Darwinian Debating Devices Darwinist rhetorical tactics Information Origin Of Life

Darwinian Debating Device #1: Jeffrey Shallit Style Ad Hominem

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A week or so ago, Cornelius Hunter referenced a paper by Christoph Adami titled “Information-theoretic considerations concerning the origin of life” available here.

Hunter cites the NewScientist article about Adami’s paper, “Chances of first life improved by weighted dice” and highlights in particular the remarkable statement: “Christoph Adami of Michigan State University in East Lansing decided to study the origin of life purely in terms of information theory, so he could ignore the chemistry involved.”

The article continues:

“[Adami] assumed that molecules must exceed a certain length in order to have enough information to self-replicate. These long molecules are made from different kinds of short molecules, called monomers.  Adami calculates that if you start with an equal number of each type of monomer, the odds of getting a self-replicating molecule are very low. But if you adjust the distribution of monomers in the environment to match the distribution within a potential self-replicator, the chances improve by many orders of magnitude.”

The idea of having the right proportion of monomers is certainly helpful to naturalistic abiogenesis theories – indeed, in my informal challenge to materialists over the years, I have even offered it as a given.  But it doesn’t get us anywhere in the real world due to the host of other insurmountable obstacles facing a naturalistic abiogenesis scenario.  Furthermore, Adami certainly didn’t demonstrate that there is any reason to expect the right proportion of monomers to exist in any particular prebiotic soup.  It is just assumed.

Then we have the hopelessly naïve Darwinian fairytale that follows.  Adami swoons at the awesome power of Natural Selection: “You only have to make this very first step, where you are getting some crappy replicator.  The moment evolution can actually work with it, you’re done.”  Sure you are.  That is just silly, even setting aside the daunting fact that no-one has ever been able to identify such a creature as that elusive “self-replicating molecule” Darwinists keep talking about.

So Hunter is right to point to Adami’s effort, well intentioned though it may be, as a “cartoon hypothesis” that skips over details and relies on sheer logical possibility, rather than practical reality.

One might even think that a committed Darwinist would also see the yawning weaknesses in Adami’s proposal and either acknowledge them or at least keep quiet.  But in the case of Jeffrey Shallit, one would be wrong.

Jeffrey Shallit is a professor in the Computer Science department at University of Waterloo and, by all accounts, is very capable and extremely knowledgeable in his field.  Certainly someone who is capable of focused and substantive critique.

So let’s see what keen insight and precision argumentation the Good Professor brings to the table.

Shallit jumps in with the first comment:

“It’s funny to see how allergic creationists are to genuine science. To anyone without an agenda, Adami’s paper is an interesting piece of work that is quite modest in its goals and conclusions.

I guess it must really gall you that Adami publishes in respected venues, gets his work written up in New Scientist, and has an active lab with many graduate students, while you’re stuck as an adjunct at a 5th-rate bible school.”

Shallit is right that Adami’s paper is indeed “quite modest.”  Certainly if we are talking about scientific content.  No disagreement there.  Indeed, Adami’s idea does virtually nothing for the OOL problem.  Hunter is quite right to pick it apart as another example of evolutionary storytelling – albeit with a bit of math thrown in.

But let’s assume for a moment that reasonable minds can differ on whether Adami’s paper is helpful in moving forward our understanding of abiogenesis.  Does Shallit offer any additional explanation or support on that front?  Does he carefully explain to Hunter, as a university professor should no doubt be able to do, where Hunter went wrong and why Adami’s proposal is useful?

Not at all.  Shallit’s comment consists of: (i) a kneejerk assertion that Adami’s paper is good science (albeit with modest goals and conclusions) and that those who criticize it must be creationists who are allergic to genuine science, and (ii) an insult about Hunter’s position as an adjunct professor at Biola University.  Not an impressive start.

But perhaps we should cut Shallit some slack with his first shot across the bow.  After all, we’ve all dashed off a too-hastily-written comment in a blog thread and then realized later we could have exercised a bit more temperance.  After a couple of other commenters point out Shallit’s failure to make any substantive critique, he has another chance.  Does he come back with any substantive response to either Hunter’s original post or to any of the commenters?  Unfortunately not.

