Klinghoffer’s Wonderful New Video

This one from the Discovery Institute is difficult to describe, so we won’t even try. It’s written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. His new post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Introducing The Information Enigma — Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Intelligent design, or ID, may be the most misunderstood scientific idea ever.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We understand it — at least we understand that because it’s unevidenced and untestable, it isn’t science. It’s pure Oogity Boogity! Okay, that was Klinghoffer’s introduction. Now we get to the good stuff:

That’s why we are delighted today to unveil an easily accessible twenty-minute crystallization of ID’s major argument in the form of a beautifully produced video from Discovery Institute, The Information Enigma.

We’ve omitted Klinghoffer’s link to the video, and we sincerely hope we haven’t inconvenienced anyone who wants to see the thing. Let’s read on:

I’m proud to have drafted the script, but the stars are philosopher of science Stephen Meyer and molecular biologist Douglas Axe.

Verily, it must be a thrill to behold! Klinghoffer continues:

ID stands out from other scientific ideas in a couple of ways. First, unlike other theories, it asks an ultimate question: Does life bear witness to being the product of intelligence, wisdom, purpose? Is your life, my life, therefore potentially also the object of care, even love on the part of a designer standing outside nature?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, that certainly distinguishes ID from everything in science. But we’ve always known that. Then he tells us another way in which ID is different from science:

Second, while other theories are far more difficult to grasp — general relativity, for example — no one sets out to invert Einstein’s meaning, turning his account of curved spacetime into a sinister parody to scare away independent-minded scientists and thoughtful laypeople. ID uniquely faces squads of activists committed to a rival idea, Darwinism, who specialize in confusing the public, casting ID as “creationism” or “science denial.”

ID isn’t unique in facing vigorous criticism from scientists — see Wikipedia’s List of topics characterized as pseudoscience.

We’re going to skip most of Klinghoffer’s post — it’s rather long because he’s so proud to have authored the video — but we’ll include this next excerpt because it’s inevitable that we’ll see these numbers repeated elsewhere, so you’ll be able to recognize them and know that their source is the Discoveroids:

In the past 3.5 billion years, only 10 to the 40th power (1040) organisms have ever lived. Each such individual organism represents a potential trial of the creativity of unguided evolution. If we grant the exceedingly generous (and highly unrealistic!) assumption that random mutations gifted every single organism in Earth’s history with an entirely new peptide sequence 150 amino acids long, then that figure, 1040, is still just a tiny fraction — one ten trillion, trillion, trillionth — of the earlier figure, 1077, which quantifies the space to be searched to produce a lone functional protein. Sufficient time is just not available for Darwinian evolution to do the job. Not even close.

That’s where we’re going to stop. If you’re interested, click over there. Read it all and view the video. Then let us know what you think.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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36 responses to “Klinghoffer’s Wonderful New Video

  1. And I’m sure that the video answers the question posed: How do things happen to be as they are, rather than something else?
    What is the relationship between design and this?
    As we are often told, life is so much more complex than anything that we know of being designed. The eye, so much more complex than a camera.
    And so much more ingenious, that engineers go to nature for ideas that they would never have thought of.
    And we know of designs which do not result in reality, that there must be something else going on: Rube Goldberg machines, perpetual motion, Superconducting Supercollider, Necker cube, shmoo, …
    So what is going on, when and where, why and how, that Intelligent Design results in life?
    I’m sure that the video must tell us.

  2. Klinky nicely contradicts himself:

    “ID’s major argument”
    Science is not about arguments hence ID is not science.

    “activists committed to a rival idea”
    Evolution Theory is not a rival idea. It’s a scientific theory.
    Now what does a scientific mind do when there are two rivalling theories? Design at test and collect empirical data to decide between the two.

  3. Intelligent design, or ID, may be the most misunderstood scientific idea ever.

    Maybe that’s because ID isn’t a scientific idea to begin with.

    And yet again they pull their inflated numbers out of their butts. Perhaps they have a severe case of diarrhea?

  4. Science may not ask the ultimate question, but there is something that does… religion. And that’s what IDists are peddling.

    IF intelligent design had a consistent message*, then this video might be useful. But we have all seen how ID shifts and flows. Every new scientific development, somehow, matches perfectly with ID.

    Of course, with Meyer in the fold, I’m sure the lies in the video are thicker than truth.

    *Other than something, somewhen, did something, somehow, that can’t occur without supernatural intervention.

  5. Hey Klinky! Replace “information” in your video with “phlogiston” and then you’ve got it!

  6. Klinghoffer asks: “Is your life, my life, therefore potentially also the object of care, even love on the part of a designer standing outside nature?

    Wait a minute…

    That sounds like a religious conclusion. Isn’t ID about the science only?!?!

