Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability–Don Johnson

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Don Johnson (PhD in Computer Science from Univ. Minnesota, another PhD in Chemistry from Michigan State) has just published a pro-ID book, “Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability: A Call to Scientific Integrity”
amazon.com link here .

My question to readers: how many scientists have to reject Darwinism before there is a “scientific controversy”?

Oops my bad. Now I know. Ya see David you can teach me something. Joseph
Joseph, FYI, Oloffson and olegt are different people. David Kellogg
Prof. Peter Oloffson who says we never use statistics correctly.
oleg has been busy getting schooled on context (that is he doesn't seem to be able to understand that the context of an argument is very important): destructing oleg Joseph
The problem, Clive, is that the scientific community is going to be reading the scientific literature for scientific information, not books written for the general public. At least, that's been my experience. Adel DiBagno
skeech, "If the ideas behind ID are sound, they will eventually catch on with the scientific community — but only with exposure." There are plenty of books on ID that serve this purpose. Clive Hayden
I've often wondered why ID supporters don't set up a website to serve as a central archive for ID papers that have been rejected by mainstream peer-reviewed journals. Many people would visit such a site out of curiosity and to see for themselves whether the rejections were warranted. Rejection by a peer-reviewed journal is no reason not to publish on the Web. If the ideas behind ID are sound, they will eventually catch on with the scientific community -- but only with exposure. Complaining endlessly about the dogmatic Darwinian establishment may be cathartic for IDers, but it does nothing to advance the cause of ID as science. skeech plus
Thank you for your answer, Don. Clearly a robust model that addresses the current criticisms of the improbability arguments and provides evidence from your research that shows how your argument applies would meet the standard that peer review sets. There's really no reason not to do the research necessary to write such a paper. The risk of failing to submit your work to peer review is that you make great claims that turn out to fail in the way Pons and Fleischmann failed because they were too eager to think they had discovered something that they had not. Fighting the establishment is the norm for all new discoveries. Some of the skepticism is that of crotchety old men. Some is that the new discovery undermines someone else's work, as happened with Barry Marshall and Robin Warren when they were working on H. pylori as the cause of peptic ulcers. You cannot know that your work is being done properly unless you are willing to subject it to criticism and peer review publication and testing of research results is the best method of criticism we have available today. I urge you to write a paper for peer review. freelunch
As I point out in PN&NP, publishing ID-friendly material in "normal" peer-reviewed channels is extremely difficult as the reviewers don't consider ID science. PN&NP was reviewed by scientific peers (not all of which I personally know and not all of which were ID-friendly) who I believed would be able to give honest input on the scientific merit of the book. Some of the material was presented as a peer-reviewed poster at the 2004 International Conference on Bioinformatics: "Data and Information: Effect of Bioinformatics on Traditional Biology", whose abstract is: "The Differences between random data and information are examined. The results of a computer simulation are shown, using a two-bit code to represent the ACGT digits of life. It is demonstrated that the probability is vanishingly small that the information contained in living systems is the result of random processes. It is widely acknowledged by investigators who study information that chance has no causative effect and cannot produce information. This will be highlighted in a number of areas such as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, lotteries, self-replicating programs, and complexity theory. The incredibly complicated digital information that is the focus of Bioinformatics will raise doubts as to the role of chance in evolutionary biology. The validity of several major assumptions will be examined, such as Dawkins’ statement that “Each successive change in the gradual evolutionary process was simple enough, relative to its predecessor, to have arisen by chance. (The Blind Watchmaker)” Does Bioinformatics support traditional biological views, or will it point in new directions, perhaps proposing other mechanisms for possible testing? Bioinformatics has much to say about the exquisite information in the macromolecules that form life, the repeated patterns, homologues, and gene sequences. What, if anything, does it have to say in regard to biology’s unanswered questions?" I was surprised by the relatively good reception that this ID-friendly presentation had, with about a third of those expressing an opinion agreeing with ID as being the best scenario, and about a third disagreeing (the other third said something like "that's interesting, I never thought about that before"). It seems that the scientists who are actually investigating the information of life are more willing to consider scenarios other than undirected naturalism. dej
My question to readers: how many scientists have to reject Darwinism before there is a “scientific controversy”? Why not throw in another, who by necessity did not reject Darwinism, but believed in ID and was the second greatest biologist of all time, Carl Linnaeus. ID was the top dog in biological theory for a long time. It's not the oppressed upstart, it's the old champ beaten fair and square by the young challenger. I've read the FAQ on frequent arguments against ID and what you need are not more scientists, what you need is a good theory. According to the FAQ, “Intelligent Design is . . . a scientific investigation into how patterns exhibited by finite arrangements of matter can signify intelligence.” While a good goal, this line of study poses no logical problem for evolutionary theory. It can't at this stage, or at any stage in the foreseeable future have much bearing at all on biology. And yet ID proponents seem to be aimed quixotically at evolution. The highpoint of ID theory still seems to be irreducible complexity, an idea so riddled with logical holes that it was dead on arrival, which was years ago. Goran
