Wednesday, December 21

World

In Yer Face, Behe!

Via, oh, lots of places, comes the news of a well-deserved smackdown of the Intelligent Design movement:
After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
Even better:
After this searching and careful review of ID as espoused by its proponents, as elaborated upon in submissions to the Court, and as scrutinized over a six week trial, we find that ID is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community. ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’, as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.
A personal favourite is this paragraph:
A significant aspect of the IDM is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dr. Barbara Forrest, one of Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, is the author of the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. She has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits which were admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content.
Proponents of ID have often claimed that ID is not religion, but an alternative scientific explanation. We have already established that ID is not science; what the Dover trial showed was that it is indeed religion, and that those who make claims to the contrary are either unreasonably credulous or lying.
Moreover, in turning to Defendants’ lead expert, Professor Behe, his testimony at trial indicated that ID is only a scientific, as opposed to a religious, project for him; however, considerable evidence was introduced to refute this claim. Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. (P-718 at 705) (emphasis added). As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.
And let's not forget our friend Wedge:
The Wedge Document states in its “Five Year Strategic Plan Summary” that the IDM’s goal is to replace science as currently practiced with “theistic and Christian science.”
Kind of a giveaway, that.

The Commissar has the complete ruling. Thanks to Jon at JREF for finding some particularly fine quotes.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:26 PM | Comments (15) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 What a nice Christmas present for those of us who prefer science to fantasy. :) (All ironic overtones intended.)

Posted by: Kathy K at Wednesday, December 21 2005 11:01 PM (Dlv/e)

2 My only hesitation on this is that I am exceedingly wary of a court defining what is and isn't science. While they did get this one right, that doesn't mean they will make every call, nor does it mean they should be in the position to make that call.

Posted by: Chris C. at Thursday, December 22 2005 12:39 PM (yeof2)

3 Hi, Pixy! Miss me?

Chris: I'm even more wary of a court trying to define science, and I don't accept the reasoning in 1) or 2) -- that is, I see no objection a priori to appeals to supernatural causes in science, or to dualistic theories. (In fact, quantum mechanics, probably the most thoroughly tested scientific theory we have, is dualistic in its essence.) But 3) -- that the ID objections to the theory of evolution have been refuted -- is correct, so far as those objections were open to empirical tests. That is, where ID is really scientific, it is known to be false. And this is sufficient reason not to teach ID as possibly valid science.

Still, I believe it would be worthwhile to explain Dr. Behe's argument in a science class, provided that it was accompanied by a proper refutation; for the same reason that Lamarck's model of evolution is taught in science classes, along with the facts that refute it. You don't really understand a theory (scientific or not) if you don't know the reasons to doubt it.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Thursday, December 22 2005 03:52 PM (8LTnv)

4 I'm even more wary of a court trying to define science, and I don't accept the reasoning in 1) or 2) -- that is, I see no objection a priori to appeals to supernatural causes in science, or to dualistic theories. Yes, we know. You're wrong. You can't build a universal, rigorous system of inquiry from dualism or the supernatural (which are essentially the same thing). Because, by definition, if you can build such a system of inquiry, they are not supernatural/dualistic at all, but natural/monistic. In fact, quantum mechanics, probably the most thoroughly tested scientific theory we have, is dualistic in its essence. This was nonsense the last time you claimed it, and it is nonsense now. You say: I observe the world thus. QM tells me it is different. Therefore, it is dualistic in nature. No, Michael. It's not dualistic, it's just that you are wrong and QM is right.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, December 22 2005 06:57 PM (7X4Bl)

5 My only hesitation on this is that I am exceedingly wary of a court defining what is and isn't science. They didn't. They merely noted the accepted definition of science, and that ID failed of that definition. Even if you don't accept the definition, you must agree that ID doesn't meet it. (Which is why the Kansas board of education chose to redefine science.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, December 22 2005 09:52 PM (LUBRF)

6 Pixy, the real problem that the proponents of "Creationism" have is their inability to accept that God can be at work in both the Big Bang and in Evolution (or any other Scientific activity). Their real problem is that they like to stick to the Sunday School concept (which is a Protestant and NOT a Catholic invention) of instantaneous coming into being of everything in the form it has now. Copernicus and even Thomas Aquinas did not think of the world in those terms, but rather in terms of Aristotle and Plato and their visions of creation and the workings of science. Science does not disprove God, rather God provides answers for the huge number of things science cannot yet explain and perhaps never will. The Creationist and "Intelligent Design" lobby are afraid of the fact that science shows that creation is far more complex than they would like it to be, that nothing is simple or "balck and white" and must therefore be studied alongside any religious or spiritual understanding. It really is time that they used a decent translation of the Book of Genesis (or some of the derivative stories it draws upon including the Ballad of Gilgamesh) and dropped the ridiculous translation of the word "Era" as "Day". The originals all speak of the creation happening in periods of time defined as "era" - which can be as long or as short as you like. Ergo, no conflict with Darwinism or with the age of the Cosmos.

Posted by: The Gray Monk at Friday, December 23 2005 11:47 AM (X4ErV)

7 I prepared a lengthy reply to your last comment, Pixy, which your system refused to post. Was this intentional on your part?

