Selene

The Deniable Darwin

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Folks:

I just heard this fellow interviewed by Dennis Miller whose radio show is phenomenal. Berlinski was his guest today. ** I included the Wiki site on him. Extremely engaging sharp mind. Miller is a great interviewer. David tells the story of how the whale of today evolved from the cow. It is a scream, but when you do the mental math with him you say hmmm.

Berlinski is a 75 year old, self described, secular Jew.

David Berlinski and The Deniable Darwin Anika Smith play_button.gif Click here to listen.

On today's episode of ID the Future, mathematician and consummate skeptic David Berlinski shares with Discovery President Bruce Chapman about his award-winning essays from Commentary Magazine and the answers that are unacceptable to the scientific community.

The essays first published in Commentary Magazine are now available in The Deniable Darwin & Other Essays, a new book published by Discovery Institute Press, where nothing is exempt from Berlinski's famous skepticism, excluding neither Darwinism nor intelligent design from his critical eye. The 32 essays included in this volume span fifteen years of wit and insight. Visit the website at www.davidberlinski.org for more information.

**http://en.wikipedia....David_Berlinski

Adam

The process of evolution based on natural selection is falsifiable. However no evidence gotten so far falsifies the theory and tons of evidence corroberate the the theory. The theory of evolution by natural selection which is interaction between the organism and the environment by physical processes governed by physical law is totally consistent with physics and chemistry and can be observed (in some cases) in real time. In other cases the processes is very slow and takes a long time (relative to human life-span) and must be inferred by indirect means.

No better falsifiable theory has been proposed and the theory of evolution addresses a large range of biological phenomena.

Intelligent Design is a looser. It is not falsifiable by any empirical means. It is NOT a scientific theory. Unless there is clear evidence for the existence of a Designer operating according to a design scheme consistent with observable phenomena the hypothesis is unsupported.

Berlinski is a very clever chap, but his is more glib than profound.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The process of evolution based on natural selection is falsifiable.

True, but only to those (like you) who are intellectually honest, and don't feel that the entire edifice of "Science" will crumble if natural selection is proven incorrect -- or, at least, insufficient to account for all the things that are claimed for it.

In practice, however, most Darwinian True Believers (DTB) play the ad-hoc "one-up" game: after showing that a certain process either did not exist or could not exist to perform the selection, a DTB will simply ASSUME and INVENT some other "plausible" process that maybe, might, perhaps, could have performed the function of selecting the trait in question. This, of course, is an illegitimate way of arguing, but DTBs do it all the time. Then the skeptic is left with an infinite regress of "perhapses" and "maybes" that he is supposed to refute.

However no evidence gotten so far falsifies the theory and tons of evidence corroberate the the theory.

I'm afraid this is incorrect. The truth is this: to the extent that Natural Selection has been proven true, it is completely trivial and says nothing about the larger questions of "did life arise originally from non-living entities; if so, how?" and "Given the existence of primal organisms, was it merely the twin processes of mutation and natural selection that accounts for speciation?" And again, to the extent that we actually see undeniable change over time -- as in the Burgess Shale -- an explanation that relies on mutation, natural selection, and slow, gradual change over time, is inadequate.

Natural Selection is either false or merely trivially true.

The theory of evolution by natural selection which is interaction between the organism and the environment by physical processes governed by physical law is totally consistent with physics and chemistry and can be observed (in some cases) in real time.

Such as?

No better falsifiable theory has been proposed and the theory of evolution addresses a large range of biological phenomena.

Only a "large range"? Interesting. That marks you as an independent thinker, and not a DTB. The latter, you see, would dogmatically assert that Darwinism addresses ALL biological phenomena. I'm happy to hear that there is at least one class of biological events that you believe cannot, or might not, be explainable merely by reference to random mutation hoisted up "mount improbable" by means of an inexplicable, unaccountable "Natural Selection."

Intelligent Design is . . . is not falsifiable by any empirical means.

Absolutely it is. All you have to do is take a biological process -- the vision cascade, for example -- and give a plausible Darwinian pathway for its existence. Such pathways, of course, are asserted to exist in much of the professional literature -- sort of on faith; but when pinned down to cite precisely how such a pathway came into existence, advocates beat a hasty retreat, suddenly remembering a dinner date they have to attend.

It is NOT a scientific theory. Unless there is clear evidence for the existence of a Designer

Oh, that's simple: that something can be shown to have been the product of intelligence in no way requires that we know anything about who the designer was. All we have to show is that design is a better explanation for the existence of said phenomenon than a non-design (i.e., either random or deterministic) explanation.

Berlinski is a very clever chap, but his is more glib than profound.

Berlinksi might even agree with you on that; to my knowledge, he has never claimed to be profound. However, being glib never prevented anyone from also speaking the truth.

