A Turd By Any Other Name Would Smell As…

Sometimes you feel like responding to something on the internet is a big fat waste of time. This post is definitely one of those kinds of things. It’s major SIWOTI Syndrome. I’m dumb for doing this. But I can’t help myself. I actually interrupted watching Joss Whedon’s DVD commentary of The Avengers to write this shit. I suck. But I’ve got shit to say, and I’m dumb enough to say it. At least I’m drunk. That’s less an excuse than a mea culpa, but it’s all I got.

Anyways, so Jerry Coyne made a light hearted post about a silly t-shirt. It was really just filler posting for his blog. It didn’t really amount to much. I’ll admit that I often forget the periodic table of elements, so it took me a few seconds to get the joke. Again, I’m dumb and I suck. But whatever. The point is, it’s a nothing post taking a light jab at the ID movement.

Enter Lee Bowman, who posted the following in response:

Actually, there is a controversy over the summation of tentative causative factors within evolutionary theory, and in my considered view, there are multiple causative factors.

But is interventionary input by a directed source even a possibility? Of course, but it eclipses orbiting teapots.

I occasionally comment on Yahoo Answers, although a back and forth exchange doesn’t work well there.

My biggest concern was what I view as a misconception over what ID entails, evident by the answers preceding mine.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130124202750AANy5NV

Where to begin with this shit? He completely missed the point of Russell’s teapot; he’s ignorant of the fact that evolutionary theory already involves multiple causal factors; he’s using fancy-talk and $10 words to disguise the fact that he provides NO actual evidence; he confounds possibility with plausibility (the existence of unicorns is possible, but that doesn’t make unicorns scientific); he swipes at previous commenters without bothering to actually point out any flaws they made; and he is, in general, bloviating like a big gas bag and then giving us a link to his “concern”, which is just another comment on another thread at Yahoo where he bloviates some more:

First, I am a rationalist, or free thinker, which eclipses both liberal and conservative philosophies. And by that, I mean that I view the evidence in assessing the data, NOT an indoctrinated conclusion assessed by others, and in this case BOTH religion and materialist oriented science regarding evolutionary theory.

That said, I’ll now give you my interpretation of ID within biology. It is simply an adjunct hypothesis regarding causative factors in producing functional complexity, and sits with equal status along with natural causation. Both are valid hypotheses, and IMO, both were operatives in the evolutionary processes.

So in answer to the question, first, we need definitions.

Evolution = an overall set of processes which have culminated in living organisms.

Intelligent Design = not a separate theory from ToE, but a causative hypothesis entailing directed input at key points, by a single or multiple intelligences, and NOT based on scriptural accounts.

Natural Selection of genetic variation = a causative hypothesis entailing non-directed input to phenotypic advancements, which result in fecundity advantages based on sexual and environmental selective pressures.

Horizontal Gene Transfer and other natural processes are hypothesized to produce upward complexity and novelty as well. All of the above are hypothetical and equally viable at this time.

Now that ID is properly understood and defined, it sits within evolutionary theory in addition to natural causative factors, and cannot be ruled out summarily. It is thus a legitimate concept for discussion and further research, classrooms included.

More word salad, and even less actual substance. What I’m finding really annoying at this point is his penchant for inventing new terms without bothering to define them.  What, for example, is an “adjunct hypothesis”? I’ve been studying philosophy of science for almost 15 years and never come across such a term. I’ve seen the term “auxiliary hypothesis”, but an example of an auxiliary hypothesis is something like “The sample in this particular Petri dish is not contaminated”. Clearly not what Lee Bowman has in mind. But it doesn’t stop there. What’s a “Causative hypothesis”? What’s a “phenotypic advancement”? What’s a “fecundity advantage”? None of these terms occur in the scientific or philosophical literature, and exactly where they fit into it is never made clear by Mr. Bowman. We can speak of causal hypotheses in philosophy of science, but the question will revolve more around how properly to structure the experimental and control groups in designing an experiment which can prove more than mere correlation in a statistical study. And while you’ll hear a lot about phenotypes in a biology class, you won’t hear much about their “advancement” because that’s just nonsensical. Evolution doesn’t have a direction and no phenotype is more “advanced” than any other except in a highly relativized sense. And “fecundity advantage” just seems like Lee Bowman’s attempt to make the term “natural selection” sound smarter by using bigger words to say it. Blah. Not impressed.