  7. @waldteufel:
    No, phlogiston could be measured (it had negative weight, for example). Phlogiston explained something.
    “Information” (in the sense of ID) – we don’t have any clue about what kind of properties it has. Is it an extensive or intensive property, just to take what you learned in the first day of chemistry class.
    The first thing we hear about “information” is that it is not conserved – it can decrease spontaneously, it appears in the world of life, and people can make it increase – and we have no example where it is constant.
    Phlogiston is far more substantial.
    Information is in the same league as “the force” in the Star Wars franchise. If that is not too generous.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    I’m hung up on Klingy’s ultimate question, is this a new extension of ID: “Does life bear witness to being the product of intelligence, wisdom, purpose? ” Even if intelligence were proven, was it ‘wise’ would beg the further question about the accepted sloppiness of the designer. And purpose? Really? There is a lot of things in this world that are or appear purposeless. But these two things work great if you are talking about a religion.

  9. michaelfugate

    Why do people practicing apologetics get it confused with philosophy and science?

  10. Mike Elzinga

    I wonder what Klinghoffer’s explanation would be for why nobody connected with “Complex Specified Information” at the “Discovery” Institute won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. None of those Nobel Prize winners look like Discovery Institute Fellows; why is that?

    Could it have something to do with being “expelled;” or is CSI just a sectarian pseudoscience that purports to calculate the probabilities of molecular assemblies but doesn’t?

  11. Michaelfugate: I don’t think they’re confusing apologetics with philosophy; it’s that they don’t understand it. The problem is that apologetics is all they know and it encompasses everything. Whatever the religious flavor, it will answer any and every question. A common complaint of evolution is that it doesn’t explain morality or abiogenesis or the big bang. There’s no separation, it’s all or nothing. I think it’s one of the reasons an increase of religious belief decreases scientific understanding.

  12. “Is your life, my life, therefore potentially also the object of care, even love on the part of a designer standing outside nature?”
    Nope.

    And I get really tired of IDers complaining that they’re being unfairly criticized by scientists. It’s another proof they aren’t scientists at all, because they’ve apparently never been to a scientific meeting. Scientists criticize other scientist’s work.

    I’ll never forget when I was a young post-doc at the Marine Biological Institute an incident from the “Monday night fights” where people presented their work and drew lots of criticism and advice from the other scientists. One young scientist, in response to questions from an older scientist said “I don’t think you understood what I did.” There was absolute silence in the room, because the older scientist had a reputation for acerbic replies. After a couple of moments he said “I understand exactly what you did. What I’m trying to figure out is why you wasted our time telling us about it when it basically repeats work that was published in…” and he rattled off four references to articles in the Journal of Physiology. Klingy would have cried, I’m sure.

    Klingy, come up with some new experimental data and maybe we’ll listen to you.

  13. @TomS

    There is no such substance as phlogiston. It was an idea that pre-dated the discovery of oxygen and the process of oxidation. While used erroneously as an explanation of combustion, it in fact explained nothing. That is my point in my original post above. In general, I think we agree on the efficacy of spurious “explanations”.

  14. 3.5 billion years Klinger? I think the big tent may be flapping in the wind.

  15. @waldteufel-
    I think we agree fully. The example of the phlogiston theory is a commonplace on how not to do science. I was only saying that, as poor phlogiston was as an explanatory factor, the ID version of “information” does less of a job. At the time of phlogiston, nobody had any idea of what was going on. It can be understood that someone would make a desperate attempt at explaining in that state of lack of knowledge. It went so far that it was possible to measure the “weight of phlogiston”, and come up with a negative number. No one has taken “information” (as a term used by ID) seriously enough as to attempt any measure of it. Every one, even ID advocates it seems, realizes that one is not supposed to take it seriously.

  16. Second, while other theories are far more difficult to grasp — general relativity, for example — no one sets out to invert Einstein’s meaning, turning his account of curved spacetime into a sinister parody to scare away independent-minded scientists and thoughtful laypeople. ID uniquely faces squads of activists committed to a rival idea, Darwinism, who specialize in confusing the public, casting ID as “creationism” or “science denial.”

    I can’t help wondering whether Klinghoffer is familiar with the psychiatric concept of projection,” in which one attributes one’s own undesirable feelings, attitudes, beliefs and even actions to someone else instead. Certainly one could substitute “ID” and “creationism” for “Darwinism,” and vice versa, in the above quote and get a perfectly accurate statement of what K. et al. are doing.

  17. Obviously that should be “can’t help wondering” above. Oh, for an edit button. . . .

    [*Voice from above*] Sorry, but I’m all you’ve got.

