Intelligent Design Papers Are Making Noise

The theory of intelligent design science considers itself to be a detector of patterns arranged in such a way, that it reveals something intelligent was beyond its cause.  There are similarities but also differences with creationism. Despite the differences, this blog does support the ID movement’s efforts to question Darwinism but do not encourage Christians to embrace all aspects of it.

Recently, it has been making some noise in peer-review papers. One was on “Plant Biology” Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, the author of this particular paper who is a biologist at the Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, he writes…

“Many of these researchers also raise the question (among others), why — even after inducing literally billions of induced mutations and (further) chromosome rearrangements — all the important mutation breeding programs have come to an end in the Western World instead of eliciting a revolution in plant breeding, either by successive rounds of selective “micromutations” (cumulative selection in the sense of the modern synthesis), or by “larger mutations” … and why the law of recurrent variation is endlessly corroborated by the almost infinite repetition of the spectra of mutant phenotypes in each and any new extensive mutagenesis experiment (as predicted) instead of regularly producing a range of new systematic species…”

The research collected data from 240,000 plants. Lönnig then refutes the idea that a step by step process with an enormous amount of slight variations then sides with Michael Behe who is known for advocating concept of “irreducible complexity” and Dembski’s arguments which has to do with universal probability bound.

Dembski and Robert Marks who are major players in the intelligent design movement. Their paper was published in Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics where they argue fitness fails (which is how evolution is measured) without specified information about its target.

“We prove two results: (1) The Horizontal No Free Lunch Theorem, which shows that average relative performance of searches never exceeds unassisted or blind searches, and (2) The Vertical No Free Lunch Theorem, which shows that the difficulty of searching for a successful search increases exponentially with respect to the minimum allowable active information being sought.”

In the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics by Dominic Halsmer came out pretty strong in favor of intelligent design.  He writes

“Human-engineered systems are characterized by stability, predictability, reliability, transparency, controllability, efficiency, and (ideally) optimality. These features are also prevalent throughout the natural systems that make up the cosmos. However, the level of engineering appears to be far above and beyond, or transcendent of, current human capabilities. Even so, there is a curious match between the comprehensibility of the universe and the ability of mankind to comprehend it.”

“This unexplained matching is a prerequisite for any kind of reverse engineering activity to be even remotely successful. And yet, mankind seems to be drawn onward toward a potential wisdom, almost in tutorial fashion, by the puzzles of nature that are continually available for us to unravel. Indeed, the universe is so readily and profitably reverse engineered as to make a compelling argument that it was engineered in the first place, apparently with humanity in mind.”

While the modern intelligent movement avoids identifying what an intelligent agent is which is part of the problem, it lacks history, engineering has observed to be performed with intelligence. Engineering is not a natural phenomena that just happens on it’s own. Rather it’s a phenomena concerning a finely tuned universe which was produced by a highly advanced intelligence namely, God!

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11 thoughts on “Intelligent Design Papers Are Making Noise

  1. “Human-engineered systems are characterized by stability, predictability, reliability, transparency, controllability, efficiency, and (ideally) optimality. These features are also prevalent throughout the natural systems that make up the cosmos. ”

    Now this I find hard to believe. Take a look at most human-engineered systems – religion, government, family, business – and you’ll often find a profound lack of stability, predictability and transparency.

  2. Interestingly enough, Michael doesn’t even link to the paper that he is quoting…He is lifting it from Evolution News and Vews which is a branch site from the Discovery Institute….And it should also be noted that the blog post he is linking to doesn’t even link to the original paper either.

    If you ask me, it smells fishy that the non-scientists at the Discovery Institute are not linking the paper…especially since it can be easily accessed…Perhaps they are counting on the fact that most of their readers will not bother to look it up.

