Discovery Institute: Tests for Intelligent Design!

GET ready for a treat, dear reader. The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) haven’t given up on intelligent design (ID), their peculiar version of creationism. The last time we paid attention to their magical theory was a year ago, here: Discovery Institute: Intelligent Design Redefined.

After we quoted — and critiqued — their definition if ID, we gave our own expanded version. As you can see, ID is no more scientific than the “theory” of Santa Claus. Here’s your Curmudgeon’s definition of ID:

An unknown intelligence (whether it’s a solitary creature or a vast swarm is never addressed), with utterly unknown characteristics (mortal or immortal, sexual or asexual, plant or animal, physical or spiritual), whose home base is unknown, and whose ultimate origin is a mystery (evolved, created, or eternal), arrived on earth somehow (in a flying saucer, perhaps, or maybe on a comet), at some unspecified time (or several times), and then in some unspecified way (technological or magical), for unspecified reasons (boredom, or maybe cosmic fulfillment), did something (or maybe several things) to influence the genetic characteristics of some (but maybe not all) of the creatures on earth.

Now they’re at it again. The Discoveroid blog has this new article by Casey Luskin: A Response to Questions from a Biology Teacher: How Do We Test Intelligent Design?

This is thrilling news! Casey is actually going to tell us how to test his “theory.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A biology educator recently wrote me asking how we test intelligent design using the scientific method, how ID is falsifiable, and how ID explains patterns we observe in nature. These are very common questions that we receive all the time from teachers, students, and interested members of the public, and they’re usually legitimate, sincere, and thoughtful questions.

We’re supposed to believe that Casey is getting letters from biology teachers. Anyway, here’s Casey’s reply to what we suspect is a fictional inquiry:

ID is most definitely testable and falsifiable. It uses the scientific method and explains many patterns we observe in nature. Let’s start with how ID uses the scientific method. The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion

Biology teachers don’t need to be told that, Casey. Just get on with it:

ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI.

Ohhhhh! CSI — that sounds so scientific! We’re impressed. Please, Casey, do continue.

Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.

Ohhhhh! Like the bacterial flagellum. Or blood clotting. Yes! Oh wait — Casey’s guru, Michael Behe, gave those examples at the Dover trial and they weren’t terribly persuasive. See Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony. Well, maybe Casey has something new to offer. He should, because we’re always being told that the Discoveroids are a research outfit. Let’s read on:

Regarding testability, ID makes the following testable predictions:

(1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).
(2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.
(3) Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.
(4) Much so-called “junk DNA” will turn out to perform valuable functions.

What can we say? Regarding Casey’s first “test,” it’s quite ridiculous, because it applies to all living things. The second test is also ridiculous, because no one expects to find fossils of the complete family tree of everything that ever existed, so gaps are inevitable and prove nothing. Ditto for the third item. And as for item four, if some junk DNA is found to be useful, that will surprise no one, because it happens from time to time. But most of it is still junk — a striking rebuke for the talents of Casey’s magical designer.

We should also point out that Casey’s fourth test appears to be weaker than a prediction he made two years ago. Now he predicts only that “much” junk DNA will be found to have a purpose. In Astounding Stupidity we discussed a Discoveroid article in which he suggested that all junk DNA was useful. He said:

[I]ntelligent agents design objects for a purpose, and therefore intelligent design predicts that biological structures will have function.

All in all, Casey’s tests are about as useful as a prophecy that “ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars” or “ye have the poor with you always.” Very impressive. Whoop-de-do!

Casey then goes on at length about how ID is passing those test. Go ahead, click over there and be amazed. When you’re done, if you want a dose of reality, see: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science? Hint: It’s not. Sorry, Casey.

See also: Casey’s Big Three Evolution Flaws.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Discovery Institute: Tests for Intelligent Design!

  1. Let’s look at some of the other testable predictions:

    1. A politician will say something stupid.

    2. The Israeli-Palestinian issue will remain unresolved.

    3. Cold readers will pretend to talk to the dead.

    4. The government will expand its power and expenditure (corollary of #1, admittedly).

    5. Criticisms of Obama will be labeled as racist.

    6. The sun will rise in the east.

    See, Intelligent Design has been proven true! Take THAT, Popper!

  2. And yet, there’s not a single peer-reviewed scientific paper testing these ID predictions. Perhaps the CSI strategy isn’t so *removes shades* intelligent.


  3. Interestingly, I came across an argument addressing ID and it why it isn’t scientific today. Basically, since the designer and its methods are deliberately left unspecified, it could only predict things like there would be complexity or eyes or life, but without actual specified methods or purposes these aren’t deduced facts but simply observations. And without specifics on the method or designer, they will always be observations and not predictions because they won’t be distinguishable from any other method. Casey, continues this fallacy with a gusto.

  4. Damn you James F, I nearly had to clean sandwich off my monitor… Seriously, funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    But, James raises an important point. Which CSI are they, the old, reliable CSI Las Vegus, the reasonable CSI New York, or the increasingly Shark Jumped CSI Miami?

    A follow up question to the Discoveroids though. What happens when supposedly intelligently designed body parts can be shown to have evolved, e.g. eyes, bacterial flagellum or blood clotting does this falsify your entire theory or do you have to keep looking for more “ireducably complex” items?

    And a question for our host, Curmy, do ID proponents get upset if you mention the Flying Spagetti Monster (Pasta be upon him)?

