Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Donald Wise’s Pandora’s Box

arroba Email

Donald Wise wants to move beyond the philosophical and religious dimensions of ID to the “unintelligent design” of certain biological systems. But clearly that means we can also focus on the “intelligent design” of biological systems. Let us encourage the scientific community to open that Pandora’s box:

Scientist Urges Colleagues to Focus on “Unintelligent Design”

The scientific community’s failure to mount effective opposition against the intelligent design movement calls for new tactics, contends a veteran scientist. He will propose that his colleagues abandon religious and philosophical discussions and focus on evidence that he believes shows a clear lack of intelligent design.

Newswise — The scientific community’s failure to mount effective opposition against the intelligent design movement calls for new tactics, contends University of Massachusetts Amherst geologist Donald Wise. He proposes that scientists abandon all religious and philosophical discussions and focus instead on evidence that he believes demonstrates a clear lack of intelligent design.

He will present his approach at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America on Monday, Oct. 17 in Salt Lake City.

Proponents of intelligent design believe the complexities of various anatomical structures cannot be explained by evolution, and are actually evidence of an intelligent designer. Wise and others believe this assertion is another version of creationism, re-cast to avoid being declared a religion by federal courts. He contends this claim of being non-religious provides an opportunity for the scientific community to mount an effective political campaign.

Wise advocates that scientists point to the “incompetent design” in the human skeleton. He asks, “What is so intelligent about our sinus drainage system, so clogged that they would embarrass a plumber?” He says that the human pelvis is tipped forward for convenient knuckle-dragging at such an angle that only by extreme spinal curvature can humans stand erect, a design defect that would flunk any first-year engineering student.

“We have to recognize that the Intelligent Design push is a very well-organized, effective political movement that’s attempting to strike at the heart of science itself,” says Wise. “Science should abandon the traditional methods of polite debate and start using the rules of rough-and-tumble politics.

“Science has operated as a muscle-bound giant,” Wise argues. “That giant should focus his efforts on effective political tactics, resorting to the most effective weapon against those who think ultimate truth is on their side—namely undeniable facts served up with a sense of humor.”

