Friday, September 19, 2008

WTC7 and ID

During the comments of a recent post, it was suggested I look into the collapse of WTC7 from September 11, 2001. A theory going around the web suggested that the collapse was due to a controlled demolition. Not being a big fan of conspiracy theories (which this sounded like one to me), I was skeptical, but I looked into it and found this briefing from the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST) dated August 21, 2008. The following is from the linked briefing:

Determining the probable collapse sequence for WTC 7, NIST found that the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 ignited fires on at least 10 floors of WTC 7, and the fires burned out of control on six lower floors. The heat from these uncontrolled fires caused thermal expansion of the steel beams on the lower floors of the east side of WTC 7, damaging the floor framing on multiple floors. Eventually, a girder on Floor 13 lost its connection to a critical interior column that provided support for the long floor spans on the east side of the building. The displaced girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the fifth floor. Many of these floors had already been at least partially weakened by the fires in the vicinity of the critical column. This collapse of floors left the critical column unsupported over nine stories.

“When this critical column buckled due to lack of floor supports, it was the first domino in the chain,” Sunder explained. “What followed in rapid succession was a progression of structural failures. Failure first occurred all the way to the roof line—involving all three interior columns on the most eastern side of the building. Then, progressing from east to west across WTC 7, all of the columns in the core of the building failed. Finally, the entire façade collapsed.”

The investigation team considered the possibility of other factors playing a role in the collapse of WTC 7, including the possible use of explosives, fires fed by the fuel supply tanks in and under the building, and damage from the falling debris of WTC 1.

The team said that the smallest blast event capable of crippling the critical column would have produced a “sound level of 130 to 140 decibels at a distance of half a mile,” yet no noise this loud was reported by witnesses or recorded on videos.

As for fuel fires, the team found that they could not have been sustained long enough, could not have generated sufficient heat to fail a critical column, and/or would have produced “large amounts of visible smoke” from Floors 5 and 6, which was not observed.

Finally, the report notes that “while debris impact from the collapse of WTC 1 initiated fires in WTC 7, the resulting structural damage had little effect in causing the collapse of WTC 7.”


A chain of probable causes was discovered and laid out in detail by the NIST investigative team. The bottom line: the evidence did NOT point towards controlled demolition.

This parallels the situation of ID: how can we determine if design is a legitimate explanation? At first glance, it may look like design, but peer deeper into the details, and the design may show itself to be an illusion.

Mike Gene has laid out how we may investigate our suspicions in The Design Matrix, but he leaves it at the investigation stage. This is perhaps due in part to ID being "a nascent protoscience".

So let's open the floor for comments. The theme is "By purpose or by accident: how can we tell?"

135 comments:

  1. Note, tenured professor Steven Earl Jones was Expelled for performing scientific experiments to evaluate the official sequence of events, and raising questions over the official account.

    The physicist Jones claims:
    thermite

    Rabbit trail coincidences everywhere in the case of 9/11.

    Larry Silverstein owned building 7, and the leases to buildings 1 and 2.

    Here, Mr. Silverstein says
    pull it regarding building 7.

    Building 7 would would have had the FEMA emergency command center on 9/11, except, coincidentally, FEMA was doing an exercise at Pier 9, if I remember correctly.

    You have very little chance of figuring out what really happened, but your great grand children might.

    What do I think? 15/19SaudisDidIt.

    I am fat, dumb, and happy.

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  2. Keeeeewlll! A real-live 9/11 conspiracy theorist at EE!

    anonymous, I see your conspiracy theory and raise you Occam's Razor. I (and the NIST) win. The simplest explanation of the collapse was summarised beautifully by the NIST. Nuff said.

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  3. Actually, I'm not done yet.

    Forensic engineering is an interesting field of study. While studying for my Masters of Science (Structural Engineering) degree, I liked to read through past issues of the Engineering News-Record (ENR). ENR documents structural failures from collapse to investigation to final report. In the final report tends to be the best explanation given the available facts.

    A forensic engineer needs to have intimate knowledge of the structural framing material(s) including how different failures occur. Even with this encyclopedic knowledge, causes of collapse can be in dispute. The L'Ambiance Plaza collapse (Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 23, 1987). A grad student reported that there was no "official" cause, but I remember seeing a show on TLC (when one could actually call it that) called "Collapse" that documented this case and put the blame on the jacks for the Lift Slab technique.

    Bottom line: forensic engineering may not always come up with "concrete" answers (forgive the pun), but they beat conspiracy theories any day.

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  4. "By purpose or by accident: how can we tell?"

    As an educator, I often find that examples are the best pedagogical tools. Thinking about something n the abstract can be hard; thinking about a concrete example makes it more likely that the abstract concept can be understood.

    So I return to the example of the alleged Neanderthal flute. IS this the result of design, and thus the earliest known musical instrument? Or is it the result of accident, a cave bear gnawing on a bone to get the marrow?

    How do you proceed if you are an ID scientist? Beats me.

    But a real scientist would know the differences in technique (drilling vs. puncture), and see if those different methods can be distinguished in the final product (HOW). A real scientist would look for other evidence that indicated that cave bears were in the area at the time that the artifact was produced (WHEN). Those two bits of information are important in detecting design (WHY) or the designer (WHO), but are unavailable to the ID-driven investigator in his/her classical field, the amazing complexity of living cells and organisms.

    As noted before, you can't get to WHY or even WHO if you don't look at the other important parameters such as WHEN, WHERE, and HOW. In the case of living organisms, we know WHEN and WHERE and HOW. Unfortunately, these bits of infomation don't lead to WHO, and WHY becomes "survival and reproduction".

    Discuss.

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  5. You failed to address why Steve Jones was Expelled.

    You failed to identify when Ockham's Razor become law?

    You failed to demonstrate that structural postmortems are accurate, e.g., with double blind studies showing the methods accurately predict the cause of compound events.


    But if you want to be fat, dumb, and happy, and accept the simplest (read: most comfortable) answer, I do join you.

    Conspiracy theory bad. Conspiracy theory bad. Conspiracy theory bad.

    Actually, as I said, there is not point entertaining the conspiracy theories.

    But Steven Jones seemed to be doing legitimate investigation.

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  6. Regarding Dave's Neanderthal flute:

    As an "ID scientist", I would first look at 4 criteria:
    1. Analogy - looks similar to a flute made by modern humans. (+3)
    2. Discontinuity - Highly unlikely natural forces would make "smooth" circles as seen in the flute. (+4)
    3. Rationality - this should be considered ambiguous without surrounding and corroborating information (0)
    4. Foresight - similar to rationality (0)

    Thus we get a final score of (3+4+0+0)/4 = +1.75

    A low DM score, but enough to maybe confirm suspicions.

    Investigations can proceed from a design perspective.

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  7. anonymous:
    I'm not intimately familiar with Jones's claims, and I don't need to be, just as I don't need to be intimately familiar with Danny Jowenko's theory of controlled demolition. The NIST briefing covers the causes of collapse quite well without invoking other theories.

    While forensic engineering may not always come up with an all-encompassing answer, in this case, the WTC7 collapse causes were sufficiently investigated and explained.

    The investigation was not fat, was far from lazy and nowhere near dumb.

    You still lose.

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  8. "By purpose or by accident: how can we tell?"

    The NIST analysis provides a good example of how engineers figure this out. They build a chain of probable causes. If they find a purposeful agent in the chain then they might say that the result was purposeful. Otherwise they would say it was by accident or they would say "we don't know." (The default answer is "we don't know.")

    IDists, of course, do not propose chains of events. They don't deal in mechanistic details. IDists would simply debate whether or not the collapse was, in some free-floating philosophical sense, meant to happen.

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  9. Good to hear from you again Freelurker.

    "IDists, of course, do not propose chains of events. They don't deal in mechanistic details. IDists would simply debate whether or not the collapse was, in some free-floating philosophical sense, meant to happen."

    For some IDists, yes. But the way I see it, a probable chain of causes is still something of interest from a design perspective. The mechanisms need to be understood to come up with a valid and reasonable explanation.

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  10. jjs wrote: As an "ID scientist", I would first look at 4 criteria:
    1. Analogy - looks similar to a flute made by modern humans. (+3)
    2. Discontinuity - Highly unlikely natural forces would make "smooth" circles as seen in the flute. (+4)
    3. Rationality - this should be considered ambiguous without surrounding and corroborating information (0)
    4. Foresight - similar to rationality (0)

    Thus we get a final score of (3+4+0+0)/4 = +1.75


    But you can't apply that first step to the "incredibly complex cellular machinery", can you?

    Looks similar to cells designed by other deities? By humans? Which one would you choose?

    Furthermore, the point is that unless IDists can identify who (or a couple of options, like humans or cave bears), they have no rational criteria for discussing how those "smooth circles" appeared in that bone. Mechanisms (drilling or puncturing) require knowledge, or at least some assumptions, about who.

    Now Bilbo would tell us that he does have some assumptions about the designer, i.e., that it thinks like we do. I have no idea as to the basis of that assumption other than the Judeo-Christian religion, but we'll leave that alone for now. Nonetheless, that assumption is negated by the incredible number of truly bad designs we find in nature (egregious case, the recurrent laryngeal nerve in the giraffe). It is negated by the discussion that Bilbo and I had, where allegedly rational criteria for start codons cannot be applied to other aspects of the genetic code, the start codon. So I am fairly convinced (and you might be too) that the designer doesn't think and work like we do. If that is the case, it is darn near impossible to get past the first step in your sequence above.

    Real science, whether SETI or CSI or Stonehenge analysis or Neanderthal flute analysis, can proceed just like you outlined for the flute. ID cannot. That's why this example is so useful. Real scientists know how to proceed, starting with some assumptions about who, which lead to other assumptions about how, etc. ID scientists are stuck at step one.

    And BTW, the most recent consensus re the Neanderthal flute is that it is the result of bear bites, completely accidental.

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  11. Wow, JJS, this was sooner than I expected. Let's call the NIST's explanation the "duck," and the controlled demolition of WTC 7 the "rabbit."

    Analogy We have testimony from a controlled demolition expert, before he knew that it was WTC 7, or that it happened on 9/11, that this was a controlled demolition. The only evidence that NIST gives against this is that there was no explosion, and that it would have been too difficult to rig #7 for explosions without it being noticed.

    However, as to the explosion, this ignores not only numerous ear-witness testimony to the explosion, but also actual recording of the explosion. Further, how far did NIST go in investigating whether or not there was an explosion? How many witnesses did they examine? What is there explanation of the recording of the explosion? What is there explanation of the witnesses we have who claimed to have heard an explosion.

    NIST's other objection to a controlled demolition is that rigging it for demolition would have been noticed. However, Danny Jowenko estimated that 30-40 workers could have done it in a day (8 hours?). That suggests that 10 workers could have done it in about 24-32 hours. This could have been done in a weekend, or at nights. Do we have any evidence of "remodeling" or "repair" work recently being done at #7. I have heard rumors that the security and maintenance staff at the WTCs had been given a couple of days off, not long before 9/11. How much of this was investigated by NIST?

    Based on the expert testimony of Danny Jowenko, and the evidence of an explosion, I would Analogy a +4. If we find evidence of extensive "remodeling" or "repair" work, or of security and maintenance getting time off, I would raise that to +5.

    Discontinuity It's important to note that even NIST admitted that #7's collapse would be the ONLY known collapse of a steel building due to fire. It has never happened before in history. Second, it is important to note that the NIST is under the Department of Commerce, which is under the Executive branch of government, part of the Bush/Cheney administration. There is NO WAY this investigation could be considered an INDEPENDENT investigation. For the NIST to find that #7 had collapsed due to controlled demolition would be to immediately throw suspicion on the Bush/Cheney administration. Why do I bring it up here? Because the NIST is looking for the most probable cause, excepting controlled demolition. Therefore, it will inevitably offer an explanation that is most probable, barring controlled demolition. And what is that explanation? That a structural failure at just the right location caused the collapse of the building. What a coincidence! Is there any evidence that the fire at this location burned hot enough and long enough to cause such a collapse? As far as we know, the fires in #7 were merely office fires, that burned themselves out after a short time. What evidence is there that there was a fire that burned hot enough and long enough at just the right place for a collapse to happen? NIST's explanation depends upon ignoring the most obvious explanation -- controlled demolition. Once it is ignored, then we have to assume a very improbable explanation is the most probable.

    There finding also ignores the fact that #7 had been predicted to collapse hours before it actually did collapse! And we have numerous witnesses saying that they were told to evacuate the area, because #7 was going to be "brought down."

    So for Discontinuity, given that the investigation is not impartial, but had to assume that a controlled demolition had not occurred; given that they ignored the evidence of witnesses who said that they were told that #7 was going to be brought down; given that there were reports that #7 was going to collapse long before it did; given that this would be the only steel building ever to collapse, I give it a +3.

    To be continued.

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  12. In the long-awaited report of the investigation of the collapse of the 47-story building World Trade Center 7 (WTC 7) on September 11, 2001, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) only pretended to tell us why the building collapsed the way it did. Actually they failed at the task, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.

    NIST set out to explain the collapse of WTC 7 by reconstructing the collapse as a theoretical computer model. Instead they constructed an altogether different collapse -- not the one that needed explaining, but one that did not occur.

    In videos of the actual collapse, such as at the start of http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/wtc_videos/wtc_videos.html, walls and edges of the building remain fairly straight and vertical as the building descends. In the NIST computer model the exterior severely buckles before the building descends. (Pages 107-108 in document NCSTAR 1-9A). The top of the building was not observed collapsing in on itself as NIST claims. See for yourself on the NIST web page http://wtc.nist.gov.

    This is not a minor quibble, but a major contradiction. The NIST theory does not fit the facts. It should be a major scandal.

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  13. For some IDists, yes. But the way I see it, a probable chain of causes is still something of interest from a design perspective. The mechanisms need to be understood to come up with a valid and reasonable explanation.

    I'm not sure that I follow you.

    I would say that the probable chain of causes is the explanation of the result.

    If someone has such a chain, is there something more that they need before they can say that they have an explanation?

    If someone does not have such a chain, might they still be able to say that they have an explanation? What else would count as an explanation?

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  14. Now this is more like it!

