Friday, October 4, 2013

Next round with Coyne

I've replied to Coyne again on free will at ENV. 

40 comments:

  1. Wonderful reply, Doctor.

    Materialism is the worldview that gives you just enough rope to shoot yourself in the foot!

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  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    You're not playing fair, Egnor. The first rule you need to know when debating folks who publish in (or read) "Mother Jones" is that (1) words mean what they want them to mean and (2) they get to tell you what you believe.

    Debating Proglodytes reminds me of the guy who was babysitting a five year old for a friend while he repaired a plumbing leak. The kid was bored, and the guy agreed to play a card game that the kid would explain as they went along. The poor guy was having great difficulty understanding the rules and was making lots of mistakes. The rules seemed to change and they were getting more and more complex. Whenever he thought he might finally have a winning hand, he kept hearing things like this from the kid: "Your ace wins UNLESS I have three red cards and a six."

    Then it suddenly became clear. The guy figured out the Prime Rule: the five year old must always win.

    And don't forget... for Coyne, it's political. He's like blinkfast. He'll drive that square peg into that ideological round hole come hell or high water.

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    1. ADM:

      I agree. What I hope to do is the exact a price for Coyne's ideological crap. He can spread it, but there will be a reply, and it will be rigorous and critical.

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    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Keep up the good work, Sir. The virulence of the personal attacks is always a good measure of the success of the argument. I knew you had carried the day when I read this:

      It wasn’t I who used the term “Egnorance” to refer to the lucubrations of Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon and an ardent proponent of intelligent design who regularly contributes to the Discovery Institute’s shriveled organ, “Evolution News and Views.”

      As our very own Hooter the Tooter is wont to toot: "You can't address the argument, so you attack the person..."

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    3. In this case, there is not much of an argument to attack. Egnor isn't much of a deep thinker.

      Hoo

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    4. I liked Coyne's "shriveled organ" part. Can you imagine, from Coyne's perspective, how humiliating it is to be outdone by a "shriveled organ"?

      Imagine if the DI got some viagra! We'd be unstoppable! (But then the Darwinists would complain about our rigid ideology!)

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    5. One can imagine quite a bit. In reality, ID scholars can't even fill the pages of their own journal BIO-Complexity. Three articles per year is all they can produce.

      Hoo

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    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      That's not necessarily a bad thing. Although I'm not personally a proponent of the ID school of thought, they are obviously a small, besieged group, and perhaps they insist on high standards to avoid as much swaggering stupidity (like that emanating from Coyne) as possible.

      And there's little cause to swagger, because it appears the "peer-review" literature needs a little peer review.

      In the desperation to publish something, anything, journals have gone off the rails. There's a current post in Retraction Watch about abysmal publishing standards, and Michael Eisen, a Berkeley biologist, has this to say:

      [T]he subscription publishers’ long con has far more serious consequences. Not only do they traffic in billions rather than thousands of dollars and denying the vast majority of people on Earth access to the findings of publicly funded research, the impact and glamour they sell us to make us willing participants in their grift has serious consequences. Every time they publish because it is sexy, and not because it is right, science is distorted. It distorts research. It distorts funding. And it often distorts public policy.
      --- Michael Eisen (10/3/13)

      Note for the record that Eisen is no friend of ID.

      And that's not even accounting for the blatant attempts by climate "scientists" to rig the review process and pack editorial boards as revealed in the whistleblower e-mails from the CRU.

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    7. Adm:

      What is it about ID that you don't agree with? I'm not asking to be disagreeable, but there are many Christians-- especially Catholics-- who don't support ID in a full-throated way, and I'm curious why.

      I should point out that my support for ID is provisional. They're right about what they say-- there is massive evidence for intelligent agency in all of nature, including biology. My own perspective is Thomist, rather than the Paylean slant many ID folks have.

      But I stand with them because they're gutsy and right about many things and they take the fight to the bastards, which we Thomists should be doing more of.

      I'd be interested to hear your perspective.

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    8. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      Let me begin by saying that I fully embrace the notion of divine design in nature. And I'm no deist, but, of course, no one knows how this design process was realized. Even without the notion of biological irreducibility, the design of the Cosmos has always been there for anyone with an open mind who chooses to look.

