Discovery Institute Has Another Guru

Lacking any trace of evidence for the existence of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who allegedly created the universe, the laws of nature, life, and you, the Discovery Institute likes to find “authorities” who support their mystical claims. Now they’ve got a new one.

They just posted this at their creationist blog: Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Is “80 Percent” Confident in Intelligent Design. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

This is new to me. Brian Josephson is a Welsh physicist and 1973 Nobel laureate who estimates his confidence in intelligent design at about 80 percent. It comes up on in an interview with host Robert Lawrence Kuhn for the PBS series Closer to Truth.

There’s a video of that interview at the Discoveroid post. We haven’t looked at it. Then Klinghoffer says:

Given the choice between ID, theistic evolution, and unguided or “random” evolution, Dr. Josephson opts for intelligent design:

[Alleged quote from Josephson:] I believe that intelligence may play a role in how evolution has occurred. One of the big mistakes of those who attack intelligent design is to regard evolution and God as mutually exclusive, so they say that someone who believes in intelligent design doesn’t believe in evolution, but that’s not the case. Also, I’d say science has disappeared into something political, really, as the statement that “creationism disguised as science” is a totally false view of what’s happened.

How can a Nobel prize winning physicist be so vacuous? There’s a clue in Wikipedia’s write up on Josephson, which says, with our bold font:

In the early 1970s Josephson took up transcendental meditation and turned his attention to issues outside the boundaries of mainstream science. He set up the Mind–Matter Unification Project at the Cavendish to explore the idea of intelligence in nature, the relationship between quantum mechanics and consciousness, and the synthesis of science and Eastern mysticism, broadly known as quantum mysticism. Those interests have led him to express support for topics such as parapsychology, water memory and cold fusion, and have made him a focus of criticism from fellow scientists.

Considering Josephson’s other views, it’s not surprising that he has drifted into intelligent design. What next — the Time Cube? Returning to Klinghoffer’s post, we’re told:

He [Josephson] compares design in evolution to human creativity, and concedes that his ideas about ID may not be consistent with traditional theism. The kicker comes at the end. Kuhn asks: “What is your confidence level, on a scale of 0 to 100, that the design of the process of evolution is by some kind of transcendent intelligence?” Josephson answers: “Well, about 80 percent perhaps,” adding that “materialism would have a hard time if that were known to be correct.” And that is certainly true.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] He’s 80% convinced. What’s stopping him from going all the way?

Klinghoffer, obviously thrilled with the foregoing, adds an unconvincing note of caution. He says:

It need not be added – but I’ll add it anyway – that, obviously, one Nobel laureate’s say-so doesn’t establish the argument for design in biology or cosmology. But this is interesting, and it goes to show something we have seen here before: that once you reach a certain level of stature, and perhaps a certain age as well, you stop feeling the need to self-censor. Then the truth, as you see it, comes out.

Josephson has certainly reached the age (he’s 77) when he can babble about whatever he feels is The Truth — for what it’s worth. His colleagues are probably embarrassed for him, but Klinghoffer is thrilled — so this is where we’ll leave him.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Discovery Institute Has Another Guru

  1. Mike Elzinga

    The last time I heard Josephson give a talk was back in the early 1980s at a seminar in the Physics Department at the University of Michigan. The talk had a title something like “The wavefunction of life.”

    About halfway throught the talk, a bunch of us had enough and walked out. On way out, someone quipped,”One of the main advantages of having a Nobel prize is that one can bulls**t in front of an audience for hours and people will politely sit and listen,”

  2. “so they say that someone who believes in intelligent design doesn’t believe in evolution, but that’s not the case.”

    We know that isn’t true.

  3. These brilliant “Scientist” who don’t have the imagination or insight or ability to even invent a new cell form, think all this was made by some ID!?!

  4. Michael Fugate

    Never heard of “Closer to Truth” – although it says it is in its 17th season!
    Lots of Templeton and BioLogos style arguments.

  5. secmilchap

    Seems as if I missed something that Dr Josephson stumbled upon. I took TM training in 1976 and have been using it twice daily since then, plus occasional additional sessions when having difficulty going to sleep (typical for age 80, it seems). Usually a TM session is just pleasantly relaxing and revivifying; occasionally I get to a really detached mental state. But, even in those sessions, there’s never any kind of Grand Connection To The Great Beyond, feeling “one with the universe”, &c. As Dr Herbert Benson says in his book, *The Relaxation Response*, it’s a good way to relax – that’s *all* it is. Dr Josephson’s comments would seem to qualify him for a NutCase Prize to go with his Nobel.

  6. Richard Feynman had a statement that fits here: “I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy”.

  7. Ross Cameron

    Creating 33,000 diseases is ‘Intelligent Design’?

  8. A few points that Dave Klingwrap may have failed to mention:

    1) The discovery that Josephson won his Nobel for was made in 1962, over half a century ago, and when Josephson was only 22.

    2) Since the 1970s, he’s been known more for Transcendental Meditation, Parapsychology, and Quantum Mysticism, than for any scientific work. The guy is, in short, a lifelong crank.