Shallit (to date) has made 8 additional comments, consisting of the following:

1.         Insult.  “Typical creationist behavior” consists of “not knowing the literature.”

2.         Insult.  “I’m sorry your reading comprehension is so poor.”

3.         Bluff.  Claim that “we already know what ‘creates information’ [presumably some natural process that does not require intelligence] . . . You are welcome to attend my class CS 462 in the winter term, where we reveal the mysterious answer.  Hint: it’s not very mysterious, and we’ve known the answer for some time.”  As I pointed out, if Shallit’s bluff were true, he would be sitting on a Nobel Prize right now and would not be revealing the secret in some college computer science class.

4.         Insult.  [Shallit seems to be obsessed with the concept of “creationists”.]

5.         Insult.  “Biola is a laughingstock.”

6.         Appeal to authority.  [This one is at least based on substance (how rarely Behe and Dembski have been cited by evolutionary biologists (surprise!)), but misses the point and is essentially an appeal to authority, while unfortunately failing to provide any substantive critique.]

7.         Insult.  Insults Hunter’s blog.

8.         Insult.  Implies there is no such thing as an “honest creationist.”  [Boy, he is obsessed with “creationists,” isn’t he?]

None of Shallit’s comments address the substance of Hunter’s post or the substantive aspects of abiogenesis or the role of information in that process.  Funny that a well-versed computer science professor who knows a ton about information theory could not manage a single substantive comment on the very topic of the opening post.  Feel free to read through the thread here to get a small psychological sampling of his attitude and behavior.

To be sure, some of the other commenters were put off by Shallit’s behavior and made intemperate comments of their own, so perhaps we should give Shallit a bit of a break in terms of his comments.

But the thread nevertheless provides a remarkable window into the kind of arrogance and attitude that often accompanies the Darwinian paradigm.  Shallit is not alone by any means, but he provides just another live example of the kinds of debating tactics and rhetoric that are so often employed: bluffs, the near-paranoid circling of wagons to protect “science” against those evil “creationists,” appeals to authority.  All weighed down with a heavy dose of personal insults.

When Shallit suggested readers take his CS 462 course, I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world anyone would want to take a class from someone who is so biased and unprofessional.  But maybe the exchange on Hunter’s site is atypical.  Perhaps Shallit, in other contexts, is a wonderfully-engaging and capable instructor who is able to set aside his personal biases and approach the topic objectively.

Perhaps.  But as for today’s assignment, Professor, you received an “F”.

—–

UPDATE 2014-09-26 H/T Joe @34:

Shallit has responded briefly.  Shallit:

Believe it or not, they have a whole thread devoted to how horrible I am.

Nope. It is a thread devoted to failed Darwinist debating tactics, of which Shallit happens to be today’s Exhibit A. I’m not interested in how horrible he may be. I have granted that he is probably a wonderful guy in most contexts. I am simply pointing out — with specific examples — how an otherwise smart and wonderful guy can flail about and utterly fail when it comes to defending the sacred cow of materialistic evolution. I don’t intend to do any thread on how horrible Shallit is, nor do I have any particular interest in that. If he continues to make terrible arguments in support of materialistic evolution or against ID, however, I certainly might include those examples in a future thread.

My supposed “bluff” is my claim that we know what produces information. But it’s not a bluff. Ask any mathematician or computer scientist if they know how to produce information in the normally-understood (Kolgomorov) sense of the word, and the answer is easy. [Presumably he meant Kolmogorov, not Kolgomorov.]

Seriously? “Kolmogorov information”? If Shallit thinks that is the issue in question then he has no idea what is required for biology or living systems and has no idea what the topic is that is even under discussion.  I suspect that Shallit does know that Kolmogorov information is not the issue, but is perhaps hoping that he can slip it by his readers with the “information in the normally-understood sense of the word,” assertion.  Fortunately for those who actually follow the issues surrounding abiogenesis, it is clear that this is yet another bluff.

Any process generating truly random bits will generate strings with high Kolmogorov information with very very high probability.

Don’t expect creationists to understand this, however.

Again, missing the issue entirely. Shallit has either not read up on what is required for complex, functional, specified systems or he hasn’t understood what he has read. Hint: Kolmogorov information isn’t going to get you anywhere.  And no, it isn’t an answer to what Hunter pointed out on his blog.  And, no, it isn’t related to where Adami was trying to go, which is the paper that started this whole discussion.

Again, Shallit couples his lack of substance on the issue with an insult about “creationists.”

It is remarkable that you can point out, with detail, how someone’s debating approach fails and they keep right at it.

