Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Academic Freedom Expelled from Baylor University

{For heaven's sake people, THIS IS A P-A-R-O-D-Y!!}

According to CSC senior fellow and leading ID theorist William Dembski, what follows is:

“[A] big story, perhaps the biggest story yet of academic suppression relating to ID. Robert Marks is a world-class expert in the field of evolutionary computing, and yet the Baylor administration, without any consideration of the actual content of Marks's work at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, decided to shut it down simply because there were anonymous complaints linking the lab to intelligent design.”
Read on if you care at all about academic freedom and protecting the right of scientists to freedom of scientific inquiry.

What a difference a year or two makes. Or not. The ugly specter of academic suppression seems incapable of being dispelled at Baylor University. It first ghosted across the campus a number of years ago when leading ID theorist William Dembksi undertook the task of heading up an intelligent design research program at the Michael Polanyi Research Center. Anti-ID bigots amongst Baylor’s faculty and staff moved quickly and decisively to stifle any such research on their campus, claiming that they were concerned that “people will make us guilty by association and assume that we are associated with or linked to this organization that is very well established as a pseudo-science.” It was clear then that intelligent design was not a subject that could be freely researched, studied, or discussed at Baylor University. Academic freedom be damned.

Fast forward to 2005-06. Academic suppression and anti-science prejudice again surfaced at Baylor, this time in denial of tenure to acclaimed faculty member and scholar Francis Beckwith. ENV reported on Beckwith’s case at that time:
Beckwith has defended the constitutionality of teaching about intelligent design. Note: He has not advocated the wisdom of teaching ID, nor has he taken sides on the ultimate rightness or wrongness of ID. He has only defended the constitutionality of presenting the debate.
The trampling of academic freedom at Baylor did not go unnoticed in the wider world. Indeed, Joseph Bottum of First Things responded with withering scorn:
Baylor has apparently decided to sink back into its diminished role as a not terribly distinguished regional school. President Sloan is gone, the new high-profile faculty are demoralized and sniffing around for positions at better-known schools, energetic programs like the Intelligent Design institute have been chased away, and the bright young professors are having their academic careers ruined by a school that lured them to campus with the promises of the 2012 plan and now is simply embarrassed by them.
Fortunately for Beckwith, the decision was ultimately reversed and he was granted tenure, as he should have been in the beginning. But the writing on the wall was clear for ID proponents: Keep your views to yourself at Baylor or find yourself disgraced. Public pressure notwithstanding, academic freedom was all but absent at Baylor.

Unfortunately for Robert Marks, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor, he didn’t keep his views to himself. Perhaps he was still under the misperception that tenured professors and proven researchers could still pursue scientific inquiry without fear of institutional reprisal.

Suffering from a delusion of academic freedom last year, Marks decided that research related to evolution and intelligent design, specifically the informational generative capabilities of Darwinian evolution, could be an interesting and fruitful subject for scientific investigation. Marks teaches signal processing and imaging intelligence, his current research is on computational intelligence, fuzzy systems and neural networks, and he has a recently published book on related subjects published by no less then Oxford University. Tying together all of these subjects, one of his biggest areas of research and study is evolutionary computing, which has to do with emulating evolution on computers and is a robust and growing field of engineering.

Marks discussed the subject of evolutionary informatics in an interview conducted by CSC’s Casey Luskin on ID The Future back in July. He described evolutionary informatics as basically conducting simulated evolution on computers. For better or worse Dr. Marks mentioned that he was working with William Dembski on some of his research into information and evolution computing. Just mentioning Dembski these days at Baylor is grounds for dismissal apparently – or at least for dismissal of your life’s work.

Actually, Marks committed an even worse crime – he said he was doing actual research with Dembski. And worse, he was posting their research on a website about the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, at (As of this writing the website is accessible -- it is now hosted by a third party and no longer under the administration of Baylor University..)

It should be noted here that Marks had received a grant from an outside organization that was administered through Baylor University to do this research. And that grant had been approved by the President of the University himself. Interestingly, the involvement of William Dembski caused Baylor to return the grant. Researchers familiar with the grant process will appreciate the significance of this. Recipient research centers seldom, almost never, return research grants for any reason. That fact that Baylor did so regarding a program of research related to intelligent design is quite telling about the University’s appreciation of academic freedom. One wonders what sorts of grants Baylor has administered without complaint for other "controversial" research in the past.