    As a statistician, I would suggest a very-near-100% probability that his 80% probability has no valid statistical basis.

    No doubt, if they scrape the bottom of the barrel hard enough, the Disco ‘Tute may be able to find a few more prominent cranks with no expertise whatsoever connected to their claims, who are willing to endorse ID creationism.

  9. The Wikipedia article on Brian Josephson also mentions water memory (connected to homeopathy) and cold fusion.

  10. Michael Fugate

    You know he’s a crackpot when he whines he’s the next Wegener and parapsychology is the next continental drift instead of doing any work.

  11. If they want out of work quacks I am sure Kary Mullis and Peter Duesberg are not busy.

  12. Michael: it’s strange how all these “next Wegener”s never seem to be willing to front up the level of evidence that the original did.

    Tom: so you think the Disco ‘Tute should go for the Triple Crown — Evolution denial, Climate-change denial *and* AIDS/HIV denial? Talk about covering their bases. Maybe add in Jenny McCarthy as a Fellowette and go Anti-vax as well?

  13. And even this crackpot doesn’t reject Evolution Theory like our favourite poo flinger does ……
    It rather sounds like theist evolution to me.

    “One of the big mistakes of those who attack intelligent design is to regard evolution and God as mutually exclusive,”
    The practicing christians Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins attack IDiocy just fine.

  14. @mnbo:
    That seems to be the case.
    So what difference is there that makes J’s opinions attractive to a creationist, rather than those of so many others, like M. & C.?
    I suggest that it is the confusion. Confusion, incoherence, negativism are the essence of creationism.

  15. In addition to the other nonsense accepted by Josephson, he also believes in ESP, PK, and cold fusion.

  16. “PBS series Closer to Truth.” About science so surely would have been picked up by BBC, then I see some of the quacks and cranks they have on, and understand why it hasn’t.

  17. Given our past experience with IDiots your suggestion is very acceptable, TomS.

  18. Michael Fugate

    Speaking of DI gurus, Egnor has a vacuous little column at First Things*. He employs the classic creationist scientific method and concludes since he is baffled about consciousness, God exists.

    They also feature regular columns by DI fellow and human exceptionalist Wesley J. Smith. I guess in an era of fake news why not shoot for fake science too.

  19. You know, if I were a Christian outfit like the DI, before I’d court someone like Josephson, I’d check his credentials besides the Nobel prize a bit. Now the DI runs the risk of being associated with new-age crackpottery. That would surely tarnish their outstanding reputation, wouldn’t it?

  20. Eric Lipps

    [Alleged quote from Josephson:] I believe that intelligence may play a role in how evolution has occurred. One of the big mistakes of those who attack intelligent design is to regard evolution and God as mutually exclusive, so they say that someone who believes in intelligent design doesn’t believe in evolution, but that’s not the case. Also, I’d say science has disappeared into something political, really, as the statement that “creationism disguised as science” is a totally false view of what’s happened.

    Dr. Josephson evidently doesn’t keep up with the real-life “intelligent design” movement, which is pretty straightforwardly anti-evolution (though it’s been forced to allow some wiggle room for “adaptation”).

    And I think it’s perfectly plain that ID, as peddled by that movement, is creationism, no matter how many times its adherents say it isn’t, and is indeed “disguised as science” in an effort to evade past unfavorable court decisions blocking the teaching of creationism in public schools.

  21. ID is not Young Earth Creationism. One of the principles of ID is to have no opinion on the age of life (saying something like, once we get rid of evolution, then we can get to work on questions like that). One might say that it is compatible with YEC, or that it is simply silent.
    As far as anti-evolution, even many YECs make a point of accepting “micro”evolution, even to the point of identifying micro-evolution with adaptation. Some would say that micro-evolution is just adaptation, while “macro”evoluton would have to be more than that.

  22. I had an encounter with Josephson – more of a near miss, really. I told him he was wrong.

  23. Michael Fugate

    Josephson is almost as good with analogies as the DI is. Atoms are agents because biology.
    http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/Documents/Lindau2016-slides.pdf

  24. Eric Lipps

    TomS | 29-June-2017 at 9:21 pm |
    ID is not Young Earth Creationism. One of the principles of ID is to have no opinion on the age of life (saying something like, once we get rid of evolution, then we can get to work on questions like that). One might say that it is compatible with YEC, or that it is simply silent.

    ID doesn’t have to support a “young earth” to be creationism. And if it’s “silent” on the subject, how do we know its adherents aren’t young-earthers who simply find it expedient not to say so publicly?

    As far as anti-evolution, even many YECs make a point of accepting “micro” evolution, even to the point of identifying micro-evolution with adaptation. Some would say that micro-evolution is just adaptation, while “macro” evolution would have to be more than that.

    But all evolution involves adaptation. Creationists are basically playing a word game by separating the two, since they’re unwilling to apply a consistent standard for distinguishing “micro” evolution from the “macro” variety.

    Intelligent design is a pure fraud–not a scientific theory but rather a legal maneuver intended to get around court decisions unfavorable to the teaching of Biblical creationism as science in public schools.