43 Replies to “Darwinian Debating Device #1: Jeffrey Shallit Style Ad Hominem

  1. 1
    Eric Anderson says:

    Note:

    I do not want this to turn into a Jeffrey Shallit bashing thread. If you have specific examples of his debating tactics — or other Darwinist debating tactics in general — they are welcome. However, please be specific and include citations, like I have provided. General complaints about what a mean and ornery person someone is (no matter how deeply or genuinely felt) are not helpful.

  2. 2
    Joe says:

    All evos use the same tactic, only the name changes. Theirs is a very Borg-like mentality, with the minions blindly parroting the party line.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eric,
    Substanceless sneering with a few ad hominems thrown appears to be Shallit’s specialty. I took him down for employing the same tactics here.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nd-grader/

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    It is good that Adami wants to,,,

    “study the origin of life purely in terms of information theory, so he could ignore the chemistry involved”

    ,,,as daunting as the chemistry involved is,,

    Experts pan quantum mechanical replication of Miller-Urey experiment – Sept. 19, 2014
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-515212

    ,, since Adami focusing on the origin of life issue ‘purely in terms of information theory’ casts the issue in stark relief, and highlights why the issue will NEVER be explained in ‘bottom up’ materialistic, neo-Darwinian, terms.
    Adami, and other materialists/atheists, believe that information is ’emergent’ from a material basis, but that simply is not so. Information is its own unique entity that is not reducible to a material basis. In fact, finding ‘non local’, beyond space and time, quantum information/entanglement in molecular biology on a massive scale, (in every DNA and protein molecule), directly falsifies neo-Darwinian claims that information is ’emergent’ from a material basis,,,

    ,,,”further evidence from physics that undermines any materialistic claim for explaining the information we find in life”,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-515182

    Thus, much contrary to what Adami imagines to be true, ignoring chemistry and simplifying the problem of the origin of life to ‘information theory’ actually makes it much easier for an ID proponent to falsify materialistic claims as to the origin of life (or anything else). i.e. To show the claims to be ‘impossible’!

    Verse and Music

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.

    Kutless: Promise of a Lifetime – Live
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wgA93WQWKE

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    What is most astonishing of all is that when Shallit gets caught, as he has here and in my prior post, he is utterly shameless and indeed doubles down.

  6. 6
    william spearshake says:

    Insult: “I had previously written you off as an uninformed scientific dilettante.”

    Insult: “Have you ever seen a petulant child cross his arms, get red in the face and stamp his feet? E.Seigner is acting like the petulant child in this thread, denying the self-evident.”
    Insult: “BWAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH”

    Insult”Your narrow and close-minded views, while entertaining, mean nothing.”

    Insult: “BTW obviously you have reading comprehension issues”

    Insult: “bogart, you crybaby.”

    Insult: “bogart, stop whining, man. You people are getting a taste of your own medicine. You deserve every drop. ”

    Insult: “I would go into a joyful frenzy, banning the enemy wherever they may be.”

    Insult: “Fools will not learn from their mistakes but rather return, like a dog to its vomit, to repeat them.”

    Insult: “Once again, you’re completely clueless.”

    Why don’t we just admit that there is bad behaviour on both sides?

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    willaim, most of the examples you cite are not insults. They are observations about behavior (accurate observations I would add). If you don’t want to be called a whiner you should stop whining. If E.Seigner does not want to be called petulant he should stop being petulant.

    I hope I have been helpful in explaining to you the difference between an insult and an observation.

    BTW, the first example you cite is out of context, because I then go on to note that you are in fact no such thing but are in fact highly credentialed in science. And I am gleeful about that, because if you are an example of their best and brightest, it makes my confidence soar.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Finally, william, there is actually a name for what you did in comment 6: Tu quoque. Look it up. You will find that it is an unhelpful informal logical fallacy.

  9. 9
    Eric Anderson says:

    Barry has a thread dealing with yet another of Shallit’s tactics:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-detector/

    I would describe what happened in that case as the tactic of employing semantic games to avoid addressing the substantive issue. Also a very common tactic we have seen too often.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    William Spearshake:

    Why don’t we just admit that there is bad behaviour on both sides?

    The reason is that there is not an equal amount of provocation involved. Most ID proponents on this site are very polite at the beginning of a dialogue and even after several obfuscations, evasions, and misrpresentations from the other side. Eventually, however, the time comes to start calling things by their right name. An ID proponent who tries to be honest and admit his mistakes is not the moral equivalent of an anti-ID partisan who will say anything–and I mean anything!!!–in a futile attempt to avoid a refutation. Accordingly, deserved insults are not comparable to undeserved insults, just as catching someone in a lie is not comparable to falsely accusing someone of same.