    Bilbo:
    I think both of your scores are too high. Have you ever heard steel rupture/fail? I remember a lab where we applied tension to a steel coupon/specimen that was about 2cm in diametre. The sound of it rupturing was quite loud. If a 2cm dia. piece of steel can make a loud bang, imagine a large steel beam coming crashing down!

    30-40 workers would have been noticed, even in New York (I find it interesting you bring this up. Are you suggesting WTC7 was in Osama Bin Ladin's plan for 9/11 as well?)

    The analogy, IMHO, is superficial at best. (-2)

    Discontinuity: your main objection would appear to be NIST's objectivity. Seeing as how the NIST (a government organisation) and the ASCE (a non-government organisation) came to similar conclusions regarding the collapse of WTC1 and 2, I think NIST's reputation is safe. (-4)

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  15. In response to one of the Dave's I know (I've been itching to say that for a while, heh heh):

    "But you can't apply that first step to the "incredibly complex cellular machinery", can you?"

    Sure I can. As Mike Gene has described in The Design Matrix, the analogy between molecular structures and machines is more than superficial.

    "Furthermore, the point is that unless IDists can identify who (or a couple of options, like humans or cave bears), they have no rational criteria for discussing how those "smooth circles" appeared in that bone. Mechanisms (drilling or puncturing) require knowledge, or at least some assumptions, about who."

    In general, can natural forces produce smooth circles in hard substances like bone? Probably not.

    As for assumptions about the designer, Mike Gene makes a few. IMO, I would say we would tend to mimic the Designer/God in creating and designing things. It is very evident that God uses more imaginative materials than we do.

    "And BTW, the most recent consensus re the Neanderthal flute is that it is the result of bear bites, completely accidental."

    And you'll note I did rank the Design Matrix score rather low. If I had time to look at the surrounding evidence, the score may have been lower, perhaps into the negative.

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  16. Freelurker, I previously mentioned in one of the comment threads that design is NOT a mechanism, but rather than design makes use of mechanisms. The chain of causes can only be formed by having an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of these mechanisms. Therefore, for a serious IDist, forming a chain of causes is relevant and essential.

    Let me propose that in trying to form the causal chain that weak links can be identified. IDists of all colours tend to focus on what they tend to see as a weak link.

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  17. jjs:
    As for assumptions about the designer, Mike Gene makes a few. IMO, I would say we would tend to mimic the Designer/God in creating and designing things. It is very evident that God uses more imaginative materials than we do.


    Okay, you've made your choice. The designer thinks like us.

    Please explain, from this perspective, the anatomy of the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe. A designer thinking like a human would never approve such a design, looping nearly 15 feet from the brain, around the aorta, and back up into the base of the larynx. Evolutionary theory and common descent can easily explain it.

    Why did the designer do it that way?

    BTW, there are literally thousands of examples like this, where evolutionary theory and constraints provide a ready explanation for what seems to be a very irrational design. ID, of whatever flavor, needs to provide explanations at least as adequate to be considered a serious contender.

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  18. JJS: "The sound of it rupturing was quite loud. If a 2cm dia. piece of steel can make a loud bang, imagine a large steel beam coming crashing down!"

    You can't have it both ways, JJS. The NIST justifies ignoring the possibility of controlled demolition, because there was no sound of an explosion. You say that a large steel beam crashing down can sound just like an explosion. Either there was a sound of an explosion, or there wasn't. If there was, then the NIST's justification for ignoring a controlled demolition no longer exists.

    "30-40 workers would have been noticed, even in New York"

    My point was that 10 workers could have done the work of 30-40 workers in 24 to 32 hours -- an extended weekend or three or four nights. And if they were doing supposedly doing "remodeling" or "repair" work, who would notice? A complete investigation would have looked to see if there was any such "work" going on prior to 9/11. It would also look to see if security or maintenance personnel had received extra days off.

    "(I find it interesting you bring this up. Are you suggesting WTC7 was in Osama Bin Ladin's plan for 9/11 as well?)"

    I'm suggesting that Bin Ladin's plan was already known, and taken advantage of, and perhaps aided, probably by the Bush/Cheney administration.

    The analogy, IMHO, is superficial at best. (-2)

    (-2)??? Are you kidding? It supposedly "fooled" a controlled demolitions expert; people were told in advance that #7 was being brought down; the media announced ahead of time that #7 had collapsed, when it hadn't; we have a recording of an explosion; we have witnesses of the sound of an explosion; and all you're willing to give it is a -2? Give me a break, JJS.

    Discontinuity: your main objection would appear to be NIST's objectivity. Seeing as how the NIST (a government organisation) and the ASCE (a non-government organisation) came to similar conclusions regarding the collapse of WTC1 and 2, I think NIST's reputation is safe. (-4)

    One of my points is that NIST was not an independent investigator. Did ASCE investigate #7? What, if any, were their reasons for rejecting a controlled demolition of #1 and #2?

    My other reasons for Discontinuity, which you do not deal with: The collapse of #7 would be the only time in history that a steel building collapsed from fire. NIST provided no evidence that there was a hot enough fire, burning long enough at the needed strategic points in order to bring #7 down. All we have is a computer model, saying that if there had been such a fire, it could have happened. But all the fires we know of in #7 were short-term office fires.

    And now Anonymous has provided an additional reason: The computer model of the collapse doesn't simulate the actual collapse. I can't find the simulation. I'd like to see it.

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  19. So far, I've only covered Analogy and Discontinuity. Next is

    Rationality. And here we have two questions: Assuming that it was a controlled demolition, was it performed well? Secondly, why would anyone want to demolish #7? And should we consider this second question under Rationality or Foresight?

    As to the first question, it certainly looks like any other controlled demolition. It fell straight down, causing no damage to neighboring structures. Danny Jowenko said it looked like it had been done by professionals. So, yes, the demolition was well performed.

    As to the second question, what would be the point of demolishing #7. To be honest, I haven't investigated this question. Was there additional insurance money that could be collected? Was it to destroy crucial records that the SEC had stored there, that would have resulted in criminal prosecution of large corporations? Was it to, as the History Channel suggested, because if you're going to rebuild the WTC, the first place to start is #7? Were there other secrets in #7 that needed to be destroyed?

    If we only consider the first question, the Rationality score might be at least a +4.

    If we consider the second question, then we would need to lower our score, until we know more about the WHY, and make Rationality a tentative +2.

    Foresight. If we move the WHY questions to this category, we also have to consider unforeseen consequences of demolishing #7. I don't know if youtube existed in 2001. I don't know if the demolishers knew that extensive video footage of the collapse of #7 would be available for all to see, almost anytime they wanted to see it. #7 is the "smoking gun" of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. The ability for anyone to see it is a major disadvantage, if there was a conspiracy. Had they known that it would be available on youtube, would they have demolished #7 anyway? My guess is probably not. Even having the NIST try to whitewash it, this can still come back to haunt them.

    Foresight: -3.

    Total average score for design: +2, if we move the WHY questions to Foresight. +1.75 if we don't. That score can move up or down, depending upon the more investigation that is done.

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  20. I asked: "But you can't apply that first step to the "incredibly complex cellular machinery", can you?"

    Just for clarity, the first step was "1. Analogy - looks similar to a flute made by modern humans."

    jjs responded with a link to a cartoon video, and Sure I can. As Mike Gene has described in The Design Matrix, the analogy between molecular structures and machines is more than superficial.

    Ummm, you do understand that the video to which you linked is the product of a human mind? And that the structures idealized in that video are similar to those made by humans because that is the best way for humans to visualize them? And that the actual structures look very little like the things that humans design?

    This "analogy" is not evidence of anything other than the fact that human minds can design things and human minds can interpret other non-designed things as being similar to human-designed things.

    Nonetheless, moving from the subcellular to the anatomical level, if you think that human minds and designer minds think alike, I'd still be interested in your rationalization about the anatomy of the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe. You don't need an idealized fantasy cartoon to help you visualize this; it's a substantial structure that looks pretty poorly designed from a human standpoint. Yet there is a solid evolutionary explanation for it...

    Since Bilbo is clearly on the side of the conspiracy cultists here, does that give you pause about the rest of his positions? Are they as well supported as this conspiracy theory?

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  21. Dave: "Since Bilbo is clearly on the side of the conspiracy cultists here, does that give you pause about the rest of his positions? Are they as well supported as this conspiracy theory?"

    Though I wouldn't call my self a "cultist," I do buy Dave's argument. Suspicion of design is something that can be raised about many things. I like Mike Gene's method of evaluating our suspicions, though. If you noticed, Dave, even though I'm a conspiracy "cultist," once I subjected my suspicions to Mike's criteria, I only got a +2 at best. That's not a very score for suspecting design (on a scale of 0 for no suspicion of design to +5 for the highest level of suspicion).

    And what Mike's method does is point out areas for further research, to either strengthen or weaken our suspicions. And if you read my arguments here, I showed where further research could do this.

    I did this in our previous discussion, also.

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  22. oops...it should read "...not a very high score...."

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  23. But since we're on the subject of a 9/11 conspiracy, this is a good place for a "cultist" to spout off:

    1. All of us already agree that there was some sort of conspiracy, unless we think that one person carried out all of the events of 9/11.

    2. So the question is, who was involved in the conspiracy?

    3. Background information #1: Operation Northwoods. In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the guys who run the Pentagon), came up with a plan to invade Cuba: We would stage some terrorist activities, blame it on Castro, and use it as an excuse to invade Cuba. Unfortunately (notice the sarcasm), that leftist, pinko, Democrat, JFK, was president at the time, so the plan got nixed, and the head of the Pentagon got shipped off to NATO. (Imagine, if Nixon had been president, what would have happened).

    2. Background information #2: A bunch of neo-cons write a paper in the 1990s and send it to Clinton, saying that it is imperative that we invade Iraq and take out Hussein. They say that it would take a "Peal Harbor" event to justify such an invasion. (Imagine if only Bush was president at the time).

    3. Oh yeah, then Bush becomes president in January of 2001, and the "Pearl Harbor" event happens 9 months later.

    4. Even though there's no connection between 9/11 and Iraq, it becomes our excuse for invading Iraq and taking out Hussein.

    5. The rest is history:

    6. Some of that history: The Pentagon's budget goes WAY up (cha-ching). Oil prices go WAY up (double cha-ching for Oil people, such as Bush, Cheney, Rice -- did you know there was an oil tanker named after her?) Bush is considered a great war-time president, and Republicans take control of Congress in 2002.

    So I see plenty of motive here for the Bush/Cheney administration wanting to make sure 9/11 happened. But I'm just a "cultist." It couldn't possible be true. Could it?

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  24. Bilbo

    Looks to me that the amount of actual evidence that supports the conspiracy theory is fairly small. Lots of speculation, lots of coincidences, lots of suspicions, lots of words, but very little in the way of actual evidence. Sort of like ID, don't you agree?

    Anyway, I'm not at all interested in WTC conspiracy theories. I'm fairly interested in getting rid of the Bush/Cheney cabal and the fear-mongering that they used after 9/11, and I don't see that blathering about conspiracies is going to get us too far down that road.

    I am much more interested in getting an answer to my question, so far ignored by all here. I'll try again.

    If your assumptions include that the designer thinks like us (or vice versa), what is the design explanation for the structure known as the recurrent laryngeal nerve in the giraffe? Is there a design explanation that is consistent with that assumption about the designer? Is there a design explanation that comes close to the quite simple explanation afforded by evolutionary theory? If there is no design explanation that is consistent with that assumption, are you willing to abandon the assumption?

    Thanks in advance.

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  25. jjs,

    I think that you and I have been talking past each other on this thread, so I am going to try again, starting from the beginning.

    From your original post:
    A chain of probable causes was discovered and laid out in detail by the NIST investigative team. The bottom line: the evidence did NOT point towards controlled demolition.

    I think that you and I would agree that finding chains of probable causes is the core activity of forensic engineering.

    Then you write:
    This parallels the situation of ID: how can we determine if design is a legitimate explanation?.

    Actually, the NIST investigation serves as a very good example of how engineering is unlike ID. First, the scope of the team's task was larger than the question "Was the collapse purposeful?"; their task was to find out why the collapse happened. Second, the NIST team knew how to look for and select an explanation; they set out to identify a chain of probable causes. (An intelligent agent could certainly be one of those causes.) This is very different from the general problem that IDists have set up for themselves. IDists are trying to determine how they can say that they have "detected design" but without having to provide a causal chain that includes the actions of the purported designer.

    From your first comment:
    But the way I see it, a probable chain of causes is still something of interest from a design perspective. The mechanisms need to be understood to come up with a valid and reasonable explanation.

    OK, you are interested in the story of what happened, but that's not what you are ultimately after; you want to know whether or not you can give credit to an Intelligent Designer, even if his actions are not in the story. (I'm surmising that the "explanation" you referred to above is a design inference.)

    Freelurker, I previously mentioned in one of the comment threads that design is NOT a mechanism, but rather than design makes use of mechanisms.

    Of course; that's standard ID doctrine. Like Dembski says, "ID is not a mechanistic theory." It's another way of saying "I don't have to tell you what the designer caused!"

    The chain of causes can only be formed by having an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of these mechanisms. Therefore, for a serious IDist, forming a chain of causes is relevant and essential.

    I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

    Let me propose that in trying to form the causal chain that weak links can be identified. IDists of all colours tend to focus on what they tend to see as a weak link.

    Anyone who wants a credible explanation will focus on weak links in proposed causal chains. We don't have to wonder why IDists won't say what the Designer did in the history of life.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dave: "Anyway, I'm not at all interested in WTC conspiracy theories."

    But that's what this thread is about.

    "I am much more interested in getting an answer to my question, so far ignored by all here. I'll try again.

    If your assumptions include that the designer thinks like us (or vice versa), what is the design explanation for the structure known as the recurrent laryngeal nerve in the giraffe?"


    Not sure, but I would guess Darwinian evolution probably had a lot to do with it. If you took my advice, you would be reading Mike Gene's book by now and realize that his hypothesis does not demand that everything in living organisms be intelligently designed.

    Now could we stick the topic of this thread.

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  27. Freelurker: "Actually, the NIST investigation serves as a very good example of how engineering is unlike ID."