Bowman’s definitions are utterly worthless and unoperationalizable. Defining evolution as “an overall set of processes which have culminated in living organisms” is like defining general relativity as “a set of physical interactions that, like, make galaxies and shit.” Worthless. General relativity is testable and well supported if you define it like an adult human being would, but if you insist on doing nothing but stringing words together that don’t actually mean anything, then that’s exactly what you’ll get. There IS, in fact, a very testable and very mathematically definable definition of general relativity, just like there are testable and definable formulations of the theory of evolution, but you have to do this horrible thing called STUDY SOME FUCKING SCIENCE to understand them. If you did this horrible thing called STUDY SOME FUCKING SCIENCE, you would understand why “a causative hypothesis entailing directed input at key points, by a single or multiple intelligences,” is meaningless gibberish. The ID proponents have, only on rare occasions, tried to define what these “key points” where intelligent intervention are. Every time, someone has pointed them to experimental findings which show that no such ID is required at this so-called “key point” (examples include bacterial flagella and the Krebs cycle). ID proponents respond by changing their definition of what’s a “key point”. It’s just an old-fashioned Moving the Goalposts fallacy, dressed up in fancy language. There’s no way to operationalize the idea of “key points” where ID is needed, because every time someone does operationalize it ID fails, and its proponents just move their “key point” to some other aspect of biology.

The theory of evolution (which includes natural selection, genetics, genetic drift, common descent, evo devo, etc.) is testable, and has been tested, and has passed those tests. Intelligent Design is not testable. A fortiori, no test has ever supported it. And Lee Bowman hasn’t changed any of this. He’s just dressed up creationism in fancy terms like “interventionary input by a directed source” and magically declared himself to be “a rationalist, or free thinker, which eclipses both liberal and conservative philosophies” (I don’t believe in god, but even I avoid calling myself rationalist and freethinker. It just sounds pretentious most of the time).  At first, I responded to him briefly (which was wise–what I am doing now is definitely not wise):

LeeBowman,

You seem to be under the impression that taking the exact same things a zillion people have said before and gussying them up in stilted, needlessly prolix language makes your comments sound more rational or more relevant.

It doesn’t. Whether you say, “God done it” or “interventionary input by a directed source”, it’s still discredited gibberish. I actually have more respect for the rednecks who yell “God done it!” and wave their Bibles around. At least they’re just simply stating what they believe. Your brand of pseudo-intellectual sophistry is much worse.

I should have just left it at that. I really should. Lee Bowman responded on Jan 27, and I should just ignore it, because he doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said by a bajillion creationists before him. He doesn’t present any new experimental evidence. He doesn’t formulate any new hypothesis that hadn’t already been spewed out by creationists pretending not to be creationists. He in fact does not do anything new at all in any way. So I should just ignore him.

But god damn it. I’m drunk. I’m surly. Fuck this guy. Give me your counterarguments, you magnificent Lee Bowman bastard you…

Ah, but what may “seem” to be the case (in your case)

Let’s not overuse the word “case”. It’s especially ill-advised to include two very different senses of the word “case” in the same sentence at the same time, like you just did. You wouldn’t want to equivocate between what “seems” to be the “case” and what’s my “case”. This is especially true since the “quotes” you put around words kinda undermine whatever “case” you’re trying to make in that regard.  When you put the word “seem” in quotes, are you trying to allege that it doesn’t actually seem that way to me? That I’m misusing the word “seem”? If not, why put the quotes around the word? I put the word “case” in quotes because that’s what one does when one wants to discuss a word as a word. I’m still a bit confused as to why you put the word “seem” in quotes. You are not discussing the word “seem” itself, which makes me think that you put those quotes there without really thinking about what putting quotes around an English word means.

Oh, wait, I see. You’re just scare-quoting me when you put quotes around “seem”. Sorry. I was too distracted by your clumsy use of the word “case”. If you don’t want me to take you to task for how you use “case” in the future, then don’t needlessly put “seem” in quotes, and it won’t happen. But if you want to use bullshit scare-quotes on me, I’m happy to reciprocate. Also, my use of the word “seem” does not merit scare-quotes in your response, unless you disagree with me about what the word “seem” means. Scare-quotes are only warranted when you allege that the quoted author is using the word inappropriately. Since you never made any such “case”, you can take your scare quotes and “shove” them up your “ass”.

Ah, but what may “seem” to be the case (in your case) is a blatantly false assumption based upon several false presumptions.