      My issue - and I hate that overused, hackneyed word, but I don't want to use "disagreement" - with ID is a technical one based on a background with a good bit of theoretical work in weak signal detectability. Never found any aliens, though. :-)

      When archaeologists look at an artifact, say a carving on a wall, they sometimes make a judgement that it was done by a human hand. A casual observer might conclude it was just a case of weird erosion or some other geologically explicable process. The archeologists' inference is a case of what I call "detection of design"; he or she has detected certain visual features that look like the "design signal" - features that are indicative of the presence of an intelligent agent - buried in noise caused by natural processes over time. It's what the SETI project does with different equipment. They're looking for a radio artifact.

      In the presence of noise, detection is a statistical classification. In fact, the Theory of Signal Detectability is a Bayesian model that describes that process quite well (as well as what radiologists do, in fact).

      Irreducibility is an interesting approach, but there will always be some rejoinder like the absurd "migrating bones" just-so story chock-a-block with "we don't fully understand" that was ginned up to explain away that marvelous little acoustic transformer, the middle ear.

      Now the interesting thing about TSD and design is the bias parameter. A detector, electronic or biological, is programmable or trainable to adopt a more conservative or liberal detection criterion. Holding the detectability of a signal constant, a conservative detector will report fewer false alarms (i.e., a signal in the presence of noise alone) at the cost of some missed signals. A liberal detector will miss fewer signals at the cost of a higher false alarm rate. There's no way out of this tradeoff.

      The criterion is - or should be - driven by the negative value (cost) of a false alarm and the positive value of a detection. This was a big deal in the cold war, because the cost of a false alarm could have been the annihilation of mankind. Those detectors were pretty darn conservative. But they weren't extreme conservative, because the value of a correct detection was very high. That resulted in what might be described as "cascaded detectors", or fail-safe procedures.

      Materialists have adopted the most conservative criterion. They never issue a false alarm, but they've driven the detection probability to zero. It's stupid, really, but it is what it is. If they were to report a detection, the cost would be infinite - their metaphysical position would be annihilated and materialism would suffer a "nuclear winter".

      Some of them will admit this, albeit without straying from the dogma. Fred Hoyle was famous for saying the Universe was "a put-up job".

      So, in short, I think the ID guys are right insofar as they claim design. I think it's a quixotic quest to bother with trying to convince the unconvincable with arguments about irreducibility.

      It's like the irresistible truth meeting the unconvincable object.

      However, I appreciate they do put careers at stake and take the fight to the bastards. That I support.

      Having said all that, I personally think a detectability approach might be more productive than an irreducibility approach, simply because there are an infinite number of just-so stories available and a very bright gang of storytellers to invent them. A detectability approach doesn't have that vulnerable flank.

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    9. In short, ID is a futile exercise in cargo cult science. Those who are already convinced (conservative Christians) don't need it because they already believe. Those who know how science works don't care for the silly shenanigans.

      Hoo

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    10. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      For a group of people who "don't care about the silly shenanigans", Darwinists seem to spend a lot of time trying to discredit it. Explain to me how that's adaptive. I don't see many scientists bothering to respond to Fleischmann and Pons.

      Darwinists must be a pretty excitable bunch, mate.

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    11. Georgie,

      Because Fleischmann and Pons were quickly shown to be wrong. They produced an exciting result in an experiment, and when the experiment was replicated, the result went away.

      ID has never done any experiments to be replicated. It's just an 'explanation', and a theory that explains everything, explains nothing.

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    12. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      barkmad, you missed my point as usual, embarking on a tangential issue. And please forgive my ignorance about ID. Biology of any stripe simply doesn't interest me very much. My view of their irreducibility idea is explained fully above.

      But back to my point: if scientists "don't care" about ID, then why do they spend so much ink and effort - and even money - trying to discredit it? And more puzzling, why do they try to silence ID proponents?

      I'm baffled, because I don't waste my life tilting at windmills I don't care about or that I think are, frankly, beneath my notice. In fact, the amount of time I spend on something is highly and positively correlated with how much I care about it, and I can assure you it is a causal relationship.

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    13. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      barkmad: "a theory that explains everything, explains nothing"

      BTW, barkmad, I agree 100% with that. Would you please refer back to it when you start on one of your climate rants?

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    14. Adm:

      I agree with your assessment of ID. I think that the "design detection" enterprise, as science, is a long shot, for the reasons you have provided.

      There are however, two ways that ID is strong. First, it is driving the Darwinists nuts, as you have pointed out. The DI is a very small outfit (you could throw a baseball from one end of their institute to the other). It is tiny, and it has created a tidal wave against Darwinism. The ID inference-- design is evident in life-- is obviously true, and Darwinists are flailing wildly in reply to it.