    I disagree. I think the NIST began by asking, "How can we explain the collapse of WTC #7 without having to use an intelligent design explanation. Then once they eliminated an ID explanation (by assumption), they found the next "probable" explanation: fire. I looked at the computer simulation they offer. It only shows some of the girders collapsing. It doesn't show how the building would have collapsed all at once, straight down. I suggest that not only have they offered a very improbable explanation, but they have offered an explanation that does not fit the actual event.

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  28. Dave: "Looks to me that the amount of actual evidence that supports the conspiracy theory is fairly small. Lots of speculation, lots of coincidences, lots of suspicions, lots of words, but very little in the way of actual evidence."

    There's enough evidence to support an actual independent, fully-funded investigation, which we haven't had so far.

    Sort of like ID, don't you agree?

    The problem ID has, and probably always will have, is that it is unable to determine WHO did the designing. So it may always be an incomplete investigation. However, the evidence may become so overwhelming for ID, that it will become undeniable, regardless of not knowing WHO did it -- as in the case of discovering a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch.

    In the case of 9/11, a proper investigation could reveal WHO did it, as well as HOW.

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  29. Bilbo

    My impression was that the topic of this thread was a tad more general than just the WTC. The last two sentences of the opening post - So let's open the floor for comments. The theme is "By purpose or by accident: how can we tell?"

    Using ID-level thinking gets us nowhere other than more hand-waving and more speculation and more words. That's why the example of the flute is pedagogically useful here; that's why I introduced it in my first comment. That led to the owner of this blog introducing Mike/Julie's 4-point program. That led to me pointing out that step one of that program is useless in the ID world, unless you talk about WHO and HOW. Which led to the example of the giraffe design fiasco.

    So I think that this is on topic, even if you want to weasel out of discussions about why ID fails (again).

    Then you wrote: The problem ID has, and probably always will have, is that it is unable to determine WHO did the designing. So it may always be an incomplete investigation. However, the evidence may become so overwhelming for ID, that it will become undeniable, regardless of not knowing WHO did it -- as in the case of discovering a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch.

    The pocket watch is another interesting false analogy. It looks like something that a human designed, thus you can rationally conclude that it was designed by someone who thinks like a human, and uses tools similarly. A flagellum, an ATPase, or an etire cell really does NOT look like anything humans have designed. We make cartoons to squish those things into boxes that we recognize, but they have as much resemblance to a pocket-watch as GW Bush has to Abe Lincoln. In other words, not much.

    Projecting your cartoon images onto subcellular structures might work for the uninformed. But you can't do it with a large anatomical structure like the giraffe laryngeal nerve. Faced with that, you have to conclude that if a disembodied telic entity designed that, the entity's thought processes were most definitely NOT human-like.

    Finally - his hypothesis does not demand that everything in living organisms be intelligently designed. Sorry, I'm not gonna wade through another ID book just to find out which door the designer is hiding behind now. How does Mike/Julie distinguish between those things which must have been designed and those things that could have come about by evolution?

    Thanks

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  30. Dave, I'm restricting the rest of my comments on this thread to the collapse of the WTC buildings on 9/11. JJS is a structural engineer, so I'm interested in his take on this issue. Meanwhile, there is website of architects and engineers who do NOT accept the official government explanation of their collapse:

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    If you really think it's worth it, Dave, we can go back to our old thread and continue our discussion. I don't think we'll make anymore headway, but I'm willing to do that.

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  31. Bilbo

    You weren't making any headway on that other thread, so I can see why you'd want to avoid the topics again here.

    Don't worry. The questions won't go away. I'll leave you to your conspiracy theory now.

    Carry on.

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  32. Bilbo: I disagree. I think the NIST began by asking, "How can we explain the collapse of WTC #7 without having to use an intelligent design explanation.

    "Intelligent design explanation" is a contradiction in terms. Intelligent design methods infer purposefulness. Explanations describe how something came about.

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  33. Bilbo,

    I can see where the propositions that people planted bombs or started fires in WTC7 could, strictly speaking, be called intelligent design explanations of the collapse. They are candidate explanations because they attempt to describe how the collapse of the building came about. They include "intelligent design" because they include purposeful actions by people. (I don't think that any of that happened, but that's beside the point here.)

    But I don't think that it is a good idea to use intelligent design terminology here, because it is too easy to conflate your WTC7 arguments with the types of arguments used in biological and cosmological ID. In those areas, IDists will accept merely a design inference as an explanation. Further, they refuse to characterize the designer or to propose what actions the designer took.

    It was ID's biological and cosmological argumentation that I was contrasting with engineering.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Freelurker: "I can see where the propositions that people planted bombs or started fires in WTC7 could, strictly speaking, be called intelligent design explanations of the collapse. They are candidate explanations because they attempt to describe how the collapse of the building came about. They include "intelligent design" because they include purposeful actions by people."

    Exactly. And I think we can apply Mike Gene's Design Matrix to help us determine how likely the collapse of WTC #7 was intelligently designed. I came up with an overall score of +2, which isn't strong enough to conclude intelligent design, but is certainly strong enought to justify an fully independent, fully funded investigation.

    Right now there are 485 architects and engineers at

    www.ae911truth.org

    who are demanding just such an investigation.

    As to shortcomings of ID in the areas of cosmology or biology, I'm willing to discuss that on another thread.

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  35. Bilbo,

    It seems that you agree that, contrary to what the DI says, a design inference does not itself provide an intelligent design explanation.

    You want to use a design inference to motivate an investigation that you believe would produce an intelligent design explanation. Such an explanation would be a sequence of events that would include deliberate acts of intelligent agents (people.)

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  36. Freelurker: "You want to use a design inference to motivate an investigation that you believe would produce an intelligent design explanation. Such an explanation would be a sequence of events that would include deliberate acts of intelligent agents (people.)"

    Well, let's look at the challenge that 9/11 conspiracy theorists have to overcome: Most people think that it is inherently unlikely that the conspiracy involved more than Al-Qaeda. So any evidence suggesting that more than the plane crashes was necessary to bring down the WTC towers will be viewed skeptically. Any explanation that suggests that the plane crashes were sufficient to cause the towers to collapse (and fire was sufficient to cause the collapse of #7) will be viewed favorably.

    So even though there are now 486 architects and engineers who reject the explanations of plane crashes and fires as being sufficient, they will be ignored, unless they have strong evidence of WHO did and HOW they did it.

    We now have evidence of Thermite in the dust from the WTCs. And we have evidence of molten metal from the steel beams in the WTCs. The temperature from burning jet fuel or office fires is insufficent to melt steel. Thermite is sufficient to melt steel. So it looks likely that Thermite was used to demolish the buildings.

    But HOW was Thermite placed in the buildings? And WHO would have done it? Unless the architects and engineers offer an answer, they will be ignored. And how do they go about offering an answer, without an investigation?

    So the scientific evidence points to controlled demolition. However, this is apparently doesn't mean that we are allowed to conclude that it was controlled demolition.

    If determining the intelligent design of controlled demolitions of the WTC towers can't be done by "scientific" means alone, how in the world could determining the intelligent design of life be done by scientific means alone?

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  37. Listening to an interview of ae911truth.org founder, Richard Gage, I noticed he mentioned Lynn Margulis as a doubter of the official story. Margulis is only a biologist, but certainly no friend of ID, recently said this:

    "The 9/11 tragedy is the most successful and most perverse publicity stunt in the history of public relations. I arrive at this conclusion largely as the result of the research and clear writing by David Ray Griffin in his fabulous books about 9/11...It is clear to me that David Ray Griffin and his fellow critics are correct: the 9/11 'new Pearl Harbor' was planned in astonishing detail and carried out through the efforts of a sophisticated and large network of operatives. It was more complex and far more successful than the Allende assassination, the US bombing of our own ship the 'Maine' that began the Spanish-American war (and brought us Guam, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines), the Reichstag fire that was used to justify the suspension of most civil liberties in Germany in the 1930's, and even Operation Himmler, which was used by Germany to justify the invasion of Poland, which started World War II.

    Whoever is responsible for bringing to grizzly fruition this new false-flag operation, which has been used to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as unprecedented assaults on research, education, and civil liberties, must be perversely proud of their efficient handiwork...I suggest that those of us aware and concerned demand that the glaringly erroneous official account of 9/11 be dismissed as a fraud and a new, thorough, and impartial investigation be undertaken."

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  38. Is the application of ID to historical events a new idea?

    I don't think that I've run into it before - just biological ID and cosmological ID.

    Would you call it "historical ID?"

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  39. Freelurker: "Is the application of ID to historical events a new idea?

    I don't think that I've run into it before - just biological ID and cosmological ID.

    Would you call it 'historical ID?'"


    There are inference processes we go through when we try to determine if something is the result of intelligent, purposeful causes, or not. ID is the application of those processes to cosmology and biology.

    The big drawback for ID is that it may come up with what look like strong inferences for intelligent, purposeful causes, but not have any independent, empirical evidence of who could have caused those purposeful causes.
    In which case, could the evidence ever be strong enough to warrant an inference for ID?

    I've suggested a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch as an example that would warrant an inference to ID. Dave has (correctly, I think) pointed out that the evidence a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch would exhibit for intelligent design is much stronger than the evidence we have for intelligent design of the universe or of life. Nevertheless, we would still be stuck with no causal chain from the 3.5 billion year old pocket watch to a designer. According to your criteria, an inference to intelligent design would be illegitimate.

    I think the 9/11 conspiracy theorists (of which I am one) are in a similar, though not nearly as bad a quandary. If it's true that we have good evidence of thermite and of molten steel at the WTC sites, then this (combined with other physical evidence -- such as no steel framed building ever collapsing from fire) would seem to make for compelling evidence for the intelligent design of the collapse of the WTC buildings, or what we would call controlled demolitions. Nevertheless, the conspiracy theorists have little or weak evidence proving a causal chain from the controlled demolition to someone, nor do they have good evidence of how it would have been done.

    Of course, in the 9/11 case, this might be rectified, by a proper investigation, with subpoena power. But what if such an investigation is still unable to reveal who did it, or how they did it? Does that mean it is unreasonable to conclude that the towers were brought down by controlled demolitions?

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  40. Bilbo wrote: Dave has (correctly, I think) pointed out that the evidence a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch would exhibit for intelligent design is much stronger than the evidence we have for intelligent design of the universe or of life.

    Well, no. Here's what I really wrote:

    The pocket watch is another interesting false analogy. It looks like something that a human designed, thus you can rationally conclude that it was designed by someone who thinks like a human, and uses tools similarly. A flagellum, an ATPase, or an etire cell really does NOT look like anything humans have designed. We make cartoons to squish those things into boxes that we recognize, but they have as much resemblance to a pocket-watch as GW Bush has to Abe Lincoln. In other words, not much.

    Projecting your cartoon images onto subcellular structures might work for the uninformed. But you can't do it with a large anatomical structure like the giraffe laryngeal nerve. Faced with that, you have to conclude that if a disembodied telic entity designed that, the entity's thought processes were most definitely NOT human-like.


    In case that's still not clear, here's what I meant. Human designs and human intentions can be studied. The designs and intentions of disembodied telic entities are inscrutable, and any analogy of those to human design and intentions is misleading. Evidence for human design is strong; evidence for non-human intelligent design is non-existent. So is that evidence for human design "stronger"? Yeah, but only because it is greater than zero!

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  41. Bilbo wrote: According to your criteria, an inference to intelligent design would be illegitimate.

    I've never given any criteria by which the legitimacy of a design inference should be judged. That would have been beside the point that I've been trying to make.

    I've been trying to point out one of the significant differences between ID and engineering. It's the difference between what engineers would call an explanation and what IDists would call an explanation. I've been responding to JJS's comment "This parallels the situation of ID: how can we determine if design is a legitimate explanation?"

    The engineers on the NIST team were not trying to infer or to dis-infer design. They were trying to explain the collapse. That was their job, as engineers. They did that by building a causal chain. (You don't think that the NIST gave enough consideration to certain possible causes, but that is beside the point here.) To an engineer, the causal chain is the explanation. That's because engineering analysis, like science, asks the question "What happens (or happened.)"

    The Discovery Institute says; "The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." But ID doesn't give any causal chains. To IDists, a design inference itself suffices as an explanation. And that is perfectly understandable because a design inference addresses the only question that ID is asking, which is "Can we credit these events to an intelligent designer?"

    I think the 9/11 conspiracy theorists (of which I am one) are in a similar, though not nearly as bad a quandary.

    Your position is very unlike the ID position. You are not asking people to accept an ID-style design inference as an explanation of the collapse. You are even proposing a rough causal chain; you are saying that some identified people planted bombs or started fires near the columns that collapsed. Neither have you refused to characterize the intelligent cause; you seem to have eliminated a wrathful god and space aliens.

    Of course, in the 9/11 case, this might be rectified, by a proper investigation, with subpoena power. But what if such an investigation is still unable to reveal who did it, or how they did it? Does that mean it is unreasonable to conclude that the towers were brought down by controlled demolitions?

    I think you meant to ask "Does that mean it would be unreasonable ..."

    You already have way more than an ID-style design inference, so whatever the conclusion would be it would have nothing to do with ID.

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  42. Freelurker: "You are not asking people to accept an ID-style design inference as an explanation of the collapse. You are even proposing a rough causal chain; you are saying that some identified people planted bombs or started fires near the columns that collapsed. Neither have you refused to characterize the intelligent cause; you seem to have eliminated a wrathful god and space aliens."

    Yes, but now suppose that we conduct a rather exhaustive investigation, in which we are able (somehow), to eliminate all human beings alive at the time of 9/11 as possible suspects of the supposed controlled demolitions of the building. Would we then reject controlled demolitions as an explanation, or would we leave it open for wrathful gods or space aliens?

    I suggest that if the forensic evidence of controlled demolitions is strong enough, wrathful gods or space aliens become fair game.

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  43. Dave: "In case that's still not clear, here's what I meant. Human designs and human intentions can be studied. The designs and intentions of disembodied telic entities are inscrutable, and any analogy of those to human design and intentions is misleading. Evidence for human design is strong; evidence for non-human intelligent design is non-existent. So is that evidence for human design "stronger"? Yeah, but only because it is greater than zero!"

