Aug 052006

This is a continuation of Pandas takin’ a whuppin’ at Cornell

I appreciated Daron’s post #24 over in part 1. I ‘ll continue the rest of the thoughts in this post.

Thank you for the statistics. I and PvM are compulsive, and I have often seen him as my counter part on the net. Nick Matzke would be my other counter part, and I had to take both of them on.

One of the major problems confronting me was the fact the other side had little inhibition about introducing falsehoods and misrepresentations. The best example was PvM P(T|H) = 1. That went on for 50 verbose posts, and thankfully Hannah saw through it. Everyone else could easily fall for it because I was losing my cool and getting angry that PvM would actually resort to such an unwholesome tactics. I end up looking like a whiner instead. Think about it, PvM could cooley say 1+1 = 5 and then cite irrelevant peer-reviewed articles and then issue taunts like “Sal again fails to prove his point”.

Of course it didn’t help that I slipped up toward the end on Dembski’s new paper since I did not have time to really study it like the other topics. However the other side was slipping up as well. You may notice that Leonid after almost 200 post of going back and forth on Dembski’s formula as flawed finally concedes its consistency after I make a derivation (see comment 21 at Symbols of Specified Complexity. Even second class has a Eureka moment, “Sal I finally see your point”. But this happens after a week after all the damage of misrepresentation is done on the weblog. Still I’m glad they came around”.

I could say the same almost every open issue left on the weblogs. If I only had time, I could have tied up the lose ends. I did not have the time to go clean up the misrepresentations, and further, any attempt to do so would have been just thread jamming Chewbacca tactics.

PvM did not like the fact I didn’t take the Chewebacca bait, but ignored his posts and just said what I thought was important. It was, in effect, “Gish Gallop” (Sal)_ vs “Gish Gallop”(PvM).

But what’s infuriating is what may take me an hour of research to make sure what I’m posting is true, the other side can just spam with whatever suits them. I end up getting mad that they’ll willing make misrepresentations, and I end up looking like a whiner.

I was better about it this time than usual, and just went forth posting, ignoring whatever was said. It may have looked evasive to those in the middle, but it was important for me to sustain the guys on “my side”. I knew people like Hannah would see through the other side, and also would learn a lot from what I transmitted.

For example, I successfully taught Hannah about Matzke’s literature bluffing. Any one else who saw it will trust the other side less and less upon seeing such tactics. The problem is the other side is willing to invest a lot of time and effort constructing elaborate ruses. They appear sincere. After all, why waste all the time building strawmen?

I’m glad the conversation went on at the other website (Specified Complexity), as Hannah can now see Dembski’s math was vindicated. She is too valuable to the cause to lose, and the other side tried to take her out of the fight by introducing as much doubt in her mind as possible. If Dembski’s math could be shown flawed, then she might hesitate in future debates, even if she fundamentally feels ID is right. I thus had to make sure that I cleaned up my errors and broke through the stalemate on the math.

Those however, on the other side that want to believe I got whipped in debate have ample opportunity to do so. They hear Leonid saying, “you’re misunderstanding of population genetics is mind boggling”, and then he cites literature and textbooks. Even though the literature is wrong, and demonstratably so, how much energy can I invest in a debate to show 20 books and papers which he cites are wrong! I then end up looking like I evaded the question. In fact, I went on to pound the other side about Nachman’s paper at ARN recently over the very issue that Leonid said my misunderstanding was mind boggling. But that took two days to thrash out. In the meantime, little jabs like, “you’re misunderstanding is mind boggling” and backed up with textbook citations and literature bluffing look temporarily credible.

But what could be done practically? If I just quit, the other side would have won by default. Rather I chose to take some casualties and fight. They will be able to score points and injure my position, but not because truth was on their side.

Finally, the amount of sour grapes the other side is showing because they know their goal of utterly humiliating the ID side failed. Just the fact we survived the debate is threatening to them. In other words, they had to annihilate us, show that ID has no chance in the colleges. The IDers merely needed to survive, and that we did. And the worst thing that could happen is to see the students go unscathed having been exposed to it!

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15 years ago

I’ve just dumped another long opinion on what I saw going on. I talk way too much.

I don’t know what unbiased viewers saw, but I never thought of you as being evasive. I admired all the hard work you put in, the honesty with which you admitted errors, the calm resolve you demonstrated and the results you got.
When PvM was tossing around irrelevancies and crying “Sal won’t face these points” I loved the fact that you just came down the pipe with your case. You exposed a good batch of the Panda’s, as all they could do was arrogate “apply it to biology”, “probabilities are irrelevant anyway – since I can’t understand them” etc.. Why were they in a math discussion, trying to dismiss Dembski, if half way through all they could say is “apply it to ftsK…I’m waiting”?

