Intelligent Design

Darwinists: Our Interpretation of the Data Is the Data

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I can be kind of slow on the uptake, and no doubt many here at UD have recognized this phenomenon before – Darwinists mistaking their interpretation of the data for the data itself.  But it occurred to me with startling clarity today when I was reading the comments to this post in which the UD News Desk reports that that New Scientist is growing skeptical of some of the methods of neuroscientists who claim to have associated particular behaviors/beliefs with certain brain activity. 

Turell is also skeptical of these methods and writes:  “What is crazy is that an fMRI is measuring blood flow increases to areas of the brain, not the brain neurons. The brain is extremely interconnected between all regions. So what is being shown, really? Scientific garbage. But one has to merit grants to survive. Part of the fault is unthinking sources of money. Part is publish or perish. Part is the buddy system in peer review. Hurray for Tallis.” 

A Darwinist commenter, Joealtle, responds:  “Uh are you questioning the validity of fMRI? Wow you must have some serious evidence to back that one.” 

Did anyone see turell question the validity of fMRI generally?  Far from it, he specifically notes that an fMRI in fact does what it purports to do in the studies – i.e., measure blood flow increases to areas of the brain.  Turell is not questioning fMRIs as such.  He is questioning the interpretation of data obtained through the use of fMRIs.  Yet Joealtle treats turell as if he is questioning fMRIs as such. 

Joe’s comment startled me.  It is such an obvious non sequitur.  I wondered what he could be thinking.  Then it occurred to me this should not surprise me, because Joe is behaving like Darwinists generally behave – confusing their interpretation of the data for the data itself.  Joe appears to be convinced that the conclusions drawn from the brain scan studies are valid and when turell questions those conclusions he attacks him as if he questioned the brain scans themselves, rather than the conclusions drawn from the brain scans. 

Where have we seen this before?  Well, if you think about it, pretty much everywhere:

ID Guy:  I am skeptical of Darwinian processes’ ability to account fully for the complexity and diversity of the biosphere. 

Darwinist:  IDiot, don’t you know that we have actually observed germs develop antibiotic resistance though Darwinian processes? 

ID Guy:  Of course, I know that. 

Darwinist:  Then you know that Darwinian evolution is as well demonstrated as the law of gravity. 

ID Guy:  No, your interpretation of the antibiotic resistance data is not the data.  Let me try to explain this for you in terms adapted to the meanest understanding.  The data indicate that species clearly undergo small changes through Darwinian processes.  Examples abound:  antibiotic resistance in germs, the size of finch beaks during times of drought, etc.  You extrapolate from that data and conclude that the same process that creates these small changes within the species created the species in the first place.  In other words, you infer that Darwinian processes not only change the size of finch beaks, they create finches to begin with.  Please understand that the small changes within a species that have been observed are the data.  The creation of species through these processes has not been observed, and therefore is not the data.  It is an inference from the data.  The inference may be valid.  It may be invalid.  The point is that you do not seem to understand that your preferred inference from the data is not the same thing as the data itself.

 

 

Joealtle, I am going to clue you and your Darwinist comrades in here, so please pay close attention now:  Your interpretation of the data is not the same thing as the data.  Write that down.

37 Replies to “Darwinists: Our Interpretation of the Data Is the Data

  1. 1
    turell says:

    As a Jewish physician I read this site regularly since I fully accept intelligent design, and the reasoning presented here. Sometimes a little like a fish out of water since theologically the site is Christian in background, but God is God no matter how you think of Him.

    The misuse of fMRI’s by distorting what can be concluded from the data is infuriating, and defies logic. I appreciate this expansion on my comment by Barry Arrington.

  2. 2
    DonaldM says:

    This is precisely the problem I addressed in my recent post on the EC-EE claim. Data and evidence are two different things. What data is evidence for depends greatly on other background principles and theories that we accept. In other words, the observers assign evidentiary status to data based on those background principles and theories. Thus Darwinists have no problem assigning certain sorts of data – observations of small scale adaptions to perturbations in an environment – evidentiary status for the entire Grand Evolutionary Extrapolation (what I call the great GEE of Darwinism, as in “GEE whiz, look at the wonders evolution hath wrought!).
    And then they say, the GEE is confirmed! The point of critique against this isn’t to deny the original data – it IS to question the background principles and theories being applied to connect the data to the GEE claim! Once we understand that the main background principle being applied is rooted firmly in philosophical naturalism, as Philip Johnson so wonderfully exposed in Darwin on Trial, then the GEE itself begins to look very suspicious, if not downright incorrect. This is the point that Darwinists just don’t seem to grasp, hence their continued violations of what I shall henceforth call Arrington’s Axiom: Interpretation of data is not the data itself!