    Dave, if we have a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, does that entail that it was designed by a human or non-human?

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  44. I noticed ae911truth.org is up to 495 architects and engineers. Somebody's impressed with their evidence.

    But discussing 9/11 is very depressing. I need a new topic to cheer me up.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Dave,

    I'm enjoying your comments here at EE and I am learning a lot from them. Good to hear from a gen-u-ine scientist.

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  46. Bilbo asks: Dave, if we have a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, does that entail that it was designed by a human or non-human?

    Beats me, you are the design guru.

    All I know is that if it really is 3.5 billion years old, it blows your Bronze Age creation myth out of the water...

    Freelurker - thanks for the kind words. I've also always appreciated your insights, both here and elsewhere.

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  47. Bilbo asks: Dave, if we have a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, does that entail that it was designed by a human or non-human?

    Dave responds: "Beats me, you are the design guru."

    The design guru asks: Is it reasonable to infer that the 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was intelligently designed?

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hmmm...that didn't copy right. I'll have to work on my computer skills. If anyone's interested, go to

    ae911truth.org

    then go to Evidence, then go to Transcripts.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Bilbo writes: The design guru asks: Is it reasonable to infer that the 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was intelligently designed?

    Design gurus apparently like to continually talk about the hypothetical. Scientists like to talk about the actual, and do experiments to test the hypothetical.

    When you find a 3.5 billion yr old wristwatch, I'd be happy to talk about what it means, and even more happy to figure out some experiments to figure out WHO, HOW, WHEN, WHERE and WHY. Until then, I think it is pointless to talk about it. Your mileage may differ, of course.

    So please, go ahead and infer whatever suits you about this hypothetical find. You can infer it was made by humans, by gods, by dolphins, or by aliens from the chronosynplastic infundibulum, for all I care. It's still just talking, about things that you will never test in any meaningful way.

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  50. "When you find a 3.5 billion yr old wristwatch, I'd be happy to talk about what it means, and even more happy to figure out some experiments to figure out WHO, HOW, WHEN, WHERE and WHY."

    Assuming we find such a watch, what sort of experiments would you do to figure out WHO, HOW, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY?

    "So please, go ahead and infer whatever suits you about this hypothetical find. You can infer it was made by humans, by gods, by dolphins, or by aliens from the chronosynplastic infundibulum, for all I care."

    "Chronosynplastic infundibulum"? Did you make that up? I like it. When I'm sitting in the lotus position on my Himalayan mountain, and seekers come to ask me who or what designed that watch, can I use it?

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  51. From the ae911truth.org website:

    1. We offer to bring to the A/E firm our fascinating technical presentation on the "collapses" of the WTC high-rise buildings. (This ensures their presence. )

    2. We bring a good lunch and give the noon-hour presentation – sticking to the technical points.

    3. We usually get about 100% who agree with us that there are very serious questions about the official story.

    4. And we get about 90% who agree with us that the buildings were indeed brought down by controlled demolition.

    5. Of those, about 70 to 80% feel comfortable enough joining us by signing our petition "calling upon Congress for a truly independent investigation into the collapses". (That's all there is to joining AE911Truth.org!)


    They're claiming that 90% of the architects and engineers that they present their case to agree with them that the towers were brought down by controlled demolitions. That's a rather high success rate. If Behe had that sort of success rate, no doubt ID would be taken more seriously, by now.

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  52. Bilbo asked, hypothetically: Assuming we find such a watch, what sort of experiments would you do to figure out WHO, HOW, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY?

    Right off the top of my head, I can think of a few hypothetical approaches.

    Materials analysis - what is the watch made of, does it match materials that we are already aware of (metallurgy, chemistry, isotope analysis).

    Analysis of mechanisms used - tool marks or other telltale signs that allow us to infer the type of tool or the type of machining used.

    But I'm not an expert on hypothetical pocketwatches. You latter-day Paleyists will undoubtedly have a lot more ideas about how to deal with such a find. As long as you assiduously avoid the question of WHO.

    As for the chronosynplastic infundibulum, it is not original. I think I first heard it thirty some years ago in graduate school. But I don't remember the source, sorry.

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  53. Dave: "Right off the top of my head, I can think of a few hypothetical approaches.

    Materials analysis - what is the watch made of, does it match materials that we are already aware of (metallurgy, chemistry, isotope analysis).

    Analysis of mechanisms used - tool marks or other telltale signs that allow us to infer the type of tool or the type of machining used."


    Yeah, those are the sorts of ideas that came to me, also. Let's suppose two different scenarios:

    (1) Easily made metal alloy, with telltale signs of how it was made. I'm not sure how much isotop analysis could reveal. Could it tell us if the material was from the Earth, or had to be from some other source? If so, let's suppose it tells us the material was from Earth.

    (2) Although we can identify the elements in this metal alloy, we aren't sure how it was made, since the metallurgy seems to be beyond our present abilities. No telltale signs of how it was made. Isotope analysis reveals non-Earth source.

    As an amateur design guru, given scenario (1), I'm inclined to suspect a hoax; or if this is conclusively ruled out, time-travel. For (2) I'm inclined to suspect a space alien left it behind when visiting our planet 3.5 billion years ago.

    However, under either scenario I would be pretty confident that the watch had been designed by someone. Would you have serious doubts about that?

    But I'm not an expert on hypothetical pocketwatches. You latter-day Paleyists will undoubtedly have a lot more ideas about how to deal with such a find. As long as you assiduously avoid the question of WHO.

    As you can see, I don't have a lot more ideas than you. If it's a hoax, I would suspect the first person who found it, or one of their friends. And I would be willing to interrogate that space alien, as soon as we catch it.

    "As for the chronosynplastic infundibulum, it is not original. I think I first heard it thirty some years ago in graduate school. But I don't remember the source, sorry."

    Hmmm...30 years. Yes, a memorable term. The copyright may have expired by now. It might be okay for me to use it.

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  54. JJS,

    I don't know if you have been following any of the comments about ae911truth.org. I've read their response to the NIST report (under the "Evidence" heading). It seems pretty devastating to me. And I purchased and watched their DVD. That seems pretty impressive, also. But I know even less about structural engineering than I do about molecular biology.

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  55. Bilbo

    Those are wonderful peregrinations into the hypothetical. But you missed a key point a few comments back.

    From my perspective, it is almost perfectly useless to waste mental energy on hypothetical pocketwatches, and hypothetical metallurgy, etc. Furthermore, concluding, on the basis of these hypotheticals, that "it seems to be designed" is an additional waste of time, from the perspective of a biological scientist. That is a non-conclusion, in the absence of any information about WHO, HOW, etc.

    There are plenty of solvable mysteries in biology; we don't need to make them up and indulge in endless navel-gazing about hypotheticals.

    If you want to discuss a biologically relevant and non-hypothetical situation, you can always deign to discuss the example I brought up before, the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe. It's still waiting for a design-based explanation, but an evolutionarily-based explanation is easy to understand.

    Why do you want to discuss hypothetical pocketwatches when the world is full of actual objects that need explaining?

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  56. Bilbo, yes I am following this discussion when time allows, which lately has not been often.

    I need to look into your links more before I comment.

    Everyone else, as you were... ;)

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  57. Dave: "Why do you want to discuss hypothetical pocketwatches when the world is full of actual objects that need explaining?"

    I bring up the pocket watch because it is an extreme case of something that is obviously designed. Even if we found one that was 3.5 billion years old, we wouldn't be debating WHETHER it was designed. We would be debating WHO, HOW, WHEN, or WHERE, it was designed.

    IF living cells were as obviously designed, we wouldn't be debating WHETHER they were designed either, but asking WHO, HOW, WHEN, or WHERE, they were designed.

    So in order to make progress in the debate over whether or not cells were designed, we need to understand the difference between pocket watches and cells, and why we infer design for the first, but not necessarily for the second. And from the hypothetical example of a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, it seems that the differences have little to do with knowing WHO, HOW, WHEN, or WHERE they were designed. Or would you seriously doubt that the pocket watch was designed by someone, unless you had all that information?

    "If you want to discuss a biologically relevant and non-hypothetical situation, you can always deign to discuss the example I brought up before, the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe."

    If I knew more about it, I might. Feel free to fill me in on the details. As I said before, my guess is that Darwinian evolution had a lot to do with it. I would use Mike Gene's Design Matrix as a guide to evaluating whether or not it was designed. Had you bothered to read his book, you would know that his matrix scores pseudogenes as a -4; the PCP metabolic pathway as a -2; the vertebrate eye as 0; and the Genetic Code as a whopping (sarcasm) +3. So Mike's approach isn't to assume that every biological feature is intelligently designed. Neither is mine.

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  58. Good to know you're there, JJS. Another website that I recently found that has also impressed me is Scholars for 911 truth and justice. Their articles seem to be fairly well-balanced.

    http://stj911.org/

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  59. Okay, what am I doing wrong with the link thingy?

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  60. I see that ae911truth.org has claimed to have signed up 500 architects and engineers.

    I'm curious. How many architects and engineers must they sign up before they are taken seriously?

    If ID proponents could sign up 500 biologists, every ID website would be singing "Halleluia!"

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  61. Bilbo wrote: So in order to make progress in the debate over whether or not cells were designed, we need to understand the difference between pocket watches and cells, and why we infer design for the first, but not necessarily for the second.

    I think that the differences between hypothetical pocketwatches and real cells are fairly obvious to most of us. It is also fairly obvious that one of them clearly IS designed by creatures very similar to us, and the other is only deemed to be designed when you ignore questions about WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY, or when you construct cartoon versions of cellular processes/structures and pretend that these cartoons are the same as the real thing.

    I am also very impressed by this escape hatch - So Mike's approach isn't to assume that every biological feature is intelligently designed. Neither is mine.

    This is even better than the classical ID escape hatch of supernatural causation!

    Can you give me some guidance as to how and when you and Julie/Mike decide to accept evolution rather than ID? What objective parameters allow you to make this distinction (other than the obvious ones like "Ooops, evolution has a pretty good explanation for that crappy design.")? And can you please share these formulae with me without also telling me to read the book?

    Sounds like an updated version of the god-of-the-gaps argument to me...

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  62. Dave: "I think that the differences between hypothetical pocketwatches and real cells are fairly obvious to most of us."

    Instead of assuming that it is fairly obvious, why not do some real thinking here, Dave, so we can make progress in our discussion?

    "It is also fairly obvious that one of them clearly IS designed by creatures very similar to us, and the other is only deemed to be designed when you ignore questions about WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY,"

    Yes, but why is it fairly obvious that one of them IS designed by creatures similar to us? We can ignore questions about WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY, and it is still fairly obvious that the pocket watch was designed. But why is that?

    "Can you give me some guidance as to how and when you and Julie/Mike decide to accept evolution rather than ID? What objective parameters allow you to make this distinction (other than the obvious ones like "Ooops, evolution has a pretty good explanation for that crappy design.")? And can you please share these formulae with me without also telling me to read the book?"

    First, Mike Gene's personal hypothesis is that only the first cells were designed, and front-loaded with information, structures, and processes that would help guide and shape the Darwinian processes that followed.

    His criteria for evaluating whether or not something is designed revolves around four categories: Analogy, Discontinuity (from non-intelligent causes), Rationality, and Foresight. The more of each, the more confident we can be in our design inferences. The less, the more we doubt design.

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  63. ae911truth.org now claims 502 architects and engineers. If they get to a 1,000, would that be enough to be taken seriously?

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  64. Bilbo

    Re your call for "real thinking", I have made myself clear in previous posts. I reserve real thinking, on my part at least, to real objects. Hypothetical pocketwatches are, in case you hadn't noticed, not real.

    Let's try some real thinking here. You wrote: First, Mike Gene's personal hypothesis is that only the first cells were designed, and front-loaded with information, structures, and processes that would help guide and shape the Darwinian processes that followed.

    Front-loading is, at least theoretically, a testable hypothesis. What evidence can you provide for this hypothesis? I am aware of none.

    His criteria for evaluating whether or not something is designed revolves around four categories: Analogy, Discontinuity (from non-intelligent causes), Rationality, and Foresight. The more of each, the more confident we can be in our design inferences. The less, the more we doubt design.

    This really helps, thanks. But mostly it makes me even more confident that you have no intentions of ever testing any design "hypothesis" using these Four Horsemen. Since we don't have the first cells around us these days, how do you propose to apply these nebulous criteria to the only structures that you hypothesize to be designed? Is that why you'd rather talk about hypothetical pocketwatches?

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  65. Dave: "Re your call for "real thinking", I have made myself clear in previous posts. I reserve real thinking, on my part at least, to real objects. Hypothetical pocketwatches are, in case you hadn't noticed, not real."

    We use hypothetical situations (thought experiments) in order to help us understand actual situations. In this case, we are trying to understand why we know that a hypothetical pocket watch was obviously designed, even though it was 3.5 billion years old. Since you refuse to do any thinking, I'll do some for you: We would know, because we would score it very high on Analogy, Discontinuity, Rationality, and Foresight.

    "Front-loading is, at least theoretically, a testable hypothesis. What evidence can you provide for this hypothesis? I am aware of none."

    You mean I have to quote Mike's entire book to you, also? And his websites and blogs, too? You're not prepared to do any work on your own? No thank you. But I'll get you his website and blog info. You can take it from there.

    "Since we don't have the first cells around us these days, how do you propose to apply these nebulous criteria to the only structures that you hypothesize to be designed?"

    Good question. I assume that through comparison of gene sequences of bacteria that biologists are getting a good idea of what the original cells (or the last common ancestor cells) would have looked like.

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  66. Here are a couple:

    http://www.thedesignmatrix.com/content/

    idthink.net

    I guess he also has a face book page for the design matrix, whatever that is (I've never been to face book).

    You can also look up Mike's blogs at telicthoughts.com

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  67. 503 architects and engineers, now. I think I first found their website about two weeks ago, when they had 470. That means about 15 a week. At that rate, they should be a 1,000 in less than a year.

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  68. Bilbo - I understand the utility of thought experiments. But thought experiments that have no relationship to reality are, IMHO, pointless. Your mileage may vary...