eternal "Survival of the fittest is how we (and everything else that has life) got here." Survival of the luckiest is probably more true. The role of fitness is one of the factors in standard evolutionary theory that's been overplayed. Fitness is a factor but it's swamped by other factors. DaveScot
Both evolution theory and ID can EXPLAIN perfect design features. Evolution theory can EXPLAIN imperfect adaptions namely as a consequence of a historical process which balances advantages of some features against less important disavantages of some other features. However, ID cannot EXPLAIN imperfect design. But as long as ID wants to use perfect adaptions as an argument it must admit imperfections as a possible counterargument. The drainage system of the sinus is a very good example because it is so simple. In the upright posture of humans the maxillary sinus must pump mucous UPHILL to reach the sinus opening. That's the root cause why this very narrow opening obstructs easily and hence why sinusitis is so common with humans. What kind of designer would have abstained from reengineering his design for upright posture by simply changing the direction of the openings of the maxillary sinus by 90 degrees? http://www.sinuses.com/ctscan.htm gt
If one changes the word evolution to descent with modification a truer line of thought can be followed. For one thing evolution, by its self, has no meaning that pertains to how we have arrived at where we are today. Survival of the fittest is how we (and everything else that has life) got here. No design required until serious greed kicks in. Then we need intelligent design to be the fittest or at least get what we require to make us the fittest. From single cells to multibillion celled organisms in a couple of billion years is not bad going, but when you consider that greed is the driving force, it's a wonder it didn't happen in a couple of million years:-) If only the human race could figure out that greed is behind everything, we could put it to great use and really get things done. The purist form of greed is the need to pass on our genes, without it nothing would survive, from the simplest of single celled beings to ourselves. Once achieved nothing else matters and, in a lot of cases, death follows quickly. Humans are only different in that we have found ways to prolong our lives, again greed being the driving force. If, for instance, a crane fly could discover a way to live a little longer, then it would, a little more time to fly around and mate again. It doesn't matter what you wish to believe, God, Allah, Buddah, Shiva, Bullshit, whatever, greed is behind it. You want to go to heaven, be reborn again, live in paradise, all are unwilling to give up life or spirit or soul. This belief of ID or of any other belief system has to stop, we have to concentrate on what is important - our greed to survive. It will not be long before we discover what makes us age and finally die. When we have cracked that, then the Cosmos will be our pearl. There will be no more need to pass our genes on as we will never pass on, then we will have plenty of time to ponder whether there are higher beings than ourselves, no doubt we will meet them in time and probably be surprised to find that we know more than them. We will be the ones worshipped as gods as we go travel far and wide and spread our seed amongst the universes. If you don't believe me, try living for as long as you can and maybe, just maybe, you'll have access to the knowledge that will allow eternal life. Every human has a small amount of god in them. If all six billion of us pulled together, what a mighty god we would have.:-)))) Sorry about the grammar and any spelling errors, bit tired need to go to bed and dream some more. eternal
How would a successful ID academy address environmental policy? missed the verb... oops Ilib
How would a successful ID academy environmental policy? Endangered species? Is ID a purely 'moral' issue? How would the evidence of design effect the way we co=exist with other species? Would the acceptance of 'design' and the subsequent replacing of 'evolution' as scientific theory, fact, truth, however it is defined, change the research now pursed by the present bioscience community? If so, how? I have gleaned the writings of both the ID proponents and the Darwinists for the past decade. In this forum's opinion, what elements of evolutiona theory should be 'junked'? What is salvageable? I would appreciate your indulgence. Ilib
Intelligent Design of systems imply sacrifice in "perfection" in one dimension to maximize performance in another. There are no perfect refrigerators or extraodinarily efficient cars from a thermodynamic perspective. If we strove for thermodynmic "perfection" there would be no refrigerators or cars, and definitely no airplanes. Rather, we make compromises based on teleological goals. Another example is that Compact Discs (CD's) are written with lot's of "designed errors" in the encoding of bits, and then these "errors" are then read with a Reed-Solomon error correcting mechanism on your CD player. Why not design it to write correctly in the first place? Well, it turns out, based on the Shannon Capacity Theorem, this is the most efficient way to store data if one's teleological goal is for compactness and maximum data on a physical medium. Same with Mp3 compression which is "lossy" and in a formal sense "imperfect" as it does not exactly represent the original audio signal, but it makes sense when one realizes the teleological goal is for compactness, not fidelity. The Darwinist, if applying the same considerations, would have ample reason to call cars, aiplanes, refrigerators, Mp3's and compact disks as being un-intelligently designed. We can determine design, but unless we have the teleological goals from the Designer, we have little reason to judge His designs as somehow un-inteligent. And to the larger issue of imperfect and often "painful-to-ponder" designs such as the design of life, sickness, and death I have some thoughts from a philosophical and theological perspective (not a scientific one). Like a great novel, the design of the universe and life, with all it's distress and sorrow are only the middle chapters in a Divine drama. The genius of the design of this drama is judged by how the story ends, not soley on the middle chapters of the story (which we are in now). The genius we see expressed in living organisms gives hope that the Designer is wise. Like the Reed-Solomon codes in CD's, there may be a greater purpose behind "designed errors" if one is willing to be open-minded. Salvador scordova
