Big Scientists Pick Big Science's Big...

Big Scientists Pick Big Science's Biggest Mistakes

There are 88 comments on the Discover story from Nov 23, 2010, titled Big Scientists Pick Big Science's Biggest Mistakes. In it, Discover reports that:

Earlier this week Richard H. Thaler posted a question to selected Edge contributors, asking them for their favorite examples of wrong scientific theories that were held for long periods of time.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Discover.

The Dude

Birkenhead, UK

#21 Nov 26, 2010
LGK wrote:
Noodly James
You referred to APPARENT DESIGN as something different from design. Would you care to explain the difference between the 2 & how you test for such a difference?
You tell us.(shrug) It's YOUR "theory".
The Dude

Birkenhead, UK

#22 Nov 26, 2010
Noodly James wrote:
<quoted text>
How you test for a difference? No one can show the designer. We can show that Darwinian evolution models applied to computers programs generate the biological appearances which are present in nature.
Or for a less sexy example: A snowflake appears designed. Each and every unique one of them. By recreating the conditions we can recreate the flake. Hence, not designed.
Ah, but it COULD be designed! The IDer's just need to demonstrate that.

Here's their problem: If they claim the IDer's are aliens from planet Zog who come down and design each and every one of our snowflakes, they have to provide a viable mechanism, evidence, and a way to test and falsify their hypothesis. If they cannot do this, it is not scientific. If they claim that GODDIDIT, then that means every single thing in the universe is designed, which therefore leaves us with no comparisons with which to compare designed things with. This renders ID untestable and unfalsifiable. Ergo, it is not scientific.
LGK

Houghton Le Spring, UK

#23 Nov 26, 2010
The Dude
Do you realise you just said creationism was decreed false by Judicial fiat? Please give a reference for you ID sources with that outlandish definition. Regarding what’s the "scientific theory" of ID/Creationism? I don’t care whether something is “scientific” or other. There’s NO demarcation between science & non-science except on the News. ID is the empirical study of nature that recognises intelligence, in addition to natural forces as a possible & detectable cause of effects.(This is my statement).

I told you how you can falsify ID: Produce ONE code or message that’s KNOWN to have been produced without intelligence. You can test for intelligence by using Newton’s principle of making inference to causes in operation today. ID predicts that so-called “Junk” DNA is not junk but functional – this is what we have now discovered to be true.

Questions about the Creator of the Universe are theological & outside the scope of ID.
----------
Noodly James
Your statement:--“We have plenty of computer models showing how a designer is not required”– falls flat on its face unless the computers were not designed.

If you have an example of a computer that came into being without intelligence, please be my guest & produce it. Otherwise intelligence WAS REQUIRED to make the computers.
LGK

Houghton Le Spring, UK

#24 Nov 26, 2010
Noodly James
I’m still not clear what you mean by apparent design as separate from other design. Are we talking about TWO different things?

Good or bad design refers to the quality of design, not the fact of design. It is not a concern of ID neither does ID jump to a god, it stops at intelligence. It’s ID opponents who demand a god.

Why an omniscient God would make an imperfect design is not logically inconsistent – he could simply choose to. More importantly, answers to why God would or would not are not part of ID & are best left to Theologians.

Moving on, now that you seem to accept the fact of design (somewhat), I’ll pick one design principle & ask you to account for how nature alone produced it. Please use actual examples to avoid argument by asserting axioms (unless you are saying evolution is axiomatically true). How about the (or a) genetic code, how did arise, in fact any code at all?
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#27 Nov 26, 2010
LGK wrote:
ID is the empirical study of nature that recognises intelligence, in addition to natural forces as a possible & detectable cause of effects.(This is my statement).
OK. What exactly IS the "scientific theory" of ID/Creationism? Who or what is the creator and how can we tell? What mechanism did it use to do whatever it is you think it did (the "engineering
process") and how can we tell? How is "design" quantified? When and where did it do it? What scientific observations can be made in regards to ID/Creationism? Why is this allegedly all-powerful universe-creating creator apparently incapable of such a simple thing like evolution and how were these limits determined scientifically? What useful scientific predictions does ID/Creationism make? How can it be tested? How can it be falsified? Why do you always lie and ignore anything theologically inconvenient? Why is it that every time I ask these questions that not one single fundie EVER wants to answer them?