    Re front-loading, Bilbo wrote: You mean I have to quote Mike's entire book to you, also? And his websites and blogs, too? You're not prepared to do any work on your own? No thank you. But I'll get you his website and blog info. You can take it from there.

    As noted in my previous comment, I am aware of no evidence for front-loading. I am fully aware of massive bloviations on ID blogs that purport to discuss evidence for front-loading. None of it is evidence for front-loading IMHO. Perhaps you can give me something that you consider to be evidence and try to convince me all over again.

    I asked "Since we don't have the first cells around us these days, how do you propose to apply these nebulous criteria to the only structures that you hypothesize to be designed?"

    Bilbo responded: Good question. I assume that through comparison of gene sequences of bacteria that biologists are getting a good idea of what the original cells (or the last common ancestor cells) would have looked like.

    That would be an incorrect assumption. They are getting a better idea of the relationships between early living organisms, but the exact nature (or genomic sequence) of those organisms will remain shrouded in mystery unless someone invents a time machine.

    Furthermore, the more I think about it, the more this version of ID becomes nothing more than another creation myth. God/the designer created the first things, and then evolution took over. Completely untestable, as far as I can tell.

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  69. Dave,

    If you've read Mike Gene's stuff, and you're not impressed, I doubt I can do much more.

    I've refrained from psychologizing you, up to this point, even though you have done that to me repeatedly. But my patience has run out.The pocket watch analogy is very revealing as to how we know things are designed. Your refusal to discuss it reveals that you know this and are afraid to answer.

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  70. ae911truth.org reports 504,now.

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  71. Bilbo bailed: If you've read Mike Gene's stuff, and you're not impressed, I doubt I can do much more.

    In other words, there is no good evidence for front-loading that you are aware of either. Thanks for playing...

    Even better: I've refrained from psychologizing you, up to this point, even though you have done that to me repeatedly. But my patience has run out.The pocket watch analogy is very revealing as to how we know things are designed. Your refusal to discuss it reveals that you know this and are afraid to answer.

    Bilbo, I know how to recognize things that humans design. Your pocketwatch is such a thing, and thus discussing it as if it had any importance in a discussion of things allegedly not designed by humans is completely bonkers. The whole point of ID is to identify design in nature, and particularly design in living things. Since even you admit that these things are not designed by humans, and not designed using materials or techniques that we have any understanding about, discussing pocketwatches is pointless in this context. It is not that I refuse to discuss it, it's rather that I don't understand how discussing hypothetical human-designed objects gets us one nanometer closer to understanding the alleged design parameters that characterize non-human design.

    If it makes you feel better, I will freely acknowledge that a hypothetical 2.5 billion-year-old pocketwatch was designed by humans.

    Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore.

    Thanks.

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  72. Sorry for not posting or commenting as work has really picked up lately. However, I have been able to follow this conversation.

    I do have one question for Dave. Have you read The Design Matrix?

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  73. jjs asked: I do have one question for Dave. Have you read The Design Matrix?

    Nope. But I have read Behe's books and Dembski's books (including the latest "textbook", "The Design of Life"), as well as "Explore Evolution", the other "textbook" from the ID movement, "Explore Evolution". And I do check out Telic Thoughts every once in a while, but the arrogant stoopid coming from Bradford and Joy makes that a less than pleasant experience.

    So I don't think I'm missing much of the ID bibliography. I understand that you and Bilbo think that DM is somehow different from standard ID, but going by what I read here and at TT, it seems to be just as untestable. To me, that is really all that matters.
    As long as we are comparing reading lists, have you (or Bilbo) read "The Making of the Fittest", or "Doubting Darwin" or "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" or "The Tragic Sense of Life" or "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion" or "Only a Theory"? I'd recommend all of those, if only to keep you from making bad assumptions about biology basics and evolutionary theory.

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  74. Dave: "If it makes you feel better, I will freely acknowledge that a hypothetical 2.5 billion-year-old pocketwatch was designed by humans."

    How do you know the hypothetical 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was designed by humans?

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  75. Bilbo: How do you know the hypothetical 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was designed by humans?

    Because gods don't need pocketwatches, or even pockets.

    Now you get to address my concern.

    Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore.

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  76. Sorry, Dave, I've been obsessing over 9/11 conspiracy theories over at telicthoughts.com

    You wrote: "Because gods don't need pocketwatches, or even pockets."

    Ah, an argument against Rationality, one of Mike's criteria for determining design. Glad to see you're admitting there's something to his Design Matrix. Of course, your argument assumes that the pocket watch was made by "gods," doesn't it? Any other reasons why you think it was made by humans?

    "Now you get to address my concern.

    Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore."


    We're getting there. Besides gods not needing pocket watches, why else would you think the 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was designed by humans?

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  77. Dave wrote:
    "Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore."

    Bilbo wrote:
    "We're getting there. Besides gods not needing pocket watches, why else would you think the 3.5 billion year old pocket watch was designed by humans?"

    This is a good example of the point I was making earlier. The scientist (like the engineer) asks "What happened?"" and the IDist asks "Can we credit this to an intelligent designer?

    That's why scientists and IDists are often talking past each other.

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  78. Bilbo

    I'm not a big fan of playing games. Either answer my question

    Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore.

    or admit that you never will.

    thanks

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  79. Freelurker: "This is a good example of the point I was making earlier. The scientist (like the engineer) asks "What happened?"" and the IDist asks "Can we credit this to an intelligent designer?"

    That's why scientists and IDists are often talking past each other."


    So we find a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, Free. How did it come into existence?

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  80. Dave: "I'm not a big fan of playing games. Either answer my question

    Now tell me how that gets us closer to understanding how a cell is made by your hypothetical non-human designer of yore.

    or admit that you never will."


    The cell was made by bio-nano-engineering. Or at least, that is a reasonable hypothesis.

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  81. Bilbo wrote: The cell was made by bio-nano-engineering. Or at least, that is a reasonable hypothesis.

    No, a reasonable hypothesis has to be testable.

    It constantly amazes me how ID advocates forget that simple requirement for a scientific hypothesis...

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  82. "So we find a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, Free. How did it come into existence?"

    The answer is quite simple. It's the one that most IDists tend to ignore. I think that it frightens them. It's the default answer in engineering and science. The answer is "We don't know."

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  83. Dave: "No, a reasonable hypothesis has to be testable."

    But it is testable.

    Free: "'We don't know.'"

    Would you consider it a reasonable hypothesis that the 3.5 byo (no, that's not "bring your own") pocket watch was designed by some sort of intelligent entity?

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  84. JJS, I know you're busy, but this thread was originally supposed to be about WTC7 and ID. I've been doing a lot of reading at ae911truth.org and at stj911.org.

    I've become convinced that not only was #7 destroyed by controlled demolition, but so were #1 and #2.

    We have sudden onset of collapse; we have total, symmetrical, vertical collapse, despite asymmetrical damage, and despite the fact that both #1 and #2 were designed to withstand crashes of a fully-loaded 707 (including all the burning fuel); we have near free-fall collapse, despite the resistance of the rest of the structures underneath; we have explosive energy that sends debris out horizontally farther than the force of a gravitational collapse can account for; we have dust clouds 10 times larger than be accounted for by gravitational force and the fires; we have accounts of large pools of melted steel underneath the collapses; we have surface temperatures above 1100 degrees at all three sites, five days later; we have thermite residues in the dust; we have FEMA reporting metal severely damaged by severe heat and sulfur (one of the additives to thermite to make it burn steel at lower temperatures); we have witnesses to explosions and flashes before the collapses; and we have no plausible accounts of how the buildings fell without controlled demolitions.

    As a structural engineer I think you owe it to yourself to look at the evidence.

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  85. Bilbo: Would you consider it a reasonable hypothesis that the 3.5 byo (no, that's not "bring your own") pocket watch was designed by some sort of intelligent entity?

    My best guess is that humans sent it back in time with a Time Machine.

    My second guess would be that it was put here by space aliens from Zombo. They can do anything on Zombo.

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  86. Bilbo asserts that this hypothesis

    The cell was made by bio-nano-engineering. Or at least, that is a reasonable hypothesis.

    is testable.

    Bilbo, I'd really like to hear about predictions that can be made and tested experimentally based on this hypothesis. But first you need to define the term "bio-nano-engineering".

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  87. Bilbo said:

    "JJS, I know you're busy..."

    Yep, sure am, but I still am following this thread.

    "I've become convinced that not only was #7 destroyed by controlled demolition, but so were #1 and #2."

    You might get me to look more into the causes of the WTC7 collapse, but the causes of the WTC1 & 2 collapses are well-documented and easily explained by simple physics and engineering principles. I hope to go through your points one-by-one to show this.

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  88. Free: "My best guess is that humans sent it back in time with a Time Machine.

    My second guess would be that it was put here by space aliens from Zombo. They can do anything on Zombo."


    I tried the Zombo link, but got impatient waiting for it to load up. I'll try again, next time. Meanwhile, both your guesses are more specific hypotheses of the general hypothesis that it was designed by someone. Are you saying that the general hypothesis that somebody designed the pocket watch is more reasonable than the general hypothesis that it came into existence without somebody designing it?

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  89. Dave: "Bilbo, I'd really like to hear about predictions that can be made and tested experimentally based on this hypothesis. But first you need to define the term 'bio-nano-engineering'."

    Nano-engineering: designing things at the molecular level.

    Bio-nano-engineering: designing features of living things at the molecular level.

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  90. JJS: "You might get me to look more into the causes of the WTC7 collapse, but the causes of the WTC1 & 2 collapses are well-documented and easily explained by simple physics and engineering principles. I hope to go through your points one-by-one to show this."

    Yes, I wish you would. So far I've what seem like fairly strong arguments that the collapses of #1 and #2 violate both physical and engineering principles.

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  91. Bilbo defined:

    Nano-engineering: designing things at the molecular level.

    Bio-nano-engineering: designing features of living things at the molecular level.


    Let's keep our eye on the hypothesis that Bilbo says is testable.

    The cell was made by bio-nano-engineering.

    With those definitions in mind, it seems pertinent to ask:

    What characteristics of "bio-nano-engineering" can be identified?

    In other words, what are the tools (and how do we know what these are)?

    What are the design parameters (and how do we know what these are)?

    What are the raw materials (and how do we know what these are)?

    I know that you can't be bothered to discuss the characteristics of the designer (or how you know what those are), but that would also be very useful information in this enterprise.

    Knowing these characteristics, what predictions can be made, and how do we proceed to do experiments or gather observations to allow us to test those predictions?

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  92. Bilbo: Meanwhile, both your guesses are more specific hypotheses of the general hypothesis that it was designed by someone. Are you saying that the general hypothesis that somebody designed the pocket watch is more reasonable than the general hypothesis that it came into existence without somebody designing it?

    No, I'm going with the humans and the Time Machine.

    There really aren't any Zombonians; that part was meant as a joke. I didn't anticipate that you would be willing to believe in them or that you would be willing to pretend that they exist. The next time you run a scenario like this you really need to put out something like a Dungeon Master's Guide to let players know what they can and cannot make up.

    This time you've been running things kind of loose. You've tolerated 3.5 billion year old watches, Gods with pockets who need pocketwatches, Time Machines, and Space aliens from Zombo.

    But I think that I've found a game-ending move. I cast magic missile at the 3.5 billion year old watch!

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  93. Hi Free, yeah I figured the Zombo thing was a joke. I was just frustrated that I couldn't see it. I'm running out of time, so I won't be able to see it today.

    But I must have been unclear. Do you think it is more reasonable to hypothesize that the watch was designed by someone, as opposed to the hypothesis that it wasn't designed by anyone?

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  94. Sorry Dave, I'm out of time. I'll try to get to it tomorrow, though I've been pursuing the collapse of the WTC towers at TT.

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  95. Alrighty then. I finally have some time to address this comment by Bilbo.

    1. "We have sudden onset of collapse;"

    It was by no means "sudden". The chain of events, summarised rather quickly, were 767 takes out some columns, explodes into huge fireball, explosion shock wave causes fireproofing around steel members to be obliterated, fire first consumes airline fuel (quickly) and then feeds off of very flammable office stuff, fire keeps burning, heat from fire causes weakening of steel (at temperature increases, stiffness decrease) which is important because trusses begin to deflect downwards, said deflection pulls outer columns inwards, in weakened condition, outer columns cannot take inward pull and rupture quickly, other columns cannot take added load, building collapses (OK, that wasn't so short).

    2. "we have total, symmetrical, vertical collapse, despite asymmetrical damage, and despite the fact that both #1 and #2 were designed to withstand crashes of a fully-loaded 707 (including all the burning fuel)"

    a. While the upper portions of WTC1 and 2 collapsed assymmetrically, the impact load of the above floors would cause and almost vertical collapse.
    b. Leslie Robertson, lead structural engineer of WTC1 and 2 said (and I paraphrase): if we had to design the buildings to withstand the burning of fuel, they would never would have been built.
    c. I believe that the planes were 767s and the buildings survived the collision quite nicely.

    3."we have explosive energy that sends debris out horizontally farther than the force of a gravitational collapse can account for"

    Assuming all energy must be converted into one form of energy or another and that all energy in a closed system is conserved, the 80+ storey buildings had immense potential energy stored up in them (summation of mgh where m is mass, g is gravitational acceleration and h is height; the summation comes in if we discretise each building by floors). It is not a surprise to me that debris was sent out horizontally at great distances. The potential energy, in this case, was converted into mechanical and heat energy. This should also answer this point of yours: "we have accounts of large pools of melted steel underneath the collapses; we have surface temperatures above 1100 degrees at all three sites"

    4. As for thermite, I don't know anything about it and need more time than I have to look into it.

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  96. Bilbo wrote: Sorry Dave, I'm out of time.

    No problem, I'm a patient person. Particularly if you can answer some questions I've had for a long time, regarding HOW your designer does stuff.

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  97. Bilbo: Do you think it is more reasonable to hypothesize that the watch was designed by someone, as opposed to the hypothesis that it wasn't designed by anyone?