I loved the fact that PvM said on the new site after one of your comments “I see you talked to Dembski” meaning, “my butt is toast” and you just ignored him and kept demonstrating calculations.
Leonid’s admission here:
“On the other hand, you are correct that there are undeniable, objectively measurable similarities among proteins performing similar functions in distinct organisms, both in amino acid sequence and (especially) in 3-D structure. Furthermore, there is evidence of some higher-level organization among proteins, up to and including the fact that nearly all proteins are composed of the same twenty chemical subunits (amino acids), and a large fraction of them incorporate highly similar short structural motifs. Call this “specification” or “design” if you will – I have no problem with that. However, using these terms gives us no insight whatsoever into how proteins work, or how this “organization” came to be. Evolutionary theory, on the other, does provide a testable, falsifiable explanation that is actually consistent with the present state of knowledge: that is why it is nearly universally accepted among scientists working in the relevant disciplines.”

shows that the math is right, and that it is applicable, since now even he has to backtrack to “evolution is useful and evolutionists believe it” style arguments. It was fun at the end of this thread to see you all (Leonid, secondclass and yourself) agreeing and basically trading thoughts and concepts back and forth on interpretations rather than fighting.

The fact that your case was established at that point was evidenced to me by Allen’s sudden appearance to hijack the thread with a reference to analogies, which should have been left on his analogies thread.

I personally couldn’t tell one squiggle from the other in the equations, so I just kept reading along taking in the attitudes and dialogue. As with any other argument, confirmation biases will win out for either side. What you did demonstrate, to skeptics as well as supporters, is that this is not so easily poo-pooed as the opponents would have us believe.

15 years ago

Oops, got long again.

15 years ago


I enjoy reading your posts, they are very encouraging. No need to apologize for their length. You might note that Shiva (a Panda regular), in Allen’s closing comments accused Allen of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in a hostage, in which the hostage exhibits seeming loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions, such as battered person syndrome, child abuse cases, and bride kidnapping.

Sounds to me like they’re worried Allen’s being “seduced by the Dark Side”.

Great to hear from you. Feel free to post any more of your thoughts. We have lots of bandwith (I think?).

15 years ago

We have lots of bandwith (I think?)

😆 Yes I think we have plenty.

15 years ago

I have a confession to make. I don’t read 80% of PvM’s posts, much less respond to them. That must drive him nuts. He’s like a schoolyard kid trying to get attention, and just gets ignored, and in the process screams loader to get heard, and only gets ignore more. That’s PvM.

15 years ago

And now PvM is trying to claim victory:

“It also seems clear that the participants showed some significant concerns as to the arguments by Behe, Dembski and Johnson.
As far as the lacking of discussion of Kitzmiller, it must not have been a popular topic 🙂 After all, the court record of Kitzmiller shows the scientific vacuity of intelligent design.
While IDers have started to spin the course and the exchanges on the blog site, it seems clear to me that Allen’s work hit a nerve, for better or for worse 🙂
Thanks Allen.”


15 years ago


Greetings. (I tried emailing your eskimo account. I can try e-mailing the one use here at teleological. Will that work?).

If PvM feel having classes like this will be the means to defeat ID, by all means, let’s have thousands of them throughout the universities in this land.


15 years ago

For some reason teleological can’t get through to my eskimo account. Not sure why. Yeah, you can use my work addresses:

Teleologist: [Jon, I moved your email information to your profile, just in case you didn’t really want this info open to the public.]


15 years ago

For some actual information on what the students taking the course thought about it, and what they wrote about in the final research papers, see:

For commentary on the papers, see:

And for my own summary of what went on and what we learned, see:

I for one came away from the course with a renewed appreciation for the intelligence and integrity of my fellow academics, students and faculty alike. We spent the summer debating complex and difficult issues, taking often diametrically opposed positions (which, BTW, hardly changed at all over the course of the six weeks), and yet through it all we maintained our respect for each other and our own dignity (not an easy task it seems, if one spends much time at Panda’s Thumb or Uncommon Descent). All it takes is a little respect (“just a little bit, uh huh, just a little bit”…)

15 years ago

In other words, I believe that everyone involved can “claim victory” at some level.

15 years ago

Hmm, my first comment got eaten. Ah, well…

15 years ago

Sorry Allen, one of your comment was held in moderation because it had more than 2 links. It has been posted now.