  3. 3
    Joealtle says:

    “What is crazy is that an fMRI is measuring blood flow increases to areas of the brain, not the brain neurons.”

    He most certainly was questioning the validity of fMRI. He seemed, at least to me, to be insinuating that what fMRI measures is bloodflow and not neuron function. However, anyone who knows what they are talking about also knows that the basis of fMRI is in the fact that neuron function is directly linked to increase blood flow. This is what fMRI measures, changes in blood-oxygen level (energy usage) that is due to neuron function.
    Nice try though.

  4. 4
    Barb says:

    Joealtle, when the author of a piece takes the time to post here and you keep insisting that he is wrong about what he wrote, you come across as being stupid.

    Seriously, the OP specifically notes that Dr. Turell wasn’t questioning the validity of fMRI and you state that he was. That is weapons-grade stupid right there. Try paying attention once in a while.

  5. 5
    Joealtle says:

    Hmm so basically its the OPs interpretation of the comment versus mine. It seemed to me that the commenter was certainly calling into question the validity of using fMRI to study brain function. Why dont you ask the commenter himself.

    The fact that he said “not the brain nuerons” is what the issue is. Those four words is what makes him wrong. As I said, measuring oxygen levels in the blood is a measure of neuron firing in the brain. Him saying that they are not measuring brain neurons themselves certainly seems to me like he is trying to say that fMRI visualizes changes in blood and has nothing to do with the neurons.

  6. 6
    Barb says:

    Yeah, I’ll take the OP’s interpretation and Dr. Turell’s comments over what you post any day of the week, Joe.

    It’s telling that you note: “…certainly seems to me like he is trying to say that fMRI visualizes changes in blood…”

    What you think he is saying and what he is actually saying are two different things.

  7. 7
    Joealtle says:

    You reveal your bias barb, your opinion no longer matters. We’re talking about what someone said, about what someone else said, seems about right for the ID crowd.

  8. 8
    Joealtle says:

    The fact that Turell calls fMRI data “scientific garbage,” alone shows his senility. Your backing him up though doesnt really surprise me.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Suh-WEET!!! Joealtle is treating us to a Darwinist two-fer, a Darwin Daily Double as it were! Not only has he demonstrated the Darwinist fallacy of “our interpretation of the data is the data,” but now he is also demonstrating another common Darwinist tactic: When confronted with an error, pretend you said something else and double down; maybe no one will notice.

    Let’s see this second tactic in action.

    Turell is a physician. I infer that he knows far better than Joealtle what he is talking about when it comes to fMRIs. He writes: “What is crazy is that an fMRI is measuring blood flow increases to areas of the brain, not the brain neurons. The brain is extremely interconnected between all regions. So what is being shown, really? Scientific garbage.”

    Joealtle responds: “Uh are you questioning the validity of fMRI? Wow you must have some serious evidence to back that one.”

    Barry responded to Joealtle: “Did anyone see turell question the validity of fMRI generally? Far from it, he specifically notes that an fMRI in fact does what it purports to do in the studies – i.e., measure blood flow increases to areas of the brain. Turell is not questioning fMRIs as such. He is questioning the interpretation of data obtained through the use of fMRIs.”

    Now this is where the double down tactic comes into play:

    Joealtle responds to Barry: “He most certainly was questioning the validity of fMRI. He seemed, at least to me, to be insinuating that what fMRI measures is bloodflow and not neuron function. However, anyone who knows what they are talking about also knows that the basis of fMRI is in the fact that neuron function is directly linked to increase blood flow. This is what fMRI measures, changes in blood-oxygen level (energy usage) that is due to neuron function. Nice try though.”