    I must have been unclear as well. With the ready availability of time travel there is no reason to expect that the origin of your watch was different from any other watch. My Time Machine is just as real as your 3.5 billion year old watch. (But I suspect that both of them are more real to you than they are to me.)

    You made up something to support your point and I made up something to support mine. This illustrates why people came up with the scientific process. That process requires claims to be tested against reality using experimentation, and entertains only those claims that can be so tested. Few people claim that the process reveals Ultimate Truth, but many can see that it has provided very useful information.

    Speaking of your point, is your bit about the 3.5 million year old watch supposed to support the claim that an intelligent agent guided the history of life and the cosmos?

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  98. OK, it looks like this blog is available. First Freelurker:

    I guess I still haven't been clear. Let's create a dichotomy between the explanation of things, as either (1)intelligently designed, or (2)the result of non-intelligent processes.

    So under
    (1) Explanations that invoke intelligent design
    we could have
    (a) designed by humans
    (b) designed by space aliens
    (c) designed by supernatural beings
    (d) designed by extra-dimensional beings (as in latest Indiana Jones movie)
    (e) other or undecided

    Under
    (2) the result of non-intelligent processes
    we could have
    (a) Darwinian evolution
    (b) physical laws and chance
    (c) other or undecided

    Now you would guess that our hypothetical 3.5 byo pocket watch was designed by humans, who either sent it back in time, or took it back in time. So this explanation would fall under (1a) designed by humans, which falls under the more general category (1) explanations that invoke intelligent design.

    So my question is, does it seem more reasonable to you that our hypothetical pocket watch would probably have a (1) explanation, as opposed to a (2) explanation?

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  99. Oh, I forgot to answer your question, Free. No, I think that if we found a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch, assuming that there is no significant difference between it and the kind we have been known to make, and ruling out hoaxes, I would go along with your time-travelling hypothesis.

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  100. OK, Dave, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I'm really into researching this WTC thing. Where were we? Oh yeah, you asked a series of questions, but first I'll have to backtrack a bit, and talk about our pocket watch, since you refused to play my "game" anymore (spoil sport). I'm not sure what Free will answer, but I think type (1) explanations (invoking intelligent design) are more reasonable for the pocket watch than type (2) explanations (invoking non-intelligent processes).

    As justification, I would offer an explanation that uses the 4 categories that Mike Gene came up with:

    First, the object resembles objects that we design to a remarkable degree. We understand how it is made, and why it is made.
    Second, we don't know any non-intelligent process that can produce this kind of object. All imaginable scenarios seem extremely implausible.
    Third, it is well-made, with all of its parts being well-matched, serving a unified purpose.
    Fourth, it exhibits traits associated with foresight, such as durability, ability to re-energize, and the ability to take apart and repair it.

    That's the sort of justification I would give for believing that the pocket watch was intelligently designed. So what does this have to do with my claim that the cell was bio-nano-engineered (or should it be nano-bio-engineered?), and that it is testable?

    I'm afraid the sort of answers I'll give to your questions will conform to the sort of answers I gave for believing the pocket watch was designed. But let me try, and then you can point out all my shortcomings.


    "What characteristics of "bio-nano-engineering" can be identified?

    In other words, what are the tools (and how do we know what these are)?"


    First, we're obviously dealing with a new technology, that we are only beginning to develop. So the tools we use now, for the limited nano-engineering and bio-engineering that we do, may not be the tools we will use in the future. I know that biologists are able to make nucleic acids, amino acids, polysaccharides (sp?), and ... I forget what the cell membrane is made of. I believe that they are able to synthesize nucleotides and proteins. It seems reasonable that eventually they will be able to perfect these abilities and actually create cells (unless of course there is something "vitalistic" or "magical" about living cells, that we will forever be unable to duplicate).

    So what are the tools? Can we do this with the tools that we have, or will we have to develop new ones? I certainly don't know. Did whoever created the original cells use similar tools? If they were like us, then yes. If they were supernatural beings, or inter-dimensional beings (the Indiana Jones movie wasn't very good, but at least it gave me another option, besides gods and space aliens).

    "What are the design parameters (and how do we know what these are)?"

    I've been meaning to look up parameters in the dictionary for years.

    ?"What are the raw materials (and how do we know what these are)?"

    The same raw materials that we make nucleic acids, amino acids, polysaccharides, and ... whatever that fourth thing is, from. We know, because that's what cells are made of.

    "I know that you can't be bothered to discuss the characteristics of the designer (or how you know what those are), but that would also be very useful information in this enterprise."

    If by "characteristics" you mean "identity", then we have insufficient empirical evidence to discuss the characteristics of the designer, though my own hunch is that they are supernatural. If by characteristics, you mean what can we know about them, then we know they knew a lot about biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, nano-technology, etc.

    So how do we test my hypothesis? The same way we test the hypothesis that the 3.5 byo pocket watch was intelligently designed.

    Does it resemble our technology? To some degree, though obviously much more advanced. In additions to the simple biological materials that we can make, we also make things that resemble things in the cell -- complex machines and codes.

    Do we know of a non-intelligent process for making cells? No, and we've been looking for one for over 50 years. So far, all scenarios seems very implausible. Of course, this could change, so I'm not suggesting that those who want to continue looking should give up.

    Does it seem well-made? For the most part, yes, extremely well. For example, it can reproduce its DNA at 300-500 nucleotides per second, with about one mistake in every billion (or was it ten billion?) nucleotides. There are questions of how well it was made, that Dave and I have discussed before -- such as the 3 stop codons and the start codon that also codes for an amino acid. These and probably many other problems may cause us to doubt if the cell was intelligently designed. But just like I wouldn't tell origin of life researchers to give up, I wouldn't expect others to tell IDists to give up. Instead, let us see if we can come up with answers to these problems.

    Does the cell exhibit foresight? I think so. For example, just the fact that the DNA is composed of two strands, makes it look like it was designed with the idea of replication in mind. Detach the strands, and each acts as a template, and voila! We have two new cells. Mike Gene offers other ideas -- cytosine deamination, for example. But you can read his essays at idthink.net.

    Okay, go ahead, Dave, blast away. You waited patiently enough.

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  101. Thanks for getting back to me, JJS. It's late. I'll try to reply tomorrow.

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  102. Bilbo

    Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, despite all those words in your comment, as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, "there's no there, there." Lots of words; no answers.

    I won't waste space discussing all of your wasted space, but here are a couple of examples of your failure.

    I asked ..."what are the tools (and how do we know what these are)?"

    After a paragraph or so of muttering about how human biologists make biological macromolecules, which are merely components of cells and not the cells referred to in the question, you admit your failure with these words - I certainly don't know. Did whoever created the original cells use similar tools? If they were like us, then yes. If they were supernatural beings, or inter-dimensional beings (the Indiana Jones movie wasn't very good, but at least it gave me another option, besides gods and space aliens).

    If they were like us, did they use test tubes and protein synthesizers and chromatography to purify the products? Seems unlikely, and there is certainly no evidence for that uninspired notion? If they were not like us, you are at a loss (again).

    In other words, and in keeping with your historical inability to tell us how to detect any design that is not of human origin, you have no guidance for us in detecting this sort of "bio-nano-engineering" that you blithely suggest is the key to how cellular life originated. Thanks for nothing.

    You completely evade the question about design parameters. Don't bother to try again if your answer will be as feeble as the answer to the question about the tools.

    Finally, in regard to my question about characteristics of the designer and how you know about those characteristics, you move the goalposts. I didn't ask about the "identity" of the designer; I specifically used the word "characteristics". That is one thing that scientists learn early - use words properly and precisely. Too bad it isn't a general "characteristic" of the folks who just pretend that they can talk about science. So your initial perambulations about that question are another waste of space.

    At any rate, you then manage even to avoid any version of the question with a circular answer that the designer must know a lot about biochemistry, genetics, etc.

    I think we need more than the obvious here, but clearly you can't provide it. This is merely another example of how you can't tell us anything that makes your designer different from you. By going back to your example of the pocketwatch, you put an exclamation point on the problem. Let me state it for you, as clearly as I know how.

    You have no methods that will allow you, or anyone, to detect design that originated with non-human entities. Thus you, like all IDists before you, cannot generate a useful hypothesis or test it.

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  103. Dave: "You have no methods that will allow you, or anyone, to detect design that originated with non-human entities. Thus you, like all IDists before you, cannot generate a useful hypothesis or test it."

    As to tools, if the non-human entities are physical, like us, then it seems they would use the same sorts of tools that we do. If they are non-physical, such as supernatural beings, or perhaps inter-dimensional beings, then yes, I'm at a loss as to how they do anything. I believe in supernatural beings, but I'm at a loss as to how they do things. But I assume that supernatural beings, inter-dimensional beings, and physical, non-human beings, could have purposes and intentions, just as we do. And it looks like cells exhibit quite a number of features that look like they were made by someone who had certain purposes in mind.

    Clue me in on what you mean by "characteristics," since I'm missing the point.

    And I looked up "parameter", now I'm trying to understand what is meant by "design parameters." Could you help me out?

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  104. (Bilbo): 1. "We have sudden onset of collapse;"

    JJS: "It was by no means "sudden". The chain of events, summarised rather quickly, were 767 takes out some columns, explodes into huge fireball, explosion shock wave causes fireproofing around steel members to be obliterated, fire first consumes airline fuel (quickly) and then feeds off of very flammable office stuff, fire keeps burning, heat from fire causes weakening of steel (at temperature increases, stiffness decrease) which is important because trusses begin to deflect downwards, said deflection pulls outer columns inwards, in weakened condition, outer columns cannot take inward pull and rupture quickly, other columns cannot take added load, building collapses (OK, that wasn't so short)."

    I think what is meant by "sudden onset," is that the entire collapse begins simultaneously, instead of bit by bit. It would seem to require that at least all the core columns failed simultaneously. Meanwhile, the people at stj911.org, ae911truth.org, and 911research.com, all challenge how much fireproofing was knocked off; how many core columns were broken; how hot the steel got; how much the trusses sagged; how much the outer columns were pulled inwards.

    2. (Bilbo)"we have total, symmetrical, vertical collapse, despite asymmetrical damage, and despite the fact that both #1 and #2 were designed to withstand crashes of a fully-loaded 707 (including all the burning fuel)"

    JJS: "a. While the upper portions of WTC1 and 2 collapsed assymmetrically, the impact load of the above floors would cause and almost vertical collapse."

    Over at TT, I raised the question of the initiation of collapse of the South Tower. From video footage it is clear that the upper portion (above the crash site) of the South Tower begins collapsing by falling over. According to Richard Gage it reaches 22 degrees from vertical. But instead of continuing to fall over, it seems to disintegrate from the bottom of the top portion up, so that the center of gravity moves back towards the center of the building, keeping the top portion from falling over.

    "b. Leslie Robertson, lead structural engineer of WTC1 and 2 said (and I paraphrase): if we had to design the buildings to withstand the burning of fuel, they would never would have been built.
    c. I believe that the planes were 767s and the buildings survived the collision quite nicely."


    Skilling was the lead engineer of the WTCs. Robertson was just an assistant. Skilling went on record saying that he calculated for a fully-loaded 707 hitting the building at 600mph, and having all the fuel catch on fire and dump into the building. He said that there would be a terrible fire, but that the building would remain standing. The 767s hit the buildings at slower speed, making the momentum about the same as a 707 at 600mph.

    3."we have explosive energy that sends debris out horizontally farther than the force of a gravitational collapse can account for"

    Assuming all energy must be converted into one form of energy or another and that all energy in a closed system is conserved, the 80+ storey buildings had immense potential energy stored up in them (summation of mgh where m is mass, g is gravitational acceleration and h is height; the summation comes in if we discretise each building by floors). It is not a surprise to me that debris was sent out horizontally at great distances. The potential energy, in this case, was converted into mechanical and heat energy. This should also answer this point of yours: "we have accounts of large pools of melted steel underneath the collapses; we have surface temperatures above 1100 degrees at all three sites"

    I've been looking to see what the skeptics of the official theory have to say about gravity collapse melting the steel. I haven't found anything in writing. But basically, they would say that there was a limited amount of energy from the collapse, which couldn't do all of the following: force the building down, crush most of the cement, eject tons of debris, and melt the steel.

    4. As for thermite, I don't know anything about it and need more time than I have to look into it. When you have time, a good place would be to start with the video on Steven Jones and thermite that Anonymous posted up at the top of this Topic.

    Meanwhile, you overlooked an important one: near free-fall time. I know Bazant and Zhou wrote a paper explaining how that could happen (two days after 9/11 -- how much research went into that?). It's been challenged by other structural engineers, most notably Gordon Ross. When you have time, he has a paper arguing that the buildings wouldn't have collapsed at all, over at stj911.org. From an amateur's point of view, it's difficult for me to imagine that the top of a building (16 stories for the North Tower and 33 stories for the South), falling one story, could generate enough momentum to cause the bottom portions to collapse in near free-fall time. You mean there was little more resistance in the building than there would have been in a vacuum?

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  105. Bilbo wrote: As to tools, if the non-human entities are physical, like us, then it seems they would use the same sorts of tools that we do. If they are non-physical, such as supernatural beings, or perhaps inter-dimensional beings, then yes, I'm at a loss as to how they do anything. I believe in supernatural beings, but I'm at a loss as to how they do things. But I assume that supernatural beings, inter-dimensional beings, and physical, non-human beings, could have purposes and intentions, just as we do. And it looks like cells exhibit quite a number of features that look like they were made by someone who had certain purposes in mind.

    In other words, your ability to detect design, if that design originated with a non-human entity, is zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Detection of design is the entire purpose of the ID industry, and you admit that you don't know how to do that.

    As for the teleological argument at the subcellular level, you have been shown before that this is also wrong. The number of start codons and the number of stop codons make no teleological sense; if some aspect of the subcellular realm seems unsensible in the light of design, you can't ignore it and pretend that design is the answer.

    At the organismic level, there are lots of "designs" that simply make no sense (recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, for one). You wave that away by saying the evolution (which can explain this odd structure) kicked in later, but you can't tell us a single objective way to distinguish between designed and evolved structures. That's pretty convenient for you, but useless for science.