    The posts from the Discovery Institute are ONLY quoting a PART of the paper…. This is the quote as given by the fellows at the Discovery Institute in the post Micheal is lifting it from:

    ““Many of these researchers also raise the question (among others), why — even after inducing literally billions of induced mutations and (further) chromosome rearrangements — all the important mutation breeding programs have come to an end in the Western World instead of eliciting a revolution in plant breeding, either by successive rounds of selective “micromutations” (cumulative selection in the sense of the modern synthesis), or by “larger mutations” … and why the law of recurrent variation is endlessly corroborated by the almost infinite repetition of the spectra of mutant phenotypes in each and any new extensive mutagenesis experiment (as predicted) instead of regularly producing a range of new systematic species…” “

    —Well, the paper leaves an interesting detail out…RIGHT BEFORE the paper says this…the writers of the original MAKE IT CLEAR that they ARE TALKING ABOUT THE CLAIMS MADE BY THE DISCOVERY INSTITUTE AND the uses of their Dessent from Darwin list…—

    Right before the quote that the DI and Michael give, the paper then mentions the Discovery institute…And in the contect of the “these researchers” in the quote, the “researchers” that the paper is talking about ARE CLEARLY FROM the Discovery Institute…

    For the more qualified…I am not linking the ORIGINAL PAPER below:

    http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/JournalsSup/images/Sample/FOB_4(SI1)1-21o.pdf

    There we go.. Enjoy.

  3. It should also be mentioned that Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig is a member of “Bio-Complexity” which is a Creationist journal..

    Most of the members are KNOWN to be creationist proponents with only a small few who’s statuses are uunknown….NO KNOWN member is critical of Intelligent Design.

    http://www.naontiotami.com/2010/12/bio-complexitys-opinion-on-intelligent-design-isnt-complex/

    So their peer-reviewdd journal is really like the peer review for Answers in Genesis.

  4. Ben, you might wish to divide “human engineered” systems into two categories: (1) systems, such as buildings, aircraft, and bobble-head dolls, which have an overall design drafted by one or a few hierarchical designers; and (2) systems, such as economies, the internet, and celebrity tweets, which have no central authority, but progress through the interaction of many different autonomous but interacting components.

    Category #1 systems do tend to be stable, predictable, reliable, etc. The reason is that the design is organized and logical for a preconceived purpose. Every part is directed toward that purpose. These systems are characterized by simplicity—they may have millions of parts, but the parts are arranged in a plan that ‘comes apart logically.

    The reason they are simple is that they are DESIGNED by central planners. The hallmark of design is not complexity, as creationists would have it. Who would intentionally design products for wasteful use of parts, unreliability, and unpredictable operation?

    Category #2 systems are messy, inefficient, prone to sudden and unpredictable changes. For example, economies are complex; the results of actions to control them are largely unknown. The best of them do not run at high efficiency. On the other hand, many of these systems are robust, in the sense that failures of individual components do not destroy the the entire system.

    The reason they are complex is that they are not designed by a single central planner who has laid out a purpose and an overall organization.. Instead, they have EVOLVED to their present states through the actions of numerous components—or people—acting individually, yet communicating with each other. All computer simulations of evolved systems, regardless of their technology, tend to behave like economies and other category #2 systems.

    .

    Now, which of these categories do living organisms seem to belong to? Simple, predictable, stable category-#1 designed systems? Or complex, unpredictable, messy, yet robust category-#2 evolved systems?

    Michael’s faith forces him to see plants and animals as designed by a central authority according to a preordained plan for optimum function. The rest of us see them as imperfectly evolved according to the requirements of their environments and constraints imposed by their previous stages.

    (It does seem ironic that, although Michael is all for central planning in living systems, he is opposed to planned economies, such as that of the Soviet Union, where all production was minutely specified according to 5-year plans. He prefers free economies, which evolve according to the wishes of individuals, without any government control.)

  5. @Michael: “Recently, it has been making some noise in peer-review papers. One was on “Plant Biology” Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, the author of this particular paper who is a biologist at the Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research….”

    Wolf-Ekkehard who? This name may be unfamiliar to Americans. Lönnig is a plant breeder at one of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany. (Well, he was there—he’s retired now.) Although information about him is somewhat hard to come by, he was in the news recently for being censured by the Institute for posting ID material on their web site. Lönnig is a Jehovah’s Witness who has become a darling of the Discovery Institute for his “proof” that the giraffe could not have evolved. (Remember, he’s a botanist—he studies PLANTS.).