The punishment for Marks is that his ”lab” (we’ll get to that in a moment) was shut down and his website taken offline because the lab's research was perceived as being supportive of intelligent design. To recap, in June of this year the website went online. In July, ID The Future aired its interview with Marks about the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, and a scant dozen days later the website was erased from the net. Is academic freedom or freedom of scientific inquiry alive and well at Baylor University? (Journalist Denyse O’Leary has documented the exact timeline of events at, and has provided the backstory of academic persecution at Baylor.)

Dr. Marks has gone the extra mile in trying to accommodate any legitimate concerns Baylor administrators may have had about his evolutionary informatics website--even agreeing to put a disclaimer on the site making clear that it represented his views as a faculty member, not the university as a whole. But Baylor administrators have now spurned Marks' efforts to accommodate them, apparently reneging on a compromise brokered last month by Marks' attorney. Not only has Baylor deleted Marks' website about his evolutionary informatics research, its lawyer is now outrageously charging Marks with misconduct in creating it and implying that Marks has no academic freedom to pursue research in evolutionary informatics as a faculty member at Baylor.

Under pressure from the administration, Marks agreed to rename the project “Evolutionary Informatics Group” since calling it the “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” bothered anonymous complainers at Baylor because they said it connoted a physical presence. Of course, a “lab” in science circles often refers to a group of scientists participating in related research and collaboration at differing locations. Bickering over whether or not it was a lab probably seemed a silly thing to a researcher like Marks, and so he agreed to change the name. Of course, for the anti-ID thought police in Baylor's administration anything less than the complete annihilation of any research related to intelligent design wasn’t good enough. Changing the name didn’t go far enough. The work itself had to be stifled. After all, it’s not the name that is truly threatening, it is the research that can’t be allowed to progress.

Stay tuned for more about Baylor’s attack on academic freedom. The anti-science bigots were thwarted with the granting of tenure to Francis Beckwith. This current situation is a much more dire one for Darwinists and they are mounting a serious attack to censor scientists and stifle science.


The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased. Evolution News & Views misrepresents analysis of that coverage, as well as fabricated reporting that destorts information about the current state of the debate over Darwinian evolution. Click here to read more.

Monday, September 3, 2007


For heaven’s sake this is a P A R O D Y!

At least I guess so because Dembski is now posting under O’Leary’s name. Or was Denyse finally working under Dembski's name at Baylor. Alternatively, it may have been this Botnik character posting again.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Botnik's original post 2

Botnik stated in the comments:

“once on the web, always on the web”
But try to find the original post on UD ...

Botnik's original post


According to Wesley Elsberry's blog The Austringer the web pages of Robert J. Marks' The Evolutionary Informatics Lab at the Baylor University disappeared. But what is going on at First it seemed that Marks should be presented as the next victim expelled from the science community. Here's how the Austringer describes the situation:

Now, a post at Dembski’s “Uncommon Descent” weblog is claiming Robert Marks as the newest IDC martyr for the cause. Poster “Botnik” put up what is purported to be a quoted email he received from Baylor University President John Lilley. And what was weird before gets even weirder. At first, there was no notice given with the quote; now the article says that it is all a parody. Whatever the motivation, posting the following as being from Lilley is definitely strange:
Indeed strange. It should be noted though, that Marcks' aplogetics web sites are still on Baylor's servers. There you will find presentations like „Science, God & Christ: The emerging Harmony of Science and the Bible: Intelligent Design and the Anthropic Principal”.
A little bit of Behe, Dembski & Co, as well as Mount Rushmore, X-men, Alfred Hitchcock, again and again Stephen Hawking, all that peppered with bible quotes.

My favourite slide from the presentation (all emphasis mine):
Evidence of Design
Existence & Creation of Time
Creation via the Big Bang
Creation via Cantorian Transfinite Numbers
Evidence in Biochemical Design
The Fine Tuning of the Universe
ALL Things
“The problem [with those who seek evidence] … is not the absence of evidence; it is, rather, the suppression of it” Ravi Zacharias (Jesus Among Other Gods)
Harmony With Scripture
Of course you can't argue against "ALL Things". I only wonder what WMAD thinks about it. I always thought ID-creationists wanted to restrict their claims to living things in public. In addition; I thought ID-creationists didn't want to mention their christian god: Another Marks presentation (Genesis and Science: Compatibility Extraordinaire) which of course contains Michelangelo's inevitable Adam does really meet this criterium.

Although Botnik on UD now claims that the whole issue is a parody IMO, Marcks is indeed

(but didn't loose his job at Baylor's)

However, with his weired aplogetic presentations he expelled himself from the scientific community.