      The second way in which I believe ID can be strong science is to advance the idea that engineering principles should be applied more rigorously to biology than they are. For example, in my own research on the windkessel mechanism in the brain-- which is the mechanism by which delicate brain capillaries are protected from the high pressure fluctuations of the arterial pulse, we have proposed (with strong evidence) that the cranium is a cavity resonator, which is a band-stop filter for the transfer function between the arterial pressure pulse and the intracerebral pressure pulse. It is pure engineering principles applied to biology, and it's remarkable how few doctors and biologists understand any of it.

      Biological things manifest engineering. I believe that the more aggressive introduction of engineering education into biological and medical education would be a fruitful project for ID.

      'Shit happened and survivors survived' is of pitifully little use to modern science.

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    15. Adm.
      Fascinating, brilliant reply to Mike's question.
      I could not agree more on approach (TSD).

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    16. Egnor:

      The second way in which I believe ID can be strong science is to advance the idea that engineering principles should be applied more rigorously to biology than they are.

      You probably don't realize there are numerous engineers already working in biology. John Maynard Smith (Google him if you don't know his work) was an engineer. In my own theoretical biology research group we have several engineers, because of their technical modeling skills. But none are sympathetic to ID.

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    17. Crusader:

      I could not agree more on approach (TSD).

      What do you know about "TSD"? How could it be used to detect the work of Jeebus?

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    18. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      I hate to seem contentious, but I'm reasonably certain Egnor is acutely aware of engineers working in biology. Stony Brook has a thriving bioengineering program.

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    19. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      Dhimster: "How could it be used to detect the work of Jeebus?"

      It's hate all the time with you, isn't it Dhim One? Your life must suck to generate so much rancor and bile. That's why billions want to be like you.

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    20. Georgie,

      You need to get out of your bathtub and stop playing with your toy plastic battleships in your delusional navy.

      You need to improve your reading skills. 'A theory that explains everything explains nothing' perfectly reflects my approach to climate science.

      Climate is driven by solar output, greenhouse gases, variations in Earth albedo, arrangement of the continents and Milankovich cycles, and perhaps other factors we're not aware of.

      It's only idiots like you who think that greenhouse gases should be dominant, if AGW is true, whereas it's just important.

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    21. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      barkmad: "It's only idiots like you who think that greenhouse gases should be dominant, if AGW is true, whereas it's just important."

      barkmad, don't tell me what I think. I think nothing of the sort.

      Your approach to climate "science" resembles seeing the Virgin Mary on toast.

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    22. Draft dodger, you are too liberal with the word "hate". If anyone on this blog demonstrates "hate", it's you with your daily stream of off-topic anti-"Progressive" rants that nobody responds to anyway. And why would my life suck? I'm guessing you are projecting here. You and Egnor seem to share an intense hatred of your former lives, when you were still atheist, before joining the Pedophile Mafia. Fear of death or seeing no point to living? Anyway, I'm having fun with my 2-week old son; just recorded his greatest single-day weight increase (120g) so far. Then he shat and probably lost most of that...

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    23. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 7:52 PM

      I'll give your comment about my use of the word "hate" all due consideration. I trust you knew before writing it that it would be inconsequential.

      And if "nobody" responds" then you, sir, are nobody.

      I've already explained why I believe your life sucks. You're filled with bile and rancor, just as you demonstrate above.

      Speaking of the "pedophile mafia", I believe it was Richard Dawkins who issued the latest Progressive defense of pedophilia. Is that who you were talking about? I'm not one of his fanboys.

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    24. admiral: "For a group of people who "don't care about the silly shenanigans", Darwinists seem to spend a lot of time trying to discredit it. Explain to me how that's adaptive. I don't see many scientists bothering to respond to Fleischmann and Pons."

      In contrast to ID "scholars," Fleischmann and Pons made specific claims. Their claims were tested and debunked in many labs around the world. Case closed.

      ID does not make testable claims to verify them. They play make-believe science for the idiots like Egnor.

      Hoo

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    25. And speaking of pedophilia, wasn't Virgin Mary 13 years old when she got pregnant?

      Hoo

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    26. I've already explained why I believe your life sucks. You're filled with bile and rancor, just as you demonstrate above.

      Projecting again. I'm guessing you don't have any kids of your own. Is that correct?

      You are also mistaken about "materialists". It would be great if there were an afterlife, and I would be happy to endorse any evidence to that effect. Unfortunately, there is none.

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    27. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      Projection, eh? So you're an acolyte of Dr Sigmund Fraud. I know Progressives love his "scientific" theories.

