Intelligent Design

Honesty and Integrity in Science

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In his post about the fossil record, Barry raised an important point concerning honesty and integrity in science. Proponents of a scientific theory should consider all the evidence and weigh its overall implications, not choose evidence selectively to support a conclusion that has already been reached. This is a basic axiom in the scientific enterprise. There are mountains of evidence supporting long periods of stasis and sudden emergence in the fossil record, especially where the record is most complete. This is usually ignored. Instead, emphasis is placed on putative, rare (especially in comparison to the entire known record) “transitionals,” with no means of establishing ancestor/descendent relationships except through the use of imagination.

David Berlinski refers to the fossil record as “completely mystifying.” The same could be said of the existence of life’s complexity, functional integration and information content, at least in the absence of design.

An honest approach by proponents of Darwinian evolutionary theory would be to simply say: “The Darwinian mechanism is the best naturalistic, materialistic explanation we have been able to come up with. Overall, the fossil record remains mystifying in Darwinian terms, and it must be admitted that there is no conclusive evidence that random mutation and natural selection have the creative power to account for all of the characteristics of living systems. However, until a better naturalistic explanation comes along, we have chosen to stick with the current Darwinian paradigm.” Instead, we are consistently assured that the matter is settled, that only the details remain to be filled in, and that all objections are motivated by religious conviction.

On the other hand, I would argue that proponents of intelligent design theory have met the above-mentioned standard of scientific integrity. They simply assert: “Based on the evidence, we believe that an inference to design is scientifically justified, but we can draw no conclusions from that evidence as to how, why, where, or when design was implemented. The design inference is open to refutation through the demonstration of detailed materialistic mechanisms that can account for it.”

28 Replies to “Honesty and Integrity in Science

  1. 1
    Strangelove says:

    I was hoping to add to this discourse with some facts:

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

    According to this article, the “sudden emergence” took tens of millions of years.

    “From the modern point of view, the apparently explosive radiation from obscure beginnings was partly an artefact of disregarding microfossils, which were scarcely detectable with 19th-century technology…” [the article goes on to explain more]

    The explosion truthfully isn’t as dramatic as it’s made out to be.

  2. 2
    stevie steve says:

    So are you saying Darwinists have less integrity and are more dishonest than IDers? Does that violate Denyse’s Rule 2:

    2. Here we critique the argument, not the person. Therefore, we don’t do personal abuse or cussing.

    Are Darwinists allowed to argue that IDers have less integrity and are more dishonest than Darwinists, or is this a one-way street?

  3. 3
    BarryA says:

    Hear him! Hear him! Particularly annoying is the Darwinist propensity to talk about the “fact” of evolution. Futuyma goes so far as to compare that “fact” to the fact that the earth orbits the sun.

    At the risk of overusing this phrase, let me get this straight Professor Futuyma. Are you saying that certain inferences you have drawn about the history of life, which inferences are based upon certain assumptions you have made about the nature of life, are epistemologically equivalent to conclusions we draw by present observations of the physical universe? Isn’t that just plain silly?

  4. 4
    mike1962 says:

    “So are you saying Darwinists have less integrity and are more dishonest than IDers? Does that violate Denyse’s Rule 2: Here we critique the argument, not the person. Therefore, we don’t do personal abuse or cussing.”

    They aren’t critiquing the person, but rather their *methods*. Attacking a person would be something like, “you’re an idiot”, or “you’re a jew”, or “you’re a communist.” Attacking the methology (such as a person ignoring evidence or absense thereof and positing imaginings instead, etc) is not attacking a person, but their method, and of course, is fair game.

  5. 5
    stevie steve says:

    So Darwinists are free here to argue that IDers are dishonest and lack integrity?

  6. 6
    GilDodgen says:

    My comments represent an observation about the current state of affairs within the Darwinian establishment, not an ad hominem attack. The point I made is one of the major themes of Phillip Johnson’s seminal work, Darwin On Trial.

  7. 7
    stevie steve says:

    Does that mean Darwinists are free here to argue that IDers are dishonest and lack integrity?

  8. 8
    Scott says:

    stevie steve:

    It means that Darwinists are free to argue that ID methodology is unsound, flawed etc… with data to support the argument.

