Monday, July 28, 2008

WTF Dembski?!!

There are a couple things on my mind today (other than getting wrapping up details of a project at work). One is on the content of the IC post I'm working on, the second regards the latest antics by Dr. William Dembski.

First, let me say that Dembski is smart and has made significant contributions to the foundation of ID. That said, his behaviour is troubling, bordering on bewildering and asinine.

There are two specific incidents that have left me shaking my head. The first is this post at UD. Two things bother me about it. The first is the picture that goes with the post. There was no need for it as it did not contribute at all to the message other than to denigrate the subject, Olivia Judson. When I first saw it, I said, "WTF Dembski! What were you THINKING?!" I think the answer is self-evident. The second was this "gem" of a quote:

"Could we please dispense with any patronizing nonsense about Darwin being less than the messiah of a materialistic religion that pretends to find its justification in science. If Darwin was not the alpha and omega of evolution, then he was either a knave or a fool or a madman. Darwin did not leave us any other options. He did not intend to. [Hat tip to C. S. Lewis.]"

This is an insult to C.S. Lewis's original argument and doesn't even rank as a third-rate knockoff. All this quote does is to further reinforce opposition opinions that Dembski is fueling the culture wars.

The second incident occurred this morning when Dembski banned one of the most thoughtful commenters at UD, Bob O'H. Bob provided a good balance to the discussions at UD and is one of the reasons I like lurking there. When I first saw the comment, it was another "WTF Dembski?" moment.

As someone who is sympathetic to teleology/design-in-nature standpoint, I am greatly disappointed. We (myself included) are not perfect, but need to be called to accountability. These actions do nothing to further the debate or the ID cause, just to exacerbate tensions that need cooling desperately.

Dr. Dembski, I urge you to re-instate Bob O'H and, at the very least, delete that picture. If this post gets me banned from commenting at UD, so be it. It had to be said.


  1. I am not sure that snide comments actually help, so banning such commenters may in fact be useful. I suffer through such comments where I post, but as far as I can tell, they only serve to reinforce the smug left. It's his blog.

    Regarding the photo, it seems to be from Let's talk about sex, chimpanzee, so it wasn't like he just made it up. I think it is supposed to be humorous, but like you, I don't get it.

  2. Bob O'H has said worse. At worst, he should have been banned from the thread, but not the site, and I'm not even sure he deserved the former. I've always found that commenters like Bob O'H provide good balance to UD and other such sites, and I've come to respect his comments.

    Regarding the photo, I never suggested he made it up, but rather the post could have done without it. The sole purpose, IMO, was to enflame the situation. Dembski could have made his point without the photo (and the reference to C.S. Lewis). I found it mean-spirited at best.

  3. But, isn't the picture of the subject, posed for by the subject, part of the way she chose to portray herself?

    Regarding ban is his blog, and your right to be upset at the way he runs it. You have your own blog, maybe Bob will show up here.

  4. WW, for me, it was more of a cumulative thing regarding my frustrations with Dembski. The picture, using C.S. Lewis quote inappropriately (IMO), and banning Bob O'H were merely icing on the cake.

    Let me be clear (for everyone): I am NOT "boycotting" UD. I am NOT wavering in my support of design in nature. I just want Dembski to acknowledge he may have gone too far. I think dl's comments at UD is a good tactful statement.

    Regarding the picture, Judson may have posed for it, but IMO, Dembski posting it is no different than a PTer posting a picture of Dembski as a terrorist (yes I know in the latter case it was altered, but it's still inflamatory).

    It would be an honour to have Bob O'H comment here at the asylum.

  5. Dembski's comments are causing a good discussion at TT, as well:

    Bilbo again

    Just a sampling. Go here for the complete thread.

  6. Also, note, I was banned from PZ Myers blog for pointing out the gaping holes in PZ's story, regarding the private screening of Expelled, in which PZ claimed that a response to an RSVP was an invitation.

    Regarding the use of CS Lewis, I have myself been accused of making use of (semi-sacred to the left) writings to make a point.

  7. WW, I expect Dembski, at minimum, to be better than P-Zed.

    Let me re-phrase: I expect EVERYONE, at minimum, to be better than P-Zed.

  8. Well, yes, it bothers me that Bob O'H was banned. I don't know if he said something that was deleted; but they just had a great thread on haldane/gene rate calculations, and it seems that with so many banned, it's hard to know if there's balance; someone like Bob might walk in and say a particular source was misinterpreted, as he often does.
    I just found this blog trying to find out if they made a parallel thread of that discussion somewhere else, to find balance, if any;

  9. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous, and welcome to EE.

    UD does have good threads at times, and I agree with you that Bob O'H provides good balance. Maybe he'll show up at TT now and then.