Tag Archives: science

The Art of Discovery

h/t shortoftheweek

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Majoritarian Reality Follies

Science-Poll

One of the creationist lobbying organizations in Texas is named Texans for Better Science Education!

Here Texas goes again.

Creationists May Be Helping To Choose Biology Textbooks In Texas
Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post

It seems as though creationists could have a sizable influence in the decision over what biology textbooks students in Texas will use in the coming years.

The Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit civil liberties group, posted on its website last week that it had discovered that six people chosen to review biology textbooks for the state had ties to creationism. Of the 28 invited to review textbooks, around a dozen went to Austin recently to make final textbook recommendations, the Texas Freedom Network wrote.

The Texas Freedom Network charged in a subsequent blog post that of that group of about 12, which approves the biology books used for at least the next eight years, four people had creationist backgrounds — a sizable proportion of the review team.

According to the Texas Freedom Network, some of the textbook panelists with a history of creationist beliefs include Raymond Bohlin, who is a research fellow at an institute that promotes intelligent design, and Walter Bradley, a retired professor who co-wrote a book about creationism. Bohlin and Bradley did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Texas A&M chemistry professor Daniel Romo –- who is listed as a “Darwin Skeptic” on the Creation Science Hall of Fame website — confirmed to The Huffington Post via email that he is a member of the panel, although he did not attend the final review in Austin. Romo, who said he served on a previous panel regarding science textbooks, noted that he got involved with the textbook review after being “initially invited to submit an application by someone who partnered with Liberty Legal Institute.” The Liberty Legal Institute is a right-wing, nonprofit organization with the mission of “[restoring] religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena,” according to its website.

Where I live, Ohio, the state science standards thankfully, don’t allow the “controversy” to be taught in biology classes, but, the “controversy” and creationism worm their way into science classes in some school systems.

6 percent of scientists identify as Republicans. (“It Feels Like A Personal Assault:” How the GOP Drives Away Scientists – Salon)


When I meet a Republican in the flesh, it’s always amusing to find out if he or she finds modern biology to be rooted in Darwin, or not. It’s another one of my handful of acid tests.

I’m confident that a substantial number of Louisiana Republicans believe in creationism AND assert that the slow response to Katrina was Mr. Obama’s fault.

Bonus:

Hurricane Katrina: It’s Obama’s Fault, by George
Rosemary and Walter Brasch 8/31/2013
OpEdNews.com

Almost one-third of Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for the slow and largely ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast, Aug. 31, 2005. More than 1,800 were killed in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; estimates of property damage exceeded $100 billion.

Public Policy Polling reveals that 29 percent of the state’s Republicans blame Obama. Only 28 percent blame George W. Bush. The rest, according to the poll, don’t know who to blame.

The disaster occurred in the first year of George W. Bush’s second term. Barack Obama did not become president until more than three years later.

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Faster Than Jeebus

Splurt Bill Nye

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Icelandic Exceptionalism

Who Gets It

Self-explanatory. via Let’s Talk About Evolution Guardian.UK; in turn via the essential research blogging’s GirlScientist. Video

Fill in blank: “so much for _________________”

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The Hard Problem

Evolution Made Us All from Ben Hillman on Vimeo.

Actually, the proposition here over-generalizes, but it is apparently true for biological life.

I don’t track the follies of Intelligent Design anywhere near as closely as I used to, yet I do maintain a tag search and every now and then I am moved to go check out the ‘action,’ always with the hope what I encounter will be amusing, and, rich as a qualitative data set about how people approach talking with each other.

Uncommon Descent, ‘serving the intelligent design community,’ is a dependable source of circularity and a time waster over many years. I got a nice positive at the end of March. I’ve let it, the comment thread, percolate since then. It is: worthy.

The set-up is a article, On the Computation of CSI, by Mathgrrl. Here is the equivalent of its abstract.

In the abstract of Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence, William Demski asks “Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?” Many ID proponents answer this question emphatically in the affirmative, claiming that Complex Specified Information is a metric that clearly indicates intelligent agency.

As someone with a strong interest in computational biology, evolutionary algorithms, and genetic programming, this strikes me as the most readily testable claim made by ID proponents. For some time I’ve been trying to learn enough about CSI to be able to measure it objectively and to determine whether or not known evolutionary mechanisms are capable of generating it. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is quite a bit of confusion about the details of CSI, even among its strongest advocates.