freelunch, what's the point of having DJ work peer reviewed by publications that are hostile to ID as science? IMO, one of the goals of ID 'movement' (if we can call it that) is to break the strangle hold peer review has on publication. I think peer review is a good 'ole boy's network and should be discouraged as a prerequisite to publishing. Oramus
jerry, good points. i agree that too much pizazz will distract. I am thinking more of an attention grabber on the main page. an animated flagella in color on the main page header will definitely attract. Got that idea from the virtual cell video another poster here mentioned the other day. I work in the textile industry and have seen lots of retail sites that have great graphics. Lots of cool stuff from Nike and Adidas. I just ran by the website "reasons to believe'. They have started using flash. but as you 'predicted', they made it too cluttery. The team revolving when you pass over a member with yr mouse is a good touch. The rest can be dropped I agree. A bit o' flash, lots of functionality, the right color scheme, and good formatting. If DJ gets the mix right, it'll help increase traffic IMO. Oramus
Did Johnson write a scientific paper about this from which he adapted the book or did he choose to avoid having his thesis critiqued by those who best understand it? freelunch
David - You said: "Most self-published books since without a ripple." This is true of all books, not specifically self-published ones. CannuckianYankee - Actually the book is fully open-sourced. So I'm not just giving away the PDF, anyone has the right to republish it in any format. One enterprising person even turned it into a blog on Blogger. Someone else turned it into a wiki. I think a few people at least made preliminary translations. Open Source is very powerful. johnnyb
Oramus, I am not sure I agree with you. The number 1 site for internet courses on internet and graphical techniques is www.lynda.com And their site is fairly cluttered and plain. They recently added a small flash video on the home page to list the courses they offer but in general their site is vanilla and lots of options. The second most popular internet site on internet and graphic courses is www.vtc.com and their site is even plainer. On each you can learn Flash, After Effects, 3DMax, Carrara, Maya and other animation techniques So these cutting edge sites on the teaching of graphics, use almost no fancy graphics but they are easy to use and to find what you want. Amazon is another site that is plain but very cluttered but very functional. I would look for functionality and graphics that make it easier to understand how to learn about the product and too much moving elements distract. If there are any graphics or charts from the book then I would put a few of them on the site as illustrative of what is in the book. The two main graphics should be linked to a pop up with more details about them and about how it will be discussed in the book. Each of the chapter heading should be linked to a pop up about the contents of the chapter and if there are any visuals or graphs in the chapter. For example, Link 4. Life - link to a short paragraph describing the chapter and maybe a graphic or list of some topics that will be covered. If you used InDesign or Quark, then take the paragraph headings and put them along with a graphic into the pop up. This could be done with each of the 9 chapters and then use your access log stats to assess which are the most visited parts of the site and where they are coming from. You can use google adwords for a couple months to see if this can generate traffic and lead to sales to cover the cost of the advertising. I would concentrate more on the functionality of the site rather than the pizazz of moving graphics. jerry
One last suggestion. the science integrity site is boreing. The color scheme is wrong. Also, you really oughta add Adobe flash player content. Make the flagella 'real' and give it motion. Make the DNA strand 'float'. These changes will do wonders to attract attention and get people in the door. Also, the formatting is too plain. Hey, aren't there some good programmers commenting here? How's about helping Dr. Johnson make the Science Integrity site come alive?? Everyone pitches in a few lines of code. Note I've no connection whatsoever. Jus' a cheerleading lurker, watching ID come alive. "ID waxing, ND waning." Oramus
Dr. Johnson, FYI, there's a typo on the science integrity site. http://site.scienceintegrity.com/Services.html The last header should read "Advisor on Intelligent Design". There was an 'l' inadvertanly added to the beginning of the word intelligent. Oramus
Dr. Johnson, Not sure if you are marketing savvy or not. Working with UD is a great first step but don't stop here. Make sure you get facebook and youtube pages and set up your own blog with numerous link. You're in the door, now the real work starts. Fantastic!!! Oramus
Since the establishment isn't receptive to ID, I am attempting to get the book into students' hands without making a profit. The Acknowledgements page states: "Tax deductible donations to make this book (ISBN 1-4392-2862-0) available to students may be made at http://www.ideacenter.org/membership/donation.php specifying "PN&NP books". Students affiliated with the IDEA Center will receive free copies as long as donations are received to cover my actual costs. I could make a similar arrangement with other educational promoters that agree not to charge the book recipients. I have no plans to distribute a PDF version at this point. dej
johnnyb: " Mine was required reading in Princeton’s Computer Science department for a number of years." And I noticed from the Amazon comment section that you're giving it away free in PDF format. Is that right? CannuckianYankee
scordova: "By the way, Don Johnson was also the star of the TV series Miami Vice." Really? You know you actually made me research this before I realized that you were pulling our legs. CannuckianYankee