Thanks in advance.
LGK wrote:
I told you how you can falsify ID: Produce ONE code or message that’s KNOWN to have been produced without intelligence.
All "codes" require intelligence. The mistake you make is that assuming the "code" in DNA was created by some enigmatic "designer". That "code" was invented by HUMANS. Just like math, language and scientific descriptions are abstract concepts invented by man to help describe the universe they inhabit. DNA is created every day by purely natural processes via a process you may or may not be familiar with - procreation. These mechanisms are observed and well known. This does not falsify the possibility that some outside "intelligence" was involved in some way. What YOU need to do is provide evidence and a mechanism for the necessity of your enigmatic "intelligence" being responsible for this some how.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#28 Nov 26, 2010
LGK wrote:
You can test for intelligence by using Newton’s principle of making inference to causes in operation today.
Uh, no, sorry bub. But "Humans make cars, therefore God make humans!" is NOT a valid inference. We require DIRECT evidence that God (or whatever you propose) is responsible for whatever it is you think it's responsible for.
LGK wrote:
ID predicts that so-called “Junk” DNA is not junk but functional – this is what we have now discovered to be true.
This is unknown at this point. The DNA for which we don't have a current function for may or may not have function. Some DNA previously thought of as "junk DNA" has been found to have function, correct.
LGK wrote:
Questions about the Creator of the Universe are theological & outside the scope of ID.
It should not be outside the scope of ID if ID is scientific. But I agree with you it is theological.

So ID cannot tell us who or what did it. What did it do? How did it do it? When did it do it? Where did it do it? How can we tell? What useful scientific predictions do these answers make? How can we test this? How can we falsify this?
LGK wrote:
Noodly James
Your statement:--“We have plenty of computer models showing how a designer is not required”– falls flat on its face unless the computers were not designed. If you have an example of a computer that came into being without intelligence, please be my guest & produce it. Otherwise intelligence WAS REQUIRED to make the computers.
Sorry, your mistake. Computers can simulate reality using models, that does not mean reality requires an intelligence to make it. Just because humans can plant trees doesn't mean that all trees were planted via an "intelligence". The "If not A, therefore B" argument is still a logical fallacy no matter how many times you use it.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#29 Nov 26, 2010
LGK wrote:
Noodly James
I’m still not clear what you mean by apparent design as separate from other design. Are we talking about TWO different things?
Good or bad design refers to the quality of design, not the fact of design. It is not a concern of ID neither does ID jump to a god, it stops at intelligence. It’s ID opponents who demand a god.
But you haven't demonstrated it to be a fact yet. It still remains a baseless assertion, which is why you've yet to quantify it. If we can determine something is designed, we can then determine at least some of the attributes of the designer. If not, we have no cause to claim something is designed.
LGK wrote:
Why an omniscient God would make an imperfect design is not logically inconsistent – he could simply choose to.
Bingo. Non-falsifiability.
LGK wrote:
More importantly, answers to why God would or would not are not part of ID & are best left to Theologians.
You might then want to tell the guys who invented ID to stop saying "GODDIDIT!" at every opportunity then.
LGK wrote:
Moving on, now that you seem to accept the fact of design (somewhat), I’ll pick one design principle & ask you to account for how nature alone produced it. Please use actual examples to avoid argument by asserting axioms (unless you are saying evolution is axiomatically true). How about the (or a) genetic code, how did arise, in fact any code at all?
The "genetic code" is an abstract concept invented by humans in order to help us describe the chemical qualities of DNA.

As for the theory of evolution itself, it does not rely on explaining the origin of DNA. All the theory of evolution deals with is explaining the diversification of life here on Earth. That's it. All it requires is for life to be here. Life is here. Life evolves. This is observed. Facts. Doesn't matter if life arose via natural processes or if Goddidit with magic.

As usual you've managed to shift the focus AWAY from ID and point it somewhere else in order to avoid answering our questions.
Gillette

Fairfield, IA

#30 Nov 26, 2010
>>>LGK
Truth doesn’t change. I know relativists will claim it does but just ask them if it’s that it does & if that’ll change.

>>>Gillette
That was garbled in incoherent, wasn't it?

And it depends what you mean by "truth," no doesn't it? SImple empirical realities like 1 + 1 = 2 might not change (unless you change to the Base 10 system of counting, in which case 1 + 1 = 10).

