I say interesting, because it’s at least a little bit unusual in
its approach. It’s not just the same old regurgitation of the same talking
points. It’s still not a great argument, but it’s at least not as boring as
staring at the same stupid arguments over and over again. Alas, it’s not entirely
new, either. It’s an argument that the mutation rates required for humans to have evolved from a primate ancestor would have to be impossibly high.
I’m away on vacation this week, taking my kids to Disney World. Since I’m not likely to have time to write while I’m away, I’m taking the opportunity to re-run some old classic posts which were first posted in the summer of 2006. These posts are mildly revised.
Back when I first wrote this post, I was taking a break from some puzzling debugging.
Since I was already a bit frazzled, and I felt like I needed some comic relief, I decided to
hit one of my favorite comedy sites, Answers in Genesis. I can pretty much always find
something sufficiently stupid to amuse me on their site. On that fateful day, I came across a
gem called Information, science and biology”, by the all too appropriately named
“Werner Gitt”. It’s yet another attempt by a creationist twit to find some way to use
information theory to prove that life must have been created by god.
This article really interested me in the bad-math way, because I’m a big fan of information theory. I don’t pretend to be anything close to an expert in it, but I’m
fascinated by it. I’ve read several texts on it, taken one course in grad school, and had the incredible good fortune of getting to know Greg Chaitin, one of the co-inventors of algorithmic information theory. Basically, it’s safe to say that I know enough about
information theory to get myself into trouble.
Unlike admission above, it looks like the Gitt hasn’t actually read any real
information theory much less understood it. All that he’s done is heard Dembski presenting
one of his wretched mischaracterizations, and then regurgitated and expanded upon them.
Dembski was bad enough; building on an incomplete understanding of Dembski’s misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and outright and errors produces a result
that is just astonishingly ridiculous. It’s actually a splendid example of my mantra on this blog: “the worst math is no math“; the entire article pretends to be doing math – but it’s actual mathematical content is nil. Still, to the day of this repost, I continue
to see references to this article as “Gitt’s math” or “Gitt’s proof”.
Since my post a couple of weeks ago about NASA and the antenna evolution experiment,
I’ve been meaning to write a followup. In both comments and private emails, I’ve gotten
a number of interesting questions about the idea of fitness landscapes, and some of the things
I mentioned in brief throwaway comments. I’m finally finding the time to write about
It’s always amusing to wander over to the Discovery Institute’s blogs, and see what kind of nonsense they’re spouting today. So, today, as I’m feeling like steamed crap, I took a wander over. And what did I find? High grade, low-content rubbish from my old buddy, Casey Luskin. Luskin is, supposedly, a lawyer. He’s not a scientist or a mathematician by any stretch of the imagination. There’s nothing wrong with that in the abstract; the amount of time we have to learn during our lives is finite, and no one can possible know everything. For example, I don’t know diddly-crap about law, American or otherwise; my knowledge of western history is mediocre at best; I don’t really speak any language other than english. I know some physics, but my understanding of anything beyond the basics is very limited. Even when it comes to the topic of this blog, math, I’m at best an enthusiastic amateur.
The problem with Casey, and people like him, is that they’re ignorant of a topic where they believe that they’re experts. Growing up, I was taught to call that kind of behavior not just
ignorant, but pig-ignorant. It’s a foolish kind of arrogance, where you believe that you know as much as people who’ve spent years studying something, even though you’ve never even read an elementary textbook. It’s like the dozens of people who’ve emailed my “disproofs” of Cantor’s theorem, when they don’t actually know what “cardinality” actually means.
In this instance, Casey is annoyed because a group of people at NASA used evolutionary algorithms to create a better antenna.
So I hear, via the Panda’s Thumb, that Uncommon Descent has a new
poster. And he’s off to a rollicking good start, with a post
explaining why Christians who accept the fact of evolution are
incoherent and deluded. (As usual, I don’t link to UD, due to their rampant
dishonesty in silently altering or removing links.)
I am, perhaps, not the best person to respond to his claim, given
that I’m not a Christian. But his argument is so inconsistent, and so
typical of a type of argument that constantly occurs in fundamentalist
gibberings that it doesn’t take a Christian theistic evolutionist
to point out its glaring errors.
Bad from the Bad Ideas Blog sent me a link to some clips from Ben Stein’s new Magnum Opus, “Expelled”. I went and took a look. Randomly, I picked one that looked like a clip from the movie rather than a trailer – it’s the one titled “Genetic Mutation”.
Care to guess how long it took me to find an insane, idiotic error?
Granville Sewell, over at UD, has decided to pretend that he just discovered my earlier critique of his “though experiment” where he claims to simulate the universe. The reason that I say “pretend” is that Sewell originally edited the article that I was mocking in response to my post; now, months later, he’s pretending that he just found it. Uh, yeah, sure, Gran, whatever you say.
(In keeping with my practice, I no longer link to anything at UncommonlyDense; since they feel free to lie, alter posts, and remove posts, there’s no way of knowing what my link will point to tomorrow. Similarly, I’m responding here rather than in a comment there, because UD feels free to censor, edit, or delete comments for any or no reason at all, without notice.)
Astute readers will remember a couple of encounters I had with Sal Cordova from Uncommon Descent a few months ago (here, in the comments, and here). Not too long after that, Sal made a fairly big deal about the fact that he was returning to grad school, and had to stop blogging at UD because the dastardly darwinists would damage his academic prospects if he continued. He played the standard creationist-martyr role, poor guy, persecuted by
all the horrible non-believers. Naturally, it didn’t last long. He’s got his own blog now, called “Young Cosmos”, where he writes his usually pathetic quote-mining, plus what he calls “Advanced creation science”. Naturally, advanced creation science involves doing very, very bad math. In fact, so far, he’s doing the worst math – which, as you’ll of course recall, is no math. To be specific, he’s spouting off about math, without actually doing any.
An alert reader pointed out that William Brookfield posted a response to
my twopart debunking of his argument for design based on a mangling of the second law of thermodynamics. I debated whether it was worth responding to; Mr. Brookfield’s got so little readership that I never noticed his response in my referals, even though it was posted on July 3rd! I check my referals regularly (I’m obsessive about seeing who is linking to my blog), and I’ve never seen ICON-RIDS show up.
But, today, I’m sitting in the hospital while my mother has knee surgery; I’m bored; and I have a throbbing headache. So I’m not up to doing much that requires any serious exercise of my brain. So mocking a moron seems right up my alley this afternoon.
As of 2/24/2008, Sewell has just responded to this, pretending that he just noticed it. To make discussions easier to follow, I have responded with a new post here, and I would appreciate it if comments could be posted there, to keep it all in one place.
My SciBling Mark Hofnagle over at the Denialist blog wanted me to take a look at the pseudo-mathematical ramblings of Granville Sewell. It actually connects with some of the comments in the thread about the paper by Dembski and Marks – Sewell uses part of the article to make the same kind of quantum nonsense claims that showed up here.
Sewell claims to have written a simulator which simulates the Universe, and is complaining that his supposed simulation didn’t produce things like computers or aircraft carriers. I say claims because I’m pretty convinced that he did no such thing. Actually programming a simulator like the simplest of the several he claims to have done, which produces the results that he claims it produced, would be an absolutely astonishing feat of programming, involving a quantity of data that’s more on the scale of Google than on the scale of Granville Sewell’s laptop.