Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Randy Olson's Flock of Nonsense (Update on John Angus Campbell)

Well, it seemed like it was time to link all these Flock of Dodos write-ups of yesteryear in one place.
To sum it up, Olson's unprofessional (and unethical, I think, as a documentarian) treatment of John Angus Campbell, Jonathan Wells, John Calvert, and Michael Behe, either in the film or in the "Pulled Punches" follow-up, marks the film as schlockumentary.  Olson highlights some matters as essential that he is later free to dismiss as trivial when he's shown to be wrong.

In other words he engages in the very thing he defines as "Trivia Tackling": "trying to take down a large institution, idea or individual, not by assailing the large and significant parts, but by doggedly locking on to pieces of trivia."  The closest thing to "assailing the large and significant parts" in Flock is when he talks briefly about Behe's mousetrap analogy.  We see no intense discussion between Olson and Behe about the mousetrap, which would have been interesting, nor about any evolutionary matter with Behe that Olson has any expertise.

Something I noted recently is that John Angus Campbell (the "fake" Darwinist in the film) has his own website in which he clarifies his beliefs and his position on ID, and how Wikipedia mischaracterizes him.  He is politically liberal, and a subscriber to neo-Darwinism who has long advocated "teaching the controversy."  He ended his association with Discovery Institute when he started to find himself in the cross-hairs of Discovery Institute's political enemies.
When Wikipedia and The Weekly [a tabloid] mistakenly assumed I was supporting ID (and the religious right!) rather than promoting argument as a way of engaging a classic text [Darwin's Origin] - (and this before audiences who particularly needed to read it) the DI [Discovery Institute] affiliation had outlived its usefulness [for what?] and it was time for me to move on.*
Like Kenny Rogers, Campbell knew when to fold 'em, when to walk away, when to run.  Congratulations, Campbell. You too are a "secular creationist" for aiding and abetting "anti-science."  Question: Did Randy Olson consult anything other than Wikipedia to learn about Campbell?

See Campbell's concise rebuttal to Wikipedia and the Seattle Weekly:


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Evolutionary Informatics

Evolutionary informatics, a branch of information theory, studies the informational requirements of evolutionary processes. Its most significant result is a conservation principle. According to this principle, the information needed to find a successful search is never less than the information required to make the original search successful. Consequently, the higher-level search for a search is never easier than the original lower-level search. Conservation of information implies that information, like money or energy, is a commodity that obeys strict accounting principles. Accordingly, searches, in successfully locating targets, cannot expend more information than originally deposited. Conservation of information has far-reaching implications for evolutionary theory, pointing out that the success of evolutionary processes in exploring biological configuration space always depends on preexisting information. In particular, evolutionary processes cannot create the information required for their success from scratch.
  - William Dembski, "What Does Information Tell Us About ID?", Salvo