    Furthermore, there may be things about the subcellular organization that seem teleologically sensible to you (an admitted non-biologist), but you can't find objective evidence for "intent" in your designer any more than you can find "how" that designer worked. In fact "intent" is difficult to prove in a court of law when all the participants can be queried; it's a lot easier for the CSI folks to concentrate on "how". But you can't even query your designer; how will you ever get objective evidence for intent????

    As for your red-herring attempts to figure out the meaning of perfectly normal words like "characteristics" or "parameter", I won't follow that trail. It is a waste of time, and answers to those questions won't get you one step closer to understanding that your design fantasies will never be scientific.

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  106. Bilbo: Let's create a dichotomy between the explanation of things, as either (1)intelligently designed, or (2)the result of non-intelligent processes.

    As a practical matter, there is a third option, the one that IDists don't like. That option is (3) we don't know either way. That's the default explanation. Each of the other two need to be supported on their own.

    You are using an ID concept of an explanation. You think that it suffices to just put a tag on something that says either "designed" or "not designed." Scientists and engineers want to know about causation, they want to know what happened.

    Bilbo: "Now you would guess that our hypothetical 3.5 byo pocket watch was designed by humans, who either sent it back in time, or took it back in time. So this explanation would fall under (1a) designed by humans, which falls under the more general category (1) explanations that invoke intelligent design.

    So my question is, does it seem more reasonable to you that our hypothetical pocket watch would probably have a (1) explanation, as opposed to a (2) explanation?"


    I already said my best guess would be that it came from intelligent beings, specifically, humans. You can't use your false dichotomy to enable your spooky beings to ride the coattails of the humans. Back here in reality, who the heck wonders whether a watch might be made by non-humans such as space aliens, supernatural beings, extra-dimensional beings, Darwinian evolution, or "physical laws and chance?" Nobody does. So you would ask "But what if the watch was 3.5 billion years old?" The fundamental scientific response has to be: "Well what if monkeys flew out of my posterior?"

    You first introduced the watch with this statement:
    "However, the evidence may become so overwhelming for ID, that it will become undeniable, regardless of not knowing WHO did it -- as in the case of discovering a 3.5 billion year old pocket watch."

    Here is a summary of the responses I have made:
    1) Don't forget that there is no 3.5 billion year old watch. (Kinda like: "There is no spoon." in The Matrix.)
    2) It there was such a watch it would not mean that it was put here by gods or space aliens (or the next magical creature you come up with).
    3) If the watch was put here by spooky beings it would not mean that such beings guided the history of life or the cosmos. In other words, it would not support ID.

    I'm part of the way through Mike Gene's book The Design Matrix. From what I've seen, he presents the suspiciousness argument much better than any of his fans do. He is careful to limit the scope of his claims/arguments. For one thing, he consistently makes clear that he does not consider ID to be science. Accordingly, he is careful to use scientific terms like "hypothesis" appropriately. You should go back and read the book again.

    I'm going to cut back on my blogging to finish reading that book. He makes many references to engineering and I hope to someday come up with a review/commentary that is focused on that aspect.

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  107. Dave: "In other words, your ability to detect design, if that design originated with a non-human entity, is zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Detection of design is the entire purpose of the ID industry, and you admit that you don't know how to do that."

    I admit no such thing.

    "As for the teleological argument at the subcellular level, you have been shown before that this is also wrong. The number of start codons and the number of stop codons make no teleological sense; if some aspect of the subcellular realm seems unsensible in the light of design, you can't ignore it and pretend that design is the answer."

    I don't ignore it. In fact, I told you about the stop codons. But just as I think non-teleologists shouldn't be told to give up looking for a non-teleological origin of life, even though all roads look implausible; so I think teleologists shouldn't be told to give up because they encounter challenges such as multiple stop codons. But we shouldn't ignore these problems either. I think they offer places to test teleological views. If we continue to look, but can't find answers, it weakens our case. But if we find answers, it strengthens it.

    "At the organismic level, there are lots of "designs" that simply make no sense (recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, for one). You wave that away by saying the evolution (which can explain this odd structure) kicked in later, but you can't tell us a single objective way to distinguish between designed and evolved structures. That's pretty convenient for you, but useless for science."

    Mike Gene would agree with you that his criteria isn't objective. I think it's objective, just not easily quantifiable. Either way, there is a criteria to distinguish between designed and non-designed structures.

    Furthermore, there may be things about the subcellular organization that seem teleologically sensible to you (an admitted non-biologist), but you can't find objective evidence for "intent" in your designer any more than you can find "how" that designer worked. In fact "intent" is difficult to prove in a court of law when all the participants can be queried; it's a lot easier for the CSI folks to concentrate on "how". But you can't even query your designer; how will you ever get objective evidence for intent????"

    The same way we do in a court of law, by circumstancial evidence.

    "As for your red-herring attempts to figure out the meaning of perfectly normal words like "characteristics" or "parameter", I won't follow that trail. It is a waste of time, and answers to those questions won't get you one step closer to understanding that your design fantasies will never be scientific."

    Sorry, I was just trying to understand your questions about design parameters and characteristics. If you don't want to clarify your questions for mentally challenged people like me, so be it.

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  108. Freelurker: "I'm part of the way through Mike Gene's book The Design Matrix. From what I've seen, he presents the suspiciousness argument much better than any of his fans do. He is careful to limit the scope of his claims/arguments. For one thing, he consistently makes clear that he does not consider ID to be science. Accordingly, he is careful to use scientific terms like "hypothesis" appropriately. You should go back and read the book again."

    I'm on my third read. Yes, he's more consistent and careful than I am. And I recommend reading his book as opposed to discussing ID with me. I'm glad you're doing that. Maybe you could talk Dave into giving it a try, after you're done. I'll let you continue reading, instead of debating with me.

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  109. Bilbo, I've got a few moments to respond, so I apologise for the speed and incompleteness of it.

    1."I think what is meant by "sudden onset," is that the entire collapse begins simultaneously, instead of bit by bit. It would seem to require that at least all the core columns failed simultaneously. Meanwhile, the people at stj911.org, ae911truth.org, and 911research.com, all challenge how much fireproofing was knocked off; how many core columns were broken; how hot the steel got; how much the trusses sagged; how much the outer columns were pulled inwards."

    Fireproofing can be notoriously for not surviving a blast. I worked on a project where steel columns were fireproofed and yet an explosion effectively blew them away. Based on the shock wave and reverberations I expect within the building, I don't find it implausible that the fireproofing was blasted away.
    Also, once a column in a set fails, the loads are distributed to the remainder. Buckling of a column due to overload is effective a failure and buckling can occur quite quickly.
    The engineers are more than welcome to their opinion, but need evidence to back it up, and unless they had access to the debris, it's all speculation.

    2.b&c "Skilling was the lead engineer of the WTCs. Robertson was just an assistant. Skilling went on record saying that he calculated for a fully-loaded 707 hitting the building at 600mph, and having all the fuel catch on fire and dump into the building. He said that there would be a terrible fire, but that the building would remain standing. The 767s hit the buildings at slower speed, making the momentum about the same as a 707 at 600mph."

    First, the fuel would have burned up almost instantaneously. What fueled the fires at WTC1&2 were normal office supplies. And don't forget, the fire is affecting unprotected steel. Also, the buildings stood up to the aircraft impact. While part of the chain of events that led to the collapses, they were not the critical link.

    Hopefully more later

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  110. Bilbo answers (my words in bold): "In other words, your ability to detect design, if that design originated with a non-human entity, is zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Detection of design is the entire purpose of the ID industry, and you admit that you don't know how to do that."

    I admit no such thing.

    But you did. You said that if the designers were physical entities like us; they should use the same sorts of tools that we do. But you have consistently proven to be unable to tell us how to objectively detect signs of those tools or tool-wielders in living organisms. Objective evidence is not the same as suspicion; it has to be evidence that allows others BESIDES YOU to make solid inferences about the tools, the materials, or the tool-wielder.

    Then you said that you were "at a loss" to explain any of this if the tool-wielding entities were "non physical".

    In other words, whether the designer is human-like or non-human-like, you can't give us any way to detect design, whether you admit it or not.

    Then you weasel out of your obvious inability to detect "intent" by (again) resorting to another bogus human-based comparison, a court of law. Circumstantial (note the spelling) evidence requires us to have reasonable information about the identity and characteristics of the alleged perpetrator. You have been unable to define any characteristic of the perpetrator other than the circular argument that he/she/it must have "intended" these designs. Not good enough.

    When will you realize that all of your human-based analogies, from the pocketwatch to the courtroom, differ signficantly from any ID scenario? In all the human-based cases you can make hypotheses based on what you know about the human designer and the tools/materials used by such designers. You can't analogize this to a situation where we remain conveniently ignorant about the designer. It won't work. Try to understand that, please.

    And finally, responding to this back-handed remark of yours Sorry, I was just trying to understand your questions about design parameters and characteristics. If you don't want to clarify your questions for mentally challenged people like me, so be it. merely requires me to point to my original message. I didn't call you mentally challenged. I accused you of using red herrings to avoid answering another question. Quit putting words in my mouth, please.

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  111. Hi JJS,

    Jim Hoffman wrote a critique of NIST's WTC report here

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  112. Dave: "But you did. You said that if the designers were physical entities like us; they should use the same sorts of tools that we do. But you have consistently proven to be unable to tell us how to objectively detect signs of those tools or tool-wielders in living organisms."

    I admit that if tools were used to design the first cells, then it is unlikely that we could detect evidence of those tools, even if we could examine the very first cells under a microscope. I might be wrong, but I don't think we leave signs of tool use in our own micro-bio-engineering, do we? But this is different from admitting that there are no signs of design.

    "Then you weasel out of your obvious inability to detect "intent" by (again) resorting to another bogus human-based comparison, a court of law. Circumstantial (note the spelling) evidence requires us to have reasonable information about the identity and characteristics of the alleged perpetrator. You have been unable to define any characteristic of the perpetrator other than the circular argument that he/she/it must have "intended" these designs. Not good enough."

    Hence my admission that I don't think we have sufficient evidence to determine the identity of the designer. And hence my request that you tell me what you mean by "characteristics."

    "When will you realize that all of your human-based analogies, from the pocketwatch to the courtroom, differ signficantly from any ID scenario? In all the human-based cases you can make hypotheses based on what you know about the human designer and the tools/materials used by such designers. You can't analogize this to a situation where we remain conveniently ignorant about the designer. It won't work. Try to understand that, please."

    We know enough about the manufacturing of pocket watches, that if the 3.5 byo pocket watch is sufficiently similar to the ones we design, we can infer what kind of tools were used and what processes were used to design it. If the 3.5 byo watch is sufficiently different from ours -- different kind of alloy than we can manufactur, or different kind of energy cell than we can manufacture -- then we may not be able to determine what kind of tools were used, nor the processes used. However, I think there would still be sufficient evidence to reasonably believe that it was intelligently designed by someone. Likewise with designing a living cell. We are only at the initial steps of being able to do that -- designing proteins or RNA. However, I think there is sufficient evidence, based on what look like intentional properties -- codes and complex machinery -- to reasonably believe, or at least suspect, that the first cells were designed.

    "And finally, responding to this back-handed remark of yours Sorry, I was just trying to understand your questions about design parameters and characteristics. If you don't want to clarify your questions for mentally challenged people like me, so be it. merely requires me to point to my original message. I didn't call you mentally challenged. I accused you of using red herrings to avoid answering another question. Quit putting words in my mouth, please."

    I wasn't trying to put words into your mouth, Dave. I was trying to poke fun at myself. Afterall, if I can't even spell "circumstashal," how bright can I be?

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  113. From Hoffman's paper on the temperature of the steel columns:

    "The Report repeatedly makes claims that amazingly high fire temperatures were extant in the Towers, without any evidence. The Report itself contains evidence contradicting the claims.

    Observations of paint cracking due to thermal expansion. Of the more than 170 areas examined on 16 perimeter column panels, only three columns had evidence that the steel reached temperatures above 250 ºC: east face, floor 98, inner web; east face, floor 92, inner web; and north face, floor 98, floor truss connector. Only two core column specimens had sufficient paint remaining to make such an analysis, and their temperatures did not reach 250 ºC. ... Using metallographic analysis, NIST determined that there was no evidence that any of the samples had reached temperatures above 600 ºC. (p 90/140)
    The highest temperatures estimated for the samples was 250 ºC (482 ºF). That's consistent with the results of fire tests in uninsulated steel-framed parking garages, which showed maximum steel temperatures of 360 ºC (680 ºF). How interesting then, that NIST's sagging truss model has the truss heated to 700 ºC (1292 ºF).

    A floor section was modeled to investigate failure modes and sequences of failures under combined gravity and thermal loads. The floor section was heated to 700 ºC (with a linear thermal gradient through the slab thickness from 700 ºC to 300 ºC at the top surface of the slab) over a period of 30 min. Initially the thermal expansion of the floor pushed the columns outward, but with increased temperatures, the floor sagged and the columns were pulled inward. (p 98/148)
    Where does NIST get the idea that steel temperatures should be more than 450 degrees Celsius (or 842 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than their own evidence indicates? This passage provides some insight into their experimental method.

    A spray burner generating 1.9 MW or 3.4 MW of power was ignited in a 23 ft by 11.8 ft by 12.5 ft high compartment. The temperatures near the ceiling approached 900 ºC. (p 123/173)
    1.9 to 3.4 MW (megawatts) is the heat output of about 500 wood stoves -- that in a living-room-sized space!

    The jet fuel greatly accelerated the fire growth. Only about 60 percent of the combustible mass of the rubblized workstations was consumed. The near-ceiling temperatures varied between 800 ºC and 1,100 ºC. (p 125-6/175-6)
    Temperatures of 800 ºC to 1,100 ºC (1472 ºF to 2012 ºF) are normally observed only for brief times in building fires, in a phenomenon known as flashover. Flashover occurs when uncombusted gases accumulate near the ceilings and then suddenly ignite. Since flame consumes the pre-heated fuel-air mixture in an instant, very high temperatures are produced for a few seconds. Note that this temperature range includes the 900 ºC recorded using the megawatt super-burner, so they must have had to pour on quite a lot of jet fuel.

