Intelligent Design

Coffee’s here!!: The Wikipedians – “a bunch of egocentric introverts”?

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Perish the thought. People who say such things had better roll their own party sandwiches, right?

Yet Asher Moses for The Age (July 8, 2009) advises,

a study by Israeli psychology researchers found “the prosocial behaviour apparent in Wikipedia is primarily connected to egocentric motives … which are not associated with high levels of agreeableness”.

The study, published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behaviour, gave personality tests to 69 active members of the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit and 70 non-Wikipedians, finding the former “feel more comfortable expressing themselves on the net than they do offline”.

The researchers’ findings that Wikipedians were introverted, disagreeable and closed to new ideas is at odds with the notion that Wikipedia was built around community and knowledge sharing.

Feather, please. I can’t be expected to do my pro-gravity trick without the familiar prop.

The rest of the article goes on to provide details and to vindicate Australian Wikipedians as less messed in the head than others, and we must hope it is so.

Of course, anyone familiar with the intelligent design controversy will be well aware of the waste of time associated with trying to get reasonably neutral information posted.

To me, the scandal is not that the trolls are running the ‘pedia, but that profs actually send their students there for information.

48 Replies to “Coffee’s here!!: The Wikipedians – “a bunch of egocentric introverts”?

  1. 1
    dbthomas says:

    Hey, Denyse: the full paper is freely available here.

    It’s conclusions aren’t quite what you (and the article you’ve relied upon, which also didn’t bother to read the paper, apparently) think they are:

    It may be that the prosocial behavior apparent in Wikipedia is primarily connected to egocentric motives, such as personal expression, raising self-confidence, and group identification, motives which are not associated with high levels of agreeableness. Another interesting result was the significant difference found between Wikipedia members and non-Wikipedia members in the openness trait. Again, this may reflect the fact that contributing to Wikpedia serves mainly egocentric motives.

    Notice that “may”? That means they are speculating as to potential, as opposed to confirmed, explanations, as they make quite clear:

    We suggest that future studies should address two different issues: (a) Research toward a better understanding of the personality traits of Wikipedians and their motivations; and (b) research into other virtual communities whose focus is prosocial behavior.

    The study was in fact testing entirely different hypotheses:

    Our first hypothesis is about the “Real Me” variance. We hypothesized that Wikipedia members are more likely to find their “Real Me” on the Internet, as compared with the other participants and will, therefore, score higher on that measure than the control group. Our second hypothesis was that Wikipedia members will score lower in the extroversion measure. Based on the connection found between introversion and Internet usage, we hypothesized that the net would produce contrary results. No hypothesis was made for the remaining Big Five dimensions.

    Only the first was claimed to have been confirmed by the results.

    BTW, what does this have to do with ID anyway? Seems an odd place to file it. Care to elaborate?

  2. 2
    dbthomas says:

    That should read “fully confirmed”, as the second was partially confirmed.

  3. 3
    CannuckianYankee says:

    DBT,

    “what does this have to do with ID anyway?”

    O’Leary states,

    “Of course, anyone familiar with the intelligent design controversy will be well aware of the waste of time associated with trying to get reasonably neutral information posted.”

    As an example of this bias, if you look up Intelligent Design in Wikipedia, the first sentence states,

    “Intelligent design is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design

    Calling ID an assertion is hardly a neutral position. I think O’Leary’s observation is therefore justified.

    Here are some other inaccuracies in the article:

    “It is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, but one which avoids specifying the nature or identity of the designer”

    ID is not a teleological argument for the existence of God. The evidence ID looks at implies the existence of God, but that does not make ID a teleological argument.

    “The idea was developed by a group of American creationists who reformulated their argument in the creation-evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings that prohibit the teaching of creationism as science.”

    Wrong again. Failure to define what is meant by “creationist” confuses the issue. The courts specifically prohibited the teaching of “scientific creationism,” and as such, none of the developers of ID fit in that category.

    “Advocates of intelligent design argue that it is a scientific theory,[11] and seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations.”

    Another misconception. ID proponents are not appealing to “supernatural” explanations, because nobody is really defining what is meant by “supernatural.”

    “The unequivocal consensus in the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science.”

    An article that doesn’t have a particular bias against ID would not appeal to an “unequivocal consensus.”

    “The concept of intelligent design originated in response to the 1987 United States Supreme Court Edwards v. Aguillard ruling involving separation of church and state.”

    Wrong again – ID started before that.

    Now compare what Wikipedia says about ID, and what another online encyclopedia – Conservapedia says about ID:

    “The central idea of Intelligent Design theory is that design is empirically detectable, just as the detectability of design in man-made objects is straightforward, non-controversial, and often intuitive; see design detection. With respect to the origin and development of cosmological and biological systems, Intelligent Design theory holds that the same principles provide a logical inference of design in nature. That is, without necessarily “proving” actual intelligent design in nature, the observable material evidence provides a reasonable basis from which to infer design, and such an inference supports a legitimate scientific hypothesis of intelligent design. As such, Intelligent Design theory is a scientific disagreement with the core claim of materialistic theories of evolution such as chemical and Darwinian evolution [1] that the design exhibited in our universe is merely apparent design, i.e., unintelligent design caused by unguided, purposeless, natural forces of physics and chemistry alone.[2]

    In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection…”

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Intelligent_design

    In-short, Conservapedia right off the bat, tells us exactly what Intelligent Design actually is, rather than a misguided extrapolation of what detractors of intelligent design think it is.