  18. ” Sufficient time is just not available for Darwinian evolution to do the job. Not even close.”
    Yet noticeable changes in human populations heights can be seen in only two hundred years in America. The average male is several inches taller than he was in 1776.
    How could this be Klinklpooper? 200 years. vs 10 77th power retroactive astonishment factors.
    Sorry no contest. And no science either.

  19. I think that changes in heights of humans over the last couple of centuries is not genetic, but rather due to better nutrition and perhaps also better public health.

  20. It is amusing (and entirely typical) that the scriptwriter for ‘The Information Enigma’ has no background whatsoever in science, and its two stars have no background in Information Theory.

    Yet Klingwrap assures us that this is science.

  21. Dave Luckett

    Almost certainly. But there is an evolutionary factor operating, in the form of sexual selection. Women prefer male partners who are taller than they, and they prefer tall men generally. Provided that there is a capacity to produce such a population, and also provided that tallness – say, in the middle six-foot range – is not more disadvantaged overall by other environmental factors, heights will increase. It is probable that the modern western diet has the effect of making a tall population possible – but I think sexual selection is providing the actual cause for the rise in height.

  22. Hey, Klinghoffer — What’s the volume of a typical adult human? Two or three cubic feet, maybe? Now, what’s the volume of the observable universe? The actual figure doesn’t matter for the point I’m making, so let me pull a number out of my [edited out] like you did and say it’s something like a nice, round googol cubic feet — 10^100 cu. ft.

    So, Klinghoffer, the odds of you being in the exact three cubic feet of the universe that you occupy are vanishingly small — so small that you would say it’s totally impossible for you to exist. And yet — you exist! How can that be?!? It’s a mathematical impossibility! I’m using the same logic that you did, so maybe there’s something wrong with your reasoning, wouldn’t you agree? Either that, or maybe you really don’t exist!

  23. As to “phlogiston theory”, the denialists love to use it as an example of “failed science.” Of course, they are lying when they say that. Again. (Still. Always.)

    I’ve written on it so many times that here’s an excerpt from a standard blurb from the BSF FAQs, ASAP:

    The reason “phlogiston theory” survived for a while–despite the experimental evidence against it—was because it was first proposed BY A PHILOSOPHER AS A PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT. The philosopher Johann Becher (in 1669, before modern science was fully defined and established as the foundation of chemistry) claimed that all substances contained three kinds of earth: the vitrifiable, mercuriable[sic], and the combustible. If that sounds a lot like Aristotle’s FOUR ELEMENTS philosophy, then you understand how Becher was a very traditional philosopher steeped in the ancient philosophies of the Greeks and Romans. He was NOT a scientist (then called “natural philosopher”) and he had limited interest in experimental verification of his claims. It was a follower of Becher, Georg Stahl, who actually coined the name “philogston” a few years later in his writings about Becher’s philosophy.

    It was during Stahl’s lifetime that SCIENTISTS started heavily criticizing Becher & Stahl’s “Philogston Theory” because those early pioneer chemists were adopting the scientific method (and thereby establishing chemistry as an actual SCIENCE) and they started TESTING various claims made by the traditional philosophers who had preceded them.

    What did scientists find in testing Becher’s & Stahl’s “Phlogiston” philosophy? They discovered that the ash of organic materials like wood and leaves weighed LESS than the original material—while the calx (what we know as the oxidized product) of metals was HEAVIER than the original material. So scientists effectively DESTROYED the “Phlogiston Theory of Philosophy” from the start! (Sorry, anti-science propagandists. You lost again. As the Bible warned you, the liar shall not prosper. His sins will catch up with him.)

    No doubt the denialists will claim that I’m just manipulating the words “philosopher” and “scientist” to “protect the religion of science”—but the facts are against that objection. You see, when scientists published and demonstrated to Georg Stahl that actual experiments involving careful weighing of the materials and resulting ashes totally destroyed “Phlogiston Theory”, Stahl didn’t care. Stahl’s wrote that he considered phlogiston an IMMATERIAL “PRINCIPLE” rather than an ACTUAL substance. In other words, Stahl emphasized that his was the philosophy of METAPHYSICS, not Science! If one isn’t dealing with material substances, one isn’t a scientist! Stahl repeated what Becher had claimed: phlogiston was a fundamental “principle” and not necessarily applicable to the material world, the realm of Science, in actual experiments.

    Indeed, Stahl was also saying that “Phlogiston Theory” was ancient “elemental philosophy” in the tradition of Aristotle and could not be expected to be falsifiable under the scrutiny of scientific experiments. In other words, “Phlogiston philosophy” was never any sort of “established scientific fact”, despite denialist misrepresentations.