    I did find a link[0] to his paper in the third-tier journal Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology (Vol. 4, special issue, 2010), “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens KL. ssp. floridana: Some Further Research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation”

    Lönnig does in fact mention intelligent design—exactly once, in col. 2 on p. 11 (of 21 pages). Although I have not read the entire paper, it seems that his argument is that a particular trait of the subject plant could not have evolved under Dollo’s Law[1]

    The problem is that Dollo’s “Law” is really just a restatement-that it is difficult to retrace one’s steps exactly. Lönnig, studying plants rather than animals,. might not be aware of, for example, the documented appearance, disappearance, and reappearance several times of the mammalian jaw from the reptilian compound structure in the fossil record. The classic exception to Dollo’s law, due to S.J. Gould, is the reemergence of a coiled gastropod shell after a coiled shall has been lost. This has in fact been observed in Calyptraeidae, and has been ascribed to changes in developmental timing

    In sum, this paper is much ado about nothing. It is an argument from ignorance, pure and simple. How he sneaked the ID reference past the reviewers is a mystery.

    ============

    [0] Via the Homologous Legs blog. Who woulda guessed?

    [1] Which states basically that evolution is not reversible–that an organism, once it has evolved a trait, cannot return to its previous state.

  6. Olorin, I’m kind of surprised to learn that Wolf-Ekkehard is a Jehovah’s Witness….since it’s rare for me to hear of a JW with a such a degree.

    Personally, I find the Jehovah’s Witness brand of Creationism sort of peculiar.. That is to say, we have Young Earth Creationism (Ken Ham and Henry Morris), and Old Earth Creationism (Hugh Ross and Harun Yahya)…and then we have the Jehovah’s Witness Creationism….The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society does seem to accept the scientific age of the earth of 4.5 billion years and argues that Young Earth Creationism does more harm than good. In fact, in their Publication Life: How did it get here? By Evolution of by Creation? they even argue for undefined periods of time…The flood of Noah, however, is conspicuously absent from the book as an argument… However in another of their publications entitled The Bible: God’s word or man’s?, they argue that the flood was litterally global. –Despite their acceptance of the scientific age of the earth, they throw a major rench into it by claiming that man has only been around for 6,000 years…

    I guess this makes them OEYLC..(which stands for “Old Earth, Young Life Creationists).

  7. @Michael:“Dembski and Robert Marks who are major players in the intelligent design movement. Their paper was published in Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics where they argue fitness fails (which is how evolution is measured) without specified information about its target.”

    Now where did Michael get the idea that this paper shows that “fitness fails”? What does “fitness fails” mean, anyway?? That nothing is fit?

    This article appears, not in the mainstream scientific press, but in a house organ of Fuji Industries in Japan. The papers in the same issue deal with such seminal topics as the balancing of workload on assembly lines, evaluating asset portfolios, and traffic-prediction algorithms.

    So, since Michael doesn’t begin to understand the math, what does this paper show? Actually, it’s pretty much a rehash of a paper they wrote two years ago about the No Free Lunch Theorem (NFL)[1] Dembski & Marks claim that evolution requires “outside information” about the goal of the process in order to overcome the improbability of finding it by the random mutations of evolution.[2] The applicability of NFL to evolution has been refuted for years by Mark Chu-Carroll and others.[3]

    The simplest argument, of course, is that NFL does not apply because EVOLUTION HAS NO GOAL. That is, evolution is not a “search” for a specified target in the first place.

    In touting their paper to the faithful—although not to the journals (see below)—Dembski & Marks claim that outside information is required to speed up searches. They, of course, point to this as requiring a supernatural designer. But, even if NFL did apply to some “goal” of evolution, we all know that evolution does not occur in a vacuum—it occurs within specific environments. Those environments supply “information” to living organisms, which “tells'” them what is more fit and what is less fit in their particular situation. So “active information” is irrelevant in any event. It is supplied by the environment, not by a designer.