    So, what does this thread have to do with ID? Pretty much everything. If people are being fed misconceptions about ID, how can they ever hope to understand it?

  4. 4
    CannuckianYankee says:

    BTW,

    For an excellent summation of the origins of ID, go here:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/T.....Design.pdf

    Witt states,

    “By now even this brief survey has brought certain facts sharply into focus. Although its roots stretch back to Plato, the modern intelligent design movement sprang from fresh discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology. It’s older than Edwards vs. Aguillard and much bigger than current battles over science education.

    Some opponents of intelligent design, however, aren’t interested in debating the evidence. They prefer to pretend that the intellectual work of scientists like Dean Kenyon revolve around Edwards vs. Aguillard. The theory of intelligent design owes much to law, but the laws it concerns itself with are the laws of nature. The second half of the 20th century revealed that they are exquisitely fine-tuned for life. It also revealed that while life needs a finely tuned set of physical constants, it apparently also needs something that only intelligence can provide—information. Critics of intelligent design could do with more of it.”

  5. 5
    DATCG says:

    “Notice that “may”? That means they are speculating as to potential, as opposed to confirmed, explanations, as they make quite clear:”

    Gosh, you suddenly sound like a skeptic reading evolutionist story-telling historical research books and published records.

    The list of “may” “probably” Might-be” is endless, yet Darwinist and militant atheist claim that macro-evolution is a fact. Hmmmmm…

  6. 6
    dbthomas says:

    CY: Sure, but the research she cites, and which is the primary subject of her post, is not evidence for her argument about Wikipedia.

  7. 7
    dbthomas says:

    DATCG:

    Gosh, you suddenly sound like a skeptic reading evolutionist story-telling historical research books and published records.

    The list of “may” “probably” Might-be” is endless, yet Darwinist and militant atheist claim that macro-evolution is a fact. Hmmmmm…

    What relation does this have to misreporting the results of psych papers which can be easily found, for free, via a Google search? In fact, I’m not even entirely sure what it’s supposed to mean.

  8. 8
    sparc says:

    CannuckianYankee

    Wrong again – ID started before that.

    Indeed, about 6K BC, on a Monday morning.

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee says:

    DBT

    “CY: Sure, but the research she cites, and which is the primary subject of her post, is not evidence for her argument about Wikipedia.”

    OK, well, you have to admit that O’Leary provoked an interesting discussion – regardless of the merits of some of those conclusions. We can refine these ideas as we see fit, and according to more thorough research. I don’t think O’Leary is making an argument about Wikipedia other than her observation of its biases – while trying to figure out where those biases come from. The article she cited perhaps does not provide us with a difinitive explanation for those biases, but it’s at least a place to start.

    It warrants further investigation and discussion.

  10. 10
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Wikipedia’s “evolution” of ID:

    From 2001:

    “A theory of evolution asserting that the appearance of new species in the fossil record are authentic. According to Intelligent Design, God created each new species right around the time they first appeared in the fossil record.

    “Intelligent Design should be distinguished from Sudden Creationism, the religious doctrine that God created all forms of life in an extremely short period of time. Many adherents of Sudden Creationism reject the idea that fossils provide a record of evolutionary activity.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....did=259782

    Later the same day:

    “A theory of evolution asserting that God guided the process of evolution.

    Intelligent Design (ID) agrees with Darwinism that fossils provide scientists with a useful tool to date the appearance and extinction of new species. According to ID, God created each new species right around the time they first appeared in the fossil record. The acceptance of the fossil record distinguishes ID from other Creationist theories such as Sudden Creationism.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....did=259787

    The next day after several other revisions:

    “Intelligent design is a theory of evolution which asserts that God guided and continues to guide the process of evolution, on the grounds that some differences between species are too complex to have come about without having been designed.

    The scientific view of evolution is based on two premises. Variations occur in the genetic makeup of organisms, and through the process of Natural selection, the most fit of those variations survive while the others die out.

    Intelligent Design accepts much of the scientific theory, but differs in one crucial aspect — the role of God in causing the variations.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....did=259811

    About a year later:

    “Advocates of intelligent design argue that the biological evidence presents serious problems for macroevolution. For example, all the major types of animals appeared at the same time in the fossil record, with no evidence of common ancestry–a pattern inconsistent with Darwin’s theory.

    They also argued that complex organs that cannot function without all their parts provide evidence for a cause having intelligence. Usually, this intelligence is attributed to God.

    This may be considered an outgrowth of the concept that some biological developments are too complex to have come about without having been designed–this latter concept is known as Irreducible complexity, and the related

    argument from design.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....did=259949

    From July, 2002:

    “Intelligent design (ID) is a set of beliefs which state that life is the product of an intelligent designer. ID is in direct opposition to the Darwin’s theory of evolution and most modern ideas and theories or life and its evolution.