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Friday, December 23 2005 05:03 PM (8LTnv)

8 Michael, no, but you might have tripped over the comment filtering system, particularly if you had lots of links.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, December 23 2005 09:20 PM (LUBRF)

9 You say: I observe the world thus. QM tells me it is different. Therefore, it is dualistic in nature. No, I don't say that. I say QM is Dualist because the mathematics of QM describe two different, mutually exclusive dynamical laws -- state evolution and state reduction -- and don't specify which one operates at any given moment. You can claim QM is Monist only by holding the "many worlds" interpretation, according to which state reduction never actually happens; and that interpretation isn't tenable, for the following reason.

Take the simplest possible quantum system, a single spin-1/2 particle. QM says the spin state of this particle is, at all times, some member of a 2-dimensional Hilbert space; that is, it can be expressed as w|up> + z|dn>, where |up> has the particle spinning at 1/2 times h-bar around an axis, and |dn> has it spinning at -1/2 times h-bar around the same axis. QM also says that if you measure the particle's spin around some other axis, you will get a value of either 1/2 or -1/2, and the probability of either depends on the angle betwee the particle's spin axis and the measuring axis. And this prediction is confirmed by all experiments: what QM says, is what we observe.

Now how do you interpret this, assuming many-worlds is correct? It is claimed that at the moment of measurement the device measuring the particle's spin goes into a state correlated with the particle's, a state expressible as w|see up> + z|see dn>; that the components of this state never interact again, and therefore the two "worlds" of |see up> and |see dn> are unaware of each other; and that if the spin measurement is repeatedly performed, in the large majority of the resulting histories the statistical predictions of QM are confirmed.

The problem is, the basis {|up>, |dn>} for the Hilbert space in question is not unique, or even preferred. The particle's state can be expressed just as easily in other bases -- say, {|up>+|dn>, |up>-|dn>} -- and the correlated state of the measuring device can then be expressed in the basis {|see up>+|see dn>, |see up>-|see dn>}. And the |see up>+|see dn> component never interacts again with the |see up>-|see dn> component. So |see up>+|see dn> picks out a "world", just as valid (or invalid) as the one |see up> picks out; but in the |see up>+|see dn> "world" the particle's spin is not 1/2 or -1/2 times h-bar!

The truth is, picking out a "world" is not licensed by the law of state evolution at all. Choosing a basis for the space of states is only a mathematical convenience, unless state reduction is real. Therefore many-worlds, by denying the reality of state reduction, "answers" the question of why experimenters invariably observe either |up> or |dn>, and not |up>+|dn>, by turning it into a metaphysical problem, of no scientific interest -- that is, by declaring it unanswerable. This is far more than announcing a gap in our knowledge of nature; it's an announcement that the gap will never be closed.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Saturday, December 24 2005 03:59 PM (8LTnv)

10 Odd, that -- the filtering system rejects the word ignoramus.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Saturday, December 24 2005 04:01 PM (8LTnv)

11 Or maybe not.

Oh well. Would you care to comment on these remarks on teleology and the principle of least action in physics?

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Saturday, December 24 2005 04:08 PM (8LTnv)

12 State reduction - the collapse of the wave function - is an interesting issue if one assumes it happens. WHICH IS A MATTER OF INTERPRETATIONS OF QM. You know that. It's not QM itself, it's the interpretation. Otherwise there couldn't be mathematically isomorphic interpretations where wave functions did not collapse, and there are.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, December 25 2005 05:14 AM (7X4Bl)

13 Reading that article now.If we ask whether the order of nature reveals an intention in the mind of God, we will get no answer from science.The answer is "What are you talking about? I'm a physicist!" Okay, I've finished reading it. It's worthless drivel.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, December 25 2005 05:19 AM (7X4Bl)

14 State reduction - the collapse of the wave function - is an interesting issue if one assumes it happens. Apparently you didn't understand what I said the last time. My point is, even if one assumes that state reduction never happens, the resulting interpretation of QM isn't monistic. It only looks that way if one doesn't think it through.

To repeat, the basic question is "why do I never observe a particle in the state |up>+|dn>?" Many-worlds proponents say, because when I observe a particle in that state my own state becomes |see up>+|see dn>; the |see up> component of my state observes the |up> component of the particle's state, the |see dn> component of my state observes the |dn> component of the particle's state, and everything balances out.

Many-worlds proponents don't say, however, why we are supposed to separate my state into those two specific components. QM itself is agnostic on that point -- the mathematics works out just the same, whatever basis we adopt. And certainly you haven't given a reason; all you've said so far is that state reduction is not the reason, since it never actually happens. I put it to you: what physical process distinguishes the states |up> and |dn> from their linear combinations, if not state reduction? And, if there isn't any, why do I analyze my state in terms of |see up> and |see dn>, and not in terms of some other pair of basic states?

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Sunday, December 25 2005 04:50 PM (hc1pe)

15 About that article: Have you ever read Ted Chiang's "The Story of Your Life"? It involves aliens to whom the principle of least action is intuitively obvious, and our intuitive idea of causation is a difficult and subtle thing.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Sunday, December 25 2005 04:55 PM (hc1pe)

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