  5. Richard says:

    And a question for our host, Curmy, do ID proponents get upset if you mention the Flying Spagetti Monster (Pasta be upon him)?

    I suppose everything upsets them. But who cares what creationists think?

  6. retiredsciguy

    ID Prediction #2 states:
    “(2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.”

    Now, if Casey’s saying the Intelligent Designer has been intelligent designing all along, making new species that show up in the geologic record from time to time, can we assume the Intelligent Designer is still around today? He/she/it must be, because we have observed new forms of organisms suddenly appear in the world around us (new forms of pepper moths, new bacteria, new viruses, etc.).

    So, my point is, if the IDer is still around doing his/her/its thing, we should be able to directly detect him/her/it. Since the IDer is manipulating the physical world around us, it must have physical form itself — unless it’s just a figment of Casey Luskin’s imagination.

  7. And until the Discoveroids allow scientific rebuttal of their crass arguments on their “blog” they can continue to misrepresent scientific enquiry to the sheep who flock to their lies.

  8. Why didn’t Luskin just refer the teacher to Dembski’s 2001 article “Is Intelligent Design Testable?” That masterpiece of word games “proves” not only that ID is “testable” but that “Darwinism” is not. Why is any other defense needed? You might remember that article as the one in which Dembski famously admits that ID can accommodate all the “results” of “Darwinism.” And to which Eugenie Scott replied with “The Big Tent and the Camel’s Nose.” That’s where Scott warned IDers to stop playing word games start telling us “what happened when” according to their “theory.”

    Nine years later, and 14 years after Behe conceded ~4 billion years of common descent, the DI still refuses to take a position on what the designer did when, let alone speculate on any “pathetic level of detail” of “how.”

  9. Once again, all you heathen Darwinists display the lamentable lack of Imagination without which you have no hope of ever glimpsing the cryptic TRVTH that is veiled behind the natural world.

    How it could it possibly arise by mere random chance that the name Discovery Institute could conceal (inter alia) the following coded anagrams? To wit:

    Eroticised Ivy Stunt
    Decisive Tiny Tutors
    Decisive Nutty Riots
    Inductees’ Ivory Tits
    Dice Invites Tryouts
    Distinctive User Toy
    Seductive Tits Irony
    Invoiced Yeti Struts
    Incited Voyeurs Tits
    Trusty Idiocies Vent
    Sit, Inductive Oyster!
    Snotty Diuretics Vie
    Runty Deistic Soviet
    Introduce Ivy Testis
    T’is Verity Seduction
    Deist Is Covert Unity
    Covert ID Yeti Is Nuts
    Covert Identity Is Us
    Visit Nude Icy Otters
    Trite Nude Viscosity
    Nude Stoic Ivy Sitter
    I Is Testy Nude Victor
    Into Scurviest Diety
    Diety Trounces Visit
    Diety Inverts Coitus
    It Ruts Diety Novices
    Diety Vices In Tutors
    Visit Core Diety Nuts
    Diety Crisis Veto Nut
    Diety Icon Versus Tit

    …and many, many more.

    Are all these mere ‘accidents’ of chaos? I don’t think so.

    Mind you, it’s hard to say which is my own favourite, though Countryside Tit Vise is probably in my Top 5…

  10. Great Claw, I see a pattern emerging here. As predicted! It was always foretold that “ye shall see words within words,” and now, with this experiment, Intelligent Anagrametics passes the test. You are truly engaged in testable science.

  11. Does this mean that there are some things that are not “intelligently designed”?

    Christians who believe that God created everything should be interested in this.

  12. Of course Casey is a moron, as are all the lawyers of the Dishonesty Institute. What’s interesting about Casey is he looks stupid. He has an extremely stupid looking face.

    What is sad is their science-sounding language, which is how they defend magic, is very popular with Christian extremists. The American Taliban loves the Dishonesty Institute, and quotes them often as if a normal person would be impressed by those tards.

    By the way, that was the best definition of intelligent magic I have ever seen. Thanks.

  13. I’ve been inspired by Casey. Behold: The four tests for astrology:

    1. Stars will be found that are arranged in intricate patterns

    2. Constellations will appear in the sky fully formed and without any visible rough drafts.

    3. Convergence and conjunctions will occur routinely.

    4. Many so-called “junk stars” will turn out to form useful patterns.

  14. The Curmudgeon prophesied:

    Many so-called “junk stars” will turn out to form useful patterns

    And behold! As it was Written, so hath it come to pass!

    I can now discern in the firmament, in a previously little-regarded patch over by Uranus, the brilliant new constellation Coma Behemichael

    Fall we to our knees in wonder and worship!

  15. Great Claw says: “… in a previously little-regarded patch over by Uranus …”

    Be careful; there are some things man was not meant to know. And yet, the Discoveroids never hesitate to explore that region.

  16. Curmudgeon: “I’ve been inspired by Casey. Behold: The four tests for astrology:”

    C’mon, Behe deserves some of that credit. Recall that at Dover he admitted that if science was extended to include ID, it would also include astrology.

  17. Frank J says:

    C’mon, Behe deserves some of that credit. Recall that at Dover he admitted that if science was extended to include ID, it would also include astrology.

    Yes, but he didn’t present a research program for testing astrology. Credit for that goes to me.

  18. Richard wrote:

    Damn you James F, I nearly had to clean sandwich off my monitor… Seriously, funniest thing I’ve read all day.