    Proponents of ID claim that it is different from creationism, because ID neither begins with the faith that God exists or that God did create the world and living things. Rather ID proponents argue that the various forms of life show signs of having been created.

    Opponents of ID tend to dismiss ID’s claim of differentiation from creationism, seeing it as a way of dressing up religious claims in scientific guise. Some opponents of ID say it serves primarily as a big tent under which to rally all sorts of creationists; the godfather of the ID movement, the UC Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson (now emeritus), is quoted as saying that issues such as the age of the earth can be taken up once the common enemy of evolution has been done away with.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....ldid=58625

    August, 2003:

    “Intelligent design (ID) is the name for the traditional Biblical religious belief that the universe, life and specifically man, has been created by an “intelligent designer”, namely “God”. Advocates of intelligent design are generally fundamentalist Christians. Advocates of intelligent design take great care never to name God as the designer.

    Intelligent design is a form creationism; it is vigorously opposed by the mainstream of scientific thought, which overwhelmingly accepts that biological evolution is a well-established fact. (See also natural selection.)

    Intelligent Design rejects the basis of of evolutionary theory, and rejects the idea of macro evolution. Advocates of ID, however, do accept that microevolution does occur.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....id=1242196

    From September, 2004:

    “Intelligent design (ID) is the phrase coined for the argument that life and living things show signs of having been designed by an intelligent agent, and that therefore abiogenesis must be a false hypothesis. Specifically, the conjecture focuses on the ‘what’ of the origin of life on Earth, i.e. saying that it is not possible for ‘non-living’ matter to become ‘living’ matter (with the level of organization that is observed today) without intervention, and that life itself shows signs of design. The ‘Who, why, when, where and how’ are theoretically excluded from the debate, although the idea is more often than not identified with religious arguments, with inevitable extension into those other domains. Religious proponents of ID use the argument from design to argue for the existence of a god, usually – in the context of Christianity – God.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....id=6019551

    From November, 2004:

    “Intelligent design (ID) (ID) encompasses a number of theories arguing that life shows signs of being created by an “Intelligent Designer” rather than through the process of evolution by means of natural selection. Intelligent design makes no claim as to the identity of the designer, however. As such, Intelligent Design arguments support belief in the creation of life on Earth by God, by some other intelligent agent that is not God, or by panspermia, the idea that life originated from organic molecules in space.

    Intelligent design remains a fringe movement among the mainstream scientific community, and the vast majority of scientists consider it to be pseudoscience, and a masked attempt to bring religion back into scientific discourse.”

    November of 2004 seems to have been a very contentious month for ID on Wikipedia, as there are over 4 pages of links to updates of the article.

    I especially like the following from April, 2005:

    “Intelligent design (ID) describes a controversial set of arguments which assert that empirical evidence supports the conclusion that life on Earth was deliberately designed by one or more intelligent agents. ID advocates also argue that the standard scientific model of evolution by natural selection is insufficient to explain the origin, complexity, and diversity of life.

    Claimed by its advocates to expose the limitations of scientific orthodoxy and of the secular philosophy of naturalism, the well-organized ID movement has attracted considerable press attention and pockets of public support, especially among Christian fundamentalists in the US. These supporters embrace ID as an alternative to and critique of orthodox science, and many advocate that ID should be offered alongside he standard scientific models in public school curricula.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....d=11836604

    Notice: “These supporters embrace ID as an alternative to and critique of orthodox science…” Orthodox science? Really?

    OK, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Releived? The point being, that Wikipedia never does get ID right. If this is the case with most of their articles, I begin to wonder if Wikipedia is a good source of any information. I do think the current article is the least accurate of all the articles I linked above. So the evolution of articles on Wikipedia does not always lead to more accuracy.

    OTH, I do think that they do a fairly good job with benign subjects, such as geography and some history.

  11. 11
    Diffaxial says:

    Although I have no stake in Wikipedia’s credibility one way or another, it is should be noted that this paper is worthless exercise that would earn a failing grade in a freshman psychology class. Its fatal methodological flaws (e.g. self-selection of subjects via the internet) render any inferences from their subjects to larger populations utterly invalid.

    UD contributors and sympathetic commenters often assert they are concerned with science. A good start would be the application of some discrimination regarding scientific inferences. Citing this paper as indicative of anything isn’t a good start.

  12. 12
    O'Leary says:

    Some seem to have missed the fact that the hedder is Coffee’s Here!

    Those are not intended as serious moments, whether or not your views are well ground.

  13. 13
    PaulBurnett says:

    CannuckianYankee (#3) wrote: “Now compare what Wikipedia says about ID, and what another online encyclopedia – Conservapedia says…

    Unlike Wikipedia, the majority of Conservapedia articles appear to have been written by a high school sophomore in a hurry. Citing Conservapedia on any given topic is advocating a much lower standard of scholarship than citing Wikipedia.

    (My favorite Conservapedia articles include the utterly non-scientific “Baraminology” and the “Origins – Creation science and Creationism” section of the “Kangaroo” article. Conservapedia supports creationism far more strongly than it supports intelligent design.)