Dembski is backpaddeling and he removed the thread at UD. Instead you'll find this:

Parody at UD

William Dembski

When Botnik approached me about whether it would be all right to post his parody of what President John Lilley of Baylor might be thinking in trying to justify his expulsion of Prof. Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab from Baylor, I thought it mirrored what motivates many academics in wanting to stamp out ID. Besides, it seemed to me so over-the-top that I didn’t think the parody would be lost on anyone. And UD has had its humorous side (witness Galapagos Finch).

Clearly, readers of UD fell for it, but so did many people on the other side, judging by all the many emails they sent President Lilley to confirm whether Botnik’s parody actually represented Lilley’s words. In retrospect, it’s clear that this piece of tomfoolery went too far. I’m therefore removing the thread. I hope Baylor and President Lilley take its removal as a gesture of goodwill on the part of UD as they reconsider what to do about Robert Marks and his Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

Seems like WMAD shot in his foot again.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Best Quote Mining Opportunity Ever!

Denyse O'Leary, Jonathan Wells, Scordova, DaveScot and all the other ID-creationists out there obviously missed this quote mining resource:

Ioannidis JPA (2007)
Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
PLoS Medicine Vol. 2, No. 8, e124 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

From the article:

  1. "There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false."
  2. "for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias."
  3. "false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims"
  4. "As has been shown previously, the probability that a research finding is indeed true depends on the prior probability of it being true (before doing the study)"
  5. "What is less well appreciated is that bias and the extent of repeated independent testing by different teams of investigators around the globe may further distort this picture and may lead to even smaller probabilities of the research findings being indeed true."
  6. "Selective or distorted reporting is a typical form of such bias."
  7. "Conversely, true research findings may occasionally be annulled because of reverse bias.
  8. "it is probably fair to say that reverse bias is not as common."
  9. "The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true."
  10. "The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true."
  11. "Claimed Research Findings May Often Be Simply Accurate Measures of the Prevailing Bias"
  12. "History of science teaches us that scientific endeavor has often in the past wasted effort in fields with absolutely no yield of true scientific information, at least based on our current understanding."
  13. "Even if a few relationships are true, the shape of the distribution of the observed effects would still yield a clear measure of the biases involved in the field. This concept totally reverses the way we view scientific results."
  14. "Of course, investigators working in any field are likely to resist accepting that the whole field in which they have spent their careers is a “null field.” However, other lines of evidence, or advances in technology and experimentation, may lead eventually to the dismantling of a scientific field."
  15. "What matters is the totality of the evidence."
  16. "Diminishing bias through enhanced research standards and curtailing of prejudices may also help. However, this may require a change in scientific mentality that might be difficult to achieve."
  17. "Nevertheless, most new discoveries will continue to stem from hypothesis-generating research with low or very low pre-study odds."
Since according to Atom on ID-creationists are indeed so smart they don't need to read no stinkin' science papers they may copy the desired quotes right here.

> 1 Mbp lateral gene transfer from Wolbachia to Drosophila

This is quite surprising: Science reports today that nearly the whole genome of the bacterium Wolbachia that infects insects has been inserted in the genome of a line of Drosophila ananassae:

[...] the team discovered that the insect was carrying nearly the entire Wolbachia genome of more than 1 million DNA base pairs on one of its chromosomes. Most of the DNA appears to be nonfunctional, but the researchers found RNA transcripts from 30 Wolbachia genes. That indicated that these genes were being transcribed, the first step toward making a working protein.

Nobody had foressen this: Actually, researchers try to remove any traces of bacterial sequences that occur during sequencing projects of whole eukaryotic genomes. Therefore the researchers made quite some effort to ensure that the Wolbachia sequences were not an artefact:
To ensure that the Wolbachia sequences really come from the fly genome, the team treated the flies with antibiotics and then peered at the cells using microscopes to ensure that all Wolbachia DNA had been destroyed.

Lateral gene transfer is well accepted in the case of mitochondria and chloroplasts. During evolution genes have been transfered from the genomes of their ancestors to the genome of their eukaryotic host. However, it was assumed that this happened not very frequently. Since Hottop and Co-workers also identified Wolbachia sequences in the genomes of other insects and worms lateral gene transfer between endoymbiotic bacteria and there host seems to be quite frequent. If the same is true for Deuterostomia has to be seen. Still, I guess that the genomes of vertebrates will be critically re-evaluated.