 32
    DaveScot says:

    Mark Perakh of “the communists ate my homework” fame chimes in

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc.....ment-56776

    with his two cents. I’d demand a refund of my two cents if I actually had to pay for his senile tripe.

  33. 33
    Ben Z says:

    “It still doesn’t make sense. It was more than just a request for the document and you kind of lose the history behind the whole story. It would have been better to keep the previous blogs to put it all in context.”

    I don’t really recall it being too much more than a request, but I don’t remember exactly what it said. If there’s a better reason than: it would be an interesting story to entertain us all, then I might agree. For now, it seems everyone just loves to harp whenever he removes one of his posts like he is lying or something.

  34. 34
    DaveScot says:

    http://www2.ncseweb.org/kvd/ma.....ab%20O.pdf

    The missing pages are at the link above. They’re rather damning to Outlaw’s testimony that independent patterns are too fuzzy and subjective to be useful in mathematical design detection. The missing pages mention design detection methodology used in SETI, forensic science, cryptography, random number generation, and archeology. These all use independently derived patterns.

  35. 35
    hlwarren says:

    Interesting reading. I have a greater appreciation for lawyer jokes.

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