  14. 14
    Anthony09 says:

    It’s pretty clear that O’Leary’s motivation in this thread is similar to Mario Lopez’s motivation in his Nazi thread: to attempt to refute people’s ideas with attacks on their characters. Lopez (or at least the commentators in the thread) hope that by associating Darwin with Nazism or by calling Darwin a racist you will somehow conclude that the theory that Darwin originated is therefore wrong. O’Leary is miffed that wikipedia (rightfully) calls ID what it is: the new form of creationist pseudoscience. She therefore ad homs wikipedia editors, calling them introverted, disagreeable, and closed-minded, with the hope that readers will conclude that what they say about ID must therefore somehow be wrong. It should be apparent what logical fallacies both of these threads commit. At least O’Leary, when called on the speciousness of her comments, was wily enough to have protected herself: “I was just joking!”

  15. 15
    spark300c says:

    I found pass Wikipedia articles on I.D. funny. They never seem to get quite right. the biggest question do these poeple write what they understand off an argument for I.D.. Do these editors ever go to book to get it right and then tell have ever one feels about it.

  16. 16
    dbthomas says:

    spark300c, did you consider looking at:

    a. The talk page

    and:

    b. The list of works cited

    ?

  17. 17
    CannuckianYankee says:

    PaulBurnett,

    “Unlike Wikipedia, the majority of Conservapedia articles appear to have been written by a high school sophomore in a hurry. Citing Conservapedia on any given topic is advocating a much lower standard of scholarship than citing Wikipedia.”

    My intention in citing Conservapedia was to show that they got ID right, while Wikipedia is constantly revising their article on ID, and never quite getting it right. Their’s appears as more of a political ideologue’s impression of ID rather than what ID actually is. I’m really not in favor of any of these online encyclopedias, where pretty much anybody can insert their ideas. And as far as finding good information? Forget it. Sadly, a lot of people rely on them.

  18. 18
    CannuckianYankee says:

    BTW PaulBurnett,

    I never use Conservapedia. I use Wiki often, but for info on more benign subjects – such as music history and literature, etc. Conservapedia simply does not have the vast data base that Wiki has.

  19. 19
    vjtorley says:

    I use Wikipedia often myself, for the very simple reason that it contains a mountain of useful information, available at the touch of a button. Obviously, Conservapedia doesn’t hold a candle to Wikipedia, although it does have a few thought-provoking articles.

    It would be unwise to read too much into the psychological study of Wikipedia contributors cited in the report in The Age, given the study’s modest conclusions and methodological limitations.

    Far more disturbing, however, is the following extract from the report in The Age:

    The researchers’ findings that Wikipedians were introverted, disagreeable and closed to new ideas is at odds with the notion that Wikipedia was built around community and knowledge sharing.

    This was partly confirmed by Australian Wikipedia admin Andrew, who doesn’t want his surname published but goes by the online handle Orderinchaos. He said many discussions between moderators about the site’s policies resulted in “intractably opposed contributors, many with vested interests, slugging it out to the death”.

    But Daniel Bryant, one of the most senior Wikipedia administrators in Australia, noted the study only surveyed Israeli users and said the Australian Wikipedia community had a different culture from other national groups. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    I am not questioning the contributors’ intelligence or breadth of knowledge. What worries me is their apparent lack of openness to radically new ideas which threaten to overturn the scientific status quo – as shown by their inability to come to grips with, or even agree on a satisfactory definition of, intelligent design. In that sense, Wikipedia might be described as the real Conservapedia on the Web.

    One does not need to suppose that any conspiracy is going on here. The real cause of Wikipedia’s resistance to radical ideas might simply be that its board of moderators has grown too big, and that institutional inertia has set in.

  20. 20
    nicholas.steno says:

    Some seem to have missed the fact that the hedder is Coffee’s Here!

    Those are not intended as serious moments, whether or not your views are well ground.

    indeed. the humorless cads protesting the methods or conclusions of this paper are not adding anything to your insightful analysis, Ms O’Leary.

    I would be interested to know how many of these wikipedia editors are darwinists and how many find it acceptable to squelch opposing viewpoints from other editors as we often see from the darwinist side.

    My view is that the truth cannot be stopped, just like ID is a growing movement also the liberal stranglehold on wikipedia will be broken by the keen and growing competition from conservapedia.

  21. 21
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Me:”Wrong again – ID started before that.”

    Sparc: “Indeed, about 6K BC, on a Monday morning.”

    Not quite, Johnathan Witt remarks that the beginnings of the Design arguments in biology can be traced to the 1950s and further into the 1970s with the discovery of the double helix in the DNA – and then more explicitly with Michael Polanyi in the 1960s; “machines are irreducible to physics and chemistry” and… “mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.”

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/T.....Design.pdf

    Witt states: “Polanyi’s work also influenced the seminal 1984 book The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Charles Thaxton (Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, Iowa State University), Walter Bradley (Ph.D., Materials Science, University of Texas, Austin), and Roger Olsen (Ph.D., Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines). Thaxton and his co-authors argued that matter and energy can accomplish only so much by themselves, and that some things can only “be accomplished through what Michael Polanyi has called ‘a profoundly informative intervention.’”

