Monday, August 29, 2005

Credentials this!

In the comments over at the Pandas Thumb about the recent developments surrounding Iowa University faculty asking the University Board to reject ID as science, after certain pro-ID comments by one of the astronomy professors Guillermo Gonzalez shows William A. Dembski (A leading ID proponent) having a bit of a bad day:
PvM: Do you have an anti-ID text generator? Plug in the names, places, and a few other specifics, and just let it run? Such a generator is easy enough to program since it depends on only two rules: First, if you criticize Darwinism or defend ID, it doesn’t matter how many credentials you have, or in what fields — you are by definition ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked (witness RS and GG). Second, if you defend Darwinism or criticize ID, it doesn’t matter whether you have minimal credentials in unrelated fields — or no credentials at all — you are licensed to spit on anyone in the first category. And get quoted as an authority in the mainstream media (witness NM).
The first thing is that he seems to make this an issue about credentials, which is typical of creationists who constantly appeal to their lists of scientists who reject evolution or similar (see here for one such scientist leaving one of their 'lists'). Ultimately, it's an irrelevant side issue and I don't regard that as being the most important issue. Sure, we can note that many ID proponents don't have degrees in a relevant field of biology, but this by itself doesn't make their arguments irrelevant or automatically without merit. All that matters is if their arguments can stack up under scrutiny and hold up scientifically.

ID arguments, like those in the Privileged Planet that Guillermo Gonzalez authored have had numerous arguments presented against it and cosomological ID (That the universe looks designed for life and discovery, note this isn't a biological ID argument). This is similar to the numerous critiques of both ID books and papers that have come out from the likes of William Dembski and Michael Behe. Unfortunately, rather than trying to work through the problems presented the ID movement seems to ignore the critical failings of its hypotheses and that they have a serious lack of hard verifiable data. Dembski in particular, seems to prefer comparing his critics to Russian leaders rather than bothering to address the actual science in the critiques of his work.

When scientists complain that ID is without merit and scientifically vacuous, they say so for precisely these reasons. ID proponents would sooner whine about credentials than actually address the scientific deficiencies and problems with their own arguments. They would sooner spend money on a political campaign, namely the 'teach the controversy' campaign and not on doing real research on making testable predictions using ID. ID is, in a word, scientifically vacuous and without merit because they simply refuse to do the same scientific process that everyone else has to do.

I'll leave this quote from Lenny Flank from the previously linked Pandas Thumb comments to sum up things appropriately:

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank

Posted by William Dembski

PvM: Do you have an anti-ID text generator?


Do you have a scientific theory of ID?


Game over.