    Keep posting the same question here ad nauseam and you’ll quickly be shown the door.

  9. 9
    stevie steve says:

    Look, I come here, I see that Darwinists are being called dishonest and of low integrity. All I’m asking is, do Darwinists get to argue the same thing about IDers. And nobody’s yet said yes or no. All I want is an answer.

  10. 10
    Scott says:

    Sure as long as you avoid ad hominem attacks on individuals and back up your claims with sound data.

  11. 11
    stevie steve says:

    thanks. That’s all I wanted.

  12. 12
    stevie steve says:

    What? Why’d that get disemvowelled? What rule did that post violate?

  13. 13
    Scott says:

    Not sure what’s going on with the vowel issue. We’ll look into it.

  14. 14
    sagebrush gardener says:

    Quoth BarryA:

    Particularly annoying is the Darwinist propensity to talk about the “fact” of evolution.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it works like this:

    Speculation + Speculation = Fact

    Fact + Fact (i.e. Speculation + Speculation + Speculation + Speculation) = Overwhelming Evidence for Evolution

  15. 15
    sagebrush gardener says:

    To illustrate further:

    Overwhelming Evidence for Evolution
    perhaps
    probably
    might
    possibly
    likely
    may
    apparently
    seem
    presumably

    It’s speculation all the way down!

    See also “Likely, Evolution May Be a Fact, Presumably”

  16. 16
    seemore73 says:

    I’ve been following this blog for some months now. I don’t remember exactly when or who the commentor signed off as, but they were clearly anti-ID and had the irritating habit of posting w/o vowels. I suspect this person is one and the same. It was irritating then and is irritating now.

    For the record I am YEC and believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant Word. I believe in ID because God says He created all that we see and even things unseen.

    And now I will probably return to being an interested observer.

    Carry on and keep looking up!

  17. 17
    Mats says:

    There are mountains of evidence supporting long periods of stasis and sudden emergence in the fossil record, especially where the record is most complete. This is usually ignored. Instead, emphasis is placed on putative, rare (especially in comparison to the entire known record) “transitionals,” with no means of establishing ancestor/descendent relationships except through the use of imagination.[Emphasis mine]

    I see this kind of “sleight of hand” when Darwinists present a vertebrate transitional fossil as “evidence” for Darwinism.

    Fred Williams’ site says how the illusion is done:

    Whenever an evolutionist presents his line of evidence for evolution in the fossil record, he will without fail, virtually every time, present a vertebrate transitional fossil. Why is this important? The evolutionist is failing to mention to his audience that vertebrates constitute less than .01% of the entire fossil record, and of these fossils, most species are represented by a bone or less!1 What about the other 99.99% of the fossil record? That’s the other key piece of information the evolutionist is withholding from you. Complex invertebrates make up the vast majority of this portion of the record, roughly 95%. We have cataloged literally millions of different species of these very complex creatures, and we have entire fossils, not just pieces here and there. In this rich and virtually complete portion of the fossil record, there is not a single sign of evolution, whatsoever!!! [Emphasis in the original]

  18. 18
    sagebrush gardener says:

    Off Topic – Disemvoweler

    My apologies for posting this here, but there is some confusion about the Disemvoweler over in the Start by asking different questions thread and comments are closed there as a result.

    Denyse,

    UD uses forum software from WordPress.

    Apparently the “Disemvoweler” plugin is in use.

    According to the WordPress documentation:

    This plugin removes vowels from comments posted from an IP in the disemvoweler blacklist.

    It seems that you have a blacklist of IP addresses there somewhere. When WordPress encounters a post from an IP address on this list it automatically disemvowels it.

    Once again, I apologize for interrupting this thread. Please feel free to delete this post once the problem has been resolved.

  19. 19
    apollo230 says:

    Hello, Denyse,

    (OFF-TOPIC, RE: Disemvoweling)

    In case you have not noticed, in the “pages” section there is a “comment policy” document posted by ex-moderator DaveScot on February 2, 2006 where he had this to say about disemvoweling:

    “Disemvoweler – Ocassionally a troll will annoy me enough to disemvowel his comment then publish it. You can thank the wonderful folks at the Panda’s Thumb for that precious little trick. PZ Meyers I believe was the first to use it on my comments there. Imagine my delight when I found a plugin for WordPress that strips all the vowels out of a comment. What goes around comes around. I modified it so it strips out your URL but leaves your name intact so everyone knows who the troll is but can’t see the web address he wants to advertise”.