    Polanyi’s irreducible mechanistic structures inspired Dr. Michael Behe’s “irreducible complexity.”

  22. 22
    sparc says:

    To my best knowledge I am in no way related to spark300c.

  23. 23
    CannuckianYankee says:

    VJtroley,

    “I am not questioning the contributors’ intelligence or breadth of knowledge. What worries me is their apparent lack of openness to radically new ideas which threaten to overturn the scientific status quo – as shown by their inability to come to grips with, or even agree on a satisfactory definition of, intelligent design. In that sense, Wikipedia might be described as the real Conservapedia on the Web.”

    Indeed. I tested this dynamic by looking up another much older controversial subject, astrology.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology

    The article was rather benign, and quite informative. It seems that ID is taken to the slaughter compared to an obviously more esoteric subject such as astrology. One would think by comparing the two that astrology actually has more respectability than the notion of design.

  24. 24
    CannuckianYankee says:

    VJtorley,

    We find in the astrology article:

    “Astrology has played an important role in the shaping of culture, early astronomy, the Vedas,[1] the Bible,[2] and various disciplines throughout history.”

    Nowhere near the beginning of the Intelligent Design article do we find “Design has played an important role in the shaping of culture…” yet design inferences have been made since Plato, and were instrumental in the beginnings of Darwinism itself.

    The article would have been more accurate if like the Astrology article, it begins by tracing the history of Design inferences from Plato, through Aquinas, to Paley, Thaxton and Polanyi, Behe, Dembski, etc. – but it does none of that. When it mentions any of these supporters of ID, it is only in relation to the negative impression of them from detractors.

    And here’s another issue – once someone were to write a more in-depth and informative article on ID, it would most assuredly be deleted or revised so that only one side gets to define it.

  25. 25
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Sparc,

    “To my best knowledge I am in no way related to spark300c.”

    Yes, I gathered that. My fault. I’m so used to abbreviating people’s names here. Sorry for the mixup. 🙂

  26. 26
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Sparc and Sparc300c,

    It seems I’m getting both of you mixed up now. lol.

  27. 27
    Diffaxial says:

    VJ @ 19:

    It would be unwise to read too much into the psychological study of Wikipedia contributors cited in the report in The Age, given the study’s modest conclusions and methodological limitations.

    You are far too generous, VJ. The actual study merits no conclusions whatsoever, modest or otherwise. It’s methodological flaws are not mere “limitations” – rather they are completely fatal WRT inferences about these populations. The study is worthless.

    For The Age to continue, “The researchers’ findings that Wikipedians were introverted, disagreeable and closed to new ideas is at odds with the notion that Wikipedia was built around community and knowledge sharing” is unwarranted. The study warrants no such conclusion. Moses either didn’t read it or is incapable of evaluating research of this kind.

    What remains are some opinions about Wikipedia.

  28. 28
    Diffaxial says:

    It’s methodological flaws are not mere “limitations”

    OUT, wayward apostrophe.

  29. 29
    Barb says:

    This is exactly why my college professors have told me, repeatedly, “For the love of God, don’t use Wikipedia as a source” when writing research papers.

  30. 30
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “This is exactly why my college professors have told me, repeatedly, “For the love of God, don’t use Wikipedia as a source” when writing research papers.”

    When I was in school – long before the internet, I was told to never use encyclopedias as sources when writing research papers. Encyclopedias are actually excellent places to start some research if you know nothing about a subject, because it gives you some sources, but they can also be very outdated sources.

    One good thing about Wikipedia is that a lot of their sources are more up to date than the average hard-copy encyclopedia.

  31. 31
    dbthomas says:

    CY:
    Re: the ID article

    That’s because ID isn’t the same thing as the teleological argument aka argument from design:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleological_argument

  32. 32
    PaulBurnett says:

    nicholas.steno (#20) wrote: “…the liberal stranglehold on wikipedia will be broken by the keen and growing competition from conservapedia.

    I sure hope that was a joke, because it’s really funny.

    Here, for instance, is the entire article on “Plastic” from Conservapedia: “Plastic is a durable, (sometimes) recyclable material formed from oil that is nearly ubiquitous in American consumer products. Plastics were discovered in the mid-1900s, and entered into wide use almost as quickly.” – http://www.conservapedia.com/Plastic

    Wikipedia’s “Plastic” article takes over twenty screens to display (on my monitor). Conservapedia’s two-sentence article is mostly wrong, and far from “keen.” But, yeah, there’s definitely room to grow, so you are correct that Conservapedia is “growing” – but it’s got a long way to go to catch up to Wikipedia.

  33. 33
    PaulBurnett says:

    CannuckianYankee (#21) wrote: “Polanyi’s irreducible mechanistic structures inspired Dr. Michael Behe’s “irreducible complexity.”

    Dr. Dick Bliss’ article in the June 1994 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, from which Behe’s “theory” of irreducible complexity was plagiarized, provided lots more “inspiration” to Behe. This is discussed in Matthew Chapman’s book “40 Days and 40 Nights.”