I have to agree that, if some scientists want to take a swim in theological waters, "optimal design" is not the way to go. First, it assumes that the Designer would design things according to some ideal of perfection that the Designer presumably holds- when in fact we can presume (as of yet) next to nothing of the actual mindset of the Designer. Second, that this ideal concept of perfection, if the Designer has one, is the equivalent of human conceptions of perfection is also an unknown. Third, is it even possible for what we term "nature" to meet any criteria of ideal or ultimate perfection, due to the many (but not infinite) ways that the different varieties of matter and energy limit, alter, and interact with each other. However, I suspect there is an implicit assumption among supernaturalists that death, disease, and decay are "imperfections" in the Design, such that those who are sympathetic to ID tend not to think of these three things as integral to the overall Design of the universe. However, I dont think the idea should be rejected out of hand, even if it means, in a Christian context and assuming these things do give the appearance of design,leading to the conclusion that the act of humans sinning against God altered nature in such a way that it cannot be distinguished from the Designers own work. I'm sure there are more possibilities which others here can suggest. Ta! Christiaan trespasser
If anyone is interested in further study regarding the "optimal" design issue, please read chapter 6 in Dr. Dembski's The Design Revolution. Bombadill
Me : “Fool me 1nce, shame on me Fool me 2wice, shame on ya” higgity: " Shouldn’t it be the other way around? " Well probably so - but i figured since the Darwin world works backwards after some more carefully & well thought out posts of the other users it would of eventually turn back around for the reader[s]. note [ does that make sense ? ] Charlie Charliecrs
When arguing with folks that bring up bad desing, it makes sense to bring up Icons of bad design in the past like the appendix and "junk" DNA. The most effective rebuttal, imo, is the fact that you must understand the full ecology that the subject is involved in. "Bad Design" could just be a necessary disadvantage in one species to keep the ecosystem in check. If every creature were perfectly designed, then ecosystems for higher level animals would not work. Dan Dan
Love the IDea. I can't understand why, with 76% of the population Christian, why there is such resistance to accepting "God". Ilib
So we're looking for a perfect design abitrator [sp] amongst people who don't even understand the 2nd Law? mmadigan
Wise's comments seem to have been made in conjunction with this weekend's annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. See ... http://www.geosociety.org/news/pr/05-40.htm Here, he fleshes out his plan to run almost a political campaign against ID ... http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2005AM/finalprogram/abstract_92960.htm Since the leading ID theorists mostly seem to be Old Earthers, one has to wonder why Wise and Eugenie Scott want to bother the hard rock guys over this. It's not their problem. But in true Chicken-Little style, the Darwinists -- whose sky truly is falling -- hope to convince geologists they're about to become casualties too. The Titanic is sinking. Wise & Co. not only refuse to abandon ship -- they're trying to drag others on board with them. Jack Golan
true mmadigan but slightly beside the point. Fall aside, 'bad design means no design' is such a hopelessly flawed argument in the ID debate that sometimes it seems that one of their agents have slipped in among the evolutionists camp and advising how to best tackle this menace. This seems even more likely when the argument presented seems to have a hole big enough to drive a mack truck through! petro
Trying to outguess the Designer with people who don't even accept the Fall seems a waste of time. mmadigan
Here is something about our spinal curvature on a YEC site. http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i3/back.asp MGD
"Fool me 1nce, shame on me Fool me 2wice, shame on ya" Shouldn't it be the other way around? higgity
I'd like to throw in the ol' analogy of the "Emperors new clothes" The emperor , being Darwin [given]. The clothes being, the unquestionable, undeniable , unsurmountable amount of FACTS. Sadly the only ones who were fooled until this time have been "us?". It took what a 100 + years to find out that Darwin was actually naked :( Fool me 1nce, shame on me Fool me 2wice, shame on ya Charlie Charliecrs
And I'm tired of the argument made against ID which claims its proponents are religiously influenced. Let me make this clear right here and now: I am not religious; I never have been; I probably never will be; my ID belief is based on observed physical facts - it's that plain and simple. No evolutionist will ever be able to make a case against me by saying I believe in what I believe in because I'm religious as I'm not. It's a week and tired argument! mtgcsharpguy
One of the best articles I've read thus for over this ID-Darwinism debate is this one: http://www.davidlimbaugh.com/mt/archives/2005/08/new_column_the_5.html mtgcsharpguy
Its interesting the more ID challanges NDE forcing the so called experts to come out with their best arguments, the more we can clearly see just how bankcrupt this theory really is. I wonder how long its going to take for the world to realise the wools been pulled over their eyes and collectively shout baaaaaaaaaaaaastards!! petro
According to Wise's ludicrous reasoning, the blood clotting system must be a an engineering design flaw as well. Why would anyone want to stop blood from flowing out of the body? Similarly, why would anyone want to stop bacteria from entering sinus passages? Wise is an imbecile! mtgcsharpguy
Re: "Science should abandon the traditional methods of polite debate and start using the rules of rough-and-tumble politics." What a laugh. In addition to what's cited by Dave, above, take a gander at an incident Michael Crichton lamented in his oft-cited speech Aliens Cause Global Warming