    Best regards,
    apollo230

  20. 20
    GilDodgen says:

    I am not familiar with the use of the disemvoweler, but apollo230 is undoubtedly correct. The disemvoweled posts are coming from IP addresses that DaveScot identified as being used by UD trolls.

  21. 21
    Strangelove says:

    And apparently the disemvoweler (that’s fun to type) fires off seemingly randomly nowadays.

  22. 22
    PaV says:

    Mr. Strangelove: “The explosion truthfully isn’t as dramatic as it’s made out to be.”

    The Cambrian Explosion is a double-whammy for Darwinists. The seeming Darwinist solution to this problem–microfossils don’t fossilize well; but they’re there; and we see intermediates!–is itself problematic.

    The fact that the fossil record records basically ‘statis’ is an argument against variability. The fact that so many phyla appeared in so short a time is an argument against slow, gradual, evolution. Darwin himself wrote that if the fossils of the pre-Silurian (our pre-Cambrian) were found not to be abudant, and diverse, that that would argue against his theory. He thought that it was possible that the fossils might have been lost. The fact that they’ve been found–and found to have, geologically speaking, ‘exploded’, is an argument against his theory. If Darwin were alive today, based on what we now know, he wouldn’t be a Darwinist.

  23. 23
    Strangelove says:

    PaV: “The fact that the fossil record records basically ’statis’ is an argument against variability.”

    The fossil record definitly does not record “stasis.” The little smaller/simpler fossils are beneath the bigger and more complex fossils, with an almost continuous increase in complexity.

    PaV: “The fact that so many phyla appeared in so short a time is an argument against slow, gradual, evolution.”

    The estimates for the length of the “Cambrian Explosion” vary from 5 to 40 million years, lets say it’s 10 million years for the sake of argument. Many factors lead to a higher rate of evolution during this time period: the emergence of predators, higher amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere, a receding global ice age, etc. Now, with 10,000,000 years and plenty of new conditions and niches, it’s not suprising that the diversity of life exploded during this period. In fact, only the creationists seem to be suprised by it.

    PaV: “Darwin himself wrote that if the fossils of the pre-Silurian (our pre-Cambrian) were found not to be abudant, and diverse, that that would argue against his theory. He thought that it was possible that the fossils might have been lost. The fact that they’ve been found–and found to have, geologically speaking, ‘exploded’, is an argument against his theory. If Darwin were alive today, based on what we now know, he wouldn’t be a Darwinist.”

    Darwin lived 150 years ago. What he finds to be problematic to his theory then is irrelevant today. Scientists today have 150 years of data and techniques that Darwin could not have forseen. How you are able to predict his reaction to such advances is beyond me.

  24. 24
    JasonTheGreek says:

    You seem to be saying that the record does show a steady gradual increase, but then you say the “Cambrian explosion” lasted over 10 million years. But, that would go against gradualism, as 10 million yrs is a tiny piece of time compared to the history of life. So, it is, indeed, an explosion.

    I’d say, even if the reasons listed were the reasons behind the explosion, it’s still a very small slice of time, which goes against gradualism, and it would be very surprising that all the major body plans appeared at the time in one small chunk of historical time. We could use the football field analogy and say that the history of life is the entire field, the explosion might take up a couple or few yards in the entire field. Even many Darwinists who mock ID and any related idea accept there was, in fact, an explosion. We can guess at what causes this so long ago, just as we can guess what caused an event 100 years ago, but let’s face it- we were due for another ice age a few decades ago, now we’re being told we’re due for catastrophe due to warming. We often, in science, can’t figure out 100 years in the past let alone 100 million years where we only have a lot of conjecture and not much solid evidence for any of these hunches.

    Why was there an explosion (even if we estimate it to 30 million years, that’s still a tiny slice of time)? – we’re not sure. The reasons you listed are guesses of why it took place, but there’s not much in the way of evidence to say anything definitively or anywhere near it.