  34. 34
    CannuckianYankee says:

    PaulBurnett,

    Dr. Dick Bliss’ article in the June 1994 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, from which Behe’s “theory” of irreducible complexity was plagiarized, provided lots more “inspiration” to Behe. This is discussed in Matthew Chapman’s book “40 Days and 40 Nights.”

    Matthew Chapman would appear to have a new twist on an old argument – actually accusing Behe of plagiarism. I hope he can present substantial evidence for this.

    As it stands, a common scheme among Darwinists is to show ID’s ties to prior arguments from creationists so as to show that ID is in-fact, simply a new form of creationism with the same old arguments.

    For a refutation of that argument, go here:

    http://telicthoughts.com/to-be.....eationist/

  35. 35
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “Wikipedia’s “Plastic” article takes over twenty screens to display (on my monitor). Conservapedia’s two-sentence article is mostly wrong, and far from “keen.” But, yeah, there’s definitely room to grow, so you are correct that Conservapedia is “growing” – but it’s got a long way to go to catch up to Wikipedia.”

    Agreed. BTW, I took a look at both Wiki’s articla on Baraminology and Conservapedias. I found the Conservapedia one more ballanced. It presented what Baraminology is, allowed a section on disagreements, and was rather well ballanced. Not so with Wiki. They present a very sharp almost comical negation and that is all.

    It would be interesting if we took both sides of the controversy on this forum to collectively write an article presenting ID to have published on Wiki. I bet all of us collectively could do a better job than what is currently there. Such an article would need to allow the pro-side to present what ID is first, then there could be a section discussing the cons, and how ID supporters respond.

  36. 36
    dbthomas says:

    PB, it wasn’t Dick Bliss, but rather Richard D. Lumsden in an article called “Not So Blind A Watchmaker”. abstract reads:

    Structural and operational principles underlying the organization of the vertebrate retina and bacterial flagellar apparatus are reviewed in the context of William Paley’s classic intelligent designer vs. Richard Dawkins’ contemporary “blind watchmaker” interpretations of biological origins and diversity. The significance of inverted retinal microanatomy and retinocytophysiology is diagnosed. In the process, Dawkins’ riposte to Paley is refuted. The second example is more contemporary. In terms of biophysical complexity, the bacterial rotor-flagellum is without precedent in the living world. To the micromechanicians of industrial research and development operations, it has become an inspirational, albeit formidable challenge to the best efforts of current technology, but one ripe with potential for profitable application. To evolutionists, the system presents an enigma; to creationists, it offers clear and compelling evidence of purposeful intelligent design.

    Interesting, to say the least. Especially that final sentence.

  37. 37
    dbthomas says:

    Here’s another interesting abstract from that June ’94 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal:

    Anatomical Evidence For Creation: Design In The Human Body
    David A. Kaufmann, Ph.D.

    The human body is designed for precise, efficient functioning. In our human realm, creative inventors and engineers design and develop simple and complex machines that perform work more efficiently. A review of examples of pulley systems, wheels and axles, friction-reducing sacs within joints and compression/tension abilities of bones in the human body is presented. The functional superiority of the human brain over lower animals is cited. Since designs infer a designer, an unbiased observer would have great difficulty denying the rationality of inferring that these highly designed mechanisms in the human body had to be designed by an outside, suprahuman intelligent agent (Logos), the Creator.

  38. 38
    dbthomas says:

    Here’s a good one June 1967:

    Is DNA Only A Material Cause?

    Harold Armstrong, Ph.D.

    By means of philosophical considerations and, secondly, through specific examination of experimental facts, the author investigates the notion that DNA is “the secret of life.”

    An objection is raised that use of the word “code” in references to DNA involves nothing more than a metaphor. This and other objections are studied regarding DNA as a material, efficient, and formal cause. Objection is raised against the idea that memory is the encoding of experiences in DNA.

    Examination of experimental data brings out denial of the normal expectation that complicated organisms would have larger amounts of DNA than less complex forms. Facts indicate that DNA is influenced by environment as well as heredity.

    Comparisons are presented between results in vitro and in vivo experiments involving DNA.

    The author concludes from is [sic] theoretical arguments and from experimental evidence that DNA is not the whole cause of life and heredity. DNA is a material cause, but the author asserts there still must be a formal cause.

    Sounds quite familiar. As I recall, Joseph has been using a variant of this argument on a current thread here, updated with some modern genetic details. I think he may have even proposed an experiment looking to confirm the existence of this “formal cause”.

  39. 39
    dbthomas says:

    Irreducible complexity by any other name…

    From 1969 (bolding mine):

    Does The Science Of Genetics And Molecular Biology Really Give Evidence For Evolution?

    Walter E. Lammerts, Ph.D.

    By reference to beans, roses and corn, variation is shown to be limited and not unlimited as Darwin thought. Mutations are generally harmful. Even assuming a 1% advantage, which no mutation reported has actually shown, rate of accumulation of mutations in a species is so slow that it would take about 1,000,000 years for a species population to become uniform for one mutation. This makes them ineffective even in microevolution as means of accumulating the constant features distinguishing species. The giraffe is used to illustrate this fact.