In recent years, much has been said about the post modernist claims about science to the effect that science is just another form of raw power, tricked out in special claims for truth-seeking and objectivity that really have no basis in fact. Science, we are told, is no better than any other undertaking. These ideas anger many scientists, and they anger me. But recent events have made me wonder if they are correct. We can take as an example the scientific reception accorded a Danish statistician, Bjorn Lomborg, who wrote a book called The Skeptical Environmentalist. The scientific community responded in a way that can only be described as disgraceful. In professional literature, it was complained he had no standing because he was not an earth scientist. His publisher, Cambridge University Press, was attacked with cries that the editor should be fired, and that all right-thinking scientists should shun the press. The past president of the AAAS wondered aloud how Cambridge could have ever "published a book that so clearly could never have passed peer review." )But of course the manuscript did pass peer review by three earth scientists on both sides of the Atlantic, and all recommended publication.) But what are scientists doing attacking a press? Is this the new McCarthyism-coming from scientists? Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific American, which seemed intent on proving the post-modernist point that it was all about power, not facts. The Scientific American attacked Lomborg for eleven pages, yet only came up with nine factual errors despite their assertion that the book was "rife with careless mistakes." It was a poor display featuring vicious ad hominem attacks, including comparing him to a Holocust denier. The issue was captioned: "Science defends itself against the Skeptical Environmentalist." Really. Science has to defend itself? Is this what we have come to? When Lomborg asked for space to rebut his critics, he was given only a page and a half. When he said it wasn't enough, he put the critics' essays on his web page and answered them in detail. Scientific American threatened copyright infringement and made him take the pages down.
in regards to dougmorans comment- thats what always gets me with those who attack ID. they start out with the premise that all life is related and that evolution is so powerful, this is what its "created" (millions of various species, numerous body forms, parts, etc). yet, at the same time, they claim that pelvic tilt proves common ancestry with a knuckle dragger- yet, as i mentioned, and you confirmed, the millions of yrs that seperate man from a hypothetical common ancestor with apes should have been more than enough time for the pelvis to be tilted into wise's "perfect" position via that same mechanism that supposedly turned an ape-like creature into a human to begin with. i dont buy common ancestry, not sure about everyone else...and this is a big problem with it. evolutions mechanism is only all powerful when it suits the mud to man theory. when you point out that the mechanism must be very weak if it cant remove the supposed pelvic tilt in a whopping 6 million yrs, but at the same time say that its also all powerful that it can make massive changes to begin with. too much misinformation. i googled pelvic tilt again and found a few sites that mention the tilt it needed for a better center of balance, better for walking and sitting and taking heavy loads off the legs, knees, ankles, feet, etc. so, wise might not even be honest about the supposedly poor tilt to begih with. jboze3131
Wises remarks represent a classic mistake made by evolutionists who vastly oversimplify the functioning of living systems. Specialists who know little of human anatomy or the dynamics of physiology (such as Mr. Wise, who is a geologist) tend to fall headlong into this trap. They fail to look beyond the obvious. The spine is a prime example of a multipurpose structure whose detailed functional charactaristics are still not fully understood by science. See http://www.biotensegrity.com/paper5.html for example. Even though I am no expert, I would bet (were I a betting man) that when fully understood, the spine's gentle curve and finely tuned support structures will prove ideal for it's role. And that will lead to the conclusion that the spine is not curved because of the pelvic tilt, rather the pelvis is tilted to enable it to function in harmony with the spine and other components of the overall system. Indeed, I'm sure if any orthopedic surgeons were reading this they could tell you what happens if a person's pelvis is not tilted enough or too much, or what painful outcome would prevail if someone's spine does not curve just so - as the original design would specify. dougmoran
If dougmoran's comments re pelvic tilt are correct, not only does it show that mr Wise doesn't understand diddly squat about ID but that his arguments are disingenuous. BTW I don't know about anyone elses sinuses but mine are only clogged when I have a cold. Maybe though this also disproves ID afterall what sort of a loving God would inflict such a disease on the human race? petro
From http://www.efeld.com/evolution/human_gait.html: "Twelve million years of hominoid posture and locomotion and more than one million years of erect human standing and walking is considered long enough for any deficiencies associated with uprightness to have been selected out of the gene pool (Davis 1968)." i.e. Whether designed this way by an intelligent agent or "selected" for optimization by some hypothetical evolutionary process, pelvic tilt is not only necessary, but perfect. From http://asb-biomech.org/onlineabs/abstracts2000/pdf/155.pdf "Large moments are needed to equilibrate the total compression load of 2800N. Pelvic tilt and flexation rotations substantially diminish these moments. An optimal posture can, thus, be found resulting in minimum segmental moments..." In other words, pelvic tilt is an important source of the 8 degrees of freedom that our lower back needs to optimize (minimize) energy consumed in walking, sitting, standing, carying a load, etc. and in minimizing stresses on the related mechanical systems (spine, hips, knees, ankles,...) dougmoran
This evolution is “fact” nonsense is wearing very thin! Well said, mtgcsharpguy! Benjii