  11. 11
    Eric Anderson says:

    william @6:

    For my part, I would prefer to see fewer insults and name-calling from some regular posters here at UD. It is certainly too easy for any of us to descend to that approach with the anonymity and distance the internet offers.

    What was noteworthy to me in Shallit’s comments at Hunter’s blog is that he jumped right in with an immediate insult about Hunter’s academic position and a swipe at creationists, and it continued from there. Here is someone who — by his own assertion — knows the answers to “mysterious” questions about information (and, presumably, how information relates to living systems), yet he can’t be bothered to compose a single rational, thoughtful comment on a thread that deals with the very topic in question. Instead it is bluff, bluster, and acrimony. If he had made only one snide remark, or if he had followed up his initial inappropriate comment with some substance from the field he claims to be an expert in, I would have dismissed his initial shot across the bow as a temporary lapse and would never have started this thread. But it seems to go much deeper than that, and bears examination.

    I don’t know all the context for the insults you cite in #6 above. No doubt some were undeserved; perhaps most of them. Perhaps others came in a moment of frustration over the obduracy and intractability (another common Darwinist debating tactic — digging in the heels in the face of evidence) of the other commenter. That does not necessarily excuse the insult, but it is a different situation from what we saw Shallit do on Hunter’s blog.

    Yes, there is bad behavior on both sides (including one or two repeat offenders on the ID side). My observation, however, has been that this is far from an equal problem. A quick visit to Panda’s Thumb or similar sites will reveal that abusive tactics and language are not just occasional, but rampant among the enlightened materialists.

    In addition, the way the whole debate plays out makes this kind of behavior more prevalent on one side than the other. ID proponents are, for the most part, genuinely interested in understanding how design and evolution work together, and they recognize and accept certain aspects of evolutionary theory that are well supported. In contrast, the committed materialists cannot countenance even one single instance of purposeful design in the universe or the history of life on earth. Theirs is an all-or-nothing, take-no-prisoners, no-holds-barred approach. Any contrary observation is dismissed; any questioning of the evolutionary storyline is assumed to be nefarious; any suggestion of incompleteness is taken as an affront; any skeptical thought is regarded as “anti-science.” This leads to a “behind the bunkers” mentality that unfortunately rears its head over and over in ugly debating tactics. I can’t count how many times an ID proponent has carefully laid out his case, thoughtfully, objectively, without emotion, only to be attacked as a rube, as “anti-science,” as a “creationist in a cheap tuxedo.”

    So, yes, there is bad behavior on both sides. It is occasional (though unfortunate) on the ID front. But it is rampant and pervasive (and part of the general modus operandi in many cases) on the anti-ID side.

    Finally, regardless of anyone else’s behavior, I think there is something surprising, even highly revealing, about the behavior of someone like Shallit who holds a public position at a university and claims to be knowledgeable in the field. Maybe human nature is such that we shouldn’t expect any different, but we would hope that someone in that position might be interested in conveying a basic level of professionalism and civility that would reflect positively on his profession and the university. Unfortunately, all too often that rationality goes out the window when the sacred cow of materialism is challenged and all restraint seems lost.

  12. 12
    william spearshake says:

    StephenB

    Most ID proponents on this site are very polite at the beginning of a dialogue and even after several obfuscations, evasions, and misrpresentations from the other side.

    I have never stated otherwise. In fact, I believe that I have stated that most commenters are courteous and civil. But there are some glaring and obvious exceptions.

    But the tone of comments is often established by example. When OPS are titled and written as derogatpry, or insults, or demeaning, rather than legitimate argument, it is obvious that dissenting comments are not going to be treated with the same respect that supporting comments will. For example, here are the titles of just a few recent articles:

    Darwinian Debating Devices: Fail Files 2014-09 – Jeffrey Shallit

    Another Day; Another Bad Day for Darwinism

    What do Materialism and Santa Claus Have in Common?

    Silver Asiatic’s Merry-Go-Round

    PZ Myers: Vestigial means “reduced in size or utility compared to homologous organs in other animals” Huh?

    I’m not saying that some of these did not have some good points, but they do not do any service to the ID proponents.