    Also biological species show remarkable variation in chromosome number and form. Translocations and inversions occur rarely and spontaneously in species populations. Most translocations in the fruit fly, Drosophila, are either invariable when homozygous or cause a reduction in fertility in one or both the sexes. In plants, homozygous translocations are usually normal in fertility and vigor. However, none of them are more vigorous than the normal or standard type. Accordingly there is simply no way for them to become established as homozygotes in all the individuals of the population. Experimentally produced polyploids are variable in chromosome number due to quadrivalent formation and so their offspring have a variable in chromosome number. Also they are reduced in fertility, so could not become established in nature, since natural selection would operate against them.

    Some idea of the complexity of the DNA-RNA system is given. This remarkable interlocking system could not be the result of chance variation. Also reference to work with bacteriophage and tobacco mosaic virus shows that these organisms will not stand the slightest change in the nucleotide bases or their order in the very long and complex DNA molecule. Only the genius of a remarkably intelligent Being we worship as God could have designed such an efficient yet intricate system.

    Of course, it’s not really ID because he, erm, IDed the Designer.

  40. 40
    dbthomas says:

    Also from that issue, a double-shot of “common design”. Just search and replace a few bits of vocabulary mentally as you read (and excise the Scripture):

    The Form And Structure Of Living Things
    Frank L. Marsh, Ph.D.
    Creationists and evolutionists have vastly different concepts of comparative anatomy. The evolutionist holds that the more closely basic types of living things resemble each other physically in body line or chemistry the closer is their blood relationship. In contrast, the creationist holds that because the Creator spoke all the basic types into existence from the dust of the earth on Days Three, Five, and Six of the literal Creation week, there is no genetic relationship between them. Any similarity in anatomy, for instance, is due to one Creator with a master plan.

    Regarding man, the truth of the literal Genesis account of his origin is attested by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:4-6. That the Creator ceased at the end of Creation week to form new basic types of organisms is stated in Genesis 2:2 and verified in nature. The discontinuity among both living and fossil forms constitutes real evidence of the creation of basic kinds. According to the natural record, from the day of their creation, all Genesis kinds have continued to bring forth only after their kinds. Variation has never been known to accomplish more than the production of a new variety of a basic type already in existence.

    The Concept Of Homology
    Russell Artist, Ph.D.
    The concept of homology, in the historical sense, was defined in The Origin of Species by Darwin as “recognition of fundamental plan in animals and plants is due to descent with modification.” Inheritance of successive slight modifications from a common ancestor was very likely a reaction to the extreme view of the immutability of species held in Darwin’s times. This paper seeks to show that it is neither hopeless nor unscientific to attribute a common plan or a basic pattern of a Creator to the similarities shown by the forelimbs of vertebrates.
    A review of recent and widely adopted high school textbooks in biology shows that homology in the Darwinian sense is still being offered as “proof” of evolution. Recognition of the rapid inroad of evolutionary teaching into our educational system to the complete suppression of creationist viewpoints calls upon scientist and non-scientist alike to lead in a return of the data of the natural sciences with creation guidelines.

    Well, that was interesting. Others can post further examples if they wish. Here’s the page for abstracts by issue:

    http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts.htm

  41. 41
    nicholas.steno says:

    #32

    Wikipedia’s “Plastic” article takes over twenty screens to display (on my monitor). Conservapedia’s two-sentence article is mostly wrong, and far from “keen.” But, yeah, there’s definitely room to grow, so you are correct that Conservapedia is “growing” – but it’s got a long way to go to catch up to Wikipedia.

    mostly wrong? i don’t see what is wrong with the factual content of the conservapedia article. you seem to equate quantity with quality. trivial useless detail about the composition of various esoteric forms of plastic doesn’t help. I’m sure anyone looking at a wiki page isn’t looking for that sort of information. they just need the bare facts.

    #35 CY I like that idea. I’m not much help I am afraid but I’d love to read it! There needs to be some effort to correct the obvious liberal bias at wikipedia.

    dbthomas what are you trying to prove, anyway? it is distracting from the topic, your demonising of design thinkers as ‘creationists’, while we are discussing the dismissal of design by the demagoguery of denialists.

  42. 42
    nicholas.steno says:

    sorry about that i am quite unused to these html thingies

    paragraphs 1 was quoted, 2 3 4 my response

  43. 43
    CannuckianYankee says:

    dbthomas,

    “That’s because ID isn’t the same thing as the teleological argument aka argument from design:”

    Sorry so late – I try to respond to everyone who responds to me, but this one sort of slipped by me.

    I’m confused. Are you making an argument that ID IS a teleological argument for the existence of God?

    If so, I disagree. ID is only concerned whether or not there is design, while a teleological argument takes apparent design as an argument for God’s existence.

    Paley’s “Watchmaker” argument:

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/paley.html

    http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/paley.shtml

    …is a teleological argument, but it is not quite ID. The evidence for design that ID detects supports teleological arguments, but is not itself one.

    And this is part of what the Wikipedia article on ID gets wrong.

  44. 44
    CannuckianYankee says:

    dbthomas,

    BTW, ID supporters do not deny that much of ID thinking comes from creationist ideas – as you have taken time to point out. This is not surprising, since many IDists are either creationists in one sense of the word, or were creationists in the same sense or another. It’s important to distinguish one very important difference – ID does not appeal to biblical text as a test or guide for the veracity of it’s argument. ID looks only to the evidence from nature.