    I’ve got to hand it to Joe. As far as disingenuous prevarication goes this is a work of art. I especially like the dismissive little “nice try” at the end. Dr. Turell says that fMRI measures blood flow. Joealtle says the same thing in different words and tries to pretend that he was right and the good doctor was wrong all along. Precious. Thanks for the demonstration Joe.

  10. 10
    Barb says:

    Joealtle:

    You reveal your bias barb, your opinion no longer matters. We’re talking about what someone said, about what someone else said, seems about right for the ID crowd.

    You state that my opinion doesn’t matter. You’re right; Dr. Turell’s opinion matters. And, don’t forget, your opinion doesn’t matter, either.

    he fact that Turell calls fMRI data “scientific garbage,” alone shows his senility. Your backing him up though doesnt really surprise me.

    Now Dr. Turell is senile? Do you have anything of substance, Joe? These tedious ad hominem arguments prove only that you lack evidence to support your points.

    Your trollishness is getting boring, Joe. Back under your bridge.

  11. 11
    turell says:

    Joealtle let’s try again. Measuring blood flow it an area of the brain tells us only that that area is active. But the observation is quite removed from the reality of the situation. We know the neurons are active, but we really don’t know what they are actually doing, only that they have asked for more oxygen as you point out. What are the other areas the axons (from the lit up regions) are connected to doing at the same time? How much ion current is travelling in the different directions? What is the reaction of that influence to the other areas? The brain is an enormous mass of neurons, other cells and trillions of synapses connecting everything. The brain is not compartmentalized. To repeat, all we know from fMRI studies is an area of the brain is more active. We have only a smidgen of an idea as to what that all means in the context of the whole brain.

  12. 12
    Joealtle says:

    No barry. My point is that turell says fMRI data on neuron function is “scientific garbage” because it measures blood-oxygen levels. In reality, blood oxygen levels and neuron activity have been directly linked.
    Like I said, his “scientific garbage” quip shows his senility.
    Turell is a physician? Hes 84 years old and according to his website hasnt practiced medicine since ’71. BOLD fMRI began in the ’90s.
    Nice try.

  13. 13
    turell says:

    Joealtle, now you resort to adhominims? I did graduate from high school, college and medical school with very high honors, had five years of post-graduate training. ‘Nuff said. I’ll match my brain to yours any day.

  14. 14
    Joealtle says:

    So Dr. Turell, you stand by your claim that fMRi data is scientific garbage?

  15. 15
    turell says:

    Joealtle, I left practice in 1991. Be accurate. And I follow the scientific reports daily. My website shows my two published books and a third is currently in press. I contribute to http://www.agnosticweb.com daily by an original invitation to join in 2008. Take a look.

  16. 16
    Joealtle says:

    Ah yes, my mistake.
    Anyways, do you still standby your claim that fMRI data is scientific garbage or not?

  17. 17
    turell says:

    Joealtle: What is ‘garbage’ is the misuse of the information, as I have clearly explained, and so has Barry. Too much is inferred from what is found. If you wish to twist my conclusion to support your philosophic positions, so be it. And for your edification read Tallis

  18. 18
    Joealtle says:

    “fMRI is measuring blood flow increases to areas of the brain, not the brain neurons. The brain is extremely interconnected between all regions. So what is being shown, really? Scientific garbage.”
    What is being shown is blood oxygenation changes in regions of the brain, you called this “garbage.” This is the basis of visualization in fMRI, therefore you are calling the fMRI technique itslf “scientific garbage.”
    Its that simple.
    In your haste to have your ego stroked by the hamsters here, you let slip your tongue in front of someone who looked further into what you were saying than you had expected.

  19. 19
    turell says:

    Hamsters? You really should read Tallis.

  20. 20
    Joealtle says:

    Thanks but no thanks, I have to read up on other things you in your infinite wisdom would probably also call scientific garbage. Good day.

  21. 21
    Barb says:

    Is there any chance that Joealtle can be banned? He’s not producing anything worth reading, and is simply trolling others at this point.

  22. 22
    turell says:

    Afraid to open your mind to valid concepts and other opinions? Tallis is an atheist in the Britsh Humanist Assosiation. I have simply expressed his opinions, which fortify mine.

  23. 23
    Barb says:

    Dr. Turell, I have a question. While looking up some information on fMRI, I noticed that some instances of its use were to determine if a person is lying. Based on your understanding of its functionality and purpose, is fMRI a good lie detector? Is it feasible that this technology could be used in court?