Setting aside the effort to configure a worthwhile computational platform for ID, the post and its continuing offshoot oneand offshoot two, interest me because Mathgrrl, (who is seemingly Lauren Taalman of James Madison univesity,) has made her effort without also grinding any axe. My further interest, then, is to see what happens as a matter of the responses to her generous and sincere effort. How soon will bad will arise by design (!) to meet her good will?

The answer, of course, is: instantly. 11:17am. However, overall the discussion proceeds without much aggression. (It’s not besides the point that Dembski’s CSI has been discredited, but, in another sense the dialogs are seeking to discover a corrective or more correct estimate.) Alas, it turns out a moderator is riding the posts too, so some of the action only saw the light of day briefly.

As a Batesonian, I was amused to read this (#367):

I am saying, per my previous post, and interminable posts prior to this on other threads, that is it impossible, IN PRINCIPLE, i.e. it is logically impossible, to explain information in terms of algorithms and/or physical laws. This so obviously true that it is scarcely worth repeating. So I won’t. You will sooner be able to create a square circle as to generate information with time and physics. Information is impossible without reason, language, free will, and intentionality. That is, a mind. Or Mind in the case of life.

Having now created the square circle, what say you? Why would information require logic to be represented in any possible explanation of information, and this given too in any possible ‘terms?’ Oh look, my square circle just rolled up my stairs!

In the main the discussants don’t reconcile Mathgrrl’s urge to define CSI with greater specificity with the ID company line, that Dembski’s conclusions have already completed the endeavor. All in all, not very amusing, except for the usual category mashing, and this–as always–in the context of the unspoken problematic implied by some kind of computationally clever designer found somewhere beyond nature and biology. And, maybe this designer was/is, like, undesigned?

Then: pay dirt. Mathgrrl Lives Down to Expectations on April 14. The post’s subject remains calm. She should get a medal. Between this and the action over at the unintentionally very amusing comment spew at intelligentreasoning blog, I am suddenly delivered to the social psychological nirvana I was hunting for.

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Great Beyond

A trip beyond the edge of the observable universe

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Ouch, On a Cosmic Scale


CLOSENESS click for lightbox enlargement
S. Calhoun, 2010
ARK, (chosen, appropriated frames: using Dreamlines; hat tip to Leonardo Solaas)

How the Universe Works – Discovery Channel (many episodes available for the time being from the youtube channel documentarystreams)

I was 13 years old when, while laying on my back gazing at a crisp night sky, the awesomeness of the scale of things came to me as a thunder strike. On this evening I became amazed that I was gazing back into time, while situated as a hunk of sentient flesh prostrate on a thin layer of dirt and rock stuck to the surface of a planetary sphere. And, even then, it wasn’t at all adolescent solipsism, but, rather, that anyone could look so far away and so far back. This insight has informed my perspective ever since.

Then, a few years later, I investigated the cosmic scale of creation and destruction, and came away impressed again that entire galaxies may crash into one another. This puts a whole new spin on the mere, and in this light, inconsequential problem of mortality.

A near galactic-collision between NGC 2207 (left) and IC 2163 captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists predict the Milky Way will merge with its neighbor Andromeda in about 5 billion years. (USAToday)

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Neighbor



click to enlarge
Src

There is a vast region of sand dunes at high northern latitudes on Mars. In the winter, a layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the dunes, and in the spring as the sun warms the ice it evaporates. This is a very active process, and sand dislodged from the crests of the dunes cascades down, forming dark streaks.

In the subimage falling material has kicked up a small cloud of dust. The color of the ice surrounding adjacent streaks of material suggests that dust has settled on the ice at the bottom after similar events.

Also discernible in this subimage are polygonal cracks in the ice on the dunes (the cracks disappear when the ice is gone). Candy Hansen HiResolution Imaging Experiment arizona.edu


src

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Hillis Plot


Phylogenic Plot of the ‘tree of speciation’ David Hillis*, University of Texas.

Close up via interactive version; Colorado.edu.

My impression? A humbling depiction.


* Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor, Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas
“The study of evolution of biotic diversity is the focus of my research. Most of my research concerns use of molecular genetic techniques to study relationships among populations, species, and higher taxa. Some of my general areas of interest are phylogenetic relationships, speciation patterns and mechanisms, molecular evolution (including the use of experimental systems), and the consequences of hybridization and hybrid zones. Although I am interested in and work on all organisms, most of my research involves amphibians, reptiles, fishes, molluscs, and viruses.”

x

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Christina vs. Stupidity

Christina aka ZOMGitsCriss k-rina, is Romanian; is forthright; is an ax-wielding heroine. I wouldn’t volunteer to sharpen all of her many axes, but I’d take the stone to the anti-creationist axe.

The Origins of Stupidity

How to Be a Good Creationist In Five Easy Steps

More Christina – below the fold.
(more…)

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Horny Head

…a completely out-of-context excerpt, first discovered on Deric Bownds’s truly excellent Mind Blog. Take note Dr. Bownds wrote a textbook Biology of the Mind (Wiley) and made it available online.

Promiscuous interfaces Humans have unique creative capacities and problem-solving abilities, which stem from the capacity to combine representations promiscuously from different domains of knowledge. For instance, humans can combine the concepts of number, belief, causality and harm in deciding that it is sometimes morally obligatory to harm one person to save the lives of many.

The generative mechanisms that underpin so much of human mental life acquire their expressive power because the recursive and combinatorial operations can functionally ‘grab’ the outputs of different modular systems or domains of knowledge. This capacity for promiscuously creating interfaces between domains is almost absent in animals. Thus, although both human and animal brains are characterized by modular functions and mechanisms, the modular outputs are typically restricted to a single functional problem in animals but are broadly accessible in humans. Non-human animals therefore show a form of myopic intelligence, designed to solve one problem with exquisite efficiency. For example, although honeybees have a symbolic dance that indicates the distance, direction and quantity of food, this communication system is largely restricted to food despite the intricate social lives of bees. Although meerkat adults teach their pups how to kill scorpion prey by providing them with age-appropriate opportunities for handling and dismembering, teaching does not occur in any other context. Although plovers use a deceptive display to lure predators away from their nest of eggs, they do not deceive in any other situation. And although chimpanzees use the direction of another’s eyes to guide strategic competition, they are far less skilled at using another’s eyes to guide cooperation. By contrast, in humans, neither language, teaching, deception, or the use of seeing to infer knowing are restricted to a single context.

The possibility of impossible cultures Marc D. Hauser; Nature 460, (9 July 2009) abstract: Insights from evolutionary developmental biology and the mind sciences could change our understanding of the human capacity to think and the ways in which the human mind constrains cultural expressions.

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ORIGINS OF THE IGNORAMUS

via Ron Chusid, from an interview of Rush Limbaugh by Matt Drudge.

Context: a full skeleton of an early presumed primate, Darwinius masillae, was discovered (story@Pharyngula; This is an important new fossil, a 47 million year old primate nicknamed Ida. She’s a female juvenile who was probably caught in a toxic gas cloud from a volcanic lake, and her body settled into the soft sediments of the lake, where she was buried undisturbed.

RUSH: Drudge had as a lead item up there this morning on his page a story from the UK, Sky News: “Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution.” It’s all about how Darwin would be thrilled to be alive today. “Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.” It’s a one-foot, nine-inch-tall monkey, and it’s a lemur monkey described as the eighth wonder of the world. “The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today —” So I guess this is settled science. We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that. They’re going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can’t do, but I’m more interested in some other missing link. And that is the missing link between our failing economy and prosperity.

Chusid believes this clip from the interview pegs Limbaugh as a creationist of some sort. The Rush-o-saur has never gone on record about origins. He may be against evolutionary biology in a doctrinaire sense, but his riff here is just ignorant in five different ways. “you can’t do”!!! LOL

That there is a doctrinaire non-argument against any research result that is employed anytime evolutionary findings hit the table, probably has something to do with the perceived offense given by biology to the varieties of foundationalism which infect anti-Darwinists. The idea being that human morality just can’t issue should there be found links to monkeys.

This monkey business constitutes a kind of memetic thread that peaked with the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind, the movie about the 1925 Scopes trial. (The movie followed by five years the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee.)