On another note. I see a trend: the evolution movement is panicking! Many more people are beginning to see the light and this is obviously scaring the hell out of evolutionists. This evolution is "fact" nonsense is wearing very thin! mtgcsharpguy
RE: "Wise advocates that scientists point to the “incompetent design” in the human skeleton. He asks, “What is so intelligent about our sinus drainage system, so clogged that they would embarrass a plumber?” He says that the human pelvis is tipped forward for convenient knuckle-dragging at such an angle that only by extreme spinal curvature can humans stand erect, a design defect that would flunk any first-year engineering student." That's a ridiculous argument because it infers an expectation of perfection. All engineers are clearly NOT perfect. There are always more "efficient" designs one can procure. Therefore, there are always more "perfect" designs an engineer can procure. If Wise expects his argument to pass any commonsensical validation, he's fooling himself with this wishful thinking! I use to be one of those evolutionists that bought into the idea that it was a "fact", even without doing my research into the subject. I too was an ignorant Kool-aid drinker. I think that any logical person that read's Behe's Darwin's Black Box or Dembski's Intelligent Design can come to the conclusion that Darwinian "chance" by lots of time and natural selection cannot possibly account for the many extremely complex organisms out there today! mtgcsharpguy
"The scientific community’s failure to mount effective opposition against the intelligent design movement calls for new tactics, contends a veteran scientist. He will propose that his colleagues abandon religious and philosophical discussions and focus on evidence that he believes shows a clear lack of intelligent design." “Science has operated as a muscle-bound giant,” Wise argues. Letter to all gaints, Our plan to mock David's God has failed. David has slain Goliath using both the rock of common sense and Goliath's own sword of science. It's time for us bullying gaints to put our unintelligent brains together to find a way to destroy David. Wise Smidlee
Just another sign of a failed paradigm! Benjii
A couple of considerations that they overlook... like development. It's important to factor in that the pelvis develops this way as we grow, it does not begin in this position. Also, the tilt of the pelvis is conducive to women giving birth and this tilt helps when we sit. We would likely be rather uncomfortable sitting, were it not in the configuration that it is. And where is the objective standard that we are to measure this unintelligent positioning against? Where is that data that proves that another configuration wouldn't have negative effects on other aspects of our anatomy? Bombadill
So Donald Wise has a theory that intelligent design means good design. What predictions does his theory make? How may it be falsified? ROFLMAO Wise isn't so wise, evidently. DaveScot
crandaddy- i agree its irrelevant. its a case of trying to get into the mind of the designer (in my case personally, God thru Christ)...You can point to TOO many objects that clearly have hallmarks of design that even a brilliant team of scientists couldnt build themselves or build anything that even gets close to rivaling many of these systems. i was just wondering if his claims are accurate. i cant find anything on the pelvis being titled to allow for knuckle dragging...which seems odd as it is- if the hypothetical ancestor of humans and chimps walked either way (bipedal or not), you still have the problem that this was supposedly 6 million yrs ago. that should be plenty of time for the pelvis to evolve out of a position that he claims its in, which he also claims supports remnants of knucking dragging. wouldnt you agree 6 mln yrs is long enough for the body to evolve and get rid of this unnecessary pelvic tilt (if it actually is titled like this and if the title does support his claim to begin with, im not aware either way.) if 6 mln yrs isnt enough to evolve the pelvis to a tilt that would be better for humans- then it seems to me that thats saying that macroevolutionary mechanisms cant be THAT powerful in their ability to change body forms! does all of that make sense? on top of all of that- someone who doesnt believe in an intelligent designer proclaiming what a "good" designer would do is silly from the word 'go' if you ask me. wise clearly knows better about designing life, he seems to imply. jboze3131
YES!!! Calling all Darwinites! Listen to Donald Wise! Darwin's death march has been stalled long enough by bogus charges of theistic creationism! Let's get movin'! Jboze3131, I don't know a whole lot about anatomy, but the apparent lack of design of some structures is irrelevant. ID theorists just want to find out if intelligent design can be found *anywhere* in nature, and the positive evidence is overwhelming. In fact, it seems to fall just short of absolute proof! One argument Bill puts forth is that ID opponents like to point out instances of "unintelligent design," but they routinely fail to come up with solutions to the problems they address. One more thing, GO IRISH!!! David crandaddy
anyone have any comments on the two main comments wise made about the pelvis and the sinus drainage system? curious as to thoughts on that. jboze3131
"Science should abandon the traditional methods of polite debate and start using the rules of rough-and-tumble politics." Right -- that memo inviting Richard Sternberg in for a "polite debate" at the Smithsonian got misinterpreted as "ruin the man's career." And those faculty at Baylor actually meant to nominate the Polanyi Center for an NSF grant. It was just a mixup. And President Timothy White at U of Iowa didn't really mean to shut down intellectual inquiry by political fiat. He's actually considering inviting every fellow at the Discovery Institute over for a conference of "polite debate." Yeah, I really feel for all those nice, disorganized, helpless, naive members of the Darwinian establishment, getting pushed around by those Machiavellian manipulators at Discovery. Boo. How does it feel, Bill, to wield such power, to have the academic and scientific world by the tail? Have the Illuminati contacted you guys for tips yet? dave

Leave a Reply