Here's a link to a relevant (and glib) article by Berlinski, originally appearing in "Commentary" magazine:

http://www.idnet.com.au/files/pdf/The%20Origin%20of%20Life%20David%20Berlinski.pdf

"On the Origins of Life"

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Natural selection is the chief but not only means of evolution. Also important, e.g., is genetic drift.

That is something that Darwin could not have known. In Darwin's day, the existence of genes was not known. It was dimly anticipated by Mendel just about the time that Darwin published -Origin of Species-. Unfortunately Mendel was a monk and knot a well known or celebrated scholar or natural philosopher. Just an aside: Strange is not that a little known patent clerk and a monk in an obscure Czeck monastery produced the means to overturn the commonly held view of the world.

Anyway, Darwin did for biology what Mendele'ev did for chemistry. Darwin, without any knowledge of genetic inheritance glommed onto variation plus natural selection as a major engine of species development purely by empirical means. Mendele'ev without quantum theory and especially without the Pauli Exclusion Principle lined up the known elements correctly by purely empirical means. Both men went to the world, acted in it, looked on it and learned something of how it worked. Neither was an arm-chair philosopher.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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delete duplicate

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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I.D. is a nightmare when used as a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing by what are, for the greater part, various elements of the same old Fundamentalist/Religious Right groups that have made life miserable at least since from when Unocal founders Lyman and Milton Stewart anonymously(!) funded the publication of The Fundamentals (1910-1915), and its subsequent mass air-drop onto anywhere they could dump it. Free books, hey, welcome to your new curriculum! This body of, uh, "works" included one by George Frederick Wright on evolution, but he did not attack biological evolution (that Wright wrote for this at all can be attributed to an alteration of views/crisis of faith thing he experienced after being exposed to Briggs' "higher criticism"). Overall, "The Fundamentals" is nightmare reading and if you want hurt yourself, by all means go ahead, despite being warned--a few pages might only cause minor brain-bleed). Anyway, if you notice, one of the very common I.D. lead-offs is a geological one.

Now, modern I.D. has been slicked up, of course. And it has been absorbed, remolded, and integrated--largely so, I believe, by people who have never had the discipline to first fully study its source materials (and their sources, and so on). It looks very shiny if you are not a practicing Idea Man. The end product is horribly distilled, and often taught by morons, so you can imagine what you get there. Or, a more enlightened teacher is forced to present it, which usually makes them sputter with frustration. I.D could be addressed from a historical perspective, or in many other classes--but nowadays, with proficiency testing and national standards and all, you don't get much room to offer, say, a "philosophy of science" course.

If I run into a freethinking person who is looking at I.D., I am usually thinking that I have seen worse starts--at least you see a chance that there can be discussion.

But how and why Fundies are using I.D. is a very different matter. These are people who do not understand that evolution does not conflict with spirituality. And, they are people who are either very arrogant, or using very bad thinking processes--by this, I mean things like imposing man-like qualities upon the Universe. Intelligence is a man-word. The Universe is the Universe. If we see things the Universe does that resembles things that we do, this should not surprise these people, what with us being a part of the damn Universe. Fundamentalists tend to be notoriously poor scholars, and dishonest thinkers as well as blindered theologians, I think, because they deny and disown many things in many disciplines. These people don't just blank out at science--they blank out when dealing with other faith traditions. One of the worst things you can do is tell them that you are very conversant with Christianity, the Bible, and so forth, and enjoy it greatly, but of course also understand why parables were developed (for children and simple folk)--that if you are using allegory or parable, you might want to explain to your audience how that works. But Fundamentalists do not believe that because they are Fundamentalists.

Meanwhile there are heavyweights all over the world working on marrying/integrating science with spirituality, while these guys are like "we got this one, here's your package." Anyone who isn't a waterhead knows it just isn't that easy with something like this--"we are, after all, Professionals."

rde

Edited by Rich Engle

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Intelligent Design is . . . is not falsifiable by any empirical means.

Absolutely it is. All you have to do is take a biological process -- the vision cascade, for example -- and give a plausible Darwinian pathway for its existence. Such pathways, of course, are asserted to exist in much of the professional literature -- sort of on faith; but when pinned down to cite precisely how such a pathway came into existence, advocates beat a hasty retreat, suddenly remembering a dinner date they have to attend.

It is NOT a scientific theory. Unless there is clear evidence for the existence of a Designer

Oh, that's simple: that something can be shown to have been the product of intelligence in no way requires that we know anything about who the designer was. All we have to show is that design is a better explanation for the existence of said phenomenon than a non-design (i.e., either random or deterministic) explanation.

Berlinski is a very clever chap, but his is more glib than profound.

Berlinksi might even agree with you on that; to my knowledge, he has never claimed to be profound. However, being glib never prevented anyone from also speaking the truth.