And how much time have you put into examining your presumptions? Or, even worse, your assumptions based on presumptions?

One, that ID is a religious view, two, that anyone espousing it has an a priori religious position, and three, that couching that view in loquacious verbiage to sneak it in under the wire is merely a tactic.

First off, “loquacious” is a description of the person who spews the words, not a description of the words themselves. There’s no such thing as “loquacious verbiage”. If you must use big words, please use them properly. At least look them up in a dictionary or thesaurus first. That’s not too much to ask. Seriously. I’m not kidding about this. People using big words without bothering to learn what they mean is a big pet peeve of mine. Use the words the way they should be used. Don’t just make up your own imaginary meaning for words which have nothing to do with what they really mean. If you keep improperly using big words, I’m going to call you a Sparkling Yak Sesquipedalian. By my imaginary definition,  Sparkling means “Numb nuts”, “yak” means “internet faker”, and “sesquipedalian” means “sesquipedalian”. Look it up, bitch. (“Bitch” means you.)  If you don’t want me to make up imaginary meanings of words, then stop doing it yourself. Use “loquacious” according to its actual definition, or STFU.

Firstly, ID is an evidence based hypothesis.

That’s laughable. Every time an ID proponent has proposed a hypothesis that can be tested by evidence (such as bacterial flagella or blood clotting), tests have shown that Intelligent Design fails. How do they respond? By changing the standards of the test. ID is not evidence based by any standard.

There are not any experimental programs currently using any ID model. No ID proponent had produced any new experimental data. If you go to any biology laboratory anywhere in the world, you will find scientists using the theory of evolution to construct their experiments. And these experiments work. But you won’t find people using ID to construct experiments. That’s because “Invisible undefined magic man did it” is not a testable hypothesis. ID is promulgated by lots of people, but  ID is not promulgated because some scientific evidence supports it. None does. It’s promulgated because there are a large number of Americans who believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur to the gun range, and they feel all poopy inside about the fact that all of modern science contradicts what they believe, so they pay good money for people who pose as scientific rationalists to pretend to treat Jesus riding a dino to the gun range like it’s not a stupid, crazy idea.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid and crazy.

While to some it may imply a monotheistic god, this is a faith based position that may proceed from design inferences, but does not predicate a design inference. ID is based primarily upon the improbability of natural causation where probability bounds are exceeded.

“Probability bounds”? What do you mean by that? Do you mean Markov conditions? Or is this some kind of Bayesian epistemology? Or is it just big words that mean nothing? Probabilities are defined in terms of a defined number of events picked out of some probability space. Both the probability space and the function that picks out an event need to be defined, but Bowman attempts neither. The work I’ve done involving probabilities, such as  Decision Theory, Markov Decision Processes, and Bayesian Networks, don’t involve any kind of “probability bounds” being “exceeded”. This is just Lee Bowman inventing terms without defining them again. Big surprise there.

Of course, he’s not really doing any new work or research. Actually, he’s just appealing to the old false dichotomy of creationism: “Either it’s designed, or it just happened randomly.” This is illogical, as the algorithmic process of natural selection is neither designed nor random, so once again Lee Bowman is just using fancy sounding language to express dumb, already disproven ideas. What Bowman calls “the improbability of natural causation” is just the old Watchmaker argument, which goes all the way back to William Paley in 1802. Natural selection is not random–it’s determined by the environment. So any theory that bases its explanatory power on whether it’s more explanatory than randomness is already a straw man.

Secondly, there is no basis for this assumption, simply because there have been examples cited where this was evident. Example: Judge Jones’ assumption that actions by the school board in the Dover PA district, along with a few other examples, proved that ID was religion based. The scientific basis for ID went completely over his head.

How law works and how science works are two different things. People with functioning brains get this. Lee Bowman is not one of these people.

Judge John Jones was charged with multiple tasks in the Dover trial. One was to evaluate the scientific merit of ID. Another was to adjudicate the claims about whether ID should be taught in schools. Another was to adjudicate the actions of the people on the Dover school board. Another was to decide whether their particular ID policy was consistent with judicial precedent on constitutional law. In other words, he needed to be a Judge. ‘Cause that’s what judges do. They interpret the law.

