Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

What’s New At UD

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Before I say anything else, I want to take a moment to honor Bill Dembski.  That this site exists at all is a tribute to his foresight, and its stature as one of the premier ID forums in the world speaks to his dedication and tireless efforts.  When I say “tireless,” I mean it quite literally.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked the “sent” line in one of his emails, only to see that he dashed it off at 2:00 AM or some other outrageously late (or is it early?) hour.  Bill, thank you for all have done, for all you are doing, and for all you will doubtless continue to do, both here at UD and in your research ventures.

With this change of the guard, what can UD readers expect in the weeks and months ahead?  First, let me say what will not change.  I am very happy to report that DaveScot will be staying on as our primary moderator.  Also, all of our previous contributors, including Dr. Dembski, are staying on, and we can look forward to many more excellent and informative posts from them.  Finally, at the present time we have no plans to change the overall “look and feel” of the site.

So what is changing?

First, we have a fantastic new webmaster who has already devoted a great deal of time to improving the technical aspects of the site (e.g., WordPress functionality).  Secondly, we have established a non-profit corporation to take ownership of the site.  Thirdly, we have embedded a Paypal contribution link and an Amazon “click through” function, and we will soon be adding a Google Ad in our sidebar.

Older readers might say, “This site has always been free.  Why have you installed these revenue generators now?”  That is a good question, and let me assure you that the site will continue to be absolutely free.  Clicking on the Paypal, Amazon, or Google links is, and will be, strictly voluntary.  Nevertheless, we hope our readers – if they find this site valuable – will help us financially so that we can improve the quality of the product we deliver to the internet ID community.  We will use the funds not to get rich (it is after all, a “non-profit” corporation), but to make further technical improvements to the site and (this is the exciting part to me) to commission scholarly articles for original publication right here at UD!

As for the day-to-day business here at UD, I don’t think you’ll see any huge changes at first.  We have decided to loosen our moderation policy somewhat.  Trolls and abusive commenters will continue to get the boot – we have no interest in allowing this site to degenerate into an obscene PT-style free-for-all.  On the other hand, we want to encourage all commenters who come to us in good faith and respectfully, even if (or perhaps “especially if”) they disagree with us or exasperate us by requiring us to squash the stupid “who designed the designer” argument for the 10,000th time.

We live in exciting times.  The Darwinist/materialist hegemony over our culture has definitely peaked, and we are privileged to watch the initial tremors that are shaking the Darwinist house of cards.  These are only the beginning of woes for St. Charles’ disciples, and I look forward to one day watching the entire rotten edifice come crashing down.  I am persuaded that just as when the Soviet Union went seemingly overnight from “menacing colossus astride the globe” to “non-existent,” the final crash of the House of Darwin will happen with astonishing suddenness.  You can be sure that we at UD will be there not only reporting on events, but also lending our intellectual pry bars to the effort.

