Friday, December 28, 2007

The "Two Jones" Thesis and its Detractors: More ID opponents experience binary fission

Well, it appears that my article about the inherent contradiction in an important section of the Dover vs. Kitzmiller decision is making evident some potentially dangerous developments among Darwinist opponents of Intelligent Design. Both Richard Hoppe at Panda's Thumb ("The Disco 'Tute's New Man") and Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars ("ID and Testability") have offered arguments against my position, and with each other--and, it turns out (at least in Brayton's case), with themselves.

I had pointed out that Judge John Jones affirmed a blatant contradiction in his opinion. He argued that the alleged unsoundness of the argument from irreducible complexity is a blow to Intelligent Design, since it is "central to ID", and then later argues that even if irreducible complexity were true, it wouldn't confirm ID because it isn't central to it, but "merely a test for evolution, not design".

I also said that this kind of argument falls into the trap of affirming two more general contradictory positions: that ID is not falsifiable, and that it is false.

I argued two points:
  1. That Judge Jones both affirmed and denied that irreducible complexity is "central to ID"; and
  2. That, as a consequence, he only allowed irreducible complexity to count against ID, but not for it.
This was completely lost on Hoppe, who just ran on about how ID makes testable claims he says are false, and untestable claims that can't be judged true or false:
What Cothran is apparently unable to comprehend is that while ID proponents occasionally make testable empirical claims, ID theory itself does not.
No, sorry. Cothran comprehends Hoppe, but Hoppe doesn't comprehend Cothran. I understand Hoppe's point. In fact, I understand it so well that it is very plain to me that it doesn't address my argument. It's a convenient distinction to make, but it isn't a distinction the Dover decision makes.

Hoppe agrees with Jones--and he doesn't. He agrees with the Jones who says that irreducible complexity is not central to ID, but disagrees with the Jones who says that it does. But nowhere does he deny my central thesis: that there are two Jones', and that they disagree with each other.

So what does Ed Brayton say to this? First, that he has heard my argument "many times" before. Shucks. And I thought my "Two Jones" thesis was my very own discovery. Turns out, claims Brayton, that someone beat me to it, although he doesn't say who it was.

Brayton, it turns out, is not only unimpressed by my argument (or the one I thought was mine before Ed informed me it wasn't--although, in a Jonesian logical maneuver, he's going to hold it against me anyway) but is less than impressed with Hoppe's refutation of it, saying that he gives my argument "too much credit":
I think he's actually making things more complicated than they are. There is no "ID theory" and there never has been. What ID proponents call "ID theory" is nothing more than a set of bad arguments against evolution, all straight out of the creationist jokebook. They all take the form of a basic god of the gaps argument: "not evolution, therefore God."
Note carefully what is going on here. Neither Hoppe nor Brayton addresses the two central points of my argument. Hoppe agrees with the Jones who says that arguments against evolution are not central to ID, and disagrees with the Jones who says they are, while Brayton agrees with the Jones who says that arguments against evolution are central to ID and disagrees with the Jones who says that they aren't.

Neither, however, denies there are two Jones': they simply disagree on which is the better Jones. In fact, when you put them together, not only do Hoppe and Brayton not address my argument, they actually confirm it: in agreeing with different Jones' they implicitly recognize that there are two of them.

Yet, in the final analysis, even Brayton can't resist the apparently contagious logical schizophrenia that is increasingly infecting opponents of ID:
ID argument like this can be falsified because they are tests of evolution, not of the non-existent "ID theory." ID is a purely negative argument that invokes supernatural causation, and that is why it cannot be tested on its own merits.
In other words, Brayton too argues that ID is both false and unfalsifiable. Not only are there now two Joneses, there are two Braytons.

Is it only a matter of time before Hoppe too--and all the other ID opponents--begin to experience this peculiar form of alogical reproduction? Considering the consequences (such as the potential twofold multiplication of bad reasoning), let's hope not.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I freely admit I am wrong. This gentleman does not usually respond to comments.

j a higginbotham

One Brow said...

I am curious whether your false equivocation is deliberate. Perhaps you really have missed that there is both ID, the untestable, unverifiable, unfalsifiable, unscientific claim that intelligence was some time, in some manner, responsible for the creation of life, and there is ID, the politcal and cultural movement which makes testable, verifiable, falsifiable, and disproven statements regarding teh impossibility of evolution. The distinction seems fairly clear to Judge Jones.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cothran,
And using your form of logical analysis it is also incorrect for someone to point out that the fundamentalist Christian's position is not science.
Can you come up with a usable definition of science that also excludes such nonsense (along with Tarot readings, spirit communication, astrology, etc.) from being taught in a high school science classroom?


one brow,
Yes, it is painfully obvious, isn't it?

KyCobb said...

Martin, isn't there anything better you can aspire to than to be nothing more than another dissembler for the Discovery Institute? Can't you think of any contribution you would rather make to public school education than to help politicians force teachers to tell students lies?

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for some positive reasons why ID should be considered good science and imparted to our high school students as being good science.

What criteria can be used to establish that ID is science?

Larry Fafarman said...

I'm with you, Martin.

You wrote,

>>>>>>Neither Hoppe nor Brayton addresses the two central points of my argument. Hoppe agrees with the Jones who says that arguments against evolution are not central to ID, and disagrees with the Jones who says they are, while Brayton agrees with the Jones who says that arguments against evolution are central to ID and disagrees with the Jones who says that they aren't.

Neither, however, denies there are two Jones': they simply disagree on which is the better Jones.
<<<<<<<

Well, at least both of them are consistent about believing that irreducible complexity is not central to ID. But as you point out, neither of them recognize that Jones took two diametrically opposed positions.

Your interpretation of Jones' statements is literal and their interpretations are arbitrary and devious.

>>>>> So what does Ed Brayton say to this? First, that he has heard my argument "many times" before. <<<<<<

He didn't just say "I've" heard your argument "many times" before but said "we've" heard your argument "many times" before. Fatheaded Ed Brayton is just an unscrupulous BVD-clad blogger with no credibility. He arbitrarily censors comments and spews forth information that he cannot substantiate.

Your post inspired this post on my blog.