      Dawkins and Fraud. That's a powerful combination! A meat machine with a hankering for mama.

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    28. I see you didn't answer my question. You're an unhappy guy and that makes you angry. I'm happy being a meat machine.

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    29. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Dhimster: "I'm happy being a meat machine."

      As if you had a choice. Your life is determined.

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    30. Troy,
      "What do you know about "TSD"?"
      Eh? What are you asking me? You want me to tutor you on signals detection? I am not even sure I would be permitted, I am by no means a theoretician, and my time is valuable and quite expensive.
      You may want to consider looking it up yourself online or at the library, or by taking a related course at a local college.

      "How could it be used to detect the work of Jeebus?"
      If by 'Jeebus' you mean God, TDS is not required and that is not what we are talking about here in this thread.

      Hoo,
      "And speaking of pedophilia, wasn't Virgin Mary 13 years old when she got pregnant?"
      Hoo... I am surprised at you.
      You wrote the words yourself.
      Read them carefully to yourself: 'Virgin Mary'.
      The miracle is not that she was a virgin BEFORE she got pregnant, Hoo. That is quite often the case. Normal stuff.

      The miracle -the big deal, rather, is that she was STILL a virgin AFTER she became pregnant and even at the birth. Hence the title 'Virgin', and terms like 'immaculate conception' and 'virgin birth'.
      That is the WHOLE point.
      You choose to believe that is not the case. Fine.
      But, to compare the sacred God of billions to a paedophile?
      In an effort to do what?

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    31. Crus:

      Eh? What are you asking me?

      Well, it just seemed kind of unlikely you would know anything about the mathematical theory of signal detection, so I thought it's a bit strange you applaud the Admiral's 'application'. That's all.

      The miracle -the big deal, rather, is that she was STILL a virgin AFTER she became pregnant and even at the birth.

      No, the miracle is that there are people who believe this bullshit.


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    32. Troy,
      "Well, it just seemed kind of unlikely you would know anything about the mathematical theory of signal detection, so I thought it's a bit strange you applaud the Admiral's 'application'. That's all."
      Signal detection was an integral part of my duties for a long period. It still is to a degree.
      The quality of all the intelligence we worked on while in theatre (or in support) was absolutely critical. We always preferred human intelligence, but signals played a big role many, many times.
      I did not design the machinery or even command the people involved in the collection of the data, but I sure wanted to understand what it is they do and what my people are acting on.
      Finding patterns in electronic noise is absolutely primary to the art of modern war, Troy.

      "No, the miracle is that there are people who believe this bullshit."
      Whether or not you believe in the miracle of the Virgin Birth does not alter the fact that the miracle itself is described as such. Virgins have not had sex. End of.

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    33. Crus,

      She might as well have been artificially inseminated, but the mode of delivery isn't exactly what I am talking about. It's the fact that God saw fit to impregnate a 13-year-old with a child. These days he would have been jailed for child abuse.

      Hoo

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    34. Hoo,
      Let's just clear this up for you: God did not have sex with or inseminate Mary. That is not what happened. This is not a Greek or Egyptian myth about bestial demigods (we call them 'demons') rutting with women. That is a very different storyline in the bible and does not end well for the beings and their 'enhanced' offspring.
      God entered into Mary (via spirit) and was BORN through her. That is the 'myth' (from your perspective) or miracle (from my own) we are dealing with here . Jesus IS God incarnate.
      There is no use in rewriting that biblical story other than to slander the God of billions by calling him (erroneously) a paedophile who impregnates young women.
      If that is your aim, it is a foolish, counter productive emotional one. It is also deeply insulting to those of us with faith. You have, in effect, extended modern standards of marriageability (consent w/ Joseph) to the 1st century, accused my children (and those of billions) of worshipping a child molester and myself of encouraging that behaviour in them.
      Yours is a libel based on a distortion of a sacred text.
      Surely you understand that much?
      There is no point to be made here, other than that you do not understand the meaning of Christmas, Hoo.
      That's a sad shame.
      But, please do not malign those of us who do.

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  3. “Those who are already convinced (conservative Christians) don't need it because they already believe.”

    Don't forget their their ideological brethren the Muslims .

    -KW

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    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyOctober 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Right. We agree on so much they want to kill us.

      You're a card, KW.

      BTW, are you still ruminating about entropy, thinking Los Grandes Pensamientos about the Birth of the Cosmos?

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  4. I am enjoying your articles Dr Egnor.

    Great stuff.

    Best Wishes

    Chris

    UK

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