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    ‘But the tone of comments is often established by example. When OPS are titled and written as derogatpry, or insults, or demeaning, rather than legitimate argument, it is obvious that dissenting comments are not going to be treated with the same respect that supporting comments will. For example, here are the titles of just a few recent articles:’

    [proffered examples]

    ‘I’m not saying that some of these did not have some good points, but they do not do any service to the ID proponents.’

    Oh, but they do, William. ID proponents know that your people are ultimately not open to reason, although the leading lights here, at least, usually have the patience to argue with you, (at least until your trollish behaviour, as per this thread, goes off the dial.) This, mark you,,despite realizing that they are being jerked around by nit-wits.

    You see, it helps enormously to have truth on your side, as it makes it possible to be mordantly derisive and satirical in ways that makes perfect sense.

    On the other hand, if you do not have truth on your side, you are always going to be on the back foot, TRYING to be derisive and satirical, but with the net effect of spewing vapid insults, all too readily seen as simply infantile rancour.

  14. 14
    Eric Anderson says:

    william, you are going to have to do a lot better than pointing to some OP titles to make the point that no legitimate argument is involved. I haven’t read all those threads in detail, but presumably they had some legitimate argument behind the titles, contrary to your insinuation. As for the current thread (which I can comment on) — a thread in which, by the way, you are obviously being allowed to make contrary remarks — I outlined my analysis of Shallit’s approach with detailed specifics and I stand by the only rational conclusion that Shallit’s behavior on Hunter’s blog left much to be desired. I don’t think I have ever snipped or cut or deleted a single comment on any of my threads, but if Shallit showed up on one of my threads with that attitude, I very well might show him the door. Hunter is to be commended for allowing Shallit to keep posting.

    Again, maybe Shallit was having a bad day and is generally a nice guy (although his response to Barry on the other thread puts that into question), but his behavior was in very poor taste, did not reflect well on his profession or his institution, is similar to the tactics we have seen all too often from Darwinists, and deserves to be chronicled and put front and center for people to see what we are dealing with.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Axel @ 13. This comment needs to be written in calligraphy on parchment and framed:

    You see, it helps enormously to have truth on your side, as it makes it possible to be mordantly derisive and satirical in ways that makes perfect sense.

    On the other hand, if you do not have truth on your side, you are always going to be on the back foot, TRYING to be derisive and satirical, but with the net effect of spewing vapid insults, all too readily seen as simply infantile rancour.

  16. 16
    Axel says:

    Thank you very much, Barry!

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    Eric @11

    ‘What was noteworthy to me in Shallit’s comments at Hunter’s blog is that he jumped right in with an immediate insult about Hunter’s academic position….’

    You owe me a new keyboard, Eric! Now, ROFL. The idea of his implicitly attempting to impugn Hunter’s intelligence….. Hunter would eat Shallit for breakfast! And still have room for Myers and Uncle Tom Cobley.

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Axel @ 17. The irony of Shallit, a second rate thinker (as demonstrated in at least four posts concerning ID that I know of), insulting the intelligence of a first rate thinker (Hunter) has not escaped me.

  19. 19
    william spearshake says:

    Barry: “The irony of Shallit, a second rate thinker”

    Was this an insult? Given your loose definition I have a hard time distinguishing an insult from an observation. Would terms like pompous and arrogant be an insult or an astute observation? I just want to make sure that I don’t cross the line.

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    WS at 19:

    Let me give you an example and maybe that will help you figure it out. In comment 7 to my other thread you were being intentionally obscurantist. In comment 12 I noted you were guilty of obscurantism. That was not an insult. It was an observation. Got it now?

  21. 21
    Axel says:

    I wouldn’t have thought it would, Barry!

    William @19

    Is it factual, though William? That’s the thing.

    Pompous? Arrogant? Maybe you wish Barry to be justly so described a little too much, while the the point itself is just as I imputed to y’all – a very plain, meat and potatoes rancour, with no vestige of reason or wit to commend it.

    And most damningly, to your detriment, Barry actually cited hallmarks of a second-rate thinker that Shallit had evinced! You have learn nothing from this little colloquy of ours. That is truly a shame.

    I did wonder if his eulogy of your accreditations might have been a bit overly fulsome.

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    .. and I speak rather confusingly, as a military peer of both Duane Doberman and Hunter S Thompson: all three of us, Privates (mutatis mutandis) 2nd Class.