As far as the origins of morality goes, it’s a fascinating problem for paleo-social-anthropology. I’d be surprised were I to learn Limbaugh is a young earth creationist, yet from that particular foundationalism human morality is worked out via the fall and the wisdom of patriarchs, and a bit of incest.

I wonder what the Rushster would answer if asked ‘what are the origins of conservative morality?’ Probably his answer would be appallingly ignorant…too.

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CHABRIS & DAWKINS – IN KIND

Last-Minute Changes. Scientific orthodoxy says that human evolution stopped a long time ago. Did it? (Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2009) Christopher Chabris ‘psychology professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.’

 Where it is written:

But scientists do disagree over the pace and time-span of human evolution.  Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending begin “The 10,000 Year Explosion” with a remark from the paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, who said that “there’s been no biological change in humans for 40,000 or 50,000 years.” They also cite the evolutionist Ernst Mayr, who agrees that “man’s evolution towards manness suddenly came to a halt” in the same epoch.

Gould and Mayr do not constitute an orthodoxy. There is no orthodoxy that makes the claim Chabris has attached to it.

Evolution doesn’t stop, and it doesn’t stop for the cockroach and the hagfish and those bacteria that are apparently little changed over half-to-a-billion years. So the tag to the headline is a classic strawman. Chabris, you done over heated your pan o’ pablum. The controversy about the pace of human evolution is not very interesting to me personally, but there is no question about, nor orthodoxy suggesting, that the process of evolution can halt itself. It is, as it were, a dumb, albeit dynamic, kind of natural machine. Snails pace or cheetah; likely to vary for a lot of reasons between really really slow and faster. I suppose evolutionary homeostasis sort of happens given specific homeostatic environs, but I don’t know any biologist who claims mutations then halt.

Meanwhile, as long as anthropologists are coming under attack, they’ve earned the dull point of Richard Dawkins’s toy spear. Dawkins on Darwin. Why we really do need to know the amazing truth about evolution, and the equally amazing intellectual dishonesty of its enemies

Here is yet another article I would peg in the vain of post-sokalism. (I hope you get the ref.) Dawkins is (always) exercised at those who would seemingly relevatize scientific truth. He will eventually go off in the article on proponents of pseudo-science, but anthropology earns his ire in this dim section:

A scientist arrogantly asserts that thunder is not the triumphal sound of God’s balls banging together, nor is it Thor’s hammer. It is, instead, the reverberating echoes from the electrical discharges that we see as lightning. Poetic (or at least stirring) as those tribal myths may be, they are not actually true.

But now a certain kind of anthropologist can be relied on to jump up and say something like the following: Who are you to elevate scientific “truth” so? The tribal beliefs are true in the sense that they hang together in a meshwork of consistency with the rest of the tribe’s world view. Scientific “truth” is only one kind (“Western” truth, the anthropologist may call it, or even “patriarchal”). Like tribal truths, yours merely hang together with the world view that you happen to hold, which you call scientific. An extreme version of this viewpoint (I have actually encountered this) goes so far as to say that logic and evidence themselves are nothing more than instruments of masculine oppression over the “intuitive mind

Actually, Richard, scientific truth IS only one kind of truth. However the valency attached to any truth has to do with how it’s kind has been worked out. This inquiry into what are the applications of, and explanatory frameworks for, and what are consistent evaluative regimes, and, pertinent supportive logics and schemes of quantification, theorization, (etc.,) are crucial for the work of biologist and anthropologist and tribe. (Of course the tribesman’s points of emphasis and methodology may be quite different.) The kind posed by scientific truth is required to be scientifically worked out, but other kinds of truth are not required to be scientifically worked out. This isn’t to say science isn’t enabled so as to contest some other kind of truth–it may well be–but those other kinds of truths may also be of a different kind too. And, sorry Richard, but science literally came along in the history and development of, what I will term, sentient empiricism. So it strikes me as banal to suggest that scientific truth is per force superior if you don’t also proscribe the scientific domain and give it a historical qualification too.

I don’t see how relativism poses much of a threat to science. Two things I do know: scientists all the time do good work without being adept at the philosophy of science, and, some kinds of scientific truths are required to be provisional, and in a strong sense are thus relative to future developments.

