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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dilbert on ID

I will join the many recommending Scott Adam's comments of Intelligent Design Theory. See the link to his blog.

I think that Mr. Adams restrictions on who should count as a credible authority on ID are too strong. As to the criterion that science must not be based on pre-conceived notions, this seems to elliminate a lot of good science. Crick and Watson (according to Watson's account, "The Double Helix") were lead directly to the DNA model from the data because they had the pre-conceived notion that "nature is beautiful", that it is harmonious, symetrical, resonant, or whatever depending on the aspect of nature you were studying. In general, to the extent that scientists don't know they have only intuitive pre-conceptions to guide them in research and part of being an experienced scientist is aquiring good jusgement about what pre-conceptions to go with. So one can be a good authority in science and be guided by pre-conceptions. Concerning the criterion that a credible authority will not have any career or financial interests involved, it is difficult to imagine that there could be a good scientist in who we would invest trust in her authority if she was not fully employed in the work of science by a professional institution of research. We are not likely to listen to or even hear from the isolated bayou pond researcher who pays for his livelyhood through aligator poaching and does his research on the side, no matter how good he is. Consequently, any prima facie candidate for authoratative opnions is ruled out by his career and financial connections.

One expects that he needs to have such a strong criterion because it has to be strong enough to eliminate attaching credibility to ID scientists who are as much employed research professionals with different but educated pre-conceptions as those scientists who aren't. He says that he does not deny that there is knock down evidence for blind evolution, just that there are reliable competent people who can identify this evidence for him. he might say the same thing about the existence of knockdown evidence for ID theory. One wonders what he would say about Dr. David Berlinski who wrote a very competent and "Dilbert friendly" book, A Tour of the Calculus, and who also, in an article for Commentary magazine, wrote that he could not even find probable evidence for either one much less knockdown evidence.

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