Home > Intelligent Design > The Biologic Institute, Bill Dembski, and ID Research in 2008

The Biologic Institute, Bill Dembski, and ID Research in 2008

January 2, 2009

Over at the Panda’s Thumb, Dave Wisker has (correctly) pointed out that members of the DI-funded Biologic Institute produced four papers in 2008:

D’Andrea-Winslow L, Novitski AK (2008) Active bleb formation is abated in Lytechinus variegatus red spherule coelomocytes after disruption of acto-myosin contractility. Integrative Zoology 3: 106-113. doi:10.1111/j.1749-4877.2008.00086.x

Axe DD, Dixon BW, Lu P (2008) Stylus: A system for evolutionary experimentation based on a protein/proteome model with non-arbitrary functional constraints. PLoS ONE 3: e2246. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002246

Sternberg RV (2008) DNA codes and information: Formal structures and relational causes. Acta Biotheoretica doi:10.1007/s10441-008-9049-6. PMID: 18465197

Gonzalez G (2008) Parent stars of extrasolar planets – IX. Lithium abundances. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Online Early Articles doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13067.x

The first paper is about immune cells in sea urchins and concludes that “the acto-myosin contractile mechanism contributes to the dynamics of constitutive cell surface membrane blebbing in invertebrate immune cells.” I’m sure this is interesting stuff for invertebrate biologists, but it is hardly a breakthrough for the “Intelligent Science” that the Biologic Institute espouses. The second paper describes a computer program (Stylus) for the study of protein evolution using Chinese characters, and the paper does not seem to offer any support for ID. Indeed, Konrad Sheffler (the PloS editor for the manuscript) explicitly notes that he “did not detect any such [ideological] bias [towards ID] in this manuscript; nor do the results support intelligent design in any way.” As he points out, “there is still no substitute for empirical data” when examining biological processes.  Sternberg’s paper is a theoretical one in which he takes a structuralist approach and proposes “that a variety of structural realism can assist us in rethinking the concepts of DNA codes and information apart from semantic criteria.” Empirical data is no where to be seen. Gonzalez’ paper confirms “recent claims that the Li abundances of stars with planets are smaller than those of stars without planets near the solar temperature.” It’s empirical but no design-related.

So there you have it. Four very different papers with no apparent connection to the desiderata I mentioned in my original post: “(a) evidence for design, (b) a method to unambiguously detect design, or (c) a theory of how the Designer did the designing”.

Also over at PT, James F mentions that Dembski has stated that he has gotten a paper (with Marks) through the peer-review process. One assumes that it is one of the following papers:

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II "Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success" (in review).

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II   "The Information Cost of No Free Lunch," (in review)

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II "Horizontal and Vertical No Free Lunch for Active Information in Assisted Searches" (in review)

William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II "Judicious Use of Computational Resources in Evolutionary Search" (in review)

I can’t find where Dembski made the announcement, but I’m fairly sure that he neither stated which paper was accepted or to which journal. In any case, it is a moot point. None of these papers offer anything by the way of a recognizable Design theory.

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  1. MH
    January 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Mark Chu-Carroll has a great post about how no free lunch has no bearing on evolution or ID that you’re readers might like to take a look at.
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/12/fitness_landscapes_evolution_a.php

  2. James F
    January 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Sorry for not attaching a citation; Ed Brayton blogged about it earlier.

  3. John Lynch
    January 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    A little poking around over at Marks’ website reveals the accepted paper to be “The Information Cost of No Free Lunch” and no mention of a journal. See http://marksmannet.com/RobertMarks/REPRINTS/Marks-Pubs.htm

  4. J-Dog
    January 2, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Based on the usual quality of the papers by Dembski, I would suspect the Journal is called MAD Magazine.

  5. sparc
    January 3, 2009 at 12:45 am

    According to Marks’s own web pages “The Information Cost of No Free Lunch” is not a paper published in a peer reviewed journal but a book chapter.
    Interestingly William Dembski has some other titles on his
    design inference pages (http://www.designinference.com/):

    Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success. [posted 5jun07] Paper currently under review on the mathematical foundations of intelligent design coauthored with Robert J. Marks II. This paper develops a general method for critiquing inflated claims about the power of evolutionary computing

    Active Information in Evolutionary Search. [posted 5jun07] Paper currently under review on the mathematical foundations of intelligent design coauthored with Robert J. Marks II. This paper critiques Olle Häggström’s 2007 article in Biology and Philosophy titled “Intelligent Design and the NFL Theorems.”

    Unacknowledged Information Costs in Evolutionary Computing: A Case Study on the Evolution of Nucleotide Binding Sites. [posted 5jun07] Paper currently under review on the mathematical foundations of intelligent design coauthored with Robert J. Marks II. This paper critiques Thomas Schneider’s 2000 article in Nucleic Acids Research titled “Evolution of Biological Information.”

    (embphasis mine)
    Thus, today these three papers are “under review” for 578 days!
    578 days!!!
    My experience is that one gets a vote from the reviewers much faster. And if they ask for additional data they won’t give you 1.5 additional years.

  6. RBH
    January 3, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Sparc wrote

    My experience is that one gets a vote from the reviewers much faster. And if they ask for additional data they won’t give you 1.5 additional years.

    Data? C’mon, this is Bill Dembski. He don’t need no steenkin’ data!

  7. January 3, 2009 at 2:00 am

    I can’t find where Dembski made the announcement, but I’m fairly sure that he neither stated which paper was accepted or to which journal.

    It was in a passing comment on UD. I can’t remember when, but I’m sure the usual suspects will know and be able to point to where they mocked wMad for it.
    I’m amazed that the whole of the Biologic Institute has only produced four papers in a year. I’d expect each one of the senior researchers (Gonzales, Axe, Sternberg) to be producing at least that number.

  8. Pineyman
    January 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    @ #7 –
    Yes – it was when WAD announced Barry A was taking over. He followed with an “Oh, By the Way…” to the sycophants.

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