Anthropologist Maurice Block wrote,

“If culture is the whole or a part what people must know in a particular social environment to operate efficently…” (in Language, Anthropology and Cognitive Science; 1991)

Full stop. Such peoples must know a bunch of unscientific and no less effective truth. Almost everybody is superstitious, hardly anybody is scientific, yet the anthropologist or some other kind of social scientist, may aim at giving an account for the basis of human efficiency given in a particular social environment, and include all sorts of other kinds of truths. These will be the truths the tribe deploys. In doing this, given are the many domains of inquiry that are commensurate with different  kinds of tasks of understanding the nature of the tribal truths.

I decry the imposition of pseudo-science, such as creationism, into the science curriculum, but I am also fascinated by what accounts for the social impetus granted in the wish of people to have creationism taught in biology classes. Biology has nothing to say about this social phenomena. Except for polemicists who savage the implicit oddness of humans who are moved to promote pseudo-science.

There is so much long-standing controversy in anthropology and meta-anthropology over the valence of materialism and causal regimes and other knotty problems of reflexivity and stance and culturated bias and, in a word, subjectivities, that I would say to Dawkins, ‘anthropology has its own conundrums.’

(Dawkins) Like tribal truths, yours merely hang together with the world view that you happen to hold, which you call scientific.

This nominalist threat poses no contest to science at all. Yeah, it may be aggravating in the battle for column inches! Scientific truth is true in its well worked out ‘kind,’ or,–better–domain. Also, any anthropologist who maintains that scientists happen to hold a world view needs to explain what he or she means by ‘happen!’. But, who claims this?

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NOT THIS

I’m digging through old back-ups looking for something. Not this. Still; Harry Stapp, Tuscon 1996, from his talk, Science of Consciousness and the Hard Problem.

The “Hard Problem” has several aspects. From the perspective of science the
question “Why does consciousness exist?” can be compared to the question
“Why does the electromagnetic field exist?” A physicist can answer this
question by giving an account of the important function that the
electromagnetic field plays in workings of nature, as they are represented in
his physical theory. Of course, consciousness plays no role at all in the
classical mechanics account of nature, and hence no functional answer is
possible within the classical-mechanics conceptualization of nature. Since it
is unreasonable for nature to have such a nonefficacious component, the
question of `why consciousness exists’ becomes essentially a plea for a more
adequate conceptual understanding of nature, one in which consciousness plays
an essential role.

Two essential roles of consciousness in the quantum formulation are:

1. Our conscious experiencings are what both science in general and quantum
theory in particular are about. One cannot eliminate our experiences from
the theory without eliminating both the connection of the theory to science
and also the basic realities upon which the theory itself rests: experiences
are the basic realities that the more subtle `physical’ aspects of nature
are propensities for.

2. Technically, experiences are used to solve the so-called basis problem in
quantum theory. Within the physical domain itself there is no natural
foundation for deciding which special states are the ones into which the
quantum state can “collapse”. The core idea of Bohr is that these special
states correspond to our experiences, and this core idea is carried by the
von Neumann/Wigner formulation into equations (1) and (4). Intuitively, this
amounts to the idea that the body/brain processes generate possibilities
that are presented to the quantum selection process, which interprets them
in terms of possible experiences, and then selects, in accordance with the
basic quantum statistical rule, one of these possible experiences, and
actualizes it, and its body/brain counterpart. (Of course, this intuitive
interpretation of the formulas (1) and (4) is not actually needed: the
formulas themselves define the theory.) But this means that our experiences
are not only the basic realities of the theory, and the link to science, as
noted in 1, but also play a key in specifying the “set of allowed
possibilities” that enter into the causal chain of mind/brain events. These
allowed possibilities must be just the ones that correspond to our possible
experiences, at least for practical purposes, or the whole theory loses its
tight connection to science: the events in the theory would no longer
correspond to the experiential realities.

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HEAVY-TAILED

I’ve added Three-Toed Sloth to the blogroll. It’s written by Cosma Shalizi, a professor at Carnegie Mellon. His research interests don’t at all dovetail with my own; to whit: “Information theory; nonparametric prediction of time series; learning theory and nonlinear dynamics; stochastic automata, state space and hidden Markov models; causation and prediction; large deviations and ergodic theory; neuroscience; statistical mechanics; complex networks; heavy-tailed distributions.”