There has never been a controversy. Darwnism has been rejected countless times by the finest minds of the post Darwinian era. Here are the principle ones in chronological order St. George Mivart, 1871, "Genesis of Species." Henry Fairfield Osborn, 1909, "Fifty years of Darwinism." William Bateson, 1913, "Problems of Genetics." Reginald C. Punnett, 1915, "Mimicry in Butterflies." Leo Berg, 1922, "Nomogenesis." Richard B. Goldschmidt, 1940, "The Material Basis of Evolution" "Otto Schindewolf, 1950 "Basic Questions in Paleontolgy." Robert Broom, 1950, "Finding the Missing Link." Pierre Grasse, 1973, "Evolution of Living Organisms." You will be lucky if you find these works even mentioned in the several meters of shelf space occupied by the books by Stephen J. Gould, Richard Dawkins, Ernst Mayr, William Provine or any of the other many proponents of the Darwinian hoax. The cowardly Darwinian mystics have always pretended that they have no critics and never did have. They still do. "They can run but they can't hide." Joe Louis Henry Fairfield Osborn JohnADavison
jerry [9], in another thread I posted a few thoughts on self-publishing. It's easier today than it used to be with Print on Demand. I imagine that's BookSurge's approach. Still, an author has to identify and flog a market to get any response. Most bookstores won't carry self-published books except on consignment, and most reviewers won't review them either. Since Amazon's at once publisher, vendor, and distributor, they've taken care of some of these issues -- but not the question of legitimacy. Most self-published books since without a ripple. David Kellogg
Dr. Johnson, I just ordered your book. You should come here when we have our resident statistician skeptic, Prof. Peter Oloffson who says we never use statistics correctly. I look forward to what you have to say. jerry
If you want to make money off a book, self publishing is the way to go if there is a market for the book. The secondary benefit of the book is potential consulting or speaking engagements. I helped a friend get his book published using just a local printer and he sold 2,000 copies and made about $20,000 on the book which amounted to minimum wage considering all the hours spent developing the book. But what it did for him was get him speaking engagements all over Europe and additional fees as a consultant for major sports organization in several countries. He went from relative obscurity to a known quantity on every continent. But that was because his book was good and word of mouth spread quickly in the competitive arena of high level sports. jerry
None of the mainline science book publishers that I contacted was interested in publishing my Probability's Nature and Nature's Probability book. They claim there isn't a market for it or it is outside their market, but I suspect they don't want to ruffle the feathers of mainline science by even considering publishing an ID-friendly book (they didn't even send it to reviewers). I decided to self-publish since I feel strongly that the message needs to reach the public (and maybe some scientists, for whom it was written). The best I could do with the current bias against ID was to have informal peer reviewing by real scientists from several disciplines (biology, computer science, medicine, mathematics, and physics), with instructions to be more critical than normal, as I want the end result to be as bullet-proof as possible. For example, an evolutionary biologist read it and wrote "I could find nothing wrong in your logic or in the way that the biological data were presented. I think the book should be a must read for any course on evolutionary biology." This positive review surprised me as he had expressed skepticism about ID when I visited his home. Several endorsements are on the book’s back cover, which hopefully will cause a few scientists to at least look at the book. See http://site.scienceintegrity.com/Services.html for a more detailed description of the book. dej
gtk - I don't think there's a particular reason to not read self-published books. Mine was required reading in Princeton's Computer Science department for a number of years. With a traditional press, you have to split your profits among a number of people, and the author is lucky to get $1 per book. I get between $8 and $18 for mine, depending on the channel it gets purchased through. johnnyb
I generally don't read self-published books, and for better or worse Johnson's book is under BookSurge, Amazon's vanity press. gtk
Dr. Sewell, Have you finished reading the book yet? One of the things I have been doing for the last couple days is trying to find past threads on the use of probability arguments to counter the cumulative selection thesis of Dawkins. That is their last chance to counter the improbable events that they said led to life and to evolution. Does Johnson address the step approach argument that the Darwinists resort to? An aside. The Amazon site has one review, 5 star. How long before the drones who won't read it start putting up 1 star reviews. jerry
I've read it was the same way with Einstein's relativity. The old guard had to retire in order for it to become officially recognized. jjcassidy
Thanks for the good news!!! I just bought the book on your recommendation. The book is still rated 5 stars, but I predict it will be a week before John Kwak tries to give it a 1-star review at Amazon before he even reads it. By the way, Don Johnson was also the star of the TV series Miami Vice. scordova
The reason/science/argument is something we won, and this is easily shown by the methods now employed against us which are almost exclusively politics and propaganda. tribune7
How many scientists have to reject Darwinism before there is a "scientific controversy"? I'm afraid that no number will ever suffice. The old guard will have to die off before reason and evidence prevail, at least in the academy, public education, and the mainstream media, where suppression of dissent and hostility toward challenges to Darwinian dogma are nearly universal. The probabilistic hurdles are key. Even when making grossly unrealistically optimistic assumptions, the improbabilities become so large so quickly that they must be represented in orders of magnitude expressed in orders of magnitude. GilDodgen

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