But morality and ideas of supernatural "truth" change with the consciousness of the one who is claiming to perceive them.

Such truths are relative, never absolute. In fact, there is no way you can demonstrate that they ARE absolute or what such absoluteness could even MEAN, since every perception of "truth" comes from a subjective, relative, changeable human mind.

>>>LGK
Regarding why we should support intelligent design, in all our experience non-intelligence has never produced software. So when we find software in life, it takes a hell amount of denial to say there was no intelligence involved.

>>>Gillette
DNA is a self-replicating chemical/biological process. DNA is not software. Calling it that is an analogy and an imperfect one at best. At worst, it's incorrect.

>>>LGK
It sounds like you want us to fall back on "the Universe came into being without some guiding hand."

If you don't want us to fall back a Being, why should we fall back on a non-being?

>>>Gillette
Or we could just stay right where we are and with what we have, namely an existent, never-created universe, one that likely has always existed, in one form or another, even before the Big Bang.
Chimney

UAE

#31 Nov 27, 2010
LGK wrote:
I told you how you can falsify ID: Produce ONE code or message that’s KNOWN to have been produced without intelligence.
If by "code" you mean an abstract set symbols used to arbitrarily designate a concept, the way "RED" or "%^B" might symbolise a colour, then the answer is none. There are none. But there do not need to be.

DNA is not a code in that sense. Its simply a template for a series of bases that have a physical attraction to particular amino acids. There is nothing symbolic or conceptual in the DNA code.
ID predicts that so-called “Junk” DNA is not junk but functional – this is what we have now discovered to be true.
No, we have not. Huge parts of the DNA code really are junk. Here where your story is flawed: At first, we could only find 18,000 genes scattered through the DNA (of humans). Large parts of unknown value were described as junk. Now a few of these have been shown to have function. Yet other big chunks really are useless, such as the massive repeats of some monotonous base sequences that do nothing, and the damaged and non-functional pseudogenes that sit there uselessly as relics from a time they actually did something.

These are great evidence for evolution by the way. Why do primates still have the damaged gene for producing vitamin C hanging around in their genome? Why do whales have the damaged and useless genes for smell receptors still hanging around in theirs? Evolution explains that, but design is silent.

Finding a few bits that are not junk is NOT the same as saying "we have found out its ALL useful".

In fact, your ID prediction has been thoroughly falsified.
Chimney

UAE

#32 Nov 27, 2010
Aaron Weaver wrote:
In fact, if you are a politician and believe in young earth creationism, you will be heavily under attack by the media and liberal socialist, and will be called stupid.
I am not a liberal socialist.

I am an economically conservative person who favours small government, free markets, and a secular legal system protecting individual rights, who would also agree that followers of YEC are pretty damned stupid.

While they might have some particular intelligence, their stupidity is of a particular form. Its the willingness to suspend any rational acceptance of the facts in favour of an infantile acceptance of an unsupported dogma on the basis that their emotional needs include the requirement for "a happy ending" and the idea that the whole universe was created for their benefit (just like a 3 year old!).
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#33 Nov 27, 2010
Apologies for double post hiccup. Topix doesn't like it when you get to close to the 4,000 character limit.
LGK

Boston, UK

#34 Nov 27, 2010
The Dude
ID is not about the Creator but the creation. The sooner you understand this the sooner we can move on from repetitive questions. The GODDIT idea is just a what the News says. It’s nonsense used to disinform & you keep falling for it.

I do not assume DNA is a code, I KNOW it is. At its simplest a code is that which represents something other than itself. The letters USA are not a country but a representation i.e. code for it. A genome is not an organism but a representation of it. It’s that simple. And before anyone recites talkorigins, there are no such things as metaphorical codes - that’s silly.

If you think the genetic code is “the chemical qualities of DNA” you do not understand what a code is. DNA is not a code, it is a chemical that carries a code & in principle no different from ink & paper.
----------
Gillette
Please explain what "Supernatural" truth is.

And then you say,“Truths are relative, never absolute.” I see. Now here is a question: Is that true? In fact, if there’s no truth, should we take anything you’ve written as true. Should we take it seriously – it’s only relative, isn’t it?