    ID supporters for the most part don’t spend their time denegrating the ideas of creationists.

  45. 45
    dbthomas says:

    CY: OK, you kinda mistook my intent there. You were wondering why the ID article didn’t mention Plato or Aquinas and so forth. My point was that ID isn’t identical to the teleological argument in general. It certainly makes use of the basic idea, but ID also includes other arguments about the boundaries science, is characterized by a particular jargon, such as IC or CSI, which typically relies on more current knowledge, etc. By the same token, I wouldn’t say that Paley’s Natural Theology was the precisely the same thing either, because it had it’s own features, unique to its time and place of composition, that distinguished it from earlier versions of the AfD deployed by, say, Plato or Aristotle.

    Here’s another thing: almost all of those historical versions, which you yourself brought up as antecedents to ID that should have been mentioned, explicitly were arguments for the existence of a deity of some sort. They weren’t just about saying “Look, that’s gotta be designed.” So, if I were an IDer, insisting that it’s not about proving God, I have to say I would not want to emphasize the connection with historical examples of the teleological argument like those you cited. I find it sort of odd that you want the Wikipedia article to do just that.

  46. 46
    CannuckianYankee says:

    dbthomas,

    “Here’s another thing: almost all of those historical versions, which you yourself brought up as antecedents to ID that should have been mentioned, explicitly were arguments for the existence of a deity of some sort. They weren’t just about saying “Look, that’s gotta be designed.” So, if I were an IDer, insisting that it’s not about proving God, I have to say I would not want to emphasize the connection with historical examples of the teleological argument like those you cited. I find it sort of odd that you want the Wikipedia article to do just that.”

    I see now where the connection is. Let me clarify my thinking on this. The evidence for ID allows one to make a design inference. I don’t think ID supporters need to be embarrassed by the history of how humans have made design inferences. ID is not completely separated from that history, just as it is not completely separated from creationism.

    However, as I pointed out in earlier posts, and as you have agreed, ID is not the same as a teleological argument. The teleological arguments in my view are valid, but not empirical. I believe ID is impirical.

    So I think any thorough examination of ID would logically look at historical design inferences, to see how the thinking evolved into a more rigorous exploration of the evidence.

  47. 47
    CannuckianYankee says:

    dbthomas,

    Furthermore, design inferences in the past necessitated that the designer is a god or God. With more updated evidence we can see that such an assumption is not necessitated by the empirical data – while making the same inference is not at all invalid. Necessity and implication are different things altogether. Design implies God, and I think it is the most clear implication of design, but it doesn’t necessitate God. This is why I think there are a lot of agnostics and a few deists who accept ID. Antony Flew is an example of this.

    We now have to accept that design inferences are metaphysically based. But metaphysical notions can have natural evidences. The danger is in ruling them out categorically – because in so doing, we forget that we are still making metaphysical assumptions.

    As a theist, I have to allow others to come to their own conclusions, if I’m to be faithful to being a theist. I don’t believe God wants anybody to believe in a lie. The type of theism I accept allows that God is every bit a part of natural reality – although he is not a part of material nature – He is transcendent. As such, it is my belief that the empirical evidence will show and has shown that design is the better paradigm. But I have to allow the evidence to speak for itself, and not to force it to conform to a particular text, or interpretation of such a text.

    So if somebody wants to infer that space aliens designed our biological nature via transpermia, fine; but I don’t believe that is the most parsimonious interpretation of the data due to the fact that it doesn’t sufficiently resolve the infinite regress problem.

    I come to that conclusion not based on the empirical evidence, but based on my own metaphysical understanding.

    You have probably noticed that I have interjected my own metaphysical understanding into my views on ID. Fine. We all do it. Darwinists interject “a god would not have designed the world as it is,” purely out of metaphysical assumptions. That is pretty much what this debate is about.

    So when Darwinists come here to discuss and notice that we spend a lot of time talking about God and religion, they have to understand that we are doing what the evidence leads us to – not what we want to force on the evidence.

    Wikipedia completely misunderstands this dynamic, and I think their article is intellectually shallow.

  48. 48
    PaulBurnett says:

    I wrote (#32) that “Conservapedia’s two-sentence article (“Plastic”) is mostly wrong…

    …and nicholas.steno (#41) complained: “mostly wrong? i don’t see what is wrong with the factual content of the conservapedia article.

    Thanks for that cogent observation. “Durable” is not a characteristic of all plastics; some plastics are not “formed from oil”; while plastics may be “nearly ubiquitous in American consumer products,” the audience for Wikipedia is purportedly planet-wide, not solely American. Plastics were not “discovered in the mid-1900s” but much earlier. Most of the “facts” in the two sentence “article” are wrong – or useless.

    nicholas continued: “you seem to equate quantity with quality. trivial useless detail… I’m sure anyone looking at a wiki page isn’t looking for that sort of information. they just need the bare fact

    That’s the difference between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. Dictionaries can properly have a one or two sentence description. Encyclopedias are supposed to be…encyclopedic.

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