    I ask because I’m curious about this; generally, I associate MRI technology with discovering tumors in the human body, and I don’t associate it at all with psychological behavior.

  24. 24
    Joealtle says:

    Of course Im not, I simply dont have the time to read others opinions. Like I said, I have reading to do on subjects you would apparently call scientific garbage.

  25. 25
    Joealtle says:

    Still havent dug that stick out of your ass Barb? Im sorry to hear that.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    Joealtle, you crossed the line in 25. You are warned. There will be no more warnings.

  27. 27
    JLAfan2001 says:

    I wonder if Joealtle and ChralieD are friends. CharlieD made the exact same comment on another thread.

  28. 28
    turell says:

    Barb: you are exactly on point. The MRI is used all over the body in transverse slices of tissue created by the computer. Its resolution is less than one centimeter per slice so it gives a better picture than CAT scans. Currently the fMRI on brain scans is not a good lie detector, based on the discussion we have just had. It just shows areas of the brain that light up during different uses of the brain. When you consider that neurons exist in the 100 billions and the number of attached axon fibers create trillions of connections called synapses and the synapses can be modulated for effect, the lighted area doesn’t tell much about the overall brain activity at any moment. Further there are other cell types in the brain that are also neurologically active, compounding the overall activity level. The brain is the biggest computer in the world, to use an analogy, but you must consider taht it is metabolically aactive and modulation of connection and response is continuous. And I haven’t even mentioned the effect of hormones and other blood circulated modifiers that affect the brain constantly.

    Barry; Thank you for warning him. I try to be polite even if the comments are infantile.

  29. 29
    julianbre says:

    Dr. Turell, thank you so much for posting here. Glad to find out about your book Science vs. Religion. Don’t know how I missed it. Will be adding it to my reading list.

    Barry, could you make a new post on recommended books? Especially since Stephen Meyer’s book is coming out soon. It seems like some really good books slip through the cracks and don’t get the publicity they deserve. Thanks.

  30. 30
    tjguy says:

    Dr. Turell, I read that there are probably more electrical connections in one brain than there are in all the electronic devices in the whole world put together. Perhaps using the word synapse is better than electrical connection. I’m sure this is very imprecise science, but would you say that is probably an accurate statement?

    Thanks.

  31. 31
    tjguy says:

    Dr. Turell, somewhere I read that there are probably more electrical connections in one brain than there are in all the electronic devices in the whole world put together. Perhaps using the word synapse is better than electrical connection. I’m sure this is very imprecise science, but would you say that is probably an accurate statement?

    Thanks.

  32. 32
    Optimus says:

    @ tjguy
    I know I’m not Dr. Turell, but you may appreciate this link:
    http://stanmed.stanford.edu/20.....icle8.html
    I use it in a lecture that I give.

  33. 33
    turell says:

    Optimus, thank you. I was not aware of that link. It certainly makes the point.

    julianbre, thank you for your interest. I’ve posted on rare occasion here. But I follow the site closely.

  34. 34
    Optimus says:

    Turell
    You’re welcome:-)

  35. 35
    Optimus says:

    It would be nice if we could actually talk with an ID critic who has something meaningful to say instead of bombarding us with infantile trolling. Anyway, great post, Barry! It cuts right to the heart of so many of the discussions that I’ve witnessed between ID people and Darwinists – the Darwinist claims anything and everything that’s ever been observed as evidence for Darwinism (hence the ‘overwhelming evidence’ harangue), while the ID proponent tries to draw the distinction between observation and interpretation.

  36. 36
    tjguy says:

    @Optimus

    Thanks. That was the information I was looking for! I had heard it before, but this gives it some clout – referenced and all. 125 trillion synapses!

    “…the brain’s overall complexity is almost beyond belief, says Smith.

    “One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor — with both memory-storage and information-processing elements — than a mere on/off switch.

    In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches.

    A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth,” he says.

    WOW!

    I’m glad my worldview doesn’t ask me to believe that such an amazing organ evolved through random mutations!

    That would be too much for my little brain to handle!

  37. 37
    Barb says:

    Thank you, Dr. Turell. I had seen an article which indicated that the technology wasn’t considered useful in court. Now I see why.

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