From November 30, Shalizi wrote:

Science is systematic and cumulative inquiry into what the world is like and how it works, and by and large one that succeeds in producing increasingly reliable and refined knowledge about the world. This is marvelous and inspiring, but it’s still a social process implemented by East African Plains Apes [and some of their tools], and it’s wise to be realistic about the implications of this fact.

Here Dr. Shalizi does dovetail nicely with my anthropological sense. He contributes a pointer to another example of behavior tending to square information processing, interpretation and problem-solving application. I’ve pointed out elsewhere in reply to others’ philosophizing about Intelligent Design and Science how the antecedents to scientific behavior are proto-scientific behaviors. These require no apriori commitment to axiomatic naturalism. They do require cognitive functions and in turn the basis seems to be retention and interpretation, manipulation, response, to retained data.

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WITHOUT A TRACE

I’ve been trudging through the commentaries on Behe and his new book. This is exhausting. I know how it ends.

In a nutshell, Behe has accepted all but the remarkable causal supposition of modern evolutionary explanation. This rejected supposition in sum is that the natural evolutionary mechanics, especially random mutation, are commensurate with the results of biological complexity.

This public thrashing ends with Behe being taken to task for re-introducing a God of the gaps. This time those gaps are found between the researchable landscape of biology and the non-researchable landscape that supposes a designer’s intervention.

John Coyne: What has Behe now found to resurrect his campaign for ID? It’s rather pathetic, really. Basically, he now admits that almost the entire edifice of evolutionary theory is true: evolution, natural selection, common ancestry. His one novel claim is that the genetic variation that fuels natural selection–mutation–is produced not by random changes in DNA, as evolutionists maintain, but by an Intelligent Designer. That is, he sees God as the Great Mutator.

At this late stage of the ID instigation it should come as no surprise that Behe’s argument cannot escape fatal errors. After all, he’s utilizing a conception, design he’s defined a priori solely for the purpose of arguing it to be true post facto. In doing this he’s required–of himself–to create a tortuous argument that is both post-scientific and illogical.

I latch upon the post-scientific because regardless of the fatal flaws in Behe’s argument, we know it ends with his necessarily pointing in the direction of a supernatural intervention able to penetrate nature without leaving any trace. I assume the reason the ID researchers don’t go after any material facts about the supposed intervention is that they themselves assume their designer works without leaving evidence. Thus: post-science.

Arguments against ID are worthwhile and the best ones leave no valid ID leftover in their wake, yet all such arguments strike me as red herrings in the context of the supernatural supposition. It occurred to me, knowing in advance that the speculative literature about the ‘super-nature’ of the designer is barren, that the term design itself rests on an anthropomorphic assumption. We understand that something is designed because we have only human examples of processes of design and this is because the process of design itself results from human intentionality and the implementation of an operational intention to plan out the making of something. In other words, for example, design is an enactment of a particular human consciousness, so to speak of its particularity is also to recognize that short of this instrumental consciousness all other enactments in nature are instances of building, not design. Spiders build their webs. The spider doesn’t design and then build the web.

But, this is only supposed. Design is conceptualized clearly as a matter of describing what is expected to be evidence of observable elements of the process of design. This underlines design being a term about human activity, and a term defined in its own terms to be so. The ID crowd might come up with a new term to at least puncture the language game.

That they do not highlights the central importance of the anthropomorphic conceit, (reversed as: “in the image of God.”) This makes sense in terms of the language regime: a super-human consciousness is able to design just like conventional human consciousness does. God may use the greatest CAD workstation ever created, is an inveterate tinkerer, and is able to employ the most exquisite heuristics known to God and man alike.

But, all this is done with no trace of the intervention and penetration into concrete nature. My own sense, besides that this tracking of assumptions to where they must begin reveals the assumptions to be magical and reflexive nonsense, is that there cannot be any post-science about the super-nature of a creator if there is no trace of this creator’s, as it were, implementation.

To me, the design inference is unsupportable simply because of this anthropomorphic conceit. Ask yourself how one could infer a process of design that is untraceable to the designer? Also, why can’t we get into the head of God, or into the spider’s head?