  25. 25
    Scott says:

    I don’t give a rip what external pressures you impose upon organisms, you do not get novel cell, tissue & body plans without a substantial influx of specified information. And information proceeds from mind. So, what we observe in the Cambrian record demonstrates an influx of information which may or may not have taken it’s cues from external pressures.

    Darwinists need to realize that the core of life is an algorithmic program. This is what the data shows, like it or not. Anybody who denies this is hung up on chance-worshipping materialistic claptrap rooted in victorian mythology. The Cambrian was indeed an explosion and it wasn’t the result of blind Darwinian processes.

    “Got that? Write that down.” – JA Davison.

  26. 26
    Strangelove says:

    JasonTheGreek: “I’d say, even if the reasons listed were the reasons behind the explosion, it’s still a very small slice of time, which goes against gradualism, and it would be very surprising that all the major body plans appeared at the time in one small chunk of historical time.”

    You’re saying that 10MY isn’t enough time. That’s something you can back up. And until you do, I’m going to take the word of the scientists that study these things and do back up their claims.

    “We can guess at what causes this so long ago, just as we can guess what caused an event 100 years ago, but let’s face it- we were due for another ice age a few decades ago, now we’re being told we’re due for catastrophe due to warming.”

    I don’t know what this has to do with the climate, but since you brought it up… take a look at the hottest years on record (since 1880): http://www.ucsusa.org/global_w.....p2005.html. Don’t be alarmed though, I’m sure the data are just as biased as the scientists that measure it and the liberal media that sensationalizes it.

    Scott: “I don’t give a rip what external pressures you impose upon organisms, you do not get novel cell, tissue & body plans without a substantial influx of specified information. And information proceeds from mind. So, what we observe in the Cambrian record demonstrates an influx of information which may or may not have taken it’s cues from external pressures.”

    You’re correct in that external pressures only supply the selection part. Random mutation (according to the ToE) must supply the new information. Information does proceed from the mind, but the mind is not the sole originator of information.

    I found this cute demonstration of how random mutation can increase information in a population’s genetic code:

    [[[In Shannon information theory, the information content of a stream of bits is given by its entropy, defined as:

    H(X) = – sum over i of p(Xi)*log2(p(Xi))

    where X is the message, and Xi is the ith possible value of the message.

    Let’s start with a population of 1000 individuals. At a particular location in their DNA, 500 of these individuals have the sequence “AAAA” and 500 have the sequence “CCCC”. How much information does this sequence contain?

    From the definition above, we see that p(AAAA) = 0.5 and p(CCCC) = 0.5. So H = -(0.5*log2(0.5) – 0.5*log2(0.5)) = 1.000.

    Now let’s suppose that a mutation has occurred, and we now have 500 individuals with “AAAA”, 499 individuals with “CCCC”, and one mutant with “CCCT”. What is the information content now?

    p(AAAA) * log2(p(AAAA)) = 0.50000
    p(CCCC) * log2(p(CCCC)) = 0.50044
    p(CCCT) * log2(p(CCCT)) = 0.00997

    Thus H = -(0.50000 + 0.50044 + 0.00997) = 1.01041

    So the mutation has added 0.01041 bits of information to the genetic pool. ]]] Source: http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Information

    That new information did not stem from any mind. Its source was random mutation.

    The questions to ask are: “Was there enough time to mutate all of the new information that happened in the Cambrian?”

  27. 27
    Patrick says:

    Strangelove,

    A Friendly Warning: Show us how to generate CSI randomly or stop making such arguments. Seriously.

    I’m fairly leniant as a moderator but if Bill notices your last post he’s likely to roll his eyes and then bounce you:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....oderation/

    (1) Thou shalt not be boring, and the person you least want to bore is me. In particular, I’ve been at this game for about fifteen years now, so I’ve seen most of the objections. Don’t repeat what I likely have already seen (for an overview of the sorts of objections I’ve seen and handled, consult my book The Design Revolution).

  28. 28
    Strangelove says:

    Patrick, you are correct, my argument was not against CSI. I was merely trying to demonstrate how under Shannon’s information definition, information (in general) can be increased through random mutation. I apologize if it was found to be boring. But, at least it wasn’t too long. I’ll try to keep things more lively.

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