Here's a link to a relevant (and glib) article by Berlinski, originally appearing in "Commentary" magazine:

http://www.idnet.com.au/files/pdf/The%20Origin%20of%20Life%20David%20Berlinski.pdf

"On the Origins of Life"

"Absolutely it is. All you have to do is take a biological process -- the vision cascade, for example -- and give a plausible Darwinian pathway for its existence. Such pathways, of course, are asserted to exist in much of the professional literature -- sort of on faith; but when pinned down to cite precisely how such a pathway came into existence, advocates beat a hasty retreat, suddenly remembering a dinner date they have to attend."

Complete nonsense - Did you read (or if you did, you obviously did not understand) The Blind Watchmaker?

"In developing his argument that natural selection can explain the complex adaptations of organisms, Dawkins' first concern is to illustrate the difference between the potential for the development of complexity of pure randomness as opposed to that of randomness coupled with cumulative selection. He demonstrates this by the example of the Weasel program. Dawkins then describes his experiences with a more sophisticated computer model of artificial selection implemented in a program also called The Blind Watchmaker, which was sold separately as a teaching aid (open source implementations are currently available[1]). "

Do you have any computer models of Intelligent Design? But, wait a second... If the designer designed such complex things, then what designed the designer, or the designer's designer, or on and on? What, did you not think of this??? Did this not occur to you that a "designer" idea is totally absurd on it's face? Your own 'logic' of why a designer must exist is the strongest argument why it cannot exist.

" All we have to show is that design is a better explanation for the existence of said phenomenon than a non-design (i.e., either random or deterministic) explanation."

Even more nonsensical than the first nonsense. A "better explanation" implies evidence, preferably with predictive claims that can be verified - or refuted. A "better explanation" is certainly not one that refutes itself!

Bob

Edited by Bob_Mac

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But how and why Fundies are using I.D. is a very different matter. These are people who do not understand that evolution does not conflict with spirituality. And, they are people who are either very arrogant, or using very bad thinking processes--by this, I mean things like imposing man-like qualities upon the Universe. Intelligence is a man-word. The Universe is the Universe. If we see things the Universe does that resembles things that we do, this should not surprise these people, what with us being a part of the damn Universe. Fundamentalists tend to be notoriously poor scholars, and dishonest thinkers as well as blindered theologians, I think, because they deny and disown many things in many disciplines. These people don't just blank out at science--they blank out when dealing with other faith traditions. One of the worst things you can do is tell them that you are very conversant with Christianity, the Bible, and so forth, and enjoy it greatly, but of course also understand why parables were developed (for children and simple folk)--that if you are using allegory or parable, you might want to explain to your audience how that works. But Fundamentalists do not believe that because they are Fundamentalists.

The specific grievance that Fundies have with the theory of evolution is that is collides with a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. Which is passing strange. The Rashi (R. Schlomo Yitzchak, circa 1040-1105 c.e.) pointed out that the creation story is included in the Book of Genesis to make the case that G-D is the maker and owner of the world and that He can grant parts of it to whomsoever it pleases Him to do so. This includes granting the Holy Land to Jacob and his descendants. In short it is a kind of White Paper defending the the claim of the Jews to the Holy Land.

Even the Orthodox Jews do not take the Book of Genesis literally, but the Fundies do.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Berlinski went head to head with Christopher Hitchens earlier this year, in a debate sponsored by the Fixed Point Foundation.

Here's the first of several Youtube videos covering the debate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-mS5nr-dU8

Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five.

I don't really understand why the faceless new member with the fake name is digging in his bag of woo and presenting it to OL members. If Aristeeto wanted a thorough discussion with those who have grappled with Berlinski's output, why not engage with folks like Mark Perakh, or engage with the folk at Talk Origins? There are tremendous, lengthy, detailed and well-structured discussions that could likely answer his queries or inhabit his nightmares.

Not to disparage OL members or our grasp of evolutionary theory and its discontents, but evolutionary discussions elsewhere are often much more informed and focused.

I suspect that Aristoothbrush has had no luck in the specialized forums, due to his cranky nature.

He has lately dropped in to SOLOpassion, crank meter in the red zone, and been put to moderation. Maybe next he will pop up in OO.net or RoR and snarl out some flabby animadversions on the Dang Evulutioneers.

As it is so far, I haven't got much more than slogans and epithets from the murk of AA's cranky posts -- so he goes into the Ignore pot for me. There is not enough time in the world to correct or respond to anti-abortion or anti-evolution loons who have already dismissed interlocutors as True Believers or Dishonest Monsters.

Edited by william.scherk

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Reasonable debate about evolution can pertain only to the history of species, the relevance and strength of evidence for this or that mechanism of evolution, what inferences we may plausibly draw from genetic patterns and homologies, etc.