Consider too that the evidence for design in man created examples is not complexity alone but is rather the evidence of the process of design; planning, documentation of trial and error, supplemental tools, recipes, blueprints, staged elements, and all other types of necessary instrumentality, etc.

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PINCH ME, PLEASE PINCH KEN HAM

The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.

It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

The unique and special place of each and every person in creation is a fundamental truth that must be safeguarded. I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.

Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

Unfortunately, Brownback obviously doesn’t recognize, perhaps is unable to recognize, the simple logical flaws in his string of suppositions. On the face of his editorial, there is a measured reasonableness. Yet, even the slightest scratch of the surface reveals a collision not of fact so much as of propositions.

Biologists would tomorrow gather to study the phenomena of divine or intelligent design if there were phenomena to actually study. The mechanisms of design are only excluded because they haven’t materialized. Such phenomena aren’t prevented from materializing at a future point should they exist and should they be found.

(more…)

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DR. ROSS, I HAVE A QUESTION

Interesting article about a scientist and creationist. New York Times: Believing Scripture But Playing By Science’s Rules

But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a “young earth creationist” — he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

For him, Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”

He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. “People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,” he said. “What’s that to anybody else?”

If I were a colleague of Dr. Ross, I wouldn’t have a problem with his disconnect. I might drill down with him to learn how he reconciles his perspectivism with his sense that two opposing truth claims can be both opposed and both true at the same time. It is potentially worrisome that he might move completely over to the darkside and deploy his scientific knowledge deceptively.

What’s really interesting here is how this report contextualizes arguments made from the creationist side about how “methodological naturalism” lurks underneath all science to the extent that it is required to be the reflexive, meaningful schematic behind all scientific work. This is obviously poppycock as Dr. Ross proves once and for all. He’s obviously not a methodological naturalist when he’s got his young earth boots on.

From the other side, also concurrently disproved is the idea that all scientific work at a deeper level secures reflexive, concrete ‘philosophical’ claims about the nature of science. A scientist does not have to believe in, or understand, the philosophy of science before he or she can do solid scientific research. In fact, one could have the foundational concepts completely wrong and still practice a sound methodology. Both are connected of course but they aren’t required to be reflexively connected, i.e. connected in the sensibility of the scientist.

I reckon Dr. Ross would unashamedly try to rationalize the reconciliation of his belief paradigm and his research paradigm, or, he might simply say that there is no possibly commensurate reconciliation possible. Depending, his answer might find him a very bad philosopher but this doesn’t make his research bad. Research as a paradigm isn’t contingent on any conditioned belief other than in the efficacy of a strict scientific regime.

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DELICATE TURNS

Arthur M. Young wrote two little read albeit influential and (to me) essential books, both published in 1976: The Geometry of Meaning and The Reflexive Universe. Along with the alchemical writings of C.G.Jung, they are the most important contemporary books about quaternity and ‘anthropo’ process. Young/Jung’s research inform SQ1’s model of exploratory learning; this is implicit in my use of quaternistic matrices and integral oppositions in tool designs. The Arthur Young web site provides much to investigate. The essays there are all excellent; for starters: “The Four Levels of Process“.

Grove International, one of my favorite visionary ‘schematicists,’ has published a terrific poster A Theory of Process putting Young’s little known and important work in graphical summary form.

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DREAMS OF BEAVERS AND BONOBOS

The essence of Mithen’s cathedral metaphor — that closed-off sectors of mental life became open to integration, cumulative speculation, and enthusiastic discovery — is most compelling. It surely describes a quantum leap in the flexibility and scope of consciousness that does, indeed, make sense of the cultural explosion of the period 40k to 10k, B.P. One aspect of his theory, however, appears unacceptable in light of the material we have collected, namely that there was ever a time when our ancestors had only general intelligence and no mental modules or archetypes to organize their experience. On purely logical grounds, it makes no sense to think that evolution had to start all over with Homo sapiens and create entirely new archetypes. Our brain is an advanced primate brain, and when we began to walk upright and assemble in larger and larger numbers, we must have had mental modules which were variations on those inherited by our closest relatives among the primates. But even if we set logic aside, the evidence tells us that we share fundamental structures of mind with bees, blackbirds, beavers, and bonobos. excerpt

Archetypal Memory and the Genetic/Darwinian Paradigm (John Ryan Haule)

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