  23. 23
    william spearshake says:

    Axel: “Pompous? Arrogant? Maybe you wish Barry to be justly so described a little too much, “

    You are the one who inferred these qualifiers in Barry, not me. Why?

  24. 24
    william spearshake says:

    Barry: “In comment 7 to my other thread you were being intentionally obscurantist. In comment 12 I noted you were guilty of obscurantism. That was not an insult. It was an observation.”

    But Barry, that is your opinion (declaration). How do I defend myself against a statement like that? When the moderator says that something is ‘obvious’, or ‘self evident’, that implies that discussion is not welcome. Yet you claim that dissenting opinions are welcome.

    When the moderator of a site sets this example, do you really think that dissenting views will be fairly treated?

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Who on earth is Jeffrey Shallit?

  26. 26
    william spearshake says:

    Mung: “Who on earth is Jeffrey Shallit?”

    Frankly, I had the same question. The only way Barry would find out about him is if he was typing his name “Barry Arrington” into Google.

    I’m sure that there is a word for that.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    OK WS I’ll bite. I could find out about Shallit by typing my own name into Google? What on earth are you talking about?

  28. 28
    william spearshake says:

    Barry: “OK WS I’ll bite. I could find out about Shallit by typing my own name into Google? What on earth are you talking about?”

    The big question is, why would you? Did you find his OP by googling “arguments against ID”, or, “evolutionists against ID”, or numerous other combinations? Before you answer, I tried every combination I could, other than Googling “Barry Arrington” and couldn’t find it.

    What search term did you use?

  29. 29
    Mung says:

    WS, Jeffrey Shallit responded to a blog post here.

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....e-not.html

    See the very first comment.

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    WS, oh I see. You are accusing me of being a narcissist.

    The answer is “none of the above.” FYI. I have known about Shallit for years and if you had followed the links in my other post you would have seen my taking him down last year. If you were a little more knowledgeable about the ID issue, you would know that Shallit has been attacking ID for many years. I found out about his current post when Dieb brought it to my attention in a comment.

    BTW, the assumptions in your comments are very consistent with my “you are a cynical and uncharitable little man” comment over at KF’s post.

  31. 31
    Box says:

    WS, mystery solved! Franklin in post #23 provided a link to Shallit’s article.

  32. 32
    Querius says:

    Great comments and observations! I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned here:

    1. Vials of Venomous Vituperation (TM) are considered “dissenting” views by ID opponents.

    2. Accusations against ID proponents require no supporting evidence as they are irrefutable proof in of themselves.

    3. The complete and utter destruction of the assertions made by a Darwinist, through logic, simple mathematics, quotations, and published papers simply proves to the Darwinist that they were right all along.

    4. When a Darwinist is exposed as an obvious fraud, misrepresenting their (as one of them put it) “credentials,” it constitutes an Unconscionable and Unprovoked Persecution against their Very Person(TM)!!! Nevermind that they contradicted themselves, couldn’t solve a simple math problem, or demonstrate any knowledge of their “research,” this outrage elevates them to the exalted position of VICTIM, which entitles them to all kinds of unending privileges and consideration, and guarantees their unchallenged entrance into heaven should there be one.

    5. The number of posts splattered against this blog by an ID opponent rises exponentially with the richly deserved humiliation that they suffer. Being Banned (TM) is the equivalent of being elevated to Catholic sainthood among the opponents of anything ID.

    6. ID proponents who dare expose them should expect an immediate flood of ad hominem reprisals as soon as the offended parties—those who actually bother to read what was written—finish looking up the long words.

    😉

    -Q

  33. 33
    the bystander says:

    As a bystander, I find both sides are insulting each other.

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    Little Jeffy has responded to Eric:

    Ask any mathematician or computer scientist if they know how to produce information in the normally-understood (Kolgomorov) sense of the word, and the answer is easy.

    Randomness.

    Any process generating truly random bits will generate strings with high Kolmogorov information with very very high probability.

    OK so conflate the definition of “information” and VOILA! randomness didit.

    BTW the normally understand meaning of “information” is not the “Kolgomorov sense of the word”. Even Shannon and Weaver knew better- as Weaver said:

    The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.- Warren Weaver, one of Shannon’s collaborators

    The ordinary use has information containing meaning. It is only in specific cases would someone say that information does not have any meaning.

    Let’s see randomness produce information in Crick’s biological sense of the word. Shallit will never do anything of the kind.