As for this about the universe:–“has always existed,” you need to update your Cosmology. Please start with the Catholic priest Georges Lemaître’s ideas of 1927.
Gillette

Fairfield, IA

#35 Nov 27, 2010
>>>LGK
Please explain what "Supernatural" truth is.

>>>Gillette
You tell us, Jesus Freak.

>>>LGK
And then you say,“Truths are relative, never absolute.” I see. Now here is a question: Is that true? In fact, if there’s no truth, should we take anything you’ve written as true. Should we take it seriously – it’s only relative, isn’t it?

>>>Gillette
You're fvcking stupid. OF COURSE everything I say is an opinion and is relative. That's just the point. You think you've painted me into a corner but I just laugh at your sorry ass, because you've just demonstrated what I've been saying all along -- truth is relative, never absolute, because it is dependent on human mind(s).

And go ahead, give us an example of a moral or spiritual truth. Not some word game or a simple math equation. You know what I'm asking.

You CAN'T.

>>>LGK
As for this about the universe:–“has always existed,” you need to update your Cosmology. Please start with the Catholic priest Georges Lemaître’s ideas of 1927.

>>>Gillette
I'm aware of Lemaitre's Big Bang Theory,

Now YOU read up on a much newer and more comprehensive idea, i.e. Membrane Theory.
The Dude

Wallasey, UK

#36 Nov 27, 2010
LGK wrote:
The Dude
ID is not about the Creator but the creation. The sooner you understand this the sooner we can move on from repetitive questions.
If we can determine that something is created we can determine something about the creator. If your "scientific theory" is incapable of that, that doesn't prevent you from answering the rest of them:

What exactly IS the "scientific theory" of ID/Creationism? Who or what is the creator and how can we tell? What mechanism did it use to do whatever it is you think it did and how can we tell? How is "design" quantified? When and where did it do it? What scientific observations can be made in regards to ID/Creationism? Why is this allegedly all-powerful universe-creating creator apparently incapable of such a simple thing like evolution and how were these limits determined scientifically? What useful scientific predictions does ID/Creationism make? How can it be tested? How can it be falsified? Why is it that every time I ask these questions that not one single fundie EVER wants to answer them?

To be sure, I fully expect you to provide very little in the way of answers. But I have not, am not, and will not stop asking them. And every avoidance merely demonstrates my point.
LGK wrote:
The GODDIT idea is just a what the News says. It’s nonsense used to disinform & you keep falling for it.
My sources where the IDers themselves. Plus we already know you're a YEC. You are either lying or simply monumentally stupid.

Creationism: Goddidit

ID: The unknown, unobservable, invisible, undetectable Intelligent Designer (nudge nudge, wink wink) didit PRAISE THE LOR -**SSHHHHHHH!!**OH, nuts! Sorry!**
LGK wrote:
I do not assume DNA is a code, I KNOW it is. At its simplest a code is that which represents something other than itself. The letters USA are not a country but a representation i.e. code for it. A genome is not an organism but a representation of it. It’s that simple. And before anyone recites talkorigins, there are no such things as metaphorical codes - that’s silly.
If you think the genetic code is “the chemical qualities of DNA” you do not understand what a code is. DNA is not a code, it is a chemical that carries a code & in principle no different from ink & paper.
The letters USA are not a country but a representation of it. The letters ACGT are not DNA but a representation of it. The genome is an integral part and parcel of the organism. Your assertions based on analogies remain just that until you can (finally) demonstrate that the "code" is something separate from the organism entirely, what the "message" of the "code" is, and provide evidence that it exists and the mechanism for its insertion into living organisms.
LGK

Wallasey, UK

#37 Nov 28, 2010
The Dude
I already said. It's easy to falsify ID. Produce ONE example of a code / message KNOWN to be a de novo product of purely natural process. Try it.

On poor design, it doesn’t mean non-design. Why an omniscient being, if He is the designer, produced bad design is:

(a) not part of ID
(b) logically explicable – He can choose to!

I don’t know the right answer & if I wanted it I wouldn't use physical science. Why a conscious entity freely chooses to do ‘X’ is perhaps the province of psychology.

I can’t deny you that there are IDers who say GODDIT. Of course there could be. They are entitled to their view which I think is mistaken. Can you give a reference so we know who you are talking about?