Lee Bowman has not actually read Judge Jones’ decision. But you can read it here. Merely reading words in a document will already put you way, way, way, way ahead of anything Bowman has to say. Judge Jones was not merely interpreting the science. He was interpreting the law, insofar as it relates to science. The pro-ID evidence presented to him consisted of some religious nuts who knew nothing about the very topics they expounded upon (i.e. the Dover school board), and scientists such as Michael Behe who openly admitted that ID requires that supernatural claims be allowed into science. Basically he had people saying “Jesus Jesus Jesus!” and people saying “We aren’t screaming ‘Jesus!’, but we don’t have any other reason to be here…” The reason for including ID in Dover was religious.

No scientific basis for ID was assessed, because none was presented. No experiments supporting ID were presented at the trial, because no such experiments have ever been performed. This is in stark contrast to evolution by natural selection, where numerous experiments were presented, none of which were challenged by the defendants. They just simply didn’t have anything to respond with.

And three, what I stated was what design inferences are based upon, i.e. the postulated addition of intervention to natural processes at key points, to facilitate subsequent altered phyla.

What the fuck are “altered phyla”? That’s not a scientific term, and you also have not made any attempt to define what the hell it means. It’s yet again another term you throw out there without bothering to define what the fuck it means.

And what are “key points”? How does one decide what “point” is a “key” point? What scientific standard is used to distinguish regular old points from “key” points? And what makes any phylum “subsequent”, regardless of whether it’s “altered” or not? “Altered” phyla is already nonsense, but calling some phylum “subsequent” on top of being “altered” and adding in that this phylum had some kind of completely undefined “key point” is just piling undefined nonsense on top of undefined nonsense. If you’re going to use terms that have no presence in the scientific or philosophical literature, at least do us the favor of providing a definition. And “a causative hypothesis entailing non-directed input to phenotypic advancements” is NOT a good definition, seeing as you never bothered to define what the fuck a “phenotypic advancement” is.

While not offered as hard fact due to its non-empirically replicable forensic nature

Forensic science is perfectly empirical and replicable. Nothing that you have said has even addressed that point at all. Basically, you’re saying, “I don’t have jack shit to support ID, but I can PRETEND that’s also true for natural selection!” Well, sorry, you’re wrong. Natural selection has tons of empirical evidence to support it. Galapagos finches are just the beginning. There’s also the massive mounds of evidence from comparative morphology, biogeography, genomics, domestic breeding, population genetics, deep homologies, ecology, and tons of other areas. You have not addressed any of these. The reason you haven’t addressed any of them is because you don’t know anything about them.

neither are totally natural causative processes, which have not been empirically confirmed as well.

Remember, Bowman is claiming that my problem is that I think ID proponents are advocating for the existence of some kind of deity. Lee Bowman claims that’s a bogus “presumption” on my part. And yet he couches the argument in terms of “natural” versus “designed”. What’s the alternative to “natural”, Lee? If it’s not “supernatural”, then what is it?

At least at this juncture, neither are proven as absolutes.

True, in that science doesn’t deal in absolutes. Rather than absolute truths, the Evolution/Intelligent Design issues could be better summarized thus:

Amount of evidence:

Evolution: A Fucking Shit Ton (Pretty much the entire science of biology provides evidence for it)

Intelligent Design: Almost Nothing (and pretty much the entire science of biology contradicts it)

But none of this stops Lee Bowman from being very, very proud of himself.

Omigosh, I just noticed that my response to the evolution/ ID question posed by ABA was just awarded ‘Best Answer’ by him. Since there were (24) other answers 180 deg. to mine, I guess we must both be creotards

Hmmmm, let’s look at the original question….

Do you believe that both theories of evolution and intelligent design should be taught in school science?

If not tell me if either/or/none should be taught.

Please tell me if your liberal or conservative..
(Studies show liberals are typically more intolerant of other viewpoints so I’d like to test this theory)

Yup. Both creotards. Here, let me pose a similar question:

Do you think people who disagree with me about unicorns being real should have equal time in schools?

Tell me whether either/or/none unicorn science should be taught to other people’s children.

(Please indicate whether or not you’re a different political orientation from me, because I’ve heard people who have different politics from me think differently from me and the people who told me this called it science without actually providing experimental evidence, so I want to know whether you think differently from me so I can ignore your opinion from the get-go also my grammar sucks i hate the english language suck it education dumb people rule!!!!!111)

Oh my god, you got voted up on a Yahoo thread by a barely literate creationist. Maybe both of you are just narcissistic…

Or perhaps just rational thinkers …

No. You’ll be classified as rotifers based on morphology before either of you is ever mistaken for a rational thinker.

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