Best regards to all,

Barry Arrington

Thanks to everyone above who wrote kind words on my behalf. I'm back. Congratulations to Mr. Arrington on his appointment. I look forward to the new era of UD. T. Timaeus
Moderation is a completely thankless task. If you go too easy, you invite a free for all; if you strike too soon, you inhibit free expression. Dave had to walk that tightrope daily. If you want to find out how hard it is to make delicate judgment calls, just try umpiring a baseball game sometime. Nothing can make you humbler faster than realizing that the outcome of a game can turn on your fallible judgment. No moderator will ever get it perfect. He will always err either on the side of being too tough or being too lenient. One of the toughest calls of all consists in judging a commentator’s sincerity and capacity to finally respond to a reasoned argument. On many occasions Dave has had to remove from the roster some misguided soul who simply could not or would not reason in the abstract. These people can turn an otherwise intelligent discussion into a remedial seminar on basic logic. Another challenge consists in differentiating between an uninformed religious proselytizer, who will compromise ID’s reputation, and an informed philosopher of religion, who will enhance it. While this issue must be critically evaluated, it is possible to go overboard. Some here suffer from what I call “Dover anxiety.” They fear that too much religious commentary will cause our enemies to say, “Aha, see what I mean! Those ID people really are a bunch of mindless creationists.” What they don’t realize is that our adversaries have nothing else going for them. They wouldn’t give up that tack even if we were all Anthony Flew clones. For them, A Dembski-like foray into the intersection of science and theology is indistinguishable from an altar call. So, while we must guard against introducing God at every turn, we should not, at the same time, expel God from the discussion. From the standpoint of moderation policy, anyone who knows anything about statistical distributions knows about central tendencies and extremes. To lower the odds that an innocent man will be found guilty, our court system, for example, was designed to err on the side of allowing guilty men to go free. Given the reality of human error, it’s a trade off that cannot be avoided. Still, once in a while, an innocent man get’s convicted. That same phenomenon can manifest itself in the moderation policy. Once in a while, we will ban an exceptionally good blogger, such as Timeaus. This is one problem that should be rectified immediately. Other than that, I agree that this is the premiere website for intelligent design, and Dave Scot helped make it that way. StephenB
jerry, I am in no way against Jack Krebs' readmittance. I just meant that I don't miss him... gpuccio
Jack Krebs, Ted Davis, and Timaeus all struck me as very polite - not to mention, quite a lot of common ground was had. I'd love to see them return. TE and ID interaction has a lot of great potential, in my opinion. I trusted the UD admin in the past, no sense not trusting them now. nullasalus
gpuccio, I rarely agree with Jack Krebs but he has always been polite even when he was being attacked. He is also a window to some of the politics in this debate. jerry
Timaeus?: Absolutely! I badly miss him. Jack Krebs? As you like... gpuccio
Jerry, Timaeus? Agreed! Upright BiPed
Congratulations Barry. I look forward to much more from UD, and of course, all the very best to Bill Dembski. (note: far be it for me to say...but I noticed a new feature with access to ID books...I see that Berlinski's Devils Delusion is not among them. That would be a terrible oversight, IMO). Upright BiPed
In the interest of loosening the moderation rules of people banned here, I suggest we invite back some of the TE's we have banned here from ASA and Jack Krebs. We should especially invite back Timaeus who has for the past 6 weeks been discussing ID in a positive way on ASA after he was banned here. jerry
Personally I'm glad to see that Bill is focusing entirely on research instead of UD. I mean, we all only have a certain amount of time in a day, so what's it going to be: research or internet blogging? I imagine that the time constraints of his teaching position played a role in this decision. Personally, I barely write front page posts but I've found that just administrating UD eats up enough of my time. Patrick
I’d love to see the standards remain high - cracking down on sarcasm, insults...
Agreed. But the issue as I see it has not been high standards, but inconsistency in how they’re applied. Given Barry’s background, I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. Generally, those who sit on the bench at UD have kept counsel and witnesses for the prosecution on a pretty short leash, while the defense has been given broad latitude. Sarcasm and insults directed at Dawkins, for example, are typically applauded and guffawed—but better never take a swipe at Dembski. The point is NOT to defend Dawkins or to encourage jabs at Dembski. The point is that the ad-hominem fallacy is still just as invalid, regardless of which side of the ideological aisle the attacker happens to be sitting on. And, of course, that resorting to this kind of tactic only weakens the position of the person who employs it. Welcome Barry. SteveB
Insults, whining - out with them! "Gimmicks"? - not sure what you mean. Is sarcasm so bad? I should have thought it a useful rhetorical tool, and I'm pretty sure DaveScot, for instance, has used it in the past, although I'm open to correction on this.(and I don't criticize him for it) I think the point is this. If you want traffic on the site, then it's perhaps a good idea to have the reputation for hosting lively and interesting posts. If you are too intolerant of the ways in which others might express themselves, they won't bother to post. If they don't come here, they can't read YOUR points, and they can't click thru the ads to give UD a bit of income. In the real world, people ARE sometimes rude and sarcastic. ID proponents have to deal with the real world as is, not pretend that rude and sarcastic people have no right to have an opinion There are evolution/anti-evolution discussion fora all over the Internet. Some are not worth bothering with - but some are interesting, entertaining and lively and attract many participants and lurkers. Maybe UD could become a place where ID can actually be seen to win some arguments without "disenfranchising" its opponents. damitall
Let me voice the opposite opinion: Whatever the moderation policy is, I'd love to see the standards remain high - cracking down on sarcasm, insults, whining, and obvious gimmicks. I've been warned about my posts here in the past - and gladly, quickly amended what I needed to when asked. Whatever complaints people may have about the moderation policy, I prefer it to every OP devolving into the perpetual third party turf wars that just about every site falls prey to. nullasalus
I shall be interested to see how UD fares under the new regime. If I might be so respectfully bold, perhaps less sycophancy and less readiness to give the boot to those who look like winning an argument? I agree that trolls and the abusive can be well done without, but sometimes it looks as if there is a deliberate censorship policy. I'm not saying there IS one, mind, just that it sometimes looks that way Oh, and perhaps GilDodgen could provide a link or two to where "we got it right when the scientific consensus was totally against us" That would be quite useful damitall
I first got interested in this site because of the political posts that were somewhat frequent prior to the election. They've slowed up since then, but maybe there is a place for such posts in the "new" site. Oh, and DaveScot at #3: That is some funny stuff, my friend. Good work. feebish
Sounds like Dave you are the one testing the new administration. lol tragicmishap
Barry, I have really appreciated your introductory piece, especially the "honor Bill Dembski", "commission scholarly articles for original publication right here at UD", "loosen our moderation policy somewhat", and "final crash of the House of Darwin" parts. I am with you 100%, and I hope that UD will become ever more a fascinating place to debate fascinating ideas. Good work to you! gpuccio
I feel I must warn our supporters (there's no press in the back of the room is there?) that there is going to be a "generated" interbloggatory crisis early in Barry's term to test this new guy's mettle. Think of how JFK was tested in Cuba only different. Barry's response may not be popular and you may not understand it but, no matter how far we sink in the polls, we need to count on your continued trust and support. Now please donate until it hurts. It's patriotic. DaveScot
Hi Barry. Its nice to see that this website remains in good hands even as Dr. Dembski changes his focus. I am pleased to hear, "We have decided to loosen our moderation policy somewhat" as this has been my single biggest complaint with this site. I have watched other sites become too loose, and degrade to nothing. However, some PhD. biologists, Zachriel comes to mind, have been booted off of this site. I have found them to be mostly well-spoken, and have valued their dialog. I hope that a few of these guys are welcomed back. At the same time, however, I hope that these voices are balanced out by some strong pro-ID PhD biologists. Here's hopin'. bFast
A million thanks to Bill Dembski for all he's done, and thanks to you Barry for taking on this project and responsibility. In not too many years scientists and people in general will look back on the Darwinian chance-and-necessity hypothesis as an explanation for all of life and shake their heads in disbelief that it lasted as long as it did. With each new discovery, Darwinian speculation and storytelling become more fantastic and desperate in an attempt to explain away the obvious: living things really are the product of design. Those shaking their heads in disbelief can look back at articles and posts archived at UD and recognize that we got it right when the "scientific" consensus was totally against us. GilDodgen

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