    It is true that a few early scientists who still wanted to embrace traditional philosophy in various ways, such as Joseph Priestly, tried for a while to resurrect phlogiston and somehow make it scientifically legitimate. They failed and the entire Science academy recognized that failure. Pioneer chemist Antoine Lavoisier (in the 1780’s) did exhaustive studies on all sorts of metals and other substances and managed to explain (using the scientific method) that OXYGEN was the scientific response and answer to what philosopher’s had tried to imagine with their phlogiston theory of philosophy. No scientist was EVER able to develop, let alone publish, a valid scientific theory of phlogiston.

  24. ….but I think sexual selection is providing the actual cause for the rise in height.

    Interesting thought. If that is the primary cause of increasing heights, that would surely mean that tall men tend to father more children on average than shorter men. Do any studies support that outcome? From what I’ve read, that sexual selection advantage is exactly what researchers found in the Netherlands—but they did NOT find that advantage with tall men in the USA. Nevertheless, tall women in the Netherlands did not produce more children than average height women.

    From what I’ve read, researchers are still trying to figure out why the same sexual selection advantage for tall males was not found in the USA.

    The Netherlands now has the tallest men in the world. So I guess women’s preferences played their part. (I had heard that a Dutch scientist was going to investigate whether tall men were more likely to be divorced and start second families.)

  25. Either that, or maybe you really don’t exist!

    RetiredSciGuy, interesting thought! I used to illustrate something similar for one of my classes: I’d shuffle a deck of 52-cards and have a student draw five cards and announce them to the class. We’d calculate the chances of that particular hand [ignoring the drawn order of the cards] on the classroom’s marker board. I would then congratulate the student for his/her incredible luck. Then I would ask the student, “Have you ever drawn a royal flush in 5 card draw?” The student would always say, “Never.” So I would ask, “How can that be? A royal flush is FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY than the 5-card hand you just drew! Why was your luck so incredible today when you’ve never ever drawn a four times more likely royal flush???”

    It was always interesting to watch the students think through and then articulate why this was not a demonstration of good luck. Some found it difficult to express exactly why the argument was bogus.

    One time when I did this demonstration, I told the student drawing the cards that he was so lucky with that hand because I had prayed over the card deck daily for a week. He didn’t believe me.

  26. In The Netherlands “better nutrition and perhaps also better public health” vs. sexual selection is a false dichotomy when explaining why the Dutch have become so much taller in a few decades.

  27. phlogiston
    I hadn’t realized that phlogiston was so poor by the standards of the 18th century. It was an exaggeration on my part to rate it significantly better than “information in the sense of ID”. Even at that, however, I think that it was treated more seriously – that it could be treated more seriously: one could attempt to determine its properties in objective measures – it was determined to have negative (or at least less than air) weight. Some of its supporters may exhibited familiar reluctance to be pinned down, so it seems.

  28. Since evolution happens to be a change in populations over time, not individuals, it doesn’t really matter what the ’cause’ is – it’s still evolution.
    If the population is taller than it was previously, then it has evolved.

  29. Apologies for the tag error, I could have sworn I did it correctly!

    [*Voice from above*] All is forgiven.

  30. mnbo proclaims

    In The Netherlands “better nutrition and perhaps also better public health” vs. sexual selection is a false dichotomy when explaining why the Dutch have become so much taller in a few decades.

    Indeed. Simple introspection with a smidgeon of imagination tells us plainly that Dutchmen, just like Lamarck’s giraffes, are growing taller as a result of conscious stretching of themselves the better to keep their noses above sea level should the national system of dykes fail.

    This should be self-evident–but the evil cabal of the Darwintern continue their merciless pogrom against we holders of the TRVTH!!!

  31. @Timatheist –
    IMHO, evolution is a change in heritable properties of a population.

  32. @TomS
    If tall people give birth to more tall people, is that not heritable?

  33. @Timatheist –
    Not necessarily.
    If mothers get better prenatal care, if there is better food available, and what ever else, that may result in the next generation being taller. And if that stops happening, the next generation may be shorter. The change is not heritable.
    But the change may be heritable. I don’t know what the actual cause is.

  34. Thanks, TomS. You saved me the time it would have taken to make the same comment to Timatheist.

    To be an evolutionary trait, it must be fixed in the genes.

  35. @retiredsciguy
    I would accept that better nutrition and care might contribute to there being a greater number of tall people in the population. I’m completely comfortable with that but, unless you are suggesting that hight is not determined by genetic inheritance at all, then I would suggest that an increase in the average height of a population over time is at least partially an evolutionary effect. You could make exactly the same argument about Darwin’s Galapogos finches’ beaks! Would you?

  36. Increase in average height of a population over time COULD be the result of evolution, if one could prove that natural selection was selecting for people with a genetic predisposition to be tall. That hasn’t been proven in the United States. I have my doubts that it will be.

    One could say that increased life expectancy in the United States is due to evolution too, since that is somewhat governed by genes. But that would be even more provably untrue.