My sources include the Discovery Institute. I have their materials & nowhere does it say GODDIT. I attended Behe’s talk & your definition of ID would have been out of place. But if you want to insist on your version then, it’s up to you. I think it serves you to have that foolish definition so you can keep criticising it. May be you have a theological motivation for doing that.

Of course the letters ACGT on paper are not DNA; no-one said they were. They are a code of the nucleic acid just like a codon is not an amino. What's the problem?

Here is how the code (genome) is not the organism – it can exist without the organism. It can alos exist in multimedia e.g. ink on paper, 1s &0s on a disk in a patent office or in someone’s mind. Whatever the carrier medium, the code will still be the same. Anything with such properties can only be generated (de novo) by a conscious entity. There are good reasons for this but I won’t go into them now.

Finally, here is what keeps Evolutionists in perpertual ignorance of design - they think they have all the answers. The greatest barrier to truth is thinking that you already have it. It is also the biggest cause of arrogance.

“That's just MY opinion...”

Since: Jan 07

Location hidden

#38 Nov 28, 2010
LGK wrote:
I already said. It's easy to falsify ID. Produce ONE example of a code / message KNOWN to be a de novo product of purely natural process. Try it.
But of course a code/message is by definition a means of communication, which by definition requires an intelligence so... Nice try, Genius.

“That's just MY opinion...”

Since: Jan 07

Location hidden

#39 Nov 28, 2010
LGK wrote:
Finally, here is what keeps Evolutionists in perpertual ignorance of design - they think they have all the answers. The greatest barrier to truth is thinking that you already have it. It is also the biggest cause of arrogance.
This is hilarious coming from the guy who thinks he has all the answers.
LGK

Wallasey, UK

#40 Nov 28, 2010
So, if it's that obvious "a code/message is by definition ...communication, which by definition requires an intelligence" what then of messages in living things? They are everywhere inside organisms. It almost seems a silly question to ask how they arose, ultimately. The answer is staring at us but perhaps some people can't look it in the face.

Perhaps you could cut-&-paste where I said I have all the answers.

Personally, I don't think any humans (& I am one), have all the answers to anything. It's why I'm critical of that Sect of biology claiming to KNOW intelligence wasn't required to produce life. They've no idea how life arose yet, KNOW how it didn't? Strange that.

ID could be on a wild goose chase for all I know but to ban from biology seems irrational. We already know from our technology that machinery requires intelligence. What could be so wrong with applying this to life which is OBVIOUSLY run by nano-bots? The opposition to ID in biology seems emotional, not logical or empirical. Evolutionism is a religion.

“Nihil curo de ista tua stulta ”

Since: May 08

Orlando

#41 Nov 28, 2010
LGK wrote:
ID could be on a wild goose chase for all I know but to ban from biology seems irrational.
It is not only EXTREMELY rational to ban ID from science classes (until such time that ID presents peer-reviewed evidence to support their claims), it is AGAINST THE LAW to include ID in science classes, because it is Judeo-Christian Creationism in a cheap suit.
LGK wrote:
We already know from our technology that machinery requires intelligence. What could be so wrong with applying this to life which is OBVIOUSLY run by nano-bots?
WTF???
LGK wrote:
The opposition to ID in biology seems emotional, not logical or empirical.
As stated above, until ID presents valid scientific evidence to be considered, it will be never be "science".
LGK wrote:
Evolutionism is a religion.
"Evolutionism" makes no claim for or against the supernatural.
Your statement is a lie.
LGK

Wallasey, UK

#42 Nov 28, 2010
Kong
You are factually incorrect about 2 things.
(
A) ID is based on the supernatural - this is just a media portrayal.

(B) All religions are based on the supernatural. Humanism, Naturalism & Evolutionism are not.

It might help if you researched some of your answers before posting them. Your choice of course.

ID has many valid theories but if your pre-supposition is it hasn't, you wouldn't recognise them if you saw them. This is called bias & betrays the religious fervour with which you hold fast to the dogma of evolutionism. You come across as angry again, another give away to religious adherence evolutionism.

You confuse judicial fiat with logical validity of claims hence you appeal to the legalities of ID. Again, a sign of religious socio-political basis to your opposition to ID.

Unless you have either logically or empirically based problems with ID, we can safely conclude discussing with you rationally is futile. Religious zeal is not amenable to reason.

I'm open to some claims of ID being mistaken but only on grounds of logic or data.

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