What can it mean to reject the fact of evolution, i.e., the fact that conditions internal and external to organisms can bring about changes over time in the average characteristics of species? A rejection of evolution per se is a rejection of causality. What's the alternative to this "mere theory"? Well, when they're not being coy, the foes of evolution make reference to an undetectable magician who, they claim, has created all the species without the encumbrance of any intervening natural processes. This invisible superpowerful magician pulls rabbits, tortoises, mosquitos and all other species out of his omnipotent hat. This "theory" is called creationism.

And the "evidence" for this fantastical bio-method? A story in the Bible! That's IT! That's ALL they've got! They scream at Darwin and his successors not because they err or fail to agree on everything, but because they don't regard blindly emotional allegiance to a sketchy Biblical myth as trumping all objective evidence and rational inquiry. The "creationists" look at all the evidence, patterns and conclusions and bleat to each other: "We don't have to believe it, do we? Do we?"

Edited by Starbuckle

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Reasonable debate about evolution can pertain only to the history of species, the relevance and strength of evidence for this or that mechanism of evolution, what inferences we may plausibly draw from genetic patterns and homologies, etc.

What can it mean to reject the fact of evolution, i.e., the fact that conditions internal and external to organisms can bring about changes over time in the average characteristics of species? A rejection of evolution per se is a rejection of causality. What's the alternative to this "mere theory"? Well, when they're not being coy, the foes of evolution make reference to an undetectable magician who, they claim, has created all the species without the encumbrance of any intervening natural processes. This invisible superpowerful magician pulls rabbits, tortoises, mosquitos and all other species out of his omnipotent hat. This "theory" is called creationism.

And the "evidence" for this fantastical bio-method? A story in the Bible! That's IT! That's ALL they've got! They scream at Darwin and his successors not because they err or fail to agree on everything, but because they don't regard blindly emotional allegiance to a sketchy Biblical myth as trumping all objective evidence and rational inquiry. The "creationists" look at all the evidence, patterns and conclusions and bleat to each other: "We don't have to believe it, do we? Do we?"

Religion is just like anything else--philosophy, sports, writing, music, what have you, in that you always find an annoyingly high amount of the lazy, the mean-spirited, the undisciplined. . .and when you find one that possesses all those qualities, you have a hack. And there are a lot of hacks.

Ignorance knows few boundaries, but for some reason I am still sometimes surprised by this, and end up resorting to button-pushing if I engage in debate with a Fundamentalist. For instance, you know they generally despise Catholics, right? That's pretty much a given. So, when they start up on the Creationist dealio, I have gone at it a certain way. . . "Even the Catholic Church finally sanctioned evolution and The Big Bang, with the exception (or addition) that prior to this God reserved a soul for man (etc.). But you know, they've always been fairly astute scholars; fairly early on they got to the point of saying that biblical study should be done in a way accounting for the man writing it, and the times in which he lived." And things like "Why would you reject such a massive, elegant, and intricately-unfolded process? Would you expect God is simple? Who would expect less?" That sort of routine. Once in awhile I get them to thinking for a spell, but 9 for 10 it causes short circuits, the conditioning takes over (or they take it to the minister, who, being "properly educated" proceeds to regroove them with charisma and dog/pony action) and they revert back, content in the warm glow of the not-thinking. I guess they figure God doesn't want much thinking going on.

Edited by Rich Engle

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Not to disparage OL members or our grasp of evolutionary theory and its discontents, but evolutionary discussions elsewhere are often much more informed and focused.

[snip]

As it is so far, I haven't got much more than slogans and epithets from the murk of AA's cranky posts -- so he goes into the Ignore pot for me.

The second quote answers the first. I just read this by the same author, was about to contribute a reply, but recognized that it would be a waste of my time. Maybe I'll do one anyway, we'll see.

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Not to disparage OL members or our grasp of evolutionary theory and its discontents, but evolutionary discussions elsewhere are often much more informed and focused.

[snip]

As it is so far, I haven't got much more than slogans and epithets from the murk of AA's cranky posts -- so he goes into the Ignore pot for me.

The second quote answers the first. I just read this by the same author, was about to contribute a reply, but recognized that it would be a waste of my time. Maybe I'll do one anyway, we'll see.

It does seem a bit scattered.

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Not to disparage OL members or our grasp of evolutionary theory and its discontents, but evolutionary discussions elsewhere are often much more informed and focused.

[snip]

As it is so far, I haven't got much more than slogans and epithets from the murk of AA's cranky posts -- so he goes into the Ignore pot for me.

The second quote answers the first. I just read this by the same author, was about to contribute a reply, but recognized that it would be a waste of my time. Maybe I'll do one anyway, we'll see.

It does seem a bit scattered.

I actually did end up contributing a reply.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9264&view=findpost&p=116342

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