    Dembskui & Marks’ math is perfectly valid. Their new measure of “active information” might even be relevant for certain applications: How much boost do we get per unit of info we shovel in? But it has no relevance to evolution—except in the minds of the Dishonesty Institute.[4]

    So Dembski & Marks sneak a paper into the mainstream press, by omitting all mention of their claims with respect to the object of the paper. Thus it becomes merely an exercise in mathematical manipulation, not relevant to anything in particular. Only behind the scenes, out of earshot of the reviewers, do they proclaim that their result applies to biological evolution. Did I say that creationists are sneaky and disingenuous?

    ============

    [1] Which basically says that, without some knowledge about the environment of a search, no search algorithm can be more efficient than a random search.

    [2] He and Marks call this additional stuff “active information.”

    [3] One of the discoverers of the NFL noted many years ago that it does not apply to “co-evolutionary” optimization.

    [4] Their published papers are very careful not to mention intelligent design—or in fact ANY application to biological processes. They should be careful. if they tried to apply it, they would get ripped apart in the same way they already have been by mathematicians in the blogosphere. (I used to subscribe to The Mathematical Intelligencer, a journal of the American Mathematical Society. Several years ago, they carried an article entitled “How Creationists Abuse Mathematics.” Nothing has changed.)

  8. Finally, we come to “”The Coherence of an Engineered World.” The journal it appears in seems to say nothing as to peer review. So what is this soi-disant Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics? Here’s one opinion:

    The International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics – On the Fringe!

    A credible scientific journal?

    “Not even close. The International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics is a fringe publication of the featherweight Wessex Institute of Technology. Oh, and guess what? McIntosh is on their Editorial Board. One of its editors is Stuart Burgess, another notorious YEC.”

    One of Institute’s web pages did note how many times their papers have been cited. For the past 5 years, the cumulative total is ZERO. Then, just for grins, we might look up the principal author of this paper, Dominic Halsner. Well, well! Turns out he teaches at that paragon of critical learning, Bob Jones University.

    And what are professor Halsner’s arguments that the universe is designed by a supernatural agency? Fine tuning. (Check) Complexity. (Check) No one knows how it evolved. (Check) Second law of thermodynamics. (Check) Everything looks like a machine. (Check) The Bible tells me so. (Check)[2]

    I think we can discount the impact of this paper on the world of real science.

    ==================
    [1] Which advertises graduate programs leading to MS and PhD. BUT HOLD ON! “in collaboration with other academic institutions throughout the world.” Uh-huh. Take some courses somewhere else, pay us a fee, and we’ll fit you for a gown, mortarboard, and blinders.

    [2] Sorry, I made up the last one.

  9. I have not been able to chase down the “N. Roman” and “T. Todd” authors of the paper in the Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics. The second author, John Marc Asper, is an engineering professor at the School of Science & Engineering at Oral Robert University.[1] The primary author, by the way, is a professor of mechanical engineering. One might question the depth of Halsmer’s and Asper’s knowledge of biology.

    Also by the way, the paper in the Journal is listed as a “review.” Reviews, of course, do not contain any original research. AND THEY ARE RARELY PEER-REVIEWED, even when the journal is peer-reviewed.

    From other references, it seems as though this paper originally appeared in one of the “Transactions” if the Wessex Institute. Such papers are almost always invited, and are not reviewed.

    Do we suspect a little disingenuous behavior in claiming this as a “peer-reviewed paper with evidence for ID?</b You bet we do!

    ===========

    [1] His most notable achievement seems to be the design of a new course ―Science and Faith, "an effort to better equip and inspire science and engineering graduates to serve as everyday missionaries in their chosen fields…. Students will receive training in science-related apologetics." Would you trust a bridge designed by this guy? Or would you follow the sign at the entrance? The one that says "PRAY".

  10. Something else we might ask about the paper in the Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.

    The Dsico Tute is ever eager to trumpet any glint of a “peer-reviewed” paper that supports ID to the slightest degree. This paper appeared in the first issue of 2009. Why did they wait a whole year to mention it???

    Inquiring minds demand to know.

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