    The first section of the Report describing the fires deceptively implies that 1,000 ºC (1832 ºF) temperatures (rarely seen in even momentary flashovers) were sustained, and that they were in the building's core.

    Aside from isolated areas, perhaps protected by surviving gypsum walls, the cooler parts of this upper layer were at about 500 ºC, and in the vicinity of the active fires, the upper layer air temperatures reached 1,000 ºC. The aircraft fragments had broken through the core walls on the 94th through the 97th floors, and temperatures in the upper layers there were similar to those in the tenant spaces. (p 28/78)

    Note the absurdity of asserting that the fires in the core were as intense as those in the tenant spaces when the core:

    Had very little fuel
    Was far from any source of fresh air
    Had huge steel columns to wick away the heat
    Does not show evidence of fires in any of the photographs or videos

    Furthermore, NIST's suggestion of extremely high core temperatures is contradicted by its own fire temperature simulations, such as the one illustrated on the right, which show upper-level air temperatures in the core of mostly below 300 ºC."

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  114. Bilbo wrote: I admit that if tools were used to design the first cells, then it is unlikely that we could detect evidence of those tools, even if we could examine the very first cells under a microscope. I might be wrong, but I don't think we leave signs of tool use in our own micro-bio-engineering, do we? But this is different from admitting that there are no signs of design.

    No. If you can't tell us what those signs of design are, or even what they might be, there are no signs of design.

    It's that simple. Sorry.

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  115. Dave: "No. If you can't tell us what those signs of design are, or even what they might be, there are no signs of design."

    Dave, I'm not sure if you're saying that signs of the tools used are the same as the signs of design or not. If you are then I would say that I only partially agree. Signs or markings of the tools would be a very good sign of design. But I think there are other signs. For example, we know how to make proteins and RNA. Cells know how to make proteins and RNA. But before there were cells, how were proteins and RNA made? There doesn't seem to be a plausible non-teleological scenario. So given that at one time there were no cells, I would take the production of proteins and RNA as a sign of design.

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  116. Jim Hoffman continues his argument about how hot the steel columns became:

    "Ignored Conduction?

    NIST calibrated its computer model of heat transfer to the steel structure using thermally isolated pieces of steel. NIST does not appear to have taken into account the role of heat conduction within the steel structure in lowering the temperatures of the fire-exposed steel.
    NIST apparently ignored thermal conduction within its model of the steel structure. Since steel is a good conductor of heat, and the steel in the Twin Towers' structures was well connected, their massive steel structures would have drawn heat away from the parts that were exposed to fire. The Report describes a model of "The Fire-Structure Interface", and describes the computation of heat transfer between the air and the steel structure, but it does not mention the conduction of heat along spans of the steel structure. (p 131-2/181-2) The suspicion that NIST simply ignored the conduction of heat within the steel is corroborated by the Report's disclosure that they used heat transfer tests on isolated steel elements to calibrate their model. (p 134/184)"

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  117. Bilbo wrote: Dave, I'm not sure if you're saying that signs of the tools used are the same as the signs of design or not.

    No, I'm making a much broader point. I'm saying that you can't tell us anything about the designer's characteristics (even if he/she/it is physical or supernatural), and you also can't tell us anything about OBJECTIVE evidence for design. This is despite repeated requests for the same. All you can give us are suspicions, and false analogies based on what we know about human-based design. As if to prove my point, you then give us another example of this hand-waving strategy.

    But I think there are other signs. For example, we know how to make proteins and RNA. Cells know how to make proteins and RNA. But before there were cells, how were proteins and RNA made? There doesn't seem to be a plausible non-teleological scenario. So given that at one time there were no cells, I would take the production of proteins and RNA as a sign of design.

    Please think about this from the point of view of logic. You are again using humans as the touchstone for design, yet you don't know anything (human-like/nonhuman? real/supernatural?) about the alleged designer of cells. That is a false analogy; characteristics of human design (including intent) are NOT evidence of anything other than human design.

    Secondly, there is a humongous non sequitur in that paragraph. What is the logical connection between the pre-biotic world and the statement "There doesn't seem to be a plausible non-teleological scenario."? There are currently no accepted explanations of abiogenesis, true enough. But that is NOT a reason to believe that there will never be a plausible explanation. That is NOT a reason to invoke teleology. That is NOT a reason to invoke a designer/god. It is merely a statement of what we don't know, and science has a pretty good track record (far better than religion or ID theory) of slowly converting "don't know" to "plausible scenario".

    What is the problem with saying "I don't know."? What is the logic behind the immediate jump to "Therefore a designer/god."? Why can't you provide evidence beyond the false analogies for this conclusion, which is, in the absence of evidence, simply illogical?

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  118. Dave: "No, I'm making a much broader point. I'm saying that you can't tell us anything about the designer's characteristics (even if he/she/it is physical or supernatural),"

    So by characteristics, you mean physical or supernatural? You're right, I can't tell. There is insufficient evidence.

    "and you also can't tell us anything about OBJECTIVE evidence for design."

    I think showing similarities between essential features of cells, such as proteins and RNA, and things we are able to design, such as proteins and RNA, count as OBJECTIVE evidence for design.

    "Please think about this from the point of view of logic. You are again using humans as the touchstone for design,",

    Yes, that's the only touchstone we have.

    "yet you don't know anything (human-like/nonhuman? real/supernatural?) about the alleged designer of cells. That is a false analogy; characteristics of human design (including intent) are NOT evidence of anything other than human design."

    I disagree. They are also evidence of human-LIKE design.

    "Secondly, there is a humongous non sequitur in that paragraph. What is the logical connection between the pre-biotic world and the statement "There doesn't seem to be a plausible non-teleological scenario."? There are currently no accepted explanations of abiogenesis, true enough. But that is NOT a reason to believe that there will never be a plausible explanation. That is NOT a reason to invoke teleology. That is NOT a reason to invoke a designer/god. It is merely a statement of what we don't know, and science has a pretty good track record (far better than religion or ID theory) of slowly converting "don't know" to "plausible scenario"."

    I agree. Though in this case, it looks like that's not going to happen. But I'm willing to give them more time.

    "What is the problem with saying "I don't know."?"

    Nothing.

    "What is the logic behind the immediate jump to "Therefore a designer/god."?"

    I'm not jumping (to a conclusion). I'm positing a hypothesis.

    "Why can't you provide evidence beyond the false analogies for this conclusion, which is, in the absence of evidence, simply illogical?"

    I don't think they are false analogies. And they're the only analogies we have to go with.

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  119. Bilbo

    Think about this, from centuries past, and yet still remarkably scientific...

    "Men have sought to make a world from their own conception and to draw from their own minds all the material which they employed, but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have the facts and not opinions to reason about, and might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world." - Francis Bacon

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  120. "...might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world." -Francis Bacon

    Yes, but the problem with the origin of life is that it doesn't seem to be law-like. It seems to depend upon a high number of fortunate events occurring. The fact that it seems to appear on Earth relatively soon after the Earth is cool enough to sustain life, would mean that either the origin of life is relatively easy to obtain, or it was designed. Research, so far, suggests that it wasn't relatively easy. This may change, which is why I don't think origin of life researchers should give up. But meanwhile there seems to be enough data suggesting design, so that forming design hypotheses is not irrational. And there seem to be ways to strengthen or weaken those hypotheses.

    I don't have a real beef with skeptics, such as yourself, who doubt design. I consider it a rational position. One of the things we learn in philosophy is that people can take opposite sides of these sorts of questions and still be quite rational. This debate -- teleology versus non-teleology of life and of the universe -- has been going on for thousands of years, and will probably continue into the future. Learning to respect each other's points of view may be the most valuable thing that could happen.

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  121. JJS,

    Interesting discussion in the Journal of Engineering of the ASCE, posted at stj911.org.

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  122. Bilbo wrote: Yes, but the problem with the origin of life is that it doesn't seem to be law-like.

    Semantic quibbling. Yes, I understand that the term scientific "law" went out of favor in the 20th century. Bacon's point, which you ignored, is that opening your eyes to what nature reveals is a better route to understanding than is your preferred option (faith-based preconceived notions, reinforced by "suspicions" rather than by observations and data).

    And, again, you prove my point almost immediately with these words.

    It seems to depend upon a high number of fortunate events occurring. The fact that it seems to appear on Earth relatively soon after the Earth is cool enough to sustain life, would mean that either the origin of life is relatively easy to obtain, or it was designed.

    A false dichotomy, bolstered by preconceived notions, is in bold. It didn't have to be "easy"; low probability events have a tendency to become nearly inevitable when large stretches of time are allowed. So option 3 might be that life originated from non-life with great difficulty and exceedingly slowly. This perspective is consistent with the evidence that we do have, and does not require the think-poof supernatural explanation, for which there is exactly no evidence.

    But meanwhile there seems to be enough data suggesting design, so that forming design hypotheses is not irrational. And there seem to be ways to strengthen or weaken those hypotheses.

    Baloney. You have been unable to give us one testable design hypothesis. Merely repeating this mantra ("It is testable. It is testable") does not make it so. Indeed, forming design hypotheses may not be "irrational", but holding on the the delusion that you can test them is irrational. Analogies are not experiments. Suspicions are not data. Design is not even a nascent proto-science. It is a religious conclusion, buoyed only by propaganda and deception rather than by hypothesis and experiment.

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  123. Dave: "Bacon's point, which you ignored, is that opening your eyes to what nature reveals is a better route to understanding than is your preferred option...."

    If you had majored in philosophy, Dave, you would realize that Bacon brought his pre-conceived idea of "law" to nature, in order to understand it. And that idea of "law" was bolstered by centuries of a bronze-age myth, understood in Greek philosophical terms.

    "Baloney. You have been unable to give us one testable design hypothesis."

    I see your baloney, and raise you a balderdash. You've already admitted that 3 stop codons weaken our design hypothesis, making it falsifiable. Finding out that 3 stop codons may have a design advantage would strengthen our hypothesis, making it verifiable.

    "It is a religious conclusion, buoyed only by propaganda and deception...."

    Thank you for affirming my rationality [he said sarcastically]. Meanwhile, my only real beef with you, Dave, is that you are a party-pooper.

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  124. Michael Hess confirmed Barry Jennings account that they were trapped in building #7 because of an explosion.

    It's strange. I didn't know Barry Jennings. But after watching his account of what happened to him on 9/11, I feel like I knew him. He came across as a very friendly guy, that everybody would like. I feel like I'm in mourning for this man. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that he was murdered. Michael Hess later retracted his story. Smart man.

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  125. Bilbo wrote: If you had majored in philosophy, Dave, you would realize that Bacon brought his pre-conceived idea of "law" to nature, in order to understand it. And that idea of "law" was bolstered by centuries of a bronze-age myth, understood in Greek philosophical terms.

    Red herring. If you had taken a logic course, you would see that this meandering about "laws" is outdated, and irrelevant to the main point. Obsservation of nature and letting the facts guide your conclusions, rather than hunting for facts to bolster your suspicions, is how science is done. That's the point. There are no laws.

    "Baloney. You have been unable to give us one testable design hypothesis."

    I see your baloney, and raise you a balderdash. You've already admitted that 3 stop codons weaken our design hypothesis, making it falsifiable. Finding out that 3 stop codons may have a design advantage would strengthen our hypothesis, making it verifiable.


    Point taken. The single testable hypothesis that you have given has been tested and the evidence indicates that design is not a good explanation. Congratulations on your pyrrhic victory. Please give us more testable hypotheses so the fun can continue.

    As for the "party-pooper" accusation, I'm sorry to rain on your delusional parade. But I think it is frankly dangerous for pseudo-scientific baloney to present itself as science, since science is my chosen career, and science education is my current job. Bring some science to the table rather than suspicions and hopeful handwaving, and then we can party.

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  126. "Obsservation of nature and letting the facts guide your conclusions, rather than hunting for facts to bolster your suspicions, is how science is done."

    I took that logic course. It taught me that "nature" is a product of the categories of our mind, which we impose on our experiences. For example, we have faith that nature will behave the same tomorrow as it did today, even though we have no proof that it will. Hume came up with that problem, which we still can't solve.

    "Point taken. The single testable hypothesis that you have given has been tested and the evidence indicates that design is not a good explanation."

    Then you agree that ID is testable. So far the existence of 3 stop codons act to weaken the design hypothesis. If we find a good design explanation for them, it will strengthen it. So your screaming that ID isn't capable of being scientific is mistaken.

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  127. Meanwhile, Dave, have you bothered to look at the youtube of Barry Jennings? Just curious if you're at all paying attention to the real topic of this thread.

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  128. NIST's Questions and Answers refers to Barry Jennings account.

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  129. From the site: "An emergency responder caught in the building between the 6th and 8th floors says he heard two loud booms. Isn’t that evidence that there was an explosion?
    The sound levels reported by all witnesses do not match the sound level of an explosion that would have been required to cause the collapse of the building. If the two loud booms were due to explosions that were responsible for the collapse of WTC 7, the emergency responder—located somewhere between the 6th and 8th floors in WTC 7—would not have been able to survive the near immediate collapse and provide this witness account."


    Barry Jennings' and Michael Hess's account would have refuted NIST's assertion, so it was important to make sure that didn't happen. Hess retracted. Apparently Jennings wouldn't.

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  130. Bilbo wrote: Then you agree that ID is testable. So far the existence of 3 stop codons act to weaken the design hypothesis. If we find a good design explanation for them, it will strengthen it. So your screaming that ID isn't capable of being scientific is mistaken.

    ID may be "capable of being scientific", but so is creationism. It still has to explain things successully in order to be scientific; testable is not the only criteria for being scientific. Phlogiston theory was testable. Like ID, it failed every test. Wake me up when ID gets a positive result that goes beyond the "suspicion" stage. Wake me up when there are vaild criteria for inferring teleology that don't rely on analogies to human activities and intentions.

    As for the Jennings youtube video, no, I haven't looked at it. I think I explained this before, but if not, I'll try again. I'm not an engineer. My opinions on engineering phenomena would be amateurish and probably laughable. As a general rule I don't venture into discussions of things where I would appear amateurish and laughable. I'd recommend it as a general strategy, if you want the discussions to actually generate light and not just heat... Maybe you can try it sometime too.

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