  35. 35
    Eric Anderson says:

    When I was thinking of a title for this post I purposely tried to come up with an alliteration, such as Darwinist Debating Devices, and Fail Files. (“Darwinist Debating Tactics” sounds better, but I wanted the alliteration.) Part of the reason is that I want to keep a similar title going forward for other examples I run across in the future, as something of a small series of examples (assuming I have time). I thought perhaps I could do a series of “Fail Files” and a series of something else less than “Fail,” so I wanted to include the “Fail Files” subtitle after DDD that would allow me to keep them organized.

    william has suggested that the title of my post is too provocative and potentially demeaning. I take this in the spirit in which I believe william offered it: as a constructive suggestion for improvement. Furthermore, on the assumption that talking about “fail” in the context of Darwinist debating tactics is redundant, I guess I don’t need to keep that part of the title.

    So in the spirit of making the post title (and future posts in the series if I get the time) less potentially provocative, I have re-titled the post to remove the words “Fail Files”.

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    anti-Intelligent Design Points Refuted a Thousand Times

    AIDPRATT

  37. 37
    Eric Anderson says:

    Joe @34:

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve updated the OP.

  38. 38
    Mung says:

    Joe:

    The ordinary use has information containing meaning. It is only in specific cases would someone say that information does not have any meaning.

    Only a moron would say that “meaningless information” is a coherent concept.

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    No Mung, Shannon information may not have “meaning” as we commonly understand that term.

  40. 40
    Mapou says:

    Anderson:

    For my part, I would prefer to see fewer insults and name-calling from some regular posters here at UD. It is certainly too easy for any of us to descend to that approach with the anonymity and distance the internet offers.

    For my part, I would prefer to see all Darwinists banned, period. They are using the ID camp to spread their propaganda and vent their religious hatred. They are obsessed with Christianity because they see it as a threat to their worldview.

    IMO, the reason that ID, as a theory, has been at a standstill for some time now (years), is that IDers spend most of their time immersed in vain interminable debates with a political enemy who looks down on them. I would rather like to see debates within the ID camp as to how to go about moving ID forward. We must go beyond design detection. Isn’t it time we start discussing the designer (s), their goals and their methods as seen in their work? Why is this subject taboo? Is it because Darwinists have scared the ID camp into ignoring it for fear that ID will be seen as an offshoot of Christianity? This is a weakness, IMO. We must have no fear whatsoever. Otherwise we lose.

    We should not be debating Darwinists, IMO. It’s a waste of time. We should only be attacking them in the public’s eye. We also threaten their unfair livelihood by insisting that their teachings are just as religious as Christian beliefs. We should strongly protest against them getting free taxpayer’s money and using it to indoctrinate our kids with their superstitions. We, the people, must refuse to support somebody’s private religion.

    One man’s opinion, of course.

  41. 41
    Mung says:

    Hi Barry,

    No Mung, Shannon information may not have “meaning” as we commonly understand that term.

    Ah, but it does. 🙂 And I’d like to convince you I am right.

    Shannon information is not a new concept of information that is outside the general meaning of the term, even Demski seems to acknowledge this. Shannon merely created a quantitative measure for a specific subset of the larger set of what we information is.

    My first premise is that information is always information about something.

    If something is about something else then it has meaning.

    Shannon information is about something.

    Therefore Shannon information is not meaningless.

    It is a mistake to reason that if Shannon’s measure of information cannot tell us the meaning of the message, that the message has no meaning, much less that meaningless information is a coherent concept.

    So, how do I need to flesh this argument out further to strengthen the case that we cannot get from Shannon information to meaningless information by valid reasoning?

    One way that Shannon gave us to think about his measure was in terms of uncertainty or reduction in uncertainty.

    But uncertainty or reduction in uncertainty about what? This is what Shannon information is about.

    Given a probability distribution and the selection or actualization of a possibility, we now have information that we previously lacked, and we can quantify this.

    Actually there are two things that can be quantified, one is our overall uncertainly before the event, and the second is how much we can say that uncertainty has been reduced.

    But we still have not found a sense of “information” that lacks “aboutness” nor that is “meaningless.”

  42. 42
    E.Seigner says:

    @Mung

    Your point sounds reasonable if Shannon information indeed implies real information. But in computing the same thing is called data. No meaning.

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    E.S.

    Thank for